Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Glory of Christ

Read these words from Charles Spurgeon two days ago:

"Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
~ Matthew 11:28

I want to pick out just this one thought, - the glory of Christ, that he should be able to say such a thing as this, - the splendour of Christ, that it should be possible for him to say, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." These words, from the mouth of any other man, would be ridiculous, and even blasphemous. Take the greatest poet, the greatest teacher of philosophy, or the greatest king, and who is he, with most capacious soul, who would dare to say to all the labouring and heavy laden ones in the whole human race, "Come to me, and I will give you rest"? Where are there wings broad enough to brood over every sorrowing soul, except the wings of Christ? Where is there a harbor capacious enough to hold all the navies of the world, to give refuge to every tempest-tossed [ship] that ever crossed the sea; - where, but in the haven of the soul of Christ, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead; and, therefore, in whom there is room enough to spare for all the troubled children of men?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mohler Ponders The Secret

In today's post on his blog, Al Mohler offers some thoughts on the New YorkTimes bestseller The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, currently taking America by storm in almost Purpose-Driven proportions. The book claims to teach readers how to use "positive thinking" and "mental energy" to achieve physical, mental, financial, and relational success.

Mohler notes that Oprah recently devoted two whole shows to the book, which is why I want to encourage my readers (especially those of you who watch Oprah) to check out his commentary. I'm wondering if Oprah's talk show is having a less-than-salutary influence on the Christians who watch it - especially moms with kids, who are able to catch the show because their home during the day. Could it be that Christians who are also Oprah-watchers are subtly having their world-views bent in an unchristian direction as they absorb humanistic self-help philosophies day-by-day? We're all being shaped by something.

Clearly, Oprah is pushing a vision of the world that does not include the necessity of forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, or the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In short, the stuff featured on Oprah is not Christianity. Some of it may include aspects of Christian morality - a la Dr. Phil - but where there's no gospel - "If you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, [then] you will be saved." (Rom. 10:9) - there's no true Christianity.

Mohler goes on to cite a recent USA Today feature which notes that The Secret is just the latest example of older "New Thought" movements, which all aim to equip people "to learn to cope with and overcome any and all obstacles," by teaching them how to think rather than what to think. Mohler says the distinction between how and what is a false one:
They. . . claim to teach how to think, not what to think. This statement implies that the groups offer no doctrine, merely a route to transformed thinking.

But the claim is false -- and must always be false. The distinction between how to think and what to think is artificial. It is sloganeering and advertising, not serious thought. Every pattern of thinking is based on certain presuppositions and leads to certain conclusions. . . . In other words, when it comes to thinking, there is no how that does not include a what.

Mohler points out that The Secret merely "repackages ancient paganism in the guise of positive thinking and mental energy." He goes on to say:

You cannot begin with the presupposition that you are the center of the Universe and then reason to conclusions that are in any way consistent with the Bible. You cannot get from the presupposition that you are a sinless victim of negative thinking to the conclusion that the cross of Christ is the answer to our deepest need. You cannot reason from the presupposition that you can cope with all your problems by the exercise of positive mental imagery to the conclusion that your greatest need is for a Savior. The how is a what when it comes to thinking about anything of importance.

Beware the movement that promises to teach you how to think rather than what to think. A moment's honest reflection should tell you what to think about that.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Chapel Sermons

You can listen to or download John Piper's sermons from this week's chapel services at Southern Seminary HERE.

Exciting Times on Campus

It's kind of an exciting week here on campus, for a couple of reasons. Yesterday, a group of gay-rights protesters stormed into Al Mohler's office to express their displeasure with a recent article he had written in which he said that homosexuality is a sin, whether it's genetic or not. They were escorted by police to the sidewalk in front of the Seminary, and weren't permitted to wander from there. Today before chapel there were lots of Louisville Metro Police around - I guess to protect Mohler in case the protesters turned up again.

Also, Pastor John Piper is preaching in chapel this week; but along with him John MacArthur, C.J. Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, and Mark Dever are here. With Mohler, Piper, and R.C. Sproul (who is not here) these are the guys behind the Together for the Gospel Conference, held for the first time last year here in Louisville and scheduled to take place again in 2008. Read about each of them here. Gretchen joined me in chapel today. It was easily the best-attended chapel of the semester. We're looking forward to hearing James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in suburban Chicago, preach in chapel next week.

It's a lot of fun living here, but we still feel a bit homesick sometimes.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Mid-Term Exam Results, Part 1

Thanks to everyone who prayed for me during mid-term exams. So far I know my score on one of the three mid-terms I took. If you prayed for me and would like to know my score, check the comments section of this post to find out my score on the Baptist history exam. In order to be accountable to you, my prayer partners, I'll report my scores on the remaining two mid-term exams when they are returned to me.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Make This Your Homepage

The Operation World website offers a handy way to encourage us to pray for missions daily. Their Pray Today page profiles a different country every day and provides a prayer guide to help Christians pray specifically for the challenges facing the church and the gospel in each country. Consider making Pray Today your homepage. Here's how:

1. Highlight and copy this web address:

2. Go to "Tools" in your menu bar and click "Options".

3. Paste the web address into the "Homepage" field and hit "OK". You're done!

(HT: B2W)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Mid-Term Exams This Week

I have two mid-term exams this week in addition to my usual homework. Would you please pray for me as I study? Here are some specific things to pray for: (1) Physical strength and stamina (I've got a bit of a cold); (2) That I'll study the right information; (3) That I'll remember what I study; (4) That I'll consider this process as a crucial part of my spiritual growth and not a distraction from it; (5) That I would study for the glory of God and not of Josh.

Also, if you think of it, would you pray for me while I am taking these exams? My Greek exam is Tuesday, March 13, at 9am Eastern Time (8 Central). My Baptist History exam is Thursday, March 15, at 2:30pm Eastern (1:30 Central).

In order to be accountable to all of you who pray for me, I will post my scores when I know them. So pray really hard so I don't embarrass myself. :)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Part-Time Job

Tonight I start my new part-time job as a server at a little Italian restaurant in our neighborhood. Read a review here.

It should be a lot of fun, and of course it will be nice to make some money. I'm thankful to the Lord for providing this job. It's within walking distance, it should pay well, and I should only need to work two nights a week (Friday & Saturday) to make up our current budget short-fall. This means my study schedule won't be terribly disrupted. (Side Note: Please pray for me as I study this weekend and next week for midterm exams. Yikes!)

I've never been a waiter before, so I've got a lot to learn. I've got even more to learn about Italian food. Today I've been trying to memorize the descriptions of the different kinds of pasta noodles. Many of you probably know more about this than I do, so here's a little quiz for fun. The winner gets an entree of his/her choice on me (I'll use my employee discount of course) the next time he/she visits (or the first time you visit if you've not been here yet). The winner is the first person to leave a comment with every answer correct. Two rules: No Googling. No research of any kind.

Match the description on the left with the correct noodle on the right.

1. Long, thin, round noodles
A. Penne
2. Long, flat noodles
B. Shell
3. Tube-shaped pasta with ridges
C. Ravioli
4. Long, extra-fine, thin noodle
D. Rotini
5. Long, large, tube-shaped pasta
E. Capellini
6. Pasta pillow stuffed with meat or cheese
F. Spaghetti
7. Corkscrew-shaped
G. Manicotti
8. Seashell-shaped
H. Lasagne
9. Long, flat sheet of noodles
I. Fettuccine

Good luck!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Fathers Die Too

John Piper's journal entry recounting the death (two days ago) of his father William Piper has been posted on the Desiring God blog. It's a very moving narrative. I commend it to you. Here's an excerpt:

I look you in the face and promise you with all my heart: Never will I forsake your gospel. O how you believed in hell and heaven and Christ and cross and blood and righteousness and faith and salvation and the Holy Spirit and the life of holiness and love. I rededicate myself, Daddy, to serve your great and glorious Lord Jesus with all my heart and with all my strength. You have not lived in vain. Your life goes on in thousands. I am glad to be one.

I kissed him on his cold cheek and on his forehead. I love you, Daddy. Thank you.

Read the whole story.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"A Good Outcome"

I think the people who have to summarize prayer requests for the church prayer bulletin have one of the toughest jobs around. It's extremely difficult to reduce an important need in a person's life to a sentence or two. The secretaries at our church in Illinois, do a great job. Whoever does it at our church here in Louisville also does very well. It's also a thankless job, because no one notices when everything is worded perfectly and there are no spelling errors. Being the prayer-request-summarizer is like being a referee at basketball game: You're invisible until you make a mistake.

Having said that, tonight I was checking the prayer requests on our Illinois church's website and came across a very humorous entry I thought you all might enjoy:

Nathan W-----
(Greg & Staci W-----'s son) He swallowed a quarter and may possibly be facing surgery if he does not pass it. Pray for a good outcome.

A good outcome!!! [Greg and Staci: We are praying that things will - how do I say this? - be okay.]