Five Points Blog

A Visit to Oxford University


Teaching has existed at Oxford, England since the year 1096. Today, Oxford University is the oldest place of learning in the English-speaking world; it has been a school for 918 years. From its early days, Oxford was a center for lively controversy, with scholars involved in religious and political disputes. John Wycliffe, a 14th-century professor, campaigned for a Bible in the vernacular against the wishes of the papacy. During the Reformation in the 16th century, the Anglican churchmen Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley were tried for heresy and burnt at the stake in Oxford. In the late 17th century, the Oxford philosopher John Locke, suspected of treason, was forced to flee the country. The 18th-century professor of geometry, Edmund Halley, predicted the return of the comet that bears his name, and John and Charles Wesley's prayer meetings laid the foundations of the Methodist Society.

It was at this historic wellspring of scholars that C. S. Lewis schooled, graduated, and later taught in its halls. He was the famous Christian apologist who helped steady the courage of the British people during World War II with his weekly radio program of hope and faith; the famous debater of his time who challenged the atheists with well-reasoned arguments for the truthfulness of Christianity; the author of many Christian-focused fiction and non-fiction books widely read today.

I was privileged to be traveling to this place last October to attend a conference on C. S. Lewis knowing full well that I did not comprehend the impact this school and its graduates have had on the world. I left a week later having had my brain crushed under the weight of trying to absorb a fraction of what was shared on Lewis, his life, his views, his faith, his thinking, and the heights of his intellect which call us upward to a God we will never stop knowing more fully. Among the speakers was Dr. Michael Ward, a research fellow at Oxford and author of The Narnia Code.

Each morning Dr. Ward shared a part of his amazing insight into how Lewis loved myth, lore, and stories of medieval literature (Lewis’ academic focus). One story of Lewis’ life that was shared was how before Lewis was a Christian, his friend J.R.R. Tolkien would share the gospel with him. One day as they walked together, Tolkien—remembering Lewis’ love of mythology—said, “What if one of those myths you love were actually true?” Tolkien talked to Lewis of the story of a person who so loved that he gave himself, so that others might live. Lewis knew this story—it was common in the ancient medieval myths. It speaks to a desire for virtue common to all people. This was the turning point in Lewis’ life, the day he began to realize, “What if one of those myths actually happened?”

Lewis went on to lecture and write on medieval literature in a new way. It was no longer mankind’s existential hope in virtue but now a foreshadowing of the true myth. Lewis would write about how we live in a “shadow land” that is only the weakest of images of what is waiting for us. We live now as vapors full of holes, but then we will be solid for the first time. We go to a reality that will not compare to this world, to a glory that has weight.

The mythological story form Lewis uses in his fiction enables us to identify, to feel, to experience more fully the truthfulness of ideas in our world in a way that speaks to our humanness. God makes us both rational and imaginative—by using both we can know God more fully.

Join us for a two-part event, “A Voyage into Narnia,” that will help you understand and appreciate more of C. S. Lewis, his world of Narnia, and how he intended for us to see God by breathing Narnian air. On Wednesday, May 28, Dr. Michael Ward will join us to discuss the imagery of Narnia that C.S. Lewis used to speak to our souls and draw us to God. And on Saturday, May 31, Joe Rigney, professor at Bethlehem College & Seminary and author of Live Like a Narnian, will apply Lewis’ Chronicles to our call to be and make disciples.


Why Do You Want to Be Foster Parents?


This question is often addressed to my husband, Makarios, or me, as we are in the process of becoming licensed as foster parents. While the reasons are many, the most compelling is a biblical one. There are many Bible passages that command God’s people to care for the widow and the orphan, which reveals God’s compassion for them. 

However, Matthew 25:31-46 is most meaningful to me. Jesus tells us about how at the end of time, the King will come and separate the people into two groups. Those who are welcomed into the kingdom are those who served the King. He says, “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you visited me” (vv.35-36). The righteous people ask when they did those things for Jesus, so he replies, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (v.40).

When a family fosters or adopts a child, they are able to do all of these things Jesus spoke about for one of the least of these. They provide food and drink and clothes, they invite in a stranger, take care of their illnesses—be it mental, physical, or psychological—and set them free from their personal prisons.

The Holy Spirit comforted me with verse 40 when I was feeling inadequate as a parent. God reminded me that whatever I do for a child, I do for him. My weak attempts to parent well, when done for the Lord, can be used by his grace to bless the child. Whether we have the privilege of fostering or adopting one child or more, for days or weeks or a lifetime, it will be in obedience to God’s Word.

We want to foster so that we can serve the children that are least wanted by most of society and to ultimately serve King Jesus.


This guest post was written by Jennifer Darawi, a Five Points member and mother of three.


Journeying Towards True Womanhood


Nancy Leigh DeMoss has said, “Today, more than ever I believe that now is the time for 'true women' to …

  • Discover and embrace God’s created design and mission for their lives;
  • Reflect the beauty and heart of Christ to our world;
  • Be intentional about passing the baton of Truth on to the next generation; and
  • Pray earnestly for an outpouring of God’s Spirit in our families, churches, nation, and world."

Personally I couldn’t agree more. In a world that rejects God’s unique design for womanhood, I am thankful for the opportunity to hear women like Nancy, Mary Kassian, Joni Eareckson Tada, and others teach, encourage, and equip women at the True Woman '12 Conference in Indianapolis (Sept. 20-22).

There, we will worship our heavenly Father, be challenged to grow in our understanding of what it means to be a “true woman,” and gather with others who embrace and display the various facets of feminine godliness from across the globe. This is truly a unique chance to be refreshed and revitalized in our walk as women worthy of the calling of Christ.

If you're interested or have questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. Now is the time to join the journey to true womanhood.


Dig in Together This Fall


Fall is just around the corner and I am excited for the many different classes that will be starting up on September 9. Let me highlight for you some of the opportunities you will have to connect with others in digging into God's word.

We will continue with a full spread of Bible Study Hour classes for adults. Pastor JJ will be teaching a class called "God Saves: Studies in Jonah & Hosea" (Room I/J), highlighting how these often-obscured prophets clearly anticipate Christ. One of our elders, Mike Houston, will continue to partner with Eric Leiendecker in leading the College & Career class through the Letter to the Colossians (Room A). Another elder, Dick Mills, will be teaching an expositional or topical study in the Sanctuary. Cindy Verner will continue teaching the women's class in the Gospel of John (Room D). And I will have the privilege of walking through redemptive history, looking at how God is working to establish his people in his place with his presence by creating his kingdom through a covenant (Room C).

And while we will mainly focus on the deep truths of God’s word on Sunday mornings, we will consider how those truths impact our daily lives at our Evening Family Gatherings. Pastor Brent will be teaching a class titled, "Marriage: A Marvelous Mystery" (Sanctuary). Elder Mark Kakkuri will teach "Apologetics to the Glory of God" (Rooms I & J), and Ken Whitely will be teaching the class "The Fruitful Credit of Faithful Finances" (Rooms C & D).

And of course, classes for children and students will be held during the same times as well.

Consider joining us as we pursue joy in Christ alone through the study and application of his word together.


Additional Quotes from the Magnifcat Morning with Jodi Ware


Here are some additional quotes from Jodi Ware's talk on contentment this past weekend.

“[One of the marks of Christian maturity which a believer should seek is] an acquiescence in the Lord’s will founded in a persuasion of his wisdom, holiness, sovereignty, and goodness . . . So far as we attain to this, we are secure from disappointment.  Our own limited views, and short-sighted purposes and desires, may be, and will be, often over-ruled; but then our main and leading desire, that the will of the Lord may be done, must be accomplished.  How highly does it become us, both as creatures and as sinners, to submit to the appointments of our Maker!  And how necessary is it to our peace!  This great attainment is too often unthought of, and over-looked; we are prone to fix our attention upon the second causes and immediate instruments of events; forgetting that whatever befalls us is according to his purpose, and therefore must be right and seasonable in itself, and shall in the issue be productive of good.  From hence arise impatience, resentment, and secret repinings [i.e., complainings] which are not only sinful, but tormenting; whereas, if all things are in his hand, if the very hairs of our head are numbered; if every event, great and small, is under the direction of his providence and purpose; and if he has a wise, holy, and gracious end in view, to which everything that happens is subordinate and subservient;--then we have nothing to do, but with patience and humility to follow as he leads, and cheerfully to expect a happy issue . . . How happy are they who can resign all to him, see his hand in every dispensation, and believe that he chooses better for them than they possibly could for themselves.”

From Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA:  The Banner of Truth Trust, 1960), 137.

 

[Regarding lust of the flesh]

It is to be gluttonous in food; effeminate in luxury; slavish in pleasure; lustful
and lax in morals; selfish in the use of possessions; regardless of all the spiritual
values; extravagant in the gratification of material desires.  The flesh’s desire is
regardless of the commandments of God, the judgment of God, the standards of
God and the very existence of God.”

William Barclay, The Letters of John and Jude (Westminster John Knox, 3rd ed., 2002), 57.

 

“If you’re willing to sin to obtain your goal or if you sin when you don’t get what you want, then your desire has taken God’s place and you’re functioning as an idolater.”

Elyse Fitzpatrick, Idols of the Heart, (Phillipsburg, NJ, P&R, 2001), 25.

 

“The problem with using life’s little pleasures as life’s big escapes is that before long we come to depend on those pleasures. . . . When we turn life’s little pleasures into remedies for life’s troubles, we are setting up idols in our hearts, which actually push God aside . . . All idols are governed by the law of diminishing returns.  The more we seek solace in our escape of choice, the farther from God we take ourselves and the more miserable we get.”

 Lydia Brownback, Contentment (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 52-53.  
[This volume is one of several excellent “on-the-go devotionals” by this author.]

 

“The lust of the eyes is ‘the tendency to be captivated by the outward show of things, without enquiring into their real value.’”

(C.H. Dodd, quoted in Barclay,) 58.

 

“. . . the cravings of the human heart can be changed . . . God would have us long for Him instead.  To make us truly human God must change what we want, for we must learn to want the things Jesus wanted . . . The human life is a great paradox.  Those who die to self, find self . . . If I crave happiness, I will receive misery.  If I crave to be loved, I will receive rejection.  If I crave significance, I will receive futility.  If I crave control, I will receive chaos.  If I crave reputation, I will receive humiliation.  But if I long for God and  His wisdom, I will receive God and His wisdom.  Along the way, sooner or later, I will also receive happiness, love, meaning, order and glory.”

David Powlison, Dynamics of Biblical Change (Journal of Biblical Counseling).

 

Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life.  I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee to be Thine forever.  Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit.  Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever.

Prayer of Betty Stam, martyred missionary in China

 

E. B. Pusey, a 19th-century church leader.  Listen to these resolutions:

1)  Allow thyself to complain of nothing, not even of the weather.

2) Never picture thyself under any circumstances in which thou art not.

3) Never compare thine own lot with that of another.

4) Never allow thyself to dwell on the wish that this or that had been, or were, otherwise than it was, or is. God Almighty loves thee better and more wisely than thou dost thyself.

5) Never dwell on the morrow. Remember that it is God’s, not thine. The heaviest part of sorrow often is to look forward to it. “The Lord will provide.”

Quoted in Linda Dillow, Calm My Anxious Heart (NavPress, Colorado Springs:  1998)

 

“If we do not have what we desire, we have more than we deserve.”  

Thomas Watson, The Art of Divine Contentment (Soli Deo Gloria, 2nd edition, 2001), 121.

 

O Lord, I am astonished at the difference
  between my receivings and my deservings,
  between the state I am now in and my past gracelessness,
  between the heaven I am bound for and the hell I merit.
Who made me to differ, but thee?
  for I was no more ready to receive Christ than were others;
I could not have begun to love thee hadst thou not first loved me,
  or been willing unless thou hadst first made me so.
O that such a crown should fit the head of such a sinner!
  such high advancement be for an unfruitful person!
  such joys for so vile a rebel!

(Valley of Vision, p. 12-13)

 

“Death begins a wicked man’s hell, but it puts an end to a godly man’s hell.”

Thomas Watson, The Art of Divine Contentment (Soli Deo Gloria, 2nd edition, 2001), 96.

 

“We came in with nothing, we will leave with nothing, and anything we get in between is fleeting and temporary.  If we would just view our lives from this perspective, our capacity for joy would enlarge. Contentment would become much more than an occasional mood; it would characterize our entire life.”

(Lydia Brownback, Contentment, p. 107)


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