By Jean Claude (1619–1687), from Self-Examination in Preparation for Receiving the Lord’s Supper
My God, my Savior, and my Father, I prostrate myself at the foot of your throne, to adore your majesty, and to acknowledge your righteousness. I am in your presence but dust and ashes, a worm of the earth, and most unworthy of your turning of your eyes towards me, or employing the cares of your Providence towards my good. For what is mortal man that you should regard him, or the son of man that you should visit him?
Continue reading “Prayer in Preparation for Communion”
In Philippians 1, the Apostle Paul tells the Philippians that he prays to God that their love would increase (v. 9). This means that love is a gift of God’s grace, and we should ask Him to give us that gift. We can’t just manufacture love on our own.
This is further confirmed by what Paul goes on to say in the same passage. The fruit of righteousness “comes through Jesus Christ—to the praise and glory of God” (1:11).
In addition, the Philippians can be assured of the grace of God because “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (1:6).
Our virtues are gifts of God’s grace.
This is more controversial than it should be among Christians. One reason for this, I believe, is that people take these truths out of the broader context of Scripture.
So, Christian A will say, “Did you work out your own salvation with fear in trembling, or was it God who was working in you?”
Christian B responds, “I worked. Christianity has not been easy.”
Christian A responds, “No, it was God working in you.” And the conversation spirals down from there. Continue reading “How to Live by Grace”
By Brian Carpenter
In the summer of 1994 General Mills moved my wife and I to southwest Indiana. She was in sales, and I was trying to go to seminary. As we looked for a place to live, we decided to purchase a small home in a small town outside of Evansville. The town was called Boonville.
Boonville had several advantages. It was 20 miles closer to Louisville than Evansville was, and I was commuting to Louisville four days a week for classes. It turned a two and a half hour drive into a two hour drive. It was also cheaper. We bought a 2 bedroom, one bath house for something less than $40,000 if memory serves. Continue reading “The Best Part About Boonville”
What really matters to you? And is your life aligned around it?
Two crucial questions that have the power to re-shape our lives.
For many of us, our life is cluttered with things that are not really that important.
Living a fulfilled life is about learning to clean out the clutter and focus on what really matters.
There are two types of things that really matter to us. The first category consists of things that make us personally feel good and whole. These include economic security, intellectual stimulation, rewarding work, mutually beneficial relationships, and physical health.
But there is another category. You find this category by asking the following question (read it slowly):
What is the thing that could cause you to have joy, even if things don’t go well for you personally? Continue reading “What Really Matters”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6–7
Sometimes the things I need to learn are the most basic things.
This week, I attended a conference in Mississippi. I believe I went with an open heart to see what the Lord would teach me and what He would do through relationships.
What the Lord showed me was that there are many places in my life where I let frustrations or anxieties just sit there. In virtually every area of my life, there are low-grade frustrations. I don’t think I’m particularly weird because of that. Most of us have them.
But what had I been doing with those frustrations? Nothing. In some cases, they would build up with unpleasant results. Continue reading “The Anxiety Cure”
“But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus . . .” (2 Cor. 7:6)
Last week, I had the privilege to officiate at a funeral for one of our members, Ed Sumner. During the funeral, I shared some thoughts on his situation based on 2 Corinthians 7:6.
The Apostle Paul, who penned these words, knew the Word and promises of God well, but he still needed comfort. He was downcast, and God gave him the comfort he needed. How? “By the coming of Titus.”
Ed was also one who knew theology. He was steeped in the Bible. He had shelves full of books.
But Ed was often angry and downcast. He was lonely. He was an only child. He had no relatives. Relationships had not worked out well for him.
One day, Ed showed up at our church. He attended, and he kept coming back.
A few weeks later, he joined our church and stood to profess his faith along with two young girls who were doing the same that day. It was a beautiful picture of the body of Christ in its diversity. Continue reading “Comfort in Loss and Struggle”
Here’s a suggestion for you who are parents or will be. Keep a journal of what your children do. If you have a bad day, write about it. If they do something that makes you particularly happy, write about that, too. I would especially suggest this if you have several children.
My wife does not journal a lot. She has written three journal entries over the past five years. However, a few nights ago, she read them, and she really enjoyed it. I’m going to publish some of my own journal entries in a few months where I describe some of the most intimate details of my private life. Just kidding.
In all seriousness, I’m really pleased how my two oldest children are growing and becoming good workers. They are almost 9 and 8 years old. My son is particular willing to work without complaining, even if he is not as thorough as I would like. Nevertheless, I’m quite pleased.
But my 5 and 4 year old daughters drive me crazy sometimes. Every time I try to get them to do even the smallest tasks, they disappear, get “sick,” or suddenly have to go to the bathroom. I was complaining about this to my wife, and she said, “Anna (our oldest) did the same thing when she was five. I just read it in my journal.” I was greatly relieved. We were not failures as parents. Our younger girls were not destined to be eternal couch potatoes, ever avoiding work. They were just being 5 and 4.
This was a good lesson for me. I’ll keep pushing my children to work, but I also want to have realistic expectations. That’s true for all who have subordinates. It’s true as a pastor, and it’s true as a father. “Be patient with all.” says the Apostle Paul (1 Thess. 5:14).
By Jean Claude (1619–1687)
Just as God never presents Himself to the creature’s eyes without all the marks of His infinite majesty, so the creature should never appear before God without being seized with a religious fear and making the strongest efforts to put himself into an attitude of respect and profound humility.
We find in the history of the Old Testament, that when the Lord first revealed Himself to Moses under the image of a burning bush, Moses was surprised and astonished at the bush. He wanted at first to draw near to look more carefully into this miracle, but at that very moment, he heard a voice saying unto him, “Do not approach. Take off your shoes from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Ex. 3:5).
Continue reading “Preparing to Meet God in the Lord’s Supper”
But lest any poor soul should be discouraged under the display of this providence [in conversion], because he cannot remember the time, place, instruments, and manner, wherein and by which his conversion was wrought; I will therefore premise this necessary distinction, to prevent injury to some, whilst I design benefit to others.
Conversion, as to the subjects of it, may be considered two ways; either as it is more sensibly wrought in persons of riper years, who in their youthful days were more profane and vile; or in persons in their tender years, into whose hearts grace was more insensibly and indiscernibly instilled, by God’s blessing upon pious education. Continue reading “Can You Remember the Time of Your Conversion?”
Update: You can download a PDF of the book here.
I have completed my translation of French Huguenot preacher Pierre Allix’s Guidelines for True Christian Living. You can read it by clicking on the title of the book. Here is my preface to the book:
Our catechisms cover the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. We do well to master them. However, there are few resources that set forth in a simple way how to live a Christian life. I believe that Peter Allix’s book does just that. If you take into account the 50 principles that he sets forth here, I believe you will be much better equipped to live a godly life. This book is simple enough that young children can understand it. I intend to use this book to teach my children the basics of godly living. I will be gratified if others put it to the same use.
And here are a few highlights from the book:
- To fail to reflect upon our conduct is to live without reason. But to not consider the state of our heart each day is to live without piety and godliness. We must see what good acts we have omitted and what sins we have committed. (9)
- We may think we are innocent because we do not commit any great crimes. But let’s be honest. Most of the things we do are far removed from the real purpose of our lives. Oftentimes, we just waste time doing nothing. This negligence is not innocent, even though it may not be the most criminal. (11)
- Let us be ashamed at such an imperfect Christianity. Let us be ashamed to do less by the fear of Jesus Christ, by this Jesus whom we ought to love, than by the fear of men who are not worthy of either our love or fear.
Continue reading “Updated: Guidelines for True Christian Living”