Monday, March 20, 2017

Christ in the Desert















Painting of Jesus in the desert, Luke 4:3-13; Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:13
by J.D. Flynn
3/17/17

On Saturday, I watched good friends carry a miniature white casket up the aisle of our parish church, to be laid before the altar for a funeral Mass. Their son was stillborn last week. Our parish had come to the church to pray for them as they laid their son’s body to rest.

My friends have entered the season of Lent in a profound way.

During Lent, we remember Jesus, fasting and praying in the Judean desert. We remember that Jesus was weak, and tired, and alone, and that, relying on the word of God, he overcame the empty promises of Satan.

Like Christ, my friends will likely feel weak, tired, and alone this Lent. C. S. Lewis said that grief feels much like fear, and I suspect they’ll sometimes feel afraid. He also said that grief is an amputation, and I suspect they’ll sometimes feel crippled.

And like Christ, my friends will face temptations. They may be tempted to turn on each other. They may be tempted to turn from God. They may be tempted to pretend they don’t need help—human or divine—when, in fact, they surely do. I suspect my friends will overcome those temptations, by grace. But if they don’t, I know they’ll seek God’s mercy, and I know he’ll give it freely.

During Lent, most of us offer up small sacrifices—pittances, really—to spend more time in prayer. We limit our comforts, just a little. We give alms, usually from our excess, and rarely from our need. And somehow God, in his mercy on us—his pity for our pitiful sacrifices—gives these tiny sacrifices meaning, and uses them to draw us closer to him... image

The rest at First Things

Friday, March 3, 2017

Shine On Us


Philips, Craig and Dean

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Thou Lamb of Calvary...

My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine!
Now hear me while I pray, take all my guilt away,
O let me from this day be wholly Thine!
 
May Thy rich grace impart
Strength to my fainting heart, my zeal inspire!
As Thou hast died for me, O may my love to Thee,
Pure warm, and changeless be, a living fire!
 
While life’s dark maze I tread,
And griefs around me spread, be Thou my Guide;
Bid darkness turn to day, wipe sorrow’s tears away,
Nor let me ever stray from Thee aside.

When ends life’s transient dream,
When death’s cold sullen stream over me roll;
Blest Savior, then in love, fear and distrust remove;
O bear me safe above, a ransomed soul!
-Ray Palmer image

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Stand still, and see!

adventure, brak, mountains
In every life
There's a pause that is better than onward rush,
Better than hewing or mightiest doing;
'Tis the standing still at Sovereign will.
There's a hush that is better than ardent speech,
Better than sighing or wilderness crying;
'Tis the being still at Sovereign will.
The pause and the hush sing a double song
In unison low and for all time long.
O human soul, God's working plan
Goes on, nor needs the aid of man!
Stand still, and see!
Be still, and know!
-V. Raymond Edman

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

10 Things You Should Know about Revival

Fiery sunset
January 9, 2017
by Sam Storms

Excerpt:
(1) Revival cannot be scheduled. Revival cannot be predicted, but neither can it be precluded. There simply are no natural laws that guarantee revival. True revival is a sovereign work of God (Zech. 4:6). In other words, revival is always a miracle. Revival is not "in our pocket." Once we fall into the trap of thinking that revival is at our beck-and-call, we will begin to develop earthly strategies that we are convinced will produce the desired end. We will become sinfully pragmatic in the business of religion, as we justify virtually any tactic or method just so long as it gets "results". But this is precisely what we must avoid at all costs.

(2) Someone has defined revival as "a copious effusion of the influence of divine grace," i.e., a bountiful outpouring of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. J. I. Packer defines revival as "a work of God by his Spirit through his word bringing the spiritually dead to living faith in Christ and renewing the inner life of Christians who have grown slack and sleepy" (Revival, 36). Or again, "Revival is God stirring the hearts of his people, visiting them . . . coming to dwell with them . . . returning to them . . . pouring out his Spirit on them . . . to quicken their consciences, show them their sins, and exalt his mercy . . . before their eyes" (Keep in Step with the Spirit, 256).

(3) True revival is a surprising work of God. This is because revival is a gracious work of God. No one deserves revival. One may never expect what one does not deserve. If God were not to send revival, no one could protest that an injustice had been done. That is why we must never demand revival, as if God were in our debt. God is not obligated to visit us with the refreshing waters of his presence. That he occasionally does is an expression of mercy. It is the compassion and loving kindness of God that accounts for revival. image

Full article here

More Observations on the Nature of True Revival

Added 1/12/17: A Dozen Additional Thoughts on the Nature of Revival and How People Respond to It

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Rejoice; for, to us is born a King...

gold, golden, sun, advent, christmas, star
Rejoice; for, this day is born for us a Mediator, that man may be reconciled with God, and that this peace may be spread over the earth.

Rejoice; for, to us is born a Physician, to make sinners pure from sin, to deliver them from the power of Satan, to redeem them from eternal damnation, to impart to all a heavenly joy, that glory may be to God on high, and on earth peace, good-will toward men.

Rejoice; for, to us is born a King, to fill us with joy; a High Priest, to pour on believers the Divine blessing; a Father, to adopt us as his children for all eternity. To us is born a well-beloved Brother, a Master in every kind of knowledge, a veritable Chief, a Judge of most perfect equity, that glory may be to God on high, and on earth peace, good-will toward men.

Rejoice, sinners, for He who is born is the Son of God, the High Priest who absolves all that repent, in order that glory may be to God on high, and on earth peace, good-will toward men. ...John Huss image

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Lo, God, our God has come!

STEMLER_01
Lo, God, our God has come!
To us a Child is born,
To us a Son is given;
Bless, bless the blessed morn!
O happy, lowly lofty birth,
Now God, our God, has come to earth!
 
Rejoice, our God has come!
In love and lowliness;
The Son of God has come
The sons of men to bless.
God with us now descend to dwell,
God in our flesh, Immanuel.
 
Praise ye the word made flesh!
True God, true man is He.
Praise ye the Christ of God!
To Him all glory be.
Praise ye the Lamb that once was slain,
Praise ye the king that comes to reign.
        ...Horatius Bonar image