If ever we needed reminding of the extreme danger and difficulty of police work, we had it in agonizing clarity in New York on Saturday night.

Two brave public servants are dead, assassinated by an evil coward.

Two families are in deep mourning, two extended families devastated for the rest of their lives.

Tens of thousands of police officers and their families live in a new dimension of fear, trembling with anxiety each time they kiss goodbye and start their shifts.

Our society is plunged into even greater division and enmity, the future looking bleaker, not brighter, by the day.

If ever there was a time for fervent prayer, it’s now – individually and corporately. What to pray? All I can offer are the instinctive reflexes of my own heart:

  • For comfort, strength, and hope for the weeping families.
  • For protection, courage, and peace for our police officers as they go about their jobs.
  • For calm daily (and nightly) trust for all police officers’ families.
  • For divine restraint on evil people.
  • For the end of violent protests and murderous rhetoric from the protesters and their leaders.
  • For wisdom for our leaders to know how to repair divisions and re-build confidence in the judicial process.
  • For new and godly leadership on every side to replace the old, divisive spokesmen with a vested interest in maintaining hate and division.
  • For the media to avoid exaggerated, partisan, sensationalism that provokes anger, bitterness, and vengeance.
  • For the Gospel to bring peace between God and people, and between different peoples.
  • For the church to become the model for a new society – integrated, loving, and holy.
  • For building of personal friendships between presently divided people.

On that last point, we could all make a difference by going out of our way in our everyday life to be friendly, kind, and generous when dealing with people who are different to us.

And how about every single one of us reaching out to build friendly relationships with law enforcement officers and even just one person of different color to ourselves. Over time that would do more to re-unite the divided states of America than any amount of legislation.

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We’ve heard and seen lots of secular pundits pontificate racial issues over the past few weeks. Here’s our opportunity to listen to a number of Christians discussing the same issues in a Christian spirit, with biblical content, and a Gospel focus. You may also wish to read John Piper’s reflections on this important event.

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Want To Know What A Depressed Scottish S’more Looks Like?

A Depressed Scottish S'more

A Depressed Scottish S’more

Scotland’s national poet, Robert (Robbie) Burns, once composed a poem To A Louse, a horrible insect which he saw on a lady’s hat while sitting in church one day! It contained the lines:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us 
To see oursels as ithers see us! 
It wad frae mony a blunder free us, 
An’ foolish notion: 
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us, 
An’ ev’n devotion!

Let me translate (with apologies to the bard)!

O would some Power the gift to give us,
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion:
What airs in dress and walk would leave us,
And even self-devotion!

The prayer in the first line is effectively, “Oh that God would help us to see ourselves as others see us.”

A worthy and commendable prayer, indeed!

Until it’s answered.

As you can see from the above photo, this prayer was answered for me last week when I was in Greenville with my friend Steven Lee, the president of sermonaudio.com. He gave me a box containing a model made by his wonderfully gifted sister-in-law.

As a result, I now know how others view me: a depressed Scottish s’more who catches the odd salmon!

Thanks :)

How To Make Christ Happy

“Would you make Christ’s heart glad, keep your own cheerful.” Thomas Manton

The Puritan, Thomas Manton, gave four reasons why Christ feels so strongly about His people being filled with joy:

1. It is useful in spiritual life. Joy is the oil to the wheels of our spiritual life. It gives us the energy to do good. It is not the kind of joy that comes from a life of recreation and ease. As Christians, we still need to fulfill our callings and do our duties, but heavenly joy helps us do our work with peace.

2. It ruins the taste of worldly joy. Our souls are going to find joy either in worldly things or in heavenly things. There is no middle ground with a little joy in each. As soon as we have tasted even a little heavenly joy, we will never be satisfied with worldly joy again. We are still not amazed by those who are satisfied with the world, though, because they have never known anything more delicious.

3. It is for His honor. There is nothing that ruins Christian witness more than sad Christians. When we are consistently negative in our conversation, we darken the things of God to those around us. Religion should be cheerful and inviting. Don’t be like the pessimistic spies who told the Israelites that Canaan was unconquerable.

4. He loves to see us cheerful. God does not delight in sad devotion. Just like farmers are happy when their fields prosper, so Christ finds joy when His people overflow with joy. Do you want to make Christ’s heart glad? Then be cheerful.

Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, Vol. 10 (Worthington, PA: Maranatha Publications, 1970) 355-356.

10 Marks Of True Conversion

In the midst of a busy family life, it can sometimes be difficult to get or make the time to sit down with our wife or husband and discuss the Bible. The Bible can be at the center of our church life in weekly services, at the center of our personal lives in private devotions, and even at the center of our family life in family worship, and yet not be at the center of our marriage.

Shona and I have tried various strategies over the years to make sure that we are regularly discussing the Bible together, fellowshipping in the living Word. One thing we hadn’t tried, until recently, was for both of us to be reading the same book in our private devotional reading so that we can discuss the same passage when we get together. It also keeps us accountable knowing that she is going to be asking me what I thought about such and such a verse, and vice versa.

We started with 1 Thessalonians because it’s not such a familiar book as many of the others, and also because it’s quite short and do-able. No point in starting with 2 Chronicles and running out of steam by chapter 3.

After reading chapter 1, I decided to look up one of John Macarthur’s sermon on the chapter and it was a a wonderful eye- and heart-opener for me. He used the chapter to highlight 10 marks of true conversion that Paul noted in the Thessalonians. I’d recommend you read the whole thing, but here’s a summary of the ten effects of true conversion in a Christian’s life:

1. Production: He has a faith that works (3)

2. Affection: He has a love that labors (3)

3. Continuation: He has a hope that perseveres (3)

4. Presentation: He has has been under a preaching that is powerful (5)

5. Transformation: He has a life that is new (6)

6. Jubilation: He has a joy that is transcendent (6)

7. Reproduction: He has a behavior that is exemplary (7)

8. Proclamation: He has a witness that is strong (9)

9. Submission: He has an allegiance that submits (9)

10. Patience: He is waiting for Jesus (10)

Macarthur makes three important additional points:

1. This is not just what happens at the at the beginning of conversion, but it becomes an increasing pattern in the Christian’s life.

2. Sin can make a Christian lose touch with the reality of these things in his life for a time.

Listen, sin…sin can stop the product in your life. Sin can tear at the affection you have for Christ. Sin can steal your hope. Sin can make your life look old. Sin can rob you of your joy. Sin can make your behavior something that is the opposite of exemplary. Sin can destroy your witness. Sin can make you disobedient and devastate your allegiance to Christ. Sin can make you not even want to see Jesus.

3. But he solemnly concludes: “Now listen carefully. If these don’t mark you, then I can’t tell if you’re a Christian and very likely, neither can you.”

Personal Note
This chapter is very special to me as it played a role in my own conversion. A few weeks after I believe I was converted, I was given a tape of an Al Martin sermon on 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 called “True Biblical Conversion.” If I wasn’t converted before hearing that, I certainly was after it.

I’ll never forget the impact of that sermon on my soul. It made me realize my need of a deep and deeper divine work of God on my heart if I was every to produce the fruits of true conversion. It drove me to my knees to call out to God for His sovereign and merciful work in my heart. The echoes of that sermon still reverberate in my soul to this day.