Monday, August 31, 2009

The Living God

"He is the living God, that clothes the earth with grass and herbs, causes the trees to grow and bring forth food for you, and makes the fishes of the sea to breathe and live. He makes the fowls of the air to breed and causes the buck and the doe, the creatures, and all the beasts to bring forth whereby they may be food for you. He is the living God, that causes the sun to give warmth to you, to nourish you when you are cold. He is the living God, that causes the snow and frost to melt and causes the rain to water the plants. He is the living God, that made heaven and earth, the clouds, causes the springs to break out of the rocks, and divided the great sea from the earth. He divides the light from the darkness, by which it is called day and the darkness night, and divided the great waters from the earth, gathered them together, which great waters He called sea and the dry land earth. He is to be worshiped that does this. He is the living God that gives you breath, life, and strength and gives you beasts and cattle whereby you may be fed and clothed. He is the living God, and He is to be worshiped.

This is the King of kings and Lord of lords, in whose hand is the breath of all mankind."
~George Fox

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Do I Believe?

"The moment one asks oneself 'Do I believe?' all belief seems to go. I think this is because one is trying to turn round and look at something which is there to be used and work from--trying to take out one's eyes instead of keeping them in the right place and seeing with them. I find that happens about other matters as well as faith. In my experience only very robust pleasures will stand the question, 'Am I really enjoying this?' Or attention--the moment I begin thinking about my attention (to a book or lecture) I have ipso facto ceased attending."
~C. S. Lewis

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Focus on the Strengths

"Never compare yourself with others unless it be to advance your impression of them and lower your impression of yourself. St. Paul encouraged us to think more highly of others than we do of ourselves. Thus, it is beneficial to focus on the strengths of those around us in order to see our weaknesses more clearly.

When I look around, I see that one person is more learned than I, another person more frugal, another person who is more charitable, or perhaps less proud. If I am to be humble, I will not overlook their good virtues, or dismiss it, but rather, I will reflect upon them.

The truly humble person will not only look admirably at the strengths of others, but will also look with great forgiveness upon the weaknesses of others. The truly humble person will try to see how the sinful deeds done by others were committed because the person was unenlightened or misled, concluding that if the person had the same benefits and helps that he had, they would not have committed any such evil, but rather, would have done much good."
~Jeremy Taylor

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Opened and Closed

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."
~Helen Keller

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lord, from Your Hand

Lord, from Your hand I take the bread,
And from Your cup I drink the wine.
You serve forgiveness for my need.
You serve Your holy life for mine.

Now from Your lips I hear the words:
"This is My body and My blood."
I see the mercy in Your eyes.
I see the pain. I see the love.

I see the cross. I see Your face.
My God, what agony and grief!
I see You suffer as You die.
I hear You pray. It is for me.

O Jesus, Savior, Holy God!
I live and breathe in Your embrace!
Lord, every moment draw my heart
To love and serve You face to face.

Words: Ken Bible
Music: English Folk Melody

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Everything Matters

"The slightest movement affects the whole of nature; one stone can alter the whole sea. Likewise, in the realm of grace, the slightest action affects everything because of its consequences; therefore everything matters."
~Blaise Pascal

"...Every sin harms everyone in the Body, and every act of love and obedience to the Head helps every organ in the Body.
...say a loving and helpful word to your family, [and] some martyr three thousand miles and three hundred years away may receive enough grace to endure his trials because of you. And if instead you sin one more time this afternoon, that martyr may weaken, compromise and be broken. If there is a universal spiritual gravity, if we all help or harm each other, there must be some one straw that breaks the camel's back, one vote that decides the election.

Everything matters. There are no 'victimless crimes'. Every sin against Christ harms his Body and every member in it."
~Peter Kreeft

Monday, August 24, 2009

Parents Prayer

"O Heavenly Father, make me a better parent. Teach me to understand my children, to listen patiently to what they have to say, and to answer all their questions kindly. Keep me from interrupting them or contradicting them. Make me as courteous to them as I would have them be to me. Forbid that I should ever laugh at their mistakes, or resort to shame or ridicule when they displease me. May I never punish them for my own selfish satisfaction or to show my power. Let me not tempt my child to lie or steal. And guide me hour by hour that I may demonstrate by all I say and do that honesty produces happiness. Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me. And when I am out of sorts, help me, O Lord, to hold my tongue. May I ever be mindful that my children are children and I should not expect of them the judgment of adults. Let me not rob them of the opportunity to wait on themselves and to make decisions. Bless me with the bigness to grant them all their reasonable requests and the courage to deny them the privileges I know will do them harm. Make me fair and just and kind. And fit me, O Lord, to be loved and respected and imitated by my children. Amen"
~Abigail Van Buren

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Cost of Discipleship

“The ordinary idea which we all have before we become Christians is this. We take as a starting point our ordinary self with its various desires and interests. We then admit that something else−call it ‘morality’ or ‘decent behaviour’ or ‘the good of society’−has claims on this self; claims which interfere with its own desire. What we mean by ‘being good’ is giving in to those claims. Some of the things the ordinary self wanted to do turn out to be what we call ‘wrong’: well, we must give them up. Other things, which the self did not want to do, turn out to be what we call ‘right’: well, we shall have to do them. But we are hoping all the time that when all the demands have been met, the poor natural self will still have some chance, and some time, to get on with its own life and do what it likes. In fact, we are very like an honest man paying his taxes. He pays them all right, but he does hope that there will be enough left over for him to live on. Because we are still taking our natural self as the starting point.

As long as we are thinking that way, one or other of two results is likely to follow. Either we give up trying to be good, or else we become very unhappy indeed. For, make no mistake: if you are really going to try to meet all the demands made on the natural self, it will not have enough left over to live on. The more you obey your conscience, the more your conscience will demand of you. And your natural self, which is thus being starved and hampered and worried at every turn, will get angrier and angrier. In the end, you will either give up trying to be good, or else become one of those people who, as they say, ‘live for others’ but always in a discontented, grumbling way−always wondering why the others do not notice it more, and always making a martyr of yourself. And once you have become that you will be a far greater pest to anyone who has to live with you than you would have been if you had remained frankly selfish.

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Have over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked−the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’”
~C. S. Lewis

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Let Charity Begin At Home

“...Accompany me today, O Spirit invisible, in all my goings, but stay with me also when I am in my own home and among my kindred. Forbid that I should fail to show those nearest to me the sympathy and consideration which Thy grace enables me to show to others with whom I have to do. Forbid that I should refuse to my own household the courtesy and politeness which I think proper to show to strangers. Let charity today begin at home.
...Amen”
~John Baillie

Friday, August 21, 2009

The “Must I?” of Duty

“…Now, from all these forms of bondage the soul that enters fully into the blessed life of faith is entirely delivered. In the first place, service of any sort becomes delightful to it, because, having surrendered its will into the keeping of the Lord, He works in it to will and to do His good pleasure, and the soul finds itself really wanting to do the things God wants it to do.

It is always very pleasant to do the things we want to do, even if they are difficult to accomplish, or make our bodies tired. If our will is really set on a thing we view the obstacles that lie in the way of reaching it with a sublime indifference, and we laugh to ourselves at the idea of any opposition or difficulties which might hinder us. How many men have gone gladly to the ends of the world in search of worldly fortunes, or to fulfill worldly ambitions, and have scorned the thought of any ‘cross’ connected with it! How many mothers have congratulated themselves, and rejoiced over the honor done their sons in seeing them promoted to some place of power and usefulness in their country’s service, although it has involved perhaps years of separation, and a life of hardship for their dear ones! And yet these same men, and these very mothers, would have felt and said that they were taking up crosses too heavy almost to be borne, had the service of Christ required the same sacrifice of home, and friends, and worldly ease.

It is altogether the way we look at things, whether we think they are crosses or not. And I am ashamed to think that any Christian should ever put on a long face and shed tears over doing a thing for Christ which a worldly person would be only too glad to do for money.

What we need in the Christian life is to get believers to want to do God’s will as much as other people want to do their own will. And this is the idea of the Gospel. It is what God intended for us; and it is what He promised. In describing the new covenant in Hebrews 8: 6-13, He says it shall no more be the old covenant made on Sinai,—that is, a law given from the outside, controlling a man by force,—but it shall be a law written within, constraining us by love.

‘I will put my laws,’ He says, ‘into their minds, and write them on their hearts.’ This can mean nothing but that we shall love His law; for anything written in our hearts we must love. ‘And putting it into our minds’ is surely the same as God working in us to ‘will and to do of his good pleasure,’ and means that we shall will what God wills, and shall obey His sweet commands, not because it is our duty to do so, but because we ourselves want to do what He wants us to do.

…What you need to do, then dear Christian, if you are in bondage in the matter of service, is to put your will over completely into the hands of your Lord, surrendering to Him the entire control of it. Say, ‘Yes, Lord, YES!’ to everything, and trust Him so to work in you to will as to bring your whole wishes and affections into conformity with His own sweet, and lovable, and most lovely will.

I have seen this done often in cases where it looked beforehand an utterly impossible thing. In one case, where a lady had been for years rebelling fearfully against a little act of service which she knew was right, but which she hated, I saw her, out of the depths of despair, and without any feeling whatever, give her will in that matter up in to the hands of her Lord, and begin to say to Him, ‘Thy will be done; Thy will be done!’ And in one short hour that very thing began to look sweet and precious to her.

Many Christians, as I have said, love God’s will in the abstract, but carry great burdens in connection with it. From this also there is deliverance in the wonderful life of faith. For in this way of life no burdens are carried, no anxieties felt. The Lord is our burden-bearer, and upon Him we must lay off every care. He says, in effect, ‘Be careful for nothing, but make your requests known to me, and I will attend to them all.’

Be careful for nothing, He says, not even your service. Why? Because we are so utterly helpless that no matter how careful we were, our service would amount to nothing! What have we to do with thinking whether we are fit or not fit for service? The Master-workman surely has a right to use any tool He pleases for His own work, and it is plainly not the business of the tool to decide whether it is the right one to be used or not. He knows; and if He chooses to use us, of course we must be fit. And in truth, if we only knew it, our chief fitness is in our utter helplessness. His strength is made perfect, not in our strength, but in our weakness. Our strength is only a hindrance.”
~Hannah Whitall Smith

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Temptations Abounding

"But in this work [preaching], as in any other, I had my different temptations. Sometimes I would suffer from discouragement, fearing that I would not be of any help to anyone and that I would not even be able to speak sense to the people. At such times I have had a strange faintness seize me. At other times I have been assaulted by thoughts of blasphemy before the congregation.

Again, there have been times when I have been about to preach on some searching portion of the Word and I have found the Tempter suggesting, 'What! Will you preach this? This condemns you. Your own soul is guilty of this, you must not preach on it. If you do, you must leave the door open for you to escape from the guilt of what you will say. If you preach like this, you will lay that guilt upon your own soul and you will never be able to get out from under it.'

I've been kept from consenting to these horrid suggestions and instead have preached against sin and transgression wherever I found it, even though it did bring guilt upon my own conscience. It is far better to bring oneself under condemnation by plain preaching to others, than to save yourself by imprisoning the truth in unrighteousness. Blessed be God for His help also in this."
~John Bunyan

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Out of a Dream

Out of a dream I came--
Woeful with sinister shapes,
Hollow sockets aflame,
The mouth that gapes
With cries, unheard, of the dark;
The bleak, black night of the soul;
Sweating, I lay in my bed,
Sick of the wake for a goal.

And lo--Earth's close-shut door,
Its panels a cross, its key
Of common and rusting iron,
Opened, and showed to me
A face--found; lost--of old:
Of a lifetime's longing the sum;
And eyes that assuaged all grief:
"Behold! I am come."
~Walter de la Mare

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

King of kings and Lord of lords

"Now there is no subject, loved ones, that is so able to humble us where we need to be humbled, to enlarge our minds when they become puny, to comfort our souls in the midst of great difficulty - there is no subject that is able to do this in the way that a devout consideration of the existence and attributes of God will do."
~Alistair Begg

"He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen."
~1 Timothy 6: 15b-16

Sunday, August 16, 2009

How Do You End The Day?

"At evening when you prepare thyself to take thy rest meditate on these few points. That seeing that thy days are numbered there is one more of thy number spent and that thou art now nearer to thy end by a day. Sit down awhile before you go to bed and consider with yourself what memorable thing thou hast seen, heard, or read that day - more than thou so hast heardest or knewest before and make the best use of them. But especially call to mind what sin thou hast committed that day against God or man and what good thou hast omitted and humble thyself for both. If thou findest that thou hast done any goodness, acknowledge it to be God's grace and give Him the glory and count that day lost wherein thou hast not done some good. If by frailty or strong temptation thou shalt perceive that thou hast committed any grievous sin or fault, presume not to sleep till thou have upon thy knees made a particular reconciliation with God in Christ both by confessing the fault and by fervently praying for pardon - thus making thy score even with Christ every night. Thou shalt have the less to account for when thou art to make thy final reckoning before His majesty in the Judgment Day. And if thou hast fallen out with any in the day, let not the sun go down on thine anger that night."
~L. Bailey
(I typed this from a sermon I heard online. Any grammatical errors are mine)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Look

"Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes
-The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries."
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Grace

Grace, she takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name

Grace, it's a name for a girl
It's also a thought that changed the world
And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness in everything

Grace, she's got the walk
Not on a ramp or on chalk
She's got the time to talk
...When she goes to work
You can hear her strings
Grace finds beauty in everything

Grace, she carries a world on her hips
No champagne flute for her lips
No twirls or skips between her fingertips
She carries a pearl in perfect condition

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things

~Lyrics/Song by U2

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Presence of a Savior

"Jesus is a God whom we can approach without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair."
~Blaise Pascal

"Without Christ we are sinners without a Savior standing before the face of absolute holiness and infinite, uncompromisable justice. If we do not despair at this, we are proud fools. If we are not proud fools, we despair.

We can approach Christ without pride because it is his command for us to approach him; we approach him out of obedience, which is humility. And we can approach Christ without despair for the same reason: because he invites us.

Thus just as both pride and despair stem from the same source--the lack of a Savior--so our overcoming of pride and of despair also stems from the same source--the presence of a Savior."
~Peter Kreeft

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Transcend

"While the saints are citizens of their times - what else could they be? - they have a knack for transcending the myopias and smallnesses of the concrete circumstances in which all of us live. They are always up to date because their vision and love are rooted in eternity. Despite the trivialities of time and place, they love their fellowmen far more than the worldly possibly could, because they are immersed in the Origin who makes lovable any loveableness anywhere."
~Thomas Dubay

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Widespread Mercy

"In prayer itself there is no fixed order, but both a primary impulse and the experience of praying people show that the first stage may be thanksgiving.

A lecturer to a group of businessmen displayed a sheet of white paper on which was one blot. He asked what they saw. All answered, 'A blot.' The test was unfair: it invited the wrong answer. Nevertheless, there is an ingratitude in human nature by which we notice the black disfigurement and forget the widespread mercy.

We need deliberately to call to mind the joys of our journey. Perhaps we should try to write down the blessings of one day. We might begin: we could never end: there are not pens or paper enough in all the world. The attempt would remind us of our 'vast treasure of content.'

...the prayer of thanksgiving should be quite specific: 'I thank Thee for this friendship, this threat overpassed, this signal grace.' 'For all Thy mercies' is a proper phrase for a general collect, but not a private gratitude. If we are 'thankful for everything,' we may end by being thankful for nothing.

The thanksgiving should also probe deep, asking, 'What are life's abiding mercies?' Thus gratitude would be saved from earthliness and circumstance, and rooted in Life beyond life. 'Count your many blessings,' says the old hymn, 'and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.' This prayer should end in glad and solemn resolve: 'Lord, seal this gratitude upon my face, my words, my generous concern for my neighbors, my every outward thought and act.'"
~George Buttrick

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The School of Charity

"My Lord!" says St. Thomas, seeing, touching, and measuring the Holiness so meekly shown to him in his own crude terms; and then, passing beyond that sacramental revelation to the unseen, untouched, unmeasured, uttering the word every awakened soul longs to utter - "My God!" The very heart of the Christian revelation is disclosed in that scene.

So it is that the real mark of spiritual triumph is not an abstraction from this world, but a return to it; a willing use of its conditions as material for the expression of love. There is nothing high-minded about Christian holiness. It is most at home in the slum, the street, the hospital ward: and the mysteries through which its gifts are distributed are themselves chosen from among the most homely realities of life. A little water, some fragments of bread, and a chalice of wine are enough to close the gap between two worlds; and give soul and senses a trembling contact with the Eternal Charity. By means of these its creatures, that touch still cleanses, and that hand still feeds. The serene, unhurried, self-imparting which began before Gethsemane continues still. Either secretly or sacramentally, every Christian is a link in the chain of perpetual penitents and perpetual communicants through which the rescuing Love reaches out to the world. Perhaps there is no more certain mark of a mature spirituality than the way in which those who possess it are able to enter a troubled situation and say, "Peace," or turn from the exercise of heroic love to meet the humblest needs of men.
~Evelyn Underhill

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pain

"...I have never for one moment been in a state of mind to which even the imagination of serious pain was less than intolerable. If any man is safe from the danger of under-estimating this adversary, I am that man. I must add, too, that the only purpose of the book is to solve the intellectual problem raised by suffering; for the far higher task of teaching fortitude and patience I was never fool enough to suppose myself qualified, nor have I anything to offer my readers except my conviction that when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all."
~From The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Love/Charity

I came across these two quotes recently. They could be viewed by some as controversial and I am still thinking about them. Hopefully there is something in them worth reading. They are very convicting:

"Love for God and love for the world cannot coexist in the same soul: the stronger drives out the weaker, and it soon appears who loves the world, and who follows Christ. The strength of people's love is shown in what they do.

The devil has got hold of many whom we count good. For he possesses those who are merciful, chaste, and humble--self-confessed sinners to a man, of course, hair-shirted and penance-laden! Very often indeed are mortal wounds obscured by the odor of sanctity.

The devil may have the busy worker, or even the compelling preacher, but not, surely the person whose heart is aglow with charity, ever eager to love God and indifferent to vanity. The eager love of the wicked, on the other hand, is always for what is shameful. They have ceased from all spiritual exercise, or at least are flabby and feeble. Their love has no pattern, being given more to things that are of this world than of the next, more to bodies than to souls."
~Richard Rolle

"Salvation is shown to faith, it is prepared for hope, but it is given only to charity."
~St. Francis De Sales

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Suffering

"The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His."
~George MacDonald