2009 Reading Reflections

Well, 2009 is almost over so I thought that I'd post my readings for the year. As usual, some books were better than others. I read some of these books because they were requirements for seminary, while I read other for different reasons. I'm happy to say that a few fiction works finally made their way into my reading list. I really do love to read fiction, but I usually don't have time to fit them in with all of the non-fiction that I have to read. I hope that during 2010 I'll be able to keep this trend going. I'd like to finish the Harry Potter series, and then find another fantasy series to jump into. (Recommendations anyone?)

Of the books that I read, here are a few that I really enjoyed:
  • Salvation Belongs to Our God by Christopher J.H. Wright - In this book, Wright begins with the end; meaning, he takes us to the book of Revelation where we see the vision of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation gathered and worshiping Go. Then Wright shows how God's "global vision" is everywhere throughout the OT and NT. (And in turn, our vision and mission must likewise be to see God's kingdom spread globally.) He also helps us to have a deeper understanding of "salvation language" as we read the Scripture.
  • Samson and the Pirate Monks by Nate Larkin - This autobiographical book about Larkin's struggle with sin (i.e. sexual sin in particular) was interesting, humorous, gritty, and honest. Every man should read this book. Larkin reminds us of the vital role that Christian community plays in each of our lives as we seek to live for Jesus.
  • Ministires of Mercy by Timothy Keller - In this book, Keller helps to remind us that showing mercy is the responsibility of every believer, every church. It is not optional. Keller helps to answer questions that always seem to arise as we talk about helping the poor and needy: Is it proper to distinguish between the "deserving" and "undeserving" poor? What is the relationship between word and deed, evangelism and mercy?
Here's the complete list of book readings for the year:


Twitter and the Kingdom of God

There was a time when I said that I thought that Twitter was pointless. Do we really need a play-by-play update from every person regarding their daily activities? Even though I had my doubts regarding Twitter, I decided to give it a try. Now that I've been "tweeting" for a couple of months, I have a few thoughts about why I think Twitter can be a good thing. Specifically, I think that Twitter can be used in the service of God and His Kingdom.

Twitter and Prayer - First, after receiving tweets from friends and family, I've sensed the need to pray for them in that moment. It's amazing the things that people are willing to share with the world--struggles, pain, frustrations, fears, anxieties. Use the insights gain from tweets in order to pray for others.

Twitter and Scripture - Second, I've been been encouraged by some of the tweets that I received--especially from ESV. Everyday I receive a tweet from ESV that contains a bible verse. The timing of some of these tweets has been amazing--comfort, conviction, encouragement. One day I had just gotten angry with one of my daughters--not the righteous kind of anger. In the middle of my sinful actions I received a tweet--"Let everyone be slow to anger..." It was as though God Himself had sent me a text message. I was convicted immediately and sought to be reconciled with my daughter. Not only could you sign-up to receive Bible-verse-tweets, but you could send out Bible verses, quotes, probing thoughts through Twitter.

Twitter and Community - Third, Twitter has helped me keep in touch with people even when I didn't have time to personally call, email, or see them. Of course, Twitter should not replace community, but it can help us keep connected with those that we love.

So, do you tweet? Why or why not? Can you think of some ways that Twitter (or other social networks/tools) can be used to expand the kingdom of God? Leave a comment.

(And in case you wanted to know, you can follow me at www.twitter.com/EMAshley)



There's always a lot of build-up before the holidays--whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, or any other holiday. The stores roll out the merchandise, people sometimes wear themed clothing, and homes are decorated. Yet, as soon as the holiday is over, changes are made to get ready for the next big holiday. Amy and I were in Target on the day after Christmas, and we noticed that they already had Valentine's Day gifts out. (And they also had out bathing suits, which seemed really strange to me.)

It seems as though so many people live for the holidays. Yet, I wonder how many people deal with depression and dissatisfaction after the holiday is over. Now, I certainly don't have a problem with enjoying the company of family and friends, going to parties, or participating in any other holiday events. Yet, I think that we need to be careful that we don't focus our lives on the "big days." If we are not careful, our holidays can turn into our idols. Our hope, attention, satisfaction will only be found in knowing Christ. Any other hope will always fail.

So, enjoy the holidays and all that comes with them. But don't live for the holidays. And if you are one that is feeling down and out because Christmas has come and gone, remember that there is hope and joy to be found in Jesus. He will satisfy you.


A Few Things I Love About the South

1. Sweet tea

2. "Ya'll"

3. Hospitality

4. Cheese Grits (Don't even think about putting sugar in these!)

5. Having total strangers smile and wave at me (especially while driving)

6. Hearing older Southern ladies talk.

7. Fried food (chicken, pickles, Oreo's, etc.)


Neither Left Nor Right

The ideology of the Left believes big government and social reform will solve social ills, while the Right believes big business and economic growth will do it. The Left expects a citizen to be held legally accountable for the use of his wealth, but totally autonomous in other areas, such as sexual morality. The Right expects a citizen to be held legally accountable in areas of personal morality, but totally autonomous in the use of wealth. The North American "idol"--radical individualism--lies beneath both ideologies. A Christian sees either "solution" as fundamentally humanistic and simplistic
-Timothy Keller, Ministries of Mercy


Another Semester Ends

Thanks to everyone who prayed for me during my week of finals. As always, the Lord's grace and mercy has surrounded me. On Sunday, we'll be arriving in Virginia in order to visit with our family. Be on the lookout for a number of new posts. I've got a lot of thoughts floating around in my head, and I'm sure some of them will make their way to this blog.


Family, Sickness, and Exams

So, I thought that I would be back to regular blogging by now, but that has not happened yet. We had family visiting with us last week for Thanksgiving. Then, over the weekend all of our family was sick. (And we're still recovering). Also, this is my last week of classes before exams. (I don't really want to think about how many papers I need to write or how many exams I need to study for!) I guess the best word to describe life at this moment is: busy. But busy isn't bad. It just means that blogs get neglected for a bit longer. For the two of you who are still reading this blog, I anticipate a return after exams next week. Who knows, maybe a blog post appear before that time. Only time will tell.


Driving Pet Peeve

In response to this post, I must say that I am emphatically an early merger. Late mergers are the bane of my driving existence. Go to the back of the line!



Between family, ministry, school, and a bit of sickness, this blog has been slightly neglected.


Alora's First Cavity and Filling

I went with Alora this morning to the dentist because she had to have a cavity filled. This was her first filling, so she was a little nervous. On the way to the dentist office, Alora and I had the following conversation:

Me: Are you nervous?

Alora: I'm a little scared of the shot. Is it going to hurt a lot?

Me: Not too much. But it will hurt a little. Do you want us to pray together?

Alora: Of course.

After we prayed, we talked and made jokes for the rest of the time until we arrived at the dentist.

Me: We're here. Are you ready?

Alora: Yes. I feel much better now.

Me: Do you feel better because we prayed?

Alora: I like the prayer and the knock-knock jokes.

Alora's appointment went great. The Dentist and his assistant were so good with Alora. They did everything they could to help her be comfortable. Hopefully, we won't have to deal with any more cavities for a while--through all the candy from last weekend certainly doesn't help.


Demons, Deliverance, and Discipleship

The sermon that I preached on Sunday is now available here. Here's a brief outline of the sermon:

I. The Crisis of the Demoniac

II. The Conquering of the Demons

III. The Concern of the Community

IV. The Commissioning of a Disciple


To My Wife

Since this is my blog, I guess I can blog about whatever comes to my mind. So, tonight, I've decided to take a moment and let everyone know that my wife is the greatest. If you know Amy, then this fact will come as no surprise to you. Amy loves Jesus. She loves me. She loves our girls. She is a constant source of encouragement. I am so blessed to have her as my wife. We've been married for 6+ years. I can still remember the first time that I met her at North Greenville--so beautiful and funny. And she's still beautiful and funny! She's not only a great wife, but also a great mother. Our daughter's adore her. On a daily basis she tells them about Jesus, instructs them in godly living, teaches them, encourages their creativity, and much, much more. Amy, when you make your way to my blog again, know that I love you. Always and forever.


A Previous Post and Preaching

Last night, I found out that I'll have the opportunity to preach this Sunday at Redeemer Church. I always love having the opportunity to preach. Since I've had Mark 5 and the story of the demoniac on my mind (see my previous post), I'll be preaching from that text. If you live in Anderson, come by and worship with us this Sunday.


Afraid to Tell Your Story?

As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. (Mark 5:18-20, ESV)
I'd like for each of you to take a moment and answer this question: Are you afraid to tell others about Jesus?

Christians often become fearful when they begin to think about sharing their faith with other (i.e. witnessing, evangelism, etc.). A number of questions or thoughts may run through your head:
  • What am I supposed to say?
  • Do I know enough about Jesus to tell others about Him?
  • What if I mess up?
If you have ever experienced fear in regards to evangelism or entertained any of these questions, I'd like to encourage you with a few thoughts.

First, tell your story. Don't make evangelism more complicated than it really is. Evangelism is telling others what Jesus has done for you. Isn't that what Jesus told the man to do--to tell of His acts and mercy? If you are a Christian, then you have a story to tell. Why? Because the story of your life has intersected with the Big Story--the Story of Salvation. Your sin has been forgiven because of Christ's life, death, and resurrection. Tell others what He's done for you.

Second, begin with your friends. Those who know you the best will be the ones who will most readily see how Jesus has changed you. The friends of the demoniac remembered him as someone who lived among the graves, cut himself with stones, constantly cried out, and broke out of his changed. Yet, after encountering Jesus, he was changed.

There's much more that can be said, but we need to start somewhere. May the Lord give you opportunities this week to share your story.

( Go here to read the whole story of Jesus' encounter with the Gerasenes demoniac.)


Sloppy Wet Kiss

If you haven't had a chance to listen to DC*B's Church Music, then you should do it now. Even if you have listened, you may not have known that there is a lyric change on the song "How He Loves." The song originally had the lines "sloppy wet kiss," while on the DC*B version the lyric was changed to "unforeseen kiss." In this interview, David Crowder explains, along with other things, why they made the change.


Phil Wickham - "True Love" Live

This is such a great, gospel-centered song! Hope that you enjoy. Jesus is alive!


The Joy of Rainy Days

I love rainy days.

When I awake in the morning I enjoy being greeted by a gray sky, dark clouds, and pouring rain. Rain slows down the pace of life: cars drive slower ( at least they should!) and people tend to stay inside.

The sound of rain is like a soft lullaby that relaxes me: the sound of rain hitting the roof of my house, the sound of rain as it makes its way through the leaves of trees, the sound of cars driving through puddles, the sound of children laughing and splashing.

"Rain, rain, don't go away. Come again day after day."

I love rainy days.


"I'm Bored"

"I'm bored."

Redeemer Youth Blog

I've recently started a blog for the youth ministry at our church. You can visit the blog at www.redeemeryouth.wordpress.com.


An Old Favorite

On the way to Virginia, we stopped by Concord Mills Mall for a short break. While we were walking around the mall, we went into a candy store where I came across Cry Baby Tears candy. As a kid these were my favorite candy, but I haven't had them in years. So, I bought a box and ate half of them. Unfortunately, the acidity of the candy "burned" the taste buds off of my tongue. But it was worth it. Oh, the memories.


Virginia is for Birthdays

Amy's sister Tiffany is turning 16, so we're going to be traveling to Virginia to celebrate her birthday and enjoy time with family. Unfortunately, since I have class in the morning, we'll be getting a late start on our trip. It usually takes us about 9 hours to make it there. Yet, when you are traveling with young children, trips can sometimes take longer than expected. On one occasion it took us 13 hours to make it home from Virginia! Lord willing, we'll have a quick (and safe!) trip.


Counterfeit Gods

A couple of weeks ago I commented on the upcoming release of this book, but I wanted to point out that you can read the introduction online. Keller's book will be released in October.


"...I was made for another world."

Name the person who wrote the following words:
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
The comment section is waiting for you...


"It had the effect of a spell..."

In what book do you find the following quote?
It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations of humanity, and inclosing her in a sphere by herself.
Place your answer in the comment section.


The False Gospel of Moralism

Let's say that you meet someone who is not a Christian. After talking with them for a while you learn that they like to get drunk on the weekends and have sex with their girlfriend. How do you respond? Is your first response to tell them to clean-up their life--stop getting drunk and having sex outside of marriage? If so, you're preaching the false gospel of moralism. Granted, drunkenness and sexual immorality are both sins. But a non-Christian doesn't need moral improvement--they need the good news that Jesus saves sinners. Albert Mohler recently put it this way:

In our own context, one of the most seductive false gospels is moralism. This false gospel can take many forms and can emerge from any number of political and cultural impulses. Nevertheless, the basic structure of moralism comes down to this -- the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior.

Sadly, this false gospel is particularly attractive to those who believe themselves to be evangelicals motivated by a biblical impulse. Far too many believers and their churches succumb to the logic of moralism and reduce the Gospel to a message of moral improvement. In other words, we communicate to lost persons the message that what God desires for them and demands of them is to get their lives straight.
Continue read Dr. Mohler's blog post here.


Why So Skeptical?

If I were to announce today that my church (or any other church for that matter) baptized 300 people yesterday, I'm sure that people would react in many different ways. Some would rejoice. They would praise the Lord that so many people had come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Yet, others would doubt. Some would doubt that the gospel had really been preached in its fullness. Others would assume that we must have toyed with peoples' emotions. Others would doubt that people had really come to faith in Jesus. I'll be the first to admit that there are times when pastors have preached false gospels, people's emotions have been twisted and faith was only temporary. These are sad realities.

But let me ask a question: why have we become such skeptics? Why do we act as though it is unbelievable or impossible that 300 people truly came to faith in Jesus? In Acts 2:41 Luke tells us that after Peter's sermon "those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls."

So, I ask you once again: Why so skeptical?


What Bible translation do you prefer?

I wanted to take a moment to point out the poll that I've placed in the sidebar. I'm curious to find out what Bible translations you guys prefer to use. Take a moment and vote. If you're feeling extremely cooperative, you use the comment section to explain why you use that particular version.


Your Love Never Fails -Chris Quilala / Jesus Culture

Bible Translations: What's the Difference?

There are so many Bible translations available today: KJV, NKJV, RSV, ESV, NIV, NLT and the list goes on. Have you ever walked though a Bible section of a local bookstore and wondered, "What's the difference between all of these translations? Is one translation better than another?" If you've ever pondered these questions, I'd like to encourage you to take a moment to read a brief interview with LeLand Rykan, the author of the new book Understanding English Bible Translations: The Case for an Essentially Literal Approach. In the interview, Rykan explains the the difference between the two main translation philosophies, and he addresses other related questions. Later this week, I'll post a poll in order to see what translations you all prefer. So, check back again soon.

Part One of the interview is available here.
Part Two of the interview is available here.


Simple Words

Sometimes simple words are all I need,
When I feel my heart begin to break.
So, will You speak to me
in a whisper, in the wind, in the fire, or in the quake?

I know that You have so much to say,
But could You sing a familiar song to me?
Please remind me of Jesus' love
And the grace that set me free.

The world will surely seek my demise,
And I may weary in the fight.
But I am assured of this one thing:
You will never abandon me to the night.

So, speak to me the simple words
That I desperately need to hear.
"Jesus friend of sinners"
And I will have no fear.


Midnight Flight

Last Friday night Amy and I (along with others from Redeemer Church) ran in the Midnight Flight. We had a lot of fun running together. Thanks to Josh Hardy (www.joshuaworks.com) for taking these pictures for us.

The Promise of the Father

Jesus' disciples were witnesses of God's great redemptive work--Jesus' life, death and resurrection. When Jesus appears to them after His resurrection, He takes time to instruct them about how Moses and the Prophets all spoke of Him (see Luke 24:27, 44-49). Yet, the disciples needed more than knowledge in order to fulfill Christ's command to "make disciples" (Matthew 28:18-20)--they needed the promise of the Father:
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5).
The disciples needed the power that only the Holy Spirit could provided. The Spirit is the One who would enable the disciples to be witnesses--heralds of the good news of Jesus. Apart from the work of the Spirit, the disciples ministry would have been ineffective. And the same is true for us. We must not rely on our own knowledge, abilities or strength as we seek to bring the good news to others. We need the power that only the Spirit supplies.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).



If you want to follow me on Twitter, you can check out the sidebar of this blog or go directly to www.twitter.com/EMAshley


Lord of Lords

My good friend Daniel told me about this song, and I've found myself singing throughout the day. Enjoy.

Current Tunes


Future Reading

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on this book when it comes out in October.


Fall Semester is Here

I'll be taking three classes during the Fall Semester at Erskine Seminary:

-Hebrew I
-Systematic Theology I
-Worship and Preaching I

Of these three class I expect for Hebrew I to be the most taxing. I've already taken Greek I - III, but I've heard that Hebrew is a lot different. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to learning the language so that I can become a better interpreter and teacher of the Old Testament.


On the Side of the Road

One van + three small children + hunger + rain - gasoline - cell phone = an opportunity to mature in Christ.

So, here's the story. The gas gauge on our van is broken, so we have to track our mileage in order to make sure that we don't run out of gas. (Usually, we try to refill at around 320 miles.) Unfortunately, on our way to pick up dinner our van decided to run out of gas at 290. As the van was sputtering to a stop the girls starting crying and saying, "What's happening? Why are we riding in the grass beside the road? Is our car going to blow up?" After we assured the girls that our lives were not in danger, they calmed down a bit.

To make the situation worse, I had accidentally left my cell phone at home. So, I had to pursue the only option available to us: walk to the nearest gas station. (Did I mentioned that it started raining shortly after we broke down on the side of the road? Plus, I was wearing flip-flops.). After a short walk down the street, crossing six lanes of traffic (Clemson Blvd.) and spending way too much for a gas can, I eventually made it back to the van.

While this certainly was not the way I had planned to spend my afternoon, these events gave Amy and I the opportunity to teach and pray with our girls. As Christians, we must continually remind ourselves (and others) that trials--no matter how large or small--give us an opportunity to mature in Christ as we learn to trust in Him for all things.


I Need Sleep, But He Does Not

I am tired and weary.

As I type these words I am having trouble keeping my concentration. You're probably thinking, "why don't you go to bed?" And that is good advice that I will heed in a minute or too. But I wanted to take a moment to praise my God, my Strength, My Keeper.

I'm at the end of my Summer session for seminary. Over the last week I've read, written, and studied both early in the morning and late at night. So, when I way that I am weary and tired, I mean both mentally and physically. Yet, as I read Psalm 121 tonight, I was reminded of God's greatest. When I am weary, I am reminded that He does not sleep or slumber. When my strength is gone, His strength is magnified. Where would I turn if I did not have the Lord? I lift my eyes to Him, and I find help.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.


Alora's Poison Ivy Song

In my previous post, Family Worship and Alora's Song, I wrote about the song that Alora Grace made up and sang to Ann-Marie. Yet, she also sang another song about poison ivy. I'm not quite sure why she was thinking about poison ivy, but I thought that it was cute. So, here's the poison ivy song:
Never go near poison ivy.
You have to scratch it in the night,
And that is not good.
If you cannot get if off
You can die.
God's little children don't want to die.

Family Worship and Alora's Song

During our family worship time each morning we take time to sing songs, read/act out Bible stories (using this awesome children's Bible), and learning from the First Catechism for children. Amy and I always hope and pray that God's Word will sink into our girls hearts. So, when we see the girls applying God's Word to the circumstances of life we are overjoyed. And that's exactly what happened yesterday.

For some reason our youngest daughter Ann-Marie Joy was crying in her room. When our oldest girl Alora Grace heard Ann-Marie, she decided to try and calm her down by singing a song. The great thing about the song is that Alora made it up and it is filled with truth about God. Since my wife has already posted the song on her blog, take time to check out Alora's song on Amy's blog.


Getting Personal

In theological terms we often speak of God being omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent...and all of these affirmations are true. God is the all-knowing, all-present and all-powerful God. Yet, how do these attributes of God intersect with our lives? How does knowing these truths about God actually change the way that you and I think, act and feel? I believe Psalm 139 helps us to see how these deep theological truths about our great God come crashing into our day to day living.

Take a moment to read the first six verses of this Psalm. As you read, take note of what the Psalmist says about God:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it. (ESV, emphasis mine)
Now, take time to read the verses again, this time focusing on the personal pronouns:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it. (ESV, emphasis mine)
This is personal theology at its best. God doesn't simply know all things...he knows all things about me. To some people the thought of such a personal theology is a little unnerving. They were probably okay with God knowing all things about that guy or that girl. But all this "me talk" seems to get a little too close for comfort because we realize that God knows about all the things that we try to hide--all the things that we try to keep out of the sight of others. In other words, we are laid bare before this All-Knowing God.

On this point James Boice writes:
For an unsaved person this powerful, pervasive knowledge seems intrusive and frightening, and with good reason. God is the end-time judge with whom we must reckon. Strikingly, the response of the psalmist is not fear. He is not trembling when he thinks of God's omniscience. On the contrary, he shelters himself in God's knowledge and marvels at it. For the psalmist, God's knowledge is not a threat; it is a refuge (Psalms, Volume 3, 1204).


The Pastor-Theologian and Ecclesial Theology

As a person who has a deep love for both the church and academic reflection, I was encouraged by this article. Here's a quote from the article:
There is a need to counter the sentiment that says, "Deep, penetrating commentaries and books on the atonement--that stuff is for the academy. Pastors should stick to writing pop theology and Christian living stuff." God forbid! Expounding God's Word and reflecting on the nature of the atonement, etc., needs to be brought back into the domain of the church. We need a return to the days when pastors wrote theology that was richly theological, deeply biblical, historically informed, culturally aware, prophetic, and intelligent--not so it would be accepted by the academy, but so it would renew the church.


Monergism.com Recommendation

Although I have a number of recommended websites linked in my sidebar, I wanted to point your attention to Monergism.com. They recently updated the site, and it is now even better. If you're looking for classic and contemporary Christian resources (articles, mp3's, study tools, FAQ, book reviews, etc.) on the web, then monergism is a great place to start.


Psalm 119 and Memorization

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. In my Bible, it spans over five pages. This Psalm praises God for His Word (i.e. His law, testimonies, ways, precepts, statutes, commandments, rules, paths, etc.). In this Psalm, one of the ways in which God calls us to respond to His word is by memorizing and meditating on it. For example:
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you (v.11)

I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways (v.15)

Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works (v.27)
Some Christians of the past (William Wilberforce, David Livingstone, etc.) chose to respond to verses like these by memorizing large portions of Scripture like Psalm 119...all 176 verses of it! Now, you may be thinking to yourself, "There's no way that I could memorize that many verses. I've hardly memorized any verses." And that's where the crux of the matter is for you and I. We must begin with simple obedience. The reason 176 verses seems so daunting is because we have hardly committed any verses to memory.

But if we are to be obedient to God and His Word, we must be people who "hide" the Word in our hearts. So, how should we go forward in this task? I'll give three suggestions:

First, begin by asking God to give you the desire and ability to memorize His Word. This is certainly one prayer that is line with His desires for us.

, start small and work your way up. No one begins by attempting to memorize 176 verses at the same time. They begin by putting one new verse to memory, and they build from there. So, start with one verse and work your way forward. Psalm 119:11 would be a great one to begin with, wouldn't it?.

, speak God's Word to others. One of the greatest ways to learn something is to teach it to others. The Psalmist recognized this also: "With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth" (v.13).

May God bless you in your endeavor.


Matthew West - The Motions

I heard this song on the radio and enjoyed the lyrics/sound. After watching this video and finding out the story behind the song, I like it even more. Embedding wasn't available for this video, so you'll have to check it out here. Enjoy.

Humility and Hope

The sermon that I preached on Sunday ("Humility and Hope" in the series A Traveler's Guide for Christian Pilgrims) is now available here (and it is also archived here). The sermon is on 1 Peter 5:5-7. I've provided an outline of my sermon below:

I. The Position of the Humble
1. Under the elders
2. Under others
3. Under the mighty hand of God

II. The Practices of the Humble
1. Listen to godly counsel
2. Serve and sacrifice for others
3. Cast their cares and anxieties on God

III. The Promises to the Humble
1. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble
2. God exalts the humble at the proper time
3. God cares for the humble


Praising Themselves, Obscuring His Glory

"God cannot bear with seeing his glory appropriated by the creature in even the smallest degree, so intolerable to him is the sacrilegious arrogance of those who, by praising themselves, obscure his glory as far as they can."
-John Calvin, as quoted in Humilty: True Greatness, 33.


Gnosticism and the Church

I'm becoming more and more convinced that Gnostic thought is a big problem within the church today. (Of course, Gnostic thought within the church isn't new. The New Testament writers and the early church often fought against this heresy). So, what is Gnosticism, and how is it influencing the church? Read more here.

Pliny's Test

In his book The Christians as the Romans Saw Them, Robert Louis Wilken writes about a test that Pliny used in order to determine whether or not people were Christians. For those who denied being Christians, how could Pliny know if they were telling the truth? In order to combat this problem, Pliny developed the following test:
He had statues of the emperor Trajan and of the Capitone gods--Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva--brought into the room. Those who had already admitted that they were Christians he sent off to be executed, as he had done with the first group. Those who denied the charge he asked to repeat after him a "formula of invocation to the gods" and "to make an offering of wine and incense" to Trajan's statue. He also ordered them to "revile the name of Christ" (25).
After reading this passage, 1 Corinthians 12:3 came to my mind: "Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit" (ESV). May the Spirit give each of us boldness as we stand against a world that wants us to revile our Savior. Let us stand firm in the faith and proclaim along with Peter and John: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20, ESV)


There it is again!

Over the last few weeks, Philippians 2:5-11 has frequently been on my mind.
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This passage has come up during my devotional time, in conversations with people, while preparing the youth for a service project, and most recently during sermon preparation. Throughout the Scriptures we are told to meditate on the Word of God. It seems that the Lord has wanted me to spend time meditating on this passage. And the more I read it and think through it, the more I stand in awe of my Savior: Fully God. Fully Man. Servant. Obedient. Crucified. Savior. Name above all names. Lord.

How do we respond to such a great Savior? We worship Him. We believe in Him. We adore Him. We bow to Him. We glorify Him. We imitate Him. "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus."



I've been busy over the last few days with Learn.Love.Laugh. (or L3 for short). This is a four-day event where our youth learn from God's Word, love those within our community, and laugh with one another as we enjoy life together. We've had a great time so far. The youth will all be arriving in a few hours, and I've got a lot of crazy games ready for them. Tomorrow, we'll be at Six Flags White Water in Atlanta. I'm excited!


Taking Care of Business

Tiffany used her phone to take this cute picture of Adalynne Faith. Did you know that Adalynne knew how to read upside-down? I know, she's pretty amazing!


Crawling Out of a Deep Hole

While on vacation I decided to leave behind all...well...most of my seminary work. While that decision allowed me to more fully enjoy time with my family, now I'm in the process crawling out of a deep hole that is filled with books, papers, and lectures. I'm just taking it one task at a time. Of course, getting all of this work finished would be easier if that is all I had to do, but I've got a family to love and a church to serve.My plan is to finish The Creative Word: Canon as a Model for Biblical Education within the next few hours. Then, I'll begin making my way through The Christians as the Romans Saw Them. That will still leave me with two others to finish (but certainly not today): Revelation and Reason: New Essay's in Reformed Apologetics and Education That is Christian. Hopefully I'll be poking my head out of the hole soon!


For the Kids and You

This book came in the mail yesterday, so I started reading it with Alora and Adalynne. They loved it! Definitely my top pick for a children's Bible. But don't be fooled...it's a great read for adults too. Buy it here.


A Prayer For Monday


I awoke this morning because of You. You put breath in my lungs and blood in my veins. You have given me the energy to awaken, to eat, to walk, to talk, and to live. You strengthened my faith yesterday as I confessed my sin, heard the gospel of grace, worshiped, and feasted at Your table. Your grace has abounded to me in Christ Jesus. Let every word I speak, every action I take, every thought I have bring honor and glory to you. Enable me to shine forth the light of your gospel. Amen.


Name Changes

As many of you know, for the last 2 1/2 years we (Redeemer Church) have been meeting for worship on Sunday's at a hotel on Clemson Blvd across from McDonald's. When we first began meeting for worship at the hotel it was called Ramada Inn. Later, it was renamed Knights Inn. Then, it became simply Inn. Currently, it is a Quality Inn. I wouldn't be surprised if I went to church tomorrow only to find it named something else.


Church Planting and Church Buildings

On a number of occasions, after telling people that I am a minister within a church, they have responded with this question: "Where is your church?" I've often wanted to respond by saying, "Our church is scattered throughout Anderson County." Of course, such a response would likely be met with a look of confusion because such an answer is theological in nature. The questioner wants to know about location--where our building is--not theology.

The first definition given for "church" at dictionary.com is "a building for public Christian worship." For many people, the first thing that comes to mind about a "church" is a building, not the body of believers. In some ways, church planting can help believers remember that the primary definition of the church is theological--the Church consists of Christians, not physical buildings or a location. For those involved in church planting (or Christian ministry as a whole), we cannot allow buildings to be our primary means of "advertisement" to our communities. Instead, the church--the people--must be primary. Let us live as a distinctive, gospel-driven community. Let our lives be our apologetic.


Beautiful Joy

It's hard for me to believe that Ann-Marie Joy is almost one. When parents say that children grow up so quickly, it is so true. That's why it is so important to cherish each day that we have with one another.

More Cakes

While we were in Virginia, Amy made two cakes for her moms. You can check them out here. I especially like the hot-tub cake.


Digital Friendships, Digital Community

To say that the internet has changed the way that we live would certainly be an understatement. In particular I was thinking about how the social functions of the internet--social networking, blogging, chat rooms, gaming, online-dating, etc--are changing the ways that people think about friendship and community. For some people, the internet simply serves as an "extention" to their pre-existing relationships; meaning, the internet allows them to keep up with family and friends that they have that are outside of the www. Although the internet is useful for them, it isn't the primary place where they experience friendship or community. Yet, for others, the world of the internet has become their community. They may actually put forth effort and time into these "digital friendships" than their flesh-and-blood relationships. Many of their "friends" are made up of people that they have never met face-to-face. So, what makes this type of "digital community" so attractive to people? Here two reasons that came to mind.

First, digital communities allow people to put their best foot forward. In these communities, it is much easier for people to hide the parts of their lives that they do not want others to see. Of course, this can happen in flesh-and-blood relationships, but it is far easier to do this on the internet because people are less likely to catch you when you have your guard down. For example, you can chose to post only the pictures that make you look beautiful, not the ones that make you look overweight or unattractive. If you're in a bad mood, you don't have to "log on" and chat with anyone.

Second, digital friendships are much easier to leave behind when they get messy. If someone irritates you in a chat room, you can say what you want and never return. If someone begins to annoy you on Facebook, you can delete them as your friend.

So, what's my point? I certainly do not object to participating in the various social functions available through the internet. My concern comes when these "digital communities" essentially replace flesh-and-blood relationships. In many ways, the internet can de-personalize our relationships; meaning, the internet doesn't allow others to recognize changes in our moods, see our facial expressions, hear the tone of our voices, or read our body language.We need friends that can know us--truly know us.


Reading Calvin

A few days ago marked the 500th birthday of John Calvin. Many scholars, pastors, and others took time to celebrate in Geneva. Well, I certainly didn't have the time (or resources) to make my way to Geneva. Instead, I decided to celebrate by reading through some of Calvin's sermons. Sadly, I believe that many people have the wrong idea about Calvin. Some think of Calvin as an unloving and dry theologian, yet Calvin's love for God and concern for God's people is evident throughout his writings. His theology is certainly deep, but it isn't divorced from an equally deep piety. Here's an excerpt from the sermon I read this morning on Deuteronomy 4:44-5:3:
For if God only demanded his due, we should still be required to cling to him and to confine ourselves to his commandments. Moreover, when it pleases him by his infinite goodness to enter into a common treaty, and when he mutually binds himself to us without having to do so, when he enumerates that treaty article by article, when he chooses to be our father and savior, when he receives us as his flock and his inheritance, let us abide under his protection, filled with his eternal love for us....When the living God humbles himself to that extent, I beg of you, should we not be more than ingrates if we did not humble ourselves before him and abstain from all pride and arrogance? (taken from John Calvin's Sermons on the Ten Commandments by Benjamin W. Farley, 45-46)


Listening to Theology

In the old days, when there was less education and discussion, perhaps it was possible to get on with a very few simple ideas about God. But it is not so now. Everyone reads, everyone hears things discussed. Consequently, if you do not listen to Theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones--bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas.
--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 3.1

"We now return to our regularly scheduled programming."

Vacation is over, so I'm now ready to reenter the world of blogging.


Low Tech, Part-Time

Since our family is enjoying some time away for vacation, my blogging will be reduced over the next week. I usually try to go "low tech," so that I can avoid the things that often distract me: internet, cell phone, etc.


Easily Amazed

This afternoon, as I was finishing a paper for seminary, Alora came and sat beside me on the couch. She wanted to know what I was doing, so I showed her the paper that I was writing. After seeing the paper she said, "What in the world...that's amazing!" If she thinks that a three-page paper is amazing, maybe I should show her one of my 25 page papers. I better be careful though...she might pass out from amazement.


Local vs. Chain

From time to time I like to highlight local businesses in Anderson. I do this in part simply because I enjoy the food or services that they offer, but I also do this in order to encourage others to support local owners and employees. Since my office is in the downtown area of Anderson, I have a lot of opportunities to visit many of the local downtown offerings.

When given the opportunity to choose between local and chain, I most often choose to go local. For example, although I do enjoy Dunkin' Donunts, I prefer the freshly roasted coffee, atmosphere, and service of eCity Java. (Props to my friend Daniel and the others that work there!)

When comparing local vs. chain stores, we often assume that the chain stores drain the life out of local businesses--and this assumption is undoubtably true from time to time. Yet, in his article "In defense of Starbucks," Jonathan Weber suggests that the presence of national chain businesses such as Starbucks, may actually be a good thing. Weber writes:
When a Starbucks opened across the street from our offices in downtown Missoula, Mont., a few years ago, a lot of people in this liberal college town were not too pleased. The national behemoth would squeeze the local coffee shops, critics said, and contribute to the homogenization of Missoula....

....As the founder and publisher of NewWest.Net, whose largest competitor is a multibillion-dollar national newspaper chain, I've always been more than sympathetic to this argument. As a company, and as individuals, we're all about supporting locally owned businesses and the eclectic downtown commercial culture that goes with them.

But earlier this month we learned the Starbucks would be closing; it couldn't compete with the excellent alternatives. And I don't see that as a good thing.

Continue reading the article here.


Super Size Me

Amy and I recently watched the film Super Size Me. In this documentary Morgan Spurlock attempts to show the connection that exists between obesity and fast-food by going on a "McDonald's-only diet" for 30 days. On this diet, Spurlock had to eat three meals a day that consisted only of food and drink available from McDonald's. When he begans his test diet, Spurlock was in great shape. Yet, by the end of the 30 days, his health had deteriated tremendously.

Granted, Spurlock does take fast-food eating to the extreme. But it often takes something drastic in order for us to pay attention to what is being said. Is our nation unhealthy? Yes. Could we do better at encouraging one another to eat healthier and exercise? Yes. Does this mean that we should limit our intake of processed and fast-food? Yes. Will it be difficult for us to make these changes? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.

After watching the film, I don't believe that the solution is found in totally rejecting processed and fast food. Intead, we must learn to eat these foods in moderation. As a father of three beautiful girls, I want to do everything I can to help them become healthy, active young women. And part of that process certainly involves teaching them how to make wise food choices.

If you're interested the movie, you can watch the entire movie for free here.


Papa's Open-Heart Surgery

My Grandpa went in for a valve replacement this morning at 7:00am. When asked how he felt about the surgery my grandfather said: "If I come out of surgery, I'll be good. If I don't come out of surgery, I'll be good." In his own way, my Grandpa was reminding us that his hope (and ours) is in the Lord. The first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism puts it this way:
Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?
Answer 1. That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)
They began the open-heart surgery at 8:30am and finished at 11:30am. According to the doctor, everything went great. Praise the Lord! Please continue to pray for him as he recovers.


Who Needs Wisdom?

So, who needs wisdom? According to Proverbs 1:4-5, wisdom is needed by everyone--not only those who are simple/young but also those who have already obtained some amount of wisdom:
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance (ESV)
Lest we fool ourselves into believing that we are already wise enough, the Scriptures warn us against trusting in our own "wisdom", which isn't truly wisdom at all:
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and shrewd in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:21, ESV)
This means that we must forsake our pride and self-sufficiency. We must not seek to be wise by our own standards or the standards of the world; instead, we must look to God's wisdom. We are only wise to the extent that we have aligned ourselves to God and His wisdom:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever! (Psalm 111:10, ESV)



In their latest book, ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church, Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch begin by noting that "the name of Jesus has been invoked as central to movements that do not seem to be in accord with the Jesus we find in the pages of the Gospels" (4). The solution, according to Frost and Hirsch, is for the Church to be "reJesused." Meaning, the Church must continually refocus and remember that Jesus is central to who we are and what we do.

While reading ReJesus there were times when I found some of Frost and Hirch's claims to be pejorative and unhelpful. For instance, they write off the Nicene Creed as "flowery" and claim that "Paul has nothing to do with this airy doctrinal language." Granted, the language is different from Paul's, but it isn't opposed to it. Creeds certainly have an important role to play in helping the Church think and believe rightly about Christ, salvation, etc.

Yet, disagreements aside, Frost and Hirsch do helpfully remind us that we must continually be "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). For each of us that follow Christ as our Lord and Savior, it is not unnecessary for us to be reminded that Jesus Christ is central to everything we say, do, and think. According to Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are "ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us." As His ambassadors, it is vital that we adequately represent our Savior as He truly is. And one of the best ways that we can do this is by meeting Him again and again as He is given to us in the Scriptures. In other words, we need to be ReJesused.

"Are you really married?"

Yesterday, Amy and I took the youth group to a water park in Simpsonville. While I was waiting in line for a ride, a younger boy started a conversation with me. He asked me where I lived, if I had riden the ride before, and other general questions. While we were talking, Amy was on the ride, so I yelled out, "Good job, baby!" The boy then asked, "Is that your girlfriend?" After I told him that Amy was my wife, a puzzled look came over his face. Then, he asked, "Are you really married?" It took a while, but I finally convinced him that Amy was my wife (of 6 years) and that I had three children. If the youth hadn't backed up my story, I'm not sure that the boy would have believed me.

Goodbye Tonsils and Adenoids

Adalynne just finished having her tonsils and adenoids removed. The surgery went great...she's already back at home, resting in her bed. The doctor said that it will be about two weeks before she can resume full activity. The good news for her is that she gets to eat pudding, jello, ice cream, and other yummy food for the next few days. (I'm sure that she won't complain about that!) Thanks to everyone who has taken time to pray for her.

Also, please remember my grandfather in prayer because he'll be having open-heart surgery on Thursday.


My Dad and Girls

My Dad celebrated his 50th birthday today. This picture (of my Dad and girls) is from our small, family get-together. You can see more pictures (as well as the cake Amy made) here.


To Sleep or Not to Sleep?

There have been a number of times when I've been confronted with the same dilemma: After staying up way to late, should I sleep or stay-up? Of course, in ordinary circumstances I would always choose sleeping over not sleeping. But this is a different type of situation. I'm referring to those times when you recognize that if you go to sleep, you'll only be able to sleep for an hour or two. Usually, I choose to sleep, but then I wake-up feeling like a pile of trash. On the other hand, if I stay up, I'll feel like a pile a trash later on in the day. So, no matter which one I choose, the conclusion will be the same:

me = feeling like a pile of trash


Amy's Edible Art

Just in case you missed the link in my sidebar, I wanted to point out that my wife is blogging again. The web address is the same (www.amymashley.blogspot.com) but the name and theme have changed a bit: Amy's Edible Art - A beautiful collision of art, cake, family, and friends. Currently, she's posted pictures of two of her cakes, but there will be more to follow.



You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.
-From St. Augustine's Confessions, 1.1


Under Care

About a month ago, my friend Brett was accepted as a candidate for gospel ministry. This is a picture of Brett, his wife, his daughter (she's in the womb!), and me.

Friends and Cake

It's been a long time since I've posted any pictures of my family. The reason for this is because the pictures on our SD camera card were accidentally erased! Anyway, our friend Donna emailed us a few pictures from Daniel's birthday party.

Alora and her friend Jackson

Adalynne enjoying cake


Understanding and Honor

If you would like to listen the last sermon that I preached on 1 Peter 3:7, it is available here.


Discipline vs. Abuse

If we listen to the politically-correct rhetoric of our society for long enough, we may actually begin to believe that spanking is an inappropriate form of discipline. Some people would have us believe that spanking is a form of abuse and it teaches children to be violent. Yet, godly discipline--which includes spanking--is loving, not abusive. In the article, Spanking Stories, Doug Wilson makes this point abundantly clear:
People who do not know how to look beyond surface appearances will say that when you spank a child you are teaching them violence. They say spanking a child is hitting a child, and they are impatient with those who seek to make fundamental distinctions. Lovemaking is not rape, even though the same biological act is involved in both. Executing Ted Bundy is not imitating Ted Bundy, even though someone loses his life in both instances. The difference between child abuse and child discipline is as vast as the difference between unrighteousness and rightousness.
Continue reading Spanking Stories.


Six Years

This past Sunday (May 24th), Amy and I celebrated our 6th anniversary! It is hard to believe that we have been married for that long. It seems like it was just yesterday when I first saw Amy's beautiful face on the campus of North Greenville College (now, University). I am so thankful that I asked her to smell my hemp key chain. (For those of you who are confused by the last sentence, if you'd like to know the whole story, I'd be glad to tell it over a cup of coffee sometime.)

Away with the Carpet

When our family moved into our home last April, we knew that the carpets would eventually have to be replaced. Thankfully, we were able do do away with the 10-year old carpets this weekend! (With three young girls, it didn't take long for the drink spills, dirt stains, pee-pee accidents, etc. to signal the demise of our carpets.) We replaced carpets with bamboo hardwood floors. (Do we get environmental brownie points?) Of course, we certainly didn't have the financial resources to replace the carpets, but the kind generosity of Amy's family made it possible. Chris, Theresa, and Keagan came to SC this weekend and helped us rip up carpet and install the new floors. If you ask me, I don't think the pros would have done a better job. Needless to say, our weekend was very busy and it will take a while longer before our house is back in order.

(I'll post pictures when our camera decides to cooperate.


No Need for Proof

Our children know that Amy and I are their mom and dad. We have been with them (almost) every day of their lives. Therefore, it would be quite strange if one of them said something like, "Could you give me some proof that you're really my dad?" This would be strange because they have every reason to believe that I am their father. For example, I live with them, I play with them, I look like them, etc.

In his book, Apologetics to the Glory of God, John Frame makes a similar point regarding those who grow up in a Christian home. He writes:
...many people grow up with God and receive him gladly. They hear about God in church, in Sunday School, around the family dinner table, and in Christian school. They see their parents making decisions based on the Word of God. They learn Scripture verses and catechism from memory. God is literally the head of their home. They could no easier doubt God's existence than they could doubt the existence of their own father or mother...God's norm for us is that we live and raise our children in such a way that proof will be unnecessary (65-66).
So, for those of us who are Christian parents, let us ask ourselves these questions: Are we raising our children so that they know that God's existence is as certain as our existence as their father or mother? Are we raising children in a way that proof will be unnecessary?


Temptation and the Providence of God

Have you every wondered why God allows us to be tempted? According to the Scripture , God has good purposes for allowing His children to struggle with temptation and sin. Let's look at five purposes that God has in allowing us to face temptation.

1. God allows us to face temptation and sin so that He can demonstrate His fatherly love for us, His children.

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. (Hebrews 12:5-7, ESV)
2. God allows us to see the lingering corruption and deceitfulness of sin in our hearts so that we will be humbled before Him.

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:22-25, ESV)
3. God allows temptation and sin to teach us to depend on Him and the provisions that He has made for us through Christ.

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, ESV)
4. God allows temptation and sin to make us more watchful and aware of future occasions of sin. In other words, God helps us to grow in His grace (i.e. sanctification), so that we are better prepared to walk in holiness.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4, ESV)
5. God uses temptation and sin to accomplish purposes that He has not revealed to us.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.(Deuteronomy 29:29, ESV)