From the Pen of Samuel Rutherford

Screen Shot 2019-05-21 at 1.31.25 PMI have been reading and re-reading The Letters of Samuel Rutherford, and I keep jotting down notes, underlying -and over-underlying! the text, praying, and meditating on the words he penned from prison to his parishioners. What a gift for us to be encouraged by this man’s gift to point us to Christ and keep looking up to Him no matter how heavy our afflictions may be.

Here are a few quotes for your own encouragement and meditation:

“Now honor God, shame the strong roaring lion, when you seem weakest. Should such an one as you faint in the day of adversity? Call to mind the days of old; the Lord yet liveth; trust in him, although he should slay you. Faith is exceedingly charitable, and believeth no evil of God.”

“I would advise you ask of God a submissive heart.”

“…and though we cannot see a reason for it, yet He hath a most just reason.”

“Worthy and dear Lady, in the strength of Christ, fight and overcome. You are now alone, but you may have, for the seeking, three always in your company, the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. I trust they are near you.”

“Therefore, I entreat you and charge you in the Lord’s name, pray!”

“I know Christ shall make Aberdeen [where he was imprisoned] my garden of delights.”

“Faith will trust the Lord, and it is not hasty nor headstrong. Neither is faith so timorous as to flatter a temptation or ti bud and bribe the cross.”

“I think it the Lord’s wise love that feeds us with hunger, and makes us fat with wants and desertions.”

“I know that He who sent me to the west and south sends me also to the north. I will charge my soul to believe and to wait for Him, and will follow His Providence and not go before it nor stay behind it.”

“My adversaries have sent me here [the prison in Aberdeen] to be feasted with love banquets with my royal, high, high, and princely Lord Jesus.”

“But I will yield to Him, providing my suffering may preach more than my tongue did.. I will hold my peace hereafter.”

“To pray and believe now, when Christ seems to give you a nay-say, is more than it was before. Die believing; die, and Christ’s promise in your hand!”

“I find it most true, that the greatest temptation out of Hell is to live without temptations. If my waters would stand, they would rot. Faith is the better for the free air and the sharp winter-storm in its face. Grace withereth without adversity. The Devil is but God’s master-fencer, to teach us to handle our weapons.”

“[I have been helped] By praying for others; for, by making an errand to God  for them, I have gotten something for myself.”

“I have been really confirmed, in many particulars, that God heareth prayers; and therefore I used to pray for any thing, of how little importance soever.”

“I know it is no dumb Providence, but a speaking one, whereby our Lord speaketh his mind to you, though for the present ye do not well understand what He saith. However, it  be, he who sitteth upon the floods hath shown you this marvelous loving kindness in the great depths. I know that your loss is great, and your hope is gone far against you. but I entreat you, sir, expound aright our Lord’s laying all hindrances in the way.”

“My dear brother, let God make of you what he will, he will end all with consolation, and will make glory out of your sufferings; and would you wish better work? This water was in your way to heaven and written in your Lord’s Book: ye behoved to cross it, and therefore, kiss the wise and uttering Providence. Let not the censures of men, who see but the outside of things, and scare well that, abate your courage and rejoicing in the Lord. Howbeit your faith seeth but the black side of Providence, yet it hath a better side, and God will let you see it.”

“Your heart is not the compass Christ saileth by.”

“O sweet stability of well-founded salvation! Who could win heaven, if this were not so? and who could be saved, if God were not God, and if he were not such a God as He is? O, God be thanked, that our salvation is coasted and landed and shored upon Christ, who is Master of winds and storms!”

“I hold my peace here; let Him do His will.”

“I remain a still a prisoner of hope, and do think it service to the Lord to wait on still with submission, till the Lord’s morning sky break, and his summer day dawn.”

“Our hope is not hung upon such an untwisted thread as, “I imagine so” or “It is likely”; but the cable, the strong tow of our fastened anchor, is the oath and promise of Him who is eternal verity.”

“It is easy to make conscience believe as you will, not as you know.”

“My dear brother be not frightened at the cross of Christ. It is not seen yet what Christ will do for you when it cometh to the words. He will keep his grace till you be at starit, and then bring forth the decreed birth of your salvation. You are an arrow of his own making. Let Him shoot you against a wall of brass, your point shall keep whole.”

“If we had more practice of obedience, we should have more sound light.”

“Slack not your hands in meeting to pray.”

“You say, that you know not what to do… Say, “Pray, Father, save me from this hour”. What course can you take, but pray, and trust Christ’s own comforts? He is not bankrupt, take His Word. “Oh,” say you, “I cannot pray.” I answer, honest sighing is faith breathing and whispering in the ear..”

“Say, ‘I shall rather spoil twenty prayers, than to not pray at all. Let my broken words go up to Heaven; when they come up into the angel’s golden censer, that compassionate Advocate will put together my broken prayers and perfume them,’  Words are but accidents of prayer.”

“Lend Christ your melancholy, for Satan has no right to make chamber in your melancholy.”

“There is no way of quieting the mind, and of silencing the heart of a mother, but godly submission. The readiest way for peace and consolation to clay-vessels is, that it is a stroke of the Potter and Former of all things… It is not safe to be pulling and drawing with the Omnipotent Lord. Let the pull go with him, for he is strong; and say, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.”

“It is the art and sill of faith to read what the Lord writes upon the Cross, and to spell and construct right his sense. Often we miscall words and sentences of the cross, and either put nonsense on his rids, or burden His Majesty with slanders and mistakes, when He minded for us thoughts of peace and love, even to do us good in the latter end.”

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky Pliego

 

 

PC: Aaron Burden via Unsplash

The Best Book on Decluttering Your Home

We all want a home that sparks joy. But many times we get confused and start doing things that promise in vain to spark joy and peace in our homes… like decluttering our garage, our closets, and our kitchen.

And though we all know how satisfying it is to declutter our closet, we also know that many times, after we are finished with that big cleaning project that took us all day, the atmosphere in our home can still feel very heavy.  Why? Because we are spending all our energy decluttering our house, while neglecting decluttering the most important thing to in our home: our marriage.

Pastor Douglas Wilson wrote a wonderful book called Decluttering Your Marriage that I strongly recommend to you. It is shorter than any other book that promises to spark joy in your life, and has a cover that, well… is not necessarily the cover of a book for your coffee table, but that you really need to get and read (even if it has to be 1 of the 30 books you choose to keep in your house).

screen shot 2019-01-21 at 1.01.17 pmIn this short -but not sweet- book, Pastor Wilson helps us understand how important it is to declutter our marriage from our daily sin to find true joy in our home.

It is important to understand and believe as Christian wives that our focus, when things start to look and feel ugly in our marriage, should be to deal with our own sin (note the possessive). Trying to declutter the attic and our husband’s heart seems easier to do than decluttering our own heart, our own attitudes, our own intentions, our own thoughts, and our own sins. We feel that just like we have the right to sort out things in our husband’s side of the closet, we also have the right to sort out his own sins. After all we are women, which means that we know better how to make things and relationships spark joy, right?

Pastor Wilson’s book is straightforward and written with the intent to help his readers live in good and godly marriages. Marriages in which sin doesn’t reign, marriages in which sinful messes are cleaned up quickly, where love covers a multitude of offenses, and forgiveness abound.

This is a very practical book. But this doesn’t mean that it deals with sin issues in marriage in a superficial or simplistic way. Pastor Wilson believes through and through in the power of the gospel: repent and believe because all sins can be forgiven in Christ. And this book is about dealing with sin in marriage with the gospel.

Decluttering Your Marriage is a challenging and helpful book, that at first will not spark joy in your life. It will make you uncomfortable, it will force you to look into your own heart and repent of your own sin before doing the next thing. But, oh boy, the joy, the true joy that doesn’t fade away like a spark that flies up in the air and then disappears,  will for sure invade your heart and home if you put all effort to declutter your marriage starting with your own sins.

You can buy this little book from Amazon, Canon Press, and also as an Audiobook (which you can listen in less than an hour!)

Under His sun and by grace,

Becky

 

Beautiful Illuminated Bibles

Following up with yesterday’s post about the dangers of the “Bible Journaling” movement, I now want to point out to you some beautiful modern examples of illuminated Bibles.

The first one is the ESV Illuminated Bible. This is a really beautiful Bible . The golden illustrations are exquisite and stand out on the cream colored pages.

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Another favorite in our home is The Four Holy Gospels illustrated by Makoto Fujimura and published by Crossway.

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Here is part of the description on the publisher’s website:

The Four Holy Gospels is an exquisitely designed and produced edition of the four canonical Gospels in the English Standard Version, published in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Version (KJV) Bible in 1611.

The Four Holy Gospels features newly commissioned original paintings representing the four Gospel Evangelists, illuminated initial letters, and other embellishments and design elements, printed in full color throughout and on high-quality art paper. The text of the Gospels is reproduced in a highly readable, large font; ideally suited for public reading, liturgical use, and as a family heirloom.

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The Four Holy Gospels stands in the historic stream of the beautifully hand-illuminated editions of the Gospels created many centuries ago. This exquisite and unique modern edition carries on a classic tradition, beautifully combining the words of the Gospels and original art, inspired by the text, and brilliantly executed for the glory of God.

Other beautiful illustrated books on the Psalms are these:

The Psalms of David with Illuminations by James F. Freemantle.

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And the Psalms of David: A Faithful Reproduction of the Original 1885 Edition, The Great Illuminated Psalter Dedicated to Queen Victoria. (Sadly, it appears that this book is out of print).

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Have a wonderful weekend, Friends.

And if you have the creative bug itching you, buy a canvas and draw your favorite Bible verse.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

To Lent or Not to Lent

pexels-photo-792953.jpegIn our family we don’t observe Lent for the same reasons our Pastor explains in this interview. However, because we still want to keep the Christian calendar, what we have done for years is that after dinner we stop reading the book or devotional we have chosen for  the year and start reading about the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ. Just like in Christmas we gather all the books that tell of the Incarnation of our Lord, in this season we too look for good the books that talk about the Cross and the Resurrection of our Lord and mediate on their significance in our lives.

Super simple and yet it has proven a great blessing to us.

A few books I would like to  suggest you are these:

Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross editor Nancy Guthrie

“This collection of readings, drawn from the writings and sermons of 25 classic and contemporary theologians and Bible teachers, focuses on the wonder of Christ’s sacrifice.”

Love to the Uttermost, by John Piper

Love to the Uttermost: Devotional Readings for Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, ends on Easter Sunday, and aims to focus our attention on Jesus as he displays his love to the uttermost (John 13:1). These meditations on the self-giving love of Christ are all excerpted from the preaching and writing ministry of John Piper.”

Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper.

“The most important questions anyone can ask are: Why was Jesus Christ crucified? Why did he suffer so much? What has this to do with me? Finally, who sent him to his death? The answer to the last question is that God did. Jesus was God’s Son. The suffering was unsurpassed, but the whole message of the Bible leads to this answer.”

Spurgeon’s Sermons on the Cross of Christ

You can also read books about the work of Christ, about how Sanctification works, about the mortification of sin, etc.

May the Lord open our eyes to see what a great Salvation we have in Christ!

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

An Interview with Author Diana Lovegrove -and a Giveaway-

Buy here.

I am so very happy to introduce you to a wonderful devotional book that is clearly steeped in the Scriptures: Dear Pilgrim by my dear friend Diana Lovegrove.

So, dear friends, grab a cup of tea and enjoy this interview with my Diana Lovegrove.

B-Why this devotional: Dear Pligrim: A Series of Exhortations and Encouragements

Diana -First of all, I want to thank you, Becky, for inviting me to this interview and allowing me to visit your beautiful blog. May the Lord richly bless you!

Pilgrim began with a visit to the mountains. We so easily focus downwards, on what is around us, our circumstances, and our eyes get drawn down. But the Lord showed me the importance of us having a heavenly perspective, of making an ascent or Aliyah – going up! As I started reading in the Word of those occasions when our eyes are lifted up, it became clear that the Lord brings revelation at those times. And it is through revelation that our God transforms our lives.

As I continued writing and following themes throughout the Scriptures, I discovered that no matter where I began, or what topic I was looking at, I was always led to Christ, to look up to Him, to feed from Him. So every chapter is, in essence, an ascent. And from there, from that place on the mountain peaks, we gain the strength and perspective to continue our journey in grace and righteousness, even if that journey takes us to the lowest valleys. For He tells us that “the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven” (Deuteronomy 11:11). If we’ve been on the mountain top with Him, we can go with strength into the valley below, knowing that the valley also drinks in the rain from heaven. As we grow in our understanding of the depths of the riches of our inheritance in Him, the light on our path becomes brighter and the honey in His Word becomes sweeter. Through Pilgrim I wanted to encourage others to see the riches that are ours in Christ, riches that we can enjoy today in our walk with Him, being made whole in Him, and to exclaim and delight in those truths together!

B- When and how did your pilgrimage begin? 

Diana  -I was brought up in a church-going family and regularly attended an Anglican church. Lots of ritual, and lots of good behavior. But I never understood that Jesus had died on the cross for my sins. My dad was killed in a car crash when I was 13 years old, and we drifted away from church after that. I never stopped believing in God, but I lost my way in finding Him. I became interested in New Age thinking, and even encouraged my mum to take up Transcendental Meditation. I was 20 when the Lord finally opened my eyes to the beauty of the gospel message. I’d been away at university for a term, and when I returned home for Christmas, I was struck by the difference I saw in my mum’s behavior. Whilst I’d been away, she had become a Christian. The change I saw in her life drew me to find out more about Jesus, and when a friend of hers explained the gospel to me, I repented of my sins and believed in Him.

B -What has been the hardest thing to learn in your pilgrimage?

Diana  -To die. I spent the first 18 years of my Christian walk going round and round in a circle of despair. It was the most frustrating experience, and I had severe bouts of depression. I was filled with guilt and condemnation. I knew that God loved me, and had forgiven me, yet I couldn’t seem to walk in that truth, and I kept trying to earn His love for me and failing miserably. Looking back, I can see I hadn’t died. The cross had not slain me. I had crossed the Red Sea and had escaped from Egypt, but I hadn’t yet crossed the Jordan to enter into a land flowing with milk and honey, the place of inheritance. I was going round and round in circles in the wilderness. Praise God, He used our time of malnourishment in a seeker-sensitive church to draw me to search for the gospel message in all its fullness, and when my eyes were finally lifted up to behold the Lord in all of His glory, I died – and I have to continue to die every day. There is a passage in Luke 13:10-13 which tells of a woman crippled by a spirit and bent over for 18 years. Jesus came and touched her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. This could be my own testimony, including the length of time she was crippled and bent over! I can’t wait to meet this woman in glory one day!

B -What has been the most joyful?

Diana -To walk in assurance of His love and forgiveness, whatever the circumstances, whatever the difficulties, that is a place of deep joy, blessing and of peace. To be at peace with God, the Creator of the Universe, the Holy, Holy, Holy God….to be reconciled to Him, all because of what His Son accomplished for us, to be free of condemnation – there is no better state. The devil will seek to kill, to destroy, to rob us of that joy – and admittedly there are times when I am shaken, and despair threatens to creep back in. But the moment I lift my eyes, the very moment – nothing can take away the assurance He brings through His Spirit. And then to discover that the inheritance He has for us is a land flowing with milk and honey….what provision He has made for us…I have tried to capture that joy in Pilgrim as He has revealed some of that abundance to me.

B -What has sustained you through it?

Diana  -He has! In my darkest moments, I was intent on self-destructing. I had pushed God away, and I had completely isolated myself from those around me. It makes me tremble now to recall how cold I was towards those who loved me. Yet He never let go of me. More than that, He pursued me. He sought me out and He rescued me from the prison of my despair. And He continues to sustain me. Time and again, He reveals to me the weakness of my flesh – which makes me more desperate to cling to Him. He provides everything I need to keep on keeping on.

B  -How is it important to have faithful companions in our pilgrimage?

Diana  -I don’t believe God ever intended for us to pilgrimage alone, and yet so many of us have this mistaken view that all that matters is our own individual walk with the Lord. That was my own mindset. But it is not true – God’s purposes are much greater than that! I have been so blessed by my husband, Peter. His love of the Lord, and his faithful love to me over the years has never wavered. He has been such a firm rock and support to me. And then the Lord has brought along friends in the Lord to encourage. I must make mention of Liz, who wrote one of the chapters in Pilgrim. The Lord brought her into my life when I was still trying to find my way out of despair, and He used her faith-filled words of counsel to encourage me to look up, to reach out for a touch from Him. When someone knows their God, has spent time in His presence because of the revelation He has given them of Himself, it affects the way they see things, their language, everything. There is an aroma of Christ about them. People have testified as to how they have found Dear Pilgrim to be warm and encouraging – this is because it reflects the warmth and encouragement that my own ears have heard from those around me who have exhorted and encouraged and comforted me in the Lord.

And then the local church – truly, we have been so blessed as a family through our church, Gateway Christian Fellowship, in Yateley. This small fellowship came together almost 4 years ago, and we have grown so much in our walk and understanding of the Lord since then. Our dear pastor, Tom Chacko, and his wife, Dorothy, pour themselves out for us as a fellowship. Tom’s heart, reflecting the heart of the Lord, is that we will learn to walk together as a community of believers, being involved in one another’s lives during the week and not just on Sunday. We are gradually learning this, and we are beginning to taste the firstfruits of the richness this brings to us as a fellowship.

B -I know you love to sing, to play the guitar, and to compose music (and poetry!) for our God. What role has music had in your pilgrimage?

Diana  -I began writing songs when I was in despair, and whenever I sang those angst-filled songs, I would remind myself of my misery. It is such a blessing instead to be able to write songs of praise to the Lord that we sing in our fellowship! Songs that take our focus away from ourselves and onto Him! As a fellowship we were recently blessed when one lady wrote a beautiful poem called “All to His glory” that I was able to set to music – and this is inspiring others in our fellowship to write – the children are now writing their own songs too!

B. Where are you heading now in your pilgrimage?



Diana  -We are currently in a season as a family where I am working part time as an accountant to enable my husband to retrain from teaching into accountancy, and also devote time to serving the local fellowship through teaching the Word and the other duties he has as a deacon. We also have some important decisions to make regarding the schooling of our son, Harry, as it is our hope that Peter will begin homeschooling Harry next year. We are also excited to see where the Lord takes us as a church fellowship. Whatever we do, wherever the Lord leads us, we need to spend time with Him on the mountains so that He can supply us with all we need to walk in the good works He has prepared in advance for us.

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Thank you, dear Diana, for taking the time to share with us more about you, your pilgrimage, and your book.

Now let me share with you about the giveaway of this beautiful devotional book! To enter, please leave a comment here, and if you feel inclined to do so, share this interview on social media for extra chances to win.

I will announce a winner next Saturday, December 19 (the draw will happen Friday, December 18 at 7:00 PM CT).

Grace and Peace,

Becky