Tuesday, April 28, 2009

“I cannot fail, however unwilling, to see much that is dry and stiff and unlovely in the style of Christianity around me. It has no attraction for me. I do not like the people who illustrate it; and the reason is, not that they have got too much Christianity, but that they have not got enough of any thing else. Flour is good, but flour is not bread. If I am to eat flour, I must eat it as a bread; and either milk or water must be used to make it bread. If a little milk is used, the bread will be dry and heavy and hard. If a good deal is used, the flour will be transformed into a soft and plastic mass, which will rise in the heat, and come to my lips a sweet and fragrant morsel. Christianity is good, but it needs mixing with humanity before it will have a practical value. If only a little humanity be mixed with it, the product will be dry and tasteless; but if it be combined with the real milk of humanity, and enough of it, the result will be a loaf fit for the tongues of angels.”
Timothy Titcomb - Picture from the Internet

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"He that believeth shall not make haste. There is plenty of time.
You must not imagine that the result depends on you, or that a single human soul can be lost because you fail. The question, as far as you are concerned, is, whether you are to be honored in having a hand in the work that God is doing, and will do, whether you help Him or not. It shows no faith in God to make frantic efforts or frantic lamentations."

George MacDonald - Painting by Alma Tadema

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The poem below this post reminded me of a poem I wrote about ten years ago or so, it is the same theme and though it was an early poem of mine and I think there are a few good lines in it.

Led By A Child

The purity of children, God's most precious gift,
When I behold it's beauty, I'm aware of the drift
I've taken from virtue, in its grandest form,
It's God's reminder of what'll be the norm
in the Kingdome Eternal, where the saints will be filed
before the throne, and lead by a child.

It's been said that infancy is a Messiah that pleads
fallen man to aspire, more than all written creeds,
and God with his Spirit, each son would adorn
with the innocence of children, holiness reborn.

Words fail to express, like the beauty of the rose,
the impression of innocence on someone who knows,
his life has been stained, and darkened inside.
When from the bosom of God he ceased to abide.

So God has planned each birth to begin
His display of purity, to draw us back again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"We were two pretty babes: the youngest she,
The youngest, and the loveliest far (I ween)
And Innocence her name: the time has been
We two did love each other’s company;
Time was, we two had wept to have been apart.
But when, by show of seeming good beguiled,
I left my garb and manners of a child,
And my first love for man’s society,
Defiling with the world my virgin heart –
My loved companion dropt a tear, and fled,
And hid in deepest shades her awful head.
Beloved! Who shall tell me where thou art?
In what delicious Eden to be found?
That I may seek thee, the wide world around."
This heart moving poem about the loss of our most treasured possession, our innocence, really struck me. Once lost, we spend God's grace restoring it to but a trifle of what it once was as a child. Yes I know and I am thankful beyond words that with the blood of Christ applied we are white as snow in God's eyes, but the innocence of youth is what reminds me of the beauty of holiness; the beauty of innocence we will walk in fully one day.
I have had this photo for about two years waiting for just the right quote to accompany it. I think this is the one.
Charles Lamb - Photo of sweet innocence by rinaldo romani.

Monday, April 20, 2009

So, last Sunday I shared a few thoughts at the nursing home about the following scriptures –
Luke 24:13-16 where on the road to Emmaus the two were joined by Jesus but their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.

Also Isaiah; 45:15 “Truly thou art a God who hides Himself.”

And 1 Samuel 3: 1-8 where the boy Samuel heard the voice of God 4 times before he recognized Him.

And John. 20:15,16 where Mary beheld Jesus and did not know who it was.

And lastly, Luke. 24:28 Where Jesus acted as though he would go on farther as the two travelers with him were going into their home.

There is mystery in these scriptures, as well as many others along the same theme. So, got any ideas?
Picture from the Internet

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I’ve been reading in a book titled “Learning In Christ’s School” by a Puritan named Ralph Venning. 1621-1674. The premise is there are four basic stages in a Christians life; Babes, Children, Young Men, Fathers. He makes a pretty clear case from scripture and has some insightful and encouraging thoughts. The context of this quote is that we are all at some stage of the four categories, and even if we bolt out of repentance and are soon a Father, or whether we are a babe all of our Christian life, we should find contentment.

“Let everyone be thankful and bless God for what he has attained, be it more or less.
Are any of you cedars in Lebanon when others are but shrubs as the hyssop on the wall, or as the lilies of the valley? Are any of you, like Saul, taller than your brethren by head and shoulders? Are you crowned with the grey hairs of wisdom and righteousness? Have you overcome the wicked one? Have you lain in the Father’s bosom? Give God the glory, who gave you the grace.
Are others of you recently come in, or of but little and low stature? Are you only babes in Christ? Yet despise not the day of small things. Let none of his mercies or consolations be small to you, who are less than the least of them all. It is great mercy to be one of Christ’s, even one of his little ones.
Our Lord Jesus chose twelve to be with him as his family, of whom three were admitted to be his confidants, Peter, James and John; and of these three, John was the darling. He was the disciple whom Jesus loved with a particular love and was admitted to lie in his bosom. Now if you are not a John, thank him if you are a Peter or James; if not of them, thank him that you are one of the twelve (but not Judas); if not one of the twelve, then one of the seventy, for he afterward enlarged the number, to do him any service abroad. Bless him that you are a member of his body, though an ear or a foot; that you are a star in his firmament, though not of the first magnitude, but the very least of all.”

I began looking for a picture for this post and ran across a babe in Christ being baptised, then another and before long I welled up as I entered the moment.
So I couldn't decide which one to pick, so enjoy them all.
Photos from the internet, and Catholic baptism by Mark Skalinski.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jesus...a hispanic man, in a black woman's body.

I read this post on my son Eric's blog and had to share it, in the event that you don't read his blog, shame on you if you don't. He pastor's an urban church in Spokane, Washington.

Our church hosted a Holy Week series of "Sacred Encounters" from Thursday to Sunday; in an attempt to "enter the story" as a community of Jesus. Each day was centered around the events of Jesus found in the gospels during His last few days. Through the use of re-imagined liturgy, we encountered and entered the story through: art, music both traditional and contemporary, video, spoken word, poetry, scripture readings, group recitation, hands on contemplative activities, crafts, food and singing. We "encountered Jesus and each other...In the acts of foot washing, communion, candle procession, hammering nails, preparing a breakfast and eating together, serving and taking wine and bread, reciting creeds, mournful hymns, triumphant praise, deep prayer, personal prophecy and humble confession. It was a holy and sacred time...we truly encountered Jesus in profoundly old and new ways...together.But one of the most powerful parts of the weekend for me was the presence of the unexpected guest.

The stranger

Jesus showed up as a hispanic man, in a black woman's body....At first I saw him sitting on the back pew, a small Hispanic man, obviously a homeless traveler. He was just quietly sitting there with a pleasant smile....just waiting, for something...someone.It was the end of the evening's Good Friday Encounter and I saw him through the various people who were standing around. I pressed through the group and welcomed him, shook his hand and made sure to smile and make him feel wanted (something I learned from my father) You see, I am on a quest to find the hidden kingdom. I know God likes to play hide and seek. He comes unexpectedly, suddenly but oh so secretly...you can often pass by, ignore, forget, disdain or fear Him."Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." -Hebrews 13:2I thought he was an angel...I've seen his kind before. They act so nonchalant, discreet, pass-by-able...but like butterflies...you can start to figure out what draws them; they love to be entertained...served, cared for...but, you just can't control them. They arrive when they want too...you never see them coming, you just discover them present and then they leave. He left that night, better clothed than he arrived...oh, and he left his socks in the bathroom. Angels wear socks, black ones in fact...I didn't know that?
Did you know Angles are hungry, talk to themselves and like two Pepsi's instead of one? I didn't either. I was sitting there eating a feast of asian food prepared by our refugee friends in our community resource center on Sunday afternoon. The place was packed with 95% carmel colored beauties and we were clear on the other side of the room, away from the door. In comes big mama. Bags, coats, hats and a whole lot of black woman to love...you know, the kind that you hug their boobs way before they ever get their arms around you? There she stood, fanagling her way into a room full of people speaking another language. She was looking for someone...and then she found him.We got each other's eyes. She smiled big and had that look of "Oh there he is"...she bumbled on over through, with the little people in her wake. She was completely unfazed, determined and on a mission. "Can I eat something?" she asked. "Of course, do you want to take it with you are sit down and eat with us?" we said.She sat down across from us. After getting a Karen sized serving of everything, times two...she proceeded to eat, drink, talk to her invisible friends, pray and smile and then laugh unexpectedly. The look on Sarah's face, our Ethiopian teenager friend, who was sitting next to her...was priceless. This angel was quite a heavenly manifestation. She ate for awhile and then said she had to catch a bus....of course you do, I thought...all angels ride the bus...and off she went in a huff of mumbles, giggles and a plate with a roll on it. As I sat here this morning...I remembered what I preached yesterday:"Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight."-Lk 24:31In a flash of revelation, I realized we were not visited by Angels...but the Lord." "Come, you, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and you gave me food: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you invited me in: Naked, and you clothed me..."Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, and fed You? or thirsty, and gave you drink? When did we see you as a stranger and took You in? or naked, and clothed You?"And the King shall answer and say to them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Vanishing Jesus...sometimes He is right in front of you and you don't even realize it, until He is gone. Next time, I am going to grab Him and hug Him like I've always wished I could.But....I imagine, I won't recognize Him again....but maybe I will, I hope so.
(cafe pic: Lena Koller and sketch by Ami)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I have read that Mother Teresa had many times of doubt about God, and Joseph mentioned this the other day. I thought about that and I arrived at some conclusions; if you know much about me you would know that I admire Mother Teresa and consider her one of God’s greatest witnesses of the twentieth century. I think Joseph can attest there is hardly a person in India that does not know her name and more likely the wonderful, love filled work that she did, and the name of Christ is known and revered more by her work among Christ’s downtrodden than by any other work of faith done in India. I would go so far as to say that Christ is glorified more worldwide because of her work and testimony than any other Christian of that century.
It would be easy for one to become proud and puffed up with such celebrity status as she was given. One could easily think highly of oneself with such a reputation. I suspect the Lord gave her a thorn in the flesh that kept her humble all the days she served Him. I also know that working among the desperate and distressed day after day is a difficult task. When we see great suffering it begs the question of why? Am I doing enough? Does it accomplish God’s will? Why is there no end in sight to this suffering? I suspect she may have felt some or all of these emotions. When Christ suffered for the sins of mankind on the cross He felt forsaken. I think this may well have entered Mother Teresa’s mind, along with all those that serve suffering mankind.

If you have not watched the documentary of Mother Teresa, you are missing the opportunity to see the closest thing to Christ in the flesh, you will ever see. In my humble opinion.
I love this picture of her with all the determination of Christ's holy zeal to love and protect.
Picture taken from the Internet

Sunday, April 12, 2009

“It would be out of analogy with the order of things as established by God, if the exercises of the spiritual life were not attended by peace and joy. Happiness is so intimately associated with these exercises that the apostle says, To be spiritually minded is life and peace. Excellence and enjoyment are blended in inseparable union; so that all right emotions and affections are pleasurable. And this pleasure is, in kind if not in degree, proportionable to the dignity of the powers from whose exercise they flow.
The senses afford the lowest kind of happiness; then, in an ascending scale, the social affections; then the intellectual powers; then the moral emotions, and then the religious affections.
The kind of enjoyment which attend these latter is felt to be more pure and elevated, more satisfying and better suited to our nature, than that which flows from any other source. Hence the Scriptures ascribe to communion with God a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory, and a peace which passes all understanding. Joy, therefore, is one of the fruits of the Spirit; it is one of the accompaniments and evidences of spiritual life; it is a healthful affusion (pouring); it is the oil of gladness, which the Spirit pours over the renewed soul, to invigorate its exercises, to brighten its visage, and to make it active in te service and praise of God.”

“Excellence and enjoyment are blended in inseparable union”, this is the first line that caught my eye; God has designed humans to experience enjoyment when they do excellent things, good, compassionate, loving things. Think what chaos the world would be in if this common grace was not knitted into the fabric of our souls. He states that all right emotions are pleasurable. Again, what a mercy that we don’t take pride or experience dignity in evil deeds.

He then describes the scale of ascending enjoyments, starting with the five senses, moving on to our social affections, then intellectual powers; then moral emotions, which I take to be love, compassion, mercy, kindness and those described in the Fruit of the Spirit; and last the mystical union of love toward God.
I’ve read this over a number of times and I believe it is the true order but also know that the enjoyment of the senses is what conflicts with the other enjoyments in the scale, how many times have I lived for my senses and sabotaged all of the others and robbed my self of joy and peace? Too many.
I had to ask myself if I really believe that religious affections are my greatest joy when I am willing to so easily distracted by lower affections knowing I will lose the joy of union with God. I suspect it is a life long battle that all Christians war against.
Charles Hodge - photo by The Bonnies Blues, Flickr

Saturday, April 11, 2009

“Our motive power is always found in what we lack.”

I read this quote the other day, it was so random, attributed to no author and I nearly just went by it. Then I came back to see if I could make any sense of it and actually, I think it is interesting. I’ll approach it this way; Christians approach God in as many different ways as there are personalities. We come from different cultures, environments, circumstances, educations, whether those are tradition or academic. We are each created by God unique and we all have something God plans to use in His kingdom on earth.
Now my ex-wife was of a very sensitive nature, loved animals, and was very intuitive, both with animals and humans. She read the spirit of a man and drew her conclusions based on what she sensed more than what they said.
Looking back, I’d say her abilities were God given and often very accurate. I was more impacted by the words and not as attuned to people’s spirit. This caused difficulties in friendships, and fellowships and was a constant source of contention.
I remember a specific incident when we had come from church after hearing a sizzling sermon on the power of God, his divine attributes, judgments, and demands and of course, fate of the wicked.
She left feeling judged, condemned and confused.
She was drawn to the creative attributes of God, to the nurturing, compassion and love of God. These topics ran a little short in the denomination we attended which brought her to the state of confusion. One afternoon she was in the kitchen about to prepare herself a cup of tea, filled with the confusion of why she felt “different” from so many in the congregation, and as she reached for the box of tea which had on the front of the box a picture of either a butterfly or a deer,(I can’t remember which), then she sensed the voice of God saying softly, “don’t forget, I created this animal.” She felt a great sense of relief with this intimate moment when God simply affirmed that He was who she believed Him to be regardless of how He was presented by others.

I’ve always remembered that little incident because it demonstrates how God cares for each of us and approves of how He made us. We often do not feel approved by others because of our failure to measure up to the standards of others or their perception of God’s priorities. In some denominations, there is little room for those whose perception and understanding of God differs from their own.
So this is where the quote from above comes in; when we sense a deficiency, this often becomes the motivating power for change, either in our location or our selves. In my ex-wife’s case, it led to location; she left the church and never returned.

It is a pity that we can be so certain of who we think God is and what and whom he accepts, If there is a shortcoming in many of our churches, this must be its greatest deformity.
Photo by Pavel Kaplun

Thursday, April 09, 2009

“......Again, life, in all the forms in which we are acquainted with it, is progressive; feeble at the beginning, it advances gradually to maturity. It is thus in plants, in animals, and in the rational soul; and it is thus also in the spiritual life."
Charles Hodge.

When I read this piece this morning it brought to mind something that I have observed over the years but haven’t put it into words, so I’ll try now. This principle he describes above is often lost on new Christians, they come into the spiritual world, often with great enthusiasm, and they sit at the feet of preachers and read books written by people that have grown up and proved themselves trustworthy guides in spiritual things. The new Christian often has the zeal to seek the mature life, but within themselves they are still a babe, immature and feeble. Because of their zeal they are often put into positions that they are not truly ready for, or they measure themselves with advanced believers and become disheartened and often very discouraged. To make matters worse, sometimes there is a competittive spirit among Christians. The new believer doesn't allow themselves the grace that God allows to the feeble new believer and they become ensnared in impossible goals that can only be reached with time and growth. The very faith that gives them life can become bondage. This principle is easily seen in children that are given an academic challenge that is a grade or two above them; it is beyond their comprehension, and in children, beyond the literal growth of their brain. So try as they may, they will just become defeated and usually downcast.
But in adults we don’t recognize this as easily, although the result is the same.
The Bible encourages us to walk with the wise and pursue the highest goals, but one can only reach fruition with time and practice, stumbling many times, learning to lean on the everlasting arms that catch us when we fall over and over again.

Hodges goes on to say, “The gambols of young animals show an exuberance of joy, which those that have reached maturity no longer experience. But how imperfect is the organization of these playful creatures, how small is their power of endurance, how little their serviceable strength, in comparison with that of those who know not half their joys! It is not unnatural, therefore, that young Christians should feel a glow of happiness from the exercise of feelings, delightful from their novelty as well as from their nature, which those more advanced may have ceased to experience, in whom feeling has ripened into principle, and mere joyful emotions settled into a peace which passes all understanding.”

So, for everything there is a season, and coming to accept our season goes a long way in finding contentment. Through all seasons one thing stands firm; there is therefore, now no condemnation, to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Photo by Ali Kose

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

“If my son,” said a wealthy man, whose wasteful heir was fast dissipating the fruits of his exertions, “can take as much pleasure in spending my property as I have derived from acquiring it, I will not complain.”
Lessing declared that if he had been offered the choice between the possession of truth and the pleasure of seeking for it, he would unhesitatingly have preferred the latter. A state of constant fruition would be, according to our present notions, a state truly lamentable, since it would preclude, in a great degree, the pleasing emotions that spring from hope and expectation, and thus extinguish the lights that principally serve to cheer our path through life. Were all our desires satiated at their birth, or were we always satisfied with our present condition, in either case, as there would be nothing to draw forth our active energies, life would stagnate.
In short, man was made for action, and life is a mere scene for the exercise of the mind and the engagements of the heart…..”

I like this little piece from a book titled “Getting On In The World” by William Mathews, LL.D.,
I have posted part of it before, but the longer I live the more I realize that happiness can not be sought, but it is a by-product of a well lived life. And if we pursue pleasure in abundance we find it always out of our reach.
None the less it appears to me that God knitted in us a continual reaching and a hope for something better. I see how useful this is and expectation is pleasing, like the author said. If the goals are for the betterment of man, we avoid harm and reap reward; if the goals are self-centered, we end with what the poet has said of woman, --
“The lovely toy, so fiercely sought,
Hath lost its charm by being caught.”

Painting by Christensen - The rich young ruler

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Model Church

Well, wife, I’ve found the model church – I
Worshipped there today!
It made me think of good old times, before
my hair was gray.
The meeting house was fixed up more than
they were years ago,
But then, I felt when I went in, it wasn’t built for

The sexton didn’t seat me away back by the door;
He knew that I was old and deaf, as well as old and
He must have been a Christian, for he led me through
the long aisle of that crowded church, to find a place
and pew.

I wish you’d heard the singin’ – it had the old-time
The preacher said with trumpet voice, “let all the
people sing!”
The tune was Coronation, and the music upward
Till I thought I heard the angels all striking their
harps of gold.

My deafness seemed to melt away; my spirit caught
the fire;
I joined my feeble, trembling voice, with that
melodious choir,
And sang as in my youthful days, “Let angels
Prostrate fall,
bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord
of all.”

I tell you, wife, it did me good to sing that hymn once
I felt like some wretched mariner who gets a glimpse
of shore;
I almost wanted to lay down this weather beaten
And anchor in the blessed port forever from the storm.

The preachin’? Well, I can’t just tell all the
Preacher said;
I know it wasn’t written; I know it wasn’t read;
He hadn’t time to read it, for the lighnin’ of his eye
went flashin’ along from pew to pew, nor passed a
sinner by.

The sermon wasn’t flowery, ‘twas simple gospel truth;
It fitted poor old men like me, it fitted hopeful youth.
‘Twas full of consolation for weary hearts that bleed;
‘Twas full of invitations to Christ, and not to creed.

The preacher made sin hideous in Gentiles and in
He shot the golden sentences down in the finest pews,
And – though I can’t see very well – I saw the falling
That told me hell was some way off, and heaven very

How swift the golden moments fled within that holy
How brightly beamed the light of heaven from every
happy face!
Again I longed for that sweet time when friend shall
meet with friend,
“Where congregations ne’er break up, and Sabbaths
have no end.

I hope to meet that minister – that congregation, too –
In that dear home beyond the stars that shine from
heaven’s blue.
I doubt not I’ll remember, beyond life’s evening
That happy hour of worship in that model church

Dear wife, the fight will soon be fought, the victory
be won;
The shining goal is just ahead, the race is nearly run.
O’er the river we are nearin’, they are throngin’ to the
To shout our safe arrival where the weary weep no
John H. Yates - Photo from the Internet

Saturday, April 04, 2009

In the following four posts are quotes from "The Royal Path of Life", a book written in 1876. In many ways life was harder then than now, but we have a set of challenges that physically easier, may very well be mentally more difficult. Either way, the advice in the following four posts, if, maybe, somewhat idealistic, are timeless principles.


"Many pass through life without even a consciousness of where they are and what they are doing. They gaze on whatever lies directly before them, “in fond amusement lost.”
Human life is a watchtower. It is the clear purpose of God that every one, the young especially, should take their stand on this tower. Look, listen, learn, wherever you go, whenever you tarry. Something is always transpiring to reward your attention. Let your eyes and ears be always open and you will often observe in the slightest incidents materials of advantage and means of personal improvement."
Photo by Marina Cano

“In nothing is childhood more strongly distinguished from manhood than in this, that the small child has no purpose. He has no plan of life. He has no will by which his energies are directed. He lives in a great measure to enjoy the passing scene. He finds his happiness in those agreeable consciousnesses which from hour to hour come to him by chance. If his life is governed by a plan, a purpose, it is the purpose of another. Not his own.
The man has his own purpose, his own plan, his own life and aim. The sorrowful experience of multitudes in this respect is that they are never men, but children all their days.
Take life as God intended. Take it just as thought it was, as it is, an earnest, vital, essential affair. Take it just as though you personally were born to the task of performing a merry part in it. As thought the world had waited for your coming. Take it as though it was a grand opportunity to do and to achieve, to carry forward great and good schemes to help and cheer a suffering, weary or heart-broken brother. The fact is, life is undervalued by a great majority of mankind.”
Photo by Airi Pung

"Man was sent into the world to be a growing and exhaustless force. The world was spread out around him to be seized and conquered. Realms of infinite truth burst open above him inviting him to tread those shining coasts along which Newton dropped his plummet and Herschel sailed. A Columbus of the skies. Some, because they have once or twice met with rebuffs, sink in discouragement.
Such should know, that our own errors may often teach us more than the grave precepts of others. We counsel the young man never to despair. If he can make nothing by any work that presents itself now, he can at least make himself. He can save himself from the sure death of a faint-hearted, halting, irresolute spirit.
He should never be cast down by misfortunes. If a spider breaks his web, over and over he will mend it again. Do you not fall behind the very insect on your walls? If the sun is going down, look up to the stars. If earth is dark keep your eyes on heaven. With the presence and promise of God we can bare up under anything. We should press on and never falter or fear."
Photo by Daren Fentiman

"Rely not on others. Let there be in your own bosom a calm, deep, decided and all-pervading principle. Look first, midst and last to God to aid you in the great task before you. Then plant your foot on the right. Let others live as they please tainted by low tastes, debasing passions, a moral putrefaction. Be ye the salt of the earth. Incorrupt in your deeds, in your inmost thoughts and feelings. Nay, more incorruptible like virtue herself. Your manners blameless. Your views of duty not narrow, false and destructive, but a savor of life to all around you. Let your speech be always with grace seasoned with the salt of truth, honor, manliness, and benevolence. Wait not for the lash of guilt to scourge you to the path of God and heaven. Be of the prudent who foresee the evil and hide themselves from it. Not like the simple, who pass on and are punished. Life to youth is a fairy tale just opened. Old age, a tale read through ending in death. Be wise in time that you may be happy in eternity."
The four quotes above are from "The Royal Path of Life". Picture from the Internet.

Friday, April 03, 2009

I was reading a chapter on kindness in a book called The Royal Path of Life.
I think he did a good job on this fruit of the Spirit; such a simple and basic Christian character, but oh so difficult.

“He who neglects the trifles, yet boasts that when ever a great sacrifice is called for, he shall be ready to make it, will rarely be loved. The likelihood is he will not make it; and if he does, it will be much rather for his own sake than for his neighbors. Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles, and kindnesses, and small obligations, given habitually, are what win and preserve the heart, and secure comfort.
Give no pain. Breathe not a sentiment, say not a word, and give not the expression of the countenance that will offend another, or send a thrill of pain to his bosom.
We are surrounded by sensitive hearts, which a word or look even, might fill to the brim with sorrow. If you are careless of the opinions of others, remember that they are differently constituted from yourself.

Many will lose the opportunity of saying a kind thing by waiting to weigh the matter too long. Our best impulses are too delicate to endure much handling. If we fail to give them expression the moment they rise, they effervesce, evaporate, and are gone. Speak promptly when you feel kindly.

Deal gently with the stranger. Remember the severed cord of affection, still bleeding, and beware not to wound by a thoughtless act, or a careless word.”

Of course this advice is so important in rearing children and a building a happy marriage as well as good counsel for the stranger.
Photo by Boaz Rottem.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Divinity of Poetry
Percy Bysshe Shelly

“Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds. We are aware of evanescent visitations of thought and feeling, sometimes associated with place or person, sometimes regarding our own mind alone, and always arising unforeseen and departing unbidden, but elevating and delightful beyond all expression; so that, even in the desire and the regret they leave, there cannot but be pleasure, participating as it does in the nature of its object. It is, as it were, the interpenetration of a diviner nature through our own; but its footsteps are like those of a wind over the sea, which the morning calm erases, and whose traces remain only, as on the wrinkled sand which paves it…….”

I love this topic, which I interpret as inspiration, and I always love it when someone is able to put words to this “evanescent visitation”. I think it may take a poet to describe these moments when we are inspired, be it in a spiritual rapture, a breakthrough in art, or just some experience “delightful beyond all expression”. I think he is right in describing them as a moment when God penetrates our mind.
Photo by Rarindra Prakarsa

I was listening to Rovi Zacharis on my way home from work and he told a story of a Vietnamese man during the war who was converted and used of God to lead many to Christ. After the war he was put in prison and they sought to brainwash him from his Christian faith. They fed him a continual diet of Marxism, atheism and propaganda and after some length of time he began to doubt and ultimately came to a point where he felt he may have been brainwashed by the missionaries that converted him. He decided from that day on that he would denounce his faith in God. The next morning he was put on latrine duty in prison and while cleaning the disgusting latrines, he saw a scrap of paper covered in excrement. He fished it out and washed it off, put it in his pocket and that night while all his cell-mates were asleep, took out a little flashlight and his eyes fell on Romans 8:28. His heart was smitten with the love of God who left him not even for one day without reaching out to him. The next day he volunteered for latrine duty again, and they said fine. He found another paper, again covered in excrement, which he washed and came to find out that the General, who was an atheist, found a Bible and decided to use its pages for toilet paper each day, which then was fished out and cleaned by Vietnamese man, who retrieved nearly all of the book of Romans and many other parts of the Bible. Needless to say his faith was restored, eventually he was released and escaped Vietnam and ultimately made his way to the U.S.
Painting by Amber Parker