Presents In Blessings Only Quotes

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Son,'he said,' ye cannot in your present state understand eternity...That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, "No future bliss can make up for it," not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say "Let me have but this and I'll take the consequences": little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man's past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man's past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why...the Blessed will say "We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven, : and the Lost, "We were always in Hell." And both will speak truly.
C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)
The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.
Joan Didion (Slouching Towards Bethlehem)
Be a light unto the world, and hurt it not. Seek to build not destroy. Bring My people home. How? By your shining example. Seek only Godliness. Speak only in truthfulness. Act only in love. Live the Law of Love now and forever more. Give everything require nothing. Avoid the mundane. Do not accept the unacceptable. Teach all who seek to learn of Me. Make every moment of your life an outpouring of love. Use every moment to think the highest thought, say the highest word, do the highest deed. In this, glorify your Holy Self, and thus too, glorify Me. Bring peace to the Earth by bringing peace to all those whose lives you touch. Be peace. Feel and express in every moment your Divine Connection with the All, and with every person, place, and thing. Embrace every circumstance, own every fault, share every joy, contemplate every mystery, walk in every man’s shoes, forgive every offense (including your own), heal every heart, honor every person’s truth, adore every person’s God, protect every person’s rights, preserve every person’s dignity, promote every person’s interests, provide every person’s needs, presume every person’s holiness, present every person’s greatest gifts, produce every person’s blessing, pronounce every person’s future secure in the assured love of God. Be a living, breathing example of the Highest Truth that resides within you. Speak humbly of yourself, lest someone mistake your Highest Truth for boast. Speak softly, lest someone think you are merely calling for attention. Speak gently, that all might know of Love. Speak openly, lest someone think you have something to hide. Speak candidly, so you cannot be mistaken. Speak often, so that your word may truly go forth. Speak respectfully, that no one be dishonored. Speak lovingly, that every syllable may heal. Speak of Me with every utterance. Make of your life a gift. Remember always, you are the gift! Be a gift to everyone who enters your life, and to everyone whose life you enter. Be careful not to enter another’s life if you cannot be a gift. (You can always be a gift, because you always are the gift—yet sometimes you don’t let yourself know that.) When someone enters your life unexpectedly, look for the gift that person has come to receive from you…I HAVE SENT YOU NOTHING BUT ANGELS.
Neale Donald Walsch (Conversations With God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Book 2)
It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. ... "It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations -- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit. ... Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.
C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)
A man who seeks only the light, while shirking his responsibilities, will never find illumination. And one who keep his eyes fixed upon the sun ends up blind..." "It doesn't matter what others think -because that's what they will think, in any case. So, relax. Let the universe move about. Discover the joy of surprising yourself." "The master says: “Make use of every blessing that God gave you today. A blessing cannot be saved. There is no bank where we can deposit blessings received, to use them when we see fit. If you do not use them, they will be irretrievably lost. God knows that we are creative artists when it comes to our lives. On one day, he gives us clay for sculpting, on another, brushes and canvas, or a pen. But we can never use clay on our canvas, nor pens in sculpture. Each day has its own miracle. Accept the blessings, work, and create your minor works of art today. Tomorrow you will receive others.” “You are together because a forest is always stronger than a solitary tree,” the master answered. "The forest conserves humidity, resists the hurricane and helps the soil to be fertile. But what makes a tree strong is its roots. And the roots of a plant cannot help another plant to grow. To be joined together in the same purpose is to allow each person to grow in his own fashion, and that is the path of those who wish to commune with God.” “If you must cry, cry like a child. You were once a child, and one of the first things you learned in life was to cry, because crying is a part of life. Never forget that you are free, and that to show your emotions is not shameful. Scream, sob loudly, make as much noise as you like. Because that is how children cry, and they know the fastest way to put their hearts at ease. Have you ever noticed how children stop crying? They stop because something distracts them. Something calls them to the next adventure. Children stop crying very quickly. And that's how it will be for you. But only if you can cry as children do.” “If you are traveling the road of your dreams, be committed to it. Do not leave an open door to be used as an excuse such as, 'Well, this isn't exactly what I wanted. ' Therein are contained the seeds of defeat. “Walk your path. Even if your steps have to be uncertain, even if you know that you could be doing it better. If you accept your possibilities in the present, there is no doubt that you will improve in the future. But if you deny that you have limitations, you will never be rid of them. “Confront your path with courage, and don't be afraid of the criticism of others. And, above all, don't allow yourself to become paralyzed by self-criticism. “God will be with you on your sleepless nights, and will dry your tears with His love. God is for the valiant.” "Certain things in life simply have to be experienced -and never explained. Love is such a thing." "There is a moment in every day when it is difficult to see clearly: evening time. Light and darkness blend, and nothing is completely clear nor completely dark." "But it's not important what we think, or what we do or what we believe in: each of us will die one day. Better to do as the old Yaqui Indians did: regard death as an advisor. Always ask: 'Since I'm going to die, what should I be doing now?'” "When we follow our dreams, we may give the impression to others that we are miserable and unhappy. But what others think is not important. What is important is the joy in our heart.” “There is a work of art each of us was destined to create. That is the central point of our life, and -no matter how we try to deceive ourselves -we know how important it is to our happiness. Usually, that work of art is covered by years of fears, guilt and indecision. But, if we decide to remove those things that do not belong, if we have no doubt as to our capability, we are capable of going forward with the mission that is our destiny. That is the only way to live with honor.
Paulo Coelho (Maktub)
How reprehensible it is when those blessed with commodities insist on ignoring the poor. Better to torment them, force them into indentured servitude, inflict compulsion and blows—this at least produces a connection, fury and a pounding heart, and these too constitute a form of relationship. But to cower in elegant homes behind golden garden gates, fearful lest the breath of warm humankind touch you, unable to indulge in extravagances for fear they might be glimpsed by the embittered oppressed, to oppress and yet lack the courage to show yourself as an oppressor, even to fear the ones you are oppressing, feeling ill at ease in your own wealth and begrudging others their ease, to resort to disagreeable weapons that require neither true audacity nor manly courage, to have money, but only money, without splendor: That’s what things look like in our cities at present
Robert Walser (The Tanners)
As ever, his grief made my heart ache. "Ambition is a dangerous thing," I murmured. "One can harbor it unknowing, only to find it sparked into life when the opportunity presents itself.
Jacqueline Carey (Naamah's Blessing (Naamah Trilogy, #3))
The very quality of your life, whether you love it or hate it, is based upon how thankful you are toward God. It is one's attitude that determines whether life unfolds into a place of blessedness or wretchedness. Indeed, looking at the same rose bush, some people complain that the roses have thorns while others rejoice that some thorns come with roses. It all depends on your perspective. This is the only life you will have before you enter eternity. If you want to find joy, you must first find thankfulness. Indeed, the one who is thankful for even a little enjoys much. But the unappreciative soul is always miserable, always complaining. He lives outside the shelter of the Most High God. Perhaps the worst enemy we have is not the devil but our own tongue. James tells us, "The tongue is set among our members as that which . . . sets on fire the course of our life" (James 3:6). He goes on to say this fire is ignited by hell. Consider: with our own words we can enter the spirit of heaven or the agonies of hell! It is hell with its punishments, torments and misery that controls the life of the grumbler and complainer! Paul expands this thought in 1 Corinthians 10:10, where he reminds us of the Jews who "grumble[d] . . . and were destroyed by the destroyer." The fact is, every time we open up to grumbling and complaining, the quality of our life is reduced proportionally -- a destroyer is bringing our life to ruin! People often ask me, "What is the ruling demon over our church or city?" They expect me to answer with the ancient Aramaic or Phoenician name of a fallen angel. What I usually tell them is a lot more practical: one of the most pervasive evil influences over our nation is ingratitude! Do not minimize the strength and cunning of this enemy! Paul said that the Jews who grumbled and complained during their difficult circumstances were "destroyed by the destroyer." Who was this destroyer? If you insist on discerning an ancient world ruler, one of the most powerful spirits mentioned in the Bible is Abaddon, whose Greek name is Apollyon. It means "destroyer" (Rev. 9:11). Paul said the Jews were destroyed by this spirit. In other words, when we are complaining or unthankful, we open the door to the destroyer, Abaddon, the demon king over the abyss of hell! In the Presence of God Multitudes in our nation have become specialists in the "science of misery." They are experts -- moral accountants who can, in a moment, tally all the wrongs society has ever done to them or their group. I have never talked with one of these people who was happy, blessed or content about anything. They expect an imperfect world to treat them perfectly. Truly, there are people in this wounded country of ours who need special attention. However, most of us simply need to repent of ingratitude, for it is ingratitude itself that is keeping wounds alive! We simply need to forgive the wrongs of the past and become thankful for what we have in the present. The moment we become grateful, we actually begin to ascend spiritually into the presence of God. The psalmist wrote, "Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. . . . Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations" (Psalm 100:2, 4-5). It does not matter what your circumstances are; the instant you begin to thank God, even though your situation has not changed, you begin to change. The key that unlocks the gates of heaven is a thankful heart. Entrance into the courts of God comes as you simply begin to praise the Lord.
Francis Frangipane
I see a bird carrying me and carrying you, with us as its wings, beyond the dream, to a journey that has no end and no beginning, no purpose and no goal. I do not speak to you, and you do not speak to me; we listen only to the music of silence. Silence is the friend's trust of friend, imagination's self-confidence between rain and rainbow. A rainbow is inspiration provoking the poet, uninvited, the infatuation of the poet with the prose of the Quran. Which of your Lord's blessings do you disown? We are absent, you and I; we are present, you and I. And absent. Which of your Lord's blessings do you disown?
Mahmoud Darwish (Absent Presence)
Intuition is a wonderful gift but it can be both a blessing and a curse. If you can easily tune in to the grief of another, it is very easy to lose your way if you have not yet resolved your own present or past trauma and grief. If you have not healed from your own grief and you turn around and give all you have to give, you will find yourself drowning. Soon there will be nothing left of you.
Kate McGahan (Only Gone From Your Sight: Jack McAfghan's Little Guide to Pet Loss and Grief)
To be honest, I consider my very sordid past a blessing; if only because it made my wonderful present - and my bright future - possible!
Karen E. Quinones Miller
The World Trade Center cross has become a Christian icon. It has been blessed by so-called holy men and presented as a reminder that their God, who couldn't be bothered to stop the terrorists or prevent 3,000 people from being killed in his name, cared only enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross. [The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Comedy Central, 4 August 2011]
David Silverman
What makes people good communicators is, in essence, an ability not to be fazed by the more problematic or offbeat aspects of their own characters. They can contemplate their anger, their sexuality, and their unpopular, awkward, or unfashionable opinions without losing confidence or collapsing into self-disgust. They can speak clearly because they have managed to develop a priceless sense of their own acceptability. They like themselves well enough to believe that they are worthy of, and can win, the goodwill of others if only they have the wherewithal to present themselves with the right degree of patience and imagination. As children, these good communicators must have been blessed with caregivers who knew how to love their charges without demanding that every last thing about them be agreeable and perfect. Such parents would have been able to live with the idea that their offspring might sometimes—for a while, at least—be odd, violent, angry, mean, peculiar, or sad, and yet still deserve a place within the circle of familial love.
Alain de Botton (The Course of Love)
Dear Jim." The writing grew suddenly blurred and misty. And she had lost him again--had lost him again! At the sight of the familiar childish nickname all the hopelessness of her bereavement came over her afresh, and she put out her hands in blind desperation, as though the weight of the earth-clods that lay above him were pressing on her heart. Presently she took up the paper again and went on reading: "I am to be shot at sunrise to-morrow. So if I am to keep at all my promise to tell you everything, I must keep it now. But, after all, there is not much need of explanations between you and me. We always understood each other without many words, even when we were little things. "And so, you see, my dear, you had no need to break your heart over that old story of the blow. It was a hard hit, of course; but I have had plenty of others as hard, and yet I have managed to get over them,--even to pay back a few of them,--and here I am still, like the mackerel in our nursery-book (I forget its name), 'Alive and kicking, oh!' This is my last kick, though; and then, tomorrow morning, and--'Finita la Commedia!' You and I will translate that: 'The variety show is over'; and will give thanks to the gods that they have had, at least, so much mercy on us. It is not much, but it is something; and for this and all other blessings may we be truly thankful! "About that same tomorrow morning, I want both you and Martini to understand clearly that I am quite happy and satisfied, and could ask no better thing of Fate. Tell that to Martini as a message from me; he is a good fellow and a good comrade, and he will understand. You see, dear, I know that the stick-in-the-mud people are doing us a good turn and themselves a bad one by going back to secret trials and executions so soon, and I know that if you who are left stand together steadily and hit hard, you will see great things. As for me, I shall go out into the courtyard with as light a heart as any child starting home for the holidays. I have done my share of the work, and this death-sentence is the proof that I have done it thoroughly. They kill me because they are afraid of me; and what more can any man's heart desire? "It desires just one thing more, though. A man who is going to die has a right to a personal fancy, and mine is that you should see why I have always been such a sulky brute to you, and so slow to forget old scores. Of course, though, you understand why, and I tell you only for the pleasure of writing the words. I loved you, Gemma, when you were an ugly little girl in a gingham frock, with a scratchy tucker and your hair in a pig-tail down your back; and I love you still. Do you remember that day when I kissed your hand, and when you so piteously begged me 'never to do that again'? It was a scoundrelly trick to play, I know; but you must forgive that; and now I kiss the paper where I have written your name. So I have kissed you twice, and both times without your consent. "That is all. Good-bye, my dear" Then am I A happy fly, If I live Or if I die
Ethel Lilian Voynich
you don’t have to live in community long to realize that lives which are blessed and instructive are still flawed. The grace of the gospel isn’t only that the Word was made flesh in Jesus, but also that the eternal Word is made present in weak and wonderful people.
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today's Church)
Man had gone on, through age after age, avenging wrong with wrong, slaughter with slaughter. Nobody was the better for it, since both sides always suffered, yet everybody was inextricable. The present war might be attributed to Mordred, or to himself. But also it was due to a million Thrashers, to Lancelot, Guenever, Gawaine, everybody. Those who lived by the sword were forced to die by it. It was as if everything would lead to sorrow, so long as man refused to forget the past. The wrongs of Uther and of Cain were wrongs which could have been righted only by the blessing of forgetting them.
T.H. White (The Once and Future King (The Once and Future King, #1-4))
Was it the wicked leaders who led innocent populations to slaughter, or was it wicked populations who chose leaders after their own hears? On the face of it, it seemed unlikely that one Leader could force a million Englishmen against their will. If, for instance, Mordred had been anxious to make the English wear petticoats, or stand on their heads, they would surely not have joined his party -- however clever or persuasive or deceitful or even terrible his inducements? A leader was surely forced to offer something which appealed to those he led? He might give the impetus to the falling building, but surely it had to be toppling on its own account before it fell? If this were true, then wars were not calamities into which amiable innocents were led by evil men.They were national movements, deeper, more subtle in origin. And, indeed, it did not feel to him as if he or Mordred had led their country to its misery. If it was so easy to lead one's country in various directions, as if she was a pig on a string, why had he failed to lead her into chivalry, into justice, and into peace? He had been trying. Then again -- this was the second circle -- it was like the Inferno -- if neither he nor Mordred had really set the misery in motion, who had been the cause? How did the fact of war begin in general? For any one war seemed so rooted in its antecedents. Mordred went back to Morgause, Morgause to Uther Pendragon, Uther to his ancestors. It seemed as if Cain had slain Abel, seizing his country, after which the men of Abel had sought to win their patrimony again for ever. Man had gone on, through age after age, avenging wrong with wrong, slaughter with slaughter. Nobody was the better for it, since both sides always suffered, yet everybody was inextricable. The present war might be attributed to Mordred or to himself. But also it was due to a million Thrashers, to Lancelot, Guenever, Gawaine, everybody. Those who lived by the sword were forced to die by it. It was as if everything would lead to sorrow, so long as man refused to forget the past. The wrongs of Uther and of Cain were wrongs which could have been righted only by the blessing of forgetting them.
T.H. White (The Once and Future King (The Once and Future King, #1-4))
What is important is that you get your house in order at each stage of the journey so that you can proceed. “If some day it be given to you to pass into the inner temple, you must leave no enemies behind.”—de Lubicz For example, if you never got on well with one of your parents and you have left that parent behind on your journey in such a way that the thought of that parent arouses anger or frustration or self-pity or any emotion . . . you are still attached. You are still stuck. And you must get that relationship straight before you can finish your work. And what, specifically, does “getting it straight” mean? Well, it means re-perceiving that parent, or whoever it may be, with total compassion . . . seeing him as a being of the spirit, just like you, who happens to be your parent . . . and who happens to have this or that characteristic, and who happens to be at a certain stage of his evolutionary journey. You must see that all beings are just beings . . . and that all the wrappings of personality and role and body are the coverings. Your attachments are only to the coverings, and as long as you are attached to someone else’s covering you are stuck, and you keep them stuck, in that attachment. Only when you can see the essence, can see God, in each human being do you free yourself and those about you. It’s hard work when you have spent years building a fixed model of who someone else is to abandon it, but until that model is superceded by a compassionate model, you are still stuck. In India they say that in order to proceed with one’s work one needs one’s parents’ blessings. Even if the parent has died, you must in your heart and mind, re-perceive that relationship until it becomes, like every one of your current relationships, one of light. If the person is still alive you may, when you have proceeded far enough, revisit and bring the relationship into the present. For, if you can keep the visit totally in the present, you will be free and finished. The parent may or may not be . . . but that is his karmic predicament. And if you have been truly in the present, and if you find a place in which you can share even a brief eternal moment . . . this is all it takes to get the blessing of your parent! It obviously doesn’t demand that the parent say, “I bless you.” Rather it means that he hears you as a fellow being, and honors the divine spark within you. And even a moment in the Here and Now . . . a single second shared in the eternal present . . . in love . . . is all that is required to free you both, if you are ready to be freed. From then on, it’s your own individual karma that determines how long you can maintain that high moment.
Ram Dass (Be Here Now)
At present, a good many men engaged in scientific pursuits, and who have signally failed in gaining recognition among their fellows, are endeavoring to make reputations among the churches by delivering weak and vapid lectures upon the 'harmony of Genesis and Geology.' Like all hypocrites, these men overstate the case to such a degree, and so turn and pervert facts and words that they succeed only in gaining the applause of other hypocrites like themselves. Among the great scientists they are regarded as generals regard sutlers who trade with both armies. Surely the time must come when the wealth of the world will not be wasted in the propagation of ignorant creeds and miraculous mistakes. The time must come when churches and cathedrals will be dedicated to the use of man; when minister and priest will deem the discoveries of the living of more importance than the errors of the dead; when the truths of Nature will outrank the 'sacred' falsehoods of the past, and when a single fact will outweigh all the miracles of Holy Writ. Who can over estimate the progress of the world if all the money wasted in superstition could be used to enlighten, elevate and civilize mankind? When every church becomes a school, every cathedral a university, every clergyman a teacher, and all their hearers brave and honest thinkers, then, and not until then, will the dream of poet, patriot, philanthropist and philosopher, become a real and blessed truth.
Robert G. Ingersoll (Some Mistakes of Moses)
Summary of the Science of Getting Rich There is a thinking stuff from which all things are made, and which, in its original state, permeates, penetrates, and fills the interspaces of the universe. A thought in this substance produces the thing that is imaged by the thought. Man can form things in his thought, and by impressing his thought upon formless substance can cause the thing he thinks about to be created. In order to do this, man must pass from the competitive to the creative mind; otherwise he cannot be in harmony with the Formless Intelligence, which is always creative and never competitive in spirit. Man may come into full harmony with the Formless Substance by entertaining a lively and sincere gratitude for the blessings it bestows upon him. Gratitude unifies the mind of man with the intelligence of Substance, so that man’s thoughts are received by the Formless. Man can remain upon the creative plane only by uniting himself with the Formless Intelligence through a deep and continuous feeling of gratitude. Man must form a clear and definite mental image of the things he wishes to have, to do, or to become; and he must hold this mental image in his thoughts, while being deeply grateful to the Supreme that all his desires are granted to him. The man who wishes to get rich must spend his leisure hours in contemplating his Vision, and in earnest thanksgiving that the reality is being given to him. Too much stress cannot be laid on the importance of frequent contemplation of the mental image, coupled with unwavering faith and devout gratitude. This is the process by which the impression is given to the Formless, and the creative forces set in motion. The creative energy works through the established channels of natural growth, and of the industrial and social order. All that is included in his mental image will surely be brought to the man who follows the instructions given above, and whose faith does not waver. What he wants will come to him through the ways of established trade and commerce. In order to receive his own when it shall come to him, man must be active; and this activity can only consist in more than filling his present place. He must keep in mind the Purpose to get rich through the realization of his mental image. And he must do, every day, all that can be done that day, taking care to do each act in a successful manner. He must give to every man a use value in excess of the cash value he receives, so that each transaction makes for more life; and he must so hold the Advancing Thought that the impression of increase will be communicated to all with whom he comes in contact. The men and women who practice the foregoing instructions will certainly get rich; and the riches they receive will be in exact proportion to the definiteness of their vision, the fixity of their purpose, the steadiness of their faith, and the depth of their gratitude.
Wallace D. Wattles (The Science of Getting Rich)
The portentous development of our present economic system, leading to a mighty accumulation of social wealth in the hands of privileged minorities and to a continuous impoverishment of the great masses of the people, prepared the way for the present political and social reaction, and befriended it in every way. It sacrificed the general interests of human society to the private interests of individuals, and thus systematically undermined the relationship between man and man. People forgot that industry is not an end in itself, but should be only a means to insure to man his material subsistence and to make accessible to him the blessings of a higher intellectual culture. Where industry is everything and man is nothing begins the realm of a ruthless economic despotism whose workings are no less disastrous than those of any political despotism. The two mutually augment one another, and they are fed from the same source.
Rudolf Rocker (Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice)
It is a special blessing to belong among those who can and may devote their best energies to the contemplation and exploration of objective and timeless things. How happy and grateful I am for having been granted this blessing, which bestows upon one a large measure of independence from one's personal fate and from the attitude of one's contemporaries. Yet this independence must not inure us to the awareness of the duties that constantly bind us to the past, present and future of humankind at large. Our situation on this earth seems strange. Every one of us appears here, involuntarily and uninvited, for a short stay, without knowing the why and the wherefore. In our daily lives we feel only that man is here for the sake of others, for those whom we love and for many other beings whose fate is connected with our own. I am often troubled by the thought that my life is based to such a large extent on the work of my fellow human beings, and I am aware of my great indebtedness to them. I do not believe in free will. Schopenhauer's words: 'Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,' accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others, even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and deciding individuals, and from losing my temper. I have never coveted affluence and luxury and even despise them a good deal. My passion for social justice has often brought me into conflict with people, as has my aversion to any obligation and dependence I did not regard as absolutely necessary. [Part 2] I have a high regard for the individual and an insuperable distaste for violence and fanaticism. All these motives have made me a passionate pacifist and antimilitarist. I am against any chauvinism, even in the guise of mere patriotism. Privileges based on position and property have always seemed to me unjust and pernicious, as does any exaggerated personality cult. I am an adherent of the ideal of democracy, although I know well the weaknesses of the democratic form of government. Social equality and economic protection of the individual have always seemed to me the important communal aims of the state. Although I am a typical loner in daily life, my consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice keeps me from feeling isolated. The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as of all serious endeavour in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all there is.
Albert Einstein
Ultimately, the roast turkey must be regarded as a monument to Boomer's love. Look at it now, plump and glossy, floating across Idaho as if it were a mammoth, mutated seed pod. Hear how it backfires as it passes the silver mines, perhaps in tribute to the origin of the knives and forks of splendid sterling that a roast turkey and a roast turkey alone possesses the charisma to draw forth into festivity from dark cupboards. See how it glides through the potato fields, familiarly at home among potatoes but with an air of expectation, as if waiting for the flood of gravy. The roast turkey carries with it, in its chubby hold, a sizable portion of our primitive and pagan luggage. Primitive and pagan? Us? We of the laser, we of the microchip, we of the Union Theological Seminary and Time magazine? Of course. At least twice a year, do not millions upon millions of us cybernetic Christians and fax machine Jews participate in a ritual, a highly stylized ceremony that takes place around a large dead bird? And is not this animal sacrificed, as in days of yore, to catch the attention of a divine spirit, to show gratitude for blessings bestowed, and to petition for blessings coveted? The turkey, slain, slowly cooked over our gas or electric fires, is the central figure at our holy feast. It is the totem animal that brings our tribe together. And because it is an awkward, intractable creature, the serving of it establishes and reinforces the tribal hierarchy. There are but two legs, two wings, a certain amount of white meat, a given quantity of dark. Who gets which piece; who, in fact, slices the bird and distributes its limbs and organs, underscores quite emphatically the rank of each member in the gathering. Consider that the legs of this bird are called 'drumsticks,' after the ritual objects employed to extract the music from the most aboriginal and sacred of instruments. Our ancestors, kept their drums in public, but the sticks, being more actively magical, usually were stored in places known only to the shaman, the medicine man, the high priest, of the Wise Old Woman. The wing of the fowl gives symbolic flight to the soul, but with the drumstick is evoked the best of the pulse of the heart of the universe. Few of us nowadays participate in the actual hunting and killing of the turkey, but almost all of us watch, frequently with deep emotion, the reenactment of those events. We watch it on TV sets immediately before the communal meal. For what are footballs if not metaphorical turkeys, flying up and down a meadow? And what is a touchdown if not a kill, achieved by one or the other of two opposing tribes? To our applause, great young hungers from Alabama or Notre Dame slay the bird. Then, the Wise Old Woman, in the guise of Grandma, calls us to the table, where we, pretending to be no longer primitive, systematically rip the bird asunder. Was Boomer Petaway aware of the totemic implications when, to impress his beloved, he fabricated an outsize Thanksgiving centerpiece? No, not consciously. If and when the last veil dropped, he might comprehend what he had wrought. For the present, however, he was as ignorant as Can o' Beans, Spoon, and Dirty Sock were, before Painted Stick and Conch Shell drew their attention to similar affairs. Nevertheless, it was Boomer who piloted the gobble-stilled butterball across Idaho, who negotiated it through the natural carving knives of the Sawtooth Mountains, who once or twice parked it in wilderness rest stops, causing adjacent flora to assume the appearance of parsley.
Tom Robbins (Skinny Legs and All)
A Lion Overpowered Sheikh Abu Masood bin Abi Bakr Harimi (r.a) reports that there was a very great Saint by the name of Sheikh Ahmed Jaam (r.a) He used to travel on a lion wherever he went. In every city that he visited, it was his habit to ask the people of the city to send one cow for his lion’s meal. Once, he went to a certain city and requested from the Saint of that city a cow for his lion. The Saint sent the cow to him and said, “If you ever go to Baghdad, your lion will receive a welcome invitation.” Sheikh Ahmed Jaam (r.a) then journeyed to Baghdad Shareef. On arriving in Baghdad, he sent one of his disciples to al-Ghawth al-A’zam (r.a) and commanded that a cow be sent to him, as a meal for his lion. The great Ghawth was already aware of his coming. He had already arranged for a cow to be kept for the lion. On the command of Sheikh Ahmed Jaam (r.a) Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (r.a) sent one of his disciples with a cow to him. As the disciple took the cow with him, a weak and old stray dog which used to sit outside the home of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (r.a) followed the disciple. The disciple presented the cow to Sheikh Ahmed Jaam (r.a) who in turn signalled the lion to commence feeding. As the lion ran towards the cow, this stray dog pounced on the lion. It caught the lion by its throat and killed the lion by tearing open its stomach. The dog then dragged the lion and threw it before al-Ghawth al-A’zam (r.a) On seeing this, Sheikh Ahmed Jaam (r.a) was very embarrassed. He humbled himself before the great Ghawth and asked for forgiveness for his arrogant behaviour. This incident shows the strength of a dog that only sat outside the stoop of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (r.a) This was due to its Nisbat to the blessed stoop of the great Saint. It also proves that even animals recognise and are loyal to the the Awliya Allah. A’la Hazrat, Sheikh Imam Ahmed Raza al-Qaadiri (r.a) portrays the above-mentioned incident in one of his poetic stanzas. He says: “Kya Dab’be Jis Pe Himayat Ka Ho Panja Tera, Sher Ko Khatre me Laata, Nahi Kut’ta Tera
Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jilani
You may have read or heard about the so-called positive thinkers of the West. They say just the opposite -- they don't know what they are saying. They say, "When you breathe out, throw out all your misery and negativity; and when you breathe in, breathe in joy, positivity, happiness, cheerfulness." Atisha's method is just the opposite: when you breathe in, breathe in all the misery and suffering of all the beings of the world -- past, present and future. And when you breathe out, breathe out all the joy that you have, all the blissfulness that you have, all the benediction that you have. Breathe out, pour yourself into existence. This is the method of compassion: drink in all the suffering and pour out all the blessings. And you will be surprised if you do it. The moment you take all the sufferings of the world inside you, they are no longer sufferings. The heart immediately transforms the energy. The heart is a transforming force: drink in misery, and it is transformed into blissfulness... then pour it out. Once you have learned that your heart can do this magic, this miracle, you would like to do it again and again. Try it. It is one of the most practical methods -- simple, and it brings immediate results. Do it today, and see. That is one of the approaches of Buddha and all his disciples. Atisha is one of his disciples, in the same tradition, in the same line. Buddha says again and again to his disciples, "IHI PASSIKO: come and see!" They are very scientific people. Buddhism is the most scientific religion on the earth; hence, Buddhism is gaining more and more ground in the world every day. As the world becomes more intelligent, Buddha will become more and more important. It is bound to be so. As more and more people come to know about science, Buddha will have great appeal, because he will convince the scientific mind -- because he says, "Whatsoever I am saying can be practiced." And I don't say to you, "Believe it," I say, "Experiment with it, experience it, and only then if you feel it yourself, trust it. Otherwise there is no need to believe.
Osho (The Book of Wisdom)
Once every hundred years, two souls are brought together through the veil of time. They are deemed the chosen ones by the Fae. Through their acts of kindness, generosity, and love to others, they often neglect to find their one true love. Their devotion to aiding others blinds them to their own happiness, leaving them alone. Time is fleeting and only the strongest and purest of heart will be able to capture the spark of love. If the ember ceases to grow, then on the stroke of midnight on the Winter Solstice the two lovers will be returned to their own time. The doors of past and present to be closed forever. In this year, 2016, the Fae have chosen Cormac Blaine Murray and Eve Catherine Brannigan to receive this special blessing – a chance of love – everlasting. When the light of true love whispers in their hearts, Cormac and Eve must trust and believe in the magic that brought them together before the sands of time vanish into the mists of the Highlands.
Mary Morgan (A Magical Highland Solstice)
In a well-furnished kitchen, there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.  2 Timothy 2:20-21 (MSG)
McMillian Moody (Ordained Irreverence (Elmo Jenkins Book One))
Struggling, despairing, Klein fought with his demon. All the new understanding and sense of redemption this fateful time had yielded had surged, in the course of this past day, to such a wave of thought and clarity that he had felt he would remain forever on the crest even while he was beginning to drop down. Now he was in the trough again, still fighting, still secretly hoping, but gravely injured. For one brief, glowing day he had succeeded in practicing the simple art known to every blade of grass. For one scant day he had loved himself, felt himself to be unified and whole, not split into hostile parts; he had loved himself and the world and God in himself, and everywhere he went he had met nothing but love, approval, and joy. If a robber had attacked him yesterday, or a policeman had arrested him, that too would have been approval, harmony, the smile of fate. And now, in the midst of happiness, he had reversed course and was cutting himself down again. He sat in judgment on himself while his deepest self knew that all judgment was wrong and foolish. The world, which for the span of one day had been crystal clear and wholly filled with divinity, once more presented a harsh and painful face; every object had its own meaning and every meaning contradicted every other." "He already knew that the choking feeling of dread would pass only if he stopped condemning and admonishing himself, if he stopped poking around in the old wounds. He knew that all pain, all stupidity, all evil became its opposite if he could recognize God in it, if he pursued it to its deepest roots, which extended far beyond weal and woe and good and evil. He knew that. But there was nothing to do about it; the evil spirit was in him, God was a word again, lovely but remote. He hated and despised himself, and this hatred came over him, when the time was ripe, as involuntary and inexorably as love and trustfulness at other times. And this was how it always must be. Again and again and again he would experience the grace and blessing, and again and again the accursed contrary.
Hermann Hesse (Klingsors letzter Sommer)
Imagine, if you will, a great reservoir, out of which lead innumerable small rivulets or channels. At its farther end each channel opens out into a small fountain. This fountain is not only being continually filled and replenished from the reservoir but is itself a radiating center whence it gives out in all directions that which it receives, so that all who come within its radius are refreshed and blessed.  41.           This is our relation with God. Each one of us is a radiating center. Each one, no matter how small or ignorant, is the little fountain at the far end of a channel, the other end of which leads out from all there is in God. This fountain represents the individuality, as separate from the great reservoir--God--and yet as one with Him, and without Him we are nothing.
H. Emilie Cady (Premium Complete Collection: Lessons In Truth; How I Used Truth; God A Present Help (Timeless Wisdom Collection Book 765))
I prayed for guidance, kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament,” he went on, “and as I sat in the silence of the chapel, I seemed to see you as a shipwrecked traveler. And it seems to me that that is a good parallel to your present situation, is it not? Imagine such a soul, Madame, suddenly cast away in a strange land, bereft of friends and familiarity, without resources save what the new land can provide. Such a happening is disaster, truly, and yet may be the opening for great opportunity and blessings. What if the new land shall be rich? New friends may be made, and a new life begun.” “Yes, but—” I began. “So”—he said authoritatively, holding up a finger to hush me—“if you have been deprived of your earlier life, perhaps it is only that God has seen fit to bless you with another, that may be richer and fuller.
Diana Gabaldon (Outlander (Outlander, #1))
Come home with me tonight,Gypsy," he said huskily. "You won't regret it." "You have a Gajo priest in residence,then,to give his blessing?" His hand dropped from her. Frustration filled his eyes. "You are saying you would me?" "I am saying I want you,too,Lord Englishman, but without the prist's words, I can't have you.It does not get more simple than that." "Simple?" he all but snorted. "You must know that is impossible,that people from my social stature only marry within their class." "Yes,I know very well how nobles are goverened by the opinions of their peers, which does not leave them free to do as they please. A shame you aren't a common man, Lord Englishman. They have more freedom than you." "And how free are you,to do as you want?" he shot back in a frustrated tone. "Or did you not just tell me that you want me?" "I can't deny that.Yet I am restricted by my own morals, rather than the opinions of others. If you must know,my own people would be scandalized if I were to marry you.Ironically, you would not be an acceptable mate for me, for you are not one of us. Would I let that influence me? No.Only one's heart should matter in these things.Yet mine will not let me go to a man who will not be mine to keep.I do not hold myself that cheaply.
Johanna Lindsey (The Holiday Present)
Yes, a poem, a painting, can draw the sting of troubles from a troubled world and lay in its place a blessed realm before our grateful eyes. Music and sculpture will do likewise. Yet strictly speaking, in fact, there is no need to present this world in art. You have only to conjure the world up before you, and there you will find a living poem, a fount of song. No need to commit your thoughts to paper—the heart will already sing with a sweet inner euphony. No need to stand before your easel and limn with brush and paint—the world’s vast array of forms and colors already sparkles within the inner eye. It is enough simply to be able thus to view the place we live, and to garner with the camera of the sentient heart these pure, limpid images from the midst of our sullied world. And so even if no verse ever emerges from the mute poet, even if the painter never sets brush to canvas, he is happier than the wealthiest of men, happier than any strong-armed emperor or pampered child of this vulgar world of ours—for he can view human life with an artist’s eye; he is released from the world’s illusory sufferings; he is able to come and go at ease in a realm of transcendent purity, to construct a unique universe of art, and thereby to destroy the binding fetters of self-interest and desire.
Natsume Sōseki (The Three-Cornered World)
Instead, I had been pushed further and further into a fate from which no escape or reprieve seemed possible. And so there came a moment when I stopped struggling, when I decided that I would cease making any more plans to return to the old days. I made up my mind to look upon the present as exactly what it was: it was all I had. To add to my sense that my curse had turned into a blessing, not only was I free—I was no longer alone.
Laila Lalami (The Moor's Account)
Latter-day Saints are far from being the only ones who call Jesus the Savior. I have known people from many denominations who say those words with great feeling and deep emotion. After hearing one such passionate declaration from a devoutly Christian friend, I asked, “From what did Jesus save us?” My friend was taken aback by the question, and struggled to answer. He spoke of having a personal relationship with Jesus and being born again. He spoke of his intense love and endless gratitude for the Savior, but he still never gave a clear answer to the question. I contrast that experience with a visit to an LDS Primary where I asked the same question: “If a Savior saves, from what did Jesus save us?” One child answered, “From the bad guys.” Another said, “He saved us from getting really, really, hurt really, really bad.” Still another added, “He opened up the door so we can live again after we die and go back to heaven.” Then one bright future missionary explained, “Well, it’s like this—there are two deaths, see, physical and spiritual, and Jesus, well, he just beat the pants off both of them.” Although their language was far from refined, these children showed a clear understanding of how their Savior has saved them. Jesus did indeed overcome the two deaths that came in consequence of the Fall of Adam and Eve. Because Jesus Christ “hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light” (2 Timothy 1:10), we will all overcome physical death by being resurrected and obtaining immortality. Because Jesus overcame spiritual death caused by sin—Adam’s and our own—we all have the opportunity to repent, be cleansed, and live with our Heavenly Father and other loved ones eternally. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). To Latter-day Saints this knowledge is basic and fundamental—a lesson learned in Primary. We are blessed to have such an understanding. I remember a man in Chile who scoffed, “Who needs a Savior?” Apparently he didn’t yet understand the precariousness and limited duration of his present state. President Ezra Taft Benson wrote: “Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ. No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effects upon all mankind” (“Book of Mormon,” 85). Perhaps the man who asked, “Who needs a Savior?” would ask President Benson, “Who believes in Adam and Eve?” Like many who deny significant historical events, perhaps he thinks Adam and Eve are only part of a folktale. Perhaps he has never heard of them before. Regardless of whether or not this man accepts the Fall, he still faces its effects. If this man has not yet felt the sting of death and sin, he will. Sooner or later someone close to him will die, and he will know the awful emptiness and pain of feeling as if part of his soul is being buried right along with the body of his loved one. On that day, he will hurt in a way he has not yet experienced. He will need a Savior. Similarly, sooner or later, he will feel guilt, remorse, and shame for his sins. He will finally run out of escape routes and have to face himself in the mirror knowing full well that his selfish choices have affected others as well as himself. On that day, he will hurt in a profound and desperate way. He will need a Savior. And Christ will be there to save from both the sting of death and the stain of sin.
Brad Wilcox (The Continuous Atonement)
Why did I write it down? In order to remember, of course, but exactly what was it I wanted to remember? How much of it actually happened? Any of it? Why do I keep a notebook at all? It is easy to deceive oneself on all those scores. The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful if accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearranger of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentment of loss.
Joan Didion (Slouching Towards Bethlehem)
Brought up with an idea of God, a Christian, my whole life filled with the spiritual blessings Christianity has given me, full of them, and living on those blessings, like the children I did not understand them, and destroy, that is try to destroy, what I live by. And as soon as an important moment of life comes, like the children when they are cold and hungry, I turn to Him, and even less than the children when their mother scolds them for their childish mischief, do I feel that my childish efforts at wanton madness are reckoned against me. "Yes, what I know, I know not by reason, but it has been given to me, revealed to me, and I know it with my heart, by faith in the chief thing taught by the church. "The church! the church!" Levin repeated to himself. He turned over on the other side, and leaning on his elbow, fell to gazing into the distance at a herd of cattle crossing over to the river. "But can I believe in all the church teaches?" he thought, trying himself, and thinking of everything that could destroy his present peace of mind. Itentionally he recalled all those doctrines of the church which had always seemed most strange and had always been a stumbling block to him. "The Creation? But how did I explain existence? By existence? By nothing? The devil and sin. But how do I explain evil?... The atonement?... "But I know nothing, nothing, and I can know nothing but what has been told to me and all men." And it seemed to him that there was not a single article of faith of the church which could destroy the chief thing--faith in God, in goodness, as the one goal of man's destiny. Under every article of faith of the church could be put the faith in the service of truth instead of one's desires. And each doctrine did not simply leave that faith unshaken, each doctrine seemed essential to complete that great miracle, continually manifest upon earth, that made it possible for each man and millions of different sorts of men, wise men and imbeciles, old men and children--all men, peasants, Lvov, Kitty, beggars and kings to understand perfectly the same one thing, and to build up thereby that life of the soul which alone is worth living, and which alone is precious to us. Lying on his back, he gazed up now into the high, cloudless sky. "Do I not know that that is infinite space, and that it is not a round arch? But, however I screw up my eyes and strain my sight, I cannot see it not round and not bounded, and in spite of my knowing about infinite space, I am incontestably right when I see a solid blue dome, and more right than when I strain my eyes to see beyond it." Levin ceased thinking, and only, as it were, listened to mysterious voices that seemed talking joyfully and earnestly within him. "Can this be faith?" he thought, afraid to believe in his happiness. "My God, I thank Thee!" he said, gulping down his sobs, and with both hands brushing away the tears that filled his eyes.
Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)
The dynamic, future-oriented, ecstatically inspired state of the evolutionary impulse is the new enlightenment that I am speaking about. The inner eye has become compelled by the ever-unfulfilled promise of creating the future at a higher level than what exists in the present moment. When the awakening to this powerful spiritual urgency becomes one’s irrevocable attainment and permanent state, one has surely landed on the yonder shore, where the evolutionary impulse has become the driving force of fundamental principle guiding the vehicle called the body, mind, and soul. . . . God is only as powerful in this world as those of us who have the courage and audacity to awaken in this way—to become one with our own impulse to evolve. That’s the awesome significance of being a human being who is awake. When you realize this for yourself, you discover what an extraordinary blessing it is to be who you are, in this world, right now. In fact, the whole point of the creative process is to be here—to participate fully, radically, consciously in the Universe Project. In this evolutionary context, the point of enlightenment is not merely to transcend the world so that you can be free of it but to embrace the world completely, to embrace the entire process as your self, knowing that you are the creative principle incarnate, and you have a lot of work to do. As an individual, you are instantaneously liberated, simply through taking that step, but your personal liberation is a mere by-product of finally embracing the awe-inspiring burden of the Universe Project, which in truth has been yours all along.
Andrew Cohen (Evolutionary Enlightenment: A New Path to Spiritual Awakening)
Humanistic propaganda screams at us everywhere we go. “You deserve better.” “There’s no one like you.” “Stand up for yourself.” And after a while we start believing the mantra. The most influential culture-shaping document in American history is the Declaration of Independence. And built into the ethos of American society are three inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I think the wording is ironic: the pursuit of happiness. It’s almost like the architects of modern democracy said, “We guarantee you life, and we promise you liberty. But happiness? Good luck.” America is a social experiment founded on the pursuit of happiness. Hundreds of millions of Americans are chasing down happiness. Money, materialism, sex, romance, religion, family, and fame are all pursuits of the same human craving—joy. But apart from Jesus, we never get there. People spend decades searching high and low for happiness and never land at joy. In an odd twist of fate, America, for all her life and liberty, is one of the most depressed nations in the world. And many of us are mad at God. Somehow we think God owes us. We deserve happiness. We deserve a good, comfortable life, free from pain and suffering. We have rights! Right? The scriptures present a totally different worldview that stands against the humanism of Western Europe. It is written, “By grace you have been saved.”[17] The word grace is (charis) in the Greek, which can be translated as “gift.” All of life is grace. All of life is a gift. Humans have no rights. Everything is a gift. Food, shelter, the clothes on our backs, the oxygen in our lungs—it’s all grace. The entire planet, the sky above us and the ground beneath our feet, is all on loan from the Creator God. We live under his roof, eat his food, and drink his water. We are guests. And we are blessed. A reporter once asked Bob Dylan if he was happy. Dylan’s response was, “These are yuppie words, happiness and unhappiness. It’s not happiness or unhappiness. It’s either blessed or unblessed.”[18] I like that. We are blessed. When you reorient yourself to a biblical worldview, the only posture left to take is gratitude. If all of life is a gift, how could we help but thank God?
John Mark Comer (My Name is Hope: Anxiety, depression, and life after melancholy)
The provinces, long oppressed by the ministers of the republic, sighed for the government of a single person, who would be the master, not the accomplice, of those petty tyrants. The people of Rome, viewing, with a secret pleasure, the humiliation of the aristocracy, demanded only bread and public shows; and were supplied with both by the liberal hand of Augustus. The rich and polite Italians, who had almost universally embraced the philosophy of Epicurus, enjoyed the present blessings of ease and tranquillity, and suffered not the pleasing dream to be interrupted by the memory of their old tumultuous freedom.
Edward Gibbon (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)
Mr. President I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error. Steele a Protestant in a Dedication tells the Pope, that the only difference between our Churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Church of Rome is infallible and the Church of England is never in the wrong. But though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect. In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us in returning to our Constituents were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavor to gain partizans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects & great advantages resulting naturally in our favor among foreign Nations as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength & efficiency of any Government in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends, on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of the Government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its Governors. I hope therefore that for our own sakes as a part of the people, and for the sake of posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution (if approved by Congress & confirmed by the Conventions) wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts & endeavors to the means of having it well administred. On the whole, Sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.
Benjamin Franklin
Given the fantastic forms of the mythology of the time, it all seems exotically remote. In fact, when we look more closely, we can see that we are dealing with a confrontation which has never ended and is constantly assuming new forms. The confusion mentioned above between the spirit of man and the Spirit of God characterizes all of mankind’s more ambitious religious and philosophical speculations and mysticisms. It constantly devalues the sensible world, visible organization, the flesh, matter: these are mere ‘appearances’, either a deception or something to be seen through and overcome. Concealed behind them lies the only truth, the spirit, which must be set free and brought out into the open. This is the central axiom of all the religions of the East—from their ancient beginnings to their present-day posterity in this allegedly ‘post-Christian age’. We shall see how hard it was for the Fathers after Irenaeus to ward off Gnostic infiltration. In the Middle Ages, from the remote Calabrian monastery of Fiore, the doctrine of Abbot Joachim was to exert an incalculable influence on later generations which has lasted to the present day. He thought that the age of the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity (together with the organized structure of His Church) would eventually ‘dissolve’ into an age of Pure (Holy!) Spirit.
Irenaeus of Lyons (The Scandal of The Incarnation)
The justice hearing thereof (whose name is Mr Francis Wingate), forthwith issued out his warrant to take me, and bring me before him, and in the meantime to keep a very strong watch about the house where the meeting should be kept, as if we that were to meet together in that place did intend to do some fearful business, to the destruction of the country; when alas! the constable, when he came in, found us only with our Bibles in our hands, ready to speak and hear the word of God; for we were just about to begin our exercise.  Nay, we had begun in prayer for the blessing of God upon our opportunity, intending to have preached the word of the Lord unto them there present: but the constable coming in prevented us. 
John Bunyan (Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners)
That day in Chartres they had passed through town and watched women kneeling at the edge of the water, pounding clothes against a flat, wooden board. Yves had watched them for a long time. They had wandered up and down the old crooked streets, in the hot sun; Eric remembered a lizard darting across a wall; and everywhere the cathedral pursued them. It is impossible to be in that town and not be in the shadow of those great towers; impossible to find oneself on those plains and not be troubled by that cruel and elegant, dogmatic and pagan presence. The town was full of tourists, with their cameras, their three-quarter coats, bright flowered dresses and shirts, their children, college insignia, Panama hats, sharp, nasal cries, and automobiles crawling like monstrous gleaming bugs over the laming, cobblestoned streets. Tourist buses, from Holland, from Denmark, from Germany, stood in the square before the cathedral. Tow-haired boys and girls, earnest, carrying knapsacks, wearing khaki-colored shorts, with heavy buttocks and thighs, wandered dully through the town. American soldiers, some in uniform, some in civilian clothes, leaned over bridges, entered bistros in strident, uneasy, smiling packs, circled displays of colored post cards, and picked up meretricious mementos, of a sacred character. All of the beauty of the town, all the energy of the plains, and all the power and dignity of the people seemed to have been sucked out of them by the cathedral. It was as though the cathedral demanded, and received, a perpetual, living sacrifice. It towered over the town, more like an affliction than a blessing, and made everything seem, by comparison with itself, wretched and makeshift indeed. The houses in which the people lived did not suggest shelter, or safety. The great shadow which lay over them revealed them as mere doomed bits of wood and mineral, set down in the path of a hurricane which, presently, would blow them into eternity. And this shadow lay heavy on the people, too. They seemed stunted and misshapen; the only color in their faces suggested too much bad wine and too little sun; even the children seemed to have been hatched in a cellar. It was a town like some towns in the American South, frozen in its history as Lot's wife was trapped in salt, and doomed, therefore, as its history, that overwhelming, omnipresent gift of God, could not be questioned, to be the property of the gray, unquestioning mediocre.
James Baldwin (Another Country)
Many look back to the Israelites, and marvel at their unbelief and murmuring, feeling that they themselves would not have been so ungrateful; but when their faith is tested, even by little trials, they manifest no more faith or patience than did ancient Israel. When brought into strait places, they murmur at the process by which God has chosen to purify them. Though their present needs are supplied, many are unwilling to trust God for the future, and they are in constant anxiety lest poverty shall come upon them, and their children shall be left to suffer. Some are always anticipating evil or magnifying the difficulties that really exist, so that their eyes are blinded to the many blessings which demand their gratitude. The obstacles they encounter, [294] instead of leading them to seek help from God, the only Source of strength, separate them from him, because they awaken unrest and repining.
Ellen G. White (Patriarchs And Prophets)
There is much in our Lord's pantry that will satisfy his children, and much wine in his cellar that will quench all their thirst. Hunger for him until he fills you. He is pleased with the importunity of hungry souls. If he delays, do not go away, but fall a-swoon at his feet. Every day we may see some new thing in Christ. His love has neither brim nor bottom. How blessed are we to enjoy this invaluable treasure, the love of Christ; or rather allow ourselves to be mastered and subdued in his love, so that Christ is our all, and all other things are nothing. O that we might be ready for the time our Lord's wind and tide call for us! There are infinite plies in his love that the saint will never be able to unfold. I urge upon you a nearer and growing communion with Christ. There are curtains to be drawn back in Christ that we have never seen. There are new foldings of love in him. Dig deep, sweat, labour, and take pains for him, and set by as much time in the day for him as you can; he will be won with labour. Live on Christ's love. Christ's love is so kingly, that it will not wait until tomorrow, it must have a throne all alone in your soul. It is our folly to divide our narrow and little love. It is best to give it all to Christ. Lay no more on the earthly, than it can carry. Lay your soul and your weights upon God; make him your only and best-beloved. Your errand in this life is to make sure an eternity of glory for your soul, and to match your soul with Christ. Your love, if it could be more than all the love of angels in one, would be Christ's due. Look up to him and love him. O, love and live! My counsel is, that you come out and leave the multitude, and let Christ have your company. Let those who love this present world have it, but Christ is a more worthy and noble portion; blessed are those who have him.
Samuel Rutherford
April 1 MORNING “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth.” — Song of Solomon 1:2 FOR several days we have been dwelling upon the Saviour’s passion, and for some little time to come we shall linger there. In beginning a new month, let us seek the same desires after our Lord as those which glowed in the heart of the elect spouse. See how she leaps at once to Him; there are no prefatory words; she does not even mention His name; she is in the heart of her theme at once, for she speaks of Him who was the only Him in the world to her. How bold is her love! it was much condescension which permitted the weeping penitent to anoint His feet with spikenard — it was rich love which allowed the gentle Mary to sit at His feet and learn of Him — but here, love, strong, fervent love, aspires to higher tokens of regard, and closer signs of fellowship. Esther trembled in the presence of Ahasuerus, but the spouse in joyful liberty of perfect love knows no fear. If we have received the same free spirit, we also may ask the like. By kisses we suppose to be intended those varied manifestations of affection by which the believer is made to enjoy the love of Jesus. The kiss of reconciliation we enjoyed at our conversion, and it was sweet as honey dropping from the comb. The kiss of acceptance is still warm on our brow, as we know that He hath accepted our persons and our works through rich grace. The kiss of daily, present communion, is that which we pant after to be repeated day after day, till it is changed into the kiss of reception, which removes the soul from earth, and the kiss of consummation which fills it with the joy of heaven. Faith is our walk, but fellowship sensibly felt is our rest. Faith is the road, but communion with Jesus is the well from which the pilgrim drinks. O lover of our souls, be not strange to us; let the lips of Thy blessing meet the lips of our asking; let the lips of Thy fulness touch the lips of our need, and straightway the kiss will be effected.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Morning and Evening-Classic KJV Edition)
In any case, we should expect that in due time we will be moved into our eternal destiny of creative activity with Jesus and his friends and associates in the “many mansions” of “his Father’s house.” Thus, we should not think of ourselves as destined to be celestial bureaucrats, involved eternally in celestial “administrivia.” That would be only slightly better than being caught in an everlasting church service. No, we should think of our destiny as being absorbed in a tremendously creative team effort, with unimaginably splendid leadership, on an inconceivably vast plane of activity, with ever more comprehensive cycles of productivity and enjoyment. This is the “eye hath not seen, neither ear heard” that lies before us in the prophetic vision (Isa. 64:4). This Is Shalom When Saint Augustine comes to the very end of his book The City of God, he attempts to address the question of “how the saints shall be employed when they are clothed in immortal and spiritual bodies.”15 At first he confesses that he is “at a loss to understand the nature of that employment.” But then he settles upon the word peace to describe it, and develops the idea of peace by reference to the vision of God—utilizing, as we too have done, the rich passage from 1 Corinthians 13. Thus he speaks of our “employment” then as being “the beatific vision.” The eternal blessedness of the city of God is presented as a “perpetual Sabbath.” In words so beautiful that everyone should know them by heart, he says, “There we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise. This is what shall be in the end without end. For what other end do we propose to ourselves than to attain to the kingdom of which there is no end?” And yet, for all their beauty and goodness, these words do not seem to me to capture the blessed condition of the restoration of all things—of the kingdom come in its utter fullness. Repose, yes. But not as quiescence, passivity, eternal fixity. It is, instead, peace as wholeness, as fullness of function, as the restful but unending creativity involved in a cosmoswide, cooperative pursuit of a created order that continuously approaches but never reaches the limitless goodness and greatness of the triune personality of God, its source. This, surely, is the word of Jesus when he says, “Those who overcome will be welcomed to sit with me on my throne, as I too overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. Those capable of hearing should listen to what the Spirit is saying to my people” (Rev. 3:21
Dallas Willard (The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God)
Reflect upon your present blessings -- of which every man has many -- not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings tags: blessings, gratefulness, misfortunes, reflection 826 likes Like “Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since – on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to displace with your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But, in this separation I associate you only with the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!
Charles Dickens (Great Expectations)
Sometimes it takes a knock in life to make us sit up and grab life. And I had just undergone the mother of all knocks. But out of that despair, fear, and struggle came a silver lining--and I didn’t even know it yet. What I did know was that I needed something to give me back my hope. My sparkle. My life. I found that something in my Christian faith, in my family, and also in my dreams of adventure. My Christian faith says that I have nothing ever to fear or worry about. All is well. At that time, in and out of hospital, it reminded me that, despite the pain and despair, I was held and loved and blessed--my life was secure through Jesus Christ. That gift of grace has been so powerful to me ever since. My family said something very similar: “Bear, you are an idiot, but we love you anyway, forever and always.” That meant the world to me and gave me back some of the confidence that I was struggling to find again. Finally, I had my not insubstantial dreams of adventure. And those dreams were beginning to burn bright once more. You see, I figure that life is a gift. I was learning that more than anyone. My mum always taught me to be grateful for gifts. And as I slowly began to recover my strength and confidence, I realized that what mattered was doing something bold with that present. A gift buried under a tree is wasted. Alone one night in bed, I made a verbal, out-loud, conscious decision, that if I recovered well enough to be able to climb again, then I would get out there and follow those dreams to the max. Cliché? To me it was my only hope. I was choosing to live life with both arms open--I would grab life by the horns and ride it for all it was worth. Life doesn’t often give us second chances. But if it does, be bloody grateful. I vowed I would always be thankful to my father in heaven for having somehow helped me along this rocky road.
Bear Grylls (Mud, Sweat and Tears)
Our acceptance with God is sure only through His beloved Son, and good works are but the result of the working of His sin-pardoning love. They are no credit to us, and we have nothing accorded to us for out good works by which we may claim a part in the salvation of our souls. Salvation is God’s free gift to the believer, given to him for Christ’s sake alone. The troubled soul may find peace through faith in Christ, and his peace will be in proportion to his faith and trust. He cannot present his good works as a plea for the salvation of his soul. But are good works of no real value? Is the sinner who commits sin every day with impunity, regarded of God with the same favor as the one who through faith in Christ tries to work in his integrity? The Scripture answers, ‘We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should work in them.’ In His divine arrangement, through His unmerited favor, the Lord has ordained that good works shall be rewarded. We are accepted through Christ’s merit alone, and the acts of mercy, the deeds of charity, which we perform, are the fruits of faith; and they become a blessing to us; for men are to be rewarded according to their works. It is the fragrance of the merit of Christ than makes our good works acceptable to God, and it is grave that enables us to do the works for which He rewards us. Our works in and of themselves have no merit. When we have done all that it is possible for us to do, we are to count ourselves as unprofitable servants. We deserve no thanks from God. We have only done what it was our duty to do, and our works could not have been performed in the strength of our own sinful nature. The Lord has bidden us to draw nigh to Him, and He will draw nigh to us; and drawing nigh to Him, we receive the grace by which to do those good works which will be rewarded at His hands.
Ellen G. White
JANUARY 26 Being Kind-I You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.” The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pastures. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish. —KAHLIL GIBRAN The great and fierce mystic William Blake said, There is no greater act than putting another before you. This speaks to a selfless giving that seems to be at the base of meaningful love. Yet having struggled for a lifetime with letting the needs of others define me, I've come to understand that without the healthiest form of self-love—without honoring the essence of life that this thing called “self” carries, the way a pod carries a seed—putting another before you can result in damaging self-sacrifice and endless codependence. I have in many ways over many years suppressed my own needs and insights in an effort not to disappoint others, even when no one asked me to. This is not unique to me. Somehow, in the course of learning to be good, we have all been asked to wrestle with a false dilemma: being kind to ourselves or being kind to others. In truth, though, being kind to ourselves is a prerequisite to being kind to others. Honoring ourselves is, in fact, the only lasting way to release a truly selfless kindness to others. It is, I believe, as Mencius, the grandson of Confucius, says, that just as water unobstructed will flow downhill, we, given the chance to be what we are, will extend ourselves in kindness. So, the real and lasting practice for each of us is to remove what obstructs us so that we can be who we are, holding nothing back. If we can work toward this kind of authenticity, then the living kindness—the water of compassion—will naturally flow. We do not need discipline to be kind, just an open heart. Center yourself and meditate on the water of compassion that pools in your heart. As you breathe, simply let it flow, without intent, into the air about you. JANUARY 27 Being Kind-II We love what we attend. —MWALIMU IMARA There were two brothers who never got along. One was forever ambushing everything in his path, looking for the next treasure while the first was still in his hand. He swaggered his shield and cursed everything he held. The other brother wandered in the open with very little protection, attending whatever he came upon. He would linger with every leaf and twig and broken stone. He blessed everything he held. This little story suggests that when we dare to move past hiding, a deeper law arises. When we bare our inwardness fully, exposing our strengths and frailties alike, we discover a kinship in all living things, and from this kinship a kindness moves through us and between us. The mystery is that being authentic is the only thing that reveals to us our kinship with life. In this way, we can unfold the opposite of Blake's truth and say, there is no greater act than putting yourself before another. Not before another as in coming first, but rather as in opening yourself before another, exposing your essence before another. Only in being this authentic can real kinship be known and real kindness released. It is why we are moved, even if we won't admit it, when strangers let down and show themselves. It is why we stop to help the wounded and the real. When we put ourselves fully before another, it makes love possible, the way the stubborn land goes soft before the sea. Place a favorite object in front of you, and as you breathe, put yourself fully before it and feel what makes it special to you. As you breathe, meditate on the place in you where that specialness comes from. Keep breathing evenly, and know this specialness as a kinship between you and your favorite object. During your day, take the time to put yourself fully before something that is new to you, and as you breathe, try to feel your kinship to it.
Mark Nepo (The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have)
April 12 MORNING “My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” — Psalm 22:14 OUR blessed Lord experienced a terrible sinking and melting of soul. “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?” Deep depression of spirit is the most grievous of all trials; all besides is as nothing. Well might the suffering Saviour cry to His God, “Be not far from me,” for above all other seasons a man needs his God when his heart is melted within him because of heaviness. Believer, come near the cross this morning, and humbly adore the King of glory as having once been brought far lower, in mental distress and inward anguish, than any one among us; and mark His fitness to become a faithful High Priest, who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Especially let those of us whose sadness springs directly from the withdrawal of a present sense of our Father’s love, enter into near and intimate communion with Jesus. Let us not give way to despair, since through this dark room the Master has passed before us. Our souls may sometimes long and faint, and thirst even to anguish, to behold the light of the Lord’s countenance: at such times let us stay ourselves with the sweet fact of the sympathy of our great High Priest. Our drops of sorrow may well be forgotten in the ocean of His griefs; but how high ought our love to rise! Come in, O strong and deep love of Jesus, like the sea at the flood in spring tides, cover all my powers, drown all my sins, wash out all my cares, lift up my earth-bound soul, and float it right up to my Lord’s feet, and there let me lie, a poor broken shell, washed up by His love, having no virtue or value; and only venturing to whisper to Him that if He will put His ear to me, He will hear within my heart faint echoes of the vast waves of His own love which have brought me where it is my delight to lie, even at His feet for ever.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Morning and Evening-Classic KJV Edition)
The people we find truly anathema are the ones who reduce the past to caricature and distort it to fit their own bigoted stereotypes. We’ve gone to events that claimed to be historic fashion shows but turned out to be gaudy polyester parades with no shadow of reality behind them. As we heard our ancestors mocked and bigoted stereotypes presented as facts, we felt like we had gone to an event advertised as an NAACP convention only to discover it was actually a minstrel show featuring actors in blackface. Some so-called “living history” events really are that bigoted. When we object to history being degraded this way, the guilty parties shout that they are “just having fun.” What they are really doing is attacking a past that cannot defend itself. Perhaps they are having fun, but it is the sort of fun a schoolyard brute has at the expense of a child who goes home bruised and weeping. It’s time someone stood up for the past. I have always hated bullies. The instinct to attack difference can be seen in every social species, but if humans truly desire to rise above barbarism, then we must cease acting like beasts. The human race may have been born in mud and ignorance, but we are blessed with minds sufficiently powerful to shape our behavior. Personal choices form the lives of individuals; the sum of all interactions determine the nature of societies. At present, it is politically fashionable in America to tolerate limited diversity based around race, religion, and sexual orientation, yet following a trend does not equate with being truly open-minded. There are people who proudly proclaim they support women’s rights, yet have an appallingly limited definition of what those rights entail. (Currently, fashionable privileges are voting, working outside the home, and easy divorce; some people would be dumbfounded at the idea that creating beautiful things, working inside the home, and marriage are equally desirable rights for many women.) In the eighteenth century, Voltaire declared, “I disagree with what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.”3 Many modern Americans seem to have perverted this to, “I will fight to the death for your right to agree with what I say.” When we stand up for history, we are in our way standing up for all true diversity. When we question stereotypes and fight ignorance about the past, we force people to question ignorance in general.
Sarah A. Chrisman (This Victorian Life: Modern Adventures in Nineteenth-Century Culture, Cooking, Fashion, and Technology)
Nevertheless, in certain respects and in certain places, despite philosophy, despite progress, the spirit of the cloister lingers on, in the middle of the nineteenth century, and a bizarre new outbreak of asceticism now astounds the civilized world. The persistence of antiquated institutions in perpetuating themselves is like the stubbornness of stale scent clinging to your hair, the urgency of spoiled fish clamouring to be eaten, the oppression of childish garb expecting to clothe the adult, and the tenderness of corpses wanting to come back to kiss the living. 'Ungrateful wretch!' says the garment. 'I protected you in bad weather. Why will you have nothing more to do with me?' 'I come from the open sea,' says the fish. 'I was a rose,' says the perfume. 'I loved you,' says the corpse. 'I civilized you,' says the convent. There is only one answer to this: once upon a time. To dream of the indefinite protraction of defunct things and of embalmment as a way of governing mankind, to restore ravaged dogmas, regild shrines, patch up cloisters, re-bless reliquaries, revitalize superstitions, refuel fanaticisms, replace the handles on holy-water sprinklers and on sabres, recreate monasticism and militarism, to believe in the salvation of society by the multiplication of the parasites, to force the past on the present - this seems strange. Still, there are theorists who propound these theories. Such theorists, and they are intelligent people, have a very simple method: they put a gloss on the past, a gloss they call 'social order', 'divine right', 'morality', 'family', 'respect for elders', 'ancient authority', 'sacred tradition', 'legitimacy', 'religion', and they go about shouting, 'Look! Take this, honest people.' This logic was known to the ancients The haruspices practiced it. They rubbed a black heifer with chalk and said, 'It's white.' We ourselves respect the past in certain instances and in all cases grant it clemency, provided it consents to being dead. If it insists on being alive, we attack and try to kill it. Superstitions, bigotries, false pieties, prejudices, these spectres, for all that they are spectres, cling to life. They have teeth and nails in their vaporousness, and they must be tackled head-on, and war must be waged against them, and it must be waged constantly. For it is one of the fates of humanity to be doomed to eternal battle against phantoms. Shades are difficult to throttle and destroy.
Victor Hugo (Les Misérables)
One morning he read to her at breakfast, something he had written during the night "Very rough," he said. "Half of it I've crossed out. And this was supposed to be the clean copy." He cleared his throat. "So.'Things happen for reasons that are hidden from us, utterly hidden for as long as we think they must proceed from what has come before, our guilt or our deserving, rather than coming to us from a future that God in his freedom offers to us.' My meaning here is that you really can't account for what happens by what has happened in the past, as you understand it anyway, which may be very different from the past itself. If there is such a thing. 'The only true knowledge of God is borne of obedience,' that's Calvin, 'and obedience has to be constantly attentive to the demands that are made of it, to a circumstance that is always new and particular to its moment.' Yes. 'Then the reasons that things happen are still hidden in the mystery of God.' I can't read my own writing. No matter. 'Of course misfortunes have opened the way to blessing you would never have thought to hope for, that you would not have been ready to understand as blessings if they had come to you in your youth, when you were uninjured, innocent. The future always finds us damaged.' So then it is part of the providence of God, as I see it, the blessing or happiness can have very different meanings from one time to another. 'This is not to say that joy is a compensation for loss, but that each of them, joy and loss, exists in its own right and must be recognized for what it is. Sorrow is very real, and loss feels very final to us. Life on earth is difficult and grave, and marvelous. Our experience is fragmentary. Its parts don't add up. They don't even belong in the same calculation. Sometimes it is hard to believe they are all parts of one one thing. Nothing makes sense until we understand that experience does not accumulate like money, or memory, or like years and frailties. Instead, it is presented to us by God who is not under any obligation to the past except in His eternal, freely given constancy.' Because I don't mean to suggest that experience is random or accidental, you see. 'When I say that much the greater part of our existence is unknowable by us because it rests with God, who is unknowable, I acknowledge His grace in allowing us to feel that we know any slightest part of it. Therefore we have no way to reconcile its elements, because they are what we are given out of no necessity at all except God's grace in sustaining us as creatures we can recognize as ourselves.' That's always seemed remarkable to me, that we can do that. That we can't help but do it.'So joy can be joy and sorrow can be sorrow, with neither of them casting either light or shadow on the other.
Marilynne Robinson
It was that very same attitude that had caused the heaviness on her heart right now. The phone calls she had received came from people who had spent all year spending money on the things they wanted: new cars, TVs, clothes and going out to eat and now they had nothing left to give to someone else. "When did it happen?" she wondered, "-- this change in people's thinking." What happened to the times when even a small gift was greatly appreciated because you knew the person had sacrificed so much in order to buy or make it? What happened to the times when parents, spouses and children worked so hard in order to be able to give that special gift to someone they loved? When did it become acceptable to call on your expensive cell phone, from your favorite restaurant, to let others know that you can't buy them a gift this year because you can't afford it? Had she been mistaken all this time in her understanding of gift giving? With a droop in her shoulders she turns and walks toward the little tree. How could it have lost its sparkle in a matter of moments? Why do the presents under it suddenly look less gaily wrapped? With tears gently rolling down her cheeks, she stoops to turn off the tree's lights. As she reaches for the plug, her hand accidentally brushes her Bible laying on the table. She looks up through the blur, her eyes alight upon the passage on the open page. "For God so LOVED the world that he GAVE his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." A sweet peace starts warming her heart. She begins to smile and her tears are flowing even more freely now -- not from sadness, but from joy. The lights on the little tree become brighter and brighter, lighting up the whole room with it's sparkle. The gifts under it look more beautiful than those in the most expensive department stores for, in that moment, she realizes that she wasn't wrong to love, to sacrifice and to want to give gifts to the people she loves. Hadn't God Himself so loved us that He gave, with the greatest of sacrifices, the most wonderful gift, His Son. She was so glad that God hadn't spent His time in heaven selfishly using all His resources for Himself. She was thankful that He hadn't sent her a message saying, "Sorry, but I can't afford to give you a gift this year." In those few moments of heartbreak she had learned something more. She had learned what God must feel like to have the gift that He sacrificed so much to give be rejected and scorned. How hurtful to take away the blessing of giving from someone or to reject their gift. Yes, it seemed to be popular to say, "We can't afford to exchange gifts this year", but it didn't matter. She would continue to love, sacrifice and give, always following her heavenly Father's example.
Tawra Jean Kellam (Homemade Christmas)
[T]he great decided effective Majority is now for the Republic," he told Jefferson in late October 1792, but whether it would endure for even six months "must depend on the Form of Government which shall be presented by the Convention" and whether it could "strike out that happy Mean which secures all the Liberty which Circumstances will admit of combin'd with all the Energy which the same Circumstances require; Whether they can establish an Authority which does not exist, as a Substitute (and always a dangerous Substitute) for that Respect which cannot be restor'd after so much has been to destroy it; Whether in crying down and even ridiculing Religion they will be able on the tottering and uncertain Base of metaphisic Philosophy to establish a solid Edifice of morals, these are Questions which Time must solve." At the same time he predicted to Rufus King that "we shall have I think some sharp struggles which will make many men repent of what they have done when they find with Macbeth that they have but taught bloody Instructions which return to plague the Inventor." . . . In early December, he wrote perhaps his most eloquent appraisal of the tragic turn of the [French] Revolution, to Thomas Pinckney. "Success as you will see, continues to crown the French Arms, but it is not our Trade to judge from Success," he began. "You will soon learn that the Patriots hitherto adored were but little worthy of the Incense they received. The Enemies of those who now reign treat them as they did their Predecessors and as their Successors will be treated. Since I have been in this Country, I have seen the Worship of many Idols and but little [illegible] of the true God. I have seen many of those Idols broken, and some of them beaten to Dust. I have seen the late Constitution in one short Year admired as a stupendous Monument of human Wisdom and ridiculed as an egregious Production of Folly and Vice. I wish much, very much, the Happiness of this inconstant People. I love them. I feel grateful for their Efforts in our Cause and I consider the Establishment of a good Constitution here as the principal Means, under divine Providence, of extending the blessings of Freedom to the many millions of my fellow Men who groan in Bondage on the Continent of Europe. But I do not greatly indulge the flattering Illusions of Hope, because I do not yet perceive that Reformation of Morals without which Liberty is but an empty Sound." . . . [H]e believed religion was "the only solid Base of Morals and that Morals are the only possible Support of free governments." He described the movement as a "new Religion" whose Votaries have the Superstition of not being superstitious. They have with this as much Zeal as any other Sect and are as ready to lay Waste the World in order to make Proselytes.
Melanie Randolph Miller (Envoy to the Terror: Gouverneur Morris and the French Revolution)
maternal love, the most successful object of the religious imagination of romantic art. For the most part real and human, it is yet entirely spiritual, without the interest and exigency of desire, not sensuous and yet present: absolutely satisfied and blissful spiritual depth. It is a love without craving, but it is not friendship; for be friendship never so rich in emotion, it yet demands a content, something essential, as a mutual end and aim. Whereas, without any reciprocity of aim and interests, maternal love has an immediate support in the natural bond of connection. But in this instance the mother’s love is not at all restricted to the natural side. In the child which she conceived and then bore in travail, Mary has the complete knowledge and feeling of herself; and the same child, blood of her blood, stands all the same high above her, and nevertheless this higher being belongs to her and is the object in which she forgets and maintains herself. The natural depth of feeling in the mother’s love is altogether spiritualized; it has the Divine as its proper content, but this spirituality remains lowly and unaware, marvellously penetrated by natural oneness and human feeling. It is the blissful maternal love, the love of the one mother alone who was the first recipient of this joy. Of course this love too is not without grief, but the grief is only the sorrow of loss, lamentation for her suffering, dying, and dead son, and does not, as we shall see at a later stage,[9] result from injustice and torment from without, or from the infinite battle against sins, or from the agony and pain brought about by the self. Such deep feeling is here spiritual beauty, the Ideal, human identification of man with God, with the spirit and with truth: a pure forgetfulness and complete self-surrender which still in this forgetfulness is from the beginning one with that into which it is merged and now with blissful satisfaction has a sense of this oneness. In such a beautiful way maternal love, the picture as it were of the Spirit, enters romantic art in place of the Spirit itself because only in the form of feeling is the Spirit made prehensible by art, and the feeling of the unity between the individual and God is present in the most original, real, and living way only in the Madonna’s maternal love. This love must enter art necessarily if, in the portrayal of this sphere, the Ideal, the affirmative satisfied reconciliation is not to be lacking. There was therefore a time when the maternal love of the blessed Virgin belonged in general to the highest and holiest [part of religion] and was worshipped and represented as this supreme fact. But when the Spirit brings itself into consciousness of itself in its own element, separated from the whole natural grounding which feeling supplies, then too it is only the spiritual mediation, free from such a grounding, that can be regarded as the free route to the truth; and so, after all, in Protestantism, in contrast to mariolatry in art and in faith, the Holy Spirit and the inner mediation of the Spirit has become the higher truth.
Hegel Georg Wilhelm Friedric 1770-1831
Blessed Man” is a tribute to Updike’s tenacious maternal grandmother, Katherine Hoyer, who died in 1955. Inspired by an heirloom, a silver thimble engraved with her initials, a keepsake Katherine gave to John and Mary as a wedding present (their best present, he told his mother), the story is an explicit attempt to bring her back to life (“O Lord, bless these poor paragraphs, that would do in their vile ignorance Your work of resurrection”), and a meditation on the extent to which it’s possible to recapture experience and preserve it through writing. The death of his grandparents diminished his family by two fifths and deprived him of a treasured part of his past, the sheltered years of his youth and childhood. Could he make his grandmother live again on the page? It’s certainly one of his finest prose portraits, tender, clear-eyed, wonderfully vivid. At one point the narrator remembers how, as a high-spirited teenager, he would scoop up his tiny grandmother, “lift her like a child, crooking one arm under her knees and cupping the other behind her back. Exultant in my height, my strength, I would lift that frail brittle body weighing perhaps a hundred pounds and twirl with it in my arms while the rest of the family watched with startled smiles of alarm.” When he adds, “I was giving my past a dance,” we hear the voice of John Updike exulting in his strength. Katherine takes center stage only after an account of the dramatic day of her husband’s death. John Hoyer died a few months after John and Mary were married, on the day both the newlyweds and Mary’s parents were due to arrive in Plowville. From this unfortunate coincidence, the Updike family managed to spin a pair of short stories. Six months before he wrote “Blessed Man,” Updike’s mother had her first story accepted by The New Yorker. For years her son had been doing his filial best to help get her work published—with no success. In college he sent out the manuscript of her novel about Ponce de León to the major Boston publishers, and when he landed at The New Yorker he made sure her stories were read by editors instead of languishing in the slush pile. These efforts finally bore fruit when an editor at the magazine named Rachel MacKenzie championed “Translation,” a portentous family saga featuring Linda’s version of her father’s demise. Maxwell assured Updike that his colleagues all thought his mother “immensely gifted”; if that sounds like tactful exaggeration, Maxwell’s idea that he could detect “the same quality of mind running through” mother and son is curious to say the least. Published in The New Yorker on March 11, 1961, “Translation” was signed Linda Grace Hoyer and narrated by a character named Linda—but it wasn’t likely to be mistaken for a memoir. The story is overstuffed with biblical allusion, psychodrama, and magical thinking, most of it Linda’s. She believes that her ninety-year-old father plans to be translated directly to heaven, ascending like Elijah in a whirlwind, with chariots of fire, and to pass his mantle to a new generation, again like Elijah. It’s not clear whether this grand design is his obsession, as she claims, or hers. As it happens, the whirlwind is only a tussle with his wife that lands the old folks on the floor beside the bed. Linda finds them there and says, “Of all things. . . . What are you two doing?” Her father answers, his voice “matter-of-fact and conversational”: “We are sitting on the floor.” Having spoken these words, he dies. Linda’s son Eric (a writer, of course) arrives on the scene almost immediately. When she tells him, “Grampy died,” he replies, “I know, Mother, I know. It happened as we turned off the turnpike. I felt
Adam Begley (Updike)
This water is greatly valued,” Kassandra said. “Event today, we bring ewers of it to the temples for blessings.” She looked at him again, a bit anxiously, he thought, but as before the impression was swiftly gone. Bending, she cupped her palm, caught sparkling drops of water and drank. The liquid slipped down her throat, cool, clear and incredibly pure. She drank a little more and felt the tension easing from her body, little by little, almost imperceptibly at first, but gathering in strength with each passing moment. “Why don’t you try it?” she suggested and stood aside so that he could do so. As Royce bent to catch the water in his hand, Kassandra almost reached out to stop him but drew back at the last moment. He was a strong man, it would still be his voice. The water was merely…encouragement. From time immemorial, Akoran husbands and wives had enjoyed a goblet of the water taken from the buried temple on their wedding night. Years later, old couples basking in the sun would remember it fondly and share secret looks of tender passion. Of course, it was also possible that the water did nothing and all was mere legend. She wanted to believe that, for it eased her conscience, but the heat seeping through her made her uncertain. She stared at Royce as he drank, watching the ripple of the water ease down his throat. He was such a beautiful man, so perfectly formed in body and mind. The memory of him on the field at the Games, on horseback wearing only a kilt, his powerful muscles flexing as he threw the javelin, haunted her dreams. Ever since then, she had been living in a nightmare. Atreus…the danger to Akora…her own death the price to save both family and home…all seemed to close around her until she could scarcely breathe. Until the moment when she emerged from her desperate, futile quest for vision to see in Royce’s beloved face the future for which she yearned with all her heart. A future that in all likelihood was impossible. That being the case, was it so terribly wrong to steal a little happiness in the fleeting present?
Josie Litton (Kingdom Of Moonlight (Akora, #2))
But at this point an objection is frequently raised. The "otherworldliness" of Christianity is objected to as a form of self-ishness. The Christian, it is said, does what is right because of the hope of heaven, but how much nobler is the man who because of duty walks boldy into the darkness of annihilation! The objection would have some wight if heaven according to Christian belief were mere enjoyment. But as a matter of fact heaven is communion with God and with his Christ. it can be said reverently that the Christian longs for heaven not only for his own sake, but also for the sake of God. Our present love is so cold, our present service is so weak; and we would one day love and serve Him as His love deserves.. it is perfectly true that the christian is dissatisfied with the present world, but it is a holy dissatisfaction; it is that hunger and thirst after righteousness which our Savior blessed. We are separated from the Savior now by the veil of sense and by the effects of sin, and it is not selfish to long to see Him face to face.
J. Gresham Machen
But at this point an objection is frequently raised. The ‘otherworldliness’ of Christianity is objected to as a form of selfishness. The Christian, it is said, does what is right because of the hope of heaven, but how much nobler is the man who because of duty walks boldly into the darkness of annihilation! The objection would have some weight if heaven according to Christian belief were mere enjoyment. But as a matter of fact heaven is communion with God and with His Christ. It can be said reverently that the Christian longs for heaven not only for his own sake, but also for the sake of God. Our present love is so cold, our present service so weak; and we would one day love and serve Him as His love deserves. It is perfectly true that the Christian is dissatisfied with the present world, but it is a holy dissatisfaction; it is that hunger and thirst after righteousness which our Saviour blessed. We are separated from the Saviour now by the veil of sense and by the effects of sin, and it is not selfish to long to see Him face to face.
J. Gresham Machen
He crossed to the desk and took from a drawer a small package wrapped in black velvet. When he unfolded the cloth, Lyra saw something like a large watch or a small clock: a thick disc of brass and crystal. It might have been a compass or something of the sort. “What is it?” she said. “It’s an alethiometer. It’s one of only six that were ever made. Lyra, I urge you again: keep it private. It would be better if Mrs Coulter didn’t know about it. Your uncle –” “But what does it do?” “It tells you the truth. As for how to read it, you’ll have to learn by yourself. Now go – it’s getting lighter – hurry back to your room before anyone sees you.” He folded the velvet over the instrument and thrust it into her hands. It was surprisingly heavy. Then he put his own hands on either side of her head and held her gently for a moment. She tried to look up at him, and said, “What were you going to say about Uncle Asriel?” “Your uncle presented it to Jordan College some years ago. He might –” Before he could finish, there came a soft urgent knock on the door. She could feel his hands give an involuntary tremor. “Quick now, child,” he said quietly. “The powers of this world are very strong. Men and women are moved by tides much fiercer than you can imagine, and they sweep us all up into the current. Go well, Lyra; bless you, child; bless you. Keep your own counsel.” “Thank you, Master,” she said dutifully. Clutching the bundle to her breast, she left the study by the garden door, looking back briefly once to see the Master’s dæmon watching her from the windowsill. The sky was lighter already; there was a faint fresh stir in the air. “What’s that you’ve got?” said Mrs Lonsdale, closing the battered little suitcase with a snap. “The Master gave it me. Can’t it go in the suitcase?” “Too late. I’m not opening it now. It’ll have to go in your coat pocket, whatever it is. Hurry on down to the Buttery; don’t keep them waiting . . .” It was only after she’d said goodbye to the few servants who were up, and to Mrs Lonsdale, that she remembered Roger; and then she felt guilty for not having thought of him once since meeting Mrs Coulter. How quickly it had all happened! And now she was on her way to London: sitting next to the window in a zeppelin, no less, with Pantalaimon’s sharp little ermine-paws digging into her thigh while his front paws rested against the glass he gazed through. On Lyra’s other side Mrs Coulter sat working through some papers, but she soon put them away and talked. Such brilliant talk! Lyra was intoxicated; not about the North this time, but about London, and the restaurants and ballrooms, the soirées at Embassies or Ministries, the intrigues between White Hall and Westminster. Lyra was almost more fascinated by this than by the changing landscape below the airship. What Mrs Coulter was saying seemed to be accompanied by a scent of grown-upness, something disturbing but enticing at the same time: it was the smell of glamour.
Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials: The Complete Trilogy)
As the most perfect subject for painting I have already specified inwardly satisfied [reconciled and peaceful] love, the object of which is not a purely spiritual ‘beyond’ but is present, so that we can see love itself before us in what is loved. The supreme and unique form of this love is Mary’s love for the Christ-child, the love of the one mother who has borne the Saviour of the world and carries him in her arms. This is the most beautiful subject to which Christian art in general, and especially painting in its religious sphere, has risen. The love of God, and in particular the love of Christ who sits at’ the right hand of God, is of a purely spiritual kind. The object of this love is visible only to the eye of the soul, so that here there is strictly no question of that duality which love implies, nor is any natural bond established between the lovers or any linking them together from the start. On the other hand, any other love is accidental in the inclination of one lover for another, or,’ alternatively, the lovers, e.g. brothers and sisters or a father in his love for his children, have outside this relation other conceI1l8 with an essential claim on them. Fathers or brothers have to apply themselves to the world, to the state, business, war, or, in short, to general purposes, while sisters become wives, mothers, and so forth. But in the case of maternal love it is generally true that a mother’s love for her child is neither something accidental just a single feature in her life, but, on the contrary, it is her supreme vocation on earth, and her natural character and most sacred calling directly coincide. But while other loving mothers see and feel in their child their husband and their inmost union with him, in Mary’s relation to her child this aspect is always absent. For her feeling has nothing in common with a wife’s love for her husband; on the contrary, her relation to Joseph is more like a sister’s to a brother, while on Joseph’s side there is a secret awe of the child who is God’s and Mary’s. Thus religious love in its fullest and most intimate human form we contemplate not in the suffering and risen Christ or in his lingering amongst his friends but in the person of Mary with her womanly feeling. Her whole heart and being is human love for the child that she calls her own, and at the same time adoration, worship, and love of God with whom she feels herself at one. She is humble in God’s sight and yet has an infinite sense of being the one woman who is blessed above all other virgins. She is not self-subsistent on her own account, but is perfect only in her child, in God, but in him she is satisfied and blessed, whether. at the manger or as the Queen of Heaven, without passion or longing, without any further need, without any aim other than to have and to hold what she has. In its religious subject-matter the portrayal of this love has a wide series of events, including, for example, the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Birth, the Flight into Egypt, etc. And then there are, added to this, other subjects from the later life of Christ, i.e. the Disciples and the women who follow him and in whom the love of God becomes more or less a personal relation of love for a living and present Saviour who walks amongst them as an actual man; there is also the love of the angels who hover over the birth of Christ and many other scenes in his life, in serious worship or innocent joy. In all these subjects it is painting especially which presents the peace and full satisfaction of love. But nevertheless this peace is followed by the deepest suffering. Mary sees Christ carry his cross, she sees him suffer and die on the cross, taken down from the cross and buried, and no grief of others is so profound as hers. Mary’s grief is of a totally different kind. She is emotional, she feels the thrust of the dagger into the centre of her soul, her heart breaks, but she does not turn into stone.
Hegel Georg Wilhelm Friedric 1770-1831
But at this point an objection is frequently raised. The "otherworldliness" of Christianity is objected to as a form of selfishness. The Christian, it is said, does what is right because of the hope of heaven, but how much nobler is the man who because of duty walks boldly into the darkness of annihilation! The objection would have some wight if heaven according to Christian belief were mere enjoyment. But as a matter of fact heaven is communion with God and with his Christ. it can be said reverently that the Christian longs for heaven not only for his own sake, but also for the sake of God. Our present love is so cold, our present service is so weak; and we would one day love and serve Him as His love deserves.. it is perfectly true that the christian is dissatisfied with the present world, but it is a holy dissatisfaction; it is that hunger and thirst after righteousness which our Savior blessed. We are separated from the Savior now by the veil of sense and by the effects of sin, and it is not selfish to long to see Him face to face.
J Gresham Machen
But at this point an objection is frequently raised. The "otherworldliness" of Christianity is objected to as a form of self-ishness. The Christian, it is said, does what is right because of the hope of heaven, but how much nobler is the man who because of duty walks boldy into the darkness of annihilation! The objection would have some wight if heaven according to Christian belif were mere enjoyment. But as a matter of fact heaven is communion with God and with his Christ. it can be said reverently that the Christian longs for heaven not only for his own sake, but also for the sake of God. Our present love is so cold, our present service is so weak; and we would one day love and serve Him as His love deserves.. it is perfecly true that the chirstian is dissatisfied with the present world, but it is a holy dissatisfaction; it is that hunger and thirst after rightousness which our Savior blessed. We are separated from the Savior now by the veil of sense and by the effects of sin, and it is not selfish to long to see Him face to face.
J. Gresham Machen
Though our main emphasis is intercession, a word may not be out of place here on the use of tongues in praise and thanksgiving. ‘If you bless with the Spirit . . . you may give thanks well enough’ (verses 16, 17). Paul’s restricting of the gift here is because of the presence of ‘the other man’ Who is not helped by an utterance he does not understand. In the solitude of one’s own devotions these restrictions no longer apply. Only God is present, and ‘one Who speaks in tongues speaks not to men but to God’ (verse 2). But is it not better to do it in your mother tongue and understand What you are saying? Not necessarily, or God would never have given this gift, nor would Paul have used it so much. Have we not known times when, in adoration of the Lord, we feel the inadequacy of our own language to express all that we feel in our hearts? The very language which is usually an indispensable channel of communication seems to become a barrier to communication. It is then that this gift comes to our aid, and the human spirit is released in an utterance of praise or thanksgiving that would not have been possible in our native tongue.
Arthur Wallis (Pray in the Spirit: The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Ministry of Prayer)
Freedom is a blessing and a curse. People of all nations treasure the notion of personal liberty, but freedom creates the coincident anxiety of choosing how a person should live. If I desire to find personal happiness, I need to understand what happiness is and learn how to rid myself of unhappiness. Is happiness an endurable material or is it comprised of no more than a string of good fortune? Is the good luck that brings happiness a fortunate happenstance that may evaporate at any moment? Do we measure happiness in the present? Alternatively, is happiness determinable only when looking at the sum and substance of a person’s total life? Is the game of life ultimately a losing proposition for all persons, and if so, is happiness even achievable or is it a form of an illusion? Is happiness simply a temporary mental reprieve from an inevitable period of suffering that serves as a prelude to our final dance with death? Is happiness a matter of quality of life or quantity, i.e. longevity? Can we measure happiness objectively? Alternatively, should we subjectively compute our scale of happiness?
Kilroy J. Oldster (Dead Toad Scrolls)
•    Be an intentional blessing to someone. Devote yourself to caring for others. Even when your own needs begin to dominate your attention, set aside time daily to tune in to others. Pray for their specific needs and speak blessings to those you encounter each day. Make them glad they met you.     •    Seek joy. Each morning ask yourself, “Where will the joy be today?” and then look for it. Look high and low—in misty sunbeams, your favorite poem, the kind eyes of your caretaker, dew-touched spiderwebs, fluffy white clouds scuttling by, even extra butterflies summoned by heaven just to make you smile.     •    Prepare love notes. When energy permits, write, videotape, or audiotape little messages of encouragement to children, grandchildren, and friends for special occasions in their future. Reminders of your love when you won’t be there to tell them yourself. Enlist the help of a friend or family member to present your messages at the right time, labeled, “For my granddaughter on her wedding day,” “For my beloved friend’s sixty-fifth birthday,” or “For my dear son and daughter-in-law on their golden anniversary.”     •    Pass on your faith. Purchase a supply of Bibles and in the front flap of each one, write a personal dedication to the child or grandchild, friend, or neighbor you intend to give it to. Choose a specific book of the Bible (the Gospels are a great place to start) and read several chapters daily, writing comments in the margin of how this verse impacted your life or what that verse means to you. Include personal notes or prayers for the recipient related to highlighted scriptures. Your words will become a precious keepsake of faith for generations to come. (*Helpful hint: A Bible with this idea in mind might make a thoughtful gift for a loved one standing at the threshold of eternity. Not only will it immerse the person in the comforting balm of scripture, but it will give him or her a very worthwhile project that will long benefit those he or she loves.)     •    Make love your legacy. Emily Dickinson said, “Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.” Ask yourself, “What will people remember most about me?” Meditate on John 15:12: “Love each other as I have loved you” (NIV). Tape it beside your bed so it’s the last thing you see at night and the first thing you see in the morning.     •    “Remember that God loves you and will see you through it.
Debora M. Coty (Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate: Wit and Wisdom for Sidestepping Life's Worries)
April 27 What Do You Want? Seekest thou great things for thyself? Jeremiah 45:5 Are you seeking great things for yourself? Not seeking to be a great one, but seeking great things from God for yourself. God wants you in a closer relationship to Himself than receiving His gifts, He wants you to get to know Him. A great thing is accidental, it comes and goes. God never gives us anything accidental. Nothing is easier than getting into a right relationship with God except when it is not God Whom you want but only what He gives. If you have only come the length of asking God for things, you have never come to the first strand of abandonment, you have become a Christian from a standpoint of your own. “I did ask God for the Holy Spirit, but He did not give me the rest and the peace I expected.” Instantly God puts His finger on the reason—you are not seeking the Lord at all, you are seeking something for yourself. Jesus says—“Ask, and it shall be given you.” Ask God for what you want, and you cannot ask if you are not asking for a right thing. When you draw near to God, you cease from asking for things. “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.” Then why ask? That you may get to know Him. Are you seeking great things for yourself—“O Lord, baptise me with the Holy Ghost”? If God does not, it is because you are not abandoned enough to Him, there is something you will not do. Are you prepared to ask yourself what it is you want from God, and why you want it? God always ignores the present perfection for the ultimate perfection. He is not concerned about making you blessed and happy just now; He is working out His ultimate perfection all the time—“that they may be one, even as We are.
Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest)
The Bible begins with a Being so powerful that His words command non-existent things to exist, and they obey. It presents to us a Being so holy and just that He once drowned every person on earth, sparing only the eight people who still looked to Him. This book is full of examples of God punishing the arrogant and blessing the humble. And the Bible concludes with visions of a terrifying future judgment, where every person is cast eternally into either a place of perfect pleasure in union with God or a place of ultimate pain apart from Him.
Francis Chan (You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity)
And if anyone tries to say that the good news is not about all these things—about freeing slaves, about helping the poor, about reconciling warring factions, ethnic groupings, and whole nations, about looking after the blessed world we live on and in—but instead is only about coming to faith in the present and going to heaven in the future, then we must reply that something has gone very, very wrong in their thinking.
N.T. Wright (Simply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good)
Prayers to the Mother of God O Virgin Mother of God, rejoice, Mary full of grace; the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls. Under thy tender compassion we run, O Mother of God, reject not our prayer in our trouble, but deliver us from harm, only pure, only blessed one. Most glorious Ever-Virgin, Mother of Christ our God, present our prayer to thy Son and our God and pray that through thee He may save our souls.
John (Ellsworth) Hutchison-Hall (Daily Prayers for Orthodox Christians)
After all our preparation, general and special, for the conduct of public worship and for preaching, our dependence for real success is on the Spirit of God. And where one preaches the gospel, in reliance on God’s blessing, he never preaches in vain. The sermon meant for the unconverted may greatly benefit believers, and vice versa. Without the slightest manifest result at present, a sermon may be heard from long afterwards; perhaps only in eternity. And the most wretched failure, seeming utterly useless, may benefit the preacher himself, and through him, all who afterwards hear him. Thus we partially see how it is that God’s Word always does good, always prospers in the thing whereto he sent it.
John Albert Broadus (On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons)
Just as a life is made of days, so are days made of moments. A life well lived is firmly planted in the sweet soil of moments. Mark Nepo is a gardener in this soil; he plants seeds of grace that grow only in the soil of loving attention and mindful time. We receive the deepest blessings of life when we fall in love with such moments—and Mark shows us how to fall in love deeply and with abandon.
Mark Nepo (The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have)
Each episode was billed as “another great story based on Frederick L. Collins’s copyrighted book, The FBI in Peace and War—Drama! Thrills! Action!” Peace and War was not blessed with Bureau approval: Jerry Devine of This Is Your FBI, on the other hand, was sanctioned. Both FBI shows remained popular, with the unauthorized version, Peace and War, usually a few ratings points ahead. The Bureau was never presented in anything but the most favorable light on either series. Peace and War was virtually an anthology, bound only by acts of crime and by the sometimes-thin FBI involvement. The main characters were usually the criminals, the stories unfolding from their viewpoints. Occasionally the scene shifted to the pursuing FBI, with the busy clatter of teletype machines a near-constant. The FBI was personified as Field Agent Sheppard; his boss was the enigmatic Mr. Andrews. Rackets and swindles were the staples.
John Dunning (On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio)
And now I come to the first positively important point which I wish to make. Never were as many men of a decidedly empiricist proclivity in existence as there are at the present day. Our children, one may say, are almost born scientific. But our esteem for facts has not neutralized in us all religiousness. It is itself almost religious. Our scientific temper is devout. Now take a man of this type, and let him be also a philosophic amateur, unwilling to mix a hodge-podge system after the fashion of a common layman, and what does he find his situation to be, in this blessed year of our Lord 1906? He wants facts; he wants science; but he also wants a religion. And being an amateur and not an independent originator in philosophy he naturally looks for guidance to the experts and professionals whom he finds already in the field. A very large number of you here present, possibly a majority of you, are amateurs of just this sort. Now what kinds of philosophy do you find actually offered to meet your need? You find an empirical philosophy that is not religious enough, and a religious philosophy that is not empirical enough. If you look to the quarter where facts are most considered you find the whole tough-minded program in operation, and the 'conflict between science and religion' in full blast. The romantic spontaneity and courage are gone, the vision is materialistic and depressing. Ideals appear as inert by-products of physiology; what is higher is explained by what is lower and treated forever as a case of 'nothing but'—nothing but something else of a quite inferior sort. You get, in short, a materialistic universe, in which only the tough-minded find themselves congenially at home.If now, on the other hand, you turn to the religious quarter for consolation, and take counsel of the tender-minded philosophies, what do you find? Religious philosophy in our day and generation is, among us English-reading people, of two main types. One of these is more radical and aggressive, the other has more the air of fighting a slow retreat. By the more radical wing of religious philosophy I mean the so-called transcendental idealism of the Anglo-Hegelian school, the philosophy of such men as Green, the Cairds, Bosanquet, and Royce. This philosophy has greatly influenced the more studious members of our protestant ministry. It is pantheistic, and undoubtedly it has already blunted the edge of the traditional theism in protestantism at large. That theism remains, however. It is the lineal descendant, through one stage of concession after another, of the dogmatic scholastic theism still taught rigorously in the seminaries of the catholic church. For a long time it used to be called among us the philosophy of the Scottish school. It is what I meant by the philosophy that has the air of fighting a slow retreat. Between the encroachments of the hegelians and other philosophers of the 'Absolute,' on the one hand, and those of the scientific evolutionists and agnostics, on the other, the men that give us this kind of a philosophy, James Martineau, Professor Bowne, Professor Ladd and others, must feel themselves rather tightly squeezed. Fair-minded and candid as you like, this philosophy is not radical in temper. It is eclectic, a thing of compromises, that seeks a modus vivendi above all things. It accepts the facts of darwinism, the facts of cerebral physiology, but it does nothing active or enthusiastic with them. It lacks the victorious and aggressive note. It lacks prestige in consequence; whereas absolutism has a certain prestige due to the more radical style of it.
William James
These beauteous forms, Through a long absence, have not been to me As is a landscape to a blind man's eye: But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din Of towns and cities, I have owed to them In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; And passing even into my purer mind, With tranquil restoration:—feelings too Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps, As have no slight or trivial influence On that best portion of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered, acts Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust, To them I may have owed another gift, Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood, In which the burthen of the mystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight Of all this unintelligible world, Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood, In which the affections gently lead us on,— Until, the breath of this corporeal frame And even the motion of our human blood Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become a living soul: While with an eye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things. If this Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft— In darkness and amid the many shapes Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir Unprofitable, and the fever of the world, Have hung upon the beatings of my heart— How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee, O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods, How often has my spirit turned to thee! And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought, With many recognitions dim and faint, And somewhat of a sad perplexity, The picture of the mind revives again: While here I stand, not only with the sense Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts That in this moment there is life and food For future years. And so I dare to hope, Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first I came among these hills; when like a roe I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams, Wherever nature led: more like a man Flying from something that he dreads, than one Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then (The coarser pleasures of my boyish days, And their glad animal movements all gone by) To me was all in all.—I cannot paint What then I was. The sounding cataract Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock, The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, Their colours and their forms, were then to me An appetite; a feeling and a love, That had no need of a remoter charm, By thought supplied, nor any interest Unborrowed from the eye.—That time is past, And all its aching joys are now no more, And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur, other gifts Have followed; for such loss, I would believe, Abundant recompence. For I have learned To look on nature, not as in the hour Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes The still, sad music of humanity, Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power To chasten and subdue. And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man; A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still A lover of the meadows and the woods, And mountains; and of all that we behold From this green earth; of all the mighty world Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create, And what perceive; well pleased to recognise In nature and the language of the sense, The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul Of all my moral being.
William Wordsworth (Tintern Abbey: Ode to Duty; Ode on Intimations of Immortality; The Happy Warrior; Resolution and Independence; And on the Power of So)
These beauteous forms, Through a long absence, have not been to me As is a landscape to a blind man's eye: But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din Of towns and cities, I have owed to them, In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; And passing even into my purer mind With tranquil restoration:—feelings too Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps, As have no slight or trivial influence On that best portion of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered, acts Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust, To them I may have owed another gift, Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood, In which the burthen of the mystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight Of all this unintelligible world, Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood, In which the affections gently lead us on,— Until, the breath of this corporeal frame And even the motion of our human blood Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become a living soul: While with an eye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things. If this Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft— In darkness and amid the many shapes Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir Unprofitable, and the fever of the world, Have hung upon the beatings of my heart— How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee, O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods, How often has my spirit turned to thee! And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought, With many recognitions dim and faint, And somewhat of a sad perplexity, The picture of the mind revives again: While here I stand, not only with the sense Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts That in this moment there is life and food For future years. And so I dare to hope, Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first I came among these hills; when like a roe I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams, Wherever nature led: more like a man Flying from something that he dreads, than one Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then (The coarser pleasures of my boyish days And their glad animal movements all gone by) To me was all in all.—I cannot paint What then I was. The sounding cataract Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock, The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, Their colours and their forms, were then to me An appetite; a feeling and a love, That had no need of a remoter charm, By thought supplied, not any interest Unborrowed from the eye.—That time is past, And all its aching joys are now no more, And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts Have followed; for such loss, I would believe, Abundant recompense. For I have learned To look on nature, not as in the hour Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes The still sad music of humanity, Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power To chasten and subdue. And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man: A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still A lover of the meadows and the woods And mountains; and of all that we behold From this green earth; of all the mighty world Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create, And what perceive; well pleased to recognise In nature and the language of the sense The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul Of all my moral being.
William Wordsworth (Tintern Abbey: Ode to Duty; Ode on Intimations of Immortality; The Happy Warrior; Resolution and Independence; And on the Power of So)
Holy Father, may I ask, is there such grave danger in the codex? Would it not simply remain an object of academic discussion, among philosophers?” “Philosophers have students, and students who love their teachers spread their ideas into every realm of human endeavor. Abstract academic discussions have a way of leaving their mark on entire civilizations, as the events of this century have proved all too well. In another age this codex might have been relatively harmless, especially if we were to be blessed with the original Greek text, against which it could be measured. But the true text eludes us, and thus we must now contend with a chimera that has come back from the dead and that uses Aristotle’s great name as a charm and a passkey into men’s minds.” Still, Elijah wondered if the Pope were not making more of the danger than was warranted. “I hear your silent reservations, Father Elijah. But you must understand that the arrival of this document is no accident. It can be understood only within the larger context of this present struggle. Iustitia is not, in the end, about justice. Its purpose is to reconcile men to an ultimate bondage, but it does so—oh, bitterest of ironies—it does so in the name of freedom.” “And so, you are faced with a dilemma?” “Indeed. Should the manuscript be quietly placed in the archives, awaiting a better time in history? Or should we open it to the world and bear the burden of knowing that some souls may be misled by it?” “Have you decided?” “I have. The manuscript will be open for study by all serious scholars. Translations will be made and published in various languages, in editions that carry an explanation of its background, its shortcomings, and the danger of misinterpretations.” “If I may be frank, Your Holiness, I think your decision is wise. The modern age has styled us as anti-intellectual.
Michael D. O'Brien (Father Elijah: An Apocalypse)
After all, who are they - these egoists! Every single one of them stands up only for the interests of his class. Behind all of them stands either a Jew or their own moneybag. They are nothing other than profiteers; they live from the profits of this war; no good will follow it. I confront these folk as nothing other than the simple fighter for my German Volk that I am. And I am convinced that, just as this struggle has been blessed by Providence up to now, so it will also be blessed in the future. When I stepped before you in this hall for the first time, twenty-one years ago, I was unknown, nameless, and I had nothing other than my own faith. In these twenty-one years, a new world was created! The way from the present to the future will be easier than the one from February 24, 1920, leading to this day and to this place. With zealous confidence I look to the future. The whole nation has stepped up, and I know that the moment there is the command to “fall into step,” Germany will march! Speech for the 21st anniversary of the N.S.D.A.P. in the Hofbrauhaus Munich, February 24, 1941
Adolf Hitler (Collection of Speeches: 1922-1945)
The experiences of men who walked with God in olden times agree to teach that the Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him. The degree of blessing enjoyed by any man will correspond exactly with the completeness of God’s victory over him. This is a badly neglected tenet of the Christian’s creed, not understood by many in this self-assured age, but it is nevertheless of living importance to us all. This spiritual principle is well illustrated in the book of Genesis. Jacob was the wily old heel-catcher whose very strength was to him a near-fatal weakness. For two-thirds of his total life he had carried in his nature something hard and unconquered. Not his glorious vision in the wilderness nor his long bitter discipline in Haran had broken his harmful strength. He stood at the ford of Jabbok at the time of the going down of the sun, a shrewd, intelligent old master of applied psychology learned the hard way. The picture he presented was not a pretty one. He was a vessel marred in the making. His hope lay in his own defeat. This he did not know at the setting of the day, but had learned before the rising of the sun. All night he resisted God until in kindness God touched the hollow of his thigh and won the victory over him. It was only after he had gone down to humiliating defeat that he began to feel the joy of release from his own evil strength, the delight of God’s conquest over him. Then he cried aloud for the blessing and refused to let go till it came. It had been a long fight, but for God (and for reasons known only to Him) Jacob had been worth the effort. Now he became another man, the stubborn and self-willed rebel was turned into a meek and dignified friend of God. He had prevailed indeed, but through weakness, not through strength.
A.W. Tozer (God's Pursuit of Man: Tozer's Profound Prequel to The Pursuit of God)
She did as asked and then felt Marie's hands come up to cradle her face. Marie said softly, 'Jesus, no one understands a heavy load better than you. No one has ever borne heavier. Bear up under this one with Ann, so she will know her only purpose here is to help others, love expansively, and be your hands and feet, your words of advice and wisdom when opportunities present themselves for her to help Grace and Karen. And yes, Josh and Will and Gabriel. Do whatever is necessary for Ann's success in the days ahead. Show your love to my friend and comfort her by your Spirit. Amen.
Dee Henderson (Traces of Guilt (Evie Blackwell Cold Case, #1))
Terrible cultural struggle is kindled by the demand that that which is great shall be eternal. For everything else that lives exclaims 'No!' The customary, the small, and the common fill up the crannies of the world like a heavy atmosphere which we are all condemned to breathe. Hindering, suffocating, choking, darkening, and deceiving: it billows around what is great and blocks the road which it must travel towards immortality. This road leads through human brains — through the brains of miserable, short-lived creatures who, ever at the mercy of their restricted needs, emerge again and again to the same trials and with difficulty avert their own destruction for a little time. They desire to live, to live a bit at any price. Who could perceive in them that difficult relay race by means of which only what is great survives? And yet again and again a few persons awaken who feel themselves blessed in regard to that which is great, as if human life were a glorious thing and as if the most beautiful fruit of this bitter plant is the knowledge that someone once walked proudly and stoically through this existence, while another walked through it in deep thoughtfulness and a third with compassion. But they all bequeathed one lesson: that the person that lives life most beautifully is the person who does not esteem it. Whereas the common man takes this span of being with such gloomy seriousness, those on their journey to immortality knew how to treat it with Olympian laughter, or at least with lofty disdain. Often they went to their graves ironically — for what was there in them to bury? The boldest knights among these addicts of fame, those who believe that they will discover their coat of arms hanging on a constellation, must be sought among philosophers. Their efforts are not dependent upon a 'public,' upon the excitation of the masses and the cheering applause of contemporaries. It is their nature to wander the path alone. Their talent is the rarest and in a certain respect most unnatural in nature, even shutting itself off from the hostile towards similar talents. The wall of their self-sufficiency must be made of diamond if it is not to be demolished and shattered. For everything in man and nature is on the move against them. Their journey towards immortality is more difficult and impeded than any other, and yet no one can be more confident than the philosopher that he will reach his goal. Because the philosopher knows not where to stand, if not on the extended wings of all ages. For it is the nature of philosophical reflection to disregard the present and momentary. He possesses the truth: let the wheel of time roll where it will, it will never be able to escape from the truth.
Friedrich Nietzsche
We encounter this sometimes in our own circles today, as believers often feel obliged to smile in public even if they collapse at home in private despair. Calvin counters, “Such a cheerfulness is not required of us as to remove all feeling of bitterness and pain.” It is not as the Stoics of old foolishly described “the great-souled man”: one who, having cast off all human qualities, was affected equally by adversity and prosperity, by sad times and happy ones—nay, who like a stone was not affected at all. . . . Now, among the Christians there are also new Stoics, who count it depraved not only to groan and weep but also to be sad and care-ridden. These paradoxes proceed, for the most part, from idle men who, exercising themselves more in speculation than in action, can do nothing but invent such paradoxes for us. Yet we have nothing to do with this iron philosophy which our Lord and Master has condemned not only by his word, but also by his example. For he groaned and wept both over his own and others’ misfortunes. . . . And that no one might turn it into a vice, he openly proclaimed, “Blessed are those who mourn.”35 Especially given how some of Calvin’s heirs have confused a Northern European “stiff upper lip” stoicism with biblical piety, it is striking how frequently he rebuts this “cold” philosophy that would “turn us to stone.”36 Suffering is not to be denied or downplayed, but arouses us to flee to the asylum of the Father, in the Son, by the Spirit. It is quite unimaginable that this theology of the cross will top the best-seller lists in our “be good–feel good” culture, but those who labor under perpetual sorrows, as Calvin did, will find solidarity in his stark realism: Then only do we rightly advance by the discipline of the cross when we learn that this life, judged in itself, is troubled, turbulent, unhappy in countless ways, and in no respect clearly happy; that all those things which are judged to be its goods are uncertain, fleeting, vain, and vitiated by many intermingled evils. From this, at the same time, we conclude that in this life we are to seek and hope for nothing but struggle; when we think of our crown, we are to raise our eyes to heaven. For this we must believe: that the mind is never seriously aroused to desire and ponder the life to come unless it is previously imbued with contempt for the present life.37
Michael S. Horton (Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever (Theologians on the Christian Life))
Experiencing Christ’s Love For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NKJV How much does Christ love us? More than we, as mere mortals, can comprehend. His love is perfect and steadfast. Even though we are fallible and wayward, the Good Shepherd cares for us still. Even though we have fallen far short of the Father’s commandments, Christ loves us with a power and depth that are beyond our understanding. The sacrifice that Jesus made upon the cross was made for each of us, and His love endures to the edge of eternity and beyond. Christ is the ultimate Savior of mankind and the personal Savior of those who believe in Him. As His servants, we should place Him at the very center of our lives. And, every day that God gives us breath, we should share Christ’s love and His message with a world that needs both. Christ’s love changes everything. When you accept His gift of grace, you are transformed, not only for today, but also for all eternity. If you haven’t already done so, accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. He’s waiting patiently for you to invite Him into your heart. Please don’t make Him wait a single minute longer. It is when we come to the Lord in our nothingness, our powerlessness and our helplessness that He then enables us to love in a way which, without Him, would be absolutely impossible. Elisabeth Elliot The love of Christ is a fierce thing. It can take the picture you have of yourself and burn it in the fire of His loving eyes, replacing it with a true masterpiece. Sheila Walsh Live your lives in love, the same sort of love which Christ gives us, and which He perfectly expressed when He gave Himself as a sacrifice to God. Corrie ten Boom Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Fanny Crosby Christ is with us, and the warmth is contagious. Joni Eareckson Tada To a world that was spiritually dry and populated with parched lives scorched by sin, Jesus was the Living Water who would quench the thirsty soul, saving it from “bondage” and filling it with satisfaction and joy and
Freeman Smith (Fifty Shades of Grace: Devotions Celebrating God's Unlimited Gift)
The Lord my God lightens my darkness. —Psalm 18:28 (RSV) Nursing a grouchy mood, it was with leaden feet I trudged up the hill that morning to check the newborn calves on our family ranch. I determined that nothing could cheer me up, but in an instant my sour grapes were forgotten. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw the calf with her mother standing over her proudly. Normally our calves are around seventy to ninety pounds. We weighed Mini, just to be sure. Full term and full of life…and only twenty pounds. As a precaution, Mini is spending the first few weeks of her life living in an insulated, heated room in the barn, breathing warm air and where her mother won’t accidentally squish her. Twice a day we carry her out to nurse the cow. She can just reach if she stands on her toes. Plus, we bottle-feed her periodically throughout the day and night.  We took pictures of Mini next to the cats, and they’re the same size! I told a friend that I don’t know why Mini is that size; all of the cow’s other calves were normal. “Every now and then,” she replied, “God sends us a present that will always make us smile.” She’s right. No matter what misery I’m dwelling on, whenever I see Mini, it all goes away and I can’t help but grin. There are times when I get caught up in negativity, Lord. Please don’t let me forget Your big blessings in however small a package. —Erika Bentsen Digging Deeper: Ps 21:6; Eph 3:20–21
Guideposts (Daily Guideposts 2014)
It is of the highest importance from the standpoint of experience that we know the Holy Spirit as a person. Thousands and tens of thousands of men and women can testify to the blessing that has come into their own lives as they have come to know the Holy Spirit, not merely as a gracious influence (emanating, it is true, from God) but as a real Person, just as real as Jesus Christ Himself, an ever-present, loving Friend and mighty Helper, who is not only always by their side but dwells in their heart every day and every hour and who is ready to undertake for them in every emergency of life.
R.A. Torrey (The Works of R. A. Torrey: Person & Work of the Holy Spirit, How to Obtain Fullness of Power, How To Pray, Why God Used D L Moody, How to Study the ... Anecdotes, Volume 1)
Praying for the Persecutor “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” MATTHEW 5:43–45 NIV “I can’t believe she threw me under the bus that way,” Sherri told a friend at work. “My boss stood up in the meeting with the president and senior leadership and told everyone how I had botched the budget presentation.” The truth was Sherri had done everything correctly. She had every right to hate her boss at that moment. Instead, she prayed for her. What allowed her to pray for her boss was a love that was inhumanly possible. What situations have you been in where it would have been much easier (and perhaps more fulfilling) to lash out against someone who had wronged you? At those moments, we should ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with love so we can pray blessings over those who hate us. That is the love of Christ—to love each person, not because of her actions but because of her humanity. Loving Father, please help me to pray for those who wrong me. Please fill me with Your agape love, so I can look past my personal hurt and ask for blessings. Only in this way can I truly exemplify the love You have for people. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Anonymous (Daily Wisdom for Women - January 2014: 2014 Devotional Collection)
rushing headlong into the next thing, we fail to appreciate the blessing of the only thing we can really claim as ours to own, the present moment.
Katrina Kenison (Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment)
COVENANT The basic structure of the relationship God has established with His people is the covenant. A covenant is usually thought of as a contract. While there surely are some similarities between covenants and contracts, there are also important differences. Both are binding agreements. Contracts are made from somewhat equal bargaining positions, and both parties are free not to sign the contract. A covenant is likewise an agreement. However, covenants in the Bible are not usually between equals. Rather, they follow a pattern common to the ancient Near East suzerain-vassal treaties. Suzerain-vassal treaties (as seen among the Hittite kings) were made between a conquering king and the conquered. There was no negotiation between the parties. The first element of these covenants is the preamble, which lists the respective parties. Exodus 20:2 begins with “I am the LORD your God.” God is the suzerain; the people of Israel are the vassals. The second element is the historical prologue. This section lists what the suzerain (or Lord) has done to deserve loyalty, such as bringing the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt. In theological terms, this is the section of grace. In the next section, the Lord lists what He will require of those He rules. In Exodus 20, these are the Ten Commandments. Each of the commandments were considered morally binding on the entire covenant community. The final part of this type of covenant lists blessings and cursings. The Lord lists the benefits that He will bestow upon His vasssals if they follow the stipulations of the covenant. An example of this is found in the fifth commandment. God promises the Israelites that their days will be long in the Promised Land if they honor their parents. The covenant also presents curses should the people fail in their responsibilities. God warns Israel that He will not hold them guiltless if they fail to honor His name. This basic pattern is evident in God’s covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the covenant between Jesus and His church. In biblical times, covenants were ratified in blood. It was customary for both parties to the covenant to pass between dismembered animals, signifying their agreement to the terms of the covenant (see Jeremiah 34:18). We have an example of this kind of covenant in Genesis 15:7-21. Here, God made certain promises to Abraham, which were ratified by the sacrificing of animals. However in this case, God alone passes through the animals, indicating that He is binding Himself by a solemn oath to fulfill the covenant. The new covenant, the covenant of grace, was ratified by the shed blood of Christ upon the cross. At the heart of this covenant is God’s promise of redemption. God has not only promised to redeem all who put their trust in Christ, but has sealed and confirmed that promise with a most holy vow. We serve and worship a God who has pledged Himself to our full redemption.
Anonymous (Reformation Study Bible, ESV)
However,” as Ed notes, “apart from any one Scriptural interpretation, vile, inhuman spirits do roam the earth today. And when commanded to speak, the spirits’ reply is a grave one: My name is Legion: We Are One. It is also true that these spirits possess overwhelming powers, and work with a ferocious rage, malice, and spite against mankind. Oddly, the only protection man can summon against these negative forces is mention of the name of God—though more particularly Jesus—and the presentation of blessed objects. Otherwise, nothing will stay these bizarre spirit entities.
Gerald Brittle (The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren)
PRECIOUS DEATH “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”—Psalm 116:15 This is one of the many comforting and blessed statements in Holy Scripture concerning that great event from which the flesh so much shrinks. If the Lord’s people would more frequently make a prayerful and believing study of what the Word says upon their departure out of this world, death would lose much, if not all, of its terrors for them. But alas, instead of doing so, they let their imagination run riot, they give way to carnal fears, they walk by sight instead of by faith. Looking to the Holy Spirit for guidance, let us endeavor to dispel, by the light of Divine revelation, some of the gloom which unbelief casts around even the death of a Christian. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” These words intimate that a dying saint is an object of special notice unto the Lord, for mark the words “in the sight of.” It is true that the eyes of the Lord are ever upon us, for He never slumbers nor sleeps. It is true that we may say at all times “Thou God seest me.” But it appears from Scripture that there are occasions when He notices and cares for us in a special manner. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee” (Isaiah 43:2). “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” This brings before us an aspect of death which is rarely considered by believers. It gives us what may be termed the Godward side of the subject. Only too often, we contemplate death, like most other things, from our side. The text tells us that from the viewpoint of Heaven the death of a saint is neither hideous nor horrible, tragic or terrible, but “precious.” This raises the question, Why is the death of His people precious in the sight of the Lord? What is there in the last great crisis which is so dear unto Him? Without attempting an exhaustive reply, let us suggest one or two possible answers: — 1. Their persons are precious to the Lord. They ever were and always will be dear to Him. His saints! They were the ones on whom His love
Arthur W. Pink (Comfort for Christians (Arthur Pink Collection))
Enjoy the present, whatsoever it be, and be not solicitous for the future...Enjoy the blessings of this day, if God sends them, and the evils of it bear patiently and sweetly; for this day is only ours; we are dead to yesterday, and we are not yet born to the morrow.
Jeremy Taylor (The Whole Works of the Right REV. Jeremy Taylor, Volume 1)
Perhaps the shortest and most powerful prayer in human language is help. —FATHER THOMAS KEATING A hardness we can't see, cold and rigid, begins to form between us and the world, the longer we stay silent about what we need. It is not even about getting what we need, but about admitting, mostly to ourselves, that we do have needs. Asking for help, whether we get it or not, breaks the hardness that builds in the world. Paradoxically, asking even for the things that no one can give, we are relieved and blessed for the asking. For admitting our humanness lets the soul break surface, the way a dolphin leaps for the sun. One of the most painful barriers we can experience is the sense of isolation the modern world fosters, which can only be broken by our willingness to be held, by the quiet courage to allow our vulnerabilities to be seen. For as water fills a hole and as light fills the dark, kindness wraps around what is soft, if what is soft can be seen. So admitting what we need, asking for help, letting our softness show—these are prayers without words that friends, strangers, wind, and time all wrap themselves around. Allowing ourselves to be held is like returning to the womb. As you breathe, try to relax and soften your guard for these brief moments. Breathe slowly, and feel your pores open more fully to the world. Inhale deeply, and let the air and silence get closer. Inhale cleanly, and allow yourself to be held by what is.
Mark Nepo (The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have)
When it came to the frying of chicken, they took pity on the captors and incorporated the seasonings and spices of Africa- garlic, melegueta pepper, cloves, black peppercorns, cardamom, nutmeg, turmeric and even curry powder. They forgave them their cruelty and presented them with what can only be described as a gift born in sorrow. Food has the ability to move people in this manner. It can inspire bravery. These kitchen slaves could have been beaten for this insolence, or perhaps even killed for such an act, but they served their fried fowl anyway. Not surprisingly, their captors were entranced by it. Soon southern fried chicken became a delicacy enjoyed by both cultures- it was the one point where both captors and captive found pleasure, although the Africans were only allowed to fry the discarded wings of the bird for their own meals. Despite the continued injustice, it was an inspired and blessed act of subversion. Although born in slavery, this dish has not only brought together an entire region of people, it has transformed them. It is, as the Americans say, "democratic," and is now enjoyed by people of all walks of life and all parts of the country.
N.M. Kelby (White Truffles in Winter)
LOVE God is love, and there are blessed moments when even to unregenerate human beings it is granted to know Him as love. But it is only in the saints that this knowledge becomes secure and continuous. By those in the earlier stages of the spiritual life God is apprehended predominantly as law. It is through obedience to God the Law-Giver that we come at last to know God the loving Father. The law which we must obey, if we would know God as love, is itself a law of love. “Thou shalt love God with all thy soul, and with all thy heart, with all thy mind and with all thy strength. And thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” We cannot love God as we should, unless we love our neighbors as we should. We cannot love our neighbors as we should, unless we love God as we should. And, finally, we cannot realize God as the active, all-pervading principle of love, until we ourselves have learned to love Him and our fellow creatures. Idolatry consists in loving a creature more than we love God. There are many kinds of idolatry, but all have one thing in common: namely, self-love. The presence of self-love is obvious in the grosser forms of sensual indulgence, or the pursuit of wealth and power and praise. Less manifestly, but none the less fatally, it is present in our inordinate affections for individuals, persons, places, things, and institutions. And even in men’s most heroic sacrifices to high causes and noble ideals, self-love has its tragic place. For when we sacrifice ourselves to any cause or ideal that is lower than the highest, less than God Himself, we are merely sacrificing one part of our unregenerate being to another part which we and other people regard as more creditable. Self-love still persists, still prevents us from obeying perfectly the first of the two great commandments. God can be loved perfectly only by those who have killed out the subtlest, the most nobly sublimated forms of self-love. When this happens, when we love God as we should and therefore know God as love, the tormenting problem of evil ceases to be a problem, the world of time is seen to be an aspect of eternity, and in some inexpressible way, but no less really and certainly, the struggling, chaotic multiplicity of life is reconciled in the unity of the all-embracing divine charity.
Aldous Huxley (The Divine Within: Selected Writings on Enlightenment)
The Roman Catholic view of prayer also must be opposed. Prayers to saints and to Mary amount to (1) a rejection of the accessibility of God in Christ (the only Mediator12) and (2) an ascription of attributes to glorified human beings that belong to God alone (omniscience, omnipresence, and sometimes omnipotence). Mary is called the “refuge of sinners,” the one who is to be asked to “guide” and “teach” us, who is “never implored in vain,” to whom “fervent prayers are to be addressed,” and the one whose “name alone comforts” (The Catholic Church the Teacher of Mankind). She solves the problems of rain and drought, famine and plague according to this book designed to instruct “the Catholic child at the mother’s knee” (Title page. The book was published in New York by the Office of Catholic Publications and bears the imprimatur of Archbishop Johannes W. Farley). On page 643 we read: Unfortunately, you are still mastered by many faults which prevent your becoming the pious and dutiful child God wishes you to be. To be able to cure yourselves of them you must implore the Blessed Virgin. Words almost fail in replying to such unrestrained idolatry. This concept of prayer puts Mary in God’s place. In fact it seems that according to this doctrine of prayer, God has delegated the answering of prayer to Mary. The response to make must be this: (1) Nowhere in all of the Scriptures can any such ideas be found. One will search in vain to find anyone at any time praying to Mary; nor is there any injunction to do so. Indeed, the Scriptures tell us to pray exclusively to God in Christ’s name (see vss. supra). And there is no model of prayer to Mary, any other human being, or to angels. The biblical picture differs considerably from the Roman Catholic one represented in these words: “…in his shortcomings, at each instant of his life, and in the hour of his death, the Christian turns to Mary. Her name alone comforts him, and gives him confidence” (ibid., p. 642). (2) When we pray to someone, we thereby ascribe to that one all of God’s attributes. For example, we must assume that the one to whom prayer is directed is omnipresent even to be able to hear the millions of prayers that are directed to him from all parts of the earth. But omnipresence is an attribute of God alone. Omnipotence likewise is required of the one to whom we pray; he must be able to answer all requests. Omniscience cannot be divorced from prayer either, since the answer must be given with reference to all other matters of all time (past, present and future). Does Mary have such attributes? Some think so (“Mary is all powerful, for she is the mother of God,” ibid., p. 642), others have not carefully thought through the issues involved.
Jay E. Adams (A Theology of Christian Counseling: More Than Redemption (Jay Adams Library))
Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." John 5:8 Like many others, the impotent man had been waiting for a wonder to be wrought, and a sign to be given. Wearily did he watch the pool, but no angel came, or came not for him; yet, thinking it to be his only chance, he waited still, and knew not that there was One near him whose word could heal him in a moment. Many are in the same plight: they are waiting for some singular emotion, remarkable impression, or celestial vision; they wait in vain and watch for nought. Even supposing that, in a few cases, remarkable signs are seen, yet these are rare, and no man has a right to look for them in his own case; no man especially who feels his impotency to avail himself of the moving of the water even if it came. It is a very sad reflection that tens of thousands are now waiting in the use of means, and ordinances, and vows, and resolutions, and have so waited time out of mind, in vain, utterly in vain. Meanwhile these poor souls forget the present Saviour, who bids them look unto him and be saved. He could heal them at once, but they prefer to wait for an angel and a wonder. To trust him is the sure way to every blessing, and he is worthy of the most implicit confidence; but unbelief makes them prefer the cold porches of Bethesda to the warm bosom of his love. O that the Lord may turn his eye upon the multitudes who are in this case tonight; may he forgive the slights which they put upon his divine power, and call them by that sweet constraining voice, to rise from the bed of despair, and in the energy of faith take up their bed and walk. O Lord, hear our prayer for all such at this calm hour of sunset, and ere the day breaketh may they look and live. Courteous reader, is there anything in this portion for you?
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Christian Classics: Six books by Charles Spurgeon in a single collection, with active table of contents)
Reaching into his sporran, he pulled out a small bundle wrapped in fine linen. “I want to give ye somethin’, somethin’I want ye to wear this day.”Carefully, he unfolded the linen and held his hand out to her. Josephine’s eyes widened with curiosity and joy. “’Tis beautiful, Graeme!” “It be a brooch that each MacAulay lad receives when he turns six and ten. I want ye to have it.” Josephine carefully took it and studied it closely. Made of pewter, in the center of the brooch were two hands, one decidedly masculine, the other feminine. The masculine hand held the feminine hand in his palm. In the center of her palm was a tiny ruby. To one side, the circle had been engraved to look like stars twinkling near a crescent moon. On the other were the words aeterna devotione. Eternal devotion. Tears filled her eyes as she looked into his. “Ye want me to have this?” “Aye, I do, Joie,”he said as he placed a kiss on her forehead. “Me great-great-great grandfather presented a brooch just like this to his wife, me great-great-great grandmum. But no’until the first anniversary of their weddin’day. ’Twas a symbol of the great love they had found with one another. ’Tis tradition for the MacAulay men to only give their brooch to a woman who has stolen their heart, a woman they love and trust above all else.” Tears trailed down her cheeks, her heart beating so rapidly she was certain it would burst through her breastbone at any moment. “I do no’quite understand how it happened, or how it happened so quickly, Joie, but it has. Amorem in corde meo ut arctius coccino colloeandus arctius ideo astra,”Graeme said first in Latin and then again in Gaelic, “Toisc go bhfuil do ghrá eitseáilte isteach i mo chroí i corcairdhearg, mar sin tá sé eitseáilte amonst na réaltaí.”He placed a tender kiss on her cheek. “As yer love be etched into me heart in crimson, so it be etched amongst the stars,”he told her. “As me grandda said those words to me grandmum all those many years ago, I say them to ye.
Suzan Tisdale (Isle of the Blessed)
But the boy Jesus seeing what he had done, became angry, and said to him, Thou fool, what harm did the lake do thee, that thou shouldest scatter the water? 3 Behold, now thou shalt wither as a tree, and shalt not bring forth either leaves, or branches, or fruit. 4 And immediately he became withered all over. 5 Then Jesus went away home. But the parents of the boy who was withered, lamenting the misfortune of his youth, took and carried him to Joseph, accusing him, and said, Why dost thou keep a son who is guilty of such actions? 6 Then Jesus at the request of all who were present did heal him, leaving only some small member to continue withered, that they might take warning. 7 Another time Jesus went forth into the street, and a boy running by, rushed upon his shoulder; 8 At which Jesus being angry, said to him, Thou shalt go no farther; 9 And he instantly fell down dead: 10 Which when some persons saw, they said, Where was this boy born, that every thing which he says presently cometh to pass? 11 Then the parents of the dead boy going to Joseph, complained, saying, You are not fit to live with us, in our city, having such a boy as that: 12 Either teach him that he bless and not curse, or else depart hence with him, for he kills our children.
John Volz (Buried Books of the Bible)
Sad will be the retrospect in that day when men stand face to face with eternity. The whole life will present itself just as it has been. The world’s pleasures, riches, and honors will not then seem so important. Men will then see that the righteousness they despised is alone of value. They will see that they have fashioned their characters under the deceptive allurements of Satan. The garments they have chosen are the badge of their allegiance to the first great apostate. Then they will see the results of their choice. They will have a knowledge of what it means to transgress the commandments of God. There will be no second probation in which to prepare for eternity. It is in this life that we are to put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness. This is our only opportunity to form characters for the home which Christ has made ready for those who obey His commandments. The days of our probation are fast closing. The end is near. Solemnly there come down to us through the centuries the warning words of our Lord from the Mount of Olives: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” Beware lest it find you unready. Take heed lest you be found at the King’s feast without a wedding garment. “In such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.” “Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” -ST 11-22-05
Ellen G. White (Sabbath School Lesson Comments By Ellen G. White - 2nd Quarter 2015 (April, May, June 2015 Book 32))
But the more time has been released from production, the more imperative it has become to absorb that time in consumption and consumerism, given that, as was earlier argued, capitalist 'economic rationality has no room for authentically free time which neither produces nor consumes commercial wealth'. The ever-present danger is that freely associating and self-creating individuals, liberated from the chores of production and blessed with a whole range of labour-saving and time-saving technologies to aid their consumption, might start to build an alternative non-capitalistic world. They might become inclined to reject the dominant capitalist economic rationality, for example, and start evading its overwhelming but often cruel rules of time discipline. To avoid such eventualities, capital must not only find ways to absorb more and more goods and services through realisation but also somehow occupy the free time that the new technologies release.
David Harvey (Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism)
Worldly religion is that which replaces Faith with mere wishful thinking. One must not make the common mistake of putting his faith in all the things he thinks God ought to bless him with; he should instead keep his faith planted in God Himself. Present to Him his needs and wants like a child to his Father, but have faith only in His wisdom and goodness like a servant to his King. God must always be one's Everything before He is one's token to everything.
Criss Jami (Healology)
One Hundred Jurists Humbled It is well known that the lectures of al-Ghawth al-A’zam (r.a) attracted scores of scholars to Baghdad from all over the world. Once, a hundred Jurists formed a group and each one chose a difficult question. They all decided to present themselves in the gathering of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (r.a) and each would ask his question during the lecture in an attempt to cause Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (r.a) to be confused. The one hundred Jurists chose what they thought to be the most difficult question and travelled to Baghdad. They sat in the gathering of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (r.a) waiting for the appropriate time to ask their questions. It was during this gathering that a bright ray of light emerged from the blessed chest of al-Ghawth al-A'zam (r.a) and travelled into the heart of each of the one hundred Jurists. This light could only be seen by them and to those whom Almighty Allah desired to see. As this light entered their hearts, each one of them entered a state of spiritual ecstasy. Each one of them fell at the feet of al-Ghawth al-A'zam (r.a) and repented from their improper intentions. The great Saint, with great compassion, embraced each one of them, filling their hearts with Noor, and at the same time answering every one of their questions, even though they had not asked
Hazrat Shaykh Sayyid Abdul Kadir Jilani
You know the experience of looking back in your life, and suddenly seeing a scene in which now you know you behaved selfishly from ego, and that you were manipulative or cunning or hurtful? Or you recognize, “My God, I was really in judgment of that person. Oh, if only I could go back and undo it.” Know you that feeling? I say unto you, you can, because everything is present. There is no such thing as past and future, there is only now. So when you have that thought or that memory, it is coming to you for a very specific reason. As a soul, you are learning about forgiveness and how to undo the effects of your previous choices. And so it is being presented to you, yet again, that you might make a new choice. When that old memory comes, stay with it. Look at it. Recognize how judgment worked at that time. And then say to that person or that event: I judge you not. I extend forgiveness to myself for what I have created. I embrace you, and I love you. I free you to be yourself. I bless you with the blessing of Christ.
Shanti Christo Foundation (The Way of Mastery ~ Part One: The Way of the Heart (The Way of Mastery))
JANUARY 26 Praying for the Persecutor “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” MATTHEW 5:43–45 NIV “I can’t believe she threw me under the bus that way,” Sherri told a friend at work. “My boss stood up in the meeting with the president and senior leadership and told everyone how I had botched the budget presentation.” The truth was Sherri had done everything correctly. She had every right to hate her boss at that moment. Instead, she prayed for her. What allowed her to pray for her boss was a love that was inhumanly possible. What situations have you been in where it would have been much easier (and perhaps more fulfilling) to lash out against someone who had wronged you? At those moments, we should ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with love so we can pray blessings over those who hate us. That is the love of Christ—to love each person, not because of her actions but because of her humanity. Loving Father, please help me to pray for those who wrong me. Please fill me with Your agape love, so I can look past my personal hurt and ask for blessings. Only in this way can I truly exemplify the love You have for people. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Anonymous (Daily Wisdom for Women - January 2014: 2014 Devotional Collection)
The Lord enjoins us to do good to all without exception, though the greater part, if estimated by their own merit, are most unworthy of it. But Scripture subjoins a most excellent reason, when it tells us that we are not to look to what men in themselves deserve, but to attend to the image of God, which exists in all, and to which we owe all honor and love. But in those who are of the household of faith, the same rule is to be more carefully observed, inasmuch as that image is renewed and restored in them by the Spirit of Christ. Therefore, whoever be the man that is presented to you as needing your assistance, you have no ground for declining to give it to him. Say he is a stranger. The Lord has given him a mark which ought to be familiar to you: for which reason he forbids you to despise your own flesh (Gal. 6:10). Say he is mean and of no consideration. The Lord points him out as one whom he has distinguished by the luster of his own image (Isaiah 58:7). Say that you are bound to him by no ties of duty. The Lord has substituted him as it were into his own place, that in him you may recognize the many great obligations under which the Lord has laid you to himself. Say that he is unworthy of your least exertion on his account; but the image of God, by which he is recommended to you, is worthy of yourself and all your exertions. But if he not only merits no good, but has provoked you by injury and mischief, still this is no good reason why you should not embrace him in love, and visit him with offices of love. He has deserved very differently from me, you will say. But what has the Lord deserved? Whatever injury he has done you, when he enjoins you to forgive him, he certainly means that it should be imputed to himself. In this way only we attain to what is not to say difficult but altogether against nature, to love those that hate us, render good for evil, and blessing for cursing, remembering that we are not to reflect on the wickedness of men, but look to the image of God in them, an image which, covering and obliterating their faults, should by its beauty and dignity allure us to love and embrace them.
John Calvin (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 Vols)
IF THIS CONCLUSION had signaled the end of Arendt’s thinking on the subject, American readers of On Revolution could close the book basking in a feeling of self-satisfaction, offering a hymn of praise to their country’s exceptionalism, singing a chorus of “God Bless America” and retiring to their beds secure in the conviction that theirs was a nation unlike all others. But this was not the German-Jewish immigrant’s complex understanding of the United States, where gratitude was inevitably tempered by ambivalence and pessimism. Arendt was not one to close on so optimistic a note. The book’s last chapter, bringing the narrative up to the present, takes a sharp turn toward the ominous. It exhibits what one commentator calls a “particularly bleak and embattled tone.” It is a bucket of cold water thrown on the warm glow of the earlier exuberance. Political freedom, Arendt insisted in the book’s final pages, “means the right ‘to be a participator in government,’ or it means nothing.” The colonial townships and assemblies, building pyramidally to the constitutional conventions, were paradigms of citizen participation, but the popular elections that Americans today consider the hallmark of their democratic republic are hardly the same thing. Voting is not what Arendt meant by participation. The individual in the privacy of the voting booth is not engaged with others in the public arena, putting one’s opinions to the test against differing views and life experiences, but instead is choosing among professional politicians offering to promote and protect his or her personal interests through ready-made formulas, mindless banalities, blatant pandering, and outlandish promises cobbled together as party programs. (And heaven help the elected official who, in the manner of Edmund Burke, tries to argue against the personal interest of his or her constituents or to communicate bad news.) Leaders are selected on the basis of private, parochial concerns, not the public welfare, producing a mishmash of self-interested demands, or what Arendt called “the invasion of the public realm by society.” This was almost the opposite of genuine participation. Instead of the kind of intimate interchange of views and the deliberation that might be expected to resolve conflict, which was the practice of the townships and assemblies, isolated voters left to their own devices and with no appreciation of any larger good or of people different from themselves demand an affirmation of their particular prejudices and preconceptions. They have no opportunity, or desire, to come together with the aim of reaching mutual understanding and agreement on shared problems. Centrifugality prevails. American democracy, Arendt writes, had become a zero-sum game of “pressure groups, lobbies and other devices.” It is a system in which only power can prevail, or at best the blight of mutual backscratching to no greater end than mere political survival, lending itself to lies and demagoguery, quarrels and stalemates, cynical deal-making, not public exchange and calm deliberation.
Barry Gewen (The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World)
On the other hand, the professors should openly and expressly show those who lead a godly life, even if they are behind the others in their studies, how dear they are to their teachers and how very much they are to be preferred to the others. In fact, these students ought to be the first, or the only, ones to be promoted. The others ought to be excluded from all hope of promotion until they change their manner of life completely. This is the way it ought in all fairness to be. It is certain that a young man who fervently loves God, although adorned with limited gifts, will be more useful to the church of God with his meager talent and academic achievement than a vain and worldly fool with double doctor’s degrees who is very clever but has not been taught by God. The work of the former is blessed, and he is aided by the Holy Spirit. The latter has only a carnal knowledge, with which he can easily do more harm than good.
William C. Placher (Readings in the History of Christian Theology, Volume 2, Revised Edition: From the Reformation to the Present)
TRUST ME AND REFUSE TO WORRY, for I am your Strength and Song. You are feeling wobbly this morning, looking at difficult times looming ahead, measuring them against your own strength. However, they are not today’s tasks—or even tomorrow’s. So leave them in the future and come home to the present, where you will find Me waiting for you. Since I am your Strength, I can empower you to handle each task as it comes. Because I am your Song, I can give you Joy as you work alongside Me. Keep bringing your mind back to the present moment. Among all My creatures, only humans can anticipate future events. This ability is a blessing, but it becomes a curse whenever it is misused. If you use your magnificent mind to worry about tomorrow, you cloak yourself in dark unbelief. However, when the hope of heaven fills your thoughts, the Light of My Presence envelops you. Though heaven is future, it is also present tense. As you walk in the Light with Me, you have one foot on earth and one foot in heaven.
Sarah Young (Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence)
Have you ever stopped to think what you might like to do if you didn’t work at the job you presently have?” His eyes brightened. “Sure,” he said. But then his shoulders slumped and the light went out of his eyes. “But that’s only a daydream. Maybe I’ll get to do that in another ten years when I retire.” I felt sorry for this man as I watched him leave. To think of awaking each morning and going through the motions of a job only for the money seems like sheer drudgery. Such a job is a burden, not a blessing.And the greater the burden associated with any responsibility, the greater the tension, frustration, and anxiety. Furthermore, there’s plenty of opportunity for regret to settle in. If this man doesn’t begin to pursue the God-given dreams that reside deep in his heart, he’s going to find himself saying in the future, “I regret I spent my life doing what I did. I wish I had taken a different path.” He
Charles F. Stanley (Finding Peace: God's Promise of a Life Free from Regret, Anxiety, and Fear)
That there was an actual giving of His own strength to the afflicted whom He healed is evident from the present instance. Passive belief on the part of a would-be recipient of blessing is insufficient; only when it is vitalized into active faith is it a power; so also of one who ministers in the authority given of God, mental and spiritual energy must be operative if the service is to be effective.
James E. Talmage (JESUS THE CHRIST [Illustrated])
What makes people good communicators is, in essence, an ability not to be fazed by the more problematic or offbeat aspects of their own characters. They can contemplate their anger, their sexuality and their unpopular, awkward or unfashionable opinions without losing confidence or collapsing into self-disgust. They can speak clearly because they have managed to develop a priceless sense of their own acceptability. They like themselves well enough to believe that they are worthy of and can win the goodwill of others, if only they have the wherewithal to present themselves with the right degree of patience and imagination. As children, these good communicatiors must have been blessed with caregivers who knew to love their charges without demanding that every last thing about them be agreeable and perfect. Such parents would have been able to live with the idea that their offsping might sometimes - for a while, at least - be odd, violent, angry, mean, peculiar or sad, and yet still deserve a place within the circle of familial love. The parents would thus have created an invaluable wellspring of courage from which those children would eventually be able to draw to sustain the confessions and direct conversations of adult life.
Alain de Botton (The Course of Love)
The heart is the center of the human microcosm, at once the center of the physical body, the vital energies, the emotions, and the soul, as well as the meeting place between the human and the celestial realms where the spirit resides. How remarkable is this reality of the heart, that mysterious center which from the point of view of our earthly existence seems so small, and yet as the Prophet has said it is the Throne (al-‘arsh) of God the All-Merciful (ar-Rahmân), the Throne that encompasses the whole universe. Or as he uttered in another saying, “My Heaven containeth Me not, nor My Earth, but the heart of My faithful servant doth contain Me.” It is the heart, the realm of interiority, to which Christ referred when he said, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Lk 17:21), and it is the heart which the founders of all religions and the sacred scriptures advise man to keep pure as a condition for his salvation and deliverance. We need only recall the words of the Gospel, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8) […] In Christianity the Desert Fathers articulated the spiritual, mystical, and symbolic meanings of the reality of the heart, and these teachings led to a long tradition in the Eastern Orthodox Church known as Hesychasm, culminating with St Gregory Palamas, which is focused on the “prayer of the heart” and which includes the exposition of the significance of the heart and the elaboration of the mysticism and theology of the heart. In Catholicism another development took place, in which the heart of the faithful became in a sense replaced by the heart of Christ, and a new spirituality developed on the basis of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Reference to His bleeding heart became common in the writings of such figures as St Bernard of Clairvaux and St Catherine of Sienna. The Christian doctrines of the heart, based as they are on the Bible, present certain universal theses to be seen also in Judaism, the most important of which is the association of the heart with the inner soul of man and the center of the human state. In Jewish mysticism the spirituality of the heart was further developed, and some Jewish mystics emphasized the idea of the “broken or contrite heart” (levnichbar) and wrote that to reach the Divine Majesty one had to “tear one’s heart” and that the “broken heart” mentioned in the Psalms sufficed. To make clear the universality of the spiritual significance of the heart across religious boundaries, while also emphasizing the development of the “theology of the heart” and methods of “prayer of the heart” particular to each tradition, one may recall that the name of Horus, the Egyptian god, meant the “heart of the world”. In Sanskrit the term for heart, hridaya, means also the center of the world, since, by virtue of the analogy between the macrocosm and the microcosm, the center of man is also the center of the universe. Furthermore, in Sanskrit the term shraddha, meaning faith, also signifies knowledge of the heart, and the same is true in Arabic, where the word îmân means faith when used for man and knowledge when used for God, as in the Divine Name al-Mu’min. As for the Far Eastern tradition, in Chinese the term xin means both heart and mind or consciousness. – Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Chapter 3: The Heart of the Faithful is the Throne of the All-Merciful)
James S. Cutsinger (Paths to the Heart: Sufism and the Christian East)
The heart is the center of the human microcosm, at once the center of the physical body, the vital energies, the emotions, and the soul, as well as the meeting place between the human and the celestial realms where the spirit resides. How remarkable is this reality of the heart, that mysterious center which from the point of view of our earthly existence seems so small, and yet as the Prophet has said it is the Throne (al-‘arsh) of God the All-Merciful (ar-Rahmân), the Throne that encompasses the whole universe. Or as he uttered in another saying, “My Heaven containeth Me not, nor My Earth, but the heart of My faithful servant doth contain Me.” It is the heart, the realm of interiority, to which Christ referred when he said, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Lk 17:21), and it is the heart which the founders of all religions and the sacred scriptures advise man to keep pure as a condition for his salvation and deliverance. We need only recall the words of the Gospel, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8) […] In Christianity the Desert Fathers articulated the spiritual, mystical, and symbolic meanings of the reality of the heart, and these teachings led to a long tradition in the Eastern Orthodox Church known as Hesychasm, culminating with St Gregory Palamas, which is focused on the “prayer of the heart” and which includes the exposition of the significance of the heart and the elaboration of the mysticism and theology of the heart. In Catholicism another development took place, in which the heart of the faithful became in a sense replaced by the heart of Christ, and a new spirituality developed on the basis of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Reference to His bleeding heart became common in the writings of such figures as St Bernard of Clairvaux and St Catherine of Sienna. The Christian doctrines of the heart, based as they are on the Bible, present certain universal theses to be seen also in Judaism, the most important of which is the association of the heart with the inner soul of man and the center of the human state. In Jewish mysticism the spirituality of the heart was further developed, and some Jewish mystics emphasized the idea of the “broken or contrite heart” (levnichbar) and wrote that to reach the Divine Majesty one had to “tear one’s heart” and that the “broken heart” mentioned in the Psalms sufficed. To make clear the universality of the spiritual significance of the heart across religious boundaries, while also emphasizing the development of the “theology of the heart” and methods of “prayer of the heart” particular to each tradition, one may recall that the name of Horus, the Egyptian god, meant the “heart of the world”. In Sanskrit the term for heart, hridaya, means also the center of the world, since, by virtue of the analogy between the macrocosm and the microcosm, the center of man is also the center of the universe. Furthermore, in Sanskrit the term shraddha, meaning faith, also signifies knowledge of the heart, and the same is true in Arabic, where the word îmân means faith when used for man and knowledge when used for God, as in the Divine Name al-Mu’min. As for the Far Eastern tradition, in Chinese the term xin means both heart and mind or consciousness. – Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Chapter 3: The Heart of the Faithful is the Throne of the All-Merciful)
James S. Cutsinger (Paths to the Heart: Sufism and the Christian East)
Once we see the world for what it is, we see that it is nothing but dhikr Allâh—a reminder of God, a mention of God, a remembrance of God. Our response to the world can only be to follow its lead—to mention and to remember God. “Everything is accursed,” says the hadîth, “except dhikr Allâh.” But everything is dhikr Allâh, so nothing is accursed. The alchemy of dhikr transmutes the accursed into the blessed. The place of that dhikr, where God becomes truly present and man becomes truly blessed, is the heart. – William C. Chittick (On the Cosmology of Dhikr, p. 63)
James S. Cutsinger (Paths to the Heart: Sufism and the Christian East)