Archive for the Grace Category

John Coltrane and Ecclesiastes

Posted in Ecclesiastes, Grace, John Coltrane, Music, Tim Keller, Work on October 17, 2013 by kevinwilkening

John ColtraneEarly today, October 17, I posted on Twitter the following: “When Tennessee Ford’s 1955 hit & The Vogue’s 1965 hit make your Ecclesiastes 2:12-26 sermon I am reminded that musicians often speak truth.”

Here is another example of a musician speaking truth. This is an excerpt from John Coltrane’s liner notes inside his 1957 album entitled, “A Love Supreme.” (I have been listening to it all day).

During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which as to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At the time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music. I feel this has been granted through His grace. ALL PRAISE TO GOD …

This album is a humble offering to Him. An attempt to say “THANK YOU GOD” through our work, even as we do in our hearts and with our tongues. May He help and strengthen all men in every good endeavor.

— John Coltrane

*(quote taken from Tim Keller’s book entitled, “Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work”)*

Ecclesiastes 2:24–25 (ESV) — There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?

God Our Help in Ages Past and Years To Come

Posted in Books, Grace, Heaven, John Bunyan, Mercy, Puritans, Suffering, The Pilgrim's Progress, Valley of Vision on March 15, 2013 by kevinwilkening

This has been a particularly difficult couple of weeks. My best friend’s father passed away. A good friend’s mother passed away. Yesterday, my sister-in-law’s father suffered a severe stroke and it looks like he may not make it through the day. In addition, last night the Neely’s one-month old son passed away. All of this sorrow and heartache has once again reminded me of The Pilgrim’s ProgressThe Pilgrim’s Progress is a Christian allegory that was written by John Bunyan, and published in February 1678.

I was thinking particularly of a couple sections. First, when night is falling, and Christian has entered the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Christian finds himself in the middle of the valley amidst gloom and terror, but then he hears the words of the Twenty-third Psalm: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Christian makes it through the night trusting that God is with him. Then, he leaves valley as the sun rises on a new day.

The second is when Christian and Hopeful, having just visited Vanity Fair, are traveling along a particularly rough section of road. They leave the highway to travel on the easier By-Path Meadow. However, there is a rainstorm that forces them to spend the night, and in the morning, they are captured by Giant Despair who takes them to his Doubting Castle where they are imprisoned, beaten and starved. The Giant Despair wants them to commit suicide, but they endure his misery until Christian realizes that he has a key called Promise, which will open all the doors and gates of Doubting Castle. Using the key, they escape. Eventually, Christian and Hopeful come upon some shepherds in the Delectable Mountains. And the shepherds show them some of the wonders of the place also known as “Immanuel’s Land.”

What a helpful allegory for the Christian life! I love The Pilgrim’s Progress for many reasons. However, the reason screaming most loudly to me this morning is: our lives are all pilgrimages, or journeys, or voyages. And all pilgrimages, journeys, or voyages have real danger, and put us in real peril. However, for the Christian, the peril is never experienced apart from God’s grace and His enabling power. Oh, for more grace!

Here is a Puritan prayer entitled “Voyage.” I pray this for my friend, and to my God!

O Lord of the Oceans,

My little bark sails on a restless sea, grant that Jesus may sit at the helm and steer me safely; suffer no adverse currents to divert my heavenward course; let not my faith be wrecked amid storms and shoals; bring me to harbour with flying pennants, hull unbreached, cargo unspoiled.

I ask great things, expect great things, shall receive great things. I venture on thee wholly, fully, my wind, sunshine, anchor, defense.

The voyage is long, the waves high, the storms pitiless, but my helm is held steady, thy Word secures safe passage, they grace wafts me onward, my haven is guaranteed. This day will bring me nearer home, grant me holy consistency in every transaction, my peace flowing as a running tide, my righteousness as every chasing wave.

Help me to live circumspectly, with skill to convert every care into prayer, halo my path with gentleness and love, smooth every asperity (harshness) of temper; let me not forget how easy it is to occasion grief; may I strive to bind up every wound, and pour oil on all troubled waters. May the world this day be happier and better because I live.

Let my mast before me be the Saviour’s cross, and every oncoming wave the fountain in His side.  Help me, protect me in the moving sea until I reach the shore of unceasing praise.

In the words of the great hymn writer, Isaac Watts, “O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.” ~ O God, Our Help in Ages Past ~ by Isaac Watts, 1719.

My friends, may our faithful God grace you on your pilgrimage, and shelter you in the midst of your current storm.

Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being

Posted in Books, Grace, Hope, Humility, Mercy, The Gospel, Zack Eswine on January 23, 2013 by kevinwilkening

Sensing JesusZack Eswine was one of my professors at Covenant Theological Seminary, and he is an excellent communicator of the gospel … but there is more. He knows his own continual need of the gospel, and how that gospel is continuing to shape his life. Justin Taylor just posted this video of Eswine who is the author of Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being, and he talks about significance in ordinary things and in the midst of failure. You should watch this video, and then buy this book.

Believing the Worst of Those Who Love Me Most

Posted in Criticism, Forgiveness, Grace, Mercy, Sin, Tim Challies on December 11, 2012 by kevinwilkening

Challies LogoTim Challies has written an excellent article on the fact that we often believe the worst of those who love us the most. CHBC: this article is worth the read.

I’ve been married to Aileen for more than fourteen years now. In that time she has been loving and loyal and kind and everything else a husband could desire in a wife. She has borne me three children, supported me through career changes, tolerated my sin, prayed me through difficulty, helped me be a man whose church can call him to be their pastor. And yet in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when she in some way displeases me, I can act as if she has never loved me at all, as if she has only ever treated me with contempt. In a moment I can throw out all those years of love and sacrifice and assume that she is now opposed to me, looking out for her interests instead of mine, interested in harming me rather than helping me. In a moment I throw away all these evidences of her love and behave as if she hates me.

You can read the article in its entirety here.

Inspect but Don’t Introspect

Posted in Confession, Discipleship, Grace, Hope, J.C. Ryle, John Piper, Justin Taylor, Mercy, Sin, The Gospel on August 31, 2012 by kevinwilkening

Over the past few months I have been meeting with many people regarding setting aside besetting sins, and growing in the grace and knowledge of God. However, there is one recurring theme: introspection. We are spending so much time looking “inside” ourselves that we are losing our capacity to gaze “outside” ourselves with eyes of faith upon Jesus Christ; the One who sets the captives free.

Justin Taylor has written a timely article for us at CHBC. You can read it in its entirety here. Below I have simply wet your appetite.

Justin Taylor write:

The same apostle who wrote “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Cor. 13:5) wrote in an earlier letter to the same church “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself” (1 Cor. 4:3).

There is a paradox here. I think John Piper gets the balance right: “Periodic self-examination is needed and wise and biblical. But for the most part mental health is the use of the mind to focus on worthy reality outside ourselves.”

J. C. Ryle:

Cultivate the habit of fixing your eye more simply on Jesus Christ, and try to know more of the fullness there is laid up in Him for every one of His believing people.

Do not be always poring down over the imperfections of your own heart, and dissecting your own besetting sins.

Look up.

Look more to your risen Head in heaven, and try to realize more than you do that the Lord Jesus not only died for you, but that He also rose again, and that He is ever living at God’s right hand as your Priest, your Advocate, and your Almighty Friend.

When the Apostle Peter “walked upon the waters to go to Jesus,” he got on very well as long as his eye was fixed upon his Almighty Master and Savior. But when he looked away to the winds and waves, and reasoned, and considered his own strength, and the weight of his body, he soon began to sink, and cried, “Lord, save me.” No wonder that our gracious Lord, while grasping his hand and delivering him from a watery grave, said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Alas! many of us are very like Peter–we look away from Jesus, and then our hearts faint, and we feel sinking (Mat. 14:28-31).

Good News: While We Fail God, God Fails None of His Children

Posted in Forgiveness, Grace, Mark Driscoll, Mercy, The Gospel, Union with Christ on September 28, 2011 by kevinwilkening

All through the Book of Genesis we are being reminded of God’s faithfulness to His covenant people. I saw this yesterday and was so encouraged that I wanted to post it here to remind us of the faithfulness of our covenant keeping God!

 

 

(HT: znielsen)

The Magnitude of His Mercy

Posted in Film, Grace, Mercy, Sovereignty, Suffering on April 6, 2011 by kevinwilkening

Vertus Hardiman hid a shocking secret under a wig & beanie for over 80 years. He was experimented on at age of 5 by a county hospital in Indiana during 1927. Vertus was one of ten children, all experimented on with radiation that day.

But what is more amazing is his response to this tragedy. He states, “I think He [God] wanted this story to be told. I think He wanted it told … to show the magnitude of His mercy.”

(HT: Thabiti Anyabwile)

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