Tag Archives: Culture

From “Music For The Soul” by Alexander Maclaren

History has a voice, and if we choose to listen to it, rather than talk about it, we can still hear it’s echo….still trying to speak truth even now….

HUMAN REMEDIES FOR SIN UNAVAILING

Though thou wash thee with lye, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God. – Jer_2:22

Education? Yes! it will do a great deal, but it will do nothing in regard of sin. It will alter the type of the disease, because the cultured man’s transgressions will be very different from those of the illiterate boor. But wise or foolish, professor, student, thinker, or savage with narrow forehead and all but dead brain, are alike in this, that they are sinners in God’s sight. I would that I could get through the fence that some of you have reared round you, on the ground of your superior enlightenment and education and refinement, and make you feel that there is something deeper than all that, and that you may be a very clever, and a very well educated, a very highly cultured, an extremely thoughtful and philosophical sinner, but you are a sinner all the same.

Again, we hear a great deal at present, and I do not desire that we should hear less, about social and economic and political changes, which some eager enthusiasts suppose will bring the millennium. Well, if the land were nationalized, and all  “the means of production and distribution” were nationalized, and everybody got his share, and we were all brought to the communistic condition, what then? That would not make men better, in the deepest sense of the word. The fact is, these people are beginning at the wrong end. You cannot better humanity merely by altering its environment for the better. Christianity reverses the process. It begins with the inmost man, and it works outwards to the circumference; and that is the thorough way. Why?  Suppose you took a company of people out of the slums, for instance, and put them into a model lodging-house, how long will it continue a model?  They will take their dirty habits with them, and pull down the woodwork for firing, and make the place where they are as like as possible to the hovel whence they came in a very short time. You must change the men, and then you can change their circumstances, or, rather, they will change them for themselves. Now, all this is not to be taken as casting cold water on any such efforts to improve matters, but only as a protest against its being supposed that these alone are sufficient to rectify the ills and cure the sorrows of humanity. ” Ye have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly.”  The patient is dying of cancer, and you are treating him for a skin disease. It is Jesus Christ alone that can cure the sins, and so the sorrows, of humanity.

 

A Thought on Heroism

     Years ago, you could look at this country, and could say that one of the things that really made this country great was it’s people, but what made us, our people, so great.  A number of things, but perhaps the one thing that really set us apart, was our willingness to try.  We were a people who made an attempt to live extraordinary lives, and to do extraordinary things.  We were not afraid to make an attempt, and we were not afraid to fail.  When I look around me now, I see a lot of people who have the appearance of trying, of making an attempt, to do something, but upon closer examination I see that in many the attempt is half-hearted at best, and at its worst, nothing more than a staged ploy to appear to be what they truly have no intention of being.
     At one time, our people were heroic, not only our soldiers and first responders, but everyday people.  You don’t agree with this statement?  Ralph Waldo Emerson said that a hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.  As a people we used to symbolize that mentality in that we were willing to go a little further, work a little harder, do a little more than what was required.  The farmer, the steel-worker, the truck driver, the housewife, the factory-worker, people everywhere showed what true heroism is all about in that they were willing to do what all hero’s do.  They faced life with all its hardships and heartaches resolute and stalwart.  It wasn’t that they hadn’t known defeat, but in the face of it were undaunted.  They dug in, bent their back, and pushed back even harder against the waves of adversity and misfortune that threatened to overwhelm them.  These people, these everyday hero’s, were unafraid to try, and who never failed to make an attempt to do and to overcome any duty or obstacle that came their way.
     I’ve often wondered what’s the difference between those great people of yesteryear, and the people of today.  Was it the times they lived in that called them to be heroic, to be courageous?  Were the times they lived in so much worse than the times in which we live now?  I don’t believe that environment, circumstances, events, are the only things that give rise to heroism, but rather that heroism is a product of belief, faith, and trust.  To be a hero is to be someone who does what needs to be done no matter the cost; to be someone who is willing to sacrifice oneself for something far bigger than themselves..
     Throughout history, heroic people, have always been the standard-bearers of courage, honesty, and truth.  As a culture, as a people, we have always believed right or wrongly that our hero’s hold all the best traits of character, and in truth they do.  For most of our history, our country has consisted of a quietly heroic majority who have gone about the business of upholding the finest and best that our country has to offer.
     What has happened to our people?  How did we devolve from being a people of quiet heroism, and inner strength, willing to try, to attempt the impossible, to becoming a people who think that the federal government should take care of them, and that the rich should share with them?  When did heroism become a display of depravity, debauchery, and disgrace rather than a courageous, valiant, and united stand against evil?  
     I said earlier that heroism is a product of belief, faith, and trust.  Heroism has its roots in the ground of truth, and no person, and no people, can be heroic who don’t have an understanding, an awareness, and a commitment to truth, and their in, I believe, lies the difference between the heroic and the destitute within our nation, and even within our world.  
     I close with this last thought.  I believe that Jesus Christ was and is, and will forever be the embodiment of truth and therefore heroism, and christians, in my opinion, should be some of the most heroic people on earth.  I know that not everyone will agree with me, and that’s okay, but just consider for a moment that I might be right.  
     Here’s some food for further thought:   

     It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually try to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, speech before the Hamilton Club, Chicago (April 10, 1899), in Swindoll, Hand Me Another Brick, p. 79.

     A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.
Christopher Reeve
 
A hero is somebody who is selfless, who is generous in spirit, who just tries to give back as much as possible and help people. A hero to me is someone who saves people and who really deeply cares.
Debi Mazar
 
Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.
Bob Riley

A Thought on Anxiety

      We live in a world ridden with anxiety; people who are anxious, filled with fear, worry, and doubt, suspicious of everyone and everything, and quick to defend or take action against any perceived wrong, any questioning of our beliefs.  All searching, looking, wanting that some ONE thing that we hide in our heart of hearts thinking that if we have it then we’ll be satisfied.  We look for it in people, in possessions, in power, in money, in business, in education, in every conceivable nook and cranny in the world.  We flip over every card in the deck, buy lottery tickets for the power ball, fill casinos to the brim, bet on every game, horse race, and athletic event in hopes of hitting it big, and then when we do – if we do – it’s on to the next thing.
       Some of us – all of us – have been successful in our lives, on some level, perhaps at just one thing, at one time, but we’ve all experienced success.  Some of us have been successful at a great many things in a multitude of areas, and yet we still want more; are still anxious; uneasy, fearful, afraid, unsure, only to ready to believe that it can all vanish in a millisecond.  We live with that nagging, shadowy voice in the back of our minds that says “this isn’t enough.”  “Better work harder,” or some such thing.  
     Like the gerbil on the wheel, we keep running through the routines of our lives scarcely taking notice of the people and things around us, and then when we do stop (though we don’t really) it’s never a complete stop – just a slowing down – a switching of gears, and we call it relaxing, taking time off, but it’s really just taking away time from something or someone else.  We don’t dare stop, not intentionally at least, because to stop – to stop completely – creates a vacuum, an empty space, a place in which, just maybe, another voice can be heard, a very faint, very far off, voice that says wait.  A voice that very softly asks us in that rare undefined moment “Why are you doing this?”   That with each beat of our hearts says, “Is this all there is,” and saturates each breath we take with the rhythmic “why can’t I be satisfied?”
     We live with the “I wants,” “I have to have’s,” and the “I can’t live without’s.”  Then when we feel the pain (and there’s always the pain – though we deny, hide, avoid, and disavow it –  it’s undeniably there) we do everything in our power, use every means at our disposal, to try to kill it, to get rid of it, and yet it’s always there.  Entertainment, sports, illicit drugs, and alcohol are the great narcotics we use to deaden , dull, and desensitize our hearts and minds to it, and to the voice, the very gentle, very soft, very forceful voice that keeps repeating the questions – the ones we can find no satisfactory answer to – that haunt us in the most importune moments.
     We live in a state, a country, a world of anxiety.  We worry about worrying.  We live in, with, because, and in spite of it.  Yet we don’t do any of them well.  Why anxiety?  Why this unease, this disquieting spirit, within us?  Perhaps the answer lives in the silence of those very rare moments, in the solitude of reflective thought, in the quiet contemplation of creation, in that lone voice that speaks to us all at one time or another.  Perhaps, as gravity holds us to ground, as an anchor steadies a ship among waves, as a compass guides on an unknown path, the answer lies in the connections.  I’ve often wondered and thought of anxiety as a disconnect for isn’t that in reality what it is?  Can any musical instrument play beautiful music when it’s out of tune?  
     We look at anxiety as a bad thing, but as in so many things, definition is determined by design.  It is said that anxiety is the handmaid of creation, that all art, in part, stems from it, and I can see where that might be true.  Yet, I also believe, that anxiety serves as a herald, that it rides on our hearts and minds as Paul Revere rode through the darkness of night warning and giving notice to those who would listen that something was amiss and not right.   
     As any electrician knows the power goes out when there’s a disconnect, and I believe that’s what anxiety is to the human being.  It’s a failure to connect.  As a christian, I know that my power to live comes from my connection to Christ, and it’s in my relationship with Him that I find and am connected to the source of my strength.  

Here’s some food for thought:

The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.

George Muller.

Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all others thoughts are drained.

Arthur Somers Roche.

An average person’s anxiety is focused on :

40% — things that will never happen
30% — things about the past that can’t be changed
12% — things about criticism by others, mostly untrue
10% — about health, which gets worse with stress
8% — about real problems that will be faced

     100% of the above can be alleviated and resolved through prayer.

From Illustrations & Poems selected by Wayne Augden (Source Unknown)

     Character is developed not by the things that happen to us, but by what we do with the things that happen to us.  It’s what we take from our circumstances, and how we use what we experience to benefit ourselves and others that reveal our character. 

Building a Noble Character

In a great cathedral in Europe, there is a window made by an apprentice out of the bits of stained glass that were thrown away as worthless refuse when the other windows were made; this is the most beautiful window of all. You can build a noble character for yourself, in spite of all the hurts and injuries done consciously or unconsciously by others, with the fragments of the broken hopes, joys and the lost opportunities that lie strewn about your feet. No matter how badly others have hurt and marred you, they cannot prevent you from building a beautiful character for yourself; conversely, others by their best work cannot cause you to build a beautiful character. The fine character of your father or mother is not yours; you’ve got to build your own.

From “Bits and Pieces”

     Sometimes we lose perspective, but before we deal with people we should try to regain it.  This is a good way to do it.  🙂

Many years ago a senior executive of the then Standard Oil Company made a wrong decision that cost the company more than $2 million. John D. Rockefeller was then running the firm. On the day the news leaked out most of the executives of the company were finding various ingenious ways of avoiding Mr. Rockefeller, lest his wrath descend on their heads.

There was one exception, however; he was Edward T. Bedford, a partner in the company. Bedford was scheduled to see Rockefeller that day and he kept the appointment, even though he was prepared to listen to a long harangue against the man who made the error in judgment.

When he entered the office the powerful head of the gigantic Standard Oil empire was bent over his desk busily writing with a pencil on a pad of paper. Bedford stood silently, not wishing to interrupt. After a few minutes Rockefeller looked up.

“Oh, it’s you, Bedford,” he said calmly. “I suppose you’ve heard about our loss?”

Bedford said that he had.

“I’ve been thinking it over,” Rockefeller said, “and before I ask the man in to discuss the matter, I’ve been making some notes.”

Bedford later told the story this way:

“Across the top of the page was written, ‘Points in favor of Mr. _______.’ There followed a long list of the man’s virtues, including a brief description of how he had helped the company make the right decision on three separate occasions that had earned many times the cost of his recent error.

“I never forgot that lesson. In later years, whenever I was tempted to rip into anyone, I forced myself first to sit down and thoughtfully compile as long a list of good points as I possibly could. Invariably, by the time I finished my inventory, I would see the matter in its true perspective and keep my temper under control. There is no telling how many times this habit has prevented me from committing one of the costliest mistakes any executive can make — losing his temper.

“I commend it to anyone who must deal with people.”

Bits & Pieces

, September 15, 1994, pp. 11-13.

Attributed to Henry Ward Beecher (Source Unknown)

     This little story has a message that’s very powerful.  The more you read it and think about it the more profound it becomes. 

Good Deeds Performed Unconsciously

A farmer goes to market to purchase grain. He puts the bags containing it into his wagon, and drives slowly home. As the wagon jolts over the stony road, one of the bags becomes untied, and the grain is scattered along the way. The birds catch some of the grain and fly off with it, and drop it in distant places. Some is blown in different directions by the winds. Thus the farmer goes on for miles, without knowing what he is doing; but the next summer finds the scattered seed. It starts and grows, and when he sees his own grain he does not know it. He did not even know that he lost it. And so it is with good deeds. Men often perform them unconsciously, and they bear fruit, and when they see that fruit they do not know that it is the result of anything they have done.

–Beecher

A Thought on Tim Tebow and Who Am I, A Winning Combination.

     I just finished watching the last five minutes of the Denver Broncos and New York Jets football game.  The first fifty-five minutes weren’t anything special, but those last five minutes were spectacular, but as good as they were, it was the after the game review that just blew me away.  The quarterback for the Broncos is Tim Tebow, and he draws a lot of criticism.  People either love him or hate him, but the funny thing is I don’t think it’s him.  I think it’s who he represents.  Tim always gives all the credit to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and to his teammates and his coaches.  He says very little about himself. 
     Here he was sitting in the midst of a group of legends in the realm of NFL football, and yet he talked and showed his faith in God, in his teammates, and in his coaches.  I’m sure to the dischantment of a lot of people the men he was sitting in the middle of found themselves talking more about his faith, and who he was, than about football.  His witness was so beautiful, so touching, it made me cry, and thank my God and praise Him for working through this kid. 
     This is the kind of Christian who makes a difference, who turns the world in which he lives on its head simply by showing people what they haven’t seen before.  Tim Tebow isn’t perfect, and I’m not placing him on a pedstal, but I’ll tell you this.  He’s the kind of person we should want our children to know about, and to want to be like.  In a world that lives to destroy people like Tim Tebow, we as christians should pray daily for him, and for the many, many people who do the same kinds of things he does on a daily basis without fanfare, but with a sincere and loving heart.  Sometimes we forget that we are brothers and sisters in Christ, but we are.  Let’s pray for and support each other, and show our love one to another.  It’s our love for each other, and for our Lord that will draw the lost to our Lord.  Let us not forget it.
     The following is a video clip of a great song that gives a powerful message, and puts things in perspective for me.  Perhaps it will for you as well.

The Benefit of a Good Conscience

     Among the many things all people should possess a good conscience should be paramount.    If you have a good conscience then take time to praise God for it is a witness to the relationship between you and He.

The glory of a good person is the testimony of a good conscience. A good conscience is able to bear very much and is very cheerful in adversities. An evil conscience is always fearful and unquiet. Never rejoice except when you have done well. You shall rest sweetly if your heart does not accuse you. Sinners never have true joy or feel inward peace, because ‘there is no peace for the wicked,’ says the Lord (Isaiah 57:21). The glory of the good is in their consciences, and not in the tongues of others, The gladness of the just is of God, and in God; and their joy is of the truth.

A person will easily be content and pacified whose conscience is pure. If you consider what you are within, you will not care what others say concerning you. People consider the deeds, but God weighs the intentions. To be always doing well and to esteem little of one’s self is the sign of a humble soul. For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends, ‘says Paul (2 Corinthians 10:18). To walk inwardly with God, and not to be kept abroad by any outward affection, is the state of a spiritual person. Conscience is that faculty in me which attaches itself to the highest that I know, and tells me what the highest I know demands that I do. It is the eye of the soul which looks out either toward God or toward what it regards as the highest authority. If I am in the habit of steadily facing toward God, my conscience will always introduce God’s perfect law and indicate what I should do. The point is, will I obey? I have to make an effort to keep my conscience so sensitive that I walk without offense. I should be living in such perfect sympathy with God’s Son that in every circumstance the spirit of my mind is renewed. The one thing that keeps the conscience sensitive to Him is the habit of being open to God on the inside. When there is any debate, quit. There is no debate possible when conscience speaks.  

C.F.H. Henry, Christian Personal Ethics,  Eerdmans, 1957, p. 509ff

Taken From the Writings of Charles Swindoll

     This is to all men and boys.  Here’s the line in the sand.  You can be a boy or a man.  The world and this country has plenty of boys.  We need men.  The choice is yours.  Which one will you be?

THE WORLD NEEDS MEN…

who cannot be bought;
whose word is their bond;
who put character above wealth;
who possess opinions and a will;
who are larger than their vocations;
who do not hesitate to take chances;
who will not lose their individuality in a crowd;
who will be as honest in small things as in great things;
who will make no compromise with wrong;
whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires;
who will not say they do it” because everybody else does it”;
who are true to their friends through good report and evil report, in adversity as well as in prosperity;
who do not believe that shrewdness, cunning, and hardheadedness are the best qualities for winning success;
who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for the truth when it is unpopular;
who can say “no” with emphasis, although all the rest of the world says “yes.”

Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, p.107-8.

 

When People Come Into Our Lives

     Do you think you meet people by accident?  That they become a part of your life because of chance or whim?  I guess it depends on whether you believe that you’re in control of your own life, or that God is.  When I look at my life, and the people who have come into it, I know, that they were put there for a reason.  I know it was by design.  Some people only stayed a little while; some have been with me my life long, but each of them taught me something about myself or about life, or about God.    When we belive, when we take the view, that God uses people as agents of change, to effect His will in the lives of others, then we can see clearly that every single one of us has a purpose, that we have value, and that God is an active God in our lives. 

    I encourage you to always try and look at people in this way.  By doing so, we can develop an appreciation and a respect for all people, and for the God who made us.