Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Our Neighbor

"We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbor. Hence he comes to us clad in all the careless terrors of nature; he is as strange as the stars, as reckless and indifferent as the rain. He is Man, the most terrible of the beasts. That is why the old religions and the old scriptural language showed so sharp a wisdom when they spoke, not of one's duty towards humanity, but one's duty towards one's neighbor. The duty towards humanity may often take the form of some choice which is personal or even pleasurable. That duty may be a hobby; it may even be a dissipation. We may work in the East End because we are peculiarly fitted to work in the East End, or because we think we are; we may fight for the cause of international peace because we are very fond of fighting. The most monstrous martyrdom, the most repulsive experience may be the result of choice or kind of taste. We may be so made as to be particularly fond of lunatics or specially interested in leprosy... But we have to love our neighbor because he is there--a much more alarming reason for a much more serious operation. He is the sample of humanity which is actually given us. Precisely because he may be anybody he is everybody. He is a symbol because he is an accident."
~G. K. Chesterton

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Morning

"Blessed be Thou, most gracious God, that again Thou hast brought light out of darkness and caused the morning to appear!"
~John Baillie

Monday, October 26, 2009

fear vs. Christ

“Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that. People who refused to consult with or cower to their timidities did that.

…We hope for an easy ride through life once we meet Christ, smooth sailing on a crystal clear sea. But storms rise up. None of us can escape this inevitable fact─whether we are Christ-followers or not. It’s not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It’s whom we discover in the storm: an unstirred Christ. He handles our great quaking with a great calming.”
~Max Lucado

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Light By The Barn

The light by the barn that shines all night
pales at dawn when a little breeze comes.

A little breeze comes breathing the fields
from their sleep and waking the slow windmill.

The slow windmill sings the long day
about anguish and loss to the chickens at work.

The little breeze follows the slow windmill
and the chickens at work till the sun goes down—

Then the light by the barn again.

~William Stafford

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Self-Disclosure in Church

This is from something by Lynn Palmberg and Onas Scandrette as well as Patricia Quigley

"It is nothing short of tragic that many Christians are today finding more acceptance, support, and need fulfillment in secular encounter groups than they are in their churches. Someone once said that the church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. I wonder.

At church, this author admits, I find no signs of illness in those around me outfitted in Sunday-best shoes and smiles. We talk about what we are doing but we seldom talk about what we are feeling. We may tell about spiritual victory but we carefully camouflage defeats or struggles.

On the Sundays I arrive at church in acute need of spiritual healing, I feel alone and out of place in this atmosphere. I feel like a measle-spotted child in a nursery full of healthy youngsters. Once or twice I try to talk about my distress during a Sunday school class but sense a tension build around me as I describe my symptoms. When the fever of struggle or defeat hits me now, I simply remain silent and isolated from those around me who seem to know only perpetual good health. Fortunately, during my down times I have found a company of fellow strugglers in the Bible like David, like Job, Peter, Thomas, and Paul. They spoke honestly and movingly about their struggles. It is frustrating to know these men of the Bible better than people in my Sunday school class in church."
~Charles Swindoll
(This was typed from an audio sermon - any grammatical errors are mine)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Alive to God

Scripture: "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:11

"The person who feels in his heart the mighty working of the Spirit of God is conscious of a 'peace which passeth all understanding.' He feels 'the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto him'; and all his spiritual senses are then exercised to discern spiritual good and evil. By the use of these he is daily increasing in the knowledge of God. And now he may be properly said to live: God having quickened him by His Spirit, he is alive to God through Jesus Christ. He lives a life which the world knows not of, a 'life which is hid with Christ in God.' God is continually breathing, as it were, upon the soul; and his soul is breathing unto God. Grace is descending into his heart, and prayer and praise ascending to heaven: and by this intercourse between God and man, this fellowship with the Father and the Son, as by a kind of spiritual respiration, the life of God in the soul is sustained: and the child of God grows up, till he comes to the 'full measure of the stature of Christ.'"

Prayer: "O Glorious Jesus, in whom we live and without whom we die; quicken our hearts with Thy holy love, that we may no longer esteem the vanities of the world, but place our affections entirely on Thee, who didst die for our sins and rise again for our justification. Amen."
~John Wesley

Monday, October 19, 2009

Taste and See

1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt His name together!

4 I sought the LORD, and He answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to Him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear Him, and delivers them.

8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
~Psalm 34:1-8

Saturday, October 17, 2009

No One Should Be Proud

Chapter V. That no one should be proud, but rather glory in the Cross of the Lord
"Be attentive, oh man, to how many excellent things the Lord God has placed in you, since He created and formed you 'to the image' of His own Beloved Son according to the body 'and to (His) likeness' according to the spirit (cf. Gen. 1:26). And all the creatures, which are under heaven, after you serve, know and obey their Creator better than you. And even the demons did not crucify Him, but you with them have crucified Him and even now you crucify (Him) by delighting in vices and sins. Whence therefore can you glory? For if you were so subtle and wise that you had 'all knowledge' (cf. 1 Cor. 13:2) and knew how to interpret every 'kind of tongue' (cf. 1 Cor. 12:28) and to search subtly after celestial things, in all these things you cannot glory; since one demon knew of celestial things and now knows of earthly things more than all men, (even) granted that there has been someone, who received from the Lord a special understanding of the highest wisdom. Similarly even if you were more handsome and wealthy than all and even if you were working miracles, as would put demons to flight, all those things are injurious to you and nothing (about them) pertains to you and you can glory in them not at all. But in this we can glory, 'in' our 'infirmities' (cf. 2 Cor. 12:5) and bearing each day the Holy Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Lk. 14:27)."
~St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Saintly Living

"Last year an American Catholic bishop commissioned one of the priests of his diocese to write up recommendations for ways to increase the number of men seeking to fulfill a clerical vocation. The priest was young but wise and holy. He concluded his report this way: 'The best way to attract men in this diocese to the priesthood, Your Excellency, would be your canonization.' When we see a saint, we know the purpose of our own lives. Saints reproduce themselves simply by being what they are." (this quote is from a book written in 2002)
~Peter Kreeft

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More on New Birth

Scripture: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3

"Before a child is born into the world, he has eyes but sees not; he has ears but does not hear. As soon as he is born, he begins to see the light; his ears are then opened, and he hears; and all the other organs of sense begin to be exercised upon their proper objects. How exactly does the parallel hold! While a man is in a mere natural state, before he is born of God, he has, in a spiritual sense, eyes and sees not; he has ears but hears not. His other spiritual senses are locked up; he is in the same condition as if he had them not.

But as soon as he is born of God, there is a total change. The 'eyes of his understanding are opened'; he sees the light of the glory of God. His ears being opened, he is now capable of hearing the inward voice of God, saying, 'Be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee.'"

Prayer: "O Lord, seeing there is in Christ Jesus an infinite fullness of all that we can want or wish, O that we may all receive of His fullness, grace upon grace; grace to pardon our sins and subdue our iniquities; to justify our persons and to sanctify our souls. O make us partakers of the inheritance of thy saints. Amen"
~John Wesley

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Patience in the Routine

"I'll stay where You've put me; I will, dear Lord,
Though I wanted so badly to go;
I was eager to march with the 'rank and file,'
Yes, I wanted to lead them, You know.
I planned to keep step to the music loud,
To cheer when the banner unfurled,
To stand in the midst of the fight straight and proud,
But I'll stay where You've put me.

I'll stay where You've put me; I'll work, dear Lord,
Though the field be narrow and small,
And the ground be fallow, and the stones lie thick,
And there seems to be no life at all.
The field is Thine own, only give me the seed,
I'll sow it with never a fear;
I'll till the dry soil while I wait for the rain,
And rejoice when the green blades appear;
I'll work where You've put me.

I'll stay where You've put me, I will, dear Lord;
I'll bear the day's burden and heat,
Always trusting Thee fully; when even has come,
I'll lay heavy sheaves at Thy feet.
And then, when my earth work is ended and done,
In the light of eternity's glow,
Life's record all closed, I surely shall find
It was better to stay than to go;
I'll stay where You've put me."
~Mrs. Charles Cowman

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Birth

This entry is dedicated to my beautiful new daughter (she wouldn't be so beautiful without such a beautiful mother!). Our new little one certainly is a "Pearl of Good News."

"A young star! which shone
O'er life--too sweet an image, for such glass!
A lovely being, scarcely formed or moulded;
A rose with all its sweetest leaves yet folded."
~Harriet Beecher Stowe

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Strong Faith

"How long Tom lay there, he knew not. When he came to himself, the fire was gone out, his clothes were wet with the chill and drenching dews; but the dread soul-crisis was past, and, in the joy that filled him, he no longer felt hunger, cold, degradation, disappointment, wretchedness. From his deepest soul, he that hour loosed and parted from every hope in the life that now is, and offered his own will an unquestioning sacrifice to the Infinite. Tom looked up to the silent, ever-living stars,--types of the angelic hosts who ever look down on man; and the solitude of the night rang with the triumphant words of a hymn, which he had sung often in happier days, but never with such feeling as now:

'The earth shall be dissolved like snow,
The sun shall cease to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Shall be forever mine.

And when this mortal life shall fail,
And flesh and sense shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining like the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun.'

...When the dim gray of dawn woke the slumberers to go forth to the field, there was among those tattered and shivering wretches one who walked with an exultant tread; for firmer than the ground he trod on was his strong faith in Almighty, eternal love. Ah, Legree, try all your forces now! Utmost agony, woe, degradation, want, and loss of all things, shall only hasten on the process by which he shall be made a king and a priest unto God!"
~Harriet Beecher Stowe (from Uncle Tom's Cabin)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Give All of Yourself to God NOW

"Q: What about the future and progress and growth?
A: If the plant does not grow in the present, it will not grow more in the future."
~Peter Kreeft

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul's Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven's joys, O bright Heaven's Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

~Dallan Forgaill, Mary Byrne, & Eleanor Hull

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tough Stuff, But Good to Keep in Mind

“Suicide is certainly the most in-your-face index of unhappiness there is. And suicide is almost always directly proportionate to wealth. The richer you and your country are, the more likely it is that you will find life so good that you will choose to blow your brains out. Suicide among pre-adults has increased 5,000 percent since the ‘happy days’ of the fifties (this quote is from a book written in 2002). If suicide is not an index of crisis, especially of the coming generation, what is?

But there are more suicides than that. Half of all marriages commit suicide. That is what divorce is─the suicide of the new ‘one flesh’ made by the marriage. If half of all the citizens of a country committed suicide, would you think that country had a bright future or a happy present? But the citizens of any country are not merely individuals; they are also families. Individuals are not the primary building blocks of societies; families are. Individuals are the building blocks of families. So half of all the new citizens of America commit suicide.

And if you insist on limiting ‘new citizens’ to ‘individual children conceived,’ the statics are not much better. One-third of all American children are killed─by their mothers, before they can be born, using healers as hit men.

This is a happy country? This is peace?

I know a doctor who spent two years in the Congo winning the confidence of a dying tribe who would not trust outsiders (black or white) and who were dying because of their bad diet. He was a dietitian, and he saved their lives. Once they knew this, they trusted him totally and asked him all sorts of questions about life in the West. They believed all the amazing things he told them, like flying to the moon and destroying whole cities with one bomb, but there were two things they literally could not believe. One was that in the West there are atheists─people who believe in no gods at all. (‘Are these people blind and deaf? Have they never seen a leaf or heard a waterfall?’) The other was that in one nation alone (America), over a million mothers each year pay doctors to kill their babies before they are born. Their reaction to this was to giggle, which was their embarrassed way of trying to be polite, assuming it was a joke. They simply had no holding place in their minds for this concept, and they expected every day that the doctor would tell them the point of the joke.

And it is we who call these people ‘primitive.’ The irony is mountainous.”
~Peter Kreeft

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Law of God

"The law of God shows us our sin and sends us to Jesus as the only solution to our sin. Jesus returns us to God's law not as the dynamic of our sanctification, not as the means of our justification, but as the framework for the work of God within our lives."
~Alistair Begg