Inspiring Verse

I wonder if this verse was Mr Guest’s answer to Rudyard Kipling’s famous verse, IF? Read IF here.

DUTY

by Edgar Guest

To do your little bit of toil,
to play life’s game with head erect;
to stoop to nothing that would soil
your honor or your self-respect;
to win what gold and fame you can,
but first of all to be a man.

To know the bitter and the sweet,
the sunshine and the days of rain;
to meet both victory and defeat,
nor boast too loudly nor complain;
to face whatever fates befall
and be a man throughout it all.

To seek success in honest strife
but not to value it so much
that, winning it, you go through life
stained by dishonor’s scarlet touch.
What goal or dream you choose, pursue,
but be a man whatever you do!

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

Faith is a Choice

Musings on Easter Morning

This time we call EASTER, or PASQUE (Peace) in Latin countries, and in particular this day, is the main event Christianity hinges on: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Most anyone will say Jesus was a wonderful example by the way He lived, by the things He taught. Philosophers and holy men of all kinds, even atheists quote his words and cite his examples. His death was cruel and needless, the outcome of putrid jealousy. But it’s his rising from the grave that has become the cornerstone of Christianity. This belief/fact has changed the course of our world. Two thousand years later people are still talking about God’s plan and believing it.

I just listened to a church group singing the song,
“Have you found rest and peace within, rolled far away your load of sin?
Stepped from the old life to the new? Tell what the Lord has done for you.”

(From a poem by Lizzie DiArmond)
This is not ancient history. New life through Jesus is a constantly current thing. Today the Lord gives peace and rest within, or so believers claim.

I ponder the questions: Why did God enact such an odd plan to redeem man? Why does man need to be “saved”? Why did Jesus have to die as a sacrifice? Why must a price be paid? Why doesn’t God just take everyone to heaven – or at least the basically good people? “Grading on the curve,” some wise soul has called it. As a human being I’m okay with a few faults.

Why did the divine Creator and Father come up with a scheme human minds can barely grasp, a story people are constantly stumbling over? He could have chosen a simpler way than faith in Jesus? He could just appear to each one of us and set us straight. “Here I am; believe me or else.” As a human being I respect force. A little jolt from above when we say or do the wrong thing might make it easier to know and obey his wishes.

Yet the Eternal, all-wise God says people shall have a free choice; He won’t force us to believe him. He allows that, as we go through life, we’ll get enough prompts that we can each decide to believe or reject his plan. Jesus says, “Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find.” The choice is ours to seek, to ask, to believe, to reject.

I came across the following old poem by Dora Greenwell (1821-1882) that expresses my musings quite well:

I AM NOT SKILLED TO UNDERSTAND

I am not skilled to understand
what God hath willed, what God hath planned;
I only know at His right hand
stands One who is my Saviour.

I take Him at his word indeed:
“Christ died for sinners,” this I read
and in my heart I find a need
of Him to be my Saviour.

And was there then no other way
for God to take? I cannot say;
I only bless Him, day by day,
who saved me through my Saviour.

Yes, living, dying, let me bring
my strength, my solace from this spring:
that He who lives to be my King
once died to be my Saviour.

Who’s Calling?

It was one of those intriguing calls. Do you ever get them?

One morning when we were living in Ontario the phone rang and I answered. “Hello?”

Hello. Guess who-o-o.”

The voice sounded familiar, though my friends don’t usually play guessing games. “Is this Dee?”

“No…”

“Anne?”

“No…”

I was stumped.

“This is the girl that gave your that terrific hairdo.”

I racked my brain. I wear my hair simple; it had been many a year– if ever – since anyone gave me a terrific hairdo. She must have known me in my teens. Was this one of my sisters calling me from the prairies? “Donna? Rose?”

“No.” Frustrated now, the caller abandoned her game. “This is Pat.”

“Pat who?”

My caller paused, then asked, “Isn’t this Sherrie?”

“No, I’m Christine.”

“Oh, I guess I must have the wrong number. Sorry.” She hung up.

Whoever she was, she gave me a surprise and later a story to tell. 🙂 I’m not sure if the same thing happens in these days of answering machines and Call Display, but I dialed wrong numbers myself.

A few years back, after an hour of shopping, I called my husband from the store. When he answered, sounding a bit gruff, I said, “I’m done. You can come and pick me up now.”

There was a pause at the end of the line and a man answered, “Okay. Uh… Who is this?”

BLUSH!

This morning I read the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. Many church-going children know this story well, and sing about how “Zacchaeus was a wee little man…who climbed up into a sycamore tree, for he wanted the Lord to see.”

He’d heard that Jesus was coming to his town and wanted to see him. Being a short man behind a large crowd, he did the sensible thing and climbed a tree. When Jesus came past that tree, he stopped, looked up and called to him.“Zacchaeus, come down. Today I must stay at your house.”

No wrong number. No “Who are you?” Jesus knew exactly who Zacchaeus was – and what he was: a rich tax collector, despised by his fellow citizens. In fact, when they heard what Jesus was saying to Zacchaeus, people who would have welcomed Jesus into their own homes grumbled that he’d chosen to be the guest of “a man that is a sinner.”

But Jesus explains that, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” It’s evident from this account he knows exactly who they are and where to look for them.

Aspirations

While I sip on my chicken noodle soup and hope to BE well again, I’ll dig into my DropBox and find a snippet. I found this clipping among my mother-in-law’s saved scraps when we brought her to live with us and I think these are worthwhile goals to strive for. No name attached, so if you know the origin, please let me know.

BE…

Be understanding to your enemies.
Be loyal to your friends.
Be strong enough to face the world each day.
Be weak enough to know you cannot do everything alone.
Be generous to those who need your help.
Be frugal with what you need yourself.
Be wise enough to know that you do not know everything.
Be foolish enough to believe in miracles.
Be willing to share your joys.
Be willing to share the sorrows of others.
Be a leader when you see a path others have missed.
Be a follower when you are shrouded by the mists of uncertainty.
Be the first to congratulate and opponent who succeeds.
Be the last to criticize a colleague who fails.
Be sure where your next step will fall, so that you will not stumble.
Be sure of your final destination and turn around if you are going the wrong way.
Be loving to those who love you.
Be loving to those who don’t love you, and they may change.
Be an honest, patient friend to yourself.
Above all, be yourself.

Word Prompts Whirl

Good morning everyone!

I woke up and looked at the clock, which read 7:01. After a moment’s pondering, I rolled out of bed, got to my feet, and enjoyed a moment of gratitude because I CAN get up and stand on my feet. I CAN move around. When you’ve worked in a nursing home as I have, and seen people who lie in bed for months and even years, you do appreciate the ability to move around.

I recall a time when I was twenty-something. I’d just woken up and was pondering rather ungratefully how life wasn’t going well for us. My husband had to give up his job as a grain buyer because of allergies; at that time he was taking odd jobs with farmers to keep us afloat. We could hardly pay bills; we were living upstairs in his parents’ home. No, our life just didn’t look very rosy at that moment with us being so broke. Then I got out of bed and looked out the window, across the houses and tree tops of Moose Jaw, and the thought came to me, “You have something wonderful. You can see.”

Remember that old poem about the person who was feeling envious until she met a lad who was blind. The last line being, “Oh, Lord, forgive me when I whine. I have two eyes; the world is mine.” Not that my gratitude should be based on what others don’t have and can’t do, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to count your physical blessings. Mr Google tells me you can read the poem here.

Anyway, I headed for the kitchen for my morning coffee, my thoughts still flitting around my experiences in the nursing home. Breakfast: I can do it. I can fix myself, and enjoy, cereal, toast an egg. I recall how we’d feed those folks mush because they couldn’t swallow anything solid. Thank you, God for the ability to move, to swallow, to see – even if the season’s changing in a way I don’t appreciate.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: FRUSTRATION. Not at all this morning, thankfully. As I was saying, I’m feeling grateful rather than frustrated at all at the start of this new day – except maybe by the fact that the week has flown by so fast. Being retired, I can’t say like many others are morning, “Thank God it’s Friday!” But I will say a special thanks to you bloggers who supply us with new writing prompts every day. 🙂

Your Daily Word Prompt: PERFIDIOUS. Ah! This weather. This morning I opened the front door, looked out and took note of my coleus plant in a pot on the deck. Yesterday when I watered it, this plant had lush green leaves, swirled with appealing red tones as coleus are. This morning it’s limp and solid purple. Yesterday when the sun was shining brightly and the evening was fairly mild, I didn’t even think about frost. I have been taking in some nights so it wouldn’t freeze, but wasn’t thinking of frost last night. “Haha,” said the perfidious temperature as it dipped down and dealt my coleus a death blow.

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge: RECONCILE. Yes, I need to reconcile myself to the idea that autumn is here. The leaves are going to fall – in fact the maples have shed a lot already – and my plants are going to freeze. I need to get outside and do some fall clean-up before the snow flies. And the snow will fly, though it’s been so dry we may not get a lot. Back in 1976 we had a really dry fall here on the prairie and got no snow to speak of until February.

Word of the Day: AGASTOPIA. I saw this and wondered, what on earth is that? Neither Lexico nor Merriam-Webster can help me out. According to the prompter, this word means “The visual enjoyment of the appearance of a specific physical aspect of another person.” It can have a sensual context.

When we lived in Montréal I had this friend, a delightful person, with a real weakness for colours and textures. Today we’d call her “bipolar”; back then it was “manic-depressive”; at any rate, she was apt to react more strongly than most of us to visual or textural stimulus. Walking through a mall with her one day I had to be patient, as she’d see some fabric that excited her and she’d have to stop and handle it. A fur vest – she just had to rub it.

She told this story on herself: she was riding home on the subway one day when a man sat in front of her. Well, he had the thickest, darkest, most appealing mop of hair. She was fascinated and tried to restrain herself, but finally she couldn’t anymore. She reached out and buried her fingers in it as she exclaimed, “You have beautiful hair!” I gather he was surprised, but thankfully more flattered than alarmed. He just said – perhaps with a bit of uncertainty, “Thank you.” But she was such a cheery, likeable person that he didn’t take offense.

Lastly, Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day this morning is DELVE. I’ve been delving into Bible prophecy – the different ideas that have been embraced by Christians – and plan to post an article on premillennialism and dispensationalism later today. What huge words, eh? The first word means “before the thousand years” and the second refers to ages or eras.

I want to say a hearty thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to read this ramble of mine. But now it’s 10:30 and I’ve journalled enough. I’d better get on with some real work of the day. I hope you all have a great weakened weekend. (English is so much fun! )

Three Things God Needed

When my dad was on his deathbed, fearful of what awaited him on “the other side” but still not wanting to think about a Holy God, I asked him, “Why do you think God created mankind in the first place?”

When he grunted an “I dunno,” I told him God wanted someone to love…and someone to love him.” My dad had a father who never loved him. He struggled all his life with this loss — and with the concept of a loving God. Sadly, a lot of people do.

Thirty years later I still read it this way: God wanted a people to be his own, to love him, trust him, and serve him voluntarily. So He created a people, and a beautiful garden. And he loved them. He walked and talked with them in the garden. But…there had to be a choice.

God has always been about choice. He could send an angel to bop each one of us on the head and say, “Yes, God is real,” but he’s never been about forcing people to believe. So he gives us a choice, the knowledge of an option. In the Garden of Eden the couple God created was given a choice. A tree…and the command, “You shall not eat of the fruit of this tree.” A simple enough test. You likely know the rest.

The way the universe is set up, and God being pure and holy, sin has to be punished. Even you and I who have deliberately done things we knew were wrong – though we may hope our own small-ish sins will be pardoned – believe there must be some reckoning. We aren’t willing to let the Hitlers, Stalins, Jack the Rippers and Bin Ladins, the torturers, murderers and pedophiles, all be whitewashed and slide into Heaven along with their victims. Every religion on earth teaches that cruel people have to face the music/karma/judgment day. They will be punished for the suffering they’ve caused.

Sin must be dealt with, but God wasn’t willing to cast away every sinner. He isn’t a “That’s it; you had your chance. Now beat it!” kind of Creator. He has a heart of love for mankind. So, in his dealings with us and our sins, God worked out a rescue plan. Then he demonstrated it in a way mankind could grasp. You don’t talk quantum physics to an eight-year-old even if he thinks he knows everything. Rather, you give him a simple demonstration, enough basic details that he can get it in a small way.

Three Things God Needed For His Plan:
— A mirror
— A cradle
— A substitute

The nation of Israel was God’s mirror, a literal depiction of spiritual truths. He chose the Hebrews from among the nations and set them up in a land all their own. This would be an illustration of the spiritual promised land Christians enter when they are born again.

Through these people he demonstrated his plan of redemption, giving them living sacrifices to show how sin must be atoned for. He punished them when they strayed by letting enemy nations conquer them – just as Satan conquers a soul and brings it into bondage. He showed how, when the people turned back to him, he delivered them from their enemy.

Israel was his mirror – or you could call it his “stained glass window.” Israel was his church on earth, but with all the flaws and wanderings that mankind are prone to. These were real people so that we can now look into this mirror and see ourselves. He worked into this window a tableau of his dealings with his people, with individuals who are faithful as well as those who turn away, and how he would someday deal with the Church, his Bride, the New Jerusalem.

The Apostle John was given a vision of this wonderful new world:
“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her bridegroom. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” – Revelation 21: 2-3

The nation of Israel was also God’s cradle. He promised Abraham that “in thee and thy offspring, will all the nations of the earth be blessed.” So many writings promised a coming King, “the lion of the tribe of Judah,” and “of the lineage of David.” He would redeem mankind, both Jews and Gentiles. He would be the sacrifice, the acceptable substitute for sin — for those who looked to him in faith and made the choice to follow him.

Having completed the tableau, having used the cradle of Israel to bring forth his Son, the Redeemer of all men, having offered salvation to the Jewish people first of all – and been rejected – God finally abandoned Israel as his people. We still have the tableau in the Old Testament writings, but the mirror has been shattered.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Matthew 23:37-38

“Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Matthew 21: 43