love

The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by DA Carson

The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by DA Carson

DA Carson is one of the clearest and deepest thinkers in the Reformed evangelical world. In The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God Carson tackles what is perhaps the most difficult issue for Reformed thinkers to grapple with: if the God of the Bible is sovereign, can he really be loving?

Before making his case for what the love of God looks like, Carson grapples with the distortion of the love of God. In Carson’s words, “The love of God has been sanitized, democratized, and above all sentimentalized.”

Carson spends the first two chapters parceling out the love of God. First, Carson lays out what is his most significant contribution in the book: a layered understanding of the love of God. In doing so, Carson comes to grips with the multitude of ways God is talked about scripturally. For instance, how does one reconcile God’s love of the world with his love of the elect? It is a surprisingly difficult task that Carson has an elegant solution for.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      How America Grew Bored with Love: This is a damning indictment by David Masciotra: " It has become the stuff of cliché to read “cutting edge” cultural critics deconstruct popular love stories like Pretty Woman and Say Anything, reimagining them as predatory tales of women surrendering to sexual harassment. Never mind that the largest audiences for these films were always and will likely remain women."

2.      Are you Middle Class? Helpful little chart.

3.      Confessions of a Glory Hoarder: Cassi Crowley talks about the painful sanctification of motherhood: " Not surprisingly, motherhood threw a wrench into my self-glorification. I haven’t received nearly as much glory as I’ve been accustomed to in previous seasons. In the academic world, you get grades and diplomas. In the professional world, you get performance reviews and promotions. In the social world, you get friends and influence. In motherhood, you get dirty diapers and sleep deprivation."

4.      A Hundred Year-Old Reflection on Self-Forgetfulness: BB Warfield concludes, "Only, when, like Christ, and in loving obedience to His call and example, we take no account of ourselves, but freely give ourselves to others, we shall find, each in his measure, the saying true of himself also: “Wherefore also God hath highly exalted him.” The path of self-sacrifice is the path to glory."

5.      The Earth Below: Beautiful time lapse. Makes you want to pick up Genesis 1, doesn't it?

Shining Idols: Uncovering and Uprooting Them

Shining Idols: Uncovering and Uprooting Them

What are the idols of your heart? What are the ways in which you have allowed your heart which is intended to worship God, to worship the golden calves that surround us?[i] There are several ways to diagnose our hearts. Ask yourself the question: what keeps me up when I’m trying to sleep? What do I fear? What do I think about? What do I daydream about? What gets me most excited in life? What do I give myself to? What do you use your time for?[ii]

Often what we will first uncover are the superficial idols. Maybe it’s pornography or adultery, or maybe it’s alcohol, television, or shopping. Or maybe it’s fitness, sports, work, patriotism, or family. Everything can be turned into an idol. And these gods are rarely solitary.[iii] Gods open doors for gods. Culturally, we are often taught therapeutic methods to deal with these idols, often exchanging one idol with another seemingly “good” idol. We exchange pornography for patriotism, alcohol for fitness, television for family and think that we’ve fixed ourselves, but we haven’t. We are still worshiping a god. There are many churches out there who preach the good news of these better gods: family and patriotism and financial security. But these are still gods, and while they are good gifts from the Giver, they are still just gifts.

But there are deeper idols that lurk behind these superficial idols. The enemy is quite content to have us replace these superficial idols with "better" idols that serve the same function in our lives. What lies deeper? What are you trying to get when you crave coming home and collapsing on the couch and watching TV? What need are you filling when you shop?

The Drama of Marriage

The Drama of Marriage

In pre-marital counseling, you can almost see couples wince when I bring up Paul’s admonition to wives in Ephesians 5. Paul’s instructions to married couples begin with those fated words, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” That phrase has bothered many modern Christians. Those are words that denominations have divided over. And they are words that have been misunderstood by most.

Recently we were studying Ephesians 5 in our connection group. We had a rich conversation about the passage that hinged on the two most important truths in the passage. Each of those truths is grossly neglected in contemporary conversations around Ephesians 5 and each deserves to be re-examined.

First: Paul argues in Ephesians 5 that marriage is a God-ordained drama that points to something bigger than us. Again and again in the passage, Paul tells us that our marriages are a play that God has designed to point to his relationship with the church. Would you re-read the passage with me and look for all the times Paul likens the wife to the church and the husband to Jesus in this drama?

The Anti-Hero's Final Lesson: Love

The Anti-Hero's Final Lesson: Love

Do you know Jonah’s last words in the Bible?

“Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.”[i]

Those are not words motivated by suffering or grief. Those are words that come straight out of the hateful heart of our anti-hero, a prophet who cannot bear that God would have compassion on a city he deemed worthy of destruction and upset that the God who provided a plant for shade for him would allow it to wither.

The compassion of God knows no bounds. He orchestrates the salvation of a city that every Jew would have longed to see the destruction of. A city that was not only a military threat to the Israelites, but whose pagan worship was a stench to those loyal to the one true God.

It is the Hero who has the final say in Jonah. These final words reveal God’s love and call us to this deep compassion:

Why We Offer So Much More Than “Sending Good Thoughts”

Why We Offer So Much More Than “Sending Good Thoughts”

Your co-worker has just shared with you that her son is battling a drug addiction. You press in and provide a listening ear. But as the conversation closes, what do you say? Nothing? That you will pray for her family? Or do you ask if you could pray with her right then?

I’ve done all three, and there are circumstances where all three are wise and godly responses. But usually praying for a friend with a request then and there is the best response. There have been far too many times when I have not prayed with someone who needed prayer or told them I would pray for them later when the most loving thing I should have done for them was to pray with them right there.

Offering to pray for someone in the moment can feel incredibly awkward. Your mind races: do they even believe in God? What god do they believe in? Are they going to be offended if I ask?

6 Things to Do Before You Leave Your Church

6 Things to Do Before You Leave Your Church

So, you’ve decided to leave your church: you’re moving, or you’ve come to a doctrinal impasse, or there has been conflict that you’ve tried to navigate, but the church has been unwilling to biblically walk through a peacemaking process to bring about reconciliation.

As a pastor, every person who leaves the church hurts. As a pastor of ten years, there have been hundreds that have left the churches I’ve served at and I can only think of a very small handful that I was glad to see go. Every goodbye is painful.

But, as we discussed last week, there are times to say goodbye (although a lot fewer than we are encultured to believe). When you say goodbye, say goodbye well. Sadly, in today’s culture, most of us say goodbye very poorly (usually by not saying goodbye at all, just slipping away). We’re called to say goodbye in a harder, but better, way.

What Our 2 Year Old Foster Child Taught Me About Care

What Our 2 Year Old Foster Child Taught Me About Care

Valentijn was hand-in-hand with the aid and Romeo in the crook of her arm. The aid had just driven the boys from the shelter, where they had spent three weeks. Chubby Romeo was ten months old at the time and well adjusted. It was two-year old Valentijn who had been impacted the most significantly. This was the third time Valentijn had been removed from his home. He was affectionate but fragile without boundaries.

As the Department of Childcare Services Specialist filled out the transfer paperwork to make our foster care official, Valentijn sat on my lap and pulled out the decorative pine cones from the bowl on the table and chucked them on the ground, one by one.

Not knowing what it looked like to love and discipline him well, I sat there, semi-stunned, and let him disassemble my wife’s handiwork. From that first moment, I knew parenting these two would prove to be a much different task than raising our two biological children.