Monday, March 31, 2008

Two Crucial Quotes on Believing and Living by the Gospel

"One way to put the Gospel in a nutshell is this: You are more wicked than you ever dared to believe and yet, you are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than you ever dared hope."


“Sanctification is not by ‘works’ but by a continuous re-orienting ourselves to our justification. So sanctification is not moralistic. Yet it takes enormous effort (so it is not quietistic.) When we feed on, remember, and live in accordance with our justification, it mortifies our idols and fills us with an inner joy and desire to please and resemble our Lord through obedience. But the feeding on, remembering, and living in accordance—takes all our effort.”

-- Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyerian Church in NYC and author of "The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism"

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Should We Really Call It a "Quiet Time"?

Once again, Justin Taylor's blog has an excellent post, a guest commentary from Christian counselor and author, David Powlison. This post focuses on the important matter of our daily times with the Lord, in the Word and in prayer.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Are Churches Secularizing America?"

Here is an excerpt from an essay from Michael Horton. In my opinion, Horton's essay is critically important, as it identifies and describes some of the most damaging, debilitating trends of worldliness that are corrupting professedly evangelical churches and Christians today...

"Several years ago, a mainline theologian told me of his experience at an evangelical megachurch. He was visiting his children and grandchildren during spring break and then Easter Sunday arrived. Nothing visibly suggested that it was a Christian service, but this distinguished theologian tried to reign in his judgments. There was no greeting from God or sense that this was God's gathering. The songs were almost exclusively about us, our feelings, and our intentions to worship, obey, and love; but it was not clear whom they were talking about or why. He concluded, 'Well, evangelicals don't really have a liturgy. They put all of the content into the sermon, so I'll wait.'

"His patience, however, was not rewarded. Although it was Easter, the message (with no clear text) was on how Jesus gives us the strength to overcome our obstacles. Lacking even a benediction, this theologian left discouraged. He had come to an evangelical church at Easter and instead of meeting God and the announcement of a real victory over sin and death by Jesus Christ, he encountered other Christians who were being given fellowship and instructions for making their own 'Easter' come true in their life.

"Pressed with leading questions by his son-in-law as to his reaction to the service (like, 'Did it touch your heart?'), the theologian broke his silence: "I assume you're trying to 'evangelize' me right now," he said. 'But there was no 'gospel' anywhere in that service that might convert me if I were unconverted.' He concluded, "Not even in the most liberal churches I've been in was the service so devoid of Christ and the gospel. It's like 'God who?'"

"Since then, a mainline Methodist theologian told me of an almost identical experience--curiously also at Easter--in a conservative Presbyterian church that was known around the university for its "Bible-believing" and "Christ-centered" ministry. He too left disappointed (the sermon was something about how Jesus overcame his setbacks and so can we), further substantiating his appraisal that evangelicals are as likely as mainliners today to talk pop-psychology, politics, or moralism instead of the gospel…."

-- Michael Horton from the online magazine "Modern Reformation"
thanks to Tullian Tchividjian for drawing my attention to this article on his own blog

Friday, March 28, 2008

True worship is Gospel-centered too

In the previous post, I quoted John Frame as he emphasized what should be obvious, but doesn't seem to be today: true worship should be centered on God and Christ.

But Dr. Frame goes on to make another point that is probably even less recognized and practiced today, and that is that, on this side of the Fall into sin, our worship must be Gospel-centered too. (And this includes the songs used in worship -- many of the praise songs omit this, failing to declare and celebrate the Gospel.)

"...God's word now [after the Fall] tells us of our sin and God's provision for our forgiveness. ...Everything we do in worship, therefore, now speaks of sin and forgiveness, of Jesus' atonement and resurrection for us.

"Worship following the fall of Adam should not only be God-centered, but also Christ-centered and gospel-centered. In all our worship, the good news that Jesus has died for our sins and risen gloriously from the dead should be central."

-- John Frame "Worship in Spirit and Truth" p.6 (P&R:1996)

True Worship Is God-centered/Christ-centered

"...true worship is saturated [through songs, Scripture readings, sermon, etc.] with reminders of God's covenant lordship. We worship to honor his mighty acts, to hear his authoritative word, and to fellowship with him personally as the one who has made us his people.

"When we are distracted from our covenant Lord and preoccupied with our own comforts and pleasures, something has gone seriously wrong with our worship.

"...when we leave worship we should first ask, not What did I get out of it? but How did I do in my work of honoring the Lord?"

-- John Frame in "Worship in Spirit and Truth" p. 5 (P&R: 1996)

Guidelines for Deacons...

Here's a very helpful blogpost regarding the key qualities for being a deacon by Thabiti Anyabwile, who pastors in the Cayman Islands.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Basis for Believing Today

Jn.20:29-31; (cp. the Holy Spirit’s ministry of ‘testifying’ regarding Jesus, Jn.14-16); 1 Pet.1:8f.; Jn.5:39f.; Acts 1:21-22; Rom.10:17; Jn.17:20 (cp.vv.6,8,14); Lk.16:31; Matt.28:18ff.; Acts 17:31

From the Biblical passages above, it seems clear that the basis and warrant for my believing in Christ today is the apostolic witness (available to me via Scripture) given over 2000 years ago. In other words, the signs and attesting miracles given to and through the apostles, culminating in the Resurrection of Christ, are the signs that are intended for me, too, combined with the apostolic interpretation and explanation of what those signs mean. (For example, the sign/event of the Resurrection means Jesus is Lord of all, and the one who will judge the world in righteousness, etc.).

This means that I’m not to expect or wait for or depend on God giving me my own set of signs and attesting miracles in the present – if I am to come to faith in Jesus as the Son of God, faith that brings eternal life, it will be a result of my response to the signs already given to mankind in the case of the apostles whose specific and definitive task is to ‘testify’ as eyewitnesses (and ‘earwitnesses’) regarding the words and works of Jesus, including their authorized/inspired interpretation/significance. (And behind the testifying ministry of the apostles is the testifying work of the Holy Spirit.)

And so, Jesus prays for those who will believe through the word/message of the apostles. And the apostles write what they write to provide their testimony regarding the signs Jesus performed, with the goal of producing life-giving belief in Jesus as Messiah. Naturally then, ‘faith comes through hearing, hearing the message of Christ.’ (And the NT inscripturated messages builds upon Moses/the Law and the prophets – which also testify concerning Christ to lead people to eternal life.

So those who become believers today are in the category of those who ‘have not seen’ but still believe. Yet they are not regarded as disadvantaged; the assumption is that the Spirit-inspired, Spirit-illuminated testimony concerning Christ given via the (now inscripturated) witness of the apostles (and their close associates) is a fully adequate basis and warrant for saving faith (so that those who refuse to believe what they’ve heard are most certainly culpable).

1 John 5:9-11 “We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

Always Accepted for Christ's Sake

“There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all.

"This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be. It is always on His ‘blood and righteousness’ alone that we can rest.”

- B.B. Warfield, Works 7:113
posted at Of First Importance

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Good posts from Tullian T.

Tullian Tchividjian has a couple good posts on his blog today. One is about what to look for when choosing a church. Another is about 'the world (and worldliness) according to Abercrombie and Fitch.'

Faith-affirming Scholarship

Justin Taylor's blog presents two more very worthwhile posts: Blomberg on How Historians Can Know Jesus and Why It Matters and An Interview with Craig Blomberg (focusing on the historical reliability of the Gospels).

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Paul, Doctrine & Orthodoxy

Here's another good excerpt from the new book, "Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)":

"There's no question that Paul believed in orthodoxy. 'Follow the pattern of sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith an love that in Christ Jesus,' he told Timothy. 'By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.' (2 Tim.1:13-14). Paul's message undoubtedly had a doctrinal center. There were certain propositions of fact regarding election, the incarnation, the resurrection and the atonement that Paul had passed along to Timothy that absolutely had to be preserved and protected at all costs, even if it meant suffering and death (1:8-11).

"Doctrine was to die for because it was the heartbeat of Paul's saving message about saving historical facts. Machen writes, 'But if any one fact is clear, on the basis of this evidence, it is that the Christian movement at its inception was not just a way of life in the modern sense, but a way of life founded upon a message. It was based, not upon mere feeling, not upon a mere program of work [activism], but upon an account of facts. In other words it was based on doctrine.'

"As soon as you say Jesus died and rose again for your sins according to the Scriptures, you have doctrine. You have a message about what happened in history and what it means. That's theology. There is no gospel without it."

-- Kevin DeYoung, "Why We're Not Emergent" (pp.112-13, with a quote from J. Gresham Machen's "Christianity and Liberalism) [Moody Press: 2008]

Monday, March 24, 2008

Living Out Our Allegiance to the Resurrected Christ

It's the day after Easter Sunday -- so what does it mean to live in light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? One thing it surely means is living out our allegiance to his Lordship. For again and again in the New Testament we are taught that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is an affirmation and even an 'escalation' of his Lordship -- he is the one to whom all authority has been given, and he is to be given first place in everything (Matt.28:18ff.; Col.1:15-18; cp. Rom.14:9).

Indeed Paul makes an explicit connection between confessing Jesus as Lord and believing from the heart that God raised him from the dead (Rom.10:9). His resurrection signalled his universal authority, culminating in the time when he is the judge of every human being (Acts 17:31).

Easter Sunday means that Christians are to re-commit themselves to learning and living by everything Jesus commanded, and it means the church -- your church, my church -- should live deliberately according to the instructions and guidelines that Christ himself gave by his Spirit to the prophets and apostles he inspired. May God rescue us from Laodicean lukewarmness.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Living by Faith in the Risen Christ

“The resurrection . . . sharply defines what it must mean to have faith in Christ. Because Christ has been raised from the dead, we are not putting our faith in merely a historical event but in a living, death conquering, and reigning Savior. Our faith is based on something in the past, but it is placed in One who is very much alive today. Notice how the apostle Paul speaks of faith in terms of a living Christ: ‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). Paul is living by faith in the living Christ. And he prays that this would be our normative Christian experience: ‘that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith’ (Ephesians 3:16-17).”

- John Ensor, The Great Work of the Gospel (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2006), 102.
originally posted at Of First Importance

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is o'er, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

–Charles Wesley
originally posted by Tullian Tchividjian

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Resurrected Jesus Appeared to Many People

Justin Taylor's blog pointed me to this list of the appearances of Jesus to people following his resurrection, prepared in chart form by New Testament scholar, Andreas Kostenberger.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What Happened and What It Means

One of the striking things about Christianity is that it is not only a matter of ideas and beliefs and ‘notions’ – but that all of these are tied to history and events, to the creating and saving works of God, especially in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

“Christ died for our sins” – that affirmation is at the heart of the Christian gospel. “He was raised on the third day.” Those events, those historical facts, are heavy with meaning and significance that are spelled out for us via inspiration. And so the crucifixion of Christ for our sins tells us, unmistakably, how serious a thing sin is – nothing less that the sacrificial death of the Son of God could make atonement for it.

So sin is awful and evil. The applications of just this one idea are many, but now I think of what Spurgeon said, in relation to the Christian’s pursuit of holiness: “I cannot trifle with the sin that slew my best Friend. I must be holy for his sake.”

“He was raised on the third day.” The NT is filled with teaching about the meaning of the resurrection of Christ too. He was “appointed/declared to be the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead.” His resurrection marks him as the Lord of all, the one who is exalted to the highest place, given the title (Lord) that is above every title, so that in everything he might come to have first place. “Jesus is Lord.”

So Good Friday and Easter preach powerfully to us – they tell us that sin is serious, but even more that God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, and that this Jesus is such a great and gracious Savior. Easter tells us that Jesus is Lord, that his empty tomb is in fact the birthplace of the new creation and the coming kingdom of God. Forgiveness, justification, new birth, new life, sanctification, purpose, calling – all of these doctrines are descriptions of the realities initiated, caused and accomplished by the events of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

And so they come to us, inevitably, with the calling and invitation and summons to respond in the faith that grasps the forgiveness Jesus offers as Savior and with a repentance that bows the knee to Jesus as Lord.

Good Friday

Yea, once Immanuel's orphaned cry his universe hath shaken.
It went up single, echoless, "My God, I am forsaken!"
It went up from the Holy's lips amid his lost creation,
That, of the lost, no son should use those words of desolation.

-- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Excellent Excerpt

Here's one of my favorite paragraphs from the new book, "Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)." In this section, co-author Kevin DeYoung plays off the well-known illustration of a number of blind men feeling their way around an elephant, and naturally describing it differently....

"We may all be, by nature, like blind men touching the elephant without knowing whether what we are feeling is a trunk, tail, or ear. But what if the elephant spoke and said, 'Quit calling me crocodile, peacock, or paradox. I'm an elephant, for crying out loud! That long thing is my trunk. That little frayed thing is my tail. That big floppy thing is my ear.'

"And what if the elephant gave us ears to hear his voice and a mind to understand his message (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14-15)? Would our professed ignorance about the elephant and our unwillingness to make any confident assertions about his nature mean we were especially humble, or just deaf?" (p.37).

I think that's very well put, and directly relates to the apparent unwillingness on the part of so many among the emergent to affirm what the faithful Church has always affirmed, namely, 'what Scripture says, God says.'

"On the Go Devotionals" (for women)

Justin Taylor's post describes these new devotional books.

What is the Kingdom of God?

"...the kingdom of God is the redemptive reign of God dynamically active to establish his rule among human beings....this kingdom, which will appear as an apocalyptic act at the end of the age, has already come into human history in the person and mission of Jesus to overcome evil, to deliver people from its power, and bring them into the blessings of God's reign."

-- George Eldon Ladd, "A Theology of the New Testament," rev. ed. (Grand Rapids:Eerdmans, 1993, pp.89-90)

Tim Keller's recent talk at Google

Tim Keller visits Google's Mountain View, CA, headquarters to discuss his book, "The Reason for God." This event took place on March 5, 2008, as part of the Authors@Google series.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Bearing the Silence of God"

In this meditation on persevering in suffering, a Turkish theologian finds the image of Christ in the persecuted church.

Overcoming "sleepiness" of the soul

Here's an excellent post from Paul Manuel about resisting worldliness and staying fervent in our devotion to Christ.

The Reality and Significance of the Resurrection of Christ

Here are a couple of websites that summarize the evidence for the resurrection of Christ, along with its significance. Much, much more has been said and written on this glorious theme (including N.T. Wright's massively comprehensive "The Resurrection of the Son of God") -- a reality we think about and celebrate in a special way during the Easter season.

The Lord is risen!
He is risen indeed!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Recommended reading on the Emergent Church

I'm reading the new book, "Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)" -- the authors are Kevin DeYoung (a friend of mine who is pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing) and Ted Kluck (a member at URC and an author of three previous books, also writing for ESPN the Magazine, etc.).

This is a very good book for understanding the serious concerns related to the emergent/ing church/movement. The authors focus on the weaknesses of the movement (although noting some strengths too), and they do so in a fair (and often funny) way that is easy to understand.

So if you've been wondering what the Emergent Church is all about, and why some (like me) are so concerned about its serious flaws, this is a great book to read.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Prayer Anticipating Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday

GRANT, O LORD, that in your wounds I may find my safety, in your stripes my cure, in your pain my peace, in your cross my victory, in your resurrection my triumph, and a crown of righteousness in the glories of your eternal kingdom.

--Jeremy Taylor in "The Westminster Collection of Christian Prayers"

The Supremacy of Christ

Colossians 1:15-18 make it very clear that things are only as they should be, in any sphere (family life, friendships, on the job, as we gather as church, in the board meeting, ….), when Christ is being accorded the supremacy (first place) that is rightfully His (cp. also Matt.28:18ff; Col. 3:1ff.; Phil.2:10).

John Piper’s way of putting this is especially appropriate: ‘seeing and savoring the supremacy of Christ.’ “Seeing” is the right word, because it’s not a matter of us making Christ preeminent and supreme – God has already done that (“giving Him a name/title [‘Lord’] that is above every other name/title” – Phil.2:9). So what we must do is recognize – see – the supremacy of Christ in all things, for that’s the way things really are.

But ‘savor’ also is a good word for how to rightly respond to that recognized supremacy. For unlike the unregenerate, those who have been born again delight in recognizing all the glories of Christ, including this profound reality that “God has exalted Him to the highest place” (Phil.2:9). And, in spite of the opposing tug of indwelling sin so long as we remain in this life, deep down our truest desire echoes the apostle’s aspiration (Phil.1:20ff.) that Christ might always be exalted in our own lives – in the big things and the little things, in the decisions we make, in the priorities we choose, how we invest our time, our emotional energy, our resources – in every area over which we have any say, we too want to live in light of the reality of the supremacy of Jesus Christ, always giving Him the first place that is rightfully His.

And what this also means is that anything or anyone that interferes with Christ being recognized (and savored/celebrated) as supreme – that is the essence of sin. Even if that interference comes from something that is innocent enough when it is secondary; such a thing is seriously sinful if it is allowed to usurp or to rival the first place that Christ alone deserves (e.g., Matt.10:37).

And what is liberating in all of this is to know that all I have to do is to aim to live a life (enabled by grace) that sees and savors the supremacy of Jesus Christ. For if I’m doing that, I’m living the life I’m supposed to live, and so I no longer need to fear what other people may think of me, or the life I’m living (c. Rom.14:4, 10-12; 1 Cor. 4:1ff.)

It seems to me that a recognition of what I’ve here summarized is at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian – it means being a person who, led by grace, has come to the place where our fundamental aim and aspiration is to see and savor the supremacy of Jesus Christ in everything.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Israel trip: lighter moments

Eventually I hope to post some thoughts about what was especially meaningful to me, spiritually, as I experienced the time in Israel.

But in the mean time, and since I'm still a little 'jet-lagged', here's a little levity from the trip, the "Song of Akram" that we composed in honor of our bus driver. (I told the gang on 'the yellow bus' that I'd post this on my blog, so.....)

“Song of Akram” [to the tune of ‘Downtown’)
-- as performed by D-Train and the Pomegranates

When you are riding and you need to get there
Who are you gonna call? AKRAM!
When the road’s narrow and there’s no room to spare
Who are you gonna call? AKRAM!

When you’re going to the temple and you want to get there quickly,
When you’re riding on the winding road and you’re starting to feel sickly –
Who will you call?....
Surely you must know by now
The only one who can do it,
Who’ll see you all through it is…
AKRAM! Driving the yellow bus,
AKRAM! He never makes a fuss,
AKRAM! Time to get on the bus now……..

This was followed up by another original compostion from the group, about yours truly...

“Ode to the D-Train” by Darci Irwin (and Jay, Brent Z., Erik H. and? ….)

There once was a man named Doug
Who refused to deal for a Persian rug;
He gave himself a name
And although it was lame
We conceded and called him D-Train.

In a land lacking his beloved beverage
Swoop humor provided his leverage,
And before a big hug
He’d pull his hood snug
No yamika for his head he was wearing.

He had a wave like Herod
And when the mic was shar-ed
He sang his little ditty
That wasn’t too pretty
But we clapped anyway for D-Train.

Intense talking became quite a hobby
Especially during euchre in the lobby,
And when the cards were dealt
He wore Batman’s belt,
Hoping for luck from the shield of David.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Meaning of the Resurrection

Here' a new article from Pastor John Piper, to help us begin to think about the meaning of Jesus' resurrection.

Sin Versus God's Resolve

“To speak of sin by itself, to speak of it apart from the realities of creation and grace, is to forget the resolve of God. God wants shalom and will pay any price to get it back. Human sin is stubborn, but not as stubborn as the grace of God and not half so persistent, not half so ready to suffer to win its way.

"Moreover, to speak of sin by itself is to misunderstand its nature: sin is only a parasite, a vandal, a spoiler. Sinful life is a partly depressing, partly ludicrous caricature of genuine human life. To concentrate on our rebellion, defection and folly — to say to the world, ‘I have some bad news and I have some bad news’ — is to forget that the center of the Christian religion is not our sin but our Savior.

"To speak of sin without grace is to minimize the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fruit of the Spirit, and the hope of shalom.”

- Cornelius Plantinga, "Not the Way It's Supposed to Be" (Eerdmans)
originally posted at "Of First Importance"

Friday, March 14, 2008

TV as the Tempter in a Child's Bedroom

Here's an important essay from Albert Mohler (and Cornelius Plantinga) regarding the negative effects of television on kids.

"Count Your Suprises"

Here's a grateful, graciously written testimony from one of evangelicalism's leading theologians, J.I. Packer. (His book, "Knowing God," is deservedly considered a classic.)

Back in Action

We got back late last night from an amazing trip to Israel, so I'm ready to do some posts that share some of the experiences and reflections connected with a trip like this. It was a real gift to be able to travel with friends (and to make some new friends) in the place 'where it all got started.'


Monday, March 3, 2008

Blogging Break

I'll be taking a 'sabbatical' from blogging for a little while, so in the meantime I invite you to look at previous posts you might have missed, and to check out my recommended sites and resources (listed on the right). Also, one of the best blogs to stay connected to is Justin Taylor's "Between Two Worlds." (Another good one is part of the online ministry of Tullian Tchividjian's church, New City Presbyterian.)

New Birth...Faith....Love

"Regeneration, Faith and Love...In That Order" -- a John Piper sermon.

New book on God's Guidance from J.I. Packer

Justin Taylor has a helpful post about this new book, "Guard Us, Guide Us: Divine Leading in Life's Decisions"

Sunday, March 2, 2008

"Shake Off Thy Guilty Fears"

Here's the lyric to a great hymn by Charles Wesley that echoes the theme of Pastor Denyes' sermon today on forgiveness:

Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety* stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son;
His Spirit answers to the blood,
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.
[*'Surety' here means 'one who has become legally liable for the debt, default, or failure in duty of another' Merriam Webster Online Dictionary]

Words: Charles Wes­ley",Hymns and Sac­red Po­ems, 1742.
Music: Len­ox, Lew­is Ed­son

in The Chor­ist­er’s Com­pan­ion, by Sim­e­on Jo­ce­lyn and Amos Doo­lit­tle
(New Ha­ven, Con­nec­ti­cut: 1782)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

"In Christ's Death, God Suffers in Love"

posted at Of First Importance

“Christianity alone among the world religions claims that God became uniquely and fully human in Jesus Christ and therefore knows firsthand despair, rejection, loneliness, poverty, bereavement, torture, and imprisonment. On the cross he went beyond even the worst human suffering and experienced cosmic rejection and pain that exceeds ours as infinitely as his knowledge and power exceeds ours. In his death, God suffers in love, identifying with the abandoned and godforsaken. Why did he do it? The Bible says that Jesus came on a rescue mission for creation. He had to pay for our sins so that someday he can end evil and suffering without ending us.”

- Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (New York, NY: Dutton, 2008), 30.

"Prodigals and Those Who Love Them"

Tullian Tchividjian provides a link to a two-part interview of him on Family Life Today. In the interview, Tullian shares the story of how he turned his back on the deep faith of his family (Billy and Ruth Graham are his grandparents), until God by his grace brought him back home.

After listening to his story, I made this post on his blog:

Hey Tullian,

I listened to both parts of the interview. It’s a compelling story for many reasons, and it magnifies the Lord’s patience and mercy and grace.

The humorous highlight had to be hearing that your saintly grandmother would buy you ear-rings!

But something else struck me: I think the details of your story can be a real encouragement to parents of prodigals who live with the nagging sense of guilt — “if only we had been better parents…..”

But you made it clear that your parents’ lives and Christian faith were authentic, joyful and wise — but still they faced the heartbreak of a prodigal who rebelled. So I hope, among other things, that your story reassures and fortifies many godly, loving, wise parents (and siblings) who are still prayerfully waiting for their lost son or daughter to return home.


All of Life Is Repentance

More clear, Biblical teaching from Tim Keller.