Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year Thoughts From Dietrich

by Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
(written in the Gestapo prison, Berlin)

New Year 1945

With every power for good to stay and guide me,
comforted and inspired beyond all fear,
I'll live these days with you in thought beside me,
and pass, with you, into the coming year.

The old year still torments our hearts, unhastening:
the long days of our sorrow still endure.
Father, grant to the soul Thou hast been chastening
that Thou hast promised the healing and the cure.

Should it be ours to drain the cup of grieving
even to the dregs of pain, at Thy command,
we will not falter, thankfully receiving
all that is given by Thy loving hand.

But, should it be Thy will once more to release us
to life's enjoyment and its good sunshine,
that we've learned from sorrow shall increase us
and all our life be dedicate as Thine.

Today, let candles shed their radiant greeting:
lo, on our darkness are they not Thy light,
leading us haply to our longed-for meeting?
Thou canst illumine e'en our darkest night.

When now the silence deepens for our harkening,
grant we may hear Thy children's voices raise
from all the unseen world around us darkening
their universal paean, in Thy praise.

While all the powers of good aid and attend us,
boldly we'll face the future, be it what may.
At even, and at morn, God will befriend us,
and oh, most surely on each new year's day.


Monday, December 29, 2008

The Shy Virtue of Christmas

By John Piper December 17, 2008

My favorite Christmas text puts humility at the heart of Christmas. So this Christmas I am marveling at Jesus’ humility and wanting more of it myself. I’ll quote the text in a moment.

But first there are two problems. Tim Keller helps us to see one of them in a recent article in Christianity Today. He reminds us, “Humility is so shy. If you begin talking about it, it leaves” (Dec. 2008, p. 51). So an article about humility (like this one, or like his) is self-defeating, it seems. But even shy people peek out sometimes if they are treated well.

The other problem is that Jesus wasn’t humble for the same reasons we are (or should be). So how can looking at Jesus’ Christmas humility help us? Our humility, if there is any at all, is based on our finiteness, our fallibility, and our sinfulness. But the eternal Son of God was not finite. He was not fallible. And he was not sinful. So, unlike our humility, Jesus’ humility originated some other way.

Here’s my favorite Christmas text. Look for Jesus’ humility.

Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

What defines Jesus’ humility is the fact that it is mainly a conscious act of putting himself in a lowly, servant role for the good to others. His humility is defined by phrases like

  • “he emptied himself [of his divine rights to be free from abuse and suffering]”
  • “he took the form of a servant”
  • “he became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”

So Jesus’ humility was not a heart disposition of being finite or fallible or sinful. It was a heart of infinite perfection and infallible truthfulness and freedom from all sin, which for that very reason did not need to be served. He was free and full to overflow in serving.

Another Christmas text that says this would be Mark 10:45: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus’ humility was not a sense of defect in himself, but a sense of fullness in himself put at the disposal of others for their good. It was a voluntary lowering of himself to make the height of his glory available for sinners to enjoy.

Jesus makes the connection between his Christmas lowliness and the good news for us: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

His lowliness makes our relief from burdens possible. If he were not lowly, he would not have been “obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” And if he had not been obedient to die for us, we would be crushed under the weight of our sins. He lowers himself to take our condemnation (Romans 8:3).

Now we have more reason to be humble than before. We are finite, fallible, sinful, and therefore have no ground for boasting at all. But now we see other humbling things: Our salvation is not owing to our work, but his grace. So boasting is excluded (Ephesians 2:8-9). And the way he accomplished that gracious salvation was through voluntary, conscious self-lowering in servant-like obedience to the point of death.

So in addition to finiteness, fallibility, and sinfulness, we now have two other huge impulses at work to humble us: free and undeserved grace underneath all our blessings and a model of self-denying, sacrificial, servanthood that willingly takes the form of a servant.

So we are called to join Jesus in this conscious self-humbling and servanthood. “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus . . . .” (Philippians 2:5).

Lord, I pray that this “shy virtue”—this massive ground of our salvation and our servanthood—would peek out from her quiet place and grant us the garments of lowliness. “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5).

This is my Christmas prayer for myself and for our church.

A humble and merry Christmas to you all,

Pastor John

© Desiring God


Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Leader's Character

The Navigators Daily Devotional:

Devotional for Saturday, December 13, 2008 / Sunday, December 14, 2008

Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. - 1 Peter 5:2-3

Books and articles about leadership written by secular writers often differ from biblical principles. All too often, those who teach leadership are concerned primarily with style. Should the leader simply make the decisions and carry them out, or should he consult with the people to get their input before he acts?

The most important issue in leadership is character. It has always seemed to me that leadership style depends on the circumstances. For instance, I like the idea of consulting with people and receiving their wisdom on the subject. Why do solo thinking when one has a whole group of skilled people to draw from? On the other hand, if I'm in an airplane and the cockpit is filling with smoke, the landing gear is stuck, and an engine is out, I don't want the captain coming back to the passenger section and asking my opinion about what to do. I want him to muster all his expertise, to recall all his training, and to get that airplane safely on the ground. I want him in total control and not asking advice from anybody.

So when the Bible deals with the subject of leadership, it doesn't dwell on the style of the leader, but on the character of the leader. Notice the words of the prophet in Isaiah 32:1: "See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice." The leader's daily walk of righteousness is fundamental. Now look at Isaiah 32:17: "The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever."


Lord, help me to walk in Your righteousness, so that when I lead, I can do it with quietness and confidence.

To Ponder

In leadership, character is the bottom line.

The text for this devotional comes from the NavPress book Daily Discipleship, which features devotionals taken from radio broadcasts by long-time Navigator LeRoy Eims. For more information or to order a copy, visit the NavPress website.


Underground Reality: Vietnam

The Voice of the Martyrs invited eight ordinary teenagers from around the United States and Australia to meet the underground church of Vietnam. Their mission was simple-to bring Bibles and other help and learn what it is really like to be a Christian in a restricted nation. See their experience with your own eyes. This mission trip was captured on video and is a great series.- VOMbooks

Sale Price: $24:00

Underground Reality: Vietnam

Matthew 10:16-33
Persecution Will Come
16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved....

24 A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

Have No Fear
26 So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

GDS Book Review: JOB by John Piper

At first, we weren't sure if we really wanted to do a SECOND blog in a row on a book from John Piper...but then we thought 'why not be monotonous?!' So here it is: we bring to you JOB, by John Piper.

The story of JOB is dramatically illustrated and uniquely written in compassionate poetry. Throughout the book, John Piper reveals the beauty and hope found in suffering at the hand of God's sovereignty. It is a very sobering and uplifting book for any Christian--and at the top of the Christmas list for the staff at GDS!

The book can be purchased for the special price of $19.99 at
the DG book store.

And you can also read, or listen to John Piper read the book at
the DesiringGod website.

"Oh LORD, if this were lost instead and all I had was you...I would be rich and have the greatest good.",


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Finally Alive : John Piper's New Book

Could Finally Alive Become One of John Piper's Most Important Books?

This book will be released in January 2009. And can be pre-ordered from Desiring God on special for $5.

“You must be born again.” This declaration from Jesus is either deluded or devastating to the one who would be captain of his soul. Not many biblical realities are better designed by God to reveal our helplessness in sin. But not everyone today is jealous to esteem this miracle for the wonder that it is.

The term born again is very precious and very crucial in the Bible. So our main concern is to know what God intends when the Bible uses this language, so that by his grace we may experience it and help others do the same. It is of enormous consequence that we know what being born again really means.

God is the great Doer in this miracle of regeneration. And he has not been silent about it. This means that he does not want us to be ignorant of what he does in the new birth. It means that knowing what he has revealed about the new birth is good for us. When Jesus said, “You must be born again,” he was not sharing interesting and unimportant information. He was leading him to eternal life.

Some Endorsements:

“Regeneration, or new birth, meaning simply the new you through, with, in, and under Christ, is a largely neglected theme today, but this fine set of sermons, criss-crossing the New Testament data with great precision, goes far to fill the gap. Highly recommended.”

- J .I. Packer, Professor of Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, Canada

"Nothing could be more eternally important than Christian people knowing what the Bible teaches about the new birth and knowing that they have experienced it. One wonders why it’s taken so long for a book on the new birth to be written! But now it has and I pray every reader rejoices in God for the rich beauties of Christ Jesus so compellingly shared in its pages.”

- Thabiti Anyabwile, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

“Classic Piper—crystal clear exposition and a must read.”

- Alistair Begg, Parkside Church

“I cannot too strongly celebrate the publication of this book. Owing in part to several decades of dispute over justification and how a person is set right with God, we have tended to neglect another component of conversion no less important. Conversion under the terms of the new covenant is more than a matter of position and status in Christ, though never less: it includes miraculous Spirit-given transformation, something immeasurably beyond mere human resolution. It is new birth; it makes us new creatures; it demonstrates that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. All the creedal orthodoxy in the world cannot replace it. The reason why “You must be born again” is so important is that you must be born again."

- D. A. Carson, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Also Checkout Adrian Warnock's Review:


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Defeating the Fear of Failure

"Seth Godin, one of today’s best marketing minds, wrote a blog post last week entitled “Is it worthy?”

Godin reflects on whether any of his efforts are worth the investments and sacrifices of others, or whether someone else could have done better with the resources that he has been given.

Godin concludes his reflection:

The object isn’t to be perfect. The goal isn’t to hold back until you’ve created something beyond reproach. I believe the opposite is true. Our birthright is to fail and to fail often, but to fail in search of something bigger than we can imagine. To do anything else is to waste it all.

There is much to affirm here. Yes, we fail and fail often. Yes, we should participate in something unimaginably big. And, no, the fear of failure should not keep us from continuing in this pursuit.

Godin’s remarks also raise two questions for me:

1. Is searching for “something bigger than we can imagine” enough, or do we need to find something, too?

The seeking is essential, but only because what we find is so wonderful. The asking is important and valuable because of the answers.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed….
The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:4-6, 10)

2. Can we be set free from the fear of failure by telling ourselves that it is in our nature to fail?

In part, yes, but for the Christian there is far more. The fear of failure is ultimately conquered through Christ. We need to…

…own up to our sin—the real failure. We fall short of and belittle the glory of God by pursuing our own greatness. (Romans 1:18-23;3:23)
…change our goal. In faith, we should pursue the glory of Christ, the perfect one, rather than our own perfection. (Galatians 5:1-5)
…trust in Christ for our perfection, because we are judged according to his righteousness as he intercedes on our behalf continually before God, the Father. (Hebrews 4:14-16)"

June 22, 2008 | By: Lukas Naugle
Desiring God


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Guilt, Grace, and the Global AIDS Crisis

To commemorate Wold AIDS Day (December 1st) we thought that we would bring to your attention this grace filled article by John Piper.

"All sin comes with a price. And many pay the bill who never did the sin. This means that we must speak carefully about the cause of AIDS. If any epidemic ever spread because of disobedience to God’s Word, it is AIDS. But millions are infected because of someone else’s disobedience, not their own.

But be careful here. Even this way of saying it could lead to a simplistic, unbiblical response. The abused are not innocent. And the guilty are not hopeless.

We are all sinners, which means no one does not deserve AIDS. When the Bible says that "the creation was subjected to futility" by God (Romans 8:20), it means that a sin-permeated creation will be a suffering-permeated creation. God ordains that there be suitable signs in the physical world of the moral horror of sin. All of us are sinful. And all of us cry under the fall of creation. All of us groan in this "bondage to decay" as we wait for "the freedom of the glory of the children of God" (Romans 8:21). Therefore, if we have AIDS because of a blood transfusion or a promiscuous spouse or a drug-using mother, we are not innocent.

But neither are the guilty hopeless. Mercifully, homosexual relations are made illicit by God. Few ancient texts are more stunning with modern relevance to AIDS than Romans 1:27: "Men gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error." Mercifully, prostitution and every form of extramarital sex is forbidden by God. "Flee fornication" (1 Corinthians 6:18). "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14). Mercifully, God warns us against drug abuse. "Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things" (Proverbs 23:31) "I will not be enslaved by anything" (1 Corinthians 6:12).

But the mercy does not stop with divine prohibitions. God will hear the cry of the guilty who have brought misery upon themselves. Psalm 107:17-21 is mercifully relevant to AIDS in this regard:

Some were fools through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from their destruction.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of men!

Self-inflicted misery does not put a person beyond hope. That is the only kind of guilt God forgives. It’s the only kind of guilt there is. The fact that any of us is healthy after sinning is owing to Christ’s mercy. Therefore, the fact that some are sick after sinning should bring out Christian mercy. And there is need for extraordinary mercy. Christians should pray and work toward research into cures, medical and hospice care, orphan ministries, education, moral challenges for abstinence and recovery, and above all, the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

According to the Center for Disease Control, "Today, 40 million people are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS. Of these, 37.1 million are adults. 18.5 million are women, and 3 million are children under 15." The cumulative number of AIDS cases reported to the CDC in the USA is 816,149 through December, 2001. The Minneapolis StarTribune reported (12-4-02, A22) that the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemic is in Eastern Europe and Central Asia with up to 90% of the known infections in Russia coming from drug injections. Sub-Sahara Africa is the worst-affected region with 29.4 million people infected. It is breathtaking to read that in Botswana the HIV prevalence is 38.8% of adults and in Zimbabwe 33.7%.

The magnificent message of Christ is that there’s hope—in this life for love, and in the life to come for new pain-free bodies in fellowship with Jesus. My prayer and challenge to the Christian church is: May the Lord raise up researchers, doctors, nurses, and tens of thousands of caring people to make the light of Christ shine through mercy. Freely we have received, O that we might freely give."

By John Piper December 4, 2002

© Desiring God


Monday, December 1, 2008

Music Feature: Dwayne Tryumf

Dwayne Tryumf is a Christian rap artist from the U.K. We really like him because he is very sincere about his faith and the Gospel is central in his music. Here is his new song "I Don't Pack a Matic"

Check out his website at:


Featured Ministry: is an Internet based
ministry with the following goals:

"1) To equip Christians in the truth by making available the finest classic articles and resources of historical orthodoxy. This is done in the hope that the church will embrace, and recover the true Biblical doctrines of the historic faith.

2) To encourage the church to always be reforming its thoughts in order to be more God-honoring & consistent with the Word of God. To teach the whole counsel of God and not just aspects we feel comfortable with, that the Gospel would affect and transform all areas of our life. To stress important doctrines that have been lost or set aside in the belief that it will help us in one of the most urgent tasks facing evangelicals today - the recovery of the gospel.

3) Bring glory and honor to God by stressing that the Scriptures are a divine Self-disclosure that is Christ-centered, not man-centered and that the work of salvation is a monergistic work of grace; that, prior to grace, man remains hostile, passive, unable and unwilling to turn to Christ until regenerated by the Holy Spirit. That salvation is not based on the fact that God knew which persons would believe of their own natural free will, for there is no person which fits that description (1 Cor 2:14; Rom 3:11; Rom 8:7; John 1:13; Rom 9:16,18;John 10:26). The decision was based in eternity upon God's sovereign good pleasure alone (Eph 1:4-6; 2 Tim 1:9, Titus 1:2) and enacted in time through the redemptive work of Christ and applied to the elect by the Holy Spirit on those He redemptively set His affection on. Affirming these doctrines did not come through philosophical or confessional routes but through the route of biblical exegesis.

To proclaim the truths of Scripture as reiterated in the 16th century Reformation that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in the Scripture alone to the glory of God alone."

Where to Begin at


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    GDS Theme Passage

    "For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus
    Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for
    Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine
    out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give
    the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in
    the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure
    in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power
    belongs to God and not to us."
    - 2 Corinthians 4:5-7

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