Archive for January, 2007

Rachel’s Homemaking Hint #1

January 29, 2007

Woman cooking

Making Rice in the Oven?

I know those of you who cook are thinking to yourselves, “Is she crazy?” and those of you who don’t cook are thinking, “What’s the big deal?”.

Well, I have issues with cooking rice on the stove and it inevitably boiling over and making a HUGE mess which then bakes onto the stove while the rice finishes cooking. So the chef at work shared with me his secret for making rice.

You put the normal 2:1 ratio of water to rice in an oven-safe dish (both metal and glass work). Then add about a tablespoon of oil and some salt & pepper, or whatever seasonings you want. Then you cover the whole pan tightly with foil and let bake at 350 for about 1/2 an hour. You can tell when its done by shaking the pan- if it still sloshes around, its not done.

I used this method last night to make rice, and it turned out excellent, much more fluffy and flavorful than rice cooked on the stove. Bret loved it, and I liked avoiding the mess!

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Genuine Christianity

January 29, 2007

My wife is currently reading A God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards, a collection of essays edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. As I was doing some homework yesterday, Rachel came in to share with me something she had read. What she read to me was from J. I. Packer’s essay, “The Glory of God and the Reviving of Religion: A Study in the Mind of Jonathan Edwards.” As she read a portion of the article to me, I was blown away by Edwards’ assessment of the Christian life. Thus, I shall now share with you the quote Rachel read to me from Packer concerning Edwards’ view of religion. 

“What Edwards, standing in the Reformational mainstream, meant by religion is very clear. It is the life of regeneration, repentance, and assured faith and hope in Christ, based on knowing oneself to be a justified and adopted child of God whom the triune Lord has loved from eternity, whom the Son has redeemed by dying on the cross, and whom the Holy Spirit, the divine change agent, now indwells. It is the life of loving both the written Word of the Lord and the living Lord of the Word. It is a life of rigorous self-watch and self-discipline, for the deforming, distracting, desensitizing, demonic power of sin in one’s spiritual system must be detected and resisted. It is a life of reckoning with our temperamental limitations, whatever mixture of sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic we find we are, and seeking to transcend those shortcomings. It is a life of prayer–praise and petition; complaint and confession; meditation and celebration. And with that it is a quest for full Christlikeness of character and action, inasmuch as Christ ‘exhibited to the world such an illustrious pattern of humility, divine love, discreet zeal, self-denial, obedience, patience, resignation, fortitude, meekness, forgiveness, compassion, benevolence, and universal holiness, as neither men nor angels ever saw before.’ Finally, religion honors God by goodwill and integrity in all relationships and by enterprise in seizing such opportunities for “good works” of benevolence and help as present themselves” (96).

May this quotation not be something that causes us to idolize Jonathan Edwards for the life he sought to live, but something that encourages us to go hard after God by loving Jesus Christ with all of our might and hating our sin that hinders us from doing so. 

The Father’s Relationship to the Son in His Messianic Mission III

January 26, 2007

The Glorification of the Father in the Son

In John 17:1-5, Jesus prays, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son, in order that the Son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all flesh, in order that to all whom you have given him, he may give eternal life. Now, this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on the earth by finishing the work which you have given me to do. Now, Father, glorify me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was.”

This prayer absolutely blows me away. In it, we find that the Son’s glorification of the Father is rooted in the Father’s glorification of the Son, and because of this glorious Trinitarian activity, sinners will be given eternal life. 

From verse 1, it is obvious that Jesus’ cross-death, resurrection, and ascension is just ahead. He affirms that ‘his hour’ has come. In John’s Gospel, ‘his hour’ refers not only to the horrible death he is to suffer at calvary, but also to his being raised from the dead and going to be with the Father (2:4; 4:23; 5:25; 7:30; 8:20; esp. 12:23; 13:1). In a sense, Jesus’ hour is a package deal: crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension/glorification. Indeed, Jesus knows this, and prays accordingly, “Father, glorify your Son, in order that the Son may glorify you.”

Here, I was absolutely astounded by the purpose clause. Jesus desires the Father to display the glory of the Son (i.e. himself), for the purpose of the Son glorifying the Father. In other words, the glory of the Father is particularly displayed in the Son when the Son is glorified. What is more, this glory of the Father and the Son is primarily displayed in Jesus’ bloody cross, triumphant resurrection, and glorious ascension. The glory of God’s wrath, his judgement, his righteousness, his holiness, his grace, his mercy, his kindness, his covenant faithfulness and more are all displayed at the cross. The glory of God’s power, his faithfulness, his trustworthiness, his authority, his victory, his salvific purposes and more are all displayed at the resurrection. The glory of God’s might, his sovereignty, his splendor, his strength, his magnificence, and more are all displayed in Jesus’ ascension. That the Son endured his hour–both in suffering the cross and rising from the dead–to display the glory of the Father, absolutely took my breath away.

Moreover, in verse 2, Jesus then compares this glorification of the Son and the Father with his own authority to give salvation to those the Father gave him. The comparison reveals that redemption is directly tied to the Father’s glorification of the Son.

The authority Jesus has “over all flesh” is one given to him by the Father in ‘eternity past’–an authority that is based on his future obedience unto death, and his coming resurrection and ascension to glory. Why such authority was given to the Son becomes clear in the next purpose clause: “in order that to all whom [the Father] has given him, he may give eternal life.” The Father gives the Son authority over all flesh in order that eternal life may be granted to those he has given the Son. Doubtless, Jesus’ prayer is in accord with the Father fulfilling his redemptive purposes in election. That is, what was accomplished in Jesus’ ‘hour’ extends to those the Father has given the Son. This is how God has loved such a dark world (cf. 3:15-16).

What does this mean for us? First, this gives us hope that others in this rebellious world will be saved. The Son will not lose a single person the Father has given to him, and the Father will not ignore the prayers of the Son. Sinners will be brought to faith. This should encourage us to participate in his saving purposes through prayer, missions, and evangelism.

Second, it teaches us that even horrible events, such as the slaughter of the Son of God, are planned by the Father and used to display his glory. Not only did Jesus being put to death not make sense to the disciples, it was a murderous act committed against a perfect human being. From a human perspective, the crucifixion was a bad event. However, agonizing as it may have been for Jesus, he knew it was the will of his infinitely wise Father. Even more, he prays that the Father be glorified in it. Thus, the cross teaches us how to handle suffering and evil. Recently, my wife experienced a miscarriage after twelve weeks of pregnancy. Though Rachel and I were crushed by this loss, the Lord gave us the grace to trust in his sovereign hand. On the way to the emergency room, the Lord continued to remind me that he is my Father, he is wise in all that he does, and he will bring glory to his name, even through the miscarriage. We will suffer difficult circumstances in this world, yet Jesus’ prayer has taught me to trust in the Father’s redemptive purposes, for they will stand.

Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing

January 22, 2007

Many, if not all, of you know that the Lord has taken Bret and I through a hard and painful week. Even from the beginning of this journey, our Father has provided us with much comfort from His Word and His church, and I wanted to share these things in the hope that you too will be encouraged by His grace to us.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the GOD OF ALL COMFORT, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

In the past week, we received four emails reminding us from this verse that our God is the God of all comfort. This verse also reveals that this comfort that the Lord is giving to us is not for us alone, but also so that we maybe able to comfort others who are hurting. In caring for Bret and I, the Father is also caring for other parts of His church.

For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

I have loved this verse  for a long time, and a member of our care group reminded us of it this week. The first part that has been encouraging to me is that Paul considered his extreme suffering to be slight and momentary!  If the Lord gave him grace to consider his imprisonment and persecution slight and momentary, surely that same Lord (who is with me) can enable to see and understand that this is not overwhelming, and not forever. Even better, this affliction is preparing “an eternal weight of glory”! What a good reason for me to seek to walk with the Lord in and through this, and to respond in a way that brings Him honor. Also, I am encouraged from this verse to fix my eyes on that which is unseen, my heavenly Father, for He is eternal and His good, wise purposes stand forever.

…as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…(2 Corinthians 6:10a)

This very simply gives me the freedom to be sad. I am so thankful that Jesus wept, and the apostle Paul was sorrowful. I do not have to question whether sorrow is acceptable or not, because I am told in the Bible that it is okay. And, even in my sadness, I am reminded to rejoice in my Lord, and shown by Paul that it is entirely possible to have joy and sorrow. And, it seems that I have experienced that this week:  sadness, yet with confidence that God is still sovereign and still good, which brings me joy.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence… (2 Peter 1:3; the NIV says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness…”)

In all my questions in trying to understand why, how, and for what, the Lord has used this verse to remind me that He has given me EVERYTHING I need for life and godliness. This statement must mean that if my Father has chosen not to give me something, or some information, I do not need it. I may think that I need it (I may even very deeply feel that I need it), but I do not! In His infinite wisdom and grace, my Creator knows my needs much better than I do. And He has given me ALL THINGS pertaining to life and godliness.

As you can see, the Sovereign Lord has really made this ‘valley a place of vision’ for me, and I am so thankful for His comfort, grace, and peace towards us. And I am blessed that He has provided this comfort and encouragement through Scripture. May He continue to grant us grace to be changed by His Word, so that we may interpret life through the truth and bring Him glory.

~Rachel

The Father’s Relationship to the Son in His Messianic Mission II

January 20, 2007

The Son’s Obedience to the Father in His Mission

According to John’s Gospel, the Father sent the Son to earth with a mission; namely, to accomplish all the works he himself gave him to do. As the Son of God, Jesus’ delight and duty is to obey the Father (8:28-29), submit to him in all things (5:19), and speak whatever he is commanded (12:49). Moreover, Jesus is wholly committed to the will of his heavenly Father, even to the point of death on a cross (10:18; 12:27-28). In fact, it is his complete obedience to the Father that reveals the cross is exactly why the Father sent him (13:1-3; 17:4; 18:11; 19:11). He died not as a victim, but as a Son accomplishing his Father’s will. And, just as the Father gave him the authority to lay down his life, by the same authority he took his life up again (10:18; 20:1-31). Through accomplishing these things, the Son shines forth light into a dark world (1:9; 3:19-21), grants believing sinners eternal life (3:16), and brings glory to his Father (12:28; 17:1).  

What does this mean for us? First, it means that the only wise God of this universe, took it upon himself to save a dark wicked world through commissioning his own glorious Son to die on a cross; and the Son obeyed him perfectly. This leads me to worship the Father for planning salvation history, the Son for embracing his Father’s will, and the Spirit for applying the Son’s work to sinners like me.

Second, it means that true righteousness and perfect obedience have been infallibly displayed in the life, ministry, and works of Jesus Christ. Therefore, in looking to him, it is always obvious that my life is in need of change. I must get away from comparing myself to other people, and always be reflecting on the greatness of Jesus and his devotion to pleasing his Father. In the wake of Christ’s cross, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, I too must always be about submitting to the will of my heavenly Father.

Third, and more applicable to what these reflections are meant to accomplish, it means the divine Son of God can never, and will never, fail in doing the will of his Father. Therefore, what can stand in his way? The answer is, nothing. Nothing stands in the way of the Son accomplishing the Father’s will. And Jesus tells us, “This is the will of him who sent me, that of all that [the Father] has given me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I myself will raise him up on the last day” (6:39-40). So then, nothing is going to stop the Son from giving eternal life to those who believe, and nothing is going to stop him from raising them from the dead. I do not find this hope from the world, nor any other assurance. I find it only in the Son, who always obeys the Father in his mission to save sinners.

The Father’s Relationship to the Son in His Messianic Mission I

January 20, 2007

The Revelation of the Father in Sending the Son 

One essential aspect of John’s theology–and central to the Son’s mission–is that the Father reveals himself in his own Son, the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Jesus is the Word, who was eternally with God, and indeed was God (1:1-3; 17:5). He is the unique one who has descended from above to bring the revelation of the glory of God to man (1:14-18; 3:13; 6:46). No longer is the glory of God vaguely observed in the tabernacle, but clearly revealed in human flesh, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth (1:14). He knows the Father perfectly (7:29), and the Father tells him everything to say (8:26,28). The Father who sent him has given him a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. Since the Son knows his commandment is eternal life, he speaks; just as the Father tells him (12:49-50). Moreover, “The Father loves the Son, and shows him everything that he himself is doing” (5:20), and “whatever the Father does, these things the Son does in like manner” (5:19). Plainly, therefore, John teaches us that Jesus’ primary role as the incarnate Son of God is to reveal the Father.

What does this mean for us? It means that whether one observes Jesus’ actions, or reads his words, in each case he/she is observing the revelation of God. Objective reality is not a secret; it is disclosed in the person of Jesus Christ. In the unique Son, we observe the desires, character, and works of God himself. God, manifested in the flesh, is absolutely stunning! What a Rock upon which I can stand. There is no need to wander aimlessly in a world of chaos. Rather, I lay hold of the almighty who has spoken most clearly in His own Son–the Eternal Word, revealed in the written word (John 1:1-18; cf. Heb 1:1-3).

In this, Jesus says I have eternal life. Before he laid down his life on the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son, in order that the Son may glorify You, just as you gave him authority over all flesh, in order that to all whom you have given him, he may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:1-3). Know the Son, and so, know the Father who sent him. According to John’s Gospel, the revelation of the Father in sending the Son means hope–of eternal life; of salvation; of having fellowship with the only true God. This comes to those who believe.

The Father’s Relationship to the Son in His Messianic Mission

January 19, 2007

Malicious behavior, hate crimes, Islamic jihad, intense famine, false teaching, cancer, earthquakes, personal loss and more paint a grim picture of a world that seems like sinking sand; a place where one rarely finds any solid footing. I have learned, however, the Gospel according to John presents a different picture. God the Father has sent his own Son into that depraved world on a mission to save it and restore it, a mission that cannot fail. By observing the relationship within the Godhead in the mission of the Son, I quickly found a rock upon which to contruct a house that no storm will destroy.

I pray that the following posts from my reflections in John’s Gospel will bring great ecouragement to you by pointing you to the Father’s relationship to the Son in his messianic mission to save sinners.

Exultation in Jesus Christ’s Exaltation

January 5, 2007

For quite some time now, my wife has suggested that it would be a good idea to set up a blog so that family and friends might not only observe what is happening in our lives, but also glean from all that Jesus Christ is doing in and through our lives. Indeed, her idea was great (as they usually are); however, I stood at a dilemma. Though blogging seemed like a great idea, I feared one thing:  my own prideful tendencies taking over what I would post on a blog so that it became more of a means of ‘puffing up’ rather than ‘building up.’ So, I refused to begin blogging when she first suggested it to me. However, by the Lord’s grace and the prayers of my wife, the Lord continued to show me that this could be the very place I display His glory in sanctification in my life. A blog would be the means of getting the word out that Jesus is magnificant and Bret is not. Hence the title of this post, “Exultation in Jesus Christ’s Exaltation.”

Over the past few weeks I have been saturating myself in the Gospel of John. Two weeks ago it landed on me that John the Baptist’s joy was rooted in his desire to see the Son of God exalted. The Baptist exulted in the fact that he would be decreasing and that Jesus would be increasing. He told his disciples, “You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:28-30). What a world-view this man had!

Without a doubt John the Baptist knows the Lord’s will:  to use him to preach the coming of Messiah Jesus and His kingdom until Jesus’ arriving for His public ministry and road to the cross, and then get out of the way. He does not begrudgingly step aside so that Jesus will increase; instead, as the best man, he rejoices to see the bridegroom arriving for His mission to redeem His bride. It was determined by God that the Baptist would decrease (noted by must), and he was glad. The Lord’s will to increase Jesus and decrease John was his delight. He found joy in submitting to the Father’s will to make Jesus supreme. Indeed, in this “his joy was made full” (3:29).

So, it is my prayer and Rachel’s prayer that this blog be one which is dedicated to exulting in the exaltation of Jesus Christ. Like John the Baptist, we hope to find our joy in the Father’s plan to make Christ supreme.