Check out this book on Goodreads: Poetry: ESV Reader’s Bible Volume III https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33615932-poetry
Check out this book on Goodreads: The Bruised Reed https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/770495.The_Bruised_Reed
‘It’s a lie. A wicked, cruel lie. How could anyone love their son more than I did? Haven’t I lived only for his memory all these years?’‘That was rather a mistake, Pam. In your heart of hearts you know it was.’‘What was a mistake?’‘All that ten years’ ritual of grief. Keeping his room exactly as he’d left it; keeping anniversaries; refusing to leave that house though Dick and Muriel were both wretched there.’‘Of course they didn’t care. I know that. I soon learned to expect no real sympathy from them.’‘You’re wrong. No man ever felt his son’s death more than Dick. Not many girls loved their brothers better than Muriel. It wasn’t against Michael they revolted: it was against you—against having their whole life dominated by the tyranny of the past: and not really even Michael’s past, but your past.’‘You are heartless. Everyone is heartless. The past was all I had.’‘It was all you chose to have. It was the wrong way to deal with a sorrow. It was Egyptian—like embalming a dead body.’‘Oh, of course. I’m wrong. Everything I say or do is wrong, according to you.’‘But of course!’ said the Spirit, shining with love and mirth so that my eyes were dazzled. ‘That’s what we all find when we reach this country. We’ve all been wrong! That’s the great joke. There’s no need to go on pretending one was right! After that we begin living.’
I got pointed to a “Read Calvin’s Institutes in a Year” schedule about 3 months ago and it is proving itself very refreshing. Here’s a great quote I ran across this morning:
For each man’s mind is like a labyrinth, so that it is no wonder that individual nations were drawn aside into various falsehoods; and not only this–but individual men, almost, had their own gods. For as rashness and superficiality are joined to ignorance and darkness, scarcely a single person has ever been found who did not fashion for himself an idol or specter in place of God.
I don’t know how he does it. His seemingly casual analogies and metaphors just cause a page to explode, driving home the import of whatever he’s talking about.
To shrink back from all that can be called Nature into negative spirituality is as if we ran away from horses instead of learning to ride. There is in our present pilgrim condition plenty of room (more room than most of us like) for abstinence and renunciation and mortifying our natural desires. But behind all asceticism the thought should be, ‘Who will trust us with the true wealth if we cannot be trusted even with the wealth that perishes?’ Who will trust me with a spiritual body if I cannot control even an earthly body? These small and perishable bodies we now have were given to us as ponies are given to schoolboys. We must learn to manage: not that we may some day be free of horses altogether but that some day we may ride bare-back, confident and rejoicing, those greater mounts, those winged, shining and world- shaking horses which perhaps even now expect us with impatience, pawing and snorting in the King’s stables. Not that the gallop would be of any value unless it were a gallop with the King; but how else— since He has retained His own charger—should we accompany Him?” – from Miracles
Yesterday, I had the privilege of baptizing another covenant child, and as I have done on many occasion, gave the child’s father an opportunity to pray for his son after the waters of baptism and the Triune name were applied. The prayer that I post below is the prayer that father prayed (with names removed). Even now his prayer for his son moves me to tears.
Father, I thank you for the opportunity to witness, firsthand, your kingdom moving forward. For we believe, in faith, that you have marked [our son] as one of your people, a part of your Church. I know we have yet to see the faith in his life, but we are trusting in you to take his heart of stone and give him a heart of flesh. I pray that his faith would not be one born out of crisis, but that his trust in you for salvation would be like the air that he breathes… that long before he can express it, your saving grace would work in his life. We look forward to the day he can put into words the great work you have done in him.
Father, I thank you that children are truly one of life’s greatest blessings, not life-accessories for selfish adults, not burdens to be endured by exhausted parents, but blessings in the purest sense. For they are blessings that can, in turn, be a blessing to a dark and dying world. So, to that end, I pray for [our son’s] physical health, that you would keep sickness and injury from him so that he may care for the sick and the dying. I pray for his strength, that you would make his body continue to grow strong so that he may be a defender of the weak and the abused. I pray that you would continue to fill his life with those who love and care for him, so that he may be an advocate for the unloved and the forgotten.
Lord, your word tells us that to whom much is given, much is required, and, as parents, we have been so richly blessed. So, I ask that you enable us to be the mother and father that your word calls us to be – that we would not neglect to teach our children your word, to discipline them according to your law, and to love them as you have loved us. Also, as I have just asked you to bless [our son] with great blessings, so I trust that you will use him in mighty way to advance your kingdom – that everywhere he goes the darkness would run and hide for fear of your bright light that shines through him.
We are trusting in you to do all these things. I pray them all in Jesus’ name. Amen.
One of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to clear while on sabbatical is finding motivation and discipline for my personal prayer life. That might seem like a shock to some. “What?! You’re a pastor. You guys are supposed to pray as easy as breathing.” But I assure you that the same sinfully resistant heart resides in my chest as it does in everyone else’s. Prayer is a battle and one that I have found is hard to jump start outside the context of my regular pastoral duties. Well, this morning I picked up my copy of Valley of Vision to give me words to pray since I seemed to have none. And what a blessing it proved to be. If you are unfamiliar with this book, it is a collection of Puritan prayers that have been edited and organized for easier reading. I have produced one below (lightly edited) that was particularly helpful to me this morning, simply titled “Resurrection”:
O God of my Exodus,
Great was the joy of Israel’s sons,
when Egypt died upon the shore,
Far greater the joy
when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed
in the dust.
Jesus strides forth as the victor,
conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death,
tramples the powers of darkness down,
and lives for ever.
He, my gracious surety,
apprehended for payment of my debt,
comes forth from the prison house of the grave free,
and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.
Show me herein the proof that his vicarious offering is accepted,
that the claims of justice are satisfied,
that the devil’s sceptre is shivered,
that his wrongful throne is levelled.
Give me the assurance that in Christ I died,
in him I rose,
in his life I live, in his victory I triumph,
in his ascension I shall be glorified.
you who were lifted up upon a cross
are ascended to highest heaven.
You, who as Man of sorrows
was crowned with thorns,
are now as Lord of life wreathed in glory.
Once, no shame more deep than yours,
no agony more bitter,
no death more cruel.
Now, no exaltation more high,
no life more glorious,
no advocate more effective.
You are in the triumph car leading captive
your enemies behind you.
What more could be done than you have done!
Your death is my life,
your resurrection my peace,
your ascension my hope,
your prayers my comfort.