Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Tables Divinely Turned

"Satan was caught in the snare he laid for the Lord; nailed to the cross upon which he hoped to crucify him."

-- Basil [cp. Col. 2:14-15; Heb. 2:14-15]

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Going Soft Against Wrath"

"A soft answer turns away wrath, 
but a harsh word stirs up anger."

What is the wise response to an angry person who says something cruel, false or demanding? Proverbs 15:1 helps us in those awkward moments at home, at work, in our churches.

For the rest of Ray Ortlund's  helpful post, go here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Born for What Purpose?

“I was not born to be free. I was born to adore and obey.”

-- C.S. Lewis in ‘Breakfast Table and other Reminiscences.’

Monday, May 27, 2013

Conversion is no small matter...

“Conversion is another kind of work than most are aware of. It is not a small matter to bring an earthly mind to heaven and to show man the amiable excellencies of God, to be taken up in such love to him that can never be quenched; to make him flee for refuge to Christ and thankfully embrace him as the life of his soul; to have the very drift and bent of his life change so that a man renounces that which he took for happiness, and places his happiness where he never did before.”

– Richard Baxter( Puritan Evangelism; A Biblical Approach; p. 48)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Gospel Is the Food of Faith

"The new life in Christ, just like all natural life, must be nourished and strengthened. This is possible only in communion with Christ in the Holy Spirit and through the word of Scripture. Enlightened by the Spirit, believers gain a new knowledge of faith. The gospel is the food of faith and must be known to be nourishment. Salvation that is not known and enjoyed is no salvation. God saves by causing himself to be known and enjoyed in Christ."

— Herman Bavinck,  "Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 4: Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation"
(Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Academic, 2008), 96


Saturday, May 25, 2013

"How to Describe a Christian"

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.  1 John 5:1

Preaching on this verse in 1694, John Howe described what it looks like for a person to be “born of God,” that is, regenerate:

“. . . a mighty power from God coming upon their souls, conforming them to God, addicting them to God, uniting them with God, making them to center in God, taking them off from all this world. . . . It is a great thing to be a Christian!”

-- Edmund Calamy, editor, "The Works of the Rev. John Howe" (London, 1846), page 896
HT:  Ray Ortlund, Jr..

Friday, May 24, 2013

"...There is no such thing as not worshipping..."

“In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship— be it JC or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles— is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.

"If you worship money and things— if they are where you tap real meaning in life— then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you.  On one level, we all know this stuff already— it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

"Worship power— you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart— you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. The insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default settings. They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.”

– David Foster Wallace, in a speech to the graduating class at Kenyon College in 2005,  quoted by James K. A. Smith (2013-02-15). Imagining the Kingdom : Volume 2 (Cultural Liturgies): How Worship Works (Kindle Location 681). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A prodigal daughter

From Justin Taylor:    Barbara Miller Juliani—daughter of evangelist and pastor Jack Miller (1928-1996) and sister of Paul Miller (A Praying Life)—shares the story of leaving the Christian faith at the age of 18 and how the Lord drew her back.... (click here)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


“Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.”

― Charles H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Source of True Obedience

:Until men feel that they owe everything to God, that they are cherished by his paternal care, and that he is the author of all their blessings, so that naught is to be looked for away from him, they will never submit to him in voluntary obedience; no, unless they place their entire happiness in him, they will never yield up their whole selves to him in truth and sincerity."

— John Calvin
Institutes of the Christian Religion

Monday, May 20, 2013

"Simply Irresistible"

"The Gospel to me is simply irresistible. Being the man I am, being full of lust and pride and envy and malice and hatred and false good, and all accumulated exaggerated misery - to me the Gospel of the grace of God, and the Redemption of Christ, and the regeneration and sanctification of the Holy Ghost, that Gospel is to me simply irresistible, and I cannot understand why it is not equally irresistible to every mortal man born of woman." - Pascal.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What Is Your Stance Toward Your Sins?

“The difference between an unconverted man and a converted man is not that one has sins and the other does not; 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.”

-- William Arnot, "Laws From Heaven for Life On Earth" (London, 1884), page 311.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Puritan Wisdom Regarding Contentment

“My brethren, the reason why you have not got contentment in the things of the world is not because you have not got enough of them. That is not the reason. But the reason is because they are not things proportionable to that immortal soul of yours that is capable of God himself. Many men think that when they are troubled and have not got contentment, it is because they have but a little in the world, and if they had more then they would be content. That is just as if a man were hungry, and to satisfy his craving stomach he should gape and hold open his mouth to take in the wind, and then should think that the reason why he is not satisfied is because he has not got enough of the wind. No, the reason is because the thing is not suitable to a craving stomach.”

“Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10).

Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (Edinburgh, 1964), page 91.

The Path to Peace

"The path to peace begins when I stop focusing on my hurts and others' sins and start working on others' hurts and my sins."

-- Rick Warren (especially in light of what he and his family have recently experienced, that quote is particularly compelling)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Tragic Worship"

For Carl Trueman's profound essay about the place of 'tragedy' in authentic worship, go here.

Here is just a very brief excerpt:

"Christian worship should immerse people in the reality of the tragedy of the human fall and of all subsequent human life. It should provide us with a language that allows us to praise the God of resurrection while lamenting the suffering and agony that is our lot in a world alienated from its creator, and it should thereby sharpen our longing for the only answer to the one great challenge we must all face sooner or later. Only those who accept that they are going to die can begin to look with any hope to the resurrection."

"Be Not Dismayed by Soul Trouble"

"The lesson of wisdom is, be not dismayed by soul-trouble. Count it no strange thing, but a part of ordinary experience.

"Should the power of depression be more than ordinary, think not that all is over with your usefulness. Cast not away your confidence, for it hath great recompense of reward. Even if the enemy’s foot be on your neck, expect to rise and overthrow him.

"Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not his saints."

— Charles Spurgeon
"The Minister’s Fainting Fits"

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spurgeon on Repentance

“I hear another man cry, “Oh, sir my want of strength lies mainly in this, that I cannot repent sufficiently!” A curious idea men have of what repentance is! Many fancy that so many tears are to be shed, and so many groans are to be heaved, and so much despair is to be endured. Whence comes this unreasonable notion? Unbelief and despair are sins, and therefore I do not see how they can be constituent elements of acceptable repentance; yet there are many who regard them as necessary parts of true Christian experience. They are in great error. Still, I know what they mean, for in the days of my darkness I used to feel in the same way. I desired to repent, but I thought that I could not do it, and yet all the while I was repenting. Odd as it may sound, I felt that I could not feel. I used to get into a corner and weep, because I could not weep; and I fell into bitter sorrow because I could not sorrow for sin. What a jumble it all is when in our unbelieving state we begin to judge our own condition! It is like a blind man looking at his own eyes. My heart was melted within me for fear, because I thought that my heart was as hard as an adamant stone. My heart was broken to think that it would not break. Now I can see that I was exhibiting the very thing which I thought I did not possess; but then I knew not where I was. Remember that the man who truly repents is never satisfied with his own repentance. We can no more repent perfectly than we can live perfectly. However pure our tears, there will always be some dirt in them: there will be something to be repented of even in our best repentance. But listen! To repent is to change your mind about sin, and Christ, and all the great things of God. There is sorrow implied in this; but the main point is the turning of the heart from sin to Christ. If there be this turning, you have the essence of true repentance, even though no alarm and no despair should ever have cast their shadow upon your mind.”

― Charles H. Spurgeon, All of Grace [With CD]

Monday, May 13, 2013

"To the Rescue"

"I give my sheep eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand."  John 10:28

“Some will tell us that a man may receive spiritual life, and yet may die eternally.  That is to say, a man may be forgiven, and yet be punished afterwards.  He may be justified from all sin, and yet after that his transgression can be laid on his shoulders again.  A man may be born of God, and yet die.  A man may be loved of God, and yet God may hate him tomorrow. . . . As for me, I so deeply believe in the immutable love of Jesus that I suppose that if one believer were to be in hell, Christ himself would not long stay in heaven but would cry, ‘To the rescue!’”

-- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Two Effects of the Gospel,” 27 May 1855.

HT: Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

What is a Christian?

"A Christian is one who recognizes Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, as God manifested in the flesh, loving us and dying for our redemption; and who is so affected by a sense of the love of this incarnate God as to be constrained to make the will of Christ the rule of his obedience, and the glory of Christ the great end for which he lives."

—Charles Hodge, "An Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians" (1863), p. 133.

HT:  Justin Taylor

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Resurrection Witness: The Apostles Expected to Be Taken Seriously

“[T]he apostles’ contemporaries – Jew and Gentile alike – will have been just as aware as we are that the dead generally stay dead. Therefore the apostolic claim will have sounded initially just as surprising and unlikely to most of them as it does to us. Nonetheless, the Christians seem stubbornly to have persisted in it: in their proclamation, iin the formularies and narratives that marked their cult and their liturgies,  in debate with others, and in reflection on their own identity. What is more, they did not merely insist on it s a fine old story, their ‘myth’ or ‘founding legend,’ as a good Roman matron might tell her children the ancient stories of Romulus and Remus, pius Aeneas, or Alcestis. Rather, they insisted on telling each other, and anyone else who would listen, this very new story, even on occasion appealing in its regard to named ‘eyewitnesses’ (autoptai) and to what a particular follower of the Lord ‘remembered’ (emnēmneusen), as if they actually expected to be taken seriously.”

-- Christopher Bryan, "The Resurrection of the Messiah"

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Commitment Without Reservation

“For this implicit faith and total resignation of ourselves to the adorable Providence of God, willing nothing but what he wills, and because he wills it, is a state of mind whose excellency I cannot represent to you; it . . . makes our weakness as serviceable to us as our strength . . . . Let me, therefore, entreat you to put on this temper; to lay hold of it with all your might; to make everything you hear or see or find in yourself, the world, religion, or Providence, so many fresh occasions of committing yourself to God by a faith without any bounds, a resignation without any reserve.”

William Law, Works (London, 1762), IX:249-250.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Are you truly happy in God?

 "According to my judgement the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life. This has been my firm and settled condition for the last five and thirty years. For the first four years after my conversion I knew not its vast importance, but now after much experience I specially commend this point to the notice of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ: the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself." -- George Mueller

Monday, May 6, 2013

Thoughts on a 53rd birthday

Thankful for all who helped celebrating my birthday – including pizza at Cugino’s, a surprise nine holes of golf with a brother (who, it should be said, beat me…in spite of it being my birthday), my gracious wife taking me out for a steak dinner (and arranging last night’s fun party, hosted by friends with a real gift of hospitality), funny and encouraging cards and Facebook posts (baby Jack D. gets the prize for the cutest!), thoughtful gifts, and calls from family and faraway friends. It makes me more aware than ever of how grateful I should be for such gracious blessings – gifts of grace that are not merely more than I deserve, but the opposite of what I deserve – and I know that they come to me because of the amazing grace of God, the ultimate giver of every good and perfect gift.

Our Falling...His Love

"Our courteous Lord does not want his servants to despair because they fall often and grievously; for our falling does not hinder him in loving us." ~ Julian of Norwich, 14th century mystic

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A "Reluctant Convert"

"You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England"

-- C.S. Lewis, "Surprised By Joy," ch. 14, p. 266

Friday, May 3, 2013

God's Provision of Propitiation

"Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed Himself to be ‘just, and the justifer of him who hath faith in Jesus’.

"Do you understand this? If you do, you are now seeing to the very heart of the Christian gospel. No version of that message goes deeper than that which declares man’s root problem before God to be his sin, which evokes wrath, and God’s basic provision for man to be propitiation, which out of wrath brings peace."

— J. I. Packer
In My Place Condemned He Stood

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"A Joyous Worldview"

"I was daily filled with delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the children of man."  Proverbs 8:30-31

Proverbs 8 exults in God’s creation as the sparklingly bright achievement of Wisdom.  So there go superstition, asceticism and all religious grumpiness.  Proverbs 8 makes human life sweet and significant for us all as “heirs of the grace of life.”

Wisdom is not a nag.  Wisdom breaks through to happiness.  God shaped the pre-creation, “without form and void” mess into a world of genius and joy.  We have every reason, in the doctrine of creation, to say to God our Creator-Savior, “Here is my messy life.  Please re-create me.”  If we will, he will, and happily, to the praise of the glory of his grace in Christ.

-- Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Puritan Clarity

"He that believes in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved, be his sins never so many. But he that does not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ must be damned, be his sins never so few."

— Thomas Brooks