John Calvin on Prayer

Posted: October 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

“We should ask God to increase our hope when it is small, awaken it when it is dormant, confirm it when it is wavering, strengthen it when it is weak, and raise it up when it is overthrown.”

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John Piper on child rearing

Posted: October 22, 2017 in Uncategorized

How can I raise a dolphin cutting through schools of sharks, rather than a bloated jellyfish floating with the plankton into the mouth of the whale called the world? 

Interpretation and application of the Lord’s dealings with those who have gone on before us is often tricky.  There is the tendency to spiritualize everything.  There is also the tendency to look beyond what is there to try to “find Christ” in everything.  In all of these things we miss the point if we don’t see how these things are supposed to relate to us and the Lord’s dealings with us.  Scripture is pretty clear that the things that were written before were written “for our learning in order that we through patience and comfort in the scriptures might have hope” (Rom 15:4).

The great benefit of the record of how the Lord has dealt with the heroes of our faith is that we can see how He dealt with them and find comfort that we are not alone.  Sometimes we feel that way, but even if those who are our contemporaries do not experience what we do, someone has.  Someone has and we have record of how the Lord has thus brought them through such difficulty and trial.  As in the case of Joseph, we do not know exactly how he felt.  But we do know ultimately how he responded.  Perhaps he responded in the way that he did because he felt confident that the Lord was with him in the prison.  Perhaps he didn’t feel bad at all about the difficulty that he endured.  I would find that very hard to believe.  Joseph was a man just as anyone else and as anyone else would have felt betrayed, lonely and perhaps at times broken.  And yet we know from the testimony of scripture that he did not stay there.  And we have to assume that he did not stay there in the midst of his feelings, not because he was super-spiritual but rather precisely because God was with him.

That in the end is our confidence and hope in times when we feel like we are in prison.  That is how the Lord thus works in us.  He works in us to realize that we are not alone, though all may forsake, that He never will and (yes this is a super run on sentence) that we can trust Him in the midst of it all.  And in reality if we never had those “prison” experiences, we would never learn these most crucial truths of our faith.

God is with us.  Is this not the promise granted to us in the name Immanuel?  Is this not the confidence with which our Immanuel faced the cross?  Let it be ours as well. For it is not in a multitude of friends or affirming people, it is not in an abundance of happy circumstances but rather it is in God alone, in Christ alone is the fullness of joy (Psa 16:11).

October 12

And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into a prison … But Jehovah was with Joseph … and that which he did, Jehovah made it to prosper. (Gen.39:20–23)

WHEN God lets us go to prison because we have been serving Him, and goes there with us, prison is about the most blessed place in the world that we could be in. Joseph seems to have known that. He did not sulk and grow discouraged and rebellious because “everything was against him”. If he had, the prison-keeper would never have trusted him so. Joseph does not even seem to have pitied himself.

Let us remember that if self-pity is allowed to set in, that is the end of us—until it is cast utterly from us. Joseph just turned over everything in joyous trust to God, and so the keeper of the prison turned over everything to Joseph. Lord Jesus, when the prison doors close in on me, keep me trusting, and keep my joy full and abounding. Prosper Thy work through me in prison: even there, make me free indeed.—Selected.

A little bird I am,

Shut from the fields of air,

And in my cage I sit and sing

To Him who placed me there;

Well pleased a prisoner to be,

Because, my God, it pleaseth Thee.

My cage confines me round,

Abroad I cannot fly,

But though my wing is closely bound,

My soul is at liberty;

For prison walls cannot control

The flight, the freedom of the soul.

I have learnt to love the darkness of sorrow; there you see the brightness of His face.—Madame Guyon.

Cowman, L. B. (1925). Streams in the Desert (pp. 295–296). Los Angeles, CA: The Oriental Missionary Society.

“No chastening seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 


Afflictions are always painful–and days of affliction are often gloomy. But as we are training for eternity, as we are maturing for Heaven, and as afflictions are necessary discipline–we must be afflicted. If chastisement were not necessary–then our loving Father would never use the rod. But as every one of us needs correction–He chastens every son whom He receives. God’s chastisements are intended for our instruction–they are designed to teach us . . .
  the evil of sin,
  our need of grace,
  the holiness of God,
  the preciousness of Jesus,
  the emptiness of the world,
  and the blessedness of Heaven. 
These are lessons of the deepest importance to us–lessons that we are slow to learn; and therefore we must have line upon line, and stroke upon stroke.

Heavenly Father, help us to bow to Your sovereign will, to bear with patience every stroke of Your rod, and to learn the holy and important lessons which You intend to teach us. May we not only submit to Your discipline–but, seeing the love which ordains it, and the need there is for it–even acquiesce in it. Keep us from fretting at pain, repining at losses, or giving way to too much grief at bereavements–knowing that all these things come from You, and that You design them for our good. Help us to understand that every trial and every trouble is a blessing–and will end in eternal glory. Sweet thought! 

O for grace to yield ourselves to You–and to sweetly acquiesce in all Your paternal dealings!

“Blessed is the man whom God corrects–so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” Job 5:17 

Worthy of eternal life

Posted: September 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

Those who repudiate the Word judge themselves unworthy of eternal life.

Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
Acts 13:46 NASB

http://bible.com/100/act.13.46.NASB

The first Mic drop?

Posted: September 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, “T he S pirit of the Lord is upon M e , B ecause H e anointed M e to preach the gospel to the poor . H e has sent M e to proclaim release to the captives , A nd recovery of sight to the blind , T o set free those who are oppressed , T o proclaim the favorable year of the Lord .” And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:16‭-‬21 NASB

http://bible.com/100/luk.4.16-21.NASB

But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
1 Timothy 4:7‭-‬10 NASB

http://bible.com/100/1ti.4.7-10.NASB

Give ear, O heavens!

Posted: August 22, 2017 in Uncategorized

“Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; And let the earth hear the words of my mouth. “Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As the droplets on the fresh grass And as the showers on the herb. “For I proclaim the name of the Lord ; Ascribe greatness to our God! “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.”
Deuteronomy 32:1‭-‬4 NASB

http://bible.com/100/deu.32.1-4.NASB

We recognize that all authority is given by God, even those who are due to their sinful nature, prone to be immoral and godless.   The cry of God’s people in such cases [should] not be the cry to elect a “better” [sin-laden shepherd], or “the lesser of the two evil” shepherds from among the people; but rather the cry for “thy Kingdom come, O LORD”!

This post is not actually about Charlottesville though I mention it towards the end.  It is really about the nature of baptism and the days in which we are living.  I was privileged to baptize my two oldest girls today.  It got me to thinking about how and what we “the people” tend to pledge our allegiances to.  The following was originally intended for my church family, but I thought it might be helpful as a meditation for others.

Baptism is one of the most important confessions that we may make today.  People in antiquity – under the rule of Rome – were accustomed to proclaiming “Caesar is Lord”, while Christians to the contrary were to proclaim “Jesus is Lord” (Rom 10:9).  This public proclamation was viewed by those first Christians as an essential component of their faith and one that was certain to end in imprisonment and/or death.  However they were undeterred, agreeing with Peter in John 6 that it was Jesus alone who had the words of eternal life.

When we are baptized in obedience to Christ, we proclaim our allegiance to Him.  It is a believer’s baptism, thus any true believer in Jesus participates in this ordinance given by Christ to His church.  It is a public proclamation of the work that God has already done in our hearts by His grace.

Jesus is Lord.  When we proclaim this we do this together.  Whether Jew or Gentile, slave or free, white or black, we proclaim Him who alone gives us eternal life through His sacrifice of love for us on the cross.  Now, more than ever this is a message that we must continue to proclaim to the world.  And we must continue to do so together.

I cannot say enough – though I have already spoken on the issue of race in another post – that in light of the climate of today we must continue to proclaim together that Jesus Christ is our Lord.  The church is God’s answer to racial disunity.  While the world is proclaiming allegiance to its own ethnicities, ideologies and worship of false gods (who are not really gods), we must loudly proclaim Jesus as Lord.

Be not dismayed by the events of Charlottesville, of any shootings, of foreign or domestic terrorism.  We serve the One True God, the Living God and He has granted to us life in His Son.  “We proclaim Him” because there is no other.  Whether you are in the minority or the majority in terms of your ethnic identity, your primary identity is in Jesus Christ.  Thus your first allegiance is always to Him and to all who call upon His name.

I pray for each of you that would remember this day that no matter what happens in the world around us, no matter how divided they become, that we who have faith in Jesus are one.  This is what our Lord has prayed for us (John 17:21).  And this is a reality that we are commanded to be diligent to preserve (Eph 4:3).

And I pray that you all would diligently teach these things to your children.  We live in a day when there are so many negative influences from our culture that failure to speak directly to these issues is like throwing our children to a pack of hungry wolves with no protection.

Teach them to honor the Caesar’s of our day as well as to honor their ethnic/cultural heritage; but never to worship either.  Teach them to worship Jesus as Lord alone but never to dishonor Him by our worship of anything of infinitely less value, not one’s own country, ethnic/cultural heritage, nor any other created thing.  Teach them to boldly proclaim that the One who has died for us, was buried and is risen from the dead is indeed Lord over all!

May the Lord who called us into “one body, and one Spirit…in one hope of our calling, under one Lord, one faith and one baptism and one God and Father of all” grant us joy, confidence and boldness to continue to proclaim together that Jesus is our ​​​​​​​Lord!