There are no “grey areas” when the Bible speaks about the heart- the central core of who you are.  It’s pretty much black or white on its description of the heart. I subscribe to Tabletalk magazine, and I thought Sinclair Ferguson wrote an excellent article titled “A Catechism on the Heart“.  Do we not as Christians want to have a heart for God?  Then read Sinclair Ferguson explain below…

Sometimes people ask authors, “Which of your books is your favorite?” The first time the question is asked, the response is likely to be “I am not sure; I have never really thought about it.” But forced to think about it, my own standard response has become, “I am not sure what my favorite book is; but my favorite title is A Heart for God.” I am rarely asked, “Why?” but (in case you ask) the title simply expresses what I want to be: a Christian with a heart for God.

Perhaps that is in part a reflection of the fact that we sit on the shoulders of the giants of the past. Think of John Calvin’s seal and motto: a heart held out in the palm of a hand and the words “I offer my heart to you, Lord, readily and sincerely.” Or consider Charles Wesley’s hymn: 

                  O for a heart to praise my God!
A heart from sin set free.

Some hymnbooks don’t include Wesley’s hymn, presumably in part because it is read as an expression of his doctrine of perfect love and entire sanctification. (He thought it possible to have his longing fulfilled in this world.) But the sentiment itself is surely biblical.

But behind the giants of church history stands the testimony of Scripture. The first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart (Deut. 6:5). That is why, in replacing Saul as king, God “sought out a man after his own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14), for “the Lord looks on the heart” (16:7). It is a truism to say that, in terms of our response to the gospel, the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. But truism or not, it is true.

What this looks like, how it is developed, in what ways it can be threatened, and how it expresses itself will be explored little by little in this new column. But at this stage, perhaps it will help us if we map out some preliminary matters in the form of a catechism on the heart:

Q.1. What is the heart?
A. The heart is the central core and drive of my life intellectually (it involves my mind), affectionately (it shapes my soul), and totally (it provides the energy for my living).

Q.2. Is my heart healthy?
A. No. By nature I have a diseased heart. From birth, my heart is deformed and antagonistic to God. The intentions of its thoughts are evil continually.

Q.3. Can my diseased heart be healed?
A. Yes. God, in His grace, can give me a new heart to love Him and to desire to serve Him.

Q.4. How does God do this?
A. God does this through the work of the Lord Jesus for me and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in me. He illumines my mind through the truth of the gospel, frees my enslaved will from its bondage to sin, cleanses my affections by His grace, and motivates me inwardly to live for Him by rewriting His law into my heart so that I begin to love what He loves. The Bible calls this being “born from above.”

Q.5. Does this mean I will never sin again?
A. No. I will continue to struggle with sin until I am glorified. God has given me a new heart, but for the moment He wants me to keep living in a fallen world. So day by day I face the pressures to sin that come from the world, the flesh, and the Devil. But God’s Word promises that over all these enemies I can be “more than a conqueror through him who loved us.”

Q.6. What four things does God counsel me to do so that my heart may be kept for Him?
A. First, I must guard my heart as if everything depended on it. This means that I should keep my heart like a sanctuary for the presence of the Lord Jesus and allow nothing and no one else to enter.

Second, I must keep my heart healthy by proper diet, growing strong on a regular diet of God’s Word — reading it for myself, meditating on its truth, but especially being fed on it in the preaching of the Word. I also will remember that my heart has eyes as well as ears. The Spirit shows me baptism as a sign that I bear God’s triune name, while the Lord’s Supper stimulates heart love for the Lord Jesus.

Third, I must take regular spiritual exercise, since my heart will be strengthened by worship when my whole being is given over to God in expressions of love for and trust in Him.

Fourth, I must give myself to prayer in which my heart holds on to the promises of God, rests in His will, and asks for His sustaining grace — and do this not only on my own but with others so that we may encourage one another to maintain a heart for God.

This — and much else — requires development, elaboration, and exposition. But it can be summed up in a single biblical sentence. Listen to your Father’s appeal: “My son, give Me your heart.”

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I’m only teasing about the title. Slightly. But I’m sure your head goes spinning like mine does when reading any news article related to the European financial crisis dealing with the euro.  And frankly, it’s not that pressing of a topic on my list of things to understand when I have kids to drop off at the bus stop, phone calls to make, and trying to find time to tally my own financial debt created by purchasing Christmas gifts.  Plus, I’d rather enjoy the fine powdered sugar sprinkling of snow sent overnight that I see outside.

But then I perused the latest news and saw once again that Europe has been busy overnight as well. The latest from Bloomberg said that “France sold 7.96 billion euros ($10.2 billion) of debt, with 10-year borrowing costs rising in the country’s first bond auction of the year as credit-rating companies threaten to cut the nation’s AAA grade.”  Does anyone know what that means?  Please translate that, merci!

Final straw.  It was at that point of frustration that I decided to devote only 10 minutes to settling this.  So, I went to the source that is 1,000 miles wide with information and only 1 inch thick in depth with understanding: the internet.

Here are my results and hopefully it well help you in understanding the European financial crises.  The first is from New York Times, and appropriately named, “Translating the European Crisis, in Plain English“. The other, which surprisingly references the New York Times article (I must have been on to something…), is from a Christian perspective prying into the moral and ethical causes of the crises and factors that influenced it.  It’s called, “Productive for the Glory of God, Good of Neighbors“. And of course, Khan Academy, made honorable mention… But, he went beyond my 10 minutes.

In the midst of it all, praise be to God that He who is sovereign over all creation is sovereign over all nations.  May we be good stewards. Now go outside and get those shoes muddy.

Merry Christmas!

From Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening devotional…

“For your sakes he became poor.”—2 Corinthians 8:9.

Th Lord Jesus Christ was eternally rich, glorious, and exalted; but “though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor.” As the rich saint cannot be true in his communion with his poor brethren unless of his substance he ministers to their necessities, so (the same rule holding with the head as between the members), it is impossible that our Divine Lord could have had fellowship with us unless He had imparted to us of His own abounding wealth, and had become poor to make us rich. Had He remained upon His throne of glory, and had we continued in the ruins of the fall without receiving His salvation, communion would have been impossible on both sides. Our position by the fall, apart from the covenant of grace, made it as impossible for fallen man to communicate with God as it is for Belial to be in concord with Christ. In order, therefore, that communion might be compassed, it was necessary that the rich kinsman should bestow his estate upon his poor relatives, that the righteous Saviour should give to His sinning brethren of His own perfection, and that we, the poor and guilty, should receive of His fulness grace for grace; that thus in giving and receiving, the One might descend from the heights, and the other ascend from the depths, and so be able to embrace each other in true and hearty fellowship. Poverty must be enriched by Him in whom are infinite treasures before it can venture to commune; and guilt must lose itself in imputed and imparted righteousness ere the soul can walk in fellowship with purity. Jesus must clothe His people in His own garments, or He cannot admit them into His palace of glory; and He must wash them in His own blood, or else they will be too defiled for the embrace of His fellowship.
O believer, herein is love! For your sake the Lord Jesus “became poor” that He might lift you up into communion with Himself.

The fab five family of mine have really enjoyed reading this article on “Who was St. Nicholas?”  Highlights the man, myths, and, yes, mushrooms for gifts. Yep.  Ever wonder where some of the folklore surrounding Santa Claus came from?  The North Pole, chimney’s, stockings, and Kris Kringle… Hey, I thought this guy’s name was St. Nicholas?

Then enjoy the read… and please, no mushrooms as a gift.

Yes, it’s Halloween and it’s also… Reformation Day!  Last year, I dressed up as Martin Luther (head shaved like a monk and the whole shabang), but no promises this year!

If you don’t know what Reformation Day is, well then, if you’re a Christian, you better get to know your roots!  It was on this day October 31st, 1517 that is credited as the unofficial start of the reformation of the church, the recovery of the gospel, and a call back for the church to stand alone on the authority of the Scriptures, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses (or concerns) to a church door (a common practice by the way for public community announcements).

Justin Holcomb from the Resurgence has a great overview of the 95 theses and the hammer heard around the world… Read it here.

So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where he is there I shall be also!”

— Martin Luther

Very thorough post by the Resurgence on the origins of Halloween and good advice in helping you decide how you should respond as a Christian to this nationwide event.  Here’s a quote from the article…

Halloween has an uneasy history with the church; Christians have not always been sure what to do with a holiday of apparently pagan origins. Is Halloween unredeemable, such that any Christian participating in the holiday will necessarily compromise their faith? Is it something Christians can participate in as a cultural celebration with no religious ramifications? Or is there the opportunity for Christians to emphasize certain aspects of our own faith within the holiday?

Read the whole article here.


It either means….

a) been busy

b) face-t0-face relationships won over the computer screen

c) studying the Word pulled me away

d) God’s been pursuing me

e) All of the above

 

I just circled “e”…