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The Potter's Clay

Scripture, Theology, the Christian worldview, and other ramblings.

30 September 2005

A Collision


Just picked up the latest from David Crowder Band on iTunes, A Collision. Solid album! If you like DCB's previous releases, you'll like this one. It is a very long album, especially if you get the iTunes release, with a number of bonus tracks. They are very energetic and high octane, no fluff to report here. "God of Wrath" is still my favorite song by DCB.

Enjoy!

27 September 2005

Sunriver

My wife and I just got back from a week's vacation in Sunriver, OR. I was pretty pathetic today at work. I have a serious case of post vacation blues. Normally I look forward to getting back to work after vacation. Not this time. This vacation was too good and too short for my liking. We stayed in a nice, small house near the Deschutes River. Here is a shot of the Deschutes:



Here is the house we stayed at:

...and a shot of Mt. Bachelor in the distance:

All in all, we had a great time and frankly I am ready to go back. Enjoying God's creation, whether hiking, riding, rafting, or simply taking in the vistas, truly is humbling.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
(Psalms 8:3-4 ESV)

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
(Psalms 19:1-6 ESV)

21 September 2005

The One Thing Necessary - Pt. 6


Argument 1.

The first argument or motive to working, is taken from the preciousness of the soul; well may we take pains that we may secure this from danger. The soul is a divine spark kindled by the breath of God. It doth out-balance the world (Matt. 16:26). If the world be the book of God, as Origen calls it, the soul is the image of God. Plato calls the soul a glass of the Trinity. It is a bright mirror in which some refracted beams of God's wisdom and holiness do shine forth; the soul is a blossom of eternity. God hath made the soul capable of communion with Himself It would bankrupt the world to give half the price of a soul. How highly did Christ value the soul when He sold Himself to buy it? Oh then, what pity is it that this excellent soul (this soul for which God called a council in heaven when he made it) should miscarry and be undone to all eternity? Who would not rather work night and day than lose such a soul? The jewel is invaluable, the loss irreparable.

--Thomas Watson

19 September 2005

Cut the Pork!!!


Help support Porkbusters by finding out pork in your state. Wow, check out the porkers in Arizona, Louisiana, North Carolina, Michigan. The list goes on and on. Oh, wait, it goes through all 50 states... That's your government at work for you.

To find pork, go here: The 2005 Pig Book

Ref: Instapundit

17 September 2005

Contemplation of Divinity...


The proper study of a Christian is the Godhead--
The highest science,
the loftiest speculation,
the mightiest philosophy, which can ever
engage the attention of a child of God,
is the name,
the nature,
the person,
the work,
the doings,
and the existence
of the great God whom he calls his Father.

There is something exceedingly improving to the mind
in a contemplation of the Divinity--
It is a subject so vast,
that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity;
so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity.

Other subjects we can compass and grapple with--
in them we feel a kind of self-content,
and go our way with the thought, "Behold I am wise."

But when we come to this master-science,
finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth,
and that our eagle eye cannot see its height,
we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be
wise, but he is like a wild donkey's colt; and with the
solemn exclamation--
"I am but of yesterday, and know nothing."

No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the
mind, than thoughts of God.

-Charles Spurgeon from, "The Immutability of God"

16 September 2005

Joseph Smith: Disorderly Glass-looker


Interesting article from The Evening Sun in Norwich, NY, via James White's blog. The title: "Newly discovered documents link Mormon founder to crimes". This sort of finding is not news, it has been documented before that Joseph Smith was charged and booked with crimes. I don't tend to use this evidence with LDS that I interact with, mostly because I want to focus on the Scriptures, and how the Bible destroys LDS presuppositions. But, when the time is right, this sort of historical data is very important to show LDS the folly of following a mere man, someone who sinned regularly (like us all), and who was clearly not a prophet. Jerald and Sanda Tanner have done extensive research into Smith. I recommend their ministry whole-heartedly.

14 September 2005

The One Thing Necessary - Pt. 5

II.

And so I proceed to the use of exhortation, to persuade you all in the bowels of Christ to set about this great work, "the working out your salvation." Beloved, here is a plot for heaven, and I would have you all in this plot; rally together all the powers of your souls; give neither God nor yourselves rest till you have "made your election sure." Christians, fall to work; do it early, earnestly, incessantly. Pursue salvation as in a holy chase; other things are but matters of convenience; salvation is a matter of necessity. You must either do the work that Christians are doing, or you must do the work that devils are doing. Oh, you that never yet took one stitch in this work of salvation, begin now. Religion is a good trade if it be well-followed. Be assured there is no salvation without working. But here I must lay down a caution to prevent mistakes.

Though we shall not be saved without working, yet not for our working. We do not work out salvation by way of merit. Bellarmine saith, "We merit heaven out of worthiness." No, though we are saved in the use of means, yet by grace too (Eph. 2:5). There must be ploughing and sowing the ground, but yet no crop can be expected without the influence of the sun; so there must be working, but no crop of salvation can be hoped for without the sunshine of free grace: "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom" (Luke 12:32). Give? Why, might some say, we have wrought hard for it? Ay, but heaven is a donative; though you work for it, yet it is the good pleasure of God to bestow it. Still look up to Christ's merit; it is not your sweat, but His blood that saves. That your working cannot merit salvation is clear, "It is God that works in you to will and to do" (ver. 13). It is not your working, but God's co-working. For as the scrivener guides the child's hand, or he cannot write; so the Spirit of God must afford His auxiliary concurrence, or our work stands still. How then can any man merit by working, when it is God that helps him to work?

I shall now, having laid down this caution, resume the exhortation, and persuade you to the working out salvation. But I must first remove two objections which lie in the way.

Objection 1. You bid us work out salvation, but we have no power to work.

Answer. It is true, we have not power; I deny that we have the liberty to work. Man before conversion is purely passive; therefore the Scripture calls it a heart of stone (Ezek. 36:26). A man by nature can no more prepare himself to his own converting than the stone can prepare itself to its own softening. But yet when God begins to draw, we may follow. Those dry bones in Ezekiel could not of themselves live, but when breath came into them, then "they lived, and stood up upon their feet" (Ezek. 37: 10).

Question. But suppose God hath not dropped in a principle of grace? Suppose He hath not caused breath to enter?

Answer. Yet use the means. Though you cannot work spiritually, yet work physically; do what you are able, and that for two reasons.
1. Because a man by neglecting the means, doth destroy himself. It is like a man by not going to the physician, may be said to be the cause of his own death.
2. God is not wanting to us when we do what we are able. Urge the promise, "Seek and ye shall find" (Matt. 7:7). Put this bond in suit by prayer; you say you have no power, but have you not a promise? Act so far as you can. Though I dare not say as the Arminian, when we do exert and put forth nature, God is bound to give grace; yet this I say, God is not wanting to them that seek his grace. Nay, I will say more, He denies His grace to none but them that wilfully refuse it (John 5:40).

Objection 2. The second objection is this; But to what purpose should I work? There is a decree past; if God hath decreed I shall be saved, I shall be saved.

Answer. God decrees salvation in a way of working (2 Thes. 2:13). Origen, in his book against Celsus, observes a subtle argument of some who disputed about Fate and Destiny. One gave counsel to his sick friend not to send for the physician, because, saith he, it is appointed by destiny whether thou shalt recover or not. If it be thy destiny to recover, then thou needest not the physician; if it be not thy destiny, then the physician will do thee no good. The like fallacy doth the devil use to men; he bids them not work; if God hath decreed they shall be saved, they shall be saved, and there is no need of working; if He hath not decreed their salvation, then their working will do them no good; this is an argument fetched out of the devil's topics. But we say, God decrees the end in the use of means. God did decree that Israel should enter into Canaan, but first they must fight with the sons of Anak. God decreed that Hezekiah should recover from his sickness, but let him lay a fig to the boil (Isa. 38:21). We do not argue thus in other things. A man doth not say, "If God hath decreed I shall have a crop this year, I shall have a crop; what need I plough, or sow, or manure the land?" No, he win use the means, and expect a crop. Though "the blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich" (Prov. 10:22), yet it is as true, "the hand of the diligent maketh rich" (Prov. 10:4). God's decreeing is carried on by our working.

And thus having removed these objections, let me now persuade you to set about this blessed work, the working out your salvation; and that my words may the better prevail, I shall propound several arguments by way of motive to excite you to this work.

--Thomas Watson

13 September 2005

The One Thing Necessary - Pt. 4

3. The possibility of this work

The third reason why we should put forth so much vigour about the work of salvation is because of the possibility of the work. Impossibility kills all endeavour. Who will take pains for that which he thinks there is no hope of ever obtaining? But "there is hope in Israel concerning this." Salvation is a thing feasible; it may be had. Oh Christians, though the gate of paradise be strait, yet the gate is open! It is shut against the devils, but it is yet open to you. Who would not crowd hard to get in? It is but paring off your sins; it is but unloading some of your thick clay; it is but assuaging the swelling humour of your pride, and you may get in at the strait gate. This possibility, nay probability, of salvation may put life into your endeavour. If there be corn to be had, why should you sit starving in your sins any longer?

--Thomas Watson

more later...

10 September 2005

The One Thing Necessary - Pt. 3

2. The rareness of this work

The second reason we must put forth so much holy sweat and industry about salvation is because of the rareness of this work. But few shall be saved; therefore we had need work the harder that we may be in the number of these few. The way to hell is a broad way; the causeway of it is paved with riches and pleasure; it hath a golden causeway; therefore there are daily so many travellers in it. But the way to heaven lies out of the road; it is an unbeaten path, and few can find it. Those who advocate universal grace say that Christ died intentionally for all; but then why are not all saved? Can Christ be frustrated of His intention? Some are so gross to aver that all shall actually be saved; but hath not our Lord Christ told us, "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt. 7:14)? How all can go in at this gate, and yet but few find it, seems to me a contradiction.

--Thoams Watson

more to come...

08 September 2005

The One Thing Necessary - Pt. 2

1. The difficulty of this work.

It is a work that may make us labour to the going down of the sun of our life (Dan. 6:14) Now this difficulty about the work of salvation will appear four manner of ways.

First, from the nature of the work. The heart is to be changed. The heart is the very nursery of sin. it is the magazine where all the weapons of unrighteousness he. It is a lesser hell. The heart is full of antipathy against God; it is angry with converting grace. Now that the bias of the heart should be changed, what a work is this! How should we beg of Christ, that He who turned the water into wine would turn the water, or rather poison of nature, into the wine of grace?

The heart will be ready to deceive us in this work of salvation, and make us take a show of grace for grace. Many think they repent when it is not the offence, but the penalty which troubles them; not the treason, but the bloody axe. They think they repent when they shed a few tears; but though this ice begins to melt a little, it freezeth again; they go on still in sin. Many weep for their unkind dealings with God, as Saul did for his unkindness to David. "He said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil" (1 Sam. 24:17). "And Saul lifted up his voice and wept" (I Sam. 24:16). But for all this he follows David again, and pursues after him (1 Sam. 26). Secondly, so men can lift up their voices and weep for sin, yet follow their sins again. Thirdly, others forsake sin, but still they retain the love of it in their hearts. Like the snake that casts the coat but keeps the sting, there is as much difference between false and true tears as between channel water and spring water.

That which makes salvation-work hard, is, that it is a slippery work. "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought" (2 John 8). This work falls down almost as fast as we build. An ordinary artificer, when he hath been at work, finds his work the next morning just as he left it; but it is not so with us. When we have been working out salvation by prayer, fasting, meditation, and leave this work awhile, we shall not find our work as we left it; a great deal of our work is fallen down again. We had need be often called upon to "Strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die" (Rev 3:2). No sooner is a Christian taken off from the fire of the sanctuary, but he is ready to cool and freeze again in security. He is like a watch, when he hath been wound up towards heaven, he doth quickly unwind to earth and sin again. When the gold hath been purified in the furnace, it remains pure; but it is not so with the heart. Let it be heated in an ordinance, let it be purged in the furnace of affliction, it doth not remain pure, but quickly gathers soil and corruption. We are seldom long in a good frame. All this shows how difficult the work of salvation is, we must not only work, but set a watch too.

Question. But why hath God made the way to heaven so hard? Why must there be this working?

Answer. To make us set a high estimate upon heavenly things. If salvation were easily come by, we should not have valued it to its worth. If diamonds were ordinary, they would be slighted; but because they are hard to come by, they are in great esteem.

--Thomas Watson

More later...

07 September 2005

Planetary Paganism

Interesting article. Just goes to show you that human depravity cuts across all cultural boundaries. Yet again, the Scriptures are correct! All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.

06 September 2005

The One Thing Necessary

by Thomas Watson

"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." - Philippians 2:12 If there be anything excellent, it is salvation; if there be anything necessary, it is working out salvation; if there be any tool to work with, it is holy fear. "Work out your salvation with fear."

The words are a grave and serious exhortation, needful, not only for those Christians who lived in the apostle's time, but may fitly be calculated for the meridian of this age wherein we live.

I proceed now to the exhortation, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling," which words do branch themselves into these three particulars:-

First, the act, work out; secondly, the object, your own salvation; thirdly, the manner in which we should work it out, with fear and trembling. I shall speak principally of the first two, and draw in the other briefly in the application.

The proposition is this: It should be a Christian's great work to be working out his salvation. The great God hath put us into the world as into a vineyard, and here is the work He hath set us about, the working out of salvation. There is a parallel Scripture to this: "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure" (2 Pet. 1:10). When estate, friends, life cannot be made sure, let this be made sure: The original Greek signifies to study, or beat the brains about a thing. These words in the text, "work out," imply two things. First, a shaking off spiritual sloth. Sloth is a pillow on which many have slept the sleep of death. Secondly, it implies a uniting and rallying together all the powers of our souls that we may attend the business of salvation. God hath enacted a law in Paradise, that no man should eat of the tree of life, but only in the sweat of his brows.

I.

I proceed now to the reasons enforcing this holy sweat and industry about salvation, and they are three. We must work out our salvation because of:-

1. The difficulty of this work.
2. The rareness of it.
3. The possibility of it.

More to come...

02 September 2005

Was Katrina Intelligent Design?

I simply had to post this on my blog. Spot on. Soli Deo Gloria.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Was Katrina Intelligent Design?

September 2, 2005

On his 89th birthday (August 31) NPR Senior News Analyst, Daniel Schorr, observed that President Bush had “staked out a non-position” on the debate between evolution and intelligent design. Bush had said that “both sides ought to be properly taught in the schools of America.” Then, with manifest scorn, Schorr linked the devastation of Hurricane Katrina with the concept of intelligent design: “[Bush] might well have reflected that, if this was the result of intelligent design, then the designer has something to answer for.”

No, Mr. Schorr, you have something to answer for, not God. God answers to no man. Come, Daniel Schorr, take your place with Job and answer your Maker: “The Lord answered Job [and Daniel Schorr] out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. . . . Who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, “Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed”?’” (Job 38:1-3, 8-11).

Who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Shall the pot say to the Potter, “This is an unintelligent way to show your justice and your power? Come, Maker of heaven and earth, sit at my feet—I have lived 89 years and have gotten much wisdom—and I will teach you—the eternal God—how to govern the universe”?

No. Rather let us put our hands on our mouths and weep both for the perishing and for ourselves who will soon follow. Whatever judgment has fallen, it is we who deserve it—all of us. And whatever mercy is mingled with judgment in New Orleans neither we nor they deserve.

God sent Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners. He did not suffer massive shame and pain because Americans are pretty good people. The magnitude of Christ’s suffering is owing to how deeply we deserve Katrina—all of us.

Our guilt in the face of Katrina is not that we can’t see the intelligence in God’s design, but that we can’t see arrogance in our own heart. God will always be guilty of high crimes for those who think they’ve never committed any.

But God commits no crimes when he brings famine, flood, and pestilence on the earth. “Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” (Amos 3:6). The answer of the prophet is no. God’s own testimony is the same: “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7). And if we ask, is there intelligent design in it all, the Bible answers: “You meant evil . . . but God meant it [designed it] for good” (Genesis 50:20).

This will always be ludicrous to those who put the life of man above the glory of God. Until our hearts are broken, not just for the life-destroying misery of human pain, but for the God-insulting rebellion of human sin, we will not see intelligent design in the way God mingles mercy and judgment in this world. But for those who bow before God’s sovereign grace and say, “From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever,” they are able to affirm, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:36, 33). And wisdom is another name for intelligent design.

No, Daniel Schorr, God does not answer to us. We answer to him. And we have only one answer: “Guilty as charged.” Every mouth is stopped and the whole world is accountable before God. There is only one hope to escape the flood of God’s wrath. It is not the levee of human virtue but the high ground called Calvary. All brokenhearted looters and news analysts and pastors are welcome there.

Famine Flood and Failing Fortune

Meditation on Psalm 105:16

When the staff is broken,
And in judgment spoken
Righteousness is heard,
Think not God is silent,
Though the famine violent,
This is but His word.
He stands not to give account.
It is we who must before Him.
Come, let us adore Him!

When the flood is breaking
And your fear is waking,
Comfort not your soul,
Thinking the Almighty
Yielded up the right He
Once had to control.
Every river and the seas
Do His sovereign bidding purely.
This is comfort surely.

When your fortunes fail you,
Deep diseases ail you
And your death is near,
Know that Christ your Maker
He alone is Taker
Of your life and fear,
Fall before His power and pray:
Jesus, I now trust you merely,
You have bought me dearly.

By John Piper. ©Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 888.346.4700.

01 September 2005

Power


That's the only word I could use to describe this photo of hurricane Katrina making landfall.

By his power he stilled the sea; by his understanding he shattered Rahab. By his wind the heavens were made fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent. Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?"
(Job 26:12-14 ESV)


Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!
(Psalms 148:4-8 ESV)