Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"The Secret" and The Glory Of God

Because of much of the hype concerning the New York Times Bestseller "The Secret," I wanted to forward on to you this excellent blog entry by Dr. Mohler as he diagnoses this particular book, along with Dr. Donald Whitney. It is a very thorough and thoughtful book review, that takes the claims of this book and sheds the light of the Cross upon it. I wanted to forward this review on to you 1) because of the book's great popularity and 2) because of how Dr. Mohler speaks of these very popular cultural ideas so that you might be able to engage others with The Truth, that is no secret! Enjoy.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Father Of A Flourishing Family - Psalm 128:1-4

Below is a an excerpt from a journal that I receive from time to time that is for pastors, called the "Kairos Journal." I found this both greatly convicting and helpful as I myself as a father and a husband am seeking to grow in these precious roles and responsibilities that the Lord has given to me. I trust you will not only be provoked, but served as you read this passage of Scripture, meditate on it, and then read the commentary that follows it. Take care. -MH


The Secret of a Flourishing Family

Psalm 128:1-4: "Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD."

In Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, Michael Henchard committed one of the most despicable deeds possible: while drunk, he sold his wife and daughter for a few pounds. In one merciless act, he cut off the very people the Lord intended to be a man’s blessing, his family. Not surprisingly, Henchard reaped a reward of loneliness and sorrow. Obviously, this was not God’s plan.

Psalm 128 presents God’s intention for the family. It is a song of ascents sung as the Israelites made their way to worship and offer sacrifices at the temple. It would not have been uncommon for entire families to journey together and for the women and children to stand behind the father, the representative of the home, as the priest made atonement for their sin. Such a trip was the perfect time for a husband and father to be reminded that God delights in blessing the man whose heart belongs to the Lord.

The blessed man of verse one is a holy man, intent on submitting to God by following His Law. Verse two indicates that he is a man who works and whose labor is not in vain. Indeed, he is productive (an important reminder that hard work and blessings go hand in hand). In verse three, the Hebrew man is told that holiness makes family life wonderful.

A wife and children are part of God’s plan for the righteous man’s life. Unlike the adulteress of Proverbs 7:11, who “is loud and wayward,” whose “feet do not stay at home,” his wife is “a fruitful vine within your house.” She is both productive and faithful. As “a fruitful vine,” she brings forth children who are “like olive shoots at [the] table.” Husband and wife fill a home; they build a community.

Of course, there is no perfect family. The Hebrew men knew this. After all, they were going to the temple to offer sacrifices for their sin—singing these words reminded them that they missed God’s mark and needed His forgiveness. The same is true today. No man always walks in the ways of the Lord. Marriage is not constantly a celebration. Sometimes, children seem more like thorns than olive shoots.

Nonetheless, the Church needs thoughtful men willing to contemplate Psalm 128 and recognize their own faults. If their wives are wayward or if their children are unruly, husbands and fathers should first look at their own hearts and ask themselves the questions: “Am I fearing the Lord, am I walking in His ways?” Personal holiness is never merely personal—like a pebble thrown into a pond, a man’s character ripples into the lives of others—especially those closest to him. The well-being of a man’s family is yet one more reason for him to fear the Lord.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sickness Sanctified To The Saint, part 4

Ok, for those of you who might be "sick" of these blogs about sickness...this one is for you. Though there is much more that can be said on this topic (and I might say more at a later date), I wanted to share with you the words of the Puritan pastor, Mr. Lewis Bayly again, but this time on what do when you are well. I, personally found this to be very helpful, because all too often, when I am sick, I will find myself crying out to God, but then when I am fully recovered, I find my heart once again directed back at myself again.

"Meditations For One That Is Recovered From Sickness" - Lewis Bayly

"If God has of his mercy heard thy prayers, and restored thee to thy health again, consider with thyself:

1. That thou hast now received from God, as it were, another life. Spend it therefore to the honor of God, in newness of life. Let thy sin die with thy sickness; but live thou by grace to holiness.

2. Be not more secure, that thou art restored to health, neither exult in thyself, that thou escaped death; but rather think, that God seeing how unprepared thou wast, hath of his mercy heard thy prayer, spared thee, and given thee some little longer time of respite; that thou mayest both amend thy life, and put thyself in a better readiness against the time that he shall call for thee, without further delay, out of this world. For though thou hast escaped this, it may be, thou shalt not escape the next sickness.

3. [Hold fast to Christ because] thou knowest not how near [the end] is at hand [for you]. [Use this sickness and] be so fairly warned, be wiser.

4. [If sin was the cause of your sickness...] Return not now, with the dog, to thine own vomit, nor like the washed sow, to wallow again in the mire of they former sins and uncleanness; lest being entangled and overcome again with the filthiness of sin, which thou has escape, [and] thy latter end prove worse than the first beginning. Twice, does our Lord give the same cautionary warning to healed sinners, First, to the man cured of thirty-eight years' disease - "Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing fall upon thee." Secondly, to the woman taken in adultery - "Neither do I condemn thee; go thy way and sin no more." Teaching us, how dangerous a thing it is to relapse and fall again into the former excess of roit. Take heed, therefore, unto thy ways, and pray for grace, that thou mayest appy thy heart unto wisdom, during that small number of days which yet remain behind; and for thy present mercy and health recieved, imitate the thankful leper, and return to God in thanksgiving."

Now, with Mr. Bayly's words, I would like to add another meditation for when you recover:

5. Let your former fervor and crying out to God be your present fervor and desire. I would encourage you to think about your desparation in times of sickness and pain and how you were crying out to God then...use that, as a living parable for how desparately we always need His active saving presence in our lives. Let this preach to yourself of how greatly we need Christ in doing battle against the "cancer" of our souls - sin. As you laid down in your sickness hating the illness that came over you, let that preach to you of the distain we are to have, and need to have for our present levels of tempting sins.

6. Give yourself sometime of thanking God for your healing. Make this an active aspect of your worship and meditation to God, thinking upon His goodness.

7. Testify to others what God has done! This takes humility on our parts as well, which is good for our souls, to stop and engage with others concerning what God Himself in His undeserving kindness and mercies has done for you!

I am sure there are many more, but *cough* *cough* until next time.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sickness Sanctified To The Saint, part 3

Through this series of blog entries I came across a particular puritian writer of the 17th century, Lewis Bayly. As I read the puritians I am forever humbled by how they sought to use every situation as an opportunity to pursue, long for and love Christ. They, like Mr. Bayly were spiritual giants. I trust that this entry will provoke you in the midst of trial, sickness or affliction to pursue Christ and to grow in your savoring of our Glorious Savior as we grow in the school of affliction.

Below is an excerpt from his book, "The Practice of Piety." In some places, I have changed some of the wording to make it more readable. For a full original copy of this you can contact, "Soli Deo Gloria Publications."

Meditations for the Sick - By Lewis Bayly

Whilst thy sickness remain, use often, for thy comfort, these few meditations:

1. (If your afflictions are due to your sin) By afflictions God may not only correct our sins past, but also work in us a deeper loathing of our natural corruptions, and so prevent us from falling into many other sins, which otherwise we would commit. Like a good father, who suffers his children to allow them to be scorched by the smallest of candles, that the child may rather learn to beware of falling into a greater fire: so that the child of God may say with David, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn thy statues; for before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep thy word." ...For God, like a skillful physician, seeing the soul to be poisoned with the settling of sin, and knowing that the reigning of the flesh will prove the ruin of the spirit, ministereth the bitter pill of affliction, whereby the relics of sin are purged, and the soul more soundly cured; the flesh is subdued, and the spirit is sanctified. O' the odiousness of sin, which causeth God to chasen so severly his children, whom otherwise he loveth so dearly!

2. God sends afflictions to wean our hearts from too much loving this world and worldly vanities; and to cause us the more earnestly to desire and long for eternal life [with Him.] As the children of Israel, had they not been ill-entreated in Egypt, would never have been so willing to go towards Canaan; so, were it not for the crosses and afflictions of this life, God's children would not so heartily long for and willingly desire the kingdom of heaven. For we see many [people] that would be content to forego heaven, on condition that they might still enjoy their earthly pleasures; and having never tasted the joys of a better, how loath are they to depart this life? Whereas the Apostle that saw heaven's glory tells us, that there is no more comparison between the joys of eternal life, and the pleasures of this world, then there is between the filthiest dung and the pleasantest meat...so God mixes sometimes affliction with the pleasures and prosperity of this life, lest, like the children of this generation, they should forget God, and fall in too much love of this present evil world; and so by riches grow proud; by fame insolent; by liberty, wanton; and spurn with their heel against the Lord.

3. Affliction works in us pity and compassion toward our fellow-brethern that be in distress and misery; whereby we learn to have a fellow-feeling of their calamities, and to walk with them. And for this cause Christ himself would suffer and be tempted in all things like unto us, yet without sin that we might not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness.

4. By afflictions God makes us conformable to the image of Christ his Son, who being the captain of our salvation, was made perfect through sufferings. Therefore he first bare the cross in shame, before he was crowned with glory; he did first take gall; before he did eat the honeycomb; and was the derided King of the Jews, by the soldiers in the High Priest's hall, before he was saluted King of glory, by the angels in his Father's court. [We press on having this hope] that when we have for a time borne his likeness in his sufferings, and fought and overcome, we shall be crowned by Christ; and with Christ, sit on his throne...and shall make us shine like Christ forever in his glory."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sickness Sanctified To The Saint, part 2

"Treasures are concealed in the great depths." This is a line from the quote listed below by Charles Spurgeon. I wanted to continue this series of blogs on sickness/affliction and God's sovereign hand at work in His people. I trust your soul will not only be fed by it, but also envisioned for the work that He is presently doing in you.

"Deep water conceals great treasure. Pearls lie there, and masses of precious things that make a miser's eye gleam like a star. Down deep are the wreaks of old Spanish galleons lost centuries ago. There they lie, huge mines of wealth. So it is with the deep judgements of God (Ps. 36:6). Wisdom is concealed there, treasures of love and faithfulness. If we could only understand that there is as much wisdom in some of God's deep afflictions as there is in the creation of the world. God afflicts His people artistically. His is never a random blow. Only marvelous skill lies in the Lord's chastening. Thus we are told, "Do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction" (Prov. 3:11).

Treasures are concealed in the great depths. We do not receive or even perceive the present and immediate benefit of some of our afflictions. Affliction in our youth may be intended for the ripening of our old age. Today's affliction may have no meaning today; it may be designed for circumstances fifty years ahead.

Why then will you not let the Lord have time? Why are you in a hurry? Why do you perpetually ask, "Explain this now, and show me the present motive and reason." "A thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night" (Ps. 90:4). The mighty God takes mighty time to work out His grand results. Therefore, be content to let the treasures lie at the bottom of the deep. Everything that is stored in the great deep of eternal purpose belongs to you. Rejoice in it. Let it lie there until God chooses to raise it for your spiritual enrichment."

-Charles Spurgeon

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Sickness Sanctified To The Saint

Sickness can often times viewed as something to "just get through." However, if you are struggling with more long term sickness, disease and pain, those seasons can be particularlly discouraging, and with them there can be times of just feeling hopeless and alone. With that, I wanted to just send you a note of encouragement, hope and help as you might find yourself upon your bed.

A year ago when I was sick for a prolonged period of time with pnemonia, I found myself, by God's grace praying, "Lord, use this...use this time, sanctify it for my good." In that I found comfort in knowing that this was not something that was outside of God's providential care for me, but instead that He has brought this to my door, ultimately to make me more and more like Himself, working this for my good (Romans 8:28). In that, and through also the great witness of my wife, who has been through far more health difficulties than my own...and knowing that many of you might also be struggling with physical sickness, or the like, I wanted to bring to you the words of Mr. Charles Spurgeon to help bring encouragement, health and strength to your own soul. I pray that this may minister to you and for you to know God's active care and presence to take your sickness and sanctify it to the eternal betterment of your own soul.


His Bed Of Illness -by Charles Spurgeon

"The Lord sustains him on his sickbed" -Psalm 41:3

"The Holy Peace of God's suffering child is one of the finest sermons that can ever be preached. A sick saint is often used by God far more than the most eloquent preacher. When people see how willingly you submit to the divine will, how patiently you endure painful operations, and how God your Maker gives you songs in the night (Job 35:10), you are greatly used. I visit people who have been bedridden for years, whose influence extends over the entire parish. They are known as poor holy women or as old Christian men. I get more from talking with these people for har an hour than I derive from all the books in my library. Yet these saints thought they were doing nothing. Look at your situation in this light. You can praise God on your bed; you can make your room as vocal for God as any pulpit. Let true religion be your life, and then your life will be true religion. This is how it ought to be. "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). As the streams of your common life flows obscure and unobserved, be holy and coureageous, and you will find that "they also serve who only stand and wait." You, who can do no more than simply sit at Jesus' feet and listen to His words, will not be neglected or overlooked." -Charles Spurgeon

Remember "the Lord sustains him on his sickbed." Take care and may He sanctify your sickness to your soul.