Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tired of Babylon? Quotes and Comments from Rev 17/18

Our post-modern carnage has left us:

fractured: from no consensus-
shallow: from endless sound bites and sloganeering (please- no more snappy mission statements)-
disillusioned: from no appeal to truth, and
fatigued: from microwave, fast paced activities, but no form to support the pressure.

Worldliness is what any culture does to make sin seem normal and righteousness seem strange.” G.K. Beall
Our modern cities with their wealth, false religions, and sexual exploitation are modern forms of Babylon. The media and their advertisements can bring into our homes and thoughts the seducing message of worshiping money, sex, power, and pleasure. Advertisements tell us that satisfaction and meaningful living can be found if only we buy the latest product. Vern Poythress

What’s so bad about Babylon?
A Faulty System: “The system whereby men and women, beginning absolutely by themselves, try rationally to build out from themselves, having only Man as their integration point, to find all knowledge, meaning and value” Francis Schaeffer
A System that 'Loves things and Uses People'-
A System Run by Selfish People- “Weeping from far away” Why are they weeping?
A System Run by Wicked People- Mother of the Earth’s Abominations

Crying and Cheering- A Clue to Our Allegiance:

Will you weep or cheer at the destruction of Babylon?
What do we applaud now? What do we honor now?

Destroy Babylon now….. It is Going Anyway- A Twist on Jim Elliott’s quote:
“He is no fool to destroy what he cannot keep to pursue what he cannot lose”

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”?


Allegiance to the King of Kings
Gospel Message and Spirit Power
Practicing The Disciplines of Grace (Prayer/Scripture/Fasting/Worship/ Sacraments)
Silence and Solitude- Evaluation
Fellowship and Accountability
Patience and Perseverance

Try These Things:
Do an Idol Inventory- Ask God to reveal and then help with the fight
Do a Relationship Inventory- Strengthen the Bonds!
Giving to God’s kingdom in Proportion to Supporting World’s System
Discipline and Restraint in Regards to Appetites
TV/ Movies/ Music/ Entertainment- Ask for Discernment
Christian Liberty- Ask for Discernment “All things lawful- but not all profitable”
Use Gifts to Serve
Loving Confrontation – “Hard on Yourself and Tender Toward Others”

II CORINTHIANS 10:4-6 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

EPHESIANS 6:10-20 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Quarter - filled Cups of Coffee

"I have measured my life in coffee spoons” -Prufrock
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What advantage does a man have in all his work which he does under the sun.”
Ecclesiastes 1: 2,3

Quarter - filled cups of coffee,
Shadowed stains below the band.
Cooled liquid, thick and soiled,
Etched foam, marked by hand.

Appearance of apparent progress,
Concrete marks of constant time.
Accompanied by piles of paper,
Crumpled calendars, plans sublime.

Of what reward do hours meed?
Riches and honor untold?
What state does watched time translate?
Unused potential to save and hold?

Three - quarter empty cups of coffee,
Symbols unfinished and undone.
Epochs spent on early ambition,
Numerous laps short, the race not won.

Lurking depths of unrequited desire,
Taciturn anger behind the smile,
Endless action churning piles of perception,
Steps no closer to the next mile.

Will the minutes always last?
What price is one to pay?
When activity is ambiguous and prostituted
and success is a shade of gray.

The trap has sprung inescapable.
The suction stronger than my will.
No one there to loose or care,
Fractions of effort to close the sill.

Those dreams seem marathons away.
No tunnel light, no ray, no rule.
Only a vast wasteland of utopian ideas and funny ambition.
I laugh at myself - the fool.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Douglas Wilson on Evidence

A favorite quip of those who promote atheism is to say, "God has not given me enough evidence".

In a debate with Christopher Hitchens, Douglas Wilson addressed this excuse:

"Actually, I believe I can present evidence for what I know. But evidence comes to us like food, and that is why we say grace over it. And we are supposed to eat it, not push it around on the plate—and if we don't give thanks, it never tastes right. But here is some evidence for you, in no particular order. The engineering that went into ankles. The taste of beer. That Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, just like he said. A woman's neck. Bees fooling around in the flower bed. The ability of acorns to manufacture enormous oaks out of stuff they find in the air and dirt. Forgiveness of sin. Storms out of the North, the kind with lightning. Joyous laughter (diaphragm spasms to the atheistic materialist). The ocean at night with a full moon. Delta blues. The peacock that lives in my yard. Sunrise, in color. Baptizing babies. The pleasure of sneezing. Eye contact. Having your feet removed from the miry clay, and established forever on the rock. You may say none of this tastes right to you. But suppose you were to bow your head and say grace over all of it. Try it that way.

You say that you cannot believe that Christ's death on the Cross was salvation for the world because the idea is absurd. I have shown in various ways that absurdity has not been a disqualifier for any number of your current beliefs. You praise reason to the heights, yet will not give reasons for your strident and inflexible moral judgments, or why you have arbitrarily dubbed certain chemical processes "rational argument." That's absurd right now, and yet there you are, holding it. So for you to refuse to accept Christ because it is absurd is like a man at one end of the pool refusing to move to the other end because he might get wet. Given your premises, you will have to come up with a different reason for rejecting Christ as you do.

But for you to make this move would reveal the two fundamental tenets of true atheism. One: You say There is no God. Two: You hate Him.

No Ordinary Joe

note: Joe Craddock is the best player I have ever coached. A former MVP in the 5A state championship game- a great Qb at MTSU- and now a professional in Italy of all places. Joe is on the same team that is portrayed in John Grisham's novel, Playing for Pizza. This is his latest journal which proves not only that life is stranger than fiction but life is better than fiction!

4/15/2009 Unbelievable- Journal by Joe Craddock

Friday night I got home from practice at 11:30 p.m. Everyone was
going out to eat but me and Nolan decided to stay in. I decided to stay
in because I wanted to ice my knee before I went to bed because we were
playing the number one team in Italy the next day. Messing around on the
internet, I saw where Murfreesboro had been hit by a tornado. My heart
dropped and I panicked! I immediately picked up the phone and called my
girlfriend Alex. Nervously dialing her number over and over again, I
could not get through to reach Alex. I had never felt so hopeless in my
life. After about the fifth time of the phone going straight to voice
mail, I decided to call her mom to see if she had heard from Alex and to
see if everyone was ok. She told me that everyone in their family was ok
and that Alex's sister and brother in law (Stephanie and Larry) house
was 200 yards away from where the tornado hit and that Alex had gone
over there to check on them. After I talked to them and found out that
the tornado had hit that side of town, I felt a lot better considering
all my friends and ex teammates lived on or near campus. I called a few
more friends to get the scoop on everything and found out that everyone
was ok just some damage here and there. I realize not everyone is not as
lucky as me and that some people lost family and friends. My thoughts
and prayers are with all of those people.
After the earthquake last week in Italy and the tornado in
Murfreesboro, I felt really blessed to be alive and even more blessed to
have the chance to play football. After a 3 hour beautiful drive up
through the mountains of Bolzano, it was time for us to play the
undefeated Bolzano Giants. I was ready and decided to play this game for
Murfreesboro. I had also changed my number to lucky 7. Seven was my
number all my life until college. I always felt great in 7 and I felt
great Saturday night. The Giants Americans were Italian football legend
Reggie Green at runningback who has played in Bolzano for 10 years, a
competitive quarterback, and a giant a defensive end. The Giants also
feature the best defensive and offensive lines in the league. I knew
going into the game that I would not have much time to throw the ball.
But we had to throw it! That is our strength. And throw it we did. I
think we only ran the ball on 3 plays. One was for a touchdown and the
other two for minimal gains.
The scoring got started early when we took the opening drive 65
yards and a third down touchdown to Craig. The Giants answered quick
with a scoring drive of their own. Reggie broke 2 tackles at the line of
scrimmage and galloped into the end zone for a 25 yard touchdown run.
After 2 more touchdown passes to Craig we were up 21-14 at half time.
Early in the second half Reggie broke away from our defense and was
going to score easy! Thankfully for us Reggie pulled up and with a
hamstring injury and we were able to tackle him before he reached the
end zone. Our defense stood strong and came up with a huge goal line
stand. We didn't score in the third but they scored late in the third to
tie the game at 21. Our offense answered with a huge scoring drive.
Since we had thrown the ball the whole game we decided to run a draw
from the ten yard line and it worked perfectly when our "coach turned
player" Andrew Papoccia ran it in untouched. But Bolzano answered quick
and scored leaving 3:33 on the clock. That was plenty of time for our
offense to go 75 yards and that's what we did. Throwing the ball
consistently down the field, we were moving the ball very well until we
were penalized with a holding penalty on third down and we ended up
having a 4th and 13 at the Bolzano 40 yard line. We ran a play that had
worked all game. Just a simple curl-flat to Craig in which I told him in
the huddle to make sure he got past the sticks. It turns out they were
so scared that they were pretty much triple covering Craig but playing
way off. I saw this but they still left the curl window open so I fired
one into the hole. Craig caught it easily for a first down, but as soon
as Craig caught the ball, I just so happened to look in the flats to
Marco Tunnera who was wide open up the sideline. Marco came back to the
huddle with bug eyes, telling me how open he was. I immediately told
Marco to chill out and not bring any attention to himself. I said,
"Marco! I know. I know. I saw you just chill and maybe they didn't see
you!" I was hoping they didn't. Sure enough they didn't. I knew that
they would triple team Craig again so I told Marco to run a wheel up the
sideline. On the snap, I caught the ball and immediately stared at
Craig. All three defenders took the bait leaving Marco wide open again.
He caught the ball and easily scored with a 1:20 on the clock. After
great coverage by our kickoff team, they also had to go around 75 yards,
down 35-28. They did and fast. They scored within a minute and I
immediately started telling our offense to start preparing for overtime.
But I was also hoping that they would either miss or we would block the
extra point because in Italian football the craziest things happen on
the extra point. At home and 5-0, Bolzano decides to go for two. I was
thinking, "Oh no!" Our defense hadn't stopped them since the 2nd
quarter. They get a delay of game and I was thinking that they would for
sure kick the point then. Nope. The quarterback ran around for what seem
like forever until he finally threw the ball in the end zone. The pass
was broken up nicely by our corner. Not even close to pass interference.
But sure enough here came the flag. Pass interference on the Panthers! I
was so mad to say the least! They ran in the 2 point conversion without
one defender touching the quarterback. All their players ran on the
field to celebrate and they all started giving us the number one sign
with their middle fingers! This really fired me up!
After the penalties were assessed they kicked off from the 15
yard line. Craig returned it nicely to the 50 yard line and we were left
with 15 seconds. On the first play, I dropped back trying to hit Andrew
over the middle and got blind- sided but luckily the ball fell
incomplete with 10 seconds left. Next play we were going to try and
throw a deep, deep out route to Craig but he ended up being on the wide
side of the field and I thought better of it remembering what Coach
Mangus had taught me in college. I threw the ball to Emma Gavessi right
on the side line, who then turned inside and gained another 10-15 yards
and was tackled around the 15 yard line. I sprinted to the referee as
soon as he caught the ball calling time out, but the ref pointed at Emma
still running around on the field. As soon as he was tackled there were
three seconds left. I was somewhat relieved when 3 seconds were still on
the clock. Then I saw Emma still on the ground hurt grabbing his right
leg. The problem with this is that Emma is also our field goal kicker
and down by one, we needed him to kick this 30 yarder to win the game.
Emma got up and tried to walk it off. We called another time out to give
him a little more time to gather his thoughts. When the time out was
over, I (the holder) took a knee on the 22 yard line on the left hash.
Emma did not make one kick from the left hash in pre-game warm ups. I
was hoping he had one in him right now! The snap was great and I placed
the ball down. Emma absolutely drilled it! Panthers win 38-36!
The game was crazy never the less, but to see how happy our guys
were again after beating a top Italian team was a great feeling for me
and the other Americans. The presidents girlfriend hugged and kissed me
after the game, telling me thank you so much (just how she had done
after the Bergamo win). The president told me that I was his boy! It was
just a great feeling to see how happy the whole Panthers organization
was after the game.
Come to find out at Tuesday's practice Emma kicked the game
winning field goal with a torn right meniscus (his kicking knee). Marco
Tunnera caught the last touchdown with a shattered right pointer finger
and had surgery on Monday. Craig's hamstring is bothering him pretty bad
and probably won't be playing this week. All in all, we are going to be
hurting this weekend going into our first European league game (EFAF
cup) on Saturday night. As for me, my knee held up pretty good
considering I ran the ball only once. It is still hurting a little this
week but the pain has definitely decreased!

American's Stats:
Craig McIntyre- 17 recs for 168, 3 td's
Andrew Papoccia- 10 solo, 1 ast, 3 TFL, 2 sacks..... 1 rush TD
Joe Craddock- 33-52 for 423, 4 td's .. 1 rush for 18

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Time to Talk 'TULIP'

In seminary I learned that the distinctive of Calvinism was shown in the acronym TULIP.

total depravity
unconditional election
limited atonement
irresistible grace
perseverance of the saints

These 5 doctrines have been used to set Calvinism apart from its critics and alternative theologies. In my experience and study, I have encountered some personal push back against all but total depravity. Then I read the Scriptures and agree with the Synod of Dort, that these can be mysterious and counter-intuitive; they are, nevertheless, Biblical.

The most amazing part of TULIP is that John Calvin never used it, did not invent it, or even spend a lot of time arguing it.

Calvin died in 1564- nearly 50 years later, in 1610, 42 followers of Jacobus Arminius drafted articles of dispute against 5 aspects of the reformation taught by Calvin and his followers. This dispute became known as the Remonstrance and was the party responsible for the 5 points. A church synod was held in the Dutch city of Deordect in 1618/1619 which resulted in the Cannons of Dort. The synod upheld all 5 points of Calvinism and rejected the dispute of the Arminians.

Knowing how Calvin treated those who disagreed with him, it would be very suprising if there would have been hardship or recourse (Luther might have been a different story).

If you want to know, here is my take on the 5 points of Calvinism and yes, I m a 5 pointer to the core.

1- Moral Inability- we do not have the moral ability to choose God's free offer of the gospel. As a dead man, I cannot repent even if I wanted to. I do not have the desire or strength to merit anything toward my righteousness. Even my good deeds are filthy rags to God. This bad news makes the good news good. In a world where men believe they are 'good' there really is no need of a Savior. We have no clue how rotten we are.

2- God's choice based on nothing from me. From the very foundation of the world, God, in His plan... chose me to be one of His adopted sons. If I ever start to feel any pride in my 'christian faith' I feel the Spirit say, "Excuse me? What did you do to deserve this?" Why me? I have no idea- but I temble in gratitude to Him!

3- Personal Salvation- Jesus died for me. This is personal. My name is written in the book. I'm not swept up in some general net of goodness- I was singled out, hand picked, and bought with an unimaginable price. He thinks of me! When the devil knocks me down and tells me what a loser I am, and how unworthy I am... "My father says, I love you son- I chose you specifically. Let's take a walk." How can you not burst with love in response to that?

4- Irresistable calling and grace. God chased me down, broke me down and I was subdued by Him. I fought Him, but He melted me. I still fight him- but He will not let me go. John 17- Jesus will not lose even 1 that God has put in His hand.

5- Perseverence. I was adopted to be set aside for Him. My sanctification is assumed in Romans 8. I will be glorified. All of this flows out of my adoption. Legally, I am justified and adopted... as a son, I will be 'Fathered' to my destination. It may be a hard road at times when I am punished, but it is always for my good.

The remonstrance still exists- I have good friends who hold to 'man is good, just kind of sick'- 'we choose God', or "God sees our good""we can reject God' and 'we can lose our salvation".. I just can't see those posisitons in light of the Bible.

An believe me, I can get 'Hyper' and passive- and then my Father gets me.

So get out the Bible. Read Ephesians 1, Romans 7 and 8, and John 17 for starters.

If you still feel there are issues- study the Synod of Dort. But be careful, you may become one of those weird 5 point Calvinists.

Calvin would just laugh. 'Why don't you just start glorifying God and die to self'.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Humility of Calvin's Calvinism

The first chapter of the book, John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology is one written by the editor Burk Parsons on the humility of Calvin's Calvinism.

I wanted to make some comments about it because it sets the tone of the entire book. Rev. Parsons is the minister of congregational life at Saint Andrews Chapel in Sanford, FL and is editor of Tabletalk Devotionals.

" It has not been my habit to refer to myself as a Calvinist; if memory serves, I have never done so, primarily because I don't think John Calvin would want me to."

That made me think of the quote in the foreward by Ian H. Murray, "We may be sure that the man who wanted no stone to mark his grave would want no festivities to mark the anniversary of his birth."

Getting back to Rev. Parsons he writes that he normally just says, "I am a Christian". But if he were pressed about Calvinism I would respond by saying , "Yes, I am a Calvinist because I am a Christian, and I am a Christian because I believe in the gospel."

Rev Parson's chapter has more great quotes:

19th century Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon- "I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else."

I like this one from Christopher Catherwood: "We must be 'Bible Calvinists' not 'system Calvinists'. ... though Calvin did not make that mistake himself, it is arguable that many of his followers have done so over the ensuing centuries- and I include myself, as a Calvinist, in that caution."

"Calvin said we are to be 'daily taught in the school of Jesus Christ'."

Calvin's biographer Jean Cladier said, "Calvin was a man whom 'God mastered'."

In spite of a thorough understanding of man's depravity, Burk notes: "We find no trace of despair or cynicism in Calvin; rather, we find a hope that does not disappoint because it is founded and focused on the majesty of God and His word."

Stephen J Lawson is quoted, " As a preacher, Calvin's primary aim was to communicate to the common person in the pew. He was not seeking to impress his congregation with his own brilliance, but to impact them with the awe-inspiring majesty of God."

Burk closes with an incredible tribute:
" Among all the faithful voices of the past, there seems to be one who arises above them all. It is a voice of a man who desperately wanted us to hear not his own voice but the voice of God in His word... Calvin was a man who died to himself and sought to take up his cross daily...He strove to live for God's kingdom... He was a man who did not try to develop a system of theology that complemented the Word of God; rahter, he strove to derive his theology from the Word of God....Calvin's Calvinism is Christ-centered, Spirit empowered, God glorifying, gospel driven."

He quotes B.B. Warfield : "Here we have the secret to Calvin's greatness and the source of his strength unveiled to us. No man ever had a profounder sense of God than he; no man ever more unreservedly surrendered himself to the Divine direction."

So how did I become pulled into Calvinism originally? I have always felt a deep 'yes' to doctrines that humble man and exalt God. When I first read of Calvin, I had a big YES.

This year was the first time as a Bible teacher that I was asked that question. One of my students is a bright well-trained Baptist (which was my background by the way). He raised his hand one day about 1/3 through class and asked, "Coach, are you a Calvinist?".
I said, "I don't like answering that question because a slogan may not define what I mean by that label or what you mean by that label. But I will tell you that what I mean by Calvinism is the agreement I have about his understanding of the Bible."
He responded,"I don't agree with it at all. But I have been reading about it."
I said, "Good for you , keep reading, and look at it Biblically."
He wasn't fighting me. We were in a good place.
"By the way, _______, don't just chalk it up to a Presbyterian thing. You know the fastest growing element of Calvinists are Reformed Baptists including the head of the Southern Baptist Seminary, Dr. Al Mohler."
He looked at me in shock and it was back to the lesson.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Calvin’s Greatest Challenge

Want to be challenged by Calvin?

Our first thought is to jump to the mysteries of predestination, the criticism of limited atonement, or tweaking the perseverance of the saints. (All of these will be looked at later)

But Calvin’s greatest admonishment has nothing to do with the TULIP acronym.

Calvin’s greatest challenge to me is grasping the concept of ‘dying to myself’.
Look at what he says in his Golden Booklet of the Christian Life:

We are not our own:
neither our reason nor our will should guide our thoughts and actions.

We are not our own:
therefore we should not seek what is expedient for the flesh.

We are not our own:
therefore, let us forget ourselves and our own interests as far as possible.

to Him, therefore, let us live or die.

therefore, let His wisdom and will dominate our actions

therefore let every part of our existence be directed toward Him as our only legitimate goal.

Here are some more shots:

“The object of regeneration is to manifest in the life of the believer a harmony between God’s righteousness and their obedience and thus confirm the adoption they have received as sons.” (Here, I give a shout out to Mike Graham- our obedience flows out of adoption- no pole vaulting from justification to sanctification… right?)

How about this one?
“ No one has rightly denied himself unless he has wholly resigned himself to the Lord and is willing to leave every detail to His good pleasure. IF WE PUT OURSELVES IN SUCH A MIND, THEN WHATEVER MAY HAPPEN TO US, WE SHALL NEVER FEEL MISERABLE OR ACCUSE GOD FALSELY BECAUSE OF OUR LOT

A few more punches (hurts so good):
“We should not insist on absolute perfection of the gospel in our fellow Christians, however MUCH WE MAY STRIVE FOR IT IN OURSELVES”

This point is made so well by Jerry Bridges in the book on Calvin:
He points out that not only should we think of others before ourselves…. We should seek their advantage - Tough on ourselves and tender to others.

This is Holy Spirit empowered cross bearing.. impossible. It flows out of a confidence we have in a justification from Christ alone. We act not to merit our salvation, we act out of the fact of our salvation.

And of course, I love the Scriptural balance that Calvin always shows. He keeps us from going to unnecessary extremes.
In his writing about the ‘right use of the present life’ Calvin is quick to encourage us to live and enjoy the pleasures of life… in moderation. This is no ‘code of conduct’ it is a ‘conformity to Christ’.

In the end, he encourages me – “let us not despair because of the smallness of our accomplishment.”

Calvin's Conversion- Got Christ?

There have been a number of writers express opinions about what Calvin meant by his 'sudden conversion'.

"( Paraphrase- Since I was too stubbornly devoted to the superstitions of my religion to be easily removed from the profound abyss of mire) God, by a sudden conversion subdued and brought my mind to a teachable frame, which was more hardened in such matters than might have been expected from one at my early period of life."

"Having thus received some taste and knowledge of true godliness I was immediately inflamed with so intense a desire to make progress therein, and although I did not altogether leave off other studies, I yet pursued them with less ardor."

I love Sinclair Ferguson's quote about this:
"His language here is strikingly different from that of contemporary evangelicalism. It is hard to imagine him speaking about 'letting Jesus into my heart' or 'praying to receive Jesus': indeed, for Calvin, the movement of conversion is not 'getting Christ in' but 'getting into Christ"."

Ferguson pointed out two distinctives about this conversion:

Before conversion- he was hardened and unteachable- had a distaste for things of God

Post conversion- inflamed with desire- his mind now softened to a teachable frame- his rebellion was overcome by grace- and he had a desire to progress in 'true godliness'.

Obviously, there can be a lot of landmines here and we would do well to walk through the Scriptures on Soteriology- but this view of conversion is very important in an environment like the one I teach.

The positives of a Christian school do outweigh the negatives. But I have always believed a unintended consequence of a Christian school is a spiritual hardening that comes from those who continually reject the terms of the covenant. They are covenant breakers.

If I ever have a permanent classroom, I think I will post a sign: Jesus says in Matthew 13:12- To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. (NLT)

So I have my hard heads- they sit in mockery and judgment. I love them. I cry out to God to break their callousness and call them home. I want to improve as a teacher so that only the gospel will be the offense.

But I am not discouraged.

Who knows? My most uninterested, rebellious student could be the next John Calvin.

He just needs to get into Jesus.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Calvin’s College and Our Criticism

Perhaps John Calvin’s earliest memory was the tragic death of his mother when he only 4 years old.

We know that at age 11 he was sent to Paris to study at the College de la Marche which prepared him for the University of Paris. He was trained under the greatest Latin teacher of the day, Mathurin Cordier.

At that point he transferred to monastery school, “A strict establishment designed to prepare young men for the priesthood”.

Derek W.H. Thomas writes about the experience there:

“The school was situated on a street known for thieves and cutthroats, with open stinking sewers; the food was sparse and course; and the discipline severe.”

Prayers began at 4 o’clock in the morning, followed by lectures until 6. Following breakfast, the students attended the grand class from 8-10 followed by discussion.

Lunch, Bible study, then prayer.

After mid-day the students were tested on the morning work.
Break from 1-2.

They returned to classes from 3-5.

After dinner, there were more readings until bedtime at 8.

They were given 2 days a week for recreation.

John Calvin then moved to the University of Bourges to study law for 18 months. There he studied Greek and taught rhetoric.

Soon after this, Calvin’s father passed away. He was now 21 years old.

I will comment on his ministry in later posts- but John Calvin’s education prepared him to write a collection of hymns, sermons, books, and letters that fill 59 volumes of the 101 of the Reformation period. He published about 500,000 words!

Every now and then, after I say something about Calvin, one of my students will begin to ‘critique’ him. Every now and then, a bright, bold 17 year old will blast some point of Calvinism as ‘stupid’.

I just look at them, elated in their joy of dogma and debate, and think – “Bless his poor pitiful heart. God, please help him.”

Oh the joy of education- and I laugh.... I was just that way or worse.

Lord, please bless my poor pitiful heart!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Election, Excellence, Predestination, Motivation, and Mission

More thoughts from the book- uploaded from my blog

I have been reading a book about Calvin and got hit between the eyes this morning.

"If election has as its goal holiness of life, it ought to arouse and goad us eagerly to set our mind upon it than to serve as a pretext of doing nothing. What a great difference there is between these two things: to cease well-doing because election is sufficient for salvation, and to devote ourselves to the pursuit of good as the appointed goal of election." John Calvin

I think we fail if we teach election only unto salvation (stopping at new birth and conversion/justification).

Ephesians 1 is very clear: "even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, _that_ we should be holy and blameless before him."

God chose me for an end... my glorification. My passionate desire to honor Him with my life and take on his mission is fuel to the flame. The 'frozen chosen'? What a sin! It is like a stillborn baby, what a tragedy.

Let's spur one another on to take on the devil again today. And at the end of the day as I lay shot up with holes from one helluva fight. Help me repent, drink in grace, and swing for the fence again tomorrow.

I want to be more holy for His namesake.