Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Life consists of . . ."

"Life consists of small social details."

Bruce K. Waltke, An Old Testament Theology, page 812.

Not far removed from idolatry


"Western evangelicalism tends to run through a cycle of fads. At the moment, books are pouring off the presses telling us how to plan for success, how 'vision' consists in clearly articulated 'ministry goals,' how the knowledge of detailed profiles of our communities constitutes the key to successful outreach. I am not for a moment suggesting that there is nothing to be learned from such studies. But after a while one may perhaps be excused for marveling how many churches were planted by Paul and Whitefield and Wesley and Stanway and Judson without enjoying these advantages. Of course all of us need to understand the people to whom we minister, and all of us can benefit from small doses of such literature. But massive doses sooner or later dilute the gospel. Ever so subtly, we start to think that success more critically depends on thoughtful sociological analysis than on the gospel; Barna becomes more important than the Bible. We depend on plans, programs, vision statements -- but somewhere along the way we have succumbed to the temptation to displace the foolishness of the cross with the wisdom of strategic planning. Again, I insist, my position is not a thinly veiled plea for obscurantism, for seat-of-the-pants ministry that plans nothing. Rather, I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight. Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry."

D. A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry, pages 25-26.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Good intentions: Beware

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25

In the final verse of his book, the author explains what went wrong during those disastrous years of Israel's history. What happened? Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. They didn't do what was wrong in their eyes but what was right. They meant well. But good intentions are not enough. We need good judgment. And that comes from beyond ourselves. It comes from King Jesus, who rules through his Word.

"But I care so much" -- the next time that thought enters our minds, justifying us to ourselves, let's beware. Let's ask ourselves more searching questions like, "Okay, if I'm so right, then what I feel like doing/saying will be clearly authorized in the Bible, chapter and verse. So, where is that validation? And if I can't find it, maybe I need to doubt myself more and trust the King more, according to his royal Word. His perfect ways are better than my good intentions."

Where are the buccaneers for God?


"Where are the young men and women of this generation who will hold their lives cheap and be faithful even unto death? Where are those who will lose their lives for Christ's sake -- flinging them away for love of him? Where are those who will live dangerously and be reckless in his service? Where are his lovers -- those who love him and the souls of men more than their own reputations or comfort or very life?

Where are the men who will say 'no' to self, who take up Christ's cross to bear it after him; who are willing to be nailed to it in college or office, home or mission field; who are willing, if need be, to bleed, to suffer and to die on it?

Where are the men of vision today? Where are the men of enduring vision? Where are the men who have seen the King in his beauty, by whom from henceforth all else is counted but refuse that they may win Christ? Where are the adventurers, the explorers, the buccaneers for God who count one human soul of far greater value than the rise or fall of an empire? Where are the men who glory in God-sent loneliness, difficulties, persecutions, misunderstandings, discipline, sacrifice, death? Where are the men who are willing to pay the price of vision?

Where are the men of prayer? Where are the men who, like Job of old, count God's Word of more importance to them than their daily food? Where are the men who, like Moses, commune with God face to face as a man speaks with his friend and unmistakably bear with them the fragrance of the meeting through the day?

Where are God's men in this day of God's power?"

Howard Guinness, Sacrifice, pages 59-60.

Conversion

"The two hemispheres of my mind were in the sharpest contrast. On the one side a many-islanded sea of poetry and myth; on the other a glib and shallow 'rationalism.' Nearly all that I loved I believed to be imaginary; nearly all that I believed to be real I thought grim and meaningless. . . . Hence at this time I could almost have said with Santayana, 'All that is good is imaginary; all that is real is evil.' In one sense nothing less like a 'flight from reality' could be conceived. I was so far from wishful thinking that I hardly thought anything true unless it contradicted my wishes."

C. S. Lewis, on his view of life prior to Christian conversion, in Surprised By Joy, pages 170-171.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. Colossians 1:13

Monday, April 28, 2008

You might be old



If you get this silly, fun foolishness, you might be old -- like me. If you don't get it, you are none the poorer! But you may be the kind of person to whom I now have a responsibility. My firm belief: When a guy hits his 50s, he is already well into that season of life when God has laid on him the privilege of turning around and lifting up, encouraging, praying for, believing in, including and empowering the rising generation of all-out radicals who will, God willing, massively outperform my generation for his glory. To help that along -- for an old (but still useful) guy like me and maybe you, what a privilege!

A formidable power

"The Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman." Judges 4:9

A courageous woman of God is a formidable power and a gentle challenge to us men, who sometimes hang back in excessive caution. May God bless the ministry of truewoman08.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

One proud dad

My three sons -- what great men! If you are still living in the outer darkness, unaware of their blogs, here are the links:

Eric's blog

Dane's blog

Gavin's blog

Oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3

The ESV Study Bible



I have met people who knew a lot about baseball, a lot about oldies rock and roll [oops], a lot about computers, a lot about a lot, but I have never met anyone who knew the Bible too well. Not one person. Ever. Especially not in these times.

The ESV Study Bible comes out this October. I see an opportunity here. Could we all give ourselves ESV Study Bibles for Christmas and then set 2009 apart as "Our Year of the Bible"? Could we all give less to other things so that we give more to the Bible? Could we bore down together and discover the wonders of this holy Book as never before? Could we acknowledge our spiritual hunger, and thoughtfully, carefully, attentively, daily feed our souls? Could we shut off the noise and listen? Could we re-set our focus from the voices inside our heads to the Voice in the Book? And if we did, is it even conceivable that we could then come to the end of 2009 and say, "Dang. I could have done more TV and more computer and more video games and more dumb stuff. What a loser year 2009 has been! Next year, man, it's going to be different. No more of this Bible-focus for me. I'm going to LIVE again"? Is there any chance, any chance at all, that could happen? Or might Jesus become more real to us? Might the Holy Spirit be poured out? Might we look back on 2009 as our turn-around year?

October 2008. The ESV Study Bible. Think of the possibilities.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Confession: a sin-weakening power


"Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. . . . In confession the light of the gospel breaks into the darkness and seclusion of the heart. The sin must be brought into the light. The unexpressed must be openly spoken and acknowledged. All that is secret and hidden is made manifest. It is a hard struggle until the sin is openly admitted. But God breaks gates of brass and bars of iron. . . . The expressed, acknowledged sin has lost all its power. It has been revealed and judged as sin. It can no longer tear the fellowship asunder. Now the fellowship bears the sin of the brother."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, pages 112-113.

Two fears

"True fear comes from faith; false fear comes from doubt. True fear is joined to hope, because it is born of faith, and because men hope in the God in whom they believe. False fear is joined to despair, because men fear the God in whom they have no belief. The former fear to lose him; the latter fear to find him."

Pascal, Pensées, #262.

Stone and steel

"Sam's plain hobbit-face grew stern, almost grim, as the will hardened in him, and he felt through all his limbs a thrill, as if he was turning into some creature of stone and steel that neither despair nor weariness nor endless barren miles could subdue."

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, page 913.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Out of town

I leave Nashville for Orlando Monday morning, returning Thursday afternoon, D.V. I'll be blogging again as soon after my return as I can. Thanks for checking in. God be with you.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Insight on Cosby -- plus more



May our churches be not melting pots where the races get mushed together into a blended blur but more like stew where the different ingredients -- the beef chunks, the carrots, the peas, the potatoes -- come together in a tasty mixture, and everybody wins. If it doesn't happen in our churches, where on earth will it happen?

Thanks to Justin Taylor for drawing my attention to this video.

You're not crazy

A campus minister I know and admire, when he calls someone new onto his staff, gives them a plaque to hang on their apartment wall. It simply says, "You're not crazy."

When we live all-out for the Lord -- and there is no other way to live -- we will at times think, "I must be crazy. Nobody should have to live like this. Holy cow, this is costing me big-time. Can I sustain it? Is it worth it?"

And the world will whisper to us, "You're crazy. You shouldn't do this to yourself. Don't you know stress is bad for you? And if you don't have your health, what do you have? Nobody is listening to you, anyway. You're throwing your life away, buddy -- your one, unrepeatable, precious opportunity for happiness. Are you crazy?"

You're not crazy. To stand before the Lord Jesus Christ, as very soon every one of us will, and to hear him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant," is worth anything. But to hear him say, "Depart from me" -- nothing is worth that.

This life is short, but it matters forever. And we have wonderful promises in the Bible, every one of which will prove entirely and gloriously true, promises of his presence now and his reward forever, promises which can hang like plaques on the walls of our minds every time we turn around, telling us this truth: "You're not crazy. Go for it, baby. You're not crazy at all. You are so smart to trust Jesus, lean on Jesus, obey Jesus, look to Jesus, live for Jesus, rejoice by faith in Jesus, promote the cause of Jesus. He's a good boss to work for. He rewards well. You are so not crazy!"

Friday, April 18, 2008

The light of the world


"Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. For we shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out."

Hugh Latimer, to Nicholas Ridley, upon their martyrdom in Oxford, 1555.

They, and so many others like them, then and now -- the light of the world.

Wonder of wonders


For the Lord has called you
like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,
says the Lord, your Redeemer. Isaiah 54:6-8

"The verse [verse 6] contains two pictures: one of a strained, narrow-eyed, embittered woman, and the other of a laughing bride with dancing eyes. This last term connotes all the happiness of the first days of marriage and expresses the way in which most men think of their wives in moments of tenderness -- 'the woman I married.' But the laughing eyes have been turned into bitter eyes by broken dreams and scattered hopes. The bride has been rejected, and the fault of it is her own. Nothing is left but a life of going through the motions. But, wonder of wonders, her Husband, who is her Maker, calls her back to all that might have been and yet will be again."

John N. Oswalt, Isaiah 40-66, pages 420-421.

Bad announcer, dead audience, great doo-wop

It gives life

"A diffuse and vague guilt feeling kills the personality, whereas the conviction of sin gives life to it."

Paul Tournier, Escape From Loneliness, page 163.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Together for the Gospel 08

Just back in town after T4G 08 in Louisville with Gavin and Dane. (I wish Eric could have come too, though, Eric, I am sending you some books I picked up there. So you can share with us in it at least a little.) My primary take-away from the conference comes from C. J. Mahaney's address this morning. His introductory point: It is not enough to be faithful in serving Christ. The test is to be joyful as well as faithful in serving Christ.

How then is joy inspired and sustained day by day? One, gratitude to God: "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you" (Philippians 1:3). God has given us people to care for. Ministry is a gift, a privilege, and therefore a joy, not an imposition to chafe under. If God gave me what I deserve, he'd say, "You're so outta here, buddy." But instead, he gives me and you the gift of responsibility for others, and undeserved gifts make us happy.

Two, faith in God: "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). We are walking among living miracles of God's saving power, and he is totally committed to them. We may be confident that they will shine with glory forever, and God has involved us in their unfolding story. What a joy!

Three, the affection of Christ Jesus: "God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:8). Christ Jesus on high feels deep, intense, rich, eternally joyous affections for everyone in our care. If he feels that way about them, then we can look to him, watch him, observe him, take note of him, marvel at him, and the affections of our own hearts for them are refreshed.

I am refreshed, to the praise of God.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Off to Louisville

Tomorrow morning I'm off to Louisville for Together For The Gospel with my sons Dane and Gavin. Back with you later this week. Thanks for checking in. God bless.

Loafing with Luther: lightheartedness as spiritual warfare

"Do not be anxious about my health. To be sure, I do not know what is the matter. But because I feel that I am not suffering from any natural disease, I bear my condition more easily and scoff at the messenger of Satan who buffets my flesh. If I cannot read and write, I can still meditate and pray and in this way contend with the devil, and I can also sleep, loaf, play and sing."

Martin Luther, writing to Philip Melanchthon, July 31, 1530, quoted in Theodore G. Tappert, editor, Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, pages 154-155.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The P-51: my ideal daily commute

A good day


"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:10

"You have been so much tortured, nothing counts any more. If nothing counts any more, my survival doesn't count either. If nothing counts any more, the fact that I should not have pain also does not count. Draw this last conclusion at the stage at which you have arrived and you will see that you will overcome this moment of crisis. If you have overcome this one moment of crisis, it gives you an intense inner joy. You feel that Christ has been with you in that decisive moment."

Richard Wurmbrand, quoted in John Piper, Desiring God, page 235.

Friday, April 11, 2008

My heroes

Thinking gratefully this afternoon about the inspiring power of heroes.  God gives us the privilege of knowing amazing people whose lives say, "Follow me, as I follow Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).  He has given me many such heroes.  They include:

1.  My wife Jani.  Intrepid, faithful, kind-hearted, Bible-cherishing, wise in understanding, radiant with godly loveliness.  Her life is a story of total devotion to the will of God.

2.  My children.  Eric, the tender.  Krista, the lovely.  Dane, the thoughtful.  Gavin, the sincere.  They far surpass all my dreams and expectations, as do their wonderful spouses Erin, John, Stacey and Esther. 

3.  My dad and mom.  Dad: cheerful, rugged, strong, tender, biblical, not taken in by fads, steady, mainstream, loving, truth-revering, prayerful, devout.  He lived filled with the Spirit, he died filled with the Spirit.  Mom: loyal, determined, hard-working, talented, witty, charming, brave.

4.  My Sunday school teachers when I was an ungrateful, naughty little boy.  I can't even remember their names.  But the truths they patiently taught me week by week, now deeply impressed into my being, can bring me to tears in a moment.

5.  The men of my ordination council at Lake Avenue Congregational Church in 1975.  They laid their hands on me, prayed for me and sent me off with the sacred trust of the gospel.  Thank you, brothers!

6.  My seminary profs.  At almost no pay, they cheerfully imparted to me the understandings and skills I cherish and use to this day.  I was immeasurably enriched for a lifetime.

7.  The humble, saintly people, many of whose faces pass before me even now, who have received my preaching through the years -- at Peninsula Bible Church, Banchory-Ternan West Parish Church of Scotland, Cascade Presbyterian Church, First Pres, Christ Pres, and now the lovely and dear Immanuel Church of Nashville, and elsewhere.  I have always admired most the people who admired themselves least, and more so now than ever.  The simple people who lived and worked and served and prayed and suffered, and all they wanted out of it was Jesus.  Heroic!   

8.  My friends on faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School -- brilliant, articulate, scholarly, dedicated, prayerful, sincere, delightful.  Don, John, David, Dennis, Clem, Gleason, Warren, Willem, Wayne, Bruce, Tom, Doug, and others.  Precious, inspiring men.  I didn't deserve to serve at their side, but I drew strength from them more than they know.

9.  Faithful, steady, brave pastors (and other leaders) I know, who give themselves wholeheartedly to the church.  They don't sneer at the church.  They don't invent alternatives to the church.  They love and honor and serve the church, for Jesus' sake.  Mark, John, Paul, Harry, Buster, Bryan, Kent, George, Ligon, Phil, Reddit, C.J., Greg, Tim, Andy, Julian, Sam, William, Eric, David, Steve, so many others.  I could weep just thinking of what their lives mean, the temptations they have refused, the sacrifices they have embraced, the miracles they are.

10.  Last but by no means least, my own people.  Bravehearts, eager for a bold new initiative for Christ.  Easy to love and lead.  Ready in prayer.  Open Bibles, open hearts.  Wholehearted.  Generous.  United.  Hard-working.  Reasonable.  Gentle.  Thoughtful.  Attractive.  Fun to be with.  Above all, Christ-focused.

I am a rich man, with much to live up to.   

Your church and you

In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.    Ephesians 2:22

"The secret of the Christian life is not the eradication of sin but inhabitation by the Holy Ghost.  Let God dwell in you by the Holy Ghost and sin will not.  The Church is truly the receptacle of God's fullness, described as 'the fullness of him that filleth all in all.'  That can be realized only by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Therefore the corporate life of the Church is the means and the end of God's revelation to and redemption of the individual soul."

Harold J. Ockenga, Faithful in Christ Jesus, page 136.

Christ, the salvation of relevance

"The central dogma of the Incarnation is that by which relevance stands or falls.  If Christ was only man, then He is entirely irrelevant to any thought about God; if He is only God, then He is entirely irrelevant to any experience of human life.  It is, in the strictest sense, necessary to the salvation of relevance that a man should believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Unless he believes rightly, there is not the faintest reason why he should believe at all."

Dorothy Sayers, Creed or Chaos?, page 36.

Thoughts about God


Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts.    Ezekiel 14:3

"Let us beware lest we in our pride accept the erroneous notion that idolatry consists only in kneeling down before visible objects of adoration, and that civilized peoples are therefore free from it.  The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of him."

A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, page 11.

What is there to talk about?


"Does not art then become merely the expression of dim dreams, the dreams of a man who seems to be saying almost out loud, 'I must say something, but what is there to talk about?'"

Helmut Thielicke, The Waiting Father: Sermons on the Parables of Jesus, page 24.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What is Christianity?

Q: You're saying that Christianity is a gigantic Sinners Anonymous group?
A: Sort of. You admit you have a problem, then you admit that you are powerless to do anything to solve your problem, and then you turn your life over to God to solve the problem over which you are powerless. And then he does.

Eric Metaxas, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God, page 158.

The Art of Spiritual War



"As I pointed out in The Art of Political War, in political combat the aggressor usually prevails. Aggression is advantageous because politics is a war of position. Position is defined by images that stick. By striking first, you can define the issues and can define your adversary. Definition is the decisive move in all political wars. Other things being equal, whoever winds up on the defensive will generally be on the losing side."

David Horowitz, Left Illusions: An Intellectual Odyssey, page 360.

True in spiritual warfare too. Too many churches are not aggressive. They are not redefining what really matters. They accept the world's definitions and try to add in a little Christianity. They do not compel attention, even their own people's attention.

Are we aggressively redefining all of life according to God's good news for bad people through the finished work of Christ on the cross? Are we surprising people, beginning with our own churches? Are we getting people to think and rethink with new categories of gospel-thought? Or are we servicing the whiney, selfish American way of life with the greasy lubricants of religious self-reinforcement?

"The aggressor usually prevails."

Supporting or competing?

"Set your mind on God's kingdom and his justice before everything else, and all the rest will come to you as well." Matthew 6:33

"We need to take careful note here . . . that Jesus in no way suggests that these 'all the rest' items are inherently evil, that our lives would be more Christian and our commitment to God truer if we would eliminate as many of them as possible. Not at all; these things are to 'come to you as well,' and it is right and good that they do. The simple life is not to be equated with the least possible consumption of worldly goods and satisfactions. No, the point is that these things can be good -- very good -- if they are used to support man's relationship to God rather than to compete with it."

Vernard Eller, The Simple Life, pages 28-29.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

This Book



"Christ in print."

Jim Elliot's description of the Bible, quoted in Shadow of the Almighty, page 39.

"Always estimate men in proportion as they estimate this Book."

Henry Alford, The Greek Testament, I:v.

Adorned



"And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Revelation 21:2

This is the gospel's answer to our shame. Every one of us knows the shame of guilty self-awareness and the fear of exposure. But we don't want to live in the isolation of that darkness. We long for freeing relationships with others, especially God. But without the gospel, we hide, conceal, falsify ourselves, in order to appear better than we are. Or, conversely, we may trot out our failings with assertive self-display, demanding acceptance -- a more modern response.

The gospel says, "Your shame is real, even more real than you know. But this is what God has done. He put it all onto Christ at the cross, where your Substitute was utterly shamed and exposed and condemned for you. Now your shame no longer defines you. What defines you, what reveals your future forever, is this word: '. . . adorned . . . .' Not shamed. Adorned. Lovely. Attractive. And the moment is coming when he will look into your eyes with glad adoration, and you will look into his eyes with confident surrender. And nothing will ever, ever spoil it again."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Noways tired



No video, unfortunately. But the song carries power by itself:

I don't feel noways tired
I come too far from where I started from
Nobody told me that the road would be easy
I don't believe he brought me this far to leave me

This helped my wife and me, as we listened on a cassette player during my doctoral work in Scotland and we were broke but trusting God. And he proved faithful. Noways tired today, either!

"If you believed in Jesus, . . ."

"'For myself,' she continued, '. . . I believe that what's right today is wrong tomorrow and that the time to enjoy yourself is now so long as you let others do the same. I'm as good, Mr. Motes,' she said, 'not believing in Jesus as a many a one that does.' 'You're better,' he said, leaning forward suddenly. 'If you believed in Jesus, you wouldn't be so good.'"

Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood, page 221.

Breakthrough power

"Because its purpose is entertainment, and because people are more easily amused by the comical and ridiculous than by the noble and edifying, sensate art readily resorts to comedy, farce, satire and ridicule. In order to avoid boring the viewer or hearer, it constantly changes, always looking for something new and exciting. As Sorokin says, 'Since it does not symbolize any supersensory value, it stands and falls by its external appearance . . . [making] lavish use of pomp and circumstance, colossality, stunning techniques and other means of external adornment.' Nowhere is this more evident than in the colossal motion pictures of our day or in the neopagan spectacles such as the half-time show that accompanies the Super Bowl football game."

Harold O. J. Brown, The Sensate Culture, page 39.

In our day of wearisome spectacularization and exhausting hype, real worship, simple sincerity, truth well presented, can make a powerful impact. A church with modest technical resources today has all the potential for breakthrough power that the early church experienced - the felt presence of the risen Christ, according to the gospel!

Spiritually invigorating

"I would say that one of the best things that could happen to many believers would be for them to be led to give away, all at one time, a substantial part of their savings. That is, they should give a substantial part of their capital. Why? Because there is something about giving away a sizable percentage of one’s money – and, of course, the amount would vary entirely from one individual to another – that is spiritually invigorating. And there is seldom a case in which a large gift does not throw the Christian back on the Lord and increase the feeling that he is all-wonderful and that he is more than able to care for the one who trusts him. I have seen this happen in many instances. And I have never known a true Christian to be sorry for even the most sacrificial giving afterward."

James Montgomery Boice, Philippians, page 290.

So fabulously flat

"Pray also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel." Ephesians 6:19

"Read Attlee's autobiography As It Happened, quite fabulous work, completely flat, but so flat, so fabulously flat, as to be fascinating. Thus he retired to hospital with 'prostate trouble,' and while there some people tried 'to get rid of me as leader,' but this 'met with little support.' It would be interesting to consider how he'd describe the Day of Judgment."

Malcolm Muggeridge, diary entry for 12 April 1954, in Like It Was, page 469.

May our churches pray for their preachers, like me, so that we reach by faith for God-given words to do at least a little justice to the grandeur of the gospel!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Cool guys or faithful heralds?



"His royal Master had given [Paul] a message to proclaim; his whole business, therefore, was to deliver that message with exact and studious faithfulness, adding nothing, altering nothing, and omitting nothing. And he was to deliver it not as another of man's bright ideas, needing to be beautified with the cosmetics and high heels of fashionable learning in order to make people look at it, but as a word from God, spoken in Christ's name, carrying Christ's authority, and to be authenticated in the hearers by the convincing power of Christ's Spirit."

J. I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, pages 43-44.

Friday, April 4, 2008

I'm not fearing any man

So attractive, so persuasive

"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." John 15:11

When asked why he rejected Christianity, Friedrich Nietzsche answered, "I never saw the members of my father's church enjoying themselves."

"We all know the value of joy. It alone is the proof that what we have really satisfies the heart. As long as duty or self-interest or other motives influence me, men cannot know what the object of my pursuit or possession is really worth to me. But when it gives me joy, and they see me delight in it, they know that to me at least it is a treasure. Hence there is nothing so attractive as joy, no preaching so persuasive as the sight of hearts made glad. . . . There is no proof of the reality of God's love and the blessing he bestows, which men so soon feel the force of, as when the joy of God overcomes all the trials of life."

Andrew Murray, Abide In Christ, pages 173-174.

A great opening day



About an hour before this video was taken, I took my first-ever gobbler here in Tennessee. He is now proudly mounted and displayed on my study wall, in full flight. Come by and see it sometime.

And thanks, Joe!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Lucky

Rich Mullins: "And especially in a day when so much emphasis and so much pressure is put on us to esteem ourselves. I don’t know how anyone can wake up with morning breath and pillow head and feel any self-esteem. That is not the sort of thing that I want to put my faith in. And in the church—it’s unbelievable to me that this whole foolishness about esteeming yourself has leaked into the church. I kinda go, ‘Christ didn’t ask us to esteem ourselves.'

I think if [we] would have asked, I think He would probably say, 'Look, buddy, you’d be lucky if you could forget yourself. If you could lose yourself, you’d be luckier than if you found yourself.' It would be wonderful if you knew the names of the trees between your house and where you work, between your house and your church. If you knew that was a tulip tree and that was a redbud. It would be great if you knew the names of the constellations. It would be great if you knew something about your neighbors. It would be a lucky thing for you if you forgot yourself, if you lost yourself."

That pretty much nails it. Thanks to Karisblog.

Prayer is boring



"The work of the Spirit can be compared to mining. The Spirit's work is to blast to pieces the sinner's hardness of heart and his frivolous opposition to God. The period of the awakening can be likened to the time when the blasts are fired. The time between the awakenings corresponds, on the other hand, to the time when the deep holes are being bored with great effort into the hard rock.

To bore these holes is hard and difficult and a task which tries one's patience. To light the fuse and fire the shot is not only easy but also very interesting work. One sees 'results' from such work. It creates interest too; shots resound, and pieces fly in every direction!

It takes trained workmen to do the boring. Anybody can light a fuse.

This fact sheds a great deal of light upon the history of revivals, a history which is often strange and incomprehensible. . . . The Spirit calls us to do the quiet, difficult, trying work of boring holy explosive material into the souls of the unconverted by daily and unceasing prayer. This is the real preparatory work for the next awakening."

Otto Hallesby, Prayer, pages 76-77.

The Tongue

"My translator told me, 'Brother Yun, these people don't want to know the truth. That's why they're not calling you or wanting to meet you. In China, Christians are persecuted with beatings and imprisonment. In the West, Christians are persecuted by the words of other Christians.' This new kind of spiritual persecution was no easier than physical persecution in China, just different. I cried out in prayer, asking the Lord for strength. I forgave the people behind this attack from the bottom of my heart, and we continued our trip."

The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun, pages 308-309.

A great way to die



Caspar Olevianus (1536-1587), second-generation German reformer, when asked on his deathbed whether he was confident in Christ's salvation, breathed out a one-word answer: "Certissimus." Most certain!

Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, I:534.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

History's all-time understatement



"We are nowhere forbidden to laugh."

John Calvin, quoted in John T. McNeill, The History and Character of Calvinism, page 436.

Reality is . . .

"Among other things, [Jonathan] Edwards challenges the commonsense view of our culture that the material world is the 'real' world. Edwards' universe is essentially a universe of personal relationships. Reality is a communication of affections, ultimately of God's love and creatures' responses."

George M. Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life, page 503.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Christ in the slums

"While theologians at the Universities of Tubingen and Utrecht were diminishing the total of Christian belief, strange charismatics in the slums of Mexico City and Sao Paulo, of Recife and Rio, of Cape Town, Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi, were adding to it. The first group spoke for thousands; the second for scores of millions."

Paul Johnson, A History of the Modern World From 1917 to the 1980s, page 702.

Why I love the American woods: you just never know what might walk out

Nobodies


In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will." Luke 10:21

"Our Savior's joy lay very much in this, that this revelation to men was being made through such humble instruments. We read that 'He lifted up his eyes to his disciples and said, Blessed be ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.' There was not among the twelve or the seventy one person of any social status. They were the common people of the field and the sea. . . . The grandest era in the world's history was ushered in by nobodies, by persons who, like their Leader, were despised and rejected of men."

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, "The Joy of Jesus," in The Treasury of the New Testament, I:793.