Tuesday, December 28, 2010


(taken from "Strange Facts About the Bible" by Webb Garrison

For practical purposes, Jewish Law under the Old Testament established the earliest forerunner of today's practice of refusing to grant extradition papers for a wanted man. This law provided a "city of refuge" for a person who committed involuntary manslaughter (distinguished from willful murder)could flee and be safe from the relatives of his victim.

Six such cities were established - three on each side of the Jordon River. Anyone who had accidentally spilled another's blood would be safe from any kind of retaliation. Upon the death of the local high priest all fugitives is that city were free to return to their homes. This system incorporated many of the principles that govern our most advanced sets of legal procedures aimed at securing justice in cases of accidental homicide.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Earliest Humane Society

(taken from "Strange Facts About the Bible" by Web Garrison)

In 1866 Henry Bergh, inspired by earlier work in England and Scotland, founded the world's largest humane society. But at least 3,000 years before that, every Hebrew community had an informal society for prevention of cruelty to animals.
Moses's Law required every man to lead a stray ox or ass back to its owner - even if the owner was a personal enemy (Exodus 23:4). No matter who the animal belonged to, a person who found a donkey unable to get on its feet because of his load was required to give the beast a hand (Exodus 23:5). And in New Testament times even sever laws prohibiting all kind so of work on the Sabbath were relaxed on behalf of mercy to animals. If a beast were in trouble on the Sabbath, a person was permitted and even encouraged to help rescue the animal (Luke 14:5). At first literally and then in a figurative sense, "an ox is in the ditch" came to indicate an emergency grave enough to warrant violation of customary restrictions of work.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


by Maltrie Davenport Babcock (1858-1902)

Be Strong!
We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift;
Shun not the struggle - face it; tis God's gift.

Be Strong!
Say not, "The days are evil. Who's to blame?"
And fold the hands and acquiesce - oh shame!
Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God's name.

Be Strong!
It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong,
How hard the battle goes, the day how long;
Faint not - fight on! To-morrow comes the song.

Monday, November 15, 2010

An Agnostic Inspires The Most Popular Biblical Novel of All Times

(taken from "Strange Facts about the Bible" by Webb Garrison)

One evening in September 1870, two men riding across Indiana on a train struck up a conversation. Soon they began to argue about the inspiration of the Bible. Robert Ingersoll, an internationally known agnostic was challenging General Lew Wallace.
General Wallace, a civil war veteran, was unable to cope with Robert Ingersoll. He felt frustrated and defeated when they finally parted company.
As a result, General Wallace went home determined to write a novel that would serve as a powerful argument for the divinity of Christ. He finished it when he was serving as Governor of the territory of New Mexico and called it "Ben Hur, a tale of the Christ". It became one of the most popular books of modern times by presenting the message of the New Testament within a framework of vigorous action and believable characters. Robert Ingersoll didn't live long enough to read the book that his arguments had inspired.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"His Eye Is On The Sparrow"

Early in the spring of 1905, Dr. Martin and his wife were visiting some friends in Elmira New York. The friends, a Mr. and Mrs. Dolittle were wonderful people but led very handicapped lives. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for 20 years and her husband, Mr. Doolittle had to push himself in a wheel chair back and forth from his place of business. Despite their afflictions, they were happy and brought inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. During this visit, Dr. Martin asked them what was the secret of their optimistic outlook on life. Mrs. Doolittle's reply was simple: "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me". The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith was the inspiration for this comforting hymn.
The great Ethel Waters thought so much of the hymn that she titled her autobiography after it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Psalm of Life

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hot News From History

(from the book "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel)

"Are the Gospels rooted in eyewitness testimony or did so much time elapse before it was written down that a mythology developed about Jesus?
The standard scholarly dating, even in very liberal circles has the Gospel of Mark written in the 70 B.C. range,Matthew and Luke in the 80's and John in the 90s. That is still within the lifetime of various eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus, including hostile witnesses who would have been served as a corrective if false teachings about Jesus were going around. Consequently, these dates for the Gospels really aren't all that late. In fact, there is a comparison that is very instructive.
The two earliest biographies of Alexander the Great were written by Arrian and Plutarch more than four hundred years after Alexander's death in 323 B.C., yet historians consider them to be generally trustworthy. Yes, legendary material about Alexander did develop over time, but it was only in the centuries after these two writers. In other words, the first five hundred years kept Alexander's story pretty much intact; legendary material began to emerge over the next five hundred years. So whether the Gospels were written sixty years or thirty years after the life of Jesus, the amount of time is negligible by comparison. It's almost a nonissue."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Where is your Emmaus?

Luke 15:13-35
(with thanks to Stan Reid)

Everybody has one. Where is yours?

Three days had passed since Jesus had been crucified - sadness, fear and confusion permeated the followers he left behind. Why was the one that they perceived as their savior taken from them? Didn't he say that he was the Christ? Wasn't he going to save them from the Romans? What had happened to their beloved leader?
Two of those followers were leaving Jerusalem, a place of fear and danger now, and they were going to a village called Emmaus - a place of solace for their sadness.

When you come to a time in your life where the rug has been pulled out from under you - is there a place that you go for comfort, safety and consolation?
Perhaps it is just your bedroom, perhaps it is your childhood home, your mother's arms, a bottle of alcohol or as is so popular today - your "man cave".

These two confused disciples were on their way to their place of solace when they met Jesus - the very one that was at the center of their sadness - and there they found their way back to hope and joy.

Where is your Emmaus? Will you meet Jesus there?

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Attitude of Gratitude

(from 'The Attitudes of Gratitude" by M.J. Ryan)

A therapist I know was treating a woman who'd had a serious stroke and could not talk. She didn't seem too troubled by it, but her family considered it a great tragedy. As a young Jewish woman, her verbal ability was a great gift - it had even saved her life. She spoke 5 languages and had survived the Holocaust by becoming a translator for the Nazis in a concentration camp. After the war, she moved to America and supported her family by teaching foreign languages. Now she struggled for words and her adult children were constantly jumping in to "help" by filling in her words.
The stroke had changed her in other ways too. Cold and distant as a mother, the stroke had left her very physically affectionate and she constantly touched her children. But they were so caught up in the loss of her speaking ability that they didn't recognize that what they were now receiving from her was the kind of affection that they had longed for all their lives.
The therapist taught them to use the source of their frustration (their mother's inability to speak) to trigger a cultivation of an attitude of gratitude (for their longed for affection). Is there something in your life that you find terribly annoying or difficult? Is there some hidden gift in the annoying situation that you can focus on to create an attitude of gratitude?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You Tell Me I Am Blind

by Lily E. G. Hendrix (1885)
graduate of the Missouri School for the Blind

You tell me I am blind, but ah!
You know not what you say;
You little know the glorious things
That I behold each day;
There is a world I call my own,
All radiant with light!
A land as different from yours
As morning is from night.

Each morn I ope my weary eyes
Upon your world of gloom,
Its chill and darkness only give
A warning of the tomb;
I linger but a moment there,
And then I turn and hie
To that fair realm all lighted up
With hope of bye and bye.

Perhaps your world is not so dark
As it has seemed to me;
Perhaps that is the reason why
You think I cannot see;
You cannot know the rays that light
This inner world of mine,
Or you would never pity me
And say that I am blind.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Falling Leaves Return to their Roots

I have just finished reading "Falling Leaves" by Adeline Yen Mah and I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is the memoir of an unwanted Chinese daughter and is told in the most poignant way. Adeline was born in 1937 to a wealthy Chinese business man in Tianjin, China. She was the fifth child born into this family but because her mother died shortly after her birth, Adeline is mistreated by everyone except an aunt. When her father remarries and has two more children, Adeline must endure a childhood of abuse, torment and hatred. The book follows Adeline through her childhood into adulthood and into final happiness. Although the abuse and hatred continues with her siblings through out her adulthood too - it is remarkable how she has triumphed over bitterness to find peace.
True stories like this just absolutely fascinate me. Children that are born into horrible circumstances beyond their control yet manage through something deep inside of them, to endure and overcome - and the thing that boggles my mind is that they hold no bitterness. I never tire of reading about this phenomenon. If you have ever read "Angela's Ashes", it weaves the same tale.
Both books holds out the shining light of hope to help us live through whatever darkness invades our lives.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Sermon in a Graveyard
(A True Story)
Taken from "Love adds the Chocolate" by Linda Anderson

The day had dawned sunny and clear in Western Michigan, but by eleven o'clock my inner climate was stormy. The incessant bickering of my two teenagers had annoyed me to the point of leaving for a drive in the country, and I ended up in a tiny well-shaded graveyard just a few miles from home.

A slight breeze stirred through the pines, and my edginess subsided as I strolled around the ancient tombstones. I had asked the Lord to "please do something" as I left, but I really didn't think He would, and at this point I wasn't so sure He even cared.

I walked aimlessly at first until one of the tombstones caught my eye, and I knelt down to read the inscription, tracing the words with my finger. The stone was so old and weather beaten I could hardly make out the words. "Children of C and A Arndt" it read on the front. Stepping to the side I read, "Charley, died June 6, 1883, aged 5 years." The third side of the stone read "Ricke, died May 22, 1883, aged 6 years, 19 ds". Two children died within a month? Incredible!

I was in for yet another surprise as I walked to the fourth side of the simple tombstone. "Francis," it said "Died May 18, 1883, aged 3 years, 4 mos, 15 ds."
At this I sat down and sorrowed for the unknown parents of one hundred years ago who had tasted death so bitterly three times in one month. An epidemic, no doubt.

I wondered if the parents of those children had ever had days like mine with their children, and if they regretted every impatient word and angry tone after the children died. I knew that if these parents were alive now they would urge me to go back home and love my children. I knew they would say, "Learn to laugh with them more". They would remind me that life on this earth is so very terminal and I must live it fully and abundantly as the Lord had planned. If they knew the Lord, I'm sure they would point out God's commands to give thanks in everything and to rejoice evermore. Perhaps they would even tell me to live each day with my family as if it were my last, for some day will indeed by the last.
But they didn't need to come back to tell me these things. Their tombstone had already done so. And I had listened.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Ronald Lewis Carton (1919)

In the place to which I go,
Better men than I have died.
Freeman friend and conscript foe,
Face to face and side by side,
In the shallow grave abide.

Melinite that scared their brains,
Gas that slew them in a snare,
War's inferno of strange pains,
What are these to them who share
That great boon of silence there?

When like blood the moon is red;
And a shadow hides the sun,
We shall wake, the so-long dead,
We shall know our quarrel done, --
Will God tell us who has won?

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Black Woman's Civil War

The life of Susie King Taylor displayed not just one but many moments of determined heroism. Hers was a heroism anchored in the struggles of everyday life but also fearless in demanding that the country live up to its promises to blacks as they journeyed from slavery to freedom.

Susie King Taylor (1848-1912)was born into bondage on a Georgia plantation during the high tide of southern slavery. Although she had humble origins as a slave, she was sent to a clandestine school run by a free black woman. She had to wrap her books in laundry or newspapers to disguise the fact that she was going to school, because it was against the law to teach slaves to read. During the civil war, she escaped and became a nurse to the black soldiers of the northern army. When Clara Barton arrived, the two worked side by side caring for the wounded. The black former slave girl and the Yankee spinster showed the way that diverse backgrounds could be commingled into one strong unified force. After the war, Susie experienced the full force of prejudice and hatred but remained optimistic and dreamed of the day when justice for African Americans would arrive in the South. She wrote a memoir - "Reminiscences of My Life in Camp, with the 33rd United States Colored Troops Late 1st South Carolina Volunteers". Her testimonial contains poetic and powerful prose.

The choices facing Susie King Taylor may have been limited by the contraints of race and gender, but the heroism she demonstrated during wartime should inspsire us all.

(taken from "Forgotten Heroes" by Catherine Clinton)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I Feel Extremely Alone

"In high school I felt chills run down my spine when I read Samuel Taylor Coleridges's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", especially these lines:

Alone, alone, all, all alone
Alone on a wide, wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony . . .
So lonely 'twas that God himself
Scarce seemed there to be.

In my own grief I have often felt all alone. Telling myself that I was not alone didn't help much, even though it was true. Remember, David the psalmist felt terribly alone at times, especially during his troubles from Alabama. The same David wrote: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." Let your brother David remind you that feeling alone is not being alone." (from "Everyday Comfort by Randy Becton)
Psalms 102:1-4

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Mild-Mannered Hero

"Felix Kersten, a mild-mannered, short man, had a unique place in the Nazi scheme of things. He was a masseur and had wealthy and influential clients in the Third Reich. His most famous cliet was Heinrich Himmler, who was the second most powerful leader in Germany. Just before Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Himmler was stricken with severe stomach pains. Physicians had failed to relieve his suffering, so Felix Kersten was called in. Kersten treated the patient with such success that Himmler would be dependent on him during the years ahead.

In March 1945, it was clear that Nazi Germany was on the brink of total collapse, but Hitler had ordered the Gestapo leader to murder the hundreds of thousands of prisoners in concentration camps before they could be liberated by the Allies. Himmler, was again bothered by stomach pains and went to see Kersten. Kersten brought up the topic of the concentration camps and Himmler told him of Hitler's orders. The mild mannered masseur pleaded with Himmler to ignore the directive. 'Those are the Fuhrer's direct orders, and I must see to it that they are carried out' Himmler said testily. Undaunted, Kersten kept hammering away at his patient through his manual therapy during the next 2 weeks. After many heated arguements, the persistent masseur won out. He coerced Himmler into writing on paper a personal pledge to Kersten that he would not have prisoners killed and they would remain in the camps to be handed over to the Allies. Himmler stared at the amzaing document for a while but he finally signed it and gave it to Kersten."

(taken from "Bizarre Tales from World War II by William Breuer)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

No Shortcuts

"Years ago I read of the construction of a city hall and fire station in a small Pennsylvania community. The citizens were so proud of their new red brick structure -- a long awaited dream come true. Not too many weeks after moving in, however, strange things began to happen. Several doors failed to shut completely and a few windows wouldn't slide open very easily. As time passed, ominous cracks began to appear in the walls. Within a few months, the front door couldn't be locked . . .and the roof began to leak. By and by, the little building that was once the source of great pride had to be condemned. An intense investigation revealed that deep mining blasts several miles away caused underground shock waves that subsequently weakened the earth beneath the building foundation, resulting in its virtual self-destruction.

So it is with compromise in a life. Slowly, almost imperceptible, one rationalization leads to another, which triggers a series of equally damaging alterations in a life that was once stable, strong, and reliable."

(Charles Swindoll from "Living Beyond the Daily Grind")

"Blessed s the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked . . . but his delight is in the law of the Lord." Psalm 1:1-3

Saturday, July 24, 2010


At the center of Creation lies a spot of

ceaseless rest,

Where the silent spirit broodeth like a

dove upon its nest:

Round it runs the deep horizon in its golden

quiet curled,
Round it at the wheel of Motion spins the

fashion of the world.

Noiselessly thy gates swing open for their

bars are made of light,

Swinging on the raven darkness from the

outer-wall of night;

Crystal city of the Silent, built beyond

the sounds of sin,

Lift afar your swarming gateways, let the

silent myriads in.
(from the poem "Silence" by S. Miller Hageman, 1876)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Take My Hand, Precious Lord

"Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; Thru the storm, thru the night,
Lead me on to the light; Take my hand, precious Lord, Lead me home"
(from the hymn by Thomas Dorsey)

Thomas Dorsey was born just outside of Atlanta, Georgia in 1899. He grew up singing the blues and jazz and by the 1920's became nationally recognized as a leader in this new style of music.
Thomas related the following story - "In 1932, I was 32 years old and living with my wife Nettie in Chicago's south side. One August afternoon I had to go to St. Louis for a revival. Nettie was in the last month of pregnancy with our first child. I didn't want to go, something was strongly telling me to stay, but people were expecting me and I went. The next night, the crowd called on me to sing again and again. When I finally sat down, a messenger ran up with a Western Union telegram. I ripped it open and saw the words "Your wife is dead". I rushed to a phone and called home. All I could hear was "Nettie is dead". When I got back, I learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy. Yet that night, the baby had also died. I buried them both, then fell apart. For days I closeted myself. I felt that God had done me an injustice. I didn't want to serve him anymore. I was lost in grief.
A friend took me to a neighborhood music school one day and left me alone in a room with a piano. It was quiet and the late afternoon sun shined through the window. I sat at the piano and began to browse over the keys. Something happened to me. I felt at peace. I found myself playing a melody, one I've never heard or played before and words came into my head. As the word and music came to me, it seemed that my heart was also healed. I learned from that tragic experience that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest."
(taken from "Sing With Feeling by Robert Jay Taylor,Jr.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Safe in the Arms of Jesus

(taken from "Sing With Feeling" by Robert Jay Taylor, Jr.

"One afternoon in 1868, William Doane, a song leader, stopped to visit Fanny Crosby. Fanny had been blinded as a small child by a quack doctor but she had a wonderful gift for poetry and song lyrics. William had a new tune to present to Fanny and he needed lyrics that would "capture the hearts" of children. He only had 40 minutes before he had to rush and catch a train, so he quickly played the tune for Fanny on her piano. Fanny took a pen and paper from her desk and wrote down several lines. William was in such a hurry, that he folded the paper and put it in his pocket and ran to catch his train. Once on board, he unfolded the paper and read:

"Safe in the arms of Jesus, Safe on His gentle breast:
There by His love o'ershaded, Sweetly my soul shall rest.
Hark! Tis the voice of angels, Borne on a song to me -
Over the fields of glory, Over the Jasper sea"

Fanny Crosby, never let the circumstances of her life affect her disposition and this hymn became one of her favorites. Life is what you make it. The difference between a life of usefulness and uselessness, is attitude.
Safety and security is one of the most sought after feelings in life today. We hear horror stories about people working years for a company, only to loose all their pension just short of retirement. No longer can we leave our homes unlocked, or walk down the streets of our large cities without feeling uneasy or insecure. The only true safety and security is in the arms of God."

Deuteronomy 33:27 - "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

To My Absent Son

To My Absent Son
Emma S. Paige (1909)

When Dawn unlocks the portals
of the doorway of my eyes,
When Consiousness ascends her throne
My spirit to you flies.
I steal into your chamber,
And softly kiss your brow,
I am beside you there, my darling,
Though I cannot tell you how.

And when the hour of noonday
is over all the land,
When homeward wend the toilers,
A weary, hungry band,
I am with you then, my darling,
I stand beside your chair,
And lay my hand in blessing
On your brow, to me, so fair.

And when the twilight deepens
At the setting of the sun,
And alone at your desk you linger
When the long day's work is done,
I am then beside you, darling,
Your loving arms I feel,
Your kiss upon my forehead,
As beside your chair I kneel.

And in the silent watches
Of the dark and sleepless night,
When slumber's pall is o'er you,
And gone is mortal sight,
Beside your bed, my darling,
My spirit lingers oft,
As in the nights of childhood
I came with footsteps soft.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Life's Hightway

Life's Highway
Edgar A. Guest (1916)

Tis good to walk life's highway wide,
Past cabin low and steeple,
And meet along the countryside
The smiling, friendly people.
For wheresoe'er a man may fare,
Though rough or smooth the mile is,
Or bright the day or dark and gray,
He'll come to where a smile is.

There's sorrow for the hearts of all
Before the journey closes;
But Junetime lines fill many a wall
With pink and scarlet roses,
And overhead the blue skies spread
A canopy of splendor
'Neath which we fare, despite our care,
To welcomes warm and tender.

And be the highway short or long
Which stretches out before us,
Man's ear will catch the heartening song
Of thrush or robin chorus.
By stream and brook on scenes he'll look,
Illuming Nature's pages
To glad his eye as he goes by,
Repeated through the ages.

The poorest man a friend may find,
The righest man no truer:
For kings, whom soldiers march behind,
God's sky is made no bluer.
'Spite care and strife, the joys of life,
The beauties richly blended,
And sun and star and blossoms are
For all mankind intended.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Who will pray for us now?"

On a hot day in July of 1785, a little baby was born in Morris County, New Jersey. There was nothing remarkable about this event - babies are born every day. But this little baby would die 65 years later, leaving behind a remarkable legacy.

You see, that little baby was Phebe Ann Jacobs, a little baby born into slavery. While still a child she was given to Mrs. Wheelock, the wife of the president of Dartmouth College. Mrs. Wheelock wanted Phebe to be an attendant for her daughter Maria. So Maria and Phebe grew up together. Maria eventually married a Mr. Allen who would become the president of Bowdowin College in Brunswick, Maine. Phebe accompanied her mistress to Brunswick in 1820 and remained with them until the death of Maria - after which Phebe chose to live alone. The reason she preferred to live alone was so "there would be no hindrances to prayer and praise at any time, where she could converse with her Savior all day long".

She supported herself by taking in washing and ironing for the students of Bowdoin College. No one ever heard her complain or fault find but always seemed contented and happy. She was never absent from attending the services of the church, but was always seen sitting in the farthest pew, with her head bowed in secret prayer. Many times a day she would go to her bedroom to kneel and pray. It was not an uncommon occurrence for her to arise at midnight and pray. In 1834 a 6 a.m. prayer meeting was scheduled. When the minister arrived to open the doors, he found Phebe had been there on the door steps for more than an hour praying. Her life came to represent a prayer, a hymn of praise. Who can tell how many lives were touched with her prayers?

Phebe's humility drew people to her as she continued her life, doing her own work in her own humble, quiet way. Every morning she would arise and start a fire to begin her day. She had given instructions to her nearest neighbor that if no smoke was ever seen coming from her chimney that she would be dead.
One night Phebe went to look in on the wife of her minister who was about to die. As Phebe was standing near someone asked, "Phebe, don't you wish you were going home soon?" "Yes, indeed I do" was her answer. The wife of the minister died that night and the next morning no smoke was seen from Phebe's chimney. Her body was found in bed, her eyes calmly closed, her Bible and glasses by the bedside.

The following Sunday, Phebe's remains were brought to the church building. A large assembly was there gathered from all the churches in the area. The minister gave the eulogy even though he had just lost his own wife. He said "if his own wife had been permitted to choose a companion to accompany her through the dark valley of death, she would have chosen Phebe."
At the funeral of Phebe Ann Jacobs, there was no relative, no kin. The woman who was born into slavery and lived in humble obscurity was borne from the church by the senior officers of Bowdoin College and a former governor of Maine. Her coffin was followed by the president of the college and his daughters who had traveled 200 miles to testify their respect and affection for Phebe.

Afterwards it was heard "Who will pray for us now? Now that Phebe is gone? We have lost Phebe's prayers" What a legacy this one woman left!! Can the same be said of us?


(from the poem "Silence" by S. Miller Hageman, 1876)

"Somewhere on this moving planet,
in the mist of years to be,
In the silence, in the shadow,
waits a loving heart for thee;
Somewhere in the beckoning heavens,
Where they know as they are known,
Are the empty arms above thee
That shall clasp thee for their own."

"Somewhere in the far-off silence,
I shall feel a vanished hand,
Somewhere I shall know a voice
That now I cannot understand;
Somewhere! Where art thou,
Oh spectre of illimitable Space?
Silent scene without a shadow,
Silent sphere without a place."

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Fool's Prayer

The Fool's Prayer
Edward Sill (1841-1887)

The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: "Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!"

The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.

He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the monarch's silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: "O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin; but, Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

"Tis not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
Tis by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.

"These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.

"Tis ill-timed truth we might have kept-
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say-
Who knows how grandly it had rung?

"Our faults no tenderness should ask,
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders - oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

"Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!"

The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
"Be merciful to me, a fool!"

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tears in a Bottle

In the small village of Menands, New York, there is a little rural cemetery. In the middle of the cemetery there stands a monument to Sara Weed. The monument depicts Sara cradling a bottle to her face. In the early 1900's, a newspaper ran a story about poor Sara, saying that the bottle was a bottle of booze and that the monument showed that she was a slave to alcohol. The article went on to say that the monument's inscription which read "Sara and her babe" referred to the bottle as her "babe" and that the monument was put up by her husband, William, as a warning to everyone to stay away from the demon rum that killed poor Sara.
But actually the truth about this monument is much more poignant and will serve to illustrate a tender lesson. You see, the inscription refers to Sara, wife of William Weed, who along with her unborn child, died in childbirth at the age of 27. The bottle she is holding is a tear bottle, which she is crying into and collecting her tears.
It is difficult to say exactly when the first tear bottles came into being. They were fairly common in Roman times, around the time of Christ, when mourners filled small glass bottles with tears and placed them in burial tombs as symbols of respect. Tear bottles reappeared during the Victorian period of the 19th century, when those mourning the loss of loved ones would collect their tears in bottles with special stoppers that allowed the tears to evaporate. When all the tears had evaporated, the mourning period would end. In some American Civil War stories, women were said to have cried into tear bottles and saved them until their husbands returned from battle. Their collected tears would show the men how much they were adored and missed.
Did you know that the Bible speaks about how God collects our tears in His bottle? (Psalm 56:8) What a comforting thought that we have a loving, caring, wonderful God who hears us when we cry and collects each of our tears as something very precious to Him. This God of the universe - who looks over millions and millions of his creatures - yet He hears each and everyone of our tears.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Haven of Rest

I have struggled with this idea for so long -so people have wanted me to start a blog (thank you Frank) - but I never felt I had anything of interest to say. There are so many blogs out there now, what could I possibly add that would be worthwhile?
But after much thinking and soul searching, I thought that perhaps it could act as an outlet for my deepest loves and in some small way could touch someone’s heart. You see, it is hard for me to reveal one part of me without also revealing the other parts because they are all intertwined and cannot be separated. The overpowering love that reaches into the very depths and darkness of my soul - it just astounds me and amazes me that He even thinks of me at all. But this love permeates my life and emerges in the paint as I apply it on the canvas.
So one of my loves is art. Another is poetry and frequently poetry serves as a catalyst for my art. The Bible is another love and has inspired many of my paintings. I also love real life stories of people who overcome great burdens and hardships and these also serve to inspire me. My family is another one of my loves. But through all, and over all and above all, I love my God who inexplicably loves such a lowly, insignificant wretch as I. All these loves have become my Haven of Rest.
So this blog will hopefully try to tie all these loves together and will give hope or comfort in some small way to someone, somewhere.