Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

At this time of year when people are thinking about what they will do differently in the coming year, here are some resolutions made by Jonathan Edwards in 1722 & 1723. Edwards resolved to read these every week to help keep his mind on the things of God and his life on track.

These are available several places on the web, I found this particular list at the Center for Reformed Theology & Apologetics website.

May God bless you as you enter the New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

When People are Big and God is Small by Edward Welch

This is by far one of the best books I've ever read. Among other things, Welch takes on the idea so common today that things like shyness and so-called low self-esteem are morally neutral psychological problems to be overcome and calls them what they are, the sinful fear of man.

The book's main theme is that the fear of man is idolatry which must be repented of and replaced by fear of the Lord. It is broken into two main parts. The first part concerns how and why we fear people and part two discusses what how to overcome that fear and replace it with the fear of the Lord. I will give an overview of each part using quotes from the book.

"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."

"We are more concerned about looking stupid (fear of man) than we are about acting sinfully (fear of the Lord)"

"Fear of man is always part of a triad that includes unbelief and disobedience."

"When feelings become more important than faith, people will become more important and God will become less important."

The bottom line for this section is that the fear of man is a work of the flesh. The flesh cries out for significance, to be petted and indulged and given free reign. When it cannot have those things, it pouts, becomes jealous, gets depressed, experiences "low self-esteem," etc. Only by taking our eyes off of ourselves and putting them onto God can we quench the desires of the flesh.

We Must Grow in the Fear of the Lord

"The person who fears God will fear nothing else"

"Since there is no room in our hearts to worship both God and people, whenever people are big, God is not."

"The goal is to establish a daily tradition of growing in the knowledge of the Lord."

"When a heart is being filled with the greatness of God, there is less room for the question 'what are people going to think of me?' "

"The key to learning the fear of the Lord is to stay in scripture."

We must Biblically Examine our Felt Needs

"When psychological needs, rather than sin, are seen as our primary problem, not only is our self-understanding affected, but the gospel itself is challenged."

"Jesus did not die to increase our self-esteem."

"Jesus does not intend to satisfy my selfish desires. Instead He intends to break the cup of psychological need (lusts), not fill it."

"To look to Christ to meet our perceived psychological needs is to Christianize our lusts."

"Without repentance, our desires remain the focal point instead of God's glory."

Know Your Real Needs

"The most basic question is 'how can I bring glory to God', not 'how will God meet my psychological longings'. "

"Self-serving needs are not meant to be satisfied; they are meant to be put to death."

Delight in the God Who Fills Us

"God's word, not feelings is our standard."

"If we want to be filled so that we can feel happy and better about ourselves, then we will never be truly deluged with God's love."

"The blessing of being more like Jesus is greater than the hardship of the refining fire."

"...repent of seeking God so you can feel better about yourself. Then think about Jesus through the story of Hosea. Ask God to teach you about this (kind of) love."

Love Your Enemies & Your Neighbors

"Need other people less, love other people more."

"Pick and enemy and a neighbor and being to pray for them."

"Look for opportunities to surprise someone outside the body of Christ with love."

Love Your Brothers & Sisters (Christians)

"Christians need less and love more."

"People-pleasers can mistake 'niceness' for love."

"It (niceness) may mean that we will entrench the sin patterns of other people."

As with Solomon in Ecclesiastes, Welch comes to the 'conclusion of the matter,:


Certainly easier said than done but absolutely worth the effort! As one who has often struggled with the 'fear of man' this book was very helpful to me. It helped me to frame the issue correctly, understanding that when I fear men I am in sin and need to repent. It also helped me to frame the issue of love correctly. I love others when I am truthful with them about the gospel and about their sin when necessary. Fear of man keeps me from saying things that need to be said for fear of disapproval whereas fear of God allows me to love a person enough to tell them what they need to hear, regardless of what their reaction may be.

I would highly recommend this book to any believer who struggles with this issue or who just wants to be more in tune with God's will for their life and their relationships.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Isaiah 44 - The Redemption of God's People & the Folly of Idolatry

Here Isaiah again identifies Israel as God's "chosen" (v.1). The Lord has created not only the world in general but has specifically created Israel within it as His people (v.2). This belies the deist belief that God has not been involved with His creation in an active way since it's inception.

Not only has God chosen the people to whom Isaiah writes but He has chosen a people in the future as well, a people who will identify themselves as belonging to the Lord just as Israel does in Isaiah's day (Vv. 4-5). This is one of many Old Testament references to the conversion of the Gentiles which was part of God's plan all along. The Church is not a "parenthesis" or a "plan B" as some theologians teach today.

Verses 6-20 of this chapter are an extended discussion of the folly of idolatry. The Lord reiterates that no God exists but Him (Vv. 6, 8) and because of this all who make other gods are "nothing" (v.9) and will be put to shame.

The foolishness of idolatry is emphasized by pointing out that the one who fashions an idol is himself weak, subject to hunger and fatigue. How could such a being create a god?! (v.12)

In addition, the one who makes an idol from wood uses part of the tree for fuel to cook with and to warm himself and the other part to fashion a "god", essentially worshipping fuel! (Vv. 14-17). He is expecting mere ashes to deliver him! Why do people do such foolish things? Because their eyes are blinded to the truth (v.18), their hearts are deceived (v.20)

Still today we often take the things God has provided for our use and turn them into idols. Money, like wood, has a legitimate and God ordained use but when we look to money or anything else to do for us what only God can do, we are no different from the example given here of the man who carves an idol from a tree.

Quotable Quotes - Part II

"When fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross." - Sinclair Lewis

Chilling words.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Quotable Quotes

"God doesn't need your good works, your neighbor does" - Martin Luther

"The problem is not that Christians are not where they should be, the problem is they are not what they should be where they are." - Os Guiness

"One of the most dangerous things you can do as a Christian is to determine your theology by your experience" - R.C. Sproul