Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In my previous post I talked about how I think God reaches out to people with the Holy Spirit even to the ends of the earth to draw people to himself. And in the event that they have never heard of the Gospel or the blessed name of Jesus Christ; God will none the less use nature and conscience to draw each person, so none will have excuse, and all will have opportunity to be saved by the blood of Christ, even if after death they are given opportunity to believe in what in life they never heard. That being said, I think this poem by an Indian poet and philosopher will testify to all Christians that God is drawing this man. Read it and contemplate if this is truth calling or not.

Because of Thee

Life of my life, I shall ever try to keep my body pure, knowing that thy living touch is upon all my limbs.

I shall ever try to keep all untruths out from my thoughts, knowing that thou art that truth which has kindled the light of reason in my mind.

I shall ever try to drive all evils away from my heart and keep my love in flower, knowing that thou hast they seat in the inmost shrine of my heart.

And it shall be my endeavor to reveal thee in my actions, knowing it is thy power gives me strength to act." Rabindranath Tagore - 1861

Joseph, if you know of this man I would be interested in any information you may have before I go to the encyclopedia.

Please understand my position; I'm not a Universalist, I don't believe all are saved, but those who answer the call to conscience and nature with the light God has given them, will have opportunity in like manner as we after death, to hear the Gospel and choose to believe if they never heard it during their life.

It is hard to read this man's prayer and conclude that he is not responding to the call of God as he understands him in my estimation.

Photo of Buddhist Monk by Daniel Bayer

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The following piece by Fenelon is a caution regarding the mystical pursuit that can lead to illusion. He takes a cautions approach without denying the reality, and offers a test where one can be sure a gift is from God or from our imagination. Most people I know that have experienced the extraordinary blessings, were open to receiving, but were taken by surprise when they arrived because at the time of visitation they were not seeking. So his advice, though conservative, is not in oppostion because --" such detachment will not hinder them from leaving their marks upon the soul;"
“I cannot pretend to form any opinions as to your sincerity or to judge of the things you profess to experience. Generally speaking, I should fear that reading about extraordinary spiritual matters tends to affect weak imaginations to excess.
Moreover, self-love easily flatters itself that it has attained the altitudes which it has admired in books. It seems to me that the only course in such a case is to take no notice of such things. I advise you never to dwell voluntarily on such “extraordinary experiences.” This is the real way of discovering how much self-conceit has to do with these supposed gifts. Nothing tends so much to pique self-conceit, and bring illusions to light, as a simple direction to set aside the marvelous, and to require a person who aspires to the marvelous to act as though nothing of the sort existed. Without such a test, I do not think a person can be proved thoroughly, and without it I do not think due caution has been taken against illusion.

The Blessed John of the Cross advises souls to look beyond such light, and to abide in the twilight of simple faith. If the gifts be real, such detachment will not hinder them from leaving their marks upon the soul; if not, such uncompromising faith will be a sure guarantee against illusion. Moreover, such a line will not keep a soul back from God’s true leadings, for there is no opposition. It can only vex self-conceit, which finds a hidden complacency in such unusual gifts; and that self-conceit is the very thing which needs pruning. Or even if such gifts are unquestionably real and good, it is most important to learn detachment from them, and to live by simple faith. However excellent the gifts may be, detachment from them is better still. “And yet show I you a more excellent way” – the way of faith and love; not clinging either to sight, feeling, or taste – only to obedience to the Beloved One. Such a way is simple, real, straightforward, free from the snares of pride.”

I love reading Fenelon, most of his works are in the form of letters sent to those he mentored.
They have a warm, personal feel, along with his keen insights. Enjoy--

“It seems to me that you need greater liberality as to the faults of others. I grant you that you cannot help seeing them when they are forced upon you, or avoid your inevitable conclusions as to the principles on which some seem to act.
Neither can you avert a certain annoyance which such things cause. Suffice it if you try to bear with obvious faults, avoiding judging such as are doubtful, and resist the dislike which estranges you from people.

Perfection finds it easy to bear with the imperfections of others, and to be all things to all men. One ought to learn to put up with the most obvious faults in worthy souls, and to leave them alone until God gives the sign for a gradual weeding; else one is likely to tear up the good grain with the weeds. God often leaves certain infirmities besetting the most advanced souls, such as seem quite out of character with their excellence; just as in reclaimed ground men leave tokens to show how extensive the work of clearance has been. God leaves such tokens to show whence He has brought them.”

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"By study and meditation we improve the hints that we have acquired by observation, conversation, and reading; we take more time in thinking, and by the labor of the mind we penetrate deeper into the themes of knowledge, and carry our thoughts sometimes much farther on many subjects than we ever met with either in the books of the dead or discourses of the living. It is our own reasoning that draws out one truth from another, and forms a whole scheme of science from a few hints which we borrowed elsewhere." Isaac Watts.

I think these principles apply to the Holy Scriptures as well. There we have these helps and the Spirit of God and his leading as well. Obvious care must be taken with Holy things, and there is safety with a multitude of counselors, but on some subjects we face a resistance to inquiry which will either end the quest or force one on with fewer human helps.

Photo by Mike Arrizabalaga

If I were teaching an honest seeker about the old rugged cross and how that nothing but the blood of Jesus cleanses from sin; they might commonly ask about the person who has never heard of that name above all other names, and I may be presented with an extreme case such as the one where a maiden who had vicious and demented parents kept her locked up in a closet most all of her life, and when at the age of 24 through lack of sun and exercise, she drew her last breath. Never having any moral training or never hearing the name of Jesus. “What happens to her?” the seeker may well ask. I would answer something like this –

When this maid’s body breathed her last, and she lay in utter darkness, she would be awakened by a strange sound, a rustling; and then warmth on both of her arms. As she opens her eyes to determine this sound and feeling, she would find the rustling to be of angel’s wings, and the warmth to be the everlasting arms lifting her and transporting to a far away place. She, being held in the arms of the angles would see a distant light increasing each moment, when the destination nears and the light, which has now grown intense, has suddenly a shadow over it. She asks the angels “what is that shadow?”, they reply, “That is the shadow of the cross.”
“Where are you taking me?” she asks.
There is an old, old story that will be told you when we arrive and we will sit at a table prepared for you, and there will be bread broken for you that will end all that has an ending; and there will be a cup there that will cleanse all the memories of evil from you and wash your heart white as snow. And on that day she will hear the everlasting gospel and take her first communion.

You may ask how I come to this conclusion, and I will say that as I read the Bible this story lifts from nearly every page. When I approach a mystery, I first lay out all that I know to be absolute, and within that context I fill in the gaps with the principles clearly taught. In addition to the scriptures and Biblical Spirit, I add my observations and experiences.
I see working in me, at times, a spirit so merciful, so compassionate, with such tender concerns that I am left with wonder and thankfulness. Because I know this is the heart of God moving and loving through me. When Jesus spoke with the woman caught in adultery, I see this same spirit, and I see it taught all through the Bible as well as working in me.

If a maiden in Rwanda, who never heard the name of Jesus, and was raised to believe in statues and idols, is caught in a civil war, and she is chased by a butcher with blood lust in his heart, a machete in his hand, and he overtakes her and brutally murders her; everything within me knows that Christ will not raise her up and continue a greater brutality by sentencing her to an eternity of far worse torture.

I know what spirit I am of, and I know in whom I believe.
This maiden will have the same opportunity as the person in my first example.
This is inbred in me by every word and story of the Bible. And when I hear of God’s wrath and vengeance, I interpret that in the context of Love. I do not interpret Love in the context of wrath. Will there be wrath and justice for those who shed innocent blood? Oh yes! a fearful and terrifying wrath where justice will finally prevail.
You may ask, “What if the butcher had been raised in an environment where his actions were either forced or brain-washed in him so deeply that he was able to commit heinous crimes?” I look for no hope for those that perpetrate crimes without remorse. I admit this brings up many confusing questions, but I will leave that to another.

Now, if I am wrong, and Christ, who I believe is the incarnate God, is found to be less compassionate than I studied Him to be; I will be scolded. But if I am right and this is the nature and reasoning’s of God, then what have some made him out to be???????

I could go on at great length on this subject, but these are issues we must each consider and search out. This is one lone Oregon man’s opinion.
Photo taken from internet

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I went to an antique fair today and ran across a book by Isaac Watts titled “The Improvement of the Mind”. I think the first chapter, in principle, ties in with my previous post on Billy Graham. It is longer than I would like, so if you choose not to read it, at least read the last paragraphs –

General Rules for Mental Improvement.

Deeply possess your mind with the vast importance of a good judgment, and the rich and inestimable advantage of right reasoning. Review the instances of your own misconduct in life; think seriously with yourselves how many follies and sorrow you had escaped, and how much guilt and misery you had prevented, if, from your early years, you had but taken due pains to judge aright concerning persons, times, and things. This will awaken you with lively vigor to address yourselves to the work of improving your reasoning powers, and seizing every opportunity and advantage for that end……..
Remember this, that if, upon some few superficial acquirements, you value, and swell yourself as though you were a man of learning already, you are thereby building a most impassable barrier against all improvement; you will lie down and indulge idleness, and rest yourself contented in the midst of deep and shameful ignorance……..
Let the hope of new discoveries, as well as the satisfaction and pleasure of known truths, animate your daily industry. Do not think learning in general is arrived at its perfection, or that the knowledge of any particular subject in any science cannot be improved, merely because it has lain for five hundred or a thousand years without improvement. The present age, by the blessing of God on the ingenuity and diligence of men, has brought to light such truths in natural philosophy, and such discoveries in the heavens and the earth, as seemed to be beyond the reach of man. ……
Nor should a student of divinity imagine that our age is arrived at a full understanding of everything which can be known by the Scriptures. Every age since the Reformation has thrown some further light on difficult texts and paragraphs of the Bible, which have been long obscured by the early rise of antichrist; and since there are at present many difficulties and darkness’s hanging about certain truths of the Christian religion, and since several of these relate to important doctrines, such as the origin of sin, the fall of Adam, the person of Christ, the blessed Trinity, and the decrees of God, etc. which do still embarrass the minds of honest and inquiring readers, and which make work for noisy controversy, it is certain there are several things in the Bible yet unknown, and not sufficiently explained, and it is certain that there is some way to solve these difficulties, and to reconcile these seeming contradictions. …..

Maintain a constant watch at all times against a dogmatical spirit; fix not your assent to any proposition in a firm and unalterable manner, till you have some firm and unalterable ground for it, and till you have arrived at some clear and sure evidence; till you have turned the proposition on all sides, and searched the matter through and through, so that you cannot be mistaken. And even when you may think you have full grounds of assurance, be not too early nor too frequent in expressing this assurance in too peremptory and positive a manner, remembering that human nature is always liable to mistake in this corrupt and feeble state. A dogmatical spirit has many inconveniences attending it.
It stops the ear against all further reasoning upon that subject, and shuts up the mind from all further improvements of knowledge. If you have resolutely fixed your opinion, though it be upon too slight and insufficient grounds, yet you will stand determined to renounce the strongest reason brought for the contrary opinion, and grow obstinate against the force of the clearest argument.
A dogmatical spirit naturally leads us to arrogance of mind, and gives a man some airs in conversation, which are too haughty and assuming.
A dogmatical spirit inclines a man to be censorious of his neighbors. Every one of his opinions appears to him written, as it were, with sunbeams, and he grows angry that his neighbor does not see it in the same light. He is tempted to disdain his correspondents as men of a low and dark understanding, because they will not believe what he does….
….They cast the imputation of heresy and nonsense plentifully upon their antagonists; and, in matters of sacred importance, they deal out their anathemas in abundance upon Christians better than themselves; they denounce damnation upon their neighbors without either justice or mercy; and when they pronounce sentence of Divine wrath against supposed heretics, they add their own human fire and indignation. A dogmatist in religion is not a great way off from a bigot, and is in high danger of growing up to be a bloody persecutor.”

Painting by Sir William Alma-Tadema

On Christian talk radio a fellow calls in to the host and asks him what he thinks of Billy Graham, and his aberrant doctrine. The host didn’t know what he meant and the fellow didn’t go into much detail but referred to ‘You Tube’ videos that not only criticize Billy Graham’s views, but viciously attack him. This caught my attention because Billy Graham is someone I respect and have seen God use for over a half a century to faithfully preach the gospel, give counsel to our President’s because of the nations respect for Billy Graham, and God has used Billy to reach millions with the gospel. The caller said go to “Billy Graham denies” on You Tube and we can see the truth of his false doctrine. Needless to say I went there and encourage all to do the same. I watched about six different videos that took Billy Graham’s statements and made him out to be nothing short of the Anti-Christ. So what are these heretical teachings, teachings that one video says has led millions to hell, not salvation? Here it is in a nutshell as I understand it, but I encourage you to see for yourself. Billy Graham, as he has grown in the Lord and traveled world-wide, met people from all faiths has come to question that God will condemn to eternal torture the millions who have never heard Christ’s name. He admits he is no longer as narrow minded on this baffling question as he was when he was younger when everything seemed black and white. He has now come to a place where he trusts that God will do what is just, regardless whether or not Billy Graham understands the fate of those in utter darkness.
Oh what a heretic! Oh what an enemy to the gospel! Oh what a teacher of soul damning lies! These are the shouts of some from within the Christian fraternity.
“He is a false prophet” they cry. They, in their wisdom and understanding of all the mysteries, took great pride in going to the Billy Graham crusades and stood outside and picketed them, warning as many as they could that if they go in and listen to Billy Graham they will be in danger of hell fire and deception!

To say that this grieves me, I can in no way exaggerate. This is a picture of the vicious cur chasing its own tail. What Pharisaical madness. These questions that Billy Graham considers are questions that thinking Christians have pondered in every generation. Hanna Whitall Smith, George McDonald, C.S. Lewis, all questioned and pondered these haunting questions. My previous post “The limits of reason”, poses questions that men and women of God since the time of Christ have sought to understand. Will we now discredit our century’s most faithful gospel messenger because he too seeks to understand the justice of God?
Will we be like those that Paul addresses in 2 Cor. 5:12 who make superficial judgments based on sound bites and not what is in the heart? Where are those “brothers” that seek to understand what Billy’s questions are, what has he come to understand, after 70 some years of faithfully serving God. Do you think he has come to trust not in the Blood of Christ which he has faithfully preached for over 50 years? I think 2 Cor. 6:7 describes Billy Graham’s ministry –
“in the Holy Spirit, and in sincere love, in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown…….. How much fruit must a good tree bear before we decide not to cut it down?
Oh church, I tell you, if you wonder where or what is the spirit of Anti-Christ, simply look within. When we create battles, denounce our own, bite and attack one another, cling to one chant and cry “blasphemy!” to anyone that thinks not as we do, pound the pulpits decrying anyone who dares look further than what our traditions allow, we have become the embodiment of that very evil spirit. The Spirit of love does not rail and attack, it is not easily offended; it is full of mercy and good fruits. My God, the salt has certainly lost its savor. We don’t even know who the enemy is. We are “blind fools”, waging wars over mint, dill, cumin and all manner of spices, while neglecting the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness.”
I’ll end by simply saying, if you find yourself running to certain scriptures, grasping them like weapons of justification, instead of adopting a merciful spirit of inquiry, you really need to ponder this post.
Photo from internet.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"No man will keep Christ before his mind without having to make a sensible effort to turn away from the whole rabble of distracting thoughts that lie round him. In Hebrews the writer lays it down as a condition of all persevering continuance in the race set before us that we should be "looking to Jesus"; and he employs there a word which might be rendered, perhaps, "looking away" to Him. That conveys the same idea of rigid shutting out of other things in order that one supreme light may fill the eye and gladden the soul. If you do not carefully drop black curtains round the little chamber, and exclude all side lights, as well as all other objects from the field of vision, there will be no clear impression of the beloved face made upon the sensitive plate. It must be in the darkness that the image is transferred to the heart." Alexander Maclaren. D.D.
I like this illustration of a dark room being the place we transfer the image to the heart. It is pregnant with applications, and I was going to write what he said after this but decided to stop here, it leaves it open to interpretation.
Photo from internet

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"In making this world, the Creator furnished it with all the materials necessary for the support of His entire human family. For the best development of our minds and bodies, He made it necessary for us to labor, so that, by moulding the agencies and recombining the materials He permits us to use, we may secure that which is necessary for our sustenance and shelter. He knew that some would be able to secure more than enough for sustenance and shelter, and others would not be able to secure enough, yet He did not intend that any should lack food and clothing, or any of the essentials of healthful bodily and mental life. He knew, and, I verily believe, intended, that some should be poor and that others should be rich; and thus instituted the emergency for human beneficence or charity. It is better, on the whole, that the world should be made up of benefactors and beneficiaries than that each man should be independent of every other man.

Thus, every man whom He has made, or whom He has allowed to become, rich, He has by that favor commissioned to be almoner of His bounty to those whom He has not thus favored. The sick, the helpless, the utterly poor through misfortune -- these are always with us. The Saviour Himself stated this as a fact good for all time; and I know of no man who dares to deny that these unfortunate ones have an absolute right to live, and, consequently, a right to so much of the property of others as may be necessary to support them."

Timothy Titcomb -Photo by Mark Skalinski

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The limitations of Reason

The following is an essay on the mysteries and difficult teachings and beliefs within the Christian faith. It is not an easy read but it addresses teachings that we in large part still hold to and should consider and many of them are things that cause unbelievers to stumble over.

The limitations of Reason

Whose reason can give an account why, or understand it to be reasonable, that God should permit evil for good ends, when he hates that evil, and can produce that good without that evil? And yet He does so, we are taught by our Religion:

Whose reason can make it intelligible, that God who delights not in the death of a sinner, but he and His Christ, and all their Angels rejoice infinitely in the salvation of a sinner, yet that he should not cause that every sinner should be saved, working in him a mighty and a prevailing grace, without which grace he shall not in the event of things be saved, and yet this grace is wholly his own production….

Why does not he work in us all to will and to do, not only that we can will, but that we shall will? For if the actual willing be any thing, it is his creation; we can create nothing, we cannot will unless he effect it in us, and why he does not do that which so well pleases him, and for the lack of doing of which he is so displeased, and yet he alone is to do it some way or other; human reason cannot give a wise or a probable account. ….

Where is the wise discourser that can tell how it can be that God foreknows certainly what I shall do ten years hence, and yet it is free to me at that time, to will or not to will, to do or not to do that thing?

Where is the discerning Searcher of secrets, that can give the reason why God should determine for so many ages before, that Judas should betray Christ, and yet that God should kill him eternally for effecting the Divine purpose, and fore-determined counsel? …..

Who can divine, and give us the cause, or understand the reason, why God should give us so great rewards for such nothings, and yet damn men for such insignificant mischief’s, for thoughts, for words, for secret wishes, that effect no evil abroad, but only might have done, or it may be were resolved to never be acted on.
For if the goodness of God be so overflowing in some cases, we in our reason should not expect, that in such a great goodness, there should be so great an aptness to destroy men greatly for little things: and if all mankind should join in search, it could never be told, why God should judge the Heathen or the Israelites to an eternal hell, of which he never gave them warning, nor created fears great enough, to produce caution equal to their dangers; and who can give a reason why for temporal and transient actions of sin, the world is to expect never ceasing torments in hell to eternal ages? That these things are thus, we are taught in Scripture, but here our reason is not instructed to tell why or how; and therefore our reason is not the positive measure of mysteries, and we must believe what we cannot understand.

….It is not to be understood why God should send his holy Son from his bosom to redeem us, to pay our price; nor to be told why God should exact a price of himself for his own creature; nor to be made intelligible to us, why he who loved us so well, as to send his Son to save us, should at the same time to hate us, as to resolve to damn us, unless his Son should come and save us.
But the Socinians, who conclude that this was not thus, because they know not how it can be thus, are highly to be reproved for their excess in the inquiries of reason, not where she (reason) is a competent Judge, but where she is not competently instructed; and that is the second reason.

The reason of man is a right Judge always when she is truly informed; but in many things she knows nothing but the face of the issue….
We see as in a glass darkly, saith St. Paul, that is, we can see what, but not why, and what we do see is the least part of that which does not appear; but in these cases our understanding is to submit, and wholly to be obedient, but not to inquire further.”

Now where I depart from Jeremy Taylor is in his last line, “not to inquire further.”
Many of the things he brings up are questions unbelievers have. These things should be studied out. To take the position that we cannot learn anything more than what has been learned about God and His word in the past, is where I disagree.
There has been almost a resistance to inquiry within many churches I have attended. Even to the point that inquiry or question is near blasphemy. It is never wrong to ask God even the most difficult of questions, nor do I think God is offended; He bids us to “come and let us reason together.” To go beyond what is written is not the path, but to go beyond what has been revealed in the past can be truth and need not to be feared. I think the Christian faith will know more in the future than we do currently, without leaving orthodox, Bible based understanding. Something’s are too high for us; some have not been sought out. As for me, I’m a seeker.
Photo by Lucian B.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Train up......"

“Sometimes soldiers going into battle shoot into the ground instead of into the hearts of their enemies. They are apt to take aim too low, and it is very often that the captain, going into the conflict with his men, will cry out: “Now, men, aim high!”
The fact is that in life a great many men take no aim at all. The artist plans out his entire thought before he puts it upon canvas, before he takes up the crayon or the chisel. An architect thinks out the entire building before the workmen begin. Although everything may seem to be unorganized, that architect has in his mind every Corinthian column, every Gothic arch, every Byzantine capital. A poet thinks out the entire plot of his poem before he begins to chime the cantos of thinking rhymes. And yet there is a great many men who start the important structure of life without knowing whether it is going to be a rude Tartar’s hut or a St. Mark’s Cathedral; and begin to write out the intricate poem of their life without knowing whether it is to be a Homer’s Odyssey or a rhymester’s botch.
Out of one thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine have no life-plot. Booted and spurred and caparisoned they hasten along and I run out and say: “Hello, man! Whither away?” “Nowhere!” they say. O young man! Make every day’s duty a filling up of the great life-plan. Alas! That there should be on this sea of life so many ships that seem bound for no port. They are swept every whither by wind and wave, up by the mountains and down by the valleys. They sail with no chart. They gaze at no star. They long for no harbor. Young man, have a high ideal and press toward it, and it will be a mighty safeguard. There were never grander opportunities opening before young men than now. Young man of the strong arm and of the stout heart and of the bounding step, I marshal you today for great achievement.”

T.De Witt Talmage - Photo by Vrindavan Lila

Look at the marvel of man--

"Look at man's mental constitution. Behold the lavish benevolence of God in powers of perception. Watch the law of association, or the mysterious linking together of all you ever thought of, knew or felt, and then giving you the power to take hold of the clew-line and draw through your mind the long train with indescribable velocity - one thought starting up a hundred, and this again a thousand - as the chirp of one bird sometimes wakes a whole forest of voices. Watch your memory - the sheaf-binder that goes forth to gather the harvest of the past and bring it into the present. Your power and velocity of thought - thought of the swift wing and the lightning foot.

In reason and understanding, man is alone. The ox surpasses him in strength, the antelope in speed, the hound in keenness of nostril, the eagle in far-reaching sight, the rabbit in quickness of hearing, the honey-bee in delicacy of tongue, the spider in fineness of touch. Man's power, therefore, consists not in what he can lift or how fast he can run or how strong a wrestler he can throw - for in these respects, the ox, the ostrich, and the bear are his superior - but by reason man comes forth to rule all; through his ingenious contrivance to outrun, out lift, out wrestle, out see, out hear, out do."

One of the reasons I like T.De Witt Talmage is for his vivid illustrations taken from nature. Such perception!

T.De Witt Talmage - Photo by Alexander Kharlamov

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More Thomas Watson

"We love God's picture, we love His image shining in the saints. 'He that loves Him that begat, loves him also that is begotten of him'. It is possible to love a saint, yet not to love him as a saint; we may love him for something else, for his ingenuity, or because he is affable and bountiful. A beast loves a man, not because he is a man, but because he feeds him, and gives him provender. But to love a saint as he is a saint, this is the sign of love to God.

We love a saint, thought he be poor. A man that loves gold, loves a piece of gold, though it be in a rag; so, though a saint be in rags, we love him, because there is something of Christ in him.

We love a saint, though he has many personal failings. There is no perfection here. In some, rash anger prevails; in some, inconstancy; in some, too much love of the world. A saint in this life is like gold in the ore, much dross of infirmity cleaves to him, yet we love him for the grace that is in him. A saint is like a fair face, with a scar: we love the beautiful face of holiness, though there be a scar in it. The best emerald has its blemishes, the brightest stars their twinklings, and the best saints have their failings. You that cannot love another because of his infirmities, how would you have God love you?"

Photo by Mitchell Kanashevic

Saturday, October 18, 2008

How seldom we weigh our neigbor in the same balance with ourselves. Thomas A. Kempis

“It is curious that our own offenses should seem so much less heinous that the offenses of others. I suppose the reason is that we know all the circumstances that have occasioned them and so manage to excuse in ourselves what we cannot excuse in others. We turn our attention away from our own defects, and when we are forced by untoward events to consider them, find it easy to condone them. For all I know we are right to do this; they are part of us and we must accept the good and bad in ourselves together.
But when we come to judge others, it is not by ourselves as we really are that we judge them, but by an image that we have formed of ourselves from which we have left out everything that offends our vanity or would discredit us in the eyes of the world. To take a trivial instance: how scornful we are when we catch someone telling a lie; but who can say that he has never told one, but a hundred?
There is not much to choose between men. They are all a hotchpotch of greatness and littleness, of virtue and vice, of nobility and baseness. Some have more strength of character, or more opportunity, and so in one direction or another give their instincts freer play, but potentially they are the same. For my part, I do not think I am any better or any worse than most people, but I know that if I set down every action in my life and every thought that has crossed my mind, the world would consider me a monster of depravity. The knowledge that these reveries are common to all men should inspire one with tolerance to oneself as well as to others. It is well also if they enable us to look upon our fellows, even the most eminent and respectable, with humor, and if they lead us to take ourselves not too seriously.” W. Somerset Maugham author of “Of Human Bondage”. Photo by rinaldo romani

I don't know anything about this author but I like this quote. It is unpretentious, has a level of humility I appreciate and so practical. I like that.

On my last post I was stirred to consider the following question – Does beauty beget lust? Now I come to this question strictly speaking for men only, and that with some caution; I hope men will speak up if they differ, or not.
My intention as I begin this is to shoot from the hip, and not make a month long study but to just throw out my initial thoughts and see where it leads.
As I choose pictures for my posts I make a conscience effort not to post anything that I consider sexually provocative. This of course is limited to my inner filter; and with my wife’s opinion if I think it is borderline. So here are the personal standards I go by – I don’t think the beauty of a person of the opposite sex is lustful, regardless of how great that beauty may be. I think there are a number of elements that contribute to changing what I consider 'innocent beauty' into something not innocent.
First, I think, is expression; a wink of the eye, the curl of the lip and all the other looks, glances, pouts, that women know only too well how to use to attract, flirt, arouse, seduce, profit or show interest in a man with. Now each man will respond to these differently depending on how he considers the woman’s appeal. That of course differs widely.
Second, I think, is dress; revealing of skin, posture, lace, tight clothes etc.
I think all reasonably normal men, find these two things “triggers” that bring arousal to some degree. That of course depending on many things; how long one chooses to gawk, a past memory, exposure to pornography, and biological differences, and age. But in general that about covers it.

These two things cause an involuntary bio-reaction which can be acted on or not, depending on one’s conscience.
That being said, I have posted a picture of a young woman who is very pretty but lacks all of the above as far as point 1 - expression and point 2- dress. It is a picture of a face, nothing else revealed. I know of no man who would find the enticement of lust or arousal from this picture: but I would expect remarks such as – lovely, sweet, innocent, darling, delightful, easy to look at, charming, enchanting, cute, pleasing, attractive, fine, gorgeous, captivating, comely, fair, but most commonly -pretty.

But in ‘male language’, these are terms devoid of lust. It would take word pictures, or animation or the revealing of point #2 to move a man into lust, or arousal.
When one looks upon a beautiful flower it is a similar endorphin sensation as looking upon the beauty of a woman. Now regardless of what a flower does, our feelings don’t change or accelerate; of course that is different with a person of the opposite sex if Point 1 and 2 are added. Oh, I just thought about a sexy voice, which can have a degree of arousal to it, but limited.

I think beauty is a blessing for men and women to admire and enjoy, and like the different flavors of foods or aromas and scents, textures etc. there is an unending variety to enjoy, of course, without becoming gluttonous.

The difficulty lies in the eye of the beholder, and I may find something arousing in a picture that to a more innocent brother would be invisible, and vice versa.
I think there are some men who lose the ability to see anything without the lens of lust because they have bathed themselves in it to a degree they become reprobate. Seems unlikely they are reading this post or my blog.
So, what do you think?

Photo by Lev Daichik

Friday, October 17, 2008

Last night was the night we went to see Celine Dion with the free tickets my wife got from her work. I rarely go to concerts, 25 years ago I went to see Ray Charles, he was absolutely perfection, at the top of his vocal game, and each song sounded like the record. But I have been to a few concerts where I left wishing I had stayed home and listened to the CD because the studio versions were far better with their mixing magic applied to the vocals.
Suffice to say, this was not the case with Celine, I doubt I will ever hear her any better than I did last night. Some artists are enlivened by the crowd and I felt this was so with Celine. The entire performance was sensational, the moving stage which raised and lowered people up and down. A moving escalator like track that the dancers and Celine used for great effect. The sound, one could only dream of hearing music like that anywhere but a concert hall. Such a powerful display, with all the magic of show-business. But, all of that pales in comparison to her volcanic vocals. From the moment she took that stage till the last curtain call, her powerful voice rang across the arena singing all my favorite hits with such energy, magnetism, and thunder, that it was as if each song had a new vitality the likes of which I have never heard. What a show, what a voice. When she sang the last line in “Can’t Live”, as the music came to a stop, a complete stillness hushed the auditorium and she began to reach for notes that few have ever reached, I was brought to the verge of tears. Such musical drama steaming like a flood out of this talented woman left me in an emotional trance and the after glow has lasted all day. I doubt, had I not been blessed with the free tickets, that I would have ever seen her; but now having seen her, it may well be worth saving up to see her once in your life. I doubt I will soon forget it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I was talking with a friend about “Trust” because he had been through an issue where his trust had been betrayed and it caused much and prolonged sorrow.
When we have been betrayed it can make it difficult to ever trust again in the same measure. So I began looking for some thoughts on trust that may be encouraging and useful to all. I began looking in a concordance for trust and ended up in Psalm 116. The scripture that stood out is 10 & 11 –
“I believed; therefore I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” And in my dismay I said, “All men are liars.”

I’m sure we can all relate to that sentiment. Shakespeare said it this way –

“Immortal gods, I crave no pelf;
I pray for no man but myself:
Grant I may never prove so fond,
To trust a man on his oath or bond;
Or a harlot, for her weeping;
Or a dog, that seems a sleeping;
Or my friends, if I should need ‘em.”

The problem with taking that course is we are social beings and isolation, which lack of trust causes, is despairing. I looked up some quotes on trust that display the opposite side –

“Better trust all, and be deceived
And weep that trust and that deceiving,
Than doubt one heart that if believed
Had blessed one’s life with true believing.” Frances Anne Kemble.

What a dilemma, and in the Psalm David takes his complaint and confusion to the Lord and only there finds peace. It also appears by the 18th verse that he has gained some trust back as he returns to the presence of the people in the Temple.
But this was not without much anguish of soul as he cries out in verse 3 – “The chords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, save me!”
Christians all know that this heart cry always comes with an answer, but like the old gospel song, “He may not come when you want Him, but He’s always right on time.”

David finds solace and freedom in the Lord, a hope for us all but I’m reminded of some words of wisdom about trusting that I will end with.

“We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know, because they have never deceived us.” Samuel Johnson

And again –

“Trust not before you try,
For under cloak of great good-will
Doth feigned friendship lie.”
George Tuberville

Photo by Myrtepeert

As I was reading forhissake’s scorching mini-sermon on pornography, which you must read if you haven’t, I also read another edifying post there; It deals with humanitarian and spiritual deeds. It prompted me to consider just what I do believe about this issue at this time in my life, so I collected some of my thoughts and decided to post them.

There’s been no small division in the Church regarding the importance of ministering spiritual things versus temporal things; it was a stirring issue thirty years ago in the U.S. The term for ministering temporal things, food, clothing, charitable giving as a generality, is called a “Social Gospel” whereas the opposite thought is, that without giving the Gospel to a soul, though you may alleviate a need, you leave them eternally lost, so what good have you done? I think that is a general summary of the two sides. In my estimation the importance of spiritual things became the dominate thought. In my experience, it swung so far that way that the practical deeds of charity fell to the wayside in many evangelical churches. I see in the Catholic Church a strong emphasis still put on these practical ministries.

For all practical purposes I approach this not so much from a theological position, but an experiential position. I believe each Christian has gifts and with those gifts the many ministries within the counsel and economy of God are emphasized. It is an individual calling sensitized by God. Not an either or, but rather a leaning one direction without the exclusion of the other, based on one’s gifts and callings.
For example, Billy Graham and his family members write, speak and preach with a focus on evangelism. If you read D.L. Moody, you will see the same emphasis, and I suspect just about all evangelists will hold a Christian view that centers on winning the lost.
On the opposite side would of course be Mother Teresa. Her writings, efforts and preaching focus on charity.
I think most of us agree that both Billy Graham and Mother Teresa have done much to further the Glory of God. But to try and untie the knots of who is greater in the Kingdom of God is a dispute I’m not interested in.
I have the same desires they both have burning in me, although in miniature, but with the gifts God has given me, Mother Teresa’s ministry draws my heart instantly and with far greater zeal.
It is so innate and a part of me that it goes without consideration but rather to imitation. The voice is so loud, and so clear, that there is no confusion or lack of clarity. Now I do not think for a minute that this is a ‘planet sprout’, but rather heaven birthed, because of the simple fact that when my heart goes through seasons of coldness or withering, the burden and motivation leaves proportionately. The closer I draw to God the louder this burden calls to me. Not a matter of volition, but it is an involuntary happening, which I contribute to the working of the Holy Spirit within me.
So, I follow what I consider to be my calling, and I see other’s working out their gifts from God in differing ministries and concerns. I believe this is how the whole council of God leavens the earth. One, like Paul says, “Woe unto me if I do not preach the gospel”, another says, “Woe unto me if I do not feed the hungry.”

To what end, you may ask, do we do these ministries? We worship God with our gifts so that He may be glorified and His Kingdom on earth will increase.

One may ask, “What good are good deeds done without the goal of conversion in sight?” Many, in every way. Good works are good, whether done by a Christian or a non-believing person. It seems apparent to me that God designed us to be internally rewarded when we do acts that are charitable and kind. Our conscience direct us towards God’s moral law and so we know that aside from faith these things are pleasing to God because they perpetuate His nature and His will is furthered, albeit temporal and we have no proof that these would lead one to an eternal state, but certainly in this life, a more blessed state. We are told that every good and perfect gift comes from God so it appears to me that through the emotional motivations he has knitted into the mind of man a way He can, through common graces, bless mankind. Jesus teaches us that God is kind to the wicked, and I think it is safe to say that even the wicked, although they will not gain eternal life, can be kind.
Now an unbeliever may do humanitarian works without a concern for God, but unwittingly, they are doing the will of God, because God is love and he is good.
So I am happy whenever I see a person do anything that is good.

On the flip side, when a Christian does good works it pleases God and gains reward, unless we offer it as to merit salvation, which then turns them to filthy rags.

When you read my blog you will see an emphasis on humanitarian deeds simply because this is my gifting and calling. It is my hope that those with differing gifts will be reminded and encouraged to do these practical deeds, as I am sure when they speak or write they would wish to stir me up to not neglect other deeds.
I think 2 Peter 1:5-10 summarizes this thought, or at least the way I relate to it.

I think an important part of this is to be diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing. I have seen those that were not qualified to teach, hold the position; I have heard those preach, who had need of a qualified teacher.
We want to use care that we make a name for Christ and not a shame for Christ.

Photo from the internet

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I sat next to a thirty something woman in church today. She was alone on my left, my wife on my right. I have seen her a couple of times before, each time alone.
The worship music began and the singing started. It was a song geared for those much younger than I, and let’s say I wasn’t exactly ushered into the presence.
After the song we took a moment to greet those around us and when I shook her hand I noticed her eyes briefly glanced at mine and then away. She was pleasant looking but features harder than her age and no twinkle in her eye. Then the music began and we began another song, much like the first one, and the words were accompanied by a picture of a sunflower on the overhead screen. Suffice to say I was again a little disappointed in the song choice but as we were singing about butterflies and bonnets, forgive my sarcasm, it struck me to use this ‘interval’ to pray. As I was praying this woman sitting next to me came to mind and I began praying for her that whatever her situation, that she would experience the presence of God and find solace today in him. I followed the prompting to pray for her and as I began to pray that she would feel the joy of the Lord, my words became coincidentally sequenced with words in the song. I began to sing along now with some enthusiasm. When the song ended I notice she turned and bent down to get her purse. I was a little disappointed thinking she was about to leave, but it turned out she was reaching for a tissue because tears had flooded her face.
The Lord used this hidden drama to let me know He will let himself in regardless of circumstances, or my musical concerns, and if I happen not to be enthralled with a song choice, I can still redeem the time.
A lesson and a blessing.
Photo by Jose Mata

The following excerpt from a sermon by Francis Wayland 1796-1865, is addressing the fact that Jesus, who could have rightly required to be served while on earth, rather chose to serve.

"Jesus felt himself under obligation to set an example of obedience to his own rules. "The Son of man," said he, "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." "Which," said he, "is greater, he that sittith at meat, or he that serveth? but I am among you as he that serveth." Would it not be well if, in this respect, we copied more minutely the example of our Lord, and held ourselves responsible for the performance of the very same duties which we so willingly impose upon our brethren? We best prove that we believe an act obligatory, when we commence the performance of it ourselves. Many zealous Christians employ themselves in no other labor than that of urging their brethren to effort. Our Saviour acted otherwise."

The highlighted sentence is the one that spoke most to me; maybe spoke is too mild a word - cut, goaded, rebuked might be closer. It is an easy task indeed, to sit behind a computer and quote from men and women of God who have in many cases paid dearly for the opportunity to have their words preserved.

"God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."

There was no shortage of deeds that came to mind when I read this passage. And as well, no shortage of excuses. So, as I prepare for worship today let me remember, as the picture I chose symbolizes, I have pledged to be "A friend for life", to those in need of Christ's manifold resources.

Photo - I'm afraid I have failed to note the author of this haunting picture of a slum girl who eats stale noodles from a plastic bag in Mumbaie. It may be the photographers name is Ambu, or it may have come from the A.P.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"Some years ago I was making a tour in Wales with my father, during which he one day found himself walking along a lane where he observed a man leaning over a gate, apparently engaged in watching the laborers at their work in the field before him. My father joined him, and, entering into a conversation, found that he was a farmer, and the field which was engaging his attention belonged to the farm he rented. This opened up further conversation, and before they parted, my father, putting his hand in his pocket, produced a bundle of tracts, from which he selected that at the top, and asked the farmer to accept it.
As the farmer complied, the clergyman of the parish turned into the lane, and witnessing the transfer of the tract to the farmer, went up to him and said, “I saw a gentlemen give you that tract. Will you let me look at it?”
As the farmer handed the tract to the clergyman, he said, - “It will do to light my pipe with.”
The clergyman, looking at it, replied – “it will do for nothing of the kind. Is it not remarkable providence that a perfect stranger should take a bundle of tracts out of his pocket, and hand you one, and that one should be exactly suited to your own case? You know that drunkenness has been your besetting sin, and that I have hitherto striven in vain to point out to you, that a continuance in such a course must end in present and everlasting sorrow. Do take this tract home with you; read it with prayer; and may God bless it to you!”

While this conversation was going on, my father had left the lane a long way behind, and being an old man, had grown weary with his walk; and seeing a cottage by the roadside he tapped at the door, and asked permission to enter and sit down. This was readily granted: and no sooner had he taken his seat, than he observed a little boy seated beside him.
“Why, my little man,” said my father, “you should not be here, you should have a little dog trained to take you to school, and there you should learn to read with the raised letters.”
The little fellow burst into tears. As soon as he was pacified, he said, - “Oh sir, I had a little dog, and I used to go to school and learn to read from the raised letters, when one day the tax-gatherer came and demanded the dog-tax, and because my father could not pay it, the tax-gatherer took away the clock instead of the money for the tax, and my father in a rage drowned the dog.”
No sooner was this sad tale told than my father shouldered his stick, and setting off for the country town hard by, wrote to the authorities, and detailing the case, declared that he would give them no rest until another dog was provided exempt from tax.
He was requested to meet the tax-gatherer in open court, and to bring his protégé with him on a day appointed. This he did. The statement of the little blind boy was verified, and it was decided that a blind boy’s dog did not come within the pale of the law, and that no tax should be charged if a successor could be found to take the place of the dog which had been destroyed. This my father soon accomplished, and we proceeded on our tour, and the little blind boy returned home with the strict injunction to lose no time in going to school and learning to read.

Some six weeks or so after, my father, finding himself once more in the same neighborhood, proceeded to the village school, so as to make quite sure that his young friend was there, and on opening the door, the first object that met his eye was the little blind boy, with his new dog lying by his side; but before my father had time to speak to him, the clergyman of the parish came up to him, and shaking him very warmly by the hand, expressed his great pleasure in seeing my father once more, for he wished to tell him that the tract given six weeks before had not only resulted in the drunkard becoming a sober man, but, so far as could be judged, in a mightier change than that – even from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God."
W.D.C.., in “The Christian.”

I have read this story three times now and with each reading I well up at the part where the old man immediately shouldered his stick and set off for the town to get justice for this little boy. I’m not sure why that moves me so deeply; it may be, having lost my father as a boy, to see someone take a child under his wing strikes a sensitive chord in me. But all I do know is, this man is what I consider to be a true Christian, displaying in the simplest fashion all the elements of - “Justice, mercy and faithfulness.”
Photo from internet

Friday, October 10, 2008

The following quote is from Thomas Watson. I'll insert a little background if you haven't yet read him - "Few better guides have existed in this or any other area of spiritual experience than Thomas Watson. He was a master of both the Scripture and the human heart, and wrote with a simplicity and directness that keeps his work fresh and powerful for the twenty first century."
If you enjoy the Puritan writings, Watson is a must. The piece below refers to the verse - "Happy is the man whom God correcteth" Job 5:17.

"It may be said, How do afflictions make us happy? We reply that, being sanctified, they bring us nearer to God. The moon in the full is furthest off from the sun; so are many further off from God in the full-moon of prosperity; afflictions bring them nearer to God. The magnet of mercy does not draw us so near to God as the cords of affliction. When Absalom set Joab's corn on fire, then he came running to Absalom. When God sets our worldly comforts on fire, then we run to Him, and make our peace with Him. When the prodigal was pinched with want, then he returned home to his father. When the dove could not find any rest for the sole of her foot, then she flew to the ark. When God brings a deluge of affliction upon us, then we fly to the ark of Christ. Thus affliction makes us happy, in bringing us nearer to God. Faith can make use of the waters of affliction, to swim faster to Christ."

Photo by Ben Goossens

Thursday, October 09, 2008

“A youth thoughtless, when all the happiness of his home forever depends on the chances or the passions of an hour! A youth thoughtless, when the career of all his days depends on the opportunity of a moment! A youth thoughtless, when his every action is a foundation-stone of future conduct, and every imagination a fountain of life or death! Be thoughtless in any after years, rather than now.” Ruskin.

In youth life beats with its fastest pulse, the powers mature with quick unfolding, and almost before we are aware of what has happened, the boys and girls of yesterday meet and greet us as the men and women of the present…..

The Bible is true to the literary instincts and the experience of men in assigning a special value to this period of our career. The experience of youth suggest the vision of the ideal; the young men of a nation are conceived of as its greatest treasure; and the renewal of youth is regarded as the greatest blessing that comes from the Divine hand. Nevertheless, the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth,” thus intimating that youth stands in special danger of bringing itself into disrepute. It has its own peculiar faults. Its follies have become proverbial. It lacks knowledge and discipline and restraint. It squanders its magnificent energies with the utmost prodigality. It is careless, restless, impulsive, assertive.
If we would discover the essential characteristic of the young, let us remember that the youth is he who has suddenly come into possession of prodigious and unexpected energies. Not slowly do these powers develop within us; they come, rather, as Minerva is fabled to have sprung from the head of Jupiter, full grown and fully equipped. They are forced upon us long before we have gained any adequate idea of that outer world to which they must be adjusted; and for the time being they seem to defy restraint. It would be strange indeed if this sudden development did not give rise to faults and follies, as well as to noble ambitions and generous enthusiams.
In like manner the accumulating energies of youth are bound to spend themselves in some way; and where no safe and regular occupation is afforded, they are liable to break through all restraints and run riot in the most wanton manner. In the experience of the race it is generally the young who sound the deepest abysses of profligacy and shame. No one expects wild oats to be sown by greybeards. If you continue long without some legitimate outlet for your energy, there will be a terrific explosion some day, and a consequent moral wreck.
To train the energies to harmonious and concentrated action, is a more difficult feat than to train a dozen fiery colts to charge abreast in a ring.

Charles Henry Keays, M.A. - Photo by Mark Skalinski

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The following is an inspirational thought that came to D.L. of "forhissake" the other morning.

Painting the Beauty of Christ....
I was given sight and used that gift to observe the beauty of creation; I was gifted with great artistic ability and created paintings that took people's breath away; I convinced myself that I was serving God and man by spending all my time perfecting these gifts. Then, my vision was taken from me by disease and my eyes grew dim. I could no longer see the beauty of God’s creation or create an image of it on canvas. I become angry and bitter and spent years wondering what I would do with my life. What possible purpose could there be for me now? Years later a man came to me and said, “Why have you stopped painting?” “I am blind, you fool”, was my harsh response.The old man took my hands and said:“God made you blind in order that you might see. To serve God and man in a way that truly matters, one must care more to paint the beauty of Christ into the soul of a man then to spend his life in exercising his temporal gifts.”My canvas, now, is the hearts of men; my paint is the never ending hues and breathtaking colors of God’s Word; and my brush is held by the Holy Spirit’s powerful and loving hand. The paintings I now help to create will never hang in an art gallery; but they will last forever. They will bring more glory to God and beauty to the world than any framed masterpiece that has ever hung in the Louvre or any painting that has been auctioned off for a million dollars and hangs on the wall of a wealthy art collector’s estate.Painting the beauty of Christ into the soul of a man, one brushstroke at a time.

Photo by Job Earth on Flickr

“There are few men who are not ambitions of distinguishing themselves in the nation or country where they live, and of growing considerable with those with whom they converse. There is a kind of grandeur and respect which the meanest and most insignificant part of mankind endeavor to procure in the little circle of their friends and acquaintances. The poorest mechanic, nay, the man who lives upon common alms, gets him his set of admirers, and delights in that superiority which he enjoys over those who are in some respects beneath him. This ambition, which is natural to the soul of man, might, methinks,
receive a very happy turn, and, if it were rightly directed, contribute as much to a person’s advantage as it generally does to his uneasiness and disquiet.”
This is a tough one, I understand and relate to this, and can think of a hundred people, myself included, who fall within this description; but the last sentence challenges me. "might receive a very happy turn, and, if it were rightly directed, contribute as much to a person's advantage...."
This is the part I have difficulty interpreting. So, how does that strike you? Now I'm counting on you for some insights.
Photo by Paduroiu Claudiu - of course that's a picture of me when young......not.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In the following quote by Timothy Titcomb from a chapter titled “Trust and What Comes of It”, he gives three examples that draw from us trustworthiness.
I love his illustration and it resonates deep within me, and I think in all but the most base, Christian or not.

“A child that comes to me in danger, or sorrow, or perplexity, and takes my hand, and looks into my eyes, and utters its wants in trust, begets in me trustworthiness, on the instant. It rouses into action all within me that is good and honorable and true, and I cannot betray that trust without a loss of self-respect that will make me contemn myself for a life-time.
A maiden who comes into my presence in guileless trust, and in any way places her destiny in my hands, would shame me into trustworthiness were my heart teeming with impurity.
Even the timid hare, hunted field to field, and hard beset by the baying hounds, would find a protector in me should it leap desperately into my arms, and lay the tumult of its frightened heart upon the generous beatings of mine.
The child, the maiden, the hare would beget in me trustworthiness, simply by trusting me. They would make me considerate and generous, and honorable. I should despise myself were I to harm either by a thought. Such beings, under such circumstances, would come to me as missionaries, bearing one of the very sweetest of the lessons of Christ.”
I wish everyone could read this entire chapter, but suffice to say this illustration of the way God has designed us is so wonderful and has so many ramifications that I will leave it stand on its own and look forward to any comments.
Photo by Jil Green

Monday, October 06, 2008

The following piece is about the perfect liberty of Spiritual love. Timothy Titcomb speaks to the difference of doing good works out of duty or following the law (legalism) and doing these same things out of devotion to Christ and from a natural outpouring of love as his illustration so clearly describes.

“I apprehend nothing as Christian duty which does not naturally flow out from Christian love. All those actions which love naturally dictates and performs, if performed by any individual as simple duties – performed grudgingly and difficultly – amount to nothing as Christian actions. They become simply bald acts of morality, and have no connection with religion. Let me not be misunderstood, Love may constrain to acts that, for various reasons, are difficult to performance; but difficult acts, performed from a simple sense of duty – acts in no way growing out of love – acts performed only for the satisfaction of conscience and for the acquisition of mental peace – are not Christian acts, essentially, and cannot be made to appear as such.
Perhaps my meaning will be more exactly apprehended by the use of illustrations.

A woman finds herself the mother of a family of children, whom she loves as her own life. It is against the law that she turn them out of doors, or kill them, or maltreat them in any way. Does she feel the restraint of these laws? Dies she ever think of their existence? Do they curtail her liberty to any extent? Not at all, for her love is her law. Rising now into the realm of duty, we see that she owes to them the preparation of their food, the care of their persons and clothing, ministry in sickness, home education, sympathy in trouble, discipline for disobedience, and all motherly offices. Now do these duties come to her simply as duties? Does she feed and clothe her children, minister to them in sickness, educate them and sympathize with them, from a sense of duty? Ah, no! In the domain of motherly duty, love is her law, and the performance of these duties is simply the natural outflow and expression of the love which she bears to her children.
The stronger and the more perfect her love, the smaller the restraints of law and the constraints of duty; and when this love becomes, as in many instances it does become, an all-absorbing passion, law and duty, in connection with her relation to her children, are things she never even dreams of. Her neighbors may call her a slave to her children, but she knows that she is in the enjoyment of a most delicious liberty, the liberty to do precisely those things which please her most, inspired by a love that knows neither law nor duty.

Suppose now that this mother were to die and a step-mother take her place. She may find among those children one so intractable and ungrateful that it would be a pleasure to her to turn it out of the house, but the law prevents. She then looks upon law as a restraint upon her liberty. But, in the place she has taken, she perceives that she owes duties to this family of children. She has an intellectual appreciation of the duties of her office, and undertakes to perform them. We will suppose that, from a simple sense of duty, she devotes herself to them as thoroughly as their own mother did before her. Under circumstances like these, duty would become a burden and bondage. What was almost a divine liberty with the mother, becomes to the step-mother a crushing slavery. Conscientious but unloving, she wears out a life of servitude to duty, and of course is most unhappy.
Ah, this liberty! How little have we of it in the world! How we go groping, and mourning, and wailing through darkness - walled in by law, goaded on by a sense of duty, and filled with the fears which perfect love casts out, when all the while there hang above us crowns within our reach, which, grasped, would make us kings. Oh, it is very pitiful - this sight of Christian slaves! Most pitiful, however, does it become, when we comprehend the fact that in this slavery many think they find the evidence of their Christianity."
Painting by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Home at last! Spent a week in Chicago at a Trade Show, lots of work, some fun, but there's no place like home!

Here is a little blurb on patience I ran across by Timothy Titcomb, I re-read a lot out of his book Gold Foil. For those that like short reads I'll do this in two parts, the short one first, the lengthy thought second.

"The little polyp may well be discouraged when it sees how little it can do in the creation of the coral world to which, by a law of its nature, it is bound to contribute. But it gives to this world the entire results of its little life - a calcareous atom - and then it dies. But that atom is not lost; God takes care of that. All He asks of the madrepore is its life, and though it may not witness the glory of the structure it assists to rear, it has a place in the structure - an essential place - and there is glorified."

As I read the following passage, I had my son Eric in mind, so this is foremost to him--

"Poet, forger of ideals, dreamer among the possibilities of life, prophet of the millennium, do you get impatient with the prosaic life around you - the dullness, and the earthliness, and the brutishness of men? Fret not. Go foreword into the realm which stretches before you; climb the highest mountain you can reach, and plant a cross there. The nations will come up to it some day. Work for immortality if you will; then wait for it. If your own age fail to recognize you, a coming age will not. Plunge into the eternal forest that sleeps in front, and blaze trees. Be a pioneer of Time's armies as they march into the unseen and unknown. Signalize the advance guard from afar. If you have the privilege of living the glorious life of which you dream, are you not paid? Why, there are uncounted multitudes who walk under the stars, and never dream that they are beautiful. There are crowds who trample a flower into the dust, without once thinking that they have one of the sweetest thoughts of God under their heels. There are myriads of stolid eyes that gaze into the ethereal vermilion of a sunset without dreaming that God lighted the fire. The world could see no beauty in the greatest life and character that ever existed, why they should desire it, and yet God does not get impatient because He is not recognized. The stars stud the sky as thickly as ever; the flowers bloom as freshly as at first, and breathe no complaint with their dying perfume; the sunset patiently varies its picture from nightfall to nightfall, though no one praises it; and Christ, in the garb of humble men and women, looks from pure and patient eyes in every street, and looks none the less sweetly because he is not seen. Therefore, O poet, be patient, though the world see not the visions that enchain you, and remember what companionship is yours. Aye, be patient!

Painting by Max Ginsburg