December 31, 2009

Ten Questions to Ask for the New Year

Don Whitney provides ten questions to ask for the New Year:

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?

You can read his entire article and download the pdf version of this here.

December 26, 2009

On the Incarnation

My good friend Josh writes on the incarnation:

To feel and comprehend the magnitude of the birth of Christ, one need only to turn to the Holy Scriptures where God lays forth His redeeming plan of salvation, giving hope and light to the depraved souls that walk the earth. Before time even began, God knew that eventually sin would enter the perfect world He would soon create. He knew that man, not perfect, because He and He alone is perfect, would fall prey to the temptations given under the domain of darkness and that redemption would have to be accomplished. He also knew, however, that the only path to true glorifying redemption would be a perfect sacrifice, without reproach, that would bear the darkness of the wretched world. Therefore, because of the fullness of His immeasurable grace and truth, God himself entered the world that He would become this perfect sacrifice the world so desperately needed.

Read the rest of his post here.

December 23, 2009

Spurgeon and Edwards

I recently finished reading The Power in Prayer by Charles Spurgeon. Though short in length, this book delves far beyond the surface of its subject matter and provides helpful insights into both the reasons and modes of prayer. Starting from the most basic aspects of prayer, Spurgeon masterfully progresses to some deeper and perhaps less thought of facets of the praying life. I especially appreciated Spurgeon's challenge to prepare myself as I come before the Lord of the Universe to make my petitions as well as his treatment of "Order and Argument in Prayer", which I will be posting on later (Lord willing). In all, I recommend this book to you wholeheartedly for your edification.

Another resource that has been encouraging and enlightening to me has been the audiobook A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards, written by George Marsden and produced by Hovel Audio. This audiobook has been an insightful overview of Edwards' life that sets itself apart from other biographies in its comparison and contrast of Edwards to his contemporary Benjamin Franklin. Another short book (about four hours in length), A Short Life receives my full endorsement.

December 21, 2009

The "X" in X-mas

R.C. Sproul explains why it might not mean what you think. See his article here.

December 16, 2009

Christmas Giveaway

Trevin Wax has another Christmas giveaway this year. The winner will receive an ESV Study Bible, Trevin Wax's latest book, Holy Subversion, and these ten books for free:

1. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1859-2009- Greg Wills
2. Unfashionable- Tullian Tchividjian
3. Deep Church- Jim Belcher
4. The Case for Life- Scott Klusendorf
5. The God Who Smokes- Timothy Stoner
6. Adopted for Life- Russell Moore
7. Manhunt- James Swanson
8. Counterfeit Gods- Tim Keller
9. Why We Love the Church- Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck
10. The God I Don't Understand- Christopher Wright

To enter for this contest, visit his blog here.

December 15, 2009


Billy Graham has been a faithful servant of God for many years and a man that has always been known for his moral strength and dependence on God. I recently was able to get a closer look at his life through the eyes of one of his close friends.

Billy: A Personal Look at Billy Graham, the World's Best-loved Evangelist, by Sherwood Eliot Wirt, is less of a biography about the events in Mr. Graham's life and more about revealing the character of a great servant of God as seen from a man who was close to him for many years. If you want to get to know Billy Graham and how God worked through him throughout his many crusades over the year, then I recommend this book to you.

December 14, 2009

The Artificiality of Christmas

With the Christmas tree up in my house and hot chocolate in my mug, I would say that the Christmas season is in full swing. And, truly, I love this time of year –the carols, the presentations, the snow, the decoration, and, most importantly, the opportunity to celebrate my Savior's birth. The whole atmosphere is exhilarating.

But despite all of these things, there is a portion of the Christmas season that bothers me. There is an element of artificiality that pervades this time of year like no other. Every Christmas, millions of people around the world (particularly in America) put up artificial trees, teach their children about a fake gift-giver, and put on a fraudulent show of charity to match the Christmas season. Now, I have nothing against artificial trees, nor do I think that there is anything wrong with Santa Claus.

However, the latter of these problems causes me some trouble. In my experience, too many people fake a sense of joy and kindness just for the sake of the season. For some, this manifests itself in toothy smiles and a seasonal hospitality that covers up an otherwise discontented and angry soul. For others, their charity is obvious by the large sums of money and material goods they give the Salvation Army and Good Will, while throughout the rest of the year they refuse to give anything more than will get them a tax cut. This is so like human nature, to use one particular season to ease the conscience for the entire year. It breaks my heart.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that these people give as they do. There are poor and needy people who need it all and more. If these people didn't fake what they did, then I can't think to imagine the amount of people each year that would be left out in the cold (some more literally than others). No, I do not want any of these people to give any less. Count me as the last to discourage anyone from giving, whatever the motive. What I want to see is not less giving, but more giving from the heart. I earnestly desire that people would give from their abundance and serve the poor from a heart made new and released from sin –a heart that is so in love with its Creator that it gives in and out of season, with or without pressure, under any circumstance.

And most importantly, I want these people to put away their facades, to realize their true sinful nature, and to see the blazing truth of Christmas –that God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to earth so that He might live and die and rise again to save us all from our artificiality and sin, and to make us real. This is my hope this Christmas.

December 8, 2009


Desiring God has several good posts on the meaning of Advent, the period of time leading up to Christmas. Advent has never been something that my family has been dedicated to observing, but these posts make me want to make it a lasting tradition for me and my family in coming years. The symbolism involved and the idea of anticipating Jesus' birth helps to put my heart in the right place during this hectic time of year. Here are the posts:

What is Advent?
Advent: Standing in the Middle
Looking Back: Advent Candles

December 5, 2009

Born to Die

This is one of my favorite Christmas songs:

"Born to Die"
They never knew a dark night
always had the Son's light
on their face
Perfect in glory
Broken by the story
of untold grace...
come that day

Majesty had come down
Glory had succumbed now
to flesh and bone
In the arms of a manger
In the hands of strangers
that could not know
Just who they hold

And the angels filled the sky
All of heaven wondered why
Why their King would choose to be
Be a baby born to die

And all fell silent
For the cry of an infant,
the voice of God
Was dividing history
For those with eyes to see,
the Son would shine
From earth that night


To break the chains
Of guilt and sin
To find us here
To pull us in
So we can join in Heaven's song
And with one voice around the throne

All the Angels filled the sky
And I can't help but wonder why
Why the King would choose to be
Be a baby born for me
Be a baby born to die

By Bebo Norman, Christmas... from the Realms of Glory
You can listen to the song here.

December 3, 2009

Why Did they Kill Jesus?

Kevin Deyoung has a helpful post on why Jesus was killed. He dispels the notion that it was simply because "Jesus loved too much". I encourage you to check it out.

December 1, 2009

'Tis the Season

It's only December first and I've already been in the Christmas mood for about four days. Saturday night, I walked down my street to watch a Christmas light show at a neighbor's house. Sunday, I listened to two Christmas sermons. And in addition to that, I've only been listening to Christmas music since the day after Thanksgiving.

I guess I'm just trying to say that, perhaps more than in years past, I am really ready for Christmas this year. It's not that I want gifts or anything like that; I'm just excited to be celebrating my Savior's birth. This is one of the seasons where it's easy to focus on worldly things --money, traditions, and material things. But, if we make an effort to put the focus where it belongs --on Christ-- then this can be a season unlike any other.

November 30, 2009

Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

At around 1600 pages, Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem is, as of now, the longest book that I have ever read (excluding the Bible). Though it is technically written to be a text book, Grudem's Systematic Theology is one of the most accessible books discussing theological matters that I have ever read. The only time that I found things hard to understand was when the subject matter itself was difficult, never was I turned away because of Grudem's wording.

I recommend this book as a resource that should be in every Christian household. It's accessibility and plain language make it easy to find answers and study theological subjects. As Christians, we are all theologians, in that we all should be studying about God and the things of God. For those who have never did any real theological study, this book is a wonderful place to start.

November 29, 2009

3 Reasons I Love John Piper's Preaching

1. It always points me to Christ and Him Crucified.

2. It is so cross-centered that no matter what the subject matter, the cross is never left behind, but always at the forefront being glorified and magnified for all to see.

3. It is truly revolutionary in the best of ways --rebelling against the flesh, the world, and sin.

November 28, 2009

Reasons Not to Look for Signs

Many of us, as we read the story of Gideon, are tempted to think that because Gideon sought God's will through a miraculous sign then so should we. However, as J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom point out in their book, Guard Us, Guide Us, they break down several reasons why this is not a correct assumption. They are as follows:

1. Most of the Bible had not yet been composed in Gideon's day (the books of Moses and maybe Joshua) and there is no reason to think that country-boy Gideon would have had access to what there was.

2. Gideon's situation was significantly different than our own: he had already been visited by an angel of God. Also, the fate of a nation was being decided, not a personal decision as in our own experiences.

3. Gideon was asking for reassurance, whereas when we "put out a fleece" we are coming dangerously close to what Jesus called putting God to the test (Matthew 4:7, citing Deutoronomy 6:16).

4. " treat the Old Testament account of someone's action or experience as a model for ourselves without taking into account the difference made by the coming of Jesus, and the completing of revelation, and the writing of canonical Scripture, plus the present reality of the full post-Pentecost ministry of the Holy Spirit, is always a mistake."

5. "Laying down a fleece" may easily be a sign of laziness with almost no character development.

6. When the Antichrist comes, he will be accompanied by "many signs and wonders".
(taken from pages 39-44)

November 27, 2009

Tenth Avenue North

Tenth Avenue North is a band that has recently come on the Christian music scene, but they have certainly made waves and, personally, have become my new favorite band. The members of this band have hearts that seek to truly honor God in their music as well as in all parts of their lives and minds that are level-headed as well as talented. This is evidenced not only by their song lyrics, but also by their journal posts which not only explain their songs, but give helpful insights and wisdom. Their first album, Over and Underneath, is one of the few that I can listen to over and over again. I greatly recommend this band for your consideration and I watch with great anticipation to see how God will use them in the future.

November 26, 2009

Guarded by the Good Shepherd

I've been a little behind on letting you know about the books I've been reading, but I would like to try to remedy that in the upcoming week or so. So, for starters, I would like to recommend to you Guard Us, Guide Us, by J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom.

In their book, the authors explain biblically what divine guidance is, starting from Psalm 23. They relate how God guides us not normally through impressions, visions, or other subjective spiritual experiences, but rather through His Word, through other Christians, and the wisdom that we get from them. They seek to dispel the notion that making decisions without any overt affirmation from God is somehow less spiritual than acting upon personal revelation. In fact, they argue, it takes more spiritual maturity to examine the Bible, understand its principles and evaluating how they relate to your situation so that you can make the right decision –and they expound upon how to do that effectively.

I recommend this book to any who are seeking God's guidance in their lives –which should be all followers of Christ.

November 19, 2009

From Whence this Fear and Unbelief?

From whence this fear and unbelief?
Hath not the Father put to grief
His spotless Son for me?
And will the righteous Judge of men
Condemn me for that debt of sin
Which, Lord, was charged on Thee?

Complete atonement Thou hast made,
And to the utmost Thou hast paid
Whate'er Thy people owed
How then can wrath on me take place,
If sheltered in Thy righteousness
And sprinkled with Thy blood.

If thou hast my discharge procured,
And freely in my room endured
The whole of wrath divine.
Payment God cannot twice demand
First at my bleeding Surety's hand
And then again at mine.

Turn then, my soul, unto thy rest!
The merits of thy great High Priest
Have bought thy liberty.
Trust in His efficacious blood
Nor fear thy banishment from God
Since Jesus died for thee!

by Augustus Toplady, quoted in Knowing God by J.I. Packer

November 14, 2009

One Year of Blogging

Wow! It's hard to believe, but, as of today, I have been blogging for one year and, in addition, this is my hundredth post. Praise God for this past year!

November 13, 2009

$3 worth of God

The Voice of the Martyrs printed this in a previous issue of the August issue of their magazine. It really reflects how many Christians view our Lord. I hope that we desire more than this:

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of God to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy not tranformation. I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like $3 worth of God, please.

-Wilbur Rees

November 12, 2009

Michael Crichton Came Close... But Missed It

Michael Crichton was a popular science fiction writer who died last year and whose most famous works include: Congo, The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park and The Lost World. He was well-known for his way of incorporating cutting edge and controversial scientific issues into his fictional stories. And he was often good at hitting on key philosophical and ethical issues in a profound way. He certainly recognized the enormous complexity and wonder of the universe. In The Lost World he writes:

"[Darwin had no idea] that life is so unbelievably complex... Nobody realizes it. I mean, a fertilized egg has a hundred thousand genes, which act in a coordinated way, switching on and off at specific times, to transform that single cell into a complete living creature. That one cell start to divide, but the subsequent cells are different. They specialize. Some are nerve. Some are gut. Some are limb. Each set of cells begins to follow its own program, developing, interacting. Eventually there are two hundred and fifty different kinds of cell, all developing together, at exactly the right time. Just When the organism needs a circulatory system, the heart starts pumping. Just when hormones are needed, the adrenals start to make them. Week after week, this unimaginably complex development proceeds perfectly --perfectly. It's incredible. No human activity comes close...

"I mean, you ever build a house? A house is simple in comparison. But even so, workmen build the stairs wrong, they put the sink in backward, the tile man doesn't show up when he's supposed to. All kinds of things go wrong. And yet the fly that hands on the workman's lunch is perfect."

However, to my knowledge, Crichton never professed faith in the Lord Jesus before he died. Crichton glimpsed the glory of the Lord in His creation, but unfortunately he didn't see God in it, nor did he accredit it to the Lord, but instead to chance. I pray that others would not make the same mistake.

November 10, 2009

The Authority of the Bible

I used this video last Wednesday at our Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting, provided by Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington:

November 9, 2009

Every Day

This song has helped me get through many days:

"Every Day"
By Joel Sczebel and Todd Twining
As recorded on Come Weary Saints

In Your grace, You know where I walk
You know when I fall
You know all my ways
In Your love, I know You allow
What I cannot graspTo bring You praise

Thank You for the trials
For the fire, for the pain
Thank You for the strength
Knowing You have ordained
Every day

Your great power is shown when I’m weak
You help me to seeYour love in this place
Perfect peace is filling my mind
And drawing my heart
To praise You again

In my uncertainty,
Your Word is all I need
To know You’re with me every day (repeat)

© 2008 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)/Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)
Sovereign Grace Ministries

November 3, 2009

An Interview with Steven Curtis Chapman

Steven Curtis Chapman has released a new album, the first since the death of his five year old daughter, Marie Sue. Justin Taylor shares an excerpt from Christianity Today's latest article on it: An Interview with Steven Curtis Chapman.

The album contains a song written specifically for his daughter entitled "Heaven is the Face", which you can watch here. Warning: this song has brought tears to my eyes every time I've heard it.

Update: here is the video, courtesy of

Posted using ShareThis

October 31, 2009

Free Wallpapers!

Just in case you haven't heard, Desiring God is offering free wallpapers with over at Don't Waste Your They're free to download and share and are based on John Piper's book Don't Waste Your Life. Enjoy!

October 30, 2009

Westminster Bookstore

Attention book lovers! If you have not heard of Westminster Bookstore, you'll be glad to know that this online bookstore has a wealth of resources for every Christian bibliophile and for every Christian in general. Some of the advantages of buying from Westminster:

1. Westminster's prices are often equal or less than that of other comparable sites, such as Amazon.
2. It is easier to find certain Christian books than at other websites.
3. When you buy from Westminster, you're supporting a Christian organization.

Next time you're looking for a Christian book, I encourage you to go to the Westminster Bookstore online.

September 21, 2009

Judging People Rightly

Justin Taylor shares a prayer that we all should take to heart:

Help Me to Judge Rightly
Lord, help me to judge others
as I want them to judge me:
Charitably, not critically,
Privately, not publicly,
Gently, not harshly,
In humility, not pride.
Help me to believe the best about others,
until facts prove otherwise—
To assume nothing,
to seek all sides of the story,
And to judge no one until I’ve removed
the log from my own eye.

May I never bring only the Law,
to find fault and condemn.
Help me always to bring the Gospel,
to give hope and deliverance,
As you, my Judge and Friend,
have so graciously done for me.

September 17, 2009

Free Download!

Sanctus Real Fans: Get a FREE DOWNLOAD of an Exclusive Acoustic version of “Whatever You’re Doing”

Sanctus Real is a band that I was able to see this summer for the fourth time. Every time I've been able to see them I've been encouraged and enjoyed their show. So, I highly recommend this download for everyone. Enjoy!

September 16, 2009

My New Baby Brother!

Tonight, James David was born at 10:12 p.m. with the weight of 7lbs. 11oz. Praise God for a new life in our home. My prayer for James is that he would grow up to know the Lord and to be a mighty man of God.

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

I'm So Sorry

I'm so sorry I've been gone so long. This past summer has been a busy one and the beginning of this year a rough one, but God is good and faithful and, by His grace, I will be able to get back on a regular schedule of posting. I have many ideas and thoughts and things I've learned that I'd like to share. Please look forward to those updates.

July 25, 2009

Antipsalm 23

Over on the Boundless blog, David Powlison has posted an article entitled Sane Faith, Part 1. In it he writes the Antipsalm 23, or what Psalm 23 would look like if God were not in our lives. He writes:

I'm on my own.
No one looks out for me or protects me.
I experience a continual sense of need. Nothing's quite right.
I'm always restless. I'm easily frustrated and often disappointed.
It's a jungle — I feel overwhelmed. It's a desert — I'm thirsty.
My soul feels broken, twisted, and stuck. I can't fix myself.
I stumble down some dark paths.
Still, I insist: I want to do what I want, when I want, how I want.
But life's confusing. Why don't things ever really work out?
I'm haunted by emptiness and futility — shadows of death.
I fear the big hurt and final loss.
Death is waiting for me at the end of every road,
but I'd rather not think about that.
I spend my life protecting myself. Bad things can happen.
I find no lasting comfort.xI'm alone ... facing everything that could hurt me.
Are my friends really friends?
Other people use me for their own ends.
I can't really trust anyone. No one has my back.
No one is really for me — except me.
And I'm so much all about ME, sometimes it's sickening.
I belong to no one except myself.
My cup is never quite full enough. I'm left empty.
Disappointment follows me all the days of my life.
Will I just be obliterated into nothingness?
Will I be alone forever, homeless, free-falling into void?
Sartre said, "Hell is other people."
I have to add, "Hell is also myself."
It's a living death,
and then I die.

Also, here's the real Psalm 23:

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk

through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me

all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

July 19, 2009

Quote of the Week

This week's quote comes from the great hymnwriter John Newton, most famous for his hymn "Amazing Grace". However, he wrote many other hymns, stood against slavery in his day (having been a slavetrader himself) and preached. He wrote:
Everything is necessary that he sends. Nothing can be necessary that he withholds.”
- John Newton

July 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Isaac Watts

On this day, in 1674, famed hymn writer Isaac Watts was born. His most famous hymns are probably "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" and "Joy to the World".

He was also a theologian and logician. Mars Hills talks more about his life:

July 16, 2009

Together for the Gospel 2010

I am absolutely ecstatic about T4G 2010. Registration has been open for a while already, but everything else seems to be in full swing as well now.

The unifying theme of the conference is: "The (Unadjusted) Gospel". The speakers will be the same as 2008: Albert Mohler, CJ Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, John MacArthur, Thabiti Anyabwile, and John Piper.

But new to this coming year is the choice of one "break out" sessions that will be made available to each participant. The speakers for these break out sessions include authors that I've read such as Kevin Deyoung (Why We're Not Emergent) and Josh Harris (I Kissed Dating Goodbye) and many others who I've truthfully never heard of, but every session sounds great. The only downside is that I can only choose one.

Oh, I can barely wait until 2010- all the good teaching, the great preachers, the fellowship with the men in my church and men and women in the Church worldwide, singing with over 5,000 men, spending time in downtown Louisville (where some of my family lives) and, of course, all the free books!

July 15, 2009

Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl

N.D. Wilson has released his new book, Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl. If it sounds interestin, watch the trailer below or read about the new book on Justin Taylor's blog. All I can say is that I can't wait to get my hands on this book.

Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl trailer from Gorilla Poet Productions on Vimeo.

July 14, 2009

Quote of the Week

This week's quote come from the last words of Jaroslav Pelikan:
If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen— nothing else matters.”

July 12, 2009

Disappointment with Philip Yancey

Following my summer reading list, I recently finished the book Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey. While I was encouraged by much of what Yancey had to say, I felt that some of the material he dealt with has been dealt with in better ways by other writers. Ultimately, I found the book itself a little disappointing.

In the book, Yancey deals with three questions: 1) Is God unfair?, 2) Is He silent?, and 3) Is He hidden? Of course, Yancey answers each of these questions with a resounding "no!", but he explores why even strong Christians must, at some point, deal with these questions. His main answer is that God requires faith and that He wants to see that grow in us.

My main problem with this book is that Yancey (in my opinion) takes anthropomorphism (or giving God human attributes to communicate truth) too far. He speaks of God taking risks (Chapter 6 is entitled "Risky Business" and of God having an "inner conflict"(pg. 141). I believe that Yancey is not being unorthodox, I only wish he would have been more careful in his wording and theologizing. In addition, as I said before, I simply think that there have been others (such as John Piper) who have done a better job in dealing with these questions that Yancey proposes. I do not mean to beat up Philip Yancey or his writing (other books of his are wonderful reads, such as In His Image, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, and What's So Amazing About Grace?), I simply would not recommend this particular book.

July 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, John Calvin

Yesterday, renowned theologian John Calvin (were he still alive) would have turned 500. The importance of this day has been covered by nearly every reformed person I know on the blogosphere, but a particularly helpful post can be found at Kevin Deyoung's blog here. For my part, instead of answering why Calvin is still relevant in today's world (that's been answered well in many other places), I will just affirm that, yes, he is and insist that whether or not you are reformed, you should read some of his work. I hope that we, the whole Church, can regain the sense of awe and reverence for God that John Calvin clearly had and rejoin with him in living our lives Soli Deo Gloria; To God's glory alone!

July 5, 2009

Quote of the Week

I know I haven't done this in a while, but here's the quote for this week. It's from Augustine of Hippo (who the Catholic church canonized soon after his death), an early church father who stood firmly for the Christian faith against the heresy of Pelagianism. His most famous works were his City of God and his Confessions. Recognizing the tendency that we as human beings have to ignore what is spoken by those we disagree with, Augustine simply said:

All truth is God's truth.

(John Piper discusses the abuses of this quote here)

June 23, 2009

Pierced for Our Transgressions

Penal Substitution. The sad fact is that most Christians have probably not heard of this crucial doctrine that lies at the very heart of the Gospel, or at least not in a way that is clearly defensible and biblically supported. And yet it is under attack at both the insitutional, academic level as well as the level of the average church member.

For these reasons, Steve Jeffrey, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach have released their joint book entitled Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution, which I have been reading recently. In their book, the three authors give an intelligent and thorough, yet accesible, explanation and defense of penal substitution. I would suggest every Christian read at least the first half of this book, which is the biblical and historical explanation of this glorious doctrine. But that's not to downplay the second half of the book which is just as useful in that it answers every objection to penal substitution that these men could find. The book as a whole is edifying and enlightening and one that I would highly recommend.

June 22, 2009

When This Passing World Is Done

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o’er life’s finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

When I hear the wicked call,
On the rocks and hills to fall,
When I see them start and shrink
On the fiery deluge brink,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

When I stand before the throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

When the praise of Heav’n I hear,
Loud as thunders to the ear,
Loud as many waters’ noise,
Sweet as harp’s melodious voice,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

Even on earth, as through a glass
Darkly, let Thy glory pass,
Make forgiveness feel so sweet,
Make Thy Spirit’s help so meet,
Even on earth, Lord, make me know
Something of how much I owe.

Chosen not for good in me,
Wakened up from wrath to flee,
Hidden in the Savior’s side,
By the Spirit sanctified,
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show,
By my love, how much I owe.

Oft I walk beneath the cloud,
Dark, as midnight’s gloomy shroud;
But, when fear is at the height,
Jesus comes, and all is light;
Blessed Jesus! bid me show
Doubting saints how much I owe.

When in flowery paths I tread,
Oft by sin I’m captive led;
Oft I fall—but still arise—
The Spirit comes—the tempter flies;
Blessed Spirit! bid me show
Weary sinners all I owe.

Oft the nights of sorrow reign—
Weeping, sickness, sighing, pain;
But a night Thine anger burns—
Morning comes and joy returns;
God of comforts! bid me show
To Thy poor, how much I owe.

-Robert Murray M'Cheyne

June 12, 2009

re:Sound and the Rain City Hymnal

Music from Resurgence (headed up by Mark Driscoll) has recently been released:

June 10, 2009

Summer Reading List

Yesterday on his program, Albert Mohler posted his recommended reading list for the summer. Along the same lines, I thought I would post a list of books that I intend to either finish or read through completely in the coming summer months. Of course, we’ll see how much of this actually comes to pass.

Books I intend to finish this summer:

1.The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
2.Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution by Steve Jeffrey, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach
3.Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Five other books I intend to read this summer:

1.Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey
2.Desiring God by John Piper
3.Knowing God by J.I. Packer
4.Christ and Culture Revisited by D.A. Carson
5.Guard Us, Guide Us by J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom

May 31, 2009

Failure and Success

I fail. A lot. Often, it seems that nearly everything that I start ends up dissipating or breaking up within a matter of time. But each failure I feel has made me stronger and more prepared for the next go 'round. And each taste of failure has made me more eager for success. Of course, I only want success if the glory is for God and God alone. I know I can't pick myself up when I fall- only God can do that.

So here I stand with this blog. If you have been reading or have read my blog, you may have noticed that I haven't posted anything in 20 days. And now I find myself wondering whether or not I should post again. The truth is, it would be really easy to just give it up, like so many other things. It would be easy to fail...again.

But I believe that God has given me this blog as a medium to share His Gospel with anyone who will listen and as an outlet to share my thoughts and meditations on His Word and on life in general. If no one listens, then that is fine. But, I pray that anyone who comes to this blog will see that God is the center and giver of my life. That would be the truest success.

May 11, 2009

All of Grace

Last night, as I came into God's presence in song and prayer, I was deeply overwhelmed that all that I am and all that I have received is due to the infinite grace of God. Every breath that I breathe, every second that I continue to exist is because of the grace of God!

And this grace is something that I could never earn or claim from God, but it is given solely because of the goodness of God. It is freely lavished upon me apart from any work or merit on my own part. For that I give God praise.

And not only has God given me grace upon grace, but He has promised me future grace that will never end, for when I get to Heaven the grace will never end.

And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6)

All of grace; it is all of grace!

May 3, 2009

Quote of the Week

This week's quote is from Jerome, an early Christian who was responsible for translating the Bible into Latin. His translation, the Vulgate, is still the official translation of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Church of Christ has been founded by shedding its own blood, not that of others; by enduring outrage, not by inflicting it. Persecutions have made it grow; martyrdoms have crowned it.

April 26, 2009

Quote of the Week

This quote of the week again comes from Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York.
“We do not have to make ourselves suffer in order to merit forgiveness. We simply receive the forgiveness earned by Christ. 1 John 1:8 says that God forgives us because He is ‘just.’ That is a remarkable statement. It would be unjust of God to ever deny us forgiveness, because Jesus earned our acceptance! In religion we earn our forgiveness with our repentance, but in the gospel we just receive it.”
- Timothy Keller

April 25, 2009

Wiliam Cowper

On this day in 1800, the often depressed, but talented hymn writer William Cowper died at the age of 68. Cowper spents most of his life battling depression and he was often helped by the preaching of his dear friend John Newton.

In his times of lucidity and joy, Cowper wrote such insightful hyms as "God Moves in a Mysterious Way":

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

April 24, 2009

He Must Increase...

I have been studying the Gospel of John in my personal Bible studies recently, and this verse stuck out to me:

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

This little phrase was said by John the Baptist, who modeled his whole life after this idea. He never drew attention to himself, but always sought to draw attention and glory to Christ until his death at the hands of Herod.

What a glorious testimony to how each one of us should live our lives. Just like John, we should seek to give of ourselves so that Christ may be glorified in everything. We must increase our time and devotion to Christ, while decreasing the focus we put on ourselves.

O, how I long to be selflessly and totally consumed with the things of Christ. I want to consider all for His glory and not my own. So for me, this has become the theme verse of my life.

What are your thoughts?

April 21, 2009

Matthew Patrick Brown (2009-2009)

Please take a few minutes to read this moving story about a family's hard decision to walk the Christian walk in some of the worst of circumstances.

Something that stuck out to me was this quote by the Matthew's mother:
"I now believe, we are called to selfless acts because in our attempt to selflessness, our selifishness is exposed."

Matthew passed away Sunday. Please pray for this family during this time.

April 19, 2009

Quote of the Week

This week's quote is by A.W. Tozer, author of such books as The Pursuit of God. This quote was found in the foreword of Preaching the Cross, a compilation of the sermons from Together for the Gospel 2006.

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.
-A.W. Tozer

April 18, 2009

What to Do when a Hero Fails You

I am writing this because, sometimes, we take great stock in other people. We look up to them. We respect them. They teach us and show us an example of who we want to be. Some would call these heroes; others might say role models or something else. Whatever the case, the idea is the same. But what do we do when someone who we consider so strong in the faith, so in tune with the Holy Spirit, fails us? It can be devastating and some of us might feel that we want to just sit at home and cry. But as Christians, how should we respond? This is in no way an exhaustive list, but here are my thoughts:

1.Realize that our hope is in Christ and Him alone. People will come and go. They will be here today and gone tomorrow, but Jesus has said that He will never leave us or forsake us. Others may die, get sick, have a bad day, or suffer from any number of things that will prevent them from being there for us. But Jesus Christ is alive and well, constantly strengthening and encouraging us and interceding with the Father on our behalf without fail. Not only that, but no matter how good a hero may be, no matter how much you may respect them, Jesus is the only perfect example. And that will never change

2.Realize that our heroes are human and they make mistakes. No one, no matter how honorable or great we may esteem them to be, is invincible in the battle against sin. All of our heroes, save for Jesus Christ, has sinned, and (unless they are no longer living) will sin again. Those who have walked with the Lord longer may be more faithful and they may not sin as often or as greatly as we see and perceive our own sin, but they do sin, more than we may even realize. Also, if our hero is a leader of any sort, then his or her sin will be magnified by the fact that it will be a more public sin.

3.Pray for them. Perhaps they are struggling with their faith. Perhaps, they had a momentary lapse of judgment or need the Lord’s guidance on a particular subject. But always remember this: even the greatest heroes have their tough times. We can help them by lifting them up in prayer and asking God to give them strength through the hard times.

4.Take time to appreciate what they have done in the past to edify you. Just because your hero has failed you in one area, it doesn’t mean that they are undeserving of any respect. If they were your spiritual hero before they let you down, then recognize that they have made a mistake, but don’t let one flaw blind you to everything good about the person. As humans this is often our tendency.

5.In some cases, confront them. If your hero is someone you know well, and they publicly sin against you, it is your responsibility to confront that person in truth and in love. After praying for that person and yourself, draw that person aside privately and show them from Scripture where they have sinned. Be straightforward, but not critical. Rather, make them aware of your concern for them. It is possible that they were blinded to their sin and they will be grateful to you for showing them the truth. If they do repent, accept their repentance and count it joy to have won a brother or sister over. If they do not however, follow Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 8: take two or three with you, and if that doesn’t work, take them before the Church. If that doesn’t work, then you may need to:

6. In some cases, withdraw support. If the person that you look up to starts forming a pattern and habit of sin(s), then it may be that it is time for you to stop supporting that person. As sad as it is to say, it is possible that your hero has pulled the wool over your eyes and that your hero is not who you thought he or she was. This course of action will of course need the help and discernment of other wise and strong Christians. These cases are truly painful, but remember...

7.Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because someone sins or promotes a faulty idea, it does not mean that you should not heed the things you have learned from them in the past. It also does not mean that you should try and forget your good memories with them. (Point 3.)

This is something that I have dealt with in my own life and spent some time thinking about and I hope it helps you.

April 12, 2009

Quote of the Week

This week's quote on Resurrection Sunday, comes from the liner notes of Andrew Peterson's album, Resurrection Letters, Volume II.

He came back.

After that brutal Friday, and that long, quiet Saturday, he came back.

And that one intake of breath in the tomb changes everything. It changes the very reason I drew breath today and the way I move about in this world because I believe he’s coming back again. The world has gone on for more than two millennia since Jesus’ feet tread the earth he made. What would they have said back then if someone had told them that some two thousand years later we’d still be waiting? They would’ve thought back to that long Saturday and said, ‘Two thousand years will seem like a breath to you when you finally lay your crown at his feet. We don’t even remember what we were doing on that Saturday, but let me tell you about Sunday morning. Now that was something.’

These many years of waiting will only be a sentence in the story. This long day will come to an end, and I believe it will end in glory, when we will shine like suns and stride the green hills with those we love and the One who loves. We will look with our new eyes and speak with our new tongues and turn to each other and say, ‘Do you remember the waiting? The long years, the bitter pain, the gnawing doubt, the relentless ache?’ And like Mary at the tomb, we will say: ‘I remember only the light, and the voice calling my name, and the overwhelming joy that the waiting was finally over.’

The stone will be rolled away for each of us. May we wait with faithful hearts.”

April 11, 2009

Isaiah 53:10-12

10But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
11As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

And here ends the song where it began- with Christ in glorified and His ransomed many forgiven of their sins and in awe of Him.
For these reasons, God was pleased to crush Him, not in the sense that God took pleasure in Jesus' pain and suffering. But it was His will to do so, so that God might save sinners and glorify His Son. Notice that in the same verse that it says God is pleased to crush His Son, it also says that the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

The last two verses speak of what Christ earned in suffering, namely His glory as Savior and our salvation and peace between us and Our Father. Christ justified us by earning our justification. In doing this, He was numbered with the transgressors not only in His physical death by hanging between two thieves, but also in the fact that He was counted sin on our behalf and bore the sin of many (2 Corinthians 5:21).

And because of His sacrifice, willingly given and paying the full penalty of our sin, bearing God's wrath and our judgment, He has earned for us our salvation. We can rejoice in the assurance that if we trust in Christ, our sins are forgiven and we will live with Him in glory forevermore. Please, understand the sacrifice that Jesus made for you and believe in these words, for they are the source of life.

Praise the Lord for what He has done. Hallelujah!

April 10, 2009

A Good Friday Poem

I was there in the crowd when my Savior died.
I am the man who yelled “crucify!”
I am the soldier who pierced His bloodied side
I am the one who His name denied.

I am the one who falsely accused.
I am the one who jeered and abused.
I am the one without an excuse
As I abandoned Him to the crowd's woos.

I betrayed Him with a kiss.
I gave Him up for less than He is.

I am the one who plucked His beard
I am the one who mocked and cheered
But I am the one who should have feared.
While in pity, His heavenly eyes teared

He took the path I should have tread;
I am the criminal who should have gone instead
But even as I placed the thorns on His head
I was the one who should have been dead.

And though it was my sins that sent Him to Calvary,
It was all according to His perfect plan
And though His death was because of me,
No detail escaped His sovereign hand.

He chose to die so that I might live.
When I took his life away, He chose to give.
I am the captive that He set free
By suffering Hell and giving His life...for me.

-Nathan C. Matthews

Isaiah 53:7-9

7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

Here we see that though Christ's death was graphic as previously described and the most excruciating and undeserved pain that anyone has ever endured, Jesus never opened His mouth to defend Himself or complain. Trexton puts it this way: "Meekly and without protest the Servant accepts His sentence to death and suffers execution. Although innocent, He is given a felon's grave." Ultimately, Christ's silence was not an admission of guilt, but instead a sign of His utter willingness.

However, Christ was vindicated in His burial. Because Joseph of Arimathea took Christ's body, He was not buried with the criminals, but instead in with a rich man.

Also, in this passage we see another image that is used to represent Christ- that of the Passover Lamb. So, not only is He the Good Shepherd who looks after His sheep, but also the Sheep who is sacrificed for His people. In fact, this is the image we see at the end of time. Through His sacrifice, Christ achieved the glory of not only being Creator, but Savior as well (Revelation 5:11-13).

Interesting note, this was the portion that was being read by the Ethiopian Eunuch when Phillip shared the Gospel with Him (Acts 8:26-34)

April 9, 2009

Isaiah 53:4-6

4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

Here begins in earnest the description of Christ's sacrfice. The first thing that we notice in these verses is that it is our sin that He died for. This passage makes it perfectly clear that He was without fault and that His death was not punishment for anything within Himself. Even so, when the onlookers saw Christ dying, many believed that it was well-deserved. After all, it is the crowd who killed Him. But He was not dying for His own sins, for He had none. Instead, He was pierced through for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities.

We must never forget this significant truth, for this is the core of our faith, the hope of our salvation. If Christ had been dying for His sins or as a result of some sin, it would mean that He was a false Messiah and not worthy to be followed and His atonement would have done nothing for us.

And our need for a Messiah is explained in verse 6, All of us like sheep have gone astray. Geoffrey W. Grogan, commentating on this writes: "Like sheep, our going astray is willful and purposeless." He also mentions that this image, that of the Good Shepherd is "probably a suggestion that this is an offense against love as well as holiness, for the Divine Shepherd is a tender loving image in the Bible."

And yet, though we all sinned against God's love as well as His holiness, it was an act of that same love in perfect accordance with God's holiness that secured for us our salvation.

April 8, 2009

Isaiah 53:1-3

1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

In the beginning of this chapter, the prophecy switches to prophetic past tense which is the natural tense for those of us who now live after these events.

Who has believed... revealed implies that few would believe when Christ came. This was certainly fulfilled when Christ came and died. Israel did not recognize the arm of the Lord and for this reason He was despised and rejectd by men. But even though Christ was despised and rejected and misunderstood, God watched and guided every detail of Christ's life as shown in 2a.

No stately form means that though Christ was and is the King Eternal, He did not come with any royal garb or emblem that showed Him to be a king. And though His way did not make sense to man, the Lord's might was in this all the way.

Lastly, this section begins the description of Christ's atoning death, which will be further discussed in the coming verses. For now, note that before His death, Christ was first despised by men and forsaken by them. But notice that these verses do not simply leave the blame on others, but is all inclusive in stating that we esteemed Him not. Christ's blood is on all our hands and tomorrow we will see what this means for us.

April 7, 2009

Isaiah 52:13-15

13 Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.

First, I would just like to point out that this Servant Song can be best understood in the context of the entire book of Isaiah (and with the whole Bible, or course).

This song (a loose term, it's not actually meant to be sung, necessarily) begins with the end in mind. When Christ returns, He will be before all people and high and lifted up and greatly exalted. This provides a sense of assurance for the latter verses in which we will be told the awful things that will befall this Servant (that is, Christ). It's almost as if we're being told, "Before you hear all the horrible things that are going to happen, you need to know that it will all turn out fine in the end. Actually, it will turn out better than fine. It will all work perfectly for the glory of My Son."

The phrase marred more than any man refers to the great torture that Jesus endured. It was so extreme that Jesus would not even be recognized as human and the people would be greatly astonished.

We also see here in the midst of a clear prediction of the Jewish Messiah a glimpse of God's unchanging heart for all people. For this reason, it says sprinkle many nations. Not only would the Jews receive forgiveness salvation, but people of all nations (Praise the Lord!). The term sprinkle refers to the priestly intercession that Christ would make on behalf of all who would accept the sacrifice that is going to be explained.

Essentially though, these three verses are more about the consequences of Christ's suffering than the suffering itself. The suffering itself will be further explained in the coming verses.

April 6, 2009

My Attempt at Exegesis

This week, leading up to Resurrection Sunday (Easter), I will be exegeting, or trying my best to interpret one of the Servant Song's from Isaiah, the one of Isaiah 52:13-53:12. This is the clearest prophetic prediction and reference to Christ and it is full of the grace and love of God as well as His justice in punishing His Son for our sins. This is also one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture. I will be splitting the 15 verses up into groups of three, so please bear with me as I attempt to explain this passage in my own words.

Thank you.

April 5, 2009

Quote of the Week

The quote for this week comes from William Temple, archbishop of Canterbuy from 1942-44. His definition of worship is one that is both intriguing and worth long consideration. He writes:

“Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God.It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness, nourishment of mind by His truth, purifying of imagination by His beauty, opening of the heart to His love, and submission of will to his purpose. And all this gathered up in adoration is the greatest of human expressions of which we are capable.”

April 3, 2009

Was Jesus a Good Man?

Though I know this has been explained in better ways by such people as C.S. Lewis, I have been thinking about this some recently and I thought I would put in my two cents.

My thesis is simply this:there are few things more intellectually dishonest than the belief that Jesus was only a good man.

Now, let me point out that the key word to this whole idea is the word only. I wholeheartedly and without any reservation affirm that Jesus was the only perfect man to walk upon this earth because in the divine mystery of it all, He was both God and man. Though He was tempted in every way that we are, He never sinned- never thought, desired, did, or refused to do anything that was contrary to the will and glory of God (Hebrews 4:15). So, in no way am I saying that Jesus was not a good man. In fact, He was the best there ever was or will be.

But what astonishes me is that so many people say that Jesus was a good man, or a moral teacher and leave it there, as if that could measure up to reality. In fact, in our culture where we are trying to be increasingly tolerant of others views and where we seek to avoid offending people at all costs, we have sacrificed truth and thereby most in America would espouse this ludicrous idea.

Why is it ludicrous? If I believe that Jesus was a good man, why do I have a problem with people who believe that He was only good? Am I just making a bigger deal out of this thing than is responsible or appropriate? I don't think so.

It really all boils down to this: Jesus did not give us the option of being thought of as a mere good moral teacher. He clearly believed that what He was saying was true, that He was the Son of God, and that He was the only way to God.

If He was not telling the truth in these instances, how could He be moral? A moral person does not lie or deceive in this nature. And if He believed that this was true, but it was not, then He was truly insane, for no sane person believes they are these things unless they are.

So this brings us to the three choices classically set out by C.S. Lewis in his famous book Mere Christianity. Lewis said that Jesus was either a "liar, lunatic, or lord". He said it this way:

"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would
not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with a
man who says he is a poached egg - or he would be the devil of hell. You must
take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or
something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and
call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about
His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us."

If I believed that He was a lunatic or a liar, I would delete this blog right now, cancel all future plans and "eat, drink, and be merry," for tomorrow I would definitely die. Life would be absolutely meaningless. But thankfully, I can say with full assurance and confidence that what Jesus said was and is true. He is the Son of God, the only way of salvation and life in this world and the Lord of my life.

March 31, 2009

Fear Inhibits Service

(This is my last post in my series on fear)

Fear and Death
The Focus of Fear
Love Vs. Fear
The Language of the Bible
What is Fear?
New Post Series on Fear

As I wrap up this series, I just want to comment on and express my deepest concern with the problem of fear. And that is simply this: that if we are afraid of man and what he can do to us, we will be inhibited in our service of the Lord.

Just think about it. We are called to share the Gospel, to take the Good News of Jesus' salvation to all the world (Mark 16:15). We aren't just going to go where it's safe and comfortable. We are called to go everywhere, at risk of our lives and comfort.

1 Peter 4:12 says "Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you," and similarly Jesus said:

"They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. . . . You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. (Luke 21:12-19)"

You see, Jesus promised that as Christians we will suffer, at one point or another, in our service of Him. But we are told this, not so we will be afraid, but so that we will be prepared. In fact, to counter the fear that might arise, Jesus said "But not a hair of your head will perish." This is to assure us and to embolden us in the face of fear as we seek to serve Christ even in the most hostile of situations.

Remember, "no servant is greater than his master (John 15:20)." If Christ was hated and abused, than we should not expect better for ourselves. But also remember, this is not reason to fear, for we are also told:

"Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10)".

So, this is my challenge to you: Go forth and serve the Lord with gladness and fear Him alone (Deuteronomy 10:20; Psalm 100:2). Never let your fear inhibit you in your service to the Lord. Focus on Jesus and His promises that can defeat the fear within your heart, for nothing is more damaging in our service to the Lord tahn to be afraid. I hope that you are emboldened and set on fire to serve the Lord this day.

March 26, 2009

My Newest Mentor

While I am in a book reviewing mood, I thought I'd put a plug in for a book that I have been thoroughly enjoying recently. The book is The Heart of a Servant Leader, by C. John Miller (who goes by the name of Jack). Jack was an average pastor (New Life Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia) who after years of ministry realized that He must make the Gospel central to his life in everything he did. Once he implemented that, God blessed him by growing New Life both in membership, but most importantly in the Lord. Also, God saved many through him as Jack witnessed everywhere he went. And somehow he was able to mentor many Christians in their faith.

And that's really what this book is. It's a collection of letters from a godly mentor to Christians seeking to serve God, not only in leadership positions, but in all of life. I appreciate his God-given wisdom and I thank God for allowing him to live and write these letters. When I get to Heaven, I can't wait to meet Jack.

March 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Fanny Crosby!

On this day in 1820, American hymnwriter, Fanny Crosby was born. During her life, she composed nearly 8,000 hymns. Despite her physical blindness, she saw the light. Praise God that she did!

Mars Hill Church in Seattle provides this video:

March 22, 2009

Quote of the Week

This week's quote is from John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church and author of many books including Don't Waste Your Life and Desiring God. This is probaby his most famous quote and one that has impacted many lives including my own.

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

-John Piper

March 21, 2009

Amazed by Grace

I am so thankful that even on days when I complain and don't honor God as I ought to, I am still drenched in the mercy of God. Even when I'm down right disobedient and ungrateful, God still extends His grace to me. For me, when I recognize God's grace in these times, I am most amazed by ít and led to repent of my wrong attitudes and pride.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised though, because God's not the one that's unfaithful.

The Lord's lovingkindness never ceases. His mercies never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I have hope in Him."
-Lamentations 3:22-24

March 19, 2009

Fear and Death

(This is my sixth post on fear)

The Focus of Fear
Love Vs. Fear
The Language of the Bible
What is Fear?
New Post Series on Fear

Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a man that my mom called her "second dad". It was a sad time, but a good chance to remember this man who was a Marine to the core and who loved his family and friends. The memories that were shared and the service in its entirety was a good chance for everyone to grieve their loss. All in all, I think it was good experience.

But what got me thinking was that in the service Psalm 23 was read. In it, David says, "Though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."

Though there are different interpretations of this, I think what David is saying is that he will not fear death or any evil in it. This is monumental because, as humans, the fear of death has to be one of the biggest fears in our lives. And yet David, speaking of going through death, says that he will not fear evil. Why?

The answer is that death is what David calls a shadow. But what does that mean? You see, for those whose trust is in the Lord, death is nothing more than a shadow. It might be dark and scary and might make you shiver when it passes over you, but it is absolutely harmless. Shadows never hurt anyone.

And that is what death is to us. It might look scary and painful, but it can't hurt us. Not ultimately, and not if our hope is in the Lord. Death is simply a passage into life. And not just life, a life that is infinite joy and bliss without any pain, sickness, sorrow, or death ever again. It is through death that we attain this life. Just as once the shadow passes over us the sun will shine again.

March 17, 2009

Stem Cell Misinfomation

Josh Brahm provides shows some facts that were either misrepresented or left out by news sources in the recent stem cell controversy.

Pure through the Refining Fire

In Matthew 5:8, Jesus says "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." I have mulled over this verse in my mind a good bit lately, and I have finally come to realize (as with many portions of Scripture) that this verse has more to it than I first thought.

The obvious meaning of the verse is that those who are pure (cleansed, without blemish) will see God when they die because they will go to Heaven. In that sense, it simply means that those who are saved are washed by Christ's blood and therefore made pure in heart. And in Greek, the heart was the center of being. Therefore, we see that those who are saved will see God because He will purify them with His blood. While I believe that this is definitely true, I believe there's more to this than first appears.

It is most certainly and unequivocally true that when we are saved, Christ's blood and righteousness cover us, (1 Corinthians 1:30; Hebrews 9:22) we are seen as pure in God's eyes and we do not need to add anything to Christ's work in order to get to Heaven. We are secure and pure. This is what is called redemption and it is completed in the moment we believe in faith on the Lord Jesus.

But there is another work that is done through the Holy Spirit and Christ's sacrifice within our lives that is not completed at the beginning of our salvation. In fact, it's not even completed in this lifetime. That work is called sanctification.

Sanctification is a continuous work of the Holy Spirit in which we are set apart and made to be like Christ. And we will never be completely like Christ until we reach Heaven (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). As long as we are on this earth, we are still sinning. So, in that sense, we are not pure. Even our hearts are not pure yet, because our hearts desire things that are not of God (Romans 7:15-23)

This leads me to think about the word pure. In a sense we are pure, but in another we're not. Our lives are still full of sin, but we are able to enter the gates of Heaven, because when God looks at us He sees the purity of Christ. We have attained saving righteousness (purity) because Christ has given it to us, but we have not attained purity of actions or heart. Not yet.

So when Jesus says that the pure in heart shall see God, He is not just referring to the purification that comes through salvation. In that sense, all Christians are pure in heart. But this purity of the heart is one that comes not instantly like salvation, but slowly in the process of sanctification. Katharos, the Greek word for pure in this verse, first means "purified by fire"(Greek Lexicon, emphasis mine).

So, how does this definition apply to this verse? You see, for us to be sanctified, to be purified, we must go through fire. But what kind of fire? I think that it could be said that when we, as Christians pass through difficult times in our lives with perseverance (whether it's a death or sickness or divorce or losing a job or whatever difficulty it may be), it is for our purification. These are the means by which God seeks to sanctify us and perfect us. No one has a great spurt of growth in their faith or is revealed the deep secrets of God in the easy times of life. And if people do grow in the good times, it is because they have learned to trust God in the difficult times beforehand.

So purity of heart is a result of going through the fires of hard times. I hope that this encourages us as we go through the tough times. Never think that God lets anything happen that is not for our good (Romans 8:28). Everything, whether good or bad, will ultimately be used for our good and purification. May we be purified through the fire by God's good will.



© 2009Mind in Renewal | by TNB