Thursday, December 27, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
It is when I am away from the fellowship, encouragement, correction, and the sharing and discussion of God's Word that I realize how blessed I am. But when I am away it also reminds me of the great need to share the gospel and I am convicted at the lack obedience I have when it comes to sharing the gospel with family, friends, and acquaintances.
I came across a clip of John McArthur sharing the real Christmas story. It helped me set my mind on Christ this Christmas eve as I am away from fellow believers, who share the joy of the birth, life, and sacrifice of the Christ.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
I am praying for direction as I think about whether to continue serving in Lakeshore. As of this time I have no leading to move away from Lakeshore. I am asked on a daily basis what my plans for after May 2008 are. I have been talking with the North American Mission Board and considering their US/C2 position - a 2 year position. Things sound like they could work out for me to stay on in Lakeshore
Honestly I can't think of anything else I'd rather do at this point in my life than to continue serving in Lakeshore. I've been asked a lot this week what I find attractive about Lakeshore or why I'd want to stay in Lakeshore. The main reason I stay in Lakeshore is the need for the gospel. There are a few faithful Christ followers in Lakeshore spreading the gospel to those who do not know the Lord, but still the gospel needs to be spread. I'd like to ask for prayers that the Lord would reveal to me direction and that I'd be obedient to whatever way he leads.
Monday, December 17, 2007
How to spend the day with God - part 2
Temptations and Things That Corrupt
Be thoroughly acquainted with your temptations and the things that may corrupt you - and watch against them all day long. You should watch especially the most dangerous of the things that corrupt, and those temptations that either your company or business will unavoidably lay before you.
Watch against the master sins of unbelief: hypocrisy, selfishness, pride, flesh pleasing and the excessive love of earthly things. Take care against being drawn into earthly mindedness and excessive cares, or covetous designs for rising in the world, under the pretence of diligence in your calling.
If you are to trade or deal with others, be vigilant against selfishness and all that smacks of injustice or uncharitableness. In all your dealings with others, watch against the temptation of empty and idle talking. Watch also against those persons who would tempt you to anger. Maintain that modesty and cleanness of speech that the laws of purity require. If you converse with flatterers, be on your guard against swelling pride.
If you converse with those that despise and injure you, strengthen yourself against impatient, revengeful pride.
At first these things will be very difficult, while sin has any strength in you, but once you have grasped a continual awareness of the poisonous danger of any one of these sins, your heart will readily and easily avoid them.
When alone in your occupations, improve the time in practical and beneficial meditations. Meditate upon the infinite goodness and perfections of God; Christ and redemption; Heaven and how unworthy you are of going there and how you deserve eternal misery in Hell.
The Only Motive
Whatever you are doing, in company or alone, do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Otherwise, it is unacceptable to God.
Redeeming The Time
Place a high value upon your time, be more careful of not losing it than you would of losing your money. Do not let worthless recreations, television, idle talk, unprofitable company, or sleep rob you of your precious time.
Be more careful to escape that person, action or course of life that would rob you of your time than you would be to escape thieves and robbers.
Make sure that you are not merely never idle, but rather that you are using your time in the most profitable way that you can and do not prefer a less profitable way before one of greater profit.
Eating and Drinking
Eat and drink with moderation and thankfulness for health, not for unprofitable pleasure. Never please your appetite in food or drink when it is prone to be detrimental to your health.
Remember the sin of Sodom: "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food and abundance of idleness" - Ezekiel 16:49.
The Apostle Paul wept when he mentioned those "whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame -- who set their minds on earthly things, being enemies to the cross of Christ" - Philippians 3:18-19. O then do not live according to the flesh lest you die (Romans 8:13).
If any temptation prevails against you and you fall into any sins in addition to habitual failures, immediately lament it and confess it to God; repent quickly whatever the cost. It will certainly cost you more if you continue in sin and remain unrepentant.
Do not make light of your habitual failures, but confess them and daily strive against them, taking care not to aggravate them by unrepentance and contempt.
Remember every day the special duties of various relationships: whether as husbands, wives, children, masters, servants, pastors, people, magistrates, subjects.
Remember every relationship has its special duty and its advantage for the doing of some good. God requires your faithfulness in this matter as well as in any other duty.
Closing the Day
Before returning to sleep, it is wise and necessary to review the actions and mercies of the day past, so that you may be thankful for all the special mercies and humbled for all your sins.
This is necessary in order that you might renew your repentance as well as your resolve for obedience, and in order that you may examine yourself to see whether your soul grew better or worse, whether sin goes down and grace goes up and whether you are better prepared for suffering, death and eternity.
May these directions be engraven upon your mind and be made the daily practice of your life.
If sincerely adhered to, these will be conducive to the holiness, fruitfulness and quietness of your life and add to you a comfortable and peaceful death.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
adapted and updated from
RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691)
by Matthew Vogan
A holy life is inclined to be made easier when we know the usual sequence and method of our duties - with everything falling into its proper place. Therefore, I shall give some brief directions for spending the day in a holy manner.
Measure the time of your sleep appropriately so that you do not waste your precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be matched to your health and labour, and not to slothful pleasure.
Let God have your first awaking thoughts; lift up your hearts to Him reverently and thankfully for the rest enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him for the day which follows.
Familiarise yourself so consistently to this that your conscience may check you when common thoughts shall first intrude. Think of the mercy of a night's rest and of how many that have spent that night in Hell; how many in prison; how many in cold, hard lodgings; how many suffering from agonising pains and sickness, weary of their beds and of their lives.
Think of how many souls were that night called from their bodies terrifyingly to appear before God and think how quickly days and nights are rolling on! How speedily your last night and day will come! Observe that which is lacking in the preparedness of your soul for such a time and seek it without delay.
Let prayer by yourself alone (or with your partner) take place before the collective prayer of the family. If possible let it be first, before any work of the day.
Let family worship be performed consistently and at a time when it is most likely for the family to be free of interruptions.
Remember your ultimate purpose, and when you set yourself to your day's work or approach any activity in the world, let HOLINESS TO THE LORD be written upon your hearts in all that you do.
Do no activity which you cannot entitle God to, and truly say that he set you about it, and do nothing in the world for any other ultimate purpose than to please, glorify and enjoy Him. "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31.
Diligence in Your Calling
Follow the tasks of your calling carefully and diligently. Thus:
(a) You will show that you are not sluggish and servants to your flesh (as those that cannot deny it ease), and you will further the putting to death of all the fleshly lusts and desires that are fed by ease and idleness.
(b) You will keep out idle thoughts from your mind, that swarm in the minds of idle persons.
(c) You will not lose precious time, something that idle persons are daily guilty of.
(d) You will be in a way of obedience to God when the slothful are in constant sins of omission.
(e) You may have more time to spend in holy duties if you follow your occupation diligently. Idle persons have no time for praying and reading because they lose time by loitering at their work.
(f) You may expect God's blessing and comfortable provision for both yourself and your families.
(g) it may also encourage the health of your body which will increase its competence for the service of your soul.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
I was late for my flight from New Orleans due to an accident and then fog on the causeway, which caused me to arrive at the airport at 11:03, my plane leaving at 11:30. The only option without paying for a ticket for the following day was to be on standby for a flight at 5:00pm for New Orleans to Chicago, and then be on standby from Chicago to Madison.
I knew the Lord knew the situation and that he was in control of it as well. If I wasn't able to make it to Chicago or Madison, it wouldn't have been the end of the world, knowing that it was the Lord's providence...though I was really looking forward to getting home and seeing my family. I got the last spot on the plane from New Orleans. When we arrived in Chicago I went to the gate where the plane to Madison was to take off from to put my name on the standby list. The lady seemed very hopeful that I'd get on that plane, which indeed I did. Though I arrived in Madison at 10:30 then drove to Platteville arriving there after 12:15am. It was a long day, but I am grateful to be home for a couple of weeks and see my family who I haven't seen since May.
There is a big difference between Mississippi and Wisconsin...and a lot of snow here. I'll post some pictures for my friends in MS who are rubbing it in that it is warm there, when I'm able.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Pastor Don said there were different ways cultivate Christ being at home in us and allowing him to have access to every portion of our life; we aren't to sit around wait. But we cannot just decide to make Christ the center of our being..Like a food you do not like - you can choose to eat it, but you can't just choose to like it. It is part of our affections, the more we eat it the more we grow to like it....the more time we spend with Christ and in his word, the more or affections change and he is able to take control of our being and be the center and our desire.
Two of the main ways to spend time with Christ and let our affections be controlled by him are through prayer and Bible Study.
1. Prayer – through prayer we can ask Christ to dwell in – to be at home in our hearts. As Christ dwells in us he is going to change us. He's going to help us throw away those things that are not glorifying to him and that we desire above him.
There are a couple ways praying can facilitate this
- A. We can ask Christ to dwell in us. We can pray: Christ – may passions are all wrong, I desire this rather than that, I desire money rather than you, I desire respect more than the word of God, I desire this more than you – change that in me God, I can't change it myself!
- B. Prayer time itself will facilitate Christ living in our heart. You get know know others by spending time with them. The more intimately we know Christ the more at home he is going to be in our heart.
Memorization is one area that Pastor Don emphasized that is so important, but not focused on enough by most believers (including myself). I've recently begun getting up earlier so that I have time to spend with the Lord and focus on prayer and scripture study. I used to memorize a lot, but have not done that as much as I ought to recently, so I will be adding that to my daily Bible study time.
Take a couple minutes to listen to Pastor Don urge the people of Lakeshore Baptist Church to make memorization a priority in their life, it's a great admonition to treasure God's Word.
Monday, December 03, 2007
As I was reading online I came across Martin Luther's account of his own conversion, an awesome example of God revealing the meaning of scripture and regenerating and justifying a man - as Martin Luther, who said he hated the righteous God, as he struggled with the scriptures.
Here's the excerpt from the Preface to the Complete Edition of Luther's Latin Writings found online at ReformationInk
Meanwhile, I had already during that year returned to interpret the Psalter anew. I had confidence in the fact that I was more skillful, after I had lectured in the university on St. Paul's epistles to the Romans, to the Galatians, and the one to the Hebrews. I had indeed been captivated with an extraordinary ardor for understanding Paul in the Epistle to the Romans. But up till then it was not the cold blood ab out the heart, but a single word in Chapter 1, "In it the righteousness of God is revealed," that had stood in my way. For I hated that word "righteousness of God," which, according to the use and custom of all the teachers, I had been taught to understand philosophically regarding the formal or active righteousness, as they call it, with which God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner.
Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, "As if, indeed, it is not enough, that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the Decalogue, without having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteousness and wrath!" Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted.
At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, "In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, 'He who through faith is righteous shall live.'" There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scripture from memory. I also fount in other terms an analogy, as, the work of God, that is what God does in us, the power of God, with which he makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.
And I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word "righteousness of God." Thus that place in Paul was for me truly the gate to paradise. Later I read Augustine's The Spirit and the Letter, where contrary to hope I found that he, too, interpreted God's righteousness in a similar way, as the righteousness with which God clothes us when he justifies us (Augustine passage included below). Although this was heretofore said imperfectly and he did not explain all things concerning imputation clearly, it nevertheless was pleasing that God's righteousness with which we are justified was taught.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
I was sitting here reflecting on the sermon preached today here at Lakeshore Baptist. Pastor Don preached on Ephesians 3:14-21 focusing on prayer. Prayer is something that I say I do, and I do, but often times do not pray as I ought. Pastor Don brought up many great points from this texts that I hope I can incorporate into my own personal prayer time.
3 Types of Prayer
I. Specific Prayer
- Paul is praying for strength and knowledge of God for the believers in Ephesus.
- Our prayers are often very vague
- We can go in with a plan as we pray. We can make a list of the things that we are going to pray for and specifics so we don't get distracted as we pray.
- Paul was in prison but he was praying for others. Here he is not praying or asking for prayers of himself for comfort, relief, or release from prison he is focused on others.
- Paul is praying for spiritual issues in the life of others.
- We don't see here him praying for the sickness of so and so. If sickness and health are all that we pray for we are showing God where I priorities are. And if the physical is our only priority we are flirting with idolatry - we are worried about the tangible things more than the everlasting things of someone's spiritual well being. This is not to say, though, not to pray for those things. Praying for health and healing are good things and we have a miracle working God who can heal those things. But we just must make sure we know I priorities.
Other notes on Prayer
A. Paul is praying from Prison - Paul is not waiting until his circumstances are better, he sees the need to pray for the church and he's doing it while he is locked in chains in a Roman prison. We shouldn't wait until our circumstances are good to pray for others, we ought to pray for others if we are sick, homeless, or otherwise in distress.
B. Paul's prayer is a prayer of Passion - he bowed on his knees. It was as if we was begging God on his knees for the spiritual issues of the church in Ephesus.
C. Paul Prays to the Father - God is the Father of all families (of believers).
D. Paul is praying for power - Vs 16 - Paul is asking for strength for the inner being of the church. The stronger you are => the healthier you are => The more ready you are to fight of sin, temptation, depression, etc.
This strength comes from 2 places - through the Spirit and according to the riches of his glory.