Archive for November, 2010

The Pasture

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Many anthologies of Robert Frost’s poetry begin with the brief, two-stanza poem, The Pasture.

I’m going out to clean the pasture spring
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
And wait to watch the water clear I may
I shan’t be gone long. You come too.

I’m going out to fetch the little calf
That’s standing by the mother.
It’s so young it totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I shan’t be gone long. You come too.

In these few lines, the poet invites the reader to join him in his world of farm chores and words, to enjoy the simple pleasures of work and the beauty of nature coupled with it. But how can these two ever unite?

There’s just a plain cussedness about work, and I guess that’s as it should be. God cursed this world for Adam’s fall and made our labor hard, and we curse back as we groan under the toil. Around our house, I often spout my Solomonic wisdom—A job’s not done right until it’s done twice! No foul words leave my mouth, but the frustration I feel is a cussedness nonetheless.

And yet. The God, who in wrath curses, sends common-grace rain to shower us all (Matt 5:45). And because of God’s common grace, work can possess a degree of satisfaction and beauty.

Frost’s work consists of common tasks—cleaning the spring in the pasture and fetching a calf. But mingled with these everyday chores is a beauty the author can see in the ordinary. He’ll stop to look at the water as the spring regains it reflective clarity. He beholds the wonder of new life as he watches the calf so young and weak that it totters beside its mother.

Frost lived in this common-grace world and possessed an uncommon knack for capturing its beauty in simple verse. But what about those of us who live in the light of God’s saving grace? Shouldn’t work and beauty come together for us in an uncommon way? The Holy Spirit has given us the sight to see beyond the curse to redemption. We’re awaiting the day when our tasks will not be labor but pure joy (cf. Rom 8:22). And if we can see beauty in our work and in the world around us now, what will it be like when all is refined (2 Pet 3:10-13)?

Prayer Charges Things

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

No, the title isn’t a typographical error. We’re used to hearing the phrase “Prayer changes things,” but why is that so? Isn’t it because prayer charges the situation with the power of God? God is not capricious, changed by our whims and fancies. But he has chosen to use the prayers of his people as one of the means of accomplishing his work in history.

No one makes this point better than Jonathan Edwards. Recently I’ve been reading his work entitled An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People, in Extraordinary Prayer, for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth.

In encouraging his readers to pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in revival, Edwards writes, “God has respect to the prayers of his saints in all his government of the world; as we may observe by the representation made Rev. 8 at the beginning. There we read of seven angels standing before the throne of God, and receiving of him seven trumpets, at the sounding of which, great and mighty changes were to be brought to pass in the world, through many successive ages. But when these angels had received their trumpets, they must stand still, and all must be in silence, not one of them must be allowed to sound, till the prayers of the saints are attended to. The angel of the covenant, as a glorious high priest, comes and stands at the altar, with much incense, to offer with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, before the throne; and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascends up with acceptance before God, out of the angel’s hand: and then the angels prepare themselves to sound. And God, in the events of every trumpet, remembers those prayers: as appears at last, by the great and glorious things he accomplishes for his church, in the issue of all, in answer to these prayers, in the event of the last trumpet, which brings the glory of the latter days, when these prayers shall be turned into joyful praises. Rev. 11:15-17, ‘And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four-and-twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art and wast and art to come, because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.’ Since it is the pleasure of God so to honour his people, as to carry on all the designs of his kingdom in this way, viz. [namely] By the prayers of his saints; this gives us great reason to think, that whenever the time comes that God gives an extraordinary spirit of prayer for the promised advancement of his kingdom on earth which is God’s great aim in all preceding providences, and the main thing that the spirit of prayer in the saints aims at then the fulfilment of this event is nigh.”

As I pray for the Lord to revive the church I pastor, will you join me in praying that the Lord will revive the church in America and around the world? Are we really convinced that Jesus got it right when he said, “apart from me you can do nothing”? (John 15:5) If Jesus is right, then we must pray because prayer charges things with the power of the Almighty!

The Curse of Busyness

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Will you, at some point today, complain about how busy you are? Most of us will.

I’m concerned about busyness. The hectic pace we try to maintain in American life is dangerous. Busyness is a curse. It’s dangerous for our health. Most of us are too busy to exercise. But most of all it is dangerous for our souls. I’m burdened by the fact that many Christians are too busy to pray. Some are even too busy to attend church!

Time is a gift from God. We should not squander it. But neither should we fill it with so much activity that it damages our walk with the Lord. As a part of my morning private worship today, I read an article by Charles Anderson on The Business of Busyness. Here you’ll find solid, biblical counsel on how to deal with the hectic pace of your life. I hope you have time to read it!

Anderson makes a couple of references to Psalm 127. I recently preached a message on that psalm entitled Empty and Full. I hope you find it helpful as well.