Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why won't John Piper leave me alone?

Why won't John Piper leave me alone?

He harasses me when I watch TV. You see, I was once listening to his podcast, "Ask Pastor John," and he was discussing entertainment. He said he doesn't watch much commercial entertainment because most entertainment asks us to be entertained by things that Jesus died to end.

Now, that makes it a little more difficult to watch That '70s Show and Friends. And it's not a legalism thing; it's just reality. So now I sometimes hear John Piper when I try to watch TV. His words harass me.

So, what am I to do with my time? If I have people around, I guess I could talk to them. But what about when I'm alone? I can read a little, but not for hours; that's just not the way I roll. So, this evening, I turned off the TV, read a couple chapters of Exodus (book 3 in my reading plan) and then listened to some podcasts.

This evening, I was able to listen to a few short lectures about Exodus and the Covenant from Biblical Training, and I listened to a sermon on the reliability of biblical texts from Mark Dever. I could have watched re-runs of Everybody Loves Raymond and Friends, which is more my M.O. But, I think I might have done something better with my time.

Why won't John Piper leave me alone? Because the Holy Spirit is at work in me through his words.


Father, thank you so much for the wonderful gifts of godly teachers. Thank you for John Piper and Mark Dever. Thank you for the gracious ministries, such as Biblical Training, that make their resources available free for the building up of the body of Christ. Help me to desire you more than frivolous entertainment, for you are not a frivolous God. You are a God of purpose and focus. And you focus on your glory. Help me rejoice in your glory and the name of Jesus. Amen.

God hears our cries

After a long time, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned because of their difficult labor, and they cried out; and their cry for help ascended to God because of the difficult labor. So God heard their groaning, and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the Israelites, and He took notice.
Exodus 2:23-25, CSB


Father, you are so great and merciful. You are so compassionate and beneficent. We sinners do not deserve anything from you but your judgment. I do not deserve anything but your wrath and condemnation. And we all suffer because of our sinfulness. But, you hear our cries for help, and you remember your promises to our fathers. You save us out of your boundless love and grace. Oh, how great is your grace and how blessed are we to know you!

When you made your promises to our spiritual fathers, it was not because of anything they had done good. You chose Abraham, not because of his strength or righteousness, but because of your plan for your glory. It is through saving us in our weakness that your are shown to be strong, and how strong you are. Nothing stands in your way, not even Pharaoh and all his army. May your name be praised throughout the world.

Father, I cannot thank you enough, and I do not even feel enough thanks, to give you the praise you deserve for adopting me into your family, making me a child of Abraham. Give me the thankfulness I should have for you. Help me see, ever more clearly, the wonderful blessing I have in you. Help me know you more closely and deeply. Help me know you with breadth and depth and make you known through my witness.

Help me see wonderful things in word and treasure your word in my heart. Help me see Jesus in your word and see your unfolding plan of salvation through your prophets and your deeds.

Let me part of your continuing work today. Use me to advance your mission on earth. Help me reach out to those around me and love them as I love myself. Give me such a deep love for you, with all my soul, all my strength, and all my mind, that love for my neighbor naturally pours out. Help me be like a tree that bears good fruit, not for myself, but for those around me and for your glory.

Father, I pray for Heather. Heal her. Bless her. Let her know that you are there for her and that you hear her. Be her comfort. And bless her family through this time.

Bless your missionaries in China as that nation prepares for the Olympics. May this be a fruitful time and not a distraction. Be with those athletes that compete for your glory. And use this time to remind your children throughout the world that, like the Olympic runners, we are to run so as to claim our prize.

Because you heard the cries of Israel, I can know that you will also take notice of me. In whatever trouble I experience, you are not absent. You are there for me and with me. Your Spirit and your word guide me. Help me live by your Spirit and your word, and help me find refuge in your presence.

I ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

13 deaths in the Bible

"13 deaths in the Bible," Thursday Thirteen, 3rd edition

1. Abraham’s death:
He took his last breath and died at a ripe old age, old and contented, and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite.
Genesis 25:8-9

2. Rachel’s death
With her last breath—for she was dying—she named him Ben-oni, but his father called him Benjamin. So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Jacob set up a marker on her grave; it is the marker at Rachel’s grave to this day.
Genesis 35:18-20

3. Issac’s death
He took his last breath and died, and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
Genesis 35:29

4. Jacob’s death
When Jacob had finished instructing his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and died. He was gathered to his people.
Genesis 49:33

5. Joseph’s death
So Joseph made the Israelites take an oath: “When God comes to your aid, you are to carry my bones up from here.” Joseph died at the age of 110. They embalmed him and placed him in a coffin in Egypt.
Genesis 50:25-26

6. Moses’ death
So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab facing Beth-peor, and no one to this day knows where his grave is.
Deuteronomy 34:5-6

7. David’s death
As the time approached for David to die, he instructed his son Solomon…. Then David rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.
1 Kings 2:1,10

8. John the Baptist’s death
Although the king regretted it, he commanded that it be granted because of his oaths and his guests. So he sent orders and had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. Then his disciples came, removed the corpse, buried it, and went and reported to Jesus.
Matthew 14:9-12

9. Stephen’s death
Then they screamed at the top of their voices, stopped their ears, and rushed together against him. They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They were stoning Stephen as he called out: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin!” And saying this, he fell asleep.
Acts 7:57-60

10. Uzzah’s death
When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.
2 Samuel 6:6-7

11. Ahaziah’s death
Then Elijah said to King Ahaziah, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron—is it because there is no God in Israel for you to inquire of His will? You will not get up from your sickbed; you will certainly die.’” Ahaziah died according to the word of the LORD that Elijah had spoken.
2 Kings 1:16-17

12. Saul’s death
The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons and killed his sons, Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua. When the battle intensified against Saul, the archers caught up with him and severely wounded him. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through with it, or these uncircumcised men will come and run me through and torture me.” But his armor-bearer would not do it because he was terrified. Then Saul took his sword and fell on it.
1 Samuel 31:2-4

13. Jesus’ death*
When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
John 19:30

* Jesus rose from the dead 3 days after his death.

recent blogs I read

Thank God for his holy, righteous goodness
Stacey's reflections on whether God is good

Thank God for godly parents
Molly Piper's reflections on her 3-year old's very short trip to Kenya

Thank God, especially, for godly adoptive parents
Jason Kovacs on The ABBA Fund

Thank God for biblical archaeology
The ESV Study Bible and Jesus' tomb


Father, thank you. Thank you for your wonderful creation, which you have given to people and which you have used to shine your glory. The stars of the sky and the waves of the sea, and every living creature on earth, are a constant testimony to your power and majesty.

Thank you for the wonderful care you provide your people. Thank you for being a God of goodness, mercy and compassion. You are not arbitrary; everything you do is for a particular purpose--your glory. And may your name be glorified. You are truly a God of wonders. And you have given your instruction to your people so that we can know you and have a relationship with you. Bring us closer to you and help us know you better, more deeply.

Father, I thank you for the great blessing of parents. And may your people who are parents see their parenting as an act of worship. May we see our children as precious gifts from you and may we see ourselves as stewards of your children. May Christian parents desire for their kids to mature into devoted disciples who bring you glory, whether that is near home or in a far off land. And Father, I praise you for all the Christian families who have seen your model of adoption and have chosen to adopt children into their families. Bless those families and help them unite together for your glory.

And Father, I thank you for the wonderful witness your people have today through biblical archaeology. In recent decades, so much evidence has come concerning the historical trustworthiness of the biblical accounts. And through discoveries, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, we can see how your word has been faithfully preserved through the centuries. Bless your people with confidence in you.

I ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I completed a reading of Matthew

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
Matthew 1:22, CSB

I have just finished Matthew, the second book in my Bible reading plan.


Father, thank you for the amazing witness you have given your people through your word. You sent so many messengers to prepare the way for the Messiah, and you gave so many clues to his coming. And Jesus fulfills every one. Blessed is the person who has not seen and yet has believed. And you have given us such great cause to believe because your truth has been recorded and carefully passed on through thousands of generations.

Thank you for all those reverent saints who tirelessly cared for your word and copied your word for future readers. I praise you for the wonderful witness of those believers who were willing to risk their own lives to put your word into the hands of your children.

Thank you for preserving your word through the ages so that I could read today how Jesus fulfilled your promises. And because you have kept every promise in the past, I can have faith you will keep your promises in the future. Because you could cause Caesar to hold a census to get your son to be born in Bethlehem, I know nothing is too big for you. Because you told centuries ahead of time the price put on Jesus, I know no detail is too small for your attention.

Father, I can sleep tonight knowing that you are in control and I am in your care. I do not know the future, but I know that you control the future. So, I trust myself to you. I trust myself to your grace and compassion. I know that you, having given your own son to rescue me from my sin, will not withhold anything good from me.

Strengthen my faith and help me live by your love. Help me grow to be more like you. Help me keep your glory in thoughts and make your glory my motivation. Help me rejoice in you.

In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

13 Things to Pray for

In my 2nd Thursday 13, I have decided to list 13 things to pray for.

Pray for your enemies (Mt 5:44)
Pray for God’s glory to be known (Mt 6:9)
Pray for God to send missionaries throughout the world (Mt 9:38)
Pray for the kingdom of God to come (Lk 11:2)
Pray God will provide for your daily needs (Lk 11:3)
Pray for forgiveness (Lk 11:4)
Pray that your faith will not fail (Lk 22:32)
Pray that you will not fall into temptation (Lk 22:40)
Pray for God to protect you from Satan (Lk 17:15)
Pray for boldness in witnessing (Acts 4:29)
Pray for your plans (Ro 1:10)
Pray for the salvation of others (Ro 10:1)
Pray for spiritual maturity (2 Cor 13:9)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

faith from the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, faith….
Gal 5:22, CSB

Part 7 in my fruit of the Spirit series

To be a Christian is to bear the fruit of the Spirit. So, what does it mean to bear faith? The Greek word used in Gal 5:22 is pistis, which means a conviction as to the truth of something. In the New Testament, it typically signifies a conviction that salvation is the gift of God through Jesus. And this faith is a dominant theme throughout the book of Galatians, so we can see what it means to Paul.

In Gal 2:16a, Paul wrote that “we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith [pistis] in Jesus Christ.” He reiterated justification by faith in 3:24 where he wrote: “The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith [pistis].” The law was merely a guardian (“tutor” in NASB) until God gave us faith in Christ. And because we are justified by faith, we should live by faith; Gal 3:11 states, “Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith [pistis].”

And by faith, we are adopted into the family of God; as Paul wrote in Gal 3:26: “For you are all sons of God through faith [pistis] in Christ Jesus.” And faith is what unites the members of God’s family. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith [pistis]” (Gal 6:10).

So, faith—the conviction that our salvation comes through the substitutionary death and resurrection of Jesus—is the foundation of our salvation. Salvation begins with faith. But, faith is also the guiding principle of the Christian life, and faith is the uniting feature of the Christian church.

Faith, as a fruit of the Spirit, is something given to us by God’s Spirit. The faith that makes us Christian and saves us is given to us by God. And that faith is what characterizes the church—not ethnicity or language, wealth or station in life. The church is composed of people whom God has blessed with faith--those who heard the voice of Jesus and responded by trusting in him.


Father, thank you for the gift of faith. Thank you for making salvation dependent upon the work of Jesus and not my works through the law. Thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross in my place. My rebellion against you made me deserving of eternal punishment, but you, through your love, compassion and mercy, sent Jesus to wash away my sins by his blood and bring me into relationship with you. And through your Spirit, you opened my heart to hear your word and respond in faith.

Faith is conviction about what I do not see. But that faith builds hope in me that I will one day stand in your presence and delight in your glory. Father, help me continue in faith so that I may live by faith and live my life, not with fear, but with hope. Continue the good work you have begun in me and bring me closer to you.

I pray that in due time, you will bless Charlotte Moon with faith that she may join your family. Help me and Jennifer, as her parents, model your character to her. Help us, through our lives, show her your character as she grows up, even before she is old enough to think about you. And as she matures, help us point her toward you; let her see your glory and grant her faith in your son.

Bless your church, Father, and help us see our unity in faith. Help us see each other as members of Christ’s body. And help us be a light to this dark world.

I ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Monday, July 21, 2008

In the beginning

I have just finished reading Genesis--the first book completed through my new Bible reading plan. And here are a few quick observations about Genesis:

1) All the prophets testify about Jesus. "If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me" (Jn 5:46). In Genesis 48:10, I read: "The scepter will not depart from Judah, or the staff from between his feet, until He whose right it is comes and the obedience of the peoples belongs to Him." And Gen 22:18 states, "All the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed My command."

2) As Tim Keller has noted, the Bible is counter-cultural. In ancient cultures, the eldest son was the blessed son and the one who received the inheritance. But, in Genesis, the eldest son is not the blessed one. Cain was the eldest and killed the younger son who pleased God. Abraham's eldest son Ishmael was not the promised and chosen son; that was Isaac. Isaac's eldest son was Esau, but Jacob received the blessing. Of Jacob's 12 sons, it was Joseph that God chose to use for the salvation of his family. In fact, at his death, Jacob pronounced this on his eldest: "Turbulent as water, you will no longer excel..." (Gen 49:4a). And just prior to that, Jacob went to bless Joseph's youngest son and Joseph tried to correct him.
When Joseph saw that his father had placed his right hand on Ephraim's head, he thought it was a mistake and took his father's hand to move it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's. Joseph said to his father, "Not that way, my father! This one is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head." But his father refused and said, "I know, my son, I know! He too will become a tribe, and he too will be great; nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his offspring will become a populous nation. (Genesis 48:17-19)
3) The characters of the Bible trust the sovereignty of God. Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac because of his faith in God's provision (Gen 22). Joseph saw all the bad things that happened to him as the will of God.
And now don't be worried or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there will be five more years without plowing or harvesting. God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt. (Gen 45:5-8a)
4) There is an amazing continuity in the Bible. Joseph and Job both saw everything, good and bad, as part of God's sovereignty and wisdom. Throughout the Bible, God chooses nobodies to do incredible things; an old nomad with no kids becomes father to millions and to the Messiah. The Messiah is born to a poor family in a small hamlet. But, of course, that birthplace was foretold because it was also where God called a poor shepherd boy--the youngest in his family--to become the great king. And finally, there is the constant theme of trusting God to fulfill his promises and be kind to his people.


Father, 0pen my eyes so that I may see wonderful things in your instruction. Help me understand the meaning of your teachings so I may meditate on your wonders. Teach me, Father, and help me follow your way. Put your word in my heart and teach me to love your wisdom. Help me to follow your teaching and to take pleasure in your word. Turn my heart to your word and not toward temporary temporal riches. Turn my eyes from what is worthless to focus on what is priceless. May I be like the rich man who found the treasure in the field and gladly sold everything to buy that field. Make me like the good soil that hears your word and bears good fruit. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday worship

"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. The seeds along the path are those who have heard. Then the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the seeds on the rock are those who, when they hear, welcome the word with joy. Having no root, these believe for a while and depart in a time of testing. As for the seed that fell among thorns, these are the ones who, when they have heard, go on their way and are choked with worries, riches, and pleasures of life, and produce no mature fruit. But the seed in the good ground—these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, bear fruit.

"No one, after lighting a lamp, covers it with a basket or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand so that those who come in may see the light. For nothing is concealed that won't be revealed, and nothing hidden that won't be made known and come to light. Therefore, take care how you listen. For whoever has, more will be given to him; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken away from him."
Luke 8:11-18, CSB


Father, for two thousand years, your church, the bride of Christ, has used each Sunday to worship you in community. For you are worthy of all our worship, and you alone deserve worship. Your people, from the beginning of mankind, have worshipped you as the creator and sustainer of the entire universe. And for thousands of years, your chosen people of Israel worshipped you as the God who made a covenant with his people. And for two millennia, your church has worshipped you as the loving father who was not willing for us to remain estranged from you and so devised a way for us to be rejoined into relationship with you. We worship you and love you because you first loved us.

I ask that on this Sunday, throughout the world, as your people gather together to hear your word, we will be like the good ground. We will hear your word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, bear fruit. Open our hearts to hear your word and see great things in it. Fill us with your goodness, wisdom and love by your Spirit.

And as your word takes hold of us, I ask that your church would be like the lamp placed on a high table, bringing light to the entire room, destroying the darkness that causes people to stumble. May we be like a city on a hill, beautiful in the distance calling out to those wandering in the desert, offering safety and comfort, shining as a beacon to this lost and dying world. May people throughout the world, on this day, see the church and be like travelers who, after crossing a great distance, finally see their destination and are filled with hope and joy at the thought of passing through our gates. I ask that you would call people who do not know you and that you would take out their hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh so that they could hear and love the voice of Jesus.

I pray that you will bless the untold number of missionaries throughout the world who do not have churches to gather with on Sundays; and I pray for the millions of Christians around the globe that meet together in secret and at the risk of their own lives. May they be like Jason and the other disciples who were charged with turning the world upside down (Acts 17:5-7).

I ask all these things because I know you are great and able to accomplish whatever you plan. No plan of yours can be thwarted. And I ask these things in the name of Jesus who makes it possible for me to approach you as a son. Amen.

Friday, July 18, 2008

So far am I from the perfection of God

It is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he have previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself. For (such is our innate pride) we always seem to ourselves just, and upright, and wise, and holy, until we are convinced, by clear evidence, of our injustice, vileness, folly, and impurity.... So long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of Being he is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy will be condemned as the most miserable impotence. So far are those qualities in us, which seem most perfect, from corresponding to the divine purity.
~ John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion

Hubble's image of part of the Eagle Nebula
~ 41,147,200,349,956,260 miles from earth


God, you are unbelievably, unfathomably awesome. So often, I am tempted to think of myself as something special, someone who deserves good things because of my own merit. I am tempted, by my own sinful nature, to compare myself to others and ignore you. And when I compare myself to others, I excuse my own faults and amplify theirs. I look for cause to blame others and celebrate myself. I am tempted to think of myself as something decent, even good. I seek to promote myself. But, when I give any thought to you, I can see that I am, on my own, insignificant and hollow.

You, God, are great beyond compare and everything pales in relation to you. Except that you reached out your hand to me and chose me for your care and attention. You gave me significance when you adopted me into your holy family and promised me a glorious inheritance. You saw me in my complete sin and rebellion, and you saved me by your grace and for your glory. And you deserve every bit of the glory. Only you could save me and I owe everything to you, my creator and sustainer, my father in heaven.

Father, help me to always keep my focus on you. Help me resist the temptation to see myself only in flattering terms and promote myself to the level of a god. Show me how to look beyond this earth and see you, your majesty and power, your faithfulness and wisdom, your justice and compassion, your love and your mercy. Help me know the reality that I would be hopelessly lost without you, and help me live in constant thankfulness for the gifts you continually give me.

I come to you and I praise you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Friday, July 11, 2008

reading through the Bible

Teach me, LORD, the meaning of Your statutes,
and I will always keep them.
Help me understand Your instruction,

and I will obey it and follow it with all my heart.
Help me stay on the path of Your commands,

for I take pleasure in it.
Turn my heart to Your decrees

and not to material gain.
Turn my eyes

from looking at what is worthless;
give me life in Your ways.
Confirm what You said to Your servant,
for it produces reverence for You.

Psalm 119:33-38, CSB

Have you ever read the entire Bible? I don't really know if I have. But, because I've never used a comprehensive plan for studying the Bible, I don't know that I've read everything.
And not having a comprehensive plan also makes it more difficult for me to sit down and study the Bible. When I taught a Bible study, I had something to study each week. But, in general, I just sit down and read something. But, what should I read? I usually end up doing one of two things: a) read a familiar section--perhaps 1 John since it's short and reasonable easy to understand, or b) randomly pick one of those sections I feel I probably neglect--perhaps Amos.
So, I have decided to try a plan to read through the Bible. Zondervan has a bunch of reading plans, but I chose this one because a) it's self-paced, b) it cover the entire Bible and c) I can check off what I've read and make sure I cover the entire Bible in time.
This morning, I read Genesis 1-3. It was a little tempting to pre-check all those parts that I know I've already read. But, I am not going to do that. I am starting fresh.

Father, I pray that you will bless me as I read your word. Help me to understand your message and to take it in and love it. Give me a passion for you and your word, and give me the desire to know you more and more. Let me see your beauty and value so that I would not value anything above you; help me crush all my idols and live for your glory alone. Through your Spirit, and ebcause of your son Jesus, teach me to love you with all my heart, all my strength, all my soul, and all my mind. Amen.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Things I Star

I use Google Reader to keep track of numerous blogs, and I have been starring some of the ones I wanted to look at again later. So, I had the idea of going back through and praying for/from these various topics.


Father, you are truly great and have done great things for your people. I thank you and praise you for your kindness and goodness to your people.

I ask that you bless the young people in your church and bless their ministries. May everyone in your church be inspired by the young Christians who are changing the world. May they turn the world upside down and serve to bring your glory among the nations.

I ask you to bless the work of 9Marks and Capital Hill Baptist Church. Bless their work with the churches of Africa as they bring the real good news to the people. Thank you for the example shown by your church in Africa who demonstrate that the church is the body of Christ, not beautiful architecture, stained glass and a high-tech sound system. 9Marks has helped me understand better what the church can and should be.

Thank you for the work of pastor-teachers, such as John Piper and Wayne Grudem, who help me better understand how to know you.

Father, I thank you for the chance to teach world religions next year. I pray that your word would be heard and understood, and that it will penetrate the hearts of students. I pray that you will call these students--that they will hear the voice of Jesus and respond to him.

Father, I am grateful for the amazing heritage of Christians throughout history who have shown that You are more precious than life. And I thank you for those Christian missionaries who have shown me what it means to live among the world, but not of the world.

I am grateful for the plethora of great, biblical teaching, such as Frame's lectures and Dwell, that is now available free online. I’d also want to thank John Piper and Desiring God Ministries who had a “whatever you can afford” policy long ago and was a pioneer in putting everything online for free.

Father, I pray that you will continue to bless the ministries of your people around the world and that you will continue to help me grow in the image of your son Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

God is good to us

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness....
Galatians 5:22

In my last post on the Fruit of the Spirit, I noted that “kindness” was a moral goodness (righteousness) that cannot exist apart from the Spirit of God. Romans 3:12 tells us there is no one who naturally has that moral goodness. Now, I am on the next part of the Fruit, which is “goodness.” But, this goodness (Greek agathosune) is not an inward morality but an outward beneficence; it is an active working for the benefit of others, even at great cost to ourselves. The word for goodness in Gal 5 is from the root agathos, which Paul used in Romans 7:18 when he wrote, “For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.” Humans are naturally selfish; we don’t, even in our best days, look primarily toward the good of others. Yet, the Fruit of the Spirit is not only “kindness,” or an internal moral goodness, but “goodness,” in our actions toward others. Jesus even told us to do good (agathopoieo) to those who hate us and Paul wrote that from the beginning of time, God has been good to mankind giving them rain and crops, “satisfying your hearts with food and happiness.” The Fruit of the Spirit changes our inner being, giving us moral integrity, but it also changes our actions, giving us a desire labor for others.


Father, you are truly good, having given humanity the blessings of this earth, which you created.
And you gave us the witness of your creation to testify to us about your glory and grace.

You bore with humanity as we turned your creation into an object of worship. We became idolaters. But, you sent prophets to Israel and taught your people about your glory. And when the time was right, you sent Jesus to do good to those who hated you. And you sent his disciples out among the people of the earth.

It is true, Father, that I cannot do good on my own. My sinful nature guides my passions toward myself. But, through the good work you have begun in me, you are changing my heart. I pray that you will continue to help me become more like Jesus; help me find such satisfaction in you that I would have the desire to do good even to those who do evil to me.

And even when I am not facing persecution, Father, build in me a heart for others so that I would work for their good. Allow me to be among those willing to sacrifice to bring your good news to others. Every day, I live with people who do not know you and are dying apart from you. Help me be a witness among them to your goodness. And give me the heart, Father, to do good as a husband and father, so that I can demonstrate your goodness to those you have entrusted to my care.

May I never forget your goodness toward me, and may I live each day in complete trust and awe of your grace.

In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.