16 March 2018

This 'n' That

No, this isn't the picture.
In my house hangs a picture of a flute. I found it years ago at an art show in Chicago. I originally bought this picture for two primary reasons. First, it was drawn in pastels, a medium that has always held the fascination of this artistically deficient blogger. I remember wanting to learn to draw with pastels as a young teenager. Suffice it to say that, if you don't have artistic talent, it doesn't matter what tool is in your hand, you still can't draw! I also purchased this picture because I once played the flute (I think I actually did that well, in spite of my tone deafness) and always love to hear flute music. It's one of my favorite instruments.

I don't play the flute anymore (though I admit that I wish I did and I have picked it up a few times over the years), but this picture remains on my wall as a reminder. It reminds me of junior high days gone by, when life, which seemed so overwhelming and complicated at the time, was actually quite simple and enjoyable. It reminds me of the beauty and complexity of music, and what a great gift it is from our gracious Heavenly Father. It reminds me that not everything will come naturally or easily. Some things take practice, and some things take time to work themselves out. In the end, with perseverance, all the notes and scales come together into a beautiful masterpiece.

In an odd way, this picture reminds me of Romans 8:28.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Now, when we fallen humans try to execute our musical masterpieces called life, we stumble and we hit bad notes (to put it mildly). What a blessed comfort it is, though, to know that even those sour notes are being used by our God—indeed, they were even written by Him into the score—to bring things together for His glory and our good. What a remarkable God we serve!

Well, while I ponder whether I should pull out my flute and try to remember my scales, why don't you be thankful you are out of earshot as you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

12 March 2018

Equipping Eve: Hopeology

John MacArthur has said, “Life without hope is bleak.” He’s right. The reality is, Christians are the only ones who know what true hope is because Christians are the only ones who know the One who is the source of true hope, Jesus Christ.

Additional Resource

09 March 2018

This 'n' That

Well, it's coming. Daylight Savings Time (DST) arrives on Sunday. Yes, it's the time of year when folks show up late to church, or, if on time, are yawning with exhaustion from the loss of an hour of sleep. Nothing says "Happy Spring" like increases in heart attacks and car accidents.

I once lived in a place that did not observe DST (only part of the state opted not to change its clocks). At the time, it annoyed me simply because I didn't understand why that part of the state couldn't be "normal" like the rest of the country. Now, I miss it. Why? Because I have come to the conclusion that DST is not overly useful, particularly in this age of electricity. Let's face it, even if it is still light outside, I am probably going to turn on the lights in my office or family room so that I can be most effective at whatever task needs to be accomplished. Most of us who work do so in well-lit offices, even though the sun is up during our core hours, do we not?

In 2013, National Geographic reported on some of the studies that have been conducted to determine the benefit, if any, of DST.
Environmental economist Hendrik Wolff, of the University of Washington, and colleagues found that the practice did indeed drop lighting and electricity use in the evenings—but that higher energy demands during darker mornings completely canceled out the evening gains. [...]

In terms of energy savings, Downing said, Wolff's and other studies are no longer in much dispute: It's clear that DST doesn't save energy in the big picture.

Part of the story that is often ignored, he added, is the energy required to get people from place to place—gasoline. In fact the petroleum and automobile industries have always been huge supporters of DST, Downing said.

"When you give Americans more light at the end of the day, they really do want to get out of the house. And they go to ballparks, or to the mall and other places, but they don't walk there. Daylight saving reliably increases the amount of driving that Americans do, and gasoline consumption tracks up with daylight saving." (Source)
And for those of us who grew up thinking that DST was necessary for farmers, well, we were lied to (shocking, I know). According to the article cited above, farmers were a group most strongly opposed to the idea.

So, I will change my clocks tomorrow night, simply because it does no good to rebel against this particular system. Let it be known, though, that I am not thrilled about it. Also, a huge shoutout to smartphone designers for designing those clocks to change themselves. Otherwise, I most certainly would not awaken in time to get to church!

Okay, now that this week's grumbling-fest is over, before you take a pre-DST nap, why not take a few minutes to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

02 March 2018

This 'n' That

Shockingly, I don't really have much to say today. It's been a very long, not-so-fabulous week and my brain is absolutely fried. Forming coherent thoughts—much less putting them together into equally coherent sentences—is not something that I feel I can excel at this week. Our dear brother Charles Spurgeon, however, never seemed unable to voice his thoughts clearly:
Dear brethren, do not despise the day of small things. Rest assured that God does not save by numbers, and that results are not in the spiritual kingdom in proportion to numbers....

Again, and again, and again, repeat the feeble stroke, and there shall come to be as much result from it as from one tremendous blow. God accepts your little works if they are done in faith in his dear Son. God will give success to your little works: God will educate you by your little works to do greater works; and your little works may call out others who shall do greater works by far than ever you shall be able to accomplish. Evangelists, go on preaching at the street corner--you that visit the low lodging-houses, go on. Get into the room and talk of Jesus Christ there as you have done. You that go into the country towns on the Sabbath and speak on the village-greens of Christ, go on with it. I am glad to see you, but I am glad to miss you when I know you are about the Master's work. We don't want to keep the salt in the box: let it be rubbed into the putrid mass to stay the putrification. We don't want the seed forever in the corn-bin: let it be scattered and it will give us more. Oh! brethren and sisters, wake up if any of you are asleep. Don't let an ounce of strength in this church be wasted--not a single grain of ability, either in the way of doing, or praying, or giving, or holy living. Spend and be spent, for who hath despised the day of small things? The Lord encourage weak believers, and the Lord accept the efforts of feeble workers, and send to both his richest benediction for Christ's sake. Amen.

—Charles Spurgeon, Encouragement for the Depressed
Do not worry, friend, if you feel that you are a feeble worker for the Lord. Strive only to be a faithful worker. With that, I hope you have time today to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

23 February 2018

This 'n' That

Consider the trail you are leaving behind you. Does it lead to truth?
Men die. Women die. All of us, unless the Lord should come for His Church, will die a physical death. Let us pray, then, that we would leave behind a legacy of faithfulness to Christ and His Word, no matter the cost.

This is what has long disappointed me about groups such as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). These are organizations, yes, but they are made up of men and women who profess Christ, but whose willingness to compromise His truth is troubling. The early ecumenical compromise of groups such as these should serve as a warning to us, even as individuals. May our legacy not be tainted by our striving to placate everyone. May we seek only to please and bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ alone.

As one example of such compromise, I've long been troubled by this interview Billy Graham did with Robert Schuller, wherein he clearly states that a person can be saved apart from knowledge of Jesus Christ. Such a message is a false, damning gospel, no matter who speaks it. I hear or read people justifying this statement of Graham's by attributing it to his declining health. Considering the interview took place back in 1997, I'm not certain that's a robust argument.

An eagerness for unhealthy ecumenism and compromise can be traced throughout the history of the BGEA. This is clearly documented in Iain Murray's book, Evangelicalism Divided. I urge everyone to read this book. There, Murray writes,
Achieving 'common ground' with Roman Catholicism is one of the things for which [writer] Mark Noll commends Graham. But agreement with non-evangelicals has gone still further. In 1978, McCall's magazine quoted Graham as having said, 'I used to believe that pagans in far countries were lost if they did not have the gospel of Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that.' (Murray, Iain H. Evangelicalism Divided. The Banner of Truth Trust: 2001. 73)
BSF as an organization, too, has long sought to befriend the Roman Catholic Church, as described in founder A. Wetherell Johnson's biography.

The purpose of my words here is not to appear judgmental of a specific man or woman, for we are all weak and fallen individuals. I write this instead as a means of encouraging us to test all things against scripture, for fruit can sometimes appear shiny on the outside but be found a host to worms on the inside. God's Word never returns void, but that does not mean we remain silent when that Word is compromised. Visible wayward fruit ought to remind us that none of us are above deception. We are all sustained in the truth by God's grace alone, and He must be our daily lifeline, through the reading and study of scripture and through prayer, so that we remain true to His Word and His will.

Well, if you're still reading (I suspect I lost some of you forever), I do hope that you enjoy this week in review (kind of):