If I'm accepted in Christ, why do good?

Yesterday I got to see Tullian Tchvidjian preach at Southern Seminary. I love his focus on the gospel of grace. Toward the end of his message he asked an interesting question: If Christ accepts me based on his righteousness and not mine, then what is my motivation to do good? In other words, if I have a great day, I'm accepted, if I have a bad day, I'm accepted. So why do good? He answered the question with a quote from Spurgeon:

When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so, and sought my good.

In other words, the deeper I go into the gospel, the greater my motivation toward obedience. I encourage you to watch this message and be amazed again at God's grace for desperate sinners like you and me.

God Never Makes a False Assignment

Paul Tripp on passivity and God's calling:

God knows that in ourselves we are not up to the tasks he calls us to, but he never makes a false assignment. When he sends us we are sent as instruments in his almighty hands. He is the one who creates the change. He is the great Restorer. He never calls us to what we cannot accomplish in him, but he always calls us to what we could never accomplish without him.

Read the whole thing ...

The Principle of Prepared Spontaneity

Paul Tripp with a great post on wisdom and what he calls the principle of prepared spontaneity:

People become wise when by God’s grace they are humble enough to accept how unprepared they actually are in themselves. Sacrificing the false god of their own independence, they run to the one place where actual certainty can be found. Then they’re able to live hopefully, productively, and courageously. Then they’re prepared for whatever comes along—not because they saw it coming, but because they’ve been students of the Word of God. They don’t know more about the future than anyone else does. But God, through the wisdom of the Bible, has made them ready for it.

In one sense, this is the secret of “going with the flow” that many people think they are pursuing. In the light of Scripture, however, the nature of all that going and flowing is completely different. It isn’t passive. Its grounded in truth, it understands the real nature of this existence, and its active and attentive.

I call this the principle of prepared spontaneity.  (Read the whole thing ...)

Grieving the Holy Spirit is Like a Withdrawn Wife

What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit? Albert Martin, in his book, Preaching in the Holy Spirit, offers a helpful analogy:

[The Holy Spirit] does not withdraw as to His indwelling. Those whom He indwells are said to be "sealed unto the day of redemption." But if He is grieved, He generally withdraws His free operation in the same way that your wife, when grieved by your boorishness or insensitivity, withdraws her normal attitude and expression of openness or transparency, her free flow of expressed affection. She does not pull her wedding ring off her finger and throw it out the window, although there may be times when she is tempted to do so. No, she meant the vows that she took when she said, "till death do us part," but an aggrieved wife becomes a withdrawn wife. Therefore, we must not grieve the Holy Spirit.

You Should Sing More

This morning I met with a small group of pastors. At one point I asked the question, "What do you do to regularly refresh yourself in the Lord?" The first response was an honest one. "I don't know. But I'm ready to write down any good answers from the rest of you." Then our worship pastor chimed in and said something that made a lot of sense. He said, "I like to sing throughout the day and just meditate on the words of those songs." He talked about singing and repeating simple choruses as a way of reminding himself of the gospel. I liked his idea a lot. It reminded me of Joe Thorn's words in his book, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself:

People sing about the things that capture their hearts and things that give them joy. People sing of heroes, victory, longing, and hope. People even sing as a way to express their sorrow. Does anyone have more reasons to sing than you? As a sinner who has been forgiven, a slave who has been freed, a blind man who has received sight, a spiritual cripple who has been healed--all by the gospel-you have real reasons to be known as a person of song!

I'm curious. What do you do to regularly refresh yourself in the Lord? I'd love to hear from you.

No One Shapes Generations More than Mothers

Here’s a shout out to all you moms who might think you're not making a difference in this world:

Who can measure the long-term effects of nurturing helpless infants, supervising wandering toddlers, discipling self-willed children, and counseling self-absorbed adolescents? Of family outings planned, traditions built, memories made, books read, songs sung, Scripture taught? That’s why motherhood belongs under the heading, “Engage the World”; no one shapes generations or fashions cultures more than mothers.

~ Jeff Purswell, Worldliness, (edited by C.J. Mahaney, p. 159).

Feeling Weak and Inadequate? Perfect.

Dane Ortlund:

Do you know yourself to be weak? Inadequate? Not up to snuff in intellect, family background, educational opportunities, financial resources?

Get ready.

You are just the kind of person God loves to use. The power of God—power to kill sin, power to walk in the fullness of the Spirit, power to speak courageously on the job, power to love the unlovely, power to lead many to Christ, power to make your life count—such power is for inadequate people.

Acknowledge your frailty to God. Look to the Savior. He embraced the weakness of the cross so that you and I, weak sinners, can experience the blood-bought power of God—now.

Read the whole article on Finding Strength in Your Weakness

Parenting is a Call to Abandon our Independence

Tim Keller, from his new book, King’s Cross:

The only way that your children will grow beyond their dependency into self-sufficient adults is for you to essentially abandon your own independence for twenty years or so…You can make the sacrifice, or they’re going to make the sacrifice. It’s them or you. Either you suffer temporarily and in a redemptive way, or they’re going to suffer tragically, in a wasteful and destructive way.

(HT: Justin Buzzard)

Our Only Hope in Overcoming Idols

Michael Wallenmeyer:

I have learned in my own life and by watching others that asking people to give up their idols without filling up on the life of Jesus Christ may make them religious but it will also make them miserable (and miserable to be around). Instead, the gospel is calling us to fill up our hearts, our lives with a passionate love for Jesus Christ and this in turn will minimize the power of lesser pleasures (idols) in our lives.

How does this impact the way we teach, preach, and do discipleship? How does this change the way we counsel one another? How does this change the way we disciple our own children? Your thoughts?

It Starts with Dads

Timothy Witmer from his book, Shepherd Leader:

What better way to multiply the personal ministry of the word than by equipping dads to pray and read the Scriptures with their families.  Note that Baxter suggests that we “give them an example.”  How many of our families would be well fed if we merely gave some simple suggestions to their shepherds?

“Get masters of families to do their duty, and they will not only spare you a great deal of labour, but will much further the success of your labours.  If a captain can get the officers under him to do their duty, he may rule the soldiers with much less trouble, than if all lay upon his own shoulders.  You are not like to see any general reformation, till you procure family reformation” (RichardBaxter, Reformed Pastor (1656; repr., Carslisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1997), 102).

In doing this you are not only multiplying the ministry of the Word among your people but helping fathers fulfill their God-given responsibilities.  Undoubtedly, many elders will have to repent of their neglecting this duty themselves in order to proceed with a clear conscience.  This is progress, too, and a great place to start!

(HT: Jared Kennedy)

Seeing God's Face Before Anyone Else's

Whether you're a morning person or a night person, there's something to be said about giving your eyes the habit of looking upward from the minute you wake up. As John Piper said, "it's not about legalism, it's about desperation!" Here's one snippet of his message on Robert Murry McCheyne:

McCheyne's scheduled disciplines aimed at fixing the habit in his heart of living in constant communion with Christ. He had formed the habit of rising early to read the Scriptures and pray, and he tried to maintain this to the end of his life. He loved to meet Jesus early. He journaled, "Rose early to seek God and found him whom my soul loveth. Who would not rise early to meet such company?" He wrote to a student, "Never see the face of man till you have seen his face who is our life, our all." Or in another place, he said, "I cannot begin my work for I have not seen the face of God."

Are You Developing Leaders?

Matt Perman gives a few key points from John Kotter’s classic article “What Leaders Really Do“:

Successful organizations don’t wait for leaders to come along. They actively seek out people with leadership potential and expose them to career experiences designed to develop that potential.


Organizations that do a better-than-average job of developing leaders put an emphasis on creating challenging opportunities for relatively young employees. In many organizations, decentralization is the key.

In other words: Be intentional about identifying and developing leaders. And you need to do this with young people, rather than thinking that nobody can do anything significant until they’re 40.

One more point from the article:

Institutionalizing a leadership-centered culture is the ultimate act of leadership.

Robert Murray M'Cheyne Quotes

As I get ready to leave for the Desiring God Pastor's Conference on Prayer, I'll leave you with these quotes by Robert Murray M'Cheyne. John Piper will do a biographical message on his life on Tuesday afternoon. Should be good. Thanks again for your prayers. I'll be back on Wednesday. "A man is what he is on his knees before God, and nothing more."

"For every look at self, take ten looks at Christ."

"The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness."

"Live near to God, and all things will appear little to you in comparison with eternal realities."

Jesus is the Answer to All Our Fears

Dave Door: Our top 5 greatest fears (adapted from Marcus Buckingham):

  1. The Fear of Death — we have a need for security
  2. The Fear of Being Alone — we have a need for community
  3. The Fear of the Future — we have a need for clarity
  4. The Fear of Chaos — we have a need for authority
  5. The Fear of Insignificance —  we have a need for respect

If we examine those five fears with the eyes of faith, we can see Jesus is the answer to them all:

  1. He is our security, even in death, because Jesus took away condemnation in death.
  2. He is our community — he promises never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)
  3. He is our future — he controls the future and has prepared a place for us
  4. He is our authority — all authority on heaven and earth is his (Matthew 28:18). He is accomplishing all things according to his plan.
  5. He is our significance — Jesus alone validates and justifies our life.

Read the whole thing ...

What good does it do to pray?

Desiring God recently interviewed Paul Miller, author of A Praying Life, and asked him to describe the problem of cynicism in prayer, and what is his advice to those who are struggling with it?

Cynicism is my biggest struggle in prayer. It is a quiet, cold rationalism that dulls the soul and just kills your walk with God. It is hard to even identify or name our cynicism because it just feels like being realistic. It says things like, “What good does it [prayer] do?” or “It [the answer to prayer] would have happened anyway.”

I think we are particularly susceptible to cynicism in the Reformed world because we are an intellectual world. We are rightly concerned about our ideas being correct, but we don’t always pay attention to our heart being correct.

I think without a doubt that the principal cure for cynicism is to become a little child and learn to cry out for help—to realize that I am a lost coin, a lost sheep, and a lost son.

One other cure for cynicism is purity of life. Any time there is a miss between how we present ourselves as Christians and what we are really like when no one is watching, that opens up a door for cynicism. So a lifestyle of repentance and confession goes a long way to cure cynicism.

Before you Launch into Your New Year's Resolutions ...

As we launch into this new year I was reminded of a quote from a movie I watched awhile back called, "Faith Like Potatoes." This was the one line from the movie that stuck with me and challenged me greatly:

"We're not doing things and asking God to bless it. We're asking God what we should do, and then He provides. There is a difference."

I like that.  It reminds me to pray and live in a posture of complete surrender to an all sufficient, wise God.

Oh, the Wonder of Christmas

“Infinite, and an infant. Eternal, and yet born of a woman. Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast. Supporting a universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms. King of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph. Heir of all things, and yet the carpenter’s despised son. Oh, the wonder of Christmas.”

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)

(HT: A Voice Crying Out)