My night with the Buddhists (in Pittsburgh)

This eve was interesting to say the least. West met the East, Grove City encountered the Buddha. Several members of my World Religions class went on a field trip to the Zen Center of Pittsburgh tonight. (it was Zen Buddhist) The priestess taught us how to and the purpose of meditation. It was honestly an attempt to try to convert us, and some students tried to convert them. Or at the least reveal their foolishness.

I spent the 10 minutes in meditation reciting Psalm 22, and focusing on the beauty of Christ. It was a great exercise in the Spiritual discipline of renewing our minds. At the conclusion, the priestess led in asking people what they got out of it. One girl remarked that she was at peace, and boy did the priestess latch on and following up, seeking to led this girl and others to a lie. Afterwards there was a short Q and A and here are the top questions.

What is the purpose of this [meditation]? To become more human.
What do they mean by this? Buddhists believe that every person has part of god within us, and to be human is to fully realize this. It is a skewed view of God and mankind all in one dose. It even effects their epistemology - how does one know things. But that is the next question.

Skewing #1 God: God is not within everyone or everything, this is pantheism. It makes no sense and does not and cannot answer the problem of good vs. evil.

Skewing #2 Man: Umm.. we are not God nor will we ever be. To claim so is robbing God of His glory and rebellion vs. the true king.

Is there ultimate truth or is truth up to the individual? Yes. That is all I will say.
Epistemology - How one is able to know things. Truth is whatever means to you. When you meditate you consider the things that matter most to you, and those things are different for every person. Priests and priestesses won't tell you what you need to learn - because your experience is different than theirs. Instead they are there to guide you. One knows truth by searching within oneself, emptying your mind and focusing on the. (purposefully ended with the.)

in their own words:
Dharma refers to the absolute truth or reality (as opposed to our ideas or beliefs about truth or reality) or to the teachings of those who have awakened to this. Buddhism is not a system of religious dogmas. Rather, it presents a way by which all can awaken to their own Buddha-nature. Buddha Shakyamuni's teaching states that the outstanding characteristic of the human situation is frustration, which arises because of our difficulty in accepting the basic fact of life that everything around us is impermanent and transitory. Our wish to divide the perceived world into fixed, individual, and separate things does not fit with the fluid and indefinable nature of reality. In manifesting enlightenment, one is freed from these notions.
Do you notice how self centered this is? Emptying ones mind to focus on the, to focus on you, to focus on whatever matters to you. There is not hope, there is no grace. How can one find freedom by looking to oneself? I know myself, I am a sinner and apart from Christ I would revel in that fact. Christianity offers love, grace, hope, joy, forgiveness, righteousness, justification, all that we might know and taste eternal life with the Creator. He is personal, not some impersonal force scattered throughout all of the creation - pantheism. No, Christ came to die for sinful mankind, He came to redeem us, to restore ourselves to God. We cannot do that by searching our hearts and minds, only discover a need for a savior.


Wednesday on Youtube

[HT Irish Calvinist]


Jesus Christ promised His disciples three things:
to know no fear,
to be absurdly happy,
and to be in constant trouble.

- GK Chesterson


This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness;
not health, but healing;
not being but becoming;
not rest but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it.
The process is not yet finished, but it is going on.
This is not the end, but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.

- Martin Luther


Weekend prayers and happenings

John Piper's granddaughter died as she came into this world this weekend. He writes about Felicity here. I love this man as he continually offers hope no matter in what situation. To quote one of my friends, "he is a pastor who truly lives up to his calling."

Had a good weekend with Jen, spent some time at Light of Life taping for my project this summer. Lord Willing it will be done in a few weeks. (yay)


There is a book coming out in about a month and a half that I have been anticipating for the past year. John Piper's conference last year, the Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern world is coming to a bookstore near you (or amazon.) I have all the promotional interviews on my computer and refer to Driscoll's and Keller's often.

here are two quotes.

I know this heading [“Gospel Humiliation”] sounds pretty strong, but I want to get your attention. In Jonah 3:1–2 we read, “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.’” In Sinclair Ferguson’s little book on Jonah [Man Overboard] he comments on the broken, humbled prophet who hears the second call to Nineveh and answers it. He says:

God intends to bring life out of death. We may well think of this as the principle behind all evangelism. Indeed we may even call it the Jonah principle, as Jesus seems to have done. . . . [I]t is out of Christ’s weakness that the sufficiency of his saving power will be born. . . . [So] fruitful evangelism is a result of this death-producing principle. It is when we come to share spiritually—and on occasions physically—in Christ’s death (cf. Phil. 3:10) that his power is demonstrated in our weakness and others are drawn to him. This is exactly what was happening to Jonah.

What does this mean? A man recently shared with me how he was trying to talk about his faith with his neighbors, to little avail. But then some major difficulties came into his life, and he began to let his neighbors know how Christ was helping him face them. They were quite interested and moved by this. It was the Jonah principle! As we experience weakness, as we are brought low, Christ’s power is more evident in us.

Lloyd-Jones once gave a sermon on Jacob’s wrestling with God. In the talk he told a story of a time when he was living in Wales. He was in a gathering of older ministers who were discussing a young minister with remarkable preaching gifts. This man was being acclaimed, and there was real hope that God could use him to renew and revive his church. The ministers were hopeful. But then one of them said to the others: “Well, all well and good, but you know, I don’t think he’s been humbled yet.” And the other ministers looked very grave. And it hit Lloyd-Jones hard (and it hit me hard) that unless something comes into your life that breaks you of your self-righteousness and pride, you may say you believe the gospel of grace but, as we said above, the penny hasn’t dropped. You aren’t a sign of the gospel yourself. You don’t have the Jonah principle working in you. You aren’t a strength-out-of-weakness person. God will have to bring you low if he is going to use you in evangelism.

(Tim Keller - Desiring God Blog)
To create a contemporary analogy: If I’m called to preach the gospel among a lot of people who are cultural teetotallers, I’ll give up alcohol for the sake of the gospel. But if they start saying, “You cannot be a Christian and drink alcohol,” I’ll reply, “Pass the port” or “I’ll think I’ll have a glass of Beaujolais with my meal.” Paul is flexible and therefore prepared to circumcise Timothy when the exclusive sufficiency of Christ is not at stake and when a little cultural accommodation will advance the gospel; he is rigidly inflexible and therefore refuses to circumcise Titus when people are saying that Gentiles must be circumcised and become Jews to accept the Jewish Messiah.
(DA Carson to Mark Driscoll - Between Two Worlds)


The Great Mission

"You cannot understand the church unless you understand the mission of the church." (Taken from the Acts 29 Network blog.) Continuing that thought... We cannot understand what God has called us to do unless we understand how God called us. He called us before time began to be His children, which was accomplished upon the cross by His Son, Jesus Christ. His Birth, life, death and resurrection were all for us. How he lived - is for us. Christ poured out His love and life for those who were spiritually sick, He came to help sinners with the message of eternal life. I can elaborate on this more, but to sum up, God called us through the Good News. (We deserve Hell, yet God sent His Son to heal those who believe in Him)

What is the Mission of the Church?
Christ states it plainly with the great commission, "Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you." The purpose of the church first and foremost is to win souls, to preach the gospel wherever and whenever to all people. Secondly the goal of the church is to disciple (teach and train) all who are baptized, that they may be like Jesus.

Every man and woman who professes Jesus Christ as their Lord (Romans 10:9) is part of the family of God, the Bride of Christ, the church. This commission, Jesus gave to every person in the church. No one is excluded from the gentle demands Christ made on our lives. While the world yells, You Hypocrites! Christ will hold all his people accountable to the mission that He laid before us. Which is daunting, yet His 'grace is sufficient for you.' It is a joy to carry the message of Christ - that He died, lived and ascended that we would have eternity with the Father. To tell the world that Christ loves us because He loves us, even when we rebelled against Him.

"We are more sinful than we could have ever realized, but we are more loved than we could have ever imagined." Tim Keller (paraphrase)


In Cyberspace today...

I discovered some really sweet things.  

RTS offers a myriad of their courses online, and are of extreme value (i.e. John Frame's Apologetics class).  As does Covenant Theological Seminary with Covenant Worldwide - they only offer 20 courses but it is fantastic.  You can get them through iTunes University.  Combine both seminary's apologetics class lectures and you have a great class. 

Mark Driscoll is writing more books.  

I'm wrestling with Piper's statement, "The greatest sin that was ever committed in the history of the world... was planned by God, namely the death of His Son." [HT: Pure Church] 

On the Desiring God Blog... 
If it's our inclination to deny church membership to genuine believers, we should put ourselves in the shoes of the one being rejected, and make our decision from that perspective. If we feel loved and accepted in our church, we are hardly the ones who have the right to say that being shunned is no big deal because we can still be united in Christ. You will not feel "united" with other believers when you live your life trying to be in fellowship with them and they continue to refuse to accept you as a member.  [read the whole thing]


Salvation: To live is Christ

It is a lovely and blustery Irish day here at Grove City, and colds to go around if you are interested.

Lately one thing caught my attention, it is a subject that I ignored months ago when reading Beeke's Overcoming the World, it is our union with Christ. it is an awesome thought. The truth that our identity is found in Christ, and that Christ's identity was found in us is awesome. God loved us, His people, so much that He sent His son to become the God-Man just to pay the price for our sins to ensure our salvation. The redemption from our sins. God, the Father, saw the Son, Jesus Christ as a sinner. His identity was ours. My sins were beaten on that cross, God's holiness demands that. Romans 6 is clear that by our baptism we are united to Christ's death and resurrection. But our salvation does not stop at the cross, God moves on to the resurrection. And this is where our salvation becomes even more awesome. It pleased God to give His people new life. I tell you, I am one of the greatest sinners I know, and Scripture refers to me as a harlot. (Hosea) Christ, God the Son died for my sins, and in his resurrection I have new life. I can say NO! to sin, temptation and Satan, because I am dead to them.

the Psalmist declared, "As far as east from west is distant, He has put away our sins." When God looked at Christ upon that cross - He saw my sins. Now, when He looks at me - He sees Christ. "To live is Christ, to die is Gain."


One Way.

In a world of idolatry, and when people do whatever is right in their eyes, the gospel of Christ faces extreme pressure to relax the message of Christ. Often we Christians are told to tolerate other people, to love people and their sins. We are called to coexist, as a popular bumper sticker puts it. But that is not the message of the gospel. The good news is when the holy God shows grace, forgiveness, compassion to His creation that is in rebellion against Him.

This relaxation in proclaiming the gospel manifests itself in two unbiblical ways: pluralism (all roads lead to heaven), and inclusivism: (that people are saved by Christ figures whether it be in Hinduism, Islam or Aslan). Pluralism is easily dismissed as unbiblical. Yet, some popular Christians advocate an inclusivist gospel. Particularly my favorite writer, CS Lewis.

But neither of this is the good news. Christ tells His disciples that the way to eternal life and joy is narrow, an exclusive and particular word. Not everybody walks down this narrow path. Christ came to die for my sins, to give me new life, restore meaning and purpose to life. I am not working for the money, instead I live for the purpose of the gospel, I serve other people for the gospel. “Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Him.” Romans 10 lays it out quite clearly that no one is saved outside the preaching of the good news. The tone of the passage is desperate and urgent out of a passion for Christ’s love.

To close, JI Packer responds to the question, "Might it not be true of the follower of some other religion that the God of all mercy had worked in his heart by His Spirit, bringing Him in some measure to realize his sin and need for forgiveness, and enabling him, in his twilight as it were, to throw himself on God's mercy?" (he answers yes.)

"If we are wise we shall not spend much time mulling over this notion. Our job, after all is to spread the gospel, not to guess what might happen to those whom it never reaches. Dealing with them is God's business... In the meantime, let us keep befoer our minds humanity's universal need of forgiveness and new birth, and the graciousness of the whosoever will invitations of the gospel. And let us redouble our efforts to make known the Christ who saves all who come to God by Him." pg 54 of JI Packer Answers Questions for Today.


The reason that postmoderns end up with a purely individualized sense of truth is, "that the fascination with what is changing is proving more compelling than considerations about what is not changing, and what is in flux seems to offer a more immediate access to the postmodern soul than what is stable. The problem, of course, is that so many in the postmodern world have become addicts to change and their appetite for it is no panacea for the gospel. It is in the soil of our bored lives that fads and fashions sprout, each one suggesting something new, something different , something that is riding the crest of a wave of what is "in," or some new potential for us just coming into sight. This is true, not only of cars and clothes, music and hangouts, but of belief and behavior too. The adaptions which so many evangelicals are willing to make to this mood, I believe, are adaptions, not to what is innocent and inevitable, but to what is sick and deformed. These postmoderns proclivities should be challenges, not weakly accepted."

- David Wells in Only One Way?


why are there so many gods?

"Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you." St. Augustine quipped in his Confessions centuries ago. He unearthed a jewel that Paul and Christ both preached. In Romans 1 Paul notes that every man, woman, and child are created with the innate sense of God. Which John Calvin called the "divine sense." Mankind has this massive God-shaped hole in our hearts and we will look anywhere for something to fill it. Our hearts are idol factories, producing new and old substitutes for trusting in Christ. We can learn many lessons from Christ's encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, the firstmost being that: we will look anywhere for a shepherd other than the true shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Man, naturally, need god, they need fulfillment and purpose (which they will turn everywhere for - money, sports, lust, etc.) That is one of the most pressing questions of this and every age. But only Christ can satisfy any longing, lack of purpose or fulfillment. It is only in Christ that meaning, purpose and salvation from our sins and this world is found. And everyday that He gives us is a gift from God where we have another day to preach His gospel of redemption, not only of man but also of a new heavens and a new earth.


the beginning of school and the world religions

The past few days and weeks have been crazy as school is now back into full swing. Dr. Duguid gave us a quiz the first class session this past Wednesday - we are now into Biblical Hebrew Readings, aka lots of translating. (lots). By the end of the semester I'll have all the psalms of Ascent, 1 Kings 16-19, and Esther translated. I love it! There is only three of us in the class.

Other classes I am taking:
- Courtship and Marriage
- Volleyball
- Intro to Ministry
- Augustine and Aquinas
- World Religions

In the coming week I hope to be posting some reflections from Augustine and Aquinas, and World Religions. I am really enjoying that class and will have to do a presentation on Taoism and the Chinese religions. I am not stopping my study on church government, so if you have thoughts please let me know, instead I am focusing on my studies right now. Beginning with a theological examination of why there are religions (aka idolatry), how that impacts our evangelism, then moving on to consider how sad and lost the other 'world religions' are (vs. Christianity.) This will lay the groundwork for apologetics. (which along with Evangelism is where my heart is at.)