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Archive for January, 2009

Collection

I’m a hopeless collector of words.  So I’ve started a new “commonplace book” called locus communis as a place to keep and categorize them all.

Contributions will be happily considered, especially if they have source references cited, which most of my collection so far doesn’t

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In an excellent message on Ephesians 4:22-27,  titled as above, John Piper points out that “if there is any way that Satan can assist you to hold a grudge, he will do it. For there are… … goals of Satan which are greatly advanced when professing Christians hold grudges…”

One of those goals of Satan is to crush Christians into uselessness.  Here’s a place Satan has a hey day in my life: when repentance (which can be accomplished by one person) doesn’t lead to reconciliation (which takes two), I can fall into a paralysis of self-doubt.  When I don’t measure up to being “fixed enough” to be worth the effort of relationship in the eyes of someone, it’s easy to start listening to Satan’s words more than Christ’s.

Here’s how Piper puts it:

Satan aims to crush broken Christians until they are depressed into uselessness. Paul tells about an instance of church discipline at Corinth in which the offending party repented. Paul counsels in 2 Corinthians 2:7, “So you should turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you reaffirm your love for him.” The burdens of life are so great at times that someone’s grudge against us can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. You can destroy a person by holding a grudge against them—the very work of Satan from the time of Cain and Abel.

(John Piper, Satan Seeks A Gap Called Grudge, http://www.desiringgod.org) (h.t. cawleyblog)

So the battle for me is to find my rest in the reconciliation of Christ.  I feel, so strongly, the tug and pull of how Satan would like to destroy every shred of faith I have, by keeping me focused on the pain of unreleased grudges others hold against me.  The battle requires falling and getting up a thousand times: sometimes a thousand times a day, it would seem.   Piper’s sermon is a good reminder that my enemy isn’t the person with the grudge, but Satan.

This morning, going into the weekend, I’m in the middle of those 1000 times.  And, through the sadness, shouting Micah 7:7-8 at Satan as often and as loudly as I can.

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Have you ever noticed that all the hard words of the Christian life start with R?

Rejoicing, Resting, Repentance, Reconciliation, Restoration, Restitution…

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 A stiff apology is a second insult. ~ G.K. Chesterton

All the longer your delay, the more your sin gets strength and rooting. If you cannot bend a twig, how will you be able to bend it when it is a tree?

~ Richard Baxter

We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. ~ C.S. Lewis

The Christian who has stopped repenting has stopped growing. ~ A.W. Pink

Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, in saying, Repent Ye, intended that the whole of the life of believers should be repentance. ~ Martin Luther

Though true repentance is never too late, yet late repentance is seldom true.

~ Thomas Brooks

Again and again, God’s Word reveals that He is not as concerned about the depth or extent of the sin we commit as He is about our attitude and response when we are confronted with our sin. ~ Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Scripture considers repentance a path to liberation, not condemnation. ~ Ed Welch

Repentance that renews precious fellowship with our incomparably wonderful God ultimately furthers our joy.  Just as we cannot enter into true repentance without sorrow for our guilt, we cannot emerge from true repentance without joy for our release from shame. ~ Bryan Chapell

Some people do not like to hear much of repentance; but I think it is so necessary that if I should die in the pulpit, I would desire to die preaching repentance, and if out of the pulpit I would desire to die practicing it. ~ Matthew Henry

Next week’s Ten For Tuesday: On Forgiveness

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Seeing Differently

I still consider myself very much a student of painting, and I’m far from confident whenever I approach a new piece of work.  But there is, even in the learning process, a delightful sense in which I can loose myself in the seeing. Today, painting the velvety petals of anemones, I saw how their violet blue color can have a golden orange warmth and a rose red highlight and a blue black shadow, all within the space of a few centimeters.

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When I’ve been painting all day, as I did today, I have a few residual hours after I leave the easel in which my sight is changed.  For a few hours, every fold and crease and texture gets noted and named.  I mix colors in my mind as I look at objects and people (I watch my daughter sitting on the couch: how would I catch the way the warm light from the wood stove is playing on her face, pushing back the shadow that curves around her defined features… raw sienna… a touch of alizarin crimson at the round of her cheek…a bit of cobalt blue where the light begins to fade…)

Then my seeing begins to fade.  I still have sight, but I stop seeing. I move through the house and see words and uses instead of colors; there’s the folder of papers I need to remember to take tomorrow, there’s the coffee cup I left out this morning (and I wonder if the dishwasher needs to be run?) and there are the shoes I kicked off in the middle of the kitchen floor…  My mind begins to fill up with thoughts and projects and duties and, before I know it, I’ve lost the sight I gained, like some forgotten childhood language.

“Now we see through a glass darkly…”    For me, part of the “redemption” of heaven might mean the redemption of seeing all things properly and fully.  Maybe for now, I can’t really handle seeing like that all the time, and so God only allows me little controlled bursts of it.  Maybe there’s a sort of safety mechanism that keeps us from seeing too clearly when our souls can’t hold it yet. (I picture something like the natural defense our irises provide to protect our optic nerves from receiving too much light: maybe there’s a sort of “aperture” that closes on our attention, to keep us from burning ourselves out in a full, unveiled awareness of beauty…

I picture that when we’re able to look at God with unveiled faces, we’ll be looking with those perfected bodies and minds that can contain the pure beauty we’ll stand before.

For today, just the purple in an anemone was enough to bowl me over.  I can’t wait for heaven.

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(n.b.  I’ve noticed that when my blogging buddies get busy, they still find time to post a quote, even if it’s without any comment.  I feel a bit lazy here, but some of these little nuggets I’ve been running across lately really do move me, so please consider these cheap and easy quotes as still some small part of the dubious pursuit of knowing what’s going on inside my head.)

Ruskin here, aptly describing why I care about teaching students to “get” that beauty in art matters:

And all delight in fine art, and all love of it, resolve themselves into simple love of that which deserves love. That deserving is the quality which we call ‘loveliness’ … and it is not an indifferent nor optional thing whether we love this or that; but it is just the vital function of all our being.” (John Ruskin in Traffic, 1864)
      

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“Humility is rightly compared with the morning, for as the origin of all the virtues it enables us to distinguish between day and night, between light and darkness, between virtue and vice. All those who take leave of the darkness of vice must of necessity begin with the virtue of humility in order for the growth of the virtues to be realised until the end of the day.”

Aelred of Rievaulx      (ht: A Vow Of Conversation)

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