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Monday, October 2, 2017

Getting a Job or Making a Difference

“People offer me jobs all the time, and if my goal was to make an income, of course I would take the jobs. But my goal isn’t to make an income. My goal is to make a difference. Success for me is watching people I’ve taught teach others. I want to see generations happen as quickly as possible.” ~ Seth Godin

Monday, September 25, 2017

We are all Disciples of Someone

We are all disciples of someone, the question is of whom . . .
“To be human is to be a disciple. God didn’t present Adam and Eve with a choice between discipleship and independence, but between following him and following Satan. We are all disciples; the only question is, of whom?” ~ Mark Dever

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Necessity of Discipleship

 “When a person makes a confession of faith and is never taken through a formal discipleship process, there is little hope of seeing genuine spiritual transformation.” ~ Howard Hendricks

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How To Read 200 Books a Year

Reading requires desire and discipline.  Even the most educated individuals never read a book after college.  What a tragedy.  How to read more from James White . . . .

Want conviction? Try the title of this article: “In the time you spend on social media each year you could read 200 books.”
 
Ouch.
 
But is it true?
 
Yes, I believe for most people, it is. Here’s the four step process:
 
1. Do not quit before you start.
 
Many will hear “200 books” and immediately say, “I can’t!” or, “It’s just not possible.” All that does is guarantee that (for you) you won’t and it is.
 
2. Do the math.
 
As author Charles Chu notes, the average American reads 200-400 words per minute. The typical non-fiction book has 50,000 words.
 
Here’s the math: 200 books at 50,000 words per book equals 10 million words. Ten million words at 400 words per minute equals 25,000 minutes. 25,000 minutes equals 417 hours.
 
I know, you’re thinking: “417 hours?! No one has that kind of time.”
 
Which just means you’re now ready for the third step.
 
3. Find the time.
 
It was the famed business author Jim Collins who first challenged me about finding time for what matters most. He said that most of us don’t need more “to do” lists, but “stop doing” lists. That the war against something like reading isn’t that we don’t have time, but that we are filling our time with things other than reading.
 
Now to Chu’s point. The average American spends 609 hours a year on social media and 1,642 hours on TV. Once again, let’s do the math. That’s 2,250 hours a year. If you took all of those hours and spent them reading, you wouldn’t read 200 books a year. You would read more than 1,000 books a year.
 
So we have the time. Lots of it. In excess.
 
So why don’t we do it?
 
We don’t take the fourth step.
 
4. Execute.
 
In my book A Mind for God, I have an entire section on how to read more. It includes practical steps like turning off the TV or shutting down your phone. It involves carrying reading material with you wherever you go so that you can take advantage of empty pockets of time in waiting rooms or lines. It means putting books around your home and office so that they are always there, reminding you and encouraging you to pick up and read.
 
And perhaps most of all, it means setting aside a time – ideally when you are mentally fresh – to read a certain amount every day. And it matters on so many fronts. As Chu writes, “Books gave me role models and heroes and meaning in a world where I had none.” Or as I wrote in A Mind for God:
 
From reading alone could I gain a sense of the currents shaping the world; from reading alone could I understand the prevailing worldviews from which Christianity was being assailed; from reading alone could I place myself in the vanguard of taking the Word of God to the word of the world. For it would be reading that would fill my mind with virtually limitless knowledge, instruction, and insight. It would be reading that would exercise my mind and force it to break through barriers of stagnancy.
 
Little wonder that a monk in Normandy penned these words in 1170: “A monastery without a library [sine armario] is like a castle without an armory [sine armamentario]. Our library is our armory.” This was certainly the conviction of the apostle Paul who, even from his prison cell in Rome, implored Timothy to be sure to bring him his books (II Timothy 4:13).
 
So, 200 books a year? You don’t have to give up social media and TV altogether. Just take one hour out of every four you’re spending on them,
 
… and read.
 
James Emery White
 
 
Sources
 
Charles Chu, “In the Time You Spend on Social Media Each Year, You Could Read 200 Books,” Quartz, January 29, 2017, read online.
 
  
About the Author
 

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

No One Follows Their Heart

Helfpul thougths on an often confusing subject by Jon Bloom . . .

No one actually follows their heart. I know that sounds odd, given the prevalence of our cultural creed to "follow your heart." But if we think carefully about what the "heart" really is and how it functions, we will see that this creed doesn’t make sense, and why it ends up confusing and misleading people.
A few years ago, I wrote an article titled, “Don’t Follow Your Heart,” in which I argued that, considering the heart’s pathologically selfish orientation, it is not a leader we should want to follow.
Some readers objected, arguing that as Christians our hearts of stone have been replaced with new hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26), and therefore should be reliable to follow. I understand the point, though I believe it to be na├»ve. Romans 7 (and much of the New Testament) bears witness to — and my extensive personal experience and observation confirms — an active, deceptive sin nature still infecting the regenerate person, requiring us to remain wary and vigilant.
But in pursuing greater clarity, I'll push my argument one step further and say, No one follows their heart. Because God did not make the heart to work that way.

What Is “the Heart”?

What do people mean when they say, “Follow your heart”? I doubt most have thought carefully about it. Since it’s always wise to know who one’s leader is before we decide whether it’s wise and safe to follow, we must ask, what is this immaterial thing we call “the heart”?
Have you ever tried to concisely answer that question? It might seem manifestly obvious at first — until you try it and realize the water is deeper and trickier than you thought. Here’s my attempt: the heart is the biblical metaphor for the part of our inner being (soul) that is the source of our affections.
Affections are our strong inclinations toward or away from someone or something. We tend to call these inclinations “loves” or “hates.” Affections are the gauges in the soul that tell us how much or little we treasure persons or things.
So we can say the heart is our soul’s treasurer, because Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). And since God is the supreme treasure in existence, we are to have the greatest affections for him — we are to love him with all our hearts (Matthew 22:37).

Beware the Power of a Phrase

Our heart desires what it treasures. In other words, the heart is a “wanter.” So, when people say, “Follow your heart,” what they really mean is, “Pursue what you want.” But saying it this way casts a revealing light and blows away some of the dreamy, euphemistic haze from our cultural creed.
Words are powerful. They can cut through a tangled overgrowth and reveal glorious truth or devious lies. Or they can obfuscate and manipulate and deceive. “Follow your heart” and “pursue what you want” are good examples of what I mean.
“Follow your heart” has a noble, heroic, adventurous, courageous ring to it. And it seems to carry a weight of moral obligation, as if to deny it would be to betray ourselves. It sounds nearly sacred. If someone is on a quest to follow their heart, it feels almost like a violation to question whether they should.
But the phrase “pursue what you want” is more crass, and its inherent dangers are more readily apparent. When we hear it, we intuitively recognize the moral ambiguities in play and feel ambivalence due to the selfishness we know infects our motives. We might disagree on what wants should be pursued, but we are all agreed that not all wants should be pursued. We all know our hearts have plenty of wants that aren’t good for our hearts.
But more than that, “pursue what you want” clarifies who follows what. The key words in this phrase are “what” and “want.” Our “wants” follow the “what.” If our heart is our “wanter,” it follows “what” it wants. If our heart is our treasurer, it follows (or pursues) what it treasures. In other words, we don’t follow our treasurer; our treasurer tells us what treasure to follow.

You Never Follow Your Heart

This is why the phrase “follow your heart” is confusing and misleading. It’s sort of like saying follow your follower, or treasure your treasurer, or want your wanter.
The truth is that you never actually follow your heart. The heart is the part of you that follows what you want. That's why the Bible never instructs you to follow your heart. The Bible only instructs your heart to do what God designed it to do: to feel right affections. God tells your heart to treasure what is truly valuable (Matthew 13:44), to love what is right for the right reasons (Matthew 22:37–39), to trust what is true (Proverbs 3:5–6), and to hate what is evil (Psalm 97:10).
What you follow — what you pursue — is the object that stirs your heart’s affections. The exhortation “don’t follow your heart” bears repeating because I believe the enemy uses the cultural creed “follow your heart” to obscure the truth and manipulate people into deception.
“Follow your heart” is not benign. It’s a powerfully sounding, yet vague, impressionistic idea that sounds so close to being true that, if we aren’t careful, we will simply accept it at face value. And then it becomes a value that informs how we make our decisions and leads us down all sorts of selfish and destructive paths, all the while telling us that we’re simply and nobly being true to ourselves. If Satan can get us to keep our eyes on what we believe are our hearts' sacred dreams, he knows he can keep us blind to the real treasure.
But God doesn’t want our eyes on our hearts, because hearts aren’t designed to be followed. Hearts are designed to be led and directed (2 Thessalonians 3:5). God wants the eyes of our hearts enlightened to see the real treasure and pursue it (Ephesians 1:18). That’s why he tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). God doesn’t want us to erroneously think we follow our hearts; he wants us to know we follow Jesus.







Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Why God Ordains Evil

Here are my thoughts on why God ordains evil with some help from Jonathan Edwards . . .
I have thought about this troublesome issue for years and have revisited the issue with the recent natural disasters, social ills, the plight of suffering and persecuted Christians, my study of the Gospel of Luke and his emphasis on God’s Sovereignty, as well as issues that have affected family and friends. This issue is one of the most difficult that any of us will think about. Yet if you can grasp this it gives you solid footing when suffering comes your way as is promised (1 Peter 3:17; 4:19). So, I went to a reliable source and reread some material that Jonathan Edwards wrote concerning the topic. My main point is that God ordains evil not for itself but for his greater good and glory.
God’s greatest goal in all things, including the creation of the world and redemption of humanity and everything in between, is his own glory. Everything else is subordinate or secondary to this truth. Listen to the flow of thought of Jonathan Edwards, ‘So it is proper that his glory shine forth infinitely so in all his ways. It is not proper for one glory to show forth and another not all or less equally so.’ In other words, for ‘God to be glorified or revealed in his completeness’, it is necessary that all His qualities be displayed with equal force and expression.
Therefore, it is equally necessary for ‘Gods awful majesty, his dreadful greatness, his wrath, holiness as well as his goodness, love, mercy, grace should be manifest. But these could not be manifested unless sin and therefore punishment had also been decreed. If he had not decreed them the shining forth of his glory would be exceedingly imperfect both because these parts of his divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, but also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them.’ They ‘would scarcely shine forth at all.’
For instance, ‘if God did not ordain and permit and punish sin there could be no manifestation of God's holiness in hatred of sin. There would be no manifestation of grace or true goodness if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from. How much happiness soever he bestowed, his goodness would not be so much prized and admired.’
So ‘evil is necessary, in order to the highest happiness of the creatures and the complete communication of God - for which he made the world. For thus is why he made the world, the creatures happiness consists in the knowledge of God and the sense of his love. If our knowledge of him be imperfect, the happiness of the creature must be proportionately imperfect.’
So God ordains evil to exist for the complete manifestation and knowledge of his person to his creatures. If sin did not exist then we would not know his grace and his mercy and goodness towards us and therefore ‘by necessity would not know him more completely to more fully glorify himself.’ There is a ‘proportionate relationship between the complete communication of God, for which he made the world, and the happiness of his creatures.’ The ‘more imperfect and incomplete our knowledge of him be the more imperfect and incomplete our happiness must be.’ So God is glorified more fully for having conceived and created and governed a world like this with all its evil.
Note well, that the more imperfect our knowledge of him the more imperfect our happiness will be. This demands that we read and understand and know the word.