Tuesday, July 31, 2007
by John Piper
Since my father died on March 6, I have been looking through his papers. I found a small sheet with the following fifteen counsels, titled “Things I Have Learned.” He didn't make most of these up. Some of them go back to his college days when he was absorbing the pithy wisdom of Bob Jones Senior. They have again confirmed the obvious: I owe my father more than I can ever remember. The comment after each one is mine.
Things I Have Learned
1. The right road always leads to the right place; therefore, get on the right road and go as far as you can on it.
My father was totally persuaded that wrong means do not lead to right ends. Or, more positively, he was persuaded that living in the right way ??? that is, doing the right things ??? are means that inevitably lead to where God wants us to be. This is why he told me, when I asked about God’s leading in my life, “Son, keep the room clean where you are, and in God’s time, the door to the next room will open.”
2. There is only one thing to do about anything; that is the right thing. Do right.
This is what one might say to a person perplexed by a difficult situation whose outcome is unknown. The person might say, “I just don’t know what to do about this.” It is not useless to be told: Do the right thing. That may not tell you exactly which good thing to do, but it does clear the air and rule out a few dozen bad ideas.
3. Happiness is not found by looking for it. You stumble over happiness on the road to duty.
My, my, my. How was John Piper born from this? I would never say this. The main reason is that the Bible commands us to pursue our joy repeatedly. “Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say rejoice.” “Delight yourself in the Lord.” I think what he meant was: 1) Joy is always in something. Joy itself is not the something. So we seek joy in Christ. Not just joy in general. 2) When duty is hard and we do not feel joy in doing it, we should still do it, and pray that in the doing it the joy would be given. But what we need to make plain is that duty cannot be contrasted with joy, because joy is a biblical duty.
4. The door to success swings on the hinges of opposition.
Remarkably, this saying implies that opposition is not just a natural accompaniment or antecedent of success, but that it is a means by which the door opens. One can think of many biblical examples. The opposition of Joseph’s brothers opened the door to his leadership in Egypt. The taxing of the empire opened the door to getting the Messiah born in Bethlehem, not Nazareth, and thus fulfilling prophecy. The betrayal of Judas opened the door to the salvation of the world.
5. God in the right place in my life fixes every other relationship of life (Matthew 6:33).
I wonder if this was tucked away in my mind so that unknown to me it controlled my analogy of the solar system to our many-faceted lives. If God is the blazing center of the solar system of our lives, then all the planets will be held in their proper orbit. But if not, everything goes awry.
6. It is never right to get the right thing in the wrong way ??? like good grades, wealth, power, position. Don’t sacrifice your principles.
Again, he hammers away at don’t use bad means for good ends. Be a principled, not a pragmatic, person. O how we need to hear this today. Churches need to be principled, not endlessly adapting to culture. Persons need to make a promise and keep it no matter how much it hurts.
7. It is a sin to do less than your best. It is wrong to do well.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). But be careful. Sometimes the “best” is a B+ sermon and spending time with your child. In other words, “best” always involves more decisions than the one you are making at the moment. That one means many other things are being left undone. So “best” is always the whole thing, not just the detail of the moment.
8. It is wrong to be yoked to one who refuses the yoke of Christ.
Don’t marry an unbeliever (1 Corinthians 7:39). Not all relationships with unbelievers are ruled out. Otherwise we could not obey Jesus’ command to love them and bless them. But “yoke” implies a connectedness that either governs where we go or constrains where they go. And you cannot constrain faith in Jesus. It is free.
9. The part of your character that is deficient is the part that needs attention.
This is the counterpoint to the advice: Go with your strengths. There is truth in both. Yes, be encouraged by every evidence of God’s grace in your life, and use your gifts and graces for his glory. But you will become smug and vain if you do not keep your deficiencies before you and work on them.
10. Don’t quit. Finish the job. God can’t use a quitter.
Warning: “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13). Promise: “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
11. Anything you do that hinders your progress for God is wrong.
O how thankful I am that this was the dominant way my father pressed me to pursue my sanctification. He did not mainly impose lists of don’ts on me, though we had them. And they were clear. Mainly he said: Maximize your progress in knowing and serving God. That ruled out a hundred foolish behaviors, some bad and some uselessly innocent.
12. Beware of any society in which you feel compelled to put a bushel over your testimony.
This implies that you can go into a group of people who are evil if you are willing to open your mouth and take a stand for Jesus and righteousness. Nevertheless, 1 Corinthians 15:33 stands: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’”
13. It isn’t enough to be good. Be good for something. The essence of Christianity is not a passionless purity.
This is what I have meant in talking about a merely avoidance ethic. Don’t just think of righteousness or holiness in terms of what you avoid, but what you do. As my father said in another place: Don’t be a don’ter; be a doer.
14. Positive living produces negative effect[s].
This is wise counsel that affirmation of the good always implies negation of the bad. If you think you can live your life without negating anything, you have lost touch with reality. “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9). You cannot love without hating what hurts the beloved.
15. Learn to be sweetly firm.
This was what he said to my mother over the phone when she was exasperated with her one disobedient son: Be sweet and firm. I think she succeeded.
With abiding and deep thankfulness for my father’s wisdom,
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.
Monday, July 30, 2007
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
I pray for my Christian Brothers and Sisters - that You will continue to guide them and protect them.
I pray for my country - that Reformation's light will break through the darkness of its present state.
I pray for me - that the First Love of Salvation will forever stay with me.
In Jesus' name, AMEN.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
OMG (literally), now you've seen everything! Treat your minor cuts, scrapes, and scratches with the incredible healing power of a designer Jesus bandage. And if a fancy bandage isn't enough to dry up your tears, how about a free toy! Each 3 3/4-inch tall metal pocket tin contains fifteen adhesive bandages and a small plastic trinket to help make even the ouchiest owies feel all better in no time. Includes 15 sterile strips, all measuring 3-inches long x 1-inch wide.
Friday, July 27, 2007
(Read by Max McLean. Provided by Zondervan.)
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It is so easy to say: I will wait until I get old, until my children grow up, until I am well-off... We are so busy in our lives, there is so much to do, so many things to see, so many mountains to climb, God will wait, God is patient. Right?
I used to think so, too. And then He saved me, right in the midst of my wordliness and self-satisfaction, in the midst of my self-pride and my huge ego. He did not wait. I asked: why now, Lord? Why me? And I got the answer: because you were appointed.
Can one oppose God's will? Dares anyone do it? Do we REALLY want to do it?
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
by Jack Graham
In the days of Noah, people were evil… pure and simple. They didn’t obey or respect God, and sin saturated society until things became more and more corrupt and God finally said, “Enough!”
Many people wonder what our world today is coming to. Well, as believers in Christ, we don’t have to wonder, because the Bible tells us that this world is coming to the end and ultimately to God’s judgment.
Society is becoming so tolerant of sin and evil that it’s become frightening. People live in fear, wondering whether rogue nations will use chemical or nuclear weapons to fulfill violent and evil intentions.
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope as we look out at the world scene. But we need to remember Jesus said that just before He returns, the world will get worse and worse, as it did in the days of Noah. And that's our hope!
Jesus is coming back to set things right in this world and redeem those who are His own.
So don’t be afraid of what may lie ahead for this world. God is in control, and nothing can remove His hand from His own!
AS THE WORLD GETS WORSE, WE HAVE THE HOPE OF JESUS’ SOON RETURN.
Monday, July 23, 2007
(Read by Max McLean. Provided by Zondervan.)
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Poor deceived people who come to our door and try to convince us otherwise. Shame on their teachers and leaders, shame on them.
Christ is God. Everlasting, Almighty, our Beautiful Saviour, God in flesh, the Great I AM. He and only He is the door to Heaven. He is our Sheperd, and we are His Sheep. And we know His Voice, and we will not listen to the voice of some other.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father." There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, "He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?" Others said, "These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?" At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one." The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?" The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God." Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods'? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came--and Scripture cannot be broken-- do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands. He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. And many came to him. And they said, "John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true." And many believed in him there.
(Joh 10:1-42 ESV)
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Rules of participating:
1. Copy this post.
2. Replace [my bloggers with yours] & Reflect on five bloggers and write a least a paragraph about each one.
3. Make sure you link this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Go leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they’ve been given the award.
5. Put the award icon on your site.
My nominees (no particular order):
* House of Chosun North Korea speak, for being very informative about the worst country on the face of the Earth, and at the same time being kind and compassionate
* The Upward Call, where Kim is being excellent at living her Christian life and sharing it with her readers, always making them think and examine themselves
* Crazy Calvinist, for forcing me out of my comfort zone, and facing life as it is. Love ya, Deejay!
* Douglas, for being a voice in the wilderness, fresh and intelligent, and always right on the spot
* Mike, for showing his opinions from a slightly different perspective of a Brit in America, always gentle and thoughtful
* Encyclopedia Kevinannica, boy, what a treasure of information this one is! Just go and check it for yourself!
I have many more in mind, but they would probably just wave me off - they are too popular and mighty :) Like Steve Camp, or Carla Rolfe...
And an update - since both of the above commented on this:
* Steve Camp, who not only made me blog, but also blessed me with his music into the Reformed Faith - YES!, and continues to do so by his ministry - You have no idea how much Your music means to me, Steve
* Carla Rolfe, for being an example of a Christian Mother and Sister, combining every-day musings with the sharp and accurate observations of today's world.
God Bless all Christian bloggers.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
If Daddy is afraid, where can a little child turn? Daddies are supposed to be safe. They are supposed to know what to do and how to solve problems and fix things and, most of all, protect the children from harm. But what happens if a child sees fear in Daddy's face? What if Daddy is as scared as the child, and doesn't know what to do? Then the child is utterly distraught and feels panic. He feels that the one strong and good and reliable place of safety is no longer safe.
But if Daddy is confident, then the children have a refuge. If Daddy is not panicking, but calm and steady, all the walls can come tumbling down, and all the waves can break, and all the snakes can hiss and the lions roar and the wind blow, and there will still be a safe place in Daddy's arms. Daddy is a refuge, as long as Daddy is confident.
That's why Proverbs 14:26 says that "his children will have a refuge," if Daddy has a "strong confidence." Daddy's confidence is the refuge of his children. Dads, the battle to be confident is not just about us, it is about the security of our children. It is about their sense of security and happiness. It's about whether they grow up fretful or firm in faith. Until children can know God in a deep personal way, we are the image and the embodiment of God in their lives. If we are confident and reliable and safe for them, they will be much more likely to cleave to God as their refuge when the storms break over them later.
So how shall we have "strong confidence"? After all, we, too, are little children, clay pots, weak and broken and battling anxieties and doubts. Is the solution to put on the best show we can and hide our true selves? That will lead to ulcers at best, and God-dishonoring teenager-repelling duplicity at worst. That is not the answer.
Proverbs 14:26 gives another answer: "In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence." This is very strange. It says that the solution to fear is fear. The solution to timidity is fear. The solution to uncertainty is fear. The solution to doubt is fear.
How can this be?
Part of the answer is that the "fear of the Lord" means fearing to dishonor the Lord. Which means fearing to distrust the Lord. Which means fearing to fear anything that the Lord has promised to help you overcome. In other words the fear of the Lord is the great fear destroyer.
If the Lord says, "Fear not, I am with you, be not dismayed, I will help you," (Isaiah 41:10), then it is a fearful thing to worry about the problem he says he will help you with. Fearing that problem when he says, "Fear not, I will help you, is a vote of no confidence against God's word, and that is a great dishonor to God. And the fear of the Lord trembles at such dishonoring God.
If the Lord says, "I will never fail you nor forsake you," so you can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6) - if the Lord says that to you, then not to be confident in the Lord's promised presence and help is a kind of pride. It puts our reckoning of the trouble above God's. That is why we read the amazing words of the Lord in Isaiah 51:12, "I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies And of the son of man who is made like grass?" Who are you to fear man, when God has promised to help you? So it is pride to fear man. And pride is the exact opposite of the fear of God.
So, yes, the Proverb is true and a great help to us. Fear God, dads. Fear God. Fear dishonoring him. Fear distrusting him. Fear putting your assessment of the problem above his. He says he can help. He is smarter. He is stronger. He is more generous. Trust him. Fear not to trust him.
Why? He works for those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4). He will solve the problem. He will rescue the family. He will take care of the little ones. He will meet your needs. Fear not believing that. Then your children will have a refuge. They will have a Daddy who "has strong confidence" - not in himself, but in the promises of God, which he trembles not to trust.
Learning to fear the Lord for the sake of my children,
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Thank You Lord for the children and for their presence in our lives. You gave us this great responsibility of taking care of them, of nurturing them, of showing them Your Truth. It is because we have them, we can better understand Your Love for us. Help us, Lord, to make them Your children, too, to show them Your Righteousness and Your Mercy. Help us to make them our Siblings in Christ.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
1. The God Who Justifies by James R. White
2. The Potter's Freedom by James R. White
3. Always Ready by Greg L. Bahnsen
arrived in my post box on Monday. The two first ones signed by the author :)
This will be a great time to read them, slowly savoring their contents, and enjoying the Word of God at the same time.
About books - when I was a child, I read a lot of adventure stories, later going over to romance and still later to biographies of famous people. Books are something else. You can take a good book everywhere with you, you can read it at a candle light, you can go back and forth in it, you can touch it, smell it... Oh, the smell of new books, something I remember from my childhood, when I opened my presents... Unforgettable. Today's books smell differently than those in the past, probably due to the modern technology. Sigh...
Take a good book and read it too :)
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
The mother in this family, I, was safe with her laptop and mobile internet modem. The others took many naps and found some consolation in good food :)
Somehow I am not sad or bitter about this situation. Not this year.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Monday, July 16, 2007
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Christ, who is love itself, is here discoursing concerning love, a fourfold love.
I. Concerning the Father's love to him; and concerning this he here tells us,
1. That the Father did love him (Joh_15:9): As the Father hath loved me. He loved him as Mediator: This is my beloved Son. He was the Son of his love. He loved him, and gave all things into his hand; and yet so loved the world as to deliver him up for us all. When Christ was entering upon his sufferings he comforted himself with this, that his Father loved him. Those whom God loves as a Father may despise the hatred of all the world.
2. That he abode in his Father's love, Joh_15:10. He continually loved his Father, and was beloved of him. Even when he was made sin and a curse for us, and it pleased the Lord to bruise him, yet he abode in his Father's love. See Psa_89:33. Because he continued to love his Father, he went cheerfully through his sufferings, and therefore his Father continued to love him.
3. That therefore he abode in his Father's love because he kept his Father's law: I have kept my Father's commandments, as Mediator, and so abide in his love. Hereby he showed that he continued to love his Father, that he went on, and went through, with his undertaking, and therefore the Father continued to love him. His soul delighted in him, because he did not fail, nor was discouraged, Isa_42:1-4. We having broken the law of creation, and thereby thrown ourselves out of the love of God; Christ satisfied for us by obeying the law of redemption, and so he abode in his love, and restored us to it.
II. Concerning his own love to his disciples. Though he leaves them, he loves them. And observe here,
1. The pattern of this love: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. A strange expression of the condescending grace of Christ! As the Father loved him, who was most worthy, he loved them, who were most unworthy. The Father loved him as his Son, and he loves them as his children. The Father gave all things into his hand; so, with himself, he freely giveth us all things. The Father loved him as Mediator, as head of the church, and the great trustee of divine grace and favour, which he had not for himself only, but for the benefit of those for whom he was entrusted; and, says he, “I have been a faithful trustee. As the Father has committed his love to me, so I transmit it to you.” Therefore the Father was well pleased with him, that he might be well pleased with us in him; and loved him, that in him, as beloved, he might make us accepted, Eph_1:6.
2. The proofs and products of this love, which are four: -
(1.) Christ loved his disciples, for he laid down his life for them (Joh_15:13): Greater proof of love hath no man to show than this, to lay down his life for his friend. And this is the love wherewith Christ hath loved us, he is our antipsuchos - bail for us, body for body, life for life, though he knew our insolvency, and foresaw how much the engagement would cost him. Observe here, [1.] The extent of the love of the children of men to one another. The highest proof of it is laying down one's life for a friend, to save his life, and perhaps there have been some such heroic achievements of love, more than plucking out one's own eyes, Gal_4:15. If all that a man has he will give for his life, he that gives this for his friend gives all, and can give no more; this may sometimes be our duty, 1Jo_3:16. Paul was ambitious of the honour (Phi_2:17); and for a good man some will even dare to die, Rom_5:7. It is love in the highest degree, which is strong as death. [2.] The excellency of the love of Christ beyond all other love. He has not only equaled, but exceeded, the most illustrious lovers. Others have laid down their lives, content that they should be taken from them; but Christ gave up his, was not merely passive, but made it his own act and deed. The life which others have laid down has been but of equal value with the life for which it was laid down, and perhaps less valuable; but Christ is infinitely more worth than ten thousand of us. Others have thus laid down their lives for their friends, but Christ laid down his for us when we were enemies, Rom_5:8, Rom_5:10. Plusquam ferrea aut lapidea corda esse oportet, quae non emolliet tam incomparabilis divini amoris suavitas - Those hearts must be harder than iron or stone which are not softened by such incomparable sweetness of divine love. - Calvin
(2.) Christ loved his disciples, for he took them into a covenant of friendship with himself, Joh_15:14, Joh_15:15. “If you approve yourselves by your obedience my disciples indeed, you are my friends, and shall be treated as friends.” Note, The followers of Christ are the friends of Christ, and he is graciously pleased to call and account them so. Those that do the duty of his servants are admitted and advanced to the dignity of his friends. David had one servant in his court, and Solomon one in his, that was in a particular manner the king's friend (2Sa_15:37; 1Ki_4:5); but this honour have all Christ's servants. We may in some particular instance befriend a stranger; but we espouse all the interests of a friend, and concern ourselves in all his cares: thus Christ takes believers to be his friends. He visits them and converses with them as his friends, bears with them and makes the best of them, is afflicted in their afflictions, and takes pleasure in their prosperity; he pleads for them in heaven and takes care of all their interests there. Have friends but one soul? He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit, 1Co_6:17. Though they often show themselves unfriendly, he is a friend that loves at all times. Observe how endearingly this is expressed here. [1.] He will not call them servants, though they call him Master and Lord. Those that would be like Christ in humility must not take a pride in insisting upon all occasions on their authority and superiority, but remember that their servants are their fellow-servants. But, [2.] He will call them his friends; he will not only love them, but will let them know it; for in his tongue is the law of kindness. After his resurrection he seems to speak with more affectionate tenderness of and to his disciples than before. Go to my brethren, Joh_20:17. Children, have you any meat? Joh_21:5. But observe, though Christ called them his friends, they called themselves his servants: Peter, a servant of Christ (1Pe_1:1), and so James, Jam_1:1. The more honour Christ puts upon us, the more honour we should study to do him; the higher in his eyes, the lower in our own.
(3.) Christ loved his disciples, for he was very free in communicating his mind to them (Joh_15:15): “Henceforth you shall not be kept so much in the dark as you have been, like servants that are only told their present work; but, when the Spirit is poured out, you shall know your Master's designs as friends. All things that I have heard of my Father I have declared unto you.” As to the secret will of God, there are many things which we must be content not to know; but, as to the revealed will of God, Jesus Christ has faithfully handed to us what he received of the Father, Joh_1:18; Mat_11:27. The great things relating to man's redemption Christ declared to his disciples, that they might declare them to others; they were the men of his counsel, Mat_13:11.
(4.) Christ loved his disciples, for he chose and ordained them to be the prime instruments of his glory and honour in the world (Joh_15:16): I have chosen you, and ordained you, His love to them appeared,
[1.] In their election, their election to their apostleship (Joh_6:70): I have chosen you twelve. It did not begin on their side: You have not chosen me, but I first chose you. Why were they admitted to such an intimacy with him, employed in such an embassy for him, and endued with such power from on high? It was not owing to their wisdom and goodness in choosing him for their Master, but to his favour and grace in choosing them for his disciples. It is fit that Christ should have the choosing of his own ministers; still he does it by his providence and Spirit. Though ministers make that holy calling their own choice, Christ's choice is prior to theirs and directs and determines it. Of all that are chosen to grace and glory it may be said, They have not chosen Christ, but he had chosen them, Deu_7:7, Deu_7:8.
[2.] In their ordination: I have ordained you; hethēka humas - “I have put you into the ministry (1Ti_1:12), put you into commission.” By this it appeared that he took them for his friends when he crowned their heads with such an honour, and filled their hands with such a trust. It was a mighty confidence he reposed in them, when he made them his ambassadors to negotiate the affairs of his kingdom in this lower world, and the prime ministers of state in the administration of it. The treasure of the gospel was committed to them, First, That it might be propagated: that you should go, hina humeis hupagēte - “that you should go as under a yoke or burden, for the ministry is a work, and you that go about it must resolve to undergo a great deal; that you may go from place to place all the world over, and bring forth fruit.” They were ordained, not to sit still, but to go about, to be diligent in their work, and to lay out themselves unweariedly in doing good. They were ordained, not to beat the air, but to be instrumental in God's hand for the bringing of nations into obedience to Christ, Rom_1:13. Note, Those whom Christ ordains should and shall be fruitful; should labour, and shall not labour in vain. Secondly, That it might be perpetuated; that the fruit may remain, that the good effect of their labours may continue in the world from generation to generation, to the end of time. The church of Christ was not to be a short-lived thing, as many of the sects of the philosophers, that were a nine days' wonder; it did not come up in a night, nor should it perish in a night, but be as the days of heaven. The sermons and writings of the apostles are transmitted to us, and we at this day are built upon that foundation, ever since the Christian church was first founded by the ministry of the apostles and seventy disciples; as one generation of ministers and Christians has passed away, still another has come. By virtue of that great charter (Mat_28:19), Christ has a church in the world, which, as our lawyers say of bodies corporate, does not die, but lives in a succession; and thus their fruit remains to this day, and shall do while the earth remains.
[3.] His love to them appeared in the interest they had at the throne of grace: Whatsoever you shall ask of my Father, in my name, he will give it you. Probably this refers in the first place to the power of working miracles which the apostles were clothed with, which was to be drawn out by prayer. “Whatever gifts are necessary to the furtherance of your labours, whatever help from heaven you have occasion for at any time, it is but ask and have.” Three things are here hinted to us for our encouragement in prayer, and very encouraging they are. First, That we have a God to go to who is a Father; Christ here calls him the Father, both mine and yours; and the Spirit in the word and in the heart teaches us to cry, Abba, Father. Secondly, That we come in a good name. Whatever errand we come upon to the throne of grace according to God's will, we may with a humble boldness mention Christ's name in it, and plead that we are related to him, and he is concerned for us. Thirdly, That an answer of peace is promised us. What you come for shall be given you. This great promise made to that great duty keeps up a comfortable and gainful intercourse between heaven and earth.
III. Concerning the disciples' love to Christ, enjoined in consideration of the great love wherewith he had loved them. Three things he exhorts them to: -
1. To continue in his love, Joh_15:9. “Continue in your love to me, and in mine to you.” Both may be taken in. We must place our happiness in the continuance of Christ's love to us, and make it our business to give continued proofs of our love to Christ, that nothing may tempt us to withdraw from him, or provoke him to withdraw from us. Note, All that love Christ should continue in their love to him, that is, be always loving him, and taking all occasions to show it, and love to the end. The disciples were to go out upon service for Christ, in which they would meet with many troubles; but, says Christ, “Continue in my love. Keep up your love to me, and then all the troubles you meet with will be easy; love made seven years' hard service easy to Jacob. Let not the troubles you meet with for Christ's sake quench your love to Christ, but rather quicken it.
2. To let his joy remain in them, and fill them, Joh_15:11. This he designed in those precepts and promises given them.
(1.) That his joy might remain in them. The words are so placed, in the original, that they may be read either, [1.] That my joy in you may remain. If they bring forth much fruit, and continue in his love, he will continue to rejoice in them as he had done. Note, Fruitful and faithful disciples are the joy of the Lord Jesus; he rests in his love to them, Zep_3:17. As there is a transport of joy in heaven in the conversion of sinners, so there is a remaining joy in the perseverance of saints. Or, [2.] That my joy, that is, your joy in me, may remain. It is the will of Christ that his disciples should constantly and continually rejoice in him, Phi_4:4. The joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment, but the joy of those who abide in Christ's love is a continual feast. The word of the Lord enduring for ever, the joys that flow from it, and are founded on it, do so too.
(2.) That your joy might be full; not only that you might be full of joy, but that your joy in me and in my love may rise higher and higher, till it come to perfection, when you enter into the joy of your Lord.” Note, [1.] Those and those only that have Christ's joy remaining in them have their joy full; worldly joys are empty, soon surfeit but never satisfy. It is only wisdom's joy that will fill the soul, Psa_36:8. [2.] The design of Christ in his world is to fill the joy of his people; see 1Jo_1:4. This and the other he hath said, that our joy might be fuller and fuller, and perfect at last.
3. To evidence their love to him by keeping his commandments: “If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love, Joh_15:10. This will be an evidence of the fidelity and constancy of your love to me, and then you may be sure of the continuance of my love to you.” Observe here,
(1.) The promise “You shall abide in my love as in a dwelling place, at home in Christ's love; as in a resting place, at ease in Christ's love; as in a stronghold, safe in it. You shall abide in my love, you shall have grace and strength to persevere in loving me.” If the same hand that first shed abroad the love of Christ in our hearts did not keep us in that love, we should not long abide in it, but, through the love of the world, should go out of love with Christ himself.
(2.) The condition of the promise: If you keep my commandments. The disciples were to keep Christ's commandments, not only by a constant conformity to them themselves, but by a faithful delivery of them to others; they were to keep them as trustees, in whose hands that great depositum was lodged, for they were to teach all things that Christ had commanded, Mat_28:20. This commandment they must keep without spot (1Ti_6:14), and thus they must show that they abide in his love.
To induce them to keep his commandments, he urges, [1.] His own example: As I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. Christ submitted to the law of mediation, and so preserved the honour and comfort of it, to teach us to submit to the laws of the Mediator, for we cannot otherwise preserve the honour and comfort of our relation to him. [2.] The necessity of it to their interest in him (Joh_15:14): “You are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you and not otherwise.” Note, First, Those only will be accounted Christ's faithful friends that approve themselves his obedient servants; for those that will not have him to reign over them shall be treated as his enemies. Idem velle et idem nolle ea demum vera est amicitia - Friendship involves a fellowship of aversions and attachments. - Sallust. Secondly, It is universal obedience to Christ that is the only acceptable obedience; to obey him in every thing that he commands us, not excepting, much less excepting against, any command.
IV. Concerning the disciples' love one to another, enjoined as an evidence of their love to Christ, and a grateful return for his love to them. We must keep his commandments, and this is his commandment, that we love one another, Joh_15:12, and again, Joh_15:17. No one duty of religion is more frequently inculcated, nor more pathetically urged upon us, by our Lord Jesus, than that of mutual love, and for good reason.
1. It is here recommended by Christ's pattern (Joh_15:12): as I have loved you. Christ's love to us should direct and engage our love to each other; in this manner, and from this motive, we should love one another, as, and because, Christ has loved us. He here specifies some of the expressions of his love to them; he called them friends, communicated his mind to them, was ready to give them what they asked. Go you and do likewise.
2. It is required by his precept. He interposes his authority, has made it one of the statute-laws of his kingdom. Observe how differently it is expressed in these two verses, and both very emphatic.
(1.) This is my commandment (Joh_15:12), as if this were the most necessary of all the commandments. As under the law the prohibition of idolatry was the commandment more insisted on than any other, foreseeing the people's addictedness to that sin, so Christ, foreseeing the addictedness of the Christian church to uncharitableness, has laid most stress upon this precept.
(2.) These things I command you, Joh_15:17. He speaks as if he were about to give them many things in charge, and yet names this only, that you love one another; not only because this includes many duties, but because it will have a good influence upon all.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
"...we allow that man has choice and that it is self-determined, so that if he does anything evil, it should be imputed to him and to his own voluntary choosing. We do away with coercion and force, because this contradicts the nature of the will and cannot coexist with it. We deny that choice is free, because through man's innate wickedness it is of necessity driven to what is evil and cannot seek anything but evil. And from this it is possible to deduce what a great difference there is between necessity and coercion. For we do not say that man is dragged unwillingly into sinning, but that because his will is corrupt he is held captive under the yoke of sin and therefore of necessity will in an evil way. For where there is bondage, there is necessity. But it makes a great difference whether the bondage is voluntary or coerced. We locate the necessity to sin precisely in corruption of the will, from which follows that it is self-determined.
John Calvin from Bondage and Liberation of the Will, pg. 69-70
Saturday, July 14, 2007
“If thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.”
- Exodus 20:25
God’s altar was to be built of unhewn stones, that no trace of human skill or labour might be seen upon it. Human wisdom delights to trim and arrange the doctrines of the cross into a system more artificial and more congenial with the depraved tastes of fallen nature; instead, however, of improving the gospel carnal wisdom pollutes it, until it becomes another gospel, and not the truth of God at all. All alterations and amendments of the Lord’s own Word are defilements and pollutions. The proud heart of man is very anxious to have a hand in the justification of the soul before God; preparations for Christ are dreamed of, humblings and repentings are trusted in, good works are cried up, natural ability is much vaunted, and by all means the attempt is made to lift up human tools upon the divine altar. It were well if sinners would remember that so far from perfecting the Saviour’s work, their carnal confidences only pollute and dishonour it. The Lord alone must be exalted in the work of atonement, and not a single mark of man’s chisel or hammer will be endured. There is an inherent blasphemy in seeking to add to what Christ Jesus in His dying moments declared to be finished, or to improve that in which the Lord Jehovah finds perfect satisfaction. Trembling sinner, away with thy tools, and fall upon thy knees in humble supplication; and accept the Lord Jesus to be the altar of thine atonement, and rest in him alone.
Many professors may take warning from this morning’s text as to the doctrines which they believe. There is among Christians far too much inclination to square and reconcile the truths of revelation; this is a form of irreverence and unbelief, let us strive against it, and receive truth as we find it; rejoicing that the doctrines of the Word are unhewn stones, and so are all the more fit to build an altar for the Lord.
“As it began to dawn, came Magdalene, to see the sepulchre.”
- Matthew 28:1
Let us learn from Mary Magdalene how to obtain fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Notice how she sought. She sought the Saviour very early in the morning. If thou canst wait for Christ, and be patient in the hope of having fellowship with him at some distant season, thou wilt never have fellowship at all; for the heart that is fitted for communion is a hungering and a thirsting heart. She sought him also with very great boldness. Other disciples fled from the sepulchre, for they trembled and were amazed; but Mary, it is said, “stood” at the sepulchre. If you would have Christ with you, seek him boldly. Let nothing hold you back. Defy the world. Press on where others flee. She sought Christ faithfully-she stood at the sepulchre. Some find it hard to stand by a living Saviour, but she stood by a dead one. Let us seek Christ after this mode, cleaving to the very least thing that has to do with him, remaining faithful though all others should forsake him. Note further, she sought Jesus earnestly-she stood “weeping”. Those tear-droppings were as spells that led the Saviour captive, and made him come forth and show himself to her. If you desire Jesus’ presence, weep after it! If you cannot be happy unless he come and say to you, “Thou art my beloved,” you will soon hear his voice. Lastly, she sought the Saviour only. What cared she for angels, she turned herself back from them; her search was only for her Lord. If Christ be your one and only love, if your heart has cast out all rivals, you will not long lack the comfort of his presence. Mary Magdalene sought thus because she loved much. Let us arouse ourselves to the same intensity of affection; let our heart, like Mary’s, be full of Christ, and our love, like hers, will be satisfied with nothing short of himself. O Lord, reveal thyself to us this evening!
Friday, July 13, 2007
(Read by Max McLean. Provided by Zondervan.)
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When I am alone and weak, I still trust and love. He is my Refuge and my Rock- nothing is going to happen to me, as long as His Promises are true.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
(Read by Max McLean. Provided by Zondervan.)
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So help me Lord to understand and to obey, to see and to accept, to suffer and to endure.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
by Jack Graham
The story of Noah and the flood is a wonderful illustration of how Christ has saved us.
First, the Bible tells us in 2 Peter 2:5 that God saved Noah and his family from the judgment of the flood by means of the ark. The ark was a type of Christ, who is the ark of our salvation, saving us from the flood waters of sin and death.
Second, just as Noah’s ark preserved him and his family in safety, so Christ keeps us in safety when our trust is in Him.
Third, the ark was both divine and earthly. It was divine because the Lord commanded Noah to build it, but it was also made of earthly substance. This is a picture of Jesus Christ, who was divine and yet man.
Fourth, the ark was sufficient for Noah and his family, all of the animals, and all of the food and supplies necessary to meet their needs. This is a picture of how the Lord is sufficient for everything we need.
Finally, the ark was kept safe during the 40-day storm. No matter how hard the waves tossed and battered it, the ark remained intact and strong. This is a wonderful picture of our security in Christ, once we have accepted Him as Savior. No matter how we may be battered by the storms of life, we are safe and sound in Christ.
You may know the story of Noah and the ark, but I hope you see it in a new light today as a beautiful picture of what we have in Christ. And that you will take time to thank God for all He has given you in Christ!
THE ARK IS A BEAUTIFUL PICTURE OF THE SALVATION WE HAVE IN CHRIST.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
This is exactly why I like John Piper so much. He always speaks the truth, even if the truth is politically incorrect and may offend someone who deserves to be offended. It is high time someone spoke these words. Listen to the preacher.
Monday, July 09, 2007
by Robert Murray McCheyne
What God Has Done, and the Returns Made (Isaiah 5:4).
Edinburgh, February 27, 1839.
TO all of you, my dear flock, who are washed and sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God, your pastor again wishes grace, mercy, and peace.
This is now the fifth time I am permitted by God to write to you. If you are not wearied, it is pleasant and refreshing to me. I wish to be like Epaphras (Col. 4:12): “Always laboring fervently for you in prayer, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” When I am hindered by God from laboring for you in any other way, it is my heart’s joy to labor for you thus. When Dr. Scott of Greenock, a good and holy minister, was laid aside by old age from preaching for some years before his death, he used to say, “I can do nothing for my people now but pray for them, and sometimes I feel that I can do that.” This is what I also love to feel. Often I am like Amelia Geddie, who lived in the time of the Covenanters, and of whom I used to tell you. The great part of my time is taken up with bringing my heart into tune for prayer; but when the blessed Spirit does help my infirmities, it is my greatest joy to lay myself and you, my flock, in His hand, and to pray that God may yet make “the vine to flourish and the pomegranate to bud.”
If you turn to Isaiah 5:4, you will find these affecting words: “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I look that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?”
Consider these words, my dear people, and may the Spirit breathe over them that they may savingly impress your souls. These words are God’s pathetic lamentation over His ancient people, when He thought of all that He had done for them, and of the sad return which they made to Him. We have come into the place of Israel; the natural branches of the good olive tree have been broken off, and we have been grafted in. All the advantages God gave to Israel are now enjoyed by us; and ah! has not God occasion to take up the same lamentation over us, that we have brought forth only wild grapes? I would wish every one of you seriously to consider what more God could have done to save your soul that He has not done. But, ah! consider again whether you have borne grapes, or only wild grapes.
First, consider how much God has done to save your souls. He has provided a great Savior, and a great salvation. He did not give man or angel, but the Creator of all to be the substitute for sinners. His blood is precious blood. His righteousness is the righteousness of God; and now “to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5). Most precious word! Give up your toil, self–justifying soul. You have gone from mountain to hill; you have forgotten your resting place; change your plan: work not, but believe on Him that justifieth the ungodly. Believe the record that God hath given concerning His Son. A glorious, all–perfect, all–divine Surety is laid down at your feet. He is within your reach—He is nigh thee: take Him and live; refuse Him and perish! “What could have been done more for my vineyard, that I have not done in it?”
Second, again, consider the ordinances God has given you. He has made you into a vineyard. Scotland is of all lands the most like God’s ancient Israel. How wonderfully has God planted and maintained godly ministers in this land, from the time of Knox to the present day! He has divided the whole land into parishes; even on the barren hills of our country He has planted the choicest vine. Hundreds of godly laborers He has sent to gather out the stones of it. God has done this for you also. He has built a tower in the midst of you. Have you not seen His own hand fencing you round, building a gospel tower in the midst of you, and a gospel wine press therein? And has He not sent me among you, who am less than the least of all the members of Christ, and yet “determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified?” Has not the Spirit of God been sometimes present in our sanctuary? Have not some hearts been filled there with gladness more than in the time that their corn and wine increased? Have not some hearts tasted there the “love that is better than wine?” “What could have been done more for my vineyard, that I have not done in it?”
Now let me ask, what fruit have we borne—grapes or wild grapes? Ah, I fear the most can show nothing but wild grapes. If God looks down upon us as a parish, what does He see? Are there not still a thousand souls utter strangers to the house of God? How many does His holy eye now rest upon who are seldom in the house of prayer, who neglect it in the forenoon! How many who frequent the tavern on the Sabbath day! Oh! why do they bring forth wild grapes? If God looks upon you as families, what does He see? How many prayerless families! How often, as I passed your windows, late at eve or at early dawn, have I listened for the melody of psalms, and listened all in vain! God also has listened, but still in vain.
How many careless parents does His pure eye see among you, who will one day, if you turn not, meet your neglected children in an eternal hell! How many undutiful children! How many unfaithful servants! Ah! why such a vineyard of wild grapes? If God looks on you as individual souls, how many does He see that were never awakened to real concern about your souls! How many that never shed a tear for your perishing souls! How many that were never driven to pray! How many that know not what it is to bend the knee! How many that have no uptaking of Christ, and are yet coldhearted and at ease! How many does God know among you that have never laid hold of the only sure covenant! How many that have no “peace in believing,” and yet cry, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace!” (Jer. 8:11). How many does God see among you who have no change of heart and life, who are given up to the sins of the flesh and of the mind! And yet you “bless yourself in your heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my heart, to add drunkenness to thirst” (Deut. 29:19).
Ah! why do you thus bring forth wild grapes? “Your vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: your grapes are grapes of gall, your clusters are bitter” (Deut. 32:32). Ah! remember you will blame yourselves to all eternity for your own undoing. God washes His hands of your destruction. What could have been done more for you that God has not done? I take you all to record this day, if I should never speak to you again, that I am pure from the blood of you all. Oh barren fig trees, planted in God’s vineyard, the Lord has been digging at your roots; and if ye bear fruit, well; if not, then ye shall be cut down (Luke 13:6–9).
Now I turn for a moment to you who are God’s children. I am persuaded better things of you, my dearly beloved, and things that accompany salvation, though I thus speak. Yet what need is there, in these trying times, to search your heart and life, and ask what fruit does God find in me?
What fruit of self–abasement is there in you? Have you found out the evil of your connection with the first Adam (Rom. 5:19)? Do you know the plagues of your own heart (1 Kings 8:38)? the hell of corruption that is there (Jer. 17:9)? Do you feel you have never lived one moment to His glory (Rom. 3:25)? Do you feel that to all eternity you never can be justified by anything in yourself (Rev. 7:14)?
Consider, again, what fruit there is of believing in you. Have you really and fully taken up Christ as the gospel lays Him down (John 5:12)? Do you cleave to Him as a sinner (1 Tim. 1:15)? Do you count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Him (Matt. 9:9)? Do you feel the glory of His person (Rev. 1:17)? His finished work (Heb. 9:26)? His offices (1 Cor. 1:30)? Does He shine like the sun into your soul (Mal. 4:2)? Is your heart ravished with His beauty (Song 5:16)?
Again, what fruit is there in you of crying after holiness? Is this the one thing you do (Phil. 3:13)? Do you spend your life in cries for deliverance from this body of sin and death (Rom. 7:24)? Ah! I fear there is little of this. The most of God’s people are contented to be saved from the hell that is without. They are not so anxious to be saved from the hell that is within. I fear there is little feeling of your need of the indwelling Spirit. I fear you do not know “the exceeding greatness of his power” to usward who believe. I fear many of you are strangers to the visits of the Comforter. God has reason to complain of you, “Wherefore should they bring forth wild grapes?”
Again, what fruit is there of actual likeness to God in you? Do you love to be much with God—“to climb up near to God (Gen. 5:22)—to love, and long, and plead, and wrestle, and stretch after Him?” 4Are you weaned from the world (Ps. 131)—from its praise, from its hatred, from its scorn? Do you give yourselves clean away to God (2 Cor. 8:5)—and all that is yours? Are you willing that your will should be lost in His great will? Do you throw yourselves into the arms of God for time and for eternity? Oh, search your hearts and try them; ask God to do it for you, and “to lead you in the way everlasting”! (Ps. 139:23, 24).
I am deeply afraid that many of us may be like the fig tree by the wayside, on which the hungry Savior expected to find fruit, and He found none. Ah! we have been an ungrateful vine, minister and people! What more could God have done for us? Sunshine and shade, rain and wind, have all been given us; goodness and severity have both been tried with us; yet what has been returned to Him? Have curses or praises been the louder rising from our parish to heaven? Does our parish more resemble the garden of the Lord, or the howling wilderness? Is there more of the perpetual incense of believing prayer, or the “smoke in God’s nose” of hypocrisy and broken sacraments?
I write not these things to shame you, but as “my beloved sons I warn you.” If there be some among you, and some there are, who are growing up like the lily, casting forth their roots like Lebanon, and bearing fruit with patience, remember “the Lord loveth the righteous.” He that tells the number of the stars takes pleasure in you. “The Lord taketh pleasure in his people; he will beautify the meek with salvation.” Keep yourselves in the love of God. Go carefully through all the steps of your effectual calling a second time.
The Lord give you daily faith. Seek to have a large heart. Pray for me, that a door of utterance may be opened to me. Remember my bonds. Pray that I may utterly renounce myself, that I may be willing to do and to suffer all His will up to the latest breath.
May you all obtain mercy of the Lord now, and in that day to which we are hastening. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with your spirits. Amen.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
(Read by Max McLean. Provided by Zondervan.)
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And that is the essence of Christianity - to believe in God's protection over any human one, including your own. Or - in other words - to be in Him for everything, all the time.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
I became a mother rather late in life, when I honestly did not expect it to happen. I was 34 when my first pregnancy occurred, but this one was quickly over, lots of tears, despair and sadness following it, and an excruciatingly difficult procedure in a hospital. They called it "missed abortion", and what it means is simply that the fetus died at a very early stage and had to be removed.
Our first son was born two years later, and our second one five years and two weeks after the first one. You can count the years yourselves... The oldest son is now 9.5 years old.
The children are growing and leaving more and more space for my personal life. The baby time is over, the sleepless nights are history, and I finally have space to develop my own world once again. But everything is different this side of parenthood.
Before becoming a parent I lived a pretty happy-go-lucky lifestyle, tending only to me and my husband, who pretty much was taking care of himself. Children changed everything, throwing me from my own pedestal and making me put them on it. Children are demanding, selfish and precious. They are pretty, too, luckily for them, because life with children is not always pretty itself.
Anyway - as I look at it today - my life changed and became enriched, first by changing the focus of my priorities, and later by multiplying the points of view and needs by 3, plus my husband's.
My sons are growing and putting on their own personalities more and more. They simply are individuals with their own lives, interests and longings. At the same time, their lives are intertwined with my life, closer at some points, and more casually at some others. The connections will loosen up, children will become adults, and the separation is unavoidable some day. What I pray for is that there still will be some thread between us, some connection between me and them, in form of a word or of a gesture, in a form of some subliminal understanding, the likeness of spirit, LOVE.
What I also pray for is that they will know God and give their lives to Him. This pedestal thing - it is no longer me, and no longer my children on it - the Honor and Glory is only to Christ. For in Him and by Him we live and prosper, and to Him we are going. Children and parents, all.
Friday, July 06, 2007
THAT WHICH IS TO COME;
DELIVERED UNDER THE SIMILTUDE OF A DREAM.
THE AUTHOR'S APOLOGY
FOR HIS BOOK
WHEN at the first I took my pen in hand
Thus for to write, I did not understand
That I at all should make a little book
In such a mode: nay, I had undertook
To make another which, when almost done,
Before I was aware I this begun.
And thus it was: I, writing of the way
And race of saints in this our gospel-day,
Fell suddenly into an allegory
About their journey, and the way to glory,
In more than twenty things which I set down
This done, I twenty more had in my crown,
And they again began to multiply,
Like sparks that from the coals of fire do fly.
Nay, then, thought I, if that you breed so fast,
I'll put you by yourselves, lest you at last
Should prove ad infinitum, and eat out
The book that I already am about.
Well, so I did but yet I did not think
To show to all the world my pen and ink
In such a mode I only thought to make
I knew not what: nor did I undertake
Thereby to please my neighbor no, not I
I did it my own self to gratify.
Neither did I but vacant seasons spend
In this my scribble nor did I intend
But to divert myself, in doing this,
From worser thoughts, which make me do amiss.
Thus I set pen to paper with delight,
And quickly had my thoughts in black and white
For having now my method by the end,
Still as I pull'd, it came and so I penned
It down until it came at last to be,
For length and breadth, the bigness which you see.
Well, when I had thus put mine ends together
I show'd them others, that I might see whether
They would condemn them, or them justify:
And some said, let them live some, let them die:
Some said, John, print it others said, Not so:
Some said, It might do good others said, No.
Now was I in a strait, and did not see
Which was the best thing to be done by me:
At last I thought, Since ye are thus divided,
I print it will and so the case decided.
For, thought I, some I see would have it done,
Though others in that channel do not run:
To prove, then, who advised for the best,
Thus I thought fit to put it to the test.
I further thought, if now I did deny
Those that would have it, thus to gratify
I did not know, but hinder them I might
Of that which would to them be great delight.
For those which were not for its coming forth,
I said to them, Offend you, I am loath
Yet since your brethren pleased with it be,
Forbear to judge, till you do further see.
If that thou wilt not read, let it alone
Some love the meat, some love to pick the bone.
Yea, that I might them better palliate,
I did too with them thus expostulate:
May I not write in such a style as this?
In such a method too, and yet not miss
My end-thy good? Why may it not be done?
Dark clouds bring waters, when the bright bring none.
Yea, dark or bright, if they their silver drops
Cause to descend, the earth, by yielding crops,
Gives praise to both, and carpeth not at either,
But treasures up the fruit they yield together
Yea, so commixes both, that in their fruit
None can distinguish this from that they suit
Her well when hungry but if she be full,
She spews out both, and makes their blessing null.
You see the ways the fisherman doth take
To catch the fish what engines doth he make!
Behold how he engageth all his wits
Also his snares, lines, angles, hooks, and nets:
Yet fish there be, that neither hook nor line,
Nor snare, nor net, nor engine can make thine:
They must be groped for, and be tickled too,
Or they will not be catch'd, whate'er you do.
How does the fowler seek to catch his game
By divers means! all which one cannot name.
His guns, his nets, his lime-twigs, light and bell:
He creeps, he goes, he stands yea, who can tell
Of all his postures? yet there's none of these
Will make him master of what fowls he please.
Yea, he must pipe and whistle, to catch this
Yet if he does so, that bird he will miss.
If that a pearl may in toad's head dwell,
And may be found too in an oyster-shell
If things that promise nothing, do contain
What better is than gold who will disdain,
That have an inkling of it, there to look,
That they may find it. Now my little book,
(Though void of all these paintings that may make
It with this or the other man to take,)
Is not without those things that do excel
What do in brave but empty notions dwell.
“Well, yet I am not fully satisfied
That this your book will stand, when soundly tried.”
Why, what's the matter? “It is dark.” What though?
“But it is feigned.” What of that? I trow
Some men by feigned words, as dark as mine,
Make truth to spangle, and its rays to shine.
“But they want solidness.” Speak, man, thy mind.
“They drown the weak metaphors make us blind.”
Solidity, indeed, becomes the pen
Of him that writeth things divine to men:
But must I needs want solidness, because
By metaphors I speak? Were not God's laws,
His gospel laws, in olden time held forth
By types, shadows, and metaphors? Yet loth
Will any sober man be to find fault
With them, lest he be found for to assault
The highest wisdom! No, he rather stoops,
And seeks to find out what, by pins and loops,
By calves and sheep, by heifers, and by rams,
By birds and herbs, and by the blood of lambs,
God speaketh to him and happy is he
That finds the light and grace that in them be.
But not too forward, therefore, to conclude
That I want solidness—that I am rude
All things solid in show, not solid be
All things in parable despise not we,
Lest things most hurtful lightly we receive,
And things that good are, of our souls bereave.
My dark and cloudy words they do but hold
The truth, as cabinets inclose the gold.
The prophets used much by metaphors
To set forth truth: yea, who so considers
Christ, his apostles too, shall plainly see,
That truths to this day in such mantles be.
Am I afraid to say, that holy writ,
Which for its style and phrase puts down all wit,
Is everywhere so full of all these things,
Dark figures, allegories? Yet there springs
From that same book, that lustre, and those rays
Of light, that turn our darkest nights to days.
Come, let my carper to his life now look,
And find there darker lines than in my book
He findeth any yea, and let him know,
That in his best things there are worse lines too.
May we but stand before impartial men,
To his poor one I durst adventure ten,
That they will take my meaning in these lines
Far better than his lies in silver shrines.
Come, truth, although in swaddling-clothes, I find
Informs the judgment, rectifies the mind
Pleases the understanding, makes the will
Submit, the memory too it doth fill
With what doth our imagination please
Likewise it tends our troubles to appease.
Sound words, I know, Timothy is to use,
And old wives' fables he is to refuse
But yet grave Paul him nowhere doth forbid
The use of parables, in which lay hid
That gold, those pearls, and precious stones that were
Worth digging for, and that with greatest care.
Let me add one word more. O man of God,
Art thou offended? Dost thou wish I had
Put forth my matter in another dress?
Or that I had in things been more express?
Three things let me propound then I submit
To those that are my betters, as is fit.
1. I find not that I am denied the use
Of this my method, so I no abuse
Put on the words, things, readers, or be rude
In handling figure or similitude,
In application but all that I may
Seek the advance of truth this or that way.
Denied, did I say? Nay, I have leave,
(Example too, and that from them that have
God better pleased, by their words or ways,
Than any man that breatheth now-a-days,)
Thus to express my mind, thus to declare
Things unto thee that excellentest are.
2. I find that men as high as trees will write
Dialogue-wise yet no man doth them slight
For writing so. Indeed, if they abuse
Truth, cursed be they, and the craft they use
To that intent but yet let truth be free
To make her sallies upon thee and me,
Which way it pleases God: for who knows how,
Better than he that taught us first to plough,
To guide our minds and pens for his designs?
And he makes base things usher in divine.
3. I find that holy writ, in many places,
Hath semblance with this method, where the cases
Do call for one thing to set forth another:
Use it I may then, and yet nothing smother
Truth's golden beams: nay, by this method may
Make it cast forth its rays as light as day.
And now, before I do put up my pen,
I'll show the profit of my book and then
Commit both thee and it unto that hand
That pulls the strong down, and makes weak ones stand.
This book it chalketh out before thine eyes
The man that seeks the everlasting prize:
It shows you whence he comes, whither he goes,
What he leaves undone also what he does:
It also shows you how he runs, and runs,
Till he unto the gate of glory comes.
It shows, too, who set out for life amain,
As if the lasting crown they would obtain
Here also you may see the reason why
They lose their labor, and like fools do die.
This book will make a traveler of thee,
If by its counsel thou wilt ruled be
It will direct thee to the Holy Land,
If thou wilt its directions understand
Yea, it will make the slothful active be
The blind also delightful things to see.
Art thou for something rare and profitable?
Or would'st thou see a truth within a fable?
Art thou forgetful? Wouldest thou remember
From New-Year's day to the last of December?
Then read my fancies they will stick like burs,
And may be, to the helpless, comforters.
This book is writ in such a dialect
As may the minds of listless men affect:
It seems a novelty, and yet contains
Nothing but sound and honest gospel strains.
Would'st thou divert thyself from melancholy?
Would'st thou be pleasant, yet be far from folly?
Would'st thou read riddles, and their explanation?
Or else be drowned in thy contemplation?
Dost thou love picking meat? Or would'st thou see
A man i' the clouds, and hear him speak to thee?
Would'st thou be in a dream, and yet not sleep?
Or would'st thou in a moment laugh and weep?
Would'st thou lose thyself and catch no harm,
And find thyself again without a charm?
Would'st read thyself, and read thou know'st not what,
And yet know whether thou art blest or not,
By reading the same lines? O then come hither,
And lay my book, thy head, and heart together.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
(Read by Max McLean. Provided by Zondervan.)
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Do we? Or is it only lip service to us?
It says "above yourselves". Very, very significant, I have never seen this exactly like that. But now I will...
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
None of those factors are necessarily wrong to consider. The issue is: What should churches primarily be known for? What should stand out most in a church you’d want to call home?
Amid all the options and competing priorities, the Bible speaks clearly as ever. John MacArthur’s What to Look for in a Church lays out just what the title says, and it shows you how God blesses churches that follow His blueprint. Delivered to a group of college students but applicable to believers of every age, this study can help guide you to a church you can call home--or encourage you that you’re already there!
Great message in 4 parts, i have just finished listening to it on my iPod. Dazzling really, that is why I recommend it with all my heart. And If you are the first-time customer at www.gty.org, you may get this message for free.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
by John Piper
Following this weekend’s sermon entitled “Single in Christ: A Better Name Than Sons and Daughters,” Pastor John received a letter asking, “If what you say about the blessing of singleness is true, then why would one even want to be married?” Here is his response.
You ask: “What is at all compelling about marriage? Why would we even want to be married?”
The “compelling” comes only from the right combination of internal realities and objective truths about God’s design for marriage. When the right combination is not there, marriage is not compelling and should not be. I would say the same thing about singleness.
The objective truths about marriage are primarily God’s design:
1. To display his covenant keeping love between Christ and the church,
2. To sanctify the couple with the peculiar pains and pleasures of marriage,
3. To beget and rear a generation of white-hot worshippers, and
4. And to channel good sexual desire into holy paths and transpose it into worshipful foretastes of heaven’s pleasures.
That is a high calling, but it is only compelling if it meets with internal longings for God that lean strongly into these designs.
The objective truths about singleness are also primarily God’s design:
1. To display the spiritual nature of God’s family that grows from regeneration and faith, not procreation and sex,
2. To sanctify the single with the peculiar pains and pleasures of singleness,
3. To capture more of the single’s life for non-domestic ministry that is so desperately needed in the world,
4. And to magnify the all-satisfying worth of Christ that sustains life-long chastity.
That is a high calling, but it is only compelling if it meets with internal longings for God that lean strongly into these designs.
There is more to marriage and singleness than I have mentioned. But the point is to show that neither I nor the Bible means to say that either is compelling in and of themselves. That is why Paul says, “One has one gift and one another” (1 Corinthians 7:7). I think he means: The internal reality of one person finds one of these powerfully compelling and the internal reality of another finds another powerfully compelling. And I would add: This can change from one season to another.
I don’t know which holds out more joys and more hardships. There is no way to know ahead of time, it seems to me. We Christians don’t make our choices that way anyway. This would be clear if all singles not only heard the wedding vows, “For better or for worse,” but also heard the same words written over singleness: “For better or for worse.” Marriage may prove to be gloriously happy, or painfully disappointing. Singleness may prove to be gloriously satisfying or painfully disappointing. Only God knows which it will be for you.
So in the end, your heart really matters. Objectively, we cannot know ahead of time whether marriage or singleness will sanctify us more or honor God more. Does the internal reality of our heart lean us into the designs of marriage or the designs of singleness? That is a huge question and one that only the heart can answer. But it should be a heart well-formed with much Bible and much prayer and much maturity through life and counsel of friends and family.
That’s my best effort. Thanks for caring about being devoted to Christ above all.
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.
Monday, July 02, 2007
CHARLES H. SPURGEON
WHY IS FAITH SELECTED as the channel of salvation? No doubt this inquiry is often made. “By grace are ye saved through faith” is assuredly the doctrine of Holy Scripture and the ordinance of God, but why is it so? Why is faith selected rather than hope, or love, or patience?
It becomes us to be modest in answering such a question, for God’s ways are not always to be understood; nor are we allowed presumptuously to question them. Humbly we would reply that, as far as we can tell, faith has been selected as the channel of grace because there is a natural adaptation in faith to be used as the receiver. Suppose that I am about to give a poor man an alms: I put it into his hand—why? Well, it would hardly be fitting to put it into his ear or to lay it on his foot; the hand seems made on purpose to receive. So, in our mental frame, faith is created on purpose to be a receiver. It is the hand of the man, and there is a fitness in receiving grace by its means.
Do let me put this very plainly. Faith which receives Christ is as simple an act as when your child receives an apple from you because you hold it out and promise to give him the apple if he comes for it. The belief and the receiving relate only to an apple, but they make up precisely the same act as the faith which deals with eternal salvation. What the child’s hand is to the apple, that your faith is to the perfect salvation of Christ. The child’s hand does not make the apple nor improve the apple nor deserve the apple; it only takes it; and faith is chosen by God to be the receiver of salvation because it does not pretend to create salvation nor to help in it, but it is content humbly to receive it. “Faith is the tongue that begs pardon, the hand which receives it, and the eye which sees it; but it is not the price which buys it.” Faith never makes herself her own plea; she rests all her argument upon the blood of Christ. She becomes a good servant to bring the riches of the Lord Jesus to the soul because she acknowledges whence she drew them and owns that grace alone entrusted her with them.
Faith, again, is doubtless selected because it gives all the glory to God. It is of faith that it might be by grace, and it is of grace that there might be no boasting; for God cannot endure pride. “The proud he knoweth afar off,” and He has no wish to come nearer to them. He will not give salvation in a way which will suggest or foster pride. Paul says, “Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Now, faith excludes all boasting. The hand which receives charity does not say, “I am to be thanked for accepting the gift”; that would be absurd. When the hand conveys bread to the mouth, it does not say to the body, “Thank me; for I feed you.” It is a very simple thing that the hand does, though a very necessary thing; and it never arrogates glory to itself for what it does. So God has selected faith to receive the unspeakable gift of His grace because it cannot take to itself any credit but must adore the gracious God who is the giver of all good. Faith sets the crown on the right head; and therefore the Lord Jesus was wont to put the crown on the head of faith, saying, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”
Next, God selects faith as the channel of salvation because it is a sure method, linking man with God. When man confides in God, there is a point of union between them, and that union guarantees blessing. Faith saves us because it makes us cling to God and so brings us into connection with Him. I have often used the following illustration, but I must repeat it because I cannot think of a better. I am told that years ago a boat was upset above the falls of Niagara, and two men were being carried down the current, when persons on the shore managed to float a rope out to them, which rope was seized by them both. One of them held fast to it and was safely drawn to the bank; but the other, seeing a great log come floating by, unwisely let go the rope and clung to the log; for it was the bigger thing of the two, and apparently better to cling to. Alas! the log with the man on it went right over the vast abyss because there was no union between the log and the shore. The size of the log was no benefit to him who grasped it; it needed a connection with the shore to produce safety. So when a man trusts to his works, or to sacraments, or to anything of that sort, he will not be saved because there is no junction between him and Christ; but faith, though it may seem to be like a slender cord, is in the hands of the great God on the shore side; infinite power pulls in the connecting line and thus draws the man from destruction. Oh, the blessedness of faith, because it unites us to God!
Faith is chosen again because it touches the springs of action. Even in common things, faith of a certain sort lies at the root of all. I wonder whether I will be wrong if I say that we never do anything except through faith of some sort. If I walk across my study, it is because I believe my legs will carry me. A man eats because he believes in the necessity of food; he goes to business because he believes in the value of money; he accepts a check because he believes that the bank will honor it. Columbus discovered America because he believed that there was another continent beyond the ocean; and the Pilgrim Fathers colonized it because they believed that God would be with them on those rocky shores. Most grand deeds have been born of faith; for good or for evil, faith works wonders by the man in whom it dwells. Faith in its natural form is an all–prevailing force, which enters into all manner of human actions. Possibly he who derides faith in God is the man who in an evil form has the most of faith; indeed, he usually falls into a credulity which would be ridiculous, if it were not disgraceful. God gives salvation to faith because, by creating faith in us, He thus touches the real mainspring of our emotions and actions. He has, so to speak, taken possession of the battery; and now He can send the sacred current to every part of our nature. When we believe in Christ and the heart has come into the possession of God, then we are saved from sin and are moved toward repentance, holiness, zeal, prayer, consecration, and every other gracious thing. “What oil is to the wheels, what weights are to a clock, what wings are to a bird, what sails are to a ship, that faith is to all holy duties and services.” Have faith, and all other graces will follow and continue to hold their course.
Faith, again, has the power of working by love; it influences the affections toward God and draws the heart after the best things. He who believes in God will beyond all question love God. Faith is an act of the understanding, but it also proceeds from the heart. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness”; and hence God gives salvation to faith because it resides next door to the affections and is near akin to love; and love is the parent and the nurse of every holy feeling and act. Love to God is obedience; love to God is holiness. To love God and to love man is to be conformed to the image of Christ; and this is salvation.
Moreover, faith creates peace and joy; he who has it rests and is tranquil, is glad and joyous; and this is a preparation for heaven. God gives all heavenly gifts to faith, for this reason among others, that faith works in us the life and spirit which are to be eternally manifested in the upper and better world. Faith furnishes us with armor for this life and education for the life to come. It enables a man both to live and to die without fear; it prepares both for action and for suffering; and hence the Lord selects it as a most convenient medium for conveying grace to us and thereby securing us for glory.
Certainly faith does for us what nothing else can do; it gives us joy and peace and causes us to enter into rest. Why do men attempt to gain salvation by other means? An old preacher says, “A silly servant who is bidden to open a door sets his shoulder to it and pushes with all his might, but the door stirs not; and he cannot enter, use what strength he may. Another comes with a key and easily unlocks the door and enters right readily. Those who would be saved by works are pushing at heaven’s gate without result; but faith is the key which opens the gate at once.” Reader, will you not use that key? The Lord commands you to believe in His dear Son; therefore you may do so, and doing so you shall live. Is this not the promise of the gospel, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”? (Mark 16:16). What can be your objection to a way of salvation which commends itself to the mercy and the wisdom of our gracious God?