Friday, October 29, 2010

A Reformation Hymn

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Martin Luther, 1483-1546

A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our Helper, He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name;
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure;
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours,
Through Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still;
His kingdom is forever.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Luther Before the Diet of Worms

As much as October 31 and Luther's tacking of the 95 Theses are celebrated as the beginning of the Reformation, in many ways, this was actually the moment that Protestant Christianity was born.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What the Reformation Was Really About

I posted this quote several months ago, but with Reformation Day quickly approaching I thought it would be appropriate to post it again:
The closer one looks, the clearer it becomes: the Reformation was not, principally, a negative movement, about moving away from Rome; it was a positive movement, about moving towards the gospel.
--Michael Reeves, The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An Inside Job

"[M]any Christians seem completely unaware - if not unwilling to see - that serious dangers threaten the church from within. Yet if church history teaches us anything, it teaches us that the most devastating assaults on the faith have always begun as subtle errors arising from inside the body itself."

--John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Profound Theological Blunder

The following was said by Martyn Lloyd-Jones in 1972. In 2010, this profound theological blunder has become the preferred method of much of American evangelicalism.
Our Lord attracted sinners because He was different. They drew near to Him because they felt that there was something different about Him....And the world always expects us to be different. This idea that you are going to win people to the Christian faith by showing them that after all you are remarkably like them, is theologically and psychologically a profound blunder.
--Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Throne of Grace

Behold the Throne of Grace
John Newton, 1725-1807

Behold the throne of grace!
The promise calls me near;
There Jesus shows his smiling face;
And waits to answer prayer.

That rich atoning blood
Which, sprinkled round, I see,
Provides for those who come to God
An all-prevailing plea.

My soul, ask what thou wilt,
Thou canst not be too bold;
Since his own blood for thee he spilt,
What else can he withhold?

Beyond thy utmost wants
His love and pow'r can bless.
To praying souls he always grants
More than they can express.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Give and Take

Sabbaths, 1998, VI.

Nothing is given
That is not taken,
And nothing taken
That was not first a gift.

--Wendell Berry, Given: Poems

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fearing Our Sinful Selves

"The well-instructed believer is very much afraid of himself. He dares not go into temptation, for he feels that a man who carries a bomb within him ought to mind that he keeps away from the sparks - and that he who has a powder keg in his heart ought not to play with fire."

--Charles Spurgeon

Monday, October 18, 2010

Our Ongoing Need for the Gospel

What a blessing to have one of our church members encourage me with this quote after yesterday's sermon:
"The gospel cannot soak deeply into us unless it is addressing our ongoing need for it."

--Neil H. Williams, Gospel Transformation
HT: Of First Importance

Friday, October 15, 2010

Make Thy Word Take Root

Guardian of Thy Helpless Sheep
Joseph Hart, 1712-1768

Guardian of Thy helpless sheep,
Jesus, almighty Lord,
Help our heedful hearts to keep
The treasure of Thy Word.

Let not Satan steal what's sown;
Bid it bring forth precious fruit;
Thou can soften hearts of stone,
And make Thy Word take root.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

No Greater Mystery

"At the cross the creation itself took hold of the Creator; the creation entombed the Creator. At the cross the loftiest heights came down to the deepest depths; at the cross the hands of men pierced the hands that made humankind. There could be no greater mystery."

--Mark Noll

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Young Pastors and Old Saints

I am so thankful that I have the privilege of pastoring an inter-generational congregation, because it affords me such a variety of situations in which I can see God's grace at work. But as a young pastor in particular, I am grateful for the older saints in our church. And here are just ten reasons why:
  1. They teach me what faithfulness in marriage looks like.
  2. They teach me what godly wisdom sounds like.
  3. They teach me that perseverance and endurance are worth the costs.
  4. They teach me the intersection of divine grace and personal history.
  5. They teach me why family really matters.
  6. They teach me all the complex joys of simplicity.
  7. They teach me to value the dying art of conversation.
  8. They teach me church history and practical theology of a different sort than I could ever learn in a textbook.
  9. They teach me that a decade is a short amount of time.
  10. They teach me how to face suffering and death with hope.
If you're a young pastor, go spend time with some of your older saints. You'll be amazed at the lessons you'll learn. If you're an aspiring young pastor, I encourage you to consider churches that are inter-generational and will afford you opportunities to sit with dying saints. And if you're an older saint, then take the opportunity to teach the generations behind you the lessons you've learned during your lifetime.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Pit That Is Bottomless

"None of you have ever seen fully the plague of your own heart. There are chambers in your heart you have never yet seen into - there are caves in that ocean you have never fathomed - there are fountains of bitterness you have never tasted. When you have felt the wickedness of your heart to the uttermost, then lie down under this awful truth, that you have only seen a few yards into a pit that is bottomless - that you carry about with you a slumbering volcano - a heart whose wickedness you do not and cannot know."

--Robert Murray M'Cheyne

Monday, October 11, 2010

WHI Interview with Graeme Goldsworthy

One of the most helpful books I have ever read, in terms of making sense of the unity and Christo-centricity of the Scriptures, is Graeme Goldsworthy's According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible. Since then, I have read many of Goldsworthy's books (and found them all extremely beneficial). I would highly recommend According to Plan (for anyone wanting to gain a better understanding of the basic plot-line of the Bible) and The Goldsworthy Trilogy (especially for pastors or Sunday School teachers).

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to listen to a recent White Horse Inn interview with Dr. Goldsworthy, which I would also recommend to you.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fly to the Hope the Gospel Gives

What Curses Does the Law Denounce
Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

What curses does the law denounce
Against the man who fails but once!
But in the gospel Christ appears,
Pardoning the guilt of numerous years.

My soul, no more attempt to draw
Thy life and comfort from the law;
Fly to the hope the gospel gives;
The man that trusts the promise lives.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thinking Rightly of Ourselves

"It is a common mistake among the children of men to think themselves, their own hearts at least, a great deal better than they really are."

--Matthew Henry

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Waiting Is Not Passive

"Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" (Psalm 27:14)

Waiting on the Lord requires strength and courage. It's not a passive activity.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mohler - "On Getting Boys to Read"

Al Mohler offers further reflections on Thomas Spence's article, "How To Raise Boys Who Read," in The Wall Street Journal. Here's a brief excerpt:
The most direct enemies of reading in the lives of today’s boys are video games and digital media. These devices crowd out time and attention at the expense of reading. Spence cites one set of parents who tried to bribe their 13-year-old son to read by offering video games as a reward. Spence is exactly right — don’t reward with video games. Instead, take the games away. If parents do not restrict time spent with digital devices, boys will never learn to read and to love reading.
Read the entire thing here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rend Every Veil That Shades Thy Face

Chained to the World, To Sin Tied Down
Augustus Toplady, 1740-1778

Chained to the world, to sin tied down,
In darkness still I lie;
Lord, break my bonds, Lord, give me wings,
And teach me how to fly.

Instruct my feeble hands to war,
In me Thy strength reveal,
To put my every lust to death,
And fight Thy battles well.

Rend every veil that shades Thy face,
Put on Thine helmet, Lord;
My sin shall fall, my guilt expire,
Beneath Thy conquering sword.

Thou art the mighty God of hosts,
Whose counsels never fail;
Be Thou my glorious Chief, and then
I cannot but prevail.