On Hiatus

22 10 2008

All three of us here at the Miry Clay have been extremely busy lately and haven’t had a lot of time for the joys (and responsibilities) of blogging.  Because of that, I’ve decided to put the blog on hold for a few weeks.  Hopefully we’ll be back in early November with a more regular schedule of writing and posting. Until then, check out God Made Playdough where the posts never slow down and the content is far more adorable!


Living for God’s Glory…part 3

17 10 2008

One of the most glorious (and controversial) doctrines that the Christian faith teaches is the doctrine of divine election.  Calvinists hold to the view that God’s election to salvation is unconditional, a free action of God’s sovereign will.  However, this teaching doesn’t sit well with many.  Some see such a description of God’s work in our salvation as a violation of the human will, viewing the Calvinistic explanation as unfair and unjust.  I hope that the following quotes, again taken from Joel Beeke’s new book Living for God’s Glory, will encourage you to really look at and examine this rich and powerful doctrine, allowing them to drive you back to the Scriptures and see what God teaches regarding His sovereignty and our salvation.

“God loves one graciously, such a Jacob, and passes by another justly, such as reprobate Esau.  This is the essence of Calvin’s view of predestination, which includes both election and reprobation.  Calvin teaches that God’s election is always sovereign and gracious; none of the elect deserve to be elect and to enter heaven.  At the same time, God’s reprobation is always sovereign and just; none of the reprobate will be unjustly damned to hell.”  -Joel Beeke

“The believer who knows his own heart will ever bless God for election.”       -J. C. Ryle

“We may better praise God that he saves any than charge him with injustice because he saves so few.” -Augustus Strong

“God the Father elects His people on the basis of His eternal, overwhelming, sovereign affection for them. Why did He love them? Because He chose to do so. Sovereign, unchangeable love is the ultimate joy and reality of the universe.” -Joel Beeke

“Eternal love devised the plan; eternal wisdom drew the model; eternal grace comes down to build it.” -Henry Law

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Changing Worship

16 10 2008

My local church is working through a debate about worshiping.  I should qualify that because while we call our entire morning service “the worship service” (which entails singing, giving, and preaching), we’re pretty much just debating the singing part.  It amazes me that people will get so worked up about differences in opinions about singing styles.  Please understand that I don’t say that condescendingly, because I have strong feelings about it myself.  The operative word, of course, being “feelings”.

I spent the first eight years at my church experiencing worship in song with one leader, one pianist, and everyone holding a hymnal, and I loved it.  “The Solid Rock“, “Grace Greater Than Our Sin“, “The Love of God“, and “Great is Thy Faithfulness” are all ingrained in my soul and their words have helped me commune with God throughout my life.  Seven or so years ago, our assistant pastor (you may know him) took over the music ministry and instilled much needed focus and purpose.  All that was lost on me except that I noticed now we had words projected on the wall and we sang a lot more so-called “praise songs”.

I didn’t like it.

I liked my hymns and I had heard horror stories of churches turning into concert venues.  But the silly thing was that I knew I had no justifiable reason to be upset or worried.  The new songs we were singing were doctrinally sound, many of which I sang with vigor by myself listening to the car radio.  Understanding that I was just holding on to temporal preferences, I went along with the new format and gave Ryan a chance to work out his ministry.  Eventually we added an acoustic guitar, two accompanying singers standing off to the side (that’s important), and for a while we had an electric bass.

Now all these years later, I love the way it is.  In addition to the great hymns, I have “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us“, “In Christ Alone“, and “Blessed Be Your Name” which also help me praise and connect with my Creator.  I serve in the music ministry, and I enjoy the blended attitudes of duty and relaxation that our team carries. I have to say I love hearing God’s people sing.  But more change is around the corner.

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Dr. Robert George on Obama and Abortion

15 10 2008

Please take the time to read this powerful post by Justin Taylor over at Between Two Worlds.  It again reminds us of what is at stake in this election.  When I read through Obama’s record and views, it just breaks my heart and turns my stomach.

Robert P. George: “Voting for the Most Extreme Pro-Abortion Political Candidate in American History Is Not the Way to Save Unborn Babies”

Living for God’s Glory…part 2

14 10 2008

As I wrote yesterday, my plan for this week is to share with you some rich quotes from Joel Beeke’s new book, Living for God’s Glory.  This work explores the history and impact of the system of theology commonly called “Calvinism” (or “Reformed Theology”). Beeke’s work is an attempt to explore more than the Five Points of Calvinism and he does a great job really addressing the fullness of the system.  However, my desire for this week is to focus our attention on the wonder of our salvation, so the quotes I’m citing will come primarily from the section of Beeke’s book that deals with the famous Five Points.

To get us started, today I’m posting some quotes that show how Calvinist’s have understood the Biblical description of our sinful state and the reality of our tragic condition. Some may argue that the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity goes too far, but the more I read of the Scriptures the more I believe their explanation of the results of Adam’s fall are very much in line with what the Word teaches.

As you read these quotes today, I hope they further encourage us in our battle against sin and remind us of how thankful we should be for God’s amazing and overwhelmingly gracious work of saving sinners like us!

“In essence, sin is all that is in opposition to God.  Sin defies God; it violates His character, His law, and His covenant.  It fails, as Martin Luther put it, to ‘let God be God.’ Sin aims to dethrone God and strives to place someone or something else upon His rightful throne.”  – Joel Beeke

“When I look into my heart, and take a view of my wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell.” – Jonathan Edwards

“Every person in the world is by nature a slave to sin.  The world, by nature, is held in sin’s grip.  What a shock to our complacency- that everything of us by nature belongs to sin.  Our silences belong to sin, our omissions belong to sin, our talents belong to sin, our actions belong to sin.  Every facet of our personalities belong to sin; it own us and dominates us.  We are its servants.”
– Joel Beeke

“Original Sin is in us like our beard.  We are shaved today and look clean; tomorrow our beard has grown again, nor does it cease growing while we remain on earth. In like manner, original sin cannot be extirpated from us, it springs up in us as long as we live.”   – Martin Luther

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Living for God’s Glory

13 10 2008

Recently I have been reading through the new book by Joel Beeke titled Living for God’s Glory: an Introduction to Calvinism.  Beeke’s work explains the history of this system, demonstrates its biblical foundation and examines its wide influence on the Church and culture.  One element I’ve really enjoyed is the book’s rich examination of God’s work in our salvation.  So, over the next week I thought I’d share some quotes from the Beeke’s work that have impacted me and got me thinking, specifically as it relates to a God’s work and role in our redemption.

I thought I’d start this series this morning with Beeke’s explanation of the heart of Calvinism.  He sees it as a Theocentric system, in which all doctrine, study, and practice is ultimately aimed at manifesting the glory of God.  He writes:

Calvinists define all doctrine in a God-centered way. Sin is horrible because it is an affront to God. Salvation is wonderful because it brings glory to God.  Heaven is glorious because it is the place where God is all in all.  Hell is infernal because it is where God manifests His righteous wrath.  God is central to all of those truths.

As Calvinists, we are enamored with God.  We are overwhelmed by His majesty, His beauty, His holiness, and His grace.  We seek His glory, desire His presence, and model our lives after Him.

Other Christians say that evangelism or revival is their great concern, and these things must concern us greatly, of course.  But ultimately, we have only one concern: to know God, to serve Him, and to see Him glorified. That is our main objective.  The salvation of the lost is important because it leads to the hallowing of God’s name and the coming of His kingdom.  The purifying of society is important because it helps us do God’s will on earth as it is done in heaven.  Bible study and prayer are important because they lead us into communion with Him. (pg. 42)

I truly appreciate this focus.  Although I do not believe that Calvinism is the only theological system to stress the glory of God, I am thankful for how thoughtfully and carefully Calvinistic theologians down through the years have worked so many issues of life and faith through this “Theocentric” grid.  The puritans were prime examples of this approach truly fleshed out in all of life’s facets. This doctrinal foundation, brought to bear on the Christian life, has often produces disciples who are biblically humble and rightly joyful as they see their lives framed by Someone far greater than themselves.  This is a commendable quality that Christians from all theological approaches should seek to embrace.

Vote Your Conscience!

10 10 2008

The Catholic church has produced an amazing video that I felt compelled to share with you all. While I am not Catholic I felt as though this video captured the essence of what is at stake in this election. It is hard for me to accept that anyone could approve of the legalized murder of millions of children every year (especially with how much modern science has taught us about the unborn – www.abort73.com) . May God help us all to vote with the moral fabric of our country in mind. If we stand for what is right, God will bless us.