Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The School of Suffering

"It was good for me to be afflicted--so that I could learn Your statutes." Psalm 119:71

Most of us need the chastening of affliction. 
Pain is wonderful revealer. It teaches us many 
things we never could have known, if we had 
not been called to endure it. It opens windows 
through which we see, as we never saw before--the beautiful things of God's love. 

Many of the finest things in character, are the 
fruits of pain. Many a Christian enters trial--cold, 
worldly, unspiritual--and emerges from the 
experience a little later, with spirit softened, 
mellowed, and spiritually enriched. 

Sanctified afflictions soften the harshness and 
sharpness of one's character. They consume the 
dross of selfishness and worldliness. They humble 
pride. They temper carnal ambitions. They quell 
fierce passions. They show to us the evil of our 
own heart, revealing our weaknesses, faults, and 
blemishes--and making us aware of our spiritual 
danger. They discipline the wayward spirit.

Sorrow draws its sharp ploughshare through the 
heart, cutting deep and long furrows--and the 
heavenly Sower follows with the seeds of godly 
virtues. Then by and by, fruits of righteousness 
spring up. 

Sorrow has a tenderizing influence. It makes us 
gentle and kindly toward each other.

In no other 
school, do our hearts learn the lessons of patience, 
tolerance, and forbearance so quickly--as in the 
school of suffering.
J.R. Miller

Spurgeon: This Morning's Exhortation

It is not left to our own option whether we shall praise God or not. Praise is God’s most righteous due, and every Christian, as the recipient of his grace, is bound to praise God from day to day. It is true we have no authoritative rubric for daily praise; we have no commandment prescribing certain hours of song and thanksgiving: but the law written upon the heart teaches us that it is right to praise God; and the unwritten mandate comes to us with as much force as if it had been recorded on the tables of stone, or handed to us from the top of thundering Sinai.

Yes, it is the Christian’s duty to praise God. It is not only a pleasurable exercise, but it is the absolute obligation of his life. Think not ye who are always mourning, that ye are guiltless in this respect, or imagine that ye can discharge your duty to your God without songs of praise. You are bound by the bonds of his love to bless his name so long as you live, and his praise should continually be in your mouth, for you are blessed, in order that you may bless him; “this people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise”; and if you do not praise God, you are not bringing forth the fruit which he, as the Divine Husbandman, has a right to expect at your hands.

Let not your harp then hang upon the willows, but take it down, and strive, with a grateful heart, to bring forth its loudest music. Arise and chant his praise. With every morning’s dawn, lift up your notes of thanksgiving, and let every setting sun be followed with your song. Girdle the earth with your praises; surround it with an atmosphere of melody, and God himself will hearken from heaven and accept your music:

“E'en so I love thee, and will love,
And in thy praise will sing,
Because thou art my loving God,
And my redeeming King.”

Psalm 55

Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy! Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan, because of the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked. For they drop trouble upon me, and in anger they bear a grudge against me. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.”

Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues; for I see violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go around it on its walls, and iniquity and trouble are within it; ruin is in its midst; oppression and fraud do not depart from its marketplace. For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God's house we walked in the throng. Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.

But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. God will give ear and humble them,
he who is enthroned from of old, Selah because they do not change and do not fear God.

My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you.

Monday, September 29, 2008

What Are You Living For?

What are you living for? Most, perhaps, live to enjoy present things as 
much as possible--and to escape hell at last. Have your ideas, your hopes, your aspirings--ever 
risen beyond these two things?

Are you living only for SELF? Is that all? What a poor object--what a 
base and narrow aim! What an insignificant, empty, hollow being is yours--wasted, shriveled, useless! "My purpose is to give life in all its fullness" John 10:10.

What stands between you and that life? It is SELF! What separates you from God? It is SELF--your love of self, your admiration of self, your confidence in self. It is SELF which is blinding 
and bewildering you! What is it that is dragging you down, and making you cleave to the dust? It is SELF! And what is it that will before long be your everlasting ruin? It is SELF!

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wants 
to come with Me--he must deny himself, take up 
his cross, and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24).
Horatius Bonar

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

True Progressivism

"The antiquary of tradition is the preserver of all that is right and good and true. It is the wisest and most progressive of all the human impulses—for it guarantees continuity for the uncertain days of the future. Let every man and woman warmly embrace the lessons of the past." Calvin Coolidge

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Real Change

“The Holy Spirit’s office, as defined by the Bible itself, is not to make known to us any truths which are not contained in the Bible; but to make clear to our understandings the truths which are contained in it that we might realize them experientially. The Word of God is called the sword of the Spirit. It is the instrument by which the Spirit worketh. and He worketh anew at all times and all places consistent with His Revelation. Thus, the Spirit is always provoking us toward change, growth, and the fulfillment of calling. Anything less and anything more is surely not of the Spirit.” Thomas Chalmers


"Therefore if any man is in Christ--he is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

"How comprehensive the words--how vast the change! The effect produced by the new birth is radical and thorough: The HEART, once so hateful and hating--has now become a fountain of sweet waters, transmitting its pure and holy streams throughout the whole soul, changing the entire conduct of the individual, and working out, in its degree, a universal holiness of his whole being. The WORLD he once loved--is now as a crucified thing. The PLEASURES he once indulged--have lost their charm. The SINS he once committed--are now loathed and forsaken. The SOCIETY he once enjoyed--no longer attracts or pleases.

The new birth will be manifest in our Christ-like temper and mind and spirit . . . the moroseness and churlishness, the pride and selfishness, the worldliness and frivolity, the levity and man-pleasing, which cropped up so luxuriantly from the soil of our unsanctified heart--will now, in a great measure be supplanted by the fruits of righteousness springing from a heart which has been changed, sanctified, and occupied by the Spirit of God. The walk and conversation of a renewed man, will be the outward and visible reflection of an inward and invisible grace.

As a parent, and as a child, as a brother, a sister--so let your light shine, so let your life evidence its reality, so let your religion be visible in its lowliness and gentleness, its lovable and loving spirit, as to command from all who see it, the admiring exclamation, "Behold! he is a new creature; old things have passed away; all things are become new!"
Octavius Winslow, 1864

Monday, September 15, 2008

Growing Into Christ's Image

“We should get it settled in our minds, that the purpose of God for our life on earth, is to have us grow into Christ's image. We are not in this world merely to accomplish a certain amount of work--but to be fashioned into strength and beauty of character. If we would always remember this, we would not be perplexed so often by the mysteries of our lives. If joy is ours--it is to make us better and a greater blessing to others. If sorrow is ours--it is to purify us and bring out some line of Christ's image in us more clearly. If our hopes are disappointed--it is because God has some better things for us, than that which we so earnestly desired. If we are called to endure pain--it is because the best in us can be called out only by pain. If bereavement comes and we are left without the strong human arm we have leaned upon heretofore--it is because there are elements of strength in our life, which never could be developed unless the human supports were taken away. If our burdens are heavy--it is because we grow best under burdens. If we are wronged by others--it is to teach us better, the great lessons of patience and sweet temper. If our circumstances are uncongenial and our condition hard--it is that we may be disciplined into self-control, and may learn to be content in whatever state we are in. The Master is always teaching us new lessons, making us into the beauty of the pattern He has set for us, and preparing us for greater usefulness and better service.” J.R. Miller

God's Attributes

“Of all the essential characteristics of God’s being and nature, the greatest are His aseity, His simplicity, and His immutability. His aseity is His self-existence or pure-existence--thus, God identifies Himself to Moses as the “I Am that I Am.” His simplicty is His indivisibility--since God is pure existence, pure actuality with no potentiality, He is necessarily simple and indivisible. God's indivisibility follows also from His immutability, for if God could be divided, He could change--but God is unchangeable by nature. His necessity is His non-contingency--God is by nature an absolutely necessary Being. His immutability is His unchangeability--God cannot acquire anything new, since He could not be better or more complete; therefore, God cannot change. This reality immediately leads to each of the other attributes--His eternality, His unity, His infinity, and His morality--provoking us in heart and mind to exclaim with joy, how great is our God; how altogether-other is He.” Abraham Kuyper

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Past and Future

"Studying the past is merely one of the ways to wisely approach the future--it's just so much more reliable than all the other ways." Archie Roosevelt

Overheard at Starbucks

“How do you protest when a Unitarian family moves into your neighborhood? You burn a question mark on their lawn.”

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Need for Parish

The nation's mega-church movement may actually be facing mega-trouble says a new report from USA Today. Attendance is down, scrutiny is up, costs are skyrocketing, and spiritual effectiveness is plummeting. As my friend, Bing Davis, has said, "More than ever, we need parish, i.e. a place to make real, long-lasting, kingdom-oriented relationships, not only with one another but with our neighbors, whoever they may be."

Building Parish

Weekly Prayer Meeting at Parish Presbyterian Church & Stewardship Calendar 2014 Inbox
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Forward and Back

"People will not look forward to posterity who will not look backward to their ancestors." Edmund Burke

Thursday, September 4, 2008


James R. White, author of The Forgotten Trinity sagely observes, "Entire sections of the modern church are functionally non-Trinitarian. I did not say anti-Trinitarian, for that would involve a positive denial of the doctrine. Instead, while maintaining the confession that the Trinity is true, many today function as if the Trinity did not exist. It has no impact on their theology, their proclamation, prayer, or worship."

Once upon a time, long ago and far away, nearly all Evangelical and Protestant churches sang the Doxology every Sunday. Most also sang the Gloria Patri and recited either the Apostles or Nicene creed. Not any more. In our rush to be relevant, contemporary, and accessible we have all but abandoned our trinitarian foundations--to our great peril. We have become functional Unitarians.