Thoughts on the Way Home

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Parents: Let the Good Times Roll

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Some parents are permissive and lazy. Others are over-bearing kill-joys. Sadly, many of us manage to be both. I say: keep them safe, keep them away from sin, give them the gospel, and let the good times roll. Hey, I wouldn’t mind being five again. So why make the five year-old miserable because she likes being five too. Kids are kids. And we’d be better and happier parents with better and happier kids if we allowed that sometimes the joy in their silly, childlike hearts is worth more than the paint on our precious parent-like walls.
Read the whole article HERE.

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How Can a Man Be Right With God?

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A compilation of sermon excerpts from the recent Fellowship Conference in Denton, Texas.


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Overcoming Temptation

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Earlier this year David Mathis sat down with Don Carson to discuss sanctification. In this three-minute clip, Carson talks about some simultaneous steps to take for overcoming temptation, including a deepening delight in Jesus.



HT: Challies

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

12 Marks of True Repentance

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12 Marks of True Repentance

1. We name our sin as sin and do not spin it or excuse it, and further, we demonstrate “godly sorrow,” which is to say, a grief chiefly about the sin itself, not just a grief about being caught or having to deal with the consequences of sin.

2. We actually confessed before we were caught or the circumstantial consequences of our sin caught up with us.

3. If found out, we confess immediately or very soon after and “come clean,” rather than having to have the full truth pulled from us. Real repentance is typically accompanied by transparency.

4. We have a willingness and eagerness to make amends. We will do whatever it takes to make things right and to demonstrate we have changed.

5. We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized, spending as much time as is required listening to them without jumping to defend ourselves.

6. We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized as they process their hurt, and we don’t pressure them or “guilt” them into forgiving us.

7. We are willing to confess our sin even in the face of serious consequences (including undergoing church discipline, having to go to jail, or having a spouse leave us).

8. We may grieve the consequences of our sin but we do not bristle under them or resent them. We understand that sometimes our sin causes great damage to others that is not healed in the short term (or perhaps ever).

9. If our sin involves addiction or a pattern of behavior, we do not neglect to seek help with a counselor, a solid twelve-step program, or even a rehabilitation center.

10. We don’t resent accountability, pastoral rebuke, or church discipline.

11. We seek our comfort in the grace of God in Jesus Christ, not simply in being free of the consequences of our sin.

12. We are humble and teachable.

-Jared Wilson
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Reflections on Suffering - Margie Zacharias

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Some good thoughts HERE from Margie Zacharias, wife of Ravi. An excerpt:
What I’m beginning to realize is that God’s purpose in my life while I am here on earth is not so much to prepare me for heaven as it is to mold me into the image of his Son. And that is done through suffering. If this is true, that God’s purpose in my life is to mold me and shape me into the image of his Son, then why should I be surprised when I suffer? Why should I expect that I should be spared from suffering when Jesus suffered so much? In Matthew 10:24-25, Jesus says, “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher and the servant like his master.” So if Jesus was born to suffer according to God’s design, why should I expect that God should protect me from suffering? Should God spare me from suffering when He didn’t spare his own Son—even though Jesus pled that there might be another way to effect salvation— but instead, gave him up to suffering and death for us all? In fact, should I not expect to suffer even more, the more I become like him?
Read the rest HERE.

HT: Melissa Yakes

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Friday, May 11, 2012

The Importance of Hymns

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The Importance of Hymns: An Unknown Hymn-Writer: Karolina W. Sandell-Berg

England had its great women hymnists, such as Frances Ridley Havergal and also America, in such ladies as Fanny Crosby. But Sweden had a relatively unknown hymn writer in Lina Sandell, more formerly known as Karolina W. Sandell-Berg, who lived from 1832-1903. Sandell wrote approximately 650 hymns. Though not as prolific a hymnist as Fanny Crosby, Lina Sandell wrote some of the finest hymns of the faith, including one of my favorites, Day by Day, which I sent to a dear friend today. If you are not familiar with it, please learn it and sing it. The benefits of meditating on this hymn are far-reaching and very encouraging.

"Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Power.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land."

One of the greatest negligences among Christians today is the neglect of great hymns. We neglect them by not learning them, singing, and meditating on them for our own spiritual benefit. To settle for the shallow, frivilous, empty-headed, unintelligent and frothy music of today, when such spiritual and theological riches exist, is a great mistake. People need to be told and educated on this important aspect of the Christian life.

"Learn the hymns", said Leonard Ravenhill. He was right then and he still is today.

-Mack Tomlinson
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Salvation and the Warning Passages

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A good article HERE from Steve Fuller on how we are to understand the "warning passages" of the New Testament. A snippet:
Picture the road to heaven as a steep mountain road, with treacherous turns of sexual temptation — turns with such steep drop-offs that — if we fall — would mean eternal destruction. 
When God saves you, and places you on this road to heaven, He promises to keep you on this road — which means nothing can pluck you off this road — nothing can cause you to fall from this road. 
But if this road has treacherous turns of sexual temptation — how can He promise to keep you on the road? 
Two reasons – 
One is because at every treacherous turn He’s posted a warning — “If you come near — you could fall to eternal destruction.” 
The other is because He’s changed your heart so you pay heed to His warnings. 
By God’s grace — every saved person will respond to God’s warnings and turn back before going over the edge to destruction. 
Read the rest HERE.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Two Short Articles for Parents

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Who is Writing Your Child's Story? - Jim Eliff

Would you like to write the script for your child’s future? Of course you would.
Let’s face it, parents are concerned about their kids whether they’re 9 or 39. And they should be . . . in a certain way, and up to a certain point.
When children are small, families are engineered for parental caretaking. Mom knows and cares if the teeth are brushed, and if they are brushed correctly. But a wise parent releases more and more of his/her meticulous oversight as the child grows, in hopes of making a sensible, independent, cogitating human out of that unruly blob of wiggling flesh.
When a child leaves home, except in certain special cases, the child is to function on his or her own, handling money, getting jobs, building relationships, taking care of life in general, and caring for his or her own spiritual development. At first, they were part of the parent’s story; but when they are grown, and out of the home, God begins writing a new story through their lives.
Yet, we parents, even those of us who believe in Christ, often find it difficult to sit back and let God write the story He wants with our children’s lives.
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The Sleepover Question: What to Consider Before Saying Yes - Daryl Wingerd

Some parents are already cautious about allowing their children to attend sleepovers, but many others casually or routinely say “yes” without much thought. Perhaps they are unwilling to disappoint their child, or fearful of offending the inviting family. Maybe they just don’t see any potential harm in their kids spending the night at a friend’s house.

Are there really any significant risks associated with something as kid-friendly as a sleepover? If so, what are they?

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Do Our Prayers for Missionaries Really Matter?

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A man once spent twenty minutes and twenty seconds of his life one day looking at two different emails. The first email was from a local store that shared all of its weekly deals. He studied it in detail, not only hoping to find a great offer, but also to see what was new in the world of technology. He took 20 minutes to do this, although he thought often throughout the rest of the day about what he discovered.

The second email this man received was from a missionary who preaches the gospel and starts churches in a difficult place on the other side of the earth. He didn’t read much of this email, but he did scroll all the way down to the bottom. He deleted it twenty seconds after it was opened. He didn’t think about the missionary one time the rest of the day, but he did ask God to bless “all of the missionaries out there” during family devotions that night.

I’m ashamed to say that the man in the story above was me. Thankfully, God has graciously shown me a better way. Sure, we’re free to look through a local store’s weekly ad and make wise purchases, but something is amiss in our lives and churches if we treat the reports of missionaries as flippantly as I did. We have a responsibility to partner with them not only financially, but prayerfully.
Read the rest HERE.

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Prayers that Kill a Prayer Meeting

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Prayers that Kill a Prayer Meeting


1. The prayer that pretends to address God but is really intended to correct men

2. The prayer that is really preaching... Prayermons

3. The prayer thats done just to fill time

4. The prayer that's all about self

5. The prayer that is mumbled

6. The prayer that is so loud it's just to show people how loud you can pray

7. The prayer that goes on for so long by the end of it all the brethren are asleep

8. The prayer that really doesn't believe God is going to answer

9. The prayer that is only done to show how evangelistic you are by naming all the people you've witnessed to on that day or week

10. The prayer that is only done because you want people to pray more like you

-Mack Tomlinson
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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Why Do Christians Grow So Slowly?

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Archibald Alexander (1772-1851), founder of Princeton Seminary:
It seems desirable to ascertain, as precisely as we can, the reasons why Christians commonly are of so diminutive a stature and of such feeble strength in their religion. 
When persons are truly converted they always are sincerely desirous to make rapid progress in piety; and there are not wanting exceeding great and gracious promises of aid to encourage them to go forward with alacrity. Why then is so little advancement made? Are there not some practical mistakes very commonly entertained, which are the cause of this slowness of growth?
I think there are, and will endeavour to specify some of them. 
And first, there is a defect in our belief of the freeness of divine grace. 
To exercise unshaken confidence in the doctrine of gratuitous pardon is one of the most difficult things in the world; and to preach this doctrine fully without verging towards antinomianism is no easy task, and is therefore seldom done. But Christians cannot but be lean and feeble when deprived of the proper nutriment. It is by faith, that the spiritual life is made to grow; and the doctrine of free grace, without any mixture of human merit, is the only true object of faith. 
Christians are too much inclined to depend on themselves, and not to derive their life entirely from Christ. There is a spurious legal religion, which may flourish without the practical belief in the absolute freeness of divine grace, but it possesses none of the characteristics of the Christian's life. . . . Even when the true doctrine is acknowledged, in theory, often it is not practically felt and acted on. The new convert lives upon his frames, rather than on Christ; and the older Christian still is found struggling in his own strength . . . and then he sinks into a gloomy despondency. . . . 
Here, I am persuaded, is the root of the evil; and until religious teachers inculcate clearly, fully, and practically, the grace of God as manifested in the gospel, we shall have no vigorous growth of piety among professing Christians. 
--Archibald Alexander, Thoughts on Religious Experience (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1844), 201-2

HT: Dane Ortlund
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Crushed for Success - Ryan Fullerton

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HERE is a fantastic message on ministry that every Christian needs to hear! Does it often feel like everything goes wrong when you try to minister to others? Then everything is probably going exactly as it should.

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The Reality of Assurance

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The Reality of Assurance

Persistence in sin destroys the assurance of salvation.
 - John Piper

Our perseverance is a gift from God. In our salvation, God blesses us with assurance through His gift of perseverance (2 Thessalonians 3:5). However, many Christians lack full assurance of their salvation because their understanding of assurance is founded on the constantly changing emotions of their hearts rather than on the eternal Word of God.
- Burk Parsons

Any way of salvation that depends on something that we must contribute can never bring assurance to us, for we can never be sure we have done enough to help.
- Sinclair Ferguson

There is nothing Satan can do to alter or undermine the fact that we are saved. Not “angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). But what he can do is erode our assurance and confidence that we are saved. Our salvation, our standing with God, does not fluctuate or diminish with our success or failure in spiritual battles. But Satan is determined to convince us that it does.
 - Sam Storms

HT: Mack T

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Today's Manna in Prayer

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Today's Manna in Prayer

When we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread," we are, in a measure, shutting tomorrow out of our prayer. We do not live in tomorrow but in today. We do not seek tomorrow's grace or tomorrow's bread. They thrive best, and get most out of life, who live in the living present. They pray best who pray for today's needs, not for tomorrow's, which may render our prayers unnecessary and redundant by not existing at all!

True prayers are born of present trials and present needs. Bread, for today, is bread enough. Bread given for today is the strongest sort of pledge that there will be bread tomorrow. Victory today, is the assurance of victory tomorrow. Our prayers need to be focussed upon the present, We must trust God today, and leave the morrow entirely with Him. The present is ours; the future belongs to God. Prayer is the task and duty of each recurring day -- daily prayer for daily needs.

As every day demands its bread, so every day demands its prayer. No amount of praying, done today, will suffice for tomorrow's praying. On the other hand, no praying for tomorrow is of any great value to us today. To-day's manna is what we need; tomorrow God will see that our needs are supplied. This is the faith which God seeks to inspire. So leave tomorrow, with its cares, its needs, its troubles, in God's hands. There is no storing tomorrow's grace or tomorrow's praying; neither is there any laying-up of today's grace, to meet tomorrow's necessities. We cannot have tomorrow's grace, we cannot eat tomorrow's bread, we cannot do tomorrow's praying. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof;" and, most assuredly, if we possess faith, sufficient also, will be the good.

- E. M. Bounds

HT: Mack T

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Monday, May 07, 2012

Nothing Remains for Us But to Sing Hallelujah!

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“All that mankind have heaped up to themselves against the day of God’s holy and righteous wrath — their forgetfulness of God, their selfish conduct, their disobedience, pride, worldly-mindedness, their filthy lusts, hypocrisy, falsehood, hardheartedness, and deceit — all are united and mingled in this cup, and ferment together into a horrible potion.

‘Shall I not drink this cup?’ asks the Saviour. ‘Yes,’ we reply, ‘empty it, beloved Immanuel! We will kiss thy feet, and offer up ourselves to Thee upon Thy holy altar!’ He has emptied it, and not a drop remains for His people. The satisfaction He rendered was complete, the reconciliation effected, and now nothing remains for us but to sing Hallelujah!”

— F. W. Krummacher
The Suffering Savior
(Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth, 2004), 139

HT: Of First Importance

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You Belong to Christ, Not to Your Children

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A good reminder HERE, especially for the stay-at-home moms. An excerpt:
We’re so wrapped up with encouraging mothers to love their children and delight in them (which we should do appropriately) that we neglect THE WOMAN’S SOUL. Ladies you have eternal souls, you belong to Jesus, not to your children. Make your lives revolve around Christ, not your children. I believe you will find that when we focus on Christ, our parenting will harmonize around him. You will be able to love and serve your children better. 
To repeat what I recently said on a friend’s blog: To the young mom, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of pursuing your relationship with Christ Jesus with passion and rigor. Out of this will flow all things. It’s okay to read blogs, articles and books that give schooling and parenting advice, but if that is your diet, you are headed for disaster. Feed on Christ, let that be your main food. It’s okay to read those other things, but in small quantities or they will become your rule of law and your eyes will be taken off of Christ.
Read the rest HERE.

HT: Challies

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