Beck & Sting

It really doesn't get much better than that right there!

HT / Ray Ortlund

The Church and Culture

Chandler, Horton, and Keller on the Church in Culture from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

The Facebook Obsession

Josh Garrels New CD - FREE!

If you don't know Josh Garrels, let this be your introduction.  I discovered this guy on youtube awhile back and instantly became a fan.  Hopefully, I'll get a chance to do a complete review for the blog shortly of his new album.  For now, I'll say that my early faves are "The Resistance" and "Beyond the Blue".

The great thing is that for now you can get "Love & War & the Sea In Between" for free at either Garrels' home page or through noisetrade.  I would recommend the artist's site for the simple reason that you can choose practically any download form you desire!

Here's a taste of Josh to whet your appetite...

Gospel-Centered Personal Renewal

Here is a great little resource on - well, the title says it all.  The author, Timmy Brister, compiled together a series of blog posts to make a full downloadable pdf document.  If you don't follow "provocations & paintings" you are missing some good stuff.  I have found much wisdom, grace, and humility there.

Do yourself a favour and check it out along with this great series...

Here’s the blog series:

>> To download the series as a PDF, click here

What Happens When We Believe the Lie

Almost every adultery situation I’ve ever seen includes a cheating spouse who honestly believes that he or she is not going to get caught. The cheater often doesn’t want the marriage to end in divorce. Instead, like the characters in today’s headlines, he or she instead wants to keep everything the same: spouse, kids, and lover too. That’s irrational and completely contrary to the way the world works. Anyone can see that.
But you can convince yourself…or be convinced…that it will work for you. You’re special, after all. That’s the way temptation functions. We put consequences out of our minds, both temporal and eternal consequences. We start to believe that we are gods, with power over good and evil and life and death. And then we do crazy things.
This doesn’t have anything to do with intelligence. Satan is hyper-intelligent. And yet, even knowing that he will ultimately have his skull crushed, he rages all the more against Christ and his people, “because he knows his time is short” (Rev. 12:12). In terms of the most basic principles of military strategy, that’s crazy. What we need is not intelligence, but wisdom. Wisdom includes seeing where the way I want to go will lead (Prov. 14:12).
I don’t know who you are, reader, but I know you are probably not smarter than Anthony Weiner or Arnold Schwarzenegger or John Edwards. And neither am I. Both of us, you and I, are on the verge of wrecking our lives. We’re probably not on the verge of a situation quite like any of those men, but the gospel tells us we have vulnerabilities just the same, and they all can lead to destruction.
The answer isn’t found in talent or in strategy or in brilliance. It’s found in fear, the fear of the Lord and the vision of his future.
Lord have mercy.


"Love Is" ... Not Boastful

When we speak of boasting, we are talking about a desire to, as Spurgeon said, parade our accomplishments as a public spectacle for others. Boasting seeks to gain recognition for or draw attention to oneself. It is self-centered and is the outward form of the inner condition of pride (John Piper).  Don't be a "me monster."

We live in the land of "vain-glory" as Pilgrim’s Progress put it. From athletics to academics to advertising, everyone is seeking to promote his or her own glory. They feel it necessary to make themselves known, to toot their horn so others can compliment their importance, see their successes and overlook their failures. Each of us has that innate tendency of the flesh to exalt ourselves because each of us struggles with the inner sin of pride, which desires to receive admiration and preeminence.
So then, how do we remedy the problem of boasting?
First, remember who you are.
The world has bent over backwards to brainwash our society about self-esteem. Such a worldly doctrine opposes Christian growth and specifically promotes, rather than deters, boasting.
From Genesis to Revelation, there is nothing in Scripture that testifies to the goodness of humanity. In Romans 3, we read, "There is none who does good, there is not even one." (Rom. 3:12). In reading Jonathan Edwards on humility, he frequently used words like "despicable" and "exceedingly polluted" and "nothingness" and "vileness" to describe humanity.
If any human has a reason to boast, it was Jesus being God in the flesh and we know He made Himself nothing (Phil. 2:6-8). Yet we have nothing and we have the tendency to boast so often.
When we boast, we are giving glory to ourselves that we do not deserve. We are taking credit for gifts that have been given us by God (Pr. 25:14; Isa. 10:15; 1 Cor. 4:7; Jas. 1:17). Even our salvation has been worked in such a way to eliminate boasting. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). Spurgeon said, "Grace puts its hand on the boasting mouth, and shuts it once for all."
Remember who God is
Remembering who we are will eliminate unrighteous boasting. And remembering who God is will promote righteous boasting.
We are wired to boast. And we will always boast over that which we feel is most special. Therefore we need to get ourselves off the pedestal and acknowledge the supreme greatness of God. Then and only then will boast only in the Lord and not in ourselves because we understand how much His greatness surpasses ours.
None of us feel loved when others parade their accomplishments, because boasting reveals a self-focus. Yet when we understand the greatness of God over ourselves we will naturally boast in Him through our words which are evidenced by our actions. Through our obedience, we will show the greatest love for Him and the greatest love for others. As the Psalmist said, "My soul will make its boast in the Lord; the humble will hear it and rejoice" (Psm. 34:2).
"Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord" (Jer. 9:23-24).

"Love Is" ... Not Jealous

John MacArthur said, "One of the hardest battles a Christian must fight is against jealousy. There is always someone who is a little better…than you are." We all struggle with the desire to be better.
Jealously rears its ugly head whenever you compare yourself to others and belittle their accomplishments or abilities or possessions in thought, word or deed. At its root, jealousy speaks of a passion or burning desire to have what belongs to another. Jonathan Edwards said it is the "spirit of dissatisfaction or opposition to the prosperity or happiness of other people." I think we can see how unloving that is!
Do you want to have more joy? Do you want to have less strife within you family and within you church? There is hope; It comes in two steps: "put off" and "put on!"
"Put off"
First of all, you "put off" the sin of jealousy. This requires you to ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of any jealousy in your heart. Jealousy or the tendency for jealousy is not always an obvious sin. Oftentimes it can remain hidden, but still alive and well, lurking around in the heart. Ask God to make you aware of your sin in this area. Confess the sin to God and others if necessary and repent. Battle the sin with the truth of God’s Word.  As John Piper says, “make war with your sin!”
"Put on"
Second, in the place of jealousy, "put on" three patterns of thought.
First, develop a biblical sense of identity. Oftentimes our jealousy comes from a fear of losing something very special, but a biblical sense of identity immediately cures these ills. Base your identity on the opinion, affirmation and acceptance of God and not people (1 Cor. 4:4). Be secure in God’s love as it is spoken to you in the Scriptures!
Second, "put on" contentment. Instead of complaining about "fairness," learn to be content in whatever situation you find yourself (Phil. 4:11). Learn to be satisfied with whatever God has given you. You see, when we show jealousy, which reveals a lack of contentment, we are basically putting God’s sovereignty and God’s goodness on trial (Matthew 20:1-16).
And finally, "put on" thankfulness. Instead of being so concerned for what others have, learn to be thankful for what you have. Learn to count your own blessings. Learn that you will be less likely to be jealous for another if you realize God’s generosity in your own life. Furthermore, if you really want to fight jealousy, begin to give thanks for the very people that tend to make you jealous. Be happy for them!  
Here’s the big question: Can you rejoice in the success of others even when it works against you? If you can get to this spiritually mature position, you have successfully destroyed the sin of jealousy.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full into His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace.”
If you are looking to Jesus, you won’t be comparing yourself with others.

The Secret of the Indigo Moon: A Review

This is a guest post from my son, Cameron.

The Secret of the Indigo Moon was written by G. P. Taylor, and is the second book in The Dopple Ganger Chronicles.  It’s about three teenagers that get trapped in an old enemy’s  evil plans.
     While at a boarding school, the three teens, Eric, Sadie, and Saskia, run into a mysterious “indigo moon” secret.  It starts when Eric finds a hidden tunnel under their school.  After tracking some burglars that had broken into the tunnel, he quickly alerts his twin sidekicks, Sadie and Saskia, and the hunt is on!  Through adventures, and narrow escapes they finally reveal the truth of who their old enemy really is. But can they solve the “indigo moon” mystery, and will they stop the plans of their adversary?
     Through the author’s use of a comic-style book with vivid pictures, the story comes alive before the readers eyes.  The suspense of the mystery kept me captivated until the end of the story.  I liked how the author described the interaction between the main characters.  The Secret of the Indigo Moon is a novel that I would recommend for tweens who enjoy action and adventure. 

"Love Is" ... Kind

Next up, “Love Is” kind. So how do we going about doing kindness when we by nature are self-seeking and self-lovers? Allow me to provide five points of application that will greatly assist you to obey God in this area.
#1 Depend on the Holy Spirit
First, just as we learned last week with patience, genuine kindness will not come naturally. Even our best efforts will not produce the kindness God desires. Galatians 5:22, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…” The Holy Spirit will provide opportunities. Kindness will flow from God, through us, to others. We will naturally function as the "Good Samaritan" (Lk. 10). When the cycle operates in this way, our extension of kindness is genuine, others receive divine goodness and God receives all the glory.
#2 Remember God’s kindness with you
Second, be sure to always remember how kind God is with you both before you were saved and even now after you are saved! His kindness leads us to repentance. Romans 2:4, "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" His kindness is put on display through us. Ephesians 2:7, "So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." God’s patience holds back His wrath while His kindness extends to us immeasurable blessings of love.
#3 Follow the example of Jesus
In Luke 6, Jesus gave us this instruction. "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you… If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount" (Lk. 6:27, 28, 32-34). Did you notice the ones He specifically chose that should receive our kindness? The very ones we often exclude - Our enemies and those who cannot repay us! And why are we commanded to be kind to these individuals? Because that is the example we are to follow from our heavenly Father! In verse 35 Jesus said, "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men."
#4 Pray for others
The fourth way we can develop a kind heart for others is to pray for them. Prayer has a unique ability to soften our heart and change our attitude toward someone. It’s rather difficult to hate someone you are praying for. Furthermore, prayer for others promotes kind actions. It’s very convicting to pray for another’s needs and then fail to act on them when the Holy Spirit makes them plain to you. 
#5 Remember the Golden Rule
Last, remember the "Golden Rule." In Matthew 7 our Lord said, "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Mt. 7:21; Lk. 6:31). It’s a simple yet very profound guideline. Do unto others! We all have the capacity to know how we would like to be treated. Make every effort to treat others in like manner.
We must not be those who grieve about the lack of kindness done to us. We must be those who grieve about our self-focus that deters us from doing kindness to others. We must not be guided by what others are doing. We must be part of the solution. We must get ourselves in the habit of doing kind deeds. We must remember the blessing it is to receive kindness, but the greater blessing to extend kindness to another. As our Lord told us, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Ac. 20:35).  Never forget Christian that God “prepared good works beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). We must "not lose heart in doing good" (Gal. 6:9).

“Love Is” ... Patient

Recently in my preaching we have been studying the characteristics of a New Testament church.  For the final characteristic, Love, I have been taking my people through the “Love Chapter” to see how Paul defines and describes biblical, self-sacrificing love.
God in his goodness, through a text we often use for comfort, has brought some discomfort into my life by revealing how “unloving” I can be at times.  I figured I would share some practical wisdom from the Word that has helped me achieve the standard that God demands of all his children.  
First on the list is “patience”.  How do we demonstrate godly patience?
  • The patience that God expects us to show toward others grows out of the relationship we have with Him.  There is no way you can exhibit godly patience in your own strength or through your own efforts. But the good news is that you are not alone. God is with you and God desires to work His patience through you. We must daily devote ourselves to God and abide in His love through obedience. You see, when we walk in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit will produce fruit in our lives. Contrary to the deeds of the flesh, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience…" (Gal. 5:22).
    • You must remember how patient God is with you. Praise God that He doesn’t have my level of patience. The Bible says, "(God was) patient toward you, not wishing for (you) to perish but…to come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9; cf. 1 Tim. 1:16). When all  I deserved was instant judgment, God was patient with me through years of rejection and then gladly received me when I called upon His name.  "It becomes…difficult," says R. C. Sproul, "To fathom when we see a sinless Being being more patient with sinful beings than sinful beings are with each other".  Think of it this way, the godly response is God’s response to us!
      • Remember the example of Jesus. Hebrews 12 teaches us to throw off our encumbrances, fix our eyes upon Jesus and run with endurance. We are to consider Him who endured the cross and such hostility by sinners. He did not lose heart nor grow weary and neither should we when it comes to doing what is right. So consider the patience of the One who tolerated so much from His disciples and after being nailed to the cross by wicked men, cried, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Lk. 23:34).
        • Keep a right perspective of yourself and others.  Remember that we all have a natural tendency to think too highly of ourselves. "Every man’s way is right in his own eyes," says Proverbs 21:2a. As I often say, “we always paint ourselves with broad strokes.” We have no control over others, but we have total control over how we treat others. Never forget that Jesus died for others in the church. He takes it personally when we are impatient with members of His body.
          • Trust in the Lord. Oftentimes impatience is our feeble attempt to execute justice. We want our proverbial “pound of flesh”. Trust in the justice of God. Leave vengeance to Him (Rom. 12:19). Instead of extending wrath, extend mercy, love and forgiveness! Once again, Jesus set this example for us. "While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Pet. 2:23). Believe His promises, obey His will and leave the judgment to Him.
            I was so convicted as to how far I fall short in being patient with others as God demands — especially with my family and with my church — those whom I love the most. How are you doing?  Remember ... “Love is patient.”