Monday, October 11, 2010

A Colloquy on Rejoicing

I read this yesterday and it merits sharing and revisiting. A colloquy is a conversation you have with yourself. My soul and perhaps yours would be well-served to have a conversation like this...

Remember, O my soul,
It is thy duty and privilege to rejoice in God:
He requires it of thee for all his favours of grace.
Rejoice then in the Giver and his goodness,
Be happy in him, O my heart, and in nothing
but God,
for whatever a man trusts in,
from that he expects happiness.

He who is the ground of thy faith
should be the substance of thy joy.
Whence then comes heaviness and dejection,
when joy is sown in thee,
promised by the Father,
bestowed by the Son,
inwrought by the Holy Spirit,
thine by grace,
thy birthright in believing?

Art thou seeking to rejoice in thyself
from an evil motive of pride and self-reputation?
Thou hast nothing of thine own but sin,
nothing to move God to be gracious
or to continue his grace towards thee.
If thou forget this thou wilt lose thy joy.
Art thou grieving under a sense of indwelling sin?
Let godly sorrow work repentance,
as the true spirit which the Lord blesses,
and which creates fullest joy;
Sorrow for self opens rejoicing in God,
Self-loathing draws down divine delights.
Hast thou sought joys in some creature comfort?
Look not below God for happiness;
fall not asleep in Delilah’s lap.
Let God be all in all to thee,
and joy in the fountain that is always full.

-- from A Vally of Vision.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

John Newton on being a pastor

Read this this morning in my time with the Lord and have already been reminded of the accuracy of his words, "It is a bitter sweet, a sorrow full of joy." He's been a pastor.

Gal 4:19 -- Travailing in birth for souls (Olney Hymns, Book 2, Hymn 26)

What contradictions meet
In ministers’ employ!
It is a bitter sweet,
A sorrow full of joy:
No other post affords a place
For equal honor, or disgrace!

Who can describe the pain
Which faithful preachers feel;
Constrained to speak, in vain,
To hearts as hard as steel?
Or who can tell the pleasures felt,
When stubborn hearts begin to melt?

The Savior’s dying love,
The soul’s amazing worth;
Their utmost efforts move,
And draw their bowels forth:
They pray and strive, their rest departs,
Till CHRIST be formed in sinners hearts.

If some small hope appear,
They still are not content;
But, with a jealous fear,
They watch for the event:
Too oft they find their hopes deceived,
Then, how their inmost souls are grieved!

But when their pains succeed,
And from the tender blade
The rip’ning ears proceed,
Their toils are overpaid:
No harvest–joy can equal theirs,
To find the fruit of all their cares.

On what has now been sown
Thy blessing, LORD, bestow;
The pow’r is thine alone,
To make it spring and grow:
Do thou the gracious harvest raise,
And thou, alone, shalt have the praise.

Monday, July 05, 2010

On Life and Love

The last ten days have been full of life. It has left me thinking about the beauty of the fabric that God weaves into our lives.

In the past 10 days:
  • We celebrated a daughter's birthday.
  • A good friend passed into glory earlier than we would have liked.
  • A friend broke off her engagement.
  • Two other friends got engaged to each other.
  • My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
  • We grieved over kids whose parents couldn't stay together.
  • My softball team won a thrilling game and lost a heart-breaker.
  • We won a game by the "mercy rule" and we lost a game by the "mercy rule".
  • The season is over.
In addition, tonight my children will be sleeping in 4 states.

If I stir all this together, what do I get?

Life is a glorious mixture

I get a life that is full of pleasure and pain, joy and sadness, victory and defeat.

Is it what I expect? Not really, I expect only pleasure, only joy, only victory. The pain, sadness and defeat parts of life I pretend will never happen to me. I say pretend because I know for certain they will come. I'm realizing after a substantial time on the planet that I need to realize there are no untainted joys, no pristine victories. Everything in life is mixed.

I have to realize that on both sides. I have no complete pain, with no pleasure. Joy shows up mysteriously in some of the saddest moments. There are always small victories to enjoy in the midst of larger defeats.

Life is about what you love

Life is comprised of what you love. Your life may be defined by what and who you love. I'm sure it's more complicated than that, but love shapes all our experiences.

I realized early as a parent that you play catch with your son, not because of your love for baseball, but because of your love for your son. That perspective transforms my experience of the end of my softball tournament. If I loved softball, I'd have a meltdown at an umpire's bad call; a bobbled grounder would cause me heart burn. But, if I love the girls, those same experiences impact me primarily as they affect the players. If I love myself, well, everything will disappoint me.

The rich fabric of life is woven in the colors of what we love. In life and death, with light threads and dark, what we love is the most important thing about us.

Jesus said this in multiple ways:
  • Matthew 22:37 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
  • Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Or in the words of the wise man, "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life" (Proverbs 4:23).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What Do You Make of Hard Times?

This hymn by John Newton from the Olney Hymnal beautifully expressed God's purpose in afflictions. I hope it encourages you like it did me.


Heb 12:5-11

Afflictions do not come alone,
A voice attends the rod;
By both he to his saints is known,
A Father and a GOD!

Let not my children slight the stroke
I for chastisement send;
Nor faint beneath my kind rebuke,
For still I am their friend.

The wicked I perhaps may leave
Awhile, and not reprove;
But all the children I receive
I scourge, because I love.

If therefore you were left without
This needful discipline;
You might, with cause, admit a doubt,
If you, indeed, were mine.

Shall earthly parents then expect
Their children to submit?
And wilt not you, when I correct,
Be humbled at my feet?

To please themselves they oft chastise,
And put their sons to pain;
But you are precious in my eyes,
And shall not smart in vain.

I see your hearts, at present, filled
With grief, and deep distress;
But soon these bitter seeds shall yield
The fruits of righteousness.

Break through the clouds, dear Lord, and shine!
Let us perceive thee nigh!
And to each mourning child of thine
These gracious words apply.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Preach the Gospel to Yourself

A few weeks ago I had more good stuff than I could cram into a sermon. Here are some leftover quotes I would have used if the sermon had lasted 2 hours!

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in this psalm] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.’” Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1965), 20.

“If I have observed anything by experience, it is this: a man may take the measure of his growth and decay in grace according to his thoughts and meditations upon the person of Christ, and the glory of Christ’s Kingdom, and of His love.” - John Owen

“Sin is therefore fundamentally opposition to God, rebellion against God, which roots in hatred of God.” – Anthony Hoekema

“Reminding ourselves of the Gospel is the most important daily habit we can establish. If the Gospel is the most vital news in the world, and if salvation by grace is the defining truth of our existence, we should create ways to immerse ourselves in these truths every day. No days off allowed. . .Your audience is your own heart. And the message is simple: Christ died for you sins. It’s a matter of sitting down, grabbing your own attention, and telling yourself, “Hey, listen up! This is what matters most: You’re forgiven! You have hope! Your hope is based on the sacrifice of Jesus. So lets’ not view this day any other way. Let today be governed by this one defining truth.” (Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney pg. 132‐133).

“God did not give us His Gospel just so we could embrace it and be converted. Actually, He offers it to us every day as a gift that keeps on giving to us everything we need for life and godliness... We extract these benefits by being absorbed in the Gospel, speaking it to ourselves when necessary, and by daring to reckon it true in all we do.” (The Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent pg 5).

“My hope lives not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; my trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, He is my righteousness. My faith rests not upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me.” (Morning and Evening‐Sept 25 by C.H. Spurgeon)

"There is simply no other way to compete with foreboding of my conscience, the condemnings of my heart, and the lies of the world and the Devil than to overwhelm such things with daily rehearsings of the Gospel.” (The Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent, p. 14)

“You are loved and accepted by God through the merit of Jesus, and you are blessed by God through the merit of Jesus. Nothing you ever do will cause Him to love you any more or any less. (Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges, p 73)

“Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee‐it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee‐it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument‐it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to they faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul.” (Morning and Evening‐ June 28 by C.H. Spurgeon.)

“Learn to know Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to him and say, ‘Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You took on you what was mine; yet set on me what was yours. You became what you were not, that I might become what I was not’.” (Martin Luther)

“There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot be accepted at all. This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live... it is always on His ‘blood and righteousness’ alone that we can rest.” (B.B. Warfield)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How Do You Know You've Received Grace?

I don't know if you have ever wondered if you have received grace from God that will save you. I know I've had that question. I have counseled many people who wonder if they are truly saved. This morning the Lord laid a few of them on my heart to pray for specifically...and the very next thing I read was this hymn by John Newton, hymn #119 in the Olney Hymnal, called Lovest Thou Me? I hope it encrouages you.

’Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought;
Do I love the LORD, or no?
Am I his, or am I not?

If I love, why am I thus?
Why this dull and lifeless frame?
Hardly, sure, can they be worse,
Who have never heard his name!

Could my heart so hard remain,
Prayer a task and burden prove;
Every trifle give me pain,
If I knew a Savior’s love?

When I turn my eyes within,
All is dark, and vain, and wild;
Filled with unbelief and sin,
Can I deem myself a child?

If I pray, or hear, or read,
Sin is mixed with all I do;
You that love the LORD indeed,
Tell me, Is it thus with you?

Yet I mourn my stubborn will,
Find my sin, a grief, and thrall;
Should I grieve for what I feel,
If I did not love at all?

Could I joy his saints to meet,
Choose the ways I once abhorred,
Find, at times, the promise sweet,
If I did not love the LORD?

Lord decide the doubtful case!
Thou who art thy people’s sun;
Shine upon thy work of grace,
If it be indeed begun.

Let me love thee more and more,
If I love at all, I pray;
If I have not loved before,
Help me to begin today.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Yesterday's Prayer

I read the following prayer in church yesterday and had people request a copy. Here it is. My attempt to preach the gospel to myself as I pray.

Glorious God of Eternity, open my eyes to the grandeur of your throne. Remind me of the myriads that attend you, of the glory of your kingdom, of your infinite, unmatched and unstoppable power. Not that I may be frightened away, but that I might be the more certain that you are able to accomplish that which concerns me.

Convince me anew of your love for me. Remind my soul of the humility of the incarnation, the inhumanity of the trial, the agony of the cross. I want to know again, that you demonstrated your love in this, that while I was a sinner Christ died for me. I want to rest in the certainty that if you did not spare him, how will you not care for me in more minor details.

And, glory, you are wise beyond words. Your understanding has no limits.

You love me and are disposed to my best interest. You are completely beyond opposition and able to act in my best interest. And, you know, in every possible situation, what that best interest will be.

Cause me to humble myself before an awesome God whose desire for my good has no reservations. Why would I rebel against such a king as this? Why would I not surrender completely to Him? Oh God, let me be completely yours. Make my thoughts, words, actions and beliefs match what I know to be true about you and the gospel!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What Happened When Matthew Henry Was Robbed?

Matthew Henry, a pastor whose 300 year-old commentaries are still widely used today, was once robbed and left with little or nothing. Upon that occasion, this is what he prayed:

I thank Thee first because
  • I was never robbed before;
  • Second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life;
  • Third, because although they took my all, it was not much;
  • And fourth because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed.

Oh, that my life would be so free and so thankful!

Friday, April 02, 2010

What's So Good About Good Friday?

What is good about “Good Friday”? Why isn’t it called “Bad Friday”? Because out of the appallingly bad came what was inexpressibly good. And the good trumps the bad, because though the bad was temporary, the good is eternal. God’s love comes to us soaked in divine blood. “Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull... Here they crucified him” (John 19:17-18). – Randy Alcorn.
On Good Friday we gather to remember the death of Jesus. The cross is good for more than "getting someone saved." The events of Jesus’ crucifixion impact us at more levels than we realize:
  • Do you feel unloved?
Romans 5:8 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • Do you feel sad?
Isaiah 53:3-4 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
  • Do you feel rejected?
Colossians 1:21-22 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
  • Do you feel weak?
Romans 5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
  • Do you feel forgiven?
1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
  • Do you feel broken?
Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
  • Do you feel unacceptable to God?
1 Peter 1:18-19 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
  • Do you feel liek a good person?
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  • Do you feel distant from God?
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
  • Do you feel justified or like you have to justify yourself?
Romans 5:9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
  • Do you worry about facing God’s wrath?
Romans 5:9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
  • Do you feel condemned?
Romans 8:34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
  • Do you feel like God has it out for you?
Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
  • Do you feel like there are people you don’t want to love?
1 John 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
  • Do you feel guilty?
Colossians 1:21-22 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
  • Do you feel like God forgave you just because he is nice? He did it at the deliberate cost of His Son!
Acts 2:22-23 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know- this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

Acts 4:24-28 "Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, "' Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'-for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


This is the process David Allen goes through in his weekly review. The weekly review is the primary application of GTD, or Getting Things Done.

I'm posting this for myself. If anyone else benefits, great. I need a systematic reminder of the things how to have, as he says, stress-free productivity.
  1. Collect Loose Papers and Materials
  2. Get "IN" to Zero
  3. Empty Your Head
  4. Review Action Lists
  5. Review Previous Calendar Data
  6. Review Upcoming Calendar
  7. Review "Waiting For" List
  8. Review Project (and Larger Outcome) Lists
  9. Review Any Relevant Checklists
  10. Review Someday/Maybe List
  11. Be Creative & Courageous

Monday, March 15, 2010


O Spirit of God,
Help my infirmities;
When I am pressed down with a load of sorrow,
perplexed and knowing not what to do,
slandered and persecuted,
made to feel the weight of the cross,
help me, I pray thee.

If thou seest in me
any wrong thing encouraged,
any evil desire cherished,
any delight that is not thy delight,
any habit that grieves thee,
any nest of sin in my heart,
then grant me the kiss of thy forgiveness,
and teach my feet to walk the way of thy commandments.

Deliver me from carking care,
and make me a happy, holy person;
Help me to walk the separated life with firm and brave step,
and to wrestle successfully against weakness;
Teach me to laud, adore, and magnify thee,
with the music of heaven,
And make me a perfume of praiseful gratitude to thee.

I do not crouch at thy feet as a slave before a tyrant,
but exult before thee as a son with a father.

Give me power to live as thy child in all my actions,
and to exercise sonship by conquering self.

Preserve me from the intoxication that comes of prosperity;
Sober me when I am glad with a joy that comes not from thee.
Lead me safely on to the eternal kingdom,
not asking whether the road be rough or smooth.
I request only to see the face of him I love,
to be content with bread to eat,
with raiment to put on,
if I can be brought to thy house in peace.

-- The Valley of Vision, Banner of Truth.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


I am not sure I'll use this in my message on Sunday, but loved it when I found it. I hope it reminds you to make the most of today.

It was Spring, but it was Summer I wanted:
The warm days and the great outdoors.

It was Summer, but it was Fall I wanted:
The colorful leaves and the cool, dry air.

It was Fall, but it was Winter I wanted:
The beautiful snow and the joy of the holiday season.

It was Winter, but it was Spring I wanted:
The warmth and the blossoming of nature.

I was a child, and it was adulthood I wanted:
The freedom and the respect.

I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted:
To be mature and sophisticated.

I was middle-aged, but it was 20 I wanted:
The youth and the free spirit.

I was retired, but it was middle-aged I wanted:
The presence of mind without limitatins.

My life was over, and I never got what I wanted.

-- Quoted by Chuck Swindoll, (Cited in Ryken, Exodus. P. 674).