Monday, January 26, 2015

If God is your own...

Naranjas
For the first two or three years after my conversion, I used to ask for specific things. Now I ask for God. Supposing there is a tree full of fruits, you will have to go and buy or beg the fruits from the owner of the tree. Every day you would have to go for one or two fruits. But if you can make the tree your own property, then all the fruits will be your own. In the same way, if God is your own, then all things in Heaven and on earth will be your own, because He is your Father and is everything to you; otherwise you will have to go and ask like a beggar for certain things. When they are used up, you will have to ask again. So ask not for gifts, but for the Giver of Gifts: not for life but for the Giver of Life—then life and the things needed for life will be added unto you. ...Sadhu Sundar Singh image

Friday, January 23, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

God of Fire, Man of Prayer: James Alexander Bryan

By Timothy George
I/12/15

Excerpt: What was the secret of Brother Bryan’s ministry? By all accounts, it was the spirit and practice of prayer. Hunter B. Blakely, whose book, Religion in Shoes, tells the story of Bryan’s life, reports that “Let us pray” were the words most frequently upon the lips of this beloved pastor. “No man has ever believed more implicitly in prayer than he, and never were prayers more unconventional. Prayer seems to him as natural as for a man to breathe the air. Why not, he would reason, for is God not the most real thing in the universe?”

Brother Bryan was a promiscuous pray-er who prayed with thousands in hospitals, prisons, and halfway houses. He prayed with countless others at weddings and funerals, over the telephone, on the sidewalk, in the mills and factories of the city, and in his pastor’s study, which was known as Birmingham’s “confessional.” It was said that “the fragrance of his prayer life permeated the whole city.” His prayers were often short and to the point, but they were more than pious platitudes. He knew that prayer was a vital component of what St. Paul called “the full armor of God” (Eph. 6:11). Every prayer involved spiritual combat, and one of his most characteristic prayers was this one: “O Lord, help us to fight the devil!”

One of the most interesting prayer stories from Brother Bryan’s life came from one Thursday night when he was walking home alone after dark. Suddenly, a man jumped out of an alley, pushed a gun into his face, and said, “Hands up.” Brother Bryan complied as the man rifled through his pockets, taking his watch and the little cash he had on him. When the robbery was done and before the thief could depart, he heard the minister say, “Brother, let us pray.” As Brother Bryan prayed, the thief lowered his gun and placed the watch and stolen money back into the hands of his victim.
  the rest image

Friday, January 9, 2015

Even though I am in the midst of danger...

sea
Even though I am in the midst of danger, temptation, sin and sorrow of this world, through Him who gave His life I am saved. The sea is salty and the fish lives all its life in it. But it never gets salty, because it has life. Even so if we receive life from Him, though in the world, we are not of the world. Not only here, but also in Heaven we shall find ourselves in Him. ...Sadhu Sundar Singh image

Christian Scholarship and the Distinguishing Virtue of Humility

Jesus Cross
Matthew J. Hall
January 5, 2015

I never had the chance to meet him in person, but I have become an ardent admirer of Carl F. H. Henry. And while I have come to appreciate his brilliance as a Christian thinker, I am always struck by his humility. Don’t get me wrong, Henry was not reluctant to call a spade a spade or to dismantle erroneous arguments, heterodoxy, or injustice. But he did so with a marked humility that is also evident from the countless anecdotes I have heard from his former friends, students, and colleagues.

D. A. Carson tells of a conversation near the end of Henry’s life, when he asked the aging theologian how he had sought to remain humble. Coming from a giant of evangelical theology, Henry’s response is noteworthy. “How can anyone be arrogant when he stands beside the cross?” I want to be more like that. But I find the rip tide of self-promotion to be a powerful one, pulling me out to an eventual and certain ruin.

Christian scholarship must be, by its very essence, characterized by a love for, and earnest desire to seek, the truth. This means it will by necessity involve conviction, critical thought, and the best tools of research and inquiry. the rest  image
Those called to teach, research, and write, to create new knowledge and transmit ancient wisdom, are fundamentally a called people. Thus we must carry out that vocation in all its aspects with a humble spirit, mindful that it has been entrusted to us by divine grace, no matter how credentialed or accomplished we may appear to be.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year 2015-Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God...

Morning Birds
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.   -Ephesians 4:17-32  image

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Of the Father’s love begotten...

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever bless├Ęd, when the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him,
and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!
...Au­rel­i­us Pru­den­ti­us image

Once in Royal David's City


King’s College Choir

Albert Mohler: “And Them That Mourn-Celebrating Christmas in the Face of Grief and Death”

Flight to Egypt 19
Families across the Christian world are gathering for Christmas even now, with caravans of cars and planeloads of passengers headed to hearth and home. Christmas comes once again, filled with the joy, expectation, and sentiment of the season. It is a time for children, who fill homes with energy, excitement, and sheer joy. And it is a time for the aged, who cherish Christmas memories drawn from decades of Christmas celebrations. Even in an age of mobility, families do their best to gather as extended clans, drawn by the call of Christmas.

And yet, the sentiment and joy of the season is often accompanied by very different emotions and memories. At some point, every Christian home is invaded by the pressing memory of loved ones who can no longer gather — of empty chairs and empty arms, and aching hearts. For some, the grief is fresh, suffering the death of one who was so very present at the Christmas gathering last year, but is now among the saints resting in Christ. For others, it is the grief of a loss suffered long ago. We grieve the absence of parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and siblings. Some, with a grief almost too great to bear, suffer the heartbreak that comes with the death of a child.

For all of us, the knowledge of recent events of unspeakable horror and the murder of young children make us think of so many homes with such overwhelming grief.

Is Christmas also for those who grieve? Such a question would perplex those who experienced the events that night in humble Bethlehem and those who followed Christ throughout his earthly ministry. Christmas is especially for those who grieve... the rest  image
...for the message of Christmas is nothing less than the death of death in the death and resurrection of Christ.

To watch for Christ...

looking out glow windows
Do you know the feeling, in matters of this life, of expecting a friend, expecting him to come, and he delays?... Do you know what it is to be in anxiety lest something should happen which may happen or may not, or to be in suspense about some important event, which makes your heart beat when you are reminded of it, and of which you think the first thing in the morning. Do you know what it is to have a friend in a distant country, to expect news of him, and to wonder from day to day what he is now doing, and whether he is well? Do you know what it is so to live upon a person who is present to you, that your eyes follow his, that you read his soul, that you see all its changes in his countenance, that you anticipate his wishes, that you smile in his smile, and are sad in his sadness, and are downcast when he is vexed, and rejoice in his successes? To watch for Christ is a feeling such as all these; as far as feelings of this world are fit to shadow out those of another. ...John Henry Newman image

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The gloom of the world is but a shadow...

Sunrise on Marblehead Neck, MA
I am your friend and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not got, but there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven!

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see - and to see we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by the covering, cast them away as ugly, or heavy or hard. Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love, by wisdom, with power.

Welcome it, grasp it, touch the angel's hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty - beneath its covering - that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.

Courage, then, to claim it, that is all. But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are all pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home.

And so, at this time, I greet you. Not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you now and forever, the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.

This letter was written by Fra Giovanni Giocondo to his friend, Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi on Christmas Eve, 1513. image

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Men and women are at their noblest and best...

James Byron
Men and women are at their noblest and best when they are on their knees before God in prayer. To pray is not only to be truly godly; it is also to be truly human. For here are human beings, made by God like God and for God, spending time in fellowship with God. So prayer is an authentic activity in itself, irrespective of any benefits it may bring us. Yet it is also one of the most effective of all means of grace. I doubt if anybody has ever become at all Christlike who has not been diligent in prayer. ...John R. W. Stott image

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

From God Christ's deity came forth...

From God Christ's deity came forth,
His manhood from humanity;
his priesthood from Melchizedek,
his royalty from David's tree:
praised be his Oneness.

He joined with guests at wedding feast,
Yet in the wilderness did fast;
he taught within the temple's gates;
his people saw him die at last:
praised be his teaching.
 
The dissolute he did not scorn,
Nor turn from those who were in sin;
he for the righteous did rejoice
but bade the fallen to come in:
praised be his mercy.
 
He did not disregard the sick;
To simple ones his word was given;
and he descended to the earth
and, his work done, went up to heaven:
praised be his coming.
 
Who then, my Lord, compares to you?
The Watcher slept, the Great was small,
the Pure baptized, the Life who died,
the King abased to honor all:
praised be your glory.
...By Ephrem of Edessa image