Thursday’s are for pastors. This morning I read through Chapter 2 of Spurgeon’s All Around Ministry. There was much to glean, but I will mention just a couple of items. “Couple” means two! Even though when I use that word out and about I hear some ask in response, how many? I say “two” “a couple!” So here are a couple of things:
1. Pastor’s take heart that you will never arrive in preaching. Spurgeon puts it this way,
“If there is a brother…who thinks he can preach as well as he should, I would advise him to leave off altogether. If he did so, he would be acting as wisely as the great painter who broke his palette, and, turning to his wife said, ‘My painting days are over, for I have satisfied myself, and therefore I am sure my power is gone.’”
Lloyd-Jones says in a similar way somewhere that it is each time we go up to preach that we go up hoping that we will actually do so. Our lives and ministries are largely attempts to preach, and we really never arrive. It can always be improved. so make efforts to do so.
2. Pastor’s take holiness as a chief matter. A man is too full of the Holy Spirit is never said by anyone, ever. We are not talking mere morality, but putting off Adam and putting on Christ–both! Spurgeon says, “holiness is life.” If you fail in other things, don’t fail in this! You must on one hand know where Adam has left you, but on the other hand, know where the Spirit has placed you. Similarly to never arriving at preaching, we shall never arrive in this area. Spurgeon aptly says,
“Saints of sixty years’ experience, who have walked with him every day, think they know him; but they are only beginning to know him yet. The perfect spirits before the throne, who have been for five thousand years perpetually adoring him, perhaps think they know him, but they do not to the full. ‘No man knoweth the Son, but the Father.’ He is so glorious that only infinite God has full knowledge of him, therefore there will be no limit to our study, or narrowness in our line of thought, if we make our Lord the great object of all our thoughts and researches.”
I dedicate Wednesdays largely to homeschoolers and homemakers. I’d like to take a moment to highlight the neglected part of Pilgrim’s Progress which is called Part 2 in Bunyan’s book. Christiana is Christian’s wife who did not go with him on his Christian pilgrimage until after his going to the Celestial City. It has set in now that she should have and she and her children go on to take up their cross to follow the Lord in their own time and way. The allegory is a great lesson to be read especially by women, to perhaps encourage them not to delay long in having their own faith and leading their children in the same.
A few observations from the beginning of the book:
First, Christiana and her four boys come to faith in Christ differently than Pilgrim. They have no burden except they did not follow their husband sooner in the faith. Speaking to women who have godly husbands, it will be a great regret to any who delay in following good men who follow Jesus.
“ Then said she to her children, Sons, we are all undone. I have sinned away your father, and he is gone: he would have had us with him, but I would not go myself: I also have hindered you of life. With that the boys fell into tears, and cried out to go after their father. Oh, said Christiana, that it had been but our lot to go with him! then had it fared well with us, beyond what it is like to do now. For, though I formerly foolishly imagined, concerning the troubles of your father, that they proceeded of a foolish fancy that he had, or for that he was overrun with melancholy humors; yet now it will not out of my mind, but that they sprang from another cause; to wit, for that the light of life was given him, James 1:23-25; John 8:12; by the help of which, as I perceive, he has escaped the snares of death. Prov. 14:27. Then they all wept again, and cried out, Oh, woe worth the day!”
Second, and thankfully there is even grace for the failure to follow quickly, and peace comes to the wife here who realizes her mistake and looks to God late.
“ Next morning, when she was up, had prayed to God, and talked with her children a while, one knocked hard at the door; to whom she spake out, saying, “If thou comest in God’s name, come in.” So he said, “Amen;” and opened the door, and saluted her with, “Peace be to this house.” The which when he had done, he said, “Christiana, knowest thou wherefore I am come?” Then she blushed and trembled; also her heart began to wax warm with desires to know from whence he came, and what was his errand to her. So he said unto her, “My name is Secret; I dwell with those that are on high. It is talked of where I dwell as if thou hadst a desire to go thither: also there is a report that thou art aware of the evil thou hast formerly done to thy husband, in hardening of thy heart against his way, and in keeping of these babes in their ignorance. Christiana, the Merciful One has sent me to tell thee, that he is a God ready to forgive, and that he taketh delight to multiply the pardon of offences. He also would have thee to know, that he inviteth thee to come into his presence, to his table, and that he will feed thee with the fat of his house, and with the heritage of Jacob thy father.
“There is Christian, thy husband that was, with legions more, his companions, ever beholding that face that doth minister life to beholders; and they will all be glad when they shall hear the sound of thy feet step over thy Father’s threshold.””
Third, Christiana, the wife and mother still had to take her own journey, she and her children. The bitter must come before the sweet before all. We must all enter the kingdom through many tribulations. She must not merely follow her husband, but Christ, for herself! Her husband was but a gift to show her the way. So, whether alive or having gone on, husbands are responsible to leave a legacy of faith for their families. This comes by us following Christ so they can see what it means to follow Christ. Christiana and her children will go through the same places Pilgrim did in the journey, but not without being informed, making in some way their way much easier than his.
“Christiana at this was greatly abashed in herself, and bowed her head to the ground. This visitor proceeded, and said, “Christiana, here is also a letter for thee, which I have brought from thy husband’s King.” So she took it, and opened it, but it smelt after the manner of the best perfume. Song 1:3. Also it was written in letters of gold. The contents of the letter were these, That the King would have her to do as did Christian her husband; for that was the way to come to his city, and to dwell in his presence with joy for ever. At this the good woman was quite overcome; so she cried out to her visitor, Sir, will you carry me and my children with you, that we also may go and worship the King?
Then said the visitor, Christiana, the bitter is before the sweet. Thou must through troubles, as did he that went before thee, enter this Celestial City. Wherefore I advise thee to do as did Christian thy husband: go to the Wicket-gate yonder, over the plain, for that stands at the head of the way up which thou must go; and I wish thee all good speed. Also I advise that thou put this letter in thy bosom, that thou read therein to thyself and to thy children until you have got it by heart; for it is one of the songs that thou must sing while thou art in this house of thy pilgrimage, Psalm 119:54; also this thou must deliver in at the further gate.”
So, there you have it for today, that Christiana’s pilgrimage is worth some thought to avoid regret, to enjoy grace to go forward, and to give thanks for some who give direction to their wives or have left a legacy on how to follow Jesus.
It’s Science Tuesday. I recently learned of Túngara frogs. The May-June 2019 edition of Answers Magazine includes a brief story on p.20 called, “Cosmopolitan Croakers.” Scientists noticed that these frogs living in the city versus the same living in the country had different mating calls. It turns out the city frogs have a more complex mating call, that if used in the country would get them killed! The country frogs know better! It appears that God has put it into these frogs to adapt to their environments. We shouldn’t be surprised. As the author concludes however, “Frogs remain frogs, even when they put on airs and get all citified.”
Today is media Saturday. I recall hearing at one time John MacArthur Jr. speaking of not watching TV but watching programs. The difference is intentionality. Watching TV means flipping through channel after channel and watching programs means you go to a watch something specifically with intention.
This becomes very relevant when taking on the host of media options we have today. No longer are we tempted to simply watch TV, but now the internet on Facebook, and particularly streaming channels which post up a host of advertising that one cannot avoid.
That is my intention to mention today, namely the issue of streaming products that place advertising before the viewer that cannot be avoided. At times, the advertising is palatable, but at other times the views of horrific pictures or sexually seductive have no place in the Christian’s life and home.
In today’s Spurgeon devotion I read: “There is no moment of our life, however holy, in which we can do without His constant upholding.” True. And if that is true when things are holy, what about when things are utterly dark and unholy?
Recently, I was using a Roku streaming device where the pictures on the right column became increasingly offensive and horrific. I realized this stuff can’t be before my children’s eyes. Prior to this there were some images that I tolerated not only on Roku, but on PureFlix. It was not just on secular programming but on so called Christian programming that sexually seductive pictures were put up. To give Pureflix credit, after writing them they changed the feature film that kept coming up, that I complained about. Nonetheless, the point is that we cannot control what is going to come up on streaming devices in ads, unless those streaming devices give us the freedom to choose not only the channels we want, but the programs without ads. I trust there are some streaming devices that may have this or will. But to be sure, there is much liability to have ads coming up that we cannot control, where we are tempted more and more to view things we never agreed to view. The difference is between watching TV versus watching programs. I prefer the latter.
Besides, one must ask the question: Who’s in control? The remote or you?
It’s Flavel and Fishing Friday.
First, I did get chance to do a little fishing this week. We caught some spot. Spot fish are easily confused with pinfish and pigfish. They may be thrown back in, as I was about to do, but a fellow fisherman pointed out they were indeed spot. It’s tricky because I have seen some with similar markings. However, after studying them a bit one can identify the stripes are quite different on the side, and of course the distinct spot mark. They are said to be pretty tasty; and are of the panfish variety. Nonetheless, I have mine in the fridge ready to cook and will have to report back at a later time.
Now, I was very pleasantly encouraged to be reading through John Flavel’s works to come across not merely one, but two sermons falling within the very text I am preparing to preach on this Sunday. Sometimes the joy of reading simply intersects the work of the ministry; and it is probably best that it does. In pastor Flavel’s sermon #30 in the Method of Grace he gives eight patterns (though he promised ten) of Christ that ought to be followed. Here they are in brief:
5. Delight in God
The text is 1 John 2:6, and I am preaching on 1 John 2:3–6 this Sunday. I covet your prayers and hope those of you planning to attend will make every effort to be there and bring others. The Lord be praised!