Friday, December 24, 2010

Help Heavenward



Hey, over on the Octavius Winslow Archive, there is going to be a "Challies-Like Reading the Classics Together" read through Winslow's book, Help Heavenward. I've joined and you can to. the Project begins on January 10, 2011 upon which time you have one week to read through the first chapter. Appears that Matthew Blair will be covering one chapter a week. My copy arrived yesterday and it looks like there's eleven Chapters total.

I've already read the preface, foreward and table of contents, plus a little of chapter 1 to whet my appetite. Like other books by Winslow this looks to be very sweet, very warm, very heart enflaming. I'm truly beleiveing for a freshness in my soul and spirit as I slowly and thoughtfully and reflectively read through Winslow.

Matthew Blair writes that this is his favorite of Winslow's books. I've only really been exposed to couple of other works by Winslow - but I confirm they are RICH.

On the first page of Chapter One, Winslow thinking of those spies who went into the promise land writes and we read: "Faith is the spiritual spy of the soul." Wow - sound exiciting to you? I'm fired the journey. I'll leave you with poem which is at the conclusion of Chapter one:

“A captive here, and far from home,
For Zion’s sacred courts I sigh:
“There the ransomed nations come,
And see the Savior ‘eye to eye.’

“While here, I walk on hostile ground;
The few that I can call my friends
Are, like myself, with fetters bound,
And weariness my path attends.

“But we shall soon behold the day
When Zion’s children shall return;
Our sorrows then shall flee away,
And we shall never, never mourn.

“The hope that such a day will come
Makes e’en the captive’s portion sweet;
Though now we’re distant far from home
In Zion soon we all shall meet.”

Click Here and Here for the Octavius Winslow Archive reading the classics together.

Click here to find "Help Heavenward" online.



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christmas Shoe Box and The Gospel


As part of Operation Christmas Child a Ministry of Samaritan's Purse my three little girls each packed a shoe box. Wanting to really love on the child who would recieve her box my 11 year old enclosed the note pictured above. Please click on the picture to enlarge the image.

click here for more on Operation Christmas Child.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gospel Summary

Read this today on Provocations and Panting, who read it on Ligonier Minstries. Excellent Summary of the Gospel by Jeremiah Burroughs from his book, GOSPEL CONVERSATIONS:

The gospel of Christ is the good tidings that God has revealed concerning Christ. As all mankind was lost in Adam and became the children of wrath, put under the sentence of death, God, though He left His fallen angels and has reserved them in the chains of eternal darkness, yet He has thought upon the children of men and has provided a way of atonement to reconcile them to Himself again.

The second Person in the Trinity takes man’s nature upon Himself, and becomes the Head of a second covenant, standing charged with sin. He answers for it by suffering what the law and divine justice required, and by making satisfaction for keeping the law perfectly. This satisfaction and righteousness He tenders up to the Father as a sweet savor of rest for the souls that are given to Him.

And now this mediation of Christ is, by the appointment of the Father, preached to the children of men, of whatever nation or rank, freely offering this atonement unto sinners for atonement, requiring them to believe in Him and, upon believing, promising not only a discharge of all their former sins, but that they shall not enter into condemnation, that none of their sins or unworthiness shall ever hinder the peace of God with them, but that they shall through Him be received into the number of those who shall have the image of God again to be renewed unto them, and that they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

That these souls and bodies shall be raised to that height of glory that such creatures are capable of, that they shall live forever enjoying the presence of God and Christ, in the fullness of all good, is the gospel of Christ. This is the sum of the gospel that is preached unto sinners.

ht: Timmy Brister


Friday, September 10, 2010

The ONE Who Gives Peace - John 14:27

MY PEACE I GIVE UNTO YOU:

Preparing recently for a Labor day Weekend sermon which was to be on the text Joh 14:27, I was struck how Jesus says "MY peace." This qualification "MY" and "I GIVE" was precious to me as I meditated upon this verse. I thought upon Jesus and how willing he is to give this peace and also HOW ABLE he is to give his own peace. Both in accomplishing our justification by making payment for sin, dying as a substitute for his people upon the cross and also imparting to us PEACE, a work of the SPIRIT of GOD, the COMFORTER. In further dwelling upon the word "MY" I thought it good to read the whole of John's Gospel noting from each chapter some precious truth about Jesus.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

CHRIST WHO IS OUR PEACE - HE IS....

CHRIST WHO IS OUR PEACE - HE IS....
IN JOHN CHAPTER ONE:
The Word in the beginning, with GOD, and is God, John 1:1
The creator of all things, John 1:3
Life in Himself, the light of men, John 1:4
Shining in the Darkness. John 1:5
TO THOSE believing on his name and recieving him, John 1:12
He gives power to become sons of God.
He is the Word from everlasting made flesh, John 1:14
And dwelling amoungst us,
Declared by the prophet
The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:29

IN JOHN CHAPTER TWO:
The water He turned to wine, John 2:9
He cleansed the temple
Overturning tables,
Wielding a scourge,
Pouring out the changers' money.
The zeal of his Father house consuming him. John 2:15-17
AND He knows what is in ALL men. John 2:24-25

IN JOHN CHAPTER THREE - HE IS:
The Bronze Serpent lifted UP, John 3:14-15
The only begotten of his Father,
Sent of the Father,
Him upon whom, All the ones believing will not perish. John 3:16
The bridegroom, John 3:29
The one to whom God giveth not the spirit by MEASURE. John 3:34

IN JOHN CHAPTER FOUR:

The second miracle he does,
Healing the nobleman's Son,
From afar with a word,
The son lives,
The Whole house believes,
Jesus our God and Saviour. John 4:46-54

IN JOHN CHAPTER FIVE:
The impotent lay at the pool,
Waiting no more,
Jesus has come,
The word is spoken,
And immediately the impotent walks. John 5:7-9
They seek to Kill him,
For Jesus, Not only healing on the Sabbath,
But God is His Father, he equal with God. John 5:18
They want to kill the one who
Gives life to those dead who hear his voice. John 5:25
For Jesus has life, life in HIMSELF. John 5:26
The scriptures speak of him, John 5:39
Moses wrote of him. John 5:46


IN JOHN CHAPTER SIX:

He feeds 5000, John 6:10-11
Walks on Water John 6:21
Into a ship that immediately is on the otherside.
He gives meat which endures to everlasting life. John 6:27
To believe on Jesus is to work the work of God. John 6:29
The Father has given HIM a people, John 6:37
And he is able,
And willing,
To receive that which his Father has given him,
He is the living bread, John 6:51
Eat of this bread and live forever,
The bread that he gives is his own flesh,
Given for the life of the world.
Eat his flesh,
Drink his blood,
If not you are dead. John 6:53
His words are Spirit and Life. John 6:63

IN JOHN CHAPTER SEVEN:
Believing on Him,
Rivers of Living Water
Flowing out of your belly. John 7:38-39
Which is the Spirit,
Promised.

IN JOHN CHAPTER EIGHT HE IS:
The light of the World, John 8:12
The son who makes free indeed, John 8:36
Seen of Abraham, who was made glad. John 8:56


IN JOHN CHAPTER NINE:
He gives sight to the blind.
Like the blindman,
so was I in Sin,
But praise be to Him,
NOW I SEE. John 9:25


IN JOHN CHAPTER TEN HE IS:
The door, John 10:7
The good shepherd, John 10:14
Laying down of himself, John 10:18
His life for the sheep, John 10:15
Giving eternal life, John 10:28
To his own who shall never perish, John 10:28
One with the Father. John 10:30


IN JOHN CHAPTER ELEVEN:
HE Loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus. John 11:5
HE IS the Ressurrection, John 11:25
And the Life.
HE Wept. John 11:33
And then Raised the Dead Lazarus. John 11:42-43
Calling him Forth.


IN JOHN CHAPTER TWELVE:
Annointed for Burial
By Mary,
With costly ointment,
She wiping his feet with her hair,
And the house filled with the odor. John 12:3, John 12:7
Riding on the Young ass,
Triumphal Entry, John 12:14-15
The voice from Heaven, John 12:28
The judgment of this world,
The prince Cast out. John 12:31

IN JOHN CHAPTER THIRTEEN:
The hour has come, John 13:1
With Joy and Quiet
We peer into The Inner Sanctuary,
The final hours, the last advice,
The precious words before his arrest....
He leaves an example,
Washing their feet, John 13:15
"Do as I have done to you,
The servant is not greater than his lord."
"Judas, that thou doest,
Do quickly." John 13:17
"Only a little longer,
Soon I am gone." John 13:33
"Love one another, John 13:34
By this they will know you are mine." John 13:35

IN JOHN CHAPTER FOURTEEN:
Let not your heart be troubled John 14:1
I am going,
AND Coming Again,
Receiving you unto myself, John 14:3
The Comforter is coming, John 14:26
Peace I am leaving, John 14:27
If you loved me
You would be rejoicing, John 14:28
For I go to the Father.

IN JOHN CHAPTER FIFTEEN:
He is the True Vine John 15:1
We the branches John 15:5
Abide in Him John 15:7
He in us
Glorify the Father, John 15:8
Bear much fruit,
And so be his disciples.
Love One Another, John 15:12
The world will hate You,
FOR The world has hated HIM, John 15:18-19
The Comforter is coming,
The Spirit of Truth,
He will testify of HIM John 15:26

IN JOHN CHAPTER SIXTEEN:
Expedient it is that he goes,
For he goes not
The comforter comes not.
But if he goes,
The comforter he sends. John 15:7
The Spirit of Truth
Who will guide
into all truth. John 15:13
Like a woman in travail
Sorrow will be yours,
But like her delivered,
anguish forgotten,
Joy reigning, John 15:21
You will rejoice
With joy no man can take. John 15:22
You shall be scattered
leaving me alone,
because the Father is with me. John 15:32
I tell you now,
that in me
ye might have peace.
Be of good cheer,
I have overcome the world. John 15:33

IN JOHN CHAPTER SEVENTEEN:

The High Priestly Prayer:
LIFE Eternal to Know God
And Jesus Christ
Whom God has sent. John 17:3
He prays his Father,
"Glorify Me
With the same Glory
I Had with thee before the world was." John 17:5

IN JOHN CHAPTER EIGHTEEN:
In the Garden,
They seek him,
To arrest the innocent.
Knowing all things, John 18:4
He asks them - they reply,
He says "I AM"
Backward they fall, all to the Ground. John 18:5
Willing his life he lays down,
No one will take it from him.
The good shepherd for the sheep.
God-Man, representing Men, as Man.
Born and come into the world,
A King but not of this world. John 18:37

IN JOHN CHAPTER NINETEEN:
The enemy having no power
But what was given of God. John 19:11
It is finished,
With Life yet in him,
He of his own volition,
Bowed his head,
And Gave up the Ghost. John 19:30
He laid down his life and died for his own.
It is finished.

IN JOHN CHAPTER TWENTY:
HE IS RISEN
"Thomas, Reach hither thy finger" John 20:27
"Behold my hands"
Many other signs he did yet not written, John 20:30
But these written, that ye might believe, John 20:31
That Jesus is the Christ,
The Son of God,
And that believing ye might have,
Life through his name.


IN JOHN CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE:
Jesus, the Lamb of God,
Who has taken away the sins of the world,
Who lived in our midst,
Speaking words that are Spirit and Truth,
Teaching and Preaching,
Healing and Miracles,
The works given him of the Father.
The Good Shepherd,
The sacrifice for sin,
Life now in his name,
Many other things Jesus did,
If they should be written,
Every one,
I suppose that even the world itself
Could not contain the books
That should be written
AMEN. Joh 21:25

Peace He Left,
His Peace he gave,
Not as the World gives,
Gave He unto us.
Let not our hearts be troubled,
Neither Let them be afraid. Joh 14:27

PEACE - Octavius Winslow on Joh 14:27

Given the opportunity to preach Labor Day weekend while our Pastor was out of town, I was praying and searching for the biblical passage. During this time of not knowing I read the day's post from the Octavius Winslow blog. Here was the text. Although I didn't borrow or use Winslow in preparing or delivering the sermon - I was much encouraged by him as God's means to remind me of a text that has long been very precious to me.

Here is what I read:

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives give I unto you.” John 14:27

Peace also is a fruit of spiritual-mindedness. What peace of conscience does that individual possess whose mind is stayed upon spiritual things! It is as much the reward as it is the effect of his cultivated heavenliness. The existence of this precious blessing, however, supposes the exposure of the spiritual mind to much that has a tendency to ruffle and disturb its equanimity and repose. The Christian is far from being entirely exempt from those chafings and disquietudes which seem inseparable from human life. To the brooding anxieties arising from external things- life’s vicissitudes, mutations, and disappointments; there are added, what are peculiar to the child of God, the internal things that distract- the cloudings of guilt, the agitations of doubt, the corrodings of fear, the mourning of penitence, the discipline of love.

But through all this there flows a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God. It is the peace of the heavenly mind, the peace which Jesus procured, which God imparts, and which the Holy Spirit seals. A heavenly mind soars above a poor dying world, living not upon a creature’s love or smile- casting its daily need upon the heart of a kind Providence- anxious for nothing, but with supplication and thanksgiving making known its requests unto God- indifferent to the turmoil, vexations, and chequered scenes of worldly life, and living in simple faith and holy pleasing on Christ. Thus detached from earth, and moving heavenwards by the attractions of its placid coast, it realizes a peace which passes all understanding.

And if this be the present of the heavenly mind, what will be the future of the mind in heaven? Heaven is the abode of perfect peace. There are no cloudings of guilt, no tossings of grief, no agitations of fear, no corrodings of anxiety there. It is the peace of perfect purity- it is the repose of complete satisfaction. It is not so much the entire absence of all sorrow, as it is the actual presence of all holiness, that constitutes the charm and the bliss of future glory.

The season of sorrow is frequently converted into that of secret joy- Christ making our very griefs to sing. But the occasion of sin is always that of bitter grief; our backslidings often, like scorpions, entwined around our hearts. Were there even- as most assuredly there will not be- sadness in heaven, there might still be the accompaniment of happiness; but were there sin in heaven- the shadow of a shade of guilt- it would becloud and embitter all. Thus, then, as heaven is the abode of perfect peace, he who on earth has his conversation most in heaven approximates in his feelings the nearest to the heavenly state. Oh that our hearts were more yielding to the sweet, holy, and powerful attractions of the heavenly world! Then would our conversation be more in heaven.

HT: Matthew Blair

Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Review - The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission

The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission, Promoting the Gospel with More Than Our Lips by John Dickson

Over on the Zondervan Blog, Koinonia, I recently was selected by drawing to receive and review this book by John Dickson, director of the Centre for Public Christianity (www.publicchristianity.org).

My interest was quickly piqued as read through the endorsements at the beginning of the book. For example: Alistair Begg reports that this book is "required reading at Parkside." And Alistair McGrath writing "I have learned from reading it...it challenged me, encouraged me, and often inspired me. And at my age that's quite an achievement." And Collin Hansen advising "John Dickson will encourage you from Scripture with many varied ways to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Following the endorsements I went to the back of the book scanning the notes, the Scripture Index and especially reading through the subject index trying to get a "feel" for the books scope, depth, and possibly also special items to note as I read through the content.

The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission (which I will refer to simply as Secret for the remainder of the review) has 91 endnotes and 380 scripture references taken from 12 OT books and 21 NT books. The Subject Index includes seven Greek word in their phonetic anglicized equivalent (there are actually at least 24 instances where Dickson deals with as many different Greek words) ; 7 ancient names ie. Philo, Ignatius, Eusebius, Chrysotom, Irenaeus, Tiberius; A couple of words I had no idea about: tripitaka and upanishads; plus some various others subjects which grabbed my attention: God-Talk, apostolic gospel, New Atheism, Koran, Shema, Turkey, Richard Dawkins, employee-employer relationships, and Hitchens.

Some other items of interest before we begin:
In the introduction, "Confessions of an Evangelists", Dickson describes his own story of coming to Christ at the age of 15 and enthusiastically and continuously speaking about Christ to anyone who would listen. But this early freedom and frequency was soon squelched when astute leaders in his church noticing his ability and activity had him enrolled in a several month long evangelism training class. The results weren't good. Coming out of this class he lists several things that changed for him. He now had a canned outline of the gospel, which really wasn't the whole rich gospel of who Jesus was and what he did. He lost his earlier pre-training freedom of speaking of Christ in all occasions for a method which required him to use a one-size-fits all system. He became self-conscious as a result plus he now saw mission work as only what he could say with his lips. And so a major goal of Secret is to show that The whole life lived can be mission oriented always promoting Christ even in times when outwardly our lips are not proclaiming Christ.

Chapter One subtitled, "Why Get Involved in Missions" might very well be my favorite. It reminded me very much of a John Piper quote: "Missions exist because worship doesn't."

Dickson expounds on Deu 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD, quoting also from 1Cor 8:4-6 for the purpose of saying "If there is just one God in the universe, everyone everywhere has a duty to worship that Lord." Dickson then walks us through Psalm 96:4-5 demonstrating "the driving force behind all our efforts to bring the news of the one true Lord to our friends and neighbors: If there is one Lord to whom all people belong and owe their allegiance, the people of that Lord must promote this reality."

Chapter one alone justifies the price of the book.

As the book progresses we are given apologetic helps in answering various objections such as "All religions are equal," tolerance/intolerance, and various forms of Pluralism.

The book goes on to encourage us and to instruct us by exhortations, by scripture exegesis, and by many of Dickson's own life example in how we can "Promote the Gospel." Promote the gospel by speaking, by much praying, with our money, by godly behaviour, through good works individually and corporately.

Throughout the book I sensed a desire in Dickson to remain balanced. For example he does encourage good works as a mission promoting activity but then adds "mission disconnected from the gospel is not Christian." He encourages us to preach the gospel by talking about the gospels, the events in the gospels, the narrative of the gospels, but then reminds us to not neglect the theological meaning of these events. Which I read as meaning don't just talk about the doctrine of the atonement but show who Jesus is from eternity, how he lived and what he taught, and how he suffered and how he died and how he rose on the third day. But so as not to be devoid of the theological meaning, why he came, why he lived as he lived in our place and as our representative, and how he died a wrath absorbing sacrifice. Demonstrating that we are justified by Faith and not works and for all this God gets the glory. Dickson lists many non-verbal ways to promote the gospel but then spends his longest chapter on "What is the Gospel" and includes two appendices with further gospel-telling helps.

I am aware of the controversies today over just what is the doctrine of Justification. And I noted that the first endorser of Dickson's book is N. T. Wright, who comes down on the wrong side of this debate endorsing and promoting the New Perspective on Paul. So I read with care especially those passages dealing with just "What is the Gospel?" Dickson's book is written carefully enough that evidently he offends neither side. I might add that, in his chapter, "What is the Gospel?" I would wish there was more emphasis on theological meaning accompanying the recounting of the gospel narrative. It was there, but I would wish for more. Yet, what I took away especially from that chapter, was to be more careful to recount the content of the gospels and not just the doctrine of the gospels and I think that was the weakness Dickson was addressing.

Providentially, it is very appropriate that I received, read and reviewed this book as in our own church we are praying and striving to increase our missionary endeavors beginning this month.

I extend my thanks to Zondervan Publishing for sending me The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission and with the endorsers I can say I am better for having read this book and hope especially better equipped for the promoting of Christ my savior to the Glory of God.

Below is pictured some of the notes and index I created to enhance my own use of this book in the future, click on picture to enlarge and further zoom in:


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pilgrim's Progress - Demas

Pictured at the left is John Bunyan in prison, perhaps writing The Pilgrim's Progress as his beloved blind daughter Mary clings to his side. He did not love this world, he did not forsake Christ for the treasures of this world. He did not listen to Demas for all the freedom this world had to offer. I sometimes try to think of Bunyan like this as I read and discuss with my little girls, The Pilgrim's Progress.

No more in the Plain called Ease, temptation comes and and our Heroes encounter Demas:

Then Christian and Hopeful outwent them again, and went till they came at a delicate plain, called Ease, where they went with much content; but that plain was but narrow, so they were quickly got over it. Now at the farther side of that plain was a little hill, called Lucre, and in that hill a silver-mine, which some of them that had formerly gone that way, because of the rarity of it, had turned aside to see; but going too near the brim of the pit, the ground, being deceitful under them, broke, and they were slain: some also had been maimed there, and could not, to their dying day, be their own men again.

Then I saw in my dream, that a little off the road, over against the silver-mine, stood Demas (gentleman-like) to call passengers to come and see; who said to Christian and his fellow, Ho! turn aside hither, and I will show you a thing.

Christian: What thing so deserving as to turn us out of the way to see it?

Demas: Here is a silver-mine, and some digging in it for treasure; if you will come, with a little pains you may richly provide for yourselves.

What a temptation is this? Please note to see the silver mine they must TURN OUT OF THE WAY. And Hopeful is beginning to succumb:

Hopeful: Then said Hopeful, let us go see.

Praise God, for a faithful brother to check us.

Christian: Not I, said Christian: I have heard of this place before now, and how many there have been slain; and besides, that treasure is a snare to those that seek it, for it hindereth them in their pilgrimage.

And so Christian converses some with Demas that Hopeful might learn and ourselves:

Then Christian called to Demas, saying, Is not the place dangerous? Hath it not hindered many in their pilgrimage? Hosea 9:6.

Demas: Not very dangerous, except to those that are careless; but withal he blushed as he spake.

Interesting, how Demas blushed. Is this some indication that he knew he lied? Some hint of that former conscience? Whatever it may be Christian is not fooled.

Christian: Then said Christian to Hopeful, Let us not stir a step, but still keep on our way.

Hopeful: I will warrant you, when By-ends comes up, if he hath the same invitation as we, he will turn in thither to see.

Hopeful now seeing their danger, and remembering just what kind of principals Byends held to predicts Byends fall here.

Christian: No doubt thereof, for his principles lead him that way, and a hundred to one but he dies there.

Demas: Then Demas called again, saying, But will you not come over and see?

Christian: Then Christian roundly answered, saying, Demas, thou art an enemy to the right ways of the Lord of this way, and hast been already condemned for thine own turning aside, by one of his Majesty’s judges, 2 Tim. 4:10; and why seekest thou to bring us into the like condemnation? Besides, if we at all turn aside, our Lord the King will certainly hear thereof, and will there put us to shame, where we would stand with boldness before him.

Demas cried again, that he also was one of their fraternity; and that if they would tarry a little, he also himself would walk with them.

Christian: Then said Christian, What is thy name? Is it not the same by which I have called thee?

Demas: Yes, my name is Demas; I am the son of Abraham.

Christian: I know you; Gehazi was your great-grandfather, and Judas your father, and you have trod in their steps; it is but a devilish prank that thou usest: thy father was hanged for a traitor, and thou deservest no better reward. 2 Kings 5:20-27; Matt.26:14,15; 27:3-5. Assure thyself, that when we come to the King, we will tell him of this thy behavior. Thus they went their way.

I liked how Bunyan joined Judas, and Gehazi with Demas. We read the whole account of Elisha, Naaman, and Gehazi from 2Kings 5.

Demas like Talkative earlier does prove scary to me. And because of him, my girls and I had some talk on the doctrine of the perseverance of the Saints. We talked about election, we talked about the ransom price. We talked about the atonement accomplished. We talked about the gift of the Father to the son and how all that the Father giveth to the son shall come to him, and for the one who comes, Jesus is both able and willing to receive him and will in no wise cast him out. Comforting truths to me, comforting to my girls as we consider Demas and are warned away from the love of this present world.

Col 4:14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

Philemon 1:23-24 There salute thee Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus; Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.

2Ti 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.


And so Hopeful's prediction proved true:

By this time By-ends and his companions were come again within sight, and they at the first beck went over to Demas. Now, whether they fell into the pit by looking over the brink thereof, or whether they went down to dig, or whether they were smothered in the bottom by the damps that commonly arise, of these things I am not certain; but this I observed, that they were never seen again in the way. Then sang Christian,

“By-ends and silver Demas both agree;

One calls, the other runs, that he may be

A sharer in his lucre: so these two

Take up in this world, and no farther go.”

1John 2:15-17

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pilgrim's Progress - The Plain Called Ease


The Delicate, Narrow Plain, Called Ease.

Our Heroes, Christian and Hopeful, out pacing Mr. Byends and companions experience some refreshing times, though very brief, in fact only a sentence's breadth. Yet in beautiful Bunyan fashion I think we learn from this one sentence something of the Christian Experience:

We read:

Then Christian and Hopeful outwent them again, and went till they came at a delicate plain, called Ease, where they went with much content; but that plain was but narrow, so they were quickly got over it.

I noted that here they had "much content." And yet we should remember, this was a delicate plain, a narrow plain and so we won't be here long in the delicate, narrow plain called Ease. I think Bunyan wants us to know there is such a thing as a time of Ease where trials seem to cease from view, temptations not so tempting, persecutors not so apparent. But even so this shouldn't be expected long. The place is delicate and the plain itself is narrow. So wonderful as the journey here is - since we are ever moving to the celestial city soon we quickly get over it and find ourselves facing the next trial.

Thank you God for those refreshing times may I learn to "Don't Waste your Plain called Ease."

Friday, July 23, 2010

SOUL FEEDING - SOUL INSTRUCTING SONG V9-11


Continuing in our look at Psalm 42

Psalm 42:9-11


Psa 42:9 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
Psa 42:10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?
Psa 42:11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.


The despair expressed here is so painful. God is my rock, I will pray to my rock, my God and ask, "why have you forgotten me, why go I on mourning? My enemy continues to oppress me, my sins overwhelm me, my grief over them is so great, I am distressed and pained because of it. My bones hurt, my body aches, my stomach is sick. These things are speaking to me over and over again doubt and unbelief, mocking me, "where is thy God? Where is he? why do you continue in this doubt if your God is here - he is not here - where is your GOD? He is gone from you."

Again we are reminded, THE PROBLEM IS YOU ARE LISTENING TO YOURSELF. YOU LET YOURSELF TALK TO YOU. But verse eleven once again demonstrates the proper soul healing procedure. Take your soul by the hand and no longer listening to it - talk to it - talk to yourself in this manner, preaching the gospel to yourself everyday.

Why are you cast down, Soul?
Why are you disquieted, clamoring and noisy-complaining, Soul?

HOPE IN GOD, SOUL. Soul, Hope thou in GOD.

I will YET after this praise GOD. There will be praise after this darkness. God is my help. His countenance, his presence, his SMILE and favor which is MINE in Christ who bought me. He will make MY own countenance SHINE IN HEALTH. Glow with Rosy robust health. He is the health of my countenance. My face will shine in joy for my God. For my saviour, his lovingkindness is ever towards me, for I belong to Christ. HE has given me to his son, and I belong to Jesus. I am his and he will never cast me away. He is able and willing to receive me, who am given to himself from the Father. It's a matter for GOD and he will bring health to my face, joy to my body. My bones will hurt no more. Soul, Hope thou in God.

SPURGEON:
Thus faith closes the struggle, a victor in fact by anticipation, and in heart by firm reliance. The saddest countenance shall yet be made to shine, if there be a taking of God at his word and an expectation of his salvation.
“For yet I know I shall him praise
Who graciously to me,
The health is of my countenance,
Yea, mine own God is he.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

SOUL FEEDING - SOUL INSTRUCTING SONG V8


Continuing on in our look at Psalm 42

Lovingkindness a noble-lifebelt in a rough sea......

Psalm 42:8


Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

There is something so wonderful here - the LORD will COMMAND his lovingkindness. Do you hear that word, "command?" The Lord has a directive for his lovingkindness. My problems are overwhelming me, my body hurts, my stomach aches, my soul is cast down and disquieted within me .... BUT GOD will command his lovingkindness -- even in the daytime. Christ for me, Christ my saviour, Christ my sacrifice that satisifies the just wrath of God. Christ my mediator between God and men. Christ the friend who sticks closer than a brother. Christ fairer than the fair. Christ lovely and beautiful, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. Christ who condemned sin in the flesh. Christ given for me and in my place, delivered up for my offenses and raised again for my justification. Christ who has washed me from my sins. In Christ is lovingkindness abounding. And knowing my calling and election of God - making it sure - believing in the saviour Jesus Christ I know his lovingkindness is commanded in the daytime.

SPURGEON:
Come what may there shall be “a certain secret something” to sweeten all. Lovingkindness is a noble life-belt in a rough sea. The day may darken into a strange and untimely midnight, but the love of God ordained of old to be the portion of the elect, shall be by sovereign decree meted out to them. No day shall ever dawn on an heir of grace and find him altogether forsaken of his Lord: the Lord reigneth, and as a sovereign he will with authority command mercy to be reserved for his chosen. “And in the night.” Both divisions of the day shall be illuminated with special love, and no stress of trial shall prevent it.

IN THE NIGHT HIS SONG SHALL BE With me.

At night in bed, when my thoughts drift where they shouldn't where cares and sin overwhelm. Where in the quiet my thinking lead to my doubting there his song shall be with me. There I can find him. God commanding lovingkindness in the daytime and at night his SONG IS WITH ME.

SPURGEON:
Our God is God of the nights as well as the days; none shall find his Israel unprotected, be the hour what it may. “His song shall be with me.” Songs of praise for blessings received shall cheer the gloom of night. No music sweeter than this. The belief that we shall yet glorify the Lord for mercy given in extremity is a delightful stay to the soul. Affliction may put out our candle, but if it cannot silence our song we will soon light the candle again.

His song with me and my prayer to GOD.

God hears our prayers - his ear is open to us. He has bought us with a precious price, the dear blood of the blessed glorious only-begotten of the FATHER and he will hear his own they know his voice and he knows them.

SPURGEON:
“And my prayer unto the God of my life.” Prayer is yoked with praise. He who is the living God, is the God of our life, from him we derive it, with him in prayer and praise we spend it, to him we devote it, in him we shall perfect it. To be assured that our sighs and songs shall both have free access to our glorious Lord is to have reason for hope in the most deplorable condition.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SOUL FEEDING - SOUL INSTRUCTING SONG V7


Continuing on in our look at Psalm 42
God's Waves and Billows

Psalm 42:7


Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.


Q. What are waterspouts?
A. I'm thinking water shooting up from the sea terrible to behold. And John Gill writes:
By which are meant afflictions, comparable to the deep waters of the sea, for their multitude and overwhelming nature; see Psalm 69:1; these came pouring down, one after another, upon the psalmist: as soon as one affliction over, another came, as in the case of Job; which is signified by one calling to another, and were clamorous, troublesome, and very grievous and distressing;

Q. What noise do they make?
A. You can imagine the terrific rush of noise, the gushing forth, crashing with fierceness. Waters from the DEEP uniting force with Waters deep as well. Deep calling unto deep with troubles mounting as in the noise of GOD's tremendous workings in nature - his waterspouts.

Q. And to whom do they belong?
A. To GOD, they are his waterspouts.


Still praying to GOD, "...thy waves and thy billows...."

Tremendous waves of troubles are coming over me and they are thy waves, I receive them from the hand of my God. All things are of the Lord troubles as well.

And so Matthew Poole writes:
All thy waves and thy billows; thou hast sent one sharp trial or affliction upon me after another.

Are gone over me, i.e. are gone over my head, as this same verb is used, Psa_38:4. They do not lightly sprinkle me, but almost overwhelm me.

SPURGEON:
“Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts.” Thy severe dealings with me seem to excite all creation to attack me; heaven, and earth, and hell, call to each other, stirring each other up in dreadful conspiracy against my peace. As in a waterspout, the deeps above and below clasp hands, so it seemed to David that heaven and earth united to create a tempest around him. His woes were incessant and overwhelming. Billow followed billow, one sea echoed the roaring of another; bodily pain aroused mental fear, Satanic suggestions chimed in with mistrustful foreboding, outward tribulation thundered in awful harmony with inward anguish: his soul seemed drowned as in a universal deluge of trouble, over whose waves the providence of the Lord moved as a watery pillar, in dreadful majesty inspiring the utmost terror. As for the afflicted one he was like a lonely bark around which the fury of a storm is bursting, or a mariner floating on a mast, almost every moment submerged. “All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.” David thought that every trouble in the world had met in him, but he exaggerated, for all the breaking waves of Jehovah have passed over none but the Lord Jesus; there are griefs to which he makes his children strangers for his love's sake. Sorrow naturally states its case forcibly; the mercy is that the Lord after all hath not dealt with us according to our fears. Yet what a plight to be in! Atlantic rollers sweeping in ceaseless succession over one's head, waterspouts coming nearer and nearer, and all the ocean in uproar around the weary swimmer; most of the heirs of heaven can realise the description, for they have experienced the like. This is a deep experience unknown to babes in grace, but common enough to such as do business on great waters of affliction: to such it is some comfort to remember that the waves and billows are the Lords, “thy waves and thy billows,” says David, they are all sent, and directed by him, and achieve his designs, and the child of God knowing this, is the more resigned.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SOUL FEEDING - SOUL INSTRUCTING SONG V6


Continuing on in our look at Psalm 42

Therefore Will I Remember Thee

Psalm 42:6


O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

Now again David speaking to GOD, after first taking Soul in Hand now in Prayer to GOD, "MY SOUL IS CAST DOWN WITHIN ME." What to do - I MUST REMEMBER GOD. We must Remember God wherever we are. Remember God in the school work, in the office, on the river, in the pedal boat, in the canoe, with your friends, Remember God for he is the health and healing of all your soul problems. His countenance is your HELP. Remember God in the city, the country. Remember God and in prayer pledging to remember and trust and depend upon God. WE ARE HELPLESS - but we have a great HELPER.

Spurgeon:
Here the song begins again upon the brass. So sweet an ending deserves that for the sake of a second hopeful close the Psalm should even begin again. Perhaps the Psalmist's dejection continued, the spasm of despondency returned; well, then, he will down with his harp again, and try again its power upon himself, as in his younger days, he saw its influence upon Saul when the evil spirit came upon him. With God the song begins the second time more nearly than at first. The singer was also a little more tranquil. Outward expression of desire was gone; there was no visible panting; the sorrow was now all restrained within doors. Within or upon himself he was cast down; and, verily, it may well be so, while our thoughts look more within than upward. If self were to furnish comfort, we should have but poor provender. There is no solid foundation for comfort in such fickle frames as our heart is subject to. It is well to tell the Lord how we feel, and the more plain the confession the better: David talks like a sick child to its mother, and we should learn to imitate him. “Therefore will I remember thee.” 'Tis well to fly to our God. Here is terra firma. Blessed downcasting which drives us to so sure a rock of refuge as thee, O Lord! “From the hill Mizar.” He recalls his seasons of choice communion by the river and among the hills, and especially that dearest hour upon the little hill, where love spake her sweetest language and revealed her nearest fellowship. It is great wisdom to store up in memory our choice occasions of converse with heaven; we may want them another day, when the Lord is slow in bringing back his banished ones, and our soul is aching with fear. “His love in times past” has been a precious cordial to many a fainting one; like soft breath it has fanned the smoking flax into a flame, and bound up the bruised reed. Oh, never-to-be-forgotten valley of Achor, thou art a door of hope! Fair days, now gone, ye have left a light behind you which cheers our present gloom. Or does David mean that even where he was he would bethink him of his God; does he declare that, forgetful of time and place, he would count Jordan as sacred as Siloa, Hermon as holy as Zion, and even Mizar, that insignificant rising ground, as glorious as the mountains which are round about Jerusalem! Oh! it is a heavenly heart which can sing -
“To me remains nor place nor time;
My country is in every clime;
I can be calm and free from care
On any shore, since God is there.
“Could I be cast where thou art not,
That were indeed a dreadful lot,
But regions none remote I call,
Secure of finding God in all.”

Monday, July 19, 2010

A SOUL FEEDING - SOUL INSTRUCTING SONG V5


Continuing in our look at Psalm 42

Psalm 42:5


Psa 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

Q. What is it to be cast down? How sad, how low, how despairing are you my soul and why are you thus?

Q. What is it to be disquieted? The soul is not quiet, it cries, it weeps and complains, there is an uproar within, a clamour of despair and noisy tumult of soul-upsettedness. Your whole body sometimes feels the pain of it. The bones hurt, the stomach hurts, the soul cries and the body aches.

Why Soul are you cast down - why are you in such a loud tumult?

Q. TO WHOM IS DAVID TALKING NOW?

A. He is talking to his own soul, talking to HIMSELF. D.M. Lloyd Jones' book, Spiritual Depression, is to my hearing becoming more and more well known for his great exposition of this psalm. I hear Lloyd-Jones here saying: "Preach the gospel to yourself every day." Before Jerry Bridges helped us with this concept, Lloyd-Jones did and before that THE WORD OF GOD has taught us this wisdom.

David is talking to himself. As Lloyd-Jones wrote, the problem is we are always listening to ourselves. Stop listening to yourself and take yourself in hand and counsel your own soul, "Hope thou in GOD. " Preach the gospel to yourself - quiet your soul with such words - not listening to the clamorous, depressed, downcast soul, but speaking to it the GOSPEL. HOPE THOU SOUL IN GOD.

God's countenance is a HELP TO US. His near presence is a HELP to US. HIS sending his son FOR US is a HELP to us. His smile of electing Love is our HELP. WE believe in Christ he has smiled upon us and Christ is for us. Who can be against us? God who spared not his own son but delivered him up for us -- how shall he not with HIM freely give us all things. He has already given the greatest in CHRIST HIS ONLY-BEGOTTEN, all else is less, and all else is ours in CHRIST. His countenance is our help.

Spurgeon writes on this:
Salvations come from the propitious face of God, and he will yet lift up his countenance upon us. Note well that the main hope and chief desire of David rest in the smile of God. His face is what he seeks and hopes to see, and this will recover his low spirits, this will put to scorn his laughing enemies, this will restore to him all the joys of those holy and happy days around which memory lingers. This is grand cheer. This verse, like the singing of Paul and Silas, looses chains and shakes prison walls. He who can use such heroic language in his gloomy hours will surely conquer. In the garden of hope grow the laurels for future victories, the roses of coming joy, the lilies of approaching peace.

HELPS or SALVATIONS:
Albert Barnes in his Notes points out that the word "Help" as
found in the original Hebrew is in the plural and wonderfully explains as follows:

"For the help of his countenance - literally, “the salvations of his face,” or his presence. The original word rendered help is in the plural number, meaning salvations; and the idea in the use of the plural is, that his deliverance would be completed or entire - as if double or manifold. The meaning of the phrase “help of his countenance” or “face,” is that God would look favorably or benignly upon him. Favor is expressed in the Scriptures by lifting up the light of the countenance on one. See the notes at Psa 4:6; compare Psa 11:7; Psa 21:6; Psa 44:3; Psa 89:15. This closes the first part of the psalm, expressing the confident belief of the psalmist that God would yet interpose, and that his troubles would have an end; reposing entire confidence in God as the only ground of hope; and expressing the feeling that when that confidence exists the soul should not be dejected or cast down."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A SOUL FEEDING - SOUL INSTRUCTING SONG V4


Continuing in our look at Psalm 42

Psalm 42:4


When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.

There were better times before - the thinking of the joy I had then in worship and praise with like-minded worshippers of GOD, with a multitude that kept holyday. Really kept it - in true worship to God. The VOICE OF JOY was there, I had joy in the Lord then. Now tears are my meat - but then Joy. And remembering these things I pour out my soul in me.

What is this: "pour out my soul in me?" Matthew Henry describes it thus: "his soul was poured out in him; he melted away, and the thought almost broke his heart. he poured out his soul within him in sorrow, and then poured out his soul before God in prayer."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A SOUL FEEDING - SOUL INSTRUCTING SONG V3

Continuing in our study of Psalm 42

Psalm 42
:3

My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?

Tears are meat! Tears are meat? What does this mean? How can tears be meat? Daily King David partakes of tears? Daily they are his meal, no food but this - my tears. So distressed that the only meat to eat is the tears I cry.

I'm thinking, like David's enemies taunting him, "where is thy God?" our own sins and doubts and unbeliefs say the same thing - they speak words of an enemy ringing and banging in the inner ear..... "where is thy God?" Oh God - come to me, satisfy my thirst, quiet my enemies. I pant for thee.

Spurgeon:
When a man comes to tears, constant tears, plenteous tears, tears that fill his cup and trencher, he is in earnest indeed. As the big tears stand in the stag's eyes in her distress, so did the salt drops glitter in the eyes of David. His appetite was gone, his tears not only seasoned his meat, but became his only meat, he had no mind for other diet. Perhaps it was well for him that the heart could open the safety valves; there is a dry grief far more terrible than showery sorrows. His tears since they were shed because God was blasphemed, were “honourable dew,” drops of holy water, such as Jehovah putteth into his bottle. “While they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” Cruel taunts come naturally from coward minds. Surely they might have left the mourner alone; he could weep no more than he did - it was a supererogation of malice to pump more tears from a heart which already overflowed. Note how incessant was their jeer, and how artfully they framed it! It cut the good man to the bone to have the faithfulness of his God impugned. They had better have thrust needles into his eyes than have darted insinuations against his God.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A SOUL FEEDING - SOUL INSTRUCTING SONG V2


Continuing in our look at Psalm 42

Psalm 42:2


My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

Repeating again, first in verse 1 "panting soul" now in verse 2 "thirsting soul" thirsting for GOD.
OH GOD SATISFY MY THIRST - FOR YOU I THIRST. Spurgeon writes how violent thirsting really is:
“Thirsteth.” Which is more than hungering; hunger you can palliate, but thirst is awful, insatiable, clamorous, deadly. O to have the most intense craving after the highest good! this is no questionable mark of grace. “For God.” Not merely for the temple and the ordinances, but for fellowship with God himself. None but spiritual men can sympathise with this thirst.

And as an encouragement and emphasis - "THE LIVING GOD." Again Spurgeon writes:
Because he lives, and gives to men the living water; therefore we, with greater eagerness, desire him. A dead God is a mere mockery; we loathe such a monstrous deity; but the ever-living God, the perennial fountain of life and light and love, is our soul's desire. What are gold, honour, pleasure, but dead idols? May we never pant for these.

When shall I come and appear before GOD? God seems so distant now - my thirst is not satisfied by grows - when shall I be in the presence of God again?

Spurgeon: "“To see the face of God” is the nearer translation of the Hebrew; but the two ideas may be combined - he would see his God and be seen of him; this is worth thirsting after!"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A SOUL FEEDING - SOUL INSTRUCTING SONG V1


Continuing our study in Psalm 42

Psalm 42:1
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

This is how David felt. King David, the same that killed Goliath, the same called a man after God's own heart. He felt just as a deer very thirsty, parched and panting after water, cool fresh water. The deer, dry to the bone, running all night from the hunter perhaps, fleeing the wolf, now spent and thirsting to the point of PANTING is how DAVID SAYS, speaking in prayer to GOD, HIS OWN SOUL PANTS AFTER GOD. God my soul pants for thee! I'm thirsting for you my GOD.

Something is wrong for King David - he is thirsting as one who cannot be satisfied and the only satisfaction to refresh his soul is to drink deeply of GOD.

To add to these thoughts from Spurgeon's Treasury of David I found the following:
As after a long drought the poor fainting hind longs for the streams, or rather as the hunted hart instinctively seeks after the river to lave its smoking flanks and to escape the dogs, even so my weary, persecuted soul pants after the Lord my God. Debarred from public worship, David was heartsick. Ease he did not seek, honour he did not covet, but the enjoyment of communion with God was an urgent need of his soul; he viewed it not merely as the sweetest of all luxuries, but as an absolute necessity, like water to a stag. Like the parched traveller in the wilderness, whose skin bottle is empty, and who finds the wells dry, he must drink or die - he must have his God or faint. His soul, his very self, his deepest life, was insatiable for a sense of the divine presence. As the hart brays so his soul prays. Giro him his God and he is as content as the poor deer which at length slakes its thirst and is perfectly happy; but deny him his Lord, and his heart heaves, his bosom palpitates, his whole frame is convulsed, like one who gasps for breath, or pants with long running. Dear reader, dost thou know what this is, by personally having felt the same? It is a sweet bitterness. The next best thing to living in the light of the Lord's love is to be unhappy till we have it, and to pant hourly after it - hourly, did I say? thirst is a perpetual appetite, and not to be forgotten, and even thus continual is the heart's longing after God. When it is as natural for us to long for God as for an animal to thirst, it is well with our souls, however painful our feelings. We may learn from this verse that the eagerness of our desires may be pleaded with God, and the more so, because there are special promises for the importunate and fervent.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A SOUL FEEDING - SOUL INSTRUCTING SONG


This morning my girls and I during r Saturday morning breakfast and bible study took a look into Psalm 42 before resuming our reading and discussions of Pilgrim's Progress.

Psalm 42


To increase our comprehension, before we began with a serious reading, I thought it good to ask a few questions:

Q1. What is a hart?
A1. We know the song, as the deer panteth for the waters.... I was pretty sure the girls would hear "hart" and think "heart." Other than that - I thought they probably would have no idea what is a "hart."

E-Sword tells us also: a "hart" is a stag, a deer, a male deer.

Q2. What are water brooks?
A2. Eleven year old said "small running streams of water." Good enough, I thought. This might be easy.

Q3. What is panting?
A3. This was harder for them to grasp. We thought of a movie we saw, a comedy, actually, but in this movies closing scene there were two men approaching the hero demanding said here give up his most prized position. The hero thought they meant the gold, which he tossed in their direction. The men just took the gold and threw it away. "We don't want your gold we want your water." You see they were in the middle of the desert dying of thirst. Gold was nothing - water was everything. "Have you ever been so thirsty that you yearned after a glass of cold refreshing water?" I asked.

Q4. What is it to be "cast down?"
A4. To be very sad, to be really depressed, down in spirits.

Q5. What is it to be disquieted?
A5. One answered, "to be really quiet." NO, quite the opposite, there is "QUIET" and then there is "DIS -- QUIETED." There is noise, a ruckus going on. Instead of peace there is clamor. Your soul is loudly complaining.

Q6. What is "countenance?"
A6. Another tough question. Thinking in terms of the appearance of one's countenance, I tried to explain by giving various appearances to my facial expressions. Serious, stern, happy, loving and caring -- see how my countenance changes as my appearance shows forth differently. Also, how so much happiness relies on their mother's first reception of me as I return home every day. Is it Joyful or sad, does she run and greet me with a hug? Or does she look up with a big smile and that every friendly "Hey your home!" - as her countenance is first towards me upon my daily return my own mood is affected. And so also is she affected by my first countenance towards her. Literally countenance: "his face or presence."

Continued tomorrow

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pilgrim's Progress - More Thoughts on Byends


THE MOTIVE IS EVERYTHING --- IT MAKES THE MAN

To further the lessons we learned from Byends and company I thought to read from Lectures on Pilgrim's Progress by George Cheever. Selected thoughts from the author as follows: click here for context

The philosophy of Money-Love and By-ends is that which the god of this world teaches all his votaries, and, alas, when motives come to be scrutinized, as they will be, at the bar of God, how much of our apparent good will be found to be evil, because in the root that nourished both the branches and the fruit, there was found to be nothing but self-interest carefully concealed. Ye seek me, not because of the miracles to be witnessed, or the grace to be gained, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

Now is not this logic of Money-love very bare-faced ? And yet these men considered it perfectly triumphant, and an argument that Christian and Hopeful could not possibly contradict. Whereupon they resolved to propound the same question to them, and so puzzle and defeat them. But to their astonishment, Christian declared that none othe;-s than heathens, hypocrites, devils, and witches conld be of their opinion,' and then he went on to prove this so clearly and powerfully out of Scripture, with instances in point, that the men were completely staggered, and stood staring one upon another unable to answer a word. What, said Christian to Hopeful, will these men do with the sentence of God if they cannot stand before the sentence of men ?

This passage in the pilgrimage is full of instruction, and we might dwell long upon it, and upon the danger of evil motives under the guise of a good cause, or of unholy motives in a holy cause. The motive is every thing; it makes the man. An eye single makes a single-minded man: an eye double makes a double minded man. An eye single is good in whatever a man undertakes, considered even merely in reference to the things of this life, and as requisite to decision of character. In this view the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light; what they do for this world they do with energy and whole-heartedness, which is just what, as pilgrims, we want for Christ. We want in all tillings an eye single for God, for his approbation, for his glory, and this is the precious motive that excludes every other, or keeps every other subordinate, and turns every thing to gold. " Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not as unto men." The very drudgery and toilsomeness of our pilgrimage is turned into a divine and holy service, by this precious singleness of heart for Christ! O how desirable is this in every thing ! This is the body of that beautiful composition by Herbert, entitled The Elixir, which is perhaps the best series of stanzas he ever wrote. It is good to drink this on our pilgrimage, especially after such a conversation with By-ends and Money-love. By ends are almost always bad ends, but love to Christ, singleness of heart for Christ, sets them at a distance, and shows them at once in their native hypocrisy and deformity.

Teach me, my God and King,
In all things thee to see,
And what I do in any thing
To do it as for thee.

Not rudely, as a beast,
I'd run into an action,
But still to make thee prepossest.
And give it thy perfection.

A man that looks on glass

On it may stay his eye;

And if he pleaseth, through it pass.

And then the heaven espy.

All I may of thee partake;
Nothing can be so mean
Which with this tincture for thy sake
Will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room as for thy laws
Makes that and the action fine.

This is the famous stone

That turneth all to gold;

For that which God doth touch and own

Cannot for less be told.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pilgrim's Progress - Mr. Byends


We read the account of Byends, Mr. Moneylove and Mr. Hold-the-World and Mr. Save-All now several times. There was something about this encounter that especially caught me - some quality about it that I wanted my girls to catch - to recognize and to learn. And I think this encounter catches something that is so BUNYANESQUE for me.

Bunyan has a way of displaying to our ears conversations full of thoughts and reasonings that sound so familiar to us. Perhaps we think: "I've thought like that." or "That's been said to me but I didn't know how to respond." or even "Ah, here in this conversation is the wisdom and insight I need for I encounter this kind of thinking without and within."

Who is ByEnds? He is a man from the city of Fair Speech. He thinks it good and right to follow whatever means necessary to reach the desired end. If religion will advance him, then he pursues religion for advancement. He loves religion, "In its silver slippers" and "not against wind and tide." Byends finds Christian and Hopeful to be rather overly-rigid. It's offensive to him that they stand by religion even against wind and tide, silver slippers or rags. Byends has left the company of Christian lagging behind them to join up with Mr. Moneylove, Mr. Save-All and Mr. Hold-The-World. And to these men Byends poses a question and Mr. Moneylove answers.

Let's consider ByEnds and Moneylove and how their thinking works as Mr. Byends proposes the following question:

By-Ends: My brethren, we are, as you see, going all on pilgrimage; and for our better diversion from things that are bad, give me leave to propound unto you this question.

Suppose a man, a minister, or a tradesman, etc., should have an advantage lie before him to get the good blessings of this life, yet so as that he can by no means come by them, except, in appearance at least, he becomes extraordinary zealous in some points of religion that he meddled not with before; may he not use this means to attain his end, and yet be a right honest man?


How would you answer? IS it not right to act against your opinion and principal and appear to be something you are not if gain might be had? Sounds rather dark to me but listen to the eloquent logic and reasoning of Mr. Moneylove:

Mr. Money-Love: I see the bottom of your question; and with these gentlemen’s good leave, I will endeavor to shape you an answer. And first, to speak to your question as it concerneth a minister himself: suppose a minister, a worthy man, possessed but of a very small benefice, and has in his eye a greater, more fat and plump by far; he has also now an opportunity of getting it, yet so as by being more studious, by preaching more frequently and zealously, and, because the temper of the people requires it, by altering of some of his principles; for my part, I see no reason why a man may not do this, provided he has a call, aye, and more a great deal besides, and yet be an honest man. For why?

1. His desire of a greater benefice is lawful, (this cannot be contradicted,) since it is set before him by Providence; so then he may get it if he can, making no question for conscience’ sake.

2. Besides, his desire after that benefice makes him more studious, a more zealous preacher, etc., and so makes him a better man, yea, makes him better improve his parts, which is according to the mind of God.

3. Now, as for his complying with the temper of his people, by deserting, to serve them, some of his principles, this argueth, 1. That he is of a self-denying temper. 2. Of a sweet and winning deportment. And, 3. So more fit for the ministerial function.

4. I conclude, then, that a minister that changes a small for a great, should not, for so doing, be judged as covetous; but rather, since he is improved in his parts and industry thereby, be counted as one that pursues his call, and the opportunity put into his hand to do good.

Quite a string of convincing Logic:

It's certainly lawful for a man to desire to improve his station in life. To seek better for himself and his own - is it not? And if for any man why not also for a minister.

Besides see how this desire for improvement of things will bring the minister to study harder, to preach more and more zealously. Look what his desire for more causes - it causes good to come.

And if that minister must deny his own principals and appear to hold to the verbal plenary inspiriation of scripture, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, and penal substitionary atonement - why he is evidencing SELF-DENIAL in this. And self-denial is a good virtue in a minister.

How can we not conclude such a man good who pursues this path? How can we call him covetous from whom his desire for a better and bigger lot in life produces such good things.

Maybe you are convinced now concerning that minister based on the words of Mr. Moneylove but certainly they don't apply to the worker who is not in the full time minister. Wouldn't it be rather base for such a man to pretend to be religious in order to improve his substance to gain by godliness.

Mr. Moneylove has an answer for that as well:

And now to the second part of the question, which concerns the tradesman you mentioned. Suppose such an one to have but a poor employ in the world, but by becoming religious he may mend his market, perhaps get a rich wife, or more and far better customers to his shop; for my part, I see no reason but this may be lawfully done. For why?

1. To become religious is a virtue, by what means soever a man becomes so.

2. Nor is it unlawful to get a rich wife, or more custom to my shop.

3. Besides, the man that gets these by becoming religious, gets that which is good of them that are good, by becoming good himself; so then here is a good wife, and good customers, and good gain, and all these by becoming religious, which is good: therefore, to become religious to get all these is a good and profitable design.

Who can answer such logic? For me there is a nagging thought that even with this good line of logic and reasoning it still sounds covetous - it still sounds wrong. But with great confidence Byends, Moneylove and friends decide they will STUMP Christian and Hopeful for sure, so they speed ahead to catch them and put the same question to them and here is how Christian answered:

Then said Christian, Even a babe in religion may answer ten thousand such questions. For if it be unlawful to follow Christ for loaves, as it is, John 6:26; how much more abominable is it to make of him and religion a stalking-horse to get and enjoy the world! Nor do we find any other than heathens, hypocrites, devils, and wizards, that are of this opinion.

1. Heathens: for when Hamor and Shechem had a mind to the daughter and cattle of Jacob, and saw that there was no way for them to come at them but by being circumcised, they said to their companions, If every male of us be circumcised, as they are circumcised, shall not their cattle, and their substance, and every beast of theirs be ours? Their daughters and their cattle were that which they sought to obtain, and their religion the stalking-horse they made use of to come at them. Read the whole story, Gen. 34:20-24.

2. The hypocritical Pharisees were also of this religion: long prayers were their pretence, but to get widows’ houses was their intent; and greater damnation was from God their judgment. Luke 20:46,47.

3. Judas the devil was also of this religion: he was religious for the bag, that he might be possessed of what was put therein; but he was lost, cast away, and the very son of perdition.

4. Simon the wizard was of this religion too; for he would have had the Holy Ghost, that he might have got money therewith: and his sentence from Peter’s mouth was according. Acts 8:19-22.

5. Neither will it go out of my mind, but that that man who takes up religion for the world, will throw away religion for the world; for so surely as Judas designed the world in becoming religious, so surely did he also sell religion and his Master for the same. To answer the question, therefore, affirmatively, as I perceive you have done, and to accept of, as authentic, such answer, is heathenish, hypocritical, and devilish; and your reward will be according to your works.

Then they stood staring one upon another, but had not wherewith to answer Christian. Hopeful also approved of the soundness of Christian’s answer; so there was a great silence among them. Mr. By-ends and his company also staggered and kept behind, that Christian and Hopeful might outgo them. Then said Christian to his fellow, If these men cannot stand before the sentence of men, what will they do with the sentence of God? And if they are mute when dealt with by vessels of clay, what will they do when they shall be rebuked by the flames of a devouring fire?

And so we are grateful once again to learn wisdom and discernment.

By the way, I had to look up stalking horse and found this in wikipedia (see picture above):

The term stalking horse originally derived from the practice of hunting,[1] particularly of wildfowl.[2] Hunters noticed that many birds would flee immediately on the approach of humans, but would tolerate the close presence of animals such as horses and cattle.

Hunters would therefore slowly approach their quarry by walking alongside their horses, keeping their upper bodies out of sight until the flock was within firing range. Animals trained for this purpose were called stalking horses. Sometimes mobile hides are used for a similar purpose.

Our study guide defined stalking horse as "a mask or pretense."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

SPURGEON - Conversion Account



Over on Challies.com we are reading together through the classics this one titled: Spurgeon A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore.

The account of his conversion to Christ described in Spurgeon's own words was quite good and worth reading. I see through a quick google search it has been reproduced by many websites and blogs many times. Thought I'd do the same.

I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache. The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed; but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was,—

“Look Unto Me, And Be Ye Saved, All The Ends Of The Earth.”

He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus: “My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pains. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay!” said he, in broad Essex, “many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some on ye say, ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin’.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’”

Then the good man followed up his text in this way: “Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin’ at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! look unto Me!”

When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, “Young man, you look very miserable.” Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, “and you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death,—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.” Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.”

I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said,—I did not take much notice of it,—I was so possessed with that one thought. Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” what a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, “Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.”

The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon V1: 1834-1854, Page 105-107