Sunday, July 5, 2015

True Patriotism from the Letters of John Newton


 "My kingdom is not of this world! 
If My kingdom were of this world,
My servants would fight!"
John 18:36.
 
Dear friend,
 Allow me to say, that it excites both my wonder and concern, that a Christian minister such as yourself, should think it worth his while to attempt political reforms. When I look around upon the present state of the nation, such an attempt appears to me, to be no less vain and foolish, than it would be to paint the cabin—while the ship is sinking! Or to decorate the parlor—while the house is on fire!
When our Lord Jesus was upon earth, He refused to get involved in disputes or politics, "Friend, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" Luke 12:14. "My kingdom is not of this world! If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight!" John 18:36. God's children belong to a kingdom which is not of this world; they are strangers and pilgrims upon earth, and a part of their Scriptural character is, that they are the "quiet in the land." Psalm 35:20.
Satan has many contrivances to amuse people, and to divert their thoughts from their real danger!
My dear sir, my prayer to God for you is—that He may induce you to employ the talents He has given you, in pointing out sin as the great cause and source of every existing evil; and to engage those who love and fear Him, (instead of wasting time in political speculations, for which very few of them are competent,) to sigh and cry for our abounding abominations, and to stand in the breach, by prayer, that God's wrath may yet be averted, and our national mercies prolonged! This, I think, is true patriotism—the best way in which people in private life may serve their country.
 I consider the ungodly as saws and hammers in the hand of the Lord. So far as they are His instruments, they will succeed—but not an inch further! Their wrath shall praise Him, and be subservient to His designs!
If our lot is so cast that we can exercise our ministry free from stripes, fines, imprisonments, and death—it is more than the gospel has promised to us! If Christians were quiet when under the cruel governments of Nero and other wicked persecutors, when they were hunted down like wild beasts—then we ought to be not only quiet but very thankful now! It was then accounted an honor to suffer for Christ and the 'offence of the cross'!
 Those are to be greatly pitied, who boast of their 'liberty'—and yet they do not consider that they are in the most deplorable bondage as the slaves of sin and Satan, under the curse of God's law and His eternal wrath! Oh! for a voice to reach their hearts, that they may know their true and dreadful state—and seek deliverance from their horrific thraldom! May you and I labor to direct them to the one thing, which is absolutely needful, and abundantly sufficient.
If I had the wisdom or influence to soothe the angry passions of mankind—I would gladly employ them! But I am a stranger and a pilgrim here in this world. My charter, my rights and my treasures, are all in heaven—and there my heart ought to be. In a very short time, I may be removed (and perhaps suddenly) into the unseen and eternal world—where all that now causes so much bustle upon earth—will be of no more importance to me—than the events which took place among the antediluvians!
In the hour, when death shall open the door into eternity—many things which now assume an 'air of importance', will be found as light and unsubstantial as a child's dream!
How crucial then, is it for me—to be found watching, with my lamp burning, diligently engaged in my proper calling! For the Lord has not called me to set governments right—but to preach the gospel, to proclaim the glory of His name, and to endeavor to win souls! "Let the dead bury their own dead—but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God!" Luke 9:60. Happy is that servant, whom his Master finds so doing, when He returns!
As you have forced me to respond—both duty and love have obliged me to be faithful and free in giving you my thoughts.
 I recommend you to the care and blessing of the great Shepherd and Savior; and remain for His sake, your affectionate friend and brother,
John Newton 



Letters of John Newton (1725-1807)
Portrait by John Russell 
 
 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Theology for Kids: God's Amazing Book!


There is no other Book in the whole world like the Bible!    That  is because the Bible is God’s Word.   God  wants us  to know how wonderful He is so that we might love and worship Him. 
There are many amazing things about the Bible that cannot be said about any other book that was ever written!  
  • There are 66  books  in the Bible that were written by at least 40 different writers.   The writers wrote the Bible over a very long period of time—1500 years!   There has never been any other book  that has taken so long to write!   Not even close!
  • Every writer was inspired by God in a special way  to write down every word God wanted him to write.    Some writers actually heard God’s voice speaking out loud.    Others saw miraculous visions that God told them to write down.     Even the little words and punctuation marks in the Bible  were exactly what God wanted to be there! 
  •  There are no mistakes in the Bible.    Some people have said that the Bible has been changed too many times to be true,  but they are mistaken.  Scientists have proven that the Bible can be completely trusted.    
  • The Bible agrees with itself even though there were many different writers.   All of the books in the Bible  tell a story that fit  together perfectly just  like the pieces of  a  jigsaw puzzle. 
  • The Bible tell us the story of God’s great  love for us.   It tells us about Jesus and about how He died on the cross to save sinners.   It tells us how Jesus rose from the dead three days later!    And it also tells us that He will  come back again!
  • The Bible is a miraculous book because it has power to change our hearts when we believe it.   The Bible will guide us so that we can  know how God wants us to live.   And the Bible can make us feel better when we are afraid or sad.
It is very important to read our Bibles  and to learn verses from it.    Here’s a good verse to memorize:
 All Scripture is inspired by God.” 
 2 Timothy 3:16

__________ __________
For more information about how we got God’s wonderful word and why we can trust it,  please check out the  compact 6 part Bibliology series HERE


Please note:  I’ve just started a new blog just for kids where I’ll be posting these little articles.   If you have anything you would like to see there please let me know.  Thanks!   Theology for Kids

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Gentle Reminder of Why We're Here

This morning I opened my email to a breath of fresh air as  the Lord  reminded me  what our mission is here.   It was a story about a 17 year old boy named Okware Martin who lives in one of the most poverty stricken villages in Uganda.   A place where there are few if any Bibles.   Voice of the Martyrs workers were distributing Bibles and  this boy had heard about God but admitted he wasn’t living a good life.    He could read and as  Okware began reading Psalm 1 he said,
“ “I cannot read with dirty hands, allow me to wash and return.” He washed up and then finished reading the psalm.
After encouraging Martin, the VOM workers moved to the next house. Martin stayed where he was and continued reading the Bible that he had been given. As they continued going from house to house, one of the workers noticed that Martin was still in the same place and still reading from the Bible he had been given two hours later.” 1
Okware continued to sit there for six hours reading that Bible!   
Friends,  we can get so discouraged by  our decaying culture and by all of  the evil around us that we  lose sight of the big picture.  There's no question that we are living in an increasingly lawless and evil world, but  it is a world into which Christ came to seek and to save  His own.     We're not called to change the culture, rather  we're here to declare the glorious Gospel of Christ to the lost.       Remember what Jesus said?
 "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world."  John 18:36
Westerners can be  myopic sometimes when we focus on the problems around us.   And yet we should remember that  there are millions of people worldwide who have never heard the Gospel and have never seen a Bible.    And there are Christians  throughout the world who would give their right arm for a Bible that would only cost us the price of one Carmel Frappuccino at Starbucks!    A quick Google search turns up many missionary societies that are begging for Bibles. 
  •  "I want to know more about Jesus teaching. I request you to please send a Bible to me. I want in English. I want to read it." INDIA 
  • "The greatest problem facing this class is lack of Holy Bibles...Out of 50 students in this class, only 3 have personal copies of Bibles." NIGERIA
  • "Greetings to you from Myanmar. Many thanks for your gifts of Bibles which we just received. We are very grateful for your concern and love toward us in the name of our Lord." MYANMAR”2
Wherever there are people,  there is a need for the Gospel,  whether it’s  our Facebook friend with the rainbow overlay on their profile pic or  a boy in Uganda,  and  I don't want to lose sight of that. 
 Photo: Voice of the Martyrs:  Okware Martin reads his new Bible

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hoaxes and Hermeneutics

What in the world could one of the greatest hoaxes in history  possibly  have in common with hermeneutics?     It’s my turn at Out of the Ordinary today so come on over and find out!
 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

It Won't Be Long

“Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth  nigh” James 5:8


The last word in the Canticle of love is,  “Make haste, my beloved,” and  among the last words of the Apocalypse we read, “The Spirit and the  Bride say, Come”; to which the heavenly Bridegroom answers,   “Surely I  come quickly.” Love longs for the glorious appearing of the Lord, and  enjoys this sweet promise — “The coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”  This stays our minds as to the future. We look out with hope through this  window.

This sacred “window of agate” lets in a flood of light upon the present,  and puts us into fine condition for immediate work or suffering.   Are we tried?   Then the nearness of our joy whispers patience.   Are we growing  weary because we do not see the harvest of our seed-sowing?   Again this  glorious truth cries to us, “Be patient.”   Do our multiplied temptations  cause us in the least to waver? Then the assurance, that before long the  Lord will be here, preaches to us from this text, “Stablish your hearts.” Be  firm, be stable, be constant, “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in  the work of the Lord.” Soon will you hear the silver trumpets which  announce the coming of your King. Be not in the least afraid. Hold the  fort, for He is coming; yea, He may appear this very day.


Faith's Checkbook:  C.H. Spurgeon - June 26 
 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Theology for Kids: Real Questions from Real Kids

 
This  question comes from Lydia who is 5 years old.
Lydia:  How does God make love? 
Mrs. B:   That is an excellent question!   The Bible tells us that “God IS  Love” (1 John 4:8).   Love is not  something God made because it  is  part of who He is.  
Love is one of God’s many Attributes.  "Attribute" is a big word isn’t it?    Attributes are  things  about God that  tell us what he is like.  God has no beginning and no end, so when he loves someone his love  lasts forever! 
When we  think about  love  we think about the way that love behaves.    Love  is kind and patient.   Love is helpful and forgiving.  Love is not selfish but thinks about other people.  Love  also tries to help people  see when they have done something wrong or when they are in danger,  like your mommy and daddy do with you.
The greatest way that God has shown his  love  to us  was when he sent  His  only Son Jesus Christ to  earth to die on the cross for us for our sins.    After Jesus died He came back to life three days later!
But why did Jesus have to die for our sins?    
Every person has broken God’s laws and God  cannot let any person into Heaven unless all of their sins have been forgiven.    We can't do enough good things to make up for the bad things we’ve done no matter how hard we try. 
But  God LOVED us so much that he made a way for us to be forgiven through Jesus.   Jesus is the ONLY way anyone  can come to God and go to Heaven.   
If we want to be saved and be with God forever in Heaven we must be sorry for our sins and  believe that Jesus paid for ours sins when He died on the cross.   
When I was 5 years old I memorized this verse and maybe you can memorize it too!  
"For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."   John 3:16: 

With Love,
 

 
 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Old Backsliders

 “For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.”  1 Kings 11:4   
Robert and I just finished  Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in our morning reading.  Ecclesiastes is the autobiography  of  King Solomon wherein he  issues a strong warning  about  squandering our lives  on self-interest.      Even after God had given Solomon more wisdom and discernment than anyone before or after him (I Kings 3:12-13) Solomon still backslid.    
How could this be?   The guy had everything anyone could ever dream of!    Not only did he have wisdom and discernment,  he had no money worries and was honored above anyone in his day.    As a young man Solomon had written many of the Proverbs that warned  of the very things he later fell to.
 “Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings.” Proverbs 31:3
 Solomon acquired  700 wives and 300 concubines – (I Kings 11:3)  and  Nehemiah tells us  “he was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless the foreign women caused even him to sin.Nehemiah 13:26
 Whether highly publicized or local,   I’m sure you're as weary of hearing about the latest  church scandal as I am.   As Robert and I discussed this the other day we pondered whether or not we would be shocked if  certain pastors we respect  fell in the same way.    We talked about how a long life of proven character would make that  scenario much less likely. 
And yet I know,  as Solomon proves,  that  age and wisdom do  not guarantee a person won't backslide.     In fact, the older I get the more I realize how dependent I am upon God alone to sustain me.    My propensity to wander is as strong as it ever was—after all my flesh has had  plenty of practice!      A dear saint in his 90’s  once admitted to us that the Lord  had to come after him every 15 minutes!
 I amaze myself  at how often I can be camped on Mt. Sinai  on Sunday only to sink into the Slough of Despond on Monday.
 It is only God who will sustain His people  until the end .    As for my part in the matter,  I have to be continually checking  my pride at the door because given the right set of circumstances I would probably fall too. And I might add that there are many ways to fall away from the Lord. 
 I must  also be careful to keep watch  for the little foxes that spoil the vines.  (Song of Solom0n 2:15)    Those little  secret gateway  sins that no one sees but me and God can easily  take over like cancer if I don’t  put them to death.
 Little foxes spoil the vines; and little sins do mischief to the tender heart. These little sins burrow in the soul, and make it so full of that which is hateful to Christ, that he will hold no comfortable fellowship and communion with us. A great sin cannot destroy a Christian, but a little sin can make him miserable. Jesus will not walk with his people unless they drive out every known sin.”1  Charles Spurgeon
 Not only that,  but all of my reading and studying  will profit me nothing without a healthy fear of God, as Solomon concluded:
 Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.”  Ecclesiastes 12:12-14
 
 
1. Morning and Evening by C.H. Spurgeon,  Evening:  May 30
 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Woman's War

“The Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” Judges 4:9
 
Rather an unusual text, but there may be souls in the world that may have faith enough to grasp it.  Barak, the man, though called to the war, had little stomach for the fight unless Deborah would go with him, and so the Lord determined to make it a woman’s war. By this means He rebuked the slackness of the man, and gained for Himself the more renown, and cast the more shame upon the enemies of His people.
 
The Lord can still use feeble instrumentalities. Why not me? He may use persons who are not commonly called to great public engagements. Why not you?   The woman who slew the enemy of Israel was no Amazon, but awife who tarried in her tent. She was no orator, but a woman who milked the cows and made butter. May not the Lord use any one of us to accomplish His purpose? Somebody may come to the house today, even as Sisera came to Jael’s tent. Be it ours, not to slay him, but to save him.
 
Let us receive him with great kindness, and then bring forth the blessed truth of salvation by the Lord Jesus, our great Substitute, and press home the command, “Believe and live.” Who knoweth but some stouthearted sinner may be slain by the gospel today?

Faith's Checkbook by C.H. Spurgeon - June 21 

 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Theology for Kids: "The Happy Little Girl"



"THE HAPPY LITTLE GIRL"    

This is a true story that was written by a famous preacher who lived in England a long time ago in the 1800’s.  His name was   Pastor J.C. Ryle.     
The world was very different in those days.  Today it would not be wise for children to travel alone or talk to strangers.
But the most important thing about this story is that the message has not changed at all.   And the reason it has not changed is this:    Jesus has ALWAYS been the same and He will never change.   The Bible says,   Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  Hebrews 13:8  
 
Dear Children, 
Would you like to know who was the happiest child I ever saw?  Listen to me, and I will tell you. 
The happiest child I ever saw was a little girl whom I once met traveling in a railway carriage. We were both going on a journey to London, and we traveled a great many miles together.   She was only eight years old, and she was blind  
She had never been able to see at all.   She had never seen the sun, and the stars, and the sky, and the grass, and the flowers, and the trees, and the birds, and all those pleasant things which you see every day of your lives; but still she was quite happy.
She was by herself, poor little thing. She had no friends or relations to take care of her on the journey, and be good to her; but she was quite happy and content.   She said when she got into the carriage, "Tell me how many people there are in the carriage: I am quite blind, and can see nothing."  A gentleman asked her if she was afraid?    "No," she said,   "I am not frightened; I have traveled before, and I trust in God, and people are always very good to me." 
But I soon found out the reason why she was so happy; and what do you think it was?   She loved Jesus Christ—and Jesus Christ loved her; she had sought Jesus Christ, and she had found Him. 
I began to talk to her about the Bible, and I soon saw that she knew a great deal of it. She went to a school where the teacher used to read the Bible to her; and she was a good girl, and had remembered what her teacher had read. 
Dear children, you cannot think how many things in the Bible this poor little blind girl knew. I only wish that every grown up person in England knew as much as she did. But I must try and tell you some of them. 
She talked to me about sin: how it first came into the world, when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and how it was to be seen everywhere now. "Oh," she said, "there are no really good people! The very best people in the world have many sins every day, and I am sure we all of us waste a great deal of time, if we do nothing else wrong. Oh, we are all such sinners! There is nobody who has not sinned a great many sins." 
And then she talked about Jesus Christ. She told me about the agony in the garden of Gethsemane—about His sweating drops of blood—about the soldiers nailing Him to the cross—about the spear piercing His side, and blood and water coming out. "Oh," she said, " how very good it was of Him to die for us, and such a cruel death! How good He was to suffer so for our sins." 
And then she talked about wicked people. She told me she was afraid there were a great many in the world, and it made her very unhappy to see how many of her school-fellows and acquaintances lived. "But," she said, "I know the reason why they are so wicked: it is because they do not try to be good—they do not wish to be good—they do not ask Jesus to make them good." 
I asked her what part of the Bible she liked best. She told me she liked all the history of Jesus Christ, but the chapters she was most fond of were the three last chapters of the Book of Revelation. I had a Bible with me, and I took it out and read these chapters to her as we went along. 
When I was done, she began to talk about Heaven. "Think," she said, "how nice it will be to be there! There will be no more sorrow, nor crying, nor tears. And Jesus Christ will be there, for it says, 'the Lamb is the light thereof,' and we shall always be with Him; and beside this, there shall be no night there. They will need no candle nor light of the sun." 
Dear children, just think of this poor little blind girl. Think of her taking pleasure in talking of Jesus Christ. Think of her rejoicing in the account of Heaven, where there shall be no sorrow nor night. 
I have never seen her since. She went to her own home in London, and I do not know whether she is alive or not; but I hope she is, and I have no doubt Jesus Christ has taken good care of her. 
Dear children, are you as happy and as cheerful as she was? 
You are not blind—you have eyes, and can run about and see everything, and go where you like, and read as much as you please to yourselves. But are you as happy as this poor little girl? 
Oh, if you wish to be happy in this world, remember my advice today—do as the little blind girl did: "Love Jesus Christ, and He will love you; seek Him early, and you shall find Him."

 
New posts will be listed on the Theology for Kids page.

 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

When Your Husband Leaves the Ministry

I’ve been  invited  to join the team at  Out of the Ordinary and today I’m sharing some thoughts for wives whose husbands  have left the ministry.    It's a subject close to  my heart that I've never written about before.   I  have never read anything  on this subject written  from the wife's perspective so I hope this article might find its way to someone who needs encouragement.   I know what a lonely place this can be.   And, by the way, Robert was glad that I've written this.   So please come on by!