I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Invest

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The first principle of investing is to put all your eggs in one basket.

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” (Mark 12:29-30)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

And of course, Psalm 2:

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Written by Scott Moonen

April 10, 2014 at 6:28 am

Posted in Christ is Lord

Self-control

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Self-control is not opposed to self-expression.

Self-control is the very foundation that makes possible the most powerful and beautiful forms of self-expression.

Do not be afraid to teach your little ones to color in the lines and stay out of the street. It is preparing them for the day that they must draw their own lines, the day that they stand with you in the square.

Written by Scott Moonen

March 30, 2014 at 9:10 am

Posted in Parenting

Derby

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Asher and I raced our derby cars this morning. Here’s a picture of our cars before the race, with Asher’s in the foreground. He did a great job on his car!

Asher named his car “Fear, Fire, Foe!” Mine was “Supplanter.”

Asher won fifth place for design among Ranger Kids, and I won third place for speed in the open competition. There were some pretty creative and pretty fast cars there!

Written by Scott Moonen

March 29, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Miscellany, Personal

Treebeard

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We’ve been listening to The Lord of the Rings audiobook as a family. Yesterday we happened upon this great quote:

Merry and Pippin heard, clear in the cold air, the neighing of war-horses, and the sudden singing of many men. The Sun’s limb was lifted, an arc of fire, above the margin of the world. Then with a great cry the Riders charged from the East; the red light gleamed on mail and spear.

Song and warfare go hand in hand. Worship is warfare.

It interests me that Tolkien has the hobbits refer to the sun as feminine:

‘Hullo!’ said Merry. ‘The Sun must have run into a cloud while we’ve been under these trees, and now she has run out again; or else she has climbed high enough to look down through some opening. It isn’t far—let’s go and investigate!’

This rainy Sunday afternoon we drew our impressions of Treebeard. Here’s what we came up with:

Asher

Charlotte

Ivy

Scott

Written by Scott Moonen

March 16, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Posted in Personal, Quotations

In the regeneration

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My pastor turned up this great quote from Herman Bavinck:

In short, the counsel of God and the cosmic history that corresponds to it must not be pictured exclusively—as infra- and supralapsarianism did—as a single straight line describing relations only of before and after, cause and effect, means and end; instead, it should also be viewed as a systemic whole in which things occur side by side in coordinate relations and cooperate in the furthering of what always was, is, and will be the deepest ground of all existence: the glorification of God. Just as in any organism all the parts are interconnected and reciprocally determine each other, so the world as a whole is a masterpiece of divine art, in which all the parts are organically interconnected. And of that world, in all its dimensions, the counsel of God is the eternal design. (Reformed Dogmatics, II:392)

This is a great perspective on how God relates to time and history. God is the painter to our painting, the composer and conductor to our symphony.

I want to consider how this perspective relates to the doctrine of regeneration. We generally speak of the regeneration of the Christian almost as though God reaches down and flips an invisible switch inside of us from death to life. For example, Wayne Grudem writes:

We may define regeneration as follows: Regeneration is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us. . . . Because regeneration is a work of God within us in which he gives us new life it is right to conclude that it is an instantaneous event. (Systematic Theology, 699-701)

This may be true as far as it goes, but it does not fully account for the way that God works with his creation and with us. Consider the example of Ebenezer Scrooge’s conversion-regeneration:

Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to make amends in!

“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!” Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. “The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this. I say it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees!”

He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions, that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with tears. (Dickens, A Christmas Carol)

In one sense, it is quite correct to say that something changed inside of Scrooge from death to life. But this is not the whole picture: it does not account for Dickens and his own steady resolve to make a new man out of Scrooge. In the same way, our understanding of regeneration should take into account how God works with his creation and how he imparts life to us. For our physical life we are dependent on God to sustain us at every moment; certainly we are equally dependent on God at every moment for our spiritual life. It is thus more proper to speak of regeneration as a settled determination on God’s part to continually fill us with life through his Spirit.

This perspective helps us in several ways. It reminds us that God is the source of regeneration, so that we are always looking to him rather than making a futile search into whether something invisible has happened inside ourselves. It reminds us that regeneration is an ongoing process. So, just as we cannot rely on past repentance and faith but must walk in new repentance and faith each day, neither can we rely on past regeneration. We must look to and ask for more help from the Spirit each day. Rather than asking “am I regenerate,” we ask “will God give his Spirit to those who ask him?” Yes (Luke 11:13), he will!

Another way to think of this is in terms of what we might call the tenses of salvation. There is a sense in which we can say we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. Likewise, we have been given new life, we are being progressively given more abundant life, and we will finally be fully given life.

Calvin speaks of regeneration as occurring progressively. In the Institutes, he refers to it as something “which [God] begins in us” (Method and Arrangement III). It will be “complete” at “the final resurrection,” (M&A III) which he refers to as “the day of regeneration or resurrection of the body” (M&A IV). Calvin identifies regeneration with the ongoing procession of the Spirit to us, saying that “we have nothing of the Spirit except through regeneration” (II.3.1). Interestingly, he identifies regeneration and mortification as two halves of repentance, to the point that he says “by repentance I understand regeneration” (III.3.9). He later speaks of the “commencement and progress of regeneration” (III.11).

This definition of regeneration also underscores that it is a change in our status and position before God at least as much as it is an internal change in our persons. We are grafted into a tree (Romans 11), into a vine (John 15); we are planted by streams of water (Psalm 1). This links it closely with other great changes in status like justification and adoption. Adoption in particular is how we come to receive the Spirit (Romans 8:15). In regeneration we enter into God’s new creation, which is to say that we are reconciled to God and made a part of his kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:17ff) — again, a change in status.

Scripture uses the term regeneration to refer to a change in our status. In Matthew 19:28, Jesus refers to his kingdom and new creation itself as the regeneration. In Titus 3:5, our baptism is called the “washing of regeneration.” In The Priesthood of the Plebs, Peter Leithart demonstrated that baptism is a symbolic form of priestly investiture, hearkening back in all its imagery to passages like Leviticus 8:15. In terms of Titus, this means we can speak of baptism not only as our investiture into priesthood and sonship, but also our entry into the new-creation kingdom that is God’s church, our enrollment into an inheritance (Titus 3:7).

On the one hand, this serves as a warning to us that we are not meant to coast on yesterday’s experiences and accomplishments. But it also serves to remind us that God is near to us, and has a settled determination to provide all that is needed to complete his work (Philippians 4:19, 1:6).

Written by Scott Moonen

March 3, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Do this

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It is rare to practice the Lord’s supper without reading from 1 Corinthians 11. There is certainly nothing wrong with this, but it is odd. We have plenty of other material to draw from for communion reflections; it would take a year alone to work through passages that reference bread (or grain) and wine, not to mention food and feasting in general.

I worry that we have come to believe reading God’s instructions discharges our duty to obey them. Jesus commands us to “do this.” Considering 1 Corinthians 10-11 together with Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts, what is it that we are to do?

  • Use bread
  • Give thanks to God for the bread
  • Break the bread
  • Use wine
  • Give thanks to God for the wine
  • Examine ourselves to ensure we discern one another’s membership in the body

Many evangelical churches are failing on all counts listed above, possibly with a sense that it is permissible to ignore these, but without the necessary conviction that it is better to ignore them.

The last point may be the least obvious. I have argued elsewhere that Paul’s use of discern and examine is generally misunderstood. I suggest that we are failing to do this not least in failing to recognize our young children’s participation in Jesus and their full welcome to his presence and his table. We therefore, with Peter, stand condemned and out of step with the truth of the gospel (Gal. 2:11ff). If we were to work through those many food and feasting passages, we would become more sensitive to this.

The result is that we have arrived at something unnaturally stilted, unfamilial, un-supper-like. It is not straining in every way to enact a foretaste of Jesus’s marriage feast, or to welcome all those here who would be welcome there if they were to die today.

See also: Unbelievers?

Written by Scott Moonen

February 19, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Anxiety

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Jesus is Lord, and Jesus is not anxious.

Last year I read Edwin Friedman’s book, A Failure of Nerve. It is full of fascinating insights; sometime I hope to find time to write more about it. But as my pastors begin a series on anxiety, one particular insight jumps out at me.

Friedman talks about how anxiety in leaders is the fountainhead of individual and organizational breakdown and paralysis. He challenges leaders to see the importance of non-anxious leadership. This is not simply to say that effective leaders should be anxiety absorbers, taking it all into themselves and hanging on to it; rather, good and effective leaders are themselves free of anxiety.

Friedman makes a good case for his claims about the outcomes of chronically anxious leadership. Although I would want to temper and supplement some of what he has to say, I think his insight has great value for husbands, fathers, mothers, pastors, managers, team leaders, and more.

But let’s take things up a level. Christians are part of a kingdom and family.

Jesus is Lord, and Jesus is not anxious.

Think about that for awhile and let it sink in. If Friedman is right, this should calm and empower us profoundly.

See also: Free to carry more.

Written by Scott Moonen

January 26, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Posted in Christ is Lord

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