Sunday, January 31, 2010

Charles Spurgeon - Sinking times are praying times

“Beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.”
- Matthew 14:30

Sinking times are praying times with the Lord’s servants. Peter neglected prayer at starting upon his venturous journey, but when he began to sink his danger made him a suppliant, and his cry though late was not too late. In our hours of bodily pain and mental anguish, we find ourselves as naturally driven to prayer as the wreck is driven upon the shore by the waves. The fox hies to its hole for protection; the bird flies to the wood for shelter; and even so the tried believer hastens to the mercy seat for safety. Heaven’s great harbour of refuge is All-prayer; thousands of weather-beaten vessels have found a haven there, and the moment a storm comes on, it is wise for us to make for it with all sail.

Short prayers are long enough. There were but three words in the petition which Peter gasped out, but they were sufficient for his purpose. Not length but strength is desirable. A sense of need is a mighty teacher of brevity. If our prayers had less of the tail feathers of pride and more wing they would be all the better. Verbiage is to devotion as chaff to the wheat. Precious things lie in small compass, and all that is real prayer in many a long address might have been uttered in a petition as short as that of Peter.

Our extremities are the Lord’s opportunities. Immediately a keen sense of danger forces an anxious cry from us the ear of Jesus hears, and with him ear and heart go together, and the hand does not long linger. At the last moment we appeal to our Master, but his swift hand makes up for our delays by instant and effectual action. Are we nearly engulfed by the boisterous waters of affliction? Let us then lift up our souls unto our Saviour, and we may rest assured that he will not suffer us to perish. When we can do nothing Jesus can do all things; let us enlist his powerful aid upon our side, and all will be well.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Notable quotables

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

-C.S. Lewis

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday music smile

Stanley Jordan (the Michael Jordan of guitar) has a way of making one guitar sound like two or three. Here is his rendition of Over the Rainbow.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Charles Spurgeon - Cares of the world and a cold heart

“Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.”
- Psalms 119:37

There are divers kinds of vanity. The cap and bells of the fool, the mirth of the world, the dance, the lyre, and the cup of the dissolute, all these men know to be vanities; they wear upon their forefront their proper name and title.
Far more treacherous are those equally vain things, the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. A man may follow vanity as truly in the counting-house as in the theatre. If he be spending his life in amassing wealth, he passes his days in a vain show.

Unless we follow Christ, and make our God the great object of life, we only differ in appearance from the most frivolous. It is clear that there is much need of the first prayer of our text. “Quicken thou me in thy way.” The Psalmist confesses that he is dull, heavy, lumpy, all but dead. Perhaps, dear reader, you feel the same. We are so sluggish that the best motives cannot quicken us, apart from the Lord himself. What! will not hell quicken me? Shall I think of sinners perishing, and yet not be awakened? Will not heaven quicken me? Can I think of the reward that awaiteth the righteous, and yet be cold? Will not death quicken me? Can I think of dying, and standing before my God, and yet be slothful in my Master’s service? Will not Christ’s love constrain me? Can I think of his dear wounds, can I sit at the foot of his cross, and not be stirred with fervency and zeal? It seems so!

No mere consideration can quicken us to zeal, but God himself must do it, hence the cry, “Quicken thou me.” The Psalmist breathes out his whole soul in vehement pleadings: his body and his soul unite in prayer. “Turn away mine eyes,” says the body: “Quicken thou me,” cries the soul. This is a fit prayer for every day. O Lord, hear it in my case this night.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The outrageous love of God

There is an aspect of God's love and forgiveness that is simply offensive to our human sensibilities. We are not offended by His love and forgiveness for us, but we are easily offended by the notion that God is willing to forgive the "worst kind of sinner". Think about it, what is the worst thing someone has done to you or someone you love? What if that person truly repented and cried out to God for forgiveness. Does that thought comfort you?

Truth be told, we are probably more like Jonah than we would like to admit. When God told Jonah to preach to the Ninevites, his first response was to catch the first ship in another direction. The Ninevites were a cruel, bloodthirsty people who dealt harshly with the Jewish people. Of course, when he finally obeyed God and warned Nineveh of pending judgement, the entire kingdom repented in sackcloth and ashes. This resulted in God's forgiveness of Nineveh, and Jonah's anger:
But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” - Jonah 4:1-3
Or, consider the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31). We all know the story. The younger son demanded his inheritance, which was a great insult by itself. To add insult to injury, he also squandered his inheritance on loose living.

After his money ran out and he came to his senses, he decided to go home. His heart was broken and contrite. He would not dare ask to be restored as a son. His only hope was to work as a hired hand and, in some way, make restitution for what he had done. But his father would have none of it. As soon as he saw his son from a distance, he ran to him and smothered him with kisses. This was very undignified behavior for a family patriarch. He immediately forgave his wayward child, restored him to full sonship and had a lavish celebration. All of this greatly displeased the elder brother.
The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' - Luke 15:28-20
There it is again, the scandal of forgiveness. It was a scandal that this father would so readily forgive his son; a son who had lived so wantonly and disgraced the family name.

Corrie ten Boom faced a similar dilemma as a WWII concentration camp survivor. Many years after her release, she was approached by a former concentration camp guard who was one of the cruelest. In the many years that passed, his eyes where opened, and he also had come to faith in Christ. He extended his hand to shake hers and, for a moment, Corrie hesitated. Then she reached out and took his hand; at that moment forgiveness flooded her heart.

She would later write about that incident saying, "For a long moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then."

Once again, there it is, a scandal. How could anyone forgive a Nazi, a prodigal, or a Ninevite? To many, the very notion of doing so is absurd. That is certainly how Jonah must have felt. The Ninevites were every bit as cruel as the Nazis.

Bob Glenn of Redeemer Bible Church takes a look at the issue of forgiveness in a message called "The Outrageous Love of God". Glenn makes the point that we must understand the scandal of God's forgiveness to understand the greatness of God's forgiveness. You can listen at the link below.

The Outrageous Love of God

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Notable quotables

“Scripture makes clear that there is indeed a way to God, but that it is not based on anything men themselves can do to achieve or merit it. Man can be made right with God, but not on his own terms or in his own power. In that basic regard Christianity is distinct from every other religion. As far as the way of salvation is concerned, there are therefore only two religions the world has ever known or will ever know—the religion of divine accomplishment, which is biblical Christianity, and the religion of human achievement, which includes all other kinds of religion, by whatever names they may go under.
—John MacArthur

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Atheists give to Haiti... and they want you to know

Richard Dawkins has joined 13 other atheist groups to create the Non Believers Giving Aid in an effort to show that atheists care about people too. Maybe someday they will also build their own hospitals and universities instead of taking over historically Christian ones.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday music smile

Here is another great sound-check with Jubilant Sykes and Grant Geissman. Sometimes it seems that the best stuff happens in the moment and never makes it to the stage. You might want to take a look at my previous post with these two if you missed it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Charles Spurgeon - Come unto me

“Come unto me.”
- Matthew 11:28

The cry of the Christian religion is the gentle word, “Come.” The Jewish law harshly said, “Go, take heed unto thy steps as to the path in which thou shalt walk. Break the commandments, and thou shalt perish; keep them, and thou shalt live.” The law was a dispensation of terror, which drove men before it as with a scourge; the gospel draws with bands of love. Jesus is the good Shepherd going before his sheep, bidding them follow him, and ever leading them onwards with the sweet word, “Come.” The law repels, the gospel attracts. The law shows the distance which there is between God and man; the gospel bridges that awful chasm, and brings the sinner across it.

From the first moment of your spiritual life until you are ushered into glory, the language of Christ to you will be, “Come, come unto me.” As a mother puts out her finger to her little child and woos it to walk by saying, “Come,” even so does Jesus. He will always be ahead of you, bidding you follow him as the soldier follows his captain. He will always go before you to pave your way, and clear your path, and you shall hear his animating voice calling you after him all through life; while in the solemn hour of death, his sweet words with which he shall usher you into the heavenly world shall be-”Come, ye blessed of my Father.”

Nay, further, this is not only Christ’s cry to you, but, if you be a believer, this is your cry to Christ-”Come! come!” You will be longing for his second advent; you will be saying, “Come quickly, even so come Lord Jesus.” You will be panting for nearer and closer communion with him. As his voice to you is “Come,” your response to him will be, “Come, Lord, and abide with me. Come, and occupy alone the throne of my heart; reign there without a rival, and consecrate me entirely to thy service.”

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Dawkins delusion

If you haven't seen Expelled yet, I highly recommend it. Expelled documents how academia has attempted to shutdown debate over Intelligent Design. It also describes how Intelligent Design proponents are often blacklisted by their peers.

Here is a brief excerpt from the movie. Apparently Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist, really doesn't have a problem with Intelligent Design. He allows for the possibility that there could be an intelligent designer in the form of a superior alien race. But he refuses to consider the possibility that the Intelligent Designer could be God.

Incidentally, the notion that our planet could have been "seeded" by an alien race was the premise behind the movie Mission to Mars.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday music smile

Okay, today I have a little atmosphere music for you. Most of you already know the tune, but this live version is quite nice. So go ahead, hit the play button get your cup of coffee or start cooking dinner and enjoy.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Charles Spurgeon - Self examination

“Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.”
- Proverbs 27:23

Every wise merchant will occasionally hold a stock-taking, when he will cast up his accounts, examine what he has on hand, and ascertain decisively whether his trade is prosperous or declining.

Every man who is wise in the kingdom of heaven, will cry, “Search me, O God, and try me”; and he will frequently set apart special seasons for self-examination, to discover whether things are right between God and his soul. The God whom we worship is a great heart-searcher; and of old his servants knew him as “the Lord which searcheth the heart and trieth the reins of the children of men.” Let me stir you up in his name to make diligent search and solemn trial of your state, lest you come short of the promised rest.

That which every wise man does, that which God himself does with us all, I exhort you to do with yourself this evening. Let the oldest saint look well to the fundamentals of his piety, for grey heads may cover black hearts: and let not the young professor despise the word of warning, for the greenness of youth may be joined to the rottenness of hypocrisy. Every now and then a cedar falls into our midst. The enemy still continues to sow tares among the wheat.

 It is not my aim to introduce doubts and fears into your mind; nay, verily, but I shall hope the rather that the rough wind of self-examination may help to drive them away. It is not security, but carnal security, which we would kill; not confidence, but fleshly confidence, which we would overthrow; not peace, but false peace, which we would destroy. By the precious blood of Christ, which was not shed to make you a hypocrite, but that sincere souls might show forth his praise, I beseech you, search and look, lest at the last it be said of you, “Mene, Mene, Tekel: thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.”

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Proof of evolution?

Um, if this is proof of evolution, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

More people jumping from high stuff

Nasr Al Niyadi and Omar Al Hegelan were given permission to jump from the worlds tallest building; the newly opened Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The Burj stands at 2,716ft tall, putting the building and the jumpers in the record books.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Sweet and Bitter Providence

You can download a free PDF of the book here. Desiring God also has a large and free online library available. It's a great resource.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Way to go Brit!

O'Reilly asked Brit Hume about the comments he made on Fox News Sunday to Tiger Woods. All I can say is "Way to go Brit!" (Forward to 3:40 for key moments.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday morning smile: Backstage rehearsal

This obscure little video features renowned Baritone Jubilant Sykes and guitar virtuoso Grant Geissman. Sykes' voice has been featured in film and symphony theaters around the world. He also sings at Grace Community Church, pastored by John MacArthur. Geissman is probably best known for his guitar solo in Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good".

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Brit Hume to Tiger Woods: "Turn to the Christian faith"

Charles Spurgeon - Continue in prayer

“Continue in prayer.”
- Colossians 4:2

It is interesting to remark how large a portion of Sacred Writ is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in furnishing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We scarcely open the Bible before we read, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord;” and just as we are about to close the volume, the “Amen” of an earnest supplication meets our ear.

Instances are plentiful. Here we find a wrestling Jacob-there a Daniel who prayed three times a day-and a David who with all his heart called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands, and myriads of promises. What does this teach us, but the sacred importance and necessity of prayer? We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in his Word, he intended to be conspicuous in our lives. If he has said much about prayer, it is because he knows we have much need of it. So deep are our necessities, that until we are in heaven we must not cease to pray.

Dost thou want nothing? Then, I fear thou dost not know thy poverty. Hast thou no mercy to ask of God? Then, may the Lord’s mercy show thee thy misery! A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian.

If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father’s face, and live in thy Father’s love. Pray that this year thou mayst be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter oftener into the banqueting-house of his love. Pray that thou mayst be an example and a blessing unto others, and that thou mayst live more to the glory of thy Master. The motto for this year must be, “Continue in prayer.”

Saturday, January 2, 2010

10 resolutions for mental health

(Author: John Piper)

On October 22, 1976, Clyde Kilby, who is now with Christ in Heaven, gave an unforgettable lecture. I went to hear him that night because I loved him. He had been one of my professors in English Literature at Wheaton College. He opened my eyes to more of life than I knew could be seen.
O, what eyes he had! He was like his hero, C. S. Lewis, in this regard. When he spoke of the tree he saw on the way to class this morning, you wondered why you had been so blind all your life. Since those days in classes with Clyde Kilby, Psalm 19:1 has been central to my life: "The sky is telling the glory of God."

That night Dr. Kilby had a pastoral heart and a poet's eye. He pled with us to stop seeking mental health in the mirror of self-analysis, but instead to drink in the remedies of God in nature.

He was not naïve. He knew of sin. He knew of the necessity of redemption in Christ. But he would have said that Christ purchased new eyes for us as well as new hearts. His plea was that we stop being unamazed by the strange glory of ordinary things.

He ended that lecture in 1976 with a list of resolutions. As a tribute to my teacher and a blessing to your soul, I offer them for your joy.

10 Resolutions for Mental Health

1. At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me.

2. Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle, and an end.

I think this will save me from the cynicism expressed by Bertrand Russell before his death when he said: "There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing."

3. I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event, filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities.

I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence, but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.

4. I shall not turn my life into a thin, straight line which prefers abstractions to reality. I shall know what I am doing when I abstract, which of course I shall often have to do.

5. I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.

6. I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their "divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic" existence.

7. I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the "child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder."

8. I shall follow Darwin's advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music.

9. I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, "fulfill the moment as the moment." I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is now.

10. Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life on the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls himself Alpha and Omega.