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