Archive for December, 2006

Humility: True Greatness (pt. 3)

Pastor Mahaney gives us another practical principle towards growing in humility.
He suggests (#3), We should begin our day expressing gratitude to God. Every day should be Thanksgiving (for the Believer) Are you known as a grateful person? Would thankfulness characterize your life? Don’t take your own word for it, ask your wife and your children? Singles, ask your roommates and your co-workers? Does gratitude characterize my Christian life? Michael Ramsey wrote, “Thankfulness, is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.” Do you see God in everything you receive? Are you a thankful observer of the countless indications of His provision, His presence, His kindness, and His grace? Do you have an attitude of gratitude? 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 commands us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ”

If we’re being honest we’ll probably admit we struggle (at times) in expressing gratitude to God. We are more like the Israelites than we care to admit! Why do you suppose this is? Probably because we think we DESERVE so many things. Observe for a moment Romans 1:21-22, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or GIVE THANKS; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools….” Not giving thanks to God is characteristic of the unregenerate gentile. Remind yourself that an ungrateful person is a proud person. By way of application most of us should get on our knees and confess our sins to our Father.

By way of reminder then, we’ve observed thus far that: “We should daily (#1) Reflect on the Wonder of the Cross (a worshiping people); As well as (#2) Acknowledge each day our need for God (a desperate people); and (#3) We should begin each day expressing gratitude to God. (grateful people).”

If your convicted by these posts then be sure to read Pastor CJ’s great book.

Humility: True Greatness (pt. 2)

Let’s begin this next section by asking ourselves a few questions: What often comes to our minds when we wake up in the morning? What are your first thoughts each morning? (What do I need to accomplish today? Is the coffee ready? Are any kids up? Can I snooze one more time? Am I late for work?)

Mahaney wisely suggests that we should begin our day (#2) by acknowledging our need for God. Why do you think this would be a good discipline to implement? Because this attitude expresses our utter dependence on God, our total need for Jesus; our confidence in Him, etc.

Ponder a moment this powerful quote, “Sin, including especially the sin of pride- is active, not passive. Sin doesn’t wake up tired, because it hasn’t been sleeping. When you wake up in the morning, sin is right there, fully awake, ready to attack.” This reminds me of Genesis 4:7, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

We need to go on the offensive in our efforts to mortify sin. The best offense is often a good defense and the best defense is often a good offence. Most NFL teams that want to stop the Indianapolis Colts high-powered offense seek to keep their defense on the field as long as they can (and w/the Colts run defense that is not too hard). My point is that we need to be PRO-active not passive in the Christian life. We need to think about our thoughts (as my wife often says).  We need to actively fight pride.

We set the right tone for the day by mentally affirming our dependence on God! Begin each morning in prayer: “Lord I need you. Apart from you I can do no good thing. I am a sinner saved by grace and I need your sanctifying grace to work in and through me this day. Help me to mindful of you and your Word this day. I pray that you would be my first and last thought of every day.” Thus Mahaney suggests that we should begin each day “Reflecting on the wonders of the cross as well as acknowledging our need for God.”

Humility: True Greatness (pt. 1)

My young married/families/singles class has been studying pride and humility. The basis for this study is obviously God’s Word. In particular, we are using a few books to help us in our study (Humility: True Greatness by CJ Mahaney; Humility: The Forgotten Virtue by Wayne Mack; and From Pride to Humility by Stuart Scott). Surprisingly, this series has been humbling (especially for the teacher). I would like to review the 5th chapter of Mahaney’s book for your edification (In other words, if something sounds profound then realize the source it came from).

CJ writes, “Here’s a scary thought: It’s possible to admire humility while remaining proud ourselves.” Sometimes knowledge can have the opposite effect? 1 Corinthians 8:1 says, “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” We can grow in head knowledge but still remain unchanged in ours heart. We can read sound theological blogs, go to a strong seminary, sit under fabulous expository preaching and yet still grow cold in our faith.

Thus, the need to make every effort to apply the truths we hear at church (or on the internet or in a book, etc). James 1:22-25; For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

True saving faith acts out what it believes; genuine faith WORKS! Therefore, there must be the purposeful application of truth in our lives. Pastor Mahaney puts it this way, “I must consider how DAILY, DILIGENTLY, and DELIBERATELY (I can) weaken my greatest enemy (pride) and strengthen my greatest friend (all motivated by the grace of the cross).

If you don’t set up battle plans in your Christian life you are in for major setbacks. Any Christian counselor will establish this reality with you right away. Spiritual growth requires spiritual sweat.

We are now going to look at some of the life lessons that Pastor Mahaney has employed in his own life in hopes that some of his ideas may spur us on in our Christian lives. How we begin our morning OFTEN sets the tone for the day (true?)! “As Each Day Begins we should consider (#1) Reflecting on the Wonder of the Cross.” John Owen wrote, “Fill your affections with the cross of Christ, that there may be no room for sin.” How do you think meditating on the Cross will help crush pride in our lives?”

In song we readily admit this reality: When I survey the wondrous cross/On which the Prince of glory died/My richest gain I count but loss/And pour contempt on all my pride. Where do you suppose the hymnist went in Scripture to support this reality? Where is a personal testimony like this recorded? I bet he was familiar with Philippians 3:7-14. Paul’s autobiography is basically recorded in this short section of Scripture. 7 But whatever gain I had (see vv. 1-6), I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

John Stott put it this way, “Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying to us, I am here because of YOU. It is YOUR sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying. Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until WE have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our size.”

Friends, how many of us would admit that there are times when God’s grace doesn’t amaze us like it should? When we grow soo familiar with the facts surrounding the cross that our hearts grow callous to the wonders of the cross? When the thought of partaking of communion doesn’t truly excite us like it use to? This is a major problem! What happens when the cross becomes dull to us? When God’s grace doesn’t amaze us like it us to? We grow callous towards sin. We become complacent in our spiritual life. We grow self-centered and prideful and the list could go on and on.

CJ is right on, we should begin our day (#1) by reflecting on the wonders of the cross.

D.A. Carson on the “Domesticated” Gospel

I would like to buy about three dollars worth of the gospel, please. Not too much—just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted. I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust. I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture. I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation. I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races—especially if they smell. I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged. I would like about three dollars worth of gospel, please” (D.A. Carson, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians, pp. 12-13).

Can “pastor-teachers” be women?

It was in a winter class on Ephesians at The Master’s Seminary, with guest lecturer Harold Hoehner (Dallas Seminary), that I first heard the line of argumentation that “pastors and teachers” in Eph. 4:11 refers exclusively to spiritual gifts and is not synonymous with the office of elder. Hoehner would publish this view a year later in his magnum opus commentary on Ephesians. This issue has come to light again at the recent ETS meeting in Washington where Hoehner delivered a paper entitled, “Can a Woman Be a Pastor-Teacher?”. While having read his commentary on this issue and hearing his class lectures on the same, there remains a number of unanswered objections to his thesis. Jim Hamilton, who attended the recent ETS events, has offered a thoughtful response to Hoehner’s view detailing, among other things, the possibilty of a problemmatic word-study fallacy in Hoehner’s work.

The benefits of “exegetical” preaching

The most important reason for exegetical preaching is what it does to the preacher. Here, what is meant is not exegetical preaching as the “ad-libbing” type of comment about a passage, but the serious attempt to recreate the context of the utterance, and then giving it a chance to speak for itself to man’s condition. This type of preaching, week by week, calls the preacher into constant confrontation with the Word, to the revelation of God in Christ, to the saving act which is addressed first to him, then to his people. This association with the Word deepens the motivation that he feels as he enters the pulpit and he becomes nothing so that the Word can be everything, until it is “Not I, but Christ speaking in me.” That Word, abiding, will challenge and confront people in terms of what they are essentially. Communication will take place. Reality will confront the gospel. People will feel in the broad range and profundity of the Word, not only their own problems and their condition, but there they will meet One who answers their problems ultimately and meets their condition unconditionally” [Raymond E. Gibson, “Communicating the Gospel,” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 10:4 (1956), 410].

Pastoral Visitation

Here’s a great series on pastoral visitation from Paul Martin.

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