Concerning Philippians 1

Well, I’d been sick for a few days. Like, in bed all day sick for all of Sunday. Would have been Friday & Saturday, too, but I was working. I went to the Doctor on Tuesday. But that really didn’t help that much (apparently it’s not an actual infection). So I just spent yesterday resting as well (since I had the day off from work again).

Anyway, this puts me even farther behind. But like I said before, no worries. I was slowly catching up with my Bible Reading, but I of course got set back a little with being sick. Nevertheless, I’ve only got another week or so of double readings to catch up.

So, today’s reading is still actually from last month: March 27, concerning Philippians 1. I was struck with D.A. Carson’s explanation of a verse that I had probably read hundreds of times before (literally, because I once tried to memorize all of Philippians): Philippians 1:29-30. ”For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.” Carson writes:

What a remarkable notion! Paul does not say that these Christians have been called to suffer as well as to believe, but that it had been granted to them to suffer as well as to believe – as if both suffering in Christ and believing in Christ were blessed privileges that have been graciously granted. That, of course is precisely what he means. We often think of faith as a gracious gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9), but suffering?

(D.A. Carson, For the Love of God Vol. 2, Kindle Loc 2094)

Man, do I ever have things to say about that. The least of which is to explain the conduct of some Christians that I know in how they’ve faced their suffering. One of these examples is Matt Chandler (lead Pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, Texas), who famously dumbfounded journalists with how he responded to a diagnosis of brain cancer. Here’s the video of his announcement to his church…

God grant me the courage to respond with joy like this in face of the grace of suffering that you may grant in my life.


March Cigars of the Month

Wow, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I posted. As I mentioned in my previous post, I went on vacation to Toronto. And I got crazy lazy… Meaning I’m behind on EVERYTHING. Wow. I’m trying to get motivated to get busy. The Bible Reading will be the easiest, since that’s built into my schedule already. But I do have to take care, especially an upcoming major overhaul of my schedule (more on that to come), I need to make sure I can overcome such a schedule change again, and not just drop my Bible Reading because my schedule is different). As for Japanese, man it’s getting really hard to resume. It’s been hard to get motivated to do my Pimsleur studying at work… Bah… I’ll get on to learning the Kana and Kanji again, maybe that’ll help.

Anyway, my March Cigars came, and I’m pretty excited about them because I get to smoke them in weather over zero degrees! haha. This month we have…

  1. Sancho Panza Belicoso (5 1/2 x 52, which is about standard for a Belicoso)
  2. Ramon Allones Allones Extra LE 2011 (5 5/8 x 44, typical Corona)
  3. Bolivar Royal Corona (4 7/8 x 50, which, despite the name, actually makes it a Robusto)
  4. Montecristo Open Master (4 7/8 x 50, als oa Robusto)

I already smoked the Bolivar. I was originally going to save the Ramon Allonnes for last because it’s the most exclusive of the bunch, I think (since it’s a limited edition). But the Montecristo is the most expensive… so meh, we’ll see how it goes. I do think I’m going to upgrade to the next level for next month, the Diamond (currently on the Platinum), which has bigger or more expensive cigars on offer. Again, since it’s starting to warm up outside…


Concerning Exodus 16

Kind of a little behind again (though I’m catching up today), so this is from yesterday’s reading. This is a problem with a lot of Christians today. The kind of grumbling occurs when you have a really warped view of God. This is what D.A. Carson has to say about why the Israelites grumbled about not having meat despite just witnessing God’s miraculous salvation through the plagues and through the parting of the Red Sea…

Why should people who have witnessed so spectacular a display of the grace and power of God slip so easily into muttering and complaining and slide so gracelessly into listless disobedience? The answer lies in the fact that many of them see God as existing to serve them. He served them in the Exodus; he served them when he provided clean water. Now he must serve not only their needs but their appetites. Otherwise they are entirely prepared to abandon him. While Moses has been insisting to Pharaoh that the people needed to retreat into the desert in order to serve an worship God, the people themselves think God exists to serve them.

(D.A. Carson, For the Love of God Vol. 2, pg. 34)


Concerning 1 Corinthians 16

It’s a new week, but I’m still a little behind on my Bible Reading. This comment is concerning readings from 2 days ago, but I wanted to post this quote because it really speaks to the heart of issues concerning men of my age and situation: the inability to act. That is, the inability to act without any “spiritual guidance”. It’s such a prevalent issue that a book was written about it. It’s called “Just Do Something” by Kevin DeYoung (I’m sure there are other similar books).

Anyway, in the comment concerning 1 Corinthians 16 in particular, D.A. Carson talks about how much of Paul’s ministry was made up through “planning, instruction, pastoral judgements, even uncertainties – much like our own ministries” (Loc. 1495). This is despite the many “dramatic moments” in Paul’s life that seemed to lead him in a concrete direction. And so that’s really something that I am learning to trust God about. I don’t need some huge sign to find out his will for direction in my ministry. Sometimes, as is the case right now, what’s required is some careful planning, and a whole lot of uncertainty, before things get moving in a direction which I am sure is ordained by the Lord. Here’s what D.A. Carson has to say:

Today there is a form of ethereal “spirituality” that wants to wait for explicit guidance for every decision., that regards a phrase like “if the Lord wills” as a sanctimonious cop-out. That was not Paul’s perspective, and it should not be ours.

(D.A. Carson, For the Love of God Vol. 2, Kindle Loc. 1511)

Major Catching Up To Do…

Well, another week short on posts has passed by. And that can only mean one thing: I’ve fallen behind on, well, everything. *Sigh* things got especially busy this past weekend with the arrival of my cousin in town. Starting off with an early morning airport pick up (as in, 1AM pick up), I’ve been helping to settle him in the past couple of days. All is well though. It looks like he’ll have a job fairly quickly. So that’s a load off. And I myself will be starting work soon, though pretty soon after that, I’ll be on vacation! So I’m not too worried that I’m a little behind.


February Cigars of the Month

My Cigars of the Month came today! I was really worried about it being in the mail because it’s so cold outside (especially today, it hit -30C regular, -40C with the windchill). But when it did come, it was just fine. I guess it was mostly inside, and hardly spent any time outside at all. Anyway, this month’s cigars are…

1. Vegas Robaina Famoso (5″ x 48, which makes it a slightly smaller Robusto, ring gauge-wise)
2. Partagas Serie P No. 2 (6 1/2″ x 52, a Torpedo)
3. Romeo y Julieta Petit Churchill (4 1/3 x 50, which is also a smaller Robusto, length-wise this time)
4. Cohiba Siglo IV (5 5/8″ x 46, which makes it a long Corona? or yet another odd sized Robusto?)

I already smoked the Cohiba, ’cause I was so excited (and also because somehow the temperature dropped to around -10C after being at -33C when I left for work this morning). My humidor is acting up right now (it won’t keep a good humidity), so I’m probably going to smoke these off quickly.


Concerning 1 Corinthians 12

Haven’t posted anything in a few days. So here’s a quick quote from my reading this morning. I must have read through this chapter a dozen times before (I wrote I paper on 1 Corinthians in my first year of Seminary), but I completely missed the Trinitarian presentation of the Gifts of the Spirit (Should we still call it that? The Gifts of the Triune God maybe?).

The implicit Trinitarian reference is striking: different gifts, given by the same Spirit; different kinds of service, but the same Lord (Jesus); different kinds of working, but the same God. This does not mean that Paul is parceling these things up absolutely, as if, for instance, the gifts came from the Spirit but not from Jesus and not from God. Rather, this is a preacher’s device for insisting that however diverse the gifts and graces, there is but one source: the triune God.

(D.A. Carson, For the Love of God Vol. 2, Kindle Loc. 1417)


Japanese Progress Post #14 (And 2014 Goals Update)

Well in just a little over a week, it will have been 2 months since I started this blogging through my year’s goals business. And I thought it’s a good time to write an update, since there’s been some movement recently, resulting from a lack of movement… Just for quick reference goals are as follows…

1. My progress in learning Japanese.

This is obviously the biggest goal, and so the one I’ve focused on a lot since the beginning of the year. This is also the place where I said there’s “movement due to a lack of movement”. Basically, what’s happened is that I’ve become a little bored with the Japanese learning, due to my boredom with watching Anime. In one sense it’s a good thing that I’ve become bored of Anime, because it got to be really crazy… like I would spend an entire day (my days off from work of course) watching an entire series. So now I’ve tempered that a little, only watching the 5 shows that I watch regularly (episodes come out once a week).

But the result of that, as I’ve said, is I that I lost my initial vigour in my Japanese study. I think as of this morning (I’m gonna study a lot this afternoon), I’ve gone like 5 days since I last studied… A long time given that I was studying practically every day for over a month. Anyway, what’s changed is related to the feature image above.. I found a new anime to really enjoy, and while I’m not killing it like the others (I did watch 7 episodes straight yesterday), it’s brought back the vigour to learn Japanese. So as I said, I’ll be studying again this afternoon (and this morning at work).

2. At least 52 blog posts regarding my Bible Readings/Daily Devotion.

This is going pretty well. I actually think I’m a little ahead of schedule on this one.

3. A translation of the book of Ruth (Hebrew) and 1 John (Greek).

I’ve started this in the sense that I’ve restarted studying Hebrew vocabulary. I started Greek, too, but I dropped it because working on 3 different languages was just getting to be too much. Once I have a better handle on Japanese, hopefully within 2 months or so, I’m gonna review Hebrew grammar, and then maybe spend the summer translating Ruth. I might not get to 1 John/Greek. Anyway this really was a bit of a stretch.

4. About Weekly Bible Memory using FighterVerse.

I’ve fallen behind with this. I’m probably just going to start on the current week without trying to catch up to the previous 3 weeks that I missed. I’ll probably try to catch up on those later on, again when I’ve got a better handle on Japanese. The important thing for me is that I memorize something for good, and not just enough to get through that week, and no more. I can definitely say that what I’ve memorized before (including last year’s stuff), have really stuck well.

5. Memorize the New City Catechism.

Also behind on this, but only by 2 weeks. This one I can’t skip over like the Memory Verses, I have to do them in order. So I’ll try to get back on, maybe just memorizing the Q&A, rather than including the Bible Verses for this one.


I’m doing better than I thought, honestly. So I don’t feel bad that I’m a little behind on some of the goals. The main thing to remember is that there’s a ton of memory work. And there’s only so much that my brain can handle. When things stabilize some more with the potential new job, I should get back into a good rhythm, though.


Concerning Job 16-17

I must say, I’m really enjoying D.A. Carson’s sustained treatment of Job (at least in the little space he has for the book). Job isn’t exactly the most popular book to be studied: Most find the verse where it says, “Blessed be the name of the Lord” and go on their merry way. I know I’ve been guilty of that in the past (although I did almost take a course in Job at one of the Catholic Seminaries at the TST. I went to a couple of lectures, but dropped it. I really wasn’t feeling the Prof. and I didn’t want to risk a blow to my GPA).

Anyway, I thought today’s meditation was especially good. It speaks to the heart of what Job is about. And it also speaks to at least some of the problems surrounding Christianity today. There are some obvious examples of this. Like the Westboro Baptist Church business (I take pain at even calling them a church). But I wonder how far we can/need to apply this truth in how the rest of good, Orthodox, Biblical Christianity interacts with the world around us.

There is a way of using theology and theological arguments that wounds rather than heals . This is not the fault of theology and theological arguments.; it is the fault of the “miserable comforters” who fastens on an inappropriate fragment of truth, or whose timing is off, or whose attitude is condescending, or whose application is insensitive, or whose true theology is couched in such culture-laden clichés that they grate rather than comfort.

(D.A. Carson, For the Love of God Vol. 2, Kindle Loc. 1225) Having read through that quote again, I can’t believe how appropriate it was to bring up the Westboro folks. Pretty much every single one of Carson’s problems apply to them, heavily. Anyway, while I bring up such an obvious example, again, the point is to reflect and see where I and the Biblical Christianity that I subscribe to has been guilty of this same thing before…