My vocation has become clearer as the years go by: to study the unchanging God without something else to do, some pragmatic reason or result. This is what I feel most called to do: SIMPLY ENJOY THE STUDY OF GOD – not write about it, not view it in relation to its political residue or imagine that my opinions will have some visible social effect. THE JOY OF INQUIRY INTO GOD IS A SUFFICIENT END IN ITSELF, not only as a means to some practical consequence.
– Thomas C. Oden, The Rebirth of Orthodoxy, p. 95
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) The thoughts that dominate our minds determine our character, and eventually our destiny. What we think, we become. GIGO. If we harbor impure thoughts, our character, speech and deeds also become impure. However, if we are pure in heart, we will see him and become holy like him, because what we behold, that we become. That is why we are told to “guard our hearts with all diligence, for out of the heart are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) The outcome of our life – our destiny – depends on the kind of thoughts that we allow to reign in our hearts and minds. As Paul says in Romans 8:5-6, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Continue reading
Here are the books I’ve read this year:
- Calvin’s Institutes (edited by Lane & Osborne)
- N. Stithatos’ On Spiritual Knowledge
- Shakespeare’s Macbeth (nth reading)
- Kevin Young’s Taking God at His Word
- Thielicke’s A Little Exercise for Young Theologians (nth reading)
- Lennox’ God & Stephen Hawking
- Rehnman’s Divine Discourse
- Roger Lancelyn Green’s Myths of the Norsemen
- Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour (vol. 3)
- Ascetic Discourse by St. Neilous the Ascetic
- Bonhoeffer’s Christ the Centre
- M. Haykin’s Jonathan Edwards: The Holy Spirit in Revival
- John Murray’s Commentary on Romans
- McDonald’s The Firm
- The Philokalia (vol. 4)
- Jeff Goin’s The Art of Work
- Homer’s The Iliad (Fagles’ translation)
- Heckscher’s Woodrow Wilson
Some of these books I’ve been reading for years: I read, I put it down, later (sometimes months later) I pick it up again, and so on and so forth, until I finally finish it. I’m glad I’ve finally finished Woodrow Wilson – whew! Next in line are the three volumes of Manchester’s The Last Lion (a biography of Winston Churchill). Hope to finish in 2016!
THE ELEMENTS OF PRAYER (Matthew 6:9-15)
INTRODUCTION: Prayer is supposed to be as natural as breathing for Christians, but for many of us prayer is difficult. We do not know how to pray as we ought (Romans 8:26). That is why we need to be taught how to pray, and this is precisely what the Lord did for his disciples. He gave them and us what is known as the Lord’s Prayer, or better yet, the Model Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer contains a number of petitions, six in all. The first three have to do with God and his glory; after that, the next three petitions have to do with us and our needs. I want us to study this passage in terms not only of the kinds of petitions we ought to bring before God’s throne, but also in terms of the attitudes we ought to have when we pray. And to do that, here are a number of keywords that all begin with the letter “R”.
1. RELATIONSHIP – “Our Father…” (v. 9) When we pray we should remind ourselves that the one to whom we pray is our loving Father who cares for us and who is in fact eager to answer our prayers.
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32 ESV) What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13 ESV)
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14 ESV) But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… (John 1:12) Continue reading
…a large part of faith…consists of just refusing anxious thoughts…refusing to think about worrying things, refusing to think of the future in that wrong sense… [Having] faith means that I shall say: ‘No; I refuse to be worried. I have done my reasonable service; I have done what I believed to be right and legitimate, and beyond that I will not think at all’… When the devil comes with his insinuations, injecting them into you – all the fiery darts of the evil one – say, ‘No; I am not interested. The God whom I am trusting for today, I will trust for tomorrow. I refuse to listen; I will not think your thoughts.’ Faith is refusing to be burdened because we have cast our burden upon the Lord.
— D. M. Lloyd Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, ii, pp. 156-7