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Quotes

July 31, 2011

This morning Joshua, our lead worshipper, introduced a new song to the congregation. An adaptation of an old Wesley hymn, it has been modernized and has been recently recorded by Matthew Smith. It is titled “Calmer Of My Troubled Heart (Hallelujah).” You can find it on his Road Sessions Collection CD.

The lyrics are simple. You can hear the melody on YouTube (this is a rough cover of the song, but I wanted to link to that rather than the album version someone else dumped on YouTube, presumably without permission).

Calmer of my troubled heart
Bid my unbelief depart
Speak, and all my sorrows cease
Speak, and all my soul is peace.

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
 Hallelujah

Comfort me when e’er I mourn
with the hope of Thy return
And til I Thy glories see
Help me believe in Thee

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
 Hallelujah

July 24, 2011

This is quite a powerful little quote from a book titled Men of The Word which is edited by Nathan Busenitz and which includes contributions from a long list of writers. This excerpt is from a chapter titled “Real Men Flee Temptation” and is written by Andrew Gutierrez.

In the first century AD, crowns were awarded to victorious military leaders, champion athletes, and dignitaries. In Paul’s farewell to his beloved disciple he wrote of receiving such a reward from Jesus Christ. Think of the impact that thought must have had on Timothy. How encouraging would it be for him to hear his mentor’s final words to him, which conveyed confidence and joy in Jesus Christ? Paul’s hope, as expressed in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, reminded his protege of the reason that he was fighting as a soldier and striving as an athlete. In spite of being in prision about to die, the apostle exulted, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” No matter what the struggles looked like for Timothy, he could overcome temptation because of the hope he had in Christ.

History tells us that Timothy died while trying to stop people from engaging in idolatry at a pagan feast. As he proclaimed the true gospel, he was severely beaten by the angry crowd and died two days later. Timothy gave up his life so that Christ would be glorified. He exhibited faithfulness and courage to the end.

As we flee from sin and pursue holiness in our own lives, let’s follow the example of Timothy. By relying on God’s strength, reminding ourselves of the gospel, and running away from sin and toward righteousness, we too can experience a life of spiritual victory. The road will not always be easy, but our faithfulness will be well-rewarded. One day, we will stand before Christ. Then sin and temptation will be no more. As we look forward to that day, we can rejoice with Paul in knowing that “the Lord will rescue [us] from every evil deed, and will bring [us] safely into His heavely kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18).

July 17, 2011

Here is a wise word from Martyn Lloyd-Jones, from his work Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure. It will help to know that the biblical context for what he is writing here is Psalm 42.

The main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. Am I just trying to be deliberately paradoxical? Far from it. This is the very essence of wisdom in this matter. Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problem of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself, ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been repressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you’. Do you know what I mean? If you do not, you have but little experience.

 
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’–what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’–instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet priase Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God’.

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).

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