Faith: July 2005 Archives

God is for me


The evening excerpt for Wednesday, July 13, from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening is one I have formatted and taped up next to my computer, where I don't look at it as often as I should. The text is Psalm 56:9: "When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me."

Spurgeon writes:

It is impossible for any human speech to express the full meaning of this delightful phrase, “God is for me.”

He was “for us” before the worlds were made; he was “for us,” or he would not have given his well-beloved son; he was “for us” when he smote the Only-begotten, and laid the full weight of his wrath upon him—he was “for us,” though he was against him; he was “for us,” when we were ruined in the fall—he loved us notwithstanding all; he was “for us,” when we were rebels against him, and with a high hand were bidding him defiance; he was “for us,” or he would not have brought us humbly to seek his face.

He has been “for us” in many struggles; we have been summoned to encounter hosts of dangers; we have been assailed by temptations from without and within—how could we have remained unharmed to this hour if he had not been “for us”?

He is “for us,” with all the infinity of his being; with all the omnipotence of his love; with all the infallibility of his wisdom; arrayed in all his divine attributes, he is “for us,”—eternally and immutably “for us”; “for us” when yon blue skies shall be rolled up like a worn out vesture; “for us” throughout eternity.

And because he is “for us,” the voice of prayer will always ensure his help. “When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies be turned back.” This is no uncertain hope, but a well grounded assurance—“this I know.” I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up for the answer, assured that it will come, and that mine enemies shall be defeated, “for God is for me.”

O believer, how happy art thou with the King of kings on thy side! How safe with such a Protector! How sure thy cause pleaded by such an Advocate! If God be for thee, who can be against thee?

Sunday sundry


Some faith-related entries of note from my blogroll. Not all of these are recent, but all are worth your time and attention.

Christian Persecution Blog reports that this is a national weekend of prayer for the people of Darfur, in Sudan. You'll find some additional background information here.

David Wayne, the Jollyblogger, has posted a review of I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek.

Marsupial Mom has been writing about her journey from the word-of-faith movement to Reformed (Calvinist) theology. She recommends a video series and book by R. C. Sproul called What Is Reformed Theology? And her husband chimes in with a sketch of his spiritual background and journey, some things he appreciates about Reformed theology, and more recommended reading.

Michael Spencer writes about his first pastorate, which was in a small church. He began with optimism.

And then....I was taken for a ride in a truck. Mr. So and So, (not his real name) says, "Now you know I give more money than anyone else in the church don't you?" The shine was off of Mikey's new toy. (Actual true story.)

It didn't take long to discover that I was pastoring a network of extended families, and if I were going to do anything here, I was going to have to memorize a map that was never printed; a map of who mattered, who had power, who called the shots, and whose blessing would determine my support.

His health and family suffered during his four years at the church, which has run through three more pastors in the 13 years since he left. Spencer writes that thousands of pastors face the same situation at small churches "that are nothing more than 'family chapels,' gatherings of family and cultural loyalty where the question of ball caps in church becomes a major division and an ugly testimony to the disunity of Christians." He understands why young pastors prefer to start new churches and bypass the kind of politics he had to deal with, but he says we can't write off small churches, which remain the spiritual home for a large proportion of Christians.

Phillip Johnson measures the crisis in "Fad-Driven" modern evangelicalism by the length of Jan Crouch's hair extensions. He also recalls a special dinner with Esther Ahn Kim, a Korean Christian who suffered persecution as a Japanese prisoner during WW II for her refusal to bow before a Shinto shrine. If you haven't already, you'll want to read about his trip to London, particularly his account of the day of the terrorist bombings and his visit to Bunhill Fields, the burying place of John Bunyan, William Blake, John Owen, and Thomas Bayes, the mathematician whose theories are hard at work fighting spam nowadays. The best way to read it all is to go to his July archive, start at the bottom, and work your way up.

I'm sure hotels are accustomed to getting more letters of complaint than of praise, but Brian of An Audience of One has written an eloquent letter of appreciation to the proprietor of a fabled extended-stay establishment, down at the end of Lonely Street:

It's been a year since I first lugged all my baggage in your front door. I started to explain why I was there, but you smiled and waved me off. You'd heard it all before. I was sure I was the only person in the world who felt this way. You gave me the ten-cent tour, some bedside reading, and an extra toothbrush. "Hey buddy", you said. "You'll get over it some day. We all do."

"Hey man!", I replied, "you just don't understand. My heart is permanently broken. In pieces. I can't even pick it up. I'll need to borrow your whisk broom and dustpan just to get it all in one place again." You puffed on your stogie, and blue smoke swirled around your head when you sighed and said, " my friend, all it takes is time. The human heart has the ability to heal and regenerate itself. You'll see. Now take these clean towels and go find your room."

The staff there caters to the guests, but the customer isn't always right:

I took your advice. I wondered if a man with no taste in cigars would know anything, but I thought I had nothing to lose. I got in touch with old friends. I kept up conversations with current ones. I met some wonderful new people. Some of them touched my life in ways I could not have imagined. People I could trust. People I could count on. People who taught me things. People who gave me hope. Do you know how powerful it is to realize that so many people give a damn? When people that know you call to see how you're doing? When people you've never even met reach out a hand of friendship? When someone can look at you with all of your warts and find you attractive? I may try one of those cigars of yours.

Congratulations, Brian, and well written. The rest of you, go read the whole thing, especially if you're just checking in.

Monsignor Julius Jia Zhi Guo, the Roman Catholic bishop of Zhengding, Red China, was jailed by government agents yesterday for the sixth time in the last 18 months. (Via Catholic World News, via Christian Persecution Blog.)

Government officials had warned the churchman in advance of the arrest and had ordered him to tell people that he was being taken away for medical tests. Msgr Jia is currently not ill, nor is he in need of any medical treatment.

Msgr Jia has been a bishop since 1980 and has already spent 20 years in prison. His is one of the most vivacious dioceses in Hebei, the area with the highest concentration of Catholics, some 1.5 million. He lives almost constantly under house arrest. Not being recognized by the government, he is technically not allowed to exercise his ministry. For this reason, prior to important religious celebrations (Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, the Feast of the Assumption), he is taken into custody and forced to undergo indoctrination sessions, to prevent celebrations and gatherings by underground Christians. At other times, such as important Party meetings or visits from foreign heads of state and other prominent figures, he is segregated to some secret location. In 1999, to thwart his activities in evangelization, the police tried to close down an orphanage for abandoned and handicapped children. Authorities, however, had to backtrack on their intent, due to international pressure. The bishop shares his home with some 100 disabled children whom he supports at his own expense.

China has an officially recognized Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association which is controlled by the state and is not in communion with Rome. Since China is a totalitarian state, anything it doesn't ultimately control is illegal, so Catholics loyal to the Vatican must operate underground. The Chicoms have also set up an official Protestant organization known as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. (That's not a trinitarian reference -- it refers to self-governing, self-supporting, self-propagating, i.e., no foreign involvement or influence.) Evangelicals who operate outside the officially recognized church are also subject to persecution.

The need to persecute and suppress betrays the ultimate weakness of Chinese Communism. How strong can a system be if it feels threatened by the existence of an orphanage?

Thank God and pray for Bishop Jia and for all those in Red China who suffer for the sake of Christ.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Faith category from July 2005.

Faith: June 2005 is the previous archive.

Faith: August 2005 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]