Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Magnify Conference Audio

Kevin DeYoung presents the audio to the recent Magnify Conference on prayer, with Ben Patterson (co-sponsored by University Reformed Church, South Church and Providence Presbyterian).

Depending on God Alone

“It is a dreadful truth that the state of (as you say) ‘having to depend solely on God’ is what we all dread most. And of course that just shows how very much, how almost exclusively, we have been depending on things. But trouble goes so far back in our lives and is now so deeply ingrained, we will not turn to Him as long as He leaves us anything else to turn to.”

C. S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady (Grand Rapids, 1967), page 47, italics his.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Idolatry is Adultery

“Spiritually speaking, if it’s not God who is the lover of your soul, if it’s not God, in whose arms you are spiritually, if it’s not God whose meaning is the source of your meaning, whose affirmation is the source of your self-worth, and whose power is the source of your security – if it’s not God, you’re ‘in bed with’ something [else] spiritually.” -- Tim Keller

-- from a sermon available online at

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Seeing What Jesus Has Done...

“How can we break our heart’s fixation on doing ’some great thing’ in order to heal ourselves of our sense of inadequacy, in order to give our lives meaning? Only when we see what Jesus, our great Suffering Servant, has done for us will we finally understand why God’s salvation does not require us to do ’some great thing.’ We don’t have to do it, because Jesus has. . . . Jesus did it all for us, and he loves us — that is how we know our existence is justified. When we believe in what he accomplished for us with our minds, and when we are moved by what he did for us in our hearts, it begins to kill off the addiction, the need for success at all costs.”

- Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods (New York, NY: Dutton, 2009), 93-94.

posted at "Of First Importance"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What Prayer Says About Me

If, as they say, 'prayer is the voice of faith [confidence in God, allegiance to God] in the soul,' then what must it mean when I go silent?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Centrality of Propitiation

"With all due respect to those who insist that penal substitution is just one gospel metaphor of many, propitiation is in fact what holds together all the other biblical ways of talking about the cross."

-- D.A. Carson, in his excellent new book, "Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus" (Crossway), p.67

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Cost of Non-discipleship

You may well have heard of 'the cost of discipleship' (especially due to Dietrich Bonhoeffer's classic book by that title), but Dallas Willard reminds us that there is a very high cost for non-discipleship too...

"Nondiscipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God's overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil. In short, it costs exactly the abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring (see John 10:10)."

-- Dallas Willard (cited in Zondervan's "Prayer Devotional Bible" p. 1401)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The main goal of preaching

“What is the chief end of preaching? I like to think it is this. It is to give men and women a sense of God and His presence.”

-- Martyn Lloyd-Jones, quoted in John Woodbridge, editor, More Than Conquerors (Chicago, 1992), page 209.

HT: Ray Ortlund

"Men [and women] are God's method"

"We are constantly on a stretch, if not a strain, to devise new methods, new plans, new organizations to advance the church and secure enlargement and efficiency for the Gospel. This trend of the day has a tendency to lose sight of the man or sink the man in the plan or the organization. God's plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else.

"Men are God's method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.... What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use -- men of prayer, mighty in prayer.

"The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men -- men of prayer."

-- E.M. Bounds

Friday, March 19, 2010

On Prayer...

"Prayer is the ultimate interference with the status quo."

-- David Wells (quoted by Ben Patterson in his excellent first presentation during the "Magnify Conference" on prayer).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Crucial Place of Preaching

A preaching ministry is absolutely essential to the health and prosperity of a visible church. The pulpit is the place where the chief victories of the Gospel have always been won, and no Church has ever done much for the advancement of true religion in which the pulpit has been neglected. Would we know whether a minister is a truly apostolical man?

If he is, he will give the best of his attention to his sermons. He will labor and pray to make his preaching effective, and he will tell his congregation that he looks to preaching for the chief results on souls. The minister who exalts the sacraments, or forms of the Church, above preaching, may be a zealous, earnest, conscientious, and respectable minister; but his zeal is not according to knowledge. He is not a follower of the apostles.

~ J.C. Ryle

Day by Day with J.C. Ryle, “Ministry (Preaching)”, [Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus, 2004], 185.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Suppose He Found Us...

“It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. ‘Look out!’ we cry, ‘it’s alive’. And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back – I would have done so myself if I could – and proceed no further with Christianity. An ‘impersonal God’ – well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads – better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap – best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband – that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘Man’s search for God!’) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?”

~ C.S. Lewis, Miracles (New York, NY: HarperOne, 1996), 150.

Friday, March 12, 2010

All Theology Is Spirituality

"...the Puritans made me aware that all theology is also spirituality, in the sense that it has an influence, good or bad, positive or negative, on its recipients' relationship or lack of relationship to God. If our theology does not quicken the conscience and soften the heart, it actually hardens both; if it does not encourage the commitment of faith, it reinforces the detachment of f unbelief; if it fails to promote humility, in inevitably feeds pride. So one who theologizes in public, whether formally in the pulpit, on the podium, [as a music/worship leader], or in print, or informally from the armchair, must think hard about the effect his thoughts will have on people -- God's people, and other people."

-- J.I. Packer in "A Quest for Godliness" p. 15 (Crossway 1990)

Idols on Sunday morning...

A blog series from Bob Kauflin from a few years ago on various idols that we can cherish on Sunday mornings during worship:

HT: Justin Taylor

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Key Difference Between a Saved and an Unsaved Person

via Justin Taylor...

William Arnot:

The difference between an unconverted and a converted man is not that one has sins and the other has none; but that the one takes part with his cherished sins against a dreaded God, and the other takes part with a reconciled God against his hated sins.

Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth: Illustrations of the Book of Proverbs (orig., London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1884), p. 311.

Cited in Greg Gilbert, What Is the Gospel?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Affliction...God's Medicine

Affliction is one of God’s medicines. By it He often teaches lessons which would be learned in no other way. By it He often draws souls away from sin and the world, which would otherwise have perished everlastingly. Health is a great blessing, but sanctified disease is a greater. Prosperity and worldly comfort, are what all naturally desire; but losses and crosses are far better for us, if they lead us to Christ. Thousands at the last day, will testify with David, and the nobleman before us, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” (Psalm. 119:71.)

~ J.C. Ryle

Day by Day with J.C. Ryle, “Ministry (Miracles)”, [Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus, 2004], 203.

posted at JC Ryle Quotes

Decline of the 'Mainline' Churches

Kevin DeYoung has a good post on key factors in the decline of the mainline Protestant denominations.

Here's an excerpt that gives the essence of the article by William Murchison that he cites:

"What might all our churches of the Christian mainline–what might my Episcopal Church–do at this moment for their own sakes, for the sake of the many who look to them for the words of salvation? They might start once more to believe with all their heart, the way they once did believe. Believe what? The words their followers and servants took centuries ago to forests and fields and cabins, for their own part believing such words, such promises, to bear the stamp of God, to be the very words of life spoken to His faithful people."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spurgeon on 'besetting sins'

“He will subdue our iniquities” Micah 7:19, AV

“A besetting sin is a sin that sometimes surprises a man, and then he ought to show fight and drive the besetting sin away. If I were to walk over the common every night, arm in arm with a fellow who picked my pocket, I should not say that the man ‘beset’ me. No, he and I are friends, and the robbery is only a little dodge of our own. If you go willfully into sin, or tolerate it, and say you cannot help it — well, you have to help it or you will be lost. One thing is certain — either you must conquer sin or sin will conquer you, and to be conquered by sin is everlasting death.

Well, what is to be done? Fall back upon this gracious promise: ‘He will subdue our iniquities.’ They have to be subdued; Jesus will do the deed, and in his name will we overcome. If we are slothful, we will in God’s strength do ten times as much as we should have done had we been naturally of an active turn. . . . Up! Slay this Agag that you thought to spare [1 Samuel 15:32-33]. Hew him in pieces before the Lord, or else the Lord will hew you in pieces one of these days.

God give you grace to get the victory.”

C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of the Old Testament (London, n.d.), IV:687.

HT: Ray Ortlund, Jr.

"Grace Changes Everything"

Here's a post introducing what looks to be some very good teaching on how to live out the gospel in everyday life -- personally and as church together:

"Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Pastoral Ministry of the Word of God

"Let the pastors boldly dare all things by the word of God.... Let them constrain all the power, glory, and excellence of the world to give place to and to obey the divine majesty of this Word. Let them enjoin everyone by it, from the highest to the lowest. Let them edify the body of Christ. Let them devastate Satan's reign. Let them pasture the sheep, kill the wolves, instruct and exhort the rebellious. Let them bind and loose thunder and lightning, if necessary, but let them do all according to the Word of God."

-- John Calvin, "Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians"

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What is at the center?

"I suddenly saw that someone could use all the language of evangelical Christianity, and yet the center was fundamentally the self, my need of salvation. And God is auxiliary to that....I also saw that quite a lot of evangelical Christianity can easily slip, can become centered in me and my need of salvation, and not in the glory of God." (Lesslie Newbigin)

"It is this God, majestic and holy in his being...who has disappeared from the modern evangelical world." (David Wells)

Both quotes are from John Piper's "The Legacy of Sovereign Joy" (pp. 117,118)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wisdom from St. Augustine

"He loves Thee too little who loves anything together with Thee, which he loves not for Thy sake."

"If the things of this world delight you, praise God for them but turn your love away from them and give it to their Maker, so that in the things that please [you] you may not displease Him."