Saturday, November 29, 2014

Beauty Unobserved

Sometimes we trample around on real beauty completely unawares. We cry out for something to entertain us, something to salve our scorched hearts. Beauty lies before us, a field of wild flowers under fragrant golden light, and we trample it down, braying a cacophony of discontentment. 

At times, we come to the Bible with this darkened heart. We pick it up to read and are bored. The pages are tasteless. The narrative is bland. We trudge through, the pasty taste of stale, unsalted crackers in our soul. We look around and blame other things. I'm tired. I'm busy. I have that project to finish. 

Meanwhile, we miss the sumptuous scents rising from the feast-table of God's Word. The bread of life is before us, fresh and warm. The deep and satisfying living water stands ready to be consumed in draughts, beads of delight dotting the cups cold surface. 

Where are we in this soul picture? We have missed the beauty. Instead of feasting, we crawl around under the table, picking at crumbs. We lick our dry lips and strain to swallow against parched throats. 

The problem lies in us. We have settled for lesser things.

Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)! Open your eyes to the beauty that lies before you and let your soul be satisfied in Him. Recognize the paucity of your soul, and then stand and drink deeply of the One who is true beauty. Grasp the bread of life, already torn, and feast. 

Beauty is missed by many today. Beauty is unobserved. 

Taste and see.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Old but True

The following was first published in 1877. Yet, when you read it, consider how much it describes the present state of the Church at large today. Old but true words.

I leave the subject of my introduction here, and hasten to a conclusion. I confess that I lay down my pen with feelings of sorrow and anxiety. There is much in the attitude of professing Christians in this day which fills me with concern, and makes me full of fear for the future. 
There is an amazing ignorance of Scripture among many, and a consequent want of established, solid religion. In no other way can I account for the ease with which people are, like children, "tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine" (Eph. 4:14).
There is an Athenian love of novelty abroad, and a morbid distaste for anything old and regular, and in the beaten path of our forefathers. Thousands will crowd to hear a new voice and anew doctrine, without considering for a moment whether what they hear is true. There is an incessant craving after any teaching which is sensational, and exciting, and rousing to the feelings. There is an unhealthy appetite for a sort of spasmodic and hysterical Christianity. The religious life of many is little better than spiritual dram-drinking, and the "meek and quiet spirit" which St. Peter commends is clean forgotten (1 Pet. 3:4). Crowds, and crying, and hot rooms, and high-flown singing, and an incessant rousing of the emotions are the only things which many care for. Inability to distinguish differences in doctrine is spreading far and wide, and so long as the preacher is "clever" and "earnest," hundreds seem to think it must be all right, and call you dreadfully "narrow and uncharitable" if you hint that he is unsound!...All this is sad, very sad.

This was penned by J.C. Ryle in his introduction to the always-classic Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, & Roots. He was prophetic in that he called his present generation to re-examine God's call to holiness. Prophetic, in that his words ring true today. The plight described by Ryle's sober words has only grown and metastasized in the Church today. God calls his people to be holy, for He is a holy God (1 Pet 1:15, 16). Yet many in the church, and men especially, display very little love for God, and a weak sort of holiness at best.  Indecision, immaturity, vacillation, immorality, and a complete lack of self-control, plague many men in the church today.

Men, God will not have that.  When you stand before God and give an account of your life, only what is holy will stand. Only holy thoughts, words, and deeds will last. Let the men of today who say they are followers of Christ live like it. Men, pursue holiness in the fear of our Holy God. Be a man of valor by pursuing a holy life, a life that is pleasing to God.