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May 03, 2012

Reading Classics Together
Today we continue to read through John Bunyan’s classic work The Pilgrim’s Progress, and we come to the ninth stage of Christian’s journey. You may remember that in the last stage Christian and his friend Hopeful encountered the shepherds at the Delectable Mountains. And now they journey on.

Discussion

A lot happened in this week’s rather long reading—far too much to summarize in any substantial way—so I will pick just a couple of the things I found most interesting and helpful.

One of the things that struck me was that the arguments and attitude of atheists has apparently remained largely unchanged since Bunyan’s day (though I suspect that in that day the outspoken atheists were a little harder to come by). Here is a small piece of the dialog between Christian and Atheist.

Christian: We are going to Mount Zion.
Then Atheist fell into a very great laughter.
Christian: What’s the meaning of your laughter?
Atheist: I laugh to see what ignorant persons you are, to take upon you so tedious a journey, and yet are like to have nothing but your travel for your pains.
Christian: Why, man, do you think we shall not be received?
Atheist: Received! There is not such a place as you dream of in all this world.

When Christian tells Atheist that they are journeying toward the Celestial City, he breaks out into laughter. He catches himself and after he is finished mocking, he insists that he has sincerely sought that city and not been able to find it. It is his supposed sincerity that stood out to me. Though he can’t refrain from his laughter, he quickly reigns in the mockery and then shows this false and condescending sympathy. “I was like you once, but I did the work, I did the research, and I can tell you that you are misguided.” Atheists have not changed a whole lot. So many continue to act as if they have had a long and sincere spiritual journey in which they truly sought God only to find that he did not exist. Of course the Bible teaches us otherwise.

Another thing that stood out to me is the value of spiritual friendship. Bunyan portrays a deep and meaningful friendship between Christian and Hopeful. It is not a friendship revolving around nachos and football games, but a friendship based on co-laboring, on true spiritual companionship through life’s joys and trials. Time and again one man catches the other and prevents him from falling away or wandering astray; they continually exhort, encourage and rebuke one another.

May 03, 2012

Lloyd-Jones on Prophecy - Martyn Lloyd-Jones is often used as an example of an advocate of continuationist theology, but here is an article that argues against it. “Although charismatics and Pentecostals have both claimed him as an advocate of their views, a careful reading of ML-J establishes that they have misunderstood him.”

A Wife’s Submission Is Not - This is a helpful look at what the Bible does not mean when it instructs a woman to submit to her husband’s leadership.

The Love of the Father - R.W. Glenn pens a poignant look at his own suffering, the suffering of his son, and the love of a father.

Rain for Roots - Here’s an album I’m looking forward to. It combines the music of artists like Sandra McCracken with songs penned by Sally Lloyd-Jones, who wrote The Jesus Storybook Bible. It releases in mid-May.

Pray for Revival - This is good for me to ponder in light of all I’ve been saying about envy: “What if you spent years faithfully and earnestly praying for revival to come to your community, and then one day, seemingly out of the blue, God dramatically answered your prayers?” And what if this happened at someone else’s church?

Space Photo of the Day - Further proof that God is the ultimate artist.

Pray the Scriptures - Scotty Smith has an article in the current edition of Tabletalk that talks about the value and the practice of praying the Scriptures.

God will either give you what you ask, or something far better. —Robert Murray M’Cheyne

May 02, 2012

I’ve been at this blogging thing for quite a long time now—a bit over 9 years. I’ve been at the daily blogging thing for almost as long. This means that I’ve got an extensive backlist of articles from years gone by. I thought it might be fun to pull out some of the articles I wrote in previous Mays, stretching all the way back to 2004.

2011

Letting Herself Go - I guess the fact that there were 277 comments before we shut them down tells you something about this article!

Pursuing Relationship - This article looked at the relational aspect of pursuing God. Looking back, I can see that at times I’ve done well with this and at times not so well.

2010

Ten Great Biographies - This was simply a list of ten of my favorite biographies.

Joel Osteen or Fortune Cookie? - I enjoyed putting this one together. Todd Friel used it on his radio show which was probably a more natural place for it.

2009

Soul-Winning Made Easy - If you haven’t ever seen the book Soul-Winning Made Easy, then you need to check out this article.

Ashamed of Shame Itself - This is an article about the death of shame.

May 02, 2012

Today I want to wrap up my short series on the sin of Envy. Yesterday I looked at How Envy Behaves and this morning I want to show what Envy wants from you and then to give some instruction on putting him to death. There are at least four things Envy wants from you.

Envy Wants to Destroy Your Joy

Envy is unique among the sins in that you never, ever enjoy it. Envy never brings any satisfaction. If you commit the sin of adultery, you enjoy the fleeting pleasures of the flesh; if you commit the sin of gluttony you get to enjoy the taste of food while it slides down your throat. These are very fleeting and fleshly pleasures, but they are pleasures still. Envy only, ever makes you more miserable than you were before.

Envy also bring misery by making you unwilling or even unable to confess the sin. He cuts so deep, he exposes so much of what you really want that confessing that he exists requires a true baring of the deepest, darkest recesses of the soul. You may not know just how ugly and dark your sin is until you look into your soul and see Envy and then go digging around to try to get him out of there, to find the source and to uproot it.

When I am walking with Envy and allowing him to influence me, I cannot enjoy anything in itself because I only see what I have and what I am in comparison to someone else. I am not popular, I am less popular than he is. I don’t sell books, I sell fewer books than he does. In every case, I can never be joyful, because everything the other person has calls me into question.

Proverbs says that Envy is rottenness to the bones (14:30). Envy makes you sick with grief and dissatisfaction, rotting you from the inside out.

Envy Wants to Destroy Your Love

Envy is anti-love. 1 Corinthians 13 says it plainly: “Love does not envy.” Why? Because love cannot envy. They cannot co-exist. You cannot be envious and loving at the same time toward the same person and this means that you have the choice before you: will I love this person or will I be envious toward him? To love is to rejoice in who he is and in what he has been given. To be envious is to hate who he is and to want to watch him lose what he has been given.

May 02, 2012

Called to Confess - I really enjoyed this article, written by Aileen’s best friend Stacey. She relates an experience she had, then looks at my envy articles, and takes it from there. “I sat down at the computer last night to write a blog post. Nothing came to me. Well, nothing in the form of a blog post anyway. Something else came, though. It crept in slowly, cautiously, masked and disguised as something far less ugly than what was actually hidden beneath.”

When Serpents Bite Granny - I’m a recent subscriber to this blog, but have been enjoying it quite a bit. Here’s a good post that borrows from John Newton: “Perhaps the most offensive claim of the gospel is that a hate-filled cannibalistic child molester finds the same redemption and has an equal status in the eyes of God as your dear old church lovin’, bake-sale havin’, baby burpin’ granny.”

Note to Self - The Kindle edition of Joe Thorn’s excellent book Note to Self is on sale. So too is Curtis Allen’s Education or Imitation?. David Murray’s Christians Get Depressed Too is still at $2.99.

Megachurch as the New Liberalism - This is a long but important article from Al Mohler. He looks at megachurches, and one megachurch pastor in particular, and shows how these churches play a crucial role in promoting (or destroying) Christian theology.

Why Am I Not Enough? - This article takes on a common question that comes when a wife finds that her husband has been looking at pornography—Why am I not enough for him?

Machine Politics - If you’re interested in working your way through a longform article, this one is really interesting (though you’ll have to put up with some bad language). It deals with one of the world’s foremost hackers.

Why Don’t Christians Care That They Sin? - Alistair Begg and R.C. Sproul answer this question at a Ligonier Ministries National Conference Q&A

There is no attribute of God more comforting to his children than the doctrine of divine sovereignty. —C.H. Spurgeon

May 01, 2012

Wallpaper Sponsor
Welcome to May! To ring in the new month I’ve got a couple of great new desktop wallpapers for you to download. This month’s wallpapers were created by Anna Cirlot.

A few notes: Your desktop or laptop may take any of the sizes, depending on your monitor size and a host of other considerations. If you’re not sure of the size, just find one that looks like it would be pretty much the same size as your screen. Generally you set one of these are your wallpaper by clicking on the link to the image, then right-clicking on the image (once it’s open) and selecting “Set as Background,” “Set as Desktop Background,” or something similar. If you aren’t sure, post a comment and we’ll try to help you figure it out.

On the Wings of the Morning

Anna says: “This photo taken by photographer Jessica Preskitt reminds me of the place we recently baptized two believers a couple of Sundays ago.  I can’t help but think about this verse whenever I see the sun rise along the marsh.  It’s beautiful to know God is always near.”

On the Wings of the Morning

With Calendar: 1024x768, 1280x800, 1280x1024, 1366x768, 1440x900, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 2560x1440

Without Calendar: 1024x768, 1280x800, 1280x1024, 1366x768, 1440x900, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 2560x1440

Redeemed

Redeemed

With Calendar: 1024x768, 1280x800, 1280x1024, 1366x768, 1440x900, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 2560x1440

Without Calendar: 1024x768, 1280x800, 1280x1024, 1366x768, 1440x900, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 2560x1440

Churchplantmedia

May 01, 2012

Yesterday I began to write about what I called The Lost Sin of Envy. I gave a short history of Envy and then shared some of what the Bible says about him. Today I want to show how he behaves and how you can expect him to work himself out in your life.

Envy Competes

Who is Envy? What does Envy do? How do we define Envy? Something like this: Envy makes you feel resentment or anger or sadness because another person has something or another person is something that you want for yourself. Envy makes you aware that another person has some advantage, some good thing, that you want for yourself and, while he’s at it, he makes you want that other person not to have it.

This means that there are at least three evil components to Envy: the deep discontent that comes when you see that another person has what you want; the desire to have it for yourself; and the desire for it to be taken from him.

It’s crucial to understand that Envy flows out of Pride. (A commenter said it well: “In my wretched experience pride has always been envy’s father…”) Pride says, “This is what I deserve” or “Let me boast about all I have” or “I am better than you in all of these ways.” Have you ever thought about the fact that pride always compares? C.S. Lewis says, “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others.” When you are proud you compare yourself with another person and there are only two possible outcomes: If you believe you come out on top, you feel even more pride; if you believe you come out on the bottom, you feel envy. Envy comes when Pride is wounded.

Envy does something very strange and ugly. When I look at your success or your money or your joy, that good thing makes me feel bad. It somehow calls me into question, it taunts me, it makes me doubt myself, it even makes me doubt God. When I see your success, it makes me think less of myself. It calls into question all that I am, all that I’ve done, all that I’ve accomplished, all that I’ve worked for. It becomes an issue of my own identity. Your success screams that I have failed.

May 01, 2012

Audio Books - Crossway has put several audiobooks on sale. I’m tempted to get a copy of Jonathan Aitken’s life of John Newton, even though I’ve already read it.

Free from ChristianAudio - While on the subject of audiobooks, this month’s free audiobook from ChristianAudio is Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande.

The Godhood of God - The free book of the month from Logos is A.W. Pink’s The Godhood of God.

Kindle Deals - Every month Amazon puts a selection of Kindle deals on sale. You can check out the list for May at the link.

Fighting the Unholy Trinity - Wisdom from J.C. Ryle: “The principal fight of the Christian is with the world, the flesh, and the devil. This is their never-dying foes. These are the three chief enemies against whom they must wage war. Unless they get the victory over these three, all other victories are useless and vain.”

TSA Infographic - Here’s an infographic about the history, budget and effectiveness of the TSA.

Young Women in Chechnya - The Big Picture has a fascinating photo collection “documenting the lives of young Chechen women as they come of age in the aftermath of war. She writes, “For young women in Chechnya the most innocent acts could mean breaking the law. A Chechen girl caught smoking is cause for arrest; while rumors of a couple engaging in pre-martial relations can result in her killing. The few girls who dare to rebel become targets in the eyes of Chechen authorities.”

Tablets - “E-book consumers’ preference for tablets is accelerating rapidly as dedicated e-readers drop in popularity, according to the Book Industry Study Group (BISG)’s closely watched Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey.”

The right manner of growth is to grow less in one’s own eyes. —Thomas Watson