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Showing posts from June, 2011

Best of All Fiction

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I remember my high school Spanish teacher, Mr Rowse saying that the best book ever written was Don Quixote. Here are excerpts from an interesting essay:

"Don Quixote"
By Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh (1861-1922).

A Spanish knight, about fifty years of age, who lived in great poverty in a village of La Mancha, gave himself up so entirely to reading the romances of chivalry, of which he had a large collection, that in the end they turned his brain, and nothing would satisfy him but that he must ride abroad on his old horse, armed with spear and helmet, a knight-errant, to encounter all adventures, and to redress the innumerable wrongs of the world. He induced a neighbour of his, a poor and ignorant peasant called Sancho Panza, mounted on a very good ass, to accompany him as squire. The knight saw the world only in the mirror of his beloved romances; he mistook inns for enchanted castles, windmills for giants, and country wenches for exiled princesses. His high spirit and his cour…

Show Us the Father

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Have I been so long with you,
Yet you still misunderstand?
In the simple walks
When I listened
And you went on so.
In the gazing reverently
Together at sunset.
In the common meal
Which went down so well
'Midst laughter and poking.
In the common cup.
The washings of hand
And conscience.
Have you not seen me
Bless the wayfaring man,
The ailing child,
The fretful mother
With her last farthing?
Chastise the hypocrite?
Warn the self-assured?
Heard me glean wisdom
From the fields, the flocks,
The fishnets, the pearl merchant?
In all, I have heard from my Father;
Seen my Father's pointing hand;
Represented my Father.
It is just that simple,
That fresh, daily.
I can be, I can say
None other.
Come unto me.
Come unto Him.
Brothers.

Greater Works Than These Shall He Do

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(Taken from The Gospel of John by F. B. Meyer. Take note that the entire volume has been made a "helpful link" in the right column.)

John 14:12b

The soul is greater than the body, as the jewel than the casket. All work, therefore, which produces as great an effect on the soul-life as miracles, on the physical life, must be proportionately greater, as the tenant is greater than the house, as the immortal than the mortal. It is a greater work to give sight to the blind soul than to the blind body; to raise the soul from its grave than Lazarus from his four days’ sleep.

Again, eternity is also greater than time, as the ocean is greater than a creek. The ills from which the miracles of Christ delivered the suppliant crowds were at the most limited by years. The flesh of the leper became wrinkled with old age; Jairus’ daughter fell again on sleep; the generation which had been benefited by the mighty works passed away without handing on a legacy of health to succeeding time! But if …

Awesome

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How is it that my random thoughts get to California, Greece, Egypt, India, Australia, New Zealand, Kuwait, Iowa and next door in a single day? Blogging has become a delightful creative outlet for a sixty-year old man with a not-so-extraordinary story to tell.

The ClustrMap utility allows me to recognize what messages are of interest to what areas, and the new daily locator makes it even more exciting (the yellow dots).

Providence brings the articles to web searchers of varying needs. I think of dandelion seeds carried on fluffy white wings as the wind directs. I think also of the parable of the sower in Luke 8 and the receptivity of varying soils (productive with the seed; or hardened by the crass traffic of the world; or flighty and insincere; or yielding to need, greed or pride)

Apparently our little seeds of reflection have found some good soil in altogether different cultures. This is a delight. I remind the readers that the thoughts have been "found" similarly by me over t…

Deadly Graffiti

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Paid a visit to a nearby coffee shop early this morning. This is a place with a real sense of neighbourhood. Many regular customers, and many of them elderly. Much courteous talk, happy greetings, newspapers shared, doors held open. People being decent and civil.

In the men's washroom however, I was disturbed to see new black magic marker disfigurement on doors and walls. Some youth gang insignia and an inverted cross with numbers 6...6...6 at the head and hands positions. Isn't that sweet? Somebody wanting to identify with the worst of evil as they sully the place.

Should we be saying once again, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Increasingly this is a time when good is called bad, and bad good. Music is filled with thoughts of hate and violence. Reality shows laud profane, fiery temper in the kitchen; and manipulation and mendacity on survivor island; and bare-fisted mauling and murder in the ultimate fighter's ring. The message going around…

The Holiest Moment

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In one of the books of Chuck Colson (The Body), I recall a wonderful quote from Carl Henry:

"The holiest moment in the church service occurs when the family of faith, inspired by prayer, praise, preaching and sacrament exit the doors of the building to be The Church, extending the light and love of Christ to all who might inquire, hurt or hunger in the community at large."

As another more grass-roots preacher once said, "At some point you have to push back from the Gospel table, stop eating, and go out and act in the power of that which you have ingested."

Think about it.

This Do In Remembrance of Me

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(From Robert Murray M'Cheyne, St. Peter's, Dundee, October 1841)

There are many sermons in which Christ is not from beginning to end; many books where you cannot find the fragrance of His name: but there cannot be a sacrament where Christ is not from beginning to end. Christ is the Alpha and Omega of the Lord's Supper; it is all Christ and Him crucified. These things give a peculiar sweetness to the broken bread and poured-out wine...

In the Song of Solomon, when the bride found Him whom her soul loved, she says, "I held Him and would not let Him go." This was true appropriating faith. The world might say to her, "Come this way, and we will show thee other beloveds, fairer than thy beloved." Nay, saith she, "I held Him, and would not let Him go. This is my beloved, and this is my friend" (Song 3:4).

Just such, beloved, is the meaning of receiving broken bread and poured-out wine at the Lord's table. It is the most solemn appropriating act of …

Strangers Here

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(Taken from Treasury of David by Charles H. Spurgeon - Psalm 119)

Verse 19. I am a stranger in the earth, etc. When a child is born, it is spoken of sometimes under the designation of "a little stranger!" Friends calling will ask if, as a privilege, they may "see the little stranger." A stranger, indeed! come from far. From the immensities. From the presence, and touch, and being of God! And going -- into the immensities again -- into, and through all the unreckonable ages of duration.

But the little stranger grows, and in a while begins to take vigorous root. He works, and wins, and builds, and plants, and buys, and holds, and, in his own feeling, becomes so "settled" that he would be almost amused with anyone who should describe him as a stranger now.

And still life goes on, deepening and widening in its flow, and holding in itself manifold and still multiplying elements of interest. Increasingly the man is caught by these -- like a ship, from which many a…

In the Fires with M'Cheyne

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(Taken from Memoir of the Life of Robert Murray M'Cheyne by A. A. Bonar)

"Aug. 4. 1842— Often, often, would I have been glad to depart, and be with Christ. I am now much better in body and mind, having a little of the presence of my beloved, whose absence is death to me." The same month: "I have been carried through deep waters, bodily and spiritual, since last we met." It was his own persuasion that few had more to struggle with in the inner man. Who can tell what wars go on within?

During this season of trial, he was invited to form one of a number of ministers from Scotland, who were to visit the north of England, with no other purpose than to preach the glad tidings. The scheme was planned by a Christian gentleman, who has done much for Christ in his generation. When the invitation reached him, he was in the heat of his furnace. He mentioned this to the brother who corresponded with him on the subject, Mr. Purves of Jedburgh, whose reply was balm to his spiri…

Jesus' Old Testament

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I have an old dog-eared large print New Testament which has gone the miles with me. Portable. Companionable. Marked up with discoveries and reminders. On one page near the back I noted the instances in the Gospels where Jesus affirmed the truth of Old Testament accounts and personalities. There was no attempt in his theology to make parables or allegories out of Old Testament history.

Consider the following:

1. Noah and the Flood.
2. Murder of righteous Abel.
3. Lot and the destruction of Sodom.
4. The sad legacy of Lot's wife.
5. Abraham the patriarch.
6. Jacob's well.
7. Moses and the burning bush; and the daily mannah; and the brazen serpent; and the ten commandments; and the law of divorce; and the cure for leprosy; and the yearly Passover.
8. Jonah and the whale; and the preaching of repentance to Ninevah.
9. Adam and Eve and marriage in the beginning.
10. Elijah and the widow in the drought; and the raising of the dead child.
11. Elisha and the curing of the leprous Naaman; and the …

Church Militant

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You have sensed it before. The stiffening of a group of people as you came forward to enter into their conversation. The glassy looks on the faces as you offered some comment of good will or humour. The unspoken sense that you really had no part in them or in what was happening. The common topics of community, sports, weather, neighbourhood happenings appearing somehow off-limits to you. The expectation that you would move on elsewhere.

This is rejection, plain and simple. A putting off of your statement. What statement? Perhaps you have said nothing. But in the past your actions, omissions and expressions of face have spoken volumes to these people. You are a Christian, and a zealous one. The word has gotten around, making others uncomfortable. Old evangelists such as Finney used to talk of how one's presence ought to evoke a sense of "present duty felt".

It wasn't spelled out this way at Church. Supposedly you held the pearl of great price, and by your "loveline…

The Blueing

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The farmer in the coffee shop had the answer to my question:

"What you saw, friend, was the blueing of the alfalfa. A rare and beautiful sight out here on some of our fields. You were lucky. Lasts only a few days. Wind blows all the colourful little flowers away. Stops you in your tracks when you see it."

And that's exactly what it did. I had driven out to a bridge construction site in the country north of Drayton. Beautiful sunny day in early summer. I came upon a couple of blossoming canola fields, brilliantly yellow. And then this remarkable deep blue field of alfalfa. Other fields green in other early grasses. The landscape had the appearance of some child's enthusiastic pre-school colouring book.

It impressed me to think of this rare beauty out there. Being seen by so few. Lasting but a short while. Holding the profundity of a clear summer sky in its little yield. Quickly gathered by the wind.

I have been reminded of the words of Peter in his First Epistle:

chapter o…

Brilliantly, Please

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(Today's entry in Come Ye Apart by J. R. Miller)

Hidden Lights


“Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed”

Mark 4:21


No one would think of doing such a thing. People always set a lamp where it will give the most light. It would be very absurd to cover it up so that its beams could not pour out. Yet that is just what a great many people do with their Christian life. It is a very striking figure, this that our Lord uses when describing Christians. He calls them lights, lamps, candles, which He lights with the fire of His own life when they believe on Him. There is much difference in the brightness of the light in different believers. Some are only little tapers; others are great lights. But even a taper makes one spot a little brighter.

The point of our Lord’s teaching here is that the light is not to be hidden or covered up, but permitted to shine. Yet some people do indeed put their candle under a bushel. They carry it so that it never gives light to others. Sometime…

Ablutions

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Isaiah 64

1Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence,

2As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!

3When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.

4For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.

5Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.

6But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

7And there is none that calleth upon…

The Book-Ends

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In my estimation Isaiah 61 is one of the most beautiful portions of the Old Testament. It is so strongly prophetic of the earth ministry of Jesus, from beginning to end.

It begins with a statement of the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon the messenger of Good News, healing, comfort and liberation. It offers an exchange of joy for sorrow through faith. It closes with a reminder that one must accept freely the offer of the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness. One must come to the wedding. (Revelation 19:6-9)

Jesus in an early address in his home town of Nazareth made use of the early verses in describing his mission as Messiah:

Luke 4:

18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Then at the close of His ministry He is …

The Motivational Side

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Recently I had occasion to examine the statement of beliefs of one of our local churches. It attempted to be succinct, and wisely so. I felt that a good job had been done at summarizing the positional side of things.

Who is God? What is the Word of scripture? What is the Trinity? What did Jesus accomplish through His obedience and passion? What is the way of salvation? How does the Spirit help in sanctification, and in the bestowing of spiritual and ministry gifts? What is the baptism in the spirit? What are the ordinances of believers' baptism and communion? What is the hope of the Second Coming? What are the consummate destinies of eternal blessing or doom?

I found myself asking how to address the motivational side of things. Get the faithful going in compassionate Christ-like endeavour. Show fruits meet for repentance.

I thought of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). In this exchange between Jesus and a lawyer, I heard the Lord say two things:
1) How readest thou?
2) Go and…

Grin Big with Dennis Swanberg

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Strong Enough

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Getting down to get up. Not settling for your own power when His is available. The detonator of 2 Corinthians 12.

Thank you, Matthew West!

Chase Henry and Others

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IN my life I was the town drunkard;
When I died the priest denied me burial
In holy ground.
The which rebounded to my good fortune.
For the Protestants bought this lot,
And buried my body here,
Close to the grave of the banker Nicholas,
And of his wife Priscilla.
Take note, ye prudent and pious souls,
Of the cross-currents in life
Which bring honor to the dead, who lived in shame.

Mrs. Kessler

MR. Kessler, you know, was in the army,
And he drew six dollars a month as a pension,
And stood on the corner talking politics,
Or sat at home reading Grant's Memoirs;
And I supported the family by washing,
Learning the secrets of all the people
From their curtains, counterpanes, shirts and skirts.
For things that are new grow old at length,
They're replaced with better or none at all:
People are prospering or falling back.
And rents and patches widen with time;
No thread or needle can pace decay,
And there are stains that baffle soap,
And there are colors that run in spite of you,
Blamed though you are for spoil…

Strange Farm Talk

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Again a word from the prophet Amos...

Chapter 6:12
Shall horses run upon the rock? will one plow there with the oxen? for ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock.

The prophet speaks out against a community given over to vanity, unjust gain, dissipation, excess and licentious spirituality. They are headed for a fall. Their ventures are as destructive and ill-advised as the laming of a horse on rocky surfaces, or the breaking off of a plow. They see evil as good, and good as evil. The just and virtuous things of God seem odious.

Elsewhere one hears Paul the Apostle speak out against the vice and distraction of Rome:
Romans 1:32
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Is our society dallying at the brink of such a pit of folly? Check out the magazine titles at the till of your grocery store. Check out the silly "human interest' items on t…

Who Was Kateri?

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(The following is provided by the site http://conservation.catholic.org/kateri.htm)

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), also known as Blessed Catherine Tekakwitha, is honored by the Catholic Church as the patroness of ecology, nature, and the environment.

Tekakwitha's baptismal name is Catherine, which in the Iroquois languages is Kateri. Tekakwitha's Iroquois name can be translated as, "One who places things in order."1 or “To put all into place.”2 Other translations include, "she pushes with her hands" and "who walks groping for her way" (because of her faulty eyesight).

Tekakwitha was born at Ossernenon, which today is near Auriesville, New York, USA. Tekakwitha's father was a Mohawk chief and her mother was a Catholic Algonquin.

At the age of four, smallpox attacked Tekakwitha's village, taking the lives of her parents and baby brother, and leaving Tekakwitha an orphan. Although forever weakened, scarred, and partially blind, Teka…

Among the Wendat

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Took a drive yesterday to Midland and visited the inspiring grounds and cathedral of the Martyrs' Shrine. Built in 1926-27 the facility commemorates a twenty-five year outreach of the Jesuits to the Wendat or "Huron" nation (1625-1650).

Increasing hostility at the instance of the Iroquois nation led to the burning of the pallisaded Mission after ten years of use, and departure of the "blackrobes" and their staff of craftsmen, farmers and troops. The reaction from the Huron had been mixed. The wonderful story of Christ, the Man of mercy, on the one hand. The strangeness of culture and devastating imported European diseases, on the other. Before a year's stay on Christian Island and final return to France, there had been the fateful capture, torture and death of five martyrs at the hands of the Iroquois. The most recognizable being Fathers Brebeuf and Lalemant memorialized in the epic poem "Brebeuf and His Brethren" by E. J. Pratt (1940)

Inside the c…

Divine Softening

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Beneath Thy Cross

AM I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood's slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon--
I, only I.

Yet give not o'er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

I Will Not Smell, I Will Not Hear...

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Amos was a farmer, a shepherd and a tender of sycamore fruit in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. His very name meant "Burden" or "Burden-bearer". He was destined by the will of God to deliver a message of warning and rebuke to the idolatrous Northern Kingdom. There was no prophet or priest in his family line; no formal training. But his words were articulate and his message as sharp as a surgeon's scalpel.

Many of the warnings ring true in our age:
1. You have assimilated the idolatry and false hopes of your neighbours.
2. You see no coming rod of correction.
3. You delight in the excess of ill-gotten gain snatched from the poor and the vulnerable.
4. You see nothing but clear skies ahead.
5. You can hardly tolerate the pause of the sabbath.
6. Your sacrifices are insincere. I will not smell them.
7. Your praise is irreverent. I will not listen.
8. Your idea of the Day of the Lord is simply more pandering of yourselves.
9. If you were to serve me in truth, there would be m…

Spirit Baptism

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(Taken from Faith That Prevails by Smith Wigglesworth)

"Serving the Lord with all humility of mind." None of us
is going to be able to be a minister of this new covenant of
promise in the unction and power of the Spirit without
humility. It seems to me that the way to get up is to get down.
It is clear to me that in the measure that the dying of the Lord
is in me, the life of the Lord will abound in me. And to me,
truly, a Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not the goal, but it is an
inflow to reach the highest level, the holiest position that it is
possible for human nature to reach by Divine power. The
Baptism of the Holy Spirit is given to reveal and to make real
Him in whom dwells "all the fullness of the Godhead bodily"
(Colossians 2:9). So I see that to be baptized in the Holy
Spirit means to be baptized into death, into life, into power,
into fellowship with the Trinity, where the old life ceases to
be, and the life of God possesses us forever.
No man can live after seeing God; …