Saturday, December 26, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
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,
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
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.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
"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.
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
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
"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
Friday, August 7, 2009
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
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.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
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
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: http://www.psychobabyonline.com/site/scpics/tmb/613/i-never-forget-a-face-match.jpg
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
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:
Jack, Johnathin and Jude 13
Jesse and Josiah 11
Joseph and Joshua 9
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
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.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
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
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
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.
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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, 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.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
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
Thursday, April 23, 2009
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.
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, 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
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
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
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
Monday, March 30, 2009
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.
Friday, March 27, 2009
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.