Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine

After seeing a picture of Mother Teresa on Eric's blog I pulled out one of my books on her and began leafing through the pages, when I ran across this picture I had to share it. It epitomizes the gospel according to Mother Teresa. Small acts with great love and always show the joy of the Lord.
This is the kind of face that opens locked doors and breaks down strong barriers.
Does she not do your soul good like a medicine?
How beautiful your sandaled feet, O prince's daughter! Song of Solomon 7:1
Would that my feet be as worn from kneeling in prayer and walking after souls as the Saint of Calcutta.

Fire in the blood

“If we would discover the essential characteristic of the young, let us remember that’s the youth (teen), is he who has suddenly come into possession of prodigious and unexpected energies. Not slowly do these powers develop within us; they come, rather, as Minerva is fabled to have sprung from the head of Jupiter, fully grown and fully equipped. They are forced upon us long before we have gained any adequate idea of that outer world to which they must be adjusted; and for the time being they seem to defy restraint. It would be strange indeed if this sudden development did not give rise to faults and follies, as well as to noble ambitions and generous enthusiasms.
It is in this way that we must explain the restlessness, impatience, and irritability, which form so common a characteristic of these young lives of ours.
We have more spring in the muscles and more fire in the blood than we know what to do with. From fifteen to twenty-one the powers expand with lightning rapidity.” Beaten Paths

I have always loved this piece, it is so observable, so common to all. I think when God designed us he gave us this power to use to establish our foundations for life. The amount of learning, and the amount of labor needed to educate and begin a career is so great that we need these, never again to be experienced, energies. The caution that necessarily goes with it is, if not used to advance and develop ourselves for the future, this energy will be spent, and if not for good, then for ill, and ill in magnum force.

Slobbering puppy-dogs

“There are as many kinds of voices as there are of men. There are voices that delight you with their rich cadences, and voices that distress you with their thin and reedy notes. There are voices that arouse, voices that give you the fidgets, and voices that put you to sleep. There are voices that salute the ears like the growl of a wild beast, and voices that seem to smite you in some sensitive part, provoking instant hostility. Speaking generally, the voice is a most valuable index to the character. Peevish individuals lapse into a habitual whine; nervous people speak with a succession of small electric discharges; while the boor grunts with the labor of expressing his thought. You recognize the clergyman the moment he begins to speak, for his voice carries with it a suggestion of congregations and solemn ceremonies; but if you hear prim and positive tones that lay down the law, as it were, there is a school-teacher. An honest man’s voice has a ring about it like that of pure metal, while the hypocrite’s tones are as smooth and slippery as the road to hell. You can tell by a man’s voice whether it is safe to fool with him or not; for there are some voices that come slobbering over you like a lot of puppy-dogs wagging their tails, and there are others whose every tone implies,
“Business – and don’t you forget it!” Beaten Paths

Now although this piece isn't precise science, it is interesting and how many people does it bring to mind? And, where do you fit in?

Francois de Salignac de la Mothe Fenelon

If you have never read Fenelon, you are missing great words of an honest friend. He was the Archbishop of Cambria, France, as well as a spiritual advisor of a number of earnest people seeking Fenelon's wise direction. Always encouraging them to press on towards the goal of Christian perfection. Truly a spiritual giant, his works should be read in a slow meditative manner. Many of his letters have been preserved and his candid, warm, advice is a must for Christians of our day. Here's a sample---

"It has been a long time since I've written to you, but let me assure you that I am just as attached to you through our Lord as I ever was. In fact, I am more attached now. And I want with all my heart for you to have that same peace and joy in your home which you enjoyed at the beginning. It should be remembered that even the best of people leave much to be desired, and we must not expect too much. We need to be very patient with the faults of others. The most perfect people in the world have many imperfections, and so do we. And sometimes it is quite difficult for us to tolerate each other. We are to "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ", and I think this means, among other things, that we are to bear the burden of each others imperfections. Peaceful and harmonious relationships can be helped a great deal if people just learn to be quiet, to be prayerful, and to keep surrendered to the Lord."

It's a celebration

I'd like to introduce the proud arrival of my thirteenth grandchild Ginger! She made herself visible last Sunday at about 10:30 in the morning. She weighed in at a strapping 6lbs 4 ounces. My son Marc and his wife Angie are the proud parents of their third child. That makes two girls and one boy in their quiver.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith, be men of courage, be strong.
Do everything in love."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Promises of faith a dream?

I read a sermon by John Baptist Massillon this morning. I have never read him and thought I’d see what he had to say about “The Small Number of the Saved”.
A verse that always sobers any Christian. The context is about hating the world, the flesh, and the devil. I think I will begin this passage with the end of it, where he poses a very sobering question that were we to carefully consider may make us blush, or worse. Here goes---

“And, should it happen, that you alone were left upon the earth, may we not say that the corrupt world would be revived in you; and that you would leave an exact model of it to your posterity? When I say you, I mean, and I address myself to almost all men.”

The way I reflected on it was to consider that the world had a clean slate, and the only corruption that would influence it would come from me. How Holy a place would it be?
I shudder to think.
On with the balance of the thought---

"We are told that we are to hate “the world, the flesh, and the devil.”
Now, what is this world which you ought to hate? I have only to answer that it it’s the one you love. You will never mistake it by this mark.
This world is a society of sinners, whose desires, fears hopes cares projects, joys, and chagrins, no longer turn but upon the successes or misfortunes of this life.
This world is an assemblage of people who look upon the earth as their country; the time to come as an exilement; the promises of faith as a dream; and death as the greatest of all misfortunes. This world is a temporal kingdom, where our Savior is unknown; where those acquainted with His name, glorify Him not as their Lord, hate His maxims, despise His followers, and neglect or insult Him in His sacraments and worship. In a word, to give a proper idea at once of this world, it is the vast multitude. Behold the world which you ought to shun, hate, and war against by your example.
Now, is this your situation in regard to the world? Are its pleasures a fatigue to you? Do it excesses afflict you? Do you regret the length of your pilgrimage here? Or on the contrary, are not its laws your laws; its maxims your maxims? What it condemns, do you not condemn? What it approves do you not approve?

And, should it happen, that you alone were left upon the earth, may we not say that the corrupt world would be revived in you; and that you would leave an exact model of it to your posterity? When I say you, I mean, and I address myself to almost all men.”

Thursday, March 15, 2007

“Pass over the earth,” said Plutarch, “you may discover cities without walls, without literature, without monarchs, without palaces or wealth, where the theater and the school are not known; but no man ever saw a city without temples and gods, where prayers, oaths, and oracles, and sacrifices were not used for obtaining good or averting evil.”

Monday, March 12, 2007

I came across this picture of a cemetery statue the other day and I just love it. I'm not sure if it is a male or a female, and even harder for me is to describe the look on the face. One moment I see the angel as a defender warding off workers of iniquity with a stare; then again, I see a look of disappointment in her eyes, not disgust but a careful watching, hoping the guarded one makes the right choice, like a mother watching over her child facing temptations. What ever the intention of the artist was, it displays power and confidence, no fear in those eyes.
Somehow I feel better knowing shes out there.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

An embrace and kiss

A Russian princess of great beauty, in company with her father and a young French marquis, visited a celebrated Swiss doctor of the eighteenth century, Michael Scuppack, when the French marquis began to pass one of his jokes upon the long white beard of one of the doctor's neighbors who was present. He offered to bet twelve gold pieces that no lady present would dare to kiss the dirty old fellow. The Russian princess ordered her attendant to bring a plate, and she deposited twelve gold pieces and sent it to the French marquis, who was too polite to decline his bet. The fair Russian then approached the old peasant, saying, "Permit me, venerable father, to salute you after the manner of my country," and embracing him, gave him a kiss. She then presented him the gold, which was on the plate, saying, " Take this as a remembrance of me, and as a sign that the Russian girls think it their duty to honor old age."
Well Springs of Truth" 1883

Each time I read this story I get a lump in my throat. When someone with position acts with humility and respect it somehow moves me; and when the weak, poor or elderly are respected it it floods me with admiration.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

With or Among

Says Charles Wagner:
“Each person’s base of operations is the field of his immediate duty. Neglect this and all that you undertake at a distance is compromised. First, then, be of your own country, your own city, your own home, and work shop, and church,--
Then if you can set out from this go beyond, this is the plain and natural order.”
To save humanity one must live with it and feel for it at first hand.

Never elated when one man’s oppressed;
Never dejected while another’s blessed.

That reminds me of another quote in the same book, “Inspired words for the inspired life”, which says, “It is not in trying to be good to people so much as being good with or among them that this world is to be saved.”

I think these thoughts embody much of what I think is missing in some Christian understanding of evangelism or ministry in general. I am convinced that if ministry is not intensely personal that it lacks a dimension of power that is crucial for the same results. Of course that power is love and when we are personally involved by being “with or among” our words are received with a far more open heart. I wonder if much is done among Christ’s kingdom at all without these ingredients. I know it is not “Way of the Master” thinking, but it is my thinking, and apparently others as well.

"It is better to be in the house of the mourning...."

I’m writing this a little late but the week has been a flurry and this is the first opportunity with some peace and quite I’ve had to put down the events and my thoughts.
Sue’s brother Jerry has been battling colon cancer for over a year and in this last year there have been hopeful times and set-backs. I’m not sure he was entirely candid with us about his condition as not to over worry us.
In the last few months he has become increasingly ill and as of Monday early morning he lost the battle. It was a difficult thing to watch, as this six foot four man of 250 pounds, shrunk down to a frail one hundred pounds, jaundice, weak and finally succumb. As difficult as this has been to watch for me, I’m sure his mother was affected the most and of course his daughter and two grandchildren, as well as his two sisters and brother, there is a bitter sweet aspect to it; I watched as old friends learned of his condition and they visited him, offered help and in many cases brought thoughtful things for his comfort. It was heartening and l couldn’t help wonder if the same would happen if I were in his position.
His mother, Lois, prayed, worried, talked to doctors, and continually looked for some option that would offer the least bit of hope. His daughter was at his beck and call offering support wherever needed. And all of his siblings rallied around him with such a display of love and affection, as well as care, that it made one proud to be a part of such a family. Of course I saw closely all that Sue did. I suppose if there is a silver lining in having a disease that doesn’t take you suddenly it is that if offers opportunity to demonstrate your love to the dying person. Sue spent the night with him nearly each night at the end and they probably bonded more in the last month of his life than at any other time. They talked, embraced, told each other of their love. Not just Sue, but other’s as well.
Jerry’s girlfriend Debbie has elevated herself in my eyes beyond description; she spent so much time at Jerry’s side not wanting him to be alone or have need of anything. The outpouring of love and support from all was humbling and so inspiring. This is the true meaning of love, of family. Now that he has passed, his mother Lois is the recipient of this outpouring of love, as friends, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren visit her every day and spend nights with her as well.
I want to share one incident that I think displays the thoughtfulness in the family.
As it happened, Carissa’s birthday fell on the day that Jerry died. We planned to have a traditional birthday party at Lois’s house, Carissa’s great grandmother, but frankly we had little enthusiasm and it was impossible to not talk about Jerry and get distracted from Carissa’s birthday party. As it turned out, Heather, a relative about 24 years old heard that there was a party that night and obviously she considered we would have difficulty with the party spirit, so she decided to come, which she has never done before, and she arrived with balloons in hand and a big shopping bag. She swept in and with zealous birthday accolades, sat Carissa down in a chair and began tying the balloons pronouncing this chair as the royal throne for Carissa; then she brought out a paper crown and crowned Carissa with it, then she pulled out a silly looking plastic fly swatter with a big flower on it and gave it to Carissa explaining this was her royal scepter and with it she could command her wishes. Then she pulled out a pair of royal slippers and promptly pulled off Carissa’s shoes and the transformation was complete. She continued that evening to use her love and energy to salvage what promised to be a gloomy party. At one point in the night as I sat by Carissa alone, I said that Heather is really a great gal; she replied, “Yes she is, and I want to be just like her.”
This is by no means the only example but one of many thoughtful acts of love and friendship that have flooded the week, cards, phone calls, flowers and visits all bearing support and love.

When someone dies it always brings us to a sober place and as I watched the loving acts by so many people, I pondered on the meaning of life and all the issues death brings up. Certainly one conclusion is true, Sages and philosophers through the ages all agree that a key ingredient in a successful life is measured by the love one receives in their life, in that Jerry was a very successful man.