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.