Sunday, June 29, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
"There are saints, and there are excellent saints. Now those are the excellent ones, that are most rich in heavenly treasures; and these you should make your bosom friends, your choicest companions: Prov. 13:20, 'He that walketh with the wise men shall be wise;' that is, he shall be more wise, more humble, more holy, and more abounding in spiritual riches. Not he that talks with the wise, nor he that commends the wise, nor he that takes a step or two with the wise that shall be wise, but he that gives up himself to the society and company of the wise, that shall be more and more wise, gracious and holy. He that cometh where sweet spices or ointments are stirring, doth carry away some of the sweet savour, though himself think not of it. The spouse's lips drop as the honeycomb: Cant. 4:10, 'The tongue of the just is as choice silver,' he scatters pearls, he throws abroad treasures where he comes: Prov. 15:7, 'The lips of the wise disperse knowledge.'
Christ says his spouse's lips are like a thread of scarlet, with talking of nothing but a crucified Christ; and thin like a thread, not swelled with other vain and wicked discourses."
Thomas Brooks - Photo by Matusciac Alex
Thursday, June 26, 2008
" I have read of one that did not fear what he did, nor what he suffered, so he might get riches; 'For,' saith he, 'men do not ask how good one is, or how gracious one is, but how rich one is.' Oh, Sirs! the day is a-coming when God will ask how rich your souls are; how rich you are in faith, in wisdom, in knowledge, in fear, etc.; and not how rich you are in money, or in jewels, or in land, or in goods, but how rich are you in grace; which should provoke your souls to strive in the face of all discouragements to be rich in grace. What will not the merchant do, and mariner do, for those temporal riches? Oh the dangers, the hazards, the tempests, the storms, the deaths that they run through for earthly riches, which are never without their sting! And shall not Christians labor in the face of all oppositions after spiritual riches?
It is reported of Vevessan the lawyer, that he should say, 'He that will not venture his body can never be valiant; and he that will not venture his soul will never be rich.' I am sure that man that will not venture, and venture hard, in the face of all discouragements, to be spiritually rich, will never be rich. He may be good in the main, and may go to heaven in a storm; but he will never be rich in spirituals, that will not venture himself to the uttermost for the gain of spiritual riches."
Thomas Brooks - Painting by Christopher Walker
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Alonzo Cano, the Spanish sculptor, completed a beautiful statue in twenty-five days. When the sordid merchant who had employed him wished to pay him by the day, he cried out, indignantly, “Wretch! I have been at work twenty-five years, learning to make this stature in twenty-five days.”
It is said that the greatest sermon ever preached by Dr. Lyman Beecher, the father of Henry, -- one of the most powerful pulpit orators in America, -- was one on “The Government of God.” When asked, as he descended the pulpit steps, how long it took him to prepare that sermon, he replied, “About forty years, sir.”
The Will and the Way by William Mathews. Photo by Naret Visevongsa, Thailand
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The following quote is from Thomas Brooks sermon "A Cabinet of Jewels", in which he speaks to putting our treasure in heaven.
"The poor man's hand is Christ treasury, and he shall not lose his reward that casts his mites into that treasury. It is fabled of Midas, that whatever he touched he turned it into gold. But this is most sure, that whatever the hand of charity toucheth, it turneth it into gold, - be it but a cup of cold water, -- nay, into heaven itself : Mat. 10:42 'And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.' Cold water, having not fuel to heat it, cold water which cost not the charge of fire to warm it. A sea of pleasures, a heaven of blessings attends men of charitable minds, though their charity can extend no further than a cup of cold water; for God measures men's deeds by their minds, and not their minds by their deeds."
Photo by Brett Walker
Saturday, June 21, 2008
From William Still, diary entry: "Great fears were entertained for her safety, but she was wholly devoid of personal fear. The idea of being captured by slave-hunters or slave holders, seemed never to enter her mind."
"We saw the lightning and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped."
From Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 1859 letter: "... a more ordinary specimen of humanity could hardly be found among the most unfortunate-looking farm hands of the South. Yet in point of courage, shrewdness, and disinterested exertions to rescue her fellow-man, she was without equal."
The power of grace in the soul.
That man that hath but so much grace as will keep hell and his soul asunder, will never live up to his principles. Souls weak in grace are too apt to deny, and in their practices to contradict, their own principle; and oh that this age could not furnish with too many instances of this nature! Oh! What is that, that is the reproach of religion and the dishonor of God and the gospel but this, that professors live below their principles, that they live not up to his own principles, but will upon every occasion and temptation be ready to wound two at once; the honor of God and his own soul. Yea, men that are not rich in grace, will be ready to deny their own principles…….”
“The young philosophers were very forward to get the precepts of their sect and the rules of severity, that they might discourse with kings and nobles, not that they reform their own manners. Many professors in this age are like those philosophers; they are very industrious to get knowledge, that they may be able to discourse, and that they may be eyed, owned, and honored among others, for their knowledge and understanding. But now souls that are rich in grace, they labor after greater measures of grace, out of love to grace, and because of an excellency that they see in grace. Grace is a very sparkling jewel, and he that loves it, and pursues after it for its own native beauty, hath much of it within him.” Thomas Brooks
In the Christian life much is said about the wonder, glory, and joy given by the Holy Spirit. But what must never be lost is that this is a means to an end in God’s economy. We are saved by this glorious grace to become God’s workmanship created to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2:8-10
We know that in us there is no good thing, but when God captures the heart with His grace, he sets the heart on fire, and this fire will go to the most remote parts of the world to labor and suffer for the good of others; Mother Teresa would be the perfect example of this. Another will travel night and day for years spreading the hope of God’s message through all manner of obstacles; John Wesley would be an example of this. Others empowered by this gift of grace will sacrifice there wants so they may send money and aid clear across the world to people they have never met because this love for mankind boils, burns and bursts into acts of charity motivated by this Great Grace God gives. Grace in the heart translates into compassion for others. The more grace, the more motivation, love and action.
Schools are erected, hospitals built, orphans cared for, widows supported, hope for the hopeless, oppression resisted, purity and innocence protected and defended.
Oh this matchless grace that works in the heart of man to love one another as He loves us.
I’ll leave off with two passages that clarify this heart changing, soul moving, compassion compelling grace.
Job, a man filled with grace, called by God blameless and upright speaks of the out-workings of grace in chapter 29 –
“…I rescued the poor who cried for help and the fatherless who had none to assist him. The man who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing.
I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. I broke the jaws of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth.”
And lastly Isaiah 58:6- thru
Is not this the purpose of grace – “…to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and bread every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
Amazing Grace, to minister to the practical and the spiritual needs of the entire world thereby glorifying God, saving souls, and enjoying Him forever.
Friday, June 20, 2008
In Thomas Brooks epistle dedication, he lists a number of reasons why he wrote the sermon that follows. One of the reasons caught my eye and I have written it below --
"There are many who place all their religion in opinions, in brain-sick notions, in airy speculations, in quaint disputations, in immediate revelations, and in their warm zeal for this or that form of worship. Now, that these may be recovered, and healed, and prevented from doing further mischief in the world, I have at this time put to a helping hand."
Forgive me but that makes me chuckle.
Photo by mehmet alci
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I was reading in Romans 12, which is so rich in practical Christianity, and I came across verse 16. "Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position." This is a powerful verse, and I pondered on it for some time, then decided to see what Matthew Henry's commentary had to say. It read --
"Be willing to associate with people of low position" We need not be ashamed to converse with the lowly, while the great God overlooks heaven and earth to look at such. True love values grace in rags as well as scarlet. A jewel is a jewel, though it lies in the dirt. "Associate"; that is, suit yourself to them for their good. (By the way, that definition of associate, really struck me), He adds, "Do not be conceited", do not be confident of the sufficiency of your own wisdom, nor be reluctant to communicate what you have to others. It is the merchandise of commerce, receiving and returning."
What struck me was the last line, don't be over confident nor under confident. Because, when you suit yourself for another's good, and listen to their wisdom and share what you have learned, it is good Christian commerce. I like that. I chose this picture as an illustration of "good Christian commerce", this woman, with no doubt much wisdom to share, and this child with brimming love to return, I see lots of good commerce in this picture.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Gregory the Great was wont to say that he was poor whose soul was void of grace, not whose coffers were empty of money.
Thomas Brooks - Sculpture of Mary Magdelan, rich in mercy.
Monday, June 16, 2008
"..... The national character will necessarily depend more upon the moral qualities of the many than the few. And the same qualities which determine the character of individuals also determines the character of nations. Unless they are high minded, truthful, honest, virtuous, and courageous, they will be held in light esteem by other nations, and be without weight in the world. To have character they must needs also be reverential, disciplined, self-controlling, and devoted to duty. The nation that has no higher god than pleasure, or even dollars or calico, must needs be in a poor way. It were better to revert to Homer's gods than be devoted to these, for the heathen deities at least imagined human virtues, and were something to look up to."
Samuel Smiles 1882 - photo by Scott Cromwell, A Splash of Patriotisim.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
The following piece is by Jonathan Edwards. This was found in his journal. Edwards was considered one of the most mystical of the Puritans and in this piece he shares the moment of divine rapture. Jonathan Edwards was used by God in the great spiritual awakening during the 1700s. Thanks to Mel for sharing with me a book about Edwards by John Piper.
Sometimes, only mentioning a single word caused my heart to burn
within me; or only seeing the name of Christ, or the name of some
attribute of God. . . . The sweetest joys and delights I have experienced,
have not been those that have arisen from a hope of my own good
estate, but in a direct view of the glorious things of the gospel.
Once, as I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737, having
alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has
been, to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view that for
me was extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God, as Mediator
between God and man, and his wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet
grace and love, and meek and gentle condescension. This grace that
appeared so calm and sweet, appeared also great above the heavens. The
person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent with an excellency great
enough to swallow up all thought and conception—which continued,
as near as I can judge, about an hour; which kept me the greater part of
the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul
to be, what I know not otherwise how to express, emptied and annihilated;
to lie in the dust, and to be full of Christ alone; to love Him with
a holy and pure love; to trust in Him; to live upon Him; to serve and
follow Him; and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure, with a divine
and heavenly purity. I have, several other times, had views very much
of the same nature, and which have had the same effects.
Picture by Paula Grenside.
They have a stick to which a magnet is attached to one end. They walk and hold the magnet a little above the ground. All iron pieces such as rusty nails etc. lying on the road stick to the magnet. They collect these iron pieces in a tin which they carry. They collect 7 to 8 kilos of iron pieces every day which will fetch them about Rs.100( $2) a day.
The only difficulty with this mode of work is that they have to walk 8 to 10 kilometres every day. The elderly man was telling me that his young friend was not happy to walk such long distances every day. I gave Rs.10 to the young man for them to have some tea and told him God has given him two good legs to walk and walking is good for health. The elderly man looked very happy at my motivational talk."
MAY GOD GIVE THEM HEALTH AND HAPPINESS!
I borrowed this post from Joseph Pulikotil's blog. I found it a very interesting post describing a slice of life in India.
I was struck by the ingenuity of these two men and admire their hard work to make a living.
I also like the advice Joseph gave them.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Photo by Dionys Moser
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
"Wit being an unexpected copulation of ideas, the discovery of some occult relation between images in appearance remote from each other; an effusion of wit, therefore, presupposes an accumulation of knowledge; a memory stored with notions, which the imagination may well cull out to compose new assemblages. Whatever may be the native vigor of the mind, she can never form many combinations from few ideas; as many changes can never be rung upon few bells.
Now, it is common to find men break out into a rage at any insinuations to the disadvantage of their wit, who have borne with great patience reflections on their morals."
Samuel Johnson - photo by Marina Cano
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
"The riches of Christ are harmless riches. They are riches that will not hurt the soul, that will not harm the soul. Where is there a soul to be found in all the world that was ever made worse by spiritual riches? Oh but earthly riches have cast down many, they have slain many. If poverty, with Saul, hath killed her thousands, riches, with David, hath killed her ten thousands. Eccles. 5:13, 'There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt'. Earthly riches are called thorns, and well they may; for as thorns, they pierce both head and heart; the head with cares in getting them, and the heart with grief in parting with them. Oh the souls that riches have pierced through and through with many sorrows! Oh the minds that riches have blinded! Oh the hearts that riches have hardened! Oh the consciences that riches have benumbed! Oh the wills that riches have perverted! Oh the affections that riches have disordered and destroyed! Earthly riches are very vexing, very defiling, very dividing, and to multitudes prove very ruining.
It was a wise and Christian speech of Charles the Fifth to the Duke of Venice, who, when he had showed him the glory of his princely palace and earthly paradise, instead of admiring it, or him for it, only returned him this grave and serious memento, "These are the things which make us unwilling to die."
Thomas Brooks 1608-1680
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
And second, the beauty in the young.
Top photo by Henk Jacobs, bottom photo by Mirjam Letsch
Young men are fitter to invent than judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; for new projects than for settled business. The errors of young men are the ruin of business; but the errors of aged men amount but to this--that more might have been done, or sooner. Young men, in the conduct and manage of actions, embrace more than they can hold, stir more than they can quiet; fly to the end without consideration of the means and degrees; care not to innovate, which draws unknown inconveniences ; use extreme remedies at first; and that which doubleth all errors, like an unready horse, that will not either stop or turn. Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent to soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success. Certainly it is good to compound employments of both...... Francis Bacon
Photo by Birte Ragland
Monday, June 09, 2008
"To put every man in possession of his own time, and rescue the day from a succession of usurpers, is beyond hope; yet, perhaps, some stop might be put to this unmerciful persecution, if all would seriously reflect, that whoever pays a visit that is not desired, or talks longer than the hearer is willing to attend, is guilty of an injury which he cannot repair, and takes away that which he cannot give."
Samuel Johnson - photo by Hitesh Pandya
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Saturday, June 07, 2008
"Who is more indefatigable in toil, when there is occasion for toil, than a friend? Who is readier to rejoice in one's good fortune? Whose praise is sweeter? From whose lips does one learn the truth with less pain? What fortress, what bulwarks, what arms are more steadfast than loyal hearts?"
Photo by Paul Wager - Laos
The Puritan’s sense of priorities in life was one of their greatest strengths. Putting God first and valuing everything else in relation to him was a recurrent Puritan Theme.
The Puritans know that only God can satisfy people permanently and at the deepest level. John Winthrop wrote that “only the fruition of Jesus Christ and the hope of heaven can give us true comfort and rest.” He accordingly “resolved by the grace of God….not to allow my heart to delight more in anything than in the comfort of my salvation.”
Having identified God as “the great and ultimate object of religion,” Samuel Willard went on to conclude that “the knowledge of him is the first thing necessary to be sought after.” In such a hierarchy of values, the great mistake that a person can make is to “neglect his precious soul.”
For the Puritans, spiritual reality was the great single principle in life, the ultimately important factor. Samuel Willard wrote:
"The generality of men take their measures from the observation of outward providence: if there be outward peace and plenty, they call them happy days; of out ward distress and trouble, they call them evil. But we have a better rule, and more safe for Christians….. The more of Christ that a people enjoy, the happier are they, and the less He is known and acknowledged in his great design of mediatorship, the greater is the unhappiness of such a people.”
Delight in God’s presence was what the Puritans sought and found. Baxter’s parting advice to his parishioners at Kedderminster was to “be sure to maintain a constant delight in God.” Cornelius Burges preached that every person should
“lift up his soul to take hold of God, to be glued and united to him… to be only his forever.” For Thomas Watson, one of the signs of being a child of God “is to delight to be much in God’s presence.”
John Winthrop’s account of his life after his conversion sounded the authentic Puritan note: “I was now grown familiar with the Lord Jesus Christ; he would oft tell me he loved me. I did not doubt to believe him; if I went abroad, he went with me, when I returned, he come home with me. I talked with him upon the way, he lay down with me, and usually I did awake with him; and so sweet was his love to me, as I desired nothing but him in heaven or earth.”
The Puritan vision was not simply theocentric, but was Christocentric, William Perkins concluded his treatise on preaching with the statement, “The sum of the sum: preach one Christ by Christ to the praise of Christ.”
When Oliver Cromwell’s daughter was approaching her marriage, he wrote to her: - ‘Dear heart, let not anything cool thy affections after Christ. That which is best worthy of love in thy husband is that of the image of Christ he bears. Look on that and love it best, and all the rest for that’.
Samuel Ward wrote, “O Lord, give us grace to consider how that all our night watching and all ought to tend to this end, to the winning of Christ.’
And Richard Sibbes wrote: “Christ himself is ours. In the dividing of all things, some men have wealth, honors, friends and greatness, but not Christ…but a Christian hath Christ himself….Therefore what if he lacks those lesser things, he hath the main… the spring, the ocean, him to whom all things are.”
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Express scripture speaks out this truth. He is rich in goodness: Rom. 2:4, 'Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness,' his 'native goodness', that is ready to be employed for thy internal and external good.
Again, He is rich in wisdom and knowledge: Col. 2:3, 'In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.'
Again, He is rich in grace: Eph. 1:7, 'By whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.'
Again, He is rich in glory: Eph. 1:18, 'That ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.'
You may judge of riches of Christ by this, that he doth not only enrich all the saints, but all of the saints.
That is, he enriches all the faculties of their souls; he enriches their understandings with glorious light; their consciences with quickness, pureness, tenderness and quietness; and their wills with holy intentions and heavenly resolutions; and their affections of love, joy, fear, etc. with life, heat, and warmth, and with the beauty and glory of the most soul-enriching, soul-delighting, soul-ravishing, and soul-contenting objects. All saint's experiences seal to this truth, and therefore a touch shall suffice."
He gives ten principles in his answer, which are lengthy, but he gives one illustration that caught my attention.
"Tenthly and lastly, Such will mourn for wicked men's sins as well as their own. Oh the tears, the sighs, the groans, that other's sins fetch from these men's hearts! Pambus, in the ecclesiastical history, wept when he saw a harlot dressed with much care and cost, partly to see one take so much pains to go to hell, and partly because he had not been so careful to please God, as she had been to please a wanton lover." Jer. 9:2 2nd Peter 2:7-9
I don't mean to insinuate that the girl in the picture is a harlot, but merely one who has taken far more care and cost in dressing than I most likely have spent in pleasing God today.
Photo by James Pan
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
An humble soul, though he be of never so rare abilities, yet he will not disdain to be taught what he knows not, by the meanest persons.
Apollos, 'an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures,' a master in Israel, and yet sits by an Aquila, a tent-maker, and Pricilla his wife, to be instructed by them. Sometimes the poorest and the meanest Christian may, for counsel and comfort, be a god to another, as Moses was to Aaron.
As an humble soul knows that the stars have their situations in heaven, though sometimes he sees them by their reflection in a puddle, in the bottom of a well, or in a stinking ditch........"
Thomas Brooks 1608-1680 Photo by Luc Majno
Monday, June 02, 2008
The following poem is about an old farmer driving his team of horses to town to deliver his hay; when he heard an old man fiddling and it takes him back in time. The dialect (almost like a riddle), is difficult to read and the terms are antiquated, but if you catch his spell, it is rich.
What is it in old fiddle-chunes
'at makes me ketch my breath
And ripples up my backbone tel I'm
tickled most to death? --
Kind o' like that sweet-sick feelin', in
the long sweep of a swing,
The first time you ever swung in, with
yer first sweetheart, I jing!--
I never understood it -- and I s'pose I
But right in town here, yisterd'y I
heard a pore blind man
A-fiddlin' old "Gray Eagle" -- And
sir! I jes' stopped my load
O' hay and listened at him - yes,
and watched the way he "bow'd,"-
and back I went, plum forty year'
with boys and girls I knowed
and loved, long 'fore my dancin'
days wuz over! --
At high noon in yer city, - with yer
blame' Magnetic cars
A-hummin' and a-scretchin' past - and
bands and G.A.R.'s
A-marchin' -and fire-ingines, - All
the noise, the whole street through,
Wuz lost on me! - I only heard a
whipperwill er two,
It 'peared-like, kind 'o callin' 'crost
the darkness and the dew,
Them nights afore my dancin'-
days wuz over.
The woods 'ats all be'n cut away wuz
growin' same as then;
The youngsters all wuz boys ag'in 'at's
now all oldish men;
And all the girls 'at then wuz girls --
I saw 'em, one and all,
As plain as then -- the middle-sized
the short-and-fat, and tall --
And 'peared-like, I danced "Tucker"
fer 'em up and downd the wall
Jes' like afore my dancin'-days wuz
The fact is, I wuz dazed so 'at I clean
fergot jes' where
I railly wuz, -- a blockin' streets, and
still a-standin' there;
I heard the po'leece yellin', but my
ears wuz kind o' blurred--
My eyes, too, fer the odds o' that,--
bekase I thought I heard
My wife 'ats dead, a-laughin'-like,
and jokin', word fer word
Jes' like afore her dancin'-days wuz
James Whitcomb Riley - photographer unknown
Sunday, June 01, 2008
He was covered with wounds and dirt and maggots, and I cleaned him and I knew I was touching the body of Christ."
"Some months back a man who had been beaten up was picked up from the streets of Melbourne. He was and alcoholic who had been for years in that state, and the Sisters took him to their Home of Compassion. From the way they touched him, the way they took care of him, suddenly it was clear to him: "God loves me!" He left the home and never touched alcohol again, and went back to his family, to his children, to his job. Later, when he got his first salary, he came to the Sisters and gave them the money, saying: "I want you to be for others the love of God, as you have been to me."
I love this picture of Mother Teresa because I see in her face a stern determination that this child, which I imagine she sees as hers now, will be taken care of and all of heaven will see that it is so.
The words of her song continue to resonate with my soul. "I saw what I saw and I can't forget it,
your pain has changed me, your dreams inspire, your hope a fire, your face a memory." When I watch documentary videos of people in the deepest poverty or greatest of oppression, there seems to be nothing that can be so whelming that it is able to overcome the fire of hope and the dream of a better day. The lyric, "your courage asks me what I am made of, what I know of love", is haunting but her words "We are what we are and it's more than enough", is truly the answer. If we watch what God is doing and add what we are to it, it will be enough. I'm glad there are gifted song writers and poets that can put into words my stumbling thoughts.
Photo by Ales Og