..."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)

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Voice of Strangers

....the sheep hear his voice and he calls His own sheep by name
and leads them out....yet they will by no means follow a
stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the
voice of a stranger." (John 10: 3, 5)

What a great promise and a sobering warning this is to us!
God knows His own by name and calls them out. He leads
them safely and gives His life for them. But many strangers
try and raise their voice to lure the sheep toward them.
The land, the world, is full of such voices. They are
everywhere and they are in places you would not
expect them to be. So we must listen to who is calling us.

So many are trying to gather people unto themselves
for their own purposes. Some of those people are
naive. Some are misguided. Some are malevolent.
Some are ravening wolves. Some are in league with
the devil. None have a  shepherd's heart toward you.

Our sole job is to listen and know the Shepherd's voice.
We are in the midst of a war. Strange voices
are vying for our souls. Many want to eat us.
Only Jesus, our good Shepherd, can protect and keep us. 
It is not really a scary matter, but a simple matter of faith and
of hearing.

There is not much we can do to defend ourselves:
sheep don't have much in the way of offensive
resources. But we can trust our Shepherd and
listen to Him. That we can do. He will protect
us. The others do not care for our souls.

How will we hear? First, we must listen. Then
we must discern. Is this the One who loves
me and has given His life for me? Is this
the One who leads me beside still waters?
Is this the One who restores my soul?

When we spend much time with our Beloved
we know what He is like. We can feel His
protection and love for us. We know His
demeanor and His ways. We know His
protective Hand. But the voice of another
we do not recognize.

Dear Ones, when you do not recognize the voice, do not
follow it no matter how sweetly it calls to you. If it promises
that which fulfills the lust of the flesh, the lust of
the eyes, or the pride of life, beware! The hook is
hidden by the bait!

Listen! Listen! Listen!

photo taken in the Yorkshire Dales, UK

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Church of God and the Church of Man

The relevance of the laity received the greatest emphasis
in the sectarian apostolic movements after the 12th century,
and especially in the 14th century through Wycliffe. The
specific significance of this peculiar set of protests and
movements is that their inspiration was purely religious. They
squarely confronted the "ecclesiastical-hierarchical" line with
the "biblical" one. They were, of course, not wholly unaffected
by repercussions of the conflict between the worldly-conceived
papal theocracy and the nationalistic demands of the nations
and their rulers for an independent status, but their heart lay
really with a reform of the Church in the light of the Word of God.

fn. Looking back on these struggles, one is again and again
struck by the daring and independence of mind shown in the
Middle Ages, a time which is always considered to be marked by
submissiveness, especially to authority claimed on religious
grounds as necessary to salvation. This amazement increases
when one takes into consideration our own time, which regards
itself by definition as the time of non-submissiveness.

Nevertheless, whatever movements of protest and conflict there
may be to-day against the hierarchy, they are very weak in
daring and independence in comparison with those of the Middle
Ages. In our secularistic age, in which submissiveness is
devalued on principle, submissiveness to the hierarchical
claims of the Church has never before been so undisputed.

... Hendrik Kraemer (1888-1965), A Theology of the Laity,
London: Lutterworth Press, 1958, p. 60-61

Lord, Truly lead Your church.

photo taken of Ely Cathedral, Ely, UK
in the fog

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sailing on Lake Windermere

A man should learn to sail in all winds.--Italian Proverb

photo taken on Lake Windermere, Windermere, UK

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Were you to simply remain in God's presence, that would be a great  help to you, supporting you in your troubles and helping you to bear them patiently. Be sure that God is more ready than ever to
welcome you into his arms, and that as your distress increases so does his mercy towards you increase and abound.

- John Baptist de La Salle

photo taken at Wastwater, Cumbria UK

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

There is absolutely no substitute for this secret communion with
God. The public Church services, or even the family altar, cannot
take the place of the 'closet' prayer. We must deliberately seek to
meet with God absolutely alone, and to secure such aloneness with
God we are bidden to enter into thy closet.' God absolutely insists
on this 'closet'-communion with Himself. One reason, no doubt, that
He demands it, is to test our sincerity. There is no test for the
soul like solitude.

Do you shrink from solitude? Perhaps the cause for your neglect
of the 'closet' is a guilty conscience? You are afraid to enter into
the solitude. You know that however cheerful you appear to
be you are not really happy. You surround yourself
with company lest, being alone, truth should invade your delusion.

- Gordon Cove

photo taken at Lake Quantabacook, Searsmont, Maine

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"God is present by Love alone. By Love alone
He is great and glorious. By Love alone He liveth
and feeleth in other persons.By Love alone He
enjoyeth all the creatures, by Love alone He
is pleasing to Himself, by Love alone He is rich
and blessed...

The soul is shrivelled up and buried in a grave that
does not love. But that which does love wisely and
truly is the joy and end of all the world, the King of
Heaven, and the Friend of God.

... Thomas Traherne (1637?-1674),"

photo taken at Lake Quantabacook, Searsport, Maine

Monday, August 09, 2010

If God be our God, He will give us peace in trouble. When there
is a storm without, He will make peace within. The world can
create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.

- Thomas Watson

photo taken in Windermere, UK

Sunday, August 08, 2010

What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever. -

Westminster Shorter Catechism (London, 1647)

photo taken at Orrest Hill, Windermere, UK

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Church of God & the Church of Man

We [Paul and Silas] loved you so much that we were
delighted to share with you not only
the gospel of God but our lives as well, because
you had become so dear to us.
--1 Thessalonians 2:8

Priestcraft ... is fostered whenever
and wherever the ... whole people of God
begins to view the ordained ministry as an
office rather than as a function, and allows
the office to shape the function rather than
the function to shape the office.

Most churches and most Christians in
Britain--the denomination is immaterial--
conceive the ministry as a professionalized
caste with its own exclusive tabus...

The humblest and--in the ecclesiastical sense
--lowest Congregational or Methodist chapel
 is as vulnerable as any to priestcraft, even if
it possesses no ordained minister to play
the role of the priest, for it can and usually
does allow the very absence of a minister to
limit unnecessarily the ministry of its members,
both in the church and in the community.

Such chapels, indeed, quite often openly put
forward their lack of a paid, professional minister
as an excuse for their introversion. "We can't
possibly do this ... study this ... attend that.
We haven't got a minister." The corrosive
influence is especially visible in these churches'
pattern of  worship. Whoever is actually
conducting the services, ordained minister or
visiting lay preacher, the pattern is irretrievably
sacerdotal, the congregation neither speaking
by itself nor performing an action from start to
finish. Even the Lord's Prayer is commonly
"led" in a loud voice from the pulpit,
presumably in case the congregation forgets
the words.

... Christopher Driver (1932-1997), A Future for the Free
Churches?, London: SCM Press, 1962,

photo taken near Glencoe, Scotland