Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

this.n.that-small                    CHRISTIAN LIVING:

  • Dear Moms, You Do More Than You Know. Kevin DeYoung writes “Here’s what I know from the first chapter and a half of Exodus: Up to this point in Exodus, the entire story has been moved forward by women, and specifically by women looking after children. This great story of divine deliverance–this world famous salvation story that will set the table for the salvation story of Calvary that is yet to come–would never have gotten off the ground if it weren’t for women.”
  • How to Handle Your Spouses’ Sexual Past. Jasmine Holmes shares these three sins to fight.
  • Five Suggestions for Christians in the Midst of the Sexual Revolution. Kevin DeYoung writes “Hardly a week goes by without another social media parade marching by in celebration of the sexual revolution.” He offers five suggestions on how evangelical Christians and evangelical churches should respond.
  • I Am An Old-Fashioned Christian. Tim Challies writes “I get the books. I read the articles. I see the news. Christianity seems ready to move on. And I realize anew: I am an old-fashioned kind of Christian.” Your Neighbor Knows About the Wrath of God. John Piper writes “My plea is that all of us who love the gospel of Jesus and who love people will not shrink back from speaking boldly and clearly and wisely about the whole counsel of God, including the wonderful truth that Jesus delivers from the wrath of God.”
  • Adoption Improved the Perfect Little Family. In this five-minute video, Voddie and Bridget Baucham discuss their adoption journey and what God has been teaching them through it.
  • What Is a Christian’s Responsibility to Government? R.C. Sproul writes “The New Testament gives us some broad principles on how we are supposed to respond to government.”

COMFORT FOR THE HURTING:

  • A Big God Will Eclipse Every Pain. Marshall Segal writes “Often the moments of life we feel most helpful are when sitting with friends or family who are suffering.”

CHURCH LIFE:

  • If the Gospel Isn’t Shaping Your Church, What Is? Mark Dever (pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.), J. D. Greear (pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina) and John Onwuchekwa (pastor of Cornerstone Church in Atlanta, Georgia) reflect on the “gospel-centeredness” of their own ministries, share advice for church leaders, and more.
  • Tough Love for the Black Church. Christianity Today interviews Thabiti Anyabwile, a Reformed pastor in Washington, D.C., who offers celebration, critique, and hope for revival.

IN THE NEWS:

  • An Appeal to Men to Stand up for Women and Care for and Defend Their Children. Randy Alcorn shares the tenth “Planned Parenthood” video and writes “The history of abortion in America should bring more shame to men than to anyone. No pregnancy happens without a man. Men should take the responsibility for their own purity and to protect that of women.” He also offers a free copy of his Randy Alcorn’s book Why ProLife?
  • Yogi Berra Dies. The Yankee great passed away recently at the age of 90. Here are some of his famous sayings accumulated by Gene Veith.
Courtesy of World Magazine

Courtesy of World Magazine

GREAT RESOURCES:

Ligonier National Conference

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

                   Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

 Favorite QuotesEvery hour of every day, God is richly blessing us; both when we sleep and when we wake His mercy waits upon us. Charles Spurgeon

One of these days you may be unable to get rid of those habits which you are now forming. Charles Spurgeon

When God has given you your heart’s desire, what have you done with your heart’s desire? Jeremiah Burroughs

God answers the prayer we ought to have made rather than the prayer we did make.  J.I. Packer

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles5 Gears

    • 5 Gears – A New Productivity Book to Check Out. Brad Lomenick writes that this new book by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram, founders of GiANT Worldwide will “Help you develop a rhythm and routine for your life that allows you to be productive at the right time of the day, as well as shift gears to be truly present with your family and fully recharge.”
    • The New Necessity for Leadership Success. Dan Rockwell shares 25 qualities and behaviors that will make success more likely for leaders
    • Foundation. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses building a strong foundation.
    • The Four Phases of Your Life’s Work (Which Describes You?) Dan Cumberland writes “There are four major phases that people find themselves in when it comes to doing their life’s work. These phases describe a person’s journey toward a deeper expression of who she is in what she does.
    • Five Dangers of Only Looking at the Past. Eric Geiger writes “There are many leaders who are stuck in the past. While there are dangers in leading with only a view of the present or with only a view of the future, leading with your mind only rooted in the past is destructive. Here are five dangers with only looking at the past as you lead.”
    • 5 Habits of Innovative Leaders. Samuel Deuth shares five habits and key questions that will help us develop as innovative leaders.
    • Four Ways Leaders Should Rebuke and Challenge. Eric Geiger writes “In a leadership role, leaders are required to confront and challenge team members and peers. While the issues are often performance and communication issues, and not sin issues, we can still glean insight from biblical exhortations on confrontation. Leaders should rebuke and challenge others in the following four ways.”
    • 7 Signs Your Culture is Sick. Dan Rockwell writes “I don’t want to be a pessimist, but I think there’s more sickness in organizational cultures than health. Healthy organizational culture results from focused attention. Sick cultures indicate distraction and neglect.”
    • Treating Our Tasks as from God. Robert Fraser writes “Once we change bosses [from men to Christ], we are to obey our earthly bosses “just as we would obey Christ” (Eph 6:5). Even though our tasks are dictated by others, we are to treat them as if they come directly from the throne of God. Then we become “like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from our heart” (Eph. 6:6). By viewing our tasks this way, several things happen.”
    • How to Re(Gain) Your Leader’s Trust. Eric Geiger writes “Credibility with your leader is essential. If your leader does not trust you, your influence and impact will be greatly hampered. So how do you regain your leader’s trust in the midst of difficult challenges and disappointment? Here are six steps to regain your leader’s trust.”
    • What Does Hope Have to Do with Leadership? Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “Human beings cannot live without some form of human recognition or some sense of hope that things will get better. The same is true in the business world.”

“Vocation is integral, not incidental, to the mission of God in the world.” Steven Garber

 Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

Kingdom CallingKingdom Calling: Vocational Calling for the Common Good by Amy L. Sherman

I first read this book in a “Calling, Vocation and Work” class with Dr. Michael Williams and Dr. Bradley Matthews at Covenant Seminary two summers ago. King Jesus is on a mission to bring restoration in every sphere of society and has invited His followers to join Him in this Kingdom-advancing work. Learn to deeply, creatively and intentionally steward your vocational power in ways that advance foretastes of the coming Kingdom of shalom for our neighbors near and far.

It’s an excellent book, so let’s read it together. This week we’ll look at Chapter 7 ~ Discovery.

  • Beyond casting an inspirational vision to congregants to steward their vocation for God’s glory and the good of their neighbors, church leaders need to provide a system that helps their people to examine their gifts, passions and “holy discontents,” and the dimensions of their vocational power.
  • Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in the Kansas City metro area is a national leader in walking members through this process of discovery and equipping for service.
  • Any church serious about vocational stewardship needs to designate a specific individual or team, paid or unpaid, that devotes time and energy to the work of equipping the laity.
  • Pleasant Valley’s equipping system is composed of staff training, a thoughtful adult education curriculum, one-on-one coaching and a database tool called Church Community Builder (CCB).
  • Congregational leaders need to establish deliberate pathways for helping members to discover and apply their talents.
  • At Pleasant Valley, the first steps on that pathway unfold through its four-week “Discover Your Design” course. This course relies heavily on Saddleback Church’s SHAPE assessment as well as assessment and spiritual formation tools that Pleasant Valley has crafted. Congregants learn through the class to identify their spiritual gifts, passions, skills, abilities and personality traits, and the key life experiences that have shaped them.
  • This high view of laity is emphasized in Vernon’s preaching from the pulpit. That preaching is then reinforced by the strong emphasis leaders put on having all congregants take the “Discover Your Design” course.
  • The task of discovery includes, but must go beyond, the traditional emphasis on spiritual gifts assessments. The vast majority of these assessments don’t help congregants to see how they can apply their spiritual gifts in the context of their daily work or in volunteer service outside the four walls of the church.
  • The seven dimensions of vocational power my fellow church members and I have identified are knowledge/expertise, platform, networks, influence, position, skills and reputation/fame.
  • Knowledge/expertise. Workers accumulate specific knowledge for the industries or fields they are in. This results from educational and vocational preparation as well as on-the-job experience.
  • Platform. Some professions provide workers a voice, an opportunity to get a message out or to shine the spotlight on an issue, cause, person, place or organization.
  • Networks. To take stock of vocational networks, congregants can begin by listing current and former coworkers. Then they can identify friends and colleagues from their time of vocational preparation (college, graduate school, training programs); colleagues they have met at professional conferences; and customers, vendors, partners, mentors and public officials they have interacted with on the job. Most people are surprised to see just how wide their network is.
  • Influence. In 2003, a book called The Influentials by Ed Keller and Jon Berry made the case that the kind of power known as influence-the capacity to cause an effect in indirect or intangible ways-is not synonymous with position. That is, people can have substantial influence without holding high positions. All Christians, regardless of their position within an organization, should consider what degree of influence they possess in their work setting-and how that influence can be used creatively for good.
  • Position is a dimension of vocational power that involves the degree of authority one has within an organization based on seniority or title or reputation. It also denotes the standing or credibility a person has that comes from the positional power of her or his organizational affiliation.
  • Sometimes people are so used to simply performing their jobs that they don’t often stop to take stock of the many different skills they are using in the process. Individuals in various vocations possess an almost endless array of skills.
  • Some professionals achieve a high level of name recognition within-and sometimes beyond-their vocational field. This can afford them entry to powerbrokers, capacities for mobilizing a large following or strategic opportunities to direct wide-scale attention to a particular issue or cause.
  • Beyond identifying spiritual gifts and dimensions of vocational power, the task of discovery involves encouraging congregants to discern their holy discontent.
  • A holy discontent is that passion that “wrecks” a person-that issue that “keeps you up at night; something in the world you want to fix.”


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3 Thoughts on Retirement for the Christian

Life is too shortAre you still working? When are you going to retire? I hear that often these days when I see people I worked with in the past but haven’t seen for a while, or from friends or members of my extended family. And the truth be told, many people that I have worked with have retired over the past few years. It’s hard to believe. One day you are the youngest on the staff and then seemingly in no time, you are the oldest.

But I’m not one who has ever counted down the years to retirement. I still enjoy my job and the people I work with, and that makes a big difference. But I know that some people hate their jobs and can’t wait to retire, the ultimate “Is it Friday yet?”

How should Christians think about retirement? Is it all about taking it easy, traveling and playing golf? Or maybe taking a part-time job and doing some volunteer work? John Piper has been helpful in shaping my thoughts on retirement. Here are three ideas for you to consider based on his writings:

  1. The Bible doesn’t explicitly talk about retirement. We don’t, for example, read about Moses or the Apostle Paul retiring at age 65. Piper writes: “Finishing life to the glory of Christ means resolutely resisting the typical American dream of retirement.” I know this will be unpopular with some readers and some will object to this concept, feeling that they deserve a life of leisure after working for around fifty years. But I believe that thinking is culturally based and ultimately unbiblical. Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?
  2. Finish strong. I want to finish strong, and be like Paul when he wrote in II Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. I long to hear my Savior say “Well done, good and faithful servant”. My model for finishing strong is a man named Art. Now well into his 80’s, Art has written many articles for Coram Deo over the years, mentors young men, reads a lot, and continues to run the race well. May I say that he “doesn’t act his age”, and I mean that in the most positive and respectful way. May I be like Art as I finish my race. Piper writes that finishing life to the glory of Christ means finishing life in a way that makes Christ look glorious. How about you? How do you plan to spend your final years to make a difference for Christ?
  3. Don’t Waste Your Retirement. John Piper’s excellent book Don’t Waste Your Life is one of my favorites, and one that I have read often. In that book Piper writes:  “I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.”  At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells.  Picture them before Christ at the great Day of Judgment: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.’ That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life.”

If we retire in our late 50’s or early to mid-60’s, hopefully we will have many years before our physical and mental powers fail. Piper challenges us to live those final years for the glory of Christ. If you are retired, or within a few years of retiring, how do you plan to live them in such a way as to show that Christ is your highest Treasure?

Lord willing, I hope to not waste my retirement. Completing my seminary education has served to equip me theologically. In God’s providence, I hope to serve my local church through teaching, mentoring and discipling during my retirement for as long as I am able.

Piper charges us to: “Live dangerously for the one who loved you and died for you in his thirties. Don’t throw your life away on the American dream of retirement.”  How do you plan to live dangerously in your last season of life for Christ?

Only One Life


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

musicnewsSmoke Break. Did you see Carrie Underwood perform her latest single on The Tonight Show recently?

  • Andy Mineo’s Toca Tuesdays Freestyle. Andy Mineo stops by Shade 45 and freestyle for DJ Tony Touch’s “Toca Tuesdays.”
  • Switchfoot is back in the studio recording album number ten. Can’t wait for it.
“The idea that art should reflect the beauty and order of God’s creation dispels the notion that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”   Fernando Ortega

Song of the Week

Uncomfortable by Andy Mineo

This week, to celebrate his new album Uncomfortable, we feature two songs by Andy Mineo. First, we look at the title song from the new album. It’s one of my most highly anticipated releases of the year. This was one of the songs you received when you pre-ordered the album, so I’ve been enjoying it for weeks. Watch the video here.

Nobody told me you die like this
Nobody told me you could die from bliss, yeah
Nobody told me, nobody told me
We never ever saw it comin’, no, no
Live it up, live it up
Nobody ever told us we could die like this
Live it up, live it up
Nobody ever told us, we never saw it comin’, no
Live it up, live it up
Nobody ever told us we could die like this
Live it up, live it up
Corrupted by the comfort we…

God prepared me for the war
Comfort be the thing that’ll make a king fold
Eyes on the Lord, gotta grip that blade or the sword
Tell me how you plan on gettin’ swole if you don’t ever get sore (hold up)
They say, “Andy, this ain’t music for your core”
If they jumpin’ ship now, they was never on board
I got enemies, man they wanna see me on the floor
I got frenemies, couldn’t even tell you who they are
If you’re not driven by the mission, you’ll be driven by the cars
Focused on what you been given more than becomin’ who you are
I tried to point ’em to the Son, but why they callin’ me a star?
Who woulda thought we set their minds free with these bars?
In this game, in this biz
Want the fame, gon’ get rich
Comfort, everybody wantin’ it
Never knew I could be lost in this
This my sophomore, gotta go hard
When the show over, no encore
I got enough but I want more, want more

Nobody told me you die like this
Nobody told me you could die from bliss, yeah
Nobody told me, nobody told me
We never ever saw it comin’

My own people owned people, but they don’t own that
They say racism dead, man our president is black
Two terms in the White House, that don’t mean jack
If we still believe our present ain’t affected by our past
First class with a Coach bag, I forgot
When you start eatin’ you lose your hunger then grow fat
I apologize for Christians with pickets sayin’, “God hates fags”
I promise Jesus wouldn’t act like that
He said it’s hard for a rich man to get to heaven
When we feel like we don’t need God, then we forget Him
We tell ’em that, “If you don’t make me money or make me happy
Then I ain’t makin’ time for ya’, so make it snappy”
And I think lately you mistake me for a cabby
Cause this drive that I got put everybody in the backseat
So if you wanna live a comfortable life
Make sure you never love nobody, be selfish and never sacrifice

We got legal weed that’ll keep us high
‘Round the world other people die
Where on earth is my wi-fi?
Our stomachs full and our pockets fat
I need love, there’s a site for that
I had more when I had less

I think I got too comfortable, yeah
I think I got too comfortable
I think I got too comfortable, yeah
I think I got, I know I got
I think I got too comfortable
I know I got, I think I got
I know I got, a little too comfortable

“You Can’t Stop Me” by Andy Mineo was recently voted the top “Walk Up” song in Major League Baseball. Watch the video here.

You can’t stop me

Huh, can’t stop won’t stop, where the brakes at?
I give ’em that diddy bop, like take that, take that, take that, take that
I’m a put in work, I’m a do that ASAP
Throw my faith in rap, but they say don’t say that huh?
What I’m a turn down for, I feel like Shaq in nine four
Breaking glass in that backboard, or like Kobe in Toronto, huh?
Dropping 81, Yo I drop the 88, Ricky Bobby, shake and bake
Sleeping on us should have stayed awake, huh?
Everybody make mistakes like VJs trying to say my name
It’s Mineo, say it with me, Mineo – Okay great
Two forks high, raise the stakes, risk it all, I take the hate
It’s the winning team, get the Gatorade
My God good, but he’s not safe, nah

They try to shut us down, and it ain’t gon’ slide
Only thing I fear is God and he on my side
That’s the confidence of God, cause he got me
That’s why I really feel like

You can’t stop me
That’s all you got? Come on with it
That’s all you got?
You can’t stop me

(You) don’t got the power, (can’t) shut me down
(Stop), that’s not an option, (me) I’m my biggest problem
(You) don’t got the power, (can’t) shut me down
(Stop), that’s not an option
You can’t stop me

You’re my biggest opponent, you know me I know you we know it
Whenever I fail, you’ve always been there to simply remind me I’ve blown it
You don’t see when I’m growing, you don’t see where I’m going
You only see in the moment, you know my mistakes you never let go it
Huh, don’t cease to amaze me, and it drive me crazy, huh
That you catch every detail that I miss in the songs I’m making, saying
You will never write a verse like Kendrick
Never be the rap or rock God from Hendrix
Top 10 alive you will never be mentioned
Why aim so high, won’t survive the trenches
Plus, you a Christian Andy, they will never listen Andy
Plus, where your pigment Andy, huh, you ain’t got skill you a gimmick Andy
Well, if I listen to you, and everything you put in my ear
I’ll be living like woulda, shoulda, coulda, I’ll be paralyzed by fear
Huh, ain’t that the truth, if I quit the only way I lose
I got two choices when I do this – make moves or make excuses
Huh, if you know who I’m talking about, then you got me
My biggest enemy is me – and even I can’t stop me

I said if I cannot stop me then you’ll never stop me
Oh no, can’t stop, oh no, won’t stop


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

John Knox Fearless Faith by Steven LawsonBOOK REVIEW:

John Knox: Fearless Faith by Steven Lawson. Christian Focus Publications. 128 pages. 2015
****

I have very much enjoyed Steven Lawson’s short A Long Line of Godly Men series biographies published by Reformation Trust, the latest of which is on William Tyndale. This new biography is not part of that series but is in every way identical to those books (which already had a biography of John Knox written by Douglas Bond). Lawson dedicates this book to his “fellow laborer and friend” Sinclair Ferguson. It was encouraging to see Lawson sitting in the first row at Saint Andrews Chapel on February 22 when Dr. Ferguson preached on Galatians 2:20.

This book is in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Knox, born 1514. He is known as “the Father of the Scottish Reformation” and “the Founder of the Scottish Protestant Church”. Martyn Lloyd-Jones called Knox the founder of the English Puritan movement.

Lawson writes: “If Martin Luther was the hammer of the Reformation and John Calvin the pen, John Knox was the trumpet”.

Lawson tells us that Knox was ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church by the Bishop of Dunblane in April, 1536, and that by the end of March 1543 he was committed to the Christian gospel. George Wishar was a powerful Reformed preacher who began a preaching itinerancy in southern Scotland. Knox became one of his closest disciples and followers. From Wishart, Knox learned boldness and courage in ministry, as well as faithfulness to Reformed doctrine in preaching.

Lawson recounts the details of Knox’s life and ministry in this fast moving account of his life as England and Scotland go from Roman Catholic to Protestant leadership. You will read about Knox as a pastor and his friendship with John Calvin in Geneva. Knox sat under the teaching of Calvin and also studied Greek and Hebrew in Geneva.

You will read about him serving as a galley slave in the hull of a French battleship for nineteen months, during which there were repeated efforts made by his French captors to drive Knox back to Catholicism. You’ll read about his many confrontations with Scotland’s brutal Roman Catholic Queen Mary, known as “Bloody Mary”. Lawson writes: “Throughout Knox’s tempestuous life, this rugged Scot was never any bolder than when he stood before Mary, Queen of Scots. Whenever summoned to appear in her royal presence, Knox asserted that he spoke to her in God’s presence. He never once backed down from her, nor did he ever hesitate to speak frankly. Knox was raised up by God to be the primary instrument in the preservation of the Protestant cause in Scotland.”

Knox was married to Marjory. In December 1560, she would die at only twenty-seven years of age. She left behind their two young sons, Nathanael and Eleazar. His mother-in-law, Mrs. Bowes, would continue to live in the household and assist in raising the children. On Palm Sunday, 25 March 1564, Knox married his second wife, Margaret Stewart, the daughter of his old friend Lord Ochiltree. Knox was aged fifty and Margaret just seventeen. During the sixteenth century, this age discrepancy was not uncommon. Margaret Stewart would bear Knox three daughters and would survive her husband by some forty years.

Knox was associated with a new English version of the Bible known as the Geneva Bible. This translation would be the Bible of choice for the Reformers and Puritans during the next century and the Bible that the Pilgrims would take to the New World in 1620. In 1995, R.C. Sproul would serve as the General Editor for the New Geneva Study Bible (later renamed as The Reformation Study Bible).

Lawson concludes the book with the lasting impact of John Knox: “The strong character of John Knox’s ministry of the Word resonates across the centuries. The commitments described below are worthy guideposts for later generations of preachers as well.

  • First, Knox believed he had been personally called by God to preach the Word.
  • Second, Knox believed that the Bible is the infallible Word of the living God.
  • Third, Knox was profoundly aware that on the last day, he must give an account of himself as a preacher to the One who had called him into the ministry. This sobering reality filled him with reverential awe for God and made him unshakable before men and women. Because Knox feared God, he did not fear humans. He preached so strongly because he feared God so deeply.
  • Fourth, Knox was gifted with a brilliant mind, which he devoted to the diligent study of Scripture.
  • Fifth, Knox often preached through entire books of the Bible, or at least through extended sections of them.
  • Sixth, Knox was firmly committed in his preaching to the sound doctrine of the Reformers.
  • Seventh, Knox strongly asserted the absolute sovereignty of God over all things.
  • Eighth, Knox believed that the highest aim of preaching the Scripture must be the proclamation of Jesus Christ.
  • Ninth, Knox was known as a fiery preacher of the Word of God.
  • Tenth, Knox was a preacher who regularly petitioned God in prayer to bless the proclamation of His Word.”

If you are looking for a great biography to read, check out John Knox: Fearless Faith by Steven Lawson.

Book News

  • How Making Time for Books Made Me Feel Less Busy. Hugh McGuire writes “Following these three rules has made a huge impact on my life. I have more time—since I am no longer constantly chasing the next byte of information. Reading books again has given me more time to reflect, to think, and has increased both my focus and the creative mental space to solve work problems. My stress levels are much lower, and energy levels up.”

Studies in the Sermon on the MountStudies in the Sermon on the Mount BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

This book made a significant impact on my wife Tammy when she read and discussed it with friends thirty years ago. When I picked up my diploma the day after graduation ceremonies from Covenant Seminary last year I was given a copy of this book. After enjoying Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Depression (and the sermons the book was taken from), I couldn’t wait to read this book, which is the printed form of sermons preached for the most part on successive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel in London. This week we look at Chapter Five: Blessed are They That Mourn.

  • This, like the first, stands out at once, and marks off the Christian as being quite unlike the man who is not a Christian and who belongs to the world.
  • Once more it is clear, that we have here something which is entirely spiritual in its meaning.
  • Those who are commended are those who mourn in spirit; they, says our Lord, are the happy people.
  • This description of the Christian as one who `mourns’ is one that makes us feel that somehow or another this is not as evident in the Church today as it once was.
  • The explanation of this is fairly obvious. It is partly a reaction against the kind of false puritanism that is often manifested itself in an assumed piety. It almost gave the impression that to be religious was to be miserable.
  • But I also think that another explanation of this is the idea which has gained currency that if we as Christians are to attract those who are not Christian we must deliberately affect an appearance of brightness and joviality. Probably that is the main explanation of the absence of this characteristic of mourning in the life of the Church today.
  • The final explanation of the state of the Church today is a defective sense of sin and it defective doctrine of sin. Coupled with that, of course, is a failure to understand the true nature of Christian joy. There is the double failure.
  • There is not the real, deep conviction of sin as was once the case; and on the other hand there is this superficial conception of joy and happiness which is very different indeed from that which we find in the New Testament.
  • Those who are going to be converted and who wish to be truly happy and blessed are those who first of all mourn. Conviction is an essential preliminary to true conversion.
  • Let us start, for instance, with our Lord Himself. One thing we observe is that we have no record anywhere that He ever laughed.
  • We are told He was to be a `man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief’, that His visage would be so marred that none would desire Him. That is the prophecy concerning Him, and as you look at these accounts of Him in the New Testament Gospels you will see that the prophecy was literally fulfilled.
  • To `mourn’ is something that follows of necessity from being `poor in spirit’. It is quite inevitable. As I confront God and His holiness, and contemplate the life that I am meant to live, I see myself, my utter helplessness and hopelessness. I discover my quality of spirit and immediately that makes me mourn.
  • The man who is truly Christian is a man who mourns also because of the sins of others. He does not stop at himself. He sees the same thing in others.
  • The man who mourns is really happy, says Christ; that is the paradox.
  • The man who truly mourns because of his sinful state and condition is a man who is going to repent;
  • And the man who truly repents as the result of the work of the Holy Spirit upon him, is a man who is certain to be led to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Having seen his utter sinfulness and hopelessness, he looks for a Saviour, and he finds Him in Christ. No-one can truly know Him as his personal Saviour and Redeemer unless he has first of all known what it is to mourn.
  • If we truly mourn, we shall rejoice, we shall be made happy, we shall be comforted.
  • Your great sorrow leads to joy, and without the sorrow there is no joy.
  • The man who mourns truly is comforted and is happy; and thus the Christian life is spent in this way, mourning and joy, sorrow and happiness, and the one should lead to the other immediately.
  • He knows there is a glory coming; he knows that a day will dawn when Christ will return, and sin will be banished from the earth. There will be `new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness’. 0 blessed hope! ‘Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.’
  • But what hope has the man who does not believe these things? What hope has the man who is not a Christian?
  • There is no comfort for the world now. But for the Christian man who mourns because of sin and because of the state of the world, there is this comfort-the comfort of the blessed hope, the glory that yet remains.
  • He is a man who looks at life seriously; he contemplates it spiritually, and he sees in it sin and its effects. He is a serious, sober-minded man. His outlook is always serious, but because of these views which he has, and his understanding of truth, he also has `a joy unspeakable and full of glory’.
  • The Christian is not superficial in any sense, but is fundamentally serious and fundamentally happy.
  • A deep doctrine of sin, a high doctrine of joy, and the two together produce this blessed, happy man who mourns, and who at the same time is comforted. The way to experience that, obviously, is to read the Scriptures, to study and meditate upon them, to pray to God for His Spirit to reveal sin in us to ourselves, and then to reveal to us the Lord Jesus Christ in all His fullness.

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

this.n.that-small                     CHRISTIANITY AND CULTURE:

  • 3 Ways You Can Help Syrian Refugees from Your Home. Chris Martin writes “I have been obviously saddened over this, but when it comes to horrific tragedies like this that are taking place half way around the world, I often feel useless because I can’t just pack up and rescue these refugees myself. If you feel like I do, fear not, there are plenty of ways you can get involved and help Syrian refugees.”
  • Greetings from Heaven: A Modern History of Heaven Tourism. With the opening of the film based on Don Piper’s best-selling book 90 Minutes in Heaven, Tim Challies teamed up with Josh Byers to prepare a creative infographic titled Greetings From Heaven: A Modern History of Heaven Tourism.
  • How Christians Can Evaluate Religious Liberty Objections. Russell Moore writes “In the near future threats to religious liberty will become increasingly common. Now is the time to show that Christians are the true champions of freedom for all believers.
  • ESPN’s “30 for 30” on President Bush’s “First Pitch”. Denny Burk shares this 24-minute video. ESPN describes the video “On the night of Oct. 30, 2001, President George W. Bush stepped onto the mound at Yankee Stadium to throw out the first pitch at Game 3 of the World Series, just six weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. With New York City and the entire country still trying to heal, the ceremonial first pitch that night meant more than “play ball.” ESPN Films’ new 30 for 30 Short “First Pitch” looks at how important that famous pitch was to the nation, and how baseball became a part of the recovery after 9/11.”
Courtesy of World Magazine

                            Courtesy of World Magazine

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

  • A Prayer for Days When We Wake Up with a Low-grade Irritability. It’s amazing how Scotty Smith’s prayers hit me just where I’m at. Here’s another one of those on irritability. My wife and I joke that Scotty has a camera in our homes (or hearts).
  • 7 Ways to be a Best Friend to a Pastor. Ron Edmondson writes “Every pastor needs a friend, besides a spouse — of the same gender — who knows them well and can encourage and challenge like no one else can.”
  • Calvinist Evangelist? Keith Matheson writes “The fact of the matter is that Calvinism is not inconsistent with evangelism; it is only inconsistent with certain evangelistic methods.”

RESOURCES:

  • Celebrating 1,000,000th Upload. SermonAudio.com was launched fifteen years ago with the mission to help faithful, local churches broadcast their audio sermons to the maximum amount of people with the least amount of cost. Today, their website is home to over one million sermons and podcasts from conservative churches and ministries worldwide.
  • Rosaria Butterfield Interview. Rosaria returned recently for another conversation with Eric Metaxas
  • Five Marks of Revived Churches. Ray Ortlund shares these five constants that appear in biblical revivals from J.I. Packer’s book God in our Midst.

JUST FOR FUN:

Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

     Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

Favorite Quotes of the Week 

  • Holding a grudge against someone means you think you know what they deserve and you take it upon yourself to give it to them. Tim Keller
  • You should not begin to pray for all you want until you realize that in God you have all you need. Tim Keller
  • Jesus didn’t come to tell us the answers to the questions of life, he came to be the answer. Tim Keller
  • God has chosen us. Our status is not a matter of our worthiness, but of His love. Sinclair Ferguson
  • Seeking happiness apart from a right relationship God is like trying to turn on a light that’s unplugged. Randy Alcorn
  • You will fear something or someone. The Bible says the wisest way to go about your life is to fear God. Kevin DeYoung
  • Our God is righteous enough to judge and kind enough to forgive. Kevin DeYoung
  • The difference between “freedom of worship” and “freedom of religion” is the difference between faith that’s hidden and faith that’s lived. Matt Smethurst
  • Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees. William Cowper
  • The heart of the gospel is that God took the initiative in Christ to satisfy his holy anger, and make himself our Treasure not our Terror. John Piper
  • Satan could make an “A” in my Systematic Theology course. He knows the information and knows that the information is true. R.C. Sproul
  • The gospel isn’t about our resolve, but Christ’s righteousness; not our promise to do better, but his provision of having done perfectly. Scotty Smith
  • The church is not built on the rock foundation of geniuses and influencers but of apostles and prophets. Russell Moore
  • I am a free man, the slave of Christ. John MacArthur
  • The rule of the gospel is, that when we see our brother under any difficulty, we should be ready to bear the burden with him. Jonathan Edwards
  • Wilberforce and the band of abolitionists knew that a private faith that did not act in the face of oppression was no faith at all. Chuck Colson
  • Living at peace with everyone…is not an option, it’s an obligation. Alistair Begg
  • If we could understand how impossible our situation is, we would grow in reverence for the kingship of Christ. Matt Chandler
  • If God cared only about religious activities, then the Pharisees would have been heroes of the faith. Francis Chan
  • Only the radical news of Jesus Christ can distract us from trivial pursuits and transform us from the inside out. Michael Horton
  • Humility begins with seeing who God is, seeing yourself compared to God, and then seeing yourself as God sees you. Steven Lawson
  • Many are looking for a special word from God while it sits on their shelves gathering dust. Burk Parsons
  • We are allergic to the lower place. But acts of love require a humble posture. Taking the low place means waiting for God to fill that void. Paul Miller
  • No one leads a holy life, except he is united to God.   John Calvin

Alistair Quote


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3 Perspectives on Calling

Os Guinness quoteRecently, I wrote about developing a personal mission statement, based on Matt Perman’s teaching in his excellent book What’s Best Next.  In his book he follows up the discussion of a personal mission statement with that of a life goal, or calling, a subject that I am passionate about, and talk of often.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about calling over the past few years. There are many perspectives on calling that I’ve read about. Here are three that I’ve found particularly helpful, and would like to share with you:

  • Life Goal. In What’s Best Next, Matt Perman writes that the large objectives we have are not actually mission statements, but are life goals, or visions. He tells us that while our mission is a matter of principles, a life goal is a specific aim. And while our mission will never be completed, a life goal can be completed. It has a finishing point.

Our mission is the ultimate reason for our existence, or our “Why”. Perman tells us that our life goal is our “What”. Our life goal is an objective so big that it governs all we do, and will most likely take our entire life.  It is what most people mean when they talk about finding our calling in life. It is the chief thing we are seeking to accomplish with our life.  Matt offers these helpful questions in identifying your life goal or vision:

  1. What would you do if you had all the money you needed and could do whatever you wanted?
  2. What would you do if you could do only one thing in the next three years?

What about you? Have you ever considered what your life goal is? It’s not too late to start doing that now.

  • Calling as a Path and Portfolio. In his new book The Art of Work, Jeff Goins tells us that finding our calling is a path, rather than a plan. He refers to our calling as that thing that you just cannot not He states that our calling is not a destination, but a journey that doesn’t end until we die. We must see the journey as one of building bridges, not as leaping off of bridges. It‘s a process and it takes time. Finding our calling is a series of intentional decisions.

Goins writes about seeing our callings as a portfolio. He states that our calling is more than our career. Instead, he suggests that we consider the variety of things that we do (work, home, play/hobbies, etc.) as our calling portfolio.

What about you? Where are you on your calling(s) journey? And what is in your calling portfolio?

  • Our Primary and Secondary Calls. Os Guinness’s book The Call is the best book on calling that I have read. I read the book in Dr. Philip Douglass’s excellent Spiritual and Ministry Formation course at Covenant Seminary two years ago. An abridged and more easily consumable version of the book was released as Rising to the Call.

Guinness tells us that there is no deeper meaning in life than to discover and live out your calling. He states that our calling is deeper than our jobs, our career, and all of our benchmarks of success. It is never too late to discover our calling, and that at some point all of us confront the question: “How do I find and fulfill the central purpose of my life?” He tells us that answering the call is the way to find and fulfill the central purpose of our lives.

He tells us that there is no calling without a caller and down through the centuries God’s call has provided the ultimate “Why” in the human search for purpose. He writes that if there is no Caller, there are no callings – only work.

Guinness tells us that if you are a follower of Christ, your primary calling is by Him, to Him, and for Him. Christian’s secondary calling, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for Him. Our secondary callings can be our jobs or vocations, but those and other things are always the secondary, never the primary calling. He refers to them as “callings”, rather than the “calling”.

Another helpful thought from Guinness is not to let our jobs define us and give us our identities. We spend so much of our waking time doing our work, this can certainly happen.  Think of when you meet someone. You ask them what they “do”. We can become what we do. Guinness tells us that calling reverses such thinking, and a sense of calling should precede a choice of job and career. The main way to discover calling is along the line of what we are each created and gifted to be. So, instead of thinking that you are what you do, calling says to do what you are.

Have you found yourself falling into the trap of becoming what you do?

Many people never think of the concept of a calling, only work. They see work, or their job, as a necessary evil. It’s something they have to do to pay the bills and put food on the table. They can’t wait for the weekend and are counting down the years to retirement. But I encourage you to pursue your calling, and these books by Matt Perman, Jeff Goins and Os Guinness are a great place to start.