Welcome to New Loft Chamber...

To all who stumble upon this little blog, I hope you will find something here to encourage you in your travels along the way...something to comfort you, something to help you, something to uplift you.

Jay Bruce

Self-sacrifice brought Christ into the world. And self-sacrifice will lead us, His followers, not way from, but into the midst of men. Wherever men suffer, there will we be to comfort. Wherever men strive, there will we be to help. Wherever men fail, there will we be to uplift. Self-sacrifice means not indifference to our times and our fellows, it means absorption in them. It means forgetfulness of self in others. It means not that we should live one life, but a thousand lives—binding ourselves to a thousand souls by the filaments of so loving a sympathy that their lives become ours. Only when we humbly walk this path, seeking truly in it not our own things but those of others, we shall fined the promise true, that he who loses his life shall find it. Only when, like Christ, and in loving obedience to His call and example, we take no account of ourselves, but freely give ourselves to others, we shall find, each in his measure, the saying true of himself also: 'Wherefore also God hath highly exalted him.' The path of self-sacrifice is the path to glory.”

-- Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, from his sermon Imitating the Incarnation

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Privileges of Trial

It is said that when the stars cannot be seen during the day from the ordinary level of the earth, if one should go down into a dark well, they would be visible at once. And certainly it is a fact that the best of God’s promises are usually seen by His Church when she is in her darkest trials. As sure as ever God puts His children in the furnace, He will be in the furnace with them. I do not read that Jacob saw the angel until he came into a position where he had to wrestle, and then the wrestling Jacob saw the wrestling angel. I do not know that Joshua ever saw the angel of God till he was by Jericho, and then Joshua saw the angelic warrior. I do not know that Abraham ever saw the Lord till he had become a stranger and a wanderer in the plains of Mamre, and then the Lord appeared unto him as a wayfaring man. It is in our most desperate sorrows that we have our happiest experiences. You must go to Patmos to see the revelation. It is only on the barren, storm-girt rock, shut out from all the world’s light, that we can find a fitting darkness in which we can view the light of heaven undistracted by the shadows of earth."

Charles Spurgeon, Gleanings Among the Sheaves

"Thou hast shewed thy people hard things." Ps. 60:3

Heroes are forged on anvils with pain,

And splendid courage comes but with the test.

Some natures ripen and some natures bloom

Only on blood-wet soil, some souls prove great

Only in moments dark with death and doom.

"God gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction." -- Charles Spurgeon, Gleanings Among the Sheaves

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"The Cushion of the Sea"

From Streams in the Desert, daily reading for Oct. 20,
"And the peace of God, which transcends all our powers of thought, will be a garrison to guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:7)
There is what is called the "cushion of the sea." Down beneath the surface that is agitated by storms, and driven about with winds, there is a part of the sea that is never stirred...The peace of God is that eternal calm which, like the cushion of the sea, lief far too deep down to be reached by any external trouble and disturbance; and he who enters into the presence of God, becomes partaker of that undisturbed and undisturbable calm. -- Dr. A. T. Pierson

Streams in the Desert

While recently rummaging though a box of old books I found a little devotional, Streams in the Desert, by Mrs. C. E. Cowman. Inside the book was an inscription to my great grandmother, dated September 10, 1964, which read,

To Mrs. Fowler,
Who has been a big inspiration in my life and I could never show you the appreciation of all the kindness you have bestowed on me during my formative years of growing up---Thanks to you, I had some beautiful clothes to wear--
May God Bless You Richly,
Rachel H.

I knew my great grandmother to be a godly woman. Her simple faith and trust in the Lord and the kindness she showed to those less fortunate than herself casts a long shadow that reaches even now into my own life and thoughts on the purpose of our "callings" -- that being, to glorify God and to love and serve our neighbors.

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?...And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me." (Matt. 25:40, ESV)

On the death of a child

A letter from the pen of Thomas Charles, Minister in Bala, North Wales, Jan. 23, 1788
I write this to you from the house of mourning. My little girl died yesterday, after a twelve months existence in this our world, in almost continual affliction and sorrow. At last death prevailed and separated her from her afflicted body, to meet again, when both the one and the other will be fuller of holiness and felicity than they were here of sin and sorrow. How free was the grace which saved her and took her to glory! It came to her unthought of, unsought for, and undesired. Her sin was taken away without any sorrow for it, hatred towards it, or striving against it. Without any contest she got the victory forever over all the enemies of our souls! Without travelling one step of the wilderness-road, she got safe to Canaan. The grace implanted within her is got to its full growth without the nurture and discipline which others require and are exercised with. Here it was but as seed under-grown; but now it is full-grown and loaded with the richest fruits. Blessed be God for his full salvation! I think myself happy to be the parent of this little vessel of mercy to be filled with eternal glory. "The Lord gave; the Lord hath taken away" -- nothing but his own; "blessed by the name of the Lord!" -- My health has been but indifferent at intervals all this winter; but at present through mercy I am tolerably well. This poor house of clay will be soon in ruins. Blessed be God for a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens! Do not forget me and mine at the throne of mercy. -- T. C.
May the thoughts of this eminent saint comfort you if you have buried a child and know the "house of mourning" spoken of by Charles.
[NB, A Welsh girl named Mary Jones once walked many miles to buy a Bible from Thomas Charles. The great need for Bibles led Charles to help found The British and Foreign Bible Society (now just The Bible Society). Since then The Bible Society has distributed millions of Bibles.]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This is my comfort...

"This is my comfort in all my affliction, that your promise gives me life." Ps. 119:50 (ESV)

Or, as the NASB puts it, "that Thy word has revived me."

Says Matthew Henry of the quickening power of the Word of God,

"If through grace it make us holy, there is enough in it to make us easy, in all conditions, under all events."

So let us take heart today, "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Rom. 15:4 (ESV)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Who Stands Fast?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his Ethics:
"Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God--the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God. Where are these responsible people?"
In thinking through this question, "Who stands fast?" and my own measuring up (or lack thereof), I have found an unlikely example of the man who stands fast in Lot. Lot? Yes, Lot.
If you think about Lot's life, you'll find he is not the model of a faithful sojourner. He doesn't measure up well when he is compared with Abraham. Lot walked more by sight than by faith, and he certainly got much too familiar with the City of Sodom. Yet, for all his faults and foolish ways, he is called "righteous" (see 2 Pet. 2:7-8).
It's sometimes hard for me to relate to Abraham, but not to Lot. I'm a lot like Lot. I'm much too comfortable with our 21st century American culture. But, I am encouraged when I read about Lot taking a stand in Genesis 19. When evil men came knocking on Lot's door, Lot -- "righteous Lot" -- went outside of his home, closed the door behind him, and begged the men not to act so wickedly.
More and more I am coming to see that "evil men" (speaking figuratively of our culture) are knocking on my door. They want me, my wife and my children. May God give daily grace and strength for daily needs, that I might sacrifice all, stand fast...and fight for my son, my daughter, my wife and my home.
"I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken." -- Ps. 16:8

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"My times are in your hands." Ps. 31:15

From Octavius Winslow, Morning Thoughts on Psalm 31:15,

"My times are in your hand."

Let this precious truth divest your mind of all needless, anxious care for the present or the future. Exercising simple faith in God, "Do not be anxious about anything." Learn to be content with your present lot, with God's dealings with, and His disposal of, you. You are just where His providence has, in its inscrutable but all-wise and righteous decision, placed you. It may be a position painful, irksome, trying, but it is right. Oh, yes! it is right. Only aim to glorify Him in it. Wherever you are placed, God has a work for you to do, a purpose through you to be accomplished, in which He blends your happiness with His glory. And, when you have learned the lessons of His love, He will transfer you to another and a wider sphere, for whose nobler duties and higher responsibilities the present is, perhaps, but disciplining and preparing you. Covet, then, to live a life of daily dependence upon God. Oh, it is a sweet and holy life! It saves from many a desponding feeling, from many a corroding care, from many an anxious thought, from many a sleepless night, from many a tearful eye, and from many an imprudent and sinful scheme. Repairing to the "covenant ordered in all things and sure," you may confide children, friends, calling, yourself, to the Lord's care, in the fullest assurance that all their 'times' and yours are in His hand. [Emphasis added.]

What confidence it gives us to know that we may entrust ourselves, our brothers, sons, daughters, wives and homes into the Lord's hand. Great is his grasp; none can snatch from his hands!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Remember the Lord...and fight

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about these words of Nehemiah to his kinsmen who were discouraged in the work of rebuilding Jerusalem because of the opposition and enemies they faced. Here is what Nehemiah said,

"Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes." (Neh. 4:14, Esv)

These words have been a great encouragement to me as I think upon my calling as a husband and father. The opposition and enemies we face today are strong, but the Lord is the Master over them and our families are worth the fight. Consider the commentary of Matthew Henry on the Nehemiah text:"Come," says he, "be not afraid of them, but behave yourselves valiantly, considering, [1.] Whom you fight under. You cannot have a better captain: Remember the Lord, who is great and terrible; you think your enemies great and terrible, but what are they in comparison with God, especially in opposition to him? He is great above them to control them, and will be terrible to them when he comes to reckon with them." Those that with an eye of faith see the church's God to be great and terrible will see the church's enemies to be mean and despicable. The reigning fear of God is the best antidote against the ensnaring fear of man. He that is afraid of a man that shall die forgets the Lord his Maker, (Isa. 51:12-13). [2.] "Whom you fight for. You cannot have a better cause; you fight for your brethren (Ps. 122:8), your sons, and your daughters. All that is dear to you in their world lies at stake; therefore behave yourselves valiantly."

May God give us all grace and strength to fight the good fight of faith...for his glory and the good of our family, friends and neighbors.