Who are you listening to, God or Glenn Beck?

I recently came across two well-written caveats regarding the strong following Fox News and radio talk show hosts like Glenn Beck have among conservative, evangelical Christians.  Before you swallow everything Glenn Beck so convincingly proposes, read these articles.

David Hosaflook – Think About Immigration Missiologically!

Russell Moore – God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck

As with anything, read these with an open but careful mind.  I think these men state some worthy precautions.

Prosperity vs. Persecution

I’ve been reading in Jeremiah recently.  Some may feel it’s a depressing read.  Of course, with all the weeping, I’m tempted to feel that way myself.  But in the broader picture, it’s a great spot to build your knowledge of God.  One point of interest for me is the way God is refusing to relent (ch. 15), despite Jeremiah’s desperate and humble pleas.  The God whose mercy is everlasting, has determined “enough is enough.”  I’m interested to see how that plays out in the rest of the book (I’m only to chapter 15).  I know that God’s mercy is upheld in Christ, so that’s relieving.

What really stood out to me, though, in these last couple of chapters (14-15) is the contrast between the lying prophets and Jeremiah, a truthful mouthpiece of God.  I felt there were some great parallels for our day and God’s mission given to me.

Prosperity

To quickly rehearse, Jeremiah complains of the false prophets that were preaching a message of prosperity.  They said, “No, you won’t be overtaken by enemy nations.  Are you kidding?  We aren’t going to have famine.  Our God is a God of love.  He wouldn’t do that” (ok, so I added a few things).  Here’s God’s evaluation of these lying prosperity speakers,

“The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.”
(Je 14:14 – my emphasis)

These spoke what the people wanted to hear.  They did not want someone to tell them they would have to pay the consequences for their breaking God’s law.  These “prophets” evidently convinced themselves in “their own minds” that peace was always God’s will .

So, what is their lot?  The Lord pronounces through Jeremiah that these along with their audience will, in fact, meet their doom by the very judgments they deny – sword and famine.

Persecution

Jeremiah on the other hand was faithful to speak for God, though it brought much grief and even persecution to him.  Still he found faithfulness to God to be bitter sweet.  In 15:15 and following, Jeremiah, in his suffering brought on by his faithfulness to God, cries out to God.  He cries for justice against his persecutors.  He pleads, “Know that for your sake I bear reproach.”  Yet, he finds that God’s words were a joy and a delight to him, because “I am called by your name.”

What does Jeremiah have to look forward to?  You might say, “How can you live like that?”  Jeremiah was motivated by the eternal.  While the false prophets were bound for destruction, Jeremiah was bound for redemption.  No, his road would not be easy from here on out, but God promised, “I am with you, to save you and deliver you” (15:20).

No Room for Men-pleasers

What do I take from that?  Stop trying to please those around you by speaking “truth” in a way that is acceptable.  Speak of sin.  Tell people that they, along with you, have broken God’s law.  This requires punishment.  God does and will continue to demand justice for sinners in Hell.  Yet, he offers forgiveness through His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, who satisfied God’s just wrath when he died on the cross.  Our message? “Repent or you will perish!”

Psalm 73: An Important Psalm in My Life Recently

Overview

The psalm starts with a confident assertion that God is good to his people and that he promises blessing to those whose hearts are pure (v. 1).  However, knowing this, the psalmist’s everyday experience did not seem to prove this axiom true.  He explains the “slippery slope” he almost found himself tumbling down (v. 2).  He uses the image of almost losing his footing (spiritually, of course).  His problem? — the prosperity of the wicked.

They seem to enjoy life to the fullest and go about life without the slightest care in the world.  They go on ignoring the authority of their Creator doubting His knowledge of and rule over them.  Their godless, even anti-God, lives seem to bear no consequences.  They are “always at ease, they have increased in wealth” (v. 12).  These observations lead the psalmist to imagine that his holiness and devotion to God have been vain.  We like the psalmist think, “Will my problems ever end?  Why does God hate me? I feel that He is against me.  He chastens me every day in some way or another” (v. 14).

Asaph’s thoughts troubled him greatly.  Only when he went into God’s presence and met with Him in His house did his perspective of the wicked change.  He says, “Then I perceived there end” (v. 17).  In the end the wicked will be destroyed.  In the end, in a moment, their rebellious, ungodly lives will be justly rewarded.  They will be “utterly swept away by sudden terrors!” and God will “despise their form” (vv. 19-20).  He compares the temporary prosperity of the wicked to dreams or “fantasies” (NIV).  As the Bible Knowledge Commentary states, they are “counterfeits of reality.”

After this reminder of the wicked’s lot, Asaph recognized his previous conundrum as “senseless and ignorant” (v. 22).  His foolishness overwhelmed him.  When the truth is known regarding the wicked, we too must not envy them, but pity them.  As Spurgeon says, “No envy gnaws now at his heart, but a holy horror both of their impending doom, and of their present guilt, fills his soul.  He recoils from being dealt with in the same manner as the proud sinners, whom just now he regarded with admiration” (The Treasury of David, Vol. 2, p. 251).

In the midst of his trials and problems, he now recognized that he is “continually with” the Lord, that God has “taken hold of my right hand.”  He trusted that God would guide him with His counsel and “afterward receive me to glory” (v. 24).

That Sounds Familiar

This process of thought is familiar to us.  We allow our minds to fall to the depths of doubt and confusion about God’s justice in the world today.  We are greatly troubled.  Then God in His grace reveals Himself to us in His Word and through His body, the church.  We remember God’s promise that “He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished” (Ex 34:7).  We recall those memory verses from Psalm 139,

Whither shall I go from thy spirit?  Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.   Vs. 7-10

We gain perspective from the inspired words of Paul,

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.   2 Cor 4:17-18

We all must focus our minds on the truth, which at times may seem beyond reason.  Commenting on verse 13, Spurgeon says, “Thus foolishly will the wisest of men argue, when faith is napping.  Asaph was a seer, but he could not see when reason left him in the dark; even seers must have the sunlight of revealed truth to see by, or they grope like the blind” (The Treasury of David, Vol. 2,p. 249).

The Climax

This realization brings this psalm to a climax.  “God now” and “God forever” fulfills our every desire, comforts our every sorrow.  Asaph exclaims,

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever   Vs. 25-26

The obvious answer to the question, “Whom have I in heaven but You?” is no one.  Heaven is the abode of God.  It is where he rules sovereignly over this universe (Ps 115:3).  It represents the only eternal, everlasting place.  It is where believers will be forever.  This world will pass away (1 Jn 2:17), but heaven (because of God) will last forever.  Friends, family, and colleagues may fail us, but God is our God forever.   Possessions and accomplishments will pass away with the world, but our knowledge of and relationship with God will continue without end.

I hope we can say with Asaph, “Besides You, I desire nothing on earth.”  Our “desiring” God should be characterized by both desire and delight.  Matthew Henry comments, “We must delight in what we have of God and desire what we yet further hope for” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol. 3, p.421).  This is being consumed with God.

It is time we recognize with complete, life-changing acknowledgement that our flesh and heart may fail.  Some of us readily understand the frailty of our human body.  Our prayer lists reflect the shortness of life and the complications of living in a sin-cursed world.  We cannot depend on our strength, ability, or endurance.  But our hearts will soon follow suit.  Our bodies suffer and our spirits follow.  We cannot look to the power of the human spirit.  It will fail in time.  But this doesn’t need to matter, because God is the strength of our hearts, and we will have Him for all eternity.

“Strength” here is literally “rock.”  Notice what Asaph was doing in verse 2 – slipping with no footing.  Here he is pictured standing firmly and solidly on the Rock.  God is our heart’s Rock, that cannot and will not be moved.  Meditating on the reality of His presence now and forever provides solid ground for us to stand on.

Conclusion

In verse 27 and following, Asaph reaffirms the lesson he has learned.  God has destroyed the wicked of the past, and those who are currently living unfaithfully to Him will perish.  “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good.”  The KJV says, “But it is good for me to draw near to God.”  This is prescription for our disease of doubt as we observe the world today.  “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (Jam 4:8).  Do as the psalmist did.  Go into the sanctuary.  Pursue God and the things of God.  Immerse yourself in His Word.  He desires to be found and for His truth to be known.  God is with us.  He is in control.  He loves you and will bring about His promises to you.  In a day when so many people, things, and ideas seek to claim our focus, God is the only reality we can bank on for eternity.

So make Him your joy and strength.  Make Him your hope.  Make knowing Him and His ways your life’s quest.  For now is the only time we have to prepare for eternity.

Why all this talk about giving thanks? Part 2

Well, I figure since I had a “Part 1″ I had better have a “Part 2.”  Life sure does seem to have a way of frustrating my goals and aspirations.  Well, here goes my conclusion to what I started on Nov 27.  After all, Christmas gives us good reason to give thanks, too, right?

Joking aside, I’m afraid we do neglect our responsibility to give thanks all throughout the year and not just on the 4th Thursday of November.  With that in mind, Psalm 107:1 not only gives us God’s goodness for which to be thankful, but also God’s steadfast love.  Again, the verse reads, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”  People all around us fail us, yet God’s love is perfect and eternal.  Again, consider some biblical proof of this truth.

The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Exodus 34:6

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.  Psalm 86:5

The LORD appeared to him from far away. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”  Jeremiah 31:3

The steadfast love of God depends solely on Him, not at all on us.  No matter how ugly we are, no matter how inconsistent we are, no matter how good we are, no matter how limited we are, God’s love is eternal.  His goodness of which we are the recipients of day in and day out is the fruit of the eternal tree of God’s love.  God’s steadfast, eternal love is climactically demonstrated “in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  We as humans were made for relationships.  We yearn for love.  Our obsessions and deepest struggles point often times to broken relationships, especially a broken relationship to our Creator, the primary One we were meant to relate to in a peaceful, pure, satisfying way.  However, as creatures designed to fellowship, we are “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.”  Though it is right to pursue right relationships with our family, friends, and neighbors, we cannot set our souls on these relationships ultimately.  God, Jehovah, the Lord of all is the only one whose love is steadfast and unfailing.  When nothing or no one else in our lives gives us reason for thanks, we can always turn to God’s steadfast love and see our source of eternal thanksgiving.

So, Psalm 107:1, in the form of a declaration of thanks, teaches us essential truth of who God is.  He is good.  His steadfast love endures forever.  The more you know God and experience a relationship with Him on a day to day basis, the more thankful you will become.  In fact, unthankfulness is characteristic of those who have rejected God and His Son Jesus Christ.  Consider these verses.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Romans 1:21

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful . . .  2 Timothy 3:1ff

So, please, don’t sing the song of those who have rejected God.  Instead, sing the song of the Psalmist – the song of the redeemed.  Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

Why all this talk about giving thanks? Part 1

Because I complain far too often, I wanted to add my voice to all those giving thanks this Thanksgiving week here in the US.  In contemplating the idea of thanksgiving, my attention was drawn to a common Old Testament expression.  It occurs many times in the Psalms and also in other segments of the OT.  Psalm 107 is a great psalm to see it expressed and illustrated.  Verse 1 states, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”  This is the song of the redeemed.  In fact, verse 2 says, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble . . .”  If you are one who has known redemption through Christ, your theme should be thanks, not griping.

“Redemption in Christ?  What is that?”, you may ask.  According to the Scriptures, Christ died for your sin.  He paid the penalty that was yours when he was crucified on the cross.  He was buried, and three days later he rose again from the dead, conquering death and the grave.  By trusting solely in Christ and what he did you too can be redeemed.  Christ will forgive your sin and declare you righteous and accepted before God.  This is redemption, and this is reason for thanks.

So, think with me about this common OT expression of praise.  First, we are to be thankful because He is good.  John Feinberg simply yet effectively defines God’s goodness when he states, “God is concerned about the well-being of his creatures and does things to promote it.”  This is universally true in the whole created realm.  Man and beast alike enjoy God’s goodness.  In fact, as the crowning glory of God’s creation, we as humankind must realize that all we have is from God’s hand.  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

God’s goodness is seen in His concern for our physical well-being.  According to Scripture, it is God in His goodness that gives us the essentials of daily life and breath.  Consider some verses.

Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.  Acts 14:17

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  Matthew 5:44-45

That’s right.  The rain I am hearing now outside my window is a gift of God’s good hand.  Even the uninterrupted, rhythmic beating of my heart and the repetitious exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in my lungs tell me that I have a good God.

Not only is He good in the physical realm, but also God is concerned for my spiritual well-being.  You see it evident in Psalm 107 as it testifies that when the people “cried to the LORD in their trouble,” He heard their cry and delivered them.  In fact, Romans 10:13 tells us assuredly, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Those of us who know and trust Christ’s redeeming work know this well.  For when we call on the name of Jesus Christ with dependence, He saves us forgiving our sin and enabling us to live for His glory.  I plead with you — if you haven’t, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

Shut it, know-it-all!

Please don’t let my title startle you.  I’m talking to myself.  Through a number of recent experiences, I have been realizing that I often act like a know-it-all.  When it comes to my marriage, my parenting, my relationship with God, my responses to circumstances in people’s lives, etc., etc., I so readily respond with the spirit of a smarty pants.  Most significantly, I was communing with God this evening (an ashamedly infrequent occasion of late) and realized that I go about my day-to-day life so regularly without acknowledging God.  “After all, I went to seminary, I preach and teach the Bible week in and week out.  I’m ordained (OoooAhhh!), and I’ve read all sorts of theological books.  If anyone knows God and what the Bible says of Him, I do” . . . Umm . . . No!  But that is how I treat God and my daily need for Him.  The truth is reflected in Paul’s Romans doxology,  “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Rom 11:33).  But instead of crawling to Jesus in humility at the start of every day, I trample over top of Him and determine to have a successful day in my own earnest efforts and pretend wisdom.  Lord, rescue me from my humanistic, self-determined flesh!!

Another situation in which this know-it-all, loud-mouthness came to my attention was in a conversation with a friend.  I was sharing with him my struggle to be patient with my children.  He pointed me to James 1:19 and following, “19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”  Quick to listen, slow to speak – that has not characterized me recently.  Instead, with steam-rolling high self-esteem, I squash those impeding my determined path with angry, impatient words.  For example, I am guilty of the classic response to my son’s appeals, “BECAUSE I SAID SO; NOW DO IT!!!”  O, God, work righteousness in my children through a patient, Word-saturated father!

This slow-to-speak mentality was further reinforced this evening as I delved into my reading of the Book of Job.  I am in the midst of the back and forth between Job and his friends and noticed something that applied to my life.  Now, I’m not sure you could accuse Job’s friends of being slow to listen and quick to speak, because 2:13 says they came and sat with him for 7 days and 7 nights without anyone saying a word.  Of course, in that day there were no high-speed societal pleasures like Twitter, microwaves, dual core processors, and hair dryers; so, what were they going to do?  I digress (more on modern progress later hopefully).  Back to Job’s friends; when they did speak, it became evident they didn’t shut up for long enough.  Their know-it-all mouths spoke with great clarity (in their own minds).  “Job, it seems clear. You must have sinned.  Why else would you be suffering this way?”  Job responds, as John Piper poetically puts it, “O spare me now, my friends, your packages of God.”  Gulp . . . I’m afraid I am guilty of the same high-mindedness.  “Yes, I have an answer for that struggle, Dear.  Let me just pull out a package from my great inventory of God-knowledge and give you an answer,” I may be found saying to my wife in private conversation.  But, do I really know God if I am not ever increasing in my knowledge and experience with Him in private communion on a regular basis?  Even if that were so, I have no right facing decisions and making responses in every day life with out depending on God for wisdom. The depths of His love are fathomless. His holiness is beyond full comprehension.  “Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?” (Rom 11:34).  Gracious God, fill me with the humility of Christ!

Quick to listen; slow to speak . . . Maybe a down side to our fast paced world is that we don’t have time to listen and feel we have to speak.  We have to do something, right?  If I would take James 1 and apply it to my relationship with God, I would sit, and sit, and sit some more.  I would listen to Him by praying, meditating on His Word, and seeking His wisdom.  Proverbs emphasizes this painstaking search for wisdom with words and phrases like the following: acquire, diligently seek, search, receive, give attention, make your ear attentive, incline your heart to, seek as silver, etc.  Knowing God and His will takes time – time listening and time searching.

I hope my self-directed tirade helps you as it has me.  Feel free to join me in pummeling my person.  I would love to see more Scriptures that apply to my failures.  But if you are like me, you too need to tell yourself, “Shut it, know-it-all!”

The Fear Factor

I have been thinking a lot about fear lately.  I have recently been preaching a message from 2 Timothy 1 where Paul calls Timothy to tell and live the Gospel boldly without fear.  Plus, the issue of fear in my own heart and in the hearts of people around me has come to my attention a lot lately.  I think, if you were honest, you would agree that fear is so prevalent in our daily lives.  Have you ever stopped to realize how often you see fear demonstrated in your life and in the lives of others?  Lately, I have taken note, and it’s a lot!

Here’s a smattering of what runs through my brain when I think about fear:

  • fear to speak the Gospel
  • fear someone will harm my children
  • fear of financial crises
  • fear of sickness, injury, and death either in me or someone in my family
  • fear of God
  • fear of looking bad/incapable in others’ eyes
  • fear of what a pastor or fellow missionary thinks of me
  • fear of messing up as a parent
  • fear of terrorism
  • fear of failure
  • fear of rejection
  • fear of embarrassment/humiliation

There is a time to fear and a time not to fear.  Fear brings pain and profit.  Fear paralyzes, hinders, and plagues us; yet we also seem not to want (or are unwilling) to rid ourselves of it.  So, as a Christian, this emotion called “fear” has important significance to me.

According to the Oxford American Dictionary, fear is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”  I emphasize “belief.”  I am beginning to realize that this is what it all comes down to.  What do you believe?  In fact, you could say the opposite of fear is faith.  Faith is the “conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  This is where going through life without fear is so difficult.  To rid ourselves of fear, we need to believe.  We need to believe in what we can’t see – God and the fulfillment of the promises He makes to those who are His (Hebrews 11:6).  Yet, before we consider more the antidote to fear, let’s consider two sides to fear in our lives.

1. When we should not fear and do
Most of the examples mentioned above would fall into this category.  These are negative expressions of fear.  There are those fears that relate to the physical realm – fear of physical harm, injury, illness, even death.  In fact, have you ever noticed how much American economics depends on fear.  This is why I say that it seems we are unwilling to rid ourselves of fear.  If Christians would forsake fear and simply trust, how would this change the American commercial world?  Don’t get me wrong.  I realize we can’t be ignorant and act like we’re invincible.  Some choices would hinder us and our effectiveness for Christ (choosing not to buy health insurance, not protecting ourselves from harmful germs, etc.).  However, perhaps we need to rethink what is common sense and what is simply a demonstration of ungrounded, faithless fear.

So, there is fear in the physical/material realm.  But what about fear in the social/relational realm?  I’m talking about what the Bible calls the fear of man.  I mentioned several fears above that would fit in this category like speaking the Gospel, rejection, appearing incapable in another’s eyes, embarrassment, etc.  This is probably a more prevalent fear in my heart than fear of physical harm or the like.  This is also where our previous definition from the dictionary is not adequate.  It would be more accurate to say  fear is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is physically or socially dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”  However, whether it is relational fear or physical fear, it’s still fear and demonstrates a lack of faith.

2. When we should fear and don’t
Perhaps you caught the one example of fear I listed above that stood alone.  It is the fear of God.  The fear of God is one of the most predominant themes of the Scriptures, especially the OT.  So, we shouldn’t rid ourselves of this emotion completely.  It just needs correcting.

How the knowledge of God corrects our fearing
Our perspective on this present world should be shaped by our knowledge of the One who made it and is working out a plan in it.  Our sovereign God “works all things after the counsel of His will.”  So, even things we see as “problems” lead us perfectly to the course God intends and superintends.  Not only should the knowledge of God’s sovereignty shape our thinking, but also understanding the many other characteristics of God and His promises. In many of the “fear not’s” of Scripture, the command was followed by a reminder of the promises of God.  God’s “fear not” to Abraham was followed by “I am your shield, your very great reward” (Gen 15:1).  To Isaac, God said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you.  I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, for the sake of My servant Abraham.”  The reasons Isaac should not fear were the truths of God’s presence in his life and the faithfulness of God to fulfill His covenant.  Another “fear not” (my wife’s favorite) goes, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).  Again, God’s people are called to look to their God and His pleasure (and unshaking plan) to do what He promises.

Christ’s words directly address the reality of threats we face in our lives on earth. “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).  This leads us to the proper placement of our fear – God Himself.  Fear and knowledge of God go hand in hand.  As Proverbs 1:7 tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.”  God’s character demands our fear.  And fear is not simply reverence, but actually fear.  Why should we fear or be afraid of God?  As Christ says, because He is “able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  Consider Proverbs 14:16, “A wise man fears and departs from evil, But a fool rages and is self-confident.”  The wise person sees evil (in his own life or in others’) with a knowledge of God, namely that “He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished” (Exodus 34:7) and that “when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:15).  Because of his knowledge of God and His Word, the wise man fears and avoids sin.  The fool, on the other hand, imbibes carelessly in sin with great confidence.  You put God into the picture and the object(s) of fear drastically change.  The fool fears all sorts of physical and earthly threats, but not the eternal One.  The wise man is not afraid of temporal harm, both physical and relational, because he knows, fears, and answers only to the Beginning and the Ending.

So, I challenge you to pay attention to what/who you are fearing.  I know it has been revealing to me to consider this the past few weeks.  I pray God will continue helping me to believe what I cannot see.  I desire to stop fearing man and to start fearing God.

Introducing – Rough Draft

I’ve been mulling over this opportunity for some time.  Most of my good friends have blogs.  Part of my daily surfing includes regular stops at their WordPress or Blogger sites.  I have had a desire to add my two cents on many occasions.  Potential blog posts have been written in my head many mornings (and even afternoons) in the shower.  In fact, this post has been in process for the last several mornings during bath time.  However, I have just not felt right about pursuing this venue.  I struggled with my motivations.  I felt that I simply wanted to be recognized for contributing to certain arguments or that I desired praise for pulling heart strings with my words.  I liked the idea of having my blog linked to on someone else’s facebook.  All in all, I felt I wanted to have a blog for the wrong reasons.  I also feared that blogging would cause me to waste too much time, when I often feel I don’t have enough time for what I already have to do.

But for some time, my wife and I have discussed my desire to write.  I enjoy writing.  I feel I am much better at expressing myself with a keyboard (or pen) than I am with my mouth.  I don’t “think on my feet” very well and need time to think things through.  I guess this is why I enjoyed seminary so much.  We had plenty of writing to do.  I think it was there that I discovered my desire to write.  Interacting with theological issues, historical debates, and interpretation of Scripture invigorated me.

My wife has encouraged me in this passion.  She thinks that I will one day write a book (we’ll see).  I began to rethink starting a blog, looking at it as an opportunity to hone my writing skills.  The interaction with readers and the ability to put my thoughts down will greatly help me not only to write better but also to think through issues more completely.

Therefore, I think the title, “Rough Draft,” is appropriate.  Being a perfectionist I rarely feel ready to call something “final.”  So, this blog will be made up of posts covering a variety of topics about which I am thinking, but by no means have reached conclusions.  My confidence and certainty with some issues will be evident, I imagine.  After all, I am a Christian fully persuaded in and passionate about the Gospel.  The truths of sin, wrath, substitute, resurrection, faith, forgiveness, and eternal life all explained in the One, Jesus Christ, I will affirm till death.  But many issues we face in our modern day take some working out.

My goal to start with is to write once per week.  This is manageable in my mind and will not allow me endless babbling that will negatively affect my family and do no one any good.  So once per week I will write on topics of interest to me or issues on which I desire feedback and clarification from you.  I trust that here you and I will find opportunities to hash out matters of greater or lesser importance.  From Nobel Peace Prizes to church polity, from special moments shared with my son to the Gypsies of Romania, Rough Draft will be a place to consider, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Eccl 3:1).