Monday, January 28, 2008

Sovereign Grace CDs for Six Bucks

During the whole month of February you'll be able to buy all the incredible music of Sovereign Grace Ministries for only $6 a CD! Books, too, will be severely discounted. Not to mention free shipping!

Bob Kauflin fills us in on why they've decided to be so ridiculously generous...
Why are we doing this? A few reasons. The primary mission of Sovereign Grace Ministries is to serve Sovereign Grace pastors who are giving their lives to build Gospel-centered local churches. We want to do everything we can to help them serve the people they lead. Providing Christ-exalting, biblically faithful music and books in one of the ways we can do that. We also want to make it as easy as possible for other churches and individuals to have access to what we produce. We figured that lowering the price of everything we’ve done is a step in that direction. We also want more people to hear our music and read our books because we produced them to encourage God-glorifying, Gospel-centered, Spirit-empowered living.Basically, it makes us happy to get our materials out for the lowest price possible.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Zechariah's First Birthday

Zechariah turned 1 year old, today--January 14, 2008!!! We've had a wonderful time celebrating with family and friends and playing with some of his new toys and in the freshly fallen snow. We can hardly believe it's been a year already since Zeke was born, and we are constantly amazed by how much joy God has brought into our life through our son. He's almost walking and is curious about absolutely everything.

Here are some picture that I know will brighten your day. Enjoy!

"This is my first time playing in the snow."

"Me and daddy!"

"Literally, just chillin'."

"Help, I can't get out!"

"That's a beautiful tree...too bad I can't touch it."

"A family portrait. I make them look good."

"Once again, I got in here myself, but I can't get out!"

"'s not as easy as it looks."

"Mommy's helping open my birthday presents."

"This is so much fun. I like birthdays."

"If i smile, do I get some cake?"


"I've got to pace myself."

"Who needs a fork when you've got fingers?!"

"Indeed this was finger-licking good."

"Driver, bring me around the house one more time. It's my birthday!"

Monday, January 07, 2008

What I Never Want to Do in 2008

Bob Kauflin shares what he never wants to do in 2008, here. Here's a small taste:

This morning, as I often do, I read two of the prayers from The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett. I’ve found these prayers help focus my thoughts on the most important issues in life: the greatness of my sin, the sovereignty of God, the saving work of Christ, the needs of the world, and my eternal destination. The first prayer this morning was “The ‘Nevers’ of the Gospel.” The commitments the author expressed offered a wise perspective as we enter a new year.

For my own understanding, I’ve divided the prayer into three sections. I call the first, “Using Truth Rightly.” It has to do with never seeking to know God’s Word in a way that doesn’t affect my life. Biblical knowledge, doctrine, and theology are all vital to my life. But unless my heart changes as a result, I’m only becoming deceived. I’ve updated the language to make it easier to read.

O Lord, may I never fail to come to the knowledge of the truth,
never rest in a system of doctrine, however scriptural,
that does not bring or further salvation,
or teach me to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts,
or help me to live soberly, righteously, godly;

Read the whole thing, here.

Friday, January 04, 2008

John Owen and Gollum: Puritan vs. Hobbit

Gollum personifies how evil takes hold of you, enslaving and devouring you. And the genius of Tolkien's Gollum is that the evil that destroys the once kind, playful hobbit does not come in an ugly, obvious form of evil. Instead, it seems beautiful and lovely; it is precious! Outwardly, Gollum's "Precious" does not look as dangerous as Saruman's pride, treachery, and manipulation or Sauron's destroy-anything-that-gets-in-my-way-of-absolute-power. And yet, I know of no other literary or cinematic character that so graphically portrays how sin begins so craftily, but ends in destruction.

Well, the other day I came across the most unlikely pairing. Reading through John Owen's Overcoming Sin and Temptation, I found something that made me think that Tolkien just might have ripped off the Puritan when he came up with Gollum and his beloved "Precious." Check this out...
"[Unmortified sin] untunes and unframes the heart itself by entangling its affections. It diverts the heart from the spiritual frame that is required for vigorous communion with God; it lays hold on the affections, rendering its object beloved and desirable, so expelling the love of the Father (1 John 2:15; 3:17); so that the soul cannot say uprightly and truly to God, "You are my portion," having something else it loves. Fear, desire, hope, which are the choice affections of the soul, that should be full of God, will be one way or other entangled with it."

John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation, eds., Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor, 64-65.

Notice how Owen describes sin: "it lays hold on the affections, rendering its object beloved and desirable." Sin is ultimately calling something other than God, "My Precioussss!" It's not merely doing bad things; more fundamentally, it is making good things into god things, as Tim Keller states. And when this happens we become incapable of experiencing or enjoying the love of God because our affections are diverted away from him. Something else has taken his place, and to it we say "You are my portion; you are my Precious!" That something is to us a substitute savior, a damning idol.

And sin, like the ring is not content to be just an add-on in our life: it's desire is to enslave. Remember when Gollum, then Smeagol, acquired the ring? His servitude began right away! It lead him to murder his own cousin. It drove him from the ones he loved. It reduced him to living like an animal, eating raw fish and dwelling in caves. It owned him! It destroyed him.

Together, Owen and Gollum remind us of this central truth: whatever we love, whatever we worship...we will serve. You've got to serve somebody, may you take Jesus at his word and serve him!

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
John 10:10