Sunday, May 31, 2009
--A prayer from The Valley of Vision:
Blessed Lord Jesus,
Before thy cross I kneel and see
the heinousness of my sin,
my iniquity that caused thee to be "made a curse",
the evil that excites the severity of divine wrath.
Show me the enormity of my guilt by
the crown of thorns,
the pierced hands and feet,
the bruised body,
the dying cries.
Thy blood is the blood of incarnate God,
its worth infinite, its value beyond all thought.
Infinite must be the evil and guilt that demands such a price.
Sin is my malady, my monster, my foe, my viper,
born in my birth,
alive in my life,
strong in my character,
dominating my faculties,
following me as a shadow,
intermingling with my every thought,
my chain that holds me captive in the empire of my soul.
Sinner that I am, why should the sun give me light,
the air supply breath,
the earth bear my tread,
its fruits nourish me,
its creatures subserve my ends?
Yet thy compassions yearn over me,
thy heart hastens to my rescue,
thy love endured my curse,
thy mercy bore my deserved stripes.
Let me walk humbly in the lowest depths of humiliation,
bathed in thy blood,
tender of conscience,
triumphing gloriously as an heir of salvation.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Why Johnny Can't Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers.
And check out this broadcast from back in March:
Friday, May 29, 2009
These little books are perfect for the ten to fifteen minutes in the day that too often get wasted - waiting to get a haircut, waiting at the doctor's office, waiting for someone at a restaurant, using public transportation, etc. So stick one in your pocket and make wise use of your time.
Here's an excerpt from Samuel Ward's Living Faith that I read this week (it is well worth your time):
Use your faith always, as a necessity, as you use fire, water, salt, bread, wine, or other necessities. Faith is not just the midwife to bring you into joy and peace, and then you may let it go. It is more like a nurse or foster mother to bring you on to full maturity in them. Faith is even sweeter in its mature fruit than in its beginnings. Do you desire to have a continual feast, and to rejoice always in the Lord? I know you do desire it with all your soul. Let me prescribe a daily regimen to be strictly kept (may the Lord give both you and me grace to keep it). Just as often as you refresh your body by food and recreation, cheer up your soul by using your faith. Let your soul have two or three walks each day up to Mount Tabor, that is, to some retired place of meditation and prayer, like Isaac's field, Cornelius' walks, or David's closet.
What is to be done there? Faith is to be put to use! This is the chief mystery of our spiritual life. Stir up your soul in this mountain to talk with Christ. Consider all the promises and privileges you regularly enjoy. Now actually think of them, roll them under your tongue, chew on them until you feel their sweetness in the palate of your soul. View them together and individually. Sometimes contemplate one in particular, or another more deeply.
Consider how wonderful it is that your debts have been canceled, and that the wrath of God has been satisfied. Consider how happy and safe a condition you are in by being a son of God, and how pleasant a state not to fear death and hell. Consider how stately a thing it is to be an heir of glory. Mingle these thoughts with your prayers to heaven for grace and aid. Do not leave the mountain until your heart has been cheerfully warmed and revived in strength for the next day.
This is using your faith. It is living by faith. You will find your soul saying, "It is good to be here." It is good to be here daily, to come here often! The fire in unstirred coals does not glow, and does not heat the house. Sugar unstirred in the cup does not sweeten the wine. Not using your faith is almost as bad as not having it at all.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
True Repentance and Contrition
M. Justin Wainscott © 2009
True repentance and contrition,
These our desp'rate need;
Help us see our ill condition
In ev'ry sinful deed.
Reveal to us our heinous crimes,
Our vile and wretched hearts;
And how we've spurned a thousand times
The good Your Law imparts.
Let us fear Your righteous anger,
That awful, holy wrath;
Cause our hearts to feel the danger,
Which haunts the crooked path.
But please remind us, and with haste,
Of Christ, the sinner's friend;
And preach to us of gospel grace,
Of pardon from our sin.
Assure us, Lord, that You are good;
Remind us of Your love,
That Christ redeemed us by His blood,
And pleads for us above.
Now help us daily die to sin,
The Spirit as our aide;
And rid us of what dwells within,
Until like Christ we're made.
The book, Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century, appears to be out of print (though it can still be found).
The two CDs, Shout with Delight (Volume 1) and For the Love of God (Volume 2), are both still available.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
June 22 - Why the Nine Marks Are Central to the Future of the SBC, Mark Dever
June 23 - The SBC: Where We Are and Where We're Going, Danny Akin
Panel discussions will follow each evening.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The Edict of Worms formally condemns Martin Luther's teachings, which results in his being put under the ban of the Holy Roman Emperor. He is whisked away in secret to Frederick's Wartbury Castle, where he remained in hiding while working on the German translation of the Bible.
Thanks be to God for protecting Luther's life and giving him the courage to persevere under such difficult circumstances!
If you are a preacher or a Bible teacher, I highly recommend you giving this some time and attention.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
M. Justin Wainscott, © 2008
To Christ my praise shall ever be,
For by his blood he rescued me
From sin's accursed, wretched spell,
And from the grips of death and hell.
My sin incurred a hopeless debt,
But Christ hath all my payment met.
By Jesus' blood I've been set free;
To him my praise shall ever be.
It was my cross that Christ did bear,
And mine the sin that sent him there.
And still he suffered willingly;
To him my praise shall ever be.
How oft sin's damning voice is heard,
But Jesus speaks a better word.
His blood assures and comforts me;
To him my praise shall ever be.
You fleshly passions, which I fight,
You chains of sin, which hold me tight,
From you one day I shall be free
To praise my Lord more perfectly!
And when his lovely face I see,
The Lamb of God who died for me,
My lips shall sing repeatedly,
To Christ my praise shall ever be.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Now that you have gone
and I am alone and quiet,
my contentment would be
complete, if I did not wish
you were here so I could say,
"How good it is, Tanya,
to be alone and quiet."
My old friend, the owner
of a new boat, stops by
to ask me to fish with him,
and I say I will - both of us
knowing that we may never
get around to it, it may be
years before we're both
idle again on the same day.
But we make a plan, anyhow,
in honor of friendship
and the fine spring weather
and the new boat
and our sudden thought
of the water shining
under the morning fog.
Throwing Away the Mail
Nothing is simple,
not even simplification.
Thus, throwing away
the mail, I exchange
the complexity of duty
for the simplicity of guilt.
Three Elegiac Poems
Let him escape hospital and doctor,
the manners and odors of strange places,
the dispassionate skills of experts.
Let him go free of tubes and needles,
public corridors, the surgical white
of life dwindled to poor pain.
Foreseeing the possibility of life without
possibility of joy, let him give it up.
Let him die in one of the old rooms
of his living, no stranger near him.
Let him go in peace out of the bodies
of his life -
flesh and marriage and household.
From the wide vision of his own windows
let him go out of sight; and the final
time and light of his life's place be
last seen before his eyes' slow
opening in the earth.
Let him go like one familiar with the way
into the wooded and tracked and
furrowed hill, his body.
I stand at the cistern in front of the old barn
in the darkness, in the dead of winter,
the night strangely warm, the wind blowing,
rattling an unlatched door.
I draw the cold water up out of the ground, and drink.
At the house the light is still waiting.
An old man I've loved all my life is dying
in his bed there. He is going
slowly down from himself.
In final obedience to his life, he follows
his body out of our knowing.
Only his hands, quiet on the sheet, keep
a painful resemblance to what they no longer are.
He goes free of the earth.
The sun of his last day sets
clear in the sweetness of his liberty.
The earth recovers from his dying,
the hallow of his life remaining
in all his death leaves.
Radiances know him. Grown lighter
than breath, he is set free
in our remembering. Grown brighter
than vision, he goes dark
into the life of the hill
that holds his peace.
He's hidden among all that is,
and cannot be lost.
We Who Prayed and Wept
We who prayed and wept
for liberty from kings
and the yoke of liberty
accept the tyranny of things
we do not need.
In plenitude too free,
we have become adept
beneath the yoke of greed.
Those who will not learn
in plenty to keep their place
must learn it by their need
when they have had their way
and the fields spurn their seed.
We have failed Thy grace.
Lord, I flinch and pray,
send Thy necessity.
--All poems taken from Collected Poems of Wendell Berry (1957-1982)
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Mark Galli, senior managing editor at Christianity Today, answers these questions in a helpful article that can be read here.
Here are a few excerpts:
I've heard the quote once too often. It's time to set the record straight—about the quote, and about the gospel.
Francis of Assisi is said to have said, "Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words."
This saying is carted out whenever someone wants to suggest that Christians talk about the gospel too much, and live the gospel too little. Fair enough—that can be a problem. Much of the rhetorical power of the quotation comes from the assumption that Francis not only said it but lived it.
The problem is that he did not say it. Nor did he live it. And those two contra-facts tell us something about the spirit of our age....
"Preach the gospel; use words if necessary" goes hand in hand with a postmodern assumption that words are finally empty of meaning. It subtly denigrates the high value that the prophets and Jesus and Paul put on preaching. Of course we want our actions to match our words as much as possible. But the gospel is a message, news about an event and a person upon which the history of the planet turns....
That being said, a better saying (which you can attribute to anyone you like) is this: Preach the gospel—use actions when necessary; use words always.
A dynamic collection of classic sermons from the Prince of Preachers! Written in 1854 just five years after his conversion, these memorable messages reflect Spurgeon's considerable gifts: word pictures, pointed applications, concern for people, and a heart for God. Preachers will value these early messages as excellent models, and laypeople will enjoy them as devotional reading.
He made a comment the other day that I cannot get out of my head. He had been listening to a certain preacher, and he was extremely fascinated by the way this preacher unpacked the text he was preaching. He was trying to find the words to describe it to me when he finally said, "He's...he's a surgeon in the pulpit. He dissects the passage and lays it all out there for people to see, but before he's done he puts everything back together again!"
I'm not sure he could have paid a higher compliment to that preacher. Is that not what true, expository preaching is - dissecting a passage of Scripture, laying it bare before God's people so that they see it in all its parts, and then sewing it back up in a healthy, whole, and unified way?
May the Lord give us more surgeons in the pulpit!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Read Moore's resolution here.
And read his new book, Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches.
The God I trust is true and just;
His mercy has no end;
Himself has said my ransom's paid,
And on him I depend.
Then why so sad, my soul? Though bad,
Thou hast a Friend that's good;
He bought thee dear (abandon fear);
He bought thee with his blood.
So rich a cost can ne'er be lost,
Though faith be tried by fire;
Keep Christ in view; let God be true;
And every man a liar.
But instead of turning introspective or beginning to feel sorry for himself (as many of us would do in a similar situation), his thoughts turn immediately towards the people he has been leading - the same people who have constantly murmured against him and complained about him. And yet, he still has their best intentions at heart. He longs for them to be taken care of and given provision and leadership. Numbers 27:15-17 says, "Moses spoke to the LORD, saying, 'Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.'" He did not want God's people to be left without a leader, without a shepherd, without a pastor! And of course, the LORD provided in the person of Joshua.
May God give to his Church pastors with a heart like that of Moses.
Monday, May 18, 2009
And check out Christianity Today's interview with Godfrey about Calvin and the book, which can be found here.
The publisher's description reads as follows:
Loving, teaching, and rightly dividing the Word of God is every pastor’s privilege and responsibility. If a pastor understands what the Word says about God, man, and the curse, about Christ and his substitutionary atonement, and about the call to repentance and sacrifice, he will develop and preach a sound theology. And sound theology is, in the words of J. Ligon Duncan, essential to faithful pastoral ministry.
Proclaiming a theology that is centered on Christ’s atonement is especially critical, for by this atonement, Christians have been brought from death to life, and by it a church lives or dies. In this penetrating sequel to Preaching the Cross, John Piper, R. C. Sproul, John MacArthur, and Thabiti Anyabwile join authors Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, C. J. Mahaney, and Albert Mohler in exploring the church’s need for faithful proclamation and calling pastors and churches to cross-centered, scripturally saturated thinking.
And in case you were wondering, registration has already opened for Together for the Gospel 2010.
A simple external manifestation of the Word ought to be amply sufficient to produce faith, did not our own blindness and perverseness prevent it. But such is the proneness of our mind to vanity, that it can never adhere to the truth of God, and such its dullness, that it is always blind even in his light. Hence without the illumination of the Spirit the Word has no effect; and hence also it is obvious that faith is something higher than human understanding.
The Word is, in regard to those to whom it is preached, like the sun which shines upon all, but is of no use to the blind. In this matter we are all naturally blind; and hence the Word cannot penetrate our mind unless the Spirit, that internal teacher, by his enlightening power make an entrance for it.
--John Calvin, Institutes (3.2.33-34)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
O, what I owe to the file, to the hammer, to the furnace of my Lord Jesus!
Every day we may see some new thing in Christ. His love hath neither brim nor bottom.
Whether God come to his children with a rod or a crown, if he come himself with it, it is well.
There are many heads lying in Christ's bosom, but there is room for yours among the rest.
-- All quotes taken from The Loveliness of Christ: Extracts from the Letters of Samuel Rutherford
If you are unfamiliar with Samuel Rutherford, you can read more about him here and here. Reading his letters is good for the soul!
Friday, May 15, 2009
Jesus Christ, Our Priestly Savior
M. Justin Wainscott, © 2009
Jesus Christ, our priestly Savior,
Melchizedek's true line;
Though on us God looks with favor,
The work was wholly Thine.
The debt of sin required a price
Your blood has fully paid;
In your great priestly sacrifice,
Atonement has been made.
With voices strong we sing these notes,
Of mercy's cleansing flood;
No more the need for bulls and goats,
Sufficient is your blood!
Your sacrifice was once for all,
Yet lasts forevermore;
Our risen Lamb reversed the fall,
And opened heaven's door.
And now for us you intercede,
Our great high priest on high;
For ransomed sinners you do plead,
And offer up your cry.
With full assurance we can trust
Your ev'ry plea is heard;
The Father shall, indeed, he must
Accept your ev'ry word.
So give us confidence to know,
Our hope's secure in Thee;
And let your priestly blessings flow,
Through all eternity.
He spoke on this subject at the Spring Theology Conference of the Reformation Society of Oregon, and they have graciously made the MP3s of his lectures available. Click here to download them.
For more details, click here.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Here is one such example. Ray Van Neste discusses James Grant's recent address at Union University on "How I Introduced Psalm Singing to My Church...Without Getting Fired!" He also includes a link to the audio of Grant's address.
John Newton, 1841
My God, how perfect are Thy ways,
But mine polluted are;
Sin twines itself about my praise,
And slides into my prayer.
When I would speak what Thou hast done
To save me from my sin,
I cannot make Thy mercies known,
But self-applause creeps in.
Divine desire, that holy flame
Thy grace creates in me,
Alas, impatience is its name,
When it returns to Thee.
This heart a fountain of vile thoughts,
How does it overflow!
While self upon the surface floats,
Still bubbling from below.
Let others in the gaudy dress,
Of fancied merit shine,
The Lord shall be my righteousness,
The Lord forever mine.
Ralph Erskine, 1863
All nature spreads, with open blaze,
Her Maker's name abroad;
And every work of His displays
The power and skill of God.
But in the grace that rescued man,
His brightest glory shines;
Here on the cross 'tis fairest drawn,
In precious bloody lines.
Here His whole name appears complete;
And who can guess or prove,
Which of the letters best are writ,
The wisdom, power, or love?
Justice and mercy, truth and grace,
In all their sweetest charms,
Here met, and joined their kind embrace,
With everlasting arms.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. --Psalm 43:5 (ESV)
Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come...
--Psalm 71:3a (ESV)
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
In this second volume of essays from the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, several noted preachers join editor Richard Phillips in exploring the doctrine of Christ’s atonement and its history in Christian thought.
At the very heart of Christian faith is the blood of Jesus. His sin-atoning death is the divine work on which the entire structure of salvation rests and the truth on which the Christian doctrine of salvation must be built. Yet recent years have seen a pastoral neglect of the cross and a doctrinal assault from the academy.
With these concerns in mind, R. C. Sproul, Philip Ryken, Joel Beeke, Derek Thomas, Carl Trueman, and Robert Godfrey have joined editor Richard Phillips in exploring the doctrine of Christ’s atonement. These noted pastors proclaim the (1) necessary, (2) redeeming, (3) cleansing, (4) atoning, (5) offensive, and (6) precious blood of our Savior in a series of essays that set the cross in its rightful place—at the forefront of salvation.
You can purchase it here.
Monday, May 11, 2009
M. Justin Wainscott © 2009
By faith I look to Christ my Lord,
Who paid the debt I'd ne'er afford;
I look beyond myself to see,
The One whose blood shall plead for me.
By faith I daily fly to Thee,
The spotless Lamb of Calvary;
Who took my sins and bore them all,
Redeeming me from Adam's fall.
By faith I trust in God's own Son,
And humbly plead what He has done;
I run to Christ my Savior's side,
Believing 'twas for me He died.
By faith I rest assured and free,
The risen Lord now speaks for me;
What charge to me can e'er be laid,
Since Jesus has atonement made?
By faith I'll enter heaven's joy,
Receiving sight to there employ;
And when I see Him face to face,
I'll truly know His saving grace!
Take away the Word, therefore, and no faith will remain.
...[W]hether God uses the agency of man, or works immediately by his own power, it is always by his Word that he manifests himself to those he designs to draw to himself.
So long as your mind entertains any misgivings as to the certainity of the Word, its authority will be weak and dubious, or rather it will have no authority at all. Nor is it sufficient to believe that God is true, and cannot lie or deceive, unless you feel firmly persuaded that every word which proceeds from him is sacred, inviolable truth.
--John Calvin, Institutes (3.2.6)
This would make a great gift for a seminary graduate!
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Reading the last few weeks in the church fathers and reformers, I was struck by what we would call their rudeness. It is hard to go far in their writings without finding them bluntly identifying their opponents as heretics, perverts, madmen, liars, and tools of the devil.
Identifying heresy and falsehood and those who teach it is a duty which, if shirked, will subject the souls under one's influence to the tender mercy of the wolves and one's own soul to the judgment reserved for the shepherd who did not protect his flock. How many pastors and teachers I have known who have been called upon to decide whether to break with their peers by speaking the truth about doctrine or conduct, or with God, and how many appear to break with God.
One must be very sure the accusation is right. This means work: education to competence on what one is talking about.
--S. M. Hutchens
You can read the entire editorial here.
And by the way, if you don't currently subscribe to or read Touchstone, you are depriving yourself of one of the best publications in print.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
We have to stop thinking in terms of "our Judeo-Christian culture" and acknowledge the value of political pluralism and toleration. And then we can talk about the unique, non-negotiable, and true claims of the gospel. In other words, we must be culturally tolerant of other religions (including secularism), but theologically and spiritually intolerant of assimilating Christian faith and practice to the idols of our age.
--Michael Horton, "Final Thoughts"
Plenary Sessions with Carson
- Plenary 3: D.A. Carson - How The Book of Hebrews Makes Use of Old Testament Passages - Genesis 14 and Psalm 110 in Hebrews 7
- Plenary 2: D.A. Carson - How The Book of Hebrews Makes Use of Old Testament Passages - Psalm 95 in Hebrews 3-4
- Plenary 1: D.A. Carson - How The Book of Hebrews Makes Use of Old Testament Passages - Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14 in Hebrews 1
- Breakout Session - Greg Spears - Paul's Worldview Apologetic in Acts 17
- Breakout Session - Richard Wells - Using the Psalms in Pastoral Prayer
- Breakout Session - Brad Green - Salvation and Works in the Old and New Testaments
- Breakout Session: George Guthrie - How to Do Biblical Word Studies
- Breakout Session - James Patterson - Church History and the Interpretation of Scripture
- Breakout Session: David Olford - Preaching an Old Covenant Text as a New Covenant Preacher
- Breakout Session - Terry Wilder - Paul's Use of the OT in Romans 15:1-13
- Breakout Session - Taylor Worley - Seeing the Psalms in the New Testament
- Breakout Session - Ray Clendenen - Theological Themes in the book of Malachi
- Breakout Session 3 - David and Sally Michael - Aiming for Application and Response in Teaching Children the Bible
- Breakout Session 2 - David and Sally Michael - Raising Bible-Saturated Children
- Breakout Session 1 - David and Sally Michael - God-Centered Bible Teaching for the Glory of God
- Breakout Session - Paul Jackson - Psalm 22 in the Words of Jesus
- Breakout Session - Ken Easley - From Promises to Reality: How Christianity Fulfills the Ancient Plan God Promised
- Breakout Session - Justin Barnard - Eschatology and Ethics: Envisioning the Christian Life Without a Bracelet
- Breakout Session - Gary Smith - The OT and NT Identification of the "Servant" in Isa 42:1-13
Friday, May 8, 2009
How Slow and Dull of Heart Are We
M. Justin Wainscott, © 2009
How slow and dull of heart are we,
Held fast by sin’s dread sway;
That we would gaze on Calv’ry’s tree,
And want to look away.
But oh! how beautiful the sight
Of sin in gross defeat;
Of darkness bowing to the Light,
And victory complete!
How feebly do our souls believe
The gospel’s saving grace;
That Christ would all God’s wrath receive,
And suffer in our place.
But oh! how wonderful the thought
Of pardon full and free;
Of knowing that by Christ we’re bought,
And His we’ll ever be!
How little do our minds perceive,
The depths of what it cost
For Christ our Savior to relieve
Our burden on the cross.
But oh! how glorious the plan
That saved our wretched race;
Conceived before the world began,
Secured by sov’reign grace!
How weakly do our praises ring,
Cause we’ve not understood
That efficacious mercy springs
From Christ’s atoning blood.
But oh! the day when we shall know,
In full and not in part;
The saving pow’r his blood bestows
On ev’ry ransomed heart!