Posts Tagged ‘doug wilson’

This week: twin pregnancy reductions, Christianity and the Crusades, spiritual entropy and big oil.

my twin girls

As a dad of 2 sets of twin girls, none of whom I could imagine my life without, it’s discouraging that this is where we’re at now:

The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy (by Ruth Padawer, NY Times)

What is it about terminating half a twin pregnancy that seems more controversial than reducing triplets to twins or aborting a single fetus? After all, the math’s the same either way: one fewer fetus. Perhaps it’s because twin reduction (unlike abortion) involves selecting one fetus over another, when either one is equally wanted.

Was Christianity responsible for the crusades? (by David Murray)

It is very easy to fingerpoint at Christians of another generation. If the crusading Christians could see how self-serving, worldly, inconsiderate, gender-confused, lazy, and demanding the Christians of today are, I certainly hope that they would not think that our "Christianity" is responsible for that!

Spiritual Entropy, or: The Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Fallacy of Self-Help Christianity
(by Mockingbird)

Trying to ‘will’ ourselves to spirituality by adhering to some form of law will always fail–we will tend to either stay the same or get worse, but certainly no better. Willpower is insufficient to overcome the natural decay of life. If we are left to our own devices, we tend to degenerate.

On Feeling Sorry for Exxon (by Doug Wilson)

For every gallon of gas that is sold in the United States, on average, the local, state and federal taxes come out to 48 cents. The average profit taken away from every gallon of gas by Exxon is –brace yourselves for unsavory news about the oil buccaneers — 2 cents.

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I love the book of Ecclesiastes. It stirs my soul to look to eternal things. It is always a gut check to my love of the world and my appetite for the pleasures of the world. But is it a book of discouragement or of hope? Is it a book pushing for pure self-denial or for complete abandonment to the pursuit of pleasure? Take a look at portions of chapter 2 and chapter 9:

And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 ESV)

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.
    Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.
    Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9:7-9 ESV)

Should we pursue pleasure in this world as believers in Christ? Or shall we count the world as complete worthlessness? Or is there another completely different option?

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 ESV)

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13 ESV)

Only the Believer in God Can Enjoy

God tells us to pursue neither complete asceticism nor hedonism in the things of the world.  What does he say? Enjoyment is in context. What context? First, that God is the giver, and second, God is above all. Still, what does that mean? What does that look like? Doug Wilson helps us out:

When men understand the futility of earthly existence, and they understand it in the way Solomon presents it to us, they are then equipped to enjoy their bread for perhaps the first time. They may consider the redness of the wine and laugh over it with a wise and contented joy. They may turn to love their wives, not because sexual love is forever, but rather because it is not. In the world of creatures, we may only enjoy what we do not worship.

But we cannot rejoice in our silly lives until we understand that it is our portion assigned to us by an infinite wisdom. We cannot really understand that it is our portion until we have faith in the God who apportions. – Joy at the End of the Tether, p93

God is the only one whom we can both worship and enjoy! Food can only be enjoyed when it is not worshipped, not used to fill the void, not the primary source of joy, not an addiction, nor idolized. This is both encouraging and extremely convicting to me because I can definitely place food and drink as a source of comfort above God. I can pin my satisfaction on the next good meal, that In-n-Out burger or Chipotle burrito. In my family, it’s always been “live to eat” and not hardly ever “eating to live.” It’s easy to overlook this. I’ve especially been quick to overlook the idol of food. Ecclesiastes is a dagger to our worldly idols.

Duty and Joylessness are not the Answer Either

The fact that food can become an idol doesn’t mean "eating to live” is better either. God’s gifts are not meant to simply be dutifully devoured but gratefully enjoyed as an actual gift should be. Do you give gifts to others so they can stoically say thank you? Do you give gifts so they can be buried for fear of too much enjoyment? No way. You give gifts so they can be enjoyed. The whole point of a gift is an impartment of joy! God did not give us taste or smell or any of our senses for nothing but that they would turn our hearts to him out of enjoyment of the gift.

This brings us to the crux of Ecclesiastes: Satisfaction cannot come from anything within our power but only by the gift of God. The fool cannot enjoy anything but only the wise man who acknowledges and has faith in the Giver.

The great Hebrew philosopher who wrote this book called Ecclesiastes calls us to joy, but to a joy which thinks, a joy which does not shrink back from the hard questions.

All things considered, the furious activity of this world is about as meaningful as the half-time frenzy at the Super Bowl. But a wise man can be there and enjoy himself. This is the gift of God. The wise will notice how this point is hammered home, throughout the book, again and again. Slowly it dawns on a man that this is really a book of profound… optimism. Joy at the End of the Tether, p9,13

Ecclesiastes is a Book of Hope

The book of Ecclesiastes should encourage us. The power to seek our own joy is not from within but it’s a gift from outside of ourselves. The good news is that the Giver is very eager to satisfy us, if we would just let Him, both now and later.

    Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
    and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
    Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
    Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
    Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food. (Isaiah 55:1-2 ESV)

The even better news is that the gifts are just an pointer to the best gift, the true gift, the gift that is eternal and what we were made for: God Himself.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, Philippians 3:8-9 ESV)

Actually, I was wrong. We are indeed called to be hedonists, completely given over to the pursuit of pleasure… in God Himself. We won’t be disappointed.

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This week: Jonathan Edwards’ first resolution, the grace-loving antinomian, redemptive embarrassment, and some thoughts on family worship.

Jonathan Edwards’ First Resolution (by Matt Perman/What’s Best Next)

First, he sees no ultimate conflict between his good and God’s glory. God’s glory is most important, but his good is found in pursuing God’s glory. There is no ultimate conflict between his joy and the magnification of God’s excellence.

An Open Letter To Mr. Grace-Loving Antinomian (by Tullian Tchividjian)

There seems to be a fear out there that the preaching of radical grace produces serial killers. Or, to put it in more theological terms, too much emphasis on the indicatives of the gospel leads to antinomianism (a lawless version of Christianity that believes the directives and commands of God don’t matter). My problem with this fear is that I’ve never actually met anyone who has been truly gripped by God’s amazing grace in the gospel who then doesn’t care about obeying him

Redemptive/Historical Embarrassment (by Doug Wilson/Blog & Mablog)

They know further that the only reason they are keeping quiet is that they would be ashamed to be identified with a position that has had so much opprobrium heaped on it. And believe me, the lordship of Jesus over everything will always have opprobrium heaped on it. Who wants to be a nutter? Keep it respectable, champ. Keep your head down. Read those books, certainly. Enjoy them in your study, friend. No harm in that,  but don’t go to extremes. Keep your head down.

How I Lead My Children in Personal Devotions (by Tim Challies)

I find that the kids are quite eager to do devotions, but also very quick to lose the habit if I do not help them maintain it. It was not until I stepped up my leadership that they began to do it with regularity.

Second Thoughts on Family Worship (by Jerry Owen/Credenda Agenda)

We simply are not required to have a set, formal, liturgical time of worship as families. I’m glad some people do this and benefit from it, and as far as they do, I’m for it, but no one should feel it is something they ought to do. This is not the same thing as saying parents shouldn’t read the Bible, pray and talk about God with their children. Of course they should. And it’s helpful if this is regular, methodical, and often. But some of the healthiest Christian families I know never had “family worship” formally conducted.

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Happy birthday to my sweet 5 year old twin girls today! It’s hard to believe I am the dad of a 6 year old and two 5 year olds (along with 2 other little ones)!

This week: better to be sorry than safe, Doug Wilson on time management, being a do-it-yourselfer in the gospel, and social animals.

“It is better to be safe, rather than sorry…ONLY IN AN AIRPORT SENSE!”
(Mockingbird Blog)

When safety is the goal, we stand on our own two feet.  This then puts us on the defensive because we must maintain our own perceived idea of perfection. In this posture, grace is a noun; it is what I need from God to help me maintain my perfection and stay safe. This is contrasted with being sorry, which places us on our knees. Grace then is a verb, God’s unmediated forgiveness and mercy towards the imperfect.  Therefore, the importance of being sorry, rather than safe, is central to understanding the Gospel.

Seven Thoughts on Time Management (by Doug Wilson)

The point is fruitfulness, not efficiency. You should want to be fruitful like a tree, not efficient like a machine.

We Are Seasoned Do-It-Yourselfers (by Tullian Tchividjian)

As it was with Martha in Luke 10:38-42, so it is with us: we just have to be doing something. We can’t sit still. Achieving, not receiving, has become the mark of spiritual maturity. With this in mind, Martin Luther wrote, “To be convinced in our hearts that we have forgiveness of sins and peace with God by grace alone is the hardest thing.” The hardest thing to do even as believers in Christ is to simply sit down and receive something…

Looking for Joy in All the Right Places (by Collin Hansen)

Until we truly begin to understand and embrace the strong-group model of the church as a family, we will have neither the theological foundation nor the social capital necessary to act in a manner diametrically opposed to the dominant culture of radical individualism. We will successfully swim upstream against the raging river of personal sin and selfishness only in the context of community as God intends it.

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This week: excellent thoughts on parenting by Kevin DeYoung, some closing thoughts on the death of OBL by Doug Wilson, and 2 must read articles discussing the increasing effect of pornography, including Russell Moore giving some steps overcome it in our churches.

Parenting 001 (by Kevin DeYoung)

I worry that many young parents are a) too adamant about the particulars of their parenting or b) too sure that every decision will set their kids on an unalterable trajectory to heaven or hell. It’s like my secretary at the church once told me: “Most moms and dads think they are either the best or the worst parents in the world, and both are wrong.” Could it be we’ve made parenting too complicated? Isn’t the most important thing not what we do but who we are as parents? They will see our character before they remember our exact rules regarding television and twinkies.

Seven Thoughts on the Assassination of Bin Laden (by Doug Wilson)

As I have written before, we must not allow our awareness of our own sinfulness, and the fact that all of us die as a result of that sin, to flatten the distinctions between sins. There is such a thing as great evil, and to recognize the fact is not the equivalent of denying that you yourself have sinned.

Arousing Ourselves to Death (by Russell D. Moore)

An incarnational picture of sexuality, rooted in the mystery of the gospel, is the furthest thing possible from the utilitarian ugliness of pornography. Our first step must be to show why pornography leaves a person, and a culture, so numb and empty. Human sexuality is, as our colleague Robert George put it, more than “body parts rubbing against one another.”

Pride and Prejudice and Porn (by Mark Mitchell)

Admittedly, Austen’s world is idealized, yet consider this: who would you prefer your daughter to bring home? 1) a young man whose sexual imagination has been formed by Jane Austen along with Homer, Virgil, The Song of Solomon, Dante, and Shakespeare or 2) a young man who has spent the last ten years of his life fantasizing about women whose images he has objectified and consumed through pornography? Who will make a better husband? A better lover? A better father? That so many of our young men are being shaped by pornography does not bode well for our young ladies or for our society as a whole. If we are witnessing the passing of the gentlemen, there is much to lament. Although the path is difficult and the outcome uncertain, perhaps it’s time for the gentleman to stage a comeback.

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And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17-22 ESV)

Doug Wilson calls attention to the uniqueness of Mark’s account of the rich young man in a recent post, “A Good Ending.” He has some interesting thoughts that I’d never heard before:

We find the story of the rich young ruler in all three synoptics, but the gospel of Mark has some unique details (Mark 10:17). In Matthew and Luke, he just shows up somehow, and asks his question (Matt. 19:16;Luke 18:18). But in Mark, he runs up and he kneels. In all three, when Jesus gives His answer, the young man is sorrowful and goes away. But in Mark alone, we are told that in giving the answer, Jesus looked at him and loved him. My supposition, which connects to some other odd statements in the New Testament, is that that this young man was John Mark himself, and this is why we have the additional details. If so, the story has a good ending.

I had never noticed the difference how the Mark text said that Jesus loved him or how he runs up and kneels. Instantly, thanks to Mr. Wilson, I saw the connection to John. If you’ve never seen this before, in each gospel, except for Luke (who was not a direct witness nor connected with one), the author has a way of working himself into the story. Matthew is highly likely the tax collector in Matthew 9:9, John the disciple whom Jesus loved in John 21:20, and Mark has usually been accepted as the man who runs away naked in Mark 14:51-52. However, Mr. Wilson points out another option: maybe Mark (also known as John Mark in the book of Acts) was the rich young man. I think he might be right because of how the language used in Mark matches how John describes himself (as the disciple whom Jesus loved) in his gospel. Both use the description of being loved by Jesus.

I noticed one additional thing about the rich young man. As I read the account in Matthew about a week ago, I was struck by how the young man asks “What do I still lack?” after he answers Jesus’ question about obeying the commandments. This man knows he is still missing something. He did not come to Jesus to justify himself but to seek what he knows he is lacking! Each account details him walking away sorrowful but this is not a boasting man like the Pharisees or lawyers of the gospel accounts. This young man seems haunted by Jesus. He knows his surface level obedience is not enough. He wants more than just his riches. Maybe he got he wanted.

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This week: a good summary of the disaster in Japan from one of my pastors, talking to your kids about sex, and a unique Palin critique from Doug Wilson.

The Japanese Tsunami – Summary of Video, News, Opinion, Biblical Responses & Charitable Opportunities (by Mitch Majeski)

It all happened while we watched and gasped. Never before has the world been exposed to such vivid and comprehensive footage of a disaster of this magnitude.  The Japanese Tsunami is unique among all natural catastrophes in its power and exposure to the world. The images have been riveting but it is critical for us to remember they are indeed real. Real people were consumed. Real people were scrambling from those horrifying waters.

How to Talk Your to Your Kids About Sex (by Mark & Grace Driscoll)

The “sex talk” is not a one-off conversation. Regular dialog about sexuality should begin when children are young and last until they’re married for the sake of loving, biblical guidance. The fact is parents are not always able to shelter their kids from every single outside influence.

A Palin Critique (by Doug Wilson)

This is the one regnant corruption that a Palin presidency would likely make worse, and it is not a trivial point. She has a strong constitutionalist streak (GR. 143), and another libertarian streak, which, when combined with her feminism, could easily lead to a toxic mix on issues like women in combat, women being susceptible to the draft, DADT in the military, homosexual civil unions, and so on.

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