Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Christian Lover

Ligonier Ministries has published a new book, The Christian Lover. The book is filled with love letters between spouses written by heroes of the faith over the centuries. Maybe some of us guys should get this and read it out loud to our wives on Valentine's Day, or any other day for that matter.

Carl Trueman:
Michael Haykin never ceases to surprise with his gift for producing unusual books on neglected aspects of church history. Here he gives his readers insights into the love lives of some of the great saints of the past, bringing out their humanity in touching and unique ways. An unusual book, certainly, but well worth reading.
Daniel L. Akin
The Christian Lover is both insightful and inspirational. Your heart will be touched as you gain a brief glimpse into the love shared by these heroes of the faith. Be prepared for the unexpected. The passions of these couples will surprise you, but you will not be disappointed.
Excerpt from a letter by Samuel Pearce to Sarah Pearce:
London, September 7, 1795
. . . Every day improves not only my tenderness but my esteem for you. Called as I now am to mingle much with society in all its orders I have daily opportunity of making remarks on human temper and after all I have seen and thought my judgment as well as my affection still approves of you as the best of women for me. We have been too long united by conjugal ties to admit a suspicion of flattery in our correspondence or conversation. . . . I begin to count the days which I hope will bring me to a re-enjoyment of your dear company.

Dublin June 24, 1796
. . . For my part, I compare our present correspondence to a kind of courtship, rendered sweeter than what usually bears that name by a certainty of success and a knowledge of the suitableness of my dear intended. Not less than when I sought your hand, so I now covet your heart, nor doth the security of possessing you at all lessen any pleasure at the prospect of calling you my own, when we meet again the other side of St. George's Channel. . . . O our dear fireside! When shall we sit down toe to toe, and tête-à-tête again. Not a long time I hope will elapse ere I reenjoy that felicity.
Don't you wish you could write like that?

Filled with people muddling through

Our brains have an amazing capacity to be messed up. The mental problems that normal people face can be excruciating. Of course, the mental problems that people consider outside the pale of normalcy is even more so. Simply look at the number of self-help books on the shelves to see the reality of this. The counseling, psychotherapy, and psychology fields have exploded in the last fifty years.

The thought, then, is this: if our brains have such an incredible capacity to be messed up, then how incredible will our brains be on that day when they are fully healed and fully functioning and a person can see himself, his motivations, and his affections clearly?

As I look out my office window this morning on the skyline of Minneapolis, I am awed by the minds that created buildings hundreds of feet tall, girded by glass. I am awed by the minds that devised ways to get water up that high so that faucets run and toilets flush. I am awed by the fact that on -15 degree days, the inside of those buildings is a comfortable 70 degrees. Or on 94 degree days, those buildings are still a comfortable 70 degrees.

Yet, I am saddened and dismayed that those same buildings are filled with people muddling through heartache, guilt, broken relationships, and messed up heads.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

The Eternal Appetite of Infancy

A good friend of mine has a blog. You might want to check it out. Yesterday, he placed a quote from Chesterton that I think is worth repeating and thinking about.
It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (p. 51)
(HT: Remanations)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This Is, After All, God's World

Stephen Nichols continues:
The second teaching moment of apostasy lit concerns the Christian environment. Thankfully, correcting the stifling environment is far less challenging than responding to the sternness problem. This is, after all, God's world. His kingdom does not stop at the gated entrance to the Christian camp or the security detectors at the doors of the Christian bookstore. Can the rest of the radio dial also be tuned in from time to time? Christians, despite there being some good ones out there, aren't always the best writers, painters, and musicians. Beauty, justice, even truth may live in those seemingly dark corners untraversed by the Christian family. Even non-Christian friends may turn out to be not sired by the devil after all. Finding one's way here could, admittedly, be tricky at times. But it's not as treacherous as we think. Even Christian parents may learn a thing or two by getting "out there" from time to time. We might even learn something, even though our hackles may be raised in the process, as we reach to the secular shelf of the secular bookstore and purchase a secular book in the new genre of apostasy lit. We may wince at parts. We may curse, Christian curse of course, at parts. We may cry at parts. And, we may even be led to prayer at parts: Lord, have mercy upon us; Lord, be gracious to us.
From Apostasy Lit: Why Do They Leave? by Stephen Nichols

The Dance Between Grace and Mercy and Justice and Wrath

Raising four children is a difficult thing, especially if you are a Christian and want your children to have a deep and saving faith. There are pitfalls and teaching moments along the way:
Perhaps this harshness and sternness derive from a desire, albeit well-intentioned, to control. Christian parents, and I readily identify with this since I am one, desperately want their children to be at peace with themselves and at peace with their world, and they know that such peace will only come when they are at peace with God. They want to, in the words of Jonathan Edwards to his daughter, meet there at last in heaven as a family. And this desire can be strong, so strong that it morphs into something precariously close to ugliness. I'll drive it into them, and it will be for their own good, becomes the impulse. This inclination towards sternness, towards doling out justice over grace, is inched along as a reaction to the cultural pressures of an acceptance-no-matter-what value. Christian parents should be able to fret over their teenager's sexual activity. Christian parents do believe that actions have consequences and that some actions shouldn't be overlooked. Nevertheless, sometimes the sternness overtakes otherwise good intentions. No doubt, this gets complicated. Only God has mastered the dance between grace and mercy and justice and wrath. All we can do is strive to approximate it.
From Apostasy Lit: Why Do They Leave? by Stephen Nichols