Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Alistair Begg Exposed!

Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries interviews my favorite modern preacher, Alistair Begg. His probing line of questioning finally exposes the truth about Begg’s Scottish “accent.”

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Spurgeon Saturday

Psalm 62:5

It is the believer’s privilege to use this language. If he is looking for aught from the world, it is a poor “expectation” indeed. But if he looks to God for the supply of his wants, whether in temporal or spiritual blessings, his “expectation” will not be a vain one. Constantly he may draw from the bank of faith, and get his need supplied out of the riches of God’s lovingkindness. This I know, I had rather have God for my banker than all the Rothschilds. My Lord never fails to honour his promises; and when we bring them to his throne, he never sends them back unanswered. Therefore I will wait only at his door, for he ever opens it with the hand of munificent grace. At this hour I will try him anew. But we have “expectations” beyond this life. We shall die soon; and then our “expectation is from him.” Do we not expect that when we lie upon the bed of sickness he will send angels to carry us to his bosom? We believe that when the pulse is faint, and the heart heaves heavily, some angelic messenger shall stand and look with loving eyes upon us, and whisper, “Sister spirit, come away!” As we approach the heavenly gate, we expect to hear the welcome invitation, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” We are expecting harps of gold and crowns of glory; we are hoping soon to be amongst the multitude of shining ones before the throne; we are looking forward and longing for the time when we shall be like our glorious Lord—for “We shall see him as he is.” Then if these be thine “expectations,” O my soul, live for God; live with the desire and resolve to glorify him from whom cometh all thy supplies, and of whose grace in thy election, redemption, and calling, it is that thou hast any “expectation” of coming glory.

Readings taken from Logos Bible Software version of Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Friday, February 27, 2009

I’m Going to Disney World!

You know the phrase well. It has achieved iconic status. After the Super Bowl, an unseen voice asks one of the winning players a question. This year the question was asked of two players, Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes. “Hey Ben and Santonio, now that you’ve won the Super Bowl, what next?” The answer has been the same since the question was first asked of Phil Simms after he defeated my beloved Broncos in Super Bowl XXI—“I’m going to Disney World!” The scenario is not as spontaneous as it may appear because they orchestrate a retake for the people of the West Coast. In the retake, the excited athletes say, “I’m going to Disneyland!”

How exciting it would be to receive an all-expense paid vacation to Disney! I received an all-expense paid trip one time to San Antonio, TX, but I wasn’t quite as excited as I would have been for a trip to Disney. For some reason Air Force Basic Training didn’t engender as much anticipation in me as Space Mountain would have. But even though I have never received an all-expense paid vacation, I can imagine what it would be like. The excitement and anticipation would be palpable. My kids would get all their chores done early. We would meticulously plan what we would need to take with us. We would carefully rearrange financial priorities so we could liberally spend money on necessities like souvenirs and fine dining (funnel cakes and corn dogs). In the days leading up to our trip, everything we did would be with thoughts of our vacation in the foremost of our minds. The anticipation and excitement would continuously build to a crescendo as we would arrive at the airport early—at least two hours early to allow for parking, check-in and anything that might unexpectedly pop up. Even though airports and flights can be uncomfortable and difficult at times, we would hardly notice. All the inconvenience of small seats, narrow aisles, stagnant airplane air and somebody else’s screaming kids would be overshadowed by eager anticipation for what awaited us. After all, who can think about trivial discomfort when Mickey and Donald and Goofy are waiting for your arrival! I know economic times are tough, but extravagantly spending hundreds of dollars in food and souvenirs is a mere pittance when you consider the amazing opportunity to be part of something as rich and exciting and wonderful as Disney. Everybody knows that money is no object when it comes to taking a picture with a Hannah Montana lookalike.

If that is how we would anticipate entering the Magic Kingdom, how are we anticipating entering the presence of King Jesus in corporate worship on Sunday? We know what anticipation for a vacation looks like. What does our anticipation for corporate worship look like? Sadly, we know what it looks like. It looks like staying up way later than usual on Saturday night. After all, it's not like something important like work or school is going on the next day. That’s when we schedule our younger kids’ sleepovers or older kids’ late-night date-nights. Our anticipation for corporate worship looks like getting up at the very last possible minute on Sunday morning. Then we rush around like crazy people trying to get ourselves and the kids ready—yelling and fussing the whole time. We grab a travel mug of coffee and a granola bar on the way out the door. Once we get on the road, we have to get behind grandpa’s Cadillac that he only drives to church once a week. Of course, he never exceeds the speed limit—of school zones (whether he’s in one or not). Then we file zombie-like in the church door, flop on the back row and pick up a pew Bible (because we left ours at home—somewhere). When the offering plate is passed, we dig around in our pockets to see if we have any leftover lunch money we can drop in. Finally, we catch our breath and calm down midway through the sermon introduction. And the sandman enters by the time the preacher hits his first point. If only somebody as important to us as Mickey or Donald or a Hannah Montana lookalike was there, it would have been worth preparing for.

Are you anticipating meeting with Jesus in corporate worship this upcoming Lord’s Day?

Hebrews 10:19-25

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Friday with the Fathers

Colossians 3:10

The Transformation—Lactantius

The power of divine wisdom is so great that, when infused into one’s heart, it expels foolishness (the mother of all fault) by one impulse—once and for all. This wisdom doesn’t need payment, books, or nightly studies to come about. But the results are accomplished freely, easily, and quickly, if only ears are open and the heart thirsts for wisdom.

Don’t be afraid: we don’t sell water or offer the sun as a reward. The fountain of God, most abundant and full, is open to everyone. This heavenly light rises for everyone who has eyes.

Did the philosophers bring about these things, or can they accomplish these results if they want? For although they spend their lives studying philosophy, they can neither improve any person nor improve themselves.

Their wisdom at its best doesn’t eradicate, but actually hides faults. However, a few of God’s principles will change people so completely and make them new by having them put off their old selves so that you wouldn’t recognize them as the same.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Religion of Peace?

Due to the complete dearth of media coverage, I imagine that many people are not aware of a gruesome event that happened in Buffalo, NY last week.

The founder of a US television station aimed at countering stereotypes of Muslims has been arrested and charged with beheading his wife, local media reported.

Muzzammil Hassan was charged with second-degree murder of his wife, Aasiya Hassan, whose decapitated body was found Thursday by police at the Bridges TV station in a Buffalo suburb in New York state, The Buffalo News reported Monday.

"He came to the police station at 6:20 pm (Thursday) and told us that she was dead," Orchard Park Police Chief Andrew Benz told the newspaper.

Police reportedly went to Bridges TV, which Hassan founded in 2004, and discovered her body.
If it had been reported widely, this “honor killing” certainly would have served to accomplish the goal of Hassan’s Bridges TV. The prevailing stereotype of Islam as a religion of peace would have been successfully countered.

Comedian Steven Crowder recently issued a Qur’an Challenge to determine if the actions of Hassan were contrary to Islam or in line with its teaching. It’s only funny because it’s true.

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Ex Libris: Francis Schaeffer, An Authentic Life

Over on Ex Libris I have posted a review of Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life, by Colin Duriez.

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A Day For Wearing Black

77 years ago, the Man in Black was born in Arkansas. Here are a couple of videos to mark the occasion.

Happy birthday J.R.

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Coffee With Calvin

Genesis 42:21

The Importance of Mercy

Joseph’s brothers acknowledge that it is by the just judgment of God that they obtained nothing from Joseph, now ruling in Egypt by their begging, because they themselves had acted so cruelly towards their brother in the past. Christ had not yet uttered the sentence, “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2), but it is a dictate of nature that they who have been cruel to others are unworthy of sympathy. We ought to be more careful that we do not prove deaf to the many threats of Scripture on this matter. Dreadful is that condemnation that “if a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered” (Proverbs 21:13).

Therefore, while we have time, let us learn to exercise humanity, to sympathize with the miserable, and to stretch out our hand to give assistance. But if at any time it happens that we are treated roughly by others and our cries for pity are proudly rejected by them, then, at least, let us ask whether we ourselves have in anything acted unkindly towards others. For although it is best to be wise beforehand, it is, nevertheless, of some advantage to us to reflect whether, when others proudly despise us, those with whom we have to deal have not experienced similar hardships from us. Moreover, their cruelty was hateful to God because—since his goodness is dispersed through heaven and earth, and his beneficence is extended not only to people, but even to brute animals—nothing is more contrary to his nature than that we should cruelly reject those who implore our protection.

Readings taken from Day by Day With John Calvin

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


David Porter is giving away a premium calfskin leather bound ESV Study Bible ($240 value) to celebrate the one year anniversary of his Boomer in the Pew blog. Check out the rules of engagement here.

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True Revival Means God-glorifying Relationships

A flood of God’s presence not only radically changes churches, but society as well. Ratios of crime and immorality immediately plummet. Patterns of serious family breakup improve dramatically. By the millions, broken lives and relationships see glorious healing. Social improvements and missions explode many-fold. In a great flood of revival, evangelism and global harvests explode through the roof! Best of all, God’s name receives great glory.

If all this sounds like a fairytale, I assure you it is not! These descriptions and percentages are exactly what God has done many times in history. Frankly, it may sound impossible to us because America has not witnessed such revival since the mid-1800s. Yet there is good news. Our God has not changed and He can do it again! (Hebrews 13:8) In fact, several places in the world are seeing mighty moves of God right now. Just because we have not yet seen a flood, does not mean we will not.

Since we know God can send revival the question is, “Why hasn’t He?” The answer is three fold. First, most believers and churches have not met the conditions in prayer and repentance. Second, many are seeking the “blessings” of revival rather than the glory and hallowing of God’s name. Third, relational barriers of anger and bickering are seriously blocking the Holy Spirit. But thank God, there is an answer and relational barriers can be addressed by renewed prayer and obedience. God then reveals Himself in phenomenal power!

Excerpted from Releasing the Revival Flood: A churchwide Journey to Miraculous Unity and God-Glorifying Fellowship, by Gregory Frizzell

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Edwards Wednesday

Jeremiah 8:20

Consider the Time

You are one to whom God has committed that precious talent. You have had a great deal of time. You have had a great deal of time that is past. And time is as much worth to you as to others whether you are so sensible of the worth of it or no. You are one that has an eternity before you.

When God created you and gave you a reasonable soul, he made you for an eternity; and he gave you time here in order to prepare for eternity. And your future eternity depends on the improvement of time.

Consider therefore what you have done with your past time. You are not now beginning your time; but a great deal of your time is past and gone, and all the wit and power of the universe can’t recover it. How have you spent it? Let your own consciences make the answer.

There are many of you that may well conclude that half your time is gone. If you should to live to the ordinary age of man, your glass is more than half run, and perhaps there may be but few sands remaining; your sun is past the meridian, and perhaps just a-setting, or going into an everlasting eclipse.

Consider therefore what account you can give of your improvement of your past time. How have you let the precious golden sands of your glass run?

Readings taken from Day By Day With Jonathan Edwards

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday Mornings with Augustine

2 Corinthians 3:5


Pride is the craving for undeserved glory. And this is undeserved glory: when the soul abandons the One it should cling to for sufficiency and becomes self-reliant. This happens when the soul is satisfied with itself. It falls away from the unchangeable good that would satisfy it more than itself.

And this falling away is spontaneous. For the will should remain in love with the higher, changeless good that illumines it to intelligence and kindles it into love. Then it wouldn’t become so dark and cold by turning to find satisfaction in itself.

We didn’t fall so far away that we became absolutely nothing. Instead, by turning toward ourselves, our souls became more secluded than when we clung to the Supreme One.

Similarly, to exist in oneself, that is, to be one’s own satisfaction after abandoning God, isn’t to become a nobody. But, the holy Scriptures designate another name to proud people: “self-pleasers.”

Therefore, it is good to lift up the heart. But it isn’t good to lift it up to oneself; that is pride. It is good only to lift our hearts up to the Lord, for that is obedience and humility.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Get Used To It!

What comes to your mind when you think about heaven? Do you think about clouds and angels and harps? Do you think about a place of perfect peace and contentment? Maybe when you think about heaven, you think about a lost loved one. Maybe you think about a street of gold and gates made of great pearl.

Can you picture it? Of course you can’t picture it. You can’t picture it, because you’re trying to imagine something that your brain can’t comprehend.

We don’t have words to describe what we’ll see there. When Jesus gave John a glimpse into heaven and told him to write down what he saw, John had to use figurative words. He had to paint a picture of a place that words can’t describe. That’s why, when we see his words in Revelation, sometimes they can be unclear. But even though John’s description of what we will see in heaven is unclear, his description of what we’ll be doing there isn’t.

From the time in Revelation 4:1 when John was told to “come up here,” the activity of heaven was clear to him. From beginning to end, the activity of heaven is constant, continual worship. No matter how much you like to fish here, you won’t be fishing in heaven. No matter how much you like to throw a baseball here, you won’t be throwing a baseball in heaven. We will be all-consumed in our worship and adoration of Jesus. When we see Him face to face, we won’t be able to take our eyes off Him.

Our eternity will be spent fulfilling our joy by lifting up our voice with all of heaven and saying,
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.

Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto him that sits on the throne and unto the Lamb forever and ever.
That’s what we know about heaven. Heaven will be a place of ultimate joy because we will be in continual worship. Do you know what that tells me? It tells me that if you don’t like praise and worship and singing now, you’d better start getting used to it. Because if Jesus has saved you, that’s what you’re going to be doing for a long, long time.

Revelation 5:11-14

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Pastoral Ministry, Part 3: A Pastor’s Secondary Roles

Since the pastor’s primary role is prayer and scriptural exposition, it cannot be evangelism or ministry. Although some individuals are uniquely gifted as evangelists by the Holy Spirit, evangelism is a personal responsibility of each believer including the pastor. Each believer is responsible to be Christ’s witness in his own personal Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and uttermost parts of the earth. When the pastor prayerfully and faithfully expounds Scripture, believers in the church will be equipped to witness effectively to all those within their sphere of influence. Like all individual believers, the pastor is responsible to win those to Christ who are within his sphere of influence. That includes, but is certainly not limited to, those within his congregation who are lost. The congregation is his Jerusalem, the neighborhood his Judea, the town his Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth his goal.

While evangelism is each believer’s responsibility, according to Scripture, ministry is the primary responsibility of deacons. When the pastor prayerfully and faithfully expounds Scripture, deacons under his teaching will be equipped to minister effectively to the church. In turn, their effective ministry allows the pastor to devote himself to prayer and the exposition of Scripture, as he should. Because of his loving, personal relationship with the church, the pastor continually ministers also—just not to the neglect of his primary role.

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Martyrs Monday

Joshua 24:15

“Will you choose to live or die? What do you say?

The questioner was Henry VIII, the king of England, who had unrestrained power in the land. The “criminal” who stood before him, charged with heresy, was John Lambert, a Greek and Latin tutor.

Lambert audaciously challenged his pastor for delivering a sermon that didn’t agree with Scripture. Lambert was brought before the archbishop of Canterbury and later before King Henry. Quoting from the Scriptures and explaining the original Greek, Lambert presented his case to an assembly of bishops, lawyers, justices and peers. The two sides argued strenuously back and forth until Henry, bored with it, presented Lambert with a final choice: “After all the reasons and instructions of these knowledgeable men, are you now satisfied? Will you choose to live or die? What do you say?”

Lambert took a deep breath and answered confidently, “I commend my soul to the hands of God, but my body I give to your clemency.”

“You must die,” Henry answered scornfully, “for I will not be a patron to heretics.” Convicted of heresy, Lambert was burned at the stake. Lambert was unbowed in his slow, torturous death. He lifted up his hands in worship, declaring, “None but Christ! None but Christ!”

In the modern age of possibilities, our right to choose has grown nearly insatiable. Two hundred television channels are a “basic” right, tantamount to freedom itself. We want options. Variety. Assortment. Even mundane decisions are delivered daily to our doorstep—what to wear, eat, drive, or do. However, our choices are no longer utilitarian—they are virtually limitless. In contrast, when life’s greater questions come to us, we have only one answer to give: “None but Christ.” Is there another way to heaven? None but Christ—he is the Way. Is there another priority in life that deserves one’s full devotion? None but Christ—he is supreme. Can someone else satisfy the longing of the human heart? None but Christ can satisfy. Truth has no alternative, you see. When life’s greater questions come, and they will, are you prepared to testify that of all the possibilities “none but Christ” will satisfy?

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

This Week's Memory Verse

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Morning Service Iced Out

There will be no services this morning due to ice. Check WVVA Snow Patrol throughout the day to see if we will have services this evening.

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Puritan Passages

Hebrews 1:8

Christ’s Scepter—Obadiah Sedgwick

True faith… takes Christ and Him only to be its Lord…. Many will come to Christ to find a feast, but few come to Christ to bear His scepter. Some would come under the safety of His blood, but disdain the authority and dominion of His sword; they like Christ the Priest, but not Christ the Lord.

I will briefly show you two things unbelievers will not accept Christ to be their Lord only, because their heart has another Lord…. He is our Lord to whom we give service, and we His servants who obey him…. Let the commands of profit or pleasure and Christ come into competition and you shall see that the unbelieving heart will go after its Lord; it will not hearken to Christ, for it prefers sin before Him. The unbelieving heart will easily adventure Christ’s displeasure to fulfill its own lusts. Again, the unbelieving heart cannot choose Christ; it cannot like Him for a Lord. Why? Because the dominion of Christ is holy and heavenly; it is directly opposite to the sordid principles and affections, and ways of an unbelieving heart.

Secondly, every believer admits Christ to be their Lord as Thomas said, “My Lord, and my God” (John 20:28)… and so (1) Faith sets up the scepter of Christ, and sweetly frames the soul to a willing subjection, (2) Again, faith takes the whole Christ, and therefore Christ is the only King and Lord to faith, (3) Again, faith knows that the whole person is Christ’s purchase, His blood has brought us, and so passed us into the dominion of Christ: “ye are bought with a price; ye are not your own,” said the apostle, 1 Cor. 6:19-20.

Now then try yourself in this: who is your Lord? If by faith you have sworn fidelity to Christ, then though all temptations beset you, to captivate, or to alienate your heart from the service of Christ, yet amidst all oppressions, yes, under all the knocks and buffetings, and interruptions by sin, the heart cries out, “I acknowledge no Lord but Christ; Him I would obey; Him I honor, I love; His I am, and I yet hate those sins which yet I cannot conquer.”

Readings taken from Day by Day with the English Puritans

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

So You Think You've Got Good Eyes...

For those of us with a touch of OCD, this game can be maddening. I like to share my madness--enjoy!

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Spurgeon Saturday

Hebrews 13:5

If we can only grasp these words by faith, we have an all-conquering weapon in our hand. What doubt will not be slain by this two-edged sword? What fear is there which shall not fall smitten with a deadly wound before this arrow from the bow of God’s covenant? Will not the distresses of life and the pangs of death; will not the corruptions within, and the snares without; will not the trials from above, and the temptations from beneath, all seem but light afflictions, when we can hide ourselves beneath the bulwark of “He hath said”? Yes; whether for delight in our quietude, or for strength in our conflict, “He hath said” must be our daily resort. And this may teach us the extreme value of searching the Scriptures. There may be a promise in the Word which would exactly fit your case, but you may not know of it, and therefore you miss its comfort. You are like prisoners in a dungeon, and there may be one key in the bunch which would unlock the door, and you might be free; but if you will not look for it, you may remain a prisoner still, though liberty is so near at hand. There may be a potent medicine in the great pharmacopoeia of Scripture, and you may yet continue sick unless you will examine and search the Scriptures to discover what “He hath said.” Should you not, besides reading the Bible, store your memories richly with the promises of God? You can recollect the sayings of great men; you treasure up the verses of renowned poets; ought you not to be profound in your knowledge of the words of God, so that you may be able to quote them readily when you would solve a difficulty, or overthrow a doubt? Since “He hath said” is the source of all wisdom, and the fountain of all comfort, let it dwell in you richly, as “A well of water, springing up unto everlasting life.” So shall you grow healthy, strong, and happy in the divine life.

Readings taken from Logos Bible Software version of Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Double, Double Toil and Trouble

After a few months of respite, bickering about Calvinism within the SBC has bubbled to the surface once again. Is it just me, or did you notice that the debate resurgence mysteriously coincided with the end of the NFL season? I guess it is true that idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Maybe the debate will once again subside with baseball spring training.

Until then, if you would like some well-reasoned, balanced and thoughtful articles concerning the subject, check out the recent postings on Between the Times. Non-Calvinist, Dr. Alvin Reid has posted An Open Letter to My Calvinist Friends in the SBC. At the same time, his Calvinist friend, Dr. Nathan Finn has posted An Open Letter to My Non-Calvinist Friends in the SBC.

Each of these men teaches at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. They are dear friends. Amidst all of the rancorous rhetoric, I admire SEBTS and these two men for their irenic discussion and their focus on the Great Commission, despite their clear theological disagreement. It proves that cooperation is possible among those who agree on the central tenets of the Gospel even if they disagree on debatable theological fine points. It is important to flesh out the fine points, but if that process gets in the way of our mission as the church it has become an idol and does not glorify Christ.

Here’s to a Great Commission Resurgence in the SBC.

Matthew 28:19-20

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Friday with the Fathers

Proverbs 30:12

True Humility—Chrysostom

In whatever you do for a fellow-servant, remember that you Master has done it to your servants. Listen and shudder! Never be pleased by your humility!

Perhaps you laugh at that statement, as if humility could puff you up. But don’t be surprised if it puffs you up when it isn’t genuine. How and in what way could it do this? When it is practiced to gain human favor and not God’s favor. When it is practiced so that we could be praised and be considered great. For this is of the devil. Those who boast because they aren’t boastful please themselves by their humility and high regard.

Have you done any act out of humility? Don’t be proud of it, otherwise all its merit is lost. The Pharisee was like this. He was puffed up because he gave his tithes to the poor, and, as a result, he lost the honor of the deed. But not so with the tax collector. Nor with Paul who said, “I know nothing by myself, yet am I not hereby justified.” See how he doesn’t exalt himself, but in every way lowers and humbles himself, even when he had arrived at the summit.

When you think about admiring yourself because you are humble, consider your Master. Remember what He descended into and you won’t admire or praise yourself anymore.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ex Libris: Unpacking Forgiveness

This week over on Ex Libris, I am reviewing the new book by Chris Brauns titled, Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds.

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Coffee With Calvin

John 6:37

Your Life, Jesus’ Gift

Jesus is not the guardian of our salvation for a single day, or for a few days, but that he will take care of it to the end—so that he will conduct us, as it were, from the commencement to the termination of our course. Therefore, he mentions the last resurrection. This promise is highly necessary for us, who miserably groan under so great weakness of the flesh, of which every one of us is sufficiently aware. At every moment, indeed, the salvation of the whole world might be ruined, were it not that believers, supported by the hand of Christ, advance boldly to the day of resurrection. Let this, therefore, be fixed in our minds: that Christ has stretched out his hand to us, that he may not desert us in the midst of the course, but that, relying on his goodness, we may boldly raise our eyes to the last day.

There is also another reason why he mentions the resurrection. It is because, so long as our life is hidden (Col. 3:3), we are like dead men. For in what respect do believers differ from wicked men, but that, overwhelmed with afflictions and like sheep destined for the slaughter (Rom. 8:36), they have always one foot in the grave and, indeed, are not far from being continually swallowed up by death? Thus there remains no other support of our faith and patience but this: that we keep out of view the condition of the present life, and apply our minds and our senses to the last day, and pass through the obstructions of the world—until the fruit of our faith at length appear.

Readings taken from Day by Day With John Calvin

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Praying For Your Pastor

Recently, Ligon Duncan, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, MS, posted a list of ways he asked his church to pray for him. It’s a wonderful list, so I’m asking our church to pray for me in this way as well.

1. Pray that Pastor Jim would know and love the living God, would have a saving interest in Christ, being purchased by His blood, and thus would be bound to the Lord by the indissoluble bond of the Holy Spirit.

2. Pray that Pastor Jim would know, embrace and ever more deeply understand the Gospel and be shaped by it in life and ministry.

3. Pray that Pastor Jim would be a useful servant of the Lord; that he would know and love God's word, God's people, and God's kingdom; that he would be used to build it up and so that it prevails even against Hell's gates.

4. Pray that Pastor Jim would study, practice and teach the Word of the Lord, by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

5. Pray that Pastor Jim would love to pray, because he loves to commune with his God, and that he would be a man of prayer, characteristically.

6. Pray that Pastor Jim would be ever dependent upon and filled with the Spirit; and that he would possess true Spiritual wisdom.

7. Pray that Pastor Jim would be holy unto the Lord and that his tongue and heart would be wholly God's.

8. Pray that Pastor Jim would be kept from pride, and especially spiritual pride. Pray that the Lord himself would be gracious to slay pride in him, and that he would endeavor to always be putting pride to death, by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

9. Pray that God would give Pastor Jim guidance as to where to focus his efforts in ministry.

10. Pray that He would protect Pastor Jim from himself, from the enemy of his soul, and from all earthly enemies.

11. Pray that no decision which Pastor Jim ever makes or desire that he ever pursues would restrict his ability to pour his whole soul into the Gospel ministry.

12. Pray that many would be converted and many built up under Pastor Jim's ministry, to God's glory alone.

13. Pray that the Lord would bless Pastor Jim's wife, Miranda, with holiness and happiness, Gospel assurance and Gospel rest.

14. Pray that God would make Pastor Jim a decent husband and father.

15. Pray that Pastor Jim would be a good friend to his wife, and love her self-sacrificially,

16. Pray that Pastor Jim would be a good daddy to his children. Pray that they would love God, their parents and the church.

17. Pray that Pastor Jim would be a testimony in the home so that his wife might be able to respect him when he is in the pulpit, and so that he will be able to feed her soul, along with the rest of the congregation.

Thank you for your prayers!

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Introducing Opposition

Anytime you step out in leadership, you will face opposition. Since that is the case, it’s important to know what you’re up against and how to overcome it. That was the subject of Sunday night’s sermon from Nehemiah 2:9-10. You can access the manuscript here or you can listen or download the audio in the player at the bottom of this page.

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Edwards Wednesday

Philippians 2:13

Infinite Debtors

It is of God that Christ becomes ours, that we are brought to him, and are united to him. It is of God that we receive faith to be close with him, that we may have an interest in him. “For by grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). It is of God that we actually receive all the benefits that Christ has purchased.

It is God that pardons and justifies, and delivers from going down to hell; and into his favor the redeemed are received, when they are justified. So it is God that delivers from the dominion of sin, cleanses us from our filthiness, and changes us from our deformity.

It is of God that the redeemed receive all their true excellency, wisdom and holiness; and that two ways, viz., as the Holy Ghost by whom these things are immediately wrought is from God, proceeds from him, and is sent by him; and also as the Holy Ghost himself is God, by whose operation and indwelling the knowledge of God and divine things, a holy disposition and all grace, are conferred and upheld.

And though means are made use of in conferring grace on men’s souls, yet it is of God that we have these means of grace, and it is he that makes them effectual. It is of God that we have the Holy Scriptures; they are his word. It is of God that we have ordinances, and their efficacy depends on the immediate influence of his Spirit. The ministers of the gospel are sent of God, and all their sufficiency is of him. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Their success depends entirely and absolutely on the immediate blessing and influence of God.

Readings taken from Day By Day With Jonathan Edwards

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Pattern of Worship, Part 2: Truthful Worship

The manuscript of Sunday morning's sermon from John 4:21-28 is available here. You can listen online or download the .mp3 or podcast from the player at the bottom of this page.

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Tuesday Mornings with Augustine

Job 2:10

Honest Praise

Reading about the great trials Job endured makes one shudder, cringe, and quake. Yet, in the end, what did he receive? Double what he had lost.

However, don’t let one who has an eye for temporal rewards suffer patiently, and say to himself, … “Let me bear evils, and God will repay me as He repaid Job.” Such attitudes aren’t really patience but greed. For if Job didn’t suffer with patience and endurance in order to bravely testify of the Lord’s providence, why did he suffer?

Beloved, don’t let those who bear such tribulations look for a reward. If they suffer any losses, don’t let them say, perhaps, “The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away; as it pleased the Lord, so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord,” when all they want is to receive twice as much again. Let your patience praise God, not greed. For if you try to receive double your losses by praising God, you praise Him out of covetousness, not from love.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Pills

“Daddy, make it all go away!” Those can be some of the most heartbreaking words a parent can hear. The words can come through the tears of a love struck drama queen or can be the cry of a deeper, more seriously damaged soul. Either way, when those words are spoken, it leaves the hearer heartbroken and helpless. There is nothing that can be done to erase painful events from our minds. Nothing will truly “make it go away.” That is, possibly until now.

On Monday, the UK Daily Mail published an article detailing a “breakthrough” in the use of beta-blockers. Beta-blockers are currently widely prescribed to heart patients. It seems that new experiments by Dutch researchers are showing that they can also be used to erase painful memories. “In theory, it could eradicate memories of traumatic events that happened years ago. It might also help patients overcome phobias, obsessions, eating disorders and even sexual hang-ups.” Welcome to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World—enjoy your Soma.

As medical technology continues to transcend ethical boundaries, it becomes less and less productive to ask what is possible. With each passing day, possibilities are becoming reality. The more pressing question to ask is what is acceptable. In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul wrote, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.” Arguing the ethics of a medical treatment is a tricky and often unproductive task. Disregarding the question of ethics, even if destroying bad memories was an ethical practice, would it be profitable? The answer to that can only come from a more fundamental question—why does God allow bad things to happen to people in the first place? Once again, we are faced with the question of theodicy—if God is all-powerful and good, why do bad things happen?

John Piper tackles the topic in his book, Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ

Tragedies and calamities and horrific suffering and sinful atrocities should not take Christians off guard. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). They are foreseen by God, and he foretold them for us to know. God sees them coming and does not intend to stop them. Therefore, it appears that they somehow fit into his purposes.
A comprehensive answer to the question of theodicy is far beyond the scope of this post. But the conclusion can be summed up in Romans 8:28. If that verse is true (and it is), then all of the things we experience in life will work together for good—no matter how painful and evil the experience may be at the time. In His all-powerful strength and His all-knowing mind, nothing escapes His plan. Everything is being used to accomplish His plan. In some small part of that, all of our memories and experiences are also part of that plan. All of them are being used to formulate and build and mold us into the people God intends us to be. Far from implying that all of those experiences are good, this view of God’s plan shows us that He uses those experiences in our lives to bring Him glory. His glory is magnified as we allow those heartbreaking memories to bring us to more and more dependence on Christ. The more we can’t handle ourselves, the more we realize that Jesus is the only One who can. So, instead of the deep impassioned cry, “Daddy, make it all go away,” our cry will be, “Lord, make it all work for your glory.”

If we can take a pill that will wipe away our painful memories, that will also wipe away the wonderful opportunity for God to show His glory. It will remove the opportunity to show overcoming strength that only comes from the grace of God, through the person and work of Jesus Christ. In that same book, Piper went on to say, “Maintaining the joy of faith in the face of horrific evil does not happen by coasting. It happens by conquering.”

Jesus did not die to ignore sin. He came to atone for it. Taking a pill to erase painful memories is in effect, ignoring evil. Evil is not to be ignored and forgotten with a pill. It is to be atoned for with the blood of Jesus. God is glorified in the overcoming, not the forgetting.

Philippians 4:11-13

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Pastoral Ministry, Part 2: A Pastor’s Duty and Primary Role

While Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd is the head of the local church, He has ordained the pastor to be His undershepherd. As undershepherd, the pastor is responsible for the protection and feeding of the flock. This does not mean he spoon feeds them as perpetual babies in the Word, but instead ensures their proper growth and nutrition by equipping them with the tools necessary for maturity. He is to protect itching ears in his flock from turning to myths and worldly philosophies by attentively fulfilling his ministry and teaching sound doctrine.

Because of his duty as undershepherd, the primary role of the pastor is to devote himself to prayer and the exposition of Scripture. He is to be a man of fervent prayer because apart from God’s power and hand of blessing, he can accomplish nothing worthwhile. A man can generate enthusiasm, emotions, and attract a following using slick sales techniques and psychological manipulation, but only God can enable him to do the true work of a pastor. The pastor is to be an expositor of Scripture because apart from a firm biblical foundation, he is merely a motivational speaker, speaking dead words to dying people.

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Martyrs Monday

2 Timothy 3:10

He’d heard the rumors. In fact, Thomas had heard it directly from the other disciples who had seen the Master alive. At least that’s what they had said. “When I see his hands and put my fingers into the nail holes, when I put my hand into the hole in his side made by that Roman spear, then I’ll believe he is risen,” Thomas had said.

It wasn’t a miracle Thomas wanted. It wasn’t some great sign or wonder. He merely wanted to see the scars on Jesus’ body, the symbols of his suffering. Though Jesus had conquered death and lived in a glorified body, he still had scars—reminders of the price he paid.

Eight days later Jesus appeared again. How foolish Thomas must have felt when he came face to face with the Master. How silly his grandiose statement must have seemed when the other disciples reminded him of it. However, Jesus did not harshly rebuke Thomas. Looking Thomas in the eye, Jesus offered his hands, encouraging him to touch the scars and to believe.

Christ’s scars remained after his resurrection as a reminder of his still-suffering body. For although he conquered death, his body on earth still suffers. And he can identify with those around the world who bear scars because of their faith in Christ.

Scars are our teachers—vivid reminders of painful lessons. They’re often ugly to look at and not often pointed out for others to notice. Likewise, the scar of persecution in the church is not often the topic of conversation at many Christian gatherings. We consider it unnerving. A mystery. However, its purpose is to teach us. Persecution plays an important part in God’s marvelous plan for the entire world to hear and respond to the gospel. Jesus bore his scars in a public manner. In fact, he encouraged Thomas to touch them in order to teach him. His scars are our teachers—reminding us of the price that was paid for our salvation. We must continue to learn from, not ignore, the price the persecuted church has paid.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

This Week's Memory Verse

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Puritan Passages

1 Thessalonians 4:13

Godly Sorrow—Thomas Doolittle

Leave not the reins loose upon your affections, lest they carry you to sin in your sorrow. Lavish not those tears in washing your dead, which should be kept for lamenting your sins. Let there be a difference between your sorrow and the sorrow of others, as there should be between those that have hope and those that have no hope of a joyful resurrection to eternal, glorious life…. “I would not have you to be ignorant.” Others are, and therefore mourn to excess; but I would not have you to be, that you may not sorrow as they do.

Did you know, think, and believe, that their death is but sleep, out of which they shall certainly awake; their grave… out of which, when the morning of the resurrection shall come, they shall arise, and that their souls in the mean time are with God, and Christ, and the Eternal Spirit, admitted into that glorious society of angels and saints above, perfectly loving, constantly delighting, perpetually praising and triumphing in that God that did choose them, in that Jesus that did redeem them with His blood, in that Holy Spirit that made them meet to be partakers of that inheritance of yonder saints in light, and life, and love. Would you groan while they rejoice? Would you mourn while they sing songs of praise? Are you grieved because they are exalted?

Could you hear them speak to you, they would say, “you are in daily trouble, we in everlasting rest, and peace, and triumph; you are in the field, we have got the victory; you are in danger of sin and Satan, we are freed from them forever; your love unto our Lord and yours, is imperfect love, while ours wants no degree; you know not what we do know of God, and Christ, and Glory; you see not what we do see, nor enjoy so much as we enjoy, therefore spend your tears upon yourselves, and not for us; weep for yourselves, and not for us…. You pray, and wait, and hope to be where we are, but we have no desire to be where you are. We have a better house than you live in, better company, and better work, and sweeter employment; therefore, sorrow for your selves, and not for us.”

Readings taken from Day by Day with the English Puritans

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

I'd take it too, Charlie Brown!

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Theological Valentine

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield was one of the most brilliant theologians America has ever produced. As a bulwark against the liberal theology of the 19th century, he was the last conservative to occupy the Charles Hodge Chair of Theology at Princeton Seminary. He was the principle of that seminary from 1887 to 1921. His defense of the inerrancy of Scripture is unmatched to this day and was responsible for stemming the tide of neo-orthodoxy and countering the influence of German higher criticism. His work made it acceptable to be a thinker and still hold to the doctrinal tenets of Scripture. The teaching and voluminous writings of Warfield have had an essential and enduring impact on all theological conservatives and biblical inerrantists. His impact on today’s Bible believing church is immeasurable.

But despite the impact of his scholarly contributions, they were not his greatest accomplishment. As a matter of fact, theological endeavors were not even the most important events of his daily routine. The most important events of each day of B. B. Warfield’s adult life concerned something that most people never knew about him. It was a part of his life that was never publicized. Even today, although many people are familiar with his theology, most are unfamiliar with how his theology played out in his own home.

In 1876, when Warfield was a young man of 25, he married the love of his life Annie. He was studying in Germany at the time, so they decided to honeymoon there. As they were hiking in the Harz Mountains outside of Leipzig, they were overtaken by a tremendous thunderstorm. Fear and panic from the storm left the newly wedded Mrs. Warfield practically incapacitated from neurological trauma. From that point until the day she died in 1915, she was an invalid who required the constant attention and care of her husband.

Although in constant demand, for the rest of Annie’s life, Dr. Warfield refused to travel the lecture circuit. European tours were out of the question. By all accounts, he seldom left her bedside for more than two hours at a time.

In today’s world, many might ask, why would such a brilliant scholar limit himself in such a way? The reason is simple, yet profound. He didn’t limit himself. His life was full—of love. The great scholar, Dr. B. B. Warfield, understood many things about God and the way He chose to reveal Himself in Scripture. He had a deep and profound understanding about God’s covenant love for His people. But more than that, he also understood how to live out that covenant love in the covenant love he had for his own wife.

Warfield understood that his marriage was a picture of Christ’s love for the church and even though we are broken and marred and stained and worthless to Him, He loves us anyway. He loves us enough to care for us and nurture us and never leave our side.

Warfield understood theology. Do I know that because of the 10 volumes of his works on my shelf which I occasionally attempt to muddle my way through? In a way—but even more so, I know that he understood theology by the way he treated his wife. Although she had nothing with which to offer him, he loved her anyway and emptied himself for her.

Romans 5:6-8

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Spurgeon Saturday

2 Kings 25:30

Jehoiachin was not sent away from the king’s palace with a store to last him for months, but his provision was given him as a daily pension. Herein he well pictures the happy position of all the Lord’s people. A daily portion is all that a man really wants. We do not need tomorrow’s supplies; that day has not yet dawned, and its wants are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet; if we have enough for each day as the days arrive we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy. We cannot eat or drink or wear more than the day’s supply of food and raiment; the surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveller, but a bundle of staves is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy. This is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this is ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more, we should be content with his daily allowance. Jehoiachin’s case is ours, we have a sure portion, a portion given us of the king, a gracious portion, and a perpetual portion. Here is surely ground for thankfulness.

Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of strength. Day by day must you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that a daily portion is provided for you. In the word, through the ministry, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God you shall receive renewed strength. In Jesus all needful things are laid up for you. Then enjoy your continual allowance. Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy.

Readings taken from Logos Bible Software version of Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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