To understand persecution today read about persecution in the early church. My friends at ClearNote Church have recently reissued Herbert Workman’s Persecution in the Early Church. Here’s a bit to whet your appetite:
In opposition to the infant Church there arose the might of Rome. The conflict was inevitable, the direct result of the genius of Christianity. A Christianity which had ceased to be aggressive would speedily have ceased to exist. Christ came not to send peace on earth but a sword; against the restless and resistless force of the new religion the gates of hell should not prevail. But polytheism could not be dethroned without a struggle; nor mankind regenerated without a baptism of blood. Persecution, in fact, is the other side of aggression, the inevitable outcome of a truly missionary spirit; the two are linked together as action and reaction.
Buy the book and read it to gain some understanding about the persecution of Christians well under way in our country…
A few times in my life I’ve tried to keep a journal (…that sounds more manly than a “diary”). I like to think it was more about the pens and good paper than about my feelings…but that is probably not true. Most of the time when I go back and read what I wrote I think, “What was I thinking. Why did I believe that was important?” My journals are filled with insignificance that I somehow thought was significant. God had other plans…
I stumbled across the following in C. S. Lewis’s Surpised by Joy—his account of his conversion—to which I give my hearty approval:
If Theism had done nothing else for me, I should still be thankful that it cured me of the time-wasting and foolish practice of keeping a diary. (Even for autobiographical purposes a diary is nothing like so useful as I had hoped. You put down each day what you think important; but of course you cannot each day see what will prove to have been important in the long run.)
For all of you journalers out there who journal for noble, sanctified reasons, don’t get mad at me. I understand that when your children read your journals they will be taken on an journey through the incredible providences of God in your life. My children would just get a lesson in total depravity…which they can get from me in person.
For many years now I’ve been on the mailing list of The Inheritance Publishers. About three times a year they send out a free booklet containing an old Reformed sermon. As they say on their website, they hope to publish “out-of-print sermons from old books that are difficult to locate.” You can be added to their mailing list by emailing your postal address here. There are also a number of PDFs of the booklets posted on their website.
Currently I’m reading one of those booklets—a sermon by J. C. Ryle entitled “The World.” Here’s the beginning…
Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord (2 Corinthians 6:17).
The text which heads these pages touches a subject of vast importance in religion. That subject is the great duty of separation from the world. This is the point which Paul had in view when he wrote to the Corinthians, “Come out…be separate.”
The subject is one which demands the best attention of all who profess and call themselves Christians. In every age of the church, separation from the world has always been one of the grand evidences of a work of grace in the heart. He that has been really born of the Spirit, and made a new creature in Christ Jesus, has always endeavored to “come out from the world” and live a separate life. They who have only had the name of Christian, without the reality, have always refused to “come out” and “be separate” from the world.
Read everything written by pastor and historian Iain Murray…particularly Revival & Revivalism, Evangelicalism Divided, Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography, and his biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Everything else is good, too.
Here’s an interview with him that will give you a sense of his wisdom and zeal for the Church and her history.
Cheers to any readers who get the Maurice Sendak reference in the title of this post.
I’m sharing a recipe today, since I was sitting down to type it up anyway for a few friends who had requested it recently. Since I’m a lazy blogger, I thought I’d kill two proverbial birds with one stone. This is a soup recipe I make very often for Sunday guests, so if you’ve been to my house, I’m sure you have eaten this. It was given to me by the senior pastor’s wife at the church we were at prior to this one. So all of you Toledo readers have probably eaten this, too. Here goes:
Cream of Chicken Wild Rice Soup
2 boxes Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice (Made as directed)
2 Tbl butter
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup flour
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
Minced parsley, chives, salt, and pepper to taste
2 cups milk
2 cups half and half
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast cut into 1 inch pieces
Directions: In a large stock pot melt butter and saute garlic and onion until tender. Mix in the flour well. Pour in chicken stock, using a wire whisk to blend until smooth. Add the seasonings, cooked rice, and chicken (raw). Cook for 20 minutes. Slowly add the milk and half and half. Simmer on low for 20 minutes.
And just for fun I’ll fill you in on the Sendak reference. If you have children small enough to crawl on your lap or pile on a big chair around you, do them a favor and find this lovely little set of Maurice Sendak books. It’s a home library essential, in my opinion.
If you are looking for some summer reading, add some Jonathan Edwards to your list…
Perhaps you read his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” back in high school English class (as I did in Charlotte, NC). I’d suggest that you return to it, reading it this time with the eyes of faith. Another convicting sermon I’d suggest reading is “Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer.” More sermons can be found here and here.
Charity and Its Fruits: Christian Love as Manifested in the Heart and Life (online here). Edwards sermons on 1 Cor. 13. They culminate in the beautiful final sermon, “Heaven, A World of of Charity or Love.”
The Religious Affections (online here). Edwards answers these questions: “What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor with God, and entitled to his eternal rewards? Or, which comes to the same thing, What is the nature of true religion? And wherein do lie the distinguishing notes of that virtue and holiness that is acceptable in the sight of God?”
The Freedom of the Will (online here). This treatise is Edwards’ statement on human free will. How is the will of man free? “A man never, in any instance, wills anything contrary to his desires, or desires anything contrary to his will.”
The Life and Diary of the Reverend David Brainerd (online here). This book, compiled and edited by Jonathan Edwards, is the journal of David Brainerd, a godly young man who was a missionary to the American Indians. His piety and affection toward God are a challenge to our luke-warm hearts.
Books about Edwards
Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography by Iain Murray. Virtually everything Murray writes is worth reading–this is no exception.
Revival & Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858 by Iain Murray. This book works through the history of the Great Awakenings, comparing and contrasting the First, which involved Edwards, and the Second. After reading R&R you will understand the American Evangelical landscape better than you did before.
Desiring God: Jonathan Edwards. Piper stole most everything he preaches from Edwards.
The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University. They keep up with everything Edwardsian and publish his complete works.
Just received this volume in the mail today: Sex, Marriage, and Family in John Calvin’s Geneva, Vol. 1: Courtship, Engagement, and Marriage. Here’s the blurb from the back cover: “You would not expect this from his dour reputation, but John Calvin transformed the Western understanding of sex, marriage, and family life. In this fascinating, even sensational, volume John Witte and Robert Kingdon treat comprehensively the new theology and law of domestic life that Calvin and his fellow reformers established in sixteenth-century Geneva. Bringing to light and life hundreds of newly discovered cases and theological texts, Witte and Kingdon trace the subtle historical forms and norms of sex, marriage, and family life that still shape us today.”
I can’t remember why I put together this list, but I stumbled across it in my files this morning. Outside of the Scriptures, these are the books that have fed my soul for many years. Certainly there are others I would add, but I still recommend all of the below as must-reads for Christians.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years 1899-1939 & The Fight of Faith 1939-1981 by Iain Murray
The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter (free here)
What is an Evangelical? by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson (free here)
Revival & Revivalism by Iain Murray
Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
What’s Wrong with the World by G.K. Chesterton (free here)
Confessions by Augustine (free here)
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin
The Works of Jonathan Edwards (free here)