Archive for November, 2009

Thanksgiving

Posted: November 29, 2009 in Quotes

“Gratitude happens when you take to heart a good gift that brings you great pleasure.”

-David Powlison, Thankful People.

“The more absorbed I am in the gospel, the more grateful I become in the midst of my circumstances, whatever they may be…. When I look at any circumstance that God apportions me, I am first grateful for the wrath I am not receiving in that moment… Second, I am grateful for the blessings that are given to me instead of His wrath (Life’s blessings, however small, always appear exceedingly precious when viewed against the backdrop of the wrath I deserve.) This two-layered gratitude disposes my heart to give thanks in all things (1 Thess 5:18) and it also lends a certain intensity to my giving of thanks. Such a gospel-generated gratitude glorifies God, contributes to peace of mind (Phil 4:6-7), and keeps my foot from the path of foolishness and ruin (Rom 1:21-22, 28-29).

-Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians.

“To be bursting with thanksgiving is a true witness of the Spirit within us. For the voice of thanksgiving speaks without ceasing of the goodness of God. It claims nothing. It sees no merit in man’s receiving but only in God’s giving. It marvels at his mercy. It is the language of joy because it need look no longer to its own resources.

The Christian rejoicing in this blessing of a thankful heart will have his eyes fixed upon the right person and the right place, Christ at God’s right hand. He cannot be taken up with himself without being immediately reminded that everything he possesses is the gift of God.”

—R.C. Lucas, The Message of Colossians and Philemon

(HT: Of First Importance)


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Ed Welch on Addiction

Posted: November 20, 2009 in Sin

A short video posted by CCEF (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation):

“CCEF faculty member Ed Welch talks about how addictions bring us to a crossroads in life. Only Christ can help us make the right turn. An introduction to his small group curriculumCrossroads: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Addiction available through New Growth Press (http://newgrowthpress.com)”

Sympathize With One Another

Posted: November 13, 2009 in Ministry, Sanctification

the-good-samaritan21Some of the most meaningful moments in my life have come when others have shown me sympathy or compassion. When others have gone out of their way to meet me where I’m at and help me with my present needs, my heart has been impacted  in many ways. In fact, one of the marks of a true Christian is treating others feelings and situations as more important than their own.

Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” and Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” In essence Paul is saying in these two passages that loving someone means sympathizing with them in many different ways. So, the Christian is called to holistically love others by putting others needs above their own, by treating others as you would treat yourself (see the Parable of the Good Samaritan [Lk. 10:25-37]).

Showing compassion and mercy is not easy, it is actually very counter intuitive. But by God’s grace let’s strive to be people of sympathy, mercy, and love as we are conformed more and more to the image of Christ.

Below is John Calvin’s Commentary on Romans 12:15 (verse is above), I thought it was good and helpful:

A general truth is in the third place laid down, — that the faithful, regarding each other with mutual affection, are to consider the condition of others as their own. He first specifies two particular things, — That they were to “rejoice with the joyful, and to weep with the weeping.” For such is the nature of true love, that one prefers to weep with his brother, rather than to look at a distance on his grief, and to live in pleasure or ease. What is meant then is, — that we, as much as possible, ought to sympathize with one another, and that, whatever our lot may be, each should transfer to himself the feeling of another, whether of grief in adversity, or of joy in prosperity. And, doubtless, not to regard with joy the happiness of a brother is envy; and not to grieve for his misfortunes is inhumanity. Let there be such a sympathy among us as may at the same time adapt us to all kinds of feelings.”

-John Calvin, Commentary on Romans

Prayerlessness is Unbelief

Posted: November 10, 2009 in Quotes

Some good thoughts on prayer from Kevin DeYoung:

 

Prayer is essential for the Christian, as much for what it says about us as for what it can do through God.  The simple act of getting on our knees (or faces or feet or whatever) for 5 or 50 minutes every day is the surest sign of our humility and dependence on our Father in heaven.  There may be many reasons for our prayerlessness—time management, busyness, lack of concentration—but most fundamentally, we ask not because we think we need not. or we think God can give not.   Deep down we feel secure when we have money in the bank, a healthy report from the doctor, and powerful people on our side.  We do not trust in God alone.  Prayerlessness is an expression of our meager confidence in God’s ability to provide and of our strong confidence in our ability to take care of ourselves without God’s help.

Too often when we struggle with prayer we focus on the wrong things.  We focus on praying better instead of focusing on knowing better the one to whom we pray.  We focus on our need for discipline rather than our need for God.  Almost all of us want to pray more frequently, and yet our lives seem too disordered.  But in God’s mind our messy, chaotic lives are an impetus to prayer instead of an obstacle to prayer.

You don’t need to work and work at discipline nearly as much as you need faith.  You don’t need an ordered life to enable prayer, you need a messy life to drive you to prayer.  You don’t need to have everything in order before you can pray.  You need to know you’re disordered so you will pray.  You don’t need your life to be fixed up.  You need a broken heart.  You need to think to yourself: “Tomorrow is another day that I need God.  I need to know him. I need forgiveness. I need help. I need protection. I need deliverance. I need patience. I need courage. Therefore, I need prayer.”

If you know you are needy and believe that God helps the needy, you will pray.  Conversely, if we seldom pray, the problem goes much deeper than a lack of organization and follow through.  The heart that never talks to God is the heart that trusts in itself and not in the power of God.  Prayerlessness is unbelief.

Prayerfulness, on the other hand is an evidence of humility and faith, which is why God loves it when we pray.”

(HT: Kevin DeYoung)

Perspective

Posted: November 9, 2009 in Gospel

perspective sun

People in general have an inaccurate or just a bad perspective on most things in life. That’s why we have expressions like, “It’s just a game,” “It’s not the end of the world,” or “There are more important things in life than…” If athletes had a good perspective, most of them wouldn’t pound their chest and think they were ‘the man’ because they realized there are more gifted athletes than them. If the 16 year old girl on My Super Sweet Sixteen had a good perspective, she wouldn’t cry when her dad got her a BMW instead of a Mercedes because she would understand that she’s fortunate to even get a car.  If most Americans had a good perspective, they wouldn’t complain about mediocre food because they know that a lot of the world is scrapping for food just to stay alive. The point is simply this: In general, people (including myself) have a hard time putting things into perspective.

So what should shape our perspective on life more than anything else? Is it not the reality of the cross? Is it not the good news that God has sent Christ into the world to save people from their sin? In light of this event in human history, we can gain a true and good perspective on life. Here at the cross we can see how ugly and vile sin is – for nothing short of God’s beloved Son could satisfy his wrath and hatred against sin. Here at the cross we see God’s immeasurable love in giving his Son as a sacrifice to justify his enemies. Here at the cross we see God’s sovereignty and power in his ability to save sinners. At the cross, when truly grasped, people see that they are ill-deserving, but they get grace solely because of God’s goodness through Christ.

Although perspective can be gained in understanding that there are others with more talent than me, or others with less material goods than me, or even that I am only 1 person out of 6,000,000,000 in the world. Ultimate perspective in life can only come through interacting with the marvelous wonder of the cross. When the Spirit soften ones heart to it; thankfulness, humility, and love will over flow in all circumstances because we are starting to see things with the right perspective.

Free E-Book on Discipleship

Posted: November 5, 2009 in Ministry

grow-image-generic

The Resurgence blog posted a free book for download by Winfield Bevins called, Grow: Reproducing Through Organic Discipleship. I’ve only read a little bit of the book, maybe a chapter or so, but it seems very solid. He quotes authors and pastors such as Tim Keller, C.J. Mahaney, C.S. Lewis, Jerry Bridges, and many others. It’s a quick read, about 70 short pages. Check it out if you’re interested.

  1. Download the e-book in PDF format for free

  2. Buy the book

  3. Go to the e-book site

(HT: The Resurgence)

Atonement

Posted: November 2, 2009 in Gospel

I recently watched the movie Atonement. I don’t necessarily recommend the movie, but the premise of the movie was interesting: A 10 year old girl (Briony) wrongly testified against an innocent man (Robbie) by saying that she saw him commit a heinous crime, when she didn’t actually see the man because it was dark. Her older sister (Cecilia) was in love with Robbie and they got ripped apart when he got sent to prison. To make a rather long story short, both Robbie and Cecilia died young and never got a chance for their love to reconnect. Briony realizes her dreadful sin and spends her whole life caring the guilt of her sin. It torments her as she spends her life trying to make atonement for her lie that ruined the lives of two people. The main thing she does is write a novel and change the reality of what happened to Robbie and Cecilia. In her novel, Cecelia and Robbie get back together and live a happy and full life. After a life of trying to right her wrong she knows that it is not enough to change what she did and at one point she says, “No matter how hard I work, I can’t escape from what I did, and what it meant.”

We are a lot like Briony. We want to make amends for our sins by our own doing and working. But we simply cannot make atonement for our own sin because of the holiness of the One we sinned against. Briony realized that she sinned greatly against Robbie and Cecilia, and she did; but the thing she didn’t realize was that her sin was even greater against God, and far more despicable towards God and his Character. The only way we can atone for our sin, is to recognize that we can’t, and trust in the substitutionary atonement of another, namely Jesus Christ. Only his perfect work on our behalf is sufficient to make us right in the eyes of a holy God. Unless we rest in Christ’s finished work, like Briony, we too will spend a life time working to make atonement on our own, which will be in vain.