Things May Get Messy

Next week on March 29 and 30 Rosaria Butterfield is coming to speak to the Christian community in Bloomington, IN (more information here).  Rosaria is a gracious and engaging believer who has written two very helpful books on the power of the gospel to transform our lives.  In Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, she tells the story of her own, dramatic conversion to Christ.  In Openness Unhindered, she explores the need for every person to find his or her true identity in Christ.  In the process of telling some of her own story, she makes it clear that the gospel has the power to seriously disrupt our lives in ways that are not always neat and tidy.  Calling her own conversion story a “train wreck” she has a lot to teach the church about what it means to work with people whose lives are being made new by Christ.  When she walked away from her former life as a tenured English professor at Syracuse University, all she had left was her dog and what she could fit in her car.  God quite literally blew up her previous relationships and support systems in the process of making her His own.

In […]


Spring Storms: Are You Ready?

Spring sprang on Monday in Indianapolis with powerful thunderstorms. Booming thunder rattled both windows and the souls of young and old, not to mention all of the dogs that ran for cover under their masters’ beds. More storms will surely come this spring;  are you ready? Emergency preparedness experts ready us physically, but is your soul ready for them too? The Lord gave Psalm 29 to meet us at times like these; it’s a good one to memorize for the next storm that rumbles.

“The voice of the Lord” is repeated seven times in a Psalm that describes the thunder of a violent storm that moves across the land of Israel from northwest to southeast. The Psalm opens as a call to worship in light of the storm that is bearing through the region. In the Psalm, we hear the voice of God in natural revelation as it rumbles over waters, as it shakes mountains, splinters great cedars, flashes forth flames of fire, echoes across the desert, and terrifies wild beasts. Storms today do all of the same things; and they still freak people out with their raw power.

But the Psalm says that inside God’s temple, all cry “Glory!” Why? Because the […]


3GT Episode 30: Keep the Sabbath Day Holy. But How?

Is the Sabbath now the first day of the week? Do you call it the Sabbath or the Lord’s Day? Can you have a “to-do” and “to-don’t” list without becoming legalistic about it? How do you rest on the Sabbath? How do you keep it like Jesus did? What do you do when you are asked to work on it? What if you are traveling and there’s no good church around? Are we more worried about legalism than obedience? And should you have a Sabbath bucket of toys like Kyle does? So many questions! Are there answers? Listen to 3GT and find out!

We thank Crown & Covenant for sponsoring the podcast! Be sure to listen for a great way to receive some free books!

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/3gt-episode-30.mp3

Download


The Expectation of Fasting

When Jesus was asked a question on the subject of fasting as recorded in Matthew 9, he answered in a way that God’s people should well understand.  He used a wedding metaphor.

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.’” (Matt. 9:14-15)

The basic lesson of this metaphor is that fasting is like waiting for a wedding. Better yet, fasting is like the bride longing for the wedding and bringing it more quickly by that longing. It is asking the lover of your soul to come and make a holy visitation.

With this metaphor, Jesus explained that his disciples were not fasting at the time because he was with them. But when he would leave to go to heaven where he is now, note what he says will happen. Look at the last three words of verse 15: “they will fast.” Jesus expects Christians to fast.

Our Lord made that clear earlier in the gospel of Matthew. […]


A rose or a collection of petals?

I learned something amazing about flowers the other day—that the angle between successive leaves on a stem is approximately 137 degrees. Now that particular angle is known as the golden angle. It is to circles what the golden ratio is to squares and rectangles. The golden ratio is seen as the epitome of spatial perfection and proportion—and occurs frequently in nature as well as in human design. And for leaves on a stem this interesting angle is the arrangement that gives the best access to sunlight.

I love design and mathematics, so this was right up my street and I’m sure botanists could give me a thousand more fascinating facts.

They could take a rose and dissect it and show the wonder of the stem, the bud, the way the petals interweave.

And all of that may combine to make one rose more noteworthy than another.

But when I give a rose to my wife it’s saying something far more than the sum of the botanical mathematics and geometry. It’s saying, “I love you.”

I see a parallel with preaching:

Some preachers are great at dissecting a text, analysing it from every angle and setting out every truth in it.
Some preachers are great at bringing new […]


The Screensaver of your Mind

What’s your computer’s screensaver? You know – the picture that comes up after a few minutes of inactivity. In the olden times there were only a handful of stock pictures to choose from, but nowadays the choices are infinite. Some hi-res close-up photograph of a butterfly wing or a satellite shot of the Sahara desert from space. Perhaps a random assortment of your family photographs. If you’re unimaginative or just haven’t worked out how to change the default screensaver setting then perhaps you’re greeted by a blank screen when the computer goes into power save mode. Whatever it is, it’s what comes up when you’re not actively using the computer for anything else.

Your computer screensaver (or lack of one) may or may not reveal something profound about your personality and thoughts, but did you ever think about the screensavers of your own brain? What are they? They’re the things your mind reverts to thinking about when it’s left to its own devices. When you’re not focused on a particular task in hand – you’re not trying to solve that calculus equation or write that essay or cook that meal or repair that broken door handle or watch that TV show or […]


Seeking the Approval of Men

By guest contributor Venkatesh Gopalakrishnan. Venkatesh is a church planting pastor in Bangalore, India with the Reformed Presbyterian Church.

____

“Do not wait for any man to approve your ministry!” thundered a young preacher from the pulpit of a church in Bangalore. He went on to declare, alluding to Galatians 1:10, “If you seek the approval of any man, you cannot please God!” The young preacher wanted his hearers to stop giving excuses and enter the ministries to which God was calling them. Sitting in the pew, I could not but help thinking that what I just heard was so contrary to what I had been taught. Concluding that the preacher’s view was rather idiosyncratic, I ignored the his advice and tried to meditate on the more edifying aspects of the sermon.

However, just a few days after this incident I heard another friend make a very similar remark, albeit in a slightly different context. This friend was arguing with me that a pastor ought not to receive salary from any church since this practice leads him to seek the approval of men. Once again, the principle was that in ministry, a pastor must preserve his independence at all […]


Sweetness of Prayer in the Bitterness of Life

The Christian life is filled with many sorrows–many trials and disappointments. In the midst of those problems, persecutions, disappointments, and discouragements–do not lose hope. Persevere in prayer. Seek sweetness in prayer. When prayers seem to go unanswered, continue to pray by faith that Christ would see you through the trial at hand, because he will! The bitterness is for a season for the believer; and the sweetness is for an eternity.

Calvin, speaking of “unanswered” prayers said:

God, even when he does not comply with our wishes, is still attentive and kindly to our prayers, so that hope relying upon his word will never disappoint us. But believers need to be sustained by this patience, since they would not long stand unless they relied upon it. For the Lord proves his people by no light trials…but often drives them to extremity, and allows them, so driven, to lie a long time in the mire before he gives them any taste of his sweetness… What could they do here but be discouraged and rush into despair if they were not, when afflicted, desolate, and already half-dead, revived by the thought that God has regard for them and will bring an end to their […]


Looking for Mentors

“What advice would you give to someone who is looking for older godly mentors but has none at home and few at college, if any?”

[This excellent question is another from our college retreat’s Stump the Pastors session.]

This question simultaneously excites and discourages me. Anytime a young Christian desires a spiritual mentor, something good is happening. That desire signals a humble willingness to learn, a realization of the need for growth in Christ, and an acceptance of God’s provision of such growth in the form of mentors. However, the question should also alert us that someone is having a hard time finding such a mentor–that despite the clear instructions in God’s Word, many in the church aren’t making themselves available for those younger in the faith. 


Introducing “Theology in View.” A New Video Blog By Yours Truly

So here we go.

I’m beginning a new project, one that involves much scribbling and theology.  Yes.  That’s right.  A video blog designed to communicate theology in a short, fresh, generally tasty, and slightly humorous fashion.

I have many topics I would like to cover, but as you can imagine, the process of coordinating voice to drawings is, well, not terribly easy.  So I hope to kick these out a couple times a month.  But no promises.  Some will be more theologically advanced (like the one here).  And some will be more elementary.  I will probably call them “Theology for Noobs.”

Naturally, I would covet any help you might toss my way, such as sharing the video on Facebook (or subscribing on YouTube).  To the degree that people find these enjoyable and helpful, to that same degree I will feel compelled to draw little Reformed stick men!