Monday, March 30, 2009

Take heed what you read, AW PINK

I so wish this was read by every Christian imaginable, this would do a world of good to countless saints in they took seriously the words of this minister. It seems the church (seminaries an blogs) with it's frequent emphasis on 'read this, read that...more is better' has bought into those 'the more you know.." commercials and perhaps too many reading rainbow shows. Quality over Quantity, time is short so pass over the fluff and start chewing on some meat.

Take Heed What You Read
Arthur Pink
"Take heed what you hear" (Mark 4:24): the word "hear" obviously includes what is read, for that which is written or printed is addressed to the ears of our intellect. Few people today realize the urgent need for "taking heed" unto what they read. Just as the natural food which is eaten either helps or hinders the body—so the mental food we receive either benefits or injures the mind, and that, in turn, affects the heart. Just as it is harmful to listen to the rubbish and poison which is being served from the great majority of present-day pulpits—so it is exceedingly injurious to the soul to read most of what is now being published. "Take heed what you hear" and read! But let us seek to be more specific.
The only thing which is really worth calling "religion" is the life of God in the soul-commenced, carried on, and consummated solely by the Holy Spirit. Hence, whatever does not bear the impress of the Spirit's unction, should be rejected by the Christian: for not only can unctionless messages do us no good—but what proceeds not from the Spirit—is of the flesh. Here, then, is the test which God's children ought to apply unto all they hear, and here is the balance in which they should weigh all that they read. True, there are varying degrees of the Spirit's unction. As it is in the natural so it is in the spiritual—there will be a varying amount of wetness from the faintest moisture of dew—as compared to the copious shower. As there had to be "salt" in every sacrifice (Lev. 2:13), so every discourse or article proceeding from the Spirit's aid, is "seasoned with salt" (Colossians 4:6). But O how very much today is devoid of spiritual savor and flavor!
Some of God's dear people may suppose that it would be presumptuous to set themselves up as judges of what they hear or read—but that is a serious mistake, being both a false humility, and a shirking of duty. The Apostle rebuked the Hebrews because their senses (spiritual faculties) were not developed so as to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:13). With as much reason, might it be termed pride for anyone to pass judgment upon the groceries or meats purchased from the stores. Others may ask, "But how are simple and unlearned souls to distinguish between the different religious publications of the day?" Very simply: in sampling your natural food how do you determine whether or not it be seasoned? By your natural taste, of course. So it is spiritually: the "new man" has a palate too! If the God of creation has given us natural palates for the purpose of distinguishing between wholesome and unwholesome food, the God of grace has furnished His people with a capacity, a spiritual sense, to distinguish between nutritious and unwholesome soul food.
"Just as the mouth tastes food—the ear tests the words it hears" (Job 34:3). Does yours, my reader? Are you as careful about what you take into your mind—as what you take into your stomach? You certainly ought to be, for the former is even more important than the latter. If you eat some material food which is injurious, you can take a purgative and get rid of the same; but if you have devoured mental food which is injurious, it stays with you! "The ear tests the words it hears." Again, we ask, Does yours, dear reader? Are you learning to distinguish between "letter" and "spirit;" between the "form" and the "power;" between that which is of the earth and that which is from Heaven; between that which is lifeless and unctionless and that which is instinct with the breath of God? If the answer is 'No', then you are greatly the loser.
How many of God's dear children listen to the automaton "letter" preachers of today, and yet find nothing suited to the needs of their poor souls! And how many are subscribing for one magazine after another, hoping to find that which will the better furnish them to fight the good fight of faith—only to be disappointed? What they hear and what they read does not penetrate and grip—it has no power—it neither breaks down nor lifts up—it produces neither godly sorrow nor godly joy. The messages they hear or read, fall upon their ear like an idle or twice-told tale—it completely fails to reach their case or minister to their needs. They are no better off after hearing a hundred such "sermons" or reading through a hundred such periodicals, than they were at the beginning! They are no farther from the world—and no nearer unto God!
It is often a long time before God's children are able to account for this. They blame themselves; they are exceedingly loath to say, "This message is not of God." They are afraid to act in the spiritual, as they do in the natural, and condemn and discard that which is worthless. While they feel a lack of power in the sermons they hear, or the articles they read, and while their souls steadily get dried up like a potsherd—they are slow to realize that this is the inevitable effect of the unctionless preaching they listen to, or the unctionless literature they read; and that such dryness and leanness of soul is inevitable—by their association with unhumbled and empty professors. But in due time God opens their eyes, and they see through the flimsy veil and discover that both the sermons they hear, and the literature they read—are only the product of a dead profession!
Ah, it is a great thing when once the Holy Spirit teaches a soul—that it is power which is lacking from the lifeless preaching and lifeless articles of dead professors. It is power which the renewed soul seeks—a message which has power to search his conscience, to pierce him to the quick, to write it upon his heart; a message which has power to bring him to his knees in broken-hearted confession to God; a message which has power to make him feel that he is "vile"; a message which has power to drive him to Christ, for the binding up of his wounds, for Him to pour in "oil and wine," and send him on his way rejoicing. Yes, what the renewed soul longs for (though at first he knows it not) is that Divine message which comes to him "not simply with words—but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction!" (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
Sooner or later, every Christian comes to value "power," and to count as worthless, whatever lacks it. It is by Divine power, that he is taught in his own soul, by which he is made to feel acutely his sinnership, his carnality, his beggarliness. It is Divine power working in his heart—the same power which brought Christ again from the dead (Eph. 1:19, 20)—which draws his affections unto things above and makes his soul pant after God "as the deer pants after the water brooks" (Psalm 42:1). It is this Divine power working in him which reveals to his burdened spirit the Throne of Grace, and causes him to implore mercy and to seek grace "to help in time of need." It is this Divine power working in him, which makes him cry "Make me walk along the path of Your commands—for there I find delight" (Psalm 119:35).
Those who are partakers of this Divine power (and they are few in number) can never be satisfied with a powerless ministry, either oral or written.
"Those who live according to the flesh—have their minds set on what the flesh desires," (Romans 8:5). They are charmed with oratorical eloquence, catchy sayings, witty allusions, and amusing illustrations. On just such "husks", do the religious "swine" feed!
But the penitent prodigal can find no nutriment therein! Men "of the world"—and they may be graduates from some "Bible Institute" or possessors of a diploma from some Bible Seminary, now styling themselves "preachers of the Gospel"—will speak of the things of the world and "the world hears them" (1 John 4:5). But those who are seeking to "work out their own salvation with fear and trembling" obtain no help therefrom, yes, they perceive clearly that such sermons and periodicals are "broken cisterns, which can hold no water" (Jer. 2:13).
"Take heed what you hear" and read! More than forty years ago the saintly Adolph Saphir wrote, "I think the fewer books we read—the better. It is like times of cholera, when we should only drink filtered water." What would he say if he were on earth today and glanced over the deadly poison sent forth by the heterodox, and the lifeless rubbish put out by the orthodox? Christian reader, if you value the health of your soul, cease hearing and quit reading all that is lifeless, unctionless, powerless, no matter what prominent or popular name be attached thereto. Life is too short to waste valuable time on that which does not profit. Ninety-nine out of every hundred of the religious books, booklets, and magazines now being published, are not worth the paper on which they are printed!
To turn away from the lifeless preachers and publishers of the day—may involve a real cross. Your motives will be misconstrued, your words perverted, and your actions misinterpreted. The sharp arrows of false report will be directed against you. You will be called proud and self-righteous, because you refuse to fellowship empty professors. You will be termed censorious and bitter—if you condemn in plain speech—the subtle delusions of Satan. You will be dubbed narrow-minded and uncharitable, because you refuse to join in singing the praises of the "great" and "popular" men of the day. More and more, you will be made to painfully realize—that the path which leads unto eternal life is "narrow" and that FEW there are who find it. May the Lord be pleased to grant unto each of us—the hearing ear and obedient heart! "Take heed what you hear" and read!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

UNCTION the missing link

This thought was first aroused by reading Ravenhill over 5yrs ago, but just last night i was reading to my wife out of Iain Murrays 'A Scottish Christian Heritage' and here is what sparked this post, concerning the life of ROBERT BRUCE but first this is what JOHN LIVINGSTON had to say about ROBERT BRUCE: "No man in his time spake with such evidence and power of the Spirit...yea, many of his hearers thought that no man since the apostles spake with such power."
Keep in mind that this was a time of much decay and corruption.
Now here is the excerpt:
..he regarded powerless preaching as reason enough to question any man's call to the ministry:

"The Spirit in me doth kindle a reverence in the spirit of the hearer; and if it be not in me, the spirit of the hearer will discern me not to be sent, but only to have the word of the commission, and not to have the power; for the power is the evident argument that a man is sent. Therefore, many start to teach this word, who are not sent...and therefore the flock of God is not built up, because they have only the word of commission and lack the power of the Spirit that should make the Word effectual to the hearer."
An incident in the life of a younger contemporary of Bruce illustrates how seriously he took this principle. Robert Blair was a gifted young man from the Glasgow College, and a candidate for the ministry, when Bruce heard him preach after he had returned to the south from his first exile in Inverness. Afterwards, in conversation with his senior, Blair asked for any advice on his sermon. He received an unforgettable response: "I found your sermon very polished and digested, but there is one thing I miss in it, to wit, the Spirit of God; I found not that." Far from being alienated, Blair came to admire the man whom he called 'that ancient heroic servant of Christ', and he made the long journey to see him during Bruce's second confinement in Inverness.

Spurgeon gave this advice to those who would require more than necessary from their ministers: Judge only whether the brother preaches the truth, is of the right spirit, is adapted to the people, aims at winning souls, possesses an unction from on high, and labors to glorify his Master. If these things be in him and abound he will not be barren or unfruitful.

You say what is unction?
Spurgeon said this:
What is unction, my brethren? I fear that no one can help me by a definition. Who can define it? But yet we know where it is, and we certainly feel where it is not. When that unction perfumes the Word, it is its own interpreter, it is its own apologist, it is it own confirmation and proof, to the regenerate mind. Then the Word of God deals with us as no word of man ever did or could. We have not received it, therefore, of men. Constantly receiving the divine Word as we do, it comes to us with an energy ever fresh and forcible. It comes to us especially with a sanctifying power, which is the very best proof of its coming from the thrice-holy God. Philosophers words may teach us what holiness is, but God's Word makes us holy. We hear our brethren exhort us to aspire to high degrees of grace, but God's Word lifts us up to them. The Word is not merely an instrument of good, but the Holy Spirit makes it an active energy within the soul to purge the heart from the sin, so that it can be said, Ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you. When thus cleansed, you know that the Word is true. You are sure of it, and you no longer need even the most powerful book of evidences. You have the witness in yourself, the evidence of things not seen, the seal of eternal verity.

Preacher do you know of this 'power', this 'enabling' which isn't natural to you? Can you not stand amazed that God has so quickened your senses, emotions and mind that you feel incredibly empowered as you preach? Preacher has anyone ever commented on the way the Spirit grips them when you preach? Preacher have you not seen when God has so grabbed the attention of your hearers, the fixing of their eyes that leads you to expect them to yell out 'what must i do to be saved?'
There's hope for a preacher who lacks theology, there's hope for a preacher who lacks discipline, there is hope for a preacher who lacks schooling, but there is no hope for the preacher who lacks the Spirit's enable-ment.
Worthless are the 'gift' tests that men have devised to see where men should be called. No my friend, the tests are found in the word and as regards to the MINISTRY it is not dependant upon the natural abilities of man. Of course this is the ignorance of the day, we see a wicked musician get saved and everyone tells him that he should now become a 'Christian' artist, a wicked actor should become a "Christian" actor, and a leader who got flying colors in speech class should become a 'Christian' speaker (Minister). NOT IN YOUR LIFE!
Ministers are GIFTS to the church, because of what God has chosen to do through a man.
Good preaching is supernatural: The preacher has been called to 'equip', to 'warn', to 'guard' and to lead the people of God. This call is from God, and the reason we are called to give such honor to preachers is not because they are worth more or have greater importance but certainly because they have a higher calling. Higher? Yes! They are qualified by high requirements, and they have a higher responsibility, higher burdens and higher influence. Though they are but men, their 'office' demands reverence. If a preacher preaches TRUTH then you and I are accountable to that truth as though God were speaking, in this way the preacher is a PROPHET!

Unction then might be what you call that distinguishing element, that 'something different' about the effect of some men's words. It is Holy Spirit power, it's reality, it's the Holy Spirits testimony that 'this one has been sent'. Even among the prophets of the Old Testament the majority if not all were regarded as true prophets initially, until of course they spoke things that the people or leaders did not want to hear and then they were rejected (only because the truth cut so deep)!
Yes there are degrees, there are those who have received more and others more for a time, but something of the reality of power must attend your preaching if God has called you.
Unlike the callings of the world, this unction can not be learned. You can go to school, get a doctorates in medicine and you are qualified to practise medicine, likewise an engineer or teacher etc.. Not so with preaching, the best schools in the world can't make you an effective preacher, they can't cause you to be a preacher. I suppose more than anything needed in Seminaries today would be a MAJOR elimination process, where each man is examined as to whether there is ANY evidence that he has been called to the ministry. Without the empowering of the Spirit it's no wonder that so many use so many gimmicks, mega-church growth schemes, seeker-friendly pillow models, edgy rockstar preaching and the like.
Perhaps you notice this, perhaps you say to yourself 'there's something missing' what he says is true but there's just something missing, that something i would submit might very well be unction!

From an article i plan to post in it's entirety A.W. Pink said this:
It is often a long time before God's children are able to account for this. They blame themselves; they are exceedingly loath to say, "This message is not of God." They are afraid to act in the spiritual, as they do in the natural, and condemn and discard that which is worthless. While they feel a lack of power in the sermons they hear, or the articles they read, and while their souls steadily get dried up like a potsherd—they are slow to realize that this is the inevitable effect of the unctionless preaching they listen to, or the unctionless literature they read; and that such dryness and leanness of soul is inevitable—by their association with unhumbled and empty professors. But in due time God opens their eyes, and they see through the flimsy veil and discover that both the sermons they hear, and the literature they read—are only the product of a dead profession!
Ah, it is a great thing when once the Holy Spirit teaches a soul—that it is power which is lacking from the lifeless preaching and lifeless articles of dead professors. It is power which the renewed soul seeks—a message which has power to search his conscience, to pierce him to the quick, to write it upon his heart; a message which has power to bring him to his knees in broken-hearted confession to God; a message which has power to make him feel that he is "vile"; a message which has power to drive him to Christ, for the binding up of his wounds, for Him to pour in "oil and wine," and send him on his way rejoicing. Yes, what the renewed soul longs for (though at first he knows it not) is that Divine message which comes to him "not simply with words—but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction!" (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Do i realize that some may be discouraged by such things? Yes but that doesn't mean that it's fruitless, I hope not to discourage any true minister yet i wouldn't at all be bothered but rather pleased if someone who isn't called to the ministry would step down. Preacher if you are sent of God I wouldn't be so ignorant to suggest that you will 'feel' God's enablement every single time and that every single time you preach something spectacular happens, but you WILL know something of what i have said; and though it may be weak like a believers assurance, we should seek after a stronger sense and reality of it, while praying for MORE!
I'd suspect that a proper examination would only humble a preacher if he did get discouraged and that humbling might very well be the best thing he needs (to be shattered). Yet God in His grace would strengthen that Preacher and send him out once again! I'm saying this with this thought in mind:
Martyn Lloyd-Jones said this in Preaching and Preachers:
It was Mr. Spurgeon, I believe, who used to say to young men--'If you can do anything else do it. If you can stay out of the ministry, stay out of the ministry.' I would certainly say that without hesistation whatsoever. I would say that the only man who is called to preach is the man who cannot do anything else, in the sense that he is not satisfied with anything else. This call to preach is so put upon him, and such pressure comes to bear upon him that he says, 'I can do nothing else, I must preach."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why worry, He cares and Spurgeon

We desperately need at this time some old fashioned faith preaching! I don't mean the wild-eyed fanatical stuff you might find on TBN or in a tent 'revival'. Just plain 'normal', no need to fret because God is in control.
The amount of doubt that is arising in some churches seems incredible, to overhear Christians constantly talking about 'the cares of this world' over and often instead of Christ, His church, and His work!
The only thing that should truly stir us is the glory of God; The glory of God as it relates to the church, the glory of God in the salvation of the lost, and the glory of God as represented in our lives! Our personal and corporate prayers should be filled (predominately) with such things.
Let us not stand upon the word of man as the word of God, nor be as moved by the words of man as we are by the word of God. The words of Doctors, Scientists, Meteorologists, Economists, or the Politicians, SHOULD NOT bring us (even remotely) as much comfort or distress as the word of God and what is taking place within the kingdom of God.
We may have to endure a life of suffering, although many in America are suffering from a life of indulgence and anything that even rocks that sheltered pampered world is called 'suffering'. Some are truly indeed facing some MAJOR issues, life threatening diagnosis, loss of home (which to a poor man means when they take my home I'll actually be homeless--while many mean: I'll just not have that big of a house anymore).
As pertains to the sin of COMPLAINING and STRESS over much, a remedy for most people is a simple flashback. Consider how it used to be, or consider what you were satisfied with before (perhaps what you now think 'necessary', you once thought 'luxury'). Another one is to consider people who are suffering even greater things, who never had such things. Still another would be some 'reality-checks', are you in any way implying that God owes you something with your attitude? Are you praying or demanding? Have you been absorbed in self (regardless of what you might be suffering)?

Here is a piece from Spurgeon that sparked this post:

"Casting all your care upon Him--for He cares for you!" 1 Peter 5:7
It is a happy way of soothing sorrow, when we can feel--"HE cares for ME!" Christian! do not dishonor God, by always wearing a brow of worry! Come--cast your burden upon your God! You are staggering beneath a weight--which your Father would not feel. What seems like a crushing burden to you--would be but as small dust to Him. Nothing is so sweet as to,"Lie passive in God's hands, And know no will, but His." O child of suffering--be patient! God has not overlooked you in His providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows--will also furnish you with what you need. Do not sit down in despair.There is One who cares for you! His all-seeing eye is fixed on you! His all-loving heart beats with pity for your woe! His omnipotent hand 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 light.If you are one of His family--He will bind up your wounds, and heal your broken heart. Do not doubt His grace, because of your troubles--but believe that He loves you as much in seasons of distress--as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might you lead--if you would leave providing--to the God of providence!If God cares for you--why need you care also? 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! Be done with fretful worry--and leave all your concerns in the hand of your gracious God!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What a hope we have

Titus 2 11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

The hope we have is the promised appearing of Jesus Christ our Lord. The day in which His power is revealed to the nations, His splendor is unveiled for us, the day we may completely behold Him!
This hope is also called our rest, which entails our final present victory over all that we battle constantly; indwelling sin, satan, and the world! It's a day where all will finally be able to 'throw the guns down', 'take off the gloves', the fight, the battle will finally be over for us. This fight, this battle is FOREIGN to the world, it's FOREIGN to the hypocrite who's only concern is what man can see. The hypocrite fights against his conscious and the views of others yet he has no real battle against indwelling sin. He doesn't resist the heart of sin, he's only concerned to cut off 'visible' weeds. Yet the child of God is concerned with what no one else can see, His heart towards God can't give him peace as long as there is sin to wrestle. He hates his pride, he hates any delight in lust, he hates his loose tongue, he hates wandering mind, he hates his failures and so on! Yet praise God he's not crushed, he's not forsaken because he knows Christ is working with in him. He knows Christ is praying for him, now it would be cool if Paul Washer, John Piper, John Macarthur and Conrad Mbewe called me and said 'hey brother, you are in my prayers' i'd certainly be touched but that would in time fade....BUT to know MY REDEEMER is interceding for me is quite another thing.
What about our failures? When were we first exposed to Christ as an intercessor for men? When He told Peter that He was praying for him. This was the time when Peter was thinking, that his strength, his zeal, his devotion was due to his choices. Peter at this time was quite Arminian, and pretty much told Christ 'keep your prayers, pray for someone else... they might fall but not me because I've made up my mind that if it takes death, nothing to it I'm game!'
What grace Christ displayed towards Peter, to suffer such betrayal on the worst possible day of all eternity. What love that though Christ knew this, He forgave Peter beforehand! Yet Peter being a true believer was CRUSHED, and another thing that needs to be pointed out is that this abounding grace, this forgiving love did not cause Peter to grow slack (when grace is treated as license then grace was never received).
It's disappointing and encouraging to learn of older saints (and I mean more than just gray hair) holy and faithful men of God; to learn that they still battle and some testify that the battle grows in intensity against sin and temptation. It's disappointing because you hope to be through with such things as you progress in years and you often thought some things would never return but traces have. It's encouraging because you understand that these temptations are common to man and though they seem overwhelming they don't have to crush you, the intensity doesn't mean that we'll one day fall under it, but only reveals time and time again God's mercy in our time of need. Our hope then is not in a stage in life, graduation, marriage, birth, ordination, retirement or any such thing but our hope is one which WILL NOT disappoint, a hope to be with Jesus, a hope to see Him, a hope to be free from distractions, a hope that will need no repentance, a hope that will be free from cares, Glory to God we will one day be GLORIFIED!

---This of course throws out the silly notion that "God made man in order to see if we would love Him, because it isn't love unless we can chose not to..." Well heaven throws that ridiculous theory out, because in heaven we won't be ABLE to sin, we sure won't 'have a part' in making ourselves glorified (perfected)!

I praise God that it's Him working in me, because without that I'd have nothing to keep me going. The more we understand about grace, the more we cherish it, the more we cherish it the more we seek it, the more we seek it the more we find it. It's certainly the testimony of men that are known for their holiness, that their holiness is imparted and only reveals to them how unholy they really are apart from the working of God. Yet He chose me and even more incredible he chose YOU :) !

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

boys to men? pt 1

What a day we live in, i briefly saw something declaring that marriage is being put off longer.
Of course we all see this, too many Christians are getting married too late and having children even later. It's more than obvious that there is a great lack of MEN in the church today, sure there are plenty of adult males, but many of them have never achieved or prepared for manhood!

An ungodly mindset has infiltrated the church, one that has a low view of marriage and children. Too many within the church don't have much difference on their thoughts concerning marriage then the world does. Sure they believe it's inevitable, sure you need it so you can have sinless intercourse and so you don't die lonely but for many it seems to stop there. Still to many, it's plan b (plan a standing for a-musement), isn't life first about having 'fun'?

Overexposure to the media and the adoption of worldly phrases by older saints can surely be added to the list of influences. The media that paints marriage as drudgery and joy-killing, phrases that add to this 'enjoy life while you're young', 'well all that stops when you have kids', 'don't rush...' and so on. On the other hand not enough positive phrases and enough emphasis within the church that includes couples and families.

Having many small children, i can almost predict the comments that most people make. A top comment is usually 'if you think it's wild now, wait until they're all in sports and you're driving them all around' umm I DON'T think so. Sorry our idea of parenting isn't 'quality-time' spent in a van on the way to sports events and ceremonies (although a great way to lose more precious time with them). The message: Marriage with kids is about strain, stress, and constant activity.

Let me not forget also youth groups, which isolate boys from men. There is nothing more healthier then for young boys to be around older men in the faith. Without that, it's very unlikely they'll be challenged to pursue manhood, to think much of commitment and hard work or to even think soberly. Young people and especially immature people can be categorized as constant joksters (clowns) -nothing is serious hence nothing will be too sacred hence nothing really matters!

Even at the True-church conference there were two types of young adults there (as there are in any church); those that appeared to have a level of maturity, honor for older men, seriousness about preparing NOW etc, and then there were those who still acted like they were freshmen in high school, giggly jesters who weren't too talkative unless you mentioned movies, music groups or video games!

The biblical pattern is without a doubt 'the older teaching the younger'. Consider Solomon writing Proverbs for young men, which is filled with warnings, challenges and encouragements. This should serve as a model for what the older should teach the younger (women too!). The older should warn the younger of the pitfalls of life, of what is valuable and what is vain. What is honorable and what is shameful. They need to be encouraged to REJECT the mindsets of this world, to value diligence, integrity, faithfulness, work, commitment, humility, simplicity, holiness etc...

mixed blessings-sickness and birth

What a week!
My two year old (the other twin) Judah, had a rapid fever which brought on a seizure Weds night just after we finished dinner and were about to begin our devotions. He's pretty much the only 'calm' child so i didn't even notice that he wasn't just laying still but was having a seizure. My wife noticed it and knew what it was, we called 911 and she spoke to them while I was praying with Judah. The ambulance took him to the hospital and my dear wife went (who would be giving birth two days later). Naturally this was scary and emotional-- yet not overwhelming thanks to the grace of God. About a hr or so later we finally had our devotions and i put the children to bed, yet to my joy (which wasn't on my mind), my wife also went through our devotions with Judah while they were at the hospital (chapter in Exodus, some songs and prayer), i just love her and God in her!

It was certainly all in His hands, well several hrs later everything was fine and i picked up Judah and my wife about 1am. I guess that can happen to a small child when fever comes on to fast, of course all the medical knowledge in the world doesn't mean anything to me, it's not something I'd find any comfort in. Yet i now a great Physician and a even greater Father who does what is best. Even in that brief trial God was doing something, praise be to Him!

My sixth boy was born on Fri @ 9pm -Ezra Daniel. The pain killer (reliever) was pretty much all gone by the time the pushing was to begin, she chose NOT to get the epidural shot (which she has only had once before) and when i asked why? She remarked that she'd rather feel like 'we' were doing it together. Lovely indeed but certainly nothing any guy would chose to go through. It's nice to hear the Dr and nurses to speak of how amazingly different of a birth this was. Only by the grace of God! The only audible words during the delivery were "is he out yet?" and "Jesus" of course we had some soft worship music in the background. I couldn't get the digital photo frame to work properly so i (at my wife's request) put a slide show (of the family) on my laptop with worship music (on while she was at the hospital)

It's beautiful to look back at what the Lord has done and to think of how greatly He has changed you. I with two other siblings only desired the large American family of three and my wife with two other siblings NEVER wanted to have children! Yet for both of us, shortly after conversion we were BIBLICALLY convinced that children were a blessing. I sensing the call of God on my life even before conversion and also first being exposed to a faithfully diligent British Pastor who lived very modest, was by this convinced that God provides for His children even though they may suffer. Of course being exposed to church history, the persecuted church (worldwide), and first being among many poor inner-city churches only STRENGTHEN my faith in God's faithfulness. As a side note: I've noticed among churches that are more suburban and financially better off more complaints and stress as opposed to some poor inner-city churches where i was exposed to frequent testimonies and calls to 'trust God'. Hmm that's something to write on later....... (The majority of America doesn't even grasp or ever will have to grasp what a real economic crisis is)
Ok now back to the subject at hand.

Truly the Lord has blessed our paths and strengthened our faith. I bless the Lord for such a family and truly i don't deserve it. Here we are now reformed in our theology, yet so much was already there which now is just clearer and laid out with a firmer foundation.

It's sad to think of all the camps and extremes that abound in America, yet we miss so much because we are constantly overreacting to these extremes and missing out on what the scriptures speak on.

Imagine me and my wife coming to convictions about homeschooling and allowing God to 'open' or 'close' her womb based upon scripture and not something we were exposed to. I mean this was early on in our Christian walk, while we were in a Pentecostal church and very Arminian ( i was certainly anti-Calvinist until i found out all the preachers i really liked were). We used to believe a whole lot in the 'ability' of man and the 'choices' of man, of course including the possibility of losing one's salvation and even with that, in our daily decisions we seemed to have more of a living trust in the Sovereignty of God then most five-pointers i know now. No legalism, no special groups, no life changing conference, just plain old simple faith that read the scriptures and believed it! You tell something like this to people today and they think 'so you're part of this.....' 'well you have to beware of this.......' doesn't anyone search the scriptures anymore, put away all your useless experiences about groups.
As our marriage started out, i pray it will end even firmer and that all to the glory of God! If it brings greater glory to His name to crush us then so be it, what else really matters. What joy is there in comfort if we aren't conformed to Him and aren't living testimonies?
These are the times that only remind me how crucial and how much more important is the 'godly character' of my children. I'd rather have them crippled and holy, then All-star athletes who later become Neurosurgeons! My only joy and my only peace regarding them, will be genuine evidence of 'life' in Christ and a pursuit of His glory!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What a Love, God is

Isn't it amazing that Christ is so glorious, so immaculate, so excellent, so beautiful that He covers such wicked creatures as us?! That to be hid in Christ, is to be continually in the favor of God, to receive CONSTANT love from the Father.
As the Father loves Christ, so He loves us? This is absolutely beyond understanding. I really think what Paul Washer says on this is quite profound (not sure if he's quoting someone else). "the hardest thing you will ever have to believe is that the Father loves you as much as He says He does" to see our failings, our continual sin and rebellion in light of God's absolute HATRED of sin, His very character opposing it and to see that in spite of all that, His love is set upon us everlastingly.
The father delights in our love towards Him, He in fact causes our love to Him. Our love is only the response of His love. A pitiful comparison is constantly before me; and that's the absolute delight i have in my children's love towards me. I can say without a doubt that I have all their hearts and it's wonderful. They want me to see them, they can't wait until I come home, they are excited to even go to the grocery store with me, they're MY boys!
Yet think, how MUCH more God delights in our praises of Him, in our pursuits of Him, in our longings of Him-- this is why religious ruts are so detrimental because they strip the very heart out of our relationship with God. It's not the routines that need to go, it's the dryness, the mechanical 'just going through the motions' ruts that need to go. We all need to just delight ourselves in our great and glorious God!
Let us pray until we really pray, let us be less concerned with who hears us and more thoughtful of our great and glorious Savior. Let us also in our quest to read through the scriptures, seek to read until the very words ignite our hearts, read with expectation of God moving you to the very core. It's an intimate thing for someone to open their heart to another and this is exactly what God has done through His word; more precisely through the work of Spirit as it reveals the word to us.
Enjoy Him today!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Heart after God

I have the great privilege of reading over the life of David at present. Surely he's one of my favorites; so much that can be learned and forewarned of.
I suppose it's needful to point out that we need to always keep in mind that what we read is ALL that we need to KNOW, that those thing were written for our example, and that there is much we can learn from the successes and failures of biblical men and women. With that in mind let us not miss where we should be looking for comfort or comparison, also keeping in mind that we who have a fuller new testament Holy Spirit indwelt and empowered conversion won't fall into the same pitfalls.
It's David's repentance that stands out among others, and his humble acknowledgment of God's sovereignty (not willing to kill Saul), also his passionate pursuit of God (one thing i desire... my soul pants...)!
If the choice was given to you, would you rather have a heart like David or a mind like Solomon? I suppose that's something you have already have answered in your actions. The proper answer is to desire to have a 'heart after God', of course if this was a popular blog then a bunch of cold Calvinist blog junkies would attempt to point out that you first need theology and so on. A man who is chiefly concerned with pursuing God's heart WILL be concerned with knowing more of Him, yet we HAVE to admit that there are many that without such 'precise' knowledge that ARE walking with the Lord and honoring Him in their lives while on the otherhand it can't be refuted that there are many who have knowledge but bring no GLORY to God. Sensitivity towards the heart of God is VITAL to maturity in Christ, let me find a believer who walks in the simple faith of 'Lord here am i send me or what must I do or examine me and reveal any wicked way in me' and i'll show you a believer with MUCH fruit!
"The glory of God" say it till your blue in the face, but without being primarily concerned with nurturing an INTIMATE relationship with Christ this will NOT take place. Often to have more intimacy there must be deeper commitment and greater sacrifice. We must welcome despite the over-used fad, the daily questioning of WWJD? There's just no simpler way of defining the Christian life, this above should answer most questions about holiness, of course this with the understanding that our motivation is to be closer to the heart of God. It's not a matter of detached rule-keeping but a matter of no longer wanting to live for ourselves but for Him who bought us; a love fueled obedience! It's a "Lord does this please you or Lord does this grieve you?" lifestyle, do you remember those days when you walked by such faith and heart devotion?
What a wonder that we need to have such reminders, we in our 'maturity' make it so complicated and are much too quick to walk in weak faith.
David was a man convinced of God's mercy, he ALWAYS appealed to God's mercy; which illustrates David's humility in knowing that he could earn NOTHING! We must appeal to the MERCY of God in our pursuit of Him. We must plead for the MERCY of deeper intimacy with Him. CHURCH! Listen UP: If you EVER expect any lasting blessing from God then you MUST plead for mercy, a church that doesn't pray much is a church that is walking in pragmatism; call it expository preaching, call it reformed theology, call it family-integrated, call it 9marks, call it what you may but without passionate pleadings before God for conversions and for growth in grace then it's all reliance on the abilities of men, it's a white-washed tomb!
I just love the example of David worshipping after he brought back the ark into the city. Here we see David giving constant sacrifices and worshipping with an unheard of intensity. The BEST worship ALWAYS springs forth from a greater revelation of God, and usually God reveals more of Himself in our brokenness. David first had great intentions to bring back the ark, but David didn't feel like it was necessary to do it God's way. David was too casual in handling of God, David wasn't too concerned with 'how it should be done' but was only thinking of getting it done! Well one man had to pay dearly for this when the ark slipped off the cart and he thought he could just touch the 'presence' of God. Well this Uzzah died instantly and when David realizes his plan wasn't working, he got frustrated (which is the typical response of pride-filled plans gone wrong). You don't do this right? No way would you get mad when things don't work out or you don't see any fruit? Have you ever asked 'am i/we doing something wrong?'
The scriptures declare that David 'feared the Lord..' because of this judgment, which at first David allows that fear to cause him to do nothing. Which now to think of it, might have been the right thing to do, if it's in the sense of not wanting to move forward without the blessing of the Lord. Yet I'm thinking that wasn't the case since David wasn't ignorant of the prescribed 'how' of handling the ark.
Yet praise God, David repents! (if you had to give a title to the life of David it should read; David, the repenter!) David recognizes he was in the wrong, it was his fault that things went the way they did, it was his LACK of fear towards the Lord that made him carelessly handle the ark of God. David was a man who was broken by God, the Lord often wounded the heart of David with deep remorse; which is why David has such intense worship in his obedience. At this time, Davids' obedience is the fruit of his God given repentance!
May we too seek the mercy of God, that He would break us and cause us to walk in fuller worship to Him!

Call sin, SIN

Call sin, SIN?!
Well you know we as mortals have this tendency to cover things very nicely, to use words to such an effect that they become excuses. More importantly whether it's in preaching, fellowship or witnessing we need to call sin, sin. It's too easy for a preacher to attempt to apply a particular passage without pointing out possible roots of sin causing some sort of defect. Take a sermon attempting to give peace to it's hearers about not being stressed about what's going on in the world but failing to point out that the primary reason may be the sin of unbelief, or the sin of not submitting to God's Sovereignty, or the sin of complaining etc... Likewise if you were to speak on stewardship, especially concerning finances, or lack of support for missions, or undue strain of both parents working (with overtime) and FAIL to speak on the sin of materialism, idolatry, and greed or the sin of the fear of man (wanting to keep up with the times). On the flipside not bringing in the wonderful expectation of glorification, the joy of eternity with Christ is equally ridiculous-- THIS is legalism, you'll leave people not being able to recognize the PROBLEM nor understanding the PROMISE and only left with what 'should' be, hence they will attempt to do so in their own strength!
We must call sin, SIN!
This is also needful when speaking to the lost, don't be general, get specific; especially if you know them. Getting away from using words like 'tendencies', 'bad habits', 'mistakes', 'problems' otherwise we fall into the psychological trap of making people feel like victims and not rebels.

Never let a man think he 'just' has that 'one' problem that needs fixin. No you have more than a drinking problem, your heart is CORRUPT and can't be mended. You NEED A MIRACLE, if God doesn't change you (your heart=will) then nothing good can be done. In fact it's not that God sees some good in your bad, but even in your so called 'good' there is wickedness!
While in fellowship, specifically when confessing to another or apologizing; let's stay FAR away from using cover-ups for our sins, in our your faults, expose the sins-otherwise how will you be free from them?
Sorry about being a 'little emotional' (you mean self-centered, having a pride filled pity-party, choosing to escape blame by playing the victim)
Sorry about being 'grumpy, edgy or moody,' (you mean hateful, jealous, wanting you to disappear, not caring about your problem)
Sorry about being a little too honest, getting carried away, joking too much, (you mean mean-spirited, speaking death, condemning, deceitfully covering up my pride and lust, exalting myself above others, wanting to get back at you through my jokes)
AND ALL THE other things you, we do to cover our wickedness and which leaves us no better nor does it leave others helped or affected.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fight to Pray

Pray! Pray till you pray!

Let us first agree that prayer is a means of grace, that this grace is available to ALL believers. The Puritans used to call these 'means' duties, which sounds odd to us because we modern people aren't typically used to valuing 'duty'. We are a little too concerned with having the right words then we are with having the right attitude. Prayer is a great OPPORTUNITY that God welcomes us into, He draws us into.

As a baby Christian I remember putting this quote from Jonathan Edwards on a picture i framed:

Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life; and to say a man lives a life of faith, and yet lives a prayerless life, is every whit as inconsistent and incredible, as to say, that a man lives without breathing. A prayerless life is so far from being an holy life, that it is a profane life. He that lives so, lives like an heathen, who calleth not on God's name; he that lives a prayerless life, lives without God in the world.

Let us remember that faith means 'to trust', or to entrust ourselves to God: which is why prayer is 'natural' then, because it recognizes that God alone is our provider, is our counselor, is our deliverer, and is our treasure! Prayer then must flow from our humility, our constant AWARENESS of our dependence upon God. I believe that without a doubt God will use things to cause us to depend on Him MORE as we grow. The biblical formula for growth is 'more dependence', for the good within us is only God within us and the minute we begin to forget that, we will find ourselves struggling once again. I like something Ray Comfort said about 'great' faith:

Someone once said to me, "Ray, you're a man of great faith in God," thinking that they were paying me a compliment. They weren't. If I said to you, "I'm a man of great faith in my doctor? It's to the doctor. If I have great faith in him, it means that I see him as being a man of integrity, a man of great ability—that he is trustworthy. I give “glory” to the man through my faith in him. The Bible says that Abraham "staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able to also perform" (Romans 4:20-21). Abraham was a man of great faith in God. Remember, that is not a compliment to Abraham. He merely caught a glimpse of God's incredible ability, His impeccable integrity, and His wonderful faithfulness to keep every promise He makes. His faith gave “glory” to a faithful God.

Prayer is a mighty foundation that points to One as the source of all success, it leaves no room for boasting (if a man can boast in prayer then he's not praying to God, Mt 6). I was about to say unlike preaching, but that's not true: too bad there are too many eloquent preachers, that deliver masterpieces that draw much credit to themselves---Bless God preacher and preach with an over-arching desire to CONVINCE men (in otherwords, SWEAT! CRY! preach like you believe it!).

The Christian who prays much (and biblically motivated) is one who knows their own weakness, knows their need, fears indwelling sin, knows they are powerless to bear fruit by themselves, and knows the closest they will ever get to heaven is on their KNEES. Prayerlessness is the mark of pride, it's the mark of self-sufficiency, if you understanding of God's Sovereignty doesn't lead you to pray more, then you desperately need to re-learn His ways! For God has never said anything to lead His children into a state of satisfaction with little, God in no wise encourages laziness, on the contrary He comes to constantly humble us. Consider what He does to those who ARE growing:

John 15:2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

God is constantly nurturing your conscious need of Him, He disciplines those He loves, His love produces a fear that causes us to hide in Him! Here's a fiery quote from Leonard Ravenhill (and of course there's much lacking in his theology, yet he was a man of God)
"No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shop window to display one's talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off. Poverty-stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere. The two prerequisites to successful Christian living are vision and passion, both of which are born in and maintained by prayer. The ministry of preaching is open to few; the ministry of prayer-the highest ministry of all human offices-is open to all. Spiritual adolescents say, "I'll not go tonight, it's only the prayer meeting." It may be that Satan has little cause to fear most preaching. Yet past experiences sting him to rally all his infernal army to fight against God's people praying.
Man looks at the appearance, God looks at the heart: God alone sees us in the closet, God alone knows our desires and yet don't we feel crippled in this area. Without unnecessary condemnation, you must grasp that in your prayerlessness you are walking in disobedience- you are missing the point of Christ redeeming you. How's your prayer life? Have you wrestled with God lately? Don't confuse walking in grace and a confidence in God working all things out, with apathetic pride; Once again YOU don't pray because YOU aren't walking in HUMILITY!
Yes i am speaking to me as well, I can well recall my downslides, i can well recall the times I'm amazed at God keeping me from temptations even though i haven't given much effort to seeking grace (relief and deliverance) from God (perhaps you feel the prayers of others covering you), but what usually happens is a quick fall; because you begin to get comfortable in the thought that God is working in spite of you. If you would disagree, i would challenge you by saying that you wouldn't disagree in other areas. What would you say of a parent who trusts God so much that he/she doesn't buy food (because they had a week full of people inviting them over to eat)? or a Preacher who justifies his 'heretical or harmful' methodology by saying 'but it WORKS!'. Likewise prayer (as well as all the other spiritual disciplines) are the HOW's of God's sovereignty.
How in need we are of being aware of our weaknesses, which is not something we talk much of these days; we are consumed with not going to far in anything that would make someone uncomfortable. We've been trained to hate all discomfort and call any 'conviction', condemnation. Oh how we need to be set free from such strongholds, we need such a desire for holiness that we would welcome pain, trials, and discomfort.
In otherwords we need such a pursuit of God that we would scale any obstacle to get CLOSER to Him! Charles Spurgeon had this to say:
Communion with Christ is the happiest life. If you gained all the world and did not lose your soul but only lost the light of Christ's countenance for a few days, you would have made a poor bargain. There is Heaven in every glance of His eye!There is infinite joy in every word of His mouth when He speaks comfortably to His servants. Do not go away from Him. Abide in Christ and let His Words abide in you. Closer, closer, closer- this is the way to spiritual wealth! To follow afar off and live at a distance from Christ, even if it does not make your soul perish, yet it will wither up your joys and make you feel an unhappy man, an unhappy woman.
Allow me to suggest this, preacher, parent, student, child, and all others; If you cut your labors in half and prayed more, you would be more fruitful! If only you read less and prayed more you'd be more fruitful! If only you'd talked less with men and prayed (speaking with God) more you'd find more fulfilling fellowship! If only you spent less time in relaxation and recreation and prayed more you'd find more (and Lasting) REST and JOY! As i write this I'm thinking 'yes if only I, spent more time with my father, if only i would delight more in Him, if only I was smaller in my own eyes THEN I would pray MORE' I hope you too are being challenged. Not given 'food for thought', i remember saying something about much prayer being preaching to a brother and they made some comment along the lines of 'I'll give some thought to that' that's ridiculous, IMAGINE: we have people who'd reply to something like this, with "Hmm more prayer?, I'll have to pray about that..".
Repent of your prayerlessness, repent of your inconsistency, repent of your pride, repent of your excuses and MAY the Lord cause us to FIGHT against this wicked flesh that revolts against a life of prayer; may the Lord refresh us with overflowing worship that longs to be in His presence, and may the Lord convince us that a dying world is in need of Christ, His working, His word, and not our busyness, not our creativity, and certainly not our abilities!

Don't like Paul Washer?

A friend of mine recently had the idea of making copies of Paul Washer sermons to pass out: which he first heard that Pastor Jono Sims did (referred to at the true church conference). This friend also mentioned the cautious expressions he received from several pastors at the mention of Paul Washer. It seems that this preacher is one who has been blessed to fall under the 'either you love him or you hate him' category.

I also met two young brothers from a SBC seminary who were frustrated with all the contextualization being emphasized in their school. The president of the school actually likes Paul Washer but it seems clear that he wouldn't be invited to come and speak. Yet they would have such a shock-jock as Mark Driscoll come and make an impression upon up and coming preachers?!

I've come to two conclusions from this and i anticipate these conclusions offending some, but i see it as absolutely necessary and fruitful. If you don't like such a preacher as Paul Washer (i wouldn't limit this to one, but he's a good example) it's because you haven't listened much from him or you are a hypocrite!

How can i say such a thing? I say this because of all the talk of revival, i say this because of all the references to such as Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards, even Tozer and Ravenhill.

These men who were mightily used of God were by NO means tame and dignified, they were liable to explode with passion, to explode with pleadings, to explode with warnings, to explode with rebukes, and to explode with edification! I just can't stomach all the so-called respect to these men, when it's absolutely clear that if these men were alive today they wouldn't be allowed in the majority of pulpits! They wouldn't have been invited to the big conferences either, because they were more concerned with the glory of God, more concerned with the souls of men, than with feelings, popularity, and position!
Would you have been among those who LOCKED your doors (or your ears) to these men God was using in revival times? The answer has much to do with who would you like to invite into your church now.
I just can't stomach the attitude that prevails among leaders today, like i mentioned previously the people who are invited to speak at 'good' seminaries seem to always fit into the same category: successful and popular! Often men who can give in detail their 'strategy', their 'vision', their 'approach' and it's going to produce many just like them who will most likely become consumed with depression because they can't imagine fruit without numbers.
It's this attitude that I'm addressing, this attitude that can talk about uncompromisingly bold preaching but won't do that nor invite such preachers to your church. Throw away all those biographies and reports of revivals, throw away all those quotes from fireball preachers like Knox, like Mcheyne, like Bunyan and many more who would preach with such accuracy as they dug deeper and deeper to prick the consciouses of their hearers. The times are no different, unless you want to say that it's EVEN more needful today, for today is a day of cheap grace; a day of remarkable compromise, and of weak preaching!
I was able to speak to Paul Washer again at the true church conference and among the different topics, he made mention of how he was filling in for a church without a pastor; and that he was receiving comments of how he had changed in his preaching and so on. This because he was among hungry sheep without a shepherd who desired the pure milk of the word and was feeding them carefully. I would also like to tie this thought in with something I heard from Mark Dever, that a lot of his interns are shocked at some of the 'intimate and comforting' sermons of Jonathan Edwards because they assumed all his sermons were like 'sinners in the hand of an angry God'.
Now, that DOESN'T make any sense whatsoever, unless you know little of true preaching! I on the other hand WOULD assume that a fiery preacher could also overflow with deep love and nurture towards the flock of God. WHY? Because their is a time for everything, there is a time to build and a time to tear down. Sometimes the word will come as living water and sometimes as a hammer. There's NO SUCH THING as a TYPE of preacher, if a preacher can't "warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone" and "correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction" then he is NOT called to preach.
Christian leave your opinions to yourself, desire to be faithful to preach the whole truth, God's way.
Eggshell Christianity is what we have today, we have Christians that are masters in avoiding any and all rebuke. This of course has much to do with the incredible lack of church discipline performed in most churches. I've been in some churches for years and never seen any discipline: NEWSFLASH that's NOT good, that's inconsistent with biblical and historical church life!
Paul Washer's wife Charo made the comment before about how 'thin-skinned American Christians are' (and not in reference to her husband), is this true? Experience should reveal that it is, also the testimonies of the past and other countries often leave us thinking 'wow, that was really bold'. Isn't this why most of us absolutely love men like Tozer who have innumerable examples of 'in your face' rebukes. Now is it that you appreciate godly boldness (springing from true love and from a desire for God to be glorified) or is it a secret man-worship because you WON'T do the same and look at such a man with envy? hmm!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A quote from Spurgeon

I thought that i would share this, being quite lazy lately on my blog posts-(not that I out of thoughts)
I thought this quote in particular was quite useful:

From a sermon titled: Is it nothing to you? by C.H. Spurgeon

Look at this house to-night, this spectacle, this gathered throng! Into what corner could another hearer be thrust? One would think from the vehement eagerness to enter that we gave some gorgeous entertainment. Come here any night in all the year, or any morning if you like, and still it is the same. Well, why come the people? To see a man in fine raiment? We wear no millinery. To listen to sweet strains of music and the swell of organs? We have none of it. What come
they for? To hear an orator? Far from it. I have never aimed at oratory, or desired to exhibit it. I have preached Christ out of my very soul, and lifted him up as the Savior of men, and therefore the people throng the house, and they always will while Christ is fully preached in language which they can understand. Men need a Savior as hungry men need bread, and as thirsty souls need drink, and they know where that is preached which they require. Go, tell the men that preach the new doctrine that they cannot stir a tiny village with their fine theories, after they have preached them once or twice; and yet for twenty-seven years together we can hold a multitude with no magic but the name of Christ, with no mystery but the cross, the blood, and the one word — “Believe in Christ and live.” Therefore preach I the old, old gospel yet again, harping for ever on that one divine string, which hath yet more music in it than all the flutes, harps, sackbuts, psalteries, and dulcimers of modern thought. If you would have sin forgiven, forgiveness is to be found in Jesus, and only there. “Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto his sorrow,” for no other sorrow can wipe away sin — not even the pangs of hell can effect expiation; but the sorrow of Christ can put your sins away. Oh, seek a share in the boundless merit of the Crucified. Turn not away, but seek your Savior’s face at once.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Anxious about nothing

Philippians 4:6-7
6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Believers in Christ are YOU anxious? What a puzzle that the children of Almighty God should have anything to worry about; allow me now to just throw out some things that have been on my mind today concerning this issue.
Let us first put aside all RARE medical exceptions--including the absurdity of using Spurgeon as an example of 'depression'---> very few men EVER had to suffer through what Spurgeon did, very few ministers ever received such opposition, very few were so alone on the stands he had to make, very few ministers had such an individual concern over each member of his massive flock, he had intense physical illness, his wife an invalid, etc etc (in other words he's NOT a good example of depression).
Anxious about what? About the future, your investments, your finances, your job, your home, your health, your children, your friends, your reputation, perhaps your eternity?
Well if you are IN CHRIST then you need NOT be anxious about anything. God is sovereignly working out everything- Joseph had this perspective when he revealed to his brothers (who sold him into slavery-which put his life in danger, which also put him in prison and stained his reputation) that the one second in command to Pharoah was he. check out the account:
GENESIS 45:4-8
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.
What an awesome example of "God working all things out", not God FIXING what happens, but CONTROLLING, ORDERING, PURPOSING all things according to His will!
Paul later says he learned how to be CONTENT in whatever circumstance he was put in, in whatever he had to go through, WHY?
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me
Paul is not saying 'throw this on your business cards, throw this on your graduation cards, throw this on whatever dream you have', NO NO NO the context is not about that!, The point is that regardless of what i might have to endure, i can go through ANYTHING, because Christ will give me strength.
In other words, Paul declares that with all that God ordains in our lives, in our nation, He has ALSO provided the power to go stand in it, the power to FLOURISH in Christ amidst any and all trials or blessings.
Paul (as a tool of God's mind) says that if you want to be free from anxiety then you MUST depend upon God CONSTANTLY and in ALL things- He says bring it all to God, surrender every thought to the Lord. Approach the throne of God with all your doubt and receive faith!
Paul even tells you to control what you think about in order to nurture such 'peace' within you, he tells you to think MUCH of the goodness of God, the faithfulness of God, the grace of God!
Yet let me ask this? IF you are anxious then you must also expose it's root, do you know it?
Could it be that you are anxious due to your greed? Due to your misunderstanding of what true blessings are? Are you looking for MONETARY blessings only and exclusively?
I Timothy 6:6-8 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
Do you believe this? Do you pursue godliness as your chief aim? Is this something you see as your greatest investment? Paul says 'Do you want contentment?, then you must pursue CONFORMITY to the image of Christ and if you keep that in view then you'll live in the light of the conviction that God is using every circumstance to shape you into that image, which is wonderful!' Why be so concerned about what won't last? Why be impressed with that which will fade? What security is there in what could be taken away in a moment? Seek rather to accumulate, to stack up, to store up treasures that will last. Live as though you were reflecting back over your life while upon your death bed, what would you be mourning over (certainly not wishing you worked a little more overtime, bought one more car, added one more addition to your house)?
Perhaps you are UNGRATEFUL, you might have a very LOW view of salvation. A view that doesn't lead you into daily worship of the wonderful grace of salvation. A view that makes you almost asking 'yeah, but what ELSE do i get?' You need to spend more time in the scriptures, you need then to consistently examine yourself and realize not only the grace of God that was displayed to who you used to be, but the awesome grace of God be displayed to what you are even now!
Perhaps you are prone to complain (of course you don't call it that), you murmur about this bill, about that paycheck, about taxes, about the house issues, about the checking account, about your stocks, about your job, about your sickness, about traffic and everything else in between.
In other words, you are prone to PRESENT a STINGY, MEDIOCRE God. You are sinning against the very character of God, you are bordering if not actually blaspheming the goodness of you Father. You are also ignoring what Christ went through- as my one friend Chris used to say 'look at Christ, you don't HAVE A RIGHT to be offended or complain'. How odd as well that those in such a prosperous nation could act as such spoiled brats and scream bloody murder at a prick in our finger. The need then is to REPENT. The remedy is to pray 'with thanksgiving', you unredeemed flesh needs constant KILLING and a wonderful way to do that is to call to mind frequently the many blessings of God. Make you worship (prayer) time, a time full of praise for specific blessings to you from the Lord, specific answers to prayer, specific deliverance's, specific reminders of His wonderful love towards us. Lastly beg the Lord to BRIDLE your tongue, to control your lips, be quick to listen and slow to speak. Chose those words wisely, keeping in mind this "what am i implying about MY good, wise, and powerful God with these words?".
Your anxiety could also be an attack upon the Sovereignty of God-to NOT be content with what God is doing, with the lot God has given you in life; might mean that you think (according to your wisdom) things should be different. "Deceitfulness of riches" ? what's that? It is the promises of security, of joy, of impact etc. Deceitful because the ONLY one who can provide these things as defined by God is God. He is NOT bound by such things, that's why He gives you a peace that 'surpasses understanding' , it's a peace that doesn't make any natural sense. DO you think or profess that 'if only things were different then i could do this or be this...?' then that's it, that's your problem- you have come to the conclusion that if only the ball was in your hands you could do it better then God. Then spend some time in church history, in reading about missions and the many sufferings of the family of God; while paying close attention to 'contentment', 'joy', and 'peace' which surpass all understanding.
Let this suffice for now-- seek the Lord and allow Him to provide the comfort you CAN'T find in any thing, person, or circumstance.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A letter to his daughter

I found this quite interesting, what great concern and what great advice:
If only we were a whole lot more concerned with spiritual things, this type of letter would not seem strange to us. This type? Of course there are a number of Godly people that are remembered for such holy letters- John Newton, Samuel Rutherford, etc....
Would YOU write such a letter, would it even sound like YOU? hmmm

15 Marriage Admonitions
(By Legh Richmond1772-1827)
(Prior to his daughter's marriage, Mr. Richmond put into her hands a paper of directions for her future conduct, which, for simplicity, affection, and sound practical wisdom--may be considered one of the best dowries that a Christian parent could bestow on his child.) My much-loved daughter, When your sister Mary left her paternal roof, I gave her a paper of admonitions, which I requested her to read often. I do the same for you, in the form of a friendly string of maxims, to regulate your conduct in your new and very responsible situation.
1. Aim at keeping a devoted heart for God in the least and most common transactions of every hour--as well as in those events which may seem to call the loudest for manifestations of Christian prudence and principle.
2. Pray regularly and frequently, not seldom and occasionally--for grace to live by.
3. Remember the Christian principles and examples of your father's house, and everywhere endeavor to preserve its character, by consistency in conduct, conversation, and temper. Keep in constant recollection--the wise, prudent, and conscientious example of your dear mother.
4. Form no hasty friendship; and none whatever, but such as may promote seriousness of heart, tongue and life.
5. Beware of cheerfulness degenerating into levity. Let no natural vivacity of temper, no occasionally indulged sallies of humor and jocularity--throw a shadow over the exercise of solid principle. Little foolish things give a color to character, and are more easily imitated, than serious and good sentiments.
6. Guard against hasty judgments of character, and above all against uttering hasty opinions, and making remarks to the disparagement of others. Particularly avoid making the errors, failings, faults, or follies of others--the subject of rash and unguarded remarks. Be known for charity, forbearance, and kindness. Be slow to judge--rather than swift to speak.
7. Wherever you are, in the first place, remember that God's eye is upon you; and then imagine also that your husband and father are present. It may be a fanciful--but it is a profitable supposition.
8. Keep Christ's golden rule, "Do unto to others--as you would have them do unto you" in perpetual remembrance. It is the panacea for most of the social evils of life.
9. Be conscientious towards all; friendly with few; confidential with fewer still; strictly intimate with fewest of all.
10. When you think of your father, bear with his infirmities and pardon his faults--but remember his principles and instructions, so far as they have been agreeable to the Word of God.
11. Do not be content with anything short of deep, sincere, diligent, and decided piety.
12. If you and your husband happen to differ in opinion or feeling on any point--remember whom you have promised to love, honor, and obey--and this will settle all things.
13. Of your husband's warm affections towards you, I entertain no doubt--strive to preserve them by daily elevation of character; and not so much by fondness--as by prudence and dignity. May you both learn to raise a home of marital happiness--by mutual wisdom and love.
14. Observe great simplicity and plainness in dress. You should be a pattern to others in this respect. There is a just complaint made of many females who profess to be pious--that they are far too showy and mirthful in their outward apparel. Remember the apostle Peter's injunction, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."
15. Christ has been made known to you fully and freely; let Christ be your all in all, both now and forever.
Receive my parting advice in love, and be assured, my beloved child, that it comes from the affectionate heart of your dear father.

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