Friday, April 30, 2010

Holy Darkness

There is an old song that Catholic singer/guitarist John Michael Talbot recorded called “Holy Darkness” by Daniel L. Schutte. I was raised on much of Talbot's music and heard this many times growing up. It's a beautiful, worshipful piece of music with meaningful, Biblical lyrics. I usually don't come across many song lyrics that capture Biblical suffering in the right light, but this one is filled with the Lord's holy purposes in the dark night of our souls.

Holy darkness, blessed night
Heaven’s answer hidden from our sight,
As we await You, O God of silence,
We embrace Your Holy night.
I have tried you in the fires of affliction;
I have taught your soul to grieve.
In the barren soil of your loneliness,
There I will plant my seed.

I have taught you the price of compassion;
you have stood before the grave.
Though my love can seem like a raging storm,
this is the love that saves.
Were you there when I raised up the mountains?
Can you guide the morning star?
Does the hawk take flight when you give command?
Why do you doubt my pow'r?
In the deepest hour of your darkness,
I will give you wealth untold,
When the silence stills your spirit,
Will my riches fill your soul.
As the watchman waits for morning,
and the bride awaits her groom,
so we wait to hear your footsteps
as we rest beneath your moon.

“I will give you treasures out of the darkness, and riches that have been hidden away, that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.” ~ Isaiah 45:3

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Warrior Poet

For anyone who is interested in the meaning behind the name of my blog, Warrior Poet, or for the signifiance of the verses posted on my blog header/banner, I thought I should provide a post about it.

I first heard the term, Warrior Poet, used by Irish worship leader, Robin Mark, in Shiprock, NM several years ago. In fact, shortly after that time, he came out with a book called Warrior Poets of the 21st Century. The meaning behind it is very simple. It deals with why and for whom/what we were created; namely, the purpose for which we were formed is to worship God and enjoy Him forever. Our actions and words from day to day speak loudly of who/what we're worshipping and who/what we enjoy. Upon hearing Robin's teaching on the Biblical meaning of worship, I was overcome with joy. Yes, I knew my life was meant for God's holy purposes. But I had yet to understand what such a life entailed. My fanciful heart was taken away by momentary passion, wishing that my emotional, spiritual 'high' could last forever. The years following that time came with painful, shameful, humbling circumstances, disappointments, and betrayals. You see, I had not known that the Lord's purpose that day was to equip me with the words from Him that I would need in the coming years as I entered into my adulthood. He was preparing me for a time in which I would experience deep, painful, inward soul-hunger. The winds were coming, but He was going to prove in my life the divine reality of His word, that the joy of the Lord is truly my strength.

Since I was a young girl, I have had indescribable (I call them 'epic') longings for something so far and so vast beyond myself and this world. They have always been a part of my life. I have never known a life without them. They've been my world of insatiable waves and sighs. I'll be honest, although I should have known what that something was (being raised on the Word and prayer), I was too childish and stubborn to turn to the right Way. My longings, though dulled at times, have never ceased to find fulfillment in something that will take the whole of me and drown me in sweet, eternal glory. There have been one too many instances where I thought I knew exactly where that fulfillment might be found. Everything my heart saw as the Ultimate Good was, within short time, bitterly dissastifying. So many times I have looked upon every good thing in my life and in this world and seen nothing but vexation and emptiness. So many days I have wished that I had the power to bring a close to my life and collapse in defeat and weakness. So often have I grown weary of life; not weary because of continual, exhausting tragedies and pains, but days that bring nothing to my aching soul. Just days of normal living....days that become stripped of meaning underneath the weight of life's little matters. For me, every day has become an irritating weight of nothingness without something to uphold me, to give me a depth of meaning and purpose to live for. I need Someone glorious who will fill me, take care of me, love me, hold me, teach me, mold me, and purify me so that my life will be a pleasing aroma and a joy unto that One greater than I. Over the years of my life, that Someone has revealed Himself to me.
My Lord, my Lover, my King.
He is the very reason that I do or can do anything now. He brings meaning and purpose to each hour of every day with His very prescence.

The significance of my blog and its title ties my life and my heart (its struggles, and longings) to the life of David, who was very much a warrior and a poet. His training as the Lord's holy vessel began at a young age.

David was the youngest of Jesse's eight sons. As such, on him eventually fell the ignoble task of caring for the family's flock of sheep in the Judean wilds. Life in the wilderness was one of the most undesirable things that could be required of a man. While the rest of the family enjoyed hot meals, warm beds and joyous times of fellowship, the shepher was forced to endure the frigid nights and scorching days of the Negev, tedious hours of boredom, and constant threat of danger from wild animals or marauding gangs of heathens.
The wilderness -- where the character of godly men is forged -- would be home for the ruddy son of Jesse for much of his younger years. While most of us ave a difficult time imagining daily life without modern conveniences and titillating entertainment, David spent weeks at a time in desert isolation. With no television, Internet, or video games to distract him, the earnest adolescent spent many hours sitting in the presence of God. It's evident from his early writings, such as Psalm 23, that he was already 'rich toward God.'
~ Steve Gallagher

David was intimately acquainted with the wilderness all throughout his life. When Saul sought David's life, the Lord led him, once again, to the wilds, where David had nothing to lean upon but the might of the Lord Himself.
Before Samuel annointed David and led him into instruction, before David was led to the courts of the king to soothe Saul with music, before David slayed Goliath, before David killed his thousands, and before David himself became King over all of Israel, he was alone with God in the wilderness. All he had was a herd of sheep and his harp. Perhaps he spent hours playing melodies unto the Lord in adoration as the sheep stood by, calmed and quieted. When David found himself in the wilderness of Engedi fleeing from Saul, I'm sure he was overwhelmed with many emotions and fears. Even as he hid in the caves of Adullam, his heart was burdened. And yet, the wilderness was no stranger to him. In fact, it brought him closer to God. In the caves he penned Psalm 142.

I cry to you, O LORD; I say, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living."
Warrior poets are souls who live in daily dependence on the Lord. Warrior poets live in selfless abandonment to their King and do all things for the glory of God. Warrior poets are servants who care for the Lord's people. They are almost always the most unlikely persons to be in the service of the Almighty. And yet, for that very reason, being of little significance in the world and weak in the eyes of many, they are taken underneath the wings of the Lord and made unto His image. This is why I think the Lord's holy purposes in the life of David is worthy of special notice. It is the life I pray for - to be a woman after my Lord's heart, to live a life of continual worship to my King, no matter the circumstances, poured out like perfume onto His feet. I want to always be filled with zeal for my Lord's glory in every little part of who I am and every little thing that I do or say.
Another interesting note about David is that the Lord used him to introduce praise with music into the tabernacle or temple. Before that, there had been no worship there through the gift of song.
Below, I have placed information that I have found about Engedi and Adullam. Those places, their occurences in Scripture, and their significance to the life of a disciple are so fascinating to me.


1 Samuel 23:29 And David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at Engedi.
Song of Songs 1:14 My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
Easton's Bible Dictionary
Fountain of the kid, place in the wilderness of Judah (Joshua 15:62), on the western shore of the Dead Sea (Ezek. 47:10), and nearly equidistant from both extremities. To the wilderness near this town David fled for fear of Saul (Joshua 15:62; 1 Samuel 23:29). It was at first called Hazezon-tamar (Genesis 14:7), a city of the Amorites.
The vineyards of Engedi were celebrated in Solomon's time (Cant. 1:4). It is the modern `Ain Jidy. The "fountain" from which it derives its name rises on the mountain side about 600 feet above the sea, and in its rapid descent spreads luxuriance all around it. Along its banks the osher grows abundantly. That shrub is thus described by Porter: "The stem is stout, measuring sometimes nearly a foot in diameter, and the plant grows to the height of 15 feet or more. It has a grayish bark and long oval leaves, which when broken off discharge a milky fluid. The fruit resembles an apple, and hangs in clusters of two or three. When ripe it is of a rich yellow colour, but on being pressed it explodes like a puff-ball. It is chiefly filled with air...This is the so-called `apple of Sodom.'" Through Samaria, etc.

Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia

en'-ge-di, en-ge'-di (`en gedhi, "fountain of the kid"):Identical with the present Ain Jidi. According to 2 Chronicles 20:2 it is the same as Hazazon-tamar, mentioned in Genesis 14:7 as occupied by the Amorites and as having been attacked by Chedorlaomer after leaving Kadesh and El Paran on his way to the Vale of Siddim. The place is situated upon the West shore of the Dead Sea about midway between the North and the South ends, and was included in the territory of Judah (Joshua 15:62). The spot is rendered attractive by the verdure clothing it by reason of immense fountains of warm water, 80 degrees F., which pour out from beneath the limestone cliffs.In the time of Solomon (Songs 1:14) palms and vines were cultivated here. Josephus also mentions its beautiful palm groves.In the time of Eusebius it was still a place of importance, but since the Middle Ages it has been almost deserted, being occupied now only by a few Arabs. The oasis occupies a small area a few hundred feet above the Dead Sea marked by the 650 ft. sedimentary terrace heretofore described (see DEAD SEA). The limestone borders rise so abruptly to a height of 2,000 ft. immediately on the West, that the place can be approached only by a rock-cut path. Two streams, Wady Sugeir and Wady el-Areyeh, descend on either side through precipitous rocky gorges from the uninhabitable wilderness separating it from Bethlehem and Hebron. It was in the caves opening out from the sides of these gorges that David took refuge from Saul (1 Samuel 24:1). During the reign of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:2), the children of Ammon, Moab and Mt. Seir attempted to invade Judah by way of En-gedi, but were easily defeated as they came up from the gorges to occupy the advantageous field of battle chosen by Jehoshaphat.


Samuel 22:1 David therefore departed there, and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him.

Easton's Bible Dictionary
One of the royal cities of the Canaanites, now `Aid-el-ma (Joshua 12:15; 15:35). It stood on the old Roman road in the valley of Elah (q.v.), which was the scene of David's memorable victory over Goliath (1 Samuel 17:2), and not far from Gath. It was one of the towns which Rehoboam fortified against Egypt (2 Chronicles 11:7). It was called "the glory of Israel" (Micah 1:15).
The Cave of Adullam has been discovered about 2 miles south of the scene of David's triumph, and about 13 miles west from Bethlehem. At this place is a hill some 500 feet high pierced with numerous caverns, in one of which David gathered together "every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented" (1 Samuel 22:2). Some of these caverns are large enough to hold 200 or 300 men. According to tradition this cave was at Wady Khureitun, between Bethlehem and the Dead Sea, but this view cannot be well maintained.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia

a-dul'-am (`adhullam):(1) A city, with dependencies, and in ancient times having a king, mentioned five times in the Old Testament, each time in a list with other cities (Joshua 12:15; Joshua 15:35 2 Chronicles 11:7 Micah 1:15 Nehemiah 11:30). In the list of 31 kings whom Joshua smote, Adullam follows Hormah, Arad, Libnah, and precedes Makkedah. Among the 14 Judahite cities of the first group in "the lowland" Adullam is mentioned between Jarmuth and Socoh. In the list of 15 cities fortified by Rehoboam it appears between Socoh and Gath. Micah gives what may be a list of cities concerned in some Assyrian approach to Jerusalem; it begins with Gath, includes Lachish, and ends with Mareshah and Adullam. And Adullam is still in the same company in the list in Nehemiah of the cities "and their villages" where the men of Judah then dwelt. In the time of the patriarchs it was a place to which men "went down" from the central mountain ridge (Genesis 38:1). Judas Maccabeus found it still existing as a city (2 Maccabees 12:38). Common opinion identifies Adullam with the ruin `Aid-el-Ma, 13 miles West-Southwest from Bethlehem (see HGHL, 229). This is in spite of the testimony of the Onomasticon, which, it is alleged, confuses Adullam with Eglon. Presumably the city gave its name to the cave of Adullam, the cave being near the city.(2) The cave of Adullam, David's headquarters during a part of the time when he was a fugitive from Saul (1 Samuel 22:1 2 Samuel 23:13 1 Chronicles 11:15). Sufficient care has not been exercised in reading the Bible statements on this subject. To begin with, Hebrew syntax permits of the use of the word "cave" collectively; it may denote a group or a region of caves; it is not shut up to the meaning that there was one immense cave in which David and his 400 men all found accommodations at once. All reasonings based on this notion are futile.Further, by the most natural syntax of 2 Samuel 23:13-17 (duplicated with unimportant variations in 1 Chronicles 11:15-19), that passage describes two different events, and does not connect the cave of Adullam with the second of these. "And three of the thirty chief men went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam; and the troop of the Philistines was encamped in the valley of Rephaim. And David was then in the stronghold; and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Beth-lehem. And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me water," etc. Concerning these three seniors among David's "mighty men" it is narrated, first, that they were David's comrades in a certain battle, a battle which the Chronicler identifies with Pas-dammim, where David slew Goliath; second, that they joined David at the cave of Adullam, presumably during the time when he was hiding from Saul; third, that at a later time, when the Philistines were in the valley of Rephaim (compare 2 Samuel 5:18), and David was "in the stronghold" (Josephus says "at Jerusalem," Ant, VII, xii, 4), these men broke through the Philistine lines and brought him water from the home well of Bethlehem.The cave of Adullam, like the city, was "down" from the central ridge (1 Samuel 22:1 2 Samuel 23:13). The city was in Judah; and David and his men were in Judah (1 Samuel 23:3) at a time when, apparently, the cave was their headquarters. Gad's advice to David to return to Judah (1 Samuel 22:3, 5) was given at a time when he had left the cave of Adullam. If the current identification of `Aid-el-Ma as Adullam is correct, the cave of Adullam is probably the cave region which has been found in that vicinity.It has been objected that this location is too far from Bethlehem for David's men to have brought the water from there. To this it is replied that thirteen or fourteen miles is not an excessive distance for three exceptionally vigorous men to go and return; and a yet stronger reply is found in the consideration just mentioned, that the place from which the men went for the water was not the cave of Adullam. The one argument for the tradition to the effect that Chariton's cave, a few miles Southeast of Bethlehem, is Adullam, is the larger size of this cave, as compared with those near `Aid-el-Ma We have already seen that this has no force. In our current speech "cave of Adullam" suggests an aggregation of ill-assorted and disreputable men. This is not justified by the Bible record. David's men included his numerous and respectable kinsmen, and the representative of the priesthood, and some of David's military companions, and some men who afterward held high office in Israel. Even those who are described as being in distress and debt and bitter of soul were doubtless, many of them, persons who had suffered at the hands of Saul on account of their friendship for David. Doubtless they included mere adventurers in their number; but the Scriptural details and the circumstances alike indicate that they were mainly homogeneous, and that most of them were worthy citizens.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Reading Too Much?

Here's a little something I received from the Desiring God blog last week. *smirk* Found it a good, convicting reminder after my previous post. haha! I admire John Newton.

Reading Too Much?

Posted: 18 Apr 2010 11:30 PM PDT

(Author: Tyler Kenney)

It is far from my intention to depreciate the value or deny the usefulness of books, without exception: a few well-chosen treatises, carefully perused and thoroughly digested, will deserve and reward our pains; but a multiplicity of reading is seldom attended with a good effect.

Besides the confusion it often brings upon the judgment and memory, it occasions a vast expense of time, indisposes for close thinking, and keeps us poor, in the midst of seeming plenty, by reducing us to live upon a foreign supply, instead of labouring to improve and increase the stock of our own reflections.

John Newton in his letter "A Plan of a Compendious Christian Library" (Works of John Newton, Volume 1, 236). Paragraphing added.

Are you reserving sufficient time in your life to reflect on Scripture?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library. ~ Jorge Luis Borges

For several years now, I have kept a 'to-read' book list in my purse. As it began to grow, that list found its way out of my purse onto a word document on my computer. Because buying books is not always an option (don't we all wish we had a $1000 to blow on books?), I often find myself going to my local library to look for all the books I desire to read. Unfortunately, as my love for Christian missionary biographies, church history, and specific Christian authors grew, I soon encountered the limitations of my local library. That's when I found out about interlibrary loans and ever since then, I've been applying for books through that route. It's quite handy!

Gosh, I love books. Who doesn't?
I used to be quite spontaneous in my selection of what books I read in my teenage years. However, as my taste for reading material has matured and grown, I find that I must be very specific and precise about what I read. This focus on specific reading material has become important to me as the Lord has grown me as His disciple. It's not that I will not read fiction, poetry, or classic literature, for I do read those from time to time and I greatly enjoy them. I also believe a good dose of those are healthy for one's education and creative taste. However, I believe my Lord wants me to focus reading books that are historical, Biblically edifying, and point to Jesus Christ. The best kind of book that usually does that is an in-depth, solid missionary biography. Nothing beats opening the pages of a life of one who has walked the narrow road with Christ. It's humbling and it draws me to reflect upon the words of Christ that one must 'deny self,' 'carry their cross,' and follow Him. I believe the reality of the Gospel in one's life and the depth of their love for the Gospel shapes them inside and out. Thus, it will shape how and what a disciple reads. If you click the Amy Carmichael tag at the bottom right of my profile page, you will find a post I made last year on a quote from her about reading and the Christian. She said that 'we are what we read' and I find that to be true again and again. It's about where we are continually placing our minds and hearts and if that place is bringing us into a deeper love for our Lord. Another reason I read specific Christian books on Biblical topics is not only for my personal growth with the Lord, but also for my family, my future husband and family (Lord willing), and my brothers and sisters in the Church. By reading such books on topics related to these various relationships, I can best learn to serve them in practical ways from wise Christian women/men who have gone before me on this same road. Also, I love to purchase books as gifts for those I love and I only buy them books that I know the content of. I think it's important to read the books that you buy for others. And lastly, I just love recommending reading material to others. :-)
The books I'm currently reading and hoping to finish before I leave to Ellerslie: School of Honor
(leaving May 29th with my family to drive all the way up to Windsor, CO! Woohoo!) are: A Sweet & Bitter Providence by John Piper (a study on the book of Ruth), The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (see my previous post on this), and Tramp for the Lord (Corrie Ten Boom's accounts of her life after she lived through the Holocaust).

Anyway, I have pasted my 'to read' list below to share the kinds of books I hope to cover in the next several years (in no particular order). The main topics are Biblical relationships/marriage/courtship/manhood/womanhood/love/Christian missionary biographies/History/Gospel/Evangelism/Spiritual Disciplines/Christian meditations/reflections. It's nice to have this list on my blog so that I can constantly refer back to it when I need to. If any of my readers would like to recommend more titles for me to place on my list, please feel free to share. :-) In the next month, I shall do a blog post with a list of all the books (of the same topics above) that I have read, love, and been inspired/shaped by.

The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God - D.A. Carson
Love in Hard Places - D.A. Carson
Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World – C.J. Mahaney, John Piper

The Scots Worthies - John Howie

The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit – Matthew Henry
A Church in the House - Matthew Henry
The Art of Divine Contentment - Thomas Watson
Family Driven Faith: Doing What it Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk With God - Dr. Voddie Baucham
Family Man, Family Leader - Philip Lancaster
Be Fruitful and Multiply: What the Bible Says About Having Children
- Nancy Campbell
Reforming Marriage - Douglas Wilson
Her Hand in Marriage: Biblical Courtship in the Modern World - Douglas Wilson
Praise Her in the Gates: The Calling of Christian Motherhood – Nancy Wilson
My Life For Yours: A Walk Through the Christian Home - Douglas Wilson
How to Be a Lady - Harvey Newcomb
What He Must Be...If He Wants to Marry My Daughter - Dr. Voddie Baucham
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy With God in the Busyness of Life – Joanna Weaver
Passionate Housewives Desperate for God – Jennie Chancey, Stacy McDonald
Legacy of Faith: From Women of the Bible to Women of Today – Lydia Brownback
The Christian Lover: The Sweetness of Love and Marriage in the Letters of Believers - Michael A. G. Haykin
When Two Become One - Christopher and Rachel McCluskey
The Excellent Wife – Martha Peace
Biblical Womanhood in the Home – Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism – F. Carolyn Graglia
Killer Angel: A Short Biography of Planned Parenthood's Founder, Margaret Sanger - Dr. George Grant
Darwin's Plantation: Evolution's Racist Roots - Ken Ham and A. Charles Ware
The Saving Life of Christ – Major W. Ian Thomas
A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life - J.I. Packer
Selections by Amy Carmichael: Toward Jerusalem, I Come Quietly to Meet You: An Intimate Journey in God’s Presence, Mountain Breezes: The Collected Poems of Amy Carmichael, Thou Givest They Gather, Fragments That Remain, Toward Jerusalem, Learning of God, Kohila, His Thoughts Said…His Father Said: Real World Answers to the Hard Questions of Life, Whispers of His Power
Love Has a Price Tag - Elisabeth Elliot
The Music of His Promises - Elisabeth Elliot
The Path of Loneliness - Elisabeth Elliot
Keep a Quiet Heart - Elisabeth Elliot
In Pursuit of God – James L. Snyder
God’s Pursuit of Man – A.W. Tozer
The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship – A.W. Tozer
The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life – A.W. Tozer
Reclaiming Christianity: A Call to Authentic Faith – A.W. Tozer
And He Dwelt Among Us: Teachings from the Gospel of John – A.W. Tozer
The Gospel and Personal Evangelism Becoming a Contagious Christian – Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg
Fanny J. Crosby: An Autobiography
Once Blind: The Life of John Newton - Kay Marshall Strom
Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life - C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce - C.S. Lewis
John Calvin: Man of the Millennium - Philip Volmer
Her Heart Can See: The Life and Hymns of Fanny J. Crosby - Edith L. Blumhofer
Eric Liddel: Pure Gold - David McCasland
I Want to Live These Days With You - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Chasing the Dragon: One Woman's Struggle Against the Darkness of Hong Kong's Drug Dens – Jackie Pullinger
Crack In The Wall: Life & Death in Kowloon Walled City – Jackie Pullinger
Hannah Moore: A Biography of Nineteenth Century Missionary and Teacher - Isabel B. Weigold
The Story of the Trapp Family Singers - Maria Augusta Trapp
Henry Martyn: Pioneer Missionary to India and Islam The Truth War – John MacArthur
George Washington's Sacred Fire - Dr. Peter A. Lillback
Reformation and Revival: The Story of the English Puritans - John Brown
Relationships: A Mess Worth Making – Paul Tripp
The Crisis of Caring: Recovering the Meaning of True Fellowship – Jerry Bridges
Rees Howells: Intercessor – Norman P. Grubb
Touching the Invisible – Norman Grubb
Irresistible to God – Steve Gallagher
Dug Down Deep – Joshua Harris
C.T. Studd:Cricketer and Pioneer – Norman Grubb
The Life and Diary of David Brainerd
The Autobiography of George Mueller
Release the Power of Prayer – George Mueller
Answers to Prayer – George Mueller
George Muller: Delighted in God – Steer Roger
Missionary to the New Hebrides – James Paton
The Little Woman – G. Aylward
Classic Christianity: Life’s Too Short to Miss the Real Thing – Bob George
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life – Donald S. Whitney
The Gospel for Real Life – Jerry Bridges

The Cross of Christ – John Stott
Christian Disciplines - Oswald Chambers

"A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life."Henry Ward Beecher

Monday, April 12, 2010

Costly Discipleship

"Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace," declared German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a man who publicly spoke against Hitler, the Nazi regime, the German church's anti-semitism, and Western Christianity. He preached the hard truths of Scripture and he also walked in the narrow way. In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, he proclaimed the 'ancient way' of a true disciple of Christ. The majority of his work centers around the Sermon on the Mount, recalling the basic truths that Christ laid down for his followers. He begins his book by making a distinction against the 'cheap grace' mentality that had infected the church (and, unfortunately, is presently still at work) and the 'costly grace' of Jesus Christ.

"Cheap grace he wrote, “is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. . . .” In short, no desire to change. In contrast, costly grace is a call to follow Jesus. “It is costly,” writes Bonhoeffer, “because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

Bonhoeffer was concerned that with the Christianization of the Western world had come a cheapening of grace, denying the very essence of Christianity. To take the name “Christian” and yet cling to what he called “bourgeois secular existence” disturbed him. And we saw the results clearly in the tragedy of Christians being silent in the face of the Holocaust. My concern today is that we learn this lesson and not become comfortable with cheap grace here in our own land.

We need to re-read this classic because somehow we’ve forgotten how radical it is to follow the call of Jesus. We’ve forgotten that the disciples left behind the security of their nets and boats, for the gracious uncertainty of a life of faith.

And we’ve forgotten that following Christ will lead us down a road likewise marked with suffering. As Bonhoeffer reminded us, “Jesus says that every Christian has his own cross waiting for him, a cross destined and appointed by God.”
~ Chuck Colson

In his book, Bonhoeffer constantly exhorts Christian to self-renunciation and obedience to God's Word - but not in the manner of monastic living, nor by our own standards.

"Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. It remains an abstract idea, a myth which has a place for the Fatherhood of God, but omits Christ as the living Son. … There is trust in God, but no following of Christ." 64

"He wants to follow, but feels obliged to insist on his own terms to the level of human understanding. The disciple places himself at the Master’s disposal, but at the same time retains the right to dictate his own terms. But then discipleship is no longer discipleship, but a program of our own to be arranged to suit ourselves, and to be judged in accordance with the standards of rational ethic." 66

"If we would follow Jesus we must take certain definite steps. The first step, which follows the call, cuts the disciple off from his previous existence. … The first step places the disciple in the situation where faith is possible. If he refuses to follow and stays behind, he does not learn how to believe." 66-67

"To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only Him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us. … All that self-denial can say is: "He leads the way, keep close to Him."
"…and take up his cross." … Only when we have become completely oblivious of self are we ready to bear the cross for His sake. If in the end we know only Him, if we have ceased to notice the pain of our own cross, we are indeed looking only unto Him. If Jesus had not so graciously prepared us for this word, we should have found it unbearable. " 97

"God speaking to Luther: "Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend—it must transcend all comprehension. … Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. My comprehension transcends yours. Thus Abraham went forth from His father… not knowing whither he went. … Behold, that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind man. Wherefore it is not you, no man… but I myself, who instruct you by my Word and Spirit in the way you should go. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is clean contrary to all you choose or contrive or desire—that is the road you must take. To that I call you and in that you must be my disciple." 103-4

"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:26)

"Through the call of God, men become individuals… Every man is called separately, and must follow alone. But men are frightened of solitude, and try to protect themselves from it by merging themselves in the society of their fellow-men and in their material environment. They become suddenly aware of their responsibilities and duties, and are loath to part with them. But all this is only a cloak to protect them from having to make a decision. They are unwilling to stand alone before Jesus and to be compelled to decide with their eyes fixed on Him alone…. It is Christ’s will that he should be thus isolated, and that he should fix his eyes solely upon him." 105

"The life of discipleship can only be maintained as long as nothing is allowed to come between Christ and ourselves -- neither the law, nor personal piety, nor even the world. The discipline always look only to his master, never to Christ and the law, Christ and religion, Christ and the world. ... Only by following Christ alone can he preserve a single eye. ... Thus the heart of the disciple must be set upon Christ alone." 173-174

I am three quarters of the way into this book. At every page, I find myself challenged and humbled as Bonhoeffer points me to the way our Lord walked - the road to Calvary. If you are looking for an edifying book that points you to the way of your Master, I recommend this one.

"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. - Matt 10:24

For more information, I recommend these reviews on Bonhoeffer's book by two well-known Christian writers/speakers.

- Randy Alcorn

Friday, April 2, 2010

Flowers appear over the earth...

I took some photographs of my flowers with my sister's camera last week. They are the only bits of beauty I have living in the city. One day, I hope that I will live in a place where I can plant a large and flourishing garden. I hope my readers enjoy my colorful darlings with Bible verses and Alice in Wonderland quotations! ;-)

The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. - Songs of Solomon 2:12

"You can learn a lot of things from the flowers - For especially in the month of June - There's a wealth of happiness and romance - All in the golden afternoon..."

Okay, so it's not June, but I'm afraid my flowers won't make it past May with our Arizonan summer heat. *tear*

A voice says, "Cry!"And I said, "What shall I cry?"All flesh is grass,and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.The grass withers, the flower fadeswhen the breath of the LORD blows on it;surely the people are grass.The grass withers, the flower fades,but the word of our God will stand forever.
- Isaiah 40:6-8

Alice: Oh, but that's nonsense. Flowers can't talk.
The Rose: But of course we can talk, my dear.
Orchid: If there's anyone around worth talking to.
Daisy: Or about.

"We don't want any weeds in our beds!" - The bed of pansies from Alice in Wonderland ;-)