Our thoughts follow our affections

If you delight in something, you give yourself to it with greater joy, and greater duration. When you don’t, it becomes a drudgery to deal with it.

Puritan pastor Thomas Manton reflects on Psalm 1:2 (below), and the connection between delighting in the Word of God, and where that will lead…!

Mark first, that the Word was his delight, and then his meditation. Delight causeth meditation, and meditation increaseth delight: BUT HIS DELIGHT IS IN THE LAW OF THE LORD, AND IN HIS LAW DOTH HE MEDITATE DAY AND NIGHT (Psalm 1:2). A man that delights in the law of God, will exercise his mind therein. Our thoughts follow our affections. It is tedious and irksome to the flesh to meditate, but delight will carry us out. The smallest actions when we have no delight in them, seem tedious and burdensome. … The difficulty we find in holy duties lieth not in the duties themselves, but in the awkwardness of our affections. … He that finds a heart to this work, will find a head. Delight will set the mind a work, for we are apt to muse and pause upon that which is pleasing to us.
[sermons on Psalm 119, vol. 1, p. 126]

Thinking is vital to Christianity

In 2 Timothy 2:7, the Apostle Paul explicitly directs young pastor Timothy to think: “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” It is not enough to hear the Word of God, or read the Word of God; you must think over the Word of God — not to pass judgment upon it, but to know and grasp it, to gain (as Paul writes) understanding.

How do we come to understand God’s Word?

First, is our obedience to the exhortation to think. We must exert our brain. We must go beyond mere reading or even studying, to be intentional about pondering and carefully considering what God has revealed to us in His written Word. In some passages, this is easily done; in others it is more challenging. Given this command to think, I encourage you to MEDITATE more over the things of God. Thomas Manton says this about the distinctive of meditation (and its aim);

“The end of study is information, and the end of meditation is practice, or a work upon the affections. Study is like a winter’s sun that shineth, but warmeth not; but meditation is like blowing upon the fire, where we do not mind the blaze but the heat. The end of study is to hoard up truth; but of meditation, to lay it forth in conference or holy conversation. In study, we are rather like vintners that take in wine to store themselves for sale; in meditation, like those that buy wine for their own use and comfort. A vintner’s cellar may be better stored than a nobleman’s. The student may have more of notion and knowledge, but the practical Christian [who meditates] hath more of taste and refreshment.”

Second (and thankfully), we approach the place of understanding only by God’s help. Did you read the verse carefully: “…for the Lord will give you understanding….” He commands thinking, and He enables our understanding. What a marvelous God we serve!

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The Lost Art of Reading

I had hoped to read 12-15 books this summer (beyond my reading for work, which is already fairly substantial), but, alas, I’ve fallen short of the goal. I do hope to close the gap in the final weeks of summer though!

1043_39_56---Old-Library-Books--The-Literary-and-Philosophical-Society-Of-Newcastle-upon-Tyne_webI run into a lot of people who say they love to read, but rarely read a whole book. How about you? I encourage you to withdraw from our 24/7, techno-driven culture and pick up a classic piece of literature, or a fine volume of Christian material. Reading is about more than gaining new information. Reading is a special event when you engage your mind with the mind of another, and interact with their thoughts and worldview. David Ulin writes this…

Reading is an act of contemplation, perhaps the only act in which we allow ourselves to merge with the consciousness of another human being. We possess the books we read, animating the waiting stillness of their language, but they possess us also, filling us with thoughts and observations, asking us to make them part of ourselves”

This comes from an article in the LA Times THE LOST ART OF READING. It wanders around a bit, but makes some very keen observations. Here’s another paragraph….

This is where real reading comes in — because it demands that space, because by drawing us back from the present, it restores time to us in a fundamental way. There is the present-tense experience of reading, but also the chronology of the narrative, as well as of the characters and author, all of whom bear their own relationships to time. There is the fixity of the text, which doesn’t change whether written yesterday or a thousand years ago. St. Augustine composed his “Confessions” in AD 397, but when he details his spiritual upheaval, his attempts to find meaning in the face of transient existence, the immediacy of his longing obliterates the temporal divide.

You can read the whole thing here.

Now, logoff and read.
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A quiet soul… (updated)

Cell PhoneAll too often, when I am waiting for something, or doing a simple task, I try to add another activity (reading something, or making notes, etc.). Multitasking may seem to be a virtue in today’s culture, but it cannot profit you spiritually. To properly approach God, requires a right attitude and sense of need, as seen in Psalm 131….

131:1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord from this
time forth and forevermore. esv

We need to grasp what David here grasps: humility and a sense of need before the Almighty, as well as a turning from anxiousness and the need for control. Calmness of spirit is the sign of one who knows the gracious qualities of the Lord he approaches, as well as child-like trust in His love.

O friends, hope in the Lord in this way….
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UPDATE: Check out an excellent essay related to this post, by Dr Al Mohler entitled Where Do All the Colors Go at Night?” — Children and the Need for Silence. Here is an excerpt…

One of the most lamentable aspects of modern life is the disappearance of silence. Throughout most of human history, silence has been a part of life. Many individuals lived a significant portion of their lives in silence, working in solitude and untroubled by the intrusion of constant noise.

Historians often point to the Industrial Revolution as a great turning point in the human experience of environmental sound and constant noise. The arrival of the factory and the concentration of human populations in cities bought a transformation that was accompanied by increased noise and the displaced silence. Today, the problem of noise pollution is a matter of concern to many of us, who find our lives frequently interrupted by unwanted sounds and constant noise.

Our culture now assumes noise and the constant availability of music, electronic chatter, and entertainment. In many homes, there is virtually no silence — at least during waking hours. In some homes, family members live in isolated environments of independent sound, with iPods, televisions, radios, and any number of other technologies providing a customized experience of noise.

All this takes a toll upon the soul…. READ THE WHOLE THING