Sunday, December 31, 2006

Skilful engine of torture

I’m reading a book called “The Most Famous Man in America” the biography of Henry Ward Beecher by Debby Applegate. Henry grew up in a very strict and severe home, and as I read about it I find myself wanting to run to his rescue.
Let me quote a pharagraph or two.

“Adding to the physical hardships of life in the Beecher household was the heavy weight of orthodox religion. Every day began and ended with family prayers, Bible reading, and hymn singing. Every child past seven attended a heavy schedule of prayer meetings, lectures, and religious sevices in the drafty meeting house, as well as regular religious instruction at school. Undue frivolity was discouraged, so they did not celebrate Christmas or birthdays. Dancing, theater, and all but the most high-toned ficton were forbidden. Sundays were spent in quiet contemeplation---
a special torment for fidgety children.
But this sour picture tells only half the story. Although the Beechers were plain and pious, they were not stuffy or stodgy. They brimmed with high spirits, quick enthusiasm, and an almost eccentric disregard for social conventions. “There is” as Lyman’s youngest daughter noted, “ the strangest and most interesting combination in our family of fun and seriousness.”
Lyman, the father, was truly a rare father. Impulsive and emotional, he was blessed with a “passionate love of children,” as Catharine, the oldest put it, treating his children with “all the tenderness of a mother and the untiring activity and devotedness of a nurse, father and friend. He loved to romp with the kids, and had a knack for making hard work fun--- telling stories as they peeled apples on autumn evenings, making a game out of stacking firewood, and leading them on expeditions into the woods to pick berries or collect nuts or catch fish.”

When I read that I thought that his good nature and love towards the kids would surely balance out the severity of doctrine. But it did not. To a child, they all suffered feeling unworthy and never knowing if God really loved them or if they would be damned.

“The burden of original sin was compounded by the capriciousness of salvation. In the Calvinist universe of the day, salvation was considered a supernatural act, a testament to God’s sovereignty and mercy, not merely a reward for good behavior.
So how would a person know if he or she had been saved? Of course no one could be certain of their fate until they caught sight of the pealy gates, but revivalists like Lyman Beecher believed that the saving grace of God would descend like a lightning bolt, in a moment of intense visceral revelation. If you did not experience the anguish and the crisis, if God did not choose to make you one of his special “elect” then it didn’t matter how good or faithful you had been, chances were you were going to hell. A famous jingle neatly captured the paradox:

You can and you can’t
You shall and you shan’t;
You will and you won’t
You’re damned if you do,
And damned if you don’t.

“Thus was this system calculated, like a skilful engine of torture,” Harriet, one of the daughters, concluded, “to produce all the mental anguish of the most perfect sense of helplessness with the most torturing sense of responsibility.”

When I read the last lines about the skilful engine of torture producing helplessness and responisbility, my heart just bled for those in a belief system like that.
The circumstances of my salvation; where I was in the world and God came into it through secular music and drew me out by opening the word to me, has always caused me to see Christ as my rescuer, and I have had a sense of security all my Christian life. In Hannah Hurnard’s book Hinds’ Feet On High Places, there is a familiar passage that describes my concept of God, I’ll begin the quote where Much-Afraid has been decieved by Pride who has her in his grip saying –

“Come back, Much-afraid,” Pride urged vehemently. “Give it up before it is too late. In your heart of hearts you know that what I am saying is true and that you will be put to shame before everybody. Give it up while there is still time. Is a merely fictitious promise of living on the High Places worth the cost you are asked to pay for it? What is it that you seek there in that mythological Kingdom above?
Entirely against her will, and simply because he seemed to have her at his mercy, Much-Afraid let the words be dragged out of her. “I am seeking the Kingdom of Love,” she said faintly.
“I thought as much,” sneered Pride. “Seeking your heart’s desire, eh? And now, Much-Afraid, have a little pride, ask yourself honestly, are you not so ugly and deformed that nobody even in the Valley really loves you? That is the brutal truth.
Then how much less will you be welcomed in the Kingdom of Love, where they say nothing but unblemished beauty and perfection is admitted? Can you really expect to find what you are seeking; no, I tell you again that you feel this yourself and you know it. Then be honest at least and give it up. Turn back with me before it is too late.
Poor Much-Afraid! The urge to turn back seemed almost irresistible, but at that moment when she stood held in the clutch of Pride, feeling as though every word he spoke was the hideous truth, she had an inner vision of the face of the Shepherd. She remembered the look with which he had promised her, “ I pledge myself to bring you there, and that you shall not be put to shame.” Then it was as though she heard him again, repeating softly, as though looking at some radiant vision in the distance:

Behold, thou art fair, my love; thou hast dove’s eyes.
Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee.

Before Pride could realize what was happening, Much-Afraid uttered a desperate cry for help and was calling up the mountain.

“Come to me, Shepherd! Come quickly! Make no tarrying, O my Lord.”

There was a sound of loose rattling stones and of a prodigous leap, and the next moment the Shepherd was on the path beside them, his face terrible to look at, his Shepherd’s staff raised high above his head.
Only one blow fell, and then Pride dropped the hand he had been grasping so tightly and made off down the path and round the corner, slipping and stumbling on the stones as he went, and was out of sight in a moment.

So, in Much-afraids temptation she was confronted with the same issue as the Beecher’s --
“Are you not so ugly and deformed that nobody even in the Valley really loves you?”
Of course the answer is yes, but in the Shepherd’s eyes we are “altogether fair and there is no spot in thee.”

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Disappointed anointed

I am somewhat reluctant to post the following poem; It is an old poem and many have read it before, at least in part. I believe it contains a lot of truth, and I think anyone that has experienced thirty or forty years of life can attest to the truths. But I also believe His yoke is easy and His burden is light. So finding the balance between, what seem to be, contradicting truths made me think for a while.
I’ll summarize it by saying that the poem spans years, and when you lay out all the Lord brings us to in one poem, it seems overwhelming. And it would be, if we had to deal with it all at one time; but we don’t.
He meets out test and challenge as we can handle it and as we need it, always to the end of being more Christ like.
Much of the difficulty we face is our own stubbornness, and our unwillingness to submit to God’s ways. But I think there is another piece and that is the tenderizing of our hearts. Without experiencing losses in our life we seem to lack an important sensitivity to the needs of others. The following crudely illustrates the point--

“It would seem that, as some flowers need to be crushed before they will give forth all their perfumes, and as the goldfinch is said to sing the most sweetly
when a hot needle is thrust into its eye, so pain and anguish are the conditions of some men’s success, without which it is impossible to evoke the most brilliant displays of their genius.
It was a shrewd remark, therefore, which a great musician once made concerning a promising but passionless cantatrice: “She sings well, but she lacks something, and in that something, everything. If I were single, I would court her; I would marry her; I would maltreat her; I would break her heart; and in six months she would be the greatest singer in Europe.”

I don’t like the concept but there is no denying in my own life, the difficulties and losses have created an attractive scar.

The poem is long, but so is the process.

When Nature Wants a Man

When Nature wants to drill a man
And thrill a man,
When Nature wants to mould a man
To play the noblest part;
When she yearns with all her heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall praise –
Watch her method, watch her ways!
How she ruthlessly perfects
Whom she royally elects;
How she hammers him and hurts him
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which only Nature
Understands –
While his tortured heart is crying and he lifts
Beseeching hands! –
How she bends, but never breaks,
When his good she undertakes…..
How she uses who she chooses
And with every purpose fuses him,
By every art induces him
To try his splendor out –
Nature knows what she’s about.

When Nature wants to take a man
And shake a man
And wake a man;
When Nature wants to make a man
To do the Futures will;
When she tries with all her skill
And she yearns with all her soul
To create him large and whole….
With what cunning she prepares him!
How she goads and never spares him,
How she whets him and she frets him
And in poverty begets him….
How she often disappoints
Whom she sacredly anoints.
With what wisdom she will hide him,
Never minding what betide him,
Though his genius sob with slighting and his
Pride may not forget!
Bids him struggle harder yet.
Makes him lonely
So that only
God’s high messages shall reach him
So that she may surely teach him
What the Hierarchy planned.
Though he may not understand
Gives him passions to command –
How remorselessly she spurs him,
With terrific ardor stirs him
When she poignantly prefers him!

When Nature wants to name a man
And fame a man
And tame a man;
When Nature wants to shame a man
To do his heavenly best…
When she tries the highest test
That her reckoning may bring –
When she wants a god or king! --
How she reigns him and restrains him
So his body scarce contains him
While she fires him
And inspires him!
Keeps him yearning, ever burning for a
Tantalizing goal ---
Lures and lacerates his soul
Sets a challenge for his spirit,
Draws it higher when he’s near it –
Makes a jungle, that he clear it;
Makes a desert, that he fear it
And subdue it if he can –
So doth Nature make a man,
Then, to test his spirit’s wrath
Hurls a mountain in his path –
Puts a bitter choice before him
And relentless stands o’er him.
“Climb, or perish!” so she says…..
watch her purpose, watch her ways!

Nature’s plan is wondrous kind
Could we understand her mind…
Fools are they who call her blind.
When his feet are torn and bleeding
Yet his spirit mounts unheeding,
All his higher powers speeding
Blazing newer paths and fine;
When the force that is divine
Leaps to challenge every failure and his ardor
Still is sweet
And love and hope are burning in the presence
Of defeat ……
Lo, the crisis! Lo, the shout
That must call the leader out.
When the people need salvation
Doth he come to lead the nation ….
Then doth Nature show her plan
When the world has found ---- a man!
Angela Morgan.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Lorraine fell today;
She turned to grasp her walker,
lost her balance
And Lorraine fell today.

Lorraine is known to few;
Another resident in a nursing home,
White haired, simple dress,
She shuffles down to hear us sing,
To hear us speak of Jesus.

When we leave, with an earnest gaze
And a warm hand she says--,
“I’m sure glad you came,
It means so much to us.”
Those simple words
Reach deep within me.
I believe she means it.
And Lorraine fell today.

They called the nurse,
A woman in her late sixties,
She knelt beside Lorraine
And first, eased her embarrassment.
So gentle, so sincere;
Her warmth immediately took me,
The ease in which she comforted Lorraine.
As Lorraine was comforted she began a
protocol of systematic questions.
Not as a nurse, but rather as a close friend.
Affection and admiration rose in me
As I watched nursing at its finest.

I know what a fall can mean;
the loss of mobility.
I was overcome by sadness at the thought.
I want her to remain strong.

But Lorraine fell today.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Good Movies

It has been said, sometimes the greatest discoveries are those lost from the past; so I am going to suggest two movies from the past that are must sees. First, for the whole family is Fiddler on the Roof. This classic from thirty years ago, tells the story of a jewish family and their struggles from oppression as well as the timeless struggles with family. The version with Isaac Stern as the soloist is the original and the one to rent.

The Second film I recommend as a teaching tool against drug use. The version of Jeckel and Hyde starring Spencer Tracy. If you have children ages 11 up, this film, although not a film about drug use, the parallel is so obvious that with a brief introduction by you to your child, they will see the parallel easily. In addition, Ingrid Bergman plays a woman caught in an oppressive relationship that she should end, but as so many women that become victims do, she allows it to go on, to her harm. You have to trust me on this, it is an invaluable tool covering two difficult issues to impress your children with and this makes it so easy.

Bastards blessed

The following is a bit difficult to follow, and the antiquated language unusual, but the message is well worth the struggle.

But should not a godly, gracious man be fully grieved and humbled for his sin?
Grieved, humbled for his sin? Yes, surely. Though the Lord, through the overruling hand of His Grace, works never so much good out of my sin unto me, yet I am to be humbled for it, and the rather to be humbled for it, because He works good out of it.
I have read of the mother of those three learned men, Peter Lombard, Francis Gratian, and Peter Comestor, the three great pillars of the Roman Church (for Lombard wrote the “Sentences”, and Gratian the “Popish Decretals,” and Comestor the “Historia Scholastica”), that when she lay on her death-bed, the priest came unto her, and called upon her for repentance for her whoredoms, for these three, Lombard, Gratian and Comestor, were her bastards, as the popish writers themselves confess in their writings. He told her that she must be greatly afflicted, grieved and humbled for her uncleanness, or else she could not be saved. “Why,” said she, “I confess, indeed, that whoredome and uncleanness is a great sin, but considering what a great deal of good has come to the church of God by my sin, that three such great lights have been brought forth into the world by my sin, I cannot, I will not repent.” And thus it is with many poor ignorant souls. When they see how the Lord by His over ruling hand works good unto them out of their sin, as some outward blessings and mercies, they do not repent of their sin, but rather justify themselves in their sins.
But now take a godly man, a gracious soul; the more he sees the Lord working good out of his sin, the more he is humbled for it; and upon that very ground, because God works good of it, therefore he is humbled the more.”
William Bridge – A Lifting Up For The Downcast.

Having gone through a divorce and having seen the sorrow and difficulties it caused my sons, this piece is so relevant to me. As I witness there successful lives, as I see God working good out of it, it is a humbling thing, and heightens my devotion to a God of second chances.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


The following page is from a book "Getting on in the World" 1872, by William Mathews, LL. D.
The advice to young men it contains was common in America up through the fifties. Sadly it has become lost in present day. It may seem somewhat harsh to the modern day young person, with all of our luxuries, but a strong dose of its influence will no doubt be of great advantage.
There are many books written in the nineteenth, and early twentieth century that encourage a young person to do their best with example after example of those with less, that have made themselves useful to God, society, and family.

"It is the misfortune of many young persons today that they begin life with too many advantages. Every possible want of their many-sided natures is supplied before it is consciously felt. Books, teachers, mental and religious training, lectures, amusements, clothes, and food, all of the best quality and without stint in quantity, -- in short, the pick of the world’s good things, and helps of every kind, --- are lavished upon them, till satiety results, and all ambition is extinguished. What motive has a young man, for whom life is thus “thrice winnowed,” to exert himself? Having supped full of life’s sweets, he finds them palling on his taste; having done nothing to earn its good things, he cannot appreciate their value. “like a hot house plant, grown weak and spindling through too much shelter and watching, he needs nothing so much as to be set in the open air of the world, and to grow strong, with the struggling for existence.”

Mere hardship, of course, will not make a man strong, but it is an all important aid in the development of greatness. Want, confinement, opposition, roughness alternating with smoothness, difficulty with ease, storm with sunshine, sorrow with joy, -- these constitute the discipline of life, the education which makes a man of a being, who would otherwise be little better than an animal.
It has been justly said that in deprivation alone there is untold might. Imprison a gill of water ( two ounces ) in a solid rock, and deprive it of heat, and it will burst its flinty bonds as did Samson the cords of the Philistines. Apply a match to a pound of powder in the open air, and it explodes with a harmless flash; but confine it in a rifle-barrel, and tease it with the smallest spark, and it carries doom to a distant life.
Great men can no more be made without trials, than bricks can be made without fire.

In past ages men believed in the existence of ghosts, -- a belief which has disappeared before the light of intelligence; but the truth is, they really exist, only in a different form from that with which the popular imagination has invested them. A ghost is popularly supposed to be a soul without a body, fond of darkness and graveyards, and wearing a thin white drapery, which you can see, but not touch. The strongest man might strike through it without hitting or hurting it.
A character in one of Dicken’s novels knew a ghost “because he could see straight through the body to the buttons on the back of the coat.” But the real ghost is the man who has no pluck;
no perseverance, firmness, or energy; no backbone of determination; in short, the pigeon-livered thing, for it is not worthy to be called a man, that has a body without a soul.

After all, there is but one true way in which to meet the troubles and trials of life, and that is, to encounter them unflinchingly. It is doubtless very pleasant to sit in some loophole of retreat, and now and then, oyster-like, cautiously open one’s bivalves, and thank God he is not buffeting the billows like his fellows. Those who risk nothing, of course, can lose nothing; sowing no hopes, they cannot suffer from the blight of disappointment. But let him who is enlisted for the war expect to meet the foe. Either accept the advice of the tawny Philip to his hesitating warrior, -- “Go away with the children and the squaws,” – or be prepared not only for the contest, but for its consequences.

Fortunately, adversity is like the panther, look it boldly in the face, and it turns cowering away from you. It is like life’s troubles as with the risks of the battle-field, there is always less of aggregate danger to the party that stands firm than to that which gives way, the cowards being always cut down ingloriously in the fight.

No doubt it is easier to moralize on ‘the uses of adversity’ than to bear it.
We are aware that it is hard to begin life without a dollar, hard to be poor, and harder to seem poor in the eyes of others. No young man, especially no young man in our cities, likes to make his entrance in life with his boots patched; to wear an out of date hat, and clean gloves smelling of cheap oil and economy; nor to carry a cotton umbrella; nor to ask a girl to marry him and live in the sky-parlor of a cheap boarding-house. We all like to drive along smoothly, to have a fine turnout, to have the hinges of life oiled, the backs padded, and the seats cushioned. But such is not the road to success in any profession or calling; and if you are poor, and feel that you cannot climb the steeps of life unassisted, -- that you must be carried in a vehicle, instead of trudging on foot along the dusty highway, -- then confess your weakness and seek your Hercules in the first heiress who is as lacking in judgment as you in nerve and resolution. Mary for money if you can and be a stall-fed ox for the remainder of your days. But do not, while thus ‘boosted’ into life, boast of your success. Do not, while rising in the world like a balloon, by pressure from without instead of within, fancy you have any claim to triumph. The world will tip its hat to you, and give you plenty of ceremonious respect; but its real regard, its loftiest esteem, it will reserve for the moral hero who has the nerve to throw his hat into the ring, and fight out the battle of life in a manly and creditable way".

If that doesn't inspire you, you must hate John Wayne.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Letter from Matt

I received this email from Matt's wife Thanita today and she said it was for all so I decided to post it.

"Dear Thanita, I hope all is well. I pray for you and Nic and Nisha often. How is everything?
Two days ago we met 350 IDPs, it was upsetting, but they were strong despite the circumstances. It's hard to imagine being forced to leave everything you know and still smile and laugh. I was able to film a lot and interview some too. I will do my best to tell their story. I also have a deep sense that God has this trip planned.
I love you all."

When I read this brief email, the simplicity of it made me well up inside with pride. That may sound odd but in some of Christianity there are high and lofty buzz words, in some circles there is a hyper-spiritual language that at times seems boastful to me. It may be my lack of spirituality or some other deficiency, but somehow when I read this email, and I know how genuine his feelings are, and the priorities of his life are laid out; love for his wife and family, a God given desire to help the Burmese and a deep sense of God's presence and destiny.
And as he walks these hundred miles through the mountains, with at times eminent danger,
his feet do the talking.
Forgive me while I gush with pride, but this is how I interpret Christianity.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giddy and Random?

I’ve been reading a little in the “Reformed Doctrine of Predestination”.
When ever my life seems farther out of control than normal, and I need to come back to the reality that God is in control and I need to believe it and trust it; I go to the Puritans and reformers for reminders. I would be quick to defend the belief that God is in control of everything, but when I read a quote like the following, it makes me realize how small I truly think God is.

“Although the price of the sparrow is small, and its flight seems giddy and at random, yet it does not fall to the ground, nor alight anywhere without your Father. His all wise providence hath before appointed what bough it shall perch upon; what grains it shall pick up; where it shall lodge and where it shall build; on what it shall live and where it shall fall to die.”

Could that be true? I know my family, home, daily food, and my death are all in His hands, but will he feed the birds this morning? Is He so big he can take note of all His creation? My lodging yes, but the black-capped chickadee that year round entertains me with his fluttering, hunting, pecking, does he share with me God’s protection? To the grains he eats? I’m not certain but it makes me well up to think so, I want to believe it........... I do believe it.

“Every raindrop and every snowflake which falls from the cloud, every insect which moves, every plant which grows, every grain of dust which floats in the air has had certain definite causes and will have certain definite effects. Each is a link in the chain of events and many of the great events of history have turned on these apparently insignificant things.”

Is my God that big? Oh yes He is, I see in his word how He uses all of His creation to turn the tide of this globe, I know enough of history to remember how he used a spider and his web to protect, the plant to teach, the clouds for signs and on it goes. What a mighty God we serve!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Beauty Thought

"It is perfectly possible for a girl with the homeliest face, with the ugliest expression, if she has an honest heart, to make herself beautiful to everyone who knows her by the perpetual habit of holding in her mind the beauty thought; not the thought of mere superficial beauty, but that of heart beauty, soul beauty. The basis of all real beauty is a kindly, helpful heart, and a desire to scatter sunshine and good cheer everywhere, and this, shining through the face, makes it beautiful". O.S.Marden

I suspect when you read this you are picturing a person like he describes. Someone the world may not consider handsome, but not long after meeting them they begin to transform, a strange but certain change takes place, somehow they become beautiful. I have met many in the nursing homes where superficial beauty has long been lost, but the richness of their character, the scattering of joy, revives the beauty years thought to steal.
I encouraged my granddaughters, as they both began a new school this year, to look people in the eye and smile a big Mother Teresa smile, begin conversations with strangers and learn to listen and you will not lack for friends. They heeded my advice and both have gained many new friends.
I like that.

Thoughts Radiate as Influence

“Gaze thou in the face of thy brother, in those eyes where plays the lambent fire of kindness, or in those where rages the lurid conflagration of anger; feel how thy own so quiet soul is straightway involuntarily kindled with the like, and ye blaze and reverberate on each other, till it is all one limitless, confluent flame (of embracing love, or of deadly, grasping hate); and then say what miraculous virtue goes out of man into man.”

What an interesting thought, how we influence each other for good or ill with nothing more than a look. What power we have over others, what weakness we have by others. Power without a word. We influence an entire household with a look.
“Potent with influence, our looks fly from us with every instant, working for weal or for woe.” Say’s Orison Marden.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Email from Matt's wife

Dear all,
Matt called me tonight. He is with the team leader and his team. And they just started their mission. Matt asked me to tell you guys to pray for him. The situation is very bad there. They are in the middle of a very very dangerous place. He really needs our prayers, that's what he said. I, now, translate the FBR report from English toThai. So, I have to read every report. The situation is worst than ever. I sometimes ask myself why did I even let my husband go there. Please pray for his safety, and for me that I will put all my worries in to the hand of the Lord.

The lovely Toy....

I spent the weekend at the coast which always brings with it the pursuit of rare Christian books.
WaLa! A couple of good finds; one is Orison Swett Marden's book "Every Man A King", seven bucks, eat your heart out Eric, and another titled "Getting On in The World" author William Mathews, LL.D. This is a book not unlike 'Pushing To The Front' by Marden, but a somewhat easier to read book, less fragmented. Anyway, in it there is a quote I want to share. The subject of anticipation being greater than possesion, is a topic that has always intrigued me and I fall prey to on a regular basis. I'll include the lead up, as well as the quote.....

"Again, it must be confessed that success does not always yield the happiness expected; that the prizes of life, like the apples of Sodom, often turn to ashes in the grasp. Of every object of human pursuit, however dazzling in the distance, it may be said as the poet has said of woman, --

"The lovely toy, so fiercly sought,
Hath lost its charm by being caught."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

If one would love life

"In computing the duration of a human life in the actual sense of life, if we wish to obtain the result in minutes and seconds, we must strike out from the calculations all those minutes and seconds in which he does not live in the proper sense of the word. This would include all periods of unconsciousness, of intoxitcation, and of mental alienations, -- in short, all moments which, when past, leave in our nature no rational record of their passage." Charles E. Sargent, M.A.

When I read the above quote it made me think about the scripture in 1 Peter 3:10, "if we would love life and see good days", then surely we must consider how much of our life is worth the living.
Like the quote suggests, if we consider the time spent in worry, resentment, anger, discouragement, all mental alienations, or mental derangements, from friends, family, co-workers or whoever; we must consider that time spent, is life not worth the living. That term mental alienations stuck out the most to me, and truly life in that state is lost time. So much of our time can be lost if we do not follow the Path.
As a Christian, our lives are in God's hands, every man our brother, every task a purpose, every trial a lesson, so that we can glorify God and enjoy Him forever, as the catechism states.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I just got this picture back and it is a rare time that nearly all my grandchildren are together.
Last Christmas I had eleven of my grandchildren here for this photo op.
From bottom left to right is Lily, Destiny, Raleigh, Dre'Sean, Jordan, Nic.
I'm holding Nisha, to my immediate left is Austin then Micah, and above Left to right is Carissa and Christian.
My most prized possesions, this bulging quiver of budding leaders and world changers.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


I was asked what I thought the secrets of God are; so I put down things I have learned and have been taught about the secrets of God.

Secrets of wisdom for living, they cry out in the streets and even the ungodly will gain them if attentive to life. The plain, pure, word of God.

Secrets of Christ Jesus, secrets of His assurance, his direction, His purposes for our life.
Not found on the surface, but rather to be sought after, mined as it were. Found in hidden places of devotion not in banter or chatter and rarely through the prophetic words of another.

Secrets of ministry; The revealing of another’s need -- when in ministry and the secrets of a person’s heart is unknown, or if a need is unidentified, God will identify these secrets; Secrets that allow us to know what to do or what will reach them, and finding the words or the actions that were unprepared, but somehow, in a moment of intimate soul connection, one finds a clarity or a spontaneous word or action that is divinely given for the moment. A spiritual gift for the moment. Certainly, the sweetest of all the secrets.

Secrets of worship and intimacy with God. Mined in the prayer closet or occasionally by a whelming flood of special mercy or grace.
I suppose my favorite teaching on this comes from Jeremy Taylor, a 17th century Anglican Priest with such insight. Here is a piece he does on spiritual growth and the mystical experience we have with God. This is not an easy read, so get out the dictionary, you’ll need it for the full blessing, and not even Paul could read it once and understand it.

The first beginnings in religion are employed in the mastering of their first appetites, casting out devils, exterminating all evil customs, lessening the tendency of habits, and contradict the orders of persistent corrupt desires; and this, which divines call the purgative or purging way, is wholly spent in actions of repentance, mortification, and self-denial…..

After our first step is taken, and the conviction part of repentance is resolved on, and begun, and we have had good degrees of progress, we then enter into the illuminative way of religion…. If a pious soul passes to affections that are of a lofty sentiment, and intimate and more directly related to God, without the help of others, without the use of written prayers or guides and develops a spiritual love, it is well; only remember that the love that God requires of us, is an operative, material, and communicative love, “If you love me keep My commandments”; so that still a good life is the effect of the deepest and most sublime meditation…..

Beyond what I have described, there is a degree of meditation so exalted, that it changes the very name, and is called contemplation; and it is in the unitive way of religion, that is, it consists in unions and adherences to God; it is a prayer of quietness and silence, and an extraordinary meditation, prayers without distraction, a vision and intuition of divine excellencies, an immediate entry into an orb of light, and a blending of all our faculties into sweetness, affections, and a staring upon the divine beauty; and is carried on to ecstasies, raptures, no sense of time, inspirations, being drawn away from the temporal, and apprehending a blissful state……

But this is not a thing to be discoursed of, but felt; and although in other sciences the terms must first be known, and then the rules and conclusions of science applied; here it is otherwise; for first, the whole of this must be experienced, before we can so much as know what it is; and the end must be acquired first, the conclusion before the premises.
They that testify of these heights call them the secrets of the kingdom; but they are such which no man can describe; such which God hath not revealed in the publication of the gospel; such for the acquiring of which there are no means prescribed.

Unknown Secrets
And then lastly, and the inexhaustable part of “The Secrets”, are all the ones I do not know, the vast riches of God that I have no understanding about whatsoever.

This is a style of Art that I particularly like.

If you enjoy this art go to the net and type in "Art Renewal" and the link is to the largest art site on the net. My favorite artist is William Bouguereau. There are about 200 of his paintings on this site, along with about 1500 other artists.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Betrothed to God

The following piece from A Lifting Up For The Downcast, is so typical of the Puritan theology. If you have not read the Puritan divines, this piece will give you a clear example of their teachings. It typifies the encouraging, inspiring, line of thought that permeates their writings. I will abridge it at the end because of the language difficulties.

“ Every godly, gracious man, is in covenant with God by Jesus Christ; and that covenant is a covenant of grace, which is the great charter, the “magna-Charta” of all his spiritual privileges and immunities (freedom from natural or usual liability). Now in this great charter, the Lord proclaims this, that sincerity shall go for perfection; that a little done for God, in the time of temptation, shall be counted much. In this great charter, the Lord proclaims unto all His people, that He rather regards the bent (inclinations ) of the heart than the enlargement of the heart: that He rather regards the will to do, than the doing.
In this great charter, the covenant of free grace, the Lord proclaims unto all His people, that if they fail in prayer and other duties (for I speak not of prayer only ),
He will not cast them off, but He will rather be moved to pity them; for the covenant that the Lord makes with His people is as the covenant that a man makes with his wife; “I will betroth thee unto me for ever” says the Lord, Hosea 2:19. Now a man will not put away his wife for every failing, neither will the Lord put away his people nor cast them off, because He is betrothed to them though they do fail in duties. Again, in this great charter and covenant of grace, the Lord proclaims unto all His children, that what they lack in performance, he will make up in indulgence. He proclaims this unto them, that He will require no more than He gives; He will give what he requires, and He will accept what He gives. Now, therefore, am I in that covenant of grace? And are there many failings in my duties? Yet if this be true, that the Lord is more moved by my failings to pity me than to cast me off, then I have no reason to be discouraged. And thus it is with every child of God. He is in this covenant of grace, and so the privileges and immunities of all this great charter belong unto him.”

It is remarkable, that in this covenant of Grace,” that sincerity shall go for perfection”. This is a reoccurring theme through all the Puritan writings.
” that a little done for God, in the time of temptation, shall be counted much”.
He regards the inclinations of the heart and is not worried about the hearts size or ability.
Of course the security of the believer is throughout their writings, comments like
“He will not cast us off but rather is moved to pity. We are betrothed to Him and God hates divorce. What we lack in performance, he will make up in indulgence. When is the last time you heard that from a pulpit? Or, what He requires he will give.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bathing the Soul

The following are the musings of Henry Ward Beecher as he walks through his large Estate. He day dreams as he walks through the orchards, along the meadows and by the lakeside. He considers what improvements he may make and just drinks up the beauty while dreaming the day away. Then he questions himself as to whether this is of value or not.

“But of what use is all this fanciful using of the head?
Is it a mere waste of precious time?
But, if it gives great delight, if it keeps the soul awake, sweet thoughts alive and sordid thoughts dead, if it brings one a little out of conceit with hard economies, and penurious reality, and stingy self-conceit; if it be like a bath to the soul, in which it washes away the grime of human contacts, and the sweat and dust of life among selfish, sordid men; if it makes the thoughts more supple to climb along the ways where the spiritual fruits do grow; and especially, if it introduces the soul to a fuller conviction of the Great Unseen, and teaches it to esteem the visible as less real than things which no eye can see, or hands handle, it will have answered a purpose which is in vain sought after among stupid conventionalities.
At any rate, such a discourse of the thoughts with things that are beautiful, and such an opening of the soul to things which are sweet-breathed, will make one joyful at the time and tranquil thereafter. And if one fully believes that the earth is the Lord’s, and that God yet walks among leaves, and trees, in the cool of the day, he will not easily be persuaded to cast away the belief that all these vagaries and wild communings are but those of a child in his father’s house, and that the secret springs of joy which they open are touched of God!”

There is so much I like in this piece, I like the line "a bath to the sould that washes away the grime of human contacts , and the sweat and dust of life among selfish and sordid men."
I also like "an opening of the soul to things which are sweet-breathed"
Aw! nature.......

Inestimable Gift

Join in with me while Henry Ward Beecher reminices about boyhood adventures --

“On the blessed day above mentioned, a bare-footed boy might have been seen on a June afternoon, with his alder-pole on his shoulder, tripping through the meadow where dandelions and wild geraniums were in bloom, and steering for the old sawmill. As soon as the meadow was crossed, the fence scaled and a descent begun, all familiar objects were gone, and the overpowering consciousness of being alone set one’s imagination into a dance of fear.
Could we find our way back?
What if a big bull should come out of those bushes?
What if a great big man should come along and carry us off?
To a six-year old boy these were very serious matters, and nothing could have so well tested the eagerness or our purpose as perseverance under these soul-bewildering suggestions; for realities in after-life are seldom so impressive as imaginations in early life. A child’s fears are cruel. They are to him the signs of absolute realities, and he is quite unable to reason on them and is helpless to repel or to endure them. The fears of our childhood constitute a chapter in mental philosophy.
But, no sooner did we see the sparkle of the water than our souls grew calm again and happy.”

When I first read this I got caught up in the scene described and it took me back to when I was a boy living in a rural agricultural area. I spent many a day hiking off to where the lands were uncharted. Many a time to a place I had been once, or someone had told me about, and the way was uncertain. I experienced the fear he describes about being lost or the worry a big dog might be stumbled on to or a big man that could carry us off.
But as I re-read this story I was taken by a different aspect of it; The line,
“for realities in after-life are seldom so impressive as imaginations in early life. A child’s fears are cruel.”
A sadness came over me as the truth of that statement sunk in. I began to think of a child with these “impressive imaginations in early life” that is caught in the break-up of a family by divorce, and how big the fears are in a young child. How a “child’s fears are cruel.” Without hope, overwhelming and reaching deep within to a place where there just is no understanding. I thought of my sons and the desperation they must have felt when their mother and I divorced. I then thought of all the children that face truly fearful circumstances and I felt that fearful imagination.
To those who have held their marriages together in this ‘throw away’ culture, my hats off to you. I doubt you realize the inestimable gift you have given your children.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Inestimable gift

Lets pick up here as Henry Ward Beecher describes a beautiful spring day as he reminisces
as a child of six --

On the blessed day above mentioned, a bare-footed boy might have been seen on a June afternoon, with his alder-pole on his shoulder, tripping through the meadow where dandelions and wild geraniums were in bloom, and steering for the old sawmill. As soon as the meadow was crossed, the fence scaled and a descent begun, all familiar objects were gone, and the overpowering consciousness of being alone set one imagination into a dance of fear.
Could we find our way back?
What if a big bull should come out of those bushes?
What if a great big man should come along and carry us off?
To a six-year old boy these were very serious matters, and nothing could have so well tested the eagerness or our purpose as perseverance under these soul-bewildering suggestions; for realities in after-life are seldom so impressive as imaginations in early life. A childs fears are cruel. They are to him the signs of absolute realities, and he is quite unable to reason on them and is helpless to repel or to endure them. The fears of our childhood constitute a chapter in mental philosophy.
But, no sooner did we see the sparkle of the water than our souls grew calm again and happy.

When I first read this I got caught up in the scene described and it took me back to when I was a boy living in a rural agricultural area. I spent many a day hiking off to where the lands were uncharted. Many a time to a place I had been once, or someone had told me about, and the way was uncertain. I experienced the fear he describes about being lost or the worry a big dog might be stumbled on to or a big man that could carry us off.
But as I re-read this story I was taken by a different aspect of it; The line,
"for realities in after-life are seldom so impressive as imaginations in early life. A childs fears are cruel.
A sadness came over me as the truth of that statement sunk in. I began to think of a child with these impressive imaginations in early life that is caught in the break-up of a family by divorce, and how big the fears are in a young child. How a childs fears are cruel. Without hope, overwhelming and reaching deep within to a place where there just is no understanding.
I thought of my sons and the desperation they must have felt when their mother and I divorced. I then thought of all the children that face truly fearful circumstances and I felt that fearful imagination.
To those who have held their marriages together in this throw away culture, my hats off to you. I doubt you realize the inestimable gift you have given your children.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls;
Who steals my purse, steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name,
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed. Shakespeare.

What is your duty?

"What is your duty?" asks Goethe. "The carrying out of the affairs of the day that lies before you." But this is too narrow a view of duty. "What again," he asks, "is the best government?
That which teaches us to govern ourselves." Plutarch said to the Emperor Trajan, "Let your government commence in your own breast, and lay the foundation of it in the command of your own passions."

Need a lift?

The following posts are from the book "A Lifting Up For The Downcast" by William Bridge.
I have picked out a few paragraphs to give the flavor of the author. William Bridge preached these sermons in 1648, it deals with believers suffering from spiritual depression, and Bridge manifests great inshight into the causes of saints discouragement. He is a true physiscian of the soul. Written in the kings English, if you're not used to it, is somewhat more difficult to follow, but worth it.

“Sin gains not, but is a loser by every fall of the godly. And if you look into the Scripture, you will observe that when the people of God fall, usually they fail in that grace wherein they most excel. Wherein they did most excel, therein they did most miscarry. Abraham did most excel in faith, and therein he did most miscarry. Moses did most excel in meekness, and therein he did most miscarry; we read of no other sin concerning Moses but his anger. Job did most excel in patience, and therein did he most miscarry. Peter did most excel in zeal and resolution for Christ – “Though all the world forsake thee, yet will not I” – and therein he did most miscarry, denying Christ at the voice of a damsel. I say, you will observe this, that the saints fell and failed in that grace wherein they did most excel; and they did most excel wherein they did most miscarry.
What is the reason of this, but because the Lord, by the overruling hand of His grace, did make their very miscarriages, inlets and occasions to their further grace and holiness. God has a great revenue from the very infirmities of His people. He never permits any of His people to fall into any sin, but He hath a design by that fall to break the back of that sin they do fall into. Now, then, have the saints and people of God any reason to be discouraged in this respect?”

Great sins

“But again you say, suppose that a man’s sins be exceeding great, gross, and heinous; for I do confess that possibly a godly man may sin some sin against his light, and against his conscience sometimes; but as for me, my sin is exceeding great, gross and heinous, and have I not just cause and reason now to be discouraged?

No, not yet, for though your sin be great, is not God’s mercy great, exceeding great? Is not the satisfaction made by Christ great? Are the merits of Christ’s blood small? Is not God, the great God of heaven and earth, able to do great things? You grant that God is almighty in providing for you, and is He not almighty also in pardoning? Will you rob God of His almightiness in pardoning?
You say your sin is great, but is it infinite? Is not God alone infinite? Is your sin as big as God, as big as Christ? Is Jesus Christ only a Mediator for small sins?
Now look what David says in Psalm 25:11, “For thy names sake, O Lord, Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.” If David use this reason, then may you also; and if this be a reason why God should pardon sin, because it is great, then this cannot be a reason, a just reason, why you should be discouraged.”

Declining affections toward God

“Now you may say you have declined, and have much revolted, and so have continued even many years, consider whether you may be not mistaken. Every abatement in affection is not a declining in grace. Possibly we may not grieve for sin afterward so much as at our first conversion, yet we may hate it more. At first you may pray more against it, yet afterward watch more against it. We never see the face of sin so ugly, as in the glass of God’s free love, and do you not see the free love of God more? Possibly your affections might have been higher at the first, but is not conviction more clear and full? As affections dry up, so we grow more settled in our judgment; and if your judgment be more settled, you have not declined, though your affections be somewhat abated.”

Foul sin

“But you say, suppose that a man has sinned foully, greatly, and he cannot repent or be humbled enough: for that is my case. I have sinned, I have sinned greatly, and now after all, my heart is hard, and I cannot be humbled enough, oh, I cannot repent enough: have I not just cause and reason for discouragement now, yea to be quite discouraged?

No, not yet, for what if the Lord will have your humiliation from you by degrees? Should you be greatly humbled for the present, it may be it would be with you as it has been with others, you would never think of your sins afterward. But may be the Lord will have this work of humiliation to stay long upon your soul, and He will not give it you all at once. Some there are, that when they come into a house, they pay down a great sum of money and pay little rent, others pay a little sum of money and a great rent. So it is with souls that come to Christ: some at the first experience a great humiliation, and they have little of it afterward; some have less at first, and have more afterwards by continuance in it. And what if the Lord will now lead your soul in this latter way? This latter way may be the better way if the Lord think fit.”

Sunday, September 10, 2006

"We often judge of a thing according as we have it at heart; for we easily lose true judgment through private affection.
If God were always the one aim of our desire, we should not so easily be disturbed at resistance to our opinions.
But there is often something lying hid within, or occurring from without, which draws us also along with it.
Many secretly seek themselves in what they do, and know it not.
They seem also to continue in good peace; when aught is done according to their will and judgment; but if it be done otherwise than they wish, they are soon moved and become sad."
Thomas A Kempis.

I like this quote, and the way I take it is, that our way of thinking, "have it at heart", and our emotional reaction to things, "private affection", are the things lying hidden within and are the filter we interpret circumstances with and then allow to draw us along into narrow or self centered thinking.

Hold to the hollow

I was re-reading Thomas A Kempis this morning and it was coming alive for me.
One sentence that struck me was---

"No man is led willingly further than he himself sees."

I think that is so true whether for the Christian or the unbeliever. We love to be taught truths, doctrines, that we have some concept of already, even if ever so vague; but when we are presented with an idea that is outside of our experience or sight, we often dig our heels in and cling to the familiar, even if it is a hollow concept.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Small miseries, like small debts, hit us in so many places, and meet us at so many turns and corners, that what they lack in weight, they make up in number, and render it less hazardous to stand in the fire of one cannon ball, than a volley composed of such a shower of bullets – Colton.
If all the misfortunes of mankind were cast into a public stock, in order to be equally distributed among the whole species, those who now think themselves the most unhappy would prefer the share they are already possessed of before that which would fall to them by such a division. – Socrates.

These kind of thoughts are of great comfort to me when I'm whining about some trifle that has me up nights or biting my nails.
None has more frequent conversations with disagreeable self than the man of pleasure; his enthusiasms are but few and transient; his appetites, like angry creditors, are continually making fruitless demands for what he is unable to pay; And the greater his former pleasures, the more strong his regret, the more impatient his expectations. A life of pleasure is, therefore, the most unpleasing life. –Goldsmith
Worldly riches are like nuts; many clothes are torn in getting them, many a tooth broke in cracking them, but never a belly filled with eating them. – Venning

The misanthrope

The misanthrope is a man who avoids society, only to free himself from the trouble of being useful to it; who considers his neighbors only on the side of their defects, not knowing the art of combining their virtues with their vices, and of rendering the imperfections of other people tolerable by reflecting on his own.
He is more employed in finding out and punishing the guilty, than in devising means to reform them; and because he thinks his talents are not sufficiently valued and employed by his fellow citizens, or rather because they know his foibles and do not choose to be subject to his caprices, he talks of quitting cities, towns, and societies, and living in dens or deserts. – Saurin.

The part of this quote that struck me is "not knowing the art of combining their virtues with their vices". We are long on this with those we love, often overlooking vices entirely, but to the casual acquaintancee, we are often too short. Giving them up with the appearance of one or two vices.
He that has no resources of mind, is more to be pitied than he who is in want of necessaries for the body; to be obliged to beg our daily happiness from others, bespeaks a more lamentable poverty than that of him, who begs his daily bread.

Now think about that.....

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Death Bed

We watched her breathing through the night--
Her breathing soft and low--
As in her breast the wave of life
Kept heaving to and fro.

So, silently we seemed to speak,
so slowly moved about,
As we had lent her half our powers
To eke her living out.

Our wearied hopes belied our fears,
Our fears our hopes belied;
We thought her dying when she slept,
And sleeping when she died.

For when morn came, dim and sad,
And chill with early showers,
Her quiet eyelids closed ; she had
Another morn than ours.
Thomas Hood

Eva's Death -- From Uncle Tom's Cabin

Eva, after this, declined rapidly; there was no more any doubt of the event; the fondest hope could not be blinded. Her beautiful room was avowedly a sickroom, and Miss Ophelia, day and night, performed the duties of a nurse, and never did her friends appreciate her value more than in that capacity. With so well trained a hand and eye, such perfect adroitness and practice in every art which could promote neatness and comfort and keep out of sight every disagreeable incident of sickness – with such a perfect sense of time, such a clear, untroubled head, such exact accuracy in remembering every prescription and direction of the doctors – she was everything to St. Clare. They who had shrugged their shoulders at the little peculiarities and setnesses --- so unlike the careless freedom of Southern manners – acknowledged that now she was the exact person that was wanted.
Uncle Tom was much in Eva’s room. The child suffered much from nervous restlessness, and it was a relief to her to be carried; and it was Tom’s greatest delight to carry her little frail form in his arms, resting on a pillow, now up and down her room, now out into the veranda; and when the fresh sea-breezes blew from the lake – and the child felt freshest in the morning – he would sometimes walk with her under the orange-trees in the garden, or sitting down in some of their old seat, sing to her their favorite old hymns.
Her father often did the same thing; but his frame was slighter, and when he was weary, Eva would say to him –
“Oh, papa, let Tom take me. Poor fellow! It pleases him; and you know it’s all he can do for me now, and he wants to do something!”
“So do I, Eva!” said her father.
“Well, papa, you can do everything, and are everything to me. You read to me –
you sit up nights; and Tom has only this one thing, and his singing; and I know, too, he does it easier than you can. He carries me so strong!”
Harriet Beecher Stowe -- Sister to Henry Ward Beecher, Father Lyman Beecher.

This piece touches me at so many levels. Of course with six granddaughters, I sense the pathos and imagine the grief of the parents. But the character that makes me well up is Tom.
I picture him and his limitations, but what he can do, he does with such love. "He carries me so strong." That line just strikes such a chord in me. I had an Uncle that also had many limitations, but he too, 'carried me strong'.

To A Waterfowl

This classic poem by William Cullen Bryant is well known, but each time I read it I love where he takes me. I love the nature poets. I have sat by a pond or lake many times fishing and watching the ducks fly in for a landing with their wings making that soothing whistling sound. I have watched as well, many times the ducks in the distance, a shadow in the setting suns light, so I particularly like this one and where it takes me.

To a Waterfowl

Whither, midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou purse
Thy solitary way?

Vainly the fowler’s eye
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
As, darkly painted on the crimson sky,
Thy figure floats along.

Seek’st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
On the chafed ocean-side?

There is a power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast –
The desert and illimitable air ----
Lone wandering, but not lost.

All day thy wings have fanned,
At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere,
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
Though the dark night is near.

And soon that toil shall end;
Soon thou find a summer home, and rest,
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
Soon, o’er thy sheltered nest.

Thou’rt gone, the abyss of heaven
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart
Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given.
And shall not soon depart:

He, who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
Will lead my steps aright.
William Cullen Bryant.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

What Immigrants Bring to Oregon

Ugh, you hear it all the time. “Ey, Mayor Potter, what’s the deal with that new office of Fresh-Off-the-Boat Attitudes?”
“You really think a huddle of smart-aleck immigrants are worth our money?”
I’ve seen it happen, I’ve watched him pause, before responding. “Hmm, Yes, Immigrants, Uh, why are they important to us?”

I hold up three fingers for each big reason we are indispensable. Us immigrants, to America.
Okay, once and for all, City Hall types, snip and magnet this column to your file cabinet --
Fresh off the boaters are unabashed believers in American participatory democracy. We love the stuff. Cynicism and his uncivil cousin, passivity, have not yet visited our humble homes.

Newcomers are all about community. Count us in your tribe, and we’ll rumble to the last stubborn soldier for you. Loyalty is the currency of every ricepicker’s realm.

Immigrants are above all, a practical folk. Wasting time, squandering face, and most importantly, misspending money, are antithetical to these very bones.

Let me give you some cultural differences, we went by a pet store and here is what we call our D list. D is not for dope, or for dumb, D is for dog.

At the dog store, we saw doggie videos. VHS format is $10.50; DVD for $15.50.
You sit Skippy in front of your Sanyo. These movies are for him. Shot from a “Doggie Cam point of view. Whew!!!
This is decidedly unFOB (Fresh off the Boat).
Dogs do not figure big into democracy. People do. People watch movies.

On the doggie store’s shelves there are clothes. Dog clothes. Shoes, shirts, sweaters, windbreakers, rain slickers. They sell Doggie-Ts that say; Pet this; Rich Bitch; Bad Hair Day and perhaps the most vexing for FOB folks; “Favorite Grandchild” in both hot pink and baby blue. Life jackets run from $49. to $70.
For Dogs.

Definitely not FOB. Of course, we are communal; certainly I am loyal as a dog. But dogs belong outside. They wait below Aunties kitchen window for leftovers.
They’ve never—not in any grand elder’s memory – worn coats or galoshes. Dogs are pretty good at ducking rain. Indeed, it’s a dog’s job to protect us, not the other way around. As a matter of fact, when things get really bad…we eat them.
Lab adobo. Yum!

In front of the doggie store, there are strollers. Dog strollers. You put Muffy in there. You push her around town. There’s screen windows all around so she can see. “Mesh provides full protection from bugs.” The best model has shock absorbers in back and bright reflectors up front. For safety. They go for $127. to $229. That’s US dollars. That’s totally unFOB.

FOB is as follows; Money is really hard to get. Really hard to save. Really important for schooling our kids, for keeping healthy our grandparents, for living cozy in a house ma’s dreamt of; for dressing good at church or temple or mosque, for arriving there in a really cool Acura. White is best.
Money is necessary for back home; money can’t be made back there like you can here. Our money will make right all the bad brought upon us by awful winds and ugly oceans and angry volcanoes and murderous quakes. And our stupid sultans. Our careless leaders.
Ayoh, Portlanders. Oregon does not have too many immigrants – indeed, we have not enough. Newcomers come practical, clear headed. Like common sense, you can’t have too much.

This article taken from The Asian Reporter.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Spit out the bones

I was reading one of my favorite authors the other day, Orison S. Marden. He is the most optimistic author I have ever read. He is a Christian, with a D.D. and an M.D. and a few other letters as well. He lived in the late 1800s and died in 1926 I think. I think enough of one of his books that I have purchased one for each of my kids. That being said, whoever I read, I take the good and pass over the not so good. So, as I was reading a chapter about 'Thinking You Are A Failure', which is about negative thoughts and the senseless banter that goes on in our heads, when I came across these lines -- "A vividness, a certain force, accompanies the spoken word,--
especially if earnestly, vehemently uttered -- which is not apparent to many in merely thinking about what the words express. If you repeat a firm resolve to yourself aloud, vigorously, even vehemently, you are more likely to carry it to reality than if you merely resolve in silence.
We become so accustomed to our silent thoughts that the voicing of them, the giving audible expression to our yearnings, makes a much deeper impression upon us."

So I began to picture myself doing what he suggested and I said, 'Hey, if I'm going to be speaking outloud, and vigorously, and vehemently, then I'm not going to waste my time talking to myself, I'm going to talk to someone who can get the job done! So I left my chair, went into my bedroom and began to pray.
Now I have no doubt that speaking positive thoughts would have some advantage, but, please forgive me, I'll do my shouting, my yearning, my vigorous talking, with the Lord. I don't say this to discredit my favorite author, but sometimes you eat the fish and spit out the bones. This was one of those cases.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Thoughts from Napoleon

In his exile at St. Helena, Napoleon was one day conversing, as was his wont, about the great men of antiquity, and comparing himself with them. He suddenly turned round to one of his suite and asked: "Can you tell me who Jesus Christ was?" The officer owned that he had not given much thought to such things. "Well, then," said Napoleon, "I will tell you." He then compared Christ with himself and the heroes of antiquity and showed how far Jesus surpassed them.
"I think I understand somewhat of human nature," said he, "and I tell you all these were men, and I am a man, but not one is like Him. Jesus Christ was more than a man, but not one is like him. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself; founded great empires; but upon what did the creation of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love and to this very day millions would die for Him.
Men wonder at the conquests of Alexander, but here is a conqueror who draws men to Himself, incorporates into Himself, not a nation, but the whole human race."


This is an excerpt from a chapter on Rewards and Punishments, from "Our Home". 1899

"As a rule the reward when given should appeal to the mental rather than the physical.
It should be something which has a tendency to stimulate the thinking or inventive power rather than something which merely satisfies a physical want. It is generally better to give a book than a drum, although there are far meaner rewards than a drum. Candy and sweetmeats should never under any circumstances be offered. That which is unfit for an adult is surely unfit to constitute a reward for a child. It is a fact that the world makes its greatest efforts in response to the demands of sensual gratification. Is it unreasonable to suppose that the foundation of this evil is laid in childhood through the pernicious practise of rewarding children with sweetmeats?"

I'm afraid I stand guilty, being a Grandfather, I might be accused of this evil, pernicious practise on an occasion or two. That aside, I like the advice and it makes me think a little instead of missing an opportunity to do something that is more than an immediate reward, like candy would be.

Dealing with doubt in children

When one begins to doubt any doctrine, whether intellectual or religious, he naturally conceives a dislike for any authority which disputes his ground, unless the authority is enforced by reasons which his own intellect is compelled to acknowledge as conclusive. Superior logic is the only authority which a questioning mind naturally receives with good grace. Hence, if you do not wish your child to hate the Bible, do not attempt to silence all his questions by the mere quotation of Scriptural texts, but first, calmly and kindly, lay bare the fallacy in his argument, and then show him, if you choose, how your own argument accords with Scripture."
Our Home - by Charles E. Sargent, M.A. 1899

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Train your children to save with a penny

"A penny is a very small matter, yet the comfort of thousands of families depends upon the proper spending and saving of pennies. If a man allows the little pennies, the results of his hard work, to slip out of his fingers -- some to the beershop, some this way and that -- he will find that his life is little raised above one of mere animal drudgery. On the other hand, if he take care of the pennies -- putting some weekly into a benefit society or an insurance fund, others into a saving's bank, and confiding the rest to his wife to be carefully laid out, with a view to the comfortable maintenance and education of his family; he will soon find that this attention to small matters, will abundantly repay him, in increasing means, growing comfort at home and a mind comparatively free from fears as to the future. And if a working man have a high ambition and posses richness in spirit, -- a kind of wealth which far transcends all mere worldly possessions -- he may not only help himself, but be a profitable helper of others in his path through life."

So here is a practical idea for instilling this habit into your children; tell them that each time they find a penny you will double it, or it may be if you are able, you will give them a nickel for each penny that they find. In our world, there are many that will not stoop to pick up a penny. Let that slothfulness be your children's means to saving.

Standing before Kings

The proverbs of Solomon are full of wisdom as to the force of industry, and the use and abuse of money: - 'He that is slothful in work is brother to him that is a great waster.' 'Go to the ant you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.' 'Poverty, says the preacher, shall come upon the idler,
'as one that travelleth, and want as an armed man;' but of the industrious and upright, 'the hand of the diligent maketh rich.'
'The drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty; and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.'
'Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings.' But above all, 'It is better to get wisdom than gold; for wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.'

Simple industry and thrift will go far towards making any person of ordinary working faculty comparatively independent in his means. Even a working man may be so, provided he will carefully husband his resources, and watch the little outlets of useless expenditure.
Samule Smiles, Money, its use and abuse

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Do you want to be rich?

I think it’s a fair question; one which every one in America has asked themselves.
I’m not asking you if you are willing to sell your soul for riches but simply, do you want to be wealthy? Riches bring much power to do good, as well as evil.
All of us know of ministries doing wonderful things. They have the people ready, trained, equipped of God, but the one thing lacking is funds. Christians that have wealth support countless ministries that give sight to the blind, clothes to the naked, medicine to the infirm, as well as spread the Gospel throughout the world.
So, I’m asking, do you want to be wealthy? Wealth brings independence, a satisfaction that your family will be able to enjoy a comfortable home and weather life’s storms. I could go on and list countless other things that wealth brings without damning your soul.
So, I thought I would begin to post articles concerning the attainment of wealth the way Godly people through all ages have accomplished it.
These are the time tested, righteous pursuits of wealth that have worked in all generations. It will be worth our while to carefully consider what the wealthy say about the attainment of riches.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Securing Independence

To secure independence, the practice of simple economy is all that is necessary. Economy requires neither superior courage nor eminent virtue; it is satisfied with ordinary energy, and the capacity of average minds. Economy, at bottom, is but the spirit of order applied in the administration of domestic affairs; it means management, regularity, prudence, and the avoidance of waste. The spirit of economy was expressed by our Divine Master in the words, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing may be lost’. His omnipotence did not disdain the small things of life; and even while revealing His infinite power to the multitude, he taught the pregnant lesson of carefulness of which all stand so much in need.’

We must have enough before we have to spare

Dr. Johnson held that early debt is ruin. His words on the subject are weighty and worthy of being held in remembrance. ‘Do not accustom yourself to consider debt only an inconvenience; you will find it a calamity. Poverty takes away so many means of doing good, and produces so much inability to resist evil, both natural and moral, that it is by all virtuous means to be avoided…. Let it be your first care, then, not to be in any man’s debt. Resolve not to be poor; whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable and others extremely difficult. Economy is not only the basis of quiet, but of beneficence. No man can help others that lacks help himself; we must have enough before we have to spare.’

Spare change?

The loose cash, which many persons thrown away uselessly, and worse, would often form a basis of fortune and independence for life.
The wasters are there own worst enemies, though generally found amongst the ranks of those who rail at the injustice of “the world” But if a man will not be his own friend, how can he expect that others will? Orderly men of moderate means have always something left in their pockets to help others, whereas your prodigal and careless fellows who spend all never find an opportunity for helping anybody.

The machinery of moral existence

A perfect knowledge of man is in the prayer, Lead us not into temptation.
But temptation will come to try our strength; and once yielded to, the power to resist grows weaker and weaker. Yield once, and a portion of virtue has gone. Resist boldly, and the first decision will give strength for life, repeated, it will become a habit. It is in the outworks of the habits formed in early life that the real strength of the defense must lie, for it has been wisely ordained that the machinery of moral existence should be carried on principally through the medium of the habits, so as to save the wear and tear of the great principles within. It is good habits, which insinuate themselves into the thousand inconsiderable act of life, that really constitute by far the greater part of mans moral conduct. Samuel Smiles.

This piece is so practical, and so true. So many of us struggle, seemingly forever, because we were truant in building good habits when young. Oh the difficulty of building them when older, your life and mine attest to it. But for the power and influence of Christ's intercession, we would have no hope. What some of us battle with and pray for years, with less than perfect results, others who built the good habit when young, simply cannot understand our problem.

The importance of training our children can never be overstated.

Divine Electric Element

The young person, as he passes through life, advances through a long line of tempters ranged on either side of him; and the inevitable effect of yielding, is degradation in a greater or lesser degree. Contact with them tends insensibly to draw away from them some portion of the divine electric element with which our nature is charged. Samuel Smiles

I suppose of all the descriptions of how sin degrades and robs us, this one captures an element that is immediate to identify, but elusive to describe; 'the divine electric element with which our nature is charged'
There is a divine electric element in our nature and sadly we rarely see it in one with any age.
The dancing life in a seven year old, the face on the edge of laughter of a 12 year old, the eye to eye conversation with the innocent, all have that divine electric element.
But as we surrender our will to temptation, we begin to erode some portion of that element, the result of which is vividly apparent in the eyes.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Putrid with lust, sin, and crime.

I was reading a chapter on repentance and one section the author writes of the different characters, hearts and personalities. I like the way he illustrates them.
Of course I see a trace of each in myself but certainly some would describe me more. I won’t divulge those of course.

“Some hearts are like the desert, naturally barren and sterile, and need a new soul entirely before any religious fruit can grow.
Some are like natural trees that bear plenty of fruit of a poor quality; these need grafting with a new and higher life.
Some are like marches and fens, foul and rank with noxious weeds and plants that need killing out or pulling up by the roots, before anything better can have room to grow.
Some are like rocks, utterly hard and insensible, and need to be blasted and broken up with great shocks of calamity, or accident, or suffering, before they begin to move or feel at all.
Some are like wild vines that are frail, tender, clinging and loving, and these need to be taught and cultivated and strengthened by the power of faith, and the help which Christ alone can give.
Some are like the timid, retiring wild-flower in the forest that needs to be brought out into the sunlight of God’s reconciled countenance and be made to grow with new strength and beauty.
Some are like gardens that bring forth fruits, flowers and weeds in equal proportions; these need cleaning and ploughing and replanting.
Some are gnarled and twisted like a bush, almost beyond the power of redemption by any ordinary means.
Some are already putrid with lust, sin, and crime, like decayed wood or herbage.
And others are naturally lovely and amiable, and inclined towards the good and lovely, just as rootlets strike out towards water by an inherent instinct; who are what may be called religiously inclined, but still not spiritual, not holy according to the Scriptures and the requirements of Christ, not Christians in the true sense of the word.
But all alike, whatever their natural variations or excellences, nee to be converted before they can be saved.” Jerome Paine Bates, A.M.

This made me think of the difficulty the Pastor is faced with in presenting a message that pierces the “rocks, utterly hard and insensible” without crushing the
“retiring wild-flower”.
I regret that too often I have had little discernment into the character and nature of one I had opportunity to talk with and where “sunlight” was needed, I rather “blasted with great shocks of calamity”.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Libertine

“I fear few villages exist without a specimen of the Libertine. His errand into this world is to explore every depth of sensuality, and collect upon himself the foulness of every one.

He is proud to be vile; his ambition is to be viler than other men. To him purity and decency are a burden, and only corruption a delight
“This creature has changed his nature, until only that which disgusts a pure mind pleases his. He is lured by the scent of carrion. His coarse feelings, stimulated by gross excitants, are insensible to delicacy.”
“The exquisite bloom, the dew and freshness of the flowers of the heart which delight both good men and God himself, he gazes upon, as a behemoth would gaze enraptured upon a prairie of flowers. It is so much pasture. The forms the odors, the hues are only a mouthful for his terrible appetite. Therefore, his breath blights every innocent thing.

He sneers at mention of purity, and leers in the very face of Virtue, as though she were herself corrupt. He assures the credulous and naive disciple that there is no purity; that its appearances are only the veils which cover indulgence. Nay, he solicits praise for the very openness of his evil; and tells the listener that all act as he acts, but only few are courageous enough to own it.
Experience shows that the worst men are, often, the most skilful in touching the springs of human action. A young man knows little of life; less of himself. He feels in his bosom
the various impulses, wild desires, restless cravings he can hardly tell for what, a somber melancholy when all are gay, a violent exhilaration when others are sober. These wild gushes of feeling, peculiar to youth, the shrewd and sagacious tempter has felt, has studied, has practiced upon, until he can sit before that most spacious organ, the human mind, knowing every stop and all the combinations, and competent to touch any note in the unwitting. He decries the virtue of all men; studies to produce a doubt that any are under self-restraint. And edging in upon the yielding youth, who begins to wonder at his experience, he boasts his first exploits, he hisses at the purity of women; he grows yet bolder, tells more wicked deeds and invents worse even than he ever performed. All thoughts, all feelings, all ambition, are merged in one and that lowest, vilest, most detestable ambition.”

Henry Ward Beecher - Lectures to Young Men
Lord let me not forget thy great mercies, the ardor in which you sought me and the love you displayed when you bought me. Let me not forget the very jaws that thrashed me and the scars left from the evil one who stalked and still stalks my soul for eternal desturction. You have rescued, cleansed, purified, consoled this empty handed beggar. May my life ring as a testimony, not a disgrace, to thy great mercies.
Author unknown

A little learning is a dangerous thing.

A little learning is a dangerous thing.
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.
Fired at first sight with what the muse imparts,
in fearless youth we tempt the heights of arts,
while from the bounded level of our mind,
short views we take, nor see the lengths behind:
but more advanced, behold with strange surprise
new distant scenes of endless science rise !
So pleased at first the towering Alps we try,
mount o’er the vales and seem to tread the sky,
the eternal snows appear already pass’d,
and the first clouds and mountains seem the last:
but, those attain’d, we tremble to survey
the growing labours of the lengthen’d way,
the increasing prospect tires our wandering eyes,
hills peep o’er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!

Oh, I like this poem, by Pope, a difficult one for me to grasp the first time through. And I'm not sure I understand it all, but here is my take on it.

I begin to reminisce about days when I saw life and all I thought it had to offer and I was so sure I was well equipped to handle all that would come my way. So eager to jump into the fray. With youth comes the boundless optimism as well as energy, “fired at first sight with what the muse imparts, in fearless youth we tempt the heights of arts.” I think much of my life has been spent in intoxicated thinking that I had some wisdom or understanding of life, only to find I have been drinking shallow. So naively confident that I could see the heights, and the depths of life, taking life on the surface, thinking I saw all there was. “Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind”.
As life unfolds her endless mysteries it so humbles the soul, the infinite climb to reach just the base.
The line “The eternal snows appear already pass’d” is something that time alone can refute. When young we think the way things are, will always be, and as time sweeps by we see the snows, or difficulties were only gone for a season, and as they blast once more the impact they have was completely unprepared for. “And the first clouds and mountains seem the last” as I have aged and lived through many a cloudy day and scaled a few mountains only to see another behind it, brings a seriousness to me, and a vivid awareness of the lack of true courage in me. I have spent most all my life battling and scaling the foothills. Completely unaware of the Alps beyond. Said much better by Pope in the last two lines.
“The increasing prospect tires our wandering eyes, Hills peep o’er hills, and Alps on Alps arise.”

Always in haste, but never in a hurry....

When I'm feeling tired and overworked, it sometimes pulls me out of my crybaby stage by reading about people that truly made sacrifices. John Wesley, though just a man, accomplished much for the Kingdom of God.

John Wesley

John Wesley's mother had a fine education and many accomplishments. She was beautiful of form and person, and withal intensely religious. She so molded the character of her children in their childhood that when John finally left his parental home at thirteen years of age, to become a student in a preparatory school, and then three years later to enter the University at Oxford, he had already received from his mother those prime qualities of method, punctuality, diligence, energy, and piety, which he afterward developed into that vast system of ecclesiasticism and doctrine now extended throughout the whole world.
John Wesley "stands out in the history of the world unquestionably pre-eminent in religious labors above that of any other man since the Apostolic age."
John Wesley, who was one of the most practical of men, was cast out from the churches and denounced as a wild visionary, and mischief maker, and a teacher of sedition and heresy, by the very men who, ere he died, came to regard him reverently as the instrument in God's hands for rescuing England from the "virtual heathenism into which it had lapsed": and for saving the whole Reformation movement started by Martin Luther, from the "imminent ruin hanging over it," and for again reviving that vital "religion that was dying in the world," and they proclaimed him as the greatest mind that had appeared in the religious world since the days of the Apostle Paul.
For nearly sixty years he preached on an average fifteen sermons a week; he wrote incessantly with his pen, and published hundreds of volumes of books, tracts, magazines, treatises on almost all useful subjects, classical, moral and religious; he traveled thousands of miles on foot, on horseback, by coach; he was often mobbed, and for years was constantly threatened with death by men of violence; his life was often in peril on land and sea; he had often the largest congregation to hear him that ever were gathered in modern ages, numbering sometimes more than thirty thousand.
He erected hundreds of schools, chapels, churches; educated thousands and thousands of his countrymen and , though having an income from his books of many thousands of dollars, he religiously and constantly gave it away to the poor, and to spread the gospel he preached, and at his death he had barely enough to bury him decently. He was as saving of his time as ever a miser was of gold; each hour had its task. His favorite maxim was :Always in haste, but never in a hurry." His first rule for the conduct of the thousands of men he sent forth to preach was, : be diligent; never be unemployed; never be triflingly employed; never while away time; never spend any more time at any place that is strictly necessary.:
Circumstances have much to do with developing great men, but they do not create them. John Wesley turned the most unfavorable circumstances to bring about a revolution in the religious world, which by its beneficent results entitles him to be justly ranked among the great men of the ages
This illustrious man affords a striking example of the dignity of labor. His greatness was the result of his incessant diligence.
The world honors honest labor, but despises the idler.

This was taken from a treatise on the benifits of labor.


I attend a Baptist church, although I'm not a Baptist. In my thirty 37 years as a Christian, I have attended many denominations. I also took away from each something needed.
I love many things about the Conservative Baptist Church, although the word conservative, as it relates to worship, leaves me a little wanting. I wrote another hokey ditty about church as I like it, that is actually a combination of memories from all the churches I've attended.

Heavenly Fire

My heart just cries for old time preaching!
Strictly from the Bible teaching.
Raise your hair and heart higher
smell the smoke, feel the fire!
Tear your eyes, lump your throat,
consecrate and fully devote
every corner and all that pleases
friends, family and holy Jesus.

Uncompromised preaching!
Angelic refrains,
heavenly fire through your veins.
Preacher red-faced, veins a popp'in,
send you down the aisle a hop'in.

Souls won by holy zeal
not a fit and dressed mercantile.
Any burdened soul welcome to sing,
off key notes don't mean a thing.

Music gets your toes a tapping,
tambourine and hands a clapping.
Singing 'bout the gospel story,
soul and lips shouting glory!
Left repentant, bathed in tears,
Holy Ghost lifts all your fears.
Soon forgotten earthly harms,
wrapped secure in Jesus arms.

Accessory to the crime

I watched an old black and white movie some time back and it was about the burden of poverty and the mark it leaves on children. When it was over I wanted to try and write down the emotions the movie left me with. The following poem is a little hokey, but it captured a piece of it.

Poverty often sketches a face leaving it's mark.
Haunting, hollow, hopeless.

Icy fingers churn within when it's worn by a child.
Glimmer in the eye, sheepish dimpled smile,
sashaying from one foot to the other in anticipation,
glad innocence,
dimmed by harsh realities.

Grand theft,
The robbery of innocence in any form
rallies all within to vengeance, to rescue.
A wringing, heart mourning, indignation wells to protection.

Let us never hide our eyes becoming-
Accessory to the crime.........

Monday, May 29, 2006

Blaze '06

Well, I just got back from Spokane and another Blaze conference and I’m still basking in the afterglow . Once again the Lord met us there and I took away so much. It is such an experience to see God move and work; whether it’s in the music, preaching or altar calls.
All the messages spoke to my heart and they all called for a greater dedication which I was ripe to hear.

The conference was held in a unique building called “The Service Station”. It is owned by a Christian man and is a non-profit business. When you enter, it is an upscale coffee house with a dash of Starbucks ambiance. Furnished with leather lounge chairs, modern décor, warm feeling, a jazz group or a single piano player in a nook playing background music to the laid back atmosphere. There are a variety of tables where some were playing card, using lap-tops, mingling with friends while sipping their coffee or eating a sumptuous desert from the Deli bar.
A younger clientele, but some older as well.

Behind, but in the same building, is a large conference room, with stage and professional lighting and seating for about 150. This is where Blaze took place.
Four churches participated in Blaze this year and I think as many joined the band. The music was youth oriented with a hard driving rock beat which melted into smooth spirit lifting worship songs. LeeElla led the singing with a mix of songs that set the mood and warmed the heart as only LeeElla can do.

The speakers this year were Eric on Friday night and Scott Gull’ey the balance of the three sessions. Eric led out with a message on Sampson, and the series of events that led to his ultimate bondage, his plea to God while bound, blinded and controlled. With his mercy plea God began a restoration in his soul and in his death he gained more victory than in his life. It was a stirring, passionate, relevant message that started Blaze out with altars full, tears flowing and true church ministry at its best. I sat somewhere between prayer and spectator, eyes brimming as I watched the Holy Spirit cause a meltdown in hearts. It is always a moment of pride when I see Eric preach. In my opinion, he has developed into a hold your attention, impassioned orator.
As Eric went from person to person lined at the altar, it was a most sacred experience. Eric stopped at one young man, slight of build, maybe 15, and Eric began to pray, then as the emotions ran hot and tears flowed from both, Eric was forced to halt for the tears choking his voice. As composure came, he continued and then continued down the line speaking into the lives of penitent and seekers. For an hour church leaders, the visiting speaker, and Eric hugged, spoke to, prayed and wept with the youth as all were bathed in a Holy Spirit embrace. Holy ground, holy ground…..

The second session, by Scott Gull’ey, was about the death of Jesus at Gethsemane. His point; the decisions to die are made at Gethsemane, or our prayer closets, not at the hour of testing. Jesus laid his life down at Gethsemane not at the cross. He faced the cross with a previously determined will prepared in Gethsemane. Powerful and convicting.

Scott’s second message on “When the Lion Roars” was another penetrating message about how the children of God, when faced with the Roar of Satan, can step up in faith and anointing to do battle and as Sampson, rend in two the devil.
Scott, preaching with power, humor and anointing, always using his unique terms like; issues that cause tissues, we all have Junk in the Trunk, and repentance that cleansed him and he ain’t a ho no mo!

Scott’s third message was at Eric’s new church and focused on the need of faith in this new venture.

There was also a teaching on personal purity led by Jackie, for the women and two Christian brothers named Jason for the guys. I did not attend either but the reports were that they both were powerful and relevant, reaching deep within those in attendance.

Blaze, a mixture of passion, humor, conviction, revelation, worship, salvation and repentance. The epicenter of what God is doing.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

When aspiring to the highest place,
it is honorable to reach the second
or even the third rank.
The common problem, yours, mine, every one’s,
Is, not to fancy what were fair in life
Provided it could be,
but, finding first, what may be,
then find out how to make it fair
up to our means;
a very different thing.
Robert Browning.

Blind to our Faults

Fenelon -Letters of Love and Counsel

But note well for your comfort that we only see our faults for what they are when we are recovering from them. It is only when we have no wish for improvement that we are incapable of seeing how fundamentally rotten we are : it constitutes that state of blindness, presumption and insensitiveness which delivers us over to our own devices. A man who lets himself be carried along by the current of a stream has no idea how swiftly it is running; it is only when he begins to struggle against it that he realizes its strength. ---- pg. 19

Pimps of Pleasure

I like to read old Christian literature because so many of the things were written before our culture became desensitized to vices we rarely raise an eyebrow at today. Much was written on the theater of old. If these authors were to see all that’s offered on the big screen or through video today, I think they would mourn for the “advancements.”
This short essay was written to the youth living in the country, where 70% of the population resided at the turn of the 20th century, and the exposure to the theater would only take place on those rare trips to the city to sale their produce etc.
None the less, the principles of evil are the same and in the following quote it’s obvious that the issues were the same though the degree of graphic lewdness before this century were no more than “tarts and cheesecake.”

Pimps of pleasure
"Here is pleasure, all flushed in its gayest, boldest, most fascinating forms; and few there be who can resist its wiles, and fewer yet who can yield to them and escape ruin.
If you would pervert the taste- go to the theater. If you would drink in false views-go to the theater. If you would efface as speedily as possible all qualms of conscience—go to the theater.
If you would put yourself irreconcilably against the spirit of virtue and religion- go to the theater. If you would be infected with each particular vice in the catalog of Depravity- go to the theater. Let parents, who wish to make their children weary of home and quite domestic enjoyments, take them to the theater. If it be desirable for the young to loathe industry and informative reading, and burn for fierce excitements, and seek them by stealth or through pilferings, if need be- send them to the theater.
It is notorious that the bill of fare at these temples of pleasure is made up to the taste of the lower appetites; that low comedy, and lower farce, running into absolute obscenity,
And are the only means of filling the house. Theaters which would exhibit nothing but the classic Drama, would exhibit it to empty seats. They must be corrupt to live; and those who attend them will be corrupted."

When you read a blazing attack on an industry which most of us were nursed on from the cradle, and today has so many creative ways to bring the theater into our homes, it seems harsh or overstated. Or does it?