Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book Review: Samuel Morris:The Apostle of Simple Faith

Here is my book review for the biography of Samuel Morris, you can buy the book here.

This biography of Samuel Morris is a great example of what true living faith produces. Samuel was originally born in Africa; his family was a member of the Kru tribe, which was located in the forests of Liberia in Western Africa. Samuel's life in Africa is filled with suffering, fear, and hopelessness. Unexpectedly this young boy experiences the grace of God in the face of Jesus Christ. As you read the pages of this biography, you can't help but see the invisible hand of God watching over His young servant. Samuel, filled with new life in Christ, finds himself on a ship heading to America. Who would've thought that this young African boy would come to America, and have such a big influence for the kingdom of Christ? What about the life of Samuel Morris made him have such a big impact? I can think of at least four aspects of his life.

1)He was overwhelmed by what Jesus did for him. He realized that apart from the saving work of God in his life, he most likely would have died at a very young age, and worse would've been in hell, because of his sins. Samuel Morris is proof that if you do not have assurance of your own salvation story, you cannot possibly lead others to Christ. He loved to tell the story of the great salvation in Christ.

2)He believed in the importance of prayer. When you read this book, you do not go many pages without reading about Samuel spending time talking with His Father. Why? I think he realized how dependent he was on God for everything.

3)He considered others more important than himself. Here he especially followed in the steps of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. One example from the book, illustrates this point. Sam was just accepted at Taylor University, and was asked what kind of room he wanted, Samuel responded, "If there is a room nobody wants, then give that one to me." Also, he loved to share the love of Jesus with others; he cared about their eternal welfare.

4)He trusted God. His life was filled with unshaken confidence that God would take care of him in every aspect of his life.

After reading this biography, you begin to realize the possibilities of the Christian life. Samuel lived twenty years, yet he did more than maybe anybody in such a short period of time. Read this book! Read this book! And be challenged, be encouraged, and then join in singing Samuel's favorite hymn which so marked his life: "Fade, fade, each earthly joy. Jesus is mine, Break every tender tie, Jesus is mine!" 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Are You a True Christian?

The man who hears the word of God, and does it, is the true Christian. He hears the call of God to repent and be converted, and he obeys it. He ceases to do evil, and learns to do well. He puts off the old man, and puts on the new. He hears the call of God to believe on Jesus Christ for justification, and he obeys it. He forsakes his own righteousness, and confesses his need of a Savior. He receives Christ crucified as his only hope, and counts all things loss for the knowledge of Him. 
He hears the call of God to be holy, and he obeys it. He strives to mortify the deeds of his body, and to walk after the Spirit. He labors to lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily besets him. This is true vital Christianity. All men and women who are of this character are true Christians.

~ J.C. Ryle

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Great Paul Tripp Quotes

These are all from Tripp's Twitter:

Grace means that in your darkest moment of sin you can run to God and not away from him.
Sin offers you hope, but leaves you on your own. Grace shatters that hope, then gives you all the help you'd ever need.
Sin leads you to death, while it promises you life. Grace demands your death, but delivers eternal life.
Sin is a tyranny, obedience is a liberty and grace transports you from one to the other.
Grace releases you from your slavery to the shadow glories of the creation so that your heart can be consumed by love for the Creator.
You don't have to wonder if somewhere down the road you'll have what you need. The cross has already delivered everything you'll ever need.
Today you'll be tempted to insert yourself in the center of your world or by grace will you live for a Glory greater than your own?
You have to be willing to accept the worse news ever (your sin) in order to receive the best news ever (God's grace).
The deceit of sin keeps you from having the accurate view of yourself that you think you have, that's why you need the mirror of God's Word.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Awful Sin of Rejecting Christ

Was reading a sermon from John Flavel's Fountain of Life, and was struck by what he said:
"If the greatest love has been manifested in giving Christ to the world, then it follows, that the greatest evil and wickedness is manifested in despising, slighting, and rejecting Christ. Blush, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth; yea, be horribly afraid! No guilt like this." (Flavel, works Volume 1, pg. 70)

Its easy for me to say, "Well, I don't reject Christ, I mean I read His Word, I read books about Christ, I attend a church that proclaims Christ."  But, would I be willing to die for Christ? Is Christ my all in all? Is Christ my only treasure? Good time for self-examination.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Joy in Christ

Don't let anybody fool you that the Christian life is joyless. Our problem is we do our own will, instead of the Father's will revealed in Scripture. Jesus was always tired, hungry, thirsty, yet he was full of joy. The pleasures of sin only last a second and then you are left with nothing. The way of Christ is hard, but life everlasting. (1 Peter 4:12-16)

Earthly Fame which Vanishes

Courtesy of "The Daily Spurgeon" 
Another transient blessing which our poor humanity fondly covets and eagerly pursues is fame. In this respect we would fain be more honorable than our brethren, and outstrip all our competitors. It seems natural to us all to wish to make a name, and gain some note in the circle we move in at any rate, and we wish to make that circle wider if we can. But here, as of riches, it is indisputable that the greatest fame does not bring with it any equal measure of gratification. Men, in seeking after notoriety or honor, have a degree of pleasure in the search which they do not always possess when they have gained their object. Some of the most famous men have also been the most wretched of the human race.

If thou hast honor and fame, accept it; but let this prayer go up, “My God, bless thou me indeed,for what profit were it, if my name were in a thousand mouths, if thou shouldest spue it out of thy mouth? What matter, though my name were written on marble, if it were not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? These blessings are only apparently blessings, windy blessings, blessings that mock me. Give me thy blessing: then the honor which comes of thee will make me blessed indeed.” If you happen to have lived in obscurity, and have never entered the lists for honors among your fellow-men, be content to run well your own course and fulfill truly your own vocation. To lack fame is not the most grievous of ills; it is worse to have it like the snow, that whitens the ground in the morning, and disappears in the heat of the day. What matters it to a dead man that men are talking of him? Get thou the blessing indeed.

From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled "The Prayer Of Jabez."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Noon-Day Divinity

"The whole world is not a theater large enough to show the glory of Christ upon, or unfold the one half of the unsearchable riches that lie hid in him. These things will be far better understood, and spoken of in heaven, by the noon-day divinity. Alas! i write his praises but by moon-light; I cannot praise him so much as by halves.

When we have borrowed metaphors from every creature that has any excellency or loverly property in it, till we have stript the whole creation bare of all its ornaments, and clothed Christ with all that glory; when we have even worn out our tongues, in ascribing praises to him, alas! we have done nothing, when all is done."
John Flavel

Monday, January 10, 2011

Loud Cheers, Biography, Congregational Prayer, the Next Generation, and the Glory of God (Did I forget the kitchen sink)?

Courtesy of Ryan Fullerton
Many Tuesday nights at my house include loud cheers and cries for more, really this can happen on any night of the week, but it often happens on Tuesday nights. What are we doing? We are reading biography. We are reading about Marie Monson being delivered from deadly Brigands in China. We are reading about Wilbur Teal praying and seeing his wife raised from the dead (don't worry I am still orthodox).
We are reading about great men and women of God who walked with an Almighty, Loving, Adventuring God. And when I go to put the books down, I hear intense pleading, "No Daddy, just one more, just another one, please, please, please!!!" The lives of men and women like George Mueller, Marie Monson, Wilbur Teal, and Daniel the Prophet put fire in our bones. Or as Rich Mullins put it, "Stories like that make a boy grow bold, stories like that make a man walk straight." I love reading Christian biography.
But the main reason I love it is because I want to live it. I want to walk personally and closely with God. If I get as depressed as Adoniram Judson did while he was a missionary to Burma then I hope God will do in my life what he did in Judson's. After the depression God began to move people from different parts of Burma to seek Judson so they could hear about salvation. Don't you long to see God do that again? When you hear that the prayer warriors in Charles Spurgeon's Church filled the boiler room don't you wan't to see God do it again?
Oh, and, well, that brings me to this Sunday. As I speak, seats for 300 people over 2 services are being set up. Prayer leaders are getting ready to lead us in prayer Sunday at 9:30 and 10:45. The Pastors have had sheets prepared for the congregation to help us pray for the Clicks, Asia, Garfield Ave, and our new Gospel Community Groups. Do you realize that for you to be encouraged by Spurgeon's prayer meeting someone had to go. For us to be encouraged by Judson's missions someone had to go, and someone had to pray? Won't you come this Sunday to ask of God to make your joy complete? Won't you come to leave a legacy to your children? Won't you come and ask God to do something in our midst that might make our great grand children marvel at the power of God? Won't you pray so that children in a living room one hundred years from now will hear how God answered our prayers and they beg for just one more story!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ryle on Bible Reading

1) Read the Bible with an earnest desire to understand it.
2) Read the Scriptures with a simple, childlike faith and humility.
3) Read the Word with a spirit of obedience and self-application.
4) Read the Holy Scriptures everyday.
5) Read the whole Bible and read it an orderly way.
6) Read the Word of God fairly and honestly.
7) Read the Bible with Christ constantly in view.
~ J.C. Ryle

Friday, January 7, 2011

Why We Don't Witness

These causes of not witnessing are from Richard Baxter's book, "The Saint's Everlasting Rest".
If we know the causes we may more easily overcome them. 

1. One hindrance is sinA person's own guilt makes him ashamed to witness. If a person is not excited about heavenly delights, why would he try to draw others enthusiastically to seek them?

2. Another hindrance is a secret lack of faith. If we truly believed that the unsaved would be eternally separated from God, how could we keep from speaking, or even avoid bursting into tears, when we look them in the face; especially when they are our dear friends? Were it not for this cursed unbelief, our own and our neighbors' souls would benefit from more active witnessing.

3.A lack of compassion is a further cause of neglect. Unlike the Good Samaritan, we pass by the wounded man. What difference does it make that the sinner, wounded by sin and enslaved by Satan, does not want your help? His misery cries aloud just the same. If God had not heard the cry of our misery before He heard the cry of our prayers, we would have stayed in sin's slavery ourselves. You will pray to God for the conversion of other people; why not talk to them about it, if you desire it? And if you do not desire it, why do you pray for it?

4. We are also hindered from witnessing by a desire to be popular. We are so eager to please people that it makes us neglect our duty to them. He is a foolish and unfaithful medical doctor who will let a sick man die for fear of troubling him. If our friends are mentally ill, we do not let them hurt themselves, even if stopping them causes them to dislike us. And yet when they are beside themselves so far as salvation is concerned, rushing madly on to damnation; we will not stop them for fear of displeasing them. How can we "love the praise of men more than the praise of God"? (John 12:43). If we "seek to please men, we shall not be the servants of Christ" (Gal. 1:10).

5.It is common to be hindered by sinful bashfulness. When we should shame men out of their sins, we are ourselves ashamed of our duty. Sinners do not blush to swear, be drunk, or neglect the worship of God; and yet we blush to talk with them about it. It is wrong to be shy in emergencies. Shall we be too bashful to shout, "Fire!" when we discover the auditorium is in flames? It is not a work to be ashamed of, to obey God in persuading people to turn from their sins to Christ.

6. A lazy and impatient spirit hinders us also. Sometimes witnessing makes people our enemies. Besides, it seldom succeeds instantly, but needs follow-up. Therefore we need patience. What if God had been as impatient with us as we are with others?

7. With many, pride is a hindrance. They would be glad to be the one who might lead a distinguished person to Christ, but they overlook the poor masses, as if the souls of all were not alike to God. These men fail to consider how low Christ stooped to us!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Children Of The Light

I found these lyrics to be a great encouragement to me, and the song is not bad either!!

We are children of the light
Royal rulers of the day
Saints, no prisoners of the night
Trust and love will lead the way
We are free

[Verse 1: Lecrae]
Yeah, I notice when people notice me
My exterior is the only way they know it's me
I'm full of holes and scars, my skin's marked up
But qualified to light up a world of darkness
A day walker, I love walkin' in the sunlight
I look dirty but I've been cleaned on the inside
It's revolutionary, he's coming now for fellas and they can look at us strange
But ain't nothing that they can tell us, cause


[Verse 2: Sonny Sandoval]
Yeah, I'm free to rock this mic to walk right in a dark night lighted by the sun (we are free)
I'm so free that I can fly while ya'll can't even crawl into a ball of freedom
In my life I count the cost I take lost accused of treason
And I could die for this cause and you might just be the reason
And in order to if I must die it's denial of self
And if you claim to be the way that means there ain't no one else
I trust it, done, there ain't no room for discussion
So if you just don't get it then let the just come with it
I know that much more is required of all that I've been given
But if ya'll claim to be alive then you gotta start livin
You know why


[Verse 3: Dillavou]
And him the only one to take me out of Babylon
And him create me right and wrong
And him create me script and song
And that's why we stand firm upon the rock on which salvation, man
And so we love the prospect and hope to put our helmet on
And that is why we build upon for each and every chosen one
Respectful to the elder-men who give guidance and correction
So don't you quench the spirit man
The Word is truth, the Word is one
The Messiah give you Shalom

Happiness in Christ

It is happier to be in Christ than out of Christ.—Many that read these words are saying in their heart, It is a dull thing to be religious. Youth is the time for pleasure — the time to eat, drink, and be merry — to rise up to play. Now, I know that youth is the time for pleasure: the foot is more elastic then — the eye more full of life — the heart more full of gladness. But that is the very reason why I say youth is the time to fly to Christ. It is far happier to be in Christ than to be out of Christ.

First, it satisfies the heart.—I never will deny that there are pleasures found out of Christ. The song and the dance, and the exciting game are most engaging to young hearts. But ah! think a moment. Is it not an awful thing to be happy when you are unsaved? Would it not be dreadful to see a man sleeping in a house all on fire? And is it not enough to make one shudder to see you dancing and making merry when God is angry with you every day?

Think again. Are there not infinitely sweeter pleasures to be had in Christ? "Whoso drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whoso drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." "In thy presence is fulness of joy: at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore." To be forgiven — to be at peace with God — to have him for a Father — to have him loving us and smiling on us — to have the Holy Spirit coming into our hearts, and making us holy — this is worth a whole eternity of your pleasures. "A day in thy courts is better than a thousand." Oh to be "satisfied with favor, and full with the blessing of the Lord!" Your daily bread becomes sweeter. You eat your meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God." Your foot is more light and bounding, for it bears a ransomed body. Your sleep is sweeter at night for "so he giveth his beloved sleep." The sun shines more lovingly, and the earth wears a pleasanter smile, because you can say, "My Father made them all."

Second, it makes you glad all your days.—The pleasures of sin are only "for a season;" they do not last. But to be brought to Christ is like the dawning of an eternal day: it spreads the serenity of heaven over all the days of our pilgrimage. In suffering days, what will the world do for you? "Like vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to a heavy heart." Believe me, there are days at hand when you will "say of laughter, It is mad and of mirth, What doth it?" But if you fly to Jesus Christ now, he will cheer you in the days of darkness. When the winds are contrary and the waves are high, Jesus will draw near and say, "Be not afraid; it is I." That voice stills the heart in the stormiest hour. When the world reproaches you, and casts out your name as evil — when the doors are shut— Jesus will come in and say, "Peace be unto you." Who can tell the sweetness and the peace which Jesus gives in such an hour? One little girl that was early brought to Christ felt this when long confined to a sick bed. "I am not weary of my bed," she said, "for my bed is green; and all that I meet with is perfumed with love to me. The time, night and day, is made sweet to me by the Lord. When it is evening, it is pleasant; and when it is morning I am refreshed."

Last of all, in a dying day, what will the world do for you? The dance and the song and the merry companion will then lose all their power to cheer you. Not one jest more. Not one smile more. "Oh that you were wise, that you would understand this, and consider your latter end." But that is the very time when the soul of one in Christ rejoices with a joy unspeakable and full of glory. "Jesus can make a dying bed softer than downy pillows are." You remember when Stephen came to die; they battered his gentle breast with cruel stones; but he kneeled down and said, "Lord Jesus receive my spirit." John Newton tells us of a Christian girl who, on her dying day, said, "If this be dying, it is a pleasant thing to die." Another little Christian, of eight years of age, came home ill of the malady of which he died. His mother asked him If he were afraid to die? "No," said he, "I wish to die, if it be God's will: that sweet word, Sleep in Jesus, makes me happy when I think on the grave."

"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again till Christ be formed in you," if you would live happy and die happy, come now to a Saviour. The door of the ark is wide open. Enter now, or it may be never.

taken from The Works of the Late Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne. 2 vols. New York: Robert Carter, 1848-1850.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Worship and Prayer

Perhaps the highest and loftiest acts a Christian can have toward God are worship and prayer. These two acts are uniquely vertical–they are the only things a believer does that are directly toward God and that directly bring him or her into relationship and communion with God. The one exception is the reading of Scripture, but that is a means to bring us to worship and prayer. All other aspects of the Christian life are horizontal–they are outward toward others. Worship and prayer are uniquely God-centered. They deal with God alone and bring us to Him relationally.
Therefore, these ought to be viewed as the most primary acts and responsibilities of the Christian. Nothing is to take precedence over worship and prayer. If neglected, all other aspects of the Christian life will wither. Nothing about the Christian life can survive or thrive without them. Supremely important and the most vital of all is worship and prayer.
If this is true, is it not a wonderful grace that both of these acts–worship and prayer–are not dependent upon anything external? They don’t require a group of people, money, education, or politics. You don’t have to be especially smart, gifted, and outgoing to worship or pray. You don’t have to know someone and get a committee to organize anything.
Prayer and worship can be done anytime, anywhere, and by any Christian, regardless of their abilities, financial status, education, or people skills. All that is needed is one thing–a heart for prayer and worship. The two greatest ministries there are can be done without a newsletter, a ministry staff or an office. They can be done quietly from an apartment or bedroom. Nothing to do except draw near and stay there. Get alone and get with God. He has promised the one who goes to the prayer closet that “He is in secret and sees in secret.”
Why are so many people who are wanting to be involved in “ministry”, only pursuing outward ministries? Young men want a ministry of preaching, evangelism, music, missions, and service, yet the ministry of private worship and prayer are greatly neglected. Not many at all feel “called” to that ministry. The reason is because worship and prayer are not before men–they are not done publicly, to be seen by men. They are not busy activities, but are done in stillness and in private. Yet these two acts in the Christian life take more discipline, more calling, and more grace than anything else that could be done.
It is much easier to preach, evangelize, take mission trips, and do other ministry than it is to pray. But the highest, loftiest, and most difficult ministry of all is private prayer. And it is probably the most needed today.
I have been a Christian almost 38 years. I have heard many people say, “I believe I am called to preach or pastor;” “I know God has called me to be a missionary;” “I am called to lead music in worship.” But there are few who view prayer as a life’s work and calling, and who give up time with people and public ministry to be away and alone in the secret place to pray.
The priority of private worship and prayer are greatly neglected today. People would rather be with people and be active than be still before God. But at the end of life, when we enter into old age, there will be many activities we cannot do any more and will have to give up–
write or use a computer when you always could before
go to church meetings when you always could before
preach and teach when you did it for forty yearstravel and do missions when you were so active and healthy
write books or tracts when your mind was still clear
do outward acts of service when your body worked correctly
In other words, when all ability to do outward activities have ceased and you must sit all day or lay on a bed with illness, there are only two activities you can do until you die– prayer and worship.
So if these two are 1) the primary acts toward God; 2) the most needed and most neglected; 3) can be done without needing anything except a heart for them; 4) can be done until you die;
If this is true, why not do them more now? Who among us is called to make prayer their priority in 2011? Among all the young people and college students, who says, “I want a life of prayer–I will give up outward ministry positions, live at home and rent a cheap room, work part-time, and pray most of my time?”
Who feels called to a ministry of prayer before a calling to missions? Who will give up the spot light of public ministry to be hidden away with God?
When the Christian life begins, a new convert can worship and pray; when a couple doesn’t have any “ministry”, they can have a ministry of prayer; when you are financially broke, you can pray for others; when life is nearing its end, your body is broken, and all you can do is sit or lay on a bed, still you can pray and worship God.
When Leonard Ravenhill had to jump from a burning hotel in 1951 in Chicago, he had seven major breaks in his body–feet, legs, arms, and back; his preaching trip to many countries was cancelled, all outward activity was stopped, busyness was gone and everything ceased. For a year, he could do nothing but lay in bed in pain. Then one night, he read Luke’s gospel about the woman who came to Jesus and never said a word–she just washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She worshipped. Ravenhill then realized he could do something in that bed–his heart could go up to Jesus in prayer and his heart could worship God when he had nothing else to do and no ability to do anything else.
These two things he did for a year from his bed. It changed him forever. Worship and prayer became his priority.
I wonder this coming year if it can become a priority for any of us? Time is passing, life is passing, and many of us may be wasting time on outward things that don’t count for eternity–may we give ourselves now to two things we can do when we are ninety in a nursing home or on a sick bed–worship and prayer.
So here’s a call to all younger people– if you are desiring to serve God and don’t know what He wants you to do, choose a ministry of prayer. You already know He has told you to pray and develop your prayer life. You are thinking about if God wants you in ministry full time and what ministry he want you to do–preaching, teaching, mission? Give yourself to prayer. Ask Christ, “Lord, teach me to pray.” Just give yourself to a ministry of prayer. Don’t tell others; don’t talk about it, or write and blog about it, and don’t have motives for others to know it. Just do it. Make prayer your priority and your ministry.
Secondly, here’s an invitation. For any brother or couple who want to have a time of prayer together any day of the week, I invite you to pray with me. I will pray with you. It’s easy to have a prayer meeting by phone or on Skype.
Worship and prayer shape everything we are and everything we do. 2011 is a good year for these to become more than they have ever been in our lives.
– Mack Tomlinson