Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pilgrim's Progress Talkative and an Object Lesson

Continuing on with the lesson on Talkative and how we can discover the weakness and strength of our faith, I was concerned that my three little girls did not confuse weak-faith with no-faith and so we discussed. I asked them if a weak faith person was a Christian? They responded that he must be for there was such a man in Pilgrim's progress called Mr. Fearing and he was a Christian. We will learn more about Mr. Fearing in PART II where we can read:

"Mr. Honest: He was a very zealous man, as one may see by the relation you have given of him. Difficulties, lions, or Vanity Fair, he feared not at all; it was only sin, death, and hell, that were to him a terror, because he had some doubts about his interest in that celestial country.

Mr. Great-Heart: You say right; those were the things that were his troublers; and they, as you

have well observed, arose from the weakness of his mind thereabout, not from weakness of spirit as to the practical part of a pilgrim’s life. I dare believe that, as the proverb is, he could have bit a firebrand, had it stood in his way; but the things with which he was oppressed, no man ever yet could shake off with ease.

Christiana: Then said Christiana, This relation of Mr. Fearing has done me good; I thought nobody had been like me. But I see there was some semblance betwixt this good man and me: only we differed in two things. His troubles were so great that they broke out; but mine I kept within. His also lay so hard upon him, they made him that he could not knock at the houses provided for entertainment; but my trouble was always such as made me knock the louder."

BACK to our discussion regarding "is one with weak Faith truly a Christian:"

I asked my girls how much faith does an UNBELIEVER have?

They answered: NONE

So by definition an unbeliever does not have weak faith but NONE. A true Christian though his faith is weak is yet a Christian. But he does not so glorify Christ as he should in joy and peace and desire and service.

Unbelieving is like saying UN-Faithing. No Faith = No belief.

They asked me: "Dad what is Faith?"

I tried to answer them according to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which to my shame, I have never taught them, "Faith is a grace, a gift whereby we take hold in dependance upon Christ. " Quoting Eph 2:8-9, and Rom 12:3. Better said: "A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel." click here and see Ques 86.

There was also a subtle lesson I wanted to impart to my girls in all this. It did not come out so clear and fully developed as I intended but it was this:

In the WORD-OF-FAITH movement we can be taught that we are sick or not healed or die because our faith is NOT strong enough. Because we do not have enough faith. But Jesus said if you have only faith as a grain of mustard seed you can say to this mountain be moved and cast into the sea and so shall it.

Mat 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Hence, weak faith or strong, all that is required is some faith and even that is a gift and grace from God who ought to be thanked for it. And so hoping to deliver my girls from the bondage of the Faith Movement into a proper understanding of the nature of Faith I attempted to show them that even weak faith is TRUE FAITH INDEED.

And now for the object lesson:

My 10 year old, who this spring has discovered a love for plants and flowers and hopes someday to be a florist herself, has been busily planting a large variety of seeds in little pots of dirt, which she keeps in her room and in our garage waiting for the weather to warm and transplant outside. This morning, upon hearing of the "mustard seed faith." 10 year old pointed out to us that she was very reluctant to plant the tiny seeds. She said, "I didn't think those small seeds were nearly so likely of growing as the bigger seeds." But she soon discovered to her surprise and reported to us this morning, "It was always the small seeds that grew every time."

Let the weak faith grow into the strong and beautiful flower it is destined to become.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pilgrim's Progress Talkative - More Lessons

We are approaching a full year in reading through Pilgrim's Progress.

It seems at each location and venture Christian encounters we linger quite a while together. Days and even weeks pass and we are still discussing either; The interpreters house; The Cross; Hill Difficulty; The Porters House; Appollyon; The Valley of the Shadow of Death; and now once again weeks are spent in the Frightful encounter with Talkative. Part of the reason we linger so long at each venture is that we spend a great deal of time interacting with the Biblical references provided by Bunyan himself, plus sometimes with Barry Horner's commentary; and also with the discussion questions and vignettes throughout in Answers In Genesis own book pictured above. click here to see AIG's book.

Today and for the past few days we have been on this question which I quote somewhat imperfectly from memory:

Q. Faithful describes to Talkative that the strength or weakness of one's faith can be determined according to what four things?

1) According to one's joy and peace.
2) According to one's love to holiness.
3) According to one's desires to know Christ.
4) According to one's desires to serve Christ in this world.

This question was followed up with a second.

Q. Based on the four evidences listed above is your faith weak or strong?
This led to a beautiful discussion with my three little girls in which we talked personally and at length of our joy and lack of it, what it means to love holiness and the strength of our love for holiness and how that is evidenced to each of us personally.

After pointing out the difficulty of arriving with sound judgment concerning the strength or weakness of our own faith due to remaining sin which "abuses our reason" as Bunyan writes.

There was another question following:
Q. How is our faith discovered by others?

1) By an experiential confession of it. In other words we tell others about Christ, who he is and what he has done and our own interest in Him.
2) Secondly by the living out of our faith. Joy evidenced, love to holiness evidenced, desires to know Christ more evidenced, serving Christ in this world evidenced.

And so we came to my 10 year old. She has always expressed doubts regarding her own interest in Christ. "I'm not a Christian yet but I want to be." But this morning she said plainly "Christ has made me a Christian." And evidently this happened a few months back. We had called a special prayer meeting for one of our missionaries who was in dire straits. There were a few of us gathered that night as it was a spur of the moment event. But we did really pray. And more than one has commented at how God was there that night. It had been a long time myself since I had partook in such a powerful time of prayer with several brothers and sisters. As a Father, I wanted my kids with me that night. They should experience such a season of prayer and observe how we seek God in prayer. They should partake in the joy of trusting God so desperately. It was this night that my 10 year old says God saved her and gave her a new heart. Then she reminded me how this prayer meeting happened on a Friday night and starting that very next Sunday she and another 10 year old friend from church began a little bible study reading together through the book of Genesis. Maybe a couple of paragraphs reading and then discussing and trying to understand what God was saying. Months later this study still continues. And 10 year old reports that though she had heard the stories many times it was wonderful and powerful for her to read them directly from the word of God herself.

Praising God for his abundant grace.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Matthew Henry - Quotable Quote

A friend and Elder in our church sent me the following quote worthy of memorization and meditation. Succinctly Matthew Henry summarizes here truths we have been learning and applying to our lives from the first six chapters of Romans:

The righteousness of Christ imputed to us is our breast-plate against the arrows of divine wrath. The righteousness of Christ implanted in us is our breast-plate to fortify the heart against the attacks which Satan makes against us.... Faith is all in all to us in an hour of temptation. ” - Matthew Henry Eph 6:14 and Eph 6:16

In Justification we have righteousness of Christ imputed to our account, He is our representative, our Head, our divine substitute, the one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

In Sanctification we have the righteousness of Christ implanted in us or imparted to us by the working of the Spirit of God so that we work out our salvation with fear and trembling knowing that GOD works in us both TO WILL and TO DO of his good pleasure.

Praise His holy Name. Praise him, Hallelujah to his glorious name. Thank you Jesus. Praise GOD. All blessing and glory and honor to him who alone is worthy to be praised - God Blessed forever. AMEN. My heart swells with joy, Amen.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pilgrims Progress - The Frightening Encounter with Talkative

Talkative likes to talk.

But it's only words and only to be heard.

Most frightening is this encounter for me as I read through the Pilgrim's Progress for Talkative brings rise for self-examination. Have I only words? Have I only good knowledge but no good life to match? Have I only a form of godliness but by my life deny its power?

I really did appreciate Christian's advice to Faithful concerning this character:

"Why, go to him, and enter into some serious discourse about the power of religion; and ask him plainly, (when he has approved of it, for that he will,) whether this thing be set up in his heart, house, or conversation."

From this I reflected also upon my recent meditations in Romans Six as though Christian was advising Faithful to inquire of Talkative:

What work has been done in your heart? If you are dead with Christ how then can you live any longer in sin? If you are buried with Christ in baptism then you are raised up to walk in newness if life - has you life be renewed? Have you been born again? What is the fruit of it? What heart-work has been done in you and is being done in you? You approve of the power of religion - well then has the power of religion borne fruit in your heart? In your home? In your whole manner and way of life?

At first read, the following poem was difficult for me to grasp. It didn't hit me so well. But as my three little ones and I read it over and over again out loud, I saw the benefit of poetry - at least Bunyan's poetry and especially the need for poetry to be read aloud. I'm pretty old to only recently come to this realization but it has been one for which I have found much enjoyment. Not content with reading out loud as we memorized the poem and recited it out loud we began acting it out - Talkative strutting and pounding his chest showing his feathers, boldly and bravely expecting to power-down all before him with his vast knowledge, big words and much talking.

BUT SO SOON - with Faithful's heart-work inquiresTalkative -- LIKE THE MOON PAST THE FULL INTO THE WANE HE GOES. I Love it!

Wanting no part of heart-work, the realities of Christ in the heart of man were too much for Talkative he departs. I've seen it happen in my own life. Sometimes there is one who will siphon off all your strength with much talking but never listening, much talking but once you are able to bring the conversation to the power of the gospel in the life, the realities of Christ in you, off the man and onto Christ, LIKE THE MOON PAST THE FULL INTO THE WANE HE GOES. Yet, glad for the opportunity to be of real help, we hope for more.

Christian concludes:

"You did well to talk so plainly to him as you did. There is but little of this faithful dealing with men now-a-days, and that makes religion to stink so in the nostrils of many as it doth; for they are these talkative fools, whose religion is only in word, and who are debauched and vain in their conversation, that (being so much admitted into the fellowship of the godly) do puzzle the world, blemish Christianity, and grieve the sincere. I wish that all men would deal with such as you have done; then should they either be made more conformable to religion, or the company of saints would be too hot for them."

And so Faithful says to Christian: (Try reading out loud four of five times.)

“How Talkative at first lifts up his plumes!
How bravely doth he speak! How he presumes

To drive down all before him! But so soon

As Faithful talks of heart-work, like the moon

That’s past the full, into the wane he goes;

And so will all but he that heart-work knows.”

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Adoption - thoughts

You will benefit by reading the thoughts of this friend of mine as writes about his hopes of soon welcoming into his home three new siblings:

After reflecting on the recent experiences of his parents and the videos they brought home he writes:

"The second impactful moment was captured by a clip in which my mom was hugging one of the three orphans who did not have a host family for the trip. I had seen video clips of these children from points earlier in the trip, and their demeanors had grown more and more dejected and closed as they realized no one would be adopting them. Now, when my mom moved on to hug other children after embracing one of these orphans, the video camera caught his face with an expression of utter loneliness that cut me to the quick. That expression frightened me because I understood that after this event, no one would truly and lastingly care about what happened to him. Good or bad, no matter how great the extreme of his circumstances, no one would be there for him. I was stunned."

"How do you move on from an experience like that? How do you go on and live life normally, knowing that another’s life is filled with hardship, loneliness, and misery? Unfortunately, I’ve done it all too easily. That’s why I need to stir myself to remember and pray. I need to beseech my Heavenly Father to give this orphan and countless others like him the security of knowing Jesus. I also need to beg God that He would inspire Christian families to bring orphans like this one into their homes to show the love of Jesus to them."

Follow the link above to read the whole article. or click here

Below are three blogs of families we know currently in the process of adoption: