Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Compelled to Share

Dr. Tim Beougher, dean of the SBTS school of evangelism and missions, preached an challenging message in chapel today from 1 Cor. 9:16-23. No, this wasn't a message on contextualization, which was very refreshing! I have so often heard this text used (and misused) in this way that I'd missed what it is actually about: Paul's passion for seeing others won to faith in Christ and his determination to not live for his own rights but to live for the sake of the Gospel!

Pastor Jim preached another convicting sermon this past Lord's Day on obeying God rather than men (Acts 5:27-29). You can listen to it here. Most convicting to me was the truth that the issue for most of us is not obeying God over against the voice of ungodly national leaders but obeying God over against our own sinful flesh!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gospel Clarity and the Call to Suffer

Denny Burk, dean of Boyce College, preached
an excellent chapel message on Matthew 16:13-20!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Year of Living Dangerously

You can listen to the entire message here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Designer children???

Al Mohler spoke on his radio program about a frightening article in the Wall Street Journal on "designer babies." Scary stuff! It shows how much our culture has sold its own soul to the gods of individualism, consumerism, greed, and self-satisfaction.

In stark contrast to the mindset of our culture stands God's Word and His reasons for rearing children. Have they even considered what God seeks? Last evening, Pastor Jim preached an excellent sermon on Malachi 2:13-15. May the church show this generation, and many generations to come, what it means to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and seek for God to give them that which genetics and medicine never can: a new heart and a new life in Christ!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ten questions to ask

Dr. Don Whitney has written an excellent article entitled "Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year or On Your Birthday." And I happened to run across it...several days before my birthday! Besides, I have an oversight meeting coming up, and I trust this will aid in preparing my thoughts for that!

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

Well, there are many things, but the one that sticks out in my mind is prayer. And prayer not only to start and end the day but prayer throughout the day, just as Nehemiah shot up "arrow prayers" as the walls were rebuilt. In my own experience, I have the most enjoyment of God and assurance of His provision when I am living as if God really hears me and really is the one who is establishing the work of my hands.

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

More than ever, I see that "humanly impossible" covers a lot of territory, so it's a little hard to narrow down! Actually, I don't need to narrow it down... The most humanly impossible thing I will ask God to do is to grant me the grace to mortify my sin and to conform me into the image of Christ. After all, what do I have that I have not received? Yes, I am responsible to use the means of grace that God has provided, but without God's Spirit nothing will come of it. And the question comes "Do I REALLY believe this?"...

3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

The number one best thing I can do is pray for the salvation of unsaved family members! I can also look for opportunities to serve them and show my concern and love for them. While I certainly want to speak of Christ as God gives me opportunity, I also know that they've heard numerous times and that there is a theology of wiping the dust off one's feet. I need wisdom to know the whereabouts of that fine line!

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

I want to make progress in the memorization of Scripture. I have made flash cards to put in my purse so I can take them out while on the bus or waiting in a long line. It is a great way to redeem the time! I have gotten out of doing it recently, so I should get back in to it again! It is amazing how God has used the very passage I am memorizing for either my own or someone else's encouragement or admonishment!

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

Hmmm...well, I could say the Internet, and that is what I would have said several years ago. God has mercifully helped me to overcome much of that! But the main thing that sticks out to me, due to some lessons the Lord has taught me lately, is the time-waster of worrying! It's amazing I still have to learn that lesson! Jesus really did mean it when He said none of us could add an inch to our height by worrying. The Lord has made my mind so that I am always thinking through things, which can be a real blessing, but a common temptation I have is to try and figure out all the ways a situation could turn out in situations where it causes me to worry or to be presumptuous. I know that God lavished grace upon me as He gave me great peace during the lay-offs at work. I pray that will more and more be the experience of my life!

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

I don't know about "new" but I do know that I should continue in the ways begun! Because I am single, I have more time to devote to the Kingdom of God, and a major ministry God has given me is praying for my church. I make it my practice to pray through the church directory in prayer at least once a week. I make a special effort to pray for the young people in my church, as they are the Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville of tomorrow. I was especially moved by a sermon Pastor Jim preached recently on Acts 4:36-5:2. I want to more and more be like Barnabas and encourage and think the best of my brethren. I have some ideas on how I can practically encourage them, but I won't post it because I want it to be a surprise.

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

My sister Julie's! That didn't take even a nanosecond to think about! I have had her as a burden upon my heart recently. I think it's particularly because of her upcoming marriage in 2010. I actually have had dreams about her conversion, which shows how much I have been thinking about and praying for her! So she is the one God has laid upon my heart in a special way at the moment.

8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?

Honestly, if I grew spiritually this year as much as I did last year, then I would be very, very pleased! Of course, I don't want to fall into a rut, and that's always the danger, so I will again continue in the path begun and pray that I will grow more and more in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I endeavor to do this by remembering the lessons I learned last year...focus on the Gospel, pray each day to be filled with the Spirit, work and live each day before the face of God, meditate on Scripture and ponder its application, consider the deceitfulness of my own heart but even more than that consider the grace and mercy that has been lavished upon me in Christ. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results...I do the same thing over and over and expect better and more results!

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

I can be more specific in my prayers for other people. To do this, I will ask others how I can pray for them, even when I don't know of some struggle they are facing or some event that is about to happen in their lives. It's good and right to pray, for example, that a friend will be given the grace to resist temptation, but it is even better to be able to pray that my friend would be able to resist the sin of covetousness if that is something they are struggling with at the moment. I haven't done a study on this, but it seems to me that the vast majority of prayers in Scripture are dealing with particulars rather than generalities. Besides, asking someone "How can I best pray for you?" is a great encouragement to others!

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

This is a hard question because we often don't know the impact that certain events and decisions in our lives have upon ourselves and others. Eternity is the most important question to ask, and I would say that spreading the Gospel and praying for souls is very important. It may be the thing that matters in 10 years as well, since we don't know how much longer we will have to spread the Gospel as freely as we do now! Personally, I know that seeking the Kingdom and God's righteousness is most important in my daily life, and I know that will deeply impact my life here and in eternity! As for Christians corporately, I think we would do well to become more Gospel-focused and Scripture-focused. We need to pray for revival in our churches so we don't lose Christ as our First Love. The world has so much to entice us to take our eyes off Christ and Heaven! Related to this, we need to be good stewards of our possessions and use them for the Kingdom and not use them selfishly or frivolously.

A Race Run Well

I recently blogged a sermon by Dan Cummings, a pastor who battled for a year with cancer. I just learned last night that he has gone to receive his reward (or, more appropriately, as one Puritan put it, gone to receive mercy!) As it is with any Christian, it is a time of both grief and rejoicing. Grief that someone who we love dearly is separated from us (for a time) but joy that he is in the arms of our merciful, loving Lord Jesus! Please join me in praying for the Cummings family and for the people of Five Points Community Church. May Christ draw near to them and comfort them, reminding them of the same trust their dear pastor had in the goodness and sovereignty of God in all things. Tomorrow will be hard for them, no doubt, but God will be the faithful shepherd of His flock and give them comfort and raise up another man to lead them on their pilgrimage home!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Some thoughts on the Ice Storm of '09

Well, God did teach me some things during this past ice storm, though not as dramatically as at other times! Although, far be it from me to assume that I know even the tip of the iceberg, if you will, of all that God intended! He certainly taught me about serving others and thankfulness! And I read Robert L. Peterson's (no relation that I know of) book Robert Chapman: Apostle of Love. I can tell why Spurgeon called him the "saintliest man" he had ever known! Also, there was a sin issue that God dealt with in my life (suffice it to say it had to do with presumption and pride). I had more time to pray and think through it, and for whatever reason God had not answered my prayers about it until this past week. Appropriately enough (as it always is), Pastor James preached this past Lord's Day on our conflict with sin (Romans 7:14-25).

Brian Owens, a student at SBTS, wrote an excellent blog entry that echoes many of my own thoughts:

These are some thoughts I had from Job 37 regarding the events of this past week.

Did you hear God speak this week? You should have. Elihu says in Job 37:2 “Listen closely to the thunder of His voice, And the rumbling that goes out from His mouth.” God showed us much this week when He sent the winter storm. Yes, God sent the winter storm. We need to recognize the fact weather doesn’t “just happen.” If you believe God created everything but stepped back and lets things just happen you are holding to an agnostic point of view which is not compatible with biblical Christianity. God is in control of everything, including the weather.

You may not like it or even agree with it, but that doesn’t change the truth of God’s Word and Scripture plainly teaches that God is sovereign over all things. Charles Spurgeon rightly said that “No doctrine in the whole Word of God has excited the hatred of mankind more than the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God.” We can’t stand the thought of God taking our hands off the situation!

Since we have established that God is sovereign over it all, think about this – any time we complain about it being too cold, or too hot, or too much rain, or not enough rain - when we complain about the snow and ice what we are in effect saying is that “God, you don’t know what you are doing!” Now, how blasphemous is that? Now let me be clear, I don’t shout for joy when snow and ice move in, but I can honestly say when I see that the temperature drops to single digits or when there is an inch of ice on the ground, “Thy will be done.”

That’s how the Christian is to respond. Job 37:3 says “Under the whole heaven He [God] lets it loose, and His lightning to the ends of the earth.” Don’t you think if He does it He has good reason for it? God does nothing on a whim, it is all for His purpose and His glory.

Job37:7 says “He seals the hand of every man, That all men may know His work.” That word translated “seals” literally means “ties up.” Our hands have been tied this past week! Why is that? So we will know His work. God does everything with the purpose of making His glory known. Matthew Henry once said “When we are, upon any account, disabled from following our worldly business, and taken off from it, we should spend our time rather in the exercises of piety and devotion (in acquainting ourselves with the works of God and praising him in them) than in foolish idle sports and recreations. When our hands are sealed up our hearts should be thus opened, and the less we have at any time to do in the world the more we should thereby be driven to our Bibles and our knees.”

How often did you read your bible this past week? Did you pray that much more? We should have. That is part of the reason that God sent the storm. Sometimes we just need to be slowed down so we can hear Him (Psalm 46:10).

Job 37:10 says that "From the breath of God ice is made, and the expanse of the waters is frozen.” Now, we get an education on meteorology 101 every evening on the news (honestly, I wish they would just tell me the forecast and be done with it!). We know what causes the rain and the snow and so on. Basically, Elihu is saying “Hey, the ice comes from God. He speaks and it happens.”

What is so humbling for me is Job 37:13 which says “Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen.” These are other reasons God sends weather such as we had this past week. John Gill writes that God does this “for the reproof and chastisement of men for their sins, by suffering such quantities to fall as wash away, or corrupt and destroy, the fruits of the earth: or "for a tribe" as the word sometimes signifies; the rain is sent, and comes only to a particular part or spot of ground, to one city and not to another…” Amos 4:7 says “Furthermore, I withheld the rain from you While there were still three months until harvest. Then I would send rain on one city And on another city I would not send rain; One part would be rained on, While the part not rained on would dry up.” And Jesus Himself tells us in Matt 4:45 that “He [God] causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” If God is chastising us we better listen up!

So Elihu says that God speaks in the weather. So what else did he say this week? Aside from reminding us that He is in control, I think God said:

(1) We need to be taught patience. Our hands were tied! It goes without saying that we stay too busy and go so fast so often we miss God.

(2) We need to be reminded of our total dependence upon God. Remember where our resources come from – not KU, not Bluegrass Energy, but from God Almighty.

(3) To be inconvenienced for a day a week or a month should cause us to cry out to God. Did you?

(4) We rely too much on worldly pleasures and creature comforts. Electricity isn’t a bad thing, but we often forget God has the right to circumvent our technology.

(5) When we complain about the weather, we are in effect telling God that He doesn’t know what He is doing.

(6) Times like this bring out Christ-likeness in many people. Who did you check on that you normally wouldn’t have? The common grace of God abounded this week!

(7) Times like this reveal our depraved nature. How much have you complained about the time it takes to get your power turned back on? Did you notice how people try to take advantage of others?

(8) God is sovereign over life and death. For some this storm was a means of God taking them home to be with Him, for others it was a means of exercising His judgment on them for their sins.

(9) Thank God for what you have and don’t take what you have for granted. We don’t appreciate that light in the bathroom till we have to find our way in the dark. We don’t appreciate a working refrigerator till you have to throw out everything in it when it goes bad! To have been blessed with so much, we take so much for granted.

(10) If you spent the week in a shelter, thank God for the new friendships that were made. If you spent time with family thank God for the time you had to be with them!

(11) Remember this, God reserves the right to interrupt our schedules any time He chooses for any reason He chooses. So when He does, thank God for it as you know it is ultimately for our good and for His glory.

(12) We could go on for a while, but let me say one more thing – when the weather is beautiful and the power is on and all is well, remember, that is God’s work too!