10.29.2013

God Will Watch Your Soap Opera

"The great danger of biblical discipleship is that we should have two religions:

a glorious, biblical Sunday gospel that sets us free from the world, that the cross and resurrection of Christ makes us eternity alive within us, a magnificent gospel of Genesis and Romans and Revelation;

and, then, an everyday religion that we make do with during the week between the time of leaving the world and arriving in heaven.
We have the Sunday gospel for the big crises of existence.
For the mundane trivialities-
the times when our foot slips on a loose stone,
or the heat of the sun gets too much for us,
or the influence of the moon gets us down –

we use the everyday religion of the Reader’s Digest reprint,
advice from a friend,
an Ann Landers column,
the huckstered wisdom of a talk-show celebrity.
We practice patent-medicine religion.

We know that God created the universe and has accomplished our eternal salvation. But we can’t believe that he condescends to watch the soap opera of our daily trials and tribulations; so we purchase our own remedies for that. To ask him to deal with what troubles us each day is like asking a famous surgeon to put iodine on a scratch.

But Psalm 121 says that the same faith that works in the big things works in the little things."

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson (Page 44)

10.10.2013

10 Biblical Reasons for Ministry to Children

I read recently some stats that said the cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 was $152,790.00!*
That's  $8488.00 each year.
$707.00 each month.
$23.20 each day.
That's about a buck an hour. 

So what about the cost, or rather, the value, of raising a child spiritually? To use that famous credit card commercial slogan: Priceless.

Below are 10 simple and (I trust) biblical reasons why we should minister to children both in the home and in the church.

  1. All children are sinners in need of a Savior. 
    • Romans 3:23 
    • Ephesians 2:1-3
    • Psalm 51:5
  2. The Savior loves children. 
    • Matthew 19:13-15 
    • Mark 10:13-16 
    • Luke 18:15-17 3.
  3. Children cannot be saved without the Gospel. 
    • Romans 1:16 
    • Romans 10:13-17
  4. You are most like Jesus when you are serving and blessing children. 
    • Matthew 19:13-15 
    • Mark 10:13-16 
    • Luke 18:15-17 
  5. Teaching children teaches us. 
    • You then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? (Romans 2:21 ESV) 
    • Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1 ESV) 
  6. Children are a reward to be received and arrows to be released.
    • Psalm 127:3-4
  7. Children are fruit to be reproduced. 
    • Psalm 128:3
  8. Children will live more fulfilled lives. 
    • Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Ephesians 6:1-3 ESV
  9. Children are tomorrow’s Church. 
    • We have a measure of responsibility to train spiritual leaders beyond our time on earth. 
    • This demands we participate in ministry for reasons above & beyond ourselves. 
    • It’s not about us. It’s really not even about the children. It’s about the glory of God displayed through His body, the Church, until He returns for His bride.
  10. When we serve children, God is our reward!
    • And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me."  (Mark 9:36-37 ESV)
*2010 figures

8.15.2013

What is Death to the Christian?

In 1651, puritan pastor Christopher Love was wrongfully accused of high treason and sentenced to death by beheading. Among many letters from family, friends, and fellow ministers to Parliment begging for Love's life to be spared, there were many written to Love himself, preparing and counseling him for that day when, in Love's own words, "my head is severed from my body [and] shall be united with Christ my Head in heaven."
Below is one such letter written from a dear friend, Roger Drake. Notice how the promises of Scripture are foundational to offering hope to one who is otherwise humanly helpless. In this letter, Drake answers the question, many times over, "What is death to the Christian?"
Dear soul, thou art now going to heaven. To quicken they desires, put it into these notions that are most suitable to thy condition.
To the weary it is rest.
For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness. (Isaiah 57:1-2, ESV) 
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:13)
To the banished it is home.
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, (2 Corinthians 5:6)
To the reproached it is glory.
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2, ESV)
To the molested and captived with corruption it is the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:21, ESV)
To the resister to blood it is conquest.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37, ESV)
To the vexed with sin and sorrow it is the extinction of both.
To the hungry soul it is the hidden manna.
To the thirsty it is rivers of pleasure, water of life, fountain of life.
They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. (Psalm 36:8-9, ESV)
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelation 22:17, ESV)
To the grieved soul it is fullness of joy, and to the sorrowful heart it is pleasures forevermore.
For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; (Psalm 116:8)
In a word, to them that have lain upon the dunghill here and kept their integrity it is a throne upon which they shall sit and reign with Christ forever and ever.
The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)
And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:5, ESV)
Dear heart, cheer up. A sharp* breakfast, but a blessed supper, the supper of the Lamb.



*Referring to the blade of the axe that will soon sever his head.

6.26.2013

Fly From Sin!

The second device used by Satan in tempting us to sin, according to Thomas Brooks, is "painting sin with virtue's colours" (sic). One of the remedies he offers against this temptation is to seriously consider "that even those very sins that Satan paints, and puts new names and colours upon, cost the best blood, the noblest blood, the life-blood, the heart-blood of the Lord Jesus." And then, in a most expected, puritanical way, Brooks waxes elequently and poetically about the humiliation of Christ for those very sins


That Christ should come from the eternal bosom of his Father to a region of sorrow and death;
that God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature;
that he who was clothed with glory should be wrapped with rags of flesh;
he who filled heaven and earth with his glory should be cradled in a manger;
that the almighty God should flee from weak man—the God of Israel into Egypt;
that the God of the law should be subject to the law,
the God of the circumcision circumcised,
the God who made the heavens working at Joseph's homely trade;
that he who binds the devils in chains should be tempted;
that he, whose is the world, and the fullness thereof, should hunger and thirst;
that the God of strength should be weary,
the Judge of all flesh condemned,
the God of life put to death;
that he who is one with his Father should cry out of misery, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46);
that he who had the keys of hell and death at his belt should lie imprisoned in the sepulcher of another,
having in his lifetime nowhere to lay his head, nor after death to lay his body;

that that HEAD, before which the angels do cast down their crowns, should be crowned with thorns, and those EYES, purer than the sun, put out by the darkness of death;
those EARS, which hear nothing but hallelujahs of saints and angels, to hear the blasphemies of the multitude;
that FACE, which was fairer than the sons of men, to be spit on by those beastly wretched Jews;
that MOUTH and TONGUE, which spoke as never man spoke, accused for blasphemy;
those HANDS, which freely swayed the scepter of heaven, nailed to the cross;
those FEET, "like unto fine brass," nailed to the cross for man's sins; each sense pained with a spear and nails;
his SMELL, with stinking odor, being crucified on Golgotha, the place of skulls;
his TASTE, with vinegar and gall;
his HEARING, with reproaches, and SIGHT of his mother and disciples bemoaning him;
his SOUL, comfortless and forsaken;

and all this for those very sins that Satan paints and puts fine colors upon!
Oh! how should the consideration of this
stir up the soul against sin,
and work the soul to fly from it,
and to use all holy means whereby sin may be subdued and destroyed!

Banner of Truth Trust, Pages 36-37
That cruel cross is where we look to convince us to say "no" to sin.
That cruel cross is where we look to convict us when we've said "yes" to sin.
And yet that same cross is where we look to comfort us when we need forgiveness of sin.

You can read Precious Remedies online here.

6.21.2013

How to Pray for Your Pastors

In the introductory comments from his book, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, Thomas Brooks asks for prayer as a pastor. Perhaps this could be a guide as you pray for your pastor.

That you would pray for me, who am not worthy to be named among the saints,
  • that I may be a precious instrument in the hand of Christ to bring in many souls unto him,
  • and to build up those who are brought in, in their most holy faith;
  • and "that utterance may be given to me, that I may make known all the will of God" (Eph. 6:19);
  • that I may be sincere, faithful, frequent, fervent and constant in the work of the Lord, and that my labor be not in vain in the Lord;
  • that my labors may be accepted in the Lord and his saints, and I may daily see the travail of my soul.
But, above all, pray for me--
  • that I may more and more find the power and sweet of those things upon my own heart,
  • that I give out to you and others;
  • that my soul may be so visited with strength from on high,
  • that I may live up fully and constantly to those truths that I hold forth to the world;
  • and that I may be both in life and doctrine "a burning and a shining light,"
that so, when the Lord Jesus shall appear, "I may receive a crown of glory which he shall give to me in that day, and not only to me, but to all who love his appearing." (John 5:35 and 2 Tim. 1:8).
(The Banner of Truth Trust; Page 20)