Two main thoughts remain with me after reading this chapter. I will tie them to a couple of quotes.

“Such is the way in which expression is often given to the modern hostility to ‘doctrine.’ But is it really doctrine as such that is objected to, and not rather one particular doctrine in the interests of another? Undoubtedly, in many forms of liberalism it is the latter alternative which fits the case. There are doctrines of modern liberalism, just as tenaciously and intolerantly upheld as any doctrines that find a place in the historic creeds.”

To shun doctrine altogether is not an option. Everyone lives their life on the basis of some system of thought. The crucial question is whether or not that worldview has any legitimacy or factual basis. The question is not, “Doctrine or no doctrine?” It must be, “Good doctrine or bad doctrine.”

Good doctrine will have a basis in fact, and Machen spends much of the chapter demonstrating how the religion of early Christianity (and even of Christ!) was clearly tied to fact and history.

“But if any one fact is clear, on the basis of this evidence, it is that the Christian movement at its inception was not just a way of life in the modern sense, but a way of life founded upon a message. It was based, not upon mere feeling, not upon a mere program of work, but upon an account of facts. In other words it was based upon doctrine.”

These words and thoughts are just as true today as when Machen wrote them!

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I like sports.

So when I heard about a book by C.J. Mahaney that was all about sports, I ordered it immediately.

Mahaney writes, “Sports are a gift from God. But as soon as you introduce the human heart, things get complicated.” In this short book (I read it in about half an hour), he explains how Christians should enjoy sports while avoiding the idolatry that can be an inherent temptation. He explains what it means to play for the glory of God and offers several practical tips on how to be a grateful, humble servant athlete.

I would have like to see him write more about competitiveness and how this characteristic is not necessarily a vice. We can glorify God when we strive for competitive excellence. Trying hard to win is not a bad thing. Then again, you can’t hope that C.J. will address everything having to do with sports in a 50-page pamphlet.

All in all, Don’t Waste Your Sports would be a helpful read for any athlete, coach, parent of an athlete, or fan.

I Don’t Have Time to Read

December 31, 2008

Once again, it’s that time of year when people frantically bust out a pencil, a sheet of paper, and a list of resolutions for the new year. One rather common resolution is quite simple: read more. I know this has been a goal of mine in the past. However, this lofty aspiration eventually becomes a victim of this daunting creed:

I don’t have time to read.

Enter this article a couple of days ago. On New Year’s Eve three years ago, Karl Rove decided it was time to read more. (His original goal was a book a week.) He told this to the President, who joined in the resolution and effectively turned it into a contest between the two. The totals for 2006? Rove: 110; Bush: 95. They repeated the contest over the last two years, and Bush read 51 and 40 books. For those of you keeping score, he has read an average of 60 books a year over the last three years. Not too shabby for the leader of the free world.

I like to think of myself as a busy guy, but I cannot bring myself to say that I am busier than the President of the United States. I feel as if my “I don’t have time to read” mantra has been incontravertibly refuted.

So as my white flag of surrender, I am going to resolve to read more in 2009. A book a week seems a bit ambitious, unrealistic, and probably a set-up for failure. So I think I’m going to start out with a goal of reading 20 books in 2009. (Baby steps, right?)

Who’s with me?

Happy New Year, everyone!

During my junior year at Believers Academy, I started meeting my Bible teacher, Tyler Sultze, once a week at Taco Cabana for breakfast. While the food was scrumptious, the fellowship was also delectable. The first book we went through and discussed over breakfast tacos was Be Satisfied by Warren Wiersbe. Next, we decided to tackle Desiring God. It was then that I was introduced to the writings of John Piper, for which I frequently thank God.

Why do I thank God for the ministry of John Piper? Let me put it this way: I often tell people that if you would have asked me at the beginning of high school why I was a Christian, I would have said something like, “I’m a Christian because that’s what I’m supposed to be.” But if you asked me the same question at graduation, I would have said, “I’m a Christian because that’s what I desparately want to be.” Piper’s writings were instrumental in this change or perspective.

Piper helped me see God as desirable. The gospel is great because it reconciles us to him. Sin is worth fighting because the pleasures of sin are utterly incomparable to the superior pleasures of God. Giving your life to Christ is worth it because by losing your life, you find it.

And it is not as if he was making this stuff up. He was simply pointing out how obvious this concept is in the Scriptures. The Psalms overflow with language that delights in God. Even the “hard” teachings of Jesus reveal the superiority of living for Christ. Whoever has left houses or lands or family will receive a hundredfold and eternal life. The man who finds a treasure in a field does not sell all that he has out of obligation, but with joy over the treasure he has found.

These concepts are crucial for Christians to understand. The Christian life is not one merely of obligation, but of joy. As my dad likes to say, “It’s not a ‘got-to’, it’s a ‘get-to.” And yes, the Christian life is hard–Scripture makes that clear. But denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Christ is worth it because nothing compares to knowing him.

This Christmas Break, I have started reading Piper’s Future Grace, and I have been greatly refreshed and energized by it. This post was primarily the result of one quote I read last night:

Christian hedonism [or pursuing ultimate satisfaction in Christ] is the final solution. It is deeper than death to self. You have to go down deeper into the grave of the flesh to find the truly freeing stream of miracle water that ravishes you with the taste of God’s glory. Only in that speechless, all-satisfying admiration is the end of self.

I thank God for John Piper because of quotes like this and books and sermons that teach that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

A Reading Revolution

February 25, 2007

I distinctly remember one year in elementary school when the Student Council organized a wonderful thing called “DEAR” week. At some random point throughout the school day, all the students had to Drop Everything And Read for ten minutes. I liked that week.

When teachers are passionate about something, a little bit of that fervor usually rubs off on the students. Randy Cook, one of the professors here at IBEX, loves reading. He constantly refers to different books he has read or is reading, and I must admit that all this talk of books is a bit inspiring.

Yesterday, I was reminded of a post a friend of mine put up a while back that quoted some thoughts Piper had written about reading. Specifically, it talked about how many books you could read if you simply committed 20 minutes a day to the task.

In light of all this, a few friends and I are decided to bring back DEAR week permanently. For at least ten minutes a day, we are going to set aside all the school books and read something else. The only book I brought to Israel besides schoolbooks and the Bible was Iain H. Murray’s Jonathan Edwards biography. Up until a few days ago, it sat upon my shelf collecting Israeli dust, but now I’m charging my way through the book at a pace of ten minutes a day.

So if you think you don’t have time to read, turn off to TV, log off Facebook, go to bed ten minutes later and Drop Everything And Read.

RESOLVED AUDIO

All of the sermons from last weekend’s Resolved Conference is available online for free. Go, download, listen.