David’s Lamentation

This is the John Brown University Cathedral Choir singing at St. Mark’s Dundela in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during their May 2014 missions tour. I was greatly pleased that my daughter had the opportunity to be a part of this group.

And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son! … The king covered his face and the king cried with a loud voice, ‘O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!'”
(2 Samuel 18:33, 19:5)

David’s Lamentation

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Crossway’s free ESV Bible app now available for iPad

So, you have a new iPad and would like to actually do something with it that doesn’t look like you’re worshipping it. You know that free ESV Bible app that Crossway released for the iPod/iPod Touch last month? It’s now available for iPad as well — also for free. Now, this will only be cool if you actually take time to read it. Maybe you won’t need to download as many other apps if you get this one. Just a thought.

Still in school: Learning from a book about failures

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” — John 8:31-33

There is a tendency for me not to get it. And not only to I not get it, I do what I don’t want to do again and again. That is why I am encouraged when I take up the Bible and read it. Why? Because over and over I see people who fail miserably yet are able, with God’s help, to come back to God. I agree with Scotty Smith, who prays “As you dealt with Peter, so deal with me. Give me all the life-giving rebukes I need to keep me living in gospel-sanity.”

We have not graduated from the gospel. We need it each day. The hard lessons are a good thing for me. I am glad for the imperfect people of the Bible who are there to show me that only God can make me what I need to be, what I hope to be.

Scotty’s prayer is a great one. Read it all and let it soak it.

Calvinism: The thing people fear in their churches

What is the most detestable thing a person can imagine happening to their church? A disregard of the scripture? A lack of mission? Triviality or a worship of culture? Moral corruption among church leaders or an unloving attitude? A lack of worship?

No, it seems that a great many fear the teaching of Calvinism. That is, the five points of Calvinism. The doctrines of grace. These things:

  • Total depravity
  • Unconditional Election
  • Limited Atonement
  • Irresistible Grace
  • Perseverance of the saint

That is, you believe that:

  1. We experience first our depravity and need of salvation.
  2. Then we experience the irresistible grace of God leading us toward faith.
  3. Then we trust the sufficiency of the atoning death of Christ for our sins.
  4. Then we discover that behind the work of God to atone for our sins and bring us to faith was the unconditional election of God.
  5. And finally we rest in his electing grace to give us the strength and will to persevere to the end in faith.

Radical stuff, that Calvinism. Goodness knows where that could lead.

Not sure? Here are some things you could read to maybe give you a better idea.

The ESV Study Bible now available as an ePub book

Crossway Books announced Tuesday that the English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible is now available for $14.99 as an ePub book for the iPhone, iPod Touch or other portable devices. To read it (if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch) use the free application Stanza. And, if you don’t have one of those devices, you can also download the free e-reader for your desktop or laptop (if you’re on a Mac) to have the ESV there if you wish.

If you think taking your tunes with you is cool imagine taking God’s word and the comprehensive, complementary material included with the ESV Study Bible. So, this is what we’re talking about:

  • 2 million words of Bible text and insightful teaching.
  • 20,000 notes-focusing especially on understanding the Bible text and providing answers to frequently raised issues.
  • Over 50 articles-including articles on the Bible’s authority and reliability; on biblical archaeology, theology, ethics, and personal application.
  • 200-plus charts-offering key insights and in-depth analysis in clear, concise outline form; located throughout the Bible.*
  • Over 200 maps-created with the latest digital technology, satellite images, and archaeological research; throughout the Bible.
  • 40 all-new illustrations-including renderings and architectural diagrams of the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, Solomon’s temple, Herod’s temple, the city of Jerusalem in Jesus’ time and throughout the history of Israel, and many more.

How about a little encouragement for a change?

Kevin DeYoung gives some encouragement via his latest sermon, from Romans 16:

We probably don’t think of Paul has a great encourager, more of a champion of the gospel or defender of the faith, but the only reason we don’t see him encouraging others is because it happens so frequently. Could you find ways to build up those you love in front of others? We tend to put people in their place more easily. We mention the two things that bother us instead of the ten things we appreciate. Or we give a compliment so that we can tear them down (“He’s a good friend. Nice guy. But…” or “Bless her heart…”). Again, God isn’t asking us to be fake. He isn’t telling us to be mindlessly positive about everyone and everything. But frankly that’s not the problem for most of us. We could use the practice–in emails, letters, in everyday conversation –of building people up with encouraging words. How do you publicly talk about your spouse? Your church? Your pastor? The people in your church? Your parents? Your kids? Your co-workers? Are their legitimate opportunities to sincerely encourage them directly or affirm them before others?

What’s the problem with the church?

Why We Love the ChurchKevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, who brought us “Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be), have teamed up for a new book that looks at the local church and its biblical mandate. The book, called “Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion,” is due out July 1 and is described this way by the publisher:

Why We Love the Church presents the case for loving the local church.  It paints a picture of the local church in all its biblical and real life guts, gaffes, and glory in an effort to edify local congregations and entice the disaffected back to the fold.  It also provides a solid biblical mandate to love and be part of the body of Christ and counteract the “leave church” books that trumpet rebellion and individual felt needs. 

DeYoung, in lead up to the book’s release, looks at reasons people are disillusioned with the church. He breaks those reasons into four groups:

  • Missiological — it doesn’t work any more and is making no difference whatsoever
  • The Personal — it’s views are too harsh toward certain groups and unloving and has an “image problem”
  • The Historical — the church is corrupted from its original pristine state
  • The Theological — the modern view of the church is foreign to what Jesus came for in the Bible

Over the coming weeks, DeYoung will post excerpts from the book and address these concerns. I look forward to reading them and the book’s release.

People of the Book

The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. — Acts 17:10-12

This was the passage we looked at today at church. In the passage, it says the people in Berea “were more noble” than those in Thessalonica, who expelled Paul and Silas from their midst. In the ESV Study Bible, it says: Noble translates the Greek eugenēs, which originally meant “of noble birth” or “well born.” The word was also applied to people who exhibited noble behavior, in that they were open-minded, fair, and thoughtful.

In other words, Luke is commending those who are open-minded when it comes to examining the scripture, those who look to it daily, examining what it says and not trying to shape it with their own biases and preconceived ideas. It is my prayer that I will seek God’s word so that it may teach me, rebuke me, encourage me, shock me and ultimately make me into someone who knows God intimately. The world likes to tell you what the Bible says and how it is either right or wrong about what we see every day. Instead, we need to go to the Bible first and let it be the prism through which we see everything else.