The Blind Men and the Elephant

When I was little, my mother used to read me a poem about a group of blind men.  When they encountered an elephant, each one thought the elephant was “like” something different.  The one who felt the trunk thought the elephant was similar to a snake;  the one who touched the elephant’s side, said, “this animal is like a wall’;  the one who grabbed the tail thought the elephant resembled a rope — and so on.

We’re reading a book in our Tuesday morning Bible study called The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul.  It’s making me realize that our understanding of God is a lot like those blind men with the elephant.  How do we describe or understand the word holy?  Of course, you may know the definition is ” separate, or set apart.”  That means God is not “like” us;  he is on a different level altogether.  He is perfect beyond our understanding of perfection.

One of the study questions from the book was “how do you experience the holiness of God.”  That’s hard for me to pin down.  I’ve experienced God’s love, God’s power, God’s mercy, and so on.  I know God is all-knowing, all-seeing and immutable.  However, God’s holiness encompasses all of God’s attributes.  Holiness is what makes God God;  and that, like the elephant, is bigger than we in our humanness can grasp.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

A Morning Offering

In Via de Cristo, we talk about having a morning offering, a way to offer your day to God.  In my devotional reading I cam across this quote which explains a good way to do this.

“With his first waking consciousness, he can set himself to take a serious, manly view of the day before him.  He ought to know pretty well on what lines his difficulty is likely to come, whether in being irritable, or domineering, or sharp in his bargains, or self-absorbed, or whatever it be;  and now, in this quiet hour, he can take a good, full look at his enemy, and make up his mind to beat him.  It is a good time, too, for giving his thoughts a range quite beyond himself, beyond even his own moral struggles, — a good time, there in the stillness, for going into the realm of other lives.  His wife– what needs has she for help, for sympathy, that he can meet?  His children–how can he make the day sweeter to them?  This acquaintance, who is having a hard time; this friend, who dropped a word yesterday that you hardly noticed in your hurry, but that  comes up to you now, revealing in him some finer trait, some deeper hunger than you had guessed before,–now you can think this things over.”

G.S. Merrian

Wouldn’t the world be a better place, and wouldn’t we have a greater chance of pleasing and obeying God, if we spent a little time every morning pondering these kinds of things ( and then, or course, asking for God’s help with them)?


Go Gideons!

This past weekend my husband and I attended a breakfast for pastors and their wives, hosted by the local Gideon camp.  Then on Sunday, one of the Gideons came to give a temple talk at our church.  In case you haven’t heard about this organization, they are the folks who put Bibles in hotel rooms;  they give New Testaments to students;  they hold Bible blitzs both here and abroad where they stand on street corners, offering Bibles to anyone who would like one. They also now give out a free Bible app!  Although I have some issues with their theology (make a decision for Christ), I have none with their mission of putting the Holy Scripture into as many hands as possible.

Terry and I had a good friend who was a Gideon.  In his final year, suffering from cancer, he would walk around the hospital where he was a patient, giving away New Testaments to other patients.  His dedication to God’s Word was truly inspiring.

When you attend a Gideon event, you will be sure to hear the testimonies of people who have been converted as a direct result of receiving a Gideon Bible.  At the breakfast we were treated to a video of a woman who “stole” a Gideon Bible out of a hotel room when she was a teen.  Everyone in her family was a “good” person.  They were generous and compassionate to others.  However, they were atheists.  She had no knowledge of the gospel at all.  She began reading that Bible on page one, and by the time she graduated from high school, she had finished it.  In college she met a Christian who witnessed to her, and she became a Christian.  Many family members converted.  She said that Gideon Bible would be the family Bible they would pass on — along with the story of how she “stole” it–to future generations.

“…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

If you would like to learn more about the Gideons follow this link:

You will also find a daily guide for Bible reading.

More Precious

“Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold,  for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.”  Proverbs 8:10-11

A book I was reading recently called to mind a Christian praise song I had all but forgotten.  It was written by Lynn DeShazzo and a very interesting story is connected to it.  Shortly after Lynn graduated from college, she was working at McDonald’s.  Having learned that Christians occasionally fast, she decided to give this spiritual discipline a try.  As it turned out, her fasting coincided with a day she was working and was assigned to “French fry duty.”  Smelling the delicious McDonald fries was almost unbearable, and eventually she succumbed to temptation and stole a few.  After work, she prayed to God, asking forgiveness for breaking her fast and taking what did not belong to her.  She was lead to the verses above, telling us that God’s teaching is more valuable than anything we desire here on earth.  The song followed.

Lord Make A Better Person of Me

Lately I’ve been feeling cranky.  I’m not sure why, but things and people are just irritating me.  Maybe I’m tired, or have taken on too many responsibilities and need to cut back;  maybe there are many changes going on in my life and I’m feeling out of control;  maybe I’m just letting sin get a foothold.  Whatever the cause, I realize it’s something I need to pray about and change.  I’ve been thinking about this poem by Edgar Guest.  Guest (1881-1959) was an American poet who was quite popular and became known as the people’s poet.  He wrote inspirational and encouraging poems about daily life.  I’ve seen this one tweeked a bit by substituting “make a better person of me” for “make a regular man out of me.”  When I do that, it fits my thinking very well.  It’s what the process of sanctification is all about.  I’d like it to make it my prayer for today.

This I would like to be- braver and bolder,
Just a bit wiser because I am older,
Just a bit kinder to those I may meet,
Just a bit manlier taking defeat;
This for the New Year my wish and my plea-
Lord, make a regular man out of me.

This I would like to be- just a bit finer,
More of a smiler and less of a whiner,
Just a bit quicker to stretch out my hand
Helping another who’s struggling to stand,
This is my prayer for the New Year to be,
Lord, make a regular man out of me.

This I would like to be- just a bit fairer,
Just a bit better, and just a bit squarer,
Not quite so ready to censure and blame,
Quicker to help every man in the game,
Not quite so eager men’s failings to see,
Lord, make a regular man out of me.

This I would like to be- just a bit truer,
Less of the wisher and more of the doer,
Broader and bigger, more willing to give,
Living and helping my neighbor to live!
This for the New Year my prayer and my plea-
Lord, make a regular man out of me.

Edgar Albert Guest

Are We Still Friends? by Randall Goodgame–Book Review

The bright illustrations and rhyming text of Are We Still Friends? will delight the eyes and ears of preschoolers.  It’s the perfect length for reading out loud, and parents will be pleased with the lesson it teaches.

Doug (the slug) and Sparky (the lightening bug) are going on a picnic along with a favorite snack — flavor-blasted pizza chips from Pizzaland.  Unfortunately, Doug gets carried away and eats the entire bag while his friend is not around.  Then he compounds his bad behavior by lying!  Luckily, Sparky is willing to forgive because:

“Sometimes it’s hard to be a friend.  And everybody gets it wrong-ways every now and then.”

The book closes with this Bible verse from Ephesians 4:32

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it.  The rhymes sometimes seemed forced, and some of the vocabulary a bit above the age group at which it is aimed.

VERDICT:  4 stars

If you would like to see my review of another Slugs and Bugs book, follow this link:

Who Will Play With Me by Randall Goodgame–Book Review

If you would like to purchase this book go to this link:

Are We Still Friends?

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

A Channel of Your Peace

I’ve been working on the adult Sunday School lesson for the upcoming week, and decided to use a well-known and loved prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

The earliest known record of the prayer is its appearance, as a “beautiful prayer to say during Mass”, in the December 1912 issue of the small devotional French Catholic publication La Clochette, “the bulletin of the League of the Holy Mass”.

The most-prominent hymn version of the prayer is “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”,  adapted and set to a chant-like melody in 1967 by South African songwriter Sebastian Temple (Johann Sebastian von Tempelhoff, 1928–1997).

We sometimes use this song in our Via de Cristo community.  It’s especially appropriate in connection with the talk on “Environment” and how each of us can be a positive, Christian influence wherever God has placed us.


The Cross — A Symbol of Community

I just started reading a book about small groups and building community, and I came across this description of the cross as a symbol of community.  I thought it was worth sharing.

“The very shape of the cross suggests the two main transactions that were effected through it.  The upright post stands for the restoration of our community with God.  God reached down from the holiness of his transcendence above, into the abyss of our human need in order to reconcile us to himself….The arms of Jesus were stretched on that horizontal beam, and his servant hands nailed to it.  His extended arms reach out from the crossbar to all who want reconciliation with God in order that we may also be reconciled to one another, forming one body in his embrace of love.  Perfect community is to be found at the intersection of the two segments of the cross, where those who are reconciled with God are reconciled together–where we love God with all we have and we love our neighbor as ourselves.”

From Groups:  the life-giving power of community by John Ortberg, Laurie Pederson & Judson Poling


The King of Glory

My devotional reading this morning was from Psalm 25, and after I finished it, I turned to Psalm 24.  It immediately brought to mind this inspirational and energetic song.  Written by a Catholic priest, Willard Francis Jabusch (b. 1930), it is based on an Israeli folk tune. The text was written in 1965 for a parish folk-music ensemble at St. Celestine’s Roman Catholic Church in Elmwood Park, Ill. It was published in Hymnal for Young Christians (1966), one of the first post-Vatican II Roman Catholic collections published in the United States in the English language.

For other songs based on the Psalms follow these links:

A Favorite Psalm

Call Upon the Lord

Confirmation Songs

Freedom In Prayer

“If you have any trial which seems intolerable, pray,–pray that it be relieved or changed.  There is no harm in that.  We may pray for anything, not wrong in itself with perfect freedom, if we do not pray selfishly.  One disabled from duty by sickness may pray for health, that he may do his work;  or one hemmed in by internal impediments may pray for utterance, that he may serve better the truth and the right.  Or, if we have a besetting sin, we may pray to be delivered from it, in order to serve God and man, and not be ourselves Satans to mislead and destroy.  But the answer to the prayer may be as it was to Paul, not removal of the thorn, but, instead a growing insight into its meaning and value.  The voice of God in our soul may show us, as we look up to Him, that His strength is enough to enable us to bear it.”

James Freeman Clarke (April 4, 1810 – June 8, 1888)  American theologian and author

For other quotes on prayer go to these posts:

Martin Luther on How to Begin When Busy

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Praying For One Another