There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

Archive for September, 2005

dig deep…with help

The benefit of the sacraments is tied in no small way to the self-examination that accompanies their partaking and/or witnessing. Sharing in the bread and (wine) necessitates an inner review; the sign of baptism is meant to cause us to reconsider our own baptisms anew. So it’s worth entering into the work of self-examination with a little more structure perhaps. Introspection can easily run aground into either a very superficial consideration of self or a far too belabored, encumbering, paralyzing exercise. Jonathan Edwards preached an entire sermon on what is the nature, purpose, and manner of self-examination taking the Psalmist’s request of God to “search me, O, God” (PS 139) as his starting point. It’s not short and sweet but it is rich.

What has to circumscribe our exercise of self-examination is an abiding belief that is the Spirit of God who accompanies you. The Spirit does not take lightly our sin or our unwitting cherishing of it; that’s why we have to be patient in the process and willing to face things that may deeply sober us (sorta like Scrooge being led about by the various ghosts to see difficult things). But we also have to remember the Spirit doesn’t take us by the hand through this process and then simply cut us loose to go figure out the remedy ourselves. He is like the physician whose job it is not only to diagnose pathologies but also prescribe treatments.

It is never a waste of time to ask yourself why you do what you do. Self-examination brings that more sharply into focus. And in those moments where no explanation can be found as to what prompts those responses–those self-aggrandizing or cold-hearted habits–but the nature we have inherited from Adam (for which we remain responsible), we lay ourselves upon the Spirit’s surgical table, as it were, and ask for Him to excise what we cannot (and often would not) do.

I commend to you Edward’s treatise on looking inward. It’s worth printing out and keeping in a safe place that you might refer back to it regularly.

Boromir on Toddlers

Boromir says something so very relevant about the nurture of a two and a half year old. Shamus gives us great joy, but his antics of late…well, they don’t call the terrible twos for nothing.

making the most of your 11 o’clock hour

We explored the nature of the Word and the nature of receiving its wisdom yesterday. One source I found helpful in getting my mind and heart around the subject was none other than the reknowned preacher of the 18th century, George Whitefield. Even the philandering deist, Benjamin Frankin, wept contritely at his open-air sermons that would draw thousands. He lines out here in this treatise how best to listen to sermons. If you consider how much time you’ve spent sitting in various settings hearing innumerable messages, and then you wonder how much good all that listening has really done (or not done)…it might be in your best interests to reconsider your modus operandi for receiving the Word. Bon Appetit.

every drop in the bucket helps

Thanks to all of you who helped us organize a little supply-drive Sunday morning. David, Sam, Nick, Kirk, and myself headed for the Convention Center/Reunion Arena but were turned away, having been informed they were “maxed out” with supplies. A couple phone calls later we were on our way to the Residence Inn off LBJ and Hillcrest where there was a sizable effort going on to collect whatever displaced people might need. The representative for Residence explained, almost in tears, that a garage sale that a few women had conceived of had burgeoned into a massive, city-wide supply-drive. By the time we’d arrived, they’d already filled nearly 15 of those 18-wheeler trailers and had dispatched them to a number of places in Louisiana and elsewhere.

If you weren’t at PCPC Sunday, our church has birthed a bold plan asking PCPC families (which includes YOU, even if you’re single! partner with 2 or 3 other folks!) to contribute both financially and in some persistent and tangible ways to help victims of the storm establish a new life. Have a look. Dick Steele just stopped by my office to let me know Interfaith Housing has already screened and assigned PCPC 190 familes for us to “adopt!” PCPC’s strategy of having four (4) family units rally around, pray for, and brainstorm a plan of action will begin within 2 days. So sign up at the desginated page. We need A BUNCH more “family units” to help provide for all the familes we’ve promised to adopt. This will be a messy work that will likely not follow your schedule or your expectations, but if this ain’t Gospel work, I don’t know what is.

Also, the PCA has begun to outline how churches in our denomination can serve the affected areas. I’ve signed 20+ up as a prospective work team. As they become more aware of what’s needed and can organize a scheduled plan of bringing in volunteer work teams (if everyone were to flock there right now, it would create more problems than solve them), we will very likely send a team down. Stay tuned. If you don’t live alone ( and would be willing to house a displaced person–either from our denomination or outside it– sign up at the PCA’s relief registration page.

Right now, this all seems exciting. In time, the lustre of “helping” will wear off. Then our convictions will be tested. Prepare. What Skip said Sunday about the essence of Paul’s prayers has eminent application for us in this work. We will need spiritual insight to know how best to serve; and we will need spiritual strength to continue in this work when it gets hard, frustrating, or not as immediately fruitful as you had hoped. The part about Paul’s prayer pertaining to ‘patience and endurance’–it’s as if Paul knew precisely what we would need in order to ‘bear fruit for God, please God, and walk in a manner worthy of God.’ Pray. Buckle Down.