Saturday, January 31, 2009

Interesting Thoughts Regarding the Son of God

(The God character speaking)
“‘When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human. We also chose to embrace all the limitations that this entailed. Even though we have always been present in this created universe, we now became flesh and blood. It would be like this bird, whose nature it is to fly, choosing only to walk and remain grounded. He doesn’t stop being a bird, but it does alter his experience of life significantly’…

‘Although by nature he is fully God, Jesus is fully human and lives as such. While never losing the innate ability to fly, he chooses moment-by-moment to remain grounded. That is why his name is Immanuel, God with us, or God with you, to be more precise.’

(The human character speaking)
‘But what about all the miracles? The healings? Raising people from the dead? Doesn’t that prove that Jesus was God – you know, more than human?’

(The God character speaking)
‘No, it proves that Jesus is truly human.’

‘...I can fly, but humans can’t. Jesus is fully human. Although he is also fully God, he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out of his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being. He is just the first to do it to the uttermost – the first to absolutely trust my life within him, the first to believe in my love and my goodness without regard for appearance or consequence.’

(The human character speaking)
‘So, when he healed the blind?’

(The God character speaking)
‘He did so as a dependent, limited human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him. Jesus, as a human being, had no power within himself to heal anyone.’

…‘Only as he rested in his relationship with me, and in our communion – our co-union – could he express my heart and will into any given circumstance. So, when you look at Jesus and it appears that he’s flying, he really is … flying. But what you are actually seeing is me; my life in him. That’s how he lives and acts as a true human, how every human is designed to live – out of my life.

A bird’s not defined by being grounded but by his ability to fly. Remember this, humans are not defined by their limitations, but by the intentions that I have for them; not by what they seem to be, but by everything it means to be created in my image.’”
~From The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

Friday, January 30, 2009

I Asked God

"I asked God for strength that I might achieve. I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given infirmity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy. I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among all men, most richly blessed."
~Unknown

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gentleness Toward Ourselves

“My poor heart, here we are fallen into the snare, from which we had so often resolved to escape! Come, let us rise up once more and forsake it forever, let us call for God’s mercy, and put our trust in it, for His mercy will assist us in standing firmer for the future, so will we return to the path of humility. Let us not be discouraged, but be well on our guard from this time. God will help us and guide us.

Therefore when your heart has fallen raise it gently, humbling yourself greatly before God, and acknowledging your fault, but without marveling at your fall; since it is no marvel that infirmity should be infirm, weakness weak, and frailty frail. But nevertheless heartily detest the offense of which you have been guilty in God’s sight, and with hearty courage and confidence in His mercy, begin once more to seek that virtue from which you have fallen away."
~St. Francis De Sales

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why Pray?

“Why pray? It’s an age-old question. We read books about how to pray, when to pray, what to pray … but perhaps the most basic query of all remains the most difficult. Why pray?

Why do we ask God for things and situations and then as Jesus taught us, submit the requests to His will? If we are asking God to do what he wants, what’s the point? Can’t God handle doing His work without us asking? Does He really need our assistance to accomplish His will for the world?

Obviously God got along quite well before He created humans … except He did create humans. The essence of prayer’s purpose lies in the first book of the Bible. God created us to fellowship with the Trinity; God created us to rule over the earth; God created us to participate in filling the world. Part of that participation for which God created us involves communication with the Creator.

Surely God knew what he wanted to do when He wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah and saved only Lot’s family. But first God visited Abraham, and Abraham bargained with God to extend mercy. That bold conversation gave Abraham a compassion for the situation he would have otherwise not known.

When we enter into conversation with God on others’ behalf, we enter into partnership in the pain and the process. As partners, we also share the victory. While I was writing this, my friend sent an e-mail prayer request for her upcoming cancer treatments. Praying for her means sharing her journey, partnering with her and with God. This partnership keeps me connected with both God and my friend.

In fact, prayer involves more than intercession for ourselves or others. Prayer includes time spent with God. Like any parent, God appreciates time spent in His presence without our request `grocery list.’ Just as any human relationship depends on quality time, so does our relationship with God.

Each Deeper Path contains various tips on how to pray. Settle the `why’ in your heart. Determine that prayer is truly your lifeline to God. Without prayer, we are afloat without a lifeboat. With prayer, we are surrounded with opportunities to commune with God and participate in his work in the world.

Why pray? Because the Creator of the universe stoops to listen.

Think it through: Create your own list of reasons to pray.”

~Article from Light and Life Magazine: The Deeper Path by Katherine Callahan-Howell

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Is Praying Difficult?

“No one is going to give you the answer to that question. This short book has no answer for you, either. It cannot pretend to be an introduction to prayer, much less a manual of instruction. We have been listening together to the witness of a centuries’-old tradition of prayer in the Church of Jesus. Something may have revealed itself to you on the way. Has the Spirit of Jesus, who never ceases from praying in your heart, suddenly disclosed and avowed Himself? Like the embryo that leapt in the womb of Elizabeth when it encountered Jesus in Mary’s womb?

If not, that is no reason to feel discouraged: your Hour is still to come.

If so, then you should give everything you have to the task of catching more clearly the still sound of God within you. For there the field lies, and there the treasure is hidden. The moment you discover the treasure of prayer in the field of your heart, you will go off full of joy and sell all that you possess in order to have that treasure. And the lute is at your disposal, and the plectrum too. These are your heart, and the Word of God. The Word, is after all, very close to you, on your lips and in your heart (Rom. 10:8).

You need only pick up the plectrum and pluck the strings. To persevere in the Word and in your heart, watching and praying. There is no other way of learning how to pray. You must return to yourself and to your true and deepest nature, to the human-being-in-Jesus that you already are, purely and simply by grace. `Nobody can learn how to see. For seeing is something we can do by nature. So too with prayer. Authentic prayer can never be learnt from someone else. It has its own instructor within it. Prayer is God’s gift to him who prays.’”
~André Louf

Monday, January 26, 2009

Disciple

This is an illustration of how much is involved in releasing our all to God so that we are free to serve others:

“I want this pearl. How much is it?”
“Well,” the seller says, “it’s very expensive.”
“But, how much?” we ask.
“Well, a very large amount.”
“Do you think I could buy it?”
“Oh, of course, everyone can buy it.”
“But, didn’t you say it was very expensive?”
“Yes.”“Well, how much is it?”
“Everything you have,” says the seller.
We make up our minds, “All right, I’ll buy it.” we say.
“Well, what do you have?” he wants to know. “Let’s write it down.”
“Well, I have ten thousand dollars in the bank.”
“Good – ten thousand dollars. What else?”
“That’s all. That’s all I have.”
“Nothing more?”
“Well, I have a few dollars here in my pocket.”
“How much?”
We start digging. “Well, let’s see – thirty, forty, sixty, eighty, a hundred, a hundred twenty dollars.”
“That’s fine. What else do you have?”
“Well, nothing. That’s all.”
“Where do you live?” He’s still probing.
“In my house. Yes, I have a house.”
“The house, too, then.” He writes that down.
“You mean I have to live in my camper?”
“You have a camper? That, too. What else?”
“I’ll have to sleep in my car!”
“You have a car?”
“Two of them.”
“Both become mine, both cars. What else?”
“Well, you already have my money, my house, my camper, my cars. What more do you want?”
“Are you alone in this world?”
“No, I have a wife and three children…”
“Oh, yes, your wife and children too. What else?”
“I have nothing left! I am left alone now.”
Suddenly the seller exclaims, “Oh, I almost forgot! You yourself, too! Everything becomes mine – wife, children, house, money, cars – and you too.”
Then he goes on. “Now listen – I will allow you to use all these things for the time being. But don’t forget that they are mine, just as you are. And whenever I need any of them you must give them up, because now I am the owner.”
~From Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living by Charles Swindoll (Illustration by Juan Carlos Ortiz)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Morning Prayer

Lord of my life, whose law I fain would keep, whose fellowship I fain would enjoy, and to whose service I would fain be loyal, I kneel before Thee as Thou sendest me forth to the work of another day.

For this new day I give Thee humble thanks: for its gladness and its brightness: for its long hours waiting to be filled with joyous and helpful labour: for its open doors of possibility: for its hope of new beginnings. Quicken in my heart, I beseech Thee, the desire to avail myself richly of this day’s opportunity. Let me not break faith with any of yesterday’s promises, nor leave unrepaired any of yesterday’s wrongs. Let me see no fellow traveler in distress and pass by on the other side. Let me leave no height of duty behind me unattempted, nor any evil habit unassaulted. Where deed of mine can help to make this world a better place for people to live in, where word of mine can cheer a despondent heart or brace a weak will, where prayer of mine can serve the extension of Christ’s Kingdom, there let me do and speak and pray.

This day, O Lord –
give me courtesy:
give me meekness of bearing, with decision of character:
give me longsuffering:
give me charity:
give me chastity:
give me sincerity of speech:
give me diligence in my allotted task.

O Thou who in the fullness of time didst raise up our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to enlighten our hearts with the knowledge of Thy love, grant me the grace to be worthy of His name.
Amen.

~John Baillie

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Secret of Happiness

"The secret of happiness is very simple, it is Jesus – not just the philosophy of Jesus, but Jesus – His real presence. He actually comes to us in such unlikely vehicles as poverty, pain, persecution. He has weird taste in vehicles. He came to Jerusalem on a donkey. And when He comes, He acts with power, though usually also with subtlety and not bombast. He really works. I am haunted by my memories of a few precious hours in the company of the two happiest groups of people I have ever met in my life. In both cases, I was supposed to speak to them. In both cases, they spoke to me with very few words – like Mother Teresa, like Jesus. One group was in fact Mother Teresa’s nuns in Boston’s worst slum. Another was a convent of contemplative Carmelites in Massachusetts. What they said to me, simply by being who they were, was unmistakable. See how happy I am. See how happy Jesus makes me.

This is how happiness happens. It is not so much taught, like math, but caught like measles. The church is in the business of spreading the good infection – like in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Only this is a good infection. And that is the new evangelism and it is also the old evangelism that won the world two thousand years ago. It will do it again for there is no argument against real happiness. The smiles of the saints are the arguments that will win the world for Christ again – they are unarguable. Only one thing then is necessary to create a world of happiness from pole to pole and it is not doing any of the many good things that Martha did, but doing the one thing that Mary did – just sit at Jesus’ feet. Just be in His presence. Know His love all day. That is the scandalously simple secret of happiness.”
~Peter Kreeft

Friday, January 23, 2009

The World (Part 3)

“…He who has thrown himself out of this world, alone can overcome it; he who has cut himself loose of it, alone cannot be touched by it; he alone can be courageous, who does not fear it; he alone firm, who is not moved by it; he alone severe with it, who does not love it. Despair makes men bold, and so it is that he who has nothing to hope from the world, has nothing to fear from it. He who has really tasted of the true Cross, can taste no bitterer pain, no keener joy.”
~John Henry Newman

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The World (Part 2)

“Thus the fact that there exist men who are indifferent to the loss of their being and the peril of an eternity of wretchedness is against nature. With everything else they are quite different; they fear the most trifling things, foresee and feel them; and the same man who spends so many days and nights in fury and despair at losing some office or at some imaginary affront to his honour is the very one who knows that he is going to lose everything through death but feels neither anxiety nor emotion. It is a monstrous thing to see one and the same heart at once so sensitive to minor things and so strangely insensitive to the greatest. It is an incomprehensible spell, a supernatural torpor that points to a “supernatural” power as its cause (he is referring here, not to God, but the devil).

…But as this religion obliges us always to regard them, as long as they live, as being capable of receiving grace which may enlighten them, and to believe that in a short time they may be filled with more faith than we are, while we on the contrary may be stricken by the same blindness which is theirs now, we must do for them what we would wish to be done for us in their place, and appeal to them to have pity on themselves, and to take at least a few steps in an attempt to find some light. Let them spend on reading about it a few of the hours they waste on other things: however reluctantly they may approach the task they will perhaps hit upon something, and at least they will not be losing much…”
~Blaise Pascal

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The World (Part 1)

“I am old. Time has revealed itself and shed its pretense of eternity, though it is of course contained within eternity. I clean the hallways, take out the garbage, try not to be irritated by the roar of ten million automobiles, and by the jackhammers that are breaking up the street outside the front door, only to lay down another stratum of tar for future generations to dig up. This is a big city, and though I have lived within it for close to forty years, I still do not understand how it survives.

Its people display an astonishing variety of colors, languages, temperaments, and ratios of good and evil (as is everywhere), but they do not seem unhappy. Neither do they contemplate the body of the world. Its foundations are below them, they believe, in the concrete and tar, the pipes and wires. During my time among them I have noticed this delusion particularly. Seldom have I encountered the few who are awake, who cast their gaze to the real foundations, which, as human beings should know, are above.”

~from The Island of the World by Michael O’Brien

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Man or Rabbit?

"The people who keep on asking if they can’t lead a decent life without Christ, don’t know what life is about; if they did they would know that 'a decent life' is mere machinery compared with the thing we men are really made for. Morality is indispensable: but the Divine Life, which gives itself to us and which calls us to be gods, intends for us something in which morality will be swallowed up. We are to be re-made. All the rabbit in us is to disappear – the worried, conscientious, ethical rabbit as well as the cowardly and sensual rabbit. We shall bleed and squeal as the handfuls of fur come out; and then, surprisingly, we shall find underneath it all a thing we have never yet imagined: a real Man, an ageless god, a son of God, strong, radiant, wise, beautiful, and drenched in joy.

...The idea of reaching 'a good life' without Christ is based on a double error. Firstly, we cannot do it; and secondly, in setting up 'a good life' as our final goal, we have missed the very point of our existence. Morality is a mountain which we cannot climb by our own efforts; and if we could we should only perish in the ice and unbreathable air of the summit, lacking those wings with which the rest of the journey has to be accomplished. For it is from there that the real ascent begins. The ropes and axes are 'done away' and the rest is a matter of flying."
~C. S. Lewis

http://www.pseudobook.com/cslewis/wp-content/uploads/2006/09/manorrabbit.pdf

Monday, January 19, 2009

Today

Today

one which I’ve never lived before

and one which I will never get to live again.

Thank you, Lord, for this incredible gift.

The surprise of unwrapping it holds wonder

and the privilege of excitement.

By creation…I am.

And that is enough.

~Tim Hansel

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Light

"O Light that never fades, as the light of day now streams through these windows and floods this room, so let me open to Thee the windows of my heart, that all my life may be filled by the radiance of Thy presence. Let no corner of my being be unillumined by the light of Thy countenance. Let there be nothing within me to darken the brightness of the day. Let the Spirit of Him whose life was the light of men rule within my heart till eventide. Amen"
~John Baillie

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Passionate Truth-seeking

The following quotes are from a book by Peter Kreeft who selects the parts of Blaise Pascal’s Pensées (English translation=Thoughts) that are generally considered great and interesting, and most respond to the needs of today. Kreeft quotes Pascal and then offers his own comments and insights on applying Pascal’s wisdom to today’s questions and problems. Pascal (1623-1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. Kreeft is a modern Christian apologist and professor of philosophy at Boston College and The King's College.

“I condemn equally those who choose to praise man, those who choose to condemn him, and those who choose to divert themselves, and I can only approve of those who seek with groans.”

“It is good to be tired and weary from fruitlessly seeking the true good, so that one can stretch out one’s arms to the Redeemer.”

“Truth is so obscured nowadays and lies [are] so well established that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it.”

“My whole heart strains to know what the true good is in order to pursue it: no price would be too high to pay for eternity.”
~Blaise Pascal

“This is why the discovery of truth depends on the heart and will, not just the head and mind. This is why the prime requisite for finding any great truth (like God, or the meaning of life or death, or who we are and what we ought to do, or even finding the right mate and the right career) is love, passion, questing and questioning. Once we pursue a question with our whole being, as Socrates pursued 'know thyself', we will find answers. Answers are not as hard to come by as we think; and questions, real questioning, is a lot more rare and precious than we think. Finding is not the problem, seeking is. For truth is hidden, ever since the Fall but especially 'nowadays', now that our secular society no longer helps us to God, as traditional societies did. Lies are well established on the level of appearance (for example, movies); truth and reality are hidden, behind the lies. No one will find the truth today just by listening to the media, which are largely in the power of the Father of Lies. We have to ignore the pervasive chatter and seek the countercultural, unfashionable, media-scorned truth behind these obstacles.

Clearly, this situation has become vastly exacerbated since Pascal’s day. Here again he plays the prophet; he is more relevant to our time than to his own.

If we do not love the truth, we will not seek it. If we do not seek it, we will not find it. If we do not find it, we will not know it. If we do not know it, we have failed our fundamental task in time, and quite likely also in eternity.”
~Peter Kreeft

Friday, January 16, 2009

Seek the Pure Act

Seek the pure act that lives as a sign in memory.
Seek the indestructible, the true,
seek, if you wish, this art through which a soul
gone these countless years now speaks to you,
and you may know him as your own.

Seek all waters, be they waves of fear or wells of peace,
seek in unexpected places,
the creeks and rivers of release!
Seek the snow falling on sleeping fields or sighing hills,
seek the rain, yet seek the sun a moment before dawn,
when the forest to the east bursts into flames
and the lake is as blue as a pauper’s crown.

Seek the tent of those abandoned in the desert!
Seek those who have known many paths, many woes,
yet have retained their dignity.
Seek the silent and listen to them speaking!
Seek the prisoner released.
Seek the wedding feast,
seek love, which is the royal wedding feast!
For with all its imperfections it is the work of art
before its final form is complete.

Seek the lost kingdom at the feet of mountains,
seek the interior palace!
Carry the great treasure of your burden
and serve it to the guests.
Run across the thinnest ice, laughing – or weeping if you
must –
as you must, as I must, as each man must –
yet remember that laughter should enfold all weeping.

Seek the eye of childhood!
Seek the eye of purified old age!
Seek those who value good fools,
seek those who have mercy on bad fools.
Seek the wise but remember they are only dust,
seek the innocent, but remember the trials ahead of them.
Seek the strong and the weak, and love them equally,
know that their tests are only variations
on the unified theme.

Seek the eternal in the present,
seek the past and the future,
link them with the trajectory of your course,
for you are
you are
you are
you are the vessel.
~Michael O’Brien

Why We Need Unhappiness

“Your muscles get stronger only by exercise, and exercise means meeting resistance, surfaces that oppose them. Boxers need sparring partners to train with. Our souls are boxers, too, and need hard times to spar with. The muscles of the soul are courage and character. They get strong only through struggle and pain. In fact, they get strong only with some defeats, because strength of soul means wisdom, and wisdom comes from suffering. We learn the most from our mistakes.
You can’t be deeply happy unless you have a deep, strong soul. You can’t have a deep, strong soul unless you have suffered deep unhappiness. Therefore you can’t be deeply happy without ever being deeply unhappy.
Knowing this doesn’t take away unhappiness. If it did, it would take away happiness too.
Wisdom is not a drug for pain. But it gets you out of bed, up and moving, instead of giving up, copping out, or moaning.”
~Peter Kreeft

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Joy

“Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Over-anxiety?

"Imitate a little child, which will walk along with one hand clinging to its father, and with the other it gathers strawberries or blackberries from the wayside hedge. Even so, while you gather and use this world’s goods with one hand, always let the other be fast in your Heavenly Father’s hand, and look round from time to time to make sure that He is satisfied with what you are doing, at home or abroad. Beware of letting go, under the idea of making or receiving more—for if He is not with you, you will fall to the ground at the first step. When your ordinary work or business is not specially engrossing, let your heart be fixed more on God than on it; and if the work be such as to require your undivided attention, then pause from time to time and look to God, just as the sailor on his homeward voyage looks oftener to the sky than to the waves which carry him. So will God work with you, in you, and for you, and your work will be blessed."
~St. Francis De Sales

Monday, January 12, 2009

Humility

"Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call "humble" nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you had to say to him. If you do dislike him, it will be because you feel a bit envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all."
~C. S. Lewis

“We must not think Pride is something God forbids because He is offended at it, or that humility is something He demands as due to His own dignity — as if God Himself was proud. He is not in the least worried about His dignity. The point is, He wants you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble — delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible: trying to take off a lot of silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up and are strutting about like the little idiots we are. I wish I had got a bit further with humility myself: if I had, I could probably tell you more about the relief, the comfort, of taking the fancy-dress off — getting rid of the false self, with all its “Look at me” and “Aren’t I a good boy?” and all its posing and posturing. To get even near it, even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in the desert.”
~C. S. Lewis

3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
~Philippians 2:3-8 (English Standard Version)