Monday, December 27, 2010

Broken cisterns

"But the most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or anything —strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise... The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game...
My whole, more general difficulty, about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can't help doing, about everything else we value.
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are, the delight is incomplete till it is expressed." - C. S. Lewis (Reflections on the Psalms, pp. 93-95)

As Lewis observed, it does not seem strange for us to admire talent, beauty, or to cheer for our favorite sports team. In fact, we do these things spontaneously with hardly a thought. We have a great capacity to praise and admire things we deem worthy. We employ art, song and dance to honor things we rejoice in, and will expend ourselves with great effort to do so.

However, to many, it does indeed seem strange to see someone offer praise to God - the same God who gives us life and sustains it to this very hour. Our culture is embarrassed for anyone who is passionate about Christ. Yet, every other passion, no matter how trivial, is deemed perfectly acceptable. What we desire to praise and admire, what causes us to rejoice, reveals the condition of our heart.

In Heaven God is worshiped because the holy creatures around His throne cannot contain themselves. They see the very face of God and they are filled with awe and joy. If we were not so spiritually dull, if our affections were not so often misplaced, we would joyfully praise God as well.

Something or someone must be preeminent in our heart; if not God, then who or what else? When we refuse to glorify God as God, to recognize Him as preeminent, we will, by default, recognize something or someone else as preeminent.
“for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”   - Jeremiah 2:13

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Luther's Prescription for Despondency - Desiring God

Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustinian MonkImage via Wikipedia

 by: Michael Johnson

Luther once said, “I have my worst temptations when I am by myself.”
Roland Bainton comments in Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, 285 (paragraphing mine):

"Seek out some Christian brother, some wise counselor. Undergird yourself with the fellowship of the church. Then, too, seek convivial company, feminine company, dine, dance, joke, and sing. Make yourself eat and drink even though food may be very distasteful. Fasting is the very worst expedient.

Once Luther gave three rules for dispelling despondency: the first is faith in Christ; the second is to get downright angry; the third is the love of a woman.

Music was especially commended. The Devil hates it because he cannot endure gaiety. Luther’s physician relates that on one occasion he came with some friends for a musical soiree only to find Luther in a swoon; but when the others struck up the song, he was soon one of the party. Home life was a comfort and a diversion. So also was the presence of his wife when the Devil assaulted him in the night watches . . . Manual labor was a relief. A good way, counseled Luther, to exorcise the Devil is to harness the horse and spread manure on the fields.

In all this advice to flee the fray Luther was in a way prescribing faith as a cure for the lack of faith."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A wonderful trend

The first Hallelujah flash mob was recorded on October 30th, then came another one on November 13th.

Now we have at least two more to report from December 18th:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jerry Bridges’s Trusting God Even When Life Hurts: Free on Kindle – Justin Taylor

Jerry Bridges’s book Trusting God Even When Life Hurts is a free eBook from Kindle. I’m not sure how long this will last—Tim Challies says “a few days.” But if you want it, don’t delay.

Desiring God recently asked Bridges, “If you could leave behind only one of the books you’ve written, which would it be?” His answer was Trusting God Even When Life Hurts.

Forgiven Souls Are Humble « J.C. Ryle Quotes

Forgiven souls are HUMBLE. They cannot forget that they owe all they have and hope for to free grace, and this keeps them lowly. They are brands plucked from the fire—debtors who could not pay for themselves—captives who must have remained in prison forever—but for undeserved mercy—wandering sheep who were ready to perish when the Shepherd found them! What right then have they to be proud? I do not deny that there are proud saints. But this I do say—they are of all God’s creatures the most inconsistent, and of all God’s children the most likely to stumble and pierce themselves with many sorrows. We have nothing we can call our own–but sin and weakness. Surely there is no garment that befits us so well, as humility.

~ J.C. Ryle