Friday, 20 June 2008

The Wordle of God... what a find!!!

Well done to Geero for coming across this site....

Here's a wordle for Romans 3:21-26: (original can be seen here)

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Success Is: prayer

Another great chapter from Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by
Kent and Barbara Hughes...

No time to write much on it... but to quote the illustration used in the
chapter helpfully summarises:

Some years ago a young man approached the foreman of a logging crew and
asked for a job. "That depends", replied the foreman. "Let me see you fell
this tree." The young man stepped forward and skilfully felled a great tree.
Impressed, the foreman exclaimed, "Start Monday!"
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday rolled by, and Thursday afternoon the
foreman approached the young man and said, "You can pick up your paycheck on
the way out today."
Startled, he replied, "I thought you paid on Friday." "Normally we do",
answered the foreman, "but we're letting you go today because you have
fallen behind. Our daily felling charts show that you've dropped from first
place on Monday to last place on Wednesday."
"But I'm a hard worker", the young man objected. "I arrive first, leave
last, and even have worked through my coffee breaks!"
The foreman, sensing the boy's integrity, thought for a minute and then
asked, "have you been sharpening your axe?"
The young man replied, "I've been working too hard to take the time."
[quoted from William D. Boyd, "I Work Too Hard!"]

The Grace of my God

A cracking song here on Bish's blog

Great to sing great truths... without the "Jesus my Girlfriend" factor!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Hearing from Calvin, second hand

Went to an AMAZING "bookshop" last week, well, more of a house stacked FULL of second hand books... some very old indeed... was great to pick up some Calvin commentaries for under a £10... brilliant... Romans for a fiver, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians set for £2 - remarkable! Lightfaded pages, and the names of previous owners in the cover... intriguing! I was reading through his on Daniel... and was probably most struck by the prayers that he starts each section with. Here is a man who understands his natural position before the Sovereign God, and the unmerited grace and favour shown to him from Him! I should put some up on here actually! Here is a man who most definetely knew his God!!!

Monday, 9 June 2008

An Evening with Habakkuk

or … a kick up the backside in depending on, and rejoicing in the Lord when feeling down right hard hearted.

I don't know if you ever have those times when you think you'll read some 'random' book of the Bible… and it actually hits right where you needed hitting?

That happened tonight… thought I'd chose a short book to study briefly this evening while Adele is out for dinner with a friend… Habakkuk came to mind, as we had been studying Romans, which quotes "the righteous shall live by faith". This book is a great reminder that while tough times will come, either personally or corporately, there is a day where God will return in judgement, destroying His enemies; bringing a great salvation to the righteous - to those who live by faith… a great reminder that when all the blessings are taken away… one thing stands… the Cross of Christ, and an inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade!

Habakkuk is not a happy chappy… he sees violence, destruction and wrong doing amongst God's people (1:2-4). Wickedness is not coming to justice… and Habakkuk has a complaint against God… not some notion of God in his head that he wants to complain against… no, the LORD, Yahweh…. "Why are you letting this injustice against your people go on LORD? Why are you just sitting around, while this happens to your people?"

The LORD gives grace and replies… "Habakkuk, I'm working, even at this very moment, to bring judgement on those who are wicked… a judgement amongst Israel that will come, even in your lifetime Habakkuk. Look out amongst the nations, and see the Chaldeans! I have raised them up to execute my judgement… they are a bitter, nasty, dreaded, fearful, powerful nation. Their might is their god… they are violent, rebellious and destructive. They will bring the judgement you are wanting" (1:5-11)

So, Habakkuk gets his answer… and it's not what he expects… he still doesn't quite understand. "But my LORD, my God, my Holy One - I see that you have raised this nation up to judge the wickedness of your people, Israel… but surely the Chaldeans are much, much more wicked than the wicked of Israel, they are traitors of you… how can you idly look at such traitors, and yet be silent when the wicked swallow up the man more righteous than he? The Chaldeans treat those made in your image, like their own creatures… treating them like fish on a hook. I know you will answer me LORD!" (1:12-2:1)

And so Habakkuk waits for the response from the LORD, that comes. "Habakkuk, Habakkuk… make this vision plain to everyone… it may seem to you like it is taking a long time to come, but be assured, the time will come… the Chaldeans are puffed (or maybe the wicked Israel too are puffed up?) they are not upright. Remember that the righteous shall live by faith! The Chaldeans will get their due reward, for the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God! Their gods are nothing but their own insatiable greed, and images of stone, gold and silver, that have no wisdom, nor have any breath or life in them. The LORD is the one before whom all the earth shall be silenced". (2:2-20)

So Habakkuk ends by praising God, as he realises that the day is coming when justice will be done. When God Himself will come, defeating those who oppose Him, shaking the nations, stopping even the sun and moon, threshing the nations in his righteous anger. Bringing with Him, the salvation of His people. Habakkuk rightly trembles at the thought of such a day, but he will quietly wait, knowing that the righteous shall live by faith; knowing that then, God's people's enemies will be held to account and destroyed. (3:1-15)

Habakkuk knows that the judgement on Israel, the Chaldean invasion is going to come in his lifetime… it's going to be a tough time for Israel… and yet, though "the fig tree should not blossom; nor the fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food; the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls… yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the LORD, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places." (3:16-19)

Sometimes the Christian life can seem as barren and fruitless as the harvest that Habakkuk was fearing… when we see a lack of prosperity or advancement, or as we go through our own personal struggles, battles, tragedies… we can be deeply yearning and crying out "why won't you do something about this LORD?"

And what shall we recall then? The apparent prosperity of the wicked? The apparent advancement of the godless? Shall we be eager to join them in their apparent gains in this life? Or shall we remember the vision… shall we remember that God Himself will destroy the godless… God Himself will hold the wicked to account… God Himself will bring His Salvation to His people… the righteous… those who are faithful… who trust… who live not for this life, but for the eternal one to come…

What will be our sustenance through such times? Well surely it can be nothing other than the Cross of Christ… it was Habakkuk who despite having no harvest, no prosperity… clung to the LORD and His Salvation… the salvation found at the Cross…

Some helpful ideas on Weakening Pride and Cultivating Humility

I need to make a note of these things from Humility: True Greatness by C J Mahaney - what better place than here...

1. Reflect on the wonder of the cross of Christ
2. Begin your day by acknowledging your dependence upon God and your need for God
3. Begin your day expressing gratefulness to God
4. Practice the spiritual disciplines: prayer, study of God's Word, worship. Do this consistently each day and at the day's outset if possible
5. Seize your commute time to memorize and meditate on Scripture
6. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you
7. At the end of the day transfer the glory to God
8. Before going to sleep, receive this gift of sleep from God and acknowledge His purpose for sleep
9. Study the attributes of the God
10. Study the doctrines of grace
11. Study the doctrine of sin
12. Play golf as much as possible
13. Laugh often, and laugh often at yourself
14. Identify evidences of grace in others
15. Encourage and serve others each and every day
16. Invite and pursue correction
17. Respond humbly to trials
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11 [ESV]

The Supremacy of God in Preaching

This short book on preaching by Piper is well worth a read... a great reminder of the goal of preaching, and responsibilities therein. Piper takes a look at Edwards, in the last section of the book, to look at his character and thinking...

This book is full of gems, encouragements and challenges to those involved in declaring the supremacy of God...

As Piper heads to his conclusion, here are some quotes that he uses, which gives you an idea of the kind of content that preceded...

"They felt their infinite responsibility as stewards of the mysteries of God and shepherds appointed by the Chief Shepherd to gather in and watch over souls. They lived and labored and preached like men on whose lips the immortality of thousands hung. Everything they did and spoke bore the stamp of earnestness, and proclaimed to all with whom they came into contact that the matters about which they had been sent to treat were of infinite moment... Their preaching seems to have of the most masculine and fearless kind, falling on the audience with tremendous power. It was not vehement, it was not fierce, it was not noisy; it was far too solemn to be such; it was massive, weighty, cutting, piercing, sharper than a two-edged sword."
Horatius Bonar, 1845 (from introduction to John Gillies' "Historical Collections of Accounts of Revival")

"I love to think of coming to Christ, to receive salvation of him, poor in spirit, and quite empty of self, humbly exalting him alone; cut off entirely from my own root in order to grow into, and out of Christ; to have God in Christ be my all in all"
Edwards, "Personal Narrative"