Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Holy Spirit in the Life of Jesus, Part 3

This brings us to the fourth element:

4. The Ministry Of The Spirit In The Exaltation Of Christ

Here again, the principle of the unity of the work of Father, Son and Spirit is illustrated. The Father raised the Son [Gal. 1:1]; the Son took up his life again, having laid it down [Jn. 2:19; 10:38]. But Owen notes that there is also a strand of teaching in the New Testament which underlines the role of the Spirit in the resurrection: Christ was declared Son of God in power by the resurrection through the Spirit of holiness [Rom. 1:4]; he was justified by the Spirit in the resurrection [1 Tim. 3:16]. Nor was this merely a work of resuscitation. Christ's resurrection by the Spirit was his transformation. Indeed, it is his glorification [ 1 Cor. 15:43a; 45-9]. Thus, says Owen, 'he who first made his nature holy, now made it glorious' [Works III, p. 183]. The Spirit's ministry in the life of Jesus, therefore, was not merely from womb to tomb: it was from womb to throne.

There is something both profoundly moving and exhilarating about these emphases in Owen's teaching on the Spirit. But what is the practical and experimental value of his biblical insight?

It should be immediately evident that Owen's teaching on the Spirit corresponds to the basic law of the Spirit's ministry given in John 16:13-14. The Spirit can be known only in connection with Christ. He glorifies Christ, not himself. In Reformed exposition of the ministry of the Spirit we are accustomed to this emphasis. But Owen's teaching challenges us to take this with the seriousness it deserves. For notice what his study of the Spirit in the life of Christ implies:

1. The source of the Spirit's ministry to us is Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ became the Bearer of the Spirit, in order to be the Bestower of the Spirit (cf. Jn. 14:17: 'He [the Spirit] dwells with you [i.e. by his presence in Christ who is with them] and will be in you [i.e. when he was sent at Pentecost to indwell them as the Spirit of the ascended Lord]). That is why, in the New Testament, Pentecost is not seen as a separate event from Calvary and the Resurrection. Rather, it is the public manifestation of their significance: Jesus has received and borne the Spirit for his people. Now, the last monumental act takes place-overwhelming and epoch-making in its significance (as the first disciples realised): Jesus gives his own Spirit to his own people (cf. Jn. 14:18)!

2. The pattern of the Spirit's ministry in us is Jesus Christ. Perhaps the simplest way to expand Owen's insight is to say: the Spirit was in Christ in order to create the master copy of the life-style he would reproduce in all those who belong to Christ. Nothing is more central to the Reformed understanding of the ministry of the Spirit than this union to Christ which produces conformity to him. It is by the Spirit that we are being changed from one degree of glory to another [2 Cor. 3:18].

3. The means of (one might even say the equipment for) the Spirit's ministry in us is the work of Christ. He was the life-long companion of our Lord Jesus Christ. As such, he now takes what is Christ's and brings it to us [Jn. 16:14]. He is truly 'another Counsellor' [i.e. another of the same kind as Jesus himself had been to the disciples] [Jn. 14:16]. What he brings to us is nothing less than all that Jesus himself is to us. Owen clearly understood the significance of Jesus' words that it was to the advantage of the disciples that he should leave them [Jn. 16:7]. The only conceivable logic which can sustain such a statement is this: the Spirit who was in and on our Lord now lives in and on our lives, bringing to us all that Christ was and is for us.

4. The goal of the Spirit's ministry in us is faith in Christ and glorifying of him. One of the impressive consequences of reading Owen's study of the Spirit in the ministry of Jesus is that we inevitably begin to rejoice in knowing the Spirit. Yet, even in this, the Spirit does not transgress the principles which he equipped Christ to utter and the apostles to record in Scripture. For our new joy in the Spirit goes hand in hand with a new admiration of the Son, and a new desire to glorify him through the Spirit. The Spirit is Christ's witness. We likewise are to bear witness to Christ through the Spirit [Jn. 15:26-7]. His desire is that we should love and admire the Incarnate and Ascended Lord, just as he himself does-eternally. This 'Christ-full' character of Owen's teaching on the Spirit seals it with the marks of biblical authenticity.

- Sinclair Ferguson

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Holy Spirit in the Life of Jesus, Part 2

2.The Ministry Of The Spirit In The Ministry Of Jesus Christ

For John Owen, it was axiomatic that Jesus Christ 'acted grace as a man'. He did this (as men must) through the energy of the Spirit. That was evident in two ways:

(i) In his personal progress in grace. The work of the Spirit in the Messiah was prophesied in Isaiah 11:1-3 and also in 63:lff. Owen saw great significance in the prophecy that it was by the Spirit that the Messiah would be filled with wisdom, and that this characteristic was singled out for reference in Luke's account of Jesus' growth [Lk. 2:52]. In this sense, the coming of the Spirit on Jesus involved a continuous presence. In keeping with the development of his natural faculties as man, and his unique responsibilities as Messiah, he was sustained by the Spirit. The Spirit enabled Jesus to do natural things perfectly and spiritually, not to do them unnaturally. He was taught the wisdom of God from the Word of God by the Spirit of God! This is precisely the picture we are given in the third Servant Song:

The Sovereign Lord has given me the instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back [Isa. 50:4-9].

Each step of his way, it was through the word of the Father in Scripture, illuminated by his constant companion, the Spirit, that Jesus grew in the knowledge of the Lord.

So, writes Owen:

In the representation then, of things anew to the human nature of Christ, the wisdom and knowledge of [his human nature] was objectively increased and in new trials and temptations he experimentally learned the new exercise of grace. And this was the constant work of the Holy Spirit on the human nature of Christ. He dwelt in him in fullness, for he received not him by measure. And continually, upon all occasions he gave out of his unsearchable treasures grace for exercise in all duties and instances of it. From hence was he habitually holy, and from hence did he exercise holiness entirely and universally in all things. [Works, III, pp. 170-171]

But besides this personal progress, there is another aspect of Christ's life in which the presence of the Spirit is manifested:

(ii) In Jesus' exercise of the gifts of the Spirit. In the hidden years of his life, Jesus 'grew... strong' in the power of the Spirit [Lk. 2:40]. What was distinctive for Owen about his later baptism was that there, in the fulness of his years, he received the fulness of the Spirit's anointing for public Messianic ministry.

Owen, however, notes that the significance of Jesus' baptism and anointing with the Spirit cannot be separated from his experience of temptation or from the 'driving' of the Spirit, by which he was thrust into the wilderness [Mk. 1:12]. The same expression [ekballein] is used of both the Saviour being driven into the wilderness by the Spirit, and the disciples being driven out into the harvest by the Lord of the Harvest [Lk. 10:2]. In both cases the function of the Spirit's ministry is the advance of the kingdom of God and the defeat of the powers of darkness. The sword of the Spirit is a weapon tested and tried by our Lord so that his disciples may use it with confidence; the armour the disciple is to take is the armour which the Spirit forged for Christ in his ministry. The controlling thought here, for Owen, is that the ministry of the Spirit in the ministry of Christ is the paradigm for the ministry of the Spirit in the ministry of his disciples.

Owen further underlines a point he has already made: when Jesus returned in triumph from his testing and preached in the synagogue in Luke 4, he did not speak as a retired military colonel, barking out orders to subordinates (if the analogy may be used). What shone through the Spirit's presence in our Lord's exercise of spiritual gifts, as Luke notes, was his gracious humanity, and especially his gracious words [Lk. 4:22] . Here, again, Owen sees Scripture emphasising that the chief evidence of the power of the Spirit in ministry is true and holy humanity.

This brings us to the third aspect which Owen underlines:

3. The Ministry Of The Spirit In The Atonement Of Christ

Here the key text is Hebrews 9:13-14. Christ, by contrast with the Old Testament ritual sacrifices of dumb beasts, offered himself as a sacrifice to cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death. This he did 'through the eternal Spirit'.

Owen saw two possible ways of understanding these words: (a) the reference might be to the personal spirit of Jesus; (b) alternatively, it could refer to the Holy Spirit. In that case, the text expresses two things:

(i) An implicit contrast between the sacrifice of Christ and those of the Old Testament. The sacrifice of Christ was made not on the altar of the temple, but on the altar of the Spirit. Whereas an earthly altar could bear the weight of animal sacrifices, only an eternal altar could support the weight of Christ's sacrifice. Again, while fire consumed the whole burnt offering in the Old Testament, it was zeal for the glory of God, kindled by the Spirit, which consumed Christ [cf. Jn. 2:17].

(ii) But secondly, these words imply the nature of the Spirit's ministry in the sacrifice of Christ.

(a) The Spirit supported him in his decision to give himself without reserve to the Father's will. Our Lord thus devoted himself to his Father throughout the whole course of his life, in order to offer himself consummately on the Cross. He did this by his constant dependence on the Spirit.

(b) The Spirit supported Jesus as he came to the door of the temple, in the Garden of Gethsemane and there caught a glimpse of the bloody altar that awaited him.

(c) The Spirit also sustained him in the breaking of his heart and the engulfing of his soul with sorrow as he contemplated his coming sense of dereliction at Calvary, and then experienced what he had contemplated.

But Owen adds a final, moving touch. On the Cross, Jesus committed his spirit into the hands of his God and Father [Lk. 23:46]. But, what of his body? Externally, it was guarded by the angels who mounted watch over the tomb. Internally, it was preserved from corruption by the Holy Spirit [Acts 2:27]. And so, from first to last, the Spirit is the companion of Jesus' life and the support of his ministry. By his agency, the Holy One was conceived in the darkness of the Virgin's womb. By his presence, the Holy One was preserved in the darkness of Joseph's tomb.

From womb to tomb, the devotion of the eternal Spirit to the eternal Son in the flesh was abundantly evident.

- to be continued

- Sinclair Ferguson

Friday, January 29, 2010

John Owen on The Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus

The next 3 Daily Thoughts will be a summary of John Owen's teaching on the place and work of the Holy Spirit in the man Jesus from his incarnation to his final exaltation. For anyone who is truly interested in understanding Jesus' earthly life and ministry, and how he functioned as a man, this teaching is essential. These are not as short and brief as we usually send, but are well worth the time to spend on them to see the Spirit's work in and upon Jesus intimately at every point of his earthly experience, from 'womb to tomb', as Sinclair Ferguson says. Take time on these and you will profit very much, as we can gain much needed understanding on the humanity of the Lord Jesus here.

- Mack T.

It is said, sometimes with embarrassing frequency, that until recent decades the Holy Spirit was 'the forgotten Person in the Godhead'. It is assumed in such a statement that only in the second half of the twentieth century has there been a recovery of biblical teaching. Only now has the Holy Spirit been given the central place he merits in evangelical thinking.

The word 'embarrassing' is not used here carelessly. For such statements suffer from a characteristic modernism-a false assumption that our discovery of something must be epochal in its significance. But the truth of the matter is that this century is yet to produce an evangelical work on the Holy Spirit which merits comparison with the great and biblically creative studies of the past. It is doubtful if we moderns begin to approximate to the experimental and intellectual wrestlings of our forefathers (whether Father, Reformers or Puritans) in their desire to know the 'communion of the Holy Spirit' [2 Cor. 13:14].

In this context, it is worth reminding ourselves that probably no writer has produced a treatise on the Holy Spirit which begins to rival the detailed exposition of John Owen's great study in his Pneumatologia. Much attention has been rightly focused on Owen's quasi Ph.D. dissertation, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, and on his great studies on the nature, power and conquest of indwelling sin, Works. But Owen himself seems to have regarded the material now contained in volumes III and IV of Goold's edition of his Works as his special contribution to the theology of the Christian Church. What follows is not intended as a major redress of that balance, so much as an hors d'oeuvre, designed to give a taste of the riches of Owen's Pneumatology. At the same time it will point to an area of our thinking about the Holy Spirit which too frequently continues to be overlooked in our thoughts of him, and in our teaching about him.

There were three reasons for Owen's self-conscious focus on the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

1. Historical. Born in 1616, Owen died in 1683. He was 58 when his multi-volumed Pneumatologia began to appear. Able to look back over the 150 years since the Reformation, he could assess the planting, budding, and flowering of reformed theology, and its application to the life of society in seventeenth-century Puritanism. He realised that central to the Reformation's rediscovery of the gospel had been the place, person and power of the Spirit. He saw (as Warfield later did) that Calvin was the theologian of the Holy Spirit. This was what made reformed Christianity different. In this point at least he might well have agreed with the view of Edmund Campion (the famous sixteenth-century Jesuit missionary in England) that the greatest difference between Rome and Geneva lay in the doctrine of the person and work of the Spirit.
Why should this be the case? Because the Reformation's emphasis on the ministry of the Spirit took salvation out of the hands of the Church and put it back where it belonged, in the hands of God!

Yet Owen recognised that no comprehensive treatment of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit had appeared in print:

I know not any who ever went before me in this design of representing the whole economy of the Holy Spirit, with all his adjuncts, operations and effects. [Works, III, 7]
Thus, now twice the age he had been when he authored The Death of Death, Owen began to do for the doctrine of the Spirit what he had done in his late twenties for the doctrine of the extent of the atonement.

But there was a second reason for his writing:

2. Polemical. In Owen's day, as in ours, there existed a special need to expound, accurately and biblically, the ministry of the Spirit. Indeed, part of the value of his work for us today lies in the way he had to fight on two fronts:

(i) He faced an unbiblical rationalism, which gave little or no place to the Spirit. It was nurtured on the illusion of man's autonomy, and blindly suggested that natural Christianity was an adequate substitute for supernatural grace.

(ii) He also faced an unbiblical Spirit-ism, which stressed the immediacy of the Spirit's work and of individual divine revelation. It down-played the significance of the Scriptures, exalting the so-called 'Christ within' above the Christ of Scripture, and the 'inner light' above the light of the Word. Owen recognised that this displacement of Scripture would eventually lead to its abandonment: 'He that would utterly separate the Spirit from the word had as good burn his Bible' [Works, III, 192].
But there was a third reason for Owen's exposition:

3. Personal. Owen was brought up in a home of settled Puritan convictions. In a rare personal comment he tells us that his father was 'a Non-conformist all his days, and a painful labourer [i.e. one who 'took pains' in his work] in the vineyard of the Lord' [Works, XIII, 224]. As Calvin said of Timothy, he had drunk in godliness with his mother's milk. But his own experience taught him what he later called the difference between the knowledge of the truth, and the knowledge of the power of the truth. Only the latter was of real spiritual significance. Spiritual things can be known only by the power of the Spirit. Owen's earliest biographer suggests he struggled for a lengthy period without enjoying personal assurance of God's grace. His own experience of receiving it was, for him, a paradigm of how the Spirit works: sovereignly, Christ-centredly and biblically [Works, VI, 324]. So, it was not merely as a widely-read theologian, nor only as a polemicist, but as a believer, that Owen penned his treatise on the Holy Spirit.

Owen's teaching on the Spirit's ministry is spread throughout many of his writings, but is particularly concentrated in volumes III and IV in his Pneumatologia. Here he draws attention, in seminal fashion, to a theme of great theological importance, and one that is determinative for our personal knowledge of communion with the Holy Spirit: The Ministry of the Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Christ.

Owen refers with some frequency to the description of the Messiah in the Royal Wedding Psalm:

You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore, God your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. [Ps. 45:6-7]

Two questions arise here: (i) Who is the person addressed? Owen finds the biblical answer in Hebrews 1:9. These words are spoken 'about the Son'. (ii) What is the anointing referred to? Owen answers that it is the anointing of Jesus with the Spirit. Jesus is the one to whom the Spirit is given without measure [Jn. 3:34].

What Owen focuses our attention on is that Jesus Christ, whom we often think of as the Bestower or Baptiser with the Spirit, is first of all the Recipient or Bearer of the Spirit. As Jesus' obedience to the Father grew in harmony with his developing capacities as a man and the demands of his ministry as the Messiah, so he received the power of the Spirit's anointing for each step of his way.

It is an axiom, then, for Owen: The Spirit works on the Head of the New Creation, Jesus Christ, and thus creates the source, cause, and pattern of his working throughout the new creation, in believers.

But how did this teaching work itself out? Owen points us essentially to the four central divisions of Jesus' life: (1) Incarnation; (2) Ministry;
(3) Passion; and (4) Exaltation.

1. The Ministry Of The Spirit In The Incarnation Of Christ

Owen recognised the value of the old Latin axiom: Opera ad extra trinitatis indivisa sunt [the external works of the Trinity are not divisible, they are all works of the entire Trinity]. Nowhere is its truth more evident than in the incarnation. There, Father and Son were both active. The Father prepared a body for His Son [Heb. 10:5]; the Son took hold of the seed of Abraham [Heb. 2:14]. But, Owen adds, neither of these actions took place apart from the ministry of the Spirit. In the incarnation, he worked in two ways:

(i) Jesus was conceived by the power of the Spirit. The conception of Jesus in the womb of the virgin Mary has all the hallmarks of the Spirit's operations. Just as the Spirit overshadowed the waters in creation and later overshadowed the church at Pentecost, so he came to Mary-sovereignly and secretly-and took her already existing substance in order to form it into a humanity that was altogether holy [Lk. 1:35]. The humanity which was assumed by the Son of God really was that of Mary. Jesus was conceived by Mary in her womb by the overshadowing of the Spirit. From the first moment of his conception he experienced human development and every stage of human existence [Heb. 2:17-18].

But that immediately leads to the second aspect of the Spirit's work:

(ii) Jesus was sanctified by the power of the Spirit. There are two questions in Christology which Owen believed can be answered only when we take account of the ministry of the Spirit in the Incarnation. How did Jesus become fully one with us? And, how did Jesus become fully one with us, yet remain free from sin?
Owen's answer was that the Son of God really shared our humanity [Heb. 2:14]. He rejected all forms of Docetism. The holy humanity of Jesus was real humanity. It was earthly, not heavenly. The virgin Mary was truly 'the mother of my Lord' [Lk. 1:43], not merely the channel through which the humanity of Jesus entered this fallen world. [This view had been held at the time of the Reformation by (among others) Melchior Hoffman (d. 1543) and was taught by Menno Simons (1496-1561), founder of the Mennonites. The latter's view was related, at least in part, to his deficient understanding of human biology. It should be noted that his view did not become part of Mennonite theology.] By the Spirit, Jesus came from among us. But, having given this affirmation of the reality of Christ's humanity, Owen was careful to avoid the pseudo-logical deduction sometimes drawn from it-that the Son of God must therefore have assumed sinful humanity. No, says Owen, Scripture teaches us that through the overshadowing of the Spirit, that which was born was holy [Lk. 1:35], the Son of God. At the very moment of conception and assumption, the Holy Spirit sanctified the human nature of Jesus equipping him as Son of God to be the Saviour of men. Consequently Jesus was not only (in a negative sense) separate from sinners, he was positively endowed with all appropriate grace, and was holy and harmless, as well as undefiled [Heb. 7:26].

What is so significant about this for Owen? This: the consequence of the Spirit's ministry in the Head of the new creation is that he is truly man and truly holy. In Jesus, holiness and humanity become one and the same thing, perfectly, for the first time since Adam.

Why should this be so relevant to the continuing ministry of the Spirit? Because our Lord Jesus Christ is the cause, source, and pattern of the Spirit's ministry in the believer. What he did in Jesus he seeks to do in us! In a word, Owen is saying: true humanity is true godliness; true holiness is true manliness or true womanliness! Whatever is dehumanising them, cannot be the fruit of the Spirit's ministry in us. Whatever makes you less human must be carnal, not spiritual.

That fundamental principle is of tremendous significance in Owen's theology, even although it is not one he expounds at great length. Indeed, in one sense his chief exposition of it is not to be found in his published works, but in his own life. Shortly after Owen's death, these words were written about him: there was in him:
Much of heaven and love to Christ and saints and all men; which came from him so seriously and spontaneously as if grace and nature were in him reconciled and but one thing.'

The purpose of the Spirit's ministry is to conform us to the image of the Incarnate Son, in order that he might be the firstborn of many brothers [Rom. 8:29]. John Owen apparently expounded this principle chiefly by his own personal example.

- to be continued

- Sinclair Ferguson

Thursday, January 28, 2010


One of the dictionary definitions for a barometer is that it is 'an indicator'. So any time we sense defensiveness in ourselves or in others, it is a barometer indicating pride or immaturity.

You cannot become defensive if you are going to exhibit humility and Christlikeness.

You cannot become defensive if we are going to be teachable and taught by the Lord.

You cannot be defensive if pastors, elders, and other believers are to have their proper place in our spiritual growth.

An honest and valid question-- Am I a defensive person?

If we get defensive when others point something out in our lives, then we are still immature to some extent.

Defensiveness is rooted in pride and prejudice.

Not being willing to be corrected is defensivness rooted in pride.

Racism or Reverse-racism is defensiveness, rooted in holding on to racism because you don't want to let it go as a defense mechanism.

Defensiveness rears its ugly head whenever anyone touches a nerve in my soul, possibly exposing that I could be wrong about something.

Defensiveness is that feeling I get when anyone challenges me on something, possibly exposing that I have blind spots they see that I don't see.

Defensiveness shows itself in touchiness when anyone disagrees with me in any way.

If I am defensive, pride is raising its head in me.

If I am defensive, I still think I know better than anyone who disagrees with me.

If I am defensive, I still am, to some real degree, unteachable.

If I am defensive, I am revealing an inner attitude that I could not be wrong.

If I am defensive when another brother or sister in Christ says something I don't agree with, I am showing that I am still trying to live like an island, separating myself from the body, asserting my carnal independence from the body, and thus from the Head as well.

Defensiveness is so ingrained in us, it's almost like breathing--we exhibit it even when we don't know it if we get challenged, corrected, or rebuked; it is ugly, immaturity in action, and pride holding forth its inglorious presence.

When I am defensive, I am far from being like the Lord Jesus right then. May God save me from this wicked and ongoing evil. Jesus was never defensive one time in his life, not even once. And He is calling me to put it off, die to self daily, and become defenseless, with all my defense being in Him alone.

- Mack Tomlinson

Weekend Conference March 5-7

For anyone near north Texas / Dallas-Ft. Worth area

This is an invitation for anyone within driving distance to our weekend church meetings with David Miller from Heber Springs, Arkansas; David will be with us March 5-7, preaching Friday, Sat, and Sunday morning.

David is a dear and deep brother, with an exceptional ministry of truth.

Please plan on joining us or tell anyone near North Texas about these dates. Anyone who has heard David would not want to miss these meetings. It will be a wonderful time together.

- Mack Tomlinson, Philip Neeley, Elders, Providence Chapel

Elizabeth's Testimony

In San Antonio, Texas, lives my friend Patrick; we have been real friends for 34 years since college, where we love the Lord together and had real fellowship.

The testimony below is given by a lady named Elizabeth, whom Pat had been witnessing to. - Mack Tomlinson

Elizabeth Testimony and Baptism Plea
To her family, she said, "Please come to my baptism! This is the most profound event in my life, and having you there means more to me than I could say!"

About Becoming a Christian:

"I defined myself this way: liberal, bisexual, and very much for cohabitation and sex outside of marriage. And . . . something was waiting for me. Now everything I knew myself to be has been thrown into question. Here's what I want to say to those of us who don't believe, as I didn't: Jesus is real. As in, touch me real. Real like a person standing next to me. He has been in my spirit since I invited him in a couple weeks ago and since then there's been in me a new gentleness, friendliness, and peace. If you're curious at all, I urge you to ask questions, to go to a longtime Christian and voice your resistance. This is what I did with Patrick, even almost to the point of yelling at him. I realized how angry I was at Christianity--Patrick's listening caught and defused this. I can't believe how blessed I am that this has happened. I don't even realize a bit of the full extent of it. I don't know the last time I've felt this kind of . . . bliss.

I never thought this would happen. I am a Democrat. I love to recycle and I was appalled when my Baptist sister-in-law spent a summer in Washington, D.C. lobbying Against ( ! ) gay marriage. For seven years of my life, I was an athiest. I bought a T-shirt with a Darwin footed-fish logo and wore it proudly, even though no one in Amarillo, Texas knew what it meant. I didn't like--okay, I hated Christians. The last thing I wanted was to be one. I thought they were, at best, idiots, at worst, judgmental, evil, and, well, kind of dorky.

And now here I am one, reborn as who I am meant to be. I have uncovered the deeper, richer, freer me. From now on, I'm devoting every aspect of my life to the glory of God. This is the key to me. I feel like from here on out, there are no more questions. In the how I do this, there will be questions, but so far as the why, I'm complete. I have gained everything--Everything! I love people--I want transformation for us all--but there was something more I didn't know. In touching my love for God and God's love for me, I feel like my love for people has been freed and unleashed.

I didn't know Jesus was real. I really didn't. This emergence feels like what I've waiting for without knowing it. It feels like something deep that has long wanted to be righted has been righted. The opening is so profound I know I can only begin to sense its ramifications and how it will deepen and enrich my experience of life and the experience of life of those around me.

I have begun reading the Bible. I have an actual hunger and it is not something I have to make myself do. For the first time, the stories are alive. Even though I've had an extraordinary life, this sense of comfort and serenity and rightness haven't ever been here in my life. One of the things that opened me was reading Josh McDowell's More Than a Carpenter. Also, the idea of what Patrick called "the heart of Christianity," different from the religion Christianity we see in the culture around us. I realized Christianity was something bigger than the way it showed itself in the world, something bigger than Christians can accomplish, at least at this point in our history.

Update on my life: I've started a new book. The novel I've been working on the last few months I set aside, as it was spiritual in nature and written to refute Christianity, which no longer applies."

- Elizabeth

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Imperfect Men

If we are looking for perfect men, we need look no further than the man, Jesus Christ. We need not look elsewhere. For He is where we find the only perfect person.

Christians, especially new believers, often idolize their favorite preacher and become candidates for disillusionment when he disappoints them; to idolize men, to look to men inordinately, to follow men too closely, is to prepare oneself's for disappointment and even spiritual shipwreck.

There are no perfect preachers or those who could be considered 'the best'; there are not even any great ones; the Bible says they are all 'unprofitable servants' and are 'nothing'.

'Cease from man', Isaiah 2:22 says, 'whose breath is in his nostrils, for wherein is he to be accounted of?' Isaiah is speaking of admiring and esteeming man too much. We are to cease from man, as far as wrongly admiring them, following them, giving them praise, and humanly extolling their giftedness; they are only servants and sons--and unprofitable ones at that! No man deserves accolades or human praise. Many today ought to take seriously God's words: 'Cease from man'.

Yet human heroes can still be heroes, even though they are imperfect men who have been redeemed by sovereign grace.

Imperfect men whom we wrongly view as perfect will always disappoint us, but imperfect men who have been redeemed and walk with God and are used by Him will always give us hope that we also can be used by God.

- Mack Tomlinson

Monday, January 25, 2010

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Testimonies

It was customary among evangelical Christians in the 1920s to encourage the practice of giving 'testimonies' as a form of evangelistic witness, and equally common for ministers to include personal references of various kinds in their sermons. Given Dr Lloyd-Jones' unusual career and its interest for the general public, and given also the spiritual experience which had so changed his life, it might well be supposed that references to his own story would have appeared frequently in his preaching. The case was exactly the opposite. References to himself in his sermons were brief and rare. Anything in the way of a testimony to his conversion experience was almost wholly absent. The omission was not an oversight on his part, but the result of deep convictions.

For one thing, he noticed that the giving of testimonies tended to reduce all conversions to a similar pattern, to standardise experience in a way which went beyond Scripture. And yet, at the same time, testimony-givers were prone to emphasise what made their story noteworthy. No doubt the motives were often well-intentioned, but the effect could easily be carnal and man-centred. Hearers readily became impressed with the dramatic and unique features of a story, instead of with the grace of God which is identical in every conversion. In his own case - as the newspapers reporting his change of career had found - it was easy to emphasise the unusual and to speak of 'the great sacrifice' he had made in leaving medicine, but he disliked such language intensely. To speak of any 'loss' in the context of being a Christian amounted, in his eyes, to a denial of the gospel. He never forgot the shock of once hearing a man say, 'I have been a Christian for twenty years and have not regretted it'! Further, his view of preaching was such that to talk of 'sacrifice' in relation to that work was virtually absurd.

There could be no higher privilege than that of being a messenger of the God who has pledged his help and presence to those whom he sends. When, as happened at times, people referred in admiring terms to his self-denial in entering the ministry, he repudiated the intended compliment completely. 'I gave up nothing,' he said on one such occasion, 'I received everything. I count it the highest honour that God can confer on any man to call him to be a herald of the gospel.'

Certainly his concern, lest attention should be diverted to what is least important, was one major reason for his lifelong unwillingness to employ his own testimony in preaching.

There was, however, a still more fundamental reason behind his divergence from normal evangelical practice. It was that he knew that the argument from experience could be matched by the claims and apparent results of other 'gospels'. Do Christians claim to have obtained happiness and deliverance from fears? So do the converts to Christian Science and other cults. 'Our case', he was never to tire of saying, 'is not based upon experience--it is based upon great external facts.' The business of preaching is the proclamation of the revealed truths of gospel history - truths indeed confirmed by experience, but independent of experience in their objective reality. Compared with those truths concerning Christ, as he said on the first Sunday he visited Sandfields, all else is as worthless 'as paper is to gold'. His text that first November evening of 1926 remained his pole-star: 'I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.'

- Iain Murray

That Which Will Truly Help Us

The history of the human ignorance which calls itself "philosophy" is absolutely identical with the history of fools! If ones were to write the history of folly, he would have to give several chapters to philosophy, and those chapters would be more revealing than any others.

Beware of the Babylonian books of the present day! The truth of God is the only treasure for which we seek, and the Scripture is the only field in which we dig for it! If you keep close to the inspired book, you can suffer no harm; you are at the fountain-head of all moral and spiritual good. This is fit food for the people of God; this is the bread which nourishes the highest life.

The prayerful study of the Word is not only a means of instruction, but an act of devotion wherein the transforming power of grace is often exercised, changing us into the image of Christ, of whom the Word is a mirror.

Within the Scripture there is a balm for every wound and a salve for every sore. Oh, the wondrous power in the Scripture to create a heart of hope, within the ribs of despair! Amidst sharp and strong temptations, and fierce and bitter trials, the Word of the Lord has preserved us. Amidst discouragements which damped our hopes and disappointments which wounded our hearts, our Bibles have brought us a secret, unconquerable consolation.

There is no true doctrine which has not been fruitful in good works. Payson wisely said, "If there is one fact, one doctrine, or promise in the Bible, which has produced no practical effect upon your temper or conduct--be assured that you do not truly believe it."

The doctrines of grace produce a fine morality, a stern integrity, a delicate purity, a devout holiness, consecration in life, calm resignation in the hour of suffering and joyful confidence in the article of death.

This must be a true gospel which can produce such lives as these!

- C. H. Spurgeon

Beneath the Cross of Jesus

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat and the burden of the day.

O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet,
O trysting place where Heaven’s love and Heaven’s justice meet!
As to the holy patriarch that wondrous dream was giv’n,
So seems my Savior’s cross to me, a ladder up to Heav’n.

There lies beneath its shadow but on the further side
The darkness of an awful grave that gapes both deep and wide;
And there between us stands the cross, two arms outstretched to save
A watchman set to guard the way from that eternal grave.

Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess,
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by, to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory, all the cross.

- Elizabeth Clephane

Saturday, January 23, 2010

8 Ways to Help Children Love Different People, Part 2

Arriving at the Gospel

Now we have arrived at the gospel examples (numbers 5-8), and these are the ones directly related to the gospel of Christ—his death for our sin and his triumphant, death-conquering resurrection. And when these take root, the previous four suggestions I have given are given the power of the gospel.

5. Teach the children and model for them that their own sin is uglier than anybody they think is physically unattractive.

Sin is not an innocent mistake or a funny blunder or a noble flaw. Sin is ugly rebellion against God. Paul calls this sinful generation “a crooked and perverse generation” (Philippians 2:15). The Bible uses words like “abomination,” and Paul describes fallen man in Romans 3:13, “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips.” Sin is abhorrent and ugly.

If our children are ever to grasp the gospel, they must grasp this about themselves. And we parents must! They and we are sinful—dreadfully sinful. Until this is seen and felt in some significant measure, the gospel will not be cherished.

Knowing the Depth of Our Sin

One way this relates to loving others different from us is this: When we are broken, not just because we do some bad things, but because we are morally and spiritually perverse and ugly, we will not be given to despise others for mere outward appearances that we may think are unpleasant.

But mainly the way this sense of sinfulness and moral ugliness works is to prepare us for the next act.

6. Teach the children that God loves them in spite of the ugliness of their sin and that he proved this by sending his Son to die for our sins and give forgiveness to all who would trust him.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This is the heart of the gospel. And it’s the deepest source of power for helping our children love others different from themselves.

So we say to our children, “You think they are unattractive or unpleasant? Remember, your sin—your sinful heart, just like mommy’s and daddy’s—is more unattractive and unpleasant to God than that person is to you. And God loves you. God sent Jesus, his own son, to suffer and die in our place, so that if we trust him, he forgives us all our sins and starts to make us into new and desirable people.”

“So if God has loved us this way, shouldn’t we love others this way too?”

7. Teach the children that because Jesus died for them and rose again, he becomes for them an all-satisfying Friend and Treasure.

Paul said, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord ” (Philippians 3:8). To know Jesus—to have Jesus as my Savior and my King and my Friend is better than anything.

Help the children make the connection—and of course you have to make it for yourself—that if Jesus is this precious and this satisfying, then you don’t need to be afraid of anyone who’s different from you, and you don’t need to get your happiness by feeling superior to others or by putting others down. You have Jesus. And you are full. And you have something to share. So don’t turn away from people. Turn toward people.

Happy Enough in Jesus to Love Others

Help the children be so happy in knowing Jesus and in being forgiven by Jesus and being loved by God because of Jesus, that they spill over onto others freely with love, rather than getting their happiness by putting others down and running away from others.

Finally, to make sure that the children are grasping the gospel and how it works in their lives . . .

8. Teach the children to love others who are different from them, not in order to be accepted by God, but because they already are accepted by God because of Jesus.

When Paul says in Philippians 2:12-13, “Work out your own salvation,” he adds, “because it is God who works in you.” And when he says in Philippians 3:12, “I press on to make it my own,” he adds, “because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”

In other words, the efforts that we teach our children to make in working out their salvation—in being good and holy and kind and loving—don’t make them Christians. These efforts don’t get God on their side. If they have been grasped by the gospel, they make these efforts because God is already on their side. And he is on their side because of what Jesus did for them, not what they do for him.

The Power of God in the Gospel

This is the power to love people different from ourselves. This is the key we give to our children. And above all this is the key to the grace that enables us to be this kind of parent. We live day by day from the love of God in the gospel of Jesus. May God grant our children to see it and in the power of it love others different from themselves.

- John Piper

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ways to Help Children Love Different People- Part 1

I have eight ways to help your children love those who are different from them. There is an order to them, and I will try to explain it along the way. The gospel of Christ comes in at number five. And the reason it comes so late is that this is the way it works in raising children. They can understand things about God and about what God commands before they can know the meaning of their own depravity and the glory of the way God worked salvation in Christ.

So these are addressed mainly to parents, but also to anyone else who cares about helping children love people different from themselves. Keep in mind that on every point I am assuming that every parent is seeking to be what he is teaching the children. Teach and model. Teach and model.

1. Help children believe in God’s sovereign wisdom and goodness in creating them with the body that they have.

Most little children are wonderfully free from fretting about their body. They don’t think about it. If there is no pain, they just go from one thing to the next with no bothersome self-consciousness at all.

But almost all children come to an age when they worry about their bodies. Am I too tall or too short? Too thin or too heavy? Too dark or too light? Cool hair or boring hair? Clear complexion or blemished? These fears, and the craving to be liked, can escalate into destructive dysfunctions and sinful behaviors.

Not Self-Esteem But God’s Sovereign Goodness

What is needed is not the world’s teaching on self-esteem, but God’s teaching on his sovereign goodness and wisdom in creating our children they way they are. Psalm 139:14: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” It doesn’t solve every problem. It’s just massively important. And the teaching and modeling begins when the child is one year old, not when he is 11. You are getting your child ready for adolescence from the day he is born.

And what you want your child to grasp as soon as possible is: 1) God made me. 2) God is very, very wise. 3) God is very, very good. 4) Therefore, we should trust him. The way he made me is good. The battle of adolescence is not mainly a self-esteem issue. It’s a God issue. A trust issue. We are teaching our children from the beginning to trust God’s sovereignty and wisdom and goodness.

The reason I start here is that the next point will have more power if you have built this into a child from the beginning.

2. Help children believe in God’s sovereign wisdom and goodness in making other people with the body that they have.

This simply takes the first truth and applies it to others. And if you have helped them grasp the idea of being created by God—an amazing and wonderful truth—and being created with wisdom and goodness, then they will not have as much trouble grasping that this is true for others as well.

And if they grasp that others, in all their differences, are created by a wise and good God, then you can draw out all the implications of that. For example, you would not make fun of God’s work, would you? You would not hurt someone by staring at them as if they were made by a foolish god or a bad god, would you? And so on.

3. Help children believe that they and all other children and adults are made in God’s image.

Genesis 1:27: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Build into your children from the beginning that they are different from all the animals because God made us like himself. This applies to all human beings, all races. We can know God. And love God. And think God’s thoughts after him in the Bible. And talk to God. And reflect God in ways that no animal can.

We teach our children that being a human is an amazing and glorious thing. No race is an exception to this. And here is one of the main implications: What makes us like God (all of us) is infinitely more important than any physical thing that makes us unlike each other.

So we say to our children, if they are pulling away from someone who’s different, “Is he more like you, or more different from you?” And if he says, “More different.” You say, “No, because he’s created in God’s image, and you’re created in God’s image. So you are like each other in that really, really important way. The differences aren’t nearly that important.”

God As Creator and Commander of Love

So the first three ways to help our children love those who are different from them all revolve around helping them know God as their Creator and what that means for their lives.

The next examples of how to help our children relates to knowing God as the God who commands us to love. So first our children meet God as their Creator. And then they meet him as the giver of the law which is summed up in the command to love.

4. Teach children that God tells us to do to others as we would like others to do to us.

Jesus said, “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12). This can be very powerful with smaller children who are just old enough to know what it feels like to be made fun of or excluded.

We teach them the Golden Rule to do to others what we would like to be done to us. And we apply it over and over again to their relationships and how they treat others. “Would you want to be treated that way? No. So let’s not treat them that way either.”

Jesus said, amazingly, “This is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). So build this into your children early and often. When someone is different from you and you are tempted to say something or do something to them, ask: Would I want someone to say that to me or do that to me?

To be continued

- John Piper

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Sacrificial Father

This will be a blessing to you about real love between a sacrificial father and a special son named Patrick Hughes

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In my flesh I shall see God-- Job 19:26

Mark the subject of Job’s devout anticipation-- ‘I shall see God.’ He does not say, ‘I shall see the saints’, though doubtless that will be untold joy—but, ‘I shall see God.’ It is not—‘I shall see the pearly gates, I shall behold the walls of jasper, I shall gaze upon the crowns of gold,’ but ‘I shall see God.’

This is the sum and substance of heaven; this is the joyful hope of all believers. It is their delight to see him now in the ordinances by faith. They love to behold him in communion and in prayer; but there in heaven they shall have an open and unclouded vision, and thus seeing ‘him as he is,’ shall be made completely like him. Likeness to God—what can we wish for more? And a sight of God—what can we desire better? Some read the passage, ‘Yet, I shall see God in my flesh,’ and find here an allusion to Christ, as the ‘Word made flesh,’ and that glorious beholding of him which shall be the splendour of the latter days.

Whether so or not, it is certain that Christ shall be the object of our eternal vision; nor shall we ever want any joy beyond that of seeing him. Think not that this will be a narrow sphere for the mind to dwell in. It is but one source of delight, but that source is infinite. All his attributes shall be subjects for contemplation, and as he is infinite under each aspect, there is no fear of exhaustion. His works, his gifts, his love to us, and his glory in all his purposes, and in all his actions, these shall make a theme which will be ever new. The patriarch looked forward to this sight of God as a personal enjoyment. ‘Whom mine eye shall behold, and not another.’ Take realising views of heaven’s bliss; think what it will be to you. ‘Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty.’ All earthly brightness fades and darkens as we gaze upon it, but here is a brightness which can never dim, a glory which can never fade—‘I shall see God’.

- C. H. Spurgeon

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Supernatural in Preaching

C. H. Spurgeon's words

“While preaching in the hall, on one occasion, I deliberately pointed to a man in the midst of the crowd, and said, ‘There is a man sitting there, who is a shoemaker; he keeps his shop open on Sundays, it was open last Sabbath morning, he took ninepence, and there was fourpence profit out of it; his soul is sold to Satan for fourpence!’ A city missionary, when going his rounds, met with this man, and seeing that he was reading one of my sermons, he asked the question, ‘Do you know Mr. Spurgeon?’ ‘Yes,’ replied the man, ‘I have every reason to know him, I have been to hear him; and, under his preaching, by God’s grace I have become a new creature in Christ Jesus. Shall I tell you how it happened?

"I went to the Music Hall, and took my seat in the middle of the place; Mr. Spurgeon looked at me as if he knew me, and in his sermon he pointed to me, and told the congregation that I was a shoemaker, and that I kept my shop open on Sundays; and I did, sir. I should not have minded that; but he also said that I took ninepence the Sunday before, and that there was fourpence profit out of it. I did take ninepence that day, and fourpence was just the profit; but how he should know that, I could not tell. Then it struck me that it was God who had spoken to my soul through him, so I shut up my shop the next Sunday. At first, I was afraid to go again to hear him, lest he should tell the people more about me; but afterwards I went, and the Lord met with me, and saved my soul.’”

Spurgeon then adds this comment:

“I could tell as many as a dozen similar cases in which I pointed at somebody in the hall without having the slightest knowledge of the person, or any idea that what I said was right, except that I believed I was moved by the Spirit to say it; and so striking has been my description, that the persons have gone away, and said to their friends, ‘Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did; beyond a doubt, he must have been sent of God to my soul, or else he could not have described me so exactly.’ And not only so, but I have known many instances in which the thoughts of men have been revealed from the pulpit. I have sometimes seen persons nudge their neighbours with their elbow, because they had got a smart hit, and they have been heard to say, when they were going out, ‘The preacher told us just what we said to one another when we went in at the door.”

- C. H. Spurgeon

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Least of These

"And the King will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me'." - Matthew 25:40

The least--do we look for the least to befriend? Do we have an eye for the least--to spend time with them, to take an interest in them, and to do for them things they need?

Strangers--the hungry--those who always need clothing--prisoners--those lacking basic real necessities; How often do my thoughts and my heart gravitate to such people? When I see someone like that, my heart is at times moved; but what do I do about it?

The astounding statement of the Lord Jesus about this is profound and radical--"as you did it [directly minister to such people] to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me."

Doing it to Jesus? Are we? I confess I don't near enough; it's costly, at times it is time-consuming; it is sacrificial and necessitates self-denial.

Doing it to the least IS doing it to Jesus? I rarely think of it enough; when I do, and the reality sits in of how much I neglect in this regard, I have to hang my heart in poverty-stricken shame and admit, "I am not like that at all or at least, very rarely."

I love Keith Green's words in his song, I Want To Be More Like Jesus:

The end of all my prayer
Is to care like my Lord cared;
My one and only prayer
His image in my soul.

I want to, I need to, be more like Jesus
I want to, I need to, be more like Jesus.

The fact is, I am not like Him at various levels that reach the deepest part of life. I yet need to be changed so much to think like He does, to see people and situations like He does, to feel what He feels, to choose to deny self and love like He does (especially when no one is watching), and to deny myself and, with love and giving, minister to the least.

If Jesus really meant what He said, then I should be amazed and affected by the astounding fact--when I minister to the least among us, I am literally doing it unto Him.

In your church, do you gravitate to the least or do you avoid them because they are too time-consuming to get close to?

Do you have a heart to hang out with the less desirable- to have them over for a meal instead of your favorite family in the church?

Getting real is hard to do. I need to get real in this reality more and make myself think and live this way.

"If you've done it to the least of these my brothers, you've done it unto Me."

- Mack Tomlinson

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Holiness in Daily Life

True religion is intensely practical. Only, so far as it dominates one's life, is it real. We must live the Word of God a place in the hard, dusty paths of our earthly toil and struggle. We must get it written on the walls of our hearts! We must bring the Golden Rule--into our daily, actual life.

We are too apt to imagine that holiness consists in mere good feeling toward God. It does not! It consists in obedience in heart and life to the divine requirements. To be holy is, first, to be set apart for God and devoted to God's service, and it necessarily follows that we must live for God.

Our hands are God's, and can fitly be used only in doing His work; our feet are God's, and are to be employed only in walking in His ways and running His errands; our lips are God's, and should speak words only that honor Him and bless others; our hearts are God's, and must not be profaned by thoughts and affections that are not pure.

True holiness is no vague sentiment--it is intensely practical. It is nothing less than the bringing of every thought and feeling and act into obedience to Christ! We are quite in danger of leaving out the element of obedience in our conception of Christian living. If we do this, our religion loses its strength and grandeur and becomes weak, nerveless and forceless.

Our Christianity must touch every part of our life and transform it all into the beauty of holiness.

- J. R. Miller

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

He Who Holds the Pruning Knife

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. . . . He prunes every branch that produces fruit, so that it will produce more fruit." John 15:1-2

Our Father is the gardener; we are branches under His care. He watches over our lives. The painful afflictions which cut into our very souls, the taking from us of objects that are dear to us, as when the gardener with his sharp knife removes luxuriant branches from the vine--are our Father's prunings! No hand but His ever holds the knife! We are sure, then, that there is never any careless cutting, any unwise or mistaken pruning, any needless removing of rich branches or growths.

We really need to go no farther than this. A strong, abiding confidence that all the trials, sorrows and losses of our lives--all parts of our Father's prunings--ought to silence every question, quiet every fear and give peace and restful assurance to our hearts, in all their pain. We cannot know the reason for the painful strokes, but we know that He who holds the pruning-knife is our Father! That is all we need to know.

The other thought in the Lord's parable, is scarcely less full of comfort to a Christian. Jesus says, that it is the fruitful branches which the Father prunes: "He prunes every branch that produces fruit, so that it will produce more fruit."

Afflictions are not, then, a mark of God's anger or disapproval; rather, they are a mark of His favor. The branches into which He cuts, from which he trims away the luxuriant growths, are fruit-bearing already. He does not prune the fruitless branches--He cuts them off altogether as useless, as mere cumberers, absorbing life and yielding nothing of blessing or good.

Some Christians have the impression that their many troubles indicate that God does not love them--that they cannot be true Christians, or they would not be so chastened. This teaching of Christ shows how mistaken they are. The much chastening shows that the Father is pruning His fruitful branch to make it more fruitful! All whom the Father loves--He chastens!

It is the fruitless branch that is never pruned; the fruitful branch is pruned, and pruned--not by one without skill, not by an enemy--but by the wise Father!Thus we see how we may rejoice, even in our trials and afflictions!

One who was altogether ignorant of the art and purpose of pruning, who should see a man with a sharp knife cutting off branch after branch of a luxuriant vine, would at first suppose that the pruner was ruining the vine. So at the time it seems. But by and by, it appears that the prunings have made the vine more fruitful. In the season of vintage, the grapes are more luscious, with a richer flavor in them--because of the cutting away of the superfluous branches.

In like manner, if an angel who had never witnessed anything of human suffering and who knew nothing of its object, were to see the Father causing pain and affliction to His children, it would seem to him that these experiences could be only destructive of happiness and blessing; but if the angel were to follow those chastened lives on to the end, he would see untold blessing coming out of the chastenings! The Father was but pruning the branches, that they might bear more and better fruit!

We should never lose sight of the divine purpose in all trials--to make our lives more fruitful.

- J. R. Miller

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Good Friend of Affliction

"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your Word." Psalm 119:67

"It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn Your statutes." Psalm 119:71

By affliction, the Master Artist is adding some new touch of loveliness to the picture He is bringing out in our souls.

Afflictions, when sanctified, always temper worldly ambitions, burn out the dross of selfishness, humble pride, quell fierce passions, reveal the evil in our hearts, manifest our weaknesses, faults, and blemishes, teach patience and submission, discipline unruly spirits, deepen and enrich our graces.

Afflictions, when sanctified, plough the hard soil and cut long and deep furrows in the heart. The heavenly Sower follows, and fruits of righteousness spring up. "No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
Hebrews 12:11

Affliction is a messenger of God, sent to minister to us in the best of ways! When under God's chastening hand, we should ask:

What would God have this sorrow do for me?
What is its mission?
What its great design?
What golden fruit lies hidden in its husk?

How shall it strengthen my virtue, nerve my courage, chasten my passions, purify my love, and make me like Him who bore the cross of sorrow while He lived, and hung and bled upon it when He died, and now wears the victor's crown in glory?

- J. R. Miller

Monday, January 11, 2010

Better is the End

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof. - Ecclesiates 7:8

Look at David’s Lord and Master, Christ Jesus; see his beginning. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Would you see the end? He sits at his Father’s right hand, expecting until his enemies be made his footstool.

‘As he is, so are we also in this world.’ You must bear the cross, or you shall never wear the crown; you must wade through the mire, or you shall never walk the golden pavement. Cheer up, then, poor Christian. ‘Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.’ See that creeping worm, how contemptible its appearance! It is the beginning of a thing. Mark that insect with gorgeous wings, playing in the sunbeams, sipping at the flower bells, full of happiness and life; that is the end thereof. That caterpillar is yourself, until you are wrapped up in the chrysalis of death; but when Christ shall appear you shall be like him, for you shall see him as he is.

Be content to be like him, a worm and no man, that like him you may be satisfied when you wake up in his likeness. That rough looking diamond is put upon the wheel of the lapidary. He cuts it on all sides. It loses much—much that seemed costly to itself. The king is crowned; the diadem is put upon the monarch’s head with trumpet’s joyful sound. A glittering ray flashes from that coronet, and it beams from that very diamond which was just now so sorely vexed by the lapidary. You may venture to compare yourself to such a diamond, for you are one of God’s people; and this is the time of the cutting process.

Let faith and patience have their perfect work, for in the day when the crown shall be set upon the head of the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, one ray of glory shall stream from you. ‘They shall be mine,’ saith the Lord, ‘in the day when I make up my jewels.’ ‘Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.’

- C. H. Spurgeon

The Second Coming of Christ

"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory!" Mark 13:26

The second coming of Christ shall be utterly unlike His first coming.

He came the first time in weakness, as a tender infant, born of a poor woman in a manger at Bethlehem, unnoticed, unhonored, and scarcely known.

He shall come the second time in royal dignity, with the armies of heaven around Him, to be known, recognized and feared, by all the tribes of the earth!

He came the first time to suffer to bear our sins, to be reckoned a curse, to be despised, rejected, unjustly condemned and slain.

He shall come the second time to put down every enemy beneath His feet, to take the kingdoms of this world for His inheritance, to rule them with righteousness, to judge all men and to reign forevermore!

How vast the difference! How mighty the contrast!

"Behold, I am coming soon!" Revelation 22:12

- J. C. Ryle

Friday, January 8, 2010

Truth is the Currency of our Lives

I recently heard the following cynical quip: How can you tell when a politician is lying? When he opens his mouth. People are increasingly disillusioned with politicians and the whole political system. The dramatically low turnouts at local and general elections only confirm how jaundiced many have become with politics. It's not that people don't care as such; their indifference is their comment on the sleazy image and self-serving spin-doctoring that is reducing politics to a comic side-show. The famous moment when George Bush Sr. declared, "Watch my lips", came back to haunt him, because his actions could not live up to his promise. Why mention this? For one reason: whatever else Christians are to be, they are to be men and women of integrity. Our words are to mean what they say. Truth is to be the currency of our lives.

Paul was conscious of the temptation to engage in self-promoting flattery, but he resisted the temptation with all his might. He told the Corinthians, "we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." Plain, unadorned truth was the hallmark of his life and ministry. There were to be no hidden corners, no clandestine agendas, no self-promoting spin-doctoring. God's truth was to be spoken plainly, "before God, with sincerity, like men sent from God" (2 Corinthians 2:17).

The culture of Paul's age and that of our own, have much in common. Both were obsessed with how things appeared. How you looked and how you sounded were matters of the greatest importance. Who you were and what you said, mattered much less. Image was everything. The sad, and tragic thing, was that some Christians (the Corinthians) were being taken in by this shallowness. There were men in Corinth, "masquerading as apostles of Christ." They cut a fine figure, they spoke with self-promoting, and Paul-deprecating, eloquence. They were "deceitful workmen", whose words and lives were a charade, as insubstantial as candyfloss. But they deceived many in Christ's church.

We are all susceptible, almost unbeknown to ourselves, to being taken in by candyfloss Christianity, where image and appearance are more attractive than the proclamation and living of God's unadorned truth. We live in a generation which has preferred image to substance, and now complains that its politicians are all image and no substance. Will we never learn that we reap what we sow!

Whatever else the Church should be noted for, we should be noted for truth, the speaking of it and the living of it. Truth is to be the single currency of the Kingdom of Christ. Truth, God's infallible Word, and a life moulded by that Word, is the great weapon the believer is called to wield in the battle against sin and Satan. Paul told the Corinthians, "as servants of God we commend ourselves... in truthful speech and in the power of God" - because where the truth of God is, there his power will also be.

Are we men and women of truth? Is truth in your "inward parts?" for God "desires truth in the inner parts!" May our good and gracious God deliver his church, you and me, from all "spiritual spin." May we be known as men and women who are full of grace and truth, whose word and promises are "yes, and yes again, in Jesus Christ." Truth spoken plainly and graciously, is God's principal means for commending the gospel and glorifying his Son. Let it be the single currency of all our lives.

- Ian Hamilton

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Some Thoughts On Reading

I've been thinking again about the importance of reading and writing. There are several reasons I write. One of the most personally compelling is that I read. I mean, my main spiritual sustenance comes by the Holy Spirit from reading. Therefore reading is more important to me than eating. If I went blind, I would pay to have someone read to me. I would try to learn Braille. I would buy "books on tape." I would rather go without food than go without books. Therefore, writing feels very lifegiving to me, since I get so much of my own life from reading.

Combine this with what Paul says in Ephesians 3:3-4, "By revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ." The early church was established by apostolic writing as well as apostolic preaching. God chose to send his living Word into the world for 30 years, and his written Word into the world for 2000+ years.

Think of the assumption behind this divine decision. People in each generation would be dependent on those who read. Some people, if not all, would have to learn to read -- and read well, in order to be faithful to God.

So it has been for thousands of years. Generation after generation has read the insights of its writers. This is why fresh statements of old truth are always needed. Without them people will read error. Daniel Webster once said,

"If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be; if God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will."

Millions of people are going to read. If they don't read contemporary Christian books, they are going to read contemporary secular books. They will read. It is amazing to watch people in the airports. At any given moment there must be hundreds of thousands of people reading just in airports. One of the things we Christians need to be committed to, besides reading, is giving away solid books to those who might read them, but would never buy them.

The ripple effect is incalculable. Consider this illustration:

A book by Richard Sibbes, one of the choicest of the Puritan writers, was read by Richard Baxter, who was greatly blessed by it. Baxter then wrote his call to the Unconverted which deeply influenced Philip Doddridge, who in turn wrote The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul. This brought the young William Wilberforce, subsequent English statesman and foe of slavery, to serious thoughts of eternity. Wilberforce wrote his Practical Book of Christianity which fired the soul of Leigh Richmond. Richmond, in turn, wrote The Dairyman's Daughter, a book that brought thousands to the Lord, helping Thomas Chalmers the great preacher, among others.

It seems to me that in a literate culture like ours, where most of us know how to read and where books are available, the Biblical mandate is: keep on reading what will open the Holy Scriptures to you more and more. And keep praying for Bible-saturated writers. There are many great old books to read. But each new generation needs its own writers to make the message fresh. Read and pray. And then obey.

- John Piper

If you don't know what to read this year, ask me. -- Mack T.

George Muller's Words, spoken at a New Year's Service, 1859

We have, through the goodness of the Lord, been permitted to enter upon another year, and the minds of many among us will no doubt be occupied with plans for the future, and the various fears of our work and service for the Lord. If our lives are spared, we shall be engaged in many things--the welfare of our families, the prosperity of our business, and our work and service for Christ, which may be considered the most important matters to be attended to.

But according to my judgement, the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things, see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, and the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life. This has been my firm and settled condition for the last thirty-five years. For the first four years after my conversion, I knew not its vast importance, but now after much experience, I especially commend this point to the notice of my younger brothers and sisters in Christ: the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, and having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself.

But in what way shall we attain to this settled happiness of soul? How shall we learn to enjoy God? How shall we obtain such an all-sufficient soul-satisfying portion in Him, as shall enable us to let go the things of this world as vain and worthless in comparison? I answer, This happiness is to be obtained through the study of the Holy Scriptures. God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ.

In the Scriptures, by the power of the Holy Ghost, He makes Himself known unto our souls. . . . Therefore the very earliest portion of the day we can command should be devoted to the meditation on Scriptures. Our souls should feed upon the Word. . . . This intimate experimental acquaintance with Him will make us truly happy. Nothing else will. In God our Father and the blessed Jesus, our souls have a rich, divine, imperishable, eternal treasure. Let us enter into practical possession of these true riches; yea, let the remaining days of our earthily pilgrimage be spent in an ever-increasing, devoted, earnest consecration of our souls to God.

- George Mueller

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Living the Christian Life

"Whoever claims to live in Him, must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6

We have only successfully acquired the art of living the Christian life when we have learned to apply the principles of biblical religion, and enjoy its help and comfort in our daily life.

It is easy to have daily devotions, to quote Bible promises, and to talk about the beauty of the Scriptures. But there are many who do these things, yet their religion utterly fails them in the very places and at the very times when it ought to be their strength!

All of us must go out from the sweet services of Sunday into a week of very real, commonplace life. We must mingle with people who are not angels! We must pass through experiences that will naturally worry and vex us. Those around us at times annoy and try us! We will meet many troubles and worries in ordinary week-day life. There are continual irritations and annoyances!

The problem is to live a real Christian life in the face of all these hindrances! How can we get through the tangled briers which grow along our path without having our hands and feet torn by them? How can we live sweetly amid the vexing and irritating things, and the multitude of little worries and frets which infest our way, and which we cannot evade?

It is not enough merely to 'get along any way we can', to drag to the close of each long, wearisome day, and happy when night comes to end the strife. Life should be a joy and not a burden. We should live victoriously, ever master of our experiences, and not tossed by them like a leaf on the dashing waves. Every earnest Christian wants to live a truly beautiful life, whatever the circumstances may be.

A little child, when asked 'what it was to be a Christian,' replied, "For me, to be a Christian is to live as Jesus would live--and behave as Jesus would behave--if He were a little girl and lived at our house."

No better definition of the Christian life could be given. Each one of us is to live just as Jesus would--if He were living out our little life in the midst of its actual environment, mingling with the same people with whom we must mingle, and exposed to the very annoyances, trials and provocations to which we are exposed. We want to live a life that will please God, and that bears witness to the genuineness of our faith and godliness.

"Leaving you an example--that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

- J. R. Miller

Monday, January 4, 2010

Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah - by William Williams

Throughout the centuries the Welsh people have been recognized as one of the most enthusiastic groups of singers in the world. From the days of the Druids, Wales has been a land of song. To this day, they still conduct an International Eisteddfodd (singing festival) at Llangollen. This hymn is a product of that fine musical heritage.

During the early part of the eighteenth century, a young Welsh preacher, Howell Harris, was stirring Wales with his evangelistic preaching and congregational singing. In England, the Wesleys and George Whitefield were conducting similar revivals and outdoor campaigns. One of the lives touched by Harris’s preaching was William Williams. Prior to this time, Williams had been preparing for the medical profession, but upon hearing a sermon by Harris, young Williams gave his heart and life to God and decided to enter the ministry. He served two parishes in the Anglican Church for a time, but never felt at ease in the established, ritualistic church. Like Harris, he decided to take all of Wales as his parish and for the next forty-three years traveled nearly 100,000 miles on horseback, preaching and singing the gospel in his native tongue. Though he suffered many hardships, he was affectionately known as the “sweet singer of Wales.” Throughout Wales he was respected as a persuasive preacher, yet it is said that the chief source of his influence was his hymns. He wrote approximately 800 of them, all in Welsh. One hymnologist has said, “What Isaac Watts has been to England, that and more has William Williams been to Wales.” Unfortunately, most of Williams’s hymns are untranslated, and this is the only hymn for which he is widely known today.

“Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” first appeared in a hymnal published by Williams in Bristol, England, in 1745. It originally consisted of five six-line stanzas and was entitled “Strength to Pass Through the Wilderness.” In 1771 another hymnal was published by Peter Williams (no relation) in which he translated into English stanzas 1, 3, 5. A year later the original author, William Williams, or possibly his son John, made another English version using Peter Williams’s first stanza, then translating stanzas three and four of the original hymn and adding a new fourth verse. Most hymnals today make use of only three of these stanzas.

The imagery of the hymn is drawn wholly from the Bible. The hymn compares the forty-year journey of the Israelites to the promised land with the living of a Christian life as a “pilgrim[age] through this barren land.” Note the symbolic phrases used throughout: “bread of heaven” (manna), “crystal fountain” (I Corinthians 10:3, 4), “fire and cloudy pillar,” “verge of Jordan,” “Canaan’s Side.” The tune for this text was written in 1907 by John Hughes, a noted Welsh composer of a number of Sunday School marches, anthems and hymn tunes. This particular tune was written especially for the annual Baptist Cymnfa Ganu (singing festival) at Capel Rhondda, Pontypridd, Wales, and was printed in leaflets for that occasion. The text with this tune is still one of the most popular and widely used hymns in Wales. It is not at all uncommon even today for a large crowd at some public event such as a rugby match to burst into the spontaneous singing of this hymn. The strong symbolic text with its virile tune has had great universal appeal, evidenced by the fact that the hymn has been translated into over seventy-five different languages.

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand.

Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more,
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.

Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my strength and shield;
Be Thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Bear me thro’ the swelling current,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.

Songs and praises, songs and praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.

- Kenneth Osbeck

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bob Jennings sharing briefly on God at work in revival; truly worth watching!

Bob Jennings sharing briefly on God at work in revival; truly worth watching;

Ten Questions for the New Year

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. "Consider your ways!" (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It's so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we're going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

- Don Whitney

These statistics are the book: Slavery, Terrorism, and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat by Peter Hammond.

These statistics are the book: Slavery, Terrorism, and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat by Peter Hammond.

Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. The religious component is a beard for all of the other components.

Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their religious privileges.

When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree to Muslim demands for their religious privileges, some of the other components tend to creep in as well.

Here's how it works:

As long as the Muslim population remains around or under 2% in any given country, they will be for the most part be regarded as a peace-loving minority, and not as a threat to other citizens. This is the case in:

United States -- Muslim 0.6%
Australia -- Muslim 1.5%
Canada -- Muslim 1.9%
China -- Muslim 1.8%
Italy -- Muslim 1.5%
Norway -- Muslim 1.8%

At 2% to 5%, they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups, often with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs. This is happening in:

Denmark -- Muslim 2%
Germany -- Muslim 3.7%
United Kingdom -- Muslim 2.7%
Spain -- Muslim 4%
Thailand -- Muslim 4.6%

From 5% on, they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population. For example, they will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature halal on their shelves -- along with threats for failure to comply. This is occurring in:

France -- Muslim 8%
Philippines -- 5%
Sweden -- Muslim 5%
Switzerland -- Muslim 4.3%
The Netherlands -- Muslim 5.5%
Trinidad & Tobago -- Muslim 5.8%

At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves (within their ghettos) under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islamists is to establish Sharia law over the entire world.

When Muslims approach 10% of the population, they tend to increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions. In Paris, we are already seeing car-burnings. Any non-Muslim action offends Islam and results in uprisings and threats, such as in Amsterdam, with opposition to Mohammed cartoons and films about Islam. Such tensions are seen daily, particularly in Muslim sections in:

Guyana -- Muslim 10%
India -- Muslim 13.4%
Israel -- Muslim 16%
Kenya -- Muslim 10%
Russia -- Muslim 15%

After reaching 20%, nations can expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings, and the burnings of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, such as in:

Ethiopia -- Muslim 32.8%

At 40%, nations experience widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks, and ongoing militia warfare, such as in:

Bosnia -- Muslim 40%
Chad -- Muslim 53.1%
Lebanon -- Muslim 59.7%

From 60%, nations experience unfettered persecution of non-believers of all other religions (including non-conforming Muslims), sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon, and Jizya, the tax placed on infidels, such as in:

Albania -- Muslim 70%
Malaysia -- Muslim 60.4%
Qatar -- Muslim 77.5%
Sudan -- Muslim 70%

After 80%, expect daily intimidation and violent jihad, some State-run ethnic cleansing, and even some genocide, as these nations drive out the infidels, and move toward 100% Muslim, such as has been experienced and in some ways is on-going in:

Bangladesh -- Muslim 83%
Egypt -- Muslim 90%
Gaza -- Muslim 98.7%
Indonesia -- Muslim 86.1%
Iran -- Muslim 98%
Iraq -- Muslim 97%
Jordan -- Muslim 92%
Morocco -- Muslim 98.7%
Pakistan -- Muslim 97%
Palestine -- Muslim 99%
Syria -- Muslim 90%
Tajikistan -- Muslim 90%
Turkey -- Muslim 99.8%
United Arab Emirates -- Muslim 96%

100% will usher in the peace of 'Dar-es-Salaam' -- the Islamic House of Peace. Here there's supposed to be peace, because everybody is a Muslim, the Madrasses are the only schools, and the Koran is the only word, such as in:

Afghanistan -- Muslim 100%
Saudi Arabia -- Muslim 100%
Somalia -- Muslim 100%
Yemen -- Muslim 100%

Unfortunately, peace is never achieved, as in these 100% states the most radical Muslims intimidate and spew hatred, and satisfy their blood lust by killing less radical Muslims, for a variety of reasons.

'Before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; the tribe against the world, and all of us against the infidel. -- Leon Uris, 'The Haj'

It is important to understand that in some countries, with well under 100% Muslim populations, such as France, the minority Muslim populations live in ghettos, within which they are 100% Muslim, and within which they live by Sharia Law. The national police do not even enter these ghettos. There are no national courts, nor schools, nor non-Muslim religious facilities. In such situations, Muslims do not integrate into the community at large. The children attend madrasses. They learn only the Koran. To even associate with an infidel is a crime punishable with death. Therefore, in some areas of certain nations, Muslim Imams and extremists exercise more power than the national average would indicate.

Today's 1.5 billion Muslims make up 22% of the world's population. But their birth rates dwarf the birth rates of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and all other believers. Muslims will exceed 50% of the world's population by the end of this century.

So, is it not interesting that the following is already true:
Obama appoints two devout Muslims to Homeland Security posts. Doesn't this make you feel safer already?

Obama and Janet Napolitano appoint Arif Alikhan, a devout Muslim, as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano swore in Kareem Shora, a devout Muslim who was born in Damascus, Syria, as ADC National Executive Director as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC).

Friday, January 1, 2010

Two Hymns for your New Year

O, God, Our Help in Ages Past

O, God, our help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come;
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne,
Still may we dwell secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame;
From everlasting Thou art God
To endless years the same.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten as a dream,
Dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come;
Be Thou our guide while life shall last,
And our eternal home.

- Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

When All Thy Mercies, O My God

When all thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I'm lost,
In wonder, love, and praise.

Unnumbered comforts to my soul,
Thy tender care bestowed;
Before my infant heart conceived,
From whom those comforts flowed.

When worn with sickness oft hast Thou
With health renewed my face;
And, when in sins and sorrows bowed,
Revived my soul with grace.

Thru every period of my life,
Thy goodness I'll pursue;
And after death, in distant worlds,
The glorious theme renew.

- Joseph Addison (1672-1719)