Tuesday's slice of bread

A weekly post premised on this: Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord (Prov. 16:20)

My Photo
Location: Florence, Kentucky, United States

married to my best friend, writer, teacher, avid reader, occasional poet, volunteer

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Anticipation, or more reasons to be thankful

This day is between the celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have fond memories of the one and even grater expectations of the other. When I was a great deal younger, the anticipation was of the gifts and the meals and time with those we didn't see often. Now the anticipation is celebrating the Gift of eternal life, the Meal in Communion, and the eventual reunion with those who have gone before.
I am thankful that Christmas is the beginning of Easter, and Easter of the Ascension, and the Ascension of the Return.
Just as Christ came in the fullness of time as a baby under the rule of others, so He will return in the fullness of time, revealed as Sovereign Ruler over all.
Even so, come!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Forgetfulness and Wisdom

Continuing the series on forgetfulness and the consequences of, we come to the subject of wisdom.

If anyone can be accused of forgetfulness when it comes to wisdom, it is King Solomon. He was known for the wisdom God granted him--enough that it was famous beyond the borders of his kingdom. Yet, why did Solomon not take full advantage of this gift?

"Compromise" is one word that comes to mind. Back in that day, it was common for kings to make marriage alliances as a part of treaties. Solomon followed this practice, even though God had forbidden marriage with outsiders. (Read 1 Kings chapters 3-11.)

First Kings 11 reveals that the turning of Solomon's heart occurred because he loved many foreign women, and it enumerates the nations they came from in verses 1-10.

That chapter also tells of the consequences: "Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, 'Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen'" (11:11-23).

The rest of 1 Kings 11 tells how the Lord brought this about.

We have the writings of Solomon in Proverbs, the Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes--what we might consider his spiritual diary. Ecclesiastes 12 ends with these poignant words: "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything  which is hidden, whether it is good or evil" (vv. 13-14, NAS; other references, ESV).

If King Solomon could be forgetful, what risks might we run? It may not be from having a lot, as he did. It may be from trials the Lord ordains for us.

One of my favorite Scripture passages is James 1:2-5: "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him."

Perhaps the "but" at the beginning of verse 5 is meant to encourage those who are unsure as to how to work out verses 2-4. It is not automatic for us to consider our various trials as sources of joy, so we often don't realize that these tests produce endurance, or the eventual outcome of endurance.

If you are like me, you want the tests/trials to end, period. We are short sighted if we think endurance is only something athletes need.

The writer of Hebrews has much to say, too about endurance. In Hebrews 12, we read: "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (vv. 1-4)

What do I see in James and in Hebrews? That, as we grow in all other aspects of sanctification, persevering, we will also grow in His wisdom so long as we do not forget to seek it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Some Books about The Reformation

Late last year my husband Garry found a book we'd urge you to obtain and read: Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2016), by Erwin W. Lutzer.

Other books Garry has which are pertinent to the topic of the Reformation are:

The Reformation by Owen Chadwick
The Age of the Reformation by Roland H. Bainton
Here I Stand by Roland H. Bainton
The Life and Times of Martin Luther by J. H. Merle D'Aubigne

Our pastor in Cincinnati recommends The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World by Stephen Nichols.

Today is the 500th anniversary of the real start of the Protestant Reformation in Europe when Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany on the eve of All Saints' Day.  So take a moment or two to reflect on and celebrate that momentous event--never mind the carnal fuss and frivolity of Halloween.

Consider just a few of Luther's Theses that retain a timeless and scriptural significance:

(1) "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ says repent, He means that the whole life of believers upon earth should be a constant and perpetual repentance."

(36) "Every Christian who truly repents of his sins, enjoys an entire remission both of the penalty and the guilt [that is, he or she receives justification], without any need of indulgences."

(95) "For it is far better to enter into the kingdom of heaven through much tribulation [through the narrow gate of genuine salvation] than to acquire a carnal security by the consolations of a false peace [indulgences, rituals, false works--'salvation' by any other means than by faith alone, through grace alone, by Christ alone]."

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Forgetfulness, Righteous Fear, and Sinful Fear

Continuing to unpack the consequences of forgetfulness, we look today at fear. There are different kinds of fear. One, the fear of God is a righteous fear. The other kind, which manifests itself in various forms, is a sinful fear. How easy it is to give way to sinful fears when we forget the ways God's grace and mercy have manifested themselves. Worst of all, we forget the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection.

Holy Fear
Before Genesis 3, fear as we know it probably did not exist. I would think there was a right reverence of God by Adam and Eve before then. But not the fear they knew after the initial disobedience. Fear became a logical outcome of disobedience and remains so to this day.
Instinctively now
We fear age;
We fear disease;
We fear injury;
We fear death;
We fear being
Found out as
And well we should.
God told our first parents disobedience would have consequences and
So it was and so it is.
We disobey Him in thought, in word, in deed,
Fearlessly as sinners, thinking those consequences can be avoided.
They cannot be.
Sin leads to death, sooner or later, and judgment, and eternity--
And some say, "Why should He make only one way to be reconciled?"
And I say, "Why should He make any way?"
Such merciful grace is not a right but a gift,
A gift He can choose to give or to withhold,
Just as we can, on a human level, give or withhold gifts.
Making a way to be reconciled with a sinner is a merciful gift of
Such an amazing magnitude and cost to the Giver that the only
Logical response to Him can be
Grateful repentance, thanks, and "Thy will be done."

O Friend of sinners, O Lover of my soul, that You would act to make me whole!
This wretch You chose to make Your child, the highest cost of any adoption--
Adoration is my response!
Made accepted in the Beloved!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name!

Fearing God Rightly
Fearing God involves trembling before His holiness,
Revering in His Fatherhood, having been adopted into His eternal family,
Being grateful for His sacrifice which involved the Godhead,
Repenting of sin, for all sins are ultimately against Him,
Enjoying His forgiveness,
Rejoicing in His infinite unchangingness,
Bowing before His throne.

Sinful Fear and Its Remedy
How easy it is to give way to fear,
To let it dominate thought and life,
To let it swallow up all hope,
How easy it is to give way.
How hard it is to be humble instead,
To admit the need for
The strength of Another,
To admit being a sinner
In need of Another.
But that Other was the most humble,
Obeying His Father from birth to the grave,
Laying down that one perfect life
For those who have lived sin, fear, pride,
And so there is no need to fear,
Except to fear the One who owns body and soul,
Who has the right to send the disobedient to hell
And most certainly will.
O fear the Father and cast yourself on the mercy of the Son through the Spirit!

(For additional reading: The Forgotten Fear: Where Have All the God-Fearers Gone? by Albert N. Martin)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Forgetfulness and Anxiety

Last week's post was on various aspects of forgetfulness and their consequences. This week is a review of the aspects of anxiety/worry when we forget what God has provided for His own.

Anyone who is honest has struggled with anxiety and/or worry at one time or another. There are plenty of causes, both internal and external, for either. Will I meet the right person to marry? Will I get into the school I want to attend? Will I get a job that supports me sufficiently? Will I be able to be a good parent? Will I be able to help my parents in ways that are useful to them? Will I even be able to have a child? Will my marriage last? Will I run out of money? Many questions can cause us anxiety, anxious thoughts, and worry takes over our minds and lives.

I should know. I have been a victim of anxiety. It started when I was in college, many years ago. It got to the point that I had to leave school for a while. Providentially, I was able to pull myself together, return (under probation, admittedly), and complete my degree.

But that was not the end of my struggles.

How have I been able to deal with these recurring matters? Through Scripture, counseling based on Scripture, prayer, repenting, facing the fears that are behind my anxiety and worry, rejoicing in God's eternal goodness and faithfulness.

I went through a major struggle when we first moved to California in 1994, and I found a great deal of help from Elizabeth George's book, Loving God with All Your Mind, because it directed me to these places: 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ"; and Philippians 4:6-8: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

Philippians 4:8 also gave me a grid through which to process my thoughts and my emotions.

There are dozens of places in both the Old Testament and the New Testament which deal with these issues of the heart.

I have not "arrived" but now I know where to go and Who to go to when I struggle. Psalm 94:19: "When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul." Psalm 139:23-24: "Search me, O God, and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way."

What is essential is trusting in the unchanging character of the One who saved and is sanctifying His own. When His priorities are ours, we can rest.

(Books that have assisted me are many: A Lifting Up for the Downcast by William Bridges; All Things for Good by Thomas Watson; The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes; Anxious for Nothing (first published as Anxiety Attacked) by John MacArthur; A Shelter in the Time of Storm by Paul David Tripp; and Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.) What do these books have in common? They are based on Scripture.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Forgetfulness and the Consequences Thereof

On any given day, Facebook has a way for you to review your memories from years past. It made me think about how quickly we forget, whether a national catastrophe or a personal, precious memory.

Who remembers hurricanes or tornadoes or droughts or floods or earthquakes past unless they have been affected by them? Or on a more sweet side, sermons or Scripture passages which seemed so significant at the time?

I suspect it is our tendency to spiritual forgetfulness that is behind all of the reminders the Bible includes.

We forget how God has met our needs, and then we become anxious. So we find ourselves needing what Paul wrote: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

We forget how God has manifested His power, and then we become fearful. So we find ourselves where Jeremiah was: "Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and the bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning" (Lamentations 3:19-23).

We forget how God has manifested His wisdom, and then we become nervous. So we find ourselves where the Psalmist was: "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence" (Psalm 42:8).

We forget God. We look around or within for the answers we need. So we find ourselves needing to remember what Peter wrote: "Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins" (2 Peter 1:3-9).

Finally, we need to remember the Lord's own words: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful" (John 14:27).

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Directional Living

We are naturally inclined to the relationships we have with other people, whether family or friends. We are naturally inclined to seek our satisfaction in such relationships. We are naturally inclined to make more of these relationships than they can bear. We need to reconsider our directional living.

Directional Living

How easy it is to live horizontally,
Forgetting the vertical,
Stretching out rather than up,
Yammering frustration rather than
Offering praise,
Seeking in each other what
Only God can provide.
In the cross,
vertical and horizontal meet,
God and man greet
In the One Incarnate,
Wholly holy God and man,
Freely giving His immaculate life
To end the strife sin wreaks
Between God and man,
Between man and man.
Only a right vertical relationship
Can make any right horizontal relationship possible.
Only in Christ crucified do vertical and horizontal connect
In perfection.
Only in Christ crucified do we have reconciliation with
God by faith alone, in Christ alone and grace alone--
Grace that is greater,
Grace that is saving,
Grace that is sanctifying,
Grace that makes the 66 books we call the Bible
Clear to us and
Dear to us;
The Word Incarnate and the Word in print,
The greatest treasure for this life and the life to come,
To be treasured above all for all time.
Life up your eyes, lift up your heart to
Biblical, directional living.

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus says, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall."

This is more than a story that has been turned into a children's song, complete with motions. This is a warning regarding our response to Jesus. The circumstances of life were the same for both men--rain, floods, winds--but the outcome very different because of the responses made. The consequences would not necessarily be obvious immediately, but some day the foundation, or lack thereof, would be obvious to all.