Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

This is what I will be sharing with my church family tonight:

New Year's Eve


1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. - Colossians 3:1-10 (ESV)

  1. A Time to Review our Priorities

    1. Raised with Christ?

    2. Minds set above, or on earth?

  2. A Time to Review our Position

    1. Dead

    2. Hidden with Christ in God

    3. Appearance in glory

  3. A Time to Review our Practice

    1. Put to Death:

      1. sexual immorality

      2. impurity

      3. passion

      4. evil desire

      5. covetousness

      6. idolatry

    2. Put Away:

      1. anger

      2. wrath

      3. malice

      4. slander

      5. obscene talk

    3. Recognize that we once walked and lived in these, even in this past year.

  4. A Time to be Renewed

    1. Put off the old self, put on the new

    2. Be renewed in knowledge coming from the Creator

      O Lord,

      Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed in thy presence, in thy service, to thy glory. Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour, that I may not be one moment apart from thee, but may rely on thy Spirit to supply every thought, speak in every word, direct every step, prosper every work, build up every mote of faith, and give me a desire to show forth thy praise; testify thy love, advance thy kingdom. I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year, with thee, O Father, as my harbour, thee, O Son, at my helm, thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails. Guide me to heaven with my loins girt, my lamp burning, my ear open to thy calls, my heart full of love, my soul free. Give me thy grace to sanctify me, thy comforts to cheer, thy wisdom to teach, thy right hand to guide, thy counsel to instruct, thy law to judge, thy presence to stabilize. May thy fear be my awe, thy triumphs my joy. (“New Year”, Valley of Vision, pg. 206-207)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Puritan Reading Challenge - Completed

This evening I completed the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge made by Timmy Brister. In the process I have enjoyed a wealth of devotional reading, been challenged by a 17th century worldview, and been exposed to a vision of the Holiness of God and His Providence that is sadly lacking in much contemporary writing and preaching.

Thanks Timmy for a great challenge!

Next year I will engage in my personal John Calvin Reading Plan.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sure Guide to Heaven - Obedience and Inability

Your law will I lay before me; this shall be the copy which I will keep in my eye, and study to write after. According to this rule do I resolve by Your grace to walk: after this law shall my whole man be governed. And though I cannot perfectly keep one of Your commandments—yet I will allow myself in the breach of none. I know my flesh will hang back: but I resolve, in the power of Your grace, to cleave to You and Your holy ways, whatever it cost me. (Joseph Alleine, A Sure Guide to Heaven, pg. 129)

Our inability to perform the Law in no way removes the requirement to obey.

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent - Acts 17:30, ESV

...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. - Romans 5:8-11, ESV

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
(Isaac Watts)

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

Even in my inability, His great love "demands my soul, my life, my all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Only in Texas - A Football Story

If this doesn't put a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye, then you are probably already too far gone for a doctor, and your family needs to call the undertaker.

The oddest game in High School football history.

Anyway, with the economy six feet under and Christmas running on about three and a half reindeer, it's nice to know that one of the best presents you can give is still absolutely free.


HT: Zach Nielson

Sure Guide to Heaven - Will you have this God?

To be short, He tells you, 'I am the true and faithful God. If you will have Me for your God you must be content to trust Me. Will you venture yourselves upon My Word, and depend on My faithfulness, and take My bond for your security? Will you be content to follow Me in poverty, and reproach, and affliction here; and to tarry until the next world for your preferment? Will you be content to labor and suffer, and to tarry for your returns until the resurrection of the just? My promise will not always be instantly fulfilled; will you have the patience to wait?'

Now, beloved, what do you say to this? Will you have this God for your God? Will you be content to live by faith, and trust Him for an unseen happiness, an unseen heaven, an unseen glory? Do your hearts answer, 'Lord, we will venture ourselves upon You. We commit ourselves to You, we cast ourselves upon You. We know whom we have trusted. We are willing to take Your word; we prefer Your promises before our own possessions, and the hopes of heaven before all the enjoyments of earth. We will do Your pleasure—what You will here, so that we may have but Your faithful promise for heaven hereafter.' If you can in trust, and upon deliberation, thus accept of God, He will be yours. (Joseph Alleine, A Sure Guide to Heaven, pg. 112)

Sure Guide to Heaven - Dying Well

Oh, better were it for you to die in a jail, in a ditch, in a dungeon, than to die in your sins. (pg. 92)

As John Piper reminds us, don't waste your life. What does it matter where we die, just so long as we don't die in our sins, and don't die at the end of a wasted life? It appears that we often fear death, when we should instead fear living outside of God's will. In His will we will not die one second too soon nor live one minute too long.

It might be that we will be called to suffer for Christ, but what a privilege we will miss if we seek at all cost to avoid it.

Keeping Christ in Christmas?

Is this really the best way to recognize Christ at Christmas?

Church Members Dress Like Jesus

Wouldn't it be better to act Christ-like instead of trying to look like Him?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Technology and Death

Ben Witherington describes a modern trend, and ties in some ancient history.

I now have another reason to insist on having the casket closed while preaching a funeral sermon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

22 Word Children's Story Challenge

Abraham Piper has posted a challenge to bloggers to create a 22 word children's story. Mine follows below:

The Christmas basket that Timmy's family received was a sign of the love that the church had for Timmy and his Mommy.


I think that I misunderstood the challenge. Instead of being a story for children, it might be a story about children. As a result:

Toby hit his twin brother Trevor, claiming: "I am just doing what Jesus said, 'do unto others before they do unto you'".

Additional Update:

Abraham has clarified that it can go either way. As a result, I now have both bases covered. However, with 44 words worth of stories I will probably be disqualified.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sure Guide to Heaven - A Prayer for the Lost

'O Lord God, help. Alas, shall I leave them thus? If they will not hear me—yet may You hear me. O that they might live in Your sight! Lord, save them—or they perish. My heart would melt to see their houses on fire when they were fast asleep in their beds; and shall not my soul be moved within me to see them falling into endless perdition? Lord, have compassion, and save them out of the burning. Put forth Your divine power—and the work will be done!' (pg. 67, A Sure Guide to Heaven, by Joseph Alleine)

Sure Guide to Heaven - Arise then!

Arise then! What do you mean, O sleeper? Awake, O secure sinner, lest you be consumed in your iniquities! Say, as the lepers, 'If we sit here, we shall die!' (2 Kings 7:3-4). Truly, it is not more certain that you are now out of hell, than that you shall speedily be in it—unless you repent and be converted. There is but this one door for you to escape by. Arise then, O sluggard, and shake off your excuses; how long will you slumber and fold your hands to sleep? Will you lie down in the midst of the sea, or sleep on the top of a mast? (Prov 23:34). There is no remedy—but you must either turn or burn! There is an unchangeable necessity of the change of your condition, unless you have resolved to abide the worst of it, and fight it out with the Almighty. If you love your life, O man, arise and come away. I think I see the Lord Jesus laying the merciful hands of a holy violence upon you; I think He acts like the angels to Lot: "Hurry," they said to Lot. "Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out of here right now, or you will be caught in the destruction of the city." When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful. "Run for your lives!" the angels warned. "Do not stop anywhere in the valley. And don't look back! Escape to the mountains, or you will die." Genesis 19:15-17 (Gen 19:15-17). (pg. 65-66, A Sure Guide to Heaven, by Joseph Alleine)

Sure Guide to Heaven - No Purpose

You are to no purpose. Unconverted man is like a choice instrument, which has every string broken or out of tune. The Spirit of the living God must repair and tune it by the grace of regeneration, and sweetly move it by the power of actuating grace, or else your prayers will be but howlings, and all your service will make no music in the ears of the Most Holy. All your powers and faculties are so corrupt in your natural state that, except you be purged from dead works, you cannot serve the living God. (pg. 52, A Sure Guide to Heaven, Joseph Alleine)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Not Guilty Anymore

So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more. - Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. - Romans 8:1 (ESV)

HT: Ray Ortlund

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sure Guide to Heaven - Soundly Converted and Hating Sin

In this age of "easy believism" and "decisional regeneration" it is important that we consider what true, Biblical, Holy Spirit led, new birth, conversion really looks like.

One of the marks of true conversion, as demonstrated by Joseph Alleine in A Sure Guide to Heaven, is an aversion to and repulsion of sin:

The sound convert is heartily engaged against sin. He struggles with it, he wars against it; he is too often foiled—but he will never yield the cause, nor lay down the weapons, while he has breath in his body. He will make no peace; he will give no quarter. He can forgive his other enemies, he can pity them and pray for them; but here he is implacable, here he is set upon their extermination. He hunts as it were for the precious life; his eye shall not pity, his hand shall not spare, though it be a right hand or a right eye. Be it a gainful sin, most delightful to his nature or the support of his esteem with worldly friends—yet he will rather throw his gain down into the gutter, see his credit fail, or the flower of his pleasure wither in his hand—than he will allow himself in any known way of sin. He will grant no indulgence, he will give no toleration. He draws upon sin wherever he meets it, and frowns upon it with this unwelcome salute, 'Have I found you, O my enemy!' ( pg. 38-39)

Do we fight sin even when our worldly interest would be threatened by the fight?

Friday, December 5, 2008


Here are a couple of items of interest.

First, a chart showing the various millennial views.

Second, a chart describing amillennialism.

(both of these links will result in .pdf downloads.)

*Eschatology - The study of the end times.

Sure Guide to Heaven - Introduction

It is difficult to believe that we have almost come to the end of the Puritan Reading Challenge originally suggested by Timmy Brister. December's book is A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine. Originally published in 1671 as An Alarme to Unconverted sinners...Whereunto are Annexed Divers Practical Cases of Conscience Judiciously Resolved, this work has undergone numerous printings over the ensuing centuries, most recently as the Banner of Truth Puritan Paperback being read this month with the shorter title.

Timmy Brister has already posted the biographical material for Joseph Alleine found in Beeke's Meet the Puritans, so I won't repeat it here. Suffice it to say that Alleine suffered many of the same difficulties encountered by faithful ministers following the 1662 Act of Uniformity.

Unlike some of the earlier Puritan books read this year, this work is a page turner, and I am already way ahead of my reading plan for this month. To demonstrate the beauty of this work I note a couple of excerpts from my reading so far:

And had you not better, O sinner, let the Word convince you now in time, and let go your false and self-deluding hopes, than have death open your eyes too late, and find yourself in hell before you are aware?

I would be a false and faithless shepherd if I would not tell you, that you who have built your hopes upon no better grounds than these before mentioned, are yet in your sins! Let conscience speak. What have you to plead for yourselves? Is it that you wear Christ's livery; that you bear His name; that you are a member of the visible church; that you have knowledge in the points of religion, are civilized, perform religious duties, are just in your dealings, have been troubled in conscience for your sins? I tell you from the Lord, these pleas will never be accepted at God's bar. All this, though good in itself, will not prove you converted, and so will not suffice to your salvation. O look to it, and resolve to turn speedily and entirely. Study your own hearts; do not rest until God has made thorough work with you; for you must be converted men, or else you are lost men. (pg 23-24)

O repent and be converted, break off your sins by righteousness. Away to Christ for pardoning and renewing grace. Give up yourselves to Him, to walk with Him in holiness, or you shall never see God. O that you would heed the warnings of God! In His name I once more admonish you. Turn you at my reproof. Forsake the foolish, and live. Be sober, righteous, and godly. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you double-minded. Cease to do evil, learn to do well (Prov 1:23 and Prov 9:6; Titus 2:12; James 4:8; Isa 1:16-17). But if you will go on, you must die. (pg. 24-25)

You begin at the wrong end if you first dispute about your election. Prove your conversion, and then never doubt your election. If you cannot yet prove it, set upon a present and thorough turning. Whatever God's purposes be, which are secret, I am sure His promises are plain. How desperately do rebels argue! 'If I am elected I shall be saved, do what I will. If not, I shall be damned, do what I can.' Perverse sinner, will you begin where you should end? Is not the word before you? What says it? 'Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.' 'If you mortify the deeds of the body you shall live.' 'Believe and be saved' (Acts 3:19; Rom 8:13; Acts 16:31). What can be plainer? Do not stand still disputing about your election—but set to repenting and believing. Cry to God for converting grace. Revealed things belong to you; in these busy yourself. It is just, as one well said, that they who will not feed on the plain food of the Word should be choked with the bones. Whatever God's purposes may be, I am sure His promises are true. Whatever the decrees of heaven may be, I am sure that if I repent and believe, I shall be saved; and that if I do not repent, I shall be damned. Is not this plain ground for you; and will you yet run upon the rocks? (pg. 30)

The Gospel

In addition to my Puritan reading, I have been busy reading other important books all year long. If you look at the side bar list of "Recent Reading" you will note that my reading this year has been far from eclectic, with most of it being Christian works, both old and new.

One book that I am reading right now is a small treatise entitled "What is a Healthy Church Member?" by Thabiti M. Anyabwile (go ahead, and say his name 5 times quickly!). Brother Thabiti is the pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman, having presently served with Mark Dever. His blog is a must read, and is found at Pure Church.

As I was reading this morning I came across a couple of gems that should be read by all Christians. In a chapter entitled "A Healthy Church Member is Gospel Saturated", Bro. Thabiti begins:

The greatest need in the world today is the gospel. It is the greatest need of the world because men, women, and children are perishing without a vital knowledge of God through the good news of our Savior and his Son, Jesus.

The greatest need in the church today is the gospel. the gospel is not olnly news for a perishing world, it is the message that forms, sustains, and animates the church. Apart from the gospel, the church has nothing to say - that is, nothing to say that cannot be said by some other human agency. The gospel distinguishes the church from the world, defines her message and mission in the world, and steels her people against the fiery darts of the evil one and the false allurements of sin. The gospel is absolutely vital to a vibrant, joyous, persevering, hopeful, and healthy Christian and Christian church. So essential is the gospel to the Christian life that we need to be saturated in it in order to be healthy church members. (pg. 39)

Wow, just wow!

And then, if there are any questions as to what the Gospel is, he gives this definition:

The gospel or good news of Jesus Christ is that God the Father, who is holy and righteous in all his ways, is angry with sinners and will punish sin. Man, who disobeys the rule of God, is alienated from the love of God and is in danger of an eternal and agonizing condemnation at the hands of God. But God, who is also rich in mercy, because of his great love, sent his eternal Son born of the Virgin Mary, to die as a ransom and a substitute for the sins of rebellious people. And now, through the perfect obedience of the Son of God, and his willing death on the cross as payment for our sins, all who repent and believe in Jesus Christ, following him as Savior and Lord, will be saved from the wrath of God to come, be declared just in his sight, have eternal life, and receive the Spirit of God as a foretaste of the glories of heaven with God himself. (pg 40-41)

By way of comparison, take note of what I posted earlier where Baxter gives his Summary of Christian Religion. While Baxter goes into more detail related to redemptive history, we see that Bro. Thabiti has given us all of the essentials of the Gospel message.

May we continue to preach this glorious Gospel to ourselves and to lost sinners as we marvel at God's grace.

The Reformed Pastor - Conclusion

I am a bit late in posting this final post related to November's reading, but wanted to conclude with a question:

Does anyone know of a source for inexpensive printed copies of Spurgeon's "A Puritan Catechism"?

Baxter made quite an argument for the systematic use of catechisms for the development of healthy believers, and I am certain that he used some form of the Westminster Catechism. However, as a Baptist, there is some content in that document that would be problematic. I believe that this is what led C.H. Spurgeon to publish his catechism for use in Baptist churches.

Searching and other internet vendors shows that this catechism has been printed in the past, but it appears to be out of print at present. If I could find a source to purchase this catechism in booklet form for a couple of bucks each I would order 40 or 50 for immediate use. If nothing like this is available I will probably format the content into a .pdf document, and then get it printed, and probably spiral bound for durability. However, this is probably going to cost somewhere in the order of $5 or more each.

So, if you know of a source, or want to start printing an inexpensive version, or just want to offer some suggestions for a solution that I have not considered, pleas edrop me a note. Thanks.