Maclaren on Micah 6:8

 

 

At the end of last year I discovered Alexander Maclaren, a Scottish minister who pastored in England.  He lived from 1826-1910 but what he had to say is still so relevant today. His practical yet insightful way of putting things reminds me of a pastor friend of mine in St. Augustine, Eric Watkins. I think if they had been contemporaries they would have been great friends.

 

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

“Micah…wages war against that misconception of sacrifice, but does not thereby protest against its use. One has heard people say,  ‘We are plain men; we do not understand your theological subtleties; we do not quite see what you mean by “Repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. To do justly and to love mercy , and to walk humbly with my God, that is my religion, and I leave all the rest to you.’ “

I am afraid that I am guilty, if not of voicing this, of thinking along these lines. I often want to hide behind the simple when the complex is too hard for me.

‘To do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God’ is possible only through repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘To do justly’, that is elementary morality in two words. There must be mercy as well as the justice.”

The minimum according to Maclaren:

  • “…give everybody what he has a right to, including mercy to which he has a right,
  • to have a lowly estimate of myself
  • to live continually grasping the hand of God
  • to be conscious of His overshadowing wing at all times
  • conformity to His will at every step of the road…”

“To think of God’s requirements, and of my own failure, is the sure way to paralyze all activity…” . This is often the take-away after Sunday morning sermons where I’m told what I should be doing and left feeling there is no way I am living up to the standards given.

“The gift of God is Jesus Christ and that gift meets all our failures.” 

“His last word to us is not ‘Thou shalt do’ but ‘I will give’  We have not to begin with effort; we have to begin with faith.”

All words in quotations are Maclaren’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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January Wisdom

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“The most valuable thing in life never changes by time or place – it is to be honest and cheerful, to find happiness in what you have and to have courage in hardships.”   – Laura Ingalls Wilder, when she  was solicited for advice to Japanese women.

I think this is good advice, but not necessarily the most valuable thing in life.  I find it easy to be honest, not so easy to always be cheerful. I can’t brag on my honesty, though, as it isn’t perfect.  And cheerfulness? Well, God loves a cheerful giver and I’m making progress in that area. I can find happiness in what I have, but there is a sadness in what is missing. What is missing for me isn’t things, though. I usually have courage in hardships, but not always patience. Whatever honesty, cheerfulness, happiness or courage I do have is because God has granted it to me.

“Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, Everyone deals falsely. – Jeremiah 6:15

Even better than Wilder’s advice is this:

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wait Silently

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To look for community instead of cocktail-party relationships is part of choosing sides in the vast, strange battle. To say, “I’m sorry”; to be silent; to say “I love you,” “I care.” It is these little things that are going to make the difference. For God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, the weak to overthrow the strong.

– The Irrational Season (1977) by Madeleine L’Engle

 

I’ve written about this before, I’m sure; I am writing to myself again. I long for community, real and true. I think I’m settling for cocktail-party relationships via social media. I see the words “I love you”, “I care” “praying” all over facebook, but what does it really mean? Is it so others can see you are so concerned? To do so in person is another kettle of fish all together.

 

It is not easy to say I’m sorry, especially I’m sorry without a but after it. However, it’s often too easy to say I love you  – love ya – as an alternate to see ya later. Said too easily and it looses its meaning. Saying I care may be harder; harder still to show you care in a tangible may.

 

But the hardest may be to be silent. Silent when you want to scream or cry or yell or explain or accuse or complain.

 

My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. – Psalm 62:5

 

Help me, LORD, to be silent. To show love and care.  To pray.

Scripture floating around

“I felt that so much Scripture floating around might tend to harden some hearts, that Scripture should be treated with reverence and not pasted to any flat surface you could find- at least, that was what I said when Brethren asked why I didn’t carry a ‘The Peace of God Passeth All Understanding’ bookbag to school. “

                                                   – Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor

 

I see scripture  misplaced/misused all over, but most noticeably on T-shirts, like this one…

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or this one…

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Then there are the comments and catch phrases.

As Matt Redmond pointed out on twitter,  the phrase “a God Thing” is just so wrong.

A few more:

  • Do your Best, and God will do the Rest!
  • How will you spend eternity, Smoking or non smoking?   (this one is just so sad)
  •  WARNING! Exposure to the Son may prevent burning. (ditto)

 

A better idea would be to follow Psalm 119:11 –

 

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

 

 

 

 

Circumference of Love

 

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We love wherever we can love, and the power of that love spreads until the circumference of the circle of love grows wider and wider…even though I know to my rue that the circumference of my love is still much too small. – The Irrational Season (1977) by Madeleine L’Engle

I feel like I keep giving myself this same message; to love wherever I can love. And I also keep seeing that the circumference of my love is also still too small.

God’s word has told me: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” – John 14:15

And what are these commandments? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” – Luke 10:27

So, I think this circle of love begins with God’s love for me and my love for Him. The circumference can’t grow unless this is firmly established. After that, the boundaries can grow and stretch beyond measure.

Thoughts on Grace – Humility

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Extravagant Grace is a book written by Barbara Duguid. She uses John Newton’s teaching on sanctification to explain God’s sovereignty over sin. Duguid is the wife of a Presbyterian pastor in Pennsylvania and the mother of six. The quotes in this series come from her book.
“The baby Christian and the maturing believer know that they ought to be humble… the grown-up in Christ, however, IS truly humble. He habitually looks back on the way God has faithfully led him and can see the innumerable times that God has given him good in return for his evil.”
I think I fall somewhere in between the maturing and grown-up Christian. I am still learning a lot of lessons in being humble. Hard lessons sometimes. I found I thought too much of myself, my credentials, my experience. It is all for nothing without Christ.

The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility. Proverbs 15:33

Thoughts on Grace – Look to Jesus

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Extravagant Grace is a book written by Barbara Duguid. She uses John Newton’s teaching on sanctification to explain God’s sovereignty over sin. Duguid is the wife of a Presbyterian pastor in Pennsylvania and the mother of six. The quotes in this series come from her book.
“When we are standing tall and strong we do not tend to look at Christ – we don’t need Him. But when we fall flat on our faces, overcome with sin and weakness, there is nowhere else for us to look but to the One who has died our death and lived the life we should have lived.”
How many times have you found this to be true? Yes, I praise and thank Him when the big, obvious answers to prayer are seen. I am joyful when an unexpected blessing comes and I give Him the glory.
But what about every day, when it’s the same thing you did the day before? I think I sometimes forget to go to God when everything is going smoothly. I forget to be grateful when everything is going as it should.
Seems some of us go from blessing God to begging Him. What would your friends think if that was the way you treated your friendship? Don’t you think your friend wants to just hang out with you sometimes?

My prayer is that I go to God every day, not just when I’ve messed up big time. Because, really, I mess up every day.

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10