September 2010

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Sep

02

2010

George Whitefield in High Gear

Arnold Dallimore, George Whitfield: God's Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century, (Wheaton: Crossway, 1990)

George Whitefield's life was absolutely amazing.  He is a man remarkably used by God in the 18th century. He's the kind of guy that makes your jaw drop. 

From his early twenties to his death at age 55, he preached 30,000 sermons! That's an average of 20 sermons a week for his entire adult life! There were times when he would be speaking 40-60 hours a week--that's speaking time, not including any personal study or travel time. 

We must also remember the sizes of the crowds he would speak to. Benjamin Franklin estimated he could be heard audibly by a crowd of 30,000 people. He is reported to have spoken to crowds of at least that much, crowds filling 3 acres. 

Here was a man of unique eloquence in speaking, unique passion and zeal for the Lord, unique energy for sacrificial, and unique effectiveness in preaching. God used him for the revival of religion not only in England but also in America. Read this book to get excited about what God did during that time, and excited about what God might do again at any time he may so please!

This is a wonderful biography of this man's life. The author (Dallimore) has also written a two-volume biography of Whitefield, each volume running about 600 pages! He has condensed this full work into this short 200-page abridged version. It is the life of Whitefield in high gear indeed! It is fast paced, and keeps you on the edge of your seat from the get-go. 

Read this for a great introduction to the life of George Whitefield. Though, I must admit, after reading this, I definitely want to get into the more in-depth two volume work!

Review of Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield: God's Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century, (Wheaton: Crossway, 1990).

Sep

05

2010

Writing vs. Typing

Why is it that thoughts flow so much more readily from a pen than from a keyboard?

Sep

09

2010

Keeping the Men in Mentoring - Desiring God

"Keep the Men in Mentoring", desiringgod.org

Wow. Good stuff.

My friend Dave was meeting with a consultant who asked him this question: "Dave, why do I have a bigger dream for your church and your city than you do?" I don't know about you, but I don't want anyone to have a bigger dream for my church and my city than me. And I don't want to build a museum. I want to be a part of a movement.

Sep

09

2010

Politics - According to the Bible, Wayne Grudem

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Interesting-looking new book from Grudem on Politics. You can also see its Table of Contents and introduction for more about it. Definitely could use some refinement and clear biblical argument on this topic!

Sep

13

2010

Mendeley: Academic reference management software for researchers

"Like iTunes™ for research papers. Mendeley is a free research management tool for desktop & web."

Interesting. The word plugin is not entirely friendly though. It seems to just spit out a whole citation; I can't see any options for page numbers, etc.

It might be a good tool for storing research information at least.But even here, I think maybe OneNote might still be better...

But worth looking into! =)

Sep

14

2010

Why do you seek success?

Reading Whitefield's biography about two weeks ago as I was walking one night, a question popped into my head as clear as day: Why do you seek the success of Whitefield?

A good question to ask when reading the life of such a person so amazingly used by God and myself also desiring to be greatly used of God. Reading Whitefield's biography and the amazing amazing success he had, I often thought to myself, "O to have that kind of hearing! O to have people so moved by my preaching! O to have so many converted and transformed by my ministry!" I will not speak on behalf of others, but such thoughts came naturally to me.

I suppose this brought to the fore something that has been in my mind for some time now. There is ever a battle and a narrow line to be tread between holding on equally to a fiery passion that people be saved, and a calm trust in the power of God to save them. 

I both love and hate these thoughts and desires of success. I do seek this because it means people being saved, people growing, God being glorified! I want that! I earnestly yearn to see people saved, and it pains me and brings me such grief that it is not happening here. 

I hate these thoughts as they make me do things by my own strength, which leads to pride when things go well and depression when they don't. Wanting to simply "not be a failure" is a horribly low goal to set, and will not meet with blessing from on high! Such desires are not motivated by the glory of God at all, and a seeking of this success can often degenerate into such baser desires.

O to find what Will Metzger calls "a holy dissatisfaction with nonresults" in his Tell the Truth (p. 29)! I am trying to find a holy discontentment. I cannot stand by and neither care nor weep when people continually reject Christ. Neither can I let this drive me away from my task.

Mark Dever, in The Deliberate Church, issues a timely warning:

If you define success in terms of size, your desire for numerical growth will probably outrun your patience with the congregation, and perhaps even your fidelity to biblical methods.

Mark Dever and Paul Alexander, The Deliberate Church,
 (Wheaton: Crossway, 2005), 40.

Do not desire to be successful more than you desire to be faithful. Paul knew to pray that resolves for good would be fulfilled (2Th 1:11), and neither did he presume they would be fulfilled automatically, nor did he deny such resolves as not trusting in God. And Paul also knew to labor night and day and speak to each person house to house with tears, urging them to believe and to stand firm in the faith (Acts 20:31)! 

Why do you seek the success of Whitefield?

Do you desire wholeheartedly to glorify God? Or is part of it your desire to be successful and not a failure? Such thinking amounts--in some degree--to Phi. 1:17, preaching "not sincerely". Ouch. 

Study until you are convinced you understand the word of God accurately, while praying that God would work, and then proclaim it with all your heart in the power of the Spirit, and then pray again that God would work, and trust in the power of God through his word, all the while checking to make sure you are not adding any additional offense to the gospel. Then do it again and again and again. 

Such an attitude and method will temper depression and keep you persevering and trusting through the rough times, and--should God show mercy and bring growth--temper pride and keep you faithful during the good times. And through both times, God will be glorified both in the pulpit and the pew as the sovereign and glorious and all-sufficient Savior that he truly is. 

If I may achieve that, I shall rejoice indeed. 

Sep

20

2010

Grammatical-Historical Interpretation, Matthew 2:3, and the Rejection of Christ

How are we to interpret narrative texts? This has been a big question on my mind these days, largely raised by Sailhamer's The Meaning of the Pentateuch. What role does history play in the interpretation of the biblical text?

Is the locus of meaning in the historical reconstruction of the event, or in the written text itself? i.e. Is the "meaning" found by reconstructing the event, filling in the details, etc.? Or is the meaning found simply by understanding what the text says? 

One very intriguing thing Sailhamer says is that "Grammatical-Historical" originally meant "grammatical, namely, historical", rather than describing two parts of a process: analyze the grammar and analyze the history, our present "grammatical and historical" approach. That is very interesting indeed.

A good example of this Matthew 2:3, "When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him." The "this" that they heard was that the King of the Jews--Jesus--had been born. 

Now, it is very understandable why the ungodly power monger Herod would be troubled by this. Why, however, all of Jerusalem would be troubled with him is a little bit more perplexing. Why would they be troubled by the news of the birth of their promised King? Why be troubled when they at present had such a wicked king (Herod) and lived under the rule of the Roman Empire? Why be troubled, especially during a time in history it appears that messianic expectation was indeed at a high point?

Now, most commentaries will give an explanation something along the lines of this: All of Jerusalem feared as well because they feared what Herod would do as a result of his rage over the birth of this opposing King. Robertson is typical in commenting that "the whole city was upset because the people knew only too well what he could do when in a rage over the disturbance of his plans." (Word Pictures)

Is this what Matthew intended? Where does one see this in the text? This interpretation might be called "historical" since it involves a historical reconstruction of the person of king Herod and about his megalomania and his cruel actions, and the people's dislike of him, etc.

The conclusion of this kind of interpretation seems to be that Jerusalem was not exactly opposed to the birth of the Messiah, they were simply afraid of how Herod might react. In general though, Jerusalem was open and excited about the possible coming of the Messiah. 

But is that how Matthew presents this event? He says the king was troubled and all Jerusalem with him." The preposition "with" is meta. BDAG defines this usage as denoting "the company in which an activity or experience takes place". Jerusalem is in company with Herod in being troubled. It is difficult to see the Jerusalemites distancing themselves from Herod and being disturbed for a different reason or cause than he, in the way Matthew phrased it.

Matthew Henry, I think has a better commentary:

Yet, it seems, all Jerusalem, except the few there that waited for the consolation of Israel, were troubled with Herod, and were apprehensive of I know not what ill consequences of the birth of this new king, that it would involve them in war, or restrain their lusts; they, for their parts, desired no king but Herod; no, not the Messiah himself.

I think he rightly picks out Matthew's meaning here. Jerusalem was not excited about the coming of the Messiah. They did not rejoice at his coming. Fear at Herod's response may be involved, but it is not what Matthew highlights. 

I found this fact particularly significant in studying the introductory chapters of Luke's Gospel. In particular, in Luke 2:21-40, we see the witness of faithful Israelites Simeon and Anna, which demonstrates the continuity between the OT and Jesus. Luke intends to connect Jesus with the faithful remnant. The OT faithful received their Messiah with great joy. Christianity, therefore, is the proper heir of the OT faith and Scriptures, not Judaism. Judaism parted with God before Christ came, and demonstrated it when they rejected Christ.

I believe this truth is what is communicated (albeit in part) in Matthew 2:3. Jerusalem did not rejoice in him, but rather rejected him. The capital and religious center of the Jews was troubled at the birth of their Savior! Is not the solemn and horrible fact of John 1:11 hinted at by this verse? "He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him."

Sep

21

2010

Google Buzz + Reader + Twitter + Facebook = Noise by @ScepticGeek

"Google Buzz + Reader + Twitter + Facebook = Noise" by  skepticgeek.com

It is a difficult problem indeed. It seems pointless when many people (like me) post the same thing in every place. Yet, it is confusing when people post different things in different places.

The multiplying of competition makes me feel jaded and want to just opt out of the whole thing. But it is a helpful platform to share with and receive information from others.

I like it for finding articles and seeing pictures, or sharing ideas or funny experiences. The rest of the stream of unsubstantial information is increasingly less interesting to me.

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Matt Hauck (郝柏昇)

A once enemy now son, forgiven and freed by Jesus' blood, adopted and called by grace for glory.   (more...)