Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunday Drive to San Francisco

A gray, overcast, foggy blanket lingered around my home as we set out for the city, yesterday. I generally do not make the trip unless we have family/friends visiting however Sundays are going to be our day in the city...with yesterday being the first. Patches of rain dusted the windshield as we carried on our adventure. The GPS stated it was going to be one hour and fifteen minutes until we arrived at our destination. That is actually fifteen minutes less than I anticipated. Gloomy clouds broke open to reveal blue sky as we crossed the Bay Bridge and headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge.

There is something quaint and intriguing about San Francisco. Alcatraz can be clearly seen while crossing the Bay Bridge and welcomes visitors. Fisherman’s Warf and Pier 39 beckon to guests while Ghirardelli Square adds a splash of sweetness. Trolleys buzz over the hilly terrain as cable cars work the grid.

Unsure if we were going to love worship service in San Francisco enough to call this new church our home, I tried to keep my mind open to all the Lord wanted to show me. My biggest concern was if the children were going to feel comfortable enough. But, God is so good...(as if I could forget such a thing)!

Truth be known, there were four churches of interest with the top two being sister churches. Both were the same distance away and a commute of one hour and fifteen minutes each direction. Though San Fran was the location to which we went, as God would have it, the pastor giving the message turned out to be the one from the sister church. So, we got to taste and see a bit of both. Thank you, Lord! We sang one of my favorite praise songs ("Jesus My Only Hope"); everyone was genuinely joyful, kind, and hospitable; it is a new church so there are many just getting started there; the drive was peaceful and pleasant as we rocked out to praise music; and the kiddos are eager to go back! They said they really enjoyed it! Again, thank you, Lord!

Also, another interesting fact was in 2008 my family and I drove across country. Our first overnight was spent in Phoenix, AZ and the following day we attended church in Gilbert. The pastor of the San Francisco church (and his family) were at the one in Gilbert at the same time. He was doing his internship there for seven months and they too had just made a trip across the country from Maryland. I thought that was a fun coincidence.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Do You Know That is Demonic?

I am continuing with Mark Driscoll's series on "Spiritual Warfare".  He brings up some interesting points.  For example he states,
When a Christian marries a non-Christian, do you know that's demonic?  That's demonic.  That's what satan wants.  See, Malachi 2, God wants godly offspring.  Christian/non-Christan, they get married, have kids, satan has the opportunity to bring to an end a legacy of godly offspring....Are you equally yoked?

I never would have thought of that.  Infact, I was under the impression God would cover the unsaved spouse (otherwise the children would be pagans).  Regardless, it's nice to know satan does not share God's attributes so unlike God who is everywhere, all knowing, and is aware of the heart and thoughts of man, satan is not.  He can only be in one place at a time and is only cognizant of spoken sentiments and behavior.  And, there are bigger fish to fry than little ol' me.  But that does not mean I am immune to the webs he has false teachers, deceitfulness, etc.  I am easily deceived.  Grudem has a chapter on satan and demons in his excellent book SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY.  (A resource, I feel, well worth reading.)

26 Be angry and do not sin; (Ephesians 4:26. ESV.)

Mark Driscoll further teaches,
Too many Christians have a wrong impression that anger is a bad thing.  Anger is the right response to sin....  If you don't feel angry, there is something wrong.  Let me give you permission to be angry. Let me give you permission to tell people you are meeting with, "That makes God very angry, that makes me very angry."...But don't let your anger lead you into sin.

Would this fall into the category of "righteous anger" maybe?  I'm not sure but I tend to agree with what Driscoll said here.  He gives some examples in his message that, I feel, really drive his point home.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Jesus the Narrow Door

On Twitter, Pastor Mark Discoll called this video possibly "the clearest evangelistic sermon [he has] ever preached.". He said, "If you know anyone who needs Jesus, feel free to pass it on."

And I am.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jesus Will Not Let His People Forget His Love

Here I sit at the park waiting for the kiddos to finish exercising.  Had I remembered my phone I would have texted friends to bring their children to the park as well so we could fellowship while they play.  Instead, today's Spurgeon has left me with some beautiful thoughts on which to meditate.  The first section stated, 
However difficult and painful thy road, it is marked by the footsteps of thy Saviour; and even when thou reachest the dark valley of the shadow of death, and the deep waters of the swelling Jordan, thou wilt find His footprints there.

In all places whithersoever we go, He has been our forerunner; each burden we have to carry, has once been laid on the shoulders of Immanuel. "His way was much rougher and darker than mine. Did Christ, my Lord, suffer, and shall I repine?"

Take courage! Royal feet have left a blood-red track upon the road, and consecrated the thorny path for ever.

The second section reads, 
Jesus will not let His people forget His love. If all the love they have enjoyed should be forgotten, He will visit them with fresh love. "Do you forget my cross?" says He, "I will cause you to remember it; for at My table I will manifest Myself anew to you. Do you forget what I did for you in the council-chamber of eternity? I will remind you of it, for you shall need a counsellor, and shall find Me ready at your call." Mothers do not let their children forget them. If the boy has gone to Australia, and does not write home, his mother writes - "Has John forgotten his mother?" Then there comes back a sweet epistle, which proves that the gentle reminder was not in vain. So is it with Jesus, He says to us, "Remember Me," and our response is, "We will remember Thy love."

I love the part about mothers not letting their children forget them (to illustrate Jesus' love for us)...and the bit regarding the footsteps of the Saviour before us no matter how difficult the path.  It helps me understand those aspects of His love...and there is just so much to know about God, His character, His (revealed) will, His Son, and the Holy Spirit!  So much so I find it almost mind blowing at times.

Call to Prayer for Iran

It is illegal in Iran to share Christianity with Muslims or preach the gospel in Farsi, the indigenous language of Iran. It is also illegal for a Muslim to reject Islam (apostasy). Therefore, Farsi-speaking, Iranian Muslim converts to Christianity must worship in illegal "underground" fellowships.

In a massive crackdown that began on Christmas Day, authorities arrested about 70 Farsi-speaking believers. Most are young converts from Islam. They are being interrogated and coerced. The arrests follow the denial of an appeal for a Muslim convert sentenced to death for leaving Islam.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's death sentence is only being delayed to give intelligence agents more time to convince him to renounce Christ and return to Islam. His wife has been sentenced to life imprisonment. They have two small children.

Please pray.

Wordless Wednesday: Let the Church Help

I saw the following picture posted on the blog of my high school youth pastor and thought it was hilarious.

(Photo information here.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Filled with Pride, Just Like Satan

(I was going to blog about the fruits of the Spirit today but ended up with the following instead.)

The title of this is a quote by Pastor Mark Driscoll in his series "Spiritual Warfare".  "Filled with pride, just like satan."  Yikes!  I want to be dead to satan and pursuing the light, not the darkness.  I wish to be humble and if I do not agree with someone else, to disagree, agreeably...NOT in a prideful manner that gives the impression I believe myself to be better than others or always right (because I do NOT think that about myself AT ALL!).

Pastor Mark Driscoll poses the question, "What is your deepest desire?"

He goes on to say,
"If all you have is the flesh, and your deepest desire is the flesh, and your most passionate yearnings are for the flesh, and you don't even feel bad about it...there is no are not a Christian."..."Do you really love Jesus?  Not religion.  Not doctrine.  Jesus."

Sometimes, Pastor Mark is a little too intense for me but at other times he is such a blessing to my soul (and tells it like it is, no sugar coating).  Again, from his "Spiritual Warfare" series I take the following quote.  He states,
"He's a non-Christian, all he has is the flesh.  Apart from repentance and regeneration he has nothing but the flesh, there's nothing I can do with the guy....Here's what I've tried to do in counseling before: I've tried to yell at people.  That didn't work.  I tried to threaten them.  That didn't work.  I tried to plead with them.  That didn't work.  I tried to cry, manipulate them.  That didn't work.  I tried to call them everyday and make them do as I tell them ((speaking in a joking tone) assuming the Holy Spirit's on vacation or something and I need to pick up where he left off).  That didn't work.  I can threaten, push, cajole, manipulate people into obedience for a little while but apart from a heart change I really can't do anything.  I can't.  Just can't do it.  So any more I just ask the question, "What are your deepest desires?  What do you really want?"...You share the gospel, share the gospel, you pray for God to change their heart but you can't make them be moral, good, obedient, holy, and complicit because the flesh can't do that.  And it's very grievous.  It's heartbreaking because you love people and you don't want them to ruin their life.  And you pray that they come to their senses before they come to their end."

Oh Lord, I thank You that I desire You and want more than anything to follow You and live according to Your ways.  I thank You for changing my heart back in 2006 and never letting me go.  Thank You for wisdom (and as You know I definitely need more), patience to wait on You when that is what You require, and that nothing can pluck me from Your loving, protective grasp.  I am so grateful for pastors, teachers, and those who encourage (like pastors John Piper, Mark Driscoll, C.J. Mahaney, and Phil Courson) whose flocks can consistently depend on them especially in time of tribulation and suffering.  When I must have firm, biblical guidance and understanding, You removed all (to whom I was trying to cling) and then provided humble sisters in Christ who sit closer than a brother, listen, and never criticize, gossip, or slander to give me guidance. (I pray I may, in turn, be that for someone else.)  I am, without a doubt, truly blessed...because of You!  I am "rich" because of You.  I am "successful" because of You.  I am nothing but trouble without You.  Thank You for keeping me in line.  All honor and glory are Yours forever and ever, Amen.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
   be acceptable in your sight,
   O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalm 19:14. ESV.)
(Photo information here.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Spiritual Warfare

I have just started the Spiritual Warfare series by Mark Driscoll and had to post it here because it is (thus far) spectacular. I have the podcast downloaded but was able to locate it on the Mars Hill Church website. So, without further ado...

If you cannot view this, please click here.

If you cannot view this, please click here.

If you cannot view this, please click here.

If you cannot view this, please click here.

In Christ

I was watching Pastor Mark Driscoll's podcast "Trial: Humble Christians", on which he poses an excellent question.  He asks, "Are you in Christ?  Not in morality.  Not in spirituality.  Not in religion.  In Christ."  As he goes on to detail what each of those means, I feel it becomes clear enough for one to categorize him or herself (if desired).  For example, prior to 2006 I would definitely say I was "in morality" and/or "in religion" (though I did have love for my God and Savor in my heart).  I was (however) mistaken about God's character and did not truly know Him or Christ.  I had an unbiblical relationship with Him during which time I was disobedient and convinced myself God loved me no matter what foolishness and sin I got into.  The God of the New Testament is the God of the Old Testament.  The only difference?  Grace, mercy, and forgiveness because of Christ.

Pastor Mark Driscoll also states the "humble verses the humble agree to disagree, agreeably", with which I totally concur!  Prideful individuals duking it out is neither pretty nor Christ-like.  It's ugly sin and shameful.  Lord, please keep me humble, ALWAYS!  I pray that satan and his tricks will not devour me and lead me to believe I am in any sort of a position to confront, correct, criticize, and/or judge others.  Encourage, yes... scold and rebuke, no.  That, in my opinion, is for the leaders, teachers, and pastors...which, of course, I am not.

He also discusses maturity.  I consistently thought age was the deciding factor... that younger women should look to their elders for guidance and instruction.  Pastor Mark, however reminds me there are new believers (feeding on the milk and not quite ready for solids) and a progression (like the physical one) to maturity.  In which case the more inexperienced follower of Christ seeks the counsel of the experienced.  Why did I not think of that?  My thoughts were limited.

I am so thankful I may remain close to God.  The trials and challenges are a bear but I want to be like Christ.  I love that I can ask for anything and receive abundant blessings.  I am grateful for amazing grace by faith.  Yes, it is hard to understand why God has ordained what He has but then I remember, I am a "child" and currently unable to comprehend "adult" ways and why my Father thinks and behaves the way He does... until one day I will... (just as I did with my worldly parents).

Until then I will remain in Christ.

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  (Philippians 1:21. ESV.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jesus' College: Had It Not Been for the Love of Jesus

The following quote comes from my (currently) favorite message by Spurgeon.  He states,
[M]any can bring the Scriptures to the mind, but the Lord alone can prepare the mind to receive the Scriptures. Our Lord Jesus differs from all other teachers; they reach the ear, but He instructs the heart; they deal with the outward letter, but He imparts an inward taste for the truth, by which we perceive its savour and spirit. The most unlearned of men become ripe scholars in the school of grace when the Lord Jesus by His Holy Spirit unfolds the mysteries of the kingdom to them, and grants the divine anointing by which they are enabled to behold the invisible. Happy are we if we have had our understandings cleared and strengthened by the Master! How many men of profound learning are ignorant of eternal things! They know the killing letter of revelation, but its killing spirit they cannot discern; they have a veil upon their hearts which the eyes of carnal reason cannot penetrate.

Such was our case a little time ago; we who now see were once utterly blind; truth was to us as beauty in the dark, a thing unnoticed and neglected. Had it not been for the love of Jesus we should have remained to this moment in utter ignorance, for without His gracious opening of our understanding, we could no more have attained to spiritual knowledge than an infant can climb the Pyramids, or an ostrich fly up to the stars. Jesus' College is the only one in which God's truth can be really learned; other schools may teach us what is to be believed, but Christ's alone can show us how to believe it. Let us sit at the feet of Jesus, and by earnest prayer call in His blessed aid that our dull wits may grow brighter, and our feeble understandings may receive heavenly things.

Last night I watched the 2010 movie, "Julie and Julia" about master cook Julia Childs and a gal who decided to cook through one of Ms. Childs' cookbooks and blog about it.  I cannot help but wonder what drew so many readers to her blog?  Was it the concept, the content, the execution?  What?  And why are we as human beings so attracted to some things and repelled by others?  Are we pulled in by fantasy or reality?  Do we appreciate the struggles of another or flee to mind numbing fiction in an effort to escape any stress life might throw our direction?

Today someone shared I Thessalonians 2:8 and I thought it so lovely I want to pass it along.  It says,
Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. (NIV)
(Photo information here.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This River of God is Full for Thy Supply

Sometimes I feel discouraged.  Whether it is in general or specific areas (i.e. as a mother, wife, friend, family member, etc.).  But Charles Spurgeon's daily "Morning and Evening" reading reminded me Jesus and His awesome Father are ALWAYS available to help me.  Spurgeon states,
This morning let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: "I will help thee." "It is but a small thing for Me, thy God, to help thee. Consider what I have done already....Before the world began I chose thee. I made the covenant for thee. I laid aside My glory and became a man for thee; I gave up My life for thee; and if I did all this, I will surely help thee now. In helping thee, I am giving thee what I have bought for thee already. If thou hadst need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it thee; thou requirest little compared with what I am ready to give. 'Tis much for thee to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow....

Bring hither thine empty pitcher! Surely this well will fill it. Haste, gather up thy wants, and bring them here - thine emptiness, thy woes, thy needs. Behold, this river of God is full for thy supply; what canst thou desire beside? Go forth, my soul, in this thy might. The Eternal God is thine helper! "Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismay'd!

I, I am thy God, and will still give thee aid."

As I mentioned before on this blog, I once heard a speaker give an excellent message about monuments verses wells.  He said some people build "monuments" in honor of themselves and others dig "wells" that will supply water for years to come.  My goal is for this site to be a "well" from which multitudes will be able to draw... for God's glory, not my own (of course).  And with God, all things are possible.

I have made some changes to this site, however one has to visit the site to see what is different and that which is new.  For those viewing this in their email, on Facebook, or another route I'll point out some of the recent additions.  There is now a "menu" in the left sidebar for resources in various areas such as:

Curiosity in Christianity - for those who have a stirring desire to get to know more about God, Jesus, and what it is to be a follower of Christ.

Children Ministries - for anyone looking for programs and/or curriculum to use in a bible study with/for their children.

Links - to businesses/services provided by men and women in the body of Christ, nonprofit organizations I support, and blogs that bless.

I will continue "digging this well" and adding to this "menu" as further resources are placed on my heart--- which point to Christ and God's word--- hopeful many will benefit and God will be glorified.

I pray for God's blessing upon this "well"--- that all shall love Him with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their might.  That God's word and commandments shall be on their heart and taught diligently to children, talked of while sitting at home, when walking by the way, when lying down, and when going about the day (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).

(Click here for photo information.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

All Things Jesus: A City Set Upon a Hill

As God would have it, yesterday's dose of Spurgeon from MORNING AND EVENING DAILY READING said it perfectly.  My thoughts (so inadequate) stated eloquently by him:  
A Christian is not to be a village in a valley, but "a city set upon a hill;" he is not to be a candle under a bushel, but a candle in a candlestick, giving light to all....From the hidden springs within let sweetly flowing rivulets of testimony flow forth, giving drink to every passer-by. Hide not thy talent; trade with it; and thou shalt bring in good interest to thy Lord and Master.

To speak for God will be refreshing to ourselves, cheering to saints, useful to sinners, and honouring to the Saviour.

The Goal of Matthew 5:6 (for Women) in 2011

After much thought, some goals for this site have been placed upon my heart for the new year.

1.  I have decided to join "The Jesus Revolution".  If you are not quite sure what that is and are interested, please click here to find out.

2.  It is my heart's desire to make this site the (for lack of a better description) one stop shop for all things Jesus.  What does that mean?  I'm not quite sure, yet, but I'll keep you posted as it becomes clear to me.  But, there will be changes... Yes I used the dreaded word "changes"!  I hope and pray these will be for the better (and not at all for the worse) but we shall see.

The Wellspring of Life

I do not want to make Jesus a stick with which I hit people over the head.  Rather, I wish for Jesus to be a refreshing, soothing, comforting, hydrating, revitalizing drink of water I offer in a Southern hospitality fashion.  (I was raised in the South.)

And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.  (Revelation 22:17. ESV.)

I close with this quote from Spurgeon, 
Beloved reader, what is thy desperate case? What heavy matter hast thou in hand this evening? Bring it hither. The God of the prophets lives, and lives to help His saints. He will not suffer thee to lack any good thing.

Believe thou in the Lord of hosts! Approach Him pleading the name of Jesus, and the iron shall swim; thou too shalt see the finger of God working marvels for His people. According to thy faith be it unto thee, and yet again the iron shall swim.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Proverbs: Marriage by Mark Driscoll

Ladies, this is a FANTASTIC message by Mark Driscoll!!!

(If you cannot view this, click here.)

Transitioning From one Congregation to Another: One Body with Many Parts

I am in a season of transition but that does not mean my heart has changed in any way, shape, or form toward God. I was attending a Sovereign Grace church in one area and now that I am no longer in that region, I have to relocate to a new one...same family, different branch. Though I have yet to do so, this is in fact my heart's desire. But it will be a commute of roughly an hour and fifteen minutes each way. Many travel further for work so really, what is the big deal? I'll only be able to attend worship services but when I was merely 15 minutes away from my last church home I still only made it there once a week.

Switching gears, I read a fantastic bit of Spurgeon's "Morning and Evening" just a moment ago. It stated,
"[T]here is one crown in heaven which the angel Gabriel could not wear, it will fit no head but mine. There is one throne in heaven which Paul the apostle could not fill; it was made for me, and I shall have it."...

If thou believest in the Lord Jesus, if thou hast repented of sin, if thou hast been renewed in heart, thou art one of the Lord's people, and there is a place reserved for thee, a crown laid up for thee, a harp specially provided for thee. No one else shall have thy portion, it is reserved in heaven for thee, and thou shalt have it ere long, for there shall be no vacant thrones in glory when all the chosen are gathered in.

This world is not my home. I did hear a man speak once, however, stating this earth is our inheritance--- quoting "On earth as it is in heaven" and
2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (Revelation 21:2-4. ESV.)
He implored the congregation to take care and not pollute and destroy this place for it will be our dwelling, not heaven. Perhaps he meant for the thousand year reign? I'm not sure but I will post another time regarding what Grudem says, regarding this topic, in his book SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY.

"No one else shall have [my] portion" but for now I travel through this mist (James 4:14), on route to where my King and Savior wait. Has the thousand year reign already started? No, according to Grudem, this is still New Testament time. How much longer will it be until the "new Jerusalem comes out of heaven from God"? That is undisclosed to us...a part of God's concealed will. So, until then I walk the Path and enjoy the company of others as we go! One body with many parts.

(Click here for photo information.)

Friday, January 07, 2011

Living a Christ Centered Life:  To Live is Christ

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. (1Peter 3:9. ESV.)

Today, Charles Spurgeon's "Morning and Evening Daily Reading" was exactly what I needed. He stated,
From the moment of the new and celestial birth the man begins to live to Christ. Jesus is to believers the one pearl of great price, for whom we are willing to part with all that we have.... He is the pattern of our life, and the model after which we would sculpture our character. Paul's words mean more than most men think; they imply that the aim and end of his life was Christ - nay, his life itself was Jesus. In the words of an ancient saint, he did eat, and drink, and sleep eternal life. Jesus was his very breath, the soul of his soul, the heart of his heart, the life of his life. Can you say, as a professing Christian, that you live up to this idea? Can you honestly say that for you to live is Christ?

Your business - are you doing it for Christ? Is it not done for self-aggrandizement and for family advantage? Do you ask, "Is that a mean reason?" For the Christian it is. He professes to live for Christ; how can he live for another object without committing a spiritual adultery? Many there are who carry out this principle in some measure; but who is there that dare say that he hath lived wholly for Christ as the apostle did?

Yet,this alone is the true life of a Christian - its source, its sustenance, its fashion, its end, all gathered up in one word - Christ Jesus.

It is so easy for me to lose my focus. If I walk in the flesh and come across someone spewing evil and sinning against me or someone else, the burning desire is to respond in kind and vomit wickedness. But that would be foolish and unbecoming a daughter of the King. All that I say and do must be done "for Christ" not for self! If an individual makes a false statement or accusation, is my initial reply to argue my case? Of course. But why? Whose honor is at stake? Those who know me on a deep level are familiar with my heart. And everyone who is acquainted with me on a surface level will see the consistency of my behavior. So, as long as I continue to be the best version of myself possible and stay securely rooted to the Way, it will not matter if deceitfulness and slander attempt to thwart my pilgrimage. The "aim and end" of my life will be Christ.

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21. ESV.)

(Click here for photo.)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Charles Spurgeon stated,
When the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual light, and opens our eyes to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, we behold sin in its true colours, and ourselves in our real position; we see the Most Holy God as He reveals Himself, the plan of mercy as He propounds it, and the world to come as the Word describes it.

Spiritual light has many beams and prismatic colours, but whether they be knowledge, joy, holiness, or life, all are divinely good. If the light received be thus good, what must the essential light be, and how glorious must be the place where He reveals Himself. O Lord, since light is so good, give us more of it, and more of Thyself, the true light....

Light and darkness have no communion; God has divided them, let us not confound them....

In judgment, in action, in hearing, in teaching, in association, we must discern between the precious and the vile, and maintain the great distinction which the Lord made upon the world's first day. O Lord Jesus, be Thou our light throughout the whole of this day, for Thy light is the light of men.
 (Spurgeon, Charles.  Morning and Evening Daily Readings.)

Not only did God create light separate from darkness, He also made man different from angels.  Though a common belief is when we die and depart from this earth we become angels, scripture tells otherwise.

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  (Genesis 1:1.  ESV.)

So, there is reason to believe angels were part of "the heavens" on the first day of creation.  Now, I do not desire to go into the different types of angels, however I have been thinking a lot lately about how man receives God's grace and forgiveness of sin yet angels do not!  And, I cannot help feeling thankful I am a human and not an angel.  Though I wonder if angels do not receive forgiveness because they have no excuse.  They are messengers of God Himself.  How can one doubt or sin in the very presence of God?  But, I am easily deceived so again I return to being grateful for who and where I am.

Spurgeon goes on to say,
If the Lord has given you light, dear reader, He looks on that light with peculiar interest; for not only is it dear to Him as His own handiwork, but because it is like Himself, for "He is light."... He never loses sight of the treasure which He has placed in our earthen vessels.

Sometimes we cannot see the light, but God always sees the light, and that is much better than our seeing it....

It is very comfortable for me to know that I am one of God's people - but whether I know it or not, if the Lord knows it, I am still safe. This is the foundation, "The Lord knoweth them that are His." You may be sighing and groaning because of inbred sin, and mourning over your darkness, yet the Lord sees "light" in your heart, for He has put it there, and all the cloudiness and gloom of your soul cannot conceal your light from His gracious eye. You may have sunk low in despondency, and even despair; but if your soul has any longing towards Christ, and if you are seeking to rest in His finished work, God sees the "light." He not only sees it, but He also preserves it in you. "I, the Lord, do keep it." This is a precious thought to those who, after anxious watching and guarding of themselves, feel their own powerlessness to do so. The light thus preserved by His grace, He will one day develop into the splendour of noonday, and the fulness of glory. The light within is the dawn of the eternal day.

What a blessing it is to be His forgiven.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Put on the New Self, Which is Being Renewed in Knowledge After the Image of its Creator

16 So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  (2 Corinthians 4:16. ESV.)

Charles Spurgeon reminds me,

What poor starvelings some saints are who live without the diligent use of the Word of God and secret prayer! If our piety can live without God it is not of divine creating; it is but a dream; for if God had begotten it, it would wait upon Him as the flowers wait upon the dew.

Without constant restoration we are not ready for the perpetual assaults of hell, or the stern afflictions of heaven, or even for the strifes within. When the whirlwind shall be loosed, woe to the tree that hath not sucked up fresh sap, and grasped the rock with many intertwisted roots. When tempests arise, woe to the mariners that have not strengthened their mast, nor cast their anchor, nor sought the haven. If we suffer the good to grow weaker, the evil will surely gather strength and struggle desperately for the mastery over us; and so, mayhap, a painful desolation, and a lamentable disgrace may follow. Let us draw near to the footstool of divine mercy in humble entreaty, and we shall realize the fulfillment of the promise, "They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength."

Discerning Through Trials

2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  (Romans 12:2. ESV.)

Grudem instructs in his book SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY that God has a revealed will and a concealed will.  One we know because of His word.  The other might never be understood this side of heaven.  When it comes to "discerning what is the will of God" I am touched by Romans 12:2 which opens my eyes to what all is brought to light during tribulation.  It not only has to do with me directly but I feel it also involves those who are aware of the situation... "what is good and acceptable and perfect".  For example, I listen very carefully to what is said to me and actions that are made... what advice is given?  How do individuals interact with me?  Does it line up with God's word?  What if it is an effort to thwart God's work?  In reading scriptures everyday, I am able to tell what is "good", "acceptable", and "perfect" even if I do not realize it on the surface. Praise God.

The Fruit of the Spirit

I was reminded a week or so ago that a great way to read people is by their "fruit" (or lack thereof).

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.  (Galatians 5:22-26.ESV.)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Hopeless Romantic: Love Bears All Things, Believes All Things, Hopes All Things, Endures All Things

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never ends. ... (1 Corinthians 13:1-8. ESV.)

Truth be known, I am a hopeless romantic! I adore love stories---where a man and woman meet, get married, start a family (especially when the husband is the protector and the wife is nurturing and supportive...however old fashioned that might sound). It makes me want to melt. I like to watch as his face lights up each time his spouse enters his presence... how he is her knight in shining armor and she is his beloved... how he gently cares for her as the weaker (opposed to his body strength) vessel. It makes my heart hum with joy when he delights in becoming a father and takes great pride in being the head of his household. But why do I gravitate to such notions? Could it be because that is what our Father created for His precious children?

God's word does not overlook love, marriage, and parenting. I feel my King took great care in letting it be known what righteous love, a godly husband, and a wife who fears the Lord look like. They are explained in ways we can understand and imitate (because we desire to, not out of fear, obligation, peer pressure, etc.). Further, these things are beautiful to our sight and being. We are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image per His glorify Him.

Two Separate Lives or a Single Life Shared

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24. ESV.)

2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:2. ESV.)

14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? (1 Corinthians 7:14-16. ESV.)

[Submit] to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:21-33.)

In his sermon "Marriage: Pursuing Conformity to Christ in the Covenant", Pastor John Piper makes some excellent points and clears up some misconceptions. Please click here to read/listen to his message. A couple points are as follows:

Husbands Changing Wives

In Christ’s relationship to the church, he is clearly seeking the transformation of his bride into something morally and spiritually beautiful. And he is seeking it at the cost of his life. Let’s think for a moment about the implications of this passage on how a husband thinks and acts with a view to changing his wife. We will come to the wife’s desire to change her husband in a few minutes.

The first implication is that the husband, who loves like Christ, bears a unique responsibility for the moral and spiritual growth of his wife—which means that over time, God willing, there will be change.

Treading on Dangerous Ground

I realize that at this point—no matter how I come at this—I am treading on dangerous ground. I could be playing right into the hands of a selfish, small-minded, controlling husband who has no sense of the difference between enriching differences between him and his wife and moral and spiritual weaknesses or defects that should be changed. Such a man will likely distort what I am saying into a mandate to control every facet of his wife’s behavior, and the criterion of what he seeks to change will be his own selfish desires cloaked in spiritual language.

But an honest look at this text does not lead us there. It leads us to a very different attitude. Consider three observations:

1) The Husband Is Like Christ, Not Christ

The husband is like Christ, which means he is not Christ. Verse 23: “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church.” The word as does not mean that the husband is like Christ in every way. The husband is finite in strength, not omnipotent like Christ. The husband is finite and fallible in wisdom, not all-wise like Christ. The husband is sinful, not perfect like Christ. Therefore, we husbands dare not assume we are infallible. We may err in what we would like to see changed in our wives. That’s the first observation.

2) Conformity to Christ, Not to the Husband

The aim of the godly husband’s desire for change in his wife is conformity to Christ, not conformity to himself. Notice the key words in verses 26 and 27. Verse 26: that he might “sanctify her.” Verse 27: that he might present the church to himself “in splendor.” Verse 27 again: that she might be “holy.” These words imply that our desires for our wives are measured by God’s standard of holiness, not our standard of mere personal preferences.

3) Dying for the Wife

The third observation is the most important: What Paul draws attention to most amazingly is that the way Christ pursues his bride’s transformation is by dying for her. Verse 25-26: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.” This is the most radical thing that has been or could ever be said to a husband about the way he leads his wife into conformity to Christ in the covenant of marriage. Husbands, are we pursuing her conformity to Christ by lording it over her, or by dying for her? When we lead her, or even, if necessary, confront her, are we self-exalting or self-denying? Is there contempt or compassion?

If a husband is loving and wise like Christ in all these ways, his desire for his wife’s change will feel, to a humble wife, like she is being served, not humiliated. Christ clearly desires for his bride to grow in holiness. But he died to bring it about. So, brothers, govern your desire for your wife’s change by the self-denying death of Christ. May God give us the humility and the courage to measure our methods by the sufferings of Christ. (See Titus 2:14; Revelation 19:7.)

Wives Changing Husbands

Now let’s turn to the wife’s desire for her husband’s change. This is not a message about what headship and submission are. But to make the points I am making I have to touch on what headship and submission are not. I have already said that a husband’s headship is not identical to Christ’s headship. It is like it. Similarly, therefore, the wife’s submission to the husband is not identical to her submission to Christ. It is like it. When verse 22 says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord,” the word as does not mean that Christ and the husband are the same. Christ is supreme, the husband is not. Her allegiance is to Christ first, not first to her husband. The analogy only works if the woman submits to Christ absolutely, not to the husband absolutely. Then she will be in a position to submit to the husband without committing treason or idolatry.

One of the things this implies is that a wife will see the need for change in her husband. And she may and should seek the transformation of her husband, even while respecting him as her head—her leader, protector, and provider. There are several other reasons I say this.... (By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

God's word states:

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13. ESV.)

(Click here for photo.)


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