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.