Wednesday, December 30, 2009

10 Questions to Ask in the New Year - Don Whitney

Here is part of a recent blog posting by Don Whitney. In addition to these ten questions he also includes twenty-one more to help us to "consider your ways." To read the whole article – Click Here.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1) What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2) What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3) What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4) In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5) What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6) What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7) For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8) What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9) What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10) What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;
let me find Thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley.

From "The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotion"
edited by Arthur Bennett

What Would Jesus Do With Cellphones?


Saturday, December 26, 2009

What Are You Reading?

Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. (Psalm 111:2)

Recently someone asked me what book I was currently reading. As I began to answer, I realized that at any given time I am working through a number of books at the same time – because I love books and love to read, and also because as a pastor I am continually learning, leading, teaching and mentoring by the means of books. Here is the list of books that I am currently reading through (not including the Bible) :

Broken-Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad by Paul David Tripp (personal reading)
Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray (morning devotions)
Psalm 1-89: The Lord Saves by Eric Lane (morning devotions)
Serious Times: Making Your Life Matter in an Urgent Day by James Emery White (study with elders)
A Few Good Men by Richard Coekin (study with men’s mentoring group and with my son Micah)
A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers by D.A. Carson (study for sermon series)
The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges (study with our small group)
A New Kind of Church by Aubrey Malphurs (study for final credentialing with BGCC)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Sovereignty of God in Jesus Christ

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. (Hebrews 1:3)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Gospel of Relationships

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

Here is a quote from a blog posting by Chris Castaldo regarding evangelism. The context is sharing our faith in Jesus during the Christmas season – but the implication is for everyday life. Chris is telling us what I have been telling people for years – evangelism is first and foremost about relationships – first our relationship with God and then our relationship with others (Mark 12:30-31). To read the whole posting Click Here.

I don’t know about you, but most of my gospel encounters don’t allow for a full-orbed sermon. In a crusade, the goal of the evangelist is to clearly present the entire message and urge someone to make a decision. . . . However, if you define all of evangelism in that way, what happens when you only have two minutes to talk to a colleague beside the water cooler during break? How do you witness to the checkout person in the supermarket, or to a family member who knows what you believe and is utterly disinterested in hearing any more sermons? The answer is—you don’t. You don’t say a thing. We can’t share in that kind of way without completely alienating ourselves; therefore, we don’t share at all. The outcome is the same as hiding our lamp beneath the proverbial table. What we need to learn is how to gradually plant seeds of gospel truth that help people incrementally move one step closer to Christ. Therefore, instead of defining evangelism strictly as a comprehensive presentation of the “full delmonte” (i.e., everything there is to say about salvation) culminating into a Billy-Graham-like invitation, we need to view the incremental efforts of seed planting, which we perform in the course of natural relationships, as not only a legitimate form of evangelism but also a critical method among our loved ones.

Christmas Songs - Tim Hawkins

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Can a Christian Family Be Cursed?

"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (Jesus, from John 15:7)

"Someone asked me if I thought a Christian or a Christian family could be cursed. My answer is this. If the word of God abides in you, you overcome the evil one. No demonic curse can stand against the gracious, liberating, transforming, devil-defeating word of God when it is abiding in our hearts." (John Piper, from the sermon "If My Words Abide in You" - January 4, 2009)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Prayer of Expectation Through Forgiveness

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. (Psalm 25:16-18)

To bring troubles to God is not to give way to despair, it is to exercise faith and hope. It shows not lack of assurance but expectation of great changes.
From “Psalm 25: David Seeks God’s Wise Guidance” in “The Lord Saves” by Eric Lane

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sermon for 2009-12-06 is now uploaded

The sermon audio and manuscript for Sunday 2009-12-06 is in now uploaded and available on this website (Most Recent Sermon or Pastor Leland's Sermons) or on the Arrowsmith Baptist Church website or on podcast through ITunes. Again, sorry for the inconvience.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sermon Audio for 2009-12-06

The sermon audio for Sunday 2009-12-06 is in process. Due to technical issues the initial recording did not work out - and so we are working through an alternate recording to be posted within the next day or so. Sorry for the inconvience.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Health Care or Care for Life?

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)

The Senate voted Tuesday to reject a bipartisan amendment restricting abortion services in the proposed healthcare legislation. The 54 to 45 defeat marked a reversal for pro-life supporters from the victory enjoyed in the House last month on a similar measure. . . .

. . . If the Senate passes a final bill, the healthcare abortion debate would move to the reconciliation process between the Senate and House versions of reform.

Lawmakers from both chambers would have to meet to meld the two versions together. This could get tricky with one bill containing abortion restrictions and the other allowing the public finding of abortion.

If lawmakers decide to keep language expanding abortion coverage, then as many as 40 pro-life House Democrats could remove their support. If lawmakers keep the House-approved abortion restrictions, then pro-abortions senators could balk.

Ironically a bill about health continues to have at its epicenter the debate over a procedure that ends a life.
“Line in the Sand” by Edward Lee Pitts, World Magazine, December 08, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Abide in Christ: As Your Redemption – Andrew Murray

Because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

Christ is made of God unto us redemption. The word invites us to look upon Jesus, not only as He lived on earth, teaching us by word and example, as He died, to reconcile us with God, as He lives again, a victorious King, rising to receive His crown, but as, sitting at the right hand of God, He takes again the glory which He had with the Father, before the world began, and holds it there for us. . . .

We are in Him as such. And the more intelligently and believingly we abide in Him as our redemption, the more shall we experience, even here, of “the power of the world to come.” As our communion with Him becomes more intimate and intense, and we let the Holy Spirit reveal Him to us in His heavenly glory, the more we realize how the life in us is the life of the One who sits upon the throne of heaven. We feel the power of an endless life working in us. We taste the eternal life. We have the foretaste of the eternal glory. . .

The believer who abides in Christ as his full redemption releases even now his spiritual victory over death. It becomes to him the servant that removes the last rags of the old carnal vesture, ere he be clothed upon with the new body of glory. . . . The faith exercise its sanctifying influence in the willing surrender of the sinful members of the body to be mortified and completely subjected to the dominion of the Spirit, as preparation for the time when the frail body shall be changed and fashioned like to His glorious body. . .

This is not meant as a revelation, to the left to the future; for the full development of the Christians life, our present abiding in Christ must seek to enter into and appropriate it. . . We do it as we learn to look upon Christa as the Lord of our body, claiming its entire consecration, securing even here, if faith will claim it, victory over the terrible dominion sin hath had in the body. . . . We do it as we allow the powers of the coming world to possess us, and to lift us up into a life in the heavenly places, to enlarge our hearts and our views, to anticipate, even here, the things which have never entered into the heart of man to conceive. . . .

Believer, abide in Christ as your redemption. Let this be the crown of your Christian life. . . . Abide in Him as your redemption, and live, even here, as the heir of the future glory. . . .

from "Abide in Christ: Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God" by Andrew Murray

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tiger Woods and the Grace of God

"I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. . . I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone." (Tiger Woods - December 2, 2009)

Perception rules over facts in the court of public opinion, and this verdict is going to go against Tiger, no matter what is ultimately revealed. Forget those seven wins he had on the golf course this year. What we're going to remember about Tiger's 2009 is a crashed Cadillac, a $164 citation for careless driving and a betrayed wife. Tiger's image will never be the same. Neither will his life. All we really know for sure is, this was all his fault. (Gary Van Sickle, Sports Illustrated - December 2, 2009)

Sin is an enemy Tiger can’t manage. He can’t shape this story like he does a long iron on a par 5. Tiger doesn’t need a publicity facelift; Tiger needs a Savior. Just like me. And just like you. And if by God’s grace he repents and trusts in the person and work of Christ, Tiger will experience the fruit of God’s promise that “whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Tiger cannot intimidate this enemy like he can Pebble Beach or any of the field of professional golfers. And there is no privacy he can claim from this enemy, regardless of his resolve, his silence, or the name painted on his yacht. It’s likely Tiger only perceives the press hunting him out of a vain “curiosity about public figures.” But Tiger is being hunted and hounded by a far greater foe: the consequences of his sin. And this story should humble and sober us. It should make us ask: Are there any so-called “secret sins” in my life? Is there anything I have done that I hope nobody discovers? Is there anything right now in my life that I should confess to God and the appropriate individuals? And this should leave us more amazed by grace because there, but for the grace of God, go I. (C.J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries Blog - December 3, 2009)

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. (James 4:6-7)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"There Was Darkness Over the Whole Land”

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour . . . Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44, 46)

From The Big Picture “The Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere" near Groom, Texas. Photo by Brad Maule.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Do We Have a Free Will?

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:18-25)

I was asked not long ago if we have a “free will.” I responded by stating that it depends on how one defines the word “free.” The Word of God never tells us that we have absolute freedom outside the boundaries of God’s will. Nor does the Bible tell us we have absolute freedom in the choices and decisions we make according to our own human will.. Because of the depravity of our fallen, sinful nature we are “free” only when we make decisions and choices that are in accordance to God's sovereign and providential will. This is why Jesus said: "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).Thomas Merton said it this way:

The mere ability to choose between good and evil is the lowest limit of freedom, and the only thing that is free about it is the fact that we can still choose good. To the extent that you are free to choose evil, you are not free. An evil choice destroys freedom. We can never choose evil as evil; only as an apparent good. But when we decide to do something that seems to us to be good when it is not really so, we are doing something that we do not really want to do, and therefore we are not really free.

Perfect spiritual freedom is the total inability to make any evil choice.
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:16-18)

Abide in Christ: As Your Sanctification – Andrew Murray

Because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

A superficial acquaintance with God’s plan leads to the view that while justification is God’s work, by faith in Christ, sanctification is our work, to be performed under the influence of the gratitude we feel for the deliverance we have experienced, and by the aid of the Holy Spirit. But the earnest Christian soon finds how little gratitude can supply the power. . . .

Christ is made of God unto us sanctification. Holiness is the very nature of God, and that alone is holy which God takes possession of and fills with Himself. . . . In Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, God’s holiness was revealed incarnate, and brought within the reach of man. . . . There is no other way of our becoming holy, but by becoming partakes of the holiness o Christ. And there is not other way of this taking place than by our personal spiritual union with Him, so that through His Holy Spirit His holy life flows into us. . . . Abiding by faith in Christ our sanctification is the simple secret of a holy life. The measure of sanctification will depend on the measure of abiding in Him; as the soul learns wholly to abide in Christ, the promise is increasingly fulfilled. . . .

. . . if you would live a holy life, abide in Christ your sanctification. . . . Listen when Scripture teaches that there is within you a new nature, a new man, created in Christ Jesus in righteousness and true holiness. . . . believe most confidently that Jesus Christ Himself delights in maintaining that new nature within you, and imparting to it His own strength and wisdom for its work. Let that faith lead you daily to the surrender of all self-confidence, and the confession of the utter corruption of all there is in you by nature. Let it fill you with a quiet and assured confidence that you are indeed able to do what the Father expects of you as His child, under the covenant of His grace, because you have Christ strengthening you. . . Look not upon a life of holiness as strain and an effort, but as the natural outgrowth of the life of Christ within you. . . .

from "Abide in Christ: Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God" by Andrew Murray

Monday, November 23, 2009

He Leadeth Me

He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heavnly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, over troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the victry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Abide in Christ: As Your Righteousness – Andrew Murray

Because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

The righteousness of God, as it becomes ours, is connected with the Person of the Redeemer. . . .

The life and the righteousness are inseparably linked, and the believer becomes more conscious than before of a righteous nature planted within him. . . . The union to Jesus has effected a change not only in the relation to God, but in the personal state before God. And as the intimate fellowship to which the union has opened up the way is maintained, the growing renewal of the whole being makes righteousness to be his very nature. . . .

Abiding in Him personally is the only way to stand, at all times, complete and accepted before God, as it is the only way to realize how the new and righteous nature can be strengthened from Jesus our Head. . . .

Believer, abide in Christ as your righteousness. You bear about with you a nature altogether corrupt and vile, ever seeking to rise up and darken your sense of acceptance, and of access to unbroken fellowship with the Father. Nothing can enable you to dwell and walk in the light of God, without even the shadow of a cloud between, but the habitual abiding in Christ as your righteousness. To this you are called. Seek to walk worthy of that calling. Yield yourself to the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the wonderful grace that permits you to draw night to God, clothed in a divine righteousness. Take time to realize that the King’s own robe has indeed been put on, and that in it you need not fear entering His presence. It is the token that you are the man who the King delights to honour. . . . Live your daily life in the full consciousness of being righteous in God’s sight, an object of delight and pleasure in Christ. . . . So shall your inmost being be transformed into being righteous and doing righteousness. In your heart and life it will become manifest where you dwell; abiding in Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, you will share His position, His character, and His blessedness. . . .

from "Abide in Christ: Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God" by Andrew Murray

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We Do Not Define God’s Love – John Piper

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

We love because he first loved us.
(1 John 4:19)

Abide in Christ: As Your Wisdom - Andrew Murray

Because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

Just as at the creation the light was first called into existence, that in it all God’s other works might have their life and beauty, so in our text wisdom is mentioned first as the treasury in which are to be found the three precious gifts that follow. . . .

And of God you are in Him, and have but to abide in Him to be made partaker of these treasures of wisdom. . . .

The blessings prepared for us in Christ cannot be obtained as special gifts in answer to prayer apart from abiding in Him. . . .

How often have you longed for wisdom and spiritual understanding that you might know God better, whom to know is life eternal! Abide in Jesus; your life in Him will lead you to that fellowship with God in which the only true knowledge of God is to be had. . . . You may not be able to grasp it with the understanding, or to express it in words; but the knowledge which is deeper than thoughts or words will be given – the knowing of God which comes of being known of Him. . . .

Let it be your first care to abide in Him in undivided fervent devotion of heart; when the heart and the life are right, rooted in Christ, knowledge will come in such measure as Christ’s own wisdom sees meet. . . . Man seeks the knowledge first, and often alas! Never gets beyond it. . . . O let us be content to possess Christ, to dwell in Him, to make Him our life, and only in a deeper searching into Him, to search and find the knowledge we desire. . . .

Just as much as you need to know and are capable of apprehending, will be communicated, if you only trust Him. . . .

If you will be trust Him fully, and abide in Him entirely, you can be confident of having unerring guidance. . . . Surrender all your own wisdom; seek a deep conviction of the utter blindness of the natural understanding in the things of God . . . Abiding in Him, His wisdom will come to you as the spontaneous outflowing of a life rooted in Him.

from "Abide in Christ: Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God" by Andrew Murray

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Abide in Christ: God Himself Has United You to Him - Andrew Murray

Because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

"My Father is the vinedresser.” (John 15:1)

The whole Christian life depends on the clear consciousness of our position in Christ. . . .

“Because of him you are in Christ Jesus.” He would have us not only remember our union to Christ, but specially that it is not our own doing, but the work of God Himself. . . . If it is of God alone that I am in Christ, then God Himself, the Infinite One, becomes my security for all I can need or wish in seeking to abide in Christ. . . .

It is of great consequence that the mind should be led to see that at the back of our turning, and believing, and accepting of Christ, there was God’s almighty power doing its work – inspiring our will, taking possession of us, and carrying out its own purpose of love in planting us into Christ Jesus. . . .

The God who has chosen me and planted me in Christ, has thereby engaged to secure, if I will be let Him, by yielding myself to Him, that I in every way be worthy of Christ Jesus. . . .

Oh my soul! Yield yourself to the mighty influence of this word: “Because of him you are in Christ Jesus.” It is the same god of Whom Christ is made all that He is for us, of Whom we also are in Christ, and will most surely be made what we must be to Him. . . .

From eternity Christ and I were ordained for each other; inseparably we belong to each other: it is God’s will; I shall abide in Christ. It is of God I am in Christ Jesus.

from "Abide in Christ: Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God" by Andrew Murray

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Glorious Hope of God's Sovereign Purpose in the Recession

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. (Psalm 46:6)

Chris Isidore,, November 13, 2009

“Most economists agree the U.S. economy is in recovery.”

Joel Belz, World Magazine, November 21, 2009
The terrible recession of 2008-2009 may have been severe, we tend to think, but it's bound to end. Recessions always end. . . . We think that way because deep down, we are all at least a little bit committed to a cyclical view of history. We all have some tendency to think: Everything that goes around comes around. . . . there's a repetitive pattern to history. . . .

. . . Christians need to remember that God's big narrative involves much more than a long series of little overlapping circles. God's grand story is very deliberately headed from Point A, on one end of the canvas, way over to Point B at the other end. Because God is constant and faithful, that story includes a few patterns, to be sure. But it would be a huge mistake to see the God of history as simply doing the same little thing over and over again. He's going somewhere! . . .

Our inclination is to suppose that the question is not whether the current recession will end, but when. But what would happen to our culture if God's response this time to our spendthrift habits were simply to determine that the current recession will continue for the next generation or two? What happens if some of our children spend most of their adult years wandering from one temporary job to another? What will our response be if they never find themselves able to buy their first home?

But only people of small faith reduce their god to a deity who goes in circles. Instead of merely repeating the past, we are headed for something gloriously new and different. God's people should never aim for, or be satisfied with, anything less.

Abide in Christ: As You Came to Him, by Faith - Andrew Murray

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)

Abiding in Jesus can only be by faith. . . . the one daily and unceasing duty of the disciple is to believe, because believing is the one channel through which divine grace and strength flow out into the heart of man. The old nature of the believer remains evil and sinful to the last; it is only as he daily comes, all empty and helpless, to his Saviour to receive of His life and strength, that he can bring forth the fruits of righteousness to the glory of God. . . .

And if you would know how faith is to be exercised in thus abiding in Jesus, to be rooted more deeply and firmly in Him, you have only to look back to the time when first you received Him. . . .

Remember dear soul, how you then were led, contrary to all that your experience, and your feelings, and even your sober judgment said, to take Jesus at His word, and how you were not disappointed. . . . and if He did this for you when you were an enemy and a stranger, what think you, now that you are His own, will He not much more fulfill His promise? . . .

It is the faith that continually closes its eyes to the weakness of the creature, and finds it joy in the sufficiency of an Almighty Saviour, that makes the soul strong and glad. . . . it makes the soul strong with the strength of God, to be and to do all that is needed for abiding in Christ.
from "Abide in Christ: Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God" by Andrew Murray

Friday, November 13, 2009

Abide in Christ: As the Branch in the Vine – Andrew Murray

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

The parable teaches us the nature of that union. The connection between the vine and the branch is a living one. . . . the branch, whether an original or an engrafted one, is such only by the Creator’s own work, in virtue of which the life, the sap, the fatness, and the fruitfulness of the vine communicate themselves to the branch. And just so it is with the believer too. His union with his Lord is no work of human wisdom or human will, but an act of God, by which the close and most complete life-union is effected between the Son of God and the sinner. . . . The same Spirit which dwelt and still dwells in the Son, becomes the life of the believer; in the unity of that one Spirit, and the fellowship of the same life which is in Christ, he is one with Him. As between the vine and branch, it is a life-union that makes them one. . . .

Without the vine the branch can do nothing. To the vine it owes its right of place in the vineyard, its life and its fruitfulness. . . . The believer can each day be pleasing to God only in that which he does through the power of Christ dwelling in him. . . .

Every power of his being, every moment of his life, every thought and feeling, belong to Jesus, that from Him and for Him he may bring forth fruit. . . .

The parable teaches us the object of the union. The branches are for fruit and for fruit alone. . . . It is for fruit, much fruit, that the Father has made us one for Jesus. . . .

How little I have understood how great my need, by also how perfect my claim, to all His fullness! . . . Let me listen and believe, until my whole being cries out, “Jesus is indeed to me the True Vine, bearing me, nourishing me, supplying me, using me, and filling the to the full to make me bring forth fruit abundantly. . .

On my part, abiding is nothing but the acceptance of my position, the consent to be kept there, the surrender of faith to the strong Vine still to hold the feeble branch. Yes, I will, I do abide in Thee, blessed Lord Jesus.
from "Abide in Christ: Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God" by Andrew Murray

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Abide in Christ: Trusting Him to Keep You – Andrew Murray

I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (Philippians 3:12)

Is it possible, a life of unbroken fellowship with the Saviour? . . .

Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us, and through us. It is a work He does for us – the fruit and the power of His redeeming love. Our part is simply to yield, to trust, and to wait for what He has engaged to perform. . . .

The grace to come and the grace to abide are like from Him alone. The word Come, heard, meditated on, accepted, was the cord of love that drew you nigh; that word Abide is even so the band with which He holds you fast and binds you to Himself. . . .

Keep you gaze fixed on Himself, holding you and waiting to lift you up, O say, could you not this very day take the upward step, and rise to enter upon this blessed life of abiding in Christ? . . .

O yield yourself this very day to the blessed Saviour in the surrender of the one thing He asks of you; give up yourself to abide in Him. He Himself will work it in you. You can trust Him to keep you trusting and abiding. . . .

“It is because Jesus has taken hold of me, and because Jesus keeps me, that I dare say: Saviour, I abide in Thee.”
from "Abide in Christ: Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God" by Andrew Murray

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why We Are So Busy - Peter Kreeft

We ought to have much more time, more leisure, than our ancestors did, because technology, which is the most obvious and radical difference between their lives and ours, is essentially a series of time-saving devices.

In ancient societies, if you were rich you had slaves to do the menial work so that you could be freed to enjoy your leisure time. Life was like a vacation for the rich because the poor slaves were their machines. . . .

[But] now that everyone has slave-substitutes (machines), why doesn’t everyone enjoy the leisurely, vacationy lifestyle of the ancient rich? Why have we killed time instead of saving it? . . .

We want to complexify our lives. We don’t have to, we want to. We wanted to be harried and hassled and busy. Unconsciously, we want the very things we complain about. For if we had leisure, we would look at ourselves and listen to our hearts and see the great gaping hold in our hearts and be terrified, because that hole is so big that nothing but God can fill it.

So we run around like conscientious little bugs, scared rabbits, dancing attendance on our machines, our slaves, and making them our masters. We think we want peace and silence and freedom and leisure, but deep down we know that this would be unendurable to us, like a dark and empty room without distractions where we would be forced to confront ourselves. . .

If you are typically modern, your life is like a mansion with a terrifying hole right in the middle of the living-room floor. So you paper over the hole with a very busy wallpaper pattern to distract yourself. You find a rhinoceros in the middle of your house. The rhinoceros is wretchedness and death. How in the world can you hide a rhinoceros? Easy: cover it with a million mice. Multiple diversions.
From “Christianity for Modern Pagans, Pascal’s Pensees Edited, Outlined, and Explained” by Peter Kreeft, pp. 167-169.


Abide in Christ: And You Shall Find Rest to Your Souls - Andrew Murray

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

Rest for the soul: Such was the first promise with which the Saviour sought to win the heavy-laden sinner. . .

First the Saviour says, “Come unto me, and I will give you rest” . . . and so the Saviour repeats His promise, in words which clearly speak not so much of the initial rest with which He welcomes the weary one who comes, but of the deeper and personally appropriated rest of the soul that abides with Him. . . .

Entire surrender to Jesus is the secret of perfect rest. . . . the rest is in Christ, and not something He gives apart from Himself, and so it is only in having Him that the rest really be kept and enjoyed. . . .

The yoke gives the rest,
because the moment the soul yields itself to obey, the Lord Himself gives the strength and joy to do it. . . . These two, consecration and faith, are the essential elements of the Christian life – the giving up all to Jesus, the receiving all from Jesus. They are implied in each other; they are united in the one word – surrender. A full surrender is to obey as well as to trust, to trust as well as to obey. . . .

It is His own work to keep us abiding when we yield ourselves to Him, that we shall venture to cast ourselves into the arms of His love, and abandon ourselves to His blessed keeping. It is not the yoke, but resistance to the yoke, that makes the difficulty; the whole-hearted surrender to Jesus, as at once our Master and our Keeper, finds and secures the rest. . . .

The power and perseverance to abide in the rest, and the blessing in abiding – it belongs to the Saviour to see to this; ‘tis mine to obey, ‘tis His to provide. . . . Abiding in Jesus is nothing but the giving up of oneself to be ruled and taught and led, and so resting in the arms of Everlasting Love.
from "Abide in Christ: Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God" by Andrew Murray

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Abide in Christ: All You Who Have Come to Him - Andrew Murray

Having just finished memorizing John 15:1-12, I am now working through Andrew Murray’s 31 day devotional “Abide in Christ: Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God’ - which is based on John 15:1-12. I will be posting a few quotes from each day on a regular basis. Below is the first day.
Abide in Me: All You Who Have Come To Him

"Come to me . . ." Matthew 11:28)
"Abide in me . . ." (John 15:4)

Observe especially it was not that He said, “Come to me and abide with me,” but, “Abide in me.” The intercourse was not only to be unbroken, but most intimate and complete. He opened His arms, to press you to His bosom; He opened His heart, to welcome you there; He opened up all His divine fullness of life and love, and offered to take you up into its fellowship, and make you wholly with Himself.

. . . Oh, let us enter in and abide, and enjoy to the full all the rich supply His wondrous love hath prepare for us!

Come, my brethren, and let us day by day set ourselves at His feet, and meditate on this word of His, with an eye fixed on Him alone. Let us set ourselves in quiet trust before Him, waiting to hear His holy voice – the still small voice that is mightier than the storm that rends the rocks – breathing its quickening spirit within us, as He speaks, “Abide in me.”

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Beauty of Pain - Joe Eaton

Here is quote by Joe Eaton, a young man who is permanently disabled with spina bifida, posted by John Knight on the volunteer disability ministry blog of Bethlehem Baptist Church. To read the whole article Click Here.

Both pain and pleasure are meant to point us to the same reality; namely, that Jesus Christ is infinitely beautiful and so much more than enough for our every need. Living for Him, even suffering for Him, is worth every moment of affliction! Why? Because Jesus shows you such beauty in pain, because He is there and He is carrying us through.
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Living out the Greatest Commandment

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30)

Oh Lord I come with heart here open,
For in my hour of darkness I'm in need.
Seeking the joy of love unspoken
Oh Lord be Thou near to me.

And the holy voices sing “Hallelu!”
Ever will Thy reign be.
As I wander through this life,
Oh Lord, be Thou near to me.

Though in this burden of my making
Yet in the shadows still a light I see
Maker whose love is not forsaking
Oh Lord be thou near to me.

And the holy voices sing “Hallelu!”
Ever will Thy reign be.
As I wander through this life,
Oh Lord, be Thou near to me.

And the holy voices sing “Hallelu!”
Ever will Thy reign be.
As I wander through this life,
Oh Lord, be Thou near to me.

Oh Lord
Be thou near
To me

Saturday, October 31, 2009

God and Football

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, front, celebrates a touchdown with Chester Taylor during the first half of a game against the Green Bay Packers on Monday, Oct. 5, 2009. The graying quarterback connected for three touchdown passes and 271 yards in a 30-23 victory.

In view of the big football game tomorrow between the second meeting of Vikings and Packers - here is a recent post from Time magazine regarding God and professional football, specifically focusing in on the chaplains of each team and how they work. Here is a quote:

"The popular perception of Christianity in America, prior to the last 10 to 15 years, has been that being a Christian meant you were soft — you were considered weak, kind of a pushover," says Pastor Trapp. "You're the guy who was going to turn the other cheek. But you read in the Bible that some of those guys were brash and bold and forceful but still had a heart and a desire for God."
To read the whole article Click Here.

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:11-16)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why Our Hearts Are Restless

God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.
from Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Power of Personal Prayer

"The point of prayer is shifting control to God."

from “A Praying Life” by Paul E. Miller

"The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."

from Romans 8:26-27 by the apostle Paul

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Power of Prayer in Conviction

But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. (2 Corinthians 13:7)

October 20, 2009 - Channel 6 News, Indianapolis, Indiana

A man who police said was involved in a bizarre robbery in which he hugged and prayed with a frightened store clerk turned himself in after his mother saw him on TV. Indianapolis police Lt. Jeff Duhamell said Gregory Smith, 23, had a gun when he went to the Advance America Store in the 900 block of East Washington Street Monday. Police said Smith jumped behind the counter and pointed a gun at the female clerk, but then became remorseful when she began crying and talking about God. "He, at that time, starts to basically console her," said Indianapolis police Detective Kevin Wethington.

Police said the robber told the clerk that he hated to do it, but times are hard and he has a 2-year-old child to support. Surveillance video showed the clerk praying with the robber, who even went so far as to hug the frightened female clerk. "They were actually praying at this point about the decisions that he's making," Wethington said. When the clerk pleaded with the gunman not to shoot her, police said he made a shocking gesture to put her at ease. "He reaches down, hands her the bullet out of his gun," Wethington said.

After 30 minutes of conversation with the clerk, the robber grabbed about $20 from the register and the clerk's cell phone before he left, investigators said. Smith was expected to be charged with robbery.

Why We Should Read the Bible - Eugene Peterson

We do not read this book and the subsequent writings that are shaped by it in order to find out how to get God into our lives, get him to participate in our lives. No. We open this book and find that page after page it takes us off guard, surprises us, and draws us into its reality, pulls us into participation with God on his terms. (from Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson, pg 6)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Laughing at Sin

A few weeks ago John Piper spoke at a conference for the American Association of Christian Counselors. When you click here to hear the message - listen closely to the first five minutes. Dr. Piper shared some of the deepest and most prevailing sins that he has struggled with his entire life – and the audience laughed! What happened is that over the course of a couple of days, those attended the conference had been trained to expect humor from the speakers - to the point that they were incapable of knowing when someone was being serious in their confession of sin to them.

One of the greatest (and the least addressed) issues I have observed in the church is that often the “joy of the Lord” has been dumbed down” to mean a shallow, light-hearted, childlike silliness, rather than a serious and heavy joy that is rooted deep in our souls. Those of you who know me know I am surely not against laughter – but I have observed that when humor and levity become the foundation of our joy in God it becomes difficult to be dearly serious about sin – and then even more difficult to be serious (and truly joyful) about our relationship with God.

We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:8-10)

10 Lifetime Leadership Lessons - Chuck Swindoll

1) It’s lonely to lead. Leadership involves tough decisions. The tougher the decision, the lonelier it is.
2) It’s dangerous to succeed. I’m most concerned for those who aren’t even 30 and are very gifted and successful. Sometimes God uses someone right out of youth, but usually he uses leaders who have been crushed
3) It’s hardest at home. No one ever told me this in Seminary.
4) It’s essential to be real. If there’s one realm where phoniness is common, it’s among leaders. Stay real.
5) It’s painful to obey. The Lord will direct you to do some things that won’t be your choice. Invariably you will give up what you want to do for the cross.
6) Brokenness and failure are necessary.
7) Attitude is more important than actions. Your family may not have told you: some of you are hard to be around. A bad attitude overshadows good actions.
8) Integrity eclipses image. Today we highlight image. But it’s what you’re doing behind the scenes.
9) God's way is better than my way.
10) Christlikeness begins and ends with humility.

From DD

Friday, October 9, 2009

What Obama Should Do With His Nobel Peace Prize

They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. (Jeremiah 6:14)

"For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

Here is an excerpt from a posting this morning by Mickey Klaus regarding Barack Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. To read the whole posting Click Here.

What Obama Should Do With His Nobel Peace Prize

Turn it down! Politely decline. Say he's honored but he hasn't had the time yet to accomplish what he wants to accomplish. Result: He gets at least the same amount of glory--and helps solve his narcissism problem and his Fred Armisen ('What's he done?') problem, demonstrating that he's uncomfortable with his reputation as a man overcelebrated for his potential long before he's started to realize it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

David Letterman, Guilt and the Gospel - Russell Moore

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death." (Revelation 12:10-11)

Here is an excerpt a blog posting called “What David Letterman Can Teach Us About the Gospel” By Russell Moore. To read the whole post Click Here.

David Letterman said the accusations bothered him because he’s a “tower of Midwestern Lutheran guilt.” But there’s nothing particularly Midwestern or Lutheran about it. It’s a signal of a conscience that points to judgment. But it could also point to the One who has borne all the penalty due at judgment, including the public humiliation of being caught. We’ve all been there.

Let’s remember the gospel, and learn from Dave Letterman how scary blackmail can be. As the accusations come at us, let’s acknowledge the truth of the satanic claims. Let’s find ourselves in Jesus. And let’s point to a bloody cross and an empty tomb where those accusations were verified and crucified.

Poor David Letterman. This extortion is nothing like the one he, and billions more, are facing from a threatening presence who can’t be indicted by a New York grand jury. Let’s pray for him, and plead with those like him in our neighborhood and in cities and villages all around the world, as we remember what it’s like to be that scared.

And let’s remember not to be paralyzed by cosmic blackmail. The satanic powers have the evidence against us; yes, they do. But every accusation comes before an Advocate with a still conscience in his chest, scabbed-over spike-marks in his hands, and a crushed snake skull at his feet.

The satanic accusations are usually true. They wouldn’t bring them up if they weren’t. But if Christ Jesus is raised from the dead (and he is) then they can’t paralyze us anymore.

Defining Legalism – Eugene Peterson

Imagine yourself moving into a house with a huge picture window overlooking a grand view across a wide expanse of water enclosed by a range of snow capped mountains. You have a ringside seat before wild storms and cloud formations, the entire spectrum of sun-illuminated colors in the rocks and trees and wildflowers and water. You are captivated by the view. Several times a day you interrupt your work and stand before this window to take in the majesty and the beauty, thrilled with the botanical and meteorological fireworks. One afternoon you notice some bird droppings on the window glass, get a bucket of water and a towel, and clean it. A couple of days later a rainstorm leaves the window streaked, and the bucket comes out again. Another day visitors come with a tribe of small dirty-fingered children. The moment they leave you see all the smudge-marks on the glass. They are hardly out the door before you have the bucket out. You are so proud of that window, and it’s such a large window. But it’s incredible how many different ways foreign objects can attach themselves to that window, obscuring the vision, distracting from the contemplative beauty. Keeping that window clean develops into an obsessive-compulsive neurosis. You accumulate ladders and buckets and squeegees. You construct a scaffolding both inside and out to make it possible to get to all the difficult corners and heights. You have the cleanest window in North America – but it’s now been years since you looked through it. You’ve become a Pharisee.

From “The Jesus Way” by Eugene Peterson, page 211.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Favorite Quotes from My Vacation to the U.S.

Sam Storms at the Desiring God 2009 National Conference quoting a letter John Calvin wrote to the wife of one of the Reformation leaders in France who was experiencing physical illness . . .

"They [our physical afflictions] should serve us as medicine to purge us from worldly affections and remove what is superfluous in us. And since they are to us the messengers of death, we ought to learn to have one foot raised to take our departure when it shall please God."

One of our relatives from Louisiana describing how his trees looked after Hurricane Katrina went through his neighborhood . . .


Julius Kim at the Desiring God 2009 National Conference . . .

"The worship of the church has become a feel-good experience rather than the meeting of the holy God of the universe. Exciting music has become the new sacrament mediating the presence of God and his grace."

My wife Nancy’s Aunt Sis describing someone she knew who could not sit still . . .

“You couldn’t play checkers on his shirt tale.”

Doug Wilson at the Desiring God 2009 National Conference . . .

"In his preachers Christ is discharging his office. What should we expect when we come to hear the word of God proclaimed? That we would hear his own words and, in a sense, see God himself speaking to us. That is the purpose and intention of preaching, not to compete with Scripture, but to be the platform from which God's word in Scripture is proclaimed. This is why pulpit ministry has to be grounded in the Scriptures, in exposition. The minister should not deviate from what is assigned him. One of the things my father taught me about preaching was, "When you run out of things to say, go on to the next verse."

. . . The preacher is to preach what was written before he ever existed, as a herald and as an ambassador, and not to point to himself in any way. A minister is not up there to develop a relationship with everybody individually. He is there to declare something that is outside of his control. He's not there to preach himself but Christ."

A conversation between myself and my wife sitting behind me in a van while we are driving . . .

Question (Leland): “Do you want to use Jennifer’s cell-phone?”

Answer (Nancy): “I don’t know where to put my knees!!!”

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blog Sabbatical

I am beginning a blog sabbatical for the remainder of the month of September. Blessings!

"I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable." (Psalm 145:1-3)

(picture is of the Butterfly Nebula)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Last Day Matters Most - Mark Driscoll

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (2 Peter 3:1-7)

12th Annual Wacky Warning Label Contest Winner

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Corinthians 1:20)

Here are a few other real wacky warning labels:

Sign at Railroad Station - Beware! To touch these wires is instant death. Anyone found doing so will be prosecuted.
Hammer - Caution: Do not use this hammer to strike any solid object.
Coffee Cup - Caution: Hot beverages are hot!
Laser Pointer - Do not look into laser with remaining eye.
Curling Iron - For external use only!
Christmas lights - For indoor or outdoor use only.
Ray-O-Vac Renewal AA Batteries - If swallowed or lodged in ear or nose see doctor.
Fire Alarm System - There shall be three (3) access levels with level 4 being the highest level.
Rowenta Iron - Warning! Never iron clothes on the body.
Sainsbury's Peanuts - Warning: contains nuts
Heated Seat Cushion - Warning: Do not use on eyes.
Sleeping Pill Prescription - Warning: drug may cause sleepiness.
Rat Poison - Warning: has been found to cause cancer in laboratory mice.
Frisbee- Warning: May contain small parts.
Silly Putty - WARNING: Not for use as earplugs.
Baby Stroller - Warning: Remove child before folding baby stroller.
Curling Iron - Warning: This product can burn eyes.
Fritos - You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.

The Greatness of Humble Servanthood

Last Sunday morning (August 30th) the Spirit of God was clearly active in the hearts of many in our church family at Arrowsmith; there were a number of people who came forward after the message, and many shared with me that they had responded in their hearts. I am always greatly humbled to somehow be involved when God powerfully moves and works in the hearts and lives of His people. Yesterday I found out that last Sunday John Piper and I had both preached from the same text - Mark 10:32-45 (I also added verses 46-52). While our emphasis was somewhat different – the foundational concepts of greatness, humility servanthood were the same. Here are a few quotes from Dr. Piper’s sermon – Click here to read/listen/watch the whole thing.

Humility agrees and is glad that this servanthood is true greatness. Verses 43-44: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” So to sum up,

1. Humility is glad that God gets all the credit for choosing us so that we boast only in him and not man.
2. Humility happily admits that everything we have is a free gift from God, so that we can’t boast in it.
3. Humility is glad to affirm that God sovereignly governs our heartbeats and safe arrivals, or non-arrivals.
4. The root of Christian humility is the gospel that Christ died for our sins. That’s how sinful I was. That’s how dependent I am.
5. Humility gives itself away in serving everyone, rather than seeking to be served.
6. And humility is glad to affirm that this service is true greatness.

If God would work this humility in us—O how freely we would serve each other. One of the reasons I am praying and preaching toward humility is that the church survives and thrives by servanthood. Every member of Christ is gifted in someway to serve. . . .

My point here is that without humility we won’t serve, or we will serve for the wrong reasons. It seems almost impossible to overstate how pervasive are the effects of humility in our lives. . . .

Gospel humility frees you from the need to posture and pose and calculate what others think, so that you are free to laugh at what is really funny with the biggest belly laugh. Proud people don’t really let themselves go in laughter. They don’t get red in the face and fall off chairs and twist their faces into the contortions of real free laughter. Proud people need to keep their dignity. The humble are free to howl with laughter. . . .

Gospel humility, grace-based humility, Jesus-exalting humility does not make you gloomy, or timid, or passive. It makes you joyful, and courageous and industrious.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Sovereign Light of Our Darkness

For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. (Psalm 18:28)

Surprised by Marriage - Paul Tripp

On Sunday evening October 4th our church will begin the process of going through the DVD conference series "What Did You Expect - Redeeming the Realities of Marriage" by Dr. Paul David Tripp. Leading up to that time I will posting a few videos on a regular basis by Paul Tripp explaining some of the concepts he speaks about throughout the series. Note: these are not part of the DVD conference we will be going through.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Heavenly Father, if I should suffer need, and go unclothed,
and be in poverty, make my heart prize Thy love,
know it, be constrained by it, though I be denied all blessings.
It is Thy mercy to afflict and try me with wants,
for by these trials I see my sins, and desire severance from them.
Let me willingly accept misery, sorrows, temptations,
if I can thereby feel sin as the greatest evil,
and be delivered from it with gratitude to Thee,
acknowledging this as the highest testimony of Thy love.
When thy Son, Jesus, came into my soul instead of sin
He became more dear to me than sin had formerly been;
His kindly rule replaced sin's tyranny.

Teach me to believe that if ever I would have any sin subdued
I must not only labour to overcome it,
but must invite Christ to abide in the place of it,
and He must become to me more than vile lust had been;
that His sweetness, power, life may be there.
Thus I must seek a grace from Him contrary to sin,
but must not claim it apart from Himself.

When I am afraid of evils to come,
comfort me by showing me that in myself I am a dying,
condemned wretch, but in Christ I am reconciled and live;
that in myself I find insufficiency and no rest,
but in Christ there is satisfaction and peace;
that in myself I am feeble and unable to do good,
but in Christ I have ability to do all things.

Though now I have His graces in part,
I shall shortly have them perfectly in that state
where Thou wilt show Thyself fully reconciled,
and alone sufficient, efficient, loving me completely, with sin abolished.

O Lord, hasten that day.

From "The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotion"
edited by Arthur Bennett

Eternal Life = Political Death

"I know that voting against the healthcare bill will probably be the death of my political career, but I have To live with myself, and I always reflect on the phrase of the New Testament, 'How does it profit a man’s life to gain the whole world but to lose his soul.'”

U.S. Representative Anh “Joseph” Cao, Republican from Louisiana


Friday, August 28, 2009

The Nature of Humanity – Charles Spurgeon

I daresay you have heard people use pretty phrases about the dignity of human nature, and so on. They are lying phrases; for human nature is as bad as it can be. If you want the proof of that assertion, behold how God himself came here among men, incarnate virtue robed in love! Did men love him? Did they fall down before him and do him homage? The homage of the world was, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ The world hates virtue; it cannot bear perfection; it might endure benevolence, but absolute purity and righteousness it cannot, away with. Its native instincts are wrong; it is not towards the light that men are going, their backs are to the sun, they are journeyinng into the thick of darkness. (The Crisis of This World by Charles Spurgeon)


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Brian Regan and the Eye Doctor

Here is another video of my family's favorite comedian. Enjoy!

An Unassisted Triple Play!

One of the most of rare events in sporting history happened today. Second baseman Eric Bruntlett turned an unassisted triple play to end the Philadelphia Phillies' wild 9-7 victory over the New York Mets. It was the 15th unassisted triple play in major league history - the second that ended a game. With runners on first and second in the ninth inning, Jeff Francoeur hit a line drive up the middle that appeared headed toward center field for a single. But both runners were stealing on the pitch, so Bruntlett was in perfect position as he moved over to cover second base. He caught the liner easily, stepped on second to double up Luis Castillo and then turned to tag Daniel Murphy for the third out. Murphy tried to backpedal away from Bruntlett, but had nowhere to go. To watch the video - Click Here.

What I like most about this is that Brunlett had made two bad plays in the inning beforehand - and the unassisted triple play pretty much wiped those from people's memory. Reminds me of what God has done in my own life: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Divine Justice Beyond Lockerbie

Last Wednesday Scotland released Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the terrorist from Libya who had been serving a life sentence for murdering 270 people by blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, two decades ago – because he has terminal prostate cancer. There is understandably a great deal of outcry against his release – especially from the families who lost loved ones in the tragedy, most are from the United States.

When asked why he could permit such an injustice, Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said this:

Our justice system demands that judgment be imposed but compassion available. Our beliefs dictate that justice be served but mercy be shown. . . .

The evidence I have from the director of Health and Social Care for Scottish Prison Services, and it's his advice along with that of the prison governor, and indeed of other relevant bodies of Scotland, it's the prognosis that he's since deteriorated. It says now that he has less than three months to live. I'm obliged to accept that. I'm not medically qualified, I do not challenge it. And what I accept is that he is a dying man. I can't change that. That verdict has been brought upon to him by a higher power. But I am prepared to stand up for the values we hold as a people of Scotland not to lower them, not to debase them, not to live in a manner which others seek to do. We've brought him to judgment, but we allow him to go home to die.
Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi’s punishment may have just ended in Scotland, but it will only just begin when he leaves this earth: "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Tornado, the Lutherans, and Homosexuality - John Piper

I saw the fast-moving, misshapen, unusually-wide funnel over downtown Minneapolis from Seven Corners. I said to Kevin Dau, “That looks serious.”

It was. Serious in more ways than one. A friend who drove down to see the damage wrote,
On a day when no severe weather was predicted or expected...a tornado forms, baffling the weather experts—most saying they’ve never seen anything like it. It happens right in the city. The city: Minneapolis.

The tornado happens on a Wednesday...during the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's national convention in the Minneapolis Convention Center. The convention is using Central Lutheran across the street as its church. The church has set up tents around it’s building for this purpose.
According to the ELCA’s printed convention schedule, at 2 PM on Wednesday, August 19, the 5th session of the convention was to begin. The main item of the session: “Consideration: Proposed Social Statement on Human Sexuality.” The issue is whether practicing homosexuality is a behavior that should disqualify a person from the pastoral ministry.

The eyewitness of the damage continues:
This curious tornado touches down just south of downtown and follows 35W straight towards the city center. It crosses I94. It is now downtown.

The time: 2PM.

The first buildings on the downtown side of I94 are the Minneapolis Convention Center and Central Lutheran. The tornado severely damages the convention center roof, shreds the tents, breaks off the steeple of Central Lutheran, splits what’s left of the steeple in two...and then lifts.
Let me venture an interpretation of this Providence with some biblical warrant.
1. The unrepentant practice of homosexual behavior (like other sins) will exclude a person from the kingdom of God.
The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? 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)
2. The church has always embraced those who forsake sexual sin but who still struggle with homosexual desires, rejoicing with them that all our fallen, sinful, disordered lives (all of us, no exceptions) are forgiven if we turn to Christ in faith.

Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)
3. Therefore, official church pronouncements that condone the very sins that keep people out of the kingdom of God, are evil. They dishonor God, contradict Scripture, and implicitly promote damnation where salvation is freely offered.

4. Jesus Christ controls the wind, including all tornados.
Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? (Mark 4:41)
5. When asked about a seemingly random calamity near Jerusalem where 18 people were killed, Jesus answered in general terms—an answer that would cover calamities in Minneapolis, Taiwan, or Baghdad. God’s message is repent, because none of us will otherwise escape God’s judgment.

Jesus: “Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4-5)
6. Conclusion: The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.


Let There Be Light!

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)

As a magnifying glass concentrates the rays of the sun into a little burning knot of heat that can set fire to a dry leaf or a piece of paper, so the mystery of Christ in the Gospel concentrates the rays of God’s light and fire to a point that sets fire to the spirit of man. . . .

God is everywhere. His truth and His love pervade all things as the light and the heat of the sun pervade our atmosphere. But just as the rays of the sun do not set fire to anything by themselves, so God does not touch our souls with the fire of supernatural knowledge and experience without Christ.

But the glass of Manhood seeks out spirits that are well prepared, dried by the light and warmth of God, and ready to take flame in the little knot of fire that is the grace of the Holy Ghost.

by Thomas Merton, “New Seeds of Contemplation”, pp 150-151.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Enmity Between the Snake and Fallen Humanity

The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)

"Where two or three are gathered in my name . . . "

This is quite a stretch from the point Jesus was making - but the dog sure does seem to be into it.

Sin: Looking at our own wrong and seeing good

Sin lives in a costume; that's why it's so hard to recognize. The fact that sin looks so good is one of the things that make it so bad. In order for it to do its evil work, it must present itself as something that is anything but evil. Life in a fallen world is like attending the ultimate masquerade party. Impatient yelling wears the costume of a zeal for truth. Lust can masquerade as a love for beauty. Gossip does its evil work by living in the costume of concern and prayer. Craving for power and control wears the mask of biblical leadership. Fear of man gets dressed up as a servant heart. The pride of always being right masquerades as a love for biblical wisdom. Evil simply doesn't present itself as evil, which is part of its draw. You'll never understand sin's sleight of hand until you acknowledge that the DNA of sin is deception. Now, what this means personally is that as sinners we are all very committed and gifted self-swindlers. … We're all too skilled at looking at our own wrong and seeing good.

Paul David Tripp, "Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy", p. 32