Sunday, September 27, 2009

I ran across this poem about freedom from generational curses by E.W.Wilcox, and I just love it. It kind of goes along with the post below about removing the tree roots and all.

I care not who were vicious back of me,
No shadow of their sins on me is shed.
My will is greater than heredity,
I am no worm to feed upon the dead.

My face, my form, my gestures, and my voice
May be reflections from a race that was,
But this I know, and knowing, I rejoice:
I am myself a part of the Great Cause.

I am a spirit! Spirit would suffice
If rightly used to set a chained world free,
Am I not stronger than a mortal vice
That crawls the length of some ancestral tree?

Statue from the Internet

I watched a movie titled “Sometimes in April”. It was a moving show about Rwanda and the struggles and plight of the Tutsi during the 1994 genocide.

It haunted me in worship today as I longed to see an end to the madness and oppression of man against man. For the most part the world watched as nearly one million people were murdered in Rwanda, and at the very beginning of the movie they displayed the following quote –

” In the end, we will remember not

the words of our enemies

but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King Jr.

As we sang about the glory of God and His power over the whole earth I just couldn't reconcile what I witnessed the night before with the songs I was singing.

How can we be more effective in stopping the horrors in our world, why don’t we care more?

As I sat in church my eyes landed on a passage from Mark 8 verses 22 -25 and I saw it in a different light, and I’m sure it is not theologically correct but it helped me understand our blindness a little better.

“And the disciples brought a blind man to Jesus and entreated Him to touch him.And taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes, and laying His hands upon him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?”And he looked up and said, “I see men, for I am seeing them like trees walking about.”

Then again He laid His hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly.”

I wondered about the method that Jesus used to heal this man’s sight, and it is a stretch, but I could see the eyes of Jesus begin to well up with compassion and those tears, some of which ran down his face and some entering his mouth by way of his tear ducts, and he placed his finger on His tongue and applied them to the man’s eyes where his vision began to be restored, but incompletely; he saw men as trees. I thought that this is where my problem lies, I see and hear of the needs of the world but because I remain distant and uninvolved, they are not clear enough to move me to action. But Jesus repeated the process and the man saw clearly. This reminded me of growth in God’s grace where we begin our walk with Christ largely self-centered, but with more anointing we begin to see the needs of others through His eyes and His anguish which leads us to action.

Picture from the Internet

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I was talking to one of the guys in the program the other day and he was explaining why he came to Teen Challenge and not some other drug rehab. program. His answer was that all the other programs he inquired into presented drug addiction as a disease that can be overcome but will be with him forever. When he talked to them at Teen Challenge they spoke of being set free from addiction in Christ and that it was a choice we make and there is hope of total recovery. That message of hope struck him so deeply he immediately chose Teen Challenge.

It reminded me of the words of Christ – “If you had faith like a mustard see you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.” The tree is not cut down, but it is pulled up roots and all; this was the hope this young man saw. Bless God forever.

Photo from the Internet

".... But we have a Shepherd full of care, full of kindness, full of power, who has said, " I will seek that which was lost, and bind up that which was broken, and bring again that which was driven away, and will strengthen that which was sick."
How tender are these expressions, and how well fulfilled! His sheep feed in the midst of wolves, yet are preserved safe; for though they see Him not, His eyes and His heart are upon them. Do we wonder that Daniel was preserved in the lion's den? Why, it is a common case. Which of God's children have not cause to say, "My soul is among lions"? But the Angel of the covenant stops their mouths, or only permits them to gape and roar, to show their teeth, and what they would do, if they might; but they may not; they shall not bite and tear us at their own will.
Let us trust Him, and all shall be well."

I want to add something to this but because it is a common case to be among lions I'll just say amen and thank you Lord.

John Newton - Awesome photo by James Pan

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Wesley's inspiration was a belief that no human being lived on earth, so base, so stupid, so worldly, so utterly corrupt and worthless, but that if could believe it, God was ready to kindle in his soul a fire of love which would wholly consume his evil."

Mmmm, here in lies our hope!!!!!

Photo by Michael Menekis
One of my granddaughters was telling me about a foreign exchange student from Denmark she has befriended and took to church last night; she could tell the friend was uncomfortable and later her friend commented it was "too religious" for her. My granddaughter was disappointed and was considering how to beautify religion for her new friend. The two following quotes I ran across address the situation as clearly as anything that comes to mind.

"Jennie, the working girl, brings to me
Hope and trust and a gentler grace,
Though her words are few and her manner shy,
I can read a sermon in her sweet face;
For Jennie, the working girl, makes it plain,
That to live for others is richest gain."

"To be full of goodness, cheerfulness, sympathy, and of helpful hope, causes one to move on human life as stars move on dark seas to bewildered mariners. - author unknown

So we concluded the discussion by simply agreeing that if she will just be herself and live out her faith freely, and speak her words sparingly, her impact on her new friend may well be the sermon that wins her heart.

Poem Jennie by Harriet F. Crocker - top photo by Anna Pagnacco, bottom photo by Sune Wenelboe.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I've been reading a little from St Francois De Sales and I really like the two following paragraphs.

"Everything St. Francois said, even the most casual word, to all his pupils, was aimed, by his extremely subtle approach, at eliminating all traces of fear and anguish. That is why gentleness was his keynote. Scarcely had he spoken to anyone before he knew their temperament and disposition and natural traits. He also had the ability to conform all that he had to say to the capacity and capability of the listener so that everybody, from a simple maid to a Jesuit theologian, from an unassuming widow to an argumentative Calvinist, could understand him. He served one kind of meat to the strong and another to the weak; he used one language for the extrovert, and another to the introvert........

Is not the real challenge of the spiritual guide to know the place where the person he is guiding happens to be - physically, intellectually and spiritually? So many spiritual directors write or speak from a point of view which is rigidly fixed on a particular path which they themselves have traveled. Even though they may be well advanced they frequently speak in light of some condition which they alone have experienced and often without realizing that others are not at their stage, and perhaps not even meant to experience what they have experienced, or might not ever be destined to travel the same way".

I just love the last paragraph! So often I have heard people speak without taking time to listen to the hearer, almost as though they have a one size fits all gospel. Often I recall Jesus asking a question to people that inquired of Him; "do you want to be healed?", "what does the scripture say," are just examples of Christ seeking the underlying issues. We have the gospel presented to us by four authors, each to a different audience; Jews, Romans, Greeks, Gentiles. I think this is further example of changing methods to differing people.

Photo by Tom White

Here is another section that I thought was especially good from St. Francois De Sales.

"Our dear Father (writes Camus) had a great respect for the old imperial motto - Make haste slowly; as also for the saying, "Soon enough, if well enough." His favorite words were "Little but good," and he continually warned people against supposing that perfection is to be found in a multiplicity of religious exercises, whether internal or external. If one questioned this as contrary to that insatiable love of which the masters of the spiritual life tell us -- a love which never says "enough", which never counts itself to have attained, but is ever reaching forward to greater heights, he would reply: "You must grow in this love by means of the root rather than the branches": explaining himself to mean that a multitude of spiritual exercises, imperfectly done, often superfluous, or not to the purpose, resemble the useless tendrils of a vine, which must be pruned away if it is to bear good grapes; whereas the real life or root is nourished and strengthened by a few good works very carefully performed; that is to say, done in a spirit of very fervent love of God, wherein all true Christian perfection consists."

"a very few good works carefully performed," this verse stuck out to me because it is easy to be influenced to become involved in many things when we really have barely enough time to do the necessities well. We each have spiritual gifts where we can devote ourselves to God in this 'carefully performed way'; but if we get our plate too full then we lose what we had and gain nothing.

Photo from the internet

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"In a word, let us endeavor to keep close to God, to be much in prayer, to watch carefully over our hearts, and leave the busy warm spirits to make the best of their work. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him and wait on Him continually; to these He will show His covenant, not notionally, but experimentally. A few minutes of the Spirit's teaching will furnish us with more real useful knowledge than toiling through whole folios of commentators and expositors; they are useful in their places and are not to be undervalued by those who can perhaps, in general, do better without them; but it will be our wisdom to deal less with the streams and be more close in applying to the Fountainhead. The Scripture itself and the Spirit of God, are the best and the only sufficient expositors of Scripture. Whatever men have valuable in their writings, they got it from hence; and the way is as open to us as to any of them."

Don't you just love that? The Lord can take one line from the Bible or one comment from a sermon and shed His light on it making it stand out as though written exclusively for us, at that very moment. Oh for more light!

John Newton - Photo by Sheri Doty
I've posted quotes on this topic many times but it always speaks to me and as I work with many young Christians and from the mouth of these babes I find a great source of inspiration.
None are theologians, none have in depth Bible knowledge, but what they do have is a simple faith burning within them; a great hope they see in Christ, and it is contagious.

"High speculations are as barren as the tops of cedars; but the fundamentals of Christianity are fruitful as the valleys or the creeping vine. For know, that it is no mediation, but it may be an illusion, when you consider mysteries to become more learned, without thoughts of improving piety.... It was a saying of Aegidius, " that an old and a simple woman, if she loves Jesus, may be greater than was brother Bonaventure."
Lack of learning and disability to consider great secrets of theology, do not at all retard our progress to spiritual perfections."

Jeremy Taylor - photo from the Internet

Monday, September 07, 2009

The following picture is very graphic and I always get a twinge when I post things like this; but I end up considering that this is the world we live in and this woman is living it, so I think we can deal with looking at it. Her story is posted below and sadly it is one of countless stories that go on in our world. These photos tell us why we serve Christ, preach His message of peace, why we go to the mission field, why we work for justice and seek to overcome oppression wherever it is found. Lord Jesus, give us courage to do battle, because the enemy seems to rage on at every opportunity.

On August 26th 2009, Burma Army troops and soldiers of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) shot and severely wounded Ma Kin Kyi, 34, a woman from Htee Pa Doh village in Thaton District, west central Karen State. According to our local FBR relief team, the troops, from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 214 and DKBA 333 Brigade surrounded the house in which Ma Kin Kyi was staying and fired into it, severely injuring her in the neck, jaw and mouth. According to the team, Ma Kin Kyi, who has a 2 month old baby, is not likely to survive this injury because she is unable to drink or eat. The team reported that the troops entered the village and suspected that the house in which Ma Kin Kyi was staying contained soldiers from the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). The FBR team is now in the area, giving Ma Kin Kyi emergency medical treatment and trying to help her survive as best as they can and will continue to report on the situation.

Post by Free Burma Rangers, courageous, love filled people supporting those in war torn Burma.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Going away

It is in the little things I'll miss,
Far lights upon the hill
That I can see here from my door,
The flowers on the sill.

Nasturtiums that are blooming bright,
I shall remember them
And vision them as they blow now
Entangling stem on stem.

The wind as it comes through the pines
Far from across the plain;
The sound upon my low tin roof
of softly echoed rain.

My heart will find new scenes, but oh,
It will come back to these
In many quiet times and seek
Known paths, old dreams, loved trees.
---George Elliston

Last Gift

Serene in his narrow coffin
The little Father lay.
The church was hushed for a moment;
Then a great throng knelt to pray.

Grave priests and censer-bearers
In the chancel softly trod,
While music and the incense
Rose like a flower to God.

All at once, along the transept,
A little figure sped,
Laid something on the casket,
And then, in a panic, fled.

There on the sombre velvet
Lay an offering, not planned --
A bunch of dandelions,
Warm from the little hand.

A kind priest found the youngster,
Who raised his hanging head.
"He was good to my sick Mamma,
And prayed when she died." he said.

--Charles Ballard -photo by Taci Yuksel

I never tire of this gospel story, and I especially like Jeremy Taylor's presentation.
"When Jesus had ended his sermon, one of the pharisees named Simon invited Him to "eat with him"; into whose house when He entered, a certain "woman that was a sinner," abiding there in the city, heard of it; her name was Mary: she had been married to a noble personage, a native of the town and castle of Magdal, from whence she had her name of Magdalen, though she herself was born in Bethany; a widow she was, and prompted by her wealth, liberty, and youth, to an intemperate life, and too free entertainments. She came to Jesus into the Pharisee's house: not, as did the staring multitude, to glut her eyes with the sight of a miraculous and glorious person; nor, as did the centurion, or the Syrophoenician, or the ruler of the synagogue, for cure of her sickness, or in behalf of her friend, or child, or servant; but (the only example of so coming) she came in remorse and regret for her sins, she came to Jesus to lay her burden at His feet, and to present Him with a broken heart, and a weeping eye, and great affection, and a box of nard pistic, salutary and precious. For she came trembling, and fell down before Him, weeping bitterly for her sins, pouring out a flood great enough to "wash the feet" of the blessed Jesus, and "wiping them with the hairs of her head"; after which she "brake the box," and "anointed His feet with ointment." Which expression was so great an ecstasy of love, sorrow, and adoration, that to anoint the feet even of the greatest monarch was long unknown....."
Sculpture by Antonio Canova