Imagine — curling up on a cold wintry snow blizzard day, with a big cup of tea, in a warm place with a good book. Usually that would conjure up images of a fiction book, but I recommend Iain H. Murray’s biography of J.C. Ryle. The tea and warm place may energize your body, but that fiction book will probably not be as edifying to your soul as “Prepared to Stand Alone” will be.
I am always intrigued and amazed at how God’s saints (biblical definition) stood firm in their faith in spite of the ‘fiery trials.’ The setting of this biography was set in England, during the 1800’s. This is a different time from our day with different challenges, but I was still encouraged that time period and distance did not erase the common faith and challenges I share with those believers from the past. There were two things from this book that resonated in my soul at this particular time in my life
(1) The common faith: “Who does not know that spiritual religion never brings a man the world’s praise? It never has done, and never does. It entails the world’s disapprobation, the world’s persecution, the world’s ridicule, the world’s sneers. The world will let a man go to hell quietly, and never try to stop him. The world will never let a man go to heaven quietly — they will do all they can to turn him back. Who has not heard the nicknames in plenty bestowed on all who faithfully follow Christ? — Pietist, Methodist, saint, fanatic, enthusiast, righteous, overmuch, and many more…” p. 67. This reminded me of Hebrews 12:1.
(2) My own inadequacy as an Elder: “However eloquent or apparently knowledgeable a preacher may be, there will be something seriously lacking the man who is not to be found in the homes of his people. Sermons which only come from the study are not likely to be messages which bind speaker and hearers together in a common bond of affection and sympathy. A preacher must be a visitor and be ready to preach everywhere.” During the two years of his seclusion there he acquired, it can be stated, an entire pastoral knowledge of every man, woman, and child, under his charge.”
May God help us to bring glory to our Lord and Savior
Brian L. Spivey (D.O.C.)