October 30, 2008

Still Ain't Too Late to Hear All of Grace for Free!!!

I am trying hard to refrain from spewing out threats to anyone who has not yet downloaded this book for free: All of Grace by Charles H. Spurgeon. I already listened to it in the car to and fro my work. It is well worth every word Mr. Spurgeon prayed over and took his pen in hand to write.

Go ahead and download it before the month is over... there is still one day left! :)

P.S. And I would love to hear what people think who have been listening already. Thanks, grace to you!

Related Post:
FREE: All of Grace Audio Book!!!

October 25, 2008

FREE: All of Grace Audio Book!!!

I just read Noel Piper's post on the Desiring God blog this morning about free audio book resources. She mentioned All of Grace being free this month. So I downloaded the free audio book: All of Grace by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. I already read this book before, and I've given them away to Christians needing to be taught. It is very good and should be read by everyone! The chapters are short and easy to understand (it is not a big book, but a little one). It is worth reading again and again! So go ahead and download it while it is free, otherwise as soon as this month is over, it will cost around $15. And if you drive as excessively as I do, it is very valuable to have something like this to listen to in the car. You can also order a free paperback from Chapel Library's literature catalog, or buy it for around $3.21 if you write to them or call.

To make it easy on you if you want a paperback, just write:

Chapel Library
2603 W. Wright St.
Pensecola, Florida 32505

And include this information:

Item: aogr
Title: All of Grace
Author: C. H. Spurgeon

They will send you a free one, or if you want more than one, they are $3.21 each. There is a study guide included if requested (but it is one that takes a lot of time, I tried it, but didn't complete it because I am way too busy for my age :)

Related Post:
Still Ain't Too Late to Hear All of Grace for Free!!!

October 22, 2008

Seeing and Savoring Christ in Psalm 119: Aleph

Psalm 119 has been a blessing for many saints throughout history. It is one that has refreshed and renewed my zeal and desire to know and to live by God's Word. However, I realize there are many Christians who do not realize that this Psalm, as well as the rest of the Psalms in Scripture are written about Christ (Luke 24:44). It is my desire to meditate on Christ in this Psalm as I memorize it.

We begin with Aleph, which is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD!

We know that many saints have walked blamelessly at times before men (Gen. 6:9; Job 1:8), but who has been blameless in God's sight ? Yet Christ came to walk blamelessly in the law of the LORD for us who believe in Him, in order that He might present us blameless to the Father through Himself (Eph. 1:4). Only now, through Him and by His Holy Spirit are we made willing and able to walk as blamelessly as we can until He presents us perfect on the day of Christ (Phil. 1:10; Col. 1:22; 1 Thes. 3:13, etc.). All glory to God for that!

2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
who seek Him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong, but walk in His ways!

Again, only through Christ are we able to do these things, and yet who has kept his own heart steadfastly on God without doing any wrong? Only Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!

4 You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!

There is a standard all men and women must meet in order to be right with God, His commandments must be kept diligently. This prayer is a longing to fulfill that command. What a blessing of divine grace and benevolence that Christ the Lord has fulfilled this requirement as a substitute for His own people (Matt. 3:15; Rom. 5:19)!

6 Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.
There is no shame for those who do not break God's commandments. The shame of Adam has been passed to all his offspring (Gen. 2:25 and 3:7,10; Rom. 5:12), accept for the Son of Man, the New Adam, who knew no sin (1 Cor. 15:45,47; 2 Cor. 5:21). Christ learned obedience through what He suffered (Heb. 2:10, 5:8), and so His praise comes from a truly upright heart, because He has both learned and fulfilled God's righteous rules for us. What a blessing it is to have His steadfast obedience imputed (counted) to such worthless sinners as us who are called and chosen in Him (Rom. 5:19; 8:30)! What mercy and grace! We may now praise Him with a new heart as we learn His righteous rules through our Prophet, Priest and King.

8 I will keep your statutes,
I will not forget your word.
Thank God that we have one who has not forgotten the word of the Lord and has kept His statutes blamelessly. What a privilege it will be when we find ourselves transformed into His exact likeness (1 John 3:2)!

This is looking to Jesus in Aleph, from Psalm 119. Let us not forget what our Lord came to do. Hallelujah!

October 21, 2008

Six Lessons Learned, Even Seven I'm Reminded of This Year

Stephanie had me on her list of people to tag about sharing six things I learned this year. While many of these things I may have learned over many years, I am at least reminded again this year of them and their importance.

So here are six things I've learned this year, even seven that I've been reminded of (these aren't necessarily in order):

1. Getting enough sleep and exercise, as well as eating carefully is extremely important to keeping yourself able to do just simple daily things well like work or ministry. Oh, how I learned I need discipline to do this.

2. Not only is God able to do the impossible, He does do the impossible for those who believe His Word!

3. I've been learning Spanish, and this year I've learned to say Efesios 2:8-9 and Romanos 3:10-12 without looking at the page. I have also learned many other words, and can sometimes even understand people when they speak in Spanish! I also just learned that in Vietnamese, "Gong Lam" means "Very Good," which I said to the people at the restaurant this Sunday and they laughed and smiled because I knew something in their language. I also learned that Chao Ahng is hello to men and Chao Ba is hello to women. Doc Kinh Tanh means Read the Bible.

4. I've learned about blogging this year (before I knew very little about this crazy internet world).

5. I learned that you have to spend time with and talk/witness to your family members (like grandparents) before they die and you lose the opportunity. There are no excuses that can be made. Time is short and they/you may not be alive tomorrow.

6. This one certainly is not the least important, but knowing, understanding and holding to the correct gospel is absolutely essential to being a Christian. What salvation do we have if we have faith in the wrong message??? Don't be lazy about examining your own beliefs about this with Scripture! The Bible teaches one gospel, and that is Christ. Salvation is by faith alone in Christ, and the Scriptures show us that. We can't add anything to it, like baptism, good works, miracles, dreams/prophecies, our obedience, our own natural faith, some gifted leader, the church we attend, sacraments, or anything else. Christ has done all the work on the cross, and salvation is by believing the good news in Him, not about what you have to do. We must repent and believe, but that is by looking to Christ as the Scriptures reveal to us the way He has been manifested. Obedience is the essential fruit, but not the root of salvation in Christ. Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, who died and lives, who is God in the flesh, He is the gospel! I cannot make this point more important to remember each and every day and year!

7. I'm always reminded that it is all of grace! :) Salvation is all of grace. Living the Christian life is all of grace. Evangelism is all of grace. Knowing God in Christ is all of grace. Waiting on God through prayer is all of grace. Seeing Him answer my prayers is all of grace. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is all of grace. Walking in obedience to my Lord is all of grace. I am sooooooo thankful for His abundant grace through Christ Jesus my Lord!

I'll pass it on to Phylicia, Sean, CJ if they'd like to participate.

October 15, 2008

Are You Assured of Your Salvation? Why or Why Not?

Do you have assurance that you are saved? Why or why not?

This is something I've been thinking about lately. Mostly thinking about where my assurance lies. Every Christian thinks about this question from time to time. Personally, it is one that I have wrestled with intensely in the past. So I want to ask anyone who reads this post (whether or not you've commented here before - all readers wanted) to share a little about your personal assurance of salvation. There are two sides, those who say they have and those who don't - both are welcome to share.

1. Do you have assurance that you are saved? Why or why not?
2. How do you know?
3. How important is it for you to know whether you are going to heaven?

I will let you know my answer later. First I'd like to know what others say. Thanks!

The Good News of Love in Galatians - 10 min. or so

Pastor Mark in Philly asked me to speak for a few minutes before his sermon on Sunday. He has been preaching from Galatians, so I said something about the love of Christ in Galatians.

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October 14, 2008

Did Y'All (You All) See This DG Video Yet? Convicted the Hypocrite Out of Me

"James 3: A Story" - produced by Desiring God. This little film was made to go along with the theme of the 2008 National Desiring God conference two weeks ago on the power of words. I recommend listening to as many of these messages as you are able to (free to download).

James 3:8-10 says, "but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so."

My misuse of the tongue is a constant reminder to me that I am deeply in need of grace from God. That if I were judged based on my own standards, I would be worse off than those I've judged, and that I am so grateful for Christ who cleanses me from all sin with His blood, not only that, but even changes what comes out of my mouth by His grace.

Grace Abounding: Evangelism in York again

While I was at McDonald's waiting for Matt, I received a voice message from my S. Texas friend, Julian. I haven't heard from him in 2 1/2 years! Julian professed faith in Christ while talking with a fellow evangelist on the street near the University of Pittsburgh in 2006. He is also the one who taught me how to make Pico de Gallo and helped me begin to get interested in learning Spanish. I called him back later, also leaving a message. This time I quoted Efesios 2:8-9 to him to show him how much I've learned.

Matt had some more questions for me, and we were looking them up in the Bible, while the older lady was sweeping the floor nearby. She asked, "Is that the Bible?" I said, "Yeah. Are you a Bible reader, too?" She said, "Yes I am." She kept on sweeping the floor, so I said, "That's awesome" and smiled at her. She has been noticing us for some time now, so I think God is giving us a little favor with the McDonald's crowd (again, we are two young white guys in a mostly black and Hispanic McDonald's, so hopefully in a little more time we may start more conversations with those who work there... If the Lord wills).

We hit the streets afterward, and since the weather was so beautiful and warm, people were leisurely strolling about in the square. First guy we met was named "Day-day." He was hanging out like a homeless man, but I couldn't be sure. He had a big cross around his neck, so I sat down beside him and we talked about faith in Christ. He was going to church and watching Benny Hinn and other TV preachers for his soul food, so I asked him, "What about the gospel? What is it all about?" He didn't know, but thought it had to do with doing enough good works to get to heaven. He seemed interested in the tract I gave him, and his attitude was cheerful, so we talked some more about the cross, then left him to go walk around the block, praying along the way.
We met some more people briefly, handing out gospel tracts along the way. We then walked up to two guys hanging around a park bench, John and Terry. Terry only had one leg and needed to get a cab, so John was going to call one for him, but then he didn't need to. We talked for a bit, and John said he was a born-again Christian. He shared a brief testimony that seemed like maybe he knew the Lord, but maybe not (I couldn't tell). I said to Terry (the older man), "Do you know the song, 'Amazing Grace'? You know how it goes, 'Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me." I explained that we are the "grace men," just talking to people about God's grace. I said, "Grace is for hell-deserving sinners. Do you deserve to go to hell?" Terry said no, then looked at me and said, "Do you deserve hell?" I said, "If God doesn't send me to hell, there is something terribly wrong, 'cuz I violated every one of those ten commands." Then I explained the cross of Christ and how Grace through Christ Jesus is the only way, not works. Some more interaction with John and Terry went on, then we headed up to my car. On the way, we met some skater kids walking down the street. Two out of three accepted tracts, and one stopped to talk briefly.

A few other gracious things happened, which I don't have time to go into detail about, but our time in York tonight was brief, nevertheless very encouraging to me. People were a little open tonight. Probably partly due to the nice whether, yet even that is mercy from God... for now. Until then, here's a very important quote from A. W. Tozer on the practice of "Accepting Christ":

The formula "Accept Christ" has become a panacea of universal application, and I believe it has been fatal to many...

The trouble is that the whole "Accept Christ" attitude is likely to be wrong. It shows Christ [appealing] to us rather than us to Him. It makes Him stand hat-in-hand awaiting our verdict on Him, instead of our kneeling with troubled hearts awaiting His verdict on us. It may even permit us to accept Christ by an impulse of mind or emotions, painlessly, at no cost to our ego and no inconvenience to our usual way of life.

For this ineffectual manner of dealing with a vital matter we might imagine some parallels; as if, for instance, Israel in Egypt had "accepted" the blood of the Passover but continued to live in bondage, or the prodigal son had "accepted" his father's forgiveness and stayed on among the swine in the far country. Is it not 

plain that if accepting Christ is to mean anything there must be moral action that accords with it?

- A. W. Tozer, That Incredible Christian, (Harrisburg, Pa.: Christian Publications, 1964), 18.

P.S. Please excuse my goofy non-irreverent photo of me pulling a 'crazy street preacher' stunt. It is all of grace, and I thank God for His grace that fills us with love to reach out to those I would normally have no love for.

God bless and grace to all in Christ!

October 11, 2008

Grace Abounding: My Grandmother's Funeral

I traveled with my mother, my younger brother Lee, and my sister Maria to Wooster Ohio for our grandmother, Elizabeth Tomassetti's funeral. We took our black lab, Caesar, along with us because we didn't want to leave him home alone. Our cousin's children loved playing with him. I had asked for prayer here on the blog not long before we left, and I am very grateful for all those who did pray for us. I was comforted being in Wooster Ohio knowing that family in Christ were praying for me and my natural family during this visit.

My grandmother was born in Ireland. During WWII, she met my grandfather who was a U.S. Navy man. After they were married, they lived in Scotland for three years where my dad was born, then they moved to Wooster Ohio where my grandpa Tomassetti was born. My entire family on my dad's side were raised Roman Catholic.

My parents raised my brothers and sister and I in a protestant church. Nevertheless, I was not saved by grace until I was in college. Now that I know Christ and am His, it is my desire that my family members, both immediate and extended, also come to God through Christ by faith alone. Faith is not easy to come by, we need the Word of God in the Holy Scriptures to teach us (Rom. 10:17), so I make it my aim to share the Word at whatever opportunities the Lord provides.

Wednesday night, I spent a lot of time talking with a family friend's teenage son. I had shared the gospel with him in April at my grandfather's funeral, but he had not been reading the pocket NT I gave him. We must have spent almost an hour talking. He did not know anything about Jesus or what the Bible teaches, so I explained a lot to him about why Jesus came into the world, who He was, why we need a Savior (using Children of the Corn as an illustration of our spiritual deadness, because it came up in our conversation) and what He will do when He returns. This young man started to see that this was more interesting than he had previously imagined. His mother told me at the graveyard that he went home talking about what I said to him. I also gave him one of my new ESV pocket NTs, which I told him would be easier to read the the KJV or NKJV one I had given him last time we talked. My prayer was that he will read it, and get his family to read the Bible as well. May God do so and more.

I had a bad cold this week. I could barely talk during our visit. However, I did get to ask one of my older relatives if he would go to heaven when it was his turn to lay in the casket. He said that he would probably not go there. I asked him if he knew the song, "Amazing Grace"? He said yes, (it was playing on the slideshow in the funeral home). I said, well it goes... "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a WRETCH like me." And I pointed to myself. I said "It is good news for bad people, but bad news for good people." I think I also said something about how that is why I needed Jesus to die in my place so that I can be saved... something along those lines. He said he would talk to me again about this, but we didn't get to talk again yet.

During the trip, I talked with my mom about salvation by grace, how that we deserve hell, and that God should hate us, but His love for us is extraordinary since it cost the life of His dear Son (Rom. 5:8-9,10). I also talked some about salvation by faith alone (Rom. 3:27-28). The funeral mass was held at the Roman Catholic church, and it always grieves me to hear that blind guide stand there and tell people that sins are cleansed by baptism and holy communion and that those who practice those things are the "faithful" who will be in heaven with Christ. There is no mention of the utter ruin of our sinful hearts and our need to be regenerated by an act of the Holy Spirit and to be justified by faith apart from any works that we perform, and of the powerful effect of Christ's substitutionary death (even though he did mention the resurrection quite often, which is important, but we need to know why Christ died and then how He lives to save). Without Christ's salvation by grace apart from human works or ordinances, where is the gospel (good news) by which we must be saved? See Ephesians 2:1,5,8-9 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-2,3-4.

Again, thanks so much to God for all who prayed!

October 6, 2008

David Mathis' thoughts on Christ as the Life

In Him Was Life, by David Mathis from the Desiring God blog. This is an excellent meditation on the Life that is in Christ. Thinking of death and of Life...
Grace to all who are hidden in Him!

October 5, 2008

Grace Abounding: I'll be traveling for the funeral

I went to Philadelphia today for church. There was only a handful of us there, but we worshiped and learned of our great Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. Afterward, there was a Pakistani woman named Maria who had come for her first visit and she wanted us to go pray over her house because she feared someone at her work had cast a spell on her. She is a single mother and has a thirteen year old daughter, who was out with other family members at six flags today so we did not get to meet her or the rest of the family. She had grown up in a "Christian family" in Pakistan, but was having difficulty understanding some things. So we discussed God's purposes in suffering and Satan's hand in it (see one of John Piper's excellent resources on this here). We went to her house afterward to pray; the pastor and his family, and brother Herman and myself all went. She offered us some water to drink and we prayed for peace in her house and for the power of Christ to protect them from Satan. We also prayed for many other things. Especially her work situation, because there was a lot of difficulty going on there with the people, and she may be losing her job. She showed us a room in her apartment building where she wants to help us to be able to hold church services, so we prayed about having that work out for us as well (which is something we've been looking for).

After this, we ate some lunch at a pizza shop, then went to go see the movie "Fireproof." While we were on our way to the theater, my dad called me and said his mother just passed away while his best friend Freddie was praying for her. My mom and my younger brother and sister met us at the movies and we watched the movie together. It was very, very moving. An excellent movie, and the first time I've been in the theater in I think over 3 years! This movie will totally transform how you think about love in any family relationship. Well, it was a time of grieving for my grandmother, but also a time to be inspired by God's love as it was portrayed in an American cinema (a very rare thing indeed!). I really want to go and share this good news as well as I can with everyone who will listen, that "God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8).

Well, I'm going to end this update by asking for some prayer for my family and myself during this period of bereavement. Thanks so much to all my blogging friends in Christ.
God bless!

October 4, 2008

Grace Abounding: Grace Gems!

So I finally joined the Grace Gems mailing list. It has been a long time, well over 3 years, that I have been reading materials published on the Grace Gems website. It was my friend, Mark "Grace," who first introduced me to them. But now I was again inspired to return to the habit when I saw that Rita had been posting the daily Gems on her blog New Human Life, and Stephanie also got hooked over on Thirsty Soul.

The story behind my experience with Grace Gems began on a cold and cloudy day in Pittsburgh (like most days there)... well I could go on with a long story, but the short of it is that Mark "Grace" would print sermons from the Spurgeon Archive and give them to me to read (from the famous and amazing spurgeon.org website by Phil Johnson who also does "Pyromaniacs"). Mark would print out sermons from Grace Gems also and pretty much throw them at me so I would read them after he had read them and left his highlights all over (we were opposed to each other theologically and doctrinally back then). Nevertheless, I would read them anyway.

Now I've read dozens of sermons by authors like Charles Spurgeon, J. C. Ryle, J. R. Miller, Jonathan Edwards, J. C. Philpot, Octavious Winslow and so many more. All I can say is that they have only blessed me abundantly in meditating on the Person and work of my Lord Jesus Christ. They have taught me to know Christ, not just to know about Him. And so I'm pretty excited to get daily quotes from these guys in the mail. That is why I'm posting this today, to share the benefits I reap from reading great authors. I hope others can do the same.

God bless!

Penn ~ a hell-deserving sinner,
saved, satisfied and sanctified
in Christ Jesus my Lord.

Now, here is the one I got from the introduction message:
"Remember that it is not hasty reading—but serious
meditation on holy and heavenly truths, which makes
them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not
the mere touching of the flower by the bee which
gathers honey—but her abiding for a time on the
flower which draws out the sweet. It is not he who
reads most, but he who meditates most—who will
prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and
strongest Christian." Thomas Brooks