Friday, October 28, 2005

Beauty in God's eye

A friend recently asked me: What is beautiful in God's eye?

The short answer is: Himself. The long answer is: Anything that reflects His own glory. The negative being nothing that does not reflect His glory. So, when God sees creation, He says "It is good", not because creation is somehow intrinsically good on its own, but because "the heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims His handiwork". The reason God loves nature is because it displays, it manifests His power and wisdom and goodness and knowledge. Conversely, when God sees a man by himself, he says "it is not good for man to be alone", not because it is for some reason bad not to have a date on Friday night, but because there's something about the glory of God that is not displayed when a man is alone. And when He looks at a covenant marriage between a man and a woman, where a man loves his wife and his wife submits to her husband, He finds it beautiful because in it is a glorious display of the gracious love of His Son for His Bride and Her joy in Him. Anything in this world that displays some aspect of the glory of God, God will find beautiful. And anything in this world that hides the glory of God (which is ultimately what sin is... a falling short of the glory of God), God will condemn as evil and ugly.

The implication of this is huge for Christians. We should always have an eye to the glory of God in everything that we appreciate as beautiful and good in this world... a crisp autumn day, a hug from a friend, a tall glass of orange juice, an encouraging conversation, a game of football, and on and on... the question for the Christian in all these things is, "What is it that is good and beautiful about what I am enjoying?" If it is an aspect of the glory of God, then you are on the right track! If it is something else, then it is idolatry. And the same would go for the opposite... why is lying evil? Why is cowardice evil? Why is dishonoring your parents evil? Why is pornography evil? Why is being a lazy husband or a domineering wife evil?... the ultimate answer for the Christian must be because these things hide the beauty and glory and worth of God. The veiling of true beauty (ie: the glory of God) is the greatest reason why it should grieve us that we have sin in our lives and this "hiddenness" of the glory of God is what we must savagely fight against with all our strength.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The secularization of Christianity

One blog I enjoy reading is the community blog over at Reformation 21. Recently a conversation has begun on the similarity between Osteen's self-esteem gospel and Anthony Robbins' secular self-help therapy. But, before Christians are too quick to point fingers, Carl Trueman offers an insightful warning:
the challenge for confessional evangelicals, of course, is to see how we too are often complicit in this secularisation of Christianity. Sure, we can take shots at Osteen and company for selling shallow self-help in the language of the gospel; but how much real difference does our commitment to the real gospel make in practical terms to the way we live our own lives? Do we really have our horizons of expectation set by the psalmist's cries, by Hannah's prayer, by Christ in the wilderness, in Gethsemane, on the cross? Or do our real aspirations draw their life from the commercials on TV, the pampered freaks who parade each night on Access Hollywood, or even (say it ain't so!) the slick efficiency of our `ministries' and the smooth superstars of the evangelical conference circuit? After all, it isn't just the Osteens of this world who grow sleak and wealthy and powerful on claiming to preach the word of God. The sin of the secular mind always stands ready to steal our hearts and minds, especially when and where we least expect it.
Read the rest of the post here.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Sovereignty and Suffering

Mark Talbot gives a powerful sermon on the sovereignty of God over suffering. You can download it here. His story of suffering is similar to Joni Eareckson Tada's (her talk can also be found on that page):
When I was seventeen, I fell fifty feet off a Tarzan-like rope swing, breaking my back and becoming paralyzed from the waist down. I spent six months in hospitals. Initially, I had no feeling or movement in my legs and no bowel or bladder control. I dropped from 200 pounds to 145 pounds because I was so nauseated I couldn't eat. Once my back had stabilized a little and I had regained some movement in my legs, the doctors tried to help me regain more by having me crawl to breakfast each morning. At the time, an undetected calcified stone had formed in my bladder. It was causing raging bladder infections that made me completely incontinent. And so as they would put me on the floor each morning, I would wet myself and remain soaked for the rest of the day. When i left the hospital, after the stone was finally discovered and removed, I was able to control my bladder in most situations and walk awkwardly with a cane.

I'm now fifty-two. My accident has had several long-term consequences. Walking is increasingly more difficult, although it is important for me to stay on my feet in order to exercise my legs. I walk by forcing my leg muscles to spasm, which raises my blood pressure and makes it hard to find ways to exercise adequately to stay in cardiovascular shape. Physical discomfort is pretty steady. I have to remain alert to some physiological concern that most people never have to think about. In the last ten years or so, I have sometimes had sleep-robbing leg spasms. And in this last year, I've learned that my inability to walk has depleted the bone-density in my left hip to the place where, if I take a serious fall, it is likely to break.

I have thought about providence in this context for about thirty-five years... I conclude that nothing happens to us-nothing good and nothing bad-that is not ultimately from God.

Beyond the Bounds pgs. 78-79

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Starting at a young age

I've given my niece her first Piper book =)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

An anomaly

"Here is an anomaly: Christians outside the West dying because they believe their faith is true and Christians inside the West doffing their hats to the idea and then looking the other way!" - David Wells

Saturday, October 08, 2005

What is man that you take thought of him?

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him? – Psalm 8:3-4
Here the Psalmist is standing out beneath the night sky and meditating on the greatness of God, displayed in the glory of the heavens. What a God must He be to have created the heavens, and the galaxies and the constellations with his fingers! And yet, even more amazing is that this God should so concern Himself with man. Now, this passage can very easily be understood as meaning that God’s greatest concern is man. It is very easy to read this passage in a way that puts man in the center. But we see from verse 1 and 9 that David is not exalting man, but realizing our smallness, he is glorying in the awesome, central majesty of God.

But the amazing thing about it is that when the glory of God is displayed, man gets to be the beneficiaries and enjoyers of this glory! When the glory of God’s wisdom is displayed in how He has ordered the heavens so that we have a blazing sun that holds our planet in orbit and gives us warm summer days, and a moon that keeps the oceans from covering the face of the earth, and gives us a soft light by night, we are the recipients of this very glory. When the glory of God’s holiness and justice is displayed in how He has created in each of us a moral conscience and appointed rulers and governments so that we are able to live in peace and security, we are the beneficiaries of this glory. When the glory of God’s generous care is displayed in the faithful providence of food and shelter and comforts and relationships and countless other blessings, we are the beneficiaries of this glory. And most importantly, when God displays the glory of His love and grace, powerfully and passionately displayed in the life and death and resurrection and gift of His Son, for those who will believe, they are the eternal beneficiaries of this awesome glory.

A day is coming when the glory of God’s wrath will be displayed not for the enjoyment of man, but for those who reject His Son, it will be for their everlasting destruction. On that day, the wicked will indeed cry out, "What is man that you take thought of him?" but not with humility and love, but with weeping and gnashing of teeth. And this display will be terrible and glorious. Oh, may we seek the Lord while He may be found and call upon Him while He is near.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Hymns for our generation

Speaking of worship songwriting, there are some wonderful new hymns being written by our brothers and sisters across the ocean. These songs give expression to great gospel truths and our love for God in a fresh and powerful way.
The Power Of The Cross
Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

Oh to see the dawn
Of the darkest day
Christ on the road to Calvary
Tried by sinful men
Torn and beaten then
Nailed to a cross of wood
This the power of the cross
Christ became sin for us
Took the blame bore the wrath
We stand forgiven at the cross
Oh to see the pain
Written on Your face
Bearing the awesome weight of sin
Every bitter thought
Every evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow

Now the daylight flees
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as it's Maker bows His head
Curtain torn in two
Dead are raised to life
Finished the victory cry

Oh to see my name
Written in the wounds
For through Your suffering I am free
Death is crushed to death
Life is mine to live
Won through Your selfless love
This the power of the cross
Son of God slain for us
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross
Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Being loved

John Piper preached last week at Azusa Pacific University during chapel on what it means to be loved by God. You can watch the video of it here.

There is no other way to prepare for the moment when we will meet the God of the Universe face to face than by doing whatever it takes to foster a heart that finds its joy in Jesus Christ. It is sobering to think of the terror that will seize the heart of the person who has spent his whole life making much of himself and finally realizes it was all meaningless.