Thursday, January 23, 2014

"God's Business"

From A Diary of Readings, titled “God’s Business”

‘What does God do all day?’, once asked a little boy. One could wish that more grown-up people would ask so very real a question. Unfortunately most of us are not even boys in religious intelligence, but only very unthinking babes. It no more occurs to us that God is engaged in any particular work in the world than it occurs to a little child that its father does anything except be its father. Its father may be a cabinet minister absorbed in the nation’s work or an inventor deep in schemes for the word’s good; but to this master-egoist he is father and  noting more. Childhood, whether in the physical or in the moral world, is the great self-centered period of life; and a personal God who satisfies personal ends is all that for a long time many a Christian understands.
         But as clearly as there comes to the growing child a knowledge of his father’s part in the world, and a sense of what real life means, there must come to every Christian, whose growth is true, some richer sense of the meaning of Christianity and a larger view of Christ’s purpose for mankind. To miss this is to miss the whole splendor and glory of Christ’s religion. Next to losing the sense of a personal Christ, the worst evil that can befall a Christian is to have no sense of anything else. To grow up in complacent belief that God has no business in this great groaning world of human beings except to attend to a few saved souls is the negation of all religion. The first great epoch in a Christian’s life, after the awe and wonder of its dawn, is when there breaks into his mind some sense that Christ has a purpose for mankind, a purpose beyond him and his needs, beyond the churches and their creeds, beyond heaven and its saints—a purpose which embraces every man and woman born, every kindred and nation formed, which regards not their spiritual good alone, but their welfare in every part, their progress, their health, their work, their wages, their happiness in this present world.

—Henry Drummond, The Programme of Christianity (1882)

From the book A Diary of Readings, compiled by John Baillie (1955, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Journey or The Destination?

Mountain path (c) Lisa Guinther 2014

There are many challenges to our walk with Christ, and it seems that there are many, many rules to follow; things we are told not to do, stuff we need to repent of, attitudes that need changing, and the trial it is to be gracious to others in our Christian community, when there are so many thing that we are sure need fixing…either in our local church or on the internet!

We sing of the glory to come, we long to finally be in that far country where every tear will be wiped away, the pain will end and we will be in the presence of the Lord.

Yes, it must be that it’s all about the destination.

Or is it?

I think we all forget the record of God’s plea for our hearts to be turned to him throughout the Old Testament, that we would cling to him, cry out to him, that we would seek him with “all our hearts, soul and strength”; in other words, with the entirety of our being.

Then when the promised Messiah came to earth, he reminded us (again) to love the Lord our God with the entirety of our being and “…love our neighbor as [ourselves]” that we should treat other as we wish to be treated; regardless of how we really are being treated by those other people, and without looking for a quid pro quo.

But in this process of growing in Christ, to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” and the command (not suggestion) that we bear much fruit, it seems that all these rules and commands point to one over arching teaching: it is how we journey in this life that will determine our destination.

Think about it.

If you pray to God for others to be more loving to practice it.

If you pray to God for others to be more gracious to be the example.

If you pray to God for peace in the in harmony with your actual neighbors (and find out who they are!)

The only way we will all grow up in the love and unity of the Faith, is for us to practice how we walk on our journey now.

That is where God can meet us and change us, prune and shape us; that His kingdom with be “on earth as it is in heaven.”


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Back To the Beginning

As I was in the midst of my morning routine, it struck me (from the Holy Spirit no doubt), that this blog, Insights from the Furnace, has strayed from the original purpose for which it was given to me in the first place; and that was to post the insights that God gives me from time to time.

Well, I am going back to the beginning, the genesis of this blog, and re-connect with God and the insights from within the trials of the spiritual refining process that I call “The Furnace” of life. 

So I will again keep my notebook handy, prayerfully select verses of scripture to meditate on throughout my day, record and then post the insights that come to mind.

I will still post book reviews and passages from current readings, but I am going to re-connect with that True Light and share the illuminations that come to mind.

In Christ,

Lisa Guinther 

Friday, January 3, 2014

"A Student's Prayer" by John W. Peterson

Today I read a great post by Mark Eckel on his blog Warp & Woof, titled Intellectuals in Love, which of course caught my eye. Mark wrote of the love of learning that we all should cultivate.

But what caught my eye near the end of his piece was the first verse of a hymn called A Student's Prayer.

I did some digging around the web and found that it was written by John W. Peterson (1921-2006). But I found the entire hymn posted here on Drew Patrick's blog Called Out.

As I read these words I think of those who have questioned my study of philosophy; fellow students who have asked me "How can you like to study this, you are a Christian?"

My response is always, to praise the great writing, great thinking, and then to say "These words challenge and deepen my faith."

I have found that my studies do "Bind [me]closer, Lord, to Thee..."

*Thanks Drew for the music as well.*

A Student's Prayer 

God, the all-wise, and Creator
Of the human intellect,
Guide our search of truth and knowledge,
All our thoughts and ways direct.
Help us build the tow'rs of learning
That would make us wise, astute,
On the rock of Holy Scripture:
Truth revealed and absolute.

O How vast the shores of learning
There are still uncharted seas,
And they call to bold adventure
Those who turn from sloth and ease.
But we need Thy hand to guide us
In the studies we pursue,
And the presence of Thy Spirit
To illumine all we do.

May the things we learn, so meager,
Never lift our hearts in pride
Till in foolish self-reliance
We would wander from Thy side.
Let them only bind us closer,
Lord, to Thee, in whom we find
Very fountain-head of wisdom,
Light and life of all man-kind.

© John W. Peterson Music Co. 1965