Friday, December 19, 2008

Big Changes

I am here to announce that I received a letter in the mail on Monday. It was an acceptance letter into the one and only college I have applied to since I left my local community college last year. It is the college that I looked at first when I even began considering college several years ago. Through all of the schools I have looked into, this one has always stood out. It is Grove City College in Grove City, PA. Yes, it is far away from home (over 7 hrs.) but it is indeed a wonderful school and I trust my experience there will be a much needed and very sanctifying challenge.

My classes start Jan. 19th... Just over 4 weeks away. This means plenty of preparation in not-so-much time. I will be able to start scheduling classes next week, which is very exciting. My last day of working at Chick-fil-A (at least until summer) will be Jan. 3rd. Soon I will be packing my boxes and bags to embark on the journey to the beautiful campus that will be my home for much of the next 4 years, Lord willing. I still cannot believe this wonderful blessing. God has been so gracious, and I am so thankful that He answered the prayers of many (which I am also very thankful for) that I would be accepted. I am thrilled to see what the Lord has in store as I go to study His Word in depth, make new friendships, experience a new way of life, and by His grace honor and glorify the name of the Savior!

Yes, I have my share of fears and doubts. But they soon lessen immensely when I think of the King and His goodness. Why should I fear change when the God who holds my life is Himself unchangeable? What a comfort to know that He is always faithful and full of steadfast love no matter what our situations in life. Blessed be His name! May He alone be glorified in me as I embark on this new (HUGE) change.

P.S. Did I mention that on the Friday of my first week at the college, one of my favorite singer/songwriter will be performing there with Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek? Guess who??
(photo by jrossol. picture of crawford hall, administrative offices at GCC).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What is Required?

"Q. 160 - What is required of those that hear the word preached?

A. It is required of those that hear the word preached, that they...

1. ...attend upon it with diligence, preparation, and prayer. Do you spend time in prayer prior to church, asking the Lord to help you be fight distraction and be attentive? Do you set the distractions, cares, and anxieties of the world aside for these moments of teaching? Are you disciplined in getting the rest and nutrition your body needs so that your mind is able to focus? Do you listen eagerly and humbly to the Words of God being taught?

2. ...examine what they hear by the Scriptures. Do you keep constantly in your mind that the words before you are our God's words to us, as if it were a letter from Him? Do you consider the message of the preacher and recall to mind or search for related verses to help you gain even better understanding and Biblical discernment? Do you continue investigating after church?

3. ...receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the word of God. Do you treat God's words to us as precious eternal and absolute truths, or do you treat it as if it is any other book? Do you spend your time in God's word trying to fit/allow for your current situation, or do you humbly feed upon God's word, willing for your sin to be exposed and dealt with accordingly? Do you seek to find Christ in every page, or do you carelessly skip through the "boring parts"?

4. ...meditate, and confer of it. Do you spend time frequently thinking back to God's word and its given application, and seek to apply it in every area of your life? Do you spend time discussing what you have learned with others? Do you seek further help if you are uncertain in some areas?

5. ...hide it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives." Do you daily strive to live and walk in obedience to Scripture? Do you continually seek its guidance for your every step? Do you make God's law your delight?

...question/answer taken from the Larger Catechism of the Westminster Assembly. italicized comments mine.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Who Is This?

Who is this, so weak and helpless,
Child of lowly Hebrew maid,
Rudely in a stable sheltered,
Coldly in a manger laid?
’Tis the Lord of all creation,
Who this wondrous path has trod;
He is God from everlasting,
And to everlasting God.

Who is this, a Man of Sorrows,
Walking sadly life’s hard way,
Homeless, weary, sighing, weeping
Over sin and Satan’s sway?
’Tis our God, our glorious Savior,
Who above the starry sky
Is for us a place preparing,
Where no tear can dim the eye.

Who is this? Behold him shedding
Drops of blood upon the ground!
Who is this, despised, rejected,
Mocked, insulted, beaten, bound?
’Tis our God, Who gifts and graces
On His church is pouring down;
Who shall smite in holy vengeance
All His foes beneath His throne.

Who is this that hangs there dying
While the rude world scoffs and scorns,
Numbered with the malefactors,
Torn with nails, and crowned with thorns?
’Tis our God Who lives forever
’Mid the shining ones on high,
In the glorious golden city,
Reigning everlastingly.

-William How

Such a fitting reminder of the One we must fix our eyes on this Christmas and every day...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Mercy Seat

The following description is found in James Montgomery Boice's excellent book Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace?. The ladies of our church are reading through and discussing it together. This portion is found in the chapter called "Christ Alone" which we discussed on Wednesday night. It was such a wonderful time of sweet fellowship and worship of our great Savior. It is my hope that you too will be left standing in awe before the precious blood of Christ that covers us at the mercy seat.

"This brings us to one of the most beautiful pictures of the work of Christ in all of the Bible: the ark of the covenant, which was kept within the Most Holy Place of the Jewish wilderness tabernacle and was the focal point of Israel's worship.

The ark was a wooden box about a yard long, covered with gold, and made to contain the stone tables of the law that Moses had received on Mount Sinai. (The first set of tables had been broken, but a new set had been written.) This box had a cover called the mercy seat, and upon the mercy seat, at each end, facing each other, were statues of cherubim (angels) whose wings stretched upward and then outward, almost meeting directly over the ark. In a symbolic way, God was imagined to dwell above the ark, between or over the outstretched wings of the cherubim.

As it stands, the ark is a picture of judgment, intended to produce dread in the worshiper through a disclosure of his or her sin. For what does God see as He looks down upon earth from between the outstretched wings of the cherubim? Clearly, he sees the law of Moses which each of us has broken. He sees that he must act toward us in judgement. God cannot ignore sin; sin must be punished.

But this is where the mercy seat comes in,
and this is why it is called the mercy seat. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the Jewish hight priest entered the Most Holy Place to make propitiation for the people's sins. Propitiation is the very word which (in Greek) was used to translate "mercy seat". Moments before, the high priest had offered (in the outer courtyard of the tabernacle) a sacrifice for his own sin and the sins of his family. Now he took the blood of a second animal, entered the Most Holy Place, and carefully sprinkled the blood of that sacrifice upon the mercy seat, which was the ark's covering. What is symbolized now? Now, as God looks down from between the outstretched wings of the cherubim, he sees not the law of Moses which we have broken but the blood of the innocent victim. He sees that the punishment has been meted out. Propitiation has been made, and his love goes out to save all who come to him through faith in that sacrifice.

Jesus told a parable about two men who went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee; the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up to pray - as everyone would have agreed he should do: "Come here, Mr. Pharisee. Stand up where we can all hear you. Be quiet, everyone. The Pharisee is going to pray."

And pray he did. He prayed a magnificent prayer - about himself: "God, I thank you that I am not like the other men - robbers, evildoers, adulterers - or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get." (Luke 18:11-12). The Pharisee was not lying. He really did give a tenth of his income to the temple. He really did fast twice a week. He was not a thief or an adulterer. Moreover, I am sure others would have concurred in this evaluation. Here was an outstanding man, a credit to his community. The point of Jesus' parable depends on recognizing that if anyone could hope to be accepted by God on the basis of his character or good works, it was the Pharisee.

Then there was the tax collector. He "stood at a distance" - where he belonged. Jesus said of him "He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner'" (v. 13). And why not? He was a sinner. He had plenty to beat his breast about.

It is had to imagine a greater contrast than the one between these two men: moral versus immoral; noble versus base; proud versus shameful; self-confident versus cringing. Yet when the Lord ended his story, he reversed the judgement every one of his hearers had been making and declared: "I tell you that this man [the tax collector], rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (v. 14). No cinematic melodrama or dime-store novel ever had a more surprising ending than this parable.

Why did the tax-collector, rather than the Pharisee, go home justified? It is true that the Pharisee was a sinner. He was a sinner in spite of his self-righteousness. But so was the tax collector. The only differences between the two men were that the tax collector knew he was a sinner, while the Pharisee did not know it; and the tax collector approached God, not on the basis of his good works (which he did not have), but on the basis of God's provision, symbolized by the mercy seat and the propitiation that took place there. The tax collector's prayer literally reads, 'God, be "mercy-seated" to me, the sinner.'

The prayer is worth exploring. The first word of the prayer is 'God'; the last word is 'sinner'. This reflects what happens when a human being becomes aware of the true God. When a person becomes conscious of God, he does not proceed unchanged in his supposed 'righteousness', as the Pharisee did. Rather he becomes conscious of sin, and the more so the closer to God he comes. We know that the tax collector knew God because he knew he was - and did not hesitate to describe himself as - a sinner.

Then, between the beginning of the prayer ('God') and the end of it ('me, a sinner') are the words 'be mercy-seated to me.' This shows that the tax collector also understood propitiation. He knew that between the presence of the Holy God (who looked down in judgment upon the law which he had broken) and himself there had to come the blood of the sacrificial victim. He was coming to God on the basis of the mercy already provided by God through the sacrifice. The tax-collector was saying 'Treat me on the basis of the blood sprinkled upon the mercy seat.' No one can be saved without propitiation."

Friday, November 14, 2008

O Little Town of Bethelehem

I know, I know... Christmas music already?! It's not even Thanksgiving yet! BUT I saw this video on a blog today and I really liked it! It is a new version of the classic Christmas hymn "O Little Town of Bethlehem" by Alli Rogers. I was a bit skeptical as I began watching, since many old and wonderful hymns have been written into horrible new tunes. :) But not all new tunes are bad... there are some excellent ones that I believe truly capture the meaning of the words even better than the original tunes. I think this one is very lovely. And Alli Rogers' voice and guitar-playing only add to the beauty. :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Post-Election True and False Quiz

I first saw this on the Founders Ministries Blog ( and thought it was a very fitting reminder of where our hope must lie both now and forever... Not in any man or any power of man, but in Christ alone and in the power of His gospel!

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, Jesus will still be King.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, our responsibilities as Christians will not have changed one iota.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the greatest agent for social change in America will still be winning the hearts and minds of men and women through the gospel, not legislation.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my primary citizenship will still be in this order - (1) the Kingdom of God, (2) America, not vice-versa.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the tomb will still be empty.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the cross, not the government, will still be our salvation.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, our children will still be more concerned with whether or not we spend time with them than with who is President.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my neighbor will still be my neighbor, and loving him/her will still be the second greatest commandment. (Do you know the first?)

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the only way to see abortion ultimately overturned will still be winning men and women to a high view of life through the gospel of Christ.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the only way to see gay marriage ultimately defeated will still be winning men and women to a biblical view of marriage through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my retirement will still not match my treasure in Heaven.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, "Jesus Is Lord" will still be the greatest truth in the Universe.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, we will still know that God is in control.

Thanks be to our great God! Although the days ahead seem grim and uncertain, we need not despair. Our God will never change, and He rules faithfully over all. Lift up your eyes and behold the wondrous Savior! His glorious Word is our only certainty and the foundation of our hope in the midst of these storms and shifting sands.

"Neither need we fear crosses, or sigh, or be sad for anything that is on this side of heaven, if we have Christ."
"The floods may swell and roar, but our ark shall swim above the waters; it cannot sink, because a Savior is in it."
-Samuel Rutherford "The Loveliness of Christ

P. S. Please remember to pray for our nation, our president-elect, and the unborn children who are being slaughtered every day. It is every indication that nothing will be done to stop abortion or reduce it in any way while we have a President Obama. He has promised Planned Parenthood to lift all restrictions that are currently placed on abortions, as well as enact the Freedom of Choice Act. We must continue to speak for those who have no voice and fight against this horrendous "silent holocaust" that is taking place. May God hear our cries for justice and mercy upon these children!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Recommed These Blogs...

1 - ( The Rebelution by Alex and Brett Harris. If you have not yet checked out this amazing movement by 2 very godly young men committed to God's word, then you are surely missing out! They direct the main thrust of their message towards teens, but it is surely not just for teens! The material you will find on this site, whether written by the Harris twins or others, is excellent, gospel-centered, and will prove beneficial to people of any age. As a matter of fact, today marks Alex and Brett's 20th birthday. The most recent post, "Turning Twenty", was a great reminder that the Do Hard Things message does not end once you stop being a teenager. But rather, the struggle has only just begun. Brett's article contained some very encouraging words for those of us about to enter or just begin the twenty years.

2 - ( - Of First Importance: Living Each Day in the Good of the Gospel. I recently stumbled across this neat blog run by three Christian men from BC. Each day is posted a cross-centered quote to help its readers "remember what's of first importance - the gospel of Jesus Christ". As their "About Us" page states, "We’ve all spent far too much time looking inward instead of upward (Col 3:1), only to futility and despair. This blog was born out of our own need to live each day in the good of the gospel." It does our souls good to be reminded every day of the blood of the Savior that was poured out for our salvation and redemption! Today's quote by Charles Spurgeon is particularly good.

3 - ( - The Blazing Center: Connecting God's Truth With Real Life by Mark and Steven Altrogge. A truly wonderful blog by a father-son duo with a love for the gospel and the glory of God. Each post is good to feed and meditate upon, and no matter what the topic, it seems as if every post is consistently brought back to "the blazing center" (the Cross of Christ). The latest post - "5 Surefire Ways to Ruin Your Devotions" may be a bit humorous but it sure is convicting.

What blogs do you enjoy reading?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pray for Election Day

As I'm sure all of you know, Election Day is only two weeks away as of today. As Americans, we face a huge decision. As Christians, we face an even greater challenge of being biblically discerning as we cast our votes. And for many voters, including first-time voters like me, the uncertainties of what lies ahead for our nation can often seem overwhelming and even terrifying. I hope you will join with me in prayer for this day and for our nation in the days ahead.

God of the Nations, We praise you for your eternal sovereignty and goodness. We thank you that not only do you hold the world in your hands, but you hold our hearts in your hands. We think of your words to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 5:21 "the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will" and we rejoice! Father, in this time and always, may our eyes be continually upon You. As we look around us and see what looks to be a nation that has forgotten You and is only going further into destruction, help us to look to You, O God, the sovereign King, and remember that You work ALL things together for good to those who love You. (Romans 8:28).

We lift up to you all of Your people in this nation. We pray that you would help us to earnestly seek the wisdom and discernment that is from You and Your Word as we prepare to enter the voting booth. Thank You for the privilege and freedom we have as a nation to choose our own leaders. Let us not take this privilege lightly, but carefully and soberly consider the issues at hand. We pray that all who vote would not go into the polling places blindly, O God, but that all would realize the crucial importance that each individual vote plays in the outcome of this election and the future of our nation. But remind us again that ultimately the decision is Yours. Give us strength to be faithful with what You have entrusted to us.

We also pray for those who are running for the office of president, and other various leadership positions in this nation. We pray for much wisdom and humility to be imparted to them. Lord, save those who are lost and are seeking this position merely for selfish gain. Turn their hearts around to serve the only one true Living God and to forsake their idols of fame and wealth. May they seek Your glory and the good of this nation before their own interests.

O Savior, our souls take great comfort in knowing that our hope does not lie in feeble man. But our hope is in You and in Your cross. Whatever Your glorious will may be for our nation in these coming days, give the hearts of us Your children great delight in our Savior, our only true and everlasting hope both for now and for eternity to come! All glory be to your holy and glorious name! Amen.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Paul's Prayer for the Ephesians

Covenant Life Church of Gaithersburg, Maryland is currently doing a sermon series on the book of Ephesians. I have been listening to them on Sundays via podcast, and I must say they have been very helpful and a great blessing. I have even been working on memorizing Ephesians 1. This past sunday, I listened to Jeff Purswell's excellent message on Eph. 1:15-23. I just wanted to share some of my notes on Paul's prayer. In his prayer, he asks God to deepen the Ephesians' knowledge of Him, and that the Spirit of wisdom and revelation would continue to work in their hearts. Here are 3 ways Mr. Purswell points out that God reveals Himself to His children:

(These are my notes from the sermon, hence they are not quotes, but not my words either.)
1. The hope of His calling (v. 18) - If you are a believer, you are called! You have a glorious hope! (1 Cor. 2:9 "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him"). Lord, show us what awaits! Life forever in Your presence! On that day we will see how every single second in our lives worked to our good! "When our hope lies ahead, our lives will follow." The Spirit produces this hope in our hearts. Let us pray for more of this hope!

2. The riches of His inheritance - (Deut. 4:20 "But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of His own inheritance, as you are this day.") WE are GOD'S treasured possession! And it is all because of God's choosing, calling, and redemption. Not by any merits of our own. But rather in spite of our demerits! God has loved us! He has chosen sinners as His treasure! I am His and He is mine! This is the noblest and highest calling.

3. The greatness of His power (v. 19) - What is this greatness of God like? Look at v. 20. The power at work in us is the very same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead! We are new creatures in Christ! There is no power so great but Christ is above it ALL! Therefore we have nothing to fear. God's power is greater than all our uncertainties.

Let Paul's prayer and desire be that of our own hearts! Oh that we might know our Lord as we ought!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

By Your Side

Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away.

Why are you looking for love?
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough?
To where will you go, child?
Tell me, where will you run?
To where will you run?

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you.
My hands are holding you.

Look at these hands and my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world's sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life.
I want to give you life.

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight these hands that are holding you.
My hands are holding you.

Cause I, I love you.
I want you to know.
That I, I love you.
I'll never let you go.

- "By Your Side" by Tenth Avenue North -

I fell in love with this song before the first stanza ended. A truly beautiful picture of the Father's deep love and care for His wandering and wayward children. I love how the third verse so clearly points to the greatest display of God's love - the cross. Come, let us worship and bow down before Him!

His love will never let me go.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gianna Jessen: Abortion Survivor by God's Grace Alone

I was so thrilled to watch this video of a young lady interviewed on Hannity and Colmes. She survived an abortion. Now she joyously lives to tell about it and do all she can to put an end to this horrendous attack on human life. Not only that, but she loves our Lord and is not ashamed about it. May many be blessed by her example and testimony!

Human beings are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of their Creator! Let us do all we can to defend the unborn for the glory of God!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Cup Runs Over

When was the last time you were truly thankful? As weak and selfish human beings, we are so prone to forget to give thanks unto the Giver of all good gifts. We are so quick to grumble and complain when things do not go the way we want them to. Rather than being thankful to God for providing abundant rain to water the thirsty ground, we grumble because we are getting wet or because we wanted to get some things done outside. Rather than praising the Lord for granting us senses and the ability to work and interact with people, we complain when we are asked to stay an hour later to help out. No matter what the situation, somehow we can always find something to complain about. This attitude springs from pride and arrogance.

A recently-read quote by C. J. Mahaney helps put things in their proper perspective:

"Let each of us recognize every day that whatever grace we receive from God is so much more than we're worthy of, and indescribably better than the hell we all deserve."

Even on those days when it seems like things could not go any worse, we must remember that we are already receiving so much more than we deserve. What we deserve as sinful, proud, ungrateful beings is nothing less than God's wrath. We deserve hell.

We must remind ourselves daily that the very fact that we are breathing should be ample cause for humble rejoicing and adoration at the great mercy of our Savior! Not only does our God richly supply us with temporal blessings, but he also grants us the greatest gift of all - the answer to our greatest need - grace and peace through Jesus Christ and His saving work on the cross! What a marvelous gift!

I close with a portion of the Puritan prayer "Evening Praise" taken from The Valley of Vision.

I thank Thee for the temporal blessings of this world -
the refreshing air,
the light of the sun,
the food that renews strength,
the raiment that clothes,
the dwelling that shelters,
the sleep that gives rest,
the starry canopy of night,
the summer breeze,
the flowers' sweetness,
the music of flowing streams,
the happy endearments of family, kindred, friends,
Things animate, things inanimate, minister to my comfort.
My cup runs over.
Suffer me not to be insensible to these daily mercies.

Thy hand bestows blessings: Thy power averts evil.
I bring my tribute of thanks for spiritual graces,
the full warmth of faith,
the cheering presence of Thy Spirit,
the strength of Thy restraining will,
the spiking of hell's artillery.

Blessed be my Sovereign Lord!"

Give us humble and thankful hearts, we pray, O God!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cool Websites

Here are two very cool websites I have recently come across through other blogs:

1. - All you have to do is submit words (I used lyrics to a song) and it will make a really neat picture out of those words. You can change the fonts, colors, etc. The larger words are those that are appear more frequently in your submission. To view mine, click here: title="Wordle: beautiful the blood"> src=""
style="padding:4px;border:1px solid #ddd">
My Wordle is the lyrics to "Beautiful the Blood" by Fee. A wonderful song about the cross I discovered at...

2. - A site that allows you to listen to music. But not just any music. You enter in an artist or even a specific song that you like (or simply feel like listening to at the moment), and a playlist of songs from that artist and similar artists will be created for you to enjoy. I heard the Fee song on the Sovereign Grace Music station.

Check them out!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pray for our Muslim Neighbors

Yesterday marked the beginning of Ramadan, a month-long Muslim fasting observance that takes place every year. Many Christians are taking the commitment to praying each day of this month for the Muslim world. (For more info. see, also where I got the photo of Mecca above.) Whether or not you take this commitment to 30 days of prayer, I strongly encourage you to cry out to our God with His people on behalf of our Muslim neighbors.


- That the kingdom of our God would advance and the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ permeate the hearts of many who will be participating in this observance. Pray that many would turn from worshiping false gods to faith in the one and only true God.
- For Christians who were once Muslims, and for those who will come to believe in Jesus Christ. Pray that they would gladly take hold of Christ and risk death than continue following false religion and practice.
- For Christians living in largely Muslim areas, that they would have boldness and zeal for the glory of God, and lovingly proclaim the gospel to those observing Ramadan. Pray for opportunities. Pray that through the work of the Holy Spirit, God's Word will take effect and show those who are lost that their only hope for salvation rests only in Christ, not in their confession of sin to Allah or attempts to purify themselves through their own good deeds (both of which constitute large parts of the Ramadan fasting observance) .

And above all else, May God be glorified!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Every Thought Captive

The following quote is taken from James Montgomery Boice's book Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace?

"Mindlessness [is] the inability or unwillingness to look at life in a thoughtful way. Since we are called to 'mind renewal'... our present cultural mindlessness must be part of the 'pattern of this world' that we are to recognize, engage, and overcome... We will not think at all if we do not believe thinking is worthwhile."

We live in a culture that often scorns thinking. Even Christians daily face the temptation to be mindless. Mr. Boice points out later on in his book that he believes the main source of mindlessness in our culture is television. I couldn't agree more. Television eliminates the need to think and process information. It simply feeds our brains with whatever images are portrayed on the screen. If not used properly, television is a big-time mind waster.

Jeff Purswell, in his excellent message called "Don't Waste Your Mind" asks the heart-piercing question:

How can we waste something that's not ours?

If we are Christians, our entire beings belong to Christ. That includes our minds. As a matter of fact, mankind was created to be a thinking creature. Yet as sinful, fallen human beings we tend to discourage thinking. After all, thinking is hard, and requires alot of effort! As Mr. Purswell put it "We think when we have to." He continues with asking the question "What is happening" when our attitude towards thinking is like this? The answer? Our thoughts are not captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), they are captive to US. Yet we are called to love the Lord our God with all our mind!

How can we make our thoughts more captive to our Lord? Mr. Purswell offers two very helpful and practical ways:

1. Immerse your mind in God's Word. "We must constantly be tending to His Word and reviewing His saving actions!" "Loving God with all our minds means thinking. Thinking God's thoughts after Him... The goal is not to be a better thinker. But to be a better lover of God and of His people."

2. Pursue lifelong learning for God's glory. "A Christian's mind ought to be the best mind." We please and glorify God when we exercise our minds the way he has created us to.

What are some other practical ways for us to pursue taking "every thought captive"?

Friday, August 22, 2008


You were not ashamed to be
Emptied and poured out to death
Unashamed to give Your dying breath
You were not ashamed to bear
All of my reproach and sin
Jesus, You were such a faithful friend
So I will glory in the cross
And in the blood You shed for us
Glory in the gospel of Your grace

Let me be unashamed
Jesus, to speak Your name
For You were the one who came
The Savior of the world
Let me be unashamed
Jesus, to speak Your name
Let me be bold to claim
You as my Lord

You were not ashamed to give
Your body to a Roman lash
Unashamed to bear God's holy wrath
You were not ashamed to hang
Naked bleeding on a tree
Gladly You did all of this for me
So I will glory in the cross
And in the blood You shed for us
Glory in the gospel of Your grace!

Let me be unashamed
Jesus, to speak Your name
For You were the one who came
The Savior of the world
Let me be unashamed
Jesus, to speak Your name
Let me be bold to claim
You as my Lord!

-Mark Altrogge (from the Sovereign Grace album "All We Long to See)

Our Savior is not ashamed to call us his brothers! (Hebrews 2:11)

Are we ashamed to call Him our Lord?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


As mentioned earlier, I have recently read C. J. Mahaney's excellent book Humility: True Greatness. This book was a great help and encouragement to me. I don't know about you, but for me, battling against the sin of pride is one of the hardest things I struggle with. Have I seen a decrease in the amount of pride in my life after reading this book? No. To the contrary, I am more aware of areas in my life where I harbor pride than ever before. The author himself mentions that it is necessary to be aware of our greatest enemy, pride, so that we might be faithful and active in waging war against it by pursuing humility.

The book provides many practical and helpful ways to help us do this on a daily and lifelong basis. It also mentions that the best (and only sure) way to truly cultivate humility in our lives is to "Reflect on the wonder of the cross of Christ."

C. J. Mahaney writes:

"To be truly serious and deliberate in mortifying pride and cultivating greatness, you must each day survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died.

'Fill your affections with the cross of Christ,' write John Owen, 'that there may be no room for sin.' And that includes no room for pride.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote the following about the surest way to pursue humility:

'There is only one thing I know of that crushes me to the ground and humiliates me to the dust, and that is to look at the Son of God, and especially contemplate the cross.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

Nothing else can do it. When I see that I am a sinner... that nothing but the Son of God on the cross can save me, I'm humbled to the dust....Nothing but the cross can give us this spirit of humility.'

John Stott helps us understand why the cross has this powerful effect:

'Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying to us "I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying." Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.'"

Where can we go when guilty of pride and selfish living? Where can we run to find peace and forgiveness for "this sin of pride that God hates"? The cure is the cross! The only place where we can rightly view our nothingness in light of the glory and love of our merciful Savior! Flee to the cross of the only humble one!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Laden With Guilt and Full of Fears

Laden with guilt and full of fears,
I fly to Thee, my Lord,
And not a glimpse of hope appears,
But in Thy written Word
The volumes of my Father's grace
Does all my griefs assuage
Here I behold my Savior's face
In every page.

This is the field where, hidden, lies
The pearl of price unkown
That merchant is divinely wise
Who makes the pearl His own
Here consecrated water flows
To quench my thirst of sin
Here the fair tree of knowledge grows,
No danger dwells within.

This is the judge that ends the strife,
Where wit and reason fail
My guide to everlasting life
Through all this gloomy vale
Oh may Thy counsels, mighty God,
My roving feet command,
Nor I forsake the happy road
That leads to Thy right hand.

-Isaac Watts

Have you fed upon God's precious Word today?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Doing Hard Things... a Joy or a Burden?

A few weeks ago, my sister Emily and I attended the Rebelution Do Hard Things Conference in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It was an incredible experience that I am sure we will not soon forget. At the conference, we both purchased really cool t-shirts. Mine is dark blue, with "Do Hard Things" written on the back. (Exactly like the picture shown). As I wore my shirt around the house a few days later, so excited and ready to do hard things, one of my other sisters, who is 9 years old, made a comment. She said something like this: "Do hard things? Who would want to do that? That shirt should say 'do easy things'!"

While the statement is funny and made me laugh, it also saddened me to see how she misunderstood it. And I also think that there are many, many others who would say the same thing. I mean, really? Why would you want to do something hard when there are so many easier and "fun" things you could do instead? I started saying something like: "No! Doing hard things is good! If you always do what's easy you will waste your life!" I wanted so bad for her to see and understand the foolishness of an easy life and how good it was to do hard things!

But lately, I have been thinking. So often we as Christians think along those same lines. We know that following Christ in this world will be hard. But far too often we give in to that temptation to do what the world and our own sinful nature tells us, which is to do the easy thing. We grow tired of fighting sin so quickly. We even try to rationalize sin by making excuses that are even more sinful.

Every moment of every day we as Christians ought to be resisting sin and striving after righteousness, holiness, and humility for the glory of God in our lives. John Piper wrote in his book What Jesus Demands from the World says that the "Greek word behind the English "strive" is recognizable in English transliteration agonizesthe. You can see the word "agonize" in that Greek word. The implication is that we must struggle, wrestle and exert ourselves." In other words, striving after righteousness and living for Christ is extremely hard.

While we are still on this earth, and still in this weak and fallen flesh, though we are redeemed by Christ's blood, we still must wage war against the powers of evil within and without us (Romans 7). We so often tend to think that the more we grow in godliness and holiness, the easier it will be to overcome sin. How we fail to realize the truth is the exact opposite. It only gets harder. John Owen writes in his book Sin and Temptation, "There is no duty we perform for God that sin does not oppose. And the more spirituality or holiness there is in what we do, the greater is its enmity to it. Thus, those who seek the most for God experience the strongest opposition."

The Lord Himself has called His children to take up their crosses and follow Him. Our merciful Savior Himself endured the greatest hardship and suffering that any human has ever known at the cross of Calvary. Who are we as His followers to think that we deserve an easier life?

Yes this Christian life is hard. And yes this fierce and daily battle will continue as long as we live on this earth. But there is hope and comfort in the Savior, who has promised at the end, to deliver His children from their bodies of death. What a glorious hope we have in Him!

Let us keep pressing on, rejoicing in the great privilege we have as God's children, to be followers of His Son, bearers of His cross, and those who count all earthly gain but loss for the sake of knowing Him! There indeed is nothing harder than living for the Savior in a world and hearts where sin is rampant. But there also nothing that brings greater joy!

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto JESUS, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why Do I Believe in the Doctrine of Election?

A few weeks ago, I had a rather interesting discussion/debate with two co-workers of mine on the doctrine of unconditional election. One of them was strongly opposed to the doctrine, while the other one had never heard of it and was simply interested in learning what it was all about. While I probably did not do a very good job of defending the Scriptural teaching on election in a loving manner, (actually, I think I may have confused my listeners quite a bit), I was thankful for the opportunity, and that the Lord gave me boldness to speak.

Needless to say, I have been thinking about this topic alot lately. I am reading an excellent book by C. J. Mahaney called "Humility: True Greatness" (which, Lord willing, I will post more about later). As I read the chapter on identifying evidences of grace in others, I came across this quote by Spurgeon. It really helped me to see the ultimate reason the doctrine of election stands firm, besides the fact (and I believe Spurgeon's veiwpoint is also based upon this truth) that God is the Sovereign Creator, therefore we should be silent and stand in awe at the mystery of His grace (Romans 9). If we should be asking anything, it ought not to be "Why does God send people to hell if they are just going to go there anyway?" but "Why should God save anyone, when we are all children of His wrath, bent on rebellion against and hatred for Him since the day of our birth?"

"I believe in the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I could never find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love."
-Charles H. Spurgeon

Praise the Savior for His Sovereign, saving grace given FREELY to us through the cross! Worship and adore Him and thank Him that our salvation IS a gift, and not something that we can come to on our own. We love only because He first loved us! He chose us, we did not and COULD not choose Him! For how can dead men grab hold of anything to give it life? He is dead! Indeed, we who were once dead in our sins are now alive in Christ by His sovereign electing grace! Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Valley of Vision: The Broken Heart


No day of my life has passed that has not proved me guilty in Thy sight.

Prayers have been uttered from a prayerless heart;

Praise has been often praiseless sound;

My best services are filthy rags.

Blessed Jesus, let me find a covert in thy appeasing wounds.

Though my sins rise to heaven thy merits soar above them!

Though unrighteousness weighs me down to hell, thy righteousness exalts me to thy throne.

All things in me call for my rejection,

All things in thee plead my acceptance.

I appeal from the throne of perfect justice to thy throne of boundless grace.

Grant me to hear thy voice assuring me:
that by thy stripes I am healed,
that thou wast bruised for my iniquities,
that thou has been made sin for me
that I might be righteous in thee,
that my grievous sins, my manifold sins, are all forgiven
buried in the ocean of thy concealing blood.

I am guilty, but pardoned,
lost, but saved,
wandering, but found,
sinning, but cleansed.

Give me perpetual broken-heartedness,

Keep me always clinging to thy cross,

Flood me every moment with descending grace,

Open to me the springs of divine knowledge,
sparkling like crystal,
flowing clear and unsullied
through my wilderness of life.


The above prayer was taken from a book called The Valley of Vision, which is a collection of Puritan prayers. This book has been a great help to me in my private prayer time. The prayers are not only beautiful, but they draw your gaze directly to the cross of our Savior! I highly recommend that every Christian own this book and use it often.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pray for China

Today marks the start of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.

Please remember to pray for our brothers and sisters in China.

My father ordered some "Pray for China" prayer bands like the ones shown above so that we can remember to pray throughout the day. (If you are interested in getting some, they are available from Voice of the Martyrs at China is a country that is very hostile to the gospel. Every day Christians are persectued for the sake of Christ. Please pray for the glorious gospel of our Lord to continue advancing boldly even in the midst of such terrible opposition.

I read on the Internet that 10,000 Chinese/English ESV Bibles will be distributed during these Olympic games. What a glorious opportunity! Let us pray for the Lord's blessing!


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

God is Greater Than Our Hearts.

As I pondered Sunday's sermon (see last post), I was reminded of a passage of Scripture I had recently read and been greatly encouraged by. It's not talking about exactly the same thing, but it is a wonderful reminder of the infinite greatness and grace of our Lord.

1 John 3: 19-21 (emphasis mine) John is speaking of love for the brethren:

"By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God."

What do these verses mean? I was slightly puzzled as I read it at first. The footnotes in the ESV Reformation Study Bible were a great help.

"v.16-24: Mutual love in the fellowship is evidence of new life. It is based on the love of Jesus Christ, who 'laid down His life' in our place. Measuring ourselves against such an example, our heart 'condemns us' (v. 20) and our confidence can only be restored by someone greater than our hearts - God Himself. God, who 'knows everything', has proved His love for sinners by the gift of His Son. (4:10; Rom. 5:8). Confidence founded on this reality carries with it the assurance that our deeds are also accepted by God (v. 22), and when guilt is dealt with we are relased to pray unhindered (v. 22). Confident prayer is a hallmark of the children of God."

"v. 20 - The Word of God which acquits us must prevail over the word of our hearts that condemns us."

As I read these notes, my heart took great comfort and rejoicing in these verses.

You see, as Christians striving to be like Christ, our hearts can only condemn us because of how greatly we fail to love as He loved. Remaining sin often discourages and weighs us down. (Rom. 7) BUT there is hope. Our hearts need something greater than ourselves. And as believers, we have something Greater! He is the Lord, our Savior, who is infinitely greater than our hearts!

Through the Savior, our deeds are accepted before a holy God. For He lived a perfectly holy and sinless life on our behalf! Therefore He is our only hope, and our only plea before the Father. Rom. 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Let us rejoice in our merciful and faithul High Priest! "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may recieve mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:16)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

His Grace is Sufficient

Today at my church we were blessed and encouraged by our guest speaker, Pastor Craig Harris, who brought us a very convicting yet encouraging message. I was reminded of the absolute sufficiency of the grace of God, especially as he read this quote from Charles Suprgeon.

"MY grace is sufficient for THEE. ‘Why,’ I said to myself, ‘I should think it is!’ and I burst out laughing. It seemed to make unbelief so absurd. It was as though some little fish, being very thirsty, was troubled about drinking the river dry; and Father Thames said: ‘Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for thee!’ Or as if a little mouse in the granaries of Egypt, after seven years of plenty, feared lest it should die of famine, and Joseph said, ‘Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for thee!’ Again, I imagined a man away up yonder on the mountain saying to himself, ‘I fear I shall exhaust all the oxygen in the atmosphere.’ But the earth cries: ‘Breathe away, O man, and fill thy lungs; my atmosphere is sufficient for thee!’”

In other words, we never need to fear that we have or will somehow exhaust the storehouses of God's grace. We can never drain the oceans of His mercy. We can never empty the storehouses of His blessing. We never need to fear our own weaknesses and failures, our situations, or our surroundings.


Because His grace is sufficient.
Let us cling to it.