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Quotes

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.

May 22, 2011

There has been lots to learn in reading Iain Murray’s soon-to-be-released biography of John MacArthur. A couple of days ago I read the chapter that looks at MacArthur’s wife, Patricia. Here Murray turns to John Watson and Charles Spurgeon as they speak of the value of a godly wife in the ministry of a pastor. Here is just a small portion of what he says:


If whom we marry is the next most important thing to conversion itself, it is doubly so for every pastor. John Watson, advising students for the ministry at this point, warned that of all men “they ought to be most careful in the choice of a wife, for she may be either a help or a hindrance not merely to his comfort but to his work.” A good wife, he continued,

advises her husband on every important matter, and often restrains him from hasty speech … receives him weary, discouraged, irritable, and sends him out again strong, hopeful, sweet-tempered. The woman is in the shadow and the man stands in the open, and it is not until the woman dies and the man is left alone that the people or he himself knows what she has been.

MacArthur would have no doubt about the truthfulness of Watson’s words. He would go further and say with Spurgeon,

A true wife is the husband’s better half, his flower of beauty, and his heart’s treasure. In her company he finds his earthly heaven; she is the light of his home, the comfort of his soul.

May 15, 2011

I found the following quote on Paul Martin’s blog. Paul is my colleague at Grace Fellowship Church so I’m sure he won’t mind if I “borrow” this quote. After all, I read this commentary long before he did. This comes from Richard Phillips’ commentary on Hebrews. And more precisely, it comes from Phillips comments on chapter 11. And even more precisely, it comes from the comments on verses 23 and following where the author of Hebrews turns his attention to Moses.

These are encouraging words.

This is how we pass on the faith to our children: by our words, but more pointedly by our actions. Children are either hardened by the hypocrisy of their parents, or like Moses they are inspired by the consistency between word and deed. If we are unforgiving with our children and show an unwillingness to admit our sins, then we communicate a lack of grace to them. If we spend all our money on ourselves, begrudging the church or those in need, or if we speak harshly of people, seeming to rejoice in their failures and follies, then we communicate a religion other than that of Christianity.  But when we are quick to repent and ready to forgive, when we trust the Lord for our own provision and give freely to others, and when we speak graciously of other sinners … we show our children our belief in a God who is merciful and kind and mighty to save.

May 13, 2011

I bookmarked this a while back and for some reason forgot to post it. It’s well worth a read. Walt Mueller writes a brief review of Tim Chester’s book Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free and then says this:

Chester offers up five key ingredients that must be present and in place for someone to win the battle with pornography.

1. An abhorrence of porn. You have to hate porn itself (not just the shame it brings), and long for change.

2. You must adore God. Why? Because we can be confident that He offers more than porn.

3. You must be assured of God’s grace. You are loved by God and are right with God through faith in the work of Jesus.

4. You must avoid temptation. Be committed to do all you in your power to avoid temptation, starting with the controls on your computer.

5. You must be accountable to others. You need a community of Christians who are holding you accountable and supporting you in your struggle.

Tim Chester never claims it’s easy. This isn’t a “take these five steps and everything will be just fine” treatment. No, life is messy. And Tim Chester is writing about a messy battle. It’s a battle we must understand, engage in, and fight with long-suffering intensity.

Indeed.

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