Oct 28, 2008

Review: The Prince's Poison Cup by R.C. Sproul

The Prince's Poison Cup
Author: R.C. Sproul
Illustrations: Justin Gerard
Ages: 4-8
Language: English

Berenstain Bears
, Dr. Seuss, Golden Books, and The World of Beatrix Potter are all books that I had the enjoyment of growing up with. I can honestly state that being raised in a non-Christian home, my mother made an attempt to educate my brother and I with wholesome literature. Early on, I can remember the emphasis of reading and her spending time helping us to understand what it was we were hearing. My brother and I loved books as kids. Kids love books when they can interact and relate with the characters in the books. The most powerful imagery of these childhood books I still have today are the messages they ultimately conveyed.

While this is the first book in R.C. Sproul's series of children's books that I've read, I've heard warm reviews of the others. Most notably this book enters the world of the child by relating to the common distaste of medicine that all children seem to be born with. The illustrations tell of the comfort a child might experience from Grandpa sharing a story and advising with his wisdom why medicine tastes bad. If you have an imagination (and most certainly your child does) the warm images will compensate for the lack of detail our adult minds will be looking for in the theology of this story.

Because it is from R.C. Sproul, many parents who read this to their children should be expectant of a resonating influence of scripture in the plot. The opening page quotes John 18:11 and inevitably sets the tone that coincides with the title of this story. Providing the backdrop to Sproul's allegory is the concept of creation, the garden, and the fall of man. The emphasis and buildup of just what it was that the Prince (Jesus Christ) was preparing to do create the anxiety necessary for telling a good children's story. Climaxing with the death of the Prince, the resurrection through the power of His Father, and the moral summary given by Grandpa would seem to let readers down at first glance. However, this book sets out to accomplish its task, and illustrates the curse of sin (sickness), the distasteful medicine (cup of wrath), and the healing brought from its ingestion (cleansed cup of Christ).

The story does not provide ample text to preach a sermon from, but any parent reading this book to their child would do well to accentuate details through the powerful imagery seen in the full color illustrations. There are several images throughout the book that don't seem to have a correlated description in the story, some would say this was poorly planned, I believe it to be intentional. I would thoroughly enjoy reading this book to a child, and vicariously viewing this through the lens of my childhood past, these illustrations would excite me and they breathe life into this potent little book.

While reflecting on the important values and ethics I picked up in childhood readings, nothing could be more important than learning about the nature of the One True God. This book embodies the nature of our Lord through the story of Christ's atonement and the reconciliation given us through His cross. While some younger children may not grasp the concept of propitiation and reconciliation, The Prince's Poison Cup provides a means to teach your children biblical truth. Even better, the appendix includes a summary of questions to ask a child while promoting an understanding through scriptures that tell of Christ's work in the atonement.

Without having read any of Sproul's other childrens books, I have no comparison to gauge this one by. That said, I would still recommend this book to parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, or even babysitters. If I could only go back and tell mom to buy this book for me as a child, I would.

Buy it now!

Oct 25, 2008

Doubting the Son?

If the Trinity is hard to understand, then just take a moment and open up the Scripture to the book of Hebrews and read the first chapter. Most notably, Heb 1:8. God, calls Himself God, when He is speaking to the Son.

Grasp That...

Oct 22, 2008

Repost: Social Chameleons

Acts 2:42 (Esv) And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

If I could for a moment, impose a different perspective on your line of sight? Imagine being a heroin addict. Then, place yourself in a homeless living situation without money, food, or a will to live. Also, any money you have is used to buy more heroin and needles to use it. Sound despairing yet?

Now, slap on about ten more years of hard drug addictions to liquor, crack-cocaine, cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription pills, and whatever other substance that would elude to temporal oblivion.

There yet? No? That's alright, for some it's unimaginable. Trust me here, we aren't even skimming the surface. Nevertheless, all of these blatant failures at fixing an unrepairable internal condition resulted in adaptation. I had to become what everyone wanted me to be. I also had to paint an image of myself that would convince me I was alright when I looked into the mirror. Ultimately I was an expert at "social chameleonism."

Now imagine once again. Christ saves you. Christ teaches you. Christ places you into fellowship with other believers and you desire to devote yourself to the teaching of the word and the breaking of bread and prayer. Do you suppose there would be some sense of anxiety with the paradigm shift? Crackhouse to meeting house? Street corner beggar to redeemed saint? Do you see the dilemma caused?

Finally, at what point do I explode from the utter gratitude for His mercy and grace? Then where do you learn to make adjustments that help you change your perspective from people being targets to people being friends? I wonder if fellowship of the saints was a remedy to the natural inclination our human nature has to surround ourselves with those who reflect what we are on the inside?

edit: To clarify the last line, this tendency to surround ourselves with the unregenerate when we are unregenerate. The principle then applies once we become saved and seek fellowship with believers. Hence the church discipline the Lord taught as well as Paul of putting out unrepentant brethren from the fellowship. In this we would see that fellowship with the redeemed is something to be desired!

What do you say?

Oct 14, 2008

Me, Myself, and Prosperity (Apostasy?)

The message of prosperity and its far reaching choke hold on many people today is not one that is new to our time and culture. Albeit the definition of prosperity now, as defined by an American context is simply being able to have peace through financial securities. However, other cultures that are not bombarded by the commercialism, abundant resources, and freedoms of American life have very different definitions of prosperity. The bottom line still equates to a matter of "wealth" and the amount of resources you have readily at your disposal. These individuals typically express that these riches bring "peace" and provide comfort.

One of the major tenets of Satanic Cultists is, ‘do what thou wilt is the whole of the law.’ It is a promotion of self and demotion of the needs of others. Mark Cahill's newsletter this month shares an interesting witness encounter with one such person. This philosophy has it's origins in the fall of Satan and is embedded in the nature of man. Sinful rebellion and selfishness is a natural born trait of all those born of Adam's race. This selfishness and natural state is harnessed and becomes fertile ground for those who preach or teach messages that appeal to such a perspective.

The proponents of financial prosperity, as in it being the sole purpose of and definition of financial prosperity found in Scripture, usually state that, "Prosperity is biblical." Indeed it is actually found in several Hebrew words that occur in seventeen different verses of the Old Testament. Context clarifies the intent and meaning of such uses and clarifies the prosperity not only meant wealthy situations for the nation of Israel, but peace and well being due to the blessing of the Lord and His care for them when they were obedient. There is also Scriptural advice that teaches peace and joy during abundance and prosperity but yet during adversity or evil one must remember where it is coming from and that it's origination is a result of sinful behavior (Ecclesiastes 7:14-15.)

Proverbs 1:31-33 exemplify the results of straying from the Lord's counsel, and show the true meaning of prosperity having origin in the comforts of "knowing" the True God. Deuteronomy 13:1-3 is classically cited to disprove those who call themselves modern day prophets, but also give provision for measurement against anyone who may teach a message that consistently lines up with the doctrines found in the Word of God and aspires to worship and follow other gods. A good lesson on this can be found in today's lesson of 'TableTalk Magazine.' Being a professor of faith and then led astray into denunciation of the Lord God is labeled Apostasy, and most Orthodox Christians would affirm that this indicates a lack of true saving faith. Jeremiah 2:19 declares fear of the Lord not being in a dissident. Ezekiel 13:20-23 tells of how the One True God feels and deals with proponents of false messages. The most aberrant aspect of these teachers is the lack of a call to repentance and an insinuated encouragement to continue on in sin. This chapter (Eze. 13) makes much emphasis on the falsehoods of those who preach 'peace' when there is no peace. Not knowing the one true God is an absence of peace, because there is only one name under heaven by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12.)

Finally, we see in the New Testament the wish for one to prosper. This example is found in the third letter of John. Simply stated in 3Jn. 1:2 the author wishes the well being of a disciple. One who is doing the work of the ministry and acts toward others in all charity and Christ-like devotion. This prosperity seen here is also one of the well being of the recipients' soul and business affairs. His well being is based solely upon his obedience to the Word of God and the blessing that comes from keeping his counsel (Ecclesiastes 12:13.) His soul's prosperity is contingent upon his faithfulness to the Lord and is a blessing that provides strength to overcome the war against the flesh and sinful temptations. This reprieve is indeed true prosperity.

Oct 11, 2008

Still Here

There are reportedly some 168 hours in a week. I've worked 35% of those hours, slept another 30% of them (at least tried to) and can't really recall what I've done with the rest. I can't think of much to say for the blog lately.

So, statistically speaking, odds are I'll come up with something soon.

Oct 5, 2008

Sacrificial Living Over Cozy Comforts

In light of the temptations that each day brings for the Christian life I would say there is great reward for the endurance that brings the believer through them. When we stumble and fail to consider the righteousness that is the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, we bring doubt and disbelief to our testimony. The question is not whether or not someone believes we are followers of Jesus because of the evidence that contradicts our confession in the sin they witness us struggling against, but whether they measure that accusation or assumption based upon the whole of the fruit that is demonstrated over the time of a believers confession. Each moment that I ponder the shortcomings and temptations I give in to, the chastisement and grief that follows reminds me of just how much I am not sacrificing for Him. It magnifies the comforts that I justify having and belittles the desire to give more, serve more, and work more...More for His glory and honor.

The grace of Christ has taught me this and so much more. I pray that this becomes more evident in the things I fall short in, as well as the things that I succeed in. Maybe, just maybe, where I stumble is where another believer prevails, and instead of shattering and condemning me for that sin, the right thing would be to lift up and bear each others burdens.

Listen to this compilation that has reminded me of this. It contains excerpts from John Piper's sermon at T4G 2008 "How the Supremacy of Christ Creates Radical Christian Sacrifice." This by far has been one of the most powerful sermons I have heard this year and hope that the compilation does it justice. I would encourage you to listen to the entire sermon as well. If you would like a copy of the compilation, please download it here and distribute it freely. The text the idea centers around is Hebrews 13:13.

Oct 1, 2008