Monday, July 29, 2013

Infinate Wisdom in Manifesting His Glory

"In the infinite wisdom of the Lord of all the earth, each event falls with exact precision into its proper place in the unfolding of His divine plan.  Nothing, however small, however strange, occurs without His ordering, or without its particular fitness for its place in the working out of His purpose; and the end of all shall be the manifestation of His glory, and the accumulation of His praise."  ~ B.B. Warfield

Monday, July 15, 2013

Private Prayer and Devotion

“The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.”  - Leviticus 6:13
Keep the altar of private prayer burning. This is the very life of all piety. The sanctuary and family altars borrow their fires here, therefore let this burn well. Secret devotion is the very essence, evidence, and barometer, of vital and experimental religion.
Burn here the fat of your sacrifices. Let your closet seasons be, if possible, regular, frequent, and undisturbed. Effectual prayer availeth much. Have you nothing to pray for? Let us suggest the Church, the ministry, your own soul, your children, your relations, your neighbours, your country, and the cause of God and truth throughout the world. Let us examine ourselves on this important matter. Do we engage with lukewarmness in private devotion? Is the fire of devotion burning dimly in our hearts? Do the chariot wheels drag heavily? If so, let us be alarmed at this sign of decay. Let us go with weeping, and ask for the Spirit of grace and of supplications. Let us set apart special seasons for extraordinary prayer. For if this fire should be smothered beneath the ashes of a worldly conformity, it will dim the fire on the family altar, and lessen our influence both in the Church and in the world.
The text will also apply to the altar of the heart. This is a golden altar indeed. God loves to see the hearts of his people glowing towards himself. Let us give to God our hearts, all blazing with love, and seek his grace, that the fire may never be quenched; for it will not burn if the Lord does not keep it burning. Many foes will attempt to extinguish it; but if the unseen hand behind the wall pour thereon the sacred oil, it will blaze higher and higher. Let us use texts of Scripture as fuel for our heart’s fire, they are live coals; let us attend sermons, but above all, let us be much alone with Jesus.
- Charles Spurgeon's Morning Meditation, July 15th

Friday, July 12, 2013

Is your candle lit???

Stablished through Suffering

"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."  - 1 Peter 5:10

"Notice how this blessing of being “stablished in the faith” is gained. The apostle’s words point us to suffering as the means employed-”After that ye have suffered awhile.” It is of no use to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us. Those old gnarlings on the root of the oak tree, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. So the Christian is made strong, and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life. Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough discipline God is fulfilling this benediction to you."  - Charles Spurgeon

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Excellent Quote on Marriage

 When I found this quote the other day I was very struck.  This is so good!  Such a precious declaration of true Christian commitment in the friendship of marriage.  Truly, the goal of our lives is Christ, and we must seek to walk in a way that pleases and glorifies our Lord, points others to Him, and in marriage to assist one another in this pilgrimage to heaven.  May I be such a woman, and may the Lord send me such a man in His perfect timing!

"One of the ends which every believer must propose to himself, on entering the state of marriage, is to secure a faithful friend who will be a helpmate to him in reference to the world to come, assist him in the great business of his soul’s salvation, and pray for him and with him. One that will affectionately tell him of his sins and defects, viewed in the light of a Christian. One that will stimulate and draw him by the power of a holy example and the sweet force of persuasive words. One that will warn him in temptation, comfort him in dejection, and in every way assist him in his pilgrimage to heaven."
 ~  John Angell James

Pruning for Growth

"A Christian, for the sweet fruit he bears to God and men, is compared to the noblest of all plants, the vine.  Now as the most generous vine, if not pruned, runs out into many superfluous stems and grows at last weak and fruitless, so doth the best man, if he be not cut short of his desires and pruned with afflictions.  If it be painful to bleed, it is worse to wither.  Let me be pruned, that I may grow;  rather than cut up, to burn."  -- Joseph Hall

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Thoughts worth reading on courtship from a dear brother

With permission I am sharing a letter that our dear friend, Andrew Romanowitz wrote to me today.  He expresses his thoughts so well.  We agree with everything that he wrote!!!  Since he articulates his thoughts so well I asked if he would mind if I shared his letter on our blog.  Andrew just turned 18 but his maturity is far beyond his years.  God has done a wonderful work in this young man.  I so look forward to seeing how God will use him for His glory in the future.  Thank you Andrew for your friendship and for sharing your thoughts with us!  We love and value you greatly!!!

Good afternoon!! Hope you all are having a great day so far.
What I've written here is not really so much questions as it is observations. I really like what Mr. Botkin says about courtship in that it is a wise convention which has been developed over time for the forming of Godly marriages. In the past couple of generations, we've created this cultural pattern or paradigm that is built for the most part on a great deal of biblical wisdom. There are a lot of good things to say about it. However, I think there's still some refining to be done. I'm sharing these observations with you because I'm curious to know if these are things you've also seen, or if you think I'm maybe a little off track in some of my assessments.

Lately (and in part because of some things I've been hearing about in my circles of friends) I've been thinking over some of the common expectations regarding courtship and trying to determine how realistic they are. I think there are a lot of great things about the courtship movement. The emphasis on parental counsel, a father's role in guarding the gate of his daughter's heart, and the importance of accountability, responsibility and intentionality on the part of young people is all fantastic. But I wonder sometimes if parents who haven't practiced courtship themselves, but are planning on the courtship model for their children, develop unrealistic expectations in some areas. So this is just a collection of some of my observations, as well as a few questions that are rolling around in my mind.
I think there are a lot of parents who grew up with that abject mess called dating, and who, as they are trying to spare their children all of the relational and emotional wreckage which that system produces, have developed some unrealistic expectations for what the courtship ritual can and cannot accomplish. My understanding is that whenever two people who were only friends and acquaintances begin to pursue coming together as husband and wife, there's going to be a great deal of emotional vulnerability. A system can help to prevent really awful things from happening, but it can't reduce that vulnerability to nothing. Relationships always involve vulnerability, and developing the closest kind of relationship there is will always involve a great deal of vulnerability. As a result, we need to be very, very careful with that process, hence courtship. Courtship tries to put the young man in the greater position of vulnerability, which is good and in keeping with biblical principles of chivalry. Men are more emotionally resilient and should therefore put themselves in the greater position of vulnerability where they can.
Still, I think some parents have this mistaken idea that somehow rigidly adhering to the rules and regulations of courtship can really protect young people from all emotional pain. It just doesn't work like that. Whenever you begin to think seriously about marrying someone, emotions begin to develop. I think we would gather from the Scriptures that it's good to try to hold those emotions back, and not intentionally stir them up, until the point of betrothal. But is it really realistic to say that those emotions won't develop at all when two people begin to seriously consider marrying each other? It seems to me that in some cases I've observed, the emotional connection that develops in a courtship before the point of engagement can be even more deep-seated than in a dating relationship because the young people in a courtship relationship are usually much more serious, open, and intentional about the pursuit of marriage.

Another thing I've observed...some parents are very, very busy with this and that and the other thing, and so they sort of go on autopilot, neglecting the responsibility of walking closely with their children through the process of pursuing marriage, just thinking that so long as the courtship paradigm is rigidly adhered to, there will be no big problems. That's a very unrealistic outlook. There's a common saying that the course of true love never runs smooth...when it comes to Christian marriages, I think this is absolutely true. The Enemy knows that Godly homes are the Kingdom's greatest asset, so he's going to do everything he can to interfere. There will be problems.
And when those problems arise, some parents begin making heavy-handed decisions because they are out of touch with what's going on. They seem to think that any relationship that has strayed the least bit out of bounds must be cut off completely, because the young people obviously aren't responsible enough to be married if they can't perfectly follow the exact courtship pattern all by themselves. Which is usually not a fair judgment. This upsets the young people, who have up to that point been somewhat (although not entirely) left to themselves. I have personally witnessed this very thing on several occasions. Very often parents in this situation seem a lot more concerned about protecting the courtship situation than protecting their children from the pain of unnecessary relational demise. Which makes me wonder if somewhere along the way we've developed a wrong understanding of the purpose and value of courtship.

Courtship is not just about nice young people making happy dreams together. It's about warring for Christ's kingdom by seeking to establish Godly households. Does the devil really care about courtship--or is it households he wants to destroy. And if he can destroy them in the womb, so to speak, he will. Does anyone really think that they are going to try to form such a great weapon against the Enemy without opposition? There is tremendous kingdom potential in Godly marriages, and he knows it!! This isn't about playground games. This is about war. People get hurt in war. We have to think in battlefield terms. Instead of thinking, "What's the best way to handle this situation for the sake of courtship," we have to think, "What's the best way to handle this situation for the sake of Christ's kingdom."

Another thought is that while courtship is great as far as it goes, it is not a substitute for the providence of God in developing Godly marriages. God involves Himself in an exceptional way in the forming of Christian marriages (Proverbs 19:14), and He doesn't always work inside of our expectations and carefully crafted patterns. There is no substitute for laboring in prayer and earnestly seeking the will of the Lord. We cannot leave it to courtship to discern God's will in this area. We can use courtship as a protective, guiding tool. But that doesn't mean that every single Christian marriage is going to be formed through the exact courtship process. Yes, there are some non-negotiables, but we need to let the Scriptures dictate those. There are some biblical examples of the forming of Godly marriages that really don't fit with the details of typical courtship expectations; the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah is a classic example.

All of this is not to run down courtship, but simply to say that while much in the courtship paradigm is very praiseworthy, I think my generation will need to refine and reform some things.

Thoughts? Comments? :-) Let me know what you think!
 Andrew shares many stimulating thoughts on his blogs.  I encourage you to visit them.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Our New Home!

Below is a note that a dear friend sent us a few weeks ago that so perfectly expresses this monumental time in our family's life. 

I was so blessed when I read this. It is for you, for sure!
Deuteronomy 8:2-10,15-16
And you shall remember all the way that the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years (days), that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you and let you be hungry (for provision), and fed you with manna (hope) which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread (provision) alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. . . thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining (shaping) you just as a man disciplines (shapes) his son (whom he loves). Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you  into a good land . . . in which you shall not lack anything (of His plans for you).. . when you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.
He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents (no house) and scorpions (?) and thirsty ground (?)where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and test you, to do good for you in the end.
WOW! Read the whole chapter and apply it yourself. What a blessed example of how He led you recently. Truly He loves you. Anticipate the great reward and blessings He has planned for you in this new land where He is taking you.
My love and prayers, Cheryl

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Quote on Affliction by J.C.Ryle

"If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other people. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory to the end – all this our Savior has promised to give. But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. He loves us too well to promise that.
"By affliction He teaches us many precious lessons, which without it we should never learn. By affliction He shows us our emptiness and weakness, draws us to the throne of grace, purifies our affections, weans us from the world, makes us long for heaven. In the resurrection morning we shall all say, 'it is good for me that I was afflicted.' We shall thank God for every storm." ~ J.C. Ryle

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Bible Reading Help

Pastor Tim Conway exhorts, in his gracious way, on some practical advice on daily Bible Reading.

A Life Verse

This is a life verse for me. :-)

True Joy ~ Quote by Spurgeon

 "It is not so much what I have as what I shall have that makes me joyful."  - Charles Spurgeon 
I love this! So very, very true!
Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my hearth faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Perfect Peace and Strength

I was very blessed by this devotional this morning.

“Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”  - Isaiah 26:4
Seeing that we have such a God to trust to, let us rest upon him with all our weight; let us resolutely drive out all unbelief, and endeavour to get rid of doubts and fears, which so much mar our comfort; since there is no excuse for fear where God is the foundation of our trust. A loving parent would be sorely grieved if his child could not trust him; and how ungenerous, how unkind is our conduct when we put so little confidence in our heavenly Father who has never failed us, and who never will. It were well if doubting were banished from the household of God; but it is to be feared that old Unbelief is as nimble nowadays as when the psalmist asked, “Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Will he be favourable no more?” David had not made any very lengthy trial of the mighty sword of the giant Goliath, and yet he said, “There is none like it.” He had tried it once in the hour of his youthful victory, and it had proved itself to be of the right metal, and therefore he praised it ever afterwards; even so should we speak well of our God, there is none like unto him in the heaven above or the earth beneath; “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.” There is no rock like unto the rock of Jacob, our enemies themselves being judges. So far from suffering doubts to live in our hearts, we will take the whole detestable crew, as Elijah did the prophets of Baal, and slay them over the brook; and for a stream to kill them at, we will select the sacred torrent which wells forth from our Saviour’s wounded side. We have been in many trials, but we have never yet been cast where we could not find in our God all that we needed. Let us then be encouraged to trust in the Lord for ever, assured that his ever lasting strength will be, as it has been, our succour and stay.
-Charles Spurgeon's Evening Meditation, July 5th

After I read this devotional, I could not help but to think of this precious song by Laura Story.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Newest Scripture Picture

My newest picture.  When I read these verses last night, I couldn't help but thinking that they would go nicely with this picture, considering the farm equipment. :-)

A Challenging Exhortation from Spurgeon

“The ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven wellfavoured and fat kine.”
- Gen_41:4
Pharaoh’s dream has too often been my waking experience. My days of sloth have ruinously destroyed all that I had achieved in times of zealous industry; my seasons of coldness have frozen all the genial glow of my periods of fervency and enthusiasm; and my fits of worldliness have thrown me back from my advances in the divine life. I had need to beware of lean prayers, lean praises, lean duties, and lean experiences, for these will eat up the fat of my comfort and peace. If I neglect prayer for never so short a time, I lose all the spirituality to which I had attained; if I draw no fresh supplies from heaven, the old corn in my granary is soon consumed by the famine which rages in my soul. When the caterpillars of indifference, the cankerworms of worldliness, and the palmerworms of self-indulgence, lay my heart completely desolate, and make my soul to languish, all my former fruitfulness and growth in grace avails me nothing whatever. How anxious should I be to have no lean-fleshed days, no ill-favoured hours! If every day I journeyed towards the goal of my desires I should soon reach it, but backsliding leaves me still far off from the prize of my high calling, and robs me of the advances which I had so laboriously made. The only way in which all my days can be as the “fat kine,” is to feed them in the right meadow, to spend them with the Lord, in His service, in His company, in His fear, and in His way. Why should not every year be richer than the past, in love, and usefulness, and joy?-I am nearer the celestial hills, I have had more experience of my Lord, and should be more like Him. O Lord, keep far from me the curse of leanness of soul; let me not have to cry, “My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!” but may I be well-fed and nourished in thy house, that I may praise thy name.
- Charles Spurgeon's Morning Meditation, July 3rd

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rejoicing in Christ, Our Joy and Strength

“Our heart shall rejoice in Him.”  - Psalm 33:21

Blessed is the fact that Christians can rejoice even in the deepest distress; although trouble may surround them, they still sing; and, like many birds, they sing best in their cages. The waves may roll over them, but their souls soon rise to the surface and see the light of God’s countenance; they have a buoyancy about them which keeps their head always above the water, and helps them to sing amid the tempest, “God is with me still.” To whom shall the glory be given? Oh! to Jesus-it is all by Jesus. Trouble does not necessarily bring consolation with it to the believer, but the presence of the Son of God in the fiery furnace with him fills his heart with joy. He is sick and suffering, but Jesus visits him and makes his bed for him. He is dying, and the cold chilly waters of Jordan are gathering about him up to the neck, but Jesus puts His arms around him, and cries, “Fear not, beloved; to die is to be blessed; the waters of death have their fountain-head in heaven; they are not bitter, they are sweet as nectar, for they flow from the throne of God.” As the departing saint wades through the stream, and the billows gather around him, and heart and flesh fail him, the same voice sounds in his ears, “Fear not; I am with thee; be not dismayed; I am thy God.” As he nears the borders of the infinite unknown, and is almost affrighted to enter the realm of shades, Jesus says, “Fear not, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Thus strengthened and consoled, the believer is not afraid to die; nay, he is even willing to depart, for since he has seen Jesus as the morning star, he longs to gaze upon Him as the sun in his strength. Truly, the presence of Jesus is all the heaven we desire. He is at once
“The glory of our brightest days;
The comfort of our nights.”
-Charles Spurgeon's Morning Meditation, July 2nd