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:


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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).

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!

One Bit of Truth to One Bit of Life

In the last session of New Attitude, C.J. Mahaney, in a message about applying God’s Word to our lives after the conference, encouraged the singles to simply apply one bit of truth to one bit of life. The one truth I felt convicted by the Spirit to apply is to involve God’s people more into my life.John Piper at Na 07
Prior to the conference, my attendance and participation in the life of my local church had been lacking. I missed church on Sundays and Care Group on Tuesdays pretty regularly. I used the excuse that I was busy with schoolwork, which was true, but in my heart I knew that I could have been more involved and could have pursued fellowship outside these church meetings. Naturally, in my flesh, I am proud and like being independent. I don’t like humbling myself by confessing my sin to others. In my pride, I believe that I can pursue sanctification in solitude apart from others’ help. After avoiding fellowship, overtime my heart began to be hardened and I was blinded by my sin to point where I felt no conviction and didn’t even desire to repent.

But praise God that He had brought my sin into the light before my caring brothers in Christ at New Attitude. By God’s grace, He has given me the will to repent and the desire to pursue Him. Thank God for not leaving us alone, but in His kindness, has provided a community of believers to help us on the path to holiness.

Here are a list of Scriptures that I am seeking to meditate on and memorize in order to apply this truth.

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:12-13)

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:5-6)

So far I’ve memorized Hebrews 3:12-13 and I am currently meditating on Hebrew 10:24-25. (If you see me, ask me to recite them!) If you know of any other verses that communicate the importance of this truth of involving others, please comment and let me know. I’m looking, in particular, for more verses that have a promise or benefit behind this command, so that I may be more motivated to include others in my spiritual life. Thanks!