• Monday, March 31, 2008
  • Should We Really Call It a "Quiet" Time? By David Powlison from the website (Between Two Worlds)

    Many years ago I worked through the psalms looking for the vocal cues. By my count, more than 95% of the psalms portray or invite audible words directed to God. You "hear" what is written, because so much of it is out loud: crying out, the sound of my voice, songs, shouts, the tongue and lips, asking God to listen, groaning, roaring, seeking, calling on, making requests, and so forth. In the mere handful of psalms with no vertical verbalization, the psalm speaks about people in relation to God (e.g., Ps. 1), or speaks from God (e.g., Ps. 110), or speaks to other people (e.g., Ps. 49). An audible response is then the most natural thing in the world.

    In the verbal actions of the psalms—rejoicing, asking for help, and expressing thanks (cf. 1 Thess. 5:16-18)—we talk to someone else, in this case, God himself. It's fair to say that having a "quiet time" is a misnomer. We should more properly have a "noisy time." By talking out loud we live the reality that we are talking with another person, not simply talking to ourselves inside our own heads. Of course "silent prayers" are not wrong—1 Samuel 1:13, Nehemiah 2:4, and, likely, Genesis 24:45—but they are the exception. And even in such silent prayers, the essentially verbal nature of prayer is still operative, though the speaking is "subvocal." Words could be spoken out loud if the situation warranted or the state of mind allowed.

    In Jesus' teaching and example, a praying individual seeks privacy so he or she can talk out loud with God. "Go to your room and shut the door" (Matt. 6:6). That's so other people won't hear you, so you can talk straight, rather than being tempted to perform. Jesus "went up on the mountain by himself to pray" (Matt. 14:23). He "would withdraw to desolate places and pray" (Lk. 5:16). He's talking out loud. And when Jesus walked off into the olive grove that Thursday night in order to pray, his disciples could overhear his fervent, pointed words (Matt. 26:36-44).

    We can do the same sort of thing: close the door, take a walk, get in the car—and speak up. Of course, in group contexts throughout the Bible, in public gatherings, God's people naturally pray and sing aloud, just as they hear the Bible aloud. We naturally do the same in corporate worship, whether in liturgy, in led prayers, or in small-group prayer. And even moments of silent confession and intercession, though subvocal, remain essentially verbal in character and content.

    So the standard practice for both public and private prayer is to speak so as to be heard by the Person with whom you are talking. Prayer is verbal because it is relational.

    I've known many people whose relationship with God was significantly transformed as they started to speak up with their Father. Previously, "prayer" fizzled out in the internal buzz of self-talk and distractions, worries and responsibilities. Previously, what they thought of as prayer involved certain religious feelings, or a set of seemingly spiritual thoughts, or a vague sense of comfort, awe, and dependency on a higher power. Prayer meandered, and was virtually indistinguishable from thoughts, sometimes indistinguishable from anxieties and obsessions. But as they began to talk aloud to the God who is there, who is not silent, who listens, and who acts, they began to deal with him person-to-person. It's no gimmick or technique (and there are other ingredients, too, in creating wise, intelligent, purposeful, fervent prayer). But out loud prayer became living evidence of an increasingly honest and significant relationship. As they became vocal, their faith was either born or grew up.

    What about teachings on "centering prayer" or "the prayer of silence" or "contemplative prayer" or "listening prayer," or the notion that God is most truly known in experiences of inner silence? Or what about the repetition of mantras, even using Bible words, attempting to bypass consciousness, seeking to induce a trance state or mystical experience? The Bible never teaches or models prayer either as inner silence or as mantra. That's important to notice: "The Bible NEVER teaches or models these ideas or practices." On the surface, such teachings align with Buddhist and Hindu conceptions and practices, and are designed to evoke oceanic experience. The god of silence has no name, no personality, no authority, no stated will, makes no promises, and does not act on the stage of history. Such private spirituality can produce inner ecstasies and inner peacefulness (I experienced that first hand in the years before coming to faith). But it does not create interpersonal relationships—with God, with others—of love, loyalty, need, mercy, honesty, tears, just anger, forgiveness, purpose, and trust. It is a super-spirituality, beyond words. Jesus and Scripture speak and act in sharp contrast. The Word in person and in print expresses a humanness that walks on the ground and talks out loud. Jesus gives a richer joy and a richer peace than the unnamed gods of inner silence, inner ecstasy, and inner tranquility.

    Of course, God tells us to be quiet and be still. But it's not that I learn techniques to access an inner realm of silence where I transcend my sense of self and experience a god-beyond-words. The true God quiets us so we notice him. This God is profoundly and essentially verbal, not silent: "God said . . . and it was so. . . . In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." So we listen to him. We take the time to hear his words of grace and truth. We consider Jesus. And we pay attention to what's going on in our lives, seeing the world and ourselves in truer colors. Then we can pray more intelligently and more candidly. And we can think straight and feel honestly and choose well. There is great benefit in turning off the noise machines, the chatter, the music, the crowd noise, the busy, busy, busy, talk, talk, talk—whether it's playing inside your head, or all around you, or both. When this is what "centering prayer" actually accomplishes for a given person, then he or she is moving along Christian paths, not down the paths of wordless silence. But turning off the distractions is not actually prayer to the living God. It's not how to know Jesus deeply, or how to relate to our Father, or how to "experience" the Spirit. Do be quiet, and for the right reasons: so you can notice and listen, so you can learn to talk. This living God is highly verbal and listens attentively. He made us in his image, but as dependents. We learn to listen to audible Scripture, and so learn to speak audible prayers.

    He wants to catch your ear in order to awaken your voice. When you have your "quiet" time, or as you walk outdoors, or during your commute, may the decibel level rise to joyful noise and cries of need—and may God listen to the sound of your voice!

    Chapter 6 – Forgiveness, Full and Free. How to Unite What Sin has Separated

  • Sunday, March 30, 2008

  • Cancelling an enormous debt makes an enormous statement. As we move from mercy to forgiveness, we see they are intertwined yet distinctive. Mercy can be extended to anyone without even their knowledge but forgiveness involves a transaction.

    Matthew 18:23-35 is a compelling parable that ought to send chills down your spine. In verse 35, Jesus steps out of the parable and makes this pronouncement: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from the heart.” Note that it is not just saying “I forgive you” but it involves so much more.

    As a pastor I shout a big “AMEN” to Pastor Harvey that the subject of forgiveness is the most misunderstood and misapplied means of grace in marriage. Read this chapter to change this in your marriage.
    Check Dave Harvey talking about the chapter at

    1. What have you learned about forgiveness from the chapter that you did not know before?

    2. Have you ever done something to someone else and not been forgiven for it? How does it affect your relationship with that person?

    3. Considering the story of Jeremy and Cindy, though you may or may not have experienced the reality of adultery in your marriage, are there things they said or did that you do identify as similar points in your own marriage?

    4. What are some of the 100 denari (small things) that you do against your spouse? Do you rationalize them? Do any of the following statements sound familiar in your vocabulary?
    -Don’t be so sensitive
    -You do it too
    -I did not mean it
    -This is just a bug misunderstanding
    -Sorry, but I am having a bad day
    -(your own favorite line)
    When you use comments like this, why do they not make as much sense to your spouse as they do to you?

    5. List 3 specific sins you know that God has forgiven you from through the atonement of your sins by Jesus Christ? “On the cross, Jesus brought forgiveness from God to me for …”


  • Saturday, March 22, 2008

  • The first time I read this chapter, I felt like my breath was taken away and though I may not often show emotion, I confess tears did come. Luke 6:27-36 jumped off the page and sent me into a tailspin. Mercy- “God’s mercy means His kindness, patience, and forgiveness toward us. In His compassionate willingness to suffer for and with sinners for their ultimate good.”

    My book dropped from my hands unto the table when on page 81 it states, “Have you thought that passing along God’s mercy may be one of the reasons you’re married?” My response was “no!” Being unmerciful to Deb keeps me in a position of one-up on her. It helps me to be the “head” of the household and feeds my self-centeredness and pride. Luke 6 ruined my life.

    Please do not read this chapter fast. Read it again if you have to for we have come to the understanding of the impact of my sin and my wife’s sin in the marriage – but mercy is the beginning of the solution and will make the rest of the book make sense.

    Dave Harvey states, “Mercy is never strained because it is able to cover all it touches. It sweetens all it touches because it comes from heaven – from the very throne of the merciful Savior. Mercy is a blessing to those who receive and those who give.”

    1. What have you learned about mercy from this chapter?

    2. Is there a time when you experienced mercy from someone? What effect did it have on you?

    3. Read Luke 6:27-36 again and then determine if there is a situation that you have faced or are facing that you are finding mercy difficult to give.

    4. What are some ways that you can be expressing kindness in your marriage and home where you have not done so?

    5. What questions on pages 91-92 did you find most helpful to ask yourself when you feel wronged?

    6. Though Gordon and Emma’s story seems a bit extraordinary – there are similar types of stories at Faith Bible Church. What does their story say to you about your marriage?

    There is not a video that goes with this chapter but you can download Dave Harvey preaching on the topic of mercy for no cost at:

    Also "When Sinners Say I Do" is available in audio book with Dave Harvey narrating.
    You can get if from
    Or from other major book purchasing companies such as Amazon.


  • Friday, March 21, 2008

  • I am an early morning devotion guy. I do not understand those who do them late at night for first of all, I am too tired and I am often still buzzing from the day and have too many distractions. I like the morning because nothing has happened yet and so it has been an easy day so far.

    As much as I do love my devotional time, it is not easy getting to it. I am in desperate need of time in the Word, prayer, meditation, and reminding myself of the incredible gifts of grace through the gospel. I need God and sometimes “finding” Him is not so easy early.

    I was encouraged to read I am not alone by someone who has impacted my passion for God through his writings and messages – C J Mahaney. In a recent interview he stated this about going to the cross early in the morning:

    "Well, what brings me here so early in the morning is my need for the Savior, an awareness of my need for the Savior, and some eagerness that I will, through my meditation on Scripture, freshly encounter the Savior. So that is what brings me here.Although I need to add that I am never brought here apart from a conflict in my soul. Indwelling sin is a particular and formidable opponent against all practices that involve the spiritual disciplines. So this does not take place effortlessly. I’m now 54 years old, so even after 35 years, I can assure you that tomorrow morning when I first awaken, the first voice I hear will be a voice of protest. That voice will be distinctly the presence of indwelling sin appealing to me and seeking to persuade me to stay in bed. That voice never subsides. And that voice also negotiates, so that if I make an initial movement, that voice doesn’t subside and assume that that voice has lost. No. That voice continues to exert effort, and then presents to me various distractions."

    Jeff Purswell who serves with CJ as Sovereign Grace Ministries added:

    "It encouraged me one time to hear Dr. Piper say, “I feel like I have to get saved every morning. I wake up and the devil is sitting on my face.” I can relate to that.So now I am no longer surprised. I can be discouraged at times, but the coldness that I feel just reminds me how badly I need God. Because apart from him I can do nothing. And apart from getting food for my soul this morning, I will be starving.…"

    "I am seeking to encounter God, to draw near to him and to experience a sense of his presence—again, not an emotional encounter—but a sense of his presence. To have my heart set upon him. To have my faith in his promises stirred, and now facing this day standing on his promises, standing on the truth of his Word."

    Daily devotions can easily become rote or just a routine activity. They do not have to. For me, it is just a matter of getting to them and as an old West saying goes, “Where you at…be all there.”

    Chapter 4 – Taking it out for a Spin. A Test Drive for your Doctrine

  • Saturday, March 15, 2008

  • The drive that Dave Harvey is referring to is going down the road of wisdom or making decisions as one rightly related to God. Wisdom in marriage is not to be found in “how to” books but by putting our beliefs in gear.

    1. At the top of this webpage is “2 Ways to Live.” Take a few minutes to click on the icon and go through the presentation of the gospel and then consider why it is important that we not take any claims of our own righteousness in our relationship with Christ.

    2. Why is being “self-suspicious” such a good thing?

    3. Have you ever tried to “fix” your spouse? How did that go?

    4. What are some things that you do that tend to raise the “oil temperature” in your spouse’s life?

    5. Much is made these days about “unmet needs” which leads to unbiblical conclusions. How much of your life do you think of in terms of needs? How does the Bible address this issue of needs?

    6. How would you respond to someone who would tell you they are having irreconcilable differences with their spouse based upon reading these first 75 pages?


  • Friday, March 14, 2008

  • Al Mohler’s commentary today (Dr. Mohler is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is titled “The Tempter in the Child’s Bedroom—Television.” Now I realize that this is not going to make friends among some of you but I must admit astonishment and perplexity as to why any parent would do this. But I know some of you do so I post this hoping maybe some of you would follow the advice of the famous TV psychiatrist, Bob Newhart and “STOP IT!”

    A summary of his report is this:

    The New York Times published this past week a report claiming that the mere presence of a television set in a child’s bedroom is a direct threat to the child’s health. Documented is, “Children with bedroom TVs score lower on school tests and are more likely to have sleep problems. Having a television in the bedroom is strongly associated with being overweight and a higher risk for smoking.”

    The staggering number to me is that according to one study, 70% of third-graders had a television set in the room. SAY WHAT? These are 8 year old kids!

    The reporter for the Times concludes, “So while many parents try to limit how much television and what type of shows their children watch, that may be less than half the battle. Where a child watches is important too.”

    Cornelius Plantinga, President of Calvin Theological Seminary has said, “But there is also real evil in it, and the trouble is that a lot of the evil is aimed at young people and children. The trouble is that when you're ten you can't always tell the difference between what's good and what's evil--and especially not if evil is made to look very, very attractive.

    Do you know that even conservative Christian parents buy TV sets for the bedrooms of their ten-year-olds and then let them watch pretty much whatever they want? They buy a TV set for their fifth grader, hook it up to the cable system, hand their child a remote, and let their child close the door.

    And now, day by day, night by night, their child's soul is in the hands of the Philistines… Every sick joke about God; every celebration of lust or revenge; every cynical assumption about the motives of good people--all this pours into the soul of a ten-year-old just as if her parents had hooked her up to an IV serviced by a profiteer.”

    Now I know that Dr. Mohler is not suggesting that television is the direct cause of bad grades, sleep problems, and being overweight but there is a causative factor that it is associated with behaviors that do lead to this. The tempter is in the bedroom of children who have television located there.

    To read the entire article, go to


  • Wednesday, March 12, 2008
  • In a recent article from the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation newsletter, Faculty Member Winston Smith was interviewed by Michele Howe of New Growth Press about practical ways that parents can equip their family to think accurately in response to media's powerful messages. Here are some insights from the article:

    On helping your child discern media and the lack of negative consequences:

    “ The foundation for helping our youngsters develop their media antenna is to hone their understanding of the human heart. The Bible says we're all self-deceived. As people live out their belief systems in front of others, our kids need to understand that they're being exposed to someone's worldview, which is frequently inaccurate or skewed when lined up against the Bible. Parents should try not to be reactionary. Rather, they should seek to gently challenge their kids to see what God's Word has to say about such messages”

    On teaching your child about sexual purity:

    “The world presents sex as the hidden animal side of people and as a secret sin. The Bible teaches just the opposite. Sex between a married man and woman is specially designed to communicate love between them. But when sex is used outside God's parameters, we communicate something hurtful. Parents have the responsibility to give their kids a positive vision of sexuality"

    Helping our children understand the culture:

    “We want our kids to know that the culture is always telling them something. As salt and light, we must first hear what the particular message is and then respond. We do not want to be separatists; that is not how Jesus intended us to live. As Christians, we hear, digest, and consider; then we can send back a message that is positive and redemptive."

    On the pop culture of music and Hollywood:

    “Listen to what the lyrics in the music are saying. Ask them to tell what they observe in a person's style of clothing. I'm trying to challenge them to be keen observers of the message conveyed by the choices people make. As they answer, we talk about it. Song lyrics and people's dress can often fly under the radar and convey subtle, yet powerful messages if we don't train our kids to see it. On the topic of body piercings and tattoos, parents must ask their kids what having these adornments means to them. Why do they want it? Remember, an object's value is always tied to the heart motive."

    On rules and discerning wisdom in the home:

    “Parenting is a path of individual wisdom; there isn't necessarily a black and white set of rules. Parents need know their own kids and assess where each child is strong and weak. Moms and dads must ask themselves what their parenting goals are. As a father, my goal is to grow my kids into God-honoring persons of faith. I realize that as they move into adulthood, they cannot simply be rule followers any longer. Rather, they need to be wise decision makers. Parents have to understand their own transition from the rule enforcer to the wise counselor as their children get older. Our roles shift. Of course, how quickly this occurs depends on what each child can handle.”

    To read the complete article follow this link to “Make It Real: Media and the Home Front

    Chapter 3: THE FOG OF WAR AND THE LAW OF SIN. Preparing for the inevitable

  • Sunday, March 9, 2008

  • I have two books downloaded on my home computer. One is “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu written in the 6th century B.C. and the other is the United States Marine Corps manual “Warfighting.” War is very complex and I have found strong parallels with these books and our experiences in the battlefield of relationships and against sin.

    Dave Harvey points out that the cause of marriage battles is not our spouse, but the sin in our own heart. In other words, as the famous cartoon character Pogo once declared, “We have found the enemy and it is us.”

    Just like the cardinal rule of war is that whatever strategy you enter a battle with, it will always have to be adjusted, so sin is crafty, alluring, and always betrays us. But by the cross of Christ, the battle has already been won.

    Marriage is to meet on the battlefield where the war is won. There are no lost causes or hopeless conflicts. Every conflict has redemptive possibilities through the grace and power of our Sovereign God.

    1. Sin is a battle we face within us. John Owen wrote, “Be killing sin or it will kill you.” Describe what the battle of sin within you is like.

    2. Starting at the bottom of page 49, examples are given of how the battle within us can impact our marriage. Describe some similar experiences in your marriage.

    3. Read James 4:1-3 about the cause of conflict. Think of a recent conflict you have had and how does it describe the truth of James 4?

    4. The “law of sin” is a battle we all face. Even the Apostle Paul wrestled with it. Where might it be governing your life right now?

    5. Why is sin so difficult to see at work when we are in conflict?

    6. Are you convinced that you are the worst of sinners? How does Romans 8:1-4 address this?

    Chapter 2: WAKING UP WITH THE WORST OF SINNERS – the News About Who We Really Are

  • Saturday, March 1, 2008

  • Dave Harvey lives in my world. I have been teaching and trying to help marriages and parenting the past 8 years and have been really been teaching myself. Almost every lesson on marriage has been an experience of taking the log out of my own eye before I present the material.

    It is comforting Dave Harvey is there and very comforting the Apostle Paul as well, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of WHOM I AM THE WORST.” (1 Timothy 1:15) But of greater comfort is the next verse, “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:16)

    So my sin is painfully ugly but I have been joyfully redeemed by grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. My ongoing need of the cross of Christ is because of my ongoing sin against God and as I realize more and more the mercy of God, I see God, myself, and my marriage much more clearly.

    1. Think back to a recent conflict you had with your spouse where you displayed a sinful response. What were you thinking or feeling that led to such a response?

    2. How do you often look at yourself as a sinner?
    *I’m doing the best I can everyday
    *I have good days and I have bad days
    *I am not as bad as some others
    *I am innocent until proven guilty
    *I am the worst of sinners

    3. How does your answer to number 2 affect your approach to God and to your marriage?

    4. John Owen describes humility on page 44. Is this your understanding of it? How would you define humility?

    5. What do your suppose would be some of the differences that can happen in your marriage if for the next 6 weeks you would make it your goal to live with your spouse as if you were the worst of sinners?

    Check out Dave Harvey’s video introduction to chapters 2 through 4 at this link: