Monthly Archives: February 2014

One man’s pursuit of God

In his (mostly) excellent and provocative book, Church Zero, Peyton Jones tells this stirring account of his pursuit of God in revival:

“Years ago, as a college student, I read countless books on revival and was so moved in my own soul that I kept looking to the church to see it happen. After receiving countless puzzled looks after trying to share my burden, I realised it wasn’t going to happen in my church. I was in advanced microbiology at the time, and so I decided to start an experiment. Just like a cultured agar dish, I sought to see what would happen if I really went for it with God, no strings attached. My agar dish caught fire.

“Now that would be bad in a science class but gets top marks in your spiritual life. I sought the Lord every morning for a couple of hours and then prayed in the afternoons for revival as I drove from Huntington Beach to Hermosa Beach and back. As I drove in my old VW up the 405 freeway, I begged God to send a consuming fire that would ignite our love and passion for Jesus. I started fasting on Sundays and setting the whole day aside to read through Lloyd-Jones’s eight-volume commentary on Ephesians. I was 18 years old. In front of the fireplace of my living room, with a cup of vanilla almond tea in one hand and the Word of God in the other, I started to learn how to go on a date with God. Just me, the Doctor, the Republic of Tea, and God.

“A fire was lit in the hearth of my soul that burned hotter than the fireplace. My experiment worked. I sought the Spirit of God with all my heart, found Him, and was filled. It was personal revival. Revival might not have been raging outside me, or around me, but my soul wouldn’t be satisfied with that excuse. In the spirit of Moses who pitched his tent away from the camp, crying desperately to God, “Show me Your glory!” I wanted to see His glory so badly that I didn’t care who came with me. I had gone it alone, but I didn’t stay alone for long.

“Because fire spreads.”

(Peyton Jones, Church Zero, p.208 loc.2489)

Profound, provocative, and prophetic – doug wilson on marriage

This is the most provocative and helpful book on marriage that I have read. It is always a joy reading Doug Wilson because of his sheer excellence as a writer, which is coupled with his willingness to write things few others would. He manages to do it in a way that challenges you, while amusing you all at the same time.

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Chances are you won’t agree with everything (or perhaps a lot of things) in here. But if you don’t, you’ll be forced to consider why your perspective is more truthful, or more Biblical. He swings a hammer at most of the sacred cows of our age, and with each blow the iron seems to land square on the forehead.

If you’re married, hoping to get married, or intrigued as to what a Christian view of marriage looks like, read this book. But it is particularly men who must read this book. The tidal waves of cultural change have wreaked havoc with the family, and with godly masculinity, and it is now rare (in Britain at least) to find families that embody the scriptural values. Men don’t know how to lead, and they certainly don’t know how to teach their family. It is on these themes that Wilson really hits hard, and hits below the belt.

The challenges cut both ways, and women are addressed as relevantly as men. For example, on submission in marriage he writes:

“To say a husband should be the leader of his wife is not to say that any and every man is capable of being a spiritual leader, provider, comforter, and protector to any and every woman. Some might argue that the Christian doctrine of submission requires the belief that any man can lead any woman. This is more than false; it is ridiculous.

Women are not created to respond and submit to just anybody. A godly woman is therefore going to limit her range of options.”

Still, it is men who will gain most from reading Wilson. For example, hear him on the call of fathers to teach their family the Bible:

“As the expectations for men in the evangelical world have gotten lower, men have not objected–they have breathed a sigh of relief.

But a man who speaks for his house, as Joshua did, must be a man who teaches his house, and he must be a man who refuses to submit his family to the foolishness of unbelief–whether the unbelief is dressed up in liberal or pop-evangelical clothes makes little difference…

So the first thing necessary is that a husband must establish his home as a confessional home. This means he must know what he believes, and he must communicate and teach this confession of faith to his family.”

Read, repent, and see God revive family life along Biblical lines.

Some very useful apps

I have a love-hate relationship with technology, and in particular, my iPhone. There are days when it just seems to be a constant source of distraction. But when you discover an app that genuinely makes life easier, and helps you achieve things, it’s worth sharing. Three of my favourites:

1. Mailbox

This app enables you to get your inbox down to zero by handling your email in a very, very smart way. The main feature is the ability to defer emails to the right time (e.g. tell an email to return to your inbox tomorrow). This sounds like it might turn a procrastinator into an even worse procrastinator, but in my experience the opposite is true. I am able to deal with my emails far more effectively.

2. Lift

Lift is the simplest yet most powerful app on my phone. All it does it allow me to check off when I’ve done something that day. So, let’s say I have a goal to exercise every day; by putting “Exercise” as a goal into the app, and marking the days when I do some exercise, I can keep focussed on some long-term goals that I might otherwise forget. The icon sits on my dock and serves as a constant reminder to go for the most important goals before I tackle other things.

3. 7 Minute Workout

Apparently this is based on some bona fide science. The idea is to workout fairly intensively for a short amount of time, following a set routine, and using nothing but a chair and your own body weight (which is quite considerable in my case). If you keep at it consistently you’ll start to build up some muscle mass, and lose some fat. Whether or not it’s a smart way of exercising, the truth is I was doing nothing before, so 7 minutes has to be better than that.

Concentration in Prayer

Luther urges concentration in prayer:

“So, a good and attentive barber keeps his thoughts, attention, and eyes on the razor and hair and does not forget how far he has gotten with his shaving or cutting. If he wants to engage in too much conversation or let his mind wander or look somewhere else he is likely to cut his customer’s mouth, nose, or even his throat. Thus if anything is to be done well, it requires the full attention of all one’s senses and members, as the proverb says, ‘Pluribus intentus, minor est ad singula sensus’—‘He who thinks of many things, thinks of nothing and does nothing right.’ How much more does prayer call for concentration and singleness of heart if it is to be a good prayer!”

(Martin Luther, A Simple Way to Pray)