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What Mr “Know it All” Doesn’t Know

Feb 10, 2015 | Erik Raymond

I recently asked one of our younger children to do a job that required some detailed clean-up. In the course of explaining the job as well as the steps to complete the job, I was interrupted. “I know. Dad, I know.” Everything I said was punctuated with “I know.” It was like a Baptist church hitting you with Amen’s after everything. Then I let them do it. It was a disaster. Things didn’t get put away, they actually got misplaced. Instead of the table being cleaned the floor became messy. Upon coming back to check on the situation I asked, “What happened here?” The answer, not surprisingly, “I don’t know how to do that.”

In the church we have a lot of impediments to growth in godliness. We live in a sinful world, have imperfect preachers, have trials and tribulations, and a relentless enemy who endeavors to be the stick in our spokes at every turn. But there is one great impediment to growth, this is the impediment of thinking that we already know everything. Let’s call this person “Mr Know-it-All”.

Mr Know-it-All does not really think that they have to learn anything. They are already there. They are, in effect, unteachable.

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Book Review- The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon

Feb 08, 2015 | Erik Raymond

Whenever I hear that someone has written something on or given a lecture concerning Charles Spurgeon, I am drawn in. I feel like I am familiar with the stories and most of his work but yet, I can never get enough. I just want to “hear it again.” So, naturally, I was drawn in with this book from Steve Lawson’s A Long Line of Godly Men series.

The book is more theological and philosophical than biographical. Lawson labors to highlight Spurgeon’s theological convictions that shaped his ministry. He does provide some biographical detail, however, the focus is upon what Spurgeon believed and how he applied it.

As you might expect there are quotes abounding in this book. Every sermon and book dripped gospel and was a like neon sign pointing to Christ.

The book is also a compelling call to action, specifically to those who share Spurgeon’s theology (Calvinism). Do you believe in a big God who saves a great multitude from the nations? Then get to work in missions. Do you believe that the preaching of the gospel saves people? Then preach. Do you believe a sovereign God hears and answers prayer? Then pray. Do you believe that you are helpless apart from the Holy Spirit? Then pray and rely upon God.

Let me give you a couple more practical uses for this book. First, it is arranged by topic so you can easily keep this for reference if you need a solid Spurgeon quote for a sermon. Second, there a number of references that will no doubt get some started in their new friendship with the Prince of Preachers.

Finally, I appreciated how Lawson was transparent about the impact Spurgeon had on him as a young seminarian. Some may quibble about the book being such an overt assertion of Calvinistic doctrine, but that is the Spurgeon that Lawson found. In many ways this Spurgeon shaped Dr Lawson. I appreciated this window into his ministry as well.

It’s a good book that keeps on moving. It’s also a quick read. Realizing it is beyond the scope of this project, I would still like to see Lawson expand this out a bit further someday. It is a very encouraging read.

The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon is available at Amazon at a discounted rate: by clicking here.

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A Spirit-Led Life is a Sin-Killing Life

Feb 05, 2015 | Erik Raymond

We will always get in trouble when we think too highly of ourselves and too lowly of our sin.

One way we do this is to weigh our attitudes and actions on the scale of a fallen world. So the reasoning follows, “A little frustration is normal….Who doesn’t feel lazy?…Sharing with a friend isn’t the same as gossip…Looking isn’t bad–as long as I’m not touching…I have “it” under control.

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An Espresso Shot of Christology in The Great Commission

Feb 03, 2015 | Erik Raymond

In giving the Great Commission to his disciples Jesus said something very clear and very loud about himself:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Princeton theologian Lorraine Boettner observes the following:

“There he placed his name at the center of the true name of God, commanded that those who believe on Him should be baptized in that name and promised to be with them always, even to the end of the world.”

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Live Close to the Embers

Feb 02, 2015 | Erik Raymond

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:20-22)

The final words of the first chapter of Job are extremely powerful, but they are particularly so when considered in light of the entire chapter. It is clear that Job is a very blessed man and a very godly man. In the midst of this God permits an onslaught of affliction. In a brief period of time Job’s family and property were raided by marauders, fire, and a windstorm. His kids were dead and his business destroyed. Here at the end of the chapter he is mourning this tragic day.

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The Gospel Language

Jan 28, 2015 | Erik Raymond

It is said that author J.R.R. Tolkien created over 14 languages for his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Some have observed that for Tolkien language presupposed a story. The language he created served to communicate his story in a particularly compelling way. But it was the story that brought the language alive. It gave it texture.

In the Scriptures we also find that language paints the drama. Think about the early chapters of the Bible as if you have never read them before. You have themes and concepts like mercy, grace, covenant, blessing, inheritance, promise, rest, etc. It is here, early on in the story, that God begins to show us the budding flowers redemption and restoration. This is the gospel language. God created it to serve his ends in communicating the most fascinating, soul-arresting, hear-stirring, joy-producing drama in history.

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Book Review: Discovering Romans

Jan 27, 2015 | Erik Raymond

I can remember about a dozen years ago being told by my pastor to listen to a sermon from S. Lewis Johnson. I remember that I was trying to multitask at the time but was unsuccessful. I stopped what I was doing and was riveted. Johnson in his thick but soothing southern drawl unpacked the Bible in a clear, captivating, and compelling way. He modeled what you think about when you think of a preacher: he got out of the way, pointed to Christ and really left an impression. He made difficult passages clear and simple passages profound. In both cases he magnified Christ.

In light of this I am quite pleased over a new publication by Zondervan entitled Discovering Romans: Spiritual Revival for the Soul. The volume is a collection of Johnson’s sermons from Romans. The sermons have been adapted by Mike Abendroth.

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Prayer Causes Things to Happen

Jan 24, 2015 | Erik Raymond

It was good for me to hear this today.

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A Poker Tell from the GOP

Jan 22, 2015 | Erik Raymond

“I believe that leadership is all about putting the right beliefs into action, and knowing, on the basis of convictions, what those right beliefs and actions are…Without convictions you might be able to manage, but you cannot really lead.” R. Albert Mohler Jr., The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters

Mohler’s larger point in his book is that leaders must lead from and with conviction. Without genuine conviction leaders will be susceptible to being governed by pragmatism. In turn they will be characterized by political posturing. This is bad for the leader and worse for those they lead.

Sadly, on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, we read the following from The Washington Post today:

House Republican leaders abruptly dropped plans late Wednesday to vote on an anti-abortion bill amid a revolt by female GOP lawmakers concerned that the legislation’s restrictive language would once again spoil the party’s chances of broadening its appeal to women and younger voters.

Many Christians have faithfully endorsed the Republican party as their party in light of a shared conviction over morality. Part of this conviction has included opposition to abortion. But as we see, perhaps the base was not as secure as once thought.

It would appear that at least with some members of the GOP their convictions on issues are a bit more fluid while their conviction for political success remain solid. We should not be surprised here. If politicians adopted political views in the first place in order to gain popularity why would they hang onto them if it would cost them popularity?

If politics were a game of poker (and by this I do not mean to offend any poker players) then what we have here is a tell. The politicians hand has been tipped off based upon their behavior. We know what cards they are holding with conviction and which are being held for convenience.

New York Times columnist Russ Douthat gets it right in this tweet:

We may be disgusted but we shouldn’t be too surprised.

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Our Father is not like our father.

Jan 15, 2015 | Erik Raymond

When you listen to believers talk about the Christian life there is a common theme: prayer is important and difficult. This is not a new phenomenon, even the earliest disciples requested some classes on prayer (Luke 11:1). Therefore, it is encouraging and instructive to hear Jesus’ teaching on how to pray from what is called “The Lord’s Prayer.”

What is interesting to me is the way he begins: “Our Father…” (Matthew 6:9). In this Jesus calls us to the family room for a conversation with our heavenly Father. Before we go further, however, it is important, even imperative to acknowledge and overcome a major obstacle that this opening presents.

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