How To Wake Up

In a sermon on How to Begin Every Day with God, based on the text, “My voice you shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to you, and I will look up” (Psalm 5:3), Matthew Henry gives eight reasons why we should wake up with prayer.

1. The morning is the first part of the day, and it is fit that He that is the first should have the first and be first served.

2. In the morning we are fresh and lively, and in the right frame due to our spirits being refreshed by sleep.

“Worshipping God is work that requires the best powers of the soul, when they are at their best.”

3. In the morning we are most free from company and business, and ordinarily have the best opportunity for solitude and retirement.

4. In the morning we have received fresh mercies from God which we are concerned to acknowledge with thankfulness to His praise.

 ”Many lie down to sleep and never rise again – but we have slept and waked again, rested and refreshed.”

5. In the morning we have fresh matter ministered to us for adoration of the greatness and glory of God in the common good of the universe (Psalm 19).

“How many thousands of miles has the sun travelled this last night, to bring the light of the morning to us poor sinful wretches that justly might have been buried in the darkness of the night!”

6. In the morning we have, or should have had fresh thoughts of God and sweet meditations on his name, and these we ought to offer up to him in prayer.

7. In the morning we find cause to reflect upon many vain and sinful thoughts that have been in our minds in the night season; and it is necessary that we apply for the pardon of them.

“Dare we go abroad till we have renewed our repentance, which we are every night making new work for?”

8. In the morning we are addressing ourselves to the work of the day, and therefore are concerned by prayer to seek unto God for His presence and blessing.

“Pray for God’s presence and blessing…for our families…for wisdom to manage our callings…for opportunities to do good….for preservation from evil.”

A Readable And Enjoyable Book On Apologetics!

IVP sent me this book a couple of years ago and it went straight to my shelves unopened. I mean, 750 pages on apologetics! Who wants to read that unless they really have to?

But a couple of weeks ago I had cause to take it down, dust it off, and have a look inside. And I was stunned. Despite its intimidating size, and despite it being an apologetics textbook, it was one of the best reads I’ve enjoyed in a long time. I know, it’s hard to imagine putting these three words in a headline – apologetics, readable, and enjoyable – but, really, that’s what this book is.

The only bit I struggled with was the brief section on Alvin Plantinga’s philosophy, but I don’t expect ever to fully understand that this side of eternity.

Instead of interacting with alternative Christian apologetic schools of thought (there are only a few paragraphs on Van Til’s presuppositionalism). Groothius’s agenda was to write a comprehensive and accessible book on classical Christian apologetics. He has succeeded magnificently.

Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith by Douglas Groothius.

What Dawkins, Hawking, and Harris Know About God

How would you like to peer into the mind of Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, and Sam Harris to see what they really think about God? Romans 1:18-32 lets us do just that. There God tells us what every atheist knows about God.

“But, how do they know anything about God when they don’t go to Church, read the Bible, etc?”

The Apostle Paul says that the invisible things of God are made plain to everyone through the made things (v. 19). In other words, the creation reveals the Creator to all creatures. “What may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them” (v. 20). And he shows it to them through what He has made. Just as handwriting tells us something about the writer, and just as a painting tells us something about a painter, so God’s creation tells everyone, even atheists, a lot about God.

And what does the visible creation tell every atheist about the invisible Creator?

1. God exists. If they clearly see God’s invisible attributes (v. 19), then they obviously know He exists. As verse 21 says, “They know God.”

2. God is eternal. They know that there is a being who had no beginning and will never end (v. 20).

3. God is powerful. They have an eerie sense of God’s overwhelming almightiness (v. 20).

4. God is God. They not only know His eternal power but His eternal Godhead (v. 20). This is not someone just a bit bigger then themselves, but a wholly other kind of being, a transcendent God.

5. God is angry. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against ungodly and unrighteous men (v. 18). Even atheists tremble in the thunder.

6. God will judge. Not only do they know God is presently angry with sin, but that he will justly judge it in the future (v. 32)

7. God is good. God has left a witness to His goodness everywhere in the regularity of seasons and harvests (Acts 14:17)

8. God is glorious. Day after day, and night after night, the fingerprints of God in His creation preaches “God is glorious, God is glorious” (Ps. 19:1-3). Every people and land have hear this sermon every day.

So why do Harris, Hawking, and Dawkins not believe this daily sermon that’s so full of theology?

Let me use the TV to illustrate Paul’s explanation. God transmits a clear signal, and people receive a clear signal (v. 19-20). However, the viewers turn down the volume, they hold down or suppress the truth in unrighteousness (v. 18).

When that doesn’t work, they try to change the channels. They know they should worship, but they exchange the glory of God for idols (v. 22). They know there is truth to believe, but they exchange the truth of God for a lie (v. 25). They know there is a morality to govern relationships, but they exchange natural sexual relations for unnatural (v. 26).

When the signal still gets through, they try and switch off the TV, they do everything they can to get rid of this unwanted knowledge (v. 28), and then ultimately try to drown out the remaining message by ungodly lives (v. 29-31). But Paul says, despite these desperate attempts, despite all their protestations and denials, “They still know the judgment of God” (v. 32). They cannot escape the certain fact that they will one day meet a divine judge.

What grace!
What grace! That God makes such a generous daily revelation to a world which daily spurns, mocks, rejects and attacks his revelation! No ordinary artist would persevere when his handiwork was treated like this.

What madness! That men and women should reject such precious and valuable knowledge, and admire themselves as wise in the process (v. 22).

What privilege! This revelation of God through creation is often called general revelation because it is given to all. But it cannot save anyone.  General revelation can only show us our need, and give hints that God’s goodness may supply our need. But it cannot save us. It can only leave us without excuse. To be saved we need an extra revelation, a special revelation. That’s why God gave us His written and enfleshed Word. If we have that, we are highly privileged. But to whoever much is given, much will be required.

What hope! As we evangelize, we are not evangelizing blank slates. We are not starting with total ignorance. We are going to people who already know much about God. There are already mental sockets prepared for the truth of God’s Word to fit into and to explain.

Dawkins, Hawking, Harris & co will vehemently deny all this. But they know. And you know. And we know you know. And we only want you to know more, to know the Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

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Why Are We So Unhappy?

“Oh trust in the Lord for happiness as well as for help! All the springs of happiness are in him.” Charles Spurgeon

Every recent poll agrees, American optimism is dying. Dana Millbank reported:

“When asked if “life for our children’s generation will be better than it has been for us,” fully 76 percent said they do not have such confidence. Only 21 percent did. That was the worst ever recorded in the poll; in 2001, 49 percent were confident and 43 percent not.”

And it’s not confined to one group either. The rich are as down as the poor, women are as down as men, blacks are as down as whites. Young people are only slightly less depressed than the old. Democrats are marginally happier than grumpy Republicans. Dana Milbank concludes:

“The gloom goes beyond wealth, gender, race, region, age and ideology. This fractious nation is united by one thing: lost faith in the United States.”

The New York Mag blames the torrent of bad news the media is feeding us 24/7 producing a widespread sense that the world is falling apart. The Wall Street Journal points to five factors:

  • We are in lousy health with an epidemic of obesity.
  • Stress due to health problems or overwhelming responsibilities.
  • The lifestyles of the rich and famous are making us jealous.
  • Our wages are stagnant
  • We work too much, far more than most other nations.

If you look at the majority of the causes highlighted by the analysts, you’ll see that they blame external factors for our unhappiness. But if our happiness is dependent on events outside my control, then there’s nothing we can do about my emotional state. We just become passive fatalists. What will be will be.

Christians have a big opportunity here to shine in the midst of the darkness, to show that happiness, true spiritual happiness, can be enjoyed independently of uncontrollable events, trends, and changes in the world and in our personal lives. As Thomas Watson wrote:

“Spiritual joy is higher built than upon creatures, for it is built on the love of God, on the promises, and on the blood of Christ.”

That’s the way to get to this:

“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Phil. 4:11)