Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Look to Jesus

Look not to yourselves! You are by nature wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked; you cannot make atonement for your past transgressions, you cannot wipe out a single page in that long black list. And when the King shall ask you for your wedding garment you will be speechless. Look simply unto Jesus, and then the weight shall fall from off your shoulders, the course shall be clear and plain, and you shall run the race which is set before you.
~ J.C. Ryle

Free Music Download - Page CXVI

"Music is the handmaiden of theology, leading to a fuller appreciation of God."
                                                                                                                - Martin Luther

Over the last few years I have rediscovered the old sacred hymns; the kind of songs they used to sing in my grandparents church. Songs full of Scripture and sound doctrine. So I am always excited to see a new hymns project.

The group Page CXVI will soon release their second album of hymns and I can't wait. But until then, you can download their first album of hymns for free (CLICK HERE) until May 4th. But make no mistake about it, these are first rate musicians and vocalists. They are doing this because they have a passion for hymns and want to introduce them to a new generation.

If you're wondering what the story is behind the unusual name. Here is the story from their website:
The name comes from a reference to page 116 in our copy of The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. It is a poignant passage where Aslan begins to sing Narnia into creation out of a black void.
It starts, “In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction is was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it.”
~ C.S. Lewis

Of course, Aslan the lion is a Christ figure from The Chronicles of Narnia. I suspect that Lewis got the idea to have Aslan sing creation into existence from Zephaniah 3:17 which reads:

The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

Consider that passage for just a moment, the Almighty God will rejoice over His people with singing. That is too wonderful for words; and it is that type of awe and wonder that a well written hymn can help draw us to.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Charles Spurgeon - A love as deep as hell

“Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting”
- Micah 5:2

The Lord Jesus had goings forth for his people as their representative before the throne, long before they appeared upon the stage of time. It was “from everlasting” that he signed the compact with his Father, that he would pay blood for blood, suffering for suffering, agony for agony, and death for death, in the behalf of his people; it was “from everlasting” that he gave himself up without a murmuring word. That from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot he might sweat great drops of blood, that he might be spit upon, pierced, mocked, rent asunder, and crushed beneath the pains of death. His goings forth as our Surety were from everlasting.

Pause, my soul, and wonder!

Thou hast goings forth in the person of Jesus “from everlasting.” Not only when thou wast born into the world did Christ love thee, but his delights were with the sons of men before there were any sons of men. Often did he think of them; from everlasting to everlasting he had set his affection upon them. What! my soul, has he been so long about thy salvation, and will not he accomplish it? Has he from everlasting been going forth to save me, and will he lose me now? What! Has he carried me in his hand, as his precious jewel, and will he now let me slip from between his fingers? Did he choose me before the mountains were brought forth, or the channels of the deep were digged, and will he reject me now? Impossible!

I am sure he would not have loved me so long if he had not been a changeless Lover. If he could grow weary of me, he would have been tired of me long before now. If he had not loved me with a love as deep as hell, and as strong as death, he would have turned from me long ago. Oh, joy above all joys, to know that I am his everlasting and inalienable inheritance, given to him by his Father or ever the earth was! Everlasting love shall be the pillow for my head this night.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pride and humility

Proud people don’t feel amazed at being treated well. They don’t feel deep gratefulness. But humble people do. In fact, they are made even more humble by being treated graciously. They are so amazed that grace came to them in their unworthiness that they feel even more lowly. But they receive the gift. Joy increases, not self-importance. Grace is not intended to replace lowliness with pride.
- John Piper, A Sweet & Bitter Providence

Notable quotables

"Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man."
- C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Safe in the Arms of God

The death of a child is a painful loss experienced by many parents. For anyone who has lost a young child, it should be of great comfort to know that they are safe in the arms of God. Pastor John MacArthur recently aired a sermon series to give hope to grieving parents.

If you have recently lost  a child, I hope you will find great comfort and encouragement from the following messages.

What Happens to Babies Who Die?

A Couples Perspective on the Death of a Child
The Salvation of Babies Who Die - Part 1
The Salvation of Babies Who Die - Part 2
Jesus loves the little children

An Evening of Hope with Greg Laurie and Steven Curtis Chapman

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Explosive power

The pictures coming in from Eyjafjallajokull are simply stunning.
More from Eyjafjallajokull - The Big Picture - Boston.com

Sports and evangelism

What major sport was created as an evangelistic tool? The answer to that question and the history behind the game is really an amazing story. Chuck Colson from Breakpoint will give you the details below.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Charles Spurgeon - True repentance

“Rend your heart, and not your garments.”
- Joel 2:13

GARMENT-RENDING and other outward signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested and are frequently hypocritical; but to feel true repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Men will attend to the most multiplied and minute ceremonial regulations-for such things are pleasing to the flesh-but true religion is too humbling, too heart-searching, too thorough for the tastes of the carnal men; they prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly. Outward observances are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up: but they are ultimately delusive, for in the article of death, and at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than ceremonies and rituals to lean upon. Apart from vital godliness all religion is utterly vain; offered without a sincere heart, every form of worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of heaven.

HEART-RENDING is divinely wrought and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form, but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked of and believed in, but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating, and completely sin-purging; but then it is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud unhumbled spirits are unable to receive; and it is distinctly discriminating, for it belongs to the elect of God, and to them alone.

The text commands us to rend our hearts, but they are naturally hard as marble: how, then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary: a dying Saviour’s voice rent the rocks once, and it is as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us hear the death-cries of Jesus, and our hearts shall be rent even as men rend their vestures in the day of lamentation.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Notable quotables

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
-William Cowper

The most common sin

It is an dreadful fact, whether we like to allow it or not, that pride is one of the common sins which beset human nature. We are all born Pharisees. We all naturally think far better of ourselves than we ought. We all naturally imagine that we deserve something better than we have.

It is an old sin. It began in the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve thought they had not got everything that their merits deserved. It is a subtle sin. It rules and reigns in many a heart without being detected, and can even wear the garb of humility.

It is a most soul ruining sin. It prevents repentance, keeps men back from Christ – checks brotherly love, and nips in the bud spiritual desires. Let us watch against it, and be on our guard. Of all garments, none is so graceful, none wears so well, and none is so rare, as true humility.

~ J.C. Ryle

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Forgiving an Unrepentant Person :: Desiring God

What should we do when a person has wronged us and has no remorse? As Christians we've all been there; we know that we must forgive, but does that mean that the relationship is restored? Here are two short articles from Desiring God addressing this very important topic:

Piper's Take on Forgiving an Unrepentant Person
John Piper discusses the practical realities of forgiving an unrepentant person.

Being Forgiving Doesn't Always Mean Forgiving
More thoughts on this subject from Tyler Kenney.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Free audio book

EPM and Christianaudio.com have partnered together to give away Randy Alcorn's The Treasure Principal until noon, April 16th (pacific time).

If you have never read (or heard) anything from Randy Alcorn, I highly recommend his writings. He has keen insight and a vivid way of communicating why it is important for the Christian to have an eternal perspective.

Randy recently visited Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Ca. for a "conversational Bible study" with Greg Laurie. You can view an excerpt below or watch the entire study here.

Monday music smile - One Voice

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Charles Spurgeon - The sweetest prayer

“Pray one for another.”
- James 5:16

As an encouragement cheerfully to offer intercessory prayer, remember that such prayer is the sweetest God ever hears, for the prayer of Christ is of this character. In all the incense which our Great High Priest now puts into the golden censer, there is not a single grain for himself. His intercession must be the most acceptable of all supplications-and the more like our prayer is to Christ’s, the sweeter it will be; thus while petitions for ourselves will be accepted, our pleadings for others, having in them more of the fruits of the Spirit, more love, more faith, more brotherly kindness, will be, through the precious merits of Jesus, the sweetest oblation that we can offer to God, the very fat of our sacrifice. Remember, again, that intercessory prayer is exceedingly prevalent. What wonders it has wrought! The Word of God teems with its marvellous deeds.

Believer, thou hast a mighty engine in thy hand, use it well, use it constantly, use it with faith, and thou shalt surely be a benefactor to thy brethren. When thou hast the King’s ear, speak to him for the suffering members of his body. When thou art favoured to draw very near to his throne, and the King saith to thee, “Ask, and I will give thee what thou wilt,” let thy petitions be, not for thyself alone, but for the many who need his aid. If thou hast grace at all, and art not an intercessor, that grace must be small as a grain of mustard seed. Thou hast just enough grace to float thy soul clear from the quicksand, but thou hast no deep floods of grace, or else thou wouldst carry in thy joyous bark a weighty cargo of the wants of others, and thou wouldst bring back from thy Lord, for them, rich blessings which but for thee they might not have obtained:-

“Oh, let my hands forget their skill,
My tongue be silent, cold, and still,
This bounding heart forget to beat,
If I forget the mercy-seat!”

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy – Justin Taylor

65 years ago today Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged to death—stripped naked and strangled by a thin wire at Flossenb├╝rg concentration camp. Three weeks later the Soviets would capture Berlin and Hitler would commit suicide. Three months later the Allies would assume control of Germany. Continue>>

Here is the final scene from the movie Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace, depicting his execution:

Run the race depending on Christ

We are to run our race “looking unto Jesus.” We are to run, depending on Him for salvation, renouncing all trust in our own poor frail exertions, and counting our own performances no better than filthy rags, and resting wholly and entirely, simply and completely, upon that perfect righteousness which He worked out for us upon the cross. 

We need not run uncertain of the end, we need not fight in ignorance of what shall follow. We have only to behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and believe that He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows, and will soon present us spotless and unblameable in His Father’s sight.
~ J.C. Ryle

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Can You Bear Uncertainty? :: Desiring God

Uncertainty is a difficult thing to bear. We want to know where the provision is going to come from or if we're going to die of this disease or how this child is going to turn out or if our job will still be there next month.

But as we see in Luke 9:57-58, Jesus makes it clear that his disciples must be able to bear uncertainty if they are to follow him.

* * *

"I will follow you wherever you go."

I'm sure that whoever made this public declaration to Jesus was sincere. They likely had heard him preach and seen him perform amazing signs and wonders. As Jesus' fame increased, so did the number of his would-be disciples.

What the person might not have known was that at that moment Jesus was homeless.

Jesus and his cohort were traveling south from Galilee. He had set his face to go to Jerusalem, where his resolute purpose was to die. But to get there he had to travel through Samaria.

Back then there was a lot of bad blood between Jews and Samaritans. More precisely, Samaritans had the bad blood. They were the result of centuries of intermarriage and religious syncretism between Jews and Israel's former Gentile conquerors.

Over the centuries the Samaritans had developed their own version of the scriptures and built their own temple on their own mountain. Their beliefs were defective distortions of Jewish orthodoxy. Therefore, the Jews had "no dealings with Samaritans" (John 4:9) and vice versa.

But Jesus had made a bit of a name for himself among the Samaritans. For a Jew, Jesus spoke with and about Samaritans with unprecedented kindness and compassion. In fact, in the town of Sychar he had spoken with a woman of questionable reputation and as a result she and many from that town believed Jesus was the Messiah (John 4:1-42).

Be that as it may, Jesus was turned away from a Samaritan town when he attempted to make lodging arrangements there. If his face was set toward Jerusalem, he wasn't welcome.

This really ticked off the disciples. The Samaritans weren't just heretics, they were ingrates. James and John wanted to burn the town off the map.

But Jesus hadn't come to judge the world. He had come to save it (John 12:47). So he simply moved on without any place to stay the night.

So when an adoring fan announced his desire to follow him anywhere, Jesus deglamorized things a bit by replying, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head" (Luke 9:58).

* * *

God doesn't tell us how that person responded because what's important is the implied question: can you bear uncertainty? Can you bear not knowing how God is going to provide for your most urgent needs and still trust that he will?

It is a question that Jesus wants all of his disciples to wrestle with. There are simply going to be times when we don't know where the provision is going to come from. Circumstances will look precarious, sometimes foreboding and threatening. Plans are going to fall through. People are going to disappoint us. They may reject or misunderstand our mission. If these things happened to Jesus, we should not be surprised when they happen to us. And we are not to become angry when they do. Note that Jesus rebuked James and John for their response (Luke 9:55).

Jesus does not want us to be governed by fear at such times. He wants us governed by faith. The reason is that the uncertainty is only apparent uncertainty. Our future and our provision and our ultimate triumph are certain to God. He has all the foreknowledge, power, resources, and desire to turn everything for good for those who love him and are called by him (Romans 8:28).

Apparently uncertain seasons are usually the most powerful God moments we experience. They often put God on display more than other seasons, demonstrating that God exists and rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

So if you are in one of those seasons, take heart. You are likely experiencing what it means to have a God "who acts for those who wait for him" (Isaiah 64:4).
- Jon Bloom

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday music - My Redeemer Lives

Here is another excellent song from Crystal Lewis and one of my favorites. I love to see gospel music taken straight from Scripture. My Redeemer Lives comes from Job 19:25-27 which reads:

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!

Job, while enduring his great trial remembered that he had a living Savior, and no matter the outcome of his trial, he would see God in his resurrection body.

We just celebrated Resurrection Sunday but let us not forget that Jesus is alive, and because he lives so will all who trust in Him as their Lord and Redeemer.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Grasp the Truth of the Cross

"Let us never forget the sacrificial character of Christ’s death. Let us reject with abhorrence the modern notion that it was nothing more than a mighty instance of self-sacrifice and self-denial. It was this no doubt – but it was something far higher, deeper, and more important than this. It was a propitiation for the sins of the world. It was an atonement for man’s transgression. It was the killing of the true passover Lamb, through whose death destruction is warded off from sinners believing on Him. “Christ our passover Lamb,” says Paul, “is sacrificed for us.” (1 Cor. 5:7) Let us grasp that truth firmly, and never let it go."
~ J.C. Ryle

It's Friday, but Sunday's comin'

Charles Spurgeon - Crucified with Christ

“I am crucified with Christ.”
- Galatians 2:20

The Lord Jesus Christ acted in what he did as a great public representative person, and his dying upon the cross was the virtual dying of all his people. Then all his saints rendered unto justice what was due, and made an expiation to divine vengeance for all their sins. The apostle of the Gentiles delighted to think that as one of Christ’s chosen people, he died upon the cross in Christ. He did more than believe this doctrinally, he accepted it confidently, resting his hope upon it. He believed that by virtue of Christ’s death, he had satisfied divine justice, and found reconciliation with God. Beloved, what a blessed thing it is when the soul can, as it were, stretch itself upon the cross of Christ, and feel, “I am dead; the law has slain me, and I am therefore free from its power, because in my Surety I have borne the curse, and in the person of my Substitute the whole that the law could do, by way of condemnation, has been executed upon me, for I am crucified with Christ.”

But Paul meant even more than this. He not only believed in Christ’s death, and trusted in it, but he actually felt its power in himself in causing the crucifixion of his old corrupt nature. When he saw the pleasures of sin, he said, “I cannot enjoy these: I am dead to them.” Such is the experience of every true Christian. Having received Christ, he is to this world as one who is utterly dead. Yet, while conscious of death to the world, he can, at the same time, exclaim with the apostle, “Nevertheless I live.” He is fully alive unto God. The Christian’s life is a matchless riddle. No worldling can comprehend it; even the believer himself cannot understand it. Dead, yet alive! crucified with Christ, and yet at the same time risen with Christ in newness of life! Union with the suffering, bleeding Saviour, and death to the world and sin, are soul-cheering things. O for more enjoyment of them!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Visible Sermon of the Lord’s Supper

"The principal object of the Lord’s supper was to remind Christians of Christ’s death for sinners. In appointing the Lord’s supper, Jesus distinctly tells His disciples that they were to do what they did, “in remembrance of him.” In one word, the Lord’s supper is not a sacrifice. It is eminently a commemorative ordinance.
The bread that the believer eats, at the Lord’s table, is intended to remind him of Christ’s body given to death on the cross for his sins. The wine that he drinks is intended to remind him of Christ’s blood shed to make atonement for his transgressions. The whole ordinance was meant to keep fresh in his memory the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and the satisfaction which that sacrifice made for the sin of the world. The two elements of bread and wine were intended to preach Christ crucified as our substitute under lively emblems. They were to be a visible sermon, appealing to the believer’s senses, and teaching the old foundation-truth of the Gospel, that Christ’s death on the cross is the life of man’s soul."
~ J.C. Ryle

Maundy Thursday – Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung shares some thoughts on the new command given by Christ.

Maundy Thursday – Kevin DeYoung