Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Church, politics and ecumenism

The Glenn Beck rally this weekend in Washington D.C. raises many issues for Evangelical Christians. While there has always been tension between Church and state, just how involved should the Church be in politics? Clearly the first mission of the Church is the preaching of the Gospel and the making of Disciples. Is there even a place for the Church in politics? The second issue raised by the Beck rally is ecumenism. Just how closely should Christians align with other faiths in pursuing social and political agendas?

Today on Wretched Radio, Phil Johnson (executive Director of Grace to You)  tackled those issues in a conversation with Todd Friel. Also, for your consideration, are a few thoughts on the subject from John Piper.

False religion is a far greater evil than bad politics:

John Piper - Church and politics:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Charles Spurgeon - Cast your care upon Him

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
- 1Peter 5:7

It is a happy way of soothing sorrow when we can feel-”HE careth for me.” Christian! do not dishonour religion by always wearing a brow of care; come, cast your burden upon your Lord. You are staggering beneath a weight which your Father would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden, would be to him but as the small dust of the balance. Nothing is so sweet as to
“Lie passive in God’s hands,
And know no will but his.”

O child of suffering, be thou patient; God has not passed thee over in his providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows, will also furnish you with what you need. Sit not down in despair; hope on, hope ever. Take up the arms of faith against a sea of trouble, and your opposition shall yet end your distresses.

There is One who careth for you. His eye is fixed on you, his heart beats with pity for your woe, and his hand omnipotent shall yet bring you the needed help. The darkest cloud shall scatter itself in showers of mercy. The blackest gloom shall give place to the morning. He, if thou art one of his family, will bind up thy wounds, and heal thy broken heart. Doubt not his grace because of thy tribulation, but believe that he loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness.

What a serene and quiet life might you lead if you would leave providing to the God of providence! With a little oil in the cruse, and a handful of meal in the barrel, Elijah outlived the famine, and you will do the same. If God cares for you, why need you care too? Can you trust him for your soul, and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens, he has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! have done with fretful care, and leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God.
- Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Considering Culture - Do you glorify God in your movie watching

There are many things that are acceptable to our culture that are, quite frankly, an abomination to God. As Christians, we need to think twice before we consume what the culture is feeding us. Friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). The wonderful thing about the Gospel is that it has the power to transform our affections. The more we delight ourselves in Christ, the less we will desire these things.

In this short clip, John Piper discusses what Christians need to be mindful of before flocking to the theater for the latest blockbuster.

Notable quotables

The more pride we have, the more other people’s pride irritates us.
- C. S. Lewis

The Best Safeguard Against False Teaching - J.C. Ryle Quotes

What is the best safe-guard against false teaching? Beyond all doubt the regular study of the word of God, with prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The Bible was given to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm. 119:105.) The man who reads it aright will never be allowed greatly to err. It is neglect of the Bible which makes so many a prey to the first false teacher whom they hear. They would have us believe that “they are not learned, and do not pretend to have decided opinions.” The plain truth is that they are lazy and idle about reading the Bible, and do not like the trouble of thinking for themselves. Nothing supplies false prophets with followers so much as spiritual sloth under a cloak of humility.

~ J.C. Ryle

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Bible's not about you...

It has been said that we are all the stars in our own life story. Everyone else is just a supporting actor. Without realizing it, we also begin to regard God in this way; we treat God as a supporting actor in OUR life story. Then it is no surprise that we have carried that sentiment over into the Church, and our reading of Scripture has become me-centered rather than Christ-centered. We have turned the Bible into a moral guide for self-improvement or a charm for self-empowerment.

Perhaps we read Scripture for tips on how to have Our Best Life Now, rather than to understand who Christ is and what He has accomplished. Maybe we read Scripture in an effort to add to our salvation. But, if we truly understand who Christ is and what He has done, we would find rest in Him. We would find that He is altogether glorious and "the things of earth would grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." We would find that we are transformed by seeking and beholding the face of Christ in Scripture.

In this short clip, Tim Keller explains what the true focus of Scripture is, and why it is more about Christ, and less about us.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Manifold Mercy of God

“The mercy of God.”
- Psalm 52:8

Meditate a little on this mercy of the Lord.

It is tender mercy. With gentle, loving touch, he healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He is as gracious in the manner of his mercy as in the matter of it.

It is great mercy. There is nothing little in God; his mercy is like himself-it is infinite. You cannot measure it. His mercy is so great that it forgives great sins to great sinners, after great lengths of time, and then gives great favours and great privileges, and raises us up to great enjoyments in the great heaven of the great God.

It is undeserved mercy, as indeed all true mercy must be, for deserved mercy is only a misnomer for justice. There was no right on the sinner’s part to the kind consideration of the Most High; had the rebel been doomed at once to eternal fire he would have richly merited the doom, and if delivered from wrath, sovereign love alone has found a cause, for there was none in the sinner himself.

It is rich mercy. Some things are great, but have little efficacy in them, but this mercy is a cordial to your drooping spirits; a golden ointment to your bleeding wounds; a heavenly bandage to your broken bones; a royal chariot for your weary feet; a bosom of love for your trembling heart. It is manifold mercy. As Bunyan says, “All the flowers in God’s garden are double.” There is no single mercy. You may think you have but one mercy, but you shall find it to be a whole cluster of mercies. It is abounding mercy. Millions have received it, yet far from its being exhausted; it is as fresh, as full, and as free as ever.

It is unfailing mercy. It will never leave thee. If mercy be thy friend, mercy will be with thee in temptation to keep thee from yielding; with thee in trouble to prevent thee from sinking; with thee living to be the light and life of thy countenance; and with thee dying to be the joy of thy soul when earthly comfort is ebbing fast.

- Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Everyone We See Has a Story - Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries

Check out this video produced by a company I really respect, Chick-fil-A. I think it’s very moving. It reminds me of the divine appointments God gives us daily. It also encourages me to pray, even if briefly, for many people I see in passing and do not know. This I do know—God created them, and loves them, and desires them to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). God has appointed one or more of His children, within their sphere of influence, to reach out and touch the lives of these people. Full Post>>

Friday, August 20, 2010

Christian, do not turn aside

This Scripture encouraged me today, and I just wanted to pass it along.

And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.”
Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.  And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people.
-1 Samuel 12:19-22

The people of Israel had committed a grievous sin by rejecting God’s rule and demanding a king. After they acknowledged the evil they had done, Samuel’s response was, "Do not fear... and do not turn aside from following the Lord."

I am amazed by the Grace and Mercy of God. “His compassions fail not. They are new every morning...”

No sooner did Adam fall, God proclaimed Christ, the Second Adam and Redeemer.
No sooner did Peter deny and the rooster crow, Christ was atoning for his sin.
No sooner did the thief on the cross cry out , “Lord, remember me...”, Christ said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Hell condemns. It whispers in the ear that your sin is too great, turn aside and despair. But God says in His Word,  Although you have done this wickedness, I do not condemn you. Do not turn aside from following Me, I will heal your backsliding and I will be faithful to complete the good work that I’ve started in you.

And one day, when our sanctification is finally complete, when heaven and earth are made new, God will rejoice over His people with singing:

In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: "Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak.
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."
- Zephaniah 3:16-17

Oh my soul, rejoice and wonder. How Great and Wonderful is our God.


Notable quotables

The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.
- C.S. Lewis

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The last journey

“Arise, and depart.”
- Micah 2:10

The hour is approaching when the message will come to us, as it comes to all-”Arise, and go forth from the home in which thou hast dwelt, from the city in which thou hast done thy business, from thy family, from thy friends. Arise, and take thy last journey.” And what know we of the journey? And what know we of the country to which we are bound? A little we have read thereof, and somewhat has been revealed to us by the Spirit; but how little do we know of the realms of the future!

We know that there is a black and stormy river called “Death.” God bids us cross it, promising to be with us. And, after death, what cometh? What wonder-world will open upon our astonished sight? What scene of glory will be unfolded to our view? No traveller has ever returned to tell. But we know enough of the heavenly land to make us welcome our summons thither with joy and gladness. The journey of death may be dark, but we may go forth on it fearlessly, knowing that God is with us as we walk through the gloomy valley, and therefore we need fear no evil.

We shall be departing from all we have known and loved here, but we shall be going to our Father’s house-to our Father’s home, where Jesus is-to that royal “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” This shall be our last removal, to dwell forever with him we love, in the midst of his people, in the presence of God. Christian, meditate much on heaven, it will help thee to press on, and to forget the toil of the way. This vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country: this world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss.

“Prepare us, Lord, by grace divine,
For thy bright courts on high;
Then bid our spirits rise, and join
The chorus of the sky.”
- Charles Spurgeon

Monday, August 9, 2010

Anchored In Christ’s Hands - J.C. Ryle Quotes

I want you to know the length and breadth of your portion in Christ. I want you to understand the full amount of the treasure to which faith in Jesus entitles you. You have found out that you are a great sinner. Thank God for that. You have fled to Christ for pardon and peace with God. Thank God for that. You have committed yourself to Jesus for time and eternity – you have no hope but in Christ’s blood, Christ’s righteousness, Christ’s mediation, Christ’s daily all-persevering intercession. Thank God for that. Your heart’s desire and prayer is to be holy in all manner of conversation. Thank God for that. But oh, lay hold upon the glorious truth – that believing on Jesus you shall never perish, you shall never be cast away, you shall never fall away! It is written for you as well as for the apostles, “My sheep shall never perish.

~ J.C. Ryle

Practical Religion, “Perseverance”, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1998], 516.


One of the Greatest Blockheads in the World - Desiring God

Seeing the devil is so cunning and subtile, it may seem a paradox, why he will endeavor to frustrate the designs of an omniscient being, or to pretend to counterwork him that is omnipotent, and will not suffer anything but what is for his own glory: seeing that God turns everything he does to the greater and more illustrious advancement of His own honor, and seeing he has experience of it, for so long a time, [that] all his deep laid contrivances have at last come out to his own overthrow, and the event has been directly contrary to his design.

To this I say, that although the devil be exceeding crafty and subtile, yet he is one of the greatest fools and blockheads in the world, as the subtilest of wicked men are. Sin is of such a nature that it strangely infatuates and bewitches persons: makes men deliberately choose eternal torments rather than miss of their pleasure of a few days, and to esteem a little silver and gold above eternal happiness; makes men choose a few minutes pleasure, though eternal flames be joined therewith, rather than not have it—thus do the cunningest of wicked men. Sin has the same effect on the devils, to make them act like fools, and so much the more as it is greater in them than in others.

"The devil acts not according to his deliberate judgment, but is driven on to his own inexpressible torment by the fury of sin, malice, revenge and pride; is so entirely under the government of malice, that although he never attempted anything against God but he was disappointed, yet he cannot bear to lie still, and refrain from exerting himself with all his might and subtilty against the interest of holiness; though he, if he considered, might know that it will turn to its advantage.

—Jonathan Edwards, Miscellanies #48 (paragraphing added)"

Monday music

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Christ will never, never cast out His own

“Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
- John 6:37

No limit is set to the duration of this promise. It does not merely say, “I will not cast out a sinner at his first coming,” but, “I will in no wise cast out.” The original reads, “I will not, not cast out,” or “I will never, never cast out.” The text means, that Christ will not at first reject a believer; and that as he will not do it at first, so he will not to the last.

But suppose the believer sins after coming? “If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” But suppose that believers backslide? “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.” But believers may fall under temptation! “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” But the believer may fall into sin as David did! Yes, but he will “Purge them with hyssop, and they shall be clean; he will wash them and they shall be whiter than snow”; “From all their iniquities will I cleanse them.”

“Once in Christ, in Christ for ever,
Nothing from his love can sever.”

“I give unto my sheep,” saith he, “eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” What sayest thou to this, O trembling feeble mind? Is not this a precious mercy, that coming to Christ, thou dost not come to One who will treat thee well for a little while, and then send thee about thy business, but he will receive thee and make thee his bride, and thou shalt be his for ever? Receive no longer the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption whereby thou shalt cry, Abba, Father! Oh! the grace of these words: “I will in no wise cast out.”

- Charles Spurgeon

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hitchens on cancer and people praying for him

It is no secret that Christopher Hitchens is an irreverent and outspoken atheist. He has penned books like God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, and he has also invested a fair amount of time debating theists. In fact there is a long laundry list of his debates on You Tube.

While he appears to maintain a stiff upper lip regarding his cancer diagnosis, his reaction is interesting when he speaks about people praying for him. It is certainly my hope and prayer that his eyes are opened and he is spared a Christ-less eternity.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We Are Born Proud and Need Humility - J.C. Ryle Quotes

Humility like this is one of the strongest evidences of the indwelling of the Spirit of God. We know nothing of humility by nature, for we are all born proud. To convince us of sin, to show us our own vileness and corruption, to put us in our right place, to make us lowly and self-abased–these are among the principal works which the Holy Spirit works in the soul of man. Few of our Lord’s sayings are so often repeated as the one which closes the parable of the Pharisee and Tax-collector–“Every one that exalts himself shall be abased, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14.) To have great gifts, and do great works for God, is not given to all believers. But all believers ought to strive to be clothed with humility.
~ J.C. Ryle


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Deepak Chopra: 'All belief is a cover up for insecurity'

This is a funny moment I had forgotten about. During a debate on ABC, Deepak Chopra got a lesson on self-refuting arguments. You can see the entire debate at the Nightline Face-off home page near the bottom of the page.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Free audio book

This month Christianaudio.com is offering Tim Keller's Ministries of Mercy free of charge. Coupon code is AUG2010. Prepare to be challenged.

Tim Keller: The Gospel and the Poor: A Case for Compassion from Here's Life Inner City on Vimeo.

Speaking of Tim Keller, he also taught an excellent series from his recent book, The Prodigal God, in which he examined the familiar parable of the Prodigal Son.

You can download the series here, and they are also linked below (click to listen or right click to download). I can't recommend them enough. This is the kind of insightful teaching that stirs the faith and kindles the heart.

Life meets art

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Let your soul lose itself in Holy wonder

“All they that heard it wondered at those things.”
- Luke 2:18

We must not cease to wonder at the great marvels of our God. It would be very difficult to draw a line between holy wonder and real worship; for when the soul is overwhelmed with the majesty of God’s glory, though it may not express itself in song, or even utter its voice with bowed head in humble prayer, yet it silently adores.

Our incarnate God is to be worshipped as “the Wonderful.” That God should consider his fallen creature, man, and instead of sweeping him away with the besom of destruction, should himself undertake to be man’s Redeemer, and to pay his ransom price, is, indeed marvellous! But to each believer redemption is most marvellous as he views it in relation to himself. It is a miracle of grace indeed, that Jesus should forsake the thrones and royalties above, to suffer ignominiously below for you.

Let your soul lose itself in wonder, for wonder is in this way a very practical emotion. Holy wonder will lead you to grateful worship and heartfelt thanksgiving. It will cause within you godly watchfulness; you will be afraid to sin against such a love as this. Feeling the presence of the mighty God in the gift of his dear Son, you will put off your shoes from off your feet, because the place whereon you stand is holy ground. You will be moved at the same time to glorious hope.

If Jesus has done such marvellous things on your behalf, you will feel that heaven itself is not too great for your expectation. Who can be astonished at anything, when he has once been astonished at the manger and the cross? What is there wonderful left after one has seen the Saviour? Dear reader, it may be that from the quietness and solitariness of your life, you are scarcely able to imitate the shepherds of Bethlehem, who told what they had seen and heard, but you can, at least, fill up the circle of the worshippers before the throne, by wondering at what God has done.
- Charles Spurgeon