Sunday, May 08, 2011

Great Help For The Battle Against Sin

This is so good I had to awaken from my blog slumber to pass it along:

“To gain entire likeness to Christ, I ought to get a high esteem of the happiness of it.  I am persuaded that God’s happiness is inseparably linked in with his holiness.  Holiness and happiness are like light and heat.  God never tasted one of the pleasures of sin.

Christ has a body such as I have, yet he never tasted one of the pleasures of sin.  The redeemed, through all eternity, will never taste one of the pleasures of sin; yet their happiness is complete. . . . Every sin is something away from my greatest enjoyment. . . .

The devil strives night and day to make me forget this or disbelieve it.  He says, Why should you not enjoy this pleasure as much as Solomon or David?  You may go to heaven also.  I am persuaded this is a lie – that my true happiness is to go and sin no more.”

Andrew A. Bonar, editor, Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Edinburgh, 1987), pages 154-155.

Thanks so much to Ray Ortlund for posting this originally here. If you don’t read Ray’s blog you’re missing consistently great thoughts and insights.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Things That Make You Say “Ouch”

Kevin DeYoung is among the many young pastor/theologians whose writings give me great hope for the survival of passionate, orthodox Christianity in America. Below is an excerpt of observations he gleaned from studying what the book of Proverbs has to say on the topic of relational conflict. It’s good stuff. (Though painful to notice in yourself.)

So what does a quarrelsome person look like? What are his (or her) distinguishing marks?

1. You defend every conviction with the same degree of intensity. You don’t talk about secondary issues, because there are no secondary issues.

2. You are quick to speak and slow to listen. You rarely ask questions and when you do it is to accuse or to continue prosecuting your case. You are not looking to learn, you are looking to defend, dominate, and destroy.

3. Your only model for ministry and faithfulness is the showdown on Mount Carmel. There is a place for sarcasm, but when Elijah with the prophets of Baal is your spiritual hero you may end up mocking people instead of making arguments.

4. You are incapable of seeing nuances and you do not believe in qualifying statements.

5. You never give the benefit of the doubt. You do not try to read arguments in context. You put the worst possible construct on other’s motives and the meaning of their words.

6. You have no unarticulated opinions.

7. You are unable to sympathize with your opponents.

8. Your first instinct is to criticize. Your last is to encourage.

There are more. You can read the rest here.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Read Your Bible S-l-o-w-l-y In 2011

Writing in his blog, Kaleidoscope, at the beginning of the Advent season my friend Bob Withers called attention to the genealogy in Matthew Chapter 1. He pointed out how unusual it was that four women are mentioned, who, from a Jewish perspective had major negatives associated with them. Ruth was a Gentile, and the other three, Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba (listed as “the wife of Uriah”) had serious moral defects.

With that tidbit tucked away in the back of my mind, today I renewed my annual habit of reading through the entire Bible in a year. With a little extra time on my hands because of taking a day off, I was able to read Matthew’s first chapter slowly, and reflect on that genealogy. Not only do the above mentioned women appear, but it dawned on me these were the only women mentioned in Matthew’s list. Think about it: each of the men listed had a wife who was in the line of the Messiah. Matthew, however, records only these four women. Four women who had what we would today call “issues”. Matthew, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is highlighting these four to those who would read carefully.

Reading this passage slowly allowed me to notice and rejoice in the awesome fact that God chooses and uses people who are from a human standpoint the least exemplary. And what a great hope this is for all those like me who wouldn’t make anyone else’s list of notable persons.

Prayer for 2011

To start off the New Year I thought I’d begin with a helpful prayer from Ray Ortlund:

Lord Jesus, in this new year of grace, 2011, give us eyes to see where our churches need repair, hearts to desire the experience of your glory, and above all else, the sheer grace of your felt presence coming down on your imperfect but yearning churches!

His prayer results from solid reflection on the need of our churches to experience the active presence of Christ:

“Our aim as pastors is not only that our churches will be well assembled, thoughtfully and carefully and biblically obedient.  That is important.  But our desires don’t end there.  We desire the dwelling of the risen Christ among us.  We desire his felt presence.  We desire him.

If we are not experiencing his glory coming down upon us, we need to ask if we have been disobedient in any aspect of what we have built or failed to build.  Even if we have built well, we need to ask if we have settled for mere constructional obedience.  The Lord has more for us than that.  He has himself to give.”

The whole post is well worth reading.