Tuesday, December 18, 2012


With the deaths of twenty children and eight adults we are confronted with ourselves. Is the sin in us so different from the sin in the one who killed these children? Yes and no.

Yes it is different. It is one thing to hate someone and another to lash out in violence. It is one thing to lack self control but quite another to go on a killing spree.  How can sins like anger, irritability, hate, and rebellion be compared to these murders? 

These are categorically different things right?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Loving Our Enemies and The Snowball Effect

Review Luke 6:27-38 and Ephesians 3

My thoughts on sermons at Andover Baptist.

Loving Our Enemies
Who do we love? Most of us love many people. Friends and family. But if we carefully think about who we love, we may realize that we don't love many people that don't give us some advantage.  Think about it - who do you love with no advantage to yourself? It is a tough question because it is unpleasant to admit that mixed in with our good and sincere feelings of love are usually selfish motives as well.

For instance, maybe the love we have for our parents is tinged with a selfish emphasis on what we can get from them. Or maybe our love for our children is mixed with a sinful pride in how they positively reflect on us. We would be naive not to admit that our hearts are filled with these sorts of mixed feelings.

But how does God love us?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rich Veins: Isaiah 30

I'm hoping to begin a series of posts on encouraging passages of scripture which are less familiar. I'm calling these posts "rich veins," because I think of stumbling across these encouraging and interesting passages as being analogous to a miner uncovering a rich vein of copper, iron, or gold. 

Please comment with some of your own.

I will just share this encouraging passage of scripture and dispense with further comments:

  "Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you,
      and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
 For the LORD is a God of justice;
      blessed are all those who wait for him.

  For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!”

 And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures, and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow."

(Isaiah 30:18-26 ESV)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Preview - Ephesians 3

I am not sure what to expect regarding a sermon on this text (Ephesians 3:14-21) and all of the great truths regarding the "love of Christ which surpasses knowledge." This reminds me of Jeremy Walker's comments regarding our failure to understand the lovingkindness of God here. 

But it will be exciting to be sure. 

Every "family" in heaven and on earth is named after God the Father.  Does that mean every family in the sense of those who follow God's will and love Him, or is it more of a broad meaning speaking to God being the author of all creation?

"The riches of His glory" is a frequently used phrase in Ephesians.  This could be a preamble to any benefit that the Christian receives - for it is all from the incredible riches of God's grace and to the praise of His glory (or glorious grace).

Paul is praying that we would know the unknowable.  This is a paradoxical tension, but one that Christ can increasingly reconcile. Perhaps in reference to our sanctification it can be said that we know more of the infinitely unknowable riches of God's grace now than we did when we first believed.  And in this way we may be always approaching full knowledge.  And yet only in heaven can we hope to have this unknowable knowledge in full.

I am still mulling over the concept of infinite desires from last week's sermon. Our infinite desires can only be satiatied by an infinite God.  And in the context of Ephesians 3, it stands to reason that the intellectual desires of those made in God's image are also infinite.  We want to know all things. We want deep and profound knowledge. And yet the noetic effects of the fall, our weaknesses, our simplicity, and our sin all conspire to prevent the satisfaction of these desires. But in Christ we can begin to understand the deepest and most profound knowledge of all time.  While we can't understand the love of Christ completely, we can know the mystery - thank God the Gentiles are fellow heirs! This will be one of the many things to keep our minds bursting at the seams with activity through eternity - to understand and know the deep love of Jesus.

Harlan Photos - Winter 2012

Before we cut - with Daddy
This year we decided to go to a tree farm to cut down our Christmas tree.  The kids were extremely excited about this! I must begrudgingly admit that this was better than visiting the people who came up from North Carolina to sell pre-cut trees out of a trailer.  Thanks to Martin Luther for Christmas trees.

"Legend has it that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. One crisp Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. When he got home, he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ's birth."

James White in Treasure Island?

As Long John Silver in Treasure Island (check out the ink!)

Is that James White?

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Root of All Sin

Our book study is currently reading Respectable Sins: Confronting The Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges.  This has been a very helpful book and has dealt with some very interesting, mostly practical, questions about Christian living.

The chapter we discussed was dealing with the sin of "ungodliness."  Before reading this book I would never have thought there was such a sin, but essentially it is the sin of not loving God above all else.  It is simply not having God in our thoughts in our every day life and not living for His glory or in dependence on Him.

Luke 5 & 6 Selections: Teachings of Jesus

Luke 5:33 - 6:26

My thoughts on sermons at Andover Baptist.

Regarding Jesus' parable of the wineskins, I had previously asked the question in previewing this passage, "Is this simply a statement regarding a practice not being fitting or appropriate? I have never researched this one and perhaps the question will be explored tomorrow, but that is what this passage seems to be saying."

No! There is much more going on in this parable than simply stating that it is not fitting for the disciples to fast.

Tips from Mark: Real Human

Ethan: AHH there's a stinkbug!
Mark: When you see a stinkbug you have to pretend that you're a statue. That way the stink bug won't know you are a real human.