Thoughtful Thursday

I’m changing things up and nixing my Quotes of the Week on Friday for posts on Thursday that I’m calling Thoughtful Thursday.

The photo above is a portion of the road we travel to get to town, to our kids’ home, to church. We enjoy the landscape along the way. What you can’t see or smell is the aftermath of someone hitting a skunk. As our dear daughter-in-law’s Granny says, you travel skunk alley to get to town! She is right. In the short time we’ve lived here and traveled this road we’ve seen and smelled over 10 skunks that were not smart enough to stay off the road. Just keeping things real. One more thing about skunks, their fragrance lingers long after they are gone.

This morning we woke up to 4 degrees F. Brrr. So thankful for a furnace that warms up the inside of our home.

In the morning I’ve tried to start a regiment of reading before I turn on my computer while I drink my cup of coffee. I’m reading the Bible, a daily dose of Spurgeon and a devotional I pull off our bookshelf. The devotional with 140 meditations that I’m reading at present is Taste and See by John Piper. In today’s reading he quotes some of his beloved English professor’s resolutions from a talk in 1976. Piper says of Dr. Kilby that he had a pastoral heart and a poet’s eye. He pled with us to stop seeking mental health in the mirror of self-analysis, but instead drink in the remedies of God in nature. He was not naïve. He knew of sin. He knew of the necessity of redemption in Christ. But he would have said that Christ purchased new eyes for us as well as new hearts.

Here are a few of his resolutions I’ll share here. Awakening Amazement at the Strange Glory of Ordinary Things

  1. At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me.
  2. I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event, filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence, but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.
  3. I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.

Staring at this tree…

Looking steadily at the sky.

Psalm 19:1-6

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Hoping your Thursday is filled with moments of awe and gratefulness.

Quotes of the Week 14

I’ve subscribed to a daily email of Puritan readings from Grace Gems recommended by Dianna at Forgiven. This was one of the readings this week that will be my Quotes of the Week…

From a devotional by John MacDuff, Day 22.

(J.C. Ryle, “Heirs of God” 1878)

“As many as are led by the Spirit of God–they are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14

All true Christians are under the leading and teaching of a power which is Almighty, though unseen–even the power of the Holy Spirit. They no longer turn to their own way, and walk in the light of their own eyes, and follow their own natural heart’s desire. The Spirit leads them. The Spirit guides them. There is a movement in their hearts, lives, and affections, which they feel–though they may not be able to explain; and a movement which is always more or less in the same direction.

They are all led . . .
away from sin,
away from self-righteousness,
away from the world!

This is the road by which the Spirit leads God’s children.
Those whom God adopts as His children–He teaches and trains.
He shows them their own hearts.
He makes them weary of their own ways.

They are all led to Christ.
They are all led to the Bible.
They are all led to prayer.
They are all led to holiness.
This is the beaten path along which the Spirit makes them to travel.
Those whom God adopts–He always sanctifies.
He makes sin very bitter to them.
He makes holiness very sweet.

When they are taken into the wilderness, and taught to see their own emptiness–it is the leading of the Spirit.

It is He who leads them to Mount Sinai, and first shows them the law–that their hearts may be broken.

It is He who leads them to Mount Calvary, and shows them the cross–that their hearts may be bound up and healed.

It is He who leads them to Mount Pisgah, and gives them distinct views of the promised land–that their hearts may be cheered.

Each and all of God’s children is the subject of these leadings.
Each and all is led by the right way, to bring him to a city of habitation.

Settle this down in your heart, and do not let it go: the children of God are a people “led by the Spirit of God,” and always led more or less in the same way. Their experience will tally wonderfully when they compare notes in Heaven.

“I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.” Proverbs 4:11

“In your unfailing love You will lead the people You have redeemed.
In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling.” Exodus 15:13

Quotes of the Week 13

Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Excerpts From the Prayers of Kierkegaard

To Will One Thing

“Father in Heaven! What are we without You! What is all that we know, vast accumulation though it be, but a chipped fragment if we do not know You! What is all our striving, could it ever encompass a world, but a half-finished work if we do not know You: You the One, who is one thing and who is all!

So may you give to the intellect, wisdom to comprehend that one thing; to the heart, sincerity to receive this understanding; to the will, purity that wills only one thing. In prosperity may You grant perseverance to will one thing: amid distractions, collectedness to will one thing; in suffering, patience to will one thing.

You that gives both the beginning and the completion, may You early, at the dawn of day, give to the young the resolution to will one thing. As the day wanes, may You give to the old a renewed remembrance of their first resolution, that the first may be like the last, the last like the first, in possession of a life that has willed only one thing.”

From: Devotional Classics, Edited by Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith

Quotes of the Week 12

From Manners and Customs of Bible Times
Fred H. Wight

Ability to separate the Sheep;

When it becomes necessary to separate several flocks of sheep, one shepherd after another will stand up and call out: Tahhoo! Tahhoo! or a similar call of his own choosing. The sheep lift up their heads, and after a general scramble, begin following each one his own shepherd. They are thoroughly familiar with their own shepherd’s tone of voice. Strangers have often used the same call but their attempts to get the sheep to follow them always fail. The words of Jesus are indeed true to Eastern Shepherd life when he said: “The sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:4,5)

I want to be a lamb that only follows my shepherd (Jesus) and knows His true voice amongst all the noise of false voices.

Quotes of the Week 11

Real Christianity (A Paraphrase in Modern English of A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed  Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes in This Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity. Published in 1797. by William Wilberforce, Esq. Member of Parliament for the County of York – Revised and Updated by Dr. Bob Beltz (Regal From Gospel Light, Ventura, Ca., USA)

In 1797 long descriptive titles for books were in vogue. I’m amazed how up to date the issues of Wilberforce’s day are. I’m posting the following from the book. I’m finding it’s one of those books where I want to share every other paragraph! The following is from the first chapter titled, The State of Contemporary Christianity (Cultural Christianity, What the Bible Says, the Problem of Ignorance)

“Understanding Christianity is not something that comes without effort. Almost every example in the natural world teaches us this principle. The very way we must exert effort to enjoy all the good things God has provided illustrates this lesson. No one expects to reach the heights of success in education, the arts, finance or athletics without a great deal of hard work and perseverance. We often use the expression “You have to really want it!” Growing in our faith requires the same. Christianity is based on a revelation from God that is filled with information that the natural mind could never have imagined. The wealth of this knowledge will never be mastered without diligent effort.

Carefully studying the Bible will reveal to us our own ignorance of these things. It will challenge us to reject a superficial understanding of Christianity and impress on us that it is imperative not to simply be religious or moral, but also to master the Bible intellectually, integrate its principles into our lives morally, and put into action what we have learned practically.

The Bible is one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity. It tells us of the greatest gift that men and women have longed for through-out the ages and of which the prophets spoke about for centuries. When Jesus finally came, His arrival was hailed by the angelic host with the exclamation, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14). How can you measure the value of the good news of Christ? It is spoken of in the Bible as light in the darkness, freedom from slavery and life from death. Look at how much the Early Church valued the message. They received it with great joy and overflowing gratitude.

Surely all these things should help us come to terms with the inexpressible value of true faith. The greatest gift of God is often either rejected outright or treated as if it is of little worth. But if we really began to study the Bible, we would be impressed with the proper value of the gift.”

Quotes of the Week 10

A prayer of George Whitefield:

“Yeah that we shall see the great Head of the Church once more . . . raise up unto Himself certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ. And what manner of men will they be? Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace. They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake’, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labor and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat. They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.”

Since we are just a few days away from 2019 I’m posting these questions that Georg Whitefield used to evaluate himself. Who is George Whitefield?

George Whitefield was probably the most famous religious figure of the eighteenth century. Newspapers called him the “marvel of the age.” Whitefield was a preacher capable of commanding thousands on two continents through the sheer power of his oratory. In his lifetime, he preached at least 18,000 times to perhaps 10 million hearers. You can read more about him here.

George Whitefield’s Diary:
Questions used to evaluate himself every day (assigning a rating from 1 to 9)
Have I –

1. Been fervent [had warmth of feeling] in private prayer?
2. Used stated hours of prayer [morning, noon, and evening]?
3. Used [spontaneous prayer to God] every hour?
4. After or before every deliberate conversation or action, considered how it might tend to God’s glory?
5. After any pleasure, immediately given thanks [to God]?
6. Planned business for the day?
7. Been simple [avoided luxury and ostentation] and recollected [stayed aware of God’s presence] in everything?
8. Been zealous in undertaking and active in doing what good I could?
9. Been [humble], cheerful, affable in everything I said or did?
10. Been proud, vain, unchaste or enviable of others [in my thoughts]?
11. Recollected in eating and drinking? Thankful? Temperate [disciplined] in sleep?
12. Taken time for giving thanks according to [William] Law’s rules?
13. Been diligent in studies?
14. Thought or spoken unkindly of anyone?
15. Confessed all sins?

HT: Timothy Keller

Quotes of the Week 9

“A child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where he was homeless
Are you and I at home:
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost—how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.” –G.K. Chesterton, “The House of Christmas,”

No priest, no theologian stood at the manger of Bethlehem. And yet all Christian theology has its origin in the wonder of all wonders: that God became human. Holy theology arises from knees bent before the mystery of the divine child in the stable. ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

John Piper: “You never, never, never outgrow your need for this gospel. You don’t begin the Christian life with this and then leave it behind. God strengthens us with the gospel till the day we die.”