Monday, January 31, 2011

My Master is Good

My Master is good,
I shall not want (Psalm 23:1)
He quenches my deepest thirsts (John 6:35)
He satisfies my deepest longings (Psalm 63:5)
My soul finds rest in Him alone (Psalm 62)
He is my portion (Psalm 73:26)
My Master is good,
I shall not be anxious (Phil. 4:6)
For He supplies my every need (Phil. 4:19)
His timing is perfect (Isaiah 46:11)
He gives me peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7)
His love is better than life (Psalm 63:3)
My Master is good,
He has not left me alone (John 14:26)
For His Spirit indwells me (Romans 8:9)
And applies the power of the Gospel (Romans 8:11)
Despite my stubbornness
My Master is good,
He prepares a table for me (Psalm 23:5)
His Spirit graciously provides me with its fruit (Galatians 5:22-25)
He leads my in paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3)
And when I wander
He gently draws me back again
My Master is good,
Even in my weakness (Romans 8:26)
His Spirit intercedes for me,
He is working for my ultimate good (Romans 8:28)
My Master is good,
Through life's worst storms
He is an unshakeable fortress (Psalm 62:2)
A refuge for my soul (Psalm 18:2)
A deep calm (Luke 8:24)
Fatherly protection from the blast
My Master is good,
When my soul is downcast (Psalm 42:5)
He restores the joy of His salvation (Psalm 51:12)
And makes my heart glad (Psalm 92:4)
My soul delights in God! (Isaiah 61:10)
My Master is good,
When my restless heart clings to dear idols
He lovingly convicts me
And shows me the infinite worth and treasure that Christ is (2 Corinthians 4:16)
My Master is good,
When the enemy condemns me (Romans 8:33)
And my soul lies in guilt and shame,
He reminds me that the debt was paid (Romans 3:24-25)
And that there is no more condemnation (Romans 8:1)
My Master is good,
When I return to the shackles of sin
He reminds me that Christ has defeated Sin (Romans 6:22)
And I am no longer a slave, But a Son (Ephesians 1:5)
I am united to Christ (Romans 6:5)
I am free (John 8:32)
My Master is good,
When I was blind, He gave me sight (Mark 10:52)
When I was lost, He found me (Luke 15:4)
When I was an outsider
He brought me in (Luke 15:2)
My Master is good,
When I hated Him, (Romans 3:10-18)
He loved me, (Romans 5:8)
When I was His enemy,
He died to reconcile me to the Himself (Romans 5:10)
When I deserved His wrath and punishment (Romans 3:23)
He left His throne and took the sting of God's wrath on the Cross (Romans 3:25)
So that I might know Him
He has loved the loveless
He has given life to the perishing.
My Master is good,
He has died for a sinner (Romans 5:8)
So that I may call Him Master

Friday, January 28, 2011

Grace Restoring Nature

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." John 3:17

"The whole world, then, has been given over to corruption through sin, but through grace it is also being saved in its entirety from sin"

Jan Veenhof

"It is grace alone. And this grace does not abolish nature, but affirms and restores it."

Herman bavinck

"So Christianity did not come into the world to condemn and put under the ban of everything that existed beforehand and elsewhere, but quite the opposite, to purify from sin everything that was; and thus to cause it to answer again to its own nature and purpose."

Herman Bavinck

For the most part, my thoughts about God's restoring grace are way to small and limited. I usually think of God's grace in a personal, individualistic sense. Jesus came to save ME. Well, this is true, that Jesus' death and resurrection secure my individual justification with God. However, Jesus doesn't just save us as individuals and leave the rest to waste. Jesus came that the WORLD might be saved through him. If sin's corruption has stretched to every sphere of life, God's restoring grace stretches as far as the curse is found. God created the world. By nature, God's creation is good. But, every part of the world has been corrupted by sin. Therefore, Jesus came to restore God's creation to its original nature and purpose. God's restoring grace is way bigger than just me.

Without Beginning and Without End

"As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD
is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him,"

Psalm 103:15-17

"How vast the contrast between the fading flower and the everlasting God! How wonderful that His mercy should link our frailty with HIs eternity and make us everlasting too! From old eternity the LORD viewed His people as objects of mercy, and as such chose them to become partakers of His grace; the doctrine of eternal election is most delightful to those who have light to see it and love wherewith to accept it. It is a theme for deepest thought and highest joy"

Charles Spurgeon

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Degree of God's Forgiveness

All taken from Psalm 103.

"who forgives ALL your iniquity,
who heals ALL your diseases,
who redeems YOUR LIFE from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who SATISFIES you with good"

The forgiveness we have in Christ is complete. It is not partial. In the Gospel, ALL our sins are forgiven, not just some. ALL our diseases are healed, we are not partially restored. OUR WHOLE LIFE is redeemed from the pit, and God truly satisfies us. He does not do 99% of the work then leave it up to us to earn forgiveness. He does not merely give us the remedy for our diseases in hope that we use it correctly. He does not reach his hand down into the pit in hopes that we grab it. Rather, He did what we could have never done. He accomplished our forgiveness at the Cross. He restores our wounds by His touch. He saw our helpless souls, dead to sin, lying in the pit, and in His infinite mercy reached down and pulled us up. He doesn't give us fake satisfaction as the pleasures of the world do, but He is the bread of life, who can truly satisfy the souls of men. More so, he laid down His life so that we could receive him.

And to what degree is this forgiveness?

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him." --Psalm 103:11-13

"But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him"
Psalm 103:17

David gives 4 examples to measure God's love and forgiveness to His people. As with the first verses we read, none of them are partial. They aren't quantitative. They are infinite, eternal, and unconditional. His steadfast love reaches as high as the heavens. Our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west. His compassion is compared to a Father's love for a child. Lastly, his steadfast love is said to be from everlasting to everlasting. So, how far are the heavens above the earth, or far is the east from the west. Immeasurable. Infinite. If our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west, they are NO MORE. In the words of Charles Spurgeon, "If this be the distance of its removal, there is no shade of fear of its ever being brought back again."

The LORDS love to His covenant people is forever. It is complete. It is eternal. He is faithful. My only response is to echo David in saying
"Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless His holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all His benefits"

Psalm 103:1-2

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Makes us Disciples?

What really makes us disciples of Christ?

Some might say it is primarily
  • acting in obedience to God (going/serving in church)
  • having the right doctrine
  • having the right feelings toward God (experience)
  • trying hard to follow God
These are all connected to true discipleship, but fail to get at the core of what being an actual disciple of Christ is. The core of what makes us a disciple is the Life of God in the soul of man. Many (I dare to say most) people who consider themselves Christians, consider themselves as such because they are generally "good" people and "try hard to obey". However, these notions of what it means to be a disciple deflate the reality of John 3:3 that "unless they are born again, they can't see the kingdom of God." The Gospel of Jesus Christ demands change. It is impossible to come to any true knowledge of God without a complete overhaul of one's nature. That's why being a disciple is more than just trying hard and attempting to be obedient to God's commands. We can't change ourselves and our attempts to do so always fail. We are only made disciples by the Life of God taking root in our souls, thus causing us to be born again.

The Apostle Paul writes, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ..." (2 Corinthians 5:17). We see here, that this new life is only given by God. Moreover, this new life is supernaturally given through Christ. We are reconciled to God through our union with Christ. The only way for us to have a complete overhaul of our nature, and thus become disciples, is by Christ supernaturally causing us to be born again into new creations through His power, manifested in His law fulfilling life, sin defeating death, and life giving resurrection.

In other words, being united to Christ is what makes us His disciples. Not human effort, not behavior modification, and not a warm fuzzy feeling. It is the supernatural indwelling of God in the soul of the believer. This is called union with Christ, and it is the grounds for our
  • Justification: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" Romans 8:1
  • Sanctification: "and from him you yourselves are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom for us from God, and righteosness and sanctification and redemption." 1 Corinthians 1:30
  • New Life: "But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness." Romans 8:10
  • Glorification: "God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by His power" 1 Corinthians 6:14
"Because I live, you also will live. In that day, you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you." --John 14:20

Monday, January 24, 2011

Partnership in the Gospel

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God."

Philippians 1:1-11

The last few days I've had the opportunity to spend a few days back home in Wheaton. One of the highlights of being back is the chance to connect with some dear friends the Lord has blessed me with. Reading the 1st chapter of Philippians, I really resonate with these first 11 verses. The reason these friendships are such a joy, is that we are all sharing in the same mission (partners for the Gospel) and sharing in the same grace (tasting the same Gospel sweetness). It pumps me up to hear how God is at work in transforming us through the power of the Gospel. Talking with my brothers, I always leave, overwhelmed at God's infinite goodness, that he would redeem a bunch of rag-tag sinners, give us new hearts, and use us for His purposes. More so, He uses us collectively, as partners in the Gospel and in community to accomplish His purposes. My heart rejoices in thankfulness for the gift these brothers are to me. What a beautiful display of God's glorious grace, shown through the gift of Gospel-centered friendships. I can't wait to do life and serve in the ministry with these guys.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

That a People May Praise the LORD

"Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD: 'The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death'"

Psalm 102:19-20

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins"

Ephesians 1: 3-7

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death"

Romans 8: 1-2

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saying What You Believe is Clearer Than Saying "Calvinist"

Per John Piper, The Gospel Coalition

"We are Christians. Radical, full-blooded, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, God-centered, mission-advancing, soul-winning, church-loving, holiness-pursing, sovereignty-savoring, grace-besotted, broken-hearted, happy followers of the omnipotent, crucified Christ. At least that’s our imperfect commitment.

In other words, we are Calvinists. But that label is not nearly as useful as telling people what you actually believe! So forget the label, if it helps, and tell them clearly, without evasion or ambiguity, what you believe about salvation.

If they say, “Are you a Calvinist?” say, “You decide. Here is what I believe . . .”

I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 3:1–4; Romans 8:7).

I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7)

I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners to provide a bona fide offer of salvation to all people, and that he had an invincible design in his death to obtain his chosen bride, namely, the assembly of all believers, whose names were eternally written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. (John 3:16; John 10:15; Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 13:8)

When I was dead in my trespasses, and blind to the beauty of Christ, God made me alive, opened the eyes of my heart, granted me to believe, and united me to Jesus, with all the benefits of forgiveness and justification and eternal life. (Ephesians 2:4–5; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Philippians 2:29; Ephesians 2:8–9; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:7; Philippians 3:9)

I am eternally secure not mainly because of anything I did in the past, but decisively because God is faithful to complete the work he began—to sustain my faith, and to keep me from apostasy, and to hold me back from sin that leads to death. (1 Corinthians 1:8–9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:25; John 10:28–29; 1 John 5:16)

Call it what you will, this is my life. I believe it because I see it in the Bible. And because I have experienced it. Everlasting praise to the greatness of the glory of the grace of God!"

Friday, January 21, 2011

What Do You Rejoice In?

"What you rejoice in is the thing that is your central sweetness and consolation in life. To rejoice is to treasure a thing, to assess its value to you, to reflect on its beauty and importance until your heart rests in it and tastes the sweetness of it."

Tim Keller

What do you rejoice in? The Bible says we are to 'rejoice' and 'delight' in God. Sometimes I wonder why it often so hard for me to do this. It is far easier for me to get excited, and treasure watching my favorites athlete (Derrick Rose) take over a game in the 4th quarter and lead his team to victory. I have no problem delighting in earning good grades, or having a good time with friends. This sunday, I will be quick to rejoice when the Bears score. But why is it so hard for me to delight in God? Why is reading the Bible more like pulling teeth than it is a joyful delight. Why am I more drawn and enamored with stuff instead of God and His Word. Why do I often times delight in trivial 'things' more than God.

At a fundamental level, it is because I do not fully believe the Gospel. I think Tim Keller's quote hits the nail on the head. We delight in something because it is valuable to us, because we have assessed it's beauty and treasure it. If this is true, the reason I don't delight in God is that I have failed to properly assess God's value and the true treasure that He is. I have failed to see the beauty of the Gospel. In my few moments of Gospel sanity, when for a moment, I taste the overwhelming goodness of the Father expressed through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on my behalf, in those moments, I am apt to delight in God. During those glimpses of grace (shout out Erik Most), I experience the fullness of joy that is in Christ.

However, in order to do this, we must properly assess the value of the Gospel. Tim Keller defines the Gospel as the fact that we are far worse, and far more hopeless than we could ever imagine, yet, in Christ, we are more loved and accepted than we could ever hope. In order to assess the value of the Gospel, we must understand both sides. If we don't see ourselves as utterly sinful, naked, blind, poor, lost, miserable souls, who if it weren't for the sheer grace of God, would be justly consumed by His wrath, the Gospel will never be valuable to us. It will never be good news. There is a reason Jesus said, "He who is forgiven little, loves little. But he who is forgiven much, loves much". Grace won't be amazing to us unless we realize what we've been saved from. A shackled slave who is redeemed rejoices. A beggar who has been adopted by the King and made into a Son rejoices. Someone who thinks they are a generally good person and deserves salvation on their merit does not rejoice.

More so, we will only be able to rightly rejoice in God when we realize God's absolute benevolence towards His children. If you are in Christ, you are beloved. You are more loved than you can imagine. Christians should rejoice in God because they have been saved from their utter state of sin and brought into the glorious light. We were unlovely, but we have been loved by the most lovely. Love to the loveless shown, that we might lovely be. When I dwell on this, I treasure God above all else. Knowing both ends, that we are utterly sinful and hopeless, yet completely loved and secure in Christ's finished work, will cause us to rightly assess the Gospel's value, to rightly treasure it, and to see its pure beauty. And when this happens, we will rejoice and delight in God.

I pray God will continue to illuminate my heart to the true treasure that Christ is, and the absolute beauty of the Gospel; that God saves messed up sinners.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How He's loved us

How He's loved us.....

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be removed, says the LORD,
who has compassion on you" Isaiah 54:10

"I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one.'
I will say to those called 'Not my people,' 'You are my people,'
and they will say, 'You are my God'. Hosea 2:23

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassion's never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

"...a blind man, Bartimaeus was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' Jesus stopped and said, 'call him.' Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 'What do you want me to do for you?' Jesus asked him. The blind man said, 'Rabbi, I want to see.' 'Go' said Jesus, your faith has healed you.' Mark 10: 46-52

"Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends..."
John 15:13-14

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"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

"In love, he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of trespasses according to the riches of his grace," Ephesians 1:4-7

"And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself or us.." Ephesians 5:1

"But God, being 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." Ephesians 2:4-5

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am not longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate.'" Luke 15:19-24

"It is finished" John 19:30

At all times, continually

A post from Ray Ortlund's blog: At all times, continually

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1

It is possible for two psychologies to coexist in our hearts at once – pain and praise. It’s like a football player who plays hurt. He feels bad. But he also feels good. Both at the same time. It is so meaningful to be on the team and not in the stands, on the field and not on the bench. A man doesn’t mind the two-a-day practices and the wind sprints and the drills and the work and the sweat. He’s glad to be playing the game, and not an easy game. That is the very thing that satisfies a man’s heart.

We rejoice in our sufferings (Romans 5:3). Not in spite of our sufferings. Not in the midst of our sufferings. But in our sufferings. It is our sufferings that make us rejoice. Our sufferings prove that we are not sidelined but deeply involved in the great struggle of our times. God, in grace, has set us apart to himself for a purpose of glory in this generation.

It’s not easy. We wouldn’t want it to be easy. We praise God just for including us.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How Far was He willing to Go?

Just finished reading Tim Keller's 'Generous Justice'. Here is some pure 24k gold from the last chapter. And by the way, the k stands for Keller :)

"Many people say, 'I can't believe in God when I see all the injustice in the world.' But here is Jesus, the Son of God, who knows what it's like to be the victim of injustice, to stand up to power, to face a corrupt system and be killed for it. He knows what it is like to be lynched. I'm not sure how you believe in a God remote from injustice and oppression, but Christianity doesn't ask you to believe in that. That is why the Christian write John Stott is able to say, 'I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?'

And what does this mean....

There (on the cross) we see how far God was willing to go to identify with the oppressed of the world. And he was doing it all for us! There Jesus, who deserved acquittal and freedom, got condemnation, so that we who deserve condemnation for our sins can receive acquittal. This was the ultimate instance of God's identification with the poor. He not only became one of the actually poor and marginalized, he stood in the place of all those of us in spiritual poverty and bankruptcy and paid our debt.

Now that is a thing of beauty. To take that into the center of your life and heart will make you one of the just."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr.

A few quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech, 'Facing the Challenge of the New Age'

"Negro masses began to reevaluate themselves. The negro came to feel that he was somebody. His religion revealed to him that God loves all of His children, and that every man, from a bass black to a treble white, is significant on God's keyboard."

"We must remember as we boycott that a boycott is not an end within itself; it is merely a means to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor and challenge his false sense of superiority. But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community"

"we love men not because we like them, not because their attitudes and ways appeal to us, but because God loves us. Here we rise to the position of loving the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. With this type of love and understanding good will we will be able to stand amid the radiant glow of the new age with dignity and discipline. Yes, the new age is coming. It is coming might fast."

Reading MLK, something that strikes me is that at the very heart of his concern for social justice and civil rights was the fact that our Heavenly Father was deeply concerned with justice, and also the idea of Imago Dei, that all people are made in the image of God.

We see MLK's stress on man being made in the image of God in the first quote. Every person, because they are made in the likeness of God, has a sense of dignity and a natural worth to God. Therefore, the civil rights movement was ultimately about instilling mans natural right to be treated with a certain dignity because they are in fact made in God's likeness that it was constitutional law.

"Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry."

Psalm 146:5-7

The True Motivation for Justice

Tim Keller in his new book, 'Generous Justice', talking about the Gospel being the ultimate motivation for justice.

"I believe, however, when justice for the poor is connected not to guilt, but to grace and to the gospel, this 'pushes the button' down deep in believers' souls, and they begin to wake up. Here is an example of the kind of argument that accomplishes this. It comes from a sermon by a young Scottish minister early in the nineteenth century, preaching on the text, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' (Acts 20:35):
'Now, dear Christians, some of you pray night and day to be branches of the true Vine; you pray to be made all over in the image of Christ. If so, you must be like him in giving....'Though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor.'
Objection 1. 'My money is my own.' Answer: Christ might have said, 'My blood is my own, my life is my own'....then where should we have been?
Objection 2. 'The poor are undeserving.' Answer: Christ might have said, 'they are wicked rebels, shall I lay down my life for these? I will give to the good angels.' But no, Christ left the 99 and came after the lost. He gave his blood for the undeserving.
Objection 3. 'The poor may abuse it.' Answer: Christ might have said the same; yea with far greater truth. Christ knew thousands would trample his blood under their feet; that most would despise it; that many would make it an excuse for sinning more; yet he gave his own blood. Oh, my dear Christians! If you would be like Christ, give much, give often, give freely, to the vile and poor, the thankless and the undeserving. Christ is glorious and happy and so will you be. It is not your money I want, but your happiness. Remember his own word, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

When He First Found Us

"The Lord Jesus Christ when he first comes to you, finds you full of sin and pollution; you are deformed, defiled, enslaved, poor, miserable and wretched, very despicable and loathsome, by reason of sin; and he maketh choice of you, not because of your holiness, nor of your beauty, nor of your being qualified for them; no, the Lord Jesus Christ puts these qualifications upon you, as may make you meet for his embrace; and you are drawn to make choice of the Lord Jesus Christ because he first chose you."

George Whitefield

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Whiter than Snow: Sin is a Relationship

"The desire to be God rather than to serve God lies at the bottom of every sin that anyone has ever committed. Sin isn't first rooted in a philosophical debate of the appropriateness or healthiness of a certain ethic. No, sin is rooted in my unwillingness to find joy in living my life under the authority of, and for the glory of, Another. Sin is rooted in my desire to live for me. It's driven by my propensity to indulge my every feeling, satisfy my every desire, and meet my every need...Because sin is about the breaking of relationship, restoration of relationship is the only hope for us in our struggle with sin. It's only because God is willing to love us in our struggle with sin. It's only because God is willing to love us in a way that we refuse to love him that we have any hope of defeating sin. It's through the gift of adoption into relationship with him that we find what we need to gain power over sin. And what do we need? A greater love for him than we have for ourselves. His love is the only thing that has the power to produce in us that kind of love for him."

- Pastor Paul Tripp, Whiter than Snow

Psalm 97

"The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the Earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. All worshippers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him all you gods!"

Psalm 97:5-6

How ridiculously small, trivial and worthless will idols be on the last day? In God's presence, compared to his infinite glory, the worship of idols will bring shame. When faced with the reality of God's glory, idols are ridiculous. Why would we look to idols in place of the real deal? God is all-powerful and the Creator of the earth and everything in it. Idols are neither. God is glorious and worthy of worship, idols are not. God is satisfying, quenching our inner-most desires, idols only leave us dry and thirsty. God is love, and He sent his only Son to redeem us from the false entrapment of idols. Yet, I see places in my life where I spend so much time, energy and emotion on the worthless idols of my heart. This verse reminds me that God is better. He is infinitely glorious, and the more my eyes are opened to that, the more the grip of the hidden idols of my heart begin to slip away.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Everything or My Nothing

Motivational football clips like this may seem kinda corny, but I love them. I particularly like this one because I think it is pertinent to the Church.

When I played football, before every game, my position coach would hand out a 'tip sheet'. This tip sheet usually included the plays we were going to run for the game, different looks the opposing defense was going to throw against us and things we had learned from watching film. It also usually had some kind of motivational quote. One week, the tip sheet included 1 John 3:16,

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters."

What a great verse. That's why I love football. Because, at its core, it is a team of individuals, who are forced to rely on their teammates. It's 11 guys collectively laying themselves down for their teammates, for the greater cause. The team fails if it's 10 out of 11. It has to be 11 guys giving everything, sacrificing for the need of the team. It is 11 guys fighting together no matter the circumstance, whether things have gone to hell or things are fine and dandy. It is a team of guys picking up where other guys lack. When someone gets knocked down, their teammates pick them back up and keep on fighting together. It's a team of guys giving their everything because they know at the end of the day, that the guy next to him would do the same for him.

I wish the Church was more like that. I love the picture in the video with the team linked together, arm and arm, with Tashard Choice saying, "It's my everything or my nothing". I think the Church should look very similar. It's a team of sinners who have been loved by God, who are now called to collectively glorify him. I have such an individualistic view of Church and of Christianity in general. I view church as a place to be served rather than a place where I can joyfully give myself and sacrifice my time, money, comfort and gifts. I think it should look a lot more like the team in this video. A group of people passionately laying down their lives for each other because they know they have been loved by Christ. A group of people fighting sin together and encouraging each other with the Gospel. And when we fall, we are surrounded by our brothers and sisters to pick us up, and help us keep fighting. Just like a football game can be compared to a battle, even more so, the Christian life is a battle. The Church should be people doing battle together. We are fighting sin, we are fighting for our joy, we are fighting for the Gospel! And in battle, people receive wounds. The Church should be people who are heavily invested in each others lives. A place where wounds are openly shown and where Gospel healing takes place. The Church is on mission together. It should be a group of sinners sacrificially loving each other and loving the world because they know they are loved of God.

But, we can only do this when we come to a clearer understanding of Christ's finished work. When are living in the knowledge of God's ridiculous grace shown to rebellious sinners, when we know that Christ accomplished Redemption and that we have gone from fatherless slaves to adopted children, when we are secure in this, only then, will we be able to lay down our lives for each other as 1 John 3:16 tells us to do. As Christians, our commitment to Jesus' bride aka the Church should very much be "My everything, or my nothing".

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How Great Thou Art

Today in church we sang the hymn, 'How Great Thou Art'. I absolutely love the 3rd stanza. What a beautiful reminder of God's ridiculous love for sinners. The Father so loved us that He gave His one and only Son to be the propitiation for our sins. The Son so loved us that He gladly and joyfully carried the cross for our redemption. The only way to react to this amazing truth is to worship in humble adoration. God is great!

"And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin."

"If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"----Romans 8:31-32

"For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" ---Hebrews 12:2

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Something well worth the 6 minutes from Justin Taylor's blog:

“Unapproachable, inaccessible in location or situation, untouched, untouchable, disconnected, unable to be met or out of touch. These are all words and descriptions given for yet another word: Unreached.”

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Gospel is about God, not Us: Part 2

I can't resist sharing another awesome passage from Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt.


"If you were to ask the average Christian sitting in a worship service on Sunday morning to summarize the message of Christianity, you would most likely hear something along the lines of "The message of Christianity is that God loves me." Or someone might say, "The message of Christianity is that God loves me enough to send his Son, Jesus, to die for me."

As wonderful as this sentiment sounds, is it biblical? Isn't it incomplete, based on what we have seen in the Bible? "God loves me" is not the essence of biblical Christianity. Because if "God loves me" is the message of Christianity, then who is the object of Christianity?

God loves me. Me. Christianity's object is me.

Therefore, when I look for a church, I look for the music that best fits me and the programs that best cater to me and my family. When I make plans for my life and career, it is about what works best for me and my family. When I consider the house I will live in, the car I will drive, the clothes I will wear, the way I will live, I will choose according to what is best for me. This is the version of Christianity that largely prevails in our culture.

But it is not biblical Christianity.

The message of biblical Christianity is not "God loves me, period", as if we were the object of our own faith. The message of biblical Christianity is "God loves me so that I might make him -- his ways, his salvation, his glory and his greatness -- known among all nations." Now God is the object of our faith, and Christianity centers around him. We are not the end of the gospel; God is."


The truth is that God loves us unbelievably. He created us in His image, rescued us after our betrayal of Him, lives in us and will one day spend eternity with us. But we are not the end of God's plan. The end of God's purpose in the world is God, and the supreme glory of His grace, which we have been graciously given our lives to find joy in, proclaim and treasure more than anything else.

May the Lord extend his grace on us as we seek to do so, resting in Jesus and what He has done for us.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Gospel is about God, not Us

"The dangerous assumption we unknowingly accept in the American dream is that our greatest asset is our own ability. The American dream prizes what people can accomplish when they believe in themselves and trust in themselves, and we are drawn toward such thinking. But the gospel has different priorities. The gospel beckons us to die to ourselves and to believe in God and trust in his power. In the gospel, God confronts us with our utter inability to accomplish anything of value apart from him. This is what Jesus meant when he said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Even more important is the subtly fatal goal we will achieve when we pursue the American dream. As long as we achieve our desires in our own power, we will always attribute it to our own glory. To use Adam's words, we will be "recognized by others for what [we] are." This, after all, is the goal of the American dream: to make much of ourselves. But here the gospel and the American dream are clearly and ultimately antithetical to each other. While the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God."


I have only read three chapters of the book written by David Platt titled Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream. It is wonderfully refreshing, and presents the life-giving truth of the gospel.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Piper on his leave of absence

John Piper will be returning from his leave of absence this January. As part of his annual report he writes to Bethlehem Baptist, Pastor John reports on his 8 month leave of absence. I admire this guy. I know God has used Pastor John as a mighty example of a Godly pastor, husband and Christ-follower.

John Piper on his leave of absence.

Like Pencilled Lines on Flat Paper

"Let us construct a fable. Let us picture a woman thrown into a dungeon. There she bears and rears a son. He grows up seeing nothing but the dungeon walls, the straw on the floor, and a little patch of the sky seen through the grating, which is too high up to show anything except the sky. This unfortunate woman was an artist, and when they imprisoned her she managed to bring with her a drawing pad and a box of pencils. As she never loses the hope of deliverance, she is constantly teaching her son about that outer world which he has never seen. She does it very largely by drawing him pictures. With her pencils she attempts to show him what fields, rivers, mountains, cities and waves on a beach are like. He is a dutiful boy and he does his best to believe her when she tells him that the outer world is far more interesting and glorious than anything in the dungeon. At times he succeeds. On the whole he gets tolerably well until, one day, he says something that gives his mother a pause. For a minute or two they are at cross-purposes. Finally it dawns on her that he has, all these years, lived under a misconception. 'But,' she gasps, 'you didn't think that the real world was full of lines drawn in lead pencil?' 'What?' says the boy. 'No pencil marks there?' And instantly his whole notion of the outer world becomes a blank. For the lines, by which alone he was imagining it, have now been denied of it. He has no idea of that which will exclude and dispense with the lines, that of which the lines were merely a transposition-the waving tree tops, the light dancing on the weir, the colored three-dimensional realities which are not enclosed in lines but define their own shapes at every moment with a delicacy and multiplicity which no drawing could ever achieve. The child will get the idea that the real world is somehow less visible that his mother's pictures. In reality it lacks lines because it is incomparably more visible.

So with us. 'We know not what we shall be'; but we may be sure we shall be more, not less, than we were on earth. Our natural experiences are only like the drawing, like pencilled lines on flat paper. If they vanish in the risen life, they will vanish only as pencil lines vanish from the real landscape, not as a candle flame that is put out but as a candle flame which becomes invisible because someone has pulled up the blind, thrown open the shutters and let in the blaze of the risen sun."

C.S. Lewis