Tag: heaven

Tolle Lege and Spectare, too

Anyone else find themselves with extra time on their hands?  In my last post I put up a Bible reading and memorization calendar for the month of April.  Click April 2020 Printable for a link to the printable version. It’s never too late to come to the table and feast on the Living Word.  Already filling up on Scripture and have even more time to spare?  I not only have some suggestions to “take up and read” but some “sit down and watch” ones as well.

The first book was highly recommended by John MacArthur at the G3 Conference I attended back in January when such goings-on were still perfectly normal and legal. “Delighting In The Trinity” by Michael Reeves is perfectly suited to it’s title.  I had never thought of the doctrine of the Trinity as something to be delighted in.  Mainly it just seemed vague and confusing. This book truly is a must read for every Christian and anyone else seeking to educate themselves about this foundational element of our faith.

I happened to be reading this book by my Dad’s bedside the week before he died (you can read more about that by clicking here). One of the things he kept saying while he was “journeying” (the Hospice term for the time of transition between life and death) was “Wow!” It’s like he was getting glimpses of the glories to come. I found my own heart echoing my Dad’s rapturous exclamations with each turn of the page.  Wow! “Since God is, before all things, a Father, and not primarily Creator or Ruler, all his ways are beautifully fatherly (23).”  Wow! “Because the Father’s love for the Son has burst out to be shared with us, the Son’s inheritance is also (extraordinarily!) shared with us (50).”  Wow! “While the Son establishes and upholds all things (Heb. 1:3), the Spirit perfects or completes the work of creation…the Spirit garnishes and beautifies the heavens and the earth… And so, while the Nicene Creed speaks of the Father as the ‘Maker of heaven and earth,’ it speaks of the Spirit as ‘the Lord and giver of life’ (51).”

Maybe this crazy time of social isolation is the perfect time to understand the relational aspect of God’s character. He is a God all-together “together.” And moreover, we were created to be in fellowship with that perfect Triune fellowship of the One True God, the Great I AM.  Any loneliness you might be feeling during this pandemic will vanish as you get to know God better through this book. As the introduction states,

“To know and grow to enjoy him is what we are saved for–and that is what we are going to press into here.  Nonetheless, getting to know God better does actually make for far more profound and practical change as well.  Knowing the love of God is the very thing that makes us loving.  Sense the desirability of God alters our preferences and inclinations, the things that drive our behavior: we begin to want God more than anything else.  Thus, to read this book is not to play an intellectual game. In fact, we will see that the triune nature of this God affects everything… (10)”

The second book was brought home by my husband from The Shepherds Conference right before the world shut down.  “Gentle and Lowly” by Dane Ortlund zeroes in on the second Person of the Trinity and His heart for “sinners and sufferers.” I haven’t finished reading this one yet but I’m recommending it anyway because I like it so much already and because I think it is such a timely read. Consider this description from the introduction:

“This book is written for the discouraged, the frustrated, the weary, the disenchanted, the cynical, the empty.  Those running on fumes.  Those whose Christian lives feel like constantly running up a descending escalator.  Those of us who find ourselves thinking: “How could I mess up that bad–again?”  It is for that increasing suspicion that God’s patience with us is wearing thin.  For those of us who know God loves us but suspect we have deeply disappointed him.  Who have told others of the love of Christ yet wonder if–as for us–he harbors mild resentment.  Who wonder if we have shipwrecked our lives beyond what can be repaired.  Who are convinced we’ve permanently diminished our usefulness to the Lord.  Who have been swept off our feet by perplexing pain and are wondering how we can keep living under such numbing darkness.  Who look at our lives and know how to interpret the data only by concluding that God is fundamentally parsimonious.  It is written, in other words, for normal Christians (13).”

But here’s the clincher, “Gentle And Lowly” totally builds right off of “Delighting In The Trinity.” It addresses key questions like “How does the heart of Christ relate to the doctrine of the Trinity–does Christ relate to us differently than the Father or the Spirit relates to us?…How does his heart related to his wrath? Yet again, how does Christ’s heart fit with what we find in the Old Testament and its portrait of God (14)?”

The book takes its title from the one passage in all four gospels where Jesus gives us a description of His own heart–Matthew 11:28:30, which reads, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (18).” Ortlund builds heavily on this description, but with the following important qualifier:  “This is not who he is to everyone, indiscriminately. This is who he is for those who come to him, who take his yoke upon them, who cry out to him for help.  The paragraph before these words from Jesus gives us a picture of how Jesus handles the impenitent: ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!… I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you” (Matt. 11:21.24). ‘Gentle and lowly’ does not mean ‘mushy and frothy.”

Go get on Amazon and buy these books. And I’m not even getting paid to say that.              I should be getting paid to say that.

And while you’re over at Amazon, might as well check out these watch recommendations:

  1. Tomorrow is April 9, the 75th anniversary of the execution of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by the Nazis.  My first recommendation would be to read his “Letters and Papers From Prison.” But if you happen to have Prime Video check out “Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace.”
  2. While we’re on the theme of martyrdom, my boys all gave two thumbs up to “Poycarp.”  This film was really well done and gave a beautiful portrayal of life in the early church, highlighting the faith of not just everyday Christians of the time but of such well known heroes of the faith like Justin Martyr and the Apostle John’s disciple, Polycarp.
  3. Another biographical film we enjoyed was “Charles Spurgeon: the People’s Preacher.”  Again, I always recommend books first, but this is a great introduction into this unparalleled pastor’s life for members of the family who aren’t quite ready for his “Complete Sermons.”
  4.  Now, hands down the absolute most thumbs up goes to “The Riot and the Dance.” Prime Video only has the first one up for free but we can’t wait to see the sequel to this stellar nature documentary from a creationist’s perspective. It is truly stunning.
  5. Finally, here’s one (actually two, wait.  three) just for mature teens and adults. I recommend “American Gospel: Christ Alone” and its sequel, “American Gospel: Christ Crucified” to every one but kids. The only reason I don’t recommend this series for children is not because of content but because of format. Because the interviews switch so quickly between false teachers and theological sound teaching, its really hard for a younger person to distinguish between “the good guys and bad guys” and they could walk away really confused about what is the truth. Those are the only two films on my whole list that you have to rent ($2.99 and $4.99 respectively). The rest are free, including my final recommendation, again, for mature teens and adults only and that is “Babies Are Still Murdered Here.”  Just watch it.  That’s all I’m gonna say.

Well, that oughta keep y’all busy for a while.

 

On Dying Well

I returned home this weekend after a week by my Dad’s hospital bed and then another week taking care of him in his home alongside my siblings with the help of Hospice. In the early morning hours of February 28, he shook off earthly fetters and entered into the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My mom had preceded him to glory by 3 years.

So thankful for the sacred time around his deathbed as family from near and far gathered round to see him off. This included my own 5 sons who saw their ‘Opa’ as nothing less than a hero who had survived plane crashes, encounters with grizzlies and gators, and earned a reputation as one of the worlds best mountaineers.  The body that 3 years prior, at the age of 85, had beaten them to their campsite on Gideon’s first backpack trip, now lay wasted and worn.

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My boys are no strangers to seeing grandparents off to glory.  A year after we moved back from Hawaii my Mom passed suddenly and a year later Tom’s Mom “won” her battle against cancer and entered into eternal, painless rest.  Our boys were blessed to spend the week prior by her hospital bed laughing and sharing and singing just as I had with my own “Oma” when I was 12 or 13.

This time my fingers knew right where to turn in the Bible and the Psalter and the hymnal.  I wondered often how people face death without these things on hand. I thought about our modern, feel-good worship music and how little it prepares us for deathbed vigils.  I cataloged hymns in my heart aimed at helping saints die well.  Here’s one for each day I spent by my Dad’s side and the lines forever highlighted in my memory.

My Jesus, I Love Thee  “I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, and praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath; and say when the death dew lies cold on my brow; “If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, tis now.”

Jesus Lives and So Shall I  “Jesus lives, and so shall I. Death! thy sting is gone forever. He who deigned for me to die, lives, the bands of death to sever. He shall raise me from the dust: Jesus is my Hope and Trust.”

How Firm A Foundation  “When through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;  For I will be with thee, they troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee they deepest distress.”

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus  “Through death into life everlasting He passed and we follow Him there;  Over us sin no more hath dominion for more than conquerors we are! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling  “Time is now fleeting the moments are passing, passing from you and from me; Shadows are gathering, death’s night is coming, coming for you and for me. Come home, come home, ye who are weary, come home; earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling, O sinner, come home!”

Nearer, My God, to Thee  “There let the way appear steps unto heaven; All that thou sendest me, in mercy given; Angels to beckon me nearer, my God , to Thee, Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.”

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go “O Cross that lifted up my head, I dare not ask to fly from Thee; I lay in dust life’s glory dead, and from the ground there blossoms red Life that shall endless be.”

He Leadeth Me “And when my task on earth is done, when by Thy grace the victory’s won, Even death’s cold wave I will not flee, since God through Jordan leaders me.”

Be Still My Soul “Be still, my soul! the hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord, when disappointment, grief and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul! when change and tears are past, all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”

All the Way My Savior Leads Me “All the way my Savior leads me; O the fullness of his love! Perfect rest to me is promised in my Father’s house above; when my spirit, clothed immortal, wings its flight to realms of day, This my song thru endless ages, “Jesus led me all the way.”

Day By Day “Help me then in every tribulation so to trust Thy promises, O Lord, that I lose not faith’s sweet consolation offered me within Thy holy Word. Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting, E’er to take, as from a father’s hand, one by one, the days, the moments fleeting, till I reach the promised land.”

Rock of Ages “While I draw this fleeting breath, when my eyes shall close in death, when I soar to worlds unknown, see thee on thy judgement throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hid myself in Thee.”

Saved By Grace “Some day the silver cord will break, and I no more as now shall sing; but oh, the joy when I shall wake within the palace of the King!  And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story –Saved by grace; and I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story –Saved by grace.”

Abide With Me “Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes, shine through the gloom and point me to the skies; Heavn’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee, in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”

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There are dozens more that could be added to this list and if you’d like to share any that come to mind, please do so in the comments below!