Monday, October 31, 2011

The analogies between my daughter’s heart condition and the spiritual condition of every human being are here defined.

Just as my daughter was born with a bad heart, so every human being who is born into this world has a spiritually corrupt heart.

Just as my daughter needs surgery performed on her heart so as to spare her life, so it is with every human. Every person needs spiritual surgery performed on one’s heart so that one can really spiritually live.

Just as my daughter needs someone outside of her to accomplish this new heart-surgery in her, so every sinner needs someone outside of himself to accomplish this heart-surgery which results in regeneration.

Just as my daughter now is in the NICU being so tenderly, constantly, and frequently attended to, we know that without surgery that fixes the problem, all this work by the NICU doctors would all be for naught. So it is with our spiritual conditions. Sinners can try to attend to themselves with such care, frequency, fervency, and diligence to give themselves life, but unless God performs the heart surgery and regenerates the heart, all that self-righteous lawkeeping will be for naught.

Just as my daughter has no idea that she has a bad heart and is in need of life-saving heart surgery, so the deadened sinner who is so blinded by his sin and false worship has no idea that he has a bad heart that will damn him to hell unless the Spirit gives life.

Just as my daughter looks beautiful and cute on the outside but yet her inward parts are in need of life-saving transformation, so it is with unregenerate sinners. They can look religious and ‘all-put-together’ on the outside but have no spiritual life because of the wickedness that resides in the inward parts.

Just as my daughter’s open heart surgery should (Lord willing), be a one-time surgery and thus fix her heart condition for life, so it is with the salvation God works in each sinner. When God takes a spiritually dead heart and breathes new life in it, that one-time “surgery” has spiritually justified the sinner so that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Pray with me that God would spare Tikvah’s life so that we can use these (and many more) analogies to evangelize her in the coming years with the hopes that God might see fit to draw her to Himself in repentance and saving faith in the substitutionary work of Christ.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Born at 2:16am on Friday, October 29th, Tikvah Hadassah Kirkland entered the world weighing in at 7lbs 13oz.

She is stable and doing well in the NICU as her heart-surgery is scheduled for Wednesday (more updates to follow). Thanks for your prayers!

Soli Deo gloria.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A timely reminder from J.C. Ryle:

"I charge my readers to remember this. Stand fast on old principles. Do not forsake the old paths. Let nothing tempt you to believe that multiplication of forms and ceremonies, constant reading of liturgical services, or frequent communions, will ever do so much good to souls as the powerful, fiery, fervent preaching of God's Word. Daily services without sermons may gratify and edify a few handfuls of believers, but they will never reach, draw, attract, or arrest the great mass of mankind. If men want to do good to the multitude, if they want to reach their hearts and consciences, they must walk in the steps of Wycliffe, Latimer, Luther, Chrysostom, and St. Paul. They must attack them through their ears; they must blow the trumpet of the everlasting Gospel loud and long; they must preach the Word!"

JC Ryle, Light from Old Times, 7-8.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From David Peterson:

"Throughout the Bible, acceptable worship means approaching or engaging with God on the terms that he proposes and in the manner that he makes possible. It involves honouring, serving and respecting him, abandoning any loyalty or devotion that hinders an exclusive relationship with him. Although some of Scripture's terms for worship may refer to specific gestures of homage, rituals or priestly ministrations, worship is more fundamentally faith expressing itself in obedience and adoration. Consequently, in both Testaments it is often shown to be a personal and moral fellowship with God relevant to every sphere of life."

From Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship, 283.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Here's a helpful visual of how the building up of the saints happens when we minister to one another:
From: David Peterson, Engaging with God, 221.
Good reminder from David Peterson in his book Engaging with God:

"An engagement with God through Christ is now the only way to offer the worship that is due to Him" (187, emphasis added).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This gets my bones burnin' to preach.

Another leading characteristic of Whitefield’s preaching was his tremendous earnestness. One poor uneducated man said of him, that “he preached like a lion.” He succeeded in showing people that he at least believed all he was saying, and that his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength, were bent on making them believe it too. His sermons were not like the morning and evening gun at Portsmouth, a kind of formal discharge, fired off as a matter of course, that disturbs nobody. They were all life and fire. There was no getting away from them. Sleep was next to impossible. You must listen whether you liked it or not. There was a holy violence about him which firmly took your attention by storm. You were fairly carried off your legs by his energy before you had time to consider what you would do. This, we may be sure, was one secret of his success. We must convince men that we are in earnest ourselves if we want to be believed. The difference between one preacher and another, is often not so much in the things said, as in the manner in which they are said.

It is recorded by one of his biographers that an American gentleman once went to hear him, for the first time, in consequence of the report he heard of his preaching powers. The day was rainy, the congregation comparatively thin, and the beginning of the sermon rather heavy. Our American friend began to say to himself; “This man is no great wonder after all” He looked round, and saw the congregation as little interested as himself. One old man, in front of the pulpit, had fallen asleep. But all at once Whitefield stopped short. His countenance changed. And then he suddenly broke forth in an altered tone: “If I had come to speak to you in my own name, you might well rest your elbows on your knees, and your heads on your hands, and sleep; and once in a while look up, and say, What is this babbler talking of?

But I have not come to you in my own name. No! I have come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts” There he brought down his hand and foot with a force that made the building ring), “and I must and will be heard.” The congregation started. The old man woke up at once. “Ay, ay!” cried Whitefield, fixing his eyes on him, “I have waked you up, have I? I meant to do it. I am not come here to preach to stocks and stones: I have come to you in the name of the Lord God of Hosts, and I must, and will, have an audience.” The hearers were stripped of their apathy at once. Every word of the sermon after this was heard with deep attention, and the American gentleman never forgot it.

From J.C. Ryle's Church Leaders writing on George Whitefield

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Today God blessed me with being with my 3rd Street Heralds team today which I thoroughly enjoy. Today there were many who preached God's Word and God's gospel to a lot of people walking on the Promenade.

Here is a link of my John 3 sermon, thanks to Living Waters Ministry.

At about the 18:00 minute mark, some opposition arises.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Promoting false theology is not new. Rob Bell is following the step of many throughout history who deny the unpopular and hard-to-swallow doctrines of Scripture. The doctrine Bell denies is the eternal, conscious, torment by God upon all the unbelieving in the Lake of Fire forever.

He has a second book coming out; it's actually a sequel to Love Wins. This one is called The Love Wins Companion. Should be out 11/15/2011.

You should be alert of Bell & his belief on hell — through it is by no means new; but he is quite popular.

To rebut his position, I give two Scriptures from the book of Revelation:

Revelation 14:9-11 Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 "And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

And again...

Revelation 20:7-10 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Elizabeth and I trust the Lord with our daughter's heart condition and fully acknowledge that God will do whatever will bring Him the most glory — whether that be in her life or in her death. We are praying for wisdom as the surgeons will perform open-heart surgery in the first few days after the birth, but we desire to trust the Lord and rest upon His unchanging goodness.

Pray with us for her life, yes. But pray with us more importantly for God to be glorified in this whole situation with Tikvah and TGA (=Transposition of the Great Arteries). Her due date is Thursday, October 27th. We'll try to post updates here on the blog & on facebook. Thanks so much for your prayers!

My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope (תִּקְוָה) is from Him (Ps 62:5).

Soli Deo gloria.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Read this letter that James Smith—pastor in the 19th century—penned this letter that is well worth your read. It is called Letter to an Unsaved Friend.

Dear unsaved friend,
Could you please read the following carefully, and then sign it--if you agree to it.

I am resolved to persevere in sin, and follow the maxims and customs of those around me--though it costs me the loss of my soul, and exposes me to everlasting damnation.

I am resolved to reject the Son of God--I will not embrace Him as my Savior, or have Him reign over me. I am resolved that I will not accept the pardon which God presents to me in the gospel, though it cost Jesus His life to procure it--and I know I must eternally perish without it. I am determined not to submit to God's way of salvation, and I consent to be lost forever! I have made up my mind, that I will never consent to receive a free salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ--I will not have it!

I am resolved . . .
to reject God's message,
to dare His justice,
to defy His power,
to refuse His mercy,
to brave His threatened wrath, and
to harden myself against all His invitations, expostulations, exhortations, and promises!

I am resolved that I will not . . .
bow to His authority,
yield to His entreaties,
believe on His Son,
repent of my sins,
love His name,
or obey His precepts!

I am determined that there shall never be joy in Heaven among the angels of God--on account of my conversion.

I will never . . .
desert the ranks of Satan,
give up my sinful practices,
ask for mercy at God's hands,
or take up my cross and follow Christ!

I am resolved . . .
to keep on in my old wicked course,
to persevere in my present sinful path,
to associate with my carnal companions--
and if it secures my eternal damnation--then let it do so!

I will not receive salvation on God's terms,
I will not stoop to be saved by grace alone,
I will not take the yoke of Christ upon me, and engage to be His subject and servant--even though Heaven and all the glories of eternity would be secured by it.

If I cannot escape the wrath of God--but by faith, repentance, and holiness--why, I am determined go to Hell, for I am resolved not to yield to any such terms!

It is of no use for the preacher to spend His breath upon me! My mind is made up, I will be my own master, I will take my own course! No one has any right to interfere with me--for I shall injure no one but myself!

I have no objection to going to church, or to attending to some religious forms--but to give my heart to God, to be crucified to the present world, and to make God's glory the end of life--will never do for me; therefore I gladly take the consequences.

If this is required of those who would be true Christians--then you must stop urging me--for I will not yield! You must stop all attempts to convert me, for my mind is made up! I have heard hundreds of sermons, I have read the Bible myself--but I have hardened myself against the whole, and I am not going to yield now!

Tell me no more of the Savior's love,
tell me no more of the pleasures of holiness,
tell me no more of the terrors of death,
tell me no more of the dreadful judgment,
tell me no more of the joys of Heaven,
tell me no more of the agonies of Hell--
for you will never induce me to yield myself unto God, and seek the salvation of my soul. For my mind is made up, and my daily conduct is enough to convince you of it, if anything would. I am resolved not to yield--let the consequences be what they may!

I will go on just as I have done!

I will not be Christ's servant!

I will not be God's child!

I will obey only Satan!

I will follow the course of this evil world!

I will serve my lusts and pleasures!

In proof thereof, witness my signature, ____________.

Will you now sign your name?

Will you now solemnly put your seal to this statement?

Why are you so afraid?

Do not your actions speak louder than your words? Is not your daily practice stronger proof--than just putting your name to a statement once? If you do not say the above in words--yet if you do so in your actions--then where is the difference? Does not God read the language of your life? If you say it in your daily practice--then why not boldly take the pen and openly sign your name?

Soon the judgment shall be set, and the books shall be opened--and your criminality and folly shall be published before assembled worlds!

Well, will you sign the above? Why not? Is it true of you--or is it not?
From AW Tozer:

"Has it ever occurred to you that 100 pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So 100 worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become "unity" conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Heading to downtown LA

An awesome night of talking, Q&A, food, and more food!

The greatest part of my week—by far—has been my date night with my beautiful wife, Elizabeth.
Here's a good one by D.A. Carson:

"Worship is the proper response of all moral, sentient beings to God, ascribing all honor and worth to their Creator-God precisely because he is worthy, delightfully so. This side of the Fall, human worship of God properly responds to the redemptive provisions that God has graciously made. While all true worship is God-centered, Christian worship is no less Christ-centered. Empowered by the Spirit and in line with the stipulations of the new covenant, it manifests itself in all our living, finding its impulse in the gospel, which restores our relationship with our Redeemer-God and therefore also with our fellow image-bearers, our co-worshippers. Such worship therefore manifests itself both in adoration and in action, both in the individual believer and in corporate worship, which is worship offered up in the context of the body of believers, who strive to align all the forms of their devout ascription of all worth to God with the panoply of new covenant mandates and examples that bring to fulfillment the glories of antecedent revelation and anticipate the consummation."

Phew. That's excllent.

From D.A. Carson, "Worship under the Word," in Worship by the Book, ed. by D.A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 26.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Martin Bucer prayed in 1537:

"Almighty, gracious Father, forasmuch as our whole salvation depends upon our true understanding of your Holy Word, grant to all of us that our hearts, being freed from worldly affairs, may hear and apprehend your Holy Word with all diligence and faith, that we may rightly understand your gracious will, cherish it, and live by it with all earnestness, to you praise and honor; through our Lord Jesus Christ."

(from Chapell, Christ-Centered Worship, 206).

Let's be reminded that when we read, study, preach, or teach God's Word, we are all in need of the Spirit's grace to understand the meaning of the text & to apply it accurately to our lives.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I preached 1 Peter 3:7 last night and have never had as many men come up to me afterwards and talk. Amazing how God works. And amazing that this is such a dire need in our culture today.

Ever wonder what it means to be a godly man & a godly husband? What does God require of you? The world doesn't have the answers? Our own sinful & corrupt hearts don't have the answers? Men's Magazine doesn't have the answers. But God's Word does have the answers!

Listen to the sermon here.

1 Peter 3:7 — You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Yes that's right. The Scriptures directly connect biblical husbanding to spiritual living. If the husband is not performing his duty in glorifying God by honoring and learning his wife, then according to 1 Peter 3:7 his prayers are "cut off" or "hindered."

1 Peter 3:7 — You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

Tonight I have the privilege to open God's Word again at the Bible Tabernacle and I'm very excited but greatly convicted at the same time to exposit this text.

Here we learn that it is impossible to have a vibrant spiritual life while neglecting one's marital life. We are called to learn our wives (and 'keep learning' them!), to honor our wives, and to follow Christ as we lead our wives so that our prayers are not hindered.

Very sobering; very true; very hard; and very very relevant for marriages today in our culture. I'll post the audio tomorrow.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Exodus 34:6-7:

‏ וַיַּעֲבֹ֨ר יְהוָ֥ה ׀ עַל־פָּנָיו֮ וַיִּקְרָא֒ יְהוָ֣ה ׀ יְהוָ֔ה אֵ֥ל רַח֖וּם וְחַנּ֑וּן אֶ֥רֶךְ אַפַּ֖יִם וְרַב־חֶ֥סֶד וֶאֱמֶֽת
(And the Lord passed by before him and He called out: 'The LORD, the LORD, a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abundant in covenant-love and truth.')

We often see in our New Testaments the phrase "just as it is written" that recalls an OT text that the NT author cites. But let's not forget that the OT writers were just as saturated in the Word as well. Another fascinating study is to see how the OT uses the OT.

I'm preaching on Ps 117 this Sunday and a phrase occurs there that clearly refers back to Ex 34:6-7. A number of important truths can be spoken of regarding this excellent text:

1) The Lord declares His own character in Ex 34:6-7. It is not another telling us about God; these are the words of the LORD about Himself.

2) The Lord is a compassionate God. He is compassionate towards those who are His in a very specific, particular, and fatherly way. Because of the Lord's compassions we are not consumed.

3) The Lord is a gracious God. When we were in a state of misery and utter helplessness, God showed divine grace toward us. Grace is God's lavishing undeserved compassion and mercy upon sinners that deserve just the opposite.

4) The Lord is slow to anger. The phrase (אֶ֥רֶךְ אַפַּ֖יִם) literally reads: "long of nose." He has a high patience-level. God displays His patience towards us daily. We sin, rebel, flaunt our self-sufficiency and pride constantly yet God is slow to anger. He does not treat us as our sins deserve.

5) The Lord is abundant in steadfast, covenant-keeping love. This is more than just "love." This is the covenant-keeping, steadfast, unconditional, unbreakable, unilateral, unrestrained kind of love. God has this love for His people. The amazing thing is that we sin against Him and yet He still is faithful in his love for us.

6) The Lord is abundant in truth. Everything about the Lord is truth. He encapsulates what is true. He Himself is the true God. There is only one true God. And that is the God revealed in the Word of God. Everything that is opposed to what the true word of God reveals about the one true God is opposed to God and therefore false. God is the standard for what is right and true for He is, in Himself, the essence of truth.

Therefore, let's glory in this great, sovereign, and powerful God we worship & serve.

Psalm 117:1-2 sums it up well:
Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples! For His lovingkindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD is everlasting. Praise the LORD!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What I learned from my PhD oral examination.

After being interrogated for 4 hours and 15 minutes, I sat down and reflected on a few lessons God taught me in this process. Here are a few of them:

1. I am not humble.

I went into the exam terrified, afraid, mortified, and scared. Period. But I felt prepared. I had studied for months and been reading the list of required books for years (literally). But I went into the exam feeling as though I could handle myself alright and that I knew the basic gist of many of the issues. But that all changed after I updated them about my ministry plans at the beginning of the examination time! They asked question after question that were hard, difficult, and mind-stretching. After pontificating for a few minutes and they quickly ascertained that a particular issue was a weak spot for me, they would take that issue a step farther and ask a similar question that relates to the previous issue that I struggled my way through. At the end of the four hour examination, I felt as though I was an inch tall—which is one inch too tall! I was humbled, broken, and low.

2. I do not know everything.

I did not go into the exam arrogantly self-exalted thinking that I would master everything. But one truth I learned loud and clear in the time that I spent with my three examiners was that I do not know everything. Not a very new thing to those of you who do know me! But nevertheless, God reminded me, a stubborn and hard-headed guy, that I need to be humble because I do not know everything. Questions they asked—whether it related to Greek grammar, textual criticism, inerrancy, Hebrew grammar, theological interpretation of the Bible, chronology of certain NT letters—embrazened afresh on my mind the reality that I just simply don’t know everything. Therefore, I learned to be humble, seek for God, and study His Word daily and fervently.

3. Godly men know much more than me and I must strive to learn from them.

My examiners are professors for a reason. They know much more than me. At times, they even had to exegete the questions they asked me so that I could understand them. These godly men know the Word, know theology, know grammar, know text criticism and other relevant issues and God reminded me that there are those (many!) that know a great deal more than me and I must strive to learn from them. A PhD is not the end goal of a road of research and study; it merely begins the road of research and the journey of joy in learning about God and His Word.

4. Be willing to say “I don’t know.”

Words that came from my mouth more than once were: “I don’t know.” If I said that after every question they asked that’d be a problem. But there were a few times I just had to suck it up, swallow my pride, and spit out the words: “I just don’t know.” Not only is that humbling—especially on a PhD oral examination, but it reemphasized to me (again—cause I need constant reminders) that I just don’t know it all.

5. When those who love you tell you where your “weak spots” are, be humble enough to write it down, ask questions, and commit to doing further study in those areas in particular.

After the exam, they brought me back into the conference room, I took my seat at my end of the roundtable and then they shared with me four areas that are “weak spots.” I wrote them down and told myself that I will read up, study, and improve in those areas. I had lunch with my mentor and dissertation advisor, Rod Decker, and I asked him to elaborate and help me understand some of those weak spots better. He helpfully explained some of those issues and provided some resources for further study.

6. God is faithful and gives strength in the hardest of times.

I prayed and asked the Lord to give me the grace to endure the preparation—and He did. I begged the Lord to sustain me through the four hours of examination—and He did. I pleaded with the Lord to be merciful to me and allow me to pass—and He did. I committed the day—and the exam—to the Lord as an act of worship asking that He would be glorified in my efforts—and I believe He was. Truly the psalmist penned the words that are on the tip of my lips (and a text that I’m eager to preach this Sunday morning):

גָבַר עָלֵינוּ חַסְדּוֹ וֶאֱמֶת־יְהוָה לְעוֹלָם
“His covenant-love is great toward us; and the truth of the LORD is everlasting”
—Psalm 117:2

October 4, 2011
pdf here.

Monday, October 3, 2011

"Canonicity is determined by God. A book is not inspired because men make it canonical; it is canonical because God inspired it. ... Canonicity is determined or established authoritatively by God; it is merely discovered by man."

—Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, revised and expanded edition (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1986), 221.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Please intercede in prayer for me as I undergo my oral examination this week for my PhD program. I have four hours of question and answer with three professors. Pray that God would bring the things to mind that I've studied these last months.

Thanks so much praying for me!
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