Thoughts

I have not posted on this blog since last week, but it has been for certain reasons. My wife and I had some friends come out for a few nights. When I say friends, I mean we had seven people fit into a 575 square foot apartment for three days and four nights. That was quite interesting. After they all left I began attending my first classes at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. This has kept me busy as well. 


This morning I have a little free time before my first class and chapel so I do want to post a little something. I want to express some of my thoughts about this semester so far.

First of all, I just want to begin by saying that I never could have imagined that I would be attending a seminary that is absolutely infatuated with the inspired Word of God. The verse for the whole campus is 2 Timothy 3:14-17 which says, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man or woman of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Southeastern believes and holds this verse dearly to them. They quote it often and esteem the Bible as it truly is, the inspired, inherent, infallible, and authoritative breathed out word of God.

Secondly, I would have never thought that I would be attending a seminary that cared so much for the great commission. For those of you that do not know what the great commission is, it is stated in Matthew 28:18-20 saying, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.” Every professor that has spoken in front of me so far has talked about the great commission. The first chapel of the semester was dedicated to the great commission. Southeastern is eager and yearns to glorify God by sending out the people of God to the unreached people groups of the world that they may believe upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ and sing praise to the glorious grace of God. 

Thirdly, I would have never even considered that I would be attending a seminary that holds marriage in such high esteem. The president of the seminary held a marriage seminar for all the new students that were married. He spoke on the importance of the institution of marriage. He made it clear that marriage was given by God to a woman and man and proved it clearly from the teaching in Genesis, the teaching of Jesus, and the teaching of the Apostle Paul. Dr. Akin spoke on his love for his own wife and how much his marriage has meant to him and it was beautiful. He also said that the goal of Southeastern is this, not that we come to seminary loving our wife and we leave from seminary loving our theology while our marriage fails, but rather that we come to seminary loving our wife and we leave the seminary loving our wife more because everything that we have learned has not gone straight to our head but rather to our spirit leading us to look more like Christ which in turn leads us to love our wife like Christ loves His Church (Ephesians 5).

Lastly, I never believed that I would come to a seminary that loves the Bride (Church) of Christ so very much. Day after day this week we have been going through the syllabi for our classes. Each time it is handed to me I am in shock at the work load that the seminary gives. This is not going to be easy but there is a reason that it is not going to be easy. You see, for far to long, churches have been field with unequipped and unprepared ministers that are just flat our not ready. These professors love the church too much to not do something about that. This is why they give us a course load like they do. They want to send out preachers, missionaries, church planters, teachers, doctors, lawyers, carpenters, and many other types of professionals that are deeply passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ that are able to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”(Ephesians 4:12-13).

In conclusion, pray for seminary students. It is dangerous to be in seminary. You hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ every day. Pray that we will not lose the awe of the Gospel. Pray that every time we hear, sing, or learn about the Gospel of God’s immeasurable grace given to us through the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ that we would have our breath taken away. 

Psalm 115:1
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of you steadfast love and your faithfulness.”

Poems

Isaac Watts

I introduced you all to Isaac Watts, the famous hymn singer, last week. This week I want to tell you a little more about Isaac.

Isaac Watts began writing hymns in a day and time when all that was really sung in English churches were the Psalms of David. This does not seem like a big deal, but in reality this was a much bigger deal than changing the carpet color in a modern day church sanctuary. This was radical! Nonetheless, Isaac Watts had a conviction that the Scriptures commanded the singing of hymns so he began writing them and the church began singing them when Isaac was at the age of nineteen years old. 

The church loved the hymns that were being written and wanted Isaac to write a new one every week. By Isaac’s early twenties he had written most of the six hundred plus hymn’s that he would write in his life. Almost all of these are timeless and have and will be sung for many years to come. Among the most famous Isaac Watts’ hymns is “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”. This hymn shows the passion and zeal that Watts had for Christ. Worship while you read this.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, That I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ, my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood, 

See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine, 
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Inspired by Isaac

I am in no way Isaac Watts. I clearly stated this last week. I do, however, want to continue in writing some poems. This is what Isaac Watts was doing when he was seven and it is what I am aiming to do at the age of twenty three. 

The name of Christ is so sweet
Just to ponder it will bless thee
Lamb of God for sin was slain
Honor and praise are due His name
Up, He came forth, from the dead
Over the church, He is the Head.

Meditate upon the work of Christ today. He is altogether glorious and He reigns forever more. 

Revelation 5:12

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

READ!

A Word of Wisdom From an Old Saint

I have recently finished reading “The Radical Disciple” by John Stott. The material within the main chapters of the book were beneficial, but it was what Stott wrote in the postscript that resonated with me the most because it is often on my mind these days. John Stott writes:

“For there is something unique about books. Our favorite books become very precious to us and we even develop with them an almost living and affectionate relationship. Is it an altogether fanciful fact that we handle, stroke and even smell them as tokens of our esteem and affection? I am not referring only to an author’s feeling for what he has written, but to all readers and their library. I have made it a rule not to quote from any book unless I have first handled it. So let me urge you to keep reading, and encourage your relatives and friends to do the same. For this is a much neglected means of grace.”

Thoughts

How beautiful is this? John Stott was 88 years old when he wrote this to his readers. John Stott has since gone on to be with the Lord Jesus Christ, but since he labored to write to the glory of God for the benefit of his readers he is still instructing us to do that which will strengthen our faith mightily. This reminds me of Charles Spurgeon when he said, “As long as there is breath in our bodies, let us serve Christ; as long as we can think, as long as we can speak, as long as we can work, let us serve Him, let us even serve Him with our last gasp; and, if it be possible, let us try to set some work going that will glorify Him when we are dead and gone. Let us scatter some seed that may spring up when we are sleeping beneath the hillock in the cemetery.” It is hard to bear fruit when you are dead unless you have written about Christ and people are reading about Christ. This is what Stott has done.

Stott speaks of books in a way that may seem odd to many of us. He speaks of having a living and affectionate relationship with them. He says that we handle, stroke and even smell them as tokens of our esteem and affection. This is not strange though, not to a reader. Stott realized that books were a gift given by God to his people in order to strengthen their faith. That is what a “means of grace” is. So Stott viewed books as a means of grace therefore he cherished, loved, adored, and handled them as such. He knew that reading a good book helped conform him into the image of Jesus Christ. 

Personally 

I have seen this in my own life. I was not a guy that enjoyed reading five years ago. I was a baseball player that wanted to keep my GPA high enough to play baseball. This all changed when God delivered me from the domain of darkness and transferred me into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). I began reading the Scriptures and searching them to find out more about this Almighty God that seeks His own glory in the salvation of wretched sinners so that He might display the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7). As I read, I began coming across passages of Scripture that I could not understand or that I thought I understood only to come to find out that I did not have the correct context of the Scripture so I also had an incorrect view of the Scripture. Then I realized that God gave His people teachers in order to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful scheme” (Ephesians 4:11-14). 

Then I realized that a lot of these teachers wrote books. I realized that these books, when read in prayer with discernment, helped me to look more like Jesus. They fed my soul the truth of God’s Word. They were a means of grace to me. Ever since I discovered this I have fell in love with reading. I can read what John Stott wrote about almost having a living and affectionate relationship with books and not think that it is strange. Praise be to God for changing the desires of my heart from such menial things (cable, television, gaming, social media, etc.) and placing within me a desire to read.

What About You?

So, with all of that being said, I now want to ask you a few questions. How do you view books? How do you view reading? These two questions do not seem important but in reality they are. Reading is a means of grace given by God in order to strengthen the faith of His people. Do you see it as such?

SEBTS…We Made It!

Kahlie and I departed this past Friday to make the long drive to North Carolina where we moved into our dorm at SEBTS. The drive was absolutely gorgeous and the weather was perfect. The beauty did not stop when we arrived because the seminary is breathtaking as well. 


Here are some pictures!
 

              











Kahlie and I came up here with no furniture. This means, when we eat, we eat like this. 
Needless to say, we are having a blast! Kahlie has loved going to goodwill to see if she can find any hidden treasure! Who would have thought that George Washington’s desk would have been at the goodwill in Wake Forest, North Carolina for $12.00?!
Or that this place would come with a built in book shelf?

In All Seriousness

I am so thankful to have a wife that finds her satisfaction in Christ. She has proved to me time and time again that godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6). She is committed to being my wife, servant, help mate, and provider (seminary cost money and she is the one bringing in the cash)! We are praying that our time here will be a time of conforming into the image of Jesus Christ, for that is God’s will for all His people (Romans 8:29).

1 Timothy 1:17

“To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor, and glory forever and ever. Amen”

Sorrowful, Yet Rejoicing

I have recently been learning what it means to be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing seems like a paradox but in reality it is not. Let me explain.
This Friday, at around four o’ clock in the morning, my wife and I will be leaving to go to Wake Forest, North Carolina where I will embark on my first year of Seminary at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. This means that for the past few weeks my wife and I have been saying good-bye to some of the greatest people we have ever met. This is a time of sorrow.

 

Sorrowful

Among those of whom we have to say bye to are our family members. Family is such an incredible gift of God and He has gifted Kahlie and I with great ones. We have families that do not reject us because of our faith in Christ, but that encourage and spur us on in our faith in Christ. They always seek to serve us and always show affection to us. It is sorrowful to have to hug the necks of our families knowing that you will not see them as often as you once did.
We also have to say good-bye to our church. The church is the beautiful bride of Christ and the local church is an incredible blessing to the people of God. It has been so to my wife and I. We have been serving in a youth ministry and this has allowed us to get to know some students that have grabbed our hearts. Kahlie has been able to develop relationships with young ladies that will endure far longer that this earth will endure. She has witnessed them grow and mature in their faith in Christ.

I have been able to see young men weep over their sin before a Holy God and cry out in repentance because of the loving kindness of the Father in Heaven. I have been able to witness young men begin sharing their faith and boldly proclaiming the great truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have seen them conform into the image of Jesus. This has been delightful to Kahlie and I. It will be sorrowful to say good-bye to these people that have become all to precious to us.
Lastly, we have to say good-bye to our community. Christian fellowship is to be prized and treasured. Community allows us to better see the height, depth, width, and length of the love of God in Christ Jesus. Kahlie and I have been able to be apart of a community that abounds in love. It is filled with a mixture of people from all different ages but that are united in one thing and that one thing is that Christ Jesus is Lord and that He reigns forever more. It will be sorrowful to say good-bye to these brothers and sisters in Christ that have benefited our walk with Christ, our sanctification, and our marriage.

Rejoicing

With all of the sorrow, there are great reasons for rejoicing. Here are some reasons.
As Kahlie and I depart Friday morning, we know that God looks upon the state of North Carolina and says, “Mine!” This is a God that is eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He is faithful, loving, kind, gracious, merciful, and just. He is a God that seeks His own glory and is jealous for His people. These are great reasons for rejoicing.
Another reason for rejoicing is that Jesus Christ is Lord. Christ Jesus remains resurrected from the dead and Lord of all. His victory over satan, sin, hell, and death will last for forever. He is seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven and is interceding for His people. He has promised that He will come to get His bride to take her to be with Him where He is. These are great reasons for rejoicing.
Another reason for rejoicing is that the Holy Spirit is at work. The Holy Spirit is not only at work in one area of the globe but all around the globe. They Holy Spirit is convicting people of sin, training them in righteousness, and warning them of the coming judgment. The Holy Spirit is at work testifying about the person and work of Jesus Christ and people are being saved. These are great reasons for rejoicing.
Lastly, the friendships that Kahlie and I are leaving here are friendships that are in Christ. These are friendships that will go on for all of eternity. We will all dwell in the Kingdom of God one day and be accepted in the Beloved. We will be able to worship the Lamb that was slain to the glory of God for all of eternity together and it will be glorious. These are great reasons for rejoicing!

So Kahlie and I are sorrowful, yet we are rejoicing with great joy. This is not a paradox, but a reality for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Blogs of Interest

Here is a question and answer from Justin Taylor to David Dorsey on a essay he had written titled What was the purpose and design of the Law Of Moses?

R.C. Sproul lays out 7 Truths We Have Forgotten and, in my opinion, he is spot on.

Here is a Short Documentary on Louis Zamperini which I am sure is highly entertaining and informative on one of the most remarkable men of our time.

In this blog, Nathan Schneider list out his five favorite reads of 2014. Go add some of these books to your 2015 reading list.

Quote of the Day

“Why believe the devil instead of believing God? Rise up and realize the truth about yourself – that all the past has gone, and you are one with Christ, and all your sins have been blotted out once and for ever. O let us remember that it is sin to doubt God’s Word. It is sin to allow the past, which God has dealt with, to rob us of our joy and our usefulness in the present and in the future.” 

Martyn Lloyd Jones

Six of My Favorite Books for 2014

Preaching & Preachers by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones does a masterful job at teaching you the dangerous duty of preaching in this book. It is recommended by many men (Piper, DeYoung, Dever, Macarthur, Lawson) and I understand why now. You will not ascend the pulpit the same way when you read this remarkable book written by the greatest pastor in the 20th century.

Expository Preaching by David Helm
This book is on my top six because it is very applicable. During this time of my life, I did not only need Martyn Lloyd Jones to show me the reverence I need for the pulpit and the gift of preaching, but I also needed an applicable book to tell me how to convey the Word of God to the people of God faithfully for the glory of God. 
From Heaven He Came and Sought Her by David & Jonathan Gibson
This was my first in depth study of definite atonement and I enjoyed it thoroughly. As a young calvinist, I needed to better understand this doctrine and this book helped me to do just that.
The Cross of Christ by John Stott
This was the second John Stott book that I have ever read but I hear from many that it is his most famous work. I can understand why many would say this because it was a brilliant display of the work of Christ on the cross. John Stott increases your affections for Jesus in this book. 
Spurgeon is my favorite theologian, pastor, preacher, and writer. All his works are timeless and will prove to be edifying to the body of Christ long after I am gone and for that I am grateful. This book gave me so much insight to this pastor whom I have come to love and thank God for. 
Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Screwtape Letters makes it to the top six because it was such a joyful read. I cannot begin to understand the mind of C. S. Lewis as he wrote this book. I turned each page with eager anticipation to see what the workers of darkness would do to get the child of God to fall and I left praising God for His faithfulness in preserving his children until the end