Tech Break: Brain Wave for iPhone and iPad

I have always had trouble falling asleep. When I lay down, my mind keeps working overtime and it is very difficult for me to settle in. My wife likes to sit in bed and watch TV in order to fall asleep so we got one of those sets of wireless headphones so that she can listen without the sound disturbing me. The flashing of the TV in the darkened room still persists though and makes it even harder for me to get asleep. Until just recently, that is.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Grace

There is a sense in which the doctrine of justification by faith only is a very dangerous doctrine; dangerous, I mean, in the sense that it can be misunderstood. It exposes a man to this particular charge. People listening to it may say, “Ah, there is a man who does not encourage us to live a good life, he seems to say that there is no value in our works, he says that ‘all our righteousness are as filthy rags.’ Therefore what he is saying is that it does not matter what you do, sin as much as you like.” . . . There is thus clearly a sense in which the message of “justification by faith only” can be dangerous, and likewise with the message that salvation is entirely of grace. . . . I say therefore that if our preaching does not expose us to that charge and to that misunderstanding, it is because we are not really preaching the gospel.

Nobody has ever brought this charge against the Church of Rome, but it was brought frequently against Martin Luther; indeed that was precisely what the Church of Rome said about the preaching of Martin Luther. They said,”This man who was a priest has changed the doctrine in order to justify his own marriage and his own lust”, . . . and so on.”This man”, they said, “is an antinomian; and that is heresy.”That is the very charge they brought against him. It was also brought against George Whitefield two hundred years ago. It is the charge that formal dead Christianity — if there is such a thing — has always brought against this startling, staggering message, that God “justifies the ungodly”, and that we are saved, not by anything we do, but in spite of it, entirely and only by the grace of God through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

That is my comment; and it is a very important comment for preachers. I would say to all preachers: If your preaching of salvation has not been misunderstood in that way, then you had better examine your sermons again, and you had better make sure that you really are preaching the salvation that is offered in the New Testament to the ungodly, to the sinner, to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, to those who are enemies of God. There is this kind of dangerous element about the true presentation of the doctrine of salvation.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones in a sermon on Romans 6

Question: Martin Luther said, “we must offend these legalists boldly”.  Are you offensive to legalists? Does your church preach grace , but live works? Do you know someone who could use some grace in their life right now? What can you do to make grace known to others?

Out of Control

Last week as we eased back into work after significant time off from it over the Christmas holidays, one of my peers said “Gee, if the last few days back have been any indication of what lies ahead this year, we are all doomed to exhaustion”.

And it is true the first two weeks back in the office have been breathtaking (as in sucking the life out of you). I’ve had meeting after meeting, goals established that look to be impossible, financial targets that are significant, and I’ve once again come to realize just how much of my life is outside my control. And not just at work.

It’s been said that most of our stress comes from the failure to recognize the difference between a problem and a fact. Problems you can work, facts are just facts and no amount of consternation will change a fact. The stress comes from trying to change facts rather than working problems.

That may be true, but my problems (not just the facts) are utterly overwhelming and sometimes just thinking about working on my problems and challenges wears me out.

Do you feel like it’s all out of your control like I do? Do you try to control it all?

It’s hard for us to admit we are out of control. And yet I believe that is exactly where God wants us. He places us in situations that obliterate our ability to control outcomes. Why? So that we can learn to rest in the fact that He does control outcomes and He “works all things for our good” (Romans 8:28).

It is hard for God to work all things for our good when we want to work things for our good ourselves.

Working things for our good ourselves is foolish in a couple ways:

1. How do we know what is “for our good”? We are not omniscient like God is – what makes us think we can do a better job than He can? It’s the height of arrogance.

2. It is the utmost in idolatry to try to control what only God can. You’d think we believed we were God by the way we act sometimes!

Let me tell you something that I don’t want you to forget when you feel out of control, overwhelmed, and exhausted:

It is a huge relief not to have to be God.

So, let God be God, be faithful as you can where He’s called you, and then go out and get a milkshake. It will be alright. He’s promised. And He never breaks His promises.

Question: What are you trying desperately to control and as a result feeling anxious and confused and helpless? What will you do with this opportunity to relinquish control?

Made a Mess of Things?

“Those who believe that God has a plan for them sometimes encounter another problem – the conviction that they have lost God’s best plan for them. They believe that they have missed or fallen off the plan, or that something has happened to destroy it. We know the feeling. Somewhere along the line, we zigged when we should have zagged, and now we’re hopelessly stuck with plan B. It only takes a foolish youthful decision, a missed opportunity, the interference of someone else in our lives, or our sinfulness, and plan A is gone forever.

But if God is sovereign, then plan B is a myth. No matter how dark things look to us, or how big the mess we’re in, we’re in plan A. God’s plan for us is intact, proceeding exactly as He intended, neither behind nor ahead but right on schedule. Nothing – not our sins, failures, disappointments, bad decisions, nor the sins of others against us – can deter a sovereign God from accomplishing His purposes.”

Carolyn James – When Life and Beliefs Collide