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Archive for August, 2013

This is interesting and worth thinking about for those of us who are a bit on the shy and introverted side of the spectrum. don’t just think about it, though, act on it!

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Last Sunday, I preached a sermon called “Counting the Cost” from Luke 9:23 (“If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me”). Being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ has a cost. We have to say no to ourselves and yes to God. G.D. Watson (1845-1924) wrote the following statement which illustrates the cost quite well. Do to time, it didn’t make it into the sermon. Enjoy and be challenged!

If God has called you to be really like Christ in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility and put on you such demands of obedience, that He will not allow you to follow other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.

Others can brag on themselves, and their work, on their success, on their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

The Lord will let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hid away in obscurity because He wants to produce some choice fragrant fruit for His glory, which can be produced only in the shade.

Others will be allowed to succeed in making money, but it is likely God will keep you poor because he wants you to have something far better than gold and that is a helpless dependence on Him; that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by day – out of an unseen treasury.

God will let others be great, but He will keep you small. He will let others do a great work for Him and get credit for it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work you have done, and this will make your reward ten times greater when He comes.

The Holy Spirit will put strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over.

So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign, and has a right to do what He pleases with His own, and He will not explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle you in His dealing with you. He will wrap you up in a jealous love, and let other people say and do many things that you cannot do or say.

Settle it forever, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that others are not dealt with.

Now, when you are so possessed with the Living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this particular personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven.

Hard words, yes. But as Doug Wilson says, hard words make soft hearts.

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on Luke 9:23. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The cost of being a disciple of Jesus is saying no to yourself and yes to God on a daily basis.

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C.J. McCollum, before he was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers, wrote a column for Sports Illustrated describing the process of being interviewed by a number of NBA teams. At the end of his piece, he wrote this:

Last month I landed in Portland to meet with the Trail Blazers. As soon as I got off the plane, some people outside the gate asked for my autograph. My first thought was, Wow, this is cool. My next was, How did they know this was my flight? Then I wondered: The plane was three hours late – how long have these people been waiting?

Getting that kind of attention is a great feeling, but it reminded me how things change once you even get close to the NBA. You’re a public figure, and you won’t be getting paid to just run fast and jump high and score points. You’re representing the team that picks you. I’m ready to get it all started.

As Christians, you and I represent “the team that picked us.” We represent God and His kingdom, and we should strive to do it well. Jesus told His disciples, “but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Paul taught the Philippian church to “do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life” (1:14-16a). Jesus said to His disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). (All emphasis added by me.)

We represent the Triune God and His kingdom to the world. God is watching us, but so are the people around us. I think we forget that sometimes. C.J. McCollum is ready to represent the Trail Blazers (and from everything I’ve heard and read, it looks like he’ll do a good job of it), are we ready to represent the Lord?

We live coram Deo (before the face of God) with others watching.

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Do you want to grow in humility? Pray.

Prayer is an act of humility. When we pray, we more clearly realize who we are in relation to who God is. When that happens, our pride should melt away in the brightness of God’s glory only to be replaced by a deep sense of humility.

In prayer, we recognize and confess that God is sovereign and we’re not. If we don’t acknowledge the sovereignty of God, why would we pray?

When we pray, we recognize that we’re dependent upon God, and not He on us.

We recognize that He knows best, and we don’t.

When we pray, our will is molded to His will, not the other way around.

The proud don’t pray – at least they don’t pray with right motives.

Prayer comes from a humble heart and helps create one, too.

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Genesis 35 (Jacob returns to Bethel in the Promised Land). Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: If we want to get out of a spiritual slump, we need to obey God; get rid of our idols; worship God; hear God’s word; and do whatever God puts in front of us to do.

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Good for Keith Getty and Stuart Townend! They refused to change the lyrics of their contemporary hymn “In Christ Alone.”

Here’s the story: According to a report from One News Now, the Committee on Congregational Songs of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are in the process of putting together a new hymnal for the mainline denomination. When looking at which songs to include, they requested that Getty and Townend change one line of their immensely popular hymn. Some of the committee members didn’t like the line that says, “On that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” Why? Because they don’t like the idea that the death of Christ “assuaged God’s anger” over sin. They suggested an alternative lyric – “the love of God was magnified.” If the lyrics were changed, the song could be placed in the hymnal. If not, it would be left out.

“In Christ Alone” will not be included in the new PCUSA hymnal. To their great credit, Getty and Townend refused to change the line. They said they wrote the song to tell “the whole gospel.” Getty and Townend know what the committee members apparently don’t – the death of Jesus as a substitutionary sacrifice satisfied God’s wrath against sin, and it’s a crucial part of the whole gospel. Romans 5:8 says it clearly: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood,  much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), along with the other mainline Protestant denominations, continue to give evidence that they’ve left the faith and have apostatized. When you outright deny, or are seriously uncomfortable with, what is known in theology as the penal substitution of Christ, you no longer have the gospel.

A couple of other thoughts: “In Christ Alone” is my favorite modern hymn, precisely for the reason Getty and Townend say the wrote it – because it tells the whole gospel and includes the concept of God’s wrath, which is frequently left out. This incident shows how important lyrics are in the songs we sing. Songs perform the function of teaching alongside the role of reaching our emotions. Therefore, what we say and sing matters because words mean things.

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