Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Empathy

"Since we were children once, the roots for our empathy are already planted within us. We've known what it was like to feel small and powerless, helpless and confused. When we can feel something of what our children might be feeling, it will help us begin to figure out what our children need from us."
~Fred Rogers

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Thousandth Time

"There is a law written in the darkest of the Books of Life, and it is this: If you look at a thing nine hundred and ninety-nine times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it the thousandth time, you are in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time."
~From The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G. K. Chesterton

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Human House

"We cannot insist that every trick of nerves or train of thought is important enough to be searched for in libraries and laboratories, and not important enough for anybody to watch by simply staying at home. We cannot insist that the first years of infancy are of supreme importance, and that mothers are not of supreme importance; or that motherhood is a topic of sufficient interest for men, but not of sufficient interest for mothers. Every word that is said about the tremendous importance of trivial nursery habits goes to prove that being a nurse is not trivial. All tends to the return of the simple truth that the private work is the great one and the public work the small. The human house is a paradox, for it is larger inside than out."
~G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Faith vs. Reason

"The troublesome fact, the apparent absurdity which can't be fitted into any synthesis we have yet made, is precisely the one we must not ignore. Ten to one, it's in that covert that the fox is lurking."
~C. S. Lewis

"Reason comes along and closes over the covert, denies it, ignores it, explains it away. Faith comes along confronts impossibility, things that are supra-rational and says I cannot ignore it, I cannot deny it, I must wrestle with it. For it is probably here that one of the great keys to God's purpose is to be found."
~Alistair Begg

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Give

"One can give without loving, but one cannot love without giving."
~Amy Carmichael

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tech-Reliant

"Today's children have grown within a tech-friendly climate and find comfort in technology, not fear. But the two most accessed Internet categories are porn and dating. Technology creates relational hunger.
Unfortunately, few children's ministries help families navigate technological landmines. Human engineering, bioterror, and identity theft will continue to flourish. In this polluted cultural swamp, children grow. A positive approach is to inoculate children against offensive content. Rather than avoiding the culture or immersing our children into it, stay alert for golden teaching moments."
~Rick Chromey

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

With Us

"Would I like to have the gift rescinded? Of course! Yet, in the strangest level of my self I know that it is a gift nonetheless. How else do we know God's rescue unless we have been drowning? Can healing be demonstrated without injury, or love be proven without trial? Still, there is an ache within me that cries out: what of those who were not protected, who are left unhealed, who do not know love?
The reply is articulated by--and can only be articulated by--God dying with us on our cross."
~From Island of the World by Michael O’Brien

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Providence and Power of God

"The first time I saw Brother Lawrence was on the 3rd of August, 1666. He told me that God had done him a singular favor in his conversion at the age of eighteen. During that winter, upon seeing a tree stripped of its leaves and considering that, within a little time, the leaves would be renewed and, after that, the flowers and fruit appear; Brother Lawrence received a high view of the providence and power of God which has never since been effaced from his soul. This view had perfectly set him free from the world and kindled in him such a love for God, that he could not tell whether it had increased in the forty years that he had lived since."
~Joseph de Beaufort

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Meditate On This...

"...let me now meditate upon the great and gracious plan by which Thou hast brought it to pass that a mortal man like me should look up to Thee and call Thee Father."
~John Baillie

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Value of Myth in The Lord of the Rings

Excerpt from C. S. Lewis's review of The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien:

"...The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which had been hidden by 'the veil of familiarity.' The child enjoys his cold meat (otherwise dull to him) by pretending it is buffalo, just killed with his bow and arrow. And the child is wise. The real meat comes back to him more savoury for having been dipped in a story; you might say that only then is it the real meat. If you are tired of the real landscape, look at it in a mirror. By putting bread, gold, horse, apple, or the very roads into a myth, we do not retreat from reality: we rediscover it. As long as the story lingers in our mind, the real things are more themselves. This book applies the treatment not only to bread or apple but to good and evil, to our endless perils, our anguish, and our joys. By dipping them in myth we see them more clearly.

This book is too original and too opulent for any final judgment... But we know at once that it has done things to us. We are not quite the same men."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Take Time to Be Holy

Verse 3
Take time to be holy,
let Him be thy guide,
and run not before Him,
whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow,
still follow the Lord,
and, looking to Jesus,
still trust in His word.

Verse 4
Take time to be holy,
be calm in thy soul,
each thought and each motive
beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit
to fountains of love,
thou soon shalt be fitted
for service above.

Text: William Longstaff
Music: George Stebbins

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Word from Aslan

"Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters."
~C. S. Lewis (from The Silver Chair)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Widow of Zarephath

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you." So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, "Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink." As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, "Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." But she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." Elijah said to her, "Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth." She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
~I Kings 17:8-16

Friday, September 11, 2009

Story-Boarding the Great Story

“Once upon a time there was a purple ... ”

We reach toward the next word, don’t we? A purple bear? A purple boy? If it continues, “a purple urple” it’s going to be a very different story than, “a purple spot on her lip that both repulsed and intrigued Ferdinand.”

Great story thrusts us into another world. Our imagination stirs, we can “see” it unfolding; we wonder how it will end. We hope that the storyteller won’t let us down.

As I practice telling the story of Jesus, I’m aware that different listeners need different stories.

Many Christians reduce the epic story of Jesus to just one part. About the only part we ever tell is the guilt/grace story. We say, “Jesus can save you from your sins.” That is a story of amazing grace, and we should keep on telling it, but it’s not the whole story.

Other stories we need to have “at the ready”:

1. The Healing Story — Jesus can bring healing to your body/mind/emotions.
2. The Meaning Story — Jesus can infuse significance into your life which is otherwise random, at best, and a cruel joke, at worst.
3. The Service Story — Jesus can send you on a sacrificial mission in life.
4. The Peace Story — Jesus conquers your anxieties with His peace.
5. The Love Story — Jesus loves you. Let that love wash over you.
6. The Transformation Story — Jesus can take what you have nearly wrecked and create a life of great beauty and usefulness.
7. The Holiness Story — Jesus can enable you to live above your damaging patterns by giving you perfect love.
8. The Hope Story — Jesus can plunge our shriveled hearts into a deep well of hope, hope based on Him, not on our performance.

Pick one and practice it ... tell it about yourself.
~David Roller

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Mystery of Jesus

I should probably save the following for Passion Week next year. However, I wanted to post it now so I could refer to it when I think that “I” have problems, feel lonely, feel misunderstood, am under duress, am going through trials, etc. This is a small taste as to why Scripture can say: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16). For me this helps to better understand Acts 5:41 – “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”
~Kevin

“Jesus suffers in His passion the torments inflicted upon Him by men, but in His agony He suffers the torments which He inflicts on Himself. He was troubled. This punishment is inflicted by no human, but an almighty hand, and only He that is almighty can bear it.

Jesus seeks some comfort at least from His three dearest friends, and they sleep: He asks them to bear with Him a while, and they abandon Him with complete indifference, and with so little pity that it did not keep them awake even for a single moment. And so Jesus was abandoned to face the wrath of God alone.

Jesus is alone on earth, not merely with no one to feel and share His agony, but with no one even to know of it. Heaven and He are the only ones to know.

Jesus is in a garden, not of delight, like the first Adam, who there fell and took with him all mankind, but of agony, where He has saved Himself and all mankind.

He suffers this anguish and abandonment in the horror of the night.

I believe that this is the only occasion on which Jesus ever complained. But then He complained as though He could no longer contain His overflowing grief: ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.’

Jesus seeks companionship and solace from men.

It seems to me that this is unique in His whole life, but He finds none, for His disciples are asleep.

Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world. There must be no sleeping during that time.

Jesus, totally abandoned, even by the friends He had chosen to watch with Him, is vexed when He finds them asleep because of the dangers to which they are exposing not Him but themselves, and He warns them for their own safety and their own good, with warm affection in the face of their ingratitude. And warns them: ‘The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.’

Jesus finding them asleep again, undeterred by consideration either for Him or for themselves, is kind enough not to wake them up and lets them take their rest.

Jesus prays, uncertain of the will of the Father, and is afraid of death. But once He knows what it is, He goes to meet and offer Himself up. Let us be going. He went forth. (John) [XVIII.4]

Jesus asked of men and was not heard.

Jesus brought about the salvation of His disciples while they slept. He has done this for each of the righteous while they slept, in nothingness before their birth and in their sins after their birth.

He prays only once that the cup might pass from Him, even then submitting Himself to God’s will, and twice that it should come if it must be so.

Jesus weary at heart.

Jesus, seeing all His friends asleep and all His enemies watchful, commends Himself utterly to His Father.

Jesus disregards the enmity of Judas, and sees only in him God’s will, which He loves; so much so that He calls him friend.

Jesus tears Himself away from His disciples to enter upon His agony: we must tear ourselves away from those who are nearest and dearest to us in order to imitate Him.

While Jesus remains in agony and cruelest distress, let us pray longer.

We implore God’s mercy, not so that He shall leave us in peace with our vices, but so that He may deliver us from them.

If God gave us masters with His own hand, how gladly we ought to obey them! Necessity and events are infallibly such.

‘Take comfort; you would not seek me if you had not found me.’

‘I thought of you in my agony: I shed these drops of blood for you.’

‘It is tempting me rather than testing yourself to wonder if you would do right in the absence of this or that. I will do it in you if it happens.’

‘Let yourself be guided by my rules. See how well I guided the Virgin and the saints who let me work in them.’

‘The Father loves all I do.’

‘Do you want it always to cost me the blood of my humanity while you do not even shed a tear?’

‘My concern is for your conversion; do not be afraid, and pray with confidence as though for me.’

‘I am present with you through my word in Scripture, my spirit in the Church, through inspiration, my power in my priests, my prayer among the faithful.’

‘Physicians will not heal you, for you will die in the end, but it is I who will heal you and make your body immortal.’

‘Endure the chains and bondage of the body. For the present I am delivering you only from spiritual bondage.’

‘I am a better friend to you than this man or that, for I have done more for you than they, and they would never endure what I have endured from you, and they would never die for you, while you were being faithless and cruel, as I did, and as I am ready to do, and still do in my elect, and in the Blessed Sacrament.’

‘If you knew your sins, you would lose heart.’─‘In that case I shall lose heart, Lord, for I believe in their wickedness on the strength of your assurance.’─‘No, for I who tell you this can heal you, and the fact that I tell you is a sign that I want to heal you…’

‘I love you more ardently than you have loved your foulness…’

Do small things as if they were great, because of the majesty of Christ, who does them in us and lives our life, and great things as if they were small and easy, because of His almighty power.”
~Blaise Pascal

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Excerpt from The Island of the World

"Josip, tomorrow you will see a great thing", says his father as they rise by candlelight before dawn, putting on their clothes beside the stove while mother makes a fire. "You will see the waters of the Adriatic."

"Is it like a lake?" Josip asks. He has seen photographs of the ocean in one of his father's books, but it is hard to tell its size from them.

"Much bigger than a lake."

"How big is it, really, Tata?" he presses with earnest curiosity, for he believes that his father has an answer for everything.

"It is beyond measuring, Josip."

"Is it as big as the sky?"

"That is a difficult question. When you go there you will see that the sky above it is greater than the sky above our mountain."

Josip furrows his brow in concentration.

"This I do not understand!"

"You must see it with your own eyes and then you will understand."

The boy closes his eyelids and touches them with his fingertips.

"The sea will show you many things, Josip."

..."We will bring no books", the father answers. "Instead we will see with our own eyes what Odysseus saw. We will see the waters he sailed upon in Argo.

"Will we see monsters?"

"That is always possible."

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

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Infused Love, Deep Delight, and Peace

"The greatest of all commandments is before all else a prayer commandment. To have one's whole heart, soul and mind filled to overflowing with the love of God is to be filled with the highest prayer. The core and essence of the transforming union are nothing other than a complete identification with God in love.
...This love, says St. Paul, is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who is given to us. Love poured out is, of course, infused love--the two words mean the same thing. The psalmist who declares that he delights in nothing else on earth but his Lord further proclaims that his flesh and his heart are pining with love, that his joy is to be near God.

...The psalmist shouts that his heart exults and his soul rejoices in God, Who is before him always. Nothing can unsettle this singer to the Lord, and he knows that he will have unbounded joy in the divine presence, everlasting pleasures at his right hand. St. Paul admonishes the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord always and to experience a peace that is beyond all understanding. The infusion of divinely given strength, says Paul, comes from God's own glorious power, and it enables us to endure anything joyfully."
~Thomas Dubay

Monday, September 7, 2009

Content

"Life passes, with us all, a day at a time; so it passed with our friend Tom, till two years were gone. Though parted from all his soul held dear, and though often yearning for what lay beyond, still was he never positively and consciously miserable; for, so well is the harp of human feeling strung, that nothing but a crash that breaks every string can wholly mar its harmony; and, on looking back to seasons which in review appear to us as those of deprivation and trial, we can remember that each hour, as it glided, brought its diversions and alleviations, so that, though not happy wholly, we were not, either, wholly miserable.

Tom read, in his only literary cabinet, of one who had 'learned in whatsoever state he was, therewith to be content.' It seemed to him good and reasonable doctrine, and accorded well with the settled and thoughtful habit which he had acquired from the reading of that same book."
~Harriet Beecher Stowe (from Uncle Tom's Cabin)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Consider Christ

This is the last of the quotes from a book I have been reading where Peter Kreeft 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 apologist and professor of philosophy at Boston College and The King's College.

"Consider Jesus Christ in every person, and in ourselves. Jesus Christ as father in His father, Jesus Christ as brother in His brothers, Jesus Christ as poor in the poor, Jesus Christ as rich in the rich, Jesus Christ as priest and doctor in priests, Jesus Christ as sovereign in princes, etc. For by His glory He is everything that is great, being God, and by His mortal life He is everything that is wretched and abject. That is why He took on this unhappy condition, so that He could be in every person and a model for every condition of men."
~Blaise Pascal

"We can consider Him there only because He really is there. He is in His whole Body as your soul is in your whole body. We really do meet and touch and help or harm Christ in our neighbors. If we lived this one thought, we would convert and transform the world."
~Peter Kreeft

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Lion and the Stream

“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I─could I─would you mind going away while I do?,” said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.

The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

“Will you promise not to─do anything to me, if I do come?,” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.

Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.

Do you eat girls?,” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion.

It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!,” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.

~C. S. Lewis (from The Silver Chair)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A God of Battles

“It is true that there is something painful in beginning to practise piety, but this pain does not arise from the beginnings of piety within us, but from the impiety that is still there… We only suffer in so far as our natural vice resists supernatural grace: our heart feels torn between these contrary forces, but it would be very wrong to impute this violence to God, who draws us to Him, instead of attributing it to the world which holds us back. It is like a child snatched by its mother from the arms of robbers… The cruelest war that God can wage on men in this life is to leave them without the war He came to bring. ‘I came not to send peace but a sword,’ He said.
…Before His coming the world lived in a false peace.”
~Blaise Pascal

“The pains of piety are like the withdrawal symptoms when an addict goes clean and sober. God does not cause pain; sin causes pain. But the juxtaposition of God and sin also causes pain.

The surgeon who does not cut out the cancer is not kind but cruel. The God of mere kindness whom we long for, the Grandfather God who leaves us alone to enjoy ourselves rather than the Father God who constantly interrupts us and interferes with our lives is really not kind but cruel. (He is also nonexistent!) The ‘cruel’ God of the Bible is a God of battles. He fights a spiritual war for us against the demons of sin in us. This God is not cruel but kind, as kind as He can possibly be. The sword He comes to us with (Mt. 10:34) is a surgeon’s scalpel, and this Surgeon’s hands are covered with His own blood.”
~Peter Kreeft