What I Read Online – 07/26/2011 (a.m.)

    • But beyond that moment of truth each week, and beyond asking God to give you understanding and a heart for your people, does prayer play a role in your sermon preparation? Too many of us treat prayer as if it’s simply a step in the process between reading the text for the first time and finding our illustrations. We need to regain a theological vision in which prayer becomes the posture of the preacher, for before our people can hear from God through us, we must hear from God ourselves. And hearing from God through his Word is the fundamental work of prayer.
    • The point of prayer is realignment, as our hearts assume a posture of dependence and humility before God. Prayer places our needs in the perspective of God’s sufficiency, our problems in the perspective of his sovereignty, and our desires in the perspective of his will. Prayer is not a monologue. Rather, prayer invites God to have the last word with us, and for his Word to shape and define us.
    • One of the habits I learned from an older preaching mentor was to praise God in prayer for something I saw revealed about him in the passage I was going to preach—and not just privately.
    • First, Lewis highlights the subtle ways that modern education marginalizes value statements.
    • Second, this marginalization of value statements results in a sharp separation in the mind of the student between objective “facts” and subjective “values.” The former are rational, testable, and important. The latter are “contrary to reason and contemptible” (25). Moreover, this separation of fact and value is not a creed that is taught explicitly, but an atmosphere and tone that is inhaled and absorbed. It becomes a part of a student’s mental framework of assumptions, and it does so without critical analysis or reflection.
    • Third, a student who thus begins to assume this fact/value distinction will begin to display two traits that are harmful to himself and to society.
    • What does this famous verse teach about fallen man’s ability to choose Christ? The answer, simply, is nothing.
    • We conclude that fallen man is still free to choose what he desires, but because his desires are only wicked he lacks the moral ability to come to Christ. As long as he remains in the flesh, unregenerate, he will never choose Christ. He cannot choose Christ precisely because he cannot act against his own will. He has no desire for Christ. He cannot choose what he does not desire. His fall is great. It is so great that only the effectual grace of God working in his heart can bring him to faith.
    • One problem, as I’ve heard it put, is that law is our native language.  We speak law fluently.  There exists a native tendency toward self-righteousness, toward punitive justice, toward dead external works.  Though the law should condemn us–and condemn us good!–we unwittingly believe ourselves able to rise up to the demands of the law.  Of course, we would never say such a thing.  We just live that way.  We would never resort to the law for justification–we’re not legalists, after all.  But, we do imagine perfection a genuine possibility.  We make it a goal to “always strive for perfection.”  What is that, but the law pronounced with more syllables?  Surely the older we get the less confident we ought to be of ever attaining perfection.  But we remain confident and committed to the goal of perfection because grace is not our native language; law is.
    •  Grace reigns through righteousness.  When grace vanquishes sin, it establishes the reign of righteousness throughout the realm until eternal life is consummated.  That’s why grace and license are incompatible.  License reigns through lust and sin and death.  But we’ve been freed from that.  We’ve died to the law and died to sin.
    • It would profit us greatly to beware that godless teaching that “changes the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 4b).  And we must beware of our own heart’s tendency to turn grace into lawlessness, or to resort back to the law as a means of righteousness.  Both are gospel denying retreats.  For the true grace of God turns the lawless into the righteous and brings eternal life where the law brought death.
    • I aim to say important theological things. And I aim to say them in a compelling way.
    • This means that Tweets do not diminish my ability to have a complete thought, they demand it. That’s what a Tweet is—a thought that is complete enough to press some God-focused truth into someone’s consciousness.
    • This kind of tweeting does not distract from thinking. It demands thinking. A peculiar kind of thinking—thinking that is capacious, concise, and compelling.
    • The constraint of 125 characters (I always leave 15 free for retweeting) is wonderful. It forces conciseness. It is a very fruitful discipline. It requires a good deal of thought to make it work. It brings out some surprisingly creative ways of saying what needs to be said.
    • Tweeting is to preaching what the book of Proverbs is to the book of Romans
    • The nineteenth century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche shrewdly observed that in his day the bourgeois elites of Europe wanted  the fruit of Christianity (i.e., moral culture) without the tree itself (i.e., the actual doctrine and practice).  Breivik is not a poster-boy for “Christian fundamentalism,” but the fulfillment of Nietzsche’s prophecy.  It’s one thing to confuse the kingdom of Christ with the kingdoms of this age, but we need a new category besides “fundamentalism” for the secular faith in “Christendom” without Christ.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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About Joe Fleener

Lover of Christ & His Gospel, Husband to Mandy, Father to three wonderful children, Servant to the Local Church, Bible College Lecturer
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