Wednesday, March 14, 2018

  "I would teach a child, in defiance even of reason, that God is the one Power that loves and understands him through thick and thin, that He punishes with anguish and sorrow; that He exults in forgiveness and mercy; that He rejoices in innocent happiness; that He loves courage, and brightness, and kindness, and cheerful self-sacrifice; that things mean and vile and impure and cruel, are things that He does not love to punish, but sad and soiling stains that He beholds with shame and tears. This, is seems to me, is the Gospel teaching about God, impossible only because of the hardness of our hearts. 
 I remember a terrible lecture which I heard as a bewildered boy at school; given by a worthy Evangelical clergyman, with large spectacles, and a hollow voice, and a great relish for spiritual terrors! 
The subject was "the exceeding sinfulness of sin." Arthur Benson.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

 How do we know Christianity is real and truth? 
   As for me, I always want to know the truth, whether it is the one I've discovered or if it refutes the one I've discovered. It is too big and too important of an issue to be casually bantered around like the latest fashion.
 I want something that will hold the heaviest burden, will lift the darkest heart; will break into freedom those in the strongest chains; like slavery, addiction, victims of trauma, neglect and abuse, and all the deepest questions and thoughts of the heart. 
Not a dogma, not a theory or rhetoric, creed or party, but something that gets into the deepest, darkest valleys of human frailty.

 So, if someone shows me a way of great nobility, a way of deep sacrificing compassion; a way that demonstrates sacrificial love that I have never seen, then, and only then, will they get my full and focused attention. 

 When I watched the documentary of Mother Teresa's work in Calcutta with the dying wretches that laid in the street with maggot filled wounds, and watched this little woman of faith carry them back to her home for the dying, and even though she knew that they were dying, she offered them unconditional love, regardless of caste, religion or race, and gave them the gift of 'dying with dignity and love,' I knew I saw truth in action. 

These things are what I have come to know as "Truth" these are the deeds of God, the mercies of Christ. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Pursuing a successful life

  Our entire life, from birth to death, is the pursuit of success. We begin by facing the challenges of navigation, speech and understanding. As we go into school, all through these years we seek and measure success by our grades.
As we leave the school years behind we seek success in making our way in the world. There we seek to make a home and balance our payments to our income. Most of us, barring trauma or catastrophes, accomplish all the challenges these obstacles bring, but we have not, as yet, achieved success.

The greatest obstacle we face in life is to be master of ourselves; this theme is God given and God empowered.
  It is indispensably necessary that our thoughts and habits be good and regular, for God has designed that there is nothing truly impossible that is necessary for the accomplishment of our happiness.
Sobriety and self-control of all kinds such as; the keeping of one's self from melancholy, avoiding violent passions and lusts, as well as moderate exercise and keeping our appetites well governed, all of which do assist, preserve, confirm and finish that which nature first began.

 True success in life is a noble and godly pursuit, as Peter affirms - "Whoever would love life and see good days.." a desire we all have within us, and it is found by adding the helps above and turning from evil and seeking right relationships with God and man, "For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and His ears attend to their prayer."

For what person should forever carry about themselves a gang of pirate passions?

Thanks to the book "A true friend" 1874, for many of the thoughts here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

  As I descended the hill into Portland last night, the snow began to fall. By the time I parked and crossed the street the roads were covered and the line outside the mission was long. When the doors opened to let the homeless in, each wore a trace of fresh snow on their heads. The congregation rises as the temperature lowers. 
  As the people were finding their seats a man I knew from Teen Challenge approached me to let me know, a woman sitting at the back in a three quarter length coat, had only underwear under her coat and asked if I could find her a pair of pants. I scrambled to find someone who could help, and within a few minutes they brought two pair and laid them on the pulpit. I took them to the woman who was busy using all her powers to sit still and be quiet so she wouldn't be asked to leave the service. She is afflicted with the most distressing mental condition, I have no idea what it is but I've seen her at the mid-day meal a number of times and she has no ability to communicate, she is thirty something and often bursts into loud complaint or disrobes at the dinner table. Last night she wore lipstick on the left side of her lips, the other side was bare but for a smudge on the tip of her nose.
 I began the opening prayer and when I finished and begin to introduce the message she took that time to put her pants on murmuring continually and struggling all the way. She accompanied my entire sermon with a low-key babble, and when she got a little too loud, someone would holler at her to quiet down! So as I harmonized my message with her conversation, adjusting my volume as necessary, the Holy Spirit descended and filled the packed room with His presence.

Somehow, as I reflect about the evening, her presence there is, strangely, what I recall most of all. This young woman, lost in every way: homeless, mindless and at the mercy of circumstances living in a State that closed all of its mental facilities and "mainstreamed" the mentally ill as a cost saving strategy. I have this haunting vision of Christ entering the mission last night, with face set like a flint on her poor, huddled mass, neglected by all, loved by none, reaching down and swallowing her in a loving embrace. 

Friday, February 16, 2018


What a strange power there is in silence!
Says the Greek proverb, "speech is silver, silence is gold." 
It is a remarkable and very instructive fact that many of the most important operations of nature are carried on in unbroken silence. There is no rushing sound when the broad tide of sunlight breaks on a dark world and floods it with glory, as one bright wave after another falls from the mountain. The great trees bring forth their boughs and shelter the earth beneath them -- the plants cover themselves with buds, and the buds burst into flowers, but the whole transformation is unheard. The mightiest worker in the universe is the most unobtrusive. The grandest operations, both in nature and in grace, are the most silent and imperceptible. Not the least impressive scenes of Christ, before his enemies were those when he answered them not a word. The heaviest grief is borne in silence; the deepest love flows through the eye and touch; the purest joy is unspeakable, the most impressive prayer is silent prayer; and the most solemn preacher at a funeral is the silent one, whose lips are cold.

It is a great art in the Christian life to be silent. It is often easier to do than to suffer the will of God. 

The voice of wisdom cries, "Be still, and know that I am God."
Arthur Benson. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018


 "Rachel just cannot get over what I have done to her. We have been to counselors, both individually, and, only a little, together. I have treated her like a queen for six months, written her love letters, virtually abandoned my practice to spend time with her -- everything I can possibly think of. She says she can forgive me as a person, but that she can't as a husband. She says that I "threw her away" for another woman; that she can ever trust me again; that she doesn't love me, like me, or respect me, that she will never feel special to me again; that I killed her love for me; that she would rather I had killed her than have done what I did.
Just today, she has asked me to move out of the house. She has even said that I love this other woman and one day will go back to her.

Nothing can be further from the truth. I love my wife and family, and the thought of losing them is too much to bear. We've prayed for help and guidance, but we just haven't made any progress. Over the past six months, she has fluctuated quite a bit, but always seems to come back to a literal rage of depression, bitterness, anger, and hurt. It has been hell, and it looks like it's going to explode."