2 Very Different Headlines – Who Do We Live For?

A week or so ago, I saw two very different headlines that got me thinking.  Here they are:

  1. More Than 4 Million iPhone 4S’s Sold Over First Weekend
  2. Tithing Hits Record Low; Churches Spend More to Make Congregants Happy

You can click each headline to read the articles for each one…I didn’t.  But I didn’t need to for it to make me think about where we are as Americans…as Christians.  The iPhone 4s starts at $199 and goes up to $399.  I had planned on saying more, but now, as I write this, I’m speechless.  So I’ll let it stand on it’s own.

Is Your Mouth Full of Life or Full of Death?

Be A Life Giver With Your TongueThere are times when someone else says something you’ve been feeling and even trying to express much better, more elegantly than you’ve been able to utter.  Today in my inbox I received this post from Desiring God and that was the case.

In recent weeks and months I’ve been telling several friends and even people who I don’t know well, the power that lies in the tongue.  Or trying to.  Much of what I was trying to express, Jon Bloom says much better than I was able to.  So check out this post and let God refine you into the life-giving-ridiculous-faith-filled-radically-in-love-with-Jesus-disciple He’s called you to be!

FROM DESIRING GOD & JON BLOOM

A lot is at stake in what we say today. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

In literate societies, tongues include hands that write, type, paint, or sign.

Words Cause Death

People die because of something said. Tongues can be weapons of mass destruction, launching holocausts and wars. Tongues can also be the death of marriages, families, friendships, churches, careers, hopes, understanding, reputations, missionary efforts, and governments.

Words Give Life

But people also live because of something said. The tongue can be “a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4). Tongues reconcile peoples and make peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). Tongues can make marriages sweet, families strong, and churches healthy. Tongues can give hope to the despairing, advance understanding, and spread the gospel.

So what will come out of your mouth today, death or life? “Sword thrusts” or “healing” (Proverbs 12:18)?

What Fills Your Heart?

It will all depend on what’s filling your heart. Jesus said, “. . . out of the abundance of the heart [the] mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). A critical heart produces a critical tongue. A self-righteous heart produces a judgmental tongue. A bitter heart produces and acerbic tongue. An ungrateful heart produces a grumbling tongue.

But a loving heart produces a gracious tongue. A faithful heart produces a truthful tongue. A peaceful heart produces a reconciling tongue. A trusting heart produces an encouraging tongue.

So fill your heart with grace by soaking in your Bible. Soak in Matthew 5, or Romans 12, or 1 Corinthians 13, or Philippians 2. And be very careful taking in the words of death in the newspaper, on the radio, the TV, or the blog.

And pray: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Psalm 41:3)

The world is full of words of death. “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19) who “was a murderer from the beginning. . . and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Let us not join him in his “restless evil” (James 3:8).

For “we are from God” (1 John 15:19), and we believe in his Son, Jesus, “the Word” (John 1:1), “the truth and the life” (John 14:6), and who alone has “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Let us join him in speaking these.

Today

Today, make your mouth “a fountain of life” (Proverbs 10:11). Be “slow to speak” in general (James 1:19). Encourage more than you critique. Seek opportunities to speak kind, tenderhearted words (Ephesians 4:32). Say something affectionate to a loved one at an unexpected time. Seek to only speak words that are “good for building up,” that “grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

Be a person whose mouth is full of life.

“And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up” (Acts 20:32).

Can’t Find God? Humble Yourself In Prayer Before Reading God’s Word & He’ll Find You

OK, so an effort of full disclosure, that post title might have been SLIGHTLY misleading…BUT…I still think it’s close enough to the heart of what I have to share with you today that I can “scrape by”.

Let me explain…

I’ve mentioned before how influential John Piper and the Desiring God ministry has been for me as God continues to transform my life to His likeness.  After reading the Piper classic, Desiring God, I came away with many things I’d like to implement, change and different ways of looking at the truth of the bible.  But shortly thereafter my kids got me one of the best gifts ever…his follow up book entitled When I Don’t Desire God.  From that book came one really practical suggestion that I still put into practice today.   It is a method of coming to the Word and communicating with Jesus every morning.

Simply put, I sometimes (more often than not) find when I come to the word of God, my heart, mind, spirit and soul are not aligned and positioned properly to concentrate, listen and receive what God may have for me.  In years past I would start my daily reading and prayer with a quick prayer for God to bless the time and impart His truth and wisdom to me and then just start reading.  I was lucky to get through the 10-15 second prayer without my mind wandering.  Let alone for it not to wander while I was reading and praying afterward.

Anyway, very soon I will be posting a method of reading scripture that has totally revolutionized my prayer life and daily time with God, but in the mean time, this is an awesome, quick and practical tip from the book When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper.  I hope you find it to be as powerful in your time with God as I have!

Isaiah 66:2 — But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

So if you’re having trouble finding God, humble yourself before reading God’s Word and He’s likely to find you!  I.O.U.S is one prayer that helps us to humble ourselves before reading God’s Word. You might consider printing it out and sticking it in your Bible.

Very practically what this means for the fight for joy is that every day we must not just go to the Word, but pray over the Word—indeed before we even get to the Word, lest he fail to come. I close this chapter with the way this works in my own experience.

Almost every day I pray early in the morning that God would give me desires for him and his Word, because the desires I ought to have are absent or weak. In fact, I follow the acronym myself that I have given to many people to help them fight for joy. The acronym is I O U S. It is very limited and focused. It’s not all we should pray for. But this book (and most of my life) is about the fight for joy. And that is what I O U S focuses on. Here’s the way I pray over the Word in my fight for joy.

I—(Incline!) The first thing my soul needs is an inclination toward God and his Word. Without that, nothing else will happen of any value in my life. I must want to know God and read his Word and draw near to him. Where does that “want to” come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 119:36 teaches us to pray, “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” Very simply we ask God to take our hearts, which are more inclined to breakfast and the newspaper, and change that inclination. We are asking that God create desires that are not there.

O—(Open!) Next I need to have the eyes of my heart opened so that when my inclination leads me to the Word, I see what is really there, and not just my own ideas. Who opens the eyes of the heart? God does. So Psalm 119:18 teaches us to pray, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” So many times we read the Bible and see nothing wonderful. Its reading does not produce joy. So what can we do? We can cry to God: “Open the eyes of my heart, O Lord, to see what it says about you as wonderful.”

U—(Unite!) Then I am concerned that my heart is badly fragmented. Parts of it are inclined, and parts of it are not. Parts see wonder, and parts say, “That’s not so wonderful.” What I long for is a united heart where all the parts say a joyful Yes! to what God reveals in his Word. Where does that wholeness and unity come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 86:11 teaches us to pray, “Unite my heart to fear your name.” Don’t stumble over the word fear when you thought we were seeking joy. The fear of the Lord is a joyful experience when you renounce all sin. A thunderstorm can be a trembling joy when you know you can’t be destroyed by lightning. “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to . . . the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name” (Neh. 1:11). “His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD” (Isa. 11:3). Therefore pray that God would unite your heart to joyfully fear the Lord.

S—(Satisfy!) What I really want from all this engagement with the Word of God and the work of his Spirit in answer to my prayers is for my heart to be satisfied with God and not with the world. Where does that satisfaction come from? It comes from God. So The Focus of Prayer in the Fight for Joy < 151 Psalm 90:14 teaches us to pray, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”

I O U S ADMITS GOD IS OUR ONLY HOPE FOR JOY

This acronym has served me well for years. This is frontline warfare for me.

Mark Driscoll Sermon on Hell – Sneak Peak

Questions about hell and a loving GodI’m a fan of Mark Driscoll.  Because he’s a fan of Jesus, the Bible and absolute truth!  🙂  Anyway, Mark Driscoll is halfway through sermon series on Luke.  This is no ordinary sermon series…he’s taking almost 3 years (106 weeks in all) and he’s over a year and a half in.  This coming Sunday he’ll be preaching, providentially I might add, on Luke 16: 19-31.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, I’m including that passage at the bottom of this post.  You should check that out and read that passage.

Why is this significant to me? Roughly 2 years ago Mark probably approached his elder board to run the idea of a 3 year sermon series 106 weeks in length on the book of Luke by them.  When he did that and they agreed to it, I’m fairly confident that he could not have known that Rob Bell would even be writing a book dealing with the topic of hell let alone what week it would be released and the controversy that would be swirling around it .

But God did!
Which is why the fact that he just happens to be dealing with this particular passage the week after the books release is so like God.  It’s like Him to just work things out that way.

Check out this preview of the sermon.

From the Mars Hill Church Blog (Mark Driscoll’s church not Rob Bell’s church of the same name):

The questions people ask about hell

In this passage, Jesus tells a story about a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus. It is a story Jesus uses to describe heaven and hell, one that uses powerful, even unsettling imagery. Heaven and hell are hugely important topics and do naturally raise a number of questions, and so Pastor Mark takes the second half of this sermon to answer some of the most common ones, including:

1. What is hell? What is it like?
2. Is it possible that people can deny God for their whole earthly lives, and have a second chance after death?
3. Why would God make people who are permanently his enemies? Why does God create certain people when he knows that their only future is to be tortured for all eternity?
4. Is hell temporary? Or are the souls of the damned destroyed?
5. Will everyone who doesn’t know Jesus go to hell? What if you’ve never heard of Jesus at all?

This sermon is an invitation, and it’s up to us to decide how we will each respond. And Jesus has made it abundantly clear what is at stake.

Read the full passage after the jump:

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers —so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

How To Enjoy Reading the Bible

How To Enjoy Reading the BibleI’ve mentioned and recommended The Way of a Worshiper by Buddy Owens in other posts on this blog before.  It’s a small little book packed with great information on living for the Glory of the father and making worship a lifestyle.  It’s great and if you haven’t read it, get it.

So after I read that book, when I found this sermon by Buddy on learning how to read the bible with your ears, naturally I was in.  Since putting this method of reading the bible daily into practice, it has been transformational.  Here’s what Buddy says about the sermon:

How to Read the Bible with Your Ears

Prayer and Bible reading aren’t two separate activities, they are two parts of a conversation with God. If you feel guilty or frustrated about your devotional life, this message is for you. Pastor Buddy Owens shows you how to enter the conversation by learning to hear the Lord speak to you in his Word. With help from the simple Bible reading method Buddy describes, you can learn to recognize the voice, the heart, and the hand of God in Scripture. Come join the conversation.

Presenter:  Buddy Owens
Date:  1/3/2007

Spiritual Muscle Development for Stronger Faith

We’ve all been asked (or more likely told) by God to wait on Him. Any of you who know my story, you know God has had me here all too often…and if you don’t know, suffice it to say I know a thing or two about waiting on God.

I know several people right now who are in this situation and I’m constantly torn between the pain I feel for them as they wait in the hottest part of Gods refining fire (Malachi 3:2) and the joy I know they will experience as they push through in faith as He refines, purifies and glorifies Himself through them. It is a double edged sword of hope on one side and pain on the other.

And that is why I wanted to share Paul Tripp’s latest post…in the hopes that those who find themselves waiting on God in one form or another would be encouraged and strengthened by these truths from the bible.

So, what happens inside of you when you are asked to wait? Is waiting, for you, a time of stengthening or weakening? Have you ever stopped to consider why God asks you to wait? Let me point you to one of his purposes.
Waiting Is Giving You Time

When God asks you to wait, what happens to your spiritual muscles? While you wait, do your spiritual muscles grow bigger and stronger or do they grow flaccid and atrophied? Waiting for the Lord isn’t about God forgetting you, forsaking you, or being unfaithful to his promises. It’s actually God giving you time to consider his glory and to grow stronger in faith. Remember, waiting isn’t just about what you are hoping for at the end of the wait, but also about what you will become as you wait.

Waiting always presents me with a spiritual choice-point. Will I allow myself to question God’s goodness and progressively grow weaker in faith, or will I embrace the opportunity of faith that God is giving me and build my spiritual muscles? (see Psalm 27:4)

It’s so easy to question your belief system when you are not sure what God is doing. It’s so easy to give way to doubt when you are being called to wait. It’s so easy to forsake good habits and to take up habits of unfaith that weaken the muscles of the heart. Let me suggest some habits of unfaith that cause waiting to be a time of increasing weakness rather than of building strength. These are bad habits that all of us are tempted to give way to.
Habits of Unfaith

Giving way to doubt. There’s a fine line between the struggle to wait and giving way to doubt. When you are called to wait, you are being called to do something that wasn’t part of your plan and is therefore something that you struggle to see as good. Because you are naturally convinced that what you want is right and good, it doesn’t seem loving that you are being asked to wait. You can see how tempting it is then to begin to consider questions of God’s wisdom, goodness, and love. It is tempting, in the frustration of waiting, to actually begin to believe that you are smarter than God.

Giving way to anger. It’s very easy to look around and begin to think that the bad guys are being blessed and the good guys are getting hammered (see Psalm 73). There will be times when it simply doesn’t seem right that you have to wait for something that seems so obviously good to you. It will feel that you are being wronged, and when it does, it seems right to be angry. Because of this, it’s important to understand that the anger you feel in these moments is more than anger with the people or circumstances that are the visible cause for your waiting. No, your anger is actually anger with the One who is in control of those people and those circumstances. You are actually giving way to thinking that you have been wronged by God.

Giving way to discouragement. This is where I begin to let my heart run away with the “If only_____,” the “What if_____,” and the “What will happen if_____.” I begin to give my mind to thinking about what will happen if my request isn’t answered soon, or what in the world will happen if it’s not answered at all. This kind of meditation makes me feel that my life is out of control. And I am able to think my life is out of control because I have forgotten God’s wise and gracious contol over very part of my existence. Rather than my heart being filled with joy, my heart gets flooded with worry and dread. Free mental time is spent considering my dark future, with all the resulting discouragement that will always follow.

Giving way to envy. When I am waiting, it’s very tempting to look over the fence and wish for the life of someone who doesn’t appear to have been called to wait. It’s very easy to take on an “I wish I were that guy” way of living. You can’t give way to envy without questioning God’s wisdom and his love. Here is the logic: if God really loves you as much as he loves that other guy, you would have what the other guy has. Envy is about feeling forgotten and forsaken, coupled with a craving to have what your neighbor enjoys.

Giving way to inactivity. The result of giving way to all of these things is inactivity. If God isn’t as good and wise as I once thought he was, if he withholds good things from his children, and if he plays favorites, then why would I continue to pursue him? Maybe all those habits of faith aren’t helping me after all; maybe I’ve been kidding myself.

Sadly, this is the course that many people take as they wait. Rather than growing in faith, their motivation for spiritual exercise is destroyed by doubt, anger, discouragement, and envy, and the muscles of faith that were once robust and strong are now atrophied and weak.
One of His Primary Shaping Tools

The reality of waiting is that it’s an expression of God’s goodness not empirical evidence against it. He is wise and loving. His timing is always right, and his focus isn’t so much on what you will experience and enjoy, but on what you will become. He is committed to using every tool at his disposal to rescue you from yourself and to shape you into the likeness of his Son. The fact is that waiting is one of his primary shaping tools.

So, how do you build your spiritual muscles during the wait? Well, you must commit yourself to resisting those habits of unfaith and with discipline pursue a rigorous routine of spiritual exercise.

What is the equipment in God’s gym of faith? Here are the things that he has designed for you to build the muscles of your heart and strengthen your resolve: the regular study of his Word; consistent godly fellowship; looking for God’s glory in creation every day; putting yourself under excellent preaching and teaching of Scripture; investing your quiet mental time in meditating on the goodness of God (e.g., as you are going off to sleep); reading excellent Christian books; and spending ample time in prayer. All of these things will result in spiritual strength and vitality.

Is God asking you to wait? So, what is happening to your muscles?

Just in case you’re ready to worship after that I thought I’d share one of my favorite songs on worshiping and waiting…

Where’s Your Faith In Tough Times

I subscribe to only a handful of blogs and I think that one of the most valuable for me and my walk with Jesus is the DesiringGod blog updates that I get every day.  They are almost always great.  Almost always meaty and almost always insightful.  But there is one particular style of post that they put out that particularly moves me.  And that is what I like to call the “story” post.  In essence they look at passages or stories in scripture and using historical and cultural knowledge about that particular story, time, people and place, they elaborate a bit and tell a dramatic and captivating tale about the scriptures in question.

Last week, they sent one of these about faith and the storms in life.  For several people I know this is a right now word from God and I imagine for a lot of readers of this blog and people in general, you’ll also need to hear this.  It’s tough to have this kind of faith, but it’s worth pursuing until we do.  He commands it.

So courtesy of DesiringGod.org, examine your own faith in this situation…

Why did Jesus still the storm? Imagine what the disciples might have been thinking a half-hour later.

*          *          *

The sea was quiet now. And there was just breeze enough to push the boat along.

The disciples were quiet too. Andrew was steering. He had taken over for Peter, who sat wrapped in a cloak, exhausted and lost in thought. He had been soaked to the skin. Others were bailing out the remaining water.

Jesus was sleeping again.

James leaned on the bow gunwale watching reflections dance on benign waves. He was trying to absorb what he had just seen.

James knew this sea. He and John had spent most of their lives on or in it. His father was a fisherman. So were most of his male kin and friends. His mind flashed the faces of some of them who had drowned in unpredictable Galilean windstorms like the one that had pummeled them barely a half-hour ago.

A seasoned boatman, James was not alarmed easily. But he knew a man-eater when he saw it. This storm had opened its mouth to swallow them all into the abyss.

Terror had been in John’s eyes when he grabbed James and yelled, “We have to tell the Master!” They stumbled to the stern. How Jesus had remained sleeping while the angry surf tossed the boat around was itself a wonder. They woke him screaming, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!”1

James would never forget the way Jesus looked at him. His eyes were at once potent and tranquil. Not a trace of fear. Laying aside the blanket, Jesus rose to full height on the rear deck. James, fearing Jesus was about to be pitched overboard, reached to grab him just as Jesus shouted, “Peace! Be still!”2

No sooner had those words left his mouth than the wind was completely gone! The sudden hush of the howling was otherworldly. The waves immediately began to abate. Each disciple stood where he was, looking dumbfounded at the water and sky and each other.

Jesus’ gaze lingered for a moment on the steep hills along the western shore. Then he looked around at the Twelve and said, “Where is your faith?”3

He had looked right at James when he said “faith.”

Now, as James leaned on the bow, he turned Jesus’ question over and over in his mind.

“Where is your faith?” When Jesus first said it, James felt its intended rebuke. Didn’t he trust God? Wasn’t the Father with Jesus? He had thought he believed this. But the storm proved that all the confidence he felt when the pressure was off was fair-weather faith. The Galilean westerlies had swept it away. He felt chastened and humbled.

But the more James thought about the question, the more profound it became. “Where is your faith?” Where is it, James? When the storm hit, what did you trust? I trusted what my eyes saw. I trusted what my skin felt. I trusted the violent force that was tossing the boat like a toy and would have rolled us over any minute. I trusted the stories told by my father. I trusted the tragedies I remember. I trusted the power of the storm because storms kill people.

Up until a few minutes before, this would have merely seemed like common sense. But Jesus had changed everything.

As James looked back to the sleeping Jesus, the Psalmist’s words came to mind:

For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the deeps.
He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
Who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.4

Who then is this?5 Someone who can command a killer storm to die when he pleases. Holy fear washed over him again. However, this fear didn’t produce panic, but a deep, unnerving, reverent joy.

*          *          *

When the storm was raging and Jesus was sleeping, which looked more powerful?

This is an important picture to remember, because when the storms of life hit they almost always appear stronger to us than God’s word. And the important question to ask at that moment is, where is your faith?

Notes

1 Matthew 8:25

2 Mark 4:39

3 Luke 8:25

4 Psalm 135:5-7

5 Luke 8:25

How Important Is Early-Morning Prayer?

Early-Morning PrayerWhile reading the book, “When I Don’t Desire God” by John Piper, I came across a section that I thought of vital importance that I’d like to share on early-morning prayer.  Here’s what he says:

The example of Jesus and the testimony of lovers of Christ throughout
the centuries points us to early-morning prayer as decisively important.
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he [Jesus]
departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark
1:35). I commend the early morning as one crucial time for a disciplined,
regular meeting with God over the Word and prayer.
First, it signals to our conscience that this is of first importance in
the day. That witness from our action to our conscience has a joyful
effect on the Christian mind. Second, early-morning prayer strikes the
first blow in the battle of the day, instead of waiting till we are besieged
from all sides. Third, what we do daily and do early shapes the spirit of
our minds and brings us into a disposition of humility and trust that will
bear better fruit than anxiety or self-reliance. Fourth, since beginning the
day with the Word of God is crucial (as we saw in Chapter Eight), therefore
prayer is equally crucial since the Word will not open its best wonders
to us without prayer: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous
things out of your law” (Ps. 119:18). Fifth, it is uncanny how Satan can
use even good things to squeeze prayer out of our schedule if we miss
the early-morning hour. I have seen it again and again. If I say to myself,
“I will give some time to prayer later,” it generally does not happen.

I couldn’t agree more.  By the way, if you haven’t, READ THIS BOOK!  Yeah it’s that good.

Share your thoughts on early-morning prayer below…do you do it, if not, when and what works for you/what doesn’t.

Who Is This Wretched Man Living In A Non Continual Victory Over Sin?

I am a wretched man.  And earlier tonight I felt like a divided or conflicted man.  It’s a feeling I’ve felt before after realizing my sin, but tonight was like no other.  I knew I needed to write about it here and share what I believe God showed me.

I know that I’m saved by Grace and not by my filthy works.

Thank God for that.

I know also that Jesus came to earth in human form and “became sin”, without sinning so that I could be “credited” with His righteousness, without my doing anything righteous.

Again, thank God for that.

And in and through all that, I am comforted, challenged and encouraged by Romans 7:14-25 when I listen to Paul describe what I believe to be one of the great challenges of genuine followers of Christ.  And that is…how are we to respond to failures to triumph over the sin in our lives?

One of the reasons I made Live2Worship.net was to showcase the glory of God.  The tagline says it best…”it’s why we’re here”.  But another reason in the beginning was to share with the world, both believers and non-believers, what God is doing through, to and for me.

Tonight’s post is an outpouring of something I can’t contain.  My prayer is that it helps my readers deal with, think about and fight against the ongoing, ever-present sin in their lives.

In my continual battle to crush sin in my life, like all Christians I win some and lose some battles, realizing that Christ won the war by dying on the cross and raising from the dead.  But sometimes when I blow it, I’m shaken to my core, as I was tonight.

I began thinking about Paul’s words as I prayed asking God to forgive me and telling Him how broken I was about my condition and actions.  As I read the verses, a few things struck me that were significant, but one thing stood out.  And that is that this is clearly a man who LOVES God and dearly, deeply loves the LAW of God.  Non-believers can’t do that.  And the thing that became crystal clear to me is that there is a genuine, proper response that Christians should have to their sin.  And this passage is the model for that response.

Let me share 2 quotes from 2 Godly men that summarize this passage.

The first is J. I. Packer.  J. I. Packer wrote an article on this passage in 1999 and he has this to say about this passage:

Paul is not telling us that the life of the “wretched man” is as bad as it could be, only that it is not as good as it should be, and that because the man delights in the law and longs to keep it perfectly his continued inability to do so troubles him acutely. . . . The “wretched man” is Paul himself, spontaneously voicing his distress at not being a better Christian than he is, and all we know of Paul personally fits in with this supposition.

The next quote is John Piper paraphrasing the proper response laid out in these verses.  He says the Christian should say,

· I love the Law of God. Verse 22: “I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man.”

· I hate what I just did. Verse 15: “I am doing the very thing I hate.”

· Oh the wretchedness I feel in these times! I long for deliverance from this body that constantly threatens to kill me, and that I have to mortify day after day. Verse 24: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (see Romans 6:6; 8:10, 13).

Nobody should want to live this way. Or settle to live this way. That’s not the point. The point is, when you do live this way, this is the Christian response. No lying. No hypocrisy. No posing. No vaunted perfectionism. Lord, deliver us from a church like that – with its pasted smiles, and chipper superficiality, and blindness to our own failures, and consequent quickness to judge others. God give us the honesty and candor and humility of the apostle Paul.

This is encouragement for the person who loves God and His laws.  The Christian experience is not perfect, but it is real.  The enemy wants to lie to us and convince us when we fall that we’re cast out and useless to God or that He doesn’t love us anymore or that there’s a limit to His grace, mercy and love.

Rubbish.  Complete and total garbage.

Be distressed by your sin.  Do not make peace with it, but continue to fight with it deep within you.  For the rest of your life.  Understand your condition and fight the good fight until in that twinkling of an eye, you are changed.  Be encouraged by others who have fought the fight before you.  And most of all, by the living Word of God that transforms us, changes us, and brings us peace, hope and life.

Share your thoughts, struggles and encouragement below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Choosing Worship Songs & Sets Wisely…It Matters

I recently found an talk done by Bob Kauflin and it affected me as a worship leader. I think it’s so important, that I want to share it here.  It’s a 2 part audio/MP3 download and you can download it here

Choosing Songs Wisely Part 1

Choosing Songs Wisely Part 2

by Bob Kauflin
Why do the songs we sing matter? How are we to go about choosing songs for corporate worship?

Songs teach. Gordon Fee said, “Show me a church’s songs, and I’ll show you their theology.” Lack of discernment in the choice of songs affects the church’s direction.

Bob Kauflin uses this session to discuss how the songs we sing should be evaluated by Scriptural accuracy first, then by accessibility, freshness, and style, among other considerations. Bob offers direction in choosing songs for Sunday, planning out your church’s “song diet,” and resources for doctrinally-accurate, sing-able songs.

This session was delivered at the 2004 Worship God Conference.

© 2004 Sovereign Grace Ministries