Thoughts on Pilgrim’s Progress, Part the Second – #12

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Pilgrim’s Progress was written by John Bunyan in the 1600s while he was in prison for his faith. 

Mr. Honest and Mr. Contrite are talking about how things were going in their lives.

Mr. Contrite asks, “Pray, how fares it with you in your pilgrimage?”

Mr. Honest has this wonderful response, “…sometimes our way is clean, sometimes foul; sometimes uphill, sometimes downhill; we are seldom at a certainty: The wind is not always on our backs, nor is everyone a friend that we met in the way.

This is true in the life of every Christian. Some today may preach a health-and-wealth message, but that is not the gospel. When we study the life of Christ, we see He didn’t even own a home, though Psalm 50:10 says: “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” 

As Christians, we should desire to say as Paul did in Philippians 4:11: “ for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

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Thoughts on Pilgrim’s Progress, Part the Second – #11 – The sun, moon, and stars, oh my!

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photo credit annkkml

Pilgrim’s Progress was written by John Bunyan in the 1600s while he was in prison for his faith. 

Have you ever been having a really bad day, when something unexpected happened that lifted your spirits? It can be a little thing, like a hug from a child. Or a big thing, like a check in the mail just when you needed it.

I like the way Mr. Feeble-mind puts it, when talking to the Innkeeper about his hospitality,

“This is an unexpected favor, and as the sun shining out of a very dark cloud.”

I love when God shows mercy on me and sends me an unexpected blessing. One way He blesses me is with Christian fellowship. In the story, Honest is discussing this very thing when he says,

“For the sight of good men to them that are going on Pilgrimage, is like to the appearing of the moon and stars to them that are sailing upon the seas.”

I thank God today for the sun and moon and stars in my life!

Thoughts on Pilgrim’s Progress, Part the Second – #10

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photo credit -annkkml

Pilgrim’s Progress was written by John Bunyan in the 1600s while he was in prison for his faith. 

The travelers have now stopped at an Inn. They sat up talking until the break of day about many things in the life of a Christian.  Honest had joined them and was talking about two men who had been traveling on Pilgrimage, beginning when one was young and one was old.

He made an observation that I find I must apply to myself.

“Besides, I have observed, that old men have blessed themselves with this mistake; namely, taking the decays of nature for a gracious conquest over corruptions, and so have been apt to beguile themselves.”

Basically he’s saying that just because you are old and can’t physically participate in many of the sins of youth, does not mean you are any less of a sinner. It may seem that older people are just sweet old things, but it is the condition of the heart that matters; it’s the inward sin of the heart.

We might easily see the outward sins, such as drunkenness or promiscuousness, but not see the inward sins of hate or pride.

So, just because a person CAN’T participate in a particular sin doesn’t mean they don’t WANT to.

…for the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.                           – I Samuel 16:7 Continue reading

Thoughts on Pilgrim’s Progress, Part the Second – #9 “No fears, no grace”

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Can a Christian be depressed? Or afraid?

Yes, of course. One example in Pilgrim’s Progress is in the character of Mr. Fearing.  Mr. Great-Heart explains it this way when asked why:

“There are reasons for it; one is the wise God will have it so, some must pipe and some must weep. Now, Mr. Fearing was one that played upon this bass.” (The bass is the lowest pitch or range)

He goes on, “The first string that the musician usually touches is the bass, when he intends to put it all in tune. God also plays upon this string first, when He sets the soul in tune for Himself. Only here was the imperfection of Mr. Fearing. He could play upon no other music but this, until towards his latter end.” Mr. Fearing could not overcome this until he was at the end of his life. Obviously, it hindered him.

The discussion goes on for a few pages. Then James, one of the young sons of Christiana, pipes up and says, “No fears, no Grace.” He was ahead of his time with that slogan!

Mr. Great-Heart responds, “Well said, James, thou hast hit the mark; for the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.”

John Gill’s commentary explains the “fear of God” like this:

…by the “fear of God”, is not meant a fear of God’s wrath, of hell and damnation; nor a fearful distrust of his presence, power, providence, and grace; much less an hypocritical fear; but a reverential affection for God, and which is peculiar to the children of God, which springs from a sense of divine goodness, is attended with holiness of heart and life, is consistent with faith, even full assurance of it, and with spiritual joy in its highest degree…

Am I afraid? Sometimes. Depressed? Sometimes. Have I experienced God’s grace? Joyfully, yes.

I want to make bumper stickers now that read “no fears, no grace”. Maybe there is a Kickstarter campaign in my future?

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Thoughts on Pilgrim’s Progress, Part the Second – #8

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p. 289

Christiana, her sons, and Mercy, are being conducted by Mr. Great-heart through the Valley of the shadow of Death.

Christiana’s son, Samuel, makes a wonderful observation. He says, “It is not so bad to go through here, as it is to abide here always; and for ought I know, one reason why we must go this way to the House prepared for us is that our home might be made the sweeter to us.”

He continues, “Why, if ever I get out here again, I think I shall prize light and good way, better than ever I did in all my life.”

If our life were to be always carefree, think of all the blessings we would miss. I think there would be little satisfaction in things that come too easily.

Do you remember the first time you made a big purchase with money you had saved? I do. In high school I began working the summer before my senior year. I was able to buy myself a ten-speed bike. Later, I saved up for a bit and purchased my first stereo. Yes, with an awesome 8-track player included. I took great care with them both. They were acquired with my hard-earned money. Now, I would have enjoyed them if they had been gifts, but they were much sweeter to me because of the toil put into buying them.

The hard times in my life have drawn me closer to the Lord. It may not have always been clear to me at first; I wasn’t always happy in the valleys. But, when I came out on the other side, I was able to rejoice.

About 13 years ago, three of the kids were on vacation with my husband and me. We had been hiking through a heavily forested area on a foggy morning. Unexpectedly, our trail opened out into a meadow where we were greeted by a lone cow. It was a gorgeous view, made all the sweeter by having emerged from the darkened woods. I think of that day often as I have a picture on my office wall to remind me of it.

I pray that the Lord would see fit to lead me into whatever valleys I need in order to fully enjoy the meadows He has for me.

Thoughts on The Pilgrim’s Progress #5

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Bunyan wrote a Part two, or “Part the Second” which follows the journey of Christian’s wife, Christiana, and their four sons, on their pilgrimage. I found this in the introduction:

Render them not reviling for revile;

But if they frown, I prithee on them smile:

Perhaps ‘tis Nature, or some ill report,

Has made them thus despise, or thus retort.

I got to thinking about this and I pray I can remember these thoughts whenever run into someone who is having a bad day. Or when someone gives me a hard time for no reason.

I can’t know what is going on in the other person’s life. I have not “walked a mile in their moccasins”. So my prayer is that I would be gentle. That I would understand that often the rage isn’t really at me. I pray the Lord would give me a word of peace, a kind spirit, a calmness.

A few days after I read this, I came across this story on facebook. It fits right in with this idea. You can read it and see if you don’t agree.

http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/she-yelled-and-called-me-names/

Thoughts on The Pilgrim’s Progress #4

Imagephoto credit – anankkml

Pilgrim’s Progress was written by John Bunyan in the 1600s while he was in prison for his faith.

After the end of part one, there is a poem called “The Conclusion”. These four lines are part of the last stanza:

What of my dross thou findest here, be bold

To throw away, but yet preserve the Gold.

What if my Gold be wrapped up in ore?

None throws away the Apple for the Core.

I think what Bunyan is saying here is that if the reader finds something in his writings that are not correct, to not use that as a reason to throw out all he has written. He is admitting that he could be in error somewhere, but pleads for readers not to throw out the truth of scripture found in his writings. It’s like “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.”

I ask the same. I am so very far from knowing all the truths in scripture. But, please don’t throw out my writings. If you find me in error, tell me. Send me scriptures to read. Share with me your insight. And, please, don’t throw out the baby and keep the bath water!