Why the Reformation Still Matters by Michael Reeves and Tim Chester. Crossway. 224 pages. 2016 ****
The authors write that at the heart the Reformation was a dispute about how we know God and how we can be right with him. Our eternal future was at stake, a choice between heaven and hell. For the Reformers there was no need more pressing than assurance in the face of divine judgment, and there was no act more loving than to proclaim a message of grace that granted eternal life to those who responded with faith. Though many will tell you that the Reformation doesn’t matter or even was a bad idea, the authors tell us otherwise. They state that the Reformation still matters because eternal life still matters. In addition, the Reformation still matters because the debates between Catholics and Protestants have not gone away.
The authors outline some key emphases of the Reformation and explore their contemporary relevance. Subjects covered by the authors include the sacraments, the preaching of the Word, sin, grace, the cross, union with Christ, the Holy Spirit, the church, vocation, Purgatory, indulgences, justification, and the authority of scripture in comparison with the authority of the church and tradition. Continue reading →
Perception is the third studio album by NF. It’s the follow-up to 2016’s Therapy Session, and it doesn’t disappoint. The album debuted at #1 on both iTunes Top Albums and Hip-Hop/Rap charts. The sixteen-song album is written by NF and produced by Tommee Profitt, unless noted otherwise. The album cover shows NF in a cage, holding six keys—an image that was first displayed in the “Outro” music video.
Below are a few brief comments about each song:
Intro III – This song starts slowly with the vocal over keys and then builds in intensity with percussion and some voices, before ending quietly with keys. He talks about his old fears, stemming back to when his mother’s boyfriend was physically abusing him his sister. Key lyric: Hey, I’m NF. Is it me or the fear talking? Outcast – This song opens and closes with the sound of keys in a cell door. It begins with synth and then builds in intensity with a strong beat and backing voices. He doesn’t want to fit the mold or blend in with other rappers.
10 Feet Down – This song is written by Kyd the Band, Maggie Eckford (Ruelle) and NF, and features vocals from Ruelle. The intro and outro of the song are played backwards. The song talks about forgetting the important things as he climbs to the top and gets there. It features a good steady beat, less intense than first two songs. Key lyric: Yeah, seems like we’re all trying to climb a ladder. It’s crazy what we’ll do to climb it faster. It’s like we throw away the things in life that really matter, just so that we can make it to the top and wonder what we’re even climbing after.
Green Lights – This song was produced by David Garcia, Tommee Profitt and NF. It was the second single released in advance of the album’s release. The song features a good beat throughout. He has a positive outlook. All he sees for his life is green lights. He’s not going to let anyone distract him. Key lyric: Who’d have known I’d write something that could change lives? Dreams – This song features a slower beat. He reflects on sad days, regret, relationships from Michigan and doing himself, following his dreams. Let You Down – This song is written by Tommee Profitt and NF and produced by David Garcia and Profitt. It has a slower beat, and is about his relationship with his father. He’s sorry that he’s let him down. He doesn’t want to be a disappointment to him. Destiny – This song is produced by BLRZ and Tommee Profitt. It is an intense song, as he raps about fulfilling his destiny. Key lyric: Forget the mansion, I’m in the attic. My Life – This song is produced by David Garcia. The song is addressed to his sister, who is probably wasted by 10:00am. They don’t have a lot in common, but both miss their mother. He states that we all make mistakes, that’s just life. Key lyric: Life’s about taking chances, making moves, not about what you did, it’s what you do.
You’re Special – This song appears to be about a current girlfriend. It has a slower pace, with a good beat. He needs a woman he knows he can trust and he has one. If You Want Love – This song has a slower pace. It opens and closes with guitar. If you want love you’re going to have go through pain and learn how to change. Key lyric: I‘ve always tried to control things, in the end that’s what controls me.
Remember This – This song picks back up the intensity with a good beat. He encourages us to surround ourselves with people that challenge how we think, not people that nod their heads and act like they agree. His biggest failures in life are knowing that he hasn’t tried. Key lyric: I’ve always had a problem with relationships, but that’s what happens when you see the world through a broken lens. Know – On this song, he brings intensity, wanting us to know that he’s back with a vengeance trying to be the best rapper that’s ever walked the earth. He’s going to outwork all the others. He wants to know what’s it’s like to be happy and have friends that understand him.
Lie – Anger comes through on this song addressed to a former girlfriend. She lies, telling friends one thing, and him another.
3 A.M. – This song is produced by David Garcia. He sings about a past relationship that went bad. Key lyric: Everyone’s your friend when the music start buzzing
I’m closer to the people that were there when I was nothing.
One Hundred – This song is produced by David Garcia. He’s confident in what he’s achieved as he tells other rappers that he’s here to coach them.
Outro – The closing song is produced by David Garcia and Tommee Profitt. It is written by Garcia, Profitt and NF. It was the first single released from the album. Over a synth back, he sings with confidence about his new music he’s about to release. Continue reading →
Same Kind of Different as Me is an inspirational film based on a true story. The film is directed by Michael Carney. The screenplay is written by Carney, Alexander Foard and Ron Hall, based on the bestselling book Same Kind of Different as Me by Hall, Denver Moore and Lynn Vincent. The film features a very good cast, with four Oscar nominees, two of whom are Oscar winners.
As the film begins, we meet wealthy Texas art dealer Ron Hall, played by Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear (As Good as It Gets). Ron’s marriage to Debby, played by a nearly unrecognizable Oscar winner Renée Zellweger (Cold Mountain), hasn’t been good for a while, and he is now having an affair. When told by an acquaintance that if he doesn’t tell Debby about the affair that she will, Ron does confess to Debby, who is a Christian. The assumption is that Greg is not a believer.
Debby forces Ron to choose between her and the woman he is having an affair with. Ron chooses Debby and she agrees to forgive him, even calling the woman Ron has been having an affair with. She also wants him to serve with her at Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth, a local homeless shelter where we meet the likeable Chef Jim (Thomas Francis Murphy).
Debby is also having dreams, about a wise old Black man who will change the city.
It is at the homeless shelter that Ron and Debby meet Denver, whose street name is ‘Suicide’, played by two-time Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, In America). Debby tells Ron that Denver is the man she has seen in her dreams. As they get to know Denver and build a relationship with him, Ron and Debby hear of his horrific past, which we see in flashbacks.
Oscar winner Jon Voight (Coming Home) plays Ron’s obnoxious alcoholic father Earl. Father and son have a contentious relationship. Ron’s mother is played by Geraldine Singer. The Hall’s children are Regan (Olivia Holt) and Carson (Austin Filson).
As far as content issues, the film does include several instances of the “n-word” and some of the flashbacks from Denver’s life show horrific things that happened to him.
The film is built around relationships and is a bit slow. In addition, clocking in at a full two hours, it could have been edited down significantly.
Overall, this is an inspirational film based on a true story that is well-acted, particularly by Djimon Hounsou. Themes include self-sacrifice, pain, faith in action, love, kindness, forgiveness, friendship and hope.
The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation by Michael Reeves. B&H Publishing Group. 211 pages. 2013 ****
The author, who has written extensively on the Protestant Reformation, states that the Reformation was a revolution, and revolutions not only fight for something, they also fight against something, in the case of the Reformation, this was the old world of medieval Roman Catholicism. He states that most Christians at the time were looking for the improvement, but not the overthrow, of their religion. They were not looking for radical change, only a clearing-up of acknowledged abuses. He tells us that the Reformation was not principally a negative movement about moving away from Rome, but a positive movement about moving towards the gospel.
In this fast-moving history, the author, using his knowledge and wit to introduce us to John Wycliffe (who organized a translation of the Latin Vulgate Bible into English), indulgences, Luther nailing his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church on All Saints’ Eve, Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli, the Anabaptists, Mennonites, John Calvin and his ministry in Geneva, and William Tyndale, whose life’s work was translating the Bible from its original Greek and Hebrew into English.
He writes about John Knox, the history of the English Reformation, including the Puritans, who thought that the Reformation was a good thing that was not yet complete. We are introduced to the preacher Richard Sibbes, the Westminster Assembly and John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress. And much, much more.
The author asks if the Reformation is over. He writes that Roman Catholicism continues its belief in purgatory and indulgences, sure signs that the traditional Catholic doctrine of justification is at work. He states that without doubt, there has been something of a change in Rome, but concerning those theological issues that caused the Reformation, no doctrine has been rescinded. As a result, while attempts to foster greater Christian unity must be applauded, it must also be recognized that, as things stand, the Reformation is anything but over. Continue reading →
Only the Brave is a well-acted and directed film based on true events.
This film is based on Sean Flynn’s 2013 GQ Magazine story “No Exit: The Granite Mountain Yarnell Fire Investigation”. It is directed by Joseph Kosinski, who is rumored to be directing Tom Cruise’s upcoming Top Gun: Maverick. The screenplay is written by Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down), and the Oscar nominated writer Eric Warren Singer (American Hustle), and it features a strong cast. The movie was filmed in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The film is about an Arizona firefighting crew from Prescott, Arizona. They are led by superintendent Eric Marsh, played by Oscar nominated Josh Brolin (Milk). Marsh is married to Amanda, played by Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind). We see marital tension in their relationship from the very beginning, primarily due to Eric’s demanding job, but we also see they deeply care for each other.
As the film opens, we see Eric interviewing new members for his crew. Among them are Brendan McDonough, played by Miles Teller (Whiplash). Brendan has made a mess of his life thus far (we see him taking drugs, getting in trouble with the law and getting kicked out of his Mom’s house). When he finds out that he is responsible for an ex-girlfriend getting pregnant, he decides to become responsible and interviews to be a member of Marsh’s crew. On the surface, there is no way that Marsh would take him, but he does. We later find out that the two have more in common than we would have believed, as much of the story focuses on the personal lives of Eric and Brendan.
Eric is trying to get his firefighters certified, which would make them the country’s first municipal Hotshot squad. Note: Hotshots are an elite group of forest firefighters who are specially trained and certified to go into areas already on fire. Without the certification, Eric’s crew is part of a second wave of firefighters behind the Hotshots.
Jeff Bridges, seven-time Oscar nominee and winner for Crazy Heart, delivers an excellent performance as Wildland Division Chief for the city of Prescott Duane Steinbrink. Bridges may get another Oscar nomination for his performance here. Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell portrays Steinbrink’s wife Marvel in a small role.
Duane is a father-figure to Marsh and is able to get Marsh an evaluation that could lead to his crew being certified. Although Marsh believes he has blown the evaluation when he treats the evaluator with a lack of respect, the crew is certified. They take as their name the Granite Mountain Hotshots. After the brave crew saves an important local tree, they are welcomed back as heroes. The film culminates in the Yarnell Hill fire on June 30, 2013.
Eric Marsh’s Buddhist faith is depicted briefly in the film and one of the Hotshots is shown reading the Bible a few times. The film is rated PG-13 for a significant amount of adult language, including the misuse of God’s and Jesus’ names. It also depicts intense scenes of dangerous forest fires, including scenes of the Hotshots in action, which are captured by cinematographer Claudio Miranda, Oscar winner for Life of Pi.There were some children in the audience – my wife and I both thought that due to the language and serious subject matter that it would not be appropriate for kids under 10-12.
The film was released with wildfires currently in the news as more than 40 have died as a result of fires in Northern California. As a result, though this film is receiving excellent reviews from both critics and viewers, it performed poorly at the box office.
Although this film was slow-going early on, it included great scenes of hard work, sacrificial service, camaraderie and loyal friendship. It is overall well-made and acted, and a fitting tribute to the heroism of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
Preservation of the Saints. Does “once saved” mean “always saved”? For some, doubts about salvation can lead to a shaky faith, while others use the doctrine of eternal security as a license for spiritual carelessness. Against such extremes, in this message from a Ligonier National Conference, Alistair Begg examines the Bible’s teaching on the “preservation of the saints”—the belief that once someone has been saved, God enables him or her to persevere in faith. Scripture’s warnings, he reminds us, should be taken seriously, even as its assurances lead us to lives of greater devotion and trust in Christ alone.
Matrimony No More. John Piper writes “In sum, marriage ends because its procreating purpose is not needed in the resurrection (Luke 20:35–36). Marriage ends because all its pleasures are preludes and pointers to something so much better that the human heart cannot imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9). When the perfect comes, the partial passes away. And marriage ends in order to put the married and the non-married on the same footing for enjoying the fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).”
Is Genre Important in Bible Reading?We must not let “genre” dictate our understanding of texts. Rather, at every place in the Bible, our question must be, “What is the author trying to communicate here?” Watch this new four-minute video from John Piper.
Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week
Self-Control and the Power of Christ. David Mathis writes “Because self-control is a gift, produced in and through us by God’s Spirit, Christians can and should be the people on the planet most hopeful about growing in self-control. We are, after all, brothers of the most self-controlled man in the history of the world.”
God Wounds Us Because He Loves Us. Marshall Segal writes “Don’t be afraid to feel the pain in suffering, and to grieve the pain, but let it lead you to God, not away from him. He is wounding you with love, and pleading with you to run to him.”
Welcome Everyone, Affirm No One.Trevin Wax writes “Self-affirmation is the gospel of the American culture; we are idolaters when we make it the gospel of the Christian church. The church exists not to affirm ourselves, but to adore the King who loved us and gave himself for us when there was nothing good in us to affirm. The more we affirm ourselves, the less we adore the King for his grace.”
Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven. Watch this message from Albert Mohler. We believe that there is only way to Heaven. The good news is that there is a way at all.
Acknowledging the Vulnerability of Not Having Control. Scotty Smith prays “Heavenly Father, we’re sothankful that you, quite literally, have the whole world in your hand. That frees us to acknowledge the obvious–we don’t. We don’t have control over a lot of things. But as we come to you this morning with empty hands, we do so, not to grab what isn’t ours to control, but to raise our hands in praise and surrender to you.”
Prosperity Theology Tells Us to Live Now as Kings, Not Servants. Randy Alcorn writes that the “prosperity gospel” is a “philosophy teaches that the more money you give away, the wealthier you will become. Following God through giving and other forms of obedience becomes a formula for abundant provision and the celebration of prosperous living. This is, in essence, a Christianized materialism.”
Theologian for the Ages: John Calvin. Steven Lawson writes “John Calvin (1509–1564) is easily the most important Protestant theologian of all time and remains one of the truly great men who have lived. A world-class theologian, a renowned teacher, an ecclesiastical statesman, and a valiant Reformer, Calvin is seen by many as the greatest influence on the church since the first century. Apart from the biblical authors themselves, Calvin stands as the most influential minister of the Word the world has ever seen.”
Looking at Wittenberg in the Time of Martin Luther. Justin Taylor writes “On Saturday, October 31, 1517, Dr. Martin Luther–a 33-year-old Roman Catholic priest and theology professor at the University of Wittenberg–stood in front of the doors to the Castle Church and nailed a paper with his now famous 95 Theses, handwritten in Latin.”
The Death of Ulrich Zwingli. William Boekestein shares this story adapted from his Young Adult biography of Ulrich Zwingli, Shepherd Warrior.
Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles
GRIPING VS. CONTENTMENT:
4 Major Gripes Heard Around the Office. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “As a speaker in hundreds of companies, I’ve kept a record of the gripes I hear people utter. After all, it’s my job as a speaker/trainer/coach to turn those things around. These are the four most commonly heard gripes these days.”
What is Biblical Contentment? Dave Kraft writes “Contentment has less to do with the amount of, or intensity, of the activity you are involved in and more to do with your mind-set. Who are you truly trusting to see things happen in your life, relationships, work and ministry–yourself or God?”
VOCATION AND CALLING:
“Job Crafting”: Cultivating Our Vocation at Work. Stevan Becker writes “Cultivating our vocation is a matter of listening to God in the particulars of our work situation and discovering the unique things we’ve been created to do. Cultivating our job may mean taking what we have to work with and recreating”
How to Glorify God at Work. John Piper writes “The point is: Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or work, do all to make God look as great as he really is.”
Your Calling Actually Isn’t About You. Sharon Hodde Miller writes “At some point, a self-centered calling conflicts with God-centered callings, because God-centered callings always lead to a cross. God-centered callings involve suffering, sacrifice, and looking like a fool, because this is the path of the Savior we follow. If your calling is about your image or your reputation or your comfort and convenience, it will eventually diverge from the path of Christ. At some point, God will ask you to do something that isn’t about you or doesn’t feel good or requires you to suffer, and you will have to make a choice.”
Top Reasons Why a Long Commute May Be Worth It. Hugh Whelchel writes “Work is necessary for a meaningful life, but we must not make our work themeaning for our existence. As Christians, we must find our identity in Christ, not in our work. Yet, work is the major way we respond to God’s call on our lives. So, no matter the length of your commute, be encouraged that what you do today at work matters!”
REAL LIFE EXAMPLES:
God Works in Advertising, Too. Stevan Becker writes “God is intimately involved in our work. He cares about the details. He’s doing his work through the work of our hands—even in the “secular” sales and advertising space. No matter what you do for work, stop and pray through your projects, both the big ones and the small ones. Pray that he will be glorified as you serve him in all you do.”
Everybody Matters Podcast: Mark Sawyier of Bonfyre. This episode of the Everybody Matters Podcast features a discussion with Mark Sawyier of Bonfyre, a company who has created a workplace culture platform that is helping organizations engage, include and inspire their people.
Bible Study Fellowship Rewrites the Rulebook. Deborah Pardo-Kaplan writes “Jackson’s under-40s demographic is the main target of BSF’s recent BRIDGE initiative, a five-year campaign focused on drawing in Bible-friendly millennials but also unengaged ones through social media, new class models, and more studies. While the organization has always wanted to draw from all age groups, it has recently pivoted harder to reach more young adults, a generation BSF leadership feels is growing detached from religion, is less exposed to church, and is increasingly antagonistic toward Christianity and the Bible.”
1 in 3 Protestant Churchgoers Personally Affected by Suicide. Bob Smietana writes “LifeWay’s study found three-quarters (76 percent) of churchgoers say suicide is a problem that needs to be addressed in their community. About a third (32 percent) say a close acquaintance or family member has died by suicide.”
This film features some strong acting performances. It is newly available on video and based on the true-life story of Maud Lewis, one of the most beloved folk artists of 20th century Canada.
It opens in the late 1930’s and is set in Marshalltown in rural Nova Scotia, a beautiful quaint little town (the film was actually partially shot in Ireland and other parts of Canada). The film is visually stunning as we see the seasons change thanks to the cinematography work of Guy Godfree.
Maud Dowley, played by Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, stemming from childhood rheumatic fever. As the film opens Maud is living with her Aunt Ida (Gabrielle Rose). Maud’s brother Charles (Zachery Bennett) is paying Ida to look after Maud. He tells Maud that she is not coming home. As a matter of fact, there is no home to go to, as he has sold the family home. Maud is devastated. Charles then leaves, saying good-bye to Maud, for what appears to be the last time.
We then see Maud, who uncomfortably walks with a limp and with difficulty, sneak out of Ida’s home late at night to go a local club – to listen to music, drink beer and smoke. Ida refers to something that has happened to her in the past; we eventually find out that Maud once had a baby out of wedlock. At the time, Maud was told that the baby was badly deformed and died while she was asleep.
While in the local dry goods store, Maud hears Everette Lewis, a crusty fish peddler played by four-time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke, indicate that he is looking for a live-in house maid. Maud decides to make the long walk out to Lewis’ small home, which has no plumbing or electricity, to apply for the position which pays 25 cents a week plus room and board. This begins the uncomfortable relationship between Maud and Everette, who can be verbally and physically cruel to her (once telling her that his dogs and chickens were higher in the pecking order than she was). He usually communicates via grunts.
We eventually see Maud cleaning up and making changes in the sparse one-bedroom home, basically a shack with a bed in an upstairs attic. She starts by painting birds on the walls. She makes dinner for the hard to like Lewis and eventually shares his bed with him. When he tries to have sex with her, she states that they should get married, which they eventually do in a local church. We then see these two people, both orphans and societal outcasts, slowly begin to find comfort in their relationship together.
Maud’s paintings come to the attention of one of Everett’s customers, the likeable and kind Sandra (Kari Matchett), a rich neighbor from New York, who is the first to want to buy Maud’s paintings and small cards. The word eventually spreads about Maud’s paintings, in large part due to a magazine article, and she even receives a request for a painting from then Vice President Richard Nixon. We later see many coming out to the small home to buy her paintings, including brother Charles.
The film is directed by Aisling Walsh and written by Sherry White. Hawkins is incredible in her portrayal of Maud, doing an amazing job portraying the physical challenges of her character, which only increase as she ages. Hawke portrays Lewis well, as a man who is much harder for us to like and who finds it hard to show his love for Maud.
The film is rated PG-13 for brief scenes of sexuality (nothing explicit is shown). In addition, God’s name is abused once.
Check out this well-acted and sweet film about the unconventional love story of Maud and Everette Lewis. You won’t regret it.
A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin. Translated by Burk Parsons and Aaron Denlinger. Reformation Trust Publishing. 132 pages. 2017 ****
This short book on the Christian life is extracted from the second edition (1539) of John Calvin’s classic book Institutes of the Christian Religion. Parsons and Denlinger have given us an excellent new translation of the book, based upon the final and definitive Latin edition of the Institutes. The translators have striven to make Calvin’s meaning as clear as possible to English readers.
Calvin’s goal with the book was simply to present to godly people a model for ordering their lives. His purpose in this work is to present doctrine simply and concisely. He writes that the goal of God’s work in us is to bring our lives into harmony and agreement with His own righteousness, and so to manifest to ourselves and others our identity as His adopted children.
He tells us that there are two main parts to the instruction from Scripture on the Christian life that he will address. The first is that a love of righteousness—to which we are not naturally prone—must be implanted and poured into our hearts. The second is that we need some model that will keep us from losing our way in our pursuit of righteousness.
Calvin covers a number of themes in this short book, among them the holiness of God, doctrine, God’s Law, self-denial, uprightness and godliness, the cross, suffering and affliction, endurance and our calling.
This is a wonderful new translation of a classic from Calvin. Highly recommended reading in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
30 Quotes from A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin. Translated by Burk Parsons and Aaron Denlinger
When we contemplate this relationship between ourselves and God, let us remember that holiness is the bond of our union with Him.
Holiness is the goal of our calling. Therefore, we must consistently set our sights upon holiness if we would rightly respond to God’s calling.
Scripture tells us that God the Father, who has reconciled us to Himself in His Anointed One, Jesus Christ, has given us in Christ a model to which we should conform our lives.
Doctrine is rightly received when it takes possession of the entire soul and finds a dwelling place and shelter in the most intimate affections of the heart. In order for doctrine to be fruitful to us, it must overflow into our hearts, spread into our daily routines, and truly transform us within.
Right living has a spiritual basis where the inner affection of the soul is sincerely devoted to God for the nurture of holiness and righteousness.
The Law of the Lord is the best and most suitable instruction for the proper ordering of our lives.
Once self-denial has occupied the heart, it crowds out the evils of pride, arrogance, and pretentiousness as well as greed, lust, gluttony, cowardice, and everything else that is born of self-love. On the other hand, where self-denial does not reign, the worst vices thrive shamelessly.
The proper use, then, of all the good gifts we have received is the free and generous sharing of those gifts with others.
Scripture teaches us that all the gifts we utilize are given to us by God.
You have no cause to evade anyone who stands before you and needs your service.
We should always look to the Lord, that by His care we might be led to whatever lot in life He provides for us.
No one, then, has properly denied himself except the one who has entirely abandoned himself to the Lord so that every aspect of his life will be governed by His will.
For those whom the Lord has chosen and condescended to welcome into fellowship with Him should prepare themselves for a life that is hard, laborious, troubled, and full of many and various kinds of evil. For it’s the will of their heavenly Father to test them in this way so that He might prove them by trials.
God has promised believers that He will be with them in times of suffering.
There is, then, good reason for difficult circumstances in the lives of the saints, since they create endurance in them.
Scripture supplies a more profound reason for us when it teaches that in adverse circumstances we’re being disciplined by the Lord so that we won’t be condemned with the world.
Whether we suffer poverty, exile, imprisonment, contempt, sickness, childlessness, or any such thing, let us remember that nothing happens apart from God’s pleasure and providence, and that God Himself does nothing that isn’t perfectly in order.
If it’s clear that tribulations work toward our salvation, shouldn’t we accept them with a grateful and calm spirit? In bearing them with endurance, we’re not yielding to necessity, but we’re assenting to our own good.
In whatever trouble comes to us, we should always set our eyes on God’s purpose to train us to think little of this present life and inspire us to think more about the future life.
There’s no middle ground between these two things: either earth must become worthless to us, or we must remain bound by the chains of extravagant love for it. If, then, we care for eternity, we must make every effort to free ourselves from those chains.
This life, though bursting at the seams with every kind of misery, should still be considered one of God’s blessings that shouldn’t be dismissed.
The Lord has so ordered things that those who will one day be crowned in heaven will first encounter struggles on earth.
No one has made much progress in the school of Christ who doesn’t look forward joyfully both to his death and the day of his final resurrection.
The cross of Christ finally triumphs in believers’ hearts—over the devil, the flesh, sin, and the wicked—when their eyes are turned to the power of the resurrection.
Scripture teaches that everything we own—everything appointed for our benefit—has been given to us by God’s kindness, so that all that we own is like a deposit for which we must one day give an account.
He has ordained particular duties to each one in his station in life. And so that no one should overstep his boundaries, He has identified various stations in life as callings.
Every individual’s rank in life, therefore, is a kind of post assigned to him by the Lord, to keep him from rushing about rashly for the whole of his life.
The one who doesn’t frame his actions with reference to his calling will never keep the right course in his duties.
Consequently, the one who directs himself toward the goal of observing God’s calling will have a life well composed.
For every work performed in obedience to one’s calling, no matter how ordinary and common, is radiant—most valuable in the eyes of our Lord.