Saturday, December 29, 2007

What's next?

"Man is great only in his transitions. The truest state of mind, rested in, becomes false." Emerson

When I read this it reminded me of a conversation I had last week about change and what comes next? These are thoughts we all have and often we draw back and take comfort in what is, although we hear an inner call to step out. Something like that, anyway, this quote about covers it. Now of course we resist change, or like Mark Twain said-"Nobody likes change but a wet baby."

Sunshine at the fireside

I came across the following thought, author unknown, likely story; anyway, it can be applied to either sex, but it carries with it a strong warning to find the right person when considering a life-long mate.

"The more affectionate and doting, a woman is the worse for her husband, unless he be a saint. Were she a termagant (loud and violent), he could harden himself against her, but when she coaxes and cries like Sampson's wife, in the nine cases out of ten he will do what Lygate did when he married Rosamond Vincy--
give up all his ambition for study, stifle the voice of his conscience when it demands sacrifice, and devote himself to gaining the wherewithal to keep sunshine at his fireside by the unlimited indulgence of a frivolous woman's fancy."

No question, life is a balancing act, but there are some battles that must be fought and they will intrude on our home life. If a man and wife are in the battles together, it is a stronger chord, but if not, much will be left undone.

Some Christian History

China a century ago: The Boxer Rebellion
"Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you,and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Mans sake.Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!For indeed your reward is great in heaven." Luke 6:22-23

What Was The Boxer Rebellion? "...188 foreign missionaries and more than 32,000 faithful Chinese believers were butchered simply because they were Christians. ... This is not simply the story of cruelty and death, but more a testimony of God's people staying true to their Savior despite desperate circumstances.
"The Chinese view the 1800s as the most degrading and humiliating time in their long history. The Japanese, British, Dutch, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russians and other countries had seized Chinese land by military power, and were raping China of its wealth and natural resources.
"It was in this atmosphere that a secret Chinese society, known as The Boxers, was born.... Working behind the scenes, the Boxers grew rapidly in influence until they had members in every part of the country.
"In the last few years of the 1890s foreign missionary activity became more and more difficult, and Chinese Christians were persecuted and accused of being 'running dogs' for the Western Imperialists. Something was about to erupt.... In June 1900 one observer noted,
'Crazed mobs rampaged through the cities of north China, looting and burning churches and the homes of missionaries and Chinese Christians. They were led by bare-chested fanatics called Boxers who brandished long-curving swords and cried for the heads and hearts of Christians and missionaries."[1-page 15]
"...Chinese Christians were forced to kneel and drink the blood of the many foreigners who had been beheaded. Some also had crosses burned into their foreheads. One Chinese Christian mother and her two children were kneeling before the executioner when a watcher suddenly ran and pulled the children back into the anonymity of the observing crowd. ...the mother went to her death because she would not deny her Lord. A quick flash of steel, and the executioner's sword separated her head from her body, and her soul from this world into the presence of her loving God." [See the rest of the story and other testimonies at Asia Harvest]
The Boxer Rebellion exploded in early 1900. Like countless other brave Chinese Christians, a pastor refused to deny His faith in Jesus Christ. The enraged mob cut off his eyebrows, ears and lips. When he still remained "uncooperative," the furious mob cut out his heart and displayed it for the public.
His brave fourteen-year-old daughter followed his footsteps. After watching her father choose a torturous death rather than betray the God he loved, she could only do the same. Bravely she stood her ground through the terrifying test and died as a martyr for her King. Like her father, she won the reward of eternal glory and joy with her beloved Friend who first gave His life for them....
The details of these atrocities are documented in the revealing book, By Their Blood, by James & Marti Hefley. It tells us that in 1900, almost 170 Chinese had committed their lives to Jesus and served Him in Tsun-hua. When the Boxers swept through their land intent on stamping out the "White Devils," almost all were killed. When a pastor was tied to a pillar inside a pagan temple, he preached to his captors and friends all night. In the morning, "a thousand-strong mob "descended on him and literally tore out his heart." [1-page 15]
The same crowd chopped the feet off a Christian Chinese teacher who refused to renounce Christ -- then ran a sword through her. Another teacher was burned alive as she shouted to her pupils, "Keep the faith!" [1-page 16]
When violence broke out in June, the missionary compounds in Taiyuan were torched. The believers -- Chinese and Western together - linked hands and sought temporary refuge in a Baptist boys' school. One missionary realized that two Chinese girls were left behind, so she ran back to rescue them. The girls had managed to escape from their building, but the mob forced the lone missionary back into the blazing house. The girls she come to save watched her kneel in the midst of the flames. [1-page 20]

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I watched a movie Called "The Namesake". It is the story of an Indian woman who is given in marriage to an Indian man who lives in the US. It painfully portrays her life in America and gives one a true sense of the loss one feels as an immigrant. If you have an interest in how refugees, and immigrants feel coming to America, and leaving their families and culture behind, I strongly recommend this film.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

No defense against reproach but obscurity

I read this piece the other day and just thought I'd post it for all the people that are in ministry or other prominent positions; hopefully to find some comfort in it.

"Censure," says a late ingenious author, "is the tax a man pays to the public for being eminent." It is a folly for an eminent man to think of escaping it, and a weakness to be affected with it. All the illustrious persons of antiquity, and indeed of every age in the world, have passed through this fiery persecution. There is no defence against reproach but obscurity....... If men of eminence are exposed to censure on one hand, they are as much liable to flattery on the other. If they receive reproaches which are not due them, they likewise receive praises which they do not deserve. In a word, the man in a high post is never regarded with an indifferent eye, but always considered as a friend or an enemy.

Children or idiots--

“There is nothing which we receive with so much reluctance as advice. We look upon the man who gives it to us as offering an affront to our understanding, and treating us like children or idiots. We consider the instruction as an implicit censure, and the zeal which any one shows for our good on such an occasion, as a piece of presumption or impertinence.
The truth of it is, the person who pretends to advise, does, in that particular, exercise a superiority over us, and can have no other reason for it, but that, in comparing us with himself, he thinks us defective either in our conduct or our understanding. “ Addison

I don’t know when I have read anything so directly on target. This is so common as to be seen nearly every day in one way or another. Whether it is a commentary on the day’s news, an insight into a behavior, or simply the stroke of a pool cue, we resist advice. This is what perplexes teachers and preachers, moms and dads, and anyone who may have a friendly word of advice or warning.
Certainly one of the reasons the “meek with Inherit the earth,” is because they won’t be dashed to smithereens by avoiding good advice and listening to wise counsel.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Loss of childhood

This was one of my very early posts. I am re-posting it because I came across this picture by Bob Beyerley that captures the subject so well.

"I remember with entire distinctness the moment when the consciousness possessed me that my childhood was transcended by dawning manhood, and I can never forget the pang that moment brought me. It was on a bright, moonlight night, in midwinter, when my mates, boisterous with life, were engaged in there usual games in the snow, and I had gone out expecting to share in their enjoyment. I had not played, or rather tried to play, five minutes before I found that there was nothing in the play for me -- that I had absolutely exhausted play as the grand pursuit of my life. Never since has the wild laugh of boyhood sounded so vacant and hollow, as it did to me on that night. In an instant, the invisible line was crossed which separated a life of purely animal enjoyment from a life of moral motive and responsibility, and intellectual action and enterprise. The old had passed away, and I had entered that which was new; and I turned my steps homeward, leaving behind me all my companions, to spend a quiet evening in the chimney-corner, and dream of the realm that was opening before me. Such a moment as this comes really, though not always consciously, to every man and woman. Today we are children; tomorrow we are not. Today we stand in life's vestibule; tomorrow we are in the temple, awed by the sweep of the arches over us, humbled by the cross that fronts us, and smitten with the mysteries that breathe upon us from the choir, or gaze at us from the flaming windows. --- Timothy Titcomb "Lessons in Life"

I had considered adding some thoughts to this but his thoughts are complete, so I'll not.

Joy of children

"No man can tell but he that loves his children, how many delicious accents make a man's heart dance in the pretty conversations of those dear pledges; their childishness, their stammerings, their little angers, their innocence, their imperfections, their necessities, are so many little emanations of joy and comfort to him that delights in their persons and society.
But he that loves not his wife and children feeds a lioness at home, and broods a nest of sorrows; and blessing itself cannot make him happy; so that all the commandments of God enjoining a man to love his wife are nothing but so many necessities and capacities of joy. She that is loved is safe, and he that loves is joyful."
Jeremy Taylor

Picture by Bob Beyerley

There's a great tool on the Prevention Magazine web-site. Under weight loss, there is a daily calorie counter. You put in the weight you would like to be, then your height, age, sex, activity level and then it calculates how many calories you should eat a day to maintain that weight. It surprised me how many calories I can eat a day. Here's an example--

For a male that is 6'2" 37 years old, lightly active and say wanted to weigh 210 pounds-- His daily calorie intake should be 2,726 calories.

It is nearly impossible to be the weight you want to be and not know how many calories you should eat a day. This tool makes it simple. Handy huh?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Buried in the forehead

Often young Christians here amazing stories how someone was saved in a most dramatic way and they can scarcely remember when they did not believe or if later in life they became a Christian, there was no dramatic salvation. I have known some that this troubled. In reading I found this addressed in a sermon by Thomas Guthrie, a Scottish preacher that covers the subject well---

“On these subjects the experience of saints is very different. Some can tell the time of it—giving day and date, the hour, the providence, the place, the text, the preacher, and all the circumstances associated with their conversion. They can show the arrow which shot from some bow drawn at a venture, pierced the joints of their armor, and quivered in their heart. They can show the pebble from the brook, that, slung, it may be, by a youthful hand, but directed of God, was buried in the forehead of their giant sin.
They can show the word that penetrated their soul, and ---in some truths of Scripture – the salve that healed the sore, the balm that stanched the blood and the bandage that Christ’s own kind hand wrapped on the bleeding wound. Able to trace the steps and whole progress of their conversion--- in its most minute and interesting details--- they can say with David, “ Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.”

It is not so, however, with all, or perhaps, with most. Some, so to speak, are still-born; they were unconscious of their change; they did not know when or how it happened; for a while at least, they gave hardly a sign of life. With many the dawn of grace is, in more respects than one, like the dawn of day. We turn our face to the east, and our back to the setting stars, to note the very moment of the birth of morning; yet how hard it is to tell when and where the first faint, cold, steel-gray gleam appears! It is so with many in regard to their spiritual dawn, -- with the breaking of an eternal day, -- with their first emotions of desire and of alarm, as with that faint and feeble streak, which brightened, and widened, and spread, till it blazed into a brilliant sky.”

No question there are these two types of conversion, and I have always wondered if God uses the more dramatic experience, for that soul that is less sure, more apt to wander, and needs something of a more tangible experience to stick in their mind of faith. Whether that’s true or not, He uses whatever means are necessary, of that I’m sure.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"sinless state"

I had a conversation the other day about the stringent demands of some scriptures and how they are beyond our capabilities. How do we look at those texts that demand, seemingly, more than we can live up to. The following paragraph came to my mind and after some searching I found it. I find comfort in this perspective and although it is not the total answer, I think it has a great deal of wisdom in it

"Now, if God did proceed against us as we do against one another, no man could abide innocent for so much as one hour. But God’s judgment is otherwise; he inquires if the heart be right, if our labor be true, if we love no sin, if we use prudent an efficacious instruments to mortify our sin, if we go about our religion as we go about the biggest concerns of our life, if we be sincere and real in our actions and intentions. For this is what God requires of us all; this is that “sinless state,” in which if God does not find us, we shall never see his glorious face; and if he does find us, we shall certainly be saved by the blood of Jesus. For, in the style of scripture, “to be sincere and be without offence,” is all one.
Thus David spake heartily, , “I am utterly purposed that my mouth shall not offend; and thou shalt find no wickedness in me.” He that endeavors this, and hopes this, and does actions and uses means accordingly, not being deceived by his own false heart, nor abused by evil propositions, -- this man will stand upright in the congregations of the just; and, though he cannot challenge heaven by merit, yet he shall receive it as a gift by promise and grace.
For God makes no judgment of us by any measures, but of the commandment without and the heart and the conscience within; but he never intended his laws to be a snare to us, or to entrap us with consequences and dark interpretations, by large deductions and witty similitudes of faults; but he requires of us a sincere heart, and a hearty labor in the work of his commandments; he calls upon us to avoid all that which his law plainly forbids, and which our consciences do condemn. This is the general measure".

"To be sincere and be without offense," or to be sincere is the "sinless state," not that we have no sin, but that our weaknesses are pardoned, when we seek after God with a sincere heart.
I think this is about as close to the truth as one can come.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The two languages we speak

I was reading a sermon by Horace Bushnell, I have never read him before but this one on, how we influence others, I found interesting.

“ The law of human influence is deeper than many suspect, and they lose sight of it altogether. The outward endeavors ( he means speech ) made by good men or bad to sway others, they call their influence; whereas it is, in fact, but a fraction, and, in most cases, but a very small fraction, of the good or evil that flows out of their lives.
Nay, I will even go further. How many persons do you meet, the insensible influence of whose manners and character is so decided as often to thwart their voluntary influences; so that, whatever they attempt to do, in the way of controlling others, they are sure to carry the exact opposite of what they intend! And it will generally be found that, where men undertake by argument or persuasion to exert a power, in the face of qualities that make them odious or detestable, or only not entitled to respect, their insensible influence will be too strong for them. The total effect of the life is then of a kind directly opposite to the voluntary endeavor; which, of course, does not add so much as a fraction of it”.

Stay with me now, he explains a little further—

“I call your attention, next, to the twofold powers of effect and expression by which man connects with his fellow man. If we distinguish man as a creature of language, and thus qualified to communicate himself to others, there are in him two sets or kinds of language, one which is voluntary in the use, and one that is involuntary; that of speech in the literal sense, and the other, that expression of the eye, the face, the look, the gait, the motion the tone or cadence which is sometimes called the ‘natural language of sentiments’. This ‘Natural language’ too, is greatly enlarged by the conduct of life, that which, in business and society, reveals the principles and spirit of men. Speech, or voluntary language, is a door to the soul that we may open or shut at will; the other is a door that stands open evermore, and reveals to others constantly and often very clearly, the tempers, tastes, and motives of their hearts. Within, as we may represent, is character, charging the common reservoir of influence and through these twofold gates of the soul, pouring itself out on the world. Out of one it flows at choice, and whensoever we purpose to do good or evil to men. Out of the other it flows each moment, as light from the sun and propagates itself in all beholders”.

Okay, let me see if I can explain how this affected me; I tried to think of a scripture that clearly describes this “natural language” and the only one that came to mind is in Isaiah 3:16—
“Moreover, the Lord said, “Because the daughters of Zion are proud, and walk with heads held high and seductive eyes, and go along with mincing steps, and tinkle the bangles on their feet.”

This is an example of the “natural language”, now these women may speak words of humility, or spirituality, but their “natural language” contradicts it.
Although this example is blatant, I think the author was trying to speak more to subtleties, the kinds that betray the soul, though we may think they are invisible.

T. DeWitt Talmage gives another example of bold “Natural Language” in this passage—

“But when I see a woman of unblushing boldness, loud-voiced, with a tongue of infinite clitter-clatter, with arrogant look, passing through the streets with a masculine swing, gaily arrayed in a very hurricane of millinery…..”

Now forgive me for giving two female examples they were first to come to mind.
Certainly this is not gender specific, I think rather men are the greater offenders but the point is that we can go through life with a “Natural Language” that is contradicting our words and be completely oblivious to it, because it is the true state of the soul.
The true state of the soul is our greatest testimony, for or against Christ.
I found that quite humbling.
I posted this picture as an example of how vividly thoughts are conveyed without words.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Well, I received my first Christmas card! My grandson Micah drew this just for me. He is coming to visit for Christmas and I can't wait to see him and thank him for his picture!!!!!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

At thirty, man suspects himself a fool;

At forty, knows it, and reforms his plan;

At fifty, chiding infamous delay,

Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve.

In all this magnanimity of thought

Resolves, and re-resolves; then dies the same.

Edward Young

Take a Load Off Your Ticker

Never, ever, get cocky about your heart health. You can ace your cholesterol test and still end up clutching your chest. While analyzing the medical histories of more than 300,000 adults, Dutch researchers discovered that just 5 pounds of extra weight increases your heart-attack risk by 20% -- even if you don't smoke and your blood cholesterol are at safe levels. 'Stored fat produces inflammatory chemicals that damage blood vessels and alter blood makeup, promoting clots.' says study author Rik Rogers, PH.D.

The good news is that within all berries, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes are heart protecting components that help your body prevent clots, as well as fighting cancer and every other ailment.
So, eat a handful of nuts a day, six servings of either fruits or vegetables, more if you like, and you will have little room for killing foods. I can't believe I've heard we need six servings of fruits and vegetables a day and never took the advice. I'm gonna do it!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

'So run'

I wondered if John Bunyan’s sermon “The Heavenly Footman”, was as good as I remembered it from years past. Sometimes you go back and find you have outgrown what once seemed like perfection. But few preachers can lay open bare one’s soul as quickly as John Bunyan. He can wound and then dress the wound like few others.
I began reading the opening statements as his earnest warnings began to flow I knew I was up for some growth this morning. I’ll write a few paragraphs so you can get the flavor---

The Heavenly Footman

"So run that ye may obtain." 1 Cor. 4:24

Heaven and happiness is that which every one desireth, insomuch that the wicked Balaam could say, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.” Yet, for all this, there are but very few that do obtain that ever-to-be-desired glory, insomuch that many eminent professors drop short of a welcome from God into this pleasant place.
The apostle, therefore, because he did desire the salvation of the souls of the Corinthians, to whom he writes this epistle, layeth them down in these words such counsel which, if taken, would be for their help and advantage.

First. Not to be wicked, and sit still, and wish for heaven; but to run for it.
Secondly. Not to content themselves with every kind of running, but, saith he, “So run that ye may obtain.” As if he should say, some, because they would not lose their souls, they begin to run betimes, they run apace, they run with patience, they run the right way.
Do you so run? Some run from both father and mother, friends and companions, and thus, they may have the crown. Do you so run? Some run through temptations, afflictions, good report, evil report, that they may win the pearl. Do you so run?
“So run that ye may obtain.”

Okay, after I read the first two paragraphs I realized I had better roll up my sleeves and brace myself for a barbed arrow has left the bow and doubtless I was the target. I was ready to cry Uncle and the sermon had scarcely begun!
I half considered exchanging this sermon for one on how broad the narrow road really is, but decided to take my medicine and venture on to the next page.

“They that will have heaven, they must run for it; because the devil, the law, sin, death, and hell follow them. There is never a poor soul that is going to heaven, but the devil, the law, sin, death, and hell, make after that soul. And I will assure you, the devil is nimble, he can run apace, he is light of foot, he hath overtaken many, he hath turned up their heels, and hath given them an everlasting fall. Also, the law, that can shoot a great way, have a care thou keep out of the reach of those great guns, the ten commandments. Hell also hath a wide mouth; it can stretch itself farther than you are aware of. And as the angel said to Lot, “Take heed look not behind thee, neither tarry thou in all the plain” (that is, anywhere between this and heaven ), “lest thou be consumed;” so say I to thee, Take heed, tarry not, lest either the devil, hell, or the fearful curses of the law of God, do overtake thee, and throw thee down in the midst of thy sins, so as never to rise and recover again. If this were well considered, then thou, as well as I, would say, They that will have heaven must run for it.”

Bunyan goes on and lays out the “Way”, and lest you faint, I will include where he dresses the wounds he so intently administered.

Overcoming discouragement—
“In the next place, be not daunted though thou meetest with ever so many discouragements in thy journey thither. That man that is resolved for heaven, if Satan cannot win him by flatteries, he will endeavor to weaken him by discouragements; saying, Thou art a sinner, thou hast broken God’s law, thou art not elected, thou comest too late, the day of grace has passed, God doth not care for thee, thy heart is naught, thou art lazy, and with a hundred other discouraging suggestions. And thus it was with David, where he saith, “ I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the loving-kindness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
As if he should say, the devil did so rage, and my heart was so base, that had I judged according to my own sense and feeling, I had been absolutely distracted; but I trusted to Christ in the promise, and looked that God would be as good as his promise, in having mercy upon me, an unworthy sinner; and this is that which encouraged me, and kept me from fainting. And thus must thou do when Satan, or the law, or thy own conscience, do go about to dishearten thee, either by the greatness of thy sins, the wickedness of thy heart, the tediousness of the way, the loss of outward enjoyments, the hatred that thou wilt procure from the world or the like; then thou must encourage thyself with the freeness of the promises, the tender-heartedness of Christ, the merits of his blood, the freeness of his invitations to come in, the greatness of the sin of others that have been pardoned, and that the same God, through the same Christ, holdeth forth the same grace as free as ever.
If these be not thy meditations, thou wilt draw very heavily in the way to heaven, if thou do not give up all for lost, and so knock off from following any farther; therefore, I say, take heart in thy journey, and say to them that seek thy destruction, “Rejoice not against me, O my enemy, for when I fall I shall arise, when I sit in darkness the Lord shall be a light unto me.”
So run.

So, there you have it, a few snippets from The Heavenly Footman.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Remembering Thailand

It’s been three weeks since I returned home from Thailand. I should have sat down when I first got home and wrote while I was still under the spell of exotic Thailand. Thailand rapts one away with its intoxicating charms. It is a land of many sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Whether I was walking down a small town street or in a tiny village, there is a never ending array of sights. The people are simple, busy about making a living in any way they can. They are industrious and are free to go into any kind of business they can without government interference. Matt and I were sitting in a street side café when a man in his eighties walked by with a handful of baskets in his hand. The kind you might find bread sticks in when dining; When he passed by again I motioned him over to us and Matt asked him if he was selling them and how much. He was thrilled at our interest and told Matt he bought them for seven Baht and sells them for ten Baht. Seven Baht is about twenty two cents. I asked if I might buy a couple, which he promptly laid down and I paid him. He continued to talk with Matt for a minute or two, with much enthusiasm and many smiles. He was tall and thin with a rugged appearance. He then went on his way with a few baskets left. Not long after he walked by with all his baskets sold, he looked over at us and gave us a thumbs up signifying his successful marketing.
We also met another woman, very old, in the farmers market area with two large baskets, each one hanging from a 4’ stick, they were filled with herbs she was selling. Matt’s wife Thanita went over to her and bought a variety from her. Thanita told me later that she offered the woman more than she asked but the woman politely declined. I admired her dignity.

Floating Market

We visited the floating market where down narrow waterways, merchants bring their canoes filled with food, goods and woks, where they will cook your meal on the water and pass it to you by long-handled baskets

When I was at the floating market, a woman about 35 and her child, came up to me offering a beeswax looking product. I had no idea what it was and when she saw I was perplexed, she dabbed a bit on my temples and the back of my neck and began giving me a shoulder and neck massage. I sat there, not truly knowing what was going on, and enjoyed the massage and when she finished I gave her some money, she smiled and walked away. I was told later she sold massage oil? Beats me but later when she saw my wife Sue fanning herself and I had no fan, she brought me one to use as we waited for our ride.
She seemed to have no agenda other than to be nice. She was.

Thailand's spell

Much of my trip was spent simply under the spell of Thailand, art galore, an unending display of markets, far more than you ever have energy to explore, filled with handmade goods. Farmers markets with such an array of foods, Thailand is know to have the biggest variety of food in the world, and yes, I did eat an insect, a cricket. I had to choose from large larvae, huge roaches, grasshoppers, beetles and crickets. I thought the cricket seemed the most harmless and probably would be salty and crunchy—wrong! They have a very distinct taste, a taste that ten minutes of swigging iced coffee couldn’t remove. But I did it, once.
Little hidden restaurants, in out of the way places, more like gardens than eateries. Highways with heavy traffic that rival any large US city but jolted back to Asia by the presence of a man riding an elephant down the street.
Ethnic clothing nothing short of a riot of color with jewelry hand beaten out of silver adorning the wearer.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Your Thirties

The Metabolic rate that allowed you to burn through supersize burritos in your 20s is slowing-- dropping by 1 percent every 4 years. And even if the number on your scale isn't rising, it's likely you're getting fatter. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists found that men who managed to maintain their weight for 40 years still gained 3 pounds of fat each decade-- while losing 3 pounds of muscle. The likely reason: after you pass 30 your testosterone levels decrease by up to 1 percent a year. This means it becomes harder for you to build , or even maintain, metabolism boosting muscle. See the connection?
Men's Health

Monday, November 26, 2007

Chariot of the Devil

Ps. 120:2 "Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips..."

I read this little blurb from Edward Reyner, out of the Treasury of David. Such poignant language!

An unbridled tongue is the chariot of the Devil, wherein he rides in triumph. Mr. Greenham doth describe the tongue prettily by contraries, or diversities; "It is a little piece of flesh, small in quantity, but mighty in quality; it is soft, but slippery; it goeth lightly, but falleth heavily; it striketh soft, but woundeth sore; it goeth out quickly, but burneth vehemently; it pierceth deep, and therefore not healed speedily; it hath liberty granted easily to go forth, but it will find no means easily to return home; and once inflamed with Satan's bellows, it is like the fire of hell."

The course of an unruly tongue is to proceed from evil to worse, to begin with foolishness, and go on with bitterness, and to end in mischief and madness. See Eccles. 10:13 The Jew's conference with our Savior began with arguments; "We be Abraham's seed," said they, etc.; but proceeded to blasphemies; "Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" and ended in cruelty; "Then they took up stones to cast him out." Jn. 8 - 33,48,59

This also is the base disposition of a bad tongue to hate those whom it afflicts. Prov. 26:28

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Life is but an empty dream

One of my favorite scriptures of late is Psalm 45:1
“My heart is stirred by a noble theme”.

My Godly ambitions are like the tide with ebb and flow. I seem to be in a continual state of need; need of a noble theme to urge me along to fulfill my responsibilities in life. When I was in my twenties someone told me, “Life expects more from us than we are willing to give”. I have found that to be true. I may be more stubborn than the common lot, but I find that if I don’t have a combination of prayer, Bible reading and inspirational thought, whether it is from pulpit or pages, I begin the easy slide backwards. I think Paul mirrors the thought of David in Philippians 4:8 as he sums up how to live at the level we have already attained.”……..Think about such things”. So whether deeply spiritual or highly practical, I seek the noble theme.
With that I’ll pass along these thoughts from a book called “Beaten Paths”…

"You can always forecast the future of a young man by his disposition and ability to overcome circumstances. If he dreads trouble, if he shirks hard work, if he is continually stipulating for the least amount of labor and the greatest amount of remuneration, if he seeks the easiest, softest places in life, and looks for success to “turn up” through some favorable freak of fortune, he is almost sure to be a nobody as long as he lives. But where a young fellow takes hold of his work, resolved not to spare himself, but to win an honorable place against all costs and obstacles, that young man is going up, and no power on earth can keep him down."

These sentiments were put to poem by Longfellow---

“Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
‘Life is but an empty dream!’
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not the goal;
‘Dust thou art, and dust returnest,’
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Finds us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, -- act in the living present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate,
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.”
By the way, the pictures are of two warriors, the girl is the church, the other a decorated English officer

Thursday, November 22, 2007

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

I like the way Orison S. Marden puts flesh to this verse with some practical applications in his chapter “Useful obstacles”. –

“Will he not make a great painter?” was asked in regard to an artist fresh from his Italian tour. “No, never,” replied Northcote, “Why not?” “Because he has an income of six thousand pounds a year.” In the sunshine of wealth a man is, as a rule, warped too much to become an artist of high merit. He should have some great thwarting difficulty to struggle against. A drenching shower of adversity would straighten his fibers out again.
The best tools receive their temper from fire, their edge from grinding; the noblest characters are developed in a similar way. The harder the diamond, the more brilliant the luster, and the greater the friction necessary to bring it out.
Only its own dust is hard enough to make this most precious stone reveal its full beauty.
The spark in the flint would sleep forever but for friction; the fire in man would never blaze but for antagonism.
From an aimless, idle, and useless brain, emergencies often call out powers and virtues unknown and unsuspected. How often we see a young man develop astounding ability and energy after the death of a parent, or the loss of fortune, or after some other calamity has knocked the props and crutches from under him.
The prison has roused the slumbering fire in many a noble mind. “Robinson Crusoe” was written in prison. The “Pilgrims Progress” appeared in Bedford Jail, Sir Walter Raleigh wrote “The History of the World” during his imprisonment of thirteen years. Luther translated the Bible while confined in the Castle of Wartburg. For twenty years Dante worked in exile, and even under sentence of death.

Chickens, hogs and a spinning top

The weekend following my return home from visiting my son Matt in Thailand, I went to a birthday party for a relative held at "Big Al's". This modern recreational wonder, hosts two bowling alleys, countless buzzing, ringing, exploding video games, cakes, pizzas, bubbly drinks of every type. Deafening rock music dancing on multiple huge screens throughout, with enough neon, tinsel, and glitz to put Wally World to envy.

I doubt this would have made the impact if I had not just the week before been, deep in the hills of Thailand, visiting an impoverished Hill Tribe of Hmong people.
The village was silent but for chickens clucking, a few hogs snorting and the peals of laughter from the playing children. I was captivated as the children from this dirt poor village ran and played with such enthusiasm and glee. They spun large wooden tops, ran along-side spoked tires, spinning them with a stick, made mud bridges in the dirt and hunted dauntingly with sling-shots. The little girl in the picture so charmed me with her broad smile and endless giggling and laughter as she demonstrated her prowess with her spinning top. With sunshine in her face, clear mountain air to breath and all of outdoors to run in, it seemed to me she had all the ingredients for childhood happiness.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Masonry Quilt

I took this picture in a garden restaurant while visiting my son Matt in Thailand.
I was looking at the beautiful foliage when I looked at the path I was on and the contrasts and directions of the tiles caught my eye. What was the builder thinking when he laid these differing tiles? Three or four different patterns within a few feet. Was it patch-work or intention? A masonry quilt? The applications are many and I hope you enjoy it as I do.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I was reading in Pushing To The Front in the chapter
called "The Might Of Little Things", where he
encourages us to consider the importance of details
and all the little things that life is made of.
I liked the following illustration--

"I cannot see that you have made any progress since
my last visit," said a gentleman to Michael Angelo.
"But," said the sculptor, "I have retouched this part,
polished that, softened that feature, brought out that
muscle, given some expression to this lip, more energy
to that limb, etc." "But they are trifles!" exclaimed
the visitor. "It may be so," replied the great
artist, "but trifles make perfection, and perfection
is no trifle."

The application of this is endless; our marriage, and how we treat our spouse, our studies, rearing children, our pursuit of holiness, and just about every other life endeavor.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands."

Men have dreamed fascinating dreams of removing the disabilities and limitations of the world and the evils of life, without sorrow.
Poets have pictured earthly paradises, where life would be one long festival,---
"Summer isles of Eden lying in dark purple spheres of sea."

But vain are all such dreams and longings. They are of human, not of Divine origin, and spring from a root of selfishness and not of holiness.
They cannot be realized in a fallen world, full of sorrow because it's full of sin. All blessings in man's economy are got from pains. Happiness is the flower that grows from a thorn of sorrow transformed by man's cultivation. The beautiful myth which placed the golden apples of Hesperides in a garden guarded by dragons, is an allegory illustrative of the great human fact, that not till we have slain the dragons of selfishness and sloth can we obtain any of the golden successes of life. Supposing it were possible we could obtain the objects of our desire without any toil or trouble, we should not enjoy them. To benefit us really, they must be the growths of our own self-denial and labor. And this is the great lesson which the miracles of our Lord, wrought in the manner in which they were unfolded. They teach us that, in both temporal and spiritual things, we should not so throw ourselves upon that providence or grace of God as to neglect the part we have ourselves to act,-- that God crowns every honest and faithful effort of man with success: "Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee."
Hugh Macmillan 1871

I think one of the most perplexing things in Christianity is learning when to let God and when to let man. Some things God will do and some things we will be left to do. If we believe God will do something, and then walk and labor in that belief, I think for the most part, we will not stray far from the path.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Well equipped

Having recently gone to see the Exhibit “Body Worlds”, when I read the following passage it struck me more deeply. Either way, it is a good answer to the young person, or old, who feels as thought they have disadvantage in getting along in this old world.

“Do not say that you no outfit, no capital to start with! Young man, go down to the Mercantile Library and get some books and read of what wonderful mechanism God gave you in your hand, in your foot, in your eye, in your ear; and then ask some doctor to take you into the dissecting-room and illustrate to you what you have read about; and never again commit the blasphemy of saying that you have no capitol to start with. Equipped! Why, the poorest young man in the land is equipped as only the God of the whole universe could afford to equip him.”

I like that last line that begs the admission, ‘how can I say I have no great advantage when I look at this body machine God designed?’ A machine that has limitless physical abilities; but not to be outdone by the even more limitless abilities of the mind. Could we ever ask for a design to get along in this world that would have so many advantages and the designer and builder is God?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

If you get a chance to see the Body Worlds exibit, do it.
I went through the exhibit this weekend and I was facinated. These are real bodies on display.
This is the process where they use a type of plastic to preserve the body. You will see about 20 bodies in different poses and each body is displayed so you can see all throughout the body, the brain, the circulatory system, the skin, the nerves. It is something to see. You can go online to Body Worlds and get a preview, but this is a don't miss.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Get, therefore, skill

"As in searching into any experiments in nature, there is an infinite pleasure that accompanies such a study to them that are addicted thereunto; so to him that hath pleasure in the works of God, and is addicted to spy out his kindness in them, there is nothing so pleasant as the discovery of new circumstances of mercy that render his work "glorious and honorable."

Get, therefore, skill in his dealings with thee, and study thy friends carriage to thee. It is the end why he raised thee up, and admitted thee into friendship with him, to show his art of love and friendship to thee; to show, in a word, how well he could love thee."

Thomas Goodwin

I had to read that a number of times to squeeze out the nectar; here's my take on it. His purpose in calling and saving us is that we may understand this God of love and his many ways of caring and loving us. Goodwin's encouragement for me is to look closely at each person and circumstance of life to see God's hand in it. If we look only to His word for inspiration, and don't look with eyes of faith at all that surrounds us, we will miss and take for granted many things. And, I think, in addition, attribute much of God's blessings to happenstance. When we are around strong Christians, we see how God has taught them many ways to show tenderness and understanding, we feel awed by their sensitivity and their loving ways of acting out these deep truths of God.

I'll get personal now; I was at a gathering after the Memorial for Carissa's father. There was a man there who was a Christian, he was much about sharing Jesus, he was bold and unashamed of the gospel. He was on a mission to pray with every unbeliever there. When he had success, he would come and share the victory. At first my wife was impressed with his open conversation to all. I was also impressed, but not with him, but with my wife. As this man was off and about sharing the gospel, Sue was living it. She had volunteered to do the video, also the program for the service. She attended the video at the service, she talked with the bereaved wife, invited her to our house and made future plans to visit. Made herself friendly to other family members she was introduced to. Played catch with the children, all of which were orphaned. So, now who shared the gospel? Who glorified the Lord? It is an easy question for me.

Goodwin exhorts us to study God's friendship to us; so we may learn how to love, not just speak.

"Philosophy seeks truth, Theology finds it, but Religion possesses it. Human things must be known to be loved, but divine things must be loved to be know." Blaise Pascal

While reading the Treasury of David, by Spurgeon, my eyes fell on the following and thought it was said well.....

"The difference between an unconverted and a converted man is not that one has sins, and the other has none; but that the one takes part with his cherished sins against a dreaded God, and the other takes part with a reconciled God against his hated sins....

It is God's love, from the face of Jesus shining into my dark heart, that makes my heart open to him, and delight to be his dwelling place. The eyes of the just Avenger I cannot endure to be in this place of sin; but the eye of the compassionate Physician I shall gladly admit into this place of disease; for he comes that he may heal such sin-sick souls as mine."
William Arnot

Elsewhere William Howels says..

" It is a solemn fact, that there is not an evil principle in the bosom of the devil himself which does not exist in ours, at the present moment, unless we are fully renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit. That these evil principles do not continually develop themselves, in all their hideous deformity, is entirely owing to the restraining and forbearing mercy of God."

Now, as for myself, I think it is a great mercy that God restrains me. I often forget how difficult all my relationships would be if God did not guide and restrain my human nature. Hopefully, with his continued mercy, at my death there will be some good things done for God, but far more in abundance will be the evil He restrained me from doing.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Eternal Punishing

In most of the churches I have attended, they hold to one point of view about the afterlife for unbelievers; that the punishment is eternal and the punishing goes on eternally.
The following article offers another view of life after death and if you have never read this view, I think you will find it interesting.


Is It Really of God?

THE CONCEPT OF ETERNAL PUNISHMENT though considered by many to be orthodox Christian doctrine, must be Challenged and indeed refuted. Some of its destructive implications are:

+ The character of God is maligned.

+ The devil is exalted and Jesus Christ is
made a failure.

+ Numerous plain statements of scripture
are contradicted.

+ Teachings of some of the most respected
church fathers are contradicted.

+ Like a corrupt tree, it brings forth evil

God's Nature Maligned

God's nature is love (1Jn.4:8, 16)…"agape" love which always seeks the best for others and never ceases until this objective is accomplished. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and never fails (1Cor.13:7,8). God, having perfect foreknowledge in creation, knew that all mankind would follow Adam into sin. Therefore God made provision for man's reconciliation before the foundation of the world (1Ptr.1:19,20). Statisticians tell us that over the past 6,000 years approximately 160 billion people have lived on the earth. The doctrine of "eternal punishment" declares that all who do not believe on Jesus Christ while in their mortal bodies spend eternity in an inescapable, unending hell. If 10% of the earth's people believed on Jesus Christ then the remaining 144 billion must consequently spend eternity being punished. This would mean that God's purpose in creation was eternal punishment for some 144 billion people! Apart from any knowledge of the grace and mercy of God we could hardly say this reflects a God of justice. Having a higher revelation of God's "agape" love, can we now accept this doctrine as being consistent with a God of love?
Yes, our holy and just God does require accountability of man to Himself and does punish man for his sin and rebellion. But, if the punishment is unending then what purpose does it serve? Such behavior by an earthly father would be considered sadism. Is our heavenly Father's love and punishment to be degraded to the level of such an earthly father? No, for though man may fail, God's love never fails. If it did, He would deny Himself.
Exaltation of the Devil
The doctrine of "eternal punishment" makes hell an eternal monument to the devil's works of sin and death. Did Jesus fail at destroying the works of the devil (1Jn.3:8)? Did the first Adam's offense unto condemnation and death for all accomplish "much more" than the last Adam's free gift of grace unto justification for all (Ro.5:15)? Did Jesus tell a lie when He said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto me."? Is the last enemy, death, not destroyed? Are those to whom God becomes "All in all" (1Cor.15:28) only those who managed to escape the devil's clutches? Does every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil.2:11) because God is really like Nebechadnezzer (Dan.3), forcing all into submission without respect to the desire of their heart? If "eternal punishment" is true, then all of the above are true and the devil is exalted.
Contradiction of Scripture
The doctrine of "eternal punishment" contradicts the plain statements of scripture. To profess it is to take "away from the words of the book" (Rev.22:19). This requires us to ignore or revise the following scriptures: Regarding all men: Lk. 2:10; 1Tim.4:10; 1Cor.15:22,23; 1Tim.2:3-6; Rom. 5:17,18; Tit.2:11; Jn.12:32,33; 2Ptr.3:9; Rom.11:26,32; Heb.8:11; Psa.22:27,29. Regarding every man: 1Cor.11:3; Jn.1:9; Heb.2:9; Mk.9:49; Isa.45:23; Phil.2:10, 11; 1Cor.15:23. Regarding all families: Gen.12:3; 28:14; Gal.3:8. Regarding all flesh: Jn.17:2; Joel.2:28; Isa.40:5; Psa.65:2. Regarding all things: Eph.1:9-11; Col.1:20; Rev.21:5; Ac.3:21; Rom.11:36; Heb.1:2; Phil.3:21; 1Cor.15:28; Rev.4:11. Regarding the world: Jn.8:12; 2Cor.5:19; Jn.3:16; Jn.1:29; Jn.4:42; Jn.12:47; Jn.17:21; Isa45:22; Jn.16:33. Regarding the whole world: 1Jn.2:2. Regarding the creation: Mk.16:15; Col.1:23; Rom.8:21; Rev.5:13 Psa.145:8,9. If the doctrine of "eternal punishment" is true, then not one of the above scriptures (and there are many more) can be accepted at face value. God's ability to regenerate the spirit of man and to fulfill His own word is limited by the heartbeat of man.
Distortion in Translation
People insist upon the doctrine of " eternal punishment" because the King James Bible (and others influenced by it) associate the word eternal with punishment and destruction. God raised up scholars to give us concordances, lexicons, and both Greek and Hebrew word studies, because no translation is perfectly true to the original manuscripts. The Christian's surest guide to truth is the Holy Spirit who Jesus said will "teach you all things" (Jn.14:26). The King James Bible translated the Greek noun "aion" and its adjectival form "aionios" variously as world, age, eternal, and everlasting. One word should not be translated to have so many separate meanings when there are specific Greek words with these meanings. World means the material earth on which man lives, and is properly translated in "the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world [kosmos] are clearly seen" (Rom.1:20). Age means an indeterminable period of time which has a beginning and an end, and is properly translated in "the mystery which hath been hid from ages [aion] and from generations"(Col.1:16). Eternal means that which is perpetual, with no beginning and no end, as is properly rendered in "His eternal [aidios] power and Godhead" (Rom.1:20). Please note the Greek word "aidios" which actually means eternal. But "aidios" is never found in relation to punishment of unbelievers.
Some would suggest that the Greek form in which the adjective "aionios" is used allows for the translation "eternal". The most basic laws of grammar prohibit this. A word derived from a parent word cannot have a meaning greater than or different from the parent word. The meaning of the adjective form of a word depends upon and corresponds to the meaning of the noun from which it is derived. As an example, a daily (adjective) paper comes every day (noun) not monthly or hourly.
A reasonable objection may well be "why didn't the King James translators translate "aionios" to be age instead of eternal? Or why does the commonly accepted Vines's expository dictionary (V.E.D) insist that "aionos" means eternal? The beloved brethren who have given themselves to these scholarly pursuits are to be honored, but they, like us, are subject to seeing "through a glass, darkly" (1Cor:13:12). V.E.D. for example, states that the gift of tongues ceased after apostolic times and that both the gifts of knowledge and prophecy are unnecessary since the Holy scriptures are sufficient for guidance, instruction and edification. Mr. Vine's viewpoint is typical of the "fundamentalist" school of theology, which for all practical purposes eliminates the need and expectancy of God's people to hear directly from Him. To the many who have come into the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and today comprise the Pentecostal and charismatic segment of the church, V.E.D. is obviously biased. The gifts of the Holy Spirit did not terminate with the early apostle, but are to be just as much in evidence today. The same kind of prejudice is perpetuated with the doctrine of "eternal punishment." Numerous Greek scholars have sought to bring correction. A sampling of some of their works follows:
Young's Analytical concordance to the Bible, by Robert Young, LL.D.; Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Young's Literal translation of the Holy Bible, by Robert Young, LL.D.;Baker House.
Greek English Concordance, by J.B. Smith; Herald Press.
The Emphasized Bible, by J.B. Rotherham;Kregel Publications.
Concordant Literal New Testament, by the Concordant Publishing Concern.
The Word "Aion"
The word"aion" means age or that which pertains to the ages. Ages have beginnings and endings. Their duration's are for indefinite periods of time. There is no time element to eternity and therefore the word is eternal is totally inappropriate translation. God made the aions: "by whom also He made the worlds [aions]" (Heb.1:2). God is called the God of the aions or the "ever-lasting [aionial] God" (Rom.16:26). There was a time before the aions: "according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world [aionios] began" (2Tim.1:9). We live in the present aion: "Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world [aion]" (Matt.13:39). There is an age after this aion: "it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world [aion], neither in the world [aion] to come. (Matt.13:32).
There are aions to look forward to: "that in the ages [aions] to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace" (Eph.2:7). Jesus reigns to the aion of the aion: "But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever [to the aion of the aion]" (Heb.1:8). At the end of this age: "then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father…then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all" (ICor.15:24,28).
During this time of the aions, Christians have aionial life (Jn.3:16) aionial salvation (Heb.5:9) and an aionial inheritance (Heb.9:15). Presently, Christians have been "sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession" (Eph.1:14-15). There will come a day when Christians no longer have just the earnest, but will receive the full inheritance of true eternal life which is when God becomes "all in all" (1Cor.15:28). In the meantime, there will continue aionial judgment (Heb.6:2) aionial condemnation (Mk.3:29), aionial fire (Matt.25:41) and aionial punishment (Matt.24:26).
Church History
There is no documentation that the church councils of the first four centuries embraced the doctrine of "eternal punishment." The church councils at Nice in A.D. 325, at Constantinople in A.D.381, at Ephesus in A.D.431 and at Chalcedon in A.D.451 never embraced this doctrine. In contrast, there is documented evidence that many church leaders and teachers of the first centuries A.D. wrote acclaiming the doctrine of 'universal salvation or "ultimate reconciliation", none of whom were censored. It was not until 553 A.D. that the Roman Catholic Church denounced the teaching of ultimate reconciliation as heresy. This is the same organization which:
---in the 2nd century started calling it elders "priests"
---in the 3rd century instituted sacerdotal mass, claiming the unbloody sacrifice of Jesus
---in 300 A.D. endorsed prayers for the dead
---in 375 A.D. reverenced angels, dead saints, and images
---in 431 A.D. exalted Mary as the "Mother of God"
---in 526 A.D. instituted extreme unction
---in 533 A.D. renounced the doctrine of ultimate reconciliation
A Wrong Spirit Fostered
The doctrine of "eternal punishment" fosters a self-righteous, vindictive spirit in believers. The psalmist, speaking of idols said, "they that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them" (Psa.115:8). If a Christian has an image or mental picture of god that projects Him as One who writes off those who disregard Him, then that believer similarly tends to reject those who disagree with him. Church history is replete with inquisitions and martyrdom's manifesting this image of God. An extreme example is Queen Mary (1516-1558) of England, who won her title "Bloody Mary" by torturing and murdering non Catholics. She justified her actions, proclaiming "as the souls of heretics are to be hereafter eternally burning in hell, there can be nothing more proper than for me to imitate the divine vengeance by burning them on earth." Bloody Mary's image of God lives on today. Condescending, pharisaical attitudes which continually divide the body of Christ, justify themselves because of a perverted image of God. "My little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen"(1Jn.5:21).
Christianity Degraded
The doctrine of "eternal punishment" aligns Christianity with the pagan religions of the world. Pagan religion recruits and rules its members by fear. The common theme of pagan religion is that non-members displease an angry god and will therefore spend eternity being tortured and tormented in the flames of hell. The pagan god rules by threat and intimidation. Preachers who have to use fear of "eternal punishment" to move people to come to the altar, and Christians who need the doctrine of "eternal punishment" to keep them from falling into sin or to motivate them to evangelism and prayer, sadly reveal their lack of true relationship with the God whose love casts out fear because fear has torment (1Jn.4:18). Is it any wonder that Christianity, whose gospel is the "power of God unto salvation" (Rom.1:16), has made so little impact upon the world's population?
The Conscience Says "No"
The Holy Spirit-illumined conscience is the truest witness of the Holy Spirit. Any doctrine born of God will commend itself to the Christian's conscience. Though many say they believe this doctrine to be true, they very seldom, if ever, preach it, and if they do they will say, "I wish it were not really true or "If I could change it, I would." These or similar statements only reveal the voice of their consciences, which do not find an Amen! To the doctrine of "eternal punishment." you, the reader, test this statement: Say out loud: "Every person who has not believed on Jesus Christ while living in this mortal body on this earth deserves to be eternally punished." What is the witness of your conscience?
Knowing the Father
The central issue is do we really know the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? The Pharisees thought they knew God, and so insisted that Jesus keep the law rather than heal on the Sabbath. James and John though they knew the Lord and that he would approve their request to send down fire from heaven and consume those who would not receive His ministry. Each of these men could draw upon the letter of the scripture to support his beliefs. In the same way many good people have relied upon the letter of the word in justifying "eternal punishment." My appeal to you, the reader, is to distinguish between the letter of the word and the spirit of the word. Examine your own heart as to the nature of God's love and judgments. Is your God the god of eternal punishment? For many years I thought He was, until He challenged me to look again. My prayer is that we may be as Job, who declared, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee." (Job.42:5).
Lee Salisbury, pastor
King Jesus Church, St.Paul, MN.
This pamphlet can be obtained through this email address….. mailto:address…
Kingdom Resources
True Grace Ministries
Sigler Ministries

Saturday, August 04, 2007

" The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." Proverbs 14:1

I remember reading in "The road less travelled" how we are born helpless and without crying and fits we will not be able to communicate. As we mature we leave these methods behind. Or some do. This woman looks back on a life of self induced torment. With her own hands she sought to always have her way and in the end she realizes with her own hands she tore down; and now she sits alone with her two friends, 'wish I had' and 'could have been'.

Death Calling

When I saw this sculpture, and being sixty years old, I didn't relate to the spiritual implications. Trust me at 60 the old malibu isn't running like it used to. As you enter your fifties and sixties, the reality of death enters your ruminations far more.
But the truth is, this picture depicts the struggle of the soul and the relentless pursuit of spiritual death, and is far more relevant. Maybe more in our cultures than many, we will do valiant battle or be overcome. No middle ground in America, the assault is far too aggressive to passively meander the narrow path.
The soul pictured here has allowed herself to wander far too close to darkness and but for a miracle, this soul will be captured and tormented. Resist, but resist before the clutches of evil enfold you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Three headed brute

This excerpt from Alexander Maclaren is well done on the futility of "desire".
...Nothing is more certain than that no one will get the satisfaction that his ruling passions promise him, by indulging them. It is very plain that the way never to get what you need and desire, is always to do what you like.
And that for very plain reasons. Because, for one thing, the object only satisfies for a time. Yesterday's food appeased our hunger for the day, but we awake hungry again. And the desires which are not so purely animal have the same characteristic of being stilled for the moment, and of waking more ravenous than ever. "He that drinketh of this water shall thirst again." Because, further, the desire grows and the object of it does not. The fierce longing increases, and, of course, the power of the thing that we pursue to satisfy it decreases in the same proportion. It is a fixed quantity; the appetite is indefinitely expansible.
And so, the longer I go on feeding my desire, the more I long for the food; and the more I long for it, the less taste it has when I get it. It must be more strongly spiced to titillate a jaded palate. And there soon comes to be an end of the possibilities in that direction. A man scarcely tastes his brandy, and has little pleasure in drinking it, but he cannot do without it, and so he gulps it down in bigger and bigger draughts till delirium tremens comes in to finish it. Because, for another thing, after all, these desires are each but a fragment of whole nature, and when one is satisfied another is baying to be fed. The grim brute, like the watchdog of the old mythology, has three heads, and each gaping for honey cakes. And if they were all gorged, there are other longings in men's nature that will not let them rest, and for which all the leeks and onions of Egypt are not food. So long as these are unmet, you "spend your money for that which is not bread, and you labor for that which satisfieth not."
So, we may lay it down as a universal truth, that whoever takes it for his law to do as he likes will not for long like what he does."

Unreasonable and Unseasonable

“They took him even as he was in the ship… and he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow.” Marc 6:36-38

I’m reading a book of sermons by Alexander Mclaren, D.D., and he brings out the point that the reason that Christ was asleep, and sleeps through the storm, is that he is simply exhausted --- “They took him even as he was into the ship.” And many expositors suppose that in the very form of that phrase there is suggested the extreme of weariness and exhaustion which He suffered, after the hard day’s toil. Whether that be so or no, the swiftness of the move to the little boat, although there was nothing in the nature of danger or of imperative duty to hurry them away, and His going on board without a moments preparation, leaving the crowd on the beach, seems most naturally accounted for by supposing that He had come to the last point of physical endurance, and that His frame, worn out by the hard day’s work, needed one thing – rest.
And so, the next thing we see of Him is that, as soon as He gets into the ship He falls fast asleep….. so tired that the storm does not wake Him.

The author goes on to point out that the book of Marc is a book showing Christ’s servant hood. In addition he points out some of the following regarding Christ arduous ministry —

“ The first of them I would suggest is—how distinctly it gives the impression of swift strenuous work. The narrative of Mark is brief and condensed. We feel all through these earlier chapters at all events, the presence of the pressing crowd coming to Him and desiring to be healed. And but a word can be spared for each incident as the story hurries on, trying to keep pace with His rapid service of quick-springing compassion and under laying help. There is one word which is reiterated over and over again in these earlier chapters, remarkably conveying this impression of haste and strenuous work. Mark’s favorite word is “straightway,” “immediately,” “forthwith,” “anon,” which are all translations of one expression. You will find if you glance over the first, second, or third chapters at your leisure, that it comes in at every turn.
Take these instances which strike one’s eye at the moment, “straightway they forsook their nets;” Straightway he entered into the synagogue;” Immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region;” “ Forthwith they entered into the house of Simon’s mother;” “anon, they tell him of her;” “Immediately the fever left her.” And so it goes on through the whole story, a picture of a constant succession of rapid acts of mercy and love. The story seems, as it were, to pant with haste to keep up with him as He moves among men, swift as the sunbeam, and continuous in the out flow of His love as these unceasing rays! “

….We see in Christ, toil that puts aside the claims o physical wants. Twice in this Gospel we read of this. “The multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.” “There were many coming and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”
We see in Christ’s service a love which is at every man’s beck and call, a toil cheerfully rendered at that most unreasonable and unseasonable times. As I said a moment ago, this Gospel makes you feel, as none other of these narratives do, the pressure of that ever-present multitude, the whirling excitement that there was round the calm center. Even in His solitary prayer He is broken in upon by His disciples, with “All men seek for thee,” and without murmur or a pause, He buckles to His work again, and says, “Let us go into the next towns that I may preach there also; for therefore am I sent.”

I was taken by this because I don’t often see the humanity of Christ in such a relatable way. I always thought He slept in the boat undisturbed by the storm because He was so God-like, not that He was so exhausted. I like that.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Worship Narcissism

The following is a post on my Pastor's blog that I think is one of the most insightful thoughts on worship I have read. He quotes Robert Webber, and his thoughts on worship are what I have stumbled and stammered and have not been able to put into words. He has, and they resonate in me and answer many questions I have had. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Avoiding Worship Narcissism
Reading the latest Relevant Magazine Online, I was intrigued by the writer’s recent experience at a nationwide worship event called TheCall. It is a 12 hour fasting and worship experience, happening in various cities this year, for people “serious about encountering God and changing the world.”
And maybe it is a life changing experience. Maybe it is an event different from so many others, where people come for the mountain top adrenaline rush of a stadium rally. But I wonder how much of what we call worship today, in that context, or in most Sunday services, is really worship. Robert Webber, in one of his last books before his death, Divine Embrace, speaks to the “worship narcissism” prevalent in so many gatherings today, where the main attention is given to seeking some transcendent experience. But under the cover of these words, and more than we realize, our focus is much closer to home--on us and our experience--on our story rather than on God and His story, His purpose for us. And here’s how we can tell if it is located in our story: we leave this gathering asking one another—“Did you like the sound?” “Did you sense the presence of God?” “Did the message speak to you?” “Did you like the worship?”
Maybe we should be asking—did God like our worship? But even this question, according to Webber, misses the point. It misunderstands the purpose of worship. Authentic worship is not about approaching God as the object of worship. It is rather about seeing God as the subject of worship. This statement in itself brings me up short for sure. It causes me to stop and ask myself how often I have entered worship with this perspective. Far more than I would like to admit, I have come in as subject. I have come to ask God to participate in my story. I have come with no expectation God is already actively doing something, asking me to get in step with. I have come consumed with my needs, hoping worship does something for me. If I am moved to get the attention off myself and unto God, even here, God is simply a transcendent being to be adored.
Webber’s point is that if God is the object of worship, then worship must proceed from us. We, then, are the subject of this gathering, and in this, the true worship of God is located in me. But if God is the subject of worship, acting in this world, involved with creation, ruling over the heaven and earth, then we gather to do something else. We come to engage in what He is presently doing, God acting through Word and Spirit, song and sacrament. We come to contemplate and celebrate our present union with Him. We enter, not waiting for something to happen, planned in advance by the worship leader. We enter to continue God’s redemptive story, living out our death and resurrection. We step into His present purposes in community, proclaiming and living out the good news, offering our bodies as living sacrifices, which is our “spiritual act of worship” (Rom. 12:1-2).
It was one of my hopes to meet Webber, who was scheduled to teach a doctoral class for our program, until his illness forced him to cancel. There are a lot of things about worship I would have liked to ask. So I am guessing a bit, but in this final writing, where Webber seems to be gathering the fruit of a lifetime of teaching, he is underscoring--that while there is a “bowing down to adore Him” side of worship (proskuneo), it really isn’t worship if it is not first rooted in His story. It is not worship if it does not generate--at the same time--a participation in community—praying, healing, ministering spiritual gifts, mutually releasing the indwelling Spirit to one another, moving out in a corporate way to advance God’s kingdom and continue the work of Jesus. The early church called this leitergeo, (lit. the “work of the people”), a public works term borrowed from the culture of its day, and it too became a term for worship. This is why worship in its earliest form was called “service”. But “service” today means little more than a time of gathering. And if in that gathering, it is reduced to mere verbal response or singing, treating God as merely one who sits in heaven rather than the God who acts in this world, inviting us to get in step with Him and His story as we enter, then no matter the emotion it generated, something besides worship happened.
July 12, 2007 Permalink

Monday, June 18, 2007

Well, I just returned from Tennessee, first I went to Nashville, the country music capitol of the world, and I heard plenty. I love country music, but when it is piped into every store, elevator, shop and hotel, suffice to say I got my fill. Country music and Elvis are the focal points of Nashville. I like Elvis as well, but frankly, if I don’t see another coffee mug, calendar, shot glass, napkin holder or what ever, with his face on it for a while, I’ll do just fine. The man refuses to die.
I did go into the most famous honky-tonk called Tootsies, and I did hear some of the best guitar picking ever. One guitar player in particular, made you think he could make that guitar do just about anything he wanted it to do, while he was talking or maybe even reading a book, he new his way up and down the neck like he was born with it.

I always try when traveling to show myself extra friendly and talk with locals every chance I get. I find everyone reciprocates and loves to give their insights and interests about their home. I had many enriching conversations and felt I really got the flavor of the south. The weather was in the high eighties to low nineties and somewhat humid, not as bad as it was here last year, but it didn’t slow me down or make it too uncomfortable.
I went to Memphis after my sales work to spend a couple of days with Richard, who moved to Memphis about six months ago to work with his father and learn some mechanical skills. We spent the night in Memphis and most of that on “Beale” St.
Beale street is a three block area where all the music and food is. Lots of out door bands as well as blues clubs. BB Kings restaurant is the most well known and the music was great and the down home southern food is unmatchable. I ate so many ribs and pulled pork sandwiches, I could have sworn I felt a pig-tail developing. The Rendezvous is the most famous rib restaurant in Memphis and the décor is rustic, to understate it. It is down an alley, hidden behind big trash containers. But all the locals are quick to ask if you have eaten there and if not, give you directions.

Oddly enough, one of my favorite times there was sitting in a little park where a band was playing in the distance, and a Rib shopkeeper was firing up his BBQ’s preparing for the late night crowd. There was an older black man waiting patiently for the coals to heat up and enjoy a late night snack. The smoke worked up Richard’s appetite and so we decided to have another dinner. Ribs were six bucks for half a rack. Price was right and while waiting I struck up a conversation with this older man. He was one of four brothers, the oldest at 69. He had another brother 67, 63 and 61. The brother that was 67 lived there in Memphis not two blocks away from him. They were very close. A month ago he went to visit his brother and found him at home dead, with an apparent overdose of insulin, he was diabetic. He disguised his sorrow, but I could tell he was deeply grieved.
We sat and ate ribs and talked about his life for an hour. The weather was warm with a nice breeze coming off the Mississippi River and he talked about how he used to sell cotton candy and candy apples on Beale St. as well as at the county fairs. After our bellies were full and the night was getting late I stood up to leave and told him how nice it was to talk with him and offered him a hand shake. When I loosened my grasp and began to withdraw my hand, he took it again and squeezed it as he looked into my eyes and I suspect inwardly said “thank you, this is just how I spent my evenings with my brother”.
Funny how a little kindness makes a difference.

I think I could live in Memphis, it is warm ten months of the year and the pace is far slower there. Miles of rolling hills with lush deciduous forests; and I’ve always been a sucker for a southern drawl.

I decided not to go to Graceland, but on my last night there while looking for a hamburger stand I drove in front of Graceland. I have seen pictures of Graceland hundreds of times and I had a strange almost haunting spell come over me. Kind of felt a sense of kinship with Elvis at that moment as I overlooked his little piece of heaven on earth. I spent many hours as a boy listening to his music and pouring over pictures of this explosive entertainer.
Kind of had to be there.