Sunday, August 31, 2008

Precious Remedies - Conclusion

Don't let my lack of posting about this book serve as an indication that I was neither engaged nor interested. To the contrary, I have found myself immersed in it, to the point that I have labored to suck out every bit of sweetness from its pages. I finished the book this morning, but want to step back to my reading from last week and post an important section for the edification of both of my readers.

Satan has his devices to destroy the saints; and one great device that he has to destroy the saints is, By working them first to be cold, and then to divide, and then to be bitter and jealous, and then 'to bite and devour one another' (Gal. 5:15). Our own woeful experience is too great a proof of this. The Israelites in Egypt did not more vex one another, than Christians in these days have done, which occasioned a deadly consumption to fall upon some. (If we knock, we break. Dissolution is the daughter of dissension.)

The first remedy against this device of Satan is, To dwell more upon one another's graces than upon one another's weaknesses and infirmities. It is sad to consider that saints should have many eyes to behold one another's infirmities, and not one eye to see each other's graces, that they should use spectacles to behold one another's weaknesses, rather than looking-glasses to behold one another's graces.

The second remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That love and union makes most for your own safety and security. We shall be invincible if we are inseparable. The world may frown upon you, and plot against you—but they cannot hurt you. Unity is the best bond of safety in every church and commonwealth.

The third remedy against this device of Satan is, To dwell upon those commands of God which require you to love one another.

The fourth remedy against this device of Satan is, To dwell more upon these choice and sweet things wherein you agree, than upon those things wherein you differ.

The fifth remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That God delights to be styled—'the God of peace'; and Christ to be styled—'the Prince of peace, and King of peace'; and the Spirit is a Spirit of peace. 'The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace' (Gal 5:22). Oh! why then should not the saints be children of peace?

The sixth remedy against this device of Satan is, To make more care and conscience, of keeping up your peace with God. Ah! Christians, I am afraid that your remissness herein is that which has occasioned much of that sourness, bitterness, and divisions that be among you. (There is no fear of knowing too much—but there is much fear in practicing too little.) Ah! you have not, as you should, kept up your peace with God, and therefore it is that you do so dreadfully break the peace among yourselves. The Lord has promised, 'That when a man's ways please him, he will make his enemies to be at peace with him' (Prov. 16:7). Ah! how much more then would God make the children of peace to keep the peace among themselves, if their ways do but please him!

The seventh remedy against this device of Satan is, To dwell much upon that near relation and union that is between you. This consideration had a sweet influence upon Abraham's heart: 'And Abraham said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray you, between me and you, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen—for we are brethren' (Gen.13:8). The Hebrew signifies, 'Oh! let there be no bitterness between us—for we are brethren.'

The eighth remedy against this device of Satan is, To dwell upon the miseries of discord. Dissolution is the daughter of dissension. Ah! how does the name of Christ, and the way of Christ, suffer by the discord of saints! How are many who are entering upon the ways of God hindered and saddened, and the mouths of the wicked opened, and their hearts hardened against God and his ways—by the discord of his people! Remember this—the disagreement of Christians is the devil's triumph; and what a sad thing is this, that Christians should give Satan cause to triumph!

The ninth remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That it is no disparagement to you to be first in seeking peace and reconcilement—but rather an honor to you, that you have begun to seek peace.

The tenth remedy against this device of Satan is, For saints to join together and walk together in the ways of grace and holiness so far as they do agree, making the word of God their only touchstone and judge of their actions.

The eleventh remedy against this device of Satan is, To be much in selfjudging. 'Judge yourselves, and you shall not be judged by the Lord' (1 Cor. 11:31).

The twelfth remedy against this device of Satan is this, above all, Labor to be clothed with humility. Humility makes a man peaceable among brethren, fruitful in well-doing, cheerful in suffering, and constant in holy walking (1 Pet. 5:5).

(Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices (pdf download) by Thomas Brooks, selections from pages 198-209)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Governor Sarah Palin

Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska first came to my notice when I read this article by R. Albert Mohler this past May.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that John McCain would pick her as his Vice Presidential running mate, but there were some who exhibited a prophetic bent:

Josh Harris

Draft Sarah Palin

As it says at the top of my blog, these are Republican Ramblings. I will use my position as owner of this spot in the blogosphere to engage in some of that right now:

What can be said about Governor Sarah Palin:

1) Not only does she talk pro-2nd Amendment, she shoots, is the Governor of a state that allows CCW without requiring a permit, is an NRA Life member, and has been hunting since a youngster (what a contrast to John Kerry's hunting 'experience" in the last election and to Obama and Biden's anti-gun stance.)

2) Not only is she pro-military, she has a son who is in the US Army Infantry and will soon deploy to Iraq.

3) Not only does she talk pro-life, she actually practices pro-life, and refused to abort her Down syndrome son, seeing him as a gift from God.

4) Not only does she talk against corruption, she has been actively cleaning it up.

5) Not only does she talk about government waste, she has been eliminating it.

6) Not only does she talk low taxes, she cuts taxes and returns taxpayers money to them.

7) It appears that she doesn't just talk about faith, she lives it out while not making it a big issue on the campaign trail.

Additionally, she has built and run a business with her native-American (Eskimo) husband of 20 years, and has more executive experience than either Obama or Biden. I think that she will hold her own against Biden in any debates, and will maintain her integrity and exhibit grace while doing so.

Looks like a winner to me.

(It doesn't hurt that she is not hard on the eyes either!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Win an ESV Study Bible

Check out for your chance to win a free copy of the upcoming ESV Study Bible.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Precious Remedies - Content in Christ

True grace will enable a soul to sit down satisfied and contented with the naked enjoyments of Christ. The enjoyment of Christ without honor will satisfy the soul; the enjoyment of Christ without riches, the enjoyment of Christ without pleasures, and without the smiles of creatures, will content and satisfy the soul. 'It is enough; Joseph is alive' (Gen. 45:28). So says a gracious soul, though honor is not, and riches are not, and health is not, and friends are not—it is enough that Christ is, that he reigns, conquers, and triumphs. Christ is the pot of manna, the cruse of oil, a bottomless ocean of all comfort, contentment, and satisfaction. He who has him lacks nothing: he who lacks him enjoys nothing. 'Having nothing,' says Paul, 'and yet possessing all things' (2 Cor. 6:10). A contented man cannot be a poor man. (pg. 160-161)

Can I say that I am content with Christ alone?

Rest in Peace, Warrior Hero

Joe Galloway, a hero in his own right, pens a moving tribute on the passing of Ed ("Too Tall") Freeman.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Precious Remedies - More Latin

From yesterday's reading:

Adoro plenitudinem Scripturarum - attributed to Tertullian, "I adore the fullness of the Scripture" (pg. 122)

Laboremus - "Let us be doing" (pg. 124)

Paired up with appropriate Scriptures:

Adoro plenitudinem Scripturarum
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. (Psalm 119:97, ESV)

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (Col 3:23, ESV)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Precious Remedies - Possible life mottos?

Thomas Brooks is big on footnotes, many of them containing phrases in Latin. Two of these have caught my eye as possible life mottos:

Nil nisi peccatum timeo - attributed to Chrysostom (pg. 33, "I fear nothing but sin")

A me, me salva Domine - attributed to Augustine (pg. 51, "Deliver me, O Lord, from that evil man myself")

The first one is probably not a good choice, since Crysostom was replying to threats by the Empress Eudoxia, showing his contempt for her authority. I doubt that he intended this to be a comprehensive sentiment, seeing as "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom". Besides, it smacks too much of the "No Fear" that graces numerous pick-up truck windows and T-shirts.

However, the second might just be the ticket for a life motto, especially if coupled with Scripture, as follows:

"A me, me salva Domine"
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24)

Precious Remedies - very late first post

Here it is, the 15th of the month, and I have yet to post anything related to this month's Puritan Reading Challenge selection, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, by Thomas Brooks. Just like last month, this is not an easy read. This book was originally scheduled to be the April selection, but was postponed due to lack of availability from one of the book sellers. However, coming on the heals of Bridge's A Lifting Up for the Downcast is a good thing due to the fact that I had developed a systematic approach to ensuring that last month's book would be completed on time, an approach that I have carried over to this month's work.

One of the first things I did when I cracked the cover of this book was to delineate a portion for each day, and mark it in the margin. I don't get to put my head on the pillow at night until I have read to at least that day's marker. This is not an onerous thing, since most days I am a little ahead, but a reminder of what it takes to maintain my commitment. Just like last month, this work requires a considerable amount to reflection and analysis. Truthfully, I don't think that I have read anything else that deals with this subject matter at this level of detail, and I need to remain a good "Berean" by making sure that Brooks is not engaged in flights of fancy. I have encountered a couple of things that have had me scratching my head, but further examination reveals more of a cultural disconnect than an abuse of scriptural truth.

This is the type of book that is going to speak to different people in different ways, depending upon their circumstances and experiences. Brooks catalogs a number of temptations and devices used by Satan to cripple the Christian in his Christian life, and then gives a number of remedies for each. One example follows, just for flavor:

DEVICE 4. By presenting to the soul the best men's sins, and by hiding from the soul their virtues; by showing the soul their sins, and by hiding from the soul their sorrows and repentance: as by setting before the soul the adultery of David, the pride of Hezekiah, the impatience of Job, the drunkenness of Noah, the blasphemy of Peter, etc., and by hiding from the soul the tears, the sighs, the groans, the meltings, the humblings, and repentings of these precious souls.

Remedy (1). The first remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That the Spirit of the Lord has been as careful to note the saints' rising by repentance out of sin, as he has to note their falling into sins. David falls fearfully—but by repentance he rises sweetly. 'Blot out my transgressions, wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, cleanse me from my sin; for I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow; deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, God of my salvation.' It is true, Hezekiah's heart was lifted up under the abundance of mercy that God had cast in upon him; and it is as true that Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, so that the wrath of the Lord came not upon him, nor upon Jerusalem, in the days of Hezekiah. It is true, Job curses the day of his birth, and it is as true that he rises by repentance: 'Behold, I am vile,' says he; 'what shall I answer you? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken—but I will not answer; yes twice—but I will proceed no further. I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear—but now my eye sees you; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes' (Job 40:4, 5; 42:5, 6). Tertullian says that he was born for no other purpose but to repent.

Peter falls dreadfully—but rises by repentance sweetly; a look of love from Christ melts him into tears. He knew that repentance was the key to the kingdom of grace. As once his faith was so great that he leaped, as it were, into a sea of waters to come to Christ; so now his repentance was so great that he leaped, as it were, into a sea of tears, because he had denied Christ. Some say that, after his sad fall, he was ever and always weeping, and that his face was even furrowed with continual tears. He had no sooner took in poison but he vomited it up again, before it got to the vitals; he had no sooner handled this serpent but he turned it into a rod to scourge his soul with remorse for sinning against such clear light, and strong love, and sweet discoveries of the heart of Christ to him. Luther confesses that, before his conversion, he met not with a more displeasing word in all his study of divinity than repent—but afterward he took delight in the word. Clement notes that Peter so repented, that all his life after, every night when he heard the cock crow, he would fall upon his knees, and, weeping bitterly, would beg pardon of his sin. Ah, souls, you can easily sin as the saints—but can you repent with the saints? Many can sin with David and Peter, that cannot repent with David and Peter—and so must perish forever!

Theodosius the emperor, pressing that he might receive the Lord's supper, excuses his own foul act by David's doing the like; to which Ambrose replies, You have followed David transgressing, follow David repenting, and then think you of the table of the Lord. (pg 45-46, formatting from the Grace Gems online copy)

This isn't all, Brooks has an additional three remedies for this same device, approaching it from different angles. As a result, he approaches his subject matter thoroughly while remaining pastoral in his concern for his readers.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Could it be any stranger?

This Fox News story is one of the stranger things I have read recently.

Your best flight now?

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - 1918-2008

There have been many words written this past week on the passing of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

This post, succinct and powerful, is my favorite to date.

For background on this remarkable life, see the Wikipedia entry for him.

“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart.” —Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn