Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Lift up your head, then -- but remember, you cannot set times for God Almighty. The sun rises at its own hour, no matter what time you decide it should come up. Sometimes God comes to you in an ordinance and His heavenly light radiates into your innermost being while He quickens His Word to you. But have you not spent other nights on your face wrestling with God, wondering why He did not satisfy your soul? When someone brings a candle into the dark room we stir around and look for the thing we have lost and soon find what we had groped for in the darkness for hours. we can gauge more of our spiritual condition in a moment of His revelation than in days or weeks of His withdrawal.
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

"In the first chapter of Genesis you may see that animals were placed on the earth before man was – the fish and fowl the fifth day, and the quadruped the morning of the sixth day, and man not until the afternoon of that day. The Whale, the eagle, the lion, and all the lesser creatures of their kind were predecessors of the human family. They have the world by right of possession. They have also paid rent for the places they occupied. What an army of defense all over the land are the faithful watch dogs. And who can tell what the world owes to horse, and camel, and ox for transportation? And robin and lark have, by the cantatas with which they have filled orchard and forest, more than paid for the few grains they have picked up for their sustenance. When you abuse any creature of God you strike its Creator, and you insult the Christ who, though He might have been welcomed into life by princes, and taken His first infantile slumber amid Tyrian plush and canopied couches, and rippling waters from royal aqueducts dripping into basins of ivory and pearl, chose to be born on a level with a cow’s horn, or a camel’s hoof, or a dog’s nostril, that He might be the alleviation of brutal suffering as well as the Redeemer of man.
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
I will lay down my life for you and expect nothing but love in return.
I protect my officer with my life, and would gladly take a bullet in his place.
I am sent in to find lost children and fugitives on the run.
I find drugs and weapons and even bombs.
I am the first sent in and sometimes the last to leave.
I am the nose and ears of my officer.
I will protect and serve him. I would die for him and for you.
I only ask for compassion and a kind word.
Author - Unknown

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Seraphical Notions"

“He that is truly holy, he loves the word, and is affected and taken with the word for its holiness and purity. But some are taken with the word, as it seems to tickle their ears and please their fancies. Some are affected with sermons because of the elegancy of the style, delicacy of the words and gracefulness of the deliver. And these deal by sermons as many men do with nosegays, that are made up of many picked sweet flowers, who, after they have smelt them a while, cast them into a corner. So these, after they have commended a sermon, they cast away the sermon; they smell to the sermon, and say it is sweet, it is sweet, and presently they throw it by, as a nosegay that is withered, and of no further use.
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

“Darwin thought that men have descended from animals, and some men have so literally descended. Some seem to have come through the wolf; some have the fox’s cunning; some have the lions cruelty, and some are as combative as bull-dogs. Now, it is not easy to maintain one’s dignity when a little cur nips your heels behind, and a mastiff threatens you before. And some men seem to unite both elements; they run behind you and nip, they go before to bark and threaten. Under such circumstances it is not easy to live smoothly and charitably. It is as easy to breast the current of rivers, but to stand against the full force of public opinion is hard. But midst all life’s conflicts and clashings this task is upon us. We are to maintain peace, love our enemies, and ultimately master the art of right living with our fellows.”
N. D. Hillis - Photo by Jose A. Gallego
“The measure of manhood is the degree of skill attained in the art of carrying one’s self so as to pour forth upon men all the inspirations of love and hope, and to evoke good even from the meanest and wickedest of mankind. Passing through life, the soul is to be a happiness producer and a joy distributor; and such is to be the weight of goodness in each man, that its mere presence will be felt. For the soul carries power to bless or blight; it can lift up its faculties for smiting, as an enemy lifts the hammer above the fragile vase or delicate marble; through speech man can fill all the sky with storms, or he can sweep all clouds from the horizon. The soul can take the sting out of man’s anger, or it can stir up anger; it can allay strife or whet the keen edge of hatred.”

N. D. Hillis - Photo by Piotr Kowalik

Teach him the study of men...

“The time has fully come when each child should be made ready for life’s battle beforehand, and taught how to armor himself against the tournament. When the schools have trained the child to use tools, given the tongue skill in speaking and the mind skill in thinking, it remains to teach him the study of men, the peculiarities of each of the five temperaments; the nature and number of the animal impulses; the use of the social and industrial impulses; the control of the acquisitive and the spiritual powers. For man’s carriage of himself in the presence of fire and forest is the least of his duties. That which will tax him and distress, and perhaps destroy him, will be the carriage of his faculties midst all the clash and conflict, the din and battle of market and street. And midst all the strife, this is to be his ideal – to bear himself toward his enemies and towards his friends, after the pattern of Him who “makes his sun to shine upon the evil and the good, His rain to fall upon the just and the unjust.”

N.W.Hillis - Painter M.L. Walker

“For majesty and beauty of subtle influence, nothing is comparable to the soul. Not the sun hanging upon the horizon has such power for flower and fruitage as has a full-orbed Christian heart, rich in all good influences, throbbing with kindness and sympathy, radiant s an angel. Great is man’s skill in handling engines of force; marvelous man’s control of winds and rivers; wondrous the master of engines and ideas. But man himself is greater than the tools he invents, and man stands forth clothed with the power to control and influence his fellows, in that he can sweeten their bitterness, allay their conflicts, bear their burdens, surround them with the atmosphere of hope and sympathy. Just in proportion as men have capacity, talent and genius, are they to be guardians, teachers, and nurses for men, bearing themselves tenderly and sympathetically toward ignorance, poverty and weakness….. Should their be in every village and city a conspiracy of a few persons toward this refinement and culture, this beauty and sweet Christian living, the presence of these Christ-formed persons would transform the community. One such harvest-full nature carries power to civilize an entire city. Each Christian youth is to be a man-maker and man-mender. He is to help and not hurt men. This is to walk in love. This is to overcome evil with good. This is to be not a printed but a living gospel. This is to be a master of the art of right living and a teacher of the science of character building.”

N.D. Hillis - Photo by Biliana Rakocevic

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fingers of Pain

I ran across this picture by Keith Leblanc a while back and can't think of anything to say about it other than, it is trippy.

Post from Crowbar Massage

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 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 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

"I was passing along the street when a beggar, a decrepit old man, stopped me. Swollen, tearful eyes, blue lips, bristling rags, unclean sores....... Oh, how horribly had poverty gnawed that unhappy being!
He stretched out to me a red, bloated, dirty hand..... He moaned, he bellowed for help.
I began to rummage in all my pockets... Neither purse, nor watch, nor even handkerchief did I find..... I had taken nothing with me.
And the beggar still waited... and extended his hand, which swayed and trembled feebly.
Bewildered, confused, I shook that dirty, tremulous hand heartily..... "Blame me not, brother; I have nothing."
The beggar fixed his swollen eyes upon me; his blue lips smiled--- and in his turn he pressed my cold fingers.
"Never mind, brother," he mumbled. "Thanks for this also, brother. --- This also is an alms."
I understood that I had received an alms from my brother. -- "The Beggar Man,"
by Turgenef - Photo by Henk Jacobs

Visions That Disturb Contentment

I’m reading a chapter called “Visions that Disturb Contentment”, by Newell Dwight Hillis. He begins the chapter during the days of slave abolition with the following quote, giving example how we have our plans and God has His plans for our lives.

“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

Poverty is discontent

“The Persians have a strange story of the Golconda diamond mines. Once Ali Hafed sat with his wife looking out upon the river that flowed through their farm. Soon their children came through the trees bringing with them a traveler. In confidence the stranger showed Ali Hafed a diamond that shone like a drop of condensed sunshine. He told his host that one large diamond was worth whole mines of copper and silver; that a handful would make him a prince; that a mine of diamonds would buy a kingdom. That night wealthy Ali Hafed went to bed a poor man, for poverty is discontent. When the morning came he sold his farm for gold, and went forth in search of diamonds. Years passed. Old and gray he returned in rags and poverty. He found his dear ones had all died in penury.
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.”
Photo by David Earl

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Sinfulness of Sin.

"Sin pretends to bring milk and butter in a lordly dish, as Jael did to Sisera, but the hammer and nail is in its heart and hand. They who serve diverse lusts are deceived, as the Apostle says (Titus 3:3) All the servants of sin are deceived, not of sin's wages, but by sin's promises. Though they sport themselves, while they play and nibble at the bait like silly fishes, it is only to their own deceiving, for an evil heart has deceived them (2 Peter 2:13). Therefore the Apostle exhorts us to take heed lest we be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). Sin's first work is to deceive us, and when it has thereby drawn us in, it hardens and so destroys us."
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

A friend of mine sent me the video linked below, it's a moving song of patriotism.

Photo by Walter Kaplinski

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Soccer Season

So, this last week I went to my grandson Raleigh's soccer practice. The coach looked as though he needed some help, so I offered my services. Now I have never played soccer, know none of the rules, but with six year olds, I thought I might keep up and maybe help with crowd control.
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

"When griping grief the heart doth wound,
and doleful dumps the mind oppress,
then music, with her silver sound,
with speedy help doth lend redress."
Shakespeare - Photo by Umair Ghani
"I was reading of three women who were in rivalry about the appearance of the hand. And the one reddened her hand with berries and said the beautiful tinge made her hand the most beautiful. And another put her hand in the mountain brook, and said, as the waters dripped off, that her hand was the most beautiful. and another plucked flowers off the bank and under bloom contended that her hand was the most beautiful. Then a poor old woman appeared and looking up in her decrepitude asked for alms. And a woman who had not taken part in the rivalry gave her alms. And all the women resolved to leave to this beggar the question as to which of all the hands present was the most attractive, and she said: "The most beautiful of them all is the one that gave relief to my necessities," and as she so said, her wrinkles and rags and here decrepitude and her body disappeared and in its place thereof stood the Christ, who long ago said: "Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of these, ye did it to me."

T.DeWitt Talmage - Photo by Henk Jacobs

Monday, April 14, 2008

If I had my child to raise over again.

If I had my child to raise all over again,
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
I read something the other day, although I haven’t been able to find it since; I wish I had the quote, but the thought was something like this – We are born innocent, and it is a beautiful thing, but better yet when by experience, innocence matures into virtue. It made me consider how wonderful it is to see the innocence in children, and we work hard to protect it from all who would try and steal it away; greater still is the person that as they mature and are exposed to the harsh realities of the world, applying their faith in God, and with love and guidance from caring parents, learn to guard their own heart and become a virtuous young lady or man. Innocence will not last forever, but virtue can.

Photo by Reynald Schmid

Sunday, April 13, 2008

"Constellation of Graces".

I was speaking at the Nursing Home last week and my text was 1John: 1-2.
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.
Sculpture by Mark Hopkins

Relative holiness - separation of persons from common use.

"He that dedicates himself to God, dedicates all; he that doth not dedicate himself, dedicates nothing at all. What Aeschines once said to Socrates - Others, said he, give thee gold, silver, jewels, but I give thee myself; that must a Christian say to his God, Ah, Lord! there are some that give thee their lips, but I give thee my heart; others give thee good words, good expressions, but I give thee the best of my affections; others give thee a few cold prayers, but I give thee my whole soul; and had I as many hearts in my body as I have hairs on my head, I would give them all to thee: for thou art worthy, thou only art worthy. What the king of Israel once said to the king of Syria, 'I am thine, and all that I have,' 1Kings 20:4 that must a Christian say to his Christ, 'I am thine, O Lord, and all that I have.'
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

I think one of the reasons people read less today is simply because there are so many distractions. The following quote by Samuel Johnson condenses this, and I think it is why we have difficulty getting meaning from the Bible, or understanding a poem or some thought that causes us to stretch our neck. To meditate, contemplate or pray require this prescription--

"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?”
Thomas Brooks - Photo by Elena Getzieh
My son Matt sent me this youtube video of a preacher's ministry in the slums of Rio De Janeiro.
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.

Braving Bullets

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"As wife and mother, a woman is seen in her most sacred and dignified character, as such she has great influence over the characters of individuals, over the condition of families, and over the destinies of empires. It is a fact that many of our noblest patriots, our most profound scholars, and our holiest ministers, were stimulated to their excellence and usefulness by those holy principles which they derived in early years from pious mothers.
Our mothers are our earliest instructors, and they have an influence over us, the importance of which, for time and eternity, surpasses the power of language to describe.
Every mother should be a Sabbath School teacher. Her own children should be her class; and her home should be her school house. Then her children will bless her for her tenderness and care; for her pious instructions, her fervent prayers, and the holy example."
Anonymous - Photo by Subir Basak

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"Blest as the immortal gods is he,

The youth who fondly sits by thee,

And hears and sees thee all the while

Softly speak and sweetly smile."

Sappho - Photo by John Paskey

Smoky offensive souls

"Men should not be too curious in prying into the weaknesses of others. We should labor rather to see what they have that is for eternity, to incline our heart to love them.....
The Holy Ghost is content to dwell in smoky, offensive souls. Oh, that that Spirit would breath into our spirits the same merciful disposition! We endure the bitterness of wormwood, and other distasteful plants and herbs, only because we have some experience of some wholesome quality in them; and why should we reject men of useful talents and graces, only for some harshness of disposition, which, as it is offensive to us, so it grieves themselves?
Grace, while we live here, is in souls which, because they are imperfectly renewed, dwell in bodies subject to several humours, and these will incline the soul sometimes to excess in one passion, sometimes to excess in another. Bucer was a deep and moderate divine. After long experience he resolved to refuse none in whom he saw something of Christ. The best Christians in this state of imperfection are like gold that is a little too light, which needs some grains of allowance to make it pass. You must grant the best their allowance. We must supply out of love and mercy that which we see wanting in them. The church of Christ is a common hospital, wherein all are in some measure sick of some spiritual disease or other, so all have occasion to exercise the spirit of wisdom and meekness.
Richard Sibbes - Photo by Mike Trobee

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Righteous Indignation

"Another one of those "not to good technically" but still one of my favorite photos from my experience in Cambodia. This photo reminds me of the ignorance and selfishness I saw by the tourists who visit. In this photo I see a little child trying to live (she was selling fans - you can see part of a pink one on the extreme left side) while the tourists, tired of the constant onslaught of children, just walk by and ignore her. We were sitting there for a few minutes and just watching the crowds go by and noticed how no one would even so much as give her a "hello" or a "no" but would just plain ignore her. I'm not saying anyone should have bought anything from her, but at least treat her like a person. At one point we even saw a man raise his hand a little like he was going to push her out of his way. It really makes me ashamed to be part of the "western world" to see how ignorant people can be. I will even admit that I went to Cambodia to see Angkor....and was glad to see the temples. But more impressive to me were the people. I was glad the temples were there to distract all the tourists so I could interact with the children and try to learn a little from them without much interference. So I guess I want to thank all the ignorant people for leaving the real Angkor all to me....Thanks."

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'm starting the chapter called "Aspirations and Ideals", in the book by Newell Dwight Hillis,
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."
“Life’s crowning victory belongs to those who have won no brilliant battle, suffered no crushing wrong; who have figured in no great drama, whose sphere was obscure, but who have loved great principles midst small duties, nourished sublime hopes amid vulgar cares, and illustrated eternal principles in trifles.”
Newell Dwight Hillis - Photo by Loren Entz

Sunday, April 06, 2008

"And, as when a stone is flung into some sleeping tarn,

The circle widens till it lip the marge,

Spread the slow smile thro' all her company."

Tennyson - Photo by Mirjam Letsch

"Lives there whom pain hath evermore pass'd by

And sorrows shunned with an averted eye?

Him do thou pity, him above the rest,

Him of all hopeless, mortals most unbless'd.

William Watson - Photo by rajesh soni

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Distressing disguise

"If sometimes our poor people have had to die of starvation, it is not because God didn't care for them, but because you and I didn't give, were not instruments of love in the hands of God, to give them bread, to give them clothing; because we did not recognize him, when once more Christ came in distressing disguise -- in the hungry man, in the lonely man, in the homeless child, and seeking for shelter."
When I came across this picture it repelled me and I passed by it quickly, but then I had a prompting to go back and look upon him as someone God loves. It has been difficult, and when I thought about posting him, at first I thought him to distressing to add. But as I overcame the shock of his afflictions, I knew I had to post him, with Proverbs 28:27 in mind - "He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses." I wonder if the "many curses" are those we endure because of a heart that becomes trained to shut off needs and the resulting lack of depth to our lives?
Mother Teresa - Photo by J F Ochoa, Abandoned

Preparing the heart

"By way of direction. I cannot go out into all the severals of preparation, how the heart must be purged, faith exercised, repentance renewed, wants and weaknesses reviewed, God's glory considered, the nature, grounds, and ends of the ordinances weighed in our thoughts.
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

Gold and Goodness

"God sends prosperity to lift character to its highest levels. It is an error to suppose that the higher manhood flourishes in extreme poverty. Watkinson has beautifully said that "humility is never so lovely as when arrayed in scarlet; moderation is never so impressive as when it sits at banquets; simplicity is never so delightful as when it dwells amidst magnificence; purity is never so divine as when its unsullied robes are worn in a king's palace; gentleness is never so touching as when it exists in the powerful. When men combine gold and goodness, greatness and godliness, genius and graces, human nature is at its best."
Newell Dwight hillis - Photo by Giangiorgio Crisponi

"Each youth is a new creature, full of delightful and mysterious possibilities. Each brain comes clothed with its own secret, having its own orbit, attaining its own unique experience. Ours is a world in which each individual, each country , each age, each day, has a history peculiarly its own.
This newness is a perpetual stimulant to curiosity and study. Gladstone's recipe for never growing old is, "Search out some topic in nature or life in which you have never hitherto been interested, and experience its fascinations." For, some, once a picture or book has been seen, the pleasure ceases. Delight dies with familiarity. Such persons look back to the days of childhood as to the days of wonder and happiness. But the man of real vision ever beholds each rock, each herb and flower with the big eyes of children, and with a mind of perpetual wonder. For him the seed is a fountain gushing with new delights. Every youth should repeat the experience of John Ruskin. Such was the enthusiasm that this author felt for God's world, that when he approached some distant mountain or saw the crags hanging over the waters, or the clouds marching through the sky, "a shiver of fear, mingled with awe," set him quivering with joy....."
Newell Dwight Hillis, "A man's value to society". Photo by Walter Tatulinski

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

"As pride is sometimes hid under humility, idleness is often covered by turbulence and hurry. He that neglects his own duty, and real employment, naturally endeavours to crowd his mind with something that may bar out the remembrances of his own folly, and does anything but what he ought to do, with eager diligence, that he may keep himself in his own favor."
Samuel Johnson - Photo by Pavel Kaplun

Phantoms of horror.....

"Fear is implanted in us as a preservative from evil; but its duty, like that of other passions, is not to overbear reason, but to assist it; nor should it be suffered to tyrannise in the imagination, to raise phantoms of horror, or beset life with supernumerary distresses."
Samuel Johnson - Photo by JS Lee

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Top photo by Szabolcs Nemeth, bottom photo by Jim Manganella

Universal remedy

I ran across this paragraph by William Penn and his prescription for unity encompasses nearly all we need.
His use of the word charity in the context of this paragraph is to be defined as –
“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.”
Photo by Mg Lizi - Blu circle