Here are some headlines that caught my eye this past month:
Thomas Brooks, Works Vol. I, 108:
The loss of comfort is a separable adjunct from grace. The soul may be full of holy affections when it is empty of divine consolations. There may be, and often is, true grace, yea, much grace, where there is not a drop of comfort, nor dram of joy. Comfort is not of the being, but of the well-being, of a Christian. God hath not so linked these two choice lovers together, but that they may be put asunder. That wisdom that is from above will never work a man to reason thus: “I have no comfort, therefore I have no grace; I have lost that joy that once I had, therefore my condition is not good, was never good,” etc. But it will enable a man to reason thus: “Though my comfort is gone, yet the God of my comfort abides; though my joy is lost, yet the seeds of grace remain.” The best men’s joys are as glass, bright and brittle, and evermore in danger of breaking.
Prediction #2: Only religious groups will accept a distinction between “sexual conduct” and “sexual orientation,” and those groups will almost certainly lose the legal effort to maintain that distinction.
Prediction #3: Fewer and fewer people will value religious freedom.”
Tom Gilson shows that Jesus could not have been a mere legend [You will have to read the whole article to get the full fleshed-out argument and not the snippets included here]:
“Of course, anyone can just invent a character who is both supremely powerful and supremely self-sacrificial; I can do it in two sentences… [But] The challenge is not simply to invent a character and impute to him massive power and towering goodness, but to…make him believable.
Shakespeare never created such a character. Homer didn’t either. Dostoevsky never dreamed of such a person. In fact, none of the great poets and writers of any age created a figure who would satisfy question three… But it seems safe to say that, if anyone ever did create such a character and make him believable, that author would have to be counted among the greats, if not as the greatest moral and literary genius of all time.
…And if that is true, and if the character of Christ were created and not rather recorded in the Gospels, then those who created it were those very geniuses… Jesus Christ is the one character we can name who is both supremely powerful and supremely self-sacrificial.
…If there is truth in Lord Acton’s dictum that absolute power corrupts absolutely, then Jesus, the one possessor of absolute power in all literature, is also the one person who has turned the dictum absolutely upside down.
…the man portrayed in the Gospels as the eternal Savior of the whole world must necessarily be a towering figure, as much among literary characters as among historical figures. Jesus Christ is that extraordinary.
…Could such a man really have lived among us, or is he more likely the stuff of legend?
…What these theories add up to is that the surpassingly good and powerful character of Jesus Christ was produced by a community that was no community, expressing the cognitive deficiency called faith through the heavily distorting process of the “telephone game,” for the morally dubious purpose of dragging others along into their false belief. Beyond all this (according to some theorists, at least), it was also the product of cognitive meltdown on the same order as believing that waiting overnight in a parked car could bring about the salvation of all mankind.
This, or something like it, is supposed to be the description of the authorial source of the one character in all human literature who was perfectly other-centered in spite of holding absolute power: a character expressing moral excellence like no other in all history.
It lacks, if I may say so, the ring of plausibility.”
“Be sure to maintain a secret trade with God. Many men come to be very rich in the world, by a secret trade. Though some do not have as many avenues as others, yet they have found a secret trade, and by that they gain very great estates, as many of you here know by experience. Take it friends as an experienced truth, there is no other way under heaven to be rich in spiritual things, as by having a secret trade heavenwards. It is true, it is good for men to attend upon this, and that, and the other public things, but such as delight to be more upon the public stage, than in the closet, will never be rich in spiritual matters. They may grow rich in ideas, but they will never grow rich in gracious experiences. O God loves to see a poor Christian shut his closet door, and then to open his heart and pour out his soul before him. God has very choice gifts for souls that look for a secret trade. And I never knew any man or woman in my life, who was richer in grace, than those who were much in closet communion with God.
Much of a Christian’s spiritual strength lies in secret prayer. Nothing frightens Satan and weakens sin, like this. Secret prayers are the pillars of smoke in which the soul ascends to God out of the wilderness of this world. Secret prayer is Jacob’s ladder, where you have God descending down into the soul, and the soul sweetly ascending up to God. There is no way to be rich in spiritual things like this. Therefore be sure to maintain and keep up a secret trade between God and your own souls. O, let God hear often of you in secret. O, in the secret walks, the soul meets with the king of glory. O, there the soul hangs upon Christ, there the soul sucks and draws virtue from Christ, and there the soul is made rich with the riches of Christ. Christ is much delighted and taken with secret prayer. Secret meals are very fattening, and secret duties are very soul-enriching. Christians, set more closely to this work, and if you do not thrive by it, trust me no more. And thus you see by what means you may grow rich in grace.”
~ Thomas Brooks, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ
Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/f25/secret-trade-83229/, Comment #1
Dr. Paul McHugh, University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, “Surgical Sex: Why We Stopped Doing Sex Change Operations,” 2004:
“I have witnessed a great deal of damage from sex-reassignment. The children transformed from their male constitution into female roles suffered prolonged distress and misery as they sensed their natural attitudes. Their parents usually lived with guilt over their decisions—second-guessing themselves and somewhat ashamed of the fabrication, both surgical and social, they had imposed on their sons. As for the adults who came to us claiming to have discovered their “true” sexual identity and to have heard about sex-change operations, we psychiatrists have been distracted from studying the causes and natures of their mental misdirections by preparing them for surgery and for a life in the other sex. We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.”
“The Lord, who is the Almighty, by his power, made my soul to close with the Lord Jesus, wholly on the terms that the gospel holdeth forth; and the Lord himself gave me faith to believe in Jesus Christ, that he was my Savior, which I could never attain before that time on good grounds. On that blessed morning to me, I got the Rock of ages to be my support, and I got Christ Jesus to be to me the end of the law for righteousness, to comfort me inwardly, under my disconsolate condition outwardly; for it was but fifteen days after the death of my Lady Duffus, who was in place of my parents and all my relations to me. Now I cannot pass by without observing the wisdom and goodness of God to me, in choosing that day and time for my deliverance out of the hands of all mine enemies, that I might serve him without fear. It was the time wherein I was more desolate. I was deprived of my parents by death, and had not the expectation of other means to supply my wants. It was then I was deprived of the only person in the world who took care of me, when it pleased the wise Lord by death to put a separation betwixt my Lady Duffus and me, who died April 16, 1677. Then it was that the gracious God, who delights in showing mercy, did enlarge my heart and make me to take hold of him who is the pearl of great price, in whom all fullness dwells.”
~ Lilias Dunbar, diary entry, May 1, 1677
“It is strange how little use we make of the spiritual blessings which God gives us, but it is stranger still how little use we make of God Himself. Though He is “our own God,” we apply ourselves but little to Him, and ask but little of Him. How seldom do we ask counsel at the hands of the Lord! How often do we go about our business, without seeking His guidance! In our troubles how constantly do we strive to bear our burdens ourselves, instead of casting them upon the Lord, that He may sustain us! This is not because we may not, for the Lord seems to say, “I am thine, soul, come and make use of me as thou wilt; thou mayst freely come to my store, and the oftener the more welcome.” It is our own fault if we make not free with the riches of our God. Then, since thou hast such a friend, and He invites thee, draw from Him daily. Never want whilst thou hast a God to go to; never fear or faint whilst thou hast God to help thee; go to thy treasure and take whatever thou needest—there is all that thou canst want. Learn the divine skill of making God all things to thee. He can supply thee with all, or, better still, He can be to thee instead of all. Let me urge thee, then, to make use of thy God. Make use of Him in prayer. Go to Him often, because He is thy God. O, wilt thou fail to use so great a privilege? Fly to Him, tell Him all thy wants. Use Him constantly by faith at all times. If some dark providence has beclouded thee, use thy God as a “sun;” if some strong enemy has beset thee, find in Jehovah a “shield,” for He is a sun and shield to His people. If thou hast lost thy way in the mazes of life, use Him as a “guide,” for He will direct thee. Whatever thou art, and wherever thou art, remember God is just what thou wantest, and just where thou wantest, and that He can do all thou wantest.”
Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/f36/god-even-our-own-god-psalm-67-6-a-83081/, Comment #1
Introduction. In his article, “The Israelites Were Not Exclusive Psalmists (Nor Are We),” appearing in The Aquila Report and in the OPC’s Ordained Servant Online, Professor T. David Gordon weighs in against exclusive Psalmody. “I myself not only do not believe in exclusive psalmody, I believe it was an extremely late development in Christianity, and that not even the Old Testament saints were exclusive psalmists. What follows is an abbreviated discussion of the five grounds on which I conclude that even the Israelites were not exclusive psalmists.”
Having been asked by a former student to respond to Dr. Gordon and encouraged to do so by one of my seminary colleagues, I offer the following answers to the five grounds of Professor Gordon’s argument. Much more detailed argumentation can be found in my recent textbook, Public Worship 101: An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Worship, the Elements of Worship, Exclusive Psalmody, and A Cappella Psalmody.
“Countless strangers in grocery stores have seen me with my three little ones and impertinently asked me how many children I was planning on having… Tell you what, how about next week I will bring my husband here and all three of us will discuss our family planning and come up with a number you find suitable… But honestly, the only answer for the impertinent question of how many children I am going to have is: all of them.”
Read the whole quote and more: http://sylcell.com/2014/05/31/to-the-lady-ashamed-of-being-pregnant-with-her-fourth/
A quote on rock music to ponder as I continue developing a theology of music:
“To encourage children into Rock Music is to place them into the white hot arms of Molech and the beat and power behind the music will drown out the cries of your child as occultic powers consume him and drag him into the fires of hell!”
~ Ray Comfort, The Pit of Hell!: Unbelievable Satanic Deception Flooding the Earth! (1983)
“Questions about Arminius’ doctrine arose as early as 1590… By 1596, after studying Romans chapter 9, he concluded that… God has willed to accept those who seek acceptance with Him by faith. This was a clever move. He appeared to be defending justification by faith all the while redefining the doctrine of election and the definition of faith… Confessional pastors and theologians in the Netherlands and elsewhere began to sound the alarm. Dialogues were conducted and Arminius said the right things… Despite swirling doubts, the regents of the University of Leiden appointed Arminius to professor of theology. Almost immediately, Arminius was controversial. He was reported to teach that God elects those whom he foreknows would believe. He also raised questions about the Reformed doctrine of the covenant of works. In public, however, Arminius went out of his way to agree with his orthodox colleagues.”
Read the complete quote and more: http://heidelblog.net/2014/04/the-canons-of-dordt/
Thomas Boston, Works, 2:360:
Live by faith; that is the best preservative against discontent. Faith stays the soul in all events on the promises; gives a favourable view of all crosses and afflictions, as tending to the good of the party; lays hold upon things unseen as the great portion; and so lessens the care about things of the world; and, in a word, finds all it wants in God.
Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/f25/faith-finds-all-wants-god-83063/, Comment #1 (Thank You, Reverend Winzer!)
From Handle’s Haus:
It is a list of prominent (mostly) leftist/progressive intimidation incidents, or profiles in preemptive cowardice in anticipation thereof, or firings because of ludicrous and exaggerated PC claims of ‘offensiveness’ (usually concerning mere jokes) that I wish had been deterred or handled differently. Also taboo-witch-hunts (is there a good word for a person who is a ‘taboo-truth-witch’ that is better than ‘heretic’, ‘apostate’, or ‘blasphemer’?)”