Friday, April 24, 2015

You'd Only Be Hurting Yourself

"Consider this: if people find you to be habitually resistant and resentful toward advice and constructive criticism intended to benefit you, they will in all likelihood quietly stop trying (without notifying you, of course, that they're doing so) -- and that is clearly no good for you."

-- Jon G. Baldwin (commenting on Prov. 9:7-12)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dealing Biblically with Sin

"Daily, I ask the Lord: 'Lord, how has my original sin distorted me, how is my indwelling sin manipulating me, and how is Satan enlisting me?' Your temptation pattern does not define you, but you must be armed for the battle, knowing that victory is promised, in God’s timing, incomplete but powerful here on earth, and complete and full in eternity." -- Rosaria Butterfield

[In this quote, I think the phrase "my original sin" means, how has 'original sin' -- as understood by Christian doctrine -- which has effected me too, distorted me specifically?]

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Majesty and Beauty of Christ

"He is indeed possessed of infinite majesty, to inspire us with reverence an adoration; yet that majesty need not terrify us, for we behold it blended with humility, meekness, and sweet condescension. We may feel the most profound reverence and self-abasement, and yet our hearts be drawn forth sweetly and powerfully into an intimacy the most free, confidential, and delightful.

"The dread, so naturally inspired by his greatness, is dispelled by the contemplation of his gentleness and humility; while the familiarity, which might otherwise arise from this view of the loveliness of his character merely, is ever prevented by the consciousness of his infinite majesty and glory; and the sight of all his perfections united fills us with sweet surprise and humble confidence, with reverential love and delightful adoration."

— Jonathan Edwards
Works, Vol. 1
(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth), cxxxix

Monday, April 20, 2015

Our happiness belongs to the heavenly life...

“The happiness promised us in Christ does not consist in outward advantages—such as leading a joyous and peaceful life, having rich possessions, being safe from all harm, and abounding with delights such as the flesh commonly longs after. No, our happiness belongs to the heavenly life.

"Christ enriches his people with all things necessary for the eternal salvation of souls and fortifies them with courage to stand unconquerable against all the assaults of spiritual enemies. From this we infer that he rules—inwardly and outwardly—more for our own sake than his.

"Thus it is that we may patiently pass through this life with its misery, hunger, cold, contempt, reproaches, and other troubles—content with this one thing: that our King will never leave us destitute, but will provide for our needs until, our warfare ended, we are called to triumph.”

—John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.15.4

Saturday, April 18, 2015

What is Sin?

Q16: What is sin?
A16: Sin is rejecting or ignoring God in the world he created, rebelling against him by living without reference to him, not being or doing what he requires in his law—resulting in our death and the disintegration of all creation.

-- New City Catechism

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"I Worship Thee, Most Gracious God"

I worship Thee, most gracious God,
And all Thy ways adore;
And every day I live, I seem
To love Thee more and more.

When obstacles and trials seem
Like prison walls to be,
I do the little I can do,
And leave the rest to Thee.

I have no cares, O bless├Ęd Will,
For all my cares are Thine;
I live in triumph, Lord, for Thou
Hast made Thy triumphs mine.

He always wins who sides with God;
To him no chance is lost;
God’s will is sweetest to him when
It triumphs at his cost.

Ill that He blesses is our good,
And unblest good is ill;
And all is right that seems most wrong,
If it be His sweet will.

-- Frederick W. Faber

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"O give me that book." -- J. Wesley

"TO candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity!

"I want to know one thing,—the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. For this very end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri [a man of one book]. Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone; only God is here. In His presence I open, I read His book; for this end, to find the way to heaven.

"Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights:—“Lord, is it not Thy word, ‘if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God?’ Thou givest liberally, and upbraidest not. Thou hast said, ‘if any be willing to do Thy will, he shall know.’ I am willing to do, let me know Thy will.” I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” I meditate thereon with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God: and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach." -- John Wesley

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hearing God...Meeting with God

"How are we to receive God’s words? They come to us in the Scripture. The Bible says that God will put his words in the mouths of the prophets (Deut 18: 15– 20; Jer 1: 9– 10). Once a prophet receives God’s words, they can be written down and can effectively be read as God’s speech when the prophet is not present or even after he is dead and gone (Jer 36: 1– 32). The Bible, then, is God’s Word written, and it remains God’s Word when we read it today. The conclusion is clear. God acts through his words, the Word is “alive and active” (Heb 4: 12), and therefore the way to have God dynamically active in our lives is through the Bible. To understand the Scripture is not simply to get information about God. If attended to with trust and faith, the Bible is the way to actually hear God speaking and also to meet God himself."

-- Timothy Keller, "Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God" (p. 54).

Monday, April 13, 2015

Newton Hymn: "Shall Men Pretend to Pleasure?"

Shall men pretend to pleasure
Who never knew the Lord?
Can all the worldling’s treasure
True peace of mind afford?
They shall obtain this jewel
In what their hearts desire,
When they by adding fuel
Can quench the flame of fire.

Till you can bid the ocean,
When furious tempests roar,
Forget its wonted motion,
And rage, and swell, no more:
In vain your expectation
To find content in sin;
Or freedom from vexation,
While passions reign within.

Come, turn your thoughts to Jesus,
If you would good possess;
‘Tis he alone that frees us
From guilt, and from distress:
While he, by faith, is present,
The sinner’s troubles cease;
His ways are truly pleasant,
And all his paths are peace.

Our time in sin we wasted,
And fed upon the wind;
Until his love we tasted,
No comfort could we find:
But now we stand to witness
His pow’r and grace to you;
May you perceive its fitness,
And call upon him too!

Our pleasure and our duty,
Though opposite before;
Since we have seen his beauty,
Are joined to part no more:
It is our highest pleasure,
No less than duty’s call;
To love him beyond measure,
And serve him with our all.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

True Conversion

You have truly become a Christian when Paul's description of what happened to the Roman converts is true of you: "....you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance." -- Rom. 6:17

Saturday, April 11, 2015

What the Devil accuses...

“When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell.  What of it?  Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation?  By no means.  For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf.  His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Where he is, there I shall be also.'”

-- Martin Luther, writing to Jerome Weller, quoted in Theodore G. Tappert, editor, Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel (Philadelphia, 1955), pages 86-87.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Christ is risen; Christ is Lord

Easter Sunday reminds us that we live in a world -- a universe -- where Christ is risen and Christ is Lord (of everybody, everwhere), no matter how many times those opposed to him say otherwise.

Colson on the Resurrection

“I know the Resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren't true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn't keep a lie for three weeks. You're telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.” -- Charles Colson

The Gospel Cannot Be Improved

“The message of the gospel is an announcement about what God has done in Christ, and when it goes forth in power it is because God has done it. The gospel is not made more powerful by a dynamic preacher or a rockin’ band; those things might adorn the gospel in an excellent way, but the gospel cannot be improved.” -- Jared Wilson