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Well-Driven Nails

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“The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.” (Ecclesiastes 12:11)

Tony Reinke is tired of apologizing for God. In an interview with Drew Dyck, he says God isn’t a kitten; He’s a tiger and we dare not be bored with Him. We can easily be bored with a “god” we can control and who is safe. You can read it here.

“The essence of theology is grace; the essence of Christian ethics is gratitude,” according to R.C. Sproul. His article in Tabletalk explains how appreciation for God’s grace inevitable leads to gratitude, love, and service. It’s a good, short read.

I absolutely love this story! In “An Open Letter to the Preacher Writing a Sermon,” Lewis Allen makes this simple point: grace is very often slow. Then he illustrates it through a man named Neil.

Jordan Standridge gives ten lessons we can learn from the life of John Chau, the young missionary who was recently killed as he attempted to make contact with a remote tribe in India. You can read it here.

The Bible doesn’t pay much attention to our feelings. Michael Kelley explains why here. We shouldn’t ignore our feelings, but we can never act upon them or judge truth by them.

 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m thankful for Karen, my wonderful wife of 32 years; good family and extended family; a good and healthy church; colleagues and students at Cor Deo Christian Academy; great friends; not to mention a million other things – far too long for a blog post. Most of all, I’m thankful for the sovereign and gracious God who chose me before the foundation of the world to be His child, even though He knew full well I didn’t deserve it – in fact, I deserved the opposite. He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to live, die, and rise again in my place (He took my sin upon Himself and gave me His perfect righteousness), and through His Holy Spirit applied all of His blessings and benefits to me. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Short-Circuiting Real Change

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Real change, and real growth in godliness, takes place as we read and respond to God’s Word. Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Paul told the Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God , what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

Scripture is absolutely vital to spiritual growth and change. Therefore, you’d think reading and obeying Scripture would be a regular part of our Christian life, right? Apparently not.

Lifeway conducted a survey regarding the Bible-reading habits (outside of church) of Protestant church-goers in the United States. Here’s what they found:

  • 19% read the Bible every day
  • 26% read the Bible a few times a week
  • 14% read the Bible once a week
  • 22% read the Bible at least once a month
  • 18% rarely or never read the Bible

How can we change, grow, and be conformed into the image of Christ if so little time is spent in God’s Word? We shouldn’t. Maybe it’s the reason we don’t see as much change as we’d like. God uses His Word to transform us, but we have to read it – He won’t do it for us.

One factor in the lack of Bible intake may be social media and television. Another survey came to these conclusions:

  • Adults (19 and above) spend 2 hours per day on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
  • Those under 18 and under spend up to 9 hours per day on social media. (8-to-10 year olds spend 5.5 hours, 11-to-14 spend 8 hours, and 15-to-18 year olds spend 9 hours per day).
  • Adults watch 5 hours of television per day on average.
  • Teenagers and below watch anywhere from 3 to 7 hours of television per day on average.

How are we investing our time? To grow in sanctification, and to really change, redeeming the time (Eph. 5:15) is critical.

(Stuart Scott, author of From Pride to Humility and The Exemplary Husband spoke at church last Sunday and mentioned this in his sermon, which was excellent, by the way.)

Who Could Stand?

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Psalm 130 is one of the songs the people of Israel would sing as they went up to Jerusalem to worship God in the three required festivals. Verses 3 and 4 say, If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You,
that You may be feared.”

When I read these two verses, I see…

God is absolutely holy. The Lord does indeed mark iniquities – He keeps an account of our sins. He is the only One who can both judge and remain standing. Why? He has no iniquities to mark. His holiness is absolute and perfect.

I am sinful. I know my sin and my sinfulness, saying with the apostle Paul that I am the chief of sinners. In the face of His absolute holiness, I know I cannot remain standing – only He can. No one will be able to survive the penetrating gaze of God’s perfect knowledge and judgment.

God forgives. By His sheer mercy and grace, God sovereignly chooses to forgive. He’s under no obligation to do so, but as the psalmist says, “there is forgiveness with You.” The foundation of God’s forgiveness, and what makes it possible, is the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. He stood in our place and was judged for our sins and iniquities on the cross. Through faith in Christ alone, I know that my sins are forgiven.

God is to be feared. I know that the Lord’s forgiveness of my sins – which I do not deserve – should drive me to deeper reverence, greater awe, and a more holy dread of God. This is the holy One who lives in unapproachable light and who is more pure than I will ever comprehend, yet on the basis of Christ’s work on my behalf, forgives all of my iniquity! This is the One who is to be loved and feared!

That’s a beautiful song to sing.

My Anthem, Our Anthem

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In our worship service yesterday, we sang Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty’s song “In Christ Alone.” It’s a song I think is destined to become a classic – the church will be singing it four hundred years from now, in other words. It’s theologically sound and weighty, as well as musically  excellent.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand. 

In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live. 

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ. 

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand. 

Stuart Townend & Keith Getty Copyright © 2001 Thankyou Music (Adm. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family, songs@integritymusic.com) 

It’s my anthem because it reflects my thinking as a Christian. It’s who I am based on what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for me and in me. To Him be all the glory!

It’s our anthem as the church of Jesus Christ for the very same reason. It’s who we are based on what He’s done for us and in us. In Him alone we live and stand. To Him be the glory!

Well-Driven Nails

hammer-and-nail

“The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd” (Ecclesiastes 12:11).

Here are a few recent articles that I’ve enjoyed and have made me think.

“Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 For. 6:19) is a verse taken out of context on a regular basis. Peter Krol, at knowableword.com, provides an excellent example of interpreting a verse within its context. It may mean something different than you think. You can read it here.

Michael Kruger reviews Andy Stanley’s latest book here. Kruger makes the point very clearly that we cannot “unhitch” from the Old Testament and remain faithful to God. In my opinion, we should unhitch from Andy Stanley – he’s on a dangerous trajectory.

According to Karl Vaters, “How do we make more disciples?” is a better question to ask than “How do we make our churches bigger?” If a church focuses on making disciples, rather than getting more people in the pews (or chairs), they’ll do better in the long run. You can read it here.

Biblical elders are vital to the church. Costi Hinn explains why in this article. Good and godly men are are a gift to the church from God.

Does the Reformation still matter? Even though it officially began 501 years ago, the truths of the Reformation are as important as ever. Michael Reeves has a good explanation. It’s a good read, too.

Enjoy!

The Wise God

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“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33)

Wisdom can be defined as “knowing the best goal and the most effective way to achieve that goal” (hat tip to J.I. Packer). God is wise – the embodiment of wisdom. In fact, His wisdom is perfect, holy, and righteous. He knows which goals are best as well as the most effective ways to achieve them. We can absolutely count on that.

I’m convinced that we will fully appreciate the wisdom of God only when we are in His presence. Then, and only then, will we understand what God has done and why He has done it. Thankfully, we will see that everything God has done was wise – He knew the best goals for us and He knew the most effective ways to bring them about. We’ll say, with all praise to God, “Lord, You did what was best for me (even though I didn’t like it at the time and wanted You to take it away), and the way You did it was the most effective possible – it couldn’t have happened any other way! You knew exactly what You were doing, Lord!”

May we pray for wisdom from the God who is wisdom!