Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Christian's Conflict

"War with sin and doubt, guilt and depression, are not signs of defeat, but proof of Christ's victory.  After all, those who are not baptized into Christ by the Spirit are at peace with sin and unbelief.  The absence of war within is true only of people in one of two states: unregenerate or glorified.  The believer is presently in neither.  Such conflict is not the evidence that one is a 'carnal Christian' but is the genuine experience of every believer throughout the course of his life."

-- Michael Horton, "In the Face of God"

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Take Time to Be Holy"

  1. Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
    Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
    Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
    Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
  2. Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
    Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
    By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
    Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.
  3. Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
    And run not before Him, whatever betide.
    In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
    And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.
  4. Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
    Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
    Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
    Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.
  5. -- William D. Longstaff

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Between His resurrection and ours...

In a sense, the resurrection of the dead has already begun — with Jesus as the firstfruits. Nevertheless, there is a delay between his resurrection and ours. And in this delay, the harvest multiplies, grows, and ripens. 
— Michael HortonThe Gospel Commission(Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Books, 2011), 69
HT: "Of First Importance"

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Packer on Repentance

“We need to realize that while God’s acceptance of each Christian believer is perfect from the start, our repentance always needs to be extended further as long as we are in this world.  Repentance means turning from as much as you know of your sin to give as much as you know of yourself to as much as you know of your God, and as our knowledge grows at these three points so our practice of repentance has to be enlarged.”

- J.I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God, 87.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"We're worse than broken..."

In an example of how the words we (Christians) use to describe our experience matters, Randy Newman (of
Campus Crusade) explains how 'brokenness' is an inadequate word for describing the Biblical truth about us.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"It just isn't there..."

Behold, they are all a delusion;
their works are nothing;
their metal images are empty wind
Isaiah 41:29
“I think one may be quite rid of the old haunting suspicion — which raises its head in every temptation — that there is something else than God, some other country into which he forbids us to trespass, some kind of delight which he ‘doesn’t appreciate’ or just chooses to forbid, but which would be real delight if only we were allowed to get it. The thing just isn’t there. Whatever we desire is either what God is trying to give us as quickly as he can, or else a false picture of what he is trying to give us, a false picture which would not attract us for a moment if we saw the real thing. . . . He knows what we want, even in our vilest acts. He is longing to give it to us. . . . The truth is that evil is not a real thing at all, like God. It is simply good spoiled. . . . You know what the biologists mean by a parasite — an animal that lives on another animal. Evil is a parasite. It is there only because good is there for it to spoil and confuse.”
-- C. S. Lewis, in Walter Hooper, editor, They Stand Together (New York, 1979), page 465. Italics original.
HT: Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Blessed are the pure in heart...."

“Purity of heart is indeed a matter of willing one thing, namely to live every day of one’s life loving God.” -- J.I. Packer

The pure in heart, thus described, are blessed indeed.  It's the double-minded, trying to love God and love the world, who are destined to be miserable.

The pure in heart shall "see God" -- in the new heavens and new earth, yes, but also, in a limited yet true way, in this life also.

Schaeffer on the Christian Life

“As I see it, the Christian life must be comprised of three concentric circles, each of which must be kept in its proper place.  In the outer circle must be the correct theological position, true biblical orthodoxy and the purity of the visible church.  This is first, but if that is all there is, it is just one more seedbed for spiritual pride.
In the second circle must be good intellectual training and comprehension of our own generation.  But having only this leads to intellectualism and again provides a seedbed for pride.
In the inner circle must be the humble heart — the love of God, the devotional attitude toward God.  There must be the daily practice of the reality of the God whom we know is there. . . .
When each of these three circles is established in its proper place, there will be tongues of fire and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Then, at the end of my life, when I look back over my work since I have been a Christian, I will see that I have not wasted my life.  The Lord’s work must be done in the Lord’s way.”
Francis A. Schaeffer, “The Lord’s Work in the Lord’s Way,” in No Little People (Downers Grove, 1974), page 74, italics his.
HT: Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Monday, June 20, 2011

"Hell is dreadful, but it's not evil..."

"Though Christ's words about hell are clear, emphatic, and repeated, our temptation is to think that he didn't mean what he said.  But isn't the most obvious conclusion that he really did?  And that the doctrine of hell isn't a ballot measure, and God doesn't give us a vote?

"Hell is dreadful, but it's not evil -- it's a place where evil gets punished.  Something can be profoundly disturbing yet still be moral.  Hell is moral because a good God must punish evil."

-- Randy Alcorn, in his Foreword to "God Wins" (by Mark Galli)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A prayer for Fathers Day

May our own dear ones be among the better generation who shall continue in the Lord's ways, obedient to the end. And their seed shall be established before thee. God does not neglect the children of his servants. It is the rule that Abraham's Isaac should be the Lord's, that Isaac's Jacob should be beloved of the Most High, and that Jacob's Joseph should find favour in the sight of God. Grace is not hereditary, yet God loves to be served by the same family time out of mind, even as many great landowners feel a pleasure in having the same families as tenants upon their estates from generation to generation. Here is Zion's hope, her sons will build her up, her offspring will restore her former glories. We may, therefore, not only for our own sakes, but also out of love to the church of God, daily pray that our sons and daughters may be saved, and kept by divine grace even unto the end—established before the Lord."
-- Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Broken-hearted affections

“All gracious affections that are a sweet odor to Christ, and that fill the soul of a Christian with a heavenly sweetness and fragrancy, are broken-hearted affections.”
-- Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, Part III, Section 6.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Christ's Love Compels Us

We believers do need to be challenged to a life of committed discipleship, but that challenge needs to be based on the gospel, not on duty or guilt. Duty or guilt may motivate us for awhile, but only a sense of Christ’s love for us will motivate us for a lifetime. 
— Jerry BridgesThe Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness(Colorado Springs, Co.: NavPress, 1994), 24-25

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The One who loved me so...

“When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so, and sought my good.”

-- C.H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"...Glory begun below..."

"...God's love suffuses the Christian's consciousness [see Rom. 5:5] and leads him or her to say: 'the Son of God...loved me and gave himself for me' (Gal. 2:20).  In the light of this, Christians are 'filled with an expressible and glorious joy' which is the Spirit's fruit (1 Pet. 1:8; Gal. 5:22; cf. 1 Thess. 1:6; Rom. 14:17).

"The present experience of Christ by the Spirit is a foretaste of the future fullness.  Even in suffering and persecution Christians may enjoy this foretaste because the Spirit rests on them in his dual capacity as 'the Spirit of grace and glory' (cf. 1 Pet. 1:8; 4:13-14).  Truly, 'the men of grace have found glory begun below' (Isaac Watts)."

-- Sinclair Ferguson, "The Holy Spirit" (p. 180; IVP)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

God delights in doing us good...

If we can once again look to the cross and grasp the height and depth of the love of God for us in Jesus, then how can we doubt his desire to give us everything necessary for life and godliness? If we feel the smile of the Father’s favor toward us in Christ, in spite of our history of sin and failure, then we will be encouraged to step out again in faith. We will still not know what the future holds, yet if we know that the one who holds the future cares for us, that first step upward on the long road back to obedience becomes possible again. 
— Iain DuguidEsther and Ruth(Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2005), 157-158
HT:  Of First Importance

Sunday, June 12, 2011

When you pray...'Thou Art Coming to a King'

Come, my soul, thy suit prepare:
Jesus loves to answer prayer;
He Himself has bid thee pray,
Therefore will not say thee nay;
Therefore will not say thee nay.

Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much;
None can ever ask too much.

With my burden I begin:
Lord, remove this load of sin;
Let Thy blood, for sinners spilt,
Set my conscience free from guilt;
Set my conscience free from guilt.

Lord, I come to Thee for rest,
Take possession of my breast;
There Thy blood bought right maintain,
And without a rival reign;
And without a rival reign.

As the image in the glass
Answers the beholder's face;
Thus unto my heart appear,
Print Thine own resemblance there;
Print Thine own resemblance there.

While I am a pilgrim here,
Let Thy love my spirit cheer;
As my Guide, my Guard, my Friend,
Lead me to my journey's end;
Lead me to my journey's end.

Show me what I have to do,
Every hour my strength renew:
Let me live a life of faith,
Let me die Thy people's death;
Let me die Thy people's death.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Scum of the Earth

“We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.”  1 Corinthians 4:13
"Gospel people know where they belong — out with the garbage.  In this world of false glories, the cross and all who love it will never measure up to this week’s definition of cool.  The early church accepted that, and triumphed.  Now it’s our turn.  And one thing to gladden us is this.  Even below the bottom of the heap is the Lord Jesus Christ, the weakness of God and the foolishness of God, saving everyone low enough to discover him there."
-- Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What are you becoming?

"A person will worship something, have no doubt about that....  That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character.  Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming."

 --- Ralph Waldo Emerson, quoted in "Almost Christian" (the opening quotation of the chapter: 'Worshipping at the Church of Benign Whateverism')

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The powers of the age to come in this present age

"In Christ, God has broken into our world of sin and death and is even now bringing the powers of the age to come into the present age by his Word and Spirit.  It is a profound disturbance of our lives and our world: disorienting, dividing, and delivering us from the supposed givens of what we thought were 'reality'." -- Michael Horton

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Mystery of the Kingdom

In its present phase, the kingdom is like its King before he was raised from the dead and exalted to the right hand of the Father. It can only appear weak and foolish to the world, even though this kingdom is more extensive in its global reach and more intensive in its redemptive power than any earthly empire in history. 
— Michael HortonThe Christian Faith(Grand Rapids, Mi.: Zondervan, 2011), 524
HT: "Of First Importance"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What should a worship leader do?

“A faithful worship leader
magnifies the greatness of God
through the power of the Holy Spirit
by skillfully combining God’s Word with music,
thereby motivating the gathered church
to proclaim the Gospel,
to cherish God’s presence,
and to live for God’s glory.”

Bob Kauflin,  “Worship Matters, p. 55

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

“Then the church shall be brought to the full enjoyment of her bridegroom, having all tears wiped away from her eyes, and there shall be no more distance or absence.  She shall then be brought to the entertainments of an eternal wedding feast, and to dwell forever with her bridegroom, yea, to dwell eternally in his embraces.  Then Christ will give her his loves, and she shall drink her fill, yea, she shall swim in the ocean of his love.”
Jonathan Edwards, “The Church’s Marriage to her Sons and to her God,” inWorks (Edinburgh, 1979), II:22.
HT: Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Using God as a means to another end?

"If you're a Christian mainly because you want to be changed, that's a problem. If you've given your life to God mostly because you are tired of yourself and want to be a different person -- well, that may suggest you're using God to fix you. That's not faith. That’s not love of God. That's love of self."

-- Mark Galli

Friday, June 3, 2011

Authentic, experiential Christianity

“Spiritual experience that does not arise from God’s word is not Christian experience. . . . Not all that passes for Christian experience is genuine. An authentic experience of the Spirit is an experience in response to the gospel. Through the Spirit the truth touches our hearts, and that truth moves our emotions and effects our wills.”

- Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway Books, 2008), 31.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What lies beneath?

"Under every behavioral sin is the sin of idolatry, and under every act of idolatry is a disbelief in the gospel."

-- Tim Keller (paraphrasing Martin Luther), from his "Gospel in Life" teaching DVD (Zondervan)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Holiness begins in this world

"There is no idea more foolish or pernicious than this — that a person who is not sanctified, not made holy in this life, should afterwards be taken into the blessedness that consists in the enjoyment of God. Such a person cannot enjoy God, nor would God be a reward to them. Holiness is perfected in heaven, but it is always begun in this world." -- John Owen