The Purpose of Life: Theologian Herman Bavinck writes: “The purpose of human life is fellowship with God; to live in him is life’s goal” (Reformed Ethics 250). If you are honest, what has been the ultimate purpose in your life? Financial security? Being respected? Even something good such as caring for your family? God does not want to share the throne in your heart with anyone or anything. He is a jealous God. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God . . .” (Exodus 20:4–5).
My Pastor On Sunday: “The Gospel is not merely a beneficial moral tool for raising our children.”
Fatherhood & Emotions: I finished reading a chapter titled, “Fathers and Sons” in Raising Cane: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys. I will be sharing several insights from this book over the next few weeks. Here is one point that I found so powerful and sad: “Our culture’s historical assignment of relationship work to women has turned emotions into a disregarded ‘second language’ for men.” As a father partnering with my wife, I want to help him develop a high EQ (emotional intelligence). EQ is more important than IQ!
A Helpful Chart I Prayed Through Recently: Jesus said that the truth will set us free (John 8:32).
Herman Bavinck on Testing and Temptation: Reformed theologian Bavinck does a wonderful job distinguishing between testing and temptation. He writes that God is the only one that tests us and Satan is the only one that tempts us. That being said, he does say that God does allow temptation (an obvious point since it happens) or even arranges our circumstances so that we are sometimes led to it (The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted in Matthew 4:1 but it was still Satan who tempted). Bavinck writes that Satan is the “author of all temptation” and that it is always “intended to make someone worse.” This is so insightful. On the other hand, testing comes from God and “seeks only to bring the truth (what someone is) to light.” They can even occur at the same time. What God intends as a test Satan will try and turn into temptation. This is a remarkable insight, that one single moment and situation can be both a test from God and a temptation from Satan. Of course, the test often comes first but Satan piggybacks on it and seeks to pervert it. Bavinck writes: “Whatever God sends our way as a trial (test), Satan arranges as a temptation.” He also writes, “testing and temptation occur by the same means, but differ in their originator and in their intention.” Wow. This might be the most insightful and helpful content that I have ever read on the difference between God testing us and Satan tempting us. Oh how sweet is the taste of God’s wisdom.
Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning: This is by far one of the most profound books that I have ever read. The first part is his account of surviving four concentration camps; the second part is a summary of Logotherapy, a psychotherapy based on the human drive to find meaning in life (as opposed to Freuds’ emphasis on pleasure and Adler’s emphasis on power (essentially taken from the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche in combination with Adler’s sickly childhood). It is compatible with the Gospel in so many ways, something I hope to write about in the near future.
Probing Question for Your Marriage: I receive an email in my inbox from Marriage Matters. It is full of advice and is often helpful. Today’s email presented a question for each spouse to consider. I was really challenged because I’ve been thinking about it this lately, especially considering that it is so easy for me be really short with those around me when I get stressed. Here is the question: What do you think it is like to be around you?
A Poem to Pray: This is one of the poems that my wife reads at Morning Time at breakfast right now. Upon hearing it for the first time, I immediately said: “I am going to memorize it.” I loved it. I especially like the focus on “little” throughout the poem. Being a Christian is a call to walk humbly and allow the Holy Spirit to use our “little” words and acts to bless others. The author is Matilda B. Edwards.
God make my life a little light, Within the world to glow,- A tiny flame that burneth bright, Wherever I may go.
God make my life a little flower, That giveth joy to all;- Content to bloom in native bower Although its place be small.
God make my life a little song, That comforteth the sad; That helpeth others to be strong, And makes the singer glad.
God make my life a little staff Whereon the weak may rest,- That so what health and strength I have May serve my neighbor best.
God make my life a little hymn Of tenderness and praise,- Of faith, that never waxeth dim, In all His wondrous ways.
Journaling to Freedom: Do you ever feel torn? Conflicted? Today I spent time with the Lord listing the multiple interests and passions that are pulling me in such different directions. It can be really hard for me to decide where to put my time because there are so many things in my heart but such limited time. In line with James 1:5–8, I asked God for wisdom. What is most important to Him? What are my limitations? What is realistic? What is in my heart? I am exploring these questions and more before I just keep myself busy with “good things” that may not be where God wants my focus. James 1:5 reads: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all…”