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 www.persecution.com) 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.