Friday, September 29, 2006

You’re Right, Paul

And here, strangely enough, lies the watershed both of the ancient and the modern worlds. Where is the locus of God’s truth to be found? To the pagan who heard the voice of the gods within, who listened to the whisperings of intuition, and to the modern who similarly listens within for the voice of self, the answer is the same. For the Israelite it was different. The Bible is not a remarkable illustration of what we have already heard within ourselves; it is a remarkable discovery of what we have not and cannot hear within ourselves. Thus, our inward sense of God and our intuitions about meaning are irrelevant in any effort to differentiate biblical truth from pagan belief. It is how we apply ourselves to learn what God has disclosed of himself in a realm outside ourselves that is important. An unless we steadfastly maintain this distinction in the face of the modern pressures to destroy it, we will soon find that we are using the Bible merely to corroborate the validity of what we have already found within our own religious consciousness – which is another way of saying that we are putting ourselves in the place of the Bible. It is another way of reasserting the old paganism. When that happens, theology is irredeemably reduced to autobiography, and preaching degenerates into mere storytelling.

David Wells, No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993. p. 279, second paragraph.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Heart of Worship – Part II

About eight days ago I said I’d do a post tomorrow. Some weeks it is hard to blog. I know I’m not alone, but I wish I could do more posts. I have lots of things bubbling away, but I find that if I’m doing the things I should do, blogging often gets the back burner.

My Psalm 50 thoughts are a little cold, but I do want to follow up on a comment I made regarding Psalms 49 and 51. Psalm 50 proclaims God’s absolute self-sufficiency (Aseity). Worshippers that think that they are doing God some kind of favor just don’t get it.

Psalm 49:7-9 says: Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit. Only God can save. We are utterly dependent upon Him for our own salvation, let alone the salvation of our friends, neighbors and relatives. We can’t save anyone. We don’t have the power or the authority. Just as our sacrifices don’t give God anything that He needs, our prayers, witnessing and service does not save anyone, neither does our money.

In Psalm 51:16-17 (David’s prayer of confession after the awful Bathsheba / Uriah sin), we read these words: For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. There we go again. God is not after what He can “get out of us,” even when we sin and repent. Utter dependence upon God for everything is what pleases God.

Salvation, ongoing repentance, worship, sacrifice and service please God when we first recognize Him as our sovereign Creator / Owner. Our pride gets in the way and we want to repay God. Yes, confession, worship and service are good things, but we can only come to God with these things in the strength He provides and through the righteousness of His Son.

This attitude of reception from God may be found throughout Scripture. It is important for us to stop and consider the heart of worship on a regular basis that we might not be wise in our own eyes or rob God of the glory that it due to Him alone.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:33-36

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Poor Sinner, Dejected with Fear

1. Poor sinner, dejected with fear,
Unbosom thy mind to the Lamb;
No wrath on His brow He does wear,
Nor will He poor mourners condemn;
His arm of omnipotent grace
Is able and willing to save;
A sweet and a permanent peace
He’ll freely and faithfully give.

2. Come just as thou art, with thy woe,
Fall down at the feet of the Lamb;
He will not, He cannot say, “Go”,
But surely will take out thy stain
A fountain is opened for sin,
And thousands its virtues have proved
He’ll take thee, and plunge thee therein,
And wash thee from filth in His blood.

3. The soul that on Jesus relies,
He’ll never, no never deceive;
He freely and faithfully gives
More blessings than we can conceive;
Yea, down to old age He will keep,
Nor will He forsake us at last;
He knows and is known by His sheep;
They’re His, and He will hold them fast.

©2001 MPJ Music / Velveteen Songs.

Lyrics by William Gadsby (1773-1844)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Heart of Worship

No, I’m not going to post about that song that is all about me singing about how it’s all about Jesus. I have been thinking about things that I’ve been learning about worship from the Psalms.

Worship is widely misunderstood. In the past, I thought I had worship down pat. I even knew the “audience of One” line and the “revelation and response” thing. Good stuff, that, but I still needed more education (still do).

We had a mini worship war here a few years back, as most churches do at one time or another. We survived, but in the process, one thing that grabbed hold of me during my study was that worship is not about what we give to God. Worship is primarily about what we receive from God. I realized that centuries of tradition regarding liturgy was not necessarily all empty ritualism, but a reflection of our dependence upon receiving timeless gifts – eternal gifts – from God Himself.

This made me rethink the admonition that I grew up with: “Don’t come to church thinking about what you can get out of it, but about what you can give to God.” I understand the entertainment mindset that this corrective is out to change, but it misses the point of receiving from God in worship. God doesn’t need anything from us and it is an affront to Him to presume that He does.

I love Psalm 50. I read it again this morning and I noticed some thematic similarities in surrounding Psalms. Psalm 50 seems almost contradictory at first glance. “Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you” (50:8). Well, with all due respect, Lord, I should think not. You were the one who commanded that they be brought in the first place. Then we have, “I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds” …”Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?” (50:9, 13). So, Lord, do you want sacrifices or not? Compare Isaiah 1: “Bring no more vain offerings” (Isaiah 1:13).

The problem with this worship was not merely that it was formal and mechanical, but that it did not express a dependence upon God. Praise, thanksgiving and calls for deliverance in our lives must come from hungry hearts – hearts that are only satisfied in what God supplies. Sacrifice that says, “Here you go, Lord, this is what you asked for and I’m doing my duty in providing it to you” is blasphemous. To that God says, “If I were hungry I would not tell you” (Psalm 50:12). The benefactor gets the glory. When we come to worship – whether grudgingly or confidently – with the attitude that we are giving God something that He requires, we insult Him.

Yes, we bring God a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15) and worship which is our “reasonable service” (Romans 12:1 KJV). These are in response to what God has done first. We come with empty hands to be filled by Him for praise and service. Each time we worship, we should be conscious that it is a great honor and joy to be able to come into God’s presence clothed in the righteousness of Christ. True worship is joyful humility. We must ask ourselves God’s question to us, “What right have you to recite my statues or take my covenant on your lips?” (Psalm 50:16). We must come into God's presence following His Son. He is the King that may enter freely, and we come at His invitation.

I’ll get to some of the connections to this the Psalm 50 theme in Psalm 49 and 51 tomorrow, Lord willing.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Not What My Hands Have Done

1. Not what my hands have done
Can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne
Can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do
Can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers,
And sighs and tears
Can bear my awful load.

2. Thy work alone, O Christ,
Can ease this weight of sin
Thy blood alone O Lamb of God,
Can give me peace within.
Thy love to me O God,
Not mine, O Lord, to Thee
Can rid me of
This dark unrest,
And set my spirit free!

3. Thy grace alone, O God,
To me can pardon speak;
Thy power alone O Son of God,
Can this sore bondage break.
No other work, save Thine,
No other blood will do,
No strength save that,
Which is divine,
Can bear me safely through.

4. I bless the Christ of God;
I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart,
I call this Savior mine.
His cross dispels each doubt,
I bury in His tomb
My unbelief,
And all my fear,
Each lingering shade of gloom.

5. I praise the God of grace,
I trust His truth and might
He calls me His, I call Him mine,
My God, my joy, my light
’Tis He Who saveth me,
And freely pardon gives
I love because
He loveth me,
I live because He lives!

Lyrics: Horatius Bonar

©2001 Kevin Twit Music.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Back to the Future with the Apostle John

We’ve just started a new series on 1 John in our Wednesday night Bible study. We hurried through the first four verses tonight.

The facts established by John in these verses are not only foundational for this epistle, but for Christianity. There are interwoven themes in 1 John 1:1-4 that are non-negotiable pillars of the Gospel. These essentials include the physical reality of Christ in His life, death and resurrection, the proclamation of the life-giving Word and the fellowship of believers throughout eternity. This fellowship is not only with the Apostles (which is exciting on its own), but with the Father and the Son!

There is so much that could be said about these verses, but something came together tonight that I thought was worth blogging about. It is well established that John’s phrase “That which was from the beginning” in verse 1 refers back to Genesis 1:1 (through John 1:1). The eternal, uncreated Creator took on flesh and lived among men. God, who created time, broke into time and lived for a while in the Roman Empire. This historical reality was so significant that the eyewitness testimony to this Person changes lives. To hear and believe this story is to be brought from light to darkness, from death to life. This is more than a story, it is transformational history.

The “Back to the Future” part of these verses is that if a person hears and believes this transformational history, eternity is brought from the future and eternal life is granted. Our Lord said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). This is John’s point: If you believe the eyewitness testimony (the transformational history), you will receive eternal life. This is true whether you believe the testimony of the Apostles 30 years after the events or 2000 years after the events. As Peter says, we have the Word “made more certain” because this testimony has been established in Scripture as the writers were “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (quotes from 2 Peter 1:19, 21, NIV).

For the believer, this means that both the past and the future have incalculable significance for today. The righteous life of Christ, His death and resurrection are not just historical facts (though everything hinges on them being historical facts); they are our source of life. Likewise, Heaven is not just a remote, future place; eternal life begins now as we have fellowship with the Father and the Son.

D. A. Carson says that local churches are to be “outposts of Heaven.” As Christ’s body and God’s temple, we are to illustrate to a watching world what Heaven is like. The future breaks into the present and we have “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8) because of our sure hope. Is your church like that? Is my church like that? It should be if we do indeed have fellowship right now with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

People in our world live for the moment. I’ve heard people say, “What does the past matter?” and “Tomorrow is nothing until it happens.” John would beg to differ. The Gospel amplifies the one particularly crucial part of the past, and this transformational history makes the future secure and glorious. Right now counts for eternity because the Final Word has come in history and He lives forever with and for the Church, His Bride.

Doesn’t this truth make your present situation come alive? John said that he wrote these glorious truths to make our joy complete. The past and the future are filled with significance when understood in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Church's One Foundation

1. The church's one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her,
And for her life He died.

2. Elect from every nation,
Yet one over all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

3. Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed,
Yet saints their watch are keeping;
Their cry goes up, "How long?"
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song.

4. The church shall never perish,
Her dear Lord to defend
To guide, sustain and cherish,
Is with her to the end
Though there be those that hate her,
And false sons in her pale
Against a foe or traitor,
She ever shall prevail

5. Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
'Til, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blessed,
And the great church victorious
Shall be the church at rest.

6. Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee.

Samuel Stone (1839-1900)

Friday, September 08, 2006

New Links at New Lumps

There are a lot of good blogs out there. I have found a lot of useful messages, articles and ministries via blogs. It is also encouraging to find a group of thoughtful, doctrinally sound believers out there, particularly when I can interact with them and even meet them.

There are only a few favorite sites that I visit regularly. Sometimes they link to other interesting sites and blogs, but I try to stay within a manageable network of blogs (there are millions of them). One of the ways I do this is by subscribing to feeds. I have been using Bloglines, but I’ve just installed Sage for Firefox. I like what I see so far.

If you are unfamiliar with feed readers, what they do is keep track of updates on blogs or other websites that are equipped with the apparatus to tell a reader that something has been added. By using a reader, you can simply glance at one page (or a sidebar in Sage) to see what is new. You don’t have to go to each blog to see if there is anything new. In addition, you can also just read or scan the posts right on the reader.

My regular reads have been in my links for a while, but there are a few that haven’t made it there yet. Some of the links that I’ve had on my list will take you to blogs that don’t get updated very often (I shouldn’t single anyone out), but I’m going to keep those links active as there is still good content on those sites.

My most recent additions are as follows:

  • Kim at the Upward Call is a thoughtful homeschool mom. She is also the wife of Bugblaster. A pretty cool team, those two!
  • Rebecca at Rebecca Writes makes living way up north in Whitehorse look almost attractive. Almost. She also writes great biblical / theological posts. She is highly recommended by Tim Challies, which is no small thing.
  • I don’ t know how I’ve missed having a link to Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds. He’s really in tune with worthwhile links around the blogosphere. He also posts more often in a week than I do in a month. Okay, two months.
  • Another basic link that I didn’t have is for R.C. Sproul’s Ligonier Ministries. They’ve recently updated their site and it is very nice.
  • I’ve been linking to Cowboyology since the beginning (way back in November), but Clint and his wife Christel have joined forces at Blessed Union. They are both excellent writers that have the ability to say a lot in a very few words.
  • I’ve saved the best for last. I know I already announced this, but let me say once again that I’ve added Juanita at Jam and Books. I must say that it is fun reading my wife’s blog. One day we might have as much fun at this a Buggy and his Princess!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Having just come home from leading a Bible study on 1 John I came across a great article by Jim Elliff on "confessionism." So, how do you read 1 John 1:9?

I just ordered Life in Chrst: Studies in 1 John by Dr. M.L. Jones. 735 pages! That's the Dr. for you. The book was featured in a Monergism email I received just this morning. It's on sale, too! I like Monergism. I ordered the Valley of Vision CD too. I've checked the previews - I know we're going to like this one!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Love of Christ is Rich and Free

1. The love of Christ is rich and free;
Fixed on His own eternally;
Nor earth, nor hell, can it remove;
Long as He lives, His own He’ll love.

2. His loving heart engaged to be
Their everlasting Surety;
’Twas love that took their cause in hand,
And love maintains it to the end.

Love cannot from its post withdraw;
Nor death, nor hell, nor sin, nor law,
Can turn the Surety’s heart away;
He’ll love His own to endless day.

3. Love has redeemed His sheep with blood;
And love will bring them safe to God;
Love calls them all from death to life;
And love will finish all their strife.

4. He loves through every changing scene,
Nor aught from Him can Zion wean;
Not all the wanderings of her heart
Can make His love for her depart.
(Repeat chorus)

5. At death, beyond the grave, He’ll love;
In endless bliss, His own shall prove
The blazing glory of that love
Which never could from them remove.
Tag: Which never could from them remove.

This track is # 5 on Indelible Grace III, For All The Saints
©2001 Same Old Dress Music (ASCAP).
Lyrics by William Gadsby (1773-1844)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Meme From my Daughter

Random Bookishness
1. Grab the nearest book. Grandpa’s Stolen Treasure by Lois Walfrid Johnson
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences (or paragraph) on your blog along with these instructions: The captain threw a line. The fisherman caught it and tied the skiff to the Sea Gull. “Better tell me what you know,” Captain Hanson said to the woman.
5. Tag five people. Uh, no. Sorry, dear!
There's a Fly in My Kettle
(and other random thoughts)

I got a new PDA yesterday. I used to have a Sony Clie' (Palm software), but I wore it out. I decided to replace it with a Windows Mobile device, and settled on a Dell Axim X30, which I bought on EBay. Yesterday I sold the Dell on EBay and my new Palm Tungsten E arrived (refurbished - it is a discontinued model, though the E2 lives on).

I can confidently say that I'm a Palm guy now. I love the speed, the interface and the battery life. I feel like I'm "back home" with a Palm. Staples included a case and a 12v adaptor with the thing which, at $149.99 was already a great deal.

So what does the fly have to do with anything? Like most people, I have a morning routine. I imagine that I am more serious about my coffee than most people. I'm still frugal, so I don't buy the coffee beans I really want, but I don't buy the cheap stuff, either. I am currently using Kirkland (Costco) espresso beans (not bad ...). I put Brita filtered water in my kettle while I grind my beans. I make my coffee in a French Press.

We're getting to the end of the worst of the flies around here (canning is all done), but there are still a couple. There was one on my kettle this morning, but I killed it, Gretzky like, clapping where it was going to be instead of where it was. It fell right in the kettle. I hate flies. They're so inconsiderate. I had to pour out my filtered water and start over again. Poor dear, eh?

I know, that wasn't a very good story, but I wanted to use the title.