Thursday, December 16, 2010

This Quote from Doug Wilson's blog on competition and leadership.

"Put bluntly, a woman can exercise her gifts fully without seeking to compete with men. The feminist error assumes that women can only lead if they do what men do" (Beyond Stateliest Marble, p. 86).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Job 33:6

"Behold, I am toward God as you are;
I too was pinched off from a piece of clay."

How is that for a verse to memorize to keep things in perspective?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"From the delectable orchard of the Leonine prison."

Before we go through deep waters we may have many fears, says John Flavel.  How sweet, then to hear the testimony of those who have gone through very deep waters and have found them much shallower than they feared.
Flavel tells of Pomponius Algerius who, while in the stinking prison of Lyons in France, wrote, "I shall utter that which scarce any will believe, I have found a nest of honey in the entrails of a lion, a paradise of pleasure in a deep dark dungeon, in a place of sorrow and death, tranquillity of hope and life."  Each letter he wrote, he signed "From the delectable orchard of the Leonine prison."
Thank you Lord, for this testimony.    Forgive my carnal fear.  Give me courage.

Expectations reveal our hearts.

J.I.Packer says that the Puritans allowed the Word of God to rip their consciences --  and we should do so more than we do.

Recently I read a verse in Zephaniah that ripped my conscience.
God says, "At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, 'The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.'"

It is a sin not to take God's wrath against sin seriously.   But it is also sin not to expect GOOD from God when we are seeking him with all of our heart.   Too often I have hard thoughts of God --speaking in my heart what the servant in the parable said after burying his talent: "I knew you were a hard master..."  

Lord, help me to take every thought captive to your Word so that I may live in expectation of your grace and favor.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Great Thoughts from Bonhoeffer's mother

In a new book on Bonhoeffer Ferdinand Schlingensiepen says of Paula, Bonhoeffer's mother, :
"...the mother spent a great deal of time with her eight children.  She was a trained teacher and gave the older five children their first schooling herself, along with some of the neighbour' children.  In her view, if at all possible,one should not turn one's children over to strangers during their early years, which are so important for the development of imagination and character."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Revenge of the Cradle

Well doth David call children "arrows"; for if they be well bred, they shoot at their parents' enemies; and if they be evil bred, they shoot at their parents.

Henry Smith

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"What is Meditation?"

J.I.Packer says, "Well may we ask: for meditation is a lost art today, and Christan people suffer grievously from their  ignorance of the practice. Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of  God, as a means of communion with God. Its purpose is to clear one's mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let His truth make its full and proper impact on one's mind and heart. It is a matter of talking to oneself about God and oneself; it is, indeed, often a matter of arguing with oneself, reasoning oneself out of moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God's power and grace. Its effect is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God's greatness and glory, and our own littleness and sinfulness, and to encourage and reassure us-'comfort' us, in the old, strong, Bible sense of the word-as we contemplate the unsearchable riches of divine mercy displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Practically speaking, what would that plowing look like? Do we do it?

Today my friend Sylvia sent me this great quote:
"We are told men ought not to preach without preparation.  Granted.  But we add, men ought not to hear without preparation.  Which, do you think, needs the most preparation, the sower or the ground?  I would have the sower come with clean hands, but I would have the ground well-plowed and harrowed, well-turned over, and the clods broken before the seed comes in.  It seems to me that there is more preparation needed by the ground than by the sower, more by the hearer than by the preacher."
                                                                                    ~ C. H. Spurgeon

If you want to know what preparing to listen looks like,  Sylvia recommends Expository Listening: Handbook for Hearing and Doing God's Word.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dying for what?

I cannot read the blasphemies of Christopher Hitchens without cringing.  Suffice it to say that one of his books is called God is not Great.

Now he is dying of cancer, and he recently said that he wishes he were dying for something bigger than himself, his own survival.

Contrast this to what Puritan John Flavel in his treatise on fear writes about the honor of dying for Christ: "By a natural death we only submit ourselves to the unavoidable consequences of sin, but in dying a violent death for Christ, we give our testimony against the evil of sin, and for the precious truths of Jesus Christ."

Concerning dying,  the question is not so much when or how as for what?  I am deeply grateful to be a Christian with the privilege of living --and dying -- for Christ.  Reading Flavel has made me fear death less.  And I am grateful for that too.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Prayer is "Arduous."

David M. M'Intyre says in his explosive little book The Hidden Life of Prayer:  " in one aspect glory and blessedness; in another, it is toil and travail, battle and agony."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cautionary Celebration

About the election, Doug Wilson says " the main thing we need to remember in all this -- and we need to remind ourselves of this every day -- is that the Republicans, who now have a strong hand in the House, are still, well, Republicans. We, in order to advance a biblical agenda, now have to work with the Republicans, who still have those black little hearts."
Our trust must be in the Lord.   Men will disappoint us.    
For the entire blog post go to

Friday, October 29, 2010

Elections and John Flavel, the Puritan

If the temptation to fear comes around before elections, as it does with me, chew on this quote from Flavel:
"To trust God in part, and the creature in part, is to set one foot upon a rock, and the other upon a quicksand."

Let us work and pray, and then sweetly resign ourselves to the perfect will of God.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"We can be good without God" says the Atheist.

To prove that we can be good without God, Dawkins started a charity. He gave responsibility for it to a fine young atheist.   But perhaps the bud was more promising than the blossom:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"He finally realized that he was going to die."

This week my husband read to us from Gary North's Backward,Christian Soldiers?

Here are some excerpts from a section called "Optimistic Future Corpses."  I should maybe clarify that I do not consider postmillennialism to be the only acceptable view of end times. And I do not consider that only postmillennialists see things in the following way.... But I do consider the view a great encouragement to this kind of patience, wisdom and perseverence.  Yes, we must ALWAYS be ready to die at any moment, but at the same time we do not want to be like the five foolish virgins who were unprepared for a long wait.  We must not fail to invest our minas with hope and thoughtfulness.   May God give us grace.

  "David Chilton...once remarked that the day he accepted postmillennialism, he finally realized that he was going to die.  He said that this awareness was unique. Nobody had even told him this before.  He and his premillennial peers had always believed that they were going to be raptured.  He said that this new perspective on his own personal future changed the way he thought about his life's work.   Indeed, it had to.  One's time perspective is crucial to one's view of work and work's legacy.  The problem today with postmillennialism, perhaps more than anything else, is that it is a philosophy of personal, physical death.  That sort of philosophy really has a limited Christian market in our era.  Marxists have a secularized version of this faith, which is why they are such potent ideological opponents.   Most Christians have no such outlook.   They prefer not to think about death.   They prefer to think about the rapture.

"Death is the backdrop of all endeavors by postmillennialist.  The death of the sin-cursed body is the starting point. Then the question has to be asked: How should we then live?  What kinds of institutions should we build? What kind of education should we impart to our children?  How much capital should we invest in long-term projects?  What kinds of books should we read or write?  How, in short should we fight?  What can anyone leave behind that his own death will not swallow up?

"Because postmillennialists know that they cannot assume continually that they have five good years left, and that they should assume that their organizations are not going to be left behind in a world without the presence of other Christian workers, they have to think about the future.  Because they know they will die, they can be optimistic about the future.  They know that other Christians will persevere.  They know that Christian institutions will survive to serve as salt for the world civilization. Because they will die, they think to themselves, they can build for the earthly future of others who will also die.  Because their view of their own efforts is necessarily short run--one lifetime, at most-- their view of the long-term effects of their efforts in implicitly long run."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Mother's Tears kept in a bottle....

Rev. Leonard Katundu, called to minister to the Malawian Presbyterian Church in Africa, tells this moving account of his grandmother, Orpah.    Orpah was converted by Christian missionaries, and began to offer up fervent prayers and tears to God for the conversion of her children and grandchildren.   All of her sons became preachers of the gospel.  Her daughter, Nyembezi, also believed and taught her children the ways of the Lord. Leonard is one of Nyembezi's sons.  He has received training at the excellent Puritan Reformed Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is looking forward to shepherding the sheep there in Malawi.

The tears of his grandmother are still remembered by God.  May God bring continued blessing because of them.

Friday, October 8, 2010

What shall I write in her birthday card?

When opportunities to send cards come up, I love to grab our book Gathered Gold by John Blanchard.  This is a marvelous collection of quotes including numerous gems from the Puritans.  Blanchard says he got a "trawling eye" after his conversion and began to gather quotes as he read.  Today our oldest daughter turned 20, and I wrote this anonymous quote in her card: "If you wish to be disappointed, look to others; if you wish to be disheartened, look to yourself; if you wish to be encouraged, look to Jesus."

Another good quote is about evolution by G.K.Chesterton: "The evolutionist seem to know everything about the missing link except the fact that it is missing."

When the hand that rocks the cradle also prays....

One morning we read Isaiah 65 in family worship -- about God waiting to be gracious to those who cry out to him.  He waits, ready to bless with living water, bread, rejoicing, singing and gladness for the hungry, thirsty and weary.

I had been reading a small book of sermons by Brownlow North called The Rich Man and Lazarus
to the children.  Preached in Northern Ireland in 1859, these sermons were instrumental in starting a spiritual awakening:  "church-goers who had sat thoughtlessly for years listening to sermons, suddenly awoke to the realities of an eternal world; ministers began to preach with a new authority; factory workers carried Bibles to their benches..."  If you are curious about these sermons that God was pleased to use for revival, let me share a quote.  Asserting that the sin of the rich man was his being content without God, Mr. North goes on to address the congregation:  "I pray God that...every unconverted man ...on earth, may feel his want and need, as the Rich man feels his in hell; I pray to God that the sorrows of death my even now compass him, that the pains of hell may immediately get hold upon him."

What fodder for prayer as you rock the cradle, teach to sew, read aloud, and hear times tables.

"Lord, for my children and theirs and theirs, may they see you as waiting to be gracious to those who cry out to you.  If not, may the terrors of hell be upon them so they hear and come and cry, dreading the hunger, thirst, shame, wailing and sword that will be theirs otherwise.  Amen"

The great service of book reviewers.

A friend, Sylvia, from Canada sent me this review from Wes Bredenhof on the book Dig Deeper: Tools for Understand God's Word. I had told my friend about the book Understand and she said this is a great companion volume.  She has introduced me to many wonderful books.   I am waiting for this one to come in the mail.

Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God’s Word, Nigel Beynon & Andrew Sach, Wheaton: Crossway, 2010.  Soft cover, 158 pages, $16.50.
Just as happens today, the presiding minister in a Reformed worship service in sixteenth-century Geneva would pray for God’s blessing over the reading and preaching of the Word.  Some of John Calvin’s prayers for illumination have been preserved.  One of them begins like this:  “Almighty and gracious Father, since our whole salvation stands in our knowledge of your Holy Word, strengthen us now by your Holy Spirit…”  Calvin was right:  our entire salvation depends on the Word of God.  It is critically important for us to be familiar with that Word and to know how to work with it and understand it.  This book is intended to help us to that end.
Both authors are experienced in the study of Scripture.  Nigel Beynon is a Christian conference organizer and Andrew Sach is a pastor of a large conservative Anglican church in England.  This book was originally published in the UK in 2005 as a result of their efforts at helping university and college students to better understand the Bible.  Crossway has now republished it for a North American audience.
Overall, I am impressed with this little volume.  I’ve long been looking for a simple, short, and faithful summary of biblical principles for interpreting the Bible.  I’m pleased to say that I’ve found it with Dig Deeper.   Through seventeen chapters, the authors unfold a comprehensive set of tools that will allow those who do not have a formal theological training to get a good handle on what the Bible says and how it should be applied to their lives.  As an example, chapter 15 deals with “The Bible Time Line Tool.”  Whenever looking at a Bible passage, the authors encourage us to ask three questions:
1.      Where is this passage on the Bible time line?
2.      Where am I on the Bible time line?
3.      How do I read this in light of things that have happened in between?
Some readers will no doubt recognize this as a way of approaching the Bible from the view point of redemptive history.  This is the approach found, for instance, with S. G. De Graaf in his still very useful Promise and Deliverance.
I have only a small number of reservations.  I wish, for instance, that more emphasis had been placed on the fact that all of Scripture points us to Christ.  The authors do mention this, but it comes rather late in the book, almost as an afterthought.  This should be central.  Would I have written this book, I might also have included a paragraph or two distinguishing between the indicative (what God has done) and the imperative (what we are called to do).  I also disagree with some of the interpretations of various passages and biblical concepts.  For instance, chapter 7 tells us that we do not have to go to a special building or place to worship God.  “There are no holy places anymore, only a holy person” (66).  However, doesn’t 1 Corinthians 3:16 say that the church is “the temple of God”?  When the church is gathered in worship, is that not a holy place where God is present to bless his people with Word and sacrament?  These sentiments betray an unfortunate acceptance of a minimalist ecclesiology by the authors.
Yet generally this is a well-written book.  It has excellent illustrations and practical examples.  They emphasize the importance of prayer for Bible study.  Most importantly, the authors have the highest possible respect for the authority of Scripture and that respect is not mere lip-service.  That’s something that can’t be taken for granted.  So, who might benefit from Dig Deeper?  High school Bible teachers would be the first ones to come to mind.  It could be used as a textbook for high school Bible classes.  However, certainly anyone who wants to enrich their knowledge of God’s Word would be well-served by reading this little book carefully.

"Inordinate Love"

"There is no golden mean between these two extremes; either this earthly life must become low in our estimation, or it will have our inordinate love."
Here John Calvin is not calling us to despise this present life, but rather to not to be "carried away by its glamour" and forget God.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Conversation with my daughter...

Esther is reading Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson -- a book full of one surprising turn of events after another.  She said that she feels used when the author ends the chapter with great mystery and danger.
I asked her if she feels used when she is on a roller coaster?  Lots of fun.  I guess some of us like smaller, gentler roller coasters.

By the way,  Dandelion Fire, is the second book in a trilogy for children that my children discovered this summer.  It was definitely one of our summer highlights.  The first book is called 100 Cupboards and the last one is called Chestnut King.   You can get them out of the public library.

Monday, September 13, 2010

"God save us from the American Dream"....

So read some buttons I saw recently.   I like them.

I fear the ardent pursuit and expectation of luxury and ease.  I fear it because it will make me soft on the day that trouble comes.

Rather, I want to be like Basil, early church father.  The Roman emperor Valens was tempting him to compromise by offers of preferment.  Basil said "Offer these things to children."  Seeing that the promise of good things could not tempt Basil, Valens began to threaten terrible sufferings.  To this Basil said, " Threaten these things to your purple gallants, that give themselves to pleasure, and are afraid to die."

This story comes from John Flavel's "A Practical Treatise of Fear."

Excuse Me for Posting off Doug Wilson's blog AGAIN....

but I think he is spot on about American "conservatism", or whatever you want to call it, being at a critical fork in the road.  Either we Americans, basically good at heart, are awakening after a bit of a doze and will pull ourselves up by our sensible boot straps, or we are desperately needy sinners who have gotten here by plenty of sinning and won't be freed buy by the blood of Jesus.   As Wilson explains, this is not only for individuals but for governments and courts.  It is all his -- from sea to shining sea.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Some perspective on Glenn Beck

Douglas Wilson is concerned that we not trade the gospel for a fake one. Here is a quote from his post:
"Because Beck is a Mormon, all his appeals to "God" will of necessity be appeals to a place-holder god, a thin, generic god, the god on our money. But the god of American civil religion is not a god who speaks. He has no opinions, no laws, no revelation. He has no son, and he sent no mediator. He can be safely appealed to by all parties, or blithely ignored by any party."
For the entire article click here:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Vision for the Home.

"The home and children are not in the way, keeping women from 'ministry'.  They are the ideal vehicle for a ministry to families, and every woman in the church has the opportunity for this kind of full-time work.  Family ministry is badly needed in the West with the breakdown of the family unit.  So many young people have never experienced a loving family and have no models."
Miniskirts, Mothers & Muslims by Christine A. Mallouhi, married to an Arab Christian, having lived in many different Muslim cultures, with a heart for the gospel.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Don't let the devil do the defining.

Here is an exciting (Biblical) definition of marriage from So Much More by Anna Sofia Botkin and Elizabeth Botkin:
"Marriage is about dominion.  It's about filling the earth and subduing it.  Marriage is about two people of different abilities and roles becoming one flesh, sharing one life and one vision, so that the two will complement each other and complete each other....Marriage isn't where your ministry stops so that you can play house and play family.   Marriage is where your new ministry starts, where you become, in a sense, the queen of a little kingdom where you rule with your husband as God's vice-gerents, working together extending the kingdom, subduing the earth, properly managing its resources, and discipling the nations."

Toward Delicious Prayer

In 1974 Banner of Truth reprinted Austin Phelps excellent book on prayer called The Still Hour or Communion with God.  They said it was the best they had found on the subject.  Phelps longs for prayer to be delicious to his readers.  If it is not, it is not God's fault.
Be ready for some self-examination.  For example, Phelps says:
Many of the prime objects of prayer enchant us only in the distance.  Brought near to us, and in concrete forms,...they very sensibly abate the pulse of our longing to possess them, because we cannot but discover that, to realize them in our lives, certain other darling objects must be sacrificed, which we are not yet willing to part with. The paradox is true to the life, that a man may even fear an answer to his prayers.

For example, a Christian who is a lover of ease  prays for a "spirit of self-denial; that he may endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ; that he may take up the cross and follow Christ....."   But, says Phelps, conscience pricks him.  He is not willing to be like Him who had no place to lay his head.  And so his prayer "collapses."

This book is less than 100 pages. If you long for prayer to be delicious, consider letting Phelps be the tool to plow your heart toward that sweet end.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Define "Friendship" please.

Okay, so our daughter Ruth wants to listen to a sermon by Mark Driscoll on Friendship from his series on Proverbs while I am blogging -- and I consent.   I am sure glad I did.
Ill-defined relationships are stressful. Gather the family and take 50 minutes to listen.  Maybe on a Sunday afternoon.  For one thing, it may keep your children from wasting their lives befriending (and perhaps marrying) people who are simply using them and intend no good toward them. I also found his discussion of "friendshift" extremely helpful.

More Flavel on Sinful Fear

Puritan John Flavel has this further so say about causes of sinful fear:
 "Another cause and fountain of sinful fear, is guilt upon the conscience.   A servant of sin cannot but first or last, be a slave of fear; and they that have done evil, cannot choose but expect evil."
Proverbs says "He who covers his sin will not prosper, but he who confesses his sin will find mercy."  I would add "which includes freedom from sinful fear."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Prayer for the New School Year

Oh, Lord, we are weak with many failures and temptations.  What shall induce us to get up, dust off the seat of our pants, pick up our pack and head up the road?

We remember past failings -- lack of discipline, heartless prayer, careless words, idolatrous, envious, covetous hearts, thoughtless eating and drinking, a grumbling spirit and an unwillingness to lay down our lives for you and others.  Forgive us.  Help us to remember our sin.   We soon forget and strut like roosters making ourselves a legend in our own minds.

Having no basis for confidence in self, let us put our confidence in you.  You came for sinners and when we give ourselves to you, we are changed.  By your grace we are not old dogs unable to learn new tricks.  Give grace to count and order our days for you -- relishing prayer, choosing words seasoned with salt, growing in single-hearted love for you, brimming with thankfulness to you and consciously glorifying you in our eating, drinking, scrubbing and studying.

Give us to see that if we are yours, we are sons of the King with a high, holy and exciting calling.   And because of that, give us -- like Nehemiah --  to resist all distractions and the temptation to run and hide out of fear.  Cheer our hearts on the road.  Defend us in the battle.

Why Christians have Sinful Fear.

Puritan John Flavel goes on to discuss why Christians have sinful fear.  I will share four things we are ignorant of that make us afraid.

 We are ignorant of God -- his "Almighty Power, vigilant care, unspotted  faithfulness,and how they are all engaged, by covenant, for his people."

A second cause is ignorance of men; we "over-value" them.  We forget that they can only do to us what God allows and that "it is usual with God to cramp their hands, and clap on the bands of restraint upon them, when their hearts are fully set in them to do mischief."

Third, we are ignorant of ourselves and our relationship to God.  Assuredly, we are VERY DEAR to him, but we doubt it often.
In a time of bloody persecution Tertullian said to the Christians: "Art thou afraid of a man, O Christian! when devils are afraid of thee..."   And Flavel says "O that we could, without pride and vanity, but value ourselves duly, according to our Christian dignities and privileges, which, if ever it be necessary to count over and value, it is in such times of danger and fear, when the heart is so prone to dejection and sinking fears."

Fourth, we are ignorant of our dangers and troubles.  We fear that there will be no comfort in the danger and no escape from it.  I can't do better than quote Flavel on it: "There is a vast odds betwixt the outward appearance and face of trouble, and the inside of it; it is a lion to the eye at a distance, but open it, and there is honey in the belly.  Paul and Silas met that in a prison which made them to sing at mid-night, and so have many more since their day."

These truths put steel in the Christian and can carry us in the times we are filled with fear and tempted to turn back.  Maybe these choice truths will induce you to read the Puritans on your own.  I have never regretted doing so.  The Puritans trembled at God's Word.  Drinking from them is drinking very close to the source of the stream.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Fabulous Read-a-loud

There are rules for chess and there are rules for interpreting the Bible.  In Michigan we knew a man   who said he had reached sinless perfection. He had some quote from I John to back him up (perhaps 2:1: "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.") but obviously he was absent when the rules for the game were explained.  

My favorite professor at Reformed Bible College said that Biblical Interpretation was one of the most important courses offered at the school.    The book Un' der stand'  A straightforward approach to interpreting the Bible by Walter A. Hendrichsen (Navpress) offers such a pithy, concise course in a mere 107 pages.   It has 24 rules for interpreting the Bible.  For example: Rule two: The Bible interprets itself; Scripture best explains Scripture. 

 If our friend in Michigan has learned that, he would have balanced his verse with an earlier one: 1:10: "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."   Similarly, the prosperity gospel's love for "Give and it shall be given unto you." needs to be tempered with a love for  "Through many tribulations shall you enter the kingdom."

 I want to read this book to our children this year.  I plan to read one rule a day aloud and discuss it.  Is there a more important  subject?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fear as a Gift

Puritan John Flavel says that the fear of God is a supernatural gift.   Not all people have it.  Flavel goes on to describe three uses of the fear of God for our good:
1.  To excite us to our duty.  In Jeremiah, God says of Israel :I will put my fear into them "and they shall not depart from me."  To be kept by God is no small thing.
2.  To keep us from sin and the resulting grief and guilt.   Joseph was in prison but free of conscience.   The fear of God had given him feet to flee the sensual grasp of Potiphar's wife.
3.  To prompt us to "make timely provisions for future distresses, that...they may not come by way of surprise upon us."  When God closed the door of the ark, fear came but too late for the scorners.  

Do you see why I am addicted to the Puritans?  Next post I will summarize Flavel's causes of sinful fear.  If you find this helpful, leave a short comment telling me so.  May your fear -- for we all do and shall fear -- be the supernatural fear of God that he gifts his children.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Where did the grant money come from?

Our local sun current wrote the following:
"Many local taxpayers don't like the thought of using their hard-earned money to clean up other people's mess.
Thanks to a recent infusion of grant money, cleaning up potentially contaminated property sites in order to enhance their redevelopment potential, this won't be be the case."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Supernatural Fear

"To fear man is natural, but to fear God is wholly supernatural."

John Flavel

Prayer for my children and theirs....

"I ask, Father, for my children and theirs and theirs that they say with the psalmist,
'To the hills I lift mine eyes.
 Whence shall help for me arise?  
From the Lord will come my aid,
He the heavens and earth has made.'
If you made all by a word, you can do all your holy will.  
I pray against despair, that worldly wisdom, that sinful independence, that unbelief that keeps our eyes turned down.

And grant my children to say with the psalmist 'My soul is athirst for you' fully sensible that your presence is the prize.

In Jesus Name,

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sinning 0ut of Fear

Puritan John Flavel says that some of the sinfulness of fear is its tempting men to sin.  There is something to search our hearts about -- what do I fear more than God?

 Reading the Global Prayer Digest ( ) we discovered the Dong people of China.   About 600 years ago the founding fathers of the Zhanli village agreed to limit each family to one daughter and one son.   To accomplish this they used herbs, and that failing, infanticide. This was done because of FEAR -- fear that there would not be enough land if too many children were born.

The Dong people have no missionaries, no Bible and no Christian broadcasting.   Who will introduce them to the good shepherd who effortlessly broke five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand men?  Having a holy awe of God will chase out the fear of want.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"I only know I must be brave...or die a coward in my grave."

In the movie High Noon, Tex Ritter sings "Do not forsake me, Oh My Darling."  Played by Gary Cooper, the hero is resolved not to run from criminals who are coming on the noon train to take over the town.  There are problems with the movie, such as Kane doing right not because God calls us to stand for justice but from some unexplainable inner sense (we can be good without God), and yet I love his fear of dying a coward.  Though his new wife urges him to skip town, he refuses -- at the risk of his life.  Thus his song to her:

Do not forsake me, oh my darling 
On this our wedding day 
Do not forsake me, oh my darling 
Wait, wait along 
I do not know what fate awaits me 
I only know I must be brave 
For I must face a man who hates me 
Or die a coward, a craven coward 
Or die a coward in my grave 

Oh, to be torn twixt love and duty 
Supposin' I love my fair haired beauty 
Look at that big hand movin' round 
Nearin' high noon 
He made a vow while in state prison 
Said it would be my life or hisn' 
I'm not afraid to die but oh 
What will I do if you leave me? 

Do not forsake me, oh my darling 
You make that promise as a bride 
Do not forsake me, oh my darling 
Although you're grievin', don't think of leavin' 
Not while I need you by my side 

Wait along, wait along 
Wait along, wait along

May God raise up an army of Christian men who hear God's call to fight for justice--exposing evil and defending the helpless--and deeply fear dying a craven coward in their grave.  

In the end Kane's new wife joins him in the fight.  May God raise up an army of women who will stand by their fearless fathers and husbands and cheer them on whatever the cost.,

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Power of Fear

God has been convicting me lately of a fear that is paralyzing and not pleasing to Him. I was repenting of it when I randomly (like the arrow that pierced Ahab's armor) picked up Volume III of the works of Puritan John Flavel. What should I find but "A Practical Treatise of Fear."

The Puritans are not simplistic. Flavel does not say "Do not fear" as we might expect. No, he takes us to Isaiah 8 where God tells his quaking people (who await the king of Assyria's merciless onslaught) : "Sanctify the Lord of Hosts himself and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary." In other words, he gives a greater fear to chase out the lesser.

In the words of Flavel: "If a man do really look to God in a day of trouble and fear as to the Lord of hosts, i.e. one that governs all the creatures, and all their actions; at whose beck and command all the armies of heaven and earth are, and then can rely upon the care and love of this God, as a child in danger of trouble reposes on, and commits himself with greater confidence to the care and protection of his father: O what peace, what rest, what rest, must necessarily follow upon this!"

There is a sinful fear that has the power to paralyze but there is a greater fear that frees us. God used Flavel to quiet my soul.

Do you see now why I love the Puritans? Even a couple of paragraphs is more satisfying than a little pinch of chewing tobacco tucked into the cheek of an old sailor.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The graces without The Giver?

We got Pollyanna on CD out of the library recently and have been listening to it and discussing it. Something stinks. Pollyanna spills over with the Christian graces of thankfulness, kindness, forgiveness, and long suffering. She always assumes the best about others. For example, wealthy Mr. John Pembleton could eat dollar bills if he wanted to but always eats cheap. Pollyanna assumes he is saving his money for the heathen. Yet she possesses these graces naturally without any need for Jesus Christ. There is no evidence that she ever sins. In fact, she herself transforms people's lives as if she were the savior. This is another gospel-- one with men being basically good (with a little bit of encouragement) and the suffering and death of Christ being therefore unnecessary. We can be good without God. A tenant of atheism.
Let us guard the gospel with our lives.

Love the bride of Christ

The church is the bride of Christ. We should love that bride. The most concrete expression of it is the local church. Just like any bride, she sometimes has bad breath and disheveled hair. Let's repent if we don't love her and then press on to love her. Here are some GREAT suggestions on how. They are gritty and practical such as bring fried chicken to the church potluck and greet the young man with tatoos.

Lost: Common Sense on Directing Children in Vocation Choice

Here is a fantastically sensible article by John Rosemont. Somebody needed to say it. YOU CAN'T BE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO BE!! Besides, what about the sovereignty of God and his call on our lives?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Another Gospel

When people speak of saving America, are they thinking in terms of all men falling short of the glory of God? What do we need to be saved from? Doug Wilson writes insightfully on the subject. Here is a short excerpt of the article below.
"The assumption is that the underlying America is just fine the way it is unless some progressive has been messing with it. We need to "save America," the thinking goes, and so the language of salvation is used all the time. But in our heart of hearts, we are saving an innocent kidnapping victim, and not a skid row bum who became a drunk because of his own stupid choices."

Good writers use word pictures

The Puritans did it all the time. When explaining the need for both prayer and the use of means in our afflictions, Thomas Brooks says: "As the pilot that guides the ship hath his hand upon the rudder, and his eye on the star that directs him at the same time; so when your hand is upon the means, let your eye be upon your God, and deliverance will come. We may neglect God as well by neglecting of means as by trusting in means; it is best to use them, and in the use of them, to live above them."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Permission to Roar

Thomas Brooks' booklet The mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod teaches us how to suffer and yet not sin. I recently recommended this book to a friend and she is finding her heart powerfully plowed up. Here is one choice line out of many: "A gracious , a prudent silence doth not exclude sighing, groaning, or roaring under afflictions. A man may sigh, and groan, and roar under the hand of God, and yet be silent. It is not signing, but muttering; it is not groaning, but grumbling; it is not roaring but murmuring, that is opposite to a holy silence."

I am so thankful that God is stirring his people to read the Puritans. They move us toward a robust and sturdy Christianity and a deeper, sweeter walk with God.

Gems from The Mischief of Sin

"Affliction is like a rent in the coat; sin is like a rent in the flesh."

"Affliction has a promise made to it...but there is no promise made to sin."

Thomas Watson

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Nightmare Atheism

Nathan Wilson has written a wonder filled book called Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl. Incredibly, it has helped me to see the world with new eyes. I have to pinch myself to believe it.

In the book he makes a very good case for there being no objective moral code once God is whited out of one's worldview. The result is nightmarish:
"People are raped in this world, and rape is evil. Because evil exists, there must be no God. Because there is no God--no authoritative standard over creation--the badness of rape downgrades to a mere matter of societal taste. Ethnic cuisine, ethnic ethics. In God's absence rape is no longer fundamentally evil. In our country, you'll get confined to a cell (if caught and convicted), but that just means we enforce our taste, not that our taste has any real authority over anyone else. In other societies, girls have been passed around and traded like baseball cards. Is that right? Is that wrong? Neither. You like exploitation; I like apple pie."

Ultimately the preference of the most powerful will win the day. No rule of law. And we were promised freedom by the new atheism. May God stem the tide before the darkness falls on us.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thank God for France

Did you know that at one point in the Reformation nearly 50% of the French were Reformed? And three of the four statues of the Reformation Wall were French: John Calvin, William Farel, and Theodore Beza. Most of John Calvin's seminary students were French. It was a Frenchman, Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples, who greatly influenced Luther on his view of justification.
Now a ministry called Huguenot heritage is holding a conference on the history of the Reformation in France in hopes of sparking a new Reformation. Gather your family around and watch this moving lesson of church history. You will marvel.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Courtship in the Air"

Doug Wilson have done some serious thinking about courtship, and has come to some wise, thoughtful conclusions. Here are 21 questions for a prospective suitor and 21 for a prospective wife. These are tools to help us enter marriage thoughtfully, prayerfully and carefully.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Letter to a Suitor

Here is a poem written by a Miss Procter that exposes the vulnerability of a woman and pleads for men to search their hearts before asking her hand.

Before I trust my fate to thee,
Or place my hand in thine;
Before I let thy future give
Color and form to mine;
Before I peril all for thee,
Question thy soul tonight for me.

I break all slighter bonds, nor feel
A shadow of regret;
Is there one link within the past
That holds thy spirit yet?
Or is thy faith as clear and free
As that which I can pledge to thee?

Does there within thy dimmest dreams
A possible future shine,
Wherein thy life could henceforth breathe,
Untouched, unshared by mine?
If so, at any pain or cost,
Oh, tell me before all is lost.

Look deeper still. If thou canst feel
Within thy inmost soul
That thou hast kept a portion back,
While I have staked the whole,
Let no false pity spare the blow,
But in true mercy tell me so.

Is there within thy heart a need
That mine cannot fulfill?
One chord that any other hand
Cold better wake or still?
Speak now-lest at some future day
My whole life wither and decay.

Lives there within thy nature bid
The demon-spirit Change,
Shedding a passing glory still
On all things new and strange?
It may not be thy fault alone-
But shield my heart against thine own.

Couldst thou withdraw thy hand one day
And answer to my claim
That Fate, and that to-day's mistake-
Not thou-had been to blame?
Some sooth their conscience thus; but thou
Wilt surely warn and save me now.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Throw Ink at the Devil, Andre Seu

Luther once threw a pot of ink at the devil. I am jealous. He lived with a much more intense awareness of the power of unseen forces than I do.

I am a child of the scientific age-- where things are considered to be real if they can be weighed, measured, seen and felt. Everything else is considered a figment of my imagination. And so I am a practical atheist all too often, caught in the schemes of the evil one, unprepared to do battle, too seldom victorious. That is why I am jealous of warrior Luther.

Andre Seu calls herself a recovering materialist. In other words, she is becoming more aware of the unseen forces. She came to speak at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Her lectures called the unseen forces out of hiding. Listen if you want to grow wise.

Looking for a mentor to teach Christian counseling?

Several weeks ago David Powlison came to Bethlehem Baptist Church to speak on Christian counseling. My, oh my! He taught from II Cor. 1 about how people respond to suffering with worldly wisdom (despair, self-pity, revenge, anger, complaining, numbness, coldness, escape in its various forms, depression, self-righteousness, etc.). He then gave Paul's conviction that the intense sufferings in his life were to turn him from relying on himself to trusting in God. Since then I have been evaluating my own responses to pain in my life. Believe me -- I have lots of reason to be humble. And by God's grace I have been more deliberate about turning to God in my pain. Isn't that what the psalmist is doing when he says "The Lord is my refuge and my strength."?

Powlison has two excellent books that would be worth reading carefully and taking notes on: Seeing with New Eyes and Speaking Truth in Love. He says a short definition for Christian counselling is "wise love." If you want to love wisely, enroll in Powlison's class. It can be in your arm chair with a cup of coffee.

Also, the audio is available. Scroll down this Bethlehem Star to "recent audio" and there you will find the lectures that can be downloaded. God be with you and make his church full of people who love wisely.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Never take thumbs for granted.

Doug Wilson has written a fun poem about the wonders of evolution. Enjoy.

Our sufferings cannot be compared to the glory.

Our daughter Esther went to Adventure Girls this last year. Every week there was opportunity to earn points toward a prize to be given out at the last meeting. One could bring a decorated hat on hat day, or wear lots of jewelry on jewelry day or write a book review and various other projects. Though the projects were not difficult, Esther put little effort into them, believing "Free things are sometimes a little cheap." The morning after prize night, she looked at me sheepishly. "Mom, guess what one of the prizes was?" She then told me that oil paints was a prize --something she has wanted for some time. But because she didn't have as many points as some other girls, this prize got picked before she had her turn to pick.
This got me thinking about heaven. I believe that heaven will be very, very sweet and good and lovely and will more than compensate for any suffering, loss, deprivation or pain we have had to bear for Jesus on this earth. But I do not always live as if that were true. If I believed that every whispered prayer, every glance upward, every tear for the unborn, every turning to God would be richly rewarded, I would turn to him more often. I would live more in his presence. But then, like Andre Seu, I am a recovering materialist. Lord, open my eyes.

America a House of Cards?

Vishal Mangalwadi has been called a modern Francis Schaeffer. In this lecture (less than 1 hour) he asks whether America could collapse like a house of cards. Deeply prophetic, with a good grasp of history, Vishal is no cheap alarmist. Rather, he is a gift from God to help us be people who "understand the times." He is not saying collapse is inevitable but clearly lays out what is necessary for collapse to be avoided. Conservatism is not the ticket.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Weeping as Warfare?

Jeremiah thought so. He calls us to teach our daughters wailing. For a powerful article on this subject by Evangeline Johnson see this link:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Repentance is the rudder.

Besides being thrilled that my husband started a blog on Christian marriage I like checking out Doug Wilson's blog. Some of his best posts are on politics. He rightly points out that nothing can change without repentance. I think of that often when I hear the conservative talk show hosts boasting of how we are going to turn this ship around. The following post is superb.

We thought they'd like the latest fashion

The church seems desperate to keep up with the latest styles, one of the most prominent being egalitarianism. Here is a fascinating quote from The Gospel for Muslims by Thabiti Anyabwile on the effect of this on African-American men and their subsequent draw to Islam.

"African-American Muslims generally take family seriously. They tend to have large families organized in traditional gender roles of male leadership and female submission. For African-Americans, Islam can be seen as the only force that restores healthy family life, including strong male providers and virtuous wives and mothers.
The devastation of black family life is sometimes attributed to what is seen as an emasculating Christian influence. Christian men are viewed as weak. African-American Muslims object to women-dominated churches and homes. So much of the success of Islam in African-American communities comes from the Muslim community's ability to rehabilitate and strengthen African-American men and its concern for the protection of African-American family."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What are "Kidults"?

Kidults are people that are the age of an adult but they still act like kids -- resisting responsibility, resisting growing up, resisting thinking about others. In Do Hard Things Alex and Brett Harris discuss this phenomenon. There are lots of kidults in America.
Therefore, it is always fascinating to learn of young men and women who are breaking out of the mold. Enter David Brown. He recently married at 18 years of age having built a house and being debt free. If you're screaming for pictures go to Also click on "David's house up-date" on that page.
For a picture of the wedding go to and look for "Huzzah. Thanking God for another multi-generational success story."

Need for Reformation in Wedding Sermons

When I read the book of Ruth I am struck by the blessing given at the gates when the news of the marriage of Boaz and Ruth is announced: "may your house be like the house of Perez....because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman." Even before they are married there is talk of children.
Now Russell Moore in his book Adopted for Life addresses the same subject and I will quote him.
"One area of needed reformation in our preaching is in wedding sermons. Too many of our weddings, even in the most conservative churches, pretend as though the event is about the formation of a 'couple.' The language of older wedding ceremonies, which mention procreation and the children of the union, seem quaint and antiquarian to our ears. We're the ones who are odd, however, not our forebears. Marriage is about the formation of a new family. What would happen if our wedding ceremonies were less about a 'celebration of the love of Joni and Todd' and more about the formation of a new covenant family? What if the officiating pastor spoke to the couple not only about what it means to be a faithful husband and wife but what it will mean to be a faithful father and mother? What if every wedding ceremony included a prayer for the children of the union, that such children might actually be and that they'd be saved at an early age? What if this prayer included the mention of such children as coming either through birth or through adoption? Such small measures could help refocus our minds and hearts on our responsibilities to the next generation."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A rare topic

I don't hear much talk of the Lord's Day. I'd love to hear more. Maybe we don't even know what to think of it --much less how to talk of it.
Here is some help from Bryan Stuart.
"Then notice what God does. He does not keep the rest to Himself; He does not hoard feasting and cause mankind to labor without ceasing so as to subsidize His feast. Rather, God gives this Sabbath rest to man. He hallows the seventh day and sanctifies it. He sets it apart so that man too, like the Creator, would be able to work and labor and strive, exercising dominion over the earth, and then on the seventh day sit back and rest, enjoying the fruit of his hands and worshiping the Lord who had given him such bounty to enjoy. In other words, God’s rest, God’s feast, was a blessing for all humanity."
If this paragraph sparks your interest, read the article below. Stuart also has a book from Canon Press called the taste of SABBATH.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Never let any one make your mother or sister cry"...

One of the casualties of the religious commitment to egalitarianism is a sense of God's call to men to protect, provide and to be faithful. Russell Moore spoke beautifully of this in the parenting seminar at Bethlehem Baptist Church (watch for this seminar -- March6/7 --to come online either at Desiring God or in the next few days).
Among the Camps by Thomas Nelson Page is a wonderful read-aloud for children about children during the civil war in the south. Major Stafford must go off to war, and his young son Charlie promises that when he gets to be a man he won't let anybody make his mamma cry." In response his father says to his wife: "On my word, Ellen, the fellow has some of the old blood in him." Then he calls Charlie his young knight and, drawing him up, says, "I had rather have heard you say that than have won a brigadier's wreath."
In another story Jack, 10 years old, is left by his father (going off to fight) to take care of his mother. "He told him he wanted him to mind his mother, and look out for her, to help her and save her trouble, to take care of her and comfort her, and defend her always like a man."
No doubt these good old stories can teach us how to charge our young men to begin early their calling to protect, provide and be faithful.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The last picture of my father and I

This picture was taken last summer. Ruthiey took it and I am very grateful to have it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Right Where You Want Me"

That's the name of my daughter's blog entry detailing her visit to Canada to help Opa and Oma. She arrived three days before my father's stroke and was able to be there as he visited the doctor and got checked into the hospital. Then she was able to drive my mother to the hospital to visit him. We clearly felt God's grace in her being available at that time, and I was deeply touched by this photo journal of her stay.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

If this doesn't cheer you up.....

All winter this lovely Carolina Breeze Hibiscus has been blooming in my dining room window. The blooms are for a day -- to remind me of the briefness of life. But when one flower is gone there are several new buds ready -- to remind me of the grace of God. It cheers me much.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fair trade, minimum wage, child labor laws.... Who'd a thunk it?

I love a teacher who can make a subject understandable. It indicates that the teacher actually understand the subject himself -- something we cannot take for granted with all teachers.

Jay W. Richards, a Christian, understands economics. And his thoughtful book Money, Greed and God is a joy to read. The subtitle is "Why Capitalism is the Solution and not the Problem." In the book he exposes eight myths that explain every mistake Christians make in understanding economics, and makes a convincing case for capitalism being practically and morally superior.
Fair trade, minimum wage, child labor laws..... It is possible to see past the feel-good apparent benefits of these to the actual results, and judge whether they are good policy. Who'd a thunk it?

Jay Richards came to speak at Bethlehem Baptist Church on February 20. Our teens loved it. This seminar was video taped and will be available on DVD from the Minnesota Family Council. I cannot recommend this resource highly enough.

Every good gift is from above.

On February 9 my mother called me to tell me that the nurses had not been able to wake my father that morning. I flew out that morning praying that I would still be able to see my father alive. But I did not set my heart on it. I was happy enough knowing that I will see my father in heaven.
I got to the hospital at 11:00 PM. My sisters had told my father to wait because I was coming. Though he was dying, his face brightened when I came to greet him, and I am sure he said "I love you." After spending some time with him, kissing him and praying for him, I told him he could go to be with Jesus. It is a better place. Less than an hour after I arrived he was unresponsive and about 20 hours later he passed peacefully into glory.
The doctor said he probably did wait for me. That is a gift I will be eternally grateful for.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Death with dignity?

It is a common expression --usually used to justify euthanasia. But I remember a godly man arguing that there is no such thing as death with dignity. We were not made to die. We were made to live forever.
As I watched my father dying I thought about how bad sin is. Death came because of sin. Have a good look at death and tell me sin isn't bad, that we can play with it, excuse it, redefine it. It is killing us, and there is only one place for cleansing -- the blood of Jesus.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Quilting from the heart....

There are a group of ladies from my mother's church who make quilts for all the sick in the hospital. This is the unbelievably beautiful one that they gave my father after he had his stroke.
He lay under it as he was dying. My family gave it to me before we left. I cried. I am grateful for the remembrance.
I will post more pictures of the funeral soon. My father loved the sun, and the sun was shining that day.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Six qualities of a godly man that I saw in my father.

Puritan Richard Baxter says "As a watch when it is wound, or a candle newly lighted; so man, newly conceived or born, begins a motion which incessantly hastes to its appointed period." Feb.10,2010 was dad's appointed period.

Someone asked my mother how she was doing, and she said "We cry and laugh but the overtone is thankfulness." That says it perfectly. Today I want to share six qualities of a godly man that I saw in my father and for which I am deeply, deeply grateful. He was serious, responsible, generous, communal, diligent and tender.

1) My father was serious about spiritual matters. I cannot remember him ever making light of them. To do so is to trivialize them. Because our only hope for happiness is found in Christ, any discouragement to finding it there brings great harm.

2). My father was responsible. A commitment made was a commitment kept -- regardless of feeling or convenience. I remember him often going back to work after supper to fine-tune the books or unload a truck. He cared for our home and the yard. He moved from Edson because there was no Christian school there. He took us on vacation, built swings and repaired bikes for us. What he understood to be his duty, he did. We even benefited from this after his death. All of the papers we needed for the funeral home were in one file.

3). My father was generous with others while being moderate in his own living. Dad loved to see God's Kingdom extended. Whether it was to the local church, Wycliffe, individual missionaries or Focus on the Family, he loved to give. This generosity was combined with moderate living at home. We had to justify every new pair of shoes or boots that we wanted -- maybe because at times they cluttered the hallway when he came up from work. Sausage was not to be stacked on bread like pancakes but rather spread like checkers on a board. Strict examination that apples had been eaten to the core was required before we could throw them away. Christmas was very simple with treats and a game to share. I remember one year getting a game -- I think it is called Ker-plunk -- where you have a cylinder of marbles held up by sticks and you tried to pull out the sticks without dropping the marbles. We had barrels of fun with that game. I am grateful for this part of the legacy my father has left. Similarly John Calvin and Martin Luther both lived very simply. In fact, Luther was so generous that his wife sometimes feared they wouldn't have enough to feed the family. I have seen moderate living modeled along with generous giving.

4). My father lived communally, that is, he looked past himself. I believe this was symbolized in the large windows he had built in the dining room. He could look way over Hank Wierenga's field and beyond, and if the hedge got too high, it had to be cut.
Dad cared deeply about the crops, and lived along with the farmers waiting for rain and sunshine. On some Saturday afternoons, after we were bathed and in our pajamas we'd barrel into the car to see how the crops were progressing. Even in his 80's he loved to have Bert drive him to see the farms.
After dad's stroke, Dr. DeWaal told him he needed to go the hospital. His only question was "Will there be a window in my room, doctor?" There was.

5). My father was diligent. The Bible says "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might as unto the Lord." My father modeled that for us. Whether he balanced books, swept floors, unloaded trucks, washed his car, mowed his lawn, walked or swam, he did it with great energy and resolve. Nor, I believe, did he think any work beneath him. In Christ he had the sure promise of a generous reward, but there can be no harvesting without planting.
It was quite a crisis when dad retired in his early sixties. I think he had found his identity in his work, and he hadn't thought a lot of what he would do when he retired. This stirred great fear in my dad. Thankfully there was a godly pastor in Edmonton, Peter Heaton, who counseled him. When Pastor Heaton heard dad's story, he told him to find work to do and keep busy.

6). My father was tenderly broken. His crisis after retirement was an example of God bringing good out of ill. Besides telling him to find work, Dr. Heaton recommended Spiritual Depression by Martyn Lloyd Jones. This was of great spiritual benefit. Another pastor in Grand Rapids gave him Phil.4:6,7: "Be anxious in nothing but...make your requests known to God. And the peace that passes all understanding will keep your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus." This became a life verse for him. My father had a new sense of his weakness, his brokenness, his dependence. This dependence is not unmanly. It is real and those who lack it are deluded. Jesus condemned the strutting Pharisee but loved the sinner who knew himself to be dirty and naked except for Jesus washing his sin and giving him a robe of righteousness. Christ had become his treasure.

So these are the qualities of a godly man that I saw in my father. He was serious, responsible, generous, communal, diligent and tender. God gave these graces to my father. May God be glorified.

My father ran the race and he has finished. He will never have to worry again about whether bills are paid; whether the oil has been changed; whether we'll be late, or the dryer will break down again; whether the books will balance, or the church will meet its budget; or whether the rains will come on time for the crops.

Again, Richard Baxter said at 76, anticipating his death:"Is not dwelling with God in glory forever better than in this sinful world? He that is our beginning is our end....How often has my soul groaned under a sense of distance, darkness, and alienation from God. How often has it looked up and panted after him" and said "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God."

My father's panting is over. His thirst is fully quenched in God.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Going to Alberta Today

Yes, I am going to Alberta. God may be pleased to allow me to see my father while he is still alive, but I don't have a right to it and I will not set my heart on it. Mostly I am glad, glad, glad that my father tasted the grace of God about 20 years ago. It gave him a dependence and tenderness that was sweet to see. For a little more detail and a picture, see our daughter Ruthiey's blog:

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Paul Tripp comes to Minnesota

For the past five years Bethlehem has had marriage retreats. We have gone several times and been blessed every time. This year we were exceptionally blessed. Paul helped us see and even laugh at the petty quarrels we all engage in with those who are closest to us. "Sin causes us to shrink our lives to the size of our lives." Instead of living for the glorious Kingdom of God, we end of living for our own little kingdom that we have built on our definition of what we need. We live self-absorbed, self-oriented lives focussed on my wants, my feelings and my needs.
He told of a birthday party that was held in the kindergarten class he taught. The birthday girl had a huge stack of gifts and one little boy proceeded to snort in jealousy until one of the mothers knelt by him and slowly said "Hear me. This is not your party." The point? Folks, this is not our party. It is God's glory we need to love.
Paul asked whose kingdom is shaping our marriage. If it is self, we will manipulate others to deliver what makes us happy. If it is God's, we will minister, and seek to love our neighbor as ourselves. I love his definition: "Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not demand reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving." This convicted me that I have loved very little in my life -- and marriage particularly.
The lectures up to this point were painful -- like surgery. Like a stiff pruning from the master gardener.
Next Paul helped us to see what marriage looks like when God's Kingdom is shaping our marriage. We must believe that God is creator, that he is sovereign and that he is Savior. If we believe God is creator, we will view our spouse as a unique creature made in the image of God and be less irritated by the differences. They may be hardwired to be social, analytical, mechanical, bookish, handy, etc, and we will stop berating them for not being more like we are. Second, if we believe that God is sovereign, we will accept the story ( the particular influences) that have shaped them. However messy their story, God intends to take us beyond our comfort zone and to grow us through it. And of course sin makes everything very messy, but Paul says this is a grace -- grace because the messiness of relationships takes us out of fixing our heart on another and pushes us to cry out to God. What do we do the the sin of our spouse? Do we keep a record of it? Do we throw it into their face? If we do, we are cursing God.

The seminar made me aware of how afraid I am of giving up the interests of my own little kingdom and giving up the manipulating I do to secure what I believe I need. It is a reckless throwing myself into the arms of God. But then again, with all of his promises to richly reward those who seek him, maybe it is not so reckless after all. Surely it is more reckless to try to secure my paltry kingdom and lose the Kingdom of God in the process.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Swimming Upstream...

We live in a day where we believe we have a fundamental right to happiness -- even if achieving it involves the most outrageous sins. And of course we often believe we must sin to be happy. Deborah Raney has written a sweet book called A Vow to Cherish which tells of the struggle of John whose wife Ellen gets Alzheimers when she is still very young. Sorely missing Ellen's companionship, John meet Julie, whose husband died in a car accident. He is drawn to her and begins making excuses to spend time with her. At his son's wedding, he is deeply convicted that he is being unfaithful to his own marriage vows. What follows is a testimony of the all-sufficient grace of God for the most difficult days, and evidence of the real rewards of obedience. (a surprise, guilt-free reunion with Julie after Ellen dies).
The book, though fiction, is an inspiration to reject the lies of Satan that we must sin in order to be happy, and embrace the truth that obedience brings great reward -- both now and for eternity. Raney is swimming upstream in a culture where some feel-good happiness is routinely sought regardless of the cost. The Puritans' call for us to suffer rather than sin is for a deeper, eternal happiness.

I feel like an Octopus

Last week I was getting ready for Joseph's open house. Our four youngest children were all helping me and we were having a great time, making significant progress. I felt like an octopus --except with 10 arms!! Abigail cut all of the cheese and meat into strips for the antipasto salad, Esther made brownies, Stephen made cream cheese spread for the sandwish wraps, and Andrew cut and arranged vegetables and fruit. My husband tells me not to work alone and I love him for saying that because working together is much more fun.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The fear of God a "choice jewel."

Here is a great quote from John Bunyan. May God give me more fear of God.
"Christian, let God's distinguishing love to you be a motive to you to fear Him greatly. He has put His fear in your heart, and may not have given that blessing to your neighbor, perhaps not to your husband, your wife, your child, or your parent. Oh, what an obligation should this thought lay upon your heart to greatly fear the Lord! Remember also that this fear of the Lord is His treasure, a choice jewel, given only to favorites, and to those who are greatly beloved."

Bunyan, John

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

House Cleaning for 2009

Yes, 2010 has been rolling for 20 days but I can't resist challenging you with some house-cleaning tips from Doug Phillips' blog. Doug suggests reflecting on 2009 and listing the special mercies and providences of God for the year (and thanking Him.) Secondly, think about which people God has used to bless you and go to thank them. Thirdly, think about who has hurt you, and forgive them. "Life is too short to be bitter."
God has recently convicted me of bitterness. I now can better understand why the writer of Hebrews warns against a root of bitterness springing up and causing trouble. For me the bitterness came with ingratitude, a strong sense of entitlement and a critical spirit. Yuck! Repentance is a wonderful house cleaning, and as I know I will be tempted to bitterness again, I am resolved by God's grace, to do battle against it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wilson Wisdom

One of my favorite authors is Douglas Wilson. I love what he writes and how he writes. Here is one of his gems: "Young Christian people should seek to become the kind of person that the kind of person they would want to marry would want to marry."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Learn from Others' Mistakes

I love Vicki Bentley's article "Twenty-Three Years & Seventeen Kids Ago." Vicki is a homeschool mom and addresses enjoying your children, teaching children responsibility, and letting children make mistakes, among other gems. She will be a featured speaker at the MACHE homeschool conference and curriculum fair (Rochester). You can read the whole article at

Location for Jamie Soles

Jamie Soles will be singing this Wednesday evening at 7:00 P.M. at Fairview Lutheran at 4215 Fairview Avenue, Minnetonka. Admission is free. I know this conflicts with some Wednesday night activities. If you are not free you can listen to some of his music online and buy a CD if you wish.