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Quotes

March 21, 2010

Scotty Smith recently moved his blog to the Gospel Coalition web site. I’ve long regarded his site as a bit of a hidden treasure but I suppose it’s now less so having moved to a more public location. Nevertheless, his most recent prayer caught my eye as, through it, he reflects on a simple question. This is a worthwhile prayer for any of us, I think.

Dear Lord Jesus, driving into my home state recently, I came upon a billboard that pushed some buttons before it raised my palms. Just through the mountains of North Carolina, there is was, bold and in big red letters, Are You Saved? I’ll be honest, my first response was, “What an un-cool, cost-ineffective, out-of-date, impersonal way to do evangelism.” Then I ruminated, “People that put up highway signs like that are clueless about the gospel. They’re usually legalists and moralists, and have no idea about a theology of imputed righteousness. They’re culturally out-of-touch and don’t realize what a turn-off that kind of signage is.”

But after my momentary-arrogance and billboard-pontification, your Spirit gently disrupted my “cool” with this thought, “You completely avoided the question, Are You Saved?

I continued driving, but that’s when one palm went up anyway, for indeed, I am saved, Jesus, unabashedly and unashamedly so. And there’s only one reason and there’s only one basis… I have come to God through you. You are the permanent priest who offered the perfect sacrifice for me, once and for all. You completed your work on the cross and you will complete your work in me. You live forever and you forever live to thoroughly save me, and your whole pan-national trans-generational Bride. You were my substitute by your life and your death, and now you’re my righteousness and intercessor before the Father. Am I saved? Most definitely and most delightfully!

I don’t have to like highway billboards, but may I never ever tire of responding to the question, Are You Saved?, for there’s no question more humbling to me and honoring of you. So very Amen, I pray, Jesus, in your merciful and mighty-to-save name.

March 20, 2010

What difference does the gospel make? What difference does it make in your life? These are good questions to ask, I think, and good answers to ponder. How does your belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ impact your life? In what way is your life, even your Christian life, distinctly different because of the gospel?

Here is a quote I found somewhere or another, that addresses these questions head-on. It comes from the pen of John Calvin.

Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God. But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

March 14, 2010

This morning I came across a prayer by Pastor Scotty Smith, one he wrote just recently that focuses on his life in light of the words of Psalm 27. “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). Here is what he prays on that basis:

Dear Lord Jesus, if you would say “Yes!” to just one of my prayers… if you would fulfill a single desire and intense longing of my heart, how could I possibly choose wiser than King David? Though I were to assemble a catalogue of commendable requests and redemptive petitions, there is nothing more to be desired than to gaze upon your unmitigated, unfiltered, unabridged beauty.

For on that Day all will be made right. Indeed, Lord Jesus, when you are finally and fully in sight, everything will be made right. Every prayer I’ve ever offered in concert with the heartbeat of heaven will be answered. Every quest and question will either be dissolved or resolved. All wrestling with providence and interceding over circumstance will be done with.

I will shout on that Day what I sometimes only half-heartedly whisper in this day, “My God has done all things well!” There will be no more praying in part… no more knowing in part… no more hoping in part. We shall see you as you are, Jesus, and we shall be like you. (1 John 3:2)

Until that Day, Jesus, please show us… show me, more and more of your beauty. Reveal as much of your beauty to me as I can entertain. For by the light of your beauty my sin becomes much more reprehensible… the gospel becomes much more commendable… your kingdom becomes much more visible… but above all, you become so much more desirable.

Jesus, no matter what I oftentimes think, feel, pout, demand or say… it is you I want more than anything or anyone else. Keep me restless until my heart more fully rests in you. So very Amen, I pray, in the beauty and bounty of your great name.

 

March 13, 2010

Rooting around through some old files today I found a great quote by Charles Spurgeon just doing what Spurgeon did so well—exposing the heart. Here is what he had to say about weeping for Jesus as we picture him hanging upon the cross, suffering for our sake.

You need not weep because Christ died one-tenth so much as because your sins rendered it necessary that He should die. You need not weep over the crucifixion, but weep over your transgression, for your sins nailed the Redeemer to the accursed tree. To weep over a dying Saviour is to lament the remedy; it were wiser to bewail the disease. To weep over the dying Saviour is to wet the surgeon’s knife with tears; it were better to bewail the spreading polyps which that knife must cut away. To weep over the Lord Jesus as He goes to the cross is to weep over that which is the subject of the highest joy that ever heaven and earth have known; your tears are scarcely needed there; they are unnatural, but a deeper wisdom will make you brush them all away and chant with joy His victory over death and the grave. If we must continue our sad emotions, let us lament that we should have broken the law which He thus painfully vindicated; let us mourn that we should have incurred the penalty which He even to the death was made to endure … O brethren and sisters, this is the reason why we souls weep: because we have broken the divine law and rendered it impossible that we should be saved except Jesus Christ should die.

March 07, 2010

Lately I’ve been sharing a few of the hymns and songs we sing at Grace Fellowship Church that are original or somewhat rare. Here is one written by Joseph Hart in the mid-1700’s. We sing it to a new melody written by our lead worshiper and use one of the verses as a chorus. I am particularly drawn to the third stanza: “Convince us of our sin / Then lead to Jesus’ blood / And to our wondering view reveal / The mercies of our God.” How beautiful is that?

Here is the hymn:

February 21, 2010

Here is one more little nugget I pulled from R.C. Sproul’s The Truth of the Cross as I read through it last week.

Early in the book he spends some time discussing the human condition and as he does so he uses three biblical concepts: debtors, enemies, and criminals. The Bible describes each of us in these terms. What Sproul does here, and this really helped it hit home for me, is show how it is always the Father who has been offended and the Son who intercedes. We have committed crimes against God and are, thus, justly termed criminals. The Father stands as Judge, passing the just sentence of death. But Christ stands between us and the Father, acting as substitute. Our sin puts us in debt to God so that we are debtors to Him. God is the creditor who demands repayment, but Christ stands in as surety. And sin puts us at enmity with God, making us His enemies. He has been violated by our sin, but Christ intercedes as mediator, opening the way between man and God.

Sproul breaks this down into the following simple table:

February 20, 2010

Earlier this week I read, or re-read, actually, R.C. Sproul’s The Truth of the Cross (an ideal book to read before Easter should you wish to prepare your heart to celebrate). In a chapter looking at the Scriptural motifs of blessing and curse, he looks at the fulfillment of the rite of circumcision.

*****

The sign of the old covenant was circumcision. The cutting of the foreskin had two significances, one positive and one negative, corresponding to the two sanctions. On the positive side, the cutting of the foreskin symbolized that God was cutting out a group of people from the rest, separating them, setting them apart to be a holy nation. The negative aspect was that the Jew who underwent circumcision was saying, “Oh, God, if I fail to keep every one of the terms of this covenant, may I be cut off from You, cut off from Your presence, cut off from the light of Your countenance, cut off from Your blessedness, just as I have now ritually cut off the foreskin of my flesh.”

February 13, 2010

This week I read Jaron Lanier’s book You Are Not a Gadget. Though often quite obscure, the book does offer a lot of opportunity for reflection on the way technology is impacting our lives. He has written what is probably the cleverest Preface to a book I’ve ever read (and, if I do say so myself, I’ve read a lot of prefaces. Or is that prefi?). He offers a unique perspective on the harsh reality of just how his book will be consumed. I thought you’d enjoy it.

*****

It’s early in the twenty-first century, and that means that these words will mostly be read by nonpersons—automatons or numb mobs composed of people who are no longer acting as individuals. The words will be minced into atomized search-engine keywords within industrial cloud computer facilities located in remote, often secret locations around the world. They will be copied millions of times by algorithms designed to send an advertisement to some person somewhere who happens to resonate with some fragment of what I say. They will be scanned, rehashed, and misrepresented by crowds of quick and sloppy readers into wikis and automatically aggregated wireless text message streams.

Reactions will repeatedly degenerate into mindless chains of anonymous insults and inarticulate controversies. Algorithms will find correlations between those who read my words and their purchases, their romantic adventures, their debts, and soon, their genes. Ultimately these words will contribute to the fortunes of those few who have been able to position themselves as lords of the computing clouds.

The vast fanning out of the fates of these words will take place almost entirely in the lifeless world of pure information. Real human eyes will read these words in only a tiny minority of the cases.

February 07, 2010

Every now and again I like to post a song we’ve sung at church that may not be widely-known. Here is one we sing quite frequently. Titled “Wide Open Are Your Hands,” it was written by Bernard of Clairvaux back in the 10th century and translated from Latin in the 1800’s. The chorus was added by my friend Julian and the music (for which, unfortunately, I do not have a recording) was composed by the guys who lead us in worship.

*****

Wide open are your hands, paying with more than gold
The awful debt of guilty men, forever and of old.
Ah, let me grasp these hands, that we may never part,
And let the power of their blood sustain my fainting heart.

To you I lift my hands in heartfelt song and praise
For steadfast love which won my heart, for never-ceasing grace.

Wide open are your arms, you welcome all who come;
To take to love and endless rest each of your chosen ones.
Lord, I am sad and poor, but boundless is your grace;
Give me the soul-transforming joy for which I seek your face.

To you I lift my hands in heartfelt song and praise
For steadfast love which won my heart, for never-ceasing grace.

Draw all my mind and heart up to your throne on high,
And let your sacred cross exalt, my spirit to the sky.
To these, your mighty hands, my spirit I resign;
For me to love is Christ alone, to die is only gain.

To you I lift my hands in heartfelt song and praise
For steadfast love which won my heart, for never-ceasing grace.

January 31, 2010

Today at church we sang a new song, “Behold the Lamb (Communion Hymn).” It is another joint effort between Stuart Townend and Keith & Kristyn Getty. Written specifically for reflection before partaking in the Lord’s Supper, it focuses beautifully on the purpose and importance of Communion.

Here it is:

Behold the Lamb who bears our sins away,
Slain for us: and we remember
The promise made that all who come in faith
Find forgiveness at the cross.
So we share in this Bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice,
As a sign of our bonds of peace
Around the table of the King.

The body of our Saviour, Jesus Christ,
Torn for you: eat and remember
The wounds that heal, the death that brings us life,
Paid the price to make us one.
So we share in this Bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice,
As a sign of our bonds of love
Around the table of the King.

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