In Bruising Ourselves

We must join with God in bruising ourselves. When He humbles us, let us humble ourselves, and not stand out against Him, for then He will redouble His strokes. Let us justify Christ in all His chastisements, knowing that all His dealing towards us is to cause us to return into our own hearts. His work in bruising tends to our work in bruising ourselves. Let us lament our own perversity, and say: Lord, what a heart have I that needs all this, that none of this could be spared! We must lay siege to the hardness of our own hearts, and aggravate sin all we can. We must look on Christ, who was bruised for us, look on Him whom we have pierced with our sins. But all directions will not prevail, unless God by His Spirit convinces us deeply, setting our sins before us, and driving us to a standstill. Then we will cry out for mercy. Conviction will breed contrition, and this leads to humiliation. Therefore desire God that He would bring a clear and a strong light into all the corners of our souls, and accompany it with a spirit of power to lay our hearts low.

From The Bruised Reed, by Richard Sibbes, Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, PA, 1998, p. 11-12.

Double Predestination


Double Predestination

Double predestination can be quite troubling. On the surface, it seems to be a doctrine that points to the fact that God predestines some to become the elect, saved, and spend eternity in heaven with Christ, while the rest, He predestines to agony and hell for all of eternity. This makes God sound almost cruel. I say “almost” due to the fact that the one thing God is not, is “cruel.” He is most benevolent, most gracious, most loving, most kind, most long-suffering. In fact, without God’s intervention into the affairs of mankind, with His self revelation, we fail to understand any of those terms in a real way. So let’s be clear about what I’m not sayin: I’m not saying God is cruel. In fact, God is love. Not the Hollywood, leftist love that says “anything goes.” But the reality of what true love is, in that while we were yet sinners, His Son died on the cross for us.

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Photo of the Week: Roots


Taken from one of our forays to the lake. We’ve only missed one day this week, Wednesday, because we had to go to town for groceries. Every other day, the boys and I have loaded up into the 2000 Saturn Station Wagon ATV, and headed for the gnarly shores of Lake Texoma. We have played “monkey in the middle,” the “submarine game,” many rounds of mud ball fights with me declaring them off limits, and lots of swimming.

Here is the shot of the roots of the tree on the edge of the water. It’s a favorite spot on the lake because not only can I sit in the shade while watching the boys, I plant my chair in the water to stay cool, while reading a good book. So far this summer, I’ve read a John Grisham novel, and now Fighting the Good Fight: A Brief History of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. You may think it boring, but I’m fascinated by it and rejoice at the steadfastness of those in the OPC.

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For the Record

I came really close to publishing something this morning. But upon reading what I wrote with the advantage of a good night’s sleep, came to realize that I wasn’t in the ballpark where my team was playing.

Maybe tomorrow, the weekend, or next week.

I. Can’t. Write.


Ugh!

Nothing is working here of late. I get an idea, it vanishes. I think of something clever, it’s not. I open the page to begin writing, words disintegrate. Great pieces form in my head in the morning, and like the dew evaporate with the heat. I. Can’t. Write.

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Dying to Dreams: Living For Christ


When Christ calls us to follow Him, He really does have us die to everything we hold dear, every expectation, every dream, every desire. He will not leave any room for our own idolatries, no matter how noble they seem to us.

It matters not what the dream or desire may be, even when those dreams or desires are within the scope of biblical Christianity. This is because we have a tendency to take even noble callings, noble desires, and noble responsibilities and turn them into idolatries.

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Photo of the Week: Renovation

While in Johnson City I saw this building that was being renovated. I thought it might make an interesting subject and ventured inside to capture the following pictures. You might think: “can you just walk in a building like that and take pictures?” After working in construction a number of years ago, I learned the trick to going into all kinds of buildings: look like you belong and have a purpose. So with camera in hand, I went inside and every time I lifted the camera to take a picture, the workmen inside scrambled to get out of the picture. I had to chuckle. None of them had the courage to ask me if I belonged there. All they knew was that they didn’t want their pictures taken.


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Unbroken: Further Thoughts


The story of Louis Zamperini is that he was a man that would not be broken by his captors. In the movie, the climactic scene is when Louis is made to lift a large log over his head and hold it with the prospect that if he drops it, he will be beaten. Louis, in his grit and stubbornness, holds the log over his head for 37 minutes. It’s a remarkable feat of strength and determination.

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Photo of the Week: Tennessee Hills


When I moved to eastern Tennessee with Heidi back in 2015, I couldn’t help but being overwhelmed by how beautiful that portion of the state was. I remember driving to church our first Sunday there and seeing a small creek running along side the road, through the front yards of the people who lived along the street. Unlike Texas creeks, which only run after a good hearty rain, this babbling creek had a constant flow over rocks, under bridges, and was full of wildlife. It also has water that was somewhat clear.

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Unbroken


I finished reading Unbroken to our boys last night. Both of them loved the story, even though at times it was hard for them to follow with the Japanese names, some of the technical terms, and the multiple characters involved in the story. But we got through it, all 416 pages of it.

The hardest part of reading it to them, was the detailed abuse that Louis Zamperini endured while a POW. The book was far more graphic than the movie, and the boys got a real taste for the ugliness of war. (I told Heidi at one point that I don’t think I could ever read the book again as it was so gut wrenching.)

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Worse Than the First



In the Gospel of Luke, we find the following parable:

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Luke 11:24-26).

In this parable, Jesus gives us insight into the life of a counterfeit believer. A counterfeit believer is one who is deluded into thinking he or she is a Christian, but is, in reality, not. Jesus is showing us what is taking place in that person on a spiritual level. It’s an insight only He can give us.

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Midweek Photo: Shipwreck

Over the past several months, I’ve watched this boat slowly disintegrate. It was a complete boat the first time I saw it, but I think the owner has the idea of breaking it up into smaller parts to cart it off. I thought it made good photography.

 

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Should Patriotism Have a Place in Worship?

Every Veterans’ Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day, churches all across the country bring out the flag and patriotic tunes in a show of solidarity for God and country. But should they?

To many, it seems harmless to sing such tunes and wave the flag. After all, what could be wrong with showing pride in our country and in recognition of all those who have died in the preservation of this great nation? But when we worship, we enter into the presence of a holy God who is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).  This requires that we enter with reverence and awe, and with holy fear.

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Death-to-Self Diet


Chocolate? Out of the question!

Wine? Are you kidding me?

Beer? Just the smell of one is too many carbs.

Toast? Are you not listening?

A cookie? Now you’re being hardheaded.

Yes, my wife and I are on what I call the Death-To-Self Diet, meaning that you have to die to the idea of eating anything you crave, want, think of, for at least three weeks. It’s a serious diet and is not for those who just toy with diets. You know how some people are, they change diets like they change churches, trying one here, then another there, but never really getting serious about it.

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