31 January 2009

Psalm 2

As we prepare our hearts for worship tomorrow perhaps we can can meditate on the following...
Psalm 2
1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

I never thought of this...

I never thought of this but it must be true. Jesus came to save the Hamburglar, too. Read more at the DeYoung, Restless and Reformed blog.

27 January 2009

Checking Your Manhood

Gary Yagel has authored an insightful article that is posted on the PCA’s website and here at his own. The subject of men in church, or lack of men in church to be more precise, always interests me and should interest you as well. Men are called to lead the church and family, not because they are better, stronger or more intelligent, but simply because God has deemed it so. When the numbers of men attending church are both visually and statistically declining, we need to take notice and take action. Yagel asserts that men need to be understood when he tells us…The loss of the biblical understanding of “disciple” has everything to do with the failure of today’s church to reach men. Men are hardwired for mission. They want to invest their lives in a great cause. Men are drawn to the chance to prove their loyalty and to a challenge that requires making personal sacrifices for a great cause. It is astounding how precisely God has hardwired the male heart to respond to the great cause of Christ’s kingdom. There is no greater mission than to be a part of God’s great redemption of the cosmos, being the first fruits of the new creation, putting the values of the kingdom on display in our own lives, and invading every square inch of planet earth with the values and gospel of the kingdom of Christ . But we are failing to make that connection for men. Yagel continues, When we think missionally, we realize that 21st-century America is sweeping men into a fast moving river of isolation. Studies show that 19 out of 20 men have no best friend inside the church, and male isolation is even worse among non-believers. Unless we help Christian men overcome their American male independence, and challenge them to become intentional about finding a few brothers for encouragement and accountability, their connection in the body will fall far short of what our Lord commands and what He teaches is necessary to grow as disciples. I think Yagel nails it here.

So what is the answer? Yagel asserts discipleship through relationships. Our Lord’s instruction about how to make disciples is a strategy that is exceptionally effective with men. It has two parts. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, 1) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and 2) teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Sacraments are outward, physical signs that point to inward spiritual realities. Baptism, in part, points to our connection to one another in the covenant community. Disciples are made, Jesus tells us, through connection with other members of the body of Christ. The greenhouse for spiritual growth is the body of Christ. Jesus called the original 12 disciples not only into a vertical relationship with Him, but into a horizontal relationship with each other.

Yagel powerfully concludes with the following, Above almost everything, men want to win. They yearn for respect. They fear failure, and are driven to succeed. They fear others finding out what is going on in their private world where they often feel inadequate and ashamed of their secret sins.

Into this masculine story, we must bring the transforming gospel of the kingdom. It is a real story where the perfect man, Jesus Christ, accomplishes a great feat (the redemption of the world) against overwhelming odds (all the power of Satan’s forces arrayed against Him), defeating a powerful foe (the tyrants, Satan, sin, and death), winning a beautiful woman in the process (Christ’s bride, the Church), and then riding in the front chariot in the victory parade (when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord).

We are called to follow Him in the redemption of this world, taking it back through His resurrection power, knowing that the kingdom only grows through sacrifice—a principle established by the sacrifice of Himself at the cross. Transformed by Christ, we are called to the noble task of laying down our lives for our wives, day in and day out. And we are called into a community, fighting shoulder to shoulder, encouraging each other, living out the same level of loyalty to one another and to the High King that Jonathan and David experienced together. That is what fulfilled masculinity looks like and it is a message the missional church must proclaim

So, what's happening with the men in your church?

24 January 2009

Jeremiah 17:5-8

For the last two weeks the men's discipleship group at my church has been meditating on Jeremiah 17:5-8. In light of all the media attention given to the inauguration as well as some personal things happening in my life (as things happen in every one's lives) these verses were very timely in God's Providence. I'm going to finish off this weekend ruminating on the verses and being thankful. Thoughts on these verses anyone?

Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
Jeremiah 17:5-8

21 January 2009

Morning Dedication

Morning Dedication

Almighty God, as I cross the threshold of this day I commit myself, soul, body, affairs, friends, to Thy care. Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me. Incline my heart to thy ways. Mould me wholly into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay. May my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound Thy praise. Let those around see me living by Thy Spirit, trampling the world underfoot, unconformed to lying vanities, transformed by a renewed mind, clad in the entire armour of God, shining as a never-dimmed light, showing holiness in all my doings. Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, hands. May I travel miry paths with a life pure from spot or stain. In needful transactions let my affection be in heaven, and my love soar upwards in flames of fire, my gaze fixed on unseen things, my eyes open to the emptiness, fragility, mockery of earth and its vanities. May I view all things in the mirror of eternity, waiting for the coming of my Lord, listening for the last trumpet call, hastening unto the new heaven and earth. Order this day all my communications according to Thy wisdom, and to the gain of mutual good. Forbid that I should not be profited or made profitable. May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one. If my life should end today, let this be my best day.

19 January 2009

O Worship The King

There are times when nothing else can get it for us but a hymn. Yesterday was just such an occasion for me as we sang O Worship the King during Lord's Day worship. I've been humming this wonderful hymn & ruminating on its lyrics ever since. Can't remember it or not sure of all the lyrics? Here it is for us to ponder as we start this new work week. Thanks to the good folks at Cyberhymnal for making the lyrics so easily available.

O worship the King, all glorious above,
O gratefully sing His power and His love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space,
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty, Thy power hath founded of old;
Established it fast by a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.

O measureless might! Ineffable love!
While angels delight to worship Thee above,
The humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall all sing Thy praise.

17 January 2009

Encouraging Words For These Difficult Days

John Piper is always so encouraging and this short video is no different. So many of us read his blog that it maybe somewhat pointless to post this again but I'd wouldn't like anyone to miss this. Watch it, think about it and go to God in prayer about it. Have a great weekend and a blessed Lord's Day everyone.

08 January 2009

Battling Your Doubt and Fear

If you missed Jared Wilson's post on Battling Doubt let me recommend it to you. It's worth a read. His five points are:

1. Concentrate on the historical fact of the cross.
2. Do not seek refuge or advice with those who would shame you for doubting as if they never did.
3. Pray. Or, more specifically, hurl yourself at God.
4. Re-focus your doubts toward your own failings and inability. Doubt yourself, in other words.
5. Read your Bible. More specifically, meditate on Scriptural promises related to your area of doubt.

Permit me to quote him entirely on his fourth point. It should speak volumes to us:

4. Re-focus your doubts toward your own failings and inability. Doubt yourself, in other words.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.-- 1 Corinthians 1:25

This is counter-intuitive to some, and it sounds like bad advice in this age of “Believe in yourself” and self-help and the therapeutic gospel of human potential, but we will not believe God more fully until we despair of ourselves more fully.

In this sense, the counter-attack is not to “stop doubting God” – telling someone awash in doubt to simply “stop doubting” is like telling a drowning man to thrash harder – but to start doubting yourself. It is telling a drowning man to stop thrashing, to doubt his own ability to thrash his way into safety. And in fact, when a drowning man relaxes and stops “fighting,” giving up trust in his ability to save himself, his rescuer is better able to swim him to safety.

If you think God can’t be trusted, think about yourself. How together are you? How well do YOU have it figured out? How in control are you? How are your plans coming together for a great life? How is “following your heart,” which is deceitful above all things, working out for you?

If we are honest with ourselves, we will realize our utter dependence and feebleness. And when we doubt ourselves, we are ready to trust God.
He must become greater; I must become less.-- John 3:30

Thanks Jared for a great post. A Godly reminder for us all!

07 January 2009

David Clarkson on Worship

What you do in public worship, do it with all your might. Shake off that slothful, indifferent, lukewarm temper, which is so odious to God...Think it not enough to present your bodies before the lord...The worship of the body is but the carcass of worship; it is soul worship that is the soul of worship. Those that draw near with their lips, only shall find God far enough from them: not only lips, and mouth, and tongue, but mind, and heart, and affections; not only knee, and hand, and eye, but heart, and conscience, and memory, must be pressed to attend upon God in public worship. David says, not only "my flesh longs for Thee," but "my soul thirsts for Thee." Then will the Lord draw near, when our whole man waits on Him; then will the Lord be found, when we seek Him with our whole heart. - From the Works of David Clarkson, vol iii, pgs. 193-194.

01 January 2009

Happy Hogmanay and Reading Calvin Part Two

If you don't want to join the guys over at Ref21 reading Calvin through the year there is another way. The team at Princeton Theological Seminary are reading through Calvin as well. Check it out here. Or, you can cut right to the chase and downlaod the .pdf file with the reading schedule at this link. Don't have the Institutes? Click below to check out what Amazon has and get started reading Calvin this year!

Happy Hogmanay!