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.........