You must kiss me, but not that kind of must

John Piper, Desiring God, pg.93-94:

YOU MUST KISS ME, BUT NOT THAT KIND OF MUST

Consider the analogy of a wedding anniversary. Mine is on December 21. Suppose on this day I bring home a dozen long-stemmed roses for Noël. When she meets me at the door, I hold out the roses, and she says, “O Johnny, they’re beautiful; thank you” and gives me a big hug. Then suppose I hold up my hand and say matter-of-factly, “Don’t mention it; it’s my duty.”

What happens? Is not the exercise of duty a noble thing? Do not we honor those we dutifully serve? Not much. Not if there’s no heart in it. Dutiful roses are a contradiction in terms. If I am not moved by a spontaneous affection for her as a person, the roses do not honor her. In fact, they belittle her. They are a very thin covering for the fact that she does not have the worth or beauty in my eyes to kindle affection. All I can muster is a calculated expression of marital duty.

Here is the way Edward John Carnell puts it:

Suppose a husband asks his wife if he must kiss her good night. Her answer is, “You must, but not that kind of a must.” What she means is this: “Unless a spontaneous affection for my person motivates you, your overtures are stripped of all moral value.”6

The fact is, many of us have failed to see that duty toward God can never be restricted to outward action. Yes, we must worship Him. “But not that kind of must.” What kind then? The kind C. S. Lewis described to Sheldon Vanauken: “It is a Christian duty, as you know, for everyone to be as happy as he can.”7

The real duty of worship is not the outward duty to say or do the liturgy. It is the inward duty, the command: “Delight yourself in the LORD”! (Psalm 37:4). “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice!” (Psalm 32:11).

The reason this is the real duty of worship is that it honors God, while the empty performance of ritual does not. If I take my wife out for the evening on our anniversary and she asks me, “Why do you do this?” the answer that honors her most is “Because nothing makes me happier tonight than to be with you.”

“It’s my duty” is a dishonor to her. “It’s my joy” is an honor. There it is! The feast of Christian Hedonism. How shall we honor God in worship? By saying, “It’s my duty”? Or by saying, “It’s my joy”? Worship is a way of reflecting back to God the radiance of His worth. Now we see that the mirror that catches the rays of His radiance and reflects them
back in worship is the joyful heart. Another way of saying this is to say

The chief end of man is to glorify God
by
enjoying Him forever.

Book Review: The Meaning of the Millennium

This is a review of

Clouse, Robert G., ed. The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views.
Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1977. 223 pp.  $16.99

Copyright © 2008 by Alex S. Leung. All rights reserved.

Introduction

The Meaning of the MillenniumThe kingdom of God is a topic of significant discussion in the church, and especially in theological academia.  Over the past fifty years, there still have been serious disagreements in the doctrine of Last Things between historic Premillennialists, Dispensational Premillennialists, Postmillennialists and Amillennialists.  Because of this ongoing discussion, Christians must seek to understand God’s word and come to an interpretation of Revelation 20:1-6 that is faithful to the inerrancy of Scripture and the whole counsel of God.  For this reason, The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views was compiled in order to help Christians on this endeavor.

Each chapter contains an essay on one of the four views of the millennium, followed by a brief response by each of the other three theologians.  In this manner, readers are enabled to analyze each view for their own strengths and weaknesses, and consequently come to their own conclusion about which view is most tenable. Continue reading

Book Review & Response: War of Words (Paul David Tripp)

The following is a Book Review and Response of

Tripp, Paul David. War of Words.  Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2000.  245pp.  $14.99.

Copyright © 2008 by Alex S. Leung. All rights reserved.

I. What I’ve Learned

In Paul David Tripp’s War of Words, the biblical counselor addresses one of the most difficult issues in all of counseling: the struggle of communication.  Since our God is a speaking God and the Lord of language, he has given us the ability to speak and communicate through words.  However, it is necessary to grasp that words do not belong to us but rather God, and for this very reason, our words are to be regulated by God’s word as found in the Holy Bible.  On this foundation, Tripp teaches us a few important truths that we ought to embrace in this war of words.  For myself, I was reminded about the idolatry of words, the purpose of words, and the choice of words.

The Idolatry of Words

Because we live in a fallen world where the presence of sin is still prevalent, we must admit that there is a war for our words.  How is this possible, except that we know that we do not fight against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces that fill the heavenly realms (39).  To get at the heart of the struggle in words is not to find better techniques or methods of communication, but to address the deeper – the deepest – issue behind the things that we say to each other, namely our heart (54-56).  For as children of God, we know that it is from the heart that our true desires are revealed.  When we say things that are hurtful and unhelpful, we ought to see the heart problem that belies such sin, because in such situations are we given the opportunity and occasion for our true hearts to reveal themselves.

The question thus becomes, What is ruling our hearts and our desires?  Is it God, or something else?  The truth of the matter is that an “idolatrous heart will produce idol words (56).”  Fights and quarrels ensue when we want something and we do not get it from; happiness and appreciation, on the other hand, ensue when others help us get what we want.  Tripp admits that with such a mindset, “human conflict is rooted in spiritual adultery (59)” but the beauty of the gospel is in that it gives us a new heart that is no longer slave to the desires of the flesh.  I myself am reminded by this very gospel truth, that there should be a consequent change in my behavior, thoughts and motives. Continue reading

Book Review & Response: A Quest For More (Paul David Tripp)

The following is a Book Review and Response of

Tripp, Paul David. A Quest For More.
Greesnsboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2007. 210pp. $15.99.

Copyright © 2008 by Alex S. Leung. All rights reserved.

I. What I’ve Learned

In Paul David Tripp’s A Quest For More, the acclaimed biblical counselor, lecturer, and pastor writes a convincing testimony about the universal journey for “more” in life. He navigates through the depths of human heart to unlock what it means to live for the big kingdom of God instead of the little kingdom of self. Instead of writing an exegetical exposition concerning “kingdom” passages or a systematic theology about the “Kingdom of God”, Tripp combines his Nouthetic counseling experience and pastoral insights to form a simple but sanctifying book that meditates on what Christ Jesus truly meant when he called his disciples to seek first his kingdom.

In review of what I have learned from this book, I shall arrange my thoughts into three categories taken from the book: the War of Kingdoms, the Center and Focus, and the Hopeful Satisfaction.

1) The War of Kingdoms

One significant truth that I have learned is about the War of Kingdoms. We are a people who were never made to live for ourselves or the world that we find ourselves in, but on the contrary, we are a people that have been made for transcendence, for “more”, as Tripp beautifully put it. Innate in mankind is a desire to make a difference with our lives, to be part of something big. But the sad part of the story is that because of the sin the saturates our nature, permeates our flesh, and enslaves our hearts and minds, our lives become self-focused instead of God-focused, little kings who rule a little kingdom instead letting the big King to rule his Big kingdom. How can this be, for God has placed in us a desire for transcendence, and made us live for more than ourselves! Consider Tripp’s own words as he reveals to us of our sin:

We were meant to do more than make sure that all our needs are fulfilled and all our desires are satisfied. We were never meant to be self-focused little kings ruling miniscule little kingdoms with a population of one. […] It is a fundamental denial of your humanity to narrow the size of your life to the size of your own existence, because you were created to be an above and “more” being. You were made to be transcendent. (16-17)

Our transcendence is tied directly to the glory of God. More than that, this transcendent glory that we all desire finds its end and purpose in the person of God in Christ. This is a kind of glory that conforms to a lifestyle of stewardship of God’s creation, community among the people of God and love for the truth of God as found in his divinely inspired Scriptures. However, “in a fallen world there is a powerful pressure to constrict your life to the shape and size of your life. There is a compelling tendency to forget who you are and who you are made for” (22).

While sin may cause us to talk about more and only settle for less, this is the very purpose for which God sent his Son – our Redeemer – to earth. Through the justifying and adopting sacrifice of Christ on the cross in our place and for our sins, the LORD has restored us to the God glory that should be central to everything we are and all that we do. Through the atoning blood of Jesus, God has rescued us from a life glories only in our own lives and personal concerns – he has delivered us into a life of Light that lives with him, for him, and through him.

This is the essence of the war of kingdoms: the kingdom of man and of this world has continually been in conflict with the kingdom of heaven and of God (50). By the grace of God, our old way of living for earth-bound treasures and anxiety-bound needs has been miraculously transformed into a new way of living – a life that is “driven by a focus on the transcendent glories of God’s big kingdom purposes (58).” Continue reading

What He Must Be… If He Wants to Marry My Daughter

What He Must Be: …If He Wants to Marry My Daughter

by Voddie T. Baucham Jr.

ISBN-10: 1581349300
ISBN-13: 9781581349306

Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 224
Expected: Feb 28, 2009

All parents want their daughters to marry godly young men. But which qualities, specifically, should they be looking for?

What will you say when that certain young man sits down in your living room, sweaty-palmed and tongue-tied, and asks your permission to marry your daughter? What criteria should he meet before the two of them join together for life? What He Must Be… If He Wants to Marry My Daughter outlines ten qualities parents should look for in a son-in-law, including trustworthiness, a willingness to lead his family, an understanding of his wife’s role, and various spiritual leadership qualities.

Author Voddie Baucham follows up on his popular book Family Driven Faith with this compelling apologetic of biblical manhood. By studying the principles outlined in his book, parents who want their daughter to marry a godly man—as well as those who want their sons to become godly men—will be well equipped to help their children look for and develop these God-honoring qualities.

Book Review: Vaughan Roberts’ Life’s Big Questions

Roberts, Vaughan. Life’s Big Questions.
Leicester, UK: IVP, 2004. 175pp. $13.00.

Copyright © 2008 by Alex S. Leung. All rights reserved.

Introduction

Vaughan Roberts - Life's Big QuestionsThe Christian Bible is the worldwide best-selling book that has been published in numerous languages and translations. Spanning over 2000 years of history, it was originally written by about 40 human authors in 2 languages who utilized many different literary genres. It is an enormous volume of 66 divinely inspired and authoritative books that form God’s Word to us. With its variety of literary forms and extensive recording of history, any reader would soon wonder how this extraordinary Book could be read in an ordinary way. How can anybody read and understand the Bible as a whole? How can it have a single message that links together all the different accounts of God’s work?

In Life’s Big Questions, Vaughan Roberts shows us how there is unity in the diversity of the Scriptures. Building off of his previous acclaimed work (God’s Big Picture, 2003), Roberts presents the Kingdom of God as a unifying theme for the whole Bible and then seeks to answer six of life’s big questions with this theme in mind. For this book review, I hope to critically analyze the author’s thesis/purpose, the methods he has used in explaining it, and his success in achieving his purpose.
Continue reading