Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Coffee Black

This is the first post in a REALLY long time, but it's worth it if you want to know me better. This pretty much explains me as a coffee snob!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Assignment 3: Philppians Bible Study

I was tasked with laboring through the book of Philippians and find answers to the following 8 questions. These questions are very insightful into how we recognize how we react in sinful ways to stressful situations.

Question 1: What is Paul's situation? Notice all that he's facing, both difficult and happy circumstances.

Physical/mental circumstances:
  • He's confident in the salvation of the Philippians (1:6-7)
  • Yearns for his flock with Christlike affection (1:8)
  • Imprisoned for Christ (1:13)
  • Defends the Gospel (1:16)
  • Is blessed by those who preach the Gospel out of love (1:16)
  • Is afflicted by the selfish ambition of those who preach from rivalry (1:17)
  • Rejoices that, whether preached through love or rivalry, Christ is proclaimed (1:18)
  • Rejoices in the comfort found in the prayers of the saints (1:19)
  • Trusts that he will be delivered (1:19)
  • Expects and hopes to honor Christ in his body - (1:20)
  • Seeks to live and die for Christ (1:21-22)
  • Hard pressed between living (physical ministry) and dying (glorification) (1:23-24)
  • Desires to visit Philippi
  • Cites previous and current affliction for the Gospel (1:29-30)
  • Philippians have obeyed in Paul's presence as well as his absence (2:12)
  • Lives in the midst of sinners (1:15)
  • He shines as a light. Instructs the Philippians to do the same (1:15)
  • His ministry was not in vain (2:16)
  • Rejoices with the church (2:17)
  • Desires to send Timothy so that he may take joy in the fruit of his ministry (2:19, 23)
  • Trusts in the Lord that he will be able to visit (2:24)
  • Has sent Epaphroditus (2:25) and is eager to send him again (v. 28)
  • Epaphroditus has ministered to Paul (2:25)
  • Cites his Jewish heritage (3:5)
  • Counts everything as loss for Christ (3:8)
  • Has lost all things for the sake of the Gospel (3:8-9)
  • Knows that he is found in Christ (3:9)
  • Knows and pursues the consequences of being a follower of Christ (3:10-11)
  • Has not yet attained glorification or perfection (3:12)
  • Forgets the past (3:6) and strives for the future (upward call) (3:13-14)
  • Is broken hearted by the enemies of the Cross (3:18)
  • Knows his future citizenship (3:20) and glorification (3:21)
  • Loves and longs for his brothers (4:1)
  • Desires unification amongst believers (4:2)
  • Is confident that he has exercised a life worthy of imitating (4:9)
  • Yet again rejoices in the fruit of his labor (4:10)
  • Has learned to cope with every situation (4:11-12)
  • Attributes any good that is in him to Christ (4:12-13)
  • Has been financially blessed by the Philippian church (4:14-16, 18)
  • Intends to put their offerings to work (4:17)

Question 2: What destructive, sinful ways of reacting does Paul flag directly or indirectly? Think about the typical reactions to both positive and negative circumstances.

  • Flags the temptation to preach out of envy and rivalry. A natural tendency among denominations? (1:15a) (Cites those who resist this temptation (1:15b))
  • Those who preach out of rivalry offhandedly seek to hurt Paul (1:16) (the ones who preach in good will do so in love (1:16))
  • Paul chooses not to lose hope and bring dishonor to Christ's name in his affliction. How do I succeed in bringing Christ honor in my hardships? (1:20)
  • Even in his affliction, Paul doesn't lose motivation to see his church plant in Philippi progress (1:25)
  • Indirectly warns them of leading unholy lives (1:27), and from animosity amongst believers (1:27). Those who do are damned to destruction (1:28)
  • Confronts those who preach from rivalry and conceit and advocates humility (2:3)
  • Rebukes selfishness, and instructs selflessness (2:4)
  • The natural, flesh centered mind (2:5)
  • The temptation to slack off in our sanctification (2:12)
  • Warns against grumbling or questioning (2:14)
  • Rejoice instead of grumble (2:18)
  • 2:21 parallels to 2:4 (selfishness)
  • Recognizes the tendency to be sorrowful (2:27)
  • Receive Epaphroditus with joy and not dishonor (2:29)
  • Warns against the enemies of Christ (3:2)(listening to the wrong side)
  • We are to put not confidence in the flesh, but to glory in Christ (3:3)
  • Paul refers to his past life as a zealous persecutor (3:6)
  • Warns against self righteousness (3:9)
  • Temptation to believe that we can achieve perfection (3:12), or that we achieved salvation under our own power (3:13)
  • The thinking of the flesh isn't the mature thinking of God (3:15)
  • There are those in the world who try to draw us to imitate evildoers and not Christ (3:17-18). They're driven by their own passions (3:19)
  • Don't lose heart, but stand firm (4:1)
  • Discord amongst believers (4:2)
  • Advocates reasonableness and not irrationality (4:5)
  • Do not be anxious (4:6)
  • Thanksgiving and not whining
  • Advocates thoughts that are heavenly and not thoughts of the flesh (4:8)
  • Paul has learned to be content, implying that he has struggled with discontentment in the past (4:11) as well as the temptation to grumble during seasons of hunger (4:12)
  • Indirectly flags financial greed (4:17)

Question 3: What desires and beliefs tend to rule the human heart, producing ungodly reactions?

  • The drive of competition amongst believers causes rivalry and envy, affecting your presentation of the Gospel (1:15, 17)
  • Satan wants us to grumble and take shame in our sufferings for the Gospel (1:19-20)
  • We have a natural tendency to fear the opinions of man. Paul calls us to live our lives not caring about what man thinks but what God has called us to in His Gospel (1:27-28). Those who succumb to the fear of man are lead to destruction
  • Rivalry and conceit are natural sins that flow from the arrogant motivation of “Me on top” instead of a humble “Christ on top” (2:3)
  • We naturally do not give thanks to God (Romans 1:21), and grumbling is a result of that. But we are instructed to do all things without question because we ARE God's children (2:14-15) – We deserve something other than wrath
  • Since we are by nature children of wrath, Paul warns us against self centeredness (2:21) – “It's all about me”
  • Paul confesses that he has a tendency to be anxious (2:28) – God isn't sovereign
  • Paul cites and warns actions of those who look to their own interests and are driven by rivalry and conceit (3:2) – I am my own god
  • It is a natural tendency to put our confidence in the flesh. (3:3) This results in our motives being directed towards satisfying our passions – I am basically good
  • Paul references his past life as a persecutor of the church, and it is evident that he was one of those whom he warns the Philippians against in verse 2 – Salvation through works
  • The righteousness that we have is Christ's, not our own. But as sinners, we always have the tendency to be self righteous (3:9)
  • In God's blessings, we are tempted to believe that we can obtained perfection on our own accord (3:13)
  • We are prone to walk according to the flesh (3:18) – We don't believe in the holiness of God, nor His wrath
  • When there is opposition in the body, we have a tendency to take sides instead of help them (4:2-3) – Rescue can come from the work of man
  • We are called to rejoice in all circumstances because we believe that God is sovereign. But when the here and now doesn't go our way, we have a tendency to grumble and be anxious (4:4-6) – Do we truly believe in God's sovereignty and goodness
  • The virtues that Paul calls us to think on are a result of our regeneration and contrary to our sinful nature and desires: true opposes false; honorable opposes crooked; just vs. unjust etc. (4:8)
  • Paul assures us that he is still a sinner saved by grace who fights the natural tendencies of his heart. He has “learned” from experience how to take joy in all his circumstances (4:11-13) – He believes God. The unregenerate heart refuses to acknowledge Him as sovereign

Question 4: What are the consequences of sin?

  • Paul is imprisoned because of the sinful acts of men (1:13)
  • “For the wages of sin is death” But for Paul, there is much reward in death (1:20-21)
  • Destruction is the result of the opposing the Gospel (1:28, 3:19)
  • Paul calls attention to Christ in His death at the hands of sinners (2:8), and calls us to share in His sufferings (3:10-11)
  • Romans 1:24-32 are the results of looking to ones own interests (2:21; 3:2,19) – God gives them up to a debased mind
  • Epaphroditus was a victim of the consequences of original sin: illness (2:26)
  • Many saints were the victims of Paul's zealous persecution (3:6)
  • Paul feels left alone by other churches (4:15)
  • Disunity among believers, as well as wrong attitudes and behaviors towards others

Question 5: What exactly does Paul chose to say about God? What changes people?

God is the Giver of salvation and the Author of the Gospel:

  • It is God Who grants His people peace (1:2)
  • God is faithful to complete the work of sanctification in the believer's hearts (1:6)
  • God has put Paul in the situation that he is in to defend the Gospel (1:16)
  • In whatever way He chooses, God will make sure that He is proclaimed (1:18)
  • The Holy Spirit comforts Paul in his affliction (1:19)
  • The comfort of the Spirit (1:19) is at work in Paul (1:20)
  • In living, Paul finds it necessary to proclaim Christ (1:21), but in dying, he knows he will obtain glorification (1:21, 3:12) – God is faithful to His promises
  • The effectual calling of the Holy Spirit changes our will from desiring things of the flesh to seeking things of the Spirit. God holds sway over men's hearts
  • God blesses Gospel ministry to encourage progress as well as joy in our faith (1:25)
  • Through regeneration, God changes our whole way of life (1:27); the characteristics in the first half of v. 27 are signs of our salvation
  • God has given us the mind of Christ (2:4-5)
  • God in the flesh, became a humble, human servant, and was obedient to His Father's wrath (2:6-8)
  • God demands, and will have praise! (2:9-11)
  • The Holy Spirit dwelling in us gives us the ability to work out our salvation (2:12-13)
  • Paul is confident that God will flourish his efforts in Philippi (2:16)
  • The Spirit of Christ gives us the ability to be glad and rejoice (2:18)
  • The Great Physician had mercy and healed Epaphroditus (2:27)
  • Christ is the gain if everything else is lost (3:7)
  • Christ is our only righteousness (3:9) This is a result of His perfect obedience (2:6-8)
  • Christ has sealed our eternal dwelling place (3:12, 20-21)
  • God calls us to be like Jesus (3:10, 12, 13-14)
  • God reveals His will to us (3:15)
  • “The Lord is at hand” This gives us reason to rejoice! (4:4-5)
  • We have a great High Priest Who intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27), and we are able to have peace knowing this (4:5-7)
  • We are called to think on and practice the communicable attributes of God (4:8)
  • God has strengthened Paul to endure any hardship (4:10-13)
  • God is the supplier of all things (4:19)

What changes people? As the Holy Spirit works in the regenerate heart, we become more able to believe what is true about God and about ourselves. We grow in understanding and faithfulness, and begin to change our minds and our behaviors as we embrace what is true.

Question 6: How do we see relationship with God happening?

  • Paul thanks God for the Philippians and remembers them in every prayer. An obvious sign of relationship (1:3)
  • The work of sanctification (1:6)
  • Relationship with God results in tender affection towards other believers (1:8)
  • We as Christians have the righteousness of Christ (1:11, 3:9) – We see changes in our behaviors
  • We can take confidence in the goodness of God in our sufferings, making us more bold in Him (1:14)
  • A true heart for the Gospel will yield love in how the Gospel is presented (1:16)
  • Paul desires to defend the Gospel of God (1:16)
  • The Spirit moves in the hearts of believers and gives them comfort in hardships (1:19)
  • Our desire to live every moment of our life to Christ should increase (1:20-21)
  • Paul has a desire that Christ will be honored in his body (1:20)
  • Paul desires nothing but to be with Christ eternally (1:23) but he also knows that he has been called to ministry on earth (1:24) – A longing for heaven mixed with a desire to live obediently
  • The truly regenerate heart will exhibit a life that is worthy of the Gospel of Christ (1:27) – Not bringing reproach to the Name of Christ
  • We not only believe in Christ but begin to suffer for His sake (1:29-30) – Decrease in selfishness
  • In Christ, there is comfort, encouragement, affection and sympathy for fellow believers who are suffering (2:1-2)
  • A mind for the things of God is a by-product of regeneration (2:5), as well as exercising it for the benefit of others
  • We praise and confess the Name of Christ in this life, and in the life to come (2:9-11)
  • We obediently work out our salvation with fear and trembling (2:12)
  • If our motivation is in Christ, our reaction to a twisted generation will be to shine as lights (1:15). Paul also alludes to the opposite in v. 14
  • Paul trusts in the Lord that he will be able to send Timothy, and that he will again be able to visit Philippi (2:19, 24) – Confidence in the Lord's working and provision
  • God had mercy on His son Epaphroditus in his illness and on Paul in his affliction (2:27) – External evidences of God's presence in the believer's life
  • Epaphroditus shares Paul's passion for the Gospel and is willing to risk his life for it (2:30) – Decrease in self interest
  • Christians have the ability to rejoice in all circumstances, but don't always chose to (3:1, 4:4) – An increase in joy and peace
  • A desire to worship: we worship in the Spirit and glory in Christ because of what He has fulfilled (3:3, 9)
  • Paul counts all that he has accomplished in the flesh as nothing of worth because of Jesus (3:8) – Growth in humility
  • Christians know Jesus and believe in the power of His resurrection, and will take part in His sufferings at one time or another (3:10-11)
  • Christ has made us His own possession (3:12) – An increase in the desire to please Him
  • Our inheritance is with God because He has made us His own. We have not obtained by our own works, but by the work of Jesus (3:12-13, 20) – Striving without self condemnation
  • True Christians strive for the end goal (3:13-14) – A change in focus
  • We are encouraged to imitate the saints (3:17)
  • We have access to the Father through our High Priest, Christ (Romans 8:34). So we are able to come before Him in prayer (4:6-7) – Increased prayer
  • Paul holds testimony that the Lord has strengthened him, and that he has been able to to overcome any situation by God's grace (4:13) – Verbal testimony to the power and presence of God
  • Paul closes his letter by praising God again (4:20) – Increased praise

Question 7: What is the specific good fruit?

  • Sanctification (1:6)
  • Abounding love for the Gospel with knowledge and discernment (1:9)
  • Purity, approval of what is excellent, and blamelessness (1:10)
  • A boldness and fearlessness for the Gospel (1:14), and the the desire to preach it with good will and love (1:15)
  • Rejoicing! (1:18, 3:1, 4:4)
  • Full courage in Christ (1:20)
  • A desire to live to please God and not men (1:19-21)
  • A growing faith and joy (1:25)
  • Manner of living that is holy and worthy of the Gospel (1:27)
  • The ability to find encouragement and comfort in Christ (2:1-2)
  • The mind of Christ and selflessness (2:4-5)
  • Continuing worship of God (2:9-11)
  • When we work out our sanctification with fear and trembling, we decline in our questioning, which leads to increasing innocence in a crooked generation (2:14-15)
  • Gladness (2:18)
  • Ministering to the needs of brothers in need (2:25-26, 4:14)
  • Counting everything as loss for the sake of the Gospel (3:8-9)
  • Not concerning ourselves with the things that are behind, but having our sights set on what's ahead (3:13-14) – Eternal perspective
  • A maturity in thinking (3:15) This goes kind of goes back to 2:5
  • Imitation of those who are motivated by God and not themselves (3:17)
  • Calling out to the Lord in times of anxiety (4:6-7) – Trust and confidence
  • The ability to think on and act out the communicable attributes of God (4:8-9)
  • We have Paul as a model for patience in the face of suffering (4:9, 11-12)

Question 8: What good effects result from the way Paul handled his situation?

  • To start off his letter to the Philippians, he gives thanks to God for their partnership in the ministry (1:3) – Encouragement to the church
  • Recognizing that the suffering that he has gone through has served to advance the Gospel (1:12)
  • Rejoicing not only in the preaching that was done out of love (1:16), but also the preaching done by those who preached with the wrong intentions (1:18) – Positive example to the church
  • Paul is able to continue to take courage as he is suffering (1:9-20), and remaining in the flesh, he is able to physically model what a sufferer for Christ is (1:24) – Again, a positive example to the church
  • He is able to exhort in humility as one who was once a persecutor, and one who has been affected by those who preach with earthly intentions (2:3, 1:17)
  • Paul calls all believers to imitate him and his sufferings, as he imitated Christ (3:17)
  • He displays what it truly means to learn from experience (4:10-13)
  • The Philippian church is instructed and encouraged and also provides encouragement to Paul (Epaphroditus, money, and good reports)

Question 9: What have you learned and how does it come to bear in your life?

I'm at an unfamiliar juncture in my life, learning to balance a new job and a new level of school. Two weeks ago, I hired on at the local coffee shop, and I am working close to twenty hours a week. I'm also in this counseling class, which requires a lot more thinking and responsibility than I have previously encountered. Finding the perfect balance between family obligations and my new endeavors has led me to grumble against the One Who has blessed me with both.
Since Paul was a sinner like me, he must have struggled at one time or another against the very same reactions that I've been battling. Surely, it was more than difficult to find the joy to sing hymns while in prison, and it must have been a temptation to lash out at those who stoned him. He must have been tempted to focus on his plight, to despair, to complain, and to worry. That is typically my reaction to stressful situations. Yet Paul found comfort in Scripture knowing that God placed him into those conditions for the purpose of His praise and the advancement of His Kingdom. Paul “learned” to be content in all circumstances; in the process he found joy and peace. In the midst of difficulties far greater than mine, he continued to preach the Gospel and disciple the Philippians; he knew and trusted the One in charge. As my days have become more hectic, I have been tempted to set my mind so fully on my problems that I fail to acknowledge the Author of my circumstances. I forget Who's in charge; I become my own god; I grumble rather than rejoice; and I forget to be thankful.What's more, my grumbling sometimes leads to sin against others and brings dishonor to Christ.
In all situations, God demands praise. The Holy Spirit will empower me to give thanks if I will submit to His working in my life, regardless of circumstances. This will result in less stress, fewer headaches and other physical discomforts, more peaceful family relationships, and a stronger testimony of Christ in my life. Paul commanded the Philippians, and me as well, to rejoice rather than grumble, and to dwell upon the character of God. As a result, “the God of peace will be [me].”

Monday, April 16, 2012

Second Assignment: Significant Scripture

My second assignment for my CCEF course was to write a paper on a significant Scripture in my life. Here's the response for that. It's nice, short, and to the point. (wait til they get longer!) ;-)

 Samuel Finch

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were first in to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:11-14
   In more cases than not, God uses His Word to draw His elect unto Himself. Isaiah 45:22 was the external call of the Spirit to which Spurgeon answered in faith. Romans 13:13 convicted St. Augustine of his sensuality and drew him to repentance. A verse which marks the moment of conversion might generally be considered the most special in a person's life. For me, however, Scriptures confirming the certainty of my salvation and the absolute sovereignty of God are especially significant and beautiful.
   Two summers ago, I found myself face to face with a very serious sin. Once I had dealt with the temporal, immediate consequences, I began to worry about the spiritual and eternal ramifications of my sin. In my shame, I wondered how a true child of God could commit such a flagrant offense, and I became nervous at the thought of “falling into the Hands of a holy God.” In the months that followed, however, I found increasing comfort in Ephesians 1:13, which assured me that I have been “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, Who is a guarantee of [my] inheritance.”
   I find hope, peace, and comfort in knowing that my Heavenly Father has foreordained all events and has predestined me for glory; my salvation is secure in Him forever. The entirety of Ephesians 1 encourages me as I struggle with internal sin as well as the evil that besets me externally. It also reminds me that God is sovereign over all things, including the distressing events of life. I find particular assurance in verse 11, which affirms that He “works all things according to the counsel of His will.”
   The first chapter of Ephesians has profoundly affected how I interpret what is happening within and around me. In my battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil, I am strengthened knowing that my salvation is secure in Jesus Christ and that I will acquire possession of an inheritance to the praise of His glory.

Monday, April 9, 2012

First Assignment: "Clyde"

Here's the first response paper to a case study. I am not allowed to post the actual case study for certain reasons, so you'll have to use your imagination of who "Clyde" really is. ;-)  

     At first glance, one would think that Clyde has everything in life: a great job, a family, money, and a good church. However, like all human beings, Clyde has a sin nature; and he clearly struggles with it daily. One of the areas in which he labors involves blaming his parents for certain decisions made during his childhood. Bitterness influences how he deals with himself, family life, and work.
    Since Clyde claims to be a Christian, he needs to be brought straight to the truth of Who God is, to the reality of the human condition, and ultimately to the Gospel. For example, it appears that Clyde lacks a proper understanding of the sovereignty of God. Looking back on the events of his childhood, he fails to realize that not only was God there, but He also ordained the circumstances of his life. Clyde attempts to make himself feel better by blaming his parents and feeding sinful passions over which he has personal jurisdiction. He claims to have a good understanding of Scripture. However, he does not take comfort in it; further, contrary to biblical counsel, he is even willing to consider suicide as a solution to his problems.
    Clyde's marriage is another arena in which resentment toward his parents comes to play. He resents Mom and Dad for forcing him to marry Corrine, who is overbearing and vain. Now, instead of taking leadership as the biblical head of the house, Clyde finds himself submitting to his wife's hen pecking; he is bitter and often angry with her nagging, which increasingly leads to animosity. How does he resolve this conflict? Again, instead of turning to Scripture for guidance, he turns to the autonomous ways of man: avoidance, staying out late drinking, and other potentially destructive lifestyles.
    Because his parents were overbearing, Clyde felt forced into his career decision. By God's grace, he has regularly been able to use his medical training as a ministry; however, most of the time he feels unsatisfied with his work and his accomplishments. As a new member of the hospital ethics committee, he now has an opportunity to stand up for truth and to fight against abortion. Unfortunately, having lived in fear of other people's opinions for most of his life, Clyde finds himself overly concerned that his convictions will be unpopular and dangerous to his professional status. He is frustrated with himself for caving under pressure, but he also embraces another reason to resent his father for pushing him to become a doctor.
    Clyde needs to be brought to Scripture and confronted with the holiness and sovereignty of God. He needs to be reminded that everybody – his parents, his wife, and himself included – are sinful and incapable of rescuing themselves. He needs to be reminded of salvation and forgiveness in Jesus Christ and the biblical mandate to forgive others. Hopefully, when brought to the throne of God, Clyde will begin to realize his depravity and need for repentance. If repentance occurs, he will be ready to begin addressing specific issues related to personal sin, marriage/family, and career.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Upcoming Posts

I'm going to try to bring this blog out of the depths of deadness, and cause a little activity. Some of you may know that I am currently taking The Dynamics of Biblical Change from CCEF http://www.ccef.org/, and will be posting my weekly assignments. I am not allowed to post the specific material that I am using, but I will try to explain the general content of it. My first paper is due tomorrow. So be looking for it either tonight (if you see this before the day is out), or tomorrow. God Bless! :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

My Aspirations

My brother and my aspirations for the future... or at least they were.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Please Pray

It's been a long time since I've posted on here. I'd like to ask anyone who reads to this to please take a moment and pray for me. It seems kinda awkward to ask, but I could sure use some. I'm dealing with a lot of things in my life that are wearing me down physically and emotionally. I am praying that they will be over soon, and hopefully there will be joy in the end. Please pray that God's will would be done in my life, that I would be content with the present circumstances, and above all, that I would not lose faith in His holy, perfect promise that He will never leave me or forsake me. Thank you!

In Christ,