Ink and Pen

In his commentary on Hebrews R. Kent Hughes refers to A History of Preaching in Britain and America, a work by F.R. Webber. According to Hughes, Webber “tells us that one of the curious by-products of the Awakening was the sudden interest in shorthand.”

Men and women studied shorthand in order that they might take down the sermons that were stirring the English speaking countries. This had happened once before in Scotland, and it made its appearance once more in all countries where the influence of the Awakening was felt. It was not unusual to see men with a portable inkwell strapped about them, and a quill pen thrust over and ear, hastening to join the throng assembling on the village green.

Few come with an attitude of an uninterested, but invested student who takes notes because they need to take them. Many come to church as they would the movies, “I hope this is entertaining!” There is a medium that seems to be reflected in the paragraph quoted above; i.e. an earnest, joyful seriousness that anticipates the preaching of God’s word demonstrated by note-taking. While note-taking is no definitive mark of the Spirit, it may say something about our attitude toward the Bible and preaching.

Isaiah 40:6-31 & Wait

A span is the distance from your thumb to you little finger with you fingers spread out. My span is less than the official figure of 9-10 inches coming in at 8.5, my shoe size. I am curious if there is a correlation between your personal span size and your shoe size.

I measure picture frames, where to put a nail in the wall, and shelf space in spans. God marked off the heavens in a span!

It seems in recent decades that God is enjoying keeping the astronomers on the edge of their seats with new glimpses of his power. In the fall of 1989, newspapers reported the discovery by two Harvard astronomers of a “Great Wall” of galaxies stretching hundreds of millions of light years across the known universe. The wall is supposedly some five hundred million light years long, two hundred million light years wide and fifteen million light years thick. In case your high school astronomy has grown fuzzy, a light year is a little less than six trillion (6,000,000,000,000) miles. This Great Wall consists of more than fifteen thousand galaxies, each with millions of stars, and was described as the “largest single coherent structure seen so far in nature.”

I say “was described” because three months later in February 1990, God opened another little window for tiny man to marvel again, and the newspapers reported that astronomers have discovered more than a dozen evenly distributed clumps of galaxies stretching across vast expanses of the heavens, suggesting a structure to the universe that is so regular and immense that it defies current theories of cosmic origins. The newly found pattern of galactic matter dwarfs the extremely long sheet of galaxies, dubbed the “great wall” (now written without caps!), that was reported in November 1989 to be the largest structure in the universe. They now say the great wall is, in fact, merely one of the closest of these clumps, or regions, that contain very high concentrations of galaxies.  – John Piper in The Pleasures of God

The “great walls” are all contained within a span and are all packed full of stars which God knows by name. If he so easily created them, knows them, names them, sustains them, be comforted, wait, He is able.

If His promises and comforts sound too good to be true, Behold your God, He is mighty to save.

[youtube.com/watch?v=FpGmm244N8M]

(I had to search for a video that seemed to have genuine Hubble images, non-X-Files/Contact music, and with the absence of an alien life form agenda.  Alas a testimony to our depravity that we look to the stars and think of aliens rather than the majesty of God.)

Easter Comfort

John Piper’s son Abraham lost their baby girl Felicity in September 07. 

Here is the story.

Here is a poem.

Here is Grandpa John’s funeral comments.

And here is Abraham’s Easter poem of hope.

Bethany and I have found comfort here.  More than anywhere else I have found comfort in the crucified and risen Christ, and here are the two linked together beautifully.

Isaiah 40:1-5 & Sanju Bhagat

Sanju was 36 years old when he finally decided it was time to take his abnormal belly to the doctors. It wasn’t until he started having trouble breathing that he decided something may be wrong.  Gallons of fluid were drained from the belly, the doc reaches in and finds a hand – it is Sanju’s twin! He had carried his twin inside of him for 36 years.

You must realize you are sick before you get better.

Conviction comes first then comfort.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a doctor turned preacher who was a master spiritual diagnostician. Of persons who seek the joy without the proper prerequisites he said:

Indeed the real trouble with the miserable Christian is that he has never been truly made miserable because of conviction of sin. He has by-passed the essential preliminary to joy, he has been assuming something that he has no right to assume.

Too often we want the comfort. We put off the surgery, deluding ourselves that the pain and scars are not there, or at least not that serious. “They can wait, its not that bad yet.” Sin is a toxic cancer that first deadens our perception; the wounds are always deeper than we think. “I’m getting better, progressing, feeling stronger – I will be on top soon,” we say to ourselves. The sickness grows.

Only a miracle of grace can awaken us from the deadly sleep of sin. God offers a covenant of comfort. He speaks tenderly. He pardons. The payment for our surgery has been paid, with an all sufficient currency. The most precious commodity in the universe, the blood of Christ is the ransom and the remedy; it both buys and cleans.

The Great Physician is always on call.

Isaiah 35 & VHS

Bethany and I still have some VHS movies even though we got rid of both of our VHS players. This was an attempt on my part to ensure that I will never have to watch Ann of Green Gables again – I have told her that I will buy the set for her on DVD…? Imagine 30 years ago when VHS came out if someone then said, “I’m not buying any of those, I’m holding out for DVDs.””What are DVD’s ?”

“They are what is to come, and they will be superior. I’m going to save all the money that I would spend on VHS and one day, when DVD first comes out, I will have all the movies that you have in a superior format; I will also watch them on a flat screen!”

People might think you odd. They might think you are missing out on watching and enjoying some great films. At times you are weak. VHS players and tapes get cheaper. Maybe just one or two, after all you have been saving all this time and you can certainly afford it. But you hold out preaching, “DVD will come, repent of your VHS ways, sell them now, and save in the hope of the great DVD.”

The wait is worth it. Do not settle for the worlds cheap imitations. “Be strong; fear not! Behold your God will come…”

The sights and sounds of heaven are better than the world’s entertainment.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.- Jim Elliot

Isaiah 20 & Naked

This is the powerful poem by Karsten Piper that I read a few weeks ago when we journeyed through Isaiah 20.

Luke 18:25 by Karsten Piper

He spread his blanket on the sand,
kneeled and arranged his bowls and tools:
hook, mallet, clamp, chisel, rasp, razor.

His smile glinted in the rongeur’s claws,
and upside down in the curette’s spoon.
Light shone out of the needle’s eye.

“Hoosh,” he said and began plucking hairs,
paring calluses, shearing wool, shaving
to the follicles, cutting to the quick.

He sorted these, trimming skin with skin,
hair with hair, into rows of clay bowls,
and set a large basin to catch each sour drip

as he sliced the hide and used both fists
to yank back the whole stubbled, gray pelt,
as wet and red on its underside as afterbirth.

He piled this heavily away, draping it
in clean linen, and turned to the meat and bone
heaving under sheer, tight membrane.

Sawteeth chewed into femur, rib and shoulder.
Pliers twisted and wrenched away tendons
until everything softened, canted, and collapsed-

yet not one sliver dies. Each ribbon and shard
bawls for the horror and hurt of their missing,
wishing for the old braying wholeness.

Pain bloodies evening and morning,
stabbing day after day from even the first cuts,
like the slow light of far stars.

Eyeballs and heart float alone in the last bowl,
dark and defenseless, quavering when he leans down
and they recognize in his eyes how little is left.

“Easy now, Camel,” he says and lifts me
in his fingertips, one quivering strand at a time,
through the eye of the needle.

HT: Desiring God