Monday, June 25, 2007


I'm not writing this post just to stir up a controversial subject, but I would really like to know my reader's response. So please let me know what you think!

I've heard this sermon a lot: the whole topic of the "general will of God" and "specific will of God" for your life. General will is found in Scripture, specific will is unknown and should be sought out.

Here is my question: For those of us who would wear the label of a cessationist, how are you supposed to know the specific will of God for your life? I've heard answers of "feeling peace" and "Scripture will show you" but if I'm asking God's will for a job decision, how is Scripture supposed to answer that one? And more importantly, why do we trust a feeling of peace, but we wouldn't trust a dream or vision? Are we guilty of being overbearingly inconsistent with our theology? I can see why some would defect to the continualist's camp. They seem to be more consistent.

The reason I bring this up is because of a series of messages my own pastor has taught dealing with this exact topic. And I was visiting another church recently (out of town - not church shopping!) and heard the traditional, fundamentalist view of the will of God. I'm curious what you all believe. Should we be trusting our feelings to know God's will? Or is it possible that there isn't one perfect job (or college, or spouse . . . you fill in the blank), but that God works His sovereignty through our decisions and we aren't called to know a "specific will of God" for our lives.

Please let me know what you think. And if you are one of the guys who I know lurk here, I want to hear your input, too!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Happy Birthday, Allison!

I cannot believe that a year has passed and my little girl is already 1! This week has been full of celebrations with grandparents and friends, cake and ice cream, presents and giggles. She now has 2 dolls, a doll house and loads of new clothes. What more could a girl ask for?

Happy birthday, my little missy moo. Thanks for the joy you bring to all of us, including your big brother! We are blessed to have you and we love you, always.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Summer Strawberries

One of my newly favorite summer traditions is picking strawberries. I had never heard of picking them yourself until I moved to Wisconsin. It seems like this is a favorite tradition of many of my friends and acquaintances! I was able to go 2 years ago with my then-neighbor (and friend) Angela, but last year I was 9 months pregnant, unable and unwilling to go. My good friend Suzy surprised me with fresh-picked strawberries just days before I gave birth to Allison, and so I set about making jam with the precious few that I had.

This year I was able to go by myself. Dan stayed home with the kids and I left shortly after waking. It was warm already at 7:30, and the day promised to get warmer and more humid. It was good to start early. After a short drive and an even shorter tractor ride, I was in the middle of an immense field of ripe and ready-to-be-picked strawberries. It took only about 20 minutes and only about 6 feet of plants to fill my flat and I headed back to pay.

After arriving home and deciding all that I wanted to do with my fresh strawberries, I started to worry that I should have picked more. (I picked over 11 pounds!) But once I prepared 4 batches of jam and made 2 strawberry pies, I decided that the remaining berries were the perfect amount to enjoy for snacking and on cereal for the coming days.

So summer is officially here, with the taste of sweet, juicy, wonderful strawberries. What do you enjoy as a summer tradition?
*picture provided by Ernest von Rosen,

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Life and Labors of George Mueller

I finally finished reading "The Life and Labors of George Muller" written by his wife, Mrs. Muller. I became acquainted with the book when our church hosted Jim Ellif as a conference speaker and he highly recommended it. George Muller never overtly asked for money for his orphanages, only allowed donations to come from people by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. In his lifetime, he fed, clothed and housed over 10,000 orphans, and believes to have seen over 50,000 prayers answered. This is a mighty prayer warrior from which many of us could learn.

That being said, the book is written by the late Mrs. Muller, and it has an air of antiquity in the language which made it more difficult for me to read. It didn't seem to "flow" as some other books do and it's tendency to go from one historical account to another in a chapter made it harder to follow the chronology of his life. Don't get me wrong, it is filled with valuable lessons from a godly man, but it won't top my "must read" list. A more contemporary writing of the same princliples can be found, in my opinion, in Randy Alcorn's book, The Treasure Principle.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

New Attitude, Session 4

The last session on Sunday was taught by C.J. Mahaney. I have read a few of his books and have been blessed eternally by the ministry of his wife and daughters over at Girltalk, but I never had the opportunity to hear him speak, so I was really excited.

First of all, my impression of him can be summed up in one word and one of his book titles: humility. He started the evening session off with an extended honouring of the conference hosts, Josh Harris and Eric Simmons. He was gracious, humble and sincere. And funny! As Al Mohler commented earlier in the day, "If you ever hear someone say, 'Lighten up, CJ,' you know the end is near!" He is a godly man who is a perfect example that Godliness is not only displayed as serious.

His topic was on idols. He commented multiple times that he was only preaching to us what he has learned and benefited from other speakers and writers. But he was passionate about the topic. He loved the topic and you can tell that it has changed his life.

He started out by saying, "Idolatry is the most frequently discussed and most frequently condemned subject in the Bible" and listed a whole bunch of passages to make his point (see Ex.20:1-2, Rom. 1:21,25, I Thes. 1:9, I Cor. 10:13-14, Col. 3:5). He defined idolatry as any substitute for God, including good gifts from God that we desire more than Him. We have to be able to discern our idols, which are evidences of the remaining sin in us. He exhorted us to use Scripture, the Holy Spirit and the church (i.e. preaching of the word and friends) to help us identify and root out our idols.

He then parked on 2 sources of idolatry: The test of prosperity and the test of adversity. Both can cause us to focus on our circumstances instead of God. He then gave a list of x-ray questions that we can use in searching our hearts for idols (can be found here). I am already familiar with this list of questions from our Bible Study on How People Change by Paul Tripp. It is an excellent tool.

He ended the sermon with 3 signposts of grace in a believer's life: fruit in identifying idols, growth in Godliness, and growth in gratefulness to God and His gift of the Cross.

We missed CJ's last session on Tuesday morning, as well as Eric Simmon's sermon on Monday morning. So I only have the 2 sessions with Piper to post on. It might take me a few days to adequately write what I learned from Piper's sessions, so the last post in this series may be delayed. I will most likely post on other topics before, so don't think I am done!

Monday, June 04, 2007

New Attitude, Session 3

The second session on Sunday featured Al Mohler as speaker. I have benefited greatly from Dr. Mohler's ministry, who is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where our good friend Gretchen is employed and her husband, Josh, is a student. I am most familiar with Dr. Mohler from his blog, which handles current issues with such clarity and Biblical truth it excites me! He is incredibly wise and isn't afraid to speak unashamedly about what God wants in the midst of many controversies. It seems he is the evangelical "go-to-guy" for shows like "Larry King Live" and I have never once felt embarrassed as he acts as our spokesperson. In case you can't tell, I really respect him and was very excited to hear him speak!

He was incredibly witty and had the house pealing with laughter on many occasions. He was engaging and informative, but, unfortunately, very hard to take notes on. And I'm not the only blogger who said this! But I still greatly appreciated his talk and benefited from his wisdom.

His topic was was Discerning Culture and he gave a great picture of what it is like to be submersed in our culture. He appealed to an analogy from Aristotle, who said the worst being to ask about what it is like to be wet is a fish. It's all he knows, he can't describe it. And that is how we are with our culture. It is such a part of who we are and how we think, it would be ridiculous to try to withdraw completely (after all, what would we wear or drive?) and it would be equally silly to jump in without any thought (it is a system with an agenda and we can't assume it is amoral).

It all comes down to Matthew 23. We have to love God and our neighbor, who is probably entrenched in the culture, as we are, to an extent. We have to filter our culture through God's Word and realize that we are not bound by what the culture tells us. We are fish in toxic water and we need to learn how to discern our culture and still swim to the Glory of God!

Friday, June 01, 2007

New Attitude, Session 2

Sunday morning started bright and early, although Laura and I skipped out on the community groups to eat a leisurely breakfast and work out. We arrived at the Convention Center early to get decent seats (which became like a game in the subsequent sessions) and looked forward to hearing the morning's speaker, Mark Dever.

Mark is the senior pastor at Capitol Hills Baptist Church and the author of "Nine Marks of a Healthy Church." I just recently became aware of his ministry through T4G and because I have some MBBC acquaintances who have interned at his church. I figured he would be good, but since I had never heard him speak, I didn't know what to expect.

What I got was about an hour of jam-packed practical advice on primary and secondary doctrine. Which do we separate over and which can we lovingly disagree on and still cooperate together? It was fascinating and informative, the session on which I took the most notes. There is no easy way to summarize everything he gave us, so I'll just give you the few things that affected me most.
He defined the 3 things that are primary: (I copied this from Tim Challies - he had better notes than I!)
We must agree upon three things in order to put our trust in God and be saved. God, the Bible and the gospel. We have to believe in the one true God—that He is one, that He is triune, that He is uncreated, that He is morally perfect and that He is the one we are called to believe in. There are theologians today who speak of “anonymous Christians,” of people who believe in no God or in another God. But the Bible does not support this. We have to believe that the Bible is how we know the truth of God. How do we know what God is like? Because He has revealed Himself in Scripture. We must believe the gospel. The good news is that Jesus Christ became incarnate. Without this understanding we couldn’t uphold the truth of God’s triune nature. We also confess his substitutionary death on the cross, of His resurrection and His impending return. We are made right with God by faith alone, by trusting in this Jesus. Someone who does not believe in this gospel is not a Christian. Calling yourself doesn’t make you that, so even though many people consider themselves Christians and call themselves by Christ’s name, they cannot be truly saved unless they believe this.
He gave a 4 fold test for any issue:
1. How clear is it in Scripture?
2. How clear do other's think it is?
3. How near is it to the Gospel?
4. What would the effects be doctrinally and practically of allowing disagreements to occur? (this is where our conscience can play a role.)
*Some of the Scripture he used included: I Cor. 14:1-5, Acts 15:36-41, and Rom. 14:22
He then took 4 test cases to hold to the test: the Millennium, prayers for the dead, egalitarianism and complementarianism and cooperation in evangelism.
The one that made me think the most was the debate about egalitarianism and complementarianism (woman's roles in church). He explained why he (and T4G) doesn't separate over baptism, even though he is a Baptist, and why they do over egalitarianism. His answer was simple and profound. We have over 5 centuries of paedo baptists who have done great work for the Kingdom, and have taught us great things about God and our faith, all the while being faithful to Scripture. Unfortunately we only have about 50 years of egalitarianism and in that short time the movements that champion this stand have done much to undermine Scripture.
That explanation made a lot of sense to me, as did Mark's whole session. It was a blessing to hear him.