Friday, July 24, 2009

Imagine Yourself As a Living House

C. S. Lewis on God's work of sanctification in our lives:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Biblical Manhood, Sports and Self-Control

On Sunday night I took a layer of skin off my left leg while sliding into second base. I was clearly...clearly safe but the umpire while standing behind home plate declared me out. The same umpire thought the tie went to the fielder when I beat a grounder to first but was declared out. I played third base (if you can call it "played") and committed more errors in 3 innings than a good pro does in a 162 game season. Frustration...disgust...excuses...

Sports have been a sanctifying instrument in my life because it has often revealed to me sinful areas of my heart--pride, lack of self-control, selfishness, identity in sports not in God...

I found the following words from Jeff Robinson very helpful, inspiring and encouraging as he reflects on manhood, self control, his son's little league and last week's British Open.


Young men: Learn self-control
Jeff Robinson (July 21, 2009)

Two sports events this weekend, one seen across the globe, the other far more mundane, provided me with an opportunity to teach my six-year-old son a crucial lesson in biblical manhood.

The first event unfolded Saturday on a little league diamond near our home in a game involving my son. After getting a hit in each of his first two at-bats, Jeffrey grounded out to first base. He stroked a nice, hard grounder, but the first baseman made an even nicer play. A runner moved from second to third base on the play and thus it was, in baseball parlance, a productive out.

As his coach, I was pleased. As his father, I was less pleased, however, by what happened next: Jeffrey threw his batting helmet in anger. In the dugout, he knocked around some equipment and even gave his glove a brisk toss. Now, this is certainly no way to treat your equipment, but that is beside the point. As the team went back into the field for the next inning, I kept Jeffrey in the dugout with me. "You're out of the game for the rest of the day," I told him. Needless to say, he wasn't thrilled.

After the game, we talked about sportsmanship and self-control and idolatry and doing all things to the glory of God. We talked about the humbling nature of baseball, how even Ted Williams failed seven times in 10, how you must put failure behind you and how the game parallels the Christian pilgrimage. Self-control and learning how to fail gracefully are critical lessons for future men to learn; they are a critical part of manhood, a critical part of a man's ability to lead well. "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls." (Prov. 25:28) Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:23) and Paul urged young men to be self-controlled (Titus 2:6). I want my sons to learn this lesson in baseball, where the damage is limited to a scarred helmet, rather than in real life, where the damage can be catastrophic and eternal.

Event No. 2, the British Open golf tournament that concluded Sunday, provided the perfect illustration for a lesson on self-control. At 59, Tom Watson missed becoming the oldest golfer to win the esteemed tournament when he left short an eight-foot putt on hole No. 18. Watson had made that putt ten thousand times before, but this time he missed and lost a four-hole playoff to Stewart Cink. In overtime, Watson's game fell apart. On the third hole, he drove deep into the rough while Cink, who spoke afterward of his Christian faith as a steadying reality, salted away his first victory in a major tournament.

It was Watson's calm demeanor over those final five holes that provided the lesson. After misfiring on one of the playoff holes, Watson strode calmly down the fairway, doffed his hat and smiled to the cheering gallery. When he missed the putt that would have clinched the win, there was no club throwing, no foul language, no fit of anger, only a slight grimace and a pained smile. In the end, Watson stood at Cink's side, wearing a smile, graciously extolling his younger opponent before the media. Pure class. Real manhood.

Life in a fallen world is fraught with losing, for biblical Christianity is a perennial competition between two factions warring for supremacy over the human heart. God warns us about this reality early in His Word (Gen. 3:15a). All men fail on some level and even the most sanctified man will emerge from this war with scars from battles lost and battles won. My son must learn to deal with victory and defeat now. I pray that these lessons will make clear his desperate need for the One Victorious Man, the One who won the war over sin and death and yes, even helmet throwing and glove kicking, once and for all (Rom. 5:19).

(HT - Tim Challies)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More Sovereign Grace Music for a Good Price

Here is a good cd to worship with -- "Next 2009 Live" -- the live recording of the NEXT 2009.

Many of the songs are familiar (we sing several at Grace - "All I Need Is Christ", "Jesus, Thank You").

You can download this album here for $5.

I haven't listened to all the songs but a new one to me, "I Need You", is worth the entire album price.

Here are the songs:

Track List (click for lyrics)

God over All
His Name Is Jesus
He Is Jesus
Praise the Lord
By This We Know Love
All I Have Is Christ
Jesus, Thank You
I Need You
The Name above All Names
What a Savior
I Will Glory in My Redeemer
Blessed Is the One
Oh the Deep, Deep Love

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jesus is Mighty to Save Sinners--video

God is a loving and merciful God and He has provided us a mighty Savior.

Don't let guilt and pride keep you from coming to Him.

Here is Paul Washer with a powerful story and reminder of the Gospel:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Living in a Broken-Down House

I experienced it this morning when I woke up and I haven't gone one hour without be reminded by the reality of its presence. I live in a broken-down house. No, I am not talking about my home in Forest Lake, I am talking about this world and everyone in it--including myself.

This current state of affairs is the result of man's sin. God created a beautiful world and yet we rebelliously thought we could rule and manage it better than He could. The folly of our decision is seen all around us. If you need some convincing, read the headlines, watch the news, check your friend's Facebook status, and talk to people and you will know what I mean. However, the good news is that the Creator of this house is in a glorious restoration process based on His Son's work on the Cross. Through His Son, Jesus, He is committed to redeeming what is now broken. He has and is in the process of transforming sinners into Christ-like beings through GRACE. Yes, if we are truly saved it's because we are recipients of grace. Only people who understand their sinfulness can properly appreciate the magnitude of this grace, and only those who have experienced this grace can truly be honest and courageous enough to deal with their sinfulness. It is hard to be productive when everything is a mess. I can't stand having my desk cluttered much less a house in half-disrepair. I remember several years ago when we were refinishing the floors in our kitchen and dining room. I found, at times, it almost debilitating to do anything while the mess/project was still open. We are called to live in a house that is broken-down and is in the process of renovation and we are called to live productively. How?

Paul David Tripp gives a wise and winsome answer to this question as He biblically takes on the subjects of sin, grace, hope, sanctification, faith, waiting, righteous anger, love, ministering, community and worship in his book--Broken-Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad. This is a book that, thought delivered from, was a timely message from God to my soul over the past two weeks.

Tripp warns us of the dangers of location and identity amnesia. We practically or functionally forgot where we live and who we really are. We live in a broken-down house and as Christians our identity is founded upon the two pillars of sinner and child of grace. He does a great job explaining and illustrating what he means and how this practically plays itself out in real life--in marriage, parenting, work, church, ministry, hardships, disappointments, etc.

Here is a video promotion of the book by the author:

Needless to say, I highly recommend Paul Tripp (and his other books) and his book - Broken-Down House.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Back from Vacation and Very Grateful

I am thankful to God and Grace Church for the time to rest with my family over the past two weeks. I enjoyed an emotionally restful vacation while staying at home (staycation). Although it was emotionally restful, it was not always physically restful but that is because we enjoy four kids six and under. :) I have accepted (for the most part) that this is not the season of our lives that we will get a whole lot of sleep.

Thank you for praying for me and my family during this time "away" from the normal routine. We had fun as a family at parks, playgrounds, beaches, pools, walks, cookouts, parades, etc. Spiritually, I had a very refreshing time reading several good books (see future posts) that fed by soul. Maritally, it was a great time to spend with Molly. On Tuesday, July 7th, we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. I am so thankful to have such a godly wife and best-friend. I am grateful to Christina Hansen and her girls for watching our kids so we could enjoy a "date-night" on Wednesday.

This week is a transition week as I get back into things. I am spending the time getting caught up as well as studying/reading (for my soul and for the church). Please pray for me that God would continue to refresh me for His work equipping me to be the christian, husband, father and pastor that He has called me to be. I love Christ and His Church (and especially Grace Church) and I am excited to serve and be served for His glory!

Together with you in the Great Cause and for the Greatest King,
Pastor Daniel

Friday, July 3, 2009

Declaration of Independency - John Adams

I am reading John Adams by David McCullough and it is a delightful read. McCullough doesn't just write a book with dates and events. He gives the reader a human story. He does a great job telling the story of the founding of the United States of America from the 13 British-governed colonies. He tells it through the lens of the second U.S. president and man responsible for getting the 13 colonies to agree to declare "independency" (as they called it) from King George III in England. On the eve of the Fourth of July (which happens to be on July 4th) I thought I would share this quote from John Adams' letter to his wife Abigail [emphasis mine - he thought the 2nd would be the celebrated date because that was the day the continental congress agreed to sign]:

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. -- I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. -- Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not. (p. 130)
His visionary ability and foresight was amazing. Here is the Declaration of Independence which was written by his friend, Thomas Jefferson.

To see more thoughts and quotes from this book you can follow them through my Twitter Account (or Facebook updates).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Praying for Your Pastor-preachers

As I was reading from Spurgeon's "What the Stones Say" this week I came across this powerful illustration that emphasizes the need for people to pray for their pastors.
We may say what we will, but it is true that God does bless all by one. But every man, however much God may have helped him in the past, will grow weary, unless he be upheld by the loving sympathies and earnest prayers of those around him. I thank God for my Aarons and Hurs. I have heard of a minister, some of the members of whose congregation complained to him that his sermons of late had not been so good as aforetime. “Well,” said the good man, ‘there’s but too much truth in the charge; but this is how it is, I’ve lost my prayer book.” “But,” said they, “we did not know you used a book for prayers.” “No,” said the minister, “but my prayer-book is in your hearts, and I’ve lost your prayers.” I am sure the quality of a sermon often depends upon the prayers of the congregation.
Please pray for your pastor/preachers.