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Tim Challies

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Quotes

July 10, 2011

Have you ever asked the Lord that he would teach you to grow in faith and love and grace? Have you ever asked the Lord that you might know more of him, or that he might give you the desire to more earnestly seek his face? John Newton asked this of the Lord and later wrote a hymn about it. It is not one that we tend to sing in our churches, but it is one that is worth reading as a poem. Newton was granted what he asked, but not in the way he had wanted or in the way he had expected.

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face

Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair

I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request
And by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest

Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part

Yea more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low

Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
“Tis in this way” The Lord replied
“I answer prayer for grace and faith”

“These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me,
That thou mayest seek thy all in me.”

July 03, 2011

Sirius
The exquisite star Sirius is the premier gem of our sparkling winter skies [that’s it at the top-right of the photo]. Its name means “the Sparkling or Scorching One,” although it is commonly called the Dog Star because of its location in the constellation of Canis Major, the Big Dog. Sirius is the brightest star visible from Earth (except, of course, for the Sun). This is due in part to its “nearby” location. Sirius is a mere 8.6 light years distant from the solar system. That’s the distance a light beam would travel in 8.6 years at the speed of 186,282 miles per second—about 50 trillion miles! Through careful study, astronomers have concluded that Sirius is about twice as massive as the Sun but about twenty-five times more luminous. This makes it a whopping 660,000 times more massive than Earth! It has a tiny companion star, no larger than Earth, called the “Pup,” which is a white dwarf star. More than a hundred times smaller than the Sun, it has nearly the same mass, making it extraordinarily dense. A single teaspoon of its material would weight more than fifteen hundred tons!

Psalm 19 tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God. Take any spot in the sky, and see that this is so. Whether we gaze upon stars, planets, galaxies, or nebulae, day after day and night after night they speak in loud, eloquent tongues of His power, knowledge, beauty, and glory. The Psalm says: “There is no speech, nor are there words”—what words could ever adequately describe His glory? “Yet their voice goes out through all the earth”—and results in the echoes of praise from men and women, great and small, old and young, from every nation, on every continent, in every age. Indeed, the starry heavens are declaring at this very moment that our God is magnificent beyond comprehension. Listen to them! Hear how their endless hosts strive day after day and night after night to declare the least part, the smallest measure, of His glory. It is never enough; it never will be; it never can be. He is infinite. Have you heard their voices? Have you joined their chorus?


Excerpted from The Heavens: Intimate Moments With Your Majestic God, a devotional by Kevin Hartnett. Hartnett is NASA’s Deputy Science Operations Manager for the Hubble Space Telescope. (photo credit)

June 26, 2011

I am a lover of quotes and, though I’ve never gotten too organized in managing them, I do like to collect and ponder them. Here are a few from Charles Spurgeon on a variety of topics.

To begin, a word on introspection (perhaps a good one for bloggers):

I do not believe in keeping a detailed diary of each day’s experience, for one is very apt, for want of something to put down, to write what is not true, or at least not real. I believe there is nothing more stilted or untruthful, as a general rule, than a religious diary; it easily degenerates into self-conceit.

And yet…

The other day, I saw John Wesley’s diary, or rather, horary, for it had in it not merely an entry for every day, but for every hour; and not only for every hour, but usually there was a distinct occupation for every twenty minutes. The good man made his days to have many hours in them, and his hours seemed to have more minutes in them than most men’s hours have, because he did not waste any of them, but diligently used them all in his Master’s service. 

A word on doubt:

Some of you are always fashioning fresh nets of doubt for your own entanglement. You invent snares for your own feet, and are greedy to lay more and more of them. You are mariners who seek the rocks, soldiers who court the point of the bayonet. It is an unprofitable business. Practically, mentally, morally, spiritually, doubting is an evil trade. You are like a smith, wearing out his arm in making chains with which to bind himself. Doubt is sterile, a desert without water. Doubt discovers difficulties which it never solves: it creates hesitancy, despondency, despair.

And one on sin:

As for the drops of dew twinkling in the morning light, as for the drops of the ocean making that vast flood, as for the stars of heaven, and the sand of the sea shore,—the incalculable number of all these sinks into insignificance when compared with the infinite host of our transgressions against thee, O God of heaven and earth! This very day, have there not been more sins than moments, more transgressions than heartbeats, more offences than pulses? God only knows the total of the sins of man. 

And finally, one on wisdom:

Wisdom is man’s true strength; and, under its guidance, he best accomplishes the ends of his being. Wisely handling the matter of life gives to man the richest enjoyment, and presents the noblest occupation for his powers; hence by it he finds good in the fullest sense. Without wisdom, man is as the wild ass’s colt, running hither and thither, wasting strength which might be profitably employed. Wisdom is the compass by which man is to steer across the trackless waste of life; without it he is a derelict vessel, the sport of winds and waves.  

June 24, 2011

This is an interesting little excerpt from Iain Murray’s recent biography of John MacArthur. In his Introduction Murray seeks to show what makes a man a leader among evangelicals. He offers a five-point answer:


In brief, an evangelical is a person who believes the ‘three rs’: ruin by the Fall, redemption through Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit. It follows that an ‘evangelical leader’ is a person who stands out in the advancement and defence of those truths. The title does not necessarily imply success judged by numbers and immediate results. on that basis neither Paul nor Tyndale might qualify.

June 19, 2011

This is something that seemed appropriate to share for Father’s Day. This is an excerpt from John Paton’s autobiography, an excerpt in which Paton describes leaving his home in Torthorwald to attend missionary school in Glasgow (just to get to the train he had to walk some forty miles). His godly father accompanied him for the first portion of the journey, knowing that accepting the missionary life was accepting the call to leave family and very probably never seem them again. Here is what happened:

My dear father walked with me the first six miles of the way. His counsels and tears and heavenly conversation on that parting journey are fresh in my heart as if it had been but yesterday; and tears are on my cheeks as freely now as then, whenever memory steals me away to the scene. For the last half mile or so we walked on together in almost unbroken silence - my father, as was often his custom, carrying hat in hand, while his long flowing yellow hair (then yellow, but in later years white as snow) streamed like a girl’s down his shoulders. His lips kept moving in silent prayers for me; and his tears fell fast when our eyes met each other in looks for which all speech was vain! We halted on reaching the appointed parting place; he grasped my hand firmly for a minute in silence, and then solemnly and affectionately said: “God bless you, my son! Your father’s God prosper you, and keep you from all evil!”

Unable to say more, his lips kept moving in silent prayer; in tears we embraced, and parted. I ran off as fast as I could; and, when about to turn a corner in the road where he would lose sight of me, I looked back and saw him still standing with head uncovered where I had left him - gazing after me. Waving my hat in adieu, I rounded the corner and out of sight in instant. But my heart was too full and sore to carry me further, so I darted into the side of the road and wept for time. Then, rising up cautiously, I climbed the dike to see if he yet stood where I had left him; and just at that moment I caught a glimpse of him climbing the dike and looking out for me! He did not see me, and after he gazed eagerly in my direction for a while he got down, set his face toward home, and began to return - his head still uncovered, and his heart, I felt sure, still rising in prayers for me. I watched through blinding tears, till his form faded from my gaze; and then, hastening on my way, vowed deeply and oft, by the help of God, to live and act so as never to grieve or dishonor such a father and mother as he had given me.

June 18, 2011

Here’s a thought-provoking quote from Todd Gitlin, author of Media Unlimited. In just a few words he shows the emptiness of the pursuit of more and the emptiness of the promise of consumerism. But mostly this quote revolves around the amazing phrase, “broken promises ever renewed.”


[T]he Great Depression was a turning point, frightening workers with the burden of an impoverished free time. After World War II, pent-up consumer demand for a high-consumption way of life was boosted by government subsidies (via the low-interest mortgages and expensive highways that helped suburbanize the country). The die was cast: the public would choose money over time, preferring to seek its pleasures and comforts in the purchase of goods guaranteed to grow ever more swiftly obsolescent rather than in the search for collective leisure—or civic virtue…

Of course, the curious thing about consumer pleasures is that they don’t last. The essence of consumerism is broken promises ever renewed. The modern consumer is a hedonist doomed to economically productive disappointment, experiencing, as sociologist Colin Campbell writes, “a state of enjoyable discomfort.” You propel your daydreams forward, each time attaching them to some longed-for object, a sofa, CD player, kitchen, sports car, only to unhook the desires from the objects once they are in hand. Even high-end durable goods quickly outwear the thrill of their early arrival, leaving consumers bored—and available. After each conquest comes a sense of only limited satisfaction—and the question, what next?

June 17, 2011

Yesterday I shared a quote from Tim Chester’s book A Meal with Jesus. At the risk of offending the publisher (or the author) I would like to share another one. This one speaks about the value of recapturing our dependence upon God for our daily bread—something that is difficult in a Walmart world.


Eating is an expression of our dependence. God made us in such a way that we need to eat. We’re embedded in creation; this means that every time we eat, we’re reminded of our dependence on others. Few of us eat food we ourselves have grown and cooked. Even the more self-sufficient among us still rely on other people. Food forces us to live in community, to share, to cooperate, and to trade. In all societies there’s a division of labor, which means we work together to provide the food we need. The division of labor frees us from constant hunting and gathering to develop science and art. A humble loaf of bread expresses the mandate God gave humanity to develop agriculture, technology, society, commerce, and culture.

Above all, food expresses our dependence on God. Only God is self-sufficient. We are creatures, and every moment we’re sustained by him. Even our rebellion against him is only possible because he holds the fabric of our universe together by his powerful word. Our shouts of defiance against God are only possible with the breath he gives.

Every time we eat, we celebrate again our dependence on God and his faithfulness to his creation. Every time. Food is to be received with gratitude. “Taking the five loves … he gave thanks” (Luke 9:16 NIV).

June 12, 2011

Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God. But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

June 05, 2011

Hudson TaylorOver the weekend I have been reading Vance Christie’s account of the life of Hudson Taylor (Hudson Taylor: Gospel Pioneer to China). This is, to my recollection, the first biography of Taylor I have ever read. Missionary biographies always give me a lot to consider and this one has been no exception. As with so many missionaries, and perhaps especially missionaries of that era, Taylor suffered greatly, eventually burying his first wife and four of their young children in China. One of the most heart-rending portions of the book is when his beloved eight-year-old daughter Grace, who seems to have had a precocious faith for a child of that age, very suddenly developed a high fever and was diagnosed with meningitis.

A few days after Grace was taken ill, and when it was clear that she was dying, Hudson wrote to his friend William Berger.

I know not how to write or how to refrain. I seem to be writing, almost, from the inner chamber of the King of kings. Surely this is holy ground. I am trying to pen a few lines by the couch on which my darling little Gracie lies dying. Her complaint is hydrocephalus. Dear brother, our flesh and our heart fail, but God is the strength of our heart and our portion for ever.

It was no vain nor unintelligent act when, knowing this land, its people and climate, I laid my wife and children, with myself, on the altar for this service. And He Whom so unworthily, with much of weakness and failure, yet in simplicity and godly sincerity, we are and have been seeking to serve, and not without some measure of success—He has not left us now.

Grace developed pneumonia and died about a week later. The next month Hudson, still grieving, wrote to his mother.

Except when diverted from it by the duties and necessities of our position, our torn hearts will revert to the one subject, and I know now how to write to you of any other. Our dear little Gracie! How we miss her sweet voice in the morning, one of the first sounds to greet us when we woke—and through the day and at eventide! As I take the walks I used to take with her tripping at my side, the thought comes anew like a throb of agony, ‘Is it possible that I shall never more feel the pressure of that little hand, never more hear the sweet prattle of those dear lips, never more see the sparkle of those bright eyes?’ And yet she is not lost. I would not have her back again. I am thankful she was taken, rather than any of the others, though she was the sunshine of our lives…. But she is far holier, far happier than she could ever have been here.

Hudson counted the cost when he took the gospel to a foreign land. The cost was excruciatingly high, but Hudson was sustained by the One who sent him.

May 29, 2011

Holiness
The holiness of God is his glory and crown. It is the blessedness of his nature. It renders him glorious in himself, and glorious to his creatures. “Holy” is more fixed as an epithet to his name than any other. This is his greatest title of honor. He is pure and unmixed light, free from all blemish in his essence, nature, and operations. He cannot be deformed by any evil. The notion of God cannot be entertained without separating from him whatever is impure and staining. Though he is majestic, eternal, almighty, wise, immutable, merciful, and whatsoever other prefections may dignify so sovereign a being, yet if we conceive him destitute of this excellent perfection, and imagine him possessed with the least contagion of evil, we make him but an infinite monster, and sully all those perfections we ascribed to him before.

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