Next 2009

Today I registered for Next (formerly New Attitude).  The theme this year is all about Jesus Christ: his preeminence , his incarnation, his life, his death, his resurrection, and his return. The speakers will be Josh Harris, D.A. Carson, C.J. Mahaney, Kevin DeYoung, and Sinclair Ferguson. Check out the promo video:


Knowing God, Chapter 1: The Study of God

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was planning on reading J.I. Packer’s Knowing God. Here are some of my thoughts and reflections after reading the first chapter.

Knowing about God versus Knowing God

“…if we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited. The very greatness of the subject-matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and our grasp of it; and we shall look down on those whose theological ideas seem to us crude and inadequate, and dismiss them as very poor specimens” (Knowing God, p. 17).

If you know me, you know that I love to read Christian books on doctrine and theology. After reading this chapter, I was convicted that I typically read Christian literature with the wrong motivation. Many times I read books to satisfy a desire to gain intellectual knowledge rather than as a means to know my Savior, Jesus Christ. This is evident because occasionally I’ll read a book and not really like it because I think, “That’s nothing really new. I already knew most of that.” This is revealing of my pride and arrogance. As Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Spirit, “…knowledge puffs up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2). I believe that I even do the same with Scripture at times. I can be tempted to search and study the Bible in order that I can win a theological debate (which doesn’t happen often) or to get some ideas on how to counsel a friend. Now of course the Bible reveals truths about God that we should contend for and it is useful for correction or encouragement (2 Timothy 3:16-17), but God’s Word is primarily a means of knowing the personal God it reveals. It is more than an instructional handbook for life or a theological dictionary; it is the way to commune with the Sovereign Creator of the universe. This truth was a helpful reminder in setting the stage to begin reading this book (and any Christian book for that matter).

“Our aim in studying the Godhead must be to know God himself the better. Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply the doctrine of God’s attributes, but the living God whose attributes they are. As He is the subject of our study, and our helper in it, so He must Himself be the end of it.” (Knowing God, p. 18).

Meditation

Towards the end of the chapter, Mr. Packer had some insightful thoughts on the practice of meditation. Some of it reminded me of C.J. Mahaney‘s message on Psalm 42, The Troubled Soul: God’s Word and Our Feelings, preached at this year’s New Attitude. Meditation is a discipline I am trying to grow in as I hide God’s Word in my heart and memorize Scripture. Anyway, here’s the quote:

“We have some idea, perhaps, what prayer is, but what is meditation? Well may we ask; for meditation is a lost art today, and Christian people suffer grievously from their ignorance of the practice. Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. It’s purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let His truth make its full and proper impact on one’s mind and heart. It is a matter of talking to oneself about God and oneself; it is, indeed, often a matter of arguing with oneself, reasoning oneself out of moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God’s power and grace. Its effect is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God’s greatness and glory, and our own littleness and sinfulness, and to encourage and reassure us–‘comfort’ us, the old, strong, Bible sense of the word–as we contemplate the unsearchable riches of divine mercy displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Knowing God, p. 18-19).

2008 Reading

Here are a list of books that I am currently reading or plan on reading by the end of the year 2008. Several of these books I’ve already started reading and am slowly reading through each. After each title I’ll give a brief blurb why I am reading it, how much I’ve read so far, etc. (Click on the image of the book for more details about it.)

I’ve been reading through this with a group of men from my church, but the group hasn’t met for a while. So far we’ve gotten through the fifth chapter. It was partly because of the fifth chapter on reading the Bible and Christian literature that I was compelled to write this post. I’m not a huge fan of his writing style, but there are many truths that have provoked me and I pray that God may use this to grow me into a more godly man.

The Atonement is a book that I decided to read for a few reasons. I have resolved to read at least one book on the cross per year and this is that book. I need to meditate frequently on what God has done for me in Christ, so that I don’t wallow in condemnation of my sin, let my feelings inform me, or slip into legalism and self-atonement. I don’t ever want to forget that Christ died for my sins. I don’t ever want to lose sight of Calvary. I picked up this book while eagerly anticipating Shai Linne’s sophomore album with the same title. I wanted to prepare myself to hear the precious truths of what Christ has done on my behalf that I could not achieve. I just read chapter two on “Sacrifice” this afternoon and it was gold.

I’ve been reading through this book with my care group. So far we have read through seven chapters. Recently was I really encouraged and challenged by my friend, Michele, who was significantly impacted by the message of this book. She realized that she was “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20) and therefore she ought to glorify God in her body.

I borrowed this book from a friend a long time ago, but I didn’t begin reading it until recently. I figured since I’m 24 now it might be a good idea to start thinking about marriage. Hopefully this book will somewhat prepare me to love one woman as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25).

Another dating, relationship-type book. I’m reading this not only in preparation for marriage/courtship, but also to learn to apply the roles of biblical masculinity and understand biblical femininity. C.J. Mahaney endorsed this book at last year’s New Attitude. I’ve read the first two chapters and it’s quite different from what I expected it to be. The author not only uses scripture, but many times draws truths from other secular resources.

I plan on reading this in the summer. My pastor and several friends highly recommended reading this book. I’ve been wanting to read a puritan book for a while because I’ve never read through a whole one yet.

I plan on reading classic with another group of men. (Hopefully, this won’t fall off like the other group.) I’ve read through about half this book, but never finished it. (I’ve written a post on it before.) I think this book will be more profitable when I read and discuss it through with other men who are older and wiser than me.

Na ’08

I just registered for New Attitude 2008. Watch the promo video below and check out the website for articles, blogs, free downloads and updates on the conference. The theme this year is on the Doctrine of Scripture. The line up of preachers are C.J. Mahaney, Josh Harris, Eric Simmons, John Piper, Al Mohler, and Mark Dever. You should register now! I can’t wait!