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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Friday, October 28, 2011

He is Able

We've been singing "I Know Whom I Have Believed" for the month of October during our "Morning Time," and each time we sing it, the rich meaning sinks deeper into my soul. I hope you can take about four minutes to listen to the hymn, but if not, at least meditate for a few moments on the words (scroll down for lyrics) and declare them true for yourself. In a time when unknowns swirl around us constantly, it is good to remember what we do know with certainty.

2 Timothy 1:12
...nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
(KJV)



I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

Refrain

But I know Whom I have believ├Ęd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.


I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

Refrain

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing us of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.

Refrain

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.

Refrain

I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

Refrain

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Slaying Sin and Parenting

"The mortification of sin consists not in the improvement of a quiet, sedate nature. Some men have an advantage by their natural constitution so far as that they are not exposed to such violence of unruly passions and tumultuous affections as many others are. Let now these men cultivate and improve their natural frame and temper by discipline, consideration, and prudence, and they may seem to themselves and others very mortified men, when perhaps, their hearts are a standing sink of all abominations. Some man is never so much troubled all his life, perhaps, with anger and passion, nor doth trouble others as another is almost every day; and yet the latter hath done more to the mortification of the sin that the former. Let not such persons try their mortification by such things as their natural temper gives no life or vigour to. Let them bring themselves to self-denial, unbelief, envy, or some such spiritual sin, and they will have a better view of themselves."*

This marvelous quote from John Owen's Mortification of Sin describes what God has taught me through parenting five very different people. One child's natural constitution, or temperament, leads to very obvious, very unruly and passionate sin. All who know us see it and see the struggle. It takes a lot of my energy. And yet, it is important to remember that the children I parent who do not have this natural constitution toward unruly and passionate sin, have lurking sins in their own natural temper that are easier to deny but just as damaging to their spiritual condition. Worse, when people not given to anger and passion compare themselves to those who are, pride takes hold.

*Chapter V: "The Principal Intendment of the Whole Discourse Proposed."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkins


Several weeks ago we happily harvested some pumpkins from Walter's Pumpkin Patch. Last Sunday we had a blast carving the pumpkins with friends at a pumpkin-carving party.


Today I roasted the seeds, which we buttered and salted and ate in their hulls.

Slay sin? Really?

If the idea of completely slaying sin in your life seems out of reach this side of eternity, you're right. But John Owen makes it clear that this must nevertheless be our aim and desire.
"To mortify a sin is not utterly to kill, root it out, and destroy it, that it should have no more hold at all nor residence in our hearts. It is true this is that which is aimed at; but this is not in this life to be accomplished.
There is no man that truly sets himself to mortify any sin, but he aims at, intends, desires its utter destruction, that it should leave neither root nor fruit in the heart or life."*
Have I succeeded in mortifying a sin if I am able to disguise my sin, dissimulate it, and not allow it to affect others? Think again.
"I think I need not say it is not the dissimulation of a sin. When a man on some outward respects forsakes the practice of any sin, men perhaps may look on him as a changed man. God knows that to his former iniquity he hath added cursed hypocrisy,"*
This morning I prayed Ephesians 5:8-15 for myself and for my loved ones:
for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

"Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you."

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
*From John Owen's The Mortification of Sin, chapter V, "The Principal Intendment of the Whole Discourse Proposed."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Harvest

When some farming friends invited us to watch them harvest soy beans, we jumped at the opportunity. It was a first for all of us, and the C. family didn't just let us watch them cut the beans, they let the us take turns riding in the combine, and playing in the grain truck. (The sun was glaring in their eyes in the picture above, so it was hard for them to look at the camera.)


For suburbanites like us, this was a HUGE experience. My kids could scarcely believe that they actually got to climb up in the trailer with the grain!


Here's a shot of Toby and me squeezed into the buddy seat of the combine cab. All the Edwards kids agreed in the car on the drive home that Mr. C is "very nice." Toby was so excited in his first combine ride (he actually got to go twice), that he could barely speak.


You can see by Toby's concentrating expression (below), that he is absolutely thrilled to be sitting in the driver's seat of a big rig.


Mrs. C helped me hoist Lydia up into the grain truck (don't worry! I was there with her!) and she had an amazing time playing in the beans.




Thank you so much, Brandon and Gavin, for sharing your family's fun with us for an afternoon!


Vicariam navare operam

Further meditations on slaying sin...
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
1 Peter 2:1-3

After having tasted that the LORD is good, after having believed in Christ, and after having been regenerated by the Spirit, one turns to slaying sin--putting away all malice. This can be a very confusing endeavor, for Scripture teaches us that all our efforts to mortify sin in our own strength fail. This doesn't keep us from trying desperately to tame sin with what John Owen calls "outside endeavours."

Outside endeavors abound as Christians and non-believers try to tame the tiger within. Extra-biblical religious laws and disciplines. Monasticism. Behavior modification techniques. Even biblical disciplines are called upon to control our sinful impulses, but tried without the Spirit of God. Owen says,
Because those things that are appointed of God as means are not used by them in their due place and order,--such as are praying, fasting, watching, meditation, and the like....Whereas they effect and accomplish the end as means only, subordinate to the Spirit and faith, they look on them to do it by virtue of the work wrought.*
With Christ as my Savior, I see that all human efforts to mortify sin are a failure, even those efforts that are, in Owen's words, "appointed by God." Worse, the means that God gives us to mortify sin and seek after him are wrongly made into the end, the objective.

But it is the Spirit which mortifies sin in those who have tasted that the LORD is good.
All communications of supplies and relief, in the beginnings, increasings, actings of any grace whatever, from him, are by the Spirit, by whom he alone works in and upon believers. . . How doth he do it? Having "received the promise of the Holy Ghost," he sends him abroad for that end, the Spirit, as Tertullian speaks, "Vicariam navare operam," to do the works that he had to accomplish in us.*
Sin will never be conquered outside the work of the Holy Spirit. Owen explains:
And, indeed, I might here bewail the endless, foolish labour of poor souls, who, being convinced of sin, and not able to stand against the power of their convictions, do set themselves, by innumerable perplexing ways and duties, to keep down sin, but, being strangers to the Spirit of God, all in vain. They combat without victory, have war without peace, and are in slavery all their days. They spend their strength for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which profiteth not. 
This is the saddest warfare that any poor creature can be engaged in.*
There is hope for this sad situation.
Isaiah 26:12
O LORD, you will ordain peace for us,
for you have indeed done for us all our works.

Philippians 2:13
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

2 Thessalonians 1:11
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,

Romans 8:26
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

When I say, "But it is the Spirit which mortifies sin in those who have tasted that the LORD is good," I have in mind those who have salvation by believing in Jesus Christ. This is to taste the goodness of the LORD. Having done that, in God's mercy, I am regenerated by the Holy Spirit and transformed.

Titus 3:3-8a
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.

*All quotes from John Owen's The Mortification of Sin are taken from chapter III, "The Spirit The Only Author Of This Work."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Slaying Sin

Having finished Tozer's Man-The Dwelling Place of God, I'm now reading John Owen's The Mortification of Sin. 

Three hundred and fifty-some years ago, John Owen (1616-1683) was bemoaning the fact that many Christians claimed to have faith in Christ, but showed no signs of slaying the sin within their hearts.
It is our duty to be "perfecting holiness in the fear of God," (2 Cor. 7:1); to be "growing in grace" every day, (1 Pet. 2:3, 2 Pet. 3:18); to be "renewing our inward man day by day," (2 Cor. 4:16). Now, this cannot be done without the daily mortifying of sin. Sin sets its strength against every act of holiness, and against every degree we grow to. Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts. He who doth not kill sin in his way takes no steps towards his journey's end. He who finds not opposition from it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it.
However, there are many professing believers in Christ (Owen calls them "professors") who are not battling and despising the sin within them, but instead are indifferent to it ("unmortified professors"). We should regard our own sin with bitterness in our heart, and if we do not, we are in a state of rebellion. We must not tolerate, or countenance, sin in our lives. Owen puts it this way:
The root of an unmortified course is the digestion of sin without bitterness in the heart. When a man hath confirmed his imagination to such an apprehension of grace and mercy as to be able, without bitterness, to swallow and digest daily sins, that man is at the very brink of turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Owen goes on to say,
To use the blood of Christ, which is given to cleanse us (1 John 1:7, Titus 2:14); the exaltation of Christ, which is to give us repentance (Acts 5:31); the doctrine of grace, which teaches us to deny all ungodliness (Titus 2:11-12) to countenance sin, is a rebellion that in the issue will break the bones.
Rather than sliding your eyes over all those Scripture references, take a minute to meditate upon them:

2 Corinthians 7:1
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

1 Peter 2:1-3
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

2 Peter 3:18
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Corinthians 4:16
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Titus 2:13-14
waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Acts 5:31
God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Titus 2:11-12
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturday Afternoon Folding and Football and Ranting

Actually, this isn't about folding or football. But as I was folding laundry and watching football, I saw the umpteenth Toyota Prius ad touting their plug-in Prius and it reminded me of the crazy deception of electric cars. Just the other day I read this in the Wall Street Journal:
Here's a reality check: During the same decade that Mr. Gore and the IPCC dominated the environmental debate, global carbon-dioxide emissions rose by 28.5%.

Those increases reflect soaring demand for electricity, up by 36%, which in turn fostered a 47% increase in coal consumption. (Natural-gas use increased by 29% while oil use grew by 13%.) Carbon-dioxide emissions are growing because people around the world understand the essentiality of electricity to modernity. And for many countries, the cheapest way to produce electrons is by burning coal.
In fact, most of the uptick in global emissions was from other nations. In fact, thanks to the changing landscape of American energy production in natural gas, American emissions fell by 1.7% in the same period.

Which leads me to another rant about energy. My clothes dryer, in one hour, uses nearly twice the electricity of my central air conditioner. But guess what? My neighborhood bans hanging laundry outdoors.

And one more thing. What does it mean that scientists "created" blastocysts from human eggs inserted with the nucleus of an adult skin cell? These non-viable blastocysts (that would be a human embryo too deformed and abnormal to grow) have three sets of chromosomes. I didn't notice the Times mentioning the ethical problems of this, but at least the Wall Street Journal did.
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