“Somebodyism”

“Funny how that happens. I finally smiled, remembering something I heard Ram Dass say on the radio once, about somebodyism – how most of us are raised to be somebodies and what a no-win game that is to buy into, because while you may turn out to be much more somebody than somebody else, a lot of other people are going to be a lot more somebody than you. And you are going to drive yourself crazy.”

Bird by Bird, Anne Lammot (New York: Anchor Books, 1995), 220.

On Rightly Relating to God

The pious mind recognizes “God because it knows that he governs all things; and trusts that he is its guide and protector, therefore giving itself over completely to trust in him. Because it understand him to be the Author of every good, if anything oppresses, if anything is lacking, immediately it betakes itself to his protection, waiting for help from him. Because it is persuaded that he is good and merciful, it reposes in him with perfect trust, and doubts not that in his loving-kindness a remedy will be provided for all its ills.”

– John Calvin, Institutes, I. ii. 2.

Amazed at the Hubris

“Just who do we think we are?”
“The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment… The Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?”
– Chief Justice John Roberts

“[The majority] has discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a ‘fundamental right’ overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since…”
“But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch. The five Justices who compose today’s majority are entirely comfortable concluding that every State violated the Constitution for all of the 135 years between the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification and Massachusetts’ permitting of same-sex marriages in 2003. They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a “fundamental right” overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since… These Justices know that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is contrary to reason; they know that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago, cannot possibly be supported by anything other than ignorance or bigotry. And they are willing to say that any citizen who does not agree with that, who adheres to what was, until 15 years ago, the unanimous judgment of all generations and all societies, stands against the Constitution.”
– Justice Scalia

For more see Top 10 Quotes from the Dissenting Judges on Same-Sex Marriage

A True Monster

“If you have lived in cities and have walked in the park on a summer afternoon, you have perhaps seen, blinking in a corner of his iron cage, a huge, grotesque kind of monkey, a creature with ugly, sagging, hairless skin below his eyes and a bright purple underbody. This monkey is a true monster. in the completeness of his ugliness he achieved a kind of perverted beauty. Children stopping before the cage are fascinated, men turn away with an air of disgust, and women linger for a moment, trying perhaps to remember which one of their male acquaintances the thing in some faint way resembles.”

– Sherwood Anderson, Winesburgh, Ohio, pg. 121.

On Living, Really Living

“Living means decisions. Living means writing your every word and action and thought and drool spot down in forever. It means writing your story within the Story. It means being terrible at it. It means failing and knowing that, somehow, all of our messes will still contribute, that the creative God has merely given Himself a greater challenge – drawing glory from our clumsy botching of the past. We are like factory workers in a slapstick comedy, standing at our positions beside the too-fast conveyor belt that flings the future and all of our possible actions at us. Corn syrup and food coloring everywhere (along with cheese and ceramic figurines).

Do your best. Live. Create. Fail.
How many thieves can we fit on this cross?How many of us can be dead in Lazarus’s tomb?
Is there room for more dry bones in this valley? Because I could lie down.
I can complain in a wilderness.
Or maybe deny Christ three times?
Resent the righteous?
Shoo away some children?
Fail to grow figs?
Panic in a storm?
Forget God’s law?
Pursue my lusts?
Sell out my Maker?
Hang myself in a field?
So glad I could help.

And from it all, from the compost of our efforts, God brings glory – a world of ripe grain in the wind.

By His grace, we are the water made wine. We are the dust made flesh made dust made flesh again. We are the whores made brides and the thieves made saints and the killers made apostles. We are the dead made living.

We are His cross.”

– N.D. Wilson, Death by Living (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2013), 166-67.

Pain and Pleasure

“Pain is meant to drive us to God: in need, from a sense of helplessness and poverty. When you are willing to enter into experiences of loneliness, loss, disappointment, or frustration – willing to face hard realities, and not bolt for some lesser pleasure – you find the door to the greatest pleasure of all.

Similarly, pleasure is meant to draw us to God: with simple gratitude and delight. You take it for what it is, a mere gift to be enjoyed from the hand of the Giver of gifts. When we desperately try to escape pain, we turn our pleasures into saviors and they prove to be the devil to us.”

– Dr. David Powlison, Innocent Pleasures, JBC, Fall 2005, 28.

Psalm 119 and Speech Therapy

“If you speed-read, all you get is, ‘Psalm 119 is about the Bible.’ But if you take it slow and live it out, you find yourself saying things like this: ‘You are good and do good.’ Or this: ‘I am Yours.’ Learning to say that out loud and mean it will change your life forever. Psalm 119 is not information about the Bible; it’s speech therapy for the inarticulate.”

– David Powlison, Suffering and Psalm 119.

A Hymn to God the Father

Wilt Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which is my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin by which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And having done that, Thou hast done;
I fear no more.

– John Donne, A Hymn to God the Father

“One unspeakable pleasure that brought no joy”

“And I thought to myself, twelve hours! In those twelve hours the whole world had changed, because of one insensate act. And what madness made a man pursue something so unspeakable, deaf to the cries of wife and children and mother and friends and blind to their danger, to grasp one unspeakable pleasure that brought no joy, ten thousand of which pleasures were not worth one of the hairs of their heads? Such desire could not surely be a desire of the flesh, but some mad desire of a sick and twisted soul. And why should I have it? And where did it come from? And how did one cure it? But I had no answers to these questions.”

– Pieter, after he committed adultery in Alan Paton’s novel Too Late the Phalarope (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981), 174.

After I Realized I Had Been Robbed

Were I quicker on my feet I would have said the following to the college student at the coffee shop who, I believe, stole my pen:

“Eh-hem… I realize that I’m fallible, so forgive me if my postulation is wrong. But, I came here with a pen which I used and set down there. I asked you to watch my stuff while I went to the bathroom. Now the pen is gone. I’ve thoroughly checked my backpack and the surrounding area to no avail. I don’t have the pen on my person and you said that you didn’t see anything happen to it.

“If the pen is not lying around here, if I don’t have it, and if nobody else took it then I’d like to postulate that you closed your eyes, grabbed my pen and are currently in possession of it. I’d like to let you know that stealing is both rude and wrong, as is lying.

“None the less, I’d like you to keep my pen as a gift from me. I hope it lasts long and writes smoothly for you. If you ever attend a Billy Graham Crusade, I hope you use it to sign your ‘decision card for Jesus.’ Have a nice day. Goodbye.”

However, insofar as I’m not quicker on my feet, I simply furrowed my brow and went home; one pen poorer than before.

Open the Cupboard

“We do not welcome strangers into our lives or homes, and we do not go out to meet them. We do not inform ourselves of events abroad and cannot locate them on maps or in context… We have never dealt seriously with a homeless person. We do not grieve over news stories of poverty or starvation, and we make token efforts to relieve such suffering by our charity. Claiming allegiance to the Christ who speaks in active imperatives (Go! Tell! Witness! Declare! Proclaim!), we Christians nonetheless prefer to keep the bread of life in our own cupboard and to speak of it only to those who already have it. Do we subconsciously suppose that in such inbred silence we can keep our dignity, and unbelievers can go to hell where they belong?”

– Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 189.

Mark Dever’s Schedule for Reading Old Books

Mark Dever chronologically schedules old books into his reading. Genius. Insofar as this is a new year, I’m going to seek to follow his schedule, reading a book from each time period in its given month. Athanaisus’ On the Incarnation will be the book for January.

“Dever’s annual reading schedule is structured chronologically, and it looks something like this:

  • January: early church patristic writings (first through third centuries)
  • February: Augustine (354-430)
  • March: Martin Luther (1483-1546)
  • April: John Calvin (1509-1564)
  • May: Richard Sibbes (1577-1635)
  • June: John Owen (1616-1683) and John Bunyan (1628-1688)
  • July: Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
  • August: C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
  • September: B. B. Warfield (1851-1921)
  • October: Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981)
  • November: C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) and Carl F. H. Henry (1913-2003)
  • December: Contemporary authors”

– Tony Reinke, Lit!, 180-181.

“Wash thee in Christ’s blood”

Oh my black soul! now art thou summoned
By sickness, death’s herald, and champion;
Thou art like a pilgrim, which abroad hath done
Treason, and durst not turn to whence he is fled;
Or like a thief, which till death’s doom be read,
Wisheth himself delivered from prison,
But damned and haled to execution,
Wisheth that still he might be imprisoned.
Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lack;
But who shall give thee that grace to begin?
Oh make thy self with holy mourning black,
And red with blushing, as thou art with sin;
Or wash thee in Christ’s blood, which hath this might
That being red, it dyes red souls to white.

– John Donne, Holy Sonnets IV

“Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.”

Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like a usurpt town, to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your Viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy.
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again;
Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

– John Donne, Holy Sonnets, XIV.

Gandalf the Exegete

“‘Good morning!’ said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.

“‘What do you mean?’ he said. ‘Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning, or that it is a morning to be good on?'”

– The Hobbit (New York: Ballantine Books, 1985), 17-18.

Salvation by Grace

“God in His sovereign good pleasure from eternity elected certain persons in Christ to everlasting life. By nature the elect, like all other men, are totally depraved sinners who cannot save themselves. In order to save the elect God sent His Son into the world to purchase redemption for them by His precious blood and perfect obedience. By the atonement Christ merited for the elect the Holy Spirit, who effectually regenerates them and works the gift of saving faith in their hearts. That God’s chosen, whom Christ has redeemed and to whom the Holy Spirit has applied redemption, should perish is entirely out of the question. Those are the five points of Calvinism. Together they constitute one doctrine – that of salvation by sovereign grace.”

– R. B. Kuiper, For Whom did Christ Die? (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982), 70.