Weekly Links (12/15/2017)

“You can grieve for me the week before I die, if I’m scared and hurting, but when I gasp that last fleeting breath and my immortal soul flees to heaven, I’m going to be jumping over fire hydrants down the golden streets, and my biggest concern, if I have any, will be my wife back here grieving.

When I die, I will be identified with Christ’s exaltation. But right now, I’m identified with His affliction.” (R.C. Sproul, A Taste of Heaven)

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Feliz Friday! As Christmas comes upon us, I pray we continue to give thanks to God for the love and care He gives us, and the grace He offers through the fellowship of His saints. With that, I pray these links will serve you in your growth in Christ.

  • It is with great sadness to hear of Dr. R.C. Sproul’s passing yesterday, after being in the hospital his last 12 days due to respiratory difficulties worsened by the flu and complicated by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Founder and former chairman of Ligonier Ministries, former pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, FL, former chancellor of Reformation Bible College, he leaves behind his wife of 57 years, Vesta, two children, 11 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. He was 78 years old. Chris Larson of Ligonier Ministries gives the initial news on Ligonier’s site, while Ligonier Chairman Robert Godfrey and teaching fellow Stephen Nichols gives a tribute to this great man of God. Al Mohler writes of Sproul’s influence on his own life, as does John Piper. Justin Taylor gives a detailed obituary of his life here on earth. He will be deeply missed by many who knew him, and many more who didn’t. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
  • Denny Burk comments on Pope Francis’ desire to change the phrase “lead us not into temptation” to “do not let us fall into temptation.” We would do well to point Roman Catholics to the true and only infallible authority given to the church, the Word of God.
  • Jason Engwer at Triablogue gives yet another reason why Christmas apologetics merits discussion: the decrease of Americans’ belief in a Christian view of Christmas. May God grant us opportunities to share Christ’s birth with those who don’t yet know Him.
  • Pastor Chris Brauns began a series of messages at his church titled, “Leading Our Emotions Through the Holidays” this month. You can read a summary of his first message, “Leading Our Emotions I – Depression,” which includes a link to the audio.

That’s all for this week! Please be in prayer for our SDSU collegians, as they go through finals through next week, and for our Christmas concert tomorrow! We look forward to continue celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. See you on Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria

Yea Rather, Blessed Are They That Hear The Word Of God, And Keep It

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Luke 11:27-28

It is fondly imagined by some that it must have involved very special privileges to have been the mother of our Lord, because they supposed that she had the benefit of looking into His very heart in a way in which we cannot hope to do. There may be an appearance of plausibility in the supposition, but not much. We do not know that Mary knew more than others; what she did know she did well to lay up in her heart; but she does not appear from anything we read in the Evangelists to have been a better-instructed believer than any other of Christ’s disciples. All that she knew we also may discover. Do you wonder that we should say so? Here is a text to prove it: ‘The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.’

Remember the Master’s words-‘Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.’ So blessedly does this Divine Revealer of secrets tell us His heart, that He keepeth back nothing which is profitable to us; His own assurance is, ‘If it were not so, I would have told you.’ Doth He not this day manifest Himself unto us as He doth not unto the world? It is even so; and therefore we will not ignorantly cry out, ‘Blessed is the womb that bare thee,’ but we will intelligently bless God that, having heard the Word and kept it, we have first of all as true a communion with the Saviour as the Virgin had, and in the second place as true an acquaintance with the secrets of His heart as she can be supposed to have obtained. Happy soul to be thus privileged!


Weekly Links (12/8/2017)

“The best thing you can do for your marriage is to grow closer to Jesus. The more you understand and appreciate God’s love for you in Christ, the better your marriage will be as you reflect that love to your spouse. A strong marriage in which both partners are showing Christlike love to each other will help both of them to better appreciate God’s gracious love. One reason that a Christian would never want to marry an unbeliever is that a non-Christian does not know the love of Christ and, as a result, is incapable of expressing Christlike love.” (Jim Newheiser, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Critical Questions and Answers)

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Feliz Friday! Well, another week has passed during this Advent season, so we hope your anticipation of celebrating Christ’s birth has been a great blessing to all of you. With the recent fires, there is much to pray for with respect to our prayers. Let’s continue to ask God to be gracious to those who are affected, and also to use those fighting the fires and end the destruction taking place near our homes. Even during this time, may these links be of help to you and draw you closer to Christ.

  • Tim Challies gives three productivity tips that can be of help for you in the new year. You don’t even have to wait until January 1st to get started! Start being productive, to God’s glory, today!
  • Since Christmas is coming, and many are thinking of gifts to buy for their loved ones, some may love a good book that helps them grow in Christ. You may not know where to start, but I found a couple lists that may be a timely blessing: Fred Zaspel’s and Tony Reinke’s booklists. Reinke’s includes the occasional charismatic writer (Jack Deere and Sam Storms), so be discerning in what you find.
  • There has been a lot of anticipation regarding Jack Phillips’ ‘refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding’ case being taken to the Supreme Court by many Christians, so here’s a great recap from Denny Burk. Al Mohler chimes in as well on his podcast The Briefing.
  • The Acts 29 Network has faced a lot of storms in its nearly 20-year existence. Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra writes of the long history, survival, and future of this group of church-planting churches. You will be surprised at some of the problems, and how God has worked in the hearts of many leaders to refocus its heart on planting churches to honor and serve our Lord, Jesus Christ.
  • Does calling Jesus Lord have any inherent implications? Pastor Jesse Johnson and New Testament scholar Murray Harris emphatically say, yes! Harris lists out eight. Do you agree with Scripture’s perspective on the matter?
  • Crossway has started an eight-day reading challenge this week through the Gospel of Luke and Acts to re-familiarize ourselves to the celebration of Christ’s birth. In case you want to read a devotional for the same reason, you can look no further than John Piper. Here is today’s devotional, with links to the previous entries at the bottom.
  • What is the goal of every friendship/relationship? How you answer that question will color the regular interactions you have with those whom you would call, ‘friend.’ Michael Kelley lays out five implications for those kinds of relationship that are defined by the gospel. With this in mind, do you have any gospel-influenced friendships?
  • Many children will be receiving gifts this Christmas, but what is one gift everyone would agree kids need? A safe bet would be patience. How can parents cultivate that into their kids? Pastor Scott James gives some solid wisdom, especially in light of the Advent season.
  • Andrew Walker gives some practical outworkings of talking to someone who identifies as transgender. There is a lot of food for thought here, but hopefully a lot to pray for, as well.

That’s all for this week! Please be in prayer for our youth, who will be having their Christmas party tonight, and the collegians, who will be having Bible study. See you all on Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria

Good Grace to a Bad Sinner

by Roger Alcaraz

I’ve only been a pastor a few years, but one of the highlights of it is that I get to be at the membership interviews and hear people’s testimonies of how they are saved. And even in just a few years, I’ve heard a wide variety of them, ranging from 30 seconds long to two hours long, from people who were born into a Christian home to people who never even heard of Jesus until later in life, from people who lived an outwardly moral life to people who lived in open rebellion. But even with all of the details that make each testimony unique, all of them, if genuine, center around one theme and one person–the grace found in Jesus Christ. Our testimonies are amazing and I hope it’s not just something you reserve for interviews, but that you can’t help but to recount it every time the gospel message is thought of.

The apostle Paul was a man who deeply saw how the gospel changed his own life. In 1 Timothy 1:11 Paul speaks of “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” and even just the mere mention of the gospel is enough to take over his thoughts, and he can’t shake how it affects him. This is supposed to be a letter to help Timothy know how to conduct himself in the household of God, and yet the gospel is so personal to Paul that he can’t even say the word without going into his own testimony.

And throughout the next six verses, Paul recounts his former life and how God extended great mercy to him. But in the middle of it all, he says something worth taking a closer look at. He says: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” If I had only a few words to share the core gospel message, it might say exactly this. Yet for Paul, it was more than a message to spread to others; it was a message for himself.

We always ask in our membership interviews, “What is the gospel?” Maybe that’s even a question you’ve been asked by friends. And we can easily just state the facts, but for Paul, the gospel was personal. That’s why Paul goes on to say, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

He preaches the gospel message to himself because he can’t escape the idea that the gospel is, first and foremost, for him. And what this shows is that in the midst of Paul going to the ends of the earth with the gospel and sharing it with thousands of people, he’s thinking, “This gospel that I’m preaching–nobody needs it more than I do.”

I don’t think Paul was giving an objective statement that he was, indeed, the worse sinner ever, but that from his perspective, nobody needed grace more than himself. Some think that Paul is referring to his past life of sin and persecution, but that’s not the case. He doesn’t say, “of whom I was the foremost.” He says, “whom I am the foremost.” I am the foremost of sinners and I am still undeserving of salvation.

And he can have that perspective, even as an apostle writing the Word of God, because he knows the depths of his own sin and the heights of Christ’s holiness. Paul understood that Jesus had absolutely no obligation to do anything good for him. Thus, Paul could see salvation as magnificent grace, and in response his life then became all about the gospel.

There’s a good lesson for us to apply here. Paul was entrusted with the gospel message, just as we are, but as we seek to proclaim the gospel to others, the question we need to ask is, “Do we view ourselves the way Paul viewed himself?” Is the gospel more than how Christ saved sinners but how he even saved you? And do you let that impact your own life before taking it to others? I think if we’re going to make a greater impact for God’s kingdom while honoring him each step of the way, it begins with how personal we view God’s grace and how overwhelmed we are to be recipients of it. Let us learn from Paul’s example and marvel at the grace in our own lives before we seek it in others. And even as we share the gospel with others, may the world see just how astounded we are that God would save sinners like you and me.

Weekly Links (12/5/2017)

by Stephen Rodgers

I know what you’re thinking: a Weekly Links articles but it’s not a Friday? This place has totally lost the plot since Richard moved to Orange County!

Well, in this case, even Richard couldn’t have prevented the awkward timing of December’s first Friday being so close to the beginning of the month that resources weren’t even out yet. But they’re out now, so buckle up and hang on…

  • Why the Reformation Still Matters (free audiobook) – This month’s free offerring from christianaudio.com is actually pretty great. Reeves and Chester do a fantastic job of tracing the applications of church history down through the centuries to our current day. This is definitely recommended.
  • Psalms, Vol. 1: Psalms 1–41 (free Logos resource) – Boice is a great commentator, and the Psalms aren’t too shabby either. If you’re a Logos user, grab it. Don’t even think twice.
  • The Temple (free Tabletalk magazine) – I always recommend Tabletalk, and this month is no exception.
  • Themelios 42.3 (free journal) – You may want to peruse the TOC and the list of book reviews for articles that interest you, but this journal is still my go-to resource for DA Carson editorials. Don’t miss one of those.
  • Crucial Questions (28 free ebooks) – While we wouldn’t agree with RC Sproul about every particular of theology, these 28 free books are an amazing resource for just about anyone. And they’re free in every conceivable format (EPUB, Kindle, iBooks, etc.) Some are also available in Spanish!

Well there you go. That’s a pretty great haul in time for Christmas, so enjoy!

Pro Rege

Waiting For The Adoption

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Romans 8:23

Even in this world saints are God’s children, but men cannot discover them to be so, except by certain moral characteristics. The adoption is not manifested, the children are not yet openly declared. Among the Romans a man might adopt a child, and keep it private for a long time: but there was a second adoption in public; when the child was brought before the constituted authorities its former garments were taken off, and the father who took it to be his child gave it raiment suitable to its new condition of life. ‘Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.’ We are not yet arrayed in the apparel which befits the royal family of heaven; we are wearing in this flesh and blood just what we wore as the sons of Adam; but we know that ‘when He shall appear’ who is the ‘first-born among many brethren,’ we shall be like Him, we shall see Him as He is.

Cannot you imagine that a child taken from the lowest ranks of society, and adopted by a Roman senator, would say to himself, ‘I long for the day when I shall be publicly adopted. Then I shall leave off these plebeian garments, and be robed as becomes my senatorial rank’? Happy in what he has received, for that very reason he groans to get the fulness of what is promised him. So it is with us today. We are waiting till we shall put on our proper garments, and shall be manifested as the children of God. We are young nobles, and have not yet worn our coronets. We are young brides, and the marriage day is not yet come, and by the love our Spouse bears us, we are led to long and sigh for the bridal morning. Our very happiness makes us groan after more; our joy, like a swollen spring, longs to well up like an Iceland geyser, leaping to the skies, and it heaves and groans within our spirit for want of space and room by which to manifest itself to men.


All Church Retreat Reflections: Brief Student Interviews

by Josh Liu

All Church Retreat is a special time for the whole church family to gather together for a weekend of personal fellowship and intense study of God’s Word. As the church grows (by God’s grace), these opportunities for whole-church intimacy become increasingly important. In serving in College Life, I am always encouraged by the collegians’ investment and participation in their church family.

The 2017 All Church Retreat (Nov. 3-5) focused on the theme, “The Mission Minded Church.” Tim Carns, pastor of missions and discipleship at Calvary Bible Church in Burbank, CA, gave four sessions: (1) A Mission-Minded God (Eph. 1:9-10, 4:11-16; Acts 1:8; 2 Tim. 2:2); (2) A Mission-Minded Gospel (1 Cor. 2:1-5; Zech. 4:4-7); (3) A Mission-Minded Home (Deut. 6:4-9; Ps. 78:1-8; Matt. 5:13-16); and (4) A Mission-Minded Heart (Jonah). In reflecting on the retreat and messages, here are brief interview responses from some of our students:

Abe Cheung

Pastor Tim Carns gave me a much-needed reminder that it is only the gospel that saves. No, not even vibrant and “hip” ministry events. No, not even spectacular and ear-appealing worship songs. No, not even pious and excellent conduct in the workplace. It is so easy to twist the simplicity and the beauty of the truth that the gospel saves. Sure, events, songs, and proper conduct are helpful towards the gospel ministry, but it should never replace the gospel itself. I definitely fall into this incorrect thinking too often—that Christ needs my extra work to save people. Then it becomes the gospel AND my deeds that save people. But rather it is only the gospel that saves. And I must depend upon that, not my works, to save people. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:16‬ ‭‬‬‬‬‬‬‬)

Christian Cheng

Pastor Tim Carns’ message on “The Mission-Minded Home” was, for me, a much-needed reminder of God’s grace in bringing my parents to salvation and working in them to foster faithfulness in my family. Like many others who grew up in a Christian home, I went to church every week, read Christian books, and attended kid’s programs like AWANA and BSF. For many church kids, these activities feel so normal. We don’t always realize how much our parents have blessed us by fostering the attitude of a mission-minded home. However, hearing Pastor Tim emphasize the importance of teaching sound doctrine and biblical character helped me recognize how faithful my parents have been in ministering to their mission field at home. When I first started college and moved away from family, the influence they had on me became more important than ever. As a collegian, I still look back on their wisdom and teaching and apply them to the way I live my life now. I’m thankful for my family and their faithfulness, and most of all, I thank God for using them as instruments to preach the Gospel to me.

Connie Pung

This year’s All Church Retreat theme about how to be a mission minded church was a great reminder of God’s will for my life here on earth. I was reminded of how it is only by God’s grace that I am able to receive the Holy Spirit and receive salvation through Jesus Christ.
The session on how to be a mission-minded home stood out to me the most. Although I don’t have believing parents, I am still able to witness the faithfulness of the parents at Lighthouse and see how they teach their children, truly hoping to see their child know Christ. It also reminded me that my focus on evangelism shouldn’t be solely towards peers and overlook the children—they are lost souls as well in need of a Savior.

Other than the messages, I think it was just encouraging to meet other people in the church from different life stages and be encouraged by how God has been challenging them. We may not be in the same area all the time, but we are able to still share this special bond in knowing that we are God’s children and instruments in furthering His kingdom!

Hannah Tan

A convicting lesson I took from retreat this year was the necessity, urgency, and beauty of sharing the gospel, and the need to be mindful of where my hope in evangelism is founded. Oftentimes, in the workplace and at school, I have bolstered my timidity to share the gospel with the mentality that my example will be enough to show people who Christ is. In Pastor Tim Carns’ second message, he challenged this mentality by quoting Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.” Pastor Tim emphasized that only the gospel, illumined by the work of the Holy Spirit, can save. I realized that to think my example alone is sufficient to bring people to Christ is to deny that the sole and sovereign work of God is the only means to salvation. I was reminded that we are not to be ashamed of the gospel, for only the gospel saves. And I was challenged to confront my Jonah-like heart, the heart that is quick to forget God’s mercy to save me, realizing that desiring salvation for and sharing the gospel with others is learning to love them more than I love my comfort.

Karen Chang

One significant lesson I learned was how the events that go on during our lives all point toward God’s greater plan. Session #1 was a huge reminder of how I have to break away from the tunnel vision I have on my own goals and desires in life to be a part of His bigger mission to preach and live the Gospel. It’s never my will that needs to be done, but His will. Ephesians 1:9-10 tells us that the mystery of His will is supposed to be revealed to us, not just figured out on our own. It is not us writing our own plans for what will happen in the future but God. All that we gain in wisdom and insight is a gift from God, and all of the actions we do and efforts we take to serve one another and/or evangelize are planned in advance by God. Therefore, I am to realize that the race we run is to fill a specific role chosen by God to see that Christ is lifted up to the ends of the earth. I pray that I can continue to prioritize Him first when managing my time, gifts, and resources so that I can fill my spot in His ongoing mission to make disciples of all nations!

Nathan Park

My most memorable moment from retreat was the encouragement and honesty that came from members of our church family during the time of sharing. Growing up, I’ve always heard the ambitious and passionate cry for missions being preached to students and children, but seeing that call for being “mission-minded” is for all of us as believers of Christ regardless of the particular life stage the person is simply a sober joy for me.

One significant lesson I learned was how the Book of Jonah turns itself to check the reader towards the end of the book. Essentially, God not only looks at the act of living “mission-minded” lives but he also checks the heart and motive to show his just mercy towards traitors and rebels like ourselves. It is by God’s grace we live “mission-minded” lives. In application of the messages I’m going to commit to praying and asking the Lord to show me areas where I am dull and careless about his mission and to turn and seek to weave Gospel-centered conversations in my own daily life. Whether working, studying, or serving, I seek to daily remember that, ultimately, we live for a “Mission-minded God.”

Zachary Preslar

This past retreat God made it evident to me that I do not simply reside at LBCSD as a student leader of College Life, but that my membership makes me part of the whole of the local church, and that I should not neglect to fellowship with the whole church body (Hebrews 10:24-25). Seeing the way our church emphasizes the wisdom of God, even to the children’s ministry has humbled me, because only in the Word can true wisdom be found. Wisdom apart from the Word is not wisdom, but foolishness (1 Corinthians 3:18-20), and God, through Sonlight, further expanded the priceless value of His wisdom to me when they led worship. God’s wisdom is timeless just as He is eternal (Psalm 102:23-28), whether you are just learning to walk or old enough to teach your little ones to walk.

Renewing Our Minds for Rejoicing, Pt. 8 – “Think Patiently”

by Pastor James Lee

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)

To think well is to think patiently, slowly, thoughtfully, over time, to “dwell on these things.” To think patiently, also means, to think persistently, faithfully, continually, consistently – we’re to ponder them without ceasing, as patience requires lots of time and humility, for we don’t get it all at once. It’s why we see things later upon restudy. The Greek word for “dwell” is logizomai which is the root word for logarithm. We need to have the same deliberate, prolonged, patient contemplation of “these things” as it takes to weigh and solve a difficult, complex mathematical problem. We don’t do that quickly, nor superficially.

Remember that 1 Cor 13 declares love is patient. So then impatience is not loving. It’s a form of self-love. Sometimes I sin against my wife Sandy when she’s talking to me, and I’m not listening or not listening well, trying to multitask. But that’s not loving her when I do that, especially when something important from her heart is being shared. The truth is that we do that with the Lord. We’re not fully there, are we? If you want an argument for the grace of God, then there’s at least one right there. He doesn’t treat believers as they deserve, and He doesn’t treat us as we treat Him. T. David Gordon wrote, “We become acclimated to distraction, to multitasking, to giving part of our attention to many things at once, while almost never devoting the entire attention of the entire soul to anything.” Wow. That’s pretty descriptive of the age and even us as Christians, who are products of this age. That’s hardly loving God with all our entire being, is it? We sort of mechanically do that. Remember who was quite good at that? The Pharisees…they were always hearing, but not understanding. They were busy in religion and life, but their hearts were far from God.

We’ve generally neglected the art of biblical meditation. We don’t seem to know what it means to be still and know that He is God. Try to convince someone you love them by giving them 10 minutes a day, or by saying the same rehearsed lines every time you speak to them? We need to concentrate and camp out in God’s Word. We need to fill up our minds with biblical truth, instead of never drawing from its deep well, with only sips, here and there, when we’re in trouble. Rather, we need to chew it over in our minds until it becomes a part of us and how we think. Gerard Chrispin says, “We read and rush off too quickly. We listen to the Bible being expounded and leave too thoughtlessly. We must meditate on these things in order to cultivate that mindset of holiness that we had been considering.” We shouldn’t be assigning “patient thoughtful mediation” such little value, while assigning greater value elsewhere. We need to make for a quiet time early in the morning, or in a private space at lunch, or in a corner of the house at night. So we’re reading and rereading, meditating, asking questions, praying over a word or phrase, contemplating a concrete application, sharing with others, and taking every thought captive to Christ! It requires us to think patiently, to think slowly, to think devotionally, and not just check it off our spiritual-to-do list.

The Puritan Isaac Watts wrote a standard introductory book on how to think in 1724. For about 200 years, it was the go-to-textbook at institutions like Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, and Yale, and is still regarded highly. The title of that book was Logic: The Right Uses of Reason in the Inquiry After Truth With a Variety of Rules to Guard Against Error in the Affairs of Religion and Human Life, as well as in the Sciences. That’s the title! Some say my sermon titles are long? Now do you think Isaac Watts knew how to mediate and think deeply? It seems so. That’s why his book has stood the test of time. Not just the content, but how it was communicated as part of the writing process. That’s why most of us can’t just read Shakespeare quickly. We have to sit there and decipher it. We don’t read poetry or philosophy like we read our daily newspaper. So when we read our Bibles, how much more we have to give patient attention to every single word, phrase, thought? In contrast, Kent Hughes says, “The greatest danger in our busy, increasingly post-literate world is that we make little or no effort to think God’s thoughts after Him, to hide His Word in our hearts so that we might not sin against Him. We cannot be profoundly influenced by that which we do not know.”

Why are we all in such a hurry? I know there is no virtue in being not busy, as we should be diligent stewards of what the Lord has entrusted to us… which is everything we have and are. So the question is what are we so busy in? Do we love Christ? Is He our all in all, sufficient for all our needs? Is He our overarching priority directing all other priorities to be subservient to His glory? Are we seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness? Or is the reflection of our lives not very different than the rest of the world… run the rat race, make money, get a home, have 2 ½ kids, or whatever else it might be? Some of us need to stop watching TV as much as we do, or some of us, perhaps frankly need to throw them away. TV as a medium is impatient and suited for the insignificant. Watching the news or reading an online article about Aleppo might inform us, sadden us, cause to pray, and I’m glad we have that access. But it’s quite different if we were there on mission or if we were to read a book, giving lengthy contemplation to what’s going on there. For example, the book by Mindy Belz, a reporter who was on the ground with fleeing refugees, titled They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. If you read that, you don’t think you’ll be profoundly affected? Don’t get me wrong, any news and prayer and care is good, because we can’t dwell on everything equally. That’s not what I’m saying. But I’m outlining what our media does…it makes those things so disposable…so sadly trivial to our hearts.

We need time to think. Anything hurried usually is shallow, declining toward the opposite of deep. It is NOT something even close to being worthy as God’s loving Revelation to us! Carl Honore in his book In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed wrote, “We live in a world of scarce understanding and abundance of information. We complain that we never have any time, yet we seek distraction. The modern storm of bits and stimulation relents only when we sleep. And only if we remember to turn off our iPhones. Lost in all of this is the art of stillness. We have come into the belief that the simple act of reading confers understanding. We rush, we skim the surface, and fail to make real connections with the world or other people. Thinking requires time and space. It’s slow. It means saying I don’t know.” It means, he says, saying I don’t know. Ultimately, it’s about humility. Listen, sports fans leave games early, no matter how close the score, just to avoid the traffic out. The curse of multitasking is that people think they’re so clever, so efficient, so modern, but all it usually means, is that they’re usually doing 2 or more things…not very well.

We’ve lost the art of doing nothing, shutting out the background noise. Did you know that “boredom” was a word that didn’t even exist 150 years ago? Somehow we say we’re so busy, but then have the gall to say we’re bored. And we get all fidgety, panicked, awkward, looking for something to do or say. We don’t like silence, whether we’re with people or whether we’re home alone. Being bored demands repentance, and I don’t say that flippantly, because you’re not then doing what God calls you to do. We should never be bored. As children of God, called to be a light to the nations, we have too much to do…to be “bored.”

Actress Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia in Star Wars, once quipped, “instant gratification takes too long.” We’re so impatient, and that’s not a fruit of the Spirit. And I’m not patient, I’m a type A, gotta do this or that, burn myself out type of person. As I age, I’m still as passionate as ever, but not only have I had to slow down and learn the sanctification of rest. I’m learning the utmost importance of quiet study, prayer, and meditation. I have to say no to say yes. Honore said, “Fast is busy, controlling, aggressive, hurried, stressed, superficial, impatient, quantity over quality. Slow is the opposite: calm, careful, receptive, caring, patient, reflective. Fast eats time. One consequence of fast is that we make poor decision after poor decision. It’s not like we make a bad decision and we’re done with it. No, they come back to haunt us, creating issue after issue.” To dwell on these things is to give thoughtful thought to, with the goal of God’s glory and the spread of the gospel! It’s not hearing a few facts from a guide as we stop to click a few photos and nod to each other “it’s so cool” while on a bus tour. It means getting out and spending time there, taking it in and allowing it to become a significant part of us. It’s to set up base camp at the foot of Yosemite Valley and marvel. Even further, it’s to explore the back country wilderness, and feel the incline and thin air, to brush against weather, hang your bear proof food canister up on a tree, lay down next to the camp fire and see a night sky like you’ve never seen it. The inverse irony of our times is that the average length of a sermon has declined 10 minutes each of the last four decades where 40 years ago the average sermon was 60 minutes, and today, it’s 20 minutes. I argue that to think that less of the Word of God is making real progress, is NOT thinking well?! That’s NOT thinking well! That’s thinking like the world. We’re all busy, but the question is with what are we busy? We should not deprioritize the Word of God and prayer, we should re-prioritize it!

John Piper urges us to swim in the deep end of the Bible, “Too many of us settle for too little from our Bible reading. Often, we are content simply to check off the box of our Bible reading, and if we come across something we don’t understand, we’ll run to a commentary or give up without a fight. The payoff of this type of shallow reading is too small. If we want to walk away from the Bible with authority in our bones like fire, we must learn to grow hungry in our Bible reading — we must learn to grow discontent with splashing in the shallows and learn to swim in the deeps. We must labor in looking at THE book.” Humility means saying I don’t know. So when we’re rushing, we’re only cultivating our arrogance towards God and man. That’s the opposite of prayerful dependence in v.6-7! Which is why I believe, we don’t pray deeply, why we don’t pray at length. It is why prayer meetings are usually small, very small, or not at all in our day… and always far less attended than Bible study. It’s our prideful independence, not prayer dependence. It is also partly why we don’t read our Bibles, or take it more seriously. Because in that prideful independence, we entertain in defiance of its very clear instructions…such “respectable sins” as bitterness, discontentment, indifference, immodesty, clear non-evangelism, laziness, neglect of fellowship, subtle greed, worldliness, etc. As Sven Birkerts warned, “The harder it is for you to slow down, the more you need to be rescued.”

Ephraim Is A Cake Not Turned

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Hosea 7:8

A cake not turned is uncooked on one side; and so Ephraim was, in many respects, untouched by divine grace: though there was some partial obedience, there was very much rebellion left. My soul, I charge thee, see whether this be thy case. Art thou thorough in the things of God? Has grace gone through the very centre of thy being so as to be felt in its divine operations in all thy powers, thy actions, thy words, and thy thoughts? To be sanctified, spirit, soul, and body, should be thine aim and prayer; and although sanctification may not be perfect in thee anywhere in degree, yet it must be universal in its action; there must not be the appearance of holiness in one place and reigning sin in another, else thou, too, wilt be a cake not turned.

A cake not turned is soon burnt on the side nearest the fire, and although no man can have too much religion, there are some who seem burnt black with bigoted zeal for that part of truth which they have received, or are charred to a cinder with a vainglorious Pharisaic ostentation of those religious performances which suit their humour. The assumed appearance of superior sanctity frequently accompanies a total absence of all vital godliness. The saint in public is a devil in private. He deals in flour by day and in soot by night. The cake which is burned on one side, is dough on the other.

If it be so with me, O Lord, turn me! Turn my unsanctified nature to the fire of Thy love and let it feel the sacred glow, and let my burnt side cool a little while I learn my own weakness and want of heat when I am removed from Thy heavenly flame. Let me not be found a double-minded man, but one entirely under the powerful influence of reigning grace; for well I know if I am left like a cake unturned, and am not on both sides the subject of Thy grace, I must be consumed for ever amid everlasting burnings.


Weekly Links (11/24/2017)

“Wisdom, according to the Bible, has nothing to do with how well you did on your SATs, with how many books you’ve read, or with your abilities in logical debate. Wisdom is a different kind of skill. (Notice in Exodus 28:3; 35:25; and 36:1 that skillfulness is the essential meaning of the Hebrew word wisdom.) Biblical wisdom is the skill of pleasing God that comes as a result of a personal, submissive relationship with Him—a relationship that affects every choice in your life.” (Chris Anderson, Joe Tyrpak, Carl Trueman, Gospel Meditations for Prayer)

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Feliz Friday! Well, Thanksgiving has come and is almost gone, so I wanted to share some resources that relate to this holiday and beyond. Enjoy this (special) week’s links!

That’s all for this week! Hope you all are thankful to God for the gift of His Son, and spend this weekend thanking Him most of all. Hope you all can worship the Lord on Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria