I’m reading John Flavel’s book, Keeping the Heart. The book is a collection of sermons on Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (NIV).
Flavel pictures the heart as a fort under attack from without and within. It is therefore in need of constant attention and defense:
Lavater on the text will have the word taken from a besieged garrison, beset by many enemies without, and in danger of being betrayed and destroyed by treacherous citizens within, in which danger the soldiers, upon pain of death, are commanded to watch… (p. 2).
We don’t think about our hearts and souls as often as we think about our physical body. But Proverbs 4:23 calls us to constant attention. Guard your heart both from external and internal attacks. Or, as M’Cheyne put it, don’t neglect the “culture of the inner man.”
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There is an article making the rounds in which David Letterman was asked if he ever ‘said a prayer’ before a show. He mentions an interview with Warren Zevon, who, at the time of the interview, had cancer:
I wouldn’t call it a prayer, but I would sometimes have a conversation with myself in the shower before the show. Warren Zevon was on years ago, and we all knew he was dying. I was at a loss because I couldn’t think of an entry point for a conversation with a dying man on a television show that’s supposed to be silly. “How are you doing? You look great!” doesn’t exactly work. I was really dissatisfied with my part of that conversation. I was ill-equipped to connect with a friend who was going through something like that.
Do you find it hard to imagine that a man who conversed for a living had difficulty talking to a dying man?
I spend more time in hospital rooms, and more time praying for the sick in general, than I prefer. But the lack of preference is for their illness, not for the inability to engage. Do you have something more than your wit to give to the dying?
Anyhow, the only reason I bring this up is because it reminded me of a famous quote from Richard Baxter:
I preached as never sure to preach again,
As a dying man to dying men.
Christ is all the comfort we have to give to dying men – and we are all dying men.
I recently discovered an old book by Isaac Watts (who incidentally was the inspiration for this blog) entitled Divine and Moral Songs for Children. There are some interesting poems that you might find helpful for children (or just helpful in general). A couple that I really like have to do with loving God and loving neighbor:
With all thy soul love God above.
And, as thyself thy neighbour love.
Love God with all your soul and strength,
With all your heart and mind:
And love your neighbour as yourself;
Be faithful, just, and kind.
Deal with another as you’d have
Another deal with you;
What you’re unwilling to receive,
Be sure you never do.
You can browse all the poems HERE.
Run, John, run. The law commands but gives neither feet nor hands. Better news the gospel brings; it bids me fly and gives me wings.
This past week, I came across an interesting lecture on how John Owen ‘protestantized’ (or ‘reformed’) the doctrine of the Beatific Vision. That is, he took the teachings of Aquinas and applied and expanded them in order to apply them to his own day. It’s an interesting listen, if you’re in to that sort of thing. Owen’s idea of sanctification through ‘seeing’ Christ has been very influential for my own thinking on sanctification. You can click the link below:
Suzanne McDonald, Beholding God’s Glory: John Owen and the ‘Reforming’ of the Beatific Vision