This was my manna this morning from John Piper....
"Our love affairs with sin are not just a matter of morality, but of joy. This is not just about faithfulness to God, but about finding our deepest, most satisfying fulfillment. Many people think following Jesus means surrendering their happiness. You can either enjoy a fun, passionate, and exciting life here for a short time or live a bland, boring, but safe life forever with God. That lie is a quiet, but violent concentration camp, fencing men and women in, keeping them away from God, and torturing them with lesser pleasures that only lead to a swift and yet never-ending death. If you want to be truly happy now, you want to be found with Jesus.
Experiencing the full life with Jesus, we say with David, 'You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound' (Psalm 4:7). We can be infinitely and enduringly more happy with Jesus than with anything or even everything in a world without him — even when that world is filled and overflowing with promotions and bonuses at work, on-demand television, all-you-can-eat sushi, grossly accessible pornography, always new and better technology, and countless other goods become gods.
God is not just a more morally or socially acceptable treasure, but he will satisfy you more than anyone or anything else. Christianity is not merely, or even mainly, about correcting your bad habits, but about satisfying and fulfilling you in the deepest way possible, and therefore making God look as great as he is. Our hearts were designed to enjoy a full and forever happiness, not the pitiful temporary pleasures for which we’re too prone to settle. Pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust are all woefully inadequate substitutes for the wonder, beauty, and affection of God. They will rob you, not ravish you. They will slaughter you, not save you. Looking to little, temporary gods for true and lasting happiness is a frantic and expensive treasure hunt for fool’s gold. You lose far more than you will ever find." read more
Tomorrow is March 8th - International Women's Day. Though we in the US don't really celebrate it - it is a huge, huge day overseas. Flowers are generously handed out with well wishes and women are really celebrated. But think of it with me, who hates women the most? Satan hates women the most. We see that a woman was the first target of the Devil in the Garden of Eden. Backwards religions in the world diminish, cover and shun them shamefully where they function practically as slaves in the home. Yet in sophisticated society they are abused as well by their elevation via culture and entertainment to be objects to stare at and satisfy creepy people's desires. Who really loves women the way they ought to be loved and valued honorably the way they desire to be loved? Who really recognizes their value and importance? The answer to that question can be found at the Resurrection Morning of Jesus. Who was the first person Jesus appeared to? No, not to His Disciples or the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb. But to a woman. Mary Madeline. Women's status in the middle east those day was not much different than it is today. Women could not even be witnesses in a court case - yet Jesus appears FIRST to a woman and calls her by name. Just the way He says her name causes her to recognize who He really was, that He was not just the gardener she mistaken him for at the beginning. She is the first witness of the resurrection and goes and calls Jesus's disciples to tell the wonderful news. It was a woman that God choose to bear His Son into the world. So as we celebrate International Woman's Day, let's remember God's honorable and virtuous heart for women. True love is honorable love that finds tremendous value in what it loves that is followed up by care and protection. That is what we wish for all of our wives, sisters, mothers and godly friends in the Lord tomorrow!read more
As with Job, God tests every relationship to prove its real content. When God searches "to and fro" for the "perfect heart" it is a loyal heart that God seeks. When He finds it in us, He entrusts us with a spiritual stewardship - a ministry - a relationship with God & people that goes deep & long in trials & temptation. Though we fail God will not fail us - hence we may say, God I am captivated by your unfailing loyalty thus I say "Lord I am your servant - your disciple, loyal to you and your people to the end"read more
"No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets." - notation in William Borden's Bible
"Do not put out the Spirit's fire." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:19
Quotations taken from Borden of Yale, by Mrs. Howard Taylor, Moody Press, Chicago
In 1904 William Borden graduated from a Chicago high school. As heir to the Borden family fortune, he was already wealthy. For his high school graduation present, his parents gave 16-year-old Borden a trip around the world. As the young man traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt a growing burden for the world's hurting people. Finally, Bill Borden wrote home about his "desire to be a missionary."
One friend expressed disbelief that Bill was "throwing himself away as a missionary."
In response, Borden wrote two words in the back of his Bible: "No reserves."
Even though young Borden was wealthy, he arrived on the campus of Yale University in 1905 trying to look like just one more freshman. Very quickly, however, Borden's classmates noticed something unusual about him and it wasn't that he had lots of money. One of them wrote: "He came to college far ahead, spiritually, of any of us. He had already given his heart in full surrender to Christ and had really done it. We who were his classmates learned to lean on him and find in him a strength that was solid as a rock, just because of this settled purpose and consecration."
During his college years, Bill Borden made an entry in his personal journal that defined what his classmates were seeing in him. That entry said simply: "Say 'no' to self and 'yes' to Jesus every time."
Borden's first disappointment at Yale came when the university president spoke in a convocation about the students' need of "having a fixed purpose." After that speech, Borden wrote: "He neglected to say what our purpose should be, and where we should get the ability to persevere and the strength to resist temptations." Surveying the Yale faculty and much of the student body, Borden lamented what he saw as the end result of an empty, humanistic philosophy: moral weakness and sin-ruined lives.
During his first semester at Yale, Borden started something that would transform campus life. One of his friends described how it began: "It was well on in the first term when Bill and I began to pray together in the morning before breakfast. I cannot say positively whose suggestion it was, but I feel sure it must have originated with Bill. We had been meeting only a short time when a third student joined us and soon after a fourth. The time was spent in prayer after a brief reading of Scripture. Bill's handling of Scripture was helpful. . . . He would read to us from the Bible, show us something that God had promised and then proceed to claim the promise with assurance."
Borden's small morning prayer group gave birth to a movement that soon spread across the campus. By the end of his first year, 150 freshman were meeting weekly for Bible study and prayer. By the time Bill Borden was a senior, one thousand of Yale's 1,300 students were meeting in such groups.
Borden made it his habit to seek out the most "incorrigible" students and try to bring them to salvation. "In his sophomore year we organized Bible study groups and divided up the class of 300 or more, each man interested taking a certain number, so that all might, if possible, be reached. The names were gone over one by one, and the question asked, 'Who will take this person?' When it came to someone thought to be a hard proposition, there would be an ominous pause. Nobody wanted the responsibility. Then Bill's voice would be heard, 'Put him down to me.'"
Borden's outreach ministry was not confined to the Yale campus. He cared about widows and orphans and the disabled. He rescued drunks from the streets of New Haven. To try to rehabilitate them, he founded the Yale Hope Mission. One of Bill Borden's friends wrote that he "might often be found in the lower parts of the city at night, on the street, in a cheap lodging house or some restaurant to which he had taken a poor hungry fellow to feed him, seeking to lead men to Christ."
Borden's missionary call narrowed to the Muslim Kansu people in China. Once he fixed his eyes on that goal, Borden never wavered. He also challenged his classmates to consider missionary service. One of them said of him: "He certainly was one of the strongest characters I have ever known, and he put backbone into the rest of us at college. There was real iron in him, and I always felt he was of the stuff martyrs were made of, and heroic missionaries of more modern times."
Although he was a millionaire, Bill seemed to "realize always that he must be about his Father's business, and not wasting time in the pursuit of amusement." Although Borden refused to join a fraternity, "he did more with his classmates in his senior year than ever before." He presided over the huge student missionary conference held at Yale and served as president of the honor society Phi Beta Kappa.
Upon graduation from Yale, Borden turned down some high-paying job offers. In his Bible, he wrote two more words: "No retreats."
William Borden went on to do graduate work at Princeton Seminary in New Jersey. When he finished his studies at Princeton, he sailed for China. Because he was hoping to work with Muslims, he stopped first in Egypt to study Arabic. While there, he contracted spinal meningitis. Within a month, 25-year-old William Borden was dead.
When the news of William Whiting Borden's death was cabled back to the U.S., the story was carried by nearly every American newspaper. "A wave of sorrow went round the world . . . Borden not only gave (away) his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it (seemed) a privilege rather than a sacrifice" wrote Mary Taylor in her introduction to his biography.
Was Borden's untimely death a waste? Not in God's perspective. Prior to his death, Borden had written two more words in his Bible. Underneath the words "No reserves" and "No retreats," he had written: "No regrets."
Portions based on material in Daily Bread, December 31, 1988, and The Yale Standard, Fall 1970 edition.
Chronology / Dates
November 1, 1887 -- birth
1904 -- High school graduation (Chicago)
1905 -- Round-the-world trip
1909 -- Yale graduation
December 17, 1912 -- Sails for Egypt on way to China
April 9, 1913 -- Death in Egyptread more
Most of us, if not all of us, aim too low. Due to the gravitational pull of our fallen nature; our dreams are all too ego-centric, hence earth-bound, & limited to our natural finite abilities. The consequences are visions and dreams that are only as big as we are and no larger, thus we settle for far too little. Yet we should not aim at the high and lofty dream or ideal that we revere, but we must set our gaze on the Resurrected Christ seated above in the Heavenlies. When we look to Him - the One Who said “lift up your eyes for the harvest is plenteous” will gently lift our chin with His nail-scared Hand, raising our sight-line above the horizon of the fret & fray of this burdened world. It is then we discover we are not looking to anything other than into His Eyes of compassion. Consequentially natural dreams become as foolishness and a brand new vision takes over - a vision that is bigger than us, beyond our limitations impossible by nature. When our aim, our gaze is upon a victorious, gracious Savior - it is then we stop living the possible and we begin to live the supernatural. Only then will we be truly content and happy. read more
There are 3 common denominators between legalism and gnosticism found in churches across America today:
There should be some level of achievement on the part of the believer for the believer to be a genuine, true, Christian. The required achievement regularly orbits around two main principles: behavioral modification (legalism) or intellectual attainment (gnosticism). Within those two poles it may vary. It can be an attainment in virtues & character, experience, holiness, intellect, or mental sacrifice. There stands a threshold to leap over whether mystical, doctrinal, adventurous, or ascetic.
The diagnosis of fallen man's spiritual disease in Neo-Gnosticism and legalism is in essence the same. It denies (or at least ignores) the depravity of mankind and his sinfulness. Paving the way for an enbetterment through a self-devised program. The problem of sinners only finds diagnosis at a behavioral plane, and may even be detected deeper at the level of the soul - discovering that they are "curved into themselves." But the deception of gnosticism is the premise that self-help can reverse the problem of man and self-heal. Self-healing is touted as the answer through disciplined practice — religious, ethical, experiential, meditative, mystical, & aesthetic. The premise is: “It can be done if you will it..." This the language of the law of gnosticism guised in Christianity’s religious law. When troubled men and women stove to change, held or mend themselves to be more as the higher perfected self that religion projects as successful - it is religious “legalism". What is really dangerous about the gnostic form of legalism is that it takes the sinner's accuser -- the law of Moses -- and proposes it as redeemer. But the first error is its diagnosis of the sinner's disease - that it is viable - It is too shallow. Biblical definition for that incurable problem of sin is the reality that no self-help can redeem man from his demise. "Dead in trespasses and sins” - Eph 2.1; at "enmity with God” - Rom 8.7 and "in bondage to sin” - Rom 7.24. How can the gnostic attainment and the legalistic endeavors transform a person? It's not just that the sinner needs transformation -- radical change -- but God has to change, change from being the sinner's judge, the sinner's own executor the sinner's jail keeper - change to being his savior.
Neither legalism or gnosticism needs the cross and risen Christ - any spiritual guru or life coach will do. Somebody else, some exemplary figure, role model, life coach or, trainer or some guru, can do the job that needs doing to get the sinner back on the wagon again. The line of "All you've got to do is...” states for the legalist or neo-gnostic that Christ is really not necessary. Instead of the law's verbage “do and live," the Gospel's contrasting verb is "offer." It is the language of gift, the grammar of grace.