Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Morning Prayer



Last Lord's Day at DPC we looked at Psalm 4, which is an evening "now I lay me down to sleep" prayer.

This coming Lord's Day we'll be looking at Psalm 5, which is a morning prayer:  "O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch." (Psalm 5.3)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote this about morning prayer:
“The entire day receives order and discipline when it acquires unity.  This unity must be sought and found in morning prayer.  It is confirmed in work.  The morning prayer determines the day!  Squandered time of which we are ashamed, temptations to which we succumb, weaknesses and lack of courage in work, disorganization and lack of discipline in our thoughts and in our conversation with other men all have their origin most often in the neglect of morning prayer.”
Speaking for myself... I think Bonhoeffer nailed it.  Morning prayer isn't a legalistic prerequisite for feeling loved by God.  But it is beginning the day with Christ... and that matters for the rest of the day.

If your heart is like mine (and it is), it daily & desperately needs to be renewed in the steadfast love of God -- which, as the promise goes, is "new every morning" (Lamentations 3.23).

Some other helpful comments Bonhoeffer made about the morning:
"For Christians the beginning of the day should not be burdened and oppressed with besetting concerns for the day's work.  At the threshold of the new day stands the Lord who made it.  All the darkness and distraction of the dreams of night retreat before the clear light of Jesus Christ and his wakening Word.  All unrest, all impurity, all care and anxiety flee before him.  Therefore, at the beginning of the day let all distraction and empty talk be silenced and let the first thought and the first word belong to him to whom our whole life belongs.  'Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light' (Eph. 5.14)."
"With remarkable frequency the Scriptures remind us that the men of God rose early to seek God and carry out His commands, as did Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Joshua (cf. Gen.19.27, 22.3; Ex.9.13, 24.4; Josh.3.1, 6.12, etc.).  The Gospel, which never speaks a superfluous word, says of Jesus himself: "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitaryplace, and there prayed" (Mark 1.35).  Some rise early because of restlessness and worry; the Scriptures call this unprofitable: "It is vain for you to rise early... to eat the bread of sorrows" (Ps.127.2).  But there is such a thing as rising early for the love of God.  This was the practice of the men of the Bible."


Monday, April 28, 2014

A Brief Theology of Sleep, by John Piper




After yesterday's sermon -- in which we considered King David's evening prayer in Psalm 4 -- someone in the church family pointed me to a beautiful little piece by John Piper, dealing with the same themes:  "A Brief Theology of Sleep."

The middle paragraph (of five) says this:

Why did God imagine sleep? He never sleeps! He thought the idea up out of nothing. He thought it up for his earthly creatures. Why! Psalm 127:2 says, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved in his sleep.” According to this text sleep is a gift of love, and the gift is often spurned by anxious toil. Peaceful sleep is the opposite of anxiety. God does not want his children to be anxious, but to trust him. Therefore I conclude that God made sleep as a continual reminder that we should not be anxious but should rest in him.

I commend the whole little piece to you, which can be found HERE.




Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Resurrection Truth & You... much more than eggs...



The day on which you will be most thankful for Easter Resurrection Truth will be that day on which your heart stops beating.  Seeing as how you don't expect that day to be today, you're most likely already tempted to stop reading this.

But God wants to us to be firm in these truths now, that we might be not be overcome with terror then.

Psalm 49, which is all about death & how God's people respond to it, says this:  "God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol [the Grave, Death personified], for he will receive me."

John Calvin, commenting on that verse, wrote this:
We have here a convincing proof of that faith in which the saints under the Law lived and died.  It is evident that their views were directed to another and a higher life, to which the present life was only preparatory.  The promises of the Law were spiritual, and our fathers who embraced them were willing to confess themselves pilgrims upon earth, and sought an inheritance in heaven.  The despairing fears which so many entertain when descending to the grave spring from the fact of their not commending their spirit to the preserving care of God.  They do not consider it in the light of a precious deposit which will be safe in his protecting hands.  Let our faith be established in the great truth, that our soul, though it appears to vanish upon its separation from the body, is in reality only gathered to the bosom of God, there to be kept until the day of resurrection.

Remember the Great Conqueror's strong words in Revelation 1.18:  "I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades."

Think about what that means.  Keys indicate authority.  Jesus owns death.  He has all power over death.  He tells death what to do, and death must listen to and obey him.  Jesus once submitted to death, and then defeated it.  And ever since that day, he calls all the shots.

He is Risen.  Alleluia.  







Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Willing He To Suffering Goes


DPC GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE
6:00 pm, April 18


My song is love unknown, my Savior's love to me,
love to the loveless shown, that they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake my Lord should take frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne, salvation to bestow;
but men cared not, and none the longed-for Christ would know.
But oh, my Friend, my Friend indeed, who at my need His life did spend!

Sometimes they strew His way, and His sweet praises sing;
resounding all the day hosannas to their King.
Then "Crucify!" is all their breath, and for His death they thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done? What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run, He gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries! Yet all His deeds their hatred feeds; they ’gainst Him rise.

They rise, and needs will have my dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save, the Prince of Life they slay.
Yet willing He to suff'ring goes, that He His foes from thence might free.

In life, no house, no home my Lord on earth might have;
in death, no friendly tomb but what a stranger gave.
What may I say? Heav'n was His home, but mine the tomb wherein He lay.

Here might I stay and sing, no story so divine;
never was love, dear King, never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise I all my days could gladly spend.

Samuel Crossman
Alt.1990



Monday, April 14, 2014

Where We're Headed... not your grandparents' USA



A good reality check from DPC member & missionary & very insightful child of grace, Sean DeMars...


To my brothers and sisters in the states: Please know and realize that you are at a very crucial point-in-time in the life of the american church. The Pendulum was released decades ago, and is finally at the point of passing momentum. What this means for you all is for God to know, and for you and your children to find out. We can say, though, that all evidence is pointing to a country where you are going to have to really deal with the fact that you’re all exiles. 
Of course (how dare I?!?) you already knew that. If you didn’t, though, you will soon. Your children are going to grow up in an America where the ruling sentiments and moral majority will be vastly and violently opposed to your own, and that’s going to be new for all of us. It won’t be neutral, though. It will be a war, and you and your children will be the ones “they” seek to conquer. Or, maybe it would be better to say that “the faith once and for all delivered to the saints” will be the object of their wrath, and if you’re holding tight to that faith, you WILL be caught in the colateral damage. Shrapnel to the face and neck.
Compromise will continue to deepen. Degradation will be public. Fear mongering and peer pressuring will move the faith to a place where one will have to decide whom they serve on a daily basis. You and yours will come to understand the struggles of our brothers and sisters in oppressed countries in a way that you only thought you had before.  
Am I being dramatic? I don’t think so. I feel pretty level headed. I can look at the sky and see when the rain is about to fall. Our master taught us to look at the sky (Matt 16:1-3), did he not? I’m not saying this will be all bad, either. It won’t. Funny thing is, the faith really seems to flourish under oppression, and seems to shrivel and whither in the wide open air of complete freedom. 
So why even mention this? Preparation. Some of you may know that Amber and I lost our first baby. It was a miscarriage and it was a very tough time for us. Thankfully, we had been thinking and studying through the depths of the sovereignty of God in our suffering, and how it all works for our good and His glory, (for scripture ref. please see: the entire Bible.) When the tragedy hit, and theory became reality, we weren’t blindsided. 
The punch that hurts the worst is the one you don’t see coming. Brothers in Christ, if you don’t see this punch coming it’s because you don’t want to see it. Things are changing, and we’re on the losing end. But that’s the thing, isn’t it? We’re never, ever, ever on the losing end, are we? If we suffer, we share in Christ’s sufferings. If we die, we get to be with Christ forever. If we get put in jail, we get to proclaim the good news to the captives, and if nothing happens…well, it’s probably best not to speculate. 



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sustaining the Covenant of Marital Love

John Piper... D.A. Carson... Tim Keller... talking about the heart of Christian marriage.

It's worth every second of your next 5 minutes & 18 seconds.

Click HERE.



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Update: DeMars

If it's been a while since you've caught up with the DeMars (DPC members & missionaries to Peru), please take a moment & read... & pray...






Thorough Update


Hey everyone, it’s that time again: Another update from the most mediocre missionaries you know.

So, here’s the deal. After leaving Lima a little over a month ago, we got to Yurimaguas and immediately got to the business of getting set up in our new home, (rented) and establishing our rhythm in the family, church, and ministry spheres.

We also bought a motorcycle which I, (Sean) learned how to drive in about a day, and which Amber will be learning to drive very soon. Unfortunately, it’s hard for me to look cool on my motorcycle because everyone here, (literally…men, women, and children) ride motorcycles. I still try, though. How can I not? I like to rev the engine up at stoplights and wink at whatever little child that may be beholding me in all of my glory. Seriously, though, the moto has been a huge blessing to us and will -over the long run- save us a lot of money in transportation costs.

Physically:

None of us are sick; praise the Lord! We haven’t really had any serious sicknesses among us for a couple of months. If y’all remember the first year and all the issues I (Sean) had, then you know how much of a blessing it is to be feeling good.

Mentally & Emotionally:

We’re doing good. Our last month in Lima was a bit rocky with a bunch of emotional ups and downs, but to be home, settled, and really in a good place in all spheres of our life is definitely keeping us all on an even keel.

Spiritually:

Amber and I are doing a good job of staying in the scriptures, could be doing better with prayer, and are resting on the top of a mountain of evidences that the grace of God is with us. Obviously, in theory, our peace should be with us whether or not we are feeling or seeing such evidences, but in real life, that isn’t always the case, so we are certainly thankful to be reminded in concrete ways that the Lord is with us.

Ministry: 

I (Sean) am reading through 9 Marks of a Healthy Church with the local pastor, Otoniel, for whom you all can certainly be praying as the Lord leads. I’m also teaching through the book of Ephesians and several chapters of the book of Luke. Additionally, I’m beginning to do some additional teaching on the side with some Shawi (a people group in the jungles of Northern Peru) pastors.

Financially:

The baby was a big hit, and the house set up and motorcycle hit us too, but due to the faithfulness of a small group of saints (yes, I know I’m repeating myself,) we’re still here, and we have no plans of leaving anytime soon…Lord willing.