Archive for May, 2010

I’m glad to see that Paul Tripp is back actively blogging.  Here’s just a taste of how he insightfully and precisely applies the Scripture to the human heart:

Look around and you will see the evidence that we have gone crazy. We are a culture that is deeply in debt because our cravings are bigger than our means, and so we have charged ourselves into financial oblivion. Our cravings are bigger than what is needful and healthy, so we have eaten ourselves into ill health; obesity becoming a national health crisis. We have lived for the buzz; becoming addicted to an endless variety of substances and experiences that give us short term relief. We reduce one another to vehicles of happiness instead of objects of love; living in cycles of relational dysfunction and separation. We stand before closets that would clothe the third world and tell ourselves that we have nothing to wear. We stand in front of stuffed refrigerators and tell ourselves that we really have nothing to eat. We are jealous of one another and threatened by the prospect that the good life will pass us by, and we cope with it all by numbing ourselves with things that are not healthy, or with hour after hour of the brain-deadening pleasure-porn that we call entertainment. And we wake up no more at rest or at peace than the day before; hoping to succeed more, acquire more, enjoy more, possess more, experience more, love more, and feel more; all so we can smile more. We are driven and crazy and Psalm 73 gives us the answer.

If this ministered to you, read his whole post on “Too Easy to Be Senseless.”

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A timely word from Sinclair Ferguson. I can’t commend his book By Grace Alone highly enough!

As soon as we come to Christ, we find ourselves in territory that is full of hidden mines–sinister explosive devices planted by a malignant hand in an attempt to destroy our Christian faith.

Of course, Satan can attack but never ultimately destroy true Christian faith, because we are preserved by grace. Therefore, he seeks to destroy our enjoyment of the grace of God. In this, sadly, he frequently succeeds.

One of the ways in which he does this is by “the fiery darts” with which  he attacks the Christian.

This language, of course, is drawn from Paul’s words in Ephesians:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. (Eph. 6:11-16, emphasis added)

The Christian needs the “shield of faith” for protection against Satan’s darts. Paul’s word here for “shield” (thureos) comes from the Greek word for the door (thura). It refers to the long, oblong shield Roman soldiers carried into battle for whole-body protection. It was more than four feet long and two feet wide.

These shields were deplored in different ways. One technique was to dampen the shields so that  blazing arrows fired against them would be quenched. The opening moments of the movie Gladiator vividly portray such a scene–arrows with tips dipped in pitch and set ablaze shot toward enemy forces, creating panic in the ranks in order to put them to flight.

Paul makes use of this picture when he describes the Christian’s spiritual armor. Clearly he is not thinking about the Roman soldier who is standing guard over him in prison–although he is indeed behind bars. Soldiers assigned to such duty did not normally carry the equivalent of a small door! Rather, in his minds eye, Paul sees a Roman soldier on the battlefield, kitted out for action.

Jesus builds His church on enemy-occupied territory (Matt. 16:18). The Christian lives on the battlefield. He or she is exposed to the attacks of the Evil One. But the gospel provides marvelous defensive armor that can withstand all of Satan’s opposition.

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From Randy Alcorn:

With all the attention on the NBA playoffs, it seems a fitting time to tell a basketball story.

John Wooden, now 99 years old, was the first person to become a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player (class of 1961) and as a coach (class of 1973).  Wooden’s UCLA teams won an incredible ten NCAA National Championships in a twelve year period. He coached national championship teams, and all-time NBA greats such as Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Bill Walton.

John Wooden is a Christian. He says, “I have always tried to make it clear that basketball is not the ultimate. It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live. There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior.”

Wooden reads the Bible daily and attends a Christian Church. He says, “If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me.”

Rest of a great article here.

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In case you missed it Roy Halladay pitched a perfect game on Saturday for the Philadelphia Phillies.  There have only been 20 perfect games in the history of MLB.

Halladay used to play for the Toronto Blue Jays and so Tim Challies has drawn some illustrative spiritual principles on this pitching legend.

Spiritual Posture

They Had Been with Jesus

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Thanks to all those who are serving or have served in defense of our nation’s freedoms.  Katharine Lee Bates’ words still are true:

O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife, Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life!

America, America!  May God thy gold refine,Till all success be nobleness and every grace divine!

This Memorial Day, don’t forget  those who have fallen for freedom’s sake!

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Love this:

“There are certain things which have to be said over and over again, of necessity, and yet this is the marvel and the wonder of the cross, that however many times a man may preach about it, he has never finished preaching about it.  There is always something fresh to say, always something new.  There is a great central message that is always there, but nothing is so wonderful as to see that one thing in different ways . . . . During these twenty-six years in my Westminster pulpit there have been times when in my utter folly I have wondered, or the devil has suggested to me, that there is nothing more for me to say, that I have preached it all.  I thank God that I can now say that I feel I am only at the beginning of it.  There is no end to this glorious message of the cross, for there is always something new and fresh and entrancing and moving and uplifting that one has never seen before.”

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Cross (Westchester, 1986), pages 155-156.

(HT: RO)

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Sinclair Ferguson in By Grace Alone (p. 57):

“Do you see what spiritual therapy is? The divine Counselor does not say to the person who feels guilt for sin, “You don’t need to worry about this.”  That would be a counsel of despair. Such words have no power.

But when you say to someone who feels guilty, You are guilty; you really are guilty, ” then you also can say, “But there is a way in which your guilt can be dealt with.”

No therapist, no psychiatrist can relieve you of your guilt.  He or she may help you to resolve feelings of false guilt that can arise for a variety of reasons. Prescription drugs may provide certain kinds of ease.   But no therapy, no course of drugs, can deliver you from real guilt.  Why?  Because being guilty is not a medical condition or a chemical disorder. It is a spiritual reality.  It concerns your standing before God. The psychiatrist cannot forgive you; the therapist cannot absolve you; the counselor cannot pardon you.

But the message of the gospel is this:  God can forgive you, and He is willing to do so.”

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