Monday, April 30, 2012
But it is not the Christian Gospel. Into the darkness of petty self-preoccupation has shone the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God' (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Christian Gospel is about 'the glory of Christ', not about me. And when it is -- in some measure -- about me, it is not about my being made much of by God, but about God mercifully enabling me to enjoy making much of him forever."
-Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
-The Life and Diary of David Brainerd
I am so quick to question the source and purpose of any affliction on my life, because I am in love with my own comfort. At the end of the day, it reveals what can be my limited belief in the sovereignty of God, and His love that keeps me. Brainerd reminds me of the great purpose behind affliction. I may think of it as something that holds me back. Rather, if it is causing me to die to myself, I am assured the Lord is using it to carry me forward in grace.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Waiting For the Real Superman
Friday, April 20, 2012
"There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit..."
The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses p.46
I wonder how many times in my self centeredness I've engaged with people flippantly, in favor of my own agenda, or busy schedule, motivation, or intention. What would our relationships look like in our families, friendships, churches, work, and institutions if we internalized this sense of all peoples created in the image of God?
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
“See the man at midnight [described in Luke 11:5-8]. Imitate that man. Act it all alone at midnight. Hear his loud cry, and cry it after him. He needed three loaves. What is your need? Name it. Name it out loud. Let your own ears hear it. . . . The shameful things you have to ask for. The disgraceful, the incredible things you have to admit and confess. The life you have lived. The way you have spent your days and nights. And what all that has brought you to. It kills you to have to say such things even with your door shut. Yes, but better say all these things in closets than have them all proclaimed from the housetops of the day of judgment. Knock, man! Knock for the love of God! Knock as they knock to get into heaven after the door is shut! Knock, as they knock to get out of hell!”
Alexander Whyte, “The Man Who Knocked At Midnight,” in Lord, Teach Us To Pray (New York, n.d.), pages 174-176.....
This is awesome. Lord, give us hearts of humility, confession and belief in your willingness to forgive, for the sake of Christ.
"And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he [Jesus] departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed."
(Mark 1:35 ESV)
"Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society."
"Pastors who believe that God is sovereign over all things will lead Christians to die for the sake of ALL peoples"
Just a couple opening quotes from David Platt's message he delivered at Together 4 the Gospel (T4G). I haven't read any of Platt's books (although I plan to) nor have I listened to much of his stuff, but from what I have heard, I love this guy and his passion for the gospel.
Being a Christian is intrinsically linked with mission. A legitimate belief in the God of the Bible fuels radical self-giving in the form of mission. I'm thankful for Platt, especially for that 2nd quote about pastors having the privilege of leading their people to die for the sake of the gospel going to ALL peoples. Most churches, and most pastors don't have the stomach to preach this. Yet, it is in the Bible. It is what Jesus said was necessary to follow him. Most pastors prefer to build up comfortable buildings for people to gather, giving them a few snippets of good advice for living, and enough assurance to soothe their religious conscious. This is nice, but this is not Christianity. This is not being a disciple of Jesus. This is not holding a high view of God's sovereignty. I'll be posting Platt's message here in a little bit. It is an hour long, but is well worth the time. John Piper is calling it the best sermon on missions he has ever heard. So, if you want to have your world rocked, check it out!
I have no good apart from you.”
(Psalm 16:2 ESV)
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
(Psalm 16:5-6 ESV)
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
(Psalm 16:9 ESV)
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalm 16:11 ESV)
The word choice and tone in these lines remind me that the Lord is our joy. He is our contentment and glory. May I quit viewing God as merely a helper in time of need, and that's it! Rather, may the Lord be the object of every glad affection in my heart too! May He be the reason for our happiness, for in Him we have a rich inheritance: His presence forever.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
"The fundamental distinction between churches is not that some of them have sinners and others do not. The fundamental distinction is that some churches have honest sinners and other churches have self-protecting sinners. The question is not whether we are sinful or not, but whether or not we are honest about it. James 5:16 was not written to a segment of the church but to all members: 'Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.' "
I think the more fully we know the Lord's loving desire to forgive us, for the sake of Christ's work on the cross, the quicker we will fall on our knees in confession and repentance. I believe it is in that place where His grace manifests itself most complete in our lives.
Let us pray to that end.
Friday, April 13, 2012
HT: Kevin DeYoung
The Anatomy of Holiness
What exactly does it mean to be holy? What does it look like?
Here’s one to think about it: consider growth in godliness as the sanctification of your body.
- The mind is filled with the knowledge of God and fixed on what is good.
- The eyes turn away from sensuality and shudder at the sight of evil.
- The mouth tells the truth and refuses to gossip, slander, or speak what is coarse or obscene.
- The spirit is earnest, steadfast, and gentle.
- The soul rests and rejoices in Jesus.
- The muscles toil and strive after Christlike virtue.
- The heart is full of joy instead of hopelessness, patience instead of irritability, kindness instead of anger, and humility instead of pride, thankfulness instead of envy.
- The sexual organs are pure, being reserved for the privacy of marriage between one man and one woman.
- The feet move toward the lowly and away from senseless conflict, divisions, and wild parties.
- The hands are quick to help those in need and ready to fold in prayer.
When I lose track of what holiness is actually about, I try to scan down the body from head to toe and remember what God desires from me. And just as importantly, I need to remember who Christ is and is making me to become.
"Classical heroism with the Bible because while the former valued power, Christ's heroism prized truth. Other kingdoms fostered heroic deeds by cultivating racial, geographic, linguistic, religious, class, or caste pride and hatred. Jesus made love the supreme value of the kingdom of God. This love was not sentimentalism. It went beyond loving one's neighbor as oneself. Its supreme manifestation was the cross: sacrificing oneself for others, including ones enemies.
Jesus' heroism replaced brutality with love, pride with meekness, and domination over others with self-sacrificing service. He exemplified this when he humbled himself, took a basin of water and a servant's towel, and started washing his disciples' feet. This, he said, is what the kingdom of God is all about. He was the King of kings and the Lord of lords. All power in heaven and on earth, he claimed, was his. But he had come not to be served, but to serve, not to kill but to give eternal life. These were not homilies delivered by a guru who sat on a golden throne. These teachings changed history because they emanated from a live lived in the public arena."
Thursday, April 12, 2012
An East St. Louis Easter
Video and Pics
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
the liveliness of all my duties,
the sum of all thy gospel promises,
the comfort of all my afflictions,
the vigour of my love, thankfulness, graces,
the very essence of my religion;
And by it give me that rest without rest,
the rest of ceaseless praise."
- The Valley of Vision
I read that as the following.
May the cross of Jesus be...
1. our new identity,
2. our fuel to perform the work set before us,
3. the basis of our worldview,
4. our victory in every trial,
5. our excitement as we begin each morning,
6. the purpose of our short time on earth.
Monday, April 9, 2012
Saturday, April 7, 2012
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
1 John 1:7 ESV
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
What's the secret to soul-health while in seminary?
There are many good things to be said. Stay prayerful, be involved in the local church, cultivate meaningful friendships, fight for sexual sanity, find a brother to confess your sins to, get enough sleep, don’t neglect your wife if married. All important.
But above all else I would say two things to a young man given the privilege of seminary: you are justified by another, and you are strong in weakness.
1. You are justified by another.
Fallen human beings are walking courtrooms.
In a strange and wonderful text in Isaiah 28, God declared that the inscription on the cornerstone of the future temple would be, “Whoever believes will not be in haste” (Isa. 28:16). Have you tasted that?
Internal, tense, anxious, emotional scurrying about will define your seminary experience if you do not settle the astounding truth that for those united to Christ the courtroom verdict over your life is now a past reality rather than a future one. It’s behind you, not before you. A period, not a question mark. You are justified.
The unanswered questions of the heart not at rest are: Am I ok? Do I matter? Who am I before others? How do I measure up? Am I significant? What’s the judgment over my life?
But when Jesus came he didn't tell us to prove ourselves. He said he gives rest (Matt. 11:28-30). He came to stop the haste. Paul even took Isaiah 28 and said Jesus is that cornerstone so that whoever believes in Christ will not be in haste (Rom. 9:33; 10:11).
In seminary as much as any time in your life you must remember that the sigh of the soul you so desperately desire is yours, freely, abundantly, as you trust in Christ, the radiant Friend of screw-ups. United to him, you are co-justified with him. For you to be un-okayed, Jesus would have to be un-okayed. His verdict is in, and therefore yours is in.
That’s hard, strangely hard, to remember. For various reasons it’s especially hard to remember in seminary. While studying the Bible as a full-time student I found I could write a paper on justification by faith alone and then seek to be justified by its publication.
At Covenant Seminary I startled myself with how quickly I slipped into impress-mode around professors I admired. I forgot the verdict was in. I was bolstering what God thought of me with what others thought of me. Justification plus. Haste.
The pressures of seminary will force you either into greater rest or greater haste. One thing determines which way you go: regular bathing of heart in the gospel of a secured, irreversible verdict won by the now un-condemnable Christ.
His unflappable hug, his undentable favor, is impervious to your mediocre grades, fickle human approval, up-and-down marriage, number of Twitter followers, or how long it’s been since you abused Youtube.
How do you stay Christian in seminary? Above all else, defibrillate your heart daily with the invincible favor of God shining down on you because of the love and sacrifice of another.
Only the doctrine of justification by faith alone will enable you to experience seminary as joyful, relaxed ministry training rather than frantic, fretful impressing.
2. You are strong in weakness.
Few things bring our weakness to the surface like seminary. Spending all day with classmates who read faster than you, memorize paradigms more easily than you do, and preach better than you do pours gasoline on the flames of our insecurity. Ongoing moral failure--for young men in today's hypersexualized world I am thinking especially of sexual failure, though spiritual pride, laziness, envy, intellectual haughtiness, and a bent toward divisiveness also reveal our weakness.
Seminary gathers up all our latent insecurities and forces them before us. We begin to ask questions of ourselves.
Am I supposed to be here? we wonder. Shouldn't I be better at the languages if this is where God wants me? Shouldn't I be able to preach in front of 8 brothers in a homiletics practicum without my eyes being chained to my notes and my palms sweating? Shouldn’t my finances be less strapped if seminary is the Lord’s good purpose in my life? Shouldn’t I be able to finally kick that habitual sin if I’m spending so much time pondering God and the Bible?
Brother: those soul-squeezing questions are your friends. Without them you would coast through seminary and graduate a shallow, twaddling little man with no depth and trite answers.
God’s grace is sufficient for you. Get over yourself. You are weak. You are inadequate. You always will be. And the story of the Bible is God’s delight in taking weak, inadequate men and doing the unthinkable. Stop insulting the Holy Spirit. Your weakness is the single crucial prerequisite for him to make your life a miracle. To think “I don’t have what it takes” is precisely what it takes. Don’t try to overcome your weakness. Leverage your weakness into a lifetime of 1 Corinthians 2:1–5 ministry.
God’s power is made perfect in your weakness.