Monthly Archives: February 2011

Pilgrim’s Progress – Chapter One, Progress Points

As we begin contemplating our Ancient Journey to a New City by reading Pilgrim’s Progress together this year, we need to get a sort of 30,000ft. view of each chapter.  From that high up, we will see the mountain peaks so to speak.  In other words, it will be helpful discover the two or three take-away points of each chapter.  What are the two or three thought pegs from each chapter upon which we can hang our hats?   So, three times a week, we will post from 30,000ft.

Since we are beginning this Sunday night, today we have three posts in one.

In Chapter One: Pilgrim’s Great Distress, we see:

1) Pilgrim’s Condition – Our narrator dreams of a man walking, clothed in rags.  Why would he make note of that?  How does this relate to the Bible, the cross, and the gospel, with which Pilgrim’s Progress is so concerned?

Look up Isa 64:6.  What does it tell us about our own righteousness?

Read Ge 3:21. What did Adam and Eve need, instead of their fig leaf togas?  What do garments of skin point to?

Look up Isa 61:10. What garment is ours in Christ?

The book our Pilgrim is reading will lead the way to such new fashions.

We also discover that our Pilgrim is carrying a heavy burden on his back.  Just read the chapter, and it become clear that he feels the weight of his guilt and sin.  Have you ever had a sin that just seems to weigh you down, pressing you by its heaviness, persuading you to habitually comply?

Read Ro 7:15-20. How does Paul feel the weight of his own sin?

2) Pilgrim’s Challengers – As our Pilgrim, whose name is “Christian” heads out, Bible in hand, two characters saddle up next to him: Obstinate andPliable.  How do we see in these two the heart of the world toward the Ancient Journey?  How do we see our hearts exposed in these two character?

Read Mt 13:1-9. Can you find Obstinate and Pliable in these verses?  How do we see the world’s heart in these two characters?

3) Pilgrim’s Close Call – Chapter One concludes with our Pilgrim stuck in the Swamp of Despond.  What makes this swamp so formidable it bogs one down in the overwhelming realization of the sinfulness of sin, the gravity of guilt, and brings one to a place of either having a repentant heart or a recalcitrant heart.  Pliable, fed up with the difficulty of the journey, manages to extricate himself and turns back to the City of Destruction.

Do you ever find yourself neck deep in the Swamp of Despond, confronted by the stench of your sin?  Do you see any “steps” out of the bog?

Look up Ps 40:2. What is promised to us in this verse?

Read Ps 119:50. How does the Bible function this way for you?

Look up Ro 8:1. How does this put the Swamp with all its guilt and accusation into perspective?

“Pliable fakes it until he flakes it.”  How do we see this in Chapter One?

Who has been “Help” to you when you needed to be pulled out of the Swamp?


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beautiful words for Feb 20, 2011

As we continue our study of the attributes of God, we will spend the next couple of classes explaining the goodness of God.  Children pray, “God is great.  God is good.  Let us thank him for this food.”

Sweet.

But, sometimes goodness seems generic, unspecific.  In fact, for some, the very word “good” evokes a certain sense of benign mediocrity.  We use all sorts of superlatives because good isn’t good enough.

We understand goodness only be understanding who God is.  For, he is the summum bonum, or “highest good” there is.  And, he is ours.  The psalmist said, “But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works” (Ps 73:28, ESV).

Charles Spurgeon observes, “When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good; and when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should only the more reverently bless Him that He is good. We must never tolerate an instant’s unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord; whatever else may be questioned, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; His dispensations may vary, but His nature is always the same.”

So, what does it mean that God is good?  Over the next couple of Sundays, we will let the Bible lead us into the multiperspectival goodness of God: goodness simply considered, goodness as patience, kindness, mercy, grace, and faithfulness.

Sounds like just what I need.  What about you?

On this day: 1678

You will recall me saying in this past Sunday’s sermon that the religious establishment of John Bunyan’s day would not indulge his preaching of the gospel.  So, off to Bedford jail Bunyan went (some 50 miles NW of London).  However, they could not restrain him from indulging his imagination.  While in prison he penned a book that would forever change the course of history for generations, a book that has sunk down deep into the consciousness of the people of God.  Google Books declared last August that 129,864,880 books have been published worldwide.  That’s a bunch of books!  The popularity of Bunyan’s book is surpassed in human history only and fittingly by the Bible.  That’s right – the Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress come in at numbers one and two all time, respectively.  And get this – Pilgrim’s Progress was first published on today’s date – February 18th, 1678.  How fitting, then, that here were are now as a church family, getting to ready to take the Ancient Journey together.  Small groups are waiting for you to join in studying Bunyan’s book together.  You ready?  Let’s go!

Colossians: Christ Preeminent & Precious! for Feb 4th, 2011

Tomorrow morning, we will consider what it means to be at home with the gospel.  In other words, what does the reality of the gospel mean for our households, as husbands, wives, and parents.  So, prayerfully read over Col 3:18-25 and we’ll see each other Friday morning at Drew’s, 6:30am.