Saturday, October 31, 2009

The following quote by Joseph Joubert I read in an essay by Matthew Arnold. In general the reading is way above my pay grade but this quote struck me. I'm around a lot of new Christians as well as older, dogmatic Christians, the kind that have "wings but no feet"; so this quote, though admittedly by a liberal Christian mind, made me pause to think.
Now I chose this picture of the colorful woman because I see in her face a look of "show me".
I presume she has been around and has heard many great swelling words and arguments of religion, and possibly they have left her unchanged. But when one "makes truth lovely", like in the bottom picture, even the hardest of hearts, those most fond of "picking holes", cannot refute the Christian gem of love.

“May I say it? It is not hard to know God, provided one will not force oneself to define Him.

“Do not bring into the domain of reasoning that which belongs to our innermost feeling. State truths of sentiment, and do not try to prove them. There is a danger in such proofs; for in arguing it is necessary to treat that which is in question as something problematic: now that which we accustom ourselves to treat as problematic ends by appearing to us as really doubtful. In things that are visible and palpable, never prove what is believed already; in things that are certain and mysterious- mysterious by their greatness and by their nature – make people believe them, and do not prove them; in things that are matters of practice and duty, command and do not explain. ‘Fear God,’ has made many men pious; the proofs of the existence of God have made many men atheists. From the defense springs the attack; the advocate begets in his hearer a wish to pick holes; and men are almost always led on, from the desire to contradict the doctor, to the desire to contradict the doctrine. Make truth lovely, and do not try to arm her; mankind will then be far less inclined to contend with her.” Joseph Joubert.

Top photo by Lawrence Paiken, bottom photo by Taci Yuksel.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

While reading a chapter on the Holy Spirit by Beecher, I ran across this paragraph. Needless to say with a center housing thirty men I found it fascinating and so relevant.

“We are so made that our first experience of excitement comes from physical or material excitements. Food, drink, heat, cold, agents of various kinds, on being applied to the body, or taken within it, develop nervous excitement. This nervous excitement goes on past mere sensational excitement, and becomes an excitement of the brain – of its passions, its reason and its affections. It is the lowest form of excitement. We very soon become familiar with the fact that men may be excited by other than mere physical stimuli. When men come to live with one another, they are excited. They are stimulated by each other’s presence. We may call it “mesmerism,” or “magnetism,” or whatever we choose; but one thing is certain, that men excite each other in a general way. We know that men are powerfully excited by the affections which they exercise, and by the evidences of reason, and by reasoning’s. In other words, while we begin life under the influence of mere physical stimulants, we soon rise to a point where excitements are social and moral. They are not physical stimulants applied to a physical body, but they are invisible moral influences which act as excitements and wake up the mind and affections.”

Photo from the Internet

I am touched by many of the guys at the center. Each man is unique and God speaks through them to me; and I hope in return God speaks through me in return. I believe He does. Of late there is one of the students, Dave that has captured my heart. To look at him, he’s a rough cut; no question if a conflict were to arise I would want him on my side. In some ways he reminds me of my son Richard who is blessed genetically with a large and unusually strong frame.

Dave has the prison tattoo of a tear under his eye, knuckles are scarred many times, and he explains matter of factly that these scars are the reality of prison life. Dave was the child of a broken home; his mother is Mexican his father is white. They lived in California when he was a baby where his father’s neglect and abuse applied through the haze of alcoholism broke the marriage up and Dave and his mother left to Mexico where Dave grew up. His mother hooked up with a man soon after whose business was growing marijuana in the hills of Mexico. Dave climbed the hills and began working in the family business farming pot at age six. He knew nothing of laws or dangers; he was a six year old child doing what his parents told him. Needless to say he continued the family tradition and this led him to drug dealing and trafficking which led to his repeated jail and prison terms. But this is where Christ got a hold of Dave and began his restoration. There were many relapses; and on Dave’s brow there is a reminder of one of the slips. He backslid and got into another drug deal and this time as he had his back turned, one of his “friends” pulled a gun and aimed it at the back of his head just at that time Dave turned around, the man discharged the gun and it hit Dave in the forehead, but because of the turn it glanced off, he shouted at the man, “Dude, you just shot me!”, and he returned fire and hit the guy in the butt. Such is the world Dave has been saved from and the stories are endless but what has captured my heart is the depth of Dave’s faith. Unlike so many, Dave truly listens to the Lord and he has a sharp mind and a deep faith at this time of his life and he strikes me as absolutely fearless. He fears not man nor circumstances and walks with such a self-assuredness clothed in a meek spirit that I find myself continually inspired and humbled. I’ll give you just one recent example; I was selling some furniture to two men obviously stoned, they wreaked with Pot, and what else one could only guess. They were in a good mood, we talked and teased and they bought. They asked me about some items that we had in stock way too long, so I gave them a generous discount and all was bliss, they were happy, money was flowing, all good. Now my lead man had a look of disgust and told me he’s sure they are drug dealers and wasted no Christian love on them. I’m sure he’s right but it went well.

The next day however, they returned to pick up a few more items and they weren’t in such a jolly mood, they expected a big discount on a bed they wanted to buy, and when I didn’t oblige they showed their less benevolent side. I could tell this may unravel so I stood firm explained my allegiance to the guys in the program and explained I can only discount on items that have been in the store 90 days or so. I salvaged the situation and we wrapped up the sale. But I could see the side of them my lead man had warned me about the night before. Now they wanted it all delivered and Dave is my delivery man along with another student. I was thankful it was Dave because I had no fear of sending him to these guys house, after all he is bulletproof. I talked with Dave and described the guys to him and warned him to keep it simple, be extra careful with the furniture because if they put a nick on it the whole thing will become a wrestling match over devaluation and it will likely all come back for a refund. This would not be a stretch. What next happened caught me by complete surprise; Dave was eager to meet these drug dealers and couldn’t wait to talk with them and hoped this was a ministry opportunity. He explained how he went downtown to witness to drug dealers and the Lord has used him to offer hope to many, and he was itching to see these guys to see what God would unfold.

Neither fear or anxiety entered his mind; he was off on a mission. He called them to let them know he was on his way and he spoke to them like long lost friends. They told him their car had broke down and asked him if he could give them a jump start. Oh no, my fears were about to unfold; I knew this was going to get screwed up and here was the first step. Before I shared my anxiety with Dave he gets a gleam in his eye and says,” Wow, we get an opportunity to do a good deed for them, the Lord is already preparing the ground.”

Here I had been filled with anxiety, worried this would end up in some big problem, or shouting match or scene of some kind; which I might add would not be the first I've seen of this kind while at the center; but Dave said, “Let’s huddle and pray that Christ will give me a word for these guys”. I sheepishly joined in the prayer trying to hide my lack of faith, but I couldn't hide the encouragement that Dave inspired me with. Here was a drug dealer that had been soundly saved by Christ and his heart burned to speak with other drug dealers and left in full anticipation of a blessing while I stood humbled in unbelief.

I left that evening before he returned, and I must say it wouldn't surprise me if we have two new drug dealers joining the program in the morning.

Dave is in the truck in the picture, the other man is Jay, who was a Professional bull rider.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I have been reading a little Henry Ward Beecher and I ran across this piece on "fear". His description is about as thorough as any I've ever read. The chapter is on the comfort of God, but this part of it simply describes one of the emotions where we need comfort.

“This view of comfort which is contained in our text, (2 Thess. 2:16,17) may be carried out in many particulars. Christian life is ordained to comfort us in our struggles, for instance, with fear. “Fear hath torment.” It is a tormentor. It haunts men, night and day.

Great fears may come seldom; but the poison emery, the dust of fear, comes in, as it were, at every crevice, and settles down upon every fair thing in life. There are innumerable petty fears. There are ten thousand little hauntings. How full is life of fear which takes away from men the enjoyment of their prosperity! Fear stands by the cradle, and threatens the mother; and all her love and thankfulness cannot make her happy while fear scowls and threatens. The specter of fear hovers between lovers, and they dread and suffer. It shoots like a meteor along the twilight meditations of evening. It hides the sun at noonday with clouds. It threatens health with sickness and sickness with death, and death with numberless terrors. Cares are the offspring of fear. They sting like noxious insects in tropical nights. Fear discourages poverty. It takes ease away from riches. It is the persecutor of ambition. It is the parasite of conscience. It plants upon conscience its own evil growth, until sometimes conscience is but an inquisitor, with a whip of scorpions. Fear perpetually exaggerates. It is always changing, and coming up in new forms, and always dread forms. It is full of illusions. All the way through it is undermining, undermining, the joys and hopes of life. And all this, too, in the realm where Christ has been revealed. Go from house to house and mark down how large a play there is of fear; how much of motive is fear; how largely men work for fear of more suffering than they choose to have. And see how men are restrained by fear, standing in the place of conscience. See how fear is like broken glass, every particle of which cuts the foot that treads on it. How is fear the destroyer of men’s peace, perpetually rasping them, and beating them with small whips, or large ones; as the case may be. One would think that the name of God who governs this world was Fear.

Right over against the gloomy face of fear stands the Lord Jesus Christ, and these words of ineffable cheer: “Our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, hath given us everlasting consolation, and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts!” That is just what hearts that are sick want – comfort; and they have it in Christ Jesus, and in the fatherhood of God, and nowhere else, in such measure, or with such pertinency of application”.

Photo from the Internet

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"I asked the rock beside the road what joy existence lent,
It answered, "For a million years my heart has been content;"
I asked an angel, looking down on earth with gaze intent,
How man should rise to larger growth. Quoth he: "Through discontent."

Inspired Words For The Inspired Life - Photo by Rauly Sonia
"They never taste who always drink;
They always talk who never think."
Matthew Prior
Don't you just love this picture? You must enlarge it just to gaze at it. When I ran across it I hoped that I could find a great quote to go with it but for some time now I haven't found one and I just want to share this photo by A. Read titled, "Dream of sleep".
I have a book titled "The New Dictionary of Thoughts", so I looked up the word dream to see if there was anything that struck my fancy. I ran across this quote which I think is very interesting --

"We have in dreams no true perception of time - a strange property of mind! -- for if such be also its property when entered into the eternal disembodied state, time will appear to us eternity!" Winslow.

Now I never considered that in my dreams there is no perception of time but it is true, and somehow I find that so interesting.

How to concentrate and expedite

I ran across the following list of 9 tips to truly help one become more productive. If it weren't for these principles at work I would be lost in a sea of distractions. I think by the time I was 50 I became pretty good at applying these, so simple but so important.

1. Cut out non-essentials. 2. Don't hesitate; when done with one thing begin on the next.
3. Do the nearest, and, other things being equal, the hardest things first. 4. Finish one job before beginning the next, and don't pause between. 5. Do your thinking while you are acting. 6. If you have assistants use them, and do yourself what they can't do. Then help them out. 7. Do things right the first time, so as not to have to do them twice. 8. Don't look out the window, but keep thought and eye on the thing you are doing. 9. If a thing is important don't put it off; do it now while you think of it.

Author unknown - Photo by Jose A Gallego

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I ran across this little saying by Alice Cary, and thought it is a nice verse for children to memorize; adults too.

"Kind hearts are the garden, kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the blossoms, kind deeds are the fruits."

Photo by Margret Woodall - Shark.
I've been re-reading from Isaac Watt's book "The Improvement of the Mind," which is just filled with good suggestions on discoursing with people, especially those with whom you differ. This little piece is so practical --

"As you should carry about with you a constant and sincere sense of your own ignorance, by taking all proper opportunities to ask and inquire for farther information; whether it be the meaning of a word, the nature of a thing, the reason of a proposition, the custom of a nation, etc., never remain in ignorance for want of asking.
Many a person had arrived at some considerable degree of knowledge, if he had not been full of self-conceit, and imagined that he had known enough already, or else was ashamed to let others know that he was unacquainted with it. God and man are ready to teach the meek, the humble, and the ignorant; but he that fancies himself to know any particular subject well, or that will not venture to ask a question about it, such an one will not put himself into the way of improvement by inquiry and diligence. "A fool may be wiser in his own conceit than ten men who can render a reason," and such a one is very likely to be an everlasting fool; and perhaps also it is a silly shame renders his folly incurable.
"If fools have ulcers, and their pride conceal 'em;
They must have ulcers still, for none can heal 'em."

Photo by A. Small