Psychological Theories . . . Accepted By Faith?

“Before you see a client, you have theories: theories about what is normal and abnormal, theories about motivation, theories about how we know, theories of right and wrong, and yes, theories about God. These assumptions . . . came from your culture, family, religious background, influential professors, graduate program, and many other factors. You have been indoctrinated in a set of presuppositions that are empirically unverifiable. You accept them by faith.”

Edward T. Welch, “A Discussion Among Clergy: Pastoral Counseling Talks With Secular Psychology,” The Journal of Biblical Counseling 13, no. 2 (1995): 24.


The Binding of Isaac

Genesis 22:1-3 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

During my first quarter of taking biblical Hebrew as an undergrad, about seven weeks in or so, the professor had the class dive into BHS, reading from it for the last portion of each class. We began with Genesis 22. Upon reaching the end of the quarter, we knew that questions from the chapter would be on the final exam. The night before the exam, I was reading the passage for maybe the 40th time in the past 3 weeks, probably the 10th time that day alone, and reached the words “Abraham rose early in the morning” in verse 3. A knife to my heart. What unreserved obedience.

Advice to Missionaries

From Adoniram Judson:

Beware of the reaction which will take place soon after reaching your field of labor. There you will perhaps find native Christians, of whose merits or demerits you can not judge correctly without some familiar acquaintance with their language. Some appearances will combine to disappoint and disgust you. You will meet with disappointments and discouragements, of which it is impossible to form a correct idea from written accounts, and which will lead you, at first, almost to regret that you have embarked in the cause. You will see men and women whom you have been accustomed to view through a telescope some thousands of miles long. Such an instrument is apt to magnify. Beware, therefore, of the reaction you will experience from a combination of all these causes, lest you become disheartened at commencing your work, or take up a prejudice against some persons and places, which will embitter all your future lives. . . . Beware of the greater reaction which will take place after you have acquired the language, and become fatigued and worn out with preaching the gospel to a disobedient and gainsaying people. You will sometimes long for a quiet retreat, where you can find a respite from the tug of toiling at native work — the incessant, intolerable friction of the missionary grindstone. And Satan will sympathize with you in this matter; and he will present some chapel of ease, in which to officiate in your native tongue, some government situation, some professorship or editorship, some literary or scientific pursuit, some supernumerary translation, or, at least, some system of schools; anything, in a word, that will help you, without much surrender of character, to slip out of real missionary work. Such a temptation will form the crisis of your disease. If your spiritual constitution can sustain it, you recover; if not, you die.

HT: Desiring God

Read Judson’s entire letter here. So glad to come across this.

One Life To Live

Have you ever felt like you were not living the way you were created to live, and if each year for the next 50 years looked like this one, you would look in the mirror, gray and wrinkled, and feel like you’ve completely wasted so much of your life? Yet it’s okay to take it easy because you’re young and you have forever to live a life of significance. Someone once said, “Who you are today is who you are becoming.” And should it be that you don’t have another 50 years to live but a mere 5 minutes, what are you doing today to make your life count? Jonathan Edwards, when he was a teenager, wrote, “Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.” How often do you think about death? Let’s not think about that, let’s enjoy the moment.

“Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.” – Jonathan Edwards

Life is not one party after another. Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying live miserable and depressed. I’m not saying don’t go to parties. I’m not saying don’t enjoy what God has blessed you with. What I’m saying is that you should not have to be reminded day after day that people are perishing, and you should not have to be persuaded not to be apathetic about that. In all your business and activities and youth, don’t forget that life is about more than a preoccupation with clothes and sales and tans.

You could live a life of significance. That doesn’t mean being popular, or famous, or rich, or a CEO, or just like your favorite celebrity, or that your friendships will mimic the cast of your favorite TV show. You want your life to count? Your friendships will look nothing like the friendships from your TV show. No one will want to be like your friends. The world will not want to be just like you because you do things no one else wants to do. You serve when everyone else wants to be served. You give when everyone else wants to receive. You do the dishes when no one else wants to. You clean the apartment when no one else seems to. You serve the church with all your heart, and don’t complain about how imperfect it is. You love people not because they love you in return, but even when they don’t. You pray for people when they are unkind to you. You respect authority. You honor your parents. You bless your enemies. You are not cliquey or partial with your friendships, and you ask for forgiveness when you are. You don’t play around in sin, and you definitely don’t love it when you do. You find, as we all do, that your failings are many in all of this. You endeavor still to do these things, from assurance, not insecurity; and you don’t say “being a Christian is tough” or “ministry is hard” at the end of the day, but realize you are an unworthy servant and weep at your own sinful yet forgiven heart, and pray that it would be more inclined to serve sacrificially and impartially like your precious Lord deserves. You realize any good wrought in you is all grace.

Your life will not make it as the next TV show with the cast whose lives everyone wants to emulate. You do these things even if for the next 50 years not a single person recognizes you for them, because you really do believe that the Lord sees and that the Lord is pleased, and you don’t aim to please man but God. You sing “Oh to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be” at church and live each day like you actually mean it. You want to love your neighbor as yourself, and so when you see that your neighbor is suffering or has a lack of resources or oh so much more significantly, has eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear, you don’t ignore your neighbor or wait for your neighbor to ask for your affection and time, all with the statement “God wants me to enjoy my life.” …You are afraid to wrongly interpret and apply Scripture.

Look back on your life so far. What do you have of eternal significance to show? On that judgment day you will be stripped of all your excuses. I don’t want you to stand there and wish you could do it all over again. I don’t want to stand there and wish I could do it all over again.  You may be a full-time employee, you may be a full-time student, you may be a full-time mom, you may be a combination of those, your life may be full of events and activities. You could still do everything above. I intentionally did not include anything about missions when I say to you, make your life count. Though not to suggest that you should not be involved in missions. John Piper once said, there are those who go, those who send, and those who are disobedient. I didn’t include missions in here to demonstrate that you could live a life that is not wasted even if you’re living in a place like LA amidst all the noise and distractions and triviality. Everything all around you may seem to suggest that it is normal to live an apathetic, lukewarm life. There’s nothing normal about it. Don’t look around you to see what’s normal. Look to the Word of God. Look to what God has commanded of you and that is what’s normal. Turn off the TV, pass up on one of the events or parties, close the door, open your Bible, dwell in it, seek the Lord. You will see that it is not normal to live an apathetic life. And on that judgment day, you will not regret the time you spent praying to the Lord, seeking to know Him, studying His Word. You will not regret giving, serving, loving, yielding everything for the cause of Christ.

Do you really want to be used by the Lord? Know this, the world needs the Word of God. I want the Lord to use me too, but I realized something. I’m not making myself useful. I know so little of the Word of God and I don’t pursue holiness with the vigor that I should. I spend too much time watching TV. I realized this when I was having a conversation and knew that if I had spent more time studying the Bible, I would be more useful in that moment. The hours I’ve wasted. Let’s encourage each other in the Lord daily. I know I need it. O how I need to exhort my own soul in these very things as I’m writing at this moment. Are you equipped in the Word of God? Are you holy? Are you yielded? Flee from your idols. Mortify your sin. Seek the Lord. He will help you and preserve you and encourage your heart with the Gospel when you fail. Who hasn’t failed? Keep going in the strength that He provides after you fail. And know that your life will be infinitely better than what you see on the TV shows. You will enjoy a life that is truly life; and more precious to your heart, dear Christian, than anything else, you will honor King Jesus.

Don’t Waste It

“People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives, and when the bubble has burst they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.” – Nate Saint

“Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.” – Jonathan Edwards

Ann Judson of Burma, Pt. 2

I can’t describe how much it has encouraged my heart in reading about the life of Ann Judson to know how serious she and her husband were about the fruit of repentance and true saving faith.

For example, in April 1819, after 6 years on the mission field with no conversions, Ann did not settle for a profession of faith lacking evidence, but looked for regeneration. She wrote:

[One woman] said, she believed in Christ, prayed to him daily, and asked what else was necessary to make her a real disciple of Christ. I told her that she must not only say that she believed in Christ, but must believe with all her heart. I told her the manner of life would be changed; but one of the best evidences she could obtain would be when others came to quarrel with her and use abusive language, if, so far from retaliating, she felt a disposition to bear with, to pity, and to pray for them. The Burman women are particularly given to quarreling, and to refrain from it would be a most decided evidence of a change of heart.

Later in April they had their first convert: Mr. Moung Nau. Overjoyed, in June of 1819, Ann wrote in a letter:

Little did I think, when I last wrote, that I should so soon have the joyful intelligence to communicate, that one Burman has embraced the Christian religion, and given good evidence of being a true disciple of the dear Redeemer. This event, this single trophy of victorious grace, has filled our hearts with sensations, hardly to be conceived by Christians in Christian countries.

Mr. Nau was baptized in June, and Ann’s husband, Adoniram, wrote in July:

We have had the pleasure of sitting down, for the first time, at the Lord’s table, with a converted Burman; and it was my privilege,–a privilege to which I have been looking forward with desire for many years,–to administer the Lord’s supper in two languages.

Sharon James, My Heart in His Hands (Durham: Evangelical Press, 2003; originally published 1998), 101-04.

Ann Judson of Burma, Pt. 1

Ann Judson, upon entering the mission field, facing many, many obstacles, delivering a still-born child, and recovering from subsequent illness, writes:

Were it not for the support we derive from the Gospel of Jesus, we should be ready to sink down in despondency, in view of the dark and gloomy scenes around us. But when we recollect that Jesus has commanded his disciples to carry the Gospel to the heathen, and promised to be with them to the end of the world; that God has promised to give the heathen to his Son for an inheritance, we are encouraged to make a beginning, though in the midst of discouragement, and leave it to him to grant success, in his own time and way. I find here no dear female friends, with whom I can unite in social prayer, nor even one with whom I could converse. I have, indeed, no society at all, but that of Mr. J. [her husband]; yet I feel happy in thinking, that I give up this source of pleasure, as well as most others, for the sake of the poor heathen… O if it may please the dear Redeemer to make me instrumental of leading some of the females of Burmah to a saving acquaintance with him, my great object would be accomplished, my highest desires gratified; I shall rejoice to have relinquished my comforts, my country, and my home.

Sharon James, My Heart in His Hands (Durham: Evangelical Press, 2003; originally published 1998), 72-3.

What are your “highest desires”?

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