A Little Book on the Christian Life

Image result for a little book on the christian life

I just finished reading this book last night. It’s by John Calvin (really, it’s an excerpt of his Institutes that authors/translators have made into its own treatise, as it’s THAT good). It’s no secret now that I’m a fan of Calvin.

Here’s a quote to whet your appetite (one out of many…I had post-it notes ALL OVER the book with sections I thought I might share on this blog. Painfully, I limited it to to one.). I appreciate how he describes the tensions and balance of striving toward the goal, while also understanding that perfection won’t be reached this side of Heaven:

“Of course, none of us is capable of running swiftly on the right course while we remain in the earthly confinement of our bodies. Indeed, most of us are so oppressed with weakness that we make little progress– staggering, limping, and crawling on the ground. But let us move forward according to the measure of our resources and pursue the path we have begun to walk. None of us will move forward with so little success that we will not make some daily progress in the way. Therefore, let us keep trying so that we might continually make some gains in the way of the Lord, and neither let us despair over how small our successes are. For however much our successes fall short of our desire, our efforts aren’t in vain when we are farther along today than yesterday. So let us fix our eyes on the goal with sincerity and simplicity, aspiring to that end–neither foolishly congratulating ourselves, nor excusing our evil deeds. Let us press on with continual striving toward that goal so that we might surpass ourselves– until we have finally arrived at perfection itself. This, indeed, is what we follow after and pursue all our lives, but we will only possess it when we have escaped the weakness of the flesh and have been received into His perfect fellowship” (p. 16-17).

“Jesus Loves the Little Children”

Image result for jesus loves the little children bookI just finished “Jesus Loves the Little Children: Why We Baptize Children” by Daniel R. Hyde. If you’re looking for a short (key word being short, as I do better with short books these days), concise book on this topic, I highly recommend it. However, I must acknowledge that the issue of infant baptism can be very controversial and express that my goal in posting is not to offend or divide. But with this baby boy on the way (eek!), I wanted to make sure I really combed the Scriptures and read from trusted theologians to help discern, as best I can, what the Lord says about it. We may disagree, beloveds, and that is okay. I pray our unity in Christ would not be marred!

My general feeling after reading this book has been excitement over such rich nuggets of wisdom. And so what to do with this excitement (I know I’m nerdy)??? 🙂 I MUST share it with you! Hyde says these things way better than I could, so I’ve picked out a few choice quotations that may bless you and ones that I, selfishly, want to record so I can go back to them in the future. Bravo to you if you get through them all, bravo still if you just skim through them, and bravo to you even if you bow out now. It’s always great to have you visit inkdrops, whether you linger or dodge quickly in and out. Enjoy, beloveds!

Quote 1:

“While we have said that baptism is a sign of God’s saving grace, baptism does not necessarily follow chronologically after a sinner is saved…Since baptism is a tangible way that we have experienced the grace and mercy of God in Christ, it can be a very emotional aspect of our experience as Christians. Many of those for whom this book is intended were baptized as adults in a public setting. I share the same experience. Yet we must not think that our personal experience of testifying to God’s grace before many fellow believers is the litmus test of anyone’s theology of baptism. While baptism can be an intensely moving experience, it doesn’t mean adult baptism is the best way or the only way God intends this sacrament to be used….

…the New Testament does not teach that there is necessarily a chronologically simultaneous relationship between the reception of the sacrament and its spiritual benefits. Consider the way a person heard the Word preached. That person may hear hundreds of sermons before ever receiving the benefits promised in the preached Word. I can testify to this. I grew up in a Christian home, heard Bible stories, attended Sunday school, prayed with my family, heard the Scriptures read, but did not consciously come to faith until I was over seventeen years old. Are we then to conclude that everyone must undergo years of hearing the Word first and before coming to faith? The answer is no. One’s personal experience is not to become the doctrine of the church….Just as the Word of the gospel might be preached to someone at one point but the benefit of salvation may come at a much later point, so too it is with baptism. A long period of time may pass between the time a child receives baptism and the time God brings that child to a saving knowledge of the truth of which baptism is a picture.” (pp. 25, 26)

Quote 2:

In reference to 1 Corinthians 7:14 when Paul says a believing spouse can sanctify an unbelieving spouse: “With regard to children, this text reorients us from an individualistic mindset to a covenantal mindset. Scripture makes it clear that God is a covenant making God, and covenants include children. Thus our individualistic ideas of “making Jesus our personal Lord and Savior” and having a “personal relationship with Jesus” must be augmented. While we and our children are personally to embrace God’s promises, the fact remains that God chooses to work through families. Thus 1 Corinthians 7:14 says that children of believers, or even just one believer, are “holy” to the Lord. Just as the children of Israel were called “holy seed” (Ezra 9:2; Isa. 6:13), so too the children of believers are called “holy” in the new covenant era.” (p. 41) 

Quote 3:

“Even as infants do not understand what it means to be a sinner, to place their faith in Jesus, and to live godly lives, so they do not need to understand what baptism is about. Put plainly, we do not need to know what it means to be a sinner in order to be a sinner. On the other hand, they are received in the grace of Christ’s covenant people even before they can know what that means. Infant baptism, then, is a testimony to the sovereignty of God’s grace, in which he loved us before we loved him (1 John 4:10)….In baptism, we see that God always initiates grace! He “came” to us first in eternity in his plan of election; he comes to us in the power of the Holy Spirit in regenerating us from death to life; and he comes to us before we were even able to believe in him, by giving us the gift of faith so we may be justified. So too in baptism he comes to us first, even as we were helpless children, making a promise of grace to us.” (p. 52)

 

Remember Me

“Remember Me” by Andrew Peterson

Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom
Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom

Who can ascend the hill of the Lord?
The one who utters no untrue word
Whose hands are clean, whose heart is pure
Who can ascend that hill?

There is none righteous, no not one
We are prodigal daughters and wayward sons
We don’t know the half of the hurt we’ve done
The countless we have killed

Our priests are cheats, our prophets are liars
We know what the law requires
But we pile our sins up higher and higher
Who can ascend that hill?

And I am a sheep who has gone astray
I have turned aside to my own way
Have mercy on me, Son of David
Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom
Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom

Now hear the voice of the Word made man
The spotless sacrificial Lamb
“A body You gave me, here I am
I have come to do Your will”

And no one takes my life, you see
I lay it down now willingly
And I will draw all men to me
When I ascend that hill

On Sunday You came as a King
On Monday washed the temple clean
On Tuesday You told of what will be
On Wednesday You waited patiently
On Thursday You said it is time
I’ll drink this cup ’cause it is mine
On Friday, Lord, You poured the wine

Like a thief on the cross, as He hung there dying
For crimes, there were no use denying
While the righteous Judge hung right beside him
How could I not recognize You?
How could I not recognize You?
How could I not recognize… my Lord?
My Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom
Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom

Just days ago the sky was stone
The trees were standing stripped to the bone
You could hear creation groan

But I write these words on an April day
And the earth is drinking the early rain
The hills remember green again

And we’ve heard this story all our lives
Still, we feel the pain of the crucified
And the end still comes as a surprise

But before the breath there in the tomb
Before our joy sprang from the womb
You saw a day that’s coming soon
When the Son will stand on the mount again
With an army of angels at His command
And the earth will split like the hull of a seed
Wherever Jesus plants His feet

And up from the earth, the dead will rise
Like spring trees robed in petals of white
Singing the song of the radiant bride

And we will always be, always be, always be with the Lord
We will always be, always be, always be with the Lord
We will always… (we will always be, always be)
Be with Jesus (always be with the Lord)

My Lord, remember me (we will always be, always be)
When You come into Your kingdom (always be with the Lord)
Lord, remember me (we will always be, always be)
When You come into Your kingdom (always be with the Lord)

Michael W. Smith Wins the Christmas Music Trophy

Merry Christmas Eve Eve, beloveds! Today is the first time I’ve ever heard this song and  I knew I had to share it with you. It has made me cry and it keeps making me cry. I feel like this song should simultaneously be belted in a musical, sung in a church, and cried out in a quiet room in a quiet house next to a well-worn Bible to an audience of One.

I pray you can take a moment today to stop, calm your heart, and enjoy “the wondrous child” who “knows your joy and feels your suffering.” Thank you Michael W. Smith and Michael McDonald!

The Cultured Artist

I share convicting things sometimes and basically 100% of the time those things are what I’ve been convicted of; they’re things I’m learning about. I read this C.S. Lewis quote today and immediately said, “YES, this is for me.” Maybe it’s for you too, beloved?

I consider myself an artist. I grew up loving the theater, literature, music, dance, journaling, scrapbooking, letter writing, decor and all things that move me to my emotional, relational, and spiritual core. I still love artistic endeavors dearly, as I see so much of my Maker in them. However, I’ve noticed how tempting it can be to make these good gifts into bad gods (props to David Powlison for that phrase). Yee-ayah DP! Sometimes art and artistry subtly and sneakily saunter their way to the top of the ladder of my heart. They become almost religion-like to me. C.S. Lewis articulately warns against this temptation, but also reminds me of the truth of what is infinitely more valuable than art:

“The Christian will take literature a little less seriously than the cultured Pagan…The unbeliever is always apt to make a kind of religion of his aesthetic experiences…and he commonly wishes to maintain his superiority to the great mass of mankind who turns to books for mere recreation. But the Christian knows from the outset that the salvation of a single soul is more important than the production or preservation of all the epics and tragedies in the world: and as for superiority, he knows that the vulgar since they include most of the poor probably include most of the superiors.”

-C.S. Lewis, “Christianity and Literature”

In the Words of Satan by the Arrows

This reminds me a bit of C.S. Lewis’s tack when he wrote “The Screwtape Letters.” I love the jazzy style of music here juxtaposed with the atrociousness of Satan’s twisted plans. I’m thankful for “the God in Heaven who loves us, who yearns for us, and who gives us the freedom of forgiveness and truth.”

Not to Deny Self, but to Be Like Christ

There once was a time when I thought self-denial was noble and I marveled at the monastic life. However, looking back, I see a lot of selfishness in my motives. I wanted to deny self, not for God or others, but for my own sake; to make myself better. Below, Warfield calls us to pattern our lives after Jesus and his self-sacrifice, as “we are no longer are own, but we are bought with the price of his precious blood”:

“…Our self-abnegation is thus not for our own sake, but for the sake of others. And thus it is not to mere self-denial that Christ calls us, but specifically to self-sacrifice: not to unselfing ourselves, but to unselfishing ourselves. Self-denial for its own sake is in its very nature ascetic, monkish. It concentrates our whole attention on self—self-knowledge, self-control—and can therefore eventuate in nothing other than the very apotheosis of selfishness…. Self-denial, then, drives to the cloister; narrows and contracts the soul; murders within us all innocent desires, dries up all the springs of sympathy, and nurses and coddles our self-importance until we grow so great in our own esteem as to be careless of the trials and sufferings, the joys and aspirations, the strivings and failures and successes of our fellow-men. Self-denial, thus understood, will make us cold, hard, unsympathetic,—proud, arrogant, self-esteeming—fanatical, overbearing, cruel. It may make monks and Stoics,—it cannot make Christians.

He [Christ] was led by His love for others into the world, to forget Himself in the needs of others, to sacrifice self once for all upon the altar of sympathy. Self-sacrifice brought Christ into the world. And self-sacrifice will lead us, His followers, not away from but into the midst of men. Wherever men suffer, there will we be to comfort. Wherever men strive, there will we be to help. Wherever men fail, there will we be to uplift. Wherever men succeed, there we will be to rejoice. Self-sacrifice means not indifference to our times and our fellows: it means absorption in them. It means forgetfulness of self in others. It means entering into every man’s hopes and fears, longings and despairs: it means manysidedness of spirit, multiform activity, multiplicity of sympathies. It means richness of development. It means not that we should live one life, but a thousand lives,—binding ourselves to a thousand souls by the filaments of so loving a sympathy that their lives become ours. It means that all the experiences of men shall smite our souls and shall beat and batter these stubborn hearts of ours into fitness for their heavenly home. It is, after all, then, the path to the highest possible development, by which alone we can be made truly men.” —“Imitating the Incarnation,” B.B. Warfield.

Father, Help Me To…

Prayer by Bryan Jeffery Leech

Father, help me to TALK like a Christian:

to speak in such a way that I build up another person’s confidence in himself, instead of tearing down his reputation.

Father, help me to DRIVE like a Christian:

to be watchful and careful lest I cause harm to someone else on the highways.

Father, help me to GIVE like a Christian:

without thought of return, without anyone knowing what I do, and with Your approval as sufficient reward.

Father, help me to DRESS like a Christian:

by not attracting attention to myself for being too fashionable or too causal; and help me to show by my appearance that I want people to know me for what I am inside myself.

Father, help me to SLEEP like a Christian:

at peace with myself because sin is forgiven; and at peace with others because I do not allow my anger to last through a day.

Father, help me to EAT like a Christian:

to eat healthily, to eat moderately, to eat gratefully, giving thanks to You who provide my food, and for the one who prepares my food.

Father, KEEP ME from being so pious that I keep You out of the practical areas of life. Be with me when I am alone, and when I shed my inhibitions, lest in those moments I cancel out all that I seem to be when I’m on my best behavior.

Father, I ASK THIS because I follow a Master who was never guilty of the slightest wrong-doing, and who always showed His love in the small details of living. Amen.

Our Bedraggled and Muddy Condition

This book is rocking my world right now. Thanks to my dear friend, Marilyn, for sending it “just because:”

“Poor Much-Afraid, who knew that she had been slipping and stumbling in the most dreadful way, indeed worse than at any other time, flushed painfully all over her face. She said nothing, only looked at [the Shepherd] almost reproachfully.

“Much-Afraid,” said he very gently in answer to that look, “don’t you know by now that I never think of you as you are now but as you will be when I have brought you to the Kingdom of Love and have washed you from all the stains and defilements of the journey? If I come along behind you and notice that you are finding the way especially difficult, and are suffering from slips and falls, it only makes me think of what you will be like when you are with me, leaping and skipping on the High Places.”

Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard

Goal

worthy of christThe leader of a Christian ministry recently said his goal is to be “confessionally rigorous and relationally generous.” The more I thought about it, the more I loved it. So I’ve decided to unashamedly steal it and make that my own personal goal.

Isn’t that what Jesus was like while he lived on this earth? He was immovable in regards to truth and hated sin with a passion. He boldly proclaimed those who ignore the hungry/thirsty will be thrown into eternal fire, he overthrew the moneylenders’ tables in the temple, and fearlessly called the Pharisees hypocrites and liars. Yet Jesus was infinitely compassionate and open with all people. He pursued the tax collectors and prostitutes, he spoke with Nicodemus, a Pharisee, showing no disdain for his association with such a group. Jesus was even “relationally generous” to those tortuously killing Him on a cross: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Really the goal, in other words, is to be like Jesus. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1-2). And amazingly, that’s also God’s goal for us. He’s been faithfully working on it from the beginning through Christ and His Spirit: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God…” (2 Cor. 5:17).