Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I put some quotes together about giving that are not often taught, and for me, I agree with them.

He that is in debt is not excused from giving alms till his debts are paid, but only from giving away such amounts which should and would, pay his debts as they are due. We all have crumbs from our table, and the gleanings of the harvest, and the scatterings of the vintage, which in all estates are the portions of the poor, which being collected by the hand of God, and united wisely, may become considerable to the poor, and are the necessary duties of charity.

He that is going to pay a debt, and in the way meets an indigent person that needs all, may not give it to him unless he knows by other means to pay the debt.

Although the things of God are by a necessary zeal to be preferred before the things of the world, yet we must take heed that we do not reckon religion and orders of worshipping only to be ‘things of God’, and all other duties to be the ‘things of the world’; for it was a pharisaical device to cry ‘Corban’, and to refuse to relieve their aged parents: it is good to give to a church, but it is better to give to the poor; and though they must be both provided for, yet in cases of dispute mercy carries the cause against religion and the temple. And although Mary was commended for choosing the better part, yet Mary had done worse if she had been at the foot of her Master when she should have relieved a perishing brother.

The following is a story I posted long ago that illustrates his last point about Mary.

Very beautiful is the legend preserved by some old author, of the monk, to whom there appeared while at prayer in his cell, a glorious vision of his Savior. In silent and adoring rapture he gazed upon the glorious presence. While he gazed, the hour arrived at which it was his duty to feed the poor who came to the convent gate for their bread. The bell rang calling the monk to his humble duty. How he longed to stay! But lingering not to enjoy the vision, he went his way to the lowly work of dividing bread among the poor beggars at the gate. When he returned he found the blessed vision still waiting for him. As he looked again he heard these words; " Hadst thou stayed, I must have fled"!

I suspect any Christian would find this interesting, and the reason I believe it, is, when one incurs debt, he has given his Christian word to pay, if he gives to God before he pays his agreed debts, he is in essence asking his debtor to give to the charity without his consent, and defames the name of Christ by not being trust worthy. Needless to say, one should manage their debts and pay them off as soon as possible thereby freeing up disposable income.

I also agree with the statement that Mercy carries the cause against religion, which is to say, the needs of the poor are first priority, then the church. Not neglecting the church, but if there is only enough for one or the other, the poor are first. Then again, we need to get our financial house in order so neither will be neglected.

What is the Fear of God?

“Fear is the duty we owe to God, as being the God of power and justice, the great Judge of heaven and earth, the avenger of the cause of widows, the patron of the poor, and the advocate of the oppressed, a mighty God and terrible; and so essential an enemy to sin, that He spared not His own Son, but gave Him over to death, and to become a sacrifice, when He took upon Him our nature, and became a person obliged for our guilt. Fear is the great bridle of intemperance, the modesty of the spirit, and the restraint of gaieties and dissolutions; it is the girdle to the soul, and the handmaid to repentance; the arrest of sin, and the cure or antidote to the spirit of reprobation; it preserves our apprehensions of the divine majesty, and hinders our single actions from combining to sinful habits; it is the mother of consideration, and the nurse of sober counsels; and it puts the soul to fermentation and activity, making it to pass from trembling to caution, from caution to carefulness, from carefulness to watchfulness, from thence to prudence; and by the gates and progresses of repentance it leads the soul on to love, and to felicity, and to joys in God, that shall never cease again……”

I don’t much like the word fear, and I hope as not to live in fear, fear of God’s punishment or wrath, but there isn’t much in the above quote that I don’t find applied to my life. Certainly I fear consequences of wrong choices, and I fear losing the joy of the Spirit. I fear that my acts of sin may combine and become habits of destructive behavior. I fear loss; loss of God’s protection, loss of joy, loss of bonds with those I love, loss of intimacy with my spouse, loss of closeness with my children, and loss of security by foolish choices. So, when I think about it, I have lots of fears. Hopefully these fears are “bridles of intemperance”, and “antidotes” against self-destructive choices. Still, all that said, I feel compelled to clarify the word fear; I fear snakes, but it doesn't keep me from a walk in the woods; I fear a car wreck, but drive; I fear falling, so, I just walk a safe distance from the edge. I suppose those fears are similar in degree and emotion as the moral fears.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Thoughts from Psalm 145 and 146

The Lord upholds all who fall, and lifts up all who are bowed down. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

As I read that I thought about a show I watched last night on the poor in America. In particular one little boy about four, homeless, reared by his mother without his father and in my opinion about as hopeless a condition as can be.

When he entered kindergarten he was shown pictures of breakfast, lunch and dinner foods.
He was asked what time of day they were eaten. He never experienced three meals a day and was at a loss as to what he was being asked.
But this little man captured my heart because in the midst of all he lacked, he found things to put a smile on his face and a laugh in his play. I watched as God upheld this boy, how he built him in such a way that this child could find happiness in poverty. His little heart could see good, in so little.
He was shown a room that he and his siblings and mother could stay in; with a bare light bulb, and just the scrub necessities, and he was thrilled, he was so thankful for his new shelter, it was home, nothing more than a large pantry to me, but a paradise to him.
His little bowed down heart was lifted, his simple desires were satisfied.

The Lord is loving toward all he has made, he has planted in the soul of every child the ability to find contentment, sense fulfilled desire, hope when bowed down, and it was a beautiful thing to watch as his little heart swelled with pride mastering a stick drawing or singing a verse.
What a protection God has designed into the hearts of His creatures. It would be unbearable to watch were it not for this indefatigablele spirit.

I watched captivated each time the camera would move in close to capture a spreading smile as his round eyes lit up the room.
I reflected -
The Lord gives sight to the blind. Sight to him, to experience joy in sorrow; and sight in me, to awaken to his need.

As I watched his simple little life and the joys and pleasures he took from the simplest things I began to see how marvelously God weaves compassion into the hearts of men. This too, is God's way of upholding the oppressed. We all care about hurting strangers, unknown to us but deep within us a kinship and we find ourselves moved to action. Surely this is part of what the Bible means when it says; "The Lord watches over the alien."
Lord help me be a greater part of your loving.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

We also served divers lusts.

As an introduction to the post underneath this one, I thought I would post this scripture, which is such a practical admonition on how to approach reaching the world for Christ ---

" Be gentle, showing all meekness unto all men: for we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But, after that, the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared; not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying; and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, in order that they who have believed in God, may be careful to maintain good works, these things are good and profitable to men."

Supporting every probable scheme

I think ‘being all things to all people’ has as much to do with cultures as individuals. In a third word culture it may be that words are more valued than in the American culture, where in many ways, Christian words are ridiculed. Where we have ‘Saturday Night Live’, and a host of other magazines, shows and movies, making a mockery of Christianity. In addition we have TBN and other Christian television stations that include some programs that do not portray the meek and humble spirit of Christ, and some of which have had scandals attached to them. In our culture, my belief is we need a different approach to win the lost and exalt the name of Christ.
In America we have such an abundance of Christian conversation, that I think the hearers have gone numb. It seems obvious to me that there is a low-grade hostility towards Christianity. I, for one, do not think this is a rejection of God or of spiritual things, but rather a repulsion to hypocrisies, true or perceived, and a rejection of some attempts to win the world with an ‘in your face’ attitude,
‘Way of the Master” radio program comes to mind.
Among other things, we submit to those we admire and respect. Of all the attributes of the comprehensible form of God, Jesus Christ, we see
A man we admire and respect like none other, before or since.

Doctrine is food for a hungry soul; we create appetite with deeds of love, mercy, and kindness.

It has been said so much better by John Brown, born in 1780 who taught thousands of students through his classes and C.H. Spurgeon admired him highly and said he ‘set the standard’ in his works.

“Few things are more fitted to soften prejudices against, and produce a disposition fairly and favorably to consider the claims of, Christianity, than Christian individuals and societies, cheerfully, and liberally, and laboriously supporting every probable scheme that is brought forward for lessening the mass of human suffering, in the form of poverty and disease, and for increasing the sum of human health and enjoyment. These are subjects in which men of the world can take an interest, and of which they can form a just judgment. Of the excellence of peculiar doctrines of Christianity, of the internal holiness which the faith of those doctrines is intended to produce, and actually does produce, they can form no just estimate, and they speak evil of things which they know not.
But to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to console the distressed, to provide means of recovery for the bodily or mentally diseased, appear to them “ things good and profitable unto men;” and when they perceive Christians discovering a readiness to make sacrifices, to expend time, and property, and labor, to gain such objects, in a degree far superior to that of men not possessed of Christian principles, the natural effect is, to lead them to inquire into the cause of the difference; and finding what a Christian should never be backwards to avow, that it is the result of their peculiar views and feelings as Christians, their prejudices are softened, and they are furnished with a motive to examine into what these principles are, and are placed in more favorable circumstances for entering on such an examination, and conducting it to a desirable issue.
This consideration, of itself, ought to be felt by every Christian as a powerful motive to comply with the injunction in the text, “Be pitiful.”

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Add your thoughts

I was reading Philippians 2:1 and thought I would share some of the applications that came to mind in hope that you might add to the list as I will share this at the Nursing Home, and of course hoping it will be a blessing to whoever reads it.

Encouragement -- From the first until this very moment, God encourages us to do, to think, to become, our very best. Taking the yoke with Jesus Christ begins our journey to become the kind of person we can admire. Christ encourages us in every deed of life to find the sweetest nectar. Be it in the market place, among our friends, or in the most intimate of relationships, our marriage, or in the mentoring, training and loving of our children, or be it a stranger we happen upon; we are encouraged to make and take from it the warmest of affection, the deepest of bonds, the greatest of opportunity.
If we start or if we stop, God encourages us to go on. If we win or fail, He encourages us to see the best. If we are educated or ignorant, He encourages us to grow. If we fear or if we hope, He encourages. If we have the health of a ten year old or the frailty of a centenarian, he encourages us on.
At every point, around every corner, through each change, known or not, He is the great encourager.

Comfort from His love – In the brightest day or the darkest night; in the strength of obedience, or in the midst of our sin, in the fellowship of the multitudes, or alone at the midnight hour; in the joy of childbirth or the sorrow of death; in the blessing of new found friends or in the bidding of fond farewells, when all seems bright or at life’s bleakest hour, God sends His comfort through a sympathetic friend, a caring parent, a golden sunrise or the mouth of a babe, a word from a stranger, or the warm apprehension of His presence, He comforts us.

Fellowship of His Spirit – Whether a faint call from the distances or like a sudden rushing flood sweeping us away into divine ecstasies, eyes wringing wet, heart sobs with joy. In the coloring of the day or a hope in the night, in the midst of the Tabernacle or the corner or our closet, in a small still voice or a thunderous clarion call, we are never left without the fellowship of His Spirit.

Tenderness and compassion – In our great struggle in living we continually meet with His great tenderness and compassion. He knows we are but dust and has compassion when all have left us. In return, He leaves traces of His tenderness to abide with us and as our stony heart is broken, our fallow ground is tilled we find in ourselves this growing compassion for His business of loving mankind.
Whether it is our darling child or an unknown stranger in a land far away.
A person lovely, or one in the most distressing way, be it friend or foe, we find birthed in us a growing compassion for the world.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tide of influence

It seemed to be a matter of no importance that a woman, whose name has been forgotten, dropped a tract in the way of a very bad man by the name of Richard Baxter. He picked up the tract and read it, and it was the means of his salvation. In after days, that man wrote a book called "The Call to the Unconverted," that was the means of bringing a multitude to God, among others, Philip Doddridge. Philip Doddridge wrote a book called "The Rise and Progress of Religion," which has brought thousands and tens of thousands into the kingdom of God, among others, the great Wilberforce. Wilberforce wrote a book called, "A practical View of Christianity," which was the means of bringing a great multitude to Christ, among others, Legh Richmond. Legh Richmond wrote a tract called " The Dairyman's Daughter," which has been the means of salvation of unconverted multitudes. And that tide of influence started from the fact that one Christian woman dropped a Christian tract in the way of Richard Baxter --and on and on forever! T. DeWitt Talmage

Who can tell what the little deeds we do may bring?

Blood Bubbles

The following quote is by T. DeWitt Talmage, one of my favorite authors because he uses such riveting illustrations. The context of the quote is about the sophisticated persons that feel they are too educated for faith in God, and how they laugh at the thought of a devil.

Satan has a fastidious appetite, and the vulgar souls he throws into a trough to fatten his swine; but he says: “Bring to my golden plate all the fine natures, bring to my golden plate all the clear intellects, bring them to me; my knife will cut down through the lusciousness; fill my chalice with the richest blood; pour it in until it comes three fourths full; pour it until it comes to the rim of the chalice; pour it until the blood bubbles over the rim. There, that will do now. Oh, this infernal banquet of great souls! Aha! Aha! Let the common demons have the vulgar souls, but give to me, who am the king of all diabolism, the jolliest, the gladdest, and the grandest of all this immortal sacrifice. Aha!”

Please forgive me, but I love a word picture with a kick.

Sorrow Begets Compassion

Misfortune and trials are great educators. A young Doctor comes into a sick-room where there is a dying child. Perhaps he is very rough in his prescription, and very rough in his manner, and rough in the feeling of the pulse, and rough in his answer to the mother’s anxious question; but years roll on, there has been one dead in his own house; and now he comes into the sick-room, and with tearful eye he looks at the dying child, and he says, “Oh, how this reminds me of my Charlie!” Trouble, the great educator. Sorrow—I see its touch in the grandest painting; I hear its tremor in the sweetest song; I feel its power in the mightiest argument. T.DeWitt Talmage