..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

The beginning of Holy Week finds Jesus
in the family of Lazarus. He is a Man and
He knows what lays before Him. From
here on in we are able to follow,
step by step, the unfolding Passion.

He travels south toward Jerusalem
from a retired spot on the borders
of Samaria where He spent several
solitary days in prayer preparing for
all that was to come. He passes
along the wild and dangerous
Jericho Road (where the story
of the Good Samaritan happened)
and comes late on Friday to Bethany
which is about 3 or 4 miles from
Jerusalem. Here he enters the house
of His friends, one of whom He had
raised from the dead a few weeks

There Simon makes a feast for this
Divine Guest, knowing the human well,
but the Divine, not so much. Here
Lazarus sits with the mysterious
experience of the grave, and of
the resurrection, hidden in his heart.
Martha is serving because that is
what Martha does. One of the Mary's
annoints His head for a burial that
awaits Him.

You don't need a fertile imagination
to feel what happened that evening:
a happy group in the shadow of
the Cross, the tender communion,
the thankful remembrance, the pledges
of eternal fidelity too touching to
spoil with words.

The next morning He moves towards
the Temple with its sacrifices, with
the companies of pilgrims, driving
sheep to the altar, One of them
the Lamb of God--the One final,
perfect and sufficient sacrifice.

The Hour is drawing near. He will
enter as a King, a different kind
of King. The donkey is brought;
the crowd grows large. Suddenly
as they raise to the top of the crest
where the City in its historic glory
breaks forth into sight: the familiar
words of prophecy come to pass:

"Tell ye the daughters of Zion, Behold
thy King cometh."

Soon a thousand voices mingle
together: "Hosannah to the Son
of David." But the King is to become
a Sufferer. All our humanity, with
all our moods and conditions is
known to Him, interpreted by Him,
mastered by Him. All the rooms
of the human house are for Him to
inhabit. It is not all one-sided.
He knows all and is with us in all.

The Saviour sighs for us that we may
not sigh forever. Imagine a pretend
Christ who demands our faith chiefly
on the score of His interest in us
when we are happy or brave or good.
How like the world that would be!
How unlike Christ! Without His suffering
Passion He cannot command the
souls of His people. "For it became
Him, for whom are all things, in bringing
many sons to glory, to make the captain
of their salvation perfect through sufferings."

Our truest self emerges more when we
suffer than when things are going well.
When all is well your soul is not proved,
it is not prosperity that refines your soul,
but adversity. Our deepest eternal
choices are born in the dark night
of the soul.

However fortunate your present lot
in life is, do not trust yourself to
Anyone but the Man of Sorrows. His
death is not a mechanical transaction
stamped cooly at a distance for our
sins. Oh not this! His suffering
redeems our own; His life and death
determine our life and death. We
know His crucifixion only as we are
crucified with Him. We will know
resurrection only by abiding in Him.

"So let us bear about the dying of
the Lord Jesus, so that the life
also of Jesus might be manifested
in these mortal bodies

"New Helps for a Holy Lent" 1882.
Frederick Huntington, (abridged and adapted)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Without Him, what a dreary, lonesome wilderness
would this be! But with Christ in the heart, and the
heart resting in Christ- He in the center of our souls,
and our affections and desires centering on Him- the
desert loses its solitude and its desolateness. To have
the eye resting on Jesus- all our heart-springs in Him-
the spirit in frequent excursions where He dwells in
light and glory- to lean upon Him and converse with
Him as though He were actually walking by our side,
sitting at our table, associating with us in our callings-
this, this is heavenly-mindedness.

--Octavious Winslow

photo taken at Smith College, Northampton, MA

Stop Complaining and Fault-Finding

"Do all things without murmurings"

A subtle snares lays in the sin of
excessive fault-finding.Self-knowledge
is rare, we rarely see our sins and
our shortcomings. But let me tell you
something: complainers make even
less progress in this area.

It is doubtful whether one person
in a hundred of those who are always
looking at the bad side of things,
always pointing fingers, always
trying to pick apart what other
people say will be found to be
in any degree aware at how far
their own hearts lay away from God.

They view themselves as spiritual,
as without major defect, having
a sweet tongue, and think they
are easy to live with. What a joke!

The clever critic has a bitter tongue
and a hard heart. God searches
within and none of this kind of thing
is pleasing to Him. Whatever
happened to "love thinks no evil
but suffers long and is kind?"

Critical people disturb the very
air in a room, they provoke
people to argue, make virtue
difficult, exasperate children,
degrade the testimony of
the Church as a gentle people
given to love. Do we forget
how much mercy Christ has
shown us?

Even if we are trying to be
"good Christians" we can be sadly
unaware at the ceaseless dribble
of ill natured comments and
antagonizing accusations
coming from our tongues.

A school child can be quick
to hurt with hateful, jealous,
unkind remarks. Even a
woman who stays at home
can speak poorly of those
that come to serve her. A mother
can mean well but tear down
rather than build up. She may
expect her children to go
astray and so they do.

If you find yourself caught
in this disastrous bondage
take heed to these four things:

1) One day a week keep a strict
account of EVERYTHING you say.
Ask yourself how much of this is
complaining, and present the sad
score to yourself and to God at
night for reckoning.

2) Dare to ask a trusted friend to
keep you accountable and to
tell you when you start to fall into
bad talk.

3) Count your blessings, they are many.

4) Ask God for strength to make
the changes you need to.

If you follow these four simple
things, you can begin to change
the ugly habits that make you
...well, ugly.

"New Helps for A Holy Lent"
F.D. Huntington
adapted and abridged

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Oh that I was lowly in heart! Honor and dishonor, good report and
evil report would then be alike, and prove a furtherance to me in my
Christian cause.

—George Whitefield

photo taken at Smith College, Northampton, MA

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Be inwardly still, Friends, and wait patiently
 upon the revelation of the living flame of love
 that burns in the hidden depths of our hearts.
Place your hope in the purifying, enlightening,
 and liberating working of that Holy Flame,
and rest in that hope, and trust that the secret
life of Christ within us is itself the answer,
ineffable but sure, to the unutterable longing
of our souls.

--George Fox --Letter to Lady Claypole

photo taken at Smith College, Northampton, MA

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.-- Jonathan Swift

photo taken at Smith College, Northampton, MA
"Spring Tulip"

A Burst of Hope

"Ah, the hope found in a
single bloom of spring."

photo taken at Smith College,
Northampton, MA

Saturday, March 13, 2010

In Patience Possess Your Souls

In patience, possess your souls.

Patience is the endurance of tribulation out
of the love of God, and being willing to see
God in all circumstances. The offices of
patience are as varied as the ills of this life.

We need patience with ourself and with
others; both with our authorities and those
 that we govern, not forget with our own
equals. We need it with those  who love us
and those who do not. We need
it with big things and small things, against
the sudden inroads of trouble, whether it
be from the weather or a broken heart.

We need it when our body is tired and
when our soul is tired, when we have
failed others and others have failed us,
when we are sick and as we get old;
in disappointment, loss, injury, reproach;
when our hopes are delayed and even
we are tired of the ever present struggle
against sin.

All of these things are endured by
patience because we love God and
want to be found to be pleasing to Him.

All other virtues have need of patience
to perfect them. Patience puts herself
between every dart that the Evil One
throws at us. Patience is the root
and guardian of all virtue.

Impatience is like waves troubling a smooth
pond, hindering the perfect image
of Christ from being seen. It makes
the soul either outrun or fall short of
the perfect will of God. Impatience
will not listen, heeds nothing, fears
nothing, hopes nothing, judges nothing
correctly, does not persevere, except
in being restless! It shakes every
virtue and enters into almost every
sin. Impatience made Cain a murderer,
and Absalom a father-killer and
Judas a Christ-killer.

How does impatience shake one's faith
and cause one to be impatient
with the world, the church or one's own
self! It chills love and extinguish's hope.
It blights humility, quenches long suffering,
mars gentleness. Impatience of bodily
wants, leads people into drug, drink,
illicit sex, and leads them to lie,
cheat, and steal.

"In patience," our Lord says, "possess
your souls." What does this mean?
It means to lead all our emotions,
decisions, and needs to the grace of God
so that He can command us.

In the world, when someone is
disciplined and has a clear, steady
commands of things, we call him
"self-possessed." We have need
of that same single-mindedness but
not fueled by human will power but
by the Spirit of God. "It is not by
might nor power, but by My Spirit,"
says the Lord. So let patience
have her perfect work in you
and you shall be found pleasing
in the sight of God.

adapted and abridged from
"New Helps for a Holy Lent"
by Frederick D. Huntington, 1886

'Prayer does not fit us for the greater works;
prayer is the greater work.
--Charles Spurgeon

photo taken in Garibaldi, Oregon

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lord, teach me to listen. The times are
noisy and my ears are weary with the
 thousand raucous sounds which
continuously assault them.

Give me the spirit of the boy Samuel
when he said to Thee, "Speak,
for Thy servant heareth." Let me hear Thee
speaking in my heart. Let me get used to the
 sound of Thy voice, that its tones may be
familiar when the sounds of earth die away
and the only sound will be the music of Thy
 speaking. Amen.

- A. W. Tozer

photo taken in Abergavenny, Wales

Friday, March 05, 2010

Learn to Wait

In times of uncertainty, wait. Always, if you have any doubt, wait.

Do not force yourself into any action. If you have a restraint in your spirit, wait until all is clear, and do not go against it.

- Anonymous

photo taken in Garibaldi, Oregon

Planted by the Waters

And he shall be as a tree that is planted by the waters, that spreadeth out its roots towards moisture:
and it shall not fear
when the heat cometh. And the leaf thereof
shall be green, and in the time of drought
 it shall not be solicitous, neither shall it
cease at any time to bring
forth fruit.

--Jeremiah 17:8

photo taken in Garibaldi, Oregon

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

What was feeble you cast away".....

For the Abbot must have the utmost solicitude
and exercise all prudence and diligence
lest he lose any of the sheep entrusted to him.
Let him know that what he has undertaken is
the care of weak souls and not a tyranny over
strong ones; and let him fear the Prophet's warning
through which God says, "What you saw to be fat
you took to yourselves, and what was feeble you cast
away" (Ezek. 34:3,4).

Let him rather imitate the loving example of the Good
Shepherd who left the ninety-nine sheep in the
mountains and went to look for the one sheep that
had gone astray, on whose weakness He had such
compassion that He deigned to place it on His
own sacred shoulders and thus carry it back to
the flock (Luke 15:4-5).

This is from the rule of St. Benedict, the most
well known rules created for Christians living
in community, and as contemporary and sensible
today as it was when it was written 1500 years ago!

It is an increasingly grievious time as those who
call themselves "Christian leaders" move farther
and farther away from the Shepherd-Heart
of Christ. I read these words today and wept
at their truth and wept because they described
more of the current state of the Church then we
want to know.

God had given me this same verse
from Ezekiel last year. It is sobering and heart
wrenching....let us be about our Great Shepherd's
business. Start where you are--shepherd
one, go after one lost one, strengthen the
feeble, feed the lambs....