Archive for July 20th, 2012

From Nathan at Gentle Reformation:

Many people have trouble sleeping today. Medical doctors talk about three stages of insomnia: early, middle, and late onset. For some, sleeplessness is a physiological issue, for others it is a moral issue. I am not going to diagnose you or judge whether your sleeplessness is ethical or physiological… but I can point you to Jesus.

Anne Bradstreet, an American Puritan, and poet, knew the trials of a sleepless night. Let Mrs. Bradstreet point you to Jesus:

By Night When Others Soundly Slept 

By night when others soundly slept
And hath at once both ease and Rest,
My waking eyes were open kept
And so to lie I found it best.

I sought him whom my Soul did Love,
With tears I sought him earnestly.
He bow’d his ear down from Above.
In vain I did not seek or cry.

My hungry Soul he fill’d with Good;
He in his Bottle put my tears,
My smarting wounds washt in his blood,
And banisht thence my Doubts and fears.

What to my Saviour shall I give
Who freely hath done this for me?
I’ll serve him here whilst I shall live
And Love him to Eternity.

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Husbands, quiz your wives

Mark in “Husbands, Test Your Wives” encourages all husbands to go read Ephesians 5:23-33 and then ask your wives some questions:

  1. In what ways am not giving myself up for you?
  2. In what ways do I hinder your walk with God?
  3. In what ways do I help your walk with God?
  4. Are there any areas in our marriage that you feel we are not of one flesh?
  5.  How can I better demonstrate my love for you?

Mark continues,

Men, take your wife’s answers to the cross and pray over them deeply.

The above exercise is one suggestion of how husbands may have gospel conversations with their wives. Husbands, use your own questions and methods if you wish, but be encouraged to engage your wife spiritually to find out how to better love and sanctify her in the word. If we husbands are not engaging our wives regularly and leading them spiritually then we are failing at the primary ministry that God has given us. Remember, husbands and wives are joint heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7) and an excellent wife is her husbands crown (Proverbs 12:4).

Husband, love your wife – pray with her, lead her, disciple her, protect her, sacrifice for her, die for her.

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By now, you have heard about the massacre in Denver.  Albert Mohler writes “The Dark Night in Denver–Groping for Answers”:

The inevitable media swarm focuses on the data first — the who, what, when, and where questions. Then they, along with the public at large, begin to ask the why question. That is always the hard one.

The same vexing but inescapable question comes every time a Columbine happens or an Anders Behring Breivik attempts to justify his mass homicide. How could such a thing happen? How could a human being do such a thing?

There is no easy answer to this question. The easy answers are never satisfying, and they are often based in the confused moral calculus of popular culture. We assume there must have been a political motivation, a psychiatric disturbance, a sociological pressure . . . anything that will offer a satisfying explanation that will assure us. Wave after wave of analysis is offered, and sometimes some horrifying clues emerge. But the moral madness of mass homicide can never be truly explained.

Christians are driven by instinct to think in biblical and theological terms. But, how should that instinct be guided?

Mohler continues to address the reality of  evil, the grace of moral restraint and the ultimate answer to evil–the cross of Jesus Christ.  Read “The Dark Night in Denver”

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A few pastors think we ought to be careful in describing our world and ourselves as merely “broken.”  They think the words of Scripture such as “sinners” are better employed.

Kevin DeYoung in “The Power of Words and the Nature of Sin” writes,

I’d like to suggest we think more carefully about one of our new favorite words: brokenness. I’m not on a crusade to ban the word from the evangelical lexicon. You don’t have to apologize if you say the word in front of me. It’s not a bad word. It’s just not an adequate word.

What do we communicate with the word “brokenness”? It seems to me the word is a rough synonym for “messed-up-ness.” Worship leaders ask us to confess our brokenness. Pastors tell us we all have brokenness. Sinners under conviction reveal their struggles with brokenness. Often I hear the word used with reference to sexual sin. Someone with a porn addiction may admit his sexual brokenness. Or someone speaking against homosexuality may be quick to assure his audience that we all struggle our own form of sexual brokenness. The word shows up in many delicate situations.

And yet, the word is inadequate at best and misleading at worst. On the good side, “brokenness” conveys an important truth about sin. When we develop an insatiable appetite for porn, when we long for same-sex partners, when we can’t live without people’s approval, we are not functioning the way God intended. God’s Edenic design for human flourishing did not include addictions, unnatural lusts, and fear of man. Marred by sin, none of us is the way we are supposed to be. We are all broken.

But as a metaphor for sin, “brokenness” is seriously limited.

Stephen Altrogge also adds his perspective in “Are We All Just Broken People?”:

These days it’s cool to use the word “broken” when talking about human sinfulness. There is something down and dirty and real life-ish about the word. It sounds authentic, and as everyone knows, authenticity is what it’s all about these days. “We’re all just broken people,” is what I typically hear, and what I’ve said myself from time to time. And there is something true about the statement. In one sense, sin has broken everything. Our entire personhood, from our health, to our intellect, to our sexuality has been “broken” and distorted by sin. We are not how God originally made us.

I think the term is also helpful when talking about the kinds of people who come into our churches. I want messy, “broken” people to come into my church. People whose lives are so jacked up by sin that their only hope is Christ. People whose families, and friendships, and habits, are seriously broken by sin. I want alcoholics and workaholics and sexaholics and self-righteousaholics to come into our church.

But I think we need to be really careful when we use the word “broken” to describe us as Christians. Our fundamental identity is not as broken people, our fundamental identity is found in Jesus Christ.

Read the above links in their entirety so that you understand better the points these authors are making.

What do you think about speaking about brokenness to describe people in the church and in the world?

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A hymn by John Newton (to the tune of Amazing Grace) that is appropriate to sing before the Word is preached:

Thy promise, LORD, and thy command
Have brought us here today;
And now, we humbly waiting stand
To hear what thou wilt say.

Meet us, we pray, with words of peace,
And fill our hearts with love;
That from our follies we may cease,
And henceforth faithful prove.

Now, LORD, inspire the preacher’s heart,
And teach his tongue to speak;
Food to the hungry soul impart,
And comfort to the weak.

Furnish us all with light and power
To walk in Wisdom’s ways;
So shall the benefit be ours,
And thou shalt have the praise.

HT: Challies

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Imagine a line of soldiers in battle, side by side, stationery and set in, guarding a certain location, entrenched so that the enemy can go no further, as they target oncoming soldiers approaching them in the battle. Every soldier, as a team, takes aim at specific targets and fires his weapon, so as to hit specific targets, in order to win the battle. So it ought to be when a church gathers for prayer. Prayer is a weapon, to be used as a church body, standing united in one purpose–to target specific strongholds, the wounded, the dying, specific lost individuals, broken relationships that need healing, those who are seriously ill, other churches, ministries, and specific mission fields, and any special need the church has been made aware of. Every church ought to be praying down the Spirit upon other churches they know, and upon the lives and needs of those truly facing difficulties. “Ready–aim–fire! –aim and fire! -aim and fire!’ ought to be practiced in a true prayer meeting.

To pray for individuals as a church week after week can begin to have direct and powerful influence upon their life and direction. God hears the united and consistent prayers of his people.

Oh, the blessedness of a church body praying together with reality week after week after week, continuing to labor in prayer for the needs of those they hear about–to pray for the needs of both believers and unbelievers, and to do it in love and concern each week as a church body, in agreement and love. This is one of the most glorious experiences possible in church life because it is not a one-time experience, and then it’s over, like an annual conference or an annual vacation, that comes around only once each year; corporate church prayer life is experienced weekly as a church body, and therein lies the encouragement. The church at prayer regularly is a mighty force in the earth. It’s one thing for a true Christian to pray regularly, but it is another thing altogether for a church to labor together at prayer faithfully and continually.

–Mack Tomlison

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Thabiti Anyawbile on 1 John 2:15 which reads: Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

We cannot love the world correctly until we love the Father completely.  I write this with some fear and trembling.  I know that this simple phrase can work in the heart in a couple different ways depending on what spiritual condition you’re in right now.

You may be someone who professes to be a Christian, but you really are not.  You’re like the man in 1 John 2:15 who loves the world and does not have the love of the Father in him.  But you’ve told yourself you do, or you’ve told yourself “Hey, there’s nothing wrong with having things” and so on.  If you’re that person, here’s what just happened when you read “You cannot love the world correctly until we love the Father completely”:  You checked an “I love the Father box” without even thinking about it and you immediately thought of the cravings, desires, things, and activities that you can go on doing in the world.  Rather than hear the statement as an exhortation to more complete love of God, you took that saying as a permission to continue your sinful path.  You’re using the truth of the Bible as an excuse for loving the world more than God.  You’re thinking like the world.

Now, if you’re thinking about this like a Christian, you’ve been asking yourself, “How can I have a more complete love for the Father?”  Your thoughts, desires and actions are drawn not to loving the world correctly but to loving the Father completely.  You might draw assurance and hope and longing just from the statement itself if you’re a Christian that justifiably feels assured of your salvation.  Your entire inside just nodded in agreement and rejoiced at the idea of loving God completely.

But you might be in a third category.  You might be a Christian who struggles with doubt and Christian assurance.  You may have heard that phrase and thought to yourself, “I don’t love the Father completely.”  You might think of the weaknesses in your love, the imperfections.  You want to love the Father more completely but you despair and feel discouraged at ever doing so.  Be encouraged because your heart and mind are in the right direction. Pay attention to the direction in which your heart does truly lean—toward God.  If you were not Christ’s, you would not even have the desire to love the Father.  If you were not Christ’s, you would not mourn over weaknesses in your love.  A weak love is not the same as zero love.  Take heart—the desire to love God that you possess comes from God.  Rest your confidence not on the perfection of your love, but on the perfection of Jesus Christ, who loves you and has loved the Father for you.

How do we know whether we truly love God instead of the world?  We know we love God and not the world when we deny our fallen motivations and desires and seek God’s way of living and God’s glory in everything.  Is that you?

Read Thabiti’s whole article.

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