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Showing posts from March, 2010

counterfeit gospels

Tullian Tchividjian writes in the Gospel Coalition Blog : "In one of [Paul Tripp's] books (co-authored with Tim Lane), How People Change , he identifies seven counterfeit gospels—-”religious” ways we try and “justify” or “save” ourselves apart from the gospel of grace. I found these unbelievably helpful. Which one (or two, or three) of these do you tend to gravitate towards?" Formalism. “I participate in the regular meetings and ministries of the church, so I feel like my life is under control. I’m always in church, but it really has little impact on my heart or on how I live. I may become judgmental and impatient with those who do not have the same commitment as I do.” Legalism. “I live by the rules—rules I create for myself and rules I create for others. I feel good if I can keep my own rules, and I become arrogant and full of contempt when others don’t meet the standards I set for them. There is no joy in my life because there is no grace to be celebrated.” Mysticism

Proverbs a mini-guide to life

Tim Keller writes his observations on the book of Proverbs in the Redeemer City to City blog : "In my regular, daily Bible reading over the past year I read through Proverbs 3, a passage I've studied and preached through many times. But during this reading, I realized that in verses 3 through 12 we have all the themes of the rest of the book, and therefore a kind of mini-guide to faithful living. There are five things that comprise a wise, godly life. They function both as means to becoming wise and godly as well as signs that you are growing into such a life: 1. Put your heart's deepest trust in God and his grace. Every day remind yourself of his unconditioned, covenantal love for you. Do not instead put your hopes in idols or in your own performance. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart (Prov

major construction ahead

“I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted him to do, and we should be obliged if he would leave us alone. But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what he intended us to be when he made us... Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what he is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on. You knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. … But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is he up to? The explanation is that he is building quite a different house from the one you thought of -- throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making cour

where it begins

Was struck by this quote today... "You can organize marches and make your protests. It all comes to nothing, and makes not the slightest difference to anyone. But if you have a large number of individual Christians in a nation, or in the world, then and only then can you begin to expect Christian conduct on the international and national level. I do not listen to a man who tells me how to solve the world's problems if he cannot solve his own personal problems. If a man's home is in a state of discord, his opinions about the state of the nation or the state of the world are purely theoretical." (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life in the Spirit)

current inks

I know you've been dying to see what inks I'm currently using in my fountain pens. Well, a picture is worth a thousand words...
"Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!" (Psalm 65:4 ESV)

living from the center

<== Click to enlarge the gravitate retreat brochure.

on hyssop

"A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." (John 19:29-30 ESV) The Apostle John in his gospel adds a detail not mentioned by the other gospel writers-- that the last drink offered to Jesus was extended on a woody stalk of hyssop. (Hyssop is an aromatic perennial which grows in Palestine, being an herb in the mint family.) The gospel of John, though very readable to Greeks of the first century, was written by a Palestinian Jew and has many Old Testament references throughout, usually in the form of images (like the vine, the shepherd, the stone water pots, etc.) rather than direct quotes from the OT like Matthew. There are also elements of irony, such as Jesus speaking of the temple, referring to himself rather than the building, as his hearers presumed. The mentioning of

finding the real self

"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness." (Romans 6:12-13 ESV) "Give up your self, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day, and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. ... Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage , ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him every thing else thrown in." (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christiani

marriage quote

"In its nature, marriage is of perpetual obligation and can be dissolved in no way by the life of the parties but by some crime which wholly subverts its design. The scriptures mention two such: adultery, and willful, permanent desertion (Matthew 5:32, 19:9, Mark 16:18; 1st Corinthians 7:15). Irratibility of temper, want of congeniality, ungodliness, scolding, penuriousness, insanity, incurable disease, helplessness or consent of parties can give no right to dissolve the marriage bond. The law of God is decisive. The laws of man should be no less so." (William S. Plumer, 1870)

reading notes

"Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. ... Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Timothy 4:13, 16 ESV) On the danger of not preaching the gospel to church members we assume are truly converted, Mark Dever writes: "...assumption on our part too often leads to presumption on theirs. That is, when we assume the Gospel instead of clarifying it, people who profess Christianity but don't understand or obey the Gospel are cordially allowed to presume their own conversion without examining themselves for evidence of it-- which may amount to nothing more than blissful damnation. Our ministries are ultimately about 'ensuring salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.'" (The Deliberate Church, p. 42) Sometimes in pastoral counseling I will ask the counselee(s), "tell me why you think you a

currently reading

The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander. (Crossway, 2005) An Uncommon Union: Dallas Theological Seminary and American Evangelicalism by John D. Hannah . (Zondervan, 2009)

gospel stories

It's important, when reading the gospels, to realize that the individual stories are not strung together like so many beads taken randomly from the bag of the writer's experience. In Mark, for example, the first 8 chapters have to do with a coming-of-sight regarding "who" Jesus is. But after Peter's confession (ch 8) and the transfiguration (ch 9), the rest of the gospel turns on "what" Jesus came to do. And it seems --at first-- impossible to see clearly that the glorious Messiah should be betrayed to wicked rulers and give himself over to an unjust trial and cruel death upon the Roman cross. The disciples must come to grasp not only glory but humility. Just like the two-step miracle in chapter 8 ("I see men as trees walking"... a blurred vision that needs a second touch from the Master for full clarity) so the disciples must learn the character of service in the Kingdom. So as I was reading in chapter 9 I came across these two events, whic

the gospel accepted, assumed, confused, lost...

I came upon a stimulating article by Mack Stiles, former InterVarsity staff worker, on "What's Happening to InterVarsity?" There is definitely a tension in postmodern evangelicalism brought in by emergent church proponents (and others). Some of the criticisms are warranted, but there may be danger in throwing out the historic gospel and its centrality to the church's mandate. Here is an insight that applies to any church or ministry... " don't need much more than a cursory scan of history to see that solid Christian organizations can easily lose the gospel if they are not attentive. Losing the gospel doesn't happen all at once; it's more like a four-generation process. "The gospel is accepted --> The gospel is assumed --> The gospel is confused --> The gospel is lost . "It is tragic for any generation to lose the gospel. But, as Philip Jensen says, the generation that assumes the

lev 26

Read chapter 26 of Leviticus this morning (cf Deut 28-29) re the blessings and judgments of covenant faithfulness, and unfaithfulness, respectively. Some observations: --God seriously desires trust, humility and obedience from his people. --He desires to bless his people with good relationships and joyful prosperity in his land. --The punishments for disobedience come in stages, lesser to greater, which is evidence that they are intended to turn the people back to himself. His desire is restoration. --Confession, repentance and restitution restore relation with God. He is faithful to his covenant and will not abandon his people. --God cares for his creation and wants the land to have its sabbath rest. Creation is not to be abused. --Only Jesus can fulfill completely what is expected in terms of obedience and righteousness before God. The older covenant gives way to the New. Jesus' nature miracles (e.g. feeding the 5000 where all ate and were satisfied) are evidences of thi

sunday sermon notes

From Joe Kelley's message: Seven miracles of Jesus in the Gospel of John (and their applications)... 1. Water to wine (2:1-12) – Changes religious ceremony to the joy of a relationship; Jesus is Lord over nature. 2. Healing of the official’s son (4:43-54) – Gives life to the dying through the one condition of faith. 3. Healing a paralyzed man (5:1-15) – Restores lost powers to the sinner. 4. Feeding 5000 (6:1-15) – Provides the bread of life; He sustains the life He creates. 5. Walking on water (6:16-24) – In the middle of our most trying circumstances He will come to us and bring calm. 6. Healing a man born blind (9:1-12) – As we obey, he opens our eyes to greater truth. 7. Raising Lazarus from the dead (11:1-44) – He is the source of eternal life. The life He provides on earth will continue into eternity.