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Showing posts from 2009

Christopher Love - Beheaded at the age of 33

Love was arrested on May 14, 1652, by Oliver Cromwell’s forces for alleged involvement with the Presbyterians of Scotland who were raising money for the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II. Love denied the charge, but he was tried and convicted of treason for what has become known as “Love’s plot.” Love’s wife and numerous friends, including several prominent ministers in London, interceded on his behalf, but to no avail. Ardent republican Independents were determined to destroy him. Love was beheaded on Tower Hill, London, on August 22, 1651, at the age of thirtythree.

In a moving address from the scaffold, Love answered the charges made against him and urged citizens of London to heed and love their godly ministers. Sheriff Tichburn granted him permission to pray. He prayed:

Most Glorious and eternal Majesty, Thou art righteous and holy in all Thou dost to the sons of men, though Thou hast suffered men to condemn Thy servant, Thy servant will not condemn Thee. He justifies Th…

John Piper?

As I continue in my reading of a treatise on "self-denial", I can't help thinking, "This sounds like John Piper" and yet it was written almost 400 years ago by a "stuffy old Puritan". The truth is the truth and will always sound the same. As Piper himself states, "I am not an innovator. In fact, I am very content with the simple role of blowing the boredom out of people's brains with long-forgotten, old-fashioned, faithful blasts of biblical truth."

"In internal actions, in desires of grace and salvation, our end must not be self. Our motions are then regular, when they are conformed to God, when we have the same end and aim as God hath. Now whatsoever God doth, both within and without, in creation and grace, it is for himself: Prov. 16.4, 'The Lord hath made all things for himself.'

Well then, we should seek grace and glory with the same aim that God gives it: Eph. 1.6, 'He hath accepted us in the Beloved, to the prais…

On Self-Seeking

Our great aim should be to enjoy God; that is the happiness to which we are poised and inclined by the bent of nature. An immortal soul was made for an eternal good; nothing beneath God will satisfy it; and the heaven that we expect is nothing else but the filling up the soul with God.

There is a great controversy in the world between God and self while we are here; but now in heaven the quarrel is taken up, and we and God are united in the nearest and closest way of union and communion, that we may enjoy him forever. Now when we rest in any low enjoyment, and are satisfied with it without God, that is self-seeking; in effect it is self-destroying, self-losing. But the scripture speaks according to our aim and intention; we intend to seek ourselves, though in effect, we do but lose ourselves.

Of this the scripture speaks - 'All seek their own, and not that which is Jesus Christ's.' In effect, neither their own, nor Christ's, but the carnal and corrupt heart of a man coun…

I Think.....

I think that we (the church) should give the world back their holiday.

After studying early church history and the history of "Christmas" in both the church and the world, I have to ask myself, "how can an honest Christian want to be part of any of this man-made and man-centered holiday?".

There is nothing wrong with celebrating the incarnation; but, to mix that celebration with this holiday is more than just compromising, it is hypocrisy. I think we kid ourselves when we think that we can avoid mixing our affections for Christ with our affections for all the other things that this holiday offers; and, that would include family. I think, if we are honest with ourselves, we like the things about Christmas that feed the flesh and we really do not want to give those things up, so we justify it. We love the "feeling" we get; we love the gifts under the tree; we love the idea of family being all together; we love the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Nothing a…

The Lesson of the Imperishable Life!

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." 2 Corinthians 4:16

"For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die!" 1 Corinthians 15:53

The lesson of the imperishable life, has a special application to those who suffer from sickness or from any bodily affliction. It will help us to endure physical sufferings quietly and unmurmuringly, if we will remember that it is only the outward man that can be touched and affected by these experiences, and that the inward man may not only be kept unharmed, but may be growing all the while in beauty and strength, being spiritually renewed through pain and suffering.

A poor shoemaker in his dreary little shop in a great city, one day noticed that there was one little place in his dark room, from which he could get a view of green fields, blue skies and faraway hills. He wisely set up his bench at that point, so that…

"Rather Pleased with Our Theory"

We are all somewhat guilty of this, are we not? What a danger it is to 1) not be aware of it; and, 2) not heed this warning when we approach the Word of God:

There can be no doubt at all that the commonest cause [of misinterpreting the Bible] is our tendency to approach the Bible with a theory. We go to our Bibles with this theory, and everything we read is controlled by it ... There is a sense in which it is true to say that you can prove anything you like from the Bible. That is how heresies have arisen. The heretics were never dishonest men; they were mistaken men ... they have been some of the most sincere men that the Church has ever known. What was the matter with them? Their trouble was this; they evolved a theory and they were rather pleased with it; then they went back with this theory to the Bible, and they seemed to find it everywhere ... There is nothing so dangerous as to come to the Bible with a theory, with preconceived ideas, with some pet idea of our own ...

Now th…

Merry Christmas to All

"Let's Be Sure to Get The Christmas Story Right."

So, where does the Christmas story begin? In the Gospel of John we read: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made." [John 1:1-3]

The prologue to John's Gospel points to creation and to Christ, the divine Logos, as the agent of creation. Yet, with language drawn directly from Genesis, John begins his gospel "in the beginning."

In other words, the Christmas story begins before the creation of the world. As we celebrate Christmas and contemplate the Christmas story, we must be very careful not to begin the story in Bethlehem, or even in Nazareth, where Mary was confronted by Gabriel with the message that she would be the mother of the Messiah.

We must not even begin with Moses and the prophets, and with the expectation of the coming Son of Man, the promised Suffering Servant, and the heralded Davidic Messiah. …

True Fellowship

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends--if you do what I command. . . . I have called you friends." John 15:13-15

The central fact in every true Christian life, is a personal friendship with Jesus. Men were called to follow Him, to leave all and cleave to Him, to believe on Him, to trust Him, to love Him, to obey Him; and the result was the transformation of their lives into His own beauty!

That which alone makes one a Christian, is being a friend of Jesus. Friendship transforms--we become like those with whom we live in close, intimate relations. Life flows into life, heart and heart are knit together, spirits blend, and the two friends become one. We have but little to give to Christ; yet it is a comfort to know that our friendship really is precious to Him, and gives Him joy--poor and meager though its best may be. But He has infinite blessings to give to us.

The friendship of Jesus includes all other blessings…

Does a person get fat because they eat chocolate cake?

I am so tired of reading articles written by learned Christian men who constantly and consistently communicate a message of avoidance as the key to biblical Christian living. To communicate a message that teaches Christians that we are to wrap ourselves and everyone else in cotton and put blinders on, in order to live a victorious Christian life, will produce soft, vulnerable, immature, weak Christians. We are to be transformed into the mind of Christ. We are to be made able to stand in the midst of the world, wearing His armor; not hiding or avoiding the battle.

The problem is in our "wanter", not in the things that are all around us and will always be around us as long as we are living in this world. Do you understand the difference?

A person does not get fat because they eat chocolate cake. A person gets fat because they want to eat chocolate cake as often as they can. It is the appetite for it, not the cake itself that makes one fat. The answer in not found in avoiding cho…

Not everything is "Neat and Tidy"

Interesting post by D.A. Carson on marriage and wedding ceremonies. I am certain many local pastors would disagree with some of Carson's counsel. As I was reading this post, I reflected upon the woman at the well and wondered: If she was genuinely converted because of her encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, what happened after her conversion in terms of the man she was "with"? I wondered what our Lord would have counseled her to do regarding her current relationship. Let us recall that she had had five previous husbands, and the man she now had was not her husband. Some pastors (including John Piper) would tell her to leave the man she was with and would also tell her that she could never marry again without it being a sin. He certainly would not conduct the marriage ceremony.

Here is Carson's Counsel to a Young Church Planter regarding a difficult situation:

The following post was first an email to a young church planter seeking counsel. He is planting a churc…

When did you last marvel at the wind?

And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” –Isaiah 29:13-14

Years ago a pastor convinced me that one of the most tragic consequences of the fall of mankind into sin is that we cease to wonder. Things that at one time would amaze and astound us can become ordinary.

When, for example, is the last time you were amazed at telephone technology? To think that you can simply press several buttons on a little hand-held device and talk live to a person across the country is actually quite amazing. Or consider e-mail. Like you, I fire out countless e-mails in a week rarely being astounded that my words can reach a person anywhere in the world at the speed …

Paul's Definition of a Christian

"No Confidence in the Flesh” a Biblical Reflection by John Hendryx

In chapter 3 of The Epistle to the Philippians Paul gives us one of the best definitions of a Christian available in the Bible. He also contrasts this with the marks of false teachers. Paul begins the chapter by contrasting the wondrous gift of grace against the hopeless pit of sin. He warns the Philippians against false teachers; those, he says, who have confidence in themselves. That is, anyone who adds conditions for salvation, in addition to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul likens to Gentile dogs, those who fail to recognize that salvation is wholly of Jesus. But then in stark contrast to false teaching, Paul defines what a Christian looks like:

"For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh"

He calls true Christians “the real circumcision”, i.e. the true covenant people of God. Then he gives three characteristics of Ch…

As Christmas Day Approaches

On Sunday morning, December 24, 1871, entitled, "Joy Born at Bethlehem," Spurgeon began his sermon with these words:

"We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas.

First, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be sung in Latin or in English; and secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority. Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Savior's birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it occurred.

It was not till the middle of the third century that any part of the church celebrated the nativity of our Lord; and it was not till very long after the Western church had set the example, that the Eastern adopted it.

Probably the fact is that the "holy" days were arr…

Two Dangerous Extremes

In a sermon based on Genesis 5:24 (‘And Enoch walked with God’) Whitefield, in seeking to explain how the child of God receives guidance, wrote the following:

‘In order to walk closely with God, his children must not only watch the motions of God’s providence without them, but the motions also of his blessed Spirit in their hearts.
‘As many as are the sons of God, are led by the Spirit of God’ (Romans 8:14), and give up themselves to be guided by the Holy Ghost, as a little child gives its hand to be led by a nurse or parent.


‘It is no doubt in this sense that we are to be converted, and become like little children. And though it is the quintessence of enthusiasm, to pretend to be guided by the Spirit without the written word; yet it is every Christian’s bounden duty to be guided by the Spirit in conjunction with the written word of God.

Led by the Spirit and guided by the Word‘Watch, therefore, I pray you, O believers, the motions of God’s blessed Spirit in your souls, and always try the…

Is your Anger Ugly?

"Years ago I was one of five thousand people listening to a panel discussion at a Christian conference. An editor of a conservative political-theological magazine was expressing his frustration with many of the political left-wingers, and doing so in an unnecessarily sarcastic and condescending way. When he finished, John Piper (another speaker on the panel) turned to him, and with utmost seriousness and precision, he said, “For a long time I have appreciated your ministry. You are an astute observer of our culture. I read your magazine every month. It’s always insightful. But there’s one thing missing from your ministry.”

The editor looked at Dr. Piper and asked what it was.

“Tears,” Piper replied.

The world so often senses our anger—but do they ever sense our grief? They think we’re angry simply because we’re not getting our way, but I’m afraid they don’t feel our sorrow over sin’s negative, dehumanizing effects. We fail to communicate our anger in a way that says, “You were made…

A Whore's Forehead

Choice excerpts from Thomas Brooks
"THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN"
(A Discourse of Closet Prayer, published during the awful plague of London in 1665)

"You have a whore's forehead, you refuse to be ashamed!" Jeremiah 3:3

"Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all! They do not even know how to blush!" Jeremiah 6:15

They had sinned away shame, instead of being ashamed ofsin. Continuance in sin had quite banished all sense of sin and all shame for sin; so that they would not allow nature to draw her veil of blushing before their great abominations. How applicable these scriptures are to the present time, I will leave the prudent reader to judge.

But what does the prophet do, now that they were as bold in sin, and as shameless as so many harlots; now that they were grown up to that height of sin and wickedness; now that they were above all shame and blushing; now that they were grown so proud, so hardened, so obstinate, so rebellious,…

The Sweet Kisses

Choice excerpts from Thomas Brooks
"THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN"
(A Discourse of Closet Prayer, published during the awful plague of London in 1665)

When a Christian is in a wilderness, which is a very solitary place, then God delights to speak friendly and comfortably to him: Hosea 2:14, "Behold, I willallure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak friendly or comfortably to her," or as the Hebrew has it, "I will speak to her heart." "When I have her alone," says God, "in a solitary wilderness, I will speak such things to her heart, as shall exceedingly cheer her, and comfort her, and even make her heart leap and dance within her."

Certainly the soul usually enjoys most communion with God in secret. A husband imparts his mind most freely and fully to his wife when she is alone; and so does Christ to the believing soul.

Oh . . . the secret kisses, the secret embraces, the secret visits, the secret whispers, the secret cheerings, the …

All other ground is sinking sand...

I woke up this morning to be greeted by an email update from monergism.com which contained a most excellent article on the doctrines of grace by a man named Mark Webb. The article concludes with the following paragraphs:

Face it: Most folks out there on the street REALLY don't think they are going to Hell, however much they may joke or make light of it. Ninety-nine out of a hundred (An understatement if there ever was one!) don't lie asleep at night in agony of soul fearing that they are about to drop into Hell. And they have a REASON why they are sure such a thing will not happen to them, no matter how faulty and false that reason might be. One man may have a MORAL reason: He's not a bad fellow, he's a good husband and father, he pays his taxes, or, as a rancher in Wyoming once told me, "I've never been arrested!" Another man may have a RELIGIOUS reason: He's been baptized, he goes to church, he prays, reads his Bible, and, in general, does what goo…

Cold, Sad, Mournful, Depressing Calvinism is not Calvinism at All!

This is an excerpt from an address given by Lloyd-Jones on the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Williams (a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist). I encourage all to read the full address. The link is posted at the end of this excerpt.

My argument is, that cold, sad, mournful, depressing Calvinism is not Calvinism at all. It is a caricature; something has gone wrong somewhere. It is mere intellectualism and philosophy. Calvinism leads to feeling, to passion, to warmth, to praise, to thanksgiving. Look at Paul, the greatest of them all. We should not talk about 'Calvinism'; it is Paul's teaching. He tells us that he wept. He preached with tears. Do you?

When did we last weep over these matters? When did we last shed tears? When have we shown the feeling and the passion that he shows? Paul could not control himself, he got carried away. Look at his mighty climaxes; look at the way in which he rises to the heavens and is 'lost in wonder, tore, and praise'. Of course,…

Are You a "Seeker"?

As we were reading Jonathan Edwards' Religious Affections tonight, the term "seeking God" came up and I realized that so many of us understand that term in a negative sense, as in "seeker-friendly" churches. I have heard people who do not profess to be Christian describe themselves as "seekers" even while they are visiting a Christian church.

Understandably, a true believer living in our generation, would be hesitant to refer to himself as a "seeker" for the reasons expressed above. However, we are to seek after God--we are to be seekers of God. Not in the way that someone who does not know him claims to be seeking; but in this way: As one who knows Him and desires to see and find Him everywhere and in everything. Everywhere we look--in all of His creation. In everything we think, say and do and in every interaction with others. To seek and find Him present.

Here is the text from the portion of our reading tonight:

Hence there is an end to many…

John Flavel

John Flavel (or Flavell) was born in 1628 in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. He was the son of Richard Flavel, a minister who died of the plague in 1665 while in prison for nonconformity. John Flavel was educated by his father in the ways of religion, then “plied his studies hard” as a commoner at University College, Oxford. In 1650, he was ordained by the presbytery at Salisbury. He settled in Diptford, where he honed his numerous gifts.

He married Joan Randall, a godly woman, who died while giving birth to their first child in 1655. The baby died as well. After a year of mourning, Flavel married Elizabeth Stapell and was again blessed with a close, God-fearing marriage, as well as children.

In 1656, Flavel accepted a call to be minister in the thriving seaport of Dartmouth. He earned a smaller income there, but his work was more profitable; many were converted. One of his parishioners wrote of Flavel, “I could say much, though not enough of the excellency of his preaching; of his seasonab…

Just so you are aware...

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican announced Tuesday (November 10, 2009) it was making it easier for Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism – a surprise move designed to entice traditionalists opposed to women priests, openly gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.

The decision, reached in secret by a small cadre of Vatican officials, was sure to add to the problems of the 77-million-strong Anglican Communion as it seeks to deal with deep doctrinal divisions that threaten a permanent schism among its faithful.

The change means conservative Anglicans from around the world will be able to join the Catholic Church while retaining aspects of their Anglican liturgy and identity, including married priests. Until now, disaffected Anglicans had joined the church primarily on a case by case basis.

"The unity of the church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows," said Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican's Congre…

WHAT, WHO and WHY we love.

Every man loves the mercies of God, but the saint loves the God of the mercies.

The above is a pregnant statement found within a chapter of John Flavel's work on the providence of God. Stop and think about it. Ponder it in your mind. Let it cause you to examine your heart. For those who may be reading this blog who are unfamiliar with certain terms of the Christian faith, the word "saint" simply refers to all who have been "born-again"; all whom the Spirit of God has regenerated and reconciled to God through the atoning work of Jesus Christ by grace alone through faith alone. "Saint" does not refer to someone who "acts" like a saint. We are all saints who are in Christ. It is an inward reality that only God can see, not an outward manifestation of holiness.

With that in mind, read the above statement again. If you fancy yourself a genuine Christian, one who will be found acceptable to God at the judgement, ask yourself if you love the …

O' How highly we think of our own importance.

Just yesterday I was reading an article about a new book by Michael Horton and the article started out by stating:

"What, exactly, is “Christless Christianity”? First of all, it is not a claim that all the churches in America are Christless. It’s certainly not a claim that we have reached a point where Christ is no longer being preached. Rather, it’s motivated by a concern that there’s this creeping fog of what sociologist Christian Smith called “moralistic-therapeutic-deism.” This has turned God into a tool we can use rather than the object of our faith and worship. I’m concerned that the gospel is being taken for granted, that Christ is a sort of life coach, but not the Savior. With the general shallowing within the culture, there is a shallowing of Christian faith and practice. We don’t really know what we believe and why we believe it.

Then just last night we were reading from a book by John Flavel on the Providence of God and came to the section copied below. Ponder…