Friday, November 30, 2007

My Mornings

Many people wonder what I do with my work day. Some people, I think, imagine that a full-time minister sits in his office and stares out into space all day. Perhaps, some give me more "spiritual points" than I am due--thinking I pray for about 4 hours and read my Bible for the next 4-5. Actually my 9-5 includes less prayer time than it should and less Bible reading than it should. However, much of my day is saturated in constant conversation with the Lord and in reading/studying. One of my most productive times is actually in the morning. Usually before I make blog posts myself I engage my mind with a little reading. I point my browser to and check out all of the various blogs I read daily.

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, 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!

Burroughs--Taking Pleasure in God's Disposal

Last time we saw that contentment is a free work of the spirit. This time we will see that it is taking pleasure in God's disposal. (p9-10). At this point Burroughs is going to take us further into this matter of Christian contentment. It is not only seeing that we should be content, but it is actually seeing good in, and taking pleasure in, the affliction. Burroughs notes that it is not merely looking back on the affliction and saying with David, "it was good that I was afflicted". Rather, it is being in the midst of the trial and saying, "it is good that I am afflicted". "Not just good when you see the good fruit it has wrought, but to say when you are afflicted, 'It is good that I am afflicted'."

We see this type of contentment evidenced in Proverbs 15:6, "In the house of the righteous is much treasure, but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble". Regardless of the state of the righteous man's house in it he has much treasure. "There is more treasure in the poorest body's house, if he is godly, than in the house of the greatest man in the world, who has his fine hangings and finely-wrought beds and chairs and couches and cupboards of plate and the like. Whatever he has, he has not so much treasure in it as there is in the house of the poorest righteous soul." This should consistently remind us that no matter what lot in life the Lord gives us we still have the greatest treasure; namely Jesus Christ. What a great gift the Father has lavished upon us. We also see evidence of this in the Apostle Paul's life. Who spent many nights naked and hungry, yet was able to say, "possessing all things" (2 Cor. 6:10).

I am again reminded of the quote by Samuel Rutherford that continues to ring in my mind. It is an excellent work. If you do not own it I would suggest clicking on its picture on the sidebar and buying it for $7. It will be worth every penny. The quote is thus: “I would not want the sweet experience of the consolations of God for all the bitterness of affliction; nay, whether God come to his children with a rod or a crown, if he come himself with it, it is well". He then continues by saying, “It is better to be sick, providing Christ come to the bed-side…than to enjoy health, being lusty and strong, and never visited of God.”

Our Great God!

I am always a little reluctant to share stories like this. It could have a great effect or it could have adverse ones. The truth is, I would be saying "our great God!" whether this blessing happened or not (or at least I'd hope I would). But as it stands the Lord has shown us His mercy, grace, and power this morning.

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

The Message of Malachi

Last night we finished our next to last book on the Minor Prophets--Malachi. We will be doing two messages on Zechariah and then sum it all up with a Christmas message on the Promised King. Then we will kick the New Year off by starting a series on "Being Godly Men and Women". But until then lets take a look back at Malachi.

We listed six different marks of indifference and then gave suggestions on how to battle them.
  1. When you are questioning God’s love for you focus on His electing love in redemption.
  2. When you are engaging in half-hearted worship focus on God’s awesome character.
  3. When you are struggling with infidelity guard yourselves and do not be faithless
  4. When you are questioning God’s justice focus on His past fulfillments and future promises
  5. When you are selfishly giving half-hearted devotion focus on the storehouse of God’s pleasures.
  6. 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


I am indebted to a dear pastor friend for pointing me to this sermon. I finally today had the time to listen to it (undistracted) for its longevity. I would urge you to do the same. It was preached at the Desiring God 2003 National Conference. The Conference was in honor of Jonathan Edwards and the sermon to which I am referring is by Sam Storms. Dr. Storms has written an excellent book called Pleasures Evermore among others. You can read lots of material for free at

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

Burroughs--Freely Submitting to God

The fifth characteristic (which is the second half of Burroughs original definition) is that Christian contentment is "freely submitting to and taking pleasure in God's disposal". Today (p.8) we will see that there are three things (Burroughs says there are four, but only lists three) to be explained about this "freedom of spirit".
  1. 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".
  2. 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]."
  3. 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).
Burroughs then continues with his sixth point and because it is short we will too. He hopes to expound upon what it means to "submit to God's disposal". "The word submit," says Burroughs, "signifies nothing else but 'to send under'". What he means by that is that submitting means to bow yourself before the feet of God. It is when our soul, "can send itself under [bow before] the power and authority and sovereignty and dominion that God has over it." That causes me to ask myself today, am I freely submitting to God's rule? Do I live in proper authority, bowing before God's dominion over me? Does my heart readily submit to His and say, "Have thine own way Lord, Have thine own way"?
Next time we will look take this another step and look at having pleasure in God's disposal.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Burroughs--What is the Gracious Frame of Spirit Opposed To?

Yesterday we saw that Christian contentment is an inward heart condition. Today we will see 3 things that this gracious frame of spirit is opposed to (p.7). A gracious frame of spirit is opposed to:

  1. the natural quietness of many men and women. Some are naturally quiet; others are naturally impatient.
  2. a sturdy resolution.
  3. the strength of natural reason.
Burroughs then expounds why these are distinguished from Christian contentment. He deals especially with the first of the three--natural quietness. The difference between the two is clear, "The one whose disposition is quiet is not disquieted as others are, but neither does he show any activeness of spirit to sanctify the name of God in his affliction. But , on the other hand, he whose contentment is of grace is not disquieted and keeps his heart quiet with regard to vexation and trouble, and at the same time is not dull or heavy but very active to sanctify God's name in the affliction that he is experiencing." Simply put, one who is exercising Christian contentment will be giving God the glory and praise while the natural man will not. And this, Burroughs says, is the difference between the other two points as well.
The question for us today is this: are we praising God in our afflictions and in our blessings?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Burroughs--Contentment, a Gracious Frame of Spirit

This matter of Christian contentment is a matter of the soul. Today (p.5-6)we will see three things about this "inward, quiet frame of spirit".

First, we see that it is a "grace that spreads itself through the whole soul." What Burroughs means by this is that contentment begins in the soul's understanding (reason, judgment, cognition) and satisfies the thoughts. Then as the thoughts are satisfied it moves to the will--which submits to the understanding. Then as the will submits the affections follow. Therefore, true Christian contentment penetrates through the entire soul.

Some have only a partial contentment. They are able to get their understanding and therefore their thoughts in check but for whatever reason they cannot seem to harness their affections. A great example of this would be Psalm 42. David has a settled disposition but yet his soul is still downcast. Yet even without having his affections settled he is in a far better state than the soul who cannot be settled in his understanding. But if we are to have true Christian contentment then it must penetrate all of our soul.

Secondly, we see that "spiritual contentment comes from the frame of the soul." What Burroughs means by this is that contentment does not come from outward help but from "the disposition of their own hearts". "When a Christian is content in the right way, the quiet comes more from the temper and disposition of his own heart than from any external argument or from the possession of anything in the world".

To help us to see this Burroughs gives an example of a man with cold clothes. He can get his clothes warmed by two different ways. Either by sitting by a fire (outward) or by wearing them for awhile and letting his natural body heat warm them (inward). This is compared to the differences in many men. Some are ill and their natural body heat will not warm them. They can go to the fire but it will only warm them for awhile. Only while the outward help is upon them, but when left to themselves their "contentment" will soon dwindle. The one who has true Christian contentment will at first field the coldness of the affliction but after awhile will warm up to it and become content under the trial. This will continue because it came from the inward state. Therefore, "when it comes from the spirit of a man or woman--that is true contentment."

Lastly, we see that this frame of spirit "shows the habitual character of this grace of contentment". By this Burroughs simply means that contentment is no mere flash in the pan. It is a lasting endeavor. It is not fixed upon moods or seasons. True Christian contentment will find itself as the "constant tenor and temper of their hearts". If we are to call it Christian contentment then it must be persevering.

What then can we learn from Burroughs today?
  • 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.

Jude--Fighting for Mercy

"But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life."
These verses will probably be best understood if we first look at them backwards. I take Jude's goal to be the same as it has been throughout this letter. To keep his readers in the most holy faith, that they might contend for and preserve this blessed gospel; preserved in their own lives and for the generations to come. But, how will they "keep [themselves] in the love of God"? What hope do they have in waiting for the Jesus to give them mercy and lead them into eternal life? It will be because they have built themselves up in the gospel and have prayed in the Spirit. These two things are vitally important for our battle to persevere in the faith. These exhortations are in sharp contrast to the false teachers that will not inherit eternal life. Therefore, if we are to have eternal life then we must follow the way of the gospel and not the way of the false teachers.
Whereas the false teachers have crept into the church and have perverted the gospel and are causing divisions, the believers are to do just the opposite--build one another up in this most holy faith. "Faith" is the same "faith" that was mentioned in verse 3. It is a reference to the body of doctrine--to the gospel. Jude is urging his readers to build their lives upon the gospel. Certainly this is held in contrast to the false teachers who built their lives upon their dreams and visions and their ungodly passions. But it also serves as a sharp rebuke for those of us today who consider the gospel no more than the elementary aspect of our faith and that from there we move on to deeper things. What Jude is saying is the same thing that Paul said--Jesus Christ and His Gospel is the foundation of all Christian living and ministry. (1 Corinthians 3:11) As Martin Luther said, "The gospel cannot be preached and heard enough, for it cannot be grasped enough...Moreover, our greatest task is to keep you faithful to this article and to bequeath this treasure to you when we die." This is precisely what Jude is saying. Do not leave the gospel to go on to some special knowledge. Do not leave the gospel ever. It is your foundation and everything must spring from the gospel roots going deep in your life.
Next, Jude wants his readers to "pray in the Holy Spirit". This is in contrast to the false teachers who proclaim to have prophetic utterance but they are obviously not Spirit-led believers. Christians should pray under the instruction and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This type of prayer is the means that God uses to bring about our perseverance. Even though as we will see in a couple of days it is the Lord who is our keeper, the means that he uses to keep us is prayer. If we are not a praying people then it is quite likely that we will not persevere. Perhaps we could go into a discussion of what it means precisely to pray in the Spirit. We will not do that here. It will suffice for now to say that it does not mean speaking in tongues because Paul uses the same language in Ephesians 6:18 and says to do so "always". We are not commanded to speak in tongues constantly. So it means something different. But it does mean to pray in such a way that the Spirit Himself is moving us to pray and guiding our prayer. This is where Christ-exalting, God-glorifying prayer comes from. Therefore, let us pray in the Spirit, who searches all things, and intercedes for us, and is passionately consumed with glorifying the Godhead.
And the last thing that we will see today is that we must continue to fight and fight and wait and wait for the mercy of Jesus Christ to be revealed to us. We must keep ourselves in the love of God. This is not saying that you will lose your salvation--it is simply saying that the Christian life is a battle and we must cling to Jesus and hope in His precious salvation daily! Let us do just that today. Today you are exhorted to:
  • Cling to the gospel
  • Pray in the Spirit
  • Allow your gospel roots to go deep
  • Fight the fight of faith

Monday, November 19, 2007

Finish Jude--Those who cause divisions v19

Call it irony, call it laziness, call it distraction, call it what you will. I just realized today that I never finished up our bible studies on Jude. My plan is to finish the last 4 messages (1 of those today) and then begin a series of Bible studies on 1 Thessalonians. So, for the poor guy who has been checking this website every day since September 17th, here you go:

"It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit"
If you have been involved in the life of a church for any time at all you have problem experienced a church conflict. Sometimes there are significant theological differences that cause problems in the church. Sometimes it is over methodological changes (such as a change in style of worship music or outreach). Sometimes it is just plain stupid (like carpet color, clocks, etc.). All of these things, however, have something in common—according to Jude they are caused by people who are worldly and devoid of the Spirit. Today we are going to discover what we can NOT learn from Jude and what we can learn from Jude about conflict.

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?
First of all, not every issue is as black and white as "The Heretics v. The Bible-Believers". There are definite issues that the Bible does not spell out clearly. But I offer 3 suggestions for determining who is "right" in the argument.
1) Determine the fruit. Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-20 that you could determine false teachers by their fruits. Is their teaching producing godliness? Are they themselves growing in love for Christ? If you can see that one side is producing fruits of the flesh instead of fruits of righteousness it is quite possible that it is because their heart/doctrine is devoid of the Spirit.
2) Which treasures and exalts God more? The one that gives God the most glory is always the right one. I cannot think of a single circumstance where it would be fitting to do something that gave God less glory. Therefore, if one side is promoting something that would diminish the glory of God and the other would give Him more glory, it is probably the latter which is correct. Sometimes it is a matter of good versus greater. In the case of Jude it was heresy versus godliness. Alongside this is to ask the question is Christo-centric? Does it exalt Jesus Christ? Is it Cross-centered? Does it display man in his proper place? Does it show God to be the redeemer? Is it man-centered or God-centered? These are great questions to ask to determine which is truth.
3) What is historical? It might seem like this is saying to mindlessly follow tradition. I assure it is not. But it is an exhortation to follow "the most holy faith" of which Jude speaks of in v20. Usually if a strange doctrine enter the church it is not new. It has probably been dealt with before. Therefore, history is a good place to look. Usually if something flies in the face of historic Christianity it is going to be unbiblical. Be very cautious of accepting the newest fad and newest teaching. It is quite arrogant to think that we are just now discovering the 7 secrets of the Christian life, or THE KEY to living the Christian life.
All in all it is those who want to exalt themselves in the place of Jesus--men who are devoid of the Spirit that are proponents of false teaching. In given time they will be exposed and the truth of God will reign victorious. If you are in the midst of a church conflict I urge you to cling to Jesus above all things. He will reign victorious and so long as you are clinging to the Cross of Christ and the glory of God is your hope you will in no way be ashamed!

Burroughs--What is Christian Contentment Opposed To?

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:

  1. Murmuring and [complaining] at the hand of God
  2. Vexing and fretting (a degree beyond murmuring)
  3. The spirit being highly agitated so that it becomes unruly
  4. An unstable and unsettled spirit whereby it is distracted from its duty to God and others
  5. Distracting, heart-consuming cares
  6. Sinking discouragements
  7. Sinful shiftings and negligence so as to seek relief and help
  8. 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

Burroughs--The Quiet of Heart and What it is not opposed to

Some might think that if God desires us to be content always then does that must mean that we can never have a frown on our face. Does this mean we cannot weep? Does this mean that it is a sin for a Christian to be sad? In his typically profound way Burroughs will help us see three things (page 3)that this "quiet of heart" is not opposed to:
  1. 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.
  2. 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."
  3. 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".
These things then are not opposed to Christian contentment. It is soothing to a broken soul to know that it is not merely okay to make their request known to God but strongly suggested. Nor is it wrong to be broken and to cry out to the Almighty! James 1:2-18 confirms this. Especially focus on verse 5. James is specifically saying that if any of us lack wisdom [in the context referring to wisdom in our trials] we should ask the Lord. Then we are encouraged by the character of God, "who gives generously without reproach". The word for reproach means he does so without rebuking us, without thinking we are stupid for asking, or without laughing at us and scorning us. I am reminded of Psalm 103:14, that God "knows our frame; he remembers that we are but dust." Therefore today let us make our request known to God. But also might we fashion our prayer after what Burroughs said, that "our wills be melted into the will of God".

Prayer Request

In what has been the first "complication" to my wife's pregnancy the other day she was diagnosed with possible placenta previa. Placenta previa is a condition where the placenta is near to or covers the cervix. To put this in "what does this mean" terms--it means that if it stays in its current position Nikki will not be able to have a normal birth but will have to have a C-section. However, there is still much hope. She has been put on bed rest (not complete bed-rest, as of yet). The hope is that the placenta might "move up" and Nikki will be able to have a normal delivery. So, I am asking that you please pray that the Lord might heal this condition and that the placenta might move up and allow my wife to have a normal delivery. But, above all it is my prayer that He might be glorified and give us the strength to enjoy Him no matter His will on this. As my friend Will has prayed for and encouraged me--pray that "our eyes will be fixed on Christ and His wonderful sovereign grace". Oh, how the Lord loves us and wants what is best for us. Even if it's a trial.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Message of Nahum

Our attendance was down on Wednesday. It's really sad that people had to miss, some where sick, some had birthdays, some had other affections, some had things they had to do that could not be rescheduled. Nonetheless, our attendance was down and many missed a good service. For those of you who want updated and to know what was preached here is the sermon notes. You missed out on a little bit though because there were a few sections that were preached a little different than originally written.
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!

Burroughs--What is Contentment?

Today we will be looking at Burroughs' description of contentment (page 2). This description will serve as a thesis for the entire book. Burroughs will spend 13 chapters expounding upon this description and giving principles on how to attain it. Burroughs offers the following description:
"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

Is He Enough--Introductory Matters in Rare Jewel

Burroughs was a man who was accustomed to much sorrow. He had more than a few situations in his life where he was plagued with disunity among the body of Christ. Anyone who loves the bride of Jesus knows how trying these times can be. Burroughs also lived in a tumultuous time. In the early portion of his ministry he had to fight many battles against the Church of England concerning conformity and non-conformity. Most of these struggles were centered upon his refusal to accept King James’Book of Sports. After this was seemingly resolved, Burroughs found himself in the center of the controversy between the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Independents (of whom Burroughs was a “member”). 

So, Burroughs knows of suffering. The things written in Rare Jewel are not mere theoretical musings--they are the outgrowth of experience in his own Christian walk. You can feel Burroughs pain in his first paragraph when he speaks of the “drooping spirits of the saints in these sad and sinking times” (1). No doubt Burroughs himself was one of those who struggled with having a “drooping spirit”. Therefore, it is fitting that he should labor to faithfully exposit Philippians 4:11.

Today we will look at the introductory matters. We will ask two questions. 1) What does the apostle mean in Philippians 4:11? 2) What is the doctrinal assertion of this text?

1) What does the apostle mean in Philippians 4:11?

To place this in its proper context we must understand that Paul is in the midst of thanking the Philippians for their kind gift. This is what he meant in 4:10 when he said, “…you have revived your concern for me”. It seems as if the Philippians had been going through a deep financial struggle and where unable to support Paul monetarily. But then, as Paul is in prison, Epaphroditus shows up. Epaphroditus himself is a gift, yet he is bringin monetary support from the Philippians as well. In this Paul rejoices. But, so as not to sound desperate he qualifies his thanksgiving in verse 11. He wants them to know that his excitement is not in the monetary gift but in their support. As Burroughs says, “not that he sought ‘theirs’ but ‘them’”. And tucked away in this paragraph is Paul’s statement, “for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content”.

Burroughs helps us to see three things from this text: it is learned, it is to be constant, and it comes from the sufficiency of Christ.

“It is learned” helps us to see that having contentment in every situation is a “great art”. Burroughs notes the tense of the phrase. It is almost as if Paul is saying, “I do not have to learn it now, nor did I have [this] at first, I have attained it, though with much [struggle], and now, by the grace of God, I have become the master of this art.” It is vital that we see that contentment is a learned art. It will keep us from being frustrated, guard us from arrogance, and push us on to pursue more contentment.

“In whatever situation” helps us to see that this is to be a constant state. We must always be content. Whether as Paul says we are, “facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need”. We must learn to be content.

“To be content” actually can refer to only God. The word means “self-sufficient”. Only God can, “rests fully satisfied in and with Himself alone”. But how then can we say that Paul (and later that we) can have this self-sufficiency? As Burroughs helps us see it is because Paul, “had a right to the covenant and promise, which virtually contains everything, and an interest in Christ, the fountain and good of all, it is no marvel that he said that in whatever state he was in, he was content.”
2) What is the doctrinal assertion of this text?
Burroughs states the doctrinal consideration is brief but is thus: “That to be well skilled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory and excellence of a Christian” (2). And it is this great doctrine that we will, with the help of Jeremiah Burroughs, expound in the month of November.

What can we learn from all of this today? I am reminded of a quote by Samuel Rutherford in counseling a young woman who was going through many trials. Rutherford says, “I would not want the sweet experience of the consolations of God for all the bitterness of affliction; nay, whether God come to his children with a rod or a crown, if he come himself with it, it is well[1]In case you lost what Rutherford said in his Old English he is simply saying that so long as he has Christ it is sweet. Whether Christ comes with a rod (affliction, tough times) or with a crown (blessings, abundance, good times) it is still Christ who is there—and therefore it is sweet. To drive this point home Rutherford says,“It is better to be sick, providing Christ come to the bed-side…than to enjoy health, being lusty and strong, and never visited of God.”[2]

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!

[2] Ibid.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Meet Mr. Jeremiah Burroughs

In November we will be looking at the life of Jeremiah Burroughs. Throughout the month we will be studying his book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment; which can be purchased through Monergism books for the low price of $7.20 plus shipping. You can read it online, but I would suggest purchasing the book here.
Burroughs is best known for the book that we will be studying this month, "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment". He was born in 1599 and died in November of 1746. In 1621 he graduated with a BA and had his Master's by 1624. His tutor was another famous Puritan by the name of Thomas Hooker. By 1627 Burroughs was a member of the famous Westminister Assembly. In 1631 he was appointed as rector [the person in charge of a congregation] of Tivetshall, Norfolk. In 1636 he was suspended for refusing to obey some of the sanctions placed upon churches by the Bishop Matthew Wren. The charge was non-conformity. Burroughs (and many Puritans) refused to read King James Book of Sports, as well as refusing to read prayers rather than speak them without restraint.
Because of his troubles in Norfolk, Burroughs went to the Netherlands were he was a teacher at a congregation at Rotterdam. Here he met William Bridge and Sidrach Simpson. In the 1640's these three men would be instrumental in the rise of congregationalism. The 1640's for Burroughs would prove to be the decade in which he received the most notoriety. During the Commonwealth Period he returned to England and again became pastor. In his charge where two of the more prominent churches in all of London: Stepney in St. Giles, Cripplegate.
Burroughs found himself in the middle of the growing controversies between Presbyterians, Independents, and Episcopalians. In 1644 he and several of his friends presented to Parliament their Apologetical Narration. The work was an attempt to find a middle ground for Presbyterianism (too authoritarian in their opinion) and Brownism (too democractic in their opinion). Throughout his life he tried to establish unity among believers and to heal these divisions. His life was "cut short" in 1646 after a fall from his horse.[1]

[1] This biography was adapted from Burroughs article from Meet the Puritans. Beeke, Joel R. and Pederson, Randal J. Reformation Heritage Books. 2006. p118-25.

Jonah and the Gospel

Wednesday night we were challenged to allow the gospel to go deeper. In fact we were challenged to do everything we can to drive the gospel deeper by pursuing some of the classic spiritual disciplines. We noted that these disciplines are not the goal. The best way to honor a water pipe (if that were your desire) would be to enjoy the water it brings. The same way with the disciplines the best way to honor the disciplines is to enjoy the water (Jesus) that it brings. But again all of these must be clothed in grace. If you really want to here a solid sermon about this I would suggest listening to this sermon by Jonathan McIntosh: How Change Works
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.

You can view the sermon from Wednesday night here: The Gospel According to Jonah
This one is a little rough and could probably use a better title. When actually delivering it keep in mind that I changed much of the introduction and the conclusion was a little more full. Also I realize that this sermon could probably be adapted to many stories in Scripture. We could look at the story of David and Bathsheba, Peter denying Jesus, Simon in Acts 8; pretty much anywhere that you find a sin narrative you could adapt this sermon. If you feel a little cheated (since I did not do my typical expository style) on studying Jonah perhaps some of our Sunday School lessons from the summer on Jonah would help: The Consequence of Defiance; Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet. Sadly, those are the only two out of the four that have been preserved, and they are a little rough still. If you are still having a Jonah itch that needs scratched I would suggest listening to Arturo Azurdia's series--the best preaching on Jonah I have ever heard. The Jonah sermons are about a third of the way down.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Back from the Convention

I am back from the Missouri Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. It was an eventful 3 days yet also a little boring. I have taken 3 things from this convention.

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 i must draw deeper from the wells of grace and preach the gospel boldly.


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