December 31, 2014

The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.

I have been reading the book Desiring God, by John Piper. This morning I came across a lengthy quote of George Mueller's that I feel compelled to share with you:
While I was staying at Nailsworth, it pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, irrespective of human instrumentality, as far as I know, the benefit of which I have not lost, though now... more than forty years have passed away.

December 27, 2014

unnoticed creepers

Jude is an amazingly compact little letter. There are big ideas and mind-blowing examples. There is so much in there... and such passionate words: Jude is eager, under compulsion, appealing, contending, etc. (and that is just in verse 3!)

I am preaching on a portion of Jude tomorrow, verses 3 and 4. It is a portion that I have become passionate about myself. I am hoping to grab a bit of that passion that Jude clearly was overflowing with, and minister a bit of that to Edgewood tomorrow. I am hoping it is like a shot of adrenaline. I am praying, really praying, like literally... right now... that some in the audience, including myself, will walk away ready to contend for the faith because the Church (not just Edgewood) has certain people who have crept in unnoticed, just like in Jude's day:
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
(Jude 1:3-4 ESV)
These unnoticed creepers are, whether they realize it or not, perverting Grace and denying Christ. I don't want to sound over-dramatic, but I really don't want to sound under-dramatic.

December 20, 2014

The Calvinist by John Piper

The Calvinist by John Piper
See him on his knees,
Hear his constant pleas:
Heart of ev’ry aim:
“Hallowed be Your name.”
See him in the Word,
Helpless, cool, unstirred,
Heaping on the pyre
Heed until the fire.
See him with his books:
Tree beside the brooks,
Drinking at the root
Till the branch bear fruit.
See him with his pen:
Written line, and then,
Better thought preferred,
Deep from in the Word.
See him in the square,
Kept from subtle snare:
Unrelenting sleuth
On the scent of truth.
See him on the street,
Seeking to entreat,
Meek and treasuring:
“Do you know my King?”
See him in dispute,
Firm and resolute,
Driven by the fame
Of his Father’s name.
See him at his trade.
Done. The plan is made.
Men will have his skills,
If the Father wills.
See him at his meal,
Praying now to feel
Thanks and, be it graced,
God in ev’ry taste.
See him with his child:
Has he ever smiled
Such a smile before,
Playing on the floor?
See him with his wife,
Parable for life:
In this sacred scene
She is heaven’s queen.
See him stray. He groans.
“One is true,” he owns.
“What is left to me?
Fallibility.”
See him in lament
“Should I now repent?”
“Yes. And then proclaim:
All is for my fame.”
See him worshipping.
Watch the sinner sing,
Spared the burning flood
Only by the blood.
See him on the shore:
“Whence this ocean store?”
“From your God above,
Thimbleful of love.”
See him now asleep.
Watch the helpless reap
But no credit take,
Just as when awake.
See him nearing death.
Listen to his breath,
Through the ebbing pain:
Final whisper: “Gain!”
Here is this poem being read by many of my favorite authors and speakers...



The Calvinist from Desiring God on Vimeo.

A Manger Scene is on Display

Consider this, my friends today,
    when baby Jesus, in a manger lay:
    that God's glory has been put on display,
    and in a most magnificent way,
    that as a baby, now grown to man,
    he has completed his most glorious plan.
Love can be seen, but with real clarity now,
    not just through, but by pain upon his brow.
    This is how God's love is best displayed,
    when justice met mercy on the cross that day.
    And only through birth and life and death
    did resurrection show its breadth:
Sin and Satan and Death defeated,
    no hold on Christ had they completed,
    now victorious he sits upon a throne
    and we through faith in Christ alone
    by grace are cleansed from sin: atoned!
    partakers in this glorious reality
    captured by his love: complete finality.
No other name have lips ever formed,
    that took the universe in such a storm:
    glory, grace, love, justice, his name,
    every knee will bow, one day, proclaim
    but this address to him completed
    first by Mary when... "I'll call him Jesus."
So consider this, my friends today,
    when baby Jesus in a manger lay:
    that God' glory has been put on display,
    and in the most magnificent way,
    that little baby will grow to man,
    he will suffer and die according to plan.
    so bend your knee in awe today:
    a manger scene is on display.

December 13, 2014

C.S. Lewis on Praise

I have probably quoted this before, but bear with me as I find the need to quote it again ... I am typing this (not copying and pasting) from the book Desiring God by John Piper. (I type it because it helps me to consider each word in the phrase.) This particular Lewis quote comes from that book, though he is not the only one who has revisited this quote. Lewis' insight on Praise in this quote has, I am sure, helped many in their understanding of the strong connection between God's love for His people and His command that they praise Him.

... the most obvious fact about praise -- whether of God or any thing -- strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness of the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check on it. The world rings with praise -- lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game -- praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least ...  
I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: "Isn't she lovely? Wasn't it glorious? Don't you think that magnificent?" The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what in deed we can't help doing, about everything else we value.  
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. 
Like I said, this is C.S. Lewis speaking. It comes from his book Reflections on the Psalms. The portion that I quoted came from the book Desiring God. You can also read an article on this by Sam Storms on the Desiring God website, by clicking here: Praise: The Consummation of Joy.

Psalm 115

To Your Name Give Glory

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.

O Israel, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.

The LORD has remembered us; he will bless us;
he will bless the house of Israel;
he will bless the house of Aaron;
he will bless those who fear the LORD,
both the small and the great.

May the LORD give you increase,
you and your children!
May you be blessed by the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!

The heavens are the LORD's heavens,
but the earth he has given to the children of man.
The dead do not praise the LORD,
nor do any who go down into silence.
But we will bless the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the LORD!

(Psalm 115 ESV)

December 3, 2014

Psalm 5

Psalm 5
Give ear to my words, O LORD;
consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
(How many of us can say this? How many of our voices will be heard in the morning?)
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
(Why is it when Christians post a passage like this... many start to think... "Wow. Who hurt this guy?" or "Man. What's bugging him?" or possibly "Oh. He's that sort of person.")
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in the fear of you.
Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.
(It is important to understand that a good way to motivate yourself and direct yourself is to contrast yourself with others. I know, I know... we aren't supposed to compare ourselves with others, that is not exactly what I mean. It is important to take a step back and see which direction you are headed. It is so easy to say that you are on the Lord's side, but if you can take a step back, and there is no sharp contrast between you and "the wicked" then you might need to reevaluate.)
For there is no truth in their mouth;
their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
they flatter with their tongue.
Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.
(Once again the contrast. Once again... if I were to simply post this, it would seem over-zealous or drastic or I could get accused of ignoring grace. Why is this? Is this not scripture? Is this not true? If not for the grace of God, this would be all of our destinies. It is only by grace that we are saved.)
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
you cover him with favor as with a shield.
(Here is that Grace. Here is that display of faith. Taking refuge is not ultimately something you "do" to inherit God's grace... it is a demonstration of what God has done in you.)

Thanks for reading through this Psalm.

December 2, 2014

Psalm 4:1-3

A portion of my scripture reading this morning...  

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
      You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
     O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?
     Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
     the Lord hears when I call to him.
Psalm 4:1-3 (ESV)