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Quotes

March 27, 2011

I’ve felt myself drawn to this prayer written by Scotty Smith, a prayer that asks God to help our friends finish well in the gospel—to help us all remain faithful until Today becomes the Day. It begins with this passage of Scripture:

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. Hebrews 3:12-14

Dear Jesus, this portion of your Word is both sobering and encouraging. It leads me to think about friendship this morning and the gospel-posse you’ve given me. I’m so very grateful for the friends you’ve woven into my life. Being an introvert, the journey of investing my heart in long term relationships has required, and still requires the work of the gospel in my heart—a grace work you’ve been faithful to provide.

I’ve already gripped the handle of a couple of friend’s caskets and they’ll do the same for me one day. More than ever, I want us to finish well together in the gospel. What does look like and what will it require, Jesus?

My temptation is to treat my easiest friendships like a broken-in pair of Birkenstocks—I just enjoy these relationships without much thought or effort. It’s a great gift to have a few friends who can finish each other’s sentences, endure one another’s jokes, appreciate each other’s quirks and accept one another’s weaknesses. Surely, this is a gospel-gift.

Yet, Jesus, we’re still foolish men—capable of acting out in very destructive ways, prone to wander, easy targets for temptation. Sin is exceedingly deceitful. With all of my heart, I believe in the “final perseverance of the saints,” but I equally believe that it’s the saints who will finally persevere. Your Word is very clear—continuance in the gospel is a sign of being rooted in the gospel. That doesn’t scare me, but it does humble me.

Help us know how to hold each other accountable for believing the gospel. Help us to take each other’s heart-struggles seriously. Don’t let us confuse flattery with encouragement. Help us never to minimize nor marginalize the hardening power of sin. Help us know how to preach the gospel to our own hearts daily and to each all the time, until Today gives way to the Day. So very Amen, I pray, in your all glorious name.

March 20, 2011

If God be our Father, let us imitate him. The child not only bears his father’s image, but imitates him in his speech, gesture and behaviour. If God be our Father, let us imitate him. ‘Be ye followers of God, as dear children.’ Eph 5: 1.

Imitate God in forgiving injuries. ‘I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions.’ Isa 44: 22. As the sun scatters not only thin mists, but thick clouds, so God pardons great offences. Imitate him in this. ‘Forgiving one another.’ Eph 4: 32. Cranmer was a man of a forgiving spirit: he buried injuries and requited good for evil. He who has God for his Father, will have him for his pattern.

Imitate God in works of mercy. ‘The Lord looseth the prisoners.’ Psa 146: 7. He opens his hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing. Psa 145: 16. He drops his sweet dew upon the thistle as well as the rose. Imitate God in works of mercy; relieve the wants of others; be rich in good works. ‘Be merciful, as your Father also is merciful.’ Luke 6: 36. Be not so hard hearted as to shut out the poor from all communication. Dives denied Lazarus a crumb of bread, and Dives was denied a drop of water.

Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer (Kindle Edition, Location 547) (HT)

March 13, 2011

Here’s a prayer from Scotty Smith, one that really helped me this morning. In it Scotty looks at Psalm 42, where a deer pants for water, and asks God to help us long for him the way David did. As he says, “Thirst will not be denied. We’ll do almost anything to satisfy our thirst.”


As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:1-2

Loving Jesus, there’s no craving more demanding than thirst. It’s neither patient nor polite. When we get thirsty, we’re usually quick to slake its unrelenting demand, one way or another. Thirst will not be denied. We’ll do almost anything to satisfy our thirst.

Because this is true, we join the Psalmist in crying out, “Jesus, intensify our thirst for you. Keep us panting like the deer which pants after streams of water—the unpolluted, undistilled, never-ending brooks of your bounty.

Quickly drain the broken-cisterns of our own making. Don’t let us be even momentarily satisfied with any other beverage than the draft you draw, the potion you pour, the life-giving libation you alone can give.  

If we take up King David’s lament, “When can I go and meet with God?”,  you answer back, without delay, “Right now, my beloved, do not wait. If you’re thirsty, come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:38)

If we should say, “But Jesus, where can we find you?” You answer back even quicker, “Not in the Law; not in your strivings; not in your labors; not in your earnestness; not in your self-loathing’s; not in your vain promises, but only in the gospel. Come and fall into the rivers of my love. Stand under the cascading waterfalls of my grace. Open your heart wide to my supply and I will over-fill you with everything you need and more than you want.”

Even so and evermore, Jesus, school us well in pant-theology. Fill us afresh than we might be a people to the praise of your glory and grace. So very Amen, we pray, in your all glorious and all generous name.

March 06, 2011

Here is a new/old hymn that you may not be familiar with. It was recently introduced at church and has quickly become one of my favorites. Written by Horatius Bonar, it was recorded last year by Sandra McCracken on her album In Feast or Fallow.

God forbid that I should glory,
Save in the Redeemer’s cross.
Counting shame for Him but honor,
Counting earthly gain but loss.
All the love of God is here,
A love that casteth out all fear.

God forbid that I should glory,
Save in Christ my Lord alone.
Him I lean on; Him I follow,
Him, before the world, I own.
All the love of God is here,
A love that casteth out all fear

God forbid that I should glory,
Save in Christ the Son of God.
Him who sought me Him who bought me,
Him who washed me in his blood.
All the love of God is here
A love that casteth out all fear.

Here is what Sandra says about the hymn:

The text was passed along to me for this project by my friend Kevin Twit (who has a collection of rare hymnals) from a volume of Horatius Bonar’s posthumous hymns.  I love it for it’s fierce statement of love that casts out all fear.  It fit the record themes perfectly.  The stanzas have such a natural lilt that helped the melody to come more easily.  We recorded the guitar vocal first, as a simple, strummy version.  After that, Derek muted the guitar altogether and created a modern, evocative sonic atmosphere for the vocal to live in.

February 27, 2011

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I have the privilege of preaching at Grace Fellowship Church this morning. I awoke feeling tired and worn, believing that fatigue is God’s means of rebuking me, of calling me to depend on him instead of myself. So I turned to the Valley of Vision, looking for a prayer that I could make my own. Here is how that book ministered to me today.

My Master God,
I am desired to preach today,
but go weak and needy to my task;
Yet I long that people might be edified with divine truth,
that an honest testimony might be borne for thee;
Give me assistance in preaching and prayer,
with heart uplifted for grace and unction.
Present to my view things pertaining to my subject,
with fullness of matter and clarity of thought,
proper expressions, fluency, fervency,
a feeling sense of the things I preach,
and grace to apply them to men’s consciences.
Keep me conscious all the while of my defects,
and let me not gloat in pride over my performance.
Help me to offer a testimony for thyself,
and to leave sinners inexcusable in neglecting thy mercy.
Give me freedom to open the sorrows of thy people,
and set before them comforting considerations.
Attend with power the truth preached.
and awaken the attention of my slothful audience.
May thy people be refreshed, melted, convicted, comforted,
and help me to use the strongest arguments
drawn from Christ’s incarnation and sufferings,
that men might be made holy.
I myself need thy support, comfort, strength, holiness,
that I might be a pure channel of thy grace,
and be able to do something for thee;
Give me then refreshment among thy people,
and help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way,
or bear a broken testimony to so worthy a redeemer,
or be harsh in treating of Christ’s death, its design and end,
from lack of warmth and fervency.
And keep me in tune with thee as I do this work.

January 30, 2011

Because of all I’ve written about pornography over the past few years, I was interested to see a recent prayer that Scotty Smith posted at his blog. He titled it “A Prayer for Friends Struggling with Pornography.” Here it is:

Jesus, my heart goes out today for friends and their spouses whose lives are being assaulted by the ravaging and enslaving grip of pornography.  I know of no other power sufficient for the task but the gospel. This is why I run to you today with grave concern, but also with great hope.

O Lord of resurrection and redemption, bring your mercy and might to bear in stunning fashion. Things impossible for us are more than possible for you. You have come to set captives free and to heal the brokenhearted. Pornography is creating an over abundance of both.

Jesus, for friends somewhere in the pornography continuum of titillation to addiction, we ask you to reveal yourself in the deepest place of their hearts. We ask for the holy gift of godly sorrow, not the short-lived remorse of worldly sorrow. For your non-condemning love has great power to deliver those who cry, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body which is subject to death?”

Lead them to that cry, Jesus. They need a lot more than embarrassment and fear, they need contrition and hope. Where pornography has desensitized our friends, re-sensitize them so they can see and feel the horror of their entrapment, and more so… much more so, the wonder of your deliverance.

For our friends who are married to someone in the talons of pornography, dear Jesus, theirs may be the greater pain and struggle. No one but you can help them with the anger, the disgust, the wound, the shame, and the mistrust that goes with this story. Help us walk with our friends who are right in the middle of this dark vortex. Show us how to validate their feelings without confirming hurt-driven conclusions. Bring patience and perspective, forbearance and faith.

Only you can rebuild the trust. Only you, Jesus, can bring a willingness to hope again. Only you can heal the places in our hearts which have suffered the greatest violation and harm. Absolutely no one understands all this like you, Jesus, and absolutely no one redeem these messes but you. So very Amen, we pray, in your great and glorious name.

Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 7:21-8:2

January 23, 2011

My pal Andy Naselli posted this poem. And I just had to repost it. It comes from John Bunyan’s “A Book for Boys and Girls: or, Temporal Things Spiritualized.” Pages 746–62 in vol. 3 of The Works of John Bunyan.

Children become, while little, our delights!
When they grow bigger, they begin to fright’s.
Their sinful nature prompts them to rebel,
And to delight in paths that lead to hell.
Their parents’ love and care they overlook,
As if relation had them quite forsook.
They take the counsels of the wanton’s, rather
Than the most grave instructions of a father.
They reckon parents ought to do for them,
Though they the fifth commandment do contemn;
They snap and snarl if parents them control,
Though but in things most hurtful to the soul.
They reckon they are masters, and that we
Who parents are, should to them subject be!
If parents fain would have a hand in choosing,
The children have a heart will in refusing.
They’ll by wrong doings, under parents gather,
And say it is no sin to rob a father.
They’ll jostle parents out of place and power,
They’ll make themselves the head, and them devour.
How many children, by becoming head,
Have brought their parents to a piece of bread!
Thus they who, at the first, were parents joy,
Turn that to bitterness, themselves destroy.
But, wretched child, how canst thou thus requite
Thy aged parents, for that great delight
They took in thee, when thou, as helpless, lay
In their indulgent bosoms day by day?
Thy mother, long before she brought thee forth,
Took care thou shouldst want neither food nor cloth.
Thy father glad was at his very heart,
Had he to thee a portion to impart.
Comfort they promised themselves in thee,
But thou, it seems, to them a grief wilt be.
How oft, how willingly brake they their sleep,
If thou, their bantling, didst but winch or weep.
Their love to thee was such they could have giv’n,
That thou mightst live, almost their part of heav’n.
But now, behold how they rewarded are!
For their indulgent love and tender care;
All is forgot, this love he doth despise.
They brought this bird up to pick out their eyes.

January 16, 2011

Do you ever find that you just don’t know how to pray? You know that you need to pray for someone, but you don’t know how? That is a great time to turn to the Bible and to pray to God the words of God. Mary Kassian once wrote a brief overview of praying Scripture and I thought I’d share it with you today. It’s quite helpful as you consider one way of taking the words of the Bible and turning those into prayers. Note that I am not endorsing lectio divina here (and neither is Mary, I’m sure); rather, I am simply saying that there is real value in searching Scripture for application that can be immediately prayed to the Lord.

Here is how Mary encourages you to pray Scripture:

1.  Read
Read a passage of Scripture slowly. Let’s use a passage from Psalm 1:1-2 for example:

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

2.  Reflect
Think about how to personalize the text and apply it to your own life. Take note of any particular verse or phrase that seems to be of particular importance. For instance, in the above verses you might take note of the word “Blessed” and “delight is in the law of the Lord.” You might want to think about where you are seeking happiness and delight. Do you delight in God’s Word?

3.  Resonate
Respond to/agree with the passage by praying it back to God. Pray the words of the Scriptures, applying them to your life or circumstance. You could pray Psalm 1:12 in the following way:

“Lord, please help me not to walk according to the advice of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of scoffers. Help me find my happiness and delight in Your word, and to meditate on Your word all the time.” (Or, you could pray this as an intercessory prayer for your husband, children, or for a government official, church leader, or friend.)

4.  Receive

Keep Reading this article at the True Woman blog.

January 09, 2011

Here’s another good prayer from Scotty Smith. This is one for a day we’ve all experienced; it’s a prayer for days when you don’t feel like praying. Scotty and I aren’t the only one who have these days, are we?—those days when you’re just so glad that God’s delight in you isn’t contingent on your delight in him.

Here’s how Scotty prayed on a day like that:

Dear Father, this is one of those days when I could create a long prayer list and methodically go through it, but I’m not sure I would really be praying. I could go through the motions, but to be quite honest, it would be more ritual than reality… more about me, than the people and situations I’d bring before you. I’m feeling a bit distracted this morning, scattered and not very focused.

It’s one of those days I’m glad the gospel is much more about your grasp of me than my grip on you. It’s one of those days I’m grateful your delight in me is not contingent upon my delight in you. It’s one of those days I’m very thankful for the prayer ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Gracious Father, I have no problem or reluctance in acknowledging my weakness this morning. In fact it’s freeing to know your Spirit doesn’t abandon us when we’re weak, but helps us in our weakness. Just as Jesus constantly prays for us, the Holy Spirit faithfully prays in us with “wordless groans.” Though I don’t understand everything that means, I do get the part about you searching our hearts and you knowing the mind of the Spirit, and that brings me great comfort today.

No one knows our hearts better than you, Father. And you search our hearts to save us, not to shame us… to deliver us, not to demean us… to change us, not to chide us. You know my dignity and my depravity, my fears and my longings, my struggles with sin and my standing in Christ. No one but you knows how little or how much of the gospel I actually get.

And at this very moment your Spirit is praying inside of me… perfectly tuned into my needs and in total harmony with your will. I cannot measure the peace that brings. I surrender right now, Father. I will gladly groan to your glory. I know you are at work for my good in all things, including this season.

All I have to do is look at Jesus and know these things are true. You have called me to life in him and you will complete your purpose in me… and in each of your children… and in the entire cosmos. I do love you, I would love you more. So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ merciful and faithful name.

January 02, 2011

Here is a great little quote from James Spiegel and his book Gum, Geckos and God. In this part of the book he is discussing the correlation between knowledge and trust—we trust those who have knowledge. Read what he says about this…

The other day I was sitting in a faculty meeting, trying not to doze off during some committee reports. As I looked around, I mused over how much each of my colleagues understands about his or her discipline. It occurred to me that if there was a single mind that possessed all of the knowledge in that room, its intelligence would be surpassed in human history. I also considered how easy it would be to trust such a person if he or she were to counsel me on some matter. From there I extrapolated: What if that person had all of the combined knowledge of everyone in Indiana? In the United States? Of the entire world population? Even if God had merely the sum of all human understanding, he should be easy to trust. Yet his wisdom and knowledge infinitely exceed the best human comprehension. Still we struggle to trust him. How twisted is that?

Faith is essentially the practice of trust. And our routine failure to properly trust an infinitely wise God reveals something of our own perversity. We all desire to control our circumstances, and faith is a surrendering of that control. So we naturally tend to rebel against faith. But God graciously counteracts this tendency by nurturing us. Like a good parent, he consistently demonstrates his love. And we, like kids, must trust him on this basis.

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