Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Paul W. Martin (page 2 of 3)

Exciting Stuff at GFC

By the lack of posting on my blog, you could infer one of two things. Either there’s nothing going on worth blogging about or there are too many exciting things going on to allow me time to blog. Believe me, it’s the latter.

There are many things I’m really excited about just in the life of Grace Fellowship Church. For instance, yesterday we were blessed to be able to bring into membership eight new members! Praise God! We recently had a baptism service and baptised six believers. Praise God for that!

The past two Sundays we’ve finally been able to get back into the preacher‘s series on the book of John. Yesterday it was a special blessing to consider the death and resurrection of Lazarus, and what it means the Jesus himself is the resurrection and the life. Awesome stuff!

Another thing that I’m really excited about is our Sunday evening teaching series, which is titled, ’26 Questions You Should Be Asking!’ The idea is to answer, in 26 messages, the most important questions you should ever ask.

How do we know they’re important? Because these are the questions that God has answered in his word, and we know that what he’s revealed are the very things we need to know. So the questions God has answered are the questions we should be asking… whether we’ve thought to ask them or not!

Here are links to the first few in the series. The series should take us into July. I’ll post a full list of the questions below as well, so you can see what’s coming.

  1. How Can I Know What is True?
  2. Who Is God?
  3. How Many Gods Are There?
  4. Where Did the World Come From?
  5. Is The World Spinning Out of Control?
  6. What is prayer and What Does it Do?
  7. Are There Other Spiritual Beings?
  8. Why Are We Here?
  9. Is There Any Difference Between Men & Women?
  10. What is Sin and What Difference Does it Make?
  11. Who is Jesus?
  12. Why Did Jesus Die?
  13. Where is Jesus Now?
  14. What is the Gospel?
  15. What Does it Mean to Be Born Again?
  16. What Can I Do About My Guilt?
  17. Will My Life Ever Get Better?
  18. Can I Lose My Salvation?
  19. What Happens When I Die?
  20. Who is the Holy Spirit?
  21. What is the Church?
  22. What is Baptism?
  23. What is the Lord’s Supper?
  24. Where Do I Fit in the Church?
  25. What Will Happen at the End of Time?
  26. What is the ‘After-Life’?

Some More Thoughts on Delight, Part 2

This, of course, is following up on yeterday’s post, and continues where it left off.

Delight Drives Obedience

The heart which is converted is a heart that God has changed, so that is enabled to see that supreme delight is found only in God. This is why Jesus could say in John 14.15, ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.’ He is not speaking of love as a feeling of guilt that compels us to obey when we really don’t want to; rather, he’s speaking of love as the will-directing affection of the converted heart, whose desires conform to the desires of Christ himself.

In other words, I obey because my delight is in God. Therefore, my obedience is my joy, because the commandments he gives are the very things I want to do. Of course, we must not discount the battle of the affections spoken of in places like Romans 7 and Galatians 5, but nevertheless, the inclination of the Christian’s heart is to obey, because we acknowledge that the commands are good, life-giving, and delight-giving (Ps 19.7-10)!

The heart that delights in God is the heart that obeys God’s commands.

Delight Displays God’s Love

Augustine, again, reflected on this great truth. He put it in the form of a question:

‘Why do I mean so much to you, that you should command me to love you? And if I fail to love you, you are angry and threaten me with great sorrow, as if not to love you were not sorrow enough in itself.’

To not love God is to have sorrow. It is to be ever pursuing joy in what can never give it. You are the proverbial hamster, endlessly running in your little wheel hoping that someday, somehow, you’ll finally get where you want to be. But you won’t. That is a great sorrow!

But here is a marvellous thought: The greatest command of God is to love him. To love him is to have delight in him. To have delight in him is to have the very thing we’ve been looking for our whole lives! God commands what we already desire–even though we didn’t know how to get it!

God’s love is displayed in his command to delight in him (cf. Ps 37.4), because this alone is where we will find true joy. What love! He could have demanded anything at all of us, but he commands this: Get great delight in me.

Some More Thoughts on Delight

Over the next couple of days, I’m hoping to toss out some snippets of thoughts that I’ve been reflecting on lately. I’d been hoping to develop each of them more, but time has not allowed. If any of them seem interesting to you, you can develop them on your own a little more.

Our pastor has been preaching on delight as a core value of our church these past two weeks. Last night at TAG I heard from several of our people again, just how revolutionary this has been to them, to think about delighting in God–and how important that it be a core value for us! 

Here are some of the things that stuck out to me as I’ve reflected on the sermons these past few weeks. I’ll give the first two today and then hopefully follow up with some more tomorrow.

 

Delight is Central to Conversion
Here’s how Augustine described his conversion experience:

During all those years [of rebellion], where was my free will? What was the hidden, secret place from which it was summoned in a moment, so that I might bend my neck to your easy yoke? … How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! … You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honour, though not in the eyes of men who see all honour in themselves…. O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation’ (Confessions, trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin, 181; emphasis my own).

For Augustine, delight was the essence of God’s converting grace. Which means, then, that…

 

Delight Displays Grace
Augustine wrote: ‘Without exception we all long for happiness. … All agree that they want to be happy, just as, if they were asked, they would all agree that they desired joy.’ Augustine knew that the will was free–but free only insofar as it would pursue what would bring it joy. In other words, the will is bound only by this rule: it will always seek its pleasure. We all desire true happiness (which is found only in God), but our wills are unable to choose to delight in God, because that would require a change of nature; that is, a change in the object of our heart’s affections.

How can any man’s heart change? Only by God’s grace, changing his nature. Hence, ‘[s]aving grace, converting grace, in Augustine’s view, is God’s giving us a sovereign joy in God that triumphs over all other joys and therefore sways the will’ (John Piper, Legacy of Sovereign Joy, 59; emphasis original). Grace, then, is God’s active changing of our heart’s desires so that we can truly desire him above all else, freely choose him, and as we love him, find in him our true soul’s joy. Our wills are always free to choose to do those things in which we delight, but they are never free to choose what our wills will delight in. That is why we need God’s grace; and that is why delighting in God displays God’s grace. 

The heart that delights in God is not a natural heart–it is a heart that has been supernaturally transformed.

Still Busy… But Excited!

There are at least two things keeping me busy–but also keeping me quite excited right now.

The first is preparing to preach for this Sunday at GFC. We’re going through a series on our 5 Core Values right now. The first two message have been on (1) Truth, and (2) Humility. If the Lord is willing, I will live till Sunday and preach on our fourth value (even though it’s the third in the series… that’s just to confuse people): Freedom. 

I’m aiming to keep the outline the same this week as it’s been for the last two:

  1. What is Freedom?
  2. Why do We Value Freedom?
  3. How do We Value Freedom at GFC?

I’m going to argue that Christians are the only ones who know what real freedom is, even though everyone in the world longs for it and looks for it. It’s been a glorious study so far for me, so I’m hoping that God will bless his people through his Word on Sunday as well.

Toronto Pastors Fellowship

Toronto Pastors Fellowship

The second thing that has got me busy (and excited) this week is our final preparations for the Toronto Pastors Fellowship meetings, which begin on Monday. Our Pastor will be presenting on the need for pastors to be mentoring men in the local church.

I would say that he speaks as an expert, but I’m afraid I’ve disqualified him from that title. But seriously, this is a topic he has taken seriously and worked hard at over the years. I know it will be a blessing to all who attend. Remember to register if you’re planning on coming.

So, please pray. Pray for me as I prepare for Sunday and aim to serve all the other pastors on Monday. Pray for all our volunteers on Monday as well. Pray that God will keep me trusting him, not relying on myself, my strenth, and my abilities–that would only lead to stress. I want to trust in God so that I’ll get the strength, others will be blessed, and God will get all the glory.

For the Kerux…

When I saw this I just had to…

Love

I love our church. So does my pastor. A while ago he posted 34 things he loves about our church.

One Sunday night, when the weather was nice and the service had been over for more than an hour, and people were still hanging around talking to each other outside (because those of us responsible for locking the building had kicked them out), I began to wonder to myself if a church could ever get to a place where her people love each other too much.

I suppose in one sense, that could happen. If our love for each other ever superseded our love for Christ himself, or if our delight was in people, rather than in the God whose image is displayed in those people.

But when I thought about it more, the silliness of such a thought became apparent rather quickly. One can never love another person too much. No one could ever love more than Christ has loved (since this is how we know what love is) and clearly, Christ did not love too much.

But that got me to thinking that I needed a clearer definition of love. You see, when we think of love for another, we think of something which could supersede our delight in Christ, or something which could be taken too far, so that it is not in the other person’s best interest. But really, at that point, it’s not love at all… it’s selfish delight in another person for the gratification of my own fleshly desires for entertainment or companionship or a sense of belonging or whatever else.

So here’s the working definition of love that I came up with to help me evaluate whether I’m really loving someone, or whether I’m just having nice thoughts about them for my own benefit.

Love is

that affection or passion which motivates me to pursue another’s ultimate good, regardless of the cost to myself. 

Feel free to comment on that, if you like. I’m hoping to elaborate on that some more in the days to come.

Strengthened With All Power…

Here’s something I wrote a few years back when the preacher was in Colossians (I think). I just came across it on my computer and so I thought I’d throw it up here in hopes that it might encourage some.

———–

“… strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might,
for the attaining of all steadfastness…”
– Col. 1:11

It is not with any human power that the Christian overcomes sin. In iniquity we are conceived and in iniquity we dwell from the womb to the grave, except by the grace of God. We were all dead in transgressions and sins, and we all served the prince of this world. The Lord looks into our hearts and sees they are desperately wicked and deceitful above all else. He sees that every intention of every thought is only evil continually. He sees that the carnal mind is at enmity with Him and cannot submit itself to Him—nor would it. We were slaves to sin, and without the grace of God at this very moment, you, Christian, are still a slave to your passions. It is only through the strengthening that He provides that we have power. And what power! Were you to live a thousand lives in a thousand lands, you could never behold the great power of our God. When my God appears and demands of man, “Gird up your loins … I will ask you and you will instruct Me”, who is he that can stand? No man can stand before my God.

God has brought us to Christ Jesus and preserved us so that neither tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, death, life, angels, principalities, things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any created thing can separate us from Him! He is the Creator and in Him all things hold together and have their being. Behold the power of your God!

So what is this power to you and to me? It is the power available for the mortifying of sin—the power to make us steadfast. Do you long for integrity? Do you long to see victory in the darkest corners of your heart? Then call on God to give you this power! When temptation comes to despair, remember that when God is for us—though all the world may strive against us—we are more than conquerors through His power!

Are you afraid to ask? Remember Christ’s promise that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” And as Paul encouraged Timothy, we have not been given a spirit of timidity, but one of power! Take hold of this power and destroy the idols in your heart, Christian!

Are you afraid your request will fall on deaf ears? “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Christian, take heart, and go forth this day and be steadfast—for the Lord Himself strengthens you.

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