Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Fair Summary

Reading through a biography of Charles Spurgeon, I came across a fabulous quote which was a scribbled letter from Spurgeon to a friend during the very busy and toll-taking period of the 1850's: "Friends firm. Enemies alarmed. Devil angry. Sinners saved. Christ exalted. Self not well."

Spurgeon definitely had his priorities in order, and even though he himself was spent and suffering, it was life and energy given for the right purposes. I like his summary, and pray that my life could be described the same way someday. For now, I must deal with my pride and tendency toward self-preservation.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Captured By Grace by David Jeremiah (Book Review)

Two men...seventeen centuries apart...similar stories. In Captured By Grace Dr. Jeremiah vividly and effectively uses the lives of Paul the Apostle and John Newton to illustrate the unstoppable, life-changing power of grace.

These two men were the kind of hardened, surly characters we love to hate, but the fascinating story lines of their lives show how each one was "hunted down" by God's amazing grace.

Although I've never been a slave trader or church persecutor, I have most definitely been a hardened sinner, now captured by the love of God. For all believers, grace is an astonishing gift. Dr. Jeremiah writes, "Grace is shocking...grace is the delivery of a jewel that nobody ordered, a burst of light in a room where everyone forgot it was dark."

Beyond the converting power of grace, Jeremiah teaches plainly and simply how God's grace is sufficient for the present as well as the future. It encourages, humbles and gives hope.
Captured By Grace is sound doctrine comfortably clothed in encouraging, pastoral exhortation.

I review for BookSneeze

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Opposite of Gospel In The Headlines

I typically check the Drudge Report each morning for a quick glance at the headlines. There's not usually a lot of good news, but today was particularly depressing. I've linked to a handful of world headlines below that were posted on Drudge, and I've provided the links just to substantiate their veracity. I don't recommend actually reading the stories...they're not worth it. Continue past these links, however, to the better news below.

14 Year Old Female Murderer

Saudi Couple Tortures Maid

Teens In Asia Can't Write Because Of Wired World

Woman Arrested While Driving and Watching X-Rated Film

72 Killed at Mexican Border

Hatred For Israel Continues...

"Blessed is the man who fears the LORD...he will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD." Psalm 112:1,7

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'" Revelation 21:4,5

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth." Job 19:25

"For this world in its present form IS PASSING AWAY." 1 Corinthians 7:31 (emphasis added)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mr. Experience

I had a lot of great teachers when I was growing up: Mrs. Purdon in first grade who made sure I felt loved and safe, Ms. Archinal who had enough confidence in me in 6th grade to let me read part of the The Hobbit to the rest of the class when she had to be gone, Mrs. Zunigha in high school who was the toughest, meanest and best algebra teacher this side of the Mississippi. Good teachers not only teach you new things, but help you understand stuff you already knew but hadn't quite plugged in to your everyday existence.

I know it's old, but one of my best teachers has been Mr. Experience. In things both spiritual and relatively earthly, some things we only learn by living through them. I was recently and pleasantly surprised to find out that Charles Spurgeon felt the same way I do:

"There are many passages of Scripture which you will never understand until some trying experience shall interpret them to you. The other evening I was riding home after a heavy day's work; I was wearied and depressed; and swiftly and suddenly as a lightning flash, this text laid hold on me: 'My grace is sufficient for you!' When I got home, I looked it up in the original, and finally it dawned upon me what the text was saying, MY grace is sufficient for THEE. 'Why,' I said to myself, 'I should think it is!' and I burst out laughing. It seemed to make unbelief so absurd. It was as though some little fish, being very thirsty, was troubled about drinking the river dry; and Father River said; 'Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for you!' Or as if a little mouse in the granaries of Egypt, after seven years of plenty, feared lest it should die of famine, and Joseph said, 'Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for you!' Again I imagined a man way up on the mountain saying to himself, 'I fear I shall exhaust all the oxygen in the atmosphere.' But the earth cries, 'Breathe away, O man, and fill your lungs; my atmosphere is sufficient for you!'"

The longer I live, the more I am convinced of the sufficiency of God's grace. I need Him more than ever, and in 5 or 10 years, I'll see that I need Him even more. But Mr. Experience has taught me that my great God and Savior will always be there with armfuls of grace.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fat and (Ultimately) Unhappy

I don't frequent the swimming pool too often, but recently my family visited a nearby public pool and water park. (Before you read further, I must assure you that this post does indeed have important spiritual implications...please continue.)

Honestly, I was astonished at the number of overweight people cooling off at the pool. I don't mean "big-boned" folks or those who are genetically disposed to be endomorphic. There was simply no end to the people at the pool who were grossly, unhealthily obese. Even children and teens. I don't intend to be indelicate (mmm...perhaps I do), but Americans are fat. We don't really need examples to prove this, but the spark that ignited these burning thoughts within me was the crass "stuff-your-face" mentality shown here.

The trip to the pool troubled me not just because these folks are certainly almost guaranteed an early grave, but because it's such a visual picture of an equally dangerous spiritual condition.

Through Jeremiah, God warns against those who have "grown fat and sleek" and "do not defend the rights of the poor." Through Hosea, He declares, almost lamenting, that His well-fed people have forgotten Him. The connotation is that they have mistaken full bellies for well-satisfied souls, when the truth is that they are spiritually starving.

My sons get antsy if supper is an hour overdue . . . but they don't have a clue what it means to be really, truly hungry. Neither do I. The blessing of a continual supply of food that we enjoy in the States easily blinds us to the nearly 1 billion people on earth who do not have enough food to sustain healthy life. The least we can do is remember to be grateful. Beyond that, we can give. And even beyond that, we could stand to eat less for the sake of our own bodies.

For the sake of our souls however, we should be more thankful for what God supplies for our bodies. We should not eat and forget. We should acknowledge and remember and give. That's pure religion.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Three On My Team

The security of any believer involves the whole Trinity. And what is fascinating is that some of the roles each One fills are interchangeable. No one snatches us from the Father's hand (or Christ's), Christ's atonement saves forever, and the Holy Spirit intercedes for us before the Father (as does Christ).

Francis Schaeffer speaks of the Holy Spirit's work in our preservation in The Finished Work of Christ:

"The Holy Spirit would have to fail for you to be lost again...He will not fail in His work of intercession. Some people talk of the 'perseverance of the saints' as though it were some mechanical thing. But ...it is a living, vibrant thing as 'the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.'"

Friday, August 13, 2010

Don't Forget Your Father Loves You

I keep sort of a running journal for each of my five sons, marking down important events, hilarious happenings and fond memories that would be too easily forgotten. Here's the first entry in the journal of son #4, Jonathan, from October of 1999:

"Jonathan, I am so proud and excited to be your daddy. You were born last Thursday evening at 7:22 and I cried when I saw you for the first time. What a wonderful, happy, inexplicable moment: the birth of a child. When we brought you home on the 16th, I held you in my arms as I sat on the floor with Luke climbing onto my lap and Jack and Brayden close by. THAT moment, I can truly say, was one of the happiest, most incredible, proudest and most treasured moments of my life. A man with his four sons - sons he loves with all his heart and then some - all around him. My heart swelled again Sunday the 17th at church when Pastor Kent announced your birth. As he read your name I was so proud. I know that each one of you is a gift of God’s grace to your mother and I. I am the happiest man on earth. I love you boys, I love your mom and I know that God has blessed our home."

As a dad, I think I would do well to spend more time thinking of the parallels between my fatherly affection for my boys and the heavenly Father's affection for His children. Can you imagine a picture similar to this journal entry, only at the new birth of a Christian? Can you imagine the angels rejoicing, other believers gathered around, thrilled at the new arrival! The wonder of new birth should not be lost on us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Intelligent Life on Pluto

I absolutely love Brian Regan, and since laughter is healthy, and healthy laughter is even better...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ear (S)infection

Yep. Lame title. Oh well.

Check out Isaiah 30:9-11 . . . "[T]hese people are stubborn rebels who refuse to pay attention to the Lord's instructions. They tell the seers, 'Stop seeing visions!' They tell the prophets, 'Don't tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. Forget all this gloom. Get off your narrow path. Stop telling us about your Holy One of Israel.'"

We've all got those itching ears, haven't we? Before we are born again, whether it's the prophet, the preacher or the doctor speaking to us, we want to hear: There's no hell, you're just fine, it's your parents fault, there are many paths to God.

Even after the new birth, our tendency is to want to hear only good things about ourselves, that we have jumped the curb and don't need to change as much as everyone else. The problem is, without the truth there can be no reality and no course correction. Proverbs 24:26 says that "an honest answer is like a kiss on the lips." So the truth is good, very good in fact. I can only speak for myself, but I know that I need to change in many ways. Therefore, I'll take the kiss of truth and not the words that only tickle my ears.