I have often expressed my fascination with nineteenth century religious poetry. In a time when there were few means through which strangers could engage with one another, poetry periodicals would often print a poem in one issue, then responses or rebuttals in future editions. I found just such a situation with a poem titled “A Mother’s Love” which was penned by a grieving, anonymous poet.
Still she keeps rocking him,
Ever caressing him,
Brushing his hair from his colorless brow;
Softly they’ve whispered her,
‘Life has gone out of him;’
Gently she answers—‘how still he is now!’
Still she keeps rocking him,
As though she would shake from him
The cold hand of death, like the weights from his eyes;
Rocking the clay of him,
While softly the soul of him
Angels are rocking far up in the skies.
A second anonymous poet subsequently replied with a poem of her own, a kind of gentle rebuttal that was meant to bring Scriptural encouragement.
Why does she weep for him,
Mourn and lament for him,
Craving at most
But a handful of dust?
Cold, lifeless clay at best,
Cold on her yearning breast
Lost is her treasure,
But where is her trust?
Let her not cling to him,
Striving to fling from him,
Death’s chilly hand,
With its firm, frozen hold.
Death has not made the choice,
’Tis but the Shepherd’s voice
Calling the little lamb
Back to its fold.
Why, then, go sorrowing,
All the day borrowing
And memory’s gloom?
Rather let hope unite
With faith’s celestial light,
Casting a halo
Far over his tomb.
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By Tim Challies — 3 months ago
The Lord be with you and bless you today.
There is a new ESV Concise Study Bible available and Westminster Books has it on sale this week.
I’ve added a few books to today’s list of Kindle deals.
D. A. Carson on the Two Jews Talking the Day Before the First Passover
Here’s a neat little excerpt of a sermon by D.A. Carson.
No Such Thing as Too Hard Music
Madelyn Canada: “It wasn’t that the music was too hard to figure out, and it wasn’t that the situation was really all that hard to know how to handle. The truth in both situations was that I didn’t want to give all that it would require of me. Apparently walking in obedience to Christ is quite a bit like playing the piano.”
Why God Saved You
God saves people for a purpose. Salvation in Christ begins a life spent growing into being like him and serving him faithfully. God forms Christians into Christ’s character and image. This transformation takes place as we come to know and love our Lord. God sends maturing Christians out into the world as his servants as he reconciles all things to himself. (Sponsored Link)
Why the Enemy Wants You to Think You’re Alone
“I’ve been there. Discouragement spiraled into depression. I multiplied my angst by entangling myself in sin. I didn’t think anyone would understand. I was too afraid to ask anyone for help. Lies compounded sin.” What if there is a strategy behind this sense of isolation?
3 Unthievable Treasures
“Almost anything we treasure—from people to possessions to abilities—can vanish in an instant. However, Scripture does teach us about a few precious treasures that no thief, con man, or devil can ever take away.”
Preparing to Meet Jesus
This is a sweet and encouraging one. “Lord, thank you for sending all the Agneses into our lives who are examples of both how to live and how to prepare to die. Thank you for praying women who are doing the good things that you have planned for them long ago. Thank you for those who have come before us and are steadfast in their faith in spite of weary bodies. I pray that I will be well prepared when I see my Savior face to face.”
What the Church is Not
“These are dark days. Thankfully, there are double yellow lines within the church, made and intended to guide the body of Christ: God and his Word. The white outer line? That is your pastor, a man chosen by God, an overseer tasked with the mission of shepherding your soul through prayer and teaching. He answers directly to God, and will give an account.”
Flashback: Please Do & Please Don’t Assume Motives
Yet we are so quick to assume the very best about our own motives and the very worst about others’. Surely this is some of what the psalmist cried for in Psalm 139…
Christianity is not just intellectually defensible but also intellectually satisfying at the deepest of levels. Yes, we believe God with our hearts. But we can also enjoy him with our minds. —Michael Kruger
By Tim Challies — 4 months ago
“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns!’”
(Yesterday on the blog: God Has Found You Faithful)
Be Worthy of Your Gray
Andrée Seu Peterson: “Scripture says men are held in bondage all their lives by fear of death (Hebrews 2:15). And women by fear of gray. The secret is that once confronted, the boogeyman is not so formidable after all.”
When No One Is Watching: The Heart of a Christian Remote Worker
Reagan Rose has an article meant to challenge those who work from home. “If we’re being really honest, at times we’ve all taken advantage of the remote work arrangement in a way that felt less than honest. The problem, however, isn’t that remote work makes us lazy workers. It just makes it easier to get away with.”
Who Will ‘Stand in the Gap’?
D.A. Carson tells of a particularly important verse. “I do not have a ‘life verse,’ or even a favorite Bible verse. That is not a criticism of those who enjoy such blessings; it may even be a confession that in some domains I have a short attention span. But I would find it easier to list a hundred (or a thousand!) verses that have shaped my life in some significant way than to list one that can claim exclusive influence.”
More Concerning News on Social Media and How It Influences Us
“I’m very concerned about social media, where it is taking us, and how hard it is to extract ourselves from it, even if we want to. Worse, many of the platforms seek to get their users hooked, and data suggests they are downright harmful in a number of ways. I’m beginning to start thinking about ways to reduce how much I rely on these platforms.” Many of us share such concerns.
If a Tree Falls in a Forest?
“The woods looked like a maze of intersecting lumber. Limbs, torsos of torn trees, and scattered boughs needed to be cleared. Power saws buzzed in nearly every direction. As I walked I found myself humming an old Fanny Crosby hymn, Rescue the Perishing. ‘Rescue the perishing, care for the dying. Jesus is merciful. Jesus will save.’”
Why Are So Many Young Childless Men Getting the Snip?
There is something so very tragic about this. “Often the reason that men are giving to Dr Low, who often asks them to consider their options before going ahead with the surgery, is that the world is running out of hope and why would you want to bring a child into it? Hope has gone. Climate change, sustainability issues, warfare, massive political upheaval. What’s the point of dumping that all on a young person? Won’t they hate you for it anyway?”
How Do I Read the Old Testament Historical Books Devotionally? (Video)
Dr. Peter Lee answers in this brief video from RTS.
Flashback: The Depth of My Depravity
You don’t know how deeply sinful you are by your unrighteousness deeds, but by your rejection of God and his grace. That is the most serious, heinous, and damnable sin of them all.
Sin can no more stand against the presence of the Holy Spirit than darkness can resist the gentle, all-pervasive beams of morning light. —F.B Meyer
By Tim Challies — 5 months ago
With summer fading into the rear view and the busy winter publishing season approaching, we are beginning to see publishers release some very interesting books. I sorted through the many books that came to my door in August and wanted to share about some of this month’s new and notable releases. In each case I’ve shared the editorial description.
The Grace and Truth Study Bible NIV edited by Albert Mohler. “Dr. R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the foremost voices for evangelicals worldwide, heads up the editorial team for the NIV Grace and Truth Study Bible. This group of scholars and pastors is committed to delivering a trustworthy and approachable guide to Scripture to Bible readers. The warmhearted and faithful notes will provide first-time Bible readers reliable guidance while simultaneously nourishing veteran students of the Word with fresh insights. Unwavering in its commitment to evangelical steadfastness, this study Bible paints a stunning canvas of the goodness of God’s redemptive plan revealed in the gospel of Jesus. As a study Bible intended for the greatest range of English-speaking Christians, it is set in the New International Version (NIV) text, today’s most widely read contemporary English translation, and typeset in Zondervan’s exclusive easy-to-read NIV Comfort Print typeface.” (Buy it from Amazon)
Rediscover Church: Why the Body of Christ is Essential by Collin Hansen and Jonathan Leeman. “Since a global pandemic abruptly closed places of worship, many Christians have skipped church life, even neglecting virtual services. But this was a trend even before COVID-19. Polarizing issues, including political and racial strife, convinced some people to pull away from the church and one another. Now it’s time to recommit to gathering as brothers and sisters in Christ. In Rediscover Church, Collin Hansen and Jonathan Leeman discuss why church is essential for believers and God’s mission. Through biblical references and personal stories, they show readers God’s true intention for corporate gathering: to spiritually strengthen members as individuals and the body of Christ.” (Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)
Consider Your Counsel: Addressing Ten Mistakes in Our Biblical Counseling by Bob Kellemen. “Biblical counseling is not an easy calling. How do you effectively communicate the gospel to hurting people? Theological training and learning from other counselors are both key to growing in the wisdom, love, and skill needed to apply Scripture to yourself and others. Preparation is key, but sometimes the most effective training comes after you’ve jumped into the ring—when a coach puts his arm around your shoulder and helps you take a look at what you’ve done well and where you can grow. In Consider Your Counsel, Bob Kellemen comes alongside counselors and shares where he and others have missed the mark. Drawing on more than three decades of counseling supervision experience, he unpacks ten of the most common missteps that he has noticed in his own counseling, as well as those he has mentored. From teaching before listening to targeting sin but not suffering, Kellemen helps counselors of all ages see where they may need to reassess their methods and continue to grow. Each chapter briefly discusses a typical counseling mistake, then delves into a discussion of alternative approaches and practical suggestions for maturing as biblical counselor. This uniquely helpful book will help readers do an honest assessment of their counseling and encourage them to grow as counselors and friends.” (Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)
The Whole Life: 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-Care by Eliza Huie & Esther Smith. “Many of us live at a pace that is impossible to keep. Unrelenting busyness might feel necessary, but it can lead to chronic stress and burnout that hinders our love for God and others. Instead of adding more to our long to-do list, counselors Eliza Huie and Esther Smith guide readers in how to think biblically about their whole life. They give Christians a framework for biblical self-care that will help them live for Christ by stewarding the spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical aspects of life. The Whole Life: 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-Care outlines a balanced life of stewardship, offering practical strategies for Christians to grow in honoring God and caring for others. The authors focus on six key areas: faith, health, purpose, community, work, and rest. Each chapter addresses a specific topic and guides readers in thinking biblically about their whole life. Breaking down the misconceptions that self-care is not biblical, The Whole Life reveals that caring for yourself doesn’t mean you are being selfish or lazy. Instead, it’s a way of stewarding every part of your life for God’s glory and the good of others. Contrary to what our culture might lead us to believe, exhaustion and burnout are not unavoidable pitfalls of a faithful Christian life. Instead, they are warning signs that we need to turn to God for daily help. This book will reorient readers to the core value of resting their heart, mind, and strength in Christ.” (Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)
The Path to Being a Pastor: A Guide for the Aspiring Pastor by Bobby Jamieson. “A man who’s been transformed by Christ and desires to preach the gospel might say he feels called to be a pastor. This personal conviction, while heartfelt, doesn’t acknowledge important, challenging steps necessary to be a qualified leader. So where should full-time ministry begin? In The Path to Being a Pastor, Bobby Jamieson explains why it’s better to emphasize ‘aspiration’ over ‘calling’ as men pursue the office of elder and encourages readers to make sure they are pastorally gifted before considering the role. Emphasizing the importance of prayer, godly counsel, and immersion in the local church, Jamieson encourages men to ask Am I qualified? instead of Am I called? when considering a life in ministry.” (Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)
Lead Them to Jesus: A Handbook for Youth Workers by Mike McGarry. “Do you feel overwhelmed with the logistics of starting or keeping a youth ministry going? What about the tricky theological questions that keep you and your fellow youth workers on your toes? It’s a lot for what is usually an ‘all-volunteer army.’ Help is here! Veteran youth pastor Mike McGarry offers a practical, comprehensive tool to jumpstart your youth ministry and help youth workers with biblical answers to the tough questions students ask. In a two-part approach, he tackles both the practical skills and biblical depth needed for effective gospel-centered ministry to today’s youth. He leads readers through twenty theological truths they should be equipped to discuss with students and offers twenty practical skills every youth worker should cultivate. Lead Them to Jesus offers insight into the religious worldview of Gen Z and illustrates how to connect the gospel to their questions and core desires. Not only are young people ready to discuss hard issues such as suicide, suffering, and navigating difficult relationships, they are looking for authentic leaders who are committed to speaking truth and investing into their lives. McGarry prepares both youth pastors and ministry volunteers to go deep with students about what they believe and why. He also helps them think through the strategic role of fun and games and shares how to navigate conflict and cliques. Lead Them to Jesus shows youth workers how the gospel shapes every part of how they do youth ministry and will get your whole team on the same biblical and logistical page.” (Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)
Wonderfully Made: A Protestant Theology of the Body by John W. Kleinig. “Why do we have bodies? When it comes to thinking about our bodies, confusion reigns. In our secular age, there has been a loss of the body’s goodness, purpose, and end. Many people, driven by shame and idolatry, abuse their body through self-harm or self-improvement. How can we renew our understanding and see our bodies the way God does? In Wonderfully Made, John Kleinig forms a properly biblical theology of our bodies. Through his keen sensitivity to Scripture’s witness, Kleinig explains why bodies matter. While sin has corrupted our bodies and how we think of them, God’s creation is still good. Thus, our bodies are good gifts. The Son took on a body to redeem our bodies. Kleinig addresses issues like shame, chastity, desire, gender dysphoria, and more, by integrating them into the biblical vision of creation. Readers of Wonderfully Made will not only be equipped to engage in current issues; they will gain a robust theology of the body and better appreciation of God’s very good creation.”(Buy it from Amazon)
Covenant: The Framework of God’s Grand Plan of Redemption by Daniel Block. “Leading scholar Daniel Block helps students of the Bible understand the big picture of God’s covenants with humanity as they play out in both the First and the New Testaments. After fifty years of teaching and preaching around the globe, Block brings a lifetime of study and reflection on the First Testament and relationship with God to this comprehensive volume. The book focuses on God’s covenants as the means by which God has reached out to a fallen humanity. It examines the heart and history of God’s redemptive plan and shows why the covenants are essential for our understanding of the Bible.”(Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)
When Prayer Is a Struggle: A Practical Guide for Overcoming Obstacles in Prayer by Kevin P. Halloran. “A struggle to pray reveals a desire to pray, and when you have that desire, you can address the obstacles to prayer by facing them head on. Writing as a sympathetic and practical guide, Kevin Halloran helps you to pinpoint areas of weakness in your prayer life and take immediate steps to overcome them. Examine your heart, implement practical measures, and experience the joys of faithfully drawing near to God.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)