I have long appreciated the poems of the 19th century American poet Hannah Flagg Gould. Among them I found this sweet work which reflects on the beauty of breaking free from “this prison of clay” to be with the Lord. I hope it proves an encouragement to you as it has me.
May I in thy likeness, my Saviour, awake,
And rise, a fair image of thee;
Then I shall be satisfied, when I can break
This prison of clay, and be free.
Can I but come forth to eternity’s light,
With thy perfect features to shine,
In raiment unsullied from time’s dreary night,
What honor and joy will be mine!
Yes, I shall be satisfied then to have cast
The shadows of nature all by—
When, darkness and dust from the dull eyelid past,
My soul sees with full-opened eye.
How fain would I know the great morn drawing near,
When earth’s dreamy visions shall fade,
If I in thy semblance indeed may appear,
And stand in thy beauty arrayed!
To see thee in glory, O Lord, as thou art,
From this mortal, perishing clay
My spirit immortal, in peace would depart,
And, joyous, mount up her bright way.
When on thine own image in me thou hast smiled,
In thy holy mansion, and when
Thy fatherly arms have encircled thy child,
O I shall be satisfied then!
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By Tim Challies — 9 months ago
The God of love and peace be with you today.
Westminster Books is doing some spring cleaning which means they have some really good deals for you.
There are a few more Kindle deals to consider today.
(Yesterday on the blog: Why Do Billionaires Want to Live Forever?)
What We Need is Power
Jared Wilson: “Should we go into God’s inerrant, infallible, inspired word looking only for things to do, we will come away with God’s good instructions for the good life but without the power to actually do them. The power to obey does not lie in the commandments. The power to get through the day does not come from the instructions on how to get through it. The power to glorify God is in the glorious gospel, which says not ‘Do’ but ‘Done!’”
Jesus, Friend of Sinners
“Some Christian circles assume that if a pastor or church is drawing in sinners, they must be compromising the message of the Bible. Maybe they’re seeker-sensitive, watering down the more offensive doctrines of Christianity. On the flip side, pastors who have a reputation for castigating sinners, faithfully exposing the sins of society, must be doing something right. But the truth is, neither approach captures the complexity of Christ’s gospel ministry.”
Why is it important to study the Christian creeds, confessions, and catechisms?
Steven Lawson, Derek Thomas, and W. Robert Godfrey all comment on creeds, confessions, and catechisms in this clip from a Ligonier conference. Also, good on Lawson for rattling off all the different headings of systematic theology.
You’re So Vain, You Probably Think This Post Is About You
This one may cause you to think and confess.
Is the Concept of a “Self-Authenticating” Bible a Modern Invention?
Michael Kruger discusses one important way we can know that certain books belong in the Bible. “Christian theologians—especially in the Reformed world—have long argued that there is a more foundational way we can know books are from God: the internal qualities of the books themselves.”
Keep It Simple
“What do you feel when someone asks you to disciple them? I imagine you’re excited because a hungry, likely younger Christian, wants to grow. I imagine there’s probably also stress because you don’t know where to begin. A wealth of good resources is at your fingertips, but that can make things more complicated. So where do you start?”
Flashback: Being the Answer to Prayer
If we pray that God will comfort those who have endured a great loss, we ourselves should be eager and willing to be used as the means of comfort, to be the ones God uses to weep with those who weep, to bear another’s burden and so fulfill the law of Christ. Pray and then act to see the prayer answered.
In many homes the sorrow over the living is greater far than that for the dead who have passed to sweet rest. —J.R. Miller
By Tim Challies — 8 months ago
I am in Grand Rapids today on day two of recording the audiobook for Seasons of Sorrow. So far it is going quite well, I think, and I hope to be finished by this evening.
(Yesterday on the blog: The Harder Our Earth, the Sweeter Our Heaven)
Pastoral Q & A: Are More Prayers More Effective?
This is a good question: Are prayers more effective when there are more of them?
In Praise of Single Women
“In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul makes a case for Christians remaining single and not marrying. This runs against the grain of not just our wider society but also of much evangelicalism, where finding a life partner is seen as the highest calling in life. However, after years in mission leadership, I can see exactly what Paul is getting at.”
Our Mission: Make More Disciples and Fewer Performers
Randy Alcorn is concerned that the church is better at making performers than making true disciples.
Faithful in Exile
This is an interesting one. “The stories of Daniel and Esther are helpful to us in working out how we should navigate the demands of authority. Daniel and Esther were both in exile (canonically these are two books separated by hundreds of pages in our bibles but chronologically they happen in the same period of history, during the exile), and we Christians are also living in a kind of exile…”
Prayer: Generation to Generation
Donna celebrates a generation to generation kind of prayer.
Do Baptists Come from the Anabaptist Movement? (Video)
So this is a good question: Do Baptists comes from the Anabaptist movement? Robert Godfrey answers briefly here.
Flashback: This Broken, Beautiful World
For us to appreciate the extent of God’s mercy, we must first acknowledge the depths of our own depravity. For us to follow Jesus, we must first bear a heavy cross.
God kills thy comforts from no other design but to kill thy corruptions; wants are ordained to kill wantonness, poverty is appointed to kill pride, reproaches are permitted to destroy ambition. —John Flavel
By Tim Challies — 1 year ago
A new year inevitably brings lots of exciting new book releases. Though that is true of 2022, the selection is a unfortunately a little smaller than would usually be the case due to all the supply chain and shipping issues we have been hearing so much about. Still, there are lots of excellent new books available. I have picked through the pile growing on and around my desk and narrowed it down to this selection of new and notables.
God, Technology, and the Christian Life by Tony Reinke. “What does God think about technology? From smartphones to self-driving cars to space travel, new technologies can inspire us. But the breakneck pace of change can also frighten us. So how do Christians walk by faith through the innovations of Silicon Valley? And how does God relate to our most powerful innovators? To build a biblical theology of technology, journalist and tech optimist Tony Reinke examines nine key texts from Scripture to show how the world’s discoveries are divinely orchestrated. Ultimately, what we believe about God determines how we respond to human invention. With the help of several theologians and inventors throughout history, Reinke dispels twelve common myths in the church and offers fourteen ethical convictions to help Christians live by faith in the age of big tech.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Romans (Reformed Expository Commentary by Daniel Doriani. It’s always a big deal when a commentary series releases their volume on Romans! “Drawing from the great doctrinal heritage of the Reformed faith, Daniel Doriani brings clarity and unique insight to the many practical lessons on Christian living and salvation found in the book of Romans. With verse-by-verse commentary, Doriani examines Paul’s message to the early church in Rome in detail, providing readers with historical, cultural, and biblical context for each chapter, along with structural analysis and theological lessons. This comprehensive commentary explores the core of Pauline theology, touching on themes of righteousness, church unity, justification, and the application of faith in our daily lives. As are all Reformed Expository Commentaries, this book is accessible to both pastors and lay readers. Each volume in the series gives careful attention to the biblical text, is doctrinally Reformed, focuses on Christ through the lens of redemptive history, and applies the Bible to our contemporary setting.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Psalms (Evangelical Biblical Theology Commentary) by James Hamilton. What’s true of Romans is true also of Psalms—it’s a particularly important commentary in any set. The EBTC has just added a two-volume Psalms commentary by James Hamilton. “The Psalms are a carefully arranged collage of history, prophecy, and praise. James M. Hamilton provides a fresh translation and canonical interpretation of the Psalms. Though commonly read in isolation, the Psalms are best read as a collage that tells a story of God’s faithfulness to his people through his king. Following the introductory Psalms 1–2, Hamilton observes the significance of the Psalter’s intentional macro-structuring and intricate links across neighboring psalms. Hamilton interprets with a literary sensitivity and an eye towards canonical connections. Learn where the Psalms belong in the redemptive story, how they relate to God’s people, and how they find their fulfillment in Jesus.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
We Go On: Finding Purpose in All of Life’s Sorrows and Joys by John Onwuchekwa. “Do you often ask the question ‘What is my purpose in life?’ Rich with black-and-white photography, powerful stories, and life-changing reflections from the book of Ecclesiastes, We Go On, by pastor and entrepreneur John Onwuchekwa calls you to find the true answer to the question: Why am I here? In a world that encourages us to find meaning in temporary things, we long to know that who we are makes a difference after we’re gone. This hope-filled exploration of this biblical book of wisdom turns our attention to what our true purpose is and how to let that purpose shape our relationships, career, and life choices. Along with biblical insights, John Onwuchekwa weaves together meaningful challenges that even from difficult beginnings, we can continue to trust God’s path. In this book, you’ll discover a more meaningful, fulfilling life as you explore themes such as: work, wealth, and power; sexuality, social relationships, and justice; religion and family. Inspiring black-and-white photography paired with a modern cover make this a perfect gift to give to men and women for holidays, graduations, birthdays, new jobs, or to anyone seeking a deeper relationship with God.” (Buy it at Amazon)
Demystifying Decision-Making: A Practical Guide by Aimee Joseph. “On an average day, people make countless decisions: Should I get out of bed or hit the snooze button? What should I have for breakfast? Where should we go for this year’s vacation? While some decisions are easy to make, others can leave individuals paralyzed and full of anxiety. As Christians living in an increasingly individualistic society, what’s the best strategy for making decisions that honor God while becoming more like him in the process? Writing from her own experience and pointing to biblical examples, Aimee Joseph offers a biblical and theological framework for decision-making. She explains God’s design for humans as decision-makers, the biblical model for making choices, common wrong approaches, practical tips, and what to do when you’ve made a poor decision. With the philosophy that “as we shape our decisions, our decisions shape us,” Joseph teaches readers how to worship and draw closer to Christ through their daily decisions.” (Buy it at Amazon)
Talking about Race: Gospel Hope for Hard Conversations by Isaac Adams. “Conversations about racism are as important as they are hard for American Christians. Yet the conversation often gets so ugly, even among the faithful who claim unity in Jesus. Why is that the case? Why does it matter? Can things get better, or are we permanently divided? In this honest and hopeful book, pastor Isaac Adams doesn’t just show you how to have the race conversation, he begins it for you. By offering a fictional, racially charged tragedy in order to understand varying perspectives and responses, he examines what is at stake if we ignore this conversation, and why there’s just as much at stake in how we have that discussion, especially across color lines–that is, with people of another ethnicity. This unique approach offers insight into how to listen to one another well and seek unity in Christ. Looking to God’s Word, Christians can find wisdom to speak gracefully and truthfully about racism for the glory of God, the good of their neighbors, and the building up of the church.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Mission Affirmed: Recovering the Missionary Motivation of Paul by Elliot Clark. What will it take to accomplish Christ’s mission in our lifetime? That’s the question evangelicals have been asking for over a century, but our efforts to reach the unreached and finish the task have often sacrificed the important for the immediate. The greatest challenge in evangelical missions isn’t a lack of urgency, but a lack of discernment. As we’ve prioritized movements that are simple and reproducible, the gospel and faithful churches are now threatened. Our mission itself could be disqualified. In Mission Affirmed, Elliot Clark seeks to reshape our motivation by considering the example of Paul the missionary. The desire for God’s approval is what formed his ambition and directed his methods, and it should guide ours too. In these pages, we rediscover how pursuing God’s praise can both motivate and regulate our gospel ministries. We also refocus—as missionaries, pastors, churches, and individuals—on what matters more than a mission accomplished: a mission God affirms.” (Buy it at Amazon)
Read This First: A Simple Guide to Getting the Most from the Bible by Gary Millar. “The Bible is the most extraordinary book you’ll ever read; it’s how God speaks directly to us and how his Spirit works to change us. But it can seem intimidating, confusing and even a little bit boring. In this book, Gary Millar shows you that the skills you need to read the Bible are not beyond your grasp. In a warm, approachable style, he gives you the tools to read and understand the Bible for yourself, helping you move from confusion to confidence as you enjoy refreshment in God’s word. Whether you are a new believer and don’t know where to start or you have been a Christian for a while but have never got into a regular habit of Bible reading, this book will equip you to get going. As you read the Bible, you will hear God speak, and you will be changed to be more like Jesus. Don’t miss out!” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
ESV Reformation Study Bible, Student Edition by Ligonier Ministries. “The most important relationship in life is your relationship with God. If you want to grow in your faith, you must turn to His Word. That’s where God has spoken. The Reformation Study Bible, Student Edition is built on the trusted teaching of Dr. R.C. Sproul to help you dig deeper into the Scriptures to find answers and direction for all of life. Grasp the Bible’s meaning with verse-by-verse notes from more than seventy-five pastors and Bible teachers, gain clarity with hundreds of questions and answers that address key subjects of the Christian faith, and apply the knowledge of God to daily living with many practical lessons from every book of the Bible.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
The Concise New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (CNIDNTTE) by Christopher A. Beetham. This “is a significant resource for those looking for a quick-reference guide to aid in exegesis and interpretation. It retains all the essentials of the monumental and magisterial New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis edited by Moises Silva, bringing together its most important elements into one accessible volume. This reference includes the most vital, relevant information needed to delve deep into the study of the Greek words used in Scripture for study of the New Testament–its texts and theology. This volume offers a wealth of background and information on the meaning of Greek words in the New Testament, as well as related usage in classical Greek sources, the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint), and extrabiblical Second Temple Jewish literature. … The Concise New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis is the ideal tool for pastors, Bible teachers, students, and scholars engaging in exegesis. It is packed with the essential information needed to study the New Testament.” (Buy it at Amazon)