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Knowing God at University, at the Alter and in Life

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Knowing God at University, at the Alter, and in Life

J.I. Packer’s Knowing God (Amazon; .ca; .co.uk) taught me that theology “is the most practical project anyone can engage in” (p. 17). Even in conversing with this book, I was able to put this proposition to the test at three very critical times in my life; undergraduate studies, marriage, and career. In each case, Packer brought forward wisdom that shaped my studies, shaped my approach to marriage and shaped my career choices.

Knowing God: A Transforming Text

This post is part of a series of my reflections on transforming texts–the books that have changed my life the most. These books have become conversation parters with me.  I credit them with shaping my thinking, my desires, and my life. I think they will change your life too. When I think of the Bible as a transforming text, I adopt the language of Erasmus: “You must acquire the best knowledge first, and without delay; it is the height of madness to learn what you will later have to unlearn.” (Letter to Christian Northoff (1497), as translated in Collected Works of Erasmus (1974))

What Stephen Hawking Didn’t Know

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The fear of death is something every human will experience. This fear might grip us, when we consider, or are confronted with death. This week, Stephen Hawking, the great theoretical Physicist passed away. From all accounts he did not profess to believe in God. He didn’t know what death would bring. This is a common human experience. Hamlet called death, the undiscovered country, convinced that a fear of what we do not know must make cowards of us all. Is this true?  Many leaders of the ancient Church (the church fathers) taught that sin is a reaction to the fear of death. Our culture certainly struggles with a fear of death. We try to deny it, mask it, or control it. But we very rarely face it.

Are you struggling with a particular sin? Or, are you afraid of the dangers of life? Do you find yourself anxious about aging, or death? God’s Word has a message of comfort for you. What Hamlet, and Hawking did not know, we know.

2 Corinthians 4:13-18

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:13-18 ESV).

What Hamlet Didn’t Know

 

Why Should You Read the Bible-The World’s Best Selling Book Ever?

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Why Should You Read the World's Best Seller?
Why Should You Read The Bible?

No, It Doesn’t Go Without Saying. The Bible is the greatest book ever. it is the ultimate transforming text. Why should you read the Bible? You should read the Bible, because this book will challenge and educate and change you. It has shaped my mind, my heart, and my life like no other influence. Charles Dickens wrote his son Henry, “I most strongly and affectionately impress upon you the priceless value of the New Testament, and the study of that book as the one unfailing guide to life.” Selected Letters of Charles Dickens (Amazon; .ca; .co.uk,  p. 425)

The Bible: A Transforming Text

This post is part of a series of my reflections on transforming texts–the books that have changed my life the most. These books have become conversation parters with me.  I credit them with shaping my thinking, my desires, and my life. I think they will change your life too. When I think of the Bible as a transforming text, I adopt the language of Erasmus: “You must acquire the best knowledge first, and without delay; it is the height of madness to learn what you will later have to unlearn.” (Letter to Christian Northoff (1497), as translated in Collected Works of Erasmus (1974))

Transforming Texts That Shaped My Life and can Change Yours Too

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Transforming Texts: Review of Craig Carter, Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition
Transforming Texts: Review of Craig Carter, Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition

There is nothing better than a good book and a good cup of java.  I am a bibliophile. Though, my wife might suggest I am a book hoarder. She’s wrong of course! The great early modern scholar Desiderius Erasmus had the right priorities in life. He is often quoted as saying, “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” (Letter to Jacob Batt (12 April 1500); Collected Works of Erasmus Vol 1, (1974))

Why do I love books? I love books because I see them as life changing. Great books can be transforming texts. Transforming texts have changed my life. I have adopted the phrase “transforming texts,” from my favourite from one of my favourite writers, Anthony Thiselton.

Why the World Needs Wisdom, or How to Save the World

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Why the World Needs Wisdom: or, how to save the world.
Why the World Needs Wisdom: or, how to save the world.

What the world needs now is  wisdom. The fate of the Western world hangs in the balance today.  It is in a serious, possibly terminal decline. Things are falling apart in education, politics, culture, and society. You and I need wisdom today. It is vital. It is the only think that can save the world. Wisdom, for Socrates, and Augustine, and today’s leading thinkers, is the only thing that will do. This is also the view of the wisest man who ever lived. He wrote:

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7).

Will Durant, in The Story of Philosophy: The lives and opinions of the world’s greatest philosophers from Plato to John Dewey (Amazon; .ca; .co.uk), describes the 5th century BC as an age of “destroyed faith” and “disintegrated individualism” (p. 7).

RC Sproul explains, in The Consequence of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts that Shaped Our World (Amazon; .ca; .co.uk), how this Greek culture ended up with “a crass politicization of education, economics, law, and public works led to a decline in both substantive thinking and civic virtue, both of which are enemies to any democratic enterprise that thrives on compromise and the relativization of ethics” (p. 27).

Do we not live in something of the same kind of world today? If you need a political illustration, simply compare the speech that got the United States’ first Republican President (Abraham Lincoln) elected (NPR), with the kind of speech that saw the most recent Republican (Donald Trump) installed in the White House.

Successful Parenting: Inspiring Minds to Shape Lives

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Successful Parenting: Training up a Child
Successful Parenting: Training up a Child

The way we are trained to think and to behave as children has a lifelong impact on us. This impact is both a proverbial biblical truth, and a truth learned from experience. So, successful parents are focused on inspiring minds and shaping lives.  It is critical that parents inspire, reform, and train the minds and hearts of their children to prepare them for life. 

Successful Parenting: Getting the Right Start

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Successful Parenting: How Should I Educate My Children
Successful Parenting: How Should I Educate My Children

What does successful parenting look like? Can a child’s life be ruined by something I do as a parent? Are there things I can do to set my child up for their future?

Prospective parents wonder what raising children is really like. New parents wish they were given a user manual for this parenting thing. Experienced parents begin to see mistakes we have made and look for ways to make things better. Grandparents, extended family, children’s and youth workers in church, or parachurch want to know how they can help. As Christians, we all want to know what God has in mind for our families.

Successful Parenting Made Simple: One Focus

So where do we start? Two essential biblical ideas set up successful parents to get the right start in raising their children.