Friday, November 30, 2007
I thought that it might be beneficial for you to know which blogs I frequent. One that I visit numerous times a day is Between Two Worlds. It is Justin Taylor's Blog. Some of my readers are probably not familiar with Justin. You should go to his blog and check out some of his stuff. One of his accomplishments, that is a huge benefit to the church, is his update of John Owen's Overcoming Sin and Temptation. A free copy is available in pdf. format here. It is especially beneficial to me because another blog I frequent, www.challies.com is currently doing a Reading the Classics Together. The book we are going through now is Owen's book. We are only on the third chapter; so you could get caught up quickly and join us.
Those, and Piper's Desiring God, are my most frequent visits. I also check out Southern Seminary President Dr. Albert Mohler's blog. Others that I frequent include: Thabiti Anyabwile's Pure Church blog, The Resurgence, The blog that is maintained by Founders, The Shepherd's Scrapbook, and the Pyromaniacs.
I also have a few friends (surprising I know) that are in the blog world. My friend Garrett often blogs at Thoughts on the Way, Josh has his own blog at Everything to Enjoy. A couple of other friends have blogs for their ministries: David at FBC Monroe City and Jonathan at Elm Grove.
So, I spend a little bit of time in the morning reading some of the latest articles that these guys either link to or write themselves. After that I spend time either preparing for sermons, reading one of the books I am currently reading, working on a book I am attempting to write, or making blog posts like this one. Oh, and just so you do not get the wrong idea, I also spend some time checking up on my fantasy football teams and the playoff-bound Cleveland Browns!!
My reason for sharing all of this is to get you to follow some of these links and check them out. They are great resources and every Christian would benefit from signing up for google reader and checking out the blog updates daily. To God be the glory!
As many of you know Nikki and I are having our first child in January. The Lord has blessed us with not only the baby but we have also been able to save up a little, so as to provide for him. As we have had a few expenditure's, our savings and checking both have been dwindling. We found out a couple of weeks ago that a scholarship was not coming through and by today we would have to pay the college $710--wiping out our savings. To add to this, Nikki was almost a felon (she was speeding late for work one morning) her fine is due Monday. I say all of this to say that this morning I was walking over to our secretary to see if I could get an advance on my paycheck because we were a short a few dollars. We were still trusting that God was going to provide, although beginning to get a little scared.
As I began walking to the office our pastor greeted me half way (out in the blistering cold) and gave me a card. I opened it and to my surprise inside the card were 5 Benny Frank's--that's nerd for $500. Wow! Needless to say I did not need to go ask for an advance. This blessing is wonderful and amazing and a great reminder that our Father is very gracious and merciful. Another reminder that he covers over our sin (Nikki's ticket) and lavishes upon us much much more than we deserve. What is even more astonishing is that this is but a glimpse of a glimpse of what awaits us in glory. When the Lord gives us the greatest treasure--Full enjoyment of Himself! I await that day...but until then I'm enjoying His previews before seeing the full feature.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
We listed six different marks of indifference and then gave suggestions on how to battle them.
- When you are questioning God’s love for you focus on His electing love in redemption.
- When you are engaging in half-hearted worship focus on God’s awesome character.
- When you are struggling with infidelity guard yourselves and do not be faithless
- When you are questioning God’s justice focus on His past fulfillments and future promises
- When you are selfishly giving half-hearted devotion focus on the storehouse of God’s pleasures.
- When you lose hope and feel like giving up look to your future redemption or judgment
For all of the details you can find the sermon here: Battling Indifference While We Wait
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Here is the sermon to which I was referring: Joy's Eternal Increase
P.S. I am trying to put a music playlist on the sidebar--If I get that figured out I will post audio sermons on the sidebar as well
- The heart is readily brought over. Burroughs simply means that if you really are content and "freely submitting" then it will not take a cattle prod to get you into contentment. Burroughs says that if we really are content then, "as soon as you come to see that it is the hand of God your heart acts readily and closes and once".
- It is freely, that is, not by constraint. It is not that we "must" be content. We do it with joy. It is also not because of ignorance that we freely submit. If our contentment stems from not knowing any better then it cannot truly be called "free". True freedom comes whenever we "know the condition [we] are in as an afflicted and sad condition, and still [have] a sanctified judgment [to bring our hearts to contentment]."
- It is in opposition to mere stupidity. This appears to be much the same point as number 2. Burroughs likens this to pinching a man with paralysis and then praising him for his patience and tolerance of bearing such a terrible affliction. He could not feel it, how can you praise him? True contentment is likened to when you can feel the pinch and do not pop the guy in the teeth (my words not Burroughs).
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
- the natural quietness of many men and women. Some are naturally quiet; others are naturally impatient.
- a sturdy resolution.
- the strength of natural reason.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
- I am especially challenged by Burroughs second point. Thinking of all the different "fires" that might warm me I realized that I can be tempted to find comfort in things other than Jesus. We know, as does Burroughs, that true contentment only comes from the soul's satisfaction with God. That is where this "inward soul-warming" comes from. I am challenged then to discover the areas in my life where my "contentment" only comes from outward blessing and not inward satisfaction.
- It is also challenging to determine whether or not our attitude is continually contented or is it shifting with our various moods and cirumstances.
- Therefore, we must cling to Jesus to teach us this mystery of contentment.
- Cling to the gospel
- Pray in the Spirit
- Allow your gospel roots to go deep
- Fight the fight of faith
Monday, November 19, 2007
Before we really understand what Jude is saying we need to look at what Jude is NOT saying. If you read the story of Paul and Barnabas splitting up in Acts 15:36-41 you see that even great men of God go through difficult disagreements and conflicts. What we Jude is NOT saying is that “if you have a conflict in your church it’s because someone is not saved”. Granted, sometimes that person, who is always complaining and is exhibiting no grace whatsoever, is doing so because he/she is not regenerate. But we can see clearly from this example in Acts 15:36-41 that sometimes “sharp disagreement” and even a parting of ways happen because two believers do not see eye-to-eye on a significant issue. Therefore, it is important for us to remember that whenever we are in conflict we cannot pull the trump, “you’re probably not saved”, card.
But Jude is helping us to see the underlying cause and nature of much division in the body of Christ--lack of unity in doctrine. False teaching always destroys the church and it should not be put up with. How then do you determine whether it is false teaching or biblical teaching that is being propagated? It is an important question. The Puritans caused division in the church. But they did so because they were hoping to transform the ungodly church. So, it really was not the Puritans who caused the division but the one who had adulterated the gospel in the first place. But what do you do when you find your church in the middle of a division? How do you know which side is correct, and which side is the one causing the division?
Last time we looked at three things that Christian contentment is not opposed to. Today we will see the 8 things that it is opposed to (p. 3-4) and then have a brief word on each. Christian contentment is opposed to:
- Murmuring and [complaining] at the hand of God
- Vexing and fretting (a degree beyond murmuring)
- The spirit being highly agitated so that it becomes unruly
- An unstable and unsettled spirit whereby it is distracted from its duty to God and others
- Distracting, heart-consuming cares
- Sinking discouragements
- Sinful shiftings and negligence so as to seek relief and help
- Desperate risings of the heart against God by way of rebellion
It appears that each of these points that Burroughs mentions has a couple of root exhortations. You cannot claim Christian contentment if when given a difficult trial you murmur and complain towards God and it so agitates you that you are consumed and distracted by it. If it is taking all of your heart and your focus so that you eyes are constantly fixed on this affliction then you are not practicing Christian contentment. Also, we see that if the affliction is bringing you to sinful rebellion whether through active rebellion or negligence. You cannot claim Christian contentment while you are engaged in sinful rebellion so as to relieve the affliction. A biblical example that Burroughs gives is the story of Saul running to the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28). Perhaps a more contemporary example would be a man who has his finances afflicted and to relieve his sufferings he steals, gambles, and cheats. He pursues dishonest gain to relieve his affliction.
One of Burroughs points that you might have contention with is #6, "sinking discouragements". Is Burroughs saying that the Christian is not allowed to struggle mightily with depression? What about Spurgeon--was he sinning in his bouts with melancholy? What specifically did Burroughs mean? We will let Burroughs speak--"God would have us to depend on Him though we do not see how the thing may be brought about; otherwise we do not show a quiet spirit. Though an affliction is on you, do not let your heart sink under it. So far as your heart sinks and you are discouraged under affliction, so much you need to learn this lesson of contentment".What Burroughs seems to be referring to is the type of person who is distrusting God during times of affliction. When trouble is brought about they are brought to despair instead of hoping in God. It does not seem that Burroughs is specifically addressing the type of melancholy that plagued folks like Spurgeon.
What then can we learn from today's reading? First of all, I believe the Lord is calling us to trust Him in the midst of our afflictions. We should hear the exhortation of James to the dispersed brothers and sisters. "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds..." Secondly, the Lord is calling us to quietly submit to everything that comes from His hand, all the while trusting in His goodness. When dealt every blow we must cling to the promise that God works all things for good. We must have a big view of God. We must be quieted as Job was, "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted...I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know...I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." You can feel Job putting his hand over his mouth as he utters these words. Let us do the same. Make our requests known to the Lord, but humbly rest under His sovereign hand of goodness.
Friday, November 16, 2007
- To a due sense of affliction. What Burroughs means by this is that the Christian should not ignore and refuse to acknowledge that there are difficult times. If we were totally unaware that we were being afflicted then what type of virtue would it be to have joy amidst the trial? The very nature of being content in all circumstances points to the necessity of being sensible to our afflictions.
- To making our cries known to God. Notice in the life of Job that he was able to make his affliction known to his friends without sin. He was able to even make his plea to God without sin. But what if we are being disciplined? Can we then make our moan known to God? Burroughs seems to think this unfitting when he says, "...a Christian ought to be quiet under God's correcting hand". However, Burroughs also says, "without a breach of Christian contentment complain to God". The way this is done is by a "quiet, still, submissive way [in which we disclose our] heart to God."
- To seeking help and refuge from the difficult circumstance. Who knows if it is God's will to alter our condition? Perhaps God wills to bring us through this suffering time. Indeed we should pray and seek to be relieved. As Burroughs says, "God is thus far mercifully indulgent to our weakness, and He will not take it ill at our hands if by [serious intention] and [persistent] prayer we seek Him for deliverance until we know His good pleasure in the matter." Which should thus desire that our "wills [be] melted into the will of God".
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I love how Nahum starts with the character. He is going to talk about the judgment of God upon Nineveh but he wants Judah to know, and probably Nineveh as well, that everything is happening because of the character of God. So that is what our sermon was about the character of God and the reason for our salvation. You can read the sermon here. Enjoy!
"Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.The first thing we see is that contentment is a sweet inward heart thing. It is as the Psalmist said, "Truly my soul waits on God" (62:1) or again "My soul, wait only on God (62:5). Burroughs notes that "many may sit silently, refraining from discontented expressions, yet inwardly they are bursting with discontent".
Therefore we see that it is vitally important that our hearts be content inwardly. Because God hears our inward heart. What a great analogy Burroughs then employs by saying, "A shoe may be smooth and neat outside, while inside it pinches the flesh." Oh, how many souls are outwardly "content" yet inwardly they are discomforted and grumbling against the Lord? I know that sometimes due to my position in the ministry I can outwardly look contented yet inwardly my heart is turbulent. How much must our great God despise our murmuring hearts?
Certainly our battle for contentment will be an inward battle. Often times we can easily fake the outside; only occasionally, when pressed beyond control, do we display our inward unrest. Therefore, "there is certainly more to it than can be attained by common gifts and the ordinary power of rason, which often bridle nature. It is a business of the heart." As Burroughs will show us this will take the power of the Christ and His gospel to bring us to contentment.
What are your comments? Has anything struck you in this section? I especially like Burroughs analogy of the shoe; polished on the outside and pinching on the inside. Have you ever felt that way? Do you ever feel like a polished shoe on the outside all the while inwardly your heart is discontented?
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The question that I see the Lord of glory asking us through the ministry of Burroughs and Rutherford and indeed even through His apostle Paul is this: Am I sufficient? Do you love me so much that in trying times and in good times you can be content—all because you have me? Let us repent of our self-sufficiency and cling to the Cross of Jesus Christ and rejoice in His all-sufficiency. He is our sufficiency!
Friday, November 9, 2007
 This biography was adapted from Burroughs article from Meet the Puritans. Beeke, Joel R. and Pederson, Randal J. Reformation Heritage Books. 2006. p118-25.
I also am a little reluctant to use the phrase "allow the gospel" or "allow God". Perhaps if you have that same aversion what a dear pastor friend said to me might help. After asking him in what way is it appropriate to use the phrase "allow the gospel" he responded thus:
"I'll try a quick, 2-part answer.
#1. As often happens, part of answer comes down to semantics. Just how exteme are we defining "allow"? Which seques into second part.
#2. Colossians 3:15-16 tell us to "let the peace of Christ rule....let the word of Christ
dwell...." Obviously we cannot stop these things if God chooses to force them on us -nor- can we make them happen if chooses to deny. We let these thing happen in our lives by a). Not doing things which impede or hamper and by b). doing things which promote them.
Illustration.....I plant corn in my garden and 'let' it grow.I let it grow in several ways. I fertilize, weed, and water. I also let it grow by not tromping it down or uprooting it. I don't cause the growth, but I can have a part in letting (allowing) it to grow in healthier, more productive way."
This illustration and statement really helped me. We "let the word of Christ dwell" by not hampering it's growth and by doing things which promote them. Such as the disciplines we talked about Wednesday night.
Friday, November 2, 2007
1) I felt that there was a great deal of pride at the convention (not the least of which was my own). The Lord convicted me deeply of a desire to make my name great. On Tuesday night I skipped out on the programs and got alone with the Lord. I went back over the gospel and had to be reminded that I was created by God and created for His glory and His glory alone. I know that He will not share His glory with another. I was deeply convicted yet mightily encouraged. I have a new resolve to preach the gospel boldly and a desire to fight pride in my life via the power of the Cross. May God be gracious and give me clarity and passion in driving the vice of pride out of my life.
2) I need to go to seminary. I am not sure when, but I realize that I must go deeper and I cannot do that on my own. I need a further education. I am praying that the Lord might show me His timing--and that I might not pursue that any sooner than I am supposed to nor any later.
3) There is a sharp division in our Missouri Baptist Convention. The younger generation seems to be a very large contrast to the older generation. I fear that because of our hubris ("our" being the younger generation) we will not be heard, and when we are it will be self-honoring and not Christ-honoring.
Brothers, we must bow humbly before the Cross. We must realize that God is more concerned with our convention, with being honored, with spreading His name than we are. Therefore, we should boldly stand for the truth yet not create factions and not refuse to love our brothers in Christ. I am humbled by the depth of some of the leaders in my generation. I am thankful to God for them. Hopefully, the MBC stance on alcohol will not be displeasing to God. I say that because by passing a resolution that would not allow Paul, Timothy, or Jesus Himself to be a trustee--i think we have went too far. But enough on that. I am back and happy to be back...now i must draw deeper from the wells of grace and preach the gospel boldly.