Scripture Saturation Project - Piety Run amok?

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by RBachman, Jan 18, 2018.

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  1. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    I have been increasing my level of scripture reading, praying and memorization in response to the realization that my sanctification, such as it was, had slipped ... a lot. WCF 18 IV was particularly convicting in this regard due to my personal situation (lost my job, again, my small business is failing, etc.).

    I have been considering taking a year and concentrating most of my spare / leisure time on Scripture. Basically only reading the Bible, the Confession & catechisms, and possibly some commentaries, along with massive scripture memorization efforts.

    In short I am proposing a personal fast from all secular media inputs (including news sites, TV, radio): A season of saturating my mind in God's word for a year. I have been doing an experiment along this line since Thanksgiving, but have not made it a pledged thing as of yet. It has been making a real difference. BUT, I am afraid of hyper-pietism. That is a trap I have fallen into before (although it was many years ago).

    I am interested in your thoughts, personal experience, counsel, and what warnings the Puritan / Reformed Fathers might have on what to include/exclude, and how long to do this for.

    Possible inclusions: Bible, Confession, Commentaries, Sermon/teaching podcasts(?), scripture & catechism memorization.

    Exclusions: all secular reading, both fact and fiction, news, sports (including Astros Baseball - which will be hard), TV, movies, and secular radio.
  2. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Sounds like a wonderful plan as long as you don't get prideful about it.
  3. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    Do you think not telling anyone would be enough (except this group!) or can you think of some fences I could put in place to guard against pride? At the moment I feel lower than Jacob’s worm so pride seems a long way off.
  4. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I am not sure. Only you could assess that (maybe, even this is not sure since pride sneaks up on us all). I have known folks who have given up the tv and make a big deal of it. What you are doing sounds like a great plan to become more centered on the word.

    When I was pushing through Scripture to finish it in a short time, I found I learned less from it. I found that if I went slower and employed commentaries that I learned much more.

    I would also suggest audiobook bibles to listen to while hiking in solitude. That has blessed me much. Hearing the bible read when one is used to only reading it opens up new thoughts and makes one understand the flow of the books a bit better. Even listening to the same chapters several times over before moving on. This also has the advantage of getting you in shape if you do your listening while walking.

    Here is 82 hours of KJV read by Max Mclean:
  5. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks. I am an avid podcast listener. While they are very edifying (all are Christian) I like the idea of just listening to the Bible instead. I may try that and see. I don’t want to just zone out while listening, so it should be a good exercise to see if I can stay focused
  6. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    The corporate means of grace are the most important thing you need to coordinate with you private means of grace. If I were you, I would make a special effort to read, meditate, and study the passages for the morning and evening sermons. Pray, pray, and pray some more for your pastor and the Sunday sermons, that the Lord will speak to you through them, and through the Lord’s Supper. Pray that the Lord will continue to improve your baptism. Do not focus so entirely on the private means of grace that you forget to privilege the public. I firmly believe that many Christians fail to grow because they fail to prepare for receiving the sermon, and they fail afterwards in seeking to remember and fructify it in their lives. Read the WLC on how to conduct oneself before, during, and after the Word and sacraments, and make a special effort to do that.
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  7. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    thank you for the thoughtful response. I will do as you suggest. It is a bit odd however, since we currently are 'pastor-less' with each Sunday being a different guest pastor. So typically I don't know what passage will be in view. I will check and see when/who is preaching and see if I can find out ahead of time. You mentioned two things that may be worth exploring further: fructify, and improve my baptism. While I do pray for my church and special needs daily, and do participate in some of the public ministries (choir, Sunday School, small group), I am interested in other areas and ways to apply these two things you mentioned. Thanks again, Randy
  8. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    With a different pastor each time, probably the best you will be able to do (although the secretary can be a great help in getting you the passages ahead of time) is to focus on praying ahead of time that God will make the Word fruitful, and then praying and meditating over the passage and the sermon afterward (always a great Sunday afternoon activity) in order to stretch its application to every possible corner of your life.
  9. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member


    Q. 160. What is required of those that hear the Word preached?

    A. It is required of those that hear the Word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence,[1034] preparation,[1035] and prayer;[1036] examine what they hear by the Scriptures;[1037] receive the truth with faith,[1038] love,[1039] meekness,[1040] and readiness of mind,[1041] as the Word of God;[1042] meditate,[1043] and confer of it;[1044] hide it in their hearts,[1045] and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives[1046].

    Q. 167. How is our baptism to be improved by us?

    A. The needful but much neglected duty of improving our baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others;[1068] by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein;[1069] by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements;[1070] by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament;[1071] by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace;[1072] and by endeavoring to live by faith,[1073] to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness,[1074] as those that have therein given up their names to Christ;[1075] and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.[1076]

    Q. 171. How are they that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s supper to prepare themselves before they come unto it?

    A. They that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s supper are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves[1088] of their being in Christ,[1089] of their sins and wants;[1090] of the truth and measure of their knowledge,[1091] faith,[1092] repentance;[1093] love to God and the brethren,[1094] charity to all men,[1095] forgiving those that have done them wrong;[1096] of their desires after Christ,[1097] and of their new obedience;[1098] and by renewing the exercise of these graces,[1099] by serious meditation,[1100] and fervent prayer.[1101]
  10. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    Excellent! I will have to add a thorough reading of the WLC to my to-do list. We'll be posting our job ad for a new pastor soon. It looks like you might be looking for a call. Contact me on PM if interested!
  11. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    If that doesn't violate forum rules.
  12. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

    I love the emphasis on the WLC here. In my humble opinion the WLC has been under utilised in the church. If it is of help, I have found Vos' commentary on the WLC to be a blessing.
  13. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    I would urge you to be careful not to become "monkish"--they thought that separation from the routines of most people's normal daily life, and in some cases asceticism or hermit-hood would somehow aid in their sanctification. Didn't always work....
    God has given us all things (legitimate ones, of course) freely to enjoy, and Paul warns against returning to rudiments that have a show of wisdom in the neglecting of the body. Why not simply immerse yourself in the scripture and in prayer without making vows about it? And then when you become weary of too much study you need not break any vow when you pick up a novel or watch a video or whatever.
    I'm dreadfully afraid of gratuitous vows: to me it seems like asking for trouble. All of a sudden a dozen legitimate things suddenly become wrong because you vowed not to do them! If you cannot exercise virtue without a vow, no amount of vowing will make it easier--but you put yourself under greater obligation.
  14. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    I appreciate the words of caution, Brother. I sometimes long for a monkish existance, but I don’t make a habit of it :).

    I think the pledge language was probably inappropriate. I was not planning a formal oath, and I wasn’t planning on shaving my head and being a Nazarite either. But your point is sound, so I may just make it a soft goal.

    Thank you all for your input.
  15. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    I notice you live in Houston. I almost never watch regular TV programming with the exception of hurricane and blizzard coverage, at which point I can watch for hours. Surely you watched news before Harvey? I also was glued to the TV and internet after the Indonesian tsunami ( 2004?) and Japanese tsunami (2011). I prayed a lot for the people caught in devastation. So I think your plan sounds wonderful and edifying, but don't be too rigid. Events may happen that deserve at least a little attention.
  16. Von

    Von Puritan Board Freshman

    Is your small business still running? Are you planning on finding/looking for a job during this year?
  17. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    Still operating, but is not making money and could fail soon. The lord gave me a job last year, but then the company closed and i was released a few weeks ago. So I have started the search again. It is a trying time, a testing time, and I am praying for a miracle - anything less will be ruin. But I am also looking to Lord to sustain my family and I should ruin be his plan. It is an interesting thing to contemplate: sometimes there is no happy ending this side of heaven, can our faith grow in the face of that reality?
  18. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    Agreed. While we have had our share of epic disasters, the Astros won the World Series, there is that!
  19. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    Brother, this is distinctly not Reformed/Confessional thinking. I hope that your language here is merely careless. As is, you not only are seeking a "miracle" (something outside of God's ordinary providence), but virtually demanding such, since its absence will spell, as you see it, your ruin. Please rethink this and talk to your pastor/elders about such a viewpoint.

    There are other hints of sub-confessional thinking in your posts (as Ben noted respecting vows; also your statement about "pride seems a long way off") and I would heartily encourage you, as did Lane, to pay the most careful attention to the administration of the public means of grace and to let all your private and secret uses of such be in support of and fortify your public exercises.

    May the Lord bless you as you seek to employ the means to die more and more to sin and to live more and more to righteousness. Remember always that Jesus paid it all: the means of grace are meant to prompt us to come to rest more and more in Him and Him alone. It's not about you, but Him and your life in Him (Gal. 2:20).

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  20. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for your thoughtful and frankly lovingly firm response. I you were not afraid to confront my sin, bad habits, etc. with admonishments.

    As to miracle... My elder and I at first felt that your miracle comment was a tad bit estreme, since it was just 'a common turn of phrase', and not intended to be taken literally. We agreed that there are more appropriate terms I should have used as a reformed confessional cessationist. But while thinking about this further I did conclude that deep in my heart I really was praying for a miracle - not in a good way. So I repented of this, and I thank you for saying something.

    As to pride... I will leave this one for now because I don't see it as a threat at the moment. But that doesn't mean it won't be later.

    As to the means of grace... Due to our lack of a full-time pastor I went into the Sermon Sunday without knowing the text (although I made the effort to try since you all recommended it). But the guest pastor preached from a text I had just finished a week ago, so it was very familiar. The sermon was thorough, challenging, and very much the kind of strong godly admonishment that I needed. I was even able to talk with several folks afterwards about it, including my wife - which is unusual. In reading the WLC portions recommended, I am very excited about practicing this discipline with more regularity.

    It's not about you, but about Him... I think that this last statement will become my meditation for a bit. Putting myself in perspective as God's servant, to be used as necessary, and with confidence, to trust in Him alone not matter what my situation, is the only goal.

    I do appreciate your words, and I appreciate the comments all of you have made to this post and to the many others. And I praise God that this board exists and that you are all participating.

    And I have enjoyed your podcasts when I have run across them.

  21. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    I appreciate your thoughtful and gracious reply, brother. I could speak to a number of things but allow me to say a bit more about pride.

    Pride always lurks, especially as we purpose and endeavor to walk more closely with Him. Pride is any measure of trusting in our spiritual exercises, looking to even our religious devotion, rather than to Him alone; it's any resting in the means of grace when we must rest only in Him who is the end of all the means.

    The closer I walk to Him, the more pride I see: in coming closer to the light, I see how vile and unclean I am. Think of how Isaiah (chapter 6) saw himself in the throne room vision. We are either always dying to pride or succumbing to it. I fear that if you think "it's not a threat at the moment" you are really missing the play that it has in your life and are giving way to it ("I am not proud" is a form of pride; it's simply self-deception).

    The truth is, at any given moment, in my flesh, I am enormously proud; I am the closest to humility when I most keenly realize how proud I am and seek to die to it. May God give you the grace to see this about yourself in newer and deeper ways. That's true piety and the only kind that you should want.

  22. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    Even if you don't know the text or the particular minister preaching it, God uses His means....and that powerfully. Submit yourself to them. Pray for whoever is preaching the next day, get a good nights sleep, and come to worship with anticipation of meeting with and hearing authoritatively from the King.

    As Alan has noted; pride is always lurking. The gospel puts these things to death as it removes the self-reliance and draws our attention to Christ. My behavior, thoughts and deeds are forever fickle, mutating and thoroughly mixed with unrighteousness, but sinners like us come..... to hear from the King and to see the love of a Father to His dearly purchased kids........
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