Rethinking the Annual Ritual of One Dramatic Resolution

Here is a helpful post by Paul Tripp—

Trading One Dramatic Resolution for 10,000 Little Ones.

An excerpt:

And what is he doing? In these small moments he is delivering every redemptive promise he has made to you. In these unremarkable moments, he is working to rescue you from you and transform you into his likeness. By sovereign grace he places you in daily little moments that are designed to take you beyond your character, wisdom and grace so that you will seek the help and hope that can only be found in him. In a lifelong process of change, he is undoing you and rebuilding you again—exactly what each one of us needs!

Yes, you and I need to be committed to change, but not in a way that hopes for a big event of transformation, but in a way that finds joy in and is faithful to a day-by-day, step-by-step process of insight, confession, repentance and faith. And in those little moments we commit ourselves to remember the words of Paul in Romans 8:32

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us, how will he not also with him freely give us all things.

Out of the Cities for Two Nights

My family and I got an out-of-blue opportunity to spend a couple of nights outside of the cities at a condo in the northern country. It was a gift from the Lord to get away before winter sets in. The autumn is my favorite time of year in Minneapolis (unless its spring or summer).

Lots of the time away was still spent working and studying, but the air was cleaner and the nights were like vacation. It was a wonderful time and enough space to provoke some thought.

I would not like to live somewhere like that, way out there in the country. It is too disconnected. There aren’t enough people out there and my vocation has everything to do with people. But I wondered, “Is it people that I would miss out here?” . . . “Isn’t it a break from the hustle and bustle of people that make such a trip so satisfying?” . . . “what about this would get old?”

It dawned on me that it wasn’t only people I’d miss, but consumption. It was good to get away from all the advertisements, all the industry, all the commercial. And it would be the absence of these things that would be missed after a while. Is this is my Americanism seeping through? Or is this part and parcel to culture, and therefore, people?

I think its both, but people mainly. I like culture. I like people and their work. I like to be around that, loving the good and hating the bad.

And my hope is that all of my indigenous USA appetites would give way to a pilgrim principle that craves a better city—one that has lots of people, from every tribe and tongue and nation.

Blessed Are Those Who Have Not Seen, But Stand on the Shoulders of the Prophets and Apostles

Then I saw in my dream that the Interpreter  took Christian by the hand, and led him into a place where was a fire burning against a wall, and one standing by it always, casting much water upon it to quench it: yet did the fire burn higher and hotter. . .

John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress, 75ff.

Many people have considered Christian faith an easy thing, and not a few have given it a place among the virtues. They do this because they have not experienced it and have never tasted the great strength there is in faith. . . But he who has had even a faint taste of it can never write, speak, meditate, or hear enough concerning it.

Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian, 277

The question of faith is not whether the faith itself is sincere, but whether the object of faith is worth such sincerity. Promise is not what constitutes my faith. It is promise and testimony. The New Testament is predominantly the ‘pay up’ of promise with a vision for its consummation. That is what the testimony is. The promises that God has made have been fulfilled. Blessed are those who have not yet seen but stand on the shoulders of the prophets and the apostles in hope.

Sure, we set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:13), but only because of the grace already poured out upon us through the prophets who prophesied and through the apostles who preached the good news to us by the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:12).

Non-cuckooness: Chan, Driscoll, and Love for the Church

I like Francis Chan, Mark Driscoll, and Joshua Harris.

Via Justin Taylor, it is a neat thing to watch the three interact in a recent video by The Gospel Coalition. Driscoll diverts the conversation to questioning Chan for this recent resignation from Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA–the local church where he has served as the founding pastor/primary preacher for the past 16 years. Driscoll doesn’t get why he left.

Chan’s response is gracious. To say what he said more bluntly: Chan would comeback at Driscoll’s question “Why did you leave your church?” with a simple “because I don’t want to be like you.”

Chan is uncomfortable with being a celebrity pastor. He doesn’t like it. Driscoll really shows how different his perspective on the subject is when he comments about three minutes in, “go multi-site.” He is implying that Cornerstone have a multiplicity of campuses with Chan as the preaching pastor, one being in LA. No way—that would undermine exactly what Chan is avoiding.

Chan leaving Cornerstone is because he loves her. I think that he realizes he has set Cornerstone up in such a way that the life of the church is becoming inseparably woven with his own preaching ministry. His decision to step down is a pivotal move to resist having a church built after his own personality. His move is an endeavor to have Cornerstone be characterized by gospel faithfulness and not merely have the legacy of hosting a dynamic pastor with growing international influence.

The move is courageous and humble. I appreciate the trail he is blazing and I desire its character in my life and in the brethen’s.  Amen.

The Way of Wisdom

Guest Post by Nathan McCavery

Decisions. We all have to make them everyday – some important, most trivial. As followers of Christ, we’re desperate to make sure every decision is pleasing to God and might be part of His will for our lives.

One of the subtle dangers of this can be that we overcomplicate, overthink and overanalyse, agonising over every single decision. Wrestling to try and decipher where God would have us go and what He would have us do often leaves us confused, frustrated and spiritually drained. “If only God would show us what He wants us to do and we’ll do it in an instant” we think.

How quickly we forget and become complacent with the amazing miracle that God has revealed Himself to us in the person of His Son, and in His Word He’s given us all that we need as a guide for life! (2 Peter 1:3)

Kevin DeYoung in his book Just Do Something spells out God’s will for our lives.

1. God’s will is that we live holy, set-apart lives: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

2. We are to always rejoice, pray and give thanks: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

3. We are to know God’s will so we can bear fruit and know Him better. “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9)

4. The will of God is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is…be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:17-18)

God’s will isn’t that we struggle with every decision, becoming anxious, fretting for fear of choosing the wrong path and mistaking a lack of activity for piety. Paul tells us that “[God] works all things to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11) Jesus Himself tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33)

DeYoung closes his book with the following paragraph:

So the end of the matter is this: Live for God. Obey the Scriptures. Think of others before yourself. Be holy. Love Jesus. And as you do these things, do whatever else you like, with whomever you like, wherever you like, and you’ll be walking in the will of God.

If we understand this, it can only have a liberating, peace-giving effect on us. What an encouragement to know that provided we live as the Bible tells us to, we are free to do as we please. So let’s make some bold decisions with confidence that we are walking in God’s will, the way of wisdom, and let’s attempt great things for God’s glory.

Our Prayer for Mercy

It doesn’t matter how messed up you are. That’s what makes grace a controversy. The cry for mercy like David’s in Psalm 51 will not go unheard. This is a holy cry.

We can identify with David because his prayer here must incessantly be our own. The cry for mercy is not only an action of forsaking all other options. The cry for mercy must also be an embrace, a continual embrace. The cry for mercy is confident and focused. It is according to something, that is, according to the LORD’s steadfast love.

What necessitates the life of praying for mercy is not the accumulation of guilt but the absolute extinguishment of it by Another. The cry for mercy is not a license to live in darkness, but a testimony that we have been transferred into the kingdom of light. We don’t ask for mercy because we are enslaved to a life of sin. “Create in me a clean heart! (v. 10).”

The prayer for mercy encompasses our sorrow for sin and our hope in the work of Christ. We ask for mercy in reference to Jesus Christ who bore the wrath we deserved, removed our sins, and freed us from bondage.

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;”

Amen.

Grace is a Controversy

TO THE CHOIRMASTER. A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN NATHAN THE PROPHET WENT TO HIM, AFTER HE HAD GONE IN TO BATHSHEBA.

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.”

Grace is a controversy. The superscript of Psalm 51 gives the reader the horrible occasion of David’s prayer. Here is a man who has committed adultery, then murder. He has condemned himself (2 Sam. 12:1-7). This all makes his prayer more ‘intolerable.’ David is guilty and yet he comes to God. How can that be right? This man is guilty. And in all of his guilt and shame, he comes to God.

David comes to God and cries for mercy on the basis of God’s steadfast love and abundant mercy. He has no leg of his own on which to stand. He has nothing. The only chance that David will receive mercy will be solely dependent upon the LORD’s sovereign grace and unconstrained goodness through the power of His covenant love. The plea for mercy is the confession that you have no other option. The plea for mercy is an act of forsaking all else. There is nothing that he can present before the Judge of the universe. He has no trinket to impress. No good deed to deflect his crime. He is empty-handed and undone.

Here. Right here. This where we are. We may not have committed the same atrocity as David, but our coming to God will happen no other way. Just like David, we have no leg on which to stand. We have nothing to offer. We are just as broken. Just as desperate. Our coming to God must be a cry for mercy. A cry that forsakes all else and is according to the sovereign grace of God poured out in the crucified Son.

Jonathan Edwards and the Six Dictates from the Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Created the World

Dictate One : It does not presuppose any deficiency, need, or lack in God, or dependence on his creation for anything (32-33).
Edwards writes:

Because it is evident, by both scripture and reason, that God is infinitely, eternally, unchangeably, and independently glorious and happy; that he stands in no need of, cannot be profited by, or receive anything from the creature; or be truly hurt, or be the subject of any sufferings or impair of his glory and felicity from any other being (30).

Dictate Two: It is intrinsically valuable and capable of being attained by creation (34)
Edwards writes:

But whatever is in itself valuable, absolutely so, and that is capable of being sought and attained, is worthy to be made a last end of the divine operation (31)


Dictate Three: It is originally most valuable (35)
Edwards writes,

… if there by any thing which was superior in value to all others, that must be worthy to be God’s last end in the creation; and also worthy to be his highest end (32).


Dictate Four: God by definition must have an infinite and supreme regard to himself (36-44)
Edwards writes:


Therefore a proper regard to this Being, is what the fitness of regard does infinitely most consist in. — Hence if will follow — that the moral rectitude and fitness of the disposition, inclination, or affection of God’s heart, does chiefly consist in a respect or regard to himself infinitely above his regard to all other beings… (33).

Dictate Five: It is revealed in what God says and what he does (39)
Edwards writes:


If it be an infinitely amiable thing in God, that he should have a supreme regard to himself, then it is an amiable thing that he should act as having a chief regard to himself; or act in such a manner, as to show that he has such a regard; that what is highest in God’s heart, may be highest in his actions and conduct (34).

Later he writes,


… if that which God values ultimately, and for itself, appears in fact and experience, to be what he seeks by anything he does, he must regard it as an ultimate end. And therefore if he seeks it in creating the world, or any part of the world, ‘tis an ultimate end of the work of creation (39).

Dictate Six: It is an actual consequence or effect of the creation of the world (40)
Edwards writes:


We see that it is a good that God aimed at by the creation of the world; because he has actually attained it by that means. This is an evidence that he intended to attain, or aimed at it. For we may justly infer what God intends, by what he actually does; because he does nothing inadvertently, or without design. But whatever God intends to attain from a value for it; or in other words, whatever he aims at in his actions and works, that he values; he seeks that thing in those acts and works (40).