Meet the Author?

Jerry Bridges

...in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:16 ESV

At the library, I noticed a poster advertising a meeting with the author of a series of books well familiar to me. In fact I had just checked out the latest in the series, feeling quite pleased with myself to have jumped the queue. Now, I wonder what I would say to the author if I met him. Could I look him in the eye and tell him, ‘Well, it was OK but really not one of your best. I found myself skipping ahead, frustrated with some characters, and some of the action; frustrated with you.’ This second of three brief posts on the theme of frustration comes from Jerry Bridges.

Jerry Bridges wrote: “…frustration usually involves being upset or even angry at whatever or whoever is blocking our plans. I might have an important document to print from my computer, but the printer will only produce gobbledygook. Instead of believing that God is sovereignly in control over the actions of my computer and that He has a good reason for allowing it to act up, I get frustrated. Actually, this type of reaction has its roots in my ungodliness at the moment, for at that time I am living as though God is not involved in my life or in my circumstances. I fail to recognize the invisible hand of God behind whatever is triggering my frustration. In the heat of the moment, I tend not to think about God at all. Instead, I focus entirely on the immediate cause of my frustration.

“The passage of Scripture that has greatly helped me deal with frustration is Psalm 139:16, which says, ‘All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be’ (NIV). ‘Days ordained for me’ refers not only to the length of my life but to all the events and circumstances of each day of my life.”

From Jerry Bridges in Respectable Sins.

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What I really need…

Praying With Paul

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:7-11 ESV

I realize now that the childish lists I used to make each Christmas never contained anything I needed, and that, of all the things I wanted back then, few, if any, survive today. Blessed with caring parents, I barely needed even to ask for anything I really needed (love, of course, and care; food, clothes, and shelter). But I was quite sure that I could ask, if I felt a need, and trust them to answer with my best interests at heart (that’s why I never received the air rifle I asked for so often). This first of three brief posts on the theme of What We Really Need comes from Dr. D. A. Carson.

Dr. Carson wrote: “If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, he would have sent us an economist. If he had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, he would have sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would have sent us a politician. If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, he would have sent us a doctor. But he perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from him, our profound rebellion, our death, and he sent us a Savior.”

From Dr. D. A. Carson in ‘Praying With Paul’.

Cruel to be kind?

Problem
“The real trouble” (says C. S. Lewis) “is that ‘kindness’ is a quality fatally easy to attribute to ourselves on quite inadequate grounds. Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment. Thus a man easily comes to console himself for all his other vices by a conviction that ‘his heart’s in the right place’ … though in fact he has never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature.” This
second of three brief posts on the theme of Love and pain also comes from C. S. Lewis…

C. S. Lewis wrote: “There is kindness in Love: but Love and kindness are not coterminous, and when kindness [in the sense given above] is separated from the other elements of Love, it involves a certain fundamental indifference to its object, and even something like contempt of it. Kindness consents very readily to the removal of its object – we have all met people whose kindness to animals is constantly leading them to kill animals lest they should suffer.

Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering. As Scripture points out, it is bastards who are spoiled: the legitimate sons, who are to carry on the family tradition, are punished [Hebrews 12:8].

“It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes.

If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.”

From C. S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain

Love hurts?

Problem
‘Love hurts’ sang the Everly Brothers in 1960, a sentiment taken up by others (Roy Orbison, Nazareth (named for the town in Pennsylvania USA), Jim Capaldi and Cher to name a few). ‘Love is just a lie, made to make you blue’, they sang, ‘I know it isn’t true, no it isn’t true’. Well, that’s not true, though it may sometimes feel like it. It’s certainly not true that the Love of God is a lie; though we find that even with Him, Love is never without pain. This first of three brief posts on the theme of Love and pain comes from C. S. Lewis…

C. S. Lewis wrote: By the goodness of God we mean nowadays almost exclusively His lovingness; and in this we may be right. And by Love, in this context, most of us mean kindness the desire to see others than the self happy; not happy in this way or in that, but just happy.

“What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, ‘What does it matter so long as they are contented?’ We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven – a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves’, and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all’.

“Not many people, I admit, would formulate a theology in precisely those terms: but a conception not very different lurks at the back of many minds. I do not claim to be an exception: I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don’t, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.”

From C. S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain

I fear…I feel…?

Spurgeon

My times are in your hand…
Psalm 31:15

David, in deep trouble, prayed, ‘My times are in your hand’. But he confessed that was not his first response. ‘I had said in my alarm, ‘I am cut off from your sight.’ (Psalm 31:22 ESV). Most of us come to faith by way of fear. This final brief post on the theme of our times also comes from Charles Spurgeon…

Charles Spurgeon preached…. ‘If the case is in His hand, what need can there be for you to be prying and crying? You were worrying this morning, and fretting last night and you are distressed now, and will be worse tomorrow morning. May I ask you a question? Did you ever get any good by fretting? When there was not rain enough for your farm, did you ever fret a shower down? When there was too much wet, or you thought so, did you ever worry the clouds away? Tell me, did you ever make a sixpence by worrying? It is a very unprofitable business.

‘Do you answer, “What, then, are we to do in troublous times?”

‘Why, go to Him into whose hand you have committed yourself and your times. Consult with infinite wisdom by prayer; console yourself with infinite love by fellowship with God. Tell the Lord what you feel, and what you fear. Ten minutes’ praying is better than a year’s murmuring.’

From a sermon delivered by Charles Spurgeon on Sunday morning May 17th, 1891 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

The best of times?

 

SpurgeonMy times are in your hand… Psalm 31:15

Jesus, at his death, prayed, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (31:5). The Psalms were a comfort to Him in the worst of times. Charles Spurgeon experienced times of persecution for preaching the gospel, and times of painful illness, and depression. The day he preached on Psalm 31:15 he said, “I have not been able to preach on this text as I hoped to do, for I am full of pain, and have a heavy headache, but, thank God, I have no heartache, with such a glorious truth before me. Sweet to my soul are these words— “My times are in Your hand.” This first of three brief posts on the theme of our times comes from C.H. Spurgeon…

Charles Spurgeon preached…. To be entirely at the disposal of God is life and liberty for us.   The great truth is this – all that concerns the believer is in the hands of the Almighty God.

“My times,” these change and shift, but they change only in accordance with unchanging love, and they shift only according to the purpose of One with whom is no variableness nor shadow of a turning.

“My times,” that is to say, my ups and my downs, my health and my sickness, my poverty and my wealth – all those are in the hand of the Lord, who arranges and appoints according to His holy will the length of my days, and the darkness of my nights.

“Storms and calms vary the seasons at the divine appointment. Whether times are reviving or depressing remains with Him who is Lord both of time and of eternity, and we are glad it is so.” 

From a sermon delivered by Charles Spurgeon on Sunday morning May 17th, 1891 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

Remember God?

Knowing God cover

J.I.Packer wrote in Knowing God – “Look at Isaiah 40 … God speaks to people whose mood is the mood of many Christians today – despondent…despairing… people against whom the tide of events has been running for a very long time…”. The only solution to these moods (because they rise when we forget God) is a renewed vision of God, particularly of His Greatness. This second of three brief posts on the theme of the Majesty of God also comes from J.I. Packer…

J.I.Packer writes… 2. “‘Why do you say, O Jacob and speak, O Israel, My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God?’’ (Isaiah 40:27 ESV). This (second) question rebukes wrong thoughts about ourselves. God has not abandoned us any more than he abandoned Job. He never abandons anyone on whom he has set his love; nor does Christ, the good shepherd, ever lose track of his sheep. It is as false as it is irreverent to accuse God of forgetting, or overlooking, or losing interest in, the state and needs of his own people. If you have been resigning yourself to the thought that God has left you high and dry, seek grace to be ashamed of yourself. Such unbelieving pessimism deeply dishonours our great God and Saviour.”

From J.I.Packer in Knowing God.