I found this resource today. Mark Dever has a short booklist for biblical theology.
I found this resource today. Mark Dever has a short booklist for biblical theology.
Scott Zeller asked if I would post this list…and as all things SZ I am honored to serve.
I know that the list is “one book”, but in some cases several books came to mind.
1. One book that changed your life: Future Grace by Piper; Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Tripp, A Call to Spiritual Reformation by D.A Carson
2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Minister as Shepherd Charles Jefferson, Most Jerry Bridges Books.
3. One book you’d want on a desert island: Systematic Theology: Wayne Grudem
4. One book that made you laugh: Letters from a Nut by Ted L. Nancy…I laughed out loud by myself.
5. One book that made you cry: I am more of a movie crier…but Where is the Mango Princess? By Cathy Crimmins is as close as I have gotten…unless you count my undergraduate transcripts.
6. One book you wish had been written: Autobiography of Walt Disney
7. One book you wish had never been written: The Koran
8. One book you’re currently reading: Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold A. Dallimore
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: The Brothers Karamazov; His Excellency George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis
I will be away from my regular weekly post for the month of August. I will return to it after Labor Day.
In the economy of God’s grace there is a both common and specific expression. God’s common graces are those events and items that both the sinner and the saint can enjoy. God’s specific grace are reserved only for those who, though repentance and faith, are redeemed by the words and works of Jesus Christ.
The following is a list (in no particular order) my top five common graces:
A WORK OF FINE ART
From a sculpture to a watercolor…nothing captures God’s common grace like a hand crafted piece of fine art.
A WELL PREPARED AND PRESENTED MEAL:
There are few things in life that can compare to the finest ingredients prepared and plated to perfection.
Think of the many cultures and flavors that God has given to all peoples to enjoy.
A fine chocolate. A perfectly prepared steak. Fresh picked vegetables and fruits.
Now I am including the fact that where you eat this fine meal is essential. Pick your category. High-rise building at night or a crisp ocean balcony.
A SUFFICIENT REST
After working hard… to find the best spot and sleep until one is rested…but not oversleeping.
Air circulation is key…cool yet comfortable.
A KISS FROM YOUR TRUE LOVE
I am not talking your high school prom date…I mean true interpersonal intimacy.
A SWEET ROCK AND ROLL LYRIC
Nothing beats rock and roll to display (in a crooked mirror) an exact replication of the soul of man.
Nothing displays the view of something better than a song lyric, and nothing kicks like rock and roll…especially the infamous rock ballet.
There you have it…Now, I understand that some might argue for an expression of athletic mastery to be considered under the top five. I did not include my basket ball skills as one of the top five for a reason…. my basketball game falls in another theological category of God’s grace.
Today, I finished the book Listening to Prozac by Peter D. Kramer. The following is an excerpt of my interaction with the material:
The argument is made in every case study that there are clear biological influences that impact a particular mood or personality. Personality is a delicate balance of biological dispositions and acquired self-revelation. Neural structures are impacted by the thoughts and desires of an individual. Particular medications (Prozac) have helped redirect/rebuild the neural structures through serotonin enhanced actions that enable heightened awareness of improved self. Kramer makes the point (p.127) that maybe psychotherapy affects the neural structures as well. This is an interesting theory. Biblically we understand that there is a unity of the inner and outer man (Proverbs 27:19; Matt 26:41). Authentic change comes from the “heart” and is reflected in the actions of the outer man (Matt 12:33-37). I believe that eventually the counseling movement will gain insight as to the biological evidence of change. Observable higher levels of serotonin in a hopeful heart submitted to Christ is not beyond medical plausibility. However, Kramer’s premise is fundamentally flawed. The “animal” or “physical” part of man does not dictate man. The body can influence the choices of the soul, but it can not dictate it. Being physically burdened does influence thoughts and actions, but it never overpowers personal choice. We are no longer slaves to our sin and the effects therein (Romans 6). Raising or lowering the serotonin levels (or dopamine) in an individual will have a greater influence physically, but will never make a choice for an individual spiritually. Divine revelation and not medically guided self-revelation is the true pathway to authentic change (Psalm 119:105). I do however agree with Kramer’s theory. Because of the unity of the inner and outer man, authentic change should yield observable biologically reconstructed neural structures in individuals. I believe that is why Kramer is so hesitant to embrace the change he sees in patients on Prozac. It short cuts the process of change. The “work” of change (authentic view of self in view of the Divine) is not experienced but the benefits of it (purpose and peace) are through re-engineering the brain. The fragile state of this kind medical change is evidenced when the patient is off the drug or the prescriptions are altered. We should patiently and thoughtfully navigate through our medicated subculture, but never underestimate the transformational power of Divine Revelation.
“Let him who cannot be alone be aware of community…Let him who is not in community beware of being alone….”
“Each by itself (personal solitude and community fellowship) has profound pitfalls and perils. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self infatuation, and despair.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer Life Together pp.77-78
What place should spiritual solitude and the church small group picnic have in the prioritization of the spiritual disciplines? I am balanced by the words and works of our Lord “Love God, Love People” (Matt 22:36-40) is a catch phrase that is easy to remember and daily to develop. Ultimately, no one can have intimacy with Christ without intimacy in fellowship because you forsake one by over indulging the other. Humanly speaking, individuals are prone to side predominately on one side of this spiritual equilibrium. Either they are addicted to people and neglect personal intersession with Christ, or they love divine intersession but pridefully navigate through life only from their perspective. Christ calibrates for the Christian a divine equilibrium in Loving God to Love others for His glory. Understanding that both knowledge and wisdom are required of the children of God, how can one pursue one without seemingly forsaking the other?
It light of that…let’s think about spiritual solitude.
I am becoming more convinced that the purpose and design for solitude is to develop the Christian for fellowship in community (first Christian then secular)….not for some personally exclusive spiritual health. Solitude in Word and prayer empowers the Christian to be Christian. Acquiring doctrine can not be the end goal, the applying doctrine is. I enter solitude to center the desires of my heart on the unfolding plan of redemption with the purpose of then participating in it (I Peter 1-2; I John 4:11-12). It is from these times of regular personal interaction with the Word and Spirit that I can, with Christ-centered boldness, navigate life and community.
One can observe this modeled in the life of Christ. Frequently, he goes away for solitude especially before and after times of intentional and intense fellowship and engaging community. If the point of solitude was designed exclusively to progress in personal consecration why would Christ desire it/need it? Rather, we see Christ engage his heart in divine fellowship with the Father empowered to present the kingdom to others in both word and deed.
Let us remind ourselves these questions:
Why am I not pursuing regular spiritual solitude? Am I proactively looking for ways to apply biblical truth? Which is easier…solitude or community? How can I bring my solitude to community? Why am I going to solitude?
Most unbelievers I have talked with (including just recently) claim that they are happy and describe “good” things to define it. The reality is that the “good” in “good things” comes from the giver not the gift. Only in its proper place within the redemptive plan of God does the “good things” of family, money, sex and motorcycles become truly enjoyable and not defining. Only through supernatural insights can an appetite be transformed to enjoy the goodness of a particular thing while not disturbing the hunger for the “greatest thing”.
This takes daily discipline and devotion to center the heart to “seek and savor” that which is goodness and truth.
That’s one of the reasons I am drawn to prayer and scripture is to cultivate a heart that can enjoy, discern, and promote what is good and true.
“(the viability of the church in a culture that is saturated with a thousand other voices) involves contextualization and “disenculturalization” at the same time. You speak in a way that the culture understands as you challenge that very culture.”
This quote stimulated my thinking.
How engaged should I be with art and pop culture? I understand that in southern California Pop culture is the main “watering hole” that all ages can speak to. Especially college students. Obviously, we can not use our freedom as a means for the flesh, and to gauge weather you are watching discerningly or self-deceptively will ultimately be decided at the Great White Throne judgment. I want to surround myself with faithful friends wo are on both sides of the argumentation to both help me discern and to push by man fearing. All of that to say, I ran across this quote today from Tim Lane that helps me compass my thinking even more the goal of being (pop) culturaly relevant.
Yep, I have loved the idea of blogging and now I am in. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.