Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Poor in self--rich in Jesus!
(James Smith, "The Pastor's Morning Visit")
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3
The Lord's people are all poor; they see and feel that sin has stripped them of every excellence; and has left them wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked. They can do nothing of themselves, they can procure nothing for themselves; but free grace has made ample provision for them, and the Gospel informs them that Jesus has everything they need--and that all that He has, is for them!
When they look at, or into themselves--they are discouraged; but when they look to Jesus--they rejoice! He has riches of grace--and riches of glory; and He says, "Every one who asks--receives." He gives liberally, and upbraids not. Here then is the present blessedness of the Lord's poor: Jesus has all they need! And He is their Redeemer and Friend! Those who seek Him shall not lack any truly good thing.
Am I poor? If so, Jesus bids me come to Him--and buy gold, clothing, wine, and milk without price--all that is necessary to comfort and support in time, and render me happy throughout eternity! Poor in self--rich in Jesus! Poor at present--rich in eternity! "For theirs is the kingdom of heaven!"
"All things are yours!" 1 Corinthians 3:21
"And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 4:19
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
As I would recommend with any book written by man, read it, glean from it, compare it to Scripture, and apply the concepts that line up with the Bible to your life. As you read through a book like this, I would also recommend that you look up the Scripture references in your Bible as you go.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Gospel Enemy #2: Persistent Guilt (pgs 56-58)
"Whether the voice of your conscience is extremely loud or barely audible, remember that you don't have to be a scandalous sinner to suffer from persistent guilt. So we should ask and answer the following questions carefully and regularly in order to identify the influence of this gospel enemy:
- Are you painfully preoccupied with a particular habitual sin?
- Are you discouraged or depressed by your failure to measure up?
- Do you frequently experience anxiety that something is about to go wrong?
- Does it appear God can use others but not you?
- Is there something in your past you just can't seem to get over?
- Do you fear that your past will come back to haunt you?
- Do your difficult circumstances seem like God's judgment for your sin?
- Do you steer clear of intimate relationships or small-group discussions?
- When you sin, do you get a vague sense that somehow there'll be a price to pay?
- Do you seldom think of the cross?
For persistent guilt, we must go to the first bookend. Only the life and death of Christ offers a legitimate path to freedom from a guilty conscience--legitimate because it was a real, lived-in-the-flesh, finished righteousness, applied to us forever. It was an obedience "to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8), where "Christ...offered Himself without blemish to God, [to] purify our conscience" (Hebrews 9:14). What makes it legitimate for us is that He did it in our place as our substitute.....................From the moment we're united to Christ by faith in the gospel, in God's own eyes we're permanently clothed in the righteousness of Christ."
Monday, April 26, 2010
The premise of the book is to think of your life as a long bookshelf. The books on it represent all the things that you do, both spiritual and temporal with titles such as: Church Attendance, Bible Study, Sharing the Gospel, Serving Others, Job Performance, Educational Pursuits, Recreation, Driving the Car, Doing the Laundry, Paying the Bills, to name a few. Without adequate bookends, even if we succeed in getting all our books to remain upright, their stability is precarious at best. The first bookend: The Righteousness of Christ. The second bookend: The Power of the Holy Spirit.
The book goes on to give very thorough explanations of both "bookends". As the authors explain "The Righteousness of Christ", they name two enemies to the Gospel in our lives. They are 1) Self-Righteousness and 2)Persistent Guilt. As they explain these "enemies" they give a couple tools to help examine yourself in these areas. I found it very helpful, so I will take today and tomorrow to post these tools for others reading this blog.
Gospel Enemy #1: Self-Righteousness (pg 48-49)
"Do you sometimes feel as if God's love for you ebbs and flows, depending on whether you've had a good quiet time? Do you know you're saved by grace but live as if God's day-to-day blessings are bestowed in accordance with your performance? Are you beginning to have doubts about the degree of freedom you actually have from the influence of self-righteousness?
Below is our list of probing questions designed to help you gain clarity. As you meditate on them, be brutally honest, for much is at stake. When you analyze your Christian walk:
- Do you tend to live by a list of dos and don'ts?
- Is it difficult for you to respect those whose standards aren't as high as yours?
- Do you assume that practicing spiritual disciplines should result in God's blessing?
- Do you feel you're better than most other people?
- Has it been a long time since you identified a sin and repented of it?
- Do you resent it when others point out your "spiritual blind spots"?
- Do you readily recognize the sins of others but not your own?
- Do you have the sense that God owes you a good life?
- Do you get angry when difficulties and suffering come into your life?
- Do you seldom think of the cross?
If you found yourself answering "yes" to at least half these questions, it's likely you're living under a stronghold of self-righteousness toward God. You need to see this for what it really is--a hideous enemy disguised as a satisfying glory. It will let you down and leave you hanging. Its satisfaction is as short-lived as an ice cube in the blazing sun; its glory has all the appeal of a well-dressed corpse. And at the end of the day this fact remains: no amount of personal performance will ever gain the approval of a holy God."
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Tonight I thought I'd leave you with a few tips I've learned since making it my aim to get out once a week and share the gospel with strangers I meet. Basically, this is the "routine" I follow each week.
During The Week:
- I preach the gospel to myself. If I am not convinced of my own need for the gospel, I will not be able to persuade others of theirs.
- I read my Bible. I have no source of truth within myself. Without reading God's Word during the week, I am likely to rely on my own knowledge and start believing I have the answers.
- I pray. I pray for God to call people unto Him. I pray for the Holy Spirit to work on the hearts of those I will be talking with on Friday night. I pray that I will present the gospel without error, that my words will not cause confusion. I pray for boldness and courage.
- I listen to podcasts of sound sermons (Bible Baptist Church podcast, Solid Food Media podcast) and podcasts of evangelistic programs where they go out on the streets and witness to people about Jesus Christ (Wretched Radio).
On Friday Night:
- On the way to my destination, I don't call anyone on the phone. I want to keep my thoughts heavenly minded, so I don't risk a conversation that could tangle my thoughts in earthly cares.
- I pray for the conversations ahead of me that evening. I pray I won't chicken out.
- I try to go straight to my destination from work. I've found if I go home first, I will try to stay home.
- I eat supper first. I've found that if I don't do that, I start thinking about what I will eat later that evening, and my mind wanders.
- If I'm alone for the evening, I don't plan anything afterwards. I've found when I'm alone and I plan something afterwards (like shopping), I will start treating evangelism like a pill I have to swallow (instead of a privilege) before getting onto the thing I really want to do.
That's what I've learned since making it a practice of engaging in intentional evangelism once a week. Most of my tips (the day of at least) are practical in nature. I hope they are helpful and cause you to think about how you could do the same thing (in some form) where you are.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV)
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I highly recommend reading the book What Do I Know About My God? by Mardi Collier and starting your own notebook today. It is a valuable resource.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Something peculiar, distinct, and different from other people
(J. C. Ryle, "Old Paths")
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
Does anyone ask me what we may expect to see in a true conversion? I reply--there will always be something seen in a converted man's . . .
and daily life.
You will not see perfection in him; but you will see in him--something peculiar, distinct, and different from other people.
You will see him . . .
following after holiness,
taking pleasure in his Bible,
persevering in prayer.
You will see him . . .
These, at any rate, will be his aims--these are the things which he will follow after, however short he may come of perfection.
In some converted people you will see these things more distinctly--in others less. This only I say--wherever there is true conversion, something of this kind will be seen.
Monday, April 19, 2010
For supper we had a Minnesota favorite: Tator Tot Hotdish.
For our baking project made carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
We read lesson 27 (God Gave His Son for Us) from Leading Little Ones to God by Marian Schoolland.
We also read Proverbs 1:1-7. We're working on making wise decisions, so we've turned to the book of Proverbs in the Bible for advice in that area.
As usual, a good time was had by all.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Tonight I'd also like to share with you a video about the motivation of sharing the gospel. This video depicts a young man being challenged to hand out a gospel tract. He originally said he couldn't do it, but when he was offered money to do it, he found courage. The conversation that followed the experience was very interesting as well. I think this is definitely worth watching.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
God Never Negotiates His Justice
“God is loving, but a major part of what He loves is His own perfect character, with a major aspect being the importance of maintaining justice and righteousness. Though God pardons sinners and makes provision for expressing His mercy, He will never negotiate His justice. If we fail to understand that, the cross of Christ will be utterly meaningless to us.”
- R. C. Sproul, The Truth of the Cross (Orlando, FL; Reformation Trust Pub., 2007), 19.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
As I've been learning a bit about biblical counseling lately, I've taken away a tip for learning Scripture. I have written the overcomer verse on an index card and try to review it 25 times a day. On the back of the card I wrote: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. (one for each day). Then I put a tally mark under that day for each time I review the verse. I'm finding the review helpful for learning the verse and getting it into my mind. I thought I'd pass this info on, as others might find it helpful as well.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Affliction prepared for and improved
(Thomas Sherman, "Aids to the Divine Life--A Series of Practical Christian Contemplations" 1680)
"It was good for me to be afflicted--so that I might learn your decrees." Psalm 119:71
As it is the duty of God's children to prepare for affliction before it comes; so it is also their duty to improve affliction when it does come.
If we do not prepare for affliction--we shall be surprised by it;
and, if we do not improve it--we are likely to increase it.
He who would prepare for affliction, must beforehand:
(1.) resign all to God,
(2.) strengthen his graces,
(3.) store up divine promises,
(4.) and search out secret sins.
And he who would improve affliction when it does come, must labor to see:
sin more and more in its filthiness--so as to mortify it;
his heart in its deceitfulness--so as to watch over it;
the world in its emptiness--so as to be crucified to it;
grace in its amiableness--so as to prize it;
God in His holiness--so as to revere Him; and
heaven in its desirableness--so as to long after it.
He who takes more care to avoid afflictions--than to be fitted for them; or is more solicitous to be delivered from them--than to be bettered by them; is likely to come soonest into them--and to live longest under them!
"God disciplines us for our good--that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:10-11
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Saturday I went back to the park in the afternoon. I walked around the park area attached to the skate park for a few minutes. As I passed two boys stretched out on a picnic table, I gave them a million dollar bill tract and said, "It has the million dollar question on back." I was about say, "What happens to a person when they die?" But before the words came out of my mouth, one of the boys read the question and the entire message on back out loud. As he read through four of the ten commandments that were listed, he answered the questions aloud (Have you ever told a lie? "Yes." Have you ever stolen anything? "Honestly, I would have to say yes I have." and so forth). When he finished reading the tract, three other boys joined us. I gave them tracts as well. Then the questions ensued. They had a lot of them. I was able to go through the gospel message a couple times. I answered all of their questions to the best of my ability. They were sincere in their questioning. It was a joy to work through the questions with them. They had questions such as: "How do I get forgiveness of sins?", "If someone messed up and then started doing good things, will they go to heaven?"
These young men were earnest in there interest in the gospel message. After I explained it to them the first time, two of them said, "I have never heard that before." I asked them each if they went to church, and they said they did.
We had about a 20-minute conversation, and they left with "Why Christianity?" videos and my gospel/testimony tract in their hands (as well as the million dollar bills).
As they walked away, a couple boys said, "I'm going to think about this today."
Please pray for Tony, Jamal, Brady, Tyler, and Donnie as they heard the gospel message today. My hope is that God will grant them the gift of repentance and they put their trust in Christ alone for their salvation.
Note: Boys, if you're reading this post today (or if anyone else is reading this blog for the first time), please check out "My Favorite Links" at the side of this page for other resources, and check out the Archives for Evangelism Videos. If you are looking for a church that preaches from the Bible and will help you grow in your faith, consider Bible Baptist Church in Otsego (that link can also be found at the side of this page, under My Favorite Links).
Friday, April 9, 2010
Today I'd like to share with you a video from Paul Latour at The Word Street Journal. Paul and his wife, Kim, engage in street evanagelism at least once a week. I'm very encouraged by their ministry. Paul makes videos of their efforts and posts them on his blog. Today I'll share with you the video depicting their evangelism efforts over Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday (Easter).
Note: Be sure to watch it to the end (the ending is great on this one).
Here's an excerpt from the The Word Street Journal blog that accompanied this post:
"With our confidence in the Holy Spirit, Kim and I set out to the streets of the Byward Market in Ottawa on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday to bring the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the multitudes out enjoying the warm Easter weather, who might otherwise not have heard or received the most important thing they will ever need to know.
Today's video is just a visual depiction of what we did on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. It is appropriately set to two musical excerpts from Handel's Messiah - written for Easter, not Christmas.
Its purpose is to be of encouragement to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who may be wondering what the frontlines of street ministry looks like. That, especially in the task of handing out gospel tracts or reading from the Bible aloud in public, it is not as much a frightening experience as it may seem.
Please, prayerfully consider your part in the building of the Kingdom of God. Even if it's a small thing. "Do something." Your time here on earth is the only opportunity you will have to do so. There will be no need of evangelism in Heaven."
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I really appreciate the intentionality with which this family is raising their children (Katelyn and Chris are the oldest of 5 children). They are truly teaching them how to be godly. Greg and I both appreciated the opportunity to challenge our minds to write a letter of edification to these two young people in our church. We asked ourselves why we haven't done this before, and we decided we will be doing it again with other young people we know.
Happy Birthday Chris and Katelyn!
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Another feature of this weekly, one-hour broadcast (Saturday mornings, check out the website for details on how to listen to the show) is a bookclub. They suggest a book to read and give you a couple months to do that. Then they have the author on the radio program and discuss the book. I haven't read any of the books yet, but I have heard the discussions, and I really enjoy them. The book they are currently featuring (yet to air on the radio show, so there's still time) is The Disciplined Life by Richard Taylor. When the author is on the show, there is also opportunity to call in and ask him/her questions. It is a unique format for a bookclub, and I find it very interesting.
The Christian Worldview radio program also takes topics of the day in the media and views them through a Biblical lens.
I think it is a great resource and certainly worth checking out.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
We went back to the skate park, and I handed out my remaining Easter packs (each containing some candy and a gospel tract). As I got out of the van at the park, I thought "I look like a 40-year-0ld woman wearing a skirt who just came from a service at a conservative Baptist church" (bingo!). I felt very uncool. As I approached the young people, they were all very friendly to me. Their faces and tones softened when I handed them the little plastic bag and said, "Happy Easter". One young man struck up a conversation with me about church. He asked what church I attended. I told him which one. Then I said, "I just wanted to make sure you received the gospel in your hands this Easter Sunday." There was another young man there whom I've seen riding through our neighborhood on his way home from the park. I was able to introduce myself to him. He was very pleasant. They all thanked me as I headed back toward the van.
The reason I asked Greg to bring me back to the skate park is because, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to stop, and I knew if I ignored my conscience, it would be all the easier to do so the next time. Every time I pass that skate park, I want to talk to the kids there (every time). My heart aches for them, not because I pity them, but because, even though I don't know them, I have love and concern for them. The thought that is ever present in my mind is, "Have they heard the gospel? If not, who will tell them?"
This is not my first visit to that skate park (nor will it be my last). The hardest part is always stopping, getting out of my vehicle, and walking up to the first kid. They usually make fun of me (or the gospel) on my way to approaching them and as I'm walking away from them and, oddly, that never bothers me. I expect it. It makes sense to me. My fear is irrational.
I post this story today because I struggle in this area, and I hope to encourage others in my struggles. Sharing the gospel is not easy, but we are called to do it (Matthew 28:19-20). If you are a Christian reading this blog today, I encourage you to find a way to share the gospel where you are. The young people at the skate park on Sunday night were not hanging out at my church, attending the service. I had to go find them.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Tonight was Cookie Baking Night.
We made brownies from a brownie-in-a-jar mix I had in the cupboard.
Carissa cracked her first egg this evening. Remember the first time you cracked an egg? Yep, that's pretty much how it went in this scenario as well. I've yet to find an egg-cracking prodigy amongst the nieces and nephews, though each one has been sure they were the one. When Carissa finished cracking the egg, she echoed what I had told her when I was teaching her how to crack it. She said, "It's harder than it looks."
The weather was beautiful this evening, so we managed to squeeze in a walk on the walking trails in our neighborhood.
We also had time to read from Leading Little Ones to God by Marian Schoolland. We're halfway through the book now and enjoying every lesson.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Matthew 28:1-10 (ESV)
May you have a glorious Resurrection Sunday!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
Since this is my usual day for intentional evangelism, I made plans to spend the morning handing out the Easter packs I had prepared last week (see post Frightening Friday, 03/26/10 for details). A friend of mine from church, Jenny, joined me for this venture. I was greatly encouraged by her presence.
We met at my house at 10:00 am, had a time of prayer (so enjoyed that), and then headed out to local businesses in search of people. The goal was to drive to towns near our church and hand out packs that included the gospel message, a bookmark encouraging the reading of the Gospel of John during this Easter season, a card that contained the service information for Good Friday service and Easter service at our church, and a couple pieces of candy.
We arrived in the parking lot of one business and never left it. We had 48 packs prepared and handed out all but one before leaving there (took about an hour). The last pack we used in the picture you'll find in this post.
People were very receptive to taking the packs. I pray the gospel message will be received, understood, and result in repentance of sins and faith in Jesus Christ.
I have made up some packs (using up the supplies I have left) and plan to give them out as I run errands over the next couple days. I encourage you to give this kind of idea a try. The Easter season is an easy time to talk about the gospel.
Note: If you are on this blog today for the first time, please check out My Favorite Links at the side of this page for other resources.
And he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but rather, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written." When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be."This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, "They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots."So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst." A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness--his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth--that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken." And again another Scripture says, "They will look on him whom they have pierced."
Thursday, April 1, 2010
I highly recommend reading Isaiah 53 this week.
Note: If reading the Bible is new to you, I'm speaking of the book of Isaiah in the Bible, Old Testament, 53rd chapter of the book (can be found pretty much in the center of the Bible).
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