Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sabbath Sentiments


Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Li­tur­gy of St. James, 4th Cen­tu­ry, translated by Gerard Moultrie

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wing├Ęd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Miscellany



Today, while driving up on the hill to work out and go to the bank and get my hair cut, a mule deer came bounding right out in front of my car. What a surprise at 10:30 in the morning! I am happy to say it was only a surprise. I suppose the deer was out and about because we are overcast and the weather is changing, and he didn't know what else to do with no sunshine.

Victor Davis Hanson has a brilliant post at Pajamas Media, listing ten random, politically-incorrect thoughts. I recommend you read them! I particularly liked his suggestion that the best way to improve American education is to require four years of Latin instruction.

Here is an interesting article for all of us bibliophiles about managing our libraries. Our system for managing our library is called Marilyn-- mt dear mother-in-law enters new books (and has previously entered our 2900+ titles) into an excel spread sheet. We are so grateful for that!

Ken Myers has some excellent thoughts on the mew media and its effects on us all here as he gives a talk at Biola. Good food for thought.

And talk about a church going to the dogs...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sabbath Sentiments


Yesterday I spoke at the shower about the temptation for moms to worry and be anxious, and how being anxious is denying that God is Lord over our children. Stephen Altrogee has an excellent post with another side of anxiousness and worry: to be anxious and worry is to live in a future without God. You can read his whole post here.

And at the Fire and Ice site, I ran across a modern edition of some of Thomas Boston's works, including an essay on providence, which included the following quote:

Beware of murmuring and fretting under any dispensations of providence that you meet with; remembering that nothing falls out without a wise and holy providence, which knows best what is fit and proper for you. And in all cases, even in the middle of the most afflicting incidents that happen to you, learn submission to the will of God, as Job did, when he said upon the end of a series of the heaviest calamities that happened to him, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord," Job, i. 21. In the most distressing case, say with the disciples, "The will of the Lord be done," Acts, 21:14.


It is always worthwhile to read Boston. He understood the difficulties of our walk, as well as the greatness of our God!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thoughts for a baby shower


Today I was asked to give a short devotional at a baby shower. Below are the thoughts I shared.

What a joyous occasion this is: and made even sweeter for those of us who have prayed for you in the past. We prayed when you were single, that God would bring a godly husband, and He provided. And we have prayed for the Lord to bless you and with children. And here we are, with Baby on the way! This is a time to rejoice in the God who answers prayer!

As I considered what I might say to encourage you today, I’d like to start by reading Psalm 127:

Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

As I thought about the exciting road that is ahead of you, this psalm seemed to address many of the things that motherhood will bring your way. Each of us who become a parent for the first time discover that we have a God-given capacity to love that is deeper than we ever thought possible. We also find our hearts can be more crushed and broken than we ever thought possible. We discover new heights of joy in our children, and often more depths of sorrow. We are amazed as our children show child-like faith, and discouraged as we see our own sin become their sin. We have hopes and dreams for our children that overcome us and them if we are not careful.

But the first thing I encourage you to remember as you encounter these strong and amazing emotions, is that this baby is not really yours at all. This baby belongs to the Lord, and you will only be entrusted with this little one for a short time. Unless the Lord is building your house, or your family, you are laboring in vain. Give this baby to the Lord every day. Remember that God has dreams and hopes for this child, and give her to Him over and over again, and wait patiently for His dreams to be fulfilled..

One of the great temptations that come to every mother is anxiety and worry. We worry about health and development, about intelligence and education, about acceptance and opportunity, about our own loss of freedom and independence, about a million different details concerning this little child. But when we worry, we are denying that this child belongs to God. No matter how hard we work to bring about perfect opportunities or friendships for our children, or protect them from danger and evil, the plan of God is perfect for their lives. If we labor day and night and let anxiety rob our sleep, we are usurping God’s place, and laboring in vain again. As it says in verse 2 of Psalm 127:
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
As we depend on God, we learn to release our anxiety and trust Him with these precious little ones, who belong to Him and are beloved of Him.

Verse 3 tells us that children are a heritage from the Lord. They are our heritage, but more than that, they are His heritage: they belong to Him, and your first responsibility as a mom will be to teach your child about Christ, and to show her what it looks like to be a follower of Christ. She will learn everything you show her—those things you try to teach, as well as those things you would rather she never saw in you. I challenge you to watch your walk with the Lord, and live it out before this little one in faithfulness. Be her example of how a child of the King behaves, and set priorities in your family that will always remind her that she is a heritage from the Lord.

Verse 4 tells us that children are like arrows in the hand of a warrior. As you train this child to be a follower of Christ, she is a weapon you send into the future. She will begin at your side, but she will fly forth and go places you have never been and will never see. Never forget that you are preparing a warrior for Christ, to stand for Truth in a broken and hurting world, and to speak love and redemption there. But for our children to perform that task, we have to let go of them, and let them fly as the Lord has ordained them to go. The job of a mother is to put herself out of a job, by remembering that she is training the next generation of Christ-followers.

So, we will continue to pray for you as you embark on this great adventure. We’ll rejoice with you when you rejoice, and weep with you when you weep, and we look forward to watching God’s plan for your family and this little one.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Humility


"What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert--himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt - the Divine Reason. . . . The new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. . . . There is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it's practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. . . . The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table."
~G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy [Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1957], pp. 31-32

(With thanks to J.H.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A contented heart


"Under all providences maintain a contented heart with what the Lord allots you, be it more or less of the things of this world. This grace must run parallel with all providences. Learn how to be full, and how to suffer want, and in every state to be content."
~John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The folly of dealing with sin on the outside instead of the inside


"...A man may beat down the bitter fruit from an evil tree, until he is weary; whilst the root abides in strength and vigour, the beating down of the present fruit will not hinder it from bringing forth more. This is the folly of some men. They set themselves with all earnestness and diligence against the appearing eruption of lust; but leaving the principle and root untouched, perhaps unsearched out, they make but little or no progress in this work of mortification..."
~John Owen, Mortification of Sin (p.68)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nothing can reach us


"Nothing can reach us, from any source in earth or hell, no matter how
evil, which God cannot turn to his own redemptive purpose. Let us be
glad that the way is not a game of chance, a mere roll of dice which
determines our fortune or calamity—it is a way appointed, and it is
appointed for God's eternal glory and our final good." E. Elliot

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Sentiments


"When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith."

~Abraham Kuyper

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Encouragement in unlikely places


In the battle with discouragement we all sometimes fight, I am often amazed at the unlikely sources of encouragement a gracious God sends our way.

One of the unlikely sources of encouragement for me lately has come in an inadvertent way from one of the difficult things have done: end my teaching for a time. I think I have felt confirmed in my calling to teach for a long time, and even known it was something I had a knack for. However, in having to give it up for a time, I have watched others struggle to step into my place, and discovered, much to my surprise, that things that are natural and easy for me, are not so for others. God has graciously pointed out that I really do have something to offer the students I teach, and the parents I serve. Who would have thought that giving up what I love to do would encourage me to keep doing it? God, of course.

The last week or so, as I have considered my teaching obligations, I have mostly felt burdened and overwhelmed. But just today, for the first time, after real rest for a few days, I can sense God's encouragement seeping in, and I can believe that one day in the future, I will be ready to teach again. It's just not yet. Right now I have to get my poor old body unstressed and revived a bit, and that takes time and quiet. But somehow, knowing it won't be forever, is an encouragement, too. It has been bleak for the last week or so, to feel no end to my burden. Today, little signs of hope are resurfacing, in unexpected ways. I am thankful for that encouragement.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Written on the palm of His hand


After a much interrupted night, with too little sleep, I can sense the Lord bringing me his own encouragement this morning. It comes in several forms: as the blog entry of a dear friend reminding me who I am in Christ; as this passage from Hebrews 4 as part of my daily bible reading:
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


God is picking me up, weary as I am, and reminding me I am His, and I am loved. This morning's devotional from Spurgeon is based on Isaiah 49:16: “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” In part, Spurgeon says:
...What can be more astounding than the unfounded doubts and fears of God’s favored people? The Lord’s loving word of rebuke should make us blush; he cries, “How can I have forgotten thee, when I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands? How darest thou doubt my constant remembrance, when the memorial is set upon my very flesh?” O unbelief, how strange a marvel thou art! We know not which most to wonder at, the faithfulness of God or the unbelief of his people. He keeps his promise a thousand times, and yet the next trial makes us doubt him. He never faileth; he is never a dry well; he is never as a setting sun, a passing meteor, or a melting vapour; and yet we are as continually vexed with anxieties, molested with suspicions, and disturbed with fears, as if our God were the mirage of the desert...Heaven and earth may well be astonished that rebels should obtain so great a nearness to the heart of infinite love as to be written upon the palms of his hands...


These thoughts arm me for facing the discouragements of the day!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The crook in my lot



One of my favorite books on suffering (and yes, I've read quite a few) is by Puritan author Thomas Boston, and is entitled The Crook in the Lot. It's subtitle, in true Puritan fashion, is "The Sovereignty and Wisdom of God in the Afflictions of Men Displayed". And the text given as the source of the title is Ecclesiastes 7:13: "Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which He has made crooked?"

Today is one of those days when I see very clearly the bend in my path that takes me to unexpected places with God--the "crook in my lot". I don't feel well physically. I feel totally stretched thin emotionally. Dave is on travel and inaccessible most of the day. And this afternoon I need to face the 60+ children in my choir, and say goodbye to them, leaving behind a ministry that I have loved and thought I would do for many more years. (And indeed, I still may at some point...) I am anticipating a difficult day.

So, after listening to my scripture for today, I thought I'd spend a little time with my old friend, Thomas. Here are a few tidbits that are helping me fight to the place of trust in God where I need to be. I hope they encourage you, too, Gentle Readers. And if you have never read this masterpiece by Boston, I encourage you to do so. Many years ago it entirely changed the way I viewed suffering.

A just view of afflicting incidents is altogether necessary to a Christian deportment under them; and that view is to be obtained only by faith, not by sense; for it is the light of the world alone that represents them justly, discovering in them the work of God, and consequently, designs becoming the Divine perfections. When they are perceived by the eye of faith, and duly considered, we have a just view of afflicting incidents, fitted to quell the turbulent motions of corrupt affections under dismal outward appearances. (p.1)


1. The remedy itself is a wise eyeing of the hand of God in all we find to bear hard on us: "Consider the work of God," namely, in the crooked, rough, and disagreeable parts of your lot, the crosses you find in it. You see very well the cross itself. Yea, you turn it over and over in your mind and leisurely view it on all sides. You look to this and the other second cause of it, and so you are in a foam and a fret. But, would you be quieted and satisfied in the matter, lift up your eyes towards heaven, see the doing of God in it, the operation of His hand. Look at that, and consider it well; eye the first cause of the crook in your lot; behold how it is the work of God, His doing.

2. Such a view of the crook in our lot is very suitable to still improper risings of heart, and quiet us under them: "For who can make that straight which God has made crooked?" As to the crook in your lot, God has made it; and it must continue while He will have it so. Should you ply your utmost force to even it, or make it straight, your attempt will be vain: it will not change for all you can do. Only He who made it can mend it, or make it straight. This consideration, this view of the matter, is a proper means at once to silence and to satisfy men, and so bring them to a dutiful submission to their Maker and Governor, under the crook in their lot.

Now, we take up the purpose of the text under these three heads.

I. Whatever crook there is in our lot, it is of God's making.

II. What God sees fit to mar, no one will be able to mend in his lot.

III. The considering of the crook in the lot as the work of God, or of His making, is a proper means to bring us to a Christian deportment under it. (pp. 3-4)


Believers, through the remains of indwelling corruption, are liable to fits of spiritual laziness and inactivity, in which their graces lie dormant for the time. Besides, there are some graces which of their own nature are but occasional in their exercise, as being exercised only upon occasion of certain things which they have a necessary relation to, such as patience and long-suffering. Now, the crook in the lot serves to rouse up a Christian to the exercise of the graces, overpowered by corruption, and withal to call forth to action the occasional graces, ministering proper occasions for them. The truth is, the crook in the lot is the great engine of Providence for making men appear in their true colours, discovering both their ill and their good. And if the grace of God is in them, it will bring it out, and cause it to display itself. It so puts the Christian to his shifts, that however it makes him stagger for awhile, yet it will at length evidence both the reality and the strength of grace in him. "You are in heaviness through manifold temptations, that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, may be found unto praise. " The crook in the lot gives rise to many acts of faith, hope, love, self-denial, resignation, and other graces; to many heavenly breathings, partings, and groanings, which otherwise would not be brought forth. And I make no question but these things, however by carnal men despised as trifling, are more precious in the sight of God than even believers themselves are aware of, being acts of immediate internal worship; and will have a surprising notice taken of them, and of the sum of them, at long run. However it may be the persons themselves often can hardly think them worth their own notice at all. The steady routing of a gallant army or horse and foot to the routing of the enemy is highly prized; but the acting of holy fear and humble hope is in reality far more valuable, as being so in the sight of God, whose judgment, we are sure, is according to truth. This the Psalmist teaches: "He delights not in the strength of the horse; He takes not pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy." And indeed the exercise of the graces of his Spirit in his people is so very precious in His sight, that whatever grace any of them excel in, they will readily get such a crook made in their lot as will be a special trial of it, that will make a proof of its full strength. (pp.27-28)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Some good thoughts for Election Day


I'm stealing the thoughts of others left and right today... OK, mostly right, but anyway...

My friend Cindy has a couple of great, thought-provoking posts on her blog here and here. Check them out.

Mark Altrogge has some helpful reminders for Christians on his blog.

And best subtitle and illustration goes to this article at City Journal. And it's interesting to boot.

I am praying today that our nation would repent of its sin, that God would not give us what we deserve, and that He would draw us, as a people, to Himself. And these prayers are not candidate-specific.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Weary


I think three surgeries and six and a half weeks of radiation in the last 6 months has taken a toll on my body. I feel so weary, and am having a tougher time bouncing back than I thought I would have. I am really battling discouragement this week (and yes, it's only Monday!) I'm just tired of feeling terrible, tired of having no energy, tired of shirking my responsibilities, tired of imposing on my friends to pick up the slack I leave.

God is doing his part to encourage me in every way: by His Word and through His son, through His body, the church, through my family and friends. Now the question is, what will I do with that encouragement? If truth be told, I'd like to ignore it and go to bed for a few weeks, not answer my phone or go anywhere. But somehow, I think that would be cuddling my sin. I *do* need to rest, but I also need to preach the truth to myself. And the truth is, so I'm tired. So what? No biggie. i won't be tired and achy forever. This will pass, and if I pull the covers over my head for a few weeks I will miss God's many blessings. So I trudge on. And I appreciate your prayers. I know the Lord will carry me.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sabbath Sentiments



O the deep, deep love of Jesus by S. Trevor Francis

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!