Christian in The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Posted: September 29th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Well,

It has been an interesting week. I will say that If you have never read Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, you should find a copy. This my second time through the book. I read it years ago and am now listening to a reading of it I found online in mp3. For those who have not read it, it is an allegory of a man named Christian and his journey to the Celestial City. I am currently at Part One Stage Five where Christian is walking with his friend Faithful.  I would like to post an excerpt for your “viewing pleasure” from Stage Four, when Christian is walking through The Valley of the Shadow of Death:

About the midst of this valley I perceived the mouth of hell to be, and it stood also hard by the wayside. Now, thought Christian, what shall I do? And ever and anon the flame and smoke would come out in such abundance, with sparks and hideous noises, (things that cared not for Christian’s sword, as did Apollyon before,) that he was forced to put up his sword, and betake himself to another weapon, called All-prayer, (Eph. 6:18); so he cried, in my hearing, O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul (Psalms. 116:4).

Thus he went on a great while, yet still the flames would be reaching towards him; also he heard doleful voices, and rushings to and fro, so that sometimes he thought he should be torn in pieces, or trodden down like mire in the streets. This frightful sight was seen, and these dreadful noises were heard by him for several miles together; and coming to a place where he thought he heard a company of fiends coming forward to meet him, he stopped, and began to muse what he had best to do. Sometimes he had half a thought to go back; then again he thought he might be half-way through the valley. He remembered also, how he had already vanquished many a danger; and that the danger of going back might be much more than for to go forward. So he resolved to go on; yet the fiends seemed to come nearer and nearer. But when they were come even almost at him, he cried out with a most vehement voice, I will walk in the strength of the Lord God. So they gave back, and came no farther.

One thing I would not let slip. I took notice that now poor Christian was so confounded that he did not know his own voice; and thus I perceived it. Just when he was come over against the mouth of the burning pit, one of the wicked ones got behind him, and stepped up softly to him, and whisperingly suggested many grievous blasphemies to him, which he verily thought had proceeded from his own mind. This put Christian more to it than any thing that he met with before, even to think that he should now blaspheme Him that he loved so much before. Yet if he could have helped it, he would not have done it; but he had not the discretion either to stop his ears, or to know from whence these blasphemies came.

When Christian had traveled in this disconsolate condition some considerable time, he thought he heard the voice of a man, as going before him, saying, Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. (Psa. 23:4). Then was he glad, and that for these reasons:

First, Because he gathered from thence, that some who feared God were in this valley as well as himself.
Secondly, For that he perceived God was with them, though in that dark and dismal state. And why not, thought he, with me? though by reason of the impediment that attends this place, I cannot perceive it. (Job 9:11).
Thirdly, For that he hoped (could he overtake them) to have company by and by.

So he went on, and called to him that was before; but he knew not what to answer, for that he also thought himself to be alone. And by and by the day broke: then said Christian, “He hath turned the shadow of death into the morning.” (Amos 5:8).

Now morning being come, he looked back, not out of desire to return, but to see, by the light of the day, what hazards he had gone through in the dark. So he saw more perfectly the ditch that was on the one hand, and the quag that was on the other; also how narrow the way was which led betwixt them both. Also now he saw the hobgoblins, and satyrs, and dragons of the pit, but all afar off; for after break of day they came not nigh; yet they were discovered to him, according to that which is written, He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death (Job 12:22).

Enough said.

- mooney


Faith as a Mustard Seed

Posted: September 24th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

I read something interesting about the whole “faith of a mustard seed” thing. I have heard many different arguments on faith, the power of faith, moving literal and/or spiritual mountains, etc and this is not to start an argument, just maybe a different perspective not seen before.   So here we go…

Mustard Seed

Mustard Seed

Most people take Matthew 17:20, “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” And again in Luke 17:6, And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” and interpret this way. If I have even just a tiny bit of faith, as small as a mustard seed, then these things are available to me; but maybe that is not what it is saying.  See, the only other time that mustard seeds are mentioned in the Bible is in parallel passages referring to the Kingdom of God:

Matthew 13:31-32Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”

Mark 4:30-32 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.

Luke 13:18-19 Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.

Mustard Tree

Mustard Tree

Obviously these are the same story as accounted in the different gospels, but they reveal something. They are not talking about the size of the mustard seed, but the uniqueness of such a tiny herbal seed and how it grows. I did a little studying on mustard and here are what I believe Jesus was talking about.

The mustard plant has is one of the smallest seeds that are planted by farmers (obviously not the smallest seed of any plant) at 1/8 inch in diameter. The mustard seed, once planted, begins (noticeably) to grow the very next day. In fact it is one of the quickest maturing plants around reaching full maturity in about 40 days.

I believe that God used this plant as an example of our faith in that once we receive Christ, our faith begins to grow immediately. The number forty in the Bible points to tribulation or trials (Israel in the wilderness for 40 years) which would speak of a definite maturing process for our faith (part of growth and maturity come from overcoming trials in our life).  When mature, the mustard plant is much larger than any of  the other herbs which could speak to our faith having the potential to grow beyond that of others.

So “faith as a mustard seed” to move mountains I believe refers not to just a little faith can move a mountain, but rather that a faith that is growing and maturing, though it started with a small beginning, will give you the ability to move mountains (overcome trials).

Please leave your thoughts.

- mooney


Our new baby has arrived!

Posted: September 10th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Hey everyone!

Beth and I had our baby girl Monday! her name is Lillee Sue. For all the ladies out there, she was 8lb 4oz and 20.5in long; for all the guys, ten finger, ten toes. Hopefully she will be coming home from the hospital today. I love you babe! you have beautiful babies!

Peace,

- chris mooney