May 2007


I am at the Banner of Truth Conference this week. Enjoy the time I am away.

Acquaint yourself with Christ. Let the exercise of this communion be your daily task when you are alone, when you are in company, and when you are engaged in your profession. May Jesus always have your ear, and may there always be a view upon Him (II: 96).

Many people who have professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ have fallen away. The truth is, some people do not cultivate their hearts and attend the means of grace as they ought. Personal devotions slip, family worship is set aside, the Sabbath becomes less and less important, a sermon here and there will do, fellowship with believers becomes less important- the cares of the world choke out the seed that has been planted. The Lord Jesus said in Mark 13:13b “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

I have been a Christian for 11 years. I have seen this happen time and again. What a terrible thing to walk away from the Lord Jesus and to let your love for him grow cold.

“Neither place, parts, nay, nor graces, will exempt any man from falling. O believers, what need is there to be watchful and humble!” -JAMES DURHAM

Reflect for a moment upon former days. Consider your previous convictions, sensitivity, earnestness, tears, supplications, looking unto and receiving of the Lord Jesus, sorrow over sin, sweet enjoyment of the Word of God, tender walk before the Lord–and perhaps also peace, joy, and assurance. You know indeed that you have enjoyed all these things prior to this, and you know furthermore that all God’s callings and gifts are without repentance….

Even if your inner motions are presently sluggish, lethargic, and barren, are they nevertheless not there?–namely, displeasure about your condition, and a desire to be lively in all spiritual exercises, and for the benefits of the covenant of grace? Are you not sensitive to your insensitivity–not primarily because you fear judgment, but because you are so barren and dead in spiritual things? Is not your deadness your greatest burden? What is able to comfort your soul: something temporal or is it only God in Christ? Wherever there is feeling there is life. Since you are therefore sensitive to your spiritual deadness, is not this then an indication that you have life? We are not examining you as to how strong and lively all this is, but rather as to the genuineness of it all.

Are you entirely void of the activities and exercises of godliness, or are there yet sighs, prayers, and a fleeing to Jesus for reconciliation and power to be invigorated again? [IV: 273].

Rev. Dr. George Scipione taught a class this week on advanced issues in biblical counseling. The class was both challenging and edifying. We discussed counseling cases from the typical (pre-marriage, anger, depression) to the very challenging (trans-gender, incest, schizophrenia). At Puritan we are trained to be nouthetic counselors so that the Word of God will be the counselor in all issues of life.

I am looking forward to the class assignments. We were given a number of cases to work through from a biblical perspective, a few great books to read (such as Insight and Creativity in Christian Counseling by Jay Adams), and a topic paper. Since I work at a Christian mental health hospital with teens, I chose ‘cutting’ as my topic. This is an epidemic that needs to be addressed to our teens in the Church.

There are many hurting sheep in the Church and I am thankful that, by God’s grace, I a little more qualified to work through some of these issues from the Scriptures.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about how to hear preaching, and what our attitude should be towards it. There was the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology that met last month in Grand Rapids and they discussed listening to ministers that are less than good. AS Reformed Christians we receive preaching as Christ’s Word to His people. Is that our attitude? I would like to share a thought from J.I. Packer as well as the Westminster Larger Catechism on ‘hearing the Word”:

We complain today that ministers do not know how to preach; but is it not equally true that our congregations do not know how to hear? -J.I. Packer
Q160: What is required of those that hear the word preached?
A160: It is required of those that hear the word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation, and prayer; examine: What they hear by the scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love,meekness, and readiness of mind, as the word of God; meditate, and confer of it; hide it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives.

I have heard many complaints from believers that they are unsatisfied with the level of spirituality and commitment to Biblical Christianity that they see around them. Often it is these people who refuse to pick up books and find sweet fellowship within dusty old pages. Many times a good biography of a godly man or woman (Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Mary Winslow) will water us in ways that is unimaginable.

When dialogue with Christians around you seems to be carnal and unedifying, you can always read a good ‘practical’ Christianity book. The Puritans were masters at ethics and Christian living. Many Christians have found sweet fellowship with Thomas Boston, John Owen, or Thomas Manton because of their level of spiritual maturity.

When your preacher is dry and boring, or when his exegesis is poor, there are many sermon books that will delight your soul! Be encouraged, rebuked, and challenged by the preachers who were giants preaching to giants.

In those times when all around you seems to be dark, books are a blessing to a hungry believer. The Apostle Paul was alone and in prison at the end of his life. Many of the Christians that had been around him for most of his ministry had abandoned him. What does he ask for? II Timothy 4:13 says, “when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” Paul sought fellowship in the Scriptures (parchments) and his books.
In my library I have profitably dwelt among the shining lights, with which the learned, wise, and holy men of all ages have illuminated the world. -Richard Baxter

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