Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Questions for the New Year

Today is the last day of 2008 so the question is: What do you have planned for 2009? Will you make resolutions for the year or will you make commitments for eternity? In our church bulletin this past Sunday there was a section titled Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year by Donald Whitney. As I read the list I realized these are great questions for the New Year but more importantly for my Christian walk. So I challenge you to read and remember these ten questions:

What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from the last year?

What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten year? In eternity?

Happy New Year

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Pear Tree

"There was a pear tree near our vineyard, laden with fruit, tempting neither for color nor taste. To shake and robe this, some lewd young fellows of us went late one night, having according to our mischievous custom prolonged our sports in the streets until then, and took huge loads, not for our eating, but to fling to the very hogs, having only tasted them. And this we like to do only because it was disliked by others."

Have you seen your heart this way? The natural man needs no reason to sin but sin. "Self-glorification" is the theme of his life. Augustine goes on to say, "Now behold, let my heart tell You what it sought there: that I should be gratuitously evil, not being tempted with anything but evil itself." What a great confession. We have no one to blame or nothing to blame but our own foul, wicked heart. But hear the good news, if you see yourself in this state praise God for His Spirit's work in your heart. Only the work of the Spirit can reveal such truth. Seeing the true state of your natural heart is the ultimate pride crushing blow but in humility we give our lives to Christ and His atoning work on the cross.
(Quotations from The Confessions of Saint Augustine)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, December 29, 2008

In but not of

"But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth."
John 17:13-19

"The believer, though in the world, is not of it: by faith he triumphs over its smiles and enticements; he sees that all that is in the world, suited to gratify the desires of the flesh or the eye, is not only to be avoided as sinful, but as incompatible with his best pleasures."
-John Newton as quoted by J. Todd Murray (Beyond Amazing Grace)

The best pleasures are what ultimately satisfy the soul. What the world has to offer will always fail the deepest longings of our heart. Why? Because they were never meant to satisfy our deepest longings. The point of this world is to bring glory to God by living a life clothed in the righteousness of Christ. He makes it plain in Psalm 16:11, "You (God) make known to me the path of life, in Your presents is fullness of joy, at Your right hand pleasures forevermore." Only God can fulfill our deepest desires. Only God can give us the "fullness of joy."

My challange: Examine yourself to see if you are of the world or in it for the service of the King. If you are of the world repent and trust in the blood of Jesus Christ. The world is just offering temporary pleasures but God promises the best pleasures that are eternal.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Greatest Story Ever Told


"Alright check it: let’s go back in time, brethren
Divine lessons always keep your mind guessing
The glory of the Triune God’s what I’m stressing
The origin of humankind was fine- blessings
Were plenteous- God is amazingly generous
Crazy benefits in a state of innocence
God told the man what he could taste was limited
Not long after came our nemesis in Genesis
He scammed well, man fell, damned to hell
The whole human race- he represented it
Fooled by the serpent, man through his work
Woman through birth- even the earth ruled by the curses
But instead of a wake immediately
God said her Seed would be the One to crush the head of the snake
Yo, wait what’s this? Whoa, a gracious gift!
In Jehovah’s faithfulness He clothed their nakedness
This was so they would know their Savior’s kiss
And bliss- but first, many growing pains exist
Suffering in the worst form, ugly deeds
Eve’s firstborn seed made his brother bleed
Indeed things got progressively worse
Every section of the earth's been affected by the curse
And though God’s judgments against sin were gory
Praise the Lord! It’s not the end of the story

Next scene: man’s sin was extreme
God gets steamed, man gets creamed
The Lord is so Holy that He drowned them in the water
Fire in the valley of slaughter- Sodom and Gomorrah
But at the same time, He’s so gracious and patient
That from one man He created a whole nation
Eventually enslaved by the mentally depraved
They cried out to the only One with the strength that He could save
He brought them out with signs and wonders- satisfied their hunger
Then He appeared on Mount Sinai in thunder
Where He laid down the law for God-ruled government
Commonly referred to as the Mosaic covenant
Sin’s imputed- so for man to know he’s unrighteous
God instituted animal sacrifices
This was to show our constant need for atonement
And when it came to sin, the Lord would never condone it
And when His people disobeyed and went astray
He raised up prophets and kings to lead them in the way
But they would get foul with their idolatry- wet and wild
Prophecy- send them into exile
To take their punishment like a grown man
Then with His own hand He placed them back in their homeland
And while in their forefather’s land they dwelt
They awaited the arrival of Emmanuel

After 400 silent years filled with sighs and tears
In Bethlehem the Messiah appears
God in the flesh- Second Person of the Trinity
At thirty begins His earthly ministry
Baffling cats with accurate, exact facts
And back to back miraculous acts
A stumbling block to the self righteous
But the humbled- His flock, said “There’s no one else like this”
He came from heaven to awake the numb
Demonstrated His power over nature, son
A foretaste of the Kingdom and the age to come
But the reason He came was to pay the sum
For the depths of our wickedness, our wretched sinfulness
Bless His magnificence- He’s perfect and innocent
Yet He was wrecked and His death- He predicted it
Next He was stretched, paid a debt that was infinite
He said that He finished it- resurrected so the elect
would be the recipients of its benefits
Through faith and penitence we get to be intimate
His grace is heaven sent, it never diminishes
Now the Holy Spirit indwelling is the evidence
for heaven's future residents who truly represent
Jesus, the Author, Producer, Director and
Star of a story that will never, ever end!

The greatest story ever told
A God pursues foes whose hearts turned cold
The greatest story ever told
Restoring all that the enemy stole
The greatest story ever told
The glory of Christ is the goal, behold
The greatest story ever told
It's the greatest..."
-Shai Linne

Friday, December 26, 2008

What makes speaking out against sin an act of love or a hate crime?

A big topic in our day is whether or not speaking against homosexuality is a hate crime. A hate crime is defined as “a crime, usually violent, motivated by prejudice or intolerance toward a member of a gender, racial, religious, or social group” (Dictionary.com). The media only portrays this issue in one direction. It never fails when this topic is brought up on the news the cameras always find the group of “Christians” holding up signs with derogatory words and God hates ______. So what makes speaking out against sin an act of love or a hate crime?

What the media portrays as Christianity is not grace filled or Christ saturated. Christians are sinners saved by grace. C. J. Mahaney writes, “Through the cross I realize that no sin committed against me will ever be as serious as the innumerable sins I’ve committed against God. When we understand how much God has forgiven us, it’s not difficult to forgive others.” While those people may have good intentions the way they go about it is not graceful. They are on the attack against people but not sin. They are fighting in a sinful manner. They neglect Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for the building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Derogatory words speak nothing of grace. I am not saying homosexuality is acceptable but there is a way to go about the issue with love and grace.

“Understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted” (1 Timothy 1:9-11). Paul also says in Romans “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). God does not hate homosexuals but He does hate homosexual activity (sin) and His wrath will be poured out on those who are unrepentant. This is not only the case for homosexuals but for all who practice sin (Read Romans 1:18-32). “If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6). I am not arguing Christians will be perfect in this age but repenters who are convicted by the Holy Spirit of sin.

We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Speaking the truth may not always be the easy thing but it is always the most loving thing. Christians need to be praying for the lost and reaching out with the gospel message in a loving manner. We need to always remember but for the grace of God we are no different. Jesus died to break the chains of sin. God poured His wrath on Jesus for the ungodly. It is an act of love to plead with someone to repent and turn to Jesus. It is an act of love to pray for the unrepentant heart.

I must add a person who claims to know Christ but also claims to be a homosexual is deceived to the truth of God’s word. “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). There is no doubt homosexuality will be a stronger struggle for some over others but that is no excuse. The practice of any sin should call us to an examination to see whether we are in the faith or not. John Piper says, “People only sin because they believe the lie that sin’s pleasures are superior to God’s.” As a Christian we are to do battle with sin by the Holy Spirit. “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live” (Romans 8:13). Fighting sin by our own willpower is a lost battle. Only through the precious blood of Jesus Christ can a soul be changed.

Father, I confess my own heart is bent to forget your great grace that saved a wretch like me. Many times I laugh at such corrupting talk and then become angry when I see how the media portrays Christians. I am a Pharisee Lord, please forgive me. You are appalled by my righteousness which is as filthy rags. Thank you for Christ’s blood He shed for me. Thank you for covering me in Christ’s righteousness. I can think of no sweeter thought then the atoning work of Jesus Christ at Calvary. Holy Spirit, convict me of sin in my own heart. Teach me how to be compassionate to others but constantly mortifying the sin in my own heart. Help me to speak the truth with the love of Jesus Christ.
Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Born to die

"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
Colossians 1:13

"How can the Son be the 'beloved' of the Father and yet also the object of his wrath and judgement? Such is the glorious, soul-saving, redemptive mystery of penal substitutionary atonement.
It is possible because the Son and the Father are united in their love for the elect and together entered into a covenant to redeem them from their sins. This could be accomplished by the Son's willingly and freely offering himself as a substitute who would wholly absorb the wrath of the Father, which those for whom he died deserved.
Had Jesus not satisfied the wrath of the Father, we would still be under the dominion of darkness, held captive in our sins, and subject to the authority of one who hates us. But thanks be to God, joyful and whole-hearted thanks, because he has, at great and unimaginable cost to himself and his beloved Son, extricated us from the grip of Satan and now embraces us with an eternal and irrevocable love."
-Sam Storms

This is the purpose of the birth of Jesus Christ. Celebrate the great salvation given as a gift from the risen Savior. The risen Savior was born this day, in the city of David, to die for sinners like you and me. Rejoice, rejoice for the Lord is great and worthy of all praise, honor and glory.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Absolute marriage

Due to the importance of the issue below we will continue our book review next Wednesday.

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."
Genesis 2:24

My friend, Stephen Bean, has a post today at http://luke2445.blogspot.com/ about Proposition 8. Please go read.

Check back with me on Friday with my post: What makes speaking out against sin an act of love or a hate crime?

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Walk in love

"Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness...But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes."
1 John 2:9,11

"Hatred is the defining mark of those who walk in darkness. They fail the moral test of the believing community: To walk in love! It is one thing to perform an act of loving kindness toward someone else; it is entirely another to walk in love toward them!"
-Lance Quinn

Monday, December 22, 2008

The great equation

A helpful equation from Mark Driscoll:

Christ + anything ruins everything

Friday, December 19, 2008

More than a feeling

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!"
Psalm 34:8b

"'Natural' people can have some perception of God's greatness, power, and awesome majesty, and this tends to convince them that the Bible is the Word of a great and terrible God. They may even have a sense of the great guilt that sin against this God brings, and the dreadfulness of His wrath. Because of their guilt and fear, they then tend to believe more readily what the Bible says about the world to come. But this sense of fear and guilt is not enough for a truly spiritual conviction, for these people have no sense of the beauty and sweetness of God's holiness. And yet this fear and guilt are sometimes mistaken for a saving conviction, and the emotions that result are assumed to be a saving feeling of the heart."
-Jonathan Edwards (Religious Affections)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Something to ponder for a lifetime...

"Shall we presume on God’s grace by tolerating in ourselves the very sin that nailed Christ to the cross?"

-Jerry Bridges (Respectable Sins)

A Call to Discernment

Chapter 8 - The Dangers of Discernment

"I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil."
Romans 16:19b

"Because of our fallen natures, discernment is a practice that can lead to many dangers. While the Bible exhorts us to focus on what is good and to be innocent as to what is evil, many people who seek to be discerning inadvertently practice a counterfeit discernment that is merely a shadow of the real thing. There are many traps awaiting these people. Spiritual discernment is a matter of the heart and must be done with a pure heart and for pure motives."
-Tim Challies

Monday, December 15, 2008

"to be sin"

“For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:21

I cannot even begin to recall how many times I have heard this passage but the other night when I read it the words “to be sin” just struck me. To think that all my evil, lustful, prideful, idolatrous thoughts and actions nailed Him to the cross. In the words, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” the wrath of God, for my sins, was poured on Jesus. Then God tells us in Colossians “you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His (Jesus) death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him” (Colossians 1:21-22). God crushed His Son and poured out His wrath on His Son so we might be presented “holy and blameless and above reproach before Him (God the Father).” Wow! How do we not stand in awe of God? Why are my affections so prone to the world and not this love? Nothing this world has to offer is greater then the truth that God the Father made His perfect Son “to be sin” so sinners like you and I could be presented to the Father as holy and blameless.



Grace upon grace,

JRL

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Power of the Cross

Last night my wife and I had the privilege to see the Getty's. As I read the words on the screen and heard them sung I was in awe of who God is and what He has done for a sinner like me. Here are the words to The Power of the Cross:


Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

CHORUS:This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

FINAL CHORUS:This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

-Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music

Friday, December 12, 2008

Contra Mundum

Contra Mundum (against the world) was the great orthodoxy of Athanasius. Athanasius was a man who contended for the deity of Christ. This orthodoxy of Contra Mundum makes it sound as if Athanasius had no joy in life but was always doing battle against the world. Athanasius response to that thinking would be:

"Let us be courageous and rejoice always...Let us consider and lay to heart that while the Lord is with us, our foes can do us no hurt...But if they see us rejoicing in the Lord, contemplating the bliss of the future, mindful of the Lord, deeming all things in His hand...-they are discomfited and turned backwards."
-Athanasius as quoted by John Piper

Athanasius knew where true joy was found. He fought for it with joy, a bliss of the future and recognized the sovereignty of God. Piper says, "If something is worth fighting for, it is worth rejoicing over. And the joy is essential in the battle, for nothing is worth fighting for that will not increase our everlasting joy in God. Courage in conflict must mingle with joy in Christ." True joy is in defending what is true joy, Christ. Don't argue or get involved with conflict for the sake of nothing; fight for the truth, contend for the gospel and rejoice in the increase of everlasting joy in God.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Authentic doing

Last night I had the great privilege to read a biography of John Owen. I would encourage any of you to read about this man or just read his stuff. He is not easy to read to starting with a biography can help give you understanding. I read John Piper's biography of Owen in his Swans are not Silent series. Here is a little taste of Owen:

"Our happiness consisteth not in the knowing the things of the gospel, but in the doing of them...I hold myself bound in conscience and in honor, not even to imagine that I have attained a proper knowledge of any one article of truth, much less to publish it, unless through the Holy Spirit I have had such a taste of it, in its spiritual sense, that I may be able, from the heart, to say with the psalmist, 'I have believe, and therefore I have spoken'."
-John Owen

Piper says of Owen "His aim in all he dad was to grasp the mind of Christ and reflect it in his behavior. This means that the quest for holiness was always bound up with a quest for true knowledge of God."

May we strive to know God, through His Word, and reflect Him in our behavior. May Christ be exalted through our lives.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Call to Discernment

Chapter 7 - The Gift of Discernment

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1

"All Christians are given gifts of the Holy Spirit that serve to bring unity to the church by manifesting the Spirit and serving other believers. Among these gifts is the gift of spiritual discernment. People with this gift will have special ability to separate truth from error and to discern whether something originates with God or with Satan. There are a wide variety of opportunities to serve the church through this gifting. Even though not everyone has been given the spiritual gift of discernment, we are all to pursue this discipline."
Tim Challies

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die

To absorb the wrath of God
To please His Heavenly Father
To learn obedience and be perfected
To achieve His own resurrection from the dead
To show the wealth of God’s love and grace for sinners
To show His own love for us
To cancel the legal demands of the law against us
To become a ransom for many
For the forgiveness of our sins
To provide the basis for our justification
To complete the obedience that becomes our righteousness
To take away our condemnation
To abolish circumcision and all rituals as the basis of salvation
To bring us to faith and keep us faithful
To make us holy, blameless, and perfect
To give us a clear conscience
To obtain for us all things that are good for us
To heal us from moral and physical sickness
To give eternal life to all who believe on Him
To deliver us from the present evil age
To reconcile us to God
To bring us to God
So that we might belong to Him
To give us confident access to the holiest place
To become for us the place where we meet God
To bring the Old Testament priesthood to an end and become the Eternal High Priest
To become a sympathetic and helpful Priest
To free us from the futility of our ancestry
To free us from the slavery of sin
That we might die to sin and live to righteousness
So that we would die to the law and bear fruit for God
To enable us to live for Christ and not ourselves
To make His cross the ground of all our boasting
To enable us to live by faith in Him
To give marriage its deepest meaning
To create a people passionate for good works
To call us to follow His example of lowliness and costly love
To create a band of crucified followers
To free us from bondage to the fear of death
So that we would be with Him immediately after death
To secure our resurrection from the dead
To disarm the rulers and authorities
To unleash the power of God in the gospel
To destroy the hostility between races
To ransom people from every tribe and language and people and nation
To gather all His sheep from around the world
To rescue us from final judgment
To gain His joy and ours
So that He would be crowned with glory and honor
To show that the worst evil is meant by God for good
-John Piper

Here is the link to purchase this book. I highly recommend it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pre-order Piper's new book

Here is a link to Desiring God for Piper's new book Finally Alive. You can pre-order now for $5.

Misery, happiness, price

"It is amazing to me - that I do not find my heart all on fire with love to Jesus - when I consider - from what misery I am redeemed; to what happiness I am called; and what a price was paid for my soul! Alas! Alas! my guilt and grief are that my thoughts of Jesus are so faint, and so infrequent; and that my commendations of Him are so lamentably cold and disproportionate to what they ought to be!"
-John Newton

Friday, December 5, 2008

Honor those you love...

Finding someone to look up to these days is not always an easy task. I’ve been blessed with many men who love Christ and love ministering to His people. I have been blessed to do ministry with one man for several years. He has made a bigger impact on my life than he may know. We have two huge things in common: Christ and music. We both have a great passion for seeing Christ glorified in life and music. What he may not know is most my passion has come from his instruction, guidance and teaching.

He has taught me many things about Scripture behind the scenes. He has counseled and held me accountable. He has also counseled and challenge many youth to have a passion in life for worshiping Jesus Christ. Praise God for the truth that has gone forth from this man and the impact he has had on so many. I love him for how you have shaped me and helped me become who I am today. I really appreciate how he has challenged me to love Christ and be transparent with my life.

Thank you Jim McMurry for being a friend and counselor I will always cherish. I hope this encourages you to keep serving the way you always have: sacrificially.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The mission field in the pews

Yesterday I sent out a link for John Piper's new book coming out called Finally Alive which Adrian Warnock says about the book, "By examining the Bible's teaching on the new birth, John Piper shows us how to be certain our faith is genuine. Because no issue could be more critical, I believe this is the most important book Piper has written. It could be the most important book outside of the Bible that you or your loved one will ever read." WOW!! I would definitely have to recommend you pre-order this book that will be coming out in 2009.

One response I got back from a friend of mine in Wisconsin I wanted to share. I found it to be a very interesting and an insightful point:

"We have been doing all we can to get unsaved folks into the church for the past decade or more, but now the problem is, our church's are filled with people who don't really know Christ, but think they do because they are part of a church. We have a huge mission field sitting in our pews every Sunday morning."

-Michael Middleton

Writing Religion out of our History

Please go read this important article on Desiring God's blog.

A Call to Discernment

Chapter 6 - The Will and Discernment

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Romans 12:2

"Once we know what is true about God, we can rightly know His will for our lives. We do not seek to know God's secret will but His revealed will that tells us to be filled with the Spirit, to be sanctified, and to be thankful. And in honoring this will, we must exercise discernment as we distinguish between choices that are consistent with God's self-revelation and those that are not. We are truly discerning in obeying God's will only when we can say that His will is our delight."
-Tim Challies

Monday, December 1, 2008

The greatest admission in the world

The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin..If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
-1 John 1:7,9


"The greatest admission in the world is to acknowledge personal sinfulness. It is the key admission out of which forgiveness is granted and guilt is removed!...Don't be deceived about your spiritual condition! To conceal your true condition (as if we really could), is to cut off the only avenue for true cleansing. To re-define sin as sickness or disease, or to blame someone or something else, is Satan's deceptive lie! What you must do is confess your sinfulness, and when this acknowledgement occurs, God is faithful and just (which means He will do what He promises to forgive and that He is righteous in His dealings with sinners based upon the work of Jesus on the cross), to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
-Lance Quinn

God's promises

"Satan promises the best, but pays with the worst; he promises honor, and pays with disgrace; he promises pleasure, and pays with pain; he promises profit, and pays with loss, he promises life, and pays with death. But God pays as he promises; all his payments are made in pure gold."
-Thomas Brooks

Friday, November 28, 2008

Praise and Thanksgiving

This is a prayer from the book Valley of Vision. If you do not have this book go get it.

O my God,
Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
my heart admires, adores, loves thee,
for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out all that fullness before thee
in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
for adorning it, sanctifying it,
though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigour,
for providing senses to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for the royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express,
for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!!! We have lots to be thankful for. God is so good.

Also my friends in Across the Valley wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

A Call to Discernment

Chapter 5 - Truth and Discernment

Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
-Ephesians 5:8b-10

"To be people that honor God with our actions, we must first be people who honor God in what we think of Him and what we believe to be true about Him. Only when we think rightly about God will we live in a way that is consistent with His will for our lives. Spiritual discernment will equip us to know God as He has revealed Himself and thus allow us to avoid having worldly hearts and minds."
-Tim Challies

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

He understands our suffering

I read this quotation off the BCLR-ROC website and thought it was very insightful. Here is the full article:

"At the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God's throne. Most shrank from the brilliant light before them. But some groups near the front talked heatedly -- not with cringing shame but with belligerence. 'Can God judge us?''

How can he know about suffering?' snapped a pert young brunette. She ripped open a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. 'We endured terror...beating...torture...death!'

In another group a black man lowered his collar. 'What about this?' he demanded, showing an ugly rope burn. 'Lynched for no crime but being black!'In another crowed, a pregnant schoolgirl with sullen eyes. 'Why should I suffer?' she murmured. 'It wasn't my fault.'

Far out across the plain were hundreds of such groups. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering he had permitted in his world. How lucky God was to live in heaven where all was sweetness and light, where there was no weeping or fear, no hunger or hatred! What did God know of all that men had been forced to endure in this world? 'For God leads a pretty sheltered life,' they said.

So each of these groups sent forth their leader, chosen because he had suffered the most. A Jew, a black, a person from Hiroshima, a horribly disabled arthritic, a thalidomide child. In the centre of the plain they consulted with one another.

At last they were ready to present their case. It was rather clever. Before God could be qualified to be their Judge, he must endure what they had endured. Their verdict was that God should be sentenced to live on earth--as a man! Let him be born a Jew. Let the legitimacy of his birth be doubted. Give him a work so difficult that even his family will think him out of his mind when he tries to do it. Let him be betrayed by his closest friends. Let him face false charges, be tried by a prejudiced jury and convicted by a cowardly judge. Let him be tortured. At last, let him see what it means to be terribly alone. Then let him die in agony. Let him die so that there can be no doubt that he died. Let there be a whole host of witnesses to verify it.

As each leader announced the portion of his sentence, a loud murmur of approval went up from the throng of people assembled. When the last had finished pronouncing sentence there as a long silence. No one uttered another word. No one moved. For suddenly all knew that God had already served His sentence."

(Cited in "Where Is God When Things Go Wrong?" by John Blanchard)

Monday, November 24, 2008

If God is for us

"The world will bring its condemnation. They may even put their sword behind it. But we know that the highest court has already ruled in our favor. 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' (Romans 8:31). No one successfully.

If they reject us, He accepts us. If they hate us, He loves us. If they imprison us, He sets our spirits free. If they afflict us, He refines us by the fire. If they kill us, He makes it a passage to paradise. They cannot defeat us. Christ has died. Christ is risen. We are alive in Him. And in Him there is no condemnation. We are forgiven, and we are righteous. 'And the righteous are bold as a lion' (Proverbs 28:1)"
-John Piper (Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Be ready for battle...always

"The devil does not sleep, nor is the flesh yet dead; therefore, you must never cease your preparation for battle, because on the right and the left are enemies who never rest."
-Thomas à Kempis

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Honesty is the best policy?

I don't know if you all have read the latest story of J.P. Hayes. J.P. is a PGA golfer who turned himself in for using a wrong ball. The link tells a little of the story but also has comments from people below that I found interesting. The story got me thinking; why is his honesty turning into such a big media craze? Should this tell us something about our society? I don't know if J.P. Hayes loves the Lord but his conscience was definitely getting to him. Paul Williams says,

"It lives in every human heart regardless of whether we act on it or not. And if we’re tempted to think that we are good people because we never act on our bad thoughts, it’s worth wondering: what kinds of things would we do if we knew there would be no negative consequences for us? How many times have we been kept from doing something we wanted to do only because we were afraid that God or society or the law would punish us, or because our friends would think of us as bad people? How often do we do 'the right thing' not because we love to do it, but simply because we don’t want to be seen doing 'the wrong thing'?"
(If You Could Ask God One Question)

I think this is why there is a big media craze. Here is a guy who gave up his whole year of golf on the tour to be honest. He simply did the right thing but that is not natural for a society filled with sin.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Call to Discernment

Chapter 4 - The Heart of Discernment


Test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22


"Spiritual discernment requires that we carefully test and prove everything associated with Christian life and doctrine. Though all that God teaches about himself is important, we must focus our efforts in discernment on the doctrines that are most foundational to the Christian faith. The two areas where we must practice spiritual discernment are the same as the two general themes of Scripture: what we must believe about God and how God calls us to live on the basis of those beliefs or, said other wise, the truth of God and the will of God."
-Tim Challies

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Forgiveness costs us nothing

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses"
(Ephesians 1:7).

Forgiveness costs us nothing. All our costly obedience is the fruit, not the root, of being forgiven. That's why we call it grace. But it cost Jesus His life. That is why we call it just. Oh, how precious is the news that God does not hold our sins against us! And how beautiful is Christ, whose blood made it right for God to do this.
-John Piper (Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The gospel is offensive

One test at whether or not an attempt at contextualization has been successful is to ask if it has made the offense of the gospel clearer.
-Mark Dever

Friday, November 14, 2008

God's pruning knife

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
John 15:1-2

"God's love to the elect branches, appears in His pruning them. He prunes them by affliction. We are apt to think that when God afflicts us, that He does not love us. Afflictions is God's pruning knife. He prunes us to make us bring forth the peaceable fruit of righteousness. God would rather have the branches bleed - than be barren. All this is done in love. It is God's love, that He will rather lop and prune the branches - than let them grow wild."
-Thomas Watson

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Call to Discernment

Sorry I forgot to make my book post yesterday from Tim Challies book The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment.

Chapter 3 - Defining Discernment
Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Romans 12:9b

Discernment is the skill of understanding and applying God's Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong. It is a task in which we attempt to see things as God sees them. People who are discerning have a heightened ability to see and understand issues from God's perspective. Empowered by His Spirit, they strive for and are given an understanding of what is pleasing to God and what is not. They do this by understanding God through His Word, the Bible, and by applying the wisdom of the Bible to their lives. All the while it is God who gives the motivation, the desire, the ability, and the power to both know and discern.
Tim Challies

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The atoning work of Christ

The grandest fact under heaven is this: Christ by His precious blood does actually put away sin. And God, for Christ’s sake dealing with men on terms of divine mercy, forgives the guilty and justifies them – not according to anything that He sees in them or foresees will be in them, but according to the riches of His mercy which lie in His own heart.
-C H Spurgeon (All of Grace)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:4-5

Monday, November 10, 2008

Door of Hope Ministries

Please go check out the report from Friday night at the Pulaski County Detention Center @ The Door of Hope Minitries blog.

The Greatest Authority

For as among the governments of men, the greater authority is obeyed in preference to the lesser, so God must be obeyed above all.
-St. Augustine

Friday, November 7, 2008

The thoughts of God

No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God.
-C. H. Spurgeon

I want to say a special thanks to Josh and Jennifer Keifer for the cool new picture on the blog. THANKS!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Fight against Racism

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image’” (Genesis 1:26). For Christians this passage alone should put away any thought of racism. God has made all persons in His own image. God does not make mistakes. God has purpose in creating different ethnic groups and cultures. No people group is superior in the eyes of God. Any notion that a group of people of a certain ethnicity is superior to another is sinful. If you hold a certain group superior to another you do nothing but worship carved images like those in the Old Testament.

Jesus calls us to “love our neighbor as ourselves” and our neighbor is anyone created in His image. We are to love all people. Forgive us for not having our focus on the supremacy of Jesus Christ. Forgive us for not loving others as we are taught to love. The Scriptures say, “Be ready to give to every one a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). How are we to give our reason of hope to every one if we do not love them? Wilberforce says,

“Such are the declarations and injunctions of the inspired writers; injunctions confirmed by commendations of those who obey the admonition. Yet, is it not undeniable that with the Bible in our houses, we are ignorant of its content; and that hence, in a great measure, it arises, that the bulk of the Christian world know so little, and mistake so greatly, in what regards the religion which they profess?”

Christian, know your bible so you may hear the gospel of Christ that will kill any notion of racism in your life. Racism is sinful ignorance.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Call to Discernment

Chapter 2 - The Challenge of Discernment

"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
-Matthew 5:11-12

Because discernment is a good and noble pursuit, it is one that has been opposed on all fronts. It will continue to be opposed by our sinful natures, by satanic forces, and be cultural influences. As Christians we must stand firm against all of these forces, trusting in God to equip and to sustain us, for while discernment is a difficult calling, it is one with ultimate benefits.
-Tim Challies

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Were I to define a Christian

Were I to define a Christian, or rather to describe him at large, I know of no text I would choose, sooner than Galatians 5:17, "The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other--so that you do not do what you want."

A Christian has noble aims--which distinguish him from the bulk of mankind. His leading principles, motives, and desires--are all supernatural and divine. Could he do as he desires--there is not a angel before the Eternal Throne, that would excel him in holiness, love, and obedience! He would tread in the very footsteps of his Savior, fill up every moment of time in His service, and employ every breath in His praise!

This he would do--but, alas! he cannot! Against these spiritual desires, there is a contrary desire and working of a corrupt nature, which meets him at every turn! He has a beautiful copy set before him in the Scriptures--he is enamored with it, and though he does not expect to equal it, he writes carefully after it, and longs to attain to the nearest possible imitation. But indwelling sin and Satan continually jog his hand, and spoil his strokes!

Therefore, the most spiritual and gracious people confess themselves as vile and worthless! One eminent branch of our holiness, is a sense of shame and humiliation for those evils which are only known to ourselves, and to Him who searches our hearts!

In proportion as the Lord enables you to live more simply upon the blood, righteousness, and grace of the Mediator--you will possess a more stable peace. The nearer you are brought to Him--the more lively sense you will have of your vileness and worthlessness; and your continual need of Him. Thereby your admiration of His power, love, and compassion, will increase from year to year.
-John Newton

Monday, November 3, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

But God...

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses (sin), made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved.
-Ephesians 2:4-5

What made us dead? "Following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind" (Ephesians 2:2-3).

After painting a picture of ourselves, Paul says "But God." It is His mercy that makes us who we are in Christ. I love later when Paul says, "so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God" (Ephesians 2:7-8).

In whatever task you do this weekend rejoice in the fact that God did not leave you dead in your sins. Rejoice that He did not leave you a child of wrath but instead covered you with immeasurable grace.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Challies review on The Prodigal God

Tim Keller has follow up The Reason for God with his book The Prodigal God. Here is Tim Challies review of this book. Here is a glimpse from the review:

"Jesus' teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners doesn't have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren't appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we'd like to think."

Christ Has Conquered All

This is BCLR's song of the month and I love the words:

Christ Has Conquered All

Heavy laden, weary soul,
Bearing up a heart of stone,
His Spirit comes to dwell in you,
And Christ, the weight of sin assume.
All my guilt is cast on Christ,
And His righteousness is mine.
What guilt should weigh upon my head?
For Christ has cleared it all!

The sum of all my sacrifice,
Though joyful, fails to justify.
I cannot pay for grace that’s free,
Nor add to work that is complete.
Jesus paid it all for me!
This my ransom and my plea.
What debt I labor to repay?
For Christ has paid it all!

Through the law comes sin and death,
But faith is counted righteousness.
So I will trust in Christ alone,
My debt to pay, my sin atone.
And I stand in confidence,
Covered by His righteousness.
What shall become of boasting tongues?
For Christ has done it all!

Where O death is now thy sting?
Swallowed up in victory!
The Lord of glory reigns on high,
Sov’reign over earth and sky!
Yes, He triumphed o’er the grave,
And He comes again one day.
What lesser name shall draw our praise?
For Christ has conquered all!
-Kristie Braselton

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Call to Discernment

What I would like to start doing for my Wednesday posts is go through some books I have read and give you a brief summary of each chapter. The first book I will try this on is Tim Challies book The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. I hope these summaries we your appetite to go out and read these books.

Tim does a great job in his book to summarize the key thoughts of each chapter.

Chapter 1 - A Call to Discernment

"By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you."
-2 Timothy 1:14

The Bible teaches there is a clear relationship between spiritual discernment and spiritual maturity. For a Christian to be mature, he must also be discerning. Those who are not discerning must be immature, backsliding, or dead. Conversely, those who exhibit discernment must be alive, growing, and mature. It is clear from Scripture that all Christians are expected to pursue discernment, for the Bible cries out repeatedly for us to do so. It is the responsibility of each Christian to heed and to answer the call and so to guard the deposit God has entrusted to us.
-Tim Challies
Also I may start posting other articles throughout the day if you all are interested in checking back.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My In-Laws

Today I just want to celebrate 25 years of marriage for my in-laws. I have not been around them for all 25 years, trust me my father-in-law is happy about that, but from what I've seen their marriage has definitely reflected Ephesians 5:22-33. I love my in-laws very much. Praise God for His grace in 25 years of marriage and hopefully many more. "And from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace" (John 1:16). Happy Anniversary!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Comfort in the battle

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.
Ephesians 6:1

"We have got to realize as we fight this fight of faith and wrestle with these principalities and powers and face the assaults of the world and the flesh and the devil, that God is involved in it with us. We would never have been in it but for that. The ultimate battle is the battle between God and the devil, between heaven and hell, between light and darkness. That in turn should make us realize a further truth, that this campaign cannot fail, because God's honour is involved in it.

Lift up your minds and your hearts in the thick of the battle and call this to mind. You see the might and the power of the enemy and you are conscious of your own weakness. But say to youselves, 'This is God's battle, we are given the privilege of being in it and of fighting as individual soldiers, but God's honour is involved at every point.' 'Be strong in the Lord'; remember that He is there, and that it is His battle. This cannot be emphasized too much."
-Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Thursday, October 23, 2008

God's love

The measure of God's love for us is shown by two things:
  • The degree of His sacrifice in saving us from the penalty of our sin.
  • The degree of unworthiness that we had when He saved us.

We need to understand the magnitude of our unworthiness and sin in order to understand how great a sacrifice was paid. If we have no understanding of God's holiness and our wickedness then the Bible is just a bunch of words with no meaning. We must read the Word praying that the Holy Spirit would reveal the truth to us. We must understand what Christ has done on the cross. He willing laid down His life for those that hated Him (Romans 1:30). He defeated death on the third day so He could raise us to newness of life. Without the gospel we remain dead in our sin. John Piper says,

"Divine love is in the end: a passion to enthrall undeserving sinners, at great cost, with what will make us supremely happy forever, namely, His infinite beauty."

Thoughts taken from John Piper's book Fifty Reason Why Jesus had to Die

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Newton's focus on grace

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death!
-Romans 7:24

John Newton said, “By our repeated slips and falls into sin, we gain a more emphatic conviction of our own vileness and depravity; and we experimentally learn and feel our own weakness.” Later in this same letter Newton says, “This wretched state of sin and temptation, makes the thoughts of death and eternity desirable. Then this conflict shall cease! Then I shall sin and wander no more, shall see Him as He is, and be like Him forever!” I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend of mine about John Newton as I reading Newton’s letter this morning. My friend made the statement “John Newton seems to focus too much on his sin.” To that statement there is only one such rebuttal needed: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see. T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear the hour I first believed. Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come; Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home. The Lord has promised good to me. He word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures. Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the veil, a life of joy and peace.” Unless we focus on our sin in light of God’s holiness we will never understand grace the way John Newton did.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Unchanging Truth

We can either listen to ourselves and our constantly changing feelings about our circumstances, or we can talk to ourselves about the unchanging truth of who God is and what He’s accomplished for us at the cross.
-C.J. Mahaney

Monday, October 20, 2008

Looking at the wrong person

We Christians tend to compare ourselves constantly to others when dealing with sin. We tend to think all is well because we are not like another man who we see as worse off. Jerry Bridges, in his book Respectable Sins, says, "What about our conservative, evangelical churches? Has the idea of sin all but disappeared from us also? No, it has not disappeared, but it has, in many instances, been deflected to those outside our circles who commit flagrant sins such as abortion, homosexuality, and murder, or the notorious white-collar crimes of high-level corporate executives. It’s easy for us to condemn those obvious sins while virtually ignoring our own sins of gossip, pride envy, bitterness, and lust, or even our lack of those gracious qualities that Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit." The standard is not others who sin or who we think sin more often, the standard is Christ. When we compare ourselves to Christ's holiness our only response will be "Woe is me! I am undone."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Killing Sin

"So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."
Romans 8:12-13

If you have time please go read or listen to this series by John Piper. It will greatly enrich your Christian walk or maybe I should say battle.

How to Kill Sin
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Be Content

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with such things as you have, because God has said--Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
Hebrews 13:5

These words are very simple. A little child might easily understand them. They contain no high doctrine; they involve no deep metaphysical question; and yet, as simple as they are--the duty which these words enjoin on us, is of highest practical importance to all Christians.
Contentment is one of the rarest graces. Like all precious things--it is most uncommon. To practice contentment, is very hard. To talk of contentment in the day of health and prosperity is easy enough; but to be content in the midst of poverty, sickness, trouble, disappointments, and losses--is a state of mind to which very few can attain!
The fallen angels had heaven itself to dwell in, and the immediate presence and favor of God--but they were not content. Adam and Eve had the garden of Eden to live in, with a free grant of everything in it excepting one tree--but they were not content. Ahab had his throne and kingdom, but so long as Naboth's vineyard was not his--he was not content. Haman was the chief favorite of the Persian king--but so long as Mordecai sat at the gate--he was not content.
It is just the same everywhere in the present day. Murmuring, dissatisfaction, discontent with what we have, meet us at every turn. To say, with Jacob, "I have enough," seems flatly contrary to the grain of human nature. To say, "I want more," seems the mother tongue of every child of Adam.
Paul's direction ought to come with power to all our consciences: "Be content with such things as you have," not with such things as you once used to have--not with such things as you hope to have--but with such things as you now have. With such things, whatever they may be--we are to be content. With such a dwelling, such a family, such health, such income, such work, such circumstances as we now have--we are to be content.
Ah! reader, if you would be truly happy--seek it where alone it can be found. Seek it not in money, seek it not in pleasure, nor in friends, nor in learning. Seek it in having a will in perfect harmony with the will of God. Seek it in studying to be content.
You may say, that is fine talking--but how can we be always content in such a world? I answer, that you need to cast away your pride, and know your deserts, in order to be thankful in any condition. If men really knew that they deserve nothing, and are debtors to God's mercy every day--they would soon cease to complain.
Let me tell you why there is so little contentment in the world. The simple answer is, because there is so little grace, and true godliness. Few know their own sin; few feel their desert; and so few are content with such things as they have. Humility, self-knowledge, a clear sight of our own utter vileness and corruption; these are the true roots of contentment.
Let me tell you--what you should do, if you would be content. You must know your own heart, seek God for your portion, take Christ for your Savior, and use God's Word for your daily food. Contentment must be learned at the feet of Jesus Christ. He who has God for his friend, and heaven for his home--can wait for his good things, and be content with little here below.
-J.C. Ryle

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Evangelism

Many times in my evangelism I forget who does the work. I forget my job is to be faithful to God by spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. My job is not to change the heart. Only the work of the Holy Spirit can accomplish that task. “I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19). It is prideful to think it is my responsibility to do the work only Christ can accomplish. Throw the seed, get on your knees and let God do His work. Be faithful with your seed throwing and prayer and God will accomplish His sovereign plan in His time. As I reflect, it is amazing how much sin is involved with my evangelism. Dead men cannot walk. Hearts of stone cannot beat. Only God can raise the dead and remove a stony heart. God, make us faithful to do what you have commanded us to do and may we not sin by trying to do Your work. Draw people to Yourself for Your glory and honor. May I remember how you gave the “chief of sinners” life. It is sinful to think You cannot change a persons heart.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Story

A little reminder to spread the good news of Jesus Christ:

Story
I'm sick and tired of blending in
and never telling anyone how You set this sinner free
You found me living without hope
and then You drew me to yourself
and Your mercy made me clean

I will tell Your story
for the world to hear of Your great love
and how it rescued me

You came into the world You made,
and then died upon a tree to bring us back to You
You're like fire in my bones and like fire in my soul
and I can't hold You in anymore

What if nobody told me?
Where would I be without You now?
-Mainstay

Friday, October 10, 2008

Perfect Righteousness

Have you ever read one sentence and thought that is right on the money. Well Martyn Lloyd-Jones did just that: "My only hope is that I shall be clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ." Anything added to His righteousness is but filthy rags. Ask to be clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ which is given through the cross.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The great Ophthalmologist

Last night at bible study we learn about Christ being the great Ophthalmologist. In his book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, Donald Whitney teaches Christians that clear vision comes for knowledge and discernment of the Scriptures. According to Philippians 1:9 love will abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment. Knowledge for knowledge sake is idolatry. We must have knowledge with love. We must have discernment with love. Then love will abound more and more in our outpouring into others. The gospel will become a natural fountain from how we live our lives. This requires 20/20 vision that only Christ can give. We must be spiritual beggars asking for that perfect vision. As Trip Lee puts it:

"I'm hoping we prepared, we bout a take a trip
I'll point you to the living water homie take a sip
Go to the pool of Siloam go on and take a dip
Come back with vision that's given by Him, who makes a switch
Though it would it cost Him, His enemies would cross Him
He called, and was dropping that knowledge like books falling
From Dallas to New Orleans, Philly to every city
Our vision is looking blurred we gotta see 20/20
Got ears but don't hear, eyes but don't see
Our God we don't fear, these rhymes are so we
Can peak off into the mind of God, He's holy
Our lives are so weak, but God is so He
Yeah He's perfect and flawless, He stands as the standard
His stance is grand, understand that He stands up
Always upright, we got a chance since the ransom
He paid at the cross, now let's find us some answers
What kind of God, would take some dudes and hand em
Eternal life for free, through the grace that He grants them?
By faith, we been changed, used to roll as His foes
But He rose and He chose, now we clothed in His clothes
It's kinda crazy, we all had ambitions of getting dough
He changed our character like an actor who's switching roles
This is to testify bout the God that we living for"

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Have you tasted?

Can you picture your favorite meal or dessert right there in front of you? You are ready to just dig in and eat. It is easy to imagine how good it would taste. Then, sharing the joy with others, telling them how much you enjoyed the meal or dessert. I know many times I have shared with others how much I enjoy cheesecake. It’s a weakness of mine!! I’m convicted. I have to ask myself why I do not share of God’s goodness when I’ve tasted it. The Psalmist says, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8); “How sweet are Your words to my taste” (Psalm 119:103). The Bible speaks of Christians tasting the Lord’s goodness. Many times I have to examine my heart and wonder why I am not sharing what I’ve tasted. Cheesecake is so easy to share with others but God’s goodness isn’t? Why do I fear man so much? I fear man from a lack of humility. We taste humility our entire life at the foot of the cross. We cannot get beyond the cross. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2-4). Have you tasted His goodness? If you have tasted, “love your salvation saying continually ‘Great is the LORD!’”(Psalm 40:16). If you have not tasted, go to the Bible. Read the book of John and pray that the Spirit would give you a broken heart and humility at the cross.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Don't Waste Your Life: Lecrae Interview

It's always a joy to hear of Jesus rescuing a lost soul and bringing true joy to that persons life.

Check out Lecrae's new disc Rebel.

Monday, October 6, 2008

What has happened to faithfulness?

On Friday, October 3, CJ Mahaney posted on his blog The Idol of Relevance. Relevance has become the latest and greatest tool in the Christian market. We get massively tied into what the culture has to say about church that we can lose the gospel. Much of the post is quotations and points from Os Guinness book Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance. Os states "Never have Christians pursued relevance more strenously; never have Christians been more irrelevant." He goes on to explain "By our uncritical pursuit of relevance we have actually courted irrelevance; by our breathless chase after relevance without a matching commitment to faithfulness, we have become not only unfaithful but irrelevant; by our determined efforts to redefine ourselves in ways that are more compelling to the modern world than are faithful to Christ, we have lost not only our identity but our authority and our relevance. Our crying need is to be faithful as well as relevant."

Friday, October 3, 2008

The heavens declare

I could not help but be reminded of Psalm 19:1 driving into work this morning: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork."





Thursday, October 2, 2008

God's promises are Yes and Amen

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Ephesians 4:7

Wilberforce said, "This is the Christian love of God! A love compounded of admiration, of preference, of hope, of trust, of joy; chastised by reverential awe, and wakeful with continual gratitude." I must confess trust is a tough one. Many times over I read the promises God has for me and doubt. He promises to "never leave me or forsake me", "All things work together for good for those who are His children", "My grace is sufficient" yet I doubt. Clinging to God's promises without doubt is trust. We have to fight against our flesh and see God's promises as yes and Amen!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

True or false

Scripture does not give believers permission to expose themselves to evil. Some people believe the only way to defend against false doctrine is to study it, become proficient in it, and master all its nuances - then refute it. I know some people who study the cults more than they study sound doctrine. Some Christians immerse themselves in the philosophy, entertainment, and culture of society. They feel such a strategy will strengthen their witness to unbelievers...But the emphasis of that strategy is all wrong. Our focus should be on knowing the truth. Error is to be shunned.
-John MacArthur (Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses its Will to Discern)

This quotation was pulled from Tim Challies books The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment which I just finished this morning and would recommend to you all. We, as Christians, lack in this area.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shall we sin that grace may abound?

If I can be forgiven everything, doesn't that mean I can do whatever I like?
No-one who understands how much they've been forgiven would ever want to live like that. No-one who knows how sinful they are, what it cost Jesus to gain them forgiveness, and how wonderful it is to be freely forgiven, will then walk away and live life "their own way". Jesus puts it quite explicitly when He says, "If you love me, you will obey what I command."
-Paul Williams & Barry Cooper (If You Could Ask God One Question)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Opinion is not truth

Everyone may be entitled to his own opinion but everyone is not entitled to his own truth. Truth is but one.
-Doug Groothius

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sing, sing, sing

Chris Tomlin released a new CD (Hello Love) a couple of weeks back. In the opening track “Sing, Sing, Sing” he says “What’s not to love about You?” Simply put and extremely thought provoking. Two simple answers come to mind: everything or nothing. For those who are separated from Christ everything is not to love about Him for the simple reason of self-glorification. But for those who are in Christ the answer is absolutely nothing. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, always present, majestic, holy, sovereign, our refuge, good, just, kind, merciful, gracious, forgiving, healing, eternal, giving, King of kings and Lord of lords, beautiful, marvelous, on His throne, personal, Creator, perfect, loving, worthy of all praise, honor and glory; what is not to love about Him?

We will sing, sing, sing

And make music with the heavens
We will sing, sing, sing
Grateful that You hear us
When we shout your praise
Lift high the name of Jesus

What's not to love about You?
Heaven and earth adore You
Kings and kingdoms bow down
Son of God, You are the One
You are the One we're living for

You are the love that frees us
You are the light that leads us
Like a fire burning
Son of God, You are the one
You are the one we're living for

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Praise God for role models

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). These are the great words Paul penned to show us love is an action. Today I just want to rejoice in 37 years of love between two people I love very much. While accomplishing this love perfectly to one another is impossible, because of sin, my parents have loved through trials and triumphs. Growing up I did not understand everything involved in keeping a marriage together. Now that I’m married I understand God supplies grace to meet every need. It’s also grace that gets couples through the trials and glory to Christ in the triumphs. God’s grace has been shown in the marriage of my parents. God’s grace will continue to sustain their marriage until death do them part. Praise God for His grace that has allowed me to have a living example of what love looks like in marriage. May God receive all glory and honor for allowing their marriage to “endure all things.” Dad, keep loving mom the way Christ loved His church. Love sacrificially! Mom, continue to encourage and pray for dad the way you faithfully do. Love sacrificially! When tempted to do otherwise remember Jesus died sacrificially for those who hated Him that they might come to love. Thanks for your example and happy anniversary.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I despised myself

These are words I read in June of 2007 that had a life changing impact on my life. I pulled this off my shelf last night to see what in William Cowper’s biography had such an impact. This is my big highlighted paragraph in the book:

“Conviction of sin took place, especially of that just committed; the meanness of it, as well as its atrocity, were exhibited to me in colors so inconceivably strong that I despised myself, with a contempt not to be imagined or expressed…This sense of it secured me from the repetition of a crime which I could not now reflect on without abhorrence. Before I rose from bed, it was suggested to me that there was nothing wanted but murder, to fill up the measures of my iniquities; and that, though I had failed in my design, yet I had all the guilt of that crime to answer for. A sense of God’s wrath, and a deep despair of escaping it, instantly succeeded. The fear of death became much more prevalent in me than ever the desire of it had been.”

There is a lot about Cowper that is really interesting to say the least but what sin in your life do you see as hideous as Cowper saw his? Cowper understood God’s wrath was coming and is coming. Death is an absolute and we are all going to stand face to face with God almighty. Please do not plan to enter heaven based on your own merit, you will only find yourself in a place of eternal torment. Instead be like Cowper who read Romans 3:25 and wrote:

“Immediately I received the strength to believe it, and the full beams of the Sun of Righteousness shone upon me. I saw the sufficiency of the atonement He had made, my pardon sealed in His blood, and all the fullness and completeness of His justification. In a moment I believed and received the gospel.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

God is Knitting


"For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
Psalm 139:13-14a

We experienced for the first time the joy of a baby and the blessing God has given to us. To Him alone be the glory for creating such beauty!!
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Psalm 34:8a

The Supremacy of Jesus Christ

Oh, that the risen, living Christ, therefore, would come to us (even now) by his Spirit and through his Word and reveal to us
—the supremacy of his deity, equal with God the Father in all his attributes—the radiance of his glory and the exact imprint of his nature, infinite, boundless in all his excellencies;
—the supremacy of his eternality that makes the mind of man explode with the unsearchable thought that Christ never had a beginning, but simply always was; sheer, absolute reality while all the universe is fragile, contingent, like a shadow by comparison to his all-defining, ever-existing substance;
—the supremacy of his never-changing constancy in all his virtues and all his character and all his commitments—the same yesterday, today, and forever;
—the supremacy of his knowledge that makes the Library of Congress look like a matchbox, and all the information on the Internet look like a little 1940’s farmers almanac, and quantum physics—and everything Stephen Hawking ever dreamed—seem like a first-grade reader;
—the supremacy of his wisdom that has never been perplexed by any complication and can never be counseled the wisest of men;
—the supremacy of his authority over heaven and earth and hell, without whose permission no man and no demon can move one inch, who changes times and seasons, removes kings and sets up kings; does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; so none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”
—the supremacy of his providence without which not a single bird falls to the ground in the furthest reaches of the Amazon forest, or a single hair of any head turns black or white;
—the supremacy of his word that moment by moment upholds the universe and holds in being all the molecules and atoms and subatomic world we have never yet dreamed of;
—the supremacy of his power to walk on water, cleanse lepers and heal the lame, open the eyes of the blind, cause the deaf to hear and storms to cease and the dead to rise, with a single word, or even a thought;
—the supremacy of his purity never to sin, or to have one millisecond of a bad attitude or an evil, lustful thought;
—the supremacy of his trustworthiness never to break his word or let one promise fall to the ground;
—the supremacy of his justice to render in due time all moral accounts in the universe settled either on the cross or in hell;
—the supremacy of his patience to endure our dullness for decade after decade; and to hold back his final judgment on this land and on the world, that many might repent;
—the supremacy of his sovereign, servant obedience to keep his Father’s commandments perfectly and then embrace the excruciating pain of the cross willingly;
—the supremacy of his meekness and lowliness and tenderness that will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick;
—the supremacy of his wrath that will one day explode against this world with such fierceness that people will call out for the rocks and the mountains to crush them rather than face the wrath of the Lamb;
—the supremacy of his grace that gives life to spiritually dead rebels and wakens faith in hell-bound haters of God, and justifies the ungodly with his own righteousness;
—the supremacy of his love that willingly dies for us even while we were sinners and frees us for the ever-increasing joy in making much of him forever;
—the supremacy of his own inexhaustible gladness in the fellowship of the Trinity, the infinite power and energy that gave rise to all the universe and will one day be the inheritance of every struggling saint;
And if he would grant us to know him like this, it would be but the outskirts of his supremacy. Time would fail to speak of the supremacy of his severity, and invincibility, and dignity, and simplicity, and complexity, and resoluteness, and calmness, and depth, and courage. If there is anything admirable, if there is anything worthy of praise anywhere in the universe, it is summed up supremely in Jesus Christ.

-John Piper

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hymns

A post from my friend, Stephen Bean, that I wanted to share with you all.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Five Reasons I Love Hymns
1. "Nothing in my hand I bring,

Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die."

2. "My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;"

3. "And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?"

4. "Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!"

5. "Here is love, vast as the ocean
Lovingkindness as the flood
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom
Shed for us His precious blood
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten
Throughout Heav'n's eternal days"

Had I not joined a church that sings mostly hymns I would not have learned many of these precious words. I thank God for the many hymn writers of the past who expressed so beautifully truths which make my heart sing. My favorite thing about a good hymn is that much of the stirring of my emotions is done by the lyrics rather than the music.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A word from John Piper

If the Son of God had gone from incarnation to the cross without a life of temptation and pain to test his righteousness and his love, he would not be a suitable Savior for fallen man.
-John Piper (Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
-Philip Bliss

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

He never sought to amuse them!

Jesus pitied sinners, pleaded with them, sighed over them, warned them, and wept over them; but He never sought to amuse them!When many of His disciples turned away, because of the searching nature of His preaching--I do not find there was any attempt to bring them back, by resorting to something more pleasant to the flesh. I do not hear Him saying, "We must keep up the gatherings at any cost! So run after the people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow! Something very short and attractive, with little, if any, preaching. Today was a service for God--but tomorrow we will have a pleasant evening for the people! Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it, and have a pleasant time. Be quick, Peter! We must get the people somehow; if not by Gospel--then by entertainment!"
No, this was not how He argued. Gazing in sorrow on those who would not hear the Word--He simply turns to the twelve, and asks, "Will you go away also?"

Archibald Brown (The Devil's Mission of Amusement)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Does God forget sin?

Does God forget the sins of His children? This question is answered multiple times in Scripture. The writer of Hebrews says, “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12). Then in Jeremiah, God makes a covenant with Israel saying, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). This is God’s promise to His chosen people. He promises to eradicate our sins – past, present and future – and also says He will forget them. “When God forgives, He forgets” (Matthew Henry Concise). How can an all-knowing God forget our sins; the same way he forgives our sins, through the cross of Christ. God knows our sins. He grieves for His children to confess and repent but He promises us “who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him” (Colossians 1:21-22). He set aside our debt nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:14). This is why it pleased the Father to crush His Son (Isaiah 53:10) so you and I may have our sins removed completely. What a great joy to know the God of mercy and grace. He supplies what we need for this life but we need to trust His great promises.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Talking about Wilberforce

This is what we (Christians) should like to the world:

His adversaries complained that "Wilberforce jumped up whenever they knocked him down." One of them in particular put it like this: "It is necessary to watch him as he is blessed with a very sufficient quantity of that Enthusiastic spirit, which is so far from yielding that it grows more vigorous from blows."

Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington, wrote after a meeting with Wilberforce, "You have made me so entirely forget you are a great man by seeming to forget it yourself in all our intercourse."
-John Piper (Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce)