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Real Reality TV June 30, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

This DVD from Voice of the Martyrs looks like a great investment.  So much of the ‘reality’ TV is garbage, and anything but real.  But this video is a real life look at several teenagers’ attempt to smuggle Bibles into Vietnam, and the challenges they faced in trying to serve their Vietnamese brothers and sisters.

Larry

Good Stuff from Nine Marks June 29, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

It’s not at all surprising to me that the new Nine Marks blog has already got some pretty good stuff on it.

Mark Dever has begun a ten part series on surge of interest in Calvinistic theology.

Aaron Menikoff brought encouragement to my soul with a quote from Samuel Stillman on success (or the lack of) in ministry.

And Mike Gilbart-Smith challenged me on the making sure my sermons are truly Christian.

Larry

When the Bible is Boring June 29, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

Still hoping to respond to your post yesterday on business and the glory of God, but for now I wanted to point you and our readers to a cool post from Abraham Piper on the Desiring God blog on when the Bible is boring.  No doubt you have read certain portions of the Old Testament and wondered, ‘Why is this in the Bible?’  How are the endless genealogies and divisions of land intended to give us hope in Christ?

Piper’s short words are an encouragement to those who may be feeling dry as they read the Old Testament.

Larry

The Quotable Jesus June 29, 2007

Posted by Joe in Scripture Meditation.
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“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

Much could be said about these verses. That is for sure. However, the last line always stands out to me, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Imagine that final day, Lar. How many will come before the King of kings thinking about all their good works, congratulating themselves to a certain extent on a life well lived, only to hear Jesus tell them to depart. I wonder, do we really see things as they are? Or do we at least try?

Too often I believe we are prone to view life on the surface. Or an inch below the surface–and then we convince ourselves that we are really thinking deep. But the Bible points us deeper or further. It shows us what will take place on the final day and the way in which we are called to think and live now. It shows us who God is and what He has revealed, so that our minds might be renewed and our eyes see as they ought to see. O how we need new eyes brother! Eyes to see and ears to hear few have. I don’t want to be among them. I don’t want to view life only on the surface of things, but to look deeper, knowing that I will make mistakes, but also realizing that that is the only way to learn. Live hard, fall hard, and trust the Lord for His grace. That’s all I’ve got to a certain extent.

May the Lord grant us the grace to be faithful now, so that we might see a smile from Jesus then.

Seeking first the kingdom with you,
Joe

The Gospel Coalition June 28, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

Still struggling to find time to blog, but I appreciate your keeping things rolling over the last couple of days with some important topics. I hope to get a few minutes to respond in some depth to your post this morning on business and the glory of God. I know you have been beating that drum for some time now, and God has recently been showing me some similar things. So I hope I can share some of that tomorrow.

But for now, here’s another good resource that you might want to add to our sidebar: The Gospel Coalition has launched their website, which is full of good articles and audio and video from the plenary sessions of their recent conference. Check it out when you have a chance.

Larry

Business for the Glory of God June 28, 2007

Posted by Joe in Quotes.
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Lar,

I just finished a great book this morning. It’s small, but a ‘must read’ (in my opinion) for virtually every Christian. The book? Wayne Grudem’s Business for the Glory of God. You will enjoy it. Here is a quote from his final chapter.

“But how should we remember the poor? How should we open our hearts to our brother in need? A short-term solution is to give food and clothing to the poor, and that is certainly right. But it is no long-term solution, for the food is soon eaten and the clothing wears out.

I believe the only lont-term solution to world poverty is business. That is because businesses produce goods, and businesses produce jobs. And businesses continue producing goods year after year, and continue providing jobs and paying wages year after year. Therefore if we are ever going to see long-term solutions to world poverty, I believe it will come through starting and maintaining productive, profitable businesses.”

He says much more throughout the books, of course, but I am quite confident that you will wholeheartedly agree with his statement after reading the book. I believe he is right in saying that Christians today often have a negative outlook on business. Well, maybe not a negative one, but at least we think that business is somehow neutral. We fail to realize that is good and a wonderful opportunity to reflect and bring glory to our God. O how desperate we are for a transformed worldview Lar! Let’s continue to labor, so that we might see as we ought to see for the sake of His name!

Making money to spend, give, and save to His glory,
Joe

Beholding our Disfigurement June 27, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Quotes.
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Joe,

Thanks for posting that video; you were right that it is hard stuff to watch, but something that we need to be reminded of.  As I watched, I was reminded of this quote that I read the other day from John Calvin:

“When we behold the disfigurement of the Son of God, when we find ourselves appalled by his marred appearance, we need to reckon afresh that it is upon ourselves we gaze, for he stood in our place.” 

Watching that video, I was reminded of two things.  First, how sick and marred I am.  For you were right, apart from God’s sovereign grace, I would be the one ‘preaching’, or laughing aloud.  Watching that video reminded me of how corrupt I really am.

And second, it reminded me of what a great Savior we have, who is able to transform rebels like that into passionate worshipers of the risen of Christ.

Thanks for the reminder,

Larry

The Depravity of Man June 27, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links, Random Musings.
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Lar,

You asked me the other day about resources to help someone more adequately understand the depravity of man. Well, the other day I came across a video that, in my opinion, speaks about as clear to the depravity of man as anything I have ever seen. And as I was reading Psalm 119 this morning I felt compelled to share it, for I read, “My eyes shed streams of tears because people do not keep your law.”

The video is of a man at a rally for Atheists in our capital city. He, along with some others apparently, have a website that is designed to mock Christianity and thus, mock God. Well, at this rally, he did just that. He was ‘preaching’ (in a so-called comedic way) and the arrogance in his words and in the laughs of the people in the crowd serve as clear evidence for the depravity of man. Hearts are very hard brother. And lest we view this video and get angry, let us be careful to remember that, apart from the grace of God, we would be the man speaking, or the people laughing–or the soldiers who mocked and spit upon and beat the Lord Jesus Christ.

I do not shed tears nearly enough, particularly over the hardness of the human heart. But maybe, just maybe, that is because I don’t take enough time to think about our great sin, to really look it in the eye and face up to our depravity. Though I was really offended by this video, I was made to face up to our great sin (and to all that I could be apart from Jesus). I was also led to mourn. And that is a good place to be. Romans 1 is real Lar. You know that, of course. So also is Romans 3. God is not pleased with the human race precisely because we have set ourselves up as little gods, pseudo-sovereigns as it were. Yet He continues to reach out in love and point us to the ultimate act of love through the gospel. If you choose to take 8 minutes to view this video, be prepared to be offended and to mourn and to pray for the Lord to usher in His kingdom and fill the earth with the knowledge of His glory. For only then will all things be might be made right again.

It could be us Lar. It could be us. We could be the ones blaspheming the name of God in front of crowds and all over the Internet. But God stepped in! In mercy, He set us apart. He gave us eyes to see and ears to hear, though we were nothing more than rebellious, God-belittling sinners. May our lives be inundated with humble rejoicing.

Thankful for His sovereign grace,
Joe

Sale Reminder June 26, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

In this post, John Piper (humorously) weighs in with his thoughts on DG’s two-day sale on all Piper books, which is tomorrow and Thursday.

Tuesday Morning Prayer June 26, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Prayer.
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Who made me to know You, but You
When dead in sin You gave me new life
Now my heart is filled with love for You, Jesus

Father, thank You for Your Spirit’s work in me
For opening my eyes to the Christ of Calvary
Jesus, You gave Your life in exchange for mine
Now I will live for You who died, Jesus

You placed a crown of grace on my head
You covered me in robes of righteousness
Forever I will always be Yours, Jesus

Words and music by Pat Sczebel
As recorded on Valley of Vision

Redemption, Restoration June 25, 2007

Posted by Joe in Quotes, Random Musings.
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Lar,

Here is another quote from Richard Pratt, Jr.

“Something much more spectacular than the salvation of our souls is waiting at the end of the road to dignity. Our full restoration will be accompanied by a renewal of the whole creation. The universe fell under God’s curse when Adam and Even sinned. The wondrous creation was subjected to futility and decay, but not without hope for a brighter future. When Christ returns and recues us from the curse of death, he will also dramatically renew everything else in God’s creation: the mountains and valleys, the deserts and seas, the plants and animals. Our solar system, the galaxy, and even the entire universe will be restored to their original splendor. Harmony will replace discord. Beauty will replace decay and destruction. Then comes the most astounding part of it all. All of this new creation, every square inch of it, will be placed beneath our feet forever. ‘The meek,’ Jesus said, ‘will inherit the earth’ (Matt. 5:5).”

This reality is surely a glorious one, but the sad thing is that it is largely unknown by many in the church. How many Christians really operate with this kind of worldview? How many of us really know that this is the end that the Lord has in mind? And how many teachers are pointing them to this great goal week after week?

The reason these questions are vital is because our understanding of the end radically informs the decisions we make here and now. Our understanding of God’s redemptive work–particularly where it has been and where it is headed–dictates our actions here and now whether we realize it or not. Too often we make the salvation of souls the end goal of redemption, but we fail to see that the salvation of souls is the means through which the entire universe is transformed. “The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” Why does the creation long like this? Because it longs for its full restoration. And it isn’t under the sons of God are fully redeemed and revealed that the creation will get what it longs for.

Our doctrine of personal salvation should be sound. Yet our doctrine of universal redemption (meaning the whole cosmos, not every individual person)must also been sound. For without this grant vision of what God is doing in the world (and not simply in individual lives), the vision of the church shrivels up, becomes consumed with her own activities, and fails to make a radical difference in every sphere of life. It is not an overstatement to say that we as a people must keep God’s end goal in mind if we are ever to work faithfully and fruitfully to His glory here and now. For when we really understand how it is all going to end, we then begin to see clearly how we can work now to bring that end about. O may the Lord make us people of such vision!

Hastening the day with you,
Joe

Romans 8:28 June 25, 2007

Posted by Joe in Quotes.
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Hey Lar,

Commenting on this verse, Richard Pratt, Jr. writes,

“Think of it this way. God calls us to troubles as surgeons invite us to their operating tables. Their knives inflict terrible pain. No sane person enjoys the ordeal of surgery. To deny the anguish is to lie. Nonetheless, we voluntarily submit to the knife. Why? We allow them to cut because the pain will bring about better health in the future.”

May the Lord grant us the grace to keep the goal of good in mind–always.

Seeking the grace to believe,
Joe

Monday Morning Prayer June 25, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Prayer.
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34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39)

Help us, Father, to love You more than even our best gifts on earth.  Nothing is more precious in this world than our earthly families, but whoever loves family more than You is not worthy of You.  The gate is narrow that leads to life, and only few find it.  Guard us from veiling the truth about You for the sake of keeping peace in our families, for You came not to bring peace, but a sword.  Nevertheless, may we display a humility, tenderness, patience and love with the lost so that our character would not nullify the truth that we proclaim.  Use us, O God, as instruments of Your glory by carrying our cross today, knowing that ‘to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’

Sunday Morning Prayer June 24, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Prayer.
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Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?

Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

Psalm 43

Another Good Quote June 23, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links, Quotes.
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Lar,

I was catching up on Justin Taylor’s blog and came across yet another good quote. Here it is.

Later,
Joe

Great Quote June 23, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links, Quotes.
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Lar,

Here is a good quote from Jerry’ Bridges.

Until later,
Joe

Marveling at His Providence June 22, 2007

Posted by Joe in Random Musings.
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Lar,

That is cool. I know you don’t have any clear answers regarding what to do with such a gift, but as you pointed out, the simple message of God’s faithfulness and His perfect timing are enough to make us marvel and rejoice. In particular, I love to reflect upon the Lord’s providential guidance, and the way He uses even our mistakes for our good and His glory.

I wonder, do we reflect upon this enough? If Romans 8:28 is true, that God is working all things out for our good, it seems wise to me to periodically reflect upon the things the Lord has done. Maybe even every few months, we set aside some times (even if just a few minutes) to note God’s particular and obvious providences. I say obvious, because the obvious ones are usually the only ones we can see. However, a record of those providences (particularly a written record) would go a long way to stimulating further thought and reflection and hopefully, greater marveling.

Imgaine it brother, every single detail of life is ordered by our sovereign and gracious God. Every detail! Our every encounter is a divine appointment. And though we know that that reality does not mean we should take no responsibility for our schedules, it does mean that we can rest when our schedules do not work out according to plan (which is everyday it seems!). What a joy it is to know that He has His sovereign and gracious hand upon us. He has a vision for our lives and He knows exactly how He is going to bring it to pass. And He has the power to carry it out with perfect precision! He is faithful brother. He is diligent. He is wise. He is sovereign. He is good.

I sometimes wonder how I ever made it through one day without the knowledge of these realities. For everything else is shifting sand. No security when the waves and winds begin to blow–or when the normal ‘random’ occurences of life happen. What a comfort it is to know that God’s promise to work all things out for our good and His glory is a resounding ‘Yes’ through Jesus Christ!

Let’s rejoice brother and give thanks for our awesome God. And let’s continually marvel more and more at His wise and gracious providence.

Seeking Him with you,
Joe

Sweet Providence June 22, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.
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Joe,

This morning I received two pieces of mail. The first was an invitation to the 2007 Desiring God National Conference. A few months ago Michelle and I had briefly talked about going out to Minneapolis, as the last conference we went to out there was back in 2004. But with our baby due in July, we thought this might not be an ideal time to go, especially because of the finances in going on such a trip. Michelle will be staying at home now, and so it may not be the best time to take a trip.

Well, when I got the invitation in the mail that desire to head out there for a few days came back to me. I knew if God wanted us there, He would find a way to get us there.

So I opened the second piece of mail, which came to us without a return address. I opened it and inside was a piece of paper that read:

Dear Larry, Michelle and Baby,

Enjoy, be blessed, and know that your work is appreciated.

Enclosed with the piece of paper was an anonymous check for $1,000.

I haven’t bought our plane tickets or anything, but I wonder if that is God’s way of saying, ‘Enjoy a few days in Minneapolis. You don’t deserve it, but I am a God who is gracious and merciful, and I supply My children with all that they need, and more.’

Humbled by God’s faithfulness,

Larry

Kauflin on Worship Songs June 22, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

As you can probably imagine, I’m a bit behind today on sermon prep!  So again I link to another valuable blog that I have linked to before, and am sure to link to again many times in the future.  Bob Kauflin writes in this post about the content of our worship songs, specifically songs with a strong focus on ‘I’ and ‘me’.

After my trip to the Sovereign Grace leadership conference, I hold Bob’s thoughts on the subject of worship in high esteem.  His humility and joy in the Lord were a great encouragement to me.

Larry

Friday Morning Prayer June 22, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Prayer.
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As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me;
heal me, for I have sinned against you!” (Psalm 41:4)

So often, Father, we do not cry out like this for Your grace, because we do not know the depths of our own sin.  Help us this day, to see sin for what it is: infinitely ugly and offense to Your holy nature.  Reveal to us our hidden iniquities, and open our eyes to the wonderful provision You have made for all of our sins to be wiped away by the Cross of our Lord Jesus.  And having received that forgiving grace, may Your grace also transform our desires and joys so that we kill the sin that is remaining in us.