A Holy And Happy 2015 To You

2014 is now covered with the blood of Christ.

2015 now waits to be written.

What will your story be?

According to Twitter, the top aspirations and intentions people are sharing online include:

#1. Work out
#2. Be happy
#3. Lose weight
#4. Stop smoking
#5. Unplug

“Be happy” doubtless appeared on the first ever set of New Year resolutions carved in stone; it’s likely been on every list since then; and, presumably, it will also be on the last list ever to be written.

But how? How to be happy? Here are some hints.

Never cease to show your people that to be holy is to be happy; and that, to bring us to perfect holiness and likeness to God, was the very end for which Christ died. Andrew Bonar

For if sin is misery, sinners can only be made happy indeed by being made holy. The process of redemption, then, is one whose design throughout is holiness. Robert Dabney

There will three effects of nearness to Jesus, all beginning with the letter h—humility, happiness, and holiness. Charles Spurgeon

If the question be asked, why we should seek the good of mankind, the answer is, from a regard to our everlasting happiness; and if the question be, why we should make the will of God the rule of our conduct, the answer must be the same; So that really all virtue is resolved into a regard to our own happiness. Archibald Alexander

O that all the world but knew that holiness and happiness are one! O that all the world were one holy family, joyfully coming under the pure rules of the gospel! Andrew Bonar

They’re not hunger and thirst…hungering and thirsting after happiness. They’re hungering and thirsting after righteousness, that’s why they’re happy. John Macarthur

Authentic obedience comes when happiness and holiness meet such that holiness becomes the source of happiness rather than its alternative. Holiness is meant to ignite, not eliminate, joy. Dane Ortlund

I wish you all a very holy and, therefore, a very happy 2015.

A Most Reasonable Happiness

“Gospel mourning is no way inconsistent with holy joy. Though it must be granted that the love of sin and true joy are inconsistent, and that the reign and dominion of sin and true joy are inconsistent, yet it must be confessed that mourning for sin and holy joy are consistent in one and the same heart.” Thomas Brooks

When Jesus pronounced eight happinesses on the way of holiness in Matthew 5, He didn’t just declare it, He explained it. And it certainly needed explanation because it didn’t look like a very happy way of life. That’s why he added a “because” or a “for” to every beatitude. He wanted to further reason with us and persuade us into the way of holiness.

How can you be happy when feeling spiritually bankrupt? Because God gives the kingdom of heaven only to such people.

How can you be happy when you are sad over sin? Because God promises a spiritual comfort that will not only restore but improve your spiritual health.

How can you be happy about meekly giving up your rights? Because God will give you the earth.

How can you be happy when hungering and thirsting? Because this is a God-given and God-satisfied hunger and thirst.

How can internal purity make you happy? Because it allows you to see and savor the most beautiful sight in the universe – God.

How can giving mercy to the undeserving make you happy? Because it assures you that you will receive mercy too.

How can peace-making make you happy? Because despite all the names you’ll be called by people, God calls you His son or daughter.

How can being persecuted make you happy? Here he gives three reasons: it’s for Christ’s sake, it secures a great heavenly reward, and it puts you in the best of company – the previously persecuted prophets.

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

8 Happinesses Promised By Jesus

“Take warning this day, that you never will be happy till you are converted. You might as well expect to feel the sun shine on your face when you turn your back to it, as to feel happy when you turn your back on God and on Christ.” J C Ryle

When Jesus promised happiness eight times at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount, He did not promise it to everybody. Rather, He identified the marks, the characteristics of those who will experience this blessedness.

  • They don’t find happiness in themselves. Poor in spirit, they recognize, “I am nothing.”
  • They don’t find happiness in their sins. Rather they mourn over them.
  • They don’t find happiness in their achievements. They are meek not boastful.
  • They don’t find happiness in lusting after the pleasures of sin. They hunger and thirst for righteousness.
  • They don’t find happiness in asserting their rights. They are merciful, dealing with people in ways they don’t deserve.
  • They don’t find happiness in mere outward reformation. They seek cleansing of their hearts.
  • They don’t find happiness in beating people. They find happiness in making peace with people.
  • They don’t find happiness in popularity. They find happiness in pleasing God even if it means suffering personal pain and loss.

In other words there is no happiness in being self-confident, self-accepting, self-assertive, self-righteous, self-seeking, self-centered, or self-protective. There’s only happiness in turning from self to the Savior by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.

“Happy are the people who are in such a state;
Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!”
(Ps. 144:15)

R C Sproul’s Second Conversion

Q. How many times can a person be born again? 

A. Once.

Q. How many times can a person be converted?

A. Many times.

The Apostle Peter is an example of this. Although already born again, with God-given insight into the person of Christ (Matt. 16:17),  Jesus told him that some time in the future he would be converted which would result in him being a strengthener of other believers (Luke 22:32).

R C Sproul is another example. Again, although born again, dramatically converted, and thoroughly changed in his desires and life, Sproul underwent a further subsequent conversion which was no less dramatic. In chapter 1 of The Holiness of God, he explains how in his early Christian life, “I knew who Jesus was, but God the Father was shrouded in mystery. He was hidden, an enigma to my mind and a stranger to my soul.”

While listening to a boring philosophy lecture in college, the teacher started explaining Augustine’s views on the creation of the world. The next several pages contain the most beautiful writing on God’s creation that I have ever read. Here’s a sample:

The first sound uttered in the universe was the voice of God commanding, “Let there be!”

The command created its own molecules to carry the sound waves of God’s voice farther and farther into space.

As soon as the words left the Creator’s mouth, things began to happen. Where his voice reverberated, stars appeared, glowing in unspeakable brilliance in temp with the song of angels. The force of divine energy splattered against the sky like a kaleidoscope of color hurled from the palette of a powerful artist. Comets crisscrossed the sky with flashing tails like Fourth of July skyrockets.

The Supreme architect gazed at His complex blueprint and shouted commands for the boundaries of the world to be set.

Then God stooped to earth and carefully fashioned a piece of clay. He lifted it gently to His lips and breathed into it. The clay began to move. It began to think. It began to feel. It began to worship. It was alive and stamped with the image of its Creator.

Sproul says he had always known that God created everything out of nothing; but it was when he realized how he did it that his whole view of God changed. He went from being a functional Unitarian to being a worshipping Trinitarian. He describes it as being converted not merely to God the Son, but to God the Father.

Suddenly I had a passion to know God the Father. I wanted to know Him in His majesty, to know Him in His power, to know Him in His august holiness.

It’s beautiful isn’t it! But what can we learn from Sproul’s second conversion? Here are five lessons.

1. Don’t rule out multiple conversions
We have so much to change in our lives, especially in our view of God, that we should not be surprised at subsequent “conversion-like” experiences where God enables us to take a quantum leap in our knowledge and understanding of God. We should be thankful for every such conversion.

2. Don’t seek multiple conversions
God normally works gradually not dramatically. We shouldn’t be worried if we’ve never had such a dramatic experience. The norm for most Christians is a slow gradual process of ongoing conversion in our God-view, self-view, and world-view. Seeking out the sensational or the dramatic is only going to disappoint and discourage.

3. Don’t make Sproul’s experience the norm
R C Sproul is a unique man with a unique ministry. Looking back, we now know that God had earmarked him to carry a radical message about the holiness of God to this generation of evangelicals who, like Sproul, were (and are) also guilty of a practical Unitarianism, or a Christo-monism. With that special ministry in view, God gave Him an  overwhelming experience of His holiness that would flavor everything he would subsequently do, say, and write.

4. Use Sproul’s experience to challenge your faith
Although we shouldn’t make Sproul’s experience the norm, we should ask ourselves if we too have been guilty of practical unitarianism. Maybe we have focused almost exclusively upon Christ, with no real knowledge of or acquaintance with the Holy Father. If so, then Sproul’s experience should encourage us to ask God to show us His holiness, to reveal Himself to us through His Word. Who knows what might happen. Maybe the next R C Sproul is out there and about to be readied for a worldwide ministry.

5. True conversion will make us desire God
There are many spurious spiritual experiences that are nothing but sheer emotionalism, lasting only for a few minutes with no permanent spiritual fruit. But true spiritual experience results in a hunger for God and a passion to know Him, especially in His holiness.

World View

The Marvel Of American Resilience

Fracking is making the U.S. the world’s leading oil and gas producer. How did this happen?

  • Not because of any great advantage in geology—many countries have larger recoverable shale gas reserves.
  • Not because America’s big energy companies are uniquely skilled or smart or deep-pocketed:
  • Not because enlightened mandarins in the federal bureaucracy and national labs saw the future potential.

It happened:

  • Because Americans, almost uniquely in the world, have property rights to the minerals under their yards.
  • Because the federal government wasn’t really paying attention.
  • Because federalism allows states to do their own thing.
  • Because against-the-grain entrepreneurs like George Mitchell and Harold Hamm couldn’t be made to bow to the consensus of experts.
  • Because our deep capital markets were willing to bet against those experts.
  • Because of freedom, optimism, flexibility, and resilience.

The article concludes:

We are larger than our leaders. We are better than our politics. We are wiser than our culture. We are smarter than our ideas. Enjoy the holiday.

If you can’t get access to the Wall Street Journal article that celebrates this American triumph, click on the top Google article here.

The Death Of The American Family Dinner Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

Across the United States, roughly 88 percent of Americans still say they frequently eat dinner with other members of their household, according to a new study by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The survey found that the average family eats dinner together more than 5 times a week, and nearly 60 percent of households with children younger than 18 sit down to supper six or seven nights a week.

Some of the benefits of eating regularly together include:

  • Teenagers who frequently ate with their families tended to use drugs less often.
  • Students who ate less often with their loved ones were more likely to be truant at school.
  • Children who eat group meals at home demonstrate fewer signs of depression.

The Unbelievable Rise Of Single Motherhood In America Over The Last 50 years

  • More women are having their children later in life.
  • And they’re doing so in less traditional ways: before marriage, without marriage, or with unmarried partners.
  • Half of all children will live with a single mom at some point before the age of 18.
  • Children with two parents fare better in many ways — in school, in their own relationships — than children with only one at home.
  • A black child today is much more likely to be born to a single mom than a white child, or the child of a mom with a college degree.
  • More than 70 percent of all black children today are born to an unmarried mom, a three-fold increase in that rate since the 1960s

Private Colleges Are A Waste Of Time For White Middle Class Kids

A Gallup survey asked graduates how they were doing across five different metrics, including financially, physically and socially. The summary finding: for kids with well educated parents, what matters is getting a college degree, not where it came from. Some of the other findings:

  • Eleven percent of graduates of public universities and private universities said they were “thriving” across all five metrics.
  • Twelve percent of graduates of U.S. News & World Report’s top 100 schools were thriving, essentially the same as the rest.
  • The biggest predictor of whether a graduate wasn’t thriving was whether he or she had student loans. Fourteen percent of those without any debt said they were thriving, compared to 2 percent of those with more than $40,000 of debt.
  • The happiest students, in general, were the ones who developed a relationship with a mentor, participated in extracurricular activities or took on a major academic project — all things you can do at any school.
  • Students with more potential made more money as adults, and the students with less made less — no matter where they went to school.
  • Conclusion: how much you make depends on you, not where you get in.