Saturday, February 28, 2009

Courage

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. ‘He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,’ is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. The paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice. He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to live, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Friday, February 27, 2009

Silence

See nothing for yourself.
Stand ready to serve
in quietness,
demanding nothing,
expecting nothing,
sacrificing and praying without anyone knowing.
Silence
Silence
Silence

This silence before God and man is the presence of being. Such silence speaks! Then when one's spoken words flow, they come from the true heart of one's unique identity. An identity that only the Father in Heaven knows, for it is hidden even from our own eyes.

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

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cross of Death, Tree of Life (2)

“In order to have a clear understanding of redemption, we need to be familiar with its foreshadowing in the Old Testament. The first woman stood beneath the branches of the tree knowing that the fruit of her womb would inherit turmoil and death; the second woman stands beneath the arms of the cross knowing that the fruit of her womb would bring all people to peace and the fullness of life. The first was seduced by the serpent; the second placed herself at the service of God and gave birth to the one who would crush the serpent’s head.

…Mary becomes the portal, the gateway to the eternal kingdom, through whom the King of kings and Master of the Universe will again come into His garden and walk among His creatures.”
~Jerome Machar

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

O Love Divine! What Hast Thou Done!

O Love divine! what hast Thou done!
The immortal God hath died for me!
The Father's co-eternal Son
Bore all my sins upon the tree.
The immortal God for me hath died:
My Lord, my Love is crucified!

Is crucified for me and you,
To bring us rebels back to God.
Believe, believe the record true,
Ye all are bought with Jesus’ blood.
Pardon for all flows from His side:
My Lord, my Love is crucified!

Behold Him, all ye that pass by,
The bleeding Prince of life and peace!
Come, sinners, see your Savior die,
And say, "Was ever grief like His?"
Come, feel with me His blood applied:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

Then let us sit beneath His cross,
And gladly catch the healing stream:
All things for Him account but loss,
And give up all our hearts to Him:
Of nothing think or speak beside,
My Lord, my Love is crucified!

~Charles Wesley

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Discipline of God

How many helps thou giv'st to those who would learn!
To some sore pain, to others a sinking heart;
To some a weariness worse than any smart;
To some a haunting, fearing, blind concern;
Madness to some; to some the shaking dart
Of hideous death still following as they turn;
To some a hunger that will not depart.

To some thou giv'st a deep unrest–a scorn
Of all they are or see upon the earth;
A gaze, at dusky night and clearing morn,
As on a land of emptiness and dearth;
To some a bitter sorrow; to some the sting
Of love misprized–of sick abandoning;
To some a frozen heart, oh, worse than anything!

…The messengers of Satan think to mar,
But make–driving the soul from false to feal–
To thee, the reconciler, the one real,
In whom alone the would be and the is are met.

…the Spirit and I are one in this-
My hunger now is after righteousness;
My spirit hopes in God to set me free
From the low self loathed of the higher me.
Great elder brother of my second birth,
Dear o'er all names but one, in heaven or earth,
Teach me all day to love eternally.

~From Diary of an Old Soul by George MacDonald

Monday, February 23, 2009

At the Crossroads

Listen as wisdom calls out! Hear as understanding raises her voice! She stands on the hilltop and at the crossroads.
Proverbs 8:1-2

Read Proverbs 8:1-11

A bright red sports car screeched to a halt at a country crossroads, and the driver shouted to an old man sitting on a bench, “Can you direct me to London, please?” “No, I can’t,” he replied. “Then which road to Oxford?” he asked. “Can’t rightly say,” answered the old man. “You don’t know much, do you?” asked the young man sarcastically. “No, I don’t know much,” replied the uncommunicative local man. “But I’m not lost!”

The problem with crossroads is that they present choices and require that they be made, and unless you make the right choice you end up being hopelessly lost. It is at the crossroads that we need somebody who, unlike the old man, has a word of wisdom to impart.

Life is full of crossroads; it is all about choices. When we are young they are made for us, hopefully by wise, loving parents. As young people grow up they need to learn how to make good choices. Often they fail to do this, and they suffer the consequences for a lifetime. Even in the golden years, there are still crossroads to be faced—choices which become increasingly difficult as faculties decline and fears increase. The need to make choices never ends; there are crossroads just around the corner.

Fortunately, there is a word from the Lord on the subject: “Listen as wisdom calls out! Hear as understanding raises her voice! She stands on the hilltop and at the crossroads” (Prov. 8:1-2). This wisdom is also called “common sense” and “understanding” (8:5), “excellent things” and “right” (8:6), “truth” (8:7), and “advice [that] is wholesome and good” (8:8). This wisdom is more than knowledge. There are learned people who lack wisdom, and uneducated people who display the wisdom of which Scripture speaks.

The key is found in Proverbs 9:10: “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in understanding” (9:10). True wisdom is available to those who “fear the Lord.” This does not mean living in mortal terror of a cold, merciless Deity, but rather loving with reverence and awe a great and gracious God who longs to be deeply involved in life’s journey and consulted at life’s crossroads.

The Lord does not even wait for us to ask directions. “Wisdom calls out … understanding raises her voice” (8:1); “Listen to me! For I have excellent things to tell you” (8:6). It takes a wise person to listen to the right voice and make the right choices. This way he/she will find the right road. This way he/she takes the high road.
~Stuart Briscoe

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Reflections - Creation

1) Reflect for how many years you were not in the world, and you had no being. Where wert thou, O my soul, at that time? The world had existed so long, but thou wert unheard of.

2) God brought you out of nothing, and made you what you are out of His sole goodness, without requiring any assistance on your part.

3) Consider the being which God has given you, for it is the principal being in this visible world, capable of eternal life, and of perfect union with His Divine Majesty.

~St. Francis De Sales

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Take a Chance

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly … who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat.”
~Teddy Roosevelt

Friday, February 20, 2009

All Fathers Fail but One

“I just read this in Tolkien’s letters to his grown children: ‘I live in anxiety concerning my children, who in this harder, crueler, and more mocking world into which I have survived must suffer more assaults than I have … I have brought you all up and talked to you too little … I failed as a father. Now I pray for you all, unceasingly, that the Healer shall heal my defects.’

Joseph Pearce, Tolkien’s biographer, comments: ‘One cannot help but feel that Tolkien was being unduly harsh in seeing himself as a failure as a father. Whatever shortcomings he exhibited must be countered by the mitigating pleas of those who remembered him as a loving and conscientious parent.’

Pearce was still young when he wrote that. When he gets as old as Tolkien was when he wrote his letter, he will understand, and perhaps write one like it to his children. What parents can look back and be satisfied with their own efforts? Only shallow and materialistic fools. (‘My kids never lacked any toy that other kids had!’)

Good parents are never satisfied with their efforts to love and understand their kids, but they are satisfied with their kids. How can we be satisfied with the results of our efforts but not with our efforts? Because the good in our kids now is due 1% to us, 2% to them, and 97% to God’s grace.

There is only one perfect Father. And even His kids mess up. All of them.”
~Peter Kreeft

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rise and Shine

"What does God’s radiance look like? When the load of guilt is removed from a person’s shoulders, the frowns of worry begin to disappear. When the promise of life eternal is embraced, the light of hope fills the eyes. When the beauty of grace is apprehended, a quiet smile of inner satisfaction lightens the countenance. When the Lord becomes a present reality in the believer’s life, the heart begins to glow with His passion.

When this happens, people notice and are attracted. Isaiah said, 'All nations will come to your light. Mighty kings will come to see your radiance' (60:3). People from all walks of life will be drawn to the people who have risen and are shining. For they, too, are looking for life and beauty, hope and gladness..."
~Stuart Briscoe

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

You Can Choose Joy

Giver of life, Creator of all that is lovely,
Teach me to sing the words to Your song;
I want to feel the music of living
And not fear the sad songs
But from them make new songs
Composed of both laughter and tears.

Teach me to dance to the sounds of Your world and Your people,
I want to move in rhythm with Your plan,
Help me to try to follow Your leading
To risk even falling
To rise and keep trying
Because You are leading the dance.

~Unknown

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Crumbling is not an instant's Act

Crumbling is not an instant's Act
A fundamental pause
Dilapidation's processes
Are organized Decays.

'Tis first a Cobweb on the Soul
A Cuticle of Dust
A Borer in the Axis
An Elemental Rust—

Ruin is formal—Devil's work
Consecutive and slow—
Fail in an instant, no man did
Slipping—is Crash's law.

~Emily Dickinson

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Apostles and the Resurrection

“The Apostles were either deceived or deceivers [if Jesus didn’t really rise]. Either supposition is difficult, for it is not possible to imagine that a man has risen from the dead.

While Jesus was with them he could sustain them, but afterwards, if he did not appear to them, who did make them act?”
~Blaise Pascal

“If the apostles imagined the Resurrection, they were either the most stupid men in history, unable to distinguish a corpse from a triumphant, resurrected Lord of life and death; or else their hallucination behaved very differently from any hallucination in history, appearing many times, to many people (Paul mentions five hundred in 1 Corinthians 15:6 and challenges his readers to interview them by noting that ‘many of them are still alive’), eating real fish (Luke 24:26-43), remaining forty days (Acts 1:3), and -as Pascal points out in the last sentence- transforming them from a rabble as scared as rabbits, running away at the crucifixion, denying their Lord (Luke 22:54-62), cowering behind locked doors (John 20:19) –transforming them into a force that conquered the world, softening hard Roman hearts and hardening martyrs’ resolve, going to lions and crosses with hymns of joy on their lips. If Jesus did not really rise from the dead, then an even greater miracle happened to them, without a cause: they and thousands of others gave up worldly pleasures, acceptance, security, prestige, power, wealth and very often life itself for nothing and from nothing. No one has ever answered Pascal’s simple question at the end: ‘Who did make them act?’”
~Peter Kreeft

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ballad of the Goodly Fere

“In the Garden of Gesthemane, in the dead of night, a mob of thugs ‘carrying torches, lanterns and weapons’ comes to take Christ away. Note the cowardice of it – why didn’t they take him during the light of day, down in the town? Does Jesus shrink back in fear? No, he goes to face them head-on.

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’
‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied.
‘I am he,’ Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.
Again he asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’
And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’
‘I told you that I am he,’ Jesus answered. ‘If you are looking for me, then let these men go.’ (John 18:4-8, emphasis added)

Talk about strength. The sheer force of Jesus’ bold presence knocks the whole posse over. A few years ago a good man gave me a copy of a poem Ezra Pound wrote about Christ, called ‘Ballad of the Goodly Fere.’ It’s become my favorite. Written from the perspective of one of the men who followed Christ, perhaps Simon Zelotes, it’ll make a lot more sense if you know that fere is an Old English word that means mate, or companion.

Ha’ we lost the goodliest fere o’ all
For the priests and the gallows tree?
Aye lover he was of brawny men,
O’ ships and the open sea.

When they came wi’ a host to take Our Man
His smile was good to see,
‘First let these go!’ quo’ our Goodly Fere,
‘Or I’ll see ye damned,’ says he.

Aye he sent us out through the crossed high spears
And the scorn of his laugh rang free,
‘Why took ye not me when I walked about
Alone in the town?’ says he.

Oh we drunk his ‘Hale’ in the good red wine
When we last made company,
No capon priest was the Goodly Fere
But a man o’ men was he.

I ha’ seen him drive a hundred men
Wi’ a bundle o’ cords swung free,
That they took the high and holy house
For their pawn and treasury…

I ha’ seen him cow a thousand men
On the hills o’ Galilee,
They whined as he walked out calm between,
Wi’ his eyes like the grey o’ the sea.

Like the sea that brooks no voyaging
With the winds unleashed and free,
Like the sea that he cowed at Genseret
Wi’ twey words spoke’ suddenly.

A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea,
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.

Jesus is no ‘capon priest,’ no pale-faced altar boy with his hair parted in the middle, speaking softly, avoiding confrontation who at last gets himself killed because he has no way out. He works with wood, commands the loyalty of dockworkers. He is the Lord of hosts, the captain of angel armies. And when Christ returns, he is at the head of a dreadful company, mounted on a white horse, with a double-edged sword, his robe dipped in blood (Rev. 19)…

No question about it – there is something fierce in the heart of God.”
~From Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

Saturday, February 14, 2009

In Honor of My Wife on Valentine’s Day

I am the most blessed man in the world because I am married to a sub-creator, a genuinely great artist. Not just any artist… I found the one…

In case you are not married to an artist or aren’t close with any, let me give you a taste of what it is like with some quotes from someone who really understood the artistic mind (G. K. Chesterton):

“A small artist is content with art; a great artist is content with nothing except everything.”

“Artists of a large and wholesome vitality get rid of their art easily, as they breathe easily…”

“There is at the back of every artist's mind... the landscape of her dreams; the strange flora and fauna of her own secret planet; the sort of thing she likes to think about. This general atmosphere... governs all her creations, however varied.”

“The dignity of the artist lies in her duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. In this long vigil she often has to vary her methods of stimulation; but in this long vigil she is also herself striving against a continual tendency to sleep.”

“The whole difference between a construction and a creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.”

“The world will never starve for want of wonders, but for want of wonder.”

“A yawn is a silent shout.”

~G. K. Chesterton

Thank God for the genuinely great artists of the world! They enhance our lives in innumerable ways, they help to keep our souls from starving, they help us stay engaged in life, and most importantly keep us focused on His wonders. I won’t lie. The creative mind can be a bit scary for those who are too caught up in calculating the risks. I sometimes fall into that safe mode. However, my artist is trustworthy with a heart of gold and a heart for others. She continually seeks God to direct her gifts and passions.

I do not claim to be very creative, have used words from others on this site, and will continue to do so. However, every once in a while I will speak. Here are some parting thoughts of my own for my wife on this special day…

It is true that our desire to find and experience perfect happiness and fulfillment will never be completely met in this life. I don’t disagree with that point. However, while that may be true, I have nonetheless experienced deep moments of happiness and fulfillment on this earth. The deepest moments have been with my Creator and with my wife. She is such a gift from God. She truly points me to Him and gives me glimpses of the pure joy that He gives so effortlessly and that we will know fully in the life to come. He speaks through her, cares through her, loves through her, etc. I cannot thank God enough for the honor of being her husband.
~Kevin

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love Bade Me Welcome

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.

"A guest," I answered, "worthy to be here";
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.

~George Herbert

Thursday, February 12, 2009

O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
~George Matheson

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Beauty (Valentine's Theme #2)

“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”
~C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Love (Valentine's Theme #1)

“Love is giving with no thought of getting. It is tenderness enfolding with strength to protect. It is forgiveness without further thought of that forgiven. It is understanding human weakness with knowledge of the true person shining through. It is quiet in the midst of turmoil. It is trust in God with no thought of self. It is the one altogether lovely, the light in the mother’s eyes, the glory in the sacrifice, the quiet assurance of protection.

It is in the expectation of our Father’s promise coming true. It is the refusal to see anything but good in our fellow man. It is the glory that comes with selflessness and the power that comes with the assurance of the Father’s love for His children. It is the voice that says “no” to our brother, though “yes” might be more easily said. It is resistance to the world’s lust and greed, thus becoming a positive law of annihilation to error.

Love… the one thing no one can take from us... the one thing we can give constantly and become increasingly rich in giving. Love can take no offense, for it cannot know that which it does not itself conceive. It cannot hurt or be hurt, for it is the purest reflection of God. It is the one eternal, indestructible force for good. It is the will of God preparing, planning, proposing always what is best for all His universe.”
~Unknown

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cross of Death, Tree of Life

"It has been said that the truth of being can only be made known in its opposite; e.g. love is revealed through hatred, unity through fragmentation, and peace through conflict. Standing before the cross, we see the eternal and almighty God revealed in the tortured and crucified Jesus."
~Jerome Machar

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Brave Comradeship of God

"The bravery of God in trusting us! You say - 'But He has been unwise to choose me, because there is nothing in me; I am not of any value.' That is why He chose you. As long as you think there is something in you, He cannot choose you because you have ends of your own to serve; but if you have let Him bring you to the end of your self-sufficiency then He can choose you to go with Him to Jerusalem, and that will mean the fulfillment of purposes which He does not discuss with you.

…The comradeship of God is made up out of men who know their poverty. He can do nothing with the man who thinks that he is of use to God. As Christians we are not out for our own cause at all, we are out for the cause of God, which can never be our cause. We do not know what God is after, but we have to maintain our relationship with Him whatever happens. We must never allow anything to injure our relationship with God; if it does get injured we must take time and get it put right. The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the atmosphere produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to look after, and it is the one thing that is being continually assailed."
~Oswald Chambers

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Hart of Manhattan

I am walking by night from the mountains of my home
lordly beneath this crown, though no man knows its weight,
white-antlered as if I am a mountain crested with two oaks,
the foothills green and gold by the sea of blood
part to let me pass, and when I ask if I am ever to return
they bow in silence
- no eyes see my approach.

Pausing upon a bridge made by human hand,
spanning land and sea and river and sky, I ponder
what they have made,
then knowing my task I leap forward onto the island
- none see my arrival.

I have brought the mountains into the city;
it is my gift to you; and the sky which is my breath,
and the sea as well, for all oceans are in my eyes,
and this I bring to you,
for all has come from me
- none see me pass between the towers.

I lift my head and sound the bugle call
to rouse the city from its sleep, but the city awakens into deeper sleep
and dreams itself awake when I am among them.
Why is it so, this reversal of intent?
Why, though I do them no harm,
do they fear me?
- none know who I am.

Who shot me, who made me fly on panicked feet?
Leaping, leaping, tossing my head before I fall to the pavement
and my crown rolls along the streets
as you gather round to see a marvel brought down.
Who has done this? Who?
Speak! The arrow quivering in my chest with the last pulse-beats
does not condemn you, nor do I condemn you, my slayer,
but you should know me, for I was born for this.

If my blood is needed to show you to yourself,
to refresh you or awake you, I will give it.
Here it is, take it.
But understand as you drink that even the mighty
strain their eyes for a final glimpse of stars,
longing to rest like children in their mother’s embrace.
~Michael O'Brien

Friday, February 6, 2009

Avoid Doubt and Unbelief

14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe…
Philippians 2: 14-15 (NIV)

“Don’t allow your mind to wander into doubt and unbelief simply because you don’t understand what God is doing. Do you hear me? Is this for you? Don’t allow your mind to wander into doubt and unbelief simply because you don’t understand in this moment what God is doing. Listen, God is doing something really good. You stay right there in that place of faithful selflessness and do all things without questioning and disputing and saying, why is this? I’m not going to follow God if I can’t sort it all out. Listen, you’re not God. Sort that out!
…Our Father is on the throne. What else do you need to know?”
~James MacDonald

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Love and Pain

“The best thing in life is not the thing we want the most. The best thing is to love. The thing we want the most is to be loved. The most fearsome thing is not loving, but the thing we fear the most is not being loved.

Why do we fear that the most? Because it gives us the most pain.

To love is to give your heart away into someone else’s hands. To give your heart away is to be vulnerable to pain. If you give your heart away, it will certainly be broken, many times. But the only whole heart is a broken heart. Love and pain are a package deal. The only way to avoid pain is to avoid love, to give your heart to no one, to put a security system around it. It will be safe there in the freezer. But it will not beat. It will freeze. (In Dante, the lowest realm of Hell is not fire but ice).

We give too much of our hearts to little things, like image and control, that are not worth the pain. More important, we give too little of our hearts to big things, like loving God and our families, because we unconsciously fear the pain. In making this foolish calculation, we forget one thing: that love’s joy always outweighs love’s pain in the end; that no sane person has ever said on his deathbed: ‘I shouldn’t have loved so much. I shouldn’t have put out so much. I should have kept my heart in the freezer.’ Long before that, if there is love, then there is a joy even in the pain of making free, willing sacrifices and freely accepting the unwilled pains. And even when that joy takes a while to come, there is always the peace that comes from knowing that you did the right thing.”
~Peter Kreeft

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

One-Word Advice for Marriage

“The most frequent complaint troubled couples bring to marriage counselors is: ‘We don’t love each other any more.’ The answer to it is a single word: ‘Do.’

Love doesn’t happen, like rain. You do it.

But isn’t love a feeling? No. That’s like saying a flower is a smell."
~Peter Kreeft

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I Stand in Awe

Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.
Habakkuk 3:2

“Habakkuk enters God’s presence with a healthy fear of the Lord. The statement, I stand in awe of your deeds, shows his humility and worshipful attitude as he remembered the many amazing things God had done for His people. This attitude, sometimes called the fear of the Lord, is increasingly rare in today’s world, even among God’s people. The drift in Christianity over the past several decades has been to downplay God’s omnipotence and justice. We sometimes refer to God in casual terms like ‘the man upstairs’ or our ‘big Daddy’ and even take His name in vain.

A proper attitude toward God might be likened to the awe tinged with fear that we feel when visiting the ocean. We see that it is immense and powerful, and we enjoy watching the waves and even playing in the surf. Yet we are never so foolish as to treat this overwhelming power lightly or become careless around it. We both love it and realize that it is far greater than we are.

We respect God in a similar way. We know He loves us and that we are His children. Yet when we realize His great power and remember that He created mountains, rides on the whirlwind, causes nations to rise and fall, and will someday judge the whole earth, we cannot help but tremble at His word and revere His commands. That change in our attitude will be immediately reflected in our reverence for God and His word – we will be drawn to God and will obey Him more diligently.

Habakkuk sees judgment coming and prays earnestly for revival. Renew [your deeds] in our day, he begs, in wrath remember mercy. The prophet is calling upon God to do for His people today what he had done in the past – to deliver them from enemies and to bless them. Although Habakkuk himself had not witnessed those miracles, he believed in the ability of God to save His people. His prayer is, ‘Do it again, God!’

That might be our prayer today. Let this present generation experience the power of God that was displayed in ages past. Let God revive His people, deliver them, bless them! Do it again, Lord!"
~From the Wesley Bible Curriculum – Minor Prophets – Dec-Feb 2008-09

Monday, February 2, 2009

Jesus Describes Himself

(Speaking about Jesus)
“But what was He like personally down inside His skin? Is there any place, for example, where He describes Himself? The answer is yes. Does that description fit the common idea of human greatness? The answer is no. Unlike most influential, celebrity types, Jesus’ description of Himself doesn’t sound like the popular hype we’ve grown accustomed to hearing.

…I have found only one place where Jesus Christ – in His own words – describes his own “inner man.” In doing so, those words are not phenomenal and great. He doesn’t even mention that He was sought after as a speaker. Although it is true, He doesn’t say: “I am wise and powerful,” or “I am holy and eternal,” or “I am all-knowing and absolute deity.” Do you know what He said? Hold on, it may surprise you.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS (Matt. 11:28-29).

I am gentle. I am humble. These are servant terms. Gentle is the same word we examined rather carefully in chapter 7 when we analyzed that particular characteristic of a servant. The word means strength under control. You may recall, it is used of a wild stallion that has been tamed. “Humble in heart” means lowly – the word picture of a helper. Unselfishness and thoughtfulness are in the description. It doesn’t mean weak and insignificant, however.

Frankly, I find it extremely significant that when Jesus lifts the veil of silence and once for all gives us a glimpse of Himself, the real stuff of His inner person, He uses gentle and humble. As we came to realize early in this book, when we read that God the Father is committed to forming us to the image of His Son, qualities such as these are what He wants to see emerge. We are never more like Christ than when we fit into His description of Himself.”
~From Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living by Charles Swindoll

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Prayer - Sunday Morning

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty; heaven and earth are full of Thy Glory; glory be to Thee, O Lord most high.

O God, I crave Thy blessing upon this day of rest and refreshment. Let me rejoice today in Thy worship and find gladness in the singing of Thy praises. Forbid, I beseech Thee, that only my body should be refreshed today and not my spirit. Give me grace for such an act of self-recollection as may again bring together the scattered forces of my soul. Enable me to step aside for a little while from the busy life of common days and take thought about its meaning and its end. May Jesus Christ be today the companion of my thoughts, so that His divine manhood may more and more take root within my soul. May He be in me and I in Him, even as Thou wert in Him and through Him mayest be in me and I at rest in Thee.

O Thou who art the Source and Ground of all truth, Thou Light of lights, who hast opened the minds of men to discern the things that are, guide me today, I beseech Thee, in my hours of reading. Give me grace to choose the right books and to read them in the right way. Give me wisdom to abstain as well as to persevere. Let the Bible have proper place; and grant that as I read I may be alive to the stirrings of Thy Holy Spirit in my soul.

I pray, O God, for all human hearts that today are lifted up to Thee in earnest desire, and for every group of men and women who are met together to praise and magnify Thy name. Whatever be their mode of worship, be graciously pleased to accept their humble offices of prayer and praise, and lead them unto life eternal, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
~John Baillie