Saturday, May 31, 2008
Suppose one of your little children of three or four were crying for the coat of her sister who is twelve or perhaps twenty, and said, 'Why may not I have a coat as long as my sister's?' If she had it, it would soon trip up her heels, and scratch her face. But when the child comes to understanding, she is not discontented because her coat is not as long as her sister's, but says, 'my coat fits me,' and therein she is content. So if we come to understanding in the school of Christ we will not cry, Why have I not got such wealth as other's have?, but, The Lord sees that I am not able to manage it and I see it myself by knowing my own heart. There are some children who, if they see a knife, will cry for it because they do not know their strength and that they are not able to manage it, but you know they are not able to manage it and therefore you will not give it them, and when they come to sufficient understanding, they will not cry for it.
Similarly we would not cry for some things if we knew that we were not able to manage them.
When you vex and fret for what you have not got, I may say to you as Christ said, 'You know not of what spirit you are.'
Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) Photo by Harnois Yves
Friday, May 30, 2008
"Though riches often prompt extravagant hopes and fallacious appearances, there are purposes to which a wise man may be delighted to apply them. They may, by a rational distribution to those who want them, ease the pains of helpless disease, still the throbs of restless anxiety, relieve innocence from oppression, and raise imbecility to cheerfulness and vigor. This they will enable a man to perform; and this they will afford the only happiness ordained for our present state, the consequences of divine favour, and the hope of future rewards."
Samuel Johnson - Painting by Blair Leighton
Thursday, May 29, 2008
"One's age should be tranquil, as childhood should be playful. Hard work at either extremity of life seems out of place. At mid-day the sun may burn, and men labor under it; but the morning and evening should be alike calm and cheerful." Arnold
I'm afraid in many countries, like the country in which the pictured boy lives, children work long and hard hours, in conditions unbearable. God help us to make it not so.
Photo by Eric Lafforque
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
"Jesus is an insoluble problem to men who will not see in Him the Eternal Light which 'in the beginning was with God.' You find in Him no trace of gradual acquisition of knowledge, or of arguing or feeling His way to His beliefs. You find in Him no trace of consciousness of a great horizon of darkness encompassing the region where He sees light. You find in Him no trace of a recognition of other sources from which He has drawn any portion of His light. You find in Him the distinct declaration that His relation to truth is not the relation of men who learn, and grow, and acquire, and know in part; for, says He, "I am the Truth."He stands apart from us all, and above us all, in that He owes His radiance to none, and can dispense it to every man."
Alexander Maclaren D.D.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Whoever considers the weakness both of himself and others , will not long want persuasives to forgiveness. We know not to what degree of malignity any injury is to be imputed; or how much its guilt, if we were to inspect the mind of him that committed it, would be extenuated by mistake, precipitance, or negligence; we cannot be certain how much more we feel than was intended to be inflicted, or how much we increase the mischief to ourselves by voluntary aggravations. We may charge to design the effects of accident; we may think the blow violent only because we have made ourselves delicate and tender; we are on every side in danger of error and of guilt, which we are certain to avoid only by speedy forgiveness.
Samuel Johnson - photo by Vasile Barbu
The Pannonian bears, when they have clasped a dart in the region of their liver, wheel themselves upon the wound, and with anger and malicious revenge strike the deadly barb deeper, and cannot be quit from the fatal steel, but, in flying, bear along that which themselves make the instrument of a more hasty death; so is every vicious person struck with a deadly wound, and his own hands force it into the entertainment of the heart; and because it is painful to draw it forth by a sharp and salutary repentance, he still rolls and turns upon his wound, and carries his death in his bowels, where it first entered by choice, and then dwelt by love, and at last shall finish the tragedy by divine judgments and unalterable decree.
Friday, May 23, 2008
In our youth we picture ourselves as we will be in the future -- not mere types of this or that kind of success, but above all and in all, Ideal Men. Then come the years and struggles, and we are buffeted and baffled, and our very ideal is eclipsed. But others have done better than we. Weary and harassed, they yet embody our visions. And we, if we are worth our salt, do not envy them when we see them. Nor should we grow dispirited. Rather should we rejoice in their triumph, rejoice that our dreams were not impossibilities, take courage to strive afresh for that which we know is best.
"I knew his face the moment that he passed
Triumphant in the thoughtless, cruel throng,--
Triumphant, though the quiet, tired eyes
Showed that his soul had suffered overlong.
And though across his brow faint lines of care
Were etched, somewhat of Youth still lingered there.
I gently touched his arm -- he smiled at me --
He was the Man that once I Meant to Be!
Where I had failed, he'd won from life, Success;
Where I had stumbled, with sure feet he stood;
Alike -- yet unalike -- we faced the world,
And through the stress he found that life was good
And I? The bitter wormwood in the glass,
The shadowed way along which failures pass!
Yet as I saw him thus, joy came to me --
He was the Man that Once I Meant to Be!
I knew him! And I knew he knew me for
The man He might have been. Then did his soul
Thank silently the gods that gave him strength
To win, while I so sorely missed the goal?
He turned, and quickly in his own firm hand
He took my own -- the gulf of Failure spanned,.....
And that was all -- strong, self-reliant, free,
He was the Man that Once I Meant to Be!
We did not speak. But in his sapient eyes
I saw the spirit that had urged him on,
The courage that had held him through the fight
Had once been mine, I thought, "Can it be gone?"
He felt that unasked question -- felt it so
His pale lips formed the one-word answer, "No!"
Too late to win? No! Not too late for me --
He is the Man that Still I Mean to be!
Everard Jack Appleton -- Photo by Lyubomir Bukov
Thursday, May 22, 2008
"In order to describe different methods of prayer St. Teresa made use of the simile of irrigation. Water drawn laboriously from a well she represents as meditative or non-mystical prayer; the abundance given by the chain pump corresponds to the prayer of contemplation, while showers of rain resemble the prayers in which the soul is passive under the actions of God. Rodriguez also describes these two methods: the one of irrigation by manual labor, which he, too, calls meditation; and irrigation by means of rain from the sky, representing contemplation, "In which a man is so transported and absorbed in God, that he forgets both whence he came and whither he goes."
Statue of "The ecstasy of St. Teresa".
Monday, May 19, 2008
"Two bathing twins are testing their seduction techniques so powerful and innate that all the African children share in their own. How many times they made me smile? How many times they amazed me with the shine of an immense genuine joy sparkling in their eyes…this happiness was produced by simple toys like a stone, a piece of wood or a leaf…no video games, electric machines, cellphones and dolls’ houses…Luckily in Africa happiness for kids, it’s still a simple thing!"
Sunday, May 18, 2008
The tear most sacred, shed for other's pain.
That starts at once -- bright pure -- from Pity's mine,
Already polished by the hand divine! - Byron
In 1548, St. Ignatius, writing to St. Francis Borgia, urged him to beg of the divine Masters for "his most holy gifts; the gift of tears......of joy, of spiritual repose, of intimate consolation, and for all the spiritual sentiments peculiar to these gifts, such as humility.......for without these gifts all our thoughts, words, and works are imperfect, cold and confused."
Photo by H.McP - Spheres 57
All nature is a vast symbolism; every material fact has sheathed within it a spiritual truth.-- E.H. Chapin
"It is truly a most Christian exercise to extract a sentiment of piety from the works and appearances of nature. Our Saviour expatiates on a flower, and draws from it the delightful argument of confidence in God. He gives us to see that taste may be combined with piety, and that the same heart may be occupied with all that is serious in the contemplation of religion, and be, at the same time, alive to the charms and loveliness of nature." -- Chalmers. Photo by amarjeet sisngh sadal
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
but he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't" but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.
Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quidit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "cannot be done," and you'll do it.
Edgar A. Guest Photo by Anjan Mitra
Turn me loose from your hands
Let me fly to distant lands
Over green fields, trees and mountains
Flowers and forest fountains
Home along the lanes of the skyway
For this dark and lonely room
Projects a shadow cast in gloom
And my eyes are mirrors
Of the world outside
Thinking of the way
That the wind can turn the tide
And these shadows turn
From purple into grey
For just a Skyline Pigeon
Dreaming of the open
Waiting for the day He can spread his wings
And fly away again
Fly away skyline pigeon fly
Towards the dreams
You've left so very far behind
Just let me wake up in the morning
To the smell of new mown hay
To laugh and cry, to live and die
In the brightness of my day
I want to hear the pealing bells
Of distant churches sing
But most of all please free me
From this aching metal ring
And open out this cage towards the sun
Photo by Luca Belis of a 15 year old, Davidine, in Madagascar
Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
“Abraham Lincoln was called “Honest Abe.” This sobriquet was given to him at New Salem, Illinois; whither he went to take charge of the “country store” of one Orfutt, in 1831. He was about twenty-two years of age, awkward, bashful, but strictly upright. He took no advantage of the ignorance or necessities of customers, but represented goods just as they were, gave Scripture measure and weight, and always hastened to correct mistakes.
One day he sold a bill of goods, amounting to two dollars and six cents, to Mrs. Duncan, living more than two miles away. On looking over the account again in the evening, before closing the store, he found that Mrs. Duncan paid him six cents too much. “That must be corrected tonight,” he said to himself; so, as soon as he had closed the shutters for the night, he posted away with the six cents surplus to her house. She was preparing to retire when he knocked at the door, and was very much surprised, on opening it, to see Orfutt’s clerk standing there. Apologizing for the mistake, Lincoln deposited the six cents in her hand, and slept all the better that night for having corrected the error.
At another time, a woman came to the store late in the evening, when Lincoln was closing it, for a half pound of tea, which was weighed in haste. On returning the next morning, his attention was called to the scales, which had a four-ounce weight instead of eight in them. He knew at once that he must have given the woman a quarter instead of a half pound of tea. Weighing another quarter of a pound, he closed the store and delivered it to the customer, asking her pardon, before commencing the labor of the day.
Such examples of honesty were not overlooked by the public. Men and women talked about them, and extolled the author of them. They led, also, to something more. In that part of the country, at that time, various games prevailed in which two sides enlisted; and it was the custom to appoint an umpire for each game. Lincoln became the universal umpire, both sides insisting upon his appointment on account of his fairness. His honesty won the confidence of all.
Dr. Holland says: “When Lincoln terminated his labors for Orfutt, every one trusted him. He was judge, arbitrator, referee, umpire, authority in all disputes, games, matches of man-flesh and horse-flesh; a pacificator in all quarrels; everybody’s friend; the best natured, the most sensible, the best informed, the most modest and unassuming, the kindest, gentlest, roughest, strongest, best young fellow in all New Salem and the region round about.”
This is a just encomium; but it never could have been said of him but for his unbending honesty, a quality for “which he was known from his boyhood. The honest boy makes the honest man.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
"Love is a great beautifier of the face; this kind of beauty perishes not. It wreaths the countenance of every doer of good. It adorns every honest face. It shines in the virtuous life. It molds the hands of charity. It sweetens the voice of sympathy. It sparkles on the brow of wisdom. It flashes in the eye of love. It breathes in the spirit of piety. It is the beauty of the heaven of heavens. It is that which may grow by the hand of culture in every human soul. It is the flower of the spirit which blossoms on the tree of life. Every soul may plant and nurture it in its own garden. This is the capacity for beauty that God has placed withing the reach of all. Though our forms may be uncomely and our features not the prettiest, our spirits may be beautiful. And this inward beauty always shines through. A beautiful heart will flash out in the eye. A lovely soul will glow in the face. A sweet spirit will tune the voice and wreathe the countenance in charms. There is a power in interior beauty that melts the hardest heart:
Therefore Mrs. Osgood gives the following pertinent advice --
"The blush will fade,
The light grow dim which the blue eyes wear,
The gloss will vanish from curl and braid,
And the sunbeam die in the waving hair.
Turn from the mirror and strive to win
Treasures of loveliness which will last;
Gather earth's glory and bloom within,
That the soul may be young, when youth is past."
Jerome Paine Bates, A.M. - Photo by gaby gobu
Thursday, May 08, 2008
"He that spills the rum loses that only; he that drinks it, often loses both that and himself.
When reason preaches, if you don't hear her she'll box your ears.
Despair ruins some, Presumption many.
He's a fool that makes his doctor his heir.
A poor example is the best sermon.
Craft must be at charge for clothes, but Truth can go naked.
Write injuries in dust, benefits in marble."
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
"True love for our neighbor is to wish him well and do good to him. 'My little children', St. John says, 'Let us love not in word but in deed.'
Love does not live on words, nor can it be explained by words - especially that love which serves him, which comes from him and which finds him and touches him. We must reach the heart and to reach the heart as we must do - love is proved in deeds.
In one of the places in Melbourne I visited an old man and nobody knew that he existed. I saw his room in a terrible state, and I wanted to clean his house and he kept on saying: 'I'm all right!' But I repeated the same words: 'You will be more alright if you will allow me to clean your place,' and in the end he allowed me. There in that room there was a beautiful lamp covered with the dirt of many years, and I asked him, 'Will you light the lamp if the Sisters come to see you?'
And the other day he sent me word: 'Tell my friend the light she has lit in my life is still burning.'
Simple acts of love and care keep the light of Christ burning."
Mother Teresa - Photo by Mehmet Akin
Sunday, May 04, 2008
"When God flows in with more than ordinary manifestations of His love, then the Christian is in danger of having his heart secretly swell in pride. Because God appears to be paying extra attention to him, he begins to think he is a 'favorite' child.
The proper response to God's special blessings should be humility and a deep sense of love and gratitude. If our hearts are somewhat hard and frozen by the cares of this life, they should soften and melt in the sunshine of His love. But as usual, Satan tries to thwart God's purpose, and he finds pride the easiest way to spoil His gift. Truly, God lets us see our proneness to this sin of pride by the short stay He makes when He comes to us with greater-than-usual discoveries of His love. The Comforter abides for ever in the saint's bosom, but that exhilarating feeling of joy in the Holy Spirit comes and is gone again with the speed of a gazelle. A brief glimpse of heaven and a vision of love now and then cheer the spirit of a discouraged Christian as he trudges up the mountain of duty or trial. But if the Lord let him build a tabernacle there and dwell under the constant shine of such an exhibition of His favor, he would soon forget where it all came from and begin to think he was lord of his own comfort.
Do not measure your grace by your comfort. God does not necessarily send you an extra measure of comfort as a reward for being good. Such discoveries of His love do indeed bear witness to the truth of His grace in you, but they say nothing about the degree and measure of your inherent grace. The weak child may be - in fact, generally is - oftener in his parents lap than the strong one.
Do not grow lax when you are being comforted. Rather, use this time of blessing to work harder than ever for the Lord. The manifestations of God's love are to fit us for our work. Basking in the light of His comfort is one thing; going forth in the power of the Spirit's comfort is quite another. How foolish is the man who spends all his time counting his money but never invests it; how wise is the one who puts his money to work for him and earns dividends. Spiritually speaking, the one who hoards his comforts will lose what he has, while the one who puts his comforts to work for Christ will increase his stock five, ten, even an hundredfold."
This excerpt from "The Christian In Complete Armour", by William Gurnall is praised by Spurgeon -- "Gurnal's work is peerless and priceless; every line is full of wisdom; every sentence is suggestive. The whole book has been preached over scores of times, and is, in our judgment, the best thought-breeder in all our library."
David Wilkerson says this book - "should be in the library of every man and woman of God. No Christian worker, leader, teacher, pastor, or evangelist, should be without it. It breathes of holiness, purity, and provokes one to prayer and fuller dedication to Jesus Christ.......
Photo by Josaphine Chervinska
“There is another element that enters into his ruin. He has for the last five years, consorted with ruined women. When he was younger, evil companions and evil desires and curiosity led him into their society. There were certain things in that society that disgusted him then. Today he is at home in it. Today, he is a beast. He delights in the company of women who shame the names of mother, sister, and wife; of prostitutes who sell for gold that which, in God’s pure economy, is sacred to love; of women whose touch is pollution and whose hold upon him is damnation. Oh, Heaven! When I think of the young life around me, that is permitting its feet to be directed into these terrible paths of sin; when I consider how seductive these paths are to youthful appetite and passion; when I remember how opportunity invites from ten thousand hiding places; when I realize there is no vice which so deadens or destroys the moral sense as that of licentiousness, I am sick and almost in despair. Jehu Jones is old in his vice, but there are those around me who are young in it, as he was once; boys, whose feet hang upon the verge of a precipice more fearful than death; young men, with Christian mothers and pure sisters, whose characters are as base as their bodies are diseased. Does he shrink from this vice, and from the society which it involves: Is he not in love with it; so much in love with it that he does not enjoy the society of pure women: Is he not so much in love with it that the society of pure women only brings to him shameful suggestions? And yet, he thinks he is not ruined! Ruined? He is rotten. If mind were subject to the laws of matter, and moral corruption accompanied by the phenomena which characterize physical decay, he would stink like carrion.
I have no words with which to express my sense of the ruin which this single vice has wrought in him. Men who drink are sometimes reformed, and if they have not proceeded too far in their vice, they come back to a self-respectful manhood. The taint left upon their morals is not so deep that it cannot be eradicated, but a man who has been debauched by licentiousness, is incurable.
I do not mean that he cannot reform, but that he must always be weak, and must always carry with him a sense of degradation and shame.” Timothy Titcomb
Needless to say this is a strong warning to avoid licentiousness (unrestrained morality). Now this piece was written in 1884, and if opportunity for immorality was in ten thousand hiding places then, it must be in ten million today. I differ in my conclusion to him in that I believe there is hope and that the blood of Jesus will wash away all our sin. But, that being said, the strong exhortations the Bible gives us to guard our hearts and seek Him when we are young, may well refer to the stains that run so deep one may never find the level of virtue that the person who has avoided such things enjoys.
Photo by Piotr Kowalik
Saturday, May 03, 2008
The unpoetical class may roughly be defined by the statement that they are the opposites of the poetical. They have no imagination; they are not men of strong and tender sympathies; they do not possess fine insight (Though some of them possess a degree of cunning which is mistaken for it); they have not the power to attract to themselves the affections of those around them; they do not possess true individuality (although they may have peculiarities or idiosyncrasies which pass for it); and, in their utterances, they are little more than the mouthpieces of the systems and schools to which they are attached.”
Timothy Titcomb 1884 One of my favorite authors. Photo by Bianca Van Der Werf - "Brainiac".
I was reading in Philippians 4;10-20 this morning and touched by Paul's gratitude for the concern and gifts sent to him by the church. I think one of the most enduring deeds we can do is help someone when they are in their true hour of need. I suspect on their death bed they will still recall the acts of kindness they have received. As I was interpreting this passage through the lens of gifts and callings I see through, hopefully without being heretical, this is one application.
The little girl pictured simply says in Paul's words; "I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. It was good of you to share in my troubles; when some have set out to help, not one church shared with them to help me, except you. I am amply supplied now that I have received the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
Photo by Kieth Fenstermaker