“A sight of the glory, beauty, and love of King Jesus” by John Newton

“I hope your souls prosper, and that the Lord hears from you and you from Him often.

And I hope that you both live a life of faith in the Son of God, are strong in His might, and comforted by refreshing views of His glory.

The great secret of our profession, (oh, that I could learn it better!) is to be looking at Jesus.

I am a stranger to the court; but I am told that those who wait there form themselves into little parties, have their own conversation, or make their remarks upon what passes, till the king appears; then every thing is hushed and dropped, and their attention is fixed upon him alone.

Oh, that thus by the eye of faith we might obtain such a sight of the glory, beauty, and love of King Jesus, as might unite our scattered thoughts, and attract all our powers and affections to Himself.

But, alas! we are prone (at least I may speak for myself) to forsake the fountain of living waters, and to hew out broken cisterns.

Instead of receiving Him, I am often looking in myself for something to enable me to do without Him, or at least for something to strengthen the warrant He has given me in His word to come to Him.

The Lord be merciful to my unbelief and slowness of heart; though taught and warned again and again, I am frequently repeating the old mistake, and seeking the living among the dead.

I have some faint idea of the life of faith, and can talk a little about it; but to experience myself the power of what I preach to others, this is too often what I find not.

Yet I must praise Him. If I did not, might not the very stones cry out and shame me?

For surely He hath dealt marvelously with me.

He found me in a waste howling wilderness, in more than the prodigal’s distress, with my heart full of madness and rebellion, and beset with horror on every side.

In this state I was when He first passed by me, and bid me live.

He sent from on high, and delivered me out of deep waters. And, oh, what has He not done for me since!

Given me to know, yea, to preach, His Gospel, cast my lot in a pleasant place, filled and surrounded me with mercies on every side.

And He has spoken good concerning me for a great while to come, even forever and ever. Praise the Lord, O my soul!

Come, my dear friends, and magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 74-75.

“Where our warfare and tears shall cease forever” by John Newton

“Rejoice, therefore, my dear friends, that you are God’s husbandry.

The early and the latter rain, and the cheerful beams of the Sun of Righteousness, are surely promised to ripen your souls for glory;—but storms and frosts likewise are useful and seasonable in their places, though we perhaps may think we could do better without them.

In our bright and lively frames, we learn what God can do for us; in our dark and dull hours, we feel how little we can do without Him; and both are needful to perfect our experience and to establish our faith.

At one time we are enabled to rejoice in God; at another we are seeking after Him sorrowing: these different seasons are equally good in their turns, though not equally comfortable; and there is nothing we need fear but security, carelessness, and presumption.

To think ourselves rich and increased with goods, or to suppose we are safe a moment longer than while depending upon Jesus would be dangerous.

Let us pray the Lord to keep us from such a mistake; and, as to the rest, we shall do well.

Let us be faithful and diligent in the use of all appointed means, especially in secret exercises, and then leave Him to lead us as He pleaseth.

And, though our path should lie through the fire or through the water, we may trust His power and love to bring us safely through, and at last to fix us in a wealthy place, where our warfare and tears shall cease forever.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 64-65.

“The glorious assembly” by John Newton

“The day must come when all creature-comforts shall vanish.

And when we view things in the light of eternity, it seems comparatively of small moment whether it is this year or twenty years hence.

If we are interested in the covenant of grace; if Jesus is our beloved, and heaven our home; we may be cast down for a little season, but we cannot be destroyed; nay, we shall not be overpowered.

Our faithful God will surely make our strength equal to our day.

He that has delivered, and does deliver, will deliver to the end; and it will not be long before he will wipe away all tears from our eyes.

Therefore let us not fear: whatever sufferings may be yet appointed for us, they shall work together for our good; and they are but light and momentary in comparison of that exceeding and eternal weight of glory to which we are drawing nearer every hour.

Well, the day is coming when all the Lord’s people who are scattered abroad, who praise him in different ages and different languages, shall be collected together, and stand with one heart, consent, and voice before the throne.

Oh, the glorious assembly! how white are their robes, how resplendent their crowns, how melodious their harps!

Every hour the chorus is augmented by the accession of fresh voices; and ere long we hope to join them.

Then shall we remember the way by which the Lord led us through this dark wilderness; and shall see that all our afflictions, our heaviest afflictions, were tender mercies, no less than our most pleasing comforts.

What we shall then see, it is now our privilege and duty to believe.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 62-63.

“We are traveling towards a land of light” by John Newton

“You have lately been in the furnace, and are now brought safely out. I hope you have much to say of the grace, care, and skill of the great Refiner, who watched over you; and that you have lost nothing but dross.

Let this experience be treasured up in your hearts for the use of future times.

Other trials will come; but you have found the Lord faithful to His promise, and have good encouragement to trust Him again.

You know your weak side; endeavour to set a double guard of prayer there.

Our earthly comforts would be doubly sweet, if we could but venture them without anxiety in the Lord’s hands.

And where can we lodge them so safely?

Is not the first gift, the continuance, the blessing which makes them pleasing, all from Him?

Was not His design in all this, that we should be happy in them?

How then can we fear that He will threaten them, much less take them away, but with a view to our farther benefit?

Let us suppose the thing we are most afraid of actually to happen. Can it come a moment sooner, or in any other way, than by His appointment?

Is He not gracious and faithful to support us under the stroke?

Is He not rich enough to give us something better than ever He will take away?

Is not the light of His countenance better than life and all its most valued enjoyments?

Is not this our time of trial, and are we not traveling towards a land of light?

I think when we view things in the light of eternity, it is much the same whether the separating stroke arrives at the end of seven or seventy years; since, come when it will, it must and will be felt.

But one draught of the river of pleasure at God’s right hand will make us forget our sorrows forever; or the remembrance, if any, will only serve to heighten our joys.

What is more, what life did He lead whom we call our Master and our Lord?

Was not He a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief?

Has He marked out one way to heaven with His painful footsteps, and shall we expect, or even wish, to walk in another?

With such considerations as these, we should endeavour to arm our minds, and pray to the Lord to fix a sense of them in our hearts, and to renew it from time to time; that, when changes are either feared or felt, we may not be like the people of the world, who have no hope, no refuge, no throne of grace, but may be enabled to glorify our God in the fire, and give proof that His grace is sufficient for us in every state.

It is neither comfortable for ourselves, nor honourable to our profession, to startle at every shaking leaf.

If we are sensible of this, mourn over our infirmities before the Lord, and faithfully strive in prayer against the fear that easily besets us, then He can, and He will, strengthen us with strength in our souls, and make us more than conquerors, according to His sure promise.

Oh, that I could improve the present, and cheerfully commit the future to Him who does all things wisely and well, and has promised that all shall work together for good! (Rom. 8:28)”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 59-61.

“Grace has much more abounded” by John Newton

“What is the tenderness of a mother, of ten thousand mothers, to that which our compassionate Saviour bears to every poor soul that has been enabled to flee to Him for salvation!

Let us be far from charging that to Him, of which we think we are utterly incapable ourselves. Take courage, madam: resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Do the same when he tempts you to question the Lord’s compassion and goodness. But there he imposes upon us with a show of humility, and persuades us that we do well to oppose our unworthiness as a sufficient exception to the many express promises of the Word.

It is said, the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin (1 John 1:7); that all manner of sin shall be forgiven for His sake (Matthew 12:31); that whoever cometh He will in no wise cast out (John 6:37); and that He is able to save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).

Believe His word, and Satan shall be found a liar.

Indeed, in this manner we have all dealt with the Lord, and yet, whenever we are willing to return, He is willing to receive us with open arms, and without an upbraiding word (Luke 15:20–22).

Though our sins have been deep-dyed, like scarlet and crimson, enormous as mountains, and countless as the sands, the sum total is, but, ‘Sin has abounded; but where sin hath abounded, grace has much more abounded.’ (Romans 5:20)

After all, I know the Lord keeps the key of comfort in His own hands, yet He has commanded us to attempt comforting one another.

I should rejoice to be His instrument of administering comfort to you.

I shall hope to hear from you soon; and that you will then be able to inform me He has restored to you the joys of His salvation.

But if not yet, wait for Him, and you shall not wait in vain.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 1: 685-686.

“Do you think Jesus Christ is only for little sinners?” by Charles Spurgeon

“Remember that even after you are secure in Christ, and accepted before God, and clothed in Christ’s righteousness, you may sometimes get despondent.

Christian men are but men, and they may have some trial, and then they get depressed if they have ever so much grace. I would defy the apostle Paul himself to help it.

But what then? Why then you can get joy and peace through believing. I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to, but I always get back again by this— I know I trust Christ.

I have no reliance but in Him, and if He falls I shall fall with Him, but if He does not, I shall not. Because He lives, I shall live also, and I spring to my legs again and fight with my depressions of spirit and my downcastings, and get the victory through it.

And so may you do, and so you must, for there is no other way of escaping from it. In your most depressed seasons, you are to get joy and peace through believing.

‘Ah!’ says one, ‘but suppose you have fallen into some great sin—what then?’ Why then the more reason that you should cast yourself upon Him. Do you think Jesus Christ is only for little sinners? Is He a doctor that only heals finger-aches?

Beloved, it is no faith to trust Christ when I have not any sin, but it is true faith when I am foul, and black, and filthy; when during the day I have tripped up and fallen, and done serious damage to my joy and peace, to go back again to that dear fountain and say:

‘Lord, I never loved washing so much before as I do tonight, for today I have made a fool of myself; I have said and done what I ought not to have done, and I am ashamed and full of confusion, but I believe Christ can save me, even me, and I will rest in Him still.’

That is the true way of Christian life, and the only way of getting joy and peace. Go to Christ even when sin prevails.

Only let your confidence be not in your peace, not in your joy, but in Christ.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Joy and Peace in Believing,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 12 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1866), 12: 298–299.

“Never let go out of your minds the thoughts of a crucified Christ” by Thomas Brooks

“Remedy (4.) Seriously to consider, That even those very sins that Satan paints, and puts new names and colours upon, cost the best blood, the noblest blood, the life-blood, the heart-blood of the Lord Jesus.

That Christ should come from the eternal bosom of His Father to a region of sorrow and death;
that God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature;
that He that was clothed with glory should be wrapped with rags of flesh;
He that filled heaven and earth with His glory should be cradled in a manger;
that the power of God should fly from weak man, the God of Israel into Egypt;
that the God of the law should be subject to the law, the God of the circumcision circumcised, the God that made the heavens working at Joseph’s homely trade;
that He that binds the devils in chains should be tempted;
that He, whose is the world, and the fulness thereof, should hunger and thirst;
that the God of strength should be weary, the Judge of all flesh condemned, the God of life put to death;
that He that is one with His Father should cry out of misery, ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’;
that He that had the keys of hell and death at His girdle should lie imprisoned in the sepulchre of another, having in His lifetime nowhere to lay His head, nor after death to lay His body;
that that head, before which the angels do cast down their crowns, should be crowned with thorns,
and those eyes, purer than the sun, put out by the darkness of death;
those ears, which hear nothing but hallelujahs of saints and angels, to hear the blasphemies of the multitude;
that face, that was fairer than the sons of men, to be spit on by those beastly wretched Jews;
that mouth and tongue, that spake as never man spake, accused for blasphemy;
those hands, that freely swayed the sceptre of heaven, nailed to the cross;
those feet, ‘like unto fine brass,’ nailed to the cross for man’s sins;
each sense annoyed: His feeling or touching, with a spear and nails;
His smell, with stinking flavour, being crucified about Golgotha, the place of skulls;
His taste, with vinegar and gall;
His hearing, with reproaches, and sight of His mother and disciples bemoaning Him;
His soul, comfortless and forsaken;
and all, this for those very sins that Satan paints and puts fine colours upon!

Oh! How should the consideration of this stir up the soul against it, and work the soul to fly from it, and to use all holy means whereby sin may be subdued and destroyed!

It was good counsel one gave, ‘Never let go out of your minds the thoughts of a crucified Christ.’

Let these be meat and drink unto you; let them be your sweetness and consolation, your honey and your desire, your reading and your meditation, your life, death, and resurrection.”

–Thomas Brooks, The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, Ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 17-18.

“Technology in its proper place” by Andy Crouch

“Figuring out the proper place for technology in our particular family and stage of life requires discernment rather than a simple formula. Even the ten commitments in this book are meant to be starting points for discussion– and as you will read, they are ones my own family has kept fitfully at best.

But almost anything is better than letting technology overwhelm us with its default settings, taking over our lives and stunting our growth in the ways that really matter. And I think there are some things that are true at every stage of life:

Technology is in its proper place when it helps us bond with the real people we have been given to love. It’s out of its proper place when we end up bonding with people at a distance, like celebrities, whom we will never meet.

Technology is in its proper place when it starts great conversations. It’s out of its proper place when it prevents us from talking with and listening to one another.

Technology is in its proper place when it helps us take care of the fragile bodies we inhabit. It’s out of its proper place when it promises to help us escape the limits and vulnerabilities of those bodies altogether.

Technology is in its proper place when it helps us acquire skill and mastery of domains that are the glory of human culture (sports, music, the arts, cooking, writing, accounting; the list could go on and on). When we let technology replace the development of skill with passive consumption, something has gone wrong.

Technology is in its proper place when it helps us cultivate awe for the created world we are part of and responsible for stewarding (our family spent some joyful and awefilled hours when our children were ill middle school watching the beautifully produced BBC series Planet Earth). It’s out of its proper place when it keeps us from engaging the wild and wonderful natural world with all our senses.

Technology is in its proper place only when we use it with intention and care. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about technology, it’s that it doesn’t stay in its proper place on its own; much like my children’s toys and stuffed creatures and minor treasures, it finds its way underfoot all over the house and all over our lives. If we aren’t intentional and careful, we’ll end up with a quite extraordinary mess.”

–Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2017), 19-21.

“A rich and gracious Savior” by John Newton

“I may express all my complaints in one short sentence: I am a poor creature.

And all my hopes and comforts may be summed up as briefly by saying: I have a rich and gracious Saviour.

Full as I am in myself of inconsistencies and conflicts, I have in Him a measure of peace.

He found me in a waste howling wilderness. He redeemed me from the house of misery and bondage.

And though I have been ungrateful and perverse, He has not yet forsaken me. I trust He never will.

‘Unsustained by Thee I fall.’ But He is able to hold even me up: to pity, to support, and to supply me to the end of life.

How suitable a Saviour! He is made all things to those who have nothing, and He is engaged to help those who can do nothing.”

–John Newton, The Aged Pilgrim’s Thoughts Over Sin and the Grave, Illustrated in a Series of Letters to Walter Taylor, Never Before Published, by the Rev. John Newton (London: Baker and Fletcher, 2nd Ed., 1825), 6.

“Ten diagnostic questions” by Tony Reinke

“As in every age, God calls His children to stop, study what captures their attention in this world, weigh the consequences, and fight for undistracted hearts before Him. To that end, here are ten diagnostic questions we can ask ourselves in the digital age:

1. Do my smartphone habits expose an underlying addiction to untimely amusements?
2. Do my smartphone habits reveal a compulsive desire to be seen and affirmed?
3. Do my smartphone habits distract me from genuine communion with God?
4. Do my smartphone habits provide an easy escape from sobered thinking about my death, the return of Christ, and eternal realities?
5. Do my smartphone habits preoccupy me with the pursuit of worldly success?
6. Do my smartphone habits mute the sporadic leading of God’s Spirit in my life?
7. Do my smartphone habits preoccupy me with dating and romance?
8. Do my smartphone habits build up Christians and my local church?
9. Do my smartphone habits center on what is necessary to me and beneficial to others?
10. Do my smartphone habits disengage me from the needs of the neighbors God has placed right in front of me?

Let’s be honest: our digital addictions (if we can call them that) are welcomed addictions. The key is to move from being distracted on purpose to being less and less distracted with an eternal purpose.

The questions sting, and they touch every area of life—God, spouse, family, friends, work, leisure, and self-projection. But this sting can lead us to make healthy changes.”

Tony Reinke, 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 51-53.