Friday, August 31, 2012

the great I AM

God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:14 ESV)

"God has in himself all power to defend you, all wisdom to direct you, all mercy to pardon you, all grace to enrich you, all righteousness to clothe you, all goodness to supply you, and all happiness to crown you."  (Thomas Brooks)

God's covenant name in the OT is based upon God's description of himself: "I am."  He means more than he is the self-existent One.  He is that.  He is totally independent and self-sufficient.  But he is more: his being the "I am" in the Exodus (like Jesus repeated in the gospels, "I am...") means that he will be all that his people need him to be.  He is not only wholly sufficient in himself, but he will be wholly sufficient for all those who trust him. 

(The photo above is taken from the summit of Jebel Musa, the traditional site of Mount Sinai, along with the Tetragrammaton [YHWH] in Hebrew.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

heidelberg's opening question

Really love it.  Hard to improve upon it...

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

(Heidelberg Catechism, 1563)

Now that will get your day off to a good start!

More Heidelberg here.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

auction finds

For $5 a box of desk stuff that included four fountain pens, all of which were repaired / restored nicely:

--Parker 51 Special in teal (1950-- ?)
--Parker 21 Mark II in green (1951-54)
--Sheaffer Touchdown "Dolphin"
--Sheaffer cartridge pen

Friday, August 24, 2012

the active righteousness of Christ

Shortly before his death on January 1, 1937, J. Gresham Machen dictated a final telegram to his friend and colleague, Professor John Murray. It was brief: 

"I'm so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it." 

Here is a good explanation of what Machen meant.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

on religious freedom

Excellent article, thought-provoking, by Charles Chaput, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia.  Highlights...

Democracy is not an end in itself. Majority opinion does not determine what is good and true. Like every other form of social organization and power, democracy can become a form of repression and idolatry.

The right to pursue happiness does not include a right to excuse or ignore evil in ourselves or anyone else. When we divorce our politics from a grounding in virtue and truth, we transform our country from a living moral organism into a kind of Golem of legal machinery without a soul.

Critics often accuse faithful Christians of pursuing a “culture war” on issues such as abortion, sexuality, marriage and the family, and religious liberty. And in a sense, they’re right. We are fighting for what we believe. But of course, so are advocates on the other side of all these issues—and neither they nor we should feel uneasy about it. Democracy thrives on the struggle of competing ideas. We steal from ourselves and from everyone else if we try to avoid that struggle. In fact, two of the worst qualities in any human being are cowardice and acedia—and by acedia I mean the kind of moral sloth that masquerades as “tolerance” and leaves a human soul so empty of courage and character that even the devil Screwtape would spit it out. 

To work as it was intended, America needs a special kind of citizenry; a mature, well-informed electorate of persons able to reason clearly and rule themselves prudently. If that’s true— and it is—then the greatest danger to American liberty in our day is not religious extremism. It’s something very different. It’s a culture of narcissism that cocoons us in dumbed-down, bigoted news, vulgarity, distraction, and noise, while methodically excluding God from the human imagination. 

From "Building a Culture of Religious Freedom", found here on The Public Discourse.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

grace and self-denial

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works."  (Titus 2:11-14 ESV)

"We are to be willing to say no to ourselves, we are to be willing to say no to things, in order that the command to love God and men may have real meaning...  

"We do not come to true spirituality or the true Christian life merely by keeping a list, but neither do we come to it merely by rejecting the list and then shrugging our shoulders and living a looser life."

(Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

the cross-centered life

Here are a few quotes that I didn't use in Sunday's message, "The Cross-centered Life."  

“The concept of substitution may be said . . . to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accept penalties which belong to man alone.”  
--John R.W. Stott, The Cross of Christ (InterVarsity Press, 1986)

“All our obedience, every resolve to do good, and every work of faith is ‘by his power’ and so that the Lord Jesus would be glorified because of the grace he gives. Yes, we must pursue obedience, but that obedience must always be cruciform, formed by Christ’s cross. We must seek to obey because of the cross, find the grace to obey because of the cross, and live free from condemnation whether we succeed or fail in the light of the cross. The cross must be our only story, as Paul boldly proclaimed: ‘For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified’ (1 Cor. 2:2).” 
- Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson in Counsel from the Cross (Crossway Books, 2009)

"Let the thoughts of a crucified Christ be never out of your mind. Let them be meat and drink to you. Let them be your sweetness and consolation, your honey and your desire, your reading and your meditation, your life, death, and resurrection."
--Thomas Brooks, from Smooth Stones Taken From Ancient Brooks

"Your mind can only protect against the deceit of the flesh if you are cross-eyed.  That is, you can only keep the rottenness of sin and the kindness of God in mind if you fix your eyes on the cross.  What shows God's hatred of sin more than the cross?  What shows God's love to you more than the cross?  If you want to know exactly what sin deserves, you have to understand the cross.  If you want to know how infinitely deep the rot of sin reaches, you have to think through all the implications of the cross.  If you want to know how far God was willing to go to rescue you from sin, you have to see his precious Son hanging on the cross for you."  
--Kris Lundgaard, The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin

Saturday, August 4, 2012

abyss of wonders

Thomas Traherne (1637-1674), writing about Christ's death on the cross.  From his work, Centuries, I:58-60...

The Cross is the abyss of wonders, the center of desires, the school of virtues, the house of wisdom, the throne of love, the theater of joys, and the place of sorrows. It is the root of happiness, and the gate of Heaven.

Of all the things in Heaven and Earth it is the most peculiar. It is the most exalted of all objects.  It is an Ensign lifted up for all nations, to it shall the Gentiles seek, His rest shall be glorious: the dispersed of Judah shall be gathered together to it, from the four corners of the earth. If Love be the weight of the Soul, and its object the center, all eyes and hearts may convert and turn unto this Object: cleave unto this center, and by it enter into rest. 

There we might see all nations assembled with their eyes and hearts upon it. There we may see God’s goodness, wisdom and power: yea His mercy and anger displayed. There we may see man’s sin and infinite value. His hope and fear, his misery and happiness. There we might see the Rock of Ages, and the Joys of Heaven. There we may see a Man loving all the world, and a God dying for mankind. There we may see all types and ceremonies, figures and prophecies. And all kingdoms adoring a malefactor: An innocent malefactor, yet the greatest in the world. There we may see the most distant things in Eternity united: all mysteries at once couched together and explained. The only reason why this Glorious Object is so publicly admired by Churches and Kingdoms, and so little thought of by particular men, is because it is truly the most glorious: It is the Rock of Comforts and the Fountain of Joys. It is the only supreme and sovereign spectacle in all Worlds. It is a Well of Life beneath in which we may see the face of Heaven above: and the only mirror, wherein all things appear in their proper colors: that is, sprinkled in the blood of our Lord and Savior. 

The Cross of Christ is the Jacob’s ladder by which we ascend into the highest heavens. There we see joyful Patriarchs, expecting Saints, Prophets ministering, Apostles publishing, and Doctors teaching, all Nations converging, and Angels praising. That Cross is a tree set on fire with invisible flame, that illuminates all the world. The flame is Love: the Love in His bosom who died on it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

the cross, the vindication of God

“The Cross does not merely tell us that God forgives, it tells us that that is God’s way of making forgiveness possible. It is the way in which we understand how God forgives. I will go further: How can God forgive and still remain God? –that is the question. The Cross is the vindication of God.  The Cross is the vindication of the character of God. The Cross not only shows the love of God more gloriously than anything else, it show His righteousness, His justice, His holiness, and all the glory of His eternal attributes. They are all to be seen shining together there. If you do not see them all you have not seen the Cross.” 

– D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Cross: The Vindication of God (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1976/1999)