Friday, March 27, 2009

Our Daily Portion

"Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes--and he dined regularly in the presence of the king of Babylon for the rest of his life. As for his allowance, a regular allowance was given to him by the king, a portion for each day, for the rest of his life." 2 Kings 25:29-30

Jehoiachin was not sent away from the king's palace with a 'supply' to last him for months, but his provision was given him as a daily pension. Herein he well pictures the happy position of all the Lord's people. A daily portion is all that a man really needs. We do not need tomorrow's portion; for that day has not yet dawned, and its needs are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet. If we have enough for each day as the days arrive, we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy.

We cannot eat or wear more than the day's supply of food and clothing. Any surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveler, but a bundle of staffs is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy. Enough is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this is ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more, we should be content with His daily allowance.

Jehoiachin's case is ours--we have . . .

a sure portion;
a portion given to us by the King;
a gracious portion;
and a perpetual portion.

Here is sure ground for thankfulness.

Beloved Christian, in matters of grace, you need a daily supply. You have no store of grace. Day by day must you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that a daily portion is provided for you. In the Word, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God, you shall receive renewed grace and strength. In Jesus, all needful things are laid up for you. Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy! Enjoy your continual allowance!

"Give us each day our daily bread." Luke 11:3

"As your days, so shall your strength be." Deuteronomy 33:25

- C. H. Spurgeon

What about Tatoos?

"You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord." (Lev. 19:28); "All things are lawful but not all things are profitable; all things are lawful, but not all things edify." (1 Cor. 10:23)

Tattoos are a growing "art collection" for over 45 million people -- even the 50 year old "Totally Stylin" Barbie comes complete with attachable tattoos. One out of every three adults under 35 has one, and over 75 percent of people would get one if it was the right art. Body piercings are even higher.

So why is God against them -- or is He? Here are three considerations to take before hanging a picture on your body:

First, tattoos are lawful -- as long as they don’t represent a participation in idolatry, which is the context of the Leviticus passage. Cutting the body, rounding off the beard (vs. 27), and tattoos were pagan rites and rituals that sought to appease the gods on the departure of loved ones. Few, if any, today get a tattoo for those reasons. But if there's an idol attached, consider it scratched.

Second, tattoos must be profitable -- and this doesn't mean making money as a tattoo artist. Think before you ink. Will my tattoo, even a "Christian" one, glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31) or am I simply getting one to look cool around others -- or worse, getting the "tramp stamp" to be sexy? Will this help or hinder my modest appearance (1 Tim. 2:9)? Anyone can say they’ve prayed about it, but being profitable means you can show a return on being an ambassador for Christ with the body God has given you (Matt. 25:20-21; Rom. 14:23).

Third, they must be edifying. Will my tattoo cause a weaker brother/sister to follow my course of action for which they have no faith (1 Cor. 8:10-12)? While no man is our master when it comes to tattoos (1 Cor. 7:23), every man is our mission when it comes to service (1 Cor. 9:19-23). Neglect that principle and you’re disqualified from the race (1 Cor. 9:26).

Advice? Don't get one if you haven't, and don't fret if you have. While tattoos, in my opinion, close more doors for the gospel than they open, they also can become a helpful reminder to others of what not to do. You’re called to be holy -- embrace the separation (2 Cor. 6:14-18; 1 Pet. 2:9). After all, if anyone asks, tell them you already have a "tattoo" -- "Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads" (Rev. 14:1).

- Mark Lacour

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Eye of Faith

"We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:18

In our Christian pilgrimage it is well, for the most part, to be looking forward. Forward lies the crown and onward is the goal. Whether it is for hope, for joy, for consolation, or for the inspiring of our love, the future must, after all, be the grand object of the eye of faith!

Looking into the future, the Christian sees sin cast out, the body of sin and death destroyed, the soul made perfect, and fit to be a partaker of eternal glory. Looking further yet, the believer's enlightened eye can see death's river passed. He sees himself enter within the pearly gates, hailed as more than conqueror, crowned by the hand of Christ, embraced in the arms of Jesus, glorified with Him, and
made to sit together with Him on His throne!

Contemplation of my glorious future may well relieve the darkness of the past and the gloom of the present! The joys of heaven will surely compensate for the sorrows of earth!

Hush, hush, my fears! Death is but a narrow stream and you shall soon have forded it! Death--how brief! Immortality--how endless! Time--how short! Eternity--how long! The road is so, so short! I shall soon be there!

"In the future, there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day; and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing!"
2 Timothy 4:8

- C. H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

When I'm Down in the Dumps

There is really only one direction to look when you are cast down and really in the dumps, whether it is discouragement or deeper depression.

1. Don't Look Within

This is often the biggest mistake and what causes one to sink down in the beginning; you surely don't want to look within, but we often do, to our own detriment, thus delaying coming out of the pit of discouragement.

2. Don't Look Outward

By this, I mean that do not focus on what is happening around you; you do not want to look outward, focusing on the circumstances, pressures, and outward situation you find yourself in. That will in no way help you, but will only drag you down deeper.

Instead, there is a clear path to take--a choice to make-- once you realize you are down or are sinking down in the valley, with the clouds of despondency gathering around you like a fog, and you are neutralized and unable to even know what to do.

3. Look Upward

The only way to look is up, that is to God the Father, to Christ the Saviour, to heaven, from whence comes our help always, in every situation, regardless of the circumstances or how deeply one is cast down.

Here are some things that can always help in this regard.

1. Pour Out

Get alone, away from everyone; then pour out your feelings honestly to your dear friend and only Helper, Jesus your compassionate Saviour. Tell Him all you feel--tell Him exactly how you feel, no matter how painful it is to be that honest. Pour it out, ugliness and all, feelings and all, struggles and all; hold nothing back--pour it all out to the only one who can ultimately help you out of it. Tell the Saviour--come to Him and bring with you all your words.

2. Pour Over

Get alone away from everyone for at least 2 hours, then open the Bible and ask God to give you exactly what you need to help you; then begin to pour over the Word of God for several hours, reading it slowly, praying back to the Lord anything that speaks to you; stay there and keep doing it until light arises in your mind and comfort begins to come to your heart. David, in Ps. 119, said that the Scriptures were his counselors. Do we need other people at times to counsel us? Yes, but we first need the Bible as our counselor. It addresses anything we can be going through. Pour over it, praying it, taking it in, renewing your mind to it, until help begins to come.

3. Look Deliberately

Look deliberately and consciously to Christ alone, away from yourself, away from your circumstances, and focus on Him; He has the answers, the wisdom, the counsel, the help, the relief, the directions, the encouragement that He alone can provide.

If we learn to make Him our refuge, we will find help more regularly and much quicker. If we don't, we won't.

- Mack T.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Life of a Christian

O soul, consider this deeply: it is the life of a Christian that carries more conviction and persuasion than his words. Even if you, like an angel, talk of Christ, of the gospel, of the doctrines of grace, and of heaven, yet if you indulge devilish tempers, and live under the power of any sinful lusts and passions, you will hereby harden others against the things of God and prevent their setting out in the ways of God. Study and pray to be a consistent walker in the ways of holiness; otherwise, all is but windy profession and airy talk. O, how much harm is done to Christ's cause by the unholy walk of many professors!

- John Bunyan

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Never Out of Reach of Temptation

"One evening David got up from his bed and strolled around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing, a very beautiful woman." 2 Samuel 11:2

At that hour David saw Bathsheba. We are never out of the reach of temptation! Both at home and abroad, we are liable to meet with allurements to evil. The morning opens with peril and the shadows of evening find us still in jeopardy. They are well kept whom God keeps! But woe unto those who go forth into the world, or even dare to walk their own house unarmed. Those who think themselves secure are more exposed to danger than any others. The armor-bearer of sin is self-confidence.

David should have been engaged in fighting the Lord's battles, instead of which he tarried at Jerusalem, and gave himself up to luxurious repose, for he arose from his bed in the evening. Idleness and luxury are the devil's jackals, and find him abundant prey. In stagnant waters, noxious creatures swarm. Neglected soil soon yields a dense tangle of weeds and briers. Oh for the constraining love of Jesus to keep us active and useful!

When I see the King of Israel sluggishly leaving his couch at the close of the day, and falling at once into temptation, let me take warning, and set holy watchfulness to guard the door! Is it possible that the king had mounted his housetop for prayer and devotion? If so, what a caution is given us to count no place, however secret, as a sanctuary from sin!

While our hearts are so like a tinder-box, and sparks so plentiful, we had need use all diligence in all places to prevent a blaze. Satan can climb housetops and enter closets! And even if we could shut out that foul fiend, our own corruptions are enough to work our ruin unless God's grace prevents it.

Reader, beware of evening temptations. Be not secure. The sun is down, but sin is up. We need a watchman for the night as well as a guardian for the day. O blessed Spirit, keep us from all evil this day and this night.

- C. H. Spurgeon

Never Out of Reach of Temptation

"One evening David got up from his bed and strolled around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing, a very beautiful woman." 2 Samuel 11:2

At that hour David saw Bathsheba. We are never out of the reach of temptation! Both at home and abroad, we are liable to meet with allurements to evil. The morning opens with peril and the shadows of evening find us still in jeopardy. They are well kept whom God keeps! But woe unto those who go forth into the world, or even dare to walk their own house unarmed. Those who think themselves secure are more exposed to danger than any others. The armor-bearer of sin is self-confidence.

David should have been engaged in fighting the Lord's battles, instead of which he tarried at Jerusalem, and gave himself up to luxurious repose, for he arose from his bed in the evening. Idleness and luxury are the devil's jackals, and find him abundant prey. In stagnant waters, noxious creatures swarm. Neglected soil soon yields a dense tangle of weeds and briers. Oh for the constraining love of Jesus to keep us active and useful!

When I see the King of Israel sluggishly leaving his couch at the close of the day, and falling at once into temptation, let me take warning, and set holy watchfulness to guard the door! Is it possible that the king had mounted his housetop for prayer and devotion? If so, what a caution is given us to count no place, however secret, as a sanctuary from sin!

While our hearts are so like a tinder-box, and sparks so plentiful, we had need use all diligence in all places to prevent a blaze. Satan can climb housetops and enter closets! And even if we could shut out that foul fiend, our own corruptions are enough to work our ruin unless God's grace prevents it.

Reader, beware of evening temptations. Be not secure. The sun is down, but sin is up. We need a watchman for the night as well as a guardian for the day. O blessed Spirit, keep us from all evil this day and this night.

- C. H. Spurgeon

Saturday, March 21, 2009

An Ant at the Grainery Door

Do not be afraid--for I Myself will help you--declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah 41:14

This morning, let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us.

"I Myself will help you. It is but a small thing for Me, your God, to help you. Consider what I have done already. What! not help you? Why, I bought you with My blood. What! not help you? Why, I have died for you! And if I have done the greater, will I not do the lesser? Help you? Before the world began, I chose you. I laid aside My glory and became a man for you. I gave up My life for you! And if I did all this, I will surely help you now. If you had need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it to you. You require little, compared with what I am ready to give. It is much for you to need, but it is nothing for Me to bestow.

What! not help you? Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of your grainery, asking for help, it would not ruin you to give him a handful of your wheat! Just so, you are nothing but a tiny insect at the door of My all-sufficiency!"

"I Myself will help you!" O my soul, is not this enough? Bring your empty pitcher here! Surely this well will fill it. Hasten! gather up your needs, and bring them here--your emptiness, your woes, your troubles. Behold, this river of God is full for your supply. What more can you desire? The Eternal God is your helper!

- C. H. Spurgeon

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mushy Sentimentality is not Love

Few words have been used more inaccurately and loosely in recent years than has "love." With a great many people, it is but a synonym for moral laxity, weakness of character, a taking the line of least resistance, a quiet tolerating of what is felt to be wrong.

Multitudes of parents have supposed they were treating their children "lovingly" when they overlooked their folly, made excuses for their wildness, and refused to discipline them for disobedience. They have prided themselves on being "kinder" toward their children than the "stern measures" which were meted out to themselves in their own youth. But it is laxity--not love--which allows a child to have its own way. "He who spares his rod hates his son; but he who loves him, chastens him early" (Proverbs 13:14). Let those of our readers who have young children ponder Proverbs 19:18; 22:15; 23:13, 14; 29:15, 17, and remember, that those are the words of Him who is Love!

This same evil has held sway in the churches. Leniency and weakness have overridden righteousness and faithfulness. Instead of maintaining and enforcing the discipline which God's Word enjoins, the great majority of the churches have winked at even glaring sins, refusing to deal with those who walk disorderly. This laxity is misnamed love. A mushy sentimentality which shrank from "hurting the feelings" of others has ousted all concern for the glory of Christ and the honor of His house.

This is one of the inevitable effects of the lopsided preaching of the pulpit, where the 'love' and 'grace' of God were constantly proclaimed, while His 'justice' and 'wrath' were studiously ignored. God is 'light' (1 John 1:5) as well as 'love' (1 John 4:8); 'holy' as well as 'merciful'; 'severe' as well as 'good' (Romans 11:22). Unless the balance is preserved between those two sides of the Divine character, not only will He be grievously misrepresented, but the most serious results will follow!

- A. W. Pink

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Word and the Spirit

The Word and the Spirit are so intimately conjoined that we are scarcely warranted in thinking of the one, without the other. The Word does not operate without the Spirit's agency--and the Spirit does not work apart from the Word.

It was by the Spirit's inspiration that the Word was first given, for "holy men of God spoke, as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21).

It is by the Spirit that we are enlightened (Eph 1:17, 18), yet the Word is the means He employs.

It is by the Spirit that we are sanctified (Rom 15:16), yet not apart from the Truth (John 17:17).

It is by the Spirit that we are strengthened (Eph 3:16) as He causes the Word to dwell in us richly (Col 3:16).

It is by the Spirit that we are comforted (Acts 9:31) as He applies the Divine promises to our hearts.

How appropriate then, that the grand instrument employed by the Spirit of grace, should be termed "the Word of His grace."

The "Word of His grace" proclaims . . .

rest for the weary,
pardon to the guilty,
justification to the ungodly,
adoption to the outcast,
eternal heavenly treasures for spiritual paupers!

It is "the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind" who are to be called to the feast which free grace has spread! (Luke 14:13)

"The Word of His grace" not only instructs us where grace is to be found, and how further supplies of it are to be obtained--but it is the principal medium through which grace is actually imparted to the soul. It is a life-giving stream for parched pilgrims as they journey through this "wilderness of sin."

As its sacred pages are reverently perused--
the mind is instructed,
the conscience is enlightened,
the affections are warmed,
and the will is moved.

As its exceeding great and precious promises are meditated upon and treasured up in the heart--new strength is imparted to the soul.

As its holy precepts are turned into earnest prayer--help is obtained for the discharge of duty.

As its timely warnings and admonitions are heeded--temptations lose their power and the snares of Satan are avoided.

As its cheering revelation of what God has prepared for those who love Him is received by faith--new hope is kindled in the heart, and the trials of life are borne with greater fortitude. And as the end of the journey is neared--death loses its terrors and the call to leave this "valley of tears" becomes more desirable.

Without "the Word of His grace", we would be mariners upon the sea of life, without chart or compass!

- A. W. Pink

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Meditations on an Academic Slogan

Sometimes the slogan “All truth is God’s truth” is used to justify dealing in any sphere of knowledge as an act of worship or stewardship. The impression is given that just knowing God’s truth and recognizing it as such is a good thing, even a worthy end. But the problem with this is that the devil does it also.

“If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” (1Corinthians 8:2-3). Which I take to mean that until we know in such a way that we love God more because of it, we do not yet know as we ought to know.

Alongside “All truth is God’s truth,” we need to say, “All truth exists to display more of God and awaken more love for God.” This means that knowing truth and knowing it as God’s truth is not a virtue until it awakens desire and delight in us for the God of truth. And that desire and delight are not complete=2 0until they give rise to words or actions that display the worth of God. That is, we exist to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and merely knowing a truth to be God’s truth does not glorify him any more than the devil does.

All truth exists to make God known and loved and shown. If it does not have those three effects it is not known rightly and should not be celebrated as a virtue.

I give thanks that unbelievers see God’s truths in the natural world in a limited way. They know many scientific and cultural facts. But they do not feel desire for God or delight in God because of them. So these facts are misused. This is not a virtue.

I also give thanks that that believers may learn many of God’s truths from unbelievers and see them rightly and thus desire God more and delight in God more because of those truths, so that unbelievers become, unwittingly, the means of our worship.

Thus an unbeliever’s knowing God’s truth is not ultimately a virtue—that is, not a knowing that accords with God’s purpose for knowing—nevertheless that knowing may be a useful knowing for the sake of what God makes of it for his self-revealing and self-exalting purposes in the world, contrary to all the expectations of the unbeliever whose knowing God uses.

It is fitting, therefore, for love's sake—for God's sake—that believers learn what we can from unbelievers who see many things that we may miss, but do not see the one thing needful.

- John Piper

Friday, March 13, 2009


"They kept shouting--Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" Luke 23:21

The word of truth declares that "the carnal mind is enmity against God" (Romans 8:7). Men do not believe it--in fact most of them pretend the very opposite. Nevertheless, at Calvary--they gave proof of their hatred of God.

Not only was Christ unwelcome here, but men hated Him, and that "without a cause" (John 15:25). He gave them every reason to admire and adore Him, but they had an inveterate detestation of Him!

Multitudes go through the form of paying homage to God, but it is a "god" of their own imagination. They hate the true and living God, and were it possible, they would rid the universe of His existence! This is clear from their treatment of Christ, for He was none other than "God manifest in flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16). They hated and hounded Him to death, and nothing short of His cruel death by crucifixion would appease them!

Here at Calvary the real character of man was revealed, and the desperate wickedness of his heart was laid bare. There it was shown, that man was capable of the blackest of all crimes!

As evil as man had shown himself all through his history, the coming of Immanuel to this earth brought sin to such a head that all that which had gone before, was relatively but a trifling thing when compared with the monstrous wickedness which was done against Love incarnate! In the treatment which the Son of God received at the hands of men, we see sin in its true colors, stripped of a disguise, exposed in its hideous reality, revealed in its true nature as contempt of God, and rebellion against Him. Here at Calvary we behold the climax of sin and the fearful and horrible lengths to which sin is capable of going! That sin which germinated in Eden culminated in the crucifixion! Here at Calvary, we see sin at it's apex--Deicide--in the slaying of the Lord of Glory!

"They kept shouting--Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" Luke 23:21

- A. W. Pink

Jonathan Edwards on Revival

[ What happened at Northampton, Mass. in the 18th century--a genuine spiritual awakening--known as the First Great Awakening, is now the final and only hope that America has; there is nothing that will save our land except this. And we must remember that the glory and honor of God is the only right motive to pray for a revival. - Mack T. ]

Jonathan Edwards on Revival

Edwards' definition of revivals- 'a special season of mercy during which God pours out his Spirit, producing greater sanctification among Christians and in the conversion of the lost.'

Revivals, for Edwards, did not represent the usual mode of God's working in the church, but rather those 'remarkable effusions' of God's Spirit at special seasons of mercy.

Edwards used the word 'extraordinary' rather than the word 'surprising'. Edwards' early account of the revival was given the title "A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundreds in Northampton", a title given not used by Edwards but the British editors who published an account about the Northampton revival. Edwards used the word 'extraordinary' instead-- an extraordinary work of God.

There have been many revivals in history, thousands of different outpourings of the Spirit since Pentecost. Revivals are extraordinary times of blessing that are sovereignly sent and controlled by God. They cannot be humanly produced, created, or manipulated into existence, though they can be distorted, corrupted, and quenched by men.

God sends revival when He chooses, Edwards asserted, and He works in human hearts in such times as He pleases.

What we are to do in desiring a revival and looking to God for such a work is to be faithful in the ordinary means of grace- preaching, witnessing, praying, worship, and faith in the promises of God.

Here are some of Edwards' words about the revival in Northampton:

A great concern about the great things of religion and the eternal world became universal in all parts of the town and among persons of all degrees and all ages. The noise among the dry bones waxed louder and louder, and all other talk except about spiritual things was thrown aside. Other conversation on other subjects was scarcely tolerated in any company.

The minds of people were wonderfully taken off the world and there was hardly a single person in town, young or old, left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world. And the work of conversion was carried on in a most astonishing manner and increased more and more. Souls did come, as it were, by flocks to Jesus Christ. From day to day, for many months, there was seen evident instances of sinners brought out of darkness and delivered out of a horrible pit, and set on a rock, with a new song of praise to God in their mouths.

- David Calhoun

Report from Alaska

[The following is a report I received this week from our missionary friend, Justin Vold, in Alaska; it's worth reading, from the standpoint of what kind of experiences he and others serving Christ there have at times. -- MT ]

It is a joy to report to you that we experienced the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit as we were given the opportunity to evangelize in Tuntutuliak. We were able to witness the grace of God poured out on those whom God brought to the meetings and saved.

Although there were some challenges and hardships along the way, we always find God faithful. One such challenge was the severe weather which gave more opportunity to share and encourage others. I was unable to return to my family on time due to blizzard conditions.

One day we overheard that some Eskimo friends were headed up from Kwig and traveling to Bethel, which is a stop I also needed to make to get on my way home. They offered me a ride and strapped me in a tarp in a sled being pulled by a snow machine.

The snowmobile was traveling fast (50-80 mph) in order to stay ahead of the storm. Freezing rain was blowing at us sideways at about 60 mph. After eating many helpings of akutaq, two bowls of fish soup and breathing exhaust from the snow machine, I had to stop in the middle of the trip in waist deep snow to get sick. At this point I asked our driver if I could ride up front with him for the rest of the way. I felt a bit more comfortable at this point, until I noticed my arms getting soaked from the freezing rain running through my rain gear up my sleeves. Then he pointed at his gas gage which was less than a 1/4 tank. I prayed the Lord would multiply the fuel in the tank like the loaves and fishes. A big freezing slosh of water slipped through my rain gear and went down my chest.

About this time I questioned my own sanity for even getting on with them in the first place. I thought to myself, 'I have a wife and 3 children'! But then the peace of Christ filled my heart. I thought of my dear wife who told me "go". I thought of my kids who prayed for me before I left and for the people I would serve. I thought of all of you praying for us. And I thought of the people who over the past few days I had just witnessed repenting of their sins and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. The elderly who were filled with tears of joy, the widow who brought her 4 granddaughters that she is raising on her own. I thought of the young couple who cried out to God and the others who came to believe.

I began to smile and thank God for this opportunity to serve this world that He created. What a privilege. Finally a warmer wind began to blow and my face warmed up. Bethel was a very welcomed sight and so was a hot shower. That night I reflected on how many lives have been taken on that soil due to the danger and cold. Next time I will wait on the plane.

There is so much I would like to tell you, but I will give another update after I am back from the retreat in Oregon next week. Please pray for me as I have been asked to speak there.

Melissa and the kids did wonderful as I was away and I am grateful to each of you for keeping my family in prayer. Today my daughter Jessie said to her mother and I, "Oh look! The sky is blue in that one spot!" The sun is actually clearing once in awhile and giving us some sunlight. It feels good since Naknek is usually cloudy most all the time.

Aqayutem Atawaqaasqelliten!
(God Bless You!)

- Justin Vold

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pastoral Apron Strings

It is lamentable when a boy in his teens is still tied to his mother's apron strings. Yet is it not equally deplorable for those who have been Christians many years to be tied to their pastor's apron strings? Yet how often we witness this very thing. There is a certain class who seem to be afraid, or at any rate unwilling, to think for themselves--to search the Scriptures for themselves, and act accordingly--and we suspect that in many cases the preacher is as much to be blamed as they are. It is true that he is their teacher, and as such he should possess a wider and deeper knowledge of spiritual things than they have. Yet it is his duty to instruct them and familiarize themselves with God's Word, and thus they become qualified to "Test all things--and hold fast that which is good." (1 Thess. 5:21). In other words, the preacher is not to be a nurse unto them all their lives!

It has long been our conviction that the preacher who is really of greatest service to his people is the one who makes them most independent of human help, and casts them back directly upon God Himself. For souls to run to their pastor every time they are in trouble or look to him to solve all their spiritual problems is virtually to give him the same place in their lives as the deluded Catholics give their "priests." This is not only to rob God of His glory, but also retards their spiritual progress. It is with God Himself that I most need to deal, and any man who comes between me and the Lord is really a hindrance, no matter how good his intentions may be. Moreover, the preacher is human, and therefore liable to err, but God is omniscient and never misdirects. "If any of you lacks wisdom--let him ask of God." (James 1:5).

Sooner or later there comes a time in the lives of most real Christians when those words, "Stop trusting in man!" (Isaiah 2:22) are applied to their hearts in Divine power. This will not mean that they now refuse to hear God's servants or read their writings [ or have proper and biblical relationships with their pastors-- MT ], but that they will no longer place the same blind confidence in their teachers as the Catholics do in their priests. Instead, they will emulate the Bereans, who did not mechanically accept what they heard, even from the lips of the Apostle Paul, but "examined the Scriptures every day--to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11).

- A. W. Pink

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Good Hymn for Use in Prayer

(thanks to Mona Leiter for passing this on!)

Dear Shepherd of Thy people, hear;
Thy presence now display;
As Thou hast given a place for prayer,
So give us hearts to pray.

O Lord, our languid souls inspire,
For here, we trust, thou art!
Send down a coal of heav’nly fire,
To warm each waiting heart.

Show us some token of Thy love,
Our fainting hope to raise;
And pour Thy blessings from above,
That we may render praise.

Within these walls let holy peace
And love and concord dwell;
Here give the troubled conscience ease,
The wounded spirit heal.

The feeling heart, the melting eye,
The hum ble mind bestow;
And shine upon us from on high,
To make our graces grow!

May we in faith receive Thy Word,
In faith present our prayers;
And, in the presence of our Lord,
Unbosom all our cares.

And may the gospel’s joyful sound
Enforced by mighty grace,
Awaken many sinners round,
To come and fill the place.

- John Newton

A Few Thoughts on Preaching

A dear friend emailed me these two questions:

"Have you ever taught through the attributes of God in your church? I know many people believe you must just preach through books of the Bible and never deviate. I am not sure of your opinion here?"

My brief and specific reply was the following:

Yes, I have preached at different times on the attributes of God specifically in a topical way; I do not hold a view that you just have to always preach through books; there are always times that topics and other subjects need to be addressed, so as to equip, teach and building up the flock, to help them be sound in all areas of truth, addressing at times different subjects and topics.

It is very healthy at times to do some topical series, such as the doctrines of grace, the attributes of God, prayer, church leadership issues such as the topics of elders and deacons, the doctrine of hell, etc;

I feel that the contemporary view is wrong that says the only way to preach is expositionally through book after book; in the first place, there are many who do this who are not gifted enough to do it for any length of time; they weary a church with verse by verse exposition because they are not gifted enough as preachers to make it truly profitable and enjoyable. I am afraid some saints leave a service at their church after a 3 year series on the book of Jude, saying, "Well, I'm glad that's over-- now next, as the song says, 'What have I to dread, what have I to fear?'

Preaching ought to be such that every sermon is a word from God that is fresh, alive, pertinent, and speaks one clear message from the Bible. Believers ought to go away from a sermon saying, "That was such truth and so good, that I want more and more of that."

In my opinion, it is wrong to look down upon 'topical' preaching; to be expositional means to preach what is in the text itself and what it actually means; it does not necessarily mean book by book; one can preach through books and actually not be an expository preacher; and one can preach from one verse at a time, addressing different topics, subjects and specific doctrines, without ever preaching a series through a book and actually be expositional, because the meaning of that passage is being exposed, explained, and applied.

It is good balance to do both; And then there's Spurgeon, who never preached through books of the Bible ever--never a series, never consecutively through a book; he would always preach a single verse of Scripture and not a paragraph or longer passage;

Others have done it completely different; Martyn Lloyd-Jones regularly preached through books, but he also addressed topics in various situations, especially in minister's conferences. So younger preachers don't need to accept as law and gospel the view of those who look down upon topical preaching; you can do that it and still be expositional at the same time;

this is a great subject; we can talk more about it; and remember this--the goal of true preaching is not to be a great expositional preacher--the goal in preaching is for every sermon to bring to the people a sense of the presence and greatness of God Himself.

Blessings, dear brother, on all your preaching labors--and remember, our greatest need in preaching is the fullness and power of the Spirit--pray for the Spirit upon your preaching, whether you are doing 50 sermons on Mark or a single message on the glory of Christ. We always desperately need the ministry of the Holy Spirit to rest upon our preaching or no one will really be helped anyway.

Your brother,
- Mack T.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ministerial Faithfulness

"Their speech is filled with flattery." - Psalm 5:9

This is the identifying mark of the "hireling," who is the false pastor. He aims at pleasing his hearers, making them feel satisfied with themselves, ever patting them on the back.

"But he who has My Word, let him speak My Word faithfully" (Jeremiah 23:28); no matter how unpalatable it may be to the flesh, how much of a weariness to those who wish to have their ears tickled with novelties, or how loud the outcry against it is!

Ministerial faithfulness includes loyalty to his Master, devotion to His interests, steadfast adherence to the preaching of His Word, dispensing the Truth unto those whose souls are committed to Him, not mixing it with his speculations, much less substituting false doctrine. A far higher motive than the pleasing of his hearers must regulate ministerial service. Faithful preaching will render the minister unpopular, and will at times empty churches, not fill them!

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32) Souls are caught fast in the meshes of Satan's lies and nothing but the sword of God's truth can cut them free!

"A faithful man--who can find?" (Proverbs 20:6). Why is this? Because it is the part of fallen human nature to take the line of least resistance, and choose the path easiest to the flesh. But remember, my reader, whoever you are, that, "Lying lips are abomination to the Lord; but those who deal 'faithfully' are His delight." (Proverbs 12:22)

"Be faithful unto death--and I will give you a crown of life!" (Revelation 2:10)

- A. W. Pink

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nick at Night & the New Birth

Here's the original "Nick at night" who can say what he sees, but can't see what Christ says. Maybe if Jesus was talking to a Roman soldier who had very limited knowledge of Israel's God, or a first year scribe in divinity school, but this was a ruler of the Jews, a leader of the Sanhedrin -- all of which underscores three crucial points of the new birth:

First, what it says about our human condition -- dead. Birth assumes a starting point, the beginning of an existence, not a blending, merging or developing of something already there. Jesus doesn't tell Nicodemus he needs to further his education, rehabilitate his blindness, raise his consciousness, deepen his commitment, or re-work his 12 step program. He doesn't even tell him how to get born again. Seeing the miraculous isn't the same as seeing the Kingdom.

Second, what it says about our "birth control" -- none. "The wind blows where it wishes." (vs. 8). We didn't cause our physical birth, neither can we cause our spiritual one. If the free, sovereign, uncoerced Spirit of God doesn't give life, all the religious and charitable activities of the flesh not only profits nothing, but actually hinders those it seeks to help (Ga. 4:29).

Third, what it says about God's work -- life. What is born of the Spirit is spirit, not part spirit and part flesh -- and once born can't be unborn or die (Phil. 1:6). This new creation (2 Cor. 5:17)) comes with a guaranteed inheritance (1 Pet. 1:3-4), a righteousness-practicing ability (1 Jn. 2:29), a world-overcoming strength (1 Jn. 5:4), a sin-killing violence (Rom. 8:13) a devil-destroying triumph (1 Jn. 5:18), culminating in a death-defeating victory (1 Cor. 15:54-57). Those who possess this life own all things on earth and hold title to all authority in heaven (Eph. 2:6). It can't be taken by or shared with others, and its presence holds societies together (Matt. 5:13&ff) while its prayers shape their future(1 Tim. 2:1-2; Rev. 8:3-5).

Poor Nick -- he's in over his head. He receives the signs but can't receive the witness (Jn. 3:11). Cadavers who claim to see shouldn't be surprised when they trip over non-existent vital signs.

- Mark Lacour

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Five Lies Sinners Love

Man likes to live with five dominant lies which are very comfortable to the sinner.

First, life is random--no purpose and no creator, thus no accountability. No one made us, and that is why we are free in this random world to do what we want.

Second, truth is relative--no absolutes, no standards, so we are all free to possess our own truth and demand the freedom to live our lives according to our own truth, which is of our own invention.

Third, people are basically good--if they go bad, someone else is to blame; someone abused them and they now lack self-esteem. They have psychological problems based on environmental failures. But still people are basically good: "I'm a good person."

Fourth, everyone can change their own life--get control, take charge, envision your own destiny, become the person you want to be. You have the power to become whatever you want to be, you can be everything you want to be.

Fifth--the goal of life is self-satisfaction.

It's this blatant kind of brash self-delusion--life is random, truth is relative, people are basically good, everybody can change his own life if he chooses to, and the goal of life is self-satisfaction.

Truth and reality is opposite that.

Life is not random--God is sovereign, so nothing is random.

Truth is not relative--the Bible is absolute truth and all truth is absolutely absolute.

All people are not basically good--all people are basically and truly sinful.

No one can change their own life--only Christ can change a person's life.

The goal of life is not self-satisfaction--the goal of life is selfless submission to Jesus Christ.

- John MacArthur