Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Ashenden sighed, for the water was no longer quite so hot; he could not reach the tap with his hand nor could he turn it with his toes (as every properly regulated tap should turn) and if he got up enough to add more hot water he might just as well get out altogether. On the other hand he could not pull out the plug with his foot in order to empty the bath and so force himself to get out, nor could he find in himself the will-power to step out of it like a man. He had often heard people tell him that he possessed character and he reflected that people judge hastily in the affairs of life because they judge on insufficient evidence; they had never seen him in a hot, but diminishingly hot, bath...

W. Somerset Maugham, ASHENDEN

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


"...I still remember it was such a significant point in my life. I still remember, Sasse was there, after a lecture, he had a big pile of books--he always carried a big pile of books into lectures, he never opened them, he knew it all by heart, he'd just have them along just in case...
I said, 'Dr. Sasse, do you have a moment?'
And he said [using a low gruff voice], "Yes?" Ah, ah, very abrupt.
'Yes, what do you want Kleinig?'
And I said, 'Ah, look, Dr. Sasse, I've got a spiritual problem."

And Sasse stopped walking, and he faced me, and he lifted his finger and he said,

Monday, April 4, 2011

John Bunyan

From today's TREASURY OF DAILY PRAYER reading:

I find to this day seven abominations in my heart:
1) An inclination to unbelief.
2) Suddenly forgetting the love and mercy that Christ shows us.
3) A leaning to the works of the Law.
4) Wanderings and coldness in prayer.
5) Forgetting to watch for that which I have prayed for.
6) A tendency to murmur because I have no more, and yet a willingness to abuse what I have.
7) I can do none of those things which God commands me, but my corruptions will thrust themselves upon me so that "When I would do good, evil is present with me."
These things I continually see and feel and am afflicted and oppressed with; yet the wisdom of God orders them for my good.
1) They make me abhor myself.
2) They keep me from trusting my heart.
3) They convince me of the insufficiency of all inherent righteousness.
4) They show me the necessity of flying to Jesus.
5) They press me to pray to God.
6) They show me the need I have to watch and be sober.
7) And they provoke me to look to God, through Christ, to help me and carry me though this world.
-John Bunyan
Such an old fashioned geezer, Bunyan. So obviously out of step with modern wisdom and psychology. The guy obviously needed therapy.
And golly, he was so much like me.
It is interesting to me that when we think of God's grace and the work of the Holy Spirit, we naturally think of God's Goodies: his peace, love, charity, salvation. We don't naturally associate the things Bunyan writes about: tentatio, a dying to ourselves, a profound awareness of our sinfulness; our shortcomings. Naturally we flee from these things, or else go into therapy (I've always flinched at the idea personally. I'd rather fix or outwait my own problems, or ignore them altogether). And honestly, this particular spiritual reality does not market well. It isn't on the outreach agenda. Unless you're reading John Kleinig or Senkbeil and their ilk, you have to go back to Bunyan to find it conveyed. And yet, it is a mark of sanctification, or being made holy. Who would have thought that Romans 7 was just about that very thing?