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Letter 48: Faith for My Fathers

 

It’s finally starting to look like Spring in these parts, after a fairly strange Winter.  In a few weeks my parents will be coming North for the last time.  My father has dementia, and while he can still make decisions, they have agreed that they need to be near family to help out and keep an eye on them.  I’m glad I won’t have to make sudden unplanned trips to Florida as my father did with his mother, but I wish their return were under better circumstances.

 

It’s hard to know how to pray exactly about this.  My father has stated very clearly that he doesn’t want to be a burden to anyone.  I suspect that as a child of the Depression, this thought was firmly impressed upon him.  I see standing watch for a few hours to spell my mother as an act of love, not a burden, but I can see his point of view.  He’s already a “burden,” and he hates it, but there’s nothing any of us can do. 

 

He can’t be left alone for long periods of time as he may forget to turn something off, or leave something valuable about.  But he can tell you all about his childhood dog, and how she loved to play.  He can tell me that the sun is shining, and that he had a doctor’s appointment that day.  But he can’t locate financial statements to complete his taxes.

 

He’s become sadder as a result.  The world looks more grim and depressing, and I can hear it in his voice.  No more opportunities, worse, no sense of hope.  My heart aches.

So, how do you pray?  That he is healed of dementia?  I haven’t heard of that happening to anyone, and to some extent, it seems to be part of the process of aging.  The days of a man are three-score and ten, and then only with much trouble.  Do I pray that the progress halts or at least slows?  Yes.  Dignity and comfort, and strength, too.  I seem to pray a lot for strength for various people these days.

O MERCIFUL God, and heavenly Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men; Look with pity, we beseech thee, upon the sorrows of thy servant for whom our prayers are offered. Remember him, O Lord, in mercy; endue his soul with patience; comfort him with a sense of thy goodness; lift up thy countenance upon him, and give him peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

uncertainty

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Link: On Sanctified Sentiment

The author below takes deadly aim at the abundance of sentimentality in the Christian subculture.  Indeed, much of it is treacle.  However, methinks he stray too far into snobbery, mostly by failing to consider approachability.  Yes, nearly all of George Herbert and John Donne can be read, understood, and loved by the ordinary person.  This is not always true of either TS Elliot or Gerard Manley Hopkins, both of whom I have struggled to understand.  If you need extensive commentary or annotation to be able to understand it, the ordinary person never will unless begrudgingly compelled.

 

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Letter 42: Interlude

Since Sunday, this hymn has been playing through my mind.  We live in a world that wishes to alarm us at every move.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

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The Feminization of Christianity | The Art of Manliness

Welcome back to our series on the relationship between Christianity and masculinity, which aims to explore the historical and cultural factors that have made women statistically more likely to be committed to the religion than men. In our last post, we weighed one of the more popular explanations for this gender gap: that the theology, story, and ethos of the Christian gospel was intrinsically feminine from the start, and thus naturally attracts more female than male adherents. We ultimately dismissed this theory by showing that it’s possible to see both traditionally masculine and traditionally feminine traits in the religion. The fact that the softer, gentler side of Christianity has long been emphasized over its harder qualities, then suggests that factors above and beyond the faith’s intrinsic narrative and theology led to one side being privileged over the other. Today we will explore theories as to what exactly those “feminizing” factors were, beginning with a discussion of when

Source: The Feminization of Christianity | The Art of Manliness

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Why Does God Prune Us?

I came across this post shortly after reading another by Addie Zierman that challenged me to ask the question, “Where do you see God at work in your life?” I am sensing that this might be a season of pruning. As I see God at work because of Church, but not in it. Church has been a sore trial for me. I see God, but only as an observer. For the past year or so church has been about the absence of God. Yet I keep attending, while asking why I am still there. For the moment, it seems He wants me there, for reasons I do not now understand. I want to say that this reflection explains it all, but I have only entered upon praying through this. Pray with me……

rethink

1 I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 

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Pink On Family and National Morality

In this election season, everyone sees to want, demand even, change. But it is mostly change in others, or for others, that we seek. And we get frustrated that the promised change never quite happens. We would do better to work to change those things over which we have the most direct control, namely ourselves. “Let the dead bury the dead. Come, follow Me.”

Patching Cracks

Arthur pink- family.jpg

I came across this quote from Arthur Pink today and thought it was worth sharing, particularly in light of the alarmist things I encounter in my social media feeds on a daily basis lately. It’s easy to find folks to blame for the problems in our nation. Folks post their outrage on social media, flock to politicians peddling easy answers, demand laws that will straighten up the world we live in, and pine for God to set things right. The problem with these solutions is that they are top-down fixes to a bottom-up problem. Decline and decay start in our own homes and churches. We must address our own messes before looking to those of others. In the 2 millennia since its birth, Christianity has changed the world, not through legislation and power, but through discipleship and devotion to the cause of Jesus. Fathers, follow Jesus and grow spiritually. Then, spend…

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Letter 35: A Prayer for Penteost

THE-SEVEN-GIFTS-OF-THE-HOLY-GHOST-1

Come Holy Ghost,

Alight on us as a dove

And bring us peace.

For we are tempest-tossed

And would thy comfort seek.

 

Come Holy Ghost,

Singe us with your fire.

For we are cold and dark

And would thy better tongue

To speak.

 

Come Holy Ghost,

Free as the wind,

Fill us, propel us,

Drive us where you will.

Be ever-breathing still.

 

Come Holy Ghost,

Shaker of worlds,

Hold forth God’s power

That all the world, and we,

Would see, and believe.

 

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