Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best Books of 2012

This year has probably been the first year that I've mostly read digital books. From getting good deals on Amazon for the Kindle, or just choosing to read digitally I've been soaking it in. These books below have been the most enjoyable to me and may or may not have been published this year. I give all these books full recommendation to you!

Chai Linne, A Heart For Freedom: The Remarkable Journey of a Young Dissent, Her Daring Escape, and Her Quest to Free China's Daughters
This was probably my favorite book I read, just in terms of awesome reading. This is an amazing story and I could not put it down. At the end I was so encouraged at what God had done in this woman's life. Amazing!

Creston Mapes, Dark Star: Confessions of a Rock Idol

Creston Mapes is a skilled writer. I loved the story of this book. It was a quick read. And I want to read it again.

Jared Wilson, Gospel Wakefulness
Gospel Wakefulness is simply a treasure for me. I plan on going back to this book often to stir me to Christ. 

Raymond C. Ortlund, Proverbs: Wisdom that Works 
This is the only commentary that I put on this list, but it's not a dry commentary by any means. A lot of people think of commentaries as books that only pastors should read, but this one is different in that sense. Of course it is helpful for pastors or church leaders, but many people will be able to read this and enjoy it. It is Christ-centered, faithful to the text, practical, and devotional. It is one of the best commentaries I have ever read. 

Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation: God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God 
When I first picked this book up, I knew it would be good, but I did not know it would be that good! Wow! We all struggle with giving compliments in a God-centered way that encourages the person but doesn't flatter them. This book will help you a ton. I loved it!

Jerry Bridges, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts
Highly recommend this book. Every Christian should read this. Everyone of us will go through hard times, and we need to know the truth's that will help us during that time. Bridges will help you to do that. 

J.D. Greear, Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary
Gospel is a call for the church to give up legalistic or moralistic tendencies and dive into the truth that the gospel of Christ is the power to live godly lives to the glory of God. I loved this book. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Where is our Hope?

"She was a creative, beautiful girl who loved playing with her little brothers..." "We cannot imagine our life without her. We are mourning her loss, sharing our beautiful memories we have of her, and trying to help her brother understand why he can't play with his best friend."

On December 14th, 2012 tragedy hit the town of Newport, Connecticut. A 20 year old gunman stormed into an elementary school and killed 20 children and 6 adults including his mother.

Precious lives were taken. Precious children, who had their whole life in front of them, were killed. 

And now a couple days after the massacre the stories about each person are coming out. As I read about each individual, I just couldn't help but cry. Why did this happen? Why God? Those are some of the questions that many people are asking. Who would kill innocent children? I don't have the answers and I can't speak about why God allowed this to happen. But I do know that God has something to say to us.

A couple things I want to talk about to offer hope in this awful situation.

1) God does not promise us an easy life.
We have a tendency to put our hope in the people and the things of this world. We often look to this world to fulfill us.  But Scripture tells us in 1 John 2:15-17, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-comes not from the Father but from the world. the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever" (NIV).

If there is anything that the shootings in Connecticut can do for us is to wake us up. The shooting tells us that our lives are fragile. Anything can happen. We could die or our loved ones could die. We are foolish if we put our ultimate hope in this world. 

2) Everyone has a story. 
In other words, people matter. The twenty year old shooter did not value human life and he took 26 human lives in a couple minutes. But God graciously gave those people life. He created them in His own image. And God has made all of us in his own image. We all have stories of joy, success, and failures. We all have fears, hopes, and dreams. Every person in this world matters, and should be pointed to the only One who can satisfy.

3) Jesus is the treasure. 
This shooting happened right in the middle of advent, the time when Christians all over the world prepare to celebrate the coming of the Savior into this world. Where do we turn for hope? Do we just hope things will get better? God tells us to put our hope in Him. He tells us to come to Him for life and everlasting joy.

God, the Father, sent his only Son to this sinful world to die. To die for his enemies. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" Romans 5:8 (NIV). That tells us something about the heart of God. He cares about us. He's not going to leave us alone. He chose to respond to our sinfulness and brokenness. Jesus came to this earth humbly, living a perfect life for us, dying in our place on the cross to pay for our sins, and he rose again triumphantly defeating sin, Satan, and death for all who place their faith in Him!  Wow!

The events of this past weekend have left me heartbroken that so many lives were taken and so many families will have to spend this Christmas without their precious child or friend right next to them. It is so sad. But there is hope for us. Jesus Christ is an ever present Savior, responding to our brokenness with his grace.

These events have reminded me that this world is a bad savior, our lives are precious, and Jesus Christ deserves my full devotion and trust. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tweets of the Week Part 13

The law demands that we do it all; the gospel declares that Jesus paid it all. @PastorTullian

OT: anticipation. Gospels: manifestation. Acts: proclamation. Epistles: explanation. Revelation: consummation. Your Bible is about Jesus. @MattSmethurst

Holiness and sin cannot both survive and thrive in our lives. One or the other must die. @NancyDeMoss

Everyone lives for something, just a lot of people live for something that doesn't really matter. @JeffersonBethke

Prayer reminds us of who we're not. @BurkParsons

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tweets Of The Week Part 12

Jesus offers good news about how to receive a new life, not good advice about how to achieve a better life. @JustinBuzzard

The command to cast our cares on the Lord is just as much a command as "Do not murder". Let's obey both today. @ScottySmith

God's grace is abundant. No wrong doing can contradict that fact. @JarridWilson

Prayer is hard because coming to the end of ourselves is hard. @BurkParsons

The Spirit of God uses the gospel of God to motivate the people of God to be on mission with God. @TrevinWax

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tweets Of the Week Part 11

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son..." The greatest Giver, greatest Gift. Nothing greater. Nothing. @rayortlund

Once you meet Jesus, you start to change. You start to hate sin and pursue holiness. You stop rebelling, you start obeying. @PastorMark

No need to hide in guilt and shame today because whatever sin is revealed has already been covered by the blood of Jesus. @PaulTripp

Jesus flipped over tables and ran vendors out of the temple. Principle- Jesus is opposed to anything standing in the way of our worship! @ChrisHruska

The gospel is NOT "do something for Jesus"; it is "Jesus has done something for you." @Pastor Tullian

Grace is free to us because it cost God everything. @JeffersonBethke

Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life. @theResurgence

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tweets of the Week Part 10

No one, no thing, no time, no place, will be more glorious than seeing the face of Jesus Christ. @bkauflin

How Jesus forgives sin: Condemns it, carries it, cancels it, kills it, casts it, and clean forgets it. If we'll confess it. @jaredcwilson

For a guy to say he doesn't struggle with lust is a double-sin... Because he's lusting AND lying.  @WhiteFlagXP

If you're God's child you need to know that no dark thing in you is a surprise to the One lived, died and rose to be your Savior. @PaulTripp

Religion tells us to try to buy right-standing with God with good works. Gospel says God bought right-standing with us with His son's blood. @StephenMiller

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tweets of the Week Part 9

Beloved fellow-believer, wherever you are, wherever you dwell, God will be to you a constant place of refuge. @SPURGEONdotUS

The glory of God often shines brightest when we are in our darkest nights. @StephenMiller

Gospel irony: those freely forgiven of their sin make war against it while those enslaved to sin make peace treaties w/ it. @timmybrister

The gospel frees me to love the glory of Jesus Christ more than my own. That's very good news. @bkauflin

Though we'll desire more, even demand more, we won't need anythingn more than Jesus and what he chooses to give us today. @ScottyWardSmith

Friday, April 20, 2012

My New Favorite Hymn

When I first came across this ten verse Augustus Toplady hymn “Immovable Our Hope Remains,” I was significantly affected by the confident faith the lyrics expressed. I rearranged, rephrased, and trimmed down the hymn into four verses. Later on, my dad came across my lyrics on our piano and set them to a melody that tries to capture the triumph of the words. No matter how we feel, no matter how hopeless or unsure our future appears, no matter what lies Satan uses to weaken our hearts, our hope is immovable. Jesus is already in heaven, and we are in Christ! — Brittany Kauflin
This is from the CD "From Age to Age" by Sovereign Grace. 


Immovable our hope remains
Though shifting sands before us lie
The One who washed away our stains
Shall bear us safely to the skies
The floods may rise, the winds may beat
Torrential rains descend
Yet God His own will not forget
He’ll love and keep us till the end
You’ll love and keep us till the end 

This is eternal life: to know
The living God and Christ, the Son
The Savior will not let us go
Until His saving work is done
Our debt was great, as was our need
But now the price is paid
Who can behold Immanuel bleed
And doubt His willingness to save?
We trust Your willingness to save

The Lord acquits, who can condemn?
Though Satan’s accusations fly
His pow’r can never reach our names
To blot them from the Book of Life
The Son has surely made us free
His Word forever stands
And all our joy is knowing we
Are graven on His wounded hands
We’re graven on Your wounded hands

Built into Christ, secure we stand
For with His Spirit we’ve been sealed
By grace we’ll see the promised land
Where every sorrow shall be healed
To God who gave His only Son
To Jesus Christ, our Lord
To God the Spirit, Three-in-one
Be songs of praise forevermore
We’ll sing Your praise forevermore

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tweets of the Week Part 8

Promises kept. King crowned. Sinners rescued. Rebels made sons. @timmybrister

I'm the crowd who mocked, ridiculed, & screamed, "Crucify Him!" then stood by & let an innocent man die. @StephenMiller

Psalm 5 - prayer: might I walk through this day mindful that God hears, protects and provides for His children. @ZacSMartin

Jesus, on this Maundy Thursday, stun us with the full extent of your love for us that we might life more fully to your glory. @ScottyWardSmith

Whether today seems to go your way or not, it's always going God's way. He doesn't make mistakes. Trust Him. Proverbs 3:5-6 @Lecrae

God is not embarrassed of you. He really does delight in you. The cross is the biggest shout in the universe that. He. Wants. You. @JeffersonBethke

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tweets of the Week Part 7

If you love God, you hopefully abandon yourself to Him. If you love sin you hopelessly abandon yourself to sin. Jer. 2:25 Trevor M. 

The Christian life is a life in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ all because of Christ. Burk Parsons

God's grace is not for when we feel we most deserve it. It is for when we feel we least deserve it. Let grace be grace. Dane Ortlund

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. That ain't gonna happen without the gospel. Scotty Smith

I reckon that grace has filled more buckets with saints' tears than law has. Erik Raymond

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Book Review: Dark Star: Confessions of a Rock Idol

Dark Star: Confessions of a Rock Idol (Rock Star Chronicles)

If there is one main point that was made clear to me after reading this book, it is the fact that NOBODY is beyond reach of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Creston Mapes skillfully writes the story of rocker Everett Lester, who, for most of his life was chasing after things that would promise him freedom, but ultimately enslaved him. One person in his life, however, saw the futility of Everett's enslavement to sin and began praying for him to surrender his life to Jesus Christ.

Although I can't identify with being a hugely popular rock star, I can identify with looking for things outside of Jesus Christ to satisfy me. This book makes you think. And you come to the conclusion that the high life is not getting everything you want, but rather being a servant of Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, reading about Karen Bayliss, the person who prayed for Everett Lester, was so encouraging. She was someone who greatly cared for Everett and believed in the power of prayer.

If you're a Christian I think you will greatly enjoy and learn from this book. If you are a non-Christian this book might be hard for you to read, however, I leave you with the question, why not see if Jesus can do the same to you as he did to Everett Lester?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tweets of the Week Part 6

It's a massive lie to believe that the "good life" is a life where the world revolves around me & I get whatever I want. Stephen Miller

There is not even a distant second to compare to when it comes to the glory, beauty & supremacy of King Jesus. Stephen Miller

Let's be ravenous readers of the Bible. How else will we know what grace looks like in every situation & relationship? Scotty Smith

Comfort is not about a situation or location, but about the presence of a God of grace in every situation and each location. Paul Tripp

If you are united with Christ, you are as secure as he is.  Jared Wilson

Psalm 23 - believing the Lord is my shepherd means trusting He knows what I need and where I need to go.  Zac Martin

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tweets of the Week Part 5

Seeking God's will for your life can be a big distraction from seeking God Himself. You cannot know God and miss His will. 

Be not condemned by the ways God doesn't use you, but surprised at the ways He does! Mark Dever

Whether or not we believe it, see it or seize it, there will be enough of God's grace for this day. God does not lie. Scotty Smith

If you abandon all this world offers and follow Jesus, you will have more than you could ever dream. And it will last forever. Lk. 18:28-29  Trevor M.

Happiness is found only in holiness, and holiness is only in keeping God's word. Psalm 119:8-18  Jesse Johnson

We exist, for nothing less, than to enjoy the glory of Jesus. Jeff Medders

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Can Non-Believers be Moral?

I was listening to the audio of a debate between a Christian pastor and an atheist. The pastor is Bob Thune, who is the head pastor at Corem Deo Church, in Omaha, NE. I typed out his answer to a couple questions below. You can listen to the audio here. I would highly reccomend it.

Question: Can you name one moral or ethical act that you think cannot be performed by a non-believer?

Answer: There is no moral or ethical act that cannot be performed by a non-believer. Ethics is a human thing not a distinctively Christian thing. Humans are made in the image of God. So the fact that we are human means every human being has the capability to perform ethical acts. Non-believers can sometimes be more moral than believers.

Christianity is not a religion that believes that people are saved based on their ethical obedience. Rather Christianity is a religion that acknowledges and admits human brokenness in the world. Christianity encourages us to look to Christ for salvation and for restoration to the image of God. So my answer to the question is nothing.

On the other hand my answer to this question is everything. The bigger question is what makes an act ultimately good? Why should I live an ethical life? The ultimate standard for ethics is not what we think is right or good, but that we should live for the glory of God. By this estimation, every act would be judged by human criteria of ethics or morality, but is it done with the intent of worship to and glory toward God? By that capacity only a believer would have the capacity to act in a way that is glorifying God.

Conclusion: It is possible for nonbelievers and all human beings to act ethically in a limited sense for the good for human society. But in the ultimate sense, we have to refer to the higher question of what defines the ultimate standard of reality, and that is the glory of God.

Question: Can you have morals without believing in the Christian deity?

Answer: I think you can have morals without believing in the Christian deity, because morals have very little to do with what you believe or don’t believe, and a whole lot to do with what is exactly true about the human condition and what it means to be a human person.

You can have morals without believing in the Christian deity, however, you cannot have morals without the existence of a deity. If there is no God you can have no basis for morality. All moral judgments assume an absolute moral vantage point. Anytime someone says should or should not is making an absolute ethical obligation. And such statements can only be made if there is some external vantage point outside of us that can ground those statements. 

Obviously not all of us believe in the existence of a deity, but we all believe that people should and shouldn’t act in certain ways. Anyone who has a morality is borrowing from the Christian tradition whether they know it or not. It is not possible to make any moral judgement except borrowing from the Christian worldview by making that judgement. You can absolutely have morals without believing in the Christian deity, but you cannot have morals without the existence of a deity.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tweets of the Week Part 4

If I demand more of this life than God promises, I'm a fool. If I expect less in this life than God promises, I'm a fool. Scotty Smith

If you have any doubt, whatsoever, about what Jesus thinks about you, by all means, don't look at you, look at the cross. Scotty Smith

Whatever momentary delight or relief sin may offer, it is never worth the cost. Nancy Leigh DeMoss

If you have breath in your lungs today, don't waste it. It's for the purpose of worshiping Christ. Stephen Miller

If we could call forth the greatest preachers of history, they would testify that during their earthly life they were babes in the Gospel. Paul Washer

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Service in God's Local Church (Guest Post)

1) The church is a body of people who have received redemption from creation's fall so that the Father would put Jesus' preeminence on display (Col. 1:14-18)

2) Redemption is for the glory of God: The way in which the God delights in and glorifies each Trinitarian member as it pertains to creation/redemption is by the Father electing some and giving them to His Son; the Son laying down His life so that He may save a people for God's own possession who reflect Him; and the Spirit taking the work of Christ and applying it to the elect (Jn. 6:37-65; Eph. 1:3-14; Col. 1:15-22).  According to the eternal covenant, the Father and Son (and, by implication, the Spirit) delighted to do this for their name's sake (Isa. 42:1-8; 49:1-6).

3) Redemption involves restoring image-bearers back into their intended state and condition. The definition of a human being is an image-bearer - particularly, God's image-bearer (Gen. 1:26-27). That image was spoiled by the fall (but not completely destroyed). Redemption involves restoring that image-bearer back into his intended state of fellowship and peace with God and imaging His glory. Because Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), to image God is to image Jesus.

4) Consequently, God's purpose for His church is to conform them to the image of His Son: "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" (Rom. 8:29). Our gathering as a body is toward this purpose: "But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift...to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:7, 12-13). This is why we are given spiritual gifts. 

5) God commands us to joyfully minister to one another (using the grace/spiritual gifts he has given us) for the purpose of building one another up into Christ's likeness/image (All of Paul's epistles; 1 Pet. 4:9-11). 

6) The God-ordained means for doing number 5 is in a local church where all the spiritual gifts come together in unity, and under the authority of the church offices God has established (elders/pastors, deacons) (Eph. 4; 1 Tim. 3:1-15; Tit. 1:5ff). Submitting to and obeying the leaders God has placed in our lives involves coming under their shepherding care as those who have watch over our souls and will have to give an account (Heb. 13:17). 

7) A believer is someone who loves his brothers by laying down his life for his brother in service to him. This is not a first-class Christian; this is a Christian. We do not love merely in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth (1 Jn. 3:10-18).

-Brian Onstead

Monday, February 27, 2012

Gospel-Centered Discipleship

"The gospel is about what Jesus has done to save us, not what we do to save ourselves. Gospel-centered discipleship is about living into our identity as accepted, adopted sons and daughters of God, and following Jesus by the strength and power he provides.

 The discipleship that many of us have experienced is often about self-control, self-reliance, self-righteousness when we "succeed" and self reproach when we "fail." Gospel-centered discipleship is about celebrating and growing into our acceptance, while works-centered discipleship is the ill-fated, soul-sucking, burnout-inducing attempt to earn God's approval." -Stephen Lutz

Gospel Centered Discipleship

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tweets of the Week Part 3

We deserve hell. Everything else is a gift. That's a lot of gifts.  Mark Driscoll

There are no great Christians, only those with faith in a great Savior. Burk Parsons

Nobody has joy like someone who serves something bigger than their own agenda. Lecrae

"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God; and so we are." (1 John 3:1)

There's no one more accepting of our brokenness, patient w/ our faithlessness & present in our helplessness than Jesus. Scotty Smith

Don’t despise the day of small things (like today). In the gathering of the saints there's the big announcement of a king & his conquest! Erik Raymond

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ring The Bells Of Heaven

"'Good Prayers,' says an old divine, 'never come weeping home. I am sure I shall receive either what I ask, or what I should ask. Prayer pulls the rope below, and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly: others give but an occasional pull at the rope: but he who wins with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continually with all his might.' 
That is the best kind of bell ringing--ringing the bells of heaven--making a sensation in the world celestial and pulling the power down upon the world terrestrial. Reader, do you know how to handle the bell rope, to pull it vigorously and constantly? We know some that do. Hell trembles when they seize the rope."

E.M. Bounds

Repost from November 24th, 2010.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tweets of the Week Part 2

I have never regretted the pain of humbling myself. I have regretted the stubbornness of hardening myself. Scotty Smith

Prosperity theology wrongly exalts God's gifts (things we receive from God) above God's glory (the treasure we have in God). David Platt

Obedience is faith made visible. Disobedience is unbelief made visible. Dane Ortlund

We will not have a counter-culture church until we have counter-culture male leadership in the home and in the church. Harry W. Schaumburg

Spirit, shackle me hand and foot to Jesus, so I will be free from the bondage of every stupid thing I have chased after. Jared Wilson

God shows you His love by His unwillingness to allow you satisfaction in anything but Him. Juli Slattery

Friday, February 10, 2012

DVD Review: Courageous

Courageous written by Alex and Stephen Kendrick is a powerful film about the preciousness of life, the consequences of bad choices, the responsibility of fathers, the hope of forgiveness, and the opportunity to glorify God by serving others.

It is action packed throughout with funny and heartbreaking moments that will make you laugh and cry. The main theme is how God works for good in situations that just don't make sense to us.

The targeted audience in this film is fathers. However, everyone should see this, even though the main message is for dads. It is filled with important life lessons that we are all sure to face at some point in our lives.

I'm guessing many of the people that will see this movie are Christians. But I'm praying right now that many non-Christians will see this movie as well.

As the movie repeatedly states, "You must get right with God first, before you do this..." There is no way we can watch this movie and start obeying God on our own. The first step is to admit our sin and trust in Christ. Everything else flows from that. 

I am not a father, but I hope to be one some day. This movie made me think about the weighty responsibilities of being a dad and how hard it is to follow Christ in this sinful world. It dropped me to my knees, helplessly begging God to help me. I believe it will do the same to you!

Thanks to everyone who made this movie possible. And all glory to Jesus Christ! 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tweets of the Week Part 1

From the week of January 29 to February 4.

The Gospel in four words: Christ in my place. 2 Corinthians 5:21 James MacDonald

Nothing can separate us from God's love, tear us from his hand or rip us from his heart. Sleep well, my friends. Scotty Smith

You can't carry your cross and puff up your chest at the same time. Jared Wilson

Gratitude transforms overwhelmed strugglers into triumphant conquerors, even if their circumstances remain unchanged. Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Don't doubt or debate obedience because when you do, you're beginning to believe that life can be found outside of worship of the Creator. Paul Tripp

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Am the Crippled One!

I read a story about a little boy that is a good example of the love of God in Christ for us believers.

The little boy entered a Sunday school contest in reciting Bible verses. This little boy happened to be a cripple, who could hardly walk across the stage to recite the verses he had memorized. As he started to hobble across the stage as best he could, with his terribly humped back, an older boy who had come in off the street thoughtlessly cried out, "Hey, crip, take the pack off your back!" The little boy broke down in tears, and couldn't go on. A man came up out of the audience and stood beside him. He said, "I don't know what kind of a person would make fun of a little crippled boy, but I want to tell you who this boy is. He's my son, and he's got more courage than any of you! And I'm proud of him, because he is mine!" And he picked him up in his arms and walked off the stage.

I am, spiritually speaking, the crippled one! I am a rebel against God. Yet God in Christ has taken me in, he has forgiven me of all my sin. This is encouraging, life-changing, life-giving truth.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Links of the Week

I'm going to try something new here and provide you with some links that will hopefully serve you.

Russell Moore writes an excellent response about how to approach sexual lust.

Jefferson Behethke performs another great poetry video about Sex, Marriage, & Fairytales.

Collin Hansen breaks down the death of Joe Paterno in a compelling way.

Kevin Twit writes about why we still need hymns.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sermon Notes: Gospel Provisions During Trials

Gospel Provisions for Suffering (James 1) Chris Peterson

In the book of James the main theme is the character of saving faith. But faith is not seen in a vacuum. It is seen in the midst of trials and suffering.
It is in the fires of trial that the true character of saving faith comes to life. Faith is realized through trials.

5 divine provisions for suffering
Each provision is underlined with the word “let” (verses 4, 6, 9, 13, 19).

1. Persevering Faith (verses 2-4)
This persevering faith possesses trials and these trials belong specifically to saving faith. In other words, these trials the world knows nothing about. The trials are tested by God and they belong to believers in Christ. Trials test the believer’s dependence. Trials show us where our reliance is.
Genuine faith employs spiritual knowledge in the trial. Faith receives the spiritual data called it “all” (verse 2). It adds spiritual knowledge and receives the sum total= joy in God’s sovereign purpose. Therefore joy is the attitude of resting in God’s sovereignty.

Genuine faith employs experimental knowledge (verse 3). We can know a lot about the glory of God or the gospel, but until we're thrown in the midst of the trial to apply our knowledge, we really don't understand it.

As your faith grows, you need various trials to meet that growing faith.

“It doesn't matter how great the pressure is, it only matters where the pressure lies. See that it never comes between you and the Lord, then the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to his heart.” Hudson Taylor

2. Pure Wisdom (verses 5-8)
We need wisdom to respond appropriately to trials. But this wisdom is supplied by God. If you lack wisdom...and you do... then ask! If we do not ask for wisdom, we will fall into the traps of doubt and double-mindedness (verses 6-8).
Wisdom can be summed up in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Prayer is the gift of God through the work of Jesus Christ. We can come boldly for wisdom because Christ has procured access for us. Jesus fulfilled the royal law by loving God and neighbor perfectly. Then he went to the cross and took the punishment that was required, so that through faith his righteousness is credited to our account and our guilt is credited to his account. And we have full access to the throne of grace,through Jesus Christ, because he has purchased access!

3. Paradoxical Boasting (verses 9-11)
“Let the lowly brother boast (glory) in his exaltation.” What is he boasting in? The gospel (James 2:5). The person in a humble circumstance is treasuring the richness that he has in the promises of the gospel. He is making an exchange or calculation by realizing that his humble condition is not his eternal condition, which is settled in Christ.
The rich also boast. However, they don't boast in their riches, but rather in their humiliation.
They understand that their riches can never get them to heaven, rather it's a gift from God that they are broken over the cross by grace, through faith in Christ Jesus.

4. Perfect Gifts (verses 13-18)
It's the goodness of God that is the promise to do battle with the temptation of sin. The promise of our flesh looks attractive to us, but it comes up empty. The goodness of God, however, is faithful.

5. Planted Word (verses 19-25)
Chris argues that the “royal law” (chapter 2:8) is the great commandment to love God and others. The royal law is contrasted with the law of liberty in verse 12. We have broke the royal law, so we look to the law of liberty for mercy (chapter 2:13) which is the promise of the gospel-faith in Christ Jesus.
James says look at the law of liberty in the midst of trials. How do we get the law of liberty? We believe the gospel and it is credited to us as righteousness (chapter 2:23). Christ provided righteousness for us.
Some characteristics of the word in verses 19-25:
The word has a saving character (1:21).
The word has a liberating character (1:25). The word frees us from sin's deception. We are to be on guard against the wickedness and filthiness of sin.
When we need our eyes clean to see the trial, we need to run to the promise of the gospel.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Paul Tripp Quotes Part 7

If you can't earn God's favor, then you're freed from trying. Now you're free to admit your sin and run to God for the help you need.

Whatever commands your hope will control your heart and what controls your heart will direct your words and behavior.

You and I actually control very little in our lives, that's why the truth of God's sovereign rule over all things is such a comfort.

Today you will be tempted to buy into the delusion that you're smarter than God; that your way is better than his way.

The scary deception of sin is that at the point of sinning, sin doesn't look all that sinful.

As creator and controller of all things, God has a better sense of what you need than you ever will. It's wise to listen to him.

Be warned, it's easier to see your neighbor's need for grace than it is to admit and embrace your own.

I still need to be rescued from me because as long as sin remains I'll be drawn to desire, think, say and do what God names as evil.

Could there be a greater comfort known to man than these six hope-giving words, "Your mercies are new every morning"?

Lasting hope is always found vertically; all the horizontal places you'd look for hope are, like you, broken and groaning for redemption.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Psalm 30: A Field Manual for Praise

Living our lives in this sin cursed world is very often not easy. Life is not a smooth ride, but more like a roller coaster with unexpected bumps and turns. And life is sometimes more difficult for us Christians. Our enemy Satan is after us and wants us.  He will do everything in his power to frustrate us, confuse us, and mock us. Thankfully our loving Savior is in control and is working all things together for our good.

David in Psalm 30 is experiencing his enemies mocking him. For it leads him to cry out to God for help and deliverance,  "O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me" (Psalm 30:2). David cries out to his God in prayer and God is faithful to deliver him. I love the expression of David crying out to God in prayer. It points to his desperation, faith, and brokenness before God. This verse therefore tell us much about how we ought to approach God in our prayers.

But David did not just move on after God answered his prayers. No. He then gives us a weighty exhortation to praise our glorious God. "Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name" (Psalm 30:4). I love this. It makes perfect sense. Praise humbles us and gives the glory to God alone.

Towards the end of the Psalm David basically extends the praise and opens it up a bit. "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!" (Psalm 30:11-12)

We can to. We most definitely can when we think of the infinite kindness of our God giving us his precious son Jesus. I think the description of David's mourning into dancing is a perfect description of what our response is to the gospel.

Our own sin left us miserable. We had no way out, because we didn't want to get out. We wanted our own way. Yet God rescued us. He raised us to new life in Christ!! We discover how much we need Jesus, we cling to him, and treasure him as supreme! The gospel and only the gospel leads us to dance with infinite joy, praise, and thanksgiving! Do that now.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Passion 2012: Sermon Notes from John Piper's Message

I never expected to take notes from the Passion 2012 conference, because I didn't even know it was going on until I saw it pop up on my Twitter account! I read that 45,000 students packed the Georgia dome and was excited for sure. And then I heard that John Piper was speaking in one of the night sessions; it made me even more excited. Thanks to the team at Passion for being willing to show parts of this great conference.

This sermon is one of the best I've heard in a long time. Of course I would highly recommend that you listen to it or watch it (not sure if its still available to watch). I hope and pray that this will help you. Listening and taking notes in this sermon has certainty been a great exercise for me and I praise God for that.  

Main point: Seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus Christ frees you from the slavery of sin for the sacrifices of love.

Step 1: Saving Faith: Seeing, Savoring, and Believing
Piper sees that saving faith is seeing and savoring Jesus and being satisfied in all that God is for you in Jesus. Therefore, when you see and savor Jesus, when you are satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus, and when you believe Jesus (saving faith) you outwardly are set free from the slavery of sin and the sacrifices of love.

The root of your salvation glorifies God privately (seeing and savoring, being satisfied, and trusting Jesus) and the fruit of your salvation glorifies God publically (slavery of sin and sacrifices of love).

The first verse he gives for proof of his main point is John 6:35: “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Coming to Jesus and believing in Jesus are parallel statements meant to interpret each other. The bread and the water are both images of Jesus. So, believing in Jesus is a soul coming to Jesus to be satisfied in all that he is!

Next verse is John 1:12, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Receiving Jesus and believing in Jesus are the same. Receiving or believing Jesus means you see what he is, you want him, and you embrace him! You say yes, yes, yes!

Remember Piper is proving his definition of saving faith from the Bible.

The last verse is Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he is and that he rewards those who seek him.”

The only way to please God is by believing. And he (the writer) unpacks what he means by believing. The believing heart says you are my reward! You are the treasure of my life! Faith is childlike, needy, and hungry. It is a desperate response to glory.

The fact that seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus, being satisfied in all that God is for you in Jesus, and trusting Jesus are equivalent realities is striking and threatening.

It means coming to faith in Jesus requires a resurrection from the dead. You don’t by nature see and savor him. You aren’t satisfied in all that he is for you, and you do not by nature trust him.

Conversion or saving faith is a gift of seeing and savoring! It is morally impossible for someone who is in love with darkness to walk into the light. The new birth awakens us from our deadness to treasure Jesus.

Romans 6:17-18, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart, having been set free from sin, having become slaves of righteousness.”

Having saving faith does NOT mean you won’t struggle in this life. But in heaven there will be no struggle to obey. We will all the way slaves of righteousness and the freest people in the universe!

Step 2: The supremacy of Jesus Christ.
Here Piper sets out to help us SEE so we can SAVOR the supremacy of Jesus by proclaiming who he is and why we should trust him. (Note: I did not include every aspect of what Piper talked about, otherwise it would have been too long.)

The supremacy of his eternality: Jesus Christ never had a beginning. He always was.

The supremacy of his knowledge: That makes all the information on the internet look like a 1940’s farmer’s almanac.

The supremacy of his authority: Without his permission nobody can move one inch. He puts up kings and puts down kings.

The supremacy of his providence: Without him not a single bird falls to the ground anywhere in the world, including the deepest darkest jungle of the Amazon forest.

The supremacy of his power: To walk on water, to open the eyes of the blind, the storms to cease, and the dead to rise with a single word of his power.

The supremacy of his justice: He will render in due time all moral accounts settled either on the cross or in hell.

The supremacy of his patience: To endure my dullness and your dullness decade after decade. And hold back his final judgment on every land so that many can repent.

The supremacy of his sovereign servant obedience: He kept the father’s commandments perfectly. And then he embraced the pain of the cross willingly.

The supremacy of his grace: He gives life to the spiritually dead. He awakens faith in hell-bound haters of God. He justifies the ungodly with his own righteousness.

The supremacy of his love: He willingly dies for sinners while we were against him, that we might have ever-increasing joy in making much of him forever.

He is supreme in every admirable way over everything.
“There is not ONE square inch on this planet where Jesus Christ does not say, mine!”
Oh, that God would grant you to see and savor the supremacy of Jesus.

Step 3: Seeing and Savoring the Supremacy of Jesus Christ frees from sin.
2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”

Beholding (seeing, savoring) the glory of the Lord (supreme, glorious) seeing that you are changed!! This verse says, if I could just see with the eyes of my heart I would be changed.

Little hearts give little lusts big power. Big hearts give little lusts little power. You have to see! Your heart has to get bigger and bigger so that this little temptation looks like the stupid, suicidal, insane little monster it is!

If you see and savor the supremacy of Jesus Christ you will be progressively freed from the bondage and slavery of sin.

Step 4: You will be freed from the sacrifices of love.

"For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one." Hebrews 10:34

What is it that frees you to take risks with your life for the sake of others?

You look up to Jesus, heaven, your inheritance, an eternity of everlasting and ever-increasing joy, and you say that is enough! I don’t need it now. I’ve got it there and I’m going here now. That is how sacrifices are freed by being satisfied in Jesus.

Closing: Isaiah 26:8, “Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”

It takes a miracle for a desire to be born for a supernatural reality that you can’t see.
May God Almighty make the supremacy of the name of Jesus and the supremacy of the renown of Jesus be your sight, savor, satisfaction, desire, and trust.