reflections

Oct

04

2014

Life, Birth, Jared

Jared

Today, Sanny and I had the pleasure of welcoming our son, Jared Isaiah Hauck, into the world. We are so excited to bring home another little Hauck to join our family. This brings the grand total to four children at home that we have the privilege of parenting.

We rejoice and are so thankful for the opportunity to love this new person that God has brought into the world. He doesn't belong to me, or to us, but is a person belonging to God, made in the image of God, who has been granted to us by God for our temporary stewardship and instruction and protection.  He is totally helpless, does not know anything about this world, needs someone to protect him and feed him and care for him and teach him.  What an awesome task!  Today was such a wonderful day.

Birth

And yet, it was also a difficult day.

Before the joy comes...difficulty, mostly for my wife. This is now the fifth full pregnancy and fifth time she has given birth. I can tell you that it has not gotten any easier to stand by her side five times and watch her undergo such pain with no ability to do anything to help her but to hold her hand. It is a traumatic event. And I'm just an observer. 

I love my wife so much and am left speechless by her service and sacrifice for our children in the very act of bringing them into this world, not to mention the days and weeks and years of service of her pouring her life into loving and teaching and serving our children. She is awesome.

(aside: People who despise such work as inferior to a "professional career" are crazy. If you don't have the heart to invest in your children, do you think your nanny will? If both you and your nanny don't, then who will?)

Life

And yet, not all have this privilege. After we were taken to the portpartum room today, I looked out the window to enjoy the scenery from the new Oakland Kaiser facility, and saw a building across the street: Albert Brown Mortuary. Talk about contrast.

Not every expecting couple visiting the hospital today walked away with a happy healthy baby. In fact, we were in that very position just three years ago with Evelyn. We found ourselves in need of those services, rather than instructions on how to feed and clothe, etc. It is hard to get nearer to the reality of the sheer fallenness of the world we live in then when dealing with the death of young children. Life was not supposed to be this way. We as humankind have messed things up royally, and the effect is ever before us.

Reflections

There are many worthy reflections here.

Death is horrible. It is not natural and not normal. It is the result of sin. I weep with those who have lost children either in labor or otherwise. Death in general is the penalty of rebellion in general against God. Every time we face it, we are reminded that we will one day face our Maker. 

Labor is horrible. Genesis 3 says pain in childbirth is a direct result of the fall of mankind into sin. 

Parenting is a privilege, not a right. So we cannot demand life from our Maker. 

Parenting is a privilege, not a burden. So we do not neglect it or grumble over its inconveniences (which admittedly are many...)

Travail is often the pathway to joy.  Christ suffered on the cross for the joy set before him of saving his people and bringing glory to God. God leads us through dark valleys only because they lead to the greener pastures of greater love for him and greater appreciation of his mercy. Do not avoid making difficult decisions because you like your life as it is, in particular when you know it is something God has called you to do. 

Christ is our Redeemer! He saves us from the penalty of sin by having paid our just penalty in our place, in order to grant forgiveness and peace with God. Christ will come and rescue all who repent of their rebellion and put their trust in him, and redeem and restore this fallen world!

Back to Jared...

Baby

 

Thanks for letting me share with you a bit about Jared. We're excited to finally meet him.

Jared. Because it's a cool name and we like it. 

Isaiah. Because "the LORD is salvation", and we want him and others to know it.

Hauck. Because he's a Hauck. =)

 

Aug

10

2014

His hand is not shortened

So, it has been about two and a half years since I've last written here. It has been two and a half years of much change and transition in my life. Quite honestly, I have lacked the motivation to write here and have felt I didn't really have anything much worth saying. I had always viewed blogging as an extension of my pastoral ministry and a function of the overflow of study, and was never too huge a fan of theology blogs in general without connection to the church. So, the silence here has also been due to a question of identity of sorts.

The last two and half years I have lived life as a "normal" Christian, not as a pastor/missionary, and have been trying to learn what growth and putting Christ first in everything in "normal life" looks like. Not always successfully. I have been rather tempted in my downness to believe the "hand of the Lord is shortened" (Num. 11:23, Isa. 50:2). Is God really at work around/in me? Is God listening?

I long to have the reality of Ephesians 1:19 rooted more deeply in my heart, and to come true more consistently in my life:

Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know...what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe 

Lord, forgive my jaded heart; your hand is not shortened, it does indeed save. It saved me! Help me to yield to and trust you through all of life, to see and savor your greatness above and throughout everything in life, and to share your greatness with those you place in my life. 

There is perhaps still room for reflection and writing on the "one thing necessary" from this persepective. And perhaps some of you may benefit from the process. We'll see where it goes...

Apr

19

2011

Depression Is a Sign of Love for Life

Depression is a sign that love for life still exists, albeit not the greatest sign. It is frustrated with the present unhappy state of things and wishes for life as it ought to be. Indeed, things are not as they ought to be. Any sustained meditation on the extent of this fact is quite able to sink the highest spirits. The depressed soul still has the capacity to long for life as it ought to be.

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Mar

30

2011

Understanding More than the Disciples

When studying the Gospels, it is a valid interpretative principle that we can, nay, we must understand more than the disciples did. If we were to only understand Jesus and his words based on what they understood at that time, then we would be radically misreading the Gospels.

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Feb

07

2011

Which Church Does Jesus Build?

Is it possible that there exist a ministry that properly confesses Christ, consists of believers committed to honoring Christ, proclaiming his word and administering the sacraments, and yet not be called Christ's ministry? That seems to be the conclusion of the idea of "calling," if such a situation existed with a man "not called."

The idea seems to be sometimes that the only thing missing in certain ministries is the man's calling. If he were simply called, then the Lord would bless the ministry. If he were not called, no matter what else is right, the ministry is doomed for "he ran, but was not sent."

The NT is hardly explicit on this topic of calling, and for such a necessary thing in ministry, I'd expect something more explicit. Something I do see explicit is Matthew 16 where Jesus tells us what church he intends to build. (This hit me a week ago preparing for a sermon and it was massively encouraging.)

I believe that Matt 16 says that the church that Jesus builds is the one centered on a proper profession of Christ, and committed to using the power of the keys (e.g. proper mutual oversight, accountability, and discipline). These keys handed to Peter in Matt 16 are, I think, passed on to the whole church in Matt 18.

If the keys are entrusted to the church, and not to a formal called clergy, then the idea of calling can be rather at ends with whom Jesus actually entrusted the keys to. Who has the keys? Who has authority to identify with Christ and preach his gospel? The ordained clergy? Or the church?

What is the Lord's ministry? What will he bless? What church does Jesus build? Those who confess his  name and gather together to oversee each other and proclaim his word. That is Jesus' ministry. I think this has serious implications for the idea the call into ministry is the crucial factor for it being the Lord's ministry, at least as I've understood it or heard it.

Jan

24

2011

God-centeredness Is an Ultimate End

Sometimes we can be unwittingly pragmatic. We are often so focused on what happens that we forget the most important "thing" in the world is not something that "happens", per se

I've been reading a lot these days about the church, particularly books published by 9 Marks. One of those was Mark  Dever's book, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. Great, excellent book. In this book he reminds us on more than one occasion that the display of God's character in the world through us is indeed an ultimate end! This is good in and of itself, even it is has no other effects.

Reflecting God's character through faithful parenting is an ultimate end. Reflecting God's character through longsuffering with believers is an ultimate end. Sharing the gospel of God's grace in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection is a good thing; it is obedience to Christ, it is proclaiming God's name. Even if nothing else happens, even if nobody notices and believes, we have represented God, we have imaged him in the world. This is a success.

I think here is where our man-centeredness rears its ugly head the most, and also the contemporary "missional" emphasis falls apart. We should not be missional churches.  The church does not exist solely to be "on mission". Missions is only a means to a greater end--albeit a great means. 

They are right on that much of church is existing for itself and that we are to be serious about the mission the Lord left with us. But before getting caught up in the missional world, one must take care to not end up a pragmatist who cares about results and evangelistic effects (mission or non-missional), forgetting that faithfulness in worshiping and obeying God does indeed reflect his glory, and that the very goal of mission is that more people do this, more and more!

John Piper got it better when began his book Let the Nations Be Glad with these words:

Mission is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. (17)

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. 

Jul

11

2010

Self-Esteem, Pride, Shame, and Humility

That's the paradox of self-esteem: Low self-esteem usually means that I think too highly of myself. I'm too self-involved, I feel I deserve better than what I have. The reason I feel bad about myself is that I aspire to something more. I want just a few minutes of greatness. I am a peasant who wants to be king. When you are in the grips of low self-esteem, it's painful, and it certainly doesn't feel like pride. But I believe this is the dark, quieter side of pride--thwarted pride.

[Edward T. Welch, When People are Big and God is Small, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1997), 32]

He had some interesting things to say about "self-esteem" in this chapter. Earlier he had said:

The massive interest in self-esteem and self-worth exists because it is trying to help us with a real problem.  The problem is that we really are not okay. There is no reason why we should feel great about ourselves.

[Welch, 29]

According to Welch, the biblical word for low self-esteem is shame. I think he is right. This is indeed a real problem, not in our thinking or feeling it, but in the cause of it: our sin against God and others, and our being sinned against. A mere silencing of it by saying, "Think well of yourself!" is a shallow and harmful way to deal with it--just about as harmful to a car as disconnecting the "Check Engine" light because it makes you feel bad looking at it.

The cross of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can truly take away our shame. And it doesn't replace it with a high view of ourselves (i.e. "Jesus loves me so I don't care if others don't"). Rather, it enables you to stand before God without shame, accepted by him through the blood of Jesus, and to find your joy in his (true) greatness, not in your (supposed) greatness; joy in making much of him, not in making much of yourself. 

This is (才是) true humility, not some external modesty ("No, I'm not great!") that internally treasures the compliments people make of you. This humility finds ways to love other people rather than seeking a sense of fulfillment from other people, i.e. it actually loves people, rather than using people for self.

This humility is true greatness.

Jun

29

2010

Soteriology is Eschatological

Christians often talk about "getting saved", but what does this mean? What is this so-called salvation?

Salvation is about the end of the world, it is not just about "a relationship with Jesus". It has to do with reality, not psychology.

As I've been studying through Luke 1, I have noticed how much of an emphasis there is on Jesus' future kingdom and his role as King, etc. The angel Gabriel says he will sit on the throne of David. Mary says he will cast rulers down from their thrones. Zechariah says he is a "horn of salvation" (horn = power, might) and that he will deliver Israel from their "enemies and all who hate them". 

As we read the rest of Luke and find that Jesus did not (yet!) do these things, we might read Mary and Zechariah's speech and think they were misguided Israelites who didn't take the OT seriously when it talked about the suffering Messiah. 

However, note that Zechariah's song is not his opinion. He was "filled with the Holy Spirit" and his song is him "prophesying". (Luke 1:67)

Luke 1 does not contain a bunch of misguided thoughts about what they thought Jesus was going to do. Rather, Luke 1 is full of revelation from God about what Jesus was indeed going to do.

We think they didn't have as full a picture of the salvation Jesus was going to bring. True. They didn't know the Messiah had to first suffer before he could come in glory and power. (Luke 24:26) He had to die and atone for our sin before there would be anybody who could enter his future kingdom!

Yet, in a different sense, they had a fuller picture of the salvation Jesus was going to bring, since they were looking at the final future consummation of God's plan of salvation. They didn't get stuck on the here-and-now, they were looking forward to the end.

Christians tend to forget about the future, and make Christianity all about the present joy they experience in God. This is very real, but it is not ultimate. If you are after present joy, there are lots of ways to get it (granted in varying measure). If you are after eternal joy (and true present joy, and freedom from eternal suffering), then Jesus is absolutely the only way.

The point: Salvation is not psychological. It is not just about peace in your heart. It is about the end of the world. It is about peace with God--forever.

We could say salvation has two aspects: physical and spiritual (for lack of better words). 

Spiritual: We have sinned against a holy and perfect God, who is full of righteous indignation and will judge us for it. We need forgiveness. [Otherwise, we will be punished after death in hell.]

Connected is the sinful corruption in our bodies because of our sin. We have hearts that oppose God. We are "dead" in sin. We need a change not only in God toward us (forgiveness), but we also need a change in us toward God. We need new life (regeneration now, glorification at the resurrection later). [Otherwise, we would not be able to know and trust God, and we would continue in sin forever.]

Physical: We live in a world that is opposed to God and full of corruption and wickedness, run by the devil himself; the righteous are persecuted and the wicked prosper. We need deliverance. [Otherwise, eternal life would not be a good thing if it was filled with wickedness!]

God’s salvation is not just a "relationship with Jesus". It is a complete salvation from sin and from affliction, so that we can spend forever worshiping Jesus. We experience this in part now, and ultimately when Jesus returns. It is an end-of-the-world thing.

May

19

2010

Reading Narratives

It is tempting when interpreting narratives to not actually read them.

For some reason there is a nasty habit we have picked up that tries to figure out everything that the text doesn't say (i.e. historical reconstruction) rather than figuring out what the text actually does say. Much time in commentaries is spent filling in details that Luke did not record. But does this really help us understand what Luke said?

I had started reading The Meaning of the Pentateuch by John Sailhamer around February, but have since put it on the back burner. I am suspicious of the thesis of the book and don't want to spend too much time on it right now, but some parts of it are simply fascinating, especially regarding his long discussion on hermeneutics as it relates to historical narratives. He argues evangelicals have largely (and unwittingly) shifted the locus of meaning to the historical event rather than placing it in the text itself. The question is this: Where is God's revelation? Is it in understanding the historical event, or in understanding the biblical text? Where is the "locus"? Is it in the "things" or is it in the words?

He has a great illustration of a Rembrandt painting. Would you understand Rembrant's point by studying his painting or by studying the object he painted? By studying his painting of course! (Do not misunderstand: he does not say the text misrepresents the historical reality; it presents it accurately, but including, excluding and arranging material so as to communicate a particular meaning.) 

You do not fill in the places Rembrandt shadowed. You understand the text through understanding what the author said, understanding things left out were left out by the author, and thus are not part of his point.

It was a very interesting discussion. It has helped me as I've been starting preaching on Luke (which has been largely the culprit for the lack of activity here lately). It is tempting to want to spend much time filling in gaps, rather than understanding what was not gapped. Luke told us what he wants us to know. What Luke didn't say is not pertinent to understanding Luke, otherwise he would have told us. Sola Scriptura!

Interpreting narratives requires reading narratives, and understanding what the narrator said, not worrying about what he didn't say. 

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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...)