Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tradition + Theology = ?????

This year I have listened to a few radio stations playing the old Christmas songs that I grew up with. It brings back many memories. One of those songs is "Here Comes Santa Claus" sung by Gene Autry. Below is a brief history of the writing of this song:

Gene was riding his horse, Champion, down Hollywood Boulevard for the annual Christmas parade in 1946 when, hearing the crowds of children gleefully crying, “Here comes Santa Claus!” he was inspired to write a song. He turned his sketch over to Oakley Haldeman (then in charge of Gene’s music publishing firms) and legendary A&R chief “Uncle” Art Satherley. They completed the lead sheet, hastening a copy over to singer/guitarist Johnny Bond’s home to make an acetate disc of the finished product. A cocktail was mixed for Uncle Art, who sipped near the microphone while Bond sang Here Comes Santa Claus for the first time. When the group heard the ice cubes jingling so merrily on the playback, they were inspired to use a “jingle bell” sound on Gene’s record! It was the first Gene Autry Christmas release, a huge commercial and artistic triumph that opened the door to an unexpected extension of his phenomenal career.

While listening to this song it seems the authors, Gene Autry and Oakley Haldeman, mix a little of the tradition of Santa Claus with the truth of God. A few of the lines of the song while making good lyrics really don't make clear theology - in fact I don't quite fully understand them at all:

Santa knows that we're God's children,
That makes everything right.
Fill your hearts with Christmas cheer,
'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight.

The author tells us that Santa knows that we are God's children. What does that mean? Are all people God's children in light of being part of the human family? Well, that might be somewhat seen in Scripture, but the Bible seems to show more often that God has a particular, chosen people who are His children. He possesses them as His own (Exodus 19:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9). The writer of this song then tells us that this knowledge makes everything right. Again, what does he mean by that? How does it make everything right? He ends this stanza by concluding that based on these facts we are to fill our hearts with Christmas cheer - because Santa Claus comes tonight.

Another stanza has the phrase:

Peace on Earth will come to all
If we just follow the light

While this is probably derived from the scripture concerning the proclamation of the angels to the shepherds concerning a Savior, it really again is unclear as to how will peace come to all on the earth? What light does he mean we are to follow? While not trying to over analyze this Christmas ditty, I still think it is crucial that we always pay attention to those things we hear, read, and even sing to make sure that we are not proclaiming things the Bible does not.

I find it interesting that this song focusing on the coming of the traditional Santa Claus as the source of this joy. But if we look at these lines from the song from a Biblical perspective, we see that the source of this joy is found in the coming of a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, who will save His people from their sin. The songs talks about being a child of God, having peace, being right, and following the light. This is only possible through Jesus Christ. It is because of His coming, His perfect righteous life, His substitutionary sacrifice for His people, and His resurrection that indeed anyone can have true peace - a peace with God that comes from being forgiven from our sins which rightly deserve His wrath (Romans 5:1). It is only thought Him that we can be made right with God - able to stand before Him in the righteousness of Christ without fear of Him and able to call Him Father (Romans 5:19). He is the true light (John 1:9-13) and only those who call on and trust Him as Lord and Savior can truly be called His children for they have been adopted according to His kindness and His grace (Ephesians 1:5).

So while we sing and listen to these old time songs at Christmas, remember to sing some of the old time true Christmas Carols as well. In many of these we can see what happens when Biblical truth presents true doctrine clearly vs a tradition trying to exclaim why we really need to celebrate this time of year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Does It Really Take So Long?

Have you ever began a Bible reading program with the goal to read through the entire Bible in a certain amount of time? And have you ever after a short period come to the conclusion that it will simply take too much of your time and seems to take too long. Well, I began thinking about the actual time it would take to read through the entire Bible. I looked up 3 popular versions of the Bible as they are offered in an audio format. The following are the times presented for the entire Bible being read out loud in a non-dramatic format:
  • NIV - 77 hours
  • ESV - 75 hours
  • NASB - 73 hours
So we see an average of 75 hours to read the entire Bible. That is just 3 hours over 3 complete days. That is less than 1% of a year's time. And remember, that this is reading the Bible out loud - which would probably take longer than reading silently to yourself. Of course- thoughtful meditation while reading would also take longer. But on the surface would you have thought that it would only take a little over 3 complete days to read the entire Bible? Think about the time you have spent this year doing other things. I know I have spent way more time than this watching sporting events, movies, and favorite television programs. Which would be a better use of my time?

I guess my point is that reading the Bible really does not take so long when viewed in the aspect of a year. As a new year approaches, make it a point to read through the Bible. If fact, make it a point to read through the Bible at least once every year of your life. There are many published plans out there and even designated Bibles that can aid you. And while I bet that it may take you longer than the time above because the Holy Spirit will aid you in understanding and illumination of the Bible, it will be time well spent. And - it will not seem to be so long. In fact you may feel that you may need to make more time to read God's revelation given to His people - a revelation straight from Him meant for His glory and our absolute best.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

To Be More Blessed Than Mary

Tonight during family devotion, we read a short reading from Jonathan Edwards based on Luke 11:27-28:
While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Edwards brought up the passages in Luke 1:28 and Luke 1:48-49, where Mary is called "highly favored," "blessed among women," and one who "from henceforth all generations" shall call her blessed. Indeed quite a blessing to be chosen as Edwards puts it "the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, that Creator of the world, and the Savior of sinners and the Judge of angels and men."

But then Edwards goes on to focus on the Luke 11 passage. Apparently one listening to the teachings of Jesus broke out in praise and blessed the mother of Jesus, Mary. He goes on to point out the response of Jesus to this statement. Jesus says, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it." Edwards writes:

How great a privilege was it to this young virgin to conceive in her womb and hold in her arms and suckle at her breasts, a Child who was the Son of the highest, who was the great and eternal and infinitely beloved Son of God, the Creator and mighty Governor of heaven and earth and the great Savior of mankind. . . . But hearing and keeping the word of God renders a person more blessed than any of those privileges. . . .The woman to who Christ directed himself in the text had been hearing the word externally. Christ therefore here informs her that if she not only hears but keeps this word, he will render her more blessed than that privilege that she spoke of.

Do we believe that today? Can we imagine that we can be more blessed than Mary was, who experienced the wonderful privileges mentioned above? Well, Jesus tell us that we can and are more blessed than Mary if we hear His words and obey them. Indeed as an English speaking nation, we have to quote Dan Wallace, "an embarrassment of riches" when it comes to the Word of God. We have multitudes of translations in our language. But do we avail ourselves of these riches. Jesus tells us that if we will read, hear, and obey His word, we will be blessed. What a wonderful promise to remember this Christmas. Do we believe this promise? Well, do we read His word? Do we hear it faithfully preached? Do we obey it? If so, we are indeed most highly blessed. Even more so than being the mother or even a blood relative of Jesus (Matthew 12:47-50)

This devotion came from a book entitled "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas." It contains 22 reading from various authors focusing on the incarnation of Christ. I highly recommend it to you for your edification and use during this season.

Monday, December 7, 2009

History of the English Bible

There are a lot of great seminary level lectures at Biblical Here are a few from Daniel Wallace - one of the foremost NT textual experts. You may not agree with everything he says especially about translations, but these are very beneficial.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Angry at God?

I can recall in my teenage and early 20 years hear individuals say things like it was okay to be angry with God when you experience tragedies like the loss of loved ones and illnesses. In Edward Welch's book, "Addictions - A Banquet in the Grave," he writes the following about being angry with God in relationship to how God's holiness has been forgotten today:

Over the last thirty years, one of the remarkable changes within the Christian community has been the fact that we not only acknowledge anger with God, we tacitly approve it. Throughout history, people have wrestled with God's hand in our suffering, and some people would harbor anger against him because they deemed him unfair or unjust. Rarely, however, would such anger be voiced. When it was, there was always a sense that lightning could strike momentarily. Yet now, under the banner of openness and "God can take it," it is acceptable to be angry with God. But God is God. He is the king, and we are his servants (Rom. 6:22). We are his, and he has the right to bring whatever he wants into our lives. And who are we to stand in judgement of God's justice? Isn't that saying that we are the epitome of justice rather than saying that God's justice is holy, higher than our own? Who are we to critique God's love, especially when we are witnesses of the cross? God's love is a holy love. We cannot compare it to the love of a person. Instead, it is greater than anything we can imagine. If we don't see it in our immediate circumstances, it is because we are equating love with getting what we want. God's love, however, always has a larger view. It is more sophisticated - deeper and more multifaceted - than we know.
How true this is. We often think it is God's job to give us what we want or He really does not love us. Let us read how those of the past who have patiently endured suffering and tragedy in their lives and endures them knowing that God's love was true and His works in their lives were always from His love and for their absolute best. Welsh goes on to say:
The corrective is to keep the cross and resurrection in view. The cross displays holy love. The cross also indicated that sin is not something to be trifled with. It called down the wrath of God, and demanded a payment that we could never make ourselves. Only the cross can speak simultaneously about holy justice and holy love.
I am sure if Jesus would have demonstrated our view of God's love at times, then he would have questioned the love of the Father towards Him. But scripture proclaims that the Father has always loved the Son even when He bore the wrath of the Father for His people. May we with the Hebrews writer remember:
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:7-11)

Angry with God? May it never be. Not when what awaits you is peace, holiness, and righteousness.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Video Evidence as Truth

Well, tonight I watch yet again another documentary discussing the theories behind the assassination of JFK. This one was slightly different discussing all the events that have occurred in the years since the assassination with respect to finding out what really happened. It sort of ended by saying that the truth perhaps lies hidden in unrevealed video that was taken on that day and will one day be revealed. I have to wonder, however, if that will even persuade people. Every week I watch college football games where plays are reviewed by video from different angles and even when the video evidence seems to show what really happened, it fails to convince the referees who decide just the opposite of the video evidence.

People often believe only what they want to believe. It sort of reminds me of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus told by Jesus. I believe it was Abraham who told the rich man that even if a man rose from the dead it would not convince his brothers to turn from their sinful ways (Luke 16:19-31). And in fact, that is just what happened with the results being that those who fought against Christ tried to cover it up - talk about a conspiracy story that is still being told even to this day (Matthew 28:11-15). You can't intellectually convince one into the Kingdom. In a similar way, just observing the miraculous works of God will not do it either (just look at the Egyptians during the Exodus or the Pharisees of Jesus' time). Once again, a reminder that God has to regenerate the heart in the new birth first, which will then produce a recognition and acceptance of truth, leading to Godly repentance and true faith.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Biblical View of Addictions

I have been reading and will re-read a book by Edward T. Welch called "Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave." Of course with such a dark title, the subtitle really presents the positive side of the book which is "Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel." It consist of two parts. The first part deals with defining addictions from a Biblical and theological basic. While this part is interesting and needed in today's culture of psychology's Godless approach to sin and how to deal with it, the second part has been most beneficial to me. The second part, which is the longest part, focuses on the Biblical aspect of fighting besetting sins and assisting others in such a fight.

It is one of the best books I have ever read on the practical aspect of fighting those habitual sins with which every believer deals and assisting fellow believers who also struggle with these besetting sins. I would say that while an unbeliever can benefit from this book (mainly hearing the gospel), the main focus is for believers. The gospel is the beginning of overcoming these sins. If one have not coming to a saving faith in the person and work of Christ, then really this book will not make sense to them. It is full of so much good information that I intend to present some of it here as time allows during my re-read of it over the next several weeks. I would encourage you to get a copy and read this book over and over until its ideas are ingrained in your mind. Of course, if you do this you will be putting God's word into your mind and practice for that is where he gets the main thought of his book.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Value of God's Word

Last week during worship, the following text was read from Psalm 119:
The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of gold and silver pieces. (Psalm 119:72)
I have to admit that one of the first thoughts that came into my mind upon hearing it read was what would I do if someone offered me thousands of gold and silver pieces to completely remove God's word from my life now and for the rest of my life. I wondered do I value God's word more than riches.

Without a doubt, one of the gods of America is riches. It is a god and the worship of riches is idolatry. In fact, to worship the god of riches is in direct violation of the law of God which commands us to worship Him alone and have no other gods before Him.

But for believers, this statement by David should ring true in our lives. We should be as I believe Charles Spurgeon said of John Bunyan:
Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God.

We should pursue and value the knowledge and application of God's word as the world pursues riches. May God grant us faith that believes this truth and with the power of the Holy Spirit working in us produces an obedience to God's word that will bring Him glory and will be for our absolute best.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

This morning in worship, we sang the song, "My Lord, I Did Not Choose You" written by Josiah Conder. It was once again a powerful reminder to me of God's grace over every aspect on my entire existence. My whole life is all of his grace and I can only boast and glory in Christ alone. As our Pastor has been preaching through Genesis, one can see this truth consistently brought forth as God's sovereign choice is evident and no man can boast in anything of himself. As John writes in his gospel:

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12)

May God grant that I never forget the glorious humbling truth presented in this song. The words are found here.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Meditations of My 4th of July History

This July 4th will be the 45th of my life that I have experienced. Today for some reason, I tried to remember some of the ones that I have experienced. While, I certainly do not remember all of them, a few remembrances are still clear.

  • In my preteen years, I have recollection of grill outs and fireworks at Stone Mountain along with time spent with my extended family on vacations. Of note, I have recollection of the large bicentennial celebration of 1976, though we spent it at home, I recall much of the celebration observed on our 3-5 channel television.
  • My teen and college years bring back the memory of a July 4th at Six Flags (1981) which turned in to an early morning on July 5th since back then the park did not close until midnight as well as the traffic problems brought on by the large crowds after the park was closed. Another memorable July 4th was spent with summer missionaries in Alaska (1985) in which at midnight on July 5th, they still had not started the fireworks since it was not dark enough to do so.
  • I remember my first July 4th after being married (1987). My wife and I observed the fireworks from our townhouse near a local park.
  • Since then, there have been many July 4ths as children were born. Many were spent on vacation to my Moms when she lived in Tennessee. We would use the time before and after to take trips to Chattanooga, Nashville, and places in between such as Civil War battlefields, Rock City, Ruby Falls, the Lost Sea, the Hermitage and the Tennessee Aquarium. These always ended with my Mom's family at her house with lots of cousins, nieces, nephews, and uncles and aunts and my Grandmother. The kids enjoyed seeing their cousins and playing in Mimi's plastic swimming pool. I enjoyed the thrashing one of my cousins and myself gave our uncles and other cousins in basketball (though now some of those cousins, I am sure, would be giving me the thrashing). We all enjoyed the time together, especially Uncle Joe's BBQ and Ripley Tomatoes.
  • One July 4th (1999) will always live in my memory because of a move we made to Louisville, KY which we probably should not have made. It was a Sunday and most of the day was spent unpacking.
  • As of late, many July 4ths have come and gone and we have observed most of them as a family with cookouts and relaxation without the crowds. This one will likewise be observed here at home with my family around a cooked out meal and time spent away from the ordinary of work and school. Overall, it has always been a time of family and friends.
I am sure you have memories of July 4ths in your past. I am just glad that God has granted me these memories as the early ones (and sometime the ones of late) seem to disappear too fast from my mind. I doubt I have 45 more July 4ths to celebrate on this earth, but may I remember as each one comes around God's goodness and mercy to me a sinner and his mercy and grace on this country for to Him alone belongs all the glory.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Meditation on Ephesians 1:7-8A

In Ephesians 1, Paul writes:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. (Ephesians 1:7-8A)

We see here that we have received redemption through Christ's sacrificial atoning death and the forgiveness of all our sins. But why have we received this redemption? Why do we have forgiveness of our sins while others around us do not? Is it something good or worthy in me? Is it something not in them? Well, Paul goes on to answer this question. We have been redeemed from the slavery of sin as our master through the accepted payment of Christ's death in our place and we have been forgiven of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace. There it is - Sovereign grace. Nothing in me could have merited this redemption. Nothing I could ever do could earn this forgiveness. God in His rich grace has given me these gifts and not just given them, but lavished them on us. This word lavish means to "be over and above; to abound." We are overflowing in the riches of God's grace upon us. May this simple fact crush all of man's self-glorification, pride and autonomy with respect to salvation. Salvation is all of God. And I am glad. Because if it depended even to the infinite decimal on me, I would be lost forever. Soli Deo Gloria

1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Purpose of God's Law

Often times Christian become confused about what the purpose of God's law is 1) in general and 2) for believers. They tend to go to two extremes 1) legalism and 2) antinomianism. John Calvin saw in God's Word 3 purposes for God's law. Here they are as presented in Joel Beeke's book Overcoming the World.

  1. It restrains sin and promotes righteousness in the church and society, preventing both from lapsing into chaos.
  2. It disciplines, educates, convicts, and drives us outside of ourselves to Jesus Christ, the fulfiller and end of the law. The law cannot lead us to a saving knowledge of God in Christ. Rather, the Holy Spirit uses the law as a mirror to show us our guilt, to shut us off from hope, and to bring us to repentance. It drives us to the spiritual need out of which faith in Christ is born. This convicting use of the law is critical for the believer's piety, for it prevents the ungoldly self-righteousness that is prone to reassert itself even in the holiest of saints.
  3. It becomes the rule of life for the believer. "What is the rule of life which [God] has given us?" Calvin asks in the Genevan Catechism. The answer: "His law." Later, Calvin says the law "shows the mark at which we ought to aim, the goal towards which we ought to press, that each of us, according to the measure of grace bestowed upon him, may endeavor to frame his life according to the highest rectitude, and, by constant study, continually advance more and more.
Let us let the law do what it is meant to do according to Scripture. Then we can truly say with the Psalmist that God's Law is more desirable to us than fine gold and sweeter to our taste than the drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)

Monday, April 27, 2009

What do Christians do more than others? Part 5

In a sermon of Charles Spurgeon called "A Call to Holy Living" and based on the text of Matthew 5:47, he stresses several MATTERS IN WHICH WE MAY NATURALLY LOOK FOR THE CHRISTIAN TO DO MORE THAN OTHERS. Finally in this section of the sermon, Spurgeon discussed these areas of a Christian's life:

Next to that, the Christian is to be more than others in truthfulness. Read on from the thirty-third to the thirty-seventh verse, and the gist of all is, that whereas another man utters the truth because he swears, you are to speak the truth because you can do no otherwise. Your ordinary word is to be as true as the extraordinary oath of the man who stands in the witness box in the court of justice. You are to avoid those evasions, alcove modes of concealing truth which are common enough in trade, those exaggerations, those lies which are a common nuisance. Why, our advertisements swarm with lies; our shop windows are daubed with them—such as "tremendous sacrifices," when the only sacrificed person is the customer. All the world sees through puffery, and yet even professors go on puffing and exaggerating. Shun it, Christian. If you tell a man you sell him an article under cost price, let it be under cost price, or do not say so. There are other modes of commending your wares which will be quite as effectual as falsehood. Scorn to earn a farthing by uttering that which is not true, and what you might allow in your next door neighbor, and say, "Well, he is under a different rule from me;" do not for a moment tolerate in yourself; the strict literal truth in all things should be the law of the child of God. Let your "yea, be yea," and your "nay, nay."

We have already touched upon the point which our Savior mentions from the thirty-eighth to the forty-second verse, namely, that the Christian should excel in forbearance. He should be ready to suffer wrong again and again sooner than be provoked to resistance, much less retaliation. That I have already spoken of, but may we excel in it.

And lastly, from the forty-second to the forty-eighth verse, our Savior shows that he expects us to excel in love to all mankind, and in the practical fruit of it, in trying to do them good. We ought to be, above all others, the most loving people, and the most good-doing people. Your man who buttons himself up within himself, and says, "Well, let every man see to himself, that is what I say; every man for himself and God for us all;" the man who goes through the world paying his way with strict justice, but all the while having no heart to feel for the sick, and the poor, and the needy, with no care about anybody else's soul, his whole hearts enclosed within his own ribs, all buttoned up in his own broadcloth such; a man is very like the devil, but he certainly is not like Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ's heart was expansive and unselfish. He gave himself for his enemies, and died breathing a prayer over them; he lived never for himself. You could not put your finger on one point of his life and say, "here he lived for himself alone." Neither his prayers nor his preachings, his miracles or his sufferings, his woes or his glories were with an eye to himself. He saved others, but himself he would not save. His followers must in this follow him closely. Selfishness is as foreign to Christianity as darkness to light. The true Christian lives to do good, he looks abroad to see whom be may serve, and with this eye he looks upon the wicked, upon the fallen and the offcasts, seeking to reclaim them. Yes, in the same way he looks upon his personal enemies, and aims at winning them by repeated kindnesses. No nationality must confine his goodwill, no sect or clan monopolise his benevolence. No depravity of character or poverty of condition must sicken his lovingkindness, for Jesus received sinners and ate with them. Our love must embrace those who lie hard by the gates of hell, and we must endeavor with words of truth and deeds of love to bring them to Christ, who can uplift then to heaven. Oh that you may all be gentle, quiet, meek in spirit, but full of an ardent, burning affection towards your fellowmen; so shall you be known to be Christ's disciples.

"Oh," say you, "these are great things." Yes, but you have a great Spirit to help you, and you owe a great deal to your precious Lord and Master. Did I hear one say, "I will avoid sin by being very retired; I will find out a quiet place where I shall not be tempted, and where I shall have few calls upon me." Pretty soldier you who when your Captain says, "Win the victory," reply, "I will keep clear of the fight." No, Christian, go about your trade, go into the busy mart, attend to your business, attend to your family, attend to those matters which God has allotted to you, and glorify God in the battle of life by doing more than others. Will God enable you so to do.

Complete sermon located at:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What do Christians do more than others? Part 4

In a sermon of Charles Spurgeon called "A Call to Holy Living" and based on the text of Matthew 5:47, he stresses several MATTERS IN WHICH WE MAY NATURALLY LOOK FOR THE CHRISTIAN TO DO MORE THAN OTHERS. Fourthly, Spurgeon preaches:

But, I must pass on, for the next point in which the Christian is to excel is in purity. Read from the twenty-seventh to the thirty-second verse—I do not go into particulars, but purity is earnestly commanded. The ungodly man says, "Well, I do not commit any act of fornication; you do not hear me sing a lascivious song," and saying that he feels content: but the Christian's Master expects us to carry the point a great deal farther. An unchaste look is a crime to us, and an evil thought is a sin. Oh, it shocks me beyond measure when I hear of professedly Christian people who fall into the commission of immodest actions,—not such as are called criminal in common society, but loose, fleshly, and full of lasciviousness. I beseech you all of you in your conversation with one other, avoid anything which has the appearance of impurity in this respect. Looks and gestures step by step lead on to fouler things, and sport which begins in folly ends in lewdness. Be ye chaste as the driven snow, let not an immodest glance defile you. We do not like to say much about these things, they are so delicate, and we tremble lest we should suggest what we would prevent; but, oh, by the tears of Jesus, by the wounds of Jesus, by the death of Jesus, hate even the garment spotted by the flesh; and avoid everything that savours of unchastity. Flee youthful lusts as Joseph did. Run any risk sooner than fall into uncleanness, for it is a deep ditch, and the abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein. Strong temptation lie in wait for the young in a great city like this, but let the young man learn of God to cleanse his way, by taking heed there to according to his word. May you all be kept from falling, and be presented faultless before the presence of God with exceeding great joy. You are not to be commonly chaste, you are to be much more than that: the very look and thought of impurity are to be hateful to you. Help us, O Spirit of God.

to be continued . . .

Saturday, April 25, 2009

What do Christians do more than others? Part 3

In a sermon of Charles Spurgeon called "A Call to Holy Living" and based on the text of Matthew 5:47, he stresses several MATTERS IN WHICH WE MAY NATURALLY LOOK FOR THE CHRISTIAN TO DO MORE THAN OTHERS. Thirdly, Spurgeon preaches:

Look again, from the twenty-first to the twenty-sixth verse, and though I do not pretend to expound every word, I remark that Christ would have his people excel all others in gentleness. Others will retaliate on those who vex them, and call them hard names, and will even go the length of saying "fool;" and, perhaps, go still further, and even come to cursing and imprecating terrible judgments. A quarrelsome man when he is in a quarrel with another rather takes pleasure in it; he does not mind how many hate him, or how many he hates; his religion is quite consistent with the worst temper; he can say his prayers, or he can offer his gifts to his God, and yet be as malicious as he likes; but with the Christian it is not so, and must not be so. We are to bear a great deal of wrong before we make any reply whatever, and when we do give an answer, we must, if we would be like our Master, give a gentle one. Heaping coals of fire upon the head of our enemy by returning abundant kindness is the right revenge for a Christian, and all other revenge is denied to him. He is not to stand upon his rights; he is rather to say, "I know it is my right, but I will yield it sooner than I will contend; I know this man does me an injustice, but I will bear it sooner than my temper shall be ruffled, or my spirit shall be defiled, by a thought of evil." "Oh," saith one, "this is a hard measure." Do you think it so? Are you a Christian then? for while in my soul I feel it is difficult, my heart feels I desire to do it, and I love it, and aspire after it; and I think every real Christian, though by reason of infirmity he often breaks this blessed rule, yet sees the beauty of it, and does not think it hard. Nay, rather the hard point to him is that he should fall so short of the gentle, loving nature of his dear Lord and Master.

to be continued . . .

How to Truly Study Nature

To be so occupied in the investigation of the secrets of nature, as never to turn the eyes to its Author, is a most perverted study; and to enjoy everything in nature without acknowledging the Author of the benefit, is the basest ingratitude.

---John Calvin, Commentary on Genesis

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their measuring line goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat. (Psalms 19:1-6)

Friday, April 24, 2009

What do Christians do more than others? Part 2

In a sermon of Charles Spurgeon called "A Call to Holy Living" and based on the text of Matthew 5:47, he stresses several MATTERS IN WHICH WE MAY NATURALLY LOOK FOR THE CHRISTIAN TO DO MORE THAN OTHERS. Secondly, Spurgeon preaches:

Next, if I read from the seventeenth to the twentieth verse, I am taught that our Lord expects from his people a more exact performance of the divine will than even the Pharisees pretend to give. Observe, he speaks here about jots and tittles never passing away, and about those who break the least of his commandments, and teach men so; and I gather that he would have us observe the very least of his words and treasure up his commandments. Do you think, dear brethren, there would be so many sects among Christians if all believers honestly wanted to know the truth and to know Christ's will? I do not think there would be. I cannot think our Lord has written a book so doubtful and ambiguous in its expressions that men need differ in interpreting it upon plain points. I am afraid we bring prejudice to it, the prejudice of our constitutional temperament, or of our parents, or of the church with which we are associated, and we pay reverence to somebody else's book, perhaps a catechism, perhaps the Book of Common Prayer, over and beyond the Bible itself. Now, this is all wrong, and we must purge ourselves of it and come to the word of God itself: and, when we come to this book, it must be candidly and humbly, with this feeling, "I desire now to unlearn the most precious doctrine or practice I have ever learned if the Lord will show me that it is inconsistent with his will; and I desire to learn that truth which will bring me most into derision, or that ordinance which will submit me to the greatest inconvenience, if it is his will, for I am his servant, and I desire nothing to support my own opinion, or to be my own rule." I think we shall all get pretty near together, if, in the Spirit of God, we begin reading our Bibles in this way. Surely the Lord expects this of us. I do not think he expects this of some professors, for certainly he will never get it; they are quite satisfied to say, "I attend my parish church, and that is the faith of our church;" or, "My grandmother joined the Dissenters, and, therefore, I keep to them; besides, after all you know there are no sects in heaven." That last assertion is one of the most shallow pretences ever designed on earth, to excuse men from being scrupulously obedient to every word of their Lord and Master. I do not doubt, O disciple, but what you will reach heaven, even though you mistake some of the Master's teaching, but I do doubt your ever reaching there if you wilfully despise his words, or decline to learn what he came to teach. Our Lord has said unto us, "Go ye therefore, and disciple all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," and therefore, if you will not become disciples, and learn of Christ, we have not even begun with you, neither can you be baptised, or bear the name of the Triune God. Jesus will have you obey his will, as well as trust his grace. Mind that, beloved. This demand for exact obedience is no word of mine, but of the Master.

to be continued . . .

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What do Christians do more than others?

In a sermon of Charles Spurgeon called "A Call to Holy Living" and based on the text of Matthew 5:47, he stresses several MATTERS IN WHICH WE MAY NATURALLY LOOK FOR THE CHRISTIAN TO DO MORE THAN OTHERS. Let's begin to take a look at some of these areas of life and then examine ourselves. First, Spurgeon preaches:

I thought I would not utter my own ideas this morning, but to fortify myself, would go back to the Master's own language; so I must refer you again to this fifth chapter of Matthew, and you will see in looking from the thirteenth to the sixteenth verses, that our Lord expects his people to set a store godly example than others do. Observe, they are to be the salt of the earth, they are to be the light of the world, they are to be as a city set on a hill, and therefore seen of all. If you were not a professor, my friend, you would certainly have some influence, and be under responsibilities for it; but as a Christian, your place in this world is peculiarly that of influence. You are not like a stone, affected by the atmosphere, or overgrown by moss, a merely passive thing; no, you are active, and are to affect others, as the salt which operates and seasons. You are not a candle unlit, which can exist without affecting others; you are a lighted candle, and you cannot be so lit without scattering light around. You are made on purpose to exert influence, and your Master warns you that if your influence be not salutary and good you are a hopelessly useless person for when the salt has lost its savor it is good for nothing but to be trampled under foot. You are expected, therefore, to influence others for good. You are an employer; let your influence be felt by your servants. You are a child at home; let influence be felt around the social hearth. You are, perhaps, a domestic servant; then take care that, like the little maid who waited on Naaman's wife, you seek the good of the household. Your influence must act quietly and unostentatiously, like the influence of salt, which is not noisy but yet potent. You cannot get through this world rightly by saying, "If I do no good, at least, I do no hurt;" that might the plea of a stone or a brick, but it cannot be an apology for savourless salt; for if when the salt is rubbed into the meat it does not season and preserve it, it is bad salt, and has not performed its work, but has caused loss to the owner, and left the meat to become putrid. And if you in this world, according to your capacity and means, do not affect other people for good, you have convicted yourself of being useless, worthless, a cumberer of the ground. The Master expects, as he has put the pungent influence of his grace into you, that you should be as salt; as he has put the burning light of his grace upon you, that you should be as a lamp, and scatter light all round. Take good heed of that. It is no saying of mine, it is the saying of him whom ye call Master and Lord. Think you hear him speaking it from those dear lips, which are like lilies dropping sweet smelling myrrh, and instead of seeing my hands lifted up in warning, think you see the print of the nails in his hand, and let the words come home with force to your soul.

to be continued . . .

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Free Calfskin ESV Study Bible

How would you like to win a free Calfskin Version of the ESV Study Bible?  Check out this link to find out.  Please don't enter however, because I want to win it.  Thanks

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Testimony of One who Knows God

Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is  my share,
And this Thy grace must give.

If life be long, I will be glad,
That I may long obey;
If short- then why should I be sad
To soar to endless day?

Found in J. I. Packer's Knowing God, pages 31-32.