Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

March 2007

March 31, 2007

0895260786.jpgMark Steyn is a brave guy. It takes a certain kind of bravado to write a book criticizing Islam. Just a few days ago I heard an author mention a book he has written dealing with Islam, but suggested that it will only be released posthumously. Other books on the subject have been released anonymously. This is a topic many people are concerned about but which they are afraid to address. Not so, it seems, for Mark Steyn.

Bemoaning the fact that Europe has fallen under the influence of Islam and is almost certainly too far gone to recover, Steyn suggests that if any Western nations are to survive, the future will belong to America standing alone against an Islamic world. The book’s central points go something like this (and I have borrowed these from another reviewer who managed to encapsulate them very neatly):

March 30, 2007

This quote comes courtesy of D.A. Carson and the book he edited entitled Worship by the Book. It seemed appropriate in light of what I posted this morning. Carson has just defined worship and is now expanding on his definition. I have bolded the section that I found most edifying.

“In an age increasingly suspicious of (linear) thought, there is much more respect for the “feelings” of things – whether a film or a church service. It is disturbingly easy to plot surveys of people, especially young people, drifting from a church of excellent preaching and teaching to one with excellent music because, it is alleged, there is “better worship” there. But we need to think carefully about this matter. Let us restrict ourselves for the moment to corporate worship. Although there are things that can be done to enhance corporate worship, there is a profound sense in which excellent worship cannot be attained merely by pursuing excellent worship. In the same way that, according to Jesus, you cannot find yourself until you lose yourself, so also you cannot find excellent corporate worship until you stop trying to find excellent corporate worship and pursue God himself. Despite the protestations, one sometimes wonders if we are beginning to worship worship rather than worship God. As a brother put it to me, it’s a bit like those who begin by admiring the sunset and soon begin to admire themselves admiring the sunset.

This point is acknowledged in a praise chorus like “Let’s forget about ourselves, and magnify the Lord, and worship him.” The trouble is that after you have sung this repetitious chorus three of four times, you are no farther ahead. The way you forget about yourself is by focusing on God—not by singing about doing it, but by doing it. There are far too choruses and services and sermons that expand our vision of God—his attributes, his works, his character, his words. Some think that corporate worship is good because it is lively where it had been dull. But it may also be shallow where it is lively, leaving people dissatisfied and restless in a few months’ time. Sheep lie down when they are well fed (cf. Psalm 23:2); they are more likely to be restless when they are hungry. “Feed my sheep,” Jesus commanded Peter (John 21); and many sheep are unfed. If you wish to deepen the worship of the people of God, above all deepen their grasp of his ineffable majesty in his person and in all his works.

We do not expect the garage mechanic to expatiate on the wonders of his tools; we expect him to fix the car. He must know how to use his tools, but he must not lose sight of the goal. So we dare not focus on the mechanics of corporate worship and lose sight of the goal. We focus on God himself, and thus we become more godly and learn to worship—and collaterally we learn to edify one another, forbear with one another, challenge one another.”

March 30, 2007

The band All Star United has released some good and fun songs over the years. Unfortunately I’ve sometimes found them to toe the line a little bit with their humor. On the whole, though, they write some memorable songs and songs that tend to speak to some of the trends in the Christian world. They have an album coming out in a few weeks and one of the songs is called “Song of the Year.” Written by Ian Eskelin, who does most of all of the band’s writing, it pokes fun at the trend of handing out awards for the best worship music. Here is a portion of the lyrics:

This is the song of the year Let the message be clear I don’t need you to adore me Cause it’s all about God’s glory Something’s gone really wrong If we’re chasing the song of the year

Testimony Testimony
Testimony Testimony
I’ll never be the same
Holy holy worthy worthy
something something something something
That rhymes with Jesus’ name

It’s the song of the year
But God’s still unimpressed
With our radio success

This is the song of the year
Let the message be clear
I don’t need you to adore me
Cause it’s all about God’s glory
Angel choirs sing along
If it’s really the song of the year.

I think he’s onto something there. I’ve often wondered at how difficult it must be to write worship music. After all, there must be some extent to which the songwriter is always trying to write something that will be loved even more than his last big hit. When I hear the latest and greatest Chris Tomlin hit (which currently seems to be “How Great is Our God”) I wonder what he’ll write next and if it will prove to be such a popular song. I wonder if he wonders the same.

Eskelin pretty well nails a lot of what passes for worship music with his short summary: “Testimony Testimony / Testimony Testimony / I’ll never be the same / Holy holy worthy worthy / something something something something / That rhymes with Jesus’ name.” Now there is plenty of music being released these days that glories in the cross and brings honor to God. But much of it does seem to follow a formulaic, me-centered pattern. Much of it is just not worthy of the God it seeks to praise. At a recent conference John MacArthur commented on the hymns we were singing and said something to the effect that “we keep singing those old songs because no one is writing anything better.” Of course the hymns we do sing represent just a fraction of the countless thousands that were written, for only the best of them have stood the test of time. The same will prove true of the worship music being written in our day. Very few will be sung even a few years after first blowing onto the scene. Has your church sung “The Heart of Worship” lately? Didn’t think so. There are lots of good songs being written today. It’s just that we have the task of separating the small amount of wheat from the mountains of chaff. When we look to the past we find that others have already done this work for us.

I was struck by the final words of “Song of the Year”: “Angel choirs sing along / If it’s really the song of the year.” I have often wondered, during a time of worship, whether the songs we sing will find their way to heaven. Sometimes a time of worship is so intense and so beautiful that I simply can’t imagine anything could be more holy and more pure. And yet I assume that what we know and experience as worship here is only a dim reflection of what is to come. But still, if you have sat through a really good performance of Handel’s “Messiah” and the Hallelujah chorus in particular, you could certainly be forgiven for thinking that worship could hardly be more beautiful than that.

I’m going to use that as a segue to a related topic. The Ligonier Conference closed this year (as it does every year, as I understand it) with a performance of the Hallelujah chorus. This performance was based on only a few minutes of practice so it wasn’t the kind of performance that is of the highest quality. But even as the choir sang their rendition I thought to myself that pop or rock or guitar-based music just can’t capture the grandeur of this classical or baroque music. I love rock music as much as the next guy, but have to admit that it somehow just can’t quite compare to the power of a choir, an orchestra, or even a really good pipe organ. Rock music tends to rely on volume rather than grandeur. Even a not-so-great performance of the Hallelujah chorus was beautiful, at least to my ears. It is just an amazing, powerful piece of music.

All of this got me thinking today about how to discern good songs from bad. And then I thought back to a book I read a while back called Perimeters of Light, written by Elmer Towns and Ed Stetzer, both of whom are Southern Baptists. In this book they propose a seven-part music test that will help filter out songs that are unworthy of worship or inappropriate to use in worship. It goes something like this:

An Eight-Part Test

The Message Test - Does this song express the word of God? Is there a strong message and one that appeals to the new man or to the old man?

The Purpose Test - What is the purpose of this music? Was it written to lift you up or to bring you down? To make you joyful or to make you sad? Different types of song may be appropriate at different times. Obviously the very nature of music dictates that certain patterns in music have the ability to stir emotion independent of the song’s lyrical content.

The Association Test - Does the song unnecessarily identify with things, actions or people that are contrary to Scripture? An otherwise good song may have to be rejected simply because people will make inappropriate associations with it in their minds. The authors provide the example of singing “Amazing Grace” to the tune of “The Rising Sun” which is a song about drinking and gambling. As people were singing worship to the Lord they would also be thinking of the song’s original words, leading their minds to think of things that are inappropriate for a worship setting.

The Memory Test - Does the song bring back things from your past that you have left? The purpose of this test is not to guard against music that people may dislike, but to guard against music that may cause them to sin, heeding the biblical warning about not offending one’s brother. So it has less to do with taste and more to do with leading people to sin.

The Proper Emotions Test - Does the music stir our negative or lustful feelings? Amazingly enough, music does have the power, once again independently of lyric, to stir emotions to sin. If you don’t believe this, watch a room full of young people during a hard, driving rap beat, even before the words begin.

The Understanding Test - Will the listeners have a hard time understanding the message or finding the melody. Different people know and understand different types of music. People will have an easier time worshiping to a type of music that they understand. Those new believers in Papua New Guinea may have a difficult time worshiping to contemporary Christian music as they would simply not understand it. The same principle holds true with the lyrics, though I would suggest to a lesser extent, because unlike music, words are objectively true or false. If a song is strong in its theology, the people should eventually understand it, even if they do not now. With music this is not the case. Those natives will be no farther ahead if they learn to appreciate church-rock (and many would suggest, perhaps correctly, that they would actually be farther behind!).

The Music Test - This test asks if there is really “a song within the song”? Is the song singable? Does it flow from verse to verse? Does it stir the listener’s heart to join in the song? A song with beautiful words may quickly disappear from the hymn books simply because it is not singable.

So there are the seven tests suggested by the authors. Conspicuous by its absence is one I would like to add, which is:

The Excellence Test - Does the song provide God with the best music and lyrics? We should strive for excellence in all we give to God. If our giving to Him should not be half-hearted, how much less our worship?

I wanted to examine a few songs through this seven-part test (which I have expanded to eight parts) using some real-world examples. We’ll put each of three songs through this filter and see what comes out the other side. Do note that your answers and mine may vary a little bit.

“Amazing Grace” Meets “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”

When I was younger, I attended a church where the worship leader sang “Amazing Grace” to the tune of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” This was, of course, the version of the song make popular by The Tokens in 1961 and not the original which became popular as early as 1939 and which was subsequently recorded several times by a variety of artists.

  1. The Message Test - Pass. You can’t do much better than “Amazing Grace.”
  2. The Purpose Test - Pass. The music is joyful and fun, much like grace.
  3. The Association Test - Fail. People will associate this song with anything but worship.
  4. The Memory Test - Fail (though this test is somewhat subjective). But memories of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” will likely not be God-honoring
  5. The Proper Emotions Test - Pass. The emotions stirred by the music will be good.
  6. The Understanding Test - Pass. Words are easy to understand and the tune is easy to understand.
  7. The Music Test - Pass. The song is plenty singable.
  8. The Excellence Test - Pass. “Amazing Grace” is an excellent song. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is silly, but is musically sound.

So there we have it. Singing “Amazing Grace” to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is a mix of passes and fails. I would suggest that it is inappropriate for use in worship.

Psalm 23 Travels to Geneva

I struggled a little bit to think of a song that seemed to have problems opposite to the last one. A church I used to attend sang The Apostles Creed to a tune that was quite reminiscent of the old “Davy Crockett” tune, but that didn’t quite do it. But I think I found one. Psalm 23 in the Genevan Psalter is a wonderful lyric set to an awful tune.

  1. The Message Test - Pass. The words are drawn almost directly from Scripture.
  2. The Purpose Test - Pass. The song was written to honor God.
  3. The Association Test - Pass. I don’t people will associate the music to much of anything.
  4. The Memory Test - Pass. See above.
  5. The Proper Emotions Test - Fail. Psalm 23 is a beautiful and joyous Psalm, yet this tune is in minor chords.
  6. The Understanding Test - Fail. People have likely never sung Genevan tunes, and especially the more difficult ones.
  7. The Music Test - Fail. It is difficult to sing this music (which has not been popular for at least half a millennium).
  8. The Excellence Test - Fail. The lyric passes, the music fails.

In this case we have quite a mixed result. The words are consistently strong, but the music is irrelevant and very difficult to sing. And it is such a shame that one of the greatest Psalms is presented in a format that is nearly impossible to enjoy. No wonder the people in these churches do not sing it very often. I still remember the first time I sang this Psalm set to a different tune (one of the two that goes with the lyric “The Lord’s my shepherd / I’ll not want / He makes me down to lie / In pastures green / He leadeth me / The quiet waters by”). I was suddenly amazed at the beauty of the twenty-third Psalm.

“Gonna Be” Rewritten

Allow me to present a third example. In this case we’ll look at a situation I heard of recently where “Gonna Be” by The Proclaimers (“I would walk 500 miles / And I would walk 500 more / Just to be the man who walks 1000 miles / And falls down at your door”) was rewritten and sung in the worship service. There were minor lyrical changes (ie “door” was changed to “throne”), the “Da da la da” during the chorus was changed to “You are my Lord,” etc. And of course the verses about drunkeness (“When I get drunk / Yeah I know I’m gonna be / I’m gonna be the man who gets drunk next to you”) and “havering” were removed.

  1. The Message Test - Fail. There were parts that expressed theology, but in the end it’s a love song converted to a God song.
  2. The Purpose Test - Fail. The song was written, at least partially, to laugh at and celebrate drunkeness (and has recently appeared in a beer commercial here in Canada).
  3. The Association Test - Fail. The song will certainly not be associated with God.
  4. The Memory Test - Fail. I doubt many people have God-honoring memories associated with this song.
  5. The Proper Emotions Test - Pass. It’s a fun, upbeat song that could be appropriate to joyful lyrics.
  6. The Understanding Test - Pass. It’s generally easy to understand.
  7. The Music Test - Pass. The lyrics and tune are quite easy to sing.
  8. The Excellence Test - Fail. The music is fun and good, but a quick re-write of lyrics does not generally produce excellence.

This example speaks to something that is increasingly popular in contemporary churches, which is re-writing popular songs to make them “church-worthy.” I would suggest, as in the above example, that this usually fails, either because of association or because the end result is just a bad song.

So now I’ve gone from “Song of the Year” to a test that I’ve found useful in evaluating songs. It turns out that “Song of the Year” wouldn’t be appropriate for use in a worship setting!

March 30, 2007

Friday March 30, 2007

Books: From Road to Emmaus comes a worthwhile tip about getting books cheaply.

Humor: Check out step twenty in this Google map plotting the route from Chicago to London.

Theology: Jeremy Pierce on the long <a href=”http://parablemania.ektopos.com/archives/2007/03/historical_iner.html>history of people who believed in inerrancy (HT: JC).

Preaching: Adrian concludes his series on preaching.

Technology: Doug posts an ode to his spell checker.

Reminder: Don’t forget about Testimony Tuesday if you are a blogger!

March 29, 2007

I’ve been thinking for a while now that it would be interesting and beneficial to have bloggers post their testimonies to their blogs. Some have already done this, but many (myself included) have not. And yet I love testimonies and find them so beautiful and so moving. It is amazing to read about the many ways God saves His people. He uses an infinite variety of means to draw an infinite variety of His people to Himself. Testimonies stand as evidence of God’s grace, showing God’s ability and desire to save people of all types and from all walks of life. They inspire Christians to appreciate the goodness and grace of the Lord. They are also valuable for witnessing to others. So I thought I would put a challenge out for Christian bloggers to post their testimonies to their blogs next Tuesday (we can call it Testimony Tuesday). When you have done so, send me a link through email and I’ll collect them all on my site. And we can rejoice in God’s goodness together.

If you are a blog reader but not a blog owner, why not find a friend and post your testimony to his blog or in his comment section.

Just to kick things off, here is my testimony as I wrote it out when applying for membership at our church.

I can never remember a time that I did not consider myself a Christian. That is a strange way to begin a testimony, I admit, but it is the truth. And still I think my story is a testimony not to anything I’ve been or done, but to the grace of God.

I was raised in a Christian home. My parents were both first generation Christians who were converted only shortly before marrying. When I was born they were Anglican and were on the path to embracing those great doctrines of God’s grace and sovereignty. When I was only an infant they spent the better part of a year at L’Abri in England, learning about Christian doctrine and living through the children and proteges of Francis and Edith Schaeffer. Upon their return we joined a Presbyterian church and, when I was in grade school, migrated to Reformed churches in the Dutch tradition. At some point when I was only five or six years old I seemed to make a commitment to Christ. While I do not remember this, my parents do and feel that it was a genuine expression of faith. Through my childhood we went to church just about any time the doors were upon, read the Bible as a family and memorized catechisms. I also attended Christian schools where I was taught about the world through a Christian perspective and was made to learn Christian history and theology. Sadly, this theological tradition tends to assume the salvation of any born into it. It also tends to overplay the importance of corporate identity in Christ at the expense of a living, vibrant and personal faith. While my parents did much to overcome this deficiency, I always assumed I was a Christian but rarely stopped to ponder if I really was. I considered myself a believer but, in retrospect, showed very little evidence of this.

When I was fifteen or sixteen I came in contact, through a friend, with the Christian rock band Petra. He had fallen in love with their music and played one of their tapes for me. I reacted as I had been implicitly taught through the churches and schools I had been attending most of my life. I laughed and scoffed. And yet I copied a few of the songs and took them home with me. I listened to them time and again and soon bought as many of their albums as I could afford. This music did something in me that I had not expected. The music was full of “I” and “me” and personal challenges and made me consider whether I could, in good conscience, sing along with the band. The song “Underground” stands out in particular.

I won’t go underground I won’t turn and flee I won’t bow the knee I won’t go underground I won’t run and hide from the rising tide I won’t go underground I won’t compromise what the world denies I won’t go underground And I’m not ashamed of the cross I’ve claimed

Did I really have the kind of faith that would not run and hide? Was I willing to compromise? Had I really claimed the cross? Was this Christian faith really mine, or was it something I was just acting out as I imitated my parents? It seems silly, I know, that such simple songs could challenge me this deeply. And yet they did. They just simmered in my mind and in my heart.

That winter my parents decided, against my wishes, to send my brother and me to a winter retreat at a church near our cottage. This was a Reformed Presbyterian Church and the retreat drew teens from Ottawa all the way to upstate New York. That weekend I saw something that surprised me; something that was foreign to me. I saw teenagers willing to live out their faith and unashamed of doing it. I saw teenagers who did not just claim to be Christians but, to my great surprise, actually acted like Christians. This shocked me and made me uncomfortable and yet somehow it also intrigued me. I wanted whatever these kids had.

I returned to high school markedly different. I soon began to feel a distance from my friends. I began to live like a Christian more than ever before and my friends were unimpressed. They mocked me, telling me I was becoming a holy roller. Their criticism, the newfound emphasis on personally embracing the gospel and the knowledge that teens actually could live like Christians circulated in my mind. One evening, only weeks after returning from the retreat, I remember sitting in my room listening to music and reading, of all things, Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness. The book ended just as the album did. The final song on the album ended in a chorus that repeated “Let the trumpet sound throughout the universe / We proclaim the glory of the Lord / Jesus Christ has gained for us the victory / He’s already won the holy war.” Sometime inside me changed. I collapsed on my bed and told God to do with my life whatever He wanted. I had an awareness of my sin and an awareness of God’s grace that was far more prevalent than at any other time I remember before then. I don’t know if this moment marked my conversion or if it just marked the moment that I truly stepped out and made the faith of my parents my own. Either way, it was a defining moment for me and one that remains dear. I increasingly began to desire to follow hard after God. I began to see the world through the lens of Scripture and began to value what God values. My life was transformed.

I soon left both the church and school. I had to. I couldn’t be in places that dragged up bad memories and places where so many people my age acted in ways that were completely inconsistent with their profession. I had been given a new start and needed to start over in other areas as well. God so ordained it that on my very first day at my new school I met the woman who was to become my wife. We married five years later.

As I look over my life I see a testimony to God’s grace and faithfulness. By grace He saved my parents and then showed His faithfulness in answering their prayers by bringing myself and my four siblings to Himself. By grace He caused me as a young boy to cry out to Him and later to see the reality of my parent’s faith and the truth of His Word and then to turn to Him in faith and obedience. By grace He allowed my life to intersect with Aileen’s so that our two stories, our two testimonies, have now blended into one. By grace He has already begun to conform me to the image of His Son and in faith I trust that His grace will sustain me to the end. This truly is a testimony, not to anything I’ve been or done, but to the love and grace of God.

March 29, 2007

Thursday March 29, 2007

Church: Has anyone heard of these, dad and daughter purity balls?

Book: James White’s new book, written and published in just 30 days, is just about ready.

Gadget: I want one of these. I’m sure you do too.

Du Jour: John Piper writes about things his father learned.

Religion: ABC asks whether having God on a person’s side makes a difference in justifying war.

Photos: Dan Cruver has begun an interesting photo collection.

March 28, 2007

The following quote is from the pen of Horatius Bonar (1808 - 1889), the great Scottish preacher, poet, author and hymn writer.

In all unbelief there are these two things—a good opinion of one’s self and a bad opinion of God. Man’s good opinion of himself makes him think it quite possible to win God’s favor by his own religious performances; and his bad opinion of God makes him unwilling and afraid to put his case wholly into His hands. The object of the Holy Spirit’s work (in convincing of sin) is to alter the sinner’s opinion of himself, and so to reduce his estimate of his own character that he shall think of himself as God does, and so cease to suppose it possible that he can be justified by an excellency of his own. The Spirit then alters his evil opinion of God, so as to make him see that the God with whom he has to do is really the God of all grace.

But the inquirer denies that he has a good opinion of himself and owns himself a sinner. Now a man may SAY this, but really to KNOW it is something more than SAYING. Besides, he may be willing to take the name of sinner to himself, in common with his fellow-men, and yet not at all own himself such a sinner as God says he is—such a sinner as needs the cross, and blood, and righteousness of the Son of God. It takes a great deal to destroy a man’s good opinion of himself; how difficult it is to make a man think of himself as God does! What but the almightiness of the Divine Spirit can accomplish this?

Unbelief, then, is the belief of a lie and the rejection of the truth. Accept, then, the character of God as given in the gospel; the Holy Spirit will not give you peace irrespective of your views of God’s character. It is in connection with THE TRUTH concerning the true God, “the God of all grace,” that the Spirit gives peace. That which He shows us of ourselves is only evil; that which He shows us of God is only good!

Bonar insisted that no biography of his life be written and destroyed many of his personal papers lest they later be used for this purpose. Strangely, he was not always opposed to biographies and wrote three about other men of the faith. Much of what we know about him comes from his voluminous writings and his many hymns. Among the best-known of his hymns are “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.” If you want to know more about him and even purchase his life and works on CD-ROM, click here.

March 28, 2007

I was skimming headlines a few days ago and noticed a story about some activists on a college campus who were planning to cover all of the school’s mirrors for a day. I did not read long enough to see why they wanted to do this, but I assume it was somehow meant to draw attention to a problem the school or government was covering up. You know how these college-aged activists are, always thinking they are so clever and profound. But in this case they got me to thinking about life without mirrors.

Now I’m not one of those metrosexual guys who spends half of my life primping and preening in front of a mirror. My bathroom isn’t stocked with hundreds of different kinds of moisturizers, hair products and body sprays. But I still wouldn’t want to start my day without a quick peek into the mirror. I still like to make sure that my weird and wiry hair isn’t doing anything too obnoxious and that the afflictions of age (primarily those thick black hairs that seem to grow suddenly out of strange places) are not protruding from places they shouldn’t be.

There is something comforting about peering into a mirror every now and then. Certainly there is usually no reason to gaze at myself when I go into a bathroom but, like you, I always make a cursory check to ensure that nothing too weird is going on. If I eat a poppy seed bagel (my favorite!) I have to check that there isn’t a seed stuck between those two teeth that are just a tiny bit crooked and always (always!) manage to trap a seed. Few things are worse than trooping around all day and only realizing at the end of it that I’ve had a piece of parsley or spinach stuck to one of my teeth or that I’ve had a ridiculous cowlick. You know the feeling.

My personal Bible study this morning took me to the closing verses of the first chapter of James. You no doubt know these words well:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

As I read these verses and began to meditate upon them I was reminded immediately of those activists on the college campus. I realized that I would never intentionally head out to a meeting or an appointment without first checking a mirror to make sure that everything looked just about right (or as right as it can, anyways, based on what I’m working with here). Covering all the mirrors in our house would bother me! And then I was struck by the way James portrays the Bible as a mirror for the heart. I thought of how loathe I am to begin my day without peering into a mirror but how little it troubles me when I begin the day without peering into the mirror of the Word.

I know there have been times when I’ve forgotten to check a mirror before heading out. Most of the time it hasn’t mattered, but there have been a couple of occasions when I realized only when it was too late that I had forgotten to shave or that I was still showing clear evidence on my face of having eaten a chocolate cookie earlier in the day. I could have saved myself embarrassment by just checking the mirror. I know there have been times when I’ve forgotten or neglected to look into the mirror of the Word, the perfect law of liberty, to assess my heart. Most of the time it hasn’t shown, but I know there have been occasions when I gave clear evidence of this to the people I encountered. There have been other times that I’ve read the Bible, but have not allowed it to penetrate or to take hold. I’ve been just the person James warns about who “looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” I have looked quickly, glanced briefly, but have not looked long enough to allow the Scripture to reflect back to me my sin and God’s standard of holiness. I have gone merrily on my way having already forgotten to be both a hearer and a doer.

God’s Word has the unique ability to give great clarity to what God demands and expects of us. It also unmasks our sin and our rebellion. I would be a fool not to gaze into this mirror every day. I would be a fool to go about life without regularly looking into this amazing mirror.