>From "The Valley of Vision"

>If you’ve never examined “The Valley of Vision,” it is worth your time. A collection of Puritan prayers (don’t get hung up!), these are not for the weak of heart or wimpy of will. Hard, penetrating stuff that is worth reading s l o w l y and rereading…though conviction oozes.

Here is what is called “A Disciple’s Renewal”:

O my Saviour,
Help me.
I am so slow to learn, so prone to forget, so weak to climb;

I am in the foothills when I should be on the heights;

I am pained by my graceless heart, my prayerless days, my poverty of love, my sloth in the heavenly race, my sullied conscience, my wasted hours, my unspent opportunities.

I am blind while light shines around me: take the scales from my eyes, grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief.

Make it my chiefest joy to study thee, meditate on thee, gaze on thee;

Sit like Mary at thy feet,
lean like John on thy breast,
appeal like Peter to thy love,
count like Paul all things dung.

Give me increase and progress in grace so that there may be:
more decision in my character,
more vigour in my purposes,
more elevation in my life,
more fervour in my devotion,
more constancy in my zeal.

As I have a position in the world, keep me from making the world my position.

May I never seek in the creature what can be only found in the Creator;

Let not faith cease from seeking thee until it vanishes into sight.

Ride forth in me, thou King of kings and Lord of lords, that I may live victoriously, and in victory attain my end.

If this is new to you, or if it meets a need; you may want to buy the book…and if you click below and do so, you’ll help us out!

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=jacksjots-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=0851512283&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

>Seize the Moment to Confess

>
Basketball coach Rick Petino confessed to an adulterous affair and made this very wise observation:

Pitino said:

“When you have a problem, if you tell the truth, your problem becomes a part of
your past. If you lie, it becomes a part of your future.”

When the Spirit of God convicts me of specific sin, if I run to First John 1.9 it is gone (more than in the past, God chooses to remember it no more). If I ignore, suppress, deny; it remains in my present, and my future.

When the Spirit of God convicts a lost person of their sin and guilt before God, if they run to the Cross and the Gospel it is buried and gone; if they suppress…they may never have another opportunity.

“Today is the day of salvation,” “now is the accepted time.”

>What Does It Mean to "Grow in the Gospel"?

>“Growing in the gospel means seeing more of God’s holiness and more of my sin. And because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross, we need not fear seeing God as he really is or admitting how broken we really are. Our hope is not in our own goodness, nor in the vain expectation that God will compromise his standards and ‘grade on a curve.’ Rather, we rest in Jesus as our perfect Redeemer — the One who is ‘our righteousness, holiness and redemption’ (1 Cor. 1:30).”

– Bob Thune and Will Walker, The Gospel-Centered Life

>Family Fotos

>Jane and Janelle trying to bop each other (and others) on the head during a goofy game at our first SQ (Student Quest) of the season…every Monday night provides an opportunity for Christian students to hang out and invite their friends to learn about the Gospel

Jacob and his buddy Aaron pause for a breath during the fun of Southside’s Fall Festival last weekend

And what else would you expect to find in Saint Joseph, Missouri’s Hyde Park?

>Why Does "Stuff" Happen to Us?

>Justin Taylor is well-worth following, and he shares significant insights from J. I. Packer’s “Knowing God” concerning trials, troubles, and God’s purposes:

J. I. Packer writes about how to understand the “unexpected and upsetting and discouraging things” that happen to us. What do they mean?

Simply that God in his wisdom means to make something of us which we have not attained yet, and he is dealing with us accordingly.

(Suggestion: resist the skimming temptation and read that line over again.)

Then Packer ponders the possible purposes God might have in mind for you:

Perhaps he means to strengthen us in patience, good humor, compassion, humility, or meekness, by giving us some extra practice in exercising these graces under especially difficult conditions.

Perhaps he has new lessons in self-denial and self-distrust to teach us.

Perhaps he wishes to break us of complacency, or unreality, or undetected forms of pride and conceit.

Perhaps his purpose is simply to draw us closer to himself in conscious communion with him; for it is often the case, as all the saints know, that fellowship with the Father and the Son is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy is greatest, when the cross is heaviest. . . .

Or perhaps God is preparing us for forms of service of which at present we have no inkling.

He goes on:

We may be frankly bewildered at things that happen to us, but God knows exactly what he is doing, and what he is after, in his handling of our affairs. Always, and in everything, he is wise: we shall see that hereafter, even where we never saw it here. . . . Meanwhile, we ought not to hesitate to trust his wisdom, even when he leaves us in the dark.

But how should we respond to baffling and trying situations when cannot now see God’s purpose in them?

First, by taking them as from God, and asking ourselves what reactions to them, and in them, the gospel of God requires of us;

second, by seeking God’s face specifically about them.

“If we do these two things,” Packer writes, “we shall never find ourselves wholly in the dark as to God’s purpose in our troubles.”

>Start Now!

>”Begin at once; before you venture away from this quiet moment, ask your King to take you wholly into his service, and place all the hours of this day quite simply at his disposal, and ask him to make and keep you ready to do just exactly what he appoints. Never mind about tomorrow; one day at a time is enough. Try it today, and see if it is not a day of strange, almost curious peace, so sweet that you will only too thankful when tomorrow comes to ask him to take it also.”

Francis Ridley Havergal

>Does He Really?

>
Too often I forget the teaching found in Hebrews 7.25, “Consequently (Jesus) is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Really? The King of Kings prays for me (assuming I “draw near to God through Him”)? First John 2.1 declares we “have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

Really? Jesus is praying for me? For my situation, my cares, my struggles, my…everything?

Yeah, or the Word of God is not accurate.

In the Lord’s “high priestly prayer” He makes clear that prayer was not only for the 1st century disciples, but for us, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.” (John 17.20)

Whether sighing or singing, triumphing or struggling, sick or well, full or famished…whatever the situation, if I pause to remember and reflect on the fact that Jesus is praying for me, hope and peace saturate and comfort.

>Honest Confession

>
The following was written and posted on Facebook by a sophomore in college I’ve known for years. A great young lady who genuinely shares, openly and honestly, what we all could echo at at least some portion of our lives…and which may, uncomfortably, hit home even now…Here is her post:

“I need to apologize to all four hundred and one of you. I have proclaimed myself to be a Christian, but I need to be honest. I have this fear that some of you may compare my actions and words to those of my savior, Jesus Christ. It is rare for my actions to reflect him, and I need to apologize to you for portraying falsities.

“Yes, I attend church. I am a leader in my youth group, and attend a Bible club on my campus. I went to a college with chapel requirements my freshman year of college. I worked at a Christian camp, and served on mission trips. I don’t swear, or look at porn. I have no experience with the taste of alcohol or euphoria that comes with smoking pot. I’m pro-life, and disagree with the theory of evolution. I also need to tell you that none of these things make me Christian.

“Some people see Christianity as being a bunch of boring rules you have to follow. I fear it is people like me who tell this lie to the masses. In high school, if you looked at my schedule you would think I was a boring Bible thumper who never participated in anything that involved the f word. Why would someone who spends three days a week participating in church functions have any idea what the f word actually is? I have had more fun participating in these actions because they all involve the f word: fun. You might understand where I’m coming from. You might not. I can’t tell you what to feel because I’m not you, but I wish you could. I never will be you. I’m not writing this to tell you what I have and haven’t done so you can see me as a great person. I’m telling you so you can see my faults. I am one of the worst sinners you will ever meet in your life.

“Here is the truth: Christianity is having a relationship with the creator of the universe. It’s having someone to run to when you’ve had the worst day of your life. It’s having someone to share joy with. It’s having someone tell you things are going to be okay, even when they feel like they won’t. It is the epitome of a best friend. You don’t have to worry about him telling your secrets or sleeping with your best friend. Would you like to know one of the best parts of this relationship? It’s a relationship based on love- the love a father willing to die for you kind of love. Keeping this relationship growing on a daily basis is what makes you a Christian. It’s a far cry from a list of rules. It’s not magic either. Trust me on this one-becoming a Christian doesn’t make your troubles disappear. It does make them easier to conquer, however.

“Here is an ugly truth: I’ve been neglecting this relationship like you wouldn’t believe. It’s the neglect of this relationship that causes me to be a bad witness. I’m false representation, believe it or not. I’ve been living a life that isn’t even close to proper representation of Christ is, but I’ve still put on the Christian t-shirt. It is with this reason that I am apologizing to you. I’ve lied to all of you in the worst way possible, and the only thing I know to do is ask forgiveness, so that’s what I’m doing.

“I know I’ve written a few notes similar to this on here. They all sound similar to, “I’ve been bad, but I’m not going to act like that again. I’m a good Christian now.” Here’s the deal. I’m not going to be a Christian anymore. I’m going to be a growing Christian, and this time I’m going to be honest. Feel free to keep me in check if you wish.”