12.31.2012

Gadsby #3

3 L.M. R. Burnham
The Power of God. Exod. 15:6; Ps. 62:11

1 God is my everlasting King;
God is my Strength, and I will sing;
His power upholds my feeble frame,
And I’m victorious through his name.

2 Devils retreat when he appears;
Then I arise above my fears,
And every fiery dart repel,
And vanquish all the force of hell.

3 Through the Redeemer’s precious blood,
I feel the mighty power of God;
Through the rich aid divinely given,
I rise from earth, and soar to heaven.

4 [Dear Lord, thy weaker saints inspire,
And fill them with celestial fire;
On thy kind arm may they rely,
And all their foes shall surely fly.]

5 Now, Lord, thy wondrous power exert,
And every ransomed soul support;
Give us fresh strength to wing our way
To regions of eternal day.

6 [There may we praise the great I AM,
And shout the victories of the Lamb;
Raise every chorus to his blood,
And triumph in the power of God.]

"God is my strength and I will sing," reminds me of how Tolkein described the army of Rohan coming to the aid of Gondor at Minas Tirith, "And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and the sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City" (Return of The King, Book 5, Chapter 5). Christians sing throughout their lifelong battle because their victory is secure and they wield a great Power, or rather are wielded by the one who is Power, as they ride into battle. Song is inevitable.

Perhaps the most shocking thing is that God's manifests power most clearly through the death of the Son. Power through death, who would have thought!

12.28.2012

Gadsby #2


 2 C.M. Isaac Watts
The Eternity of God. Ps. 90:2; Lam. 5:19; Hab. 1:12

1 Lord, raise my soul above the ground,
And draw my thoughts to thee;
Teach me, with sweet and solemn sound,
To praise the eternal Three.

2 Long ere the lofty skies were spread,
Jehovah filled his throne;
Or Adam formed, or angels made,
The Maker lived alone.

3 His boundless years can ne’er decrease,
But still maintain their prime;
Eternity’s his dwelling-place,
And ever is his time.

4 While like a tide our minutes flow,
The present and the past,
He fills his own immortal NOW,
And sees our ages waste.

5 The sea and sky must perish too,
And vast destruction come!
The creatures! look how old they grow,
And wait their fiery doom.

6 Well; let the sea shrink all away,
And flame melt down the skies,
My God shall live an endless day
When the old creation dies.

"Sweet and solemn," are words seemingly at odds in describing our praise of God. Praising God should be sweet, full of expressing our delight in Him, and solemn too, since He is God and He created us. In part, solemnity stems from our creature status and His Creator status while sweetness flows from the reality of salvation in Christ.

The thought of anything being infinite or eternal should rightly put our simple understanding of things into a steep tailspin. God is incomprehensible. Try to fathom eternity. Now try to measure the One who is eternal. Compare your time to His.

Can you imagine a new creation? A new everything (Rev. 21:5)? The recreation has already begun.

12.27.2012

Gadsby #1

Lord willing, I am going to try to read one hymn from the Gadsby hymnal each day and share my thoughts on it here. Here goes nothing...

#1 C.M. Isaac Watts
The Infinity of God. Ps. 147:5; Heb. 4:13

1 Great God! how infinite art thou!
What worthless worms are we!
Let the whole race of creatures bow,
And pay their praise to thee!

2 Thy throne eternal ages stood,
Ere seas or stars were made;
Thou art the ever-living God,
Were all the nations dead.

3 [Nature and time quite naked lie
To thy immense survey,
From the formation of the sky,
To the great burning day.]

4 Eternity, with all its years,
Stands present in thy view;
To thee there’s nothing old appears –
Great God! there’s nothing new!

5 Our lives through various scenes are drawn,
And vexed with trifling cares,
While thy eternal thought moves on
Thy undisturbed affairs.

6 Great God! how infinite art thou!
What worthless worms are we!
Let the whole race of creatures bow,
And pay their praise to thee!

All of time, space, and every conceivable thing seen from every possible angle lies "quite naked" in God's sight. It is impossible for God to not know something. And because God descends from unthinkable heights of His being and dwells with us, we can be assured that He knows the future of each one of us.

Nothing is new to God and nothing is old. God is "vexed" by the "trifling cares" of the world in the same way an unkempt college student is bothered by an errant pair of dirty socks on his bedroom floor.

For His grandeur in infinitude and eternality, all creation has ample reason to praise and fear our great God.

11.30.2012

Higher Than This



This is the Hubble Extreme Deep Field, the deepest image of the universe ever taken in visible light. The farthest galaxy in this picture is over 13 billion light-years away (HT: APOD).

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him..." Psalm 103:11

11.26.2012

Run For The Closet

Were men but once acquainted with that relief and cheerfulness of spirit, which a good conscience and a spiritual address to God in prayer afford in the midst of troubles, they would run to their closets, rather than to taverns and ale-houses, to divert and cure their troubles.
 - Flavel, The Reasonableness of Personal Reformation, 508 

Taverns and ale-houses. Malls and Amazon.coms. ESPNs and reality shows. Funny websites and social media. You name it. It is strange how we neglect very good things for often very empty things which cannot cure our troubles. Sin not only makes us stupid - it makes us forgetful. 

11.25.2012

What a place is this!

Thus far did I come laden with my sin;
Nor could aught ease the grief that I was in
Till I came hither: What a place is this!
Must here be the beginning of my bliss?
Must here the burden fall from off my back?
Must here the strings that bound it to me crack?
Blest Cross! blest Sepulchre! blest rather be
The Man that there was put to shame for me.
- John Bunyan as quoted in F. Leahy, The Cross He Bore, p. 73

11.20.2012

Luther's If-Then

Luther:

"He died for me; he made his righteousness mine and made my sin his own; and if he made my sin his own, then I do not have it, and I am free."

- Quoted in "The Cross He Bore", Frederick S. Leahy, p. 42

11.05.2012

Election Night Prayer

Father in heaven, as the USA votes tomorrow, I pray

that all of your people would vote,

that You would move your people to participate in choosing the authorities you have established (Rom. 13:1),

that You would open our eyes to the blessings we so easily overlook in a democratic system which approves good and punishes evil, albeit imperfectly, for You have established all authorities in perfect wisdom;

that evil acts which are now approved and legal may be rejected and punished,

that you would give your people further courage to lead in government positions and be lights in dark places,

that all peoples and rulers may bow the knee and kiss the Son in loving worship (Ps. 2),

and that your people would serve, honor, and treasure the King of kings, Jesus Christ, far above any temporary, much less than dust, easily forgettable government administration.

Grow in your people's hearts an ever-increasing affection and passion for the gospel of Christ even as the love of many grows cold and send us out with loud heralding as Jesus builds His Kingdom, which is forever and ever, amen.

9.20.2012

How Can We Endure?

John Piper on how Romans 1:16,17 tells us how faith carries us to the end amidst our struggle with sin:

"In Romans 8:13 Paul says, "If you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." But the problem is, we all know that in our war with sin we do not win often enough to have peace in our consciences. So if our life hangs on perfect winning in the war with sin, we are going to despair and not persevere to the end. We will simply give up, because there is no use trying.

What then will keep us going and fighting so that we will live? Romans 1:16,17 answers: the gospel is the power of God to save believers because in the gospel we can see revealed every day that our standing with God is not based on our own righteousness but on God's, freely given to us by faith. And when we see that over and over in the gospel, day after day, as long as we live, our faith is renewed and sustained, and we press on in the fight. Our confidence that God will help us in life and save us from the wrath to come is based on our ever-renewed assurance that our acceptance with him is based on the gift of his own righteousness, not ours."

Via Desiring God - http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/how-does-the-gospel-save-believers-part-3

7.29.2012

True Delight

Thou lovely Source of true delight,
Whom I unseen adore;
Unveil Thy beauties to my sight,
That I may love Thee more. 
Thy glory o’er creation shines;
But in Thy sacred Word,
I read in fairer, brighter lines,
My bleeding, dying Lord. 
’Tis here, whene’er my comforts droop,
And sins and sorrows rise,
Thy love with cheerful beams of hope,
My fainting heart supplies. 
Jesus, my Lord, my Life, my Light,
O come with blissful ray;
Break radiant through the shades of night,
And chase my fears away. 
Then shall my soul with rapture trace
The wonders of Thy love;
But the full glories of Thy face
Are only known above.
Anne Steele

A few things:

1. If you aren't naturally a happy-go-lucky person in most of life, reading Anne Steele's hymns and poems will probably help you see Jesus and bring your pains to Him. They helped me.

2. Love of Jesus should be the only motive for the Christian's obedience. All other motives are faulty and miss the mark. The Christian life is wrapped up in Divine Love for a reason.

3. Reread the second stanza. We rightly ascertain God's glory in the realm of creation (Psalm 19:1-2), but there is a higher realm where we comprehend and see God - his Word - i.e. the Living Word, Jesus, and the written word, the Bible, of which we receive Spirit-wrought revelation. The "sacred Word" alone contains the "fairer brighter lines" that speak of the Word of God, who was with God and who is God.

4. It is ok to pray and sing to God in the midst of pain. I would think that if we are not bringing our pains in our personal and corporate communion with God, we are betraying the reality of sin and suffering in the normal Christian life. Sing your sorrows and live in reality. An overhyped spirituality of dominant victory in Christian living betrays reality. As Matt Chandler wisely said once, "It's ok to not be ok, but it's not ok to stay that way."

5. One day, soon, we will see the "full glories of Thy face". Let that fuel hope.

6. Go listen to a great version of this hymn by Indelible Grace here and buy the album. You can thank me later.

7.26.2012

The Intimate Sacrifice

Ed Welch, on how Jesus expresses the physical symbols of the OT sacrificial system in spiritual realities:
If this sounds technical and ritualistic, you are missing the story. It is all very intimate. 
We are brought into the temple, the place of God's presence. 
We lay hands on the Lamb of God. Our sin and shame are transferred to him as he identifies with us. 
When the sacrifice is completed, the Priest sprinkles cleansing blood on us, and the temple curtain that separated us from the most holy areas of God's presence is torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). The final barrier between God and us is gone. 
We are invited to a fellowship meal, which we now call the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). 
Once you lay hands on the Lamb, everything changes. 
— Ed Welch, "Shame Interrupted", p. 191

7.19.2012

A New Property of Great Price

Thomas Chalmers tells us how hard it is for man to give up the things in the world he loves:
To estimate the magnitude and the difficulty of such a surrender, let us only think that it were just as arduous to prevail on him not to love wealth, which is but one of the things in the world, as to prevail on him to set wilful fire to his own property. This he might do with sore and painful reluctance, if he saw that the salvation of his life hung upon it. But this he would do willingly, if he saw that a new property of tenfold value was instantly to emerge from the wreck of  the old one. 
 – Thomas Chalmers, "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection"
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." Matthew 13:44 
 

7.18.2012

Remember Your Baptism

This is another engagement of the truth, and faithfulness, and holiness of God, so that we cannot be deceived in this matter. "There is," says God, "forgiveness with me." The soul says, "How, Lord, will I know, how will I come to be assured of it? For, by reason of the perpetual accusations of conscience, and the curse of the law upon the guilt of my sin, I find it a very hard matter for me to believe. Like Gideon, I want to have a token of forgiveness." Why, look, says God, "I will give you a pledge and token of it, which cannot deceive you. When the world of old was overwhelmed with a flood of waters because of their sins, and those who remained, though they had just cause to expect the same judgment would again befall them or their children, because they saw the same cause of it still remained, the thoughts and imaginations of the hearts of men being still evil, and that continually. To secure them against these fears, I told them that I would destroy the earth no more with water; and I gave them a token of my faithfulness therein, by placing my bow in the cloud. And have I failed them? Though the sin and wickedness of the world has been, since that day, unspeakably great, yet mankind are not drowned again, nor ever will be: I will not deceive their expectation from the token I have given them. Wherever, then, there is a word of promise confirmed with a token, never fear a disappointment. But so is this matter. I have declared that there is forgiveness with me; and to give you assurance thereof, I have ordained this ordinance [baptism] to confirm my word, and take away all suspicion of your being deceived. As the world shall be drowned no more, so neither shall they who believe come short of forgiveness. 
 – John Owen, "The Forgiveness of Sin", pp. 169-170, language updated 
The pledge and token of God's forgiveness for the Christian is baptism. Do not forget your baptism. Remember your baptism and union with Christ. If guilt and shame attack, remember your union with the once dying and now forever living Lord. And if you have been born-again and have not been baptized, what are you waiting for?

5.01.2012

Gospel Hammer To A Thick Skull

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits..." (Psalm 103:2)

"Bless" - Psalm 103 is characterized by David preaching to himself. He is basically trying to knock all the benefits and goodness of God into his thick skull by means of repetitious and expansive reminder. But David does not only want to remember God's benefits, he reminds himself to "bless the LORD". God's benefits should move us to bless Him.

"the LORD" - The giver of the goodness and the recipient of our blessing is the eternal Jehovah. This is the God who revealed Himself to Moses on the mountain. This is the uncreated Creator, the great I AM. 

"forget not" - Every day, preferably sooner than later, we should be recalling all of God's goodness and benefits toward us. When we forget God and what he has done for us, bad things happen. Those who forget God will eventually forsake God. Don't forget Him!

"all his benefits" - Go on to read the rest of Psalm 103 and consider all the benefits of God given to you. They are astounding and worthy of much meditation. Bring these things to memory daily and you will surely grow in the knowledge of God's grace and in your own faith. 

1.03.2012

Why Should I Give Money To My Church?


I recently wrote this post at the request of my friend Adam Miller. You can find it originally posted here along with many other articles worthy of your time.

If you’re a young adult, you may find yourself asking the question, “Why should I give to my church?” You may have answered that question (or heard it answered) in several different ways. I don’t need to give that much. I need the little money I have. I can’t afford to give. I don’t have to give to my church since I give elsewhere. I’ll give later when I have more money.

Notwithstanding the evasive answers that are dribble from the mouths of young adults like you and I, there are some very good reasons why you should give to your church.

Giving follows receiving

You should give because God gives to you so that you would generously give to others. Paul testifies in 2 Cor. 9:11 that “you will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way.” Have you received anything? Then you should give generously. God doesn’t want you to hoard anything. He structured his provision to not only be received, but also spread.

Giving meets needs

Local churches don’t have money trees growing in the prayer garden; they need financial support. It is appropriate to fund those who tirelessly minister the gospel to our souls (1 Cor. 9:9-14). It’s heartbreaking to see a church struggle when its people don’t provide financial support. Those who labor full time in the ministry will almost always need the financial support of those who aren’t in full time ministry, i.e. the vast majority of the church – you and I.

Giving glorifies God

Think through this exchange of hands: God gives, you receive, you give, another receives, and then what does the recipient do? What is your natural reaction when someone gives you something you need? You thank them. When we give what God has given us, we are putting a match to the fuel of praise that will burn up in thanksgivings that glorify God (2 Cor. 9:12).

Giving benefits us

God has wonderfully orchestrated giving to benefit the recipient and the giver. The extremely poor people in Macedonia begged to take part in an offering to meet the needs of other Christians. They saw giving as something that benefitted them. When we give, we become like the character personified in Ps. 112:9 – “He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever” (emphasis mine). There is a soul-strengthening, vivifying, gladdening stream that is reserved for givers.

Giving imitates Jesus

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Jesus gave more than we can imagine so that we would become rich beyond our wildest dreams. If Jesus gave and we call ourselves his people, his Church, we should imitate our Lord and become loving, living examples of our heavenly Benefactor.

I’ve heard it said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Lk. 12:34). So follow your treasure map to that X placed over your heart, cut open that steeled vault, and find a new home for your treasure.