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A Quick Heartfelt Apology

March 29, 2010 Leave a comment

I apologize for mistakenly approving a very bad comment on my most recent post. I thought that the video of Dr. Piper would be edifying and truthful, but it was doctored and very disrespectful of Dr. Piper and more importantly, it was disrepectful to our God. I apologize for that mistake, and I ask the forgiveness especially of those of you who happened to see the video. I did not watch all of that blasphemous video, but I saw enough of it to know that I had made a mistake. That comment is gone now, and I will be posting my own comment on that post shortly.

God bless you all, and I ask that you continue praying for Dr. Piper as his leave of absence approaches. I still support Dr. Piper’s ministries and hope that all of you will support him through your prayers, likewise.

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Please Pray for Pastor John Piper

March 28, 2010 1 comment

Ten minutes ago a friend said something that shocked me: John Piper is taking an eight-month “leave of absence” beginning May 1. Dr. Piper’s sabbatical four years ago was to write What Jesus Demands from the World. Dr. Piper is taking this eight-month leave of absence (he plans to return January 1, 2011) “because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit.”

Dr. Piper writes: “I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry.” I am not going to speculate as to the specifics of these problems. I will merely take Dr. Piper at his word that these problems are there and need to be dealt with.

Further, Dr. Piper writes: “In 30 years, I have never let go of the passion for public productivity. In this leave, I intend to let go of all of it. No book-writing. No sermon preparation or preaching. No blogging. No Twitter. No articles. No reports. No papers. And no speaking engagements,” with the exception of four, three of which are international.

Dr. Piper concludes: “Personally, I view these months as a kind of relaunch of what I hope will be the most humble, happy, fruitful five years of our 35 years at Bethlehem and 46 years of marriage. Would you pray with me to that end? And would you stand by your church with all your might? May God make these eight months the best Bethlehem has ever known. It would be just like God to do the greatest things when I am not there. ‘Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth’ (1 Corinthians 3:7).”

I want us all to notice a few things from Dr. Piper’s letter. Notice Dr. Piper’s determination to kill sin. Pride that “may not [disqualify] me for ministry, grieve[s] me,” Piper writes. Here is a man who is truly passionate for God and the gospel, yet he grieves over his perceived sins to the point that he is taking an eight-month leave of absence and even abstaining from all public appearances—even electronically over the Internet. This faithful preacher of God says, “I’m sorry.” For those of you who have never heard one of Piper’s sermons or watched a video of one of them on YouTube, I urge you to familiarize yourself with this man’s apparent holiness and utter zeal for God—and he says, “I’m sorry”! This amazes me. And humbles me. So much more should I apologize for my sins! Piper is utterly determined to kill his perceived sin so that he can “relaunch” his final five years of ministry at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN.

From Dr. Piper’s sudden announcement of a leave of absence, let us glean some helpful applications:

  • Let us all be determined to kill sin in our lives no matter what the cost.
  • Let us all pray for humility.
  • Let us all be humble.

In conclusion, I ask that you pray for John Piper. I also ask that you pray for your own pastors. I finally ask that you pray for me. I struggle with sin even as John Piper does, if not more. Pride soils everything it touches, and I apologize for those times it has soiled my own ministry. I ask you to join with me in praying that pride will not soil the your pastors’, John Piper’s, and my own ministry.

God bless you all, and may He forgive us our many sins … starting with pride. May we all begin to kill all vestiges of pride in our lives and replace pride with humility.

Heart-Breaking Love

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Last night, I read a most wonderful poem by George Herbert on the Desiring God website. I thank Tyler Kenney for posting this poem first and exposing me to it; God really used this poem to get me to think about Christ’s love on the cross and how it is that which ultimately “breaks” us in order to truly give us life.

Throw away thy rod,
Throw away thy wrath:
                         O my God,
Take the gentle path.

For my heart’s desire
unto thine is bent:
                         I aspire
To a full consent.

Not a word or look
I affect to own,
                         But by book,
And thy book alone.

Though I fail, I weep:
Though I halt in pace,
                         Yet I creep
To the throne of grace.

Then let wrath remove;
Love will do the deed:
                         For with love
Stony hearts will bleed.

Love is swift of foot;
Love’s a man of war,
                         And can shoot,
And can hit from far.

Who can scape his bow?
That which wrought on thee,
                         Brought thee low,
Needs must work on me.

Throw away thy rod;
Though man frailties hath,
                         Thou art God:
Throw away thy wrath.

I later posted the following comment to Kenney’s Facebook post: “Praise God that is it by His love revealed in Christ on the Cross that our stony unregenerate hearts bleed in repentance and faith!”

Fellow Christians, look to the cross as you read this poem and think about what it’s saying. “With love stony hearts will bleed.” It is the Spirit-given revelation, the deep, heartfelt conviction that it is our sins that slaughtered our Lord and that His death actually saves us from our sins and death that breaks our hearts and makes us bleed. Bleed with me, fellow Christian. Bleed afresh before our loving Father who disciplines us out of love. To those of you without Christ, hear the words of Jesus on the cross, and may the Holy Spirit reveal God’s love to you and make your stony heart bleed in repentance and faith for the first time:

And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." –Luke 23:34

To Die in Peace

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Mark the blameless (ESV) and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. Psalm 37:37, KJV

This verse concluded Eastside Baptist’s revival services. And what an appropriate way to conclude them, too. For just as this verse deals with the “end of [the blameless and upright] man” so this verse also ended our services. Tonight, Bro. Currin preached on how to die in peace. He opened with the following exposition of this verse:

Pay careful attention to the word blameless, which means to be morally upright, pious, righteous in character and practice. This man is the true Christian. Closely examine the upright, for the end of such people, true Christians, is peace. Peace means safety, wellness, or happiness in the original Hebrew.

What marks the blameless and upright, the true Christian, though? Humility (Psalm 37:11). Hunger for righteousness (and thus for Christ, who is our righteousness; Matthew 5:6). Holiness (Matthew 5:8).

All true Christians die in peace. Jesus said in John 8:51, “If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste death.” Before tonight, I thought that this teaching referred to spiritual death, but somehow even in that thought I felt within my heart to be distorting Christ’s words. Tonight, through gracious exposition of this very verse’s meaning, Bro. Currin showed me to be wrong, and I am so thankful and so joyful to know that Christ’s words are truly transparent and are literal! Our Savior was not speaking metaphorically and He did not lie; those who keep Christ’s word—true Christians—will never taste death! Praise God! Even Luke 16:22, which says that Lazarus died, does not mean that he ceased to live in any way; the original Greek actually means a dying. Christians don’t die, they transition—they transcend—into eternity! Praise the Lord! In 1 Thessalonians 4:14, we read that Christians sleep in Jesus, not to mean soul sleep but that we are secure; our spirit is at rest with Jesus, as 2 Corinthians 5:8 makes clear. The Bible does not present heaven so much as a place but as being with a Person—Jesus Christ. Death is not the end but only the beginning!

We see throughout the Bible and church history that the end of Christians is peace. See Genesis 49:3 and Luke 16:22 for Biblical pictures of peace at the moment of dying, transitioning into heaven. When John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, was in jail and his daughter Mary was dying, he could not go to her bedside. But at her entrance into heaven, Mary said, “Tell my papa that I will see him in the celestial city.” What peace! … Contrastingly, there is only indescribable torment at the deaths of those outside of Christ. Modern medicines and morphine have largely taken the horrid wails from this experience, but look at Luke 16:22-24; the rich man is not tormented by flame, he is tormented in flame. The fires of hell were and are all-consuming. When Voltaire, the noted French atheist, was on his deathbed for many months, he would cry out with such vehemence that his friends guarded his door so that others would not see the horror of the death of an infidel. Voltaire’s nurse was so disturbed that she said that she would not take all the gold of Europe to see another infidel die. Voltaire literally got a small taste of hell when he gnashed his teeth in rage at God and man even before he crossed hell’s threshold.

To die in peace, make your calling and election sure (2 Peter 1). Resolve to live walking in the fear of the Lord. Live with no regrets—follow God with all that you have and all that you are! Live and die purposefully for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

I leave you with Isaiah 55:1, 6-7 and links to five previous articles I have posted that will hopefully help you live so that when you die, you can die in the everlasting peace of the Lord.

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. … Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

10 Ways to Make (Your) Marriage Count for Eternity

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

It is the grace of God that sustains marriage. Marriage is not something to be wasted, but so many today—even professing Christians—do waste it. Marriage should glorify God but so many don’t; so many are wasted. Two things waste marriage: neglect and ignorance of God’s purposes in marriage. In tonight’s revival meeting message, Bro. Don Currin brought out 10 things that can help make (your) marriage count for eternity and not be wasted.

  1. Believe that it is God’s will to conform you to Christ. Marriage is a wonderful opportunity to die to self and grow spiritually, conforming to Christ. God makes no mistakes; your marriage partner is the one you need.Compatibility, on which popular dating site eHarmony stakes its claim, is nothing. No one will truly be compatible for you; what matters is to marry someone you will be equally yoked to. The key is to trust God to work all things—even conflicts and hardships in marriage—for your good IF you love Him (Romans 8:28). God will move in a marital conflict for His glory. God is at work for your very sanctification in marriage. Reconciliation throughout marriage is tough; our flesh does not lose a leg quietly. But we come out of such conflicts more like Christ—or we should. Yield to God in your marriage; trust Him. God will use your marriage to conform you to Christ. What may be helpful is for you to compete with your spouse in thoughtful self-denial. See who can die to self first.
  2. See that marriage should mirror the relationship between Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:32 expresses this beautifully: “This mystery [of marriage] is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” The interactions between two spouses reflect Christ and the church. Portray Christ and the church, then, well. Sacrificial love for your wife, husbands, and speaking truth to her and lavishing her with love show Christ’s love for His church. Wives, your unconditional submission to your husband (except when he tells you to sin) and loving, devoted yielding portrays the church’s submission and respect for Christ.
  3. Recognize that God intends marriage to bear witness to the gospel. The ultimate goal of marriage is to exalt the Savior; it is not self-fulfillment or sexual gratification. Marriage should show the glory of God in salvation, for who but God could cause a husband to sacrificially love his wife and a wife to submit joyfully to her husband? Your godly, Christ-centered marriage is a great witness to lost relatives and lost children.
  4. See that your companion’s character flaws and physical handicaps are God-given ministry opportunities for you to develop greater love for your spouse and so serve the Lord your God. The presence of a man of God in a home can be a conduit for God to bless and heal spiritually and/or physically his wife, and vice-versa. God’s providence is behind even the flaws and illnesses of your spouse—again, we come back to Romans 8:28. Consider the preacher McQuilken, who was the head of one of the most eminent Bible colleges of his time. He left this prestigious post against the advice of many godly friends to care for his wife, who was dying of Alzheimer’s. This illustration from Bro. Currin’s sermon struck close to home with me. I had three great grandparents to die of Alzheimer’s, one of whom was a woman. As one called to full-time pastoral ministry, one of the greatest dangers I will face once married is to neglect my spouse for the work of the ministry. But every married Christian’s primary ministry is to his or her spouse before anyone or anything else! For in serving your spouse, you serve Christ. Such a beautiful truth. Notice the profundity of McQuilken’s words: “I don’t have to serve my [ailing, dying] wife; I get to serve my wife!” Praise God for such an attitude! And may God bless each of us with the same attitude.
  5. View yourself as the beneficiary of glorious providence, not as a victim of a bad choice. Marriage is a blessing. If you marry, marriage is the will of God for your life. Marriage is a permanent blessing of God! Romans 8:28, again, is true even in marriage. As Nick Saban said in a press conference after the national championship game, “The grass is always greener over the septic tank.” Don’t have a victim-mentality; realize that your spouse is a blessing from God.
  6. Believe that you can more effectively serve God with your spouse than without. Robbert Murray McCheyne once said to his wife, “The Christ in me will not fight the Christ in you.” Oh, if all married Christians would realize this and cling to this truth! Oh, if every Christian would cling to this truth! Christ is not divided, nor should believing spouses be divided! Don’t serve independent of your mate; involve him or her in your Christian service. The wife can so aid her husband spiritually! Bro. Don’s very personal illustration at this point really struck home with me. More and more I realize that marriage is a companionship, a lifelong commitment to companionship between two people. What strikes me here—and I am thankful for Bro. Currin’s illustration of this very truth in his life with his wife—is the importance to let your spouse be there for you. Be open and transparent your spouse. To put it biblically, be one flesh!
  7. Understand that answered prayer depends on the honor you show to your spouse. Pray for God to reveal problems in your marriage—do not sin in your marriage. It is so important here to regularly pray with your spouse!
  8. Build a more loving and enduring relationship; don’t waste time on carnal indulgences, such as football or TV programs, or even your children or work! Let nothing supersede the importance of personal prayer! Don’t let your entertainment or worldly success in the workplace be more important than spending intentional time with your spouse in prayer! Bro. Currin mentioned one preacher who would go away with his wife once a month to a remote place and they would take prayer walks together. I think that is a wonderful idea; personal prayer walks are wonderful, but if you are married, take prayer walks with your spouse. If possible, do so more often (though maybe not in a remote place for a whole night) than once a month.
  9. Live out your role as husband or wife in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. “Do not be drunk with wine but continue to be being filled (original Greek) with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:16). We need the fullness of the Spirit for all things—including sacrificial love (husbands) and joyful submission (wives). Note that all the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5) are relational. Note that love heads the list. Love is not something we do on our own; love is something that God Himself by His Holy Spirit enables us to do.Trust in the Lord; don’t manipulate your spouse in your anger (which is a fruit of the flesh, same chapter). Respond rather in a Christ-like way. Pray for the filling of the Spirit in faith (Luke 11:13). God will keep giving to you (original Greek) the Holy Spirit in bountiful measure if you ask in faith, regardless of circumstance or (lack of) emotion.
  10. Live marriage to the glory of God. Recall Psalm 34:3-4 “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together! I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” What a beautiful verse for two spouses! Your marriage should bring glory to God and exude the grace of Christ to others, especially your family. Glorifying God should direct your every step in marriage and in life.

Is your marriage counting for eternity? Or are you wasting it? If you are wasting your marriage, confess to the Lord, for He is faithful and just to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

For those of you who aren’t married but have read all this and think, “How does this apply to me?” know that it does apply to you. Unless you are called to celibacy—and if you are called you are equipped—then you will one day be married. I’m in the same boat as you are, unmarried reader. Applying these truths now is what will be difficult. But we do need to apply these truths now so that we can apply them once we get married. If we cannot apply them now, we cannot apply them when another sinner like us enters the equation. Here are some practical things that I think will help us unmarried Christians prepare to be godly husbands or wives:

  1. Intentionally do all things to the glory of God.
  2. Pray continually to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. Like the married people who pray this, we must thank God for filling us even when we don’t feel filled.
  3. Cultivate humility. Think of others as more important than yourself.
  4. Know what biblical marriage is,
  5. and begin praying that God would prepare you for a Biblical marriage.
  6. Pray also for your future spouse, that God would prepare them for your marriage. NOTE: do not pray for God to prepare a specific person for you to marry, for until you are actually married and the vows have been said, you don’t know for sure who you will wind up marrying. (Rather, pray saying “my future spouse” going in no further detail than that.) And also note that it is more important to pray that God prepare you, for if you develop godliness, then even if your spouse has serious sins (see points 4 and 5 above), you will be able to be a good spouse to them.
  7. Do not make poor decisions now that you will regret later. Be wise in your dating (or courtship, whichever term you prefer … for the Christian, the two should be one and the same); good resources here are Josh Harris’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl. Again, even now while you prepare for marriage, seek to glorify God in everything. (I really should post a blog on Biblical principles for courtship/dating sometime in the future.)

Thanks again to Bro. Currin for his sermon; I trust that God will use it to help us all be (or become) better wives or husbands. I also thank his wife for being his faithful wife for so many years. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them over this week, and I look forward to seeing them by God’s grace tomorrow. For those of you who can come, Eastside Baptist’s final revival service for this series of meetings begins at 7 PM tomorrow.

Don’t Walk the Way of Cain

March 22, 2010 Leave a comment

We begin in the book of Jude, 7-13. In these verses, Jude warns his readers against apostasy. Apostasy is not the loss of salvation; apostasy occurs when a person who has verbally claimed but ultimately abandons the faith which he or she never possessed (see 1 John 2:19). In Jude 11, there are three allusions to past apostates: Cain, Balaam, and Korah. In this verse, we see that professors of religion who do not really have religion “walked in the way of Cain.” They pursued the way of Cain with extreme passion; they pursue greed like Balaam and seek to rule the people of God through dishonest means like Korah.

“The way of Cain” is the lifestyle of Cain. Cain was a man of unbelief and apostasy. Many today forget that conversion is not a decision, it is a way. Conversion is best expressed in a person’s way of life. If you have really believed and repented, you will continue to believe and repent. The problem today is that people pray a prayer but do not have a truly changed heart: they have prayed a prayer but do not have the faith that saves. In short, such people deceive themselves. Are you deceiving yourself tonight? Are you clinging to an empty profession that has produced no fruit? If you are, you may find yourself clinging to nothing but smoke in the wind. The question to ask yourself is “Am I following Christ now?” Christianity isn’t a mere decision; it is a lifestyle, a path, a way—the way of Christ, not the way of Cain.

We read about the way of Cain firsthand in Genesis 4. But let’s establish some blessed privileges that Cain possessed but that ultimately did not result in Cain’s conversion.

  • Cain had two monuments of God’s grace as parents. Cain’s parents were among the saved; they had experienced for themselves God’
  • He lived without the contamination of corrupt society. We today live in a corrupt society that continually bombards our minds with obscenities, but Cain lived before society’s conception.
  • Cain was homeschooled! He learned life directly from his parents. Homeschooling is an excellent thing to do (and I personally hope to write more about this in future posts), but homeschooling alone does not guarantee a child’s salvation.
  • Cain had a godly brother—one of the heroes of the OT listed in Hebrews 11.
  • Cain had direct communication with God—God spoke audibly to Cain.
  • God gave Cain both a promise and a warning. Cain knew what any action he were to commit would result in.

But all these blessed privileges did not result in Cain’s conversion. Cain had all these good things going for them, he had a perfect pedigree, but he was apostate and unregenerate!

But what, exactly, is the way of Cain?

  1. It is the way of works (v. 3). Cain’s offering is the fruit of his own labor. It was faithless (Hebrews 11:4). It was bloodless (Hebrews 9:22). It was heartless (Matthew 15:8) and fruitless (Matthew 11:13).
  2. It is the way of wrath (v. 5). Cain wasted away with envy. If things don’t go your way, and you find yourself always becoming angry (Galatians 5), you may be walking in the way of Cain.
  3. It is the way of willfulness (v. 7). Cain was always self-willed. People who walk in the way of Cain are narcissistic and individualistically stubborn.
  4. It is the way of worldly sorrow (vv. 11 & 13), which does not lead to salvific repentance. Sorrow without repentance is not of God—it is of the world and leads to eternal death. Cain was only concerned for his own welfare rather than his sin against God. Cain heard his own cries of self-pity, but he did not hear the cries of his brother’s blood.
  5. It is the way of wandering (v. 16). Cain flees from God’s presence and wanders.
  6. It is the way of the world (v. 17). Cain built a city. Don’t be a workaholic and drown your conscience in industry. Don’t swallow guilt with with the TV or mindless entertainment.

“The way of Cain began with a bloodless sacrifice and ended with a graceless eternity.” –Don Currin. And so it is today. The way of Cain—the broad road that leads to destruction—begins with human works, works that do not save, and it still ends with a graceless eternity in hell. The way of Christ—the narrow road that leads to salvation—begins before time began and is realized in Christ’s sacrifice, Christ’s atonement for the sins of all who would ever come and keep coming (John 6:37). The true Christian perseveres. The true Christian is transformed. Are you in the way of Cain, or are you actively following in the way of Christ? I leave you with 2 Corinthians 5:15-17, which Bro. Currin quoted in his sermon tonight:

And He [Christ] died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

At Ease in Zion

March 21, 2010 Leave a comment

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure in the mountains of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! … Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, … who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile, and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away.” (Amos 6:1, 4, 6-7)

In Amos 6:1-8, God speaks through the prophet Amos. This prophet, a farmer, preaches a word of woe. The Lord declares: “Woe to those who are at ease!” Like the Israelites before us, the North American Church is “at ease.” Many people who profess to be Christians come to church but are indifferent and nominal about their faith. The fact is, an empty profession is just that: empty, worth nothing. Because true conversion is transformation (2 Corinthians 5:16). Faith without works, as James writes, is dead! An amazing thing about conversion is not others seeing change in you, but you seeing changes in yourself. Our culture of affluence leads to apathy, which, if left unchecked, will lead to apostasy. We see in this passage what it is to be at ease and the effects of being at ease. This leads us to answer the question, “How can we get out of ease? How can we stir again a passion for God?”

What It Is to Be at Ease
v. 1: The Hebrew translates literally to careless—The Israelites were fatally complacent. To be at ease is to neglect God, to neglect prayer, to neglect Bible reading, to neglect true worship. Christ not only delivered us from eternal damnation but also from the world and from ourselves! Are you zealous for God, or are you careless, are you at ease?

Effects of Being at Ease
1. Complacency for approaching judgment (v. 3). Those at ease dismiss thoughts of judgment from their minds. Do you think about judgment? Do you think about God’s holy wrath for sin? Or are you at ease, do you act as if you don’t need God?
2. Love for pleasure more than love for God (v. 4). These Israelites spared no expense for temporal comfort, and today we largely spare no expense for comfort, either. If you are at ease, you love the world and its pleasures more than you love God. And if you love the world, you are an enemy of God (James 4:1-10).
3. Growing insensitivity toward those around you (v. 6). Joseph refers to the common people. When you are at ease, you ignore the needs and plights of others, you have no compassion for them. What are you doing with the money God has blessed you with?

How to Stir Yourself out of Being at Ease
1. Remove anything that wanes passion. cf. Acts 24:16
2. Resolve to be a person of eternity. Always keep eternity in view.
3. Don’t count your life dear to yourself. cf. Acts 20:24
4. Never be content with where you are spiritually. John Piper refers to this as a “holy dissatisfaction.” We should always be striving for the goal, we should always be running so that when we reach the end of our lives, we can say that we have run a good race!

“Faith alone saves, but faith is never alone. … Persevere or perish.” –Don Currin

The above notes are largely verbatim from tonight’s sermon preached by Don Currin. I thank him for his faithful exposition of God’s Word in Amos.

What will we do with this, my brothers and sisters in Christ? Will we repent where we need to repent (for all of us have need for improvement—see “holy dissatisfaction”), or will we be at ease in Zion? I urge you, do not be at ease in Zion. Cultivate within your heart always a passion and zeal for the things of God, for “things that are above” (Colossians 3:2). I urge you to pursue God, thereby making your calling and election sure.

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