David fell in 2 Samuel 11. He saw that Bathsheba was “very beautiful,” and he followed his lusts down the slope to adultery—and then even to having her husband killed.
But by 1 Kings 1, David is able to be attended to by Abishag the Shunammite, who the text also says was “very beautiful,” and yet “the king knew her not” (verse 4).
Maybe aging was a factor, but my guess is that there’s much more going on here than merely getting old. Such a change sure seems like God’s purifying hand in some regard—if not mostly. It’s a real-life example of victory.
There’s no need to be captive for the rest of your life, if God would so move. Be hopeful and lean on him for help.
My father was the happiest man I have ever known. Not that he never grumbled (he was a golfer who lost a lot of balls). But he was rooted so firmly in the glory of God’s grace that nothing could keep him down for long.
He loved the promises of God. I just heard him say yesterday on an old recording, quoting William Carey, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.”
He really believed Romans 8:28. He prayed it and sang it and preached and lived in the joy of it.
And he led people to Christ in droves. Under God’s promises, he would have said this was the key to his joy. I asked him one time: What’s the key to joy. He answered without hesitation: Soul winning.
In this year of John Calvin’s 500th birthday, I don’t know of a better place to read about his impact on America than Abraham Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism given at Princeton Seminary in October 1898. Kuyper was a pastor, a journalist, the founder of the Free University of Amsterdam, and Prime Minister of the Netherlands.
John Calvin and Martin Luther were the twin pillars of the Protestant Reformation. Why do fewer people speak of Luther’s culture-shaping impact on America, but for centuries Calvin has been seen in this light? Kuyper argues,
Luther’s starting–point was the . . . principle of justifying faith; while Calvin’s . . . lay in the general cosmological principle…
Most of us realize that enjoying anything other than God, from the best gift to the basest pleasure, can become idolatry. Paul says in Colossians 3:5, “Covetousness is idolatry.”
“Covetousness” means desiring something other than God in the wrong way. But what does that mean—“in the wrong way”?
The reason this matters is both vertical and horizontal. Idolatry will destroy our relationship with God. And it will destroy our relationships with people...
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Laziness is not the alternative to living in your own strength. Paul talks about being strong in the strength of another.
- Ephesians 6:10: “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
- Colossians 1:29: “I toil [to present everyone mature in Christ], struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”
- 2 Timothy 2:1: “Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
- 1 Corinthians 15:10: “By the grace of God I am what I am.... I worked harder than any of [the other apostles], though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
- Romans 15:18: “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.”
Born today 116 years ago, Dorothy Leigh Sayers was an English scholar, playwright, and writer of detective novels. She studied medieval literature at Oxford, and was one of the first women to graduate (in 1915) from that university.
She may be best known for the detective novels featuring Lord Peter Wimsey. Her translation of Dante's The Divine Comedy is considered unmatched in quality and readability.
My wife is the expert on her fiction. I never read any. But in February, 1968 I read The Mind of the Maker, and felt the holy fires of being a verbal creator with a small c in the image of God the Maker.
Just as good was the collection of essays, Creed or Chaos? In particular …
I have unanswered questions about how to navigate the new world of media-driven celebrity attention to pastors. As Advance09 started in Durham, North Carolina, the News & Observer ran the headline “Celebrity Pastors Visit for Conference.” One might wish they had printed: “Imperfect, Passionate Pastors Come to Serve.” But that’s not news.
When I say media-driven attention, I am not mainly thinking about radio, TV, and newspapers. They are almost irrelevant. I mean Internet media. Most churches have websites. Sermons and articles and books are available...
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God gave him a message, and so he went around delivering it. “The word of God came to John”—we call him John the Baptist—and “he went into all the region around the Jordan [River], proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:2-3).
It seems John became popular pretty fast, but he wasn’t doing seeker-friendly.
He said...to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance." (Luke 3:7-8)
What did John do with his newfound platform? Two things:
- He called for repentance (vv. 3, 7).
- He pointed to Jesus—“He who is mightier than I …
I have tried to deal faithfully with curses in the Psalms, for example, in a sermon on Psalm 69.
Psalm 83, however, presents a different challenge. At the end there is a strange mixture of supplication and imprecation:
Fill their faces with shame,
that they may seek your name, O Lord.
Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever;
let them perish in disgrace,
that they may know that you alone,
whose name is the Lord,
are the Most High over all the earth.
Imprecation: The word “forever” in verse 17 is a prayer for utter and eternal defeat: “Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever.”
Supplication: But the …
When I came home from running errands yesterday, I found a florist’s delivery on my back porch—rich, red long-stemmed roses. The gift card had no words, only numbers: 6-6-66.
Yesterday, 6-6-09, was the 43rd anniversary of the day I met Johnny Piper in the lounge of Fischer Hall at Wheaton College. God has brought us a long way since then.
When I got the flowers, Johnny was in Raleigh. Remembering the many times he’s told a favorite what-if story, I texted him: “Oh Johnny, they’re beautiful! Why did you?”
He responded: “It’s my duty”—which, of course, is a joke that always gets a laugh. (You can scroll to the bottom of this message to see the story I'm talking about.)