Monthly Archives: September 2010

Introducing… Ian Smith

Hey everyone,

Since my friend Gabe was kind enough to invite me to become the third grace-saved sinner on his blog (yes, there are three. Grace still abounds, Mueller, but don’t push it!) the appropriate thing to do would be to introduce myself.

My name is Ian Smith. Since I’m feeling a little apologetic about my age right now in relation to the honor of contributing to this site, you might as well know that I’m seventeen years old, in my first semester of community college in particular and public school in general (I never had a senior year of high school), and hoping that you read any theological foibles not as conscious unorthodoxy but as a lack of the training and understanding that I hope come my way in the future. So, if anyone takes issue with a point or implication I make in my writing and tells me as much, I would not be offended but rather grateful for your gracious correction.

My twin brother and I are the oldest of five children under the stewardship of two godly parents. We live near the outer edge of beautiful Geneva, Illinois, one of Chicago’s westernmost suburbs. God has filled our home with His gospel for as long as I have been alive, and in His grace has always provided us faithful churches (currently Grace Covenant Church in Elgin, IL) committed to ministering biblical truth. If natural revelation alone leaves all men without excuse, how much more so am I if I fail to heed what I have received from the very Word of God? Though there are times when my heart’s loyalty to the Lord who bought me wavers, and seasons of faith and hope grown dim, He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. I look forward to the day when no created thing or rebel thought will distract my heart from the King of Glory; the day when faith at last will be sight.

Other things you might want to know about me: in my spare time you’ll typically find me reading, sleeping or (unfortunately) on Facebook. Yes, I’m a teenager. I’d say that I’d rather read than anything else, but dedication as a measure of love would find me falling very short here since I haven’t actually read to the end of a book in months. C.S. Lewis, John Owen, George Macdonald, J.R.R. Tolkien, R.C. Sproul and Saint Augustine are my favorites. And though I’m from Chicago, don’t ask me whether I root for the Sox or Cubs. Sports can be fun, but they’ve never been the slightest part of my life. I can, however, play tennis, volleyball, and a pretty mean mini golf.

Hopefully you’ll be seeing more from me in the coming months, provided Mr. Tribbett doesn’t realize his mistake and boot me off! 🙂

Grace and peace,

Ian Smith

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Mobilizing Men for Ministry

A failure of godly, masculine leadership leads to broken, dying churches:

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The Measure of A Man

When God intends to greatly use a man, He often anoints him through great suffering. The forging process strengthens, sharpens, and often refines the instrument for a most effective work.  As 1 Peter 1:3-9 informs us, hardship proves our faith genuine and results in much glory, praise, and honor being given to the Savior on our account. In this vein, I’d like to share a poem about God’s process of molding a man for Himself:

“When God wants to drill a man

And thrill a man

And skill a man,

When God wants to mold a man

To play the noblest part;

When He yearns with all His heart

To create so great and bold a man

That all the world shall be amazed,

Watch His methods, watch His ways!

How He ruthlessly perfects

Whom He royally elects!

How He hammers him and hurts him,

And with mighty blows converts him

Into trial shapes of clay which

Only God understands;

While his tortured heart is crying

And he lifts beseeching hands!

How He bends but never breaks

When his good He undertakes;

How He uses whom He chooses

And with every purpose fuses him;

By every act induces him

To try His splendour out–

God knows what He’s about!”

Author Unknown[1]

Robert Murry M’Cheyne, the late Scottish preacher, who died at the age of 29 before which the great Scottish revival took place (seemingly in large measure as a result of his faithful life and preaching ministry) said, “It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus.  A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.” May God raise up a generation of holy men and women who penetrate this dark world with the piercing light of Christ.

[1] J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 150-151.

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What is Love?

A few days ago, Justin Taylor posted this section from Paul Tripp’s book on marriage.  Whether you’re married or not, it seems worth meditating upon.

From chapter 12 of Paul David Tripp’s What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010).

1. What is love?

Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.

2. What does love look like in marriage?

  1. Love is being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of your husband or wife without impatience or anger.
  2. Love is actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward your spouse, while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
  3. Love is the daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
  4. Love is being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding, and being more committed to unity and love than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.
  5. Love is a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
  6. Love means being willing, when confronted by your spouse, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.
  7. Love is a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to your husband or wife is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.
  8. Love is being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged but to look for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.
  9. Love is being a good student of your spouse, looking for his physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support him as he carries it, or encourage him along the way.
  10. Love means being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the problems that you face as a couple, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.
  11. Love is always being willing to ask for forgiveness and always being committed to grant forgiveness when it is requested.
  12. Love is recognizing the high value of trust in a marriage and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.
  13. Love is speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack your spouse’s character or assault his or her intelligence.
  14. Love is being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive in any way in order to co-opt your spouse into giving you what you want or doing something your way.
  15. Love is being unwilling to ask your spouse to be the source of your identity, meaning and purpose, or inner sense of well-being, while refusing to be the source of his or hers.
  16. Love is the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as a husband or a wife.
  17. Love is a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love in your marriage.
  18. Love is staying faithful to your commitment to treat your spouse with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when he or she doesn’t seem to deserve it or is unwilling to reciprocate.
  19. Love is the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of your marriage without asking anything in return or using your sacrifices to place your spouse in your debt.
  20. Love is being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm your marriage, hurt your husband or wife, or weaken the bond of trust between you.
  21. Love is refusing to be self-focused or demanding but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.
  22. Love is daily admitting to yourself, your spouse, and God that you are not able to love this way without God’s protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace.
  23. Love is a specific commitment of the heart to a specific person that causes you to give yourself to a specific lifestyle of care that requires you to be willing to make sacrifices that have that person’s good in view.

3. What should this description of love do to us?

This realization should give you pause and then spur you to action: it is impossible for any of us to love as has been described. The bar is simply too high. The requirements are simply too great. None of us has what it takes to reach this standard. This description of love in action has left me humbled and grieved. It has faced me once again with my tendency to name as love things that are not love. It has forced me to admit how self-focused and self-absorbed I actually am. It has reminded me that when it comes to love, I am not an expert. No, I am poor, weak, and needy.

Jesus died not only so that we would have forgiveness for not loving as we should, but also so that we would have the desire, wisdom, and power to love as we should.

Jesus suffered in love so that in your struggle to love you would never, ever be alone. As you give yourself to love, he showers you with his love, so that you would never be without what you need to love.

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Great Sermons & Articles

Justin Taylor posted some noteworthy sermons and articles on Between Two Worlds.

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Lukewarm & Lovin’ It

I listened to a great sermon tonight while shaving, showering, and cleaning my room… so I thought I’d share it.

Francis Chan: “Luke-warm & Loving It”

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Men Honoring Women

While I don’t always appreciate Mark Driscoll’s approach, I love his passion for communicating truth.  The following excerpt shows him addressing men in how they should honor women.

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An Exhortation

1 Peter 5:6-11

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

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