Monday, August 30, 2010

Instead of Working for Wages, We Now Run for a Crown

A portion of a prayer from Scotty Smith:

The gospel sets us free from working for wages. We now run for a crown. Ultimately, every crown will be laid at your feet, Jesus, for you have earned our salvation for us. Our obedience merits nothing, but it does show that we love you (John 14:15). How can we honestly say we love you if we disregard what you say?

The gospel sets us free from running aimlessly and beating the air. We now live in a story of redemption and restoration. All of history is bound up with your commitment to redeem your people from the nations and to make all things new. We praise you for rescuing us from a little narrative of self-fulfillment for a life of kingdom advancement. There is grace for the whole race. We can make no excuses.

The gospel sets us free from beating ourselves up because of shame and pride. We now train ourselves for godliness. We are to bring our appetites and bodies in submission to the gospel (1 Timothy 4:7-8). Forgive us when we are more disciplined out of vanity than out of a commitment to grow as your disciples. Fitting into our pants is not as important as revealing your beauty.

Jesus, you are the one who has “won the prize” for all of us. Only the gospel qualifies us to “share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light” (Col. 1:12). We do not fear losing our salvation. But do let us fear, and grieve, misrepresenting you and “frittering away” this one short life you’ve given us. Show us how to do all things for the sake of the gospel… by the grace and truth of the gospel. So very Amen, we pray, in your most loving name.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Truth Never Excuses Sin

But I have a few things against you:
you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam
~ Revelation 2:14

I had the privilege of teaching God's precious Word to the saints at Meadow Ridge Bible Chapel this evening. We learned about the teaching of Balaam.

I appreciated G. Campbell Morgan's insights into this particular passage of scripture and thought I'd pass along his conclusion.

The central lesson of the study [on the church at Pergamum] is a very solemn one. The church of Jesus Christ must not tolerate within her borders those who lower the standard of truth's requirements. This is not a question of holding the truth. The church at Pergamum was orthodox. It is a question of the right application of truth.

The error of theses men is one that in subtle form, threatens all churches even until this hour. It is that if a man's creed be right, his conduct does not so much matter.

Truth never excuses sin. All forms of sin are to be treated with ruthless and pitiless severity, and if a man holding any form of teaching, should attempt to excuse sin, he is to be excluded from the fellowship of the saints.

The test of doctrine is purity of conduct and character.

The seal of the Master has two sides, on each an inscription. On the one side the words are graven, "The Lord knoweth them that are His." on the other side these other words. "Let him that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity." Any attempt to efface this second side of the seal is blasphemy, an error to be banished with exclusion from the fellowship of the Church. God's order is the order of peace, but it is always peace based upon purity, for the wisdom that is from above is first pure and then peaceable.

Friday, August 27, 2010

False Doctrine is Satan's Currency - God Deals in Truth

I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is.
~ Revelation 2:13

I'm spending some time this evening studying the letter of the risen Christ to the church at Pergamum. It is interesting to note that He knows that they are living in a danger zone.

“That old enemy of mankind, the devil, has no more subtle device for ruining souls than that of spreading false doctrine. Outside the church he is ever persuading men to maintain destructive superstitions. Like a pirate, his object is to ’sink, burn and destroy.’

“Inside the church he is ever laboring to sow heresies, to propagate errors, to foster departures from the faith. If he cannot prevent the waters flowing from the Fountain of Life, he tries hard to poison them. If he cannot destroy the medicine of the Gospel, he strives to adulterate and corrupt it.”

~ J.C. Ryle via J.C. Ryle Quotes

False doctrine is satan's currency.

God deals in truth.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Had a Vision of the Massive Holiness And Righteousness and Wisdom of God?

Let no one deceive himself. 
If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, 
let him become a fool that he may become wise. 
~1 Corinthians 3:18

The Christian position is radically different, by definition. It is a chastened epistemology specifically in that it is the way a man will think when God has broken his pride through conviction of sin, through a vision of the massive holiness and rightness and wisdom of God, over against the pervasive moral, spiritual, and noetic effects of human sin. It is the thinking of a man who has come to see that Jesus is Lord, and he isn't; who has come to the cross for life and light and wisdom; who has yoked himself to Jesus and confessed, "I can't see anything rightly unless I see it as You see it, which I learn from Your Word alone."

Soaking in the Sun

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Psalm 22

True Christianity

Fight the good fight of the faith. 
Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called 
and about which you made the good confession 
in the presence of many witnesses. 
~ 1 Timothy 6:12

There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. Of spiritual strife, warring, some know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and His Apostles preached. It is not the religion which produces real holiness. True Christianity is a fight.

~J.C. Ryle (Holiness, 52)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Servants of Christ, Stewards of the Mysteries

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 
Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 
~ 1 Corinthians 4:1-2

I read this chapter this morning and was reminded again of the post from last evening

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Elders = True Servants of the People

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 
~ 1 Timothy 5:17

whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies
—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
~ 1 Peter 4:11

The task for the church is thus twofold: to create a culture which reflects the Pauline culture where to desire to be an elder is a good thing, elders are honoured, and elders who teach are considered worthy of double honour; but also to avoid the kind of Protestant sacerdotalism where many think the only way of being of true value is to hold ordained office. That requires church officers to be true servants of the people; and to have the courage to tell someone who cannot teach that, however powerful the inner call, they are not called to be a teacher. Not an easy balance; and the latter in particular might prove tough in a culture where it is considered self-evident that every member has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of ministry.

Let All Bitterness...Be Put Away From You

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 
~ Ephesians 4:31-32

Bitterness is a common sin within the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve. It is one we often try to hide, at least for a while. But bitterness, like holding one’s breath, can’t be detained for long. In the end, it overtakes us and becomes our constant focus. A most hated and beloved idol, bitterness is the cancer that consumes. It is a self-destructive sin that triggers an addictive adrenaline rush that floods our being. And, like most addictive behaviors, when out of control, it leads to our destruction.

Often, we superimpose our own past or secret sins upon others. We certainly know what “we” would mean if we said “that.” Assumed offenses cause chaos and misunderstanding; people talk past one another and feelings are hurt. Emotions rage. Instead of dealing with issues, weeds grow and become deeply entrenched. Christian adversaries may smile as they pass one another at church or online, but inner vows of broken fellowship broil out of sight. Our pain attempts to justify our bitterness. We make a mental list of our offenses, and remind ourselves of our “rights.” We take comfort in the number of people who would surely agree with us.

~ James MacDonald (the other one) :)

I Live

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ~ Galatians 2:20

Thus the true Christian is one who can adopt the expressive and emphatic language of Paul; “I live.” Amplifying the words, he can exclaim, “I live; as a quickened soul. I live; as a regenerate soul. I live; as a pardoned sinner. I live; as a justified sinner. I live; as an adopted child. I live; as an heir of glory. I live; and I have never lived before! My whole existence until now has been but as a blank. I never truly, really lived, until I died! I lived, if life it may be called, to the world, to sin, to the creature, to myself; but I never lived by Christ, and I never lived to God.”

~ Octavius Winslow via The Octavius Winslow Archive

Good encouragement from Mr. Winslow believers. What but the grace of God would take justified sinners and make them adopted sons? Who but God would make us heirs of glory?

Let us live to God!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

All I Want For Christmas

Chloe is short a few front teeth right now. Thankfully, it is because of growing up--and not because of an accident. See and download the full gallery on our NEW blog

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Always Good for a Laugh

His Own Free Will

Let us carefully remember that our blessed Lord suffered and died of His own free will. He did not die because He could not help it; He did not suffer because He could not escape. All the soldiers of Pilate’s army could not have taken Him, if He had not been willing to be taken. 

He had set His heart on accomplishing our redemption. He loved us, and gave Himself for us, cheerfully, willingly, gladly, in order to make atonement for our sins. It was “the joy set before Him” which made Him endure the cross, and despise the shame, and yield Himself up without reluctance into the bands of His enemies. 

Let this thought abide in our hearts, and refresh our souls. We have a Savior who was far more willing to save us than we are willing to be saved. 

If we are not saved, the fault is all our own. Christ is just as willing to receive and pardon, as He was willing to be taken prisoner, to bleed, and to die.

~ J.C. Ryle via J.C. Ryle Quotes

Saw, Desired, Took, Hid

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate...and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God. ~ Genesis 3:6

When I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath. ~ Joshua 7:21

It's shocking, really. And then again, not so shocking at all.

You would think mankind would have learned it's lesson in the past several thousand years. Yet it seems we all suffer from the same "sin which so easily ensnares us" (Hebrews 12:1, NKJV). The English Standard Version renders this verse, "sin which clings so closely". I like that...not the sin...the wording.

Eve saw, desired, took and hid.

Achan saw, coveted, took and hid.

Sin is a persistent enemy. A subtle enemy to be sure--but an enemy that uses well-worn tactics.

That said, sin is an enemy that has been defeated at the cross of Christ and no longer has power over us. We choose sin.

Eve did. Achan did. I do.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Red Letter Edition

From Uplook's Pioneering magazine from last summer (yes...I'm just now getting around to reading it):

Supposedly it was the brainchild of Louis Klopsch, then editor of The Christian Herald magazine. It was 1899, and his idea was to accentuate the words of Jesus by printing them in red. Although he highlighted only those words spoken by the Savior during His time on earth, some of the newer Red Letter editions also include what Christ said following the ascension, for example His words to the Seven Churches.

Are His words of more moment than those left in black? What does the Scripture itself say? "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I think the irony is that many believers have a tendency to take the teachings of the Lord Jesus in the Gospels as having less significance for us than the epistles of Paul. Some are quick to claim that the Sermon on the Mount, for example, is unreasonable and was not meant to be applied to our lives today. 

But what does Paul say? "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,...he is proud, knowing nothing..." (1 Timothy 6:3-4). Solemn words indeed. The teachings of our Lord while He was here on earth are both pointed and practical.

Camp Li-Lo-Li

I spent the last week at Camp Li-Lo-Li enjoying time in the precious Word of God with approximately 140 campers. If you want to follow what is going on at the camp, their new blog can be found here.

If you want to see more pictures, you'll have to check out our new Posterous blog. It supports a slideshow--which makes viewing multiple pictures on a single blog post much more enjoyable.