Friday, February 27, 2009

It's All in Girard, man.

It's true. You ought to try it out.

Proverbs 27:4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

The answer, of course, is that no one is able to stand before envy. This is the chief sin of the brotherhood since there were brothers. Ever since Cain killed Abel, brothers have envied one another producing all sorts of sordid sins. This was true with Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Moses and Aaron, Abimelech and his brothers, and many others, down to Jesus and his brothers,, the brothers James and John and their brothers, the other apostles.

Only in Jesus Christ, who was killed for envy, can envy be killed. And the rest of the epistles are about this very thing, love one another. Do not bite, devour and kill.

Girard helps us understand this in "I See Satan Fall Like Lightning." That is the first and only Girard that I have read. I am told that this is one of his more accessible books. You know what that means, right? It means that people like me can understand it. I did, sort of. But I am gearing up to do a bit more of Girard, cause its all in there, man!

Money Wisdom from Proverbs 27

Prov. 27:23-27 Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. 24For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? 25The hay appeareth, and the tender grass showeth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. 26The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. 27And thou shalt have goats’ milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

We have made much of ‘be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks.’ A man needs to know what is going on with his finances. I think you could argue for a detailed budget from this verse. But what is the outcome of knowing what is going on? Does the Lord promise riches, wealth and abundance? Not necessarily. Verse 24 tells us that riches are not forever. That is why we should look well to our flocks. So, what is the promise? Food for the flocks and herbs from the mountains, clothing from the lambs, food from the sale of the goats, goats milk enough for the entire family, food for everybody, all your sons and daughters.

God’s promise here is that if you pay attention to what is going in your household, if you work hard and know what is coming in and what is going out, then He will provide all your needs for you.

Remember that the counter of these truths is also true. If you do not know the state of your flocks, if you do not know what is coming in and what is going out, then the promise of provision is not there for you. You may not have food enough and clothing enough for your household. So, look to your flocks. Know your credits and debits; for riches are not forever. But the Lord’s provision for the faithful is forever.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blessed are the Hungry-Peter Leithart****

Peter has great incites into the Lord's Supper. His final essay, The Way Things Really Ought to Be, is simply outstanding. As elsewhere, he emphasizes doing vs. thinking. The glories of the Eucharist are in what God is doing in us as we do the meal. There is glory in the fact that the meal is a meal, that we do it with bread and with wine. He does not emphasize what happens to the bread and the wine or what happens to us as we eat holy bread and wine but more aptly what God is doing with us, His people, as we eat bread and wine. For more, and the really good stuff, you'll have to read the book.


Just in case anyone noticed, I am not rating the New Testament. Any other book I read, I will offer my opinion on how good it is, ranking it from * to ****. However, no human has any right to rank the Scriptures, so they shall go unjudged by me.

Incidentally, sneakily getting in something here I never noticed in the Bible. Rev. 1:20, The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.

I've always liked the idea that stars are angels. It seems that I am free to like the fact.

Money Wisdom from Proverbs

Proverbs 26: 13-14 The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets. 14As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.

More excuses from the sluggard. This answer is similar to the man who says it is too cold to plow in the Spring. That man will go begging at harvest. This is similar but not the same. This man says, “A lion!” It has all the plausibility of real danger. There may indeed be a lion in the streets but this man does not actually know if there is one or not. Why not? Because he is on his bed trying to get comfortable for a few more hours of sleep.

My old pastor, Doug Wilson, was fond of saying that whenever you get to work, you’ve got work problems. If you pastor a church, you’ve got church problems. If you are doing math, you’ve got math problems. Whenever work is embraced, you have problems. Saying that there are problems associated with your work is just another creative (not very) way of saying, “I don’t want to work.”

This sort of thing is commonly used as an excuse. But it ought not to be received as an excuse, either from your workmates or your children. You don’t want to hear about problems, you want to hear solutions.

The slothful man says, “There is a lion in the streets.” But the diligent man says, “We’ve got to get to the worksite. Somebody bring your gun to kill that lion.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Case for Covenant Communion- Gregg Strawbridge- Editor

If you are a PCA elder or minister, (or other Presby denom. that won't give bread to the children), then I highly discourage you from reading this book. It will result in a great deal of misery for you. You will most likely be convinced of both the historical and biblical positions of paedocommunion. Thus, you will be hard pressed to continue in your current ecclesiastical role. Either you will remain in your anti-paedo church with very little hap, or you will be forced to undergo an historic migration. It seems to me that either condition is highly unfavorable to your ongoing future hap. So, best remain ignorant and happy. Really, I am being honest. Don't read this book. You'll really regret it. Unfortunate chains of events are usually started by seemingly innocuous beginnings. Don't order this book.

As regards the book itself. I find it to be a very high quality defense of the historic and biblical practice of paedocommunion. All the articles are well-done and they run the gammut from accessible to scholarly. Robert Rayburn's appendix is on covenant succession and as such, is more directly aimed as a defense of paedobaptism. However, the article is so masterfully crafted, it serves as a thorough defense of both paedobaptism and paedocommunion. It is simply outstanding and ought to be read regularly be every Presbyterian minister.

Kudos to Dr. Strawbridge for putting together such a fine book. I suggest you offer free books to every non-paedocommunion elder or pastor who is willing to read the entire book and write a critical review of it. I'm serious about that, too. Perhaps you could find a donor who would be willing to financially back such a challenge?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wiser Blood

Okay, I am up to three stars for Wise Blood. I know I shall get to four, because it IS a four star book. I have read some on what is going on in the book and have spent some more time thinking about it. I can't say that I am in any hurry to read it again but know that I will do so in the future and also know immediately that it is a three star book. I will only have to work up one more star to get that inner peace in my soul. Then I'll be able to leave it alone.

As I have thought about the book, I realize that Hazel Motes declared himself clean, knowing that he was dirty. Becasue he cannot shake the world that God has made, particularly the redemption purchased by Christ, he eventually is shaken to the ground of his rebellion and agrees with God that he is unclean. His automobile, his cruddy rat-colored automobile is ruined, the engine bouncing out. He did not have the engine to run from God. His self-propelled attempt to rid himself of the reality of Christ, failed. His car failed because he, Hazel Motes, failed.

Enoch Emery, on the other hand, was dirty and knew it. But he still judged others who were dirty because he did not have the ability to consider his own condition. He was really nothing more than a beast, living moment to moment. In the end of the book, he does become a beast and is therefore finally free to be dirty.

Or so I see it. And this is why O'Connor is so great. You think about what she is doing. Her books won't leave you alone.

I'm still not giving her four stars for Wise Blood, at least not today. I suppose it is inevitable and I shall. But not today.

The Prince- Machiavelli

I gave this book three stars. Actually, it is a well-written classic with a good deal of helpful insights. He is giving counsel to a Prince on how he should govern his affairs to gain and secure a kingdom. The advice is mostly good. Mostly, because at times Machiavelli encourages poor or even evil behavior. Although writing as a believer, it seems, he does not give strict Christian advice. His advice is particularly prudent and pragmatic. For the most part, this works as pragmatism and prudence generally fall in line with a Biblical form. However, when the 'right' way and the pragmatic way are in conflict with one another, Machiavelli encourages the Prince to govern in the way that best fits the advancement of his kingdom, even if it means doing things otherwise considered evil.

Thus, while I commend the reading of this book and adherence to many of its precepts, I cannot give it my tacit approval. Three stars is all it will muster.

There is good advice in this book, not only for princes but for all who are in leadership and positions of authority. However, there is also danger in contemplating the Machiavellian advice. One ought to rule well and ruling well means knowing what is going on around you. However, one ought not to rule too cunningly. The danger in thinking like Machiavelli is that you may find yourself leading with a sharp eye, protecting your turf, and making alliances, improperly. All of these can and should be done, if done according to Biblical principles. A leader ought to build bridges, he ought to look out for trouble ahead, he needs to consolidate powers. The danger is when he jettisons set Biblical principles in order to do so. Machiavelli encourages this. I cannot.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rising Stars

Okay, got myself slightly more educated about Wise Blood. I'm certain it's a four but I can only see two at this point but that's up double and not a bad start. Not wise yet but not quite as stupid neither.

Stupid Blood

Just read Wise Blood by Flannery O'connor. On my book list, I give it one star out of four. However, I know that I only gave it one star because I don't understand it. There is a lot going on in the book, of that I'm sure. I was waiting to be able to 'get it' all the way through. I never did but I really don't think it was a lack in the book. I need someone to tell me what was going on so that I can raise my rating to its proper level. One reason I need someone to help me is that I think her other short stories are simply outstanding. I can 'get' them, sort of. But Wise Blood was beyond my generally capable typological abilities.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Money Wisdom from Proverbs

Prov. 20:4 The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.

A sluggard will have nothing in the times of plenty, in the times of harvest. How much more so in times of dearth? In plenteous times, he will beg and have nothing. In times of dearth, He will get nothing for his work of begging and likely loose everything that he does have. Furthermore, there will be no pity on him in his times of calamity. Those who worked hard at seed time will remind him that he did not work hard in the day of work. A worker is worthy of his wages. If man shall not work, neither shall he eat.

There are a host of excuses to keep from work. It is too cold, too rainy, too hot. I’m not ready yet. I need more education. I don’t have the right tools. No one will help me. The boss doesn’t like me. It won’t turn out anyway. I’m tired. I’ve got better things to do right now.

All of this adds up to unfulfilled wants, and even needs, like food, when others are reaping the fruit of their labors.

We must think about this. We live in a world where 41 hours of work is overworked, where leisure time is the goal of work, where a great deal of return for little effort has been the norm. But the times, they are a changin’ and only those who will work hard now will reap later.

So, is it cold? Better get out there and get to work so you can warm up!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Homeschool Music-Right Priorities

Players: Mom (44), Dad (43), Anna (14), Calvin (7) and various other chllins who are unimportant to this particular interchange.

Setting-Around the dinner table.

Anna: humming some catchy popular song.

Calvin: Anna, you're more public shool than homeschool.

Anna: Huh?

Mom: Calvin, that's not very nice. That's not true. Say you're....

Calvin: Well, it's true.

Dad: What do you mean, Calvin?

Calvin: Well, she is.

Dad: Why do you think she's more public school than homeschool?

Calvin: Cause she listens to pop.

Dad: Oh, I see, you think public school kids are the ones who listen to pop?

Calvin: Well, they are. And Anna listens to pop so she's public school.

Dad: Well, what do homeschool kids listen to?

Calvin: Rock!

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

3John 1The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

Okay, here's one for you. I've decided that I have to do at least 25 push-ups every time I finish a book of the Bible. That's not so bad, right? We don't really finish them that often and 25 push-ups is a fairly small requirement. However, we do a weird thing with some books of the Bible. They aren't really books. Sixty-six books? How about those little tiny letters at the end? Books?

So, I've just been reading James, 1,2Peter, 1,2,3John, Jude. Start counting. Ya, right, 175 push-ups! I'm looking forward to some longer books.

Oh, I almost forgot, things I never noticed. John to Gaius, "May you prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers." I always read that 'spiritual health' but that's not what it says. He wants him to be in good physical health just as he is in good spiritual health. I guess all those push-ups made me aware of physical health.

It is good to send a physical blessing along with your spiritual blessing.

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

2John 1The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

I suppose that I noticed this before, but I never did 'notice' this before, if you get my drift. This letter is written to the elect lady, AND HER CHILDREN. We don't know how old they are so we cannot make this another paedobaptist passage. Oh.....yes, we can! We Prebyterians can make almost anything a paedobaptist passage. Really, we can, it is required for our seminary exams.

The Apostle John, like Jesus, cares about the children. It is not so much whether we can prove that there are infants in the home but the fact that the Apostle is talking to a household. It is even more than that, really. It is not just a household he is talking to, as if a household, was a thing, or a somebody. He is talking to a lady AND to her children. He loves them both. He loves them all. I never noticed it before and I thought it was worth paying attention to.

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

This one is really bad. I mean, from the perspective that I never noticed it before but we ARE trying to be honest. I suppose we reformed types are always dealing with the 'faith and works' aspect of this passage instead of the faithful works aspect.

James 2:14-17 14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

The thing I never noticed is verse 15, If a brother or sister, come to you. I had always read that, if a man come to you, or if someone comes to you. We do have an obligation to the broader world, I am not arguing against that. But this passage does not argue FOR it. We are talking about family members here, both immediate family and church family. I think the passage more specifically means those in your local church, your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are required to take care of them giving them food and clothing. But it does not place a universal requirement to take care of every one who needs food and clothing. This is especially important because the 'everyone' view, or the 'anyone' view means we have to take care of those who have no connection to us besides, perhaps, the connection of human. But we ARE given requirements for brothers and sisters, those we are covenantally connected to.

Money Wisdom from Proverbs

Given the continuing doleful news of our economy and the response to it from our elected leaders, it is good for us to listen to the voice of Scripture. We do not want to be like the millions with their hands out and their knees bowed to the golden calves of Washington. We want to bow our knees to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

My intent is to post periodic devotional thoughts on portions of the Proverbs related to money. We have much to learn, much to repent of, and much blessing to receive from such an endeavor.

Here’s the first installment.

Proverbs 19:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

This chapter sets the integrity of the poor against the deceitfulness of the lying wealthy oppressor. However, it is a very balanced chapter, encouraging hard work and reminding us that we reap what we so.

Verse 17 has much food for thought. We ought to have pity on the poor and lend to him. When we do so, we are lending to Yahweh, Himself. That seems an odd thing to say, as if Yahweh was a bit down on His luck and needed a helping hand. We should understand that God uses us to do His work. When we give to the poor, we give to Him. He holds our gift and keeps an account. He eventually pays us back with interest.

We tend to think of the Lord giving us interest by letting us into heaven when we die. That may be part of it but the Bible is more earthy than that. We should understand and expect that God will bless us in this life. I don’t want us to become namers and claimers, as if God has to respond to us in a particular fashion. At the same time, God wants us to understand the world that He has made. It does operate on certain basic godly principles. When we give in God’s name, God will repay us.

This leads to another issue. How can we give if we have nothing to give? The Proverb warns of laziness in verse 15, 15Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger. So, we should not be lazy. We have to work hard to get an increase. But what do we then do with that increase? In our current way of thinking, we spend it, ALL, on ourselves. This is disobedience because we have nothing left to lend to the poor. Thus, we cannot invest with God nor receive His dividends.

We must learn to live not, within, our means but below our means. We have to reduce our budget, so that we have something to give. Of course, the first and most obvious way to do this is to tithe. If you learn to live on 90% of your income, you are learning how to spend less than you make. And I would like to suggest that as a STARTING point. The fact of the matter is that the tithe is owed to God, so paying a tithe is not really living below your means. As our incomes go up, we should be thinking about living on 89% of our income, then 88% and so forth, so that we have more to give away. You must remember, God adds the increase and gives us a return on what we give to Him. So, giving to God is not throwing money away but rather investing it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

John 9: 3-5 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

At the beginning of this chapter, Jesus says that He is the light of the world. The rest of the chapter is about the blind man being healed by Jesus so that he can see. He says, "I was blind, now I see." This is the prooftext for Jesus being the light of the world. He brings light to the blind. Those whom Jesus touches, see. Those who will not see are not touched by Jesus.

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

John 6:70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

Of course, we all know that Jesus chose His own disciples but I never noticed how striking this verse is. Not only did Jesus choose those disciples that loved and served Him but He also chose the one that betrayed Him.

Furthermore, He here states that Judas is a devil. He doesn't mean that Judas is literally a devil. Judas is a man. But Judas is in the service of the devil. He is a disciple of Jesus because Jesus has chosen him, so he is serving Jesus, in a way. But his service to Jesus is deceitful. His real master is his own flesh and desires after the manner of his father, the devil. So, if Judas is a devil, then Jesus chose the devil.

Another thing that is bothersome about Judas and Jesus. Judas has one of the chief positions among the disciples. He is the treasurer, the keeper of the money box. Does it not seem odd that Jesus let him do this? Woudn't that have been a temptation to Judas to fall further into his own misery and sin? Clearly, the disciples did not suspect Judas's wickedness related to money but Jesus knew about it.

If anything, this means that Jesus had a different set of priorities than we do. Sure, we ought to be good stewards of our stuff and the Lord's stuff. But there are more important things going on than what is going into the money box. Judas didn't know that. Maybe that is why Jesus kept His first faithful disciples away from the money box?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Book Review- The Shack

Just finished The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. I was not overly excited to read this book but have had several family and friends read it and ask my opinion about it. So, I thought I better give it a go.

I don't want to be too overtly critical of the book as I am sure the Lord can and will use this book to encourage many people in Christ. The author does cover some important themes in dealing with God and relational issues that will cause some folks to move forward in their walk with Christ.

However, I do think that the reason this book strikes such a chord in our current Christian culture is because of the huge vacuum at the center of our Christian world. That vacuum is Father hunger. Young is trying to address that very issue. I just don't think he does it all that well.

As I read the book, I found that it did little or nothing to address any lack in my own life. And that is not because my life has been peaches and cream. It hasn't. I had a great degree of father hunger in my own life. The book does reveal a failure on the part of the Church to heal that father hunger. In my opinion, the broad sales of this book also reveal the Church's failure. Young even goes out of his way to say that God is not interested in institutions or rituals. He thinks that those sorts of things are hollow solutions to man's ills.

The problem is that the God of the Bible has indeed created institutions and established rituals in those institutions. Of course, these should not be empty institutions and empty rituals. The Church needs to mean something. Baptism and the Lord's Supper must do something.

My own life has been dramatically healed by God, the Father, Jesus, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It has been healed in the Church among God's people and through ritual, baptism and the Lord's Supper, weekly formal worship, and a rather 'ritualistic' family life. All of that ritual is of primary importance in holding together all of the relationships. But relationships without God-inspired ritual produces some of the emotional drivel that Young spouts. Okay, okay, I said I would not be too critical and now here I go. My concern is that the Church is so weak and feeble that a book like The Shack seems so powerful. Wouldn't it be much more lovely if our folks read the book and said, "Wow, I am so thankful that God has already done those good things in me." That is, in fact, my experience and I hope and pray that it would be the norm.

That said, the Church is weak and feeble in many places. There are many Christians on the edge of the Church and in Churches that do not teach well. For them, this book is going forward and I pray that God will use it to draw them closer to Him, to His Church, and even to meaningful ritual.

In the early part of the book, I was actually pleased that Young was teaching doctrine about the person of God. He begins to explain the Trinity and does an okay job of it. But much of the rest of the book is a philosophical and theological jumble. Instead of simply asserting God's exhaustive sovereignty and man's total responsibility, he plays that old card, (over and over and over) that God would never step on man's free choices. Given the nature of his book and the good that he is trying to do in it, I found this very distracting and trite. I would have much preferred him to give us an Ecclesiastes look at trouble in the world than an Armenian apologetic.

One other complaint and then I will try to be positive, I promise. I don't think he understands the actaul process of forgiveness properly and this point can actually do some damage to the Saints of God. He makes the Father out as someone who loves all his children (all men, the good the bad and ugly) equally. This simply is not the Biblical revelation. God does not love everybody the same and he manifestly does not love unrepentant evil doers. How does this do damage to the saints? Well, it appears in the book that Papa loves the murderer just as much as she loves Mack. And only Mack's forgiveness will free the murderer to be redeemed by Papa. And while I agree that every Christian must be willing to forgive anyone that God forgives, having Mack forgive the murderer in the abstract, when the murderer is not seeking forgiveness, is to go beyond the requirements of Scripture.

Perhaps that is niggling but I would not require my congregants to forgive in the abstract. I would ask them to pray for the man that God would bring about justice in judgment or mercy through grace. It is not sinful for us to ask God to judge His and our enemies. The Psalms are full of this sort of thing. After all, are not such men serving the powers of darkness? And God came to destroy the works of the evil one. He does that in two ways, not just one. One is presented in this book. He draws them to light, forgives their sin and heals their brokenness. But there is another way. Jesus also puts all His enemies beneath His feet. He squashes them. You may not like that but it's in the Bible, too.

One thing the book gets right. We have to leave this 'sorting out' to the Lord, trusting Him, and not let ourselves be eaten up with bitterness.

You protest, "But what about us? We were evil doers." Yes, that is true and God, in His grace and love, brought you to repentance and forgiveness. But God has very harsh words and actions for those who will not repent and believe. It is not for us to figure out how this all works. I beleive we are then dealing with the hidden things of God. But to deny it because it does not fit in our pre-conceived doctrines is the very thing Young is arguing against in this book.

Oh darn, I just finished this book and really wanted to say more positive things but the more I sit here and think about it, the more flummoxed I get in trying to do it a good turn. Jesus is a buddy in this book. That always bugs me. Friend, yes. Elder brother, yes. Pal? Come on. Think about his dealings with the Apostles, the closest chance men had of having a buddy in Jesus. He wasn't their buddy.

I suppose my issue (it is growing as I write) is that the character of God in the book is not as Biblical as it should be. He tries to explain some hard doctrinal issues of sovereignty and freedom but does not get the character of God right. It is like a miscast movie. Good story and all but would have been better had the actors fit the character better.

Okay, what is good about the book. Oh no. I'm thinking. Fractal. I liked that.

God does make good in the mess. The book tugs on the heart in the area of dealing with past hurts and helps one to see that those pains are ultimately aimed at God, especially if we have a sense that God is in control. That makes us deal with God as much as with those who have hurt us. I think that is good.

Would I recommend this book? No. But having said that, I think more people will benefit from this book than could be hurt by it. I think it would tend to draw them closer to God and people. And when that happens, they will necessarily be drawn into His Church and the Communion of the Saints.

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

1 Cor. 8:2-3 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. 3But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

This is much like that famous saying of Socrates, paraphrasing, "True wisdom is knowing how little you know." Or, "Wisdon is knowing that you don't know."

Paul says that a man who thinks he knows, doesn't. At least he does not yet know as he ought to know. To know as you ought to know is to know with humility. To know with humility means that you acknowledge your ignorance. This does not mean that you really cannot know things. You can. And, as a Christian, you must. God calls you to Wisdom but the Wisdom that He calls you to is a Wisdom of humility, not hubris.

Furthermore, there is something greater than knowing, even something greater than knowing God. The truly great thing is not to know, but rather, to be known by God. That ought to humble us a bit, too!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

Luke 9:34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.

I never noticed that the Peter, James and John entered into the cloud. They had reason to fear. They were surrounded by the Spirit of God. This seems to be nothing less than the Glory Cloud, Himself.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

Romans 5: 3-5 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

We tend to think that trying times make us hard, they steel us, like an athlete that works hard to discipline his body. I think there is some truth to that. God's discipline enables us to endure. He is building endurance in us by training us. But God is not making us hard. He is making us strong by making us soft. Here, patience produces experience and experince produces hope. A hopeful man is a soft man but one who has got there through the hardships of suffering.

Hardships make hard men harder and soft men softer. Experience produces hope because it took patience to wait upon the Lord. Having waited, experience sees what patience could not. And hope springs from knowing that God is faithful, just as He promised. This hopeful heart is a soft heart. It is like a piece of hard leather that is very strong but only useful when patiently oiled and coaxed into a supple state.

So, the thing I never noticed is that hard experience through patient suffering is the mother of hope.