Reading List 3/13/2012

22 Descriptions of Marital Love – taken from Paul Tripp’s book What Did You Expect? My wife and I recently read this book, and this found this list quite convicting and challenging. Apart from Christ it is impossible to love and to have a marriage the way God intended for it to be. (HT Tim Challies)

The Ligonier National Conference Online – the 2012 Ligonier National Conference starts in two days. Here is how to watch it if you can’t attend. The topic this year is The Christian Mind.

Just How Big Is God and How Small Are We?— here on the Visited Planet?

J.C. Ryle on Worship

J.C. Ryle’s conclusion from his chapter on worship in his book Knots Untied (10th ed. 1885), also published by Banner of Truth as Worship: Its Priority, Principles, & Practice.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. The best public worship is that which produces the best private Christianity. The best Church Services for the congregation are those which make its individual members most holy at home and alone. If we want to know whether our own public worship is doing us good, let us try it by these tests. Does it quicken our conscience? Does it send us to Christ? Does it add to our knowledge?  Does it sanctify our life?  If it does, we may depend on it, it is worship of which we have no cause to be ashamed.

The day is coming when there shall be a congregation that shall never break up, and a Sabbath that shall never end, a song of praise that shall never cease, and an assembly that shall never be dispersed. In that assembly shall be found all who have “worshipped God in spirit” upon earth. If we are such, we shall be there. Here we often worship God with a deep sense of weakness, corruption, and infirmity. There, at last, we shall be able, with a renewed body, to serve Him without weariness, and to attend on Him without distraction.

Here, at our very best, we see through a glass darkly, and know the Lord Jesus Christ most imperfectly. It is our grief that we do not know Him better and love Him more. There, freed from all the dross and defilement of indwelling sin, we shall see Jesus as we have been seen, and know as we have been known. Surely, if faith has been sweet and peace-giving, sight will be far better.

Here we have often found it hard to worship God joyfully, by reason of the sorrows and cares of this world. Tears over the graves of those we loved have often made it hard to sing praise. Crushed hopes and family sorrows have sometimes made us hang our harps on the willows. There every tear shall be dried, every saint who has fallen asleep in Christ shall meet us once more, and every hard thing in our life-journey shall be made clear and plain as the sun at noon-day.

Here we have often felt that we stand comparatively alone, and that even in God s house the real spiritual worshippers are comparatively few. There we shall at length see a multitude of brethren and sisters that no man can number, all of one heart and one mind, all free from blemishes, weaknesses, and infirmities, all rejoicing in one Saviour, and all prepared to spend an eternity in His praise. We shall have worshipping companions enough in heaven.

Armed with such hopes as these, let us lift up our hearts and look forward! The time is very short. The night is far spent. The day is at hand. Let us worship on, pray on, praise on, and read on. Let us contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, and resist manfully every effort to spoil Scriptural worship. Let us strive earnestly to hand down the light of Gospel worship to our children s children. Yet a little time and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Blessed in that day will be those, and those only, who are found true worshippers, “worshippers in spirit and truth!”

Life is War

I think I used to think of spiritual warfare as mostly fighting against the powers of darkness for the souls of unbelievers and against the culture for the glory of God’s name and reputation. But more and more, I see it as the fight of faith: the personal fight against sin, the fight for growth, maturity, and holiness. The fight of faith, not of the faith — the fight of my faith, personal faith. Faith and trust in God’s promises. Faith that all he does is for my good and his glory. Faith that he will finish the good work he began in me. Faith that he will never leave me nor forsake me. Faith in his perfect, steadfast love and unchanging character.

This is what John Piper has in mind here. As John Owen said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Note the list of the kinds of sins we are to fight against daily (emphasis added). Quite a convicting list.

Lent or no Lent, not doing some things you feel like doing is the daily pattern for the disciples of Jesus. Yes, daily. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23)….

This is normal, daily, Christian warfare. Only saints delight in the law of God at their depths. Here is how they talk: “I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind” (Romans 7:21–23).

A war indeed. Daily. “The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:17).

And make no mistake, sexual desires are not our most deadly desires that need daily denial. Anger, resentment, fear of man, discouragement (yes), self-pity, self-promotion, hardness, envy, moodiness, sulking, indifference to suffering, laziness, boredom, passiveness, lack of praise, lack of joy in Jesus, disinterest in others, etc. These need daily killing (Romans 8:13).



Today’s Reading List 3/12/2012

Is There Hope for Failing Marriages? – Yes, there is… with God, all things are possible. But it will require work. Hard work. “I am convinced that many people need to change the way they think about marriage. Idealized images of marriage or romanticized notions of the one we plan to marry quickly shatter in married life. Many people simply want too much from marriage. They have unrealistic ideas of uninterrupted marital bliss. They are in love with the idea of being in love but soon learn that loving another person requires effort. I remind couples that it’s one thing to be in love; another to love someone in a marriage relationship. 
Those who want a good marriage without the effort required to experience one set themselves up for the cycle of fantasy, disillusionment and divorce. … God designed marriage for our good as an exclusive, permanent, one-fleshed relationship based on a covenant of commitment between one man and one woman. …Refusal to seek help is one of the saddest reasons why some marriages don’t survive. …If you could benefit from help, don’t be like the fool depicted in the Proverbs who was doomed to his foolishness because he refused to accept correction and counsel.”

The Nonconforming Puritan – A brief introduction to Thomas Watson, currently my eldest son’s favorite Puritan.

Review of Ryken’s Loving the Way Jesus Loves – David Murray reviews Phil Ryken’s book based on his sermons on 1 Corinthians 13. I heard some of these sermons and they were really touching and challenging. I am glad to see that the book is equally so; I am looking forward to reading it.


Today’s Reading List 3/7/2012

Tips for Children in Worship – This is part 2 of yesterday’s post on children in worship. Today he gives practical tips, many of which are good advice for adults and older children too on preparing ourselves for worship. I would add teaching common songs and parts of worship, such as the Doxology, the Gloria Patri, and the Apostle’s Creed, at home to your young children. Most of my children have been able to sing the songs at the age of 2 and recite the creed at 3-4. That way they can participate in the service.

Those Children Have Names – A response on the desiringGod blog to the after-birth abortion article.

New Book: Loving Well by William Smith – I have been waiting for this one to be released; it is on sale through tomorrow from the publisher. Ed Welch has this to say about it: “I have read dozens of books about love, so I wasn’t expecting anything new. But I don’t remember too many books that I wanted to read to my wife, inspired me, led me in confession, left me with enthusiasm to try some bolder forms of love, and will leave me poor because I want to get copies for so many friends.”


2012 Desiring God Conference

I am excited to see that the theme for the 2012 Desiring God Conference is sanctification. It is subtitled, “God’s Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification.” This is kind of a hot topic and debate in the Reformed theology community right now, and the timing could not be better. It is an extremely important topic, one that continues to be debated since the time of the Reformation.  I am looking forward to hearing it (though not in person). The video below gives an overview of the conference.

Sneak Preview of Our 2012 National Conference from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Today’s Reading List 3/6/2012

Al Mohler on After-Birth Abortion – “For years now, pro-life activists have been lectured that “slippery slope” arguments are false. This article makes clear the fact that our warnings have not been based in a slippery slope argument, but in the very reality of abortion. Abortion implies infanticide. If the unborn child lacks sufficient moral status by the fact that it is unborn, the baby in the nursery, it is now argued, has also not yet developed human personhood.”

What is a truly “relevant” church? – “The Welsh preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, was approached after a worship service by a woman who was visiting his church. She said something to the effect, “My marriage is falling apart, but I don’t need to hear another sermon on marriage. The sermon you just preached on the greatness of God will do more for my marriage than all those marriage sermons combined.”

Why children should worship in church with their parents – a list of sound, biblical reasons. I am looking forward to part 2 tomorrow.

Do not think on these things – We are to both put off our old selves and put on Christ. Both are necessary to grow in grace. I have always appreciated the Reformed confessions that discuss in great detail both the positive and negative commands in each of the Ten Commandments. Here, Paul Tautges provides a list from Phil. 4:8 of things NOT to think on. I think this is especially helpful for children. Which means this is required reading for my children.

Why we should read the Puritans – My soul has not benefited more from any written word, besides the Bible, than it has from the writings of the Puritans. I don’t know where I would be without them. Here is a short list of why they are so helpful and relevant today.


The Word of God in Your Technological World

Don’t let how you view and use the Word of God in your fight of faith be affected by our technological world, where all information is at our fingertips and not in our heads so much anymore. It must not be so with the Word of God. This article is a fantastic piece of advice and warning.

My point is this: one of the consequences of the internet-trained brain seems to be an inability to hide very much – not much of the Word of God, to be sure – in our hearts. That results in a crippling weakness in the battle for godliness.

If you want to, test yourself. What do you do, where do you look, when you want to find “that verse,” you know, the one on the tip of your tongue? Do you flick to BibleWorks or Logos, pull up some Scripture text on your e-platform and do a quick search? Was it ever stored in your heart? Are you looking merely for a reminder, or have you become so accustomed to ready accessibility and easy search that you no longer bother storing it in your heart, unconsciously succumbing to the suggestion that since it’s right at your fingertips you don’t need to worry? Have you forgotten how to remember?

How long was Christ in the wilderness? Forty days and forty nights. (You know the batteries on pretty much any device have died by then.) What state was he in? Desperately hungry and thirsty. Who came to him? The arch-enemy, the Adversary. What were flung at him? A series of pointed and powerful temptations striking at his very identity and destiny. And what did the Lord do, without the help of any electronic aids or ready-references? He dug into the depths of Deuteronomy to bring forth three perfectly-forged weapons with which to smite the foe, three mighty “Thus says the Lord” declarations which shattered Satan’s assault and sent him from the field a beaten foe. The word was hidden in the Saviour’s heart, and he did not sin against God.

Look more closely, and you understand what that means. Satan takes and twists Scripture to make his perverted case. The Lord Christ not only knows enough to see through those corrupting quotations, but he has upon his holy lips the fruit of a heart in which the Word of God is thoroughly hidden, the truth stored up in order to be brought forth as occasion demands in order to keep him from sin and in the path of righteousness.

What of you? You have one primary offensive weapon with which to do battle against sin: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6.17). Can you afford to have that potent blade wrapped up in the electronic cobwebs of some computer programme when you need it for the fight? Do you not know from bitter experience that you do not have time to draw the sword from the depths of your electronic device when Satan comes roaring in against you? You need it sitting in your hand, you need it stored up in your heart ready for immediate deployment when the enemy comes upon you unawares. To use a more modern metaphor, you cannot afford to wander this battlefield with all your ammunition stored at the bottom of your backpack; you need your weapon locked and loaded at all times.

What to Say to the Spiritual Debt Collector

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.” (Revelation 12:10, ESV)

Clark Howard, and I suppose other consumer advocates, commonly talks about what to do when debt collectors call. In particular, he discusses deceptive debt collectors who try to collect a debt that does not even belong to the person, or may not legally be collectable because it is too old and the statute of limitations has expired. These deceptive collectors don’t care if the debt is legitimate or not; they just want to get money out of you any way they can, even if the debt does not belong to you. He goes on to give advice about the proper legal way to notify them that the debt is not yours, and they legally cannot bother you about that debt again.

Satan is the ultimate debt collector. He is our adversary, the accuser of God’s people. He prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8). He will come to you today to accuse you; he likely already has, as soon as you woke up this morning. The author of lies comes to you to tell you of your guilt, of the debt you owe. He comes to tell you that you are a worthless sinner, undeserving of God’s love, a disobedient rebel who owes a debt to God for your sin, a debt you can never repay. Well, you are a sinner who does not deserve God’s love, and so am I. But if we are Christians, in Christ we are of infinite worth to God. We are united to Christ, and every spiritual blessing is ours in Christ Jesus. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).

So how should we respond to the accuser, to the spiritual debt collector? Thomas Watson offers this advice, from Song of Solomon, where we are presented as the bride of Christ, and He as our Husband:

Make use of this marriage relationship with Christ… when the law brings in its indictments against you. The law says, ‘Here there are so many debts to be paid’, and it demands satisfaction. Acknowledge the debt, but turn over all to your Husband, Christ. It is a maxim in the law that the suit must not go against the wife, as long as the husband is living. Tell Satan when he accuses you, ‘It is true that the debt is mine, but go to my Husband, Christ; he will discharge it.’ If we took this course, we might relieve ourselves of much trouble. By faith we turn over the debt to our Husband. Believers are not in a state of widowhood but of marriage. Satan will never go to Christ — he knows that justice is satisfied and the debt book cancelled — but he comes to us for the debt so that he may perplex us. We should send him to Christ and then all lawsuits would cease. This is a believer’s triumph. When he is guilty in himself, he is worthy in Christ. When he is spotted in himself, he is pure in his Head.

When your adversary comes today or tomorrow to accuse you, to tell you of your sin and the debt you owe, say to him, “Yes, the sin is mine, but take that debt up with my Husband, Christ. He has made full and complete payment for it. You may not bother me about it again.” Fight the flaming darts of the evil one today with the shield of faith and the sword of the Word of God.