Monthly Archives: December 2009

Joy to the World

I know I’m gonna catch grief for posting another Sufjan song, but here’s Mr. Stevens with “Joy to the World.”

Enjoy the song and images. Ignore the Sartre quote at the end.

Have a very merry Christmas, friends.

Blessings in the gospel always,


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3 Things I Know About Myself and Others

1. Hurt people hurt people.

2. If Satan can’t get me to be despondent through recall of my past sins, he will try to get me bitter and graceless by reminding me of others’ sins against me. I may not always agree with his condemnation of myself, but he knows it’s really easy to get me to say “Yeah!” to condemnation of others.

3. The key not just to appreciation of what I’ve got but to thankfulness in all things is recognizing I don’t deserve anything good.

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The Lord, Who is Rich With Encouragement, is a Big Spender

My friend and mentor Ray Ortlund, Jr. had a stellar post today on encouragement. It knocked my socks off. It’s aimed at pastors, but it is Jesus-sized, so it fits all.

“If there is any encouragement in Christ . . .” Philippians 2:1

Tomorrow many of us will be preaching. What is our goal? Not bashing people over the head with the law. That may make us feel better about ourselves, as if our opinions were needed, but it is not the ministry of Christ. What do we find in him? Encouragement. It’s so obvious to Paul, it’s the first thing he mentions when he inventories our wealth in Christ here in Philippians 2.

Do we find encouragement in one another? Sometimes. But that supply is limited. We come together at church not to amass the encouragement we bring in but to receive the encouragement he is pouring out. If we come to church only to draw strength from one another, that’s all we’ll get. And we will end up empty and angry at one another. Putting community first destroys community. Our encouragement is in Christ, and he is inexhaustible.

Those of us who are preachers — tomorrow, through the gospel, let’s lavish on our fellow-sinners the endless encouragement that is right now exploding out of the glorious risen Christ. If attendance at your church is down because people are out of town for Christmas travels, that doesn’t …

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You Only Need to Know One Great All-Embracing Thing

You don’t have to know a lot of things for your life to makea lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know thefew great things that matter, perhaps just one, and then be willingto live for them and die for them. The people that make adurable difference in the world are not the people who havemastered many things, but who have been mastered by onegreat thing. If you want your life to count, if you want theripple effect of the pebbles you drop to become waves thatreach the ends of the earth and roll on into eternity, you don’tneed to have a high IQ. You don’t have to have good looks orriches or come from a fine family or a fine school. Instead youhave to know a few great, majestic, unchanging, obvious, simple,glorious things—or one great all-embracing thing—and beset on fire by them.

– John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

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O Come Let us Accordion

Pomplamoose gets all over “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

Love the song, but I can’t watch the video. That chick freaks me out.

(HT: Steve McCoy)

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Holy Holy Holy

A rather affecting version of “Holy Holy Holy” by Sufjan Stevens. Has a reflective tone to it befitting Advent, I think.

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God Sees Your Righteousness Because It Sits at His Right Hand

In my study time this morning I came across this fantastic excerpt from John Bunyan’s book Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, and it really ministered to me.

One day as I was passing into the field, this sentence fell upon my soul: “Thy righteousness is in heaven.” And with the eyes of my soul I saw Jesus at the Father’s right hand. “There,” I said, “is my righteousness!” So that wherever I was or whatever I was doing, God could not say to me, “Where is your righteousness?” For it is always right before him.

I saw that it is not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness IS Christ. Now my chains fell off indeed. My temptations fled away, and I lived sweetly at peace with God.

Now I could look from myself to him and could reckon that all my character was like the coins a rich man carries in his pocket when all his gold is safe in a trunk at home. Oh I saw that my gold was indeed in a trunk at home, in Christ my Lord. Now Christ was all: my righteousness, sanctification, redemption.

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Imperfect Love Drives In All Fear

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”– Romans 8:15

I hadn’t realized this, really, until a couple of years ago, but the church traditions I grew up in dealt heavily in dispensing spirits of fear. I felt an aversion to a lot of what I experienced — although not to the core doctrine I was taught, which was all solid — all through my adolescence, but it took me into my thirties to put a label on it: the spirit of fear.

The revivalistic invitationalism reduced the gospel to a bet-hedging spin on Pascal’s Wager, hinging on the weekly intonation of “If you were to die on your way home tonight, would you go to heaven?”

It’s a great question. It’s a valid question. But in the context of the spirit of fear, it didn’t just create a tremble at the thought of hell, but a tenuousness in our thinking of salvation. (Was I ever really sure? Maybe I should say the prayer again or rededicate.)

The list of things to be afraid of began when I was young and did not relent.

- The inherent witchcraft in the practice of trick-or-treating or any other recognition of Halloween.

- The New Age infiltration of everything from He-Man action figures to rainbow stickers.

- Nuclear war, which Gog (or Magog — I can’t remember which) was going to wage on us, according to prophecy.

- Catholics.

- …

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Show Your Discontented Eggheads the Door

A gem from Martin Luther, via Ray Ortlund:

“When I preach I regard neither doctors nor magistrates, of whom I have above forty in my congregation; I have all my eyes on the servant maids and on the children. And if the learned men are not well pleased with what they hear, well, the door is open.”

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The Gospel as Marital Union

Was reading Matthew 1:18-25 this morning and it struck me for the first time ever to see a little shade of the gospel in Joseph’s “acceptance” of Mary. Learning she was with child, he was going to divorce her quietly in order to spare her public disgrace. But the angel told him Mary was pregnant with the Christ-child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and so Joseph gladly took her to himself. Where he saw reason for divorce, he now saw the presence of Christ and pursued oneness.

It’s not a perfect analogy (Mary hadn’t sinned in this instance, of course), but it just made me think of all the reasons God has to divorce himself from me, from his people. Yet he is appeased by Christ in us, appealed to by the new life the Spirit has conceived in us. And we are approved by God — perpetually, finally, eternally — because of Christ in us, the hope of glory. He render us a spotless Bride.

This, from J.C. Ryle:

“Let us take comfort in the thought that the Lord Jesus does not cast off His believing people because of failures and imperfections.

He knows what they are.

He takes them, as the husband takes the wife, with all their blemishes and defects, and, once joined to Him by faith, will never leave them. He is a merciful and compassionate High priest. It is His glory to pass over the transgressions of His people, and to cover their many sins.”

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