Monday, July 12, 2010

The Problem of Suffering: A Review of Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering

Suffering will always be with us. How we should handle suffering, even in the best of times for the most devoted follower of Christ, may not always be clear to us. In Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering we have a memorable collection of essays from theologians, past and present, sharing their experience and pastoral advice.

The authors in this valuable compilation range from John Newton to Corrie Ten Boom, from Augustine to D.A. Carson, each, in his or her own way, sharing an encouraging and comforting message. Editor Nancy Guthrie has done a brilliant job selecting each essay for the book. Reflecting on pain and suffering is something we spend far too little time on today. Suffering will affect your life someday and this work will enlighten as it informs its reader to God’s merciful work in trials.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Our Strength Comes from the Holy Spirit

You do not know the truth because you have read Hodge's Outlines, Fuller's Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation, Owen on the Spirit, or any other classic of our faith. You do not know the truth merely because you accept the Westminster Assembly's Confession and have studied it perfectly. No, we know nothing until we are taught by the Holy Spirit, who speaks to the heart rather than to the ear.

It is an amazing fact that we do not even hear the voice of Jesus until the Spirit rests upon us. John says, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice" (Rev. 1:10). He did not hear that voice until he was in the Spirit. How many heavenly words we miss because we do not abide in the Spirit!

We cannot succeed in supplication unless the Holy Spirit helps our infirmities, for true prayer is "praying in the Holy Ghost" (Jude 1:20). The Spirit makes an atmosphere around every living prayer; within that circle, prayer lives and prevails; outside of it, prayer is a dead formality. As to ourselves, then, in our study, in prayer, in thought, in word, and in deed, we must depend on the Holy Spirit. ...

What does the Holy Spirit do? Beloved, what is there of good work that He does not do? It is His to quicken, to convince, to illuminate, to cleanse, to guide, to preserve, to console, to confirm, to perfect, and to use. How much might be said under each one of these headings! It is He that works in us "to will and to do" (Phil. 2:13). He that has done all things is God. Glory be unto the Holy Spirit for all that He has accomplished in such poor, imperfect natures as ours!

We can do nothing apart from the life-sap that flows to us from Jesus the Vine. That which is our own is fit only to cause us shame and embarrassment. We never go a step towards heaven without the Holy Spirit. We never lead another on the heavenward road without the Holy Spirit. We have no acceptable thought, word, or deed apart from the Holy Spirit. Even the uplifting of the eye of hope or the intense prayer of the heart's desire must be His work. All good things are of Him and through Him, from beginning to end. (Taken from Your Available Power by C.H. Spurgeon.)

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Review of "Does Grace Grow Best in Winter"

Suffering is coming. If you’ve never suffered, be assured that one day you will. Now, before the time of trials and suffering, is the best time to develop a personal theology of suffering. Does Grace Grow Best in Winter? by Ligon Duncan is a book that can help you do that. And if you’re suffering now, this book is especially for you.The first sentence of chapter one sets the tone for the book, “This book considers suffering in light of the sovereignty of our wise and loving God.” That is the thrust of the work.

Each chapter, titled as a question, answers the questions we all ask when we are suffering such as chapter one, “Why Me?” Duncan biblically takes hold of these questions and answers them tenderly and lovingly while teaching us that we must turn the focus away from ourselves and to the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you’re seeking answers to suffering, in whatever form it has taken, I warmly recommend this book to you. It will be beneficial to you as it strengthens your faith.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Luther on Comfort While Enduring Disease

This quote is quite like Luther, direct, comforting and somewhat humorous as well.

The devil has sworn to kill me, this I certainly know, and he will have no peace until he has devoured me. All right, if he devours me, he shall devour a laxative (God willing) which will make his bowels and anus to tight for him. Do you want to bet? One has to suffer if he wants to possess Christ. It would be easy indeed for us to triumph if we were willing to deny and calumniate [Christ]. Yet it is written, "Through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). This is no longer just a word; it has become a reality, and we should act accordingly. Yet He is [here] who along with the tribulation brings about escape for the faithful (From a letter to Philip Melanchthon as quoted in The Wit of Martin Luther by Eric Gritsch, page 95).
A great perspective from a man who suffered from many afflictions and illnesses. Many we also find comfort from Christ who along with the tribulation brings about escape for the faithful.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Edwards on Holiness

Oh, of what a sweet, humble nature is holiness! How peaceful and, loving all things but sin, of how refined and exalted a nature is it! How doth it clear change the soul and make it more excellent than other beings! How is it possible that such a divine thing should be on earth? It makes the soul like a delightful field or garden planted by God, with all manner of pleasant flowers growing in the order in which nature has planted them, that is all pleasant and delightful, undisturbed, free from all the noise of man and beast, enjoying a sweet calm and the bright, calm, and gently vivifying beams of the sun forevermore: where the sun is Jesus Christ; the blessed beams and calm breeze, the Holy Spirit; the sweet and delightful flowers, and the pleasant shrill music of the little birds, are the Christian graces. Or like the little white flower: pure, unspotted and undefined, low and humble, pleasing and harmless; receiving the beams, the pleasant beams of the serene sun, gently moved and a little shaken by a sweet breeze, rejoicing as it were in a calm rapture, diffusing around [a] most delightful fragrancy, standing most peacefully and lovingly in the midst of the other like flowers round about. How calm and serene is the heaven overhead! How free is the world from noise and disturbance! How, if one were but holy enough, would they of themselves [and] as it were naturally ascend from the earth in delight, to enjoy God as Enoch did! - Jonathan Edwards

Has anyone put this into words better?

Be Men of Prayer

What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer. (Taken from Power Through Prayer by E.M. Bounds)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Word from Spurgeon on Prayer

He Always Listens

The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer. (Psalm 6:9)

The experience here recorded is mine. I can set to my seal that God is true. In very wonderful ways He has answered the prayers of His servant many and many a time. Yes, and He is hearing my present supplication, and He is not turning away His ear from me. Blessed be His holy name!

What then? Why, for certain the promise which lies sleeping in the psalmist's believing confidence is also mine. Let me grasp it by the hand of faith: "The Lord will receive my prayer." He will accept it, think of it, and grant it in the way and time which His loving wisdom judges to be best. I bring my poor prayer in my hand to the great King, and He gives me audience and graciously receives my petition. My enemies will not listen to me, but my Lord will. They ridicule my tearful prayers, but my Lord does not; He receives my prayer into His ear and His heart.

What a reception this is for a poor sinner! We receive Jesus, and then the Lord receives us and our prayers for His Son's sake. Blessed be that dear name which franks our prayers so that they freely pass even within the golden gates. Lord, teach me to pray, since Thou hearest my prayers. (Taken from Faith's Checkbook by C.H. Spurgeon)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lacking in Prayer?

May we all renew our efforts to pour out our hearts heavenward as Spurgeon encourages us:

“Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money.” - Isaiah 43:24

Worshippers at the temple were wont to bring presents of sweet perfumes to be burned upon the altar of God: but Israel, in the time of her backsliding, became ungenerous, and made but few votive offerings to her Lord: this was an evidence of coldness of heart towards God and his house. Reader, does this never occur with you? Might not the complaint of the text be occasionally, if not frequently, brought against you? Those who are poor in pocket, if rich in faith, will be accepted none the less because their gifts are small; but, poor reader, do you give in fair proportion to the Lord, or is the widow’s mite kept back from the sacred treasury? The rich believer should be thankful for the talent entrusted to him, but should not forget his large responsibility, for where much is given much will be required; but, rich reader, are you mindful of your obligations, and rendering to the Lord according to the benefit received? Jesus gave his blood for us, what shall we give to him? We are his, and all that we have, for he has purchased us unto himself -can we act as if we were our own? O for more consecration! and to this end, O for more love! Blessed Jesus, how good it is of thee to accept our sweet cane bought with money! nothing is too costly as a tribute to thine unrivalled love, and yet thou dost receive with favour the smallest sincere token of affection! Thou dost receive our poor forget-me-nots and love-tokens as though they were intrinsically precious, though indeed they are but as the bunch of wild flowers which the child brings to its mother. Never may we grow niggardly towards thee, and from this hour never may we hear thee complain of us again for withholding the gifts of our love. We will give thee the first fruits of our increase, and pay thee tithes of all, and then we will confess “of thine own have we given thee.”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Blog

Looking for a new blog to read that has a true Biblical view of the world we live in? Check out Wright Thinking authored by Rev. Scott R. Wright of Redeemer Church (PCA) in Hudson, Ohio. The blog continues to grow and expand so check back often and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Radical Holiness

Study universal holiness of life. Your whole usefulness depends on this, for your sermons last but an hour or two; your life preaches all the week. If Satan can only make a covetous minister a lover of praise, of pleasure, of good eating, he has ruined your ministry. Give yourself to prayer, and get your texts, your thoughts, your words from God. Luther spent his best three hours in prayer.—Robert Murray McCheyne

Indeed, McCheyne's words still speak to all of us today, not just ministers of the Word. Sunday is our day of rest, rejuvenation, learning and fellowship with the saints. On Monday we return to the hard work of living in this sinful world. Learn holiness on the Lord's Day, apply it on Monday and through the week. Let's live radical lives and show the world that we are different, not just an Americanized version of Christianity.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Joy Cometh in the Morning

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” - Psalm 30:5

Christian! If thou art in a night of trial, think of the morrow; cheer up thy heart with the thought of the coming of thy Lord. Be patient, for

“Lo! He comes with clouds descending.”

Be patient! The Husbandman waits until he reaps his harvest. Be patient; for you know who has said, “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be.” If you are never so wretched now, remember
“A few more rolling suns, at most,
Will land thee on fair Canaan’s coast.”

Thy head may be crowned with thorny troubles now, but it shall wear a starry crown ere long; thy hand may be filled with cares-it shall sweep the strings of the harp of heaven soon. Thy garments may be soiled with dust now; they shall be white by-and-by. Wait a little longer. Ah! how despicable our troubles and trials will seem when we look back upon them! Looking at them here in the prospect, they seem immense; but when we get to heaven we shall then
“With transporting joys recount,
The labours of our feet.”

Our trials will then seem light and momentary afflictions. Let us go on boldly; if the night be never so dark, the morning cometh, which is more than they can say who are shut up in the darkness of hell. Do you know what it is thus to live on the future-to live on expectation-to antedate heaven? Happy believer, to have so sure, so comforting a hope. It may be all dark now, but it will soon be light; it may be all trial now, but it will soon be all happiness. What matters it though “weeping may endure for a night,” when “joy cometh in the morning?”
C.H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thoughts on Joy from Baxter

I desire the dejected Christian to consider, that by his heavy and uncomfortable life, he seemeth to the world to accuse God and His service, as if he openly called Him a rigorous, hard, unacceptable Master, and His work a sad unpleasant thing. I know this is not your thoughts: I know it is yourselves, and not God and His service that offendeth you; and that you walk heavily not because you are holy, but because you fear you are not holy, and because you are no more holy. . . . If you see a servant always sad, that was wont to be merry while he served another master, will you not think that he hath a master that displeaseth him? . . . You are born and new born for God’s honor; and will you thus dishonor Him before the world? What do you (in their eyes) but dispraise Him by your very countenance and carriage? - Richard Baxter

Saturday, March 27, 2010

On Anxiety

But when once the light of Divine Providence has illumined the believer's soul, he is relieved and set free, not only from the extreme fear and anxiety which formerly oppressed him, but from all care. For as he justly shudders at the idea of chance, so he can confidently commit himself to God. This, I say, is his comfort, that his heavenly Father so embraces all things under his power—so governs them at will by his nod—so regulates them by his wisdom, that nothing takes place save according to his appointment; that received into his favour, and entrusted to the care of his angels neither fire, nor water, nor sword, can do him harm, except in so far as God their master is pleased to permit. (John Calvin, Institues of the Christian Religion, 1.17.11.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Carson on Suffering

Over the last few years I've read and studied a fair amount on the subject of suffering. One of the best books out there is Carson's, How Long, O Lord? It is steeped with thoughtful, straight forward, Biblical advice and encouragement. I highly recommend it. One issue I see that comes to the forefront repeatedly is that of "what I deserve." Perhaps it's our age of medical advancement and/or prosperity but many of us seem to think we shouldn't suffer. We shouldn't be sick and if we get sick we need healing immediately. If we suffer some kind of emotional or financial loss loss we need to be able to recover without feeling the pain. "I deserve to be happy and pain free." Carson explains that that just isn't the case,

In fact we believe that sin properly deserves the wrath of God, then when we experience the sufferings of this world, all of them the consequences of human rebellion, we will be less quick to blame God and a lot quicker to recognize that we have no fundamental right to expect a life of unbroken ease and comfort. From the biblical perspective, it is because of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed (pg. 44).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Baxter on Joy

What a great quote:

I desire the dejected Christian to consider, that by his heavy and uncomfortable life, he seemeth to the world to accuse God and His service, as if he openly called Him a rigorous, hard, unacceptable Master, and His work a sad unpleasant thing. I know this is not your thoughts: I know it is yourselves, and not God and His service that offendeth you; and that you walk heavily not because you are holy, but because you fear you are not holy, and because you are no more holy. . . . If you see a servant always sad, that was wont to be merry while he served another master, will you not think that he hath a master that displeaseth him? . . . You are born and new born for God’s honor; and will you thus dishonor Him before the world? What do you (in their eyes) but dispraise Him by your very countenance and carriage? - Richard Baxter

Saturday, March 20, 2010

On Adversity

On accepting adversity Margaret Clarkson wrote, Always it is initiated by an act of will on our part; we set ourselves to believe in the over-ruling goodness, providence and sovereignty of God and refuse to turn matter how we feel. (Margaret Clarkson, Grace Grows Best in Winter, page 21.) Thus, we must do our part in accepting and working through our difficult providences. We must have the knowledge of God (knowing He is good, loving gentle merciful, etc.) and then choose to trust Him or our feelings. Where do you stand today, are you trusting your feelings or are you trusting our Sovereign Lord?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Charnock on the Lord's Supper

He has left us this dark glass, wherein we may see His face till He return with a full glory; and is it an affection to Him never to look upon His picture, the medal of Himself, wherein He has engraver the tracks of His dying love, all that He did, all that He purchased, all His fullness, all His treasures. . . . ? Well, but we may remember Christ other ways without this ceremony? We may, but do we? - Stephen Charnock

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Confession of Sin

Below was our confession of sin this morning. I was blessed by it.

Father in heaven, we confess our sin of trying to heal ourselves. Instead of trusting in the death of Jesus Christ, we have tried to work off our guilt and pile up good deeds that outweigh our sins. Quickly frustrated, we have turned to denial and distraction. Instead of trusting in the resurrection of Christ, we have tried to change through our own efforts. We have tried to transform our hearts through sheer willpower. This has left some of us arrogant and the rest of us anxious and depressed. Forgive us for trying to heal ourselves. Forgive us for neglecting your grace. Father, forgive us and heal us, for Jesus’ sake.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

On Holiness

Pray not only against the power of sin, but for the power of holiness also. A haughty heart may pray against his sins, not out of any inward enmity to them, or love to holiness, but because they are troublesome guests to his conscience. His zeal is false that seems hot against sin, but is key–cold to holiness. A city is rebellious that keeps their rightful Prince out, though it receives not his enemy in. - William Gurnall

Monday, March 8, 2010

Constant Communion

To be in constant communion with the Lord, and to be habitually and frequently in meditation over the truth is its own reward. - George Muller

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rutherford - The Devil is but a Whetstone

Samuel Rutherford
Not one ounce, not one grain-weight more is laid on me than he hath enabled me to bare...Faith hath cause to take courage from our very afflictions; the devil is but a whetstone to sharpen the faith and patience of the saint. (Samuel Rutherford, The Loveliness of Christ, Banner of Truth, page 72.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Perseverance and Patience in Prayer

George Mueller had this to say about prayer:

George Muelller
I am now, in 1864, waiting upon God for certain blessings, for which I have daily besought Him for 19 years and 6 months, without one day's intermission. Still the full answer is not yet given concerning the conversion of certain individuals. In the meantime, I have received many thousands of answers to prayer. I have also prayed daily, without intermission, for the conversion of other individuals about ten years, for others six or seven years, for others four, three and two years, for others about eighteen months; and still the answer is not yet granted, concerning the persons [whom I have prayed for nineteen-and-a-half years]... Yet I am daily continuing in prayer and expecting the answer...Be encouraged, dear Christian reader, with fresh earnestness to give yourself to prayer, if you can only be sure that you ask for things which are for the glory of God. (George Mueller, Autobiography of George Mueller, Nisbet and Co., page 296.)

Flavel on Guidance II

John Flavel
If therefore, in doubtful cases, you would discover God’s will, govern yourselves in your search after it by these rules:
1. Get the true fear of God upon your hearts; be really afraid of offending Him.
2. Study the Word more, and the concerns and interests of the world less.
3. Reduce what you know into practice, and you shall know what is your duty to practice.
4. Pray for illumination and direction in the way that you should go.
5. And this being done, follow Providence as far as it agrees with the Word, and no farther. - John Flavel

Monday, March 1, 2010

Suffering in the Western Church

In a response to his previous post on the Big Issues Facing the Western Church, Tim Keller responds with to one area where we as a church are severly deficient:

We must develop a far better theology of suffering. Members of churches in the west are caught absolutely flat-footed by suffering and difficulty. This is a major problem, especially if we are facing greater 'liminality'--social marginalization--and maybe more economic and social instability. There are a great number of books on 'why does God allow evil?' but they mainly are aimed at getting God off the hook with impatient western people who believe God's job is to give them a safe life. The church in the west must mount a great new project--of producing a people who are prepared to endure in the face of suffering and persecution.

Here, too, is one of the ways we in the west can connect to the new, growing world Christianity. We tend to think about 'what we can do for them.' But here's how we let them do something for us. Many or most of the church in the rest of the world is used to suffering and persecution. They have a kind of faith that does not wilt, but rather grows stronger under threat. We need to become students of theirs in this area.

This gives us much food for thought. We need to dig in and partake of the Bread of Life when suffering comes are way. We need to have courage and face are worst foes. Life is usually not about enjoyment, more often it is about suffering and we need to provide the means for a sinful world to see its Saviour.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Heart of Stonewall

Stonewall Jackson
I have been called to pass through the deep waters of affliction, but all has been satisfied...the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord. It is his will that my Dearest wife and child should not longer abide with me, and as it is His holy will I am perfectly reconciled to the sad bereavement, though I deeply mourn my loss. My dearest Ellie breathed her last on Sunday evening, the same day on which the child was born dead. Oh! the consolation of religion! I can willingly submit to anything if God strengthens me. Oh! my Sister would that you could have Him for your God. (From a letter from Stonewall Jackson to his sister on the occasion of the death of his wife and child. Quoted in All Things for Good by Steve Wilkins.)

Though he suffered and labored under this hard affliction of losing both his wife and stillborn son, Jackson never lost his faith. Indeed, it appears over time it may have bolstered it. How will we endure should such a tragedy infect our lives today?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Augustine on Assurance

I have no hope at all but in thy great mercy. Grant what thou commandest and command what thou wilt. Thou dost enjoin on us continence...Truly by continence are we bound together and brought back into that unity from which we were dissipated into a plurality. For he loves thee too little who loves anything together with thee, which he loves not for thy sake. O Love that ever burnest and art never quenched! O Charity, my God, enkindle me! Thou commandest continence. Grant what thou commandest and command what thou wilt. (From Confessions by St. Augustine.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Psalm 122

Are we all looking forward to worshiping our Lord and King tomorrow? Let us seek Him while we can and praise Him with all that is in us.

Psalm 122
1I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!" 2Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!
3Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together, 4to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD,as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. 5There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! "May they be secure who love you! 7Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!" 8For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, "Peace be within you!" 9For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good. - ESV

Friday, February 19, 2010

Brooks on the Means of Grace

Take heed of resting upon closet duties, take heed of trusting in closet duties. Noah’s dove made use of her wings, but she did not trust in her wings, but in the ark. . . . There are many that go a round of duties. . . . and rest upon them when they have done, using the means as mediators, and so fall short of Christ and heaven at once. Closet duties rested in will as eternally undo a man as the greatest and foulest enormities; open wickedness slays her thousands, but a secret resting upon duties slays her ten thousands... Open profaneness is the broad dirty road that leads to hell, but closet duties rested in is a sure way though cleaner way, to hell. - Thomas Brooks

Thursday, February 18, 2010

On Holiness

I do not mean by holiness the mere performance of outward duties of religion, coldly acted over, as a task; not our habitual prayings, hearings, fastings, multiplied one upon another (though these be all good, as subservient to a higher end); but I mean an inward soul and principle of divine life (Romans 8:1-5), that spiriteth all these. - Ralph Cudworth

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The manner of God’s revealing His will to men is (also) very different. Some have had special, personal, and peculiar discoveries of it made to them. So had Samuel about the choice of the person whom he should anoint king. . . . But now, all are tied up to the ordinary standing rule of the written Word, and must not expect any such extraordinary revelations from God. The way we now have to know the will of God concerning us in difficult cases, is to search and study the Scriptures, and where we find no particular rule to guide us in this or that particular case, there we are to apply general rules. - John Flavel

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Beware of giving up too soon

I know I've posted a plethora of "Piper posts" lately but this man never ceases to teach and encourage me. These posts have helped me as much as others and so I share another.

Before you give up, remember you are not alone. In Piper's latest post he relates a time when he was quite down. He graciously shares an entry from his journal some years ago which concludes:

O Lord, have mercy on me. I am so discouraged. I am so blank. I feel like there are opponents on every hand, even when I know that most of my people are for me. I am so blind to the future of the church. O Father, am I blind because it is not my future? Perhaps I shall not even live out the year, and you are sparing the church the added burden of a future I had made and could not complete? I do not doubt for a moment your goodness of power or omnipotence in my life or in the life of the church. I confess that the problem is mine. The weakness is in me. The blindness is in my eyes. The sin—O reveal to me my hidden faults!—is mine and mine the blame. Have mercy, Father. Have mercy on me. I must preach on Sunday, and I can scarcely lift my head.

Read the entire blog post here.

Press on in the Lord my friends, press on.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Psalm 13

Psalm 13 is a great Psalm of meditation for the downhearted.

Psalm 13
How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Trusting in the Midst of Enemies

Psalm 23:5
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

The moment you belong to the flock of God, you will have enemies. If you are a Christian, the devil is your enemy. The world itself can be your enemy; its godlessness, secularism, self-interest and pleasure-seeking lifestyle are all enemies of the flock of Jesus Christ. Our own sinful natures are our greatest enemy. ...God so overrules the events of our lives that the table of his providence has good things for us to enjoy. They may not always be easy or pleasant things, but they are good. (Taken from In the care of the Good Shepherd by Iain Campbell, Day One Publications, page 85.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

Being Christians means that we can have confidence even for the things we have not experienced but that nonetheless cause us anxiety and dread. If God is our Shepherd in Christ, we too can say, 'I will fear no evil.' (From In the care of the Good Shepherd by Iain Campbell, Day One publications, page 68.)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Surprised by Suffering

I'm looking forward to receiving my copy of Surprised by Suffering. Sproul never ceases to teach and encourage and I believe this will be no different. From the Ligonier webpage:

Dr. Sproul offers solid biblical counsel and comfort for those undergoing suffering and for those who minister to the suffering, counsel that helps believers stand in times of trial with faith in a God who is both loving and good.

You can order your copy here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Excellent Advice

I will conclude with that excellent saying of Bernard: “Lord, I will never come away from Thee without Thee.” Let this be a Christian’s resolution, not to leave off his meditations of God till he find something of God in him. -Thomas Watson

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Consider this...

Consider the following quote from Joseph Hall the next time you are enduring a trial, physical pain or some type of affliction:

Not to be afflicted is a sign of weakness; for, therefore God imposeth no more on me, because He sees I can bear no more. -Joseph Hall

May we all bear up under the trials God puts before us so that we may endure more for His glory and our good.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Suffering Well

Lord, you gave this to me for a reason. Let me run with it and do the best I can with it.- Matt Chandler.

I strongly encourage you to read this post about Matt Chandler. He is an encouragement to us all as he suffers well.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Where the Shepherd Leads

The Shepherd never leads his flock where his own grace does not restore and revive their very souls. (Taken from In the care of the Good Shepherd by Iain Campbell, Day One Publications, page 52. This is an outstanding book. Consider purchasing this little gem; it will bless your soul.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

William Bridge on Meditaion

There are two things that make meditation hard. The one is because men are not used thereunto.. . . and another is, because they do not love God enough. Everything is hard at the first: writing is hard at the first, painting hard at the first. . . . meditation will be hard at the first. There is nothing not hard to those that are unwilling. There is nothing hard to those that love, love makes all things easy. Is it a hard thing for a lover to think or meditate on the person loved? - William Bridge

Monday, January 25, 2010

It is but a cloud, it will pass over

We continue our look at Luther's prayer, meditation and trial today with William Bridge on affliction:

If the darkness which a man be under be such, that there are some openings of light withal, then it is the darkness of a cloud, and not of the night.... Now thus it is always with the people of God. They never are in any affliction, temptation, or desertion, but before their great deliverance comes, they have some special providence, some reviving in the midst of their trouble, some interim of light, some openings of the cloud; and therefore, in the midst of all, they may say, Surely this my darkness is not the darkness of the night, but of a cloud. I say, there is no discouragement befalls the saints, but the matter thereof is a cloud, and they may say, It is but a cloud, it will pass over. - WILLIAM BRIDGE

Friday, January 22, 2010

Don't Be Confused

Suffering is suffering no matter what form it takes. We often don't think that we are suffering because we are not be persecuted but that is a false assumption. There is no difference between suffering in persecution or suffering in sickness. John Piper elaborates here:

The most significant difference between sickness and persecution is that persecution is an intentional hostility from someone because we are known to be Christians, but sickness is not. Therefore, in some situations, to choose to be public Christians is to choose a way of life that accepts suffering, if God wills (1 Peter 4:19). But suffering may result from living as a Christian even when there is no intentional hostility from unbelievers. ...[A]ll suffering that comes in the path of obedience is suffering with Christ and for Christ—whether it is cancer or conflict. And it is “chosen”—that is, we willingly take the path of obedience where the suffering befalls us, and we do not murmur against God. ...All experiences of suffering in the path of Christian obedience, whether from persecution or sickness or accident, have this in common: They all threaten our faith in the goodness of God and tempt us to leave the path of obedience. Therefore, every triumph of faith and all perseverance in obedience are testimonies to the goodness of God and the preciousness of Christ—whether the enemy is sickness, Satan, sin, or sabotage. Therefore, all suffering, of every kind, that we endure in the path of our Christian calling is a suffering “with Christ” and “for Christ.” With Him in the sense that the suffering comes to us as we are walking with Him by faith and in the sense that it is endured in the strength He supplies through His sympathizing high-priestly ministry (Hebrews 4:15). (From Desiring God by John Piper, pages 256-257.)

Download your free copy of Desiring God here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thomas Manton on Meditation

What is the reason there is so much preaching and so little practice? For want of meditation. . . . Constant thoughts are operative, and musing makes the fire burn. Green wood is not kindled by a flash or spark, but by constant blowing. -Thomas Manton

Monday, January 18, 2010

Brooks on Prayer

God looks not at the elegancy of your prayers, to see how neat they are; nor yet at the geometry of your prayers, to see how long they are; nor yet at the arithmetic of your prayers, to see how many they are; nor yet at the music of your prayers, nor yet at the sweetness of your voice, nor yet at the logic of your prayers; but at the sincerity of your prayers, how hearty they are. There is no prayer acknowledged, approved, accepted, recorded, or rewarded by God, but that wherein the heart is sincerely and wholly. The true mother would not have the child divided. God loves a broken and a contrite heart, so He loathes a divided heart. God neither loves halting nor halving. - Thomas Brooks

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bridge on Meditation

Meditation will keep your hearts and souls from sinful thoughts. When the vessel is full you can put in no more. . . . If the heart be full of sinful thoughts, there is no room for holy and heavenly thoughts: if the heart be full of holy and heavenly thoughts by meditation, there is no room for evil and sinful thoughts. - William Bridge

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Manton on Meditation

The end of study is information, and the end of meditation is practice, or a work upon the affections. Study is like a winter sun, that shines, but warms not: but meditation is like a blowing upon the fire, where we do not mind the blaze, but the heat. The end of study is to hoard up truth; but of meditation to lay it forth in conference or holy conversation. -Thomas Manton

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rutherford on Prayer

Words are but the body, the garment, the outside of prayer; sighs are nearer the heart work. A dumb beggar getteth an alms at Christ’s gates, even by making signs, when his tongue cannot plead for him; and the rather, because he is dumb. . . . Tears have a tongue, and grammar, and language, that our Father knoweth. Babes have no prayer for the breast, but weeping: the mother can read hunger in weeping. - Samuel Rutherford

Friday, January 8, 2010

Gurnall on Prayer

I wanted to take another look at Luther's Prayer, Meditation and Trial (hence, the name of this blog). To do so, I have found some poignant quotes on each subject and will post them sporadically over the next few weeks. Here is the first:

Prayer is nothing but the promise reversed, or God’s Word formed into an argument, and retorted by faith upon God again.

Praying is the same to the new creature as crying is to the natural. The child is not learned by art or example to cry, but instructed by nature; it comes into the world crying. Praying is not a lesson got by forms and rules of art, but flowing from principles of new life itself.
- William Gurnall

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Throne of Grace

Horatius Bonar on Hebrews 4:16:

In this infinite fountain of the manifold grace of God, there is every needful provision for a saint during all his pilgrimage. There is something here for all times and seasons, for all states and circumstances, for all times and trials. We are unholy; iniquities prevail against us; the flesh lusteth against the spirit. But here is grace to enable us to be holy. we walk too much with the world, too little with God; our walk at the best is uneven, distant, changeful. Here is grace to enable us to walk with God, like Enoch,; to have our conversation in Heaven, even when dwelling on earth. Our souls cleave unto the dust; the things of earth engross and depress us. Here is grace to enable us to set our affections on things above, to live as those who are already seated with Christ in heavenly places, and from these look down upon the earth (Eph 2:6). We have daily infirmities, both of body and spirit, to struggle with. Here is grace to enable us to be strong in the midst of weakness, yea, to glory in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest in us (2 Cor. 12:9). We have a race to run. Here is grace to enable us to run it well - to run it with patience. ...Here, in short, is grace for everything, for every want, for every time - grace wherewith to live, grace wherewith to die. Why then should we be so poor so long as God is rich? Why should we be so weak so long as he is mighty? Why should we be empty so long as he s full? Why should any necessity or trial ever be to great for us, seeing we have him to undertake for us, and seeing we have grace like this to help us in time of need? Why should we ever either fear or doubt, seeing we have a fountain of free love like this to draw from continually? (From The Throne of Grace by Horatius Bonar.)

Why indeed?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Scripture Reading

There has been a plethora of posts on Facebook and in the blogosphere encouraging us to choose a Bible reading plan. May I also encourage everyone to pick a plan, any plan, even just reading a chapter a day or a few verses a day and commit to it for the year. As Richard Baxter has written:

The godly man will read the Word by day, that men, seeing his good works, may glorify his Father who is in heaven; he will do it in the night, that he may not be seen of men; by day, to show that he is not one of those who dread the light; by night, to show that he is one who can shine in the shade; by day, for that is the time for working, work whilst it is day; by night, lest his Master should come as a thief, and find him idle. - Richard Baxter