Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The humility to read

'The Disappearance of God' by Albert Mohler Jr recently came through my door from Monergism Books. Both cheaper and faster than amazon to the US mainland, but anyway. With it came a rather lovely looking pamphlet: 'A reader's guide to the Christian life' filled with ideas about what to read and why to read it. As well as that was a brief, unattributed article: 'The humility to read' which went like this:

I am one person in one place at one time. My experiences and perceptions are limited and coloured by the environment in which i live. Therefore, it would be profoundly arrogant of me to think that i can best grow in the knowledge of God through scripture by myself.

Certainly the Holy Spirit is graciously given to God's children to enable us to comprehend and be conformed to the truths of the Bible. Nevertheless, one of the primary means of grace God uses in the process of our transformation is the universal-historical community of believers. Within that community, God graciously provides leaders of few and leaders of many to equip the saints for the work of ministry.

It is a humbling thing for me to read a book. Most books take at least several hours of combined time to process and i have to forsake other distractions in order to focus and benefit from what i am reading. Most of all, i can't talk back. I am just forced to listen, patiently follow and receive, to think another mans thoughts after him.

One of the new desires placed into the heart of a believer is to think God's thoughts after Him. Let's pursue humility by receiving the thoughts of those who have led us and spoken the word of God to us in the most enduring of all earthly mediums: the book.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Love the Church

I don't know what your plans are for June 20th, but if you're anywhere near Reading, and not on your honeymoon, please cancal them and go to this instead. It'll be stellar.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Blogging every day in June: and other things i haven't done

There's two things you immediately notice when you walk into my dad's office. On one wall he must have about thirty or forty fishing rods, dating back to about his teenage years...i don't think he's ever thrown one away. On another wall there is shelf after shelf of A 4 diary books. These are his fishing diaries. One of the earliest memories i have is of my dad on a sunday night writing up his weeks fishing from his notebook to his diary. If you want to know where he was and what he caught on March 18th 1983, he'll be able to tell you without much trouble. Thats cool to me.

Inspired by this i thought i'd try to write at least something every day in the month before i got married. Since, in some ways at least, having something online is safer than having it on paper (harder to lose) it seemed like a great idea. Except then...well it didn't happen did it! But thats ok. Sometimes you've got it, sometimes you don't. But on the Sunday before i get married on Friday, two days before the arrival of as many English people to set foot in North Carolina since it was, well, English, it seemed good to at least record something. Maybe i'll be bitten by the bug this week. Maybe my list of to dos is already growing the other side of town at wedding HQ.

Am i excited? Yes. Will i be more excited when Canon in D starts and i know Rachel's making her way down the aisle behind me? Goodness me, but a million times yes. I'm getting butterflies just thinking about it. Am i stressed about everything thats got to happen between now and then? A little bit. But not really.

A couple of unconnected things. Losing to Holland in the T20 World Cup is about as irrelevant to this summer's cricket as it can get. There's one main event in 2009, The Ashes are the only thing that matter. This whole summer so far has been ridiculous. If beating the West Indies was like training for a marathon by walking the dog, this is like training for a marathon by carrying a heavy tray of drinks up a flight of stairs. There's too much cricket. If Twenty20 is the way forward then we ought to get rid of the 50 over game completely. Play more Twenty20 to fill the gap if you want, double headers, four games in five days, whatever. In Major League Baseball each of the thirty teams play 140 (!) regular season games and no one complains. The four and five day version of the game is more important, but i can't see Twenty20 going away.

I've been reading 'Sealed with an oath' the NSBT on covenant. It's real good. It starts off talking about why there was no covenant with Adam (because creation supersedes covenant, because covenant serves God's creative purpose of international blessing rather than the other way around) and then goes on to talk about the covenants with Noah, Abraham, Israel and David before two chapters on the New Covenant. It's really helping me to read the Bible as one book, and anything that does that is worth the admission...

Monday, June 01, 2009

It's summer

My Facebook newsfeed is clogged with pictures of the Jazz Club in Reading. Sweaty undergrads and Graduands with mouths open and fingers pointing. It's not a pretty sight, but it makes me happy. But it does mean one serious thing. Summer is here. Summer, rolling meadows, endless days filled with idle distractions, getting a summer job, getting a real job, finding your tent for Forum. Summer is a wonderful time. There is nowhere better than the Chiltern Hills in June and July. I can't wait to show my wife.

Summer is dangerous though, and so without much apology, and only some editing, here's something i wrote just over two years ago... don't waste your summer, use it for Jesus:

John Piper writes this about summer:

Don’t let summer make your soul shrivel. God made summer as a foretaste of heaven, not a substitute. If the mailman brings you a love letter from your fiancĂ©, don’t fall in love with the mailman. That’s what summer is: God’s messenger with a sun-soaked, tree-green, flower-blooming, lake-glistening letter of love to show us what he is planning for us in the age to come—“things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Don’t fall in love with the video preview, and find yourself unable to love the coming reality.

What can we do this summer to set our minds, and keep our minds on the things above?

Keep reading the Bible.
I know this sounds like an obvious point, but once there is little work to be done, there is little routine to be kept to...and i need routine to keep me reading the Bible. last year my Graduand period (the bit in between finishing your finals and getting to wear a mortarboard) passed in a haze of barbeques, football and bucky 'o hare. And none of that is bad in itself, we need refreshing after working hard, but to seek refreshment away from the Bible, away from Christ is only to turn your back on what will refresh you. Sit in the sun, read slowly, read lots, read Galatians over and over again. Enjoy the birdsong, enjoy the Word.

Read good books.
I don't think i'm ever going to have as much time on my hands as i did last summer. What a great opportunity to read and read well. Reading Christian books must never become a substitute for reading the Bible, and it must never start to become a dry intellectual fact collecting exercise. But good books can make you long for more of Christ in your life, drive you back to the Bible to bathe in things you hadn't noticed before. Good books can strengthen your faith and your love for the Lord. Take time to read them and think about them and apply them.

Make the most of time with your friends.
especially if you're graduating, and all being flung across the four corners of the country. Spend time with people, enjoy time with people, sit in a beer garden, lie on the grass outside mojos. enjoy the fellowship of your Christian mates, but seek out and don't waste time with your non Christian mates. Use this time to explode for Christ in your house or hall. Use this time to be braver than you've been before. Use this time to live with your non Christian friends to demonstrate that Christ is the greatest, best and most fulfilling reality there is. Pray for them lots.

Prepare for whats next.
Leaving uni is really hard. Going back home for a long time is really hard. Starting a job, even one that you love is really hard. So get ready for it. Pray into it. Think about how you're going to work for Christ next year, or study even better for Christ next year, and delight in Christ with your family. Don't waste time wishing you were back at uni, enjoy the time you've got the prepare for what's happening next...doing the other things in this list should help a bit.

It's terribly easy to waste summer. When the sun comes out i really struggle to remember the eternal battle we're all in, to keep my eyes focused on Heaven and not on the earthly pleasures summer brings us. Use free time wisely for Christ...don't waste your summer.