Thursday, May 31, 2012

Prayer from Proverbs 6

Oh, Lord,

You warn us to give freely to those in need, yet not to enslave ourselves by putting up security for another's debt.  Help us not to hold our generosity like a badge of honour, for all honour and all glory belongs to You.  Help us never to exact usury or demand more than what is owed to us.  Keep us honest in all of our business dealings.

Thank You for giving us the ant as an object lesson.  You warn us to be diligent, and never to be lazy.  Help us to be wise stewards who use the things You give to bless others, by planning well, and working hard, and doing our best.

Lord, keep us honest.  We don't ever want to get ahead by cheating others, or by sowing discord.

Give us humble eyes that look to Jesus.
Give us honest speech that honours Jesus.
Give us hands that heal and serve and bless.
Give us hearts that long for Your glory.
Give us feet that run to spread good news.
Give us integrity, honesty, truthfulness, in all of our business dealings,
           and give us the wisdom to be peacemakers.

Lord, there are so many temptations in this world.  I pray for our sons and our daughters,
that they will keep their father's commandments, and will not forsake their mother's teaching.  Help them to remember the truths they have learned as we opened Your Word together.  Bring those principles to their minds when they work, when they rest, and when they arise every morning.

Keep our children, with Your commandments as a light,
                               and Your teaching as a lamp,
                               and Your discipline as welcome reproof.

Preserve them from the things that entice
                                 the adulterous woman
                                   the gaining of money
                                     the pleasures of sin or leisure.

Remind them of the dire consequences of sexual sin,
                    because he who commits adultery lacks sense, and destroys himself.

Oh, dear Lord,
            Keep our children pure.
                    Keep them away from temptation.

But if it comes,
            STRENGTHEN THEM by the Power of Your Might,
               and help them to RESIST, by the Power of Your Word,
                and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

In the name of Jesus, Who ever lives to make intercession for us,

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Take a Pen and Paper

Take a Pen and Paper
By Jill Briscoe
Taken from Jill's book, The Deep Place Where Nobody Goes
Try taking a pen and paper to the Deep Place where nobody goes. Then you can read His letters in the Golden Book and write a reply.

I write it out on paper and I think my thoughts out loud
I speak my heart's foreboding and I pray about the cloud
Of deep and dark depression and a sense of dread and doubt
So I write it out on paper and I get my feelings out.
Then I take it to the Throne Room and leave it there above
And I know that I am understood with sympathy and love
I wait a while in silence till the Spirit meets me there
And He takes my piece of paper and He turns it into prayer.
I bring my tired believing and my faith that pants for power
And I lay it at the altar in this quiet, scared hour
And I ask for fire igniting weary faith and dying hope
And I cry for stern believing and I seek for power to cope
Then I read the treasured Scripture that will lift my spirits high
Turn tears to precious laughter and kiss my fears goodbye
I wait until He clams me down and nerves me for the fight
And then He leads me upwards and onwards in the night.
So I revel in these moments in the shadow of the Throne
Where I hear the Father's voice like many waters falling down
There's freedom and forgiveness and unremitting love
So I hate to leave the Throne Room for the shallow place above!
Sleeping forgiven, waking to grace
Nightmares forgotten, things back in place
Coming close to His footstool in the Throne Room above
He settles my soul, and I listen to love.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mutual Encouragement in the Middle of a Messy Life

Janet, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be a wife and mother, set apart for the gospel of God concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, through Whom I have received grace...

To all those who struggle with an imperfect life, a difficult marriage, and hard circumstances:

Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul, a humble servant of Jesus Christ, was providentially hindered from going to Rome so that all Christians could benefit from the theologically rich letter that was written so long ago to the Romans.  This encouraged me today:

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. Romans 1:11-12 ESV

Mutual Encouragement

Christianity is never to be lived in a vacuum.  There is nothing inherently spiritual about being cloistered in a monastery or living life as a hermit in a cave.  Yes, God sometimes calls His children to live apart for a time (Jerome, Paul, John Bunyan, John) either in exile, in prison, or some other solitary spot.  However, for the most part, the Christian life is to be lived in community - within families, churches, groups, towns... interacting daily with others in similar circumstances.  That's where the "One Anothers" of the Bible are worked out.  We are to love one another, pray for one another, encourage one another, rebuke one another... the list goes one.  And we are also to mutually encourage one another as we share our faith.


The best relationship in which to mutually encourage another to walk in faith is within the marriage relationship.  Ideally, marriage should be based on friendship, on developing a closer and more intimate bond as the years fly by.

Jill Briscoe's marriage demonstrates this mutual encouragement.  She prays, 

"My heart beats for the man in my life!  The one You gave me nearly 50 'man years' ago.  My husband; my other self; my friend - for whom I thank You every day.  How could You match me a man so well?  One who never allows me to take myself too seriously?  One who has brought the soft colours of life, love and laughter to my 'worry world', teasing out the knots of knottiness in my stomach - chivvying me into rest.

One who constantly challenges me to be the woman You want me to be, because he insists on being the man You want him to be and nothing else!  Jesus first and last: Jesus all in all!  I LOVE that in him, perhaps above all else.  What a gift!  No grey in this partnership, only the rainbow of promises, even after rain.  Hear me for this man of mine - and Yours." ~ p.11, 12 The Deep Place Where Nobody Goes by Jill Briscoe.

"No grey in this partnership," Jill Briscoe says.

No grey, eh?  

That's all very nice.  I'm glad for Jill, and for others like her who have a "singing, shiny marriage", who are perfectly partnered with the love of their lives - the one person who is most compatible with them, who understands and accepts and deeply loves them.  

What of those who live in the grey?  

What about wives who struggle with feelings of inadequacy, with lack of confidence, with a certainty of worthlessness?  What about those who wallow daily in the depths of despair because their life seems to be constantly changing from the mountaintop triumphs to the valley of despair?  Has God forgotten them?  

What about wives and husbands who are opposites in everything - in the things they love, in their goals and aspirations, in how they handle money, sex, time, children... everything?

The question is, "To Whom should they go?"  

The blessing of having a husband who is not perfect is that it should drive a wife to Christ.  He IS PERFECT!  He is the One with all of the answers.  He doesn't miss a bit of the struggles she goes through.  He is never without compassion, and He is full of truth and grace.  

I remember, as a young wife, going to our pastor with some deep concerns.  I was told "go home, and submit to your husband."  I felt as though the pastor patted me on the head (not that it happened) and said, "There, there."  I felt completely patronized.  Yet, because I didn't have anyone else to turn to, I turned to the Lord.  I devoured His Word.  He gave me the strength to carry on, and I began to understand that this world is not meant to be a perfect place.  It is full of sin, full of trouble, full of difficulty.  Yet God has planned that we should serve Him right where He has planted us.  

I learned that I could glorify God in the middle of my painful circumstances.  

I learned to re-interpret the lies the devil whispered to me, and to think God's thoughts after Him.  I do not believe that I would be the woman of faith that I am today, were it not for our trials and tribulations.  We've had plenty of those, but they have served to teach me that God is good, all of the time, in every way.  People are sinners, no matter where we go.  It ought not to be a surprise that they sin against us.  At the same time, we sin against them... so we have to learn to make much of Jesus and to allow ourselves to die, to diminish, to fade away.  There is joy and abundant life in Jesus Christ and in living in the Light of the Gospel every single day.

What about my own husband?  I've hinted that, unlike Jill Briscoe, my hubby and I are strange bedfellows indeed.  We are opposites in what we like to eat(me: healthy; hubby: sweets), to watch on television, to do for fun.  We are opposites in how we handle money and investments (he is high-risk; I am no-risk).  We are opposites in bedtime routines (he's a night owl; I love mornings!).  I love to talk.  He hates to talk.  I thrive on relationships.  He's more of a loner.  I fly by the seat of my pants; he likes routine.  I love to travel; he'd rather stay home.

What was God thinking, bringing us together?

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:11-14 ESV

Know this: every single event that occurs is in some sense predestined by God.  It is no mistake that I am married to a husband who is very, very different from me.  God has purposed that this relationship is the best one for me - the one in which we can best learn how to mutually encourage one another in this walk of faith.  In this marriage, with all of its grey, and all of the various colours of the rainbow that swirl up and down as changeable as the weather, I can glorify God.  In fact, I do glorify God.  

I love my husband.  He is funny and brilliant and steady and loyal and rock-solid. He is independent and quiet and a bad communicator, so I am still learning how to draw him out without being disrespectful.  I still have lots to learn from this man, and God knows this.  

So, if you struggle with an imperfect life, a difficult marriage, and hard circumstances, be encouraged!  God has not forgotten you.  He is with you in the middle of your mess.  He will provide everything you need for life and godliness.  Walk with Him.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Some thoughts on Matthew 27:46.  Jesus cried out in despair so that we will never have to.  This is a beautiful picture of the truth of the gospel that ought to penetrate deeply into the soul of every Christian.  It was planned by God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit from the beginning, yet it doesn't negate the fact that Jesus sweat drops of blood in the Garden, knowing that His Father would pour out His wrath on Him.

A sonnet by Don Carson on Matthew 27:45-46—

The darkness fought, compelled the sun to flee,
And like a conquering army swiftly trod
Across the land, blind fear this despot’s rod.
The noon-day dark illumined tyranny.
Still worse, abandonment by Deity
Brought black despair more deadly than the blood
That ran off with his life. “My God, my God,”
Cried Jesus, “why have you forsaken me?”
The silence thundered. Heaven’s quiet reigned
Supreme, a shocking, deafening, haunting swell.
Because from answering Jesus, God refrained,
I shall not cry, as he, this cry from hell.
The cry of desolation, black as night,
Shines forth across the world as brilliant light.

D. A. Carson, Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books and Nottingham, UK: Crossway Books, 1994, out-of-print), 51.

Carson identifies the following four ironies in the crucifixion:

The man who is mocked as King is the King
The man who is utterly powerless is powerful
The man who can’t save himself saves others
The man who cries out in despair trusts God

I really appreciated the way that Carson explained the final of these in particular. Why did Jesus cry out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46)

Is it out of self-pity? Had He abandoned His trust in the Father?

No, argues Carson. It’s none of these things. Jesus cried out in despair so that we will never have to. Jesus understood what was going to happen on the cross. But He cried out so that “for all eternity [we] will not have to” (p. 36). It’s a powerful expression of His love for us.

Joe Coffey writes

 As Jesus approached the appointed hour, each passing moment became progressively more difficult because he knew he was going to lose God at the cross. When Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"the shock of separation was unimaginably intense. Jesus experienced absolute agony because God had been torn away from him. He experienced infinite pain because he was devoid of God, deprived of God, and truly had nothing at all. Seeing this, I held my breath, wondering if I had ever really understood the depth of the love of Jesus for me or the extent of his sacrifice. The reality of his suffering had never struck me quite like it did that morning. It was the beginning of a rediscovery of the Gospel.

Stephen Charnock writes,

Not all the vials of judgment that have or shall be poured out upon the wicked world, nor the flaming furnace of a sinner’s conscience, nor the irreversible sentence pronounced against the rebellious demons, nor the groans of the damned creatures – give such a demonstration of God’s hatred of sin – as the wrath of God let loose upon His Son!  Never did divine holiness appear more beautiful and lovely than at the time our Savior’s countenance was most marred in the midst of His dying groans – when God had turned His smiling face from Him, and thrust His sharp knife into His heart, which forced that terrible cry from Him, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me!”

Had we the space and time, it would be delightful to justify this synthesis by providing the exegesis of many passages, and then extend the discussion from Father and Son to the Spirit. Someone might ask, "But what does it matter?" The answer is twofold: (1) If this summary accurately captures at least some of the glorious truth of the nature of the Godhead, to abandon it is to abandon a true understanding of God. If we are to worship God aright, we must worship him as he is, as he has disclosed himself to us. The only alternative is to worship a god who is progressively false as our understanding skews away from the truth. (2) Various truths connected with the gospel itself become incoherent if one abandons robust Trinitarianism. The Father sends the Son; the Son demonstrates his love for the Father by obeying him all the way to the cross; the Son addresses his Father in the anguished cry, "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?"; the Father gives the elect to the Son; in the plan of God, the Son propitiates the wrath of God and expiates sin; in the wake of his ascension and session at the Father's right hand, the Son reigns as the Father's mediatorial king until he has crushed all opponents, when he will turn the entire scope over to his Father; indeed, when the Son "offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death . . . he was heard because of his reverent submission" (Heb 5:7). None of these relational displays---and there are many others in the drama of redemption---is coherent under modalism. These relations are tied up with the nature of the Godhead. It is not surprising that those who adopt modalism habitually slide toward a diminished gospel. ~ Gospel Coalition

Friday, May 4, 2012

Praying Proverbs Three

I have often prayed through the Scriptures as I read and study.  This post explains more of the purpose of gospel-centered, Christ-centered prayer.  Read along as I pray through Proverbs Chapter Three.


Your commandments are good.  You are my King.  Your steadfast love and faithfulness give me hope and purpose.  I trust You with all of my heart.  When the way seems difficult and unfathomable, I know that You are making my path straight.  You never leave us, nor forsake Your people.  I have only to walk with You, Good Shepherd. 

I am not wise - You are Wisdom.  I fear You - I want to please You - so I shun evil.  Give me wisdom and discernment today to know what to avoid, dear Lord.  You are my Master - I give you my obedience.

What shall we do with our wealth today?  How shall I honour You, Lord?

Thank you for reminding me of Your love, and Your good purpose in my suffering.  You led me to the blog post about the father who watched the nurse wrap his 3 year old in a sheet so the doctor could stitch him up.  What felt like torture to the boy was love from the father.  He laid on him and held him down in order to help him.  He loved his son in the midst of the pain and confusion.  In the same way, You love me.  

I do not despise Your discipline, Lord, for I know You have a reason for this suffering.  I am not weary of Your reproof, for I know You reprove those You love.  You delight in me!

Lord, You have blessed me so much, by giving me new life.  With that new life comes Your wisdom, which is more precious than jewels.  Riches and honour, pleasantness and peace --> Your way of wisdom is a tree of life, and I am truly blessed.

Lord, in creating the earth and the heavens, You have demonstrated Your wisdom and might.  Help me to remember that I am but a pinch of clay.  I humble myself before You. 

Jesus, Your wisdom and discretion give me life and security.  When I am with You, I do not fear, and my sleep is sweet.  You are my Confidence!  You keep me from being caught in a snare.

Go with me as I meet the people You bring into my life.  Give me Your wisdom and Your discretion.  I will not withhold good from others when it is in my power to do it.  Use me as an instrument of Your grace, dear Lord.

All of my dealings with neighbours are ordained by You.  Help me to walk humbly before You and before others, not contending with them, but doing my best to be an Ambassador.  Your curse is on the house of the wicked, but You bless the dwelling of the righteous, my Lord.  Bless us!  Keep us humble, so we can have Your favour.  We want to inherit honour, not disgrace.


Pray the Scriptures

This article by Scotty Smith is a great reminder to me that I need the gospel every day.  Here's some notes I took to remind myself of the principles of preaching the gospel to myself as I search the Scriptures every day.

Timeless Truths

  1. I have been claimed by God's purposes for His kingdom.
  2. I must be still, and know that God is GOD.
  3. I must pray the Scriptures in a gospel-centered way, abiding continually in Christ, with
  • my mind informed by the will of God
  • my heart enflamed with the love of God
  • my hands extended in the service of God
I must have the Scriptures read me,
  • exposing my sin
  • revealing my Saviour
  • making me hunger and thirst for more of the gospel.
I must look for Jesus in every passage, praying the promises (NOT name it and claim it) with my eyes fixed on Jesus and His purposes.  This is not to be a self-centered exercise, looking for ways God will bless me and give me goodies.  Rather it is to be God-centered, looking for ways God will work for His own glory and the good of all of His people.

The central question in my mind as I read the Word of God is not to be "What can I do for Jesus?", but rather "What can I do with Jesus?"  I am in Him.  My body is a living sacrifice, given to my Master to be used for His good purposes.

  • Jesus is our Prophet - Listen to Him!  He is Truth.
  • Jesus is our Priest - Adore Him!  Thank Him! He is our Righteousness.
  • Jesus is our King - Obey Him.