Learning to hear "Rumours of Glory" and see "Shafts of Grace".


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Nov 25, 2011
@ 11:05 pm
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The Glasses of Grace »

But there’s another way to look at the world, another way to experience life, and that’s through the lens of grace. With these glasses on you’ll reckon that most days are a whole lot better than you deserve. And on the really hard days, you’ll fight to believe that God is working even this for good. With the glasses of grace, you’ll smile when other people succeed. Instead of experiencing life as a series of disappointments and occasions where you were not given the treatment you deserve, you’ll experience life as a gift. You’ll see grace all around you. You’ll celebrate the grace you see in someone else or given to someone else. It’s a profoundly different way of viewing the world.

When you look at life with nothing but fairness goggles, you will constantly feel like you’ve been put in last place when you deserved to be first. But when life is seen through the glasses of grace, you’ll learn the joy of feeling like you’ve been put first even when you know you are last.

Source: Kevin DeYoung, The Gospel Coalition


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Oct 27, 2011
@ 9:28 am
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Loved with everlasting love,
Led by grace that love to know;
Spirit, breathing from above,
Thou hast taught me it is so.
Oh, this full and perfect peace!
Oh, this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease,
I am His, and He is mine.

Heaven above is softer blue,
Earth around is sweeter green;
Something lives in every hue
Christless eyes have never seen:
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow,
Flow’rs with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know,
I am His, and He is mine.

Things that once were wild alarms
Cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms,
Pillowed on the loving breast.
Oh, to lie forever here,
Doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear,
I am His, and He is mine.

His forever, only His:
Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss
Christ can fill the loving heart.
Heaven and earth may fade and flee,
Firstborn light in gloom decline;
But, while God and I shall be,
I am His, and He is mine.

— George Wade Robinson (1838 - 1877)


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Oct 27, 2011
@ 9:15 am
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Steve Jobs: “He Knew the Couple of Things He Wanted to Do” »

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Steve Jobs, the biography by Walter Isaacson, went on sale yesterday. In an interviewIsaacson commented on the effect Jobs’ cancer had on his life focus.

He talked a lot to me about what happened when he got sick and how it focused him. He said he no longer wanted to go out, no longer wanted to travel the world. He would focus on the products. He knew the couple of things he wanted to do, which was the iPhone and then the iPad.

Wisdom in the House of Mourning

I just preached at a funeral. Funerals are high privileges for me. “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). So much wisdom is to be had there. “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). This is what the house of mourning is for: Lessons in mortality and the learning of wisdom.

Sometimes God makes us go to the house of mourning. He decrees cancer. We are forced to live in the shadow of our funeral—the school of wisdom.

The wisdom Steve Jobs learned, he said, was this: Do a couple things, and do them well. You don’t have time for much. And most of things are not lasting. So do two or three things, and do them amazingly.

Not a bad lesson. In fact, really good—as far as it goes.

What Matters Is United in One Thing

But when Paul described what he learned in the long shadow of his own funeral, it was based not merely on the inevitability of death, but on the death of death. “Death is swallowed up in victory”—through Jesus Christ.

Here’s the lesson: “Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

There is one thing, not two or three, that matters. All is united in one thing: “The work of the Lord.” It might be computers. It might be conversions. Whatever it is, in the shadow of your funeral, let it be “the work of the Lord.”

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). “Whatever you do, do everything in the name of the Lord” (Colossians 3:17). By faith in Jesus, every act becomes this one thing—the work of the Lord.

Let Us Learn

Get the wisdom of the house of mourning. Learn from the shadow of your own funeral. One thing matters. Whether you make an iPhone, or use an iPhone, let every breath, every thought, every deed be one thing—the “work of faith”—the work of the Lord.

Source: Desiring God


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Oct 5, 2011
@ 3:19 pm
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Rethinking Spiritual Growth »

"Our main problem in the Christian life is not that we don’t try hard enough to be good, but that we haven’t believed the gospel and received its finished reality into all parts of our life." - Tullian Tchividjian 

Source: Resurgence


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Sep 16, 2011
@ 2:39 pm
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Christ, the Church, and Pat Robertson »

It’s easy to teach couples to put the “spark” back in their marriages, to put the “sizzle” back in their sex lives. You can still worship the self and want all that. But that’s not what love is. Love is fidelity with a cross on your back. Love is drowning in your own blood. Love is screaming, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”

Sadly, many of our neighbors assume that when they hear the parade of cartoon characters we allow to speak for us, that they are hearing the gospel. They assume that when they see the giggling evangelist on the television screen, that they see Jesus. They assume that when they see the stadium political rallies to “take back America for Christ,” that they see Jesus. But Jesus isn’t there.

Jesus tells us he is present in the weak, the vulnerable, the useless. He is there in the least of these (Matt. 25:31-46). Somewhere out there right now, a man is wiping the drool from an 85 year-old woman who flinches because she think he’s a stranger. No television cameras are around. No politicians are seeking a meeting with them.

But the gospel is there. Jesus is there.

Source: Moore to the Point


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Sep 7, 2011
@ 10:06 am
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Joyful Obedience?

“[Jesus] who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2b (ESV)

 

Joy and obedience? These are two words that most people rarely associate together. Obedience evokes the picture of dreary duty and submissive behavior; joy on the other hand means for many doing what pleases you.  To obey means at best to stoically press on or at worst to do so resentfully – a reluctant compliance.  So how can obedience be joyful? What motivates joyful obedience?

 

While obedience is the distinguishing mark of all of God’s servants, the best example is the obedience of God’s flawless Son, Jesus Christ as he lived on earth some 2000 years ago. As J I Packer writes, “Jesus’ obedience on earth meant, positively a purpose and practice of always pleasing his Father by doing his will, obeying his commands, faithfully relaying all he was told to say, and always seeking his glory and honor, that is, that [God’s] name would be hallowed and praised.”  The gift of righteousness of God, that is forgiveness of sins and “rightness” with God, comes to us through Jesus’ perfect obedience learned – that is perfected by practice – in the midst of suffering. By faith when we trust and believe into Christ Jesus, his faultless obedience is attributed to us believers and we are looked upon by God as “right” in his sight.

 

This aspect of Christ’s obedience also sets for us the standards for Christian behavior. Obedience for Christians means to imitate God in holiness and Christ in love and humility, subjecting oneself to God’s Lordship and his revelation (words). What motivated Christ’s obedience? Jesus obeyed and endured the sufferings on the cross “for the joy that was set before him”. Christ obeyed because of the promise of a future reward! Jesus obeyed to the end, despite the lashing, the abuse, the humiliation, and the pain of taking on the God’s wrath for the sins of the world, for the sake of the joy of what God has already declared that he will do. The assurance being that God has said that he was saving a people for himself through the cross, creating a community of his people, making all things right, and restoring the world to the blessedness as it was meant to be – where God himself will be our God and we his people.

 

What should then motivate our joyful obedience? It is the gratitude for the grace already received through Christ and the wondrous promise of this future reward. This delighting in the promises of God would move us to obedience. May we as Christians demonstrate “joyful” obedience in our lives.

 

References:

 

Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).

 

J. I. Packer, “Obedience” in T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner, New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2001).


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Aug 18, 2011
@ 9:32 am
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What Is Love? »

Love is willing.

Jesus said, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18). The decisions, words, and actions of love always grow in the soil of a willing heart. You cannot force a person to love. If you are forcing someone to love, by the very nature of the act you are demonstrating that this person doesn’t in fact love.

Love is willing self-sacrifice.

There is no such thing as love without sacrifice.

Love calls you beyond the borders of your own wants, needs, and feelings.

Love calls you to be willing to invest time, energy, money, resources, personal ability, and gifts for the good of another.

Love calls you to lay down your life in ways that are concrete and specific.

Love calls you to serve, to wait, to give, to suffer, to forgive, and to do all these things again and again.

Love calls you to be silent when you want to speak, and to speak when you would like to be silent.

Love calls you to act when you would really like to wait, and to wait when you would really like to act.

Love calls you to stop when you really want to continue, and it calls you to continue when you feel like stopping.

Love again and again calls you away from your instincts and your comfort.

Love always requires personal sacrifice.

Love calls you to give up your life.

Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another.

Love always has the good of another in view.

Love is motivated by the interests and needs of others.

Love is excited at the prospect of alleviating burdens and meeting needs.

Love feels poor when the loved one is poor.

Love suffers when the loved one suffers.

Love wants the best for the loved one and works to deliver it.

Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation.

The Bible says that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. If he had waited until we were able to reciprocate, there would be no hope for us.

Love isn’t a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” bargain.

Love isn’t about placing people in our debt and waiting for them to pay off their debts.

Love isn’t a negotiation for mutual good.

Real love does not demand reciprocation, because real love isn’t motivated by the return on the investment. No, real love is motivated by the good that will result in the life of the person being loved.

Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not requirereciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.

Christ was willing to go to the cross and carry our sin precisely because there was nothing that we could ever do to earn, achieve, or deserve the love of God. If you are interested only in loving people who are deserving, the reality is that you are not motivated by love for them but by love for yourself. Love does its best work when the other person is undeserving. It is in these moments that love is most needed. It is in these moments that love is protective and preventative. It stays the course while refusing to quit or to get down and get dirty and give way to things that are anything but love.

There is never a day in your marriage when you aren’t called to be willing.

There is never a day in your marriage when some personal sacrifice is not needed.

There is never a day when you are free from the need to consider the good of your husband or wife.

There is never a day when you aren’t called to do what is not reciprocated and to offer what has not been deserved.

There is never a day when your marriage can coast along without being infused by this kind of love.

Source: The Gospel Coalition


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Aug 17, 2011
@ 3:18 pm
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Grow Up Advice for YRRs (part 2) »

But, someone protests, Scripture does say, “Let no one despise youthfulness.”

We frequently hear that text cited to make that argument. But Paul’s point to Timothy was precisely the opposite: Don’t give anyone a reason to criticize you for being immature, “but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Paul was not suggesting that Timothy should exaggerate his youthfulness or wear it as a badge of distinction; he was urging the young pastor to cultivate maturity beyond his years.

Charles Spurgeon understood the principle. He became pastor of London’s largest and most famous Baptist congregation at the age of 20, less than five years after his conversion. But he consciously and diligently sought to display maturity beyond his years—especially in his manners and his approach to ministry. At age 40, he reflected on the brevity of his own adolescence: ”I might have been a young man at twelve, but at sixteen I was a sober, respectable Baptist parson, sitting in the chair and ruling and governing the church. At that period of my life, when I ought perhaps to have been in the playground … I spent my time at my books, studying and working hard, sticking to it.”

As I have shown elsewhere, evangelicalism’s childish fascination with teenage fashions, milk rather than meat, and trivial entertainment rather than serious doctrine is deeply rooted in a pragmatic ministry philosophy. It is not “Reformed” in any sense but is a classic expression of man-centered free-willism—what Colossians 2:23refers to as “self-made religion.” It is the antithesis of the Bible’s emphasis on the sovereignty of God and the unadulterated gospel as the power of God unto salvation. Instead, it begins with the assumption that the lost must be won by sheer gimmickry—through the cleverness of human ingenuity or the supposed appeal of worldly fashion.

That, of course, is precisely the philosophy Paul rejected and refuted in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

One might think any movement that formally affirms Reformation doctrine would be at the vanguard of opposition to the jejune faddishness that has plagued evangelicalism for the past few decades. But that has not always been the case with today’s Young and Restless Reformers. As the YRR movement has taken shape, some of the best-selling books and leading figures in the movement have been completely uncritical (and in some cases openly supportive) of seeker-sensitive-style pragmatism.

Worse, the fads and gimmicks some prominent YRRs seem to want to be known for are much more sinister than the shallow diversions that seeker-friendly churches were playing around with twenty years ago. Judging from certain church websites and pastoral blogs, a sizeable core of young men in the YRR movement are perfectly happy to give the world the impression that cage fighting, beer-drinking, cigar-smoking, hard-partying, and other forms of bad-boy-behavior are the distinguishing marks of their religion. Meanwhile, many others who identify with the movement evidently think any talk of holiness—not to mention any concern for taste or propriety—is tantamount to the rankest sort of legalism.

Such an opinion reflects a carnal immaturity that must not be encouraged. When smutty talk and lascivious subject matter from the pulpits of 40-year-old pastors are routinely defended by an appeal to the “youthfulness” of the offender, someone’s maturity meter is badly askew. It is a serious problem. The movement cannot survive or prosper under leaders who are stuck in perpetual adolescence—no matter how much they talk about manhood and thump their chests to demonstrate their machismo.

Those who exhibit such behavior are out of their element claiming to be Reformed. Maturity is a necessary virtue for those who would be truly effective in ministry. “Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14). That is a desirable—and honorable—goal: Strive for it.

Source: Grace to You


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Aug 17, 2011
@ 1:11 pm
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Grow Up. Settle Down. Keep Reforming. BRAdvice for the Young, Restless, Reformed »

Our chief concerns have to do with immaturity, instability, and inconsistency in the YRR movement. It is clear from Scripture, of course, that people who are youngneed to aim for maturity (2 Peter 3:18Ephesians 4:13;Hebrews 5:12-14)—not perpetual adolescence. Scripture likewise makes clear that it’s better to be “like a tree planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:3) than to be constantly restless. And one cannot be genuinely “Reformed” and deliberately worldly at the same time. The two things are inconsistent and incompatible. To embrace the world’s fashions and values—even under the guise of being “missional”—is to make oneself God’s enemy (James 4:4). Many supposed reformations have faltered on that rock.

No one is truly Reformed who is not constantly reforming.

In all candor, some of the ideas YRRs seem most obsessed with—starting with their standard methods for reaching the unchurched and “redeeming culture”—seem to be holdovers from the pragmatism that dominated their parents’ generation. If we profess theology that recognizes and honors the sovereignty, majesty, and holiness of God, our practice ought to be consistent with that.

It is a wonderful thing to come to grips with the doctrines of grace, and it is a liberating realization when we acknowledge the impotence of the human will. But embracing those truths is merely an initial step toward authentic reformation. We still have a lot of reforming to do.

Source: Grace to You


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Aug 10, 2011
@ 5:56 am
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Beer, Bohemianism, and True Christian Liberty »

Real Christian liberty is not about flouting taboos and offending conventional notions of propriety. The liberty in which we stand begins with full indemnity from the law’s threats and condemnation—meaning we are at peace with God (Romans 5:18:1). Christian liberty also removes the restrictions of the law’s ceremonial commandments (Colossians 2:16-17)—freeing us from asceticism, superstition, sensuality, and “human precepts and teachings” (vv. 18-23).

But sober-minded self-control and maturity are virtues commanded and commended by Scripture; these are not manmade rules or legalistic standards. As a matter of fact, one of the main qualifications for both deacons and elders in the church is that they cannot be given to much wine. In other words, they are to be known for their sobriety, not for their consumption of beer.

It should not take a doctor of divinity to notice that Scripture consistently celebrates virtues such as self-control, sober-mindedness, purity of heart, the restraint of our fleshly lusts, and similar fruits of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in our lives. Surely these are what we ought hold in highest esteem, model in our daily lives, and honor on our websites, rather than trying so hard to impress the world with unfettered indulgence in the very things that hold so many unbelievers in bondage.


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Aug 2, 2011
@ 7:55 pm
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Why Youth Stay in Church When They Grow Up »

Youth pastors, pray with all your might for true conversion; that is God’s work. Equip the saints for the work of the ministry; that is your work. Parents, preach the gospel and live the gospel for your children; our work depends on you.

Source: The Gospel Coalition Voices


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Jul 29, 2011
@ 1:29 pm
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How I Almost Quit »

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Are you so discouraged you don’t know what to do next? I want to help you get through this. Maybe this will help.

The following quote is from my journal dated November 6, 1986. I had been at Bethlehem 6 years. If you have ever felt like this, remember this is 24 years ago and I am still here.

The point is: Beware of giving up too soon. Our emotions are not reliable guides.

Am I under attack by Satan to abandon my post at Bethlehem? Or is this the stirring of God to cause me to consider another ministry? Or is this God’s way of answering so many prayers recently that we must go a different way at BBC than building? I simply loathe the thought of leading the church through a building program. For two years I have met for hundreds of hours on committees. I have never written a poem about it. It is deadening to my soul. I am a thinker. A writer. A preacher. A poet and songwriter. At least these are the avenues of love and service where my heart flourishes… .

Can I be the pastor of a church moving through a building program? Yes, by dint of massive will power and some clear indications from God that this is the path of greatest joy in him long term. But now I feel very much without those indications. The last two years (the long range planning committee was started in August 1984) have left me feeling very empty.

The church is looking for a vision for the future—and I do not have it. The one vision that the staff zeroed in on during our retreat Monday and Tuesday of this week (namely, building a sanctuary) is so unattractive to me today that I do not see how I could provide the leadership and inspiration for it.

Does this mean that my time at BBC is over? Does it mean that there is a radical alternative unforeseen? Does it mean that I am simply in the pits today and unable to feel the beauty and power and joy and fruitfulness of an expanded facility and ministry?

O Lord, have mercy on me. I am so discouraged. I am so blank. I feel like there are opponents on every hand, even when I know that most of my people are for me. I am so blind to the future of the church. O Father, am I blind because it is not my future? Perhaps I shall not even live out the year, and you are sparing the church the added burden of a future I had made and could not complete? I do not doubt for a moment your goodness of power or omnipotence in my life or in the life of the church. I confess that the problem is mine. The weakness is in me. The blindness is in my eyes. The sin—O reveal to me my hidden faults!—is mine and mine the blame. Have mercy, Father. Have mercy on me. I must preach on Sunday, and I can scarcely lift my head.

Source: John Piper Desiring God