Monday, May 30, 2016

  Growth in life should be the norm; as Emerson suggests that, "the man of today should scarcely recognize the man of yesterday. But to most of us, we want to rest, not advancing, resisting and not cooperating with God's divine expansion of our soul; so most growth comes by shocks and calamities. Perhaps, we cannot part with our friends or we cannot let our angels go. We do not see that they only go out that archangels may come in."
He uses the following illustration to make his point.

  "The man or woman who would have remained a sunny garden flower, with no room for its roots and too much sunshine for its head, by the falling of the walls and the neglect of the gardener can become like the mulberry, having branches that send out unexpected roots to the ground and causes the tree to spread over a wide area yielding shade and fruit to wide neighborhoods of men."

Sunday, May 29, 2016

  I remember when at church, 40 years ago; I was sitting by a friend of mine along with his cousin who brought her new boyfriend. Now the boyfriend hadn't been to church since he was a boy. He seemed like a nice enough fella, but a little more interested in his girlfriend than the sermon.
All that I remember about the sermon is that when I left, I thought to myself, "I wish there were as many "Amen's" as there were laughs. It was a casual easy to hear sermon that, in my assessment, lacked both content and passion.
Soon after, I learned that the boyfriend was actually dating this unsuspecting girl to get to her mother's wealth. The mother was wealthy and he was devising a plan to rob her. Within two weeks from that Sunday sermon, he broke into the mother's house, beat her nearly to death and, in fact, did rob her.
That incident left an indelible mark on me, and I vowed if I were ever to be graced with the privilege of standing behind a pulpit, I would remember that event.
The grace and privilege to preach materialized at the Corrections Center, and each time I prepare to deliver a message, I remind myself that this "boyfriend," or someone like him, may be there. When I look out over the faces gathered there, I know that many have suffered greatly, and someone may be on the verge of committing a crime: a relapse into addiction: maybe even a suicide or some other desperate life crisis.
Now I know not what others do, but as for me, I will stand before that sacred pulpit with the knowledge that God's word is the only tool, and God's Spirit is the only instrument I need, and I pray to be so enveloped by Christ that every word carries conviction, every thought demands decision, every moment is a divine encounter, so help me God!

Monday, May 23, 2016

  "And though sometimes, on passing from the turmoil of the city, and the heats of restless life, into the open temple of the silent universe, we are tempted to think, that back there is the taint of earth, and here the purity of heaven; yet be sure of this, that God is seen by us through man, rather than through nature: and that without the eye of our brother, and the voices of our kind, the winds might sigh, and the stars look down on us in vain." James Martineau. 


  I read this piece from an essay on "Compensation" by Emerson that intrigued me. I think you'll find it interesting.

  Dualism and compensation underlies the nature and condition of man.
Every excess causes a defect; every defect an excess.
Every sweet has its sour; every evil its good.
Every faculty which is a receiver of pleasure, has an equal penalty put on its abuse. 
For every grain of wit there is a grain of folly.
For everything you have missed, you have gained something else; and for every thing you gain, you lose something else.
If riches increase, they are increased that use them.
If the gatherer gathers too much, Nature takes out of the man what she puts into his chest; swells the estate, but kills the owner.
There is always some leveling circumstance that puts down the overbearing, the strong, and the rich. Is a man too strong and fierce for society and by temper and position a bad citizen, a morose ruffian, with a dash of the pirate in him? Nature sends him a troop of pretty sons and daughters who are getting along in the dame's classes at the village school, and love and fear for them smooth’s his grim scowl to courtesy. Nature takes the boar out and puts the lamb in and keeps her balance true.

The farmer imagines that power and position are fine things. But the President has paid dearly for his White House. It has commonly cost him all his peace, and the best of his manly attributes. R. W. Emerson

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The truth about "The woman at the well."

 I heard a sermon at a church I was visiting, on the "woman at the well", it is a wonderful story, and it is wonderful because it demonstrates the love of God and how He advocates for us. Now in this sermon the pastor described the woman at the well as, "the town hussy, she was a slut." 
Now this is not how Jesus saw her, and the reason that Jesus captured her heart is for that very reason; Jesus is our advocate, he does not see humanity in vulgar terms as these! The heart of God is a refuge, who, as King David described in Psalm 142:3, "When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, you knew my path." Jesus tells us he knows or path, knows how many hairs we have on our head to illustrate that he alone knows our past, every step we have taken and each sorrow, neglect, oppression, and injustice we have suffered.
He knew this woman’s deepest needs: he saw past the symptoms of five failed marriages, and who knows how many more failed relationships? He understands the impact that this life of difficulties can have on us; how neglect or abuse tears the soul with a rent that can only be healed by His loving balm of hope and understanding.

He saw, it may be, that this woman grew up in desperate poverty, with a father that was addicted to wine. Jesus could recount each time that her father came home drunk, raging with violence against her mother. Jesus knew that the only time her father showed affection to this woman was when his vile affections drew him to her room at night where twisted acts of oppression shaped this woman's childhood and robbed her, not only of her innocence, but of her understanding of true relationship. She entered adult relationships, it may be, seeking love and rescue, to find the very love she had been denied: only to find that the twisted affections she learned in childhood, permeated every adult relationship, and one after another they ended in failure.

Jesus, "looked at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun; and behold, he saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; Ec.4:1 But she found in Him, a comfort, an advocate, one who offered her a cordial that would not only fill her soul, but equip her to gain the very love she desperately sought.   

"Many people are suffering, crushed by the weight of their troubles." Ps. 9:9 And Jesus saw her suffering heart, He cast no shame, showed no division, applied no label: but offered her the "Gift of God," and spoke to her of a future where she was included as a "true worshipper." Her honesty in revealing the truth to Jesus ushered in an instant hope that she could not contain, and she spread the news that this must be the Messiah, because he knew the secrets of her heart.

 The blood of Jesus removes every sin, not only the sins we have committed, but the sins others have committed against us.

All have sinned but some have been grievously sinned against through adverse childhood experiences of neglect, verbal, physical and sexual abuse. Yes, these are sinners too, often the worst of sinners, but they must first be ministered to for those sins which were perpetrated on them, before they will repent for their own sins. In many cases differentiating between the two is the first and greatest hurdle to recovery, repentance and faith. 

He calls us to love as He loves, but in order to do that we must see as He sees. We cannot define people by their behaviors - Hussy, slut, addict or drunk, but we must have 'eyes to see.'

Monday, May 16, 2016

I was really struck by a line from a poem by Tupper ---

  "Heed only this --- not whether those be swine,
But whether these be pearls, precious and pure." 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

"It was a shrewd remark, therefore, which a great musician once made concerning a promising but passionless cantatrice: "She sings well, but she lacks something, and in that something, everything. If I were single, I would court her; I would marry her; I would maltreat her; I would break her heart; and in six months she would be the greatest singer in Europe."