Aroma Cafe

Not much to say, except bread pudding. And that my family is a good hang and Aroma Cafe is cool.

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Grace Works

It is necessary to remember, as I have pointed out before, that mortification is the work of faith and of believers only. ‘Apart from me’, said Christ, ‘you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). He was speaking here about purging the heart from sin. Mortification of any sin must be through a supply of grace. We cannot do it by ourselves.

-John Owen, The Mortification of Sin (abridged and updated by Richard Rushing), pages 120-121

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves

A friend of mine recommended a series of sermons by Art Azurdia on Ephesians 5:25-27. I want to say that this is first experience listening to Art Azurdia, and I hope it is not my last. He is a great herald of the truth. The series is four parts, and it is well-worth your time, in fact I just finished it this morning on the train.

I listened to third talk on Saturday morning, while I was mowing the lawn and I was struck in a profound way by how he introduced point three in the series. The heading was, He has loved her with an undeserved love. He said,

Spent much time around the church? Spent much time around this church? A group of worthy, righteous, consistent, deserving, upstanding models of godliness, right? Not right. A group of gypsies, tramps and thieves get a closer to the point. And the reason why I draw this to your attention dear friends is because a part of what makes the love of Jesus Christ for the church so spectacular is the realization that he loved us when we least deserved it.

This was striking to me. First, I think pastors or leaders have the tendency to coddle their people. They speak of their excellence and virtue. But I appreciate his honesty. Not only because honesty is truth, because he uses it in such a way to magnify the love of Jesus for the undeserving church. Second, I observe that Art Azurdia has a deep relationship with the people he ministers to so that he can, without flinching, call them gypsies, tramps and thieves without creating a mass exodus. What he said is true, but it’s hard to hear that and we prefer to be tickled. His congregation must have a sense of pastoral love and care, they must know he had their best interests in mind. Perhaps I’m wrong and giving went down the next week, maybe people tuned him out after that statement, I know I didn’t. He spoke the truth with love and we need more of that.

I don’t want to distract you from the main lesson in the series. I’d highly recommend the talks to husbands, download them now. But I will quickly say how I will attempt to make good use of these observations. I’m not a pastor, nor the son of a pastor, but I want to be a good friend. I have to ask myself, do my friends have a sense of real genuine care from me? Would they know if I had their best interest in mind? Does my wife feel this way? Also, as people in the pew, do we have thin-skin? Would I be willing to hear this from my pastor? Or would language like this give me an excuse to seek greener pastures? I hope not, because understanding the weight of sinfulness magnifies Christ. I am a gypsy, tramp and a thief.

You can find this series at his website, under the heading The Holy Responsibility of the Christian Family, Husbands: The Romance Of Jesus Christ.

Husbands: The Romance Of Jesus Christ – Part 1
Husbands: The Romance Of Jesus Christ – Part 2
Husbands: The Romance Of Jesus Christ – Part 3
Husbands: The Romance Of Jesus Christ – Part 4

Aggravating Guilt

On Tuesday, during the big kids’ swimming lesson I took the opportunity to sit in the shade and read the eleventh chapter from the abridged and updated version of John Owen’s book, The Mortification of Sin. He lays out very specific guidelines to put sin to death, and one of these guidelines to consider your own sin in relation to the gospel. He writes, “Bring your lust to the gospel. Not for relief, but for further conviction of your guilt.”

There is a temptation to zoom past our guilt and shame to get to relief. But would not thoughtful consideration (godly grief, 2 Corinthians 7:10) of our own guilt drive us to put this sin to death?

He gives three instructions to aggravate guilt.

I’ll summarize here and I’d encourage you to read the book.

  • Consider the infinite patience and forbearance of God towards us. Owen writes, “He has spared you from time too time and you have tested Him to see how long He might be patient. Will you continue to sin ageist Him?”
  • Consider how many times you’ve been right on the edge of being hardened and God’s been gracious to restore you.
  • Fill your conscience with the memories of God’s gracious dealings with you.

Why aggravate guilt? Because you probably do not feel enough of it. We may be too cold and too hard to have that sensitivity. May God use the aggravation of guilt to see our sin for what it is: great. And may God use our knowledge of our great sin to reveal to us our great Savior.

A path to good preaching

I too am willing to affirm the “primacy of preaching” though I think there are many conservative evangelicals who take that to mean that preaching is essentially the only thing a minister has to do and everything else takes care of itself. That is a disastrous mistake. A man who is not deeply involved in personal shepherding, evangelism, and pastoral care will be a bad preacher.

– Tim Keller, Lloyd-Jones on the Practice of Real Preaching from the Redeemer City to City blog

“And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” Acts 5:42, ESV

I’d recommend reading the whole thing.

Why we exist

…”For by him all things were created . . . all things were created through him and for him.” So Paul teaches us that Jesus Christ created all that is. They were created through him. And all things were created for him.

All that came into being exists for Christ–that is, everything exists to display the greatness of Christ. Nothing–nothing!–in the universe exists for its own sake. Everything–from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the mountains, from the smallest particle to the biggest star, from the most boring school subject to the most fascinating science, from the ugliest cockroach to the most beautiful human, from the greatest saint to the most wicked genocidal dictator–everything that exists, exists to make the greatness of Christ more fully known–including you, and the person you have the hardest time liking.

John Piper, Spectacular Sins, page 33.

The apex of the glory of Christ

The apex of the glory of Christ is the glory of his grace–treating people infinitely better than they deserve–giving himself for the everlasting joy of the worst of sinners who will have him as their highest Treasure. And the apex of this grace is the murder of the God-man outside Jerusalem around A.D. 33. The death of Jesus Christ was murder. It was the most spectacular sin ever committed.

John Piper, Spectacular Sins, pages 11 and 12