Sunday, June 27, 2010

Who Is Educated?

From Leaves of Gold (p 63)


A professor in Chicago is reported to have given the following test to his pupils. He told them they were not really educated unless they could say Yes to all these questions:

Has your education given you sympathy with all good causes and made you espouse them?

Has it made you a brother to the weak?

Have you learned how to make friends and to keep them?

Do you know what it is to be a friend yourself?

Can you look an honest man or a pure woman straight in the eye?

Do you see anything to love in a little child?

Will a lonely dog follow you down the street?

Can you be high-minded and happy in the meaner drudgeries of life?

Do you think washing dishes and hoeing corn just as compatible with high thinking as piano playing or golf?

Can you be happy alone?

Can you look out on the world and see anything but dollars and cents?

Can you look into a mud puddle by the wayside and see anything in the puddle but mud?

Can you look into the sky at night and see beyond the stars?

Can your soul claim relationship with the Creator?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Suppose...

Book IX, chapter 10

Saint Augustine reminiscing on a conversation with his mother:

Suppose, we said, that the tumult of a man’s flesh were to cease and all that his thoughts can conceive, of earth, of water, and of air, should no longer speak to him; suppose that the heavens and even his own soul were silent, no longer thinking of itself but passing beyond; suppose that his dreams and the visions of his imaginations spoke no more and that every tongue and every sign and all that is transient grew silent—for all these things have the same message to tell, if only we can hear it, and their message is this: We did not make ourselves, but he who abides for ever made us. Suppose, we said, that after giving us this message and bidding us listen to him who made them, they fell silent and he alone should speak to us, not through them but in his own voice, so that we should hear him speaking, not by any tongue of the flesh or by an angels voice, not in the sound of thunder or in some veiled parable, but in his own voice, the voice of the one whom we love in all these created things; suppose that we heard him himself, with none of these things between ourselves and him, just as in that brief moment my mother and I had reached out in thought and touched the eternal Wisdom which abides over all things; suppose that this state were to continue and all other visions of things inferior were to be removed, so that this single vision entranced and absorbed the one who beheld it and enveloped him in inward joys in such a way that for him life was eternally the same as that instant of understanding for which we had longed so much—would not this be what we are to understand by the words Come and share the joy of our Lord?. But when is it to be? (p.198)

Saint Augustine: Confessions. Translated by S. Pine-Coffin (1977) Penguin Classics.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Finding Faults

Working on the assembly line this week, we were plagued with problems. Most of the issues have surrounded the scalpel blade in the surgical equipment we make. So we have been diligent in checking the blade for nicks as we assemble this component. Everyone has been cautiously looking for damage on the edge of the blade.

But as my co-workers and I were checking over the blades, something interesting began to happen; we started seeing damage where there was none. We were becoming so focused on finding problems—we began to see imaginary faults. My co-worker noticed this and said, “Wow, it is as if we want to find problems; we are seeing things that aren’t there.”

Now how true is this in our walk with Christ; we get so hung up on the fact we are in a fallen world, that all we focus on are problems; in our world, in the people around us, and most of all—in our fellow Christians.

Yes, it is true—we are living “East of Eden”; but Christ is victorious. Yes the “whole creation groans, awaiting redemption” but there is still hope. Yes there is horror and evil in the world; but we have a risen Savior, Jesus Christ the righteous, seated at the right hand of the Father. To deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him is the hardest and most painful thing we ever do; yet Paul stated it best when he pointed us all towards the finish line when he wrote “This momentary light affliction is producing in us an eternal weight in glory far beyond all comparison.” Can we look on the humanity around us and realize that we are looking at fellow image bearers; created in the glorious imago Dei; and as such, deserve grace…the same grace given to us. Can we allow the love of Christ, the self-sacrificial love, to flow through us by the power of the Holy Spirit to minister to the hurting humanity around us? Or will we allow ourselves to remain blind to the hope and beauty, love and grace God gives to us each day.

This I recall to mind, Therefore I have hope, the Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail, they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant[slave], and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:3-8

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Choices

From the epilogue of JP Moreland’s book “The God Question

I offer you my final invitation. You are on a journey—that is not a choice, but the path you take is. I place before you what I believe are the two most plausible choices available. Some have tried to soften the atheistic, naturalist option by adding absolute values and other bells and whistles to it, but they are implausible, ad hoc revisions of atheism that do not sit well with it. And some would opt for a different form of theism, such as Islam. But based on all the available evidence, they are nowhere near as reasonable to believe as Christianity. Here, then are your two pathways. Ponder them wisely and choose well.

Bertrand Russell(1872-1970) gives a nice description of atheism:

That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, nor heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system; and that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.

Here is the other choice, stated nicely by St. Patrick (AD 387-493):

I arise today in a mighty strength, calling upon the Trinity, believing in the Three Persons, saying they are One, thanking my Creator.

I arise today strengthened by Christ’s own baptism, made strong by His crucifixion and His burial, made strong by His resurrection and ascension, made strong by His descent to meet me on the day of doom…

I arise today with God’s strength to pilot me, God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look ahead for me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to defend me, God’ way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to safeguard me: against devil’s traps, against attraction of sin, against pull of nature , against all who wish me ill near and far, alone and in a crowd…

Christ ever with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ to my right side, Christ to my left, Christ in His breadth, Christ in His length, Christ in depth, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today in mighty strength, making in my mouth the Trinity, believing in mind Three Person, confessing in heart they are One, thanking my Creator. Salvation is from the Lord. Salvation is from the Lord. Salvation is from Christ. May your salvation, three Lords, Be always with us. (pp 259-261)

J.P. Moreland (2009). The God Question. Eugene, OR. Harvest House Publishers.