Finding God’s Will

July 29, 2014

God’s guidance is more like the marriage guidance, child guidance, or career guidance that is received from counselors than it is like being “talked down” by the airport controller as one flies blind through the clouds. Seeking God’s guidance is not like practicing divination or consulting oracles, astrologers, and clairvoyants for information about the future, but rather is comparable with everyday thinking through of alternative options in given situations to determine the best course open to us. The inward experience of being divinely guided is not ordinarily one of seeing signs or hearing voices, but rather one of being enabled to work out the best thing to do.

— J. I. Packer

The other night at church, we watched a Tullian Tchividjian video. He ended by quoting Augustine’s dictum, “Love God and do what you want (please).” Some of us might be uncomfortable with this idea. In the video below John MacArthur expresses essentially the same truth:

Destinations

February 26, 2014

B003D0TAM8.01._SX490_SCLZZZZZZZ_V190274968_One of the most intimidating ministries we can engage in is helping depressed people. The stakes are high and there is no safety net. Here are “10 Ways to Show Love to Someone With Depression.”

How do we witness to unbelievers? Tim Keller uses Blaise Pascal to answer this vexing question.

God’s will is always a difficult issue. I’m not referring to God’s revealed will. The law is clear enough. The difficult part of God’s will is unpacking the juxtaposition between God’s and our will. We act freely and at the same time do exactly what God has decreed. This goes from things as diminutive as whether or not I scratch my head when it itches to whom we marry. Tom Schreiner discusses the contours of this interface.

You wouldn’t think Robin Thicke and church signs would mix, but they do:

Destinations

September 20, 2013

I appreciate Nancy Guthrie’s piece, Why Do We Say, ‘God Told Me’? Do you want to know God’s will for your life or just the next step? Find the wisdom of God’s word. Don’t listen for inner voices or look for coincidences. She quotes Graeme Goldsworthy in saying:

Every case of special guidance given to individuals in the Bible has to do with that person’s place in the outworking of God’s saving purposes. … There are no instances in the Bible in which God gives special and specific guidance to the ordinary believing Israelite or Christian in the details of their personal existence.

Of all people, Calvinists ought to be the most humble people on the planet. They understand that they are who they are solely by God’s grace. God gave them the insight and willingness to choose him. Ray Ortulund quotes hymn writer John Newton expressing this very truth.

R. C. Sproul asks the question we need to ask ourselves every day. Are you seeking after God?

Remember Lady Jane Grey? Simonetta Carr provides a quick biography. Here is a distillation of Grey’s wisdom: “Live to die, that by death you may enter into eternal life.”

Have you heard about the female holocaust in India? Any guesses as to why there are 37 million more men in India than women? Abortion and infanticide aren’t just an American problem.

I love everything about this song:

I suppose a single rose
Is pretty as it gets
And when the lights go down at night
I love the quietness

I love shy glances, slow romances
And hats that hide a kiss
Lets you and me go back in time
And find the things we missed

When hands were gentle
And words were kind
And love could wait a long long time
And private matters held their hush
And grooms were gallant
And brides would blush

Does it seem a silly dream
Played back in black and white
Pearls and gloves and hymns of love
The lines of wrong and right
Well let’s hush the cynic
For just a minute
And let the dreamers dare
To dream of love that never fails
O won’t you take me there?

When hands were gentle
And words were kind
And love could wait a long long time
And private matters held their hush
And grooms were gallant
And brides would blush

Shut the shutters, power down
Let the world spin back around
To deep respect and no regrets
The dignity of you and me

When hands were gentle
And words were kind
And love could wait a long long time
And private matters held their hush
And grooms were gallant
And brides would blush

Free Yancey Ebook

September 11, 2013

Phillip Yancey’s “The Question That Never Goes Away” is free TODAY ONLY (Sep 11) for Kindle. Yancey is a masterful writer, however, in my view, his theology is usually a touch humanistic. I haven’t read this book so don’t quote me. When I’ve read him in the past, human choice always trumps God’s. That said, I still think the book is probably worth the read. The question of “why” is alway challenging.

Destinations

June 17, 2013

B003D0TAM8.01._SX490_SCLZZZZZZZ_V190274968_One of the more difficult things believers have to unpack is the sovereignty of God. I get questions about it all the time. How should we understand the interface between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility? Often people emphasize one or the other. They say that ultimately everything depends on the free will of man. Others stress God’s sovereignty. Both are true. (Actually, I mean that fallen men act freely, not that they have free will; fallen man is still spiritually dead and a slave to sin.) Here are three resources that help believers think about these truths. First, Justin Taylor, leaning on Don Carson, discusses compatibilism. His point is that as believers look at the cross, all believers in some sense become compatibilists. Second, this article addresses three mistakes people make when talking about the sovereignty of God. The discussion that follows the article is also insightful. Finally, John Piper’s book “Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ” is available for free in PDF format. It is a very helpful treatment of this whole issue.

Indelible Grace’s album, “The Hymn sing: Live In Nashville” is a free download right now. I paid good money for this album a year or so ago. If you like hymns done in a more folk style, you’ll probably like album. Here is a video about the album:

Destinations

May 21, 2013

B003D0TAM8.01._SX490_SCLZZZZZZZ_V190274968_Our prayers are with the folks in Oklahoma. For some, the tragedy must be almost overwhelming. Sam Storms, who pastors in Oklahoma City, responds to the tragedy. In a somewhat similar way, Al Mohler grapples with the task of reconciling God’s power and love with an event like this. I appreciate Job’s assessment of personal tragedy (Job 1:21): “The Lord gave and the Lord takes way, blessed be the name of the Lord.” He said God is behind his tragedy in some sense and therefore he praises Him. We can’t sort it all out be we can rest in what God is doing

How are we to understand Romans 7? What does the normal Christian life look like? Kim Riddelbarger helpfully clarifies the issue.

Many of us strive to be decent writers. I know of several in our church who are attempting to write a novel. Some of us just want to be able to string together a few logical sentences in way that actually says something. I’m always looking for ways to hone what skills I have. Justin Taylor who is an editor for Crossway offers four suggestions about writing well.

One of the best ways to become a good writer is to read a lot. Stephen Altrogge’s short works of fiction are free today for Kindle.

Destinations

January 2, 2013

B003D0TAM8.01._SX490_SCLZZZZZZZ_V190274968_There are several free resources about abortion (this year being the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade) available right now. First, R.C. Sproul’s Abortion: A Rational Look at An Emotional Issue is free in the Kindle format. Also, Compelling Interest: The Real Story behind Roe v. Wade is free this month from Christian Audio.

Stephen Altrogge reminds us of The Crazy Good Things You Can Expect From God In 2013. His dad, Mark, has helpfully written a short article called Before You Make That Decision reminding us that God does lead. He also writes about the process whereby God directs:

He speaks to us his by his Word and his Spirit. God’s word is a treasure chest of wisdom and guidance. It contains all we need to know about God and how to obey him. It is filled with his will from cover to cover. In addition, God fills us with his own Spirit, The Counselor, who guides us into all truth and shows us what to do in every situation.

God also speaks through the preaching of his Word and books written by Christian teachers. He also guides us through godly Christian counselors– our parents, pastors, wise friends and fellow believers.

Here is a very interesting piece by Randy Alcorn. He encourages believers to work to provide clean water. Did you know that 1.8 million children die every year because of unclean water and sanitation? Every 20 seconds a child dies because of water related issues. It seems that if we are concerned about abortion, and we should be, then we should also work to save lives in other parts of the world by helping to provide clean water.

Directions Please

September 26, 2011

During a recent interview at Grace Community Church, Phil Johnson and John MacArthur discussed God’s will. I so appreciate John MacArthur’s consistent stand through the years in this area. I realize that what he says doesn’t have the appeal or spontaneity that the “God told me” crowd has, but his position keeps him from craziness and always keeps the door open to honest critique. And, yes, I think his view is in line with the Word. Usually, determining God’s will isn’t brain surgery. For those who are interested in a short book-length treatment of the issue, I recommend Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something.

Phil Johnson: What is your perspective on the belief that the Holy Spirit leads us by nudging us or whispering to us or giving us dreams, things like that?

John MacArthur: Well, I think the Holy Spirit does lead us but there is no way to perceive that that’s happening. . . . I don’t have a red light that goes on in my head and it goes around and around and around when the Holy Spirit’s leading. I don’t know when the Holy Spirit’s leading. I don’t know when I’m just following my impulses or my desires or whatever. I have no mechanism to know that. But in retrospect I see that. And I categorize that in the providences of God. . . . My life is just one amazing act of divine providence after another, after another, after another, after another, after another, every single day of my life unfolds in ways that are so well planned by the divine mind that I’m in a sort of exhilaration day after day after day over what happens in my life. So I don’t know when the Spirit is leading at the time. . . . I can say, “You know, I think I ought to go preach over there.” I do that every day, you know. Friday they brought a big list of people who want me to come and speak, and what did I do? Did I, you know, begin to go into some kind of mantra and say, “Ohm . . .,” and see if I can induce the Holy Spirit to know what to do? No. I just look at it and say, “Well, I can’t do that. I don’t think I can do that. That wouldn’t be a priority. Maybe I should do that.” And you know what happens, if I just am open and want to do God’s will, it’s amazing how in retrospect I can look back and say, “Wow, it was absolutely critical that I be there because look what happened when I got there, and this happened and that led to this, and this led to that.” That’s how my whole life has unfolded. So there’s no mechanism that we possess that tells us at the moment when the Holy Spirit is leading us and in some supernatural way, but that in retrospect we will be able to discern by the providences of God that unfold.

Phil: Yeah, that’s a great distinction to make. I think the first time I ever heard you preach, the message you did was your message on how to know the will of God. And you basically said, look, line up with Scripture (I’m giving you the really short version), line up with Scripture and then do what you want to do, as long as you’re being obedient to what God has clearly commanded, He’ll lead you through providence. And I think the mistake a lot of Charismatics make is looking for special revelation when God doesn’t lead us by giving us new special revelation. He leads us by providence, but He’s just as active in leading us.

(HT: Thirsty Theologian)

Help Wanted

June 9, 2011

In my Bible reading this past week I was reminded of how I appreciate the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. I value them simply because they represent a slice of seemingly un-miraculous life. There are no prophets calling down fire from heaven or delivering ex cathedra messages from God. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We too are missing the powerful prophets of the past. Also, God wasn’t supernaturally vanquishing the enemies of God’s people like he did in the days of Hezekiah. No, God’s people prayed, acted wisely, and trusted. Again, all of this parallels our age.

Nehemiah doesn’t seem to have received a divine summons other than by hearing God through his circumstances and his gifts. He knew there was a need in Jerusalem and that he could help. He saw that he was where he was by divine providence. He had ability and opportunity. He didn’t have a family that would limit his other ministry options. He stepped out in faith.

Even though he wasn’t called by an audible voice he knew what he had to do and was convinced that his success was from God. Ne 2:18 says, “And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good (italics mine), and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, ‘Let us rise up and build.’ So they strengthened their hands for the good work.” The people were filled with thanksgiving in chapter 12. They knew God had worked through their work. Even though their hands built the wall, the people knew it was the hand of God that moved their hands.

What’s our truth? Believers today are called to serve. God typically doesn’t move in spectacular ways. Rather, his people pray, witness, encourage, warn, give, and worship. God’s people work because God is working (Php 2:12-13). We work as we understand our God-given gifts and opportunities. As we work, God builds up Jerusalem. What work has God call you to?