Satisfaction

Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

“While all things change here below, the precious Jesus our Friend is ‘The same yesterday, and today, and forever’. What He was millions of years ago, He is now. What He was when He walked through Judea, Samaria and Galilee, He is now – His heart full of tenderness, of pity, of compassion.

Though you be the greatest, the oldest, the most hardened sinner, though you have sinned again and again against light and knowledge, if you now trust in Christ, you will for His sake be forgiven, for there is power in the blood of Christ to take away the greatest sins.

Learning itself gives no happiness – no real, true happiness. Christ, and Christ alone, gives real, true happiness. I know seven languages, and with all this I should have gone to hell if it had not been that I knew Christ, Christ, Christ. Oh! The blessedness of being a disciple of the Lord Jesus!

I am a happy old man; yes, indeed, I am a happy old man! I walk about my room, and I say, ‘Lord Jesus, I am not alone, for You are with me. I have buried my wives and my children, but You are left. I am never lonely or desolate with You and with Your smile, which is better than life itself!!’”

-George Müller, as recorded in Delighted in God by Roger Steer (Christian Focus Publications, 1997), 227-228.

Stop Patronizing Women, Offer Support and the Truth

Recently a Texas judge upheld a law that requires a woman to be shown an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion. His decision was discussed on The View and Joyce Behar and Barbara Walters made the following stunning statements:

Joyce Behar: “It’s very totalitarian in my opinion. I mean, it smacks of forcing somebody to confront something that they have already decided they don’t want to deal with.”

So if a person doesn’t want to deal with something (in this case, someone), you just avoid it? Can you imagine applying this principle to other situations in your life? “I don’t want to deal with the fact that my daughter has been molested, so I’ll just ignore it.” “I don’t want to deal with my child being bullied at school, so I’ll just ignore it.” Countless people suffer tremendously because they don’t deal with the truth but disregard it.  Ignorance is not bliss. Proverbs 14:8 says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” It is very disrespectful to women to withhold truth from them. They need to know facts and see their unborn baby before they make a decision that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Women need support, not abortion.

Barbara Walters: “I think that in order to even think about having an abortion, to give up a child that is obviously unwanted, that’s why you’re doing it, it is such a tremendous decision, it’s involved with so much fear of what you’re doing, and guilt. 

Then to have to go and be forced to hear, to see the fetus, to hear the heartbeat, to put more guilt on you, I think is heartbreaking.”

So it’s all about how the woman feels, not about bringing harm to someone else? Notice her reference to “a child.” That’s no longer in question like it used to be. Now people admit it’s a child. They have to because it’s so clearly proven by the in utero technology we now have. But that doesn’t seem to matter. The message given on The View is that what really matters is what the woman wants. What selfishness! As a woman, I take great offense at these statements because they imply that what’s most important to a woman is how she feels, not what is true. “She shouldn’t be given all the facts, because that might make her feel guilty. After all, we must avoid guilt at all cost!” This undermines the strength of a woman and her ability to deal with what is true and to make wise choices in light of that truth.

And why is this such a “tremendous decision”? Why does it involve fear and guilt? Because this isn’t just another medical procedure like having your gall bladder removed. It involves another human being, a life that God ordained from the beginning of time. “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 139:13).

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). It is always in the best interest of the woman to give life and to love another human being. That love might be expressed in the form of relinquishing her baby for adoption into a loving home or choosing to parent. But it will never be expressed by taking the life of her unborn child.

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Prov. 3:7).

 -Kathy Norquist, Executive Assistant to Randy Alcorn
http://www.epm.org/blog/2012/Mar/28/women-need-support-and-truth-not-abortion

Do We Dare Defend Our Rights?

Awesome post from Collin Hansen on the Christian and political involvement. Very timely as we see politics dominating the American public forum as we approach the fall elections. Full post here:   http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/03/01/we-dare-not-defend-our-rights/.

Here’s an excerpt:

“…Those of us who live in democracies give thanks that we can be involved in the political process and shape policies out of love for our neighbors.

But we seem to be fighting a losing cause of late, at least in theUnited States. Our vision for the common good is being eclipsed by a new order that seems not to understand Western culture’s debt to the Christian vision for humanity.

Contrary to appearances, this new vision does not support a “live and let live” ethic. Religion continues its centuries-long retreat into the private sphere. Christians replace gays in the closet. Our future feels tenuous, so we appeal to help from the state. But we haven’t yet determined if the state is friend or foe.

“For democracies, like all governments, are based on affirming and supporting certain values and visions of reality, and proscribing others,” D. A. Carson writes in his new bookThe Intolerance of Tolerance. “But when the values and visions of reality that sustained such democracies in the past shrivel away, in the domains where the shriveling takes place the only über-value is the new tolerance, backed up by the coercive power of the state.”

We may have only a few reasons for optimism about the difference we can make in coming days. But neither should we fall prey to faithless pessimism. Though embattled, thousands of evangelical churches thrive across the country. We can learn from the example of congregations worldwide that maintain a vigorous witness where Christian rights have been restricted most severely.

Or we can look back to the body of beleaguered believers encouraged thus by the apostle Peter: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).

Though slandered and scattered, these believers trusted that God would glorify himself among unbelievers through their good deeds and patient endurance. That’s the ethic captured in The Gospel Coalition’s Theological Vision for Ministry. Notably, this document says nothing about our rights. But it does hold out hope for significant cultural influence if we seek service rather than power. And it warns, “But if we seek direct power and social control, we will, ironically, be assimilated into the very idolatries of wealth, status, and power we seek to change.”

We dare not defend our rights if this defense assimilates us into the culture of ressentiment [sic]. State-sanctioned persecution would be a better fate.

But there is a better way, laid out by Carsonat the end of The Intolerance of Tolerance. Let us practice civility toward our neighbors, believers or not. Preach the gospel and watch seeds of faith sprout. Be prepared to suffer—“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

All the while, trust and delight in God. No one can snatch your joy from the Father’s hand. But you can squander divine delight and squelch the witness of the Spirit by fighting for your rights while forgetting the sovereign Creator who endows them.”

-Collin Hansen, 03-01-2012

Don’t Be Left in the Dark Without Any Oil

How do I live if I wish to do all to the Glory of God? Convicting and wise council from J.C. Ryle a la Matthew 25:1-13, 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colosians 3:17. While the believer is secure in Christ, we still don’t want to be caught unprepared when our time on earth is finished.

“Live as if you thought that Christ might come at any time. Do everything, as if you did it for the last time. Say everything, as if you said it for the last time. Read every chapter in the Bible, as if you did not know whether you would be allowed to read it again. Pray every prayer, as if you felt it might be your last opportunity. Hear every sermon, as if you were hearing once and forever. This is the way to be found ready. This is the way to turn Christ’s second appearing to good account. This is the way to put on the armor of light.”

-J.C. Ryle, Tract: Coming Events and Present Duties http://jcrylequotes.com/2012/01/30/live-as-if-christ-will-appear-today/

The Gospel in an Abortion Culture

“As the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision approaches, most Christians recognize, and rightly so, the loss of millions of unborn human lives. What we often forget is the second casualty of an abortion culture: the consciences of countless men and women.

Too often, pastors and church leaders assume that, when talking about abortion, their invisible debating partner is the “pro-choice” television commentator or politician. Not so. Many of the people endangered by the abortion culture aren’t even pro-choice.

In your congregation this Sunday, and in the neighborhoods around you right now, there are women vulnerable to abortionist propaganda, not because they reject the church but because they’re afraid they ‘ll lose the church. Pregnant young women are scared they will scandalize church people when they start to show, so they keep it secret. Parents are fearful their pregnant daughter, or their son’s pregnant girlfriend, will prompt the rest of the congregation to see them as bad families.

As they keep all of this secret from the Body of Christ, many of them fall prey to the false gospel of the abortion clinic. “We can take care of this for you,” these people say. “And it will all go away.”

Moreover, there are thousands of men and women in our churches who have aborted their children, or urged the abortion of their grandchildren. Bearing the shame of this, they keep it secret. And in the concealment, the satanic powers accuse them: “We know who you are; you’re a murderer, like us.”

Every time pastors and church leaders speak, they are speaking, at least potentially, to these men and women, the aborting and the abortionists. Many of these people don’t argue that the “fetus” is a “person.” Their consciences testify to that, and they’re either tortured by this or violently trying to sear over that persistent internal message.

The answer, for the church, is to preach the gospel to the conscience.

For many evangelicals, to “preach the gospel” seems to be obvious and ineffective because they think this means to, by rote, prompt people to accept Jesus and go to heaven. But the gospel speaks right where the abortion culture is in slavery, to the conscience.

For one thing, those guilty of this silent atrocity often don’t think we’re talking to them. For some, the demonic structures have helped them to conceal this secret, and to convince them the safest thing to do is to try to forget it altogether. Others are so burdened down by guilt, they really don’t believe they are included in the “whosoever will” of our gospel invitations.

Speak directly to these people. To the woman who has had the abortion. To the man who has paid for an abortion. To the health care worker who has profited off of tearing apart the bodies of the young and the consciences of their parents.

Speak clearly of the horror of judgement to come. Confirm what every accusing conscience already knows: clinic privacy laws cannot keep all this from being exposed at the tribunal of Christ. When the Light shines, there’s not enough darkness in which to hide and cringe.

But don’t stop there.

Proclaim just as openly that judgment has fallen on the quivering body of a crucified Jesus—accused by Satan, indicted by the Law, enveloped by the curse.

An abortion culture knows that hell exists, and they know judgment waits (Rom 2:14-16). Agree with them, but point them to the truth that God is not simply willing to forgive them. Show them how in Christ God is both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom 3:26).

The woman who has had the abortion needs to know that, if she is hidden in Christ, God does not see her as “that woman who had the abortion.” He hasn’t been subverted from sending her to hell because she found a gospel “loophole.” In Christ, she’s already been to hell.

And, in the resurrected Christ, God has already told her what he thinks of her: “You are my beloved child and in you I am well-pleased.”

The consciences around us don’t believe what they’re telling themselves. They’re scared and accused. Shine the light in the eyes of their consciences. Prophetically. All for justice, legally and culturally, for the unborn. But don’t stop there.

After all, the spirit of murder doesn’t start or end in the abortion clinic (Matt. 5:21, 15:19; Jn. 8:44; Acts 9:1; Rom. 1:29; Jn. 3:15). And the blood of Christ has cleansed the consciences of rebels like all of us.

Warn of hell, but offer mercy. Offer that mercy not only at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but in the small groups and hallways of your church.”

-Russell D. Moore, January 19, 2012, Complements of:  http://www.russellmoore.com/2012/01/19/the-gospel-in-an-abortion-culture/

Open Letter to the Star Tribune

“Dear Editor,

Are you aware of the fact that the same day the Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved the unconditional permission to terminate the lives of 24-week-old fetuses, the neonatology unit at Abbot Northwestern was caring for a 22-and-a-half week-old (500 gram) preemie with good chances of healthy life?

Now that is news and calls for profound reflection. Instead, your lead editorial the morning after (Feb. 26) glossed over this critical issue and endorsed abortion because it is “one of the most personal decisions a woman can make” and because “the abortion decision is undeniably sensitive.” This level of reflection is unworthy of major editorials in good newspapers.

I assume you mean by “personal decision” not: having deep personal implications; but: having deep personal implications for only one person, the mother.

But abortion is emphatically not a “personal” decision in that limited sense. There is another person, namely, the unborn child. If you deny this, you must give an account of what that little preemie is at Abbot Northwestern. Abortion is a decision about competing human rights: the right not to be pregnant and the right not to be killed.

I assume you approve of the Committee’s action. But I also assume you would not approve of the mother’s right to strangle the preemie at Abbot before its 25th week of life. If so you owe your readers an explanation of your simple endorsement of abortion because it is “personal” and “sensitive”.

In fact I challenge you to publish two photographs side by side: one of this “child” outside the womb and another of a “fetus” inside the womb both at 23 or 24 weeks, with a caption that says something like: “We at the Star Tribune regard the termination of the preemie as manslaughter and the termination of the fetus as the personal choice of the mother.”

I have read in your pages how you disdain the use of pictures because abortion is too complex for simplistic solutions. But I also remember how you approved the possible televising of an execution as one of the most effective ways of turning the heart of America against capital punishment (a similarly complex issue).

We both know that if America watched repeated termination of 23-week-old fetuses on television (or saw the procedure truthfully documented in your paper), the sentiment of our society would profoundly change. (The Alan Guttmacher Institute estimated over 9,000 abortions after 21 weeks in 1987.)

Words fail to describe the barbarity of an unconditional right to take the life of a human being as fully developed as 23 weeks. You could never successfully defend it in the public presence of the act itself.

You can do so only in the moral fog of phrases like: Abortion must be left to the woman because it is “undeniably sensitive”. This is not compelling. There are many sensitive situations where the state prescribes limits for how we express our feelings where others are concerned. And there is another concerned. If you are willing, you may meet this “other person” face to face in dozens of hospitals around the country.

Sincerely yours,

John Piper”

March 2, 1992, Complements of:

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/open-letter-to-the-star-tribune

Are You Elect? Do You Have Fruit?

“Election can only be known by its fruits. The Elect of God can only be discerned from those who are not Elect by their faith and life. We cannot climb up into the secret of God’s eternal counsels. We cannot read the book of life. The fruits of the Spirit, seen and manifested in a man’s conversation, are the only grounds on which we can ascertain that he is one of God’s Elect. Where the marks of God’s Elect can be seen, there, and there only, have we any warrant for saying “this is one of the Elect.” How do I know that yon distant ship on the horizon of the sea has any pilot or steersman on board? I cannot with the best telescope discern anything but her masts and sails. Yet I see her steadily moving in one direction. That is enough for me.”

 

-J.C. Ryle, Old Paths, “Election”

Why Did Methuselah Live the Longest?

A Short Reflection on the Man Who Lived the Longest

Anyone who’s ever played Bible trivia knows that Methuselah lived longer than anyone else. He died at the ripe old age of 969. But have you ever wondered why?

Putting aside all of the environmental factors of a pre-Flood world (where lifetimes lasted a lot longer than they do today), I’m convinced the answer has more to do with the character of God than the physical constitution or health consciousness of Methuselah.

When Methuselah was born, the text of Genesis 5 indicates that his father Enoch began to walk with God in earnest (Gen. 5:21–22). Many commentators believe that it was during the time of Methuselah’s birth that God revealed to Enoch the reality of the coming Flood—which is why Enoch spent the next three centuries warning the world around him of God’s impending retribution (Jude 14-15).

Methuselah’s name can be translated as either “man of the javelin” or “man of the sending forth.” It is likely, especially given the context of Genesis 5–6, that his name referred to the reality of God’s coming judgment—a global Flood that would be sent forth with sudden force and destruction. The further implication is that divine wrath would not fall until after Methuselah died. (Some scholars even render the meaning of his name as “his death shall bring forth.” )

Methuselah lived 969 years. If you add up the length of time between Methuselah’s birth and Noah entering the ark (187+182+600), it is also 969 years. That means, in the very year Methuselah died, the Flood was sent forth like a javelin on the earth.

So why did God allow Methuselah to live for so many years—longer than anyone else in human history?

I believe it was as an illustration of His incredible patience. The fact that Methuselah lived almost 1,000 years demonstrates the longsuffering nature of God. From the time God revealed the reality of that judgment to Enoch, it was almost a millennium before raindrops of wrath started to fall in the days of Noah.

Methuselah’s long lifetime fits with Peter’s depiction of God’s patience in 2 Peter 3. After discussing the Flood (in vv. 5-6), the apostle writes in verses 8-9:

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

So, next time someone asks you, What’s the name of the oldest man in the Bible? Don’t just answer “Methuselah” as if his age were merely some trivial factoid. Instead, consider the fact that 969 years is a really long time—not just for any one man to live, but for a holy God to be patient with a rebellious planet.

-Nathan Busenitz, http://thecripplegate.com/why-did-methuselah-live-the-longest/

We Come, O Christ to You

“We come, O Christ to you, true Son of God and man,
By whom all things consist, in whom all life began:
In you alone we live and move, and have our being in your love.

You are the Way to God, your blood our ransom paid;
In you we face our Judge and Maker unafraid.
Before the throne absolved we stand, your love has met your law’s demand.

You are the living Truth! All wisdom dwells in you,
the Source of every skill, the one eternal true!
O great I AM! In you we rest, sure answer to our every quest.

You only are true Life, to know you is to live
The more abundant life that earth can never give:
O risen Lord! We live in you: in us each day your life renew!

We worship you, Lord Christ, our Savior and our King,
To you our youth and strength adoringly we bring:
So fill our hearts, that all may view your life in us, and turn to you.”

-E. Margaret Clarkson, 1957

Christ’s Glory Transforms

“A constant view of the glory of Christ will revive our souls and cause our spiritual lives to flourish and thrive. The more we behold the glory of Christ by aith now, the more spiritual and the more heavenly will be the state of our souls. The reason why spiritual life in our soul decays and withers is because we fill our minds with other things….But when the mind is filled with thoughts of Christ and his glory, these things will be expelled…. This is how our spiritual life will be revived.”

-John Owen, The Glory of Christ: Abridged and Made Easy to Read by R. J. K. Law, 167