Saturday, February 28, 2009

“The fifth means to gain the knowledge of your interest in Christ is, by cleaving to Christ, and whatsoever is dear to Christ, in the face of all miseries, difficulties, and dangers.
It is nothing to cleave to Christ in fair weather, when every one cleaves to Christ, when every one professes Christ; but to cleave to him in a storm, when every one runs from him, it speaks out a child-like disposition; it speaks out a Jacob’s spirit. Surely he must needs have much of Christ, that nothing can take off from cleaving to Christ. When the soul says to Christ, as Ruth said to Naomi, ‘whither thou goest I will go; and where thou lodgest I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God shall be my God. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me, Ruth 1:15-18.

When neither the frowns of men, nor the reproach of men, nor the contempt of men, nor oppositions from men, can take the soul off from cleaving to Christ, it will not be long before Christ speaks peace to such a soul: Ps.63:8, ‘My soul followeth hard after thee, thy right hand upholds me.’ – As Jonathan’s soul cleaved to David, and as Jacob’s soul cleaved to Rachel, in the face of all afflictions and difficulties, this carries with it very much evidence of its interest in Christ.
In temporals men cleave to persons and things, as their interest is in them; and so it is in spirituals also. Christ cannot, Christ will not, cast aside those that hang about him, that cleave to him.”

Thomas Brooks - photo taken from the Internet

Friday, February 27, 2009

The following are a few stanzas taken from a poem called “Brother and Sister.”
It is remembrance of sibling love presented in the tenderest way.
It recalls to me my youth playing with my sister and as I was looking through pictures of my son Matt’s family, his son Nic is playing with his little sister Nisha, I hope and trust this poem will be theirs.
I typed in blue the lines that sparked most for me.

He was the elder and a little man
Of forty inches, bound to show no dread,
And I the girl that puppy-like now ran,
Now lagged behind my brother’s larger tread.

I held him wise, and when he talked to me
Of snakes and birds, and which God loved best,
I thought his knowledge marked the boundary
Where men grew blind, though angels knew the rest.

Thus rambling we were schooled in deepest lore,
And learned the meaning that give words a soul,
The fear, the love, the primal passionate store,
Whose shaping impulses make manhood whole.

We had the self-same world enlarged for each
By loving difference of girl and boy;
The fruit that hung on high beyond my reach
He plucked for me, and oft he must employ

This boyish Will the nobler master learned
Where inward vision over impulse reigns,
Widening its life with separate life discerned,
A like, unlike, a Self that self restrains.

His years with others must the sweeter be
For those brief days he spent in loving me.

His sorrow was my sorrow, and his joy
Sent little leaps and laughs through all my frame;
My doll seemed lifeless and no girlish toy
Had any reason when my brother came.

School parted us; we never found again
That childish world where our two spirits mingled
Like scents from varying roses that remain
One sweetness,
nor can evermore be singled.
Photo by Tony Hadley

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Elaboration is not beauty, and sandpaper has never finished a piece of bad work." author unknown
I like this quote, it makes me think about a lot of the squabbles we have in Christendom. We have a belief, we cherish it; present it in its best possible light, although it holds no beauty, but we articulate it; break it down past all possible recognition in an effort to bring a lustre to it and make it believable, but in most cases, to no avail.
I don't know what this brings to your mind but please share if you like.
Photo by Shawn Shawhan

Deal gently with us, ye who read!
Our largest hope is unfulfilled --
The promise still outruns the deed
The tower, but not the spire, we build.
Our whitest pearl we never find;
Our ripest fruit we never reach;
The flowering moments of the mind
Drop half their petals in our speech.
I like this little poem; I think God gives us a vision in our souls
of who and what we can be, and most of us (maybe all) fail to realize that vision.
The last line grabbed me the most.
Photo by Jeff Lieberman

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I ran across this photo the other day and it made me stop and contemplate.
It brought many thoughts to mind, and I considered writing some of them, but decided to just let the picture speak to you.

Photo by Eric Sheler

The following are excerpts from Elizabeth Barrette Browning’s poem
“Aurora Leigh”. What you will read is a patch work attempt on my part
To weave together some of what I found to be the most poignant lines
And word smithing. I may have done her work a disservice, but I interpreted
The poem as a young woman, who living years ago, first came upon the wonder
of Books, and the Bible in particular. It set her soul ablaze with new
Thoughts and emotions that could be seen in her eyes but not understood, by her or others.

Books, books, books!
Like some small nimble mouse between the ribs
Of a mastodon, I nibbled here and there
In heats of terror, haste, victorious joy,
The first book first.

And how I felt it beat under my pillow,
In the morning’s dark, an hour before the sun would let me read!
My books!

But I could not hide my quickening inner life from those at watch,
they saw a light at a window now and then, they have not set there.
Who had set it there? My father’s sister started when she caught
My soul agaze in my eyes. She could not say I had no business with
A sort of soul, but plainly she objected – and demurred.

My Father! – Thou hast knowledge, only thou.
I say your words – I could say other words of yours,
For none of all your words has been more lost than sweet verbena,
Which, being brushed against, will hold you three hours after by the smell,
In spite of long walks on the windy hills.

More’s felt than is perceived,
And more’s perceived than can be interpreted,
And Love strikes higher with his lambent flame
Than Art can pile the fagots.

Art is much, but love is more.
Beloved, let us love so well our work shall still be better for our love,
And still our love be sweeter for our work.

And when all’s done, all tried, all counted here,
All great arts and all good philosophies,--
This love just puts its hand out in a dream
And straight outreaches all things.

But if ‘tis sweet for love to pay its debt,
‘Tis sweeter still for love to give its gift.

Photo from the Internet

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Those who have keenest sympathy are those who look closest and pierce deepest and hold securest." Author unknown.

"Nursing is an art, and, if it is to be made an art, requires as exclusive a devotion, as hard a preparation, as any painter's or sculptor's work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or cold marble compared with having to do with the living body -- the temple of God's spirit?

It is one of the Fine Arts, -- I had almost said, the finest of the Fine Arts."

Florence Nightingale.

Paintings from the Internet

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I have just finished Brian McLaren's book "A Generous Orthodoxy", it was one of the best books I have read in years. I have been itching to post some quotes from it to give the flavor, and I think, give a picture of the author's heart.
The following two posts reveal his heart as well as anything in the book I think.

“If through Christ, God risks all for us, then we must do the same for people of other religions. They are our neighbors, and everything Jesus said about neighbors applies to them. Even if they approach us as enemies, to be faithful to Jesus we must love them and never let their status as non-Christians reduce them to non-neighbors…….

As a generous orthodox Christian, I consider myself not above Buddhists and Muslims and others, but below them as a servant. Better, I consider myself with them as a neighbor and a brother.

I am here to love them, to seek to understand them, and to share with them everything of value that I have found or received that they would like to receive as well. I am here to receive their gifts with equal joy – to enjoy life in God’s world with them, to laugh and eat and work with them, so we play with one another’s children and hold one another’s babies and dance at one another’s weddings and savor one another’s hospitality.

I am her to be their neighbor according to the teaching of my Lord, and if I am not a good one, my Lord says they have no reason to believe or even respect my message”.

Photo from the Internet

“My friend Diana Butler Bass embodies this ethos in a story from Broken We Kneel. Diana lives near me in the Washington D.C., area – rich in cultural diversity, tense after the 9/11 attacks, and the context for this story:

One day (my daughter) Emma saw a woman walking toward us covered in a veil and asked the inevitable, “What’s that, mommy”.

“Emma,” I answered, “that lady is a Muslim from a faraway place. And she dresses like that – and covers her head with a veil – because she loves God. That is how her people show they love God.”

My daughter considered these words. She stared at the woman who passed us. She pointed at the woman, then pointed at my hair, and further quizzed, “Mommy, so do you love God?”

“Yes, honey.” I laughed. “I do. You and I are Christians. Christian ladies show love for God by going to church, eating and drinking the wine, serving the poor, and giving to those in need. We don’t wear veils, but we do love God.”

After this, Emma took every opportunity to point to Muslim women during our shopping trips and tell me, “Mommy, look, she loves God.” One day, we were getting out of our car at our driveway at the same time as our Pakistani neighbors. Emma saw the mother, beautifully veiled, and, pointing at her, shouted, “Look, mommy, she loves God!”

My neighbor was surprised. I told her what I had taught Emma about Muslim ladies loving God. While she held back tears, this near stranger hugged me, saying, “I wish that all Americans would teach their children so. The world would be better. The world would be better.”

Now when I read that my heart leaped for joy and I so admired the loving, neighborly spirit in which the Christian woman had taught her child and affected her neighbor. I pondered if this Pakistani woman would be more open to hear her thoughts on God; would she respect her more, would she seek to befriend her?
I would answer yes to all. Then I had this fearful feeling of how some Christians I know would react to this piece. So I will include McLaren’s footnote –

“Before some readers wish to embroil me in debates about whether Allah of Islam is the same God as Yahweh of the Bible, please allow me to show at least a few Muslims the same grace Jesus showed: (a) a Roman centurion when Jesus said he had not seen such faith in all of Israel and (b) a Syrophoencian woman when He told her she had great faith. And please allow me to believe that if God would use stars to lead wise men (astrologers) from the East to Jesus, God might also speak to Muslims in terms of their own worldview and vocabulary.”
Photo from the Internet

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I had another post in mind for tonight but after watching this video Eric sent me, which I linked below, I have to share this. I think this video pretty much says everything I want to say as a Christian, and if I never made another post I think nearly all that needs to be said will be said through this.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I returned from a business trip in Orlando yesterday, good to be home! The weather there was wonderful, mid seventies all week. I could walk out at night in a T-shirt, which is quite a change from here. The day I left Oregon it snowed here.

I took today off and set up two book shelves that we bought at a second hand shop a while back, so I spent the day organizing it, which of course is great fun and in my small den it helped eliminate a lot of clutter. Anyway, this is part of my books where I get the quotes for my blog. I thought it might be of some interest so I included a picture.

Glad to be home and get back into my happy little routine.
“But can nothing be done for these poor creatures?” asked a sweet, pained voice, and the pitiful blue eyes filled with tears of compassion. “Nothing; they are, I repeat, utterly irreclaimable, sunk in depravity and crime beyond the power of all rescue.” But the young Quaker, Elizabeth Fry, visiting the prison called Newgate, said, “Utterly lost, sayest thou? Dost thou mean to say – but thou surely canst not—that these poor creatures are beyond the power and mercy of their God?”
The jailer responded, “Well, no of course not quite that, I suppose; but – but- well, the chaplain can do nothing with them, nor any one else that I know of.”

Here in a square of less than two hundred yards were huddled a confused mass of female prisoners and children, some untried (and so might be innocent of offence) others convicted of all kinds of wrong-doing, almost all dirty and shameless. Mrs. Fry’s own words to her brother were : “All I tell thee is a faint picture of the reality, the filth, the closeness of the rooms, the ferocious manners and expression of the women toward each other, and the abandoned wickedness which everything bespoke are quite indescribable.” And yet it was into such a place and to such people that this lady, nurtured in all refinement, ventured to bring the message of pardon and peace.

On her first visit to Newgate she met with great difficulties – the governor, chaplain, jailers, all alike strove to discourage and hinder her. The task was more helpless and disgusting – not to say dangerous – than any lady could imagine. She would hear awful language; the creatures were apt to turn brutally unmanageable. And what then?

“Then” said the slight, flaxen-haired matron, sedate and grave, in her plain Quaker’s dress, “then, as now, I shall be in God’s hands. I fear no other – let me go.”

And go she did, not so much as leaving her watch or purse at home for safety. Alone and unguarded, she was locked up with that awful crowd, which pressed about her with shrieks and jeers. They could not understand what such a one came for. And while they pushed, and begged, and swore, she stood, - strong in the sublime charity that hopeth all things, believeith all things, - New Testament in hand, patiently waiting. By and by, however, the Babel lulled, and she opened the page where it spoke most kindly and tenderly of the poor and fallen of all time, not as reprobates and accursed, but as sisters, to be raised and comforted, and one day led, safe and purified, to the Father’s feet. Her voice trembled somewhat now; but otherwise she showed no fear of the wild, haggard group about her, and they were subdued in spite of themselves by the determination of this fragile woman to tell of something beautiful and new. A real lady, too, - one of the class that passed them by with disdain; a lady speaking as though she loved and sorrowed for them as women of many trials and worthy of all compassion.
Suffice to say, God used Elizabeth Fry to revolutionize the prisons, The inmates heard and saw God’s love; they learned to read and write, to knit, sew and spin, earn money that they might not start penniless at the end of their imprisonment. The children were schooled and it is no wonder that one poor creature exclaimed, tearfully, when asked if she remembered Mrs. Fry:-
“God bless her, and the day she came to Newgate. She has done us all good, and we have, and shall always have good reason to bless her.”

By Clara L. Mateaux - Picture from the Internet

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I'm off to Orlando, Florida for a trade show, be back in a week.
God bless,
I watched this show last night, Mmmm, it speaks on so many levels. This moving story is a 'don't miss' in my opinion. Dakota Fanning, who I have watched grow up in the movies, always with powerful performances, not to be out done by this. She has a haunting attraction as she plays the part, and just to say "plays a part" is to grossly minimize what she accomplishes in this film.
This is a warm and moving film about love in all dimensions; family, friends, lovers, and faith. PG13 for some violence, and some disturbing scenes.
"I am so glad that it is a Divine Being who comes to pardon all our sins, to comfort all our sorrows. Sometimes our griefs are so great they are beyond any human sympathy, and we want Almighty sympathy. Oh, ye who cried all last night because of bereavement or loneliness, I want to tell you it is an omnipotent Christ who is to come.
When the children are in the house and the mother is dead, the father has to be more gentle in the home and he has to take the office of father and mother, and it seems to me Christ looks out upon your helplessness and he proposes to be father and mother to your soul.
He comes in the strength of the one, in the tenderness of the other.

He says with one breath, “As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him,” and then with the next breath he says, “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.”

Do you not feel the hush of the divine lullaby? Oh, put your tired head down on the heaving bosom of divine compassion while he puts his arms around you and says: “O widowed soul, I will be thy God. O orphaned soul, I will be thy protector. Do not cry.” Then he touches your eyelids with his fingers and sweeps his fingers down your cheek and wipes away all the tears of loneliness and bereavement. Oh, what a tender and sympathetic God has come for us.
I do not ask you to lay hold of him. Perhaps you are not strong enough for that. I do not ask you to pray. Perhaps you are too bewildered for that. I only ask you to let go and fall back into the arms of everlasting love.”

T. DeWitt Talmage Photo by Tuan Trinh

Friday, February 06, 2009

Some preachers use a chisel, others a hammer, some are sharp and piercing, some poetic, while others carve and sand, but T.DeWitt Talmage I liken to a painter whose brush paints Christ and his sermons with sweeping soft colors.
There are times when his brush is just what I long for.

The context of this paragraph is about magnetism in personality.

“After the battle of Antietam, when a general rode along the lines, although the soldiers were lying down exhausted, they rose with great enthusiasm and huzzaed. As Napoleon returned from his captivity, his fist step on the wharf shook all the kingdoms, and two hundred and fifty thousand men joined his standard. It took three thousand troops to watch him in his exile. So there have been men of wonderful magnetism of person. But hear me while I tell of a poor young man who came up from Nazareth to produce a thrill such as has never been excited by any other. Napoleon had around him the memories of Austerlitz and Jena and Badajos; but here was a man who had fought no battles; who wore no epaulets; who brandished no sword. He is no titled man of the schools, for he never went to school. He had probably never seen a prince, or shaken hands with a nobleman. The only extraordinary person we know of as being in his company was his own mother, and she was so poor in the most delicate and solemn hour that ever comes to a woman’s soul she was obliged to lie down amid camel drivers grooming the beasts of burden.”

Here is another example as he exhalts the Lord.
“In the Eye Infirmary, how many diseases of that delicate organ have been cured? But Jesus says to one born blind, “Be open!” and the light of heaven rushes through gates that have never before been opened. Nature is his servant. The flowers – he twisted them into his sermons; the winds – they were his lullaby when he slept in the boat; the rain – it hung glittering on the thick foliage of the parables; the star of Bethlehem – it sang a Christmas carol over his birth; the rocks – they beat a dirge at his death. Behold his victory over the grave! Here comes the Conqueror of Death. He enters that realm and says: “Daughter of Jairus, sit up;” and she sat up. To Lazarus, “Come forth”; and he came forth. To the widows son he said, “Get up from that bier”; and he goes home with his mother. Then Jesus snatched up the keys of death and hung them to his girdle, and cried until all the graveyards of earth heard him, “O Death! I will be thy plague! O Grave! I will be thy destruction!”
Photos taken from the Internet

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

"Real communion with the Lord, in His appointed means of grace, is likewise an important branch of His blessedness.
To read the Scriptures, not as an attorney may read a will, merely to know the sense, but as the heir reads it, as a description and proof of his interest: to hear the gospel as the voice of our Beloved, so as to have little leisure either for admiring the abilities, or censuring the defects of the preacher; and in prayer, to feel a liberty of pouring out our hearts before the Lord, to behold some glances of His goodness passing before us, and to breath forth before Him the tempers of a child, the spirit of adoption; and thus, by beholding His glory, to be conformed more and more to His image., and to renew our strength, by drawing water out of the wells of salvation; herein is blessedness.”

I like this little piece by John Newton, and especially the reference to reading the scriptures, not as an attorney, but an heir. Mmmm, that pulls up a warm image to me. I also like the phrase he uses in prayer, “to behold some glances of His goodness passing before us”. There are many times in prayer when the prayer closet is cold and I feel alone, and to have but a glance from the Lord warms my spirit and refreshes.

Painting from the Internet

Monday, February 02, 2009

The following paragraph from Jeremy Taylor’s book “Holy Dying” is a bit sobering, but it is an interesting thought and one we should be in mind of.
Oddly enough I smile a little as he makes his points, not to discredit it, but it just amazes me how he reaches into every nook and cranny of life and leaves no room for comfort, anywhere!
I suppose it also reminds me of my father, who was taken suddenly at age 41 from a heart attack. Truly, we have no promise we shall not die suddenly.
May I live as though I believed it.

“For since God has not told us that we shall not die suddenly, is it not certain he intended we should prepare for sudden death, as well as against death clothed in any other circumstances?
Fabius the Painter was choked with a hair from a mess of milk, Anacreon with a raisin, Cardinal Colonna with figs crusted with ice, Adrian the fourth with a fly, Casimire the second, King of Polonia with a little draught of wine, Amurath with a full goblet, Tarquinius Priscus with a fishbone.
For as soon as a man is born, that which in nature only remains to him, is to die, and if we differ in the way or time of our abode, or the manner of our exit, yet we are even at last, and since it is not determined by a natural cause, which way we shall go, or at what age; a wise man will suppose himself always upon his death-bed; and such supposition is like making of a will, he is not the nearer death for doing it, but he is the readier for it when it comes.”

Photo taken from the Internet

Sunday, February 01, 2009

I suppose there is no way to exaggerate how Christians are opinionated; but this piece by Isaac Watts illustrates it well.

"So good an opinion have we of our own sentiments and practices, that it is very difficult to believe what the reprover says of our conduct: and we are as ready to assent to all the language of flattery. We set up our own opinions in religion and philosophy as the tests of orthodoxy and truth; and we are prone to judge every practice of other men either a duty or a crime, which we think would be a crime or a duty in us, though their circumstances are vastly different from our own.
This humor prevails sometimes to such a degree, that we would make our own taste and inclination the standard by which to judge of every dish of meat that is set upon the table, every book in a library, every employment, study, and business of life, as well as every recreation.

It is from this evil principle of setting up self for a model what other men ought to be, that the anti-christian spirit of imposition and persecution had its origin: though there was no more reason for it than there was for the practice of that tyrant, who having a bed fit for his own size, was reported to stretch men of low stature upon the rack, till they were drawn out to the length of his bed; and some add also, that he cut off the legs of any whom he found too long for it.

It is also from a principle near akin to this, that we pervert and strain the writings of many venerable authors, and especially the sacred books of Scripture, to make them speak our own sense. Through the influence which our own schemes, or hypotheses have upon the mind, we sometimes become so sharp-sighted as to find these schemes in those places of Scripture where the holy writers never thought of them, nor the Holy Spirit intended them."

Isaac Watts