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Quotes

September 21, 2008

Today is going to be a busy day. Our church is having a members’ meeting in the mid-afternoon, which means that we’ll have only a couple of hours after morning worship before heading back to church first for the meeting and then for evening worship. And then, after it all, we have a small group of sorts to attend. Put it all together and it is going to be a busy day, though a blessed one, I am sure. Yesterday evening I opened The Valley of Vision to see what prayers I could find that would seem appropriate for so busy a day. But before I found one that fit that particular mold, I found one that seemed more than a bit strange. It is a prayer that is meant to follow prayer. I’ve never heard of such a thing, but I enjoyed the prayer and thought I would share it with you. The author has certainly tapped into the Christian’s inability to do anything—even something that seems to “holy” as prayer—without needing the presence and power of God.

O God of grace,
I bewail my cold, listless, heartless prayers;
their poverty adds sin to my sin.
If my hope were in them I should be undone,
But the worth of Jesus perfumes my feeble breathings, and wins their acceptance.
Deepen my contrition of heart,
Confirm my faith in the blood that washes from all sin.
May I walk lovingly with my great Redeemer.
Flood my soul with true repentance that my heart may be broken for sin and unto sin.
Let me be as slow to forgive myself as thou art ready to forgive me.
Gazing on the glories of thy grace may I be cast into the lowest depths of shame.
and walk with downcast head now thou art pacified towards me.
O my great High Priest,
pour down upon me streams of needful grace,
bless me in all my undertakings,
in every thought of my mind,
every word of my lips,
every step of my feet,
every deed of my hands.
Thou didst live to bless,
die to bless,
rise to bless,
ascend to bless,
take thy throne to bless,
and now thou dost reign to bless.
O give sincerity to my desires,
earnestness to my supplications,
fervour to my love.

September 14, 2008

Continuing this theme of Sunday prayers, here is a wonderful prayer drawn once more from The Valley of Vision. This prayer is titled “Regeneration” and you may recognize it as the foundation of the Sovereign Grace song “O Great God.” I read this one yesterday and was just drawn to the amazing descriptions the beautiful language and the deep spiritual truths.

O God of the highest heaven,
occupy the throne of my heart,
take full possession and reign supreme,
lay low every rebel lust,
let no vile passion resist thy holy war;
manifest thy mighty power,
and make me thine forever.
Thou art worthy to be
praised with my every breath,
loved with my every faculty of soul,
served with my every act of life.
Thou hast loved me, espoused me, received me,
purchased, washed, favored, clothed,
adorned me,
when I was a worthless, vile soiled, polluted.
I was dead in iniquities,
having no eyes to see thee,
no ears to hear thee,
no taste to relish thy joys,
no intelligence to know thee;
But thy Spirit has quickened me,
has brought me into a new world as a
new creature,
has given me spiritual perception,
has opened to me thy Word as light, guide, solace, joy.
Thy presence is to me a treasure of unending peace;
No provocation can part me from thy sympathy,
for thou hast drawn me with cords of love,
and dost forgive me daily, hourly.
O help me then to walk worthy of thy love,
of my hopes, and my vocation.
Keep me, for I cannot keep myself;
Protect me that no evil befall me;
Let me lay aside every sin admired of many;
Help me to walk by thy side, lean on thy arm,
hold converse with thee,
That I may be salt of the earth
and a blessing to all.

September 07, 2008

Here is a prayer from that collection of Puritan prayers known as The Valley of Vision. This is a prayer of confidence—confidence in the greatness and the grace of God. It is a bold prayer made through a right apprehension of the character of God.

*****

O God, Thou art very great,
My lot is to approach thee with godly fear and humble confidence,
for thy condescension equals thy grandeur,
and thy goodness is thy glory.

I am unworthy, but thou dost welcome;
guilty, but thou art merciful;
poor, but thy riches are unsearchable.

Thou hast shown boundless compassion towards me
by not sparing thy son,
and by giving me freely all things in him;
This is the foundation of my hope,
the refuge of my safety,
the new and livnig way to thee,
the means of that conviction of sin,
brokenness of heart, and self-despair,
which will endear me to the gospel.

Happy are they who are Christ’s
in him at peace with thee,
justified from all things,
delivered from coming wrath,
made heirs of future glory;

Give me such deadness to the world,
such love to the Saviour,
such attachment to his house,
such devotedness to his service,
as proves me a subject of his salvation.

May every part of my character and conduct
make a serious and amiable impression on others,
and impel them to ask the way to the Master.

Let no incident of life, pleasing or painful,
injure the prosperity of my soul,
but rather increase it.

Send me thy help,
for thine appointments are not meant
to make me independent of thee,
and the best means will be vain
without super-added blessings.

August 24, 2008

I had a bit of a rough week—or at least a rough end to the week. I was struggling with a strange infection through the week and by Friday and Saturday was pretty well laid out, unable even to stand up a lot of the time (since the pain was far worse standing than lying flat on my back). Thankfully it seems that I’m on the mend. While I was lying around I thought of The Valley of Vision and sought out prayers for times of illness or trial and here is an old Puritan prayer that I enjoyed.


Father of Mercies, Hear me for Jesus’ sake. I am sinful even in my closest walk with thee; it is of thy mercy I died not long ago; Thy grace has given me in the cross by which thou hast reconciled thyself to me and me to thee, drawing me by thy great love, reckoning me as innocent in Christ though guilty in myself.

Giver of all graces, I look to thee for strength to maintain them in me, for it is hard to practise what I believe. Strengthen me against temptations. My heart is an unexhausted fountain of sin, a river of corruption since childhood days, flowing on in every pattern of behaviour; Thou hast disarmed me of the means in which I trusted, and I have no strength but in thee.

Thou alone canst hold back my evil ways, but without thy grace to sustain me I fall. Satan’s darts quickly inflame me, and the shield that should quench them easily drops from my hand: Empower me against his wiles and assaults. Keep me sensible of my weakness, and of my dependence upon thy strength. Let every trial teach me more of thy peace, more of thy love.

Thy Holy Spirit is given to increase thy graces, and I cannot preserve or improve them unless he works continually in me. May he confirm my trust in thy promised help, and let me walk humbly in dependence upon thee, for Jesus’ sake.

August 16, 2008

Recently I’ve been reading Media Unlimited, a book I stumbled upon while searching Amazon one day. It is written by Todd Gitlin, a professor of sociology and journalism at Columbia University. The book deals with the sticky subject of “how the torrent of images and sounds overwhelms our lives.” Through a couple of [long!] chapters, I’ve already been given much to think about.

This brief excerpt of the book caught my attention. It deals with the consumerism inherent to our society and shows how this consumerism came about and how it now leads to constant dissatisfaction.


[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?

August 10, 2008

As you know, I often post favorite Puritan prayers on Sundays. Here is one entitled “The Family.” It is drawn from The Valley of Vision. I think any Christian family member can pray this prayer with sincerity!

O Sovereign Lord,
Thou art the Creator-Father of all men, for thou hast made and dost support them;
Thou art the special Father of those who know, love and honour thee,
who find thy yoke easy, and thy burden light,
thy work honourable,
thy commandments glorious.
But how little thy undeserved goodness has affected me!
how imperfectly have I improved my religious privileges!
how negligent have I been in doing good to others!
I am before thee in my trespasses and sins,
have mercy on me,
and may thy goodness bring me to repentance.
Help me to hate and forsake every false way,
to be attentive to my condition and character,
to bridle my tongue,
to keep my heart with all diligence,
to watch and pray against temptation,
to mortify sin,
to be concerned for the salvation of others.
O God, I cannot endure to see the destruction of my kindred.
Let those that are united to me in tender ties
be precious in thy sight and devoted to thy glory.
Sanctify and prosper my domestic devotion,
instruction, discipline, example,
that my house may be a nursery for heaven,
my church the garden of the Lord,
enriched with trees of righteousness of thy planting,
for thy glory;
Let not those of my family who are amiable, moral, attractive,
fall short of heaven at last;
Grant that the promising appearances of a tender conscience,
soft heart, the alarms and delights of thy Word,
be not finally blotted out,
but bring forth judgment unto victory in all whom I love.

August 05, 2008

Why we watch so much television today is a question that will have many and multi-faceted answers. But in his book Media Unlimited, Todd Giltin offers solid statistical evidence for at least one of the answers. Here is a small table outlining the cost for a general laborer to enjoy the entertainment of that day, given as a proportion of his daily wage.

18th century (theater)More than a full day’s wage
Early 19th century (theater)
1840s-50sA little less than ⅓ (25¢)
1870 (minstrel, variety shows)⅙ (still 25¢)
1880s (melodrama, vaudeville)1/13 (10¢)
1910 (nickelodeon)¼0 (10¢)
1920 (movie theater)less than ¼0 (10¢)
1960s (television)⅓60 (amortizing cost of $200 black-and-white set)
1998 (cable television)1/100 (amortizing cost of $300 color set plus basic cable

I guess this help explains the fact that the average American currently watches in excess of four hours per day!

July 05, 2008

Here is yet another little quote drawn from that great big book I’ve been reading. In his Old Testament Theology, Bruce Waltke is careful to prove that gender roles and differences are rooted not in society and culture but in creation. He shows that, though men and women have been created equal, man was to take the leadership role in family and in the church. This is not a result of the fall into sin but a part of the created order. This brief quote stood out to me as an example of godly submission and one that is, of course, exceedingly counter-cultural. Here we see submission not as suffering but as a glorious and meaningful expression of faith.

Mary’s response to the angel’s announcement that she would be with child, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said,” models for Christian women an obedience she offers out of her freedom, her independence, and her thoughtful commitment so that her submission is meaningful and glorious, not a passive resignation to her fate.

May we all learn from Mary’s example and submit well to those God has placed over us.

July 02, 2008

I have recently been reading Bruce Waltke’s (rather large!) Old Testament Theology and came across this quote. It seemed appropriate in light of all of the attention being give to The Shack and its distinctly feminine portrayal of God. Waltke argues here that it really does matter how we think of God and how we address Him.

God, who is over all, represents himself by masculine names and titles, not feminine ones. He identifies himself as Father, Son, and Spirit, not Parent, Child, and Spirit, nor Mother, Daughter, and Spirit. Jesus taught his church to address God as “Father” (Luke 11:2) and to baptize disciples “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). God’s titles are King, not Queen; Lord, not Lady. God, not mortals, has the right to name himself. It is inexcusable hubris and idolatry on the part of mortals to change the images by which the eternal God chooses to represent himself. We cannot change God’s names, titles, or metaphors without committing idolatry, for we will have reimagined him in a way other than the metaphors and the incarnation by which he revealed himself. His representations and incarnation are inseparable from his being.

June 02, 2008

What follows are three quotes from Leonard Sax’s book Boys Adrift. I am going to post a full review of the book soon, but for now suffice it to say that if you have boys or you are a boy (or a young man), you need to read this book!

Forty years ago, even thirty years ago, there was no shame in a young man choosing a career in the trades. Beginning in the early 1980s-and particularly after publication of the Nation at Risk report in 1983-a consensus grew in the United States that every young person should go to college, regardless. “Vocational education” lost whatever prestige it had, and came to be viewed in some quarters very nearly as a dumping ground for the mildly retarded.”

Traditionally, one of the factors driving Western society has been the fact that women prefer successful, affluent men over men who are less successful. Because men understood that women would be reluctant to marry men who couldn’t comfortably support a wife and children, men were motivated to be successful. That simple mechanism has suffered a double whammy in the past forty years. First, sex has been divorced from marriage. Second-and here’s what’s really disturbing to those of us in the over-thirty crowd-sexual satisfaction has been divorced from women altogether.”

Thirty years ago, if a boy cursed his parents and spit at his teacher, the neighbors might say that the boy was a disobedient brat who needed a good spanking. Today, the same behavior from a similar boy might well prompt a trip to the pediatrician or the child psychiatrist. And the doctor is likely to ‘diagnose’ the boy with Conduct Disorder (DSM-IV 312.82) or Oppositional-Defiant Disorder (DSM-IV 313.81). The main criterion for both these ‘disorders’ is disobedient and disrespectful behavior that persists despite parental efforts.’ Is there really much of a difference between a neighbor saying ‘That boy is a disobedient brat,’ and a doctor saying ‘That boy has oppositional-defiant disorder’? I think there is. If another parent whom you trust and respect suggests that your son is a disobedient brat who needs stricter discipline, you just might consider adopting a tougher parenting.”

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