The Spirit of the Thing

Woman, Girl, Sad, Alone, People, Person, Young, Female

Pixabay

Actions bearing pale resemblance

Of commandments  – so explicit

Contrasted as the two may seem

The spirit of the thing  – implicit

For while the letter of the law

You may have failed – uphold

In your heart you did your best

To live the rule – gold

 

Padre

 

Quadrille #93: Spirited Poems

 

Decisions

Image result for deep in thought

image: freepik

Each day we have choices to face –

Yet, oft we just do what we haft –

But we need to remember

That decisions are more than math

Zero gain balances may sound good

But that ignores what’s wrong or right

It’s not a utilitarian game

Where individuals can be given a slight

What is good or bad is not opinion

What is truth is always true

Ponder this next choice you make

Giving integrity its due

 

Padre

 

 

Standing for God

Image result for daniel lions den

image: Wiki

Brother Adrian Semerene from Cambridge brought us our message this week.  He challenged us to examine the situations we have been called to and to face them with a mind for making a stand for God.  He drew his message initially from Daniel chapter 1.  He began by reading the entire twenty-one verse passage, as it showed a wonderful overview of his theme.  In it we find Daniel and his three companions brought to Babylon as captives or slaves.  They are renamed, and educated in the literature and ways of the Chaldeans. 

Fair enough, they were forced to be in a certain place, and to accept things unfamiliar to Jews, but when it came to issues that mattered, like eating food forbidden in the Law of Moses, they chose to risk punishment rather than conform.   They made a stand for God.

The chief eunuch was concerned by this.  He wanted to uphold his king’s demands, and Daniel found a way.  He asked that they be given only vegetables for ten days, and then to assess whether the diet was harmful.  The result:  Daniel and his friends were found to actually be healthier than those who ate “from the king’s table.”  The experiment complete, they continued on with their “kosher” diet and in the end were found to be blessed by God, and exceeded the accomplishments of all of their contemporaries.  They stood for God, and he in turn stood for them.

This didn’t mean they had life easy, however.  Further stands for God by the four led to three being cast into a burning furnace, and Daniel himself into a lions’ den.  Again, they made a stand, and God preserved them.

Making a stand for God, involves an active decision to follow His commands.  When Jesus was asked about these commandments in Matthew’s account of the Good News, He said the matter was straight forward.   To love the Lord your God with all of your soul, heart, mind, and strength.

Brother Adrian noted that this all inclusive list applies to all of God’s people.  It is also not a pick and mix, but an expectation for all to follow all.  Some might find serving God with all their mind a blessing.  They might love to study the Word, etc.  But to others that might be an arduous task.  For others it might be opening yourself up emotionally (the heart) that provides either the blessing or the trial.

We need to be prepared to surrender whatever it takes, not just embrace the bits we like.  Daniel may or may not have been a contented Vegan, but he surrendered to God.

But for those of us who are wonderfully God-centred misanthropes, Jesus challenged us as well.  He said the second command spins off of the first.  “Love your neighbour as yourself.”  Not just the neighbours who love you.  Not just the agreeable ones.  But to love all of the children of God.  Now there is a stand to take.

Are you prepared to stand for God today?

Padre

 

 

Taking a Stand – Coward of the County

This week Jim Adams’ lyrics challenge called for us to write about a song in which Lean/Sit/Stand feature.  Kenny Rogers’ Coward of the County is about making a stand.  While that may well be a metaphor, there is a a comment that Tommy never stood to prove people wrong, and later not a single Gatlin brother being left standing.

Lyrics:

Everyone considered him the coward of the county
He’d never stood one single time to prove the county wrong
His mama named him Tommy, but folks just called him yellow
Something always told me they were reading Tommy wrong
He was only ten years old when his daddy died in prison
I looked after Tommy, ’cause he was my brother’s son
I still recall the final words my brother said to Tommy
“Son, my life is over, but yours has just begun”
“Promise me, son, not to do the things I’ve done
Walk away from trouble if you can
It won’t mean you’re weak if you turn the other cheek
I hope you’re old enough to understand
Son, you don’t have to fight to be a man”
There’s someone for everyone, and Tommy’s love was Becky
In her arms, he didn’t have to prove he was a man
One day while he was working, the Gatlin boys came calling
They took turns at Becky, n’there was three of them
Tommy opened up the door, and saw his Becky crying
The torn dress, the shattered look was more than he could stand
He reached above the fireplace, and took down his daddy’s picture
As the tears fell on his daddy’s face, he heard these words again
“Promise me, son, not to do the things I’ve done
Walk away from trouble if you can
Now, it won’t mean you’re weak if you turn the other cheek
I hope you’re old enough to understand
Son, you don’t have to fight to be a man”
The Gatlin boys just laughed at him when he walked into the barroom
One of them got up and met him halfway ‘cross the floor
When Tommy turned around they said, “hey look, old yeller’s leaving”
But you could’ve heard a pin drop when Tommy stopped and locked the door
Twenty years of crawling was bottled up inside him
He wasn’t holding nothin’ back, he let ’em have it all
When Tommy left the barroom, not a Gatlin boy was standing
He said, “this one’s for Becky, as he watched the last one fall
“I promised you, Dad, not to do the things you’ve done
I walk away from trouble when I can
Now please don’t think I’m weak, I didn’t turn the other cheek
And papa, I sure hope you understand
Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man”
Everyone considered him the coward of the county
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Billy Ed Wheeler / Roger Dale Bowling
Coward Of The County lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group
Padre

Who Knows The Hour?

Capture

Jesus told a parable of a rich man who had an abundant crop, and seeing that it provided so much promise, tore down his old barns and had bigger ones built (Luke 12:16-21).  The rich man was looking forward to putting Solomon’s maxim from Ecclesiastes 8:15 into practice.  He was going to “to eat and drink and be glad.”  What the man failed to remember was his own mortality, and as Robert Burns so aptly put it, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men Gang aft agley (or more simply plans go awry).  Jesus states this clearly when He relates – “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’(vs 20).”

Almost exactly a year before her passing, my wife Dianne, posted the following reflection on her blog:

The last few days i have written about some of the problems of my situation, but i have discovered there are some unexpected blessings too.

Having a time limit makes my relationship with God more real. I cant afford to be lax with my conscience, put things off, bury my anger etc. I have an approaching appointment with my Lord when accounts will be closed and i have to stand before him and answer for my achievements, my mistakes, my decisions and the level of sin in my life. I cannot afford to harbour resentments, or allow myself to ignore any sin or hurt.

This is a good thing, it keeps me close to God, constantly on guard of my tongue and my actions. Really where we all should be daily.

Perhaps we could all benefit from remembering that none of us know when we could be keeping that appointment, and live as if it is fast approaching, keeping ourselves close.

Ecc 9:12 moreover no one knows when their hour will come.

 

What a great reminder to each of us to be diligent in our walk with God and our relationships with our fellows!  Jesus said that the two great commandments were to love God, and love our neighbours.  To do so, isn’t about “us” but “them.”  We need to avoid the eat, drink and be merry attitude and work on those important relationships.  We need to seek integrity in all things, and give thanks and praise daily for what we have been blessed with.

Remember the only “hour” we have to for sure to do this in is NOW.

Padre

A Helpful Reminder

 

Lamp, Light Bulb, Bulbs, Light, Lighting, Version

Pixabay

A flickering light bulb in the night

What was its cause?

Was it just the storm in the night?

 

Or was the flash – a reminder of promises made?

To hold to the pathway

From which I might have strayed?

 

Though there was no wrong intent

The subtle sign

Helped me to be encouraged – content

 

A natural occurrence – so many would say

But for me a promoting

To remain true – come what may

 

Padre

 

 

The Decision

Arlington House National Park Service.jpg

image – Public Domain

What does loyalty to one’s country mean?  What sacrifices need to be made to uphold honour?  And what does “one’s country” even mean?

The fifty-seven year old Army engineer pondered – no agonised over these questions.   He paced, fretted, and then sat to write a letter.  Colonel Robert Lee, had made up his mind.  Loyalty for one’s country requires sacrificing one’s own life for it.  Honour demands it.  Loyalty to one’s country – your home, the “state” is greater than some vague “national ideal.”

Lee would serve Virginia, not the union of other states.  He finished his resignation letter from the US Army, had left Arlington House for the vary last time.  He was going to Richmond, and his destiny.

(117 Words)

Padre

What Pegman Saw – Arlington, Virginia/Washington, D. C.

Not For Sale!

not for sale

My Affections Are Not For Sale
Nor My Opinions Of Wrong Or Right
My Life Is Not Subject To Purchase
Try As You Might
My Love
My Time
Thoughts – Considerations
These I May Freely Give
My Affections You See – Are Not For Sale
As Generously I Strive To Live

Padre

Tale Weaver – #243 – For Sale

The Beatles sang that I “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and Tash Sultana that you “Can’t Buy Happiness.”  But love can be given by another, and happiness often follows.  Integrity also is not (or should not be) a commodity to be lightly valued.   

Some things will never be “For Sale,” don’t expect them to be.  But if we are really lucky we may receive them as gifts.

Your Light Before Men: Nine Quotes to Remember

votive-candles-holy-sepulchre

I have known several godly people in my life.  Their gentle natures and God focused lives are even now an example to me.   Brother Dominic, a Benedictine monk and my wife Dianne shared this virtue of being lights to the world even in their overwhelming humility.

Here are several inspirational quotes on this theme, and I hope we can learn to live them.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house (Matthew 5: 14-15).”

Letting our light shine, or more exactly letting God’s light shine through us is not a matter of purposeful religiosity.  The Scribes and Pharisees had that.  It is more living in relationship with God, and the Spirit will shine through you.  It isn’t pretense, it is surrender.

‘If God is the centre of your life, no words are necessary. Your mere presence will touch hearts’ Vincent de Paul.  De Paul captured the idea of Matthew 5 well.  Our very actions speak to others.  “Godly is and Godly does.”

And our actions are not meant to be for the purpose of the thanks or praise of men.  Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters (Colossians 3:23).”  Remember it’s about our relationship with God.

But again, this isn’t about religious showiness.  It was phrased well my Martin Luther,  “The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”   Just as it said in Colossians, not for man, not for ritual, but truly for God.

Our walking the walk, will nevertheless impact others.  In fact, our lives may well be the only introduction to God some people ever receive.  Where one man reads the Bible, a hundred read you and me,” D.L. Moody said.   We are read, and scrutinised.  Billy graham worded it this way,  We are the Bibles the world is reading; We are the creeds the world is needing; We are the sermons the world is heeding.”

This principle is biblical.  Paul reminded the Corinthians that,  “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. . . . (2 Corn 5:20).”

So, More depends on my walk than talk” –  D.L. Moody.

But again, this is not artificial, it is about relationship and dedication to the Lord.

As Shannon Adler put it, “Hide yourself in God, so when a man wants to find you he will have to go there first.”  Drawing others to God, now that’s letting your light shine indeed!

Padre

Do the Ends Justify the Means?

Image result for bribery

image: Mises Institute

Fandango wrote: For this week’s provocative question, I am asking about means and ends. I have often heard people say that “the end justifies the means.” Conversely, I’ve heard others say that “the means justifies the end.” So what about you?

One way to approach this is to phrase it in a slightly different light.  With my ethics students, we seldom stick with merely “do the ends justify the means.”  Instead we focus on intention versus consequences.  What are the intentions of your actions?  Are they ethical?  Do you seek to bring about a positive result, and if so can this be achieved by less that ethical actions?  Do such actions in turn corrupt the end?

I want to get an “A,” is my desired “end.”  I can study, and review, and practice until the topic is mastered; or I can make a “cheat sheet,” or devise a code with a more able student to feed me answers.  Both actions get the end result.  But what about the real life application of knowledge I don’t actually have.  Might I lose a job because I am not up to it, etc..  Or consider bribery to meet a political or corporate end, is it in the public interest or only your own?

But even positive intentions are problematic.  The blind man and the manhole scenario is one of these.  You see a person with a white and red stick crossing the road.  The stick indicates both hearing and sight problems.  You with your 20/20 vision note an open manhole cover.  You shout a warning that is unheard.  You therefore intervene, and pull the person away from the impending fall.  As a result they stumble and break a leg.  You motive, and even initial action were positive, but with a negative outcome.  Does this make it a bad deed?  In this case the end was because of a means.  Should in hindsight you not even have tried.

So the answer to Fandango’s Provocative Question is, it depends.  It depends on your philosophical outlook.  Are you an absolutist?  Then always act based on pure intent.  Are you a relativist? Then let the individual situation be your guide.

Remember Spock – the greatest good for the greatest number.

Now that I have philosophically waffled long enough, I personally hold that the means must be as worthy of you as the end result.  Honour is as honour does.

 

Padre

Fandango’s Provocative Question #36