R's Commonplace Book

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The WordPress software that runs our Forthright Magazine website says that Stan Mitchell had published no fewer than 715 articles in his Reality Check column. The one we still have for next week will make 716. That is no small feat.

Stan wrote about a wide range of subjects. His work as a college professor often shone through as he addressed issues especially pertinent to young people. He thought much about the next generation of saints. Stan upheld the historicity of the Bible and wrote about archaeology and Christian evidences. He loved to ponder facets of our singing, having written a book about it. He sought to encourage readers to be wholehearted, genuine, and dedicated in faith.

His articles deserve repeated reading.

Friend Stan passed away this morning. This was his day to publish on FMag, and we had one article to go up of his. One more for next week also. Then his column goes quiet.

Family note: DD and her fiancé had started premarital counseling with Stan. They were going to ask him to perform the wedding ceremony.

Wm. Barclay comments on 1 John 3.1-2:

“John, then, begins by reminding his people of the privileges of the Christian life. He goes on to set before them what is in many ways a still more tremendous truth, the great fact that this life is only a beginning. Here John observes the only true agnosticism. So great is the future and its glory that he will not even guess at it or try to put it into inevitably inadequate words. But there are certain things he does say about it.”

Some of Barclay’s following comments are quite deficient in truth, but the very challenge of understanding our future glory speaks volumes about its marvelous nature. So much better will it be!

Many today are like the unbelieving Jews who rejected Jesus. They were looking for a Messiah to change their circumstances, instead of transform their lives. They wanted rescue from Rome, rather than deliverance from their sins. They wanted freedom from the oppression of foreign armies, instead of freedom from their own desires and from the destiny due to their rebellion.

Many reject what Jesus came to do, and thereby reject him. They are not willing to come to him to have eternal life, Jn 5.40, because he wants to save us all from sin, Jn 5.34.

Today, many want freedom from circumstances, problems, conflicts, illness, and financial constraints. They want to live for themselves. Jesus will not permit it. So they invent Jesus the problem-solver, Jesus the health-and-wealth magician, Jesus the bring of heaven to earth, where there is no pain, no tears, no dying, no suffering.

And because Jesus is none of these, he quickly fades from their view as they remake and remold and twist him into an idol of their own making. They adapt him to their reality and their vision. Scripture becomes a tool, religion a crutch, prayer a heavenly pull chain.

The soul that refuses to be converted converts the Savior into his own image. And it is not a pretty sight.

“… the ‘progressives’ innovate on teaching and conduct and thus start the schism, and then accuse the ‘conservatives’ of drawing lines and promoting schism instead of agreeing to disagree.” —D.A. Carson

“Our” progressives are doing the same, blaming the faithful for being divisive. Much like Ahab accusing Elijah in 1 Kgs 18.17-18.

“Why should we look upon removal to another country as a sorrowful necessity when it is laid upon us by the divine will?” —C.H. Spurgeon

The entire devotional, which is quite short, is well worth reading.

J.R Miller wrote this story in a devotional thought based upon Lk 2.12.

Yes! that is the meaning of it all. It tells of the good will of God toward all men. There is a strange medieval legend which illustrates this truth. An infidel knight, in the wildness of his mad, Heaven-defying infidelity, determined to test, by the method to which as a knight he was accustomed, the reality and power of the God whose existence he denied.

So, going out into the field, armed as if for combat, he cast his glove down upon the ground, after the manner of the ancient challengers, and cried out to the heavens: “God! if there be a God, I defy thee here and now to mortal combat! If thou indeed art, put forth thy might, of which thy pretended priests make such boasts.” As he spoke, his eye was caught by a piece of parchment fluttering in the air just above his head. It fell at his feet. He stooped and picked it up, and found inscribed upon it these words, “God is love!” Overcome by this unexpected response, he broke his sword in token of his surrender, and kneeling upon the fragments, consecrated his life henceforth to the service of that God whom he had just before defied.

A man and his wife lost their three-year-old daughter to cancer. He shared his experience and said that people who expected God to do miracles at their behest had a God that was too big.

God’s work in the world is not to perform miracles, but to draw us close to him, to walk with his children in their trails and sufferings, that they might grow in faith and know him better.


The last item in the list of security measures is a prohibition for anyone other than authorized personnel to fill a gas tank. Considering absolutely everyone in the USA fills their own tank, is there some other cultural or economic value at work here?

You say you want to be like Christ. You ask Him to print His own image on your heart. Here, then is the image! It is no vague dream of perfection that we are to think of–when we ask to be made like Christ. The Catholic monks thought that they were becoming like Christ–when they went into the wilderness, away from men, to live in cold cells. But that is not what this picture suggests. “To serve“–that is the Christlike thing! Instead of fleeing away from the world–we are to live among men, to serve them, to seek to bless them, to do them good, to give our life for them! —J.R. Miller

Focus question: Who can I serve today? What can I do to serve someone? Can I ask someone else what I can I do to serve them?

God above who came below, show me a need that cries for fulfillment, a person who is not being served, that I might be that servant.

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