Archive for July 6th, 2008

Today in my Bible reading plan I read Joshua 4 and the great story of the children of Israel crossing the Jordan into the promised land after an absence of over nearly 450 years.  I can’t imagine the excitement of that event, especially  for those who had spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness.  After they finally crossed, they took twelves stones and erected a monument of God’s power right there at the Jordan River.  The purpose of these standing stones was so that it would remind them and future generations of God’s mercy and power on that day.

What was really neat was that we celebrated the Lord’s Table today–the table of rememberance where we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again!  So our standing stone today in the church is the Table, the Supper!

After church, the younger children often come to me and recite a Bible verse that they learned in Sunday School.  Today, several from the same class quoted from Joshua 4 about the significance of those twelve stones.  I thought that was so neat–a reminder again from God  of how important it is for us to have standing stones in our lives that remind us of times of His powerful grace in our lives.

Finally, I read a chapter on the spiritual discipline of journaling today.  Journaling isn’t commanded in the Bible, but it is modeled–such as right there in Joshua where there is a spiritual recounting of the Lord’s great action on Israel’s behalf.  Journaling helps in remembering the Lord’s works for us.  The Psalmist wrote, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:11-12).  If we don’t write answers to prayers and God’s great acts down then we will often forget or need a great memory.  A journal is one of the best ways to keep fresh the memory of the Lord’s benefits and mighty deeds in my life.

So, those three snapshots from my life today–reading and hearing a child say Joshua 4, the observance of the Lord’s Table, and the chapter on journaling have made me ponder: what has God done for me that deserves to be remembered?  Not only for my sake but for the sake of those who will come behind me?  What has God done for you that deserves to be remembered?

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Steve Camp has two good quotes about our minds:

“Knowledge is power when you have the ability to think critically and when you have a standard by which to measure the veracity of the knowledge. What’s my point? Being childlike in our faith doesn’t mean checking our brains at the door. Avoiding works based salvation and faith doesn’t mean you stop striving for obedience. Critical thinking is hard work and we as believers are not doing enough of it… Make certain what you know can be measured and is true, even the experts in your life can be wrong.” – Rosemarie

“One of the greatest obstacles encountered in a teaching ministry is this idea, pervasive in the Christian Church, that there is no benefit to be had by the laity in serious study of the Word of God or in the study of theology. We have elevated to the level of an ideal, the idea of having a simple childlike faith… There is a close connection between simplicity and naivete. Believers who have not been deeply trained and matured in the things of God, are vulnerable and exposed to every wind of doctrine that blows through the Church… We are exposed to them because we simply do not have a mature understanding of the truth of God.” – R.C. Sproul

And read why Consumed thinks surfing the world wide web is making us stupid.  Here is just an excerpt:
“When we surf the web, we’re not participating in a passive forum. We’re swerving into the Autobahn. It’s not a passive medium. It is the definition of active. It has a pace to it, a feel, that encourages us to blitz through page after page, entry after entry, blog after blog. It doesn’t every really urge to slow down and think. It explodes our senses with content. Honestly, how does even the best book stand a chance?

I personally think that we who want to think and use our minds for God’s glory should preserve the careful reading of books. We should not buy into a culture that encourages us to prey on information and art. We should instead buy books, read them contemplatively, and pattern our mind to think hard and well about things. We should buy books not simply to take material out of them–a worthy act, one I’ve been paid to do–but to read them, to sit with them, and let them teach us. We should consider good books like wise, delightful grandparents, who require concentration, patience, and investment to benefit from. If we want to learn and to be able to concentrate on myriad tasks, we should not treat our “grandparents” with insolence by beginning a conversation with them, extracting what information we want, and then quickly and rudely leaving them. No, we should sit with them, talk with them, argue with them (it’s an analogy, not a reality), and learn from them. Book-reading that abuses books should be avoided; book-reading that ingests information, mulls over it, should be encouraged.

Two final notes. We should be careful about the Web. No, not just in terms of sex and time drain, though we must handle these things carefully. We should be careful about how much time we give to the web and to email. Are we a slave to our inboxes? Do we constantly surf the web, skimming page after page with a dull-eyed gloss? Are we letting the web shape us and the way we think as it robs us of our ability to concentrate and discipline ourselves? We’ve got to think about these things, and discipline our lives such that we, not the web, have mastery.”

What think you?

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Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears
The Bleeding Sacrifice in my behalf appears
Before the throne my surety stands my name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above, for me to intercede
His all redeeming love, His precious blood to plead
His blood atoned for all our race And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears, received on Calvary
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry “Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One
He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son
His Spirit answers to the blood And tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear
With confidence I now draw nigh And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

(Arise, My Soul, Arise by Charles Wesley)

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I am preaching through Zechariah currently and am learning so much.  I have not preached through the prophets much at all, but I trust that I am modeling for my people what the following quote is teaching:

“Perhaps the most neglected books of the Old Testament are the books of prophecy, especially the unfortunately named “Minor Prophets.”  The prophets contain some of the richest material in Scripture about the life, ministry, and supremacy of Jesus Christ.  As you study Isaiah or Zechariah, for example, remember that their prophecies could be fulfilled on multiple horizons.  Any given prophecy could have been fulfilled in one respect, in the prophet’s own day.  The same prophecy could also be “christologically” fulfilled in Jesus Christ. And then it could be “eschatologically” fulfilled, that is, occurring at the end of time in the consummation of all things.  Studying and understanding prophecy in this way helps us to emphasize the big picture of the Bible to deepen our knowledge of God.”–Thabiti Anyabwile, What is a Healthy Church Member, p. 34 under the second mark “A Healthy Church Member is a Biblical Theologian.

I want my people to see Christ and the great work of God in redemptive history as we work our way through Zechariah!  I also that they see the different horizons of these prophecies both in the immediate time frame of Zechariah, Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest as well as in Christ as well as in the final eschaton.

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