Friday, August 21, 2009

Sweet? Sweet to trust in Jesus?

This hymn came to my mind this morning during my quiet time. At first I was irritated because the word "sweet" is too ‘saccharine’ to my ears (pardon the pun!). It doesn't resonate with me.

But I realized this is because "sweet" is like so many other words that have changed their meaning over time. So I turned to the dictionary for some help. Merriam-Webster offers several options, but these two synonyms for "sweet" instantly stood out to me: gratifying and dear.

So even though it is not always happy-go-lucky to "trust in Jesus" (for some Christians it is never this way), it is gratifying because nothing else in the universe can satisfy; and it is dear because Christians have been tied to Jesus as family "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are" (1 Jn 3.1). I pray these words encourage today you to cling tenaciously to the truth of Jesus Christ slain for sinners.

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Surely stuff like that doesn't happen anymore...

The White Horse Inn Blog posts this story (with permission) from Elam ministries about 2 persecuted Christian women in Iran. It's moving and powerful. Here is the kind of thing they are enduring while in prison for their faith:
Both women are back in Evin prison tonight. During their five-month ordeal, both have been unwell and have lost much weight. Marzieh is in pain due to an on-going problem with her spine, as well as an infected tooth and intense headaches. She desperately needs medical attention. Two months ago the prison officials told her the prison had proper medical equipment and that they will attend to her, but so far no proper treatment has been given.
I encourage you to read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Memorize Scripture? Say goodbye to some excuses...

Check out the Crossway Blog where they introduce the Verse Card Maker. Honestly, I haven't even looked at it yet, and I'm still very excited. Here is the description:
[The] website takes a list of references and automatically fetches the texts, formatting them into business card sized cards for easy printing.
In my mind this is a major hurdle that has been bounded in the memorization of Scripture. Excuses beware!

HT: Justin Taylor

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Packer part 2

Where does prayer come from? [Who thought it up?] Why do I often not pray at all, but I always feel that I should?

I think one answer that J. I. Packer might give is this:
“It is not too much to say that God made us to pray, that prayer is (not the easiest, but) the most natural activity in which we ever engage, and that prayer is the measure of us all in God’s sight.” (Emphasis added)
Prayer is at least communicating with God. And any genuine communication is two way. Thus when we long to pray we are seeking to fulfill that innate desire to receive and respond to revelation. The great catastrophe of the human fall into sin (see Genesis 3) is that it was a failure to "take God at his word." What he had promised to Adam and Eve was revelation: of truth, of beauty, of Himself. When we pray we say, "Lord, show me who you are and why that matters in my life right now." God's revelation to us in 2009 is through his Son and through his Word. So we must let the Bible hold our prayers by the hand, guiding us along, taking us to where we need to go, i.e., to the Triune God himself.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Debt as Investment: Is it Wise?

Check out this fascinating post at The Personal MBA about debt. I think his perspective is helpful, particularly the following concept:
The easiest way to stay out of debt is to avoid taking it on in the first place. Here’s a useful rule of thumb that’ll keep you out of trouble: if it’s not going to help you make more money within the next 3 months, don’t take on debt to buy it. That goes for everything from household goods to movie tickets.
I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Know God, Hate Sin

“Let us, then, revive the use and intendment of this consideration: Will not a due apprehension of this inconceivable greatness of God, and that infinite distance wherein we stand from him, fill the soul with a holy and awful fear of him, so as to keep it in a frame unsuited to the thriving or flourishing of any lust whatever?” (Emphasis added).

-John Owen, On the Mortification of Sin in Believers

In other words, as we increase in our knowledge of God (primarily through our knowledge of Jesus Christ and all that he has done), we will decrease in our desire to let all kinds of sin run rampant in our lives: fear, hatred, anger, impatience, and on and on.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Walk Through "Praying the Lord's Prayer" by J. I. Packer

I recently finished "Praying the Lord's Prayer" and thought it would be useful to walk through some of the more helpful quotes from the book over the next few days. My aim is simply to spark some new thoughts on prayer: the whys, whats, and hows. I will pose a question (either my own or one directly from Packer's book), and present the quotes as answers to these questions, perhaps with some of my own reflection. I'll start with a doozie.

Why is prayer sometimes the hardest thing in the world for a Christian to do?

Here's one possible answer:
People feel a problem about prayer because of the muddle they are in about God. If you are uncertain whether God exists, or whether he is personal, or good, or in control of things, or concerned about ordinary folk like you and me, you are bound to conclude that praying is pretty pointless, not to say trivial, and then you won’t do it" (p13).

The knowledge of who God is and what he is like is right at the heart of prayer. Only a proper perspective, one shaped by the truth of Scripture, will compel us to commune with God in prayer. The Psalms are a great place to start to have your knowledge of God shaped into the right mold.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why is it so hard to get things done?

The moving in process has taken much longer than I ever thought it would. But we're getting there...and then we've got a baby coming within a couple of weeks! God is good and patient and kind to us.

Matt Perman posted this a few weeks ago. It gets at the heart of what makes being good stewards of our time so difficult. It's David Allen's brief summary of what drives his Getting Things Done system:
I’ve given numerous “drive-by” radio and TV interviews, the type that give you about fifty-three seconds…. They’ve forced me to distill my message to the bare essentials. A typical question is, “David, what’s the one thing we do that gets in the way of being productive?” Here’s my answer:

“It’s not one thing but five things all wrapped together: People keep stuff in their head. They don’t decide what they need to do about stuff they know they need to do something about. They don’t organize action reminders and support materials in functional categories. They don’t maintain and review a complete and objective inventory of their commitments. Then they waste energy and burn out, allowing their busyness to be driven by what’s latest and loudest, hoping it’s the right thing to do but never feeling the relief that it is.”