Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Best Book I Have Read in a LONG Time

these uploads are from my blog: www.jayopsis.blogspot.com
all of April will be devoted to Calvin

Book Review: John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology. Edited by Burk Parsons. 2008 Reformation Trust Publishing. www.reformationtrust.com

John Calvin turns 500 this summer! All over the world there are publications, parties, and pilgrimages to commemorate the milestone.

I first encountered Calvin’s theology and “Institutes” when I was a young seminary student. My first experience with Calvin is somewhat like a first taste of beer. Everyone says its good, but you will have to fake it until you develop a taste for it.

I was like a lot of young people- skeptical and suspicious of anything stuffy and dogmatic. It never crossed my mind that my youthful pride and foolishness condemned something before I even tried to understand it.

I shouldn’t feel so bad about it. I was just fulfilling prophecy. I Timothy 4:3-4 in particular,
“3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

I wasn’t long before I noticed something strange about Calvin- his teachings weren’t so bad, but the Scriptures were just horrible!

At some point, I agreed to the merits of Calvinism. I incorrectly stuffed everything inside the ‘TULIP’ and moved on, never ever wanting to mention such. If someone accused me of being a Calvinist, I shrank back like I had been accused of admiring ballet or classical music.

I rediscovered Calvin in my late 30’s. My children were older, I was tired of TV, and so I began to shuffle through quotes in books and internet articles. I began to read sermons and papers.

My heart was set aflame by this man’s zeal for Christ- no matter the cost. His zeal was from one solitary source- a Holy Spirit taught, unadulterated word of God!

Just recently, I picked up a brand new book on Calvin- John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology. Each chapter stands on its own and is written by many of my contemporary heroes: Stephen Lawson, Phillip Johnson, Philip Graham Ryken, Harry Reeder and many others.

This one book captures the essence of Calvin better than my almost 2 years of independent reading and dredging through all of the wonderful stuff.

Over the next few blogs, I will be writing about some of my ‘new’ discoveries. I will tell you this, after every chapter I felt myself doing two things. First was repentance, “Lord forgive me for my cold heart toward you and my cowardice of Your truth.” The second was, “Make me just a little more like John Calvin.”

And how do you do that? Devour the Holy Book of God and determine to do it.

More to follow……

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Expedition of Futility and Faith

I think one of the most amazing passages of Scripture is found in Numbers 13 and 14 where God has Moses send the 12 scouts into Canaan to explore the land He was going to give them.

You could write an entire book about organization, leadership, faith, courage, and painful consequences of failure.

The tribes all picked representatives. Only two, Joshua and Caleb, ended up with the ‘muster’ and ‘moxie’ to make it to the end.

The sin of the others is well known. Not only did they have a negative report based on their view of the circumstances but they ‘spread discouraging reports’ to the Israelites. Their trumped up stories caused the people to weep and cry all night.

Caleb’s immediate report was so different: Numbers 13:30 ‘But Caleb tried to encourage the people as they stood before Moses. "Let's go at once to take the land," he said. "We can certainly conquer it!"

Later, Joshua and Caleb in tears and torn clothing cry out to the people- ‘ "The land we explored is a wonderful land! And if the LORD is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey, and he will give it to us! Do not rebel against the LORD, and don't be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the LORD is with us! Don't be afraid of them!"

The saddest verse is the next one:

But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb.

Another hero in the story is Moses. He prays to God to not destroy the people in their rebellion, even though God was willing to start over. And Moses’ reason was the glory of the name of God Himself.

However, there were tragic consequences. This lack of faith caused forty years of failure. One year of punishment for each futile day of exploration. The faithless scouts were all struck dead.

What is bigger to you? God and His promises or your circumstances?
Do you spread words of hope or words of discouragement?
Do you lead in courage or stall in fear?

Lord, help me be a Joshua or a Caleb. It will make us unpopular.

Ecclesiastes 9 has two closing words:
There is hope only for the living. For as they say, "It is better to be a live dog than a dead lion!" verse 4

I have observed something else in this world of ours. The fastest runner doesn't always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn't always win the battle. The wise are often poor, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don't always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being at the right place at the right time. Verse 11

New day… Let’s take on the giants.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thank you to my Bible Classes Today!

On the last day before Spring Break, my seniors in Biblical Principles class really inspired me. On the rainy and cold day in Nashville, we did something so simple.

I gave them selected verses from the Old Testament, mostly a short passage from each book, a few with more. It ended up being 7 pages of “the best of the Old Testament” and I had them read for 7 minutes with a little music in the background. After some reading, I had them write a short journal response.

I am sitting in a Starbucks at Green Hills and just finished reading the papers. The following are examples of almost every paper:

“ (that passage) is one of my favorites in the Bible. It is a huge comfort for me. In the midst of all this stupid stuff that we get stressed out about during the day, it’s easy to forget that God has provided everything we need…. I am fortunate that I know a Father who is big enough to handle my worries.”

“I really enjoyed reading these verses. I definitely think that it is important to keep the Lords’ word ‘hidden in my heart’….Thank you for these verses, I really needed something like this in my life right now.”

“I can’t honestly remember the last time I read this verse. To me it is cool to think about the awesomeness of God’s glory…. Our worship will one day fill all that is his”

“I love this verse b/c it has stuck with me my whole life.”

“I think about this verse a lot when I think about my future and my husband. I have made a promise and will hold my heart to him”

“This is a humbling verse, Job had everything taken from him. … This reaction is mind blowing to me. We need to learn from Job and to continue thanking and praising God for what we do have, rather than focusing on what we don’t have”

“This passage hit home with me”

“The part that said ______ hit home with me.”

“I liked this verse because it is like Romans 8:28”

“Everything of this earth will disappear: the cars, buildings, shopping stores- everything materialistic will fade…. But it is God’s Word that’s forever true, forever real, and forever living”

“I chose this verse because I remember memorizing it in elementary school.”

“After reading for 7 minutes I chose this verse…. I think this verse is really cool. It’s comforting to know that God is in control.”

“The passage that stuck out the most to me was…. This says that God is faithful and never leaves even in the darkest hour….That is an extraordinary thing when you realize that your path is already known by the One who protects you always”

I could go on and on- there were 54 passages and only Proverbs 3:5,6 and Isaiah 40:8 was chosen by multiple folks.

The Scriptures are true when they say in Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Thank you to all my seniors, you encouraged me so much today!

If you would like this copy of the “Best of the OT” or “Best of the Gospels” or “Best of the New Testament”- I would be happy to send it in a word document for free. It is the pure milk of the word!

Just e-mail me….


Thursday, March 12, 2009


ROMANS 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Romans 1:18-22 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

ROMANS 3:21-24 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

ROMANS 4:3-5 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

ROMANS 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

ROMANS 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

ROMANS 6:21-23 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

ROMANS 7:15-25 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

ROMANS 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

ROMANS 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

ROMANS 8:12-18 So then, brothers,we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

ROMANS 8:26-30 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

ROMANS 8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

ROMANS 10:9-11 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.

ROMANS 10:14-15 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

ROMANS 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (In Latin: Soli Deo Gloria)

ROMANS 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

ROMANS 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

ROMANS 15:5-7 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father

Monday, March 09, 2009

Time to Check My Idols

I have had a lot of help in all the notes and quotes below

John Calvin : “our hearts are a perpetual factory of idols”.

Psalm 115
4 Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
5 They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
6 They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
7 They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
8 Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.

‘Sensory Organ Malfunction Imagery’ is the Biblical language for idolatry. We become callous and hardened toward God because we are worshiping other things. As a result, we grow less sensitive to our God and His ways. He is foreign to us and He begins to fade. We do not hear Him, we do not see Him, and we do not speak of Him. When we do think of Him, it is often as an expedient. We feel the need to tag Him as a superstitious ritual in solving a mess. But there is no sense of His Lordship and no heart desire to seek Him.
Sadly, culture has taught us how to live without God. In our media-model culture, God is seldom referred to as a part of everyday life.
In stark contrast to men and women of the Scriptures, we sense only weakly the presence of the Creator. The saints of old had a daily awareness, but we are so immersed into the media view of world that we compartmentalize Him and allow Him to speak only on Sundays or in a Bible Study. We live with little or no sensitivity to God working in our life.
I like watching the TV show “24”, but there has never been one reference of a spiritual nature in the many seasons of that show. Entire ‘days’ of death and drama take place with no perception of the afterlife, no foundation for morals, no prayer, no Bible, no real hope. Where is spirituality? It is becoming more unnatural to see an active God in the moment-by-moment details of life. We definitely don’t talk that way. It has been said that worldliness is what any culture does to make sin seem normal and righteousness seem strange. We go into life as blind as the idol makers of Isaiah’s day. The gods we serve are empty of power and we curse the heavens because God won’t show Himself. Who moved?

G.K. Beale

“At the core, idolatry is trying to control life and manage life by trying to make God controllable: if you can get God to do what you want by getting his attention or through some sacrificial service, then perhaps life will turn out the way you want it to. This is one of the root beliefs of pagan religion. It is telling to ask how much pagan religion is still in the confines of the church.” Bill Delvaux


"We are more spiritual than we even know.”

“I ordinarily begin speaking about sin to a young, urban, non-Christian like this:
Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.” Tim Keller

As we list modern day idols, simple state what are the ‘good things
that we have made into ‘god things”?

Questions to Help Us Identify Idols:
Most afraid of? What are you afraid of losing?
Long for most passionately?
Where do you go for comfort?
What media-advertisements pull your heart strings?
What do you complain about the most?
What angers you the most?
What makes you happiest?
How do you explain yourself to other people?
What has made you be angry at God?
What do you brag about?
What do you want to have? What one thing?
What do you sacrifice the most for?
Whose approval matters?
What comfort do you treasure?

My idol is ….. too many to mention. Lord, I need you to bust up some idols in my life. I feel very distant from You. Thank you for forgiving me. Let's get to work!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I Testify- An Eyewitness to The Event- A True Fish Tale

I want to confirm that I was an eyewitness to the story below- IT IS TRUE!

February Fish Tales Winner
By Austin Luke
Friday, February 27, 2009

"My story begins back when I was in high school. I went to a small school called Briarwood Christian High and one of the neat things about the school is that is has a creek located behind it that separates the school parking lot from the athletic fields.

I started fishing this creek back when I was in the 10th grade and did well. One day I caught a 5- and a 6-pound bass on two consecutive casts. For the next two years I still continued to catch fish, but it was my senior year that remains my most memorable.

I was out fishing during school - I believe it was during fifth period accounting - when I got the urge to cast a line into "Briarwood Creek."

I was not there for too long when I saw the biggest fish I had laid eyes on come over into a shallow area and sit there. I sight fished her for about 20 minutes when she finally took. The rod bent double and the drag started screaming and 15 minutes later I was proudly holding a 10.2-pound bass caught out of a creek used to drain all the athletic fields.

I took off running with the fish and jumped on top of my truck and signaled (it was more like a lot of hollering and screaming)for my long time fishing partner and football coach to come and see this fish.

Coach Matthews saw me and saw the fish and came running across the football field with the entire seventh grade P.E. class and they all came to see this huge bass.

After about 5 minutes, Coach said, "Austin we got to go show this fish to Coach Yancey."

So after we got a cooler and some ice, we marched up to the school and into the lunch room to show Coach this fish. All the students were at lunch so when I walked in, totally out of dress code, and had a huge cooler on my shoulder, along with the entire seventh grade P.E. class, we obviously attracted a lot of attention.

I proceeded to go to the teacher’s table and slammed this cooler down on the table where all of these teachers were dressed to the hilt in their suits and ties. A crowd of about 100 students started to gather around the table as I reached into the cooler. When I lifted this fish out, you would have thought I had won the Bassmaster Classic.

People were screaming and hollering and clapping. Coach Yancey ran and got the headmaster of the school out of a meeting and brought him to see this fish. For the rest of the day I paraded that fish around the school in and out of classrooms showing what I had caught.

When I saw my headmaster years later I asked him, "Why did you not give me detention for being out of dress code and fishing while in class?"

He said, “If it had been smaller then I would have, but a person only catches a fish that big only once in his life."