Matt’s Favorite Reads of 2009

Several weeks ago Russ, as the faithful administrator of this blog, sent us an email asking for our favorite extra-Biblical reads of 2009.  I thought about it but never sent him a response.  Then I noticed the rest of the guys posting stuff and figured that I should at the very least send him something even if it’s not at all what he requested.  I spent 2009 avoiding extra-Biblical reading, so this question doesn’t apply.  I typically read a book a week, but this year I aimed for reading through the Bible a couple times (1.5 to be honest) and listening to a lot of sermons.  Here is what ministered to me the most.
Reading through the Bible quickly.  My aim was to read through the Bible in 90 days…I ended up doing it in about 115.  I HIGHLY recommend this.  See my post about it here. I also have a link to a 90 day plan.  Here is a different plan that I didn’t use, but my wife just started it.
D.A. Carson’s Sermons on Evangelism in the 21st century.  These sermons changed the way I interact with non-believers.  They change the way I look at culture and the Gospel.  They changed everything for me.  I recommended these to my brother-in-law who is a youth pastor and he changed his teaching schedule for the next year as a response.  I cannot recommend these three sermons enough.
CJ Mahaney on Gospel Centered Parenting.  Once again, these sermons opened my eyes to a completely new interactive experience with others.  I was just looking for some parent helping from Mr. Mahaney, instead I learned how to bring the Gospel into my everyday life.  If you have no children, go listen to these sermons and think of them as evangelism sermons with anyone that you interact with regularly.  If you have children, stop reading this post and go listen…
Matt Chandler Preached a Series on the Church this year that I really enjoyed.  He didn’t tell me anything new, but he explained many things more clearly and there are a few illustrations in this series that I will plagiarize for the rest of my life.
Finally, the sermon of the year, goes to Smedly Yates (one of the teaching elders at my church Grace Bible Church, Tempe).  He preached a series on missions and when he talked about how missions should be ecclesiological…well listen.
Praise God for faithful men who dedicate their lives to preaching and teaching.  Our job is to use their hard work to grow in our love for and dedication to the Father.  Let’s go be great servants and show those we interact with, the Father.
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  1. Interesting posts you have, though I think Christianity is dead and will be redeemed and brought to fruition and perfection through Thelema. Check out my blog at http://christianityisdead.wordpress.com/ if you will. Love is the law, love under will. 😉

      • Derek
      • January 6th, 2010

      Hi Mr. Thelema, (I hope its ok I address you as such)

      I read through much of your literature on the philoshopy and ideas of Thelema. Thank you first for visiting the blog and responding to the post. We are always encouraged and excited to see individuals come to visit and especially individuals that may have a different view than our own (Humanitas Remedium).

      The idea that Christianity is dead and will be redeemed and brought to fruition & perfection through Thelema is interesting to us. There are a couple of reasons why. The basis of Christianity is that man is sinful, you, me, and every person that has been created. What I mean by sinful is just not living up to the standard of complete perfection according to God’s standard and no one else’s. In man being sinful he is incapable to being obedient and therefore his Will is bent and set on evil (Ecc. 7:20). Now, remember our evil or our good is not the same standard as God’s and therefore shouldn’t be there measuring tool used (1Pet. 1:15-16). With that being said, God is the one who actually saves man from man’s own sin, his own sinful desires, God’s punishment of man’s sin, and sets man free from the slavery of sin (Rom. 5:9-11, 6:19-23, John 3:35-36). God saves and redeems man through the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus Christ. The perfect One. He puts the wrath and punishment that we rightfully deserved as sinners on Him (John 6:53-58, 2Cor. 5:16-21). This is for all those that have and will repent from their sins, put their faith, and trust in Jesus Christ (God in the flesh) as being their Lord and Savior. This is the foundation of what Christianity is built on. Man was created by God, sinned against Him, God has saved some of mankind (those that have repented and believed in Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh), and those that don’t repent or believe will be punished in Hell defined by God’s eternal wrath forever. Those that do repent enjoy the presence and bliss of God in Heaven forever.

      So my question to you is this…if Christianity is grounded on the fact that God saves man and man is incapable of saving ones self or knowing God (because of sin, 1Cor. 1:20-25) how is it that through the intellectual capability of man within Thelema how will man produce a pure Love and Will to that which meets the requirement of God?

      Sorry for this being so long, but I look forward to hearing from you soon.

      • 93 Derek – I appreciate you taking the time to read up on Thelema and making a reply.

        “if Christianity is grounded on the fact that God saves man and man is incapable of saving ones self or knowing God (because of sin, 1Cor. 1:20-25) how is it that through the intellectual capability of man within Thelema how will man produce a pure Love and Will to that which meets the requirement of God?”

        God is not understood as something outside of ourselves. God is “above & inside” us, the “flame that burns in the core of every star and the heart of every man” (also “every man and every woman is a star,” all these quotations coming from the Book of the Law. Jesus was a symbol of God made Man and Man made God, if anything to us – not one of our sinfulness and wretchedness. On the contrary “beauty and strength” etc. are of us.

        Thelema recognizes that is not by mere “intellectual capability” that we achieve a pure Will, which is expressed through Love. Each person must “Know thyself” and achieve that identity with Godhead and that is how one ‘produce[s] a pure Love and Will’ in our system. Practically, we have many practices called Magick (with its technical definition ‘the Science & Art of causing Change in conformity with Will’ and thus including things such as yoga, meditation, prayer, ritual, and other intentional/sacralized actionsetc.) have the public order of the OTO with initiatory and ecclesiastical rites and the AA (not Alcoholics Anonymous).

        Check out my blog http://christianityisdead.wordpress.com for more information on the approach of Thelema to God, especially the 2nd post! Love is the law, love under will.

    • mike H
    • January 4th, 2010

    Matt, I just wanted to hopefully encourage you with some kind words. But before I get to that, I am going to listen to all of the stuff you listened to and try the 90 day reading. Now to the mushy stuff, I was looking at your stuff for jonathan on you blog and I was almost in tears of excitement and adoration for the way you are going about shepherding your son. It made me long for the day when my jonathan will be old enough to take through a gospel primer. Thank you for the deep care with which you seek to shepherd your family. I praise God that I get to grow in grace from your example.

  2. 93 Derek – Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit are symbols. They appear on the Stele of Revealing. Nuit is Infinite Space, Hadit is the winged globe at your heart, and Ra Hoor Khuit is a form of Horus that encompasses the previous two and is made manifest by them. There are many mysteries surrounding Nuit Hadit and RHK and require a lot of study. In general, Nuit represents the universe/infinite possibilities, Hadit represents the soul that unites with the universe in each moment, and RHK is both God and the Supreme Self. There are many mysteries surrounding this, and it is hard to speak concisely about!

    They are not Egyptian deities in the sense Egyptians understood gods or in the sense X-tians understand pagan gods.

    I define sin thus: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. The word of Sin is Restriction.” If there is no law beyond Do what thou wilt, the only ‘evil’ is to restrict that will. Since each Will is unique, Restriction can come in many forms.

    I mentioned that Jesus was of sinfulness and wretchedness. In Thelema, we do not believe in the priestly bogey of Original Sin or that we are wretched. On the contrary, we recognize ‘ Every man and every woman is a star’ and each person has God burning in the core of their heart, not outside of them. We do not have ‘moral standards’ in the sense of determining what is ‘sinful’ and ‘wretched’ – we act and then have joy rather than brood incessantly over sin and then fail to act.

    Love is the law, love under will.

      • Derek
      • January 7th, 2010

      Hi Mr. Thelema,

      “I define sin thus: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. The word of Sin is Restriction.” If there is no law beyond Do what thou wilt, the only ‘evil’ is to restrict that will. Since each Will is unique, Restriction can come in many forms.” With this definition of sin wouldn’t everyone then be able to be held to their own personal standards of what their Will is? I read through the information you provided on your blog that individuals are not able to know another’s True Will…therefore that would imply one can not have a say so basically over what another is doing from what it sounds. And according to what you were saying, the places of restriction is what brings sin itself.
      I curious to know how Thelema handles murder and genocides when individuals do this with the belief that they are truly fulfilling their destiny and will. You said, “We do not have ‘moral standards’ in the sense of determining what is ’sinful’ and ‘wretched’ – we act and then have joy rather than brood incessantly over sin and then fail to act.” If you have a person that truly receives joy from hurting, killing, etc. people how do you confirm they are striving to fulfill their Will?

      Hope that makes sense. Thanks again.

  3. 93 Derek – What you say about Will is essentially correct up until when you mention genocide. Also inherent in Thelema is the fact that “Every man and every woman is a star” and every star has a will. There is an idea that “Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay” i.e. that if everyone was doing their true will there would be no clashing.

    If you have a person that receives joy from hurting, etc. it will be the will of the abused to retaliate, inform them they don’t like it, etc. If the person continues and infringes on that person’s rights, they have the right to fight back etc. Heck, they could get together and say that while we recognize its not Absolutely Evil we will personally punish you for doing it (i.e. the modern jail system; the social contract between humans based on pragmatism and not fear of divine retribution).

    I appreciate the question, though it is hard for me to keep track of questions here – if you could mirror your posts or ask questions on christianityisdead.wordpress.com that would help a lot. Thanks

    Love is the law, love under will.

      • Derek
      • January 8th, 2010

      Hi Mr. Thelema,

      Thank you again for your response. I’ll be sure to mirror this post on your website as well if that will help you.

      What is the end result of Thelema, and what comes after an individual dies? I was trying to find reading on that but couldn’t quite find specific material on it. I did see something on a Holy Guardian Angel but that was all. The reason for asking is let’s say hypothetically that all individuals actually find their “True Will” and are working towards that. According to what you stated it doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be conflict between them, but just that they will be working toward their ultimate purpose for their existence basically. So I’m trying to see the benefit that comes from individuals that find their “True Will” and don’t if they all still deal with the same obstacles, and what God’s word calls sin.

      I know that we definitely come from different points of view, but I would just ask you to consider and think through the fact that you are place mankind at the center of the universe. We can not even explain the existence of the universe and it’s where about, yet within Thelema you are placing man as the focal point of all. If we are what it is all about then we should be the defining and deciding sovereigns over all creation, but we are not, and literally have no control over many obstacles that come within our path. I don’t believe that the Word of God as it has been revealed in the Bible is unbelievable or tales that men have collected, but can be reliably proven, tested, and trusted upon (2 Peter 1:16-21). I don’t know if you read any of God’s Word but I encourage you to read some of the passages that I have spoken about throughout our discussion.
      They speak to the foundation of man’s existence: We are here to glorify the One true God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ. We are unable to because of sin which has severed our relationship with God, and brought the eternal punishment and condemnation upon us. But God in is love for His people has sent Jesus Christ to bear that punishment though, for all who would, repent of their sins (acknowledge they have sinned against God and will continue to do so), and then believe and have faith that Jesus Christ is the One and Only Lord and Savior of their life. I implore you with urgency to not take this lightly and seek out what God’s Word says….we will pray for your heart, and that you come to love Jesus Christ.

        • Derek
        • January 9th, 2010

        I just had one other piece of God’s word that I wanted to share with you.

        Acts 17:22-34

        So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, “To the unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us, for “In Him we live and move and have our being,” as even some your own poets have said, “For we are indeed His offspring.” Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, and image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.” Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

        I know that you are in a different scenario than the people of Areopagus, but it still applies…you may not have carved idols in the same fashion they do, but you do not worship the true God that has called you to repentance and is coming to judge the world in righteousness in His appointed Son. I pray you respond in a like manner of Dionysius and Areopagite.

        Grace and Peace

    • Derek
    • January 7th, 2010

    Hi Mr. Thelema,

    “God is not understood as something outside of ourselves.” I’m curious to hear how you define the individuals from the book (Book of Law) you quoted from; Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit? Is your understanding of these individuals that they are men that have reached the pure status or found their True Will? Or are they diety’s of some sort, or creators of the universe? It seems that they hold the foundation of the authority of what revolves within Thelema and so I’m curious as to how you define and view them?

    My other question is how do you define sin, and what is the standard that is used for it? You mentioned that Jesus was not of our sinfulness and wretchedness which acknowledges that you do believe in those things so I’m curious as to what is the moral standard used to determine what is considered sin or wretched?

    I’m looking forward to hearing from you again. Thank you for you time. Grace and Peace.

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