Archive for January, 2016

How do you find hope in your grief?

“In times of death, Christians should be sadder than anyone else. We know how sin brought death into the world. We mourn not only for the loved one we have lost, but also for the fact that death continues to destroy…
Yet we should also be the most hopeful of any who mourn. Even in the darkest moments, we are never alone. The death and resurrection of Christ stand as a sure and reliable promise that someday death will die.
God doesn’t call you to stifle your grief or put on a happy face when you are crushed. He doesn’t expect you to hide behind religious clichés and theological platitudes. God approves of your tears! But he welcomes you to look at death through the eyes of Christ. The comfort and hope he provides does not remove your grief, but they allow you to grieve in a brand-new way. And he promises one day to take you to a place where you will never cry again (Revelation 21:1-4).”
-Paul Tripp

How should we view the onset of old age?

“The common assumption is that it (old age) is mainly a process of loss, whereby strength is drained from both mind and body and the capacity to look forward and move forward in life’s various departments is reduced to nothing. . . .

But here the Bible breaks in, highlighting the further thought that spiritual ripeness is worth far more than material wealth in any form, and that spiritual ripeness should continue to increase as one gets older.

The Bible’s view is that aging, under God and by grace, will bring wisdom, that is, an enlarged capacity for discerning, choosing, and encouraging. In Proverbs 1-7 an evidently elderly father teaches realistic moral and spiritual wisdom to his adult but immature son. In Psalm 71 an elderly preacher who has given the best years of his life to teaching the truth about God in the face of much opposition prays as follows:

You, O LORD, are my hope,
my trust, O LORD, from my youth. . . .
Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
forsake me not when my strength is spent. . . .
But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come. (Ps. 71:5, 9, 14-18)

And Psalm 92:12 and 14 declare:
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. . . .
They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green.

This biblical expectation and, indeed, promise of ripeness growing and service of others continuing as we age with God is the substance of the last-lap image of our closing years, in which we finish our course. Runners in a distance race, like jockeys in a horse race, always try to keep something in reserve for a final sprint. And my contention is going to be that, so far as our bodily health allows, we should aim to be found running the last lap of the race of our Christian life, as we would say, flat out. The final sprint, so I urge, should be a sprint indeed.”

-J.I. Packer

Finishing Our Course with Joy: Guidance from God for Engaging with Our Aging (Crossway, 2014) as quoted by Justin Taylor on the Gospel Coalition.

The devil’s favorite word is…

“He was going to be all that a mortal should be
Tomorrow.
No one should be kinder or braver than he
Tomorrow.
A friend who was troubled and weary he knew,
Who’d be glad of a lift and who needed it, too;
On him he would call and see what he could do
Tomorrow.
Each morning he stacked up the letters he’d write
Tomorrow.
And thought of the folks he would fill with delight
Tomorrow.
It was too bad, indeed, he was busy today,
And hadn’t a minute to stop on his way;
More time he would have to give others, he’d say
Tomorrow.
The greatest of workers this man would have been
Tomorrow.
The world would have known him, had he ever seen
Tomorrow.
But the fact is he died and he faded from view,
And all that he left here when living was through
Was a mountain of things he intended to do
Tomorrow.” (“Tomorrow” by Edgar Guest)
Tomorrow is the devil’s favorite word. Behold, today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

When we preach the gospel…

“When we preach the gospel (of the good news of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus), we preach the promise of a new life, new mind, new hope, new purpose, new union with Christ, new company of the Holy Spirit, new pardon of sin, new affinity for repentance and closeness with God, new love of the law, new ability to obey, new understanding of why God demands chastity outside of marriage and fidelity inside of marriage, new patience with people who do not yet know Jesus, new perspectives on suffering and affliction, addiction and change, new hatred of our own sin and patience with the sin of others, new responsibilities, new heartaches, new friendships, a new family from within the body of Christ, new allegiances, new dangers, and new grace.”

-Rosaria Butterfield, “Openness Unhindered,” pg. 103-104.

A prayer for the new year…

“O God of the highest heaven,
occupy the throne of my heart,
take full possession and reign supreme,
lay low every rebel lust,
let no vile passion resist thy holy war;
manifest thy mighty power,
and make me thine forever.
Thou art worthy to be
praised with my every breath,
loved with my every faculty of soul,
served with my every act of life.
Thou hast loved me, espoused me, received me,
purchased, washed, favored, clothed,
adorned me,
when I was a worthless, vile soiled, polluted.
I was dead in iniquities,
having no eyes to see thee,
no ears to hear thee,
no taste to relish thy joys,
no intelligence to know thee;
But thy Spirit has quickened me,
has brought me into a new world as a
new creature,
has given me spiritual perception,
has opened to me thy Word as light, guide, solace, joy.
Thy presence is to me a treasure of unending peace;
No provocation can part me from thy sympathy,
for thou hast drawn me with cords of love,
and dost forgive me daily, hourly.
O help me then to walk worthy of thy love,
of my hopes, and my vocation.
Keep me, for I cannot keep myself;
Protect me that no evil befall me;
Let me lay aside every sin admired of many;
Help me to walk by thy side, lean on thy arm,
hold converse with thee,
That I may be salt of the earth
and a blessing to all.”
-The Valley of Vision