Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cycling, Favors, and Affirmation

The end of May coincided with the end of the Giro d'Italia. For those who don't know, which is probably most of you, it is one of cycling's three largest stage races, taking place during most of the month of May. (The Tour de France is the largest stage race, taking place beginning July 2nd.) During the Giro, Alberto Contador, who is right now the best stage racer in the world, dominated the race, winning stages and gaining time on his opponents during many stages. He would take home the pink jersey as overall winner of the race.

Notable during this race were a couple of occasions that he didn't take the opportunity to win stages. He literally gave up the chance to win during the day (recognizing he would likely win over the totality of the race) so that he could allow another individual, either someone who had made major efforts on the day, or a former teammate of his, to take the victory on that day. Here is one of those moments, when he catches his former teammate Paolo Tiralongo and allows him to win on the day (beginning about three minutes in).

This post is not to discuss the merits of Contador (who has a shady past from a sporting perspective), or to discuss cycling in general. This post is to show the desire in humanity to acknowledge a job well done, however one may acknowledge it.

Jess and I have recently been reading through Sam Crabtree's Practicing Affirmation which indicates that affirmation of others is biblical and essential to our relationships with others and God. When we affirm others, it builds them up as individuals and affirms their status as image-bearers of God. This affirmation, though, is no mere ego-booster. It is a reward (a carrot of sorts) for those who are doing as God would have them. While Contador was merely affirming these other men as cyclists, when we as Christians affirm people, we should affirm them as image-bearers of God. Even those who are not Christians still bear the image of God (see Genesis 9:6).

The key to practicing affirmation in a godly way is to affirm the work of God in a person. For the Christian, this is easy. To borrow a tag-line through my friend Joel, it could be as simple as "Go God through Joel!" or "God is really helping you grow in patience." For the child, it looks much the same, though with an underlying recognition that the child is not yet in Christ (in most cases). For the non-Christian, this is a little bit more tricky. For someone who is open to spiritual matters, the comments could be similar to the statement "I believe God is really helping you to be more patient." For someone who is not open to such matters, or for the teachers in the public school system, it's a little more difficult.

Throughout it all, though, the recognition must be on the fact that the impetus for change is not in the individual person, but in the grace of God. As Paul so eloquently stated in 1 Corinthians 15:10, "By the grace of God I am what I am." It is only by God's grace we are who we are, and His abundant grace in us should be affirmed for His glory. Paul is an example of consistent affirmation. Perhaps Philippians 1 is the best example of this, where Paul grounds so much of what positive things he has to say about the Philippians in the work of God in Christ. When our affirmations look like this, we honor the person (which is key and deserved), but we more importantly honor the God behind it all.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Radical Together Tuesdays

"Nowhere in Scripture has God promised to bless my plans or the plans of anyone else in the church, no matter how innovative or creative they may be. Neither has God promised to bless us based solely on our motives. Sure, we are supposed to do everything for the glory of God, but that doesn't mean that everything we do for his glory is assured of his blessing.

There is only one thing that God has promised to bless, and that is his plan. He has given us his plan in his Word." David Platt, Radical Together, p. 53

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Radical Together Tuesdays

"God's design in his Word is not to provide all the practical guidelines, parenting tips, leadership advice, and financial counsel that Americans are looking for in the twenty-first century. Instead, the purpose of God's Word is to transform people in every country and every century in the image of Jesus. The Bible is sufficient to accomplish this task, and God knows this is what people need most." -David Platt, Radical Together, p. 50

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Radical Together Tuesdays

"Christians would be foolish to make radical sacrifices or take radical risks in their lives simply because someone in the church has suggested it. That's why dependence on God's Word is his design for all of us, not just leaders. As members of churches, we stake our lives - and his church - on truth from God, not thoughts from men and women. For this reason, members of churches should desire and, in a sense, demand nothing less than continual feasts on God's Word in the church. This alone will satisfy, strengthen, and spread the church in the world." -David Platt, Radical Together, p. 45

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Radical Together Tuesdays

"According to countless books and conferences, you and I need to be innovative and creative. We need an entrepreneurial spirit combined with an engaging persona. Strangely, though, none of these qualities are mentioned in the Bible as qualifications for leadership in the church. Instread, Jesus tells all of his followers that, in order to make disciples, they must be able to teach people to obey God's Word. Scripture is clear that any leader who wants to unleash the people of God in the church for the glory of God in the world must simply be competent to communicate and faithful to follow the Word of God." -David Platt, Radical Together, p. 41

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Radical Together Tuesdays

"The gospel is the key - and the only sustainable motivation - to sacrificial living. The gospel reminds us that each of us was once a child of wrath, filled with evil desires and unable to control our sinfulness. Yet God sought us and saved us. In love, he adopted us as his sons and daugthers." -David Platt, Radical Together, p. 35

Monday, May 23, 2011

Practical Theology for Women: Faith Works!

In Chapter 3 of Practical Theology for Women, Wendy Horger Alsup discusses examples of unfaithfulness and and faithfulness in scripture. She starts with unfaithfulness in the Old Testament.


The root word behind "unfaithful," "unfaithfully," and "unfaithfulness" means "falsehood," treachery," "trespass," and "broke faith." It is used in the Old Testament as a warning against unfaithfulness and to describe acts of unfaithfulness. Moses showed unfaithfulness in Meribah-kadesh when God told him to speak to the rock yet he struck the rock instead (Deuteronomy 32:15). It wasn't the act of hitting a rock that was sin, it was his obvious disobedience that was sin. There are countless instances in the Old Testament that describe God asking different acts of faith from different people. Something that might be considered an act of faithfulness in one case may be an act of unfaithfulness in another. In Moses' case, he knew the difference and chose to disobey God.

Acts of faith come from God working in us. Alsup shares that she's "talked with many women who...are afraid of the kind of personal relationship with God that might result in him requiring something special from them." So is this kind of attitude reflecting simply a lack of faith? It turns out it isn't that simple. A lack of faith isn't just a weakness, it's sin and God views it as "treachery - sin with an accompanying stab in the back."

In the New Testament we hear Christ using the phrase "you of little faith" several times. The word behind this phrase means "little faith" or "trusting too little." Alsup says "we get the idea of having little conviction of the truth of something or someone."

Faith directly affects the practical issues in our lives. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus even ties having little faith to worrying. (Matthew 6:30-31) This was demonstrated time and time again by Jesus' disciples. They witnessed him perform miracles countless times yet they seemed to forget his power when a new situation arose. But though we refer to the disciples here, can't you see yourself in their place? I can. God provides for us more times than we know, yet we worry when we're met face to face with a new trial. Why is this a problem? Alsup explains:

"The problem is not that we have never seen God provide for us before. The problem is not that he's asking us to respond in a way that is radically different from previous situations; the problem is that we forget the ways he's proven himself in the past and fret over how we are going to provide for ourselves in the new situation. Exhibiting little conviction in the truth of God's promises is especially troublesome when he's proven himself faithful so many times before."


Now that we've seen examples of unfaithfulness, let's talk about faithfulness. Alsup talks about the centurion in Matthew 9 whose servant needed healing. He asked Jesus to heal his servant but deemed himself unworthy for Jesus to come into his house. He said "...only say the word and my servant will be healed." The centurion's conviction of the truth of Christ's power was so strong that he knew when he got home his servant would be healed. Just like the examples of unfaithfulness, there are numerous examples of faithfulness in scripture like that of the centurion. Examples of people who know God is true to his word.

In each situation, one common theme sticks out: these people demonstrated their faith, or lack thereof. And that's how it still is today. We can proclaim our faith in God all day, but if nothing in our lives backs that up, our claims are null and void. Our faith is shown by our actions, not just our words.

When life gets tough, do you respond with fear and anxiety? Or does your response reflect what you know to be true about God? That while we are unfaithful, he is faithful and he will fulfill his promises.

May we live fully convicted of the truth of God and may this truth be demonstrated through his work in us.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Radical Together Tuesdays

The basis of our salvation - Christ - is a gracious gift from God. The means of our salvation - faith - is a gracious gift from God. And the fruit of our salvation - work - is indeed a gracious gift from God. In this way, the One who gives the grace ultimately gets the glory. -David Platt, Radical Together, pg. 27

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Radical Together Tuesdays

For the next few weeks, I'm going to be sharing quotes from my recent reading of David Platt's Radical Together. I know a few people who will be reading this book during the upcoming months. If you would like to know more about the book, then check this out:

So to begin, I'll begin where Platt begins, with a question of sorts. With all my quotes, they're from an advance reading copy, so you may want to double check page numbers.

"If we want to unleash the people of God in the church for the glory of God in the world, we need to let go of some good things. ... Are you and I personally willing to put everything in our lives on the table for Christ to determine what needs to stay and what needs to go?" pg. 19

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Greener Grass Conspiracy - A Review

Contentment for Christians is difficult. Often we look at the world around us and wonder if God really cares. We desire to look ahead to what is coming next, that next great thing that will finally satisfy us. We want something else in this world to make us happy. We complain when we don't get what we want. We live our lives as if it is all about us. Underneath all of these issue lies an idolatry of the heart that doesn't value who God is and what He has already done in Christ.

Stephen Altrogge deals with these ideas in his latest book The Greener Grass Conspiracy. Stephen speaks from experience about the struggles that he has dealt with in so many ways throughout his life. However, he does it with his typical humor and honesty that captivates the mind and the heart. It is with his humor that he opens one's heart and mind to what He and the Bible have to say to our contentment issues.

The beauty of the gospel shines forth throughout Altrogge's work. It's no accident that so much of the book is about the unpacking of the gospel. The gospel has great implications in the area of contentment. Throughout the book the main idea seems to be that when we see the riches we have in the gospel, our lives have the possibility to be content both now and naturally into eternity. The only way that kind of contentment can come is when we see the great beauty of what Christ has done.

It seems as if this book will quickly become the contemporary go-to book regarding contentment from a Christian perspective. Nothing that this world has to give us will provide the deep lasting contentment that the gospel of Jesus Christ can. Nothing else to which we can turn can mean nearly us much to us as Christ. Altrogge shows us even more how true this is.

If there is any weakness in this book, it is in the chapter on suffering. Contentment in suffering is an issue that well needs addressing. However, by discounting any suffering Altrogge has had in the past, some readers could potentially check out during this section. Nonetheless, his look at suffering is honest and excellent for those who have yet to encounter seasons of suffering.

All in all, any book that calls the reader to go deeper into the truth of the gospel and see the beauty of Christ's work is a good book. This book simultaneously does that and allows the reader to be able to look through that prism of Christ's work into their own heart and find contentment in Jesus.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011


It's going to be a Getty-kind of weekend in celebration of the Easter holiday. An appropriate beginning-

The Easter Story Matters

Eric Metaxas (author of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's biography) has a short article over at Fox News well worth reading about the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer against the reign of Adolf Hitler.

He writes:
How is it that one man slunk to his death defeated and is today despised by the whole world, while another man went to his death with God's peace, and is today everywhere hailed as a hero, as one of the few Germans with the courage to see what was happening and to speak against it and act against it, even at the cost of his own life?
There's much to say by way of an answer, but since the Easter season is upon us, let's start there.
Bonhoeffer believed the Easter story. He actually believed the unbelievable story of God's coming to earth and dying and then rising from the dead to defeat death forever. He believed that because this was true, he need never fear death. All he needed to worry about was doing the right thing and trusting God with the results. And that he did.

Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Some Church Planting Pre-Conference Notes

On Tuesday we arrived in Chicago early so we could register and take advantage of a church planting pre-conference that was being held that morning. What follows are some notes from that session.

Dave Harvey (Sovereign Grace Ministries, author Rescuing Ambition) talked at length about the calling to plant. Here are some of his thoughts:

-Go vertical. Talk to the one who calls.

-Proclaiming the word of God is essential to planting.

-Planters must have a faith in God that goes beyond trial and difficulty.

-When there is dissension on whether one is called to plant or not, it's important to examine those who agree and disagree with the call.

-The planting process is vigorous in and of itself and weeds out individuals.

-Care for one's wife is the window into a man's ministry.

Mike McKinley (9marks, pastor Guliford Baptist Church, author Church Planting is for Wimps) then spoke at length about the importance of the word of God. His book is well worth reading for a good look at planting (really replanting) and evaluating what is really important.

-The preaching (really the proclamation of the gospel) bears fruit. (See Colossians 1:5-6)

-Communicating the Word bears much.

-The pulpit is key. People need as much contact with God's word as possible.

-A misplaced pragmatism can drive out the Word (see Acts 6 for the counter to this).

-The people in his church who were there before the replant now have a renewed sense of God's power and recognition that they truly matter to Christ.

Tullian Tchividjian (pastor Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, author Surprised by Grace) spoke about his story at Coral Ridge. If you get a chance to read his blog or check out anything about his story, you will understand how he has come to marvel at the gospel during the most difficult period of his life. Here are some of his thoughts.

-Gospel preaching is more than just an evangelistic add-on.

-The gospel is justifying grace and sanctifying grace. There's no pressure to perform.

-The gospel frees you to rejoice and revel in your expendability.

-Because Jesus was someone, you're free to be no one. Having the gospel means having all the approval we'll ever need.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Greener Grass Conspiracy

"Greener Grass Conspiracy" Trailer - Stephen Altrogge from Crossway on Vimeo.

I just received this in the mail this past week. I'm about to start into it for the next few days. There will be a review forthcoming.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Early Reflections on TGC 11

Over the next few days I'm sure that I will be posting some thoughts regarding my recent trip to Chicago to attend the 2011 Gospel Coalition National Conference. Great times, great worship, great speakers. I may even have a few books to give away on the blog, thanks to the thoughts of a good friend.

One of the reasons that I had the desire to head to Chicago this year were the workshops that were being offered. A wonderful variety of leaders were sharing on a diverse array of topics. The one that stuck out to me from day one, though, was a workshop entitled Justification vs. Self-Justification by Ray Ortlund. In my life, I have a tendency to justify myself by other things other than Christ. However, that is not the way we are justified - it is Christ alone who justifies us.

With that said, here is Ray's paper that he presented at the conference. One thing that you miss until audio becomes available was the way his actions and answers to questions following his presentation showed the work our glorious God has done in him - you can tell this man loves Christ and has been captured by the gospel. You can find Ray's blog here with his normally concise and beautiful posts.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Jess has some wallpaper featured over at Challies today. Download here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Two Craftsman, God's Glory

Other than the priests of God, the first people mentioned, and, in many ways, anointed by God for His work in Exodus are two craftsmen. They are set apart by God for His work to make the things that He commands His people to have in order to worship Him. These men, Bezalel and Oholiab, are appointed by God to do His work in the area of craftsmanship. As Exodus 31:1-6 reads,

The LORD said to Moses, "See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you..."

These men are given the Spirit of God specifically for the purposes of creating things that will bring God worship and glory. This is where we can learn from this. God's Spirit rests upon these men in the work that they do. It's not priestly or pastoral work. It's not working as a church musician. It's not working in the Christian publishing industry. It's making tables, tents, utensils, lampstands, etc. Sure, these items will be used in the worship of God. But these items are built by two men with God-given ability for making these items. They do it to the best of their potential. And ultimately they do it for God.

No matter what our area of expertise or work, if done well, it brings glory to God and shows where our treasure is. Some people may work as "common" laborers their entire life, but if they do so honestly and whole-heartedly, they serve the Lord, if they are indeed the Lord's. It matters not what we do (other than sin), but whom we do it for.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. -Colossians 3:17

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What We're About

Been a quiet season here on the blog, with life and a mission trip behind us (and before us, ha). But here are a couple videos, one of late, and one a favorite.

G.O.S.P.E.L. from Humble Beast Records on Vimeo.


And this is a favorite, also what we're about.

(10 imaginary points if you either aren't distracted by or notice the misspelling.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

He is the Lord

Throughout Leviticus 19, there runs a refrain near the end of pretty much every statute and command that God gives. This refrain means much. For example, from verses 11 and 12: "You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord."

At first glance, this could be merely an affirmation of God's status in this world of pluralism and competing passions. However, I believe the purpose for this refrain goes so much deeper. In it, we find the motivation for completing the desires of God for the believer.

Our motivation for living out the desires of God is not merely obedience for obedience's sake. It's not even obedience for God's sake. Our obedience is rooted in who God is and what God has so graciously done. So for God to say "I am the Lord" to the Israelites is for Him to say "Because of who I am, this is what you should do. This is how you thus honor me. And if you don't do these things, then you are showing the world that you don't honor me."

We can debate the constraints of the Levitical law on the Christian, however, what we cannot debate is this: if we are living for God and to honor God, and we are in Christ, our lives will look very similar to that which He commands us to do.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Practical Theology for Women: What Is Faith?

Here's some insight from the second chapter of Wendy Horger Alsup's book Practical Theology for Women:
"Many Christians in today's churches seem much more convinced of the reality of their problems than the reality of their God. Our cell phone bill, the transmission in our car, or the coworker in the next cubicle consumes our thoughts. Whether we are single or married, stay-at-home moms or working women, we tend to get so tied up in the minutiae of life that we miss the biggest truth, the ultimate reality. God must be big in our minds. God needs to be at the forefront of our thought processes. He needs to be the first consideration in all of our daily circumstances, not the last resort that we consider after exhausting all other options. Believing in his existence - focusing with trust on his reality - is fundamental to a faith that pleases God." (p. 33)
Did you read that? Last resort. How many times do we stress out over ruined plans, tests, or just a bad day and try so hard figure out what we are going to do about it? News flash: we don't have to get through it alone and we aren't supposed to try! And letting God lead us through these trials produces more rewards than if we had never gone through a trial at all. Alsup speaks of a friend's own challenge with the weight of these trials and rewards:
"I know one friend who was reading a book about walking deeper with Jesus. The author made a comment along the lines of 'don't read any farther if you don't want to be challenged in your faith.' My friend said she put the book down right then. She believed God exists. But she thinks he lives to ask hard things of the people who follow him too closely. Whatever rewards he promises for those who diligently seek him are not nearly enough to warrant her trust in him." (p. 34)
Though our trials may seem endless and fruitless, the journey is part of the reward. Good things await if we are in Christ.
"We have God's precious promise that he's going to work the hard things in our lives for our good, and part of that good is that we will be changed more and more to reflect Christ's character and glory. The trials and struggles we experience are like the refiner's fire under a pot of gold. The heat brings impurities to the top to be scraped off by the refiner, leaving the gold in a purer form. When God heats up our lives, working out our pride, selfishness, and general wrong thinking, the resulting purified life is so much sweeter." (p. 36)
May you find joy in the trials and strength in the Savior and when all is said and done, may your reflection appear as that of Christ Jesus.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Losing in Christ

"Rediscovering the gospel enabled me to see that, because Jesus was strong for me, I was free to be weak. Because Jesus won for me, I was free to lose. And it is only when you are free to lose that you are free to live with unbounded courage and risk and sacrifice.

Life cannot beat a man who doesn't care if he loses. When you are afraid to lose, circumstances will kill your joy and make you a slave. But if you are in Christ, your identity is secure and you are free to give everything you have. You have nothing to prove or protect." -Tullian Tchividjian "Giving Thought to Gospel 'Math': Why Jesus + Nothing = Everything"

Monday, February 21, 2011

Real Preaching

"Expository preaching begins with the preacher's determination to present and explain the text of the Bible to his congregation. This simple starting point is a major issue of division in contemporary homiletics, for many preachers - from Harry Emerson Fosdick onward - assume that they must begin with a human problem or question and then work backward to the biblical text. On the contrary, expository preaching begins with the text and works from the text to apply its truth to the lives of believers."

-Al Mohler, He Is Not Silent pg. 66

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sweeter Than Honey

"The law of the LORD is perfect,
     reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
     making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
     rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
     enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean,
     enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
     and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
     even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
     and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
     in keeping them there is great reward."
                                           Psalm 19:7-11

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Recently I've realized that I have a peculiar interest in death. Don't get me wrong - I believe with Paul that to live is Christ and die is gain. However, I have no real obsession with passing from this world soon. What I have discovered though is the inherent understanding about death that it can come at any moment.

Think about it. Only one beat of the heart or only one breath separates each of us from death. Only one second or one moment in time could be separating us from where we will spend eternity. This moment comes unexpectedly for many and expectedly for a few. Some people live with a conscious recognition of their own mortality, while others deny unto death that they will die.

I've come to believe that we will live life with more urgency and passion when we come to understand our own frailty. We will evangelize with more urgency. We will care and love more deeply. Death comes to all and so therefore we cannot live as if it will not come to us.

Psalm 39 has given me some of this understanding of our frailty. Verses 4 and 5 share with us these words: "O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!"

David here asks for the kind of understanding of his frailty and ultimately his smallness versus the immensity and power of God. When we understand how quickly life can be taken away, the life that we do have will be used more preciously. Sadly, even with an understanding of how fleeting my life is, I still live with little urgency. I shudder to think of how I would live otherwise. May we learn the measure of our days and use them for the glory of God.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Christianity Isn't for Celebrities

This morning on the radio I heard how Justin Bieber's latest project, a movie, was going to include a Bible study associated with it. For more information see here. I was fascinated by this, because, like Ozzy Osbourne I didn't really know what a Bieber was. (Well, I knew who he was but honestly had no clue he was a Christian.) No, this fascinated me because the movie from what I can understand has no indication of his faith at all. It's an interesting look into (Christian) pop culture to see what Christian celebrities do to promote their faith.

Now to the somewhat provocative title of this post. American Christianity for whatever reason likes to make role models out of popular Christians and put celebrities who are Christians up on a pedestal of sorts. However, the problem lies in that so many of these Christians we set up to fail with even the slightest of sins. For men like Josh Hamilton, the Texas Rangers outfielder, whom the Christian culture likes to claim as one of our own (and rightfully so, as he seems to be a genuine Christian man), we set them up to fail with the slightest sin and relapse into an addiction. We must remember, as Shai Linne says in the song Spurgeon, "the best man is a man at best."

This week at our small group we looked at most of Luke 18. In it there are two tales of men which applies to the Christian celebrity culture. The first is the tale of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. In it, the Pharisee flouts his goodness, while the tax collector proclaims his sinfulness. The literal translation of the tax collector's phrase would be "God, be merciful to me the sinner."

Later in Luke 18, verses 18-30 to be exact, there is the story of the rich man who comes to Jesus trying to find the way for eternal life. This man is unwilling to forsake his identity being in his riches. He is unwilling to let go of his riches and grab onto Jesus. He is unwilling to set his riches to the side in order to focus fully on Christ.

This just proves that our identity must rest on being in Christ and not on any of the things of the world, even any of the creations of God Himself. Our identity is to be found solely in who we are in Christ. Our identity isn't to be a celebrity, nor is it to be rich, nor is it to be athletic, nor is it to be a musician... Our identity is in Christ.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Just Shut Up!

If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. -Proverbs 30:32

Many times we find ourselves at points where we pointlessly pontificate over various positions that we hold or want to ponder. Far too often at these times we talk and talk and talk without giving much thought to the words that are coming out of our mouth. We talk and almost enjoy being right about whatever it is that we are discussing. We talk and we enjoy having the last word on that which we are working through. We get to a certain point where we talk almost with the purpose of hearing our own voice.

Far too often I find myself talking and loving what I hear. That is, my own voice. I find myself clever. I find myself seeking out being right and getting the last word on things. Unfortunately, this only feeds into my own pride. My pride always rears its ugly head when it comes to discussions of seeming importance.

One of the most important things that I have learned and am learning is something which this verse in Proverbs brings forward in my mind. It is important to learn when it is appropriate to just shut up. I have gotten myself in far too many bad situations in my life with nothing more than my mouth. Learning to shut up, or merely just put my hand on my mouth, would save myself from much trouble. In addition, it would keep me from falling prey to the sin of pride in exalting myself. My words are not what matters. Keeping myself close to God's words, living them out, matters so much more.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Common Grace in the World Today

Many of you have no doubt seen the video following. If you haven't, from someone who typically does not find this show particularly great, this clip is no doubt worth most of your five minutes.

Common grace - defined by Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology as "the grace of God by which he gives people innumerable blessings that are not part of salvation." This would include any actions that would be in line with the way God would have people to act in the world. God in His grace often works in people to have them do things that are more moral or "righteous" than they could be.

As Romans 2:14-15 says, "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness..." God has written on the hearts of humanity much of the moral code that He requires. However, humanity has suppressed these truths through our sin (see Romans 1:18-32). Therefore, sinful humanity's lives do not often reflect God's truth.

With all that said, this man's decision to stay with his fiancée is a God-honoring decision. God in His common grace allowed this decision to reflect the truth of God. There is however no indication that this man is a believer in Christ. Pray for him to see Christ for who He truly is. May I also be able to reflect God in all areas like this man did in this single area.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Word to Those Who Preach - and Those Who Listen

The only authority with which you can speak is the authority of divine commission. …Everybody is commissioned to be a witness to Jesus Christ. Not everyone is commissioned to be a pastor and teacher. The fact that a number of individuals have banged up against a pulpit to the distraction of their own souls and to the detriment of their own people is evident throughout the entire nation. Better to be a king, or a doctor, or a farmer, or a plowman, to the glory of God than to end up in this position uncommissioned, uncalled, unsent.

–Alistair Begg on Acts 26 Nov. 17, 2010 at SBTS “Preaching the Gospel from Acts”

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Passover and True Value

So they decreed to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that the people should come and keep the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel, at Jerusalem, for they had not kept it as often as prescribed. So couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with letters from the king and his princes, as the king had commanded... So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. However, some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the LORD. -2 Chronicles 30:5-6;10-12

In 2 Chronicles 30, Hezekiah proclaims that the Passover must be upheld(even though a month late). He decided to share this Passover with all the people of God. This meant his nation of Judah and the nation of Israel, which had split with Judah. Hezekiah risks political turmoil, as the nations of Judah and Israel had had near constant turmoil since their split. He risks his own reputation on the success of an event not seen since the time of Solomon.

The people of Israel by and large mock this grand scheme of Hezekiah to celebrate the Lord's Passover. The people don't want to hear what the couriers have to say. The people are not very receptive to the news Hezekiah sends. However, some people of God did heed the word that Hezekiah sent through the messengers. They risk scorn from their neighbors. They risk a trip into hostile territory. They risk much.

But everyone who participates gains much. They participate in the worship of the one true God. They understand that the one God who is worthy of worship is the one God who can be worshiped through the temple in Jerusalem. They recognize that the Passover honors Him for His faithfulness to them in past generations and can show them that He will be faithful in future generations. They see that He is the One worth risking everything for.

Jesus is the One who is worth risking all for in our lives. His value far surpasses that of anything of which we could even think.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Little by Little

I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. -Exodus 23:29-30

Recently as I was reading through the book of Exodus, I came across the listing of the laws God gave to the Israelites, beginning with the Ten Commandments. Most of this section is easy to find oneself browsing over, but for some reason I read verse 30 over three times. In the process I found God speaking in the midst of His decrees about the land that they would successfully conquer.

God waited for His people to grow stronger until they would inhabit the entirety of the land. He didn't give them all of the land immediately. He took His time, allowing them to prosper and become more numerous so that they could fully possess the land. If God had allowed them to possess the entire land as a weaker nation, they could have very well been overrun by the beasts or the land grown beyond their ability to cultivate it.

How does this even apply to the Christian now at all? We see how God works in our lives. God doesn't drive all of our sin out the moment we become bound for the promised land and saved into the kingdom of God. He doesn't take away our temptations and sins immediately, and leave us to our own pride for our accomplishments. He doesn't take away our sin completely and let us fall prey to our own works to keep ourselves pure. He takes time in sanctifying us to the point where we realize that we must be absolutely dependent on Him for everything. Everything. When we won't fall prey to our pride or sense of accomplishment in getting rid of sin, then God will allow us freedom from that which could reign over us. He is the only One who has rightful reign of us.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Suffering Well for His Glory

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. -James 1:12

This story captivated me a few months ago when I first saw it.

A Story of Living Hope: John Spiro from Covenant Life Church on Vimeo.

This is a man of God who persevered under one of the most severe physical trials one can undergo. This is a man whose hope remained in the One who took away the wrath he deserved and gave him the salvation he didn't deserve. And this is a man, John Spiro, who has now persevered to the point of meeting his Savior on Sunday. People like this leave me marveling at Jesus for the work He does. Blessed be our God who empowers saints like this who suffer well to show His glory.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Practical Theology for Women: Why Should I Care?

Have you ever thought about the nature of God? Have you ever thought about theology? Is it something you are pretty comfortable with, or is it something you think only pastors and seminary students should think about and learn? Until about a year ago, I thought theology was only for "smart people." Sure, I enjoy learning about God and think it's something we as Christians should do often, but theologian was not a word I would use to describe myself.  But the truth is, if we are in Christ, we are theologians! 

And what is theology anyway? Theology is, among other things, the study of the nature of God. (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language). A couple reasons some Christians don't consider themselves theologians are that they think they aren't smart enough or that they don't want to put in the effort. However, we are not only able to learn the deep things of God, we are called to do this through our own personal relationship with God through Christ.

In Chapter 1 of her book, Practical Theology for Women, Wendy Horger Alsup shares: "If you know Christ as your Savior, you have the same Holy Spirit residing in your heart, the same Word of God at your fingertips, and the same access to the presence of God as the wisest and most godly spiritual leader you know of today." Our access to God is not through our pastor or a seminary student, it is through Jesus Christ, so to rely on someone else to teach us the deep things of God is a "copout," as Alsup says.

We can't expect to grow in our relationship with Christ unless we know Him. Alsup suggests, "we have no excuse to remain ignorant of His character. Seek God's face. Understand His character. Pursue knowledge of Him, for apart from the 'fear of the Lord' and the 'knowledge of the Holy One' (Proverbs 9:10) we have no hope for being a wise mother, sister, wife, or friend." Or a wise father, brother, or husband.

If you know Christ, you have all you need to learn the deep things of God. And we can't truly live a life that reflects the nature of God unless we study and know the nature of God.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

He Ransoms Many

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. -Mark 10:45

I've long been fascinated by the many "mission statements" of Jesus. He gave several, including among others, Luke 19:10 and John 18:37 (in Jesus' answer to Pilate). However, the one that has long interested me is the one in Mark 10:45.

This verse has been used for many purposes, as a justification for us to serve more and be humble, as a symbol of the love of God, but the most obvious point of this passage is that Jesus intentionally gave up His own life to ransom many sinners from the entrapment of sin and death. It was not a plan B that sent Christ to the cross. He knew what His purpose was all along. His followers knew too, if they had only listened. But then again there were so many reasons for them to think otherwise.

However, Jesus was true to His mission. He gave up His life to ransom many sinners. As gruesome as it is, the cross was the intentional work of God to redeem. It was needed to bring glory to God through the salvation of many sinners.

The cross is not merely an example of God's love for us. The cross is an example of how bad our sin was that God's Son had to die to ransom sinners. Yet He did it. And in the cross then we know that God loves those "with whom he is pleased." (Luke 2:14) What pleases God is understanding the need we have because of our sin and trusting Christ's work to take away our sin and credit to us His standing with God.

The death of Jesus was needed. It could not be subverted. It could not be avoided. He died for our ransom.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What is Christ's?

There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!

-Abraham Kuyper

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Notes from David Platt's Breakout Session

One week ago, a group of us were headed home from Passion 2011.  Today I'd like to recount a session that was a personal favorite as far as times of teaching and time at Passion period.

Jesus seemingly tries to talk people out of following Him.

Luke 14:25-33 - Jesus says here that one has to hate their mother, take up their cross or instrument of torture, and give it all up to follow Him.  There's no ABC here (as easy as Admit, Believe, Confess).

Luke 18:18-30 - The rich young ruler walks away after Jesus challenges Him regarding His wealth.

We are challenged to value the Lord so highly that our relationships of this world look like hate.

The Lord has great worth and value.

Throughout Luke's gospel we see throughout from chapter 9 onward that He's headed toward Jerusalem.  He's headed to the cross.  This is no accident.  This is no plan B.  As Jesus is headed to the cross, He goes with the realization that He will drink the cup of His Father's wrath.  Psalm 75, amongst others, was mentioned here.

Luke 9:57-62 was his main text.  '57As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." 59To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." 60And Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61Yet another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home." 62Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."'

1- He is worthy of all trust (verses 57-58)

He is the end - not the means to an end!  He is what is more valuable than anything.  Is He enough for you?  Is He all-sufficient?

2- He is worthy of all our plans and dreams (verses 59-60)

Our position is merely given by God to advance the kingdom of God through the spread of the gospel.  For the Christian, we have sacrificed our right to determine the direction of our lives by giving them over for God's purposes and His glory.

3- He is worthy of all our affections (verses 61-62)

We should have total and undivided affection for Jesus.  He demands our complete devotion.  He should be the supreme desire of our heart.  To know God deeply yields loving Him passionately.

Matthew 13:44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

This man knows what He has found.  Only Christ is worth losing everything for.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Sugar Cookies

All you have to do is put these together; no baking from scratch required! Here's what you need:

1 package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 bag chocolate chips
1 package candy canes or hard peppermint candy
1 hammer, mallet, or your fists (or a food processor if you'd like to keep your hands and have less mess)
1 coffee mug wide enough for the cookies
1 bowl for the candy pieces
Parchment paper or waxed paper (optional - it just makes things almost a million times easier)


Preheat oven to 350º.

Cut parchment paper to fit baking sheet and place onto baking sheet. *Parchment paper is oven safe. Waxed paper is NOT oven safe, so skip this step if you are using waxed paper.

Roll out the dough into walnut sized balls and place onto cookie sheet. Gently flatten the cookies with a flat-bottomed cup or other flat surface. Bake for 7 - 11 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow cookies to cool for about a minute, and then place them on a cooling rack so you can bake some more cookies!
While those are baking, place candy pieces into a ziptop bag or food processor, crush into teeny tiny pieces and place in a bowl. Fill the coffee mug about 3/4 of the way full with chocolate chips. Melt in microwave in increments of 30 seconds, stirring between each heating, until smooth. Tear off some more parchment paper or waxed paper for the finished product.

When cookies are completely cool, dip halfway into melted chocolate, and then into crushed peppermint pieces. Lay on parchment or waxed paper and let cool. 

Repeat until you run out of ingredients!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Love Little or Love Much?

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven - for she loved much.  But he who is forgiven little, loves little. -Luke 7:47

This verse has been running through my head quite a bit for the last few days.  It's something that has struck me as so true of the Christian life.

Jesus here is speaking of a sinful woman who came to the house of a Pharisee with whom He was eating.  She was wiping His feet with her tears, rubbing them with her hair, and anointing them with ointment. 

Now here's the push.  She understood that her her sins were great, as Jesus not-so-subtly noted.  Therefore, because her sins were forgiven, she loved Him much.  She grasped that she was a great debtor in the presence of the One who had forgiven her debts and she could do nothing but overflow with love to Him.

Here's where this has taken root in my life - no one is forgiven little!  All sin makes us guilty before God.  All sin is worthy of His condemnation and wrath.  All sin is a stench to the One who desires nothing but perfection.  Therefore great are all of our sins.  For the Christian who has been forgiven, this means that we have been forgiven much because our sins are extensive.

Greater yet though is the One who has forgiven us these sins.  Therefore we can and should do nothing but overflow with love for Jesus, our Savior.  This love comes out of a great forgiveness given by our great Savior.  In my life I've seen this play out as I have examined the scriptures and have come to learn more and more about the grandeur, greatness, and holiness of God.  In the process, I have come to see how great and subversive my sins are to God and understand how much I have been forgiven.  Love for God has become greater and greater in this great sinner's life.  O how great the forgiveness of Jesus!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Welcome to the Hardesty family blog!  That's our name, but really, at the heart of things, it's all about another Name - the Name of the One who is greater than us, and yet has redeemed us.  To God be the glory and may we glorify the Name of Jesus.

What this blog will look like is yet fully to be determined.  My lovely wife Jessica will likely post a few pictures of her own taking from time to time.  She likes music, so there may be a video or two, or maybe even 25 days of them during the Christmas season.  She'll probably link to a few items of interest regarding biblical womanhood.  There may even be a recipe or two.

My part of the blog will be a little bit different.  I read quite a few books, so I'm sure there will be a book review or two.  I'll definitely want to post a couple meditations on scriptures that I have plenty of time each day to think through.  There may be an examination or two of current trends in the faith.  I'll also post some videos and links of importance.  If you have any other thoughts, you can always leave a comment.

All in all, it will be a fairly mixed bag of items.  We're looking to post at least one to two items per week.

No matter what though, we're grateful for this first look, but remember, and help us remember, that this is all for the glory of His Name.