Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Soul’s Sincere Desire

I had to read this a couple of times and am glad I took my time with it…

“To know and to love God directly is to come to know what we are. All true Christian prayer also presupposes the further step, that there are things He will have from us and that some of our responses are true and authentic responses to His love and others are not. Prayer is an attempt to get ourselves into that active co-operation with God where we may discern what is authentic and be made ready to carry it out.

With our increased knowledge about the continuous reorganization of life that goes on in the depths of the unconscious, the impressive definition of prayer as the soul’s sincere desire has appeared. In this sense the fearful person prays by his acts of withdrawal, of cringing, of brooking, of distrust; and the person of faith prays by his or her openness, freedom, readiness to take risks, trust of the future. Both pray by these acts even though they are not conscious of them as prayer. There is a large measure of truth in this interpretation. For many forms of prayer do send down into the unconscious positive imagery, positive resolutions, positive incentives to action. And these forms of prayer would willingly recognize that these elements operate within the unconscious to aid, and to bring into fruition in the life of inward desire what is begun above the threshold of consciousness, what is intentionally and consciously sought after in prayer. Yet since this deep unconscious intention of the soul is able to be reached and affected by consciously directed intention, prayer in this sense becomes not merely the soul’s sincere desire, but prayer is the process of intentionally turning the focus of the soul’s sincere desire upon the active nature of the Divine Love and by every device with its power holding it there until it becomes engaged.”
~Douglas Steere

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Get Excited About Going To Church

This is a great word picture:

“Enemy-occupied territory-that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends…”
~C. S. Lewis

Friday, May 29, 2009

Silence

"If I could prescribe only one remedy for all the ills of the modern world, I would prescribe silence. For even if the word of God were spoken in our world, it could not be heard – there is too much noise. Therefore, create silence."
~Søren Kierkegaard

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What Marriage Is About

He ordered one hamburger, one order of French fries and one drink. The old man unwrapped the plain hamburger and carefully cut it in half.

He placed one half in front of his wife.

He then carefully counted out the French fries, dividing them into two piles and neatly placed one pile in front of his wife.

He took a sip of the drink, his wife took a sip and then set the cup down between them. As she began to eat her few bites of hamburger, the people around them kept looking over and whispering.

You could tell they were thinking, "That poor old couple - all they can afford is one meal for the two of them."

As the woman began to eat her fries a young man came to the table. He politely offered to buy another meal for the old couple. The old man said they were just fine - they were used to sharing everything.

The surrounding people noticed the old man hadn't eaten a bite. He sat there watching his wife eat and occasionally taking turns sipping the drink.

Again the young man came over and begged them to let him buy another meal for them. This time the old woman said "No, thank you, we are used to sharing everything."

As the little old woman finished and was wiping her face neatly with the napkin, the young man again came over to the old man who had yet to eat a single bite of food and asked "What is it you are waiting for?"

He answered

"THE TEETH."

~Unknown

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Devotion

“Devotion, is simply the promptitude, fervour, affection, and agility which we have in the service of God: and there is a difference between a good man and a devout man; for he is a good man who keeps the commandments of God, although it be without great promptitude or fervour; but he is devout who not only observes them but does so willingly, promptly, and with a good heart.”
~St. Francis De Sales

“The life of devotion will grow in this steadiness and in this agility. Those who possess it are often plain people. They often bear scars. They may have been at one time very difficult personalities. There is a striking realism in their recognition of the power of the destructive forces that dissipate and divide life, of the cleft between the ideal and the real. Yet they seem to see beneath the cleft, to be confident that it can be healed, and to turn up at unexpected moments, prepared for action. For them marriage, and birth, and the family, and the community, and work, and the seasons, and even suffering and death are good – for they, too, are related to the center. These men and women seem to be living from within outwards and to be inwardly awake and alive. They are far from perfect in their conduct, but they usually know where they are weak and they are not led to conceal it from themselves or to be unnerved by it. They are teachable. And they seem to be extremely well satisfied with their schoolmaster.”
~Douglas Steere

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Very Center and Art of Prayer

“Now, intellect and feeling are not wholly in our control. They fluctuate from day to day, from hour to hour; they are dependent on many delicate adjustments. Sometimes we are mentally dull, sometimes we are emotionally flat. On such occasions it is notoriously useless to try to beat ourselves up to a froth: to make ourselves think more deeply or make ourselves care more intensely.

If the worth of our prayer life depended upon the maintenance of a constant high level of feeling or understanding, we would be in a dangerous place. Though these often seem to fail us, the reigning will remains. Even when our heart is cold and our mind is dim, prayer is still possible to us. ‘Our wills are ours, to make them Thine.’

The determined fixing of our will upon God, and pressing toward Him steadily and without deflection; this is the very center and the art of prayer. The most theological of thoughts soon becomes inadequate; the most spiritual of emotions is only a fairweather breeze. Let the ship take advantage of it by all means, but not rely on it. She must be prepared to beat to windward if she would reach her goal.”
~Evelyn Underhill

Monday, May 25, 2009

What is Uglier than War?

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing that is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
~John Stewart Mill

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine.

~Katharine L. Bates

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Funny? Sad? Both? Neither?

“I can picture a world without war. A world without hate. A world without fear. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they’d never expect it.”
~Jack Handey

Friday, May 22, 2009

You Reading This: Stop

For those of you who will be out enjoying God's creation in the foreseeable future:

You Reading This: Stop

Don’t just stay tangled up in your life.
Out there in some river or cave where you
could have been, some absolute, lonely
dawn may arrive and begin the story
that means what everything is about.

So don’t just look, either:
let your whole self drift like a breath and learn
its way down through the trees. Let that fine
waterfall-smoke filter its gone, magnified presence
all through the forest. Stand here till all that
you were can wander away and come back slowly,
carrying a strange new flavor into your life.
Feel it? That’s what we mean. So don’t just
read this – rub your thought over it.

Now you can go on.

~William Stafford

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Water

For those of you who will be on, in, or near the water in the foreseeable future:

“Every fact in nature is a revelation of God. It is such as it is because God is such as He is.

The water itself, that dances, and sings, and slakes the wonderful thirst…
…this lovely thing itself, whose very wetness is a delight to every inch of the human body in its embrace - this live thing which, if I might, I would have running through my room, yea, babbling along my table - this water is its own self its own truth, and is therein a truth of God.

Let him who would know the love of the Maker become sorely of thirst and drink of the brook by the way and then lift up his head – not at that moment to the Maker of oxygen and hydrogen – but to the Inventor and Mediator of thirst and water. And then the man will foresee a little of what his soul will find in God.”
~George MacDonald

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Uncreated One

“O God who art from eternity unto eternity, and art not at one time in one place because all times and places are in Thee, I would now seek to understand my destiny as a child of Thine. Here I stand, weak and mortal, amid the immensities of nature. But blessed be Thou, O Lord God, that Thou hast made me in Thine own likeness and hast breathed into me the breath of Thine own life. Within this corruptible Thou has planted incorruption and within this mortal immortality. So from this little room and this short hour I can lift up my mind beyond all time and space to Thee, the uncreated One, until the light of Thy countenance illumines all my life.
Amen.”
~John Baillie

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Media/Culture

Could this be true? Is it worse today? I heard this in a scholarly lecture recently…

An American poll by the Worthland Group in Baltimore in the 90’s asked Americans about their moral and religious values and it compared a cross-section of Americans with the media establishment.

Some results:
55% of Americans say they attend religious services regularly
9% of media people do

82% of Americans thought abortion was at least sometimes morally wrong
3% of media people do

5% of Americans believe it is moral to commit adultery
49% of media people do

I wonder what the percentages are at present…

The following more recent quote is from a lecture about 11 years after the above poll was taken:

“I think there are four states you can be in, in relation to your culture. The best state would be, in a good and happy culture, you’re at peace and you deserve it and you enjoy it. The worst state would be you have been defeated and there is no hope. There are two states between those two – going up and going down. Going down from a peaceful, wise, happy, and successful culture into decline and trying to hold the culture together against this decline. That’s a rather unhappy state. That’s a state of fighting defensive wars against the barbarians outside the gates who are coming in.

I think we’re in none of those three positions. I think we are in a fourth position. I think we are now the barbarians outside the gates. I think the culture has declined to a point where, for all practical purposes, our public culture is pagan, is non-Christian.

So, being an adolescent who never grew up, I welcome the opportunity to be the bad guys on the attack, the rebels...
...and we’re going to win. We’re moving up.”
~Peter Kreeft (Kreeft is a Christian apologist/philosopher)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Attitude

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind."
~William James

"Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
~Abraham Lincoln

"I have learned how to be content with whatever I have."
~Philippians 4:11

Sunday, May 17, 2009

For Over-Thinkers

You never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.

~Irish Proverb

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fight

“As part of Christ’s army, you march in the ranks of gallant spirits. Every one of your fellow soldiers is the child of a King. Some, like you, are in the midst of battle, besieged on every side by affliction and temptation. Others, after many assaults, repulses, and rallyings of their faith, are already standing upon the wall of heaven as conquerors. From there they look down and urge you, their comrades on earth, to march up the hill after them. This is their cry: ‘Fight to the death and the City is your own, as now it is ours!’”
~William Gurnall

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Warrior-Heart

“For years all my daily energy was spent trying to beat the trials in my life and arrange for a little pleasure. My weeks were wasted away either striving or indulging. I was a mercenary. A mercenary fights for pay, for his own benefit; his life is devoted to himself. ‘The quality of a true warrior,’ says Bly, ‘is that he is in service to a purpose greater than himself; that is, to a transcendent cause.’ …that is the secret of the warrior-heart of Jesus.”
~John Eldredge

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fervors

C. S. Lewis (in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer) is expressing his disappointment in the fact that people have improper expectations related to God’s blessings. Specifically, he is here writing about people who try to revive the fervors from the golden days of their conversion or during times of significant growth/blessings.

He says, “…But were those fervors – the operative word is those – ever intended to last? It would be rash to say that there is any prayer which God never grants. But the strongest candidate is the prayer we might express in the single word encore. And how should the Infinite repeat Himself? All space and time are too little for Him to utter Himself in them once.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Don't Get Caught Up in Your Thoughts

“…Cast aside regret and fear to do the deed at hand. …thought lives in the past of regrets and in the future of fears; whereas choice and action live in the present of the deed at hand. Almost never is our moral problem knowing what to do. Almost always, it is doing it. William Law says, in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, ‘If you will be utterly honest with yourself, you must confess that there is one and only one reason why you are not as saintly as the primitive Christians, the martyrs. You do not wholly want to be.’

We rightly want to look before we leap physically. But, we must leap before we look spiritually. Isaiah says, ‘If you do not believe, you will not understand.’ Faith and the works of love cannot wait for knowledge. Knowledge must wait for them. We cannot see God or the good before we are pure of heart because the heart is the very eye with which we see God.”
~Peter Kreeft
(this was typed from a lecture – any grammatical errors are mine)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

~Au­gus­tus Top­la­dy

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

The following is in honor of my mother and my wife. They are beautiful mothers and the depth of their love will always be a mystery. God knows... He understands...

Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that suppose to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing.
~Toni Morrison

A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.
~Victor Hugo

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.
~Tenneva Jordan

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.
~Charles Swindoll

Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.
~Marion Garretty

Really great moral teachers never do introduce new moralities: it is quacks and cranks who do that… The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see.
~C. S. Lewis

The mother loves her child most divinely, not when she surrounds him with comfort and anticipates his wants, but when she resolutely holds him to the highest standards and is content with nothing less than his best.
~Hamilton Wright Mabie

I regard no man as poor who has a godly mother.
~Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, May 9, 2009

How Firm a Foundation

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

~Rippon’s Selection of Hymns, 1787

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Dark Side

“You know, as surely as you know the pain of a hangover or a headache, that every time you worship the creature instead of the Creator, every time you give your deepest heart and love and hope to any other god but God, this false god always cracks and crumbles into dust, always. You know that the pleasures this false god gives are only temporary. And that even when they come, they spoil all other pleasures like a drug destroying the enjoyment of other food.

And you also know as surely as you know a hot bath or a cold shower, what happens whenever you give your whole heart and life to God. All creatures light up with the light of the true Son. When you worship the creature, the lights of all creatures turn to darkness. When you worship the Creator, all creatures flameout with beauty. You know that. And yet you find it terribly difficult to obey the first commandment of sanity; to love the Lord God with all your heart. How much more insane could you possibly be? What is more insane than preferring misery to joy?"
~Peter Kreeft

“It is because we are standing on our heads that Christ’s philosophy seems upside down.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Deep Self

“Grace is given us for the precise purpose of enabling us to discover and actualize our deepest and truest self, which is hidden with Christ in God. Unless we find this deep self, we will never know ourselves as persons. Nor will we know God. For it is by the door of this deep self that we enter into the spiritual knowledge of God.”
~Thomas Merton

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Survival Course

This is the grip, like this:
both hands. You can close
your eyes if you like. When I say,
“Now,” it’s time. Don’t wait
or it’s all over. But not
too soon, either – just right.
Don’t worry. Let’s go.
Both hands.

~William Stafford

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

If I Had My Life To Live Over Again

If I had my life to live over again, I’d try
to make more mistakes next time.
I would relax, I would limber up, I would be sillier
than I have been this trip.
I know of very few things I would take seriously.
I would take more trips. I would be crazier.
I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers,
and watch more sunsets.
I would do more walking and looking.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would have more actual troubles, and fewer
imaginary ones.
You see, I’m one of those people who lives life
prophylactically and sensibly hour after hour,
day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I
had to do it over again I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else, just moments,
one after another, instead of living so many years
ahead each day. I’ve been one of those people
who never go anywhere without a thermometer, a
hot-water bottle, a gargle, a raincoat, aspirin, and
a parachute.
If I had to do it over again I would go places, do
things, and travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over I would start barefooted
earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.
I would play hookey more.
I wouldn’t make such good grades, except by accident.
I would ride on more merry-go-rounds.
I’d pick more daisies.
~From an Anonymous Friar (in a monastery in Nebraska)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Reflection

"When I take the words that strike me during a service into the day and slowly repeat them while reading or working, more or less chewing on them, they create new life. Sometimes when I wake up during the night I am still saying them, and they become like wings carrying me above the moods and turbulences of the days and the weeks."
~Henri Nouwen

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Moved in Infinite Love

“…You are not like us; if we are to preserve only some degree of constancy, we must not permit ourselves too much to be moved, nor by too many things. You on the contrary are moved, and moved in infinite love, by all things. Even that which we human beings call an insignificant trifle, and pass by unmoved, the need of a sparrow, even this moves You; and what we so often scarcely notice, a human sigh, this moves You, You who are unchangeable! You who in infinite love do submit to be moved, may this our prayer also move You to add Your blessing, in order that there may be brought about such a change in us who pray as to bring us into conformity with Your unchangeable will, You who are unchangeable!”
~Søren Kierkegaard

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Face of Christ

He shares a room outside with a dozen other guys
And the only roof he knows is that sometimes starry sky
A tattered sleeping bag on a concrete slab is his bed
And it’s too cold to talk tonight
So I just sit with him instead and think

[Chorus]
How did I find myself in a better place
I can’t look down on the frown on the other guy’s face
‘Cause when I stoop down low, look him square in the eye
I get a funny feeling, I just might be dealing
With the face of Christ

After sixteen years in a cold, gray prison yard
Somehow his heart is soft, but keeping simple faith is hard
He lays his Bible open on the table next to me
And as I hear his humble prayer
I feel his longing to be free someday

[Chorus]

See you had no choice which day you would be born
Or the color of your skin, or what planet you’d be on
Would your mind be strong, would your eyes be blue or brown
Whether daddy would be rich, or if momma stuck around at all

So if you find yourself in a better place
You can’t look down on the frown on the other guy’s face
You gotta stoop down low, look him square in the eye
And get a funny feeling, ‘cause you might be dealing ...

[Chorus]

With the face of Christ…

~Song by Chris Rice

Friday, May 1, 2009

It’s Like This

It’s like this – time opens
a door here. You find yourselves alone. That’s when
in this big room that sound begins again.
To get away you have to come here and hide
as if you belong here, looking casually away.
You see, it’s that sound. It starts almost like silence,
then an excited, repressed voice. Then
louder, faster. You have to look around,
get away, get out of here. You can’t
bear to listen for long, it’s too intense.
But you have to find if it still goes on,
after these years. You see, there is something
beyond music. If you get there, you look around
quickly before the air breaks up into those
pieces of glass, the hail with claws in it.
People who find that sound shake from sympathy,
and what they held off for long can leap upon them
and put the ultimate blade into their hearts,
you see, and then twist, like this.

~William Stafford