Category Archives: Faith

“It’s His song, not mine, that I’m here to sing” by Elisabeth Elliot

“There are sometimes spaces in our lives that seem empty and silent. Things grind to a halt for one reason or another. Not long ago, the ‘music’ in my life seemed to stop because of a rejection, a loss, and what seemed to me at the time a monumental failure.

I was feeling rather desolate when I came across a paragraph written more than a hundred years ago by the artist John Ruskin:

There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it. In our whole life-melody, the music is broken off here and there by ‘rests,’ and we foolishly think we have come to the end of time. God sends a time of forced leisure– sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts– and makes us a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives and we lament that our voices must be silent, and our part missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of the Creator. How does the musician read the rest? See him beat time with unvarying count and catch up the next note true and steady, as if no breaking place had come between. Not without design does God write the music of our lives. But be it ours to learn the time and not be dismayed at the ‘rests.’ They are not to be slurred over, nor to be omitted, not to destroy the melody, not to change the keynote. In the end we will see that in order to have a complete song, we must have the ‘rests’ in between the notes. If we look up, God Himself will beat time for us. With the eye on Him we shall strike the next note full and clear.

So the Lord brought to me precisely the word I needed at the moment: There was ‘the making of music’ in what seemed a hollow emptiness.

It’s His song, not mine, that I’m here to sing. It’s His will, not mine, that I’m here to do. Let me focus my vision unwaveringly on Him who alone knows the complete score, ‘and in the night His song shall be with me,’ (Psalm 42:8).”

–Elisabeth Elliot, Secure in the Everlasting Arms (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2002), 161-162.

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“He is completely unlike us in every way” by Paul David Tripp

“Our hope is not found in understanding why God allowed suffering into our lives.

Our hope is not found in the belief that somehow we will tough our way through.

Our hope is not found in doctors, lawyers, pastors, family, or friends.

Our hope is not found in our resilience or ingenuity.

Our hope is not found in ideas or things.

Though we may look to all those for temporary help, ultimately our hope rests in the faithful and gracious presence of the Lord with us.

He is not weakened by what weakens us.

He is not confused by what confuses us.

He does not suffer from the mood swings that afflict us.

He is not afraid like we are.

He never makes a bad decision.

He never finds Himself out of control.

He never wants to take back His words.

He never regrets the way He’s behaved.

He never responds impulsively.

His choices are never driven by anxiety.

He never dreads the next day.

He never wants to give up.

He is never frustrated by an inability to make a difference.

He is with us, but the reason this is so wonderfully comforting is that He is completely unlike us in every way.

He is limitless in power, He has authority over everything, He is perfect in every way, He dwells with us, and He assures us that He’s not leaving.”

–Paul David Tripp, Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018), 147-148.

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“This doctrine can never be discussed and taught enough” by Martin Luther

“We have taken it upon ourselves in the Lord’s name to lecture on this Epistle of Paul to the Galatians once more. This is not because we want to teach something new or unknown, for by the grace of God Paul is now very well known to you.

But it is because, as I often warn you, there is a clear and present danger that the devil may take away from us the pure doctrine of faith and may substitute for it the doctrines of works and of human traditions. It is very necessary, therefore, that this doctrine of faith be continually read and heard in public.

No matter how well known it may be or how carefully learned, the devil, our adversary, who prowls around and seeks to devour us (1 Peter 5:8), is not dead. Our flesh also goes on living. Besides, temptations of every sort attack and oppress us on every side.

Therefore this doctrine can never be discussed and taught enough. If it is lost and perishes, the whole knowledge of truth, life, and salvation is lost and perishes at the same time. But if it flourishes, everything good flourishes—religion, true worship, the glory of God, and the right knowledge of all things and of all social conditions.

To keep from doing nothing, we shall begin again where we broke off, according to the saying: ‘When a man has finished, he is just beginning.'”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 26; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 26: 3.

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“Aim to walk as He walked by a sweet constraining sense of His love in meekness, in benevolence, and in humility” by John Newton

“I hope when this letter comes, it will find you and your’s comfortable, and your heart and mouth full of gratitude to Him who crowneth the year with His goodness.

Well, these returning years each bear away a large portion of our time, and the last year cannot be far off. Oh, that precious name which can enable a sinner to think of his last year and his last hour without dismay!

What do we owe to Him who has disarmed death of its sting and horrors, and shown us the land of light and immortality beyond the grave! May He be with us in the new year.

Yea, He has promised He will be with us, even unto death. Therefore, though we know not what a day may bring forth, we need fear no evil; for He knows all, and will provide accordingly.

Oh, what a relief is it, to be enabled to cast every care and burden upon Him that careth for us!

Though the night should be dark, the storm loud, and the billows high, the infallible Pilot will steer our barks safely through.

Let us help each other with our prayers, that the little uncertain remainder of life may be filled up to the praise of our dear Lord; that we may be united to His will, conformed to His image, and devoted to His service.

Thus we shall show forth His praise: if we aim to walk as He walked, and, by a sweet constraining sense of His love, are formed into a habitual imitation of His spirit and temper, in meekness, integrity, benevolence towards men, and in humility, dependence, resignation, confidence, and gratitude towards Him.

I pity such wise-headed Calvinists as you speak of. I am afraid there are no people who more fully answer the character, and live in the spirit of the Pharisees of old, than some professed loud sticklers for free grace.

They are wise in their own eyes: their notions, which the pride of their hearts tells them are so bright and clear, serve them for a righteousness, and they trust in themselves and despise others.

One modest, inquiring Arminian is worth a thousand such Calvinists in my esteem. You will do well to preach quietly in your own way, not minding what others say, while your own conscience testifies that you preach the truth.

If you are travelling the right road, (to London for instance,) though fifty people should meet you and say you are wrong, you, knowing you are right, need not mind them.

But, alas! The spirit of self, which makes us unwilling to hear of contradiction, is not easily subdued.

I am your’s,

John Newton”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Vol. 6 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 6: 196–197.

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“Aslan likes to be asked” by C.S. Lewis

“Now they were over the top of the cliffs and in a few minutes the valley land of Narnia had sunk out of sight behind them. They were flying over a wild country of steep hills and dark forests, still following the course of the river.

The really big mountains loomed ahead. But the sun was now in the travelers’ eyes and they couldn’t see things very clearly in that direction.

For the sun sank lower and lower till the western sky was all like one great furnace full of melted gold; and it set at last behind a jagged peak which stood up against the brightness as sharp and flat as if it were cut out of cardboard.

“It’s none too warm up here,” said Polly.

“And my wings are beginning to ache,” said Fledge. “There’s no sign of the valley with a Lake in it, like what Aslan said. What about coming down and looking out for a decent spot to spend the night in? We shan’t reach that place tonight.”

“Yes, and surely it’s about time for supper?” said Digory.

So Fledge came lower and lower. As they came down nearer to the earth and among the hills, the air grew warmer and after traveling so many hours with nothing to listen to but the beat of Fledge’s wings, it was nice to hear the homely and earthy noises again—the chatter of the river on its stony bed and the creaking of trees in the light wind.

A warm, good smell of sun-baked earth and grass and flowers came up to them. At last Fledge alighted. Digory rolled off and helped Polly to dismount. Both were glad to stretch their stiff legs.

The valley in which they had come down was in the heart of the mountains; snowy heights, one of them looking rose-red in the reflections of the sunset, towered above them.

“I am hungry,” said Digory.

“Well, tuck in,” said Fledge, taking a big mouthful of grass.

Then he raised his head, still chewing and with bits of grass sticking out on each side of his mouth like whiskers, and said, “Come on, you two. Don’t be shy. There’s plenty for us all.”

“But we can’t eat grass,” said Digory.

“H’m, h’m,” said Fledge, speaking with his mouth full. “Well— h’m— don’t know quite what you’ll do then. Very good grass too.”

Polly and Digory stared at one another in dismay.

“Well, I do think someone might have arranged about our meals,” said Digory.

“I’m sure Aslan would have, if you’d asked him,” said Fledge.

“Wouldn’t he know without being asked?” said Polly.

“I’ve no doubt he would,” said the Horse. “But I’ve a sort of idea he likes to be asked.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew: The Chronicles of Narnia (New York: HarperCollins, 1950), 86-87.

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“Those are the ingredients of the cake” by Martin Luther

“Faith brings about that Christ is ours, even as His love brings about that we are His. He loves, and we believe, and those are the ingredients of the cake.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 52: Sermons II (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 52; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 17.

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“These are the great things” by John Newton

“One man like Mr. Whitefield is raised up to preach the gospel with success through a considerable part of the earth. Another is called to the humbler service of sweeping the streets, or cleaning this great minister’s shoes.

Now if the latter is thankful and content in his poor station, if he can look without envy, yea, with much love on the man that is honoured, if he can rejoice in the good that is done, or pray for the success of those whom the Lord sends, I see not why he may not be as great a man in the sight of God, as he who is followed and admired by thousands.

I am inclined to think, that if you and I were to travel in search of the best Christian in the land, or were qualified to distinguish who deserved the title, it is more than two to one we should not find the person in a pulpit, or any public office of life.

Perhaps some old woman at her wheel, or some bedridden person, hid from the knowledge of the world, in a mud-walled cottage, would strike our attention more than any of the doctors or reverends with whom we are acquainted.

Let us not measure men, much less ourselves, by gifts or services. One grain of grace is worth abundance of gifts.

To be self-abased, to be filled with a spirit of love, and peace, and gentleness, to be dead to the world, to have the heart deeply affected with a sense of the glory and grace of Jesus, to have our will bowed to the will of God: these are the great things, more valuable, if compared in the balance of the sanctuary, than to be an instrument of converting a province or a nation. See 1 Corinthians 13:1–3.”

–John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1869/2007), 168-169.

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