Visual Catechism 

Table Based on the ocular Catechism of Puritan, William Perkins, modified by myself.

Click link above: sample screenshot below

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One interpretation, many applications 

Here is a new sermon/ lesson/ passage application grid. It’s borrowed in part from the Puritan model of sermon preparation for application, but modified. 

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Pascal’s Wager

Simply stated, the wager is that if eternal life and death are contingent on believing or not believing in God, then it’s logical to believe, Even if “just to be safe” because the risk of eternal damnation is too great.
To me it seems the wager is not an apologetic, appealing to natural reason in a fear/risk model as most cite. This then suspends (denies) the basic reformed position that in sinful depravity you could just logically convince someone to believe in God. Pascal does not attempt this tact in his other writings, so contextually as a writer, why would he start and even contradict other things he had written?
Now within the context of his other writings he maintains great descriptions of man’s depravity and its impact and cause of illogical reasoning’s of man. A famous quote of his places the motions of the heart against logic when it comes to love. This fits the moral rational view he holds that as man makes decisions there are calculations being made. You go to cross the street, and you mentally calculate your ability to accelerate against the speed and distance of on coming traffic. In anger you may ignore the calculation and just gun it and take your “chances”. I think this the observation being made in Pascal’s wager. He is not looking to apologetically convince someone to believe, but instead makes an acute observation that men make such an irrational choice with so much in the balance, that sin and depravity could be the only reason to not believe in God. It’s a proof observation that belief in God is a moral rational belief. One that man actively suppresses. If man approached the God question as he does other choices, the rational/logical conclusion would be to believe, because of everything at stake. I think this matches well with his “thoughts”, especially those on distractions and diversions.

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Millennials, Gamers and the Christian Life.

“Millennials”is the stereotypical name given to those of the current generation who are typified by terms like entitlement, whiny and at times aggressively rebellious. I’d like to make an observation about them in contrast to gamers and true Christianity. I hope this widens the perspective of some so that they may go through the rest of life cherishing each day for what it is. 

I’m going to use “gamer(s)” in the sense of those who regularly grind through a game over and over, not just to win, but to improve upon their character’s stats, gear and/or level. 
To me the gamer is most like the Christian. They both enjoy the challenge of grinding out another seemingly monotonous day seeing only incremental improvements each day. Yet within each day there is the satisfaction of having completed more than there was to do the day before. The millennial, on the other hand, just wants the goal or prize. The day to day is pointless to them, a waste of time and even stupid because of a sense of chronological snobbery, if it’s old then there must be a better, more modern way. 
In life the millennial wants retirement asap, because years of the daily grind only prevent them from traveling and doing what’s supposed to be fun. Yet should you give it to them, they will likely tell you in about an hour that they are bored anyway. Why? Because they have nothing to make having gotten the prize worth it. 
So, too, in church, millennials get the end of the world benefit of salvation idea, but the day to day is boring or a waste of time. The spiritual benefits should be immediate because they want them and as a child of God they believe they are entitled to them now. Yet other millennials are more willing to sit on the end of time salvation benefit and just live the day to day as like the rest of the world. 
What they are missing is that like the gamer, the fun is in the details of grinding through the same levels/trials over and over. You build experience, friends and stories about these trials, and you learn not to rush into the next area of life, much less the end level of the game unprepared. There may yield few gains at the end of even a month of grinding, but the gamer knows they are making progress, and see encouragement in those who are ahead and along side them. They are even able to befriend those of weaker levels to show and help them conquer obstacles still too great for them to handle alone. 
Millennials need to both learn and hear from others that life is lived in the trenches, and that although you might want all the rewards now, they won’t be worth anything if just given. You may have the prize, but no experiences of what got you there, no friendships with people you fought and lived shoulder to shoulder with, no stories to share of close calls, rescues and setbacks. 
Life and especially the Christian life is hard. There is no quick fix or advancing to full spiritual enlightenment now. Each day is a grind, and although there many seem to be greener grass elsewhere and prizes you want, you need to be tested enough where you are to know if you’re at the right level to advance there. 
I think one of the reasons Jesus was told “No” in the garden, was because there was no skipping this level of difficulty. So when we are told “no” by God, we are to suck it up that this or that scenario just must be a level we need to complete or grind through again for His glory (not ours). There is no room for pouting or rioting, because that just sets you farther back. You just get up and play on. Breaking controllers and whining just delay the grinding you likely should be doing to incrementally see it to the next level. 

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Filed under New Testament

You’re a normal sinner 

No one is a special class of sinner. We are all sinners in the same general way. This means that none of us should expect or need angelic visions or visits to help us put off our pet sins. Instead we should expect our general sin to be eradicated by the general means Christ gave us to take care of it, those being attending to the preaching and reading of Scripture, prayer, Lord’s Supper and Baptism. These are the simple prescribed means to build a heart and life for God, but like Namaan in 2 Kings 5, we are somewhat offended that 1) it should be so easy, 2) it is not accompanied by a face to face acknowledgement of our greatness 3) there was no payment allowed. 

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Apply the Word

Scripture regularly admonishes us to be not only hearers, but doers of the Word (James 1:22), just as some, maybe few sermons admonish us with notions of application, or how to work out in our lives a piece of what we just heard. Application in sermons is a dying art, yet its something crucial to the Christian walk. Many Christians are well aware of being delivered from sin, justice and wrath, but know little about how the rest of life is to now work. In the absence of true application the culture is ready to fill the gap with its practices and reasonings. Most sermon application seems like moral/ethical standards or doctrines to just be understood. Denominations push these extremes but rarely provide a healthy balance or more. 

Application should be like going to the store and actually buying something that you take home and make yours, as the possession of the product adds to your life. This illustrates the three levels of learning (I’ll call them facts, others and experience). In facts, you learn the details and doctrines of God. In others, you see how people work out those facts in their life. Then in experience, you take both of the above and incorporate them into YOUR life. You have in effect not just read about a product, window shopped, or merely watched an infomercial, but you see such a need for it that you invest in it and take it home with you. Now all three elements are key, because left to themselves or only two of the three, will create problems. For example to just learn facts and doctrine, without any change in heart or life may just make you an Athenian, just liking to know and hear some new thing. 

My application in this post is for you to focus on the next sermon you hear, and whether an application is given or not, ask yourself what will you take home from the sermon that you will seek to incorporate into your life, and make yours, and thus be a doer of what you hear. 

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How to maintain your love for God: when sufferings for religion are placed upon you

Summary points from “Keeping the Heart” by John Flavel.

1. What reproach would you cast upon the Redeemer and his religion by deserting him at such a time as this. 

2. Dare you violate your conscience out of complaisance to flesh and blood. 

3. Isn’t the cause of Christ infinitely more important than any interest of my own, that I should prefer his kingdom 

4. Did the Redeemer th ink lightly of your interests when for your sake he endured  suffering 

5. Can you so easily cast off heaven to join Satan 

6. How do you hope to stand on the day of judgement if you desert him now. 

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