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Disobedience: An Acceptance of Athiesm

Disobedience always involves the acceptance of atheism, whether so stated in words or merely acted on in life (there is no significant difference between denying God's existence and acting as if God does not exist)
Frame, J. M.
The doctrine of the knowledge of God
p. 59

Plan to Pray (Quote: D.A. Carson)

Much praying is not done because we do not plan to pray. We do not drift into spiritual life; we do not drift into disciplined prayer. We will not grow in prayer unless we plan to pray. That means we must self-consciously set aside time to do nothing but pray.
What we actually do reflects our highest priorities...

It is better to pray often with brevity than rarely but at length. But the worst option is simply not to pray—and that will be the controlling pattern unless we plan to pray.

Carson, D. A.
A call to spiritual reformation : Priorities from Paul and his prayers
p. 20

Keywords: pray,prayer

The One Thing We Need Most Urgently (Quote: DA Carson)

The one thing we most urgently need in Western Christendom is a deeper knowledge of God. We need to know God better.

When it comes to knowing God, we are a culture of the spiritually stunted. So much of our religion is packaged to address our felt needs-and these are almost uniformly anchored in our pursuit of our own happiness and fulfillment. God simply becomes the Great Being who, potentially at least, meets our needs and fulfills our aspirations. We think rather little of what he is like, what he expects of us, what he seeks in us. We are not captured by his holiness and his love; his thoughts and words capture too little of our imagination, too little of our discourse, too few of our priorities.

In the biblical view of things, a deeper knowledge of God brings with it massive improvement in the other areas mentioned: purity, integrity, evangelistic effectiveness, better study of Scripture, improved private and corporate worship, and much more. But if we seek these things without passionately desiring a deeper knowledge of God, we are selfishly running after God's blessings without running after him. We are even worse than the man who wants his wife's services-someone to come home to, someone to cook and clean, someone to sleep with-without ever making the effort really to know and love his wife and discover what she wants and needs; we are worse than such a man, I say, because God is more than any wife, more than the best of wives: he is perfect in his love, he has made us for himself, and we are answerable to him.
Carson, D. A.
A call to spiritual reformation : Priorities from Paul and his prayers
p. 15

The Gospel and the Room of My Life

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (Col 2:13-15)...
 
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files.
They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.
And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.
A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their contents. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed."
The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird: "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in Anger," "Things I Have Muttered under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes there were fewer than I hoped.
I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my twenty years to write each of these thousands, possibly millions, of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.
When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.
When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed contents. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.
Suddenly I felt an almost animal rage. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took the file at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.
Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.
And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.
But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please, not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.
I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?
Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands, and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.
Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.
"No!" I shouted, rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.
He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and continued to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."
I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

Joshua Harris
I kissed dating goodbye (amazon)
p. 104

Preterm Labor & Free Together for the Gospel Tickets for Two

God answered our prayers for a baby 6 years into our marriage. What was obvious to us from the start was that this baby (as with all good things, c.f. James 1:17) was a gift from God in his perfect timing, in his perfect way, for our good and for his glory. From the first day we knew that Kiki was pregnant our prayer was

that whatever happens, God would be glorified as our faith is tested.

God was gracious to remind us of that when Kiki went to the emergency room with what was diagnosed as a threatened miscarriage. God's spirit guarded our hearts and our minds with His peace (Phil 4:6-7) as we called to mind God's steadfast love and endless mercies (Lam 3:21-23). 

It turns out that God's little testing through this pregnancy was not over when on Wednesday night Kiki found herself back in the hospital 3 cm dilated, 70% effaced and in preterm labor (at 32 weeks gestation). Once again, God graciously guarded our hearts and our minds in the truth that this was from him and in his perfect timing. Just as we wrote during the threatened miscarriage we prayed in the hospital over the last few days:

We trust and love God - not because we have given Him what we asked for but - because He first loved us, and we trust that if He would sacrifice Himself on the cross for our sins, all things are for our good, whether birth or miscarriage, life or death.

And praise God! Although the contractions have continued, Kiki was sent home this afternoon on strict bedrest and terbutaline (to keep the contractions to a minimum). Our prayer now is that God would keep Elianna healthy, would keep her safe inside of Kiki for at least a couple of more weeks, and - please O Lord - that he would give her saving faith.  And most of all, regardless of what happens with those first three requests, would be glorified through what happens and through our hearts in the midst of it.

God has answered so many prayers to get us to this point - so many prayers that he was not obligated to answer affirmatively and would have been good and still loving had he not answered them the way that we asked. We are truly overwhelmed by this gift, the answer to prayer that we are going to name her Elianna Joel: My God Answers, YHWH is God. 

So please pray with us for our precious little daughter, that she would be healthy, be born, and then born again. Pray with us that in the midst of all of this we would see and trust God's sovereign hand and purposes in all of it.

 One large disappointment that we trust is for our good and ultimately God's glory is that because Kiki is on bedrest and could deliver at any time, we cannot go to the Together for the Gospel conference we have been looking forward to for almost two years. But our "loss" is your gain.

If you would be able to attend, April 15-17, in Louisville, KY; if you can provide your own transportation and room, then you can have both my ticket and my wife's. First come, first served. Please leave a comment or send an email

soli Deo gloria.

Review: Worship Matters (5/5 stars)

Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God is a book written primarily for those who lead music within a church setting. The goal of the book is to give guiding prinicples and practical advice to help the music leader see the essence of what their ministry is about and do that within whatever church context they find themselves. It is available from Westminter Bookstore and Amazon.

For the worship leader: This book is a must read. I can think of no circumstance a worship leader may find himself in which he should not read this book. It is the best on the topic of which I am aware, combining into one well written, heart-shepherding book all of the good things that before you would have had to read a dozen separate books to find. The book is both practical and theological, realistic and idealistic. It is God-centered, God-exalting and man-minimizing, while realizing that man must play a role. I have only rarely seen a book that so skillfully and thoughtfully combines rich doctrine and practical advice.

For the band member: Must read. The book is not only about how to lead those who perform, but about what the goal of the music portion of the worship service must be. The book will help you evaluate and redirect your heart in what you may have grown comfortable with. Maybe you

For the pastor/elder: Must read. Know how to encourage, direct, and come alongside your worship leader. I would recommend that the worship leader, band, and pastor(s) read this book together. The book so accurately describes the Biblical vision for worship that all who are involved in how a Sunday service, smallgroup gathering, or other meeting unfold should do so in light of the thoughtful, biblically informed direction Bob Kauflin lays out. There is even a chapter specifically for non-music-oriented pastors.

For the church member: Should read. I do not lead worship; I can't even sing on pitch, but what I was gained from the book made an immediate and palpable difference in the entirety of my worship (singing, participating in the Lord's Supper, listening to the sermon, and interacting with others) on Sunday. There are certainly other books that can benefit you in this regard, but this book is certainly one that can benefit all members of the body of Christ. Wayne Grudem recommends the book with the following words, "Worship Matters is an outstanding book borth for those who lead worship and also for every Christian who wants to worship God more fully. The book is biblical, practical, interesting, wise and thorough in its treatment of the topic."

The 260 pages of Worship Matters is laid out in a very convenient manner: Each of the 32 chapters are generally 4-7 pages in length, focus on a single topic, and can easily be read in a single sitting, even for slow readers. It reads much like a devotional and could easily be read in one month using only 10-15 minutes per day.

The book is broken into four parts:

Part 1: The Leader - Focusing on what kind of man the worship leader must be, touching on the heart, mind (doctrine), hands (practice & skill), and life.

Part 2: The Task. Each chapter takes a phrase from Kauflin's definition of a worship leader to define his task:

A faithful worship leader
magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ
through the power of the Holy Spirit
by skillfully combining God's Word with music,
thereby motivating the gathered church
to proclaim the gospel,

to cherish God's presence
and to live for God's glory.

Part 3: Healthy Tensions - Bob identifies that many of the debates that surround music in churches tend to polarize people and points out that as a response to incorrect emphasis placed on one aspect of worship, that aspect may be neglected and too much weight given to the other extreme. We should rather see the wisdom in each of the two poles and using Scripture as a guide find ourselves in a healthy tension between them not as a response. The poles discussed, each in a chapter are:

  • God's transendence and immanence
  • Head and Head
  • Internal and External
  • Vertical and Horizontal
  • Planned and Spontaneous
  • Rooted and Relevant
  • Skilled and Authentic
  • For the Church and For Unbelievers
  • Event and Everyday

Part 4: Right Relationships - Lays out some biblical guidelines and practical advice for how the various groups of people and the worship leader can interact in the most edifying, God-glorifying way possible. Groups addressed are people in general, the church, the worship team, and the pastor. The book finishes with a chapter written specifically for the pastor(s) of the church.

I cannot sum up my thoughts any better than D.A. Carson did in his endorsement: "Here is a rare book: a practical treatment of corporate worship that nevertheless reflects deep theological commitments. One may disagree here and there with some of the judgments, but it is demonstrably unfair to imagine that Bob Kauflin has not through about these matters deeply." Bob's life and ministry at sovereign grace have demonstrated that he is a worship leader and pastor from whom we want to learn. C.J. Mahaney writes, "I know of no man more qualified to write this book than Bob. And I know of no more important, useful work for those who would lead God's people than Worship Matters." I agree.

Bob Kauflin blogs regularly at worshipmatters.com. Worship God Live and other Sovereign Grace Music cds are great examples of the music he writes and leads at Covenant Life Church. The author will be hosting a conference called WorshipGod08 July 30-August 2, 2008.

Keywords: kauflin,music,worship

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