Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Then said Christian, What means this?
The Interpreter answered, This fire is the work of grace that is wrought in the heart; he that casts water upon it, to extinguish and put it out, is the Devil; but in that thou seest the fire notwithstanding burn higher and hotter, thou shalt also see the reason of that. So he had him about to the backside of the wall, where be saw a man with a vessel of oil in his hand, of the which He did also continually cast, but secretly, into the fire.
Then said Christian, What means this?
The Interpreter answered, This is Christ, who continually, with the oil of his grace, maintains the work already begun in the heart: by the means of which, notwithstanding what the devil can do, the souls of His people prove gracious still. And in that thou sawest that the man stood behind the wall to maintain the fire, that is to teach thee that it is hard for the tempted to see how this work of grace is maintained in the soul."
-John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress
Monday, September 29, 2008
The story is given in more detail on their blog: http://brucekev.blogspot.com/.
"Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you" (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
The Lady's Confession follows The Curate's Awakening with a theme of "awakening", salvation. We again meet Thomas and Helen Wingfold and the warm-hearted midgets, Joseph and Rachel Polworth, continuing to serve God in the places He has put them and to reach out to poor and needy hearts that are searching for a God to trust in. People throughout Glaston are being touched by the honest and humble ministry of Thomas Wingfold, curate. Out of a colorful array of characters step the hero and heroine that make the story: Paul Faber and Juliet Meredith.
Paul Faber, briefly introduced in The Curate's Awakening, is the likable town doctor of Glaston. He considers himself an athiest and prides himself on his "goodness" and "honor". He scoffs at the idea of an eternal God and holds to the idea that this life is all there is, and beyond is darkness. He goes about helping people in a kind and compassionate way, and feels secure in his own professed goodness--hardly realizing that it is just a cover for the dirt and darkness deep inside.
Then he meets the Lady Juliet Meredith, recently moved to the area of Glaston. She is rapturously beautiful, and yet no one knows anything about her. She originally claims belief in a God, yet her vague ideas cannot stand before Faber's seemingly reasonable ideas, and she soon comes to the point of doubting whether there really is a God at all. After Faber saves her life in a dramatic moment, he falls deeply in love with her. For a time she shuns him, but under his drawing influence and the continual breakdown of her theology, she comes to return his love, and they look forward to a life wrapped up in each other. But hidden deep in the recesses of Juliet's past is a secret that threatens to destroy this hope of happiness and ruin their future together.
In a cleverly interwoven plot, we again see the work of the Lord upon doubting or self-sufficient lives, drawing them to Himself. There is no man who is sinless, and God often has to draw away our guise of "goodness" through events in our lives to reveal to us our dire need for Him and our destitution in ourselves. We see in Drake, Bevis, Dorothy, Faber, and Juliet, people not entirely unlike ourselves and are forced to consider with them what we really believe and where we really stand before God. We see, to use the words of the editor, Michael Phillips, that "in the end every person must make his own choice. Each man and woman stand before God in the silence and emptiness of their own heart and must choose whether they will say yes or no to Him."
I have to confess that I found this somewhat different reading than The Curate's Awakening. At first the plot seemed almost disjointed, but it comes together as it goes along. One has to take time to stop and think about what the author is saying throughout, and I suppose I will have to read it several times over again to get the full truth that is hidden in its pages. If you are desiring to grow in your walk with Christ and to learn to see Him as He really is, I would highly recommend The Lady's Confession. Curl up in a corner on a rainy day, turn on your brain, and be ready to enjoy and glean from another one of George MacDonald's masterful novels...
Saturday, September 27, 2008
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:38-48).
We have here our Lord Jesus Christ's rules for our conduct one towards another. He that would know how he ought to feel and act towards his fellow-men, should often study these verses. They deserve to be written in letters of gold: they have extorted praise even from the enemies of Christianity. Let us mark well what they contain.
The Lord Jesus forbids everything like an unforgiving and revengeful spirit. "I say unto you, That ye resist not evil." A readiness to resent injuries, a quickness in taking offence, a quarrelsome and contentious disposition, a keenness in asserting our rights,--all, all are contrary to the mind of Christ. The world may see no harm in these habits of mind; bat they do not become the character of the Christian. Our Master says, "Resist not evil."
The Lord Jesus enjoins on us a spirit of universal love and charity. "I say unto you, Love your enemies." We ought to put away all malice: we ought to return good for evil, and blessing for cursing. Moreover we are not to love in word only, but in deed; we are to deny ourselves, and take trouble, in order to be kind and courteous: if any man "compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain." We are to put up with much and bear much, rather than hurt another, or give offence. In all things we are to be unselfish. Our thought must never be, "How do others behave to me?" but "What would Christ have me to do?"
A standard of conduct like this may seem, at first sight, extravagantly high. But we must never content ourselves with aiming at one lower. We must observe the two weighty arguments by which our Lord backs up this part of His instruction. They deserve serious attention.
For one thing, if we do not aim at the spirit and temper which are here recommended, we are not yet children of God. What does our "Father which is in heaven" do? He is kind to all: He sends rain on good and on evil alike; He causes "His sun" to shine on all without distinction.--A child should be like his father: but where is our likeness to our Father in heaven if we cannot show mercy and kindness to everybody? Where is the evidence that we are new creatures if we lack charity? It is altogether wanting. We must yet be "born again." (John 3:7.)
For another thing, if we do not aim at the spirit and temper here recommended, we are manifestly yet of the world. "What do ye more than others?" is our Lord's solemn question. Even those who have no religion can "love those who love them:" they can do good and show kindness when affection or interest moves them. But a Christian ought to be influenced by higher principles than these.--Do we flinch from the test? Do we find it impossible to do good to our enemies? If that be the case we may be sure we have yet to be converted. As yet we have not "received the Spirit of God." (1Corinthians 2:12.)
There is much in all this which calls loudly for solemn reflection. There are few passages of Scripture so calculated to raise in our minds humbling thoughts. We have here a lovely picture of the Christian as he ought to be. We cannot look at it without painful feelings: we must all allow that it differs widely from the Christian as he is. Let us carry away from it two general lessons.
In the first place, if the spirit of these ten verses were more continually remembered by true believers they would recommend Christianity to the world far more than they do. We must not allow ourselves to suppose that the least words in this passage are trifling and of small moment: they are not so. It is attention to the spirit of this passage which makes our religion beautiful: it is the neglect of the things which it contains by which our religion is deformed. Unfailing courtesy, kindness, tenderness, and consideration for others, are some of the greatest ornaments to the character of a child of God. The world can understand these things if it cannot understand doctrine. There is no religion in rudeness, roughness, bluntness, and incivility. The perfection of practical Christianity consists in attending to the little duties of holiness as well as to the great.
In the second place, if the spirit of these ten verses had more dominion and power in the world, how much happier the world would be than it is. Who does not know that quarrellings, strifes, selfishness, and unkindness, cause half the miseries by which mankind is visited? Who can fail to see that nothing would so much tend to increase happiness as the spread of Christian love, such as is here recommended by our Lord? Let us remember this. Those who fancy that true religion has any tendency to make men unhappy, are greatly mistaken: it is the absence of it that does this, and not the presence. True religion has the directly contrary effect: it tends to promote peace, and charity, and kindness, and goodwill among men. The more men are brought under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, the more they will love one another, and the more happy they will be.
-J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume 1, Matthew
Friday, September 26, 2008
Is it so very hard to wait for that which we cannot yet receive? Shall we complain of the shadows cast upon the mirrors of our souls by the hand and the polishing cloth, to receive more excellent glory? Have patience, children of the Father. Pray always, and do not faint. The mists and the storms and the cold will pass; the sun and the sky are forever. The most loving of you cannot imagine how one day the love of the Father will make you love. Even your own."
-George MacDonald, The Lady's Confession, page 150
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
"My mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches." (Psalm 63:5b-6)
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Question: "Of all the things in the whole wide world that there is to know, what percentage of it do you know?"
An honest person couldn't really give a very high percentage (I give myself less than 0.05%! ;-) ). But let's pretend he says 30%.
The question to ask then is, "What if God is in that 70% that you don't know?"
It occured to me the other day that to suppose there is no God just because one cannot see Him is a very proud, self-filled, narrow-minded way to think. "I can't see it, so it must not be there." As it says in John, we have never seen the wind-- we see only the effects of it. We cannot see God with human eyes, yet we know He is, because we see His handiwork, His providence, and His self-revelation in His Word.
Jesus says, "Blessed are they who have not seen [Me], and yet have believed" (John 20: 30). "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). God honors the simple faith that believes Him for Whom He has said He is. O for the day when faith becomes sight, and all those who rejected a God that they could not see will at least be convinced "that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).
My utmost thought of Thee,
And yet Thy thought to me is love;
And Love comes near to me.
O Love, come near and nearer still;
Fold me in quietness
Till all the movements of my will
Thy conquering power confess,
That so, of Love alone aware,
Love flowing over me,
Thy Spirit may direct my prayer
To that which pleaseth Thee.
-Amy Carmichael, Wings, Part 1
Friday, September 19, 2008
-F. B. Meyer
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
- King Charles I
- Life in 17th century England
- History of Puritanism
would you comment and let me know? (I prefer for the information to be written from a Christian perspective.) I have borrowed some resources from our tiny town library but would like to study it as much as I can so the story can be as accurate as possible! (That is one of the things I look for most in a historical novel!) Thanks!
To find the air so high, and yet so low,
Tell Me, beloved, hast thou far to go?
So high, so low-- but I had thought Thee far,
Remote, aloof, like glory of a star.
And is the way of love so near to me?
Then by that way I come; I come to Thee.
-Amy Carmichael, Gold By Moonlight
Sunday, September 7, 2008
These are some of the thoughts our pastor has been helping us to think as he takes us through the Sermon on the Mount. So far we have gone through three of the Beatitudes, and there is one word that I might put to it:
Biblical truth is painful, but that's good! It goes against our natural grain, but it is to change us to the pattern of Christ.
Today's text was "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). Pastor's theme was "Meekness of character involves the restraining influence of the Spirit of God producing a governed life of selfless sacrifice." He talked about the nature of meekness and really made me think about how meek I am-- or rather, how meek I am not! He described meekness as being like a broken-in horse-- it is "strength under control". It "maintains strength while yielding self-will". Meekness in our lives will be seen in our relationships with God and others. Am I always asserting my rights, trying to prove myself or lift myself up, and getting angry when people don't do things the way I want them to? Am I always defending myself and pretending to be something I am not just to gain man's approval? If so (and it is so far too often!), I have some serious adjusting to do! I need to submit myself to God and allow His Holy Spirit to transform my life, rooting out the pride for which all other vices grow and making me more like Jesus Christ.
One thing that really "hurt" was a quote of Martin Lloyd-Jones that Pastor quoted. I didn't write down the exact wording, but the idea was as follows: It is not that hard for we ourselves to realize of ourselves where we need to change, or to admit we are desperate sinners. But when others bring it to our attention, all of a sudden we become defensive and angry that someone would point out something wrong in us. It is the indwelling, fleshy desire for approval that we must ask Christ to cleanse from our lives if we are to be like the meek and lowly Jesus.
In the world's eyes, meekness is weakness. Their question is, "How can the meek inherit the earth? They don't stand up for themselves, they don't promote themselves..." But Christ's kingdom is different than man's ideas of one, and His is the only right way. As we march under the banner of Jesus Christ, victory is sure. "The truly meek man is completely satisfied -- weaned off of earthbound hopes -- has nothing and yet has all. The appeal for the earthbound, for approval, is gone."
(P.S. Sentences in parentheses are from the outline or random sentences of his that I jotted down in my note-taking.)
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
-D. L. Moody
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
A recurring theme in these chapters is the fact that God is God-- the only God-- and deserves our utmost love and praise. Over and over we read about the supremity of God over all else, and of the vanity of manmade "gods". There is one God and He deserves our worship and adoration. Of course, this is a fact we generally agree with in word, but how often we fail to apply it! Our sinful nature rises up and says, like Babylon, "None seeth me... I am, and none else beside me" (47:10). We set ourselves up above all else, follow our own desires and ideas, try to rule ourselves and please ourselves. In following our own pursuits, we leave God and others behind in the dust. Shame on us! There is one God-- JEHOVAH-- He deserves our service, love, and worship. He deserves first place in our hearts. We need to make Him the goal and center of our lives and not allow anything-- friends, family, entertainment-- to take His place. May He rule on the throne of my heart!
"Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established" (Proverbs 16:3)