Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Taste of Newton

Right now I'm getting back into the Letters of John Newton... and boy it's been good. Here's a letter that Newton wrote to William Wilberforce's wife.

"My dear Madam - I did not hear of your late illness till I was informed you were much better. I praise the Lord for your recovery, and hope you will have reason to praise him for all his chastisements, for surely they are sent in love, for the sake of the supports with which they are accompanied, and the fruits which (by his blessing) they produce; they deserve a place in the list of our own peculiar and covenant mercies. Of Mr. Thornton's recovery I had the pleasure to be informed by himself. May the Lord long preserve him and you for many years, for the comfort of your friends and the glory of His name. Your letter was truly welcome. All yours are so, and therefore I do not choose to remain longer in your debt than I can avoid, that I may have hope of hearing from you again. I observe your experience is a mixture of joy and complaint, and thus is must be till the Lord shall be pleased to put an end to our conflict with indwelling sin. Both are right. We have reason to mourn that there is such an opposition within us to all that is good; and we have reason to rejoice, for Jesus is all-sufficient, and we are complete in him. We cannot but mourn to find that our passage lies through fire and water; we ought to rejoice that this difficult way will lead us to a wealthy place, where joy will be unspeakable, glorious and endless. We may well mourn that our love to the Lord is so faint and wavering; but oh! what a cause of joy to know that his love to us is infinite and unchangeable. Our attainment in sanctification is weak and our progress slow; but our justification is perfect, and our hope sure. May we so look to the bright side of our case as not to be cast down and discouraged, and may we maintain such a sense of the dark side as may keep us from being exalted above measure. You say you are not as you once were. It is generally true that the time of espousals, the beginning of our profession, is attended with sensible sweetnesses and liveliness when we are led into a different dispensation. The young believer is like a tree in blossom. But I have a good hope that you seem to have lost in point of sensible affections you have proportionally gained in knowledge, judgment, and an establishment in the faith. You see more of your own heart than you did or could in those early days; and you have a clearer view of the wisdom, glory, and faithfulness of God, as manifested in the person of Christ. Tough the blossoms have gone off the fruit is found, and, I trust, ripening for glory. The Lord deals with us as children. Children, when they are young, have many changes and trials, and calls you to live more directly upon his power and promises in the face of all discouragements, to hope even against hope, and at times seems to deprive us of every subsidiary support, that we may lean only and entirely upon our beloved."

Hope this was helpful :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Being Barnabas

Joseph was an early church brother who had such a reputation for being encouraging that the apostles took to calling him by the name Barnabas (Acts 4:36). I think every Christian wants to be an encouraging brother or sister (a Barnabas). We may have heard it time and time again described as being arrows pointing to Christ. I think this is a right and good desire rooted in benefits we have derived from a Christian family member or friend. A person who had an impact on our lives for God's glory. Here is how the apostle Paul worded his own desire in this area:
"I long to see you that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine" Romans 1:11 
However, in my own life I have found myself seeking to be known as an encouraging brother rather than focusing on the act of encouraging itself. Seeking the name "Barnabas" rather than the building up of the Church. Here are some signs you might have fallen into this same way of thinking.

  • When you sin around people you are more disturbed with the feeling that you may have just been exposed as one who still struggles with sin rather than the sin itself. You may have been feeling pretty good about yourself thinking, "I am probably one of  the more encouraging people in this person's life" and now you are ashamed at the thought of going down in the rankings. Which brings me to the next sign.  
  • You have some kind of ranking system or framework which you are constantly trying to fit yourself and others into. You make imaginary gains and losses on this chart (which exists in no one's mind but your own) and you take your eyes off of Christ as the goal. 1 Philippians 3: 13-14
  • You are not being yourself. It is not wrong to have role models, but it can be wrong to compare yourself to them and try to mimic their personality and gifting. God has given His people a variety of gifts and yours may not be the same as your role model's. As such you may frustrate and confuse yourself trying to be someone you are not.1 Corinthians 12.
Let me reiterate that there is no sin in trying to be encouraging, but we (especially I) can fall into sin in seeking the title and office of "encourager". When we exhibit behaviors and attitudes like those above which is not an exhaustive list, the effects are twofold:

1. We will not be living up to out true potential to encourage others.
2. We will not be encouraged in the fullest way possible.

I worded those two results very carefully. Notice that we will still encourage Christians around us as we try and point them to spiritual realities and truths from God's word. We may also glean from these realities as we seek to share them with others. However, we can be missing out on the abundance of encouragement to be had in Christ because we insist on claiming some of the reward as our own. This can be in the form of coveting the thought of being called "encouraging" or that sinful pat on the back when we share a thought from the Word that blesses someone.

How then do we act? 

If our goal is to encourage the brethren we must realize that the best way to do this is by giving them the clearest and most unobstructed view of their beloved Savior, Jesus Christ. They are His sheep and when they hear His lovely voice, they are most blessed. Sometimes the most flashy arrow does more harm than good as it attracts more attention to itself than the object to which it points. The simple arrow points where all of the focus should be and delights in offering no distraction. The road signs we the need most long road trips are the clearest and simplest kind and we will probably never remember them. But they got us right where we wanted to be.

In order to have this effect we must be convinced in our own minds that Christ is the source for full encouragement in our own Christian walk. We must have a sense that being thought of as "encouraging"will never satisfy our souls like Christ can. We cannot build our houses with compliments on how encouraging we are. Compliment are nice and they let us know that we are on the right track, but by their very nature they have no substance in which to trust . The substance and shelter are Christ Himself. The house built upon our own merits and successes will always come crashing down on us when the floods come. My house has been swept away time and time again. So I sit in the rubble and thank God that by pointing people to Christ I am pointing them to a King's palace that is established and rooted firmly in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! And considering my house was just destroyed... I think I will join them on their way.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How a "lunch lady" taught Spurgeon

It doesn't get more 9 to 5 than being a school cook. And yet Mary Kings had a lasting effect on the spiritual life of Charles Spurgeon.

"The Prince of Preachers never forgot King and the formative role she'd played in his life. "A cook taught me theology!" he would often say. In fact, upon learning of her financial straits years later, the world-renowned pastor sent regular checks to support her from a distance.

After Spurgeon himself died in 1892, a professor in Belfast who'd known him wrote to The Christian World: '[Charles told me] it was 'Cook' who had taught him his theology. I hope I am not violating his confidence in mentioning this fact...'"

Here is the whole article from The Gospel Coalition

Monday, October 7, 2013

Spiritual Gift Projecting

"The evangelist may assume others will sense opportunities the way he does and that they should share his ability to steer conversations from the weather to the gospel. He may subtly project all of this upon others and quietly condemn them, forgetting that this God-given ability is, by its very nature, rare rather than common. The person with the gift for hospitality may neglect to consider that for some people opening their home is grueling rather than gratifying. The person with the gift for discernment may marvel that others do not see the world in the black and white terms he does. We can so easily look at what comes to us by our gifting and forget that others have been gifted in different ways."- Tim Challies

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Island of Misfit Toys and The Church

Since our little church began meeting together I have always dreamed of a church where misfits feel welcome. The people who couldn't make it on their own out in society and God used that truth to bring them to Himself. The early church was a place for "misfits" as well. Uneducated fishermen, hated tax collectors, lepers, and prostitutes are among those who found refuge in Christ and his people early on.

Some of us were misfits before Christ (social outcasts) and some of us never experienced being a misfit until Jesus called us out of the world we thrived in. Either way the Church of Jesus Christ is made up of misfits who have been redeemed by the love of God in Jesus and we rejoice in our fellowship with Him and each other as we press on to heaven.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How involved should we be in our communities?

"Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there, and do not decrease. And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare."-Jeremiah 29:5-7

God tells those who had been taken from Jerusalem to Babylon to pray for and seek the welfare of Babylon! A country of paganism and hostility toward the One True God. A country whose practices very much would have gone against the Laws that God had given His people. Daniel would be thrown to lions and his friends in a furnace for refusing to adhere to this pagan society's rules. Throughout the history of Jesus' Church the same conflicts between Babylon and the exiled Jews have existed between the Church and earthly kingdoms. Are we to move out of town? Maybe if God is guiding you that way. But what about those who don't have the resources or legal ability to move? As much as it is in our power we should seek the good of the community as we see it in God's revealed will (The Bible). Plant a garden, be nice to the neighbors, have kids and enjoy your work-- all to the glory of God. Note also that God bids the people to pray. God does not tell people to pray if He doesn't plan on listening and answering.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jesus Heals an Official's Son (and my anxiety problem)

"When the man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death." John 4:47

The official in this story had to walk about a days journey to Cana from Capernaum to bring his problem to Jesus. Imagine the father wringing his hands and pacing back and forth for days while all attempts to bring his son out of the illness fall short. Now his son is at the point of death and he had no confidence that his son would last while he went to Jesus. He had to leave and possibly not be there for his son's final breath. Why did he leave? Because he knew that pacing back and forth and worrying wasn't really helping. No solution was actually being effected by the worrying father hovering over the doctor's (or medicine man's) shoulder as they checked on the boy. He left so he could bring Jesus into the situation. He left to call on the sympathetic High Priest to come and remedy the whole situation.

Oh, what a lesson there is for us here! I often quite literally pace in my room worrying about my future (my son). Will I graduate? Will I get a job?--and for the sake of this page loading faster I won't make the list any longer but trust me the list is long. So what do we do? We realize that we aren't helping the situation and go get Jesus! Friends do you feel the weight of anxiety and worry to the point where you can't even think straight and you say, "I need to get out of the house!"? Heed that inward call to get out of the house but make sure you go find Jesus while you're at it. Leave the whole ordeal which is out of your control anyways and go get your Lord. Go talk to Him and ask Him to fix it. Quite often the thing making us worry is the moment by moment realization that these things have never been and will never be in our control. So leave them. Leave them and go as far as you have to in order to get through to God. The father in this story was willing to take a one day walk while his son was dying. Are we willing to take and entire day and devote the matter to prayer? Physical location has never been the issue. Jesus healed the son from 30 miles away. Heart location is the issue. Bring your anxious heart out of the problem and pry its grip away for a moment and give it to Christ. I trust that you will find Jesus quite willing to deal with the issue and rebuke your unbelief much like he did the official. But upon returning home you will find it was exactly what your heart needed to hear. Friends, leave your house of worry and go find Christ in the secret place because only he can heal your son.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

God is Light

For those of you who might be saying "I don't know if I'm ready for an hour commitment," just listen for the first ten minutes and I'm not sure you'll be able to stop. This truth is so mysterious and glorious!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Divine Appointments


At  Bible study last week we went over the beginning of the story of Jesus and the woman at the well and something that stuck out to me was what a genuine encounter it was. Christ was not in the act of "evangelizing" but was out in public trying to get dinner plans worked out when he met this woman. It was what people call a "divine appointment". In my own words a divine appointment is one of those encounters with other people that are special in the realm of spiritual opportunity. This of course can and does happen in outreach ministry but it is in no way limited only to evangelistic endeavors.
Maybe the person you gave a tract to was just wrestling with whether or not Jesus is God and here you give them just what they needed to read. Maybe the person you're sitting next to was feeling like they need to start reading their Bible and you spark up a conversation about the Bible. These are the dream appointments that I fantasize about while I am sitting next to someone and I feel like I should share something with them. In the past two days I have had chances to share and I feel like reflecting about them. No need to worry that I'm boasting here--as you read my examples you'll be put to ease.

Case #1

Jase gets done praying to God for genuine and divine opportunities to share the gospel with people. As he is getting ready to leave the park, a girl who he hasn't seen in over  a year pulls into the spot next to him. Jase rolls down his window to and starts talking with the girl a little bit about what she's studying in school (Social Work in case you were wondering) and what he's been up to. He hits that weird part of the conversation and says "Well, I'm going to go buy some shoes...". (Yep! That's right folks "I'm going to go buy some shoes"! It was the truth, I was going to look for some shoes, but come on!) As he drives away he suddenly remembers that he had just prayed to God for that very appointment and he ended it because the conversation reached a lull. I was encouraged that God answered my prayer that quickly and reproved at my lack of discipline to keep the right frame of mind that it takes to share Christ with someone for even 20 minutes. Lesson learned: You must keep your mind and heart ready to share at all times in order to fully take advantage of a divine appointment. They can slip by very quickly and end up as nothing more than cordial encounters if you let them.

Case #2

Jase sits outside on a beautiful day reading his Bible and a girl sits next to him. He continues reading while praying for a chance to share with her. After working up the courage he pulls a New Testament out and says "Can I give you something to read?". She answers "Is this yours?" To which he responds "Yea, but I carry them around to hand out." She is quick on her feet and says "Well... I already have one." Jase, for some unknown reason is totally not expecting this reaction and freezes up. Instead of trying to take the conversation deeper and ask her some questions he says "OK, have a good day!" Kicking himself as he walks away he is thankful for the encounter, but wishes he could have done more. Lesson learned: Don't plan your conversations and interactions too far in advance. I was expecting her to be closed off and just take the book, but there was an even greater opportunity there that I wasn't ready for so I panicked and left.

Take Away

There is nothing wrong with nice and friendly encounters and maybe sometimes there is no opportunity to share about the things of God. Smiling and saying hey is sometimes all we have the time and resources to do. I don't want to come off the wrong way and make it seem like I want to float from one hour long gospel conversation to the next (wouldn't that be nice though!?).

However, these appointments felt different and so I wanted to reflect on them. I am grateful for each of these encounters in the last couple days and encouraged that God would answer prayer so wonderfully. Further, I am comforted by the thought that I cannot save these people and only God can. So in a way my labors are in some manner always going to be ineffectual unless God moves peoples' hearts. That being said, I like talking about Jesus and I want to make my interactions as glorifying and truth filled as He will let them be. I fell short in these two ways this week but am excited for future divine appointments and what God can do.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Shouting For the Glory of God

But Joshua commanded the people, saying, "You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard, nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, 'Shout!' Then you shall shout!"
-Joshua 6:10

As I read this account I am reminded of my days in high school as a new believer. Eager to share truth and topple all lofty philosophies set up against God, I would defend the gospel for 200 comment long facebook discussions that went nowhere. Most of the people I was speaking at (intentional word choice) were people who knew me before my conversion and in some manner knew that I was different than before. Much like the city of Jericho, my closest friends were shut up tight. "Now Jericho was shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in." (Joshua 6:1) There was no way that I was going to convince them that Jesus was the Savior of the world, they had their guard up and were ready for an assault and I imagine they were thinking 'Jase got taken easily, but not us!' Zeal soon turned into anger at their unwillingness to budge, and I felt as though I was banging my head against Jericho's walls trying to make it come down. This was never God's plan to take down Jericho.

I have since apologized to most of those people for the argumentative spirit that inhabited my comments. Yet, still I find myself wondering what would have happened if I would have just kept my mouth shut and walked around them a few times. Living out a prayer filled and joy filled life as I walked around their strongholds with the Bible leading me just like the Israelite people were commanded by God.  As filled with mocking and scoffing as it would be to walk around their towers day after day while speaking no words, the goal has never been my own comfort. Maybe God would have given the command at the perfect time for me to open my mouth and the walls would have fallen and the Lord would have taken the city for his glory.

I wish that things would have happened differently and I wish I would have reached out to my family and friends in different ways, but there is no way to change these things now.  A continual walk in front and around the people we love is our God given strategy. But we are always waiting and looking for the power of God to come and give the command to shout!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Typewriters: A Comeback Story!

While I have never used a type writer I feel a romantic pull to buying one. Using the tool that famous writers and minds have created master pieces on could only channel success into my day to day writing for school and work in the future! Of course the above point is not realistic, but that "ding" and the click of the keys as they actually move the letters into place has got to instill some form of confirmation and accomplishment after each line! The following is a video that raises some questions about the future of this system.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Take a Stand

"And he (Aaron) took a stand between the dead and the living, so that the plague was checked" Numbers 16:48

 We ought to be willing to throw ourselves between the lost and their certain destruction. Aaron could only stop the plague by going out into the thick of the danger and chaos. We can learn from his willingness to risk his own life for the sake of his dying brethren. Bringing the sweet incense of the gospel between the sinner and death is what our hearts should long to do. Whether the motivation be co-workers, friends, or family members let us go out and place ourselves with the gospel right on the front lines.

"And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:15

From the Depths of the Internet

I've gone digging into the depths of the interwebs and have come back with some precious ore for you all. Enjoy.

Page CXVI (fantastic band that plays different hymns) is giving out all of their albums for free this month! Check them out!

Ever wonder why a lot of your best ideas come from the shower?

Some sweet, free, Christian wallpapers

Full movie on Charles Spurgeon.  Worth watching!

Dennis Ritchie: The Shoulders Steve Jobs Stood On

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Practical Calling

Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed." And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord."
Acts 9:32-35

I've read this portion of Scripture multiple times, but have never really thought about this.  At this point in my Bible reading plan I'll have read through all of the gospels in a row.  I get used to the blind seeing, the mute talking, the crippled healed, etc, so this is how I'll usually read this passage:

Peter went to some place and healed a guy who was paralyzed and everyone was amazed.
Acts 9:32-35

Here's what I've missed out on by reading this way:
  1. This is a great picture of salvation.  We were paralyzed in our sins, wanting to move, but couldn't.  We could only lay in our beds and do nothing for the glory of God.  I would use what strength I had to sit up to watch television, play video games, or waste time in other ways.  Without warning, God healed Aeneas and He does the same with us. 
  2. Once we're healed there is a call to rise.  No more laying in our beds, no more living for sin, for self; we must rise!  If we do fall into sin, then we immediately rise to repent and trust Jesus with our all. Proverbs affirms this and says that "the righteous falls seven times and rises again".  This rising is the summation of the New Testament.  What happened in beginning of the Old Testament?  It was the fall of Adam and Eve, or the fall of mankind.  What happens in the New?  Jesus rises from the dead!  Not only this, but he's constantly calling the sick, the dead, or the apostles to rise.  
  3. For whatever reason, this guy was commanded to make his bed... right after he was healed from being paralyzed for years.  What a thing!  Peter didn't say, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and go be an open air preacher."  The command was simple, but it was powerful: "...rise and make your bed."  There is a practical call here.
  4. There is nothing special mentioned about what Aeneas did to be an instrument in the saving of all of the people of Lydda and Sharon, except rising and making his bed.  God, at times, saves men by saving men.  Watching a man, who was spiritually paralyzed, walk is a testimony to the power of God.  Men see it and must admit that something happened.  The portion of Scripture here doesn't mention Aeneas handing out a single tract or talking to a single individual (not saying he didn't do these things, but they're not mentioned).  It seems as though he merely lived a normal, 9 to 5, Christian life.  Nothing special about him other than the fact that God caused him to rise and make his bed.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Baby Boxes: More Frequent than We Might Think

So I posted the video below thinking "Wow, what a novel and caring idea!". However, when I got into my car and headed to work tonight I heard a story on NPR about the spread of "baby boxes" in Europe and apparently they are not loved by all! I Some people feel that these boxes aren't truly helping struggling mothers but allowing them to give up instead of providing the resources they really need to succeed. Still further is the argument that these boxes are so anonymous that it violates the child's right to know their parents. The story does a great job of showing both viewpoints and the pro-baby-boxers say that the right to life must be ensured first and foremost. Listen to the story in the link below and weigh the alternatives for yourself.

Click here for the news story by NPR it's pretty short and covers a lot of information. Who knows, we might see them start popping up here in the states soon.

A South Korean George Muller in the Making?

"The Drop Box" - Documentary PROMO from Brian Ivie on Vimeo.

HT: Justin Taylor

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cyberspace Doesn't Exist

"Perhaps the heart of this confusion is our insistence that the Internet is a there, that it is a place. We never referred to the space between my mailbox and my friend’s mailbox as a place (letterspace?). Letters were in transit. They were in trucks or on trains, but they were not in a place. When I wrote a letter, I was not entering a “letter world.” Similarly, when I watched TV, an inherently nonparticipatory act, I was still in my living room, not in some strange place between my home and the cable company. But when it comes to the Internet, we talk about entering cyberspace, a space that is really no “place” at all. We insist that when we participate in an online forum or take on a character in an Internet-based video game, we are present somewhere and somehow. We take our sense of self, our sense of presence, and transport it into the ethereal world of bits and bytes. Suddenly we are here and there, at a desk in body but in soul or spirit somehow present in cyberspace. And this is new to us, new to the human experience. When we venture into this world, this mediated world, we leave our bodies behind. And more and more of us are finding that we actually like it this way, that being able to experience a space free from the limitations of real presence brings a kind of joy.
Cyberspace has given us a new way of understanding the relationship of life and being to our flesh-and-blood bodies. We now see cyberspace as a place but also as a state of being. Cyberspace gives us a place to be ourselves apart from our bodies. And in many cases the draw is irresistible. Often, we are led to view this as a superior alternative to the real world. Why? Because it is a place that allows us to break free of the limits of our bodies and our God-given circumstances."

Tim Challies: The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digitial Explosion

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Faithful with Knowledge

"Here is a word of caution: Use your knowledge properly. God will not bless anyone who uses knowledge as an excuse to sin. Nor will He increase your knowledge of Him if you keep it shut up in your conscience, afraid to confess Him before men. The light of truth in a man's heart is like a candle flame-it must have air to flourish. If you keep it hidden for very long, what little knowledge you have will be taken away."

-William Gurnall The Christian in Complete Armour (pg182)

""For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away." Matthew 25:29 and Mark 4:25

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

God Made a Farmer

Amidst a storm of horribly inappropriate commercials during this last Superbowl Sunday was a tribute to farmers by Dodge. It stands out as the most serious and heartfelt commercial I can remember during a Superbowl. But I'm not sure of my thoughts on it yet. My hesitation comes from the knowledge that many Americans will take for granted that God and farmers go together because of some sort of cultural affiliation and nothing more. God made farmers, stay and home moms, and business men alike! Please see my other post on pursuing God no matter what vocation you end up in. We are all born in sin and are separated from God apart from faith in Jesus Christ. Associating farming with faith can be dangerous for future generations and give people the wrong idea of Christianity as an American conservative cultural characteristic rather than a real life changing encounter with a living God. Yet, I still am thankful for farmers and they deserve a tribute from those of us who benefit from their hard work. In that way I enjoy this ad and the heart behind it. Give it a view and see what you think. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Exemplary Husband's Love

For those of you that don't know: I'm engaged and soon to be married to a lovely +Helena Kowalewski (June 29!).  Right now I'm reading The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott to help me prepare a bit.  I'll do a full review of the book later, Lord willing, but for now I'm going to give some spoilers... because this book is so wonderful and I can't contain myself.  In the eighth chapter, Scott divulges into how the Exemplary Husband is to love his wife and let's just say it is fantastic. Scott doesn't hold punches.  Warning: This is going to be very practical and yet very biblical.  This is also beneficial for relationships outside of the marriage spectrum, so you single people need to get reading!  What follows is a mixture of bad thoughts and actions with the proper good, loving response that a man (or woman generally) ought to have towards his wife.  Hopefully it will be evident to you which is good and which is bad...  


Pride (Thoughts and Actions): 
  • Why doesn't she think of me more? / Why isn't she doing ____ for me?
    • How can I think of her now? / What can I do for her?
  • My life is so hard. / She should ____
    • God will help me - how can I bless her?
  • I'll never be what I should be, why even try? Woe is me.
    • Lord help me to please you by being the husband I should be.  Thank you that You promise to help me grow.
  • I will do this if she will _____.
    • I'm going to do this just to bless her and for You, Lord.
  • I want to do what I want to do.
    • What would she like to do?
  • I don't want to _______.
    • I don't feel like ______, but I will because I want to love You, Lord, and her.
  • What's in it for me?
    • I want nothing in return.
  • This is an inconvenience to me.
    • Christ was inconvenienced for me. I'll be inconvenienced.
  • She should do it my way.
    • What would she like?  I can prefer her and still do Your will, so I will.
  • I'm tired. / I'm not going to _____.
    • I'm tired.  Lord, give me strength to continue loving and giving.
  • She gets on my nerves. / She is so ____ (negative trait).
    • She is, (positive trait).  Everyone (especially me) has their weaknesses.
  • She doesn't know anything. / I don't need her or anyone's input.
    • I need to listen to her / I don't know everything.
  • I'm a real catch, a gift.  What's her problem?  She should appreciate me more.
    • If she has a problem with me maybe I need to learn and change.  She probably has a point.
  • I know I'm right.  Anyone who doesn't agree with me is wrong.  I don't need this.
    • I will listen, consider and study God's Word and think about it.  I could very well be wrong.
  • I'm fine.  I've been faithful in everything.
    • I have not been completely faithful.  God sets the standard.  I must grow in faithfulness.
  • Bragging about my goodness, good qualities, or accomplishments
    • Thanking God for any good in me or that is accomplished through me
  • Waiting or looking for her to love me or do for me first
    • Initiating affection and other acts of love
  • Just pointing out her wrong-doing and not mine
    • Focusing on my wrong-doing
  • Not asking what my wife would like but choosing what brings me pleasure or allows me to avoid discomfort or effort
    • Asking what she would like; suffering discomfort for the sake of love and pleasing God
  • Planning my day off around me
    • Considering my wife and her desires when planning my only day off
  • Rejecting or tuning out my wife's input or admonishments
    • Listening to what she has to say, asking questions and committing to think about it, pray about it, and/or study it out - whatever applies; then getting back to her about it

Fear (Thoughts and Actions):
  • If I do or say that, she will get mad.
    • If she gets mad, I will deal with it God's way.
  • She's going to find someone else.  I'm going to isolate her.
    • I will believe the best of her, and let her carry on life in a normal fashion.
  • If I give an inch, she'll take a mile
    • I will love her and do what I can for her
  • I have to be in control and keep her dependent or I might lose her
    • God is in control.  I don't need to control her.  I need to love her.
  • Staying quiet when I should speak
    • Speaking up and facing any consequences for God's glory
  • Being jealous and controlling to project my interests
    • Letting her have other interests and other people in her life
  • Doing something to keep her happy and/or happy with me
    • Doing loving things to please God

Bitterness (Thoughts and Actions):
  • I've had it!  If she does _____ one more time, that's it.  Phooey on her.  I'm going to leave her!
    • I will keep loving her.  Christ loved me when I didn't deserve it.  My love is forever; no matter what.
  • I'll show her.  I'll get even with her.
    • I will return good for evil.  My love does not depend on her love.  I have promised before God to love her.
  • I'll never forgive her for that.  She doesn't deserve it.
    • God forgave me and says I must, therefore, forgive others.  I have sinned against her too.  She is just acting sinfully because she is not in a right place with God.  I will choose to show love to her even if she may not deserve it and I will be willing to say, "I forgive you," when she repents and asks. 
  • She did that deliberately to hurt me or embarrass me.
    • I need to believe the best and ask her about that.
  • I'm not going to do anything for her or love her.  Look at what she is doing or at what she has done to me.
    • I will love her with Christ's kind of love no matter what she has done.  And, I will seek to help her turn away from sin.
  • Cutting my wife down to others or to her face
    • Saying good things about her
  • Not believing the best of my wife.  Holding her past sin against her.
    • Thinking the best of her and remembering that I forgave her for the past
  • Planning or doing wicked or vengeful things so that my wife suffers
    • Planning what I will not do when she sins against me
  • Continuing to think negative thoughts about my wife.
    • Planning thankful thoughts to think about my wife
  • Refusing to do loving things for my wife.
    • Planning loving things to do for my wife and then doing them

Preoccupation (Thoughts and Actions):
  • I'm too busy to talk, pray, or spend time with her.
    • She is more important. God's priority will be my priority.  I will show her love.
  • I have too many things on my mind to handle another thing
    • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I will put forth the effort (even thought I don't feel like it) because I love her and God.
  • This is more important (when it is not) or I have do this (when I don't).
    • I will let go of what I want to do and do the more important thing.  I will have God's viewpoint.
  • God has called me to my ministry, not to be caught up with relational things with my wife.
    • My ministry to my wife qualifies me for other ministry.  God is relational.  I am committed to her and our relationship.
  • Ignoring problems
    • Talking to my wife about issues and seeking biblical solutions
  • Neglecting my wife
    • Planning time with her and putting that time before other things
  • Not praying with and for my wife
    • Planning time to pray for and with her
  • Over-extending myself
    • Cutting back on whatever I can to make the time that is needed to love her as I should and thereby strengthen our marriage

Great Memory Verse

Here's a wonderful verse to hide in your heart, especially if you feel overwhelmed or like you have a lot on your plate:

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

That pretty much covers everything.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Pastor's Desire for Evangelism

Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor and contributor to the Gospel Coalition. He has written several books and his ministry is well known, yet he finds himself convicted to share the gospel more. We can learn a lot from this kind of devotion in the bothers and sisters around us! In a recent post he shares an encouraging testimony and some wisdom on day to day evangelism.

"...I’m learning again that faithful evangelism requires putting to death the fear of man. Will I ever stop having that halting tightness in my chest? Will those hesitation-inducing thoughts of rejection and offense ever fade away? You know, probably not. I’m likely to always feel some hesitation and some fear of man when it comes to evangelism. But what am I going to do? Not share the greatest news the world has ever received? No. I’m going to remember Romans 1:16, Philemon 6, and Hebrews 10:38-39, and other such texts which encourage, admonish, promise, and guide."...

The rest can be read by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Gurnall's Wisdom on Unanswered Prayer

I just started reading William Gurnall's classic The Christian in Complete Armour. Beware the trap that we can fall into when we consider Puritans; We view them as intellectual (they were), but almost to a fault of their not being able to really guide in a day to day walk with Jesus. However, I would make the case that your pastor is not the only one who benefits from their works. I'll share an excerpt from the book later to wet your appetite and show you just how "9 to 5" these guys could get!

"I can never read those old Puritans!  They talk way over my head and there is nothing in their books for me!" Banner of Truth has put out a modernized and abridged version of Gurnall's work in a three part series. And now you think "I can't read a modernized Puritan, that's like reading the message translation of the Bible!" Point 1: Puritans may have had the Spirit of God in their life but they did not necessarily write in an inspired and perfect format.  So, it is no sin for our brothers and sisters to help us understand the writing by editing it. Point 2: You are in a horrible position because Puritans were "doctors of the soul" and you could be holding yourself back from serious help. So either take a class on how to read 16th century English or get the abridged version here!

Here is a summary of Four Reasons God's Power is Sometimes Hidden from the Chapter titles The Saint's Call to Arms.

" 'But,' says some dejected soul, 'I have prayed over and over for strength against temptation- and to this day my hands are weak! No matter how hard I try, I cannot resist. If God's power is really engaged for me, why am I not victorious in my Christian life?'

1. You may have overlooked God's power
...Perhaps you prayed and expected God to answer in a certain way, but while you were watching for Him from the front window, He slipped in the back door. What I mean is this: you expected sudden relief from your trial, but instead God gave you greater strength to pray with greater fervor...

2. God may have purposely delayed His power
...When a mother is teaching her child to walk, she stands back a short disctance and holds out her hands to the child, beckoning him to come...because God loves his children, He sometimes lets them struggle to strengthen the legs of their unsteady faith...

3. The cause of hindrance of the blessing may be in yourself
If your heart is not set in the right direction when you appeal for deliverance, strength will not come...All He does for your own good, so that when your pride lies gasping, you will be forced back to Him.

4. God may call you to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds
...You must be resolved to live and die waiting, for that may be what He requires...The prophet was not sent to the widow's house until she had baked her last loaf of bread..."


Friday, January 25, 2013

Blessed is the Rugged Man?: Pursuing God Through the Vocation He Has Called You to

As a new year dawns, most of us are beginning our Bible reading plans. However ambitious or realistic we were in choosing a plan most of us will be reading through Genesis this month. Something that has been a real object of wonder and anxiety in my heart when I read through the beginning of Genesis is the story of Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel are two brothers (maybe twins, maybe not depending on who you ask) who are invested in different vocations. Abel was the rugged man; the man who was out in the field tending the flocks and putting literal meat on the table. I like to think he was probably fighting off wolves and lions to ensure his flock's safety (1 Samuel 17:36). Cain, on the other hand, was a man with a different calling. His calling was to produce. And this is where the problem arises for me. Did God simply choose the man's sacrifice who had the better calling in life?

Note: I am reading the chronological bible plan. If you want to join click here! Or just check it out.

Do not get me wrong, I am aware that hours of hard work go into farming. Tilling the ground after the fall is intentionally difficult for man and this is not the place for arguments about the masculinity of one trade over another. But, my first reaction is always to feel like there was something physically more pleasing about the sacrifice Abel gave. Was God simply more pleased with meat than veggies? I mean meat has always been more difficult for humans to make a stable part of their diet, the yield of the field is what people in third world countries must survive on and meat is only a welcome delicacy on their table. So when God had regard for Abel's sacrifice and not Cain's I always feel a little down. "Poor guy," says my heart, " he was just doing the best he could. I mean look, he brought his offering and it's not his fault the lentil's were small that year." But this is not the correct way to respond to this passage and the key is proper Biblical hermeneutics. 

1. When I keep reading (using the hermeneutic principle of immediate context) I find that God makes no real statement of sin on the part of Cain's physical sacrifice. Instead, he warns Cain that sin is in fact "crouching at the door; and it's desire is for him." God even asks Cain why he is angry and why he has responded so irrationally. God's lack of regard for Cain's offering does not seem to be an attempt to try and illicit some response from Cain. God was not saying that Abel had chosen the better vocation. He was saying that Abel had chosen the better attitude. Faith.

2.In Hebrews 11 (using the hermeneutic principle of using scripture to interpret scripture) we find that Abel had offered a better sacrifice because of faith and not because he had the preferred occupation. God's acceptance of Abel's gift was out of a warm love for the faith the Abel had when he gave his offering. Not his superior career ladder.
"By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks." Hebrews 11:4
In Genesis God even exhorts Cain to continue on and learn from the experience rather than get angry with God and jealous of his brother. Promising Cain "if you do well, surely you will be accepted". God is instructing Cain to come in faith the next time, not to change jobs. We see in this passage God's willingness to accept our sacrifices if done in faith. If we are in very different situations and have different interests than our brothers and sisters, it is not the vocation or the disposition of the person that effects God's blessing; it's faith.

Another set of brothers comes on the scene twenty-one chapters later and this time the rugged man is in need of faith. "Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a peaceful man living in tents" Genesis 25:27. Jacob would go on to father the twelve tribes of Israel and share direct lineage with Christ, and then Esau would father many nations that would go on to clash with Israel (Edomites). Here we see that the more mild brother (if we can make that assumption) was chosen by God to exhibit faith and the literally hairy chested and rugged man was not chosen.

So what can we conclude from these two sets of brothers who exhibited different interests and characteristics that they carried with them into their livelihood? That the rugged man is as well off as the less rugged. Pursue God in faith and pray that He would put you into the place in life that He wants you and then by faith offer your gifts and honor to God. Trust that your vocation is just as pleasing as another brother or sister's because God desires faith above everything, including ruggedness.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Exhortation from 2012 Fellowship Conference

Mason Vann gave an exhortation at the 2012 Fellowship Conference put on in Denton, Texas for the past few years. Here is a link to sign up for this year's conference. I find his exhortation to mothers excellent!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: The Life and Diary of David Brainerd

The Life and Diary of David Brainerd by Johnathan Edwards is a book that I've seen to be highly recommended by many.  John Wesley wrote, "Let every preacher read carefully over the Life of David Brainerd".  However, I have also heard many people today recommend this book with a side of caution. "Dude. It's intense..." is the usual, followed with "But really good."  I can safely say after reading this book that David Brainerd was an intense guy.  Brainerd said of himself, "I was from my youth somewhat sober, and inclined rather to melancholy than the contrary extreme." Translation: Brainerd struggled with depression. Edwards saw this as well, but noted the benefits, and stated that "he had a great insight into human nature, and was very discerning and judicious in general; so he excelled in his judgement and knowledge in divinity, but especially in things appertaining to inward experimental religion."  Basically, Brainerd's struggle with melancholy (depression) caused him to go deep into the caverns of his own heart and find, then root out sin.  He was very sensitive and aware of his own sin.

Here's the question that came into my mind before reading this book: Will Brainerd's struggle with depression ruin the book?  I can say with confidence that it did not, but made it all the better.  We get a glimpse into a godly man's life and see that he was not perfect, but that he was growing.  There is a noticeable change in Brainerd's journal entries from the beginning to the end in his dealings with depression and sin.  In the beginning, I was tempted with thinking that perhaps the way he thought was the way all Christians thought about themselves and their sin back then, but throughout the book it became more evident that the way he described himself was no average thing.  Brainerd struggled with low thoughts of himself.  I got the feeling that it wasn't a healthy thing. He was focusing on himself too much at times, like when he would go a whole week without feeling any joy and living in a state of complete dejection.  It is evident that God used Brainerd's natural leaning towards low thoughts of himself for His own glory though.  By the end of the book Brainerd was more watchful and aware of his own feelings and was more often reflecting on having his "spirits refreshed and raised".  This is one reason why the book was good.

God gave David Brainerd, a strong desire to glorify Christ and an equally strong interest in the things of God.  "There is no comfort, I find, in any enjoyment, without enjoying God, and being engage [sic] in his service."  That was the heart of David Brainerd, and that is the big reason why this book is so beneficial and encouraging.  Brainerd was a man who strove after God in all things.  He was a godly man, in my opinion, and one that should be imitated for the most part.  A word of caution though: don't attempt merely to imitate or parrot David Brainerd without realizing what he was aiming towards.  Another way to put it is that you can not recreate godliness without meeting with the one true God.  Don't just live vicariously through David Brainerd, but use him as an example of a godly man who made it his goal and desire in life to live in the presence of God and for the glory of God.

One thing that I felt was lacking in the (auto)biography was the detail of his evangelizing to the Delaware Native Americans.  He does mention preaching to them and going to them, but doesn't mention any specifics about the fruit of his labors.  Personally I like it when (auto)biographies go into detail about who got saved and how they're doing later, or how a church started, etc. One of the main reasons I enjoy reading biographies is because I get to see God working through a normal man in saving a multitude of people.

If you're on the fence about reading this book, I would recommend waiting until you've finished the other books you want to grind through.  The Life and Diary of David Brainerd is an encouraging book and left me in a state where I wanted to know God more.  I want to pray more, read more, etc., but at the same time it left me a little disappointed with the lack of detail.  I'm not saying that this wasn't a good book or that it shouldn't be read, but that there are other books out there that, in my opinion, are more encouraging, less intense, and better written.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Great Sermon

This (<- Click!) is a fantastic sermon on the way God loves us, please listen!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

John Adam's: A Political Puritan?

As I am now on my second biography of a U.S. President I have come to the conclusion that this is going to be a more difficult task than I originally had planned. It is hard to peer into the soul of a man through pages and ink! If the biographer doesn't give you anything to work with then you are put in a very difficult position to make any safe calls on the man's life. Such is the case with John Adams. Without pouring over his personal letters from hundreds of years ago and doing more reading than I have time for, Adams is a hard man to nail down.

John Adams was born and raised in Massachusetts during the beginning of the 18th Century and this means he was raised in the Puritan tradition. This also places him at the heart of the Great Awakening when men like Whitefield and Edwards were prominent public figures. If we remember, Adams was going to school originally to be a minister and we can judge from this that there was always at least some interest in the religion of men like Edwards. Adam's letters to his wife Abigail and Thomas Jefferson (later in life) include many reflections on religion. The following are quotes from Adams:

"There is great pleasure in hearing sermons so serious, so clear, so sensible and instructive as these..."  -July 4,1774
 "I had rather go to church. We have better sermons, better prayers, better speakers, softer, sweeter music, and genteeler company. And I must confess that the Episcopal church is quite as agreeable to my taste as the Presbyterian...I like the Congregational way best, next to that the independent." -October 9, 1774
"I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen." -December 25, 1813
 "The ten commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my religion..." -November 4, 1816
 "As I understand the Christian Religion, it was, and is, a revelation"- December 17, 1816
 These and many more quotes give us an insight into the theology of Adams and it is clear that doctrinally he had swerved very little from the men who impacted Puritan thought. Adams held true throughout his life to the Christian profession and was much more up front than Washington. This makes him an easier subject in one way. Yet, men are men at best.

Adams was known for being stubborn and many times was called vain by his critics. He was known for his blunt style of argumentation. Adams was so embittered against Jefferson's tactics to win the 4th Presidential Election that he refused to go to Jefferson's inauguration. Adam's also was not one to allow his name to be slandered without a defense thereof. At times refutation is necessary as the truth is important and has to be stood up for but in an effort to defend every slander and accusation thrown at him, Adams came off as a man who was too wrapped up in his own image and ideals. Whether his character faults disqualify Adams as a follower of Christ is not my place to say. Public life as a political figure during this time was very similar to today in that your faults will always get more attention than your strengths.

 John Adams held to orthodoxy when it came to Christianity and was a professing Christian through his entire life. He had character flaws that people made a point to bring up. These sins, like all sins are not beyond the forgiving power of Jesus for those who are walking by faith (1 John 1:9). Will I meet John Adams when I get to heaven? I don't think I can say right now, but I can rest assured that whatever state John Adam's soul was in as it entered eternity, His creator knew his soul much better than I did..."will not the judge of all the earth do right?"

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

David McCullough Interview

This video is a sixty minutes interview of David McCullough who is one of today's greatest United States historians. His ability to tell the story and put history into context inspires me as a future social studies educator.

3 Ways to Live with Joy

Tim Challies has an excellent writing style that is easy to follow and to the point. One of his newest pieces is a short reflection on joy and how God would have us live in light of Ecclesiastes. Read it here and enjoy!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: A Praying Life by Paul Miller

Reviewing a book on prayer is an interesting beast to tackle.  First, there is the issue of whether the author stays true to the Word.  Is what they are saying biblically true?  Second, there’s the issue of whether the author stays true to grace and doesn't fall into legalism.  Is what they are saying holding true to the freedom that Christians have to pray and does it then take advantage of that, or do they only talk about a requirement to pray and the consequences of not?  Third, there’s the issue of practicality.  Does the author treat this book as another theology book on prayer or do they provide practical experiences to help the reader in their pursuit to pray?

Paul Miller’s A Praying Life does well in dealing with these issues.  Very well.  I have read a couple of books and listened to a handful of sermons on the subject of prayer, but this one takes the cake in my opinion.  

In terms of remaining biblically true I would say that Paul Miller does a good job.  I can’t remember a time where I theologically cringed, or thought to myself, “Uh oh... What’s he talking about?”  One thing that I wish there was more of would be explaining the different promises or verses regarding prayer.  He does this a bit, but I wish he would have done it more.  Paul Miller also does a great job of humbling the reader.  He emphasizes that we have to pray like children who are helpless.  That’s fantastic for me because I fall into the trap of thinking that I should pray to get better at prayer, or I should pray only because I know I should.  Now it is easier to see that prayer is actually humbling ourselves before God and making our needs known to Him like children. On another note, this book does a great job of feeling real.  A lot of books or sermons on prayer leave me in this weird state where I want to pray for three hours the next morning and if I don’t then I probably did not pray in the right way.  I don’t pray because I’m making my needs known to God, or worshiping God as my Father, but I’ll just pray to... pray because the book told me I needed to.  Miller stayed away from this.  I came away feeling like it was possible for a Christian to pray at all times without ceasing.  I think the table of contents give an insight into this:  Part 1: Learning to Pray Like a Child (with chapter titles like Learning to Be Helpless), Part 2: Learning to Trust Again (with chapter titles like Following Jesus out of Cynicism), Part 3: Learning to Ask Your Father (with chapter titles like Why Asking Is So Hard), Part 4: Living in Your Father’s Story, and Part 5: Praying in Real Life.  Miller does a great job of using his experiences to show the reader each aspect of prayer, which was very helpful for me.  He’s a great story teller and is good at tying these in to what he’s speaking on.

Overall I would recommend A Praying Life for any Christian who struggles in prayer.  This book has been a great help and encouragement to me.  Paul Miller does an excellent job dealing with practical issues in prayer in such a way that will leave you wanting to pray.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

John Adams: A Quick Life Timeline

Seeing as the name of John Adams' cousin Samuel Adams has become more of a household name thanks to a namesake beer, I thought I might give you a quick summary of his life before we discuss his spiritual life.

John Adams father was a deacon in Braintree, (Just Outside Boston) Massachusetts where John was born and raised. John's father set him on track early to go into school with the goal being the ministry. John went to Harvard with the original intent on the ministry, but as he reflects " it was whispered and circulated among others that I had some faculty for public speaking and that I should make a better lawyer than divine." He also expressed his inclination was to preach but the religious establishment threatened his liberty to think. Adams chose to become a lawyer and began to practice in 1756. After Britain had implemented the stamp act (1765) and during the years leading up to the revolution, Adams was a very outspoken author.  His newspaper installment piece "Dissertation on Canon and Feudal Law" thrusted him forward as a political figure in the resistance against these taxes. During these years Adams held several public offices for Braintree just as his father had. After moving to Boston and retiring from public office to be a lawyer again (He served as defense attorney for the British soldiers of the Boston Massacre in 1770) he was informed that in 1774 he had been elected by the general Court of Massachusetts to attend the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. He was 39.

Adams played a major part in this Congress. He was more moderate in his desires for independence early on during the stamp act, but he took a stronger stance in the continental congress and was in charge of urging Jefferson to draft the declaration and was pivotal in the debates to convince all "states" to vote for independence. He was soon assigned as an ambassador to France to work for peace with the one nation that could really swing the revolution in America's favor. He would leave in 1779 and not return to America until 1788. Soon after arriving Adams found that initial peace had already been established with the French and he was re-assigned to Holland to make a treaty with the Dutch. Adams would be successful in gaining loans from the Dutch and once done here was sent to England to achieve peace with the Great Britain after the war was over.

Adams returned to America after his work as an ambassador and upon receiving the second most votes from the electoral college, was elected vice president (vice president was the second place winner back then). Adams served as vice president under Washington for two terms until he was elected president by the backing of Hamilton and the Federalists in 1796. He was much against political parties yet was often called a monarchist and many worse names in his leanings. He signed the Alien and Sedition acts which limited free speech in America against the government. Adams made it his goal to settle peace with the French who had soured in their relationship with the U.S. since the U.S. had refused to help their war against Great Britain. Federalists called for preparation of war and action against the French and the Republicans called for a uniting with France against Britain. This desire for peace with France and taste for policy that gave the federal government more power made him unpopular with both the Federalists and the Republicans respectively.

Adams would achieve peace through the success of Napoleon Bonaparte who offered peace once he took the office of French monarch. It was too late however, and Adams lost the next election (1801) to Jefferson. Adams finished his life writing his memoirs and letters to Thomas Jefferson who was at time a fierce opponent but ended up being his dearest friend. Both friends died on July 4th 1826 as the last two founding fathers alive.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Shaw's Biography Overall Review

After reading Peter Shaw's The Character of John Adams I would warn you against picking this volume up if you are expecting a good over view of Adam's life and the events that impacted the world he lived in. This biography zooms over what we would see as major events in a person's life such as the deaths of two of his children and his wife and chooses to focus in an unbalanced manner on John Adam's as a man consumed only by a desire to defend his own glory and pride. Shaw does a great job focusing on this aspect of Adam's character throughout his entire life but fails to paint Adams as caring about anything else. Adams, like all of the founding fathers, had his enemies and critics and it seems like he was always in a correspondence to clear his reputation. Yet we have to assume there is more going on in a person's life than their never ending pursuit of a clean name. While Adams certainly did care about his reputation, he also cared about the future of America and his family both of which take up a total of only about a quarter of Shaw's discussion of Adams. In conclusion, as a discussion of Adam's pride and vanity this biography does a good job of covering these topics from his early life to his death. However, Shaw speeds over important events and deaths and expects the reader to have a previous knowledge of the events like the Alien and Sedition acts as he approaches his next example of how John Adams was defending his name. For a general overview this biography is not what your looking for. I would suggest reading another biography first and reading this one only if you are interested in Adam's defense of his character through his life.

The most widely acclaimed biography on Adams is McCullough's John Adams I knew about this book when I chose Shaw's biography and decided to stick with Shaw because McCullough's piece is 750 pages and I needed a speedier read for my winter break restraints. I plan on some day reading McCullough's piece when I have the time and I hope it fills in the gaps that might be left from Shaw's biography.

As I process Shaw's work and try to organize my thoughts for a synopsis of Adam's spiritual life I am finding myself much more confused than with Washington. Shaw focused very very little on this aspect of Adams so there is little I can gather either for or against his standing with Jesus. I am hoping to get a conclusion out about John within the next week. I am also considering writing about Abigail Adams (John's wife) as she was very outspoken in her letters about the Lord and her life is equally as intriguing as her husbands.