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The Tender Heart of the Mother

For your encouragement in anticipation of Mothers’ Day, the following are the reflections of D. S. Faris on his mother Nancy Faris (1806-1881) upon her death. Earlier this week, this article highlighted her husband. In a biographical sketch, her son wrote of her life, including her industrious nature and business savvy; these selected paragraphs sample his praise for her motherly virtue. She raised seven sons and one daughter in the fear and admonition of the Lord. May the Lord continue to raise up such mothers:

Her talk to the children was from the heart to the heart. Besides teaching them the catechisms she gave them practical lessons about heaven, hell, God and Christ, justification and good works. From her lips I first learned the sinfulness of sin, and that self-righteousness will not justify.

It is the mother that makes the coming man. Her husband may be the pattern, but she does the molding and finishing. So long as there are sterling mothers, we can be sure of the coming generation. But the decay of womanly virtue brings the wreck of morality and manhood. It may be that woman did her best when she contented herself with giving to the world sons and daughters brought […]

That Last Old Testament Verse

Often home schooling advocates and family ministry speakers quote the last verse of the Old Testament.  Malachi 4:6 brings the Old Testament to its conclusion with this promise about life in the age of Christ: “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” Clearly, calling people to claim a Scriptural promise that Christ’s ministry will restore healthy relationships between parents and children is a beautiful hope to offer them.

However, though that might be a possible application of this verse, it is not the proper interpretation of it.

In their classic commentary on the Old Testament, Keil & Delitsch state the following:

The meaning of this is not that he will settle disputes in families, or restore peace between parents and children; for the leading sin of the nation at the time of our prophet was not family quarrels, but estrangement from God. The fathers are rather the ancestors of the Israelite(ish) nation, the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), and generally the pious forefathers, such as David and the godly men of his time. The sons or children are the degenerate descendants of Malachi’s own time and the succeeding ages.”

They go on to explain that […]

A Garden Afar

Over vales and fields,

lies a garden afar.

The beauty of its three flowers

call to me.

So I travel winding road 

for a day to gaze upon,

to joy in,

and to learn from them.

~~~~~

The first, a bright crocus, 

puts springtime delight 

in a heart shivering over 

her wintry surroundings.

As I bow to smell 

her playful fragrance,

and feel chubby, little petals against my cheek,

I wonder how one so small

– and too far away –

can put such great love

in a grandfather’s heart?

~~~~~

My next flower is a bold tulip –

how colorful, grace-filled, and statuesque she stands!

The snows melt away

before her charming aroma,

her radiant joy,

and the musical glory of springtime

she sends forth heavenward.

The father longs for the times

his tulip was in garden near;

yet gives thanks that Another

cares for her so well.

~~~~~

The last flower, a fading red rose,

has drooping head

and slowly dropping petals.

The cruel winter

has been so […]

Brothers, Love Your Sisters

With so much talk of brotherly love in the Scriptures, it is sad that there are too few expressions of it witnessed in familial life. Especially in brothers loving their sisters.  Often it seems that brothers are too busy for sisters and bothered with their interests. With so many young ladies looking for attention in all the wrong places these days, you wonder how different things would be if brothers simply loved their sisters.

Yet that raises the question.  Brother, how do you love your sister?  Here are five simple encouragements.

Listen to her. As my own family of three boys and three girls grew, with the genders alternating boy-girl-boy-girl-boy-girl, each brother had a younger sister looking up to him.  I noticed every day that the younger sister wanted to talk and tell the older brother what was going on in the home, in her thoughts, in our lives.  Brother, you can learn to love your sister by putting down the ball or turning away from the screen for a few minutes, looking your sister in the eyes, and listening to what she is wanting to tell you.  Let her know that when she needs to talk to someone, you will be one person that will […]

What Has Love Got to Do With It?

When John writes, ‘Beloved, let us love one another’, what does he mean, and does it matter?  Is it not a bit liberal to be writing about love on a Reformation blog post.  Surely we are about ‘Doctrine, Truth, Discipline, Stewardship etc.’   Well, yes we are, but God says, if we don’t get what love is and do it, we are sunk, regardless of how outwardly correct we may appear to be.

What does John mean when he says, ‘Let us love one another?’   Well we need to begin with a definition of love?  We can’t take the Humpty Dumpty route who, when having a discussion with Alice about the meaning of words says, “when I use a word, it means what I choose it to mean, nothing more or nothing less.”  Love can’t be a word that we use and abuse dependent on what we want it to mean, or who we want it to influence or effect.

So what does ‘love’ mean?  Well there is a very simple and clear definition of ‘love’.  It is found in the root source of ‘love’.  Trace ‘love’ to its source, and there you will find God, for God is love.  ‘Love’ is neither an attribute […]

What If I Don’t Think My Spouse is a Christian?

The Bible is clear that a Christian should only marry a Christian. We gather that from where the Lord warned the people of Israel not to “make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst” (Exodus 34:12). Also, Paul instructs us not to be “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14), and he reminds the widow that she is “free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). Certainly this wasn’t intended to squash our love life, but it’s intended by God for our good. I can remember someone once telling me about their non-Christian spouse, how exceedingly sorrowful it was to wake up every morning next to a spiritual corpse. Indeed, I can think of few things more burdensome in this life than to be unequally yoked–to marry someone who doesn’t share convictions on truth, life, and eternity.

But I’ve also encountered people who thought they were marrying a Christian only to wonder, sometime later, if they’d been mistaken. From my limited experience this isn’t as uncommon as we might think. As we slip into the day-to-day routine of life, share in […]

The Inevitable End of Abortion as We Know It

Though it is difficult even to report or give a link to it, last week a mother in New Jersey set her newborn child on fire and left her in the middle of a road.  A neighbor who witnessed it rightly called it a “nightmare.”  Those who are reporting on it are calling it “disturbing” and “shaking the community.”  Residents have begun to assemble a makeshift memorial to the baby girl.

Sadly, so few see that this very scene is happening 4000 times a day in communities all across our land.  Mothers, with either the support of or acting out of the neglect from the fathers, are burning or cutting their little boys and girls to death.  Yet because it happens in the womb instead of a few minutes after birth, far too many people in our land do not recognize the nightmare all around us.

So it is vital as we enter this week of the forty-second anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that we continue to erect a memorial to this tragedy so that this disturbing practice will be brought to an end.  I believe that one day it inevitably will be.

A number of years ago, I heard Dr. Rich […]

Just Doing His Job…

On this morning in which much of the world is celebrating Christmas in one way or another, I know how my friends at the Cairn Farm in Coleraine, Northern Ireland are spending it. At around 4:30 AM their time, they got up, just as they do every day, and went out in the pitch blackness to milk and then feed their cows. The process took them around 3 hours – perhaps longer today because they will have given most of their employees the day off to be with their families. My friends will steal some time with their own family during the day before returning to the barn at around 4:00 PM to repeat the milking and feeding process all over again.

Milking cows can be dirty work, but it needs to be done – twice a day every, single day of the year. There are no exceptions. This is the type of responsibility that most people want no part of – it is simply too demanding and it requires too many sacrifices to be responsible for hundreds of animals, which need daily care.

Driving back with one of these farmer friends, an elder in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Northern Ireland, […]

Alle Meine Quellen Sind in Dir

This woodcarving hangs above the hallway in our home.  Quite often, guests inquire about what it means.  Rather than directly translate, I tell them the painful but sweet short story behind it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My wife’s maternal great-grandparents, the Hellings, lived in Germany.  Opa Helling was a baker there.  After having new mechanized equipment installed in the bakery, presumably an automated dough mixing machine, he called for his wife to come in to watch the new process.

As the machinery began, his wife bent over to get a closer look.  As she did, her long hair fell down into the gears. Before anything could be done, horribly the machine pulled a large section of her scalp away. One can only imagine the horror of the joy and pride of that moment turning so quickly to pain and suffering.

Making matters worse, Oma Helling was a diabetic. Her wound never healed. For the rest of her life, she had a metal plate that covered the wound.  In a family picture we have of her, she reminds us so much of Miriam’s grandmother and mom. She is looking down as she busily works with her […]

For Your Thanksgiving Day Table

If you are looking to read one of the old American Thanksgiving Day proclamations around your table this year, here is the 1781 proclamation by Thomas McKean, President of the Congress of the United States.

Remember that this proclamation was issued a week after Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown. Notice the detailed list of specific reasons for thanks to God – if you had to make a similar list for our nation this year, what would you include?

President Obama usually issues his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation on Thursday; you will find it at www.whitehouse.gov.

 —

By the United States, in Congress
Assembled.

PROCLAMATION.

Whereas it hath pleased Almighty God, the Father of Mercies, remarkably to assist and support the United States of America in their important struggle for liberty against the long-continued efforts of a powerful nation, it is the duty of all ranks to observe and thankfully acknowledge the interpositions of his Providence in their behalf; – Through the whole of the contest from its first rise to this time the influence of Divine Providence may be clearly perceived in many signal instances, of which we mention but a few: –

In revealing the counsels of our enemies, when the discoveries were seasonable and […]