Friday, January 04, 2008

Great Expectations

Our pastor, Carey Hardy, spoke to several men in our church this morning about expectations. He has been talking to us periodically about growing in our love and devotion for Christ. He explained that one thing that can throw water on the fire of our passion for God is having high expectations - high expectations of what we think our lives should be. That sounds negative at first, but what he means by this is that it can stifle joy if you have your expectations so high that when reality sets in we can get down, depressed, or respond in some other sinful way. This is ultimately an expression of anger towards God and his providence. Bibliclly, we call this idolatry. Ezekiel 14 calls these expectations idols of the heart. James, in chapters 1 and 4 of his letter, calls them lusts. You can know that this is happening when you respond sinfully when something doesn't go the way you expected.

How do we fight against this? Do we just set our expectations in life as low as possible so as to avoid disappointment? Do we just take the mindset that it is better to aim at the gutter to avoid failure? No. We focus on the fact that we don't deserve anything and, therefore, we should be very grateful for anything we get. Pride and ingratitude go together. Humility and gratitude go together.

We should set goals. We should have dreams. But in the end we must always add to our goals and dreams this sentiment: "if the Lord wills."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Book Review: Everyday Talk

I just recently read Everyday Talk by John A. Younts, published by Shepherd Press. John (Jay) Younts is the author of What About War?, In Touch with Paul Stewardship Series. An elder in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP) Church, John has taught on and studied issues related to biblical child rearing for over thirty years. John is a frequent speaker for parenting conferences, church seminars for parents, and youth meetings. He has been interviewed on radio stations around the country. He and his wife Ruth have five grown children and reside in South Carolina (I got this information from his website)

Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally About God with Your Children is basically a guidebook to speaking to and in front of your children in a way that glorifies God and blesses children. The purpose of the book is to encourage parents to talk about God in our everyday talk in accordance with Deuteronomy 6. He defines everyday talk as follows: “talk that happens in the unplanned moments. It happens in casual, unguarded moments. It happens when you are distracted or irritated and would rather not be talking at all.” (11) This kind of talk happens no matter what. But God wants your everyday talk to be about Him! “God wants you to talk about His world. God wants you to talk about what He does and how people respond to Him. He wants you to do this when you’re at home, when you are out and about, when you relax. He wants you to talk about Him with love and awe every day. He wants you to talk freely and naturally to your children about His commands…” (12) Sounds a lot like Deuteronomy 6!

This book was very helpful for me as a father of four. Younts doesn’t just leave it at the theoretical level. He goes in to detail about how to talk about some very important topics, such as the gospel, obedience, preparing for the teen years, the world, sex, and music. He explains how to use the “mundane” topics like the weather to bring out truths about God and His world.

He gives principles for parents to follow and not just dos and don’ts. One specific area where I was challenged was the way in which the truth should be presented. He used Proverbs 1:8-9 to show that we should present the truth as we would a precious piece of jewelry to a child. He explained that if we bought precious jewelry for a child we would not ball it up and throw it at them. We would put it in a special box, wrap it and present it as something special. We should do the same with the truth. Our words should be pleasant. The word of God is precious and therefore we should present it to them as such. Our words are to be spoken in love. Younts was very strong in this area and his words were used by the Lord to help me think about the way I talk to my children about the truth.

There were also several good examples found in the book (both Biblical and otherwise) to help bring these truths into focus.

This book is certainly consistent with some other very good parenting books. Books like Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Tedd Tripp), Age of Opportunity (Paul Tripp), Heart of Anger (Lou Priolo), and Teach Them Diligently (Lou Priolo). I think the contribution lies in the broad range of the topics that he addresses. He doesn’t deal extensively with disciplining and other parenting issues because that was not his goal. His goal was to give parents a theology of God-centered speaking with practical application. If anyone were to ask me what two parenting books I would recommend if they were only going to read two, I would recommend Shepherding a Child’s Heart (first) and Everyday Talk (second) in that order. Shepherding a Child’s Heart lays the foundation and gives the big picture for goals and procedures at each phase of a child’s development. Everyday Talk delves in to some of the more specific areas and challenges.

Far from giving the impression that parents are to just talk, Younts also explains that we must be very intent and serious listeners before we will have anything that is helpful to say. In addition, our lives are own lives as parents are to reflect that we have been changed by the wonderful truths that we are seeking to impart to our children. This is nonnegotiable. I highly recommend this book to anyone with children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, or anyone who knows children that need the truth. I think that covers just about everyone.

The Focus Conference 2008

Check out the website for this excellent youth conference coming up in February 2008. It is going to be a God-centered, cross-focused time of encouragement accompanied with excellent preaching and worship. The Focus Conference 2008 is being put on by my church.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Encyclopedia of Theology

I love this! This is an outline adapted from Abraham Kuyper's Encyclopedia of Theology. It is basically the understanding of a well-rounded theological education. In which elements are we, in today's evangelical environment, weak? Strong? Thoughts about this outling?

A.Books of the Bible-Isagogics
B.Text of the Bible
1.Biblical Philology
2.Textual Criticism
C.Contents of the Bible
1.Bib. Archaeology
2.Bib. History
3.Bib. Theology
Object: the Bible as such
Aim: biblical interpretation

A.Ecclesiastical or Church History
B.Doctrinal History--History of Doctrines
Object: the church in historical manifestation
Aim: historical perspective

6.Holy Spirit
9.Last Things
Object: Christian
doctrine and dogma
Aim: systematic

E.Church Order
Object: the Church as the agency for
propagating the Word
Aim: effective communication

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Lightlings: A Book Review

Publisher's Description: "In The Lightlings, Dr. R.C. Sproul weaves an allegorical tale that captures the essence of the biblical story of redemption. A race of tiny beings known as lightlings represent humanity as they pass through all the stages of the biblical drama—creation, fall, and redemption. In the end, children will understand why some people fear light more than darkness, but why they need never fear darkness again. Richly detailed illustrations by Justin Gerard will hold children’s interest, and discussion questions and Scripture references in the back will help parents guide children into the deeper meaning of the story."

RC Sproul has done it again. As he has done in other children's books like The King Without a Shadow and The Priest with Dirty Clothes, Dr. Sproul uses allegory to bring the beautiful truths of the gospel both down to the level of a child's understanding and up to a new level of profundity for all. Using the Biblical theme of darkness and light, this little children's book explains creation, the fall and its effects as well as the gospel and its reversing effects. I read this book to my three older children (7,4, and 3) and they all got it! They all understood that the Great King of Light was God, that the lightlings were Adam and Eve (and us by extension), and that the Son of the King of Light was Jesus. The questions at the end of the book are very helpful in making all of this clear to the children. The illustrations by Justin Gerard are excellent! One thing that is needed today is an understanding that the gospel is beautiful and that Christ is beautiful. Many people claim to be saved by the gospel but do not savor the beauty of the godhead in it. They merely want to be rescued by it, not to revel in it. This book is a a beutiful meditation on the redemption that we have in Christ. May God use this little book so that many will savor him more fully!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Waldron Continues on Millenium

Sam Waldron has posted several times on his response to MacArthur since the last time I mentioned it on the blog. Go here to see the posts.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Worry as Sin

A good friend of mine has posted an excellent series of blog entries on the subject of worry.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ryle on Training up Children

I was looking online today at monergism and found an online book by Ryle on the duties of parents. In this book, he gives several hints for training your children. I felt chastened when I read hint #2:

"2. Train up your child with all tenderness, affection, and patience.

I do not mean that you are to spoil him, but I do mean that you should let him see that you love him. Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct. Kindness, gentleness, long-suffering, forbearance, patience, sympathy, a willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take part in childish joys, — these are the cords by which a child may be led most easily, — these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way to his heart. Few are to be found, even among grown-up people, who are not more easy to draw than to drive. There is that in all our minds which rises in arms against compulsion; we set up our backs and stiffen our necks at the very idea of a forced obedience. We are like young horses in the hand of a breaker: handle them kindly, and make much of them, and by and by you may guide them with thread; use them roughly and violently, and it will be many a month before you get the mastery of them at all."

How often I am rough and violent, attempting to drive my children (especially my son) to obedience rather than drawing them with the thread of love. How harsh and impatient I often am with them. Thank God for the cross...