Tuesday, June 30, 2009

C. H. Spurgeon's Conversion to Jesus Christ

Charles Spurgeon’s conversion in his own words. The day was January 6, 1850. Spurgeon was not quite 16 years old.

"I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed in, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth [Isaiah 45:22].”

"He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was , I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus: “My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pain. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to college to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look."

“But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me’. . . . Many of ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. Ye will never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No, look to him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some of ye say, ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin’.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’”

"Then the good man followed up his text in thi s way: “Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ and great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin’ at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! Look unto Me!”

"When he had gone to that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I dare say, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart he said, “Young man, you look very miserable.” Well, I did, but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow and struck right home. He continued, “and you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.”

"Then lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a primitive Methodist could do: “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but to look and live.” I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said—I did not take much notice of it—I was so possessed with that one thought. Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” What a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could have almost looked my eyes away.
There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to him. . . . And now I can say—

E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply;
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And Shall be till I die.

- C. H. Spurgeon

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Gospel

Let us be clear regarding the gospel. The gospel is not a thing. The gospel is not an event. The gospel is not a promotion. The gospel is not a work of man. The gospel is not a system. The gospel is not a method. The gospel is a proclamation of the person of Jesus Christ. The apostles proclaimed Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected from the dead, and in like fashion, the church of the 21st century ought to do the same.

The gospel is to be proclaimed. The gospel does not need a gimmick. The gospel does not need the wisdom of man. The gospel does not need any help from people who come up with cutting edge ideas. The gospel does not need additions. The gospel does not need subtractions. The responsibility of the church is to rightly proclaim the glory of the person, Jesus Christ, who is the gospel. Men, women, boys and girls, are to respond to Jesus. The proclamation of the gospel is for the glory of God and not the glory of man. To mix the gospel with other things is to detract from the person of Jesus Christ and ultimately to lead men to idolatry and damnation in hell. The apostles proclaimed the person of the gospel without gimmicks.

- Randall Easter

A Hymn for Assurance and Perserverance

Often it causes anxious thought--
Do I love the Lord or no?
Am I His or am I not?

If I love, why am I thus?
Why this dull and lifeless frame?
Hardly, sure, can they be worse,
Who have never heard His name!

Could my heart so hard remain,
Prayer a task and burden prove,
Every trifle give me pain,
If I knew a Savior's love?

When I turn my eyes within,
All is dark, and vain, and wild;
Filled with unbelief and sin,
Can I deem myself a child?

If I pray, or hear, or read,
Sin is mixed with all I do!
You who love the Lord indeed,
Tell me--Is it thus with you?

Yet I mourn my stubborn will,
Find my sin a grief and thrall;
Would I grieve for what I feel,
If I did not love at all?

Could I joy His saints to meet,
Choose the ways I once abhorred,
Find, at times, the promise sweet,
If I did not love the Lord?

Lord, decide the doubtful case!
You, who are Your people's sun,
Shine upon Your work of grace,
If it is indeed begun.

Let me love You more and more,
If I love at all, I pray;
If I have not loved before,
Help me to begin today!

- John Newton

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why I Don't Have a TV and Rarely go to Movies

The first question to me and Mark Driscoll was, “Piper says get rid of my TV, and Driscoll says buy extra DVRs. How do you reconcile this difference?”

I responded, “Get your sources right. . . . I never said that in my life.”

Almost as soon as it was out of my mouth, I felt: “What a jerk, Piper!” A jerk is a person who nitpicks about the way a question is worded rather than taking the opportunity to address the issue in a serious way. I blew it at multiple levels. So I was very glad when the person who asked the question wrote to me. I wrote back,
Be totally relieved that YOU did not ask a bad question. I gave a useless and unhelpful, and I think snide, answer and missed a GOLDEN opportunity to make plain the dangers o f the triviality you referred to. . . . I don’t know why I snapped about the wording of the question instead of using it for what it was intended for. It was foolish and I think sinful.
So let me see if I can do better now. I can’t give an answer for what Mark means by “buy extra DVRs,” but I can tell you why my advice sounds different. I suspect that Mark and I would not agree on the degree to which the average pastor needs to be movie-savvy in order to be relevant, and the degree to which we should expose ourselves to the world’s entertainment.

I think relevance in preaching hangs very little on watching movies, and I think that much exposure to sensuality, banality, and God-absent entertainment does more to deaden our capacities for joy in Jesus than it does to make us spiritually powerful in the lives of the living dead. Sources of spiritual power—which are what we desperately need—are not in the cinema. You will not want your biographer to write: "Prick him and he bleeds movies."

If you want to be relevant, let's say, for prostitutes, then don’t watch a movie with a lot of tumbles in a brothel. Immerse yourself in the gospel, which is tailor-made for prostitutes; then watch Jesus deal with them in the Bible; then go find a prostitute and talk to her. Listen to her, not the movie. Being entertained by sin do

There are, perhaps, a few extraordinary men who can watch action-packed, suspenseful, sexually explicit films and come away more godly. But there are not many. And I am certainly not one of them.
I have a high tolerance for violence, high tolerance for bad language, and zero tolerance for nudity. There is a reason for these differences. The violence is make-believe. They don’t really mean those bad words. But that lady is really naked, and I am really watching. And somewhere she has a brokenhearted father.

I’ll put it bluntly. The only nude female body a guy should ever lay his eyes on is his wife’s. The few exceptions include doctors, morticians, and fathers changing diapers. “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1). What the eyes see really matters. “Everyone who looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Better to gouge your eye than go to hell (verse 29).

Brothers, that is serious. Really serious. Jesus is violent about this. What we do with our eyes can damn us. One reason is that it is virtually impossible to transition from being entertained by nudity to an act of “beholding the glory of the Lord.” But this means the entire Christian life is threatened by the deadening effects of sexual titillation.

All Christ-exalting transformation comes from “beholding the glory of Christ.” “Beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Whatever dulls the eyes of our mind from seeing Christ powerfully and purely is destroying us. There is not one man in a thousand whose spiritual eyes are more readily moved by the beauty of Christ because he has just seen a bare breast with his buddies.

But leave sex aside (as if that were possible for fifteen minutes on TV). It’s the unremitting triviality that makes television so deadly. What we desperately need is help to enlarge our capacities to be moved by the immeasurable glories of Christ. Television takes us almost constantly in the opposite direction, lowering, shrinking, and deadening our capacities for worshiping Christ.

One more smaller concern with TV (besides its addictive tendencies, trivialization of life, and deadening effects): It takes time. I have so many things I want to accomplish in this one short life. Don’t waste your life is not a catchphrase for me; it’s a cliff I walk beside every day with trembling.
TV consumes more and more time for those who get used to watching it. You start to feel like it belongs. You wonder how you could get along without it. I am jealous for my evenings. There are so many things in life I want to accomplish. I simply could not do what I do if I watched television. So we have never had a TV in 40 years of marriage (except in Germany, to help learn the language). I don’t r egret it.

- John Piper

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The School of the Cross

We are in the Lord's school--the school of the cross. His daily providential dispensations are suited to wean our attachment from everything here on earth and to convince us that this world cannot be our rest, for it is polluted. Our roses grow on thorns; our honey brings a sting. Frequently our sharpest trials spring from our choicest comforts.

Perhaps, while we are admiring our gourd, a worm is secretly preying upon its root! As every bitter thing is sweetened to a believer, so there is some bitterness mingled with every sweet thing. This is wisely and mercifully ordered by our heavenly Father. It is necessary. With such hearts as we have and in such a world as we live in, much discipline is needful to keep us from sleeping upon the enchanted ground.

But the time is short. It will not always be thus. We shall soon be out of the reach of sin and temptation. Happy hour, when troubles and sorrows, hitherto our inseparable companions, shall flee away, to return no more! When Jesus, with joy and gladness, shall come forth to meet us and conduct us to our eternal home! Then we shall drink of the rivers of pleasure that are at His right hand--and our happiness shall be unspeakable, uninterrupted, without abatement, and without end!

- John Newton

True Patriotism: John Newton's Thoughts on Evangelical Political Reform

A Letter to a Minister

Dear friend,

Allow me to say, that it stirs both my wonder and concern that a Christian minister such as yourself should think it worth his while to attempt political reforms. When I look around upon the present state of the nation, such an attempt appears to me to be no less vain and foolish than it would be to paint the cabin while the ship is sinking or to decorate the parlor while the house is on fire!

When our Lord Jesus was upon earth, He refused to get involved in disputes or politics, "Friend, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" Luke 12:14. "My kingdom is not of this world! If My kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight!" John 18:36.

God's children belong to a kingdom which is not of this world; they are strangers and pilgrims upon earth, and a part of their Scriptural character is that they are the "quiet in the land." Psalm 35:19. Satan has many contrivances to amuse people, and to divert their thoughts from their real danger!

My dear brother, my prayer to God for you is that He may induce you to employ the talents He has given you in pointing out sin as the great cause and source of every existing evil, and to engage those who love and fear Him, (instead of wasting time in political speculations) and enable you to sigh and cry for our abounding abominations, and to stand in the breach by prayer, that God's wrath may yet be averted and our national mercies prolonged! This, I think, is the true patriotism and the best way in which believers in private life may serve their country.

I consider the ungodly as saws and hammers in the hand of the Lord. So far as they are His instruments, they will succeed, but not an inch further! Their wrath shall praise Him, and be subservient to His designs!

If our lot is so cast that we can exercise our ministry free from stripes, fines, imprisonments and death, that is more than the gospel has promised us! If Christians were quiet when under the cruel governments of Nero and other wicked persecutors when they were hunted down like wild beasts, then we ought to be not only quiet, but very thankful now! It was then accounted an honor to suffer for Christ and the 'offense of the cross'!

Those are to be greatly pitied who boast of their 'liberty', and yet they do not consider that they are in the most deplorable bondage the slaves of sin and Satan, under the curse of God's law and His eternal wrath! Oh! for a voice to reach their hearts, that they may know their true and dreadful state, and seek deliverance from their horrific condition! May you and I labor to direct them to the one thing which is absolutely needful and abundantly sufficient.

If I had the wisdom or influence to soothe the angry passions of mankind, I would gladly employ them! But I am a stranger and a pilgrim here in this world. My charter, my rights and my treasures are all in heaven, and it is there my heart ought to be. In a very short time, I may be removed (and perhaps suddenly) into the unseen and eternal world where all that now causes so much bustle upon earth will be of no more importance to me than the events which took place among the antediluvians!

In the hour when death shall open the door into eternity, many things which now assume an air of importance will be found as light and unsubstantial as a child's dream!

How crucial, then, it is for me to be found watching, with my lamp burning, diligently engaged in my proper calling! For the Lord has not called me to set governments right, but to preach the gospel, to proclaim the glory of His name, and to endeavor to win souls! "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God!" Luke 9:60. Happy is that servant, whom his Master finds so doing, when He returns!

As you have forced me to respond, both duty and love have obliged me to be faithful and free in giving you my thoughts.

I recommend you to the care and blessing of the great Shepherd and Savior and remain for His sake, your affectionate friend and brother,

- John Newton

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

John Newton's Encouragement to Pastors & Elders

"He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord." Colossians 4:7

Dear fellow pastor,

You have desired a good work--may the Lord give you the desires of your heart. May He give you . . .

the wisdom of Daniel,
the meekness of Moses,
the courage of Joshua,
the zeal of Paul,

and that self-abasement and humility which Job and Isaiah felt when they not only had heard of Him by the hearing of the ear, but when they saw His glory, and abhorred themselves in dust and ashes!

May you be taught of God, for none teaches like Him, and may you come forth an able minister of the New Covenant, well instructed rightly to divide and faithfully distribute the Word of truth.

In the school of Christ, you will have to learn some lessons which are not very pleasant to flesh and blood. You must learn to labor, to run, to fight, to wrestle--and many other hard exercises, some of which will test your strength and your patience.

You know the common expression, 'a jack of all trades'. I am sure a minister has need be such a one:

a brave soldier,
an alert watchman,
a caring shepherd,
a hardworking farmer,
a skillful builder,
a wise counselor,
a competent physician,
and a loving nurse.

But do not be discouraged--you have a wonderful and a gracious Master, who does not only give instructions, but power and ability! He engages that His grace shall be sufficient at all times and in all circumstances for those who simply give themselves up to His teaching and His service.

"Be an example to all believers . . . in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12

- John Newton

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Poor Ship

--A Letter from John Newton to his adopted daughter, Betsy

"He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm!" Luke 8:24

My dear Betsy,

Sometimes, when I consider what a world you are growing up into, and what snares and dangers young people are exposed to, with little experience to help them, I have some painful feelings for you!

The other day I was at the harbor, and saw a ship launched ; she slipped easily into the water; the people on board cheered; the ship looked clean and mirthful, she was freshly painted, and her colors flying. But I looked at her with a sort of pity: "Poor ship, I thought, "you are now in port and in safety; but before long you must go into the wild sea! Who can tell what storms you may meet with hereafter, and to what hazards you may be exposed! How weather-beaten you may be before you return to port again or perhaps you may not return at all!"

Then my thoughts turned from the ship to my dear Betsy. The ship seemed to be an emblem of your present state--you are now, as it were, in a safe harbor; but by and by you must launch out into the world, which may well be compared to a rough sea. I could even now almost weep at the resemblance!

But I take courage, as my hopes are greater than my fears. I know there is an infallible Pilot, who has the winds and the waves at His command! There is hardly a day passes, in which I do not entreat Him to take charge of you. Under His care, I know you will be safe. He can guide you unhurt in the midst of the storms, rocks and dangers, by which you might otherwise suffer, and bring you safely to the haven of His eternal rest!

"Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water--and they obey Him!" Luke 8:25

I hope you will seek Him while you are young and then you will be happy, and I shall rejoice. Nothing will satisfy me but this! Though I should live to see you settled to the greatest advantage in temporal matters, unless you love Him and live in His fear and favor, you would be quite miserable! I think it would nearly break my heart; for, next to your dear mother, there is nothing so dear to me in this world as you! But the Lord gave you to me, and many a time upon my knees, I have given you back to Him. Therefore I hope you must and shall be His!

I am yours, with great tenderness, my dear child,

Your very affectionate father

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Weakness of the Doctrine of Death-Bed Repentance

Some promote the idea that we cannot say a departed non-Christian is in hell, in that he might have repented secretly just before he died. Here are some thoughts on unknown late repentance.

1. We must remember the fact that there is no reason to think they did repent, if indeed there was no genuine evidence of it before death.

2. The Bible does not give encouragement or comfort about such thinking – that they might have made some secret repentance.

3. The Bible makes salvation contingent upon a confession. (Rom 10:.9-10)

4. The Bible boldly assumes men perish, if there is no reason to think they repented; for example:

a. Judas Iscariot

b. the false workers, Phil. 3.19, "their end is destruction", and, 2 Cor 11.15, "their end is according to their deeds."

5. The devil would like to promote such thinking, as he would rob God of His glory, the glory God would get from putting the person in hell, or receiving a confession, as in the case of the thief on the cross.

6. The sinner would like to hear such thinking, for it would encourage him to continue in his sin and slip in to heaven the way he presumes the deceased hopefully did. After all, that is what these Christians are saying and hoping, and they claim to be ‘in the know.’

Death-bed0A repentance is rare. “There is one death bed repentance recorded in the Bible (the thief on the cross), so that no one despair, but there is ONLY one, so that no one will pr esume.”
Matthew Henry

Death-bed repentance is rarely true. True repentance can be late, but late repentance is seldom true. “Late repentance is seldom satisfactory.” J.C. Ryle.

- Bob Jennings

To Fathers

The loss of heart in a child is many times directly tied to the loss of hope instilled by fathers -- if there is a father at all. Exasperating a child is a serious sin. Discouragement is a learned outlook -- the loss of hope reinforced from a negligent father.

Fathers who give hope usually possess three essentials: First, they love their child's mother. Watching dad honor mom is a stabilizing anchor in a child -- a source of encouragement. But when the opposite is present -- raising of the voice, belittling of the person, critical of the effort, children pick up on these things and are provoked, simply out of a defense for their mom. The result is they retreat in discouragement or act out in anger -- both signs of detachment from the instruction and discipline of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).

Second, they treat every child consistently but each child sensitively. Children pick up on a lack of fairness, especially from fathers who set the standard of what will and won’t be tolerated. Do for one and not for the other will grow resentment and bitterness -- accusations of "daddy’s pet." But just as bad, treating every child as a cookie-cutter communicates a lack of personality or identity. While disobedience and dishonor must always be dealt with, how they're de alt with will depend on the matur ity and needs of the child. One size doesn’t fit all -- yet all must fit a size!

Third, they’re not afraid to ask for forgiveness when they make a mistake. To a child integrity isn't being perfect, but it is being honest. Coming clean when you fail tells your child you’re imperfect like him, shows him how to correct his mistakes, how to take the consequences like a man. Nothing discourages more than being around "perfect" people with your own imperfections.

Father's Day is a reminder that fathers carry a huge responsibility. They set the agenda for how their children see the world -- and especially the Kingdom of God. Grace in the heart of fathers should translate into hope in the heart of children. After all, our heavenly Father doesn’t exasperate us. Anything less is an affront to the gospel.

- Mark Lacour

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Grace Sufficient for Today's Load Only

I compare the troubles which we have to undergo in the course of the year to a great bundle of sticks, far too large for us to lift. But God does not require us to carry the whole bundle at once. He mercifully unties the bundle, and gives us first one stick, which we are to carry today and then another, which we are to carry tomorrow, and so forth.

We can easily manage our troubles, if we would only carry the trouble appointed for each day. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday's burden over again today, and then add the burden of tomorrow to the weight before we are required to bear it.

"Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself." - Mt. 6:34

- John Newton

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Troubles and Disappointments

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble! Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas!" Psalm 46:1-2

John Newton Letter, November 2, 1761

My dear sister,

Let us not be greatly discouraged at the many tribulations, difficulties and disappointments which lie in the path which leads to glory. Our Lord has plainly told us, that "in this world, you will have many trials and sorrows." Yet He has also made a suitable provision for every case we meet with and is Himself always near to those who call upon Him, as a sure refuge, an almighty strength, a never-failing, ever-present help in every time of trouble!

Jesus Himself was a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief for our sakes. He drank the whole cup of unmixed wrath for us! Shall we then refuse to taste a sip of the cup of affliction at His appointment, especially when His wisdom and His love prepare it for us and He proportions every circumstance to our strength; when He puts it into our hands, not in anger but in tender mercy, to do us good, to bring us near to Himself; and when He sweetens every bitter sip with those comforts which none but He can give?

Every believer that ever lived was once as we are now--they had their afflictions and their fears, their enemies and temptations; they were exercised with a sinful heart and a wicked world! Now they are all before the eternal throne of God and the Lamb! While we are sighing, they are singing! While we are fighting, they are triumphing!

The time is short and the world is passing away! All its troubles and all its vanities will soon be at an end! In a little while, "we shall see Him as He is!" Every veil will be taken away, every seeming frown will be removed from His face and every tear wiped away from ours! We shall also be like Him! Even now, when we contemplate His glory as shining in the looking-glass of the Gospel, we feel ourselves, in some measure, transformed into His image! What a sudden, wonderful, and abiding change we shall then experience when He shall shine directly, immediately, and eternally upon our souls, without one interposing cloud between!

"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:3

- John Newton

Monday, June 15, 2009

Walking with Jesus

When I speak of walking with Jesus, my idea is helped by considering how it was with His first disciples--they lived in His presence! While He stayed in a place, they stayed, and when He moved, they went with Him. Having Him thus always near, always in view, the sight of Him undoubtedly gave a composure to their whole behavior and was a check upon their eyes, their tongues, and their actions!

When they had hard questions upon their minds, they did not puzzle themselves with vain reasonings. When they were in need, they looked to Him for a supply. When they had difficulties and dangers, they little doubted of deliverance, knowing that He was with them.

Just so, I need a faith that shall have such an abiding, experimental conviction of His nearness and presence, as if I actually saw Him! "Lord, increase my faith!"

Surely, if He were now upon earth and I expected a visit from Him this afternoon, my heart would bound at the thought! With what a mixture of joy and fear would I open the door to receive Him! How cautious would I be not to do or say anything that might grieve Him, and shorten His stay with me! And how gladly, if He gave me permission to speak, would I catch the opportunity of telling Him all my concerns! Surely I would be unwilling to let Him go until He had healed the wounds in my soul, and renewed my spiritual strength, until He had taught me better how to serve Him, and promised to support me in His service. And if I heard Him say, with an audible voice, "Though they fight against you, they shall not prevail, for I am always with you to deliver you!" I would bid goodbye to fear!

But, alas, my unbelieving heart! Are not these things true, even at present? Is He not as near and as kind? Have I not the same reasons and the same encouragement to set Him always before me and to tell Him all my needs, all my fears, and all my troubles as if I saw Him with my bodily eyes!

"Be sure of this: I am with you always--even to the end of the age!" Matthew 28:20

- John Newton

Saturday, June 6, 2009

His Wise and Loving Management of our Lives

Letter from John Newton

My dear friend,

What a poor, uncertain and dying world is this! What a wilderness in itself! Without the saving knowledge of Jesus, how dark and desolate it is! It does not appear to us this way before we were saved because we were then in a state of enchantment; it is now a great mercy to be undeceived in time; and though our mirthful dreams are at an end, and we awake to everything that is dismaying, yet we see a highway through the wilderness, and a powerful and infallible Guide at hand to conduct us through it! And we can discern, beyond the limits of the wilderness of this world, a better land where we shall be at rest and at home!

What will the difficulties we met along the way then signify? The remembrance of them will only remain to heighten our sense of the love, care, and power of our Savior and Leader! O how shall we then admire, adore and praise Him, when He condescends to unfold to us the beauty, propriety, and harmony of the whole train of His providential dealings with us and give us a clear retrospect of all the way, and all the windings of our earthly pilgrimage!

In the mean while, the best method of adorning our profession, and of enjoying peace in our souls is simply to trust Him, and absolutely to commit ourselves and our all to His wise and loving management. By casting our burdens upon Him, our hearts become light and cheerful. We are then freed from a thousand anxieties and worries which are wearisome to our minds and which are needless for us--yes, even useless!

Oh, the blessedness of this confident trust in our Father's care, through all the changes we meet with, knowing that His love, purpose and promise are wise, good and unchangeable! May this be your experience!

- John Newton

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Contentment -- Letter from John Newton, August 17, 1776

My dear friend,

It is fitting for every Christian to say: "It is not necessary for me to be rich or what the world accounts as wise. It is not necessary for me to be healthy or admired by my fellow worms. Neither is it necessary for me to pass through life in a state of prosperity and outward comfort. These things might be or might not occur, as the Lord in His wisdom shall appoint them for me.

But it is necessary for me to be humble and spiritual, to seek communion with God, to adorn my profession of the Gospel, and to yield submissively to His disposal in whatever way, whether of service or suffering, that He shall be pleased to call me to glorify Him in this world. It is not necessary for me to live long, but highly expedient that while I do live, I should live unto Him!

Here then, I would bind my desire, and having His Word for my rule, I am secured from asking amiss. Let me have His presence and as to the rest, I pray: "Lord, Whatever You will, whenever You will, and however You will."

Lord, give me wisdom to know my calling and opportunities, and the faithfulness to improve them: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want!" Philippians 4:11-12

- John Newton

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hope for the Salvation of a Family Member

John Newton in a letter to his friend William Cowper

"I am willing to hope that you will be made a messenger of light and peace to his soul. The Lord's hand is not shortened that he cannot save. He can do great things in a small time, as you know from your own experience. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, he can command light to shine out of darkness. If he speaks, it is done... One glimpse of the worth of the soul, the evil of sin, and the importance of eternity, will effect that which hath been in vain attempted by repeated arguments."

[Cowper's brother, John, converted on his deathbed a few days later]

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Contentment -- Letter from John Newton, August 17, 1776

My dear friend,

It is fitting for every Christian to say: "It is not necessary for me to be rich or what the world accounts as wise. It is not necessary for me to be healthy or admired by my fellow worms. Neither is it necessary for me to pass through life in a state of prosperity and outward comfort. These things might be or might not occur, as the Lord in His wisdom shall appoint them for me.

But it is necessary for me to be humble and spiritual, to seek communion with God, to adorn my profession of the Gospel, and to yield submissively to His disposal in whatever way, whether of service or suffering, that He shall be pleased to call me to glorify Him in this world. It is not necessary for me to live long, but highly expedient that while I do live, I should live unto Him!

Here then, I would bind my desire, and having His Word for my rule, I am secured from asking amiss. Let me have His presence and as to the rest, I pray: "Lord, Whatever You will, whenever You will, and however You will."

Lord, give me wisdom to know my calling and opportunities, and the faithfulness to improve them: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want!" Philippians 4:11-12

- John Newton

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Charge to Husbands

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. -Ephesians 5:25-27

Men, we are not our wives’ savior; Christ is. We are not her sanctifier; Christ is. We are fellow heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7), depending on the same sovereign life-giver.

But Paul says to husbands: Watch how Christ loves his bride. Look at the cost. And look at the goal. The cost is his life. And the goal is her splendor—the splendor of holiness.

If you aim at her splendor from the top down—say, from Mount Sinai—you will harden her. If you aim at her splendor from the bottom up—from Golgotha—you will open her to sweet tastes of sovereign glory.

The key? The Lamb of God and the Holy Spirit. Know yourself broken and bought by the blood of the Lamb. And know yourself filled with the Holy Spirit.

- John Piper