Posts Tagged ‘Religion and Spirituality’

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QUOTE (John Newton) – Mar. 10

March 10, 2014

John Newton, slave trader, abolitionist, minis...

“If two angels were to receive at the same moment a commission from God, one to go down and rule earth’s grandest empire, the other to go and sweep the streets of its meanest village, it would be a matter of entire indifference to each which service fell to his lot, the post of ruler or the post of scavenger; for the joy of the angels lies only in obedience to God’s will, and with equal joy they would lift a Lazarus in his rags to Abraham’s bosom, or be a chariot of fire to carry an Elijah home.”
~ John Newton

In honor of John Newton, former slave trader, Pastor, and author of the classic “Amazing Grace”, who came to Christ on this day in 1747 during a violent storm at sea.  He stated “That 10th of March is a day much to be remembered by me; and I have never allowed it to pass unnoticed since the year 1748. For on that day the Lord came from on high and delivered me out of deep waters.”

Resources:
Today in History – March 10
John Newton>Quotes

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QUOTE (Thomas Aquinas) – Jan 28

January 28, 2014

The fifth of Thomas Aquinas' proofs of God's e...

“God Himself is the rule and mode of virtue. Our faith is measured by divine truth, our hope by the greatness of His power and faithful affection, our charity by His goodness. His truth, power and goodness outreach any measure of reason. We can certainly never believe, trust or love God more than, or even as much as, we should. Extravagance is impossible. Here is no virtuous moderation, no measurable mean; the more extreme our activity, the better we are.”
~ Thomas Aquinas

In honor of Thomas Aquinas, an immensely influential theologian and philosopher whose Summa Theologica is one of the most influential documents in medieval theology.  He was born on this day in 1225.

Resources:
Today in History – January 28
Thomas Aquinas > Quotes > Quotable Quote

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QUOTE (Richard Baxter) – Dec 8

December 8, 2013

Richard Baxter, Puritan Theologian

“Nothing can be rightly known, if God be not known; nor is any study well managed, nor to any great purpose, if God is not studied. We know little of the creature, till we know it as it stands related to the Creator: single letters, and syllables uncomposed, are no better than nonsense. He who overlooketh him who is the ‘Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,’ and seeth not him in all who is the All of all, doth see nothing at all. All creatures, as such, are broken syllables; they signify nothing as separated from God. Were they separated actually, they would cease to be, and the separation would be annhiliation; and when we separate them in our fancies, we make nothing of them to ourselves. It is one thing to know the creatures as Aristotle, and another thing to know them as a Christian. None but a Christian can read one line of his Physics so as to understand it rightly. It is a high and excellent study, and of greater use than many apprehend; but it is the smallest part of it that Aristotle can teach us.”
~ Richard Baxter

In honor of Richard Baxter, an English Puritan, who died on this day in 1691.

Resources:
Richard Baxter (1615-1691)
Today in History – December 8
Richard Baxter > Quotes

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THE MEAT OF AVERAGE – Dec. 21th

December 21, 2012

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.”
1 Cor. 9:24

I competed in my first triathlon back in August.  My goal was to finish in the top fifty of my age class. I finished 51st and was a little bummed. However, I was slight over 50% of the whole field so I was safely in the bell curve of the competition and, most importantly, I didn’t embarrass myself.

I have never won a “real” race.  I have never even placed in a real race. I don’t pursue the unrealistic goal of actually winning.  My primary goal is to simply not embarrass myself.  I don’t want to be that guy who pukes or soils himself. If I can finish in the meat of the bell curve, then I will be happy.

bell_curve

I have never been the smartest person in a “real” class. I have always been the victim of the exceptional; those who would skew the class grading curve in a direction that I never found favorable.  I was not valedictorian at my University, High School, Middle School, or Kindergarten, for that matter. My primary academic goal has been to pass the class and not embarrass myself.

I have never been artistic. I am amazed by those who can create art. I am in awe of those who can move me to tears with music; who can paint vivid images with a palette of words; who can convey profound meaning in images.  My attempts at “art” are shared within a very limited circle because I simply don’t want to embarrass myself.

I continually ask people if what I am communicating “makes sense” to them because I have learned that everything that makes perfect sense within my mind does not always get communicated in a way that makes sense to anyone else and that is embarrassing.

I am the meat of the bell curve and so are about 68% of you all.  We are the meat of average. We are the ones that have not won the prizes, ribbons, scholarships, commendations, or honors.

Therefore, it might seem daunting  for the majority of us, who are so familiar with being the meat, when the Bible talks about competing for a prize.  It is particularly daunting when the consequences of that race is eternal life.

That is until we realize that our race is not an individual race. Our race is a team competition and our partner has already secured the victory.  We have already won.  There is no chance of being embarrassed. There is no chance of failure. We just need to endure to the end and finish.  We just have to get across the line and the victory is ours.

All the accolades will be for the one who actually earned the victory, as it should be.  My inability to secure the prize on my own just amplifies his gloriousness.

PRAYER: Father – Thank you for securing the victory through your Son.  Thank you for showing me that it is a race that I could never finish on my own.  Thank you for giving me what I have not earned or deserve.  Lord, I praise your holy name for you are worthy of all praise.    Amen

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STRUTTING IN OUR POMP- Dec. 20th

December 20, 2012

“Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.” Psalm 49:12

51XDTE5ET4L__SL500_AA300_The other day I took my kids into the “big city” to finish up our Christmas shopping.  I am a sucker for coffee table books so I had to linger in one store over a wonderful book on castles and fortresses.  The photography was excellent and I was momentarily transported to a time of grandeur and pomp.  I was nudged back to my warehouse reality by the bustling of the crowd and the urgency of youth to do anything but look at coffee table books.

My mind returned to those castles on our drive home through the daze that Christmas shopping elicits.  I contemplated the reality that those impressive structures of wealth and power had been someone’s home.  They had been home to people of importance, influence, and maybe even reverence or fear. They were constructed as a statement about the owner. However, that statement is now lost because I do not know nor care about any of the owners. I wonder how long it took for their memories to fade.

Each and every one of those “great” men, who built these structures of which I still marvel, had surrounded themselves with their pomp. Each and every one of them are gone; they have gone the way of every beast and perished. I wonder where they are now.  Their pomp stripped away and assumed by another in an endless cycle. It is a cycle that reminds me of the roosters that we have had in our chicken coop.

RoosterSF1All our farm animals, roosters have pomp.

They strut in all of their perceived chicken brilliance. They ruffle their colorful feathers. They perform the cockerel “waltz”.  They stick out their chests and parade around their domain in complete pomp and circumstance. However, they have no understanding of where their food or water comes from. They are ignorant about how the concrete floor of their coop was built. They cannot appreciate the protection given to them every moment of every day by these entities only vaguely perceived on the periphery of their reality.

Yet, they strut.

They are oblivious to chemistry, physics, calculus, medicine, philosophy, language, art, music; all are a mystery beyond their feeble brains. They cannot comprehend cities, skyscrapers, cars, cell phones, computers, microwaves, airplanes, space travel, planets, stars, galaxies …

Yet, they strut.

They even have the audacity to challenge those who sustain them. They charge the ones who care for them, flapping their wings and extending their talons. They don’t understand the speed at which they can become the main ingredient in a casserole. They do not realize the brevity of their life.

Yet, they strut.

They do not realize that the value of their life is equivalent to a flavored latte.

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We have the tendency to live our lives more like these roosters than we may care to admit. We can surround ourselves with so much pomp and circumstance, completely unmindful of all the mysteries sustaining us. Most of the time we don’t even know the right questions to ask.

I shock myself at how easily I can become consumed with the importance of my own “little coop”. I can strut around in my pomp – reveling in my self-perceived importance – offended by those who don’t esteem me as they should. I have even had the audacity of making demands of the One who sustains me. I have been disappointed that he has not cared for me according to my plan as if I understand the mysteries of the universe better than its architect and creator.

“This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;…” Psalm 49:13

This world is populated with those strutting along the path of foolish confidence insensible to the glorious mysteries all around them.

As brilliant as any rooster may be, it is still a chicken.

As brilliant as any man or woman may be, they are still human.

No matter what great structure they build, no matter what achievements they may obtain, they are still created men.

Man is mere man, but God is God.  May we remember that the next time we are inclined to do a little strutting.

May we humble ourselves and worship him for he is due all our praise.

PRAYER: Father – Thank you for all of the grace and mercy that you have shown me. Thank you for sustaining me in ways that I am not even aware.  Lord, forgive me of my foolish confidence. Forgive me of so quickly reverting back to a “coop” mindset. Forgive me for setting my mind on the things of this world and on my own flesh. Father, help me to set my eyes on you in all things – help me to set my mind on the things of the Spirit and to place all of my confidence in you.    Amen

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BOWLING WITH BUMPERS – Dec. 17th

December 17, 2012

“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” Luke 21:34

Bowling ball

Bowling ball (Photo credit: jonnykeelty)

I took my daughter and her friend bowling yesterday. It was bowling without consequences. They were bowling with bumpers. Bowling bumpers are metal barriers raised in the gutters to keep the bowling ball in the lane. The result was that pins fell on every try.  That is not very realistic given the bowling skills of these two young ladies.The girls made great use of the bumpers as they bowled. Rather than bowling as if the bumpers were not there, they incorporated the bumpers into their game.  The bumpers are supposed to be a safety net. However, they were bouncing the ball between the bumpers and turned their lane into a form of a pin-ball game. They were playing a game but it was not really bowling.

Does God give us bumpers to our spiritual lives? I know some folks who live their lives like one misstep will send them head long into the gutter of destruction. I know other folks who live like there are no gutters and go bouncing down the lane of life without a care or concern for the consequences of their actions – like there are none.

There is no easy answer to this question because I think that it is “yes” and “no”.  The answer depends upon how the question is defined. If we consider that falling into the gutter of life is the loss of one’s salvation, then I believe that God has given us bumpers. I believe in the eternal security of the children of God. However, the manner in which you live reveals whether you are actually participating in the right game. I am concerned for anyone that lives smashed against the bumper or bouncing between the two sides as if they are trying to get out of the lane.

Those who are called by God will desire to go down the center of the lane; periodically we may stray off course but we should not want to be up against the bumper. Those who purposefully seek to get out of the lane should be concerned because I don’t think that they are playing the game that they think they are – I don’t think that they are saved.  Those who love Jesus will desire to keep his commandments – they will desire to be in the center of the lane.  If you don’t – then your love for Christ has to be questioned – if you don’t value Christ as a treasure then you may not really know him personally.

The other way this question is viewed is that God will keep us out of the gutter of bad consequences.  I believe that the answer to this is absolutely “no.”  Falling into the gutter of bad consequences is often how God teaches us some very important lessons. My daughter did not focus on improving her bowling because there were bumpers. There was no need for her to heed the warnings of the gutter because there was no way for her ball to fall into it. My guess is that she and her friend would have focused more on how they threw their balls if there were gutters.

God has given us many warnings to watch ourselves. If it was impossible for us to fall into dissipation or drunkenness or the cares of life or all his other warnings, then why would he tell us to watch ourselves or examine ourselves? I believe that he tell us that because it is possible. We have the opportunity in life to learn the easy way or the hard way – God loves us so he is going to make sure that we learn and grow – how depends on whether we live like there are bumpers or not.

PRAYER: Lord – Forgive me for all the times that I have lived in an indifferent manner to your commandments – as if there were bumpers to protect me from the consequences.  Thank you for sparing me from many of those consequences. Father, thank you for not requiring me to live a perfect life. Thank you for sending your son to live a perfect life for me and to bear the punishment of my sin. Thank you for that treasure.  Help me to value that gift in my heart more than anything.  Renew the amazement of my own salvation.  Give me a desire to follow you with my whole heart.   Amen

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