Archive for July, 2008

“My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior.”

—John Newton, quoted in Jonathan Aitken, John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007), 347

Based on this quote, Michael Tinker has written these words:

Our King is a king of mercy
He gave the blind their sight and the dumb their speech
He healed the sick and raised the dead
Our King is a king of mercy.

Even though our memories may fail us
May we always remember this:
We are great sinners
But we have a great Saviour in Christ.

Our King is a king of cruel scars
He was beaten, stricken, whipped and condemned to die
Though he had done no wrong at all –
Our King is a king of cruel scars.

Our King is a king of passion
‘It is finished!’ he cried out and gave up his life
So we could be his family:
Our King is a king of passion.

Our King is a king of glory
Even death could not keep hold of this king of life
He rose triumphant from the grave
Our King is a king of glory.

(HT: First Importance, Church Matters)

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“Our security is not our grip on Christ but His grip on us!”-D. Edmond Hiebert

“The fifth point of the doctrines of grace is preserving grace. It is often referred to as the perseverance of the saints or eternal security. Others speak of this doctrine by means of the pithy phrase “once saved, always saved.” This is the biblical truth that all those who have been brought to faith in Christ will never be lost. But this doctrine is about more than eternal security. It also includes the lifelong perseverance of the believer in the pursuit of godliness. While the doctrine of election reaches back to eternity past, this doctrine—persevering grace—reaches forward throughout the entirety of one’s Christian life and into eternity future. This doctrine simply establishes that all those chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and regenerated by the Spirit will pursue holiness and be kept secure in Christ forever. The preserving grace of God rests upon the immutability of His sovereign grace to save His elect forever. — Steve Lawson

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Do you ever get frustrated when you share the gospel and there is no response? What do we often do? We go somewhere and think, “What could I have done differently.  Oh, if only I would have said this, brought up this point, or been able to perform some spectacular miracle. I just know he/she would have believed.”  Really?

Think of the people of Jesus’ day.  “Despite the perfection of his life, the power of His miracles, the profundity of His teaching, the testimony of His Father, the witness of the prophets, and the preaching of John the Baptist, the world didn’t know Him [Jesus],” Steve Lawson writes. WOW!  Or as John puts it, “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” (John 1:10-11, ESV).

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Think about it!

“God’s eternal decree to save is greater than man’s sensual desire to sin.”–Steve Lawson

“A Christian should be an Alleluia from head to foot…… That is the truth of  our lives. God made us, redeems us. provides for us. The natural…. logical response for that is praise to God.”–Augustine

“The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.”–Steve Lawson

“If the tongue is not controlled by God, it is a sure indicator that the heart is not, either. . . . Religion that does not transform the heart, and thereby the tongue, is totally worthless in God’s sight.”–John MacArthur

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Gregg Harris,  who spoke at the Rebelution conference, gave an outstanding message on parenting at Covenant LIfe Church last Sunday and my family and I listened to it the last couple of days.  His text was Psalm 127 which speaks about the children of a godly man. Children are both a heritage from the Lord, not a headache to raise. Properly raised and equipped, children are like arrows in the hand of warrior.  Gregg takes a good deal of time to develop this point, speaking about the various parts of an arrow and what they represent.

Parents are the bow that releases the arrow.  For a season the arrow must have a tight relationship with the bow string and the arrow must be pulled back even while the arrow might be thinking, “I was made to go forward not backward.”  But that discipline and restraint is necessary so that the arrow is well aimed and launched. But once the arrow is launched no one admires the bow, but rather watches and applauds when the arrow meets the target.

Gregg urged parents to spend more time with their children.  He said our children don’t need to spend more time with us, rather we parents need to spend more time with our children and impart to them wisdom. We are to talk with them all the time and include them in every area of our life that is possible.  He urged us to train them till we like being with them. Many parents won’t take their children with them to important places because they fear they will be embarrassed by their behavior for their children are undisciplined and need to be bribed to act appropriately.  They fear that children will be bored with what adults do, but children need to “walk with the wise” and not spend their time with foolishe people.

Yes, parents we are all busy, but Gregg implores us to not waste our kids.  Everything that God has given parents to do is compatible with our other callings.  So we should not view our kids as competing against our work obligations, ministry in the local church, or our other relationships in life.  Rather we should bring our children alongside us so that one day they will be a tremendous blessing in the community or as the psalmist says “in the gate” of the city.

Make an investment in the lives of your children today!  Don’t waste your kids.


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Thoughts on hell

I listened yesterday and today to a message by John MacArthur on hell.  Sobering, very sobering!  His message was based on the story in Luke 16 of the rich man and Lazarus.  The story is a one of contrasts and reversals regarding the life, death, and life after death of these two men.  The story shocks the Pharisees because they were the original purveyors of the “health and wealth” and “prosperity” gospel, thinking that riches were a sign of God’s blessing and disease and poverty were sure signs of God’s cursing.  Here are some short, memorable, and jolting statements that Macarthur made about hell.  Keep in mind that he is talking for an hour about hell to a group of young adults.  [Who says the pomo generation won’t sit and listen to serious preaching?]

No one in hell needs a name.  YOu are no one there.  And there are no relationships there. But everyone in heaven has a name.

Hell will be full of religious people who thought they would spend eternity in heaven.

Hell is not remedial, it is punitive. It doesn’t correct you or fix you. It confirms you.  It only punishes you without relief or mitigation forever.

There is no repentance in hell, no remorse in  hell, no seeking forgiveness, no humility, no regeneration, no Holy Spirit.

You can’t avoid hell simply by not wanting to go there.  You can only avoid hell by following the path of salvation revealed in the Word of God.

Religion won’t protect you from hell.

Have you thought seriously about hell lately?

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Here are a couple of interesting pieces trying to apply God’s Word to the huge areas of music and technology

Andree Seu writes, “I used to think one’s music listening habits were inconsequential. Or what theologians call “adiophora” (“things in different”). Nevertheless, when I listen to certain music whose message is at odds with the Truth, I feel a little like I’m cheating on my husband.”

And Vern Poythress writes in “Me, Myself and IPhone”,

Science, it is said, will solve the problems of world hunger. It will bring world peace. And more and better technology will solve the problems introduced by lesser technology.

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Well, sometimes; and in some ways. Maybe science will find an efficient way to harness nuclear fusion to produce clean power—or maybe not. But we can be awash in technology and still be hate-filled or lonely. You can have 200 friends on Facebook and have no one who really knows you, no one who loves you.”

Both articles (links above) are helpful in reminding ourselves that God cares what we sing and how we use technology!

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Are you in control?

According to a 1998 Business Week survey, Americans spend 9.5 hours a day exposing themselves to media including listening to music, watching TV and movies, reading magazines, etc. That was 10 years ago before the rise of laptops, the invention of cellphones with all kinds of video capability like the Iphone, and even the invention of the DVD and downloadable movies on the internet thanks to high speed.  Who knows what the numbers are today.

I love technology but I have to be careful that technology and the media don’t control my mind as a Christian.  I need to use all of these advances for the glory of God in a controlled way.

Speaking of this, Tim Challies has a worthwhile article about this that is worth the read if you use your computer to check email and surf the web or listen or watch I-tunes.

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The second session of the Rebelution Conference we attended over the weekend was led by Brett Harris who gave young people a vision for what doing hard things in their teenage lives would look like.  He gave seven different ideas:

  • Doing hard things means fighting sin your life. Caving into sin is easy. Resisting temptation is hard.
  • Doing hard things means battling discouragement [I could never do that] and complacency [look what I have already done]
  • Doing hard things means doing more than is required [rise above just trying to do what is easy and expected]
  • Doing hard things means getting over the fear of failure [better to try something hard and fail than to not try at all.]
  • Doing hard things will be different for every person [no one can do everything].
  • Doing hard things often means doing small things [like making one’s bed every morning. “Do small things as if they were great, because of the majesty of Jesus Christ.”–Hudson Taylor.
  • Doing hard things is your best life.  It is not your easiest life or your most comfortable life, but it is your best life!

He closed with a quote from G. K. Chesterton, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

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I have only watched Joel Osteen a few times.  It seems like in every “episode” of “Your Best Life Now”, Joel creates some sort of a need in your life, then tells you how him and his wife Victoria have struggled with that need, and then how they overcame and prospered and how you can you do it too if you follow their advice.

Well, Sean Lucas recently watched Joel the other night and shares some observations beginning with:

Last night as I was flipping the channels during a second straight depressing late-inning loss by my Cardinals, I happened onto Joel Osteen’s program. As someone professionally-trained as an American religious historian, it was striking to watch Osteen once again and note both the themes of his message and the manner of his method. In both respects, his popularity is not the result of originality, but his skillful repacking of positive thinking/self-esteem and Pentecostal/charismatic elements. [On this particular episode, his wife Victoria was presiding at the Lord’s Table. While watching that gave me the shivers, it was also striking how much less skillful and how much more plastic she was compared to Joel.]

Read the rest here.

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