Saturday, January 31, 2009

Managed Expectations-A Poetic Note to Self...........

Hi all, I was thinking about the source of many of my fleshly moments, and was reminded of the many times I have been interrupted or otherwise "inconvenienced." I mean, there are times when I KNOW exactly what I want to get done, or exactly where I want to go, etc. Something seems to, fairly often, set my plans off track. Now I have responded to the offset differently at different times; and I've seen different outcomes based on those responses. Whenever I have responded from a perspective of "all time is a gift of God," I've really been able to find God's grace to serve at a moment's notice. It could be anything, couldn't it? I could be on the way to the front door to go check the mail, and the beautiful woman God gave me could stop me and ask me to run upstairs to get something for her or the baby. Who's need comes first? Does mine automatically come first because it was expressed first chronologically? That was an easy example I'm sure. Not like the times when you've planned a nice dinner date with your spouse and 10 minutes prior to leaving, the sitter cancelled. THAT, my friend, is a MAJOR infraction. How are we to respond when our plans don't come to fruition? What happens to our attitude when all that we've set as truth in our minds comes to naught due to a phone call? How attached to our plans and expectations are we anyway? Now, the grand question: what does GOD's Word say about all this? There will be a part II, but meanwhile I've written a poem as a note to myself about this.

Managed Expectations-Note to Self
You are what you call frustrated, but what the Bible calls angry,
Things didn't go the way you planned, so it's your selfishness mainly,
You had your entire day set, from waking moment down to the night,
But you encountered interruptions and to you, that just ain't right,
"I didn't get anything I wanted done!" You selfishly exclaim,
Do you remember, Mark 5, Jesus delayed giving life to sooth pain,
I'll bet the woman with the issue of blood would've probably been crushed,
If Jesus was so committed to His own plans just like us,
Her interruption, it seems, was a chance for the Lord to show mercy,
Our interruptions get the short end of the stick, "alright I'll help, but I'm in a hurry!"
Could it be that by thinking we can control our own days,
That the Lord allows setbacks to show us the evil in our ways?
As Christians, we are commanded to prefer one another over self,
And at times, that's a sacrifice which includes placing our own plans on the shelf,
If we live with the notion that my life is to be poured out as an offering of service,
The idea that "I might not be able to get to everything I wanted," wouldn't make us nervous
Now everybody suffers because of your "frustration," the cats. the kids, the spouse, the client,
And you say it's because there's not enough time in a day, an excuse the God of time's not buying,
There's plenty of time, we all have the same amount, but if your priority is your plan,
You will forever find that you seem to run short, because your life ain't in your hands.
If you belong to the Lord that is, you've been born again, there's something you musn't forget,
Proverbs 16:9 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday with Spurgeon

If we labor for souls, we must not be content unless souls are really saved, for the apostle says, "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God." Well, does not that satisfy you, Paul? They are zealous for God. They are red-hot. "No," says he, "not unless it is in the right way. They have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." We feel very thankful when we see tears stream down the cheek, but you know, people cry at the theatre, and there is not much in it. Pray God it may not end in a shower of tears; but that the heart may bleed as well as the eyes weep. It may happen that we have induced our hearers to give up some outward sins. So far, so good. But it is written, "You must be born again;" and if this vital change is not experienced, all outward reformation will land them short of Heaven.-Charles H. Spurgeon

As I read this quote out of "Spurgeon Gold," I thought about Nicodemus in John chapter 3. Maybe you don't know about Nicodemus and his nocturnal dialogue with Jesus Christ, so let me lay a bit of it out here.

3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Three Things:
1. Religion can't save a man-I don't know anyone today who goes to Church as much as Nicodemus, as a Pharisee, probably went to Synagogue. Yet, Jesus told him squarely, 'you must be born again to see OR enter the Kingdom of God.' Dear Sir or Madam, your membership and active participation in the Church of your youth do nothing to earn you favor with God. I recall times of speaking with people about their need for the Savior, only to hear "I take my family to Church EVERY week." That says nothing of one's standing with God. Unless you are born again, you cannot (utter impossibility) see the Kingdom of God. As sad as it may seem, millions of very sincere folks sit in pews of Church services weekly, and have no idea that without repentance, there is no salvation. The Pharisees were expert at playing the part of religious folks, yet inwardly their hearts in many cases, were far from God. The Bible is chock-full of warnings for us to "examine ourselves, to be sure we are in the faith." Going to Church regularly, giving money and gifts to the poor and others, or even affirmation of the claims of Christ, mean nothing if one is not born again.
2. It is not enough to have head knowledge of Jesus-Sir or madam, maybe you walked down an aisle at Church, or said a "sinner's prayer" or otherwise made a public profession of faith in Christ. From that day till now, however, there has been no change in affections, hunger for the things of God, love of and growth in Holiness, love for the brethren, and a growing hatred of sin. I would admonish you to examine yourself. Matthew 7:21 has the Lord Himself exclaiming "depart from me, I never knew you" to folks who had even cast out demons in His name. Your "knowing" God is not going to be a pass to enter the Kingdom when you die and leave this earth. It's God's knowledge of YOU. Does the Lord know you as His own? If you are unsure, now is the time to examine yourself in light of Scripture.
3. The faith that saves, is a faith that changes-Did you know that the devils believe in God, and tremble at that belief? (James 2:19) We know that the devils aren't going to Heaven, so what is it that makes your belief different than theirs? Tears at the preaching of the Word (as Spurgeon illustrates), feeling bad when you wrong someone, or even being afraid of Hell do not prove that one has been made a child of God. You must be born again.
I realize that the type of self-examination that is required here is hard. It forces us to humble ourselves and honestly assess our situation before a standard that is much higher than our own. In light of what's at stake, there is nothing in the world more important. Even if you live to be 100 years-old, eternity proves that this life is but a vapor. Where will you spend your eternity, and on what basis do you believe that? There are some hard admissions to be made, even for believers. It is absolutely not only for the unbeliever to examine him/herself; it is the duty of every Christian to examine ourselves as well. 1 John gives us a good "test," if you will to conduct an examination of our faith. Please, if you read this and are unsure of the destiny of your eternal soul, take some time to consider this message:
You have to face God when you die. The Bible says all have sinned, and fall short of the Glory of God, this means you, I, and everyone human on this planet. There is none righteous, not even one. If you've told one lie that makes you guilty of breaking God's law. God's perfect justice requires that He punish sin, and His punishment for sin (which is in our nature, not just our activities) is eternity in Hell. This is horrid, yet there is hope. God the Father sent His Son Jesus (fully God and fully man) to the earth. He lived a life of perfection that none of us is able to replicate. He was murdered by Crucifixion (died on a Cross) took upon Himself the wrath of God that we all deserve. Three days later, He ROSE FROM THE DEAD!!!! He defeated the grave in conquering death! Through the perfect life of Christ, His shed blood, death, burial and resurrection, God grants forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who believe. For this to happen, you MUST BE BORN AGAIN. This is a work that only God can accomplish. This is when God supernaturally gives you a new heart and comes to live in you in the person of the Holy Spirit. Because of this new heart and the Holy Spirit, there will begin to be a hunger for the righteousness of God that will lead to repentance, turning from sin, and trusting Christ as Lord and Savior. Repent, and obey the Gospel.

If you have read this and are a believer already, never forget the Gospel. It is not only how we come to be saved, it is how we are sustained day by day. The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is a phenomenal truth-get out and share it with the lost.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

ESV Study Bible Giveaway at Streams Of Thought!!

I know, I know; at least half of you probably already got one since all the cool Christians preordered it and got it the first day out. Well, the truth is, I don't have one yet and I might not be the only one. Sooooooo, if you are like me and are late on all the latest, here's your opportunity to win a Bonded Leather ESV Study Bible!! That's right, win, which means FREE! It's as easy as pushing a few buttons, and tapping a few keys. All you have to do is EITHER subscribe to Streams of Thought under "Streams of Subscribers" along the left side of the blog, OR sign up to follow SOT under "Streams of Followers." Next, leave a comment in this blog entry letting me know which you did, and that's it. During the 2nd week of February, I will take all the names of new subscribers and followers, put them in a hat, and have my 2 year-old daughter pick one out. The winner gets a brand new, bonded leather ESV Study Bible. How easy is that? If you already have your copy, why not tell a friend so that they can share in the blessing of deeper study of God's Word? Thanks in advance friends!

God Bless You!

PS, not familiar with the ESV Study Bible and its rich resources? Click here for a 5-minute overview featured on Youtube:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why I Blog-Up to 5 Reasons

While mentally composing my next blog (teaser: it deals with why Christians still need the Gospel, and what it means that we are not perfect as some suppose we think), I thought, "wouldn't it be cool to tell folks why I blog in the first place?"  So here I am, writing a brief summary in much the same way I'd like some of my favorite bloggers to, about why I blog.  As you notice from the title, it will be "up to" 5 reasons I blog.  It actually might turn out to be only 2 or 3, as I am typing this as I do most of my other blogs; namely, from my mind to the computer.  Therefore, I haven't counted the reasons yet, though I will intentionally not exceed five for pseudo-brevity's sake.  So, on to the main event:  Up to 5 Reasons why I Blog: (In no particular order)

1.  Because I love to restate what I am learning- One opportunity that blogging gives me is to yap to myself (and you few readers) about what I'm learning in life through Scripture, experience, and otherwise.  It also helps to solidify that learning.  After all, how can I forget what I was meditating on in Proverbs when I can go right here and find it?  By writing, I am able to make concrete concepts that I learned that might be less cohesive if not put on paper (e-paper, that is).  

2.  Because as I seek to improve my writing, my thinking improves- I believe this one is self-explanatory, but just in case, I'll explain.  Although, I'm a thinkaholic, I've not always thought for the sake of writing.  In other words, I have always thought all the time, though for myself only.  That means that my thoughts had no reason to be organized just so, or even clear enough for anyone to understand but me.  As long as I could convey those thoughts verbally, I was OK.  With blogging, however, I have been forced to take the thoughts I have normally, and organize them in such a way as to express them clearly to a reader rather than a listener.  That continues to challenge me in ways that have served to improve my thinking.  Now when I have a barrage of thoughts about a particular topic, I think "how would I express that in my blog."  This is a vast (and welcome) improvement over thinking with no end in mind.  This blog has become an end to the means that are my thoughts.  If this doesn't make sense, it's proof that my thinking has more improvement remaining, and that encourages me :)

3. Because my blog is another accountability partner- For better or for worse, I'll be heading to the gym in a half-hour primarily because my Lord was gracious.  He dealt with me through His Word about some of my misconceptions and self-deception about the temple He gave me.  He allowed me to see in His Word the importance of glorifying Him with my Body; that I am bought with a price and do not belong to myself.  A secondary motivation is because I wrote 2 blogs about it called "My Belly's Conscience," parts 1 and 2.  How can I stop when I made the commitment before all 3 of my readers to get in shape?  See how that works?  My wife is my primary human accountability, and I love her for being so amazing. Then the brothers I fellowship with are great accountability partners.  Let's face it though, they all love me unconditionally, and if I did fail would encourage me and help me to seek God's grace in getting back on the right track.  I know at least a couple of you though, (my readers) who would say, "awwww, I knew you wouldn't make it."  That is a different kind of accountability, yet I find it extremely motivating.  Who says there's no place in life for the naysayer?  Without them, we probably wouldn't even have airplanes......

4.  Because I am unable not to give what I receive- This reason is really related to the first.  I mentioned my love for restating what I learn, but I really mean I can't not teach.  I have tried so many times to just have normal conversations about what I'm learning or have learned.  Epic failure:  No matter what, I always wind up teaching.  I believe the Lord has called me to it. I am so under prepared for it though; both from a knowledge perspective, and skill perspective.  I don't deny the gift the Lord has given me, but it still needs sharpening and honing.  That's what my local Body is for, and it's functioning well to equip me.  Blogging, however, has added a new dimension of preparation.  Namely, consistency in getting thoughts from my head to an audience with clarity.   My prayer is that the more I blog, the sharper my focus and clearer my thinking.  I believe this will be evidenced, in part, by my ability to say more with fewer words.  Abraham Piper (yes, John's son) has a blog called 22 Words that I love because every post is exactly 22 words! How's that for brevity?  That must take a lot of thought, and I'm sure it has trained him to express himself more skillfully and succinctly.  That's my prayer for myself.  That the Lord would use this blog to reach the lost (as the Gospel WILL be preached here), and to Glorify Himself, and to help prepare me for the mission He's given me.  Who knows, one day I might actually write less than 24000 words, and still get to my point.  That would be the Grace of God at work :) 

That's all for now, so it's 4 and not 5 reasons.  Well I said "up to 5" anyway.  These are some of my reasons; I likely have 20 or better in fact.  Some may see these reasons as not worthy or even as silly or trivial.  You are more than welcome to that opinion.  If you are a believer, please pray that if the Lord is pleased to, He'll use this outlet as a sharpening tool to me, an evangelistic tool to the loss, and at the very least, an entertainment tool to you the reader.  
Grace and Peace

PS, If you are a blogger (or not), and have constructive criticism on how I can improve, please comment to that effect.  I welcome suggestions for improvement and would love to hear from you.  Thanks in advance.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Coram Deo=Before the Face of God

I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil-Psalm 101:2-4

Let me start by saying this: There is NOTHING done in secret. All things are laid bare before the Creator of the universe. While I have affirmed this truth as long as I can remember, until God made me His child, it never meant a hill of beans in terms of how I lived. Coram Deo, latin for "before the face of God" should bring fresh fear to the heart of a believer. It means that our entire lives, both private and public, are lived out in the sight of a blazingly Holy God.
As I was reading "Worldliness," a book of essays compiled by CJ Mahaney, I was struck by the chapter entitled, "God, my heart, and Media" written by Craig Cabaniss. Struck because it's been a very long time since I have taken inventory of my heart when it comes to my media habits. I should say, honest and Scripture-informed inventory. I, like many before me, have compared my own media habits to others, and of course I came out "better than average" against that standard. The bitter truth, however, is that the standard is not "other people," but the only objective truth known to man-the Word of God.
So what was it that struck me about this particular essay? Well, I'm glad you ask. In his essay, Cabaniss at one point writes, "Many of us don't think about actively filtering our viewing [television]. As long as we avoid the obvious traps such as pornography, we don't consider deliberate evaluation necessary. Though we may faithfully apply the Scriptures in other areas of life, we may not consciously think about how God's Word applies to our entertainment choices." While reading this, I wondered aloud what such conscious thought would look like played out in my life. I was reminded of a lyric from Da TRUTH, a Christian artist, that goes "some of what I struggle with is internal..........; that's why I GOT CERTAIN CHANNELS ON MY TELEVISION BLOCKED." It's that type of intentional, proactive thought into my intake that I need. Actually, I must go even beyond the blocking of certain channels. A particular channel may not get blocked, but there needs to be a growth in Biblical discernment that leads to my changing channels more often than I have. The apostle John noted two-thousand years ago that all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and pride in possessions (1 John 2:16). Has anything changed from that generation to this? It is against this backdrop that the Lord warns us not to love the world, neither the things in it. Let's walk through an important text concerning our walks. Ephesians 5:1-16 (all emphasis mine)
Eph 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Eph 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
Eph 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
Eph 5:5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Eph 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Eph 5:7 Therefore do not become partners with them;
Eph 5:8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light Eph 5:9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),
Eph 5:10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
Eph 5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
Eph 5:12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.
Eph 5:13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,
Eph 5:14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
Eph 5:15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
Eph 5:16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil

Wow! As I read this passage over and again, I realize God's call to discern what is pleasing to Him; at the same time, the clear description of what's displeasing to Him should rouse my suspicion in both what I watch and what I listen to. How much of what's contained in this passage do I intentionally avoid in my personal life, yet entertain myself with in depictions of the lives of others? How is my behavior much different in this, than the behaviors I typically discipline my children for as dishonoring? For example, let's say I instruct my 4 year-old not to run across the living room because it's dangerous. He proceeds to walk as fast as humanly possible instead of running. Is his speed-walking less dangerous? Is it honoring to me that he is seeking to "push the envelope" of obedience as far as he can without blatantly disobeying? On the contrary, I correct him because what he is doing is, at the core, showing his desire to disobey the spirit of my command, even while obeying the letter. Also, let's say he completely stops running, yet encourages and even finds entertainment in his little sister's running. What does that say about his heart? In the same way, I could be seen as dishonoring my Lord's commands by "pushing the envelope" of obedience by being entertained by the very things that God hates, the things that actually put my Savior on the cross. I, like the author of the essay, am not advocating the banishment of all TV, movies or other entertainment. What I agree with is that thoughtless watching is to be avoided as dangerous. The pursuit of holiness is indeed an intentional pursuit. As Cabaniss points out, "we don't accidentally drift into holiness; rather, we mature gradually and purposefully, one choice at a time."
I certainly am not exempt from the many self-justifications that are possible when faced with these Scriptural truths. I have argued, like many others, that "I don't," for instance, "watch a murder and then go out and commit one." In other words, just because I watch such and such doesn't mean I'll imitate what I see. I'm smart enough to watch TV and then determine what the Lord finds displeasing about it, and then not do it. Cabaniss states, "our sanctification aspirations should be loftier than avoiding murder." It is blissful ignorance to believe that our hearts aren't negatively affected by the programs or films we watch. Not to mention the hearts of our children and spouses. As a man, I am held accountable for what I allow within my home, not just my own eyes. How's that for upping the ante?
Although I've only scratched the surface of what's contained in this short essay, I would highly recommend you read it for yourself. I'd like to leave you with some points the author makes to help facilitate thoughtful viewing. There are many more points than you'll see here, but I'll give a bite-size chunk as an example of the valuable advice I found here.
Cabaniss gives categorical questions that we can ask before viewing (or while viewing) that can help us discern the Lord's will concerning a particular show or movie. I'll just highlight two questions from each category here:
Time Questions
1. Am I delaying or skipping something important in order to watch this now?
2. In the last week, how much time have I spent on the spiritual disciplines, building relationships, or serving in my local church compared to the time consuming media?
Heart Questions
1. Do I secretly want to view something in this show/movie that is sinful? Am I deceiving myself by saying, "I'll fast-forward through the bad parts?"
2. Am I watching because I'm bored or lazy? If so, what does that reveal about my heart?
Content Questions
1. What does this show/movie glamorize? What is valued, or considered important?
2. Would I benefit in any way from viewing this show/movie or visiting this website?

Paul's word to the Corinthians that all things are lawful, yet not helpful is an oft-used text to herald the joys of Christian liberty. I, myself have harped on this verse to advocate my freedom to watch whatever I please, so long as it's not "blatantly sinful." Think about this quote from "Worldliness," though:
"What if we began to test all our media consumption from the nightly news to our entertainment programs to our video rentals? And furthermore, what if the standard was looking for what might be beneficial instead of what might simply be permissible?" In my life, this would/will change a lot. Look back to the Scripture that opened this entry; Psalm 101:2-4
I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil
The psalmist seems to have gotten the point of permissible vs. beneficial. We live our entire lives Coram Deo, before the face of God. I pray that God would give me the grace to walk as such in public, but even more so as David in Psalm 101; WITHIN MY HOUSE. I pray the same for you as well.
Grace and Peace

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday with Spurgeon

Hebrews 9:27 It is appointed unto man once to die; then after that, the Judgment.

Today, I'm again going to let the words of Charles Spurgeon speak.  Prayerfully, the Lord will be pleased to use what's been written to convict those who read that may not know Him; that they will be drawn to the Lord by His Spirit, and granted repentance and faith in the Living Christ.  
Today is the day of Salvation.  Repent, and be reconciled to your Creator.

The Blindness of the Lost

Many will sit here tonight, who have, through a long life, committed a hundred sins of which they would be ashamed to be reminded, and yet they are not ashamed of them.  They would only be ashamed to be found out; they are not ashamed of the sin itself.  A man truly awakened by the Spirit of God feels the remembrance of his sin to sting him as with scorpions.  He cannot bear it.  But the great mass of people does a thousand wrong things, and yet they are not troubled, but feel quite at their ease.  Some of you are probably within a very  short time of death and judgment, and yet you can make sport of sin.  How often does it happen that people come to the place of worship, and go their way, having rejected solemn appeals; and they will never hear any more!  They have had their last warning.  Oh, if they could but know that , during the week, they will fall down dead, or be laid aside with sickness, never to leave the bed again!  Yet, they trifle on the brink of fate, on the very verge of everlasting woe.  If you saw a man going straight onto the very brink of some dreadful precipice, and you saw him about to take another step, you would say, "That man is blind.  I am sure that he is,  or else he would not act like that."  People do not go into terrible danger with their eyes open; yet there are many of our fellowmen, perhaps many of ourselves, going right on carelessly and heedlessly to the very brink of the awful abyss without a thought of danger.  They must be blind.  This horrible peace of conscience, this quenching of the Spirit whenever conscience does stir itself, this playing and trifling with death and judgment prove that they are blind.
Charles H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Offense, 21st Century Style.....

"Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them." Ps. 119:165.

As a part of my morning devotion yesterday, I read an essay from Al Mohler's book, "Culture Shift."  An excellent read, the essay speaks on today's culture of offendedness, and how it strays from historical viewpoints on the subject.  Mohler opens up the essay as follows: "A new and unprecedented right is now the focus of legal, procedural, and cultural concern in many corridors-a supposed right not to be offended."  I found this to be a striking statement in light of, not only my own experience, but in light of what Scripture teaches about such an attitude.

Proverbs 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

From the tenor of the Bible, an offense is more than something said or done that evokes emotional discomfort.  Offense is a stumblingblock.  In his essay, Mohler references Christian philosopher Paul Helm who states, "Historically, being offended has been a very serious matter.  To be offended is to be caused to stumble so as to fall, tto fail, to apostasize, to be brought down, to be crushed."  Wow!  How far is this from what we experience in society today, when we have lawsuits because someone is "offended" that another wants to pray before a soccer game?  In many arenas, it appears that "I'm offended" is the new "I'm uncomfy."  These things ought not to be. 
 Jesus tells His Disciples in  Matthew 5:29, "If your right eye offends you, pluck it out and cast it aside."
in Matthew 18:6, Jesus is found giving a stark warning to any who might offend the "little ones" who believe in Him.  
In both these cases (and more; this is by no means exhaustive) "offend" means "causes you to sin."  Jesus did not have in mind the emotional comfort or discomfort of his subjects.  He had in mind the real meaning of the word offend.  The offense we hear so much of today is shallow, self-centered, and at its core, an affront to some key freedoms inherent within a democracy.  As Mohler quotes Salman Rushdie, "democracy is not a tea party where people sit around making polite conversation.  In democracies, people get extremely upset with each other.  They argue vehemently against each other's positions."
The point here is, if mere emotional discomfort or the provocation of negative feelings equals offense, then we are all in trouble; especially, as Mohler points out, regarding issues like free speech.
The proposed right to not be offended is evident in all spheres of life today.  Work, home, government, etc.
The fact that we as believers are charged by God with the sharing of His Gospel makes this ridiculous climate we live in all the more tricky to navigate.  How do we preach a Gospel that's promised to offend (as in cause to stumble, as Christ ALWAYS has those who don't believe) in a culture so bent on itself? 
What are your takes on offense? 
 Is being easily offended a sign of immaturity and/or selfishness? 
 Have you indeed seen the "Culture Shift" regarding what is deemed offensive and what is not? 
What should offend a Christian, if anything?
 Share your thoughts!  

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Dangers, Results, and History of Decisional Regeneration

Our Brother Lane Chaplin on his blog, has a post that discusses the dangers of Decisional Regeneration. This is also known widely as "easy believism," and is pervasive in the church today. Unfortunately, this methodology finds no support in Scripture, and is so dangerous, attention must be drawn to it. The Bible speaks of the new birth as a miracle granted by God alone by His Spirit. Salvation is of the Lord, not of man. Romans 9:16 says clearly, Therefore, God's choice does not depend on a person's will or effort, but on God himself, who shows mercy.
So many have "said the prayer," or "filled out the card," yet show no fruit of repentance and faith in their lives. Many have been given false assurance of their salvation from an emotionally-driven altar call (public profession), or otherwise repeated prayer. From Lane Chaplin: "If you're looking for a good, concise way to present what is wrong with the modern approach to evangelism, I believe that you have to look no further." Please view this video with a mind to know the truth about the awesome miracle of Salvation, and from whom it originates-God, not man. Enjoy this sobering look into one of the darkest dangers of the Church today.
Lane's Blog: The Dangers, Results, and History of Decisional Regeneration

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday With Spurgeon

My thoughts
over the last week or so have really focused on evangelism. I felt that I had used excuse after excuse for why my fervor for the proclamation of the Gospel to strangers had waned. Quite frankly, excuse time was over for me. I thought back to the days when like Lecrae, I had a "backpack full of tracts, plus a Johnny Mac......" Johnny Mac of course being a John MacArthur Study Bible. I would leave a tract AND a handsome tip at every restaurant my family ate in. I would carry them to the malls, and to WalMart, and wherever else I went and would approach a stranger with "did you get one of these? It's a Gospel tract; do me a favor, take 3 minutes and read it will ya?" Almost never was the tract turned down. Quite the contrary actually; I found myself surprised often at the amount of folks who seemed genuinely thankful that someone cared enough to pass it to them. "Hey, thanks I appreciate it" was a common response. So why did I ever stop? Well, here's the section that finds me being transparent and a bit embarrassed. It was actually one man's exposition of Matthew 28:19, and the perspective that the passage speaks of "making disciples" as the thrust of evangelism. In other words, this person reasoned, passing out tracts isn't really the method God has chosen to add to His Church. Random acts of evangelism and tract-distributing didn't necessarily fall into Biblical evangelism. Anyway, I began to think differently at the purpose for passing out tracts; sort of an all or nothing deal. If you can't pass out a tract AND present the Gospel to a person, the tract is worthless. Needless to say, I have rejected that line of thinking in light of several passages of Scripture.
Paul Kaiser, at The Reformed Evangelist wrote an excellent treatment on 10 Reasons for Using Gospel Tracts. In his article, he makes several excellent points that are worth considering. I would commend this article to you as an encouragement to spreading the Gospel. One theologian (also Reformed) says of evangelism, "we are all sent. it is our calling to be witnessess. EVERY Christian must get in the game." Well said. Romans 1:16 lets me know that in the Gospel, the power of God unto Salvation dwells. It also mentions not being ashamed of the Gospel, which is another thought altogether. What of planting seeds of the Gospel? Is there no value in that anymore? The Bible certainly puts value on it. 1 Corinthians says one plants, one waters, and God gives the increase. If the Gospel is clear in the tracts I chose, how is that not planting seeds? God's Words are alive, and powerful (Hebrews 4:12), spoken or written. The question isn't whether God can use tracts to bring conviction, repentance and faith in the life of a sinner. Of course He can, so long as the tract conveys the truth of God's Word concerning our nature and the consequence and remedy of that nature. The question is whether I will allow such a solid way of distributing God's truth to be stymied by misunderstandings of what God wants from us. The answer is now no. I thought last night after doing an Exemplary Husband study with a dear Brother of mine, what's the best way to Glorify God; never share the Gospel until there is opportunity for dialogue and discourse, or touch as many people with the Gospel through tracts as possible? The latter actually opens up more opportunity for the former. LOL. I discovered all this time I had been duped. Duped into believing that passing tracts was in some way ineffective. The notion actually appealed to my sinful flesh because now I could do even less and depend even more heavily on God's Sovereignty in Salvation. Well, praise God, I'm back to square 1. That is, God's Sovereignty and my diligence will not be separated. Excuses out the window, it's now time to prayerfully select a smorgasbord of tracts that clearly and effectively put the Gospel of my Savior on display. (I will later post resources for solid Gospel Tracts for those of you who wish to get involved with evangelism from this perspective). Now take a moment to read what Spurgeon's take on tracts is. This, like all my Friday with Spurgeons, is from "Spurgeon Gold," I hope you enjoy it. I'll see you on the frontlines!! Grace and Peace!!!

Distribution of Tracts
before, and going from house to house, and telling in humble language the things of the kingdom
of God. I might have done nothing, if I had not been encouraged by finding myself able to do
something...[Tracts are] adapted to those persons who have but little power and little ability, but
nevertheless, wish to do something for Christ. They have not the tongue of the eloquent, but they
may have the hand of the diligent. They cannot stand and preach, but they can stand and distribute
here and there these silent preachers . . . They may buy their thousand tracts, and these they can distribute
“I look upon the giving away of a religious tract as only the first step for action not to be compared
with many another deed done for Christ; but were it not for the first step we might never
reach to the second, but that first attained, we are encouraged to take another, and so at the
last . . . There is a real service of Christ in the distribution of the gospel in its printed form, a service
the result of which heaven alone shall disclose, and the judgment day alone discover. How many
thousands have been carried to heaven instrumentally upon the wings of these tracts, none can
“I might say, if it were right to quote such a Scripture, ‘The leaves were for the healing of the
nations’—verily they are so. Scattered where the whole tree could scarcely be carried, the very
leaves have had a medicinal and a healing virtue in them and the real word of truth, the simple
statement of a Savior crucified and of a sinner who shall be saved by simply trusting in the Savior,
has been greatly blessed, and many thousand souls have been led into the kingdom of heaven by
this simple means. Let each one of us, if we have done nothing for Christ, begin to do something
now. The distribution of tracts is the first thing.”

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Gift that Keeps Giving.......Pt II

Psalm 127:4,5A
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. 5 How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;

Yes!! I'm back with the second installment of "The Gift that Keeps Giving," and this time I want to briefly highlight my children. I want to take the time to glorify and praise my Lord for His graciousness in my life. A graciousness that has been shown to me in the form of 4 beautiful children. I can tell you that looking back (as we all do at times), I would never have imagined myself having 4 children, but God is Sovereign and I'm so thankful. Have you ever heard someone say, "I keep going because of my kids?" Well, I've come to learn that there is some truth in that. Not TRUTH, like Biblical truth; truth in that there is an invigorating energy that your children give to you. There's also an awful lot of accountability to them because they grow and become in some ways products of your character and tendencies. Note the verse above; like arrows in the hand of a warrior. Whew, what imagery that is. I will say that the responsibility I have as a father is enormous! You don't just go shooting arrows all over the place!! There is forethought, intent, and purpose; otherwise you'd cause more damage than good. There have been great times and also painful periods of growth in that area for me. You know what though? It's worth every second of it. Now on to my little arrows :)
I want to acknowledge our God for 12 year-old Jay, 4 year-old Jayden, 2 year-old Amaya and 8 day-old Selah. I can not begin to express my gratitude to the Lord for healthy and very bright-eyed and energetic children! I want to praise my Lord for giving me a desire to train them in His ways, and blessing me with the energy required to do so. I want to thank God that He is Sovereign in salvation, and confess my utter dependence on Him for the opening of my children's eyes to Christ and their need. Over the last lil' while here, my children have been really expressing their care for one another in ways that are so refreshing to see. May the Lord continue to grant us the grace to teach them His standard of preferring one another over themselves. For my birthday, I want to bless God for giving me so many different means to grow in Christ-likeness, my children being 4 more. He uses them at times to convict me, encourage me, and show me what child-like faith really is. God is Awesome!! I am rocked by His kindness and mercy towards me when I look at the children He's given me, and I want to say Thank You. There's (as always) so much more I could say, but for now this will suffice :) For my 34th year, I pray that I will be a more Christ-like father, and that God will grant me more grace to shepherd the hearts of my children towards Him. I love you Jay, Jayden, Amaya, and Selah!!
Thank you Lord!!
Stay tuned for Parts III and IV (My Parents, and The Body)

The Gift that Keeps on.......Pt. I

You know the rest! Well fam, today is my birthday. It's blurry though, because I have to work and carry on as if it's any other old day. :) And really, it is just any other old day. The fact that I was born on this day in 1975 is not lost on me, it's just lost some of its luster in light of other events since. The one event that holds the most weight, of course, is my rebirth. The day my Lord graciously took my sin away and granted me repentance and faith. That trumps ALL, plain and simple. Eternal life and peace with my Creator just can't be touched. There is one blessing the Lord granted me outside my Salvation that is a close second though. Any guesses?
Oh, come on, you can play the game with me at least for a moment.
Proverbs 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from the LORD.
That's right!!! One of the few of you got it right, I'm sure. It's my wife, and my birthday today is a happy one in large part because of her being in my life. I thank God that He showed me favor by giving me a friend, helper, wonderful mother to my children, encourager, and accountability partner (even if unaware at times) in my wife. God has used and is using His daughter to work Christ-likeness out in me, and to comfort and/or exhort me when that Christ-like image is being tainted by my me-ness. My wife is one of the greatest manifestations of God's grace in my life I can think of. There's literally PAGES I could write to describe how she walks out the Biblical model of a Godly woman. Maybe another time, I will do just that. Today my purpose is to give honor and Glory to the Lord on my Birthday by saying: "Father, when you blessed me with my wife, you gave me a gift that would give for the duration of my time on this Earth. I praise you and thank you for allowing me to see another Birthday. I thank you for that not so I can celebrate me, but so that I would have another day to enjoy the richness of your favor towards me through my wife. It was through her that I learned of my true need for a Savior 5 years ago. Now 5 years later I'm being sanctified as a Child of God in part through her. You are awesome Lord, and I give you the glory for all that I have and am. Help me by your Spirit to love her as Christ loves the Church. That is my desire; that this, my 34th year of life would be marked by a sacrificial love for the wife of my youth. In Christ's name, Amen"
I love you Misha Brown!!

The Glory of God and "Thank You."

1Co 4:7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Actually, Paul asked the above questions to the Corinthians rhetorically. Surely anyone in their right minds would realize that all that we have we have received, ie been given, right? I mean, who would actually boast in say, a talent that he/she had not created within themselves? Who would actually think to take credit for some great idea that lead to financial well-being in this life? Surely, none of us have ever been in a position to give God glory, yet have failed to do so, eh? Negative, my friends. The fact is, during the course of our-one moment, let me switch points-of-view in order that I speak for myself-
The fact is, during the course of any given of my days, there are ample opportunities for me to ascribe Glory to whom it belongs. How often do I take credit given to me and actually redirect it to God, whose it is anyway? Is that actually what I'm doing when I respond to those who address me complimentarily? Someone says, innocently, "that was an extraodinary presentation," and I say, "thank you." In that situation, it seems relatively easy to justify my response. I mean, they just paid me a compliment, right? The proper response to that should be a hearty, genuine "thank you" right? Certainly, in the context of our society, that is the expectation and indeed shows appreciation for the compliment. What about in the context of Scripture, and God's point of view? Is saying "thank you" for a compliment robbing God of His glory? In light of the text above, is speaking of a talent or skill that one has (and has obviously received) boasting? Is there never a time when it's OK to say thank you to a compliment without mention of the Lord's grace in giving you whatever has been complimented? I ask this because I wonder what it looks like to reflect all Glory back unto the Lord. I've certainly been involved in conversations that went like this:
A: "You played an awesome game out there today! Great job!"
B: "Praise God, it was tough but we pulled it out."
In this scenario, it appeared that God was glorified (or at least recognized) as a result of a recognition of who ACTUALLY gave the ability. The question is, would it have been wrong for person B to respond, "thank you very much, I appreciate that"? This is what I'm pondering today; the glorification of our Lord in the mundane sphere of our response to compliment. What do you think? Is it OK just to thank someone without reference to the Lord?
I'd love to know your opinion. Grace and Peace.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday with Spurgeon

Happy Friday fam!  Usually, when I present "Friday with Spurgeon" I have a short commentary at the end.  In this case, there is nothing I need to add except if you are currently carrying your own sins on your back (ie, you have not repented and put your trust in the Savior Jesus Christ), please repent and be reconciled to your Creator.  If you are trusting Jesus for your salvation, then take a moment this morning and offer Him praise for His grace and mercy towards you.  Beyond that, enjoy today's excerpt from Spurgeon Gold, and may the Lord bless you who are His, draw you who are not.

The Reason Sinners Live
Read the Ten Commandments, pause at each one, and confess that you have broken it in either thought or word or deed. Remember that by a glance, we may commit adultery, by a thought, we may be guilty of murder, by a desire, we may steal. Sin is any want of conformity to perfect holiness, and that want of conformity is justly chargeable upon every one of us. Yet the Lord does not, under the gospel dispensation, deal with us according to the Law. He does not now sit on the throne of judgment, but He looks down upon us from the throne of grace. Not the iron rod, but the silver scepter, is held over us. The long-suffering of God rules the age, and Jesus the Mediator is the gracious Lord--lieutenant of the dispensation. Instead of destroying offending man from off the face of the earth, the Lord comes near to us in loving condescension, and pleads with us by His Spirit, saying, "You have sinned, but my Son has died. In Him, I am prepared to deal with you in a way of pure mercy and unmingled grace."

O sinner, the fact that you are alive proves that God is not dealing with you according to strict justice, but in patient forbearance; every moment you live is another instance of omnipotent long-suffering. It is the sacrifice of Christ that arrests the axe of justice, which else must execute you. The barren tree is spared because the great Dresser of the vineyard, who bled on Calvary, intercedes and cries, "Let it alone this year also." O my hearer, it is through the shedding of the blood and the mediatorial reign of the Lord Jesus that you are at this moment on praying ground and pleading terms with God! Apart from the blood of atonement, you would now be past hope, shut up forever in the place of doom. But see how the great Father bears with you! He stands prepared to hear your prayer, to accept your confession of sin, to honor your faith, and to save you from your sin through the sacrifice of His dear Son.

Charles Spurgeon-Spurgeon Gold

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Belly's Conscience, Part II

It's come and it's gone..........January 1st, the day of the renewed vigor around-well, around anything you've decided to start, restart, quit, or improve.  It's been almost a month since I posted part 1 of "My Belly's Conscience," and a lot has happened since then.  Remember I said that the change from sedentary slothfulness was a conviction based on my reading the Word and discovering some things about God's desire for me.  You know, my body not being my own as I'm bought with a price, the at least temporal profit of bodily exercise, etc.  Well, as such, the changes I've made are about more than the awesome contest my brethren at HCR started for "the biggest loser."  They're actually around pleasing my Lord, and glorifying Him through this temple He graciously gave me.  It's that motivation that has me going to the gym, eating 6 healthy meals a day, and taking a multivitamin like clockwork.  I want to DO 1 Corinthians 10:31, which says Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.  I used to look at areas of my life that I wasn't living up to this standard, and use them as excuses for other areas.  If I felt like I wasn't being all I could be for the Lord in the area of prayer, for instance, I would use that as a crutch to blow off fellowship.  I often reasoned, "I'll address my slothfulness once I've tackled my reading schedule."  This,  I've come to realize by God's grace, is the height of absurdity.  Growth in a Christian context is not a wholesale occurrence that happens at a single point in time.  Quite the contrary, as we walk with our Lord, He produces growth by His spirit from point to point, often revealing specific areas of growth He'd like to key on.  As we study His Word, fellowship, and pray, we are shown ourselves (and shortcomings) from various different angles, and by His grace, we seek to be shown.  As we're shown, we seek to address them as the effect of desiring to please God, and be of most use to Him and His Kingdom.  This is what happened to me.  I shared with you in part 1 that I had come to realize that I was a poor steward of the temple the Lord gave me.  I was convicted by the Holy Spirit to change that, and I wanted to update you and let you know what some of those changes are.
1. I go to the gym regularly now- The important piece here is that I go with the distinct feeling that I "must" go as if "compelled;" and I LIKE it.  That is far different from when I used to go and it was pure drudgery.  Every time I went, I knew it was potentially my last time there.
2. I eat 5-6 small, healthy meals per day- Again, this has become a joy for me to eat that way.  I went to a restaurant today with my family and I really, really, really HAD NO DESIRE to eat outside of the pattern.  Grilled chicken on a salad with lite Italian dressing, and water.  This is AMAZING!!! I can only attribute it to God's grace.  There is no way in the world that even 2 weeks ago I would've WILLINGLY made that choice.  Today, I can truly say I enjoy eating more responsibly.  Praise our Lord for that.  
3.  I drink no carbonated drinks- Again, all Praise due to my Lord for the ease of dropping those drinks.
4.  I read the nutrition facts on the backs of foods I'm about to consume- Praise God
This is just a quick-hit list of some of the changes that have been granted me so far.  I am convinced that there are more to come.  Some of you may be thinking, "but you just started, how can you be sure these are lasting changes?"  I would have to admit I completely understand that line of questioning, given the slew of New Year's Resolutions that have come and gone unkept.  I can only say that the Lord prompted this change through His Word, and His Spirit, and my motivation is Christ-centered.  It's really not about me losing x amount of weight or looking like this or that.  It's really a desire I have been given, thankfully, to really glorify God in my members, be a good example to my children, and be used of God in ways that would be difficult had I continued on my previous path.  My desire, is God's glory, and I'm persuaded that it's a desire He gave me.  For those reasons, I am confident in His ability to keep me in that which  I seek to use for Him and His Kingdom.
As a follow-up though, I do intend to in 6 months come back for part 3 of "My Belly's Conscience."
Pray for me till then.
Grace and Peace

Friday, January 2, 2009

Friday With Spurgeon

"Nothing can damn a man but his own righteousness; nothing can save a man but the righteousness of Christ."  Charles Spurgeon

What Took So Long?
Alas, I am here as promised delivering you the 2nd in my series of "Friday With Spurgeon" blogs, as late as I am.  This week has indeed been a full one.  Some of you may know that my wife and I have been expecting our newest addition to our family for what seems like the last 20 months lol.  Our daughter was actually due on the 31st of December, but God is teaching us patience through her since she's yet to arrive.  We've also been participants in various holiday activities with Christmas and New Year's coming in tandem, as is their custom.  I say all that to say, thank you for your grace as I've caused you (all 3 of you) to wait until the 11th hour on Friday to receive this, my latest Spurgeon entry.

Don't I Have Righteousness?    
Thinking about the above quote, I wondered aloud,  "is there nothing that can damn a man but his own righteousness?"  Surely murder, adultery, and other heinous sins damn men, don't they?  There has to be something else that damns a man besides his own righteousness, huh?  Thinking further, though, reveals a potent truth.  One may have no righteousness besides his own,  unless another were actually able to give him theirs.  We often hear of people referring to talents of children as "something their mom or dad gave them."  What is meant by that, is that somehow that child inherited that artistic ability, or athletic prowess, or some other attribute that can easily be seen and attributed to one or both parents.  Since I was a better-than-decent athlete, people can see my son's success on the field/court and say, "you gave him that speed," or "you gave him those reflexes," and there could be at least a hint of truth in the statement.  The truth of such statement lies in the fact that I actually have what I am suspected of giving my son; namely, athletic ability.  In the case of righteousness, however, this system of thought breaks down holistically.  First, let me define my terms here.  By righteousness, I mean what I believe is meant Biblically; that is, a right standing with GOD the creator by virtue of moral perfection.  Now let me ask the question, "who has this?"  The answer of course, is no one.  This is why Romans 3:10 says unequivocally, "there is none righteous, no not one."  Now this leads to a question about Spurgeon's quote.  If none of us has the righteousness that God requires, then how can it be said that my righteousness is the very thing that will damn me?
To understand this aspect of Spurgeon's quote, let's look at a few Scriptures:
In Matthew 5:20, Jesus says
For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.Image and video hosting by <span class=
What was the righteousness that Jesus referred to?  The Pharisees and the scribes (especially the former) had a type of righteousness that focused almost totally on external righteousness.  That is, they dotted every religious "i" and crossed every religious "t."  They said loud and public prayers, they publicly gave alms, and they could quote nearly all the Scripture from memory.  Impressive, huh?  Not quite, because while externally they kept so many of the laws letter, they all but ignored the keeping of the intent, or spirit of the law.  The righteousness of the Pharisees  wasn't really righteousness at all.  Theirs was a pseudo-righteousness that led to lots of religious activity, yet lacked the power to change their motivations and true affections.  This righteousness was contrived and in essence, native to all of us as fallen humans.  God has this to say about such righteousness: Isaiah 64:6 For we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment: and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.  Wow, the "righteousness" that we possess God sees as polluted garments, which is actually a mild way to say what is expressed in Hebrew here.  So we see that our righteousness is not worthy of God's acceptance, and we see that even the religiously astute Pharisees' righteousness is not enough to get us to Heaven.  The reason for this is because the only righteousness we as fallen humans can conjure up is external righteousness.  God's standard is moral perfection, and we couldn't get there if we lived in a bubble.  From before even the first selfish wail as children wanting our own way, we are tainted with the nature of Adam.  There is no external exercise that can rid us of this nature.  Going to Church several times per week, praying 100 times per day, giving  to the poor in Oprah-like proportions, or saying "I believe in God" until we convince all around us does not accomplish a thing relative to God's requirement for righteous perfection.  In this way, it can never be said of me that I gave my child my righteousness.  I simply have no righteousness to give.  Now let's imagine that the things I mentioned as futile-my Church attendance, my upstanding citizenship, my prayers, my giving to the poor-were the very things I depended on to gain favor with God.  There are other things that can be said to constitute "my righteousness."  These things become clearer when this question is considered: "If you were to die today and face God, and He asked "why should I let you into my heaven?" what would the answer be?  Whatever the answer to this question is reveals whose righteousness is being trusted.  I've asked this question of a few people I know to be either blatant unbelievers, or professed believers who are Church goers.  Sadly, the answers of both groups vary very little. They include:
1.  I try my best to live by the teachings of Jesus
2.  I always ask God to forgive me
3.  I go to Church and pray all the time
4.  I asked the Lord into my heart once before
5.  I'm a good person
What do all these answers have in common?  "I."  God should let me into Heaven because "I......"  This shows a dependence on the righteousness that is not possessed.  Self righteousness is really no righteousness at all.  Believing that my or your activity grants us any favor with, or commends us to God in any way is a sure route to Hell.  This is the very idea behind Spurgeon's quote.  The only thing that can damn a man is his own righteousness.

External Righteousness-The Straw that Broke The Camel's Back

 One's own righteousness can do not a thing to affect the problem that exists between man and God.  This is one of enmity, that is the nature of sinfulness that makes the unregenerate (that is, one who has not been born again through repentance and faith) an enemy of God.  Regardless of the perception of goodness in a person's external activity, not one person would be willing to have their thoughts from the last 24 hours broadcast for all to see.  This is because at our core, we are sinful, having thoughts and deeds that don't match.  The "best" person in the world wouldn't want you to view their thought life, because even against their own wills, they have evil and sinful thoughts, as do we all.  That alone should be proof enough that there is none righteous from God's perspective.  That is why our righteousness before God is but filth.  I can recall giving $10 to a homeless man in DC once.  Afterward, I felt so good that I reasoned that I was the only one in the group I was with who cared enough for this man's plight that I acted.  So while I was giving to the poor, my thoughts were bathed in the filth of personal pride.  Paul was so right when he lamented, "when I would to do good, evil is present before me," in Romans 7.  Our self righteousness will forever prevent us from seeing the sin that exists even in our good, unless God Himself intervenes.  God Himself has intervened.  We have a deep problem when ours is the righteousness we depend on to save us.  It's an eternally damning problem.  We have no righteousness worthy of God's Grace; yet He gives grace to those who realize the truth of Spurgeon's statement.  Once we come to grips with the humiliating truth that we have nothing worth anything to offer to a perfect and Holy God, we can enter into element B of the quote we are examining.  

Nothing can save a man but the righteousness of Christ.  

We see then that any righteousness we possess in and of ourselves is worthless in God's economy.  This is a wholesale problem affecting all humans born of Adam.  This takes us back to one of my first observations, namely, that one may have no righteousness besides his own,  unless another were actually able to give him theirs.  If we have said that all those born of Adam have no real righteousness, who then would actually be able to give righteousness to anyone?  Jesus, the only morally perfect human to ever live, is the only answer.  Hence, the b clause of Spurgeon's quote.  Through the perfect life lived by the God/Man Jesus, sinful and righteous-void humans like me and you, can be declared righteous through repentance and faith in His work.  That is, His life, death, burial, and resurrection.  As the Scriptures speak: Romans 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.  But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 
and again: Romans 5:17 For if by the transgression of the one (Adam), death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 
The only righteousness that God will count as ACTUAL righteousness, is the righteousness of Christ.  We obtain that righteousness by Grace, through Faith in the person and work of Christ.  There is no other way to obtain it.  No one  can work hard enough, or be good enough to satisfy the righteous requirements of God.  Repent and Trust Christ, and the perfect and righteous life He lived will be accounted to you.  In this way, the righteousness of Christ will save you.  Repent and trust not, and your own righteousness will be more than enough to damn you to Hell for eternity.