Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions Ideas

While I have not yet formally written down my 2010 New Year's Resolutions, here are some areas I'm considering. Perhaps some will be helpful to you as well. So, here are some things I'd like to 'resolve' to do/do better next year (along with relevant links):

See you next year, Lord willing!

Let the Nations Be Glad! sermons

I've been encouraged, exhorted--even at times entertained--by these missions messages entitled Let the Nations be Glad. John Piper, like no one else, stirs the believer's heart toward missions. In these messages, Piper asks some big questions like 'What is missions?', 'Why and how ought we do missions?', 'Is missions necessary?', etc. He asks big questions about hell and Calvinism and prayer and suffering. This is classic Piper: quotable, passionate, full of Scripture, Christ-exalting, and even humorous at times when Piper does his 'voices'.

Watch or listen. Put 'em on your computer and/or your device of choice!
May your 2010 be unforgettable and full of wonder as you come to a fuller understanding of the incredible worth of Jesus Christ! Happy New Year!
HT: Jason

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Am I a true believer?


From Martyn Lloyd-Jones devotional.
Picture of a true believer
... he faces the whole of [the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount]. He does not pick and choose, he allows every part of the Bible to speak to him. He is not impatient. He takes time to read it, he does not rush to a few favourite Psalms and use them as a kind of hypnotic when he cannot sleep at night; he allows the whole Word to examine him and to search him. Far from resenting this searching, he welcomes it. He knows it is good for him, so he does not object to the pain ... the true Christian humbles himself under the Word. He agrees that what it says of him is true. Indeed, he says, 'it has not said enough about me'. He does not resent its criticism, nor that of other people, but rather he says to himself, 'They do not say the half, they do not know me' ... He immediately conforms to the Beatitudes because of the effect of the Word upon him, and then, because of that, he desires to conform to the type and pattern set before him. Here is a very good test. Would you like to live the Sermon on the Mount? Is that your true desire? Is that your ambition? If it is, it is a very good and healthy sign. Any man who desires to live this type and kind of life is a Christian. He hungers and thirsts after righteousness; that is the big thing in his life. He is not content with what he is. He says, 'O that I might be like the saints I have read about, like Hudson Taylor, or Brainerd, or Calvin. If only I were like the men who lived in caves and dens and sacrificed and suffered everything for His sake. If only I were like Paul. O that I were more like my blessed Lord Himself.' The man who can say that honestly is a man who is building on the rock. He is conforming to the Beatitudes. Observe the nature of the test. It is not asking whether you are sinless or perfect; it is asking what you would like to be, what you desire to be.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, ii, pp. 312-13

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Still, still, still

I found someone who sings worse than me!



This video is hilarious, but the Chritmas Carol itself is actually quite beautiful. According to one web site, "The traditional Austrian carol "Still, Still, Still" is set to the "Salzburg Melody" dating from around 1819. "Silent Night," with words by Joseph Mohr and melody by Franz X. Gruber, is probably the most widely known and sung Christmas hymn in the world. It has been translated into 300+ languages."

Here is the Vienna Boys Choir doing it right!



Here are the English lyrics.

Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.

Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
Enjoy!

Warm Christmas greetings from the Bonhams. May the truth of the Incarnation lead us to the foot of the Cross!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Difference between mercy and grace?


Martin Lloyd Jones is helpful in this talk about mercy and grace:

What is mercy? I think perhaps the best way of approaching it is to compare it with grace ... The best definition of the two that I have ever encountered is this: 'Grace is especially associated with men in their sins: mercy is especially associated with men in their misery' ... while grace looks down upon sin as a whole, mercy looks especially upon the miserable consequences of sin. So that mercy really means a sense of pity plus a desire to relieve the suffering. That is the essential meaning of being merciful; it is pity plus the action. So the Christian has a feeling of pity. His concern about the misery of men and women leads to an anxiety to relieve it ... to have a merciful spirit means the spirit that is displayed when you suddenly find yourself in the
position of having in your power someone who has transgressed against you ... Are you going to say, 'Well now ... this person has transgressed against me; very well, here comes my opportunity'? That is the very antithesis of being merciful ... Or, again, we can describe it as inward sympathy and outward acts in relation to the sorrows and sufferings of others ... The great New Testament illustration of being merciful is the parable of the Good Samaritan. On his journey he sees this poor man who has been in the hands of robbers, stops, and goes across the road to where he is lying. The others have seen the man but have gone on. They may have felt compassion and pity yet they have not done anything about it. But here is a man who is merciful; he is sorry for the victim, goes across the road, dresses the wounds, takes the man with him and makes provision for him. That is being merciful. It does not mean only feeling pity; it means a great desire, and indeed an endeavour, to do something to relieve the situation.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, i, pp. 99-100 (quote taken from Daily Readings with Martin Lloyd-Jones)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Snow Day 2009

Thought this should go on the blog for posterity. We will enjoy looking back on this in years to come.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Free Christian Rap download!


Enjoy Shai Linne, Hazakim, Stephen the Levite and others on Lamp Mode's latest FREE release. Pass it on!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Piper article about Mary


This article sets the record straight on the veneration of Mary.
The veneration given to Mary in the Roman Catholic church is beyond what is warranted by the New Testament. In fact, it is astonishing how little we see of Mary in the New Testament. Let us honor her unique motherhood. Let us count her blessed as the mother of our incarnate Lord. But let us not put her on a pedestal that neither she nor Jesus would have approved of.

After she turns up with the disciples praying in the upper room in Acts 1:14, she is never mentioned again in the New Testament. This is astonishing to anyone who thinks that the veneration of Mary was an essential part of early church life. It was not important enough to be mentioned in any of the New Testament books after Acts.

In fact, in the one place where Paul comes close to mentioning Mary, he chooses not to, and simply speaks of generic “woman”: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman” (Galatians 4:4).

And when she is mentioned in Acts 1:14, she is “Mary the mother of Jesus” and listed alongside “his brothers.” This inclusion of the brothers has the effect of minimizing any emerging elevation of Mary as having significance only in being the mother of Jesus, rather than the mother of his brothers as well.

Please read the entire article here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Nothing But the Blood

I got a comment on my blog (on this post about the Curse Motif), so I'm celebrating with a follow-up blog here. To provide more reading on penal substitution, please start with Mark Dever's article, then enjoy other prominent theologians talk about this glorious doctrine.
More importantly than these of course is the Scripture itself.
  • Isaiah 53:6 - "the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
  • Isaiah 53:12 - "yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors."
  • Romans 3:25
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 - "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
  • Galatians 3:13 - "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us -- for it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree."
  • Hebrews 10:1-4
It has been suggested that the atonement/curse/penal substitution is negative, hateful. Quite the opposite. Knowing what God reveals about His plan for salvation of sinners is about the happiest doctrine you can ever know!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
-It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving thoughts



Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There is no pressure in present-giving (and receiving), delicious food is plenteous, and football is on the TV and in the back yard. Family get-togethers are great, and fellowship is rich. But this Thanksgiving I want to be sure that I am most thankful for the God who gives--not the gifts He gives!

In that spirit, here are some words from John MacArthur and a young preacher from Countryside.

Rekindling the Gratitude - John MacArthur
The Thanksgiving season is a wonderful time to heighten your sensitivity to the blessings bestowed by God. Thanksgiving grabs your attention, shakes the cobwebs loose, and reminds you of all God's most precious gifts. That's one reason Thanksgiving has always held such a special place in my heart. It rekindles in me the kind of God-centered gratitude that our Lord demands and deserves—the kind that should readily be on our lips year round.

To help stimulate that kind of deeper gratitude, my family has adopted a Thanksgiving tradition we've found extremely helpful. Each year after our Thanksgiving meal we gather in our living room and simply recite the blessings of God that have touched our lives. One by one we circle the room, each one of us expressing our gratitude to God for His many physical and spiritual blessings.

Allow me to share with you just five blessings that deeply touch me every year and prompt me to thank God. Perhaps it'll catch and you'll be able to rekindle your gratitude!

You're Saved and You Know It
No work of God's is more beyond my comprehension yet closer to my heart and more worthy of gratitude than salvation. Before coming to know Christ, each of us lived in a self-imposed prison. Guilty, condemned, spiritually blind, and with no means to pay our debt, our destiny was one of eternal separation from God.

But Christ not only rescued us from the power and penalty of our sins, He also lifted us to a place of blessing. He delivered us from punishment and brought glory. He took away the threat of hell and gave us the hope of heaven. He dismissed us from divine wrath and brought us a divine benediction. One hymn writer put that unfathomable transaction like this:

In wonder lost, with trembling joy, We take the pardon of our God; Pardon for crimes of deepest dye, A pardon bought with Jesus' blood, Who is a pard'ning God like Thee? Or who has grace so rich and free?

We sing of salvation. We talk of salvation. Salvation is the essence of Christianity. Thanking God for saving us should be the unceasing occupation of our lips—only a stone-cold heart could offer anything less.

Read the rest of the article here.

JD Summers (CSide) kicked of November with this message, and it still echoes in my brain and heart as we look to Thanksgiving tomorrow. JD asked, "What is it that you are most thankful for?" Stop and answer that before reading. JD went on to say that your answer to this reveals what is most important to you. Is it God or is it His gifts? God is the Gospel.

Finally, Jim Elliff has some practical ways we can honor God on Thanksgiving.

May the Lord richly bless you all with His mercy and grace!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Curse Motif Video

I have found a new website that is a real blessing: Recover the Gospel. They have a video that is worth sharing. It includes a condensed version of RC Sproul's 'Curse Motif' sermon from the T4G Conference of 2008. This sermon, listed on my sermon favorites (right panel), can be downloaded here. Please check out this video, though, and meditate on the glorious doctrine of penal substitution and what that means for sinners like us who deserve the wrath of the One and Only, Almighty God.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Opening Eyes by Joni Eareckson Tada

My wife forwarded this to me. Great reminder to cherish God's Word ...

Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
November 12, 2009
Opening Eyes
"Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the earsof the deaf
unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb
shout for joy"-- Isaiah 35:5-6

Dale stepped up to the pulpit and heaved onto it an incredibly large bookwith thick pages. As an elder lowered the microphone for him, Dale flipped toa section in the middle of the book. He adjusted his black glasses as if hecould see and began to read: "Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the kneesthat give way; say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, do not fear;your God will come.'"

I immediately recognized the familiar passage from Isaiah 35. Dale's huge andcumbersome book was the Bible written in Braille. But not the entire Bible.The volume from which he read that morning represented only several booksfrom the Old Testament. He had left most of his Bible at home because hecouldn't carry the entire thing!

The blind man continued his reading, with his hands placed squarely on thepage and fingers constantly moving over the bumps and points. He read withfirm authority. Every once in a while he paused while his fingers encountereda staple in the page (his way of underlining a verse).

Dale looked so small behind the big book and the even bigger pulpit. But inmy eyes, he seemed so large. The Bible must be incredibly precious to Dale, seeing that it requires such effort to read it, to underline a verse, and to even cart it around! I glanced at my Bible on my lap. I knew, after that day, I would never look at it quite the same.

How precious is your Bible to you? Is it time for you to see the Bible afresh as the Word of God, a cherished communication from our heavenly Father? Read the entire chapter of Isaiah 35 today and relish in the truth and hope which is the Word of God.

* * * * *

Heavenly Father, thank You that You loved us enough to reveal Yourself to usthrough the Word. Help me to read it with a fresh vision today.

Blessings,

Joni and Friends Taken from More Precious Than Silver.
Copyright © 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Plea to Christian Young People to Be Fools by Bryan Elliff

Found this article today, written to young people by Bryan Elliff (CF) when he was 18. It is written for young people but applies to all ages ...
The people of God are called to be fools for the sake of Christ. Many Christian young people are not.

When Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, he was fighting this very battle. He brought into sharp contrast the wisdom of the world and the foolishness of God. To the world in their wisdom, he said in chapter 1, the cross of Christ is utter stupidity. It is bloody, dirty, poor, and intellectually bankrupt—the historical execution of a Jewish, religious criminal. “But,” he said, “to those who are the called . . . [it is] Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1:24).” The cross does not cease to be dirty, and bloody, and poor, but to the called, this “foolishness” is seen as the glorious power and wisdom of the omnipotent and omniscient God.

The world hates the gospel. How else can you explain the martyrdom of the many early Christians in the Roman Coliseum, or the beheading of John and Betty Stam, missionaries to China, in 1934, or the brutal torture and death of three missionaries in Asia this past year? To the world in their wisdom, the cross of Jesus Christ is still dirty, bloody, poor, and stupid. And, possibly what is the most hateful of all, it demands of them absolute submission. That is the gospel that you are called to preach and live.
Read the whole article.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

116 Video - To Live is Christ by Trip Lee

As a follow up to Dan's Christ-exalting "Yes!" for God's Gift of Music post, here's a video from 116 (as in Romans 1:16) about Philippians. It's great to see the lyrics because I must admit I can't always follow all the great content being poured into these great rhymes! Enjoy this exposition of Philippians by Trip Lee ...



HT: RR

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Free Desiring God audio book download!


This month you can download John Piper's classic Desiring God in audio book format for free!

Click here for the offer from ChristianAudio.com.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Is God asleep in the cockpit?


Is God asleep in the cockpit? Sometimes it seems that way when we suffer, or see sin go unpunished and natural disasters claim lives. But is God aloof and uncaring? Is He asleep?

Jesus’ disciples said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? (Mark 4:38) while he slept in their boat. A boat which was filling with water from the crashing waves. But he calmly got up and rebuked the wind and the raging sea and all was still, like glass. The response? “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him? (Mark 4:41)”

So, in a sense, yes. He is asleep when we go through rough waters. Yet He is so sovereign over the events of history (to the minutest detail) that nothing happens apart from His intimate knowledge and providence. So to us He appears to be asleep ... clueless. But unlike the two pilots who played on their laptops while flying 150 miles past their desination, the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed holding all things together (Col 1:17). But it is no effort for Him to do so and this lack of effort can easily be misunderstood by weak-faithed creatures like us.

So Christ provides for the safety of His elect. What about food? In America it is hard to comprehend what it is like to go hungry, to wonder where the next meal will come from. Every American is richer than most everyone else in the world. But still we worry about our finances. Should we? Is Christ asleep or indifferent?

Mark paints a picture of Christ that is larger than life. He is actively going about healing lepers (Mark 1:40-45) and the blind (Mark 8:22-25) and the deaf (Mark 7:31-37) and even the dead (Mark 5:35-42). He walks on water (Mark 6:45-52) and casts out powerful demons (Mark 5:1-13) and multiplies food to feed the five thousand (Mark 6:39-44) and later, the four thousand (Mark 8:6-9). The word ‘immediately’ is all over the place in this real life action drama!

But Mark takes time to record the teaching that complements all these miracles. Jesus is alive and to be trusted. He has conquered sin and death and therefore Christians can trust Him to provide. Jesus Himself gives the answer to those who worry about their finances, and gets to the heart of that worry. It is a lack of faith and a wrong focus.
"Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" They said to him, "Twelve." 20"And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" And they said to him, "Seven." 21And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand? (Mark 8:17-21)”
Matthew 6:25-34 is perhaps the most famous passage about not worrying and is a great one to read when we find ourselves worrying about finances. But the point I want to make is that before we can stop worrying, we need to study the Person and the works of Christ so that we can fully understand why it is we’re not to worry.

Only when we read about Jesus in the Gospels, and His constant provision for His disciples and powerful display over Creation. Only when we have this fresh in our minds, can we fully trust the One who has done all these things, and therefore be encouraged by Matthew 6 and not worry about our life and our finances.

In fact, we will not only find relief from our anxiety about money and safety, but we’ll find ourselves taking up our cross in ways we never thought possible! Peter didn’t understand when Jesus told the disciples that He would be killed on the cross. He tried to rebuke the Master for talking like that. His problem was a wrong focus.

“Get behind me, Satain!” Jesus said to the one who had just confessed Him as the Christ in a most profound way (Mark 8:29-30). The answer to our lack of faith? “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. (Mark 8:34)”

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Parable of the Sower and Take up your cross

I read a couple of passages in the Gospel of Mark this morning that have sunk beneath the surface of my mind, and hopefully heart. I’m praying this morning that these will be in the forefront of my mind as I lead my family and make important decisions.

First, the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4.
And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3"Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold." 9And he said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
10And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that
"they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven."
13 And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold."
Mark 4:2-20 (ESV)
Lord, please let me be the one sown on the good soil. Let me “hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. (Mark 4:20)”

Later, I read this.
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man."
34And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
Mark 8:31-39 (ESV)
Lord, let me not be ashamed of you. Let me deny myself and take up my cross and follow you. Let me lose my life for you and for the Gospel. May Christ be my treasure.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Desiring God in Sign Language (ASL)


For my deaf friends, you can now see some of John Piper's sermons in American Sign Language (ASL). Click here to view the list. One of the neat things about Countryside, where my family and I attend church, is the willingness to embrace our deaf brothers and sisters in Christian fellowship. We have translators and have tried to learn ASL (some better than others, ... me-I'm one of the others)
I was happy to see that now DesiringGod is making sermons available in ASL. If you do not know sign language, maybe this is a good way to learn, by watching John Piper preach! Can't beat that!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mickey's Mantle of Faith


Here is an article about how Yankee great trusted Christ for salvation late in life:
It's October – World Series time.
During much of his Hall of Fame baseball career, Mickey Mantle was a fixture in the Fall Classic.
He was known as a great baseball slugger.
He was known as the fastest man in the major leagues.
And he was known as a hell-raiser off the field.
But two of Mickey Mantle's closest friends – Bobby Richardson and Pat Summerall – say that's not how he died 11 years ago. And, had he lived to see his 75th birthday tomorrow, the world would have a much different picture of the New York Yankee great.
Read the rest of this article-written in Oct 2006-here.
HT: Ryan

Friday, October 2, 2009

God is the Gospel Review - Pt 5


The conclusion contains some fantastic hymns with great lyrics that point to this truth that God is the Gospel. I will put a bow on this week of posts by quoting three of those hymns:

Be Thou My Vision
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Fairest Lord Jesus
Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heaven can boast.

All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,
Wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee;
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer,
Than Thou, my Savior, art to me.

Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forever more be Thine.

I Will Glory in My Redeemer
I will glory in my Redeemer
Whose priceless blood has ransomed me
Mine was the sin that drove the bitter nails
And hung Him on that judgment tree

I will glory in my Redeemer
Who crushed the power of sin and death
My only Savior before the holy Judge
The Lamb Who is my righteousness
The Lamb Who is my righteousness

I will glory in my Redeemer
My life He bought, my love He owns
I have no longings for another
I’m satisfied in Him alone

I will glory in my Redeemer
His faithfulness my standing place
Though foes are mighty and rush upon me
My feet are firm, held by His grace
My feet are firm, held by His grace

I will glory in my Redeemer
Who carries me on eagles’ wings
He crowns my life with loving-kindness
His triumph song I’ll ever sing

I will glory in my Redeemer
Who waits for me at gates of gold
And when He calls me it will be paradise
His face forever to behold
His face forever to behold

Thursday, October 1, 2009

God is the Gospel Review - Pt 4


Piper begins Chapter 11 with these words:

The best news of the Christian gospel is that the supremely glorious Creator of the universe has acted in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection to remove every obstacle between us and himself so that we may find everlasting joy in seeing and savoring his infinite beauty. The saving love of God is his doing whatever must be done, at great cost to himself, and for the least deserving, so that he might enthrall them with what will make them supremely happy forever, namely himself. Therefore, the gospel of God and the love of God are expressed finally and fully in God’s gift of himself for our everlasting pleasure. “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps 16:11)

In typical Piper fashion, he shocks us awake one last time with this cutting paragraph, which will be my final quote. If this doesn’t completely turn you off to the book, perhaps it will cause you to read it to see where he goes with this:
The God-centered love of God is foreign to fallen human beings, especially those hwo, like most of us, have been saturated for decades with doctrines of self-esteem. We have absorbed a definition of love that makes us the center. That is, we feel loved when someone makes much of us. Thus, the natural, human definition of love is making much of someone. The main reason this feels like love is that it feels so good to be made much of. The problem is that this feels good on wholly natural grounds. There is nothing spiritual about it. No change in us is needed at all to experience this kind of “love.” This love is wholly natural. It operates on the principles that are already present in our fallen, sinful, and spiritually dead souls. We love the praise of man. It feels good. Praise is to the ego what sex is to the body. It just doesn’t get any better—as long as we are spiritually dead.

The ground of natural love is finally me, not God. If you make much of me, I feel loved, because I am the final ground of my happiness. God is not in that place. He should be, but he is not. That is what it means to be unconverted and natural. The deepest foundation of my happiness is me (p 149)
Piper then goes on to talk about how unconverted people can ‘get religion’. There are plenty of churches that nurture this type of self-love, and even those that preach the truth twist the message in their heads to hear what they want to hear.
So it is possible even to see God as “in a sort, lovely” when we are not even genuine Christians. If he can be seen as a servant of our self-love, then we can see him as lovely. If he will make much of us, then we will be willing, up to a point, to make much of him. … The issue is: Where does the foundation of our joy lie? I s it ourselves or is it God? (p 150-151)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

God is the Gospel Review - Pt 3


This entire section was such a blessing and I found it very difficult to ‘pull out’ a quote because the entire section is quote-worthy.
The creation of the material world, including our bodies with all five senses, was God’s idea. He did not do it mainly as a temptation to idolatry, but mainly as a display of his glory. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). That is the purpose of a million species of animals and plants, and a million galaxies. “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4). Yes, if the thanksgiving is rooted in the sight of the glory of the Giver who is more to be admired than all his gifts, and supremely to be enjoyed in all his gifts (p 138).
It was also very special because by God’s providence, our family rented the Disney DVD Earth during the week I read this section, and as we watched this documentary (secular yet strangely missing all of the ‘millions of years ago’ allusions to evolution), we were enraptured by the majestic and spectacular images of God’s handiwork in creation. We were truly glorying in Christ for giving us such a planet to enjoy!
All the enticements to God that are not God are precious and precarious. They can lead us to God or lure us to themselves. They may be food or marriage or church or miracles. All of these blessings bring love letters from God. But unless we stress continually that God himself is the gospel, people will fall in love with the mailman—whether his name is forgiveness of sins or eternal life or heaven or ministry or miracles or family or food (p 143).
Piper then exposits Habakkuk 3:17-18 and Psalm 63:1-3 and Psalm 73:24-26 to illustrate this God-centered focus. He includes my favorite Augustine quote, “He loves Thee too little who loves anything together with Thee which he loves not for Thy sake (p 144)”. Finally, he brings in Jesus and Paul.
Jesus put it like this: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37). Jesus must be the supreme treasure of our lives, if we are true disciples of Jesus. Jesus died for us and rose again to make it possible for us to see him and savor him above all things with everlasting joy. This is the great good the gospel is meant to accomplish.

Therefore those who are permeated most deeply by the gospel speak like the apostle Paul: “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:7-8).
Piper ends the section with an amazing Jonathan Edwards quote (imagine Piper quoting Edwards?!?):
The redeemed have all their objective good in God. God himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is the wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honor and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they ar to rise to at the end of the world. The Lord God, he is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; and is the ‘river of water of life’ that runs, and the tree of life that grows, ‘in the midst of the paradise of God’. The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will forever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast. The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things; they will enjoy the angels, and will enjoy one another: but that which they shall enjoy in the angels, or each other, or in anything else whatsoever, that will yield them delight and happiness, will be what will be seen of God in them (p 145).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

God is the Gospel Review - Pt 2


As we continue to look at Piper’s God is the Gospel, here is a quote from Chapter 3. Has anyone ever asked you if you would be happy in Heaven if Christ was not there? It is a good question.
Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It’s a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God. If we don’t want God above all things, we have not been converted by the gospel. (p 47)

If we are not captured by [God’s] personality and character, displayed in his saving work, then all our declarations of thanksgiving are like the gratitude of a wife to a husband for the money she gets from him to use in her affair with another man. … Perhaps you have heard people say how thankful we should be for the death of Christ because it shows how much value God puts on us. In other words, they are thankful for the cross as an echo of our worth. What is the foundation for this gratitude?

Jonathan Edwards calls it the gratitude of hypocrites. Why? Because “they first rejoice, and are elevated with the fact that they are made much of by God; and then on that ground [God] seems in a sort, lovely to them … They are pleased in the highest degree, in hearing how much God and Christ make of them. So that their joy is rally a joy in themselves, and not in God.” It is a shocking thing to learn that one of today’s most common descriptions of the cross—namely, how much of our value it celebrates—may well be a description of natural self-love with no spiritual value. (p. 137)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Good sermon on being a 'Doer' of the Word

Just heard our associate Pastor, Bryan Neal deliver a sermon on 2 Tim 4:6-8 to our church at Countryside yesterday. I worked while I listened so I can't do it justice, but I will say it is worth the listen.

It has some sound preaching and gripping stories that illustrate what our desire for God's word ought to look like. Pastor Neal shared a story of a blind lady and the lengths she went to in order to 'read' the book of Mark, something we often take for granted. Also, he shared two stories from the antique roadshow and how they represent the right and wrong way to treasure the Faith.

Check it out (click here) and be challenged!

God is the Gospel Review - Pt 1


I picked up God is the Gospel for a couple of reasons. First, I was preparing for a formal opportunity to share the Gospel so I wanted to be clear on the message. I also want to internalize the truth of the Gospel so that I can communicate it going forward.

So grabbing Piper’s book, I quickly read the first chapter and was eager to dive into chapter two which looked as though it would provide a definition of what the Gospel was exactly. Here are the elements of the Gospel spelled out in this chapter.

  • There is a living God (Acts 14:15)
  • He Sovereignly reigns (i.e. ‘Your God reigns’ in Isa 52:7, Mark 1:14)
  • The King of the Universe (the Lord), the Messiah (Christ), has come to be a Savior (Acts 8:12, Luke 2:10-11, Rom 1:1-3)
  • Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures (Mark 10:45, Jer 31:34, 1 Cor 15:1-3).
  • Jesus is Risen from the dead (2 Tim 2:8, 1 Cor 15:17)
  • The Gospel includes the promise of the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16, 18; John 14:17-18).
  • The Gospel includes the promise of Salvation (Eph 1:13, Rom 1:16).
  • It includes the kind blessings that were purchased by the cross (Matt 4:23, Luke 4:18) partially now and completely in the age to come.
  • It includes peace with God (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18), and each other (Eph 2:14-18)
  • Eternal life (2 Tim 2:10)
  • Blessings of all nations (Gal 3:8,16; Eph 3:6)
  • The Gospel is good news of grace not human merit (Acts 20:24; Rom 11:5-6; Eph 1:4,6)
  • Jesus’ death makes God just in providing this grace (2 Cor 8:9, Heb 2:9, Rom 3:25-26)
  • Every blessing to redeemed believers flows to us by that grace (Rom 8:32)
Piper then explains the point of the book, namely that none of these elements define the Gospel completely, not even when you take them altogether. So what is the essence of the Gospel? Let us peak ahead to the last chapter:
The point of this book is that the Christian gospel is not merely that Jesus died and rose again; and not merely that these events appease God’s wrath, forgive sin, and justify sinners; and not merely that this redemption gets us out of hell and into heaven; but that they bring us to the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ as our supreme, all-satisfying, and everlasting treasure. “Christ … suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18).
Now if that seems a little deep, or hard to comprehend, good. Read the book and be taught by this gifted teacher. I came away with a deeper passion for Christ and a better understanding of the Gospel.

This week I seek to entice you to pick up Piper’s book by giving some of the juiciest quotes each day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Today's Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic by Walter Chantry


When you measure impact 'per word', Today's Gospel is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Other books are better, even on this topic (i.e. the Gospel According to Jesus?) But Walter Chantry’s little book (93 pages) attacks its enemy with the fatal precision of a God-guided missile from David’s slingshot (1 Samuel 17:45-50). Slumping to the ground is the stunned villain, the false gospel of America. In the name of organizational unity and unbiblical tradition, the evangelical church has created a monster, a man-centered gospel unable to truly change lives.

Chantry employs the best weapon of all, Scripture. The 'stone' that kills the giant is a masterful exposition of the Rich Young Man passage in Mark 10:17-31. Many other passages could have been looked at, and certainly other Scripture is brought in. But this book focuses on the evangelism of the Master in this instructive encounter, to show us how we fail to present the Gospel the way Jesus did.

In the introduction, Chantry spells out the gravity of the problem. He says American churches as a whole, are marketing a ‘product’ that is not the true Gospel and does not lead to changed lives.

By selling another gospel to our generation, Satan has been employing many sincere men in preaching a dethroned Christ The glories of the Savior are being hidden even from His servants because preachers will not give careful attention to the Gospel of God’s Word alone. Products of modern evangelism are often sad examples of Christianity. They make a profession of faith, and then continue to live like the world. ‘Decisions for Christ’ mean very little. Only a small proportion of those who ‘make decisions’ evidence the grace of God in a transformed life. When the excitement of the latest campaign has subsided, when the choir sings no more thrilling choruses, when large crowds no longer gather, when the emotional hope in the evangelist’s ‘invitation’ has moved to another city, what do we have that is real and lasting? … There has been a great deal of noise and dramatic excitement, but God has not come down with His frightful power and converting grace. (p 13)

Chantry attributes this lack of power to the use of an erroneous message in evangelism.

“On the shallow ground of man’s logic, large numbers have been led to assume they have a right to everlasting life and have been given an assurance which does not belong to them. Evangelicals are swelling the ranks of the deluded with a perverted Gospel. Many who have ‘made decisions’ in modern churches and been told in the inquiry rooms that their sins have been forgiven, will be surprised as Tetzel’s customers to hear ‘I never knew you; depart from me’ [Matthew 7:23]. (p 15)”

Wow, comparing American evangelism to the errors of Rome in the days of Martin Luther!? That is pretty significant, no? But it is a good analogy because there are so many practices which have become traditional rituals and have almost universal acceptance. Yet these are not found in Scripture (i.e. the ‘sinner’s prayer’, the ‘invitation’, and 25 repetitions of ‘Just As I Am’ at the end of every evangelistic service.)

Chantry shows us through Jesus' encounter with the young ruler the essential elements that well-meaning believers are leaving out of the Gospel message to unbelievers. We need to be talking about the character of God (chapter 1), and we need to be talking about the Law of God (chapter 2). Lost today is the idea of repentance (chapter 3) that we see in other places in Mark’s Gospel (Mark 1:15; 6:12) and the rest of the Bible. Repentance needs to be reclaimed in a proper understanding of salvation. Finally, Chantry shows how repentance and faith (chapter 4) are the ‘siamese twins’ of the Gospel (p 57), both essential. A biblical view of assurance (chapter 5) is set against the ‘easy-believism’ of our day. Finally, this evangelistic message is shown to have success only in the power that comes from God (chapter 6), as we come full circle to the opening observation that today’s Gospel is powerlessness despite prodigious effort and campaigns.

This book speaks with prophetic clarity to a very real and dangerous threat to the church. Personally, I was saved out of this false gospel three years ago. As a young boy, I was given a false assurance of salvation based on a number of outward steps and a ‘decision’ that I made. For thirty years I was a self-deceived sinner headed for hell, if not for God’s mercy (Eph 2:3b-10). I have no doubt that many people have been challenged by this book to stop holding on to a ‘decision’ they made for Christ as evidence of salvation. Or a prayer that they prayed, or walking an aisle and having some emotional experience. Instead we ought to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Cor 13:5). In addition, I have no doubt that many sincere Christians, through this book and the light of Scripture, have seen the errors in their evangelism and will seek to tell others the real Gospel. The Gospel that exalts God, not man. The glorious Good News of Jesus Christ, that is made available for broken sinners who-after seeing God in all His holy splendor-will be 'undone' (Isa 6:5) and begin to see themselves for the rotten sinners we all are (Rom 3:23), and run to Him in broken repentance and God-given faith in the Son of God.

I will close with one of the most eye-opening sections of the book. Chantry is teaching about the young ruler and his encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ. The rich young man runs up to Christ and kneels saying, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? (Mk 10:17b)” Listen to Chantry:

Here is an outstanding fellow begging to know how he can get to Heaven! This is the evangelist’s dream! Wouldn’t you open your Bible and ask him essential questions? ‘Do you believe that you are a sinner? Do you believe that Christ died for sinners? Will you accept Jess as your personal Savior? Pray this prayer after me ….’ He would answer in the affirmative to each question with very little instruction. Just show him the usual verses. This rich man was ripe for our evangelism. Our inquiry rooms would have elicited his ‘decision’ in a few moments, and given him assurance of eternal life besides. He would be added to the statistic sheet and his conversion reported across the world. Such a celebrity might even merit a personal write-up in the big evangelical magazines!

Aren’t you a little disappointed to see Jesus handling this tender soul so roughly? How could our Lord use such obviously poor tactics with a sinner? He began with a rebuke [Mk 10:18], went on to talk about the Ten Commandments (of all things!) [Mk 10:19-20] demanded immense sacrifice as a condition of having eternal life [Mk 10:21b], and allowed the ‘fish’ to get away [Mk 10:22]! Didn’t He know how to lead a soul to Himself? If you are surprised, surely you are the one who doesn’t understand evangelism. (p 19-20)

Monday, September 21, 2009

The God Who Saves Bad People

This is a 'MUST LISTEN' (I say listen because I'd prefer just the audio in this case):

HT: Thanks, Dan!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Calvinist and Arminian Witnessing - Funny Videos

To all my Calvin-hater friends, enjoy this funny (if not a little creepy) video ...

And since it's an equal-opportunity blog, this one pokes fun at Arminians ...

Found these at the Founders blog.
HT:Luke

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Christian Rap Artists interviewed on Albert Mohler Radio Show

Someone pointed me to these interviews and and I just recently found time to listen. Russell Moore (Together for Adoption) sometimes fills in for Al Mohler on his radio show, and has interviewed LeCrae Moore and Flame (Marcus Gray) on two separate occasions.

These men have been redeemed out of the 'hip hop' culture and are sharp, articulate, born again, and growing in grace. I think Marcus Gray is a student at Boyce College. They are creating music that is Christ-exalting and yet the highest quality! What other genre can you learn about terms like the 'hypo-static union', 'expiation', 'propitiation', and more, in such a fun way?

Anyway, chances are if you enjoy hip hop already, you'll enjoy these interviews. But even if you don't like hip hop, I say give them a listen and you may even praise God for gifting His sons in so many various ways! If nothing else it's kind of funny to hear Russell Moore talking about reaching the guy in the car next to you bumping the loud rap music. I didn't agree with all of the contextualization philosophies discussed by Moore, but it was a blessing to hear testimonies from these young men.

Click here for the Lecrae interview on July 16th.
Click here for the Flame interview back in July of 2008.

If you are interested in sampling some of these guys' music, they both have a MySpace where you can here some of their music. My personal favorite is 'Joyful Noise' because it has both of these guys praising Christ in some smoking tandem rhymes!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kevin DeYoung article: On Mission, Changing the World, and Not Being Able to Do It All

Apprently, this got blown all over the blogosphere when it was first published late last month (I'm just getting around to reading it). It strikes a really good balance, I think, between the important call to self-denying sacrifice that Christ calls for (Luke 9:23), and the ridiculous over-extension we often find ourselves in, which can lead to burnout. Check out this quote:
I’m not for a minute advocating a cheap grace or an easy-believeism. But the yoke still is easy, right? And the burden still is light, is it not? The danger–and it’s a danger I’ve fallen foul of in my own preaching–is that in all our efforts to be prophetic, radical, and missional, we end up getting the story of Pilgrim’s Progress exactly backwards. “Come to the cross, Pilgrim, see the sacrifice for your sins. Isn’t that wonderful? Now bend over and let me load this burden on your back. There’s a lot of work we have to do, me and you.” A cross, yes. Jesus said we would have to carry one of those. But a cross that kills our sins, smashes our idols, and teaches us the folly of self-reliance. Not a burden to do the impossible. Not a burden to always do more for Jesus. Not a burden of bad news that never lets up and obedience that is always out reach.
Read the whole article here.
HT: Steve

Come & Live! Free download


Get your FREE download of I AM Living Vol.1 at the Come&Live website. (Click here)

DesiringGod blog describes this ministry here ...
Come & Live! is an expression of the major themes of Don’t Waste Your Life (radical generosity, risk taking love, making others glad in God, missions, living simply for the sake of giving, etc). The basic idea is that the label is like a missions agency, the musicians are like missionaries, and you do not have to pay for the music. I am encouraged by how God calls men and women in different industries and cultures to find ways to make others glad in God within their context.

You can download for free without registration their first music sampler I Am Living Vol. 01. If you enjoy indie rock, hardcore, and alternative music styles you will find some tracks you will appreciate (there is a great variety). Also included is a sermon excerpt from John Piper.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jim Elliff's Autoblography

It's no secret I'm a ginormous fan of the teaching, preaching and writing of Jim Elliff. He is now writing his autobiography and making it available in installments on his website. Click here. His purpose is two-fold, to 'illustrate God's faithfulness' and to leave a record for his family.

I took chapters 1 & 2 on the bus last week. Without being too cliche, I smiled often, laughed (out loud-literally) and wept (not out loud), while nearly oblivious to those around me. Jim has a gift for writing and the Lord has given him much to write about! Like most of Jim's work, these chapters are short and very conversational, so travel back in time to read about how Jim's story began. Like me, you'll be anxious for more!

P.S. You can also follow Jim on Twitter here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Are the 'Doctrines of Grace' biblical?

If you are wondering what the doctrines of grace are, and whether they are biblical, you can find your answer on a great website called Monergism.com. The website has been redesigned of late and is a treasure-trove of rich Christian resources, both written and audio. In particular, I have found this particular Scriptural look at the doctrines of grace to be a huge blessing...

DOCTRINES OF GRACE – CATEGORIZED SCRIPTURE LIST on monergism.com.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Charles Spurgeon on Free Will


I get a daily devotional email that includes a quote from Charles Spurgeon. Lately there have been some great insights into Spurgeon's view of Free Will. Enjoy.
  • We declare on scriptural authority that the human will is so desperately set on mischief, so depraved, so inclined to everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good, that without the powerful, super-natural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will will ever be constrained toward Christ.
  • There is nothing I desire more to get rid of than my own will, and to be absorbed into the will and purpose of my Lord. To do according to the will of him who is most good, most true, most wise, most mighty, seems to me to be heaven. Let others choose the dignity of independence; I crave the glory of being wholly dead in Christ, and only alive in him.
  • Free-will doctine--what does it? It magnifies man into God. It declares God's purposes a nullity, since they cannot be carried out unless men are willing. It makes God's will a waiting servant to the will of man, and the whole covenant of grace dependent on human action. Denying election on the ground of injustice, it holds God to be a debtor to sinners.
  • Some set up the will as a kind of deity. It does as it wills with earth and heaven. But in truth the will is not a master but a servant. Men do not will a thing because they will it, but because their affection, their passions, or their judgments influence their wills in that
    direction. No man can truly say, 'I, unbiased and unaided, will to love God and not to love Satan.' Such a proud self-assuming language would prove him a liar. The man would be clearly a worshiper of himself.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Boettner's Reformed Doctrine of Predestination


Much of what I know about the doctrines of grace (i.e. Calvinism) I learned from a guy with a girl's name. Loraine Boettner is a gem, and has written a very helpful book on Calvinism called the Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. You can read it for free here.

Here are a few quotes to whet your whistle:
The purpose of this book is not to set forth a new system of theological thought, but to give a re-statement to that great system which is known as the Reformed Faith or Calvinism, and to show that this is beyond all doubt the teaching of the Bible and of reason. ...

The tremendous influence which this doctrine has exerted in the history of Europe and America should at least entitle it to a respectful hearing. Furthermore, we submit that according to all the laws of reason and logic a person has no right to deny the truth of a doctrine without first having studied in an unprejudiced manner the evidence on both sides. This is a doctrine which deals with some of the most profound truths revealed in Scripture and it will abundantly repay careful study on the part of Christian people. If any are disposed to reject it without first making a careful study of its claims, let them not forget that it has commanded the firm belief of multitudes of the wisest and best men that have ever lived, and that there must, therefore, be strong reasons in favor of its truth. ...

The book is sent forth with the hope that those who profess to hold the Reformed Faith may have a better understanding of the great truths which are here treated and may value their heritage more highly; and that those who have not known this system, or who have opposed it, may be convinced of its truth and come to love it. ...

The question which faces us then, is, Has God from all eternity foreordained all things which come to pass? If so, what evidence do we have to that effect. and how is the fact consistent with the free agency of rational creatures and with His own perfections?
As a side note, Boettner includes a quote about Sir Isaac Newton, which helps to explain why this doctrine bears Calvin's name:

We call this system of doctrine "Calvinism," and accept the term "Calvinist" as our badge of honor; yet names are mere conveniences. "We might," says Warburton, "quite as appropriately, and with equally as much reason, call gravitation 'Newtonism,' because the principles of gravitation were first dearly demonstrated by the great philosopher Newton. Men had been fully conversant with the facts of gravitation for long ages before Newton was born. These facts had indeed been visible from the first days of creation, inasmuch as gravitation was one of the laws which God ordained for the governing of the universe. But the principles of gravitation were not fully known, and the far-reaching effects of its power and influence were not understood until they were discovered by Sir Isaac Newton. So, too, was it with what men call Calvinism. The inherent principles of it had been in existence for long ages before Calvin was born. They had indeed been visible as patent factors in the world's history from the time of man's creation. But inasmuch as it was Calvin who first formulated these principles into a more or less complete system, that system, or creed, if you will, and likewise those principles which are embodied in it, came to bear his name."
This is a great resource to tackle if you are truly interested in examining the validity of Calvinism.

**UPDATE: Since posting this, a friend shared this other work by Beottner, The Reformed Faith. It is quite a bit shorter but also very helpful in coming to grips with God's sovereignty in salvation**

Friday, August 28, 2009

Religous but lost, to saved by God's Grace at 71

After living a self-righteousness religious life Richard was saved by God's Grace at 71 years old.


HT:Thanks Ryan!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Call for Prayer for Jared and Sudan

I felt led to share this letter. Jared Chasteen has ties to my church (Countryside) as his parents and siblings go there. The Lord has increasingly used this young man in the last couple of years. He is passionate about sharing the Gospel and has been faithful with opportunities to teach evangeslism in the youth group and Singles Ministry at LBC. He also serves in the book store there, where he has played a major role in stocking the shelves with quality Christian books. Jared has written many articles to help people discern between the good books and the junk.

I'm excited to see what the Lord has in mind for Jared and his family in the years to come. Please prayerfully consider supporting him on this trip, in your prayers-or even financially-as the Lord leads. Be praying also for the nation of Sudan (read more here).

Dear Friends and Family,

I pray that you all are well. This has been an exciting year for me. It has been a joy to watch my baby girl (Emma) grow into a little toddler as she celebrated her first birthday in June. She is also going to be a big sister as April and I are expecting our second child in January, if you hadn't already heard. On top of that, God has provided several opportunities for me to get involved in different ministries in our church, the most exciting of which is why I am writing:

God has opened the door for me to go on a short-term mission trip to southern Sudan with Lenexa Baptist Church, November 10-21. While in Sudan we will be working alongside e3 Partners Ministry as we seek to equip believers to evangelize the lost to establish reproducing churches (check out their website at www.e3sudan.com – God is using them to do some incredible things in Sudan). This area is four years removed from a two decade long civil war, during which time an estimated four million people were left homeless, another two million killed and starvation and malnutrition became commonplace. The lack of investment during this time meant a whole generation lost access to basic health services, education, and jobs. The United Nations has just recently declared southern Sudan one of the most underdeveloped regions in the world. In terms of people groups, it is also considered to be the third most unreached country in the world. A Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2005, but it is set to end in 2011, so there is a short window of opportunity to reach the people of southern Sudan with the Gospel. What an incredible opportunity!

Will you prayerfully consider being an integral part of what God is doing in southern Sudan? First and most importantly, we need your prayers. Pray that God would work in the lives and hearts of the Sudanese people. Also, pray that God would use our team to help plant Biblically based churches in the region. Second, your help is also needed to help cover part of my cost for this trip. The total cost is $3,750 per person. This is almost entirely travel costs as it is very difficult to get into this part of Sudan. Half of this amount is due September 1st and the rest is due October 1st, so time is short, but I know God will provide. In order for a trip like this to occur it requires a full church body effort not only of those who are willing to go, but of those who God enables to sacrificially give. Will you please pray about partnering together with me and through God’s grace in the Gospel make a lasting impact in an area that has long been neglected?

If God leads you to financially contribute, you have a couple of options. If you want to pay by check, please make your check payable to “e3 Partners Ministry” and return it to the following address:

e3 Partners Ministry c/o Finance

600 Development Dr., Ste. 120

Plano, TX 75074

In the note field of the check write my name as well as the five character code “SD09G.”

If you prefer, you can also give online:

https://www.e3partners.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=30189

In the Donation Information Section at the bottom of the screen, you need to choose “I’d like to give to a Team Member,” then type in my name and the five character code “SD09G.”

e3 Partners will then send you a tax receipt.

Thank you so much for praying about being part of our team. If you have any questions about what exactly we will be doing and where we will be going, I would love to tell you what I can. Please don’t hesitate to ask. Feel free to email me (jared.chasteen@att.net) or call me (913-390-6292). Again, thank you for partnering with me for the advancement of the Gospel in whatever way you God enables you (Philippians 1:2-6). I will be praying for you.

Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone!),

Jared Chasteen

1 Peter 4:11

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Free GTY book offer - safe in the arms of God


My wife and I were comforted immensely by 'Safe in the Arms of God - Truth from Heaven about the Death of a Child', after we lost a baby to miscarriage. GTY is offering Safe in the Arms of God free to anyone who would like a copy. Click here to get your free copy.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Recommended Reading

At work I get to enjoy the fellowship of believers through a Bible Study employee network group. Someone recently suggested we make a 'recommended reading' list available on our intranet sight. Below are the books we recommend, most of which are available to borrow.

Please get your hand on these and be blessed by these godly teachers. Some of the books are also available for free online. The complete list is in a spreadsheet here, along with hyperlinks to many online resources.

Between myself and a friend in the BSG, we own most of these books. We are making them available to those in our group who might want to borrow them. Please let me know if you would like to check out a book from this informal library as well, and we'll try to get that to you.

Adoption
Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches, Moore, Russel D.

Apologetics
Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith, Greg Bahnsen
Darwin on Trial, Johnson, Philip E.

Bible Study
Knowing Scripture, Sproul, R.C.
One True God, 3rd ed, Washer, Paul

Christian Living
Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will, DeYoung, Kevin
Stop Dating the Church: Fall in Love with the Family of God, Harris, Joshua
Keys to Spiritual Growth, MacArthur, John
Think Biblically!: Recovering a Christian Worldview, MacArthur, John
What Jesus Demands of the World, Piper, John
Five Things to Help you Grow, Sproul, R.C.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Whitney, Donald S

Classics
Confessions, Augustine
Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyan, John
Freedom of the Will, Edwards, Jonathan
Religious Affections, Edwards, Jonathan
Mere Christianity, Lewis, C.S.
Bondage of the Will, Luther, Martin

Devotionals
Morning and Evening, Spurgeon, Charles
Valley of Vision, Puritan writers

Election
The Potter's Freedom, White, James

Evangelism
The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, Dever, Mark
Share Jesus Without Fear, Fay, Bill
Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God, Packer, J.I.

Finance
The Treasure Principle, Alcorn, Randy
A Brief Account of the Life and Labors of George Muller/George Muller on Money and Possessions, Mrs. Muller

Theology
Heaven, Alcorn, Randy
Going Under: Discussions on Baptism, Elliff, Jim
Systematic Theology, Grudem, Wayne
Foundations of the Christian Faith, James Boice
Dangerous Duty of Delight, The, MacArthur, John
Knowing God, Packer, J.I.
Desiring God, Piper, John
Don't Waste Your Life, Piper, John
Pleasures of God, The, Piper, John
Holiness of God, Sproul, R.C.
The Cross of Christ, Stott, John R.W.

The Gospel
Today's Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic, Chantry, Walter J.
Pursuing God, Elliff, Jim
Justification and Regeneration, Leiter, Charles
Ashamed of the Gospel, MacArthur, John
The Gospel According to Jesus, MacArthur, John
Living the Cross-Centered Life, Mahaney, C.J.
God is the Gospel, Piper, John
All of Grace, Spurgeon, Charles

Missions
For the Sake of His Name, David M. Doran
Let the Nations Be Glad!, Piper, John

Parenting
Shepherding a Child's Heart, Tripp, Ted

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

JC is not PC - John MacArthur article in the Washington Post

John MacArthur addresses the public square with powerful truth from God's Word:

Let's be brutally honest: most of Jesus' teaching is completely out of sync with the mores that dominate our culture.

I'm talking, of course, about the Jesus we encounter in Scripture, not the always-gentle, never-stern, ├╝ber-lenient coloring-book character who exists only in the popular imagination. The real Jesus was no domesticated clergyman with a starched collar and genteel manners; he was a bold, uncompromising Prophet who regularly challenged the canons of political correctness.

Read the article here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Free Grace or Free Will - John Hendryx

John Hendryx Responds to Visitor Struggling with Free Will Vs. Free Grace

visitor: I am struggling with the Calvinism vs. Free Will debate. Why, when one "flees to Christ" as you say is there not the possibility of NOT fleeing to Christ. Is there not a choice involved here? Fleeing to Christ is not a work is it? Turning to Christ is not a work is it? Why is choosing to believe in Christ considered a work by so many Calvinists? When I believed in Christ I gave Him ALL the glory as I then understood that NOTHING I can do would satisfy God. ONLY what Christ did saves me! But I must choose to believe, trust, follow, Flee to Him! Where am I going wrong?

response: Thanks for writing with your excellent question. This hits directly at the crux of the matter. Salvation by grace alone in Christ alone was the very issue of the Reformation that Martin Luther battled the most with Erasmus and the Roman Catholic Church in the Sixteenth Century.

What is this issue of the bondage of the will all about? It points to what the Bible says is the real condition of the natural man. If we set aside church traditions for a moment go through what the Bible asserts about fallen man it may be surprising to you. First we need to establish whether or not man has a free will, according to Scripture. But how do we do this?

The Text not only says that the natural man is a sinner, but that he does not have the Spirit of God. He is not born of the Spirit. Agreed? Jesus says, Flesh gives birth to flesh and the Spirit gives birth to spirit (John 3:3,6) and "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail.”" (John 6:63) & Paul says that “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor 2:14). We do not receive things we think are foolish and that we do not understand. The natural man does not have the mind of Christ so even if someone preaches to him until he is blue in the face, he will not respond to the gospel unless God grants belief and repentance (see John 6:65 & 2 Tim 2:25, Eph 2:8). The Bible indeed declares that no one can believe without a preacher but this is not enough by itself …. the seed of the gospel that is cast forth from the preacher must be germinated, so to speak, by the Holy Spirit, if a person is to come to Christ. Paul explains how he knows some were chosen of God. He says, “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” (1 Thess 1:4, 5) This is clear evidence the Spirit is necessary, not optional for a person to be made alive so he may come to Christ..without which man would remain naturally dead to the things of Christ.

The Holy Spirit is critical for salvation, so critical that without Him, no one would ever willingly submit to the humbling terms of the gospel, not one would come to Jesus Christ. Agreed? Or do you believe the Scripture teaches that a man can come to faith apart from the Holy Spirit? All true Christians affirm the necessity of the Holy Spirit. So from this very fact, we have established that man has no free will. Again, what is meant when we say no free will? We are not speaking of someone coercing us from the outside. No. It means that we are in bondage to a corruption of nature, out of which we cannot free ourselves BECAUSE WE DO NOT HAVE THE SPIRIT and hate God by nature (John 3:19). We cannot draw from our own resources to even lift a finger toward our own salvation. Jesus says in the Gospel of John to the Jews that only the Son can set them free, but they are now children of the Devil the father of lies, who lies because it is in his nature. In Romans 6 it reads that natural men are slaves to sin, and elsewhere that that Satan has taken men captive to do his will. If Christ is to set us free then it means we were not free and in bondage.

So it is important to ask, can a person, without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, believe the gospel? Does the natural person have the capacity to understand spiritual things? According to the above passages the answer is clearly no. 'No one says “Jesus is Lord” apart from the Holy Spirit.' So the unbeliever is void of the Spirit which is another way of saying that he has no free will. He may make voluntary choices but they are choices of necessity. In other words, he necessarily chooses sin, apart from grace. Nothing he does springs from a heart that loves God. His condition, if left to himself, is hopeless. God must intervene to illumine his mind, open blind eyes, unplug deaf ears, disarm his natural hostility, change our disposition and turn our heart of stone to a heart of flesh.

So if we can agree that a man will not come to Christ apart from the Holy Spirit, then we also agree and have established that the natural man has no free will. God must act if we are to do anything toward our redemption (See John 1:13).

Read the entire article here

Finding Jesus on the Streets


I am not a regular listener to Focus on the Family, but this interview with Mike Yankowski is definitely one to catch! It is stunning to hear the story of these two men who walked the shoes of the homeless for months. Really gives insight into the plight of the poor.

About Me

Here is my testimony: mike