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.