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When Life HurtsMonks go looking for a cross, thinking that they are pleasing God by their stoic resolve. We encounter this sometimes in our own circles today, as believers often feel obliged to smile in public even if they collapse at home in private despair.

John Calvin counters, “Such a cheerfulness is not required of us as to remove all feeling of bitterness and pain.”

It is not as the Stoics of old foolishly described “the great-souled man”: one who, having cast off all human qualities, was affected equally by adversity and prosperity, by sad times and happy ones — nay, who like a stone was not affected at all. . . .

Now, among the Christians there are also new Stoics, who count it depraved not only to groan and weep but also to be sad and care-ridden. These paradoxes proceed, for the most part, from idle men who, exercising themselves more in speculation than in action, can do nothing but invent such paradoxes for us.

Yet we have nothing to do with this iron philosophy which our Lord and Master has condemned not only by his word, but also by his example. For he groaned and wept both over his own and others’ misfortunes. . . . And that no one might turn it into a vice, he openly proclaimed, “Blessed are those who mourn.”

The Sufferer’s Asylum

Especially given how some of Calvin’s heirs have confused a Northern European “stiff upper lip” stoicism with biblical piety, it is striking how frequently he rebuts this “cold” philosophy that would “turn us to stone.” Suffering is not to be denied or downplayed, but arouses us to flee to the asylum of the Father, in the Son, by the Spirit.

It is quite unimaginable that this theology of the cross will top the best-seller lists in our “be good–feel good” culture, but those who labor under perpetual sorrows, as Calvin did, will find solidarity in his stark realism:

Then only do we rightly advance by the discipline of the cross when we learn that this life, judged in itself, is troubled, turbulent, unhappy in countless ways, and in no respect clearly happy; that all those things which are judged to be its goods are uncertain, fleeting, vain, and vitiated by many intermingled evils. From this, at the same time, we conclude that in this life we are to seek and hope for nothing but struggle; when we think of our crown, we are to raise our eyes to heaven. For this we must believe: that the mind is never seriously aroused to desire and ponder the life to come unless it is previously imbued with contempt for the present life.

Yet precisely because “this life, judged in itself,” is filled with misery, the obvious evidences of God’s grace to us in the gospel fill us with hope. For our life is not merely judged in itself.

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Gun ban sought for Sochi during Olympics 2014 | SportskeedaLet us pray that the gospel will spread among the athletes and coaches and judges and fans and everyone else in Sochi, Russia.

Justin Bieber ‘Extremely Abusive’ to Flight Attendant, Has Pot Party at 10,000 Feet

By February 5, 2014 1:46 PM; Yahoo Celebrity

Authorities search Justin Bieber‘s plane on Jan. 31, 2014 (Splash News)

When Justin Bieber’s Super Bowl bound plane was searched by authorities for drugs on Friday, it apparently was for good reason.

During questioning at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport, the “Confident” singer admitted to smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol during the rowdy flight, according to a police report obtained by NBC News.

Justin, 19, and his father Jeremy Bieber, 38, were allegedly “extremely abusive” to a flight attendant on board, and their private jet was so full of marijuana smoke that the pilots were forced to wear oxygen masks.

“The captain of the flight stated that he warned the passengers, including Bieber, on several occasions to stop smoking marijuana,” the report supposedly reads. “The captain also stated he needed to request that the passengers stop their harassing behavior toward the flight attendant and after several warnings asked the flight attendant to stay with him near the cockpit to avoid any further abuse.”

“It is God’s will through His wonderful grace, that the prayers of His saints should be one of the great principal means of carrying on the designs of Christ’s kingdom in the world. When God has something very great to accomplish for His church, it is His will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayers of His people; as is manifest by Ezekiel 36:37. and it is revealed that, when God is about to accomplish great things for His church, He will begin by remarkably pouring out the spirit of grace and supplication (see Zechariah 12:10).”

~ Jonathan Edwards

The reality (of hell) will likely be far more terrible than what we can comprehend, considering the limits of our language and understanding. Nevertheless, I cannot think of anything more terrifying than eternally burning in a lake of fire, and that is precisely the point, and precisely why we must preach hell as Jesus preached hell and preach the gospel of eternal life as He preached it–for the love of God and our love for the lost.

~ Burk Parsons, Tabletalk, February 2014, 2. 

“No prayer!–No faith!–No Christ in the heart. Little prayer!–Little faith!–Little Christ in the heart. Increasing prayer!–Increasing faith!–Increasing Christ in the heart!. Much prayer!–Much faith!–Much Christ in the heart! Praying always!–Faith always!–Christ always!”

~ Alexander Whyte

February 2014
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