Monday, December 21, 2009

Books to Read

In 2 Timothy 4:13, Paul instructs Timothy, "When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments."

In commenting on this verse, Charles Spurgeon famously noted about Paul, "He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books!"

I have a confession to make. Though I got decent grades, I was not a great student and certainly not a big reader back in my high school and college days. It drove me crazy in college that each semester I’d buy a bunch of books, hardly ever look at them, and at the end of the semester sell them back to the bookstore for about 20% of what I paid for them. I was a little slow, so it wasn’t until my final semester that I finally figured things out, skipped the whole process and didn’t actually buy any books.

I say this not because I am proud of it; exactly the opposite is true. I wish that I had been a more serious reader in my earlier years, because if I had, I’d be a better and more well-read reader today.

When I went to seminary after a decade-long hiatus from schooling, I found that reading was all of the sudden far more appealing than it had ever been. This was probably due in large part to the fact that I hungered to learn what was in these books, as opposed to the books I had to read in college. Perhaps it was due to my increased maturity (less likely). Maybe it was a combination of these and other reasons.

Whatever it was though, I do enjoy reading now, especially those books of a theological nature. That being said, I still do not read anywhere near as much as I’d like, and as I look forward to 2010, I hope to read more than I ever have.

I thought it might be helpful to both others and myself to have some suggestions as to what we should read. To that end, I’ve pulled together the following list from people who have blogged on their top books of 2009. While I might not agree with everything each of these people say, I do respect their opinions and plan on using them as a guide in my reading over the upcoming months.

Kevin DeYoung

Tim Challies

Zach Nielsen

Russell Moore

Trevin Wax

Keith Mathison

John Samson

Sam Storms

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bigger and Better

I'm not quite sure what this post has to do with things spiritual. Perhaps it's the fact that we used to play "Bigger and Better" in the youth group I was part of in high school. In all actuality, I just include it here because I thought it was cool.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Gospel for Children

John Piper with a great word on preaching the Gospel to children:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Not Emergent Either

I attended a conference yesterday in Grand Rapids at West Cannon Baptist Church. It was entitled “Don’t Stop Loving the Church” and featured some great speakers: Mike Wittmer is one of of my favorite seminary professor/authors, Kevin DeYoung is one of my favorite pastor/authors, and Ted Kluck is without doubt my favorite former professional indoor football league player/author! (Kurt Warner hasn't written a book yet, has he?)

You may recognize DeYoung and Kluck from their book Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be). I was blessed with the opportunity to speak with the two of them at length and really enjoyed getting to know them a little. They both strike me as godly, humble, intelligent men who love the Lord and His bride, the church.

As I made the grand drive between Grand Rapids and Grand Blanc, I considered some of the reasons I am not emergent either. The list I came up with is not really why I’m not emergent, so much as how you can tell that I’m not emergent. So here it is, in Lettermanesque 10 to 1 fashion:

10. I wear slacks to the office every day.

9. When I go to the office, it’s usually at the church, not at a coffee shop.

8. When I do go to a coffee shop, I drink black coffee, not a pumpkin spice latte, a frappuchino, or some other (ridiculously overpriced) concoction.

7. I wear shoes and socks when I preach.

6. In fact, I don’t even own a pair of Tevas/Birkenstocks/sandals.

5. I have neither a goatee, nor a pair of designer glasses.

4. Though I do enjoy most of U2’s music, Bono is not even on my list of favorite theologians.

3. I don’t think that we should have to try to be "authentic."

2. I think that the Word of God is far more “relevent” than any movie clip I could show.

1. I actually believe something, and think you should believe it too.

Friday, September 4, 2009

President Obama's School Speech

President Obama is going to address school children across our nation on Tuesday. This has been met with some trepidation on the part of conservative Christians who fear that their children might have their impressionable young minds shaped by the smooth talking of a President who does not share their values.

Regardless of your political bent though, Doug Wolter has what I would consider some good thoughts for Christians regarding this topic.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Testimony of God's Grace

A few weeks ago I posted regarding a close friend of mine who had been blessed by God with the birth of twins after a long period of waiting and hoping for children. He shared these thoughts via email with a number of friends the other day:

Greetings and salutations from the land of "Little or No Sleep!" What an amazing 17 days it's been!

As I pulled the mini-van around the circle drive to pick-up Deb, Camille, and Ryan on Saturday Aug. 15th, my heart was racing. Could we REALLY be headed home? A few days ago it was like the song: "Just the Two of Us." Now we were four.

FOUR!...............or in LOOK OUT this dad has no idea what he's doing. Seriously! He has NO I-D-E-A! ZERO!

I helped Deb in and then, some how...some way....with both hands shaking, I lifted Camille and then Ryan into their respective car seat my astonishment, neither landed upside-down on the pavement........I was sure the hospital staff was staring at me to see if I had any clue............(see above sentence)

And now with the car doors shut and the seat-belts fastened, we both looked at each other and simultaneously said, "Can you believe they're letting US take THESE babies home? Why in the world do the people at St. John's think we are qualified to do this? And here we thought these people were so competent and professional. IDIOTS! "

Almost every day since, Deb and I still catch each others attention and silently communicate, "Can you believe they are really ours?"

We're not sure why God answered our prayer in this way.........why us? Why now? We're almost 38. We know so many people who have gone through/continue to go through similar experiences with a completely different outcome......many who still wrestle with unanswerable questions that all begin with "Why?" .......

I, personally, went through phases of good and bad, but after 3 years of asking off and on, I lost track in 2005 of how many times I asked God, "Why?" or "When?" or "Why them and not us?". Even standing in the pool of Deb's optimism and faith I internally doubted.

I envied.

In my weakest moments, I even resented.

How grace-filled and merciful is the Lord that His faithfulness and love for me will never be offered proportionally to my faith and trust in Him?

The apostle Paul's witness had nothing to do with his own circumstances or how "well" things were going for him according to his slef-scripted life-plan.

I thank God that Paul's desire to ascribe to the Lord and worship at the feet of the Father wasn't contingenet upon how he felt. It was only in response to the attributes of the Father....... God's worth, His majesty, His sovereignty, His power, His grace, His love, His mercy.........merely meditating on who God was brought Paul to his knees in worship.
Paul's response had EVERYTHING to do with the Father and his abiding in God's presence.....spending time with the Creator of the universe:

"..........I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situations wheteher well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." PHIL 4:12-13

These words from Paul are the very words I share with you today. Sometimes I have indwelled them. I have truly lived and breathed them. I have trusted deeply. I have rested in His will.

And other times, I've fallen miserably short.

Camille Faith Hendrickson.

Her middle name has only a little to do with my faith walk,. It has everything to do with Debbie's. Seemingly at every stop-sign and detour over the years, God kept speaking the word "faith" to her. He was probably speaking to me as well and I even likely heard Him from time to time. I just didn't listen very often.

But Debbie continued to persist. Her faith grew. Her confidence in Him elevated. She boasted in our God.. She lived out these words.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." PHIL 4:6-7

She prayed. Every night. Every week. Every month. Every year.

These same words, "God, help us to start a family. Help us to have healthy children."

I kid you not. Every night. Thousands of times. For years. The same words. And I'm only counting the times I audibly heard her.

Peace enveloped Debbie. God hemmed her in from every side. Though I was reluctant, He began doing the same for me.

The "result" no longer mattered to Deb. The "result" no longer mattered to me. He was doing a different kind of work. He continued to draw us nearer to Him.......and to each other.

I thought we had a good relationship and marriage. But, God had BETTER in mind. In fact, He had a LOT BETTER in mind. It was by His His Design. If we had gotten pregnant 9 years ago, I'm not sure we would have ever experienced or learned the things He knew we needed know.

Our relationship changed. Our marriage changed. Though I was (and am) far from perfect, God began to teach me new ways to honor my wife that I had never known. He taught me more about what it means to uphold her and lift her up as my best friend.

Guys.........listen up. You need to hear this. I used to think it was cool to casually act like my marriage wasn't a huge deal, but simply an "addendum" to my own personal identity. Afterall, I didn't want anybody thinking I was "trained" or "whipped." Seriously.....what in the world was I thinking? All you tough guys, get over yourselves. None of this matters. Quit trying to be macho (especially if you're 5'9" like me.) Lift up your wives. Uphold them in love and protect them from harm. Honor them. Not just in private, but in public that others may see the awesome blessing you have received from God. Pray together.....aloud. Pray before your meals and before you go to bed. No matter how tired you are. Take turns praying. YEP ! If you've never done it before, you are WILL be awkward the 1st time....... AWKWARD......... extremely. And probably the 2nd and 3rd times as well. And then something that "transcends human understanding" will began to take shape as God moves from being a 3rd wheel to the glue that holds all things together....that holds you both together.

Girls.......listen up, too. Affirm your husbands. You don't need to unnecessarily feed our egos (we'll try and do that on the softball diamond or golf course). Simply love us......with all of our faults and quirkiness (and sometimes gasiness), love us just as we are. And extend grace when we mess-up. It's what we guys do. We mess-up. We forget. We need 2nd chances. Lots of them. Lavish your husbands with 2nd chances.

"He who began a good work in you will carry onto completion until the day of Christ Jesus" PHIL 1:6

None of us are beyond repair. In fact, it's exactly what God specializes in. Grace. Mercy. Unconditional forgiveness. Restoration. Renewal.

"He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!'" REVELATION 21:5

So......what is it that you want to ask God to "make new" in your life? It's not too late. His love endures forever. His faithfulness has no bounds. His grace no limits. He keeps no record of wrongs.

"God loves you. But maybe even more importantly, God likes you." --Jeff Hart (friend and drummer in our worship band)

Thank you for your continued prayers for Debbie as she continues in her recovery from our c-section surgery!

Because of His Grace,

Eric, Debbie, Ryan, and Camille

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Some Great Parenting Advice

Saw this from Doug Wolter yesterday and thought it was particularly sound parenting advice. If we want to be better parents, why not be shaped and molded by our perfect Father?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Musical Diversity in the Church

Kevin DeYoung is the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, and truly one of the sharpest young pastors in the Church today. Today he wrote this post on musical diversity in the church. I happen to agree with his conclusions, but even if you don't, I'm sure that you will find some things with which you agree and many good thought-provoking comments.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy Endings

My friend and his wife have been trying to have children for years. They have seen all sorts of specialists, undergoing all kinds of tests. They pursued various courses of action in efforts to get pregnant, all to no avail. What made it even more frustrating was the fact that the doctors had no explanation for why they weren’t getting pregnant.

For years it all seemed to be so bleek, so hopeless, so wrong. But I am so happy to be able to write that today they were blessed with the birth of a beautiful set of twins. What a happy ending!

We all love happy endings. I made that point in a children’s sermon last Sunday. Part of the reason we love fairy tales is that no matter how insurmountable the odds, we know that there will be an heroic rescue, and they will all live happily ever after.

It’s sometimes hard to wait on God’s timing. So often we can’t figure out why God allows things seemingly to spiral out of control. Things are broken all around us. Sin and its effects wreak havoc in our world and in our lives and we long for an heroic rescuer to make all things right.

That’s the beautiful thing about the Gospel story. God has already rescued us at Calvary’s cross. And while we are still waiting on God to act ultimately, we are waiting on a God who has told us the end of the story. We know that he is making all things new (Rev. 21:5). And that is an ending worth waiting for!

The Gospel According to Bob Barker

Saw this one the other day posted by Calvin Presbyterian Church in Huntingdon, PA. It's kind of funny in its own right, but beyond that, it really is a picture of the Gospel.

Can God Make a Rock So Big That He Can't Move It?

It's a terribly flawed question, but Jared Wilson gives the best answer I've heard right here.