Prayer

June 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

Recently, I’ve been reading Practical Religion by JC Ryle (written in 1878). Consider these quotes from his chapter on prayer:

  • “Prayer is the most important subject in practical religion” (p. 59).
  • “I have come to the conclusion that the great majority of professing Christians do not pray at all” (p. 64).

Ryle says that when people pray “they seem to be taking up a fresh thing” (p. 66). Why would this be? Why does prayer seem a fresh, foreign thing to us? Could it be that prayer seems to be a fresh thing because it is, in fact, a fresh thing? Could it be that three minutes of corporate prayer (or 10 minutes of corporate worship) is foreign because three minutes of private prayer (and 10 minutes of private worship) is foreign?

It is here that Ryle offers help:

  • “In every journey there must be a first step. There must be a change from sitting still to moving forward” (p. 78).
  • “Prayer is the simplest act in all religion. It is simply speaking to God…The weakest infant can cry when he is hungry…” (p. 77).

What praise is God worthy of? Tell him. What grace do you find yourself needing today? Ask him.

Everything we do in private affects what we do in public. Our private worship affects our public worship. Our private prayer life affects our public, corporate prayer life. Let’s resolve to be a church whose public prayer and worship is an accurate reflection of our private prayer and worship.

Self-Inquiry

May 23, 2014 — Leave a comment

“…they (churchmen, church-goers) know that there is no forgiveness of sin, excepting in Christ Jesus. They can tell you that there is no Saviour for sinners, no Redeemer, no Mediator, excepting him who was born of the Virgin Mary, and was crucified under Pontius Pliate, dead, and buried. But here they stop, and get no further! They never come to the point of actually laying hold Christ by faith, and becoming one with Christ and Christ in them.

They can say, He is a Saviour, but not ‘my Saviour,’ – a Redeemer, but not ‘my Redeemer,’ – a Priest, but not ‘my Priest,’ – an Advocate, but not ‘my Advocate:’ and so they live and die unforgiven! No wonder that Martin Luther said, ‘Many are lost because they cannot use possessive pronouns.’”

-J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion, p. 9.

“Now it is the glory of the Christian religion that it provides for us the very forgiveness that we need, -full, free, perfect, eternal, and complete.”

-J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion, p. 8.

Bible Reading Chart

December 30, 2013 — 1 Comment

As the new year begins, here is a Bible reading chart that I have found helpful. I like it over other reading plans for a few reasons:

  • It’s a chart, not a plan. No mid-story, mid-narrative, middle of a long Psalm breaks. If you want to keep going you can. If you want to stop, you can stop. 
  • You can go at your own pace, in any order that you want and still keep track of your progress. Read three chapters a day and you’ll read the Bible in a year.
  • It’s perfect for those relaxed Type-A personalities.
  • It has colors. Color makes everything a little better.

Bible Reading Chart

Set List_09.01.13

August 29, 2013 — Leave a comment

The Highest and the Greatest
“Wake every heart and every tongue, to sing a new eternal song
and crown him King of Glory, now, confess him Lord of all!”

A Mighty Fortress
“Our God is jealous for his own, none can comprehend is love and his mercy,
Our God is exalted on his throne, high above the heavens, forever he is worthy”

Isaiah 53:4-5 “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”

When was the last time that you stopped long enough to stand in awe of the grace of God towards you in Jesus Christ? He took our sins and sorrows. Are you standing in awe? He bore our burdens on the cross. Are you standing in awe? He suffered and died alone. Are you standing in awe? He was wounded and crushed for us. He was forsaken so that we could be accepted. He was condemned so that we could be pardoned.

Are you in awe?

I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous)
“He took my sin and my sorrow and made them his very own
He bore the burden to Calvary, and suffered and died alone.”

-
There is a Fountain
“The dying thief rejoiced to see the fountain in his day,
and there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.”

There is no sin that is beyond the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus. No sin.

Jesus, Son of God
“You took our sin, you bore our shame, you rose to life, you defeated the grave,
A love like this – the world has never known.”

This is the gospel. It is of first importance. Jesus died, was buried, and rose according to the Scriptures. Death has no hold on him. Through faith in him, death has no hold on us.

Whom Shall I Fear?

“The greatness of God, of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is that, if rightly considered, which will support the spirits of those of his people that are frighted with the greatness of their adversaries. For here is a greatness against a greatness.” – John Bunyan, All Loves Excelling, p. 5.

“Would it not be amazing, should you see a man encompassed with chariots and horses, and weapons for his defense, yet afraid of being sparrow blasted, or over-run by a grasshopper!…to fear man, is to forget God…”


A holy man.

August 15, 2013 — Leave a comment

“A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He will dread all filthiness and uncleanness of spirit, and seek to avoid all things that might draw him into it. He knows his own heart is like tinder, and will diligently keep clear of the sparks of temptation. Who shall dare to talk of strength when David can fall? There is many a hint to be gleaned from the ceremonial law. Under it the man who only touched a bone, or a dead body, or a grave, or a diseased person, became at once unclean in the sight of God. And these things were emblems and figures. Few Christians are ever too watchful and too particular about this point.”

-J.C. Ryle, Holiness, p. 29

“People love to play music, even if it’s music that they don’t love, but as pastors and worship leaders, we should learn to pay attention to what they do love. We should learn to prefer their preferences, because it just might give us a window into our congregations’ preferences as well.”

-Mike Cosper, Doxology and Theology, p. 144.

“One of the sweetest blessings of the cross of Jesus Christ is that the curtain of separation has been torn in two. No longer are the holy places open only to the high priest once a year. No, now each of God’s children has been welcomed to come with confidence into God’s presence, and not just once a year.”

“We, with all of our sin, weakness, and failures are welcome to do what should blow our minds. We are not only tolerated by God at a distance; no, we are welcomed into intimate personal communion with the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the creator, the sovereign, the Savior. We, as unholy as we are, are told to go with confidence into his holy presence.”

- Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling, p. 197.

Not From Above

April 5, 2013 — Leave a comment

“You and I must not become pastors who are all too aware of our positions. We must not give way to protecting and polishing our power and prominence. We must resist feeling privileged, special, or in a different category. We must not think of ourselves as deserving or entitled. We must not demand to be treated differently or put on some ministry pedestal. We must not minister from above but from alongside.”

-Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling, p. 173.

Faithful shepherds…

January 17, 2013 — Leave a comment

“Faithful shepherds protect their flocks not only from harmful outside influences but from the self-serving among the sheep. Many congregations have experienced the intimidation of bullies within their midst when leaders fail to take responsibility to shepherd the flock. It is often the strong-willed, outspoken, highly opinionated folk who fill the void. There will always be leaders – the issue is whether they are the leaders called and gifted by God to shepherd his flock or those who push themselves forward so that they can push others around.”

- Timothy Z. Wtimer, The Shepherd Leader, p. 23.