The Lamb and Unicorn

A little lamb was born all wooly-white with skinny legs and a wet nose, pretty much like all the other little lambs. But as the lamb grew into a sheep, the other sheep began to notice a difference. This sheep had a strange lump on his forehead. At first they thought he’d been hit, but the lump never went down. Instead, a large pad of deep, white wool grew over the lump and made it very soft and firm. And even that might have stopped attracting attention except for the fact that this sheep began to use the lump on his head in very strange ways. For one thing, the lump seemed to weigh down his head so that he always looked like he was bowing and showing reverence to some invisible king. Then he began to seek out other sheep that were sick or wounded. He would use the firm, soft lump on his forehead to help the weak onto their feet and to wipe away tears.

Whole flocks of sheep started to follow him around, but the goats laughed him to scorn. Sheep were disgusting enough, but a sheep with a queer lump on his forehead was more than they could take. They harassed him all the time and made up jokes and taunts: “How come you hang your wooly head? Your lump made out of woolen lead?” And it just infuriated them that he would walk away from them and keep on doing his quiet works of mercy.

So one day the goats surrounded him and rammed him with their horns until he died, and they left him alone in the field. But as he lay there something very strange happened. He began to get bigger. The bloody wool fell away and revealed a sleek, white, horse-like hair. The soft pad of deep white wool dropped off his forehead and straight out of the merciful lump grew a mighty horn of crimson steel unlike any horn that has ever been or will be again. And then as if by command the massive Unicorn leaped to his feet. His back stood eight feet above the ground. The muscles in his shoulders and neck were like marble. The tendons in his legs were like cables of iron. His head was no longer bowed, and when he looked to the right or to the left, the crimson horn slashed the air like a saber dipped in blood.

When the sheep saw him, they fell down and worshiped. He bowed and touched each one on the forehead with the tip of his horn, whispered something in their ear, and soared away into the sky and hasn’t been seen since.

Do you remember the last meeting between the magnificent Unicorn and the worshiping sheep? He bowed and touched each one on the forehead and whispered something special in their ear. This is what he said:

I touch you with my crimson horn,
And raise my lump upon your head
To signify you are new-born
With power that raised me from the dead.
I send you now as I was sent
To fan the wick and heal the reed,
Take mercy to the world’s extent
And you will reign with me indeed.

From The Spirit is Upon Him Gentle for Now by John Piper

Sermon Quotes from The Bruised Reed

Injustice is more than a political dysfunction.  It is a spiritual evil, a denial of God.  And by now the mess we’ve made is so far advanced, so systemic, so overwhelming, its beyond our correction.  – Ray Ortlund Sr., Isaiah: God Saves Sinners

Wesley and Whitefield may preach better than I can, but they cannot preach a better gospel. – C.H. Spurgeon

There was no abasement ever so deep as Christ’s was, in a double regard.  First, None ever went so low as he, for he suffered the wrath of God, and bore upon him the sins of us all; none was ever so low.  And then in another respect his abasement was greatest because He descended from the highest top of glory; and for Him to be man, to be a servant, to be a curse, to suffer the wrath of god, to be the lowest of all – Lord, wither doest Thou descend?  – Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed

Shall God be abased and man proud?  – Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed

There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us. – Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed

Eat what You Serve

Please pray for me that I never serve what I have not partaken of myself. Also never expect others to taste and see that He is good while your lips smack of the world and your breath reeks of idolatry.

A man preacheth that sermon only well unto others which preacheth itself in his own soul. And he that doth not feed on and thrive in the digestion of the food which he provides for others will scarce make it savoury unto them; yea, he knows not but the food he hath provided may be poison, unless he have really tasted of it himself. If the word do not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us. And no man lives in a more woeful condition than those who really believe not themselves what they persuade others to believe continually. The want of this experience of the power of gospel truth on their own souls is that which gives us so many lifeless, sapless orations, quaint in words and dead as to power, instead of preaching the gospel in the demonstration of the Spirit. – John Owen in The True Nature of a Gospel Church

Isaiah 44:6-23 & When Idols Glorify God

If we meditate and really see our idols for what they are, glory will be given to God.

Go look in the mirror, you are not all that. You have flaws. Hair grows where it shouldn’t. You are not that intelligent, there is always a more intelligent gent. We think we are something because we compare ourselves to men lesser than us, but it is not men with whom we will finally deal.

Look at your clothes. Right now they are in style, next year they will be stupid. If they are ‘timeless’ and remain cool, they will fall apart or you will stain them. It is because you are not all that that your clothes will stain due to: 1) your being a klutz or 2) your body leaving skid marks or pit yellowing.

Your car, its value decreases exponentially once you take it off the lot. It is a hungry god that you must consistently feed. If you opt not to buy the wheels, stereo, chrome accessories, upgraded parts, and dice for your rear view mirror you still have to wash it and give it gas to drink.

My iPod was the coolest when it came out. It was the limited U2 edition. One with a color display came out a few months later, then one with video capabilities, and finally the iPod touch. If technological gods are so amazing why are there always upgrades?

Truly I can only see the foolishness of such idols in the superior light of Jesus’ splendor. So once my blind eyes have been opened to see Jesus and I notice the lie that is in my hand, I think on it rightly. I loose no-gods for the God. With David Livingstone I exclaim:

For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger now and then with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.

So after having cast your idols aside and clinging to Christ, think of the foolishness of your idols and reckon that you have lost nothing and thereby gained everything in Jesus.

Hymns I’m Angry I Didn’t Learn as a Child (5)

This one may be coming soon to an Overflow service near you!

Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy by Joseph Hart

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.


Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.


View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?


Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.


Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.


Isaiah 43:1-13 & Can I Get a Witness?

Near the end of this passage there are two big assemblies gathered for a great tribunal before Yahweh.  One assembly is a group of sinners, the blind and deaf whom God has chosen as servants to know, believe, and understand that God is God.  They are the redeemed, the elect, the called, the ones of who God is their Savior.  They serve as God’s witnesses.  The other throng is made up of sinners as well, heathen idol worshippers scrambling to gather a credible witness for their case.  So how is it that a group of redeemed sinners serve as witness for God?  What makes our testimony valid?  Our history shows us anything but fine witnesses by virtue of our character.

Lets say O.J. has supposedly done it again, you pick what ‘it’ is exactly.  He has two witnesses that serve as character references; Micheal Vick and Mike Tyson.  You get the point?  But lets say that we are ten years from now and Vick is an ardent supporter of PETA, carries a little handbag with a pomeranian named Pookey inside of it, and has a secret identity as ‘PETA Man’ tackling animal abusers and giving the dogs to deserving, caring children.  Tyson starts taking responsibility, talking like a man, and walks dangerous streets punching women-abusing men in the throat.  Vick and Tyson then testify that the reason for all the changes that have occurred in their lives are owing to the influence of one man – O.J. Simpson.

The redeemed are witnesses to the fact that God is God not because of something in themselves, but by virtue of the acts God has wrought upon them.  As you look at those whom God has chosen, created, formed, called, redeemed, protected, saved, and gathered… the only explanation is God.  We were blind and deaf!  I am what I am by the grace of God.  I am not perfect, but everything within me that is admirable and praiseworthy, all the progress, and all that is truly good is the work of God.  It is no burden to be a witness, rather it is a great privilege for God to demonstrate his power in us, a power which none can thwart.

The Thirsty Look for Wells

While studying Isaiah today I came accross this sermon excerpt from Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s “I will pour Water” in Ray Ortlund Jr.’s commentary on Isaiah.

When two travellers are going through the wilderness, you may know which of them is thirsty, by his always looking out for wells. How gladly Israel came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and seventy palm trees! So it is with thirsty believers; they love the Word, read and preached, they thirst for it more and more. Is it so with you, dear believing brethren? In Scotland long ago, it used to be so. Often, after the blessing was pronounced, the people would not go away till they heard more. Ah! children of God, it is a fearful sign to see little thirst in you[.] I do not wonder much when the world stay[s] away from our meetings for the Word and prayer; but, ah! when you do.

The full sermon is available here.