Monday, June 29, 2009

I hate computers!!!!!!!! I love computers!!!!!!!!!!!! ........They depress me.
But, I finally got mine out of the hospital and I can post once more, yippee! I can't access my email, which is what the picture is referencing; when will Mr. Gates figure out how to make a truly user friendly computer that helps poor computer illiterate souls like me? In my lifetime I hope.

A lot has happened since my last post, I found another job after 26 years working for the same place. I got a lead on a job with Teen Challenge, which is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program started by David Wilkerson and the Assembly of God church. Students, (people who volunteer for the 9 month program), after de-tox, are put right to work; one of those places is in a Thrift Store where they receive goods, help sort merchandise, price, deliver and pickup, and all the tasks necessary for the business. The Thrift Store provides nearly half the funds for the program and Teen Challenge needed someone to oversee and manage the men and the business. The men need to learn business ethics, successful life skills and of course need Godly counsel and encouragement to succeed in their commitment to overcome their addiction. I interviewed for the job and as God would have it, I was hired. Praise His name! I am so enthused and can't wait to begin - start date July 16th. So please pray that I would walk in the wisdom of God as I work with the men and work to grow the business so others will have the opportunity to join the program. There is no cost to the men, and women, in the program. So funding is a very important part of success.

Now I will spend the balance of the evening trying to get the other functions of my computer up to speed.

Picture from the Internet

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I was reading a piece by Max Beerbohm on laughter just for fun, and I was intrigued by his style and I thought the two following parts were entertaining,
hope you enjoy.

“As to what is most precious among the accessories to the world we live in, different men hold different opinions. There are people whom the sea depresses, whom mountains exhilarate. Personally, I want the sea always – some not populous edge of it for choice; and with it sunshine, and wine, and a little music. My friend on the mountain yonder is of tougher fiber and sterner outlook, disapproves of the sea’s laxity and instability, has no ear for music and no palate for the grape, and regards the sun as a rather enervating institution, like central heating in a house. What he likes is a grey day and the wind in his face; crags at a great altitude; and a flask of whisky. Yet I think that even he, if we were trying to determine from what inner sources mankind derives the greatest pleasure in life, would agree with me that only the emotion of love takes higher rank than the emotion of laughter. Both these emotions are partly mental, partly physical. It is said that the mental symptoms of love are wholly physical in origin. They are not the less ethereal for that. The physical sensations of laughter, on the other hand, are reached by a process whose starting-point is in the mind. They are not the less “gloriously of our clay.” There is laughter that goes so far as to lose all touch with its motive, and to exist only, grossly, in itself. This is laughter at its best.”

“……I utter a course peal of ----laughter.
At least I say I do so. In point of fact, I have merely smiled. Twenty years ago, ten years ago, I should have laughed, and have professed to you that I had merely smiled. A very young man is not content to be very young, nor even a young man to be young: he wants to share the dignity of his elders. There is no dignity in laughter; there is much of it in smiles. Laughter is but a joyous surrender, smiles give token of mature criticism. It may be that in the early ages of this world there were far more laughter than is to be heard now, and that aeons hence laughter will be obsolete, and smiles universal – every one, always, mildly slightly, smiling. But it is less useful to speculate as to mankind’s past and future than to observe men. And you will have observed with me in the club-rooms that young men at most times look solemn, whereas old men or men of middle age mostly smile; and also that those young men do often laugh out loud and long among themselves, while we others – the gayest and best of us in the most favorable circumstances—seldom achieve more than our habitual act of smiling. Does the sound of that laughter jar on us? Do we liken it to the crackling of thorns under a pot? Let us do so. There is no cheerier sound. But let us not assume it to be laughter of fools because we sit quiet. It is absurd to disapprove of what one envies, or to wish a good thing were no more because it has passed out of our possession.”
This second piece will have little appeal if you are young, but if you are an old-timer like me, I think you will, sadly, relate.
Top Photo by Om Mishra, bottom photo by Miguel Ramos

I was reading more of John Owen, about how God rescues His people, and he made a list of 6 ways God commonly comes to the aid of his people and as I read over it a few times, I was struck by the first method and how many times have I seen this come to pass. Times when I was at my wits end, circumstances seemed entirely impossible to over come, and low and behold, a change took place that defied all reason, and I was left praising God for another miracle of deliverance. All of the six methods of God below are the things that give me hope when I am down.

David’s plea in Ps. 25:20; “Guard my soul and deliver me;
Do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in Thee.” captures the essence of Owens quote.

“And rest upon this, that God has innumerable ways that thou knowest not of to give thee deliverance; such as –

1st. He can, by some providence, alter that whole state of things from whence thy temptation doth arise, so taking fuel from the fire, causing it to go out of itself; as it was with David in the day of battle: or,

2dly. He can tread down Satan under thy feet, that he shall not dare to suggest any thing any more to thy disadvantage (the God of peace shall do it), that thou shalt hear of him no more; or,

3dly. He can send an affliction that shall mortify thy heart unto the matter of the temptation, whatever it be, that that which was before a sweet morsel under the tongue shall neither have taste or relish in it unto thee,-- thy desire to it shall be killed; as was the case with the same David: or

4thly. He can give thee such supply of grace as that thou mayst be freed, though not from the temptation itself, yet from the tendency and danger of it; as was the case with Paul; or,

5thly He can give thee such a comfortable persuasion of good success in the issue as that thou shalt have refreshment in thy trials, and be kept from the trouble of the temptation; as was the case with the same Paul; or,

6thly He can utterly remove it, and make thee a complete conqueror. And innumerable other ways he hath of keeping thee from entering into temptation, so as to be foiled by it.”

What a mighty God we serve!
Painting from the Internet

Thursday, June 18, 2009

In John Owens classic book titled “Temptation and Sin”, he discusses, in chapter 15, some of the causes of our souls decay. In this particular quote he is talking about Sloth and Negligence and its effects on our soul. I remember reading this about 10 years ago and I loved his application from the Song of Songs –

“So was it with the spouse in the Song of Songs, chapter 5:2; Christ calls unto her, verse 1, with a marvelous loving and gracious invitation unto communion with himself. She, who had formerly been ravished at the first hearing of that joyful sound, being now under the power of sloth and carnal ease, returns a sorry excusing answer to his call, which ended in her own signal loss and sorrow. Indwelling sin, I say, prevailing by spiritual sloth upon the souls of men unto an inadvertency of the motions of God’s Spirit in their former apprehensions of divine love, and a negligence of stirring up continual thoughts of faith about it, a decay grows insensibly upon the whole soul. Thus God oft complains that his people had “forgotten him;” that is, grew unmindful of his love and grace, - which was the beginning of their apostasy.”

If you read this in Song of Songs it certainly brings the text to life.

Picture by Lee

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Having posted a half a dozen of Beecher's practical quotes, I thought I would jot down something more theological; so this quote summarizes his thoughts on "What is the Christian religion?"--

The Christian religion is not a system of laws. It is a state of the heart. The Christian religion is not a philosophy of truth as it relates to man's nature and duty. It is a soul-life. It is not an inventory of truths as they existed before man came into the world, and will exist after he passes away. The Christian religion, in respect to each particular man who believes in it, is a state of facts in his own consciousness. Christ in a man - that is the Christian religion. It is Christ dwelling by love in his heart, or dwelling in his heart by faith. Out of this will grow many doctrines, and many inferences; but it is the seminal form, the germinate element, in Christianity. It is the personal relationship of the individual heart to the Lord Jesus Christ as its supreme head and lover. That not only makes a man a Christian, but brings him into the central point of the Christian system. Everywhere in the New Testament this one element stands forth - the personal identification of the human heart with the Lord Jesus Christ."

Well said Henry, in my estimation.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I was reading a sermon by Henry Ward Beecher, one of America's finest preachers of the 19th century, and the following six posts are excerpts from this sermon directed to young men and women, but applies to me as well. I will be sharing these with my grandchildren, piece by piece over the next few months.

“One of the things I would say to the young, both men and women, is in the homely form of a proverb – “Every one should be willing to creep before he walks.” This does not seem to be a very important thing; and yet, it is of exceeding importance. There is hardly a young man that goes from his father’s house who does not want money before he earns it. He does want to walk before he can creep. There is hardly a young man that goes out into life who does not want the reputation of being smart before he is smart. There is a hardly a single circle in which you see half a dozen young men, that do not see them aping something; making believe; “putting on airs,” as the saying is. They wish to have the appearance of a bravery, a position, or something else, which they have not attained. They are not willing to creep before they walk. The very beginning of life develops a tendency in men to false appearances; to insincerity; to an estimation which is radically unmanly; to a desire to have what does not belong to them – what they have no right to claim by reason of anything that they are, or that they have been. To be without pretense; to desire to have only that which you can legitimately lay claim to, of praise, of sympathy, of reputation, of means – to have a manly pride, by which you shall be the factor of that which is in your won possession – that is thoroughly salutary. An honest manhood scorns pretense and appearances. These are the signs of unripeness, not only, but they are vicious, bad signs in a child.”

Photo from the Internet

“Next, you must secure, as you go, your own education. One man cannot educate another man. Every man must educate himself. The school gives him a chance; books give him a chance; teachers facilitate and help; but, after all, the man is the schoolmaster as well as scholar. He is both pupil and teacher.
Many men are said to be self-taught. No man was ever taught in any other way. Do you suppose a man is a bucket to be hung on the well of knowledge and pumped full? Man is a creature that learns by the exertion of his own faculties. There are aids to learning, of various kinds; but no matter how many of these aids a man may be surrounded by, after all, the learning is that which he himself acquires. And whether he is in college or out of college, in school or out of school, every man must educate himself. And in our times and our community every man has the means of doing it."

This is such a pertinent issue as I have grandchildren just entering High School. I may be somewhat partial, but I think all my Grandchildren are very bright, but without the above application, it will be no advantage.

H.W. Beecher - Photo from the Internet

“Here is a very great fault, my young friends, with you. I do not blame you that you are jovial. You ought to be jovial. I do not blame you that you love pleasure. Pleasure is right if it be rational. It may be a moral excellence. I do not blame you that you are chatty and gay, and that you spend your time with great delight in youth. Youth is a time for enjoyment.
I sympathize with all these things. But I do blame you that you live for these. I blame you that they are all you think about. If they were for the intervals; if they were, so to speak, the cushions that you put between the hard bones of duty; if they were relaxations, no one more than I, would praise you. But I am ashamed to see young men and maidens who spend their whole life in foolish, idle, endless chatter or in endless running after mere pleasure, or in courses that have not one single particle of upbuilding in them.”

H.W. Beecher - photo by Pavel Kaplun

"To begin at the lowest, many of you will be workers – not brain-workers, but hand-workers. You will be called to earn a livelihood by manual labor. You need not be ashamed of it; but, after all, a man ought not to work with his hands alone. He may begin in that way; but every man’s hand ought to be taught to think; and every year he ought to work more with his head, and less with his hand. I do not blame any man for being a day-laborer, or a menial laborer; but I do blame a man when he is content to labor with his hand, and never aspires to anything beyond that – never makes that hand fuller, more industrious, more capable. Every man who begins to work with his hand should put brains in the palm of that hand, and educate it, so that it shall become more and more potential…….. Every year one should read more, and every year one should learn and do more.”
I like this quote because in the foolishness and trubulence of my youth, having quit High School in my last year, I began working with my hands, and back! It didn't take to many shovel fulls, factory work and tedium before I figure I had better put some "brains in the palm of my hand" or I would be an old man at 40.
H.W. Beecher - Photo by Marino Cano

“A busy man has a right to amusement, and nobody else has. A very earnest, intense, sober man has a right to wit and mirth. That is his privilege. But a man that twitters and laughs all the time is a fool. A man that is bent on the acquisition of fact, and of principle, and of knowledge, has a right to unbend, and to read sporting papers; and certainly funny papers are not to be disallowed. There is much in them that may do a man good, as a relaxation – as an alternative. But it is painful and sickening to see a young man who makes the Sunday morning journal his classics; who studies all the things he knows out of a fifth-class trashy newspaper; who knows something about the horses that run, something about gambling saloons, and a good deal about drinking saloons, and a good deal about scandal; who reads papers that minister to his morbid appetites, to his lower passions, to the meanest parts of his nature, feculent, dripping, reeking with things that are low and unmanly. Is it not shameful for a man to give his time to reading and glozing over such contemptible stuff? Ought not a man to be ashamed to let all the great and noble themes of true secular knowledge go past him unheeded and unexplored, and spend his leisure in these miserable communings of miserable men with the most miserable parts of themselves.”

Please forgive me for the Twitter reference, I know nothing about it and I didn't mean to meddle, but the application is easy.

H.W.Beecher - picture from Internet

“When I go to the libraries and ask what are the books that are most drawn out, the information which I receive is not, I am sorry to say, creditable to the character of the young. They do not read histories. They do not read biographies. They do not read travels. They do not read scientific works. There are fifty novels taken out, where there is one solid and substantial work drawn. I have not a word to say against novels. I believe in them. I think that if they are good they are useful. I believe that they are no more to be disallowed than any other part of literature. They can be made to serve the very best kinds of economy, of virtue and morality, to say nothing of religion; but a man who feeds on nothing but these – how miserable and wretched he is! These are the whips and syllabubs of life (cream and froth). They are not the bread nor the meat. They are the confections of life. But ought a man to sit down and eat sugar-plums for his dinner, and nothing but sugar-plums?”
This is such a relevant issue in our home where the stream of Sci-fi books that have been popular lately, can become the total intake, excluding everything else. Eragon and Twilight come to mind.
H.W.Beecher - photo from Internet

Friday, June 12, 2009

The following piece is by William Penn from "Some fruits of Solitude".

I like his short, to the point remarks that reduce Christianity down to the essentials. This is a good example of that ---

"For serving God concerns the frame of our Spirits, in the whole course of our lives; in every occasion we have, in which we may shew our love to his law.

For as men in battle are continually in the way of shot, so we, in this world, are ever within the reach of temptation. And herein do we serve God, if we avoid what we are forbid, as well as do what he commands.
God is better served in resisting a temptation to evil, than in many formal prayers.
This is but twice or thrice a day; but that every hour and moment of the day. So much more is our continual watch, than our morning and evening devotion.

Wouldst thou then serve God? Do not that alone which thou wouldst not that another should see thee do."

Photo from the Internet

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

"A painter once wanted a picture of innocence, and drew from life the likeness of a child at prayer. The little suppliant was kneeling by his mother. The palms of his hands were reverently pressed together, and his mild blue eyes were upturned with the expression of devotion and peace. The portrait was much prized by the painter, who hung it up on his wall, and called it "Innocence."
Years passed away, and the artist became an old man. Still the picture hung there. He had often thought of painting a counterpart, - the picture of guilt, - but had not found the opportunity. At last he effected his purpose by paying a visit to a neighboring jail. On the damp floor of his cell lay a wretched culprit heavily ironed. Wasted was his body, and hollow his eyes; vice was visible in his face. The painter succeeded admirably; and the portraits were hung side by side for "Innocence" and "Guilt."
The two originals of the pictures were discovered to be one and the same person, - first, in the innocence of childhood! second, in the degradation of guilt and sin and evil habits."

This little story from "Pushing to the Front" by Orison Swett Marden comes from his chapter on "Habit". It's a strong reminder for us to build good habits in our children, because, after all, we are creatures of habit.

Picture by Jacqueling Roberts

Saturday, June 06, 2009

One of the first poets I ever read was Walt Mason; he was a popular American poet in the 19th century. Here is what George Ade said about him – “Mason is the high priest of horse sense.” He is the sweet singer of our American Israel. Because he says a thing in his own way, he says it the way the average American would say it, if he could only say it that way. Any one of us may have the thought but to him is given the gift of expression. He whangs a home-made harp and because it is home-made,-- because it voices the true homely, plain, honest-to-God sentiments of the real people in a homely fashion, because it rings with a sweetness, a sanity and a wit that belongs to that old low-combed, red-necked Kansas rooster, in a greater degree than to any other being known to me as a resident upon this planet at the present moment – we love the Harpist and we love the Tune.”

Here is a couple of samples of his poems --

When I have slipped my tether, and left this vale of tears, to see what sort of weather they have in other spheres, I want no costly casket with silver trappings bound; just put me in a basket and chuck me underground. Death would be far more jolly and pleasant every way, but for the idle folly of making big display. It takes a roll unending to make a graveyard spread, and all the fuss and spending don't help the man who's dead. 'Twere best to keep the stivers safe hidden in a tub, to comfort the survivors and buy them duds and grub. I know that it would grind me when on the other shore, if those I left behind me had wolves before the door; if I looked down and found them, immersed in tears and woe, with creditors around them all howling for the dough. So when I up and trundle down to the sunless sea, let no one blow a bundle to pay for planting me. I'll slumber just as sweetly in some old basswood box, as though trussed up completely with silver screws and locks."

Saturday Night, and the week’s work done, and the Old Man home with a bunch of mon!
You see him sit on the cottage porch, and he puffs away at a five-cent torch, while the good wife sings at her evening chores, and the children gambol around outdoors. The Old Man sits on his work-day hat, and he doesn’t envy the plutocrat; his debts are paid and he owns his place, and he’ll look a king in the blooming face; his hands are hard with the brick and loam, but his heart is soft with the love of home! Saturday night, and it’s time for bed! And the kids come in with a buoyant tread; and they hush their noise at the mother’s look, as she slowly opens a heavy book, and reads the tale of the stormy sea, and the voice that quieted Galilee. Then away to bed and the calm repose that only honesty ever knows. Saturday night, and the world is still, and it’s only the erring who finds things ill; there is sweet content and a sweeter rest, where a good heart beats in a brave man’s breast.”

"Consider, that true, sound, solid marks, signs, and evidences, are the best way to prevent delusions. There is no such deceit in sound and solid evidences, as there is in flashy joys, and in high and strange raptures, by which many glistering professors have been sadly deceived and deluded. Young Samuel, being not acquainted with any extraordinary manifestations of the presence and power of God, took the voice of God from heaven to be the voice of old Eli.
Ah! how many have there been in our days, that have taken the irregular motions of their own hearts, and the violent workings of their own distempered fancies, and imaginations, and Satanical delusions, to be the visions of God, celestial raptures, divine breathings, and the powerful impulses of the Spirit of God; and so have been stirred up to speak, write, and act such things that have been, not only contrary to the holy word of God, but also contrary to the very laws of nature, and nations."

Now this piece was written about 1650 by Thomas Brooks. Seems like there have been televangelists since the inception of Christianity. I have seen many winds and ways come and go in the last 40 years. This piece of advice written centuries ago, is as good today as it was then. "Be wise as a serpent...."

Photo from the Internet

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I ran across the following piece by Thomas Brooks and it made my heart well up in consideration of the love and patience of God. He makes such a good point for those that are discouraged and get downtrodden over their failures.

“Fifthly, Get this principle riveted in your hearts, That the lack of such preparations or qualifications that many men lay a great stress upon, shall be no impediment to hinder your soul’s interest in Christ, if you will but open to Christ, and close with Jesus Christ.
Rev. 3:20, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open to me, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.’ Pray tell me, at whose door was this that Christ stood and knocked? Was it not at the Laodicean’s door? Was it not at their door that thought their penny as good silver as any? That said they were rich, and had need of nothing, when Christ tells them to their very faces, ‘that they were poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked.’ None more unprepared, unqualified, and unfitted for union and communion with Christ than these lukewarm Laodiceans; and yet the Lord Jesus is very ready and willing that such should have intimate communion and fellowship with him.
I pray, what qualifications and preparations had they in Ezek. 16, when God saw them in their blood, and yet that was a time of love, and God even then spread his skirt over them, and made a covenant with them, and they became his.
What qualifications or preparations had Paul, Mary Magdalene, Zaccheus, and Lydia, etc? And yet these believed in Christ, these had a blessed and glorious interest in Christ.”

This gracious persistence of Christ to even those in desperate spiritual conditions never ceases to amaze me. This quote also reminded me of a piece Donna, a friend of mine wrote, from the same chapter. Very insightful if you haven't read it --

Revelation 3:15-16
It's interesting how a person can be get indoctrinated and not even know it. For years, I believed that being cold was a bad thing (a sign of lack of love for God and a good sign that I was going to hell) and that God preferred us hot (a sign of passion for Him and opposite of cold) but I want to share with you (for those who were taught as I) a new look at a very fire and brimstone verse.I believe that God was not speaking about the temperature of a soul and it's dedication to God. I believe that God was speaking about how we are supposed to minister to those He brings into our path and how we are to approach preaching the Gospel of the Good News.I find myself hurt by Christians that believe that if someone's eye lusts, that they are the tool to poke out the eye of their neighbor. God was speaking about our own eyes...not the eyes of our neighbors. But this is what comes from the teaching of religion that says we must be hot for God without teaching the balance of the cool liquid .Instead of the Word becoming an instrument of healing, it becomes a drink of condemnation. God drank both the hot and the cold. he only spit out the tepid water/liquid because the properties to cool or warm up the body had been lost. Similar to eating salt that has lost it's saltiness.To the soul that has been chilled by the coldness of this world...a hot liquid that burns and warms his throat will drive the numbness out of his body. To the soul who has lost his way in the desert...his bones turning to dust...the gentleness of a cold liquid brings cooling to his burning insides and brings the temperature down to where he can think again.There must always be a balance in whatever we do in the Name of God and a true Love for more than just "saving the soul" of the person God has put in our path. Our goal is to drive out Satan and his kingdom and cause him pain...not the person we are bringing out of bondage.

Picture from the Internet

Monday, June 01, 2009

A Fortune in Good Manners

"When Ezekiel Whitman, a prominent lawyer, and graduate of Harvard, was elected to the Massachusetts legislature, he came to Boston from his farm in countryman’s dress, and went to a hotel in Boston. He entered the parlor and sat down, when he overheard the remark between some ladies and gentlemen:
“Ah, here comes a real homespun countryman. Here’s fun.” They asked him all sorts of queer questions, tending to throw ridicule upon him, when he arose and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, permit me to wish you health and happiness, and may you grow better and wiser in advancing years, bearing in mind that outward appearances are deceitful. You mistook me, from my dress, for a country booby; while I, from the same superficial cause, thought you were ladies and gentlemen.
The mistake has been mutual.” Just then Governor Caleb Strong entered and called to Mr. Whitman, who, turning to the dumbfounded company, said: “I wish you a very good evening.”
I like little random stories like this, hope you do as well.
It caused me to linger over the picture I chose and try and see more than what first struck me.
Orison Swett Marden - Photo by Manuel Libres Librodo Jr.
Foes to success

"Over-sensitiveness, whether in man or women, is really an exaggerated form of self-consciousness. It is far removed from conceit or self-esteem, yet it causes one’s personality to overshadow everything else. A sensitive person feels that, whatever he does, wherever he goes, or whatever he says, he is the center of observation. He imagines that people are criticizing his movements, making fun at his expense, or analyzing his character, when they are probably not thinking of him at all. He does not realize that other people are too busy and too much interested in themselves and other things to devote to him any of their time beyond what is absolutely necessary. When he thinks they are aiming remarks at him, putting slights upon him, or trying to hold him up to the ridicule of others, they may not be even conscious of his presence."

This piece by Orison Swett Marden is just a snippet from his chapter on Foes to Success, things that hold us back. When I was young I was very bashful, to the point I would cry bloody murder if someone just wanted to take my picture. When I was older and got into business I was forced to talk with strangers and eventually I overcame shyness. But I still find a degree of discomfort when I enter a room full of strangers. I have learned how crippling self-conciousness can be to some; but I find his assessment above is generally true. Most people are far to self absorbed to spend time considering others.

Photo by Sergio Passolano