Saturday, February 28, 2009

Which Jesus Do You Follow?

This song by Todd Agnew moved me to tears. It gave out a loud cry—a call to authentic WORSHIP: the worship of the one, true God, Savior, and Lord, JESUS CHRIST, who came as a lowly and uncomely man—being in essence God—that He might show the mercy and love of the Father to the UNDERDOGS, to those who have come to the end of their ropes and have fully surrendered their lives, their total selves, NOT to more "rope mileage" but to just one thing: TO HAVE JESUS CHRIST INCREASE, AND THEM DECREASE.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Infinite Happiness

"The wealth of his grace is immeasurable. It will take eternity for him to show us all the kindness he has to show. That is what it means to be God. In him there is always more to know, more to marvel at, and more to enjoy. This makes me very happy."

- John Piper, A Godward Life, Book I, 109, p. 293

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Soul, You Wait

Isaiah 30:15
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, "In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength."

Isaiah 30:18
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

Isaiah 40:31
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 49:23
"...Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame."

Isaiah 64:4
From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.

Psalm 25:3
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Psalm 25:5
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:21
May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.

Psalm 27:14
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Psalm 37:7
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Psalm 37:9
For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

Psalm 37:34
Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

Psalm 52:9
I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.

Psalm 62:5
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

Psalm 130:5
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;

Underdog Affections

"All gracious affections that are a sweet odor to Christ, and that fill the soul of a Christian with a heavenly sweetness and fragrancy, are brokenhearted affections. A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a humble brokenhearted love. The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires: their hope is a humble hope; and their joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is a humble brokenhearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behavior." (emphases mine)

- Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, 348-349

Saturday, February 21, 2009

To Enjoy God, Now and Forever

"The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean. Therefore it becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven, as itbecomes us to make the seeking of our highest end and proper good, the whole work of our lives; to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labour for, or set our hearts on, any thing else, but that which is our proper end, and true happiness?"

- Jonathan Edwards, 'The Christian Pilgrim,' in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, ed. EdwardHickman, 2 vols. (1834; reprint, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974), 2:244.

Embracing Career Change for the Glory of Christ

"Many of you are simply not satisfied with what you are doing...the output of your lives is not satisfying your deepest spiritual ambitions. We must be careful here. Every job has its discouragements and its seasons of darkness. We must not interpret such experiences automatically as a call to leave our post. But if the discontent with your present situation is deep, recurrent, and lasting, and if that discontent grows in Bible-saturated soil, God may be calling you to a new work. If, in your discontent, you long to be holy, to walk pleasing to the Lord, and to magnify Christ with your one, brief life, then God may indeed be loosening your roots in order to transplant you to a place and a ministry where the deep spiritual ambitions of your soul can be satisfied....God seldom calls us to an easier life, but always calls us to know more of him and drink more deeply of his sustaining grace." - John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life, ch. 9, p. 178

As the uneasiness grows, does faith grow along with it?

Are we building up the soul resources needed to enable us to respond in radical obedience when the Lord calls us out of our white-collar comfort zones into the thick of battle?

Are we weaning our hearts off earthly affections and focusing on heavenly ones?

Do we really want to walk the talk?

Is Christ our everything?

I need to reflect on these questions and more.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Family Best

I have realized that it is part of my role as a husband and father to work hard to provide for the needs of my family. But I have also realized that it is God who ultimately provides for everything pertaining to me and my family, be it the strength and intellect that I utilize in the dispensation of my tasks, to the faith that I need to see all of this. I have realized that it is not for me to carry the burden of provision.

What, then, is the sole purpose that I must strive for? It is liberating, soul-freeing, and empowering. It is simply this: THE PURSUIT OF CHRISTLIKENESS.

If I devote the totality of my being to this end, then I am seeking that which is the reason for my creation and nothing else matters. In this pursuit, I am released from the shackles of the worldly mindset of "keeping up with the Joneses" and thinking that anything less is a disservice to my family. Our worth and well-being are bound up in the promises of God. In this, I am being the husband and father that God wants me to be, the kind that pursues Christ, and the best possible kind to my wife and children.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Praise from the Mouth of God

John 12:43
for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Romans 2:29
But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Perhaps one of the greatest hindrances to the formation of Christ in a Christian, and an unsightly blemish on the witness of the Church, is the attitude of craving the approval, the esteem, and the praise of man. It is the state of the soul wherein the soul is cradled in well-being only when it has been rocked by the words of man that make much of its contribution, its prowess, and its worth. In this tendency, despondency ensues when the soul is not made much of.

But the Christian, in the power of the Spirit, must rise above this natural inclination of the depraved heart, reaching for the transcendent peace of Christ that is had by giving import solely to the approval and affirmation of God. It is to be expected that no man can serve two masters. It is that either weight is given to man's estimation or God's: Love man and his praise, which is in absolute essence merely a loving of oneself, or love God and HIS praise, which is in absolute essence a hating, loathing, and denial of oneself.

This is a call to be unpopular, first in your own eyes, which is the hardest to accept. But once you have relinquished the right to be somebody in your own book, then you are ready to be treated the same by others, for then they are merely agreeing with you, and with this you are freed to pursue the only praise that matters--the praise that comes from the mouth of God.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Andrew Murray on Humility

"Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is for me to have no trouble; never to be fretted or vexed or irritated or sore or disappointed. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace as in a deep sea of calmness when all around is trouble. It is the fruit of the Lord Jesus Christ's redemptive work on Calvary's cross, manifested in those of His own who are definitely subject to the Holy Spirit."

"The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are preferred and blessed before Him. He can bear to hear others praised while he is forgotten because...he has received the spirit of Jesus, who pleased not Himself, and who sought not His own honor."

- Andrew Murray

The Bible, Calvinism and Being Straight

The prince of preachers, Charles H. Spurgeon, had a close friend by the name of John Clifford who was a distinguished preacher in his own right. One day Clifford ribbed his friend about his theology. "You see me so often I cannot understand why you remain a Calvinist," he said. Spurgeon replied, "Well, it's like this, John. I see you only about once a month, but I read my Bible every day and that keeps me straight."

- Roy B. Zuck, The Speaker's Quote Book, Calvinism, p. 44

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Root of Joy

" is crucial for the witness of the church. If we want to make people glad in God, our lives must look as if GOD, NOT POSSESSIONS, IS OUR JOY. Our lives must look as if we use our possessions to make people glad in God..." (emphasis mine)

- John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life, ch. 7, p. 111

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Humble Shall Finish

Isa 57:15
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

The Christian is a mourner. He weeps. He laments over the sins that daily cast shadows in the chambers of his enlightened heart. Indeed, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Mat 5:4) The glorious Lord, holy and awesome, unfathomable in His greatness, has expressed in His Word that, in all His splendor and exaltedness, the humble, the lowly, the broken, those who are keenly aware of their unworthiness before Him and who desire Christlikeness above all, these are the ones that are close to His heart--and these are the ones to whom He has promised revival and comfort.

In what form will these graces come? The Christian desires nothing but Christ and His image to be formed in him. All his sorrow emanates from his estimation of the un-Christlikeness that is still very much a part of him. Therefore, God has promised, and He is One to never relent on His Word, to deal with the root of the Christian's consternation by giving him what he wants. The Lord does this daily in SANCTIFICATION, and He will do it finally, in GLORIFICATION. Whenever the Christian is on the brink of despair, God revives in him the desire, the passion, and the zeal for holiness, and comforts him with the assurance that He will see him through to the finish line.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Daily Death

"Daily Christian living is daily Christian dying. The dying I have in mind is the dying of comfort and security and reputation and health and family and friends and wealth and homeland. These may be taken from us at any time in the path of Christ-exalting obedience. To die daily the way Paul did, and to take up our cross daily the way Jesus commanded, is to embrace this life of loss for Christ’s sake and count it gain."

- John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life, ch. 4, p. 71

Saturday, February 7, 2009

To be Meek is NOT to be Weak

This hour-long sermon by Pastor Mark Kielar really ministered to me. His fresh insight on the blessedness of meekness, and how it is founded on the prior blessedness of brokenness and mourning, reinforced these concepts on humility that have long been brewing inside my soul.

I hope the sermon does for you what it did for me, and that is solidify the centrality of humility in the head, heart, and hands.

Video #2

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Abraham's Dagger

"The parting with my Wife and poor Children hath often been to me in this place [jail], as the pulling of the Flesh from my Bones; and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these great Mercies, but also because I should have often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries, and wants that my poor Family was like to meet with, should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind Child, who lay nearer my heart than all I have besides. O the thought of the hardship I thought my blind one might go under, would break up my heart to pieces...But yet, recalling my self, thought I, I must venture you all with God, though it goeth to the quick to leave you; O I saw in this condition, I was a man who was pulling down his House upon the head of His wife and Children; yet thought I, I must do it, I must do it." - John Bunyan

I am the husband of a beautiful woman, and the father of a daughter and a son. I love my family so much that laying down my life for them--literally--would be the easiest decision that I could make. And yet, I love Christ more, or at least I should. The Lord has not tested me and revealed my heart in this matter, and I pray that He wouldn't have to; but I love Christ, and to love Him means to have other affections seem like hatred in comparison.

Bunyan's statement moves me to tears. It is Abraham with his dagger poised over Isaac, ready and willing to lose a love over a greater Love--No, the greatest Love. And it is the Father laying down His Son, for the redemption of man, and for the showcasing to the universe of what love essentially means.

Loving Christ more than our families is loving them the best that they could be loved.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Christian Life is Hard

"Becoming a Christian means being sick of your sin, longing for forgiveness and rescue from present evil and future hell, and affirming your commitment to the lordship of Christ to the point where you are willing to forsake isn't just holding up your hand or walking down an aisle and saying, 'I love Jesus.' It is not easy, it is not user-friendly or seeker-sensitive; it isn't a rosy, perfect world where Jesus gives you whatever you want. It is hard, it is sacrificial, and it supersedes everything." - John MacArthur, Hard to Believe, ch. 8, p. 132-133

Some points:

1.) A Christian loathes himself as he sees indwelling sin still marring the expression of Christ's character in his life. There is no room for self-esteem. All growth in Christlikeness is by grace through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, all boasting is excluded except the glorying in the cross of Christ.

2.) A Christian is always in a state of repentance. He is always striving to turn away from sin and turn toward God. The loss of fellowship with God, as resulting from sin, is worse than death, and therefore restoration of fellowship after sinning is his chief desire.

3.) A Christian longs to depart and be with his Lord; for this world, with its allurements, has become disgusting to him, and all he craves for is the beholding of and the sharing in the beauty of Christ.

4.) A Christian realizes that suffering is God's chief means of producing Christlikeness in His children. Therefore, he faithfully entrusts every difficult circumstance to the loving sovereignty of God, with his eye to more of Christ being produced in him.

5.) A Christian loves Christ above everything: above his wife, his kids, his job, his possessions, his reputation, his ambition--yes, above his own life.

Beauty and Love

God is LOVE. What this means is that God is love's ground of being, its foundation. Love derives its existence, its ontology, from God. Take God out of the picture and you take love out as well.


Given this definition, we can see that when Scripture commands us to love our fellow man, what it is essentially telling us is that we should open our eyes to see the beauty of every human being and desire their good, which translates to us deriving pleasure from the beauty beheld. Man was so wired by God that beauty gives him pleasure, as it does God.

God's love for man is of the same nature. God loves His people, desires their ultimate good and derives pleasure from seeing the BEAUTY OF CHRISTLIKENESS in them. In the end, EVERY HUMAN BEING DEVOID OF CHRISTLIKENSS (that is to say UGLY or LACKING IN BEAUTY) shall forever be expelled from God's sight and presence.

But why is it often hard to love? I believe it is a problem of truth deficiency (just as vitamin deficiency causes physiological problems, truth deficiency causes spiritual and psychological problems). In fact, all of life's ills are solved by the acquisition and enfleshment of truth. The difficulty in loving another person has to do with a blindness that has descended that prevents the beholding of beauty in the other. Without beauty perceived, there would be no reason to love, and this is natural. The key is in gaining a vision of the beauty that exists in the person. How is this vision acquired? By knowing, believing, and living the truth about the object of love. In the marriage relationship, beauty is intrinsic to it and to both parties involved by virtue of it being an earthly model of Jesus Christ's relationship to the Church. In other human relationships, the anthropological truths of Scripture serve as the backbone of the love that must mutually exist between persons. Emotional roadblocks to love are dealt with by the filling of the mind with these truths, as every emotion has at its root a believed notion.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Proving the Other Love

Eph 4:15
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.

The TRUTH of God's Word--the TRUTH of CHRISTIANITY--it is a precious thing. For the Christian, it is the only possession of real value and something that is greatly treasured. In fact, he can be so caught up in its jealous defense that he begins to regard it as how an unbeliever may regard a Porsche--something that makes him big and a head above the rest. But as Paul remarked in the passage above, the truth must be spoken in love. If the motivation is not love it is not God-pleasing, and if it is not God-pleasing it is nothing.

I have, in the past and now, been guilty of using the TRUTH as a means of boosting my own ego. For this I repent and ask the Lord to humble me and make more real the fact that I have nothing that was not given to me by Him in His glorious grace.

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