Why I Write These:
This is an initiative I started in 2018 to begin documenting my life better. It’s meant to be a snapshot of a day both for public disclosure of what is going on, both good and hard things in my life. It also serves as a record that I hope to be able to look back on in future years. This concept was inspired by my grandfather, Leon Milton Buttermore, who has a memory that I am envious of, and I hope that by doing this I am able to be the kind of man who starts to treasure the things given him.
Woke up pretty early today as I was restless. Started off the morning listening to some podcasts. I listened to the end of Ligon Duncan’s sermon from UBC. The part around 40ish minutes where he discusses the woman at the well is beautiful and is one of the greatest ways I can think of God’s sovereignty and predestination to date. Then I listened to a podcast with Matt Boswell where he discussed worship for churches. Interesting things to discuss there, and will be eager to chew on that more.
After listening to those for a bit, I arose and went to my study in the Word. Today was a bit different. I have a discipleship meeting tomorrow where I’m meeting with Yan Huang. We’re trying to understand some of his family dynamics and how he should approach them in a Biblical way. So I was trying to prepare for that.
I regret that decision. It ended up feeling too academic and more like compiling verses for later rather than time spent with the Lord right then. Rather than setting my heart on God through the Word, it felt more like a study. Now, I did need to be thoughtful about what I wanted to share with Yan, but that could have happened tonight. I should reserve my time in the morning as a time where I want the Lord to speak to me. So that’s something to note moving forward.
After that, I went and worked with just one client all day. That was a productive day! I felt really focused. Sometimes it is nice to just think about one brand and the set of projects attached to it. I had meetings that were productive and aligned expectations moving forward fairly well (I hope). There are a lot of well-intentioned cooks in the kitchen who make this client’s recipe come together and if we all sat down and compared our recipes, we think we’d make something better than anything each of us can bake individually.
I find myself most effective in these settings. I enjoy the communicating, aligning, and guiding phase of projects more than about anything else. Granted, the ability to do things makes me effective at setting good parameters and helping to guide towards realistic goals.
I did stop by at Damgoode (are Christians allowed to say this? 😉 ) Pies for the first time in a long time and got a pink-sauce Hawaiian pizza. Pineapple and pizza. If you disagree with that combination, I imagine you also hate other great combinations. PB&J. BLT. Banana and pudding. The list goes on.
After I got done rolling through work, I went to something called a Hot Pot for international students who had just arrived to the USA in the last 72 hours or less. It was hosted at the BCM by Courtney Osborne! It was really fun. It was honestly loud and I barely got the hang of pronouncing names as it was, so I’m not going to pretend I can spell their names. But they came from all over the world to be at the U of A and I had a chance to be a table host and just try to be friendly to them. They seemed to have a good time and I hope they found myself and many other brothers and sisters in Christ hospitable and loving in perhaps a unique way?
I had sent that worship podcast referenced this morning to Terry Irwin, who was also at the Hot Pot, and we had a fun discussion about it. The students were starting to come in, so we had to cut that conversation off. But we both seem pretty aligned on the fact that music can be both affectionate and emotive both by the beauty of the music played and for the narrative the lyrics contained.
Sarah Watkins was there and she has a big test to figure out if she can get into speech pathology school a year earlier. I think she said the test is next week, so I should be praying that she’ll have success there, but in all things that she’ll be content with the Lord to lead, even if that means a delay of a year.
Vicky Foti wants me to help with the Valentine’s Banquet. I have a tendency to not say no when I know I should say no to some things. I didn’t do a good job with that at the banquet and I really have conflicts that weekend that make it unwise for me to participate there. I need to learn how to graciously decline something I know I cannot do rather than act as if I will contemplate it further.
I did get to give one fellow a ride home afterwards as it was starting to get pretty icy on the roads. His name was Benjamin (He goes by Ben) and he said he grew up in a Christian home. Sounds like he maybe knows someone in the states who he will go to church with. He mentioned that their church has Grace in the name, but couldn’t remember the full name. I told him if that didn’t work out, that he’d be welcome at University Baptist Church and got his number.
If nothing else, I hope to make sure that he gets plugged in with Cole Penick and the folks at the BCM on an ongoing basis. He’s here for 2 years, so there’s some hopeful time to meet up with him and get him plugged into places that can do deliberate, spiritual good to him.
I got home to my apartment at around 7:30. Last night was rough, as you can read about, but today has been great! Even with a somewhat lackluster time spent in the Word this morning, I spent some hard time with God last night and feel like I really wrestled with my sin and with God. I was tired tonight, but also had focused, disciplined tasks to get done, which is a good thing to prevent sin from gaining more footholds than I’ve already given it.
I read a bit of Total Money Makeover. I wish his tone and theology didn’t grate me so much. He arrives at great conclusions sometimes with how to handle money, but I’m not sure he understands how he got there all the time. That said, I think some elements of his plan are worth implementing into my life. Especially, the $1,000 emergency fund that he talks about and the debt snowball. Those two seem like really good, relatively easy steps I could take in 2018. So I’m making them goals I’d like to accomplish with my money, Lord willing. At that point, I will re-evaluate what has happened.
I started reading The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy as my next Fantasy read and am really excited to re-read this epic adventure! It’s been many, many years since I last read it and even seeing many names I realized I’m ready for it as my memory is hazy on details.
Then I turned my attention to Psalm 51 and writing that out as my first Spring lesson for the men in our Living Sacrifices sexual idolatry ministry. I really love where the Lord led me in this! He was very faithful through His Holy Spirit to open up the text to me. I saw things I’ve never saw before, and while I’m sure the lesson can use some edits and maybe size reduction, I will have a fairly polished draft done by the end of the week, which was the goal.
I was also encouraged because this time in the Word felt like a very personal time of study in juxtaposition to my morning time. So it was nice for the Lord, even in the midst of attempting to see how I might like to teach on it, was opening it up to me so personally. It’s a beautiful text and I’m excited to get it in front of the men. It’s on how we repent in the midst of sin and shame, which, after last night, was very raw and real in my mind. Some crucial rough draft thoughts I have (I don’t care if I spoil it for anyone because I think if it is truth, then you can’t hear it enough times) on repentance:
- David from the very beginning never makes any claims to His own righteousness. He never appeals to great deeds done in the name of the Lord. He doesn’t start out saying, “Oh great God, remember me, David, your servant. The one who stood up and slew the giant Goliath in your name when no one else would. So, er, be gracious to me, eh?” No, David makes no appeal to that. Look at what he says in verse 14:
“Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me.” What is David saying? This isn’t a cry of a man who thinks he is innocent. In fact, David knows exactly how guilty he is. After God promised that he would not destroy the world again in Genesis 9, He gave this administration of justice: “And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.” This accounting will be lifeblood for lifeblood. Don’t forget that David orchestrated the murder of his fellow man, Uriah the Hittite. He murdered him. Bloodguilt is not an accidental word here. David understands that he is guilty and he stands condemned.
- When you repent, you repent on the basis of Christ’s redeeming work. Now, this has an interesting implication. I’m not sure about yourself, but when I’ve been in the midst of sin, I’ve hesitated and often waited to come to the Lord to have my conscience sprinkled and cleansed (Hebrews 10:22). But what does this communicate? I’d encourage you to realize that when you do not quickly and desperately admit your guilt and beseech the Lord, you are effectively denying the effectiveness of Jesus’ work on the cross on your behalf. You’re waiting because you want to feel a bit… better about yourself before you repent. You want to approach God on your terms. But we never approach God on our terms. We come to Him as He wills, or else we will have no part of him!
- “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean… Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me… Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” This whole section is full of pleas for restoration. This restoration hinges upon a mercy flowing from a God who is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6) and desiring people to repent and live (Ezekiel 18:32). I think so often when we repent, we think we’re audacious to try to believe that we can claim this restoration and cry out for it. However, it is really humble. Why is it humble? Because the very basis that allows one to cry out requires one to recognize the depravity of man and the sole sufficiency of Christ. To not cry out for that restoration is to either not fully admit your sin or to not rely solely on the work of Christ and the character of God to be faithful to the work they have accomplished on their own.
- “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.”
This is David saying, “Lord, save me!” like we saw Peter do back in our earlier sessions. And then David is saying, “Lord, if you do this for me, I will go and tell the people what you have done for me. I will invite them to come see what the Lord has done for my soul.” Remember that it’s not your perfection that makes you a candidate to be a herald for Christ in this world. If you were perfect, you would actually invalidate the Gospel! For if men could be perfect, then Christ would be folly and His sacrifice in vain. Instead, it’s actually your imperfection that makes you eligible to proclaim the Gospel. Brothers, the worst thing I see is when someone repents from sin and then spends hours, days, or even weeks engulfed by their sin and ineffective for the kingdom of Christ. Don’t mistake me! You should take your sin seriously. Feel regret. Feel even shame or guilt. Feel the weight of God’s holiness and realize you are to try to live up to that for He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). But there’s a difference between allowing that experience to shape you and remold you and being immobilized. Again, we so often as humans repent in ways that actually deny repentance! We want to repent in a way that says “Lord, I’m paying you lip service, but I really want to actually fix the ship myself! So I said these words, but I’ll get back on board once I feel alright about myself.”
- But finally, I’ll say this about repentance: Do not make it a ritualistic affair. Look at what David says here: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.” But, God! I thought you said that sacrifices are how we were purified! What does God say in Isaiah 1:13? “Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations– I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.” Meaningless offerings? Lord, they can be meaningless?! Yes, what is the difference between Cain and Abel way back towards the very beginning? Hebrews 11:4 tells us: “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did.” By faith. So what is the sacrifice of a man repenting? The answer is one verse down in Psalm 51: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” A broken spirit. A contrite heart. Does sin grieve you? Do you feel it when you repent? If you do, then I actually think you should be encouraged. There is such a thing as Godly grief (2 Corinthians 7:10) and it leads to repentance, which is evidence of the Holy Spirit himself.
Those are some of the rough thoughts I’ll be trying to tidy up over the next few days.
Now it is on to bed so I can get up early in the morning and meet the Bielinskinator at the gym. I’m excited that after many shoulder stretches, they actually don’t feel quite so terrible and I look forward to getting stronger!
I’m going to read another chapter of the Jerle Shannara trilogy, a chapter or two of Mere Christianity, and Genesis 29 & 30 to keep up with my plan.
Thank you, Lord, that even when I am unfaithful and unwise towards you, that you allow me to find mercies and experience your grace. Who is man that you should notice him? Let my heart be broken and contrite over what you suffered on my behalf. May I not crucify you again after having learned the truth about my sins. May I go and be holy as you are holy, but, Lord, if I do sin then I turn to you as my defender, the Righteous One. Shape my heart even as I sleep so that I may be faithful to you upon waking tomorrow and more faithful than I was today.
Praise God, Christ is risen! Behold the empty tomb! Behold it, heart. See what isn’t there and then go and tell the world, if you will but have for even a moment the faith of a mustard seed.