Monday, February 25, 2013

Christ, Our Substitute

Alistair Begg on the necessity of seeing Christ's death on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice:
Without substitution the death of Jesus is unintelligible.  Unless what we have [in the cross] is what is being described in 2 Corinthians 5:21, that he was made sin for us - not that he was a sinner for us - but made sin for us, then how else do you explain it? What possible justification could God have for crucifying the innocent unless in substitution he became all that we are in our sin and rebellion in order that, in the mastery and mystery of his grace, in him we might become the very righteousness of God?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Only Source of All That's Good

Lamb of God, We Fall Before Thee
Joseph Hart, 1712-1768

Lamb of God, we fall before Thee,
Humbly trusting in Thy cross.
That alone be all our glory;
All things else are only dross.

Thee we own a perfect Savior,
Only source of all that’s good.
Every grace and every favor
Comes to us through Jesus’ blood.

Jesus gives us true repentance
By His Spirit sent from Heav’n;
Whispers this transporting sentence,
Son, thy sins are all forgiv’n.

Faith He grants us to believe it,
Grateful hearts His love to prize;
Want we wisdom? He must give it,
Hearing ears and seeing eyes.

Jesus gives us pure affections,
Wills to do what He requires,
Makes us follow His directions,
And what He commands, inspires.

All our prayers and all our praises,
Rightly offered in His name—
He that dictates them is Jesus;
He that answers is the same.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Way We Work

Like Snow
Wendell Berry, from Leavings: Poems

Suppose we did our work
like the snow, quietly, quietly,
leaving nothing out. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church

I had a church member pass along a link to this post on The Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church, which I think is very legitimate and sadly accurate.  The top ten reasons, which are further explained in the post, are as follows:
  1. The church is "relevant"
  2. They never attend church to begin with
  3. They get smart
  4. You send them out unarmed
  5. You gave them hand-me-downs
  6. Community
  7. They found better feelings
  8. They got tired of pretending
  9. They know the truth
  10. They don't need it
To see the explanations and read the entire post, click here

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sink I Must Without Supply

Does the Gospel Word Proclaim
John Newton, 1725-1807

Does the gospel word proclaim
Rest for those that weary be?
Then, my soul, put in thy claim;
Sure that promise speaks to thee.
Marks of grace I cannot show;
All polluted is my breast;
Yet I weary am, I know,
And the weary long for rest.

Burdened with a load of sin;
Harassed with tormenting doubt;
Hourly conflicts from within;
Hourly crosses from without;
All my little strength is gone;
Sink I must without supply;
Sure upon the earth there's none
Can more weary be than I.

In the ark the weary dove
Found a welcome resting place;
Thus my spirit longs to prove
Rest in Christ, the Ark of Grace.
Tempest-tossed I long have been,
And the flood increases fast;
Open, Lord, and take me in,
Till the storm be overpast.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

From the Ash Wednesday liturgy:
Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

An Evangelical Looks at Pope Benedict XVI

With the surprising news of Pope Benedict XVI's retirement, there have been no shortage of comments, reflections, and even speculations as to who the next pope will be.  Not many reflections, however, are coming from evangelicals. 

Russell Moore provides one in this article, An Evangelical Looks at Pope Benedict XVI.     

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Unbiblical Notion of "Two Testaments, Two Gods"

John Wenham on the unbiblical notion of two different Gods in the two Testaments:
We have had so much erroneous teaching for so many years that even intelligent people often really believe that the two Testaments represent two irreconcilably opposed points of view; the Old Testament God being a God of wrath and the New Testament God a God of love. Such a view would have been repudiated by our Lord and by every New Testament writer with horror.  To them the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same; in both he is a God of wrath and of love. The great difference between the Old and New Testament is that in the former the gospel (though by no means invisible) is veiled, whereas in the latter it is clearly revealed.

--John Wenham, Christ and the Bible

Friday, February 8, 2013

Break Through the Clouds, Dear Lord, and Shine!

Afflictions Do Not Come Alone
John Newton, 1725-1807

Afflictions do not come alone,
A voice attends the rod;
By both He to His saints is known,
A Father and a God!

Let not My children slight the stroke
I for chastisement send;
Nor faint beneath My kind rebuke,
For still I am their Friend.

The wicked I perhaps may leave
Awhile, and not reprove;
But all the children I receive
I scourge, because I love.

If therefore you were left without
This needful discipline;
You might, with cause, admit a doubt,
If you, indeed, were Mine.

Shall earthly parents then expect
Their children to submit?
And wilt not you, when I correct,
Be humbled at My feet?

To please themselves they oft chastise,
And put their sons to pain;
But you are precious in My eyes,
And shall not smart in vain.

I see your hearts, at present, filled
With grief, and deep distress;
But soon these bitter seeds shall yield
The fruits of righteousness.

Break through the clouds, dear Lord, and shine!
Let us perceive Thee nigh!
And to each mourning child of Thine
These gracious words apply.

Monday, February 4, 2013

When Young and Old Need One Another

I had a church member recently pass along an article to me titled, "The Vitality of Youth, the Wisdom of Age: When Young and Old Need One Another," by Steve Estes, from the online magazine of the Presbyterian Church in America.  The article is actually a revised and adapted version of a sermon on Proverbs 20:29, "The glory of young men is their strength. Gray hair is the splendor of the old."

It is an excellent reminder of the need we have for one another, whether young or old.  The following is an excerpt that demonstrates this well:
Each age is better at something, right? Then a clear corollary is that the generations need each other. Imagine Pentagon generals — guys in their 50s, 60s, and 70s — sitting around the table in the war room, planning to rescue American hostages captured by Somali pirates. After they develop their wise plan, these generals drive to the airport, suit up, don parachutes, and off they go. Arriving over the target, they jump, floating down to rescue those hostages. Things won’t turn out so well, will they? The glory of young men is their strength.

Now conversely, imagine that Navy SEALS — men skilled at parachuting and pirate-busting — are running the Treasury Department. That wouldn’t be good. (Well, considering how things have been lately, maybe it would be an improvement. But you get the idea.) We need each other; that’s why God has made people of different ages. God wants the generations to mix and to feed into each other.

I sometimes walk into a convenience store to buy a cup of coffee. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become invisible to anyone behind the counter in their teens or 20s. They see I’ve got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. To them I don’t exist. But when I walk into my church, kids talk to me. Teenagers joke with me. Singles in their 20s slap me on the back. I love it, because in that room God does what this passage is talking about: He smiles on young and old alike and knits them together. So I ask you who are young: Do you realize what a gift you are to older people? There are people in your church and neighborhood who all week long see nothing but wrinkles and gray hair — until they brush shoulders with you. And to those who are older: Even though you may be intimidated by the young, there are young people who think “older people don’t even know I exist — they don’t care about me.”

God pushes us toward each other. As we mix, I think He’s telling the young: “Don’t be impatient with older people. Don’t despise them because they can’t get around.” He’s saying, “Have respect for older people.” And to the old, I think He says, “Don’t pine for the good old days when you were young.” Where does He say that? In the Hebrew parallelism of the verse. Often, in poems with this parallel structure, the second line offers the better of the two options. In this verse, the second line says that old people have gray hair as their glory. In the poet’s mind that’s a step up from the glories of youth.

But to both groups, I think the Bible says, “Don’t be preoccupied with your age.” Rather, here’s what God says in Jeremiah 9:23-24: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom. Let not the strong man [young and tough] boast in his strength. But let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and he knows Me."
To read the entire article, click here.


Friday, February 1, 2013

To Christ for Help I Fly

No Help in Self I Find
John Berridge, 1716-1793

No help in self I find,
And yet have sought it well;
The native treasure of my mind
Is sin, and death, and hell.

To Christ for help I fly,
The Friend of sinners lost,
A refuge sweet, and sure, and nigh,
And there is all my trust.

Lord, grant me free access
Unto Thy pierced side,
For there I seek my dwelling place,
And there my guilt would hide.

In every time of need,
My helpless soul defend,
And save me from all evil deed,
And save me to the end.

And when the hour is near
That flesh and heart will fail,
Do Thou in all Thy grace appear,
And bid my faith prevail.