Thursday, September 30, 2010

Important Issues 2--The Predominence of Scripture in the Life of a Christian

This photo shows cultural view vs. Christian view. The Elephant
has a thought bubble to explain it is an elephant. We are not left
to guess what it is to be an elephant.

A common thought in our culture is that different religions are just different ways of looking at God, but they all amount to the same thing. It is like blind men feeling an elephant, telling each other what it is they think they are near. One man feels the tail and thinks its a brush. One man hugs a leg and thinks its a tree. One man finds the trunk and thinks its a snake. One man finds its side and thinks its a wall, and so on.

That is not what Christians believe. We understand that God (or in the case above, the elephant), told us who he is through the Bible. Christians are not inherently smarter than anyone else, we just have access to God's revelation of himself to us. We know are looking at an elephant, not a fan, rock, seagull, or car, because the elephant told us it is an elephant. (Thanks to JG for the illustration).

Thus the Bible is crucial. It is God's primary way of revealing himself to his people today. John 5:24, Ephesians 1:13, and 1 Thessalonians 2:13 to name a few all portray hearing the word of God as the means of salvation. This is primarily through scripture.

Now, can God communicate through means other than text written thousands of years ago? He is omnipotent, he may do as he pleases. God can use other means, but his word is sufficient and primary. God's word fulfills multiple roles in a Christian's Life. As 2 Timothy 3 says:
6 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Another version of this passages describes scripture as God-breathed. Christians are people of the book. Christians do not need to search for other ways to discern how God wants us to live and what we need to know about him. His word, the preaching of his word, and people living according to his word are the many ways God is revealed, but it all hinges on God's word.

Can we use our reason or intuition to know things about God instead, or perhaps in addition to the Bible? That is dangerous thinking. God gave us our reason and it is a good thing, but it is insufficient. We should use the reason God gave us to help us interpret the Bible and the world around us, but we should not value it above the Bible.

When what our reason tells us and what the Bible tells us conflicts, our reason should yield to scripture, not the other way around. I will mitigate this by saying that at times, many passages in the Bible can be confusing and we may not be sure what applies to questions we have. This is a reason for us to be in a local church where we are taught the Bible, not just left to interpret the Bible on our own (hence why I wrote a post on churches).

I will write more on this in another post when I have more time, and possibly a computer.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Thought for Today

"Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone!"
C.H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, Morning, 31 August

Friday, August 20, 2010

Important Issues 1--The Presence of a Local Church in the Life of a Christian

Are churches full of sinners? Of course. As my pastor often reminds us, the church is full of sinners who realize they need a Savior.

Are churches full of hypocrites, who talk of loving their neighbors but then ignore suffering around them, judging too quickly while ignoring their own sin? Sadly, yes. Can these churchgoers hurt those around them? Again, yes. Is that heartbreaking? Yes.

Is this an reason for us to abandon church? No. It may be an excuse, but it is not a reason.

The church is full of sinners and often viewed by outsiders as corrupt televangelists. Many have been hurt by individuals in churches or worse, hurt by local churches themselves that have misused authority.

However, the misuse of authority by a congregation does not mean that all congregations lose their authority. That one congregation caused more harm than good does not negate the purpose purpose for congregations to exist.

It is like the relationship between the parent and a child. Some parents abuse their children, misusing their God-given roles and authority, and the outcome can be devastating. Parents like this have not earned the right to be parents. However, this does not discredit parenthood and the authority that many parents use to wisely shepherd their children by keeping them safe and instructing them.

The fact that bad churches, like bad parents, exist does not discredit the need for wise and loving churches and parents in the lives of a believer and child.

Why do I need the authority of a church over me?

The Bible Says So.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some in the NKJV. Part of the reason we gather in churches is to spur one another toward love and good deeds. Can you do this with people outside of the church? Yes, but this is one of the reasons churches exist.

Also, check out Matthew 16:16-19. Christ is the one building His church on the foundation that He is Lord. That whole thing about "what is bound and loosed in earth and heaven" is about churches having authority. See also 1 Corinthians 5 for why this is important. Also here for more reasons.

The procedure that Jesus describes in Matthew 18:15-20 cannot take place if Christians are not in a local church with other Christians who know them well. Our sanctification is largely through the local church where we have other believers to hold us accountable, especially when we do not think we are sinning. If I were involved in a serious unrepentant sin, for the good of my soul, i am glad I go to a church where my friends and eventually the whole church, would try to correct me. More reasons here.

John MacArthur's website says "No Christian is a law unto himself, just autonomous running around." We are meant to be under authority. Heb 13:17

Now the authority of the church is not a pastor telling the congregation a position on some theologically issue/real life application and saying that we have to believe him because he says so. If I grew convicted that my church was wrong on something, if it was not a core issue, I would be welcome to disagree. For example, I am welcome to have any view of eschatology that fit within scripture and still be at my church. We are welcome to disagree about whether deacons need to be married.

I seek the authority of my church leaders because I want to be under wise, well-studied individuals who will remind me of the gospel and will teach me about the Bible. And yes, I can read the Bible and good books about the Bible and reason for myself, but my pastors spend hours laboring on their sermons each week. I reap the benefits of their labors.

If I initially disagree, or at least question, a conclusion they come to, I will not just close myself off to their ideas. I will meditate on and study the word, and observe people at my church who live according to those ideas. A couple at at my church did not particularly want children, but then after a few years of sitting under teaching that valued parenthood and children, and spending time with church members who lived out those teachings, they grew to desire children, and they consider their daughters a blessing from God.

It's true that you can learn things from spending time about all sorts of people. You do not need to be in a church to learn how to do nice things and to be encouraged to do nice things for people around you. You can even learn to recognize attributes of God in non-Christians around you. A lady that goes to my church met a woman with six children and noticed how the gentle way she protected her child from harm was like the way God protects his children.

However, as a Christian your life is changed by Christ's work on the cross. You learn to live according to that change by living your life with and around other believers. You cannot learn what it looks like to be changed by the gospel by hanging out with good people, only by spending time with those who have been changed by the gospel.

Other reasons that I don't want to delve into now because this post is already very long:
  • Hearing God's word preached is a means of grace--a good church will give you ample and regular opportunities to hear God's word preached.
  • A community of believers is a sweet place of fellowship, stability, accountability, friendship, iron sharping iron, and so much more.
  • The church provides a context for diverse people to grow in unity in their faith in Christ.

The church and church membership is a gift from God. No amount of distortion and abuse of this gift stops it from being a good gift. If a Christian would neglect or avoid a gift from God, I think they need to reevaluate their spiritual life... preferable in a context of other maybe a local church.

More resources:, Why We Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church or What is a Healthy Church by Mark Dever, Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Last post from summer camp... summer is over :(

Random kid: "Where do frogs sit? on toadstools."
Gabriel: "That takes my breath away!"

Gabriel: "My cracker has a crack in it. is that why they are called crackers?"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fun from the summer! Kids just take everything so seriously... I think they are confused when we laugh at them

Gabriel: "My grandmother guards the house against ants, but they still get in and she kills them with a bug spray."

Gabriel: "Thanks Mrs. Dude!" Generally he just calls me Miss Laura.

Teddy is carrying a basketball over his head and drops it on himself. Teachers ask him if he is okay, he says he is fine then he says, "It gived me a shower."

I brought the kids outside to color with chalk and a couple of the boys were no longer interested in the chalk and found a window where they could watch the 6-7 year old kids play a sport. They started commentating. "Red team has it again." "Wow Number 4 has the ball!"

Me: "It is getting too loud in here. Hummingbirds, please use your inside voices."
They quiet down, then blocks fall on the floor.
Gabriel: "The blocks don't know they are supposed to use their inside voices."

I put sparkly star stickers by my eyes after a craft."
Max: "I like the treasures on your face!"

There was a kid wearing green face paint from another class.
Reuben: "Well, he looks like a wicked witch."
Gabriel: "Wicked witches don't exist..." With a question in his voice.

Teacher: "Theodore."
Me: "Theodore doesn't exist." Because he moved to a different class.
Gabriel: "Did THeodore die?"
Me: "No."
Gabriel: "But if he doesn't exist that means he dies."
Unfortunately, we don't cover meaning, existence, life and death in summer camp.

Me: "Once I was sledding and I went under a fence and into the middle of a street by accident."
Gabriel: "Did you die?"

Friday, July 30, 2010

Kids are still funny

Nelson: "Miss Laura, today is my last day of camp."
Nelson, an hour later: "Miss Laura, today is my last day of camp."
Nelson, two hours after that: "Miss Laura, today is my last day of camp."
The next day
Me: "Oh, Nelson won't be here today because yesterday was his last day. Wouldn't it be funny if he showed up anyway today because he was confused about when he was leaving for vacation?"
Mr. Tom: "Haha."
Two minutes later...
Nelson walks in.
Nelson: "Good morning Miss Laura."
Tom and I start laughing.
Me: "What are you doing here Nelson?"
Nelson: "I forgot that today was my last day."
Nelson preceded to tell me several times that today was really his last day of camp for the summer throughout the day.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I work at a day camp... and kids are too funny

I will call my group the Hummingbirds for the purpose of this. They are all 4 or 5 years old.

Me: Hummingbirds, time to line up!
Teddy: I'm not a hummingbird, I'm a person.
Me: But you are in the hummingbird group.
Teddy: Why?
Another time he told another teacher that he is a teddy, not a hummingbird.

The teacher taking attendance: Is Christian here?
He points to a student named Reuben.

Teacher: Are you Christian?
Reuben: No, I'm Jewish.
All the teacher start laughing.

Me: Do your mother's take you swimming in the pools or the ocean sometimes?
Gabriel: Well...Well.... I think the ocean is too dangerous for children.


Friday, February 19, 2010

To remember about battling sin... It is not within your own power

Only the motive of grace--trust in the undeserved favor of God--can inspire us to pursue holiness free from fear and shame.
-- Joshua Harris, Sex is Not the Problem (Lust Is)

My book order came in!

I actually have already read both of the books I ordered before. Several times. I figured it was about time I owned them.

Today was payday, so I may order more books.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Not Be Shaken

I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

This verse has been instrumental in my past couple of weeks. I found it challenging when studying Psalms 16 because the idea that we are not shaken when we center on the Lord is huge.

Then, last weekend when my travel plans changed because of the snowpocalypse, this verse reminded me that I will not be disappointed if my focus is Christ instead of my own desires.

Then at small group Monday night, we read Acts 2, where Peter preaches from this passage. Peter draws the connection between the Holy One who will not see corruption in Psalms 16 and Christ who is greater than David. David focused on God to not be shaken, looking ahead to the promised Messiah to reign on his throne forever.

This morning, another implication of Psalm 16:8 came to light. Nahum is a book of the Bible about how God will punish Nineveh. Nahum 3:12 says, "All your fortresses are like fig trees with first-ripe figs---if shaken they fall into the mouth of the eater." Set the Lord always before you, and you shall not be shaken. If the Lord is not before you, you lose your fruit. You are vunerable to attacks that would not phase you otherwise. You can be shaken.

By focusing on the Lord, I have protection from the outside and from my own disappointment.
How great is our God!

Friday, February 5, 2010

My favorite songs in general and how they affect me today

My favorite hymns:

God Moves in a Mysterious Way--always super amused by the humerous ringtone like song on the last site, but the lyrics are just so rich. This is what I need to remember as the weather changes my plans.

Lessons from the song that I need to remember right now:
  • He plants His footsteps on the sea and rides upon the storm
  • The clouds will break with blessings on your head
  • Though the bud is bitter, the flower is sweet
  • God will make His word plain as we search it with faith
  • Frowning providence=smiling face

This song I just really like and cannot think about too much.

Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal (third link has lyrics)
  • Need to say Hallelujah
  • What is coming: Land of perfect rest, mansions of the blessed
  • Glory to the great I AM
  • Soul fades, our inheritance though Christ does not
  • We go there to worship God, not for hedonistic reasons
  • This is important now, and worth meditating on, now and forever
  • This song always makes me thing of the Grey Havens at the end of Lord of the Rings, which is partly why I like it so much. The image of crossing over the water... love it.
The changes in my plans fit into God's plans, and God's way has an incomparable result.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Cream

Snow cream

When it snowed several inches back home in the suburbs of Denver, we would go outside, get a big bowl of snow and make snow cream.

Sometimes, we would just sprinkle jello powder on it, other times we would really make snow cream.

Snow cream:
1 bowl of fresh snow (clean, away from streets and pets)

Mix all ingredients, adding milk until it reaches the consistency of ice cream. Eat.

Today, my Hawaiian roommate and I made snow cream and it brought me back to my childhood. Such a simple taste, but so good.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

So my blogging plan...

Obviously did not continue as much as I wanted it to.

My laptop would would no longer start, so I need to use the family computer until I go back to school. For some reason, they want to use the computer as well, so I don't have as much time to be on the computer.

But I will list the other days Chambers's writings were incredibly insightful and encouraging over this past year.

Here they are in no particular order:

September 16
October 1
December 8
December 11
December 31
October 28
December 21
June 14-15
June 24
August 12
October 18

This upcoming year I will read Morning and Evening by C.H. Spurgeon. Yay!