Faith: January 2009 Archives

David Wayne, who is about to begin chemotherapy for Stage 4 metastatic colon cancer, posted this excerpt by the late pastor and author D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, writing about Psalm 43:

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc.

Somebody is talking. Who is talking? Your self is talking to you. Now this man's treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: "Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you ..."

The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: "Why art thou cast down" -- what business have you to be disquieted?

You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: "Hope thou in God" -- instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do.

Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: "I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God."

So a Christian should talk to himself. Not just talk, but upbraid, exhort, and defy himself to believe what God says about Himself and about those who put their hope in Christ.

Jared Wilson summarizes it by saying Christians need to preach the gospel to ourselves. He offers this quote from Colin Smith:

About 90% of a pastor's job is reminding himself & others of the gospel. The other 10% is answering the phone & stuff.

This is a favorite hymn. I memorized it in college, and it comes back to me when I need it.

It has been called a "hymn-sermon." The first verse is a call to Christians to remember God's promises, firm foundation for our faith. The remaining verses paraphrase and combine various promises in Scripture, including Phil. 4:12-13, Deut. 33:25, Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43:1-2, 2 Cor. 12:9, and Hebrews 13:5. (Text via TulipGirl.)

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
to you that for refuge to Jesus have fled?

"In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty's vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be."

"Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed!
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
my grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
that soul, though all hell shall endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no, never, no, never forsake."

I've changed the subtitle of the blog, for the moment, to ἀπορούμενοι ἀλλ' οὐκ ἐξαπορούμενοι. That is from 2 Cor. 4:8. It means "perplexed, but not despairing":

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair....

There's a nice parallelism in the Greek:

ἐν παντὶ θλιβόμενοιἀλλ' οὐστενοχωρούμενοι
ἀπορούμενοιἀλλ' οὐκἐξαπορούμενοι

The two words, ἀπορούμενοι and ἐξαπορούμενοι, are related -- just the added prefix ek- ("out of" or "beyond") in the second, which seems intended to intensify the meaning from "to have no way out; to be at a loss" to "to be utterly at a loss." We don't know which way to go, but we haven't given up hope that the Lord will make a way.

The second of the two occurs in a slightly different form in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11:

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Be seeing you, Number 6

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Earlier this week, actor Patrick McGoohan died at the age of 80. He created and starred in the late '60s series The Prisoner. I caught glimpses of the show as a four or five year old when it first aired in the US -- Dad watched it -- and I was terrified by the sight and sound of Rover.

When I was in high school, it was shown on public TV. I was hooked, and so was a classmate of mine. He and I weren't friends otherwise, but after we learned of our mutual interest in the show, he'd call after an episode to talk about it. When the last two episodes were aired, there was a lot to talk about. It ran in Boston during my senior year in college, and several of us took to using the "Be seeing you" salute, just for fun. During a business trip to Shropshire in 1999, I made a point of visiting Portmeirion, the Italianate village on the west coast of Wales, used as the setting for the series. (Number 6's place is now a gift shop.)

I read somewhere that McGoohan was in line to play Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films or Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies but ill health prevented him from taking either role.

As I mentioned over at The Judge Report, McGoohan was married to the same woman for over 50 years, his first and only wife, and insisted that his on-screen characters would never so much as kiss another woman, a stipulation that ruled out playing Simon Templar and James Bond. It would be interesting to know something about his faith and how it influenced his ethics and his artistic vision. So far I've seen nothing on that, but, as we know, "the press doesn't get religion." (I did find this mention, at Reason's website of all places, that McGoohan was a devout Roman Catholic.)

Ricardo Montalban, who also died this week, is another rare example of a Hollywood actor with a long marriage. He had been married for 63 years, from 1944 until his wife's death in 2007. Mark Evanier has an anecdote about a sketch he wrote for Montalban's cameo on a short lived comedy series. Montalban didn't care for the sketch, but why he didn't like it and how he went about making his objections known are remarkable for Hollywood.

I suppose most people will remember Montalban as Mr. Rourke on Fantasy Island. I'll remember him for his role as Khan in Star Trek II, perhaps the greatest of the great even-numbered movies, and for his role as the grandfather in Spy Kids 2 and 3, movies my kids have watched over and over again. By that time, a spinal injury from the '50s was causing him so much pain that he was confined to a wheelchair, and he appeared in the wheelchair in both films. But in Spy Kids 3, in which the characters wind up in a video game, director Robert Rodriguez used the magic of CGI to put Montalban back on his own two feet.

As we get closer to the debut of AMC's new version of The Prisoner, starring Jim Caviezel, the network has placed all 17 of the original episodes on its website for streaming, along with photos and trivia.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Faith category from January 2009.

Faith: December 2008 is the previous archive.

Faith: February 2009 is the next archive.

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