Pondering the Paths

Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established (Proverbs 4:26)

JP: Good blog post by Diane Heeney.

Pondering the Paths

Excerpt:

… today, on the brink of a New Year, I am taking time to ponder the paths I have walked down in the last 350-some-odd days. Where did I choose to walk? With whom (am I walking with the wise)? Did I invite my Lord to come along on all my jaunts? In a fast-paced world, I am challenged to stop… and think. What I think will determine what I say, what I do. Simply put, “A life of integrity requires attention to heart, speech, eyes, and conduct.” (Jamieson, Faucette & Brown commentary)

The word “ponder” in Prov. 4:26 below can mean either to “prepare the way…make smooth” or “weigh in the balances”. Either meaning works for me. To look down the path and see that there are rocks, roots–dangerous obstacles to remove–if I am running, and not considering where I am going, I will trip and fall for sure. Sometimes a path is worth clearing…sometimes it is simply more prudent to turn around and choose another way (as seen below).

To “weigh” my path holds much the same meaning for me, but goes a little deeper: where is this path going…where will I end up if I continue down it? That is a crucial question…to look not only where your feet are planted currently (which may seem safe enough)…but to look to the end of the journey. Is it the “upward way” or increasingly more downhill? You know what happens, once you gain momentum…especially if you are heedless and leaning upon your own understanding. On those questionable paths, that “lamp unto my feet…light unto my path” is invaluable. The Word of God can reveal all the dips, curves, and menacing obstacles. Mental note: Better take it along.

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2008 – a retrospective

JP: Not sure if I agree with Albert Mohler’s list of ten, but still worthwhile read.

Ten for the History Books from 2008

Excerpt:

The year 2008 began with the anticipation that history would be made, and on that count the year certainly did not disappoint. Nevertheless, the year unfolded with more surprises than usual. The intellectual task of reviewing a year is always fascinating, usually difficult, and often humbling. That is certainly the case with the year 2008.

As a matter of fact, a good deal more time must pass until the meaning of 2008 and its events come into clearer view. In the meantime, here is a personal list of the events that shaped the year. Some may not make a list created by the historians of the future, but each is noteworthy in its own right.

Continue to his retrospective

Comment: Good conclusion

…. 2008 [was] a year to remember. Each year brings surprises, but few years bring so many. Most of us hope that 2009 will be a bit less eventful than 2008. The times, however, are in God’s hands and not ours.

2009: A new year

Do not boast about tomorrow,For you do not know what a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1)

Many things about tomorrow,
I don’t seem to understand;
But I know Who holds tomorrow,
And I know Who holds my hand.
(I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, Ira Stanphill)

I’ve considered the 70 Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. While I consider these worthwhile, I stumble at “Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week”! I do find # 17 very instructive: “Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”

Several years ago, someone recommended Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year:

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

  1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
  2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
  3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
  4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
  5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
  6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
  7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
  8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
  9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
  10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

While all 10 above are very good, # 6 seems very concrete – what can I do to help my church!

Often at the end of a year I reflect on that year’s surprises: I think of 9/11 (in 2001), the collapse of the financial markets this year, or the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake & tsunami. These events (and of course so many trillions and trillions of small events) catch men completely by surprise. Christians rejoice that we have a God who not only knows “from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) but “declar[es] the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10). This doctrine of God’s sovereignty is worthwhile considering often, but particularly at the start of a new year. What is God’s sovereignty?

Sovereignty—What It Is

It is the right of absolute dominion. The right to act in reference to oneself and others according to the dictate of our own will. It is thus among men. An absolute sovereign is an autocrat; a ruler whose will is law, which no one has a right to dispute or to disobey. This does not imply that any ruler has a right to do wrong; to violate the eternal principles of justice and mercy. But it implies that the ruler is responsible for the wisdom and justice of his acts to no one on earth.

So when we speak of the sovereignty of God, we mean his right to work all things after the counsel of his own will; to do what he wills with his own; that he has in reference to the whole universe the most absolute dominion and right to deal with his creatures just as seems good in his sight; to allow them to sin or to prevent their sinning; and when they have sinned, to allow them to perish or to provide salvation; and, if salvation be provided, to reveal it to one nation and not to another; to apply it to one person and not to another. Of course he has an equal right to determine their destiny on earth, whether it shall be civilized or savage, rich or poor, learned or ignorant, healthy or infirm, happy or miserable.

The sovereignty of God supposes that the whole plan of creation, providence and redemption, was adopted on the ground of God’s good pleasure; that the carrying out of that plan in all its infinitude of details is determined by his absolute will. So that if it be asked why Adam fell; why salvation was provided for man and not angels; why that salvation was revealed first to Jews and not to the Gentiles; why now it is made known to us and not to the Chinese; why you and not others are made partakers of this redemption; why one man is a noble and another a peasant; one sick and another well; one happy and another miserable; we have nothing to say but “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.”

This sovereignty of God is not what the schoolmen meant by absolute power; which supposes that God could make sin, holiness, and holiness, sin. For although there is no being above God to whom he is responsible, and no eternal principle to which he is subject, yet it is involved, in the idea of God as a rational and holy being that his acts are subject to his reason. Infinite reason cannot be unreasonable, nor can infinite holiness be unholy. (1)

As this chapter of history ends, I offer these suggestions for the new year:

  • Be a Christian! If you are unsure or need instruction I suggest reading the New Testament. The article “What is Life’s Most Critical Decision?” is helpful (select the “Gospel” tab on this website!)
  • Associate and be faithful to a local church where the Bible is taught and where you may fellowship with other Christians. Make attendance at worship services a priority.
  • Pray. John Piper has an excellent article entitled A Good Start on Prayer in 2009. Note his “Promises of Answered Prayer to Encourage Us to Pray with Hope”.
  • Read your Bible. Biblegateway provides multiple Bible reading plans.
  • Rest in God’s Sovereignty

1. The Sovereignty of God, by Charles Hodge. Another helpful article is Resting in God’s Sovereignty (Proverbs 16:1-4, by: J. Hampton Keathley, III

Worth far above rubies

JP: 34 years ago today (2 pm Eastern time), Kathee and I were joined in marriage in Temple Terrace Florida. I thank God for the lovely wife that God in His gracious providence provided to me. In many ways I think that Kathee is a better wife to me than I am a husband to her. Wedding memories:

  • My Sister-in-law threw rice all around the interior of my car. Oh I was angry about this. We went to a car wash right away to have it vacuumed out. Years later when we traded the car in, we were still finding rice in the interior. (see picture below – a ’73 Plymouth)
  • Kathee and I spent the first night of our honeymoon at the Don CeSar on St. Pete Beach, Florida. The Honeymoon suite was $ 50.
  • We traveled around Florida for a week. Every other night we stayed in “Eight Days Inns”. Back then it was $ 8.88 to a night. (Now known as “Day’s Inn”).
  • We visited Sea World, Boc Tower, the Kennedy Space center, St. Augustine, and Tallahassee.
  • I ate my first Egg McMuffin on our honeymoon. They were just being introduced into McDonalds.
  • How times have changed: The check to the minister (for officiating at the wedding) was $ 10. I still have the canceled check. I had hair. I was thin! This was pre-spinal cord injury so no crutches!

This post is about remembering an event 34 years ago. But it is also a celebration of the divine institution of marriage. I find these verses instructional:

  • “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” (Genesis 2:18)
  • “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 12:4)
  • “He who finds a wife finds a good thing,And obtains favor from the LORD.” (Proverbs 18:22)
  • “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the LORD” (Proverbs 19:14)
  • “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10)
  • “rejoice with the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18)

Some old pics:

Mystery Guest Coffee (12/27/08)

Doug and Marie McLachlan were our Mystery Guests today.

More photos available here

Photos from all of our Mystery Guest coffees (except first): here

God’s Christmas Card

On a day some 2000 years ago, God entered time and space.

“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel” Isaiah 7:14

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9: 6

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” John 1:1, 14

The following from a Christmas card expounds on John 3:16:

For God (the greatest Person)
So loved (the greatest degree)
The world (the greatest company)

That He gave (the greatest act)
His only begotten Son (the greatest gift)
That whosoever (the greatest opportunity)
Believeth (the greatest simplicity)
in Him (the greatest attraction)

Should not perish (the greatest promise)
But have (the greatest difference)
Everlasting life (the greatest possession)

JP: Image from an antique Christmas card in my Sister-in-law’s collection.

More Mystery Guest clues

Reminder: Mystery Guest coffee – Saturday 12/27 at 10:30 a.m. at the Mountain Mudd in New Hope.

More clues:

The car below has ‘Ventiports” (circled). This car was built in the town of and year of our guest’s birth.

Our guest’s sister’s great nephew is named:

Need to get your “rudder reset”? Buy this book (ISBN 0918407028) at ABE Books