Posted in assurance, encouragement, pilgrim's progress, salvation

How to guard from carnal thoughts and actions. What will do it?

I am reading and studying the John Bunyan book Pilgrim’s Progress. John Bunyan wrote this book in 1678. I am using a study guide from Mount Zion Bible Institute (free) and also notes and commentary from Ken Puls of Founder’s Ministries/Founder’s Press.

I absolutely love the language of the old Puritan times. At one point, Christian had fallen asleep and now had to retrace his steps because he had lost his scroll. The sun was setting and he worried would not make it to the safe and secure way-station Porter’s Lodge before dark. He had been told there were lions awaiting (though chained). He was nervous about the noise the doleful creatures would make.

I wrote this during my reflection time-

When I stray from the righteous path or lose my scroll, the night time noise of the doleful creatures disturbs my heart and troubles my mind.

Christian made it to the Porter’s Lodge, where he engages in conversation with Prudence. She asks Christian,

Saco Museum Panorama of Pilgrim’s Progress

Prudence: Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances at times as if they were vanquished?
Christian: Yes:
–when I think what I saw at the cross, that will do it;
–and when I look upon my broidered coat, that will do it;
–and when I look into the roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it;
–and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it.

What a wonderful summation of how to remain on the righteous path, and so to banish carnal thoughts and wayward behavior!

Ken Puls wrote: [excerpted]

The conversation at Palace Beautiful continues with Prudence asking Christian some questions. Prudence represents our carefulness to walk in the wisdom and truth of God’s Word. To be prudent is to live and act with discretion and to exercise good judgment. Prudence is the practical outworking of wisdom. Christian prudence is godly wisdom in action, as we apply God’s Word to what we think, say and do.
Piety began the discussion by drawing out Christian’s story and testimony for the benefit of all in the Palace; Prudence probes deeper. She presses Christian into a more weighty conversation that explores his inner motivation and struggles. Her questions focus on: 

1. His inward battles with former lusts
2. His fortitude to fend off carnal thoughts and worldly temptations
3. His strategy to guard his heart and mind against sin

I’ll focus on the third question and excerpt Puls’ notes here-

Prudence then asks Christian about his strategy to guard against carnal thoughts. What means are most effective in vanquishing besetting sin? 

Christian mentions the value of meditating on God’s Word. He ponders the truth of Scripture and preaches it to himself. He anchors his thoughts in the promises of the gospel: the cross of Christ (the place of deliverance), the imputed righteousness of Christ (the coat he now wears), the assurance of salvation (his roll that he carries close to his heart), and his destination (eternal life in heaven). 

Finally Prudence asks him why he is so eager to reach heaven. Christian is anchored in God’s Word and aiming for eternity. He has embarked on a journey and understands that this world is not his home. It is filled with sin, death, trials and afflictions, and it can wearisome as we press on day by day. We must remember that we are just passing through. Christian longs for the joys that await us in glory: 

There we will see Christ face to face (1 John 3:1-3; Revelation 22:4).
There we will be free, not just from sin’s condemnation and power, but from its presence (Revelation 21:27, 22:3).
There we will have life eternal; there will be no more death (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4).
There we will be in the company of angels (Revelation 4:8) and the redeemed (Philippians 3:20) forever.

When you are discouraged…plagued by carnal thoughts…have sinned…drifted a bit…with ease and alacrity one can return to Jesus! Think of the cross, reflect on your salvation, look into the Book, and ponder your eternal destination.

That will do it.

Posted in encouragement, jesus, john bunyan, lion, pilgrim's progress, prophecy

Lunging Lions along the Way

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan is a tremendous book. It’s an allegory of the Christian’s life from salvation to heaven (“The Celestial City”). In the book, there is a scene where Christian Pilgrim is attempting to climb the way to Porter’s Lodge Up ahead he can see two lions crouching at the edge of the path. What Pilgrim doesn’t know is that the lions are chained, and if Pilgrim stays in the middle of the path, he will not be harmed by the lunging lions. Here is the excerpt:

Now before he had gone far, he entered into a very narrow passage, which was about a furlong off the Porter’s lodge, and looking very narrowly before him as he went, he espied two lions in the way. Now, thought he, I see the dangers that Mistrust and Timorous were driven back by. (The lions were chained, but he saw not the chains.) Then he was afraid, and thought also himself to go back after them; for he thought nothing but death was before him. But the Porter at the lodge, whose name is Watchful, perceiving that Christian made a halt, as if he would go back, cried unto him, saying, Is thy strength so small? Mark 4:40. Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that have none: keep in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee.

We ourselves are pilgrims in a strange land. Our way is clear because, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105). The way is lit by His word and it is made clear, but it is a narrow way. Take care to stay on the middle line of that Way, dear friend, as I strive to do myself. And look, see what good promises are ahead for His people the Jews and those of us grafted in!!

Isaiah 35:1-9

The Ransomed Shall Return

1The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
2it shall blossom abundantly
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the LORD,
the majesty of our God.

Pink flowers bloom after a rare rain ignited seeds
 that had lain dormant in the desert for years
.

3Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”

5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

Rushes thriving by a pond. EPrata photo

8And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
9No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.

The redeemed shall walk there. A promise we can cling to, hope on, and await expectantly. How beautiful the feet…

How beautiful upon the mountains
    are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
    who publishes salvation,
    who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” (Isaiah 52:7)

Posted in family, mockers and scoffers, pilgrim's progress, pope, tolerance

Dealing with In-Laws, family, personal apostasy/backsliding, dealing with mockers

A variety of links for you to enjoy while I sit here achy and grumpy on day 3 of aches and fever and probably flu.

Aimee Byrd “The Housewife Theologian” writes a thoughtful essay about Revelation’s letter to the Church at Thyatira and the danger to a church of tolerating even one person’s false doctrines. “I Love Your Love but I Hate Your Tolerance

From the archives of Andrew MacDonald at The Protestant Standard:
Five Joyce Meyer quotes you won’t post on Facebook

Former Catholic and now Christian apologist Mike Gendron has a biblical response to the Pope’s recent announcement: Pope Says the Division Between Evangelicals and Catholics Is A Work of the Devil

Pope Francis is the one who is doing the work of the devil by rebuilding the religious tower of Babel as he seeks to bring all Christians back home to Rome. Tragically, some evangelicals are jumping on his ecumenical bandwagon and departing from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1-3).

I’m a special education para-professional and I see what goes into parenting our precious special needs children. Kara Dedert on showing glory to God in doing the the mundane; special needs parenting. Jesus isn’t looking for flashy.

The Christian Pundit has some thoughts on Leaving and Cleaving

“A couple should live at least a hundred miles away from both sets of parents for at least the first year of marriage.” That’s what an older couple told us as we rode to church in the back seat of their car. We thought we were doing pretty well by that standard: it wasn’t quite our first year of marriage, but we were 3,000 miles away from all four parents.

Focus on the Family has some thoughts on In-Law Relationships

What do I owe my in-laws? That’s an interesting question. Another way to phrase it might be, “As a son-in-law or daughter-in-law, what’s required of me? What are my obligations, whether I feel like it or not, in relating to my spouse’s parents?”

At Steve Lawson’s blog Dustin Bruce has some thoughts about Backsliding: A Tragic but Common Descent

Speaking of personal apostasy, here are 9 Steps Toward Personal Apostasy from George Alvarado. He got them from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, and modernized the language.

“John Bunyan in the classic novel, Pilgrims Progress, illustrates the 9 progressive steps toward personal apostasy. This list is modified and modernized for your understanding. Please read and take heed. Save this in your journal, your computer, or make it your bookmark, but remember this well. I have bolded words that are important elements of understanding. If you want to read this portion of Pilgrims Progress in context, click here.”

Robin Schumacher shares How to Unmask a Hardened Skeptic AKA a “scoffer”.

It’s important to understand that the Bible advises against continually evangelizing certain people. … While the warning about such people is easy to understand, what’s oftentimes difficult for the Christian is recognizing the scoffer and heeding the Bible’s advice on dealing with them. To help with this, I’d like to pass along one method that’s worked fairly well for me.

 And just for fun:

Posted in conversation, encouragement, john bunyan, pilgrim's progress, salvation

We all have a pulpit. How do we use it?

I read an interesting list of points an author made about John Bunyan’s conversion. John Bunyan was the writer of Pilgrim’s Progress, a book many say is the greatest book ever written, apart from the bible. It is without doubt a literary masterpiece. It has stood the test of time since its publication in 1678. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious English literature in history. And the man who wrote it was raised as an atheist.

In Geoff Thomas’ essay titled “John Bunyan,” Mr Thomas wrote,

“John Bunyan had no family influences encouraging him to become a Christian. … In June 1644 when he was 16 his mother passed away and four weeks later his sister died. Eight weeks after his mother’s death his father remarried and in 8 months his wife gave birth to a boy whom his Royalist father named ‘Charles’. Four months earlier John had left home and had joined the Parliamentary Army fighting against King Charles. There was little affection between son and father. How then did John Bunyan become a Christian? There were ten factors which all played their part, great and small:”

One of these factors caught my attention-

Bunyan was stirred by the godly conversation of Christians.
He would work in Bedford and eat his bread with some Christian women who tailored their conversation for his ears. They talked of their own sin, the new birth, and the love of Christ. Bunyan listened intently and later wrote, ‘They spoke as if joy was making them speak. They were to me as if they had found a new world,’ and he often sought them out and sat with them.

‘they tailored their conversation for his ears.’ How important it is, to speak of Jesus in truth for known hearers and unknown hearers! The women must have seen the Spirit working in Bunyan, and they made a choice to and selflessly not speak of the carnal or mundane or the personal, but of the joy of His grace!

They were living this:

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6)

Gill’s Exposition says,

“let grace be the subject matter of your speech and conversation. When saints meet together they should converse with each other about the work of grace upon their souls, how it was begun, and how it has been carried on, and in what case it now is; they should talk of the great things and wonders of grace, which God has done for them, which would be both comfortable and edifying to them, and make for the glory of the grace of God”

Jason L. Sanders wrote this week,

Preachers Aren’t The Only Ones With Pulpits

Parents carry a pulpit with them. And from it, thousands of times a day, we preach a sermon to our kids. Whether the sermon is a good one or a bad one, we can be sure of this one thing.

Whether we are preachers exhorting in church, parents teaching our children, or two simple Puritan Christian ladies serving lunch to an obviously tortured soul, we have the privilege and the responsibility to speak ‘as if joy was making us speak.’

What glory it brings the Lord when we intentionally speak of the riches of His grace. Hearers known and unknown to us, Christian and perishing, listen to us and our Spirit-carried words,

For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. (2 Corinthians 2:16)

For John Bunyan, the ladies’ words were the aroma of life to life (‘he often sought them out and sat with them‘). Therefore season your conversation with love, joy, and salt, and watch with admiration and joy where He carries your words. For we all have a pulpit.

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)