Monday, March 31, 2008
I found this picture on Flicker and the explanation. I don't know the people but I understand the experience. Travel broadens horizons and fosters a world-wide kinship.
Photo by Amy Dunn
"Though there is regard due to education, and the Tradition of our Fathers, Truth will ever deserve, as well as claim the preference.
If like Theophilus and Timothy, we have been brought up in the knowledge of the best things, it is our advantage: but neither they nor we lose by trying their truth; for so we learn their, as well as its intrinsic worth.
Truth never lost ground by inquiry, because she is most of all reasonable....."
I posted this after considering Eric's post "Sucking nectar".
William Penn - photo by Pisica Veronica "Brain washing".
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Mat. 7:24 ‘He that heareth my words, and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise builder.’ That is wisdom, to come to the word so as we may go away the better. Divers hearers propound other ends. Some come to the word that they may judge it; the pulpit, which is God’s tribunal, is their bar; they come hither to sit judges of men’s gifts and talents. James 4:11 ‘Thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.’ Others come to hear pleasing things, to delight themselves in the elegancy of speech, rarity of conceits, what is finely couched and ordered, not what is proper to their case. This is not an act of religion so much as curiosity, for they come to a sermon with the same mind they would to a comedy or tragedy; the utmost that can be gained from them is commendation and praise;
Ezek. 33:32 ‘Thou art to them as a lovely song, or one that hath a pleasant voice; but they hear thy words, and do them not:’ they were taken with the tinkling and tunableness of the expressions, but did not regard the heavenly matter. So, that fond woman suddenly breaketh out into a commendation of our Lord, but, it seemeth, regarded the person more than the doctrine: Luke 11:27 ‘Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps that gave thee suck;’ for which our Savior correcteth her in the next verse, ‘Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.’ You are mistaken; the end of preaching is not to exalt men, but God. You will say ‘An excellent sermon!’ But what do you gain by it?
The hearer’s life is the preacher’s best commendation, 2Cor. 3:1,2 They that praise the man but do not practice the matter, are like those that taste wines that they may commend them, not buy them. Others come that they may better their talents, and increase their knowledge. Every one desireth to know more than another, to set up themselves; they do so much excel others as they excel them in knowledge: and therefore we are all for notions and head-light, little for that wisdom that ‘entereth upon the heart,’ Prov. 2:10, and serveth to better the life; like children with the rickets, that have big heads but weak joints: this is the disease of this age.”
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Every little while I get letters from young men who say, if they were positively sure that they could be a Webster in law, they would devote all their energies to study, fling their whole lives into their work; or if they could be an Edison in invention, or a great leader in medicine, or a merchant prince like Wanamaker or Marshal Field, they could work with enthusiasm and zeal and power and concentration. They would be willing to make any sacrifice, to undergo any hardship in order to achieve what these men have achieved. But many of them say they do not feel that they have the marvelous ability, the great genius, the tremendous talent exhibited by those leaders, and so they are not willing to make the great exertion.
They do not realize that success is not necessarily doing some great thing, that it is not making a tremendous strain to do something great; but that it is just honestly, earnestly living the everyday simple life. It is by the exercise of the common everyday virtues; it is by trying to do everything one does to a complete finish; it is by trying to be scrupulously honest in every transaction; it is by always ringing true in our friendships., by holding a helpful, accommodating attitude toward those about us; by trying to be the best possible citizen, a good accommodating, helpful neighbor, a kind, encouraging father; it is by all these simple things that we attain success.
There is no great secret about success. It is just a natural persistent exercise of the commonest everyday qualities.”
Orison Swett Marden 1911 - Photo by Bahri Budak
When we delight in all his ways.
His glory overflows its rim
When we are satisfied in him.
His radiance will fill the earth
When people revel in his worth.
The beauty of God’s holy fire
Burns brightest in the heart’s desire.
This is the most certain truth, that God would graciously pardon those sins to his people that he will not in this life fully subdue in his people.
Here he adds this footnote – “It is a sign that sin hath not gained your consent, but committed a rape upon your souls, when you cry out to God. If the ravished virgin under the law cried out she was guiltless (Deut. 22.27) so when sins plays the tyrant over the soul, and the soul cries out, it is guiltless; those sins will not be charged upon your soul.” Thomas Brooks (1608-1679)
I interpret the Lion as our fierce defender who protects and gives refuge.
Friday, March 28, 2008
As I look back on my child rearing, the one thing I would have done more of, is to have had my children be more involved in works of love and mercy. I think these acts do more to teach the heart of Christ than much of the words they hear. Seeing and being part of the loving that God is doing on earth, will lodge deep within the soul, and following Christ becomes something noble within their hearts, that will not easily be dislodged by debate or doubts.
"Feed my lambs", feed them the fruits of compassion and mercy, and they will grow up strong.
Both children, in this tender picture, are being fed.
Photo by Maciej Dakowic
Thursday, March 27, 2008
'Women and wine, game and deceit,
Make the wealth small, and the want great.'
And farther, 'what maintains one vice would bring up two children.' You may think, perhaps, that a little tea, or a little punch now and then, diet a little more costly, clothes a little finer, and a little entertainment now and then, can be no great matter; but remember, 'Many a little make a mickle.' Beware of little expenses; 'A small leak will sink a great ship,' as Poor Richard says: and again, 'Who dainties love, shall beggars prove;' and moreover, 'Fools make feasts, and wise men eat them.' Here you are all got together to this sale of fineries and nic-nacs. You call them goods; but, if you do not take care, they will prove evils to some of you. Remember what Poor Richard says, 'Buy what thou hast no need of, and ere long thou shalt sell thy neccessaries.'
It is foolish to lay out money in a purchase of repentance."
Benjamin Franklin - Photo by Peter Sussex
Poor Richard's Almanac was a very popular book by Benjamin Franklin, known to all a few generations ago. Sadly we learn most of these lessons the hard way now.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
They are angels of God in disguise;
The sunlight still sleeps in their tresses,
His glory still gleams in their eyes;
These truants from home and from Heaven,
They have made me more manly and mild;
And I know now how Jesus could liken
The Kingdom of God to a child."
Charles M. Dickenson - Photo by Subir Basak "Why cannot we smile like her?"
When I saw this picture of this little girls prankish face it just tickled me to the core.
The only scripture that came to mind was "a merry heart doeth good like a medicine",
and if that face isn't medicine to the soul, nothing is.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
God has blessed me with a love for the aged. It came early in my Christian life, and no doubt being reared around loving Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles tuned my heart.
When I saw this picture it reminded me of the youthful heart that may be disguised by time on our perishable frames. I can see the little girl in this woman, and it brings a smile to my face and a joy to my heart.
Most of the pictures on my blog can be enlarged, this one needs to be.
“Another great reason for devoting all our estate to right uses is this, because it is capable of being used to the most excellent purposes, and is so great a means of doing good. If we waste it, we do not waste a trifle that signifies little, but we waste that which might be made as eyes to the blind, as a husband to the widow, as a father to the orphan; we waste that which not only enables us to minister worldly comforts to those that are in distress, but that which might purchase for ourselves everlasting treasures in heaven. So that if we part with our money in foolish ways, we part with a great power of comforting our fellow-creatures, and of making ourselves for ever blessed.
If there be nothing so glorious as doing good, if there is nothing that makes us so like to God, then nothing can be so glorious in the use of our money as to use it all in works of love and goodness, making ourselves friends, and fathers, and benefactors, to all our fellow-creatures, imitating the divine love, and turning all our power into acts of generosity, care, and kindness, to such as are in need of it.
If a man had eyes, and hands, and feet, that he could give to those that needed them; if he should either lock them up in a chest, or please himself with some needless, or ridiculous use of them, instead of giving them to his brethren that were blind and lame, should we not justly reckon him an inhuman wretch?
If he should rather choose to amuse himself with furnishing his house with those things than to entitle himself to an eternal reward by giving them to those that needed eyes and hands, might we not justly reckon him mad?
Now money has very much the nature of eyes and feet; if we either lock it up in chests, or waste it in needless and ridiculous expenses upon ourselves, whilst the poor and distressed need it for their necessary uses; if we consume it in the ridiculous ornaments of apparel, whilst others are starving in nakedness, we are not far from the cruelty of him, that chooses rather to adorn his house with the hands and eyes than to give them to those that need them. If we choose to indulge ourselves in such expensive enjoyments that have no real use in them, such as satisfy no real need, rather than to entitle ourselves to an eternal reward, by disposing of our money well, we are guilty of his madness, that rather chooses to lock up eyes and hands than to make himself for ever blessed by giving them to those who need them.
For after we have satisfied our own sober and reasonable wants, all the rest of our money is but like spare eyes, or hands; it is something that we cannot keep to ourselves without being foolish in the use of it, something that can only be used well by giving it to those that need it.”
William Law – A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.
William Law was one of the people that John Wesley said most influenced him for Christ. This convicting piece is just a sample of his practical advice in his influential Devotional book - a Serious Call.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Such a stark contrast; an old man with miles of history in his face, and a young boy with perfect skin and eyes that dance. But to someone, this old man is a loving father or grandfather, and he is loved as deeply as this handsome, smoothed skinned, young boy. God is so good in that regard, we see past the surface when our hearts are knit with love. What a wonderful design.
Photos by Yuri Bonder
As some flowers seem to thrive best in the dark lane and in the shadow, and where the sun does not seem to reach them, so God appoints to most womanly natures a retiring and unobtrusive spirit. God once in a while does call an Isabella to a throne, or a Miriam to strike the timbrel at the front of a host, or a Marie Antoinette to quell a French mob, or a Deborah to stand at the front of an armed battalion, crying out, “Up! up! This is the day in which the Lord will deliver Sisera into thy hands.” And when women are called to such out-door work, and to such heroic positions, God prepares them for it; and they have iron in their soul, and lightnings in their eye, and whirlwinds in their breath, and the borrowed strength of the Lord omnipotent in their right arm. They walk through furnaces as though they were hedges of wild flowers, and cross seas as though they were shimmering sapphire, and all the harpies of hell sink down to their dungeons at the stamp of their womanly indignation.
But these are exceptions. Generally, Dorcas would rather make a garment for the poor boy, Rebecca would rather fill the trough for the camels, Hannah would rather make a coat for Samuel, the Hebrew maid would rather give a prescription for Naaman’s leprosy, the woman of Sarepta would rather gather a few sticks to cook a meal for famished Elijah, Phebe would rather carry a letter for the inspired apostle, Mother Lois would rather educate Timothy in the Scriptures.
When I see a woman going about her daily duty – with cheerful dignity presiding at the table, with kind and gentle, but firm, discipline, presiding in the nursery, going out into the world without any blast of trumpets, following in the footsteps of Him who went about doing good – I say, “This is Vashti with a veil on.” 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, I cry out, “Vashti has lost her veil.” When I see a woman struggling for political preferment, and rejecting the duties of home as insignificant, and thinking the offices of wife, mother, and daughter of no importance, and trying to force her way on up into conspicuity, I say, “Ah, what a pity; Vashti has lost her veil.”
When I see a woman of comely features, and of adroitness of intellect, and endowed with all that the schools can do for her, and of high social position, yet moving in society with superciliousness and hauteur, as thought she would have people know their place, and undefined combination of giggle, and strut, and rodomontade, endowed with allopathic quantities of self, but only homoeopathic infinitesimals of sense, the terror of dry-goods clerks and railroad conductors, discoverer of significant meanings in plain conversation, a prodigy of badness and innuendos --- I say, “Vashti has lost her veil.”
T. DeWitt Talmage - Photo by Mirjam LCV
Sunday, March 23, 2008
" Have you ever examined the faces of the neglected children of the poor? Other children have gladness in their faces. When a group of them rush across the road it seems as though a spring gust had unloosened an orchard of apple-blossoms. But the children of the poor! There is but little ring and laughter and it stops quickly, as though some bitter memory tripped it. They have an old walk. They do not skip or run up on the lumber just for the pleasure of leaping down.
They never bathed in the mountain stream. They never waded in the brook for pebbles. They never chased the butterfly across the lawn, putting their hat right down where it was just before.
Childhood has been dashed out of them. Want waved its wizard wand above the manger of their birth, and withered leaves are lying where God intended a budding giant of battle."
T. DeWitt Talmage - photo by Paul Wager
"Men may tire themselves in a Labyrinth of Search, and talk of God; but if we would know him indeed, it must be from the impressions we receive of him; and the softer our Hearts are, the deeper and livelier those will be upon us.
If he has made us sensible of his Justice, by his reproof; of Patience, by his forbearance; of his Mercy, by his forgiveness; of His Holiness, by the Sanctification of our hearts through his Spirit; we have a grounded knowledge of God. This is Experience, that speculation; This enjoyment, that report. In short, this is undeniable Evidence, with the realities of Religion, and will stand all Winds and Weathers."
William Penn - Photo by Laurentiu Margalin
My Daughter in Law is a most sought after gem; and my son Eric is a graced man indeed to have found such a woman. Both of their premarital prayers dovetailed when God brought them together.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
And a like text in Philippians, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on……heavenward.”
As I look at the expression on this sweet girl's face, I see resolution, a facing of the odds. Her past may be fearful and haunting, her clothes soiled from struggle, but she has a determination in her eyes, she is pressing on.
Photo by Maciej Dakowicz
“I put my sole trust in my own strength of body and soul.” The ancient crest of a pickaxe with the motto of “Either I will find a way or make one,” was an exposition of the same sturdy independence which to this day distinguishes the descendants of the Northmen. Indeed nothing could be more characteristic of the Scandinavian mythology, than that it had a God with a hammer. A man’s character is seen in small matters; and from even so slight a test as the mode in which a man wields a hammer, his energy may in some measure be inferred.
The cultivation of the qualities of force of purpose is the greatest importance; resolute determination in the pursuit of worthy objects being the foundation of all true greatness of character. Energy enables a man to force his way through irksome drudgery and dry details, and carries him onward and upward in every station of life. It accomplishes more than genius, with not one half the disappointment and peril. It is not eminent talent that is required to insure success in any pursuit, so much as purpose – not merely the power to achieve, but the will to labor energetically and perseveringly. Hence energy of will may be defined to be the very central power of character in a man – in a word, it is the Man himself. It gives impulse to his every action, and soul to every effort.
“Woe to him that is faint-hearted,” says the son of Sirach. There is indeed, no blessing equal to the possession of a stout heart. Even if a man fail in his efforts, it will be a satisfaction to him to enjoy the consciousness of having done his best. In humble life nothing can be more cheering and beautiful than to see a man combating suffering by patience, triumphing in his integrity, and who, when his feet are bleeding and his limbs failing him, still walks upon his courage.
When Luther said to Erasmus, “You desire to walk upon eggs without crushing them, and among glasses without breaking them,” the timorous, hesitating Erasmus replied, “I will not be unfaithful to the cause of Christ, at least so far as the age will permit me.” Luther was a very different character. He said, “I will go to Worms though devils were combined against me as thick as the tiles upon the housetops.”
As for the will, considered without regard to direction, it is simply constancy, firmness, perseverance, it will be obvious that everything depends upon right direction and motives. Directed towards the enjoyment of the senses, the strong will may be a demon and then intellect merely its debased slave; but directed towards good, the strong will is a king, and the intellect the minister of man’s highest well-being.” Samuel Smiles (1889)
“Be on the alert, stand firm in he faith, act like men, be strong.” 1Cor. 16:13
The applications to this piece are endless, and as the woman in the picture works against all odds and distress to find food for her family, it emboldens me to face the many less difficult battles of home life and the pursuit of Godliness.
Photo by Maciej Dakowicz - "Flies are hungry"
Friday, March 21, 2008
Some people have been a bit offended that the actor, Lee Marvin, is buried in a grave alongside 3- and 4-star generals at Arlington National Cemetery. His marker gives his name, rank (PVT) and service (USMC). Nothing else. Here's a guy who was only a famous movie star who served his time, why the heck does he rate burial with these guys? Well, following is the amazing answer: I always liked Lee Marvin, but didn't know the extent of his Corps experiences.
In a time when many Hollywood stars served their country in the armed forces often in rear echelon posts where they were carefully protected, only to be trotted out to perform for the cameras in war bond promotions, Lee Marvin was a genuine hero. He won the Navy Cross at Iwo Jima. There is only one higher Naval award... the Medal Of Honor! If that is a surprising comment on the true character of the man, he credits his sergeant with an even greater show of bravery.
Dialog from "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson": His guest was Lee Marvin. Johnny said, "Lee, I'll bet a lot of people are unaware that you were a Marine in the initial landing at Iwo Jima ...and that during the course of that action you earned the Navy Cross and were severely wounded." "Yeah, yeah... I got shot square in the bottom and they gave me the Cross for securing a hot spot about halfway up Suribachi. Bad thing about getting shot up on a mountain is guys getting' shot hauling you down. But, Johnny, at Iwo I served under the bravest man I ever knew... We both got the Cross the same day, but what he did for his Cross made mine look cheap in comparison. That dumb guy actually stood up on Red beach and directed his troops to move forward and get the hell off the beach. Bullets flying by, with mortar rounds landing everywhere and he stood there as the main target of gunfire so that he could get his men to safety. He did this on more than one occasion because his men's safety was more important than his own life. That Sergeant and I have been lifelong friends. When they brought me off Suribachi we passed the Sergeant and he lit a smoke and passed it to me, lying on my belly on the litter and said, "Where'd they get you Lee?" "Well Bob... if you make it home before me, tell Mom to sell the outhouse!" Johnny, I'm not lying, Sergeant Keeshan was the bravest man I ever knew. The Sergeant's name is Bob Keeshan. You and the world know him as Captain Kangaroo."
On another note, there was this wimpy little man (who just passed away) on PBS, gentle and quiet. Mr. Rogers is another of those you would least suspect of being anything but what he now portrays to our youth. But Mr. Rogers was a U.S. Navy Seal, combat-proven in Vietnam with over twenty-five confirmed kills to his name. He wore a long-sleeved sweater on TV, to cover the many tattoos on his forearm and biceps. He was a master in small arms and hand-to-hand combat, able to disarm or kill in a heartbeat
After the war Mr. Rogers became an ordained Presbyterian minister and therefore a pacifist. Vowing to never harm another human and also dedicating the rest of his life to trying to help lead children on the right path in life. He hid away the tattoos and his past life and won our hearts with his quiet wit and charm. America's real heroes don't flaunt what they did; they quietly go about their day-to-day lives, doing what they do best they earned our respect and the freedoms that we all enjoy. Look around and see if you can find one of those heroes in your midst. Often, they are the ones you'd least suspect, but would most like to have on your side if anything ever happened Take the time to thank anyone that has fought for our freedom. With encouragement they could be the next Captain Kangaroo or Mr. Rogers
He carries a black flag, and he takes no prisoners. He digs a trench across the hemispheres and fills it with the carcasses of nations. Fifty times the world have been depopulated had not God kept making new generations. Fifty times the world would have swung lifeless through the air -- no man on the mountain, no man on the sea, an abandoned ship ploughing through immensity. Again and again has he done his work with all generations. He is a monarch as well as a conqueror; his palace a sepulchre; his fountains the falling tears of a world.
Blessed be God, in the light of this Easter morning, I see the prophecy that his scepter shall be broken and his palace be demolished. The hour is coming when all who are in their graves shall come forth.
Christ is risen!, we shall rise. Jesus --"the first fruits of them that slept."
T. DeWitt Talmage - Painting by William Bouguereau
So, though sin cleaves to what we do, yet let us do it, since we have to deal with so good a Lord, and the more strife we meet with, the more acceptance we shall have. Christ loves to taste of the good fruits that come from us, even though they will always savor of our old nature.”
Richard Sibbes (1577-1635)
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Men, for the most part, are not lost enough in their own feeling for a Savior. A holy despair in ourselves is the ground of true hope. In God the fatherless find mercy (Hos. 14:3); if men were more fatherless, they should feel more of God’s fatherly affection from heaven, for the God who dwells in the highest heavens dwells likewise in the lowest soul (Isa. 57:15). Christ’s sheep are weak sheep, and lacking in something or other; he therefore applies himself to the necessities of every sheep. He seeks that which was lost, and brings again that which was driven out of the way, and binds up that which was broken, and strengthens the weak (Ezek. 34:16). His tenderest care is over the weakest. The lambs he carries in his bosom (Isa. 40:11). He says to Peter, ‘Feed my lambs’ (John 21:15).
He was most familiar and open to troubled souls. How careful he was that Peter and the rest of the apostles should not be too much dejected after his resurrection! ‘Go your way, tell his disciples and Peter’ (Mark 16:7).
Christ knew that guilt of their unkindness in leaving of him had dejected their spirits. How gently did he endure the unbelief of Thomas and stooped so far unto his weakness, as to suffer him to thrust his hand into his side.”
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
But, being, intermitting to be sure, it is curable with care. It more than any thing deprives us of the use of our judgment; for it raises a dust very hard to see through.
Like wine, whose lees fly by being jogged, it is too muddy to drink.
It may not unfitly be termed, the mob of the man, that commits a Riot upon his Reason.
I have sometimes thought, that a Passionate man is like a weak spring that cannot stand long locked.
And as true, that those things are unfit for use, that can't bear small knocks, without breaking.
He that won't hear can't judge, and he that can't bear contradiciton, may, with all his wit, miss the mark.
Objection and debate sift out truth, which needs temper as well as judgment.
But above all, observe it in Resentments, for their passion is most extravagant.
Never chide for anger, but instruction.
He that corrects out of Passion, raises revenge sooner than Repentance."
William Penn - Photo by Lee Mclaughlin
A Man, like a watch, is to be valued for his goings.
He that prefers him upon other accounts, bows to an idol.
Unless virtue guide us, our choice must be wrong.
An able bad man, is an ill instrument, and to be shunned as the plague.
Be not deceived with the first appearances of things, but give thy self time to be in the right.
Show, is not substance: Realities govern wise men.
Have a care therefore where there is more sail than ballast."
William Penn -- Amazing photo by birte ragland
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
The gifted photograph is by birte ragland "wreckedearth".
I watched "August Rush" the other night and this is what I've been waiting for. I've been waiting for a really good movie to come out for what seems like a year; well, here it is. This is such a creative show. It has a bit of a David Copperfield theme, meshed with the overriding theme of our love for music. It has a strong romantic element but not a chick flick by any means. Hollyweird has done their best to push every feel good button within us, and they did it well. It is pure fantasy but the kind we all want to believe in. I'll give you one example of the creative side, the little boy who has the "gift of music", is standing in the middle of New York with all the sounds of the city; traffic, horns, jack hammers, people roller skating, and the overall buzz of a big city, but this gifted boy listens as the producers weave all these sounds into a subtle rhapsody. Truly a work of art. Don't miss this one, it is good for anyone from about 12 years up. PG
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
I remember that the Heathens accounted it very base. Plutarch reports of a certain people, who used to manifest their disdain to men who were overmuch dejected by any affliction, and condemned them to this punishment: to wear women's clothes all their days, or for a certain space of time at least, they should go in women's clothes in token of shame and disgrace to them because they had such effeminate spirits. They thought it against a manly spirit, and therefore, seeing they did un-man themselves, they should go as women. Now, shall they account it an unmanly spirit, to be overmuch dejected in afflictions? and shall not a Christian account it an unchristian spirit to be overmuch dejected by any affliction whatsoever? I remember someone else compares murmuring spirits to children, when they are weaning: what a great deal of stir you have with your children when you wean them! How perverse and vexing they are! Children will not sleep themselves nor let their mothers sleep when they are weaning; and so, when God would wean us from the world, and we fret, vex, and murmur, this is a childish spirit."
Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) -- Photo by Mitchell Kanashkevich
Ouch! I'm afraid having victory over murmuring is not my strongest suit.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
To repine at them does not mend the matter: it is only to grumble at our creator. But to see the hand of God in them, with an humble submission to his Will, is the way to turn our water into wine, and engage the greatest Love and Mercy on our side.
We must needs disorder our selves, if we only look at our losses. But if we consider how little we deserve what is left, our passion will cool, and our murmurs will turn to thankfulness.
If our hairs fall not to the ground, less do we our substance without God's Providence.
Nor can we fall below the Arms of God, how low soever it be we fall.
For though our Saviour's Passion is over, his Compassion is not. That never fails his humble, sincere disciples: In him, they find more than all that they lose in the world."
William Penn -- Photo by Mitchell Kanashkevich
There is a great power in a battery of individuals who are struggling for the achievement of high aims, a great magnetic force which will help you to attract the object of your ambition. It is very stimulating to be with people whose aspirations run parallel with your own. If you lack energy, if you are naturally lazy, indolent, or inclined to take it easy, you will be urged forward by the constant prodding of the more ambitious.” Orison Swett Marden
I really like this piece; my closest friends while in school were very ambitious. Now, their ambitions were not always noble, as often school boys aren’t; but they had quick, creative minds, a quick wit and humor, and personalities that were eccentric, to understate it. I was inspired by them far more than I ever inspired them. But inspired I was. They have left their influence on me to this day.
Over the years I have attended many churches, and in all of them there was always an ambitious group, always the minority, but they were always seeking truth, and practical ways to serve the Lord. Whatever the arena, be it in enriching your marriage, teaching your children, serving the Lord or in the workplace, I think his advice is right on target.
Emerson stated the sentiment this way –
“What I most need is somebody to make me do what I can. To do what I can, that is my problem; not what a Napoleon or a Lincoln could do, but what I can do.
It makes all the difference in the world to me whether I bring out the best thing in me or the worst, -- whether I utilize ten, fifteen, twenty five, or ninety per cent of my ability.”
Thursday, March 13, 2008
George Du Maurier -- photo by Bob Kurt
“But then I sigh, and, with a piece of Scripture, tell them – that God bids us do good for evil: and thus I clothe my naked villainy, with old odd ends, stolen forth of Holy Writ: and seem a saint when most I play the devil. Why, I can smile, and murder while I smile: and cry, content, to that which grieves my heart; and wet my cheeks with artificial tears, and frame my face to all occasions.”
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
There is much in life that, while in this state, we can never comprehend. There is, indeed, a great deal of mystery in life – much that we see “as a glass darkly.”
But though we may not apprehend the full meaning of the discipline of trial through which the best have to pass, we must have faith in the completeness of the design of which our little individual live form a part. We have each to do our duty in that sphere of life in which we have been placed." Samuel Smiles
These are the final words of advice at the end of the book "Happy Homes and The Hearts That Make Them. I like the practical and common sense approach of Smiles, great name huh?
His advice helps thin out the drama for me. Truth in plain clothes; truth that applies to every facet of our life. I initially jotted this down for my two of my granddaughters that have passed through a very difficult year where 'faith in the completeness of the design', was difficult to grasp. May it embolden them as well as all.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Jealousy is a kind of civil war in the soul, where judgment and imagination are at perpetual jars.
Nothing stands safe in its way; nature, interest, religion, must yield to its fury. It violates contracts, dissolves society, breaks wedlock, betrays friends and neighbors; no body is good, and every one is either doing or designing them a mischief.
It has a venom that more of less rankles whoever it bites; and as it reports fancies for facts, so it disturbs its own house, as often as other' folks.
Its rise is guilt or ill-nature; and by reflection it thinks its own faults to be other mens; as he that is over run with the jaundice takes others to be yellow.
A jealous man only sees his own spectrum when he looks upon other men, and gives his character in theirs."
William Penn --
Monday, March 10, 2008
Sunday, March 09, 2008
"To do the best can seldom be the lot of man; it is sufficient if, when opportunities are presented, he is ready to do good. How little virtue could be practised if beneficence were to wait always for the most proper objects, and the noblest occasions; occasions that may never happen, and objects that may never be found?"
Samuel Johnson -- photo by Bela Tibor Kozma
Elegancy is a good mien and address given to matter, be it by proper or by figurative speech; where the words are apt, and allusions very natural, certainly it has a moving grace; but it is too artificial for simplicity, and oftentimes for truth. The danger is, lest it delude the weak; who, in such cases, may mistake the handmaid for the mistress, if not error for truth.
It is certain, truth is least indebted to it, because she has least need of it, and least uses it.
But it is a reprovable delicacy in them that despise truth in plain clothes.
Such luxuriants have but false appetites; like those gluttons that, by sauce, force them when they have no stomach, and sacrifice to their palate, not their health; which cannot be without great vanity, nor that without some sin." William Penn
Hmmm, this quote offers a relevant insight for me. No question, I love the "moving grace" of an eloquent speaker. I love a wordsmith who can turn a phrase whether poet, author or orator.
Certainly William Penn is eloquent, although he may not consider himself as such. But times have changed and English has degraded. He warns of the danger of mistaking eloquence for truth, and goes on to state; truth is dressed in plain clothes so all may understand. I like that, and I believe Jesus used common language. But though plainly dressed the Bible is full of mystery and riddle, that challenges us to hunt, dig and search.
But for me personally, the caution is a check point; because I love the ornamental, as the picture I chose gives example. I love beauty, strength, texture, imagination, the aged and rustic, detailed craftsmanship, whether they be on the surface or in the soul. But Penn's short essay is a reminder of the beauty of simplicity.
Photo by Marc de Wit
Saturday, March 08, 2008
But a vain man is a nauseous creature; he is so full of himself, that he has no room for any thing else, be it ever so good or deserving.
It is I, at every turn, that does this, or can do that. And as he abounds in his comparisons, so he is sure to give himself the better of every body else: according to the proverb, “All his geese are swans.”
They are certainly to be pitied that can be so much mistaken at home.
And yet I have sometimes thought, that such people are, in a sort, happy, that nothing can put out of countenance with themselves, though they neither have nor merit other people’s.
But, at the same time, one would wonder they should not feel the blows they give themselves, or get from others, for this intolerable and ridiculous temper; nor show any concern at that, which makes other’s blush for, as well as at them, viz. their unreasonable assurance.
This silly disposition comes from a mixture of ignorance, confidence and pride; and as there is more or less of the last, so it is more or less offensive, or entertaining.
And yet, perhaps the worst part of this vanity is its unteachableness. Tell it any thing, and it has know it long ago; and outruns information and instruction, or else proudly puffs at it.
Whereas the greatest understandings doubt most, are readiest to learn, and least pleased with themselves; this, with nobody else.
For Though they stand on higher ground, and so see farther than their neighbors, they are yet humbled by their prospect since it show them something so much higher, and above their reach.
And truly then it is that sense shines with the greatest beauty, when it is set in humility.
A humble able man is a jewel worth a kingdom; it is often saved by him, as Solomon’s poor wise man did the city.
May we have more of them or less need of them.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
author unknown --- Photo by Eolo Perfido
I'm always reluctant to post Christian doctrine that is not mainstream, and I suppose for the most part I believe in mainstream fundamental theology. But there are things about God that at my level of growth I do not understand and some things I am content to let remain a mystery. My faith is based on the calling of Christ in me, the keeping power of His Spirit, and the mercy he has shown me throughout the last 39 years. My faith is not moved by difficult passages. Some things are too high for me, I'm not to proud to say it.
In the last ten years I have been more and more concerned about the doctrine of Eternal Punishing. I see no contradiction in scripture about judgment for the unbeliever, and for suffering for their sins. That is justice and it is taught all through the Bible. But continual punishment for eternity contradicts all of what Christ has taught me. So, I ask God about it and I read things that teach a different opinion. The following piece addresses a question I have been studying; why, if the Old Testament never once mentions Eternal Punishing, would not Christ and the Apostles sound the alarm in a clear and concise fashion, in the same way they do about all other important teachings. Certainly the suffering of mankind for eternity is the most important issue to the unbelieving world, and to be nearly silent on it makes absolutely no sense to me.
So, this little piece addresses that very point and if you have not heard an opinion like it I'm sure it will be interesting to you.
"So, in Matt. xxiiI 15, 27, Gehenna or hell, and the whited sepulcher, "full of dead men's bones, and all uncleanness," are fearful symbols of the moral foulness of the "Scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites," whom the Savior was addressing. "Two-fold more the child of hell," signifying that they made their converts two-fold more corrupt than themselves.
The word Gehenna, or hell, then, in the New Testament is used as a symbol of anything that was foul and repulsive; but especially as a figure of dreadful and destructive judgments.
And, now, let us consider some of the facts connected with this word Gehenna. They are the more important because this word is specially relied upon as teaching the doctrine of endless torments, the doctrine of hell, as popularly believed. Whatever other forms of speech may be employed to express the thought, this is surely one of the terms clearly declarative of future endless punishment.
Admitting this statement for a moment, let us see what follows. If this is the word by which the tremendous fact is to be revealed, we shall have it notified to us in a fitting manner. We know with what solemn preparations, and awful accompaniments, the Law was introduced at Sinai; and we may certainly expect this doctrine will be announced with a solemnity and awfulness corresponding to its infinitely greater importance, and which shall concentrate upon it the attention of all the world. Neither the patriarchs, nor Moses, nor the prophets, have uttered a word on the subject; but now a new teacher is come from God, and he is to make known the dreadful doctrine; and the words he selects for this purpose will be employed with a power of emphasis, with a marked distinction, which will shut out all possibility of mistake.
Let us see if it be so. The first time Christ uses the word Gehenna is in Matt. V 22, 29, 30. But not a word of preparation or notice that now, for the first time, the terrible dogma is announced on divine authority. He speaks as calmly as if He were wholly unconscious of the burthen of such a revelation; and the people seem equally unmoved under the awful declaration. And what is singular, it is not presented by itself, in a positive form, unmixed with anything else, as its importance most surely demanded; but is slipped in merely as a comparative illustration, among other judgments, of the greater moral demands of the Gospel, and the strictness with which it enforced obedience.
They, the Jews, had said, "Whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment;" but Christ says, whosoever is angry with his brother without cause, is in danger of a punishment equal to that of the judgment (the inferior court of seven judges); and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca (a term of contempt, shallow-brain or blockhead), shall be in danger of a punishment equal to that inflicted by the council (the superior court of seventy judges, which took cognizance of capital crimes); but whosoever shall say, "Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire," or of a punishment equal in severity to the fire of Gehenna.
Now, if Christ used the term Gehenna to reveal endless woe, and that for the first time, would He not have said this, and fixed forever the meaning of the word? And yet not the slightest intimation do we have of any such new and awful meaning. The Jews were familiar with it, and used it constantly to symbolize any great punishment or judgment coming on the earth; and they must of course suppose He used it as they did, since He gave them no notice to the contrary. If, therefore, He did give it the new signification of endless punishment after death, they could not understand Him, and He failed of His purpose for want of such explanation as they, and we, had a right to expect.
But there is another consideration deserving notice. The difference between the sinfulness of saying Raca or Blockhead, and Fool, is hardly great enough to warrant such a difference in punishment as is involved in the supposition. Townsend justly says, to imagine that Christ, for such a slight distinction as Raca and Thou fool, "would instantly pass from such a sentence as the Jewish Sanhedrim would pronounce, to the awful doom of eternal punishment in hell-fire, is what cannot be reconciled to any rational rule of faith, or known measure of justice." There is no proportion between the slight difference in guilt and the tremendous, infinite difference in punishment. But if the comparison is between penalties symbolized by stoning to death, inflicted by the Sanhedrim council, and burning alive in Gehenna, then there is proportion, some relation of parts; because the difference between death by stoning and death by burning is not certainly very great; but the difference between death by stoning and endless torment is infinite.
It is impossible, therefore, to believe that Christ, in this first use of Gehenna, intended to reveal the doctrine, without an accusation against His fidelity and justice.
But let us note other facts equally pertinent.
1. Though Gehenna occurs twelve times, the Savior actually used it only on four or five different occasions, the rest being only repetitions. If this is the word, and the revelation of this terrible doctrine is in it, how is it possible that Christ, in a ministry of three years, should use it only four times? Was He faithful to the souls committed to His charge?
2. The Savior and James are the only persons in all the New Testament who use the word. John Baptist, who preached to the most wicked of men, did not use it once. Paul wrote fourteen epistles, and yet never once mentions it. Peter does not name it, nor Jude; and John, who wrote the gospel, three epistles, and the Book of Revelations, never employs it in a single instance. Now if Gehenna or hell really reveals the terrible fact of endless woe, how can we account for this strange silence? How is it possible, if they knew its meaning, and believed it a part of Christ's teaching, that they should not have used it a hundred or a thousand times, instead of never using it at all; especially when we consider the infinite interests involved?
3. The Book of Acts contains the record of the apostolic preaching, and the history of the first planting of the Church among the Jews and Gentiles, and embraces a period of thirty years from the ascension of Christ. In all this history, in all this preaching of the disciples and apostles of Jesus, there is no mention of Gehenna. In thirty years of missionary effort, these men of God, addressing people of all characters and nations, never, under any circumstances, threaten them with the torments of Gehenna, or allude to it in the most distant manner! In the face of such a fact as this, can any man believe that Gehenna signifies endless punishment, and that this is a part of divine revelation, a part of the Gospel message to the world?
These considerations show how impossible it is to establish the doctrine in review on the word Gehenna. All the facts are against the supposition that the term was used by Christ or His disciples in the sense of future endless punishment. There is not the least hint of any such meaning attached to it, nor the slightest preparatory notice that any such new revelation was to be looked for in this old familiar word.
We have now passed in review, as far as our limits will permit, the New Testament doctrine of Hell, and we have not, surely, found it to be the doctrine of endless punishment, but something very wide from this. Let us now turn to other phraseology supposed to embody this thought, and to establish it as a doctrine of divine revelation."
I did a study on Eternal Destruction and found that an easy topic to find. It is mentioned many times all through the New Testament.