Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pray Shamelessly

We are shameful sinners.

We pray to a merciful Savior who despised the shame in order to cover our shame.

So, we should pray shamelessly.

Check out this quote by Alexander Whyte I read here:
See the man at midnight [described in Luke 11:5-8]. Imitate that man. Act it all alone at midnight. Hear his loud cry, and cry it after him. He needed three loaves. What is your need? Name it. Name it out loud. Let your own ears hear it. . . . The shameful things you have to ask for. The disgraceful, the incredible things you have to admit and confess. The life you have lived. The way you have spent your days and nights. And what all that has brought you to. It kills you to have to say such things even with your door shut. Yes, but better say all these things in closets than have them all proclaimed from the housetops of the day of judgment. Knock, man! Knock for the love of God! Knock as they knock to get into heaven after the door is shut! Knock, as they knock to get out of hell!”
Whoever puts their trust in him will not be put to shame!
They will be put to shame and even humiliated, all of them; The manufacturers of idols will go away together in humiliation. Israel has been saved by the LORD With an everlasting salvation; You will not be put to shame or humiliated To all eternity. (Isa 45:16-17, ESV)
For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."  (1 Pet. 2:6, NIV)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It Is Possible...

It is possible to be the adopted child of loving parents, and feel and act like you're still an orphan.

Galatians 4:4-9 (ESV, emphasis added):
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
Think about the flow of thought: 
Redeemed from the orphanage - the house of slavery for all us rebel runaways.
Adopted by the Father.
No longer slaves.
Sons and daughters!
Remember, when you didn't know God as your Father, you were enslaved.
Now that you have come to know God as your Father...
Wait, more importantly (and decisively), now that you have come to be known by God the Father, why would you turn from Love to head back to the house of slavery?

1 John 3:1a (ESV):
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
We adopted children need to stop listening to the old voices in our heads and look up to see the loving smile of our Father.
Is it possible? 
Beloved children. 
So we are.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Treasuring God with One Finger in the Cookie Dough

Another really good word, especially for the moms, from Gloria Furman.

Read the whole thing, but here's a taste:
As a mother, you have influence in shaping the ethos of your home. The word ethos doesn’t mean much to a baby or a preschooler, but they know what they “always” do. You always leave my bathroom light on at night. I always sit in this chair at the dinner table. We always watch a movie on Fridays.
The “we always” things are important. They provide the consistency our children need. The “we always” can be fun to start and continue. Some friends of ours have a tradition called Donut Saturdays where that Dad takes the kids out for donuts in the morning.
Personally, I have been trying to institute a new tradition for our three children called Wordless Wednesdays. Instead of arguing with each other in shrieks and shouts, they will pantomime. They haven’t quite caught on yet, but in the meantime I am willing to settle for Whine-less Wednesdays. We’re still working on that one, too.
In the midst of endless possibilities for the “we always” of our homes, there is one expectation that we are certain to meet every day. We always need God’s grace. The most important thing for us to keep in mind as we shape the expectations of our home is the gospel of grace.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Can't Stop The Gospel!

Jono came home from church a couple of weeks ago with this cool craft. I love it!

We would do well to remember this!
...Of this [hope] you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing--as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth..." (Col. 1:5-6)
Have you ever noticed this refrain in the book of Acts?
And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. (6:7)
But the word of God increased and multiplied. (12:24)
So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. (19:20)
This all happened despite many obstacles and threats that cropped up along the way. In other words, "You Can't Stop The Gospel!" We would do well to remember this!

AND, we would do well to ask God to see that power at work in our community, through us!
Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you. (2 Thess. 3:1)
And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus." And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:29-31)

Worth The Price of Admission

The singing at Together For The Gospel was worth the price of admission. I felt a little weird doing it at the time, but thought it might be encouraging to see and hear ~7500 pastors and church leaders singing their hearts out to Jesus.

Bob Kauflin, one of the pastors of Covenant Life Church in Gaitherburg, MD, led us in song. He is a gifted worship leader who has thought deeply and written helpfully on the subject of worship. You can access a fair amount of the fruit of his life and labors here on his blog. The network of churches that Bob is a part of (Sovereign Grace) has produced quite a number of CD's over the years. If you're not familiar with Sovereign Grace Music, I would highly recommend it to you. They can help you make the gospel the soundtrack of your life.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Together For The Gospel Conference

Here is the link to the general Together For the Gospel (T4G) conference site.

T4G is a conference mainly for pastors, missionaries, and church leaders, but most of the main session messages could benefit just about anyone who listens/watches. You can browse audio and video of messages from all four of the conferences on this site, but I simply want to share some recommendations from this year's conference.

First, the weighty, sober call to global missions by David Platt under the title: Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions (audio or video). For God's sake and the good of the nations, listen to this message. And you will be crying out for grace, for God's sake and the good of the nations.

Second, John Piper's closing message, "Glory, Majesty, Dominion, and Authority Keep Us Safe for Everlasting Joy" (audio or video). Piper likes to ask people the question, "What makes you think you'll wake up a Christian tomorrow morning?" He answers just that question, personally and powerfully, from Jude 24-25.

Third, Kevin DeYoung's message, "Spirit-Powered, Gospel-Driven, Faith-Fueled Effort," addresses the rightful place of effort and striving and struggle and hard work in the Christian life (audio / video). There is a bad, gospel-denying way to work. And there is a gospel-powered, God-glorifying, soul-sanctifying way to work. Kevin will help you think clearly about how to avoid the former and pursue the latter.

Fourth, Thabiti Anyabwile asks, "Will Your Gospel Transform a Terrorist?" and exposes the ways in which we often lack real confidence in the power of the gospel. He also goes on to give us gracious reasons for growing confidence in the power of the gospel (audio / video).

Fifth, if you are of the "Preach the gospel, and if you must, use words" school of evangelism (and even if you are not), I encourage you to listen to/watch Al Mohler's message entitled, "The Power of the Articulated Gospel" (audio / video).

I usually can't commend every message after a conference. For this one, I can. The above simply seem to me to be the first five I'd recommend. 

Are You Preaching or Listening To Yourself?

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1965, 20-21): 
...Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in this psalm] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.’
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself.
…And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of his countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God’.
…Do not listen to him; turn on him; speak to him; condemn him…exhort him; encourage him; remind him of what you know, instead of listening placidly to him and allowing him to drag you down and depress you. For that is what he will always do if you allow him to be in control.

The Pattern and Parable of the Life and Death of John Harper

"...keep your eyes on those who [live and die] according to the example you have in us." (Philippians 3:17)


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lottery Follow Up

A good word from John Piper in response to the Mega Millions Lottery craze.

Don't buy in. It's a false promise. It's nothing other than a God-belittling snare. Ironically, even former lottery winners say "Amen" (thanks to Rob Alekel for pointing me to this Chicago Sun Times article).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Please Let's Swim Against This Current

Richard Winter, “Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment,” Perspectives, Fall 2002, pages 3-4:
Since the mid-1800s, for many people, the number of leisure hours has increased and lifespan has increased enormously. People in the mid-1800s worked seventy hours a week and lived forty years; now in developed countries people can work forty hours a week and live seventy years, or more. One author calculates that this gives the average person about 33,000 more leisure hours than a person might have had in the mid-1800s.
Not only that, but the type of leisure activities that people engage in today have changed. Much time is spent alone in front of electronic entertainment. Previously it would often be spent with family: making music, telling stories, and with friends and with the local community. In conjunction with this, ‘alone time’ has also risen as people have moved out of smaller rural communities to the industrialized cities. Anonymity is easily achieved in the big city versus the small town.
Now people come home, and rarely do they get together to make music or play games. They sit in front of these flashing idols of all sorts, which pour out music and pictures and all sorts of other things to keep them entertained. We do not need our neighbors any more. No longer do we sit out on the porch (air conditioning has contributed to that too) and talk to neighbors; we go inside and shut the door and go to our private entertainment places.
Please, let's swim against this current. It's only gaining momentum in the world around us. And it is unfitting us to be human, to be relational beings, made in the image of our Triune God, who love our neighbors in Jesus' name, for God's sake.

For the glory of God,
for the good of our souls,
for the good of our children (let's give "swimming lessons," in our homes and church to train them in strength and endurance to swim upstream),
for the sake of Christian friendship,
for the good of our neighbors,
for the mortification of the anti-sociality of sin,
for the vivification of the live-in-the-light and love-your-neighbor impulses of the Gospel,
and a thousand other goods reasons and effects,
please, let's swim against this current.


Tomorrow and Eternity For Moms (and Dads)

From Gloria Furman on "How Eternity Shapes Our Mundane":
Parental amnesia is not just where you walk into a room and forget why you’re carrying the laundry basket with four dirty coffee mugs in it. That’s called normal. Parental amnesia is where we forget about two things: tomorrow and eternity.
First, we forget that Lord-willing our children will grow up to be adults. I have a hard time imagining my 5-year-old as a 35-year-old or a 65-year-old. Her big goals right now are waiting patiently for her first loose tooth and learning to tell what time it is. Sometimes I think she’ll be five forever and do five-year-old things forever.
Second, we forget that our children are more than just potential adults. They are people made in God’s image and they have eternal souls. When the mundane looms larger than eternal life we forget who God is, who we are, and who our children are.
We tend to forget about tomorrow and eternity when our day is filled with the tyranny of the urgent. Do you ever feel like that ball in the arcade game that ricochets off the walls? Supervise homework while diverting toddlers from swishing their arms in the toilet! Hand down verdicts in Mother’s Court about whose toy it really is! No wonder it’s hard to keep an eternal perspective.
If you like how she describes what we often forget, make sure you read the whole thing and get to some great gospel reminders.