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The earliest fond memory I have of my dad is of him sitting on my bed next to me, strumming his guitar and singing, “A Boy Named Sue.” I still distinctly remember the phrase, the way my dad sang it – just like Johnny Cash: “We crashed through the wall and into the street, kicking and a’ gouging in the mud and the blood and beer…”

Yeah…

I agree…

It really is not such a great song to sing to a 5 year old, but I still cherish those times with my dad.  The bonding moments were few and far between with my father, who was as conflicted as Cash and the characters that he often sang about. 

But the fact remains, that I remember with fondness, the times when he did give me affection. And this one sticks out vividly in my mind.

CaptureSo I make it a point to have at least one bonding moment with each of my kids everyday.  It doesn’t have to be something extravagant.  It doesn’t always have to be a daddy date with Pirate Paks at White Spot Restaurant.  (Mmm I want a BC burger…)  It can be as simple as sitting on the bed and strumming your guitar, or going in the backyard and blowing bubbles,  sitting on the floor and laughing and having a good time. It can be as simple as stopping what you are doing for 5 minutes to listen to your child tell a joke, or tell you about something he learned that day – we are so busy that we often miss out on the little moments.  They are excited about new things, and when we delight in what they delight in, we create lasting positive memories for them.

Lately, Meagan and Kaitlyn love it when I make up stories for them.  I have been regailing them with the fanciful story of “The Rabbit.”

“There was a Rabbit named Rose, who lived in a hole in the ground. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a rabbit-hole, and that means carrots…”

Ok it is just a retelling of the Hobbit, with a rabbit named Rose, a wizard named Olaf ( who happens to also be a snowman), and a bunch of puppies, who head out to meet the pretty dragon Leela who has taken over the carrot and dog food stash. Along the way they meet a vast assortment of colourful characters.

The girls love it. 

They squeal with delight at each twist in the story, laugh at the antics of the puppies, and they even help come up with new characters and plot twists. It has been goping on for months now, and it takes just 5 or 10 minutes a couple times per week.  

I am hopeful that my children will have “mud and the blood and the beer” memories of our time together.  Memories that are ingrained in them of the positive times we spent together. I just pray that the memories are made more frequently than mine were, and the content is a little more happy, and a little less “Man in Black.”

Take the time to make these memories with your kids. 

Bond. 

Engage.

Show them love.

Johnny Cash would have been 83 today, had he not been called out of this life. I won’t post “A Boy Named Sue” on the blog, since there are a couple off colour words in it. So here is, “The Man Comes Around.”  One of my faves.

 

 

 

Dad Advice: Act Like a Family Dog

Posted: February 26, 2015 in Family Issues

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When I get home after work at about 5pm, I have been out of the house for about 12 hours.  The day is just about done, and I am tired, sometimes I am stressed with the days events. I just want to relax and unwind, and often my prayer as I open the front door is less of, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” and more of, “Please make things the way I want (calm & organized…) so I can have serenity.”

I am learning…slowly

Anyway
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Often, when I cross the threshold of the home, it is like entering into a swirling vortex of chaos. It is the “witching hour” after all.  Dinner is cooking, the baby is crying, and the girls are running around the house like a tornado leaving  a path of pink,  glittery, destruction in their wake. Everyone is hungry and cranky…and sometimes it has been delegated to me to address some misbehaviour that the pink, glittery tornadoes have committed, or perhaps there is something that needs fixing, or some other thing requires my attention.

I can just imagine my wife saying, as the baby is crying, and the girls are fighting in a cloud of glitter:

“Just wait til you father gets home!”

Being tired after a long day, it is so easy to just act on impulse and yell at the kids, or discipline in anger. Or plop down on the couch and simply ignore it. But the Bible is very clear that both of those responses are wrong. Biblical discipline is, ultimately, not meant as mere behaviour modification, but as a means of showing the gospel of Jesus in action.  And the Bible tells us not to do it in anger or with indifference, but with care and pointing to Christ.

Something I have learned is that when I walk in the door at 5pm, it is actually the beginning of the day, not the end. Even though I am tired, I have not been with my family all day.  They have not seen me at all, and how I first engage with them in those first five minutes is going to set the tone for the whole home for the rest of the evening. So the first thing I do when I get home, before anything else, is act like a family dog. 

That’s right….I act like a family dog.  Not a guard dog.  Not a fighting dog…a family dog…

What does a family dog do when the family arrives home?  He is happy and excited to see everyone and he runs around and greets everyone.

So I run around and greet everyone.

I wag my tail.

I put on a smile.

I kiss my wife, grab my kids and toss them in the air, hug them, and then once I have expressed affection to each person…when they know that daddy is not an ogre…then I deal with the misbehaviour, or fix the broken pipe, or deal with whatever issue there is.  That sets the tone for the evening. Not only is it good for the family.  It is good for me as well, as it puts me in a proper frame of mind for any discipline, as well as for dinner and family devotions.

No, guys, I don’t have any biblical texts to back me up on acting like a family dog.  But it does tell us to not rebuke in anger, and really, it takes a mere 5 minutes to show a little affection and greet everyone when we walk in the door.

What do you have to lose?

Feel free to try it.

It is not always easy, sometimes I forget…but it really does make a positive difference.

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One Christian Dad discourages all dads from greeting their families in *exactly* same way dogs greet each other…ahem…please don’t do that.

Confronting Sin

Posted: February 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

This life is messy and broken. And doing life with other messy and broken sinners is, not surprisingly, even more painfully messy and broken. But that is no excuse to hide from the challenges. That is no excuse to run away from relationships that have become difficult. The Christian Life is not Facebook. We don’t simply “unfriend” a fellow believer when we have been wronged. Even when you want to slam the door and not look back, Jesus says, “I forgave you.”

Any time an oimagesffense results in a broken relationship within the congregation, as difficult as it is to do, confrontation must occur. Not mean spirited or vengeful confrontation. But a genuine seeking of justice and a loving restoration of what was broken. Both the sin and the broken relationship must be confronted, and reconciliation must be sought.

I mean, that is what Jesus did. Isn’t it?

He could have turned around and slammed the door. How often do we add to our debt against him? He, of all people, has the right to sit behind a keyboard and hit “unfriend”, and ignore us.

But he doesn’t.

He persisted.

Relentlessly pursuing us.

Loving us.

Forgiving us.

…and He demands that we do the same for those whom we worship with. According to Luke 17:3 and Matthew 5:23-24, both the sinner and the one sinned against have a divine responsibility to seek reconciliation. And if Jesus doesn’t turn His striped back on us, then there is never a good excuse for believers who worship in the same congregation to refuse to pursue reconciliation of a broken relationship. Unless of course, all the steps in Mathew18:15-20 have been exhausted, which would result in the excommunication of the sinner from the Church. But excommunication should never be our goal.

So when a brother sins against you…

Grab a shovel and dig in.

Confront sin.

Forgive sin.

Encourage.

Support.

Seek the good of your brother.

Pray…often.

Remember that even though we are broken and messy and sinful people, worshipping with other broken and messy and sinful people, we have a saviour who isn’t. We have a saviour who forgave us so we could be more like him. So use his shovel. And His strength. Pray often. And don’t let the broken messiness get you down, look at Jesus. He is all we need.

Why Does He Let Me Sin At All?

Posted: February 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Veronica asks:

Hey Ryan, I have a question about how we think about sanctification. It occurred to me today and I can’t think where to begin looking for the answer, although I suspect it’s somewhere in our confessions. Question: since the Holy Spirit working in me is the only reason I do anything good, and is not any doing of my own, why doesn’t he always work in me? I know that the answer must be that he is always working in me, but how is that possible since that would seem to imply that I can overpower his work in me. For example, in a day I might do a number of things considered good that can only be attributed to the Holy Spirit working in me. So, what about the rest of the day when I was able to ignore the Holy Spirit and sin anyway. If God chooses to overpower my base nature sometimes, why does he let me sin at all?

First I want to say that I love your question!  I often have struggled with similar questions. I have also asked myself, “If I am dead to sin…why do I keep sinning?”  or If God is sovereign, why does he permit me to sin? I think that is essentially what you are asking as well.  We know that we are redeemed by Jesus Christ.  We know that we have been given the Holy Spirit.  Yet we still sin. We are grieved that we grieve God.  We know that He could make us perfect now, so why doesn’t he?

Your question reminds me of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-25:

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 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. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,  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.  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  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.

Here we read an account of Paul in great conflict with himself, much the same as the question you asked.  And I have asked, and I am sure that every believer in history has asked.  Who has not asked it…Why can’t I stop sinning?  I hate it, but I keep doing it.  Why isn’t God working in me faster? And remember that this is not some unbeliever, or some baby Christian new convert, but the Apostle Paul. He loves God and His law and wants to obey it, but is pulled away by the sin that remains in him.

In verse 14 Paul says he is, “of the flesh, sold to sin.”

What?

Wait a minute..

Only a mere chapter earlier in Romans 6, he says we should count ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ. And just a chapter later in Romans 8 he says, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”  And from this text in Chapter 8 we can plainly see that if we are “in the flesh” we are unregenerate, that is, we do not have the spirit of God living in us.

But Paul says in chapter 7 that he is of the flesh.

So what is the difference between “in” and “of?”…those two words make a world of difference.  Simply saying that you are “of the flesh”, means that you are a sinner.  Saying  that you are “in the flesh” means that you are an unregenerate sinner.

Subtle difference.  But significant.

What about the phrase, “sold under sin?”  Well that does not mean the sin we currently commit, but the original sin that plunged humanity from grace under Adam.  We are sold under sin because Adam sinned. He was our head, and when he sinned he essentially sold us into slavery.

But then…

Jesus.

Jesus came and paid the price and redeemed us.  Now, for those who believe, we are no longer slaves to sin.

We need to distinguish between the activity of committing sin and the dominion or reign of sin.   While we will never be free of the presence of sin in this life,  its dominion can, and must be destroyed if we are believers. For instance, an unregenerate person may be a slave to a sexual addiction.  He is under the dominion of sin; he is a slave to sin.  When he is regenerated by the Holy Spirit and redeemed by Christ, he is freed from the dominion of sin, that is, his sin no longer rules him, he is no longer a slave to it.  However, while he has a new love of Christ, and the Holy Spirit living in him, and now sees God’s holy law as good… his body is still sinful. He is still “of the flesh”. The old sins will still appeal to his flesh, but now he has the power of Christ to fight against it.

This is where the doctrine of sanctification comes in.

We can make a distinction between two types of sanctification. Definitive and progressive.  Without going too deep…Definitive sanctification is at the moment of salvation.  When you are regenerated, you are definitely sanctified.  You are definitely set apart and made holy because of Christ.  Progressive sanctification is the Holy Spirit’s work over the course of our lives in bringing us to Christlike-ness.  It will only be complete at the time we are glorified.  Both are completely works of God in us, however we are not to be passive in our progressive sanctification, we are to be active participants in it, seeking to wage war on our sin, and seeking to grow in love.  As Jerry Bridges says,

Progressive sanctification is not a partnership with the Spirit in the sense that we each – the believer and the Holy Spirit – do our respective tasks. Rather, we work as He enables us to work. His work lies behind all our work and makes our work possible.

You asked about our confessions. The Canons of Dordt in the 5th head of doctrine certainly speaks to this… (read the entire thing it is fantastic):

Article 1 : Those whom God according to His purpose calls into the fellowship of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and regenerates by His Holy Spirit, He certainly sets free from the dominion and slavery of sin, but not entirely in this life from the flesh and the body of sin.

Article 2: Therefore daily sins of weakness spring up and defects cling to even the best works of the saints. These are for them a constant reason to humble themselves before God, to flee to the crucified Christ, to put the flesh to death more and more through the Spirit of prayer and by holy exercises of godliness, and to long and strive for the goal of perfection until at last, delivered from this body of death, they reign with the Lamb of God in heaven.

A believer cannot live in sin, he cannot be under the dominion of sin.  He can fall into sin, because he is still “of the flesh”… But it grieves his heart that he has offended a holy God.  Unlike the unbeliever, he finds no lasting pleasure in his sin, rather sin is a burden.  The unbeliever does not feel the burden of sin, just like a corpse cannot feel the weight of dirt upon his grave.  But when a person is regenerated, made alive in Christ, he notices the dirt.  He hates the dirt.  He will do anything to get out of the dirt, and while the Holy Spirit is lifting him out of the dirt, he is not going to just sit there, he will do whatever he can. Ultimately realizing that he cannot get out on his own, so he clings to the grace of God with the sure hope that God will bring him home and wash the dirt away for good.

To close I will quote Herman Bavinck from Reformed Dogmatics where he addresses the why of sin and evil:

“For even when God wants there to be evil, he only wants it in a way that is holy: though using it, he never commits it. And for that reason, he has also allowed sin in his creation. He would not have tolerated it had he not been able to govern it in an absolute holy and sovereign manner. He would not have put up with it if he were not God, the Holy and Omnipotent One. But being God, he did not fear its existence and power. He willed it so that in it and against it he might bring to light his divine attributes. If he had not allowed it to exist, there would always have been a rationale for the idea that he was not in all his attributes superior to a power whose possibility was inherent in creation itself. For all rational creatures, as creatures, as finite, limited, changeable beings, have the possibility of apostatizing. But God, because he is God, never feared the way of freedom, the reality of sin, the eruption of wickedness, or the power of Satan. So, both in its origin and its development, God always exercises his rule over sin. He does not force it, nor does he block it with violence but rather allows it to reach its full dynamic potential. He remains king yet still gives it free reign in his kingdom. He allows it to have everything– his world, his creatures, even his Anointed– for evils cannot exist without goods. He allows it to use all that is his; he gives it opportunity to show what it can do in order, in the end, as King of kings, to leave the theater of battle. For sin is of such a nature that it destroys itself by the very freedom granted it; it dies of its own diseases; it dooms itself to death. At the apex of its power, it is, by the cross alone, publicly shown up in its powerlessness (Col. 2:15).” Reformed Dogmatics, Volume III, Chapter 1, p. 64

Anyway, I hope that helps.  As I read it back, there is SO much more to be said. If you want to investigate further, check out the following list:

Remainders of Indwelling Sin in Unbelievers By John Owen

Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen

Mortification of Sin by John Owen

Notes on the Canons of Dordt by Rev. Clarence Bouwman

Reformed Dogmatics Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ. by Herman Bavinck (Amazon link)

Systematic Theology. by Louis Berkhof

This link will bring you to many, many, free theological type books, perfect for a theology nerd like me. Enjoy.

Easy “Love.”

Posted: February 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

“I think I am just gonna go home and pornhub it…”

Me: “Whoa! What?”

Him: “Yeah, I am a bit wound up. I need to release some tension…gonna pornhub it. Just me and my netbook…”

Pornhub it.

That was part of a conversation I had with a coworker.  After chatting with him for a bit, it was apparent that it is “normal” to use pornography. “Everyone does it.,” he claimed.  He had absolutely no problem with it.  Not only that, he had no problem with letting me know all about it, what site he likes, and…and then I cut him off….

When I tried to tell him about the exploitation of women, the rewiring of men’s brains, porn induced erectile dysfunction, and the rape culture propagated by porn, he just laughed, “Dude chill. It’s normal now.  Sure it’s not ideal, but what else are we supposed to do if we can’t find a chick to hook up with…?  It’s easy…”

And there it is.  It’s easy.

Hook up culture.  Easy.

Porn culture.  Easy.

Rape culture. Easy

Abortion.  Easy.

Is this really “normal” now?  Judging from the giant ad in Times Square in New York that was erected a couple months ago:

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I would say so.  

Yeah sure, it was taken down within a couple days, but enough people thought it was ok to let it happen.  How long before something like this is allowed to stay? It seems that America has bought into the lie of the devil. Our Children are now being blatantly exposed to pornography.  What does a parent tell their 7 year old who asks, “Daddy what is pornhub?”

I shudder to think…

Pornography, once a dark secret kept in a shoe box under the mattress of the social outcast that no one dared talk about, is now not only readily available, it is celebrated by “upstanding” people like my coworker. It makes sense, though, doesn’t it?  In a culture of easy sex on demand, why shouldn’t we be able to view this stuff?

And the crazy thing about all this? The real kicker? While people sit in front of their computers coveting, lusting and rewiring their brains to an obscene addiction without even realizing it, the most searched for word according to porn hub is not what most people would think it would be.  It is not some obscene and nasty word that guys are looking for.  Those looking at porn are not necessarily looking for kiddie porn, or other nasty, vile things, although it can, and often does, lead to that stuff…what they are looking for is actually what we are created to long for.

Love.

Love is the most searched for word in pornography.  This is totally insane. These men are destroying their brains, their marriages, their lives… looking for love.  How sad and twisted is that? The painfully sickening irony about the giant ad that Pornhub put up in Times square is that it changed the lyrics of the famous song, from “love” to “hand”…when everyone is looking for love.

We were created to love. 

We are commanded to love.

The Bible tells us that. This world needs love.  That is obvious. They are looking for it.  There is something missing deep inside them and they know it, they can feel it. It is a hollowness that needs to be filled. They long for love, but they do not know what love looks like. We have it. God is love. And yet we search in all the wrong places.  Only Jesus Christ can offer us the Love each of us so desparately needs. And only God in Jesus Christ can offer us freedom from sin and temptation, including lust, porn, adultery and other sexual sin.

Sadly, Christians aren’t immune.  More than 45% of Christians admit that pornography is a major problem in their home. An anonymous survey conducted by Pastors.com reported that 54% of pastors admitted viewing porn within the last year. And it’s not just guys! In an online newsletter, 34% of female readers of Today’s Christian Woman admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn. It was noted that 1 out of every 6 women who read Today’s Christian Woman say they struggle with addiction to pornography.  These numbers are all from a decade ago.  Porn is even more prevalent now. It is so easy.

Please.

Stop.

Stop “pornhubbing it.”  Stop looking for “love” on line. Cut it off. Porn is death.  Sexual sin is death. Adultery is death. These things will rot your soul, and destroy your marriages and families. Flee from sexual immorality.  Flee from sin.  Flee into the open arms of Jesus.

We are all looking for love. 

So look to Him. 

He is Love.

 

 

Yesterday, I read the article,  “Ten Things We Should Get Angry About Before Yoga Pants”  by Ashley Dickens, and I saw it reposted about 20 times on social media.  As I read it, I thought the writer saying that Veronica Partridge  is wrong about leggings when there are other bigger things out there.  Going to Partridge’s defence, I commented on one of the posts on Facebook taking issue with the article:

I take issue with this article. It supposes that God turns a blind eye to holiness. We are are called to bring the gospel to a dying world. And the entire point of the gospel is just that – holiness. <About 500 more words in here about our sin, redemtption, Jesus active obedience and holiness> I absolutely agree that we ought to support the poor, the widowed and the orphaned, James tells us that is true religion. But Jesus tells us to be holy as he is holy.

I commented hastily, as only I can. I do think that evangelical Christianity in general has lost something of holiness, but Ashley Dickens was not attacking Veronica Partridge, or holiness, or her personal decision to not wear leggings or yoga pants, rather it was addressing those who were rallying around her article as a war cry to abolish yoga pants.

I appreciate Veronica Partridge’s article, and her personal decision to honour God and her husband, by not wearing the fabric equivalent of spray paint on her bum.  However I do agree that the war on yoga pants and leggings is kind of ridiculous, when we consider what else is going on in the world. While I hate leggings, I am capable of not looking when the spray painted ladies walk by.  I hope the fad ends soon.  I also appreciate Ashley Dickens article.  Both have a place in Christian discourse, since God gives us all different passions and gifts.

Anyway, to the point of this post:

I went into this article assuming that it would be an attack on Veronica Partridge, and that is what I read because I was looking for it – preconceived notions are nasty things. I have removed my comment, but this is a public apology to all who read it, the people who messaged me, and especially to my sister in law Andrea who posted the article on which I commented, and to Ashley Dickens the author of the article.  Her article is not supposing that God turns a blind eye to holiness.

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The information age.

Wow.

It is just so amazing.

Isn’t it? Whatever you want to know is a mere finger swipe away. Have an ache or a pain?  Google it.  Based on your symptoms, you will be able to narrow it down to a few things before you ever go to the doctor.  Google even told me I was likely depressed before my doctor did.  I even did a brake job on my own van. Yes.  Me. And I hate having greasy fingers. I simply found a Youtube video and watched a mechanic do it, and I followed along.  Need a recipe for home degreaser for your hands after doing a brake job?  Google it. Need a home remedy?  Want to find a craft to do with the kids?  Dinner ideas? Sports stats? Want to know what the 17th digit of Pi is??

Just Google it.

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We are surrounded by information.  It is everywhere.  Like the air surrounding us, we breathe it in…but…it is almost like we have some kind of lung disease.  We breathe it in, but, not much of it sticks.  We have to keep going back, gasping for that tiny bit of information, only to forget it shortly thereafter.  And this air that we are gasping for is also heavy laden with poisonous gases… and many of us have no respirator to filter the bad stuff out. Some of us do not check if what we are reading is correct information, partially correct, mostly or completely false…and we breathe it back out for other unsuspecting people all over social media and in conversation. There is so much conflicting evidence all from “verified” sources. Who is right about climate change?  Vaccines? GMO’s? And on and on.   And not much of it looks very reputable.

But still I enjoy living in this information age.  It is amazing to be able to look up anything at any time. And with some discernment, you really can learn alot. But sometimes it is too easy.  Don’t you think? I mean, we don’t have to exercise our brains any more, we don’t have to study, learn and do. We just Google it.

Almost everyone is a Google scholar….especially, it seems, when it comes to the discussion of churchy stuff like doctrine.

I find myself cringing as I watch all the young theological graduates of Google U. feverishly debating all kinds of churchy/doctrinal subjects with each other on social media. Worse, is when it is against men who have served in the ministry for decades, who have MDiv’s or  Theological Doctorates.  Now there is nothing wrong with debate, or standing up for the truth, or questioning things – even those things your pastor says –  but just because you read a great quote by John Piper, or a great blog post by some reformed blogger, and you know how to copy and paste a proof text, does not mean you are a theological scholar. I am not immune either, so this is as much for me as for anyone else.

A word to the younger people.

Hone your knowledge and skills, and get to know your Bible…but realize that Googling proof-texts and reading Christian bloggers will never replace the blood, sweat, tears and prayer that our pastors have poured into studying the Bible, confessions, and countless books written by dead Christian geniuses. He is wielding a finely crafted warrior’s sword, with well calloused hands and strong arms.  A sword handed down to him from a long line of warriors before him who trained him to use it well…and we are getting blisters from our little butter knives.  We should put our butter knife down before we get hurt…besides…mom needs it to make us a sandwich.

Google does not a scholar make.

To be fair, I am also guilty of using Google to proof-text for my position.  It is so easy to do.  But if we want to really learn something of theology, we need to pull out the big guns: 

Pray, and earnestly seek God in devotion.
 
Read the Bible –  in context, not in proof text. 
 
Attend the worship services.
 
Read the old confessions. There is a wealth of knowledge in them.
 
Inquire into the minds of pastors and professors. 
 
Listen to older Christians.  Ask Questions and listen.
 
Read sermons.
 

10378061_10152770327236192_8992050941441346455_nDiscover how to interpret scripture with scripture, learn Hermeneutics.

And use google, but please… there is a ton of garbage out there, just wear your respirator and verify it before you use it.

Read old books by the likes of Athanasius, Edwards, Owen, Calvin, Luther, Augustine, Warfield, Watson, Spurgeon, Berkhof and newer ones by the likes of Sproul, Horton, Bridges, Ferguson, Packer and so on.

On a similar note…Before we think too highly of our own knowledge, just check out this list by Reformed Theological Seminary of suggested pre-seminary reading for those considering the ministry…that is PRE-seminary reading… how many have you read?  I certainly have not read them all. Oh, and if you have read them all don’t get puffed up about it :)

And finally we need to ask ourselves why we study God’s Word.
Every time someone drops a proof-text…  it is kinda like they are doing the whole, “Drops mic.  Walks off stage.” thing…over and over…
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and over…
When we go to the Bible and we just pull verses out to support our case, we fail to understand that we study God’s word so that we can learn more about Him. This is where he has revealed himself to us. And the knowledge we gain should then lead back to praise of God.  Theology is for doxology, as the old saying goes. This is not about us.  It is all about Him.
Google is not all bad. It is really an amazing tool.  Yes, even for studying God’s Word, if it is used correctly. But  just because I can watch a YouTube on how to change my brakes, does not mean I am a mechanic.   Googling your symptoms does not make you a doctor.  And Googling proof-texts to copy & paste into social media does not make anyone a theological scholar.
Here are a few copy & pasted, out of context, proof texts I googled just for this post,:

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. ~ 1 Timothy 5:17

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. ~ Titus 3:9-11

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. ~ Proverbs 9:10

One Christian Dad can validate the prosperity gospel with proof-texting…he won’t, but he could…

One Christian Dad:

From my other blog. A one month check in and update.

Originally posted on The Healthy Christian:

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In December I was in the pit of depression.  I was fat. I was stuck in a gloomy, dark tunnel of seeming hopelessness. My counsellor told me to de-clutter, and focus on Christ and the blessings in my life. My doctor gave me an ultimatum on December 31st….you are obese. Lose weight. Lose at least 15 pounds right now, avoid alcohol, eat healthy, take vitamins, get to a gym, get outside…

So I took the doc’s orders to heart…well…Teresa also pushed me. I took basic measurements on January 5th.

Weight: 195lbs
Chest 42.25
Waist 42
Hips 43

I am 5’7″ which means my ideal weight is around 155-160lbs and my waist should be around 31-32″.  I was totally out of shape. Which did nothing to help my depression.   I had a bum knee, how could I do this?  Walking hurt…

Just give me chips and pop…

So with Teresa standing…

View original 426 more words

disciplineWhen one is struggling with depression, negative comments and emails really suck. They tend to stick in your head and the other ‘positive’ emails get forgotten as the negative ones take over. But that it is one of the things about being a publicly outspoken Christian… I have to take the knocks as well as the praise. :)

accusation-2-660x350Recently I was accused of sin by posting publicly my article, “I Just Broke up With Matt Walsh.” It was met with some praise, but there was also some criticism. The main accusation was that I had not followed Matthew 18 in dealing with Matt Walsh. The accusation was made privately, by a couple different people across the Canadian Reformed Denomination – the church I am a member of. As with any accusation of sin, it is good to examine oneself in light of scripture and not simply brush it off. Especially when it comes from more than one person.

So I spent some time reading what I had written. I asked some people in the Church to examine it and I spent some time in the Word. One of the blessings I have is that there are a number of pastors and others who are more spiritually mature than I who read the blog, and believe me, they don’t let me get away with much. If I stray off the path a bit too far, I get a sharp tug on the leash.

And I really appreciate that.

A Personal Lesson on Using Matthew 18

images-1A few years ago, I got mad at some online churchy stuff. I pointed an accusing finger at one side of the battle and declared that they were not following Matthew 18 because they called out the other side and made a public rebuttal on a website rather than going to the other person privately. This person was a minister, (yeah, I need to learn who I am pointing fingers at…) who swiftly put me in my place by showing me how Matthew 18 does not apply in all situations, even when it involves fellow church folk… and he had a duty to protect his flock from the public sin of the other person.

So as I ran away with my tail tucked between my legs, I did some research. I thought that Matthew 18 applied whenever we had a beef with a fellow believer. So when do we follow Matthew 18? Does it apply to unbelievers? Do we use it “all the time” when someone sins? What about public sins? Etc.

Matthew 18 is for private sin.

OK, the easiest way to put this is that the principle of discipline that Jesus gave us, as set out in Matthew 18, is specific to situations of private, personal sin. Let’s say that we go to the same church, and I spread gossip about you to some people in the congregation. You are not to go to my elder or my pastor and say, “Hey deal with this guy! He is sinning!” Or post it on social media and say, “Whatta jerk! This guy is lying about me.” That would not be acting according to scripture. The rule for sin against you is always to first go to your brother or sister alone, leave others out of it. But if I don’t repent when you come to me, then take someone who witnessed me gossipping – someone who I told the gossip to – along with you. If I still do not repent, then you are free to either drop it, or bring your complaint to the elders of the church. In this situation, you keep my sin quiet between just you and the other witnesses. Then escalate to the Church leaders, who will begin a similar process of private admonition, and escalate up to excommunication.

What about very public problems, sins, and errors?

article-2306193-19300112000005DC-370_306x423Now, what if I were to gossip about you, but this time I used my blog? Perhaps I blogged about how I caught you looking at porn or something? That would be atrocious, grievous, and a public sin on my part. It would probably significantly hurt your reputation. Since I know that lots of church people are going to read about your sin, this is a very public abuse of my blog, and it is definitely sin against you. Should you come to me privately? You could, but you are now quite within your rights to bypass me and go to our elders. I would expect that the elders would also immediately demand a public apology and I would probably be removed from attending the Lord’s Supper for a while until genuine fruit of repentance was shown.

Another example is when someone purporting to be an evangelical minister, like Joel Osteen, preaches heresy, like the prosperity message. We do not simply send him an email and hope that he reads the email and changes. No we publicly denounce what he has publicly stated. We state his error clearly, to protect others from him. We call him to repentance publicly. What we don’t do is try to discredit him by prying into his personal life and publicly ruining him if we find private sins. We don’t make ad hominem attacks about his character. We simply name the sin and call to repentance.

Similarly, if the pastor of the neighbouring Canref Church starts preaching heresy, we don’t go to him privately – you could I suppose – but we should go to the elders of his church. Matthew 18 does not apply here because the sin is very public.

Does it apply to those outside the Church?

According to Pastor Keith Davis (URC),

It is practiced among people who share the same faith, who confess the same Lord, who share in all Christ’s benefits and blessings, who by Christ’s Spirit have been united together in the bond of peace, and who strive after a common goal and purpose.

Well, what about Matt Walsh? Did I sin by not following Matthew 18 and posting this article publicly?

Well…no.

OigI1k0R-1024x1024I did not write anything that is not public knowledge, that he himself has not written and is not proud of. That said, I have sent him emails of admonition on a few occasions, but with no response – and his writing has only become more negative and more inflammatory. Second, he is not a member of my church, nor a member of my denomination, nor is he a member of the protestant Church. He is Roman Catholic, and as such we are not technically brothers, since our confession of faith is incompatible. (This was something a pastor tugged on my leash about.) We have similar political views, we are both religious, but when it comes to our faith, we are not the same. Let me ask, how would I go about applying Matthew 18 in this situation? Sure, I emailed him. I know others have emailed him. Should we then escalate to our elders? To his Priest or Bishop? To his editor? Where does it go from there? As you can see, Matthew 18 will not work in this situation.

Is Matthew 18:15-20 most abused/misused Text in the Bible?
William B. Evans, a minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, believes that Matthew 18:15-20 may be the most abused text in the Bible, stating,

“In recent years I have noticed an upsurge of appeals to Matthew 18. This likely has something to do with the way the Internet has changed the dynamic of public conflict in the church. With controversies unfolding in real time over the course of hours and days as opposed to months and years, it is much more difficult for those in power to manage such episodes, and Matthew 18 is attractive in that it seems to provide such people with leverage by which to stifle dissent.”

Evans goes on to say,

“Why do these wrong headed appeals to Matthew 18:15-20 gain so much traction in Evangelical circles? It probably has something to do with a naïve Biblicism that values simplistic proof-texting over the careful exegesis and application of Scripture. It probably has something to do, as Carson suggests, with an exaltation of tolerance as the “greatest virtue.” But most of all, it likely has to do with a simple failure to take biblical truth seriously.”

Is it because tolerance is espoused by the world, and it is leaking into the church?  Is it the ease of proof-texting out of context in an age of google-theologians? Is this what is happening?  It seems that every time I write an article that takes a stand on something, I get at least one message accusing me of not following Matthew 18.  I don’t know.

matthew

Conclusion.

Matthew 18:15-20 is specifically for sin between brothers and sisters in Christ. Our Lord designed the practice of discipline to be exercised and applied by every member of His Church. It’s because as Christ’s church, we are the family of God, the ones God loves.  Christ shed His blood and gave His body to die upon the cross for us. We are the Ones whom our Triune God has made to be holy. So, all sin must be taken seriously. I appreciate my brethren looking out for me, and taking me to task, and holding me accountable.

We ought to look out for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. We should admonish in love, and seek the others good. Discipline should be done with wisdom and in love.  Avoid accusing in anger. Avoid speculating on hypocrisy, or hidden sins. Wisdom should be sought through prayer and meditation on the Word. Don’t let ego, or pride, get in the way of Love.  Because that is the whole point of discipline – to love on each other.

Keep it up.

Keep loving each other.

I just Broke Up With Matt Walsh

Posted: January 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

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This is Matt Walsh. He is a well known and controversial blogger. Love him or hate him, it appears that he is here to stay.  With a new deal to write for the Blaze, and a few hundred thousand followers, he is not going anywhere anytime soon. He was one of my faves for a long time. There was a period that I even wanted to be like him.  I admit that I envied the rate at which his audience grew.  I envied the fact that he could make a living blogging. I would anticipate reading his articles, and I would share them with glee…but I admit that I would find it disheartening to wake up and see that he had already tackled a topic that I had set to publish later that morning.  How could I compete with him? He wrote with such passion and conviction. I wanted to be just like him. I even wanted a sweet Chi Rho Tattoo.  Ok not really, but my right wing, conservative, calvinistic, Christian ego loved being stroked by his anti-everything-liberal attitude.  But then something happened.  I am not sure where, or when it happened.  But… Matt…it’s not you.  It’s me.

I’m sorry…

I don’t think I can read your blog anymore.

It initially started after his post about depression…oh man.  I did not like that post. At all.  Nor did a lot of people. He was partly right, but mostly he knew little about the topic and offended anyone who ever struggled with depression in any form.  I forgave him for this article, because, we are not going to agree with everyone all the time.  I mean really, if you agree with everything I ever wrote, I would question your sincerity. My wife does not even always agree with I write.  I don’t even agree with everything I have ever written.  In fact, I don’t expect many of you to agree with this article.

Anyway…

Joel-Victoria-Osteen-Lakewood-ChurchThen a little while later, after the depression article had been forgiven, Walsh responded to Joel and Victoria Osteen. After her (in)famous statement about how we worship God for us… or something like that…the entire Christian World was in an uproar. The Osteens were ripe for the picking, and did Matt ever pick them…apart. I liked Matt’s article.  Really. I did.  I agreed with it. I stood up and I cheered, as only an introvert can…by sharing it on social media. There was nothing “wrong” with it per se.  But then it dawned on me that the ONLY people who will read it are those who already agree with him. Those who are already in his corner.

People like me.

Joel Osteen will never read it.

The people who follow Joel Osteen will never read it.

And even if they did read it, do we honestly think that an article written with such an attitude, that simply attacks everything wrong about Osteen will change anything? I agree that Joel Osteen needs to quit spewing half truth prosperity garbage, and that he and his followers need to hear the real gospel. I will even agree that he is not really a pastor, but more of a motivational speaker. However, in his desire to be right, Mr. Walsh, seems to have neglected to take into consideration verses like Ephesians 4:15.

Speak the truth Matt, but do it in love. Don’t be mean spirited about it.

Do it with the other’s best interest in mind, not just your ratings. Don’t merely put Osteen down and name call. I asked a friend, “Wouldn’t it be better if Osteen was brought to repentance rather than simply made fun of or told to shut up?” Imagine for a moment: One Sunday morning Osteen steps up to the pulpit in front of 20,000 people.  He opens the Bible and reads.  Then he speaks, not about how we can have victory today, but he preaches Christ’s victory over sin and death, and our redemption through the blood.  The gospel shines. Oh if only. Imagine how mightily Osteen could be used by God.

I digress…

Lately I find myself cringing when reading Walsh’s articles. Now I can enjoy a cringworthy article once in a while, but when it is more often than not, I start to feel a little off. Just yesterday he wrote an article about climate change.  That article stank up the joint.  Seriously though, he could have easily posted the facts that he had, without the negative, sarcastic, ad hominem attack. But then, I guess, no one would have read it. Hey, he might be right, I don’t know,  I am not well versed in the world of climate change. What I do know is that this article was offensive to anyone who is not on his side of the climate debate.  I am not above offending people, but for an issue like this, is this the best way to go about getting ones views across? I mean, climate change is not really something to appear so upset over. Is it?

Anyway, as Mr. Walsh gently (or not) espouses an ideological paradigm, while trumpeting madly against anything and everything that does not go along with it, I find that I have begun to distance myself from him.

Not from his worldview so much, but the way he presents it.

Yeah, I hate abortion too.

 

Yeah I am for Biblical marriage.

 

No, I am not a fan of liberal feminism.

 

No, I don’t like most things liberal either.

 

In fact I agree with the point Walsh is making in most of his articles.

 

But…

The name calling? The arrogance? The condescending tone?  There is just so much noise surrounding the issues, that I can’t hear him anymore.  I wonder if anyone, except for those in his corner, can hear him.

I should clarify that I am not any better than Matt Walsh. I am guilty of similar sins on my blog.  Of trying shock tactics to bring in readers, and I am sorry for that. We stand on the same side of many topics. I only want the best for him.  I pray that his blog will be used for good.

In conclusion, and in short, I find myself angry after I read his articles. It is not good for my sanctification. That is why I have stopped reading. I am not saying that you should stop reading.  Not at all.  I just can’t do it anymore.  Matt it’s not you, really.  It’s me.

I can’t believe it.

I just broke up with Matt Walsh.

Matt,
If you read this, which I doubt you will, I miss your alpaca grooming tips. Back when you wrote with just as much conviction, but with a little less attitude, and a little more love. Back when there was less noise.  Back when I actually laughed while reading your articles.

 

Keep your eyes focused on Jesus.  Not on your blog stats.  May God bless you,

 

Ryan
AKA One Christian Dad
PS: I still like the tattoo…