Tuesday, December 18, 2007
1. Baby Paul's grave
2. Sweet tea at every restaurant
3. Our friends
4. The people of Farmdale Baptist Church and their great kindness
5. The Derby festivities
6. Norton Suburban Hospital and Dr. Griffin
7. Lightening Bugs (are these in Chicago?)
8. The Louisville Bats
10. The beautiful campus of Southern Seminary
11. 2 malls next door to each other, 10 minutes away
12. No traffic
13. Our home
14. No crowds
15. The Ohio River
16. The Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic Clearance Center
17. The GREEN
18. The great parks
19. The rivalry between UofL and UK, of which I will never completely understand how deeply it runs.
20. Thursday night "The Office" night with the Clarks (feelin hot, hot, hot ;)
21. Monday night BS (Bible Study)
We have grown to appreciate and enjoy this city for the reasons above and many more. We will miss it, but look forward to the new adventure! We'd appreciate your prayers during this transition. We will miss you, our dear friends, who have been through much with us. Thanks for the memories!
Sunday, December 09, 2007
I encourage you to look through this blog and read this amazing and inspiring story. At some point read the post from January where Addie's mom explains her birth and their first month of discovering the challenges they would face. Then go on from there, and see the grace of God at work. You will be blessed.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Okay, I think I can officially say that Hope is walking now. We had music night at church tonight, and sat in the back with Hope, knowing it would probably not last too long, and one of us would have to go play with her in the nursery. Well, she took off walking down the aisle towards the front! It was so cute to my little mommy heart. I was so proud! She was pretty proud of herself too. She still holds on to stuff when possible, but is mostly walking. Way to go, Hopey!
Monday, November 12, 2007
Christmas is around the corner, and I'm sure many of you are wondering what to get that special little girl in your life. Let me tell you, as a mom, bows are a great gift! Here's an opportunity to get a little Christmas shopping done in advance.
Beginning today, until midnight November 18, 2007, you are all entitled to a special Blog Reader's discount over at Brilliant Bows. As a blog reader, if you spend $10.00 or more (pre-shipping), you get one Classic bow, color of your choice, free! If you pair that with our regular November special (spend $15.00 and get 1 Suzanne bow free), then you get 2 bows free. Here's how to participate in the special: During checkout, in the "comments" section, use the code LOUISVILLEMARK, and then state your choice of color for your free bow!
The offer will end midnight November 18th. Thanks!
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
1. Who is your man? Mark C. Rogers
2. How long have you been together? Married for 3 1/2, and in a relationship 5 1/2 - crazy, I know.
3. How long did you date? 2 years almost exactly.
4. How old is your man? 27! He's so old!
5. Who eats more? Mark eats more at one sitting, but I might rival him if we spread it out throughout the day.
6. Who said "I love you" first? He did.
7. Who is taller? That's a tough one... just kiddin. He is by about a foot and 3 inches.
8. Who sings better? I think Mark does. It is a common occurrance for the people sitting in front of us in churches to turn around and tell him he has a good voice and that he should join the choir :)
9. Who is smarter? Mark is way smarter - he is so sharp. He's a pretty good logical thinker. I've learned a lot from him in this area I think. I could never do the amount of studying and thinking that he's about to do up at Trinity!
10. Whose temper is worse? Mine. I don't think he has much of one. He does get pretty riled up in discussions, but not because he's mad, he just loves discussions.
11. Who does the laundry? I do.
12. Who takes out the garbage? I put it out on the porch and Mark usually takes it down to the dumpster. One time we put the garbage out on the porch and we had forgotten that the people who come by to get your used clothes were coming. Needless to say, they took our garbage and drove off with it in their truck. We felt bad, but it was pretty funny too. :)
13. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? Facing it, Mark does.
14. Who pays the bills? Mark. I always told him when I was a stay at home mom I would take over, but it hasn't happened yet. I don't think he minds doing it anyway. At first I didn't do it because I don't think he wanted me to see how little we had when we first moved here! :)
15. Who is better with the computer? I think he is. But I am a faster typer :)
16. Who mows the lawn? No lawn to mow, but if we did, I would think Mark would - I have never mowed a lawn in my life.
17. Who cooks dinner? I do.
18. Who drives when you are together? Mark does. He doesn't even let me drive on long trips.
19. Who pays when you go out? Mark does, and I always tell him thank you :)
20. Who is most stubborn? We are both pretty stubborn, but I think I am probably more so.
21. Who is the first to admit when they are wrong? He is. He is really good at this, and it makes me want to improve on it. It goes back to my stubborness. He is always so quick to forgive too - he never holds grudges.
22. Whose parents do you see the most? Its pretty 50/50.
23. Who kissed who first? He kissed me first.
24. Who asked who out? He asked me if I wanted to go get a drink after he got out of church on a Sunday night ;) We went to Applebees.
25. Who proposed? He did - on Newport Beach after eating at one of our favorites - BJ's.
26. Who is more sensitive? We are sensitive in different areas. I am moreso, but I am thankful that I married a somewhat sensitive man.
27. Who has more friends? I do.
28. Who has more siblings? He does - 2 - Kevin and Philip. I have one sister - Robin Dayle.
29. Who wears the pants in the family? We both wear pants, but he is our fearless leader :)
30. What's your favorite thing about your man? Tough question - One of my favorites is that he is so committed to being a great hubby and dad. He loves to spend time with us, and makes sure we get good, frequent quality time, even though he gets so busy with work and school. I also love that he can make me laugh often. I like that he knows more about most everything than I do, and that he knows the answer to most of my questions - he's a smarty! He is a great man, and I am so thankful that God joined our lives together. I really couldn't have dreamed up someone this great to marry!
Now, I tag... JZ, Kim Imai, and Tracy Allbright
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
James Dobson and a few others recently came out saying that if it ends up being between 2 pro-choice candidates, they will rally behind a 3rd independent pro-life candidate. They said they will never vote for a pro-choice candidate. Justin Taylor wrote a good blog post weighing both sides of the issue. What do you think?
Friday, September 28, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
This past weekend, John Piper's granddaughter Felicity, was stillborn full-term. The scene and descriptions of the events that took place, the deep sadness, are familiar. Today was her funeral, and below is what Piper said. It is sweet and a reminder to focus on the great Hope that we can have in such tragedies.
I didn’t know Felicity Margaret. My experience of her life was entirely through other people for nine months. And my experience of her death, even though it was physically immediate and touchable, has been emotionally experienced almost entirely through other people.
So at this moment, what it means for me to be Felicity’s grandfather is that I am living this loss almost entirely through other people’s experience of this loss. And because of my love for all these people, there is a powerful sweetness in this pain.
Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have tasted her loss through my daughters-in-law, her aunts Shelly, Melissa, and Lesley. The measure of her worth and the greatness of her loss have been written on your faces, and they are the more beautiful for it.
Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt her loss in the shattered expectation of her aunt Talitha, my daughter. It was not easy to go to school on Monday. But you and Mommy made a good plan with the school counselor to inform the teachers and students. And now, in a way you never expected, your heart is knit together with Dasia whose little brother Zach was killed by the dog a month ago.
Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt her loss through her uncles and my sons Karsten, Benjamin, and Barnabas. I broke the news to each of you and watched all your plans change. You are good brothers to each other. And I cannot tell you how much I love the tears and embraces of strong men.
Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt her loss through her grandmother, my wife Noël. Strange and wonderful. Your tears came slowly and have increased. Mine came quickly and have decreased. Almost the story of our lives. Thank you for knitting Felicity’s blanket, and weeping as you decided to give it to her anyway.
Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt the loss through her mother, my daughter-in-law Molly. For her entire life she depended on you more than anyone. You fed her, you cleansed her, you supported her, you protected her, you knew her better than anyone. The grace that God has given you to love her greatly and let her go is amazing. Christ is on display in your life.
Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt the loss through her father, my son Abraham. The words from Saturday morning’s phone call are cut into my heart, “Daddy, we lost the baby.” Nothing, Abraham, has gone deeper inside of me than your loss.
Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt the loss through her great grandfather, my father Bill Piper. And this experience is totally different from all the others. In this case, the loss is all gain. My father died six months and sixteen days before Felicity did. I believe the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ covers the sins of all who trust him and all who are not old enough to trust him here but will trust him later. Therefore, I believe Felicity and her great grandfather met each other early Sunday morning in the presence of Christ. And my father said, perhaps, “Hello, Felicity. I’m your great grandfather Piper. Come, there is somebody I want you to meet. His name is Jesus. He’s the reason you’re here. You don’t need to be afraid. Your Savior has led you all the way. And Jesus does all things well.”
Monday, September 24, 2007
The main reason for going to Chicago was to see a Cubs game - it was great!
In June Auntie Sherry came out to visit! We took a very fun trip to Nashville for a night and stayed in the Opryland Hotel.
In June we also went to Northern California to see Mark's family. Here is Hope with some 1st and 2nd cousins and her Great Grandma Franklin.
At the end of July Mark got to go see our new nephew Andrew, and our "old" nephew Luke. Not to mention Phil and Jill and a whole lot of other people too.
Hope turned one on August 3rd. We already put up pictures of that so I thought I'd share this one - she's so sweet!
In the beginning of September we took a trip to Orange Beach, Alabama. It was so fun to take a trip just the 3 of us. The beach there is perfect. We did a lot of relaxing. Hope did not like the sand or water so we didn't have to chase her around too much :)
We love it when she makes this face!
My favorite picture from the beach :)
And finally, Hope's first little pig tail. Thanks for looking at our pictures and to all of you who helped to make this a great summer!
Monday, September 17, 2007
Last night the church held an appreciation dinner for my parents as my dad prepares to retire. I was not able to be there, but here is the letter that Stephanie and I sent. I think it expresses a bit of the blessing my parents have been to me and to the church they love.
To First Baptist Church, Dunsmuir:
We wish we could be there today to honor my parents as my Dad retires from the pastorate at 1st Baptist Church. Even though I am absent I wanted to share a few things.
Before I talk about my Dad I want to say thank you to my Mom. While she never got paid, and was rarely recognized I know how much she served and blessed the church these past 29 years. She did not try to fit into a certain image. Instead she sought to faithfully use the many gifts God has given her and to be faithful to Him. Her support of my Dad, love for the people of the church, ministry to women and children, and generous hospitality blessed the church in immeasurable ways. You may be able to find a pastor as good as my Dad, but I think it will be impossible to find a pastor’s wife that matches my Mom.
Now about my Dad. For 29 years he pastored in Dunsmuir. As his son I was there for 18 of those years and got to hear the preaching as well as see behind the scenes. As I watched I learned a few things about him and his ministry.
First, he preached the Bible because he believes it is God’s word, and he thinks that God’s opinion matters more than anyone else’s.
Second, he preached the word diligently. He didn’t just preach his opinion, or talk about the same things every week. He worked hard to grow and learn more about God and His word. I remember how there was always a book or two sitting next to Dad’s chair. And I remember many trips to the Christian book store in Redding to buy a new book or commentary. He didn’t preach on the same thing every week or repeat old sermons. He worked hard to prepare, then he stood each Sunday morning prepared to explain and apply God’s word. His desire to learn and grow helped give me a hunger for knowledge and blessed those he ministered to.
Third, he preached the word reverently. I don’t remember him ever eating breakfast on Sunday mornings. I do remember him pacing the floor each Sunday as we prepared to go to church. I think he was always at least a little nervous as he got ready to proclaim God’s word. He took his task seriously. Every Sunday was a big event, and every time he stood to preach he knew it was important. He never got used to the privilege and calling God had given him. I learned a lot from my Dad’s reverence for the preaching of the word.
Fourth, my dad loved ministry. He wasn’t just a preacher, he was a pastor. He loved Vacation Bible School and Children’s Camp. He enjoyed teaching children about Jesus, and meeting with them before they were baptized. He thrived in small groups leading discussions about God’s word. He loved the people in his church. My Dad taught me that the church isn’t just an organization to lead; it is a family to love. I know he loves you, and I know he loves God. I saw it first hand.
Mom and Dad: Thank you for serving Jesus, thank you for loving His church, thank you for preaching His word. I am blessed to be your son.
Mark and Stephanie and Hope Rogers
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
The boys were having a difficult time grasping the point of this map of many colors. As I walked away I heard one of them say, “Aren’t there a lot of rainforests there?” I laughed a little and then flashed back to my fourth grade year in school. Mrs. Keeler was my favorite teacher up to that point, and maybe ever. I liked her mostly because she shared my love for the Giants. In addition to her love for the Giants, she loved the earth. She taught us about the rainforests: where they were, where they weren’t, and where they might not be in a few years unless we took action. So we started the Save the Earth Club! This was a cutting edge group of like-minded 10 year olds determined to buy at least one acre of the rainforest before the end of the school year. We had a bake sale, and bought our little piece of property near the equator. Or at least we gave the money to an organization that said we had saved an acre of the earth.
So I guess I was green before it was cool. Now the rainforests are the least of our worries, as we are told the whole earth is rapidly nearing a boil. Global warming has more than just 10 year olds concerned, as thousands of recyclers and carpoolers join together to form their own Save the Earth Club.
At the heart of our culture’s passion to cool the world, I believe there is a deeper God-given desire. We all want to save the earth. We all know deep down there is something very wrong, and that there is a very bad ending in the future unless we do something. The problem is that we too often suppress the truth about what that ending will be, and what we need to do to save the earth. The truth is that the wrath of God is coming upon every person on the earth. Our biggest problem is not excessive emissions or gas guzzling cars. No, our problem is that we are in rebellion against the One who made the earth. The only way to save the earth is to tell people about a humble Carpenter who took the wrath of God on Himself when He was executed 2000 years ago on a cross. In Christ we find our only happy ending.
So when we hear Mrs. Keeler or Al Gore tell us we can help save the earth by bringing some fresh brownies on Friday or using florescent light bulbs, we dive in and do our part. Hopefully we can preserve the forests and keep the earth cool. But I am thankful for RA teachers who try to teach boys not just where the rainforests are, but where the people are and what Jesus has done for those people. I hope we will also listen to people like that, and dive in and do our part. For what good would it be to gain the whole earth if we lose our own souls?
[By the way, Al Gore's view of global warming is not quite the consensus we are sometimes led to believe. Check out this summary of opposition to the doomsday predictions by dozens of scientists, including many publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Also, see this article about scientists' predictions of global cooling in Newsweek from 1975, and this follow-up in 2006. Some even recommended pouring soot on the polar ice caps to melt them and help keep the earth warm.]
"I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please.
Not too much – just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted.
I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust.
I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and
contemplate missionary service in some alien culture.
I want ecstasy, not repentance;
I want transcendence, not transformation.
I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t
want to love those from different races – especially if they smell.
I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not
so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged.
I would like about three dollars worth of the gospel, please." (pp. 12-13)
HT: Justin Taylor
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Hope deciding what she wants for dinner at Buckhead.
If anyone can guess what Robin's doing in this picture, you get a copy of it. :)
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Where: Sacramento, California
When: October 12 - October 13 (begins Friday evening, and ends Saturday at 1pm.
How Much: $30
Why: John Piper, and more importantly the truth he proclaims, is one of God's gifts to our generation. To read his books is to be drawn to the the greatness of God and the convinced as to the smallness of pursuing anything other than the glory of Christ. I have heard him in person several times. Hearing him speak in person about what God takes pleasure in is worth a day off work, a long drive, and a night in a hotel. I promise you will leave the conference not talking about John Piper, but about how amazing God is. I won't be going, since I live in Kentucky. But if you end up going, let me know how it was. And if you don't go, buy The Pleasures of God and read it. It is only $9.50, and you can even read the first three chapters online for free.
Here is the invitation from Desiring God:
You don’t truly know someone until you know what makes them happy. So it is with God. We can only know the greatness of his glory if we know what makes him glad. Therefore, we must understand the pleasures of God.
At the Desiring God 2007 Regional Conference, John Piper will navigate the biblical evidence to help us see and savor what the pleasures of God show us about him, so that we can become more like him. This is not a conference about you. It’s about the one you were made for—God himself.
Please join us October 12-13 in Sacramento, California.
Monday, August 13, 2007
I will also continue to work at my church. I am preaching through the life of David on Sunday mornings along with my senior pastor. And starting this Sunday I am teaching a class on Sunday nights called "The Story of Christianity." It is basically a survey of Christianity from AD 30 to today. So other than Greek and Hebrew, much of my study will be on David and Christian history. If I am still awake at the end of the day, I'll post some of what I learn or think or wonder about these topics here. If I fall asleep pictures of Hope will be the norm, and you will all probably enjoy this blog much more.
Right now I am reading J. N. D. Kelly's Early Christian Doctrines, Bruce Shelley's Church History in Plain Language, Douglas Moo's Commentary on James (Pillar series), and a Catholic commentary on James from the Sacra Pagina series. What are you reading? What classes are you taking or teaching?
Friday, August 10, 2007
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
The change wrought by the Holy Spirit does not end when a person embraces the gospel. In fact it has just begun. The Spirit’s work is not a one time thing. The sense of the heart not only enables a person to see and believe the gospel, but it is also “maintained by the Spirit of God, in the hearts of the saints, whereby they are in like manner led and guided in discerning and distinguishing the true spiritual and holy beauty of actions” (209). The birth of holy affections causes a person to see and delight in the beauty of God’s holiness, and also causes him to see and pursue the beauty of practical holiness. If someone truly delights in the holy beauty of God he will also delight in holy beauty of a given action. The point is that the birth of holy affections necessarily leads to holy behavior. In fact, Edwards believes this point so strongly he writes, “It is manifest that Christian practice, or a holy life, is a great and distinguishing sign of true and saving grace. But I may go further and assert that it is the chief of the signs of grace” (327).
At first appearance it seems odd that in a work entitled Religious Affections, in which Edwards meticulously argues for the significance of right affections in discerning true religion, that he would conclude by submitting actions as the greatest test of grace in the soul. However, this apparent contradiction is obliterated by a proper understanding of the relationship between the affections and the will. Edwards explains, “The affections are no other than the more vigorous and sensible exercises of the inclination and will of the soul” (24). And later he writes, “The Author of the human nature has not only given affections to men, but has made them very much the spring of men’s actions” (29). A man’s affections determine his will, and thus his actions. So examining the actions of a man is a valid way to discern his affections.
When faced with a choice, a person will always choose what he desires the most, or finds most valuable (see his still foundational work, Freedom of the Will). So it is in the day to day choices of men where the affections of the heart become most visible. Over time the Christian will demonstrate he has holy affections by an increasingly holy practice. For example, “If we see a man who in the course of his life seems to follow and imitate Christ, and greatly to exert and deny himself for the honour of Christ, and to promote His kingdom and interest in the world; reason teaches that this is an evidence of love to Christ” (330). On the other hand, if a man demonstrates by his lifestyle a disregard for Christ’s example and a selfish and prideful attitude, it is foolish to believe he is possessor of gracious affections. The true object of a person’s affections becomes most clear when he is forced to choose between Christ and sin. If one repeatedly chooses sin, he has no ground for assurance. But through consistently holy practice a Christian demonstrates the fruit of holy affections, and has reliable grounds for assurance.
There is a lot more I can say about this, and wish I could. Basically love for God includes necessarily love for His holy moral character, and if we truly love His moral character, we will desire to imitate His holiness and obey His gracious commands. I hope you will be encouraged to read the book.
Monday, August 06, 2007
More pictures to come! It's been a good 1st birthday time for all of us.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
"Three Cheers for Little Hopey!"
God's love is wise,
His plans devise
A home so filled with joy.
He had a plan,
It all began
With the Love
Of a girl and a boy.
Then one day
God did say
And you were here.
As Daddy's eyes
Filled up with tears,
The heavens filled with cheers.
Three cheers for little Hopey,
Daddy's little girl.
Your smiles remind
There is behind
God's hand a gracious will.
Today you'll open presents,
But the greatest gift is you.
Today we plan to celebrate
Last year's big debut!
Saturday, July 28, 2007
So if holy affections are to be born, a major change must take place in the soul. A new sense of things must be obtained. New spiritual sight to see the glory of the gospel is necessary if holy affections are to be born. But sinners cannot give themselves spiritual sight. Instead, “they have that supernatural, most noble and divine sense given them,” by the Spirit of God (188). The birth of holy affections is a supernatural work. Edwards says of this process, “A saving belief of the reality and divinity of the things proposed and exhibited to us in the gospel, is from the Spirit of God’s enlightening the mind and causing it to have right apprehensions of the nature of [the gospel]” (222).
This enlightening of the mind by God is what happens during regeneration (being born again). The Spirit of God illumines the mind in such a way that it is able to perceive the spiritual reality of divine things and to see God for who He really is. This is a profound work described in the Bible as “opening the blind eyes, and raising the dead, and bringing a person into a new world” (200). When this supernatural work occurs, the intrinsic beauty of God becomes obvious to the heart of the sinner. He is able to see the glory of God in the gospel and is moved in his heart to embrace it. Holy affections have been born through the imparting of a new spiritual sense by the Spirit of God. The gracious work of the Spirit is always accompanied by holy affections.
This is why it is possible to hear the gospel over and over again. And then one day the lights come on and a person believes and comes to Christ. Dr. Morgan, a college professor of mine, used to describe it with the following illustration. Imagine being placed in the middle of a room with a blindfold. In one corner is fresh, great smelling pizza. In the other corner is millions of dollars. You are told to chose which corner you would like to go to. The blindfolded person will be drawn to the pizza. But when the blinders are taken off, the person will choose the millions of dollars every time. Once reality is seen correctly, God is obviously the most glorious and worthy person in the universe. This is why Paul, in 2 Cor. 4 talked of those who don't receive the gospel being blinded by Satan. We need to present the glory of God in Christ, manifested in the gospel, and pray that God will open blind eyes so they will see and sense the magnificence of Christ, and come to Him.
Friday, July 27, 2007
The Nature of Holy Affections
The only way to tell the difference between true and false affections is to understand the nature of holy (true) affections. According to Edwards, holy and gracious affections consist primarily in the heart’s love of, and delight in God Himself. He states, “Every one that has the power of godliness in his heart has his inclinations and heart exercised towards God and divine things” (29). These affections cause the believer to desire more of God and to turn away from anything that keeps him from his soul’s delight (repentance). Gracious affections are only present if the heart is inclined toward God above all else.
The foundation of Edwards’s understanding of holy affections is the belief that God is glorious. God’s beauty is infinitely greater than any other being. He is infinite in both His moral and natural attributes. He is righteous, just, merciful, gracious, and loving. His perfect holiness makes Him objectively lovely and the proper object of all human affections. Love toward God is not a difficult duty that a Christian must remind himself to carry out. It is a natural reaction to the nature of God, when God is clearly seen. Edwards puts it this way, “A love to divine things for the beauty of their moral excellency is the beginning and spring of all holy affections” (182). Holy affections flow from a right apprehension of the objective beauty of God’s holiness. The true Christian recognizes God’s beauty, is drawn to it, and chooses it above all competitors.
In order for a person to be drawn to God’s holiness and choose it, he must perceive it. But holiness is not perceived through the five senses. Edwards asserts that instead, the glory of God must be seen through the understanding. There are two different types of understanding, notional and sensory or spiritual. Edwards explains, “There is a distinction to be made between a mere notional understanding, wherein the mind only beholds things in the exercise of a speculative faculty, and the sense of the heart, wherein the mind does not only speculate and behold but relishes and feels” (198). This second type of understanding, “the sense of the heart” is what is able to perceive and value the beauty of God’s holiness. Edwards illustrates this spiritual sense by pointing to the physical sense of taste. Someone may gain knowledge of honey by looking at it and hearing others describe its attributes. But it is only when one tastes the honey that the glory of its flavor is experienced. At the moment of tasting, the true value of the honey becomes clear. In the same way, a person can learn a lot about God’s holiness through mere notional understanding (head knowledge). Many facts of His character can be understood and affirmed. But it is only when God’s holiness is tasted with the spiritual sense of the heart, that His true beauty and worth becomes clear. When God’s beauty is clearly sensed by the heart, then holy affections automatically flow toward God.
It is important to note that the sensing of the heart, or spiritual understanding, is not disconnected from the mind. This is an especially important point for our day. People do not just “feel close to God,” or “sense His presence” in some mystical, non-rational way. The beauty of God is primarily seen in the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is imparted through the Bible. Knowledge of the gospel (the life, death, and resurrection of Christ) is necessary for holy affections. When the mind receives the “light of the glorious gospel of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4), then the heart is able to behold God’s glory seen in the gospel. In 2 Corinthians 4:6 Paul calls this gospel “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” Edwards says, “Knowledge is the key that first opens the hard heart, and enlarges the affections, and so opens the way for men into the kingdom of heaven” (192). So if we want to fan the flame of holy affections in our heart, we should be filling our minds with the gospel found throughout the Bible.
The understanding cannot be bypassed by the heart. The heart will never taste the beauty of God’s holiness apart from the mind’s cognitive beholding the gospel of Christ. Edwards explains, “Holy affections are not heat [heart] without light [head/knowledge]; but evermore arise from the information of the understanding, some spiritual instruction that the mind receives, some light or actual knowledge” (192). So while the sense of the heart is much more than mere head knowledge, it is connected to and flows from the mind. Holy affections rise as the heart perceives and loves the beauty of God in “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).
Edwards is warning against two kinds of errors that are easy to fall into. First, sometimes we think if we get the facts (theology) right then we are truly Christians. But we fail to ask if we love the Christ described in our theology. Do we find Him compelling? Do we worship Him? Do we love Him? Second, other times we error by equating all emotional responses with love for God. A great feeling after a song set that is devoid of the gospel is not an indicator that we love Christ. A mystical attraction to the beauty of high church liturgy, or low church tradition, is not parallel with an attraction to the glory of Christ. The glory of Christ is not found in candles, icons, lighting or lack thereof, praise songs, or the hymnal melodies you grew up on. It is found in the “light of the glorious gospel of Christ.” The true Christian has a heart that loves and is drawn to the glory of God, seen primarily in the person and work of Jesus Christ. In the next post I will talk about how we come to have that kind of heart.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Once affections are accepted as an essential part of true religion, it does not suddenly become simple to discern the presence of true religion in a heart. During the Great Awakening there were many who recognized all manifestations of fervent religious affections as signs of grace. These advocates of emotional expression were labeled “enthusiasts” by some of their opponents. Edwards cautions against their undiscerning acceptance. He points out that all religious affections are not created equal. “There are false affections, and there are true. A man’s having much affection, does not prove that he has any true religion” (50).
In Part Two of Religious Affections, Edwards describes twelve displays of affections that are often falsely looked upon as sure signs of true religion. These twelve neutral signs display Edwards’ excellent pastoral discernment. The first point in the section is that “it is no sign one way or the other that religious affections are very great, or raised very high” (54). The second unreliable sign is the effect of emotion upon the body. It is clear that Edwards is not advocating a shallow emotionalism or enthusiasm. The nature of affections, rather than the intensity of them, is of primary importance. Other neutral signs include great zeal in religious duties, much religious talk, powerful testimonies of conversion, the appearance of love, or a high degree of confidence. All of these affections are inconclusive in determining the presence of grace in the soul. They neither prove a person is a Christian, nor do they demonstrate he is not. These neutral signs may flow from the heart of a true Christian, or they may be incited by other sources, such as the general or preparatory work of the Holy Spirit, or from Satan.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Edwards was uniquely qualified to construct an answer to this question. Religious Affections demonstrates his extensive study and reflection upon the Scriptures, as well as his keen reasoning abilities. However, this was not merely an academic exercise for Edwards. He was a pastor entrusted with a large New England congregation. His views were refined and sharpened in a local church laboratory of the First Great Awakening, as well as the polemics that accompanied the great revival. These factors enabled him to write a constructive theology of the nature of true Christianity that is still important and applicable today. People are still asking, “How can I know if my Christianity is real? How do I gain assurance of salvation? What should the real thing look like?” Over the next few days I plan to describe and analyze the way Edwards discerned true from false religion in his book Religious Affections, and to apply some of his insights specifically to the issue of assurance of salvation in the contemporary church. These posts will be an adaptation of a paper I wrote a couple of years ago.
The Centrality of the Affections in True Religion
Edwards believed that a primary way to determine if a person is a Christian is to examine his or her affections. He wrote, “True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections” (23). At this point we should define a couple of words that Edwards uses a lot, religion, and affections. When he says religion he is not speaking of dry formalism. True religion means true Christian experience with God. Edwards defines the affections as “the faculty by which the soul does not behold things as an indifferent unaffected spectator, but either as liking or disliking, pleased or displeased, approving or rejecting” (24). Affections are not the same as our modern evangelical notion of warm fuzzies and emotions that sometimes accompany worship experiences (I will explain this more fully in a couple of days). While affections are connected to the understanding of the mind, they are much more than just perception or head knowledge. They concern what a person loves and hates; what he is inclined to and repulsed from. They are the mind’s judgment of an object’s value or worth. It is in this inclination of heart that the work of God’s saving grace are most apparent.
In Part One of Religious Affections Edwards demonstrates that the Bible does not present Christianity as merely a disinterested belief and obedience, but instead as a life filled with holy affections. He writes, “There must be light in the understanding as well as an affected fervent heart” (49). True Christianity is not just head knowledge. Doctrinal orthodoxy is easily affirmed by the unregenerate (unsaved), but holy affections are impossible for them. He backs up his claim with a multitude of Scripture passages and arguments. These arguments include the fact that the Bible regularly emphasizes the presence of affections such as fear, love, joy, hate, and desire in the heart of a believer (31). He also points to fact that the Bible presents love, “the chief of affections,” as the summary of true religion, and hardness of heart as the essence of sin (35, 45). The absence of love toward God and man is a clear indication that the Holy Spirit is also absent. Edwards asserts, “He who has no religious affection is in a state of spiritual death, and is wholly destitute of the powerful, quickening, saving influences of the Spirit of God upon his heart” (49).
Where to From Here?
If you choose to read these posts there may be times of struggle and discouragement. Who knows, you may already be there. Edwards sets a pretty high bar. But let me encourage you at the outset in two ways. First, it is Biblical to examine our hearts to see if we are in the faith. 2 Peter 1:10 says, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure.” Second thing, be sure to see words like no in the above quote. Edwards said, and I think he is right, “Where there is no religious affection” there is spiritual death. The Biblical standard is not perfect love and affection for God, but the presence of love and affection for God. Sometimes that affection for God is characterized by a mourning and dissatisfaction with the cold state of our hearts.
Lord willing, Thursday I will look at Edwards’ explanation of the nature of holy and true affections. Then on Friday, I will look at where those affections come from or how they are born in our heart. Please comment freely. Ask questions. Edwards is certainly not infallible, so point it out if you think he is off. I am even more certainly fallible, so if you disagree with my reading of Edwards, or if I am not explaining things clearly, let me know. This is kind of an experiment. We've normally only done short, self-contained posts (by the way, the next couple posts will be much shorter). So I will only continue this series if there is some interest and people still come to the blog.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
The other one I recently got was the Starwood Hotels Credit Card. After your first purchase you are credited with 10,000 Starpoints. You can use those points to pay for 1 or 2 or 3 nights at a Sheraton, Westin, Four Points, or a few other hotels. For instance we are staying at a Sheraton in Birmingham in September on our way to the beach. It will cost 4000 points for a $150 room. A night at a hotel on the beach or in a place like San Francisco or Chicago would run you closer to 10,000 points.
Disclaimer: If you have had trouble with credit in the past, please avoid these. They give these deals because most people end up spending more in interest and fees than they get in plane tickets or hotel rooms. But if you have the ability to use a credit card, pay it off each month, and avoid ever paying interest, these deals may be of interest to you.
Friday, July 20, 2007
I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?A few things impress me about this letter. First, Adoniram Judson was bold and decisive in his pursuit of Ann. After knowing her only a month he proposed. I heard someone say recently, "You can't just get married." Actually you can. If you know what kind of girl you are looking for and you find her, be decisive and pursue marriage.
--Quoted in Courtney Anderson, To The Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1987), 83.
Second, Ann's dad, John, impresses me. What a disturbing letter to get. When I met with Stephanie's dad I can assure you I did not emphasize hardships, sufferings, dangers, fatal climates, or violent deaths. One of John Hasseltine's friends said he would rather tie his daughter to the bedpost than let her go across the world. But John told Ann it was her decision, and Anne married Adoniram and died in Burma. We need more parents who give their children to the service of Christ. How discouraging it is for a young man or woman to feel called to the mission field and have their Christian parents try to talk them out of it or forbid them to go. Will we raise our children and entrust them to God for His glory and the good of immortal souls?
Third, I am impressed by the single minded commitment of the Judsons to the cause of Christ. Adoniram was not exaggerating, or being dramatic in his letter. Going to live in Burma was a very dangerous mission, and they both knew it would probably end in death among strangers. Ann struggled with her decision, but eventually decided to marry the man she loved. Soon after deciding to marry she wrote to her friend:
I feel willing, and expect, if nothing in providence prevents, to spend my days in this world in heathen lands. Yes, Lydia, I have about come to the determination to give up all my comforts and enjoyments here, sacrifice my affection to relatives and friends, and go where God, in his providence, shall see fit to place me.
--Quoted in Anderson, To The Golden Shore, 84.
We love that grin!
She's comin to get the camera!
She loves those two fingers
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually . . . . So the Lord said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land." (Genesis 6:5,7a)And this:
And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence." (Genesis 6:12-13)And this:
I was confronted all day with how sinful we are by nature, and that God hates our sin so much He destroys sinners. It is what we deserve. Our hearts are sinful and opposed to Him. By nature we are dead in our sins and rebel against God. Then I came home and hugged my wife, a gift from God. Then I picked up my daughter and we spent a couple of minutes laughing together, about nothing in particular. Then I thought about how I get to speak God's word on Sunday. Then I thought about how God has fogiven me, and has given me a new heart, and has given me His Spirit, and about how He has promised that no flood of water or fire will ever eternally destroy me. I was overwhelmed by mercy. I deserve to be a floating dead man in a flood of God's wrath, but God has mercifully let me on His Ark of mercy. I do not deserve even one good thing I have, which makes each good thing seem even sweeter. Thank you Jesus, my Ark and my God.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it. (Jeremiah 17:9)
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
"Then there is a success that does not appear in missionary reports. The untabulated results of the preaching of redemption are greater than those which can be put on paper. The truth is a force, and when this is Divine truth fresh from heaven, it has a dynamic power. We cannot measure the force of the electricity in the earth by counting the number of trees or houses struck by lightening. Just as little can we estimate the power of the preaching of Christ by the number of baptisms. Prejudices are removed, suspicions dissipated, men's confidence in their idols shaken, the power of superstitions broken, and much prepatory work done. All these things tell on the final result.Over the past 50 years, the gospel has exploded in China, and millions have been saved. All this after missionaries like Graves had labored for 150 years, usually with minimal success. Graves' spiritual insight and foresight helps us understand what it takes to keep loving and ministering when success comes slowly. It is something we need to hear in our day, as there are still very difficult fields and difficult people who need to hear and receive the good news of Christ.
"Nor is time an essential element in the Divine working. The human part of growing a crop on the earth often involves much more time than the Divine part. Cutting down the forests, removing the stones, plowing the soil and casting in the seed consume more time than the germanation of the seed. So the preliminary work in missions may be longer than the actual work of ingathering. Men sometimes apologize for the comparative slow growth of conversion in some places, as though it were merely an educational work. While it is true that the crop will usually be proportioned to the preceding labor, yet the Divine side preponderates in Christian work, and God usually works in crises. He 'cuts short His work in righteousness.' His judgments often come after impending a long time--a forty days' flood after one hundred and twenty years of warning; so with His blessings. Faith looks to God and is never disappointed, while calculation is of the earth , and speaks from the earth. Success depends more on God than on man; on prayer, than on effort. Yet success of mission work in China has been encouraging in the past, and by God's blessing, will be far more encouraging in the future."
--R. H. Graves, Forty Years in China (Baltimore: R. H. Woodward Company, 1895), 295-297.
I found this passage through Mary C. Alexander, Seedtime and Harvest in the South China Mission of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1845-1933 (Richmond, Va.: FMB, 1934), 39.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Here is what is next:
In January I will enroll at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, in the Ph.D. program in theological studies with an emphasis in historical theology. Trinity is a suburb of Chicago. We plan to move in December.
Coming to this decision was a long process. Last summer I came to the conclusion I definitely wanted to earn a Ph.D. Once we made that decision I struggled for several months whether to focus on systematic theology or on church history and historical theology. In September I began working as a research assistant to Dr. Greg Wills. This job, which mostly involves working with primary source documents confirmed that I want to spend a few years focusing on church history.
The next question was where to go. I only applied at Southern, and at Trinity. When both schools accepted me, this made for a very tough decision. We went back and forth several times, but eventually settled on going to Trinity. It looks like my supervisor will probably be Dr. Sweeney
We will be moving in December, Lord willing. We hope these next few years will be fruitful both in ministry and in academic preparation for future ministry.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
HT: Joe Thorn
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Hope enjoying herself at the party. Who needs toys when cups are around?
Here we are in Dr. Mohler's library. Hope and Daddy got a picture by Charles Spurgeon.
Thanks for coming Mom and Dad! We had a great time with Mark's parents. They were very helpful and spoiled us while they were here. Mark's dad gave him a special Bible for graduation and they got us Costco membership! Here is a picture of Hope and Nanny at Huber Farm.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Emily and I at her Baby Blessing Shower for Lerran.