Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lord, please help me understand what is going on in my head

Lord, please help me understand what is going on in my head. I know that a lot of things have been going on in my life the last couple of years, but I am recognizing that my personality seems to be changing. I think that as I write this prayer, I need to just do some thinking with my fingers to try to better understand what's going on. . .

I used to be a strong, self-assured person. I was the eternal optimist. I was almost always exceedingly joyful – happiness seemed to spill over, even when problems came my way. My ex-husband used to get upset with me and would say things like "the glass isn't always half full - it's usually half empty or less". I enjoyed life. I didn’t need to look for happiness; it was just part of my life. What happened? Why is it that I need to be intentional and seek You out to regain my joy?

I find myself being this weepy wimp that is regularly sad and depressed. The slightest thing seems to bring me to tears. Why? I never used to cry. Even when I was on a diving team and hit my back on the diving board when I was practicing a new dive and forgot to dive out because I was concentrating on getting more height I didn’t cry! Years later I found out how badly I had injured my back when I saw the x-rays. When my parents got divorced I didn’t cry. Except at the mediation appointment in 2003, I didn’t cry at any time during my divorce proceedings (and they lasted from 1999 to 2003). What is different now? Lord, please help me understand!

I find comfort in very little these days. The only thing that I really enjoy these days is being at church, when I’m reading and talking to You, and teaching the ESL classes. I wish we had services at the church every day of the week. I so look forward to going. I even find myself sticking around after the services because I don't want to go home. I regularly am one of the last people to leave church. I don't want to leave this place where I get such joy. I had a great time at the Ligonier Ministries conference a few weeks ago – I didn’t want it to end. Why is this? Why can’t I seem to find happiness in other things? It seems like I just put on this happy “face” other times. I have gotten very good putting on this "face". I'm sure that not many people would even be able to know that it isn't genuine. It has gotten so bad that sometimes it seems comforting to be sad. . .I get into this “funk” and just want to wallow there. . .why would it feel comforting to feel sad? I can’t understand it. Is it because I am allowing sin to overtake me?

I have lost interest in so much. I have always been the type of person who is always busy, but it’s somehow different now. When I worked in New York City I'm sure that I was perceived as having a Type A personality. I probably worked at least 70 hour weeks then I had an hour by train each way to work (not mention the walk or subway ride between Penn Station and Rockefeller Plaza and the drive from Princeton Junction to my home). In New York you get paid a great salary and have great benefits, but the requirements of a job are a lot. I loved working. Even in college I always got an overload permit so that I could take 21 credit hours of classes each semester. On top of that I worked to pay my bills. I did get financial aid, but that covered my school bills so I needed to supplement it. I was on my own since I was 17 and needed to stay there during the summer and all breaks. I always lived in an apartment off-campus. I had turned into a career student - there 5-1/2 years as an undergrad then started working on my MBA - and loving every semester! I was only 2 classes short of getting a 2nd undergrad degree with a minor before I started my masters' work. At the time I worked on my masters' I also went to the local community college and started working on an Associates in Automotive Technology (which I loved! I still wish I had taken the class where we rebuilt an engine).

I’m still extremely busy, but I find myself doing more alone type activities. Even with work I can do a lot from home – just accessing the office from my computer in the house. I not only am doing more alone type activities, but I seek them out.

I never was the “girlfriend” type of person, but now I seem to avoid being around people except when I’m at church. Why do I seem to be keeping people at arms-length? I have this internal dichotomy going on because I also seem to have this great longing to talk to someone. I have found myself sending a few e-mails to both my pastor and his wife about things that are going on. Why? I know he is extremely busy and I’m sure there are far more important things for him to take his time with than some petty things going on with me. Why am I bothering him? He has been very gracious about it and hasn't made mention of it, but I know I can't continue doing this - it isn't right of me and I know he is far too busy to have me continue.

Even with everything I have told him, I still haven't even touched on my deep inner turmoil - I have only touched the surface. I know I value his opinion about things and You have greatly blessed him by giving this great wisdom and discernment (both things I am praying for). His wife is my daughter’s Sunday School teacher and so somehow when I type an e-mail it seems right but later I wonder why I did it. It isn’t like we are friends, but she just seems very approachable.

I have had a couple of meetings with my pastor and one with him and his wife. I do appreciate their taking the time to talk with me and I do feel they were productive meetings. When all has been said and done though, I am left thinking that they must think that I am really screwed up in the head. That I am SO not together (why would it matter what they think? why do I want to put a "face" on this?). I have found myself on occasion not wanting to look them in the eye because I am embarrassed at their knowing such personal things about me. It doesn't seem right that I feel this way. Again, why? Why do I want to cling to my problems and personal dilemmas? Why is it that I can only seem to feel totally free to talk when it is to You alone, Lord?

At the meeting I had with both of them (which was yesterday), my pastor asked how they could pray for me. I have so many things that I wanted to say but just blurted one out. Later I thought about it and then sent off an e-mail with some of the things I am praying for that have been huge for me. After I sent it I regretted that I said so much. Why couldn't I leave it at the one thing I said in our meeting?

Lord, you know that a number of the things I mentioned were about my relationship with You. Why couldn't I leave these requests to be between You and me? I, again, was left feeling that I said way too much. I also feel very uncomfortable with how I stated things. When I am praying or writing out prayers to You, I can pour out my heart. When I re-read the e-mail I sent, the way I wrote about the things I am praying about seemed so self-righteous. The words I chose seemed so fake to actually say it in that manner to someone - it was the way I am in my private thoughts and in my private written and spoken prayers to You, but in re-reading the e-mail it seemed weird to put it in writing this way to a person. I know that when I am actually praying I talk in much more detail, but even these short snippets I listed seemed so sanctimonious in writing to another person. Again, seeing my pastor and his wife tonight, knowing how personal I was when writing my prayer requests, seemed embarrassing when I saw them in person. Why do I have this thing about sharing things with someone? Why would I be embarrassed about sharing prayer requests in the manner I use when I am praying in private? That, also, somehow seems so wrong.

I am becoming obsessed with reading. The things that I am reading are good books – actually great is a better way to describe them. I am finding myself even reading when I am at a long stoplight (I haven't, however gotten to where I was when I was a kid and read even while I was walking around). I can’t seem to get enough. Lord, I am learning so much through the books that You have brought my way, but am I overdoing it? I’m reading Puritan authors, I’m reading books by fantastic godly men, I’m listening to great sermons and programs on my iPod, I’m still persevering with my in-depth Bible studies, I’m learning so much about You. . .. How much is too much? IS there such a thing?

I used to love playing piano – sitting down for hours at a time was something I regularly did (and loved doing). Now I rarely touch the piano. It seems like when I am giving a piano lesson is really the only time I play. Why? I used to get so much joy from playing. The few times I have sat down at the piano lately I play a song or two and then can’t seem to bear playing anymore. I know that I have had some problems with my eyesight and having difficulty reading the music, but this was a passion of mine. What happened?

I find that my emotions are on a roller coaster. I’m up, I’m down (more down than up). The highs are very high but the lows are lower than they have ever been. Is this just a season I’m going through? Is part of this health related? Is part of this because I’m not eating right? I know that I am eating a lot of pasta, rice and potatoes and not much in the way of fruit and vegetables because they are cheap. My food budget for the family is about $80/month right now. I would venture a guess that there have even been months where I have spent less than that.

I know that I have been regularly getting fevers – no clue as to why I am having them. I don’t feel sick, I am just hot. I'm not uncomfortable (except that a number of times my eyes are burning). Interesting . . .my son seems to notice it more than I do. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure if I would have really realized it if it weren’t for him. Is it because it has been going on for so long that I haven’t noticed?

My tremors have been getting worse (although last summer was much worse than it is now, but I think that was a temporary thing more related to my lack of sleep). My migraines have been coming back on a regular basis. When I was at the conference I had a major one. One thing that I noticed was that I had a bulge in the back of each side of my head. Once the migraine subsided, the bulges went away. It was weird that the headache only lasted a couple of days - it totally disappeared that Sunday night (not the gradual lessening of it over many days). It was also interesting that during the seminar sessions that Saturday morning they totally left me and I was able to completely concentrate on what the speaker was saying. Once each session was over it came back. Is there some sort of fluid building up in my head that is creating some sort of pressure? The drive home took about 5 hours because I needed to stop so often to rest my eyes because the pain emanated from the back of my head through to my eyes. I am finding that I am often taking 25 or more Advil a day to keep my back and head from hurting so much.

Lord, looking over what I have just typed, it seems like I am a major basket case. Wow! When I put everything down in one place it sounds absolutely pathetic. What's even worse is that there are more things I could have listed. Is it because my relationship with You isn't where it should be - that I wouldn’t have these internal conflicts going on if it were? I don't feel this is the case, but why AM I having these conflicts? Where am I going wrong? What do I need to do to get to where I should be? Am I writing this so that I can get a better grasp about what is going on? Why is it that sometimes I seem to want to avoid even thinking of my problems with myself?

Thomas Watson wrote that "afflictions are a friend to grace" and that "they augment grace. The people of God are beholden to their troubles; they would never have had so much grace if they had not met with such severe trials. Now the waters run and the spices flow forth. The saints thrive by affliction as the Lacedemonians grew rich by war. God makes grace flourish most in the fall of the leaf." Lord, why is it that you had me read this tonight?

I know that You want us to be filled with joy and praise; that You want us to live joyful lives. These feelings of sadness are so intense, though. Job said that if we pray and remember our blessings, You will restore us to joy and righteousness (Job 33:26). David wrote that the study of Your Word can bring us joy (Psalm 19:8). David also realized that he needed to praise You even in the midst of despair (Psalm 42:5). I am spending extensive times studying Your Word. I am praying like I have never prayed before in my life. I am trying to praise You.

It seems the more I try to draw close to You the more I feel so detached from "life" - like an outsider looking in.

Lord, please help guide me to get my head together. Please help me know what I need to do. I am so confused. Please help me!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Help Me Know How to Pray for My Children

Lord, my prayer for today to ask for wisdom in knowing how to pray for my children. You are great and mighty. You are my God. You are One and there is no other. You alone are able to meet the deepest longings of my heart. You alone are worthy of my worship and devotion. You are sovereign and nothing that I can do can thwart your purposes.

Oh, God, I know that you are a gracious God. Your goodness, grace and mercy flow freely from you. I am earnestly seeking after You. As is stated in II Peter 3:18, I ask, Lord, to help me "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever." I wish to forget about this world and all it's temporary pleasures, and be obedient to Your Word.

I know that you have brought others alongside to pray with me for my children. Thank you so much for that. This has helped lift this great burden that I have been carrying alone for so long. I know that my tendency is to clam up and shut down. I realize that a part of this is probably related to guilt and shame. Part of it is also that I end up feeling so exposed. I find that when I do talk with someone I have great regrets later that I ever opened my mouth. I have started reading a small book which has a writing by Arthur Hildersham and am dragged down by the weightiness of the fact that I am charged with the souls of my children. What a great load to bear!

I know that somewhere inside I do have a longing to talk with someone - someone to share my deepest thoughts and concerns with. I know I resist having any close friends and haven't really had one for over 20 years - that I keep people at arms' length because that is the easiest way to keep from being hurt, but I do have this emptiness inside. I know how to be a friend to someone, but seem unable to let someone be a friend to me. I ask that you guide me in knowing when, to whom, and what to say. I am ever looking for wisdom and discernment in this area. I wish to have the discernment I not only need to know Your will, but Your truth. Let me know what You desire. I wish to make decisions that honor You.

As is written in II Corinthians 12:9, “'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." I ask that you heal my pain and free me to discover what You can do. Please keep me always remembering the power of the gospel. It is so easy to get bogged down in sinful self-pity. I need to keep remembering to look upward and not inward.

Please help me not to give up - to keep praying through my tears. I know I often become discouraged and bogged down in life’s cares. Sometimes it seems overwhelming. Please give me the strength to carry on. As is written in I Peter 5, I need to cast all my cares upon You. I do know that You care for me. I know that You, Lord, will sustain me and You will never let me fall. You are able and willing to take everything that threatens to overwhelm me and use it for my benefit. I ask You, Lord, to take the pain and disappointment from my heart and set me free to live in faith. I am trusting You to work a miracle in order to meet the needs of those I love.

I pray that You would bring others into the lives of my children to show them the error of their ways and the reality of sin in their lives. Thank you for the people at church and Patty who have had the courage to open their mouths and say words of correction to my children. I rejoice that you have provided these people in my life. Often I feel like my kids think I am out of touch with reality because so many other people in their lives are giving them conflicting information; that what I am telling them is out-of-date and old-fashioned and has no place in today's world. I find that they discount what I say because so many other people are telling them that they (my kids) are right and I am wrong. Please help me protect my children from these ungodly influences in their lives. I know I can't shelter them forever and with the proliferation of various types of technology, they will always have these other influences. Please help me know how to handle each situation as it comes up. I ask, Lord, that you keep Your hand of protection over them even as they make bad decisions. You are the Rock that is stronger than I am. I want to protect my children, but I cannot do it without Your help.

Lord, I pray that You would draw my children unto You. I pray that my children will come to know Jesus as their Savior and friend. This is my greatest request. I wish to say, as is stated in III John 1:4, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." I wish for my children to have the "peace that passes all understanding" - this can only come from You.

Lord, I wish to fully live a Christ-filled life. Please let my children see the difference that Jesus has made in my life through my actions, words and deeds. Please let me reveal and reflect You in everything I do and say. I wish for my children to see You in me and that they would covet a true relationship with You. As David Livingston used to pray, I wish that I "might imitate Christ in all his imitable perfections" so that I might be more and more conformed to Your image. You are the very source of all holiness and perfection. I ask that You give me a passion for Your holiness. Pleae give me grace to immitate You in Your holiness.

I know that my sincere prayer has great power. Please help remind me to take more time out for prayer and fasting; the souls of my children are at stake. Help me to better manage my time so that I can regularly set aside days for this. At this time of great need I know that one day every week would not be uncalled for. Please don't let me let "life" get in the way of my spiritual needs and that of my family. I am asking, Lord, that you keep reminding me of Your Lordship in my life. Please help keep me humble. Please also keep me cognizant of the sin in my own life that I need to confess daily.

In Romans 8:28, Your Word says “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” I am clinging to this promise. I know that at all times You are working for my own good and for Your glory.

I also cling to the promise you made in I Corinthians 10:13 where you said "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." I know that you will not let me fall. I am trusting You to equip and sustain me. Help me persevere - pressing on "toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. " (Philippians 3:14)

Lord, please help me always celebrate Your goodness and mercy. I know that your hand is in this and I must seek Your will. Please grant me patience, love and understanding during these trying times.

Psalm 90:14-16

“Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil.
Let Your work appear to Your servants,
And Your glory to their children.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Psalm 67

Psalm 67

God be merciful to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us, Selah
That Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.

Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy!
For You shall judge the people righteously,
And govern the nations on earth. Selah

Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
Then the earth shall yield her increase;

God, our own God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us,
And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Blessed are the Peacemakers"

Evening Verse

"Blessed are the peacemakers:

for they shall be called the children of God."

Matthew 5:9

This is the seventh of the beatitudes: and seven was the number of perfection among the Hebrews. It may be that the Saviour placed the peacemaker the seventh upon the list because he most nearly approaches the perfect man in Christ Jesus. He who would have perfect blessedness, so far as it can be enjoyed on earth, must attain to this seventh benediction, and become a peacemaker.

There is a significance also in the position of the text. The verse which precedes it speaks of the blessedness of "the pure in heart: for they shall see God."

It is well to understand that we are to be "first pure, then peaceable." Our peaceableness is never to be a compact with sin, or toleration of evil. We must set our faces like flints against everything which is contrary to God and His holiness: purity being in our souls a settled matter, we can go on to peaceableness.

Not less does the verse that follows seem to have been put there on purpose. However peaceable we may be in this world, yet we shall be misrepresented and misunderstood: and no marvel, for even the Prince of Peace, by His very peacefulness, brought fire upon the earth. He Himself, though He loved mankind, and did no ill, was "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."

Lest, therefore, the peaceable in heart should be surprised when they meet with enemies, it is added in the following verse, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Thus, the peacemakers are not only pronounced to be blessed, but they are compassed about with blessings. Lord, give us grace to climb to this seventh beatitude!

Purify our minds that we may be "first pure, then peaceable," and fortify our souls, that our peaceableness may not lead us into cowardice and despair, when for Thy sake we are persecuted.

—Morning and Evening / Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Duggar Family with 17 Kids

A call for wisdom and discernment

Proverbs 2:1-11

"My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

"For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.

"Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you."

Proverbs 3:13-35

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.

”The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.

“My son, do not lose sight of these - keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it’ - when you have it with you. Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you. Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm. Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways, for the devious person is an abomination to the LORD, but the upright are in his confidence. The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous. Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.

“ The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.”

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My grace is sufficient for thee

II Corinthians 12:9

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

Monday, March 10, 2008

May the Lord, Mighty God, Bless and Keep You Forever

The Jim Bob Duggar Family, stars of the Discovery Health Channel’s number one hit-special, “Raising 16 Children,” perform “May the Lord, Mighty God, Bless and Keep you Forever” to the tune of “Edelweiss.” During an earlier hour-and-a-half session with this home schooling family of sixteen, festival attendees got a powerful glimpse into the way a large Christian family works together as a team in a successful project of national impact. The Duggars humble testimony of trusting God for children was an inspiration to many.

Update - they now have 17 children.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

May Christ dwell in our hearts with his indestructible joy

"Father, it is a great comfort to us that you and your Son are never glib and never gloomy. We delight in the truth that you can be infinitely happy without being callous to our pain. We stand in wonder that the light of Jesus' joy makes a rainbow in the tears on his face. We long to be like this.

We want to be strong and unshakable in the joy of our faith. But we don't want to be oblivious to the grievousness of our own sin or the pain of other people's distress. O God, fulfill in us the purpose of your Son in promising that his joy would be in us and that our joy would be full.

Make the fruit of the Spirit - joy - flourish in our lives. Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love that we may rejoice and be glad in you. Waken our slumbering souls from the sleep of listlessness. Take away the lukewarmness of our hearts. Fan the flame of zeal for the glory of your name.

May Christ so dwell in our hearts with his indestructible joy that day by day we are conformed more and more to his glad image. And so may we be a place of refuge and eternal refreshment for a hopeless, joy-seeking world of people who do not know they are starved for the glory of the gladness of God in Jesus Christ. In his name we pray, amen. "

John Piper - Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ

Isaiah 44:3

Isaiah 44:3

"For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants."

What I'm reading. . .

Here is an update of books I'm reading. . .

· The Bible Lessons of John Quincy Adams for His Son

· Poems for Patriarchs: The Verse and Prose of Christian Manhood - Edited by Douglas Phillips

· Parents in Pain: Overcoming the Hurt and Frustration of Problem Children - John White

· The Godly Man's Picture - Thomas Watson

Devotional I have added: The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions - compiled by Arthur Bennett (bummer - he doesn't credit any of the writings with the writer)

I've gone back to my old habits of always having a book with me. If I ever need to wait for the kids or for an appointment, I always have a book with me. This is a habit I had when I was growing up (although I was worse then - I would even read while walking around). It's weird. . .I can't seem to get enough reading in. It's been many years since I have read so much. At the rate I am reading now I will read at least 60 books this year.

Lord, You're blessing me with such good reading material. I know that you are guiding me in my selections. Many of these have been exactly what I have needed to read at this time. Please help me keep You always in my thoughts and to help me become more like You. Please help my life to reflect You.

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, "I believed, and so I spoke," we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Friday, March 7, 2008

Our Sufficiency in Christ

"A Story is told about William Randolph Hearst, the late newspaper publisher. Hearst invested a fortune in collecting great works of art. One day he read about some valuable pieces of art and decided that he must add them to his collection. He sent his agent abroad to locate and purchase them. Months went by before the agent returned and reported to Hearst that the items had at last been found – they were stored in his own warehouse. Hearst had purchased them years before!

"That is analogous to the alarming number of Christians today who are on a desperate search for spiritual resources they already possess. Theirs is a futile quest for something more. It’s a heretical fire fanned in part by the false notion that salvation is insufficient to transform believers and equip them for Christian living. Those thus influenced believe they need something more – more of Christ, more of the Holy Spirit . . .But as we have been seeing, to have Jesus is to have every spiritual resource. All we need is found in Him. Rather than attempting to add something to Christ we must simply learn to use the resources that are already ours in Him."

Our Sufficiency in Christ - John MacArthur

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Valley of Vision

From The Valley of Vision
Arthur Bennett

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Blessed be the Lord!

"Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!"

- Psalm 72:18-19

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Meditations with Sibbes

I have started reading some of the Puritan authors. I have read the Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes and The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel so far. I have also been doing some other reading online. There are so many "nuggets" to reflect upon in these writings! I think that from every now and then I need to list some here so I can come back from time to time and reflect upon them again. Here are a few to start:

"Physicians, though they put their patients to much pain, will not destroy nature, but raise it up by degrees. Surgeons will lance and cut, but not dismember. A mother who has a sick and self willed child will not therefore cast it away. And shall there be more mercy in the stream than in the spring? Shall we think there is more mercy in ourselves than in God, who plants the affection of mercy in us?

"But for further declaration of Christ's mercy to all bruised reeds, consider the comfortable relationships he has taken upon himself of husband, shepherd and brother, which he will discharge to the utmost. Shall others by his grace fulfill what he calls them unto, and not he who, out of his love, has taken upon him these relationships, so thoroughly founded upon his Father's assignment, and his own voluntary undertaking? Consider the names he has borrowed from the mildest creatures, such as lamb and hen, to show his tender care. Consider his very name Jesus, a Saviour, given him by God himself. Consider his office answerable to his name, which is that he should `bind up the broken hearted' (Isa. 61:1). At his baptism the Holy Ghost rested on him in the shape of a dove, to show that he should be a dove like, gentle Mediator. Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed

"Sibbes . . .wrote, 'We commonly grieve the Spirit of God when the mind is troubled with a multitude of busyness; when the soul is like a mill where one cannot hear another; the noise is such as takes away all intercourse.' That is to say, when we fill our lives with things other than spiritual concerns, we bring grief to the blessed Spirit. Activity is not synonymous with spirituality, as popular Christian culture would have us believe. Rather, we are called to humble dependence and meditation upon the Spirit. As Sibbes said, 'This grieves the Holy Spirit also when men take the office of the Spirit from him,' that is, when we will do things in our own strength and by our own light. We all too willingly, go about our Christian tasks in our own strength, never realizing that in doing so, we become our own end, and with a theft of God's honor our activities become meaningless." Commentary on Sibbes' Writings by Rev. Joel R. Beeke (

"The Holy Spirit being in us, after he that prepared us for a house for himself to dwell in and to take up his rest and delight in, he doth also become unto us a counselor in all our doubts, a comforter in all our distresses, a solicitor to all duty, a guide in the whole course of life, until we dwell with him forever in heaven, unto which his dwelling here in us doth tend." Richard Sibbes, Volume 4

"We should judge of things as to whether they help or hinder our main purpose; whether they further or hinder our judgment; whether they make us more or less spiritual, and so bring us nearer to the fountain of goodness, God himself; whether they will bring us peace or sorrow at the last; whether they commend us more or less to God, and whether they are the thing in which we shall approve ourselves to him most. We should also judge of things now as we shall do hereafter when the soul shall be best able to judge, as when we are under any public calamity, or at the hour of death, when the soul gathers itself from all other things to itself. We should look back to former experience and see what is most agreeable to it, and what was best in our worst times. If grace is or was best then, it is best now. We should also labour to judge of things as he does who must judge us, and as holy men judge, who are led by the Spirit. More particularly, we should judge according to what those judge that have no interest in any benefit that may come by the thing which is in question; for outward things blind the eyes even of the wise. We see that papists are most corrupt in those things where their honor, ease, or profit is engaged; but in the doctrine of the Trinity, which does not touch on these things, they are sound. But it is not sufficient that judgment is right. It must also be ready and strong. " We should judge of things as to whether they help or hinder our main purpose; whether they further or hinder our judgment; whether they make us more or less spiritual, and so bring us nearer to the fountain of goodness, God himself; whether they will bring us peace or sorrow at the last; whether they commend us more or less to God, and whether they are the thing in which we shall approve ourselves to him most. We should also judge of things now as we shall do hereafter when the soul shall be best able to judge, as when we are under any public calamity, or at the hour of death, when the soul gathers itself from all other things to itself. We should look back to former experience and see what is most agreeable to it, and what was best in our worst times. If grace is or was best then, it is best now. We should also labour to judge of things as he does who must judge us, and as holy men judge, who are led by the Spirit. More particularly, we should judge according to what those judge that have no interest in any benefit that may come by the thing which is in question; for outward things blind the eyes even of the wise. We see that papists are most corrupt in those things where their honor, ease, or profit is engaged; but in the doctrine of the Trinity, which does not touch on these things, they are sound. But it is not sufficient that judgment is right. It must also be ready and strong. Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed

The victory lies not with us, but with Christ, who has taken on him both to conquer for us and to conquer in us. The victory lies neither in our own strength to get it, nor in our enemies' strength to defeat it. If it lay with us, we might justly fear. But Christ will maintain his own government in us and take our part against our corruptions. They are his enemies as well as ours. Let us therefore be `strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might' (Eph. 6:10). Let us not look so much at who our enemies are as at who our judge and captain is, nor at what they threaten, but at what he promises. We have more for us than against us. What coward would not fight when he is sure of victory? None is here overcome but he that will not fight. Therefore, when any base fainting seizes on us, let us lay the blame where it ought to be laid. Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed

Here is a link where all of Sibbes writings can be downloaded for free:

Monday, March 3, 2008

American Memory

This is from the Library of Congress. Note to me: this link will be useful when we study US Government

American Memory/A Century of Lawmaking For a New Nation: US Congressional Documents and Debates

A great collection of source documents. . .

"I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."

This is another one worth remembering and is so timely. . .

Morning Devotional for March 3 from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening

"I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."
- Isaiah 48:10

Comfort thyself, tried believer, with this thought: God saith, "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." Does not the word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yea, is it not an asbestos armour, against which the heat hath no power?

Let affliction come-God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayst stride in at my door, but God is in the house already, and he has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayst intrude, but I have a balsam ready-God has chosen me. Whatever befalls me in this vale of tears, I know that he has "chosen" me.

If, believer, thou requirest still greater comfort, remember that you have the Son of Man with you in the furnace. In that silent chamber of yours, there sitteth by your side One whom thou hast not seen, but whom thou lovest; and ofttimes when thou knowest it not, he makes all thy bed in thy affliction, and smooths thy pillow for thee.

Thou art in poverty; but in that lovely house of thine the Lord of life and glory is a frequent visitor. He loves to come into these desolate places, that he may visit thee. Thy friend sticks closely to thee. Thou canst not see him, but thou mayst feel the pressure of his hands. Dost thou not hear his voice? Even in the valley of the shadow of death he says, "Fear not, I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God." Remember that noble speech of Caesar: "Fear not, thou carriest Caesar and all his fortune."

Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, his presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom he has chosen for his own. "Fear not, for I am with thee," is his sure word of promise to his chosen ones in the "furnace of affliction. "

Wilt thou not, then, take fast hold of Christ, and say- "Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead, I'll follow where he goes."