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Showing posts from 2023

time and eternity

"Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God... For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. " (Psalm 90:1-2, 4 ESV) God is eternal, and we his creatures inhabit time with its many divisions. This is a limitation, but also a gift from God. In my reading of Abraham Kuyper's To Be Near Unto God, I highlighted these excerpts from chapter 60, "His Ways Are Everlasting." He wrote this devotional in the Netherlands at the beginning of the year 1904.   We did not invent time, and its division into years and days; these are ours by God’s appointment. Our God, moreover, whose are the goings of the age, has not only beautifully divided human life, and thereby mightily enlarged it to our idea, but he also pervades it continually with his faithfulness and Fatherly care. Fro

flimsy as stone

"For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God." (Hebrews 11:10)  Here's an excerpt from a recent post by Tim Challies...  "Truly, the most impressive things on earth are ruins. The most impressive civilizations are ruins. The greatest people are ruins. This is a world of ruins. And this teaches us that today’s most breathtaking buildings will also someday be ruins; the most powerful civilizations today will eventually be ruins; the greatest people today will inevitably be reduced to ruins. That’s just the way it is in this broken, beaten, battered world. "And then I ponder this: We are going to a city where there will be no ruins. The gates of pearl will never come unhinged. The streets of gold will never be torn up. The walls of jasper will never fall. The great temple will never lose its opulence. The many mansions will never crumble, never burn, never be destroyed. To the contrary, what is built there will las

clearly seen

"For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made." (Romans 1:19-20a ESV)  "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge." (Psalm 19:1-2 ESV)  "God himself is in and behind nature. Hence nature is not a finished work of art, that exists by itself outside of and apart from God. But God himself gives us to see and to hear his Majesty in the starry heavens by night, in the colors of light by day, in the wonders of the vegetable and animal-world, in the splendor of the sea, in the roar of the hurricane, sometimes even in the rolling of his thunder. In all this, is, and lives, the God Whom we worship. In the throbbings of the life of nature throbs his own Div

describing the fog

How would you go about describing fog, or kinds of fog? How would you feel about enduring days without sunshine?  C. S. Lewis, writing to his brother Warnie in 1932, describes the mists he was experiencing at their home in Oxford (the Kilns). He even seemed to be enjoying the fog! I would love to be as poetically observant about the weather as he was. He writes... That is a thing you and I have to be thankful for–the fact that we do not only don’t dislike but positively enjoy almost every kind of weather. We had about three days of dense fog here lately. That was enough to tax even my powers of doing without the sun, but though it became oppressive in the end I felt that it was a cheap price to pay for its beauties.  There was one evening of mist about three feet deep lying on the fields under the moon–like the mist in the first chapter of Phantastes . There was a morning (up in the top wood) of mist pouring along the ground through the fir trees, so thick and visible that it looked ta

my 1960 playlist

Confession : I did not have a music playlist in 1960, being only 9 years old, and so I listened mainly to the records (33 1/3 LPs) that my parents played on their HiFi turntable in our home.  What got me thinking in this groove was hearing Harry Belafonte on an Amazon playlist, selected by my wife tonight. Belafonte, a famous Calypso singer, passed away in April of this year.  What's amazing to me is that hearing a just few notes and words of a song transported me sixty years back to the tunes that played in my childhood home... But I'm sad to say I'm on my way Won't be back for many a day My heart is down My head is turning around I had to leave a little girl in Kingston town (Jamaica Farewell) There was Harry Belafonte, a favorite of my parents. My mother especially liked "Moon River" by Andy Williams, and being an accordionist, she enjoyed songs like "Beer Barrel Polka", which is still sung these days at the Green Bay Packers' home games.  We

the future from 1950s science fiction

I enjoy reading older science fiction, from the 1940s up to the turn of the century. I especially enjoy Andre (Alice) Norton, Clifford Simak, Philip K. Dick, and many others. And of course, C. S. Lewis's space trilogy tops the list. We may think that science fiction writers in the past, when visualizing the future of western civilization, tended to portray the greatest danger facing the human race as coming from reactionary, conservative, and institutional forces. That may be the case with some authors. But I've noted in at least four works  the greatest danger was visualized as coming from more progressive -- and supposedly scientific -- influences. Here are a few excerpts...  “The physical sciences, good and innocent in themselves, had already begun to be warped, had been subtly maneuvered in a certain direction. Despair of objective truth had been increasingly insinuated into the scientists; indifference to it, and a concentration upon mere power, had been the result… The ve

peace with God

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2 ESV) "Though we were separated from God by the guilt of our sin, on the basis of Christ's finished work God has declared us justified. On the basis of Christ's finished work, He is at peace with us. Because God is at peace with us, because He has declared us justified, because we have returned to the purpose of our creation, we can in the present have a relationship with God and can have true peace in our own hearts.  "People struggle like mad to have peace in their hearts. They try all kinds of psychological methods to find some point of integration. But all such efforts lead only to disappointment unless it involves the relationship and the purpose for which we were created. The only way we can return to that pu

faithfulness, not famousness

"In the parable of the talents, the master says to his servant, ' Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'   "The master, who represents God, praises his servant for being faithful. He doesn’t praise his servant for being awesome. He doesn’t praise his servant for being extreme, innovative, productive, or edgy. He doesn’t praise his servant for taking the road less traveled, finding self-fulfillment, or adding his verse to the story (see Dead Poets Society ). He praises his servant for faithfully working with what he was given. The thing God cares about and honors is faithfulness, not famousness.  "Face it: faithfulness is pretty boring. Faithfulness looks like creating spreadsheets and changing diapers and caring for aging parents and setting up chairs on Sunday morning. Nobody gets a standing ovation for faithfulness. Nobody makes documentaries about faithful servan

Alive to God

"Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:8-11) We as Christians must always keep in mind that not only did Jesus die for our sins , but that we, in union with Christ, have died with him , and so have been removed from the dominion of sin. This death to sin -- and reckoning ourselves to be dead to sin -- is not the ultimate goal, but rather, being able to live freely for God. Francis Schaeffer comments on Romans 6:10b, "...but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God." (KJV)... Jesus died once for all, but now He continues to live "unto God." He died, not just to die, but to be alive to God. Likewise, our calling as Christians is neve

eternal Shepherd

“Therefore they are before the throne of God, a nd serve him day and night in his temple;  and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.  They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;  the sun shall not strike them,  nor any scorching heat.  For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,  and he will guide them to springs of living water,  and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  (Revelation 7:15-17 ESV) "Eternal shepherding. This is a pastoral scene. This is what we are being given by John, a pastoral scene of the final assembly of the saints and of the life beyond the grave. In other words, as we look back over our lives, we can speak of the bleak herbage, of the wilderness, the brook-less channels, the falling snows, the angry tempest, the roar of the ravening wolves, but they are no more. It’s a glorious picture of unbroken sunshine gleaming pastures, pellucid waters, living fountains for sheep. That’s what we are. We’re s

wrath to come

I'm reading through Francis Schaeffer's Bible study commentary on Romans chapters 1 through 8, published posthumously by Crossway in 1998. These talks were originally given in a student flat in Lausanne, Switzerland, in the 1960s. I was impressed with a point he made on Romans 2:6-8, which had to do with recognizing the wrath of God upon lost humanity. These days, when I find myself irritated by words and actions of people, I try to remember that they are made in the image of God. But Schaeffer adds another point, and that is to remember that those who continue in rebellion against God will face his fiery and eternal judgment. This truth should arouse our pity and concern for their lost condition. We should try to place ourselves in their situation.   "...who will render to every man according to his deeds." (Romans 2:6)  "This is not talking about salvation by works. Rather, Paul is saying that we will be judged, not on the basis of what we profess to believe, b

daily devo with Bavinck

I am currently reading Donald McKim's new book, Daily Devotions with Herman Bavinck: Believing and Growing in Christian Faith (P&R Publishing, 2023). Here's an excerpt, from day #6...  The Heart and Core of Our Confession Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 28:19) BASIC TO CHRISTIAN faith is our belief in God as the divine Trinity. We confess one God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in one God in three persons. The Trinity is three distinct persons in the one divine being. This belief emerged in the early Christian centuries. On the basis of the Old and New Testaments and consideration of the overall witness of the Scriptures, the church affirmed its faith in the triune God: God as three persons in unity. In the familiar Apostles' Creed, we confess that we believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as the three persons of the one God. Th

the model of past glory

"I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God." (Revelation 3:1b-2 ESV)  "Deliver us Lord, from the formalities that do not have reality. We pray that we may truly have the kind of spiritual reality that we confess in our faith in Jesus Christ." (S. Lewis Johnson, prayer) A group of us are studying through Jesus' words to the seven churches of Revelation (Rev chaps 2-3). We have found the messages given by Dr. Lewis Johnson back in the late-1980s at Believers Chapel (Dallas, TX) to be especially helpful. Following are some excerpts from his message regarding the church at Sardis:  "One of the things that the Christian church must contend with is the fact that it is offensive to the world when it is being true to the word of God. And really, as one of my old teachers used to like to say, 'It is a terrib

What to pray for others

  What to pray for others             Sometimes we are at a loss about what to pray for other people. Thankfully, God knows what they need, and the Holy Spirit is interceding, as well. But we can learn to move past our common prayers (like, "Lord, be with them," and "Lord, bless them") to include some of the things the Apostle Paul prayed for his fellow believers. Here are 18 requests, gleaned from Paul's prayers* in his NT epistles:   1.             Give thanks for God being at work in them for salvation and growth. 2.             Pray that they would know God’s will with all wisdom. 3.             That they would walk worthy of (live up to) their calling. 4.             For God to enable them to live a life pleasing to him. 5.             That they would grow in the knowledge of the Lord. 6.             For God to empower them for every good work. 7.             For their sanctification in the beauty of holiness. 8.             That God wo