A Heart that Trembles: Our Approach to Theology?

30 12 2007

I came across this convicting truth reading through Jeremiah Burroughs‘ powerful sermon A Heart that Trembles at God’s Word is Precious in God’s Sight.  You can find the sermon in the book Gospel Fear

In the Word of God there are wonderful, high, glorious, amazing mysteries that are revealed, mysteries to be trembled at.  It rather becomes poor creatures to receive them with trembling rather than to search into them by inquiring. Oh, the mysteries of salvation are so infinitely above us that they cannot but cause trembling in the hearts of those who come to understand the glory of them. There’s the mystery of election, of redemption, of the hypostatic union, of the death of the Son of God, of justification, reconciliation, adoption, sanctification, and glorification.  They are mysteries to be trembled at in respect of the infinite depth, length, height, and breadth of them.”

Clearly our puritan brother isn’t calling us to abandon the study of these glorious doctrines, but to watch our attitude as we approach their study.  They should not become for us mere academic ventures or sources of frustration; Burroughs is calling us to see them as holy ground and reverently approach what our glorious God has so graciously revealed.
It is then that our study of Theology will rightly become for us an exercise in worship.


Adventures at Cafepress!

29 12 2007

A few days ago, I was messing around with Cafepress and did a few shirt designs that I’m planning on purchasing down the road.  I thought it would be fun to proudly display my affection for Watson, so I came up with this shirt.

Thomas Watson Homeboy

I did a few other designs…

M’Cheyne HomeboyGeorge Whitefield Homeboy

… and then I made a few with the following quotes on the back (the Whitefield quote is my favorite!).

“Repentance is a grace of God’s Spirit whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed.”

“For every look at self take ten looks at Christ.”

“Works? Works? A man get to heaven by works? I would as soon think of climbing to the moon on a rope of sand!”      

I set up a storefront; if you’re interested in checking my “puritan pride” designs, here’s the link: Ye Olde Mud Shoppe.
(The problem with the basic “shop” at Cafepress is that it only lets you use 1 item per shop, so I had to get creative with the t-shirt options.)

If you’ve never played around at Cafepress, it is a lot of fun!

Charles Spurgeon…On Psalm 40

28 12 2007

Do you ever talk to a brother or sister in the Lord and all they do is go on and on complaining about their life?  At times we might even fall into the same trap.  However, when we do we reveal that we’ve lost sight of our glorious deliverance from the pit; we’ve lost sight of our glorious salvation!  In the following quote, that is part of my “…On Psalm 40” series, our godly brother, Charles, challenges us to correct that wrong focus.

Some Christians are sadly prone to look on the dark side of everything, and to dwell more upon what they have gone through than upon what God has done for them. Ask for their impression of the Christian life, and they will describe their continual conflicts, their deep afflictions, their sad adversities, and the sinfulness of their hearts, yet with scarcely any allusion to the mercy and help which God has vouchsafed them. But a Christian whose soul is in a healthy state, will come forward joyously, and say, “I will speak, not about myself, but to the honour of my God. He hath brought me up out of an horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings: and he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God. The Lord hath done great things for me, whereof I am glad.” Such an abstract of experience as this is the very best that any child of God can present. It is true that we endure trials, but it is just as true that we are delivered out of them. It is true that we have our corruptions, and mournfully do we know this, but it is quite as true that we have an all-sufficient Saviour, who overcomes these corruptions, and delivers us from their dominion. In looking back, it would be wrong to deny that we have been in the Slough of Despond, and have crept along the Valley of Humiliation, but it would be equally wicked to forget that we have been through them safely and profitably; we have not remained in them, thanks to our Almighty Helper and Leader, who has brought us “out into a wealthy place.” The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through all, and preserved us until now. Our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise, we reckon them to be the bass part of our life’s song, “He hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”

Charles Spurgeon from Morning and Evening, June 9

In Prayer

26 12 2007

O Lord,
In prayer I launch far out into the eternal world,
  and on that broad ocean my soul triumphs
  over all evils on the shores of mortality.
Time, with its gay amusements and cruel disappointments, 
  never appears so inconsiderate as then.
In prayer I see myself as nothing;
  I find my heart going after thee with intensity,
  and long with vehement thirst to live to thee.
Blessed be the strong gales of the Spirit
  that speed me on my way to the New Jerusalem.
In prayer all things here below vanish,
  and nothing seems important
  but holiness of heart and the salvation of others.
In prayer all worldly cares, fears, anxieties
  and are of as little significance as a puff of wind.
In prayer my soul inwardly exults with lively thoughts
  at what thou are doing for thy church,
  and I long that thou shouldest get thyself a great name
  from sinners returning to Zion.
In prayer I am lifted above the frowns and flatteries of life,
  and tast heavenly joys;
  entering into the world world
  I can give myself to thee with all my heart,
  to be thine for ever.
In prayer I can place all my concerns in thy hands,
  to be entirely at thy disposal,
  having no will or interest of my own.
In prayer I can intercede for my friends, ministers,
  sinners, the church, thy kingdom to come,
  with greatest freedom, ardent hopes
    as a son to his father,
    as a lover to the beloved.
Help me to be all prayer
  and never to cease praying.

The Valley of Vision: a Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions  

When You Think of the Babe in the Manger…

24 12 2007

… don’t forget:

“These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and spoke of Him.”
John 12:41 

 “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.  Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.’  And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.  Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.'”
Isaiah 6:1-5

Worshipful Christmas!

John Newton 1725-1807

21 12 2007

John NewtonToday marks the bi-centennial of the death of John Newton, a man in whose life God’s Amazing Grace was powerfully manifest.  If you’ve never read about his glorious conversion or the powerful ministry God performed through him, set aside some time to read and delight in his story.

Here are a few books to consider:
For those looking for a good, quick-moving, modern biography check out John Newton: from Disgrace to Amazing Graceby Jonathan Aitken. If a novel is more up your alley, try The Infidelby Joe Musser. Maybe you’re interested in something a bit older and more contemplative.  The biography entitled The Life of John Newton, written in 1868 by Josiah Bull, has just been republished by Banner of Truth Trust. And if you want the story straight fromt the man himself, you can read  his autobiography, now published under the title: Out of the Depths.  

Newton’s story is a powerful and moving picture of God’s great providence, His restless pursuit of a sinner, and His overwhelming (dare we say Amazing) grace that worked to turn a man’s life and his culture upside-down (probably better said, “right-side-up”).  Newton’s life not only stands out as evidence that God can save anyone, but it also reveals what it truly looks like to understand you are a sinner saved by grace.  His faithfulness as a minister of the gospel, even in the face of overwhelming opposition, has become for me a wonderful model of the perseverance to which we are all called.  He used the knowledge of who he was and what God had done for him in order to impel him to finish his race strong and to stand firm in the fight for the abolition of the English slave trade. 
And when Newton’s amazing journey was over, how did this great man of God see himself? 

Here is what he wrote for his own epitaph:

“John Newton,
once an infidel and libertine,
a servant of slaves in Africa,
was, by the rich mercy
of our Lord and Saviour
preserved, restored, pardoned,
and appointed to preach the faith
he had long labored to destroy.”

He was a man who truly understood God’s sovereign and undeserved favor in his life, and his life is worth celebrating today.

Thomas Boston…On Psalm 40

20 12 2007

As this blog has been attracting those hunting for information on Psalm 40, I thought I would start a series of posts focusing on wonderful truths that others have gleaned from this rich Psalm.  I hope this helps those who feel like their search engine has lead them to the wrong place and that it encourages you faithful readers as well. 

Today’s insight comes from puritan Thomas Boston who helps us to see what it cost to deliver us ultimately from “the pit of destruction;” it cost the life of our Savior.  When we begin to forget about the “miry clay,” when we loose sight of how lost we were and how dire our situation was, we are in danger of losing our joy in and our admiration and love for the Savior.  Remembering the overwhelming darkness of our “pit” will help us to again see clearly the radiant beautiful of our Deliverer, our Rescuer, and that is something of which we never want to loose sight.  Enjoy our brother’s rich words! 

Admire that matchless love which brought you out of the state of wrath.  Christ’s love was active love; he brought thy soul from the pit of corruption!  It was no easy work to purchase the life of the condemned sinner; but he gave his life for thy life.  He gave his precious blood to quench the flame of wrath, which otherwise would have consumed thee.  Men get the best view of the stars from the bottom of a deep pit; from this pit of misery, into which thou wast cast by the fall of the first Adam, thou mayest get the best view of the Sun of Righteousness, in all his dimensions.  He is the second Adam, who took thee out of the horrible pit, and out of the miry clay.  How broad was that love, which covered such a multitude of sins!  Behold the length of it, reaching from everlasting to everlasting, Ps. 103:17.  The depth of it, going so low as to deliver thee from the lowest hell, Ps. 86:13.  The height of it, raising thee up to sit in heavenly places, Eph. 2:6.

-Thomas Boston in Human Nature in Its Fourfold State