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(230 years ago)

August 28, 1779

My Dear Friend,

The days speed away apace! Each one bears away its own burden with it--to return no more. Both pleasures and pains which are past--are gone forever! What is yet future will likewise, soon be past. Our final end will shortly arrive! O to realize the thought, and to judge of things now in some measure suitable to the opinion which we shall form of them, when we are about to leave them all!

Many things which now either elate or depress us--will then appear to be trifles as light as air!

Only one thing is needful--

To have our hearts united to Jesus in humble faith;

To set Him always before us;

To rejoice in Him as our Shepherd and our portion;

To submit to all His appointments, not of necessity, because He is stronger than us--but with a cheerful acquiescence, because He is wise and good, and loves us better than we do ourselves;

To feed upon His truth;

To have our understandings, wills, affections, imaginations, memory--all filled and impressed w…

Recommended Reading

"Now I ask every reader of this paper a plain question Do you know what you mean by these words, so often repeated—the Holy Spirit? What place has God the Holy Spirit in your religion? What do you know of His office, His work, His indwelling, His fellowship, and His power? This is the subject to which I ask your attention this day. I want you to consider seriously what you know about the work of God the Holy Spirit.

I believe that the times in which we live demand frequent and distinct testimonies upon this great subject. I believe that few truths of the Christian religion are so often obscured and spoiled by false doctrine as the truth about the Holy Spirit.

I believe that there is no subject which an ignorant world is so ready to revile as "cant, fanaticism, and enthusiasm," as the subject of the work of the Holy Spirit.

My heart's desire and prayer to God is, that about this subject I may write nothing but the "truth as it is in Jesus," and that I may wri…

I think I need to do a little more skipping and leaping for joy!

Thinking of those sweet stories we have heard and most have personally experienced at some point in their lives--you know the ones that cause a young man to go skipping down the street, feeling as those his feet are barely touching the ground, after hearing (for the first time) "I love you" from the lips of the girl he also loves. He is filled with joy and can hardly contain himself. He wants to tell the world, "She loves me! She loves me!"

God made us emotional creatures. To think that those "feelings" and highly emotional experiences should be limited to human relationships is ridiculous. When a soul knows the overwhelming love of God and feels nothing, there is something very wrong. Did not David dance in the streets?

While pondering these things, I received this little excerpt in my morning devotional emails and smiled as I read it:

Was Sarah Edwards an over-emotional person? Was she a kind of ‘balance’ for her supposedly unemotional, strict h…

Please CONFUSE me some more!

"I emphatically agree with those who say the Song of Solomon is not mere allegory. It is best understood when we take it at face value, like any other text of Scripture. Many interpreters whom I otherwise hold in high esteem (including Spurgeon and most of the Puritans) have unfortunately done more to confuse than clarify the Song's message by treating it in a purely allegorical fashion that eliminates its primary meaning."John MacArthur

Here is an example of the "unfortunate" confusion that one of these men (referenced above) is guilty of. (Note: If you don't feel much like reading John Flavels exposition of this text, you can skip to the bottom for the literal interruption):

CHRIST ALTOGETHER LOVELY
by John Flavel

"Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend." Song of Songs 5:16

I. Christ is to be loved

At the ninth verse of this chapter, you have a question put forth by the daughters of Jerusalem, "What is your belove…

A Pastor's Prayer

When the American evangelist D. L. Moody spoke in the Metropolitan Tabernacle in October 1892, he recalled an earlier visit twenty-five years previously. He had come four thousand miles, he said, to hear C. H. Spurgeon, but what impressed him most was not the sermon, nor the singing of the great congregation, but Spurgeon’s prayer. Such was his access to God that he seemed to be able to bring down power from heaven. This was the great secret, Moody believed, of Spurgeon’s influence and success.

Spurgeon came into the presence of God with deep reverence, yet with unquestioning child-like confidence, to plead God's promises in Scripture and to revel in the nearness to God into which Christ has brought all who believe.

Following is just one of Spurgeon's prayers (from the book referenced at the close of this post). I would highly recommend the book to everyone; but, especially to Pastors.

“Oh, to love the Saviour with a passion that can never cool; Oh, to believe in God with a confi…

Rebuke impresses a man of discernment.

Are there men who have risen to a certain level within the Church that one dare not point out a concern about something that they have said; something that they teach; or, a potential error in their theology? Are there some men who we should show more respect to than others? And is respect shown by being silent when one has a genuine concern that they feel should be expressed? Or, does it actually show more love and respect to speak up when one has a genuine concern?

I love what Piper says when preaching from Hebrews 6:9-12

“The writer to the Hebrews is calling us by his example to grow up and to take the risks of love. He is also calling us to be less easily offended. And less easily hurt. We have a massive foundation for our salvation in the death of the Son of God and we have an advocate in heaven more powerful and more compelling than any accuser on earth. We should be the freest of all people to listen to criticism and take it into account and not be wounded or self-pitying or rese…

WHY?

I have come to the conclusion that:

Most professing Christians do not ask themselves “Why?” enough.

When a child is learning and growing, they can drive you nuts, right? “Why is the sky blue?” Why does the sun set at night? Why does a rainbow have the colors it has? Why are leaves on trees green?” And on and on it goes.

I believe much of the confusion about the salvation of man; about justification and sanctification; about works righteousness vs. grace; about Lordship salvation vs. mere believism, all stems from the fact that most have never really asked themselves the following “Why?” question:

Why did God send Christ to reconcile man to Himself?

Do not be tempted to give an easy answer by quoting John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That does not answer the question, in fact that should raise additional questions:

Why does God so love the world? What is Love? What consti…

Missions

"No, it isn't for lack of money that there are 1,568 peoples with no missionaries. It is because we have so much. The comforts of the West have made us soft and cautious and fearful and indulgent and self-protecting, instead of tough and risk-taking and bold and self-controlled and self-sacrificing. . . Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. The glory of God is the ultimate goal of the church—because it's the ultimate goal of God.

The final goal of all things is that God might be worshiped with white-hot affection by a redeemed company of countless persons from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:9; 7:9). Missions exists because worship doesn't. When the kingdom finally comes in glory, missions will cease. Missions is penultimate; worship is ultimate.

If we forget this and reverse their roles, the passion and the power for both diminish."
--John Piper

Healing the Soul

The deepest longing of the human heart is to know and enjoy the glory of God. We were made for this. “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth. . . whom I created for my glory,” says the Lord (Isaiah 43:6-7). … We were made to know and treasure the glory of God above all things; and when we trade that treasure for images, everything is disordered.

The sun of God’s glory was made to shine at the center of the solar system of our soul. And when it does, all the planets of our life are held in their proper orbit. But when the sun is displaced, everything flies apart. The healing of the soul begins by restoring the glory of God to its flaming, all-attracting place at the center."

John Piper, Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God

“Preach on, great preacher, without me.”

The task of true biblical preaching is not essentially intellectual or psychological or rhetorical; it is essentially spiritual. I have followed the preaching ministry of more men than I can count and have discovered that many fall into a great trap. I was truly blessed to discover that my concerns are shared with many others and have been so wonderfully articulated in this excerpt from "What is Biblical Preaching" by Eric J. Alexander, P&R, 2008:

"Left to ourselves, we may do many things with a congregation. We may move them emotionally. We may attract them to ourselves personally, producing great loyalty. We may persuade them intellectually. We may educate them in a broad spectrum of Christian truth. But the one thing we can never do, left to ourselves, is to regenerate them spiritually and change them into the image of Jesus Christ, to bear his moral glory in their character. While that is the great calling of the church of Christ, it is essentially God’s work…

Born-Again!

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

In the new birth, God exerts a quickening influence or power upon His own elect. Regeneration is very, very much more than simply shedding a few tears because of some temporary remorse over sin. It is far more than changing our course of life, the leaving off of bad habits and the substituting of good ones. It is something different from the mere cherishing and practicing of noble ideals. It goes infinitely deeper than coming forward to take some popular evangelist by the hand, signing a pledge-card, or "joining the church." The new birth is no mere turning over a new leaf--but is the inception and reception of a new life! It is no mere reformation, but a radical transformation.

In short, the new birth is a miracle--the result of the supernatural operation of God. It is radical, revolutionary, lasting!

In the new birth:

God lays hold of one who is spiritually dead--an…

Understanding the Cross

"Man, in his natural spirit of self-justifying legalism, has tried to get away from the cross of Christ and its perfection, or to erect another cross instead, or to setup a screen of ornaments between himself and it, or to alter its true meaning into something more congenial to his tastes, or to transfer the virtue of it to some act or performance or feeling of its own. Thus the simplicity of the cross is nullified, and its saving power is denied. For the cross saves completely, or not at all.

Our faith does not divide the work of salvation between itself and the cross. It is the acknowledgment that the cross alone saves, and that it saves alone. Faith adds nothing to the cross, nor to its healing virtue. It owns the fullness, and sufficiency, and suitableness of the work done there, and bids the toiling spirit cease from its labours and enter into rest.

Faith does not come to Calvary to do anything. It comes to see the glorious spectacle of all things done, and to accept this comp…

What Wonderous Affection

No longer intrigued by this dark passing world,
His banner of love, over me, He unfurled.
Protecting my soul by His sovereign divide
Through the blood of His cross, spilled forth from His side.

Crucified in my Jesus; all glory to Him
Who ransomed my soul from destruction and sin.
The world cannot have me—I belong to my King,
Therefore I will praise Him; therefore I will sing.

No glory I find in one thing I can do;
With wondrous affection, His mercies are new.
And look to the day that my faith will be sight—
My perfection is sure, to my Father's delight.

He sees me in Jesus, in glory so bright;
And hidden in Him, I’m concealed in His light.
Chosen to be with my lover and friend;
And give Him the glory—to this be my end.

Michael E. Wood
05/12/2009

Be silent, that you may hear....

Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.Isaiah 41:1

This is a noisy age, and the Church of Christ herself is too noisy. We have little silent worship, I fear. I do not so much regret the absence of silence from the public assembly as from our private devotions, where it has a sacred hallowing influence, unspeakably valuable.

Be silent, that you may hear the voice of Jesus, for when He speaks you will renew your strength. The eternal Spirit is with His people; but we often miss His power because we give more ear to other voices than to His, and quite as often our own voice is an injury to us, for it is heard when we have received no message from the Lord, and therefore gives an uncertain sound.

If we wait upon the blessed Spirit, His mysterious influence will sway us most divinely, and we shall be filled with all the fullness of God. Even as we have seen the frost yield s…

"That's what I mean by preaching"

Preaching Is Expository

Expository means that preaching aims to exposit, or explain and apply, the meaning of the Bible. The reason for this is that the Bible is God's word, inspired, infallible, profitable—all 66 books of it.

The preacher's job is to minimize his own opinions and deliver the truth of God. Every sermon should explain the Bible and then apply it to people's lives.

The preacher should do that in a way that enables you to see that the points he is making actually come from the Bible. If you can't see that they come from the Bible, your faith will end up resting on a man and not on God's word.

The aim of this exposition is to help you eat and digest biblical truth that will:

Make your spiritual bones more like steel,

Double the capacity of your spiritual lungs,

Make the eyes of your heart dazzled with the brightness of the glory of God, and

Awaken the capacity of your soul for kinds of spiritual enjoyment you didn't even know existed.

Preaching Is Exul…

Do you have a vain religion?

"Rend your heart--and not your garments." Joel 2:13

Garment-rending and other external signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested, and are frequently hypocritical. True repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Unsaved men will attend to the most multiplied and minute religious ceremonies and regulations--for such things are pleasing to their flesh.

But true godliness is too humbling, too heart-searching, too spiritual for the tastes of carnal men! They prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly. External religious rituals are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up. But they are ultimately delusive, for at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than religious ceremonies and rituals to lean upon. Apart from vital godliness--all religion is utterly vain!

When offered without a sincere heart, every form of religious worship is a solemn sham and …

Do You Care?

Should we not care to concern ourselves with what concerns God? He is very concerned about His name not being profaned and polluted. If you call yourself by His name, do you take care that your actions and your words not bring Him dishonor? If you have a "fish" on your car, do you care to drive in such a way that people will not mock Him? Being a Christian is so much more than being "saved" from the wrath to come. We are called to be His ambassadors; we are called to bring Him glory. Wearing His name is not something that we should ever take lightly--it is about Him and He cares deeply about it. Do you?

Listen to what God has revealed to us and care:

Isaiah 42:8I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.Isaiah 42:7-9 (in Context) Isaiah 42 (Whole Chapter)

Isaiah 43:7Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.Isaiah 43:6-8

"Openness"

I have been following a few different people's blogs for quite some time and have witnessed the truth of this passage in God's Word play itself out in the lives of those individuals and so many others. I have made several attempts to "speak the truth in love" to them to no avail. I pray that the Spirit of God will open their eyes to His truth.

"Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ..."Eph 4:13-15

This has burdened the hearts of others, as well:

"The tragic reality is that we are living in an age that is marked by so much spiritual and theological co…

Is it any wonder?

Is it any wonder that the lost world views "Christianity" as a joke?

Case in point: The Christian community at large is heralding Miss California as a hero of the faith and I have even heard Christian reporters go as far as to claim she is being persecuted.

Let us look at this: A professing Christian enters a Miss America beauty pageant; signs a contract stating that she has never had nude or semi-nude photo's taken of herself; has breast augmentation surgery paid for by the pageant; then answers a question about her views regarding same-sex marriage with this response:

"I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage,” Prejean answered. “And you know what? I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”

First, I might point out that the same st…

The Heart of an Evangelist

But, O Lord, how insufficient I am for this work. Alas, with what shall I pierce the scales of Leviathan, or make the heart feel that is hard as the nether millstone? Shall I go and speak to the grave, and expect the dead will obey me and come forth? Shall I make an oration to the rocks, or declaim to the mountains, and think to move them with arguments? Shall I make the blind to see? From the beginning of the world was it not heard that a man opened the eyes of the blind (Jn 9 32). But, O Lord, Thou canst pierce the heart of the sinner. I can only draw the bow at a venture, but do Thou direct the arrow between the joints of the harness. Slay the sin, and save the soul of the sinner that casts his eyes on these pages.

Excerpt from Joseph Alliene's "Alarm to the Unconverted"

We are all beggars!

From Frederick Leahy's epilogue in The Cross He Bore: Meditations on the Sufferings of the Redeemer:

The proud, self-sufficient, modern humanist despises the whole idea of forgiveness. Like the blustering W.E. Henley, he sees himself as master of his fate and captain of his soul. 'Forgiveness', said George Bernard Shaw, 'is a beggar's refuge. We must pay our debts.'

About the time of Luther's death, a piece of paper was found in his pocket on which he had written in Latin and German, 'Hoc est verum. Wir sind alle Bettler.' ('This is true. We are all beggars.') There is the contrast between the stony heart of unbelief and the heart of flesh that weeps for sin and looks in faith to the crucified and risen Saviour for mercy.

The forgiven, restored sinner willingly takes up his cross and follows the Lord Jesus Christ. That cross is whatever the Christian suffers for the sake of Christ and his truth. In bearing that cross there is peace and blessedn…

Mystical Union

This is a test. Can you guess who made this statement? Do you agree with this statement? Read it over a few times and really think about what is being said.

"Knowing Christ,” in the Pauline sense is not the sort of mystical relationship many people imagine. Paul wasn’t longing for some secret knowledge of Christ beyond what is revealed in Scripture. In fact, the knowledge of Christ Paul sought was anything but mystical. What he longed to know was the power of Christ’s resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, and conformity to His death.

We err greatly if we think of intimacy with Christ as some lofty level of mysterious, feelings-based communion with the Divine—as if it involved some knowledge of God that goes beyond what Scripture has revealed. That idea is the very heart of the gnostic heresy. It has nothing in common with true Christianity."
Now read the follow statement:At the very heart of true Christianity is the saints’ mystical union with Christ. We are in Ch…

The Self-Centeredness of Man

I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one.
-- John 17:15

Even our desire to be with the Lord is usually not out of a desire for Him; but out of a selfish desire to escape the sorrow, pain, hardship, disappointment, misery of life on this earth. Have you ever thought about that? We are such a self-centered lot. Perhaps we need to really think about this. Paul said, "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith..." That is a selfless desire. Note: He says "more needful for YOU". He is not considering what would benefit him; but, what would benefit others for Christ's sake. Oh, let us have that spirit within us through God's grace and for His glory.

"In God's own time ever…