Thursday, December 14, 2017



  I was at the mission today, serving lunch once more, but today somehow it was different for me. There was the normal crush of suffering humanity, but either I was more attune or there were more extreme examples of human suffering and objects of misery, I know not, but there was a greater sense of desperation and sadness in me as I surveyed the homeless in the dining room. There is a sacredness in tears, and my thoughts drifted to the shortest verse as I felt a sense of what Christ must have felt looking out over Jerusalem.

Compassion puts one in a state of kindness: an unselfish and humble feeling which sympathy draws from us something beautiful but also something so mournful.

I noticed a young woman, early twenties, petite and with darling facial features, covered up in a warm hooded winter coat. Her hood dropped back at one point to reveal her head, which was shaved; no doubt from some disease or surgical procedure, I did not dare ask, but left to imagine the worst. I find myself strangely attached to those in need in proportion to their woes.

 A regular at the mission, a man named Randy, who lives in the most distressing disguise: ravaged by disease with scars all over his half shaved head, unable to care for himself as he struggles for balance and has little left of his right mind with which to speak. His appearance and lack of hygiene is so disturbing that it puts one in a strange combination of repulsion and attraction. Words fail to describe his repugnant appearance, yet one cannot leave it.

  Another middle age woman, with intermittent nonsensical laughs, followed by cries of anguish so piercing; yet I find myself hovering within the circle where my thoughts wander and fly to the center from where they come.

The scenes of man and womanhood struck down in their strength and wasting on its bed, deserted and broken beneath the burden of life, present a sight so sad; but this compassion I feel is fascinated to the spot, and lives amid the haunts it dreads.
I could easily find relief by simply stopping my ears and shutting my eyes, but if I were to do so I would cease to be an organ of humanity, and would be degraded into an instrument of selfishness, and would scandalize the name of Christ.


I wrote this with the help of Henry Beecher and James Martineau.

Monday, December 11, 2017


The following is a blog article from my oldest son. He is the pastor at Jacob's Well in Spokane Wa. 
A beautiful mind is like a fine rose; the product of many hours of careful cultivation.
I heard Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor & CEO/ John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary say:
The average student pursuing a MS(degree) in ministry gets a semester of Church History. That usually breaks down to half of that devoted to the reformation (15-16th century) to now and half on everything before.
Think about that.
Is that adequate saturation, contemplation and preparation from the smelter of the past? We all are called to wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and its sharper than any two-edged sword (Eph 6:17, Heb. 4:12). If this is so, why would we not seek training from the masters before us? Who would enter spiritual challenges, opposition, arguments and resistance and not find how to be adequately trained with the skill and wisdom of the great pugilists of the past?
Please inquire of past generations and consider the things searched out by their fathers. For we are only yesterday and know nothing because our days on earth are as a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you and bring forth words from their minds?”-Job 8:8-9
How different it is with the man who devotes himself to studying the law of the Most High, who investigates all the wisdom of the past and spends his time studying the prophecies! He preserves the sayings of famous men and penetrates the intricacies of parables. He investigates the hidden meaning of proverbs and knows his way among riddles.” –Ecclesiasticus 39:1-3
The past is one of the God ordained anvils upon which we are called to hammer out the truth. To strike the heated metal, mined from text and tradition, glowing red hot from the furnace of prayer. Our studies should be hissing with plumes of steam, bellowing out from the quenching of steel in our weeping.
The echoes of blows, reverberate from our forges, as straining and draining labor strikes ignorance with wisdom, over and over and over again. The prophet and teacher should come to the pulpit with singed hair from being so close to the flame. Soot covered faced with red eyes, sore muscles and broken and smoldering hearts, all fully alive, aching from use and abuse, but tense to the ready. The oracles proclaimed should cute deep, laying open the thoughts and intents of the heart, like a skilled blade-master.
If people leave us unscathed, unwounded, unfazed and untroubled then we have not prepared well, or fought fearlessly. Timid teachers having conversations from behind the archers and calvary isn’t ministry, it’s cowardliness. God hasn’t called us to twiddle and twaddle in the pulpit but to call down fire that melts stone and licks up drenching worldliness, compromise and rebellion.
“Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” -1 Kings 19:38-39
Rehashed talks, regurgitated mash messages are prepackaged and microwaved meals that are producing sickly saints and depleting spiritual immune systems that lead to fleshy diseases and cancerous thinking. Out of fear of losing people, offending friends, fitting in, looking successful, finding satisfaction and making a good living, too many leaders are forgetting they are called to be prophets as well a pastors. A good surgeon knowns that pain is part of bringing someone to health. Just medicating people every week with high doses of happy juice is actually a very unloving way to treat serious conditions. Hugs and giggles won’t cure or conquer.
“The words of the wise are like cattle prods—painful but helpful. Their collected sayings are like a nail-studded stick with which a shepherd drives the sheep. But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out.”
-Ecclesiastes 12:11-12
Yes, it’s hard work and unless it leaves you exhausted at times, than maybe you have not fully grasped the desperation of the hour or hewn past the cool crust of the word and unleashed the molten magma of truth? These times demand more than good thoughts, spoken eloquently, those are for the golf course…not the sinking Titanic.
Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.
-C.S. Lewis
I pray that God will raise up radical men and women that will descend into the depths of the mines of the past and discover the “The dead still speak” (Hebrews 11:4) and what they are saying, is something that the generations to come especially need to hear.
Psalm 78:1-4
“O my people, listen to my instructions.
 Open your ears to what I am saying,
 for I will speak to you in a parable.
I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
stories we have heard and known,
 stories our ancestors handed down to us.
 We will not hide these truths from our children;
 we will tell the next generation
 about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
 about his power and his mighty wonders.”

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Humane love


I've never read anything that explains the feelings of compassion that Christ graces the heart with like this piece. Words have always failed me when trying to explain the movements of compassion within us; but this piece puts those godly emotions to words as well as mere mortals can.

Compassion

  "There is a humane love, which constitutes the humblest and most frequent form of unselfish feeling. It finds its objects among the miserable, and attaches itself to them in proportion to their woes. 
In human pity there is a strange combination of repulsion and attraction, which it is the paradox of philosophy to explain, and the mercy of God to ordain: it cannot endure the sight of wretchedness, and yet can never leave it. To no ear are the cries of anguish so piercing; yet it hovers within the circle where they wander, and flies to the center whence they come. To no eye does manhood struck down in its strength and wasting on its bed, or the child decrepid with hunger and neglect, or the wife deserted and broken beneath the burden of life, present a sight so sad; but this compassion is fascinated to the spot, and lives amid the haunts it dreads. To stop that ear, to shut that eye, would seem to give an easy promise of relief; nor is there anything to hinder except that they would cease to be the organs of humanity, and would be degraded into the instruments of selfishness: and so, it is no more possible to get them closed, than to persuade the sobbing child to put aside the story that draws forth its tears." James Martineau.



Tuesday, December 05, 2017


The following quote has been very difficult for me to understand, but as I re-read it and considered it, I drew from it my conclusions. I will paste my interpretation of it first, and then post the original quote by James Martineau. I found it very insightful.

 How does God work in us to heighten our concern for the poor, oppressed and suffering world? Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, "While we perpetually aim at the attainment of sated and contented feelings, we must be conscious that these belong to the lowest condition of the mind; that they unite us with the drowsy state of inactivity of animals that have only to eat and be filled; and that in our inability to realize this aim, of being filled with contentment, we realize disappointments ever renewed, thoughts and affections ever transcending all our possibilities, and it causes a noble unrest which leads us to the progressive goodness, the immortal capacities, of our nature, interpreting in us the moral creature of God.

By assigning to us the hard conflict with various necessities, by filling us with conceptions that press with vehement and often agonizing protest, against the limits that confine them, by giving us an understanding that wanders beyond the allotted light, a moral sense that overpasses all practicable achievement, a mutual love that reaches further than the longest term of human years, God has taken the solid ground of rest from beneath us, and dropped us into the midnight immensity in which he dwells."


Here is the original quote, you may come to a different conclusion, but either way, it will make you think. 

   "While we perpetually aim at the attainment of sated and contented feelings, we must be conscious that these belong to the lowest condition of the mind; that they ally us to the drowsy quiescence of creatures that have only to eat and be filled; and that in our inability to realize this aim, in disappointment ever renewed, in thoughts and affections ever transcending all our possibilities, consist all the noble unrest, the progressive goodness, the immortal capacities, of our nature, rendering it the creator of poetry, and the moral creature of God. By assigning to us the hard conflict with various necessities, by filling us with conceptions that press with vehement and often agonizing remonstrance, against the limits that confine them, by giving us an understanding that wanders beyond the allotted light, a moral sense that overpasses all practicable achievement, a mutual love that reaches further than the longest term of human years, God has taken the solid ground of rest from beneath us, and dropped us into the midnight immensity in which he dwells."

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


  "A man who must separate himself from his neighbor's habits in order to be happy, is in much the same case with one who requires to take opium for the same purpose. What we want to see is one who can breast into the world, do a man's work, and still preserve his first and pure enjoyment of existence. 
  There is apt to be something unmanly, something almost dastardly, in a life that does not move with dash and freedom, and that fears the bracing contact with the world." R. L. Stevenson. 

  "It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire. Although neither is to be despised, it is always better policy to learn an interest than to make a thousand pounds; for the money will soon be spent, or perhaps you may feel no joy in spending it; but the interest remains imperishable and ever new. To become a botanist, a geologist, a social philosopher, an antiquary, or an artist, is to enlarge one's possessions in the universe by an incalculably higher degree, and by a far surer sort of property, than to purchase a farm of many acres." Robert Louis Stevenson. 

  In the following piece, Martineau gives his interpretation of John 15:15, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known to you."

I'll list here a few things he said to briefly summarize his explanation of the "servant" mind -

"Considerations of self-interest, suggestions of hope and fear, appealing to that desire of happiness or rather that recoil from suffering.  The tribute of weakness to superior power, a sacrifice extorted by necessity, an acquiescence indifferently given to the decrees of an iron Fate or the laws of the divinest Providence.

 Now he describes serving Christ as "friends" in what I think is the most insightful explanation I've ever read.  

"The Son of Man does not speak to us as strangers to a voice like his: he never moves imperiously about, as among a race of spiritual serfs, who must be made to do an outside will they are not fit to comprehend. He doubtless addresses us in the imperative voice of divine right; but not till he has made the whisper of our own conscience speak in the very same tones. He pronounces, with the calmness of inspiration, on the sublimest truths; but not without transposing us into a temper which those truths evidence themselves.
His tones are directed, not to overpower, but to penetrate. He does not bear down against resistance, but touches the springs of native force. He appeals as to souls that bear kindred with his own; that secretly know the right from which, in the misery of delusion, they have turned away; that deeply love the purity and power of heart they have so sadly lost; and feel the shame and sorrow of an alienation, boasted of perhaps as freedom, but lamented with the hidden sighs of exile. He speaks as if his diviner sphere of thought created no separation, and made no difference in the free outpouring of his soul. And so it really was: he had but to be himself and live that godlike life, to become a central light of human trust, and the most enduring object of human affection." James Martineau.