Thoughts and Observations of a Minister

Take a look around, make yourself at home.
You will find some of my favorite things, and some of my innermost thoughts.

Poems, quotes, music, preaching, and a few funny things.
Take your time, add your comments, and come back as often as you like.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pope St. Leo I (AD 390-461) Delivered on Easter,

I. We Must All Be Partakers in Christ's Resurrection LifeIn my last sermon, dearly-beloved, not in- appropriately, as I think, we explained to you our participation in the cross of Christ, whereby the life of believers contains in itself the mystery of Easter, and thus what is honoured at the feast is celebrated by our practice. And how useful this is you yourselves have proved, and by your devotion have learnt, how greatly benefited souls and bodies are by longer fasts, more frequent prayers, and more liberal alms. For there can be hardly any one who has not profited by this exercise, and who has not stored up in the recesses of his conscience something over which he may rightly rejoice. But these advantages must be retained with persistent care, lest our efforts fall away into idleness, and the devil's malice steal what God's grace gave. Since, therefore, by our forty days' observance we have wished to bring about this effect, that we should feel something of the Cross at the time of the Lord's Passion, we must strive to be found partakers also of Christ's Resurrection, and "pass from death unto life," while we are in this body. For when a man is changed by some process from one thing into another, not to be what he was is to him an ending, and to be what he was not is a beginning. But the question is, to what a man either dies or lives: because there is a death, which is the cause of living, and there is a life, which is the cause of dying. And nowhere else but in this transitory world are both sought after, so that upon the character of our temporal actions depend the differences of the eternal retributions. We must die, therefore, to the devil and live to God: we must perish to iniquity that we may rise to righteousness. Let the old sink, that the new may rise; and since, as says the Truth, "no one can serve two masters," let not him be Lord who has caused the overthrow of those that stood, but Him Who has raised the fallen to victory.
II. God Did Not Leave His Soul in Hell, Nor Suffer His Flesh to See CorruptionAccordingly, since the Apostle says, "the first man is of the earth earthy, the second man is from heaven heavenly. As is the earthy, such also are they that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such also are they that are heavenly. As we have borne the image of the earthy, so let us also bear the image of Him Who is from heaven," we must greatly rejoice over this change, whereby we are translated from earthly degradation to heavenly dignity through His unspeakable mercy, Who descended into our estate that He might promote us to His, by assuming not only the substance but also the conditions of sinful nature, and by allowing the impossibility of Godhead to be affected by all the miseries which are the lot of mortal manhood. And hence that the disturbed minds of the disciples might not be racked by prolonged grief, He with such wondrous speed shortened the three days' delay which He had announced, that by joining the last part of the first and the first part of the third day to the whole of the second, He cut off a considerable portion of the period, and yet did not lessen the number of days. The Saviour's Resurrection therefore did not long keep His soul in Hades, nor His flesh in the tomb; and so speedy was the quickening of His uncorrupted flesh that it bore a closer resemblance to slumber than to death, seeing that the Godhead, Which quitted not either part of the Human Nature which He had assumed, reunited by Its power that which Its power had separated.
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III. Christ's Manifestation After the Resurrection Showed that His Person Was Essentially the Same as BeforeAnd then there followed many proofs, whereon the authority of the Faith to be preached through the whole world might be based. And although the rolling away of the stone, the empty tomb, the arrangement of the linen cloths, and the angels who narrated the whole deed by themselves fully built up the truth of the Lord's Resurrection, yet did He often appear plainly to the eyes both of the women and of the Apostles not only talking with them, but also remaining and eating with them, and allowing Himself to be handled by the eager and curious hands of those whom doubt assailed. For to this end He entered when the doors were closed upon the disciples, and gave them the Holy Spirit by breathing on them, and after giving them the light of understanding opened the secrets of the Holy Scriptures, and again Himself showed them the wound in the side, the prints of the nails, and all the marks of His most recent Passion, whereby it might be acknowledged that in Him the properties of the Divine and Human Nature remained undivided, and we might in such sort know that the Word was not what the flesh is, as to confess God's only Son to be both Word and Flesh.
IV. But Though It is the Same, It is Also GlorifiedThe Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, dearly. beloved, does not disagree with this belief, when he says, "even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him so no more." For the Lord's Resurrection was not the ending, but the changing of the flesh, and His substance was not destroyed by His increase of power. The quality altered, but the nature did not cease to exist: the body was made impassible, which it had been possible to crucify: it was made incorruptible, though it had been possible to wound it. And properly is Christ's flesh said not to be known in that state in which it had been known, because nothing remained passible in it, nothing weak, so that it was both the same in essence and not the same in glory. But what wonder if S. Paul maintains this about Christ's body, when he says of all spiritual Christians "wherefore henceforth we know no one after the flesh." Henceforth, he says, we begin to experience the resurrection in Christ, since the time when in Him, Who died for all, all our hopes were guaranteed to us. We do not hesitate in diffidence, we are not under the suspense of uncertainty, but having received an earnest of the promise, we now with the eye of faith see the things which will be, and rejoicing in the uplifting of our nature, we already possess what we believe.
V. Being Saved by Hope, We Must Not Fulfil the Lasts of the FleshLet us not then be taken up with the appearances of temporal matters, neither let our contemplations be diverted from heavenly to earthly things. Things which as yet have for the most part not come to pass must be reckoned as accomplished: and the mind intent on what is permanent must fix its desires there, where what is offered is eternal. For although "by hope we were saved," and still bear about with us a flesh that is corruptible and mortal, yet we are rightly said not to be in the flesh, if the fleshly affections do not dominate us, and are justified in ceasing to be named after that, the will of which we do not follow. And so, when the Apostle says, "make not provision for the flesh in the lusts thereof," we understand that those things are not forbidden us, which conduce to health and which human weakness demands, but because we may not satisfy all our desires nor indulge in all that the flesh lusts after, we recognize that we are warned to exercise such self-restraint as not to permit what is excessive nor refuse what is necessary to the flesh, which is placed under the mind's control. And hence the same Apostle says in another place, "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it;" in so far, of course, as it must be nourished and cherished not in vices and luxury, but with a view to its proper functions, so that nature may recover herself and maintain due order, the lower parts not prevailing wrongfully and debasingly over the higher, nor the higher yielding to the lower, lest if vices overpower the mind, slavery ensues where there should be supremacy.
VI. Our Godly Resolutions Must Continue All the Year Round, Not Be Confined to Easier OnlyLet God's people then recognize that they are a new creation in Christ, and with all vigilance understand by Whom they have been adopted and Whom they have adopted. Let not the things, which have been made new, return to their ancient instability; and let not him who has "put his hand to the plough" forsake his work, but rather attend to that which he sows than look back to that which he has left behind. Let no one fall back into that from which he has risen, but, even though from bodily weakness he still languishes under certain maladies, let him urgently desire to be healed and raised up. For this is the path of health through imitation of the Resurrection begun in Christ, whereby, notwithstanding the many accidents and falls to which in this slippery life the traveler is liable, his feet may be guided from the quagmire on to solid ground, for, as it is written, "the steps of a man are directed by the Lord, and He will delight in his way. When the just man falls he shall not be overthrown, because the Lord will stretch out His hand." These thoughts, dearly-beloved, must be kept in mind not only for the Easter festival, but also for the sanctification of the whole life, and to this our present exercise ought to be directed, that what has delighted the souls of the faithful by the experience of a short observance may pass into a habit and remain unalterably, and if any fault creep in, it may be destroyed by speedy repentance. And because the cure of old-standing diseases is slow and difficult, remedies should be applied early, when the wounds are fresh, so that rising ever anew from all downfalls, we may deserve to attain to the incorruptible Resurrection of our glorified flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord, Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Ghost for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Seven Words of Christ on the Cross

First Word: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing": Lk.23:34. - Second Word: "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise": Lk.23:43. -
Third Word: "Jesus said to his mother: "Woman, this is your son". Then he said to the disciple: "this is your mother": Jn.19:26-27. -
Fourth Word: "And about 3 o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice: "Eli, Eli, lema sabackthani?" which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?": Mt.27:46, Mk.15:34. -
Fifth Word: "I thirst": Jn.19:28. -
Sixth Word: "It is finished", "it is accomplished": Jn.19:30. -
Seventh Word: "Jesus, cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit": Lk.23:46.

Presidential Passports

I know that passport information is considered private.
I also believe if a person is running for the presidency of the united states,
their travel outside of this country should be a open book.
Anyone running for president, should open their passport records and make them public.
Why would they want their overseas travels hidden.
To me that is a scary thought.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Jesus hands

There was once a cowboy who listened attentively to the story of the first Palm Sunday. After hearing it, . . . he had only one small response to make to the story. In his own straight forward way, . . . the cowboy simply stated, . . . Jesus must have had wonderful hands. But his words only confused the others around him. Out of curiously they asked, . . . What do you mean by that statement? Well, the cowboy replied, . . . if Jesus could sit on a colt . . . on which no person ever sat, . . . an untried, . . . unbroken animal; . . . if he could soothe it . . . and control it . . . and guide it . . . while people were shrieking hosannas in its ears, . . . waving the branches of palm trees in front of its eyes, . . . and throwing down clothes in front of its feet, . . . Jesus must have had wonderful hands!
Those hand reached out to people from every walk of life. Those hands touched the sick and dying, raised the dead, feed a hungry throng of people. Those hand of Jesus calmed the wind, were folded in prayer as he prayed to the father for the strength to carry on his mission. Those hands of Christ are hands that now reach across the span of time and touches our lives through his Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rescue Station At the Gates of Hell: C.T. Studd 1860-1930

C.T. Studd gave up fame and fortune to follow Jesus to the unreached peoples of China and later aftica. These quotes are taken from several of his sermons.
"We shall go crusading for Christ. We have the men, the means, and the ways-steam and electricity and iron have leveled the lands and bridged the seas. The doors of the world have opened wide for us by our God. We pray and preach; we bow the knee; we receive; we administer the Holy Communion of the Passion of Christ; we recite the Creed triumphantly; we are optimists everyone; we shout 'Onward Christian soldiers, marching on to war,' and then? . . . and then? . . . we whisper, 'I pray Thee have me excused!!!' What glorious humbugs we are!'
"'Follow Me,' says Jesus. 'I will,' we reply, yet somehow forget that Christ pleased not Himself, deliberately made Himself poor to save others and became the first foreign missionary. We all pray to be like Jesus, yet refuse to pay the price."
"Five hundred millions of heathen have not yet been evangelized, so it is computed! Yet our great Missionary Societies have reached high water-mark, and if they have not already begun to retrench, are seriously thinking of doing so. Meanwhile, the heart of Asia, the heart of Africa, and well nigh the whole continent of South America, are untouched with the Gospel of Christ.
Last June at the mouth of the Congo, there awaited a thousand prospectors, traders, merchants and gold seekers, waiting to rush into these regions as soon as the government opened the door to them, for rumor declared that there is an abundance of gold. If such men hear so loudly the call of gold and obey it, can it be that the ears of Christ's soldiers are deaf to the call of God, and the cries of the dying souls of men? Are gamblers for gold so many, and gamblers for God so few?
'My Montenegrins,' said King Nicholas, 'will henceforth spill their blood for their persecuted compatriots.' When shall God be able to say to the devil, 'Hast thou seen My Christians of today? No longer do they seek for gold or pleasure, for honors or ease. From henceforth My Christians will spill their blood for the love and cause of My beloved Son and the salvation of the neediest of men."
"There are more than twice as many Christian 'officers' at home among peaceful Britain's 40 million evangelized inhabitants, than the whole number of Christ's forces fighting at the front among 1,200 million heathen! And yet such call themselves soldiers of Christ."
"Yes, when? When indeed shall we see a real 'Church Militant here upon the earth?' "Christ's call is to feed the hungry, not the full; to save the lost, not the stiff-necked; not to call the scoffers, but sinners to repentance; not to build and furnish comfortable chapels, churches, and cathedrals at home in which to rock Christian professors to sleep by means of clever essays, stereotyped prayers and artistic musical performances, but to raise living churches of souls among the destitute, to capture men from the devil's clutches and snatch them from the very jaws of hell, to enlist and train them for Jesus, and make them into an Almighty Army of God.
But this can only be accomplished by a red-hot, unconventional, unfettered Holy Ghost religion, where neither Church nor State, neither man nor traditions are worshipped or preached, but only Christ and Him crucified. Not to confess Christ by fancy collars, church steeples or rich embroidered altar-cloths, but by reckless sacrifice and heroism in the foremost trenches...
I am more than ever determined that no ring or limit shall be placed around us, other than that of our Lord Himself, 'To the uttermost parts,' 'To every creature.' I belong and will ever belong to 'The Great God' party. I will have nought to do with 'The Little God' party...
Nail the colors to the mast! That is the right thing to do, and, therefore, that is what we must do, and do it now. What colors? The colors of Christ, the work He has given us to do-the evangelization of all the unevangelized. Christ wants not nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible, by faith in the omnipotence, fidelity and wisdom of the Almighty Savior Who gave the command. Is there a wall in our path? By our God we will leap over it! Are there lions and scorpions in our way! We will trample them under our feet! Does a mountain bar our progress? Saying, 'Be thou removed and cast into the sea,' we will march on. Soldiers of Jesus! Never surrender! Nail the colors to the mast!"
"The difficulty is to believe that He can deign to use such scallywags as us, but of course He wants Faith and Fools rather than talents and culture. All God wants is a heart, any old turnip will do for a head; so long as we are empty, all is well, for then He fills with the Holy Ghost. The fiery baptism of the Holy Ghost will change soft, sleek Christians into hot, lively heroes for Christ, who will advance and fight and die, but not mark time.
"Believing that further delay would be sinful, some of God's insignificants and nobodies in particular, but trusting in our Omnipotent God, have decided on certain simple lines, according to the Book of God, to make a definite attempt to render the evangelization of the world an accomplished fact. For this purpose we have banded ourselves together under the name of 'Christ's Etceteras,' and invite others of God's people to join us in this glorious enterprise.
We are merely Christ's nobodies, otherwise Christ's Etceteras. We rejoice in and thank God for the good work being carried on in the already occupied lands by God's Regular Forces. We seek to attack and win to Christ only those parts of the devil's empire which are beyond the extremest outposts of the regular army of God . . . Our method is to search and find out what parts of the world at present remain unevangelized, and then by faith in Christ, by prayer to God, by obedience to the Holy Ghost, by courage, determination, and supreme sacrifice, to accomplish their evangelization with the utmost despatch.
Too long have we been waiting for one another to begin! The time for waiting is past! The hour of God has struck! War is declared! In God's Holy Name let us arise and build! 'The God of Heaven, He will fight for us,' as we for Him. We will not build on the sand, but on the bedrock of the sayings of Christ, and the gates and minions of hell shall not prevail against us. Should such men as we fear?
Before the whole world, aye, before the sleepy, lukewarm, faithless, namby-pamby Christian world, we will dare to trust our God; we will venture our all for Him; we will live, and we will die for Him, and we will do it with His joy unspeakable singing aloud in our hearts. We will a thousand times sooner die trusting only in our God, than live trusting in man. And when we come to this position, the battle is already won, and the end of the glorious campaign in sight. We will have the real Holiness of God, not the sickly stuff of talk and dainty words and pretty thoughts; we will have a Masculine Holiness, one of daring faith and works for Jesus Christ."
C.T. Studd was a wealthy and famous Criket player in London. He gave up his fame and fortune to follow Jesus to the unreached peoples of the interiors of China and Africa. In 1885, he led the Cambridge Seven to China. Ten years later, he was instrumental in the start of the Student Volunteer Movement which thrust hundreds of university students into the harvest fields. Then, at the age of fifty, he initiated a campaign to reach the largest unevangelized region of Africa at that time. C.T. embodied the heroic spirit, the apostolic ambition, of which this generation is in need.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Law & Grace

Dr. Ironside's favorite illustrations of law and grace: It is the story of the young Indian lad who had never been off the Navajo reservation until Dr. Ironside brought him to Oakland. He had been a Christian only about two years. When he came to Oakland, he was taken into a group of Christian young people one Sunday night when they were discussing law and grace. He listened to them as they argued back and forth about the various aspects, and then the leader called on him to say a few words. He said something like this:
"Me been listening to you talk about law and grace, and the longer me listen, the more me think you don't know what law or grace is."
He said,
"Let me tell you what I think: When Mr. Ironside ask me to go to Oakland with him, we get on a big train down in reservation. I never been on a train before, and we ride and ride and ride all day long, and, finally, we come to Barstow out in desert."
And he said,
"Me very tired so me get off train to walk platform and stretch legs. While me walk around platform, me see sign that say, 'Do Not Spit Here.' Me look at sign, and me think, 'what strange sign white man put up -- Do Not Spit Here.'"
And then he said,
"While me look at sign, before I know what happen, me spit! I look all around platform and I see many people spit here. I think to myself, 'How Strange.' Sign say, 'Do Not Spit Here' but many people spit, and I spit."
And then he said,
"We got on train again and come long way, up to Oakland, and some friends meet us at train, and take us to beautiful home. I never been in such home. Mr. Ironside take me in and show me soft chair and excuse himself for awhile, and I left alone in room. I look around and everything is so nice -- soft, thick rug on floor, beautiful walls painted lovely color, pictures hanging on walls -- everything so nice. I walk around room and I think to myself about something, and I look all around room and all over the wall, and I try to find sign that say 'Do Not Spit Here,' but I cannot find sign. I think to myself, 'Too bad all this lovely room going to be ruined by people spitting on floor.' Then I look around on floor, and see nobody been spitting there -- and then it come to me: When the law say, 'Do Not Spit Here' it makes me want to spit, and I spit, and many people spit. But when I come into grace, and everything lovely and nice, I don't want to spit, and I do not need law to say, 'Do Not Spit Here.'"