Archive for August, 2006

A Psalm of Life – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

As I was meditating upon Psalm 90 today, my sons reminded me of this poem, a long-time favorite. The message of the poet seems to reverberate with the hopeful thought (also present in Psalm 90) that life, though short, may be intensely meaningful and significant. I copied and pasted the poem from the site Representative Poetry Online.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

A Psalm of Life
What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.


1Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
2 Life is but an empty dream! —
3For the soul is dead that slumbers,
4 And things are not what they seem.

5Life is real! Life is earnest!
6 And the grave is not its goal;
7Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
8 Was not spoken of the soul.

9Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
10 Is our destined end or way;
11But to act, that each to-morrow
12 Find us farther than to-day.

13Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
14 And our hearts, though stout and brave,
15Still, like muffled drums, are beating
16 Funeral marches to the grave.

17In the world’s broad field of battle,
18 In the bivouac of Life,
19Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
20 Be a hero in the strife!

21Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
22 Let the dead Past bury its dead!
23Act, — act in the living Present!
24 Heart within, and God o’erhead!

25Lives of great men all remind us
26 We can make our lives sublime,
27And, departing, leave behind us
28 Footprints on the sands of time;

29Footprints, that perhaps another,
30 Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
31A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
32 Seeing, shall take heart again.

33Let us, then, be up and doing,
34 With a heart for any fate;
35Still achieving, still pursuing,
36 Learn to labor and to wait.
Online text copyright © 2005, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.Original text: The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, with Bibliographical and Critical Notes, Riverside Edition (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1890), I, 20-22. PS 2250 E90 Robarts Library.
First publication date: October 1838
Publication date note: Knickerbocker Magazine (Oct. 1838); Voices of the Night (1839)
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 4:2002/4/6Composition date: 20 July 1838
Rhyme: abab

Vacation Time at Dad and Mom Taron’s

Sunday, August 27th, 2006
A walkway in Grampa Taron's garden
A walkway in Grampa Taron’s hillside garden
me-at-dad-and-mom-tarons-2006.JPG
Here I am sitting amidst Dad Taron’s beautiful bonsai creations

Some Thoughts After Reading Psalm 90

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

Psalm 90

verse 1 LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.

verse 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

verse 3 Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.

verse 4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

verse 5 Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.

verse 6 In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

verse 7 For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.

verse 8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

verse 9 For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.

verse 10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

verse 11 Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

verse 12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Emphasis added.)
verse 13 Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.

verse 14 O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

verse 15 Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.

verse 16 Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.

verse 17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; year, the work of our hands estalish thou it. (Emphasis added.)

As I read this psalm, I am reminded that my life, my time upon earth is exceeding brief, even as a tale that is told (verse 9), as a night’s sleep (verse 5) or as grass that grows and withers in one day (verses 5 and 6).

Though my lifetime is short, still it must and may be spent to God’s glory. It is a deception to think that life’s brevity indicates that life then is futile or meaningless. The psalmist prays (and I am encouraged to pray with him), teach me how to spend these days in godly wisdom (verse 12). How I live my life is significant.

Firstly, I must seek unto the Father, through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ for cleansing from my sinfulness and my sins, that the beauty of the LORD my God might be upon me (verse 17). I Timothy 2:5,6 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

Secondly, I must energetically do the work which the Lord providentially sets before me (the work of my hands, not someone else’s work) (verse 17). For me, this is the work of a wife and mother. By God’s grace I seek to be wise or sober, to love my husband, to love my children, to be discreet, chaste, to be a keeper of the home, to be truly good, and to be obedient to my own husband, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:4,5). Within my sphere of influence, I may be zealous for good works, to God’s glory (I Timothy 2:9-15, especially verse 10).

O let thy work and pow’r appear

thy servants’ face before;

And shew unto their children dear

thy glory evermore:

And let the beauty of the Lord

our God be us upon:

Our handy-works establish thou,

establish them each one.

(Metrical version of Psalm 90, verses 16 and 17)

Things We Can Learn from a Dog

Thursday, August 24th, 2006
Rick's dad holding Koji
One happy dog – Koji – with Rick’s dad

The following entertaining (and edifying) list, “Things We Can Learn from a Dog,” is by Joy Nordquist, coachjoy@pacbell.net, and was published in Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, which I’ve been dipping into now and again:

1. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.

2. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

3. When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

4. When it’s in your best interest, always practice obedience.

5. Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.

6. Take naps and always stretch before rising.

7. Run, romp and play daily.

8. Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.

9. Be loyal.

10. Never pretend to be something you’re not.

11. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

12. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

13. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

14. Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

15. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

16. On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

17. When you are happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

18. No matter how often you are criticized, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout. Run right back and make friends.

pict0059.JPG
Hi, Koji! 

Encouragement from Psalm 52

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

Psalm 52:8,9  But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God:  I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it:  and I will wait on the name; for it is good before thy saints.

Matthew Henry comments on verses 8 and 9 of Psalm 52:
II. In his own stability, v. 8, 9. “This mighty man is plucked up by the roots; but I am like a green olive-tree, planted and rooted, fixed and flourishing; he is turned out of God’s dwelling-place, but I am established in it, not detained, as Doeg, by any thing but the abundant satisfaction I meet with there.’’

Note, Those that by faith and love dwell in the house of God shall be like green olive-trees there; the wicked are said to flourish like a green bay-tree (Ps. 37:35), which bears no useful fruit, though it has abundance of large leaves; but the righteous flourish like a green olive-tree, which is fat as well as flourishing (Ps. 92:14) and with its fatness honours God and man (Jdg. 9:9), deriving its root and fatness from the good olive, Rom. 11:17. Now what must we do that we may be as green olive-trees? (more…)

Psalm 10:12-18 . . . Thou wilt prepare their heart . . .

Thursday, August 10th, 2006

v.12 Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.

v.13 Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.

v.14 Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.

v.15 Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none.

v.16 The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.

v.17 LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: (Emphasis added.)
v.18 To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.

(more…)

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Saturday, August 5th, 2006

Matthew 5:9  Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Commenting on this verse, Matthew Henry says:

VII. The peace-makers are happy, v. 9. The wisdom that is from above is first pure, and then peaceable; the blessed ones are pure toward God, and peaceable toward men; for with reference to both, conscience must be kept void of offence. The peace-makers are those who have,

1. A peaceable disposition: as, to make a lie, is to be given and addicted to lying, so, to make peace, is to have a strong and hearty affection to peace. I am for peace, Ps. 120:7. It is to love, and desire, and delight in peace; to be put in it as in our element, and to study to be quiet.

2. A peaceable conversation; industriously, as far as we can, to preserve the peace that it be not broken, and to recover it when it is broken; to hearken to proposals of peace ourselves, and to be ready to make them to others; where distance is among brethren and neighbours, to do all we can to accommodate it, and to be repairers of the breaches. The making of peace is sometimes a thankless office, and it is the lot of him who parts a fray, to have blows on both sides; yet it is a good office, and we must be forward to it. Some think that this is intended especially as a lesson for ministers, who should do all they can to reconcile those who are at variance, and to promote Christian love among those under their charge.

Now,

(1.) Such persons are blessed; for they have the satisfaction of enjoying themselves, by keeping the peace, and of being truly serviceable to others, by disposing them to peace. They are working together with Christ, who came into the world to slay all enmities, and to proclaim peace on earth.

(2.) They shall be called the children of God; it will be an evidence to themselves that they are so; God will own them as such, and herein they will resemble him. He is the God of peace; the Son of God is the Prince of peace; the Spirit of adoption is a Spirit of peace. Since God has declared himself reconcilable to us all, he will not own those for his children who are implacable in their enmity to one another; for if the peacemakers are blessed, woe to the peace-breakers!

Now by this it appears, that Christ never intended to have his religion propagated by fire and sword, or penal laws, or to acknowledge bigotry, or intemperate zeal, as the mark of his disciples. The children of this world love to fish in troubled waters, but the children of God are the peace-makers, the quiet in the land.

A Beautiful Family Portrait by Amanda

Friday, August 4th, 2006

Laura, Darren and Diederick by Amanda.jpg

Laura and Darren with darlin’ Diederick! by Amanda

G.I. Williamson on Excommunication

Friday, August 4th, 2006

Chapter 30 of The Westminster Confession of Faith, Of Church Censures states:

1. The Lord Jesus, as king and head of his church, hath therein appointed a government in the hand of church-officers, distinct from the civil magistrate.

2. To these officers the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed, by virtue whereof they have power respectively to retain and remit sins, to shut that kingdom against the impenitent, both by the word and censures; and to open it unto penitent sinners, by the ministry of the gospel, and by absolution from censures, as occasion shall require.

3. Church censures are necessary for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren; for deterring of others from the like offences; for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump; for vindicating the honour of Christ, and the holy profession of the gospel; and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the church, if they should suffer his covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.

4. For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the church are to proceed by admonition, suspension from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a season, and by excommunication from the church, according to the nature of the crime, and demerit of the person.

The following is a short excerpt from The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes by G.I. Williamson, published by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., Copyright 1964, ISBN: 0-87552-538-5, regarding Ch. 30 of the WCF:

Scriptural church discipline is:

(a) not a mere matter of casting people out of the church,

nor (b) is it for “little” sin.

The purpose of church discipline is the removal of sin from the sinner, not the removal of sinners from the church. That is why excommunication is warranted only as a last resort, and then only for sin in the extreme. (Emphasis added.) Prior to excommunication, as Christ instructed (Matthew 18:15-18), repeated earnest and tender efforts are to be made to encourage an erring brother to turn from his sin. And that this process is not a mere matter of casting people out of the church is evident from the following principles taught in Matthew 18:15-18:

(1) Every church member has the right and duty to seek recovery of an erring brother. But obviously, an individual church member, who goes to a brother privately, does not seek his brother’s excommunication, but only his reformation.

(2) If possible, public knowledge of the sin in question should be avoided. Even if the first private approach should fail, the matter should still not be made public. Two or three others (presumably elders of the church) and no more should be informed of the difficulty.

(3) There is to be instruction from the Word of God in order that the erring brother may realize what the law of God requires, in the hope that he will then be persuaded to abandon his sin.

(4) Above all, it is clear that final excommunication is only a last resort. It follows every reasonable effort to reclaim the erring brother.

And therefore it may be said that excommunication requires two specific conditions:

(a) There must be undeniable violation of one of the Ten Commandments. Sin is want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God. Mere non-conformity to custom, tradition, etc. is not punishable by discipline. (Emphasis added.) And

(b) that sin must be persisted in without repentance. It is sometimes thought that excommunication is justified only when some notorious sin such as murder or adultery is committed. The truth is that excommunication is not related to the notoriety of the sin but to the persistence of the sinner in any sin. Let the sin be slanderous gossip or neglect of divine worship, which are neither uncommon nor “notorious,” and if the sinner hardens his heart and persists in such sins without evidence of repentence, excommunication is warranted. When an erring church member has been faced with his error, when he has been shown from the Word of God what his error is and what his duty is, if he then “neglects to hear the church” (or in other words, pays no heed, but persists in his error with hardness and obstinancy), the duty of the church is clear: “let him be . . . as an heathen man and a publican.” This is right and good because Jesus said to do it.

THE WORLD OR CHRIST?

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006

I found the following thoughts from C.H. Spurgeon on the site Threshold:

“The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22

This is the way in which those thorns served the wheat– they starved it by devouring its food, and they choked it by keeping off the air and sun. The poor thing became shriveled and weak, and quite unable to produce the grain which the sower expected of it.

So it is with many professing Christians. They are at first worldly, but not so very worldly. They are fairly religious, though by no means too zealous. They seek the pleasures of the world, but by no means quite so much as others we could name.

But very soon the thorns grow, and it becomes doubtful which will win– sin or grace, the world or Christ.

Two masters there cannot be…

-C.H. Spurgeon, “Sown Among Thorns”