A Glimpse of a Disciplined Life

One thing that always fascinates me when I read biographies is learning of other people’s habits. That’s especially true when the subject is extremely disciplined. Tim Chester’s Stott on the Christian Life is not quite a biography of John Stott, but it’s not far off. He gives an interesting glimpse of Stott’s normal, well-disciplined routines. Here is what his life looked like: Commitment to discipline and to the disciplines was a feature of Stott’s own personal piety. “Fundamental to all …

Like Rain in the Fields

Returning to public worship after 14 weeks apart has forced me to reflect anew on the joys of the local church. Perhaps for that reason I especially enjoyed this quote from Gunner Gundersen’s booklet What If I Don’t Feel Like Going to Church? in which he says “the gathering of the saints is like fresh rain sent by God to strengthen his people.” I’ll let him explain. At all times and in all places, the gathering of the saints is …

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Make Your Life a Song!

On a number of occasions I’ve come across the story of Mendelssohn and the Freiburg organ. The story may be apocryphal, but it still serves its purpose as a vivid illustration. I love this telling of the tale by J.R. Miller and the important lesson that accompanies it. A perfectly holy life would be a perfect song. At the best while on earth, our lives are imperfect in their harmonies—but if we are Christ’s disciples, we are learning to sing …

The Prayer of a Convicted Sinner

A recent book titled Piercing Heaven shares favorite prayers from the Puritans. Many of them are amazing. As an example, here is Philip Doddridge with the prayer of a convicted sinner. Injured King and almighty Judge, what can I say to the charges against me? Should I pretend to be offended, and defend myself? I do not dare. You know my foolishness. None of my sins is hidden from you. My conscience tells me that denying my crimes would only increase …

Sympathy Is of the Very Essence of Christ’s Religion

It has been 12 weeks since I last worshipped with my church and in that time many of them have experienced trials and have suffered loss. Many have wept over fears and concerns that have threatened to steal their joy. In this time of being apart I have been pondering Romans 12:15 which commands “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep,” and wondering how that can be done when we cannot be together. While Charles Simeon offers little …

Better Faithful Than Free

Human beings have the ability to speak because we have been made in the image of the speaking God. The great majority of us live in societies in which we enjoy the immense privilege of free speech, but this privilege is not universal. Neither does God guarantee we will all enjoy the right. This quote from Luke Davis’s True Hope: A Concise Journey Through Christian Ethics shows that, for all the good that comes with free speech, there is a …

What Is the Attractional Church?

No one has more consistently described, considered, and countered the attractional model of church than Jared Wilson. In his book The Gospel-Driven Church, one I’d recommend to every pastor, he answers this question: What is the attractional church, anyway? I (and many others) use the term attractional to refer to a way of doing church ministry who’s primary purpose is to make Christianity appealing. The reasoning behind the attractional church approach goes something like this: One reason seekers aren’t attracted …

Stuck in the Mire of Our Love for this World

Earlier this week a friend asked where he should start in reading Calvin’s Institutes. I suggested, as I often do, beginning with Calvin’s A Little Book on the Christian Life which is an excerpt of the larger work, and one focused largely on Christian living. Here’s a wonderful and timely extract from the new edition translated by Aaron Denlinger and Burk Parsons. In whatever trouble comes to us, we should always set our eyes on God’s purpose to train us …

Four Distinguishing Characteristics of Christian Assurance

Assurance of salvation is one of the most precious Christian doctrines, but in some ways also one of the most difficult. Why? As Sinclair Ferguson so aptly explains, because some outstanding Christians experience it only through the greatest struggles while others never fail to experience it. In this brief excerpt from his book Maturity, Ferguson explains four distinguishing characteristics of truly Christian assurance. Some come to experience assurance only after a long struggle. That has been true of many outstanding …

What a Morning That Will Be!

This morning dawned bright and clear and beautiful. But no matter how wonderful the day, we know that the greatest glories of this world pale in comparison to the least glories in the next. In that vein, please read and enjoy this wonderful prayer by Robert Hawker (as found in Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans). You who are King of nations and King of saints, are also my God and King. For you have a universal empire, being one …