Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Inauguration Highlight

Update: 1/23

Now we find out that this performance was the instrumental equivalent of a "Milli Vanilli lip sync". Wasn't there a ruckus made last year when the Chicoms did the same thing during the opening ceremony for the Olympics?

And to think that I thought that it was the best thing to happen during the coronation inauguration. Silly me, the whole thing was phony.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Prayers for a New President

Especially since inauguration prayers have been much in the news lately there have been a number of prayers for the new President posted on the internet in various blogs that I frequent. A few have been poor, some have been fair, many of them have been very good, but this one is the best I have yet seen.

"Lord, our greatest desire is not that the economy would be righted, or that health care would be solved, or that the war in Iraq would be resolved. We want to see You glorified in whatever way you choose. Glorify Yourself through Barack Obama. We pray that four years from now more people would know and love you because Barack Obama was in office."

No, we can't

Just a reminder this morning that we cannot trust ourselves, or any other man, to be anything other than a wretched sinner in need of a Savior:

9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:9-26, ESV)

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's not about you...

C. Micheal Patton shares why Christianity is not dependent upon your character.

"Thankfully, God did not confine the validation of his message to the character witness of sinners. If he did, we are all in trouble. Why? Because your character is grossly lacking."

"Arrow" Prayers

Yet as ancient, excellent, and helpful as this prayer pattern* is, it hinders our devotion if it causes us to doubt that we can speak to our heavenly father as readily, spontaneously, and familiarly as does the Son with whose voice we pray.

Often people ask me to pray for specific needs. I always promise to do so despite my faulty memory and the number of requests. I make the promise because I learned from a mature pastor to send an "arrow prayer" to heaven even as I speak to the person making the request. I cannot model these arrow prayers after the A-C-T-S pattern; they are more the reflexes of my spirit affirming the most basic requests: "Yes, Lord, please help Ginny find her way"; "Watch over John during his surgery"; "Give Marge and Steve your wisdom as they speak to Jerry." My prayers in these moments are not very elegant, but I do not believe God minds. He is more concerned to hear my prayers than to grade their form.

Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus' Name, by Bryan Chapell, pg. 94-95

I imagine that there were a number of these "arrow prayers" voiced on US Air flight 1549 yesterday.

*Chapell's description of the A-C-T-S (Adoration-Confession-Thanksgiving-Supplication) prayer acrostic and demonstration of its antiquity as shown in a quote from Origen.

Christ is All in All

Our union with Christ influences every dimension of the Christian life. When we worship, Christ is not only the audience of our songs, but through his Spirit he is also the singer (Eph. 5:18-20). When his servants preach, he is not only the witness of the sermon but the proclaimer (2 Cor 4:5-7; 5:20; 2 Tim 4:1-2). When we serve, he is not only the object of our service but the enabler (Phil. 4:13). When we pray, he is not only the Lord whom we seek but the One who speaks.

Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus' Name, by Bryan Chapell, pg. 88

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


The good the Spirit most desires for us is our transformation into Christ's likeness (Rom. 8:29). He desires for the affections, desires, and ambitions of the Savior to be ours. God knows that when our heart beats in rhythm with his, his greatest joys are ours. We are never richer than when we are emptied of earthly ambitions and fulfilled by Christ's desires. We are never more satisfied than when we are content with his plan for our lives. We know no greater peace than when we are confident his love hedges our lives so that nothing enters except that which makes us more like the Son whom the heavenly Father cherishes. In short, when we have no greater desire than for Jesus to be glorified in us, he grants us the desires of our heart.

Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus' Name, by Bryan Chapell, pg. 75

Thursday, January 8, 2009

No Fool

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

Jim Elliot, October 8, 1927 - January 8, 1956

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


James exhorts us to pray for sick persons with this promise: "the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up" (James 5:15). How can we offer such a prayer in faith when we know of faithful Christians with seriously ill loved ones? Begin by believing that God always answers this prayer too.

Lest you think that I have put God in a box and am proposing to put all doctors out of business, consider the careful wording of the Bible: "And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each others and pray for the other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:15-16). In the original language James says literally that the Lord will "save" (sōzō) the sick person and will "raise him up." The Bible uses these words elsewhere to refer to spiritual salvation and resurrection, not simply to physical healing (see Luke 19:10; 1 Cor. 1:21; 6:14; 2 Cor. 4:14; Heb. 7:25)

James makes the spiritual connection even clearer by including the command to confess sins as part of the process of praying for healing. God's ultimate purpose is to secure the eternal health of the one who is sick. Whether the illness is a consequence of unconfessed sin or unhealed disease, the ultimate aim of the healing prayer is the spiritual security of the sick person whom God will "save" and "raise up." Note that James promises not merely the healing of the disease through faithful prayer but also the healing of sin: "If he has sinned, he will be forgiven." James is preeminently concerned about saving (in the spiritual sense) the sick person.

Of course, the Lord can heal physical illness, and most of the time he does. I have not died of the many infections, genetic weaknesses, and accidents that are as typical of my life as they are yours. I have prayed for God to heal those stricken with desease, damaged in crashes, and endangered in delivery. After these prayers God has healed many times. God commands us to pray for the sick, and most of the time he does heal. Every moment that my white corpuscles fend off disease, that my immune system staves off internal collapse, and that my path providentially takes me away from countless unseen catastrophes, God answers prayer for my well-being. God may use the natural processes of our body, the blessed insights of modern medicine, of the miraculous intervention of his Spirit to heal. Each is a blessing of his hand for those who understand that no medicine or miracle benefits us apart from his power.

Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus' Name, by Bryan Chapell, pgs. 58-59

Friday, January 2, 2009

O Church, Arise!

1 Shout with joy to God, all the earth!

2 Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious!

3 Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.

4 All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing praise to your name."

Psalm 66:1-4 (ESV)

HT: The Sacred Sandwich

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Today's Grace Gem

A sober reminder on this January 1st:

When they awake in hell!

(Arthur Pink, "Present Day Evangelism")

If "modern evangelism" is weighed in the balances of Holy Writ, it will be found lacking; lacking that which is vital to genuine conversion, lacking what is essential if sinners are to be shown their need of a Savior, lacking that which will produce the transformed lives of new creatures in Christ Jesus.

The "evangelism" of the day is not only superficial to the last degree—but it is radically defective. It is utterly lacking a foundation on which to base an appeal for sinners to come to Christ. There is not only a lamentable lack of proportion (the mercy of God being made far more prominent than His holiness, His love than His wrath)—but there is a fatal omission of that which God has given for the purpose of imparting a knowledge of sin. There is not only a reprehensible introducing of humorous witticisms and entertaining anecdotes—but there is a studied omission of dark background upon which alone the Gospel can effectively shine forth.

In twentieth-century evangelism, there has been a woeful ignoring of the solemn truth of the total depravity of man. There has been a complete underrating of the desperate case and condition of the sinner. Very few indeed have faced the unpalatable fact—that every man is thoroughly corrupt by nature, that he is completely unaware of his own wretchedness, blind and helpless, and dead in trespasses and sins! Because such is his case, because his heart is filled with enmity against God—it follows that no man can be saved without the special and supernatural intervention of God.

The teaching of Holy Writ on this point is unmistakable: man's plight is such that his salvation is impossible, unless God puts forth His almighty power. No stirring of the emotions by anecdotes, no regaling of the senses by music, no oratory of the preacher, no persuasive appeals—are of the slightest avail. None but the Holy Spirit can make him willing in the day of His power (Psalm 110:3). He alone can produce godly sorrow for sin, and saving faith in the Gospel. He alone can make us not love ourselves first and foremost, and bring us into subjection to the Lordship of Christ.

But serious indeed as is the above indictment, worse still is that which is being retailed by the cheap-jack evangelists of the day. The positive content of their message is nothing but a throwing of dust in the eyes of the sinner. His soul is put to sleep by the devil's opiate, ministered in a most unsuspecting form. Those who really receive the "message" which is now being given out from most of the "orthodox" pulpits and platforms today—are being fatally deceived. It is a way which seems right unto a man—but unless God sovereignly intervenes by a miracle of grace, all who follow it will surely find, that the ends thereof are the ways of death! Tens of thousands who confidently imagine that they are bound for heaven—will get a terrible disillusionment, when they awake in hell!

What is the Gospel? Is the Gospel a message of glad tidings from heaven to make God-defying rebels at ease in their wickedness? Is it given for the purpose of assuring the pleasure-crazy young people that, providing they only "believe," there is nothing for them to fear in the future? One would certainly think so, from the way in which the Gospel is presented—or rather perverted, by most of today's 'evangelists'! And the more so, when we look at the lives of their 'converts'! Surely those with any degree of spiritual discernment, must perceive that to assure such 'converts' that God loves them and His Son died for them, and that a full pardon for all their sins (past, present and future) can be obtained by simply 'accepting Christ as their personal Savior'—is but a casting of pearls before swine! Because the churches are so largely filled with these 'converts', explains why they are so unspiritual and worldly.