Saturday, November 29, 2008

Look into the world, among rich and poor, high and low, young and
old, and see whether it appear not by the whole scope of
their conversations that they set more by something else
than Christ? And for all the proclamations of his grace in
the gospel, and our common professing ourselves to be his
disciples, and to believe the glorious things that he hath
promised us in another world, whether it yet appear not by
the deceitfulness of our service, by our heartless endeavours
to obtain his kingdom, and by our busy and delightful following
of the world, that the most who are called Christians
do yet in their hearts make light of Christ; and if so, what
wonder if they perish by their contempt?

Richard Baxter
Making Light of Christ and Salvation

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On Thankfulness

I am genuinely thankful for God's forgiveness and restoration, even when we resolutely determine we are not going to pursue the path of submission of the heart.

Isaiah 45:19
" I have not spoken in secret,In some dark land; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,' Seek Me in a waste place'; I, the LORD, speak righteousness, Declaring things that are upright.

And again, another benefit that such trials are of to true religion, is, that they purify and increase it. They not only manifest it to be true, but also tend to refine it, and deliver it from those mixtures of that which is false, which encumber and impede it; that nothing may be left but that which is true. They tend to cause the amiableness of true religion to appear to the best advantage, as was before observed; and not only so, but they tend to increase its beauty, by establishing and confirming it, and making it more lively and vigorous, and purifying it from those things that obscured its luster and glory.

Jonathan Edwards
Religious Affections

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Jews have a proverb, that there is no punishment
comes upon Israel, in which there is not one ounce of the
golden calf; meaning that that was so great a sin, as that
in every plague God remembered it ; that had an influence
on every trouble which befell them. Every man's heart
may say to him in his sufferings, as the heart of Apollodo-
rus in the kettle, ' I have been the cause of this.'
God is most angry, when he shews no anger. God
keep me from this mercy. This kind of mercy is worse
than all other kind of misery. One writing to a dead friend
has this expression, ' I account it a part of unhappiness
not to know adversity ; I judge you to be miserable, because
you have not been miserable.' It is mercy that our
affliction is not execution, but a correction. He who has
deserved hanging, may be glad if he escape with a whipping.
God's corrections are our instructions, his lashes
our lessons, his scourges our school-masters, his chastisements
our advertisements ; and to denote this, both the
Hebrews and the Greeks express chastening and teaching
by one and the same word, because the latter is the true
end of the former, according to that in the Proverb, ' Smart
makes wit, and vexation gives understanding ; ' whence
Luther fitly calls affliction, ' The Christian man's divinity.'
So says Job, chap, xxxiii. 14 — 18 ; God speaketh once, yea,
twice, yet man perceiveth it not : In a dream, in a vision of
the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings
upon the bed ; then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth
their instruction, that he may withdraw man from his purpose,
and hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul
from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.
When Satan shall tell thee of other men's sins to draw
thee to sin, do thou then think of the same men's sufferings
to keep thee from sin. Lay thy hand upon thy heart,
and say, ' O my soul, if thou sinnest with David thou must
suffer with David.'

-Thomas Brooks
Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices

On a more personal note

The Lord has been teaching me a lot of things lately. Through emotional ups and downs and knowing yet not believing. Things have been difficult, to say the least. Being such a cerebral individual, I found myself trying hard to understand. As if understanding the incomprehensible was necessary and even possible for salvation. No, merely believing like a little child is all the involvement and understanding I need. Books written about the atonement are not read for research, but for praise. Worship. Adoration.

On everything that I do not understand, I merely trust. That is hard. My analytical nature is a severe stumbling block to me, I have noticed. But there is peace in trusting. This peace is unlike anything else.

So, would you like to know why this matters right now? Because right now, I build Catholic churches. I'm involved in a number of them around the Dallas area, in fact. A monastery, a brand new building, some classroom additions, you name it. And to tell the truth, that was HARD to come to terms with. It was NOT EASY. I STRUGGLED with that. I WRESTLED until there was nothing left in me. And then I wrestled some MORE.

It got me no where. I could not, with all the mental gymnastics involved, turn the circumstance into a shape that I felt was acceptable on its own. It stood there as a giant ugly monster with halitosis. How can one dress up something so evil as the lie that is Roman Catholicism? It is, in a word, impossible.

So, where am I going with this? Simple. That I live in a very ugly world. It is beautiful in that it bears the mark of a beautiful Creator, but sin makes it ugly. And I cannot extricate myself from it no matter how hard I try. I could not bear up under the weight of thinking that the men whose words encourage me were exiled and died defending the truth against this doctrine. But I don't have to. That is not my load to bear.

There is so much I cannot understand. If God will not open my mind to understand the hows and whys, but will only order me to obedience here, then I must trust, and I must obey. I must obey my boss. It is the grace of God that has me here, I see that daily. I cannot deny it. It is a fact that I see as brazenly as I see the sun rise every morning. God does not have to have me in a circumstance that I can order in my mind in order to display His glory. It is only in trusting Him, and offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise daily, that He is glorified. Of course, there are likely many more ways that I will never understand that He is receiving glory and honor, and I have to stop trying to search them out. They are unsearchable. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (Rom. 11:33)

So, as I discussed meeting minutes about yet another Catholic church we may be building from the ground up, I experienced a peace that passed understanding. That all of this is for God's glory. His saving me, His calling me, His gifts to me, and His directing me to my vocation. I must continue to trust, and obey. To use that mental energy to work hard here, and to follow the Lord's leading for the reason that He has me here.

In quietness and trust is your strength. (Is. 30:15)

Monday, November 24, 2008

"It is with our sins that we go to God, for we have nothing else to go with that we can call our own. This is one of the lessons that we are so slow to learn; yet without learning this we cannot take one right step in that which we call a religious life."
Horatius Bonar
How Shall I Go To God?

God knows all things.

"God has perfect knowledge of us, and all our thoughts and actions are open before him. It is more profitable to meditate on Divine truths, applying them to our own cases, and with hearts lifted to God in prayer, than with a curious or disputing frame of mind. That God knows all things, is omniscient; that he is every where, is omnipresent; are truths acknowledged by all, yet they are seldom rightly believed in by mankind. God takes strict notice of every step we take, every right step and every by step. He knows what rule we walk by, what end we walk toward, what company we walk with. When I am withdrawn from all company, thou knowest what I have in my heart. There is not a vain word, not a good word, but thou knowest from what thought it came, and with what design it was uttered. Wherever we are, we are under the eye and hand of God. We cannot by searching find how God searches us out; nor do we know how we are known. Such thoughts should restrain us from sin."

(Ps 139:7-16)

-Matthew Henry


I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

"I have seen, I have diligently observed and considered upon this occasion, the travail, or the occupation or business, men's various employments, and the differing successes of them, which God hath given to the sons of men; either, 1. Which God hath imposed upon men as their duty; and therefore men must labor, although it brings them no profit, as was now said. Or 2. Which God hath inflicted upon mankind as a just punishment for their sins; to which therefore men ought quietly to submit. To be exercised in it; that hereby they might have constant matter of exercise for their diligence, and patience, and submission to God's will and providence, and for all other graces. Or, that they might be afflicted or humbled therewith, as the same phrase is rendered by divers, Eccles. i. 13." -- Matthew Poole

We often forget the value of the exercises which God has given us to work out in our lives. We ought to take advantage of each and every one of them while on this earth.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

HENRY FLINT was a most holy and worthy minister,
driven from his native country by the tyrannical oppressions
of Archbishop Laud. In the year 1635 he fled to New
England, where he was chosen teacher to the church at
Braintree, of which Mr. William Thompson was pastor.
There he closed his life and his labours, April 27, 1668. He
was a man of great piety, gravity, and integrity, and eminently
qualified for the ministerial work.

-The Lives of the Puritans
Benjamin Brook

Causes of apparent desertion:

Our Lord Jesus designs also to try our
faith. He will see whether we can trust him
or no. When we see him by sensible enjoyment
there is not that space for faith which his
absence causes ; and, moreover, to believe what
we feel to be true is no hard matter, but to
credit what present experience appears to contradict
is a divine act which is most honourable
to the grace which enables us to do it.

-The Saint and his Saviour
C H Spurgeon

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Two things inspire me to study God's Word:

1. Hearing a well-exposited sermon by my pastor.

2. Hearing really poorly handled scripture by other, less-skilled, "pastors."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

From Worldly Saints
"Labour therefore to have the world in its own place, under thy feet."
-Richard Sibbes

Friday, November 14, 2008

I found this helpful.

As well as this.

Because, you see...

This is what I am getting at here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm gonna be honest with you. 'Cause, we're close, right? And I can tell you anything, and you'll be brutally honest with me.

I really don't think I should go back to chasing. There's a LOT more to life than that, and that LOT more happens to be crucial.

Like doing my job well. That's important. It's important to the Lord. It should be important to me, too.

Studying my Bible. What kind of handicap do I leave myself at by not applying my mind to serious study of Bible doctrine, and to applying what I've learned to my life? Probably a larger one than I'm aware of currently. There are panicky moments where I think "what have I done?" I've felt this "tug" to let go of my hobbies for a while. And these moments of apprehension come and go. But they never go away completely.

I need to start paying attention.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You know, it's funny. What I have despised from my youth, God has given me a love for, and then has blessed me richly in it on this earth. He has set me free from what I clung strongly to, and has released me to enjoy it as a gift, rather than a requirement for happiness.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I am trying to discipline myself to go through only one book at a time, but Marriage to a Difficult Man was sitting on the shelf next to my head this morning, and I pulled it down and read the foreword to the newest edition. This couple, Jonathan and Sarah Edwards, seems to occupy a high place in minds and hearts, but this edition seems to make their shortcomings more obvious, though missing the end to which they pressed through their sin, namely Christ. As I learn to sit and wait and be patient with the Lord and His sovereign timing and control of all things, I have come to endure a sort of love-hate relationship with my own sin. Namely, were I to not need a Savior, what great story do I have to tell?

To that end, humility is often far beyond my grasp, though I understand it is what is needed in order to see my sin, in order to understand my poverty and want. Yet we will exercise it to the greatest degree in Heaven as we worship. We so often forget that it is in humility that we approach God, either in prayer, communion with God in the Word, or in corporate worship on Sunday. How natural is it to come to the throne of God with no intention of adoring Him! With only our own needs in our hand!

Dear Lord, teach me patience, and grant me humility.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Quiet, Lord, my froward heart

John Newton

Quiet, Lord, my froward heart,
Make me teachable and mild,
Upright, simple, free from art,
Make me as a weanèd child:
From distrust and envy free,
Pleased with all that pleases Thee.

What Thou shalt today provide,
Let me as a child receive;
What tomorrow may betide,
Calmly to Thy wisdom leave:
’Tis enough that Thou wilt care,
Why should I the burden bear?

As a little child relies
On a care beyond his own;
Knows he’s neither strong nor wise,
Fears to stir a step alone:
Let me thus with Thee abide,
As my Father, Guard, and Guide.

Thus preserved from Satan’s wiles,
Safe from dangers, free from fears;
May I live upon Thy smiles,
Till the promised hour appears;
When the sons of God shall prove
All their Father’s boundless love.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A good man

How would you like to receive a letter like this from your spouse?

"DEAR WIFE, — I beseech the Lord our good God
to bless thee & thy little babe with all spiritual blessings in
heavenly things, & with a comfortable supply of all things
needful for this present life, with such a portion of the true
wisdom as may cause us always to discern of the worth &
excellence of Christ Jesus, to take Him as our only portion, & to
love Him with all our heart, as our best thank offering for His
unspeakeable love & mercy in redeeming us from our sins by
His own death, & adopting us into the right of the inheritance of His Father's Kingdom. To Him be glory & praise for ever, Amen. "

Friday, November 07, 2008

Not What My Hands Have Done
By Horatius Bonar

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Your voice alone, O Lord, can speak to me of grace;
Your power alone, O Son of God, can all my sin erase.
No other work but Yours, no other blood will do;
No strength but that which is divine can bear me safely through.

Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest, And set my spirit free.

I bless the Christ of God; I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.
His cross dispels each doubt; I bury in His tomb
Each thought of unbelief and fear, each lingering shade of gloom.

I praise the God of grace; I trust His truth and might;
He calls me His, I call Him mine, My God, my joy and light.
’Tis He Who saveth me, and freely pardon gives;
I love because He loveth me, I live because He lives.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? -- Ecc iii 9

Seeing then all actions and events in the world are out of man's power, and no man can at any time do or enjoy any thing at his pleasure, but only what and when God pleaseth, as hath been now shown in many particulars, and it is as true and certain in all others, hence it follows that all men's labours, of themselves, and without God's help and blessing, are unprofitable, and utterly insufficient to make them happy. - Matthew Poole

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Why I'm okay with Obama's win

Because "Christians" in America have been too long under the impression that they can have their cake and eat it, too. Was it a wake-up call? Yes. Was it a dose of sobriety to the party-hardy "church-goers" who honor God with their lips, having hearts far from Him? I would hope so.

I see a lot of people getting very emotional about the results. And I had to stop and consider how crazy that is. While it is quite understandable to be upset with the laws that we can almost expect to be passed in the next four years, and the people who will be negatively affected by them, I don't see the reason to be overcome with grief and incredulity, as though God has now abandoned us to judgment with the rest of the nation.

The future is nescient. And I see too many possibilities for God to show His glory on this earth with such an election result. Do we forget that so easily?

I, for one, have appreciated the sobriety of the moment. I have appreciated the moment when it became pleasant to think of heaven, and when the curse of the Fall rose like a noxious odor from the American soil.

[From 1 Peter 2]
13Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,

14or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.

15For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.

16Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.

17Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

18Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.

19For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.

20For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.

Now that the election is behind us, I can start thinking about what is before me. 2009.

I don't often make resolutions because I don't often keep them. But 2008 revealed a lot about myself that I'd like to change, and I think that setting some limits and goals will be beneficial.

In 2009, for instance, I'd like to declare a moratorium on book-buying unless the book is an absolute necessity, such as for a class, or is a gift for someone else. I will be in dire need of new shelves shortly if I don't halt the growth of my library.

Secondly, I'd like to declare a moratorium on storm chasing in an organized manner, but I'm not sure how that will work. This issue deserves a great deal of prayer. It's expensive, and I think that the money would be better spent on paying down the debt.

Third, I'd like to slow down in all areas simply to examine my life and take stock of where repentance is needed, where self-control has been lacking, and what watch needs to be given to what areas of my life.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I already voted. So tonight, I will be exercising my second amendment right.

Sort of.

Lord, You know.

Monday, November 03, 2008

“God examineth with trials, the devil examineth with temptations, the world examineth with persecutions.” –Henry Smith