Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Carefully watch for the seasons when God comes to you, take advantage of them. But even if God chooses to hide the treasure from your sight, comfort yourself. He knows your sincerity is real whether you can see it or not. Say what David said: 'When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path' (Ps. 142:3). God will sovereignly act for your good -- not according to false self-accusations; but according to the testimony which His all-seeing eye gives to your grace."
William Gurnall - The Christian in Complete Armour - Photo by W.B. Skinner
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I just returned from a short trip to San Diego with my wife and my 12 year old granddaughter. We spent a day in Ensenada, Mexico; about an hour and a half down the coast from the the US border. It is a quaint little fishing village, and holds all the tantalizing tourist beads and baubles, which I admit, I'm a sucker for. I love color, and Mexico, as well as many poor countries, are a riot of color. But what I love about travel is how it reminds me that we are all the same. Regardless of skin color, language, culture, or location, we all have the same basic wants and needs. I enjoy looking at people, and there were some very interesting subjects to study. Sunny climates always weather working people, and leave the most fascinating trails on their faces. Now, as to the photo; Johnny Depp and Orlando bloom have been digitally woven together in this picture to such a degree you can hardly differentiate the two. Interesting to look at, but I couldn't help but think it illustrated my thoughts on how we are all so much alike.
Photo by Midian
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Standing then, as I imagine now I do, in that Bethlehem night, with an infant Christ on the one side and the speechless creatures of God on the other, I cry, Look out how you strike the rowel into the horse’s side. Take off that curbed bit from the bleeding mouth. Remove that saddle from that raw back. Shoot not for fun that bird that is too small for food. Forget not to put water into the cage of that canary. Throw out some crumbs to those birds caught too far north in the winter’s inclemency. Arrest that man who is making one horse draw a load heavy enough for three. Rush in upon that scene where boys are torturing a cat or transfixing a butterfly or grasshopper. Drive not off that old robin, for her nest is a mother’s cradle, and under her wing there may be three or four prima donnas of the sky in training. And in your families and in your schools teach the coming generation more mercy than the present generation has ever shown, and in this marvelous Bible picture the nativity, while you point out to them the angel, show them also the camel, and while they hear the celestial chant let them also hear the cow’s moan. No more did Christ show interest in the botanical world than when He said, “Consider the lilies,” than He showed sympathy for the ornithological when He said, “Behold the fowls of the air,” and the quadruped world when He allowed Himself to be called in one place a lion and in another place a lamb. Meanwhile, may the Christ of the Bethlehem cattle-pen have mercy on the suffering stock-yard that are preparing diseased and fevered meat for out American households.
T.DeWitt Talmage 1872
A Working Dog's Oath
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
When a man that is sick, crazy, and unsound, is at a table that is furnished with a variety of dishes, you know he easily and readily passes over all the most wholesome and nourishing dishes, and falls a-piddling and picking here and there upon the kickshaws and puff-paste. That have little or no substance in them. So unsound, unholy hearts, when God hath prepared his table, and made a feast of fat things for their souls in the ministry of the word, they can easily and readily pass over those sound, solid, and savory truths that are prepared for their strength and nourishment, and fall a-piddling and picking upon some new coined phrases, or some quaint expression, or some seraphical notions: and no wonder, for they are not sound within, they are under a great distemper: as the Israelites would not be satisfied with wholesome diet, but they must needs have quails as their picking meat: well, they had them, and whilst they were at their picking meat, the wrath of God came upon them. The application is as easy as it is dreadful. But now a holy heart savors the word, as it is a holy word, a substantial word, a pure word, a clean word, and as it begets holiness, and cherishes holiness, and increases holiness, and as it works towards the completing and perfecting of holiness.
Thomas Brooks - Photo by Elena Getzieh
Monday, April 21, 2008
N. D. Hillis - Photo by Piotr Kowalik
N.W.Hillis - Painter M.L. Walker
N.D. Hillis - Photo by Biliana Rakocevic
Sunday, April 20, 2008
As a father, I wanted to share this post from my son Eric. It's an interesting read and of course his humor cracks me up; "Panty Praise", classic line. But more than that, I wanted to include my response to him, giving me a chance to publicly describe him.
One last word for the young Christian man: Do you want to grow up quickly? Then leave mommy's familiar, safe haven and venture out into the danger zone. As Leon Podles said, "Go find your Holy Grail; go meet the strange, meet the unfamiliar." Protect people; lead people; rescue people. Fight inequities and absurdities. Beware, young man, of parents and pastors who want to "mother" you. Avoid the secure; Fear over-protection; and happily accept the masculine task of the patriarch, the prophet, the warrior and wild man....Get to a place, young warrior, where pain is not a big deal, where you embrace resistance. And by your example, you will encourage others to resist self-doubt, squeamishness, indecision and the impulse to surrender and withdraw into the warm, wet womb of Wussville. -Doug Giles“Be on the alert, stand firm in he faith, act like men, be strong.” 1Cor. 16:13Act like men. I've been reading some challenging Christian pacifist material lately, writers from or influenced by the Anabaptists, the Mennonites and even the Amish. I have always wrestled with the "way of Christ" in the gospels and how to live that without being a quasi-male. I admit, I felt that the church world had a effeminate effect on me until my late 30's when I abandoned the prayer shawl for the camel skin coat. I purposed in my heart to leave the cushioned chairs of Christianity for a inner pursuit of something raw, wild and God willing, more attune to the man resonance going on within me. I have been rewarded in my search but at the same time after following some of those male tribal rhythms to their ends...I was left dissatisfied too. I found myself just as queasy at pounding my chest and strutting around singing testosterone like promise keeper songs as I was with the panty praise that was being produced by some of the CCM crowd. The goal of finding a way to express the inner voices of masculinity was more challenging than storming out of the sanctuary; ripping off my clothes and running wild in the woods while screaming FREEDOM at the top of my over-estrogen filled lungs. I could bang drums, pound sticks, clash swords, cuss and chew a cigar while chugging the latest NW micro-brew all while reading NEW-MAN or Blue Like Jazz and still not scratch the itch that was driving me mad. In some ways it was rewarding at times...like when I canoed alone into the wilderness to face my fears. And it was exhausting....self actualization is so...time consuming, I mean how many ways can a man shave his facial hair? In the end though, I am still on the hunt for a Christian ethos that isn't like some version of a man wearing ladies underwear....which men in the church often appear like. I think some of the conflict really came to a head when I found out that the homosexuals in California have a whole lumberjack subculture. Dang! You can't even wear suspenders and flannels as domain of the manly man attire. No offence to my gay readers...I think you would look better as a lumber jack than anything else but I digress. I started seeing more clearly that manliness is far more than Butt kicking boots and mountain climber attitude or swords, hair and godly sexual uninhibited freedom. You can get in touch with all your inner beasts and still in the end sound like a kitten trying to roar like a tiger. I mean look at the guy in the pic...come on...that dude is fruity and he is acting like HE-Man!!! Oh the humanity of it all.So the journey continues...maybe one can howl like the wolves and drink wheat grass while driving a Prius...and still "Act Like A Man". I know you can but deep down, a man wrestles with this kind of stuff on some level...I see it, I hear it...it ripples under the surface of many men I know. Even the world plays on this primal vein...have you seen the new "Your dad wasn't a metrosexual" ads lately? I am not alone in my observations...just maybe my conclusions.
Now that is the end of my son Eric's post. Here are the comments I posted in response--
"I agree, the guy in the picture just makes me squirm. I sympathize with this post but I honestly don’t relate to it in regard to the struggle. I see the evidence and examples of effeminate men in the church, and it is simply not masculine. It doesn’t bother me but I also don’t admire it. Just is what it is. So I have been thinking why I don’t relate to the inner struggle you speak of, and I think you speak for many. The best I can come up with is that in my generation men were simply admired more and cast that way through the various mediums of entertainment etc. A larger percentage of the population worked in agriculture and women dominated the office. I have never seen office work as manly, and I work in an office. When you are around hard working men from the fields and other labor industries, it requires a certain level of grit and determination that is admirable and influences a boy, a culture. I think part of the problem is our society shows its disapproval to the many men who have shirked their duty to home and family. Many homes are raised by single moms who are married, but the man is lost, either in boyhood, lust or addictions. So we see a continual stream of disparaging portrayals of men as buffoons: submissive to more intelligent wives and females in general; fathers children don’t respect; and a whole variety of subtle disgraces.
I’m sure there are higher thoughts and reasons way above me, but I’ll end by stating for the record; all of my son’s are masculine men, good providers, caring fathers and men people look up to. I can tell you this Eric, like I have told many people over the years, I think you are one of the finest Christian men I know. You embody the masculine traits I admire; you are self-reliant, bold and determined, mind open and assessing: rugged and handsome, loving and romantic to your wife, intimate and interested in your children. A force to be reckoned with physically, but tender and compassionate to those in need. Creative and inventive, but treasuring the simple pleasures. Still a man, with a man’s weaknesses, but humble under rebuke and ambitious to grow as a fuller man.
Now, I could gush about all my sons, and write a list far longer for each of them. Maybe I am somewhat biased, but I have never met a person that got to know any of my sons, that did not feel the better for it."
Saturday, April 19, 2008
“Like other gently nurtured Boston boys, Wendell Phillips began the study of law. Doubtless the sirens sang to him, as to the noble youth of every country and time. Musing over Coke and Blackstone, perhaps he saw himself succeeding Ames and Otis and Webster, the idol of society, the applauded orator, the brilliant champion of the elegant ease, and the cultivated conservatism of Massachusetts.
But one October day he saw an American citizen assailed by a furious mob in the city of James Otis for saying with James Otis that a man’s right to liberty is inherent and inalienable. As the jail doors closed upon Garrison to save his life; Garrison and his cause had won their most powerful and renowned ally. With the setting of that October sun, vanished forever the career of prosperous ease, the gratification of ordinary ambition, which the genius and the accomplishments of Wendell Phillips had seemed to foretell. Yes, the long-awaited client had come at last. Scarred, scorned and forsaken, that cowering friendless client was wronged and degraded humanity. The great soul saw and understood.” George Wm. Curtis.
Wikipedia's encyclopedia's account of the event--
One of the most controversial events in pre-Civil War Boston history resulted from an Anti-Slavery Society lecture. In the fall of 1835, the society invited George Thompson, a fiery British abolitionist, to address them. When Thompson was unable to attend, Garrison agreed to take his place. An unruly mob threatened to storm the building in search of Thompson. The Mayor and police persuaded the Boston Female Anti-Slavery members to leave. The mob, however, pursued Garrison through the streets of Boston. Garrison was rescued from lynching and lodged overnight in the Leverett Street Jail before leaving the city for several weeks.
Now there are conflicting reports whether William Lloyd Garrison was the man who was lynched or if it was George Thompson, the quote above and this piece from Wikipedia report it was Garrison, but I have included another report from Wikipedia that is contrary. Either way, Garrison was imprisoned and suffered greatly for his convictions about abolition. The following quote from his newspaper the Liberator will give you some idea of how the hot blood of God pulsed through Garrison’s veins and Christ, with all his vehemence, spoke against this injustice through the lips and pen of Garrison --
“I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as Truth, and as uncompromising as Justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen – but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch – and I will be heard. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead.” William Lloyd Garrison.
On October 21, 1835, the Boston Female Society announced that a certain George Thompson would be speaking. Pro-slavery forces posted close to 500 notices with the reward of $100 for the citizen that would first lay violent hands on him. After a lynch mob formed, he escaped through the back of the hall, hiding in a carpenters shop. The mob then found him, putting a noose around his neck to drag him away. Fortunately, several strong men intervened and took him to the Leverett Street jail. One who witnessed this attempted lynching was one Wendell Phillips, watching from Court Street. After being converted to the abolitionist cause by William Lloyd Garrison in 1836, Phillips stopped practicing law in order to fully dedicate himself to the movement. He joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and frequently made speeches at its meetings. Garrison was a newspaper writer who spoke openly against the wrongs of slavery. Phillips horrified his family when he joined the Massachusetts Anti-slavery Society. His family tried to have him thrown into an insane sanitarium. So highly regarded were his oratorical abilities that he was known as "abolition's Golden Trumpet". Like many of his fellow abolitionists, Phillips took pains to eat no cane sugar and wear no clothing made of cotton, since both were produced by the labor of Southern slaves. It was Phillip's contention that racial injustice was the source of all of society's ills. Like Garrison, Phillips denounced the Constitution for tolerating slavery. In 1845, in an essay titled "No Union With Slaveholders", he argued for disunion:
Photo of statue -Vincenzo Danti - Honor Triumphant over falsehood.
Friday, April 18, 2008
He also found that the peasant who bought his farm was now a prince. One day, digging in the white sand in the stream at the foot of the garden, the peasant saw a shining something that sent his heart to his mouth. Running his hands through the sand, he found it sown with gems. Thus were discovered the Golconda mines. Had Ali Hafed dug in his own garden, instead of starvation, poverty and a broken heart, he would have owned gems that made nations rich.”
Story from Newell Dwight Hillis’s book “A Man’s Value to Society”.
As the Puritans say, “The application is easy.”
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Ralph Venning (1621-74)
When we see the many and mass atrocities committed through all of history, we see the depth and magnitude of sin. God hates sin, I believe, not because it offends Him and his holiness, but because He is love and sin causes sorrow and griefs to man; and like we would recoil in horror if someone were to attack or oppress one of our own children He does likewise and has made a plan to change the heart of man to overcome evil in our own lives and the tyranny of sin perpetrated against others. As Christians, we must also beware of our hearts being hardened and so our effectiveness destroyed.
Photo by Biliana Rakocevic
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
It was tooooo much fun. With that age group nothing is rigid, and I am learning along with them.
I wish I were a younger man, or had a younger man's energy, because I just love being out there with the little kids. Then again tonight, I went to my other grandson's first soccer practice. Dre'Sean has never played before so we went to cheer him on. The coach was in the same situation, and because now I'm a seasoned vet. I volunteered again. Once again I think I had as much fun as the kids. I think we lost 18 to 0, and when it was over one of the kids, somewhat discourage, said, 'Did we get anything'? I said, 'did we get anything? Man, we got exercise, we had the chance to practice, we got to kick the ball and learn so many things. Yes we got something!' That seemed to put the light back on, and then one little girl, nearly as cute as my grand kids, came up to me with a wide eyed grin and reached out to hug me, then had second thoughts and let her arms wilt, so I just smiled and rejoiced about the fun it was. She communicated even though I didn't get the hug physically, I got it.
Oh, what does the picture have to do with soccer? Come on, if you haven't got a ball boys will still play.
Photo by Umair Ghani
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
T.DeWitt Talmage - Photo by Henk Jacobs
Monday, April 14, 2008
I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd finger paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
I'd see the oak tree in the acorn more often.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I'd model less about the love of power,
and more about the power of love.
Diane Loomans - Photo by Greg Olsen
Photo by Reynald Schmid
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I looked for application of John’s great testimony, and considered that as Christians, we too have ‘heard’ Christ, some have had much hearing before this word of life birthed in us, others, like Mary at the tomb, needed only for the Lord to speak her name. John not only heard the words that gave him life, but saw the Lord. As explained in Matt. 25, we see Christ when we “do unto the least of these”. And likewise, we touch the Lord’s body, when we touch humanity as the Holy Spirit groans within us.
I post much about poverty and the oppressed, not that by doing these deeds that we can earn a gift that has already been given us by God, but these acts of mercy and justice are simply the outworking of God’s revealed will and heart. Not his entire will, or entire heart, as Thomas Brooks so aptly explains – “Holiness is not any single grace alone, but a conjunction, a constellation of all graces together.” But if the suffering of man does not touch us, we are but a child in Grace, and need seek the heart of God for more light. Many parts of the “constellation of graces”, are visible to the world and because of his common graces to all, they see these loving acts and the salt in them can cause a thirst for our motives, and it opens doors to apply other graces, namely to testify of the goodness and love of God. As God reminds us all through the Old Testament, and many of Christ’s deeds were to the poor; I never tire of seeing those in need, and they move, this easily distracted heart, to remember and not to take for granted the countless blessings I have, as I’m sure they do for you as well.
A Christian must cry out with him who cried, Lord, I have two mites, a soul and a body, and I give them both to thee. --(Bernard.) And this was the honor and commendations of the Macedonians, that they gave up themselves to the Lord, 2 Cor. 8:5. Having no better present at hand, they present themselves to God; and certainly there is no present more honorable, delectable, and acceptable to God than this of giving up ourselves to God, Rom.12:1.
Well, remember this: that man was never really holy that is not relatively holy; nor that man will never be really happy that is not relatively holy. Without relative holiness there will be no vision of God in everlasting happiness. We must be separated from the corruptions, and pollutions of the world, and we must dedicate ourselves to God, or we shall never come to a future fruition of God."
Thomas Brooks, The Necessity, Excellency, Rarity, and Beauty of Holiness. - Painting by Christensen- The widows mite.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
"The true art to memory is the art of attention. No man will read with much advantage, who is not able, at pleasure, to evacuate his mind, who brings not to his author (or God) an intellect defecated and pure; neither turbid with care, nor agitated with pleasure. If the repositories of thought are already full, what can they receive? if the mind is employed on the past, or future, the book will be held before the eyes in vain."
Photo by Max Levine
Friday, April 11, 2008
“….There are many scriptures that do clearly evidence a possibility of the saints falling into the same sins whereof they have formerly repented. ‘I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from them.’ Saith the Lord by the prophet Hosea14:4. So the prophet Jeremiah speaks: ‘Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord, and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep mine anger for ever. Turn, O backsliding Israel, saith the Lord: for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion’ 3:12, 14. So the psalmist: ‘They turned back, and dealt unfaithfully with their fathers; they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.’ And no wonder, for though their repentance be never so sincere and sound, yet their graces are but weak, and their mortification imperfect in this life. Though by grace they are freed from the dominion of sin, and from the damnatory power of every sin, and from the love of all sin, yet grace doth not free them from the seed of any one sin; and therefore it is possible for a soul to fall again and again into the same sin. If the fire be not wholly put out, who would think it impossible that it could catch and burn again and again?”
This is a holy boldness, this is a true calling. Unmistakable.
Eric Reese, Strategy Coordinator for the urban poor of Rio De Janeiro, and his team of Brazilian nationals are taking the Gospel to the most violent and dangerous slums in all of Latin America. "Into The Favelas" documents what he has encountered there and how God has allowed him to minister in a tumultuous environment.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
The comments and photo are by John Paskey. I don't know him or what he believes, but I like what he sees and thinks.
Monday, April 07, 2008
I like the way he writes and the way he thinks. Something about his style that speaks to me. This following piece is the opening of the chapter and wets my appetite.
"Man is a pilgrim journeying toward the new and beautiful city of the Ideal. Aspiration, not contentment, is the law of his life. Today's triumph dictates new struggles tomorrow. The youth flushed with success may couch down in the tent of satisfaction for one night only. When the morning comes he must fold his tent and push on toward some new achievement. That man is ready for his burial robes who lets his present laurels satisfy him. God has crowned the world with antidotes to contentment and with stimulants to progress. The world is not built for sluggards. The earth is like a road, a poor place for sleeping in, a good thing to travel over. The world is like a forge, unfit for residence, but good for putting temper in a warrior's sword. Life is built for waking up dull men, making lazy men unhappy, and the low-flying miserable.
When other incitements fail, fear and remorse following behind scourge men forward; but ideals in front are the chief stimulants to growth. Each morning, waking, the soul sees the ideal man one ought to be, rising in splendor to shame the man one is.
Columbus was tempted forward by the floating branches, the drifting weeds, the strange birds, unto the new world rich in tropic treasure. So by aspirations and ideals God lures men forward unto the soul's undiscovered country. In the long ago the star moving on before guided the wise men of the East to the manger where the young child lay; and still in man's night God hangs aspirations -- stars for guiding men away from the slough of content to the hills of paradise. The soul hungers for something vast, and ideals lure to the long voyage, the distant harbor, and are the stars by which the pilgrim shapes his course."
Photo by Katja Faith, titled "Wanna be someone else."
Newell Dwight Hillis - Photo by Loren Entz
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Only, in the general, so much preparation there must be as will make the heart reverent. God will be served with a joy mixed with trembling: the heart is never right in worship till it be possessed with an awe of God: 'How dreadful is this place!' Gen28:17. And again, such preparation as will settle the bent of the spirits heavenward. It is said somewhere, 'They set themselves to seek the Lord,' and David saith, Ps. 57:7, 'My heart is fixed, my heart is fixed;' that is, composed to a heavenly and holy frame. And again, such preparation as will make you come humble and hungry. Grace is usually given to the desiring soul: 'He hath filled the hungry with good things,' Luke 1:53. Again, such as erecteth and raiseth the heart into a posture of expectation. It is often said, 'Be it to thee according to thy faith.' They that look for nothing find nothing, Christ's greater things are for those that believe, John 1:50
Thomas Manton - Photo by Rinaldo Romani
Friday, April 04, 2008
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Samuel Johnson - Photo by Pavel Kaplun
Samuel Johnson - Photo by JS Lee
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
“The disposition to think well of others”, versus giving alms etc.
“Next, Charity makes the best construction of things, and persons, and is so far from being an evil spy, a backbiter, or a Detractor, that it excuses Weakness, extenuates Miscarriages, makes the best of every thing; forgives every body, serves all, and hopes to the end.
It moderates extremes, is always for expediences, labors to accommodate differences, and had rather suffer than revenge: And so far from exacting the utmost farthing, that it had rather lose than seek her own violently.
An universal remedy against discord, and an Holy cement for mankind.”