Friday, October 31, 2008

Another story from Australia

What follows is an example of what can happen when socialism is combined with pragmatism and human value is measured by cost accounting:

By the people, for the people…

(In which I remind and encourage myself and my loved ones to take this business seriously. And after which I'm convicted for having not yet read my own voter information guide.)

Who governs this country? Who serves this country? You do. I do. We actively govern and serve one another every time we vote. God has given each of us this small unit of authority, this small act of service. He will hold us accountable for how we use it. When we do not vote, we fail to govern; we fail to serve. We neglect our God-given responsibility to govern and to serve. When we vote, but do it carelessly, we’ve carried out our God-given responsibility recklessly. Like any task God gives us to do, we should do it carefully and conscientiously, as worship - for the sake of His glory.

As a Christian, I am a part of the body of Christ here on this earth. I am called to represent Him and His values here on earth. While my citizenship is in heaven, I am not there yet. I’ve been left here and given responsibilities here. As a member of a democratic nation, when I am presented with an issue on which to vote, I must make my decision using God’s standards, as set forth in Holy Scripture, to the best of my ability. If I am asked to legitimize (or legalize) anything God clearly forbids in Scripture, it is at the very least irresponsible for me, with the bit of authority God has given me, to agree to legitimize that thing. I am as responsible before God for my vote, as the President or any judge in this nation is for any decision he or she makes. I will answer to God for my vote. So I need to take this business seriously.

I’ve read some articles lately which seemed to imply it would be better to vote in ways that would ensure religious persecution, reasoning that persecution would then bring about growth in the church. Well, persecution often does, in fact, serve to weed out some false professors of faith as well as serve as a testimony to the world. However, when I look at Scripture, and even church history, I don’t see persecution regarded as something to be sought after, as a means of growing the church, rather, it is something to be expected and accepted, something that naturally follows a growing and thriving body of believers who preach and live the gospel, and desire quiet and peaceable lives . Peace and sound leadership are represented as good things, things to be prayed for and sought after.

Under the totalitarian rule of a Caesar, Paul had these words to say to Timothy: "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1Tim.2:1-4) Clearly Paul saw it as a worthy goal, for the sake of the gospel even, for us believers to lead a quiet and peaceable life. We do not, thanks be to God, live under a Caesar. We are governors in our nation. Our authority may be small, but it is real. We must use it, to the best of our abilities, to do what is right in the sight of God. Peter says, "Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in you hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused. Those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong." 1 Peter 3: 13-17. If we are to suffer persecution, let it come from standing up for what is right in the sight of God, like the apostles, like the prophets of old, like the martyrs through the centuries.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Life

Really I need to be going to bed early tonight. I've got some reading to catch up on, and Paul's cold is catching up with me. My prayer was answered, however. I got through my week's jobs before it caught me. So I'm sucking on Cold-Eaze, hoping to minimize it.

And finally, the real reason for my post: life. Here's a link to a brief (15 minute or so) speech delivered in Australia by abortion survivor Gianna Jesson. I challenge everyone who reads this to take a few minutes to watch. Actually I'm begging everyone to watch.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Two Reformation Day Links.

First of all, I would be remiss if I did not provide the link to Paul's Reformation Sunday message.

Secondly, my friend Nahomi just posted her own excellent article. She does a great job of drawing connections to our times.

Same subject matter, yet two very fresh treatments. I never tire of learning about the Protestant Reformation. I have a secret dream of teaching a church history series some day. (Well, I guess it's not a secret any more.)

"Then I saw thrones,...

...and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life again, and reigned with Christ a thousand years." Rev. 20: 4

"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." Mark 8: 34b-35

May God grant those of us who name the name of Christ the grace not only to live, but to die in a manner that so glorifies Him.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Here's my laundry list of a Monday

Our church had its first annual Reformation Sunday yesterday. It was really quite wonderful. Paul gave a lecture on Martin Luther and his part in the Protestant Reformation. Then Pastor Pat gave his sermon on Justification by Faith Alone. After that we had a lovely pot-luck for which many of the ladies had been busy preparing for a couple of days. Andi (Pat's wife) did a great job making everything look pretty on a shoestring budget. We all ate like kings. In the evening we congregated again, at Pat & Andi's and had more pot-luck and listened to Pat's message, "5 Reasons Why I'm Reformed" , in which he listed 10 reasons to be reformed.

It was a great day, except for Paul. The minute he sat down after delivering his lesson he got the flu. Well, we thought it was a cold, but in less than 24 hours it's gone to his chest and he's got a high fever. He went to work today, which probably didn't help matters, but I think he'll be calling in sick tomorrow.

I had the day off today and spent it trying to get my act together. I changed my sheets, did 7 loads of laundry (and even put it all away!),cleaned the cat boxes, cleaned my kitchen (except for the floors), spent a couple of hours prepping and painting more kitchen cabinets, re-priced some books, put a bunch of obscure books on-line (the kind I usually set aside to deal with "later" because they're complicated), did the Monday banking, returned books to the library, went to the post office, went to my mom's, and at dinner-time made fetuccine Alfredo for Paul and Gina. Oh, here's a picture of Gina and Tony on Reformation Sunday:



I'd like to have a month of days like today. I think that's what it would take to get my house put together - that and a couple more bookshelves. Instead, I think it's going to be a few more weeks to finish the kitchen, and another couple of years for the rest of the house, should the Lord will and I live that long. I'm starting to get excited about the kitchen. The section of cabinets I started today is the last set, and it's the set nearest the stove & refrigerator, so I notice it more. Once these are done, the rest is cake, and now I'm much more confident that the finished product is going to look wonderful. I'm finally able to picture it in my mind.

Okay, I'm certain that was more than anyone wanted to know about my day, but that was it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Okay one more link

The Wall Street Journal is now stating what married folk have known for quite a while - "a happy wife makes for a happy life". Go ahead - take a peek - come on. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122359379658821047.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Expelled

Thanks to Staci for the reminder that Ben Stein's movie Expelled is out on DVD, and also for this link - http://www.benstein.com/121805xmas.html to an essay of his which I thoroughly enjoyed. It's just so rare, and so refreshing to hear anyone with any measure of fame be so clear-headed.

Paul & I made a point of going to see it in the theater. We loved it. We laughed. We cried. Did I mention it's a documentary? It was worth the price of admission just to see the computer animation of the interior workings of a cell - breathtaking and awe-inspiring.

Okay, 'nuf sed. Back to responsiblities.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I've got a lot to accomplish in the next couple of days, so I thought I'd try and fit in all the blogging I've been wanting to do tonight. Mostly I've been wanting to put up some pictures. Paul's been running about merrily with the camera, ever since his dad gave him a giant box of batteries. I've never been one to take a lot of pictures (having never gotten past the old days when photography was expensive every step of the way). I must say, however, that I'm really beginning to enjoy it.













Here's our little house. If we walk 15 minutes in the right direction, we end up at the pool at One-Mile.

Here's the man that's always making me smile.


























Here's upper Bidwell Park. Clearly at different times of year, Spring and Summer.












Above, left is Bidwell Presbyterian Church. It's beautiful. It's the church Annie Bidwell attended, and still has a big portrait of her in the foyer. (At least they did before the renovation. I can't imagine anyone would dare remove it.) To the right is the new City Plaza, which recently replaced the old City Plaza, which, like the King James Version of the Bible, will always have those who vow never to accept any replacement. I love the new City Plaza.
Here's a crawdad. Paul and I had no idea such a thing lived around here, but we caught this picture with our own camera. It's a big as a man's hand.


















The roots on the left, are from the tree on the right. I kept thinking of that Scripture, "Like a tree planted by streams of water..."
"Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper." Psalm 1: 1-3

For those of us who work,

and we all do (whether or not we collect a paycheck) this is a great, clear-headed, practical article on "vocation", from a Christian perspective.

http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001877.cfm

(Gina, you may find this helpful, so don't skip past it.)

Religious Affections, the Eleventh Sign

(In our reading group over at www.challies.com we are nearing the end of Jonathan Edwards’ work Religious Affections. This past week we read through the Eleventh Sign. Below are some excerpts along with a few of my thoughts.)

This week’s reading was brief and rather straightforward. Like the previous chapters it was challenging. It was also quite comforting, because it spoke so clearly to that odd tension/hunger that is part and parcel of the Christian life.

“Another great and very distinguishing difference between gracious affections and others is, that gracious affections, the higher they are raised, the more is a spiritual appetite and longing of soul after spiritual attainments, increased. On the contrary, false affections rest satisfied in themselves.

“The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love him, and the more uneasy is he at his want of love to him; the more he hates sin, the more he desires to hate it, and laments that he has so much remaining love to it; the more he mourns for sin, the more he longs to mourn for sin; the more his heart is broke, the more he desires it should be broke; the more he thirsts and longs after God and holiness, the more he longs to long, and breathe out his very soul in longings after God: the kindling and raising of gracious affections is like kindling a flame; the higher it is raised, the more ardent it is; and the more it burns, the more vehemently does it tend and seek to burn.”

“Spiritual good is of a satisfying nature; and for that very reason, the soul that tastes, and knows its nature, will thirst after it, and a fullness of it, that it may be satisfied. And the more he experiences, and the more he knows this excellent, unparalleled, exquisite, and satisfying sweetness, the more earnestly will he hunger and thirst for more, till he comes to perfection.”

I’ve found this to be the exact opposite of worldly satisfactions. I recall from the years before my conversion the many pleasures I sought satisfaction in. They were various, but all had this in common: they became increasingly less satisfying over time. I would chase harder and harder, consume more and more, seeking, yet never quite achieving, the original level of excitement.

Since coming to Christ, I know I can only find satisfaction in Him and that the more I seek it in Him the more I will find. He is an endless source of life and ever deepening satisfaction. As I write these words, I feel this day’s dryness. I’m keenly aware of the dullness of my affections at the moment. Yet I know, there is nowhere else to go, or nothing else in life that can satisfy me but Him. I’ve tasted of the fountain of living water. There is no longer any other cistern from which I want to draw. And I pray for a deeper, and stronger thirst to keep me drinking the water of life.

In a footnote, by way of contrast, Edwards quotes Shepard’s rather startling word regarding hypocrites:

“It is an argument of want of grace, when a man saith to himself, as the glutton said to his soul, take thy rest, for thou hast goods laid up for many years. So thou hast repentance, and grace, and peace enough for many years: and hence the soul takes its rest, grows sluggish and negligent. Oh, if you die in this case, this night thy soul shall be taken away to hell.”

Hypocrites rest on their laurels. Once again I’m reminded of the exhortation from the writer of Hebrews: “Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end, while it is said, ‘Today, when you hear his voice do not harden you hearts as in the rebellion.’” (Heb. 3: 12-15)

For the true Christian, “There is an inward burning desire that a saint has after holiness, as natural to the new creature, as vital heat is to the body. There is a holy breathing and panting after the Spirit of God, to increase holiness, as natural to a holy nature, as breathing is to a living body. And holiness or sanctification is more directly the object of it, than any manifestation of God’s love and favor. This is the meat and drink that is the object of the spiritual appetite; ‘My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work’ (John 4:34)….But neither a longing after great discoveries, or after great tastes of the love of God, nor longing to be in heaven, nor longing to die, are in any measure so distinguishing marks of true saints, as longing after a more holy heart, and living a more holy life.”

Next week we begin the 12th, and final, sign of true religious affections.

(All emphasis mine.)

I snagged another poem from Paul

This one made me happy. Maybe it will make you smile inside as well.

The Orange
by Wendy Cope

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all my jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I've seen the future...

It's happening right now in Europe. If we don't fight to defend the sanctity of life, this is what we have to look forward to:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

All work and no play....

well, you know. I've been a very dull girl. Somehow I'm more behind in everything than usual, especially dust, laundry, and vacuuming. It must be the extra couple of hours a week I've put into painting in my kitchen. I've got the cabinets 2/3 finished. When those are done, it's on to the walls. Those should go faster because of rollers and a husband who claims not to mind painting walls. That will be put to the test shortly. And the holidays are on the way. I should probably try to pick up the pace, which may mean less blogging.

Schubert's annoying qualities are beginning to outweigh his cute factor - which was minimal to begin with. So I've decided to begin training him. I've discovered he's dramatically smarter than he looks. I knew he could "sit", but I found out, by accident, that he also knows the command "lay down", (but doesn't really like to do it) and thought, that's it, you're not getting away with the stupid routine any longer. So, in one day he's almost cured of jumping up on legs, and is much calmer on laps. I just keep saying "no" whenever he exhibits an unacceptable behavior and directing him to the appropriate behavior. He's a surprisingly quick study. The only thing I've not figured out yet is how to keep him from eating cat poop out of the litter box. See, I can't ever catch him in the act. He just shows up, entirely unashamed, with kitty litter stuck to his nose, and horrible breath. His potty habits are getting better, though. He only poo's in the house now if I leave him alone for more than 4 or 5 hours, which seems to occur about once a week. That's great improvement in my book, and if he doesn't get any better than that I can live with it.

Oh, another pet story. Mao, the cat that painted the house black, was our very shyest, most sensitive kitty. Once a day he would approach me with a plaintive "meow", wanting me to pet him for just a moment, then that was it. He had a special place in my heart because he was so emotionally delicate. Then the unthinkable happened. He was covered in black high-gloss latex paint and I had to hold him for a very long time, by his neck, as he clawed and fought, under a stream of water in the bathtub to get all the paint off before it dried. It broke my heart to treat him that way, but it had to be done. I thought that was the end of the tiny little bit of his trust I'd spent over a year earning. What ended up happening is that he is a changed kitty. He's come out of his shell. Several times a day he begs me with meows to pet him, and wants me to pet him for a long time. He even lets Paul pet him now. I can't make any sense of the change in him. It's heartbreaking and precious that he would trust me more after such an ordeal. I'd never have dreamed it.

Tomorrow is my hardest job of all. I only do it every month or more, and it's a doozy every time. I intend to listen to John Piper's John Owen biography, and a lengthy series on the book of Hebrews to keep my heart encouraged, and my mind in a good place while I work. Paul has to be to work at 3 AM. He's my hero.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Out of the blue, Elihu

Ever wonder what to make of Job's fourth friend - the one who spoke up last. Ever notice he was not rebuked along with the rest, either by Job, or by God? Well, John Piper has begun a series on the book of Job, and as usual manages to ask and answer one of those nagging little questions - "what do we do with Elihu?".

http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1455_5_Reasons_to_Accept_Elihus_Speech/

Friday, October 17, 2008

Is a single issue worth it?

"What a man thinks about the most vulnerable among us says everything about him. It will determine all of his other decisions. It’s cowardice on the part of Christians to run away from this because they want to be seen more relevant or less threatening, or whatever the motives may be." - Gianna Jessen, abortion survivor

Read more of her thoughts here:
http://www.citizenlink.org/content/A000008470.cfm

Religious Affections - the Ninth & Tenth Signs

(In our reading group over at www.challies.com we are nearing the end of Jonathan Edwards’ work Religious Affections. This past week we read through the Ninth and Tenth Signs. Below are some excerpts along with a few of my thoughts.)

As we near the end of this reading, and the two months or so of reflection and prayer it has provoked, I feel ready to say with some certainty that I will never be quite the same. I certainly hope I never am. Few books have had the profound effect on my heart as this one has. You see, this book is useful not merely for evaluating whether or not you are, or any one else is, among those who are being saved – though it provides assistance in that regard, as well as great assistance in understanding the phenomena of hypocrisy and apostasy. Even more valuably, it gives tools for evaluating ongoing, day-to-day, religious affections. Even solid Christians experience ungodly affections, or just plain natural affections, which they may confuse with the workings of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It is by this very means which the evil one often deceives us. Edwards gives us tools for sober self-assessment, for discernment. One of the things that has astonished me as I’ve struggled through these "signs" has been the mixture of true and false affections harbored in my soul. I’ve thought, "Oh, no, that wasn’t love for God at all! It was a false affection. Lord help me." Thankfully, and comfortingly, I’ve also been able to discern some true spiritual affections along the way.

I’ve recently begun listening to a series of teachings through the book of Hebrews. I’m so glad to have Edwards’ counsel in my heart alongside that study. He has greatly enriched my understanding, as Hebrews has heavily underscored the importance of Edward’s message.
Edwards has helped flesh out the exhortation of the writer of Hebrews:

"Therefore we must pay the closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the message declared by angels was valid and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? (Heb. 2: 1-3)

And again:

"Take care brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today", that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end, while it is said, ‘Today, when you hear his voice do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion’…" Heb. 3: 12-15

And on and on goes the writer of the Hebrews, in essence telling the elect of God to strive to make their calling and election sure. What an odd paradox striving is to election, yet both things are so: we cannot fall away if we are His, and if we are His we must strive to the end.

With that in mind, I took to The Ninth Sign:

"Gracious affections soften the heart, and are attended and followed with a Christian tenderness of spirit."

This tenderness he refers to is not what I expected. I was thinking along the lines of warm-hearted feelings, like the kind you have toward puppies, kittens, and newborn infants. Edwards, rather, is referring to the attitude of our heart toward the things of God – His Word, the working of His Spirit of conviction upon us, etc.

"But false affections, with the delusion that attends them, finally tend to stupefy the mind, and shut it up against those affections wherein tenderness of heart consists; and the effect of ‘em at last is, that persons in the settled frame of their minds, become less affected with their present and past sins, and less conscientious with respect to future sins, less moved with the warnings and cautions of God’s Word, or God’s chastisements in his providence, more careless of the frame of their hearts, and the manner and tendency of their behavior, less quick-sighted to discern what is sinful, less afraid of the appearance of evil, than they were while they were under legal awakenings and fears of hell."

And further, those under the influence of false affections…

"are in no measure so alarmed at the appearance of their own defects and transgressions…"

and:

"…now they think themselves out of danger of hell, they very much put off the burden of the cross, and save themselves the trouble of difficult duties, and allow themselves more of the comfort of the enjoyment of their ease and their lusts."

"…instead of embracing Christ as their Saviour from sin, they trust in him as the Saviour of their sins….They trust in Christ to preserve to ‘em the quiet enjoyment of their sins, and to be their shield to defend ‘em from God’s displeasure; while they come close to him, even to his bosom, the place of his children, to fight against him, with their mortal weapons, hid under their skirts.

"However some of these, at the same time, make a great profession of love to God, and assurance of his favor, and great joy in tasting the sweetness of his love."

And from one of the extensive footnotes (the footnotes in this book are fantastic):

"Again, Mr. Shepard speaks of such hypocrites as those ‘who like strange eggs, being put into the same nest, where honest men have lived, they have been hatched up; and when they are young, keep their nest, and live by crying and opening their mouths wide after the Lord and the food of his Word; but when their wings are grown, and they have got some affections, some knowledge, some hope of mercy, are hardened thereby to fly from God.’ And adds, ‘Can that man be good, whom God’s grace makes worse?"

Rather…

"Gracious affections are of a quite contrary tendency; they turn a heart of stone more and more into a heart of flesh…to make it tender, and to fill it with a dread of sin, or whatever might displease and offend God, and to engage it to watchfulness and care and strictness, than a slavish fear of hell."

"…gracious affections don’t tend to make men bold, forward, noisy and boisterous; but rather to speak trembling….There is in some persons, a most unsuitable and unsufferable boldness, in their addresses to the great Jehovah, in an affectation of an holy boldness, and ostentation of eminent nearness and familiarity; the very thoughts of which would make ‘em shrink into nothing, with horror and confusion, if they saw the distance that is between God and them…if they saw their vileness, they would be more like the publican, that stood afar off, and durst not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven…"


The Tenth Sign took a bit of explaining at first (I’d read Tim’s comments before began this section, which helped me get the point faster than I might have on my own), but then the meaning became very clear. It’s a funny thing how Edwards has become characterized in the minds of many people, because of a single sermon, as a dark, stern, fire and brimstone preacher. Really his work is more characterized by a strong vision of the greatness, and beauty of God and the loveliness of the Christian life.

"Another thing wherein those affections that are truly gracious and holy, differ from those that are false, is beautiful symmetry and proportion….which is the natural consequence of the universality of their sanctification….there is every grace in them, which is in Christ."

Well, this sounds lovely, but what does he mean? He begins his explanation by contrast:
"It is with hypocrites…there is commonly no manner of uniformity in their affections.
There is in many of them a great partiality, with regard to the several kinds of religious affections: great affections in some things, and no manner of proportion in others. An holy hope and holy fear go together in the saints….But many of these [hypocrites] rejoice without trembling: their joy is of that sort, that is truly opposite to godly fear."

"But particularly, one great difference between saints and hypocrites is this, that the joy and comfort of the former is attended with godly sorrow and mourning for sin."

I really liked this illustration:

"A true saint is like a little child in this respect; he never had any godly sorrow before he was born again; but since has it often in exercise: as a little child, before it is born, and while it remains in darkness, never cries; but as soon as ever it sees the light, it begins to cry; and thenceforward is often crying."

"Not only is there often in hypocrites, an essential deficiency, as to the various kinds of religious affections; but also a strange partiality and disproportion in the same affections, with regard to different objects."

" Thus as to the affection of love some make high pretenses, and a great shew of love to God and Christ, and it may be have been greatly affected with what they have heard or thought concerning them: but they have not a spirit of love and benevolence towards men, but are disposed to contention, envy, revenge, and evil-speaking; and will, it may be suffer an old grudge to rest in their bosoms towards a neighbor….And on the other hand, there are others, that appear as if they had a great deal of benevolence to men, are very good-natured and generous in their way; but have no love to God."

Or…

"They are full of dear affections to some, and full of bitterness towards others. They are knit to their own party, them that approve of ‘em, love ‘em and admire ‘em; but are fierce against those that oppose and dislike ‘em….Some shew a great affection to their neighbors, and pretend to be ravished with the company of the children of God abroad; and at the same time are uncomfortable and churlish towards their wives and other near relations at home, and are very negligent of relative duties."

And further:

" ‘tis a sign that affections are not of the right sort, if persons seem to be much affected with the bad qualities of their fellow Christians, as the coldness and lifelessness of other saints, but are in no proportion affected with their own defects and corruptions. A true Christian may be affected with the coldness and unsavoriness of other saints, and may mourn much over it. But at the same time he is not so apt to be affected with the badness of anybody’s heart, as his own. This is most in his view; this he is most quick-sighted to discern; this he sees most of the aggravations of, and is most ready to cry out of."

There were several further examples of disproportion given, such as love for the brethren which extends to their souls, but not their practical needs, or visa versa, meeting practical needs with no concern for the soul. Or the example of one so "spiritual" as to claim even to be willing to be damned were it to the glory of God, yet who cannot tolerate the smallest of difficulties their financial or other daily matters. Or the example of people who major on the minors, while the majors run about unchecked. Or the example of those with "false zeal": "False zeal is against the sins of others, while men have no zeal against their own sins. But he that has true zeal exercises it chiefly against his own sins: though he shews also a proper zeal against prevailing and dangerous iniquity in others."

Certainly there’s at least a touch of these "imbalances" in each of us. Edwards was keenly aware of that, and thankfully began this section with the following proviso:

"Not that the symmetry of the virtues, and gracious affections of the saints, in this life, is perfect: it oftentimes, is in many things defective, through the imperfection of grace, for want of proper instructions, through errors in judgment, or some particular unhappiness of natural temper, or defects in education, and many other disadvantages that might be mentioned. But yet there is, in no wise, that monstrous disproportion in gracious affections, and the various parts of true religion in the saints, that is very commonly to be observed, in the false religion, and counterfeit graces of hypocrites."
Some comfort there.

How Ironic

Ever since becoming a Christian I've developed a love for irony, a fascination of sorts. At the risk of sounding ridiculously philosophical, whenever I see irony it's like I've seen the fingerprint of God. This is especially true with poetic justice, but even the simplest ironies speak to me of the involvement of the Almighty in even what seems like the minutiae of life.

Here's an example: http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/10/16/disco.song.health.ap/index.html

(Yes, I know, nothing but links all week long. I'm lacking imagination and originality, okay.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A poem

Yes, you're at the right blog. It's really me. You may or may not have noticed the (very un-feminine) lack of poetry on my site. That's because my husband got that feminine trait in exchange for the (very masculine) fix-it-now trait, which I got. That said, here's a poem I snagged from my dear husband's site

- because it's beautiful in a dozen ways.

Holy Sonnets:
(I am a little world made cunningly, by John Donne)

I am a little world made cunningly
Of elements and an angelic sprite,
But black sin hath betray'd to endless night
My world's both parts, and oh both parts must die.
You which beyond that heaven which was most high
Have found new spheres, and of new lands can write,
Pour new seas in mine eyes, that so I might
Drown my world with my weeping earnestly,
Or wash it, if it must be drown'd no more.
But oh it must be burnt; alas the fire
Of lust and envy have burnt it heretofore,
And made it fouler; let their flames retire,
And burn me O Lord, with a fiery zeal
Of thee and thy house, which doth in eating heal.

Feel the need for tears of joy?

Read this: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/101208dnmetqueen.39be68a.html

Then try to imagine how different her graduating class would be if she had been murdered in the womb, like the 90% or so of people with her genetic anomaly are.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

At the risk of wearying you, I ask you to, please...

give Al Mohler a listen. Don't count the sanctity of life issue as already dead. It is not:

http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=2630

more election time info...

For my friends for whom sanctity of life is still a key issue at election time, I would like to provide this link regarding Obama's stance on these issues:

http://thepublicdiscourse.com/viewarticle.php?selectedarticle=2008.10.14_George_Robert_Obama%27s%20Abortion%20Extremism_.xml

If I happen across something similar for the other candidate, I'll post that as well. Though it's clear where his running-mate stands, there seems to be less clarity where he's concerned.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thinking about not voting this year?

Please read this thoughtful little non-partisan (at least not-very partisan) article before you make up your mind: http://www.semicolonblog.com/?p=2691

And remember what you learned in school: our government is run "by the people for the people". We are the government, like it or not. Let's not be derilict in our duty.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Night Catch-up

I think it's been since the cat painted the house black that I last posted any bits about life around here. Honestly, there's nothing that interesting to tell. My husband continues to be the kindest, most wonderful man I've ever known - and very patient with me. I've had a nice catching up lunch with Denise (last Friday), complete with promises to attempt to repeat such a thing monthly. I've had my usual cleaning jobs, plus extra time invested in purchasing books, pricing them, putting them online for sale, and shelving them. My dream of doing that exclusively and giving up my day job looks to be at least months away, or may never happen; God knows. I've got one last meeting with the MediCal people to finalize Tony's health coverage. That's been a story in itself, but again, not an interesting one, just the stress from dealing with government agencies. Besides a slight dietary adjustment to reduce her potassium levels, my mom's health, and even her mood, is remaining quite stable. We're praying about bringing her here to live with us in a year or so. She's not going to be able to be alone much longer than that.

I'm about 1/3rd of the way finished painting my kitchen cabinets. (They look beautiful so far.) Then comes the walls. Then the floor in the spare bedroom, then the middle room - and all this if the Lord wills and I live long enough to see it through, and live here long enough to see it through. My goal is to have the interior painted and the carpets removed and floors resurfaced in a year, though even that may not be enough time.

The new dog, Schubert, is adapting to life here. The other pets are used to him now. The cats have ceased stalking and ambushing him. He and Ginger haven't had a fight in a couple of weeks. It's been almost two days since he's pooed in the house. I've got to say, he's an annoying little brute. He's very needy, very demanding, questionably housebroken, and also very sweet. He came to just the right place, here to the Island of Misfit Toys. Everyone in our immediate family has a special heart-place for misfits and outcasts. Every pet in our house came here second-hand, rescued from abandonment. Every person, too.

I found out this morning that our ladies' Bible study in Titus will be wrapping up next week. That means the ball's heading into my court again. But, it's looking like, as a result of upcoming weddings, childbirths, and holidays, we'll be on hiatus through the New Year and possibly until February. That gives me plenty of time to prepare for the next class. (I was really hoping to get through Religious Affections before the next study, and it looks like I'll be getting my wish.)

Until then, by the grace of God, and by the power of the Spirit, I'll be battling some areas of sin in my heart that this study through Religious Affections has exposed to me. I can't move forward without some corrections in my attitudes. I'll probably share more about this in time, though once again, it probably won't prove very interesting to anyone but me. Hopefully, however, I'll reflect Christ more clearly as a result.

Tomorrow I hope to make quite a bit more progress on my cabinets.

Ever dream of moving to Switzerland?

"...anglers must learn to catch fish humanely. Fish can't be kept in aquariums that are transparent on all sides. The fish need some shelter. Nor can goldfish be flushed down a toilet to an inglorious end; they must first be anesthetized with special chemicals, and then killed."

Curious? Read the context here: http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=2619

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Speaking of athiests...

Because I've got athiests on the brain today, and judging by another friend's blog today (http://couragetotremble.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/hawkings-hopelessness/#comments) I'm not alone, I thought I'd throw in a quick video link to apologist James White in which he recounts his experience with atheists over the last seven months: http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2862

Religious Affections - Signs Seven and Eight

(The following is the next installment in my ongoing participation in Reading the Classics Together at http://www.challies.com/ . We are currently reading Jonathan Edward's work Religious Affections.)

Truly, one of the clearest signs of conversion is "a new creature". Not to question the goodness and perfection of God in His providence, but if I'd encountered a single pastor, or lay-Christian, during the course of my 40 years of pre-Christian "life"who'd read this book, and read to me the words below (from the Seventh Sign), I may have been spared many years of hypocrisy:

"Another thing, wherein gracious affections are distinguished from others, is, that they are attended with a change of nature....'tis the power of a Creator only that can change the nature, or give a new nature....

"Therefore if there be no great and remarkable, abiding change in persons, that think they have experienced a work of conversion, vain are all their imaginations and pretenses, however they have been affected. Conversion (if we may give any credit to the Scripture) is a great and universal change of the man, turning him from sin to God. A man may be restrained from sin, before he is converted; but when he is converted, he is not only restrained from sin, his very heart and nature is turned from it, unto holiness: so that thenceforward he becomes a holy person, and an enemy to sin.

"If there be a very great alteration visible in a person for a while; if it ben't abiding, but he afterwards returns, in a stated manner to be much as he used to be; it appears to be no change of nature. For nature is an abiding thing. A swine that is of a filthy nature may be washed; but the swinish nature remains. And a dove that is of a cleanly nature may be defiled, but its cleanly nature remains."

And the work of sanctification continues on in the same manner as did the work of conversion:

"As it is with spiritual discoveries and affections given at first conversion, so it is in all illuminations and affections of that kind, that persons are the subjects of afterwards; they are all transforming. There is a like divine power and energy in them, as in the first discoveries: and they still reach the bottom of the heart, and the affect and alter the very nature of the soul, in proportion to the degree in which they are given. And a transformation of nature is continued and carried on by them, to the end of life; till it is brought to perfection in glory. Hence the progress of the work of grace in the hearts of the saints, is represented in Scripture, as a continued conversion and renovation of nature.
...gracious affections; they leave a sweet savor and relish of divine things on the heart, and a stronger bent of soul towards God and holiness."

Over the years I've heard professing Christians use the expression "life changing" over and over to describe any number of emotional "spiritual" experiences they'd had, from books they'd read, to retreats they'd attended. After a while, I began to be very skeptical of that phrase - cynical really. Why? Because I'd never witnessed any lasting change in anyone I'd heard say it. They were the same as ever, no kinder, no more patient, no more loving or joyful. But a true work of the Spirit brings forth lasting fruit of the Spirit. For the Scripture tells us, "...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..." (Gal. 5: 22-23a) and our Lord says, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father, in My name He may give you. These things I command you that you love one another" (John 15: 16-17).

Now, I found the Eighth Sign, a bit convicting, and very helpful, because it helps me to judge whether I'm being moved by the Spirit of God, or by deceptive pride. This very next quote was all it took to make my forthright, sometimes arrogant, self cringe a bit:

"Truly gracious affections differ from those affections that are false and delusive, in that they tend to, and are attended with the lamblike, dovelike spirit and temper of Jesus Christ; or in other words, they naturally beget and promote such a spirit of love, meekness, quietness, forgiveness and mercy, as appeared in Christ."

If I were asked to describe myself, I'm quite certain "lamblike" and "dovelike" are not the first words that would come to mind. That's not good. But, the cringing part of me is comforted somewhat, in that I am reading Marsden's biography, Jonathan Edwards, A Life, in tandem with this reading. It seems Edwards struggled for most of his life with some of the same character flaws (sins) that I'm dealing with. He did not see himself as perfectly lamblike and dovelike either. He grappled with pride in particular, irritability, and what he referred to as "evil-speaking", vowing at one point not even to listen when others speak sarcastically about someone. And this is the man who penned these words. Knowing that gives me courage.

He goes on to explain: "Christians are Christlike; none deserve the name of Christians that are not so, in their prevailing character. The new man is renewed after the image of him that creates him (Col. 3:10)...A Christian spirit is Christ's mark, that he sets upon the souls of his people; his seal in their foreheads, bearing his image and superscription....True Christians are as it were clothed with the meek, quiet, and loving temper of Christ; for a many as are in Christ, have put on Christ."

Penultimately, Edwards does not leave us with the idea we must not have boldness or fortitude, for these are indeed necessary to the Christian life. But he does not want us to use them as a cloak for un-Christlike behavior and so is careful to describe what those attributes look like in their true Christian expression:

"True Christian fortitude consists in strength of mind, through grace, exerted in two things; in ruling and suppressing the evil, and unruly passions and affections of the mind; and in steadfastly and freely exerting, and following good affections and dispositions, without being hindered by sinful fear, or the oppostion of enemies. But the passions that are restrained and kept under in the exercise of this Christian strength and fortitude, are those very passions that are vigorously and violently exerted, in a false boldness for Christ.....When persons are fierce and violent, and exert thier sharp and bitter passions, it shows weakness, instead of strength and fortitude."

"There is a pretended boldness for Christ that arises from no better principle than pride....'tis the nature of spiritual pride to cause men to seek distinction and singularity; and so oftentimes to set themselves at war with those that they call carnal, that they may be more highly exalted among their party. True boldness for Christ is universal and overcomes all, and carries 'em above the displeasure of friends and foes; so that they will forsake all rather than Chirst and will rather offend all parties, and be thought meanly of by all, than offend Christ. And that duty which tries whether a man is willing to be despised by them that are of his own party, and thought the least worthy to be regarded by them, is a much more proper trial of his boldness for Christ, than his being forward to expose himself to the reproach of opposers....He is bold for Christ, that has Chrisitan fortitude enough, to confess his fault openly, when he has comitted one that requires it...Such things as these are vastly greater evidence of holy boldness, than resolutely and fiercely confronting opposers."

And finally, and possibly most crucial, there's forgiveness to be considered:

"It is so as to a forgiving spirit, or a dispostion to overlook and forgive injuries. Christ gives it to us both as a negative and positive evidence; and is express in teaching us, that if we are of such a spirit, 'tis a sign we are in a state of forgiveness and favor ourselves; and that if we are not of such a spirit, we are not forgiven of God; and seems to take special care that we should take good notice of it, and always bear it on our minds." (See Matt. 6:12, 14-15; 18: 22 to the end, and Mark 11: 25-26.)

Once again, there is much food for thought. I'm still not over the Sixth Sign. I hope I never lose the impact of it, and that for me it will be truly life-changing.

(All emphasis mine.)

Like to think you're rational?

Apparently, and contrary to popular belief, being a fundamentalist Christian may just help you with that very thing. Here's a link to a very interesting article from the Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122178219865054585.html

A tribute to a mother

I have a three hour job today, then my mom to visit. For now, here's a link to a lovely little article by John Piper written in tribute to his mother. It includes lovely photos of both his parents, which are rather fascinating. It also includes a look a very realistic view of what a "complementarian" marriage looks like.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Devo night

Real quick, it's been a busy couple of days, haven't read a single blog. But here's a link to Paul's devotional: http://possumbane.livejournal.com/423966.html

Monday, October 6, 2008

Prayer request

I've not received any e-mail from our missionaries in Kyrgyzstan yet, but this morning's news tells of a powerful earthquake in that country. I'm sure our prayers are in order.

http://cnnwire.blogs.cnn.com/2008/10/06/kyrgyzstan-quake-kills-70-destroys-120-buildings-2/

Saturday, October 4, 2008

James White takes on Islam

Many of you will already be familiar with James White, Christian apologist, debator, author, and host of the Dividing Line. He's been an avid promoter of sound Christian doctrine in various circles, among Christians, non-Christians, and the cults. Well, Mr. White has recently begun to turn his attention to what may be most critical and dangerous struggle of our times - Islam. In order to do this, he's undertaken the daunting task of mastering the Arabic language and the Quran. He's begun debating leading Islamic figures. He's being taken note of. He's becoming the target of Islamic ire.

I've provided a link from his blog which gives a peek into what his work is beginning to look like. It's not a really easy read (his blog seldom is), but I hope you'll take the time to look it over: http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2896 As you near the end of the post, his love for these people who are walking in darkness and full of hate, begins to become very evident. There's a lot going on in the world today, but not much is more important, urgent, or already deadly than the Muslim situation. The work Mr. White is doing should probably be moved to the front-burner of our minds and prayers. And while I haven't heard him refer to it, it seems to me that this work is going to put him in harms way and that prayers for his protection would be in order.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Christian persecution in India

And while I've got the state of the world on the brain, here's a link from my friend Nahomi over at www.couragetotremble.wordpress.com. She is a Christian native of India, now living in New Zealand. She has been informing me of the persecution our brothers and sisters in India are experiencing at this time. It would be good to remember them and their nation in our prayers. The link is from a New Zealand paper, and, according to Nahomi, is a fair representation of the situation in India: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10535470

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Edwards' Sixth Sign - Christian Humility

I was glad for the extra week to try to process this chapter. It was long, almost 30 thick, meaty pages. By about half-way through I was beginning to doubt my position in Christ, seeing my own pride described in every page. This is really an intensely realistic and practical look at the nature of true Christian humility, and at pride, and its deceitfulness in the human heart. This chapter holds a bright light and a mirror up to the soul. As I read further I was, thankfully, able to recognize signs of grace in my heart as well, and regained some assurance, and learned some things about spiritual pride, a legalistic spirit, and true humility I hope I never forget. I'm going to let Edwards do most of the talking here since I cannot improve upon him, I really dislike trying to condense his thought, but wouldn't dare post the whole chapter here. My hope is that the sample below get his very important point across, and hopefully will convince any and all to read this great classic for themselves.

First Edwards defines "evangelical humiliation" (as opposed to what he terms "legal humiliation") as: "as sense that a Christian has of his own utter insufficiency, despicableness, and odiousness, with an answerable frame of heart." He further describes it this way: "In legal humiliation men are brought to despair of helping themselves; in evangelical, they are brought voluntarily to deny and renounce themselves; in the former they are subdued and forced to the ground; in the latter, they are brought sweetly to yield, and freely and with delight to prostrate themselves at the feet of God....Men may be legally humbled and have no humility; as the wicked at the Day of Judgement will be thoroughly convinced that they have no righteousness, but are altogether sinful, and exceeding guilty, and justly exposed to eternal damnation, and be fully sensible of their own helplessness, without the least mortification of the pride of their hearts."

And, says Edwards, "This is a great and most essential thing in true religion. The whole frame of the gospel, and everything appertaining to the new Covenant, and all God's dispensation towards fallen man, are calculated to bring to pass this effect in the hearts of men. They that are destitute of this, have no true religion, whatever profession they may make, and how high soever their religious affections may be..." This is a hard saying, but it is backed up by a myriad of Scripture references.

He breaks down the Christian's "duty of self-denial" into to components:

"first, in a man's denying his worldly inclinations, and in forsaking and renouncing all worldly objects and enjoyments; and secondly, in denying his natural self-exaltation, and renouncing his own dignity and glory, and in being emptied of himself; so that he does freely anf from his very heart, as it were renounce himself, and annihilate himself." And, as he says, "natural men can come much nearer to the former than the latter....'Tis inexpressible, and almost inconceivable, how strong a self-righteous, self-exalting, disposition is naturally in man; and what he will not do and suffer, to feed and gratify it; and what lengths have been gone in a seeming self-denial to feed and gratify it; and what lengths have been gone in seeming self-denial in other respects...." (he mentions by way of example the Essenes, Pharisees, Papists, Mahometans, and others among the heathens who undergo degrees of "self-denial" "...all to do sacrifice to this Moloch of spiritual pride or self-righteousness; and that they may have something wherein to exalt themselves before God, and above their fellow creatures."

Edwards goes on to paint a picture of what this true, evangelical humility looks like, repeatedly contrasting it with images of the false. In his descriptions I was able to recognize in my own heart both truth and falsehood. To be able to see oneself in this way this is at once horrible and priceless.

"Tis true that many hypocrites make great pretences to humility, as well as other graces; and very often there is nothing whatsoever which they make a higher profession of." But, "...not with a heart that is broken, not with spiritual mourning, not with the tears of her that washed Jesus' feet with her tears....But with a light air, with smiles in the countenance, or with a pharisaical affectation; and we must believe that they are thus humble, and see themselves so vile, upon the credit of their say so, for there is nothing appears in 'em of any savor of humility, in the manner of their deportment and deeds that they do. There are many that are full of expressions of their own vileness, who yet expect to be lookedupon as eminent and bright saints by others as their due; and 'tis dangerous for any so much as to hint to the contrary, or to carry it towards them any otherwise, than as if we looked upon 'em some of the chief of Christians."

"There is no man living that is lifted up with a conceit of his own experiences and discoveries, and upon the account of them glisters in his own eyes, but what trusts in his experiences, and makes a righteousness of 'em; however he may use humble terms, and speak of his experiences as of the great things God has done for him, and it may be calls upon others to glorify God for them; yet he that is proud of his experiences, arrogates something to himself, as though his experiences were some dignity of his. And if he looks on them as his own dignity, he necessarily thinks that God looks on them as he does; and so unavoidably imagines that God looks on his experiences as a dignity in him, as he looks on 'em himself; and that he glisters as much in God's eyes, as he does in his own. And thus he trusts in what is inherent in him, to make him shine in God's sight, and recommend him to God; and with this encouragement he goes before God in prayer; and this makes him expect much from God; and this makes him think that Christ loves him, and that he is willing to clothe him with his righteousness; because he supposes that he is taken with his experiences and graces. And this is a high degree of living on his own righteousness; and such persons are in the high road to hell. Poor deluded wretches, who think they look so glistering in God's eyes, when they are a smoke in his nose, and are many of 'em more odious to him than the most impure beast in Sodom, that makes no pretense to religion."

"And some who think themselves quite emptied of themselves, and are confident that they are abased in the dust, are full as they can hold with the glory of their own humility, and lifted up to heaven with an high opinion of their abasement. Their humility is a swelling , self-conceited, confident, showy, noisy, assuming humility. It seems to be the nature of spiritual pride to make men conceited and ostentatious of their humility."

Edwards then gives us two ways to discover spiritual pride: ( I think there were two. He started with a "1." and did not follow it up with a "2." Instead, ten pages later, and after I'd long forgotten there was supposed a sequence, he started a paragraph with the word "Secondly", at which point I scrambled to try and remember when and where the "firstly" was. And to confuse it further, it was the second paragraph in a row to begin with the word "secondly". The previous "secondly" clearly referred to a different "firstly".)

Firstly: someone suffering from spiritual pride "is apt to think highly of his attainments in religion, as comparing himself with others. 'Tis natural for him to fall into that thought of himself, that he is an eminent saint, that he is very high amongst the saints, and has distinguishably good and great experiences. That is the secret language of his heart. 'God I thank thee, that I am not as other men.' (Luke 18:11)...Hence such are apt to put themselves forward among God's people, and as it were to take a high seat among them, as if there was no doubt it belonged to them...they are confident that they are guides to the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, instructors of the foolish, teachers of babes (Rom. 2: 19-20)....The persons that talk thus about their experiences, when they give an account of them, expect that others should admire them. "

By contrast, "If they were under the influence of an humble spirit, their attainments in religion would not be so apt to shine in their own eyes, nor would they be so much in admiring their own beauty. The Christians that are really the most eminent saints, and therefore have the most excellent experiences, and are greatest in the kingdom of heaven, humble themselves as a little child (Mt.18:4). Because they look on themselves as but a little children in grace, and their attainments to be but the attainments of babes in Christ, and are astonished at, and ashamed of the low degrees of their love, and their thankfulness, and their little knowledge of God."

The true Christian, a humble saint, is "much more likely to think that every saint's attainments and experiences are higher than his...." He ponders the amazing love and grace of God toward sinners and is amazed at himself, at "how little he does love...that one that is really a child of God, and that has actually received the saving benefits of that unspeakable love of Christ, should love no more; and he is apt to look upon it as a thing peculiar to himself, a strange and exempt instance; for he sees only the outside of other Christians, but he sees his own inside."

As to the spirtually proud professor of religion, Edwards has this to say: "The nature of many high religious affections, and great discoveries (as they are called) in many persons that I have been acquainted with, is to hide and cover over the corruption of their hearts, and to make it seem to them as if all their sin was gone, and to leave them without complaints of any hateful evil left in them (though it may be they cry out much of their past unworthiness); a sure and certain evidence that thier discoveries (as they call them) are darkenss and not light. 'Tis darkness that hids men's pollution and deformity; but light let into the heart discovers it, searches it out in its secret corners, and makes it plainly to appear; especially that penetrating , all-searching light of God's holiness and glory."

Now, at this point we come to the place of Edwards' own emphasis, one of the rare places in the text where italics are used: "And this may be laid down as an infallible thing, that the person who is apt to think that he, as compared with others, is a very eminent saint, much distinguished in Christian experience, in whom this is a first thought, that rises of itself, and naturally offers itself; he is certainly mistaken; he is no eminent saint; but under the great prevailings of a proud and self-righteous spirit. And if this be habitual with the man, and is statedly the prevailing temper of his mind, he is no saint at all; he has not the least degree of any true Christian experience; so surely as the Word of God is true."

These are hard words - words I sorely needed to hear - words the modern church needs sorely to hear. A sister in Christ, a new friend, told me a couple of days ago that in all the years she'd been going to church she'd never heard anyone use the expression "true Christian" until joining our reformed fellowship. I knew exactly what she meant. If we don't have a category for this, we will not examine ourselves, and will deceive ourselves and be deceived by others.

Now we come to "Secondly": another thing that is an infallible sign of spiritual pride is persons being apt to think highly of their humility. False experiences are commonly attended with a counterfeit humility. And it is the very nature of a counterfeit humility, to be highly conceited of itself. False religious affections have generally that tendency, especially when raised to a great height, to make persons think that their humility is great, and accordingly to take much notice of their great attainments in this respect, and admire them. But eminently gracious affections (I scruple not to say it) are evermore of a contrary tendency, and have universally a contrary effect, in those that have them. They indeed make them very sensible what reason there is that they should be deeply humbled, and cause 'em earnestly to thirst and long after it; but they make their present humility, or that which they have already attained to, to appear small; and their remaining pride great, and exceedingly abominable...he that is truly and eminently humble, never thinks his humility great, considering the cause. The cause why he should be abased appears so great, and the abasement of the frame of his heart so greatly short of it, that he takes much more notice of his pride than his humility."

I'm finding it very difficult to condense this chapter. I'd prefer to have everyone read it in it's entirety. But I will end here with one more rich and lengthy quote:

"An eminent saint is not apt to think himself eminent in any thing; all his graces and experiences are ready to appear to him to be comparatively small; but expecially his humility. There is nothing that appertains to Christian experience, and true piety, that is so much out of his sight as his humility. He is a thousand times more quick-sighted to discern his pride, than his humility; that he easily discerns, and is apt to take much notice of, but hardly discerns his humility. On the contrary, the deluded hypocrite, that is under the power of spiritual pride, is so blind to nothing as his pride; and so quick-sighted to nothing, as the shews of humility that are in him.

"The humble Christian is more apt to find fault with his own pride than with other men's. He is apt to put the best construction on others' words and behavior, and to think that none are so proud as himself. But the proud hypocrite is quick to discern the mote in he brother's eye, in this respect; while he sees nothing of the beam in his own. He is very often much in crying out of others' pride, finding fault with others' apparel and way of living; and is affected ten times as much with his neighbor's ring or ribband, as with all the filthiness of his own heart."

Make that two quotes:

The "truly humble person...is not stiff and self-willed; he is patient with hard fare; he expects no other than to be despised, and takes it patiently; he don't take it heinously that he is overlooked and but little regarded; he is prepared to be in low place; he readily honors his superiors; he takes reproofs quietly; he readily honors others as above him; he easily yields to be taught, and don't claim much to his understanding and judgement; he is not overnice or humorsome, and has his spirit subdued to hard things; he is not assuming, nor apt to take much upon him, but 'tis natural for him to be subject to others. Thus is is with the humble Christian....he is humble and modest in his behavior amongst men. 'Tis in vane for any to pretend that they are humble, and as little children before God, when they are haughty, assuming and impudent in their behavior amongst men. The Apostle informs us that the design of the gospel is to cut off all glorying, not only before God, but also before men (Rom. 4: 1-2)."

All emphasis in bold type is mine.

(This is my latest addition to the Reading the Classics online reading group over at www.challies.com. We are currently reading Jonathan Edwards' work, Religious Affection.)