helpful reminder

here is a helpful reminder of our role in the scheme of things from Jeremiah Burroughs courtesy of Kevin DeYoung.

I beseech you to consider that God does not deal by you as you deal with him. Should God make the worst interpretation of all your ways towards him, as you do of his towards you, it would be very ill with you. God is pleased to manifest his love thus to us, to make the best interpretations of what we do, and therefore God puts a sense upon the actions of his people that one would think could hardly be (The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, 224, emphasis added).

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another review of The Shack

Trevin Wax has the same problem with The Shack that I do. I really like his approach to the “it’s just fiction” argument.

Check this out:

Let’s say you meet an author who wants to use your grandparents as the main characters in a novel. The author tells you that the narrative will be fictional, but that your grandparents will have the starring roles. Sounds great!you think.

But when the manuscript arrives in your hands, you discover that the story does not accurately represent the personalities of your grandparents. The relationship between them is all wrong too. Grandma berates Grandpa. Early on, they run off and elope (which is totally out of character). At one point, they contemplate divorce.

When you complain, the author responds, “Remember? I told you it would be fictional.”

“Yes,” you say, somewhat exasperated, “I knew the story would be fictional, but I thought you would get my grandparents right. The grandparents in your story aren’t anything like my grandparents.”

“Who cares?” the author responds. “It’s a work of fiction.”

“Well, I care,” you say, “because people will put down this book thinking that my grandparents were like the way you portrayed them.”

My biggest problem with The Shack is its portrayal of God. I understand that the book is a work of fiction, not a theological treatise, and therefore should be treated as fiction. But the main characters are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are actual Persons. To portray God in a manner inconsistent with his revelation to us in Scripture (and primarily in Jesus) is to misrepresent living Persons.

When people put down The Shack, they will not have a better understanding of the Trinity (despite the glowing blurbs on the back cover). They will probably have a more distorted view of God in three Persons.

What he says nicely is exactly what I said not nearly as graciously.

I am afraid that if someone reads the Shack and falls in love with Papa, then all they have fallen in love with is a fictional African American woman who likes to cook and give hugs. They have not been led to God. They have not fallen in love with the biblical Jesus.
They have instead been distracted by an anthropomorphic three headed idol created by Wm. Paul Young.

Do not read The Shack and think that you have gained insight into the Trinity as it is portrayed in Scripture.

Trevin goes on to point out some other problems with the book as well as things it does well. Definitely worth a read.

HT to Justin Taylor.

danger of moralistic deism

here is Matt Chandler talking about the necessity of the centrality of the Gospel and the danger when it is assumed.

Love that last line.

“But you don’t put God in your debt. I know this because really really faithful men in the Scripture have it go really really bad for them.”

hat tip to Timmy Brister.

conception of self part II

earlier I quoted C.S. Lewis in Perelandra to illustrate the point that our enemy has as his project the inflation of our ego to the point that we find it difficult to deny anything to ourselves and our own vision of how the world should be.

Satan has as his project affirming to us that we are the most important thing in the world and that everything else revolves around us and what we want and like.

I would submit that there are two basic things that we have to get right before anything else in the Bible or Christian life makes sense. We have to have a proper view of God and we have to have a proper view of ourselves in God.

God is everything. He made everything. He is sovereign over everything. He is God. Isaiah 46 is just one place where He laid it out for His people to see.

9remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
10(K) declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying,(L) ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
11(M) calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
(N) I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.

the first four of the ten commandments are also reminders that God is God and will be worshipped as God.

2(C) “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3(D) “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

4(E) “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5(F) You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am(G) a jealous God,(H) visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing steadfast love to thousands[b] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7(I) “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

8(J) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9(K) Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10but the(L) seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the(M) sojourner who is within your gates. 11For(N) in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The whole point of all creation is to reflect the Glory of God. God chose Israel as His people in order to show the nations who He is. God chose us for the same reason.

God did not save us in order to meet our needs although that is a byproduct according to Matthew 6. God did not save us because He needed anything that we had to offer according to Romans 5:6-8.

God saved us for the praise of His glorious grace.  Check this out.

3(A) Blessed be(B) the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing(C) in the heavenly places, 4(D) even as he(E) chose us in him(F) before the foundation of the world, that we should be(G) holy and blameless before him. In love 5(H) he predestined us[a] for(I) adoption as sons through Jesus Christ,(J) according to the purpose of his will, 6(K) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in(L) the Beloved. 7(M) In him we have(N) redemption(O) through his blood,(P) the forgiveness of our trespasses,(Q) according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9(R) making known[b] to us the mystery of his will,(S) according to his purpose, which he(T) set forth in Christ 10as a plan for(U)the fullness of time,(V) to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11In him we have obtained(W) an inheritance,(X) having been predestined(Y) according to the purpose of him who works all things according to(Z) the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be(AA) to the praise of his glory13In him you also, when you heard(AB) the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him,(AC) were sealed with the(AD)promised Holy Spirit, 14who is(AE) the guarantee[c] of our(AF) inheritance until(AG) we acquire(AH) possession of it,[d](AI) to the praise of his glory.

emphasis added.

you have to get these two things written/engraved/etched into your very heart and soul.

1. God is God
2. Everything in all creation including us exists only and always to reflect God’s glory

that’s it.

So, as believers we are mirrors reflecting God’s glory to the world. Notice something though in II Corinthians 3:18:

18And we all, with unveiled face,(A) beholding(B) the glory of the Lord,[a](C) are being transformed into the same image(D) from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

emphasis added.

Did you see that? in addition to the magnificent, amazing, unbelievable, wonderful, glorious privilege of being glory reflectors, God is also lovingly transforming us into the very image that we are reflecting for His increased glory.

The point is that God is the only light source in the universe. We are mirrors, not suns.

mirrors try to make themselves better reflectors of God. Little make believe suns try to impose their reflection onto the world.

Do you see why these two things matter?

The basic foundational lie of Satan is that we are little light sources ourselves. As little gods, we are thus entitled to all the perks of godness including a world ordered around us and our whims.

notice on page 179 what the Lady learned in Perelandra after she did not succumb to temptation to go on fixed land:

The reason for not yet living on Fixed Land is now so plain. How could I wish to live there except that because it was Fixed? And why should I desire the Fixed except to make sure–to be able on one day to command where I should be the next and what should happen to me? It was to reject the wave–to draw my hands out of Maledil’s [Jesus’s], to say to Him, ‘Not thus, but thus’–to put in our own power what times should roll towards us….as if you gathered fruits together to-day for to-morrow’s eating instead of taking what came. That would have been cold love and feeble trust. And out of it how could we ever have climbed back into love and trust again?”

a cold and feeble love and trust indeed is one that says thank you to God for saving us, now get out of our way while we make our world like we want it. But yet that seems to be what we do, and much pain follows our rash willfulness.

Why do we do it? How can we stop?

God in nature

Challies put up an excellent post yesterday about the nine things he learned about God from nature. Take some time this weekend to read it.

I have also been struck by this fact when I take pictures:

…A GOD OF DETAIL

God overlooked no detail in creating this world. While humans like to declare that certain parts of our bodies are unnecessary or left over from some far-off evolutionary process, nature offers us no such hints. In Planet Earth we cannot help but see the beauty of God in the details—in the tiniest microbes and the largest mammals. God created this world to function perfectly, down to its tiniest and seemingly least significant parts.

If God has seen fit to be involved in the tiniest details of the tiniest creatures He has made, how much more can we trust Him in the details of our lives. The same God who sees the sparrow fall is the God who is present with us as we seek to live our lives in accordance with His will. The God who has woven together this world is the same God who weaves together providence for our good and for His glory.

the details are so amazing. that is why I love macro photography.
aperture experiments

butterflies on lantana

who do you trust? part III

all right, now let’s go back where we started. In John 10:10, Jesus contrasts himself and his mission with the thief.

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came to bring abundant life.

and here are we sheep in the middle. we have a choice to make.

do I send this email to someone not my spouse that will take me a step further down the road to adultery? Do I make this phone call? do I set up this lunch appointment? Do I…..? whatever it is.

What thoughts are going through my head in that moment? My spouse makes me miserable. I should be happy. This other person makes me happy. I can’t bear the thought of staying home with the spouse that makes me miserable. oh, who am I kidding we make each other miserable. Really it isn’t fair to either of us to stay locked down like this in misery. Surely God wants us to be happy. surely it is better for all of us if we just find a way out. After all, the kids shouldn’t have to watch us fight. I feel so awesome when I am around this other person. they make me feel wanted. They make me feel sexy again. and so on and so on.

Here is the thing. As human beings, we can think and reason. We have an absolutely amazing capacity to rationalize what we want to do and make it seem ok. We have an enemy who wants to destroy us who has thousands of years feeding rationalizations by humans to take them down the path to destruction. we also have the remnants of the flesh in us that want to be gratified.

The combination of these elements means that all we like sheep have gone astray. there is not a single one of us who isn’t bent.

we all need God’s power to keep us from rationalizing ourselves into indulging our flesh.

We also need to believe at a very deep level that pursuing God’s way is better for us. Because the bottom line is that we are going to do whatever we really truly want to do.

That is why I have titled this series “who do you trust?” Because that is the question.

Do we trust God who sent His only begotten Son to die a horrible death on the cross so that we could be reconciled to God with our very happiness?

Or do we trust our limited ability to decide what’s best for us as we rock along in our little bubble of RIGHT NOW.

It is kind of silly for us to think that we can do a better job of deciding what is better for us and those we love than God. God who loved us when we were unlovely. God who made the universe. God who designed us. God who cared enough about us to leave us His Word for us to get to know Him better.

But so many times every day that is what we do. We just decide that we know best. We then get off in the ditch and start begging for God to get us out or worse, we blame God for letting us get off the road in the first place.

God hates divorce. He wouldn’t accept offerings from promise breakers. Jesus said that divorce was only given because people were selfish and hard hearted.

So there it is. Do we trust God with our marriage? Or do we trust ourselves and our own rationalizations as we go down the path to blowing up our lives in the name of “happiness”?

worship such a God

Vitamin Z has a quote from D.A. Carson that is well worth repeating.

But despite all the mysteries bound up with the nature of God, I perceive, on the basis of Scripture, that he is simultaneously personal and transcendent. He is utterly sovereign over his created order, yet he is nothing less than personal as he deals with me. Sometimes it is more important to worship such a God than to understand him.

D.A. Carson – A Call to Spiritual Reformation