Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

The Story of God

Visual Theology

From Challies...
Infographics have become all the rage over the past few years and are used to display all manner of information. Last year I found myself wondering if infographics could be used to display theology in a helpful and visually-appealing way. I soon spoke to a few graphic artists and commissioned a series of twelve infographics, each of which dealt with a particular point of theology. I made these graphics freely available to copy and download and also offered them for sale for those who wanted them professionally printed. Here is a round-up of those twelve graphics. And yes, for those who are asking, I do hope to have a new series early next year.
Simply click on any of the graphics to see it full-sized, to download it for free, or to purchase a poster.

The Order of Salvation

The Order of Salvation

The Attributes of God

The Attributes of God

The Books of the Bible

Books of the Bible

Think on These Things

Think on These Things

Awaiting the Messiah

Awaiting the Messiah

The Trinity

The Trinity

To the Glory of God

To the Glory of God

The Message of the Tabernacle

The Tabernacle

The Fruit of the Spirit

Fruit of the Spirit

Reformed Theology

Reformed Theology

One Another

One Another

The Atonement

The Atonement

What is the Mission of the Church - FREE!

This month's free audiobook from Christian Audio is "What Is The Mission of The Church" by Greg Gilbert and Kevin DeYoung.  As Challies says, "no-brainer".  Grab it up!!

12 Things To Do When Criticized

Mark Altrogge writes...
We will all be criticized at one time or another. Sometimes justly, sometimes unjustly. Sometimes others’ criticism of us is harsh and undeserved. Sometimes we may need it. How do we respond to criticism? I haven’t always done well and I’m still learning, but here are a few things I try to think of when others criticize me.
Be quick to hear. (James 1:19)
This can be hard to do because our emotions rise up and our minds begin to think of ways to refute the other person.  To be quick to hear means we really do try to listen to and consider what the other person is saying. We don’t just write it off. Even if it seems unjust or undeserved.
Be slow to speak (James 1:19).
Don’t interrupt or respond too quickly. Let them finish. If you speak too quickly you might speak rashly or in anger.
Be slow to become angry.
Why? Because James 1:19-20 says the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Anger won’t make someone do the right thing. Remember, God is slow to anger, patient and long-suffering with those who offend him. How much more should we be.
Don’t rail back.
“When (Jesus) was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).  Talk about being unjustly accused – Jesus was, yet continued to trust the Lord and did not revile in return.
Give a gentle response.  
“A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). Be gracious even to those who offend you, even as God is gracious to us when we offend him.
Don’t defend yourself too quickly.
Defensiveness can rise out of pride and being unteachable.
Consider what might be true in the critique, even if it is given in a poor way.
Even if it is given with the intent to hurt or mock, there still might be something worth considering. God might be speaking to you through this person.
Remember the Cross.
Someone has said that people won’t say anything about us that the Cross hasn’t said and more, which is, we are sinners who deserve eternal punishment. So actually, anything anyone says about us is less than what the Cross has said about us.  Turn to God who accepts you in Christ unconditionally despite your many sins and failures.  We can be discouraged when we see areas of sin or failure but Jesus has paid for those on the cross and God is pleased with us because of Christ.
Consider the fact that you have blind spots  
We can’t always see ourselves accurately. Maybe this person is seeing something you can’t see about yourself.
Pray about the criticism
Ask God for wisdom – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).
Ask others for their opinion
Your critic could be right or completely off-the-wall. If this is an area of sin or weakness in your life, then others will have seen it too.
Consider the source.  
Don’t do this too quickly, but consider the other person’s possible motives, their level of expertise or wisdom, etc. They may be criticizing you to hurt you or they may not know what they’re talking about.
I don't know about you, but don't you kind of wish "completely freak out", or "pinch their neck off" were on that list?  Let's face it, all of us have been on both ends of the equation if we're being honest.  One lesson I learned long ago (although I still fail to remember on occasion) is this, "if they knew half the sin in my heart, they would rebuke me all the more."

Why Should You Go to A Prayer Meeting?

Erik Raymond writes

Chances are someone has invited you to a prayer meeting. Your immediate response is probably predictable. “What time is it? And where do you meet?” Your next response is also highly predictable, “Why should I go to a prayer meeting?” My goal in this post is to provide help with the latter question.

Here is my short-list of 6 reasons why you should go to a prayer meeting.
    1. Privilege- Sometimes we forget that prayer is a privilege. And it is not a cheap privilege. When we pray we are communing with the God of the universe, the originator and sustainer of all life. Further, we are talking to our Father. He is more than a cosmic superintendent he is our caring Savior. This family relationship, this access was purchased with the highest price, the royal currency of Christ’s blood. Don’t allow yourself to crowd out privilege with inconvenience.
    2. Community- In the NT we know that personal prayer is to be prioritized and protected (Matt. 6.6). But we also see community prayer modeled and prescribed (Acts 1.142 Tim. 2.1-8). There is great refreshment in the gathering of believers, in-dwelt and led by the Holy Spirit, calling upon Trinitarian Community while in the church community.
    3. Edification- Every time I pray with other believers I find myself edified. People often have different devotional soups on the front burner. God is preparing, teaching, and showing them different things than he is me. As these other believers pray they speak of what they are learning and how God is leading them to be sympathetic and burdened for others. This is surprisingly impactful and is a useful tool for my edification.
    4. Training- Along the lines of edification there is great training when believers pray together. I think of the disciples who asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Evidently Jesus’ prayers were so different than others that they heard; they wanted to be instructed in the school of prayer by its headmaster. So too we as believers, as we are instructed by Christ in the Scriptures, find ourselves training together in prayer. Some people may not come to a prayer meeting because they feel that they are not “good” at praying. But this is precisely why they should come. There is great training in the meetings.
    5. Serving- As believers gather together to lift of the needs of others and extol the beauty of God there is an aspect of service. This came home to me one day as a person in my family was very sick. In fact, it caused me to miss the weekly prayer meeting in the morning. Later that morning I received multiple messages from guys who were at the meeting saying how they were praying for the situation. I cannot detail the level of encouragement I received from this. Even so meeting, week after week, folks gather together to serve their brothers and sisters, their city, and saints around the world by lifting up petitions to God on their behalf.
    6. Reminder- There is little else you can do that will remind you of your neediness than prayer. In fact, your prayer life corresponds directly with how needy you really feel. When you carve out time to meet with other believers you are reminded of your great need and great privilege. You have to be reminded by virtue of the fact that you are coming to God through Christ and petitioning for the glory of God in this world! This is a tremendous blessing for us to be reminded of our need even as we call out in need.

A Good Dad is Hard to Find

Unreasonable, dissatisfied men roam this world. And many of them have children along the way. This is no surprise to our culture. The terrible father is a recurring motif in our literature and a common feature in our experience. You can read Mark Twain and Richard Wright, or you can talk to your child's classmate or a friend from church. A good dad is hard to find.

People have generally lost the sense of what a strong, self-sacrificing father looks like, largely because they've never seen one. Anyone with a listening ear and a speck of empathy can see the unique difficulty that growing up under a crummy father can cause.
Our early relational experiences---particularly with those entrusted with our care---are incredibly shaping. That's not a bad thing. In fact, it's part of God's design for human development. Through fathers and mothers, children receive a framework for understanding the world and everything in it, from important things like morality to relatively trivial things like clothing styles. Why else would God be so adamant that parents teach their children the knowledge of him in the context of the everyday activities of life (Deut 6:7; 11:19)? And alongside the words they speak, parents model the character of God in their affection for, generosity to, and patience with their children. This should be particularly true of fathers (Psalm 103:13, Matt 7:9-11, Eph 5:4, Col 3:21, 1 Thes 2:7-12).
So how can ministers of the gospel help people whose fathers were bad role models?
First, we recognize that earthly fathers can lie to their children about the nature of fatherhood.
Sadly, there is a wide spectrum of sins a father can commit against his children. Some fathers are volatile and moody, subjecting their children to an anxious existence. Other fathers are uncaring and unmotivated, showing little interest or delight in their children and thus depriving them of confidence in the relationship. Others are dissatisfied and accusatory, subjecting the children to impossible standards and punishing them with insults and manipulation. Still other fathers are lazy and indulgent, satiating their children with brightly colored distractions so that he can pursue distractions of his own. Each of these ways of relating to children lie to them about the nature of authority, fatherly dedication, familial intimacy, and the privileges of sonship.
Second, we recognize that these false beliefs about fatherhood can hinder a person from trusting the fatherhood of God.
This is not to say that something irreparable gets knocked loose in the subconscious during the developmental years. Rather, the false beliefs formed through experience can be more functionally significant than what we learn from Scripture. Often, people approach God with the kind of suspicion they developed for their fathers, projecting on him the same moodiness or ill intent they suffered under. But this is to interpret God in precisely the wrong direction. We don't project on God things from our experience. He reveals himself to us, by which we then understand our experience.
Third, we recognize that God's revelation of himself as Father is ultimately the only way to undermine false beliefs about fatherhood.
Believing the gospel of Jesus Christ is more than just rejoicing that my sins are forgiven and that Jesus is my righteousness. It is also involves believing in my adoption as a son (Eph 1:5, Gal 4:5) so that I can call out to God with the intimate confidence of a child-heir (Rom 8:15-17). God includes his children in the love he has for the eternal second person of the Trinity (John 17:23,26). Even those with excellent earthly fathers cannot imagine such generous divine fatherhood!
Faith in such a surpassing vision of fatherhood is a gift that God gives by the Holy Spirit through the proclamation of his Word. So we unapologetically rely on the Word to do what it alone can do. And as we cast this positive vision of God as he has revealed himself, we should also help identify and consciously put off those false beliefs about fatherhood that undermine childlike trust.
For instance, we may challenge others to consider the following lines of questioning to identify and oppose false beliefs provoked by poor fathering:
  • How is your conception of God similar to your conception of your earthly dad? Volatile and moody, uncaring and unmotivated, dissatisfied and accusatory, lazy and indulgent? What does Scripture say about your conception of God?
  • How do you feel toward God? Do these feelings line up with what you know from Scripture or with something else? What do your feelings indicate about your attitude toward God?
  • What is the Father's disposition toward you? Are you thinking of your relationship with God as dependent upon your efforts to appease him? Does God put the burden of the relationship on your shoulders?

Fourth, we help men to be earthly fathers who reflect their heavenly Father.
People with crummy dads may know better than anyone else the importance of a good dad but feel the least equipped to be one since they didn't benefit from an example. Specific instruction in parenting is very helpful for those who lack the background to sense it naturally. But the more specific the instruction, we must be careful not to imply that there is a single system of parenting that, if followed, will result in his being a good dad. I've seen men from homes with poor or absent fathers become almost militaristic in an attempt to avoid being an inattentive dad. I've seen others become almost indulgent in an attempt to avoid being a harsh one.
The secret to becoming a great father is not so secret: by faith, be a child of your heavenly Father. As you trust your Father, you will know what fatherhood was meant to be. Here's a pertinent prayer from Paul---that "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints" (Eph 1:17-18).

Sounds That Can't Be Made

Today is the day Canadian "Marillionaires" have been waiting for.  I have already grabbed the latest offering from Marillion, "Sounds That Can't Be Made" from iTunes.  First impression...it is stunning; it very well could be their best.

Check out the trailer...

And the single "Power"

And the epic "Gaza"

Ask For Tolerance

Greg Koukl

If you’re placed in a situation where you suspect your convictions will be labeled intolerant, bigoted, narrow-minded, and judgmental, turn the tables.  When someone asks for your personal views about a moral issue—homosexuality, for example—preface your remarks with a question.

You say:  “You know, this is actually a very personal question you’re asking, and I’d be glad to answer.  But before I do, I want to know if you consider yourself a tolerant person or an intolerant person.  Is it safe to give my opinion, or are you going to judge me for my point of view?  Do you respect diverse ideas, or do you condemn others for convictions that differ from yours?”  Let them answer.  If they say they’re tolerant (which they probably will), then when you give your point of view it’s going to be very difficult for them to call you intolerant or judgmental without looking guilty, too. 

This response capitalizes on the fact that there’s no morally neutral ground.  Everybody has a point of view they think is right and everybody judges at some point or another.  The Christian gets pigeon-holed as the judgmental one, but everyone else is judging, too.  It’s an inescapable consequence of believing in any kind of morality.

Why Don't We Burn Things When Jesus is Mocked? Because He's Alive!

Watch TV and you’ll hear the Name of God the Father and God the Son mocked, used in vain, used to curse, and many other ways that deny the holiness, beauty, majesty, power, glory, and wonder of who He is.  Watch movies and listen to music and you’ll find the same things.  In fact, go out into the marketplace and you’ll hear these same abuses of the beautiful Name of our Savior.  And yet, short of boycotting some products or writing letters/emails or phoning TV stations or sending petitions, you’ll not really see any other visible demonstration of outrage from Christians.

And yet, throughout the world we see angry people causing all manner of evil due to the denigration of the name of their prophet.  What’s the difference?  Why don’t Christians burn down things when Jesus is mocked?  Just a few thoughts…

1. There is coming a day when Jesus will make all things right and all who were mockers of His Name will bow at His Name and confess He is Lord.  There is a sense in which I don’t have to defend the honor of Jesus’ Name…He’s quite capable of defending Himself, thank you.  And on that day when every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father, the mockers will be put to shame for eternity.  I might be angry for a day.  The wrath of God will be poured out for eternity.

2. When the Name of Jesus is mocked, every Christian should remember that he once mocked Jesus, too.  We were all by nature children of wrath fully deserving the full wrath of God.  And yet our God showed us mercy and grace through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  While fully responsible for actions, we were acting in ignorance according to our natures.  But when God said, “Let their be light” in our hearts, we saw for the first time the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  We then saw our sin for what it was and the beauty of Christ for who He is and we repented and trusted in the finished work of Jesus to save us.  So, instead of burning things up when others mock Jesus, we show patience knowing the Savior was patient with us.

3. Which leads us to the work we should do now.  Instead of burning things up, we warn and plead with those who mock the Savior to repent of their sin and turn to Christ.  If we truly love Christ, we will love making much of Him to sinners knowing He came to save sinners.  Because we have been forgiven much, we will want others to know of the beauty of His grace poured out on sinners.  We will warn these mockers of the fire of hell which will never die out.  The work we do isn’t to defend the honor of His Name but to herald His Name as we seek reconciliation between God and man through the preaching of the gospel.

4.  All of this reminds us that Jesus is the living, resurrected Lord.  Jesus continues to be at work even today, right now.  The Holy Spirit works through us as we make much of Jesus who is risen from the dead.  We have a story to tell.  Jesus is coming again and will make all things right.  We don’t have to defend the honor of a dead man…He’s alive!

I pray that those who feel the need to defend the name and honor of a dead man will see the glory of the true and living Lord who has made a way of escape from the wrath of God through His death and resurrection.  Let us pray that their blinded eyes will be opened to the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life who is the only way to the true Father of all.

When Is It Okay to Ask a Woman If She’s Pregnant?

It’s a tricky question, but this chart provides a good rule of thumb.

HT / Rev Kev

Freed From The Prison Of Why

There’s no doubt, the Why questions of suffering are utterly perplexing. And as we search the Scriptures and consider stories such as Job’s, we are tempted to see those as worst-case scenarios designed to help us get our heads straight in relation to our comparatively small “first world” problems. We look for ways to manage pain. We medicate; we minimize; we moralize. We rage, and we run. We develop theories to explain what is happening to us. While they may temporarily help us categorize and compartmentalize our thoughts and feelings, when true suffering comes, all our speculations fall flat. The Why’s of suffering keep us shrouded in a seemingly bottomless void of abstraction where God is reduced to a finite ethical agent, a limited psychological personality, whose purposes measure on the same scale as ours...

...The good news of suffering is that it brings us to the end of ourselves—a purpose it has certainly served in my life. It brings us to the place of honesty, which is the place of desperation, which is the place of faith, which is the place of freedom. Suffering leaves our idols in pieces on the ground. It puts us in a position to see that God sent His Son not only to suffer in our place but also to suffer with us. Our merciful friend has been through it all. He is with us right now! And while He may not deliver us from pain and loss, He’ll walk with us through it. That is simply Who He is.

321 Gospel

He Knows...

I needed that reminder today!  In fact, I need it everyday.  SDG!

Jesus is Better...

HT / Mike Andrews

Pass 312

Julian Freeman writes...
Can you imagine a scenario where people in some far off country are being systematically wiped out? Imagine millions of people being killed by the government and the news of it being hushed, downplayed, and spun by the media so that the massacre can continue.
It sounds tragic, right?
Now imagine that the conspiracy was uncovered, the statistics of death made public, and the ugly truth of the killing of innocent people in government run and funded processes was exposed…. There would be outrage, right? Calls to reform? We would storm in with vitriol, passionate to save the lives of the innocents and to restore justice for the weak who are being eliminated! Right?
You would think that would be the case. Unless the tragedy is happening in Canada and the people being killed are not really people… because they’re babies.
According to our country’s criminal code, unborn babies are not classed as ‘human’ and therefore anyone in our country can do anything they like to unborn babies. Any abortion, any time, any means. Even a bullet from a gun.
One brave MP, Stephen Woodworth, has brought forward Motion 312 in an attempt to evaluate that law (which excludes unborn babies from being classed as ‘human’) and possibly change it. Every major political party has denounced this action.
Our MPs need to hear from those who care that unborn children ought to be protected under law the same way we are. They need to hear from you. With the lives of millions of unborn children in the balance, silence is not an option and ignorance is not an excuse. We Canadians must speak up.
Here’s what you should do. Go to Pass312.org, sign up for their list, and get involved. All the information you need to join the cause is given there. You don’t have to do any research. You just have to care enough to sign up and make your voice heard.
Let’s not be those people who stand by passively or throw up our hands in defeat while humans are dying when it is in our power to do something about it. Jesus didn’t.
What location is this video describing? See if you can guess before the mid point.

Biblical Wisdom on Church Discipline

Tom Ascol, Executive Director of Founders Ministries, writes...

The most serious step that a church can take is to remove one of its members and, in the words of the Apostle Paul, turn such a one "over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 5:5). It is a sobering experience for both the church and for the individual, if he or she has a genuine grasp on the authority of Jesus Christ through His Word and as Lord of His church (Matthew 18:15-20).

Whenever a church takes this final step of removing one of her members, inevitably the question arises among sensitive and thoughtful believers, "How are we to treat those who have been removed?" Sometimes, sentimentalism trumps Scripture in the minds of some church members and the result that injury is done to the souls of those who are being subjected to the God-ordained means of discipline. Church discipline is one of the main ways that Christ pursues His wayward sheep. But if they are not regarded as wayward, or if Christ's own words are disobeyed by believers who have sentimental, unbiblical ideas of love, then spiritual damage inevitably results as the redemptive process of church discipline is undermined.

At the 2006 Ligonier's Conference in Orlando, Florida, Ligon Duncan, R.C. Sproul, Ken Jones and John MacArthur were asked about this during a panel discussion. Their responses are filled with wisdom, humility and grace. I encourage you to take 9 minutes and listen to their insights in the audio clip below.

A special thanks to Chris Larsen and the good folks at Ligonier for permission to post this.