Reading Is Good, Even If You Forget It

The full title should be that reading is good for you, even if you don’t remember most or all of what you read.

I was reading a blog post on why it’s beneficial to learn greek and Hebrew even if you lose it. I went through beginning Greek and am now purposely not ‘keeping it’. I would rather spend my time memorizing Scripture instead of trying to keep up my Greek vocabulary. However, I learned enough to basically know what commentators are talking about when they write about Greek, and I can read a commentary on the Greek of a book like Colossians, which is very helpful.

But back to reading–there is a quote below from the article that reminds me of how I feel about reading. And you get to read about it (yay). I’ve always felt that when reading Christian books, even if I don’t take notes and/or remember what I read, it still influences me. When things are repeated, they get learned. And most of all, reading for me is a great way to worship God.

I only like to read books that are going to affect my life with God directly in some way. All are subjects that cause me to wonder, ponder, learn and grow closer to God or show me my sin or something about myself God would like to point out. And if I forget it, part of what I read is stuck in my brain and spirit, and I know for sure that God will and has used it as he would like. He can also call it back to mind (John 14:26).

Reading has become a very important part of my life. The Bible always gets read every day; I made a commitment to that. But when I don’t also read outside of the Bible, I miss it because it’s spiritually therapeutic, at the risk of sounding like I have a self-help gospel complex. I can’t imagine not reading the Bible.

The article linked above included this quote.

Most of what is shaping you in the course of your reading, you will not be able to remember. The most formative years of my life were the first five, and if those years were to be evaluated on the basis of my ability to pass a test on them, the conclusion would be that nothing important happened then, which would be false. The fact that you can’t remember things doesn’t mean that you haven’t been shaped by them.

–Douglas Wilson

Part of the reason I’ve been blogging less is because I don’t want to give up more of my reading time. I’m trying to find a balance.

One other thing I’m thinking about if you’re still reading this is how much note-taking I should do. It takes more time and causes less reading, but the things written above doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to retain more of what we read. Some people retain more than others, and for me, I remember a lot of some books and others, I can hardly remember the title. I started using Evernote for that purpose, but I’ve purposely tried backing off on that a little. I’m always saving quotes though. If you take notes (or don’t), I’m always open for feedback.

Also see:
What I’ve Been Reading–Goodreads

Affliction Is Essential to Spiritual Health

God ordains affliction and we don’t want to believe this.

Who can command and have it done,
if the Lord has not ordained it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come?
Lamentations 3:37-38 NRSV

It is of so much greater concern for us to get our spirits brought down than our outward condition raised. But who believes this? All men strive to raise their outward condition; most men never mind the bringing down of their spirits, and few there are who apply themselves to it. And what is that but to be concerned to minister drink to the thirsty sick, but never to mind to seek a cure for them, by which their thirst may be carried off.

–Thomas Boston, Crook in the Lot

We think the cure is comfort. God thinks the cure is the eternal state and spiritual health of a person.

The man himself is more valuable than all external conveniences that attend him. What therefore betters the man is preferable to what betters only his condition.

[…]

It is far more needful for us to have our spirits humbled under the cross than to have the cross removed. The removal of the cross is needful only for the ease of the flesh, the humbling for the profit of our souls, to purify them, and bring them into a state of health and cure.

[…]

But what God requires is, rather to labor to bring down the heart than to get up the head. Here lies the proof of one’s suitableness for heaven; and then is one in the way heavenward, when he is more concerned to get down his heart than to get up his head, to go calmly under his burden than to get it off, to bow under the mighty hand than to put it off him.

–Thomas Boston, Crook in the Lot

Much more could be said about this, and how it affects prayer, but I will leave it here for now. This was the most significant book I’ve read in a long time.

we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:3

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

We Are Slaves of Christ

As opposed to servants, not that we don’t serve. We were “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 1 Peter 1:18-19, Revelation 5:9). A very great price. Most English translations avoid using the word slave when referring to believers, although that’s changing.

The underlying Greek word is doulos, which always means slave. I realize that the way languages work, there is often more than one definition for a word given its context. But I’m agreeing with those who say that doulos always means slave, as opposed to servant or bondservant (1 Corinthians 7:22 ESV). The word “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times” according to the entry on doulos in A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament by Bauer along with Gingrich and Danker, often referred to and known as BDAG by scholars. (If you like to read commentaries you will find that referenced a lot.) In other words, it’s always translated as ‘slaves’ in most literature, with English (I suppose) Bible translations being an exception, which is regrettable.

Here are some examples. The ESV uses the traditional KJV, ASV, RSV rendering and HCSB, NLT, NET, and parts of the NASB use ‘slave’ when describing our identity in Christ.

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God’s good news–
Rom 1:1 HCSB

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Rom 1:1 NASB

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Rom 1:1 ESV

And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ.
1 Cor 7:22 NLT

For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ.
1 Cor 7:22 ESV

Am I now trying to gain the approval of people, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ!
Gal 1:10 NET

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Gal 1:10 ESV

You cannot be slaves of God and of money.
Matt 6:24 HCSB

You cannot serve God and money.
Math 6:24 ESV

(The translation I read, God’s Word, uses ‘servant’ the majority of the time. Can’t have everything.)

John MacArthur wrote a book on this subject called Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. As he is wont to do, he goes a little bit far and calls using the word servant a conspiracy among translators. I’m not sure how translators get together to conspire about this, but it sounds like an otherwise good book. MacArthur was apparently unaware of the newer translations–that not being his forte. He has a sermon you can find online” Slaves for Christ. There is also a book called Slave of Christ: A New Testament Metaphor for Total Devotion to Christ by Murray J. Harris.

Why is this important? John MacArthur says in an interview:

I read the other day the No. 1 group in the world in drawing audiences is YouTube; No. 2 is Joel Osteen. How in the world did that happen? But what’s his message? This message is whatever you want, whatever you desire, whatever you dream, whatever your heart longs for, Jesus wants to come along and give it to you. So now you have an inverted Christianity in which you are Lord and he’s your slave. That doesn’t exist if you understand what it means to confess Jesus is Lord and you’re his slave. That has been allowed to flourish to such a massive degree along with the health, wealth prosperity message which basically says the same thing – you’re in charge and Jesus will give you what you want. This whole inversion is because of a skewed understanding of doulos.

Read the rest here:
Interview: John MacArthur on Being a 'Slave' for Christ
Even if you don’t like John MacArthur, I think you might like this. I certainly did.

I wish I would have known this a long time ago, although the concept of us not being our own has already made a significant impact in my life with God.

Although we are slaves of Christ, we are also heirs, and he even treats us as friends:

Listen, my dear brothers: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He has promised to those who love Him?
James 2:5 HCSB

I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.
John 15:15 HCSB

Puritan Prayer – Living for Jesus

Many see the Puritans as dour people, concentrating on their sin. If you read their prayers and other writings, you can see that they have a very good balance of their sin and God’s grace, contrition and blessedness–which is reminiscent of the Psalms. Knowledge of our sin is good because:

  1. God is convicting us, which means he’s speaking to us.
  2. Our lives are bettered by becoming more like Christ as God sanctifies us while we strive to obey him out of love and not fear of judgement. (I really couldn’t find a good place to put a comma there.)
  3. We appreciate all the more what Jesus did for us on the cross.

They compare themselves to God as opposed to other people. That will lay any of us flat. And then to think that Jesus took on all of that for us, being completely innocent. We won’t know in this life the depth of our sin, or how wide and long and high and deep God’s love is for us. But we can grow in the knowledge of both with healthy introspection and time spent with Scripture.

Below is part of a prayer from the Valley of Vision, a book of Puritan Prayers. Below it is a link to the whole prayer.

I bless thee for the discoveries, invitations,
promises of the gospel
for in them is pardon for rebels,
liberty for captives,
health for the sick,
salvation for the lost.
I come to thee in thy beloved name of Jesus;
re-impress thy image upon my soul;

[…]

In many things I have offended,
in all come short of thy glory;
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

Living For Jesus – Banner of Truth USA

Be still and let Scripture interpret Scripture

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10

For some reason, many people have made this verse out to be about prayer. As if we should sit and be still and listen for God to speak and receive ‘A word from the Lord‘. If you look at the context, it says nothing of the sort. If we’d like to hear from God, he wrote a great book that we can read at any time. It’s amazing.

Although the context of Psalm 46 is pretty clear, when reading in Exodus, I saw a great example of Scripture interpreting Scripture in a specific situation. I don’t know Hebrew, and can’t compare the vocabulary or confirm this is an absolute parallel, but I think it’s similar enough to be a valid repetition in Scripture that strengthens ideas. Finding them is one of the objectives of Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System.

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Exodus 14:10-14 (emphasis added) both NIV

Psalm 119 – Christian Living

Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity;
and quicken thou me in thy way.
Psalm 119:37 KJV

I want to be quickened to more life, energy, delight, and devotedness in the way of my God. The secret of Christian progress is simplicity and diligence. “This one thing I do,-forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forth to those things that are before; I press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 3:13-14 KJV] The Spirit leaves no wish in the heart for beholding vanity. The world with all its flowery paths, is a dreary wilderness; and Christ and heaven are the only objects of desire-“He who shuts his eyes from seeing evil, he shall dwell on high; his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him, his water shall be sure. Your eyes shall see the King in His beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” [Isaiah 33:15 KJV]

–Charles Bridges, An Exposition of Psalm 119

We live a life of simplicity and diligence, but always keeping in mind that it’s God who actually ‘quickens’ us to change us and what we want, if we want him to.

I’m memorizing Psalm 119:33-37 and am reading Treasury of David by Spurgeon and this commentary on those verses. I highly recommend both. You can find them for free online in electronic format or in book form by using the Amazon button in the right column. Bridges also has an exposition on Proverbs which is excellent. It’s at a level everyone can read and application oriented.

I like this quote a lot and can identify with it, so I thought I’d post it since I haven’t been doing much of that. I have some other short posts in mind.

Is It OK To Lie?

This is a quick post based on an article I skimmed and would like to read more carefully. I may be too long, so I provided a quote, and you can decide if you want to read more. My writing may sound haphazard (or maybe it always does). I hope you don’t mind that I don’t want to spend time refining this one.

I’ve been thinking about whether or not it’s ever OK to lie. The law was made for man as they say, and it may be of benefit in very rare cases to lie, or so I’ve been wondering. Below is a very strict article about lying. Scripture talks about it a lot, not just “not bearing false witness”. I’ve had Numbers 19:11 memorized for decades which says, “Do not steal, do not lie, do not deceive one another.” The not deceiving part makes it much more difficult. You can technically tell the truth and still be deceiving someone. I have more thinking to do about it. I’m not just thinking about lying, but about the law. I’ve always believed in honesty and obeying Scriptural (except for OT ceremonial and those specific only to Israel–we won’t get into that) and governmental laws. I just sometimes wonder about if it’s OK to occasionally break it. This is a long (probably too long) article by a good author. A good paragraph is:

“The injunctions of Scripture which bear directly on the demand for truthfulness have reference to speech or utterance. ‘Speak every man truth with his neighbour’ (Ephesians 4:25). Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour’ (Exodus 20:16). ‘Lie not one to another’ (Colossians 3:9). It will have to be understood that this covers other forms of signification as well as the spoken word. Words spoken are simply signs by which thought and meaning are conveyed, and there are numerous other means of communication by which truth can be conveyed or lying perpetrated. There are particularly the signs of gesture and action, sometimes closely associated with the spoken word and sometimes wholly intelligible without words. But as the Scripture itself deals with the question in terms of speech, and since that is the most common means of communication, we may do likewise. What does the Scripture mean by ‘lying’ as the prohibited thing and by ‘speaking truth’ as that required? May we under any circumstances utter what we know to be untrue, what we believe to be false? Are we always under obligation to declare what we know or believe to be true?7 May we affirm part of the truth and conceal the rest? These are the questions that inescapably arise, not only in the exigencies of life but in the interpretation of Scripture. We are compelled to come to terms with such questions because the biblical record supplies us with instances in which untruth was blatantly spoken and in which truth was concealed. Does the Scripture approve such conduct under certain circumstances?”

–John Murray

See the rest: The Sanctity of Truth

Many in these post-modern times will think it too strict. I personally don’t, and it helps me in thinking out this somewhat minor issue, because if honesty is your policy, it won’t come up very much at all. But it does help us to better understand the law in Scripture.

Then there are the three purposes of the law according to Calvin and many others, which I also think is a very interesting subject.

What Is Biblical Wisdom?

It may not be what many of us thought.

I was reviewing memorized Scripture and noticed parts of these two:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
James 1:5-8

What I would think is this is the type of thing where somebody asks you about something and you answer that you’ll pray about it and ask God for wisdom. Not that I believe that God whispers in our ear and tells us what to do, but he guides us and reminds us of Scripture that may help. Which he does…

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
James 3:17

This is a much different portrayal of wisdom than the scenario I wrote above. We often ask for wisdom and don’t get it. We’re sometimes asking for the wrong thing or expecting God to tell us what he doesn’t usually reveal to us. Biblical wisdom isn’t necessarily about making the right decisions or being able to answer people’s important life questions, although it could indirectly lead to that in some cases. Biblical wisdom is something that God promises to give to everyone. This is his will for believers.

I recently read Knowing Scripture and remembered a quote in there that really struck me as I was also pondering how James and other inspired writers portray wisdom. I’m now reading Communion With God and just read something about wisdom in that book. And I have a saved quote from a commentary on Job that I read a year or two ago (which is very good) that describe these things much better than I can.

Sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation (2 Tim 3:15). Paul refers to the Scripture’s ability to give wisdom. When the Bible speaks of wisdom, it refers to a special kind of wisdom. The term is not used to connote an ability to be “worldly wise” or to have the cleverness necessary to write a Poor Richard’s Almanack. In biblical terms, wisdom has to do with the practical matter of learning how to live a life that is pleasing to God. A cursory glance at the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament makes this emphasis abundantly clear. Proverbs, for example, tells us that wisdom begins with the “fear of the LORD” (Prov 1:7; 9:10). That fear is not a servile fear but a posture of awe and reverence, which is necessary for authentic godliness. The Old Testament distinguishes between wisdom and knowledge. We are commanded to acquire knowledge, but more to acquire wisdom. Knowledge is necessary if wisdom is to be gained, but it is not identical with wisdom. A person can have knowledge without having wisdom, but he or she cannot have wisdom without having knowledge. A person without knowledge is ignorant. A person without wisdom is deemed a fool. In biblical terms foolishness is a moral matter and receives the judgment of God. Wisdom in the highest sense is being wise with respect to salvation. Thus wisdom is a theological matter. Paul is saying that through the Scriptures we can acquire that kind of wisdom that concerns our ultimate fulfillment and destiny as human beings.

–R.C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture

The path of wisdom, godlikeness, and holiness would rely on Scripture for guidance without necessarily looking to specific texts to lay down hard and fast rules (though it occasionally might and we dare not neglect them when it does). Wisdom brings order to life and relationships, and the wise take God seriously. Wisdom derives from biblical values, but it is not necessarily bound to Israelite culture. Holiness recognizes that aspects of our behavior will sharply distinguish us from those around us. God’s holiness is embodied in his distinguishing attributes; we exhibit holiness by reflecting God’s communicable attributes (e.g., by exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit). We can build ideas about godlikeness around the biblical text’s portrayal of God.

–John Walton, Job (NIVAC)

What Biblical wisdom is:

The sum of all true wisdom and knowledge may be reduced to these three heads: (1) The knowledge of God, his nature and his properties. (2) The knowledge of ourselves in reference to the will of God concerning us. (3) Skill to walk in communion with God.

–John Owen, Communion With God

What Biblical wisdom is not:

There are two things that might seem to have some color in claiming a title and interest in this business: (1) civil wisdom and prudence, for the management of affairs; (2) ability of learning and literature—but God rejects both these, as of no use at all to the end and intent of true wisdom indeed. There is in the world that which is called “understand— ing,” but it comes to nothing. There is that which is called “wisdom,” but it is turned into folly, “God brings to nothing the understanding of the prudent, and makes foolish this wisdom of the world” (1 Cor. 1:19-20). And if there be neither wisdom nor knowledge (as doubt— less there is not) without the knowledge of God (Jet. 829), it is all shut up in the Lord Jesus Christ: “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him” (John 1:18).

–John Owen, Communion With God

These are things I love to learn about. It’s great to be corrected by God through his Word because he’s speaking to us. When God speaks, it’s always, always about simple, practical, spiritual things that matter the most.

I’ve often thought that when I’m old(er), I would like to be a wise man without knowing or thinking that I am. I’m now much farther away from that ideal than I thought. It’s a great subject to explore. I’m oftentimes embarrassed that I don’t realize many of these things that seem to be so plain sooner than I do. It shows that “the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6) And his timing can be peculiar.

Partial Puritan Prayer

I don’t like the terms head and heart. I think faith and reason often makes more sense. So I especially liked this portion of a Puritan prayer from The Valley of Vision called Belonging To Jesus.

I thank thee for showing me the vast difference
between knowing things by reason,
and knowing them by the spirit of faith.
By reason I see a thing is so;
by faith I know it as it is.
I have seen thee by reason,
and have not been amazed,
I have seen thee as thou art in thy Son and have
been ravished to behold thee.
I bless thee that I am thine in my Saviour, Jesus.

The blogging drought continues. I’ve been spending more time reading my Bible, so I’ll blame it on that for now, even though it doesn’t prevent me from blogging. I’ve never realized that there are so many short chapters in the Bible.

Partial Puritan Prayer – Freedom

Who can fathom immeasurable love?
As far as the rational soul exceeds the senses,
so does the spirit exceed the rational in its
knowledge of thee.
Thou hast given me understanding to compass
the earth,
measure the sun, moon, stars, universe,
but above all to know thee, the only true God.
I marvel that the finite can know the Infinite,
here a little, afterwards in full-orbed truth;
Now I know but a small portion of what
I shall know,
here in part, there in perfection,
here a glimpse, there a glory.
To enjoy thee is life eternal,
and to enjoy is to know.
Keep me in the freedom of experiencing
thy salvation continually.

From The Valley of Vision

How To Pray Better – Guaranteed

I was going to repost the most read post on this blog, which has a link to the book I’ve gotten by far the most commission for as an Amazon Associate, but I’d rather link to it and leave it dated as it is so the search engines continue to find it where it is.

It’s important to pray using the language of the Bible. It’s also important to pray according to God’s will. One way to learn this is by looking at Paul’s prayers and comparing them to our own:

Paul’s Prayers

You can see that this was back when people used to comment more on blogs–or mine anyway.

Sproul the Troll

Classic curmudgeonliness from R.C. Sproul in Knowing Scripture:

The Christian who is not diligently involved in a serious study of Scripture is simply inadequate as a disciple of Christ. To be an adequate Christian and competent in the things of God we must do more than attend “sharing sessions” and “bless me parties.” We cannot learn competency by osmosis. Biblically illiterate Christians are not only inadequate but unequipped. In fact, they are inadequate because they are not equipped.

The plans of the diligent lead to profit
as surely as haste leads to poverty.
Proverbs 21:5

I wanted to put some Scripture with this and thought about ‘diligent’ and came up with this one that I have memorized. I have to admit, I’ve never really thought of this from a spiritual perspective–meaning gaining knowledge and wisdom through studying the Bible.

(By ‘troll’ I mean in the internet sense–kind of–not the classic sense.)

Around the Web

I’m still here and still have ideas for posts. The mojo should come back at some point, God willing.

Baker Book House Church Connection | How Well Do You Really Know Greek? – Can we even trust our commentaries?

8 Reasons We Need the Puritans | The Gospel Coalition

Jesus our Pilot « The Reformed Reader – God is not our “co-pilot”. If you hear somebody say this, in the most polite manner, tell them it’s idiotic.

How I Read, Take Notes, and Process Information from Books — Danny Zacharias – Not the typical methods that I’ve seen

You Should Care | Monergism – Monergism and Seinfeld?

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God: An Interview with R.C. Sproul Jr. on Vimeo

Quote of the Day: Providence; Announcements

Since I haven’t been blogging much lately, I was thinking that I should remind you of the area in the right column where you can subscribe to this blog via e-mail. However, it disappeared. ! So I put it back. I hope that none of you are coming to the site itself to see if there are any posts and then not seeing any for a long time. Please either use an RSS feed reader if you read other blogs, or sign up for the e-mail notification if you aren’t seeing them on Facebook or Twitter (@aplectic). If it shows the post in the e-mail, I would still click on over here. There are things like block quotes which will look better, Scripture references can be moused over or touched (John 1:1), and there are cool tooltips with a dotted underline to give you a definition of big words that might be used, like ontology.

If you have a sharp eye, you may notice that I increased the line space, which is the space between lines, so it may be a little easier to read. Somehow I all of a sudden noticed that it’s a little squished compared to most books or other web sites. The type size of the post should also scale better.

I’m going to try to do some reposts and possibly finish some partially written posts in the near future. I’m not quite sure the best way to do reposts, so let me know if you like to copy an old one, or just change the date of an old one, leaving the comments intact.

I will leave you with and a quote that I really like from Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith and related Scripture:

Out of the lavishness displayed in the marvelous variety and richness of creation itself, God continues to pour out his common blessings on all people. Therefore we neither hoard possessions as if God’s gifts were scarce nor deny ourselves pleasures as if God were stingy. Believers and unbelievers alike share in the common joys of childbirth and childhood, friendship and romance, marriage and family. Unlike life under the old covenant theocracy, there is no guarantee in this time between Christ’s two advents that the lives of Christians will go better than those of non-Christians. The promise, rather, is that even calamities cannot frustrate God’s salvation of his elect, but, on the contrary, are turned to our ultimate good.

It is always dangerous to interpret one’s temporal circumstances as a sign either of God’s favor or of his displeasure. […] However, believers have no right to God’s common grace any more than they do to his saving grace. God remains free to show compassion on whomever he will, even to give breath, health, prosperity, and friends to those who breathe threats against him. The psalmist never resolves this paradox philosophically, but eschatologically—that is, by entering God’s sanctuary and recognizing that the temporal pleasures of the ungodly conceal their ultimate doom, while the saints’ temporal struggles conceal their ultimate glory.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son, but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Romans 8:28-39

Blogging Less, Reading More

I’ve been told that people who read blogs like to read regular posts. For those who for some reason like to read this blog, I apologize for that. I also apologize for not having anything dramatic to say about why I haven’t been blogging much lately. My reading has been going very well, and I haven’t wanted to take time away from that to blog. That’s about it. I may do some reposts for now. I don’t plan on quitting though.

Other than the Bible, I’ve been reading Victor Hamilton’s Handbook on the Pentateuch, along with the Pentateuch, which I’ve been wanting to do forever, and Michael Horton’s systematic theology called The Christian Faith, which is a bit of a blend between Biblical and systematic theology. It’s 1000 pages, so I’ve had my head down getting through it. I also don’t usually read two books at a time.

Speaking of reading books, I’ve always wondered about the proportion of time that many of us book lovers spend between the Bible and other books. This quote, along with the article has recently had a profound impact on me:

“In time,” Luther opined, “my books will lie forgotten in the dust.” This was no lament on the Reformer’s part. In fact, Luther found much “consolation” in the possibility — or rather likelihood — that his literary efforts would soon fade into oblivion. The dim view he apparently took of his own writings was intimately related to the high view he took of Sacred Scripture. Indeed, his high view of Scripture resulted in a rather dim view of all other writings, not just his own. “Through this practice [namely, writing and collecting books],” he wrote, “not only is precious time lost which could be used for studying the Scripture, but in the end the pure knowledge of the divine Word is also lost, so that the Bible lies forgotten in the dust under the bench.” Making the same point in more colorful terms, Luther complained of the “countless mass of books” written over time which, “like a crawling swarm of vermin,” had served to supplant the place which should belong to “the Bible” in the life of the Church and her people. In sum, Luther judged that folk would be better off reading and hearing the Bible than reading and hearing anything which he or anyone else had written, and the last thing he wanted to be found guilty of was producing words which distracted anyone from the Word.

Luther on Book-Showers and Big, Long, Shaggy Donkey Ears – Reformation21 Blog

Maybe this is hyperbole, as Luther was wont to do, but taken literally, I seem to have a higher view of books that he did. I’m sure he thought they were very important too, to some degree. I think it’s important for everyone to read outside of Scripture to help us understand it better. Much of the Bible is perspicuous, and some not so much. Scholars debating about the degree of the ‘perspicuity of Scripture’ won’t end anytime soon.

As I began to write above, I wonder about how much time to allocate to each. A friend of mine was saying that this could be God nudging me to make some changes or it could be arbitrary. Another friend mentioned objectives. I remembered that what I really want at this point is to know Scripture better. Then I understood what he meant by arbitrary–if I’m spending XX% time with Scripture and feel guilty about it, and then change the percentage to 30% more, that’s arbitrary. It’s just to make me feel better about myself. At this point, what I really want is a better knowledge of the Bible with more emphasis on time in it.

I’m considering Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System, which is something my wife has done. Many of you are familiar with it. Since compliance is more important than time or exact method, whether it’s diet, exercise or any other disciplined endeavor, I might modify it slightly to be reading eight chapters a day and see how that goes. If I do this, the other reading will fall into place. I’m not concerned with exact proportions or minutes spent on each. I also like to vary reading styles/objectives and amount of studying, as you probably do too, so who knows if this might be something I’ll do every day for the rest of my life, should it work out, God willing and without any major chronic fatigue or other types of flare-ups.

Here’s a great article that is about the ESV reader’s Bible (I wish my translation had one) and Professor Horner’s plan:
Abandoned to Christ: Professor Grant Horner's 'The Ten Lists Bible Reading System'
I really identify with what she’s saying as far as wanting to understand everything, but I’ve also benefitted so much from reading through the Bible.

I’ve also learned that people don’t like reading long blog posts, so I will leave it there for now, since I’ve failed in that regard.

Also see: