This is a pretty fair description of my blogging life right now. Explains my silence here, anyway!
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A few years ago (well, more like ten) a good friend of mine gave me a used copy of this little devotional book, now out of print. It contains a single page for each day of the year, and includes a Bible verse (KJV) and up to three related quotes, sometimes including poetry or hymn lyrics. The quotes are from various Christian writers from the Renaissance up through the 1800s. I’ve discovered so many gems in this book over the years, by writers of whom I’d never heard.
Although I always intend to read from it every night, there is often a long lag between times when I open its worn paper cover. Last night when I turned to the reading for February 12th, I was delighted to read a quote about Lent which I never remembered seeing before. Since today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, I thought it would be appropriate to share it here:
“Am I really what I ought to be? Am I what, in the bottom of my heart, I honestly wish to be? Am I living a life at all like what I myself approve? My secret nature, the true complexion of my character, is hidden from all men, and only I know it. Is it such as I should be wiling to show? Is my soul at all like what my kindest and most intimate friends believe? Is my heart at all such as I should wish the Searcher of Hearts to judge me by? Is every year adding to my devotion, to my unselfishness, to my conscientiousness, to my freedom from the hypocrisy of seeming so much better than I am? When I compare myself with last year, am I more ready to surrender myself at the call of duty? Am I more alive to the commands of conscience? Have I shaken off my besetting sins?” These are the questions which this season of Lent ought to find us putting fairly and honestly to our hearts.
–Frederick Temple (1821 – 1902)
Posted in Lent, Meditations | Tagged Challenging questions, Frederick Temple, Joy and Strength, Lenten quotes | 4 Comments »
This morning I finished Still: Notes on a mid-faith crisis, a book by an author I have long admired, Lauren Winner. Although I was initially shocked and saddened to find that she had divorced her husband and gone through a faith crisis, I am thankful she chose to write this book, and gladdened that she is finding her way through this time with God’s help.
Winner’s writing in this volume is in the form of brief meditations. Early in the book, there is quite a bit of narrative, and we feel we’re getting some of the back story which precipitated this crisis. But as she progresses, the short chapters develop a concentrated, almost poetic voice. Each is a lovely essay which might stand alone. Continue Reading »
Posted in books, Meditations | Tagged Lauren Winner, Still, mid-faith crisis, resolution, recommitment, renewal, vows, liturgy | 4 Comments »
Our snowy season has finally arrived, and now four inches blanket the ground. Part of me feels as if Christmas has finally arrived…the lights and decorations never look quite right until there is a snow on the ground. Introducing my granddaughter to snow has been fun, but mostly we’ve enjoyed being cozy and quiet indoors for the past few days.
This past Sunday as I putter around, preparing to go over to church early for worship team practice, a thought occurs to me: the aging process makes practicing contentment even more of a necessity than ever. There is surely no point in dwelling in the past, when I was physically able to do things that I probably will never do again, even if the opportunity arose. There is no reason to long for an imagined future…next big milestone for most of us after 50 is either retirement or death. Since I’m self-employed, well–there you are.
Contentment means that I embrace the present, I accept that THIS is where I am, at this time in history, in THIS town, THIS house, with THIS set of friends and relations. There are many things that I cannot change. Now more than ever I need to seek what God wants me to do with the resources that I have right now.
Because right now is all I have.
In truth, it’s all any of us has. But it’s easier to ignore or deny that when one is young and strong. When the aches and pains kick in and simple tasks get harder, then I have to face the fact that I have no idea how many more earth days I have left. That can be scary, or depressing, or I can see it as a challenge not to waste any more time. “Redeem the time because the days are evil,” says the Psalmist.
Contentment is active trust, saying to the Lord, “This is where You have put me, and You have work for me to do here. Please show me.” This is a lesson I learned long ago, and one I’ve taught many times since. Recently I think I’d lost sight of it. Now is a good time to put it into practice once more.
Happy New Year!
Posted in Meditations | Tagged aging, contentment, New Year, Redeeming the time, trust | 1 Comment »
Our pastor’s devotional message for Christmas Eve was rich with ideas to ponder. He unwrapped (literally and figuratively) the three gifts of God given us in Christ’s birth, using Luke 2:1-20 as his text.
“For unto you is born this day a Savior…”
The first gift God gave was Salvation. We need to be saved FROM our sins (as a drowning man in rough seas must first be pulled from the water); we are saved TO a faith community and a relationship with God (as the drowning man is hauled into a lifeboat); we are saved FOR a walk in new life and new purpose (as the man is returned to the safety of dry land). Forgiveness, repentance and recompense. If we refuse to forgive a repentant brother in Christ, are we saying that Christ’s death was not sufficient for the task? If God forgives, can we refuse to ?
…”Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”
The second gift God gave was Peace. Peace in this world doesn’t mean the absence of conflict, but the presence of the Savior in the midst of conflict. We will never have true peace among all men on this earth until the Lord’s return, but in the meantime all His children can experience His peace which is beyond human reason and comprehension, because we have His presence with us, living in us.
The third gift of God that night was Hope. While Salvation speaks to what is past, and Peace allows us to live in this present life, Hope looks forward to that blessed day when we shall be with God in glory. Death will be swallowed up in life, every tear will be wiped away. Do you know this verse of “Joy to the World”?
No more let sin or sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground!
He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found…
Far as the curse is found… Far as, far as the curse is found.
May your Christmas be rich with the gifts of Salvation, Peace and Hope.
Posted in Christmas memories, Meditations, Uncategorized | Tagged Christ, Christmas, Christmas presents, gifts, hope, Joy to the World, Luke 2, Peace, Salvation, serrmon | Leave a Comment »
This is beautifully expressed and to the point.
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