March 31, 2009
"Then Rizpah, the mother of two of the men, spread sackcloth on a rock and stayed there the entire harvest season. She prevented vultures from tearing at their bodies during the day, and stopped wild animals from eating them at night." 2 Samuel 21:10
Isn't that how we should guard the true Gospel of Christ--at any cost to us personally?
"If the love of a woman to her slain sons, could make her prolong her mournful vigil for so long a period--shall we be weary of considering the sufferings of our blessed Lord? She drove away the vultures--and shall not we chase away those worldly and sinful thoughts which defile our minds? Away, you evil birds! Leave the sacrifice alone! Rizpah bore the scorching heat of summer, the night dews and the rains, unsheltered and alone. Sleep was chased from her weeping eyes--for her heart was too full for slumber. Behold how she loved her children! Shall Rizpah thus endure--and shall we give up at the first little inconvenience or trial?
Are we such cowards--that we cannot bear to suffer with our Lord? She even chased away the wild beasts, with courage unusual in her gender--and will not we be ready to encounter every foe for Jesus' sake?Her children were slain by other hands than hers--and yet she wept and watched. What ought we to do--who by our sins, have crucified our Lord! Our obligations are boundless, our love should be fervent, and our repentance thorough! Those ghastly corpses might well have affrighted Rizpah! But in our Lord, at whose cross-foot we are sitting, there is nothing revolting--but everything attractive! Never was living beauty so enchanting, as a dying Savior!
To abide by His cross--will be our solace."
"Our hope is that brief addresses and short prayers will prove more fruitful than longer discourses might have been. If every brother who speaks is filled with the Spirit of God, we shall have no profitless talk; and if all who are coming would aim to be so filled, we should have a wealth of spiritual profiting.Personally I beg your prayers.
There is much to wear away the soul just now, and we need that text to be true in our experience ‘he restoreth my soul.’ I know that I need the visitation of the Lord to refresh my spirit. Do we not each one need it? What if we should each one get it? How good for ourselves, for our churches, our hearers! Oh that the Lord may come very near us, and clothe us with power from on high!"
March 30, 2009
Many are familiar with the ECT Accord (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) that was drafted and signed by Rome and by several well known evangelicals, such as, Chuck Colson and J.I. Packard. This document raised quite a stir in the Evangelical Community. If you have never heard about it; “google” it and learn.
We live in a time that has (for the most part) forgotten the “Reformation” and we are willing and ready to compromise the “Truth” because of ignorance of the “Truth”. We then convince ourselves that we are doing so in love.
The same people who have this (in their perception) loving attitude; may be shocked to read this excerpt for one of Charles Haddeon Spurgeon’s sermons preached on the following text. You may actually think Spurgeon was a “Hate-Monger” after reading this. But, that is simply because you have been indoctrinated into the “World’s” idea of love—not God’s. He preached this because he loved people, God, and the Truth. He loved Christ and the Gospel and (out of love) spoke the truth:
"For the Lord, whose name is jealous, is a jealous God."—Exodus 34:14.
Brethren, the whole history of the human race is a record of the wars of the Lord against idolatry. The right hand of the Lord hath dashed in pieces the enemy and cast the ancient idols to the ground. Behold the heaps of Nineveh! Search for the desolations of Babylon! Look upon the broken temples of Greece! See the ruins of Pagan Rome! Journey where you will, you behold the dilapidated temples of the gods and the ruined empires of their foolish votaries. The moles and the bats have covered with forgetfulness the once famous deities of Chaldea and Assyria. The Lord hath made bare his arm and eased him of his adversaries, for Jehovah, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
With what indignation, then, must the Lord look down upon that apostate harlot, called the Romish Church, when, in all her sanctuaries, there are pictures and images, relics and slivines, and poor infatuated beings are even taught to bow before a piece of bread. In this country, Popish idolatry is not so barefaced and naked as it is in other lands; but I have seen it, and my soul has been moved with indignation like that of Paul on Mars' Hill, when he saw the city wholly to idolatry; I have seen thousands adore the wafer, hundreds bow before the image of the Virgin, scores at prayer before a crucifix, and companies of men and women adoring a rotten bone or a rusty nail, because said to be the relic of a saint.
It is vain for the Romanist to assert that he worships not the things themselves, but only the Lord through them, for this the second commandment expressly forbids, and it is upon this point that the Lord calls himself a jealous God. How full is that cup which Babylon must drink; the day is hastening when the Lord shall avenge himself upon her, because her iniquities have reached unto heaven, and she hath blasphemously exalted her Pope into the throne of the Most High, and thrust her priests into the office of the Lamb. Purge yourselves, purge yourselves of this leaven. I charge you before God, the Judge of quick and dead, if ye would not be partakers of her plagues, come out from her more and more, and let your protest be increasingly vehement against this which exalteth itself above all that is called God. Let our Protestant Churches, which have too great a savor of Popery in them, cleanse themselves of her fornications, lest the Lord visit them with fire and pour the plagues of Babylon upon them.
Renounce, my brethren, every ceremony which has not Scripture for its warrant, and every doctrine which is not established by the plain testimony of the Word of God. Let us, above all, never by any sign, or word, or deed, have any complicity with this communion of devils, this gathering together of the sons of Behal: and since our God is a jealous God, let us not provoke him by any affinity, gentleness, fellowship, or amity with this Mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth.
Reader: I don’t really care about your comments unless you actually know the gospel that Rome teaches contained in their very own Catechism and unless you are familiar of the content of the ECT document. I am posting this so that you will study these things and then form an educated opinion. I am not interested in your uneducated comments. Do the work of studying or keep your comments to yourself. I can hear it now, “Such unloving words”.
March 29, 2009
Do you wish this passage, and so many others like it, were not contained in the Word of God? Do you wish that the God of the Bible was different then He reveals Himself to be--because you do not really understand Him? He does not seem to fit the God that you want to worship and adore. O' you say you love Christ; yet you crawl into a spiritual bed with whomever kindles the sparks of your own imagination and rebellious heart.
Most of us know the pain involved with loving someone and being betrayed. God gives us these experiences so that we can better understand these passages and thus better understand His love for us and how that love can be tied to His jealousy for us. Although our capacity to love and our feelings of jealousy, as they are associated with love, are always tainted by sin, there is a righteous jealousy.
Keep in mind that jealousy and envy are not the same thing. God is not envious of anyone or anything--but, He is jealous for us. Just as you would not want your spouse to share the same deep and intimate love that the two of you share--God will not share us with someone or something else. To be willing to do so, is not Love--it is indifference.
Think about this: Would you prefer a God who said, "It doesn't bother me a bit if you bow down and worship other gods. I don't care if your heart is divided. I don't care if you are loyal to me. All that matters to me is that you are happy". Perhaps, if some are honest with themselves, that is exactly the God they would prefer.
Now apply that same thing to your temporal relationships. Would it be love to say to your wife, "I don't care if you want to love others the way that you love me. I don't care if you share yourself completely with other men. I just want you to be happy."
In the same way that God's love for us is described as a jealous love, we are jealous for each other in a marriage union, and that is not a sinful jealousy. It is part of the unique "oneness" of our love for one another.
The world says, "There are many ways to God; Jesus is just one of those ways". Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me".
The Lord Jesus Christ, of whom I now speak, is very jealous of your love, O believer. Did he not choose you? He cannot bear that you should choose another. Did he not buy you with his own blood? He cannot endure that you should think you are your own, or that you belong to this world. He loved you with such a love that he could not stop in heaven without you; he would sooner die than that you should perish; he stripped himself to nakedness that he might clothe you with beauty; he bowed his face to shame and spitting that he might lift you up to honor and glory, and he cannot endure that you should love the world, and the things of the world.
Be careful Christians, you that are married to Christ; remember, you are married to a jealous husband.
He is very jealous of your trust. He will not permit you to trust in an arm of flesh. He will not endure that you should hew out broken cisterns, when the overflowing fountain is always free to you. When we come up from the wilderness leaning upon our Beloved, then is our Beloved glad, but when we go down to the wilderness leaning on some other arm; when we trust in our own wisdom or the wisdom of a friend—worst of all, when we trust in any works of our own, he is angry, and will smite us with heavy blows that he may bring us to himself.
He is also very jealous of our company. It were well if a Christian could see nothing but Christ. When the wife of a Persian noble had been invited to the coronation of Darius, the question was asked of her by her husband—"Did you not think the king a most beautiful man?" and her answer was—"I cared not to look at the king; my eyes are for my husband only, for my heart is his." The Christian should say the same.
There is nothing beneath the spacious arch of heaven comparable to Christ: there should be no one with whom we converse so much as with Jesus. To abide in him only, this is true love; but to commune with the world, to find solace in our comforts, to be loving this evil world, this is vexing to our jealous Lord. Do you not believe that nine out of ten of the troubles and pains of believers are the result of their love to some other person than Christ?
Nail me to thy cross, thou bleeding Savior! Put thy thorn-crown upon my head to be a hedge to keep my thoughts within its bound! O for a fire to burn up all my wandering loves. O for a seal to stamp the name of my Beloved indelibly upon my heart! O love divine expel from me all carnal worldly loves, and fill me with thyself!
March 27, 2009
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Jeremiah 17:9
The deceitfulness of the heart appears in the highest degree, when men overlook the real motives of their conduct, and mistake the workings of their own corruptions, "for the fruits of the Spirit of God.
That there is such deceitfulness in the world, none can doubt, who consider the dreadful enormities that have been committed under the sacred name of religion. In many cases, it must be acknowledged, these enormities have been committed by people who were conscious of the motives from which they acted, and who employed religion merely as an engine to attain the objects of their avarice or ambition. But in other cases it is no less certain, that men have concealed from themselves the motive of their conduct, and even mistaken the workings of their corruptions for the fruits of the Spirit of God.
Men in general, are so backward to acknowledge their faults, and so displeased with those who are so faithful and friendly as to point them out. How few can bear to be told their faults! This is the sure and ready way to make most men your enemies, even though you administer the reproof in the gentlest, and most prudent manner.
Instead of reflecting on their own conduct, which might convince them of the justice of what is laid to their charge, many, in these cases, set themselves immediately to discover the faults in their faithful reprovers, or in those, who, they suspect, may have informed them; and turning away their attention entirely from themselves, are only concerned to find equal, if not greater blemishes in others. Thus deceitful is the heart of man. We wish always to entertain a favorable opinion of ourselves and of our own conduct, and are displeased with those who endeavor in any instance to change this opinion, though it be done with the best, and most friendly intention.
But how unreasonable and preposterous is this degree of self-love! Were we alive to our true interests, we would wish to become better acquainted with our follies and our faults, and would esteem our faithful reprovers our best friends. Instead of feeling any resentment against them, we would turn all our resentment against ourselves; and endeavor, in the strength of divine grace, to correct those evils which, were we not so blinded by self-love, we might easily discover.
But through the deceitfulness of the heart, men are generally disposed to justify their own conduct, and ready to throw the blame of what is amiss on anything else, sooner than on themselves.
David Black, 1762-1806
March 26, 2009
God is the most important person in the universe. More important than all others put together. All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness" (Isaiah 40:17).
That's why Jesus put this request at the beginning of the Lord's prayer: "Hallowed be your name."
The whole-souled act of hallowing God's name is the most important act in the universe. To "hallow" means to "sanctify" which in God's case means to set apart in your mind and heart as supremely great and beautiful and valuable.
"Hallowed be your name" means, "See to it that your name is hallowed. Use your infinite power and wisdom and love to stir up billions of hearts and minds to admire you and prize you above all things."
We ask him to fulfill this promise:
"I will sanctify [hallow] my great name, which was profaned among the nations.... And the nations shall know that I am the Lord...when I shall be sanctified [hallowed] in you before their eyes." (Ezekiel 36:23)
"For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another." (Isaiah 48:11)
Ask the Lord to help you make the most important prayer your most common prayer. And the one you desire most to see answered.
Posted: 25 Mar 2009 11:07 PM PDT (Author: John Piper)
March 25, 2009
It is not a sign of a seasoned Christian soul that steady joy is untinged with steady sorrow. Or to put it positively, the seasoned soul in Christ has a steady joy and a steady sorrow. They protect each other. Joy is protected from being flippant by steady sorrow. Sorrow is protected from being fatal by steady joy. And they intensify each other. Joy is made deeper by steady sorrow. Sorrow is made sweeter by steady joy.
For the seasoned Christian soul, I do not see how it can be otherwise while people are perishing and we are saved. I do not see how it can be otherwise while these two passages are written by the same inspired man:
I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. (Romans 9:2-3)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)
(John Piper - Desiring God Blog - March 25, 2009)
March 23, 2009
Walk with Him by your side, talk to Him, ask Him for help and advice. Make yourself acknowledge His presence throughout your entire day.
Now, ask yourself these questions: Does that sound attractive to you? Do you actually want Him with you all day long--following you around throughout your entire day? Or, would you feel stifled? Would you want to shake Him off for awhile? Would He become a burden to you?
March 22, 2009
No song was playing. Instead, I hear the disc jockey laughing as she shares the following news article entitled "Top Ten Reasons to Go to Church" with the listeners. She thought that it was quite humorous and could really relate to reason #7 below. She then recommended that you read the entire list on KLOVE's website.
No, it was not written by David Letterman--that would be understandable. It was written by Bill Shuler, the pastor of the Capital Life Church in Arlington, Virginia.
So, last night I read about how youth are asked to "text message" their decisions for Christ on their cell phones at a "christian" concert and this morning I get to hear this on a "christian" radio station:
Top 10 Reasons to Go to Church
1. It’s a way to get a healthy glow without makeup.
2. Elvis started out in a church choir … so can you.
3. Goodness and mercy will follow you all the rest of your life–which are better than the IRS or FBI.
4. In this economy, it might be good to be hooked up with Someone who can turn water into wine.
5. You can walk down an aisle and approach an altar without having to gain a mother-in-law.
6. The Biblical admonition to “greet one another with a holy kiss” boosts your social life.
7. Hard Times? Kids getting on your nerves? Free coffee and child care at church!
8. The sound of money dropping is the offering, not your stocks.
9. Robes, candles, music…and it’s less expensive than a spa.
10. With April 15 coming, remember, Man does not live by Turbotax alone.
So I ask you, "Do you think God finds this amusing? Do you find this amusing? Frankly, if you do, you cannot possibly know God.
March 21, 2009
Winter Jam, which made its second visit to Rupp in as many years is presented by New Song, who opened the evening after Dove Award nominee Francesca Battistelli, with a few of their hits, including Arise My Love. Hawk Nelson made an early appearance with a hyped up set that topped the first half of music.
Then evangelist Tony Nolan took the stage to deliver a message and a high-tech take on the invitation for people to commit to the Christian faith. No walking forward to Just As I Am, Without One Plea here. Winter Jam goers were told to text “Tony” to 38714, and they would receive a text with more information about where to go for information. Winter Jam organizers estimated 2,500 people responded to that invitation Saturday night.
Then, it was back to music, with The Afters burning through several of their hits, including Beautiful Love and MySpace Girl. Finally, Toby came on for a quick exhausting set that, after a shower of confetti, sent everyone home in plenty of time to get some sleep before church — even with this being spring forward weekend.
I can hear it now: "Do you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?" "Oh, ya man, I texted a decision for Christ at a concert." "Well then, you're saved. Once saved always saved and don't let anyone make you doubt your salvation experience".
But however useful this sort of benevolence may be in its own place, it falls short of that love to mankind which is the fruit of a living faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The common benevolence which springs from mere natural principles, refers chiefly to men's bodily needs, and temporal distresses. Whereas true Christian love, while it does not overlook these, aims at higher objects, and, deeply sensible how infinitely superior the concerns of the soul are to those things which relate only to a present life, directs its principal efforts to the spiritual interests and eternal salvation of mankind.
While the Christian philanthropist, then, mourns over the countless calamities of suffering humanity, he is still more deeply affected with the spiritual distresses of his fellow creatures. By holding up to our view the great pattern of divine benevolence, exhibited in the gift of God's own Son, the gospel has a tendency to beget and nourish, in particular, an ardent love to the souls of men.
These, then, are the principles which contribute to form in the Christian that pure and unselfish zeal for the glory of the Redeemer, and the advancement of his kingdom, which constitutes the brightest ornament of his character.
David Black (1762-1806)
March 20, 2009
These are actual excerpts from addresses made this past week.
MEETING WITH THE BISHOPS OF CAMEROON
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI
Church of Christ-Roi in Tsinga - Yaoundé
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
This was the end of his speech yesterday:
Dear Cardinal, dear Brother Bishops, at the conclusion of our meeting, I would like to say once more what a joy it is to be here in your country and to meet the people of Cameroon. I thank you for your warm welcome, a sign of the generosity of African hospitality. May the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Africa, watch over all your diocesan communities. I entrust to her the entire people of Cameroon, and with all my heart I impart to you an affectionate Apostolic Blessing, which I also extend to the priests, men and women religious, to the catechists and to all the faithful of your dioceses.
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE DELEGATION OF THE CHIEF RABBINATE OF ISRAEL AND THE HOLY SEE'S COMMISSION FOR RELIGIOUS RELATIONS WITH THE JEWS
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Distinguished representatives of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, Dear Catholic Delegates,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you, the delegation of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, together with Catholic participants led by the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. The important dialogue in which you are engaged is a fruit of the historical visit of my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II to the Holy Land in March 2000. It was his wish to enter into a dialogue with Jewish religious institutions in Israel and his encouragement was decisive to attaining this goal. Receiving the two Chief Rabbis of Israel in January 2004 he called this dialogue a "sign of great hope”.
During these seven years not only has the friendship between the Commission and the Chief Rabbinate increased, but you have also been able to reflect on important themes which are relevant to the Jewish and Christian traditions alike. Because we recognize a common rich spiritual patrimony a dialogue based on mutual understanding and respect is, as recommends, necessary and possible.
Working together you have become increasingly aware of the common values which stand at the basis of our respective religious traditions, studying them during the seven meetings held either here in Rome or in Jerusalem. You have reflected on the sanctity of life, family values, social justice and ethical conduct, the importance of the word of God expressed in Holy Scriptures for society and education, the relationship between religious and civil authority and the freedom of religion and conscience. In the common declarations released after every meeting, the views which are rooted in both our respective religious convictions have been highlighted, while the differences of understanding have also been acknowledged. The Church recognizes that the beginnings of her faith are found in the historical divine intervention in the life of the Jewish people and that here our unique relationship has its foundation. The Jewish people, who were chosen as the elected people, communicate to the whole human family, knowledge of and fidelity to the one, unique and true God. Christians gladly acknowledge that their own roots are found in the same self-revelation of God, in which the religious experience of the Jewish people is nourished.
As you know, I am preparing to visit the Holy Land as a pilgrim. My intention is to pray especially for the precious gift of unity and peace both within the region and for the worldwide human family. As Psalm 125 brings to mind, God protects his people: "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from this time forth and for evermore". May my visit also help to deepen the dialogue of the Church with the Jewish people so that Jews and Christians and also Muslims may live in peace and harmony in this Holy Land.
I thank you for your visit and I renew my personal commitment to advancing the vision set out for coming generations in the Second Vatican Council's declaration Nostra Aetate.
And just what is the "Nostra Aetate" that the current pope references in the last line above? Here it is. As you read it, reflect upon Christ and the Word of God as revealed in the Bible and ask yourself if this is a "Christian" message--one that Christ, Himself, would commend.
DECLARATION ON THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS NOSTRA AETATE PROCLAIMED BY HIS HOLINESS POPE PAUL VION
OCTOBER 28, 1965
1. In our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the ties between different peoples are becoming stronger, the Church examines more closely her relationship to non-Christian religions. In her task of promoting unity and love among men, indeed among nations, she considers above all in this declaration what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship.
One is the community of all peoples, one their origin, for God made the whole human race to live over the face of the earth.(1) One also is their final goal, God. His providence, His manifestations of goodness, His saving design extend to all men,(2) until that time when the elect will be united in the Holy City, the city ablaze with the glory of God, where the nations will walk in His light.(3)
Men expect from the various religions answers to the unsolved riddles of the human condition, which today, even as in former times, deeply stir the hearts of men: What is man? What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is moral good, what sin? Whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? Which is the road to true happiness? What are death, judgment and retribution after death? What, finally, is that ultimate inexpressible mystery which encompasses our existence: whence do we come, and where are we going?
From ancient times down to the present, there is found among various peoples a certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events of human history; at times some indeed have come to the recognition of a Supreme Being, or even of a Father. This perception and recognition penetrates their lives with a profound religious sense.
Religions, however, that are bound up with an advanced culture have struggled to answer the same questions by means of more refined concepts and a more developed language. Thus in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust. Again, Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination. Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing "ways," comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.(4)
The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men.
The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.
Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.
4. As the sacred synod searches into the mystery of the Church, it remembers the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham's stock.
Thus the Church of Christ acknowledges that, according to God's saving design, the beginnings of her faith and her election are found already among the Patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. She professes that all who believe in Christ-Abraham's sons according to faith (6)-are included in the same Patriarch's call, and likewise that the salvation of the Church is mysteriously foreshadowed by the chosen people's exodus from the land of bondage. The Church, therefore, cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles.(7) Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles. making both one in Himself.(8)
The Church keeps ever in mind the words of the Apostle about his kinsmen: "theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh" (Rom. 9:4-5), the Son of the Virgin Mary. She also recalls that the Apostles, the Church's main-stay and pillars, as well as most of the early disciples who proclaimed Christ's Gospel to the world, sprang from the Jewish people.
As Holy Scripture testifies, Jerusalem did not recognize the time of her visitation,(9) nor did the Jews in large number, accept the Gospel; indeed not a few opposed its spreading.(10) Nevertheless, God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues-such is the witness of the Apostle.(11) In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and "serve him shoulder to shoulder" (Soph. 3:9).(12)
Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.
True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ;(13) still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.
Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.
Besides, as the Church has always held and holds now, Christ underwent His passion and death freely, because of the sins of men and out of infinite love, in order that all may reach salvation. It is, therefore, the burden of the Church's preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God's all-embracing love and as the fountain from which every grace flows
We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. Man's relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: "He who does not love does not know God" (1 John 4:8).
No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned.
The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to "maintain good fellowship among the nations" (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men,(14) so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven.(15)
March 19, 2009
We believe in going back with the banner trailed in the mire, persuaded that this may be the surest way to lasting triumph. We believe in waiting, weeping, and agonizing; We believe in a non-success which prepares us for doing greater and higher work, for which we should not have been fitted unless anguish had sharpened our soul. We believe in our infirmities, and even glory in them; We thank God that we are not so eloquent as we could wish to be, and have not all the abilities we might desire, because now we know that 'the excellency of the power' shall 'be of God, and not of us.' Faith enables us so to rejoice in the Lord that our infirmities become platforms for the display of His grace."
March 18, 2009
"Rowland Hill illustrated the folly of sinners, by the story of a butcher who was followed by the swine right into the slaughterhouse. As pigs are not usually in the mind to go where they are wanted, it seemed a mystery how these animals were so eager to follow their executioner; but when it was seen that he wisely carried a bag of corn with which he enticed the creatures onward--the riddle was solved at once. Unsuspicious of impending death--the hogs cared only for the passing gratification of their appetites, and hastened to the slaughter.
Just in the same manner, ungodly men follow the great enemy of souls down into the jaws of hell, merely because their depraved passions are pleased with the lusts of the flesh and the pleasures of sin which the devil gives them by handfuls on the road.
Alas, that there should be such likeness between men and swine!
O you who delight in the poisonous sweets of sin--remember that though pleasant in the mouth for the moment--sin will be as wormwood and gall in your belly forever! Why will you swallow the bait--when you know that the hook is there? Why will you be lured by the Satanic fowler? Surely in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird; but you are more foolish than the birds--and fly into the snare when you know it to be there!
O that you were wise, and would consider your latter end. Let that one word "Eternity!" ring in your ears, and drive out the giddy laughter of worldlings, who prefer the present sensual joys.
Your life as a professing believer is either an act of worship to God (in both public and private) or an act of self worship.
March 17, 2009
Our temptation is to think that the gospel is for beginners and then we go on to greater things. But the real challenge is to see the gospel as the greatest thing—and getting greater all the time.
Here is a simple exhortation:
Seek to see and feel the gospel as bigger as years go by rather than smaller.
The Gospel gets bigger when, in your heart,
Grace gets bigger;
Christ gets greater;
his death gets more wonderful;
His resurrection gets more astonishing;
The work of the Spirit gets mightier;
The power of the gospel gets more pervasive;
Its global extent gets wider;
Your own sin gets uglier;
The devil gets more evil;
The gospel's roots in eternity go deeper;
Its connections with everything in the Bible and in the world get stronger;
and the magnitude of its celebration in eternity gets louder.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel.... For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
March 16, 2009
On my way home, a great sorrow filled my heart and I pleaded with the Lord, "Please, please, Lord--revive your people".
At times, I feel very alone and wonder if anyone else is noticing this. As I was asking the Lord to show me if my spirit is too critical towards others or if my perspective is skewed, I received these quotes in a daily devotion. Thank you Lord for your caring encouragement and letting me know that others in the body are also seeing what I am seeing and writing about it.
“I ask myself, I ask you: where is the ‘Oh’ in our response to God? Where is the intensity of awe and amazement that a true knowledge of the Holy One of Israel ought to evoke? Much of the church has lost the ‘Oh’ in her relationship with and response to God. Do you want to know why so many believers are muddling through the Christian life, just trying to stay out of hell and to get by with as little discomfort and risk as possible? It is because when they think of God, instead of ‘Oh’ their response is a ‘Who?’ of ignorance, or a ‘Huh?’ of disinterest, or a ‘So what?’ of indifference.
It isn’t exclamatory excitement but a religious snore that emanates from the soul of so many in the church today when the character of God is at issue.
It grieves me to say this, but the primary reason people are in bondage to sin is because people are bored with God. One of Satan’s most effective tactics is to convince us that God is a drag. And the church has contributed in its own way to this dismal image that God has among His people.”
“If we belong to a reigning, ever-present, all-powerful Lord, who possesses all authority in heaven and on earth, then should we not expect to see Him do what would cause us to have, in the words of A. W. Tozer, ‘astonished reverence’? Should we not experience, again in Tozer’s words, ‘admiration to the point of wonder and delight’? Should we not be renewed again and again by glimpses of His glory with us?”
March 15, 2009
Many love the Preached Word only for its eloquence and notion. They come to a sermon as to a performance,Ezek. 33:31,32, or as to a garden to pick flowers;but not to have their lusts subdued or their hearts purified. These are like a foolish woman who paints her face—but neglects her health!
Do we love the convictions of the Word? Do we love the Word when it comes home to our conscience and shoots its arrows of reproof at our sins? It is the minister's duty sometimes to reprove. He who can speak smooth words in the pulpit—but does not know how to reprove, is like a sword with a fine handle, but without an edge! "Rebuke them sharply!" Titus 2:15. Dip the nail in oil—reprove in love—but strike the nailhome!
Now Christian, when the Word touches on your sin and says, "You are the man!" do you love the reproof? Can you bless God that "the sword of the Spirit" has divided between you and your lusts? This is indeed a sign of grace, and shows that you are a lover of the Word.
A corrupt heart loves the comforts of the Word—but not the reproofs: "You hate the one who reproves...and despise him who tells the truth!" Amos 5:10. "Their eyes flash with fire!" Like venomous creatures that at the least touch, spit poison! "When they heard these things, they were enraged in their hearts and gnashed their teeth at him!" Acts 7:54. When Stephen touched their sins, they were furious and could not endure it.
How shall we know that we love the reproofs of the Word?
When we desire to sit under a heart-searching ministry. Who cares for medicines that will not work? A godly man does not choose to sit under a ministry that will not work upon his conscience.
When we pray that the Word may meet with our sins. If there is any traitorous lust in our heart—we would have it found out, and executed. We do not want sin covered;but cured! We can open our heart to the sword of the Word and say, "Lord, smite this sin!"
When we are thankful for a reproof. "Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it." Psalm 141:5. David was glad for a reproof. Suppose a man were in the mouth of a lion, and another should shoot the lion and save the man; would he not be thankful?
So, when we are in the mouth of sin, as of a lion, and the minister by a reproof shoots this sin to death—shall we not be thankful? A gracious soul rejoices, when the sharp lance of the Word has pierced his abscess of sin! He wears a reproof like a jewel on his ear: "Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man's rebuke to a listening ear." Proverbs 25:12.
"Our Western culture has a small, worldly, culturally contaminated, self-centered, Christ-ignoring, God-neglecting, romance-intoxicated, unbiblical view of marriage where the main idol is SELF, its main doctrine is AUTONOMY, and its central act of worship is BEING ENTERTAINED!"
John Piper "This Momentary Marriage"
March 14, 2009
(Arthur Pink, "The Word of Grace")
The Word and the Spirit are so intimately conjoined, that we are scarcely warranted in thinking of the one, without the other. The Word does not operate without the Spirit's agency--and the Spirit does not work apart from the Word.
It was by the Spirit's inspiration, that the Word was first given, for "holy men of God spoke, as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21).
It is by the Spirit, that we are enlightened (Eph 1:17, 18), yet the Word is the means He employs.
It is by the Spirit, that we are sanctified (Rom 15:16), yet not apart from the Truth (John 17:17).
It is by the Spirit, that we are strengthened (Eph 3:16) as He causes the Word to dwell in us richly (Col 3:16).
It is by the Spirit, that we are comforted (Acts 9:31) as He applies the Divine promises to our hearts.
How appropriate, then, that the grand instrument employed by the Spirit of grace, should be termed "the Word of His grace."The "Word of His grace" proclaims . . . rest for the weary, pardon to the guilty, justification to the ungodly, adoption to the outcast, eternal heavenly treasures for spiritual paupers! It is "the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind" who are to be called to the feast which free grace has spread! (Luke 14:13)
"The Word of His grace" not only instructs us where grace is to be found, and how further supplies of it are to be obtained--but it is the principal medium through which grace is actually imparted to the soul. It is a life-giving stream for parched pilgrims--as they journey through this "wilderness of sin."
As its sacred pages are reverently perused-- the mind is instructed, the conscience is enlightened, the affections are warmed, and the will is moved. As its exceeding great and precious promises are meditated upon and treasured up in the heart--new strength is imparted to the soul. As its holy precepts are turned into earnest prayer--help is obtained for the discharge of duty. As its timely warnings and admonitions are heeded--temptations lose their power and the snares of Satan are avoided. As its cheering revelation of what God has prepared for those who love Him is received by faith--new hope is kindled in the heart, and the trials of life are borne with greater fortitude.
And as the end of the journey is neared--death loses its terrors and the call to leave this "valley of tears" becomes more desirable. Without "the Word of His grace" we would be mariners upon the sea of life--without chart or compass!
My whole orientation changed after that glorious moment.
One year later, as I learned more about the Lord and His plan of redemption as reveled in His Word; and listened to the struggles of those who professed Him as their Savior, I grew more and more perplexed by a question. "Why do you love and obey the Lord?" and "Why don't you love and obey the Lord?" if you wear His glorious name?" I soon realized (by talking with many Christians) that there was much confusion about why one should obey the Lord and desire a life of holiness and obedience.
That was 13 years ago and I am still finding that to be the case with most who wear His name.
To best express this confusion, I will offer the following analogy, "Why a teenage boy obeys his natural father when told to mow the lawn and take out the garbage":
Father #1 is a demanding mean father. The boy knows that if he does not obey he will receive a severe beating and/or be denied many privileges. The boy is motivated to obey in order to avoid punishment.
Father # 2 is a reward giver. The boy has been told that if he obeys he will gain something, like the keys to his dad's car for Saturday night. The boy obeys to gain a reward.
Father #3 is a loving, honorable, trustworthy, man of integrity and simply tells the boy, "I am your father and I am telling you to mow the lawn and take out the garbage." The only motivation the boy has to obey is to please the father that he loves and respects.
Oh, but perhaps the reader missed something. There is a reward for the boy in #3 above: The greatest reward comes from knowing that he has brought pleasure and joy to his father and just hearing his dad say, "That's my boy in whom I am well pleased" is all the reward this boy would ever desire.
The boy in #3 also knows that his behavior outside of his father's house and control will either bring honor or shame to his father's name. Because he loves his father, that it of utmost importance to him and helps him dearly as he fights any temptation to engage in something that he knows would break his fathers heart and dishonor him. He longs to hear the words, "Your father must be a great dad, to have raised a boy of your honorable character"
Who is your Father? What motivates you to obey Him?
March 13, 2009
Over the years, I have watched great men of God (who have been used mightily to preach and proclaim God's truth) slip slowly into a practice of using their popularity and following to push their own personal convictions regarding non-essential doctrines. They use the pulpit to preach themselves--to preach their own personal convictions regarding doctrines that great men of God have differed on throughout the history of the Church.
I want you to read this portion of a transcript from a conference that was attended by over 3,000 pastors and leaders; and, as you read it, picture any man (an elder in your church, a leader of a bible study or Sunday school class) saying these exact words and ask yourself if this would be a man you would be comfortable with leading your flock at your church. Here is what was said, verbatim:
“Now that leads to my title: `Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist Is a premillennialist’ [laughter and applause] Now it's too late for Calvin, but it's not too late for the rest of you.
And if Calvin were here he would join our movement. [laughter]”
“But bottom line here, of all people on the planet to be pre-millennialist it should be Calvinists; those who love sovereign election. Let's leave amillennialism for the Arminians."
Some of you may know who said these introductory lines and I hope you do not allow your loyalty to this man to cloud your discernment.
Read this again, as if it had been said by a young pastor in a local church. Look at the term "self-respecting". Think about that. Self-respecting? Are we to be self-respecting? Look at the phrase, "It's too late for Calvin, but it's not to late for the rest of you." What's too late for Calvin? Think about him saying "join our movement". These are sad and, frankly, scary words coming from a man who thousands look to for spiritual guidance and leadership.
If one takes away all the humor and the rhetoric--what he is saying, to over 3,000 church leaders who will return to shepherd their flock is, "Anyone who does not believe the way I believe regarding these doctrines is an idiot!"
"Join our movement?" Oh really, John: Exactly what "movement" is that?
"...pride will grow in the pulpit. It is a weed that is dreadfully rampant. It needs to be cut down every week, or else we would be standing up to our knees in it. This pulpit is terrible soil for pride. It does not grows well; and yet I scarcely know whether you will ever find a preacher of the gospel who will not confess that he has the greatest temptation to pride. I suppose that even those little known ministers, who are very good people, and who have a little city church, with some six people attending it, have a temptation to pride. But whether that is true or not, I am quite sure wherever there is a large assembly, and wherever there is a great deal of excitement and admiration concerning any preacher, then surely there is a great danger of pride. And, you can count on it, that the more proud a man is the greater will be his fall in the end. "
March 10, 2009
Horatius Bonar is such a man. He was one of eleven children, and of these an older brother, John James, and a younger, Andrew, also became ministers and were all closely involved, together with Thomas Chalmers, William C. Burns and Robert Murray M'Cheyne, in the important spiritual movements which affected many places in Scotland in the 1830s and 1840s.
In the controversy known as the "Great Disruption," Horatius stood firmly with the evangelical ministers and elders who left the Church of Scotland's General Assembly in May 1843 and formed the new Free Church of Scotland. By this time he had started to write hymns, some of which appeared in a collection he published in 1845, but typically, his compositions were not named. His gifts for expressing theological truths in fluent verse form are evident in all his best-known hymns, but in addition he was also blessed with a deep understanding of doctrinal principles.
Examples of the hymns he composed on the fundamental doctrines include, "Glory be to God the Father".....on the Trinity. "0 Love of God, how strong and true".....on Redemption. "Light of the world," - "Rejoice and be glad" - "Done is the work" on the Person and Work of Christ. "Come Lord and tarry not," on His Second Coming, while the hymn "Blessed be God, our God!" conveys a sweeping survey of Justification and Sanctification.
Women: You want to be a "warrior?" Then read this and join me in prayer that the Lord will strengthen men today; and raise up more men like this. Pray that the Lord will do a supernatural work in the hearts of all men who wear His name.
Men: Read this and pray that the Lord will rekindle your love for Him and your desire to be a true man of God--a man with "the heart of a lion"--the man He has called you to be.
Revival Men Long For Success
They were men bent upon success. It was with a good hope of success that they first undertook the awful office of the ministry, and to despair of this would have been shameful distrust of Him who had sent them forth, while to be indifferent to it would have been to prove themselves nothing short of traitors to Him and to His cause. As warriors, they set their hearts on victory, and fought with the believing anticipation of triumph, under the guidance of such a Captain as their Head. As shepherds, they could not sit idle on the mountain-side in the sunshine, or the breeze, or the tempest, heedless of their straying, perishing, bleating flock. They watched, gathered, guarded, fed the sheep committed to their care.
Revival Men Walk By Faith
They were men of faith. They ploughed and sowed in hope. They might sometimes go forth weeping, bearing precious seed, yet these were the tears of sorrow and compassion, not of despair; they knew that in due season they should reap if they fainted not, that their labor in the Lord would not be in vain, and that before long they would return bringing their sheaves with them.
They had confidence in the God whose they were and whom they served, knowing that He would not send them into warfare in their own strength.
They had confidence in the Savior whose commission they bore, and on whose errands they were sent forth. They had confidence in the promises of glorious success with which He had armed and comforted them.
They had confidence in the Holy Spirit's almighty power and grace, as the glorifier of Christ, the testifier of His work, and the Resurrection of dead souls.
They had confidence in the word, the gospel, the message of reconciliation which they proclaimed, knowing that it could not return void to Him who sent it forth.
Thus they went forth in faith and confidence, anticipating victory, defying enemies, despising obstacles, and counting not their lives dear unto them that they might finish their course with joy, and the ministry which they had received of the Lord Jesus.
Revival Men Are Laborers
They were men of labor. They were required to bear the burden and heat of the day. It might be truly said of them, that they scorned delights and loved laborious days. Their lives are the annals of incessant, unwearied toil of body and soul: time, strength, substance and health. All they were and possessed, they freely offered to the Lord, keeping back nothing, grudging nothing, joyfully, thankfully, surrendering all to Him who loved them and washed them from their sins in His own blood, regretting only this that they had so little, so very little to give up for Him who for their sakes had freely given Himself!
They knew by experience something of what the apostle testifies concerning himself to the Corinthian church. They knew what it was to be in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. They had no time for levity, or sloth, or pleasure, or idle companionship. They prevented the dawning of the morning to commence their labors, and the shades of evening found them, though wearied and fainting, still toiling on. They labored for eternity, and as men who knew that time was short and the day of recompense at hand.
Revival Men Are Patient
They were men of patience. They were not discouraged, though they had to labor long without seeing all the fruit they desired. They continued still to sow. Day after day they pursued what, to the eye of the world, appeared a thankless and fruitless round of toil. They were not soon weary in well-doing, remembering the example of the Husbandman in regard to His perishable harvest: "behold the Husbandman waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and has long patience for it until He receive the early and latter rain." Many a goodly plan has been rendered abortive by impatience. Many a day of toil has been thrown away by impatience.
Many a rash step has been taken and hasty changes adopted in consequence of impatience. Attempts have been made to force on a revival by men who were impatient at the slow progress of the work in their hand; and seldom have these ended in anything but calamitous failure, or at best a momentary excitement which scorched and sterilized a soil from which a little more patient toil would have reaped an abundant harvest. There may be and there always ought to be the calmest patience in conjunction with the most intense longing for success. "He that believes does not make haste."
A friend and brother in the Lord some years ago was called to till a portion of the Master's vineyard in our own land. He labored and prayed and sought fruit with all his soul. Yet at that time he saw but little. He was called away to another circle of labor. After some years he heard that a work of God had taken place in his former field under another faithful brother and fellow-worker in Christ. On visiting the spot he was amazed and delighted to find that many of those who had been converted were the very individuals whom he had several years before visited, and warned, and prayed for. "One man sows and another reaps."
Revival Men Are Bold As Lions
They were men of boldness and determination. Adversaries might contend and oppose, timid friends might hesitate, but they pressed forward, in nothing terrified by difficulty or opposition. Timidity shuts many a door of usefulness, and loses many a precious opportunity; it wins no friends, while it strengthens every enemy. Nothing is lost by boldness, nor gained by fear. It seems often as if there were a Premium upon mere boldness and vigor, apart from other things. Even natural courage and resolution will accomplish much; how much more, courage created and upheld by faith and prayer. In regard, for instance, to the dense masses of ungodliness, and immorality in our large towns, what will ever be effected, if we timidly shrink back, or slothfully fold our hands, because the disarray is so terrific, and the apparent probabilities of success so slender?
Let us but be prepared to give battle, though it should be one against ten thousand, and who shall calculate the issues? But there is needed not merely natural courage in order to face natural danger or difficulty; there is, in our own day, a still greater need of moral boldness, in order to neutralize the fear of man; the dread of public opinion, that god of our idolatry in this last age, which boasts of superior enlightenment, and which would bring every thing to the test of reason, or decide it by the votes of the majority.
We need strength from above to be faithful in these days of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy to set our faces like flint against the censure and applause of the multitude, and to dare to be singular for righteousness' sake, and to fight, single-handed, the battles of the faith. The sneer, the scoff; the contemptuous smile of superiority, the cold support, the cordial opposition, the timid friendship, the bold hostility, in private and public, from lips of companions, or neighbors, often under pretext of reverence for religion, these are fitted to daunt the mind of common nerve. To meet these, nothing less than divine grace is needed. Never, perhaps, in any age, has wickedness assumed a bolder front and attitude; and never, therefore, was Christian courage more required than now. It needs little, indeed, of this, to traverse the customary routine of parish duty.
Men of the world, and mere professors, can tolerate, or perhaps commend such diligence; but to step beyond that and break the regularity of well-beaten forms and preach and labor in season and out of season in churches, or barns, or schoolhouses, or fields, or streets, or highways, to minister faith, fully and closely to men's consciences wherever you may happen to be brought into contact with them.
To be always the minister, always the watchman, always the Christian, always the lover of souls, this is to turn the world upside down, to offend against every rule of good breeding, and to tear up the landmarks of civilized society. Ministers and private Christians do require more than ever to be "strong and of good courage," to be " steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord." This has ever been one of the great secrets of ministerial success. Them that honor God, God has never failed to honor and to bless.
Revival Men Pray!
They were men of prayer. It is true that they labored much, visited much, studied much, but they also prayed much. In this they abounded. They were much alone with God, replenishing their own souls from the living fountain that out of them might flow to their people rivers of living water. In our day there is doubtless among many a grievous mistake upon this point. Some who are really seeking to feed the flock, and to save souls, are led to exhaust their energies upon external duties and labors, overlooking the absolute necessity of enriching, ripening, filling, elevating their own souls by prayer and fasting. On this account there is much time wasted and labor thrown away. A single word, coming fresh from lips that have been kindled into heavenly warmth, by near fellowship with God, will avail more than a thousand others.
If Christ's faithful ministers would act more on this principle, they would soon learn what an increased fruitfulness and power are thereby imparted to all their labors. Were more of each returning Saturday spent in fellowship with God, in solemn intercession for the people, in humiliation for sin, and supplication for the outpouring of the Spirit, our Sabbaths would be far more blessed, our sermons would be far more blessed, our sermons would be far more successful, our faces would shine as did the face of Moses, a more solemn awe and reverence would be over all our assemblies, and there would be fewer complaints of laboring in vain, or spending strength for naught. What might be lost in elaborate composition, or critical exactness of style or argument, would be far more than compensated for by the "double portion of the Spirit" we might then expect to receive.
This inspiring work helps us see that beauty has the power to convince the inquiring mind of truth. The soul's contact with God's beauty elicits love and forges in us a new affection that no earthly power can overcome. Enjoying God in the revelation of His beauty is the solution to our struggle with sin, the catalyst for substantive and lasting change and is the soul's satisfaction, with which no rival pleasure can hope to compete.
So what is it about God that when known and seen and experienced empowers the human soul to feel sickened in the presence of sin and satisfied in the divine embrace? That word again: Beauty.
Apatheism affects not just those outside the church but those inside the church who can't be bothered with their own religion let alone someone else's.
Sam Storms (From One Thing: Developing a passion for the beauty of God)
“I just had a scan of the room, her closet doors were open and I walked over into her room and saw her hanging. The cell phone was in the middle of the floor.”
A mother finds her 18 year old daughter’s body hanging dead.
Most of us have heard of “texting” or “text messaging”; but have you heard of “Sexting”?
Last fall, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy surveyed teens and young adults about “sexting” — sending sexually charged material via cell phone text messages — or posting such materials online. The results revealed that 39 percent of teens are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages, and 48 percent reported receiving such messages.
And now Jesse Logan was going on a Cincinnati television station to tell her story. Her purpose was simple: “I just want to make sure no one else will have to go through this again.” The interview was in May 2008. Two months later, Jessica Logan hanged herself in her bedroom. She was 18.
The image was blurred and the voice distorted, but the words spoken by a young Ohio woman are haunting. She had sent nude pictures of herself to a boyfriend. When they broke up, he sent them to other high school girls. The girls were harassing her, calling her a slut and a whore. She was miserable and depressed, afraid even to go to school.
“We talked about her being a good kid, a normal kid. Those are most of the ones that are sending out those images,” she said. “Forty-four percent of the boys say that they’ve seen sexual images of girls in their school, and about 15 percent of them are disseminating those images when they break up with the girls.”
It is a growing problem that has resulted in child pornography charges being filed against some teens across the nation. But for Cynthia Logan, “sexting” is about more than possibly criminal activity: It’s about life and death.
Jesse Logan’s mother said she never knew the full extent of her daughter’s anguish until it was too late. Cynthia Logan only learned there was a problem at all when she started getting daily letters from her daughter’s school reporting that the young woman was skipping school. “I only had snapshots, bits and pieces, until the very last semester of school,” Logan told Lauer.
After her daughter’s death, Logan quit her job and was hospitalized for a time with what she described as a mental breakdown. When she spoke about finding her daughter in her bedroom last July, tears coursed down her cheeks.
Jesse had been talking about going to the University of Cincinnati to study graphic design. Her mother thought she was over the worst of the bullying. Then one of Jesse’s acquaintances committed suicide. Jesse went to the funeral. When she came home, she hanged herself.
March 9, 2009
"...When the soul is exercised to communion with Christ, and to walking with him, he drinks new wine, and cannot desire the old things of the world, for he says “The new is better.” He tastes every day how gracious the Lord is; and therefore longs not after the sweetness of forbidden things,—which indeed have none.
He that makes it his business to eat daily of the tree of life will have no appetite unto other fruit, though the tree that bear them seem to stand in the midst of paradise. This the spouse makes the means of her preservation; even the excellency which, by daily communion, she found in Christ and His graces above all other desirable things.
Let a soul exercise itself to a communion with Christ in the good things of the gospel,—pardon of sin, fruits of holiness, hope of glory, peace with God, joy in the Holy Ghost, dominion over sin,—and he shall have a mighty preservative against all temptations.
As the full soul loatheth the honey-comb,—as a soul filled with carnal, earthly, sensual contentments finds no relish nor savour in the sweetest spiritual things; so he that is satisfied with the kindness of God, as with marrow and fatness,—that is, every day entertained at the banquet of wine, wine upon the lees, and well refined,—hath a holy contempt of the baits and allurements that lie in prevailing temptations, and is safe.
March 8, 2009
Do as David when he was to go up against Goliath. He said, "I come to you in the name of the Lord!" So say to your Goliath lust, "I come to you in the name of Christ!" Then we conquer, when the Lion of the tribe of Judah marches before us! Thomas Watson
So men: You think that pornography is a battle? You do? O really? Okay, then take the words of Thomas Watson to heart and every time you feel tempted to click that mouse, say, "Hello pornography--I come to you in the name of Christ." I guess that makes it pretty clear that pornography is not a battle--it is an idol. You bring Christ into your battles. You do not invite Christ to join you as you worship an idol.
Pornography addiction is not a "struggle" or a "battle". Pornography is an idol! Call it what it is!
I heard a radio show today on a Christian station stating that over 50% of men sitting in the pews of the churches across America are addicted to pornography and how even Pastors have admitted (some estimate over 30%) to be “struggling" with a habitual habit of viewing pornography. This was not NEW News to me. But, it did spark this post.
We make choices and decisions everyday! Think about this.
Why do you choose to put our foot on the break and come to a stop at a red light? Is anyone forcing you to do so? NO. It is your knowledge of the consequences of not doing so, that motivate your decision. You know that there may be consequences should you make a different choice. On the one hand, you might be pulled over and issued a ticket—(a financial consequence). Or, you may be hit and injured; or killed, by someone crossing the intersection at full speed—(a physical consequence).
Basically, you make the choice to put your foot on the break, not because you are a law abiding citizen; but because you do not want to suffer negative consequences of doing otherwise. In fact, you are more motivated by a desire to not be injured than you are by a desire to not injure someone else. Our choices and decisions are primarily based on sparing ourselves temporal consequences (either financial or physical).
The knowledge of potential, temporal, negative, consequences is one of the highest motivating factors in all of the decisions and choices we make everyday.
Would we call someone who habitually runs a red light, “weak”? Would we say he was simply struggling with the flesh? Would we suggest an accountability group for him in order to pray for him as he struggles with this “weakness”? I think not! We would think him a reckless, fool.
Why? I will tell you why. Because, the awareness of temporal consequences and the desire to avoid those consequences is what motivates us to make the choices that we make and we seem to have little struggle in making those kinds of choices. We seem to be quit able to abide by the law when doing otherwise may cost us something, temporally.
However, when the possibility of temporal negative consequences are diminished or removed, or we can do things in secret, we all of a sudden take a different view on our ability to make the right choices. Don’t we? We all of a sudden, talk about how powerless we are. How weak we are.
Will anyone issue you a ticket when you decide to click that mouse button to view a pornographic website? No. Will you run the risk of sustaining physical injury or potential death by driving through that intersection? No.
Man or Woman / Husband or Wife—Did you ever think about simply saying “You either get me or you get pornography. You don’t get both”. Period! Is this unreasonable? Is this out of line? Is this cruel and insensitive? Is this unforgiving? I think not!
I am so tired of (and frankly disgusted by) the way in which the Christian community is “handling” this topic. Pastors who publicly confess their “addiction” are now praised as being humble, brave, heroes of the faith. Accountability groups, seminars, conferences, books, etc. and yet the problem continues to grow.
To pray "Lead us not into temptation," and then sit down at the computer and click the mouse, is like one who should put his finger into the candle, and yet pray that it may not be burnt!
I can hear all the arguments now: “You don’t understand. It’s an addiction. I want to stop, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t”. While it is true, that we do not always have control over our thoughts, we do have control over our computer mouse and our remote control and what types of magazines, DVD’s and books we buy. Some things (such as thoughts) can simply happen—while other things require decisions, choices, and actions.
Ask yourself this: Would you steal just a little bit each month from your mother’s bank account (not enough to really hurt her financially), if you could do so in secret and think that you would never get caught? And then, if/when caught say, “It’s just a weakness—I can’t seem to control myself—but, that doesn’t mean I don’t love you, mother”.
No one can make anyone view pornography against their will. They make a choice followed by an action; and, if they choose to betray their marital vows and view pornography then they are simply proving that they love their own twisted sinful desire for perverted; dehumanizing; defiling; vow forsaking; sexual pleasure over their love for the Lord and their “love” for their wife/husband. It is that simple. If you are not married, you choose to get your sexual pleasure by viewing someone else's daughter and using her stupidity and ignorance to get aroused and pleasured while Christ is watching you.
You do not view pornography because you are weak. You view pornography because you like it! You view pornography because you are self-centered. You view pornography because it is one area where you can indulge your lusts without: 1) the risk of impregnating anyone or getting a sexually transmitted decease; 2) having to romance anyone to get your sexual needs met; 3) having to deal with the emotional baggage of a real relationship; 4) having to sacrifice a single thing for anyone else. You view it because you can and because you want to.
I repeat—you view pornography—not because you are weak. You view pornography because you like it; and you like it more than you care about what God thinks; you like it more than you care about the “love” you think you have for your spouse or for the Lord. You are choosing it, (whether you acknowledge that or not), over the love of your spouse and the love you profess to have for God, every single time you click that mouse. Each and every time you make that conscious decision to view it; you are saying, “I love pornography more than God and more than you wife/husband and family”. Acknowledge that reality! Stop deceiving yourself!
It is not a “weakness” my friend—anymore than robbing a bank is a “weakness”. It is you desiring (and probably even coupled with you thinking you deserve) an unlimited number of nameless “safe” concubines that require nothing from you; while thinking you still deserve the love and faithfulness of a godly woman or man without consequence.
Men! Women! Take a stand. Make the terms of engagement clear and adhere to them: “You either get me or you get pornography—you don’t get both!” Our Christian community is making hero's out of men and women who "stand by their spouse". Is not Christ sufficient! Let God deal with them. You really think they can make love to you and cherish you while addicted to pornography? Get real!
“Sin is the dare of God's justice, the rape of His mercy, the jeer of His patience, the slight of His power, and the contempt of His love.”
It is not having a wife—but loving a wife— which makes a man live chastely. He who loves his wife, whom Solomon calls his fountain, will not go abroad to drink of muddy, poisoned waters. Pure marital love is a gift of God, and comes from heaven; but, like the vestal fire, it must be nourished, so that it does not go out. He who does not love his wife, is the likeliest person to embrace the bosom of a harlot.
“My Struggle, Your Struggle”? Here is the truth. You can cloak this in anything you like, but the truth is that you are worshipping at the “Throne of Pornography” because you like it. You like it better than Christ and you like it better than your wife or your family. Pornography is your idol. You spend (and desire to spend) more time in front of the computer viewing pornographic images than you do in the Word of God and in prayer. You choose it over God, your wife and your children.
That is the truth. Do I have compassion for you? Yes. Is there hope? Yes. But no accountability group will help you. Next time you desire to get your daily dose of pornography, simply tell Christ, “Pull up a seat Lord and let’s enjoy ourselves together, shall we?”