Archive for February, 2013

What is Reformed Theology?

Posted: February 25, 2013 in Book Reviews
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My review of R.C. Sproul’s book: What is Reformed Theology: Understanding the basics: 
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Honestly, I can’t remember where I got this book. I didn’t even really plan on reading the whole thing when I got it. I looked at the table of contents and thought that the chapter on “Covenant theology” would be helpful as I have been learning how the role of covenants have played into God’s relationship with humankind. The first three pages caught my attention with a story that the author told about visiting a Christian college in the Midwest. He made a distinction between the study of “religion” and the study of “theology” and why it was important. I kept reading and am glad I did. This book is simple to understand, yet deep in truth. I stopped highlighting because there were two many succinct, profound statements here. 
 
Many people would begin an explanation of Reformed Theology with TULIP. However, Sproul used the first half of the book to build a foundation of Reformed doctrine. It begins with, and is centered on, God. Next, we build on that with God’s Word and the third stone is that it is committed to faith alone. The next two concepts begin to differentiate Reformed doctrine from others: It is built on the offices of prophet, priest, and king, and the covenants of the Bible. These make complete sense to me which is why the TULIP becomes a logical conclusion. However, he adjusts the acrostic, TULIP, to help explain it better. And his explanation was extremely helpful. 
 
All of the five points of Reformed theology rest on the “T” of TULIP: Total depravity. However, Sproul’s definitions make much more sense because we know that no one is as bad as they could be. Therefore, the distinction of man’s sinfulness (aka corruption) is not in degree, but in extent. The five points are then better understood as 1) Humanity’s radical corruption, 2) God’s sovereign choice, 3) Christ’s purposeful atonement, 4) The Spirit’s effective call, and 5) God’s preservation of the saints. 
 
The subtitle of this book is “Understanding the basics.” I completely agree and wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interesting in the study of God. 

Unnecessary Qualifiers

Posted: February 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Neil deGrasse Tyson explains why it’s helpful to our world having “black scientists.” I look forward to the day when we won’t even think that a qualifier like “black” is necessary in front of a word like “scientist.” Until that happens, I find Neil’s story extremely refreshing and encouraging.

Date Your Wife

Posted: February 17, 2013 in Book Reviews
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I just finished Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard. It wasn’t a book on my “To Read” list, but it was on sale on Kindle so I bought it. It’s hard to go wrong with a book that is published by Crossway and endorsed by Tullian Tchivijian. 

Overall, it was a good book, nothing profound. In addition to the following quotes, the most helpful thing that I took away from it was to make a plan to show your love to your wife. Good marriages are work…good work, but still work. They don’t just happen. It takes planning, preparation, and follow through. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • If you want to change a marriage, change the man. (433)
  • Boys are born with a mission: to work and keep, to cultivate and guard. (676)
  • God gives men enormous responsibility. And the weightiest responsibility he gives to a man is a woman—a wife. In this union, a man’s ability to cultivate and guard is put to the greatest test. Will the man lay down his life in order that his wife may flourish? That is the question that measures a marriage. In order for the garden of marriage to be properly cultivated and guarded, a man must give more than he’s ever given. (684-387)
  • Jesus makes men new—Jesus turns husbands like you and me into the best thing that ever happened to our marriages. (720)
  • God doesn’t demand men live life on the basis of their own resources; he summons us to live in confident dependence on his resources. He has the power. Our responsibility is to respond to his ability. (741-743)
  • The heart of sin is building your identity on yourself instead of on God and his grace. (840)
  • The most rebellious, countercultural thing you can do in our culture is to be happily married until death do you part. (1114-1115)
  • The point of your marriage is to date your wife in such a way that showcases Jesus and his power to a world of husbands and wives, men and women, boys and girls, in desperate need of a God who can rescue, reconcile, restore, and redeem their broken lives. Marriage isn’t ultimate. God is ultimate. (1516-1518)

High School Ice Camp

Posted: February 12, 2013 in Uncategorized
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I took the High school youth group to our annual winter getaway at Miracle Camp known as Ice Camp. There were 6 adults and 19 students (12 girls, 7 guys).

Weekends like this are always a roller coaster ride. Everyone is excited and so emotions run high. First night excitement results in a lack of sleep which leaves tired, cranky teenagers by early Saturday evening. Added to the usual hormonal influences on adolescents and the end result was a train wreck. After feeling like I was putting out one fire after another, I finally gave up sometime Saturday afternoon. Some kids were full of anger and jealousy at other kids, some kids wanted to go home, and others didn’t want to do anything but complain. I had no more persuasive words and so I decided that I didn’t care what happened. If they wanted to go home early I would let them. If they had a horrible weekend then I decided it wasn’t my fault. And if God was going to do anything in the lives of the students then He would have to do it without me. (I know what you are thinking…good joke, right?) 

Saturday night’s worship and chapel was nothing spectacular. There was no emotional plea to follow Christ. The speaker just asked if anyone wanted to receive Jesus as Lord. A few people stood up, but no one from our group. Even though nothing seemed to be happening, God was at work. 

During worship, two of our guys left with a leader to pray about recommitting their life to Jesus. In the following break out session they shared with the youth group the decisions they made. A few other people shared as well about how God had spoke to them during chapel. We ended in prayer and the some people went back to the chapel for midnight worship. In the chapel, I found a kid from our group who was dealing with some stuff. We talked and prayed together, and then a handful of kids joined in worship with about 50 other students who came back for worship. It was a powerful time of worship that was heartfelt and spirit-filled. It was definitely one of the highlights of the weekend. 

The next morning, when the speaker challenged students to stand up if they wanted to be a leader in their churches, schools, and youth groups more than half of our students immediately jumped to their feet. The weekend ended on a great note and I am humbled to see God work in their lives. 

The lesson I learned from this whole experience: Sometimes the best thing is to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit work.

HS Ice Camp

Posted: February 8, 2013 in Uncategorized
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This evening I will be going to Ice Camp at Miracle Camp and Retreat Center with 20 students and 5 other adult leaders. Last year, we took 13 students and so this year I reserved spots for 20. I knew it was a huge step to go from 13 to 20 in one year, but I also knew that God was growing our group. This weekend has always been a high point in the youth ministry year and I am expecting the same this year. It’s always surprising to see how much good can come out of an extended time away from the normal routine of life. There is a lot that can go wrong, but there is also a potential for a lot of growth. God is good and I’m praying that He works miracles again.

Self-Defense

Posted: February 5, 2013 in Funny
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Always be prepared! Watch this video.