Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Gem and Some Nuggets

There is a book that is a choice gem to me, with many nuggets of riches in its pages. From my standpoint, its author is like a lily among thorns in the rankings of female writers of any century. Aunt Jane's Hero is the gem and Elizabeth Prentiss is the one who produced the nuggets. Not as well known as her other great work, Stepping Heavenward, this nineteenth century narrative is a distinct and profound ministry to those who are waiting for God's will in marriage, those soon to be married, and those who have recently married. I know of none other like it.

I've written a companion to this book, and must admit that I've struggled with this project more than any other. Someday I hope to again offer it to the public, but for some reason I'm vaguely unsettled about this and that, so it's currently undergoing more revisions. It's so much a part of me; perhaps I hate to let it go. Pray for me about this, please.

I wanted to explain all that as an introduction to what I'm about to do here at Scraps. I'd like to take each of the twenty chapters of the AJH book (and of the corresponding companion) and do a post expressing what I see as the primary nugget in that chapter. I'll title each post to coincide with the chapter title in my companion. I can't really say how often I'll do this, but it will probably take us at least well into the fall is my guess. (After all, it's not the only topic I want to be talking about .) I hope this undertaking will whet the appetite of other folks for the Prentiss book and maybe even help me to pull everything together in my own mind.

I've been married for thirty-six years, but the words spoken by the principals of this story still prick, lift, and gently touch my heart. I think they would yours too.

So, as a foretaste of other valuable chunks to follow, here is a piece from the preface of the AJH book. It's a brief glimpse at a portrait of a Christ-centered home; indeed, it's a glance at the Christian life.

They were living to themselves: self, with its hopes, and promises, and dreams, still had hold of them; but the Lord began to fulfill their prayers. They had asked for contrition, and He sent them sorrow; they had asked for purity, and He sent them thrilling anguish; they had asked to be meek, and He had broken their hearts; they had asked to be dead to the world, and he slew all their living hopes; they had asked to be made like unto Him, and He placed them in the furnace, sitting by "as a refiner of silver," till they should reflect His image; they had asked to lay hold of His cross, and when He reached it to them, it lacerated their hands. They had asked they knew not what, nor how; but He had taken them at their word, and granted them all their petitions...

Monday, June 25, 2007

He Adored God in Both

"...Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."
Job 1:21

I didn't admit it verbally, but yesterday morning I was a bit grumbly in the inner man when the teacher for the Sunday school class above mine called me to ask me to take his class, because he had been up sick with a stomach bug during the night. Now, my first thought should have been concern for him and gratefulness for the opportunity to help a fellow saint (and extra children), but I'm sorry to say it wasn't. My first thought was irritation over the fact that the nice little lesson I had planned for the two sweet girls in my third and fourth grade class was being disrupted by these "older" kids, all of whom I'd previously taught. The lesson for the day was from the book of Job, chapters 1, 2 and 42. I had made up a nice little worksheet, specifically designed with my two girls in mind, and now I was also going to have five other students!

Well, need I say that our dear Lord showed me, once again, that He knows exactly what He's doing. Without going into too many details, suffice it to say that I was blessed yesterday. The story of Job once again touched my heart, and I do think it did the hearts of certain of the older students as well. I could tell. And one of my younger girls--I believe there were certain aspects that did hit home with her. I know that this teacher was affected, remembering those lessons from Job once again.

We all learned or relearned two crucial facts from that patriarch: God allows both good and bad things to happen in our lives; like Job, we have to trust in His providential workings in them all. We also learned that God can sovereignly restore blessings after they've been taken away.

I didn't get terribly deep with the children, but Matthew Henry did minister to my heart with his comments about the above verse (the second half is their memory verse this week). Referring to Job's response to the loss of all possessions, including his children, Mr. Henry said:

"He acknowledged the hand of God both in the mercies he had formerly enjoyed and in the afflictions he was now exercised with: 'The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.' The same that gave hath taken away; and may he not do what he will with his own? See how Job looks above instruments, and keeps his eye upon the first Cause.

"He adored God in both. When all was gone he fell down and worshipped..."

Will you and I be able to do the same? And I am thankful for His forgiveness for my initial reaction yesterday morning.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Thy Presence

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? Psalm 139:7

Praise the Lord for the negative answers to both these questions. I use the New king James Version these days, but for certain Scriptures, especially those precious ones hidden in the heart for so long, it has to be the old Authorized Version for me. The "thees" and "thous" and so forth cause my heart to have that sense of honor and worship so much more. But don't take it the wrong way. I don't believe that there is only worth in this one translation. I just happen to love it with a special love.

So, for this beloved verse, read what thus saith one John Mason concerning the words "thy presence":

The presence of God's glory is in heaven; the presence of his power on earth; the presence of his justice in hell; and the presence of his grace with his people. If he deny us his powerful presence, we fall into nothing; if he deny us his gracious presence, we fall into sin; if he deny us his merciful presence, we fall into hell.—John Mason.

Now, what saith thou to that?

Friday, June 15, 2007


June and July are busy months of celebrations in our family. Each year, we enjoy them as God provides, thankful to Him for allowing them to come. Life is full of trials, and they have and will come to us, so these special observations are welcome. For our family, these are the special occasions and dates for this year:

June 12th - Observance of 36 years of marriage for me and my dear husband.

June 15th - My dear younger daughter graduates eighth grade in our homeschool and has now progressed to high school. She has become a good, hard working student, and we commend her.

June 17th - Father's Day. We give our thanks for the years of faithfulness in fatherhood by my hubby and now, my son-in-law begins his journey.

June 17th - I mark another year, sixty-six now, of my pilgrimage here on earth.

July 10th - My husband's pilgrimage here will be seventy years, if God is gracious to allow him to reach that date. We hope so--we have a big dinner event planned!

July 20th - My dear older daughter, now a wife and mother, celebrates birthday number twenty-seven.

We take each of these events as a generous provision from our Father's hand. But will we be just as thankful to Him when the hard times come? I have been reading many blogs of people who are undergoing extreme trials, but yet they rejoice in the blessings of their God in the midst of these times. On my sidebar, you will see a recent post of a such a woman. I was touched immensely by this post. If you have any time at all, read it. Every week I link to a particular post that has been a blessing, at least to me, and this is the one for this week.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: . . . A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance . . .Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4

Monday, June 11, 2007

Come Thou Fount

Listen----and be blessed. Hallelujah.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Cross Then the Crown

"In spite of the painful reflections and memories, I have no time for bitterness. My life is filled with too much happiness, too many loving, caring people to allow myself to be devoured by the cancer of hate. I rejoice. I sing. I laugh. I celebrate, because I know that my God reigns supreme over all the forces of evil and destruction Satan has ever devised. And best of all—my God reigns supreme in me!"

Who were these words spoken by? Someone who had just heard that he had been gossiped about? Someone who had something go wrong in his family life? Someone who had his jewelry stolen? Someone who had lost an important election because of slanderous campaign tactics? NO--they were spoken by Noble Alexander after twenty-two years in a Cuban prison. He also said "I WILL DIE FREE." Read it here.

Whether he dies before Christ returns or not, he will be free--and he will receive his crown. Listen to the words of Ryle on Matthew 16:27:

The bitter must come before the sweet, the cross before the crown. The first advent is the dispensation of the crucifixion; the second advent is the dispensation of the kingdom. We must submit to take part with our Lord in His humiliation, if we desire to share in His glory.

~J.C. Ryle.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Our Sovereign God In Isaiah

If you, like me, are captivated by the topic of God's sovereignty, then read the book of Isaiah. It's replete with this particular doctrine about our God who reigns in heaven and in earth, a doctrine which may seem frightening to some, but brings comfort to me.
Yesterday's sermon was from Isaiah; it was about the necessity for us, as believers, to be witnesses for our Jehovah God (in the true, evangelical sense), but mostly my heart was ignited by the torch of the blessed truth--our God is Sovereign--as we read Scriptures like these:

Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,

Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying "My counsel shall stand and I will do all My pleasure,"

Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes my counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.

Isaiah 46:9-11

Does this scare you? Does it offend you? Does it make you want to say things like "why bother to witness, then?" Not me--it gives me purpose. I have more reason to proclaim the gospel because the One who sends me is the same One who will bring His purposes to fruition. Actually, I have the responsibility to do it, bringing to reality the dichotomy I once learned of: God's sovereignty alongside of man's responsibility in the calling of sinners to salvation.