"Oh to Grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter
bind my wandering heart to Thee!"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What Is The Link Between God's Word and New Age Heresy? The Emerging Church.

Click on this image below to go to a document that shows just how the truths of God's Word have been twisted and distorted to bring about a completely different religion altogether, which we refer to as "New Age" or "New Spirituality." False religions are everywhere though, so why is this one any different or more concerning? Because it is creeping into today's "evangelicalism" at a FRIGHTENING rate. In case you don't know much about this man-centered, man-made religion here is a quote on it....

"The hope of the New Age faith, or New Spirituality, is that when this One Humanity has achieved its 'divine potential' and all separation has been purged from the world, then world problems such as 'tribalism' and poverty and hatred and violence will be left behind. The world will then be transformed by this New Humanity into a divine new world of peace, love, good will, and sharing where everyone can be free to worship his own inner (immanent) 'God' of his own understanding in his own way. The call for this New Age 'kingdom of God' is now being so widely heeded, even in today's Christianity, that the building of humanity's Ark of Oneness is suddenly nearing completion."

-Tamara Hartzell

One might read that and say, that has nothing to do with the Bible, how is that linked with Christianity at all??? Logically, one would think that something that teaches the opposite of God's word wouldn't even stand a chance in the church. Wrong. So what has made this New Age shift possible within "Christianity?" Three words for you: THE EMERGING CHURCH. Take a look at this document and see exactly how the Emerging Church is an open door for all this heresy to enter into what we are calling evangelical Christianity in America (which, by the way, is no Christianity at all.) The obvious, clear-cut line between true Biblical Christianity and heretical, blasphemous New Age is being completely muddled and blurred by the Emerging Church, deceiving hundreds of thousands of people. These people are subtly mixing Christian dialogue with New Age beliefs, and the result is the most dangerous and downright deceptive road to eternal destruction. There is one God to be served and worshiped and who deserves all the glory in the universe, and He is the God of the Bible, not some ambiguous god of our 'inner beings' that is different for each person. Ew.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Agonizing Consequences of Sin

For anyone out there who is a born again creature in Christ but still struggles with past/present sin and its consequences. I think it is quite possibly one of the hottest most intense of all afflictions that God puts upon our souls during this bitter sweet sanctification process. The result is feeling like you have been put in an oven and God turned up the temperature to 400 degrees, but all for a loving purpose...and that is to refine the silver and get out all the impurities. Our human minds just can't wrap themselves around the concept of things getting harder before they get easier, but I know I am so thankful for the split second moments in time when the Lord gives me the eyes to see it and find hope in His promises.

Zechariah 13:8-9 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, says the LORD, two parts in it shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will test them as gold is tested: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, They are my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

Remember your brothers and sisters who are under great afflictions as we all endure the refining process of being conformed to the image of Christ. Keep them in your prayers, for we are all in this together. And do not forget the Great Comforter that we have on our side to lead us into all truth. Breathe your sorrows at the throne of Grace, for our God is faithful in hearing our cry. There is only one Comfort for our weary souls, nothing else of this world will suffice; run to Him.

The Natural Consequences of Sin
By Jeff Reed

God assures us, if we truly are repentant, we can receive forgiveness no matter what our sins. When we initially repent and are baptized, we are washed clean by the blood of Christ. As we live our lives as Christians, still not perfect, we are continually faced with overcoming sin. We are assured in Hebrews 4:16 that we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” The love of God for us is truly great.

I knew this when I was baptized over 13 years ago. I was eager to have my sins forgiven and washed away, and I assumed that now my life would also be perfect. I quickly learned I was wrong. I had received forgiveness, but I still faced the effects of my prior sins. Relationships with people I had damaged by my wrong behavior were still messed up. The effects of repeated sin on my character were still there. All the wrong television, movies, music, and twisted popular culture continued to haunt my thoughts. Eating the wrong foods for over twenty years would continue to have negative impacts on my health. The consequences of sin remained.

In Deuteronomy 28 God gives a list of blessings for obedience to Him and curses for disobedience. These were given to the nation of Israel at a national level. If they collectively obeyed His laws, great blessings would occur. If they disobeyed, there would be an opposite outcome. The outcomes are very natural and are part of the world He created. They are as natural as the law of gravity. If we toss an object into the air we know the consequence will be it will fall to the earth. Because the laws God gave Israel are natural laws, they can be applied to any nation at any time in history.

Let’s imagine that everyone in our country kept God’s law against murder. The consequence would be everyone would feel absolutely safe in every situation, time and location. But the reality is that even though the vast majority of people keep that law, because there are a few who don’t, and our justice system has become weak and ineffective, people are often faced with situations where they are on guard or fearful. It is why we have elaborate security systems, people carry personal weapons, locations are well lit at night, and many other precautions are taken to keep people safe.

We can apply these natural consequences to a personal level as well. If someone is an alcoholic or drug addict before they become a Christian, he will still be dealing with the consequences of that sin for the rest of his life. If someone engages in illicit sexual practices, before becoming a Christian or sometimes unfortunately after becoming a Christian, the effects of disease, broken marriages, unwanted pregnancy, and other problems will remain, even after repentance and forgiveness.

To truly repent is to also accept the consequences of our sin. In 2 Corinthians 7 Paul writes about the attributes of Godly sorrow the Corinthian church was displaying. He writes:

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.” 2 Corinthians 7:10,11

One of those attributes is “the readiness to see justice done” even if that justice is applied to ourselves. Imagine if you have stolen something and were sentenced to jail time and community service. If you have Godly sorrow that leads to true repentance you will accept your punishment willingly.

King David learned this the hard way when he was faced with his own terrible sins of adultery and murder. Nathan rebuked David for his sins and David repented:

“Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan replied, ‘The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die” 2 Samuel 12:13,14.

One of the consequences of his sin was the death of his child born to Bathsheba. David faced this with much sorrow. He fasted and pleaded with God to save his son. Afterward David had learned a great lesson and was able to write, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge” (Psalm 51:4). He accepted the judgment of God and was ready to see justice done in his life. His true repentance led him to accept the consequences of his actions no matter how painful they were.

We need to be very grateful that God has and will forgive us. We need to learn the lessons of our lives and what the consequences of sin can teach us. God, by His Spirit, is creating Godly character in us by those lessons.

This article can be found here.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Therapeutic (Non)Gospel

Here is what I consider to be one of the best articles I have ever read. David Powlison uncovers the deceptive message that this world is trying to serve up as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is called the "therapeutic" gospel and it has nothing to do with the message found in the Scriptures and yet it is sweeping the nation (and the world) and blinding the eyes of millions. Don't believe me? Look at the thousands who line up to listen to Joel Osteen tickle their ears every Sunday. It is a message that is appealing to the flesh and it is not centered around the message of Christ cruicified. This false gospel comes cleverly wrapped in a package labeled with Christian ideas so it is pulling the wool over many people's eyes. I thank God that He is preserving His true message during this dangerous time of half-truths (which is no truth at all) and I pray for discernment among His people so that we will continue to take a stand. To put it frankly, born-again believers who, through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, understand that this life is not meant for us to serve the lusts of our own deceitful heart should not/will not even be able to stomach this perversion of the truth.

This is a great article to forward to your friends who you think might be caught up in this. Compare what is described in it to what the Emergent church leaders are teaching today and you will find that their gospel is not the one of the Bible, but instead a therapeutic one. Please hear me when I say that the Christian life is not about coming to Christ so that our needs are met, it is about becoming A NEW CREATURE through faith in Christ which leads to sanctification and a whole new set of unselfish desires. It is truly an incredible, supernatural work of God in which you desire to live holy and bring glory to Him; it's not an all-inclusive train ride that takes you to your 'best life now' here on this earth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation for all those who believe, why do people think they have to change it? Because they don't believe in it themselves and they are blinded by their own sinful lusts. Pray for these people because their eternity is in danger. All the glory to Christ for saving us, brothers and sisters, from this mindset, for it is by His grace alone. Let this motivate us to study the scriptures like the Bereans and combat these lies with the truth. Ok, I could go on and on but I will stop and let the article do the talking :) Lord willing, take the time to read this entire thing; it is WELL worth the time. The article can be found here at 9marks.org.

The Therapeutic Gospel
By David Powlison

What may be the most famous chapter in all of western literature portrays the appeal of a "therapeutic gospel."

In his chapter entitled "The Grand Inquisitor," Fyodor Dostoevsky imagines Jesus returning to sixteenth century Spain (The Brothers Karamazov, II:5:v). But Jesus is not welcomed by church authorities. The cardinal of Seville, head of the Inquisition, arrests and imprisons Jesus, condemning him to die. Why? The church has shifted course. It has decided to meet instinctual human cravings, rather than calling men to repentance. It has decided to bend its message to felt needs, rather than calling forth the high, holy, and difficult freedom of faith working through love. Jesus’ biblical example and message are deemed too hard for weak souls, and the church has decided to make it easy.

The Grand Inquisitor, representing the voice of this misguided church, interrogates Jesus in his prison cell. He sides with the tempter and the three questions the tempter put to Jesus in the wilderness centuries before. He says that the church will give earthly bread instead of the bread of heaven. It will offer religious magic and miracles instead of faith in the Word of God. It will exert temporal power and authority instead of serving the call to freedom. "We have corrected Your work," the inquisitor says to Jesus.

The inquisitor’s gospel is a therapeutic gospel. It’s structured to give people what they want, not to change what they want. It centers exclusively around the welfare of man and temporal happiness. It discards the glory of God in Christ. It forfeits the narrow, difficult road that brings deep human flourishing and eternal joy. This therapeutic gospel accepts and covers for human weaknesses, seeking to ameliorate the most obvious symptoms of distress. It makes people feel better. It takes human nature as a given, because human nature is too hard to change. It does not want the King of Heaven to come down. It does not attempt to change people into lovers of God, given the truth of who Jesus is, what he is like, what he does.


The most obvious, instinctual felt needs of twenty-first century, middle-class Americans are different from the felt needs that Dostoevsky tapped into. We take food supply and political stability for granted. We find our miracle-substitute in the wonders of technology. Middle-class felt needs are less primal. They express a more luxurious, more refined sense of self-interest:

-I want to feel loved for who I am, to be pitied for what I’ve gone through, to feel intimately understood, to be accepted unconditionally;
-I want to experience a sense of personal significance and meaningfulness, to be successful in my career, to know my life matters, to have an impact;
-I want to gain self-esteem, to affirm that I am okay, to be able to assert my opinions and desires;
-I want to be entertained, to feel pleasure in the endless stream of performances that delight my eyes and tickle my ears;
-I want a sense of adventure, excitement, action, and passion so that I experience life as thrilling and moving.

The modern, middle-class version of therapeutic gospel takes its cues from this particular family of desires. We might say that the target audience consists of psychological felt needs, rather than the physical felt needs that typically arise in difficult social conditions. (The contemporary "health and wealth" gospel and obsession with "miracles" express something more like the Grand Inquisitor’s older version of therapeutic gospel.)

In this new gospel, the great "evils" to be redressed do not call for any fundamental change of direction in the human heart. Instead, the problem lies in my sense of rejection from others; in my corrosive experience of life’s vanity; in my nervous sense of self-condemnation and diffidence; in the imminent threat of boredom if my music is turned off; in my fussy complaints when a long, hard road lies ahead. These are today’s significant felt needs that the gospel is bent to serve. Jesus and the church exist to make you feel loved, significant, validated, entertained, and charged up. This gospel ameliorates distressing symptoms. It makes you feel better. The logic of this therapeutic gospel is a jesus-for-Me who meets individual desires and assuages psychic aches.

The therapeutic outlook is not a bad thing in its proper place. By definition, a medical-therapeutic gaze holds in view problems of physical suffering and breakdown. In literal medical intervention, a therapy treats an illness, trauma, or deficiency. You don’t call someone to repentance for their colon cancer, broken leg, or beriberi. You seek to heal. So far, so good.

But in today’s therapeutic gospel the medical way of looking at the world is metaphorically extended to these psychological desires. These are defined just like a medical problem. You feel bad; the therapy makes you feel better. The definition of the disease bypasses the sinful human heart. You are not the agent of your deepest problems, but merely a sufferer and victim of unmet needs. The offer of a cure skips over the sin-bearing Savior. Repentance from unbelief, willfulness, and wickedness is not the issue. Sinners are not called to a U-turn and to a new life that is life indeed. Such a gospel massages self-love. There is nothing in its inner logic to make you love God and love any other person besides yourself. This therapeutic gospel may often mention the word "Jesus," but he has morphed into the meeter-of-your-needs, not the Savior from your sins. It corrects Jesus’ work. The therapeutic gospel unhinges the gospel.


The real gospel is good news of the Word made flesh, the sin-bearing Savior, the resurrected Lord of lords: "I am the living One, and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore" (Rev. 1:18). This Christ turns the world upside down. The Holy Spirit rewires our sense of felt need as one prime effect of his inworking presence and power. Because the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, we keenly feel a different set of needs when God comes into view and when we understand that we stand or fall in his gaze. My instinctual cravings are replaced (sometimes quickly, always gradually) by the growing awareness of true, life-and-death needs:

-I need mercy above all else: "Lord, have mercy upon me"; "For Your name’s sake, pardon my iniquity for it is very great";
-I want to learn wisdom, and unlearn willful self-preoccupation: "Nothing you desire compares with her";
-I need to learn to love both God and neighbor: "The goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith";
-I long for God’s name to be honored, for his kingdom to come, for his will to be done on earth;
-I want Christ’s glory, lovingkindness, and goodness to be seen on earth, to fill the earth as obviously as water fills the ocean;
-I need God to change me from who I am by instinct, choice, and practice;
-I want him to deliver me from my obsessive self-righteousness, to slay my lust for self-vindication, so that I feel my need for the mercies of Christ, so that I learn to treat others gently;
-I need God’s mighty and intimate help in order to will and to do those things that last unto eternal life, rather than squandering my life on vanities;
-I want to learn how to endure hardship and suffering in hope, having my faith simplified, deepened, and purified;
-I need to learn to worship, to delight, to trust, to give thanks, to cry out, to take refuge, to hope;
-I want the resurrection to eternal life: "We groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body";
-I need God himself: "Show me Your glory"; "Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus."

Make it so, Father of mercies. Make it so, Redeemer of all that is dark and broken.

Prayer expresses desire. Prayer expresses your felt sense of need. Lord, have mercy upon us. Song expresses gladness and gratitude at desire fulfilled. Song expresses your felt sense of who God is and all that he gives. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. But there are no prayers and songs in the Bible that take their cues from the current therapeutic felt needs. Imagine, "Our Father in heaven, help me feel that I’m okay just the way I am. Protect me this day from having to do anything I find boring. Hallelujah, I’m indispensable, and what I’m doing is really having an impact on others, so I can feel good about my life." Have mercy upon us! Instead, in our Bible we hear a thousand cries of need and shouts of delight that orient us to our real needs and to our true Savior.


Properly understood, carefully interpreted, the felt needs make good gifts. But they make poor gods. Get first things first. Seek first the Father’s kingdom and his righteousness, and every other good gift will be added to you.

This is easy to see in the case of the three particular gifts offered by the Grand Inquisitor’s therapeutic gospel. It is a good thing to have a stable source of food, "bread for tomorrow" (Matt. 6:11, literally). All people everywhere seek food, water, and clothing (Matt. 6:32). Our Father knows what we need. But seek first his kingdom. You do not live by bread alone, but by every word out of his mouth. If you worship your physical needs, you will only die. But if you worship God the giver of every good gift, you will be thankful for what he gives; you will still have hope when you suffer lack; and you will surely feast at the endless Banquet.

A sense of wonder and mystery is also a very good thing. But the same caveat, the same framework, applies. God is no wizard of Oz, creating experiences of wonder for the sake of the experience. Jesus said "no" to making a spectacle of himself in the midst of temple crowds. His daily faithfulness to God is a wonder upon wonder. Get first things first. Then you’ll appreciate glory in small ways and large. In the end you will know all things as wonders, both what is (Rev. 4) and what has happened (Rev. 5). You will know the incomprehensible God, creator and redeemer, whose name is Wonderful.

Similarly, political order is a good gift. We are to pray for the authorities to rule well, so that we may live peacefully (1 Tim. 2:2). But if you live for a just society, you will always be disappointed. Again, seek first God’s kingdom. You’ll work toward a just social order, enjoy it to the degree it’s attainable, have reason to endure injustice. In the end, you will know unutterable joy on the day when all persons bow to the reign of the true King.

Of course, God gives good gifts. But he also gives the best gift, the inexpressible Gift of gifts. The Grand Inquisitor burned Jesus at the stake in order to erase the Gift and the Giver. He chose to give people good things, but discarded first things.

The things offered by the contemporary therapeutic gospel are a bit trickier to interpret. The odor of self-interest and self-obsession clings closely to that wish list of "I want_____." But even these, carefully reframed and reinterpreted, do gesture in the direction of a good gift. The overall package of "felt needs" is systematically misaligned, but the pieces can be properly understood. Any "different gospel" (Gal. 1:6) makes itself plausible by offering Lego-pieces of reality assembled into a structure that contradicts revealed truth. Satan’s temptation of Adam and Eve was plausible only because it incorporated many elements of reality, continually gesturing in the direction of truth, even while steadily guiding away from the truth: "Look, a beautiful and desirable tree. and God has said that the test will reveal both good and evil, with the possibility of life not death arising from your choice. Just as God is wise, so you the chooser can become like God in wisdom. Come now and eat." So close, yet so far away. Almost so, but the exact opposite.

Consider the five elements we have identified with the therapeutic gospel:

1. "Need for love"? It is surely a good thing to know that you are both known and loved. God who searches the thoughts and intentions of our hearts also sets his steadfast love upon us. However all this is radically different from the instinctual craving to be accepted for who I am. Christ’s love comes pointedly and personally despite who I am. You are accepted for who Christ is, because of what he did, does, and will do. God truly accepts you, and if God is for you, who can be against you? But in doing this, he does not affirm and endorse what you are like. Rather, he sets about changing you into a fundamentally different kind of person. In the real gospel you feel deeply known and loved, but your relentless "need for love" has been overthrown.

2. "Need for significance"? It is surely a good thing for the works of your hands to be established forever: gold, silver, and precious stones, not wood, hay, and straw. It is good when what you do with your life truly counts, and when your works follow you into eternity. Vanity, futility, and ultimate insignificance register the curse upon our work life – even midcourse, not just when we retire, or when we die, or on the Day of Judgment. But the real gospel inverts the order of things presupposed by the therapeutic gospel. The craving for impact and significance – one of the typical "youthful lusts" that boil up within us – is merely idolatrous when it acts as Director of Operations in the human heart. God does not meet your need for significance; he meets your need for mercy and deliverance from your obsession with personal significance. When you turn from your enslavement and turn to God, then your works do start to count for good. The gospel of Jesus and the fruit of faith are not tailored to "meet your needs." He frees from the tyranny of felt needs, remakes you to fear God and keep his commandments (Eccl. 12:13). In the divine irony of grace, that alone makes what you do with your life of lasting value.

3. "Need for self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-assertion"? To gain a confident sense of your identity is a great good. Ephesians is strewn with several dozen "identity statements," because by this the Spirit motivates a life of courageous faith and love. You are God’s – among the saints, chosen ones, adopted sons, beloved children, citizens, slaves, soldiers; part of the workmanship, wife and dwelling place – every one of these in Christ. No aspect of your identity is self-referential, feeding your "self-esteem." Your opinion of yourself is far less important than God’s opinion of you, and accurate self-assessment is derivative of God’s assessment. True identity is God-referential. True awareness of yourself connects to high esteem for Christ. Great confidence in Christ correlates to a vote of fundamental no confidence in and about yourself. God nowhere replaces diffidence and people-pleasing by self-assertiveness. In fact, to assert your opinions and desires, as is, marks you as a fool. Only as you are freed from the tyranny of your opinions and desires are you free to assess them accurately, and then to express them appropriately.

4. "Need for pleasure"? In fact, the true gospel promises endlessly joyous experience, drinking from the river of delights (Ps. 36). This describes God’s presence. But as we have seen in each case, this is keyed to the reversal of our instinctive cravings, not to their direct satisfaction. The way of joy is the way of suffering, endurance, small obediences, willingness to identify with human misery, willingness to overthrow your most persuasive desires and instincts. I don’t need to be entertained. But I absolutely NEED to learn to worship with all my heart.

5. "Need for excitement and adventure"? To participate in Christ’s kingdom is to play a part within the Greatest Action-Adventure Story Ever Told. But the paradox of redemption again turns the whole world upside down. The real adventure takes the path of weakness, struggle, endurance, patience, small kindnesses done well. The road to excellence in wisdom is unglamorous. Other people might take better vacations and have a more thrilling marriage than yours. The path of Jesus calls forth more grit than thrill. He needed endurance far more than he needed excitement. His kingdom might not cater to our cravings for derring-do and thrill-seeking, but "solid joys and lasting treasures none but Zion’s children know."

We say "yes" and "amen" to all good gifts. But get first things first. The contemporary therapeutic gospel in its many forms takes our ‘gimmes’ at face value. It grabs for the goodies. It erases worship of the Giver, whose greatest gift is mercy towards us for what we want by instinct, choice, enculturation, and habit. He calls us to radical repentance. Bob Dylan described the therapeutic’s alternative in a remarkable phrase: "You think He’s just an errand boy to satisfy your wandering desires" (from When You Gonna Wake Up?). Second things are exalted as servants of Number One.

Get first things first. Get the gospel of incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and glory. Live the gospel of repentance, faith, and transformation into the image of the Son. Proclaim the gospel of the coming Day when eternal life and eternal death are revealed, the coming Day of Christ.


Which gospel will you live? Which gospel will you preach? Which needs will you awaken and address in others? Which Christ will be your people’s Christ? Will it be the christette who massages felt need? Or the Christ who turns the world upside down and makes all things new?

The Grand Inquisitor was very tender-hearted towards human felt need—very sympathetic to the things that all people everywhere seek with all their heart, very sensitive to the difficulty of changing anyone. But he proved to be a monster in the end. There is a saying in mercy ministries that runs like this, "If you don’t seek to meet people’s physical needs, it’s heartless. But if you don’t give people the crucified, risen and returning Christ, it’s hopeless." Jesus fed hungry people bread, and Jesus offered his broken body as the bread of eternal life. It is ultimately cruel to leave people in their sins, captive to their instinctive desires, in despair, under curse. The current therapeutic gospel sounds tender-hearted at first. It is so sensitive to pressure points of ache and disappointment. But in the end it is cruel and Christ-less. It does not foster true self-knowledge. It does not rewrite the script of the world. It creates no prayers or songs.

We must be no less sensitive but far more discerning. Jesus Christ turns human need upside down, creating prayer. He is the inexpressible Gift of gifts, creating song. And he gives all good gifts, both now and forever. Let every knee bow, and let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

George Washington's Prayer

Oh how far this country has strayed. Here is a deep, theologically rich prayer from our founding president:

O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul. Direct my thoughts, words and work, wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb, and purge my heart by thy Holy Spirit, from the dross of my natural corruption, that I may with more freedom of mind and liberty of will serve thee, the ever lasting God, in righteousness and holiness this day, and all the days of my life. Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the gospel; give me repentance from dead works; pardon my wanderings, and direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation; teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments; make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber, but daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life. Bless my family, friends and kindred unite us all in praising and glorifying thee in all our works begun, continued, and ended, when we shall come to make our last account before thee blessed Saviour…

(From William J. Johnson, George Washington, the Christian (New York: The Abingdon Press, New York & Cincinnati, 1919), pp. 24-35.)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Lord Willing....

I am going to be taking some time off from blogging. Not that I post everyday anyway, but I feel the Lord calling me away for a while....not sure how long. It could be 2 days or it could be weeks. It isn't about the amount of time...it is about being obedient to the Lord and taking heed to His way which is infinitely better than mine. There is much heaviness and conviction on my heart at the moment and many parts of my life that the Lord is graciously working on right now, and well, the Lord is calling. If the Lord wills, pray that I will seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and that my will and His will may become melted into one. God bless you all.

I leave this treasure with you. An excerpt from an incredible book,
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment
by Jeremiah Burroughs:

That is his way of contentment, and it is a way that the world has no skill in. I open it thus: not so much by adding to what he would have, or to what he has, not by adding more to his condition; but rather by subtracting from his desires, so as to make his desires and his circumstances even and equal.
A carnal heart knows no way to be contented but this: I have such and such possessions, and if I had this added to them, and the other comfort added that I have not now, then I should be contented. perhaps I have lost my possessions, if I could only have given to me something to make up my loss, then I should be a contented man. But contentment does not come in that way, it does not come, I say, by adding to what you want, but by subtracting from your desires. It is all one to a Christian, whether I get up to what I would have, or get my desires down to what I have, either to attain what I do desire, or to bring down my desires to what I have already attained. My wealth is the same, for it is as fitting for me to bring my desire down to my circumstances, as it is to raise up my circumstances to my desire.
Now I say that a heart that has no grace, and is not instructed in this mystery of contentment, knows of no way to get contentment, but to have his possessions raised up to his desires; but the Christian has another way to contentment, that is, he can bring his desires down to his possessions, and so he attains his contentment. Thus the Lord fashions the hearts of the children of men. If the heart of a man is fashioned to his circumstances, he may have as much contentment as if his circumstances were fashioned to his heart. Some men have a mighty large heart, but they have straitened circumstances, and they can never have contentment when they hearts are big and their circumstances are little. But though a man cannot bring his circumstances to be as great as his heart, yet if he can bring his heart to be as little as his circumstances, to make them even, this is the way to contentment. The world is infinitely deceived in thinking that contentment lies in having more than we already have. Here lies the bottom and root of all contentment, when there is an evenness and proportion between our hearts and our circumstances. That is why many godly men who are in low position live more sweet and comfortable lives than those who are richer.

This is a way that flesh and blood has little skill in. You will say, 'How is this?' In this manner: are you afflicted, and is there a great load and burden on you because of your affliction? You think there is no way in the world to get contentment, but, O that this burden were but off! O it is a heavy load, and few know what a burden I have. What, do you think that there is no way for the contentment of your spirit, but to get rid of your burden? O you are deceived. The way of contentment is to add another burden, that is, to labor to load and burden your heart with your sin; the heavier the burden of your sin is to your heart, the lighter will the burden of your affliction be to your heart, and so you shall come to be content. If you burden were lightened, that would content you; you think there is no way to lighten it but to get it off. But you are deceived; for if you can get your heart to be more burdened with your sin, you will be less burdened with your afflictions.
You will say, this is a strange way for a man or woman to get ease to their condition, to lay a greater burden upon them when they are already burdened? You think there is no other way, when you are afflicted, but to be jolly and merry, and get into company. Oh now, you are deceived, your burden will come again. Alas, this is a poor way to get one's spirit quitted; poor man, the burden will be upon him again. If you would have your burden light, get alone and examine your heart for your sin, and charge your soul with your sin. If your burden is in your possessions, for the abuse of them, or if it is a burden upon your body, for the abuse of your health and strength, and the abuse of any mercies that now the Lord has taken away from you, that you have not honored God with those mercies that you have had, but you have walked wantonly and carelessly; if you so fall to bemoaning your sin before the Lord, you shall quickly find the burden of your affliction to be lighter than it was before. Do but try this piece of skill and art, to get your souls contented with any low circumstances that God puts you into.
Many times in a family, when any affliction befalls them, Oh, what an amount of discontent is there between man and wife! If they are crossed in their possessions at land, or have bad news from across the seas, or if those whom they trusted are ruined and the like, or perhaps something in the family causes strife between man and wife, in reference to the children or servants, and there is nothing but quarrelling and discontent among them, now they are many times burdened with their own discontent; and perhaps will say one to another, It is very uncomfortable for us to live so discontented as we do. But have you ever tried this way, husband and wife? Have you ever got alone and said, 'Come, Oh let us go and humble our souls before God together, let us go into our chamber and humble our souls before God for our sin, by which we have abused those mercies that God has taken away from us, and we have provoked God against us. Oh let us charge ourselves with our sin, and be humbled before the Lord together.'? Have you tried such a way as this? Oh you would find that the cloud would be taken away, and the sun would shine in upon you, and you would have a great deal more contentment than ever you had. If a man's estate is broken, either by plunderers, or any other way; how shall this man have contentment? How? By the breaking of his heart. God has broken your estate; Oh seek to him for the breaking of your heart likewise. Indeed, a broken estate and a whole heart, a hard heart, will not join together; there will be no contentment. But a broken estate and a broken heart will so suit one another, as that there will be more contentment than there was before.

I mean in regard of the use of it, though for the thing itself the affliction remains. The way of contentment to a carnal heart is only the removing of the affliction. O that it may be gone! 'No,' says a gracious heart, 'God has taught me a way to be content though the affliction itself still continues.' There is a power of grace to turn this affliction into good; it takes away the sting and poison of it. Take the case of poverty, a man's possessions are lost: Well, is there no way to be contented till your possessions are made up again? Till your poverty is removed? Yes, certainly, Christianity would teach contentment, though poverty continues. It will teach you how to turn your poverty to spiritual riches. You shall be poor still as to your outward possessions, but this shall be altered; whereas before it was a natural evil to you, it comes now to be turned to a spiritual benefit to you. And so you come to be content.
Therefore think not this strange that I am speaking of. You do not find one godly man who came out of an affliction worse than when he went into it; though for a while he was shaken, yet at last he was better for an affliction.
Luther has a similar expression in his comment on the 5th chapter of the Galatians, the 17th verse: he says, 'Christian becomes a mighty worker and a wonderful creator, that is', he says, 'to create out of heaviness joy, out of terror comfort, out of sin righteousness, and out of death life.' He brings light out of darkness. It was God's prerogative and great power, his creating power to command the light to shine out of darkness.
If you understand this in a carnal way, I know it will be ridiculous for a minister to speak thus to you, and many carnal people are ready to make such expressions as these ridiculous, understanding them in a carnal way.
This is just like Nicodemus, in the third of John, 'What! can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?' So when we say of grace, that it can turn water into wine, and turn poverty into riches, and make poverty a gainful trade, a carnal heart says, 'Let them have that trade if they will, and let them have water to drink, and see if they can turn it into wine.' Oh, take heed you do not speak in a scornful way of the ways of God; grace has the power to turn afflictions into mercies. Two men may have the same affliction; to one it shall be as gall and wormwood, yet it shall be wine and honey and delightfulness and joy and advantage and riches to the other. This is the mystery of contentment, not so much by removing the evil, as by metamorphosing the evil, by changing the evil into good.


This too is a mystery to a carnal heart. It is not by having his own desires satisfied, but by melting his will and desires into God's will. So that, in one sense, he comes to have his desires satisfied though he does not obtain the thing that he desired before; still he comes to be satisfied with this, because he makes his will to be at one with God's will. This is a small degree higher than submitting to the will of God. You all say that you should submit to God's will; a Christian has got beyond this. He can make God's will and his own the same. It is said of believers that they are joined to the Lord, and are one spirit; that means, that whatever God's will is, I do not only see good reason to submit to it, but God's will is my will. When the soul can make over, as it were, its will to God, it must needs be contented. Others would fain get the thing they desire, but a gracious heart will say, 'O what God would have, I would have too; I will not only yield to it, but I would have it too.' A gracious heart has learned this art, not only to make the commanding will of God to be its own will-that is, what God commands me to do, I will do it-but to make the providential will of God and the operative will of God to be his will too. God commands this thing, which perhaps you who are Christians may have some skill in, but whatever God works you must will, as well as what God commands.
You must make God's providential will and his operative will, your will as well as God's will, and in this way you must come to contentment. A Christian makes over his will to God, and in making over his will to God, he has no other will but God's. Suppose a man were to make over his debt to another man. If the man to whom I owe the debt be satisfied and contented, I am satisfied because I have made it over to him, and I need not be discontented and say, 'My debt is not paid and I am not satisfied'. Yes, you are satisfied, for he to whom you made over your debt is satisfied. It is just the same, for all the world, between God and a Christian: a Christian heart makes over his will to God: now then if God's will is satisfied, then I am satisfied, for I have no will of my own, it is melted into the will of God. This is the excellence of grace: grace does not only subject the will to God, but it melts the will into God's will, so that they are now but one will. What a sweet satisfaction the soul must have in this condition, when all is made over to God. You will say, This is hard! I will express it a little more: A gracious heart must needs have satisfaction in this way, because godliness teaches him this, to see that his good is more in God than in himself. The good of my life and comforts and my happiness and my glory and my riches are more in God than in myself. We may perhaps speak more of that, when we come to the lessons that are to be learned. It is by this that a gracious heart gets contentment; he melts his will into God's, for he says, 'If God has glory, I have glory; God's glory is my glory, and therefore God's will is mine; if God has riches, then I have riches; if God is magnified, then I am magnified; if God is satisfied, then I am satisfied; God's wisdom and holiness is mine, and therefore his will must needs be mine, and my will must needs be his.' This is the art of a Christian's contentment: he melts his will into the will of God, and makes over his will to God: 'Oh Lord, thou shalt choose our inheritance for us' (Psalm 47:4).
Now the men of the world, when they would have contentment, and lack anything, Oh, they must have something from outside to content them. But a godly man says: 'Let me get something out that is in already, and then I shall come to contentment.' Suppose a man has a fever, that makes what he drinks taste bitter: he says, 'You must put some sugar into my drink'; his wife puts some in, and still the drink tastes bitter. Why? Because the bitterness comes from a bitter choleric humor within. But let the physician come and give him a bitter portion to purge out the bitterness that is within, and then he can taste his drink well enough. It is just the same with men of the world: Oh such a mercy added to this mercy, then it would be sweet; but even if God should put a spoonful or two of sugar in, it would still be bitter. The way to contentment is to purge out your lusts and bitter humours.
'From whence are wars, and strifes? are they not from your lusts that are within you?' (James 4:1).
They are not so much from things outside, but from within. I have said sometimes, 'Not all the storms that are abroad can make an earthquake, but the vapours that have got within.' So if those lusts that are within, in your heart, were got out, your condition would be a contented condition. These are the mysterious ways of godliness, that the men of the world never think of. When did you ever think of such a way as this, to go and purge out the diseases of your heart that are within? Here are seven particulars now named, and there are many more. Without the understanding of these things, and the practice of them, you will never come to a true contentment in your life; Oh, you will be bunglers in this trade of Christianity. But the right perceiving of these things will help you to be instructed in it, as in a mystery.
The mystery of contentment may be shown even more. A gracious heart gets contentment in a mysterious way, a way that the w

Repent, Throw Away Everything, and Serve the Lord

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