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Quotes

December 26, 2010

You know that I like to go looking for prayers to post on Sunday (or even better, to pray on my own on Sundays). Here is one I came across a few days ago, one that shares the grief and bewilderment of a father’s heart as he ponders the imminent death of his son. It is a prayer that comes from a place of great pain, but one that also comes from a deep-rooted faith that God is good and that God does only what is good. It gives me hope that even in the midst of such pain, God would bolster my faith to trust in him.

Lord, you know my heart; you know everything about me.  It is early morning right now and on this morning, I need you so desperately.  You know I am in knots and anxious; you know I am not the strong one, but You are.  I need you to be my hiding place today; my shelter and the place where you hide me in the cleft of the rock when you pass by and show us your glory.  For today is something I am dreading beyond anything I have had to face.

Daddy, I’m weak.  I have nothing good I can give you; no reservoir of strength within me that would spark any sort of hope to get through what could possibly happen today.

Everything is from you; in you is my breathe, my being, my movement and my reality.  I must confess that though I have wanted to be as strong as others see me as, the very real reality is that I am frail and foolish; you are the strong One.  For you are my tower, my fortress, my rock that I cling to today.  I know in my weakness, in my poorness of spirit, in my emptiness of self you shine through and fill me.  Lord, it is YOU; all you that empowers us and gives us strength.  Let THAT testimony be shouted from the rooftops.  Our GOD IS FAITHFUL.  You have gotten me through yesterday, last week, last year and thus far in my life.  You have blessed others with your Spirit, your breathe, your strength and your comfort in their lifetimes and I trust that you are the same yesterday, today and forever.  You are indeed the Alpha and Omega of my life, and you INDEED created Samuel fearfully and WONDERFULLY in the womb of Kelly.  God, THIS is your truth!

Read More at Loth Blogs.

December 19, 2010

This is an interesting prayer I came across this week—a prayer obviously timed for the Christmas season. It was prayed in a service at All Souls Church, Langham Place (which is in London, England).

We come together humbly to the Lord of Glory and the Prince of Peace.
Lord Jesus Christ, Creator, Author, and Redeemer, we pray that our few concentrated minutes consciously in your presence would please you and humble us.

We acknowledge you as Creator, who precedes and sustains everything
- as Visitor in Bethlehem who is truly adorable
- as Author not of fairy tales but of reality
- as Redeemer who dies to make us whole

So, convince us that this Christmas news is the best news ever
- that though you are high yet you are lowly
- that though you are defined by eternity yet you are couched in humanity
- that though you are cramped in obscurity yet your glory is for all who have eyes to see

Convince us
- that our freedom is born in a stable and secured at the Cross
- that all other supposed solutions are false avenues in the light of your beauty and grace
- that our very life depends on you

Refresh our hearts in wonder and loose our tongues in songs of joy
We worship you afresh
Lord of Glory and Prince of Peace

Our living God is not remote, uncaring or idle
but who is engaging, outgoing and active
We, His people are called to be like Him
Let’s pray that we may reflect Him more accurately

Lead us your people to shine in the mess of the world
Lead us in humble service
Lead us in courageous abandonment of life and reputation

Strengthen our mission partners all over the world
We pray for all in danger or hardship that they may be renewed in courage, faith and hope.

And we pray for the multifaceted nature of our church here in London,
that we might be filled with His energy, His love and His humility.
So make the stable our context and the real world our activity centre.
Lord of Glory, Prince of Peace
Hear our prayers

December 18, 2010

A few days ago I received an email from a reader of this site, a woman who was responding to some of the articles I’ve written on the subject of pornography. She shared a poem, a bit of free verse she had written in the midst of her husband’s addiction. I wish I could say it was the only email I’ve received from such a woman. Sadly it’s not; not by a long shot. That same day I received another email from another woman looking for resources for dealing with the wife’s response to a husband’s sin (rather a gap in the available literature right now, I think).

Anyway, I thought I would share this poem. It’s a little bit graphic, but only so far as it needs to be. I think it’s particularly heartbreaking in drawing out the clear connection between pornography and violence. And it’s just a realistic look at how so many men are damaging and destroying their wives and families. It’s reality.

So here it is, “I Looked For Love in Your Eyes.”

I saved my best for you.
Other girls may have given themselves away,
But I believed in the dream.
A husband, a wife, united as one forever.

Nervous, first time, needing assurance of your love,
I looked for it in your eyes
Mere inches from mine.
But what I saw made my soul run and hide.

Gone was the tenderness I’d come to know
I saw a stranger, cold and hard
Distant, evil, revolting.
I looked for love in your eyes
And my soul wept.

Who am I that you cannot make love to me?
Why do I feel as if I’m not even here?
I don’t matter.
I’m a prop in a filthy play.
Not an object of tender devotion.

Where are you?

Years pass
But the hardness in your eyes does not.
You think I’m cold
But how can I warm to eyes that are making hate to someone else
Instead of making love to me?

I know where you are.
I’ve seen the pictures.
I know now what it takes to turn you on.
Women…people like me
Tortured, humiliated, hated, used
Discarded.
Images burned into your brain.
How could you think they would not show in your eyes?

Did you ever imagine,
The first time you picked up a dirty picture
That you were dooming all intimacy between us
Shipwrecking your marriage
Breaking the heart of a wife you wouldn’t meet for many years?

If it stopped here, I could bear it.
But you brought the evil into our home
And our little boys found it.
Six and eight years old.
I heard them laughing, I found them ogling.

Hands bound, mouth gagged.
Fisheye photo, contorting reality
Distorting the woman into exaggerated breasts.
The haunted eyes, windows of a tormented soul
Warped by the lens into the background,
Because souls don’t matter, only bodies do
To men who consume them.

Little boys
My little boys
Laughing and ogling the sexual torture
Of a woman, a woman like me.
Someone like me.

An image burned into their brains.

Will their wives’ souls have to run and hide like mine does?
When does it end?

I can tell you this. It has not ended in your soul.
It has eaten you up. It is cancer.
Do you think you can feed on a diet of hatred
And come out of your locked room to love?

You say the words, but love has no meaning in your mouth
When hatred rules in your heart.
Your cruelty has eaten up every vestige of the man
I thought I was marrying.
Did you ever dream it would so consume you
That your wife and children would live in fear of your rage?

That is what you have become
Feeding your soul on poison.

I’ve never used porn.
But it has devastated my marriage, my family, my world.

Was it worth it?

December 12, 2010

Once again I am going to post a prayer today and once more it is drawn from Scotty Smith’s blog. But this prayer was just what I needed to pray today. “It’s always been easier for me to do ‘productive’ things for you, rather than spend undistracted, unrushed time with you. I confess this as sin.” I know far too much about this, about doing in place of knowing. “An informed mind is not the same thing as an enflamed heart… by any stretch.” Amen! Maybe you need to pray this too.

Gracious Jesus, the juxtaposition of images in the nativity scene are almost too much to wrap my tiny heart around. Your mother, Mary, is just beginning to nurse and know you. Even as I write these words I realize what a holy mystery and immeasurable condescension your incarnation was. You, the very God who created all things… the Lord who sustains all things by the power of your word… the King who is making all things new… as a baby you drew life-sustaining nourishment from a young maiden’s breast. I’m stunned by your inconceivable humility—a humility that marked your life from cradle to cross.

Shepherds ran off to spread the word of your birth, while Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” “Hurrying off” like a shepherd to tell others about you has always been easier for me than sitting still and letting you tell me about yourself. It’s always been easier for me to do “productive” things for you, rather than spend undistracted, unrushed time with you. I confess this as sin, Jesus. This simply isn’t okay, for knowing about you is not the same thing as knowing you. An informed mind is not the same thing as an enflamed heart… by any stretch.

To know you is eternal life, and I do want to know you, Jesus… so much better than I already do. I want to treasure you in my heart and ponder who you are. I want to contemplate your joyful life within the Trinity, from all eternity. I want to marinate in everything you’ve already accomplished through your life, death and resurrection… and everything you’re presently doing as the King of kings and Lord of lords… and everything you will be to us in the new heaven and new earth—the Bridegroom of your beloved Bride.

O, blessed circuit board overloading and breaking glory… there’s so much to treasure and so much to ponder. It’s not as though I’m a stranger to treasuring and pondering. I treasure and ponder a lot of things, Jesus—things, however, that lead to a bankrupt spirit…an impoverished heart… and a spent body.

Jesus, this very Advent season, by the power of the gospel, slow all of us down… settle us afresh… center us on yourself, that each of us might say with awe and adoration, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps 73:25-26).” So very Amen, we pray, in your peerless and priceless name.

December 11, 2010

With a friend I’ve been reading through R. Kent Hughes’ book Disciplines of a Godly Man. This week we read the section titled “Relationships.” This section is comprised of 4 chapters and offered all kinds of good food for thought. I wanted to point out just one brief excerpt that kicked me in the gut. It comes in a section discussing “The Discipline of Marriage.” Here is what he says:

Men, we are called to a divinely appointed self-love: to love our wives as our own bodies, to care for them as Christ does the Church. Loving our wives’ bodies as our own demands a triple incarnation: physical, emotional, and social. We are to devote the same energy, time, and creativity to our wives as to ourselves. We are to cherish our constant souls. Envy the woman who is loved like this. Even more, envy the man who loves like this—for he is like Christ.

Men, what a challenge Ephesians 5 presents us—sacrificial love (love is like death!), sanctifying love (love that elevates), and self-love (loving your wife as much as you love your own body). If this calls for anything, it calls for some holy sweat. As Walter Trobisch said, “Marriage is not an achievement which is finished. It is a dynamic process between two people, a relation which is constantly being changed, which grows or dies.”

We are to devote the same energy, time, and creativity to our wives as to ourselves. That one line convinced and convicted. And that was just one line in a long book.

December 05, 2010

One of the joys of my work with Ligonier Ministries has been in reading through most of R.C. Sproul’s books, trying to get a sense of what he has written about over the years. Along the way I’ve found that Dr. Sproul is quite a storyteller. There are several times in his books that he tells really poignant stories, all of which point to some great truth. Such is the case in his story of a journey to Mount Moriah. Give it a read as I’m sure it will touch you as it touched me.

I find it difficult, if not impossible, to get inside the head of Abraham on his journey to Mount Moriah. I have never had the experience of being called to slay my son for the glory of God. The closest thing to it in my own experience pales into insignificance by comparison. It occurred not with my son, but with my dog.

When I began Ligonier Ministries in 1971 I was given a special gift of two German shepherd puppies by the benefactress of our work. Mrs. Dora Hillman gave our family two puppies that had been born on Palm Sunday. She named them Hallelujah and Hosannah. Hallie was the female, and Hosie the male. They were bred of champion stock; the sire of the litter was the Canadian Grand Victor, and the brood bitch was the champion of the noted Mellon family of Pittsburgh. Hosie was an especially magnificent animal, a classic sable German shepherd.

When Hosie was two months old he came into the kitchen through the doggie door one morning with his head swollen to almost twice its normal size. He was staggering and obviously disoriented. I quickly assumed that somehow he had encountered a bees’ nest and had suffered multiple stings to his head. I rushed him to the veterinarian’s office for treatment. When the vet examined him he discovered three deep fang wounds to his head that had obviously been made by a poisonous snake, either a copperhead or a rattlesnake. The snake had injected enough venom to be fatal to the young dog. The vet declared that it was the worst case of snakebite he had ever seen in an animal, and he gave me a grim prognosis. He explained that the ability for poisonous snakes to kill was vastly overrated and that the potency of their strikes depended upon several factors including the physical size of the animal stricken, the area of the body where the venom was injected, and the amount of venom the snake injected. On all these counts the puppy was in serious danger. The vet went on to explain that Hosie would have to go through some serious crisis stages in order to survive.

The first crisis was to survive the initial shock and the impact of the venom itself. The second was the crisis provoked by the severe swelling. He said that when animals’ eyes are swollen shut and they are reduced to temporary blindness, they simply seem to lose their will to live. He explained secondary reactions that also could prove fatal.

He administered antivenom shots and other medications and told me the next forty-eight hours would be critical. Two days later the vet phoned to inform me that Hosie had survived the initial crisis stage but that he would have to remain in the vet hospital for two weeks. After that period elapsed the vet called again to report that Hosie was sufficiently recovered to come home. I was enormously relieved by the news.

Read the rest at Ligonier.org

December 04, 2010

Yesterday a friend sent me this prayer from The Valley of Vision, one called “Peril.” I’m grateful that he did not send it to me because I am going through such great distress at the moment. But what a great prayer it is when harassed by doubts, fears, unbelief and darkness, when the heart is full of evil surmisings and disquietude. Here is a prayer that begs God for his presence and finds comfort in his sovereignty.

Sovereign Commander of the Universe,
I am sadly harassed by doubts, fears, unbelief,
    in a felt spiritual darkness.
My heart is full of evil surmisings and disquietude,
    and I cannot act faith at all.
My heavenly Pilot has disappeard,
    and I have lost my hold on the Rock of Ages;
I sink in deep mire beneath storms and waves,
    in horror and distress unutterable.

Help me, O Lord,
    to throw myself absolutely and wholly on thee,
    for better, for worse, without comfort,
    and all but hopeless.
Give me peace of soul, confidence, enlargement of mind,
    morning joy that comes after night heaviness;
Water my soul with divine blessings;
Grant that I may welcome that humbling in private
    so that I might enjoy thee in public;
Give me a mountain top as high as the valley is low.
Thy grace can melt the worst sinner, and I am as vile as he;
Yet thou hast made me a monument of mercy,
    a trophy of redeeming power;
In my distress let me not forget this.

All-wise God,
Thy never-failing providence orders every event,
    sweetens every fear,
    reveals evil’s presence lurking in seeming good,
    brings real good out of seeming evil,
    makes unsatisfactory what I set my heart upon,
    to show me what a short-sighted creature I am,
    and to teach me to live by faith upon
        thy blessed self.

Out of sorrow and night
    give me the name Naphtali -
    ‘satisfied with favour’ -
    help me to love thee as thy child,
    and to walk worthy of my heavenly pedigree.

November 28, 2010

Today the majority of those who read this site will be heading to church to hear a pastor preach the Word of God. A while back I jotted down several quotes about the Bible and thought I’d share them today. Hopefully many of you can read them before hearing the Word preached today. Each of these is worth reflecting on:

“One of the many divine qualities of the Bible is that it does not yield its secrets to the irreverent and the censorious.”
J.I. Packer

“The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.”
AW. Tozer

“I hold that the words of Scripture were intended to have one definite sense, and adhere rigidly to it—To say the words do mean a thing merely because they can be tortured into meaning it is a most dishonorable and dangerous way of handling Scripture.”
J.C. Ryle

“Inasmuch as all Scripture is the product of a single divine mind, interpretation must stay within the bounds of the analogy of Scripture and eschew hypotheses that would correct one Biblical passage by another, whether in the name of progressive revelation or of the imperfect enlightenment of the inspired writer’s mind.”
—The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

“We approach Scripture with minds already formed by the mass of accepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the Church and the world.It is easy to be unaware that it has happened; it is hard even to begin to realize how profoundly tradition in this sense has moulded us.”
J.I. Packer

“God sometimes blesses a poor exegesis of a bad translation of a doubtful reading of an obscure verse of a minor prophet.”
—Alan Cole

I especially enjoyed Cole’s quote as I think all of us can think of times we have unintentionally misinterpreted something in the Bible, yet God has been good to us to bless us despite ourselves. J.C. Ryle’s quote stands as a warning that to use the Bible flippantly and outside of proper methods is both dishonoring and dangerous. The Chicago Statement reminds me that Scripture must (and will) interpret Scripture, not correct it.

The Bible is the way God has chosen to reveal himself to us. What a privilege that today we can hear him speak.

November 27, 2010

Here’s another of Scotty Smith’s prayers that I particularly enjoyed. As I’ve said before, what I like about these prayers is how real they are; they’re not full of fancy words and Christianese. They’re not too polished or perfect—they’re just heartfelt prayers. If you didn’t read it a couple of days ago, be sure to read A Prayer About My Dad’s Welcome Home.

In the meantime, here is “A Prayer About Jesus’ Tenacious Questioning.”

Jesus, we’re always vulnerable to the destructive power of sin, but it seems like we’re especially vulnerable when there’s some kind of emotional upheaval in our hearts. Like Cain, when we’re angry and sulking about something or someone (Abel), we can be easily “had” by sin, giving into its desire—its seductive and destructive ways. O for the Day when the season of sin’s pleasure will be ended forever (Heb. 11:25; Rev. 21:1-5).

Jesus, thank you for tenaciously pursing us and asking searching questions like, “Why are you angry?”, or, “Why are you so downcast?”, or “What do you fear?”, or “Why are you so quiet and distant?” Though you know the answer to these and every question you ask, we probably don’t. Gracious heart-knower, show us our hearts… show me my heart. What are these emotions really saying? What sins are waiting to take these feelings and have a destructive field day?

I wish we only had to think about the sin that’s crouching just outside the door—the tempter and temptress without just waiting to pounce. But the truth is, Jesus, until you return to finish making all things new, we’ve got to be wise to the sin that’s crouching inside of us, as well. Like Paul, the very things we don’t want to do, we still do… and the very things we want to do, they’re not easily done. We long for more freedom to live and to love as we’re loved by you.

How I praise you there’s no condemnation hanging over me for my sin… for you hung on the cross in my place. How I praise you that to be tempted is not an act of sin, for even you, Jesus, were tempted. I would despair if this were not the case. You have mastered sin for us. You’ve exhausted its penalty and broken it’s power. Sin will not have dominion over us ever again.

In this good news… in this gospel.. I trust today. As you show me my vulnerable heart, Jesus, show me your compassionate and loving heart ten times over. That will more than meet my need. So very Amen, I pray, in your strong, present and redeeming name.

November 21, 2010

As you know, I often post a prayer on Sunday morning—a prayer drawn from any number of sources. This week I’m turning again to Scotty Smith, pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN. This week he wrote one and posted it to his blog. He titled it “A Prayer About God’s Delight and Our Hope.” It’s a prayer I found myself praying to the Lord on my behalf, for the struggle Smith confesses here is a struggle I fight through as well.

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:10-11

Compassionate Father, once again, I come before you as a repeat offender… a man suffering from doxological dementia… one of your beloved children who gives you multiplied opportunities to demonstrate the wonder of your “unlimited patience” (1 Tim 1:16). I’m a perpetual candidate for summer school in the gospel. I demonstrate this in many ways.

Whenever I feel disconnected from you or get disappointed with me… whenever I experience the accusations and condemnation of the enemy… whenever I see other believers more zealous… missionaries more passionate… young converts more committed… or friends more generous… my default mode is to lace up my running shoes and get busy for you.

Instead of coming to you for fellowship and renewal in the gospel, I start running to do something to fuel my pride and tame my conscience. I put my good feelings ahead of your declared delight. I put pleasuring me ahead of pleasuring you.

For as you tell us in this Scripture, you don’t find any pleasure or delight in the strength and movement of our “legs”—in what we can do for you. You find great pleasure as we put our hope in what you’ve done for us in Jesus. Indeed, where can we find your unfailing… unwavering… unending love? Only in the gospel of your grace. This is counterintuitive and contrary to the way I’m wired and the way the world works… literally the way the world works.

Astonishing… to fear you is the beginning of wisdom… and we fear you the most when we hope most fully in your unfailing love for us in Jesus. Father, should we forget where we parked our cars… the address of our homes… or even our own names, may we never forget this glorious gospel. So very Amen, we pray, in Jesus’ most merciful and grace-full name.

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