Thursday, April 28, 2011

In Light of My Last Post....

I thought this post by John Piper was outstanding. If we are living in this world, we do not have to be of it! I hope this serves as a help for all men and women who desire to honor God with our thoughts, eyes, and lives!

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/anthem-strategies-for-fighting-lust

ANTHEM: Strategies for Fighting Lust


November 05, 2001
by John Piper
Topic: Sexual Purity

Subscribe to... Text Only Feed Sermon Audio Sermon Video Sermon Text View list of podcasts and feeds .I have in mind men and women. For men it's obvious. The need for warfare against the bombardment of visual temptation to fixate on sexual images is urgent. For women it is less obvious, but just as great if we broaden the scope of temptation to food or figure or relational fantasies. When I say "lust" I mean the realm of thought, imagination, and desire that leads to sexual misconduct. So here is one set of strategies in the war against wrong desires. I put it in the form of an acronym, A N T H E M.

A – AVOID as much as is possible and reasonable the sights and situations that arouse unfitting desire. I say "possible and reasonable" because some exposure to temptation is inevitable. And I say "unfitting desire" because not all desires for sex, food, and family are bad. We know when they are unfitting and unhelpful and on their way to becoming enslaving. We know our weaknesses and what triggers them. "Avoiding" is a Biblical strategy. "Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness" (2 Timothy 2:22). "Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Romans 13:14).

N – Say NO to every lustful thought within five seconds. And say it with the authority of Jesus Christ. "In the name of Jesus, NO!" You don't have much more than five seconds. Give it more unopposed time than that, and it will lodge itself with such force as to be almost immovable. Say it out loud if you dare. Be tough and warlike. As John Owen said, "Be killing sin or it will be killing you." Strike fast and strike hard. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" ( James 4:7).

T – TURN the mind forcefully toward Christ as a superior satisfaction. Saying "no" will not suffice. You must move from defense to offense. Fight fire with fire. Attack the promises of sin with the promises of Christ. The Bible calls lusts "deceitful desires" (Ephesians 4:22). They lie. They promise more than they can deliver. The Bible calls them "passions of your former ignorance" (1 Peter 1:14). Only fools yield. "All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter" (Proverbs 7:22). Deceit is defeated by truth. Ignorance is defeated by knowledge. It must be glorious truth and beautiful knowledge. This is why I wrote Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. We must stock our minds with the superior promises and pleasures of Jesus. Then we must turn to them immediately after saying, "NO!"

H – HOLD the promise and the pleasure of Christ firmly in your mind until it pushes the other images out. "Fix your eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 3:1). Here is where many fail. They give in too soon. They say, "I tried to push it out, and it didn't work." I ask, "How long did you try?" How hard did you exert your mind? The mind is a muscle. You can flex it with vehemence. Take the kingdom violently (Matthew 11:12). Be brutal. Hold the promise of Christ before your eyes. Hold it. Hold it! Don't let it go! Keep holding it! How long? As long as it takes. Fight! For Christ's sake, fight till you win! If an electric garage door were about to crush your child you would hold it up with all our might and holler for help, and hold it and hold it and hold it and hold it.

E – ENJOY a superior satisfaction. Cultivate the capacities for pleasure in Christ. One reason lust reigns in so many is that Christ has so little appeal. We default to deceit because we have little delight in Christ. Don't say, "That's just not me." What steps have you taken to waken affection for Jesus? Have you fought for joy? Don't be fatalistic. You were created to treasure Christ with all your heart – more than you treasure sex or sugar. If you have little taste for Jesus, competing pleasures will triumph. Plead with God for the satisfaction you don't have: "Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days" (Psalm 90:14). Then look, look, look at the most magnificent Person in the universe until you see him the way he is.

M – MOVE into a useful activity away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviors. Lust grows fast in the garden of leisure. Find a good work to do, and do it with all your might. "Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord" (Romans 12:11). "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). Abound in work. Get up and do something. Sweep a room. Hammer a nail. Write a letter. Fix a faucet. And do it for Jesus' sake. You were made to manage and create. Christ died to make you "zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:14). Displace deceitful lusts with a passion for good deeds.

Fighting at your side,

Pastor John

Thursday, April 21, 2011

An Easter Confession...

I have a confession…every year at Easter I am a bit uneasy in the way we celebrate. I have no problem, and in fact rejoice that we do celebrate - and really my issue is not that we celebrate on Easter, but just that we make it so much bigger than any other Sunday. For the believer, every Sunday is a Sunday that we corporately celebrate the resurrection of Christ! I have heard one preacher say: “Easter is Super Bowl Sunday For The Church.” Really? I do get excited that Easter Sunday offers us a great opportunity to preach the Gospel to many people who do not know Christ; those who are only coming because that is what they always do before they go to grandma’s house to eat and hunt eggs. I sincerely rejoice that there are people who will hear the Gospel - and I pray that the Lord moves them to turn in repentance and faith to the one true God. But for the believer, should it be more of a worship service than any other Sunday? Should we come in more excited? Should we come with a higher expectation to focus on the cross and resurrection?


I believe for the Body of Christ, every Sunday is a celebration of our Savior, a proclamation of the Gospel, and a reason to rejoice and celebrate! I understand why the world sees Easter Sunday a bit differently, and I actually have no problem with candy…in fact I am PRO-CANDY! But, I feel like Easter is becoming like Valentines Day - It’s a day that people do “special stuff” but really don’t know why they do it. I love and cherish my wife everyday and I should show it more often than this once a year holiday – likewise, I celebrate the resurrection corporately every Sunday and should do so!

So for clarity…I do not oppose Easter! I am glad many more lost people come to Church to sit under the Gospel for this one service. I pray that many are drawn to Christ, but for the Church - I believe we should have a passion to worship every Sunday, we should pray for souls to be converted every week, and this Sunday is not “Super Bowl Sunday For The Church” but rather another great Sunday for believers to worship our Savior… just like last Sunday was and next Sunday will be. I am happy however, that this Sunday there will be more people to watch the Church worship and may be drawn to Christ through our making much of Him. See you Sunday!

Monday, April 18, 2011

God's Great Word

If you have not watched the video below, I would encourage you to do so. Thank God for the power of His Word!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

One of My Favorite Posts!

Below you will find a blog written by John Piper. The culture we live in tends to use God to invoke anything they do. They can leave their spouse, church, job or any number of things and lay the claim of “God told me” and it seems no one could dare question this. However, the only place we KNOW for certain God speaks to His people is through His Word. We can know His will for our lives simply by opening up the pages of His Word. I have written extensively at other times on this blog about this, as well as pointed you towards book like Just Do Something and Decisions, Decisions. But this wonderful work by Dr. Piper will give an even greater perspective on “hearing” God.


http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/the-morning-i-heard-the-voice-of-god

Let me tell you about a most wonderful experience I had early Monday morning, March 19, 2007, a little after six o’clock. God actually spoke to me. There is no doubt that it was God. I heard the words in my head just as clearly as when a memory of a conversation passes across your consciousness. The words were in English, but they had about them an absolutely self-authenticating ring of truth. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God still speaks today.


I couldn’t sleep for some reason. I was at Shalom House in northern Minnesota on a staff couples’ retreat. It was about five thirty in the morning. I lay there wondering if I should get up or wait till I got sleepy again. In his mercy, God moved me out of bed. It was mostly dark, but I managed to find my clothing, got dressed, grabbed my briefcase, and slipped out of the room without waking up Noël. In the main room below, it was totally quiet. No one else seemed to be up. So I sat down on a couch in the corner to pray.


As I prayed and mused, suddenly it happened. God said, “Come and see what I have done.” There was not the slightest doubt in my mind that these were the very words of God. In this very moment. At this very place in the twenty-first century, 2007, God was speaking to me with absolute authority and self-evidencing reality. I paused to let this sink in. There was a sweetness about it. Time seemed to matter little. God was near. He had me in his sights. He had something to say to me. When God draws near, hurry ceases. Time slows down.


I wondered what he meant by “come and see.” Would he take me somewhere, like he did Paul into heaven to see what can’t be spoken? Did “see” mean that I would have a vision of some great deed of God that no one has seen? I am not sure how much time elapsed between God’s initial word, “Come and see what I have done,” and his next words. It doesn’t matter. I was being enveloped in the love of his personal communication. The God of the universe was speaking to me.


Then he said, as clearly as any words have ever come into my mind, “I am awesome in my deeds toward the children of man.” My heart leaped up, “Yes, Lord! You are awesome in your deeds. Yes, to all men whether they see it or not. Yes! Now what will you show me?”


The words came again. Just as clear as before, but increasingly specific: “I turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There they rejoiced in me—who rules by my might forever.” Suddenly I realized God was taking me back several thousand years to the time when he dried up the Red Sea and the Jordan River. I was being transported by his word back into history to those great deeds. This is what he meant by “come and see.” He was transporting me back by his words to those two glorious deeds before the children of men. These were the “awesome deeds” he referred to. God himself was narrating the mighty works of God. He was doing it for me. He was doing it with words that were resounding in my own mind.


There settled over me a wonderful reverence. A palpable peace came down. This was a holy moment and a holy corner of the world in northern Minnesota. God Almighty had come down and was giving me the stillness and the openness and the willingness to hear his very voice. As I marveled at his power to dry the sea and the river, he spoke again. “I keep watch over the nations—let not the rebellious exalt themselves.”


This was breathtaking. It was very serious. It was almost a rebuke. At least a warning. He may as well have taken me by the collar of my shirt, lifted me off the ground with one hand, and said, with an incomparable mixture of fierceness and love, “Never, never, never exalt yourself. Never rebel against me.”


I sat staring at nothing. My mind was full of the global glory of God. “I keep watch over the nations.” He had said this to me. It was not just that he had said it. Yes, that is glorious. But he had said this to me. The very words of God were in my head. They were there in my head just as much as the words that I am writing at this moment are in my head. They were heard as clearly as if at this moment I recalled that my wife said, “Come down for supper whenever you are ready.” I know those are the words of my wife. And I know these are the words of God.


Think of it. Marvel at this. Stand in awe of this. The God who keeps watch over the nations, like some people keep watch over cattle or stock markets or construction sites—this God still speaks in the twenty-first century. I heard his very words. He spoke personally to me.


What effect did this have on me? It filled me with a fresh sense of God’s reality. It assured me more deeply that he acts in history and in our time. It strengthened my faith that he is for me and cares about me and will use his global power to watch over me. Why else would he come and tell me these things?


It has increased my love for the Bible as God’s very word, because it was through the Bible that I heard these divine words, and through the Bible I have experiences like this almost every day. The very God of the universe speaks on every page into my mind—and your mind. We hear his very words. God himself has multiplied his wondrous deeds and thoughts toward us; none can compare with him! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told (Psalm 40:5).


And best of all, they are available to all. If you would like to hear the very same words I heard on the couch in northern Minnesota, read Psalm 66:5-7. That is where I heard them. O how precious is the Bible. It is the very word of God. In it God speaks in the twenty-first century. This is the very voice of God. By this voice, he speaks with absolute truth and personal force. By this voice, he reveals his all-surpassing beauty. By this voice, he reveals the deepest secrets of our hearts. No voice anywhere anytime can reach as deep or lift as high or carry as far as the voice of God that we hear in the Bible.


It is a great wonder that God still speaks today through the Bible with greater force and greater glory and greater assurance and greater sweetness and greater hope and greater guidance and greater transforming power and greater Christ-exalting truth than can be heard through any voice in any human soul on the planet from outside the Bible.


This is why I found the article in this month’s Christianity Today, “My Conversation with God,” so sad. Written by an anonymous professor at a “well-known Christian University,” it tells of his experience of hearing God. What God said was that he must give all his royalties from a new book toward the tuition of a needy student. What makes me sad about the article is not that it isn’t true or didn’t happen. What’s sad is that it really does give the impression that extra-biblical communication with God is surpassingly wonderful and faith-deepening. All the while, the supremely-glorious communication of the living God which personally and powerfully and transformingly explodes in the receptive heart through the Bible everyday is passed over in silence.


I am sure this professor of theology did not mean it this way, but what he actually said was, “For years I’ve taught that God still speaks, but I couldn’t testify to it personally. I can only do so now anonymously, for reasons I hope will be clear” (emphasis added). Surely he does not mean what he seems to imply—that only when one hears an extra-biblical voice like, “The money is not yours,” can you testify personally that God still speaks. Surely he does not mean to belittle the voice of God in the Bible which speaks this very day with power and truth and wisdom and glory and joy and hope and wonder and helpfulness ten thousand times more decisively than anything we can hear outside the Bible.


I grieve at what is being communicated here. The great need of our time is for people to experience the living reality of God by hearing his word personally and transformingly in Scripture. Something is incredibly wrong when the words we hear outside Scripture are more powerful and more affecting to us than the inspired word of God. Let us cry with the psalmist, “Incline my heart to your word” (Psalm 119:36). “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18). Grant that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened to know our hope and our inheritance and the love of Christ that passes knowledge and be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 1:18; 3:19). O God, don’t let us be so deaf to your word and so unaffected with its ineffable, evidential excellency that we celebrate lesser things as more thrilling, and even consider this misplacement of amazement worthy of printing in a national magazine.


Still hearing his voice in the Bible,
Pastor John

Monday, April 11, 2011

There's an App for that!

I love, LoveLOVE  my iphone! You don’t have to write me about your Android, Blackberry or any other “smart-phone” you have -  the iphone is King! Regardless of which phone you like, there are amazing things in “app-land” to make our lives easier. A great app you can find at
depending on what phone you have is Fighter Verses. It is a Bible memory app that has wonderful aids to help you in memorizing the Word of God. You can also go to
and get songs to help you, and your family, hide the Word of God in your hearts. This was created for children originally, but a problem for many of us as people of God, is the lack of time we spend memorizing the Word of God - and much of the reason for this is that we have no plan. I want to encourage you take a look at these links - they will help you in your walk greatly.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Family Worship - Part 2

I thank the Lord for great resources on family worship. This is the second of a two-part blog I found on the web-site below - but I also have a copy below for you. I pray this will help you as you lead your family in worship.


http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2011/03/10/then-what-when-and-how-of-family-worship/

The What, When, and How of Family Worship

[Editor's Note: This is the second half of Jason's series on family worship. Check out the first half, "11 Reasons to Worship with Your Family."]

Few of us who grew up in homes that practiced family worship. So let’s look at a few practical helps that may aid our families in this new journey.

Find the Best Time

This is trial and error, but most families function better at certain times during the day than others. Some children (and parents!) do not do well in the early morning hours. They are tired and grouchy. If that is the case in your home, then don’t try and do family worship at that time. Try different times of the day and see what works best for everyone. Every family is different.

Meet at the Same Time

I usually schedule out my week. I have different activities appointed at different times and inevitably have “family time” penciled in for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. or something similar. When my wife is feeling a little neglected she will say, “You have to schedule your family?” She is joking, but if she was serious I would have to reply, “Yes.” Otherwise, other things begin to encroach upon this time. There are many good things that can and will fill our schedules. Therefore, if we don’t pencil in the things that matter the most, they often get neglected and suffer at the expense of other things in our life. Family worship must be scheduled. That does not mean that it has to be at 6 p.m. every night. It is a “semi-fixed” time. There are some nights that dinner isn’t over by 6 p.m. Don’t be rigid, but do have a consistent and routine time that your family knows they will be gathering for worship.

Meet in the Same Place

Some families gather around the kitchen or dining room table. Others may choose to sit in the living room or on the back porch. It doesn’t really matter where you do family worship. It just helps if the “where” is consistent in your home. This is especially helpful for young children. My children know that when we say it is time for family worship we are gathering in the family room. Children thrive in the known and regular.

Start Slow

We are beginning the process of returning the church to this necessary discipline. Hopefully our children will be able to take it a step farther, but for most of us this is a new thing. Therefore, do not expect too much too early or even expect too much from your family in the long run. Many heads of homes (especially fathers) will be convicted about the need for family worship and begin to lead their families in it with too much zeal. Fathers, don’t ask your children to start memorizing Leviticus in the first few weeks of family worship! Just start by reading a small portion of Scripture, praying a short prayer, and singing a hymn. As everyone in the family grows in worshiping together there will be the ability and desire to make it fuller.

Make It Brief

Family worship should not be a burden, and many times we make it a burden by making it too long. Young families especially need to keep this in mind due to their children. Those just beginning family worship would also be well-advised to keep it short. It is amazing how much quality worship can take place in 15 or 20 minutes. The length of time of our family worship is not a commentary on our family’s maturity in the faith. Longer doesn’t always mean better.

Make It a Priority

It must be a priority in the home. This means that we can’t allow other activities to fill our schedules. A family that is seldom home together is a family that cannot worship together. Reading the Bible on the way to gymnastics or soccer practice does not count! The modern-day Christian needs to hear this: busyness (even with church activities) does not equal godliness.

Be Flexible

Having argued for the importance of establishing a time for family worship, we must underscore the importance of being flexible in our approach to family worship. There will be days when it just doesn’t work. If this is a regular occurrence, then we may need to adjust when we are having family worship or where we are having it. However, some days it just won’t work at all. That is fine! It is a means of grace, not a burden that our family is to struggle under.

Model the Right Attitude

Our attitudes have a lot to do with our experiences. And others are always watching our attitudes. Husbands should model the right attitude before their wives, and parents should model the right attitude before their children. Children are incredibly intuitive. They know when mom and dad are going through the motions or begrudgingly calling the family together in worship. It is quite another thing altogether when mom and dad talk about looking forward to worship and exercise a consistent joy and desire for family worship.

Persevere

Maybe the most important advice for family worship is to persevere in it. There will be moments and even weeks where it seems like a chore and that little fruit is being born: your toddler has trouble sitting still, your teenager complains every night, or the tune keeps getting lost in the middle of singing. Just keep going! You are not alone, and your situation is not unique. Just keep gathering with your family in worship. Perseverance is the best remedy for all these ills. Over the course of time, most of these struggles will be overcome, and fruit that was invisible at the time will begin to show itself in the future.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Family Worship - Part 1

It doesn’t take being at Trinity very long, or even browsing far on this blog to find how passionate we are about the importance of family worship! Regardless of the age of your children, or if you even have any children right now, we must be committed to worshipping at home. Below, you will find a link to a two part series on family worship. I hope it serves as a great blessing for you. I posted a copy of the first part today and will have the second part for you on Thursday.


http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2011/03/09/11-reasons-to-worship-with-your-family/

11 Reasons to Worship with Your Family

Editor’s note: Jason Helopoulos has also written on “The What, When, and How of Family Worship.”

Worshiping together as a family was not something that began easily for us. Even as a pastor, I felt awkward in the beginning leading my family in worship (especially in singing!). However, it has now become part of our family life. No, it is more than just part—it is at the very center of what it means for us to be a family. It is a now a joy, and the moments are not so awkward as they once were. A Christian home must be centered upon Christ, and if it is centered upon Christ, then it will be filled with worship.

Most evangelical Christians are aware of the importance of secret and corporate worship, but fewer have even heard of family worship. What is family worship? It is pretty simple. Tonight, sit down with your family on the couch or at the dinner table. And then . . . pray together, read the Bible together, and sing a great hymn of the faith together. There are many reasons for doing family worship, but let us just mention a handful. Family worship:

1. Glorifies and Honors God — This is the primary and essential reason.

2. Centers the Home – Family worship has the wonderful effect of centering our homes upon Christ.

3. Encourages Christian Character – The home may be the hardest place to live out our Christian lives. There is a reason that Paul addresses each member of the Christian family in the household passages of Ephesians 5-6 and Colossians 3. It is a sad reality that we often manifest the character of Christ more consistently at church, in the workplace, and in the community then we do in our own homes. If there is somewhere that I must especially be on guard against sin, the flesh, and our adversary, it is at home. Casualness and familiarity is a ready playing field for sin.

4. Encourages Peace in the Home – We are sinners living under the same roof in tight quarters. That is a recipe for disaster or at least pain! We know our family members, and we know them well. Family worship helps us confront our sin and understand its effect upon one another. For example, it is awfully hard for a father to lead his family in worship when he has just yelled at his wife. If he is going to lead his family before the throne of grace, he will first have to ask for forgiveness from his wife. And she will find that it is hard to worship unless she willingly forgives him.

5. Binds the Family Together – In our fast-moving society there are few things that a family does together daily. Even eating a meal together these days seems like a feat. What if your family gathered together daily? And what if that gathering was for worship? It would become the most important and central aspect of its life. Your entire family will come to the realization that no matter what else we do or don’t do, the most important thing that marks us as a family is that we are a worshiping family submitted to Christ. And that bond is an eternal one that strengthens the family in all its other endeavors.

6. Provides Common Knowledge – As the Scriptures are read together in family worship, the family grows in common knowledge. Conversations around the dinner table or in the car will change dramatically as you have a common knowledge from which to converse.

7. Trains Children for Corporate Worship – Family worship provides the added benefit of training our children for corporate worship. As they sit and listen to the Word of God, hear prayers, and sing hymns these elements in corporate worship will take on a new meaning. The value of this cannot be overestimated.

8. Encourages our Children in Christ – They will see that for mom and dad worship is not just something they do on Sunday mornings. It is something at the very core of their being, important enough that they center their home upon it. We are not raising children just to be moral and competent people, but worshipers of the triune God.

9. Reinforces Spiritual Headship – Family worship reinforces the biblical framework of the family as it looks to the father (or the mother if she is single) as the spiritual leader of the home. As a father leads his children and wife before God’s throne nightly and disciples them in the things of Christ, they will increasingly look to him for spiritual leadership. This has the added benefit of reinforcing with the father/husband the spiritual mantle that is upon his shoulders.

10. Provides Systematic Discipleship – As a pastor I often have individuals approach me with a question about how to minister to their children or spouse in a specific area. Usually they are concerned about a particular sin or struggle in their family member’s life. In this way we serve as firefighters rushing to extinguish this issue or that. At times this is needed, but it should not be our regular course of action. Systematic discipleship is a much better approach and is aided by family worship. Daily family worship will provide a strong foundation that is built upon hearing the Word daily, praying daily, and giving thanks daily. It takes time to build a strong house. It is an unsteady house that is the result of the carpenter running from shaky wall to shaky wall to hammer a nail in here or there.

11. Provides Generational Testimony – One of the greatest benefits of family worship is the actual passing on of our faith to the next generation. We are teaching our children how to read the Scriptures, pray, confess their sins, sing unto God, and more. Our children will leave the home with memories of this daily worship. They will have learned by watching and participating how to search the Bible, intercede for their future children, and rejoice in God. And by God’s grace and mercy they will carry it to the next generation of our families.

Now that we’re considered the “why” of family worship, tomorrow we’ll explore the “how.”