A Letter to Elijah

ElijahDisclaimer: I do not believe there is a heavenly post from here to heaven. I don’t expect God to act as my mail boy. I don’t anticipate with hope the opportunity to say these things. My hope is much bigger; so much so that this little letter will one day seem trite. This letter was simply my way of grieving and expressing my faith. [Added 11.2.17]

Elijah,

Your name means “Yahweh is God”. Our firstborn son, this was our prayer for your life. We named you after the mighty prophet who proclaimed “O Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word.” (1 Kings 18:36) Elijah, we asked God that your life would proclaim the supremacy of Jesus above all the gods of this age; this age that is filled with just as many false contenders for the glory that belongs to Christ alone. Our Everlasting Father works His wisdom in the most mysterious of ways. Elijah, you are a mighty prophet. Your precious life has more powerfully declared the sovereignty and majesty of God than we could have ever imagined. He has magnified His great name in you son, we are so proud of you. You have taught your parents so much about our great Father. Elijah you have preached:

  1. That the fountain of grace flowing from Emmanuel’s veins is the most satisfying flow. The deepest pain finds relief and comfort at the wounded hands of the gentle Shepherd.
  2. That we are pilgrims in this life. For there to be joy mingled with such sorrow is evidence that the presence of God is where all our hearts desires find their fullest satisfaction.
  3. You have made us aware of the depths of the Father’s love as His Son testified that the Father “so loved us that He gave His one and only Son.”
  4. Elijah, most precious to us, you have testified that the sovereignty of God over all things is good. Your almighty Father has made His sovereignty taste sweet to us.

Yahweh gave, and Yahweh has taken away; blessed be the name of Yahweh.
—Job 1:21 (ESV)

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in Yahweh; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Yahweh, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.
—Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ESV)

When the righteous cry for help, Yahweh hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. Yahweh is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but Yahweh delivers him out of them all.
—Psalm 34:17-19 (ESV)

Oh, taste and see that Yahweh is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
—Psalm 34:8 (ESV)

Thank you, dear son, for being the instrument of Yahweh to deliver such a powerful sermon. Your legacy for all eternity will be “Yahweh is God”.

Tolle Lege: Family Driven Faith

Parents (I pray some of you read this blog),

I am so excited and scared about this parenting gig I am about to take up. I immediately began looking for books from trusted sources to disciple me in the task. I was overjoyed when I saw that Voddie had written a book on the family. I first heard Voddie at One Day 2000. The message from Isaiah 1 powerfully stuck in my head, I can still remember parts of it, and made sure to purchase the DVD so I could listen to it again. I have grown to respect him more, and exponentially so after reading his book Family Driven Faith. I would highly recommend it to all parents, not because I am an expert, but because I was deeply nourished. Voddie is a biblically convicted man with a biblically convicting message. He is humbling because he is humble as he expounds the word, revealing his own faults and failures. He knows how to make the word of God both sting and sing. Here are a few excerpts from the introduction to give you a feel for the direction of the book.

Our children are not falling away because the church is doing a poor job-although that is undoubtedly a factor. Our children are falling away because we are asking the church to do what God designed the family to accomplish. Discipleship and multi-generational faithfulness begins and ends at home. At best, the church is to play a supporting role as it “equips the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12, esv).

This book is an effort to put the ball back in the family’s court and to motivate, correct, encourage, and equip families to do what God commands concerning the next generation.

Great Questions Concerning Mood Worship

Greg Gilbert has some great questions that go along with the last post.  Powerfully convicting.

– Do you get bored when someone reads a longish passage of Scripture in your church? Do you start wishing they’d get on with the music?

– Do you need music playing in the background for the reading of Scripture to affect your emotions?

– Does a prayer seem too “plain” or “stark” to you if it doesn’t have music playing behind it?

– Do you feel depressed a few weeks after a worship conference because you haven’t felt close to God in a long time?

– Do you desperately look forward to the next conference you’re going to attend because you know that, finally, you’ll be able to feel close to God again?

– If you’re in a big church with great music, are you able to worship when you visit your parents’ small rural church?

– Do you ever feel worshipful in the middle of the week, at work, at school, etc. just because of thinking about God and his grace? Or does that only happen when the music’s playing?

– Do you tend to feel closer to God when you’re alone with your iPOD than you do when you’re gathered with God’s people in your church?

– Do you feel like you just can’t connect with other believers who haven’t had the same “worship experiences” that you have? Can you only connect with other believers who “know what it feels like to really worship?”

– Is your sense of spiritual well-being based more on feeling close to God, or knowing that you are close to God because of Jesus Christ?

HT: Between Two Worlds

Isaiah 12 & “Loud Noises!”

Name that movie:

Brian Fantana: [shouting] …they don’t belong in the newsroom!

Champ Kind: [shouting] It is anchor*man*, not anchor*lady*! And that is a scientific fact.

Brick Tamland: [shouting] I don’t know what we’re yelling about!

Brian Fantana: You’re with us, Ron, what do you think?

Ron Burgundy: [shouting] She… She… It’s terrible! She has beautiful eyes, and her hair smells like cinnamon!

Brick Tamland: [shouts] Loud noises!

How often is our worship generated simply by mood?  We aren’t necessarily grasping truth, just simply going with the flow of the service be it somber or exuberant.  I do think worship should be contagious.  I do think mood is important, even essential in a sense, but it is not the place we start.

The song of the redeemed in Isaiah 12 is born out of truths:

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.

Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.

Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel

The truth of who God is generates our worship.  Too often we simply want an experience.  We don’t want to think, we just want to feel.  Merely seeking a feeling is self-centered.  However if I must start with God, thinking properly about Him, and responding prperly in emotion and action this becomes God glorifying.  Think then feel, or as Driscoll says:

Theology→Doxology→Biography

“I don’t know why I’m singing…I don’t know why I’m crying…I don’t know why I’m so happy…I don’t know why I’m raising my hands…LOUD NOISES!  Wahoo!  I am clueless…but it sure feels good!”

Isaiah 11:1-11 & “Simon Sweeps?!”

Yes, I watch American Idol. But mostly to see the disasters; alas, the fun part of American Idol has now ceased. Last night a horrible singer throws glitter and flowers out of his pocket to woo ‘the ladies’ leaving a mess to be cleaned up. Simon asks for Ryan to come in and clean it up. He tells the stage hand to wait for Ryan.  Ryan enters, is a bit patronizing, and shrugs off the duty. So Simon takes the broom, and although he has no clue how to use it, attempts to dispose of the sparkly carnage. After being informed that the cameras are now off he quickly gives the broom back to the stage hand.

Ever notice someone higher than you do work that you thought you were above?

Jesus came as a humble shoot from a stump. He came a servant to give his life as a ransom (Matthew 20:28).

Frustratingly I cannot remember where I read it much more poetically stated that:

Once Christ has humbled himself, how can man ever be prideful?

Edwards quotes

Here are the quotes I used, and many I simply alluded to in last nights biographical lecture on Edwards.

From about that time, I began to have a new kind of apprehensions and ideas of Christ, and the work of redemption, and the glorious way of salvation by him. An inward sweet sense of these things, at times, came into my heart; and my soul was led away in pleasant views and contemplations of them. And my mind was greatly engaged to spend my time in reading and meditating on Christ, on the beauty and excellency in his person and the lovely way of salvation by free grace in him.

Select Resolutions:

#5 Resolved, Never to loose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I can.

#7 Resolved, Never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

#8 Resolved, To act, in all respects, both speaking and doing as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

#9 Resolved, To think much, on all occasions, of my dying, and the common circumstances which attend death.

# 17 Resolved, That I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

# 20 Resolved, To maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.

#22 Resolved, To endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigour, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

#24 Resolved, Whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then, both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

#45 Resolved, Never to allow any pleasure of grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affliction at all, nor any degree of affliction, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion.

#67 Resolved, After afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them; what good I have got by them; and what I might have got by them.

I had then, and at other times, the greatest delight in the Holy Scriptures of any book whatsoever. Oftentimes in reading it every word seemed to touch my heart. I felt a harmony between something in my heart and those sweet and powerful words. I seemed often to see so much light exhibited by every sentence, and such a refreshing food communicated, that I could not get along in reading; often dwelling long on one sentence, to see the wonders contained in it; and yet almost every sentence seemed full of wonders.  – Memoirs

I often used to sit and view the moon for a long time; and in the day spent much time in viewing the clouds and sky, to behold the sweet glory of God in these things: in the mean time, singing forth, with a low voice, my contemplations of the Creator and Redeemer. And scarce anything, among all the works of nature, was so sweet to me as thunder and lightning; formerly nothing had been so terrible to me. Before, I used to be uncommonly terrified with thunder, and to be struck with terror when I saw a thunder-storm rising; but now, on the contrary, it rejoiced me. I felt God, if I may so speak, at the first appearance of a thunderstorm; and used to take the opportunity, at such times, to fix myself in order to view the clouds, and see the lightnings play, and hear the majestic and awful voice of God’s thunder, which oftentimes was exceedingly entertaining, leading me to sweet contemplations of my great and glorious God. While thus engaged, it always seemed natural for me to sing, or chant forth my meditations; or to speak my thoughts in soliloquies with a singing voice.  – Memoirs

They say there is a young lady in [New Haven] who is loved of that Great Being, who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight; and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on Him. . . . [Y]ou could not persuade her to do any thing wrong or sinful, if you would give her all the world, lest she should offend this Great Being. She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness, and universal benevolence of mind; especially after this Great God has manifested himself to her mind. She will sometimes go about from place to place, singing sweetly; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure. . . . She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have some one invisible always conversing with her.  – Written in the Front of His Greek Grammar Book

God is glorified in the work of redemption in this, that there appears in it so absolute and universal a dependence of the redeemed on him. Here I propose to show, 1st, That there is an absolute and universal dependence of the redeemed on God for all their good. And, 2dly, That God hereby is exalted and glorified in the work of redemption.  – God Glorified in Man’s Dependence

That they have all their good of him, and that they have all through him, and that they have all in him: That he is the cause and original whence all their good comes, therein it is of him; and that he is the medium by which it is obtained and conveyed, therein they have it through him; and that he is the good itself given and conveyed, therein it is in him. Now those that are redeemed by Jesus Christ do, in all these respects, very directly and entirely depend on God for their all.  – God Glorified in Man’s Dependence

The redeemed have all from the grace of God. It was of mere grace that God gave us his only-begotten Son. The grace is great in proportion to the excellency of what is given. The gift was infinitely precious, because it was of a person infinitely worthy, a person of infinite glory; and also because it was of a person infinitely near and dear to God.  – God Glorified in Man’s Dependence

The grace in bestowing this gift is great in proportion to our unworthiness to whom it is given; instead of deserving such a gift, we merited infinitely ill of God’s hands.  – God Glorified in Man’s Dependence

Our blessings are what we have by purchase; and the purchase is made of God, the blessings are purchased of him, and God gives the purchaser; and not only so, but God is the purchaser. Yea God is both the purchaser and the price; for Christ, who is God, purchased these blessings for us, by offering up himself as the price of our salvation.  – God Glorified in Man’s Dependence

Our having all of God, shows the fulness of his power and grace; our having all through him, shows the fulness of his merit and worthiness; and our having all in him, demonstrates his fulness of beauty, love, and happiness. And the redeemed, by reason of the greatness of their dependence on God, have not only so much the greater occasion, but obligation to contemplate and acknowledge the glory and fulness of God.  – God Glorified in Man’s Dependence

Though [repentance] be a deep sorrow for sin that God requires as necessary to salvation, yet the very nature of it necessarily implies delight. Repentance of sin is a sorrow arising from the sight of God’s excellency and mercy, but the apprehension of excellency or mercy must necessarily and unavoidably beget pleasure in the mind of the beholder. ‘Tis impossible that anyone should see anything that appears to him excellent and not behold it with pleasure, and it’s impossible to be affected with the mercy and love of God, and his willingness to be merciful to us and love us, and not be affected with pleasure at the thoughts of [it]; but this is the very affection that begets true repentance. How much sovever of a paradox it may seem, it is true that repentance is a sweet sorrow, so that the more of this sorrow, the more pleasure.  – The Pleasantness of Religion

Our public assemblies were then beautiful, the congregation was then alive in God’s service, everyone earnestly intent on the public worship, every hearer eager to drink in the words of the minister as they came from his mouth; the assembly in general were, from time to time in tears while the Word was preached; some weeping with sorrow and distress, others with joy and love, others with pity and concern for the souls of their neighbors.  – A Narrative of Surprising Conversions

For love is not only one of the affections, but it is the first and chief of the affections, and the fountain of all the affections. From love arises hatred of those things which are contrary to what we love, or which oppose and thwart us in those things that we delight in: and from the various exercises of love and hatred, according to the circumstances of the objects of these affections, as present or absent, certain or uncertain, probable or improbable, arise all those other affections of desire, hope, fear, joy, grief, gratitude, anger, &c. From a vigorous, affectionate, and fervent love to God, will necessarily arise other religious affections; hence will arise an intense hatred and abhorrence of sin, fear of sin, and a dread of God’s displeasure, gratitude to God for his goodness, complacence and joy in God, when God is graciously and sensibly present, and grief when he is absent, and a joyful hope when a future enjoyment of God is expected, and fervent zeal for the glory of God.  – The Religious Affections

God glorifies Himself toward the creatures also in two ways: 1. By appearing to… their understanding. 2. In communicating Himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying, the manifestations which He makes of Himself…God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart. God made the world that He might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory; and that it might [be] received both by the mind and heart. He that testifies his idea of God’s glory [doesn’t] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation of it and his delight in it.  – The Miscellanies

It is reasonable to suppose that he had respect to himself, as his last and highest end, in this work; because he is worthy in himself to be so, being infinitely the greatest and best of beings. All things else, with regard to worthiness, importance, and excellence, are perfectly as nothing in comparison of him. And therefore, if God has respect to things according to their nature and proportions, he must necessarily have the greatest respect to himself. It would be against the perfection of his nature, his wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude, whereby he is disposed to do everything that is fit to be done, to suppose otherwise.  – The End for which God Created the World

The emanation or communication of the divine fullness, consisting in the knowledge of God, love to him, and joy in him, has relation indeed both to God and the creature: but it has relation to God as its fountain, as the thing communicated is something of its internal fullness. The water in the stream is something of the fountain; and the beams of the sun are something of the sun. And again, they have relation to God as their object: for the knowledge communicated is the knowledge of God; and the love communicated, is the love of God; and the happiness communicated, is joy in God. In the creature’s knowing, esteeming, loving, rejoicing in, and praising God, the glory of God is both exhibited and acknowledged, his fullness is received and returned. Here is both an emanation and remanation. The refulgence shines upon and into the creature, and is reflected back to the luminary. The beams of glory come from God, are something of God, and are refunded back again to their original. So that the whole is of God, and in God, and to God; and he is the beginning, and the middle, and the end.  – The End for which God Created the World

I did give up myself and children to God with my whole heart… A few days after this, one evening, in talking of the glorious state my dear departed must be in, my soul was carried out in such longing desires after this glorious state, that I was forced to retire from the family to conceal my joy. When alone, I was so transported, and my soul carried out in such eager desires after perfection, and the full enjoyment of God, and to serve him uninterruptedly, that I think my nature would not have borne much more. I think I had that night a foretaste of Heaven. This frame continued, in some good degree, the whole night. I slept but little; and when I did, my dreams were all of heavenly and divine things. Frequently since I have felt the same in kind, though not in degree. Thus a kind and gracious God has been with me in six troubles, and in seven. But, oh! Sir, what cause of deep humiliation and abasement of soul have I, on account of remaining corruption which I see working, especially pride! Oh, how many shapes does pride cloak itself in! Satan is also busy shooting his darts; but, blessed be God, those temptations of his that used to overthrow me, as yet, have not touched me. Oh to be delivered from the power of Satan as well as sin! I cannot help hoping the time is near. God is certainly fitting me for himself; and when I think it will be soon that I shall be called hence, the thought is transporting. Your dutiful and affectionate daughter Esther Burr.  – A Letter from his daughter Esther

I thank you for your most comfortable letter; but more especially would I thank God that has granted you such things to write. How good and kinds is your heavenly Father! Indeed, he is a faithful God; he will remember his covenant forever; and never will fail them that trust in him. But don’t be surprised, or think some strange thing has happened to you, if after this light clouds of darkness should return. Perpetual sunshine is not usual in this world, even to God’s saints. But I hope, if God should hide his face in some respect, even this will be in faithfulness to you, to purify you and fit you for yet further and better light.  – Edwards reply to Esther’s letter

My very dear child, What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands upon our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be. Your affectionate mother, Sarah Edwards  – Sarah to Esther after Jonathan’s death

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince: and yet ‘tis nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment: ‘tis to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep: and there is no other reason to be given why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up: there is no other reason to be given why you haven’t gone to hell since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship: yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you don’t this very moment drop down into hell. O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: ‘tis a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the damned in hell: you hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.  – Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God

God is the highest good of the reasonable creature, and the enjoyment of him is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. – To go to heaven fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows. But the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean. – Therefore it becomes us to spend this life only as a journey towards heaven, as it becomes us to make the seeking of our highest end and proper good, the whole work of our lives, to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for, or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end, and true happiness?  – The Christian Pilgrim

God himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their Life, their dwelling- place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honour and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world. The Lord God is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; and is the “river of the water of life” that runs, and “the tree of life that grows, in the midst of the paradise of God.” The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will for ever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast. The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things; they will enjoy the angels, and will enjoy one another; but that which they shall enjoy in the angels, or each other, or in any thing else whatsoever that will yield them delight and happiness, will be what shall be seen of God in them.  – God Glorified in Man’s Dependence

1-29-08 Owen reading

There is more glory given to God by coming to Christ in believing, than in keeping the whole law; inasmuch as he has more eminently manifested the holy properties of his nature in the way of salvation by Christ, than in the giving of the law.  – John Owen in The Glory of Christ

I could have used this quote when going through Galatians. Even if I could approach God through the law by perfectly keeping it, it would not glorify or endear his heart as much as if I would latch onto Christ for my only righteousness.