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This is a powerful and concise summation of the message Piper passionately delivers. 3 minutes, and worth much more.

Tell me if you are moved by that as much as I was.

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powerful_prayer_t_notextDear readers,
For the next 3 days, God’s glory will be displayed as His name is proclaimed by the mouths of children in daycares. For the past year, I have had the privilege to work with a group of children (ages 7 to 13), training them to share their faith. The staff team has put in many hours with the children, and their parents have put in many more as the children do parent-child work at home, memorizing scripture and working through homework from Children Desiring God.

Will you please pray for us as we go out to share the gospel in daycares for the next three days? We need the Holy Spirit to work in hearts, even our own hearts, for God’s glory as we witness. The staff team of 6 need strength and wisdom. Our heart’s cry is to model for the children a God-centered view of missions; will you join with us in prayer? Hundreds of kids will hear the gospel of Christ Jesus proclaimed.

Please send this prayer request on to any prayer warriors you know. We don’t just ask for your prayer. We plead for you to pray. We plead with you to pray Scripture for us. The power of prayer to move God is undeniable. I’d love to know how many of you are praying for us, it will be an encouragement for our staff and children. Thank you all.

This article was my reading before bed tonight, something to spur my mind to meditate. It was successful enough to merit sharing.

Excerpt: “After some deliberation, they conceived a question that would surely hang Jesus on the horns of a dilemma. Either answer would incriminate him, divide the crowd, and give them cause to arrest him.
On Monday morning, as Jesus was teaching in the temple, the appointed delegation made their way to him through the crowd. The spokesman loudly asked, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”
Jesus, sitting, leaned back a bit and squinted up at them. The tension was thick.
Then he answered, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, where did it come from? From heaven or from man?”
This was a stunning counter. They faltered. The crowd began to murmur. Their hesitation was humiliating.”

Click to read: Exposing the idol of self-glory, by Jon Bloom.

837127_98553547Thy will be done
The Lord’s prayer offers insight for the bewildered saint who is struggling for answers, for it offers hope of clear vision through clouds of personal interests and biases. This clear vision can be found when we fall to our knees with a heart that cries “thy will be done.” The cry relinquishes all personal control, transfers it wholly to the Father, and submits to His sovereignty, which is an act of faith in His goodness coupled with a distrust of self’s ability to perceive things clearly. God’s will then engulfs our own and nails self to the cross to die.

Be Thou My Vision
Then we see, and we can at last trust in the Lord with all our heart, not leaning on our own understanding, but following the straight path of His will. Only humility paired with faith will lead us to this straight path found on the stones of surrender that break the heart of its arrogant attempts to trust its own vision.

Approaching God’s Word
This surrendered attitude leads us to come to God’s Word in communion seeking His will instead of coming to the Bible as a self-help reference book of proof texts useful for justifying our fleshly desires. If these fleshly desires are willing to be counted as rubbish if God labels them so, then we are free to read His Word more objectively in search for guidance. Our difficult decision will not suddenly become easy, yet the Truth can shine light to enable us to discern rubbish from treasure. All that glitter is not gold. In low light, tin foil gum wrappers gleam. Oh how we need our righteousness to be brought forth like the light as we walk a path committed to the Lord. As we walk that path, God’s Word is the appropriate nourishment for for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil .

2 Tactics for decision making
Because we believe God’s Word holds the key to spiritual discernment, we will use tactics based on Scripture when endeavoring to separate rubbish from treasure.

1. Seek God in the quiet. Since it is difficult to hear the Holy Spirit through the noise- audible or mental- that busyness creates, it is best if we will slow down and be still before God. To-do lists sitting on the desk, music blaring from the iPod, deadlines pulling us into a rush, inboxes overflowing with email, texts that demand a response, and our many other activities add to the busyness and keep us from ever having an uninterrupted moment to meditate in quiet wonder upon the glory of God. Yet God promises wisdom to those who will come before Him and make their request. Another Biblical idea that I am still exploring is seeking God in His sanctuary, literally. In Psalm 73:16-17, things become clear in God’s sanctuary. It was also where Hezekiah went to seek the Lord after receiving a difficult letter from the King of Assyria. The letter was laid before God on the temple steps, and God guided Hezekiah (Anyone have thoughts on that? I will try to explore it more, and maybe even give it a try next time I face a difficult decision).

2. Seek wise counsel. We are in a position of weakness whenever our heart is in the matter. Because we can be easily deceived and hardened by sin, we must go to someone who is willing to be honest with us. Qualities to look for in our counselor are spiritual insight, a gift of discernment, a strong relationship with God, and knowledge of the Bible. It is spiritual arrogance to believe we can find the answer from the inside without help from the body. Sure, we might find the answer alone, but two can stand stronger and a three-fold cord is not easily broken.

The bottom line
We need spiritual discernment, not a cookie-cutter 3-step solution for dealing with difficult spiritual decisions that the heart has tangled with justifications and excuses. For example: “Is the Lord telling me to give up my lawful, yet unprofitable rubbish?” Spiritual discernment to know the difference between unprofitable rubbish (even if lawful) and profitable treasure is developed by feeding on God’s Word. The question ought to be brought before God in the quiet, and before a brother or sister in Christ who advise me from outside the tangle.

One last note
Let’s give God room to work His will. We must listen to what He wants to say, not only what we want to hear. The answer may hurt or break us, plowing up follow ground in order for the rain of righteousness to pour down. We may feel insecure and helpless in the fact of vast uncertainty, as Abram might have felt when God called Him to leave his home and go to a land untold.

What would these principles look like in practice?
In the next post in this series, we will dissect a difficult decision, a recent story of God breaking my own heart and revealing sin. We can see what went wrong, and what worked. We will see that my story is not a story of my faithfulness, but of God’s faithfulness in spite of my lack.

What are your thoughts? What has helped you sort out difficult decisions?

human-errorIn less about 2 minutes, this video defends the reliability of the Bible by showing the error is using “humans make mistakes” as an attack on Biblical inerrancy.

Cleck here for video

NRBVResource: This is a short, easy read by By Gregory Koukl that explains the value of reading more than one verse during quiet time. According to Greg, it is “the most important thing I could ever teach you.”

He goes on: “If there was one bit of wisdom, one rule of thumb, one single skill I could impart, one useful tip I could leave that would serve you well the rest of your life, what would it be?  What is the single most important practical skill I’ve ever learned as a Christian?  Never read a Bible verse.  That’s right, never read a Bible verse.  Instead, always read a paragraph (at least) if you want to unlock the meaning of a passage.”

Click to download the resource

confused-1The gray areas: here comes confusion
Our hearts will recoil after the Holy Spirit identifies pieces of rubbish that we have treasured, and a battle with ensue. Why is it difficult to let go of rubbish? Because difficult choices frequently deal with grey areas where easy answers and clear cut lines are nonexistent. How then can we make sense of the grey areas? We will continue to cling to the rubbish as long we see potential for value. We will only discard rubbish once we count it as loss. Thus, we need a way to inspect and assay our treasures.

Know your heart
First, we must know our hearts.

Our hearts are deceitful
It is deceitful and desperately wicked.  Following the advice to “just follow your heart” will lead you down a crooked path. We must account for these facts if we are to ever deal with the heart on realistic terms when making decisions.

Our hearts do not want to be broken
An aversion to pain is planted so deep within the heart that the seeker of spiritual brokenness will be met almost instantly with a barrage of justifications aimed to lock the heart within the bounds of comfort. This bias frustrates attempts at spiritual discernment. While the Holy Spirit speaks through God’s word on one side, our human idols of comfort, ease, and temporal pleasure beckon to us on the other.

Ploys of the heart to deceive
Since we know that the heart is deceitful and will attempt to avoid brokenness or discomforted, we can apply this knowledge to decision making. The our hearts use justifications to muddy the waters, allowing garbage to infiltrate the treasury. If we call garbage what it is, we probably would not let it into the treasury. Yet our hearts desire the garbage- we fall for sin’s lie that it will be more satisfying than righteousness- so we let it slip in under another name that justifies its presence in the treasury. What are some of these justifications?

  • Others do it
  • The Bible doesn’t say it is specifically wrong
  • It is a spiritual benefit
  • I need to do this to be able to relate to the world
  • Not all non-spiritual things are evil

Now what?
The problem is [at least] twofold. First, each of the justifications have a valid argument behind that counters what the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Justifications capitalize off of the uncertainty and obscurity of the situation, causing us to doubt whether or not we are hearing the Holy Spirt or just our own mind. The simple yet strong justification is difficult to dismiss, and attempting to do so feels like getting caught in the crossfire between friendly forces. We doubt, then second guess the sound, then doubt the second guess. Second, something deadly within our heart actually desires the forbidden. We want to do right, yet there is a rival desire for fleshly evil. Our flesh has an edge often simply because of our selfish desire for worldly pleasure, passion that wage war against our soul. The justifications  we produce are often a giveaway that this a fleshly desire exists and can not get past our conscience unless rigorously justified. But can we label confidently label that fleshly desire evil? Can we label the thing we desire evil? If it is evil, how to we find out? What if is lawful, just not profitable? How can we move past the justifications to sort it all out?

We will begin to tackle all of that in the next post.

Can you think of other justifications the heart uses, maybe from your own experience?


Related posts:
The value of garbage is still zero (Part 1)