Saturday, January 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Francis Schaeffer!


Ninety-eight years ago today, the late Francis August Schaeffer IV was born in Germantown, PA. It would not be an exaggeration to say that, outside of the Bible, his writings have influenced my thinking more than any other. While reading Colin Duriez’ biography of Schaeffer, I came across a quote that he took from Edith Schaeffer’s book, L'Abri. Typical Schaeffer, his words are at the same time prophetic, convicting and challenging.

We had done quite a lot of thinking and self-examining over the previous few years. It seemed to us that so much of Christianity was being spread by advertising designed to “put across” something, that there was very little genuine recognition of the existence of the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. One morning at Chalet Bijou’s breakfast table, Fran had said to me, “Supposing we had awakened today to find everything concerning the Holy Spirit and prayer removed from the Bible—that is, not removed the way liberals would remove it, but that God had somehow really removed everything about prayer and the Holy Spirit from the Bible. What difference would it make practically between the way we work yesterday and the way we would work today, and tomorrow? What difference would it make in the majority of Christians’ practical work and plans? Aren’t most plans laid out ahead of time? Isn’t much work done by human talent, energy and clever ideas? Where does the supernatural power of God have a real place?” Challenged by this, we began to think and look over our own lives and work… and, we asked God to give us something more real in our work of the future.
While Francis and Edith Schaeffer had done much in their lives up until that point, their greatest impact was yet to come. And from that point forward, the impact was produced and generated by the Holy Spirit rather than simply the work of their own hands. The tremendous legacy of Francis Schaeffer was built on what he called “active passivity.”

Lord, may I be so dependent on your Holy Spirit that the work you’ve called me to can only be recognized as His and not a product of my capabilities.

Happy birthday, Francis Schaeffer!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Extreme Devotion


They huddled inside the room while hearing the screams of fellow Christians being butchered outside. Pastor Hendrick Pattiwael and his wife were helping to lead the Indonesian youth camp, and they felt responsible for the young people in their care.

The camp had been a joyous time of spiritual growth and worship. Then they were attacked.

When the radical Muslim mob surrounded the building where they hid, Pastor Pattiwael went outside. Distracting the bloodthirsty mob’s attention away from his wife and the young people, the pastor was attacked while the others escaped.

“Jesus, help me.” They were his final words.

His wife next saw him lying in a coffin. Ugly wounds crisscrossed his torso and arms. In shock and anger, Mrs. Pattiwael cried out to God. “How could you let this happen? Why didn’t you protect my husband?”

But the Holy Spirit reminded her of her husband’s words only days before the attack. “If you love Jesus, but you love me or your family more, you are unworthy of Christ’s kingdom.” He told her that he was ready to die for Christ’s kingdom.

Remembering those words, she refused to become bitter. She still works with her church in Indonesia. The advice that she would give Christians in free nations is simply this: “Seek God more earnestly, so that you can stand in the midst of more trouble.”

We don’t have to go looking for trouble. It already has our address. Jesus often reminded his disciples that trials are part of daily living. Seeking God more earnestly does not mean seeking more trouble for our lives. No, the benefit of seeking a deeper relationship with God is to better prepare us for the inevitable. We don’t have a choice about what troubles come our way. However, we can choose to have a relationship with God that prepares us for trouble. Some trials may mean losing our lives for Christ's sake. Yet this is not the real sacrifice. The extreme sacrifice must come long before. We must sacrifice selfishness at every level in order to develop intimacy with God ahead of time. When we have sacrificed all to pursue a preeminent relationship with Christ, we will have already done the hardest part.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Richest Foundation


Isaiah 49:15

 
The love and favor of God is the foundation of the Christian's happiness. If we could order our own heart aright, we would easily see that we could not be miserable so long as we were in favor with our God. If the favor of great persons be so much accounted of, what reckoning is to be made of God's favor, who is Lord of lords? Yea, King of kings, and the more should Christians fill their hearts with joining in this prerogative, if they consider three properties in the love of God.
  • For first, it is a free love. He is gracious, looking upon His own goodness, and not on ours (Hos. 14:4).
  • Secondly, it is an eternal love, and unchangeable. God will never be weary of loving us (Jer. 31:3). His loving-kindness is better than life, for it lasts unto eternity, without alteration. The favor of individuals in this world is mutable. Kings might extremely loathe those they used to love with their entire affection. But in God there is no shadow of changing; He loves with an everlasting love.
  • Thirdly, it is infinitely immense, and great. No affection in any, or in all the creatures of this world, if they could be fastened upon one person, can reach to the thousandth part of God's love to us (Eph. 2:4-7).

 This light of God's countenance shining upon us makes us at all times more rich than those that are increased most in corn, wine, and oil (Ps. 4:7-8).
—Nicholas Byfield

 
Readings taken from Day by Day with the English Puritans

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Spurgeon Saturday


Psalm 89:19

Why was Christ chosen out of the people? Speak, my heart, for heart-thoughts are best. Was it not that he might be able to be our brother, in the blest tie of kindred blood? Oh, what relationship there is between Christ and the believer! The believer can say, “I have a Brother in heaven; I may be poor, but I have a Brother who is rich, and is a King, and will he suffer me to want while he is on his throne? Oh, no! He loves me; he is my Brother.” Believer, wear this blessed thought, like a necklace of diamonds, around the neck of thy memory; put it, as a golden ring, on the finger of recollection, and use it as the King’s own seal, stamping the petitions of thy faith with confidence of success. He is a brother born for adversity, treat him as such.

Christ was also chosen out of the people that he might know our wants and sympathize with us. “He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” In all our sorrows we have his sympathy. Temptation, pain, disappointment, weakness, weariness, poverty—he knows them all, for he has felt all. Remember this, Christian, and let it comfort thee. However difficult and painful thy road, it is marked by the footsteps of thy Saviour; and even when thou reachest the dark valley of the shadow of death, and the deep waters of the swelling Jordan, thou wilt find his footprints there. In all places whithersoever we go, he has been our forerunner; each burden we have to carry, has once been laid on the shoulders of Immanuel.
His way was much rougher and darker than mine
Did Christ, my Lord, suffer, and shall I repine?
Take courage! Royal feet have left a blood-red track upon the road, and consecrated the thorny path for ever.

Readings taken from Logos Bible Software version of Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Friday, January 22, 2010

Like An Electric Current

Like An Electric Current

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10 Commandments For Pastors and Church Staff


I saw this list on Tullian Tchividjian's blog. Rick Warren has gotten this one exactly right. Every day, it seems that another pastor or church staff member disgraces the name of Christ by engaging in scandalous behavior. I believe that few of those who find themselves in that situation originally intended it to be that way. Some are naive and many are reckless. The idea that, "It can't happen to me," is prevalent. Understanding that, pastors and staffs should hold themselves and each other accountable to these standards and churches should come alongside them and encourage them as they do.

Rick Warren's 10 Commandments for Ministry Staff at Saddleback:

1. Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.*
2. Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you.*
3. Thou shalt not kiss any attender of the opposite sex or show affection that could be questioned.*
4. Thou shalt not visit the opposite sex alone at home.*
5. Thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex alone at the office, and thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex more than once without that person’s mate. Refer them.
6. Thou shalt not discuss detailed sexual problems with the opposite sex in counseling. Refer them.
7. Thou shalt not discuss your marriage problems with an attender of the opposite sex.
8. Thou shalt be careful in answering emails, instant messages, chatrooms, cards or letters from the opposite sex.
9. Thou shalt make your co-worker your protective ally.
10. Thou shalt pray for the integrity of other staff members.

[*The first four do not apply to unmarried staff.]

Against Our Will


Romans 8:28

Paul says to let this be your work: to give thanks in your prayers for the seen and the unseen benefits and for God's goodness to the willing and the unwilling.

I know a certain holy man who prayed this way: "We thank You for all the goodness You have shown us from the first day until now even when we are so unworthy. We thank You for what we know You have done and what we don't know, for gifts seen and unseen, for gifts of word and action, whether we have received them willingly or not—for all these things that have been given to us, the unworthy. We give thanks for tribulations and refreshments, for hell, for punishment, and the kingdom of heaven. We beg of You to keep our souls holy, and our consciences pure, worthy of Your lovingkindness. You who gave the Only-begotten for us and sent Your Holy Spirit to wipe out our sins, if we have willfully or unwillingly disobeyed You, forgive us. Don't attribute our sins to us. Remember everyone who called on Your name in truth. Remember everyone who wishes us well, or the contrary, for we are all human."

He prayed this because God gives us many benefits even against our will and maybe even without our knowing it. When we pray for one thing and He does the reverse, it is plain that He is doing good even when we don't know it.
—Chrysostom

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

Thursday, January 21, 2010

IMB Haiti Video

Watch a video message from Mark Rutledge, IMB missionary to the Haitians, who traveled with a media team into Haiti following last week’s quake.

Confidence Rising


John 12:15

In these words of the Prophet, as the Evangelist quotes them, we ought to observe first that never is tranquility restored to our minds, or fear and trembling banished from them, except by knowing that Christ reigns among us. The words of the Prophet, indeed, are different; for he exhorts believers to gladness and rejoicing. But the Evangelist has here described the manner in which our hearts exult with true joy: It is when that fear is removed, with which all must be tormented until being reconciled to God that they obtain that peace which springs from faith (Rom. 5:1).

This benefit, therefore, comes to us through Christ—that freed from the tyranny of Satan, the yoke of sin being broken, guilt canceled, and death abolished—we freely boast, relying on the protection of our King, since they who are placed under his guardianship ought not to fear any danger. Not that we are free from fear, so long as we live in the world, but because confidence, founded on Christ, rises superior to all.

Though Christ was still at a distance, yet the Prophet exhorted the godly men of that age to be glad and joyful, because Christ was to come. "Behold," said he, "thy King will come; therefore fear not." Now that he is come, in order that we may enjoy his presence, we ought more vigorously to contend with fear, that, freed from our enemies, we may peacefully and joyfully honor our King.
—John Calvin

Readings taken from Day by Day With John Calvin

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Refiner's Fire


Few of us ever fully grasp that simple but painful biblical truth—the heat of suffering is a refiner’s fire, purifying the gold of godly character and wisdom. Wouldn’t we rather it be a simpler, more comfortable process? But we know life simply doesn’t play out that way. Everything worthy in this world comes at a price.

The Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn understood the fullest implications of that idea. The point was driven home for him during long years of solitude and suffering in prison, the price he paid for writing a few words of truth about his government. He knew something of disruptive moments and wrote, “It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes, not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. So bless you, prison, for having been in my life.”2

Can I say, “Bless you, prison,” about my deepest trials? Can you bless the prisons that loom in the bend of your road? It takes a deep spiritual wisdom to cultivate that ability—a profound faith that God loves us and that His purposes are truly right for us.

Quoted from David Jeremiah, A Bend in the Road
(Nashville, Tenn.: Word Pub., 2000), 9–10.

Make Restitution

moneypocket-main_Full Leviticus 19:11

I exhort those who are conscious in themselves that they have heretofore wronged their neighbor to make restitution. This is a duty the obligation to which is exceedingly plain. If a person was wronged in taking away anything that was his, certainly he is wronged also in detaining it. And all the while that a person, who has been guilty of wronging his neighbor, neglects to make restitution, he lives in that wrong. He not only lives impenitent as to that first wrong of which he was guilty, but he continually wrongs his neighbor. A man who hath gotten anything from another wrongfully, goes on to wrong him every day that he neglects to restore it, when he has opportunity to do it. The person injured did not only suffer wrong from the other when his goods were first taken from him, but he suffers new injustice from him all the while they are unjustly kept from him.

—Jonathan Edwards

Readings taken from Day By Day With Jonathan Edwards