Saturday, December 29, 2012

Holi Festival

I ran across this photo on the National Geographic web-site. Taken by Kalpana Chatterjee during the Holi Festival in India. Such color and textures!

Friday, December 28, 2012


  The following essay is on happiness by William Lyon Phelps. I think he makes a lot of good points and because we are all interested in achieving more happiness, I took the liberty to write a somewhat lengthy piece. Phelps is a Christian author and I'm reading his book titled "Human nature and the Gospels," This pieced comes from Lillian W. Watson's book, "Light from many lamps."

 "Real happiness is not dependent on external things, he taught his students. The pond is fed from within. The kind of happiness that stays with you is the happiness that springs from inward thoughts and emotions. You must think of this now, while you are young. You must cultivate your mind if you wish to achieve enduring happiness. You must furnish your mind with interesting thoughts and ideas. An empty mind seeks pleasure as a substitute for happiness. 

 The happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts.

  This definition places happiness where it belongs -- within and not without. The principle of happiness should be like the principle of virtue: it should not be dependent on things, but be a part of personality.....
  If the happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts we are bound to grow happier as we advance in years, because our minds have more and more interesting thoughts. A well ordered life is like climbing a tower; the view halfway up is better than the view from the base, and it steadily becomes finer as the horizon expands. 
  Herein lies the real value of education. Advanced education may or may not make men and women more efficient; but it enriches personality, increases the wealth of the mind, and hence brings happiness. It is the finest insurance against old age, against the growth of physical disability, against the lack and loss of animal delights. No matter how many there may be in our family, no matter how many friends we may have, we are in a certain sense forced to lead a lonely life, because we have all the days of existence to live with ourselves. How essential it is, then, in youth to acquire some intellectual or artistic tastes, in order to furnish the mind, to be able to live inside a mind with attractive and interesting pictures on the walls."

  In this practical piece he neglects the spiritual without which we can have all knowledge and still have no happiness or peace. I believe a clear conscience and a life of holiness and joyful service to Christ will bring a level of joy no earthly thoughts will ever attain. That being said, life needs balance and the more we expand and think on the noble, true, lovely, admirable or anything excellent or praiseworthy the greater happiness we attain. Now I dropped out of High School in my senior year and 'sought pleasure as a source of happiness' until I came to Christ; once I became a Christian and began to study the Bible I began the joy of learning and found all of life: people, nature, beauty, the arts were all enhanced by my spiritual walk. The "narrow way" broadens all the senses and as I self-taught myself I find this essay resonates with my experience.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cockle Skiff

The following allegory by Thomas Carlyle, written to encourage us as we face similar foes as Christopher Columbus; be it in the work place, our ministry or home; although a difficult read the first time through, is well worth the time. I can't remember reading anything quite as encouraging and well written. I'm sure my sons will identify with each line.

  "Brave Sea-captain, Norse Sea-king – Columbus, my hero, royalist Sea-king of all! It is no friendly environment this of thine, in the waste deep waters; around thee mutinous discouraged souls, behind thee disgrace and ruin, before thee the unpenetrated veil of night. Brother, these wild water-mountains, bounding from their deep bases are not entirely there on thy behalf! Meseems they have other work than floating thee forward: - and the huge Winds that sweep from Ursa Major to the Tropics and Equators, dancing their giant waltz through the kingdoms of Chaos and Immensity, they care little about filling rightly or filling wrongly the small shoulder-of-mutton sails in this cockle skiff of thine! Thou art not among articulate speaking friends, my brother; thou art among immeasurable dumb monsters, tumbling, howling wide as the world here. Secret, far off, invisible to all hearts but thine, there lies a help in them: see how thou wilt get at that. Patiently thou wilt wait till the mad South-wester spend itself, saving thyself by dexterous science of defense the while; valiantly, with swift decision, wilt thou strike in, when the favoring East, the Possible, springs up. Mutiny of men thou wilt sternly repress; weakness, despondency, thou wilt cheerily encourage; thou wilt swallow down complaint, unreason, weariness, weakness of others and thyself; - how much wilt thou swallow down! There shall be a depth of Silence in thee, deeper than this Sea, which is but ten miles deep; a Silence unsoundable; known to God only. Thou shalt be a great Man. Yes, my World Soldier, thou of the world Marine-Service – thou wilt have to be greater than this tumultuous unmeasured World here round thee is: thou, in thy strong soul, as with wrestler’s arms, shalt embrace it, harness it down; and make it bear thee on – to new Americas, or whither God wills!"

Monday, December 17, 2012


  I ran across this piece on the benefits of labor and couldn't agree more. Teaching the men at Teen Challenge to value work, many of whom have never done an honest days work in their lives, is a hard sell. Carlyle is so eloquent in this presentation I just love it. 

  Consider how, even in the meanest sorts of Labor, the whole soul of a man is composed into a kind of real harmony, the instant he sets himself to work! Doubt, Desire, Sorrow, Remorse, Indignation, Despair itself, all these like hell-dogs lie beleaguering the soul of the poor day-worker, as of every man; but as he bends himself with free valor against his task, all these are stilled, all these shrink murmuring afar off into their caves. The man is now a man. The blessed glow of Labor in him, is it not a purifying fire, wherein all poison is burnt up, and of sour smoke itself there is made bright blessed flame?
Thomas Carlyle

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sandy Hook

  In wake of the madness at Sandy Hook Elementary School I have no words to describe such horror. The only thoughts that can even begin to offer hope are those penned by Samuel Rutherford three hundred years ago to a dear friend who lost a child..........

  But what! do you think her lost, when she is but sleeping in the bosom of the Almighty? Think her not absent who is in such a friend's house. Is she lost to you who is found to Christ? If she were with a dear friend, although you should never see her again, your care for her would be but small. Oh now, is she not with a dear friend, and gone higher, upon a certain hope that you shall in the resurrection see her again...........

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


  I found online "Fenelon's Treatise on the education of Daughters." The sensitivity and warmth of his letters to adults has always captured and inspired me, so I was eager to read this book on educating girls. It is amazing how relevant it is to today although written in the sixteen hundreds.

  “We should consider that children have a tender intellect, that their age makes them susceptible chiefly of pleasure, and that we often expect from them a correctness and seriousness of deportment, which their instructors are sometimes incapable of evincing.
 A very dangerous impression of ennui (a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from lack of interest or boredom) and sadness is produced on their mind by perpetually talking to them of words and things which they do not understand: no liberty, no amusement! always lesson, silence, constraint, correction, and threats!

  Our ancient forefathers knew better. It was by the charm of verses and music that the Hebrews, Egyptians and Greeks, introduced the principal sciences, the maxims of virtue, and the politeness of manners.

  So, let us unite the agreeable and the useful together, as much as lay in our power.  ”  

Sunday, December 02, 2012


  "Among home amusements the best is the good old habit of conversation, the talking over the events of the day, in bright and quick play of wit and fancy, the story which brings the laugh, and the speaking the good and kind and true things, which all have in their hearts.
 It is not so much by dwelling upon what members of the family have in common, as bringing each to the other something interesting and amusing, that home life is to be made cheerful and joyous.
 Each one must do his part to make conversation genial and happy. Parents should be careful to talk with their children, to enter into their life, to share their trifles, to assist in their studies, to meet them in the thoughts and feelings of their childhood.
  The time spent by parents, in the higher entertainment of their children, bears a harvest of eternal blessings, and these long evenings furnish just the time. Churchman.

 I read that in a book of mine called, "Mother, Home and Heaven." Wish I had been better at that, and in this generation of electronics it will take a concerted effort to make it happen.


  I arrived at the nursing home early today and sat down at a table with Lewis, a young man of 74. I’ve known him for six years and he is a very amiable Christian man, currently attending the Catholic Church, which he began about 3 years ago. He has been a Christian his entire life and I’m not sure why he departed from his life-long protestant denomination. He has told me he loves the sacred presentation and feels comfortable there. That satisfied me and I’ve never questioned further. While we were talking the activities director rolled up a woman I hadn’t met named Peggy. She is 82, but with skin of someone much younger. At first I thought she was suffering with dementia because she seemed to ramble but when I asked her questions about her past she was pleased to tell us many things in complete lucidity. Some minutes later Joyce rolled up, a sweet Christian woman I have known for about a year. In conversation with the four of us Joyce revealed she had been married 65 years. I was shocked, I judged she was in her seventies but she was actually a very young eighty five year old.

The four of us talked for 15 minutes or so and the activities director rolled up another woman to our table. Now this woman appeared very young, my guess was in her thirties. It turned out she is roommates with Peggy. She was very attractive and had stunning eyes. She had lost all of her teeth, which was betrayed by her continual smiling and sweet, though labored conversation.
I learned later she has M.S. but she still has mobility in her upper body, though with the loss of all grace.
I was immediately drawn to her display of courage, openness and cheerfulness. It is always moving to see someone so young with such a great affliction. She is a beautiful young lady of 35 from Ukraine named Svetlana. She attended the Pentecostal church and was eager for church to begin. Compassion began to gush and I held her hands, which she was greedy to reciprocate. It is a common thing for the lonely to be starved for human touch. It’s a wonderful thing that so much can be communicated through the simple touching of hands. We began the service and I was taken with so much emotion towards Svetlana I had to fight back tears. I wanted to just cradle her and tell her how much Jesus loves her but as she sang with such rapture I could see she was deep in one of Christ’s sweet embraces.
When the service was over Peggy asked if I would push her back to her room and just at that time the activities director came and offered to push her. I asked Svetlana if she would like a push as well and she said yes. I was happy to get to spend a few more minutes with her just to spill over her some of the love Christ was giving me for her. We arrived at their room and we backed them in side by side and I said a few parting words and reached for Svetlana’s hands to squeeze them goodbye; when I did she drew me to her in a hug and labored clumsily to kiss my cheek. I knew at that moment that she sensed the love of God outpouring in me and had hoped in some way to share. God made it happen.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

  "Almost all who aim at serving God do so more or less for their own sake. They want to win, not to lose; to be comforted, not to suffer; to possess, not to be despoiled; to increase, not to diminish. 
Yet all the while our whole interior progress consists in losing, sacrificing, decreasing, humbling, and stripping self even of God's own gifts, so as to be more wholly His. We are often like an invalid who feels his pulse fifty times a day, and wants the doctor to be perpetually ordering some fresh treatment, or telling him how much better he is. This is very much all the use that some people make of their spiritual director or pastor. They move round and round in a petty circle of easy virtues, never stepping beyond it heartily and generously; while the director (like the physician) is expected to soothe, comfort, encourage, foster delicacy and fastidiousness, only ordering little sedative treatments, which drop into mere habit and routine." Fenelon

Ouch! "easy virtues", and "only ordering little sedative treatments, which drop into mere habit and routine." These "treatments" will never do to usher God's kingdom into the world. Our world requires more from me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Model Church

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 meetin’-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 that 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 melo-
dious choir,
And sang as in my youthful days, “Let angels pros-
trate 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 wrecked 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 lightnin’ of his eye
went flashin’ along from pew to pew, not 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 ways 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 to-

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 when the weary weep no
more.                                             John H. Yates