Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tombstones: What will yours say?

A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble. 
-Charles Spurgeon




Today I was blessed with the chance to attend the memorial service for a dearly loved member of our church family. Wesley Stone, father, friend, and husband, was a man who affected many lives. Standing and watching people file out after the service had concluded, I was able to see in a tangible way just how many people he blessed and served in his life. Our church was packed, people actually had to stand in the back (quote an accomplishment really, as we have a sizable sanctuary). As I looked out I saw friends, family and countless others who Wes touched with his life. I couldn't help but think two things: 


-What a savior we have, who works through us in such profound ways! It would behoove us to realize just how many ways the Holy Spirit works through us in the lives of others. It is not always in a way that would compel someone to come to our funeral, it might be a simple (and yet profound) act. Maybe even a passing conversation or interaction. Yet in reality we affect far more people that we realize and the Holy Spirit works through us in ways that we can hardly fathom.


-I asked myself several questions: What would I have my funeral be like? What, at the end of my life, would I hope to have left behind as a legacy? Is it one that will honor Christ? Is it one that I will be able to present before God without shame? You must ponder these questions and answer to what your life is aimed at and will amount to someday. Is it one lived because of the Gospel, for Christ? If not, your way is perishing and I beg you to consider what Christ has done for you. He, God and man, died on a cross for your sins so that you might be saved from the eternal wrath of God. In Him and Him alone you can find salvation. Accept this truth! Elsewise your funeral and what comes shortly after for you will be occasions of grief and eternal suffering.


Crown Him as your Lord!


Mark

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Irony of Resolutions

It seems as if every summer the Lord grows me in ways I was never expecting. Maybe it's that each summer I have more time to think, to spend time with people, and to really read through things that I simply don't have time to fully consider during the school year. This summer really not so different, only in that the changes were more profound than they've been in summers past. I can confidently say that this is a good thing. Yet at the same time I sometimes find myself reeling, slightly overwhelmed by it all. It's a feeling I'm not used to, something I don't experience very often. It is certainly something good to have put on my heart though. I am reminded how vastly, unimaginably complex life, love, and God are.

In His love for those in Him, and indeed even as an expression of general blessing to humanity, we very rarely get even the slightest glimpse into the true picture of what life really consists of. That, I think, is an act of mercy. To know more is many times to be saddened by reality, to know the depth of human depravity better than before. Not only does knowledge bring greater sadness (Ecclesiastes 1:12-14), it is limited for mankind (Ecclesiastes 8:14-15).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

John Macarthur's Advice to YRR's: Part Two

Grow Up
Advice for YRRs (part 2)

Monday, July 25, 2011 


by John MacArthur
If I could impress on Young, Restless, Reformed students just one word of friendly counsel to address what I think is the most glaring deficiency in that movement, this is what it would be: "Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature" (1 Corinthians 14:20).
I'm very glad the ranks of YRRs are growing numerically. Many good things about that movement are full of promise and potential. In order to fulfill that potential, however, this generation of Reformers desperately needs to move past the young-and-restless stage. Immaturity and unrest are hindrances to spiritual fruitfulness, not virtues.
When Paul told Timothy, "Let no one despise you for your youth" (1 Timothy 4:12), he wasn't suggesting that Timothy should forbid people in the church to disapprove if the pastor were to display immaturity, juvenile misbehavior, youthful indiscretion, or other traits of callow character.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Advice for the Young, Restless, and Reformed from John Macarthur

Grow Up. Settle Down. Keep Reforming.
Advice for the Young, Restless, Reformed

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 


by John MacArthur
It has been five years since Christianity Today published Collin Hansen’s article titled “Young, Restless, Reformed.” Hansen later expanded the article into a book with the same title (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008). He has carefully documented a very encouraging trend: large numbers of young people (college age and younger) are discovering the doctrines of grace, embracing a more biblical and Christ-centered worldview, and beginning to delve more deeply into serious theology than most 20th-century evangelicals were prone to do.
In short, Calvinism, not postmodernism, seems to be capturing the hearts of Christian young people.
Hansen cites evidence that Calvinistic seminaries are growing. Several new national conferences feature speakers committed to reformed soteriology (R.C. Sproul, John Piper, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, and others)—and these conferences are consistently full to overflowing with students. Books rich with meaty doctrinal content rather than relational fluff have begun to show up on Christian best-seller lists. There is even a surge of interest in Jonathan Edwards.
Hansen’s original article gave some definition and a name to this developing movement. That article finally brought attention to a powerful trend that theretofore had been all but ignored byChristianity Today’s editors. (They had been preoccupied for a decade or more with Emergent and postmodern fads, open theism, and various currents drifting in a totally different direction.) But (in Hansen’s words): “While the Emergent ‘conversation’ gets a lot of press for its appeal to the young, the new Reformed movement [is arguably] a larger and more pervasive phenomenon [with] a much stronger institutional base.”
Five years later, the so-called Emergent Church is now in a state of serious disarray and decline. Some have suggested it’s totally dead. Virtually every offshoot of evangelicalism that consciously embraced postmodern values has either fizzled out or openly moved toward liberalism, universalism, and Socinianism. Scores of people who were active in the Emerging movement a decade ago seem to have abandoned Christianity altogether.
But young, restless, Reformed students (YRRs) still seem to be multiplying and gaining influence. I’m very glad for most of what this movement represents. It seems to be a more biblically-oriented, gospel-centered, theologically-grounded approach to Christian discipleship than this generation’s parents typically favored—and that is most certainly to be applauded.
YRRs have by and large eschewed the selfishness and shallowness (though not all the pragmatism) of seeker-sensitive religion. They are generally aware of the dangers posed by postmodernity, political correctness, and moral relativism (even if they don’t always approach such dangers with sufficient caution). And while they sometimes seem to struggle to show discernment, they do seem to understand that truth is different from falsehood; sound doctrine is opposed to heresy; and true faith distinct from mere religious pretense.
It is overall a positive development and a trend to be encouraged—but the YRR movement as it is shaping up also needs to face up to some fairly serious problems and potential pitfalls. So I have some words of encouragement and counsel for YRRs, and I want to take a few days here at the blog to write to them about their movement, its influences, some hazards that lie ahead, some tendencies to avoid, and some qualities to cultivate. (A few men on our staff will also join the discussion with a few thoughts of their own.)
Our chief concerns have to do with immaturity, instability, and inconsistency in the YRR movement. It is clear from Scripture, of course, that people who are young need to aim for maturity (2 Peter 3:18Ephesians 4:13Hebrews 5:12-14)—not perpetual adolescence. Scripture likewise makes clear that it’s better to be “like a tree planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:3) than to be constantly restless. And one cannot be genuinely “Reformed” and deliberately worldly at the same time. The two things are inconsistent and incompatible. To embrace the world’s fashions and values—even under the guise of being “missional”—is to make oneself God’s enemy (James 4:4). Many supposed reformations have faltered on that rock.
No one is truly Reformed who is not constantly reforming.
In all candor, some of the ideas YRRs seem most obsessed with—starting with their standard methods for reaching the unchurched and “redeeming culture”—seem to be holdovers from the pragmatism that dominated their parents’ generation. If we profess theology that recognizes and honors the sovereignty, majesty, and holiness of God, our practice ought to be consistent with that.
It is a wonderful thing to come to grips with the doctrines of grace, and it is a liberating realization when we acknowledge the impotence of the human will. But embracing those truths is merely an initial step toward authentic reformation. We still have a lot of reforming to do.
And let’s face it: the besetting sin of young Calvinists is a brash failure to come to grips with that reality.
I’ll elaborate more on these points in the days to come.
John MacArthur

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ready for Work this Week?

Taken from desiringgod.org:



John Calvin:
"It is an error to think that those who flee worldly affairs and engage in contemplation are leading an angelic life... We know that men were created to busy themselves with labor and that no sacrifice is more pleasing to God than when each one attends to his calling and studies well to live for the common good." (Calvin's Commentaries,Luke 10:38)
Martin Luther:
"A cobbler, a smith, a farmer, each has the work and office of his trade, and yet they are all alike consecrated priests and bishops, and every one by means of his own work or office must benefit and serve every other, that in this way many kinds of work may be done for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the community, even as all the members of the body serve one another…" (An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility)
The Apostle Paul:
"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)

-Reed

Friday, July 15, 2011

Demons? R.C. Sproul's Take


UNS01_200x1000.jpgR.C. Sproul on Demons:
"I think we can take some solace in the thought that it’s unlikely we’ll ever meet with Satan in our lifetimes. He has bigger fish to fry. He’s not going to chase after the little guys. But nevertheless, he has a host of minions, his demons, to do his work for him, and so they may surround us as close as our clothes, and satanic emissaries may besiege us, and we have to be alert to that. But it’s unlikely that you and I will encounter the Prince of Darkness himself. I say that because he is not omnipresent. That is an attribute that belongs only to God. Also, he’s not omniscient. Satan does not know everything. Satan is a creature, and he is defined by the limits of creatureliness.
In the Bible, we see [demons] possessing people and oppressing people, causing bodily harm, property damage, and all kinds of things. The Christian is always faced with this question: Can I be demon-possessed? I don’t believe so. I believe that people can be demon-possessed, but I don’t think that this is possible for a Christian, because God the Holy Spirit resides in the regenerate person, and the Scriptures tell us, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17). So, no demon can hold us hostage to the power of Satan. Demons can oppress us, they can harass us, they can tempt us, attack us and so on, but thanks be to God, He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

God's Sovereignty: A Piercing Truth

I'm currently reading through Tom Schreiner's Magnifying God in Christ: a Summary of New Testament Theology, and just wanted to share some thoughts that came to mind while reading the Psalms and his book today. What do you think?

As a scientist and a student, it has become evident to me that a large goal of science (especially physics) has been to determine what natural laws govern and constrain the universe we live in. This points to the fact, I think, that we have a divinely instilled desire to know what (or WHO!) governs the world around us, what makes things happen, to essentially answer the questions 'who, how, and why?' The writer of Ecclesiastes says that God put eternity into the heart of man (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In a sense, proper theology and belief in God is the 'grand unified field theory' that physicists so ardently search for.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Speak With Like, Conviction, and Stuff...

This is pretty old, but Taylor Mali hits the nail on the head.  SPOT ON!

-Reed

Friday, July 8, 2011

Asking the Right Questions


Found this bit from RC Sproul. Some good questions to be asking yourself and others, believe or not. 
check yourself,

Mark


Asking the Right Questions

Sometimes it is less important to have the right answers than to have the right questions. A man named Saul thought he did not need to ask any questions. He had all the answers. The most important question, according to Saul, was “How can I be good enough for God?” He thought he had that answer down cold.
The only problem was, he was wrong. American humorist Will Rogers could have told Saul, “It’s not what you don’t know that will get you in trouble, but what you know for certain that just ain’t so.” Saul’s problem lay in the question “How can I be good enough?”
The answer, of course, is that he couldn’t. But he didn’t understand the holiness of God. No one who is separated from God understands his holiness. To tell you the truth, not many Christians do either.
No one who is separated from God understands his holiness. To tell you the truth, not many Christians do either.

Are You Obsessed?

Here's the final bit that I've taken from Francis Chan's Crazy Love.  He also has a new book out this week, Erasing Hell, that looks quite good.  In the mean time, here are some convicting bits...

OBSESSED people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo.  A person who is obsessed with Jesus will do things that don't always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth.  As Martin Luther put it, "There are two days on my calendar: this day and that day"  (Luke 14:25; Matt. 7:13-23; Rev. 3:1-6)

A person who is OBSESSED with Jesus knows that the sin of pride is always a battle.
Obsessed people know that you can never be "humble enough",
and so they seek to make themselves less known
and Christ more known.
(Matt. 5:16)

A person who is OBSESSED thinks about heaven frequently.
Obsessed people orient their lives around eternity;
they are not fixed only on what is here in front of them.

People who are OBSESSED with God have an intimate relationship with Him.  They are nourished by God's Word throughout the day because they know that forty minutes on Sunday is not enough to sustain them for a whole week, especially when they will encounter so many distractions and alternative messages.

-Reed