Christian Sayings: I Can Do Everything

But, isn’t “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” in the Bible? Yes, that would be Philippians 4:13. However, many people make it into a motto that means something other than what the Bible means. What’s so bad about that?

Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is.

–A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

God doesn’t make us into superheroes, being able to do everything. The main problem here is that it’s taken out of context and given a meaning that people want it to mean. Scholar Gordon Fee said that the worst thing to happen to the Bible are verse numbers, which weren’t added until many hundreds of years after the canon of Scripture was established.

How can someone have the audacity (great sound editing program by the way) to say that they know what a verse really means? Reading the context often tells us and this is something that I’m still learning I need to do. The NIV translation, as quoted above and by Christians all over the English speaking world, has changed the wording in its updated version, which is quoted below. You can see how this helps to understand that its referring to the previous verses.

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:10-13 NIV

Most agree that this is about not being self-sufficient, but relying on Christ or enabled by him. But instead of doing everything I want to do, it’s about being content in every situation God has us in. I’m guilty of having had verse 13 memorized without the preceding context. I’ve since fixed that. Now quote verse 13 as it is above by itself. It begs you to read what’s before it. Some might say that they over-interpreted this verse, but I like the change.

A secular parallel might be parents who tell their kids (or Oprah or Joel Osteen their audience) that they can do anything they set their minds to. That’s not for this blog, other than I would say, “Really? Have you thought about that carefully for just one minute?” (See 1 Corinthians 12:4, 1 Corinthians 12:29-30, and the whole chapter for a spiritual perspective, as one example. This idea would be logical in a secular sense too.)

As an aside, we see athletes use this verse all the time. Part of the reason they can use it incorrectly is because they’ve been successful and can say that yes, it’s true, we can do everything through God’s strength. What about the 99% of people who tried to become a professional athlete and failed? My aside however, is that people often accuse football quarterback Tim Tebow of misusing this verse, simply because he had it on his ‘eye black’ once in college. But I saw two different interviews with him where he correctly, as far as I understand it, explained what this verse means. You can argue as to whether or not it’s appropriate to put the reference by itself on your face for the cameras to see, but we shouldn’t assume that just because someone is a young athlete and quotes it, that they don’t know what this verse is referring to. I write this because I saw it on a Christian blog. Not being the NFL quarterback that he thought he would be at this time, he’s probably benefiting from knowing what it does mean.

I realize it’s not all black and white, right or wrong. Some people use this verse as a way of acknowledging that it’s God who has enabled them to do some things they never thought they could do. Even if they aren’t looking at the whole passage, their perspective is honoring God. I recently saw this in a video of a young, humble, selfless, obedient missionary, and obviously God wouldn’t be at all displeased with them because of a very minor issue with Scripture–nor should we.

In this series, I would like to offer alternate Scripture where appropriate. I won’t be able to go into that Scripture very much. Much of the time, that could be a separate blog post, or even a book, written by someone else. I may link to other posts if I’ve written about them before (or most likely, quoted somebody smarter than me).

Alternate Scripture (all NIV):

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
Psalm 28:7

Take delight in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

Our desires need to be changed into what God’s will is.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.
1 Timothy 1:12

A particular prayer from a particular person, but the Lord does strengthen us all and chooses good things ahead of time for each of us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

I write the posts in this series with fear and trembling because I know that I’m not perfect, although I’ve yet to make a mistake as far as I know. I hope to pass on things that I’ve learned, and learn more by putting together the posts and hopefully reading any comments. Some may think it’s nitpicking, but I believe that how we handle Scripture and the Lord’s name is extremely important.

(That was a joke about not yet making a mistake. I hate smilies.)

P.S. – most regular readers of this blog, all 13 of you, will already be familiar with many of the things that will be written in this series. I try to add some extra things that might be less widely known. Although you may be surprised at some things that will come up. And I apologize to people like my wife who hate sports and don’t know the difference between a quarterback and an eighthback.

Words with a dotted underline are hoverable on computers or tapable on mobile devices. Like eye black.

Christian Sayings – Ongoing Series

I’m finally starting what I’ve been hinting at for such a long time. Where to begin? Christian sayings, clichés, platitudes, evangelicalisms. This is a start of a series of them. I have made a new category at the right, in case the posts become numerous enough to warrant it.

I’m not giving any away yet. Most are not Biblical. Some have some truth. Some are ways of saying [a] truth, but there aren’t many of those. Some are just annoying little things. I came across a pretty common blog post out there about “What are the most annoying things Christians say?” and I was able to add so many to the original post just off the top of my head that I thought maybe I’d do a series of posts of my own. But this won’t be just listing and making fun of them. Many of us have said them and didn’t realize what we were saying. Many who say them are new Christians and might not be edified by being made fun of. But… well, it just has to be done. So I will offer a post and some videos that do poke fun of some of them; my favorites are below.

I would also like to try to look into why these exist. As far as why human beings in general use sayings, I suppose it’s easier than trying to put things in your own words. It’s also a common way to use kind of a shorthand vocabulary, if the person hearing it understands (see below). With Christians, it can be because of Biblical illiteracy.

I need to explain a little about myself: As far as secular clichés–I’m terrible with them. I still don’t know a lot of them. Sometimes someone will say one that I’ve never heard, even now at 49 years old, I hear one, and I keep asking, “What?” If my wife is with me, she’ll half whisper, “He doesn’t know what that means.” I’m a literal thinker, and not touching something with a ten foot pole (or is it nine yards?) is just weird. Why would you have a ten foot pole, and if you did, why would you not touch something with it? Some of them actually do make sense and are a good way of describing something. Many have interesting origins.

I’m more familiar with Christian sayings, but since the Navigators got me going with Scripture memory and Bible reading early on in college, I always try to say things the way the Bible would, or quote the Bible. But since I don’t like a lot of the Biblish used in English translations, I try to paraphrase a thought or teaching in my own words, as long as I’m confident that I’m doing a good job of it. To me, saying things in our own words shows that we’re thinking on our own. What we’re saying is genuine and meaningful. I never liked following the crowd. We should be conforming to Christ, not each other.

I hope these posts become helpful and that we can use them to think about what we say, how these sayings shape our view of God and how He deals with us, and how we can sharpen each other in developing our theology.

With that in mind, to start off, here are my favorite sources of Christian sayings, or things Christians say, or whatever. The last two are interesting to me because many of the things she says are outside of my vernacular. Many of the things said in the videos are just shorthand, and not necessarily clichés or sayings that I’ll be writing about. So before we think too hard, let’s look at some of the fun stuff.

Do you speak Christianese? | Stuff Christians Like

What Does “Praying in the Holy Spirit” Mean?

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,
Jude 1:20 NIV

Dear friends, use your most holy faith to grow. Pray with the Holy Spirit’s help.
Jude 1:20 GW

Almost all translations render it, “in the [power of the--GNT, NLT] Holy Spirit”.

Praying in the Holy Ghost. Observe, [1.] Prayer is the nurse of faith; the way to build up ourselves in our most holy faith is to continue instant in prayer, Rom 12:12. [2.] Our prayers are then most likely to prevail when we pray in the Holy Ghost, that is, under his guidance and influence, according to the rule of his word, with faith, fervency, and constant persevering [Luke 11:5-10, Luke 18:1-8]; this is praying in the Holy Ghost, whether it be done by or without a set prescribed form.

–Matthew Henry

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:5-6 ESV

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Matthew 21:22 NIV

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Romans 12:12 GW

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
1 John 5:14 NIV

Also see:
God’s Will For You | Scripture Zealot blog

persistence

Owen on Healthy Introspection

Many men live in the dark to themselves all their days; whatever else they know, they know not themselves. They know their outward estates, how rich they are, and the condition of their bodies as to health and sickness they are careful to examine; but as to their inward man, and their principles as to God and eternity, they know little or nothing of themselves. Indeed, few labor to grow wise in this matter, few study themselves as they ought, are acquainted with the evils of their own hearts as they ought; on which yet the whole course of their obedience, and consequently of their eternal condition, does depend. This, therefore, is our wisdom; and it is a needful wisdom, if we have any design to please God, or to avoid that which is a provocation to the eyes of his glory.

–John Owen, The Nature, Power, Deceit, and Prevalency of Indwelling Sin

When I Confess sin, as part of the ACTS (or ATCS in my case–not easy to say as a word) way of prayer, I often ask God to show me sin I’m not aware of. He is merciful in limiting how much he shows me at once. I’m grateful for God’s speaking in this way, because he’s speaking to us, which is a marvelous thing, and it’s one of the ways God works in conforming us to the image of his Son.

Around the Web – April.9.14

This is a long one, so I’ll make it even longer. Many people post these lists every or every-other day. I used to read a lot more blogs and tried to post some noteworthy things before anyone else did. Nowadays, I collect them as I go, and when I have enough, I’ll put up a post. Some of them aren’t anything recent, but just something I came across that I like and think would be helpful and within the subject matter that I usually write about. The J. C. Ryle link would be an example of that, although many of these are a day or two old.

I have more of my own commentary on some of these today. Please only read the ones you’re interested in and don’t spend too much time reading everything.

Baker Book House Church Connection | Coming Soon – “Ordinary” by Michael Horton
A response to “radical” and “crazy” stuff, if you know what I mean. I want to get his current book on Calvin too.

Let's Stop Forgiving Those Who Don't Want Forgiveness | HeadHeartHand Blog
I once read John Stott say that we should only forgive those who ask for forgiveness, otherwise it doesn’t make any sense. At first I was kind of taken aback, because the Bible so often talks about how we are to forgive others. But it made more sense over time. I’m not beyond the point of being open to other opinions, but I think this article explains that position very well. Like the writer of the article, I’m also rather annoyed when a group of people publicly forgives a mass murderer soon after they did something horrible, when they don’t have anything to do with what happened, and there was no forgiveness asked for.

Ten Lessons from a Hospital Bed | Desiring God
This is unique and not full of unrealistically positive ideals. I had an experience in the hospital that was the worst time in my life and I can relate to things that are said.

9 Lessons God Teaches Us Concerning Sickness by J. C. Ryle | Monergism
As for #3, I can assure you he’s not referring to reincarnation.

What about Life Insurance? – Eternal Perspective Ministries

2014 National Conference — Questions and Answers | Ligonier Ministries Blog
I love question and answer sessions by a panel (paneling?). Reformed Alert

Words for the Anxious Soul | Mere Orthodoxy
One of the best shorter treatments of this subject that I’ve seen.

God’s Will For You

We can know God’s will for us. Are we willing to do it?

Sometimes when I’m reviewing memorized Scripture, I go off on (good) tangents, and look into things in some way or another. Today there was a verse with God’s will in it and I thought I would search a popular translation like the NIV to see what comes up. The whole Bible is filled with what God’s will is for us, but I wanted to find some that have those particular words. I found a little more than I thought I would.

Our modern western minds tend to think of God’s will as what God wants us to do in a certain situation. It’s all about me. God’s will as he presents it in Scripture is a little different than that. There are different types of God’s will, but that’s for others to teach. I’m writing about God’s will as revealed in Scripture.

These are all NIV. I added italics.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is true worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

I don’t believe we can take God’s will out of this passage and change it to mean what we’d like, which often ends up being what God wants us to do at a particular point in time. I’m learning that it’s important to be careful to keep the meaning within the context.

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of the foolish. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love your fellow believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:11-17

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
1 Peter 4:19

Suffering is obviously something that’s put on us, not something we choose to do, but continuing to do God’s will while suffering is God’s will, if you’ll allow me to write an intentionally strange sentence.

So with all of this general stuff about God’s will for us, how does he answer us when we ask him things? Psalms are a good place to look for this. It’s really a subject for another post, and probably by someone other than me, but I found this example. I can’t remember why I was looking at the NKJV, but the words chosen fit well. Again, our modern western minds might be disappointed in how Spurgeon doesn’t even touch on how God might answer us specifically in telling us what to do in a particular situation.

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.
Psalms 143:8 NKJV

David is pleading with God to ask Him what he wants him to do in order to be obedient to Him in a way that is right. Psalm 143:10 NKJV says:
Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.

Spurgeon’s commentary on verse 8 is very helpful. If you’re interested in this subject, read the whole Psalm first and notice all of the things David is looking for from God.

“Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”  The Great First Cause must cause us to hear and to know. Spiritual senses are dependent upon God, and heavenly knowledge comes from him alone. To know the way we ought to take is exceedingly needful, for how can we be exact in obedience to a law with which we are not acquainted? or how can there be an ignorant holiness? If we know not the way, how shall we keep in it? If we know not wherein we should walk, how shall we be likely to follow the right path? The Psalmist lifts up his soul; faith is good at a dead lift [was Spurgeon into powerlifting?], the soul that trusts will rise. We will not allow our hope to sink, but we will strive to get up and rise out of our daily griefs. This is wise. When David was in any difficulty as to his way he lifted his soul towards God himself, and then he knew that he could not go very far wrong. If the soul will not rise of itself we must lift it, lift it up unto God. This is good argument in prayer, surely the God to whom we endeavour to lift up our soul will condescend to show us what he would have us to do. Let us attend to David’s example, and when our heart is low, let us heartily endeavour to lift it up, not so much to comfort as to the Lord himself.

Also see:
God’s Will Is Not a Secret | Scripture Zealot blog
Finding God’s Will | Scripture Zealot blog
Praying God’s Will | Scripture Zealot blog

Does God Tempt Us?

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
Genesis 22:1 KJV

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
James 1:13 KJV

I’m reading the second book of the trilogy of Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen titled Of Temptation, [super long rest of the title goes here].

Owen writes this, and if this is hard to understand, don’t worry about it, I didn’t at first either:

[T]emptation in its special nature, as it denotes any evil, is considered either actively, as it leads to evil, or passively, as it has an evil and suffering in it: so temptation is taken for affliction (James 1:2); for in that sense, we are to “count it all joy when we fall into temptation”; in the other [actively], that we “enter not into it.”

Again, actively considered, it either denotes in the tempter a design for the bringing about of the special end of temptation, namely, a leading into evil; so it is said that “God tempts no man” (James 1:13), with a design for sin as such—or the general nature and end of temptation, which is trial; so “God tempted Abraham” (Gen. 22:1). And he proves or tempts by false prophets (Deut. 13:3).

It might be said that we actively sin–sometimes tempted by the devil; we are passive as trials are put on us–sometimes by God (Hebrews 12). If that crude description helps at all. (If it doesn’t, keep reading.)

Then Owen goes on to write about how God tempts people. I’m thinking, This can’t be right. On the flip side, Calvin writes, “But the whole doctrine of scripture seems to be inconsistent with this passage; for it [scripture] teaches us that men are blinded by God, are given up to a reprobate mind, and delivered over to filthy and shameful lusts.”

I know that older translations (up through the ASV) use the word temptations where contemporary translations (approx. RSV onward) will use trials, tested, or troubles in James 1:12. The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) uses the same root word for tempted in Genesis 22:1 as the Greek words in James 1:12-13. So it seems that modern English translators have chosen to make a distinction between verse :12 and :13 where the same root word is used. (Italic added)

Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
James 1:12-13 NIV

If this idea is new to you–and maybe it’s only new to us who read old theologians–you may like to read what John Calvin has to say on this. However, it goes beyond semantics of that word. Calvin writes about the issue of God “giving people over/up” to various sins, like the quote above, as can be found throughout Scripture–repeatedly in Romans 1:24-28 as an example. To a lesser degree, God ordains all kinds of things (Lam 3:37-38). Us modern people seem to emphasize James 1:13 where Calvin is thinking of what is said about God more often in Scripture in that regard.

Let no man, when he is tempted. Here, no doubt, he speaks of another kind of temptation [contra Gen 22:1]. It is abundantly evident that the external temptations, hitherto mentioned, are sent to us by God. In this way God tempted Abraham, (Gen 22:1) and daily tempts us, that is, he tries us as to what are we by laying before us an occasion by which our hearts are made known. But to draw out what is hid in our hearts is a far different thing from inwardly alluring our hearts by wicked lusts.

This above is very similar to what Owen writes. “Inwardly alluring our hearts” would be like Owen’s actively, which God doesn’t do according to James. Trials often contain temptations. God wants to test our hearts and uses them to help us persevere or endure, as James 1:12 says, along with Romans 5:3-4 among others.

When Scripture ascribes blindness or hardness of heart to God, it does not assign to him the beginning of this blindness, nor does it make him the author of sin, so as to ascribe to him the blame: and on these two things only does James dwell.

Scripture asserts that the reprobate are delivered up to depraved lusts; but is it because the Lord depraves or corrupts their hearts? By no means; for their hearts are subjected to depraved lusts, because they are already corrupt and vicious. But since God blinds or hardens, is he not the author or minister of evil? Nay, but in this manner he punishes sins, and renders a just reward to the ungodly, who have refused to be ruled by his Spirit. (Rom 1:26) It hence follows that the origin of sin is not in God, and no blame can be imputed to him as though he took pleasure in evils. (Gen 6:6)

The meaning is, that man in vain evades, who attempts to cast the blame of his vices on God, because every evil proceeds from no other fountain than from the wicked lust of man. And the fact really is, that we are not otherwise led astray, except that every one has his own inclination as his leader and impeller. But that God tempts no one, he proves by this, because he is not tempted with evils* For it is the devil who allures us to sin, and for this reason, because he wholly burns with the mad lust of sinning. But God does not desire what is evil: he is not, therefore, the author of doing evil in us.

*Literally, “untemptable by evils,” that is, not capable of being tempted or seduced by evils, by things wicked and sinful. He is so pure, that he is not influenced by any evil propensities, that he is not subject to any evil suggestions. It hence follows that he tempts or seduces no man to what is sinful. Being himself unassailable by evils, he cannot seduce others to what is evil. As God cannot be tempted to do what is sinful, he cannot possibly tempt others to sin. The words may thus be rendered, —

James 1:13 “Let no one, when seduced, say, ‘By God I am seduced;’ for God is not capable of being seduced by evils, and he himself seduceth no one.”

I hope my own commentary wasn’t inaccurate and didn’t cause any confusion. I wanted to convey how I came to start to have some sort of an understanding of this. I will hopefully understand more as I read more of the book and Scripture. Clarifications and observations are always welcome.

Quotes on Mortification of Sin and Sanctification

I’m reading Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen (edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor) which is three books in one. I just finished the first one which is originally titled Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers.

As written in a previous post, this isn’t a book I’d choose according to the title, but I want to read Owen’s works, and after reading The Glory of Christ, I chose this one next because of all of the accolades this has received. It’s a more difficult read than The Glory of Christ, but it’s extremely important material and not written about very much. I’ve found it fascinating and vital to life as a Christian, being such an important part of sanctification. To repeat a quote of Owen’s, “The vigor, and power, and comfort of our spiritual life depends on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh.”

Owen sees mortification of sin as “a habitual weakening of sin” as opposed to elimination or perfection, although that could be done with various sins like using profanity, or constantly using the word “just” while praying publicly. Maybe the latter isn’t a sin, but it should be.

I’m not sure how helpful my notes would be on this, but I have three quotes from the Introduction that are all on the same subject, so I thought I would post them:

God’s working in us [in sanctification] is not suspended because we work, nor our working suspended because God works. Neither is the relation strictly one of co-operation as if God did his part and we did ours so that the conjunction or coordination of both produced the required result. God works in us and we also work. But the relation is that because God works we work.

–John Murray, Redemption, Accomplished and Applied, as seen in the Introduction to Overcoming Sin and Temptation

Immediately following:

Owen’s own view is similar, seeing sanctification as the work of God in and through the life of the believer. This is not passivity, but active living empowered by the Spirit of life.

–Kelly Kapic in the Introduction to Overcoming Sin and Temptation

Two concepts commonly appear in early Reformed approaches to sanctification: mortification and vivification. Building on the language and imagery of Colossians 3:9-10, the idea of mortification was understood as a putting off of the “old man,” and vivification was conceived as the reality of being made alive by the Spirit. Although the actual language of “vivification” is found less often in Owen than in earlier theologians like John Calvin or the renowned Puritan Thomas Goodwin, the idea is clearly present. These twin ideas of sanctification require not only the shedding of sin but also renewal in grace.

–Kelly Kapic in the Introduction to Overcoming Sin and Temptation

Repost: Free or Low Cost eBooks

Since e-readers have come out, Amazon’s newer Paperwhite being one of many, and I learned about all of the low cost or free ebooks out there, I’ve thought that someone could have a very large virtual library for the cost of a few books for the e-reader of their choice. Then they can build a huge library of free Puritan books and find other books for a dollar or so. Gospel eBooks is also on the lookout for quality Christian books–mostly current–that are $5 or less, all the way down to free.

When I remember, I have been collecting lost cost books I come across in a board on Pinterest. There are some Bibles, some Puritan books and some current books that seem to always be at a low price. I can’t guarantee the price shown on the board is the same as what they currently are on Amazon. I tried to weed out some of the ones that have gone back up in price.

If you’re unfamiliar:

Puritan Library has hundreds of free books in ePub and Kindle format.

calibre – E-book management is a good way to manage your books on your computer.

Goodreads is a service for cataloging books online.

Around the Web – March.25.14

It’s been a week since I blogged. Sometimes I’m full of it and sometimes I’m empty. I have a trio of productivity links today.

Memorizing God’s Word: Colossians – I’m contemplating this. I’ve never memorized more than a half of a chapter in the NT, so this would be quite a challenge at this point. Since I plan on studying Colossians for some time, it might be beneficial.

The Gentle Temeraire – Reformation21 Blog – J.I. Packer still has it

2014 National Conference — Audio and Video Now Available | Ligonier Ministries Blog

Stopping Suicide

8 Ways to Get More Done This Week | Challies Dot Com

7 Time Management Strategies From Some Brilliant Teenage Prodigies | Fast Company

Use These Daily Routines of 7 Famous Entrepreneurs To Create Your Own Routine

Spurgeon on Psalm 116:8

I often miss the spiritual meaning in Scripture. Death here can refer to that, possibly in addition to also being delivered from human enemies. I see it more readily now than I used to. Reading commentaries has helped me a lot with this.

I had a great time reading the first half of Psalm 116 today, which is one of my favorites. At least I thought it was, because I had the title highlighted. But in the past the Holy Spirit hadn’t opened up my eyes to nearly the amount of things I learned today. I spent some time looking at dead white guy commentaries, and this is one of the many gems I found.

For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.” [Psalm 116:8] The triune God has given us a trinity of deliverances: our life has been spared from the grave, our heart has been uplifted from its griefs, and our course in life has been preserved from dishonour. We ought not to be satisfied unless we are conscious of all three of these deliverances. If our soul has been saved from death, why do we weep? What cause for sorrow remains? Whence those tears? And if our tears have been wiped away, can we endure to fall again into sin? Let us not rest unless with steady feet we pursue the path of the upright, escaping every snare and shunning every stumblingblock. Salvation, joy, and holiness must go together, and they are all provided for us in the covenant of grace. Death is vanquished, tears are dried, and fears are banished when the Lord is near.

–C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David

The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5b

Scripture Enlightening Scripture – Fear of the Lord and Wisdom

Reading and meditating on Psalm 111, which contains verse 10a:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom

may help with learning more about Proverbs 9:10, which says the same thing, along with Job 28:28. Without acknowledging, praising Him for and obeying the things written there, we will not acquire wisdom.

The fear of the Lord, including reverencing him for his spectacular works and righteous character, is the beginning–being both the foundation, and the principal or chief–of wisdom (Henry Smith–paraphrased).

C.H. Spurgeon, who wrote The Treasury of David, in the introduction to this Psalm, writes:

Many are ignorant of what their Creator has done, and hence they are foolish in heart, and silent as to the praises of God: this evil can only be removed by a remembrance of God’s works, and a diligent study of them; to this, therefore, the psalm is meant to arouse us.

Matthew Henry comments on this verse in Psalms:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is not only reasonable that we should fear God, because his name is reverend and his nature is holy, but it is advantageous to us. It is wisdom; it will direct us to speak and act as becomes us, in a consistency with ourselves, and for our own benefit. It is the head of wisdom, that is (as we read it), it is the beginning of wisdom. Men can never begin to be wise till they begin to fear God; all true wisdom takes its rise from true religion, and has its foundation in it. Or, as some understand it, it is the chief wisdom, and the most excellent, the first in dignity. It is the principal wisdom, and the principal of wisdom, to worship God and give honour to him as our Father and Master. Those manage well who always act under the government of his holy fear.

Keil and Delitzsch:

The fear of Jahve, this holy and terrible God, is the beginning of wisdom – the motto of the Chokma in Job (Job 28:28) and Proverbs (Pro 1:7; Pro 9:10), the Books of the Chokma. Psalm 111:10 goes on in this Proverbs-like strain: the fear of God, which manifests itself in obedience, is to those who practise them (the divine precepts, פקודים) שֶׂכֶל טֹּוב (Pro 13:15; Pro 3:4, cf. 2 Chr 30:22), a fine sagacity, praiseworthy discernment – such a (dutiful) one partakes of everlasting praise.

After having heard it all, this is the conclusion: Fear God, and keep his commands, because this applies to everyone.
Ecclesiastes 12:13

The Lord gives wisdom.
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:6

Around the Web – March.14.14

Baker Book House Church Connection | Don’t Be Afraid to Pray Like Paul – A Note on Ephesians 1:17 – A long time ago I compared my prayers to Paul’s and noticed quite a difference. For some, this can completely transform their praying. Also see Complete List of Paul's Prayers on this here blog.

Evangelical Housekeeping – Reformation21 Blog – What a mess and a struggle.

Free eBook The Scarlet Thread Through The Bible by W.A. Criswell – The Gospel Project

Reformation21 » Why Read Owen

Academic theology runs the risk of becoming a detached intellectual exercise, while pastoral ministry may lapse into an endless list of tasks without the needed times of reflection which are necessary to rightly frame one’s ministry. But the best pastors and theologians throughout the history of the Church have consistently rejected pitting these two against one another, instead seeing that theology and life are inseparable. To put it another way, if we detach our theology from our ethics, our dogmatics become lifeless and our ethics become groundless. Owen serves as a wonderful example of someone who always pushes us to avoid such a false dichotomy.

The road to joy – Reformation21 Blog

Our sense of the blessings of God is grounded not just in what we have been saved to but also in what we have been saved from. So our appreciation of the blessings in Christ are in large measure proportionate to our sense of the curse from which he has delivered us. The joy of sins forgiven will be commensurate with our grief at sins committed. Our delight in peace with God will hinge in large part on our sense that we have been at enmity with him. We will most appreciate being called sons of God when we recognise that we were by nature children of wrath. It is because our flesh and heart fail that there is sweetest relief in an unfailing God as the rock of our hearts and our portion forever.

500px / Creation – I searched for Creation at 500px and it brought up some very interesting photos and illustrations

Why Read Owen’s Books On Sin?

As far as the title goes, John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation, which is three books in one, wouldn’t be my first choice. But so many people have recommended it, and since I want to read a few more books by him, I decided this would be one of them. Here is a quote near the beginning of the first book that really compels me to read the rest:

The vigor, and power, and comfort of our spiritual life depends on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh.

For some reason, that was a bit of a surprise.

Puritan Prayer For The Week

Here are portions of a Puritan prayer I thought would be nice to start off the week if you’re reading it on a Monday, or whenever you happen to see this. It’s from God Honoured in The Valley of Vision:

Praise waiteth for thee,
and to render it is my noblest exercise;
this is thy due from all thy creatures,
for all thy works display thy attributes
and fulfill thy designs;

May my religion be always firmly rooted in thy Word,
my understanding divinely informed,
my affections holy and heavenly,
my motives simple and pure,
and my heart never wrong with thee.

Deliver me from the natural darkness of my own mind,
from the corruptions of my heart,
from the temptations to which I am exposed,
from the daily snares that attend me.

Until I finish my course with joy may I pursue it with diligence,
in every part display the resources of the Christian,
and adorn the doctrine of thee my God in all things.