Monday, January 31, 2011

Remembering Robert Murray M'Cheyne

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith (Heb 13:7).

We believe in Christian heroes, not to idolize men, but because God has exemplified His faithfulness to His promises through men of faith (cf. Heb 6:12). We look to men (and women!) so as to behold their God and rejoice that the same Lord reigns still over His Church (the point of vv. 7-8, in Heb 13).

And how much do we still need to consider Christians of past eras, in a day when "DIY" applies not just to home-improvement, but to pastoral ministry as well (see this previous post)? I for one love to look to heroes, especially ones like Robert Murray M'Cheyne.

M'Cheyne was a Scottish pastor in the 19th century - a compatriot of other Scottish luminaries like Horatius and Andrew Bonar, John Milne, amongst others - and a leader in the great Scottish revivals of that era. A prolific writer, poet, preacher, and evangelist, M'Cheyne died at the young age of 29. Though I have already outlived him by more than 3 years, I believe it would be presumptuous to expect to see more accomplished through my life and ministry than his.

On the occasion of my recent ordination to Gospel ministry, my brother and sister-in-law gifted me a copy of Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M'Cheyne.

As I have read his Memoirs (a collection of biography, diary, letters, sermons, poems, and tracts), I have been simultaneously encouraged, admonished, rebuked, and burdened to know the Lord and minister His Word as did our dear brother who has gone ahead of us. At times, I have even needed to set down his Memoirs, just for the sake of relieving the conviction!

So, you can imagine my anticipation when I first heard that John Piper will be doing a biographical message on M'Cheyne at this week's Desiring God Pastors Conference! Tomorrow at about 12 noon (PST), Piper will deliver his message, and since they are typically live-streamed it could make for a great lunch break. (Update: Live-stream for main sessions will be available here).

If God's work through Robert Murray M'Cheyne is unknown to you, my friend, that needs to be rectified! Maybe Piper's message will be just the introduction you need.

Please note the many resources currently available to us:
  • Website on M'Cheyne maintained by David Haslam. (I have briefly corresponded with Mr. Haslam and he seems to be a fine chap. I am grateful for his work on this site).
To see how John Piper develops his biographical sketches, watch this brief video:

For the rest of the week, we will be posting some favorite excerpts of M'Cheyne thus far in our reading of his Memoirs.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why We Are Told to Wait

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD;
I will wait for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me
(Micah 7:7)

In a message on Micah 7, "Patient like a Prophet," I applied Micah's patient endurance by waiting upon the Lord to our continual need to cultivate the discipline of waiting upon the Lord. This means, in part, rejecting frenetic anxiety and beholding the impending fulfillment of the Lord's promises in time and personal experience.

If I would have had more time to develop the point, I hope I would have said something as half as helpful as Paul Tripp's recent article at DesiringGod, Spiritual Muscle Development.

Tripp helpfully develops the point that waiting on the Lord is not just a matter of waiting, but a process of becoming. Specifically, that the process of waiting is one of God's primary tools to shaping us into the image of His beloved Son. And in this sanctifying process, there are some bad habits that may develop if we are not careful:
  • Giving way to doubt.
  • Giving way to anger.
  • Giving way to discouragement.
  • Giving way to envy.
  • Giving way to inactivity.
Again, please read how Tripp diagnoses and unmasks these bad habits for what they really are, unbelief. Tripp's response to this unbelief is remembering:
He is wise and loving. His timing is always right, and his focus isn’t so much on what you will experience and enjoy, but on what you will become. He is committed to using every tool at his disposal to rescue you from yourself and to shape you into the likeness of his Son. The fact is that waiting is one of his primary shaping tools.
So, what does this mean for this morning?
Here are the things that he has designed for you to build the muscles of your heart and strengthen your resolve: the regular study of his Word; consistent godly fellowship; looking for God’s glory in creation every day; putting yourself under excellent preaching and teaching of Scripture; investing your quiet mental time in meditating on the goodness of God (e.g., as you are going off to sleep); reading excellent Christian books; and spending ample time in prayer.
Waiting on the Lord is a discipline and an intentional process to mortify our sin, vivify our devotion, and deepen our joy in Him. In other words, waiting is integral to becoming increasingly holy. That is why we wait. So, how are you waiting?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Good Counsel for Young Pastors (and Many Others)

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim 2:2).

For those who are unaware, a minor bruh haha has erupted online over John MacArthur's comments regarding Darrin Patrick in a recent interview.

If you are unaware, be encouraged! Most of it owes to our now widespread failure to cease Tweeting, "friending," and even blogging (!), in order to actually read real things like books, actually do real things, like pray, and actually spend time with real things, like people. But that's another post... Some better remarks on this controversy were made by Travis Allen, a friend and former ministry leader at GCC, who is the director of GTY's internet-presence: Culturally Contextualized or Historically Connected?

In any case, MacArthur clarified the passing comment in the interview in another post at GTY, "Radical Individualism: A Good Trait for Young Pastors?". It is worth a read, but most pertinent and helpful are his concluding exhortations:
The issue is rather the danger of developing a unique theology and a radically individualistic philosophy of church leadership. When one’s “own theological beliefs” are self-styled and unique, those beliefs need to be questioned. Protecting the soundness of our theological convictions is a commitment that we all must make. It is increasingly clear that the vanguard of evangelical Christianity is intent upon actively promoting change at every level within the church, and young men in particular should not be encouraged to think radical individualism is a positive mindset for church leadership and ministry style.
Amen and amen! Men in ministry who emphasize the subjective aspiring to the pastoral office (1 Tim 3:1) above the objective affirmation of the character and gifting for the pastoral office by the local church (cf. 1 Tim 3:2-7; Titus 1:5-9) are flat-out dangerous. They inevitably form communities around personalities and preferences rather than the Gospel (see previous post). Ideally, the pastoral charge is an unbroken chain of Gospel doctrines and duties passed-on from the Apostles themselves.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yes, I Am a Calvinist

There are admitted risks to using theological "short-hand" in discussions. That is to apply certain nomenclature to yourself or others without an exhaustive definition of what exactly you intend by a specific term. Or, put another way, what happens when you and a friend (or a whole group) are saying the same word but using different dictionaries?

John Piper recently answered this question with the oft-repeated refrain to forget labels and to use biblical explanations or, as he put it - "Saying What You Believe Is Clearer than Saying 'Calvinist'":
We are Christians. Radical, full-blooded, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, God-centered, mission-advancing, soul-winning, church-loving, holiness-pursing, sovereignty-savoring, grace-besotted, broken-hearted, happy followers of the omnipotent, crucified Christ. At least that’s our imperfect commitment.

In other words, we are Calvinists. But that label is not nearly as useful as telling people what you actually believe! So forget the label, if it helps, and tell them clearly, without evasion or ambiguity, what you believe about salvation.
In short, Piper advocates saying the following (abbreviated here; see Piper's statements with attendant Scripture-proofs here):
  • I believe I am so spiritually corrupt that I would never have come to faith without God’s sovereign victory over my rebellion.
  • I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world.
  • I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners and that he had an invincible design in his death to obtain the assembly of all believers.
  • When I was dead in my trespasses, God made me alive, and united me to Jesus.
  • I am eternally secure not mainly because of anything I did in the past, but because God is faithful to complete the work he began.
At one point, I too advocated this "no labels but the Bible" position. But, I have since given that up as impractical, postmodern (or modern!), and even a bit dangerous.

It is impractical because you cannot stop with these bullet points, you have to keep defining and articulating their interrelationships You have to define "corrupt" and "substitute" and "obtain" and "dead" and "alive" and "secure" and et cetera. Classic Arminians, for example, might use the very same bullets and still mean vastly different things. The point of labels is to make conversations efficient when lunch is getting cold.

Secondly, it can tend to cater to the spirit of the age that considers labels and terms as open-license for whatever you want to make of them (i.e., write your own dictionary). I don't think that is true, helpful, and quite frankly I just don't want to be a part of it. Label me naive, but I'm holding my ground here... "Calvinist" has a classic, historic, and objective definition. And that is exactly what I mean when I use it. The "no label but the Bible" position can tend toward the unintended consequence of making labels themselves futile. If that is true, then let's just throw-out "Christian," "Reformed," and "evangelical" while we're at it, because those terms suffer horrendous misuse as well.

Finally, it may even be a bit dangerous because it can subtly communicate the failure to separate what God has spoken and what you believe God has spoken. (And, let me assure you, if you do not know the difference between those two propositions, you are in for a lot of trouble and difficulty getting along with practically everybody).

So, here's my general approach with all its admitted pitfalls and problems:
  • "Yes, I am a Calvinist" (note the puzzled, frustrated, bemused or some other facial expression on the evidently non-Calvinist).
  • Let's get together, have a cup of coffee, and discuss what God has spoken, comparing what you believe God has spoken and what I believe God has spoken; and hopefully you'll discover you're a Calvinist too or become one along the way.
So, that's where I am. I suppose it's not too far from Piper, but I just do not like the advocacy of ditching labels. In the end, it seems to defeat the recognized need throughout millennia of human discourse to having, well, labels! Yes, I am a Calvinist.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hurray for Free History!

An often overlooked, but excellent resource for studying the history of the Church is the previously defunct magazine, Christian History & Biography.

It ended with issue #99 a couple years ago, to the dismay of many, including yours truly, but in honor of the 400th year of the KJV, it is making a comeback! Even better... for free. You can sign-up for a free copy of issue #100, on the making and spread of the King James version here.

CH&B has been established as an accurate and accessible primer on major people and movements in the growth of Christianity. You can search their on-line archives (be sure not to pass-by issue #77, Edwards!)

Christianity did not begin when we came to the Savior, so let's not act like it by overlooking the doctrines, traditions, people, movements, and, yes, the errors, that have preceded us. CH&B is an interesting way to do that. With pictures and brief summaries, its really a great tool.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Calvinist Crossing

Four helpful posts I recently encountered involving Christian roles and relationships. Enjoy.

  • Whose Wife are You? Challies rightly identifies the missing-link in much of the complementarian debates - distinguishing role from function:
    ...I wonder if we spend far too little time talking about how this husband and this wife complement one another. When we move beyond the generalities of gender roles, we find that the specifics may look very, very different from one couple to another.
  • Is Small Talk Worthless? Still chewing on this one from Powlison (via Mahaney). Powlison contends the futility or fruitfulness of chatter is embedded in its intent:
    ...when you climb into anything a person ever says you find profound things revealed about what they are about: what they are after, what their intentions are, what their worldview is. Even in small talk there is a revelation of the heart that God is searching out, and he weighs the intentionality of small talk.

    ...Small talk is going to be judged by God for the kind of deep intentionality it is. In other words, small talk is counsel.
    Admittedly, still on the fence with this. I doubt that encouraging "small talk" is really the needed emphasis in our "social network" age. It brought to mind 2 of the points from the Scots' Confession of the Sins of the Ministry (ca. 17th century):
    FRUITLESS conversing ordinarily with others for the worse rather than for the better.

    Foolish jesting away time with impertinent and useless discourse, very unseeming the Ministers of the Gospel.
  • Leading from Your Strengths will Look Unusual. Citing an example from business, Matt Perman offers some needed counsel:
    You will be more effective being who you are than who you are not. In fact, it’s often the most unconventional minds that make a difference because what seems unconventional is often simply counterintuitive wisdom.
    I almost avoided pastoral ministry because I was repeatedly given bad counsel along the lines of "If you're going to be a pastor, you'd better learn to be __________ (gregarious, life of the party, fond of small talk [see above], etc.)." I was preserved from such horrendously bad advice by learning the simple truth,"be who you are" - by His providence and in His grace.
  • God Didn't Create a Mistake. (HT: Challies). I've always enjoyed Tony Evans' pulpit style (and many moon ago, edited his radio program for a short time) and this clip does not disappoint (I wish I could pull-off that blue suit!):

    “There may be illegitimate relationships, but every child that comes out of ‘em becomes legitimate." Well-said and well-remembered.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Happy Heidel-Birthday!

Thanks to JT, we were reminded that yesterday was the 446th birthday of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Originally published on January 19, 1563, it is one of the "three forms of unity" in the Calvinist or Reformed heritage (alongside the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt). It has been rightly loved and studied for over four centuries because of its deeply personal and devotional character.

For example, while the Westminister Shorter Catechism begins with the doctrinal and abstract, "What is the chief end of man?" (though, admittedly an excellent and necessary question). The Heidelberg Catechism begins with the more pastorally-driven, "What is your only comfort in life and death?" Now, that's really where the rubber meets the road, is it not? The answer:
That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with His precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.
Now, if you believe that by His grace, you will be sustained through much sorrow on the way to the Kingdom. (For more on question 1, see Riddlebarger, What is Your Only Comfort? from Tabletalk [April, 2008]; to understand Question 1 as a protest against Roman Catholicism, see Trueman, Terrible Beauty, Beauty, and the Plain Terrible; for an applied-overview of the whole, see Kevin DeYoung's The Good News We Almost Forgot).

Theology professor at Talbot Seminary, Fred Sanders, has served us in Today is the Heidelberg Catechism's 446th Birthday by offering several reasons for studying this Catechism:
  • It’s Personal.
  • It’s Devotional.
  • It’s Biblical.
  • It’s Ecumenical (read what he means by the "e-word" before freaking-out)
  • It’s Irenic.
  • It’s Pastoral.
  • It’s Didactic.
  • It’s Confident.
  • It’s Dense.
  • It’s Free.
In short:
It is designed not simply to instruct you or exhort you, but to set you before the face of God, confessing to him who you are, what you need, who he is, and what he has promised.
If reading, memorizing, and meditating upon a catechism is not already part of your private worship repertoire, might I suggest you add it? This is especially helpful for those of us shepherding the young hearts in our homes, not to mention for regularly meeting with another to "breathe life" to them (see yesterday's post).

Since we're on the topic, another great catechism - and probably more easily adapted for us "free-churchy" folks - is Spurgeon's Catechism (adapted from the London Baptist Confession of 1689). For a more recent adaptation, see John Piper's revision of the same in A Baptist Catechism.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Breathe Life into Others

New Testament Greek scholar, author, and pastor, Bill Mounce, recently gave some very helpful reflections in "The Cycle of Life - Personal Reflection". In this brief personal account, Mounce reminds us of all the opportunities which constantly surround us to make an impact in another life for their good - even eternally.
For those of you reading this, may I encourage you to breathe life into those around you so that when you run into them in the years ahead, you can feel this sense of gratitude and affection that you should, and that your son or daughter will take great delight in meeting the person who so influenced their mom or dad.
I really liked his word-picture for discipleship, "breathe life," and may commandeer it for personal use. As disciples of Christ, we must not too often measure our "impact" in the world beyond individuals. This is a lesson, even in pastoral ministry, that I continually grow in learning - as well as one at which I have admittedly failed far too often in the past. Let's seize each encounter and relationship to seek the love of Christ for the good of another.

NB, for more from Bill Mounce see his blog. Note that "Mondays with Mounce" at Koinonia are always helpful as well. For the interested, I have found his commentary on the Pastoral Epistles to be the "go-to" reference on my shelf for that portion of Scripture.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What Do We Celebrate?

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:3)

Good diagnostic questions from Trevin Wax, "What You Celebrate as a Church Is Just as Important as What You Believe":
Pastors and church leaders, it’s important that we believe the gospel; it’s also important that we celebrate this gospel in a way that makes clear it is “of first importance.”

What do we celebrate as a church?

Do we ever lift up our church’s expression as “what church should be” in a way that unites our congregation around a style rather than the gospel?

Do our discipleship efforts lead to missional living or look-alike converts who will have a difficult time serving in another context in the future?
I do pray that Christ and His Gospel is the increasingly dominant flavor of the church's culture.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Irrelevant Theology of Martin Luther King, Jr.

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free... So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed' (John 8:31-32, 36).

It is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It is a conflicting day. While we can be sincerely grateful for the socio-political achievements of the Civil Rights Movement, it cannot be overlooked that its methods and essential vision leaves a deadly-wake.

It is especially concerning when professing Christians do jumping-jacks over the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. like this. Why? I am convinced that his message misplaces the source of true hope and is, therefore, irrelevant.

First, what I do not mean... I do not mean to say that the injustice and racism that civil rights leaders osought to address was not what it was (and is). Segregation, Jim Crow laws, and the like, are wicked manifestations of an evil and depraved society. It was and is right to condemn them and seek their rectification. To the extent that professing Christians opposed this protest of America's legal and cultural infrastructure, they are rightly condemned for their ignorance of God's Word and shameful refusal to act publicly in accord with it. (For more on this point, see Russell Moore, "Racial Justice and the Godness of God").

So, why is the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. largely irrelevant? It equates the hope of God in the Kingdom of His Son with the hope of better things in this life. And in a cursed world of fallen men, that is trading the glories of God's promises to the Redeemed for an uncertain wish that is certain to disappoint.

Take, for example, "I've Been to the Mountaintop," delivered on April 3, 1968, the eve before Dr. King brutally fell victim to the hatred he had so long opposed.
We need all of you. And you know what's beautiful to me, is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It's a marvelous picture. Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and say, "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Somehow, the preacher must say with Jesus, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor."

And I want to commend the preachers... I want to thank them all. And I want you to thank them, because so often, preachers aren't concerned about anything but themselves. And I'm always happy to see a relevant ministry.

It's all right to talk about "long white robes over yonder," in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. It's all right to talk about "streets flowing with milk and honey," but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can't eat three square meals a day. It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preachers must talk about the New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.
Many people find depths of hope in these words... I am concerned it is hope woefully misplaced. Note the subtle exchanges made by Dr. King:
  • From minister of the Gospel to messenger of the populace. "Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher?" What happens when preachers of the Gospel find their role in speaking on behalf of the people and their message in the desires of men? Jesus' Gospel is silenced and the real freedom of the Son is unheard.
  • From the real to the symbolic. "It's all right to talk about 'long white robes over yonder,' in all of its symbolism." A reference to "symbolism" is a nod to denying the tangibility of God's promises of the future Kingdom of His Son. What happens when the promises of God's Word are exchanged for malleable symbols? God's Word loses all meaning and its visions of victory to make Christians courageous are erased.
  • From the eternal to the temporal. "It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preachers must talk about the New York, the new Atlanta..." What happens when certain hope in the unsurpassed and unfading glory of Christ is exchanged for the wish that things might get better in our cities? Hope dies. Period.
Despite Dr. King's insistence that these exchanges make for "a relevant ministry," I am constrained to respectfully disagree. A vision of men creating a virtuous society is not Gospel, it is the hope of an atheist. And in God's world atheistic hopes are always a bad bet.

And the tragic irony is that hope in the future grace and glory of Jesus is the only real basis for hard labors of love in a world of hatred. By removing the future hope of God in bringing sinners to Himself in Jesus, Dr. King essentially removed the foundation for the work to which he called people.

Let's remember and celebrate the accomplishments of Dr. King and God's gracious kindness to our nation. But I especially plead with Christians and churches to not confuse MLK Day with the real hope and relevant ministry still greatly needed in our nation. We must still pray for freedom to come to every "race" of American, that men and women of every skin-color might know the hope of the only true freedom in the glory of their Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ. In cities inhabited by hopeless men it is the only relevant ministry to pursue. What greater sorrow can befall anyone than to be shut-away from Christ Himself? He alone is relevant.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Persecution and Praying for the Government

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity (1 Tim 2:1-2).

From the inception of His earthly ministry, our Lord Jesus guaranteed persecution to His disciples (e.g., Matt 10:16-39). And this promise continues for the Church(e.g., 2 Tim 3:10-12). So, why are we to pray for "a tranquil and quiet life" through our governing authorities? Are we told to ask for something that God has promised we will not obtain in this life? As is so often typical in Scripture, the answer is in the following verses (1 Tim 2:3-4):
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
We pray for tranquility and freedom under our governing authorities, so that the mission of God to save men through the message of the Church may be fulfilled. Praying for the government is akin to praying for the spread of the Gospel. Pastor Piper explains it as follows:
God aims to save people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. But one of the great obstacles to victory is when people are swept up into social, political, and militaristic conflicts that draw away their attention, time, energy, and creativity from the real battle of the universe.

- Let the Nations Be Glad!, p. 70.
As we pray for our government leaders - as our church does by name each Lord's Day - we are not thereby presuming our hope lies in the level of prosperity and protection that can be afforded by our government. Rather, we are asking God to fulfill His promises by preventing our government from hindering the "godliness and dignity" of His saints and the Church's mission to proclaim the Gospel of Christ until He returns. This, of course, is most directly accomplished through the salvation of our leaders!

So, I am grateful for the recent popular attention being given to Christian persecution. See, for example, Brinkley's article in SF Chronicle, "A Wave of Christianophobia" (HT: Duran Central). Yesterday, OneNewsNow reported that the U.S. State Department is purportedly "deeply concerned" about Christian persecution, especially in Africa and the Middle East (I would be indebted to anyone who can verify this with the original report from the State Department).

We continue to pray that the United States government would include the persecution of Christians - both at home and abroad - at the top of their policy concerns. Yet, we pray this in concert with the petitions that His Church may remember we are but slaves, who are not above the treatment endured by our Master(Matt 10:24), and that she may speak His Word with confidence to those who threaten (Acts 4:29). May the Kingdom and will of God's Son be accomplished.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bizzare Passions or Godly Passions?

... Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face... (Ezek 1:28).

Phil Johnson's post today at Pyromaniacs is a real gem: "Bizarre Passions of Worldly Culture, and Why They are Incompatible with a True Passion for God's Glory." (I miss hearing Phil in-person at GraceLife each Lord's Day... though this is not to say I regret where the Lord has since placed me!).

I mainly liked his post for two reasons. First, it has a really long title and - maybe I'm reading too much in the 16th and 17th centuries - but, I do confess to harboring an odd affection for long titles. Second, it nails why so many today, even in the Church, feel simultaneously over-extended and under-satisfied. An answer is extraordinarily simple - we are engrossed in passion for the wrong things. Or as Mr. Johnson has helpfully articulated:
There's plenty of passion in the world today. Unfortunately, a lot of it is evil passion—lust, anger, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, self-love, and so on. Even whatever good feelings there are in this world are misspent—squandered on trivial things: sports, entertainment, recreation, and the pursuit of personal happiness. We're expected to be deliriously excited about things like that; and we're generally discouraged from taking serious things seriously.
That last sentence is worth the price of admission... we too often buy the assumption that serious matters are not to be taken seriously! And this cultural pressure accounts for why many pastors and leaders in wider evangelicalism act like clowns and why you leave the "services" of their "churches" thinking, "Wow.... I may actually be dumber and less spiritual now than I was an hour ago." (Unfortunately, I have had that exact thought more than once). It is especially grievous when we who profess Christ squander our passion:
It is clear from the Old Testament alone that passion for the glory of God is one of the key evidences of authentic faith. In fact, a yearning to see and perceive God's glory is perhaps the truest expression of saving faith and genuine love for God.
Even more, God's glory is the very reason why we were given passions in the first place!
In other words, not only is God's glory inherently worthy of all our affections, it's the very thing our affections were created for in the first place—and it's also the only thing that can ultimately satisfy our most basic urges and longings.

A lot of this life's sins and frustrations would be eliminated if we could just bear that in mind.
As I begin to stare-down 2011, I honestly would prefer a little less sin and frustration than I dealt with in 2010. So, if I were to venture one resolution for this year - though I do not really believe in them, well except for these - it would be to take some of my bizarre passions out back and beat 'em senseless. Then, come back to the living room and light a fire under the godly passion for His glory that His Spirit has graciously birthed in me. Christ created us and died on our behalf that we might rejoice in His glory. Let's not trade His gift for the bizarre delirium of the world.