>Humbling Truth, Joyous Truth, well, Just Truth

>Today is my physical birthday. I had nothing to do with my conception, development, and birth.

January 30, 1974 was my spiritual (re)birthday. I had nothing to do with my conception, development, and (re) birth.

Salvation is of the Lord.

Spurgeon says it best:

Salvation is the work of God. It is he alone who quickens the soul “dead in trespasses and sins,” and it is he also who maintains the soul in its spiritual life. He is both “Alpha and Omega.” “Salvation is of the Lord.” 

If I am prayerful, God makes me prayerful; if I have graces, they are God’s gifts to me; if I hold on in a consistent life, it is because he upholds me with his hand. 

I do nothing whatever towards my own preservation, except what God himself first does in me. 

Whatever I have, all my goodness is of the Lord alone. 

Wherein I sin, that is my own; but wherein I act rightly, that is of God, wholly and completely. If I have repulsed a spiritual enemy, the Lord’s strength nerved my arm. Do I live before men a consecrated life? It is not I, but Christ who liveth in me. Am I sanctified? I did not cleanse myself: God’s Holy Spirit sanctifies me. Am I weaned from the world? I am weaned by God’s chastisements sanctified to my good. 

Do I grow in knowledge? The great Instructor teaches me. 

All my jewels were fashioned by heavenly art. 

I find in God all that I want; but I find in myself nothing but sin and misery. “He only is my rock and my salvation.” 

 Do I feed on the Word? That Word would be no food for me unless the Lord made it food for my soul, and helped me to feed upon it. Do I live on the manna which comes down from heaven? What is that manna but Jesus Christ himself incarnate, whose body and whose blood I eat and drink? Am I continually receiving fresh increase of strength? Where do I gather my might? My help cometh from heaven’s hills: without Jesus I can do nothing. As a branch cannot bring forth fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can I, except I abide in him. 

What Jonah learned in the great deep, let me learn this morning in my closet: “Salvation is of the Lord.” 

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=jacksjots-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1581347626&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrDOES THIS PERPLEX YOU? IRRITATE YOU? CHALLENGE YOU? COMFORT YOU? REGARDLESS OF YOUR REACTION, LET ME GIVE YOU A BIRTHDAY PRESENT…

>Sovereignty and Sanity

>SCOTTY SMITH keeps cranking out phenomenal stuff. No, he doesn’t crank; he reads, prays, trusts, and shares. Here are great insights regarding the absolute sovereignty of God:

     At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” Daniel 4:34-35

     Almighty Father, I need to “bookmark” this passage and return to it often, for it doesn’t just tell the conversion story of a pagan King, it’s the ongoing story of my heart. We’re never more sane than when we raise our eyes towards heaven and focus our attention on you. Navel gazing, circumstance watching and daily-news fixating never serve us well.

    Father, help us to understand the glorious implications of your perpetual enthronement. Your dominion as the only eternal dominion. November elections and political insurrections; the world economy and temperature instability; earthquakes and oil leaks; multiplied conspiracies and conservative tea parties don’t affect your reign one micro-bit for one nanosecond.

     For your kingdom endures from generation to generation. There never has been, nor will there ever be any nervous sweat, furrowed brows or anxious pacing in heaven; not one moment of consternation or vexation in the corridors of paradise; no need for a plan B to emerge from the Big Boardroom.

     Father, you do as you please with the powers of heaven and the peoples of earth. I praise you for marshalling  the powers of heaven for the salvation of ill-deserving rebels like me and the ultimate transformation of the entire cosmos. Though many tried to hold back your hand; though many said “What are you doing?”, nevertheless, you chose the sacrifice of your Son and the “foolishness” of the cross, as the greatest demonstration of your sovereignty and grace.

     The only King who could say, “Behold the world I have made” is the only King who would say, “Behold the people for whom I die.” Father, the greatest sanity is gospel-sanity. Keep us sane, Father, keep us gospel-sane.

     We choose to lift our eyes to heaven today and fix our gaze on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and we cry with unfettered, unabated joy, “Hallelujah what a Savior! Hallelujah what a salvation!” So very Amen, we pray, in the name and for the glory of the true King, Jesus.

>Bonhoeffer on Interuptions

>We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will
be constantly crossing our paths and cancelling our plans by sending us
people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with
our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen
among thieves, perhaps – reading the Bible….. it is part of the
discipline of humility that we must not spare our hand where it can
perform a service and we do not assume that our schedule is our own to
manage, but allow it to be arranged by God.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

>Incredible Honesty from Sam Storms

>Dr. Sam Storms is one of my favorites. You can learn more of him at http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com.

Without editorial comment, here is his latest writing, received while I was finishing up my last week of camp, and obviously timely with the car accident related death of our 17-year-old nephew last Saturday.

Yes, it is long, but I urge you to thoughtfully read it.

An Open Hand or a Clenched Fist?

The Frightening Reality of a Fair Weather Faith

I don’t know how else to say it, so I’ll come straight to the point. Last Sunday, August 17, 2008, I came face to face with the fragility and weakness of my faith in God. It may have been the most frightening moment in my Christian life. Let me explain.

On Wednesday, August 13th, just five days earlier, I was in Oklahoma City meeting with the staff of Bridgeway Church. During lunch, as I was about to respond to another question, my cell phone rang. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.

My younger daughter, Joey (23), was hysterical and virtually incoherent. It took at least ten minutes for me to get her calm enough that I could understand what she was saying amidst the tears and shock. She had been on her way back to Kansas City from Branson, Missouri, when her car grazed the side of a large truck that had moved into her blind spot. She was instantly airborne, her car virtually flying through the air at 65 mph.

The car flipped upside down, but not as you might expect. It didn’t roll over, side to side, but rather back to front. The nose of the car dipped as the rear end rose, eventually landing on its roof. Joey immediately unhooked her seat belt, pushed away the airbag, and fell to the roof of the car which was now the floor.

Her immediate instinct was to call me. But I was helpless to do anything, being nearly four hours away. I called Ann in Kansas City and she quickly made her way to the hospital in Bolivar, Missouri, where the police took Joey for an examination.

Miraculously and mercifully, she had only an abrasion on her neck from the seat belt and a slight chemical burn on her forearm. No broken bones. No internal injuries. No bleeding. She was sore for several days (and still is, as of Wednesday, August 20th), but was graciously preserved from any serious injury. Everyone at the scene said they’d never seen an accident like that in which the driver walked away unscathed. The car was thoroughly crushed and destroyed. We have pictures to prove it. “I have no explanation for why your daughter isn’t dead,” said the police officer to me on the phone.

You may wonder, then, why Sunday would have been a difficult day for me. I was filled with such indescribable gratitude for what God had done. My heart was flooded with joy and delight as I reflected on how close she had come to death and how wonderful it was that she emerged without serious harm.

The tears of thanksgiving and profound appreciation and worship flowed freely and unashamedly. My hands were lifted high in adoration and praise as we sang that now familiar and somewhat dated chorus, “He is exalted, the King is exalted on high, I will praise Him!” We then sang what has quickly become one of my favorites, “Beautiful,” by Phil Wickham, one verse of which is as follows:

“I see your power in the moonlit night

Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright

We are amazed in the light of the stars

It’s all proclaiming who You are,

You’re beautiful!”

Suddenly, my hands began to tremble ever so slightly. The tears dried up. Without warning, giving me no chance to prepare my heart, this horrifying thought raced through my mind: “Would I be lifting my hands in love and adoration of the Lord if Joey had died last Wednesday? Or would my raised and open hand be a clenched and defiant fist? If she, like so many who had similar wrecks, had died, would I have praised God for being ‘Beautiful'”?

I was spiritually paralyzed. A shiver of raw fear ran down my spine. No words can adequately explain the emotional terror that gripped my soul. Was I the sort of person who would only worship and honor and love God so long as he saved my daughter’s life? Was I the sort who would happily and profusely speak of the mercy of divine providence only if it shined on me favorably?

If Joey had not survived the wreck, or if she had been severely injured or paralyzed, would I have declared God to be beautiful, or would I have seen him as ugly and uncaring and indifferent? Was my faith the sort that flourished only in fair weather, or would it withstand the storm of tragedy and loss of the worst imaginable kind?

I couldn’t answer my own questions. I froze in fear. Would I have cursed God instead of extolling him had my precious little girl died? How have other people coped when their child was lost? What did they think of God? Was he still worthy of their praise? Was he still deserving of their devotion and affection and love? Was he still “exalted” as “King on high”? Was he still beautiful in their eyes?

I wish I could tell you that I reassured myself by saying, “Hey, Sam, don’t worry. Of course you’d still love God. The pain would be unbearable, but your faith would withstand the test. You’re strong. After all, you’re a Calvinist. Your whole life and ministry are built on the stability and strength of divine sovereignty.”

I wish I could tell you that’s what passed through my mind. But it didn’t. Maybe I would still have praised him. I certainly hope so. Oh, God, please let it be so! But I felt vulnerable in that moment in a way I never have before. I felt weak and frail and terrified that my faith was only as good as were the circumstances of my life.

I have many times glibly and proudly quoted the words of Job: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). It’s always been easy, because the Lord has not as yet “taken away” anything of great value to me. He came close, but he gave her back. If he hadn’t, could I have honestly and sincerely said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord”? I don’t know. That’s what scares me.

I want to believe that I would still love and honor God following the sort of loss Job suffered. I desperately want to believe it. I labor in my study of God’s Word and in prayer and in so many other ways to cultivate a heart that is quick to submit to his sovereign ways. But I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that I was shaken the other day.

There’s no great struggle in affirming God’s sovereignty when he has given rather than taken away. I felt no strain last Sunday in saying, “Blessed be the name of the Lord,” because Joey was standing next to me. Had it been otherwise, would I follow the advice of Job’s wife and “curse God and die” (Job 2:9)? I don’t know. I pray not. God help me.


>Icy Thoughts About Sovereignty

The Lord God reigns supreme.
I do believe that. I don’t “get” it…when young dynamic Christians are killed in car wrecks; when a loving Christian couple loses a pregnancy; or when evil actions dominate the daily news.
But if God isn’t supreme (omnipotent), He is not much of a God.
A “minor” (relatively) inconvenience today…I was set to host the final regular season Bible quiz for the Bath league; to be followed by the selection process for the four teams we will take to the National tournament in April.
Then came the storm yesterday. This morning I arose at 6 and it wasn’t bad; a few inches on the ground. Checked the various weather sites, the storm “warning” downgraded to a “watch.” I began shoveling the driveway. As I concluded ice began dropping.
Called a couple coaches; one was good-to-go; another said it was too icy. Decided to go with it; left the house; got a couple other calls; spoke with my wife; prayed…cancelled.
Now we flop it all over to next Saturday…which was scheduled to be our tri-league tournament. Now we won’t have a tournament.
But God is supreme, sovereign, and solid.
And good.
And as much as I love Bible quizzing, I love quizzers more…and I’d rather lose a day of quizzing – with all it’s inherent scheduling difficulties and so forth – than have a quizzer in a ditch…or worse.
Now…what would I think if I later learn that some quizzers decided to go sledding since the quiz was cancelled, and one was seriously injured…or worse…?
I’d know God is supreme, sovereign, and solid.
And good.
And, prayerfully, like Job; I’d say “blessed be the Name of the Lord.”