• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • March 2023
    M T W T F S S
  • Recommended Reading

Renewing Our Spiritual Strength

Quoting Ronald Reagan:

“This is the real task before us: to reassert our commitment as a nation to a law higher than our own, to renew our spiritual strength. Only by building a wall of such spiritual resolve can we, as a free people, hope to protect our own heritage and make it someday the birthright of all men.”

Edward T. Welch On Spirituality And Addictions

From the desk of Edward T. Welch:

If we allow the Bible to reveal the unseen spiritual realities behind addictions, we suddenly realize that addictions are more than self-destructive behaviors. They are violations of God’s laws: His laws that call us to avoid drunkenness and immoderate self-indulgence (Rom. 13:13), His law that calls us to love others (1 John 4:7), and His law that calls us to live for Him rather than ourselves (1 Cor. 10:31). This means that addiction is more about someone’s relationship with God than it is about biology. It reveals our allegiances: what we want, what we love, whom and what we serve. It brings us to that all-important question, “Will you live for the fulfillment of your desires or for God? (Blame it on the Brain? P&R Publishing, 1998, p. 193)

Sam Storms On Addiction

Sam Storms

From the writings of Sam Storms:

Many people who fall into sinful addictions are people who were once terminally bored. The reason why addictions are so powerful is that they tap into that place in our hearts that was made for transcendent communion and spiritual romance. These addictive habits either dull and deaden our yearnings for a satisfaction we fear we’ll never find or they provide an alternative counterfeit fulfillment that we think will bring long-term happiness, counterfeits like cocaine, overeating, illicit affairs, busyness, efficiency, image, or obsession with physical beauty. They all find their power in the inescapable yearning of the human heart to be fascinated and pleased and enthralled. Our hearts will invariably lead us either to the fleeting pleasures of addiction or to God. (Copied from: Pleasures Evermore: The Life-Changing Power of Knowing God, © 2000, p. 51)

Six Conditions That Make Anger Sinful!

Robert E. Speer

Quoting Robert E. Speer:

1. When, to favor a resentment or feud, we imagine an injury done to us.

2. When an injury done to us becomes, in our minds, greater than it really is.

3. When, without real injury, we feel resentment on account of pain or inconvenience.

4. When indignation rises too high, and overwhelms our ability to restrain.

5. When we gratify resentments by causing pain or harm out of revenge.

6. When we are so perplexed and angry at sin in our own lives that we readily project anger at the sin we find in others. (Christ and Life, Revell, 1901, p. 104)

Part IV: George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior

George Washington

41 Undertake not to teach your equal in the art himself professes; it (manuscript damaged) of arrogance.

42 [damaged manuscript]; and same with a clown and a prince,

43 Do not express joy before one sick in pain, for that contrary passion will aggravate his misery.

44 When a man does all he can, though it succeed not well, blame not him that did it.

45 Being to advise or reprehend any one, consider whether it ought to be in public or in private, and presently or at some other time; in what terms to do it; and in reproving show no signs of choler but do it with all sweetness and mildness.

46 Take all admonitions thankfully in what time or place so ever given, but afterwards not being culpable take a time and place convenient to let him know it that gave them.

47 Mock not nor jest at any thing of importance. Break no jests that are sharp, biting, – and if you deliver any thing witty and pleasant, abstain from laughing thereat yourself.

48 Where in [wherein] you reprove another be unblameable yourself, -for example is more prevalent than precepts,

49 Use no reproachful language against any one; neither curse nor revile.

50 Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of any.

Part 1: George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior (1748)

General George Washington

1 Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.

2 When in company, put not your hands to any part of the body not usually discovered.

3 Show nothing to your friend that may affright him.

4 In the presence of others, sing not to yourself with a humming voice, or drum with your fingers or feet.

5 If you cough, sneeze, sigh, or yawn, do it not loud but privately, and speak not in your yawning, but put your handkerchief or hand before your face and turn aside.

6 Sleep not when others speak; sit not when others stand; speak not when you should hold your peace; walk not on when others stop.

7 Put not off your clothes in the presence of others, nor go out your chamber half dressed.

8 At play and attire, it’s good manners to give place to the last comer, and affect not to speak louder than ordinary.

9 Spit not into the fire, nor stoop low before it; neither put your hands into the flames to warm them, nor set your feet upon the fire, especially if there be meat before it.

10 When you sit down, keep your feet firm and even; without putting one on the other or crossing them.

Overcoming Spiritual Depression

Of the many books authored by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, his book on Spiritual Depression is one of my favorites. Recently, Granted Ministries has created a video to promote the publication of a new edition of this book. It is also a great introduction to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I hope you will watch the following video:

The 2011 edition of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ classic book is now in stock at mlj-usa.com. It also comes complete with a disc that contains 24 of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermons on Spiritual Depression in MP3 format.

See mlj-usa.com. . . .

Learn While On Your Knees

John Bunyan

John Bunyan

Quoting John Bunyan:

“The truths that I know best I have learned on my knees. I never know a thing well, till it is burned into my heart by prayer.”

The American Culture Of Narcissism

Dr. Ross Porter, licensed Clinical Psychologist, is the founder and Executive Director of Stillpoint Family Resources. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his Ph.D. (Clinical Psychology) and M.Div. (Master of Divinity) degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary, where he first became interested in the integration of psychology and spirituality. Dr. Porter writes and presents workshops and seminars on issues dealing with psychology and spirituality. He has created the The Virtue Project, a unique and practical vision of healing and hope that integrates psychological truth with theological and philosophical wisdom. The following excerpt is from Dr. Porter’s article on “Reclaiming Virtue and Wisdom”:

There was a time when reality-testing was a hallmark of good mental health. The presumption was that a psychologically well person could distinguish between what was objectively good behavior and what was inappropriate; what was natural and what was unnatural; what was creative and what was destructive. Psychologically unhealthy people, in contrast, struggled consistently with making these same kinds of fundamental discernments. Responsibilities, both to self and others, were understood and taken seriously. Duty was not a four-letter word, and giving back was not the punch line of a joke.

We need no Gallup poll to confirm current American culture is not our grandparent’s generation. The increasingly self-indulgent, secularized, nihilistic America that followed The Great Depression and World War II has left our culture both psychologically immature and morally confused about meaning and purpose. Like never before in America, subjectivity is becoming the sole source of both reality and truth. And there’s the problem, pure subjectivity does not provide a shared standard for judging reality or truth.

How does this exhibit in our culture? Americans increasingly fall prey to a phenomenon known as the “self-serving bias”, exhibiting a reliable tendency to interpret events in ways that are favorable to them, or show them in the best possible light; even when objective facts don’t justify these judgments. So all successes are attributed to me, but all failures are blamed on others. If I get the job it’s because I’m wonderful, but if I don’t it’s because I was discriminated against. If I stay with my wife it’s because I’m wonderful, but if I leave it’s because she wasn’t meeting my needs. If my son excels in school it’s because he’s my son and I’m wonderful, but if he rebels it’s because of the school. This is consistent with what Paul Vitz has called “selfism”, and what Christopher Lasch has called “the culture of narcissism.”

Read “Reclaiming Virtue and Wisdom” here. . . .

Too Much Introspection?

Andrée Seu writes this article which appears in World today. The title is “His Word Over Mine”. She expresses the problem that so many of us have in this self-absorbed culture. This is right on target! I hope you will read the entire article:

Personality is a funny thing. By the time you are middle aged, you cannot tell how much is nature, nurture, or the fruit of bad choices.

Doesn’t matter. I have spent too much time trying to understand why I am the way I am, and not nearly enough time thinking about who God says I am. He tells me that all the old is passed away, and behold, the new is come. That’s His Word. Am I going to put my word above His, or am I going to side with God against my own self-evaluation?

Continue reading here. . . .


Thomas Watson

Quoting Thomas Watson:

This world brings only ‘change’, it is never constant but in its disappointments. The world is but a great inn, where we are to stay a night or two, and be gone; what madness is it to set our heart upon our inn, as to forget our home!

C. S. Lewis On Tyranny

C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis

Quoting British author C.S. Lewis (1898-1963):

“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Sickness Or Sin?

There are many in the academic fields who advocate that sin does not exist and what we might call sin is predestined by our physical bodies. They view addiction as a problem of predispositioned chemicals and the architecture of the brain. Thus sin becomes treated as a sickness which an unlucky individual catches. He has no choice and is not responsible. Dr. Benjamin Wiker writes more on this subject:

Is gambling an addiction or a sinful habit? What about pornography? Overeating? Drinking? Shopping? Checking email? Texting? Watching television? Playing video games? Working? They’ve all been called addictions. Is that really what they are?

If we follow this line of reasoning out to its logical conclusion, then it would be logical to call all bad or destructive behavior, “addictive,” so that “addicts” of whatever kind are helpless victims of forces beyond their control. A woman gambles because she cannot help it. A man drinks because he cannot help it. A woman shops because she cannot help it. A man throws himself into internet pornography because he cannot help it. Addicts, helpless victims, one and all.

The obvious problem with this view is that it entirely destroys morality by denying the possibility of good, freely-chosen action. We should call them what they really are: sinful habits. Or we could use the more exact and compact word, vices. A sign of the correctness of this word is that “vice” contains the notion of addiction—a kind of helpless slavery—even while it affirms the presence of free will and moral culpability. . . .

Continue reading. . . .

The Avastin Battle

There is a drug which many people with different types of cancer have been grateful for. The drug is called Avastin. Avastin does not cure cancer. It does, however, starve tumors of nutrients and oxygen. It can slow the spread of cancer and improve the quality of a cancer victim’s life.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Avastin for colon cancer (2004), lung cancer (2006), and advanced breast cancer (2008). As usual, however, our government may soon be making a decision that hurts people with a certain type of cancer. The FDA is about to take the final step to designate the use of this drug as “off-label” for breast cancer. This means that government supported health insurance plans (such as for our military) will refuse to reimburse for this medicine because it is “off-label”. The real kicker here is that private insurance companies usually follow the lead of government insurers.

Last July, the Oncologic Committee of the FDA decided that Avastin did not represent a favorable risk/benefit analysis (FR/BA). Please understand that FR/BA has nothing to do with the effectiveness of the drug. FR/BA is all about population statistics and cost. Avastin breast cancer treatment costs as much as $88,000 annually. If the FDA designates this drug as “off-label,” most breast cancer patients will be unable to afford treatment with Avastin.

God’s Own Sake

From Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, p. 2.233:

“[God] wills creatures, not for something they are or that is in them, but for his own sake. He remains his own goal. He never focuses on his creatures as such, but through them he focuses on himself. Proceeding from himself, he returns to himself. It is one single propensity that drives him to himself as the ultimate end and to his creatures as the means to that end. His love for himself incorporates into itself the love he has for his creatures and through them returns to himself. Therefore, his willing, also in relation to creatures, is never a striving for some as yet unpossessed good and hence no sign of imperfection and infelicity. On the contrary: his willing is always – also in and through his creatures – absolute self-enjoyment, perfect blessedness, divine rest.”

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