Saturday, December 26, 2009

Poetry on Jezebel and Christ....

Jezebel Fell; Jesus Arose

Jezebel, used to having her own way,
vowed for Naboth's "No" there'd be hell to pay.
Worthless fellows were bribed to tell a lie:
"He cursed God and King -- stone this rebel guy!"
Painted face hosts tea under lush grape vines
But justice is not silenced by cakes and wines.
Nothing nullifies God's Word, clear and loud,
God gives grace to the meek, unseats the proud.
When Jehu came to town, Jezebel fell.
Hands and skull spoke that dogs had eaten well.

Jesus, stubborn to do his Father's will,
refused to bow to Satan on the hill.
He didn't come to drink tea in a vineyard
But to be the grapes, crushed and stomped down hard.
Worthless fellows were called to tell a lie:
"He'll wreak the temple -- crucify this guy!"
Cup of wrath drunk by the Innocent;
Justice served, hell paid, for those who repent.
We Gentile dogs don't feast on Jezebel.
Christ arose, by faith on Him we sup full well.

Jeannette Paulson 12/09

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Paulson home flooded in 2009

If we have eyes to see, God sent a flood of grace in 2009 -- none of which we deserved and all of which we received with too little thanks......
First of all,
receiving the new mercies of the Lord every morning -- opportunity to be washed again from sin in the blood of the lamb,
enjoying health, home, jokes, flowers, food and the ability to think one thought after another,
feasting on Pastor John Piper's sermons on the gospel of John,
learning at Visionary Women to pray for our children and childrens' children and childrens' childrens' children,
hiking with Frieswicks on breath-taking Barn Bluff overlook the Mississippi,
swimming lessons early on cool summer mornings,
sewing doll quilts and doll clothes with Murphys,
discussing How to Write a Story by Lee Roddy with young writers,
Harlan and Jeannette helping in Sunday School with a staggering new curriculum: Rejoicing in God's Good Design: A Study for Youth on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,
David working as an R.N. and living with Christian friends,
Joseph graduating with a B.A. in business from Thomas Edison,
Hannah getting a tooth implant and working in an assisted-living home in Rosemount,
Ruthiey selling shoes at Kohls,
Ruthiey, Andrew, and Stephen learning piano with gifted Mrs. Shepherd,
Stephen picking up guitar,
Esther and Abigail learning art with gifted Mrs. Mann,
and Hannah helping mom make a handy three-week menu.

These are God's gifts to us in 2009. Remembering them should shame us into a stubborn refusal, by His grace, to despair and quit. Remembering them should fill us with anticipation for God's continued gifts of grace on grace. He is GOOD.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jamie Soles is coming to town!!

No, it is not Santa. It is Jamie Soles. I have blogged about him before, and now he is coming to Minnetonka on January 13. I do not have more detail that this right now but I wanted to give you a head's up. Check below for reviews. Here is what Dan Glover says about Jamie:

He does a wonderful job of simultaneously combining humour, gravity, solemnity, triumph, education, joy and praise as he retells many of the best and least known Bible stories from both the Old and New Testaments. Generally, each album progresses from creation to fall to redemption and shows God’s grace to His people throughout the full and continuous story of Scripture, culminating in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

C.S. Lewis on Progress

"we all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jane Austin Understood...

I was saying in a former blog that good literature may give us some hints on Biblical feminity. Look at Fanny Price in Mansfield Park: Besides "beauty of face and figure," she had "graces of manner and goodness of heart."
She was gentle, modest, sweet, good-tempered, and affectionate. Her "understanding was beyond every suspicion, quick and clear; and her manners were the mirror of her own modest and elegant mind." Fanny also had good principles, "regularity of conduct and such a high notion of honour, and such an observance of decorum as might warrant any man in the fullest dependence on her faith and integrity."
Translation: Fanny took care of herself, dressing modestly. She was both sweet and bright. But besides being intellectually quick; she was morally educated. In other words, she had a fear of God that made her one to be trusted. A man can rest easy married to such a woman.

Fool Moon Rising

Fool Moon Rising is a new children's book written and illustrated by Kristi and T. Lively Fluharty.
Humourously and exquisitely illustrated (see cover for example), with sweet poetic lyrics, the book tackles the core problem of man stealing glory from God by sporting the moon bragging about its light until it opens its eyes to see that all of its light is borrowed.
A great Christmas gift.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Romance in the Air

In his book The Undercover Revolution Iain H. Murray describes how the fiction of men like Thomas Hardy and H.G. Wells corrupted Britian. It is an amazing analysis, and it got me thinking how some older British fiction might, by God's grace, be resurrected to make us better.

Alas in our day we are hopelessly confused about Biblical femininity. But O.F. Walton was not as confused as we are. In her book The lost Clue, first published in 1907, she describes a gracious young woman named Marjorie Douglas. Her sister Phyllis serves as a foil:
"After tea they had games and music. Phyllis was very clever at the latter and sang well. She was not at all like her sister, very much prettier most people said, but it was beauty of feature rather than of expression. Kenneth thought she had rather a discontented face, and she moved wearily, when she was asked to do anything by her mother, as though every exertion, however small, cost her an effort."

In contrast, "It was Marjorie who was the life of the party, who saw at a glance what everyone wanted, who was ready to run here and there for them all; it was Marjorie who carried Carl up to bed, who picked up her mother's ball of wool when it fell, and who kept her eyes open all the time to see what she could do for others, and how she could help them all."

Earlier in the book we see Marjorie bringing a basket of pudding and beef tea (she was a good cook) to old Mary, one of six widows that she took turns visiting.

Later Marjorie's mother, a widow herself, runs into financial straits, and it is Marjorie who moves to the dismal mining town of Daisy Bank to make a little money at the dismal Holtby home as a mother's helper. At the end of the first day we read: "it was late when she got to bed that night, and she felt almost as if life in that house would be more than she could bear. And then she remembered that she had come there willing to do God's will, whatever that might be, and she determined to make the best of the home to which she had come, and to do her utmost to brighten it."
Soon "Miss Duggie" had little ones on her lap, as she read Bible stories and sang children's hymns. And she befriended a dying old woman, Mother Hotchkiss, assuring her that her sins would be forgiven if only she would confess them to God.

Marjorie is a picture of Biblical feminity. And none of us are surprised that Kenneth, mentioned above (handsome Captain Fortescue) is as fascinated with Marjorie as we are. We haven't finished this read-a-loud yet, but we all smell romance in the air.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Affliction and Love

We are fighting against the health care bills being proposed. But if they pass, how shall we understand it?

I read a great quote from A.W. Pink this morning: "Chastening is not only reconcilable with "God's lovingkindness, but it is the effect and expression of it. It would much quieten the minds of God's people if they would remember that His covenant love binds Him to lay on them seasonable correction. Afflictions are necessary for us: 'In their affliction they will seek Me early.'" Hosea 5:15

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Take Thought....

In his blog Pure Church, Thabiti Anyabwile agues for no pictures of God. Period. I agree and am glad to see the post. It is not a popular position. Or, rather, people hardly think about it. But now that we are taking a second look at Calvinism (which had largely gone out of style) lets look again at this issue. J.I. Packer actually quotes John Calvin.

The likeness of things in heaven (sun, moon, stars), and in earth (people, animals, birds, insects), and in the sea (fish, mammals, crustaceans), is precisely not a likeness of their Creator. "A true image of God," wrote Calvin, "is not to be found in all the world; and hence... His glory is defiled, and His truth corrupted by the lie, whenever He is set before our eyes in a visible form.... Therefore, to devise any image of God is itself impious; because by this corruption His majesty is adulterated, and He is figured to be other than He is."

The point here is not just that an image represents God as having a body and parts, whereas in reality he has neither. If this were the only ground of objection to images, representations of Christ would be blameless. But the point really goes much deeper. The heart of the objection to pictures and images is that they inevitably conceal most, if not all, of the truth about the personal nature and character of the divine Being whom they represent.

To illustrate: Aaron made a golden calf (that is, a bull-image). It was meant as a visible symbol of Jehovah, the mighty God who had brought Israel out of Egypt. No doubt the image was thought to honor him, as being a fitting symbol of his great strength. But it is not hard to see that such a symbol in fact insults him, for what idea of his moral character, his righteousness, goodness and patience could one gather from looking at a statue of him as a bull? Thus Aaron's image hid Jehovah's glory.

In a similar way, the pathos of the crucifix obscures the glory of Christ, for it hides the fact of his deity, his victory on the cross, and his present kingdom. It displays his human weakness, but it conceals his divine strength; it depicts the reality of his pain, but keeps out of our sight the reality of his joy and his power. In both these cases, the symbol is unworthy of most of all because of what it fails to display. And so are all other visible representations of deity.

Whatever we may think of religious art from a cultural standpoint, we should not look to pictures of God to show us his glory and move us to worship; for his glory is precisely what such pictures can never show us. And this is why God added to the second commandment a reference to himself as "jealous" to avenge himself on those who disobey him: for God's "jealousy" in the Bible is his zeal to maintain his own glory, which is jeopardized when images are used in worship.

In Isaiah 40:18, after vividly declaring God's immeasurable greatness, the Scripture asks us: "To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare to him?" The question does not expect an answer, only a chastened silence. Its purpose is to remind us that it is as absurd as it is impious to think that an image modeled, as images must be, upon some creature could be an acceptable likeness of the Creator.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Measure not God's love and favor by your own feelings. The sun shines as clearly in the darkest day as it does in the brightest. The difference is not in the sun, but in some clouds which hinder the manifestation of the light thereof.

Sibbes, Richard

Monday, September 28, 2009

When brethren dwell in sweet unity....

Doug Wilson came to speak at the Desiring God Conference in Minneapolis last weekend. Here is his gracious thanks for the invitation.
Thanks in a Bundle

Topic: Shameless Appeals

The Desiring God 2009 conference ended yesterday, and last night a special roundtable discussion on eschatology was held at Bethlehem Baptist. The whole time has been wonderful, and I wanted to state publicly what a privilege it was to be invited to participate, and I wanted to thank John Piper in particular. As you might guess, he took some heat for issuing the invitation, but throughout has been a model of fair-mindedness, an example for how accurate and respectful disagreement should be conducted, and a most gracious host. The other speakers were gracious and kind as well -- Marvin Olasky, Mark Talbot, Sam Storms, Julius Kim -- and Nancy and I enjoyed warm fellowship throughout the conference. Jim Hamilton was the premill representative in the round table discussion last night, and it was a pleasure getting to meet him as well. I urge you to check out their talks at the conference web site. I wanted to thanks some of the Desiring God and Bethlehem people that I met on this trip -- Joe Rigney, Scott Anderson, Tim Tomlinson, and David Mathis. There is a lot going on here, so I am sure you know there are many others that I have to thank in a bundle.

Ian Murray says somewhere, I think in Revival and Revivalism, that one of the hallmarks of a work of God is an evangelical catholicity. That demeanor is very much in evidence here and, as one of the presbyterians involved in it, I also wanted to acknowledge that the leadership in this particular area is coming from the baptists. But of course, thanks to God for all of it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Living by principle.

Living by principle means we will not live purely pragmatically. In 1866 Hudson Taylor felt the need for quarters in the city of Hang-chow. They found an ideal place but the owner, sensing their urgency, drove a hard bargain -- one beyond their means.
Now in the words of his son Dr. Howard Taylor: "Sunday, however, intervened--putting a stop as far as the missionaries were concerned to business transactions--and to the surprise of the landlord he saw no more of his would-be tenants. But though they had nothing to say to him apparently, they had much to lay before the Lord. The day was given to prayer, and when on Monday morning his decision was asked it was much more favourable.
"'They must have other houses in view,' he said to himself. 'If I am not careful I shall lose good tenants.'
"With surprising alacrity, after this, he came to terms, so that by Tuesday evening the necessary documents were signed and sealed." ----

God blessed Hudson Taylor's resolve to live by principle.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thou Shalt Not Slander...

The Westminster Confession of Faith discusses at great length, with precise Biblical support, the ten commandments and what is both forbidden and commanded in each one. If you think there is a commandment that you are not regularly breaking, just read the Confession. The ninth commandment, for example, forbids "misconstructing intentions, words, and actions." In other words, when we do not know someone's intention, we must not jump to conclusions. If there is any jumping to do, Paul tells us in I Cor. that love "believes all things"; that is, love puts the BEST construction on others words and actions and thoughts.

Where does that put the so-called hate crimes? Doesn't such legislation call for prosecution based on someone's intentions? Such legislation is immoral.

Get Creation magazine

The ministry that produces Creation magazine, CMI, recently got this letter:

Dear CMI,

I cannot express my gratitude in words. I became a Christian three years ago after struggling with thoughts of suicide due to my atheistic beliefs.

Your ministry truly saved my life.

I was raised in a secular home, and surrounded by atheistic propaganda from an early age, whether it be from school or the media. Unsurprisingly, I became an atheist at the age of 12.

As the years passed and I truly tried to understand the world around me, I discovered a horrifying truth that had been hidden from me, hidden from everyone.

This is the reason I am writing this letter, as even in your excellent articles on atheism, you do not truly reveal the extent to which the atheists deceive everyone, even themselves.

As the years passed and I truly tried to understand the world around me, I discovered a horrifying truth that had been hidden from me, hidden from everyone.

Atheists often say that they can truly live a happy, fulfilling life. Yet this is a lie, a deception which damns millions of souls to darkness.

While you revealed much in your articles, you have not destroyed the root.

Simply put, atheism destroys the possibility of personal identity, choice, and objective and subjective meaning.

Atheism inescapably leads to naturalism, and from naturalism follows atheism’s great skeleton which its followers try to keep hidden; determinism.

Determinism is inescapable if one is a naturalist, as all that exists is material and has come about by purely natural processes.

This means then, that the mind of man, our greatest treasure, is reducible to material bound by physical laws; namely, our thoughts, feelings, and actions are reducible to reactions of chemicals in the brain.

Few people realize, then, that this destroys all that makes us human. Namely; if our thoughts, feelings, and actions are simply chemical reactions in the brain, those reactions are simply the by-products of prior reactions forming an unbreakable chain which leads to the very beginning of the universe.

This means then, that whatever we do, we do because we have to. We cannot do anything other than what we do, it simply isn’t possible.

All actions are the result of prior actions in an unbreakable chain. We are no different than a cog in a watch or a falling domino.

… atheism is utterly horrific! Sadly, most atheists are unaware of these things! I believe if they truly understood the consequences of what they believed, they would reconsider their position.

There is no difference between the embrace of a loving husband and the violence of a vicious rapist, the actions of a doctor trying to save a life and the mass murderer who kills at whim, the actions of our greatest leaders and the inaction of a lazy sluggard.

Both are totally the same in atheism.

Objective meaning is non-existent, and subjective meaning is incoherent! Would we say the action of a robot picking up a glass bottle has any meaning, value, or significance? Of course not! It’s simply doing what it has to! It can do nothing else!

In what sense can an atheist say that he as a person truly exists? The material which composes our body is recycled every seven years, and our consciousness seems to cease every time we go to bed. So in what sense is the mass of matter that wakes up in the morning the same person as the one who went to bed the night before?

As you can see, atheism is utterly horrific! Sadly, most atheists are unaware of these things! I believe if they truly understood the consequences of what they believed, they would reconsider their position.

I know I did,

God bless.

Justin S., United States

Thursday, September 17, 2009

As fresh as the day he was brought into the light of God's gospel

To the very last days of his life, John Calvin remained deeply thankful for God's grace in converting him. Here is an excerpt from his last will and testament (1564):

"I have no other defense or refuge for salvation than His gratuitous adoption, on which alone my salvation depends. With my whole soul I embrace the mercy which He has exercised towards me through Jesus Christ, atoning for my sins with the merits of His death and passion, that in this way He might satisfy for all my crimes and faults, and blot them from His remembrance. I testify also and declare, that I suppliantly beg of Him, that He may be pleased so to wash and purify me in the blood which my Sovereign Redeemer has shed for the sins of the human race, that under His shadow I may be able to stand at the judgment-seat. I likewise declare, that, according to the measure of grace and goodness which the Lord hath employed towards me, I have endeavored, both in my sermons and also in my writings and commentaries, to preach His Word purely and chastely, and faithfully to interpret His sacred Scriptures."

Now here is a questions: To what extend did his incredible fruitfulness stem from his cultivating a deep thankfulness for salvation?

And another question: Could someone get converted simply by reading your last will and testament?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The stream and its source

Hudson spoke these wise words to his missionaries, and I could not help but apply them to fathers and mothers:

"Very few have been long in connection with missions without hearing a great deal of the faults and failures of the native Christians. Is it not the case that their faults and failures are very much the reflection of our own?

What the spiritual children will be depends on what the spiritual father is....The stream will never rise highter than its source, but it will not fall far short of it, circumstances permitting. The hardness of heart which is a hindrance to the Gospel is not that of the hearers; it is the hardness of this heart of mine."

I want that perspective to be mine. It should go a long way toward cultivating much needed patience and graciousness.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What's the use?

Thomas Brooks in The Secret Key of Heaven argues for private prayer being not only very powerful but an absolute necessity.

"Private prayer is a work of absolute necessity, both to the bringing of the heart into a good frame, and to the keeping of the heart in a good frame. It is of absolute necessity, both for the discovery of sin, and for the preventing of sin,... and for the weakening of sin, and for the purging away of sin. It is of absolute necessity, both for the discovery of grace and for a full exercise of grace, and for an eminent increase of grace. It is of absolute necessity to arm us, both against inward and outward temptation, afflictions, and sufferings. It is of absolute necessity to fit us for all other duties and services,"

For Hudson Taylor, it was at times of extreme weakness and intense prayer that God guided toward bold new strategies for the mission and provided for the needs.

If the Brooks quote depresses you, remember that God gives grace to pray. Ask for it. In faith. Expecting sweet returns.

Imitate Hudson Taylor

I am reading more of Hudson Taylor and am deeply stirred.

He came to see that the work of evangelizing inland China was God's work -- not his. And thus, however grim things looked humanly speaking -- low funds, criticism from other believers, government restrictions, threat of war, sickness -- he prayed intensely and moved forward, trusting God to provide for HIS work. God provided wonderfully, if sometimes just in the nick of time.

What does that look like for me? These children are yours, O Lord. I am yours. All is yours.
So this work, too, is yours, and difficulties cannot be the barometer for whether I should move forward.

Taylor learned to look past the waves to the master. I must too, by his grace.

Which difficulties are you allowing to distract you from seeing the long arm and goodness of God?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Seventy-nine grandchildren

While in Canada I had the privilege of attending a birthday party for one of my parents' good friends Mr. Andrew Viersen. His 79th grandchild was born just before he turned 79. Every time I go home I look forward to visiting with this family. They are godly, diligent, intelligent, and self-consciously Christian in all areas of their lives. It is marvelous to see the siblings support and help each other in the crises of life. One sibling was having a difficult pregnancy and needed bed rest, but with lots of siblings nearby it was easy to send three children to this sister's home, two to this sister, etc.

The birthday party was hosted by one of the daughters and her family. It was not possible to have the 50+ grandchildren that live locally there as it would have been too noisy. But the children of this daughter sweetly came around to serve us older folks -- coffee, Dutch pastries, chocolates, nuts, cheese, crackers, and salted herring (much loved among the Dutch). They then served soup and buns for lunch.

The next morning one of the sons was to host a pancake breakfast in honor of dad, and the previous day had been a busy one with both children and grandchildren present. Three days of feasting! I am so glad I observed this. It was a beautiful honoring of a true patriarch.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Let's go to Canada.....

We said it and then we did it.
It is an especially good idea if you have been losing sleep about overpopulation.
Just take Highway 16 that runs east-west across Saskatchewan. Lonely mile after lonely mile connects very small towns. Oh, there are a few small cites, but also a largely uninhabited northern section. You have to see it to get the feel of it.

Falling into place

Bethlehem Baptist Church has prepared a Sunday School curriculum called Rejoicing in God's Good Design on the Biblical roles of men and women. This is a wise, proactive approach in light of the attacks on truth within the church of Christ.

Required, is solid theology in order to have a proper framework for understanding the issues. For example, without an adequate sense of the seriousness of the fall, we will not diagnose the problem properly. And an improper diagnosis leads to improper treatment. Ask your doctor. When we understand that the brokeness in relationships between men and women is because of the fall, we will not blame men, per se, as the feminists did. Betty Friedan powerfully ushered in feminism with such pithy sarcastic statements as "Woman need men like a fish needs a bicycle." Rather, sin is the cause. And sin has deeply stained both men and women. The answer to the problem, then, is not women ditching and belittling men but both men and women allowing God's truth to expose their sin and then both crying out for forgiveness and grace to walk anew.

Then we can rejoice in God's good design rather than being embittered.

When you take the fall seriously a lot of other things fall into place.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The business of putting off and on

Jay Adams, one of my favorite Christian counsellors, does an excellent job of explaining the putting off and putting on passage of Paul. Adams says that the only way to put off is to put on. For example, if you have a habit of complaining, it will not do simply to resolve to stop doing so. Instead, to gain victory, you must cultivate a deep thankfulness. Similarly, Paul says in Eph.4:28: "Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need."
Now, what will putting off our culture's fear and distain of children look like? I have seen it in one of my friends who, in her 40s, had prayed fervently for another baby and, upon discovering that she was with child, began doing cartwheels. Sadly, they have since lost this little one. And I have seen it in another friend who, anticipating adding by adoption two more children to their family of eight, would weep as the adoption process stalled at times and the outcome was unclear. These prayers and tears and cartwheels give me hope. Aslan is on the move.

Lay down the name if.....

Brooks in The Privy Key to Heaven (now reprinted in paperback as The Secret Key to Heaven), gives one sweet inducement after another to get alone with God to pray. Then, without mincing words, he says "Either be frequent in closet duties, as becomes a Christian, or else lay down the name of a Christian; either unbosom yourselves in secret to Christ, as friends, favorites, children, spouses, or else lay down these names."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Love at first hearing....

One of our favorite musicians for children (and adults) is Jamie Soles. This is what his web site says about him:(

"Jamie Soles is a Christian singer/songwriter from Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada with several albums to his credit. He is married to Valerie, and they have only eight children.

Jamie is the chief musician at Christ Covenant Church Grande Prairie, Alberta, ... serves on the church council, and is under the authority of the church council.

Jamie’s music is difficult to categorize. His kid’s music, for which he is best known, is serious-minded fun, and loved by all ages for it’s ability to open up Bible stories and lists and make them accessible. His adult recordings are full of the Psalms and other Scriptures. His music styles range so widely that one may be most accurate to say that he is developing his own genre. Call it Bible Music.

If you love how the whole Bible testifies of Jesus, you will love Jamie Soles’ music."

I actually think this description is an understatement. I love his music style, and love how he brings abscure Old Testament stories to life. He is theologically deep and not afraid to touch on hard subjects such as the judgement of God. For example here are the lyrics to one of many excellent songs from the CD The Way My Story Goes:

Korah Dathan and Abiram

Our there in the wilderness
Korah, Dathan and Abiram
Never name your children this
if you want people to admire 'em
They were the rebellious kind
Who knew what to do but they would not mind
They saw what the Lord had done for Aaron
Preistly garments he was wearin'
And they desired 'em
Korah, Dathan and Abiram

The Lord took a very dim view of this
And he told His people 'Don't go near them
Move your tents away from theirs
If you don't want what's coming to them'
The Lord told the ground to open wide
And close up again when they're all inside
Because these men would not obey
The way the ground did on that day
The Lord expired'em (gulp!)
Koran, Dathan and Abiram

Further, if you want your children to learn the names of the patriarchs (effortlessly) see here:

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ready for a long delay

If you love books, have a look at these beautiful ones.
D.A. Carson has an excellent set of sermons on the second coming of Christ, and says we must be ready both for the imminent return of Christ, and for a long delay. If we believe that, we won't feel bad about taking great care to make a beautiful book that our childrens' children will treasure.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The sixteenth reason...

Thomas Brooks in The Privy Key to Heaven gives 20 arguments for private prayer. Every paragraph is a banquet. The one I read today, the 16th, is particularly appropriate for our time: "Consider, the times wherein we live call aloud for secret prayer." Of his day Brooks says, "Ah, England, England! what pride, luxury, lasciviousness, licentiousness, wantonness, drunkenness, cruelties, injustice, oppressions, fornications, adulteries, falsehoods, hypocrisy, bribery, atheism, horrid blasphemies and hellish impieties are now to be found rampant in the midst of thee!" This was the same in Jeremiah's day. What did Jeremiah do? "But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places." And so Brooks calls "every Christian to his closet, and there weep, with weeping Jeremiah, bitterly, for all these great abominations whereby God is dishonoured openly....Oh blush in secret for them that are past all blushing for their sins; for who knows but that the whole land may fare the better for the sakes of a few that are mourners in secret? But however it goes with the nation, such as mourn in secret for the abominatrions of the times, may be confident that when sweeping judgments shall come upon the land, the Lord will hide them in the secret chambers of his providence."
Give me tears, Lord, first for my own sins, then for the sins of my family, church and nation. Send revival.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

No more head scratching...

Adolf Eichman was the Holocaust architect. Have you ever wondered how someone could do something so barbaric? He rounded up entire Jewish communites and shipped them like cattle to concentration camps. He knew exactly what he was doing. When he was finally tracked down 15 years after the war had ended, he said his only regret was that he had not been able to do a more thorough job.
For an exciting account of the search for him, read Hunting Eichman by Neal Bascomb. But Bascomb does not explore the roots of Eichman's thinking. For that you need to go to Creation Ministries and read their article "The Trial and Death of Adolf Eichman." Evolutionary thinking had permeated German society. Rejecting God as creator, they also rejected him as law-giver. The necessary consequence of this is that man's law is understood to be the highest one. There is no longer a higher law by which all of men's laws must be weighed. Eichman said he was only obeying orders. Man's orders. And because he was dead to the consciousness of his having broken God's law, he did not see his need for God's grace.
We should not scratch our heads if, throwing out God's good and perfect law, fallen man turns to barbarism. It is inevitable. Dispensing with God's law is like dispensing with the heavy glass cage that keeps your boa constrictor from slithering around your apartment.

Refreshing Brooks

Thomas Brooks is like a mountain stream on a steep hike in hot weather. In The Privy Key to Heaven he quotes Bernard "O saint, knowest thou not...that they husband Christ is bashful, and will not be familiar in company?" In other words, it is in private prayer that God will meet us most sweetly and intimately. Let us not be so easily content that we forgo God's choicest gifts.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"...did you really believe this..."

In the morning I like to read a few paragraphs of Thomas Brooks' excellent book The Privy Key of Heaven. It is on prayer, and excellent. I can't resist giving a few quotes from what I read today: "God, in the great day, will recompense his people before all the world, for every secret prayer, and secret tear, and secret sigh, and secret groan that that hath come from his people." Brooks then goes on to say that "did you really believe this" you would:
1 Walk more thankfully.
2 Work more cheerfully.
3 Suffer more patiently.
4 Fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil, more courageously.
5 Lay out yourselves for God, his interest and glory, more freely.
6 Life with what providence hath cut out for your portion, more quietly and contentedly. And,
7 You would be in private prayer more frequently, more abundantly.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Getting to Yes

Somewhere along the line I picked up this helpful book called Getting to Yes. Although it is a secular book, I came across a fascinating part where the authors, Ury and Fisher, state that in order to negotiate fairly, one must have an objective standard or law. Guess what? The psalmist says "Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord." And he says "Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true." While Ury and Fisher do not acknowledge God, they must borrow from the Christian worldview in order to do any proper, effective negotiating. Lord, help me not to be ashamed of your law, but, like the psalmist, to make it my delight.

I Never Forget a Face

One of my all-time favorite games for children is I Never Forget a Face. Excellent quality, this matching game is, obviously, beautifully illustrated. There are 24 different ethnic groups.

My youngest girls have played with these for hours. They love to take a boy and girl and pretend they are a husband and wife, and then choose numerous other ones as natural and adopted children. This game is a wonderful way to make children aware that God has created many peoples in his image, and open their eyes to the marvelous diversity in God's creation. I believe God could use this game to turn the hearts of our children to love the nations for Jesus' sake. I found it for a good price at:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Family Planning

Recently I saw the documentary Demographic Winter .Amazingly, some secular humanists who understand the negative effects of the "decline of the human family" are deeply worried. Many countries are seeing a decrease in population; in fact, they are dying countries and are beginning to feel it economically.
In the light of the above, I was thankful to find a note lying around the house lately written by one of our younger daughters. At play, she was imagining a family called The Johnston's Family. Under this title is the following:

John 35
Jeanette 33
Jack, Johnathin and Jude 13
Jesse and Josiah 11
Jorden 10
Joseph and Joshua 9
James 8
Jake 5
Jeremiah 8 months
More to come!!!

I was thankful to find this because so far they have not bought into the socially mandated 1.7 children per family as normal. Instead their play is reflecting the Biblical view of children being a blessing.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

College Plus video

I read an excellent entry about College Plus on Voddie Baucham's blog:
Two of our children have used College Plus and it is a great blessing. Joseph, 20, is weeks away from getting a BA in Business. Hannah, 18, is nearly 3/4 of the way through a BA in Communications. I say this as a recommendation for the program. Check out more of Voddie's blog while you're at it. He is a blessing too.

How to enjoy your wealth

Don't we all want to enjoy our wealth? Bill Gates gives some great advice in this article. Larry Burkett, wise Christian financial counselor, further advises that if you leave an inheritance to your children it not be large. And another Christian advised a father with an atheistic son-in-law to leave no inheritance. Money says so much about us. Grant us faithfulness, O Lord.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Godiva pushes out Palmer

As a little girl, I was very undiscriminating about chocolate. Chocolate was chocolate and I loved it all. When I grew older, I tasted Godiva --smooth and rich -- and I began to associate Palmer with wax and sugar. Now I will pass up a poorer chocolate because I have tasted the best. I share this not to encourage you to a fastidiousness about food. Proverbs 23:3 warns about dining with a ruler: "Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food." Rather I share it to say that I have done what the Psalmist calls all to do: "Taste and see that the Lord is good." I have tasted the Lord. He is good. I want to keep tasting so that my appetite for idols will be killed. Why shall I settle for less? At stake is not merely the satisfaction of a craving, but my very real need to have my sins forgiven so that I may stand before a holy God. The alternative is not only inferior joy, it is the loss of sweet fellowship with the One we were made for.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ah, Jeremiah, you are right.

Most Americans think they are good. If you are among the most, you need to google for the Westminster Larger Catechism and read questions 101 to 148. These questions deal with the ten commandments and what is commanded and forbidden in each one. For example, some violations of the seventh commandment are immodesty and the undue delay of marriage. Obedience to the fifth commandment calls parents to, among other things, commend and reward good behavior. Obedience to the ninth commandment requires the free acknowledgment of others' gifts and graces. This was what we talked about in our Sunday School small group as we discussed Ps.34:13; "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit." There are many ways to bear false witness. See the guests at Simon's house when a woman broke a flash of costly nard and poured it over the head of Jesus. Some present refused to commend the grace of this woman who rightly discerned and demonstrated the worth of Jesus. That which was good, they called evil. And they cloaked their love of money in a seeming concern for thrift and good stewardship. In contrast, Jesus models a perfect obedience to the commandment: He tells the men to leave her alone because she has done a beautiful thing. He acknowledges her graces. O Lord, I know so little of my own heart. May your commandments unsettle my self-righteousness. I am undone except for the blood of Christ. The prophet Jeremiah said that the heart of man is deceitful beyond imagination. Ah, Jeremiah, you are right.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Creeping Charlie and Sin.

When we moved to Apple Valley, our neighbor Eric told us that we had some Creeping Charlie edging into our yard from another yard. "Put some vinegar on it," he said, " or it will be all over your yard." Well, there was school to do, jeans to wash, floors to mop, visits to make, hair to braid and granola to bake. And the Creeping Charlie crept quietly into the yard, inch by inch. This spring a fine network of roots supported lush, generous, stubborn patches of the weed. It has taken over half of the garden, and I despair of planting anything.
So is the potency and subtly of sin. We excuse little sins, not realizing they are the nose of the camel in the door of the tent. All sin is vile and against our good. The Banner of Truth Trust has published a pocket booklet called Impure Lust by John Flavel (a puritan). One of the directions Flavel gives for staying out of the pit of impure lust is to eat moderately. What? Yes. "Fullness of bread and idleness were the sins of Sodom that occasioned such an exuberancy of lust. 'They are like fed horses, every one neighing after his neighbour's wife. When I fed them to the full, then they committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses.' (Jer.5:7-8)
Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that some sin is of no consequence. I thought that of a few shoots of Creeping Charlie. And I often think that of overeating. May God give us repentance and grace to choose to suffer rather than sin.

Look to your own Interests.

All of us have our imbalances. If one of yours is a tendency to tend to other's interests to the neglect of your own, you will appreciate Robert E. Lee's advice:

"You must be aware of one thing, that those you deal with will consider their advantage and not yours. So, while being fair and just, you must not neglect your interests."

"It is the part of benevolence to aid all we can and sympathize with all who are in need; it is the part of wisdom to attend to our own affairs."

This agrees with Paul who says "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Paul assumes we will look to our own interests.
Just be careful to keep the balance.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Overheard in 1994

Joseph: "Sometime I'll have a lose tooth. Maybe when I'm six."
Hannah: "What if it falls out?"
Joseph: "Then I'll let you hold it."

A Red Sea Place

A Red Sea Place

Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life,
Where in spite of all you can do,
There is no way out, there is no way back,
There is no other way but through?
Then wait on the Lord with a trust serene
Till the night of your fear is gone;
He will send the wind, He will heap the floods,
When He says to your soul "Go on."

And His hand will lead you through - clear through -
Ere the watery walls roll down,
No foe can reach you, no wave can touch,
No mightiest sea can drown;
The tossing billows may rear their crests,
Their foam at your feet may break,
But over their bed you shall walk dryshod
In the path that your Lord will make.

In the morning watch, ‘neath the lifted cloud,
You shall see but the Lord alone,
When He leads you on from the place of the sea,
To a land that you have not known;
And your fears shall pass as your foes have passed,
You shall no more be afraid;
You shall sing His praise in a better place,
A place that His hand has made.

Annie Johnson Flint

I am so glad to find this poem on line. It is an old favorite that I lost. Pictures are helpful. This picture has been a sweet comfort to me more than once.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lee Gems

Some more gems from Robert E. Lee:

"Take a happier view of things and do not be dissatisfied because they do not accord more nearly with your views and wishes."

"What I want to learn is to apply what I already know. We rarely know what is good for us and rarely see things as they really exist, so clouded is our vision by narrow selfishness, and often complain of what we ought not and blame others when the fault is in ourselves."

"Our hardest lesson is self knowledge, and it is one perhaps that is never accomplished."

There, turn those over in the light and see them sparkle.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Swamp Fox Ventures

A bit ago I read a Landmark book called Swamp Fox of the Revolution. It is about General Francis Marion and his brigade of men who camped in a nearly inaccessible swampy area in South Carolina. From this hideout they would spring to make their assaults. Here is what I wrote after reading it:
"Tremendously encouraging in this way: His assaults were not always totally successrful, but they always were to some effect. They may not have taken a fort but they intimidated the English by the attempt, or caused the English to relocate troops to America's advantage. So in the Christian battle. We may not be totally successful in our attempts but we should not believe the devil who would convince us that our efforts had no effect."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Theology of Suffering -- Calvin and Lee

It is no coincidence that both John Calvin and Robert E. Lee, who each suffered incredible, sustained physical and mental trials in their lives, and remained faithful, had a theology of suffering.
Calvin says "When God, therefore, wishes to lead us to repentance, he may be compelled to continually repeat his blows, either because we are not moved when he chastises us with his hand, or we seem roused for a time, then return again to our former dullness. He is therefore compelled to redouble his blows."
Lee says, "We must expect reverses, even defeats. They are sent to teach us wisdom and prudence, to call forth greater energies and to prevent our falling into greater disasters."
May our sovereign God grant his church today this theology of suffering so she may stand in the battle.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Faith to Go to China on.

One of my favorite quotes is from Hudson Taylor: "Every difficulty is merely a platform for the manifestation of his grace, power and love."
Ruth A. Tucker says that "No other missionary in the nineteen centuries since the apostle Paul has has had a wider vision and has carried out a more systematized plan of evangelizing a broad geographical area than Hudson Taylor." No one can do the work of Hudson Taylor without the faith of Hudson Taylor. And, need I say, the infinitely majestic, powerful God of Taylor. WORLD magazine just interviewed a fourth generation descendent of Taylor. He is following the Lord. Oh, God, give us faith to see you and then labor to bear fruit in the nations around and in our children and children's children.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Don't wish for no afflictions

Don't, I repeat, wish for no afflictions. Jeremiah Burroughs in his book The Evil of Evils says "lack of afflictions comes from God's wrath." When God says in Hosea 4:14 "I will not punish their daughters when they commit adultery," he is turning Israel out of the house.
Missionary martyr Betty Stam died violently in China. During the Boxer Rebellion there was a great deal of hostility toward foreigners, and though she and her husand knew soldiers were coming, they were not able to escape. Here is a poem she wrote that profoundly expresses that God is in the afflictions of the believer:

I'm Standing

I'm standing, Lord;
there is a mist that blinds my sight.
Steep jagged rocks, front, left and right,
Lower, dim, gigantic, in the night.
Where is the way?

I'm standing, Lord;
The black rock hems me in behind.
Above my head a moaning wind
Chills and oppresses heart and mind.
I am afraid.

He answered me, and on His face
A look ineffable of grace.
Of perfect, understanding love,
Which all my murmuring did remove.

I'm standing, Lord;
Since Thou hast spoken, Lord, I see
Thou hast beset - these rocks are Thee!
And, since Thy love encloses me,
I stand and sing.

Another Gem from Robert E. Lee

"Neither violence nor harshness should ever be used in child rearing, and the parent must bear constantly in mind, that to govern his child, he must show him that he can control himself."

A Personal Note

This morning I gave my blog to God. When I was born again in 1981 I gave my dream of writing to God. "I don't want to write unless it for your glory," I told my King. Seeing his majesty had transformed me. So, my blog belongs to God. If I can pass on some of the truths that encourage me, and they encourage you, and God is glorified, I will be happy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tongue Weapons

One of the most powerful weapons of Satan is the tongues of his followers. Psalm 52 says to the evil man: "Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you workers of deceit. You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right."
In the May 9, 09 issue of WORLD magazine, Marvin Olasky gives "four deadly questions" to counter the ranter of evil:

1. What do you mean by that?
2. Where do you get your information?
3. How do you know you're right?
4. What happens if you are wrong?

I want to tuck these in my pocket for further use.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wisdom of Robert D. Lee

"I know how prone we are to censure and how ready to blame others for the non-fulfillment of our expectations. This is unbecoming in a generous people, and I grieve to see its expression."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

On the Edge of Canaan

Sometimes when I see more and more people spitting at God and His Holy law in our land, I am greatly tempted to fear. I feel like Israel on the border of Canaan. The giants are so big and the city walls so solid. But God sweetly met me this week with Deuteronomy 1:29-31: "Do not be in dread or afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place."
Two days after reading the above quote I went back to that passage. That's when I discovered that God had said these words BEFORE Israel was sent to take the land. Guess what? After hearing these words, Israel DID NOT GO UP to take the land. And then God calls them rebels and murmurers and unbelievers. They actually accuse God of hating them and plotting their demise at the hand of the Amorites!
Grant me, O Lord, the courage of Joshua and Caleb to take the land. I repent of hard thoughts of you. Keep me from deceiving myself into believing that I can be AWOL and a soldier of the cross at the same time.

Toward Revival

Evan Roberts, Welsh miner turned preacher, prayed 11 years for revival. It came with fire. He gives four short pieces of counsel that are a constant challenge to me:
1. Confess any known sin.
2. Put away any doubtful habit.
3. Obey the Spirit promptly.
4. Confess Christ publicly.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I, Myself and Me

I had a wonderful friend in Canada who has since died. She had lived through tough pioneering days in my village, and was a fine, generous Christian. One day she quoted this poem about selfishness:

I, Myself and Me

I, myself and me
Had a little tea party
In the afternoon at three.
T'was very small
Three friends in all,
I, myself and me.

Myself ate all the sandwiches
And I drank all the tea.
T'was also I
That ate the pie
And passed the cake to me.

Isn't that a wonderful little poem to use to teach our children about selfishness?

My friend also told me that when she was younger, her sister and her had gotten the rare treat of an apple to share. When they each got their half they began to quarrel about whether the halves were cut fairly. Their wise father looked at the apple halves.
"Yes," he said "this one looks bigger," and proceeded to take a large bite. He then looked at the second half and said "Now this one is bigger," and took a large bite from that one. In a professed attempt to even out the size of the halves, their father took another bite from the first and then the second, and third and fourth bites from each until the apple was gone. After that, do you think Reika and Minnie ever complained about their half of the apple being smaller?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thinking "Gross about God"

I wanted to take up John Piper's challenge to read through John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion in one year (one of the most significant books ever, an explanation of Protestant theology addressed to the King of France, Francis I, written when Protestants were being killed by the thousands), but it felt a little ambitious.
Instead I have a book called 365 Days with Calvin. Calvin was an incredibly clear thinker and communicator, deeply and passionately committed to God's Word, and a lover of the church. Here is a short excerpt from yesterday's reading to whet your appetite: "'To lift up prayer,' therefore, is to pray in such a manner that our hearts do not grovel on the earth or think anything earthly or gross about God but rather ascribe to him what is suitable to his majesty."
Consider the Greeks with their wicked gods. One can live quite comfortably with that kind. But in Psalm 50 God rebukes the wicked who "thought that I was one like yourself." If you find yourself defaulting to an earthly view of God, you may want to be especially careful to begin prayer with some acknowledgment of God as the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, majestic, holy, and Almighty. It fits the model for prayer that Jesus gave.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Haiku for Grant

Mark and Tami Pehrson made a strong pro-life statement when they held a funeral for their baby Grant who died in the womb. It was touching to see the small coffin. After, I wrote this poem:


See, one pall bearer
The knitting is unfinished
in divine wisdom

If you love haiku poetry, Canon Press sells a book called breathmarks by Gary Hotham. Lovely.
Here is one of the ones I love:

music two centuries old ---
the color flows
out of the tea bag

Monday, April 13, 2009

An emerald in Job

Eight years ago the Bahia Emerald, worth $400 million, was found in Brazil.
Last week I found an emerald in Job 5:8,9: "As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number."
No price can be put on that gem.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Scraping the mud off the Puritans

Recently I ordered Leland Ryken's Worldly Saints via interlibrary loan from the public library. The adjectives in the introduction by J.I. Packer alone are worth the price of the book. (I have since ordered it.) Splattered as "wild men, fierce and freaky, religious fanatics and social extremists", "superserious, overscrupulous, majoring in minors, and unable or unwilling to relax", the Puritans have not been honored as they should be. In fact, Packer maintains that we desparately need the Puritans today. Calling them "sober, conscientious, and cultured citizens, persons of principle, determined and disciplined, excelling in domestic virtues," Packer says we could learn from their maturity. He goes on with specifics which I suggest you discover by reading the book. Or read the Puritans themselves. Dr. Joel Beeke has a fabulous book called Meet the Puritans which gives excerpts and an overview. Go feast.

Puritan gold nuggets

If you would like a Puritan gold nugget every day, sign up for Kelly Ling's Christian quote for the day at Most of the quotes are from Puritans or men who were as thoughtful and biblical.

Monday, March 30, 2009

No excusing, denying, redefining or blameshifting

Lady Jane Grey was a Psalm 51 sort of confessor of her sin.
King Henry VIII's son Edward, upon his early death, ordered that reformed sympathizer and royal cousin, Lady Jane Grey, succeed him on the throne. But Edward's sister Mary was next in line to the throne, and she raised an army and took London six days after Lady Jane was crowned. Mary made herself queen and declared England to be Roman Catholic. Then she tried Lady Jane for treason.
Lady Jane was a godly woman. The following are some of her last words before being beheaded: After declaring her only hope of salvation to be in the mercy of God and the blood of Jesus Christ, she said,"I confess that when I did know the word of God I neglected the same, loved myself and the world; and therefore this plague and punishment is happily and worthily happened unto me for my sins; and yet I thank God of his goodness that he hath thus given me a time and respite to repent."
How strange such words fall on my twenty-first-century ears. I am so in the habit of excusing, denying and redefining my sin. Lord, make me more like King David in Psalm 51 and Lady Jane Grey at the scaffold.

Love that Spurgeon

The newsletter "Proclaiming the Gospel" ( includes this pithy quote from C.H. Spurgeon: "Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sparrow's Rest

My daughter Ruth has inspired and helped me to start blogging.
When we lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we called our house on Wallinwood "Sparrow's Rest" because we knew that God had given us the house and he would care for us there. That promise of God in Psalm 84 has given me the courage to come out of safe academia, get married, have children, stop believing I am a victim, and love singing God's praises. His care sparks my courage.