Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jesus cares about all of your concerns

“The Lord taketh pleasure in his people.”
- Psalm 149:4

How comprehensive is the love of Jesus! There is no part of his people’s interests which he does not consider, and there is nothing which concerns their welfare which is not important to him. Not merely does he think of you, believer, as an immortal being, but as a mortal being too. Do not deny it or doubt it: “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.”

It were a sad thing for us if this mantle of love did not cover all our concerns, for what mischief might be wrought to us in that part of our business which did not come under our gracious Lord’s inspection! Believer, rest assured that the heart of Jesus cares about your meaner affairs. The breadth of his tender love is such that you may resort to him in all matters; for in all your afflictions he is afflicted, and like as a father pitieth his children, so doth he pity you. The meanest interests of all his saints are all borne upon the broad bosom of the Son of God.

Oh, what a heart is his, that doth not merely comprehend the persons of his people, but comprehends also the diverse and innumerable concerns of all those persons! Dost thou think, O Christian, that thou canst measure the love of Christ? Think of what his love has brought thee-justification, adoption, sanctification, eternal life! The riches of his goodness are unsearchable; thou shalt never be able to tell them out or even conceive them. Oh, the breadth of the love of Christ! Shall such a love as this have half our hearts? Shall it have a cold love in return? Shall Jesus’ marvellous lovingkindness and tender care meet with but faint response and tardy acknowledgment? O my soul, tune thy harp to a glad song of thanksgiving! Go to thy rest rejoicing, for thou art no desolate wanderer, but a beloved child, watched over, cared for, supplied, and defended by thy Lord.
- Charles Spurgeon

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jesus, a friend who never changes

The Lord Jesus is “a friend who never changes.” There is no fickleness about Him: those whom He loves, He loves to the end. Husbands have been known to forsake their wives; parents have been known to cast off their children; human vows and promises of faithfulness have often been forgotten. Thousands have been neglected in their poverty and old age, who were honored by all when they were rich and young. But Christ never changed his feelings towards one of His friends. He is “the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Hebrews 13:8]

~ J.C. Ryle

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Sweet and Bitter Providence

I recently finished reading A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper and I highly recommend it. Piper explores the sovereignty of God in the lives of His people even when it seems that we have gone off-track.

Another important theme Piper explores is how God works in the ordinary events of our lives for a grand and eternal purpose. Here is one of my favorite passages from the book:

"... God’s purpose for his people is to connect us to something far greater than ourselves. God wants us to know that when we follow him, our lives always mean more than we think they do... For the Christian there is always a connection between the ordinary events of life and the stupendous work of God in history.

Everything we do in obedience to God, no matter how small, is significant. It is part of a cosmic mosaic that God is painting to display the greatness of his power and wisdom to the world and to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:10). A deep satisfaction of the Christian life is that we are not given over to trifles. Serving a widowed mother-in-law, gleaning in a field, falling in love, having a baby—for the Christian these things are all connected to eternity. They are part of something so much bigger than they seem."

The good folks at have made this book available for free online. Or, if you wish, you can also purchase it online, at Amazon, and at your local bookstore.

Here is a little more about the book:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Volcanoes and Hubris :: BreakPoint

Every now and again, mankind gets reminded that we are not in control of our own destiny. The question is, will we ever learn the lesson?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

After the storm

“Afterward.” - Hebrews 12:11

How happy are tried Christians, afterwards. No calm more deep than that which succeeds a storm. Who has not rejoiced in clear shinings after rain? Victorious banquets are for well-exercised soldiers. After killing the lion we eat the honey; after climbing the Hill Difficulty, we sit down in the arbour to rest; after traversing the Valley of Humiliation, after fighting with Apollyon, the shining one appears, with the healing branch from the tree of life. Our sorrows, like the passing keels of the vessels upon the sea, leave a silver line of holy light behind them “afterwards.”

It is peace, sweet, deep peace, which follows the horrible turmoil which once reigned in our tormented, guilty souls. See, then, the happy estate of a Christian! He has his best things last, and he therefore in this world receives his worst things first. But even his worst things are “afterward” good things, harsh ploughings yielding joyful harvests. Even now he grows rich by his losses, he rises by his falls, he lives by dying, and becomes full by being emptied; if, then, his grievous afflictions yield him so much peaceable fruit in this life, what shall be the full vintage of joy “afterwards” in heaven?

If his dark nights are as bright as the world’s days, what shall his days be? If even his starlight is more splendid than the sun, what must his sunlight be? If he can sing in a dungeon, how sweetly will he sing in heaven! If he can praise the Lord in the fires, how will he extol him before the eternal throne! If evil be good to him now, what will the overflowing goodness of God be to him then? Oh, blessed “afterward!” Who would not be a Christian? Who would not bear the present cross for the crown which cometh afterwards? But herein is work for patience, for the rest is not for to-day, nor the triumph for the present, but “afterward.” Wait, O soul, and let patience have her perfect work.
-Charles Spurgeon

Free Audio Bible Files on YouTube :: Justin Taylor

If you’re looking for free Bible audio in the ESV—accessible from mobile devices—Crossway has put the Gospel of John and the book of Proverbs on YouTube.

The first chapter of John and Proverbs is included below.

Randy Alcorn on our pornographic culture

Randy Alcorn had a frank conversation about living in a pornographic culture and the need to protect, not just our kids, but ourselves in this modern day Corinth. You can read his full comments here and watch the video below.

Would you buy your son a stack of pornographic magazines? from Randy Alcorn on Vimeo.

It's not just a problem for boys from Randy Alcorn on Vimeo.

Jesus & the Buddha on Happiness :: Desiring God

Greatly disturbed by the suffering he saw in the world, 29-year-old Prince Gautama Siddhartha (563-483 BC), who was later called the Buddha (enlightened one), left his wife and young child and set out on a search for the meaning of life.

What he observed was the impermanence of the world—nothing lasted. In spite of this, people desired these impermanent things. They desired to hold on to life, health, possessions, and each other. But life, health, possessions and people pass away. Human desires would always ultimately disappoint. This, he reasoned, was the cause of human suffering.

Therefore, he concluded that if he could kill desire, if he could be tranquilly unaffected by either good or evil, his suffering would cease and he would be happy. He would be free from pain and the endless cycle of reincarnation. This was Nirvana.

It is ironic, though, that driving the Buddha’s rigorous pursuit to kill his desires was one great human desire: lasting happiness.

There was also a huge, vacuous hole in the Buddha’s pursuit of lasting happiness: no God. The Buddha didn’t say much about God’s existence because, frankly, to him God was irrelevant to human happiness. Rather, happiness was being free from desire-induced suffering and reincarnation. Happiness was the blissful end of individual existence—a sort of sweet annihilation.

How different are Jesus’ answers from the Buddha’s. When a rich and troubled young man, not so different from the rich and troubled young Gautama, sought out Jesus’ direction for eternal happiness, Jesus replied,

You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. (Mark 10:21)

Notice that Jesus did instruct the man to become detached from his possessions. But he did not mean a Buddhist detachment. He said it another way here:

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:45)

The message is clear: desire the treasure! Desire it enough to count everything else as loss in order to gain it (Philippians 3:8).

The difference is that the Buddha wants to be desire-less and completely absorbed into the impersonal cosmos. Jesus wants us to deeply desire and be completely enthralled with the Person in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

That’s why, in the battle against sinful desires, Jesus is so much more helpful than the Buddha. He knows that our desire for happiness is designed by God, and so is our desire for permanence. They are not evil. Here is what is evil:
Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:12-13)
We are designed to be satisfied with the one eternal (permanent) God. Evil is when we believe that God will not satisfy us and therefore pursue happiness in something else. That’s the essence of sin. And the way we fight sin is not to kill desire, but to abandon our futile desires for broken cisterns. There is no water there. Go to the Fountain!

Jesus and the Buddha agreed that pursuing ultimate happiness in transient things is futile. But they direct us to opposite solutions. The Buddha says satisfaction is treasuring no thing. Jesus says it is treasuring God. In God we get all things. In no thing we get, well, nothing.
- Jon Bloom

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Be of good courage

“Only be thou strong and very courageous.”
- Joshua 1:7

Our God’s tender love for his servants makes him concerned for the state of their inward feelings. He desires them to be of good courage. Some esteem it a small thing for a believer to be vexed with doubts and fears, but God thinks not so. From this text it is plain that our Master would not have us entangled with fears. He would have us without carefulness, without doubt, without cowardice. Our Master does not think so lightly of our unbelief as we do.

When we are desponding we are subject to a grievous malady, not to be trifled with, but to be carried at once to the beloved Physician. Our Lord loveth not to see our countenance sad. It was a law of Ahasuerus that no one should come into the king’s court dressed in mourning: this is not the law of the King of kings, for we may come mourning as we are; but still he would have us put off the spirit of heaviness, and put on the garment of praise, for there is much reason to rejoice.

The Christian man ought to be of a courageous spirit, in order that he may glorify the Lord by enduring trials in an heroic manner. If he be fearful and fainthearted, it will dishonour his God. Besides, what a bad example it is. This disease of doubtfulness and discouragement is an epidemic which soon spreads amongst the Lord’s flock. One downcast believer makes twenty souls sad. Moreover, unless your courage is kept up Satan will be too much for you.

Let your spirit be joyful in God your Saviour, the joy of the Lord shall be your strength, and no fiend of hell shall make headway against you: but cowardice throws down the banner. Moreover, labour is light to a man of cheerful spirit; and success waits upon cheerfulness. The man who toils, rejoicing in his God, believing with all his heart, has success guaranteed. He who sows in hope shall reap in joy; therefore, dear reader, “be thou strong, and very courageous.”
- Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Are we truly His?

Are we ourselves people of God? Have we been born again? Have we the MARKS which always accompany the new birth–sense of sin, faith in Jesus, love of others, righteous living, separation from the world? Let us never be content until we can give a satisfactory answer to these questions.

~ J.C. Ryle

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Charles Spurgeon - Look to the Savior and rise

“Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”
- John 5:8

Like many others, the impotent man had been waiting for a wonder to be wrought, and a sign to be given. Wearily did he watch the pool, but no angel came, or came not for him; yet, thinking it to be his only chance, he waited still, and knew not that there was One near him whose word could heal him in a moment. Many are in the same plight: they are waiting for some singular emotion, remarkable impression, or celestial vision; they wait in vain and watch for nought. Even supposing that, in a few cases, remarkable signs are seen, yet these are rare, and no man has a right to look for them in his own case; no man especially who feels his impotency to avail himself of the moving of the water even if it came.

It is a very sad reflection that tens of thousands are now waiting in the use of means, and ordinances, and vows, and resolutions, and have so waited time out of mind, in vain, utterly in vain. Meanwhile these poor souls forget the present Saviour, who bids them look unto him and be saved. He could heal them at once, but they prefer to wait for an angel and a wonder. To trust him is the sure way to every blessing, and he is worthy of the most implicit confidence; but unbelief makes them prefer the cold porches of Bethesda to the warm bosom of his love.

O that the Lord may turn his eye upon the multitudes who are in this case to-night; may he forgive the slights which they put upon his divine power, and call them by that sweet constraining voice, to rise from the bed of despair, and in the energy of faith take up their bed and walk. O Lord, hear our prayer for all such at this calm hour of sunset, and ere the day breaketh may they look and live.

Courteous reader, is there anything in this portion for you?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Imperatives – Indicatives = Impossibilities :: Justin Taylor

The dominant mode of evangelical preaching on sanctification, the main way to motivate for godly living, sounds something like this:
You are not _____;
You should be _________;
Therefore, do or be ________!
Fill in the blank with anything good and biblical (holy; salt and light; feed the poor; walk humbly; give generously; etc.).

This is not how Paul and the other New Testament writers motivated the church in light of the resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit. They did give imperatives (=what you should do), but they do so only based on indicatives (=what God has done).

The problem with the typical evangelical motivation toward radical or sacrificial living is that “imperatives divorced from indicatives become impossibilities” (to quote Tullian Tchividjian). Or another way that Tullian puts it: “gospel obligations must be based on gospel declarations.”

This “become what you are” way of speaking is strange for many us us. It seems precisely backward. But we must adjust our mental compass in order to walk this biblical path and recalibrate in order to speak this biblical language.

We see this all throughout the NT. Here are a few examples of this gospel logic and language:
“You really are unleavened” (indicative), therefore “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump” (imperative). [1 Cor. 5:7].

“You are not under law but under grace” and you “have been brought from death to life (indicatives),
therefore “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body. . . .
Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness,
but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (imperatives). [Rom. 6:12-14]

“Having been set free from sin, [you] have become slaves of righteousness (indicatives) . . .
[therefore] now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification (imperative). [Rom. 6:18-19]

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (indicative), therefore, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (imperative). [Gal. 5:16, 24]
Pastor, are you encouraging your people to become who they already are in Christ Jesus?


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Very cool commericial

This is a seatbelt ad but it makes a nice metaphor for other things as well.

Calvin on Useless Knowledge :: Tolle Lege

“Almost all men are infected with the disease of desiring useless knowledge. It is of great importance that we should be told what is necessary for us to know, and what the Lord desires us to contemplate, above and below, on the right hand and on the left, before and behind.

The love of Christ is held out to us as the subject which ought to occupy our daily and nightly meditations, and in which we ought to be wholly immersed. He who holds in possession of this alone, has enough.

Beyond it there is nothing solid, nothing useful– nothing, in short, that is right or sound. Go abroad in heaven and earth and sea, you will never go beyond this without overstepping the lawful bounds of wisdom.”

–John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, trans. T.H.L. Parker (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 169. Calvin is commenting on Ephesians 3: 18-19.

The One Who Stills the Seas - Desiring God

(by David Mathis)

Why were Jesus' disciples so wigged out when he stilled the sea? Already afraid of the great storm, you'd think they might have been calmed by Jesus' calming of the waves. But it seemed to have the opposite effect. Mark 4:41: "And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, 'Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?'"

The disciples now seem to be perplexed about their master's identity. "Who then is this . . . ?" Stilling the sea is such a show-stopping demonstration of power that flooding their souls isn't the happy realization that their buddy Jesus has more power than they had estimated, but the unnerving new awareness that they may have misunderstood his very identity.

Knowing the Psalms, they must have known who it is that stills the seas.
  • Psalm 65:7 identifies God as the one "who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves."
  • In Psalm 89:9, the psalmist ascribes this praise to Yahweh: "You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them."
  • Psalm 93:4 asserts, "Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!"
  • And Psalm 107:29 claims of Yahweh, "He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed."
The disciples are dreadfully disoriented because they are aware that the one who stills the seas is Yahweh himself. Stilling the seas doesn't reveal Jesus to be a mere miracle-worker with extraordinary powers, but Yahweh himself come in the flesh. God is in the dinghy with them.

"Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?" The undeniable response is too unspeakably great, too wonderfully strange, too pleasantly confusing to utter. Being filled with fear is a fitting response, as is marveling (Matthew 8:27). Their Jesus is Yahweh himself, the one who still the seas.

The God-man is their fellow seafarer, and their who-question is yet too terrifically terrifying to answer.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Evidence of a changed heart

"If grace has really changed our hearts, we don’t ultimately care if life goes the way we want it, as long as we have him. The joys of acclaim, wealth, and power are nothing compared to the eternal acclaim, wealth, and power we have in him. A “weaned child” is not just someone who knows this in principle, but who has worked gospel truths into his or her soul as spiritually sensed realities. Internally, this quiets the soul into profound contentment and poise. Externally, it means humility, a willingness to learn from others and also to trust God. The believer realizes that the reason God’s actions are often opaque is not because we are wise and he is foolish, but because he is too “great” and “wonderful” for us." 
- Tim Keller

Monday music smile - Take me home

Love the percussion work on this song from the 80's. Phil Collins was an unlikely rock star, but his talent as a musician and songwriter kept him on the charts.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Charles Spurgeon - Showers of Grace

“I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.” - Ezekiel 34:26

Here is sovereign mercy-”I will give them the shower in its season.” Is it not sovereign, divine mercy?-for who can say, “I will give them showers,” except God? There is only one voice which can speak to the clouds, and bid them beget the rain. Who sendeth down the rain upon the earth? Who scattereth the showers upon the green herb? Do not I, the Lord?

So grace is the gift of God, and is not to be created by man. It is also needed grace. What would the ground do without showers? You may break the clods, you may sow your seeds, but what can you do without the rain? As absolutely needful is the divine blessing. In vain you labour, until God the plenteous shower bestows, and sends salvation down. Then, it is plenteous grace. “I will send them showers.” It does not say, “I will send them drops,” but “showers.” So it is with grace. If God gives a blessing, he usually gives it in such a measure that there is not room enough to receive it. Plenteous grace! Ah! we want plenteous grace to keep us humble, to make us prayerful, to make us holy; plenteous grace to make us zealous, to preserve us through this life, and at last to land us in heaven. We cannot do without saturating showers of grace. Again, it is seasonable grace. “I will cause the shower to come down in his season.”

What is thy season this morning? Is it the season of drought? Then that is the season for showers. Is it a season of great heaviness and black clouds? Then that is the season for showers. “As thy days so shall thy strength be.” And here is a varied blessing. “I will give thee showers of blessing.” The word is in the plural. All kinds of blessings God will send. All God’s blessings go together, like links in a golden chain. If he gives converting grace, he will also give comforting grace. He will send “showers of blessing.” Look up to-day, O parched plant, and open thy leaves and flowers for a heavenly watering.