2071) Life Interrupted

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From a letter by C. S. Lewis to his friend Arthur Greeves, December 20, 1943; From The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II.

     Things are pretty bad here.  Minto’s varicose ulcer gets worse and worse, domestic help harder and harder to come by.  Sometimes I am very unhappy, but less so than I have often been in what were (by external standards) better times.

     The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life.  The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day.  What one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.  This at least is what I see at moments of insight.  But it’s hard to remember it all the time.  I know your problems must be much the same as mine…

     Isn’t it hard to go on being patient, to go on supplying sympathy?  One’s stock of love turns out, when the testing time comes, to be so very inadequate.  I suppose it is well that one should be forced to discover the fact!

     I find too (do you?) that hard days drive one back on Nature.  I don’t mean walks… but little sights and sounds seen at windows in odd moments.

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Galatians 5:22-23  —  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Colossians 3:12-13  —  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

I Corinthians 13:4-7  —  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

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Grant us, O Lord, grace to follow you wherever you lead.  

In little daily duties to which you call us, bow down our wills to simple obedience, patience under pain or provocation, strict truthfulness of word or manner, humility, and kindness.

In great acts of duty, if you call us to them, uplift us to sacrifice and heroic courage, that in all things, both small and great, we may be imitators of your dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Christina Rossetti  (1830-1894), British poet

2070) A Mother’s Love

By Erma Bombeck (1927-1996) in If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits?,1978.  Bombeck wrote about homemaking, motherhood, and marriage.  Her syndicated column, “At Wit’s End,” appeared in more than 900 newspapers.  She wrote 12 books, nine of which made The New York Times’ Bestsellers List.

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July 2, 1984 Time magazine cover

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Many kids think they have mean mothers.  Some mothers are mean.  But many times, what is percieved by children to be meaness is, of course, deep and tender parental love that is merely insisting on necessary boundaries and limits.  Erma Bombeck describes such love in this little piece called “A Mother’s Love.”

Someday, when my children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates a mother, I’ll tell them…

I loved you enough to bug you about where you were going, with whom and what time you would get home.

I loved you enough to insist you buy a bike, that we could afford to give you, with your own money.

I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover your hand picked friend was a creep.

I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your bedroom, a job that would have taken me 15 minutes.

I loved you enough to make you return a Milky-Way (with a bite out of it) to the drug store and to confess “I stole this.”

I loved you enough to say, “Yes, you can go to Disney World on Mother’s Day.”

I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment, disgust, and tears in my eyes.

I loved you enough not to make excuses for your lack of respect or your bad manners.

I loved you enough to admit that I was wrong and ask for your forgiveness.

I loved you enough to ignore “what every other mother” did or said.

I loved you enough to let you stumble, fall, hurt, and fail.

I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility for your own actions, at 6, 10, or 16.

I loved you enough to figure you would lie about the party being chaperoned, but forgave you for it… after discovering I was right.

I loved you enough to shove you off my lap, let go of your hand, be mute to your pleas and insensitive to your demands… so that you had to stand alone.

I loved you enough to accept you for what you are, and not what I wanted you to be.

But most of all, I loved you enough to say ‘No’ when you hated me for it.  That was the hardest part of all.”

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MORE FROM ERMA BOMBECK:

Have you any idea how many children it takes to turn off one light in the kitchen?  Three.  It takes one to say ‘What light?’ and two more to say ‘I didn’t turn it on.’

Insanity is hereditary.  You can catch it from your kids.

Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.

In two decades I’ve lost a total of 789 pounds.  I should be hanging from a charm bracelet.

Sometimes I can’t figure designers out.  It’s as if they flunked human anatomy.

When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it’s a mere formality.  It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no.  You’re going to get it anyway.

A child needs your love most when he deserves it least.

I brought children into this lousy, mixed-up world because when you love someone and they love you back, the world doesn’t look that lousy or seem that mixed up.

Grandparenthood is one of life’s rewards for surviving your own children.

You show me a boy who brings a snake home to his mother and I’ll show you an orphan.

When the going gets tough, the tough make cookies.

Don’t confuse fame with success.  Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.

There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.

The other night my husband took me to dinner.  We were having a wonderful time when he remarked, “You can certainly tell the wives from the sweethearts.”  I stopped licking the stream of butter dripping down my elbow and replied, “What kind of crack is that?”

If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.  

Laugh now, cry later.

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Proverbs 12:24b  —   The one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

Proverbs 3:11-12  —  My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father discplines the son he delights in.

Proverbs 22:6  —  Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

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A PRAYER FOR THE FAMILY:

Almighty God, according to thy mercy relieve our distress and sorrow.  In thy goodness, spare us and our children.  Grant that in our homes we may keep and foster thy heavenly Word.  O thou who art good, kind, and bountiful, have compassion on us.  Grant us the necessities of daily life and keep our families securely in thy care, so that we may honor you forever and ever.  Amen.

–Philip Melancthon, reformer (1497-1560)

2069) An Old Man and Son and Grandson

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By The Brothers Grimm (early 1800’s), from a story told as early as 1535

     There was once a very old man, whose eyes had become dim, his ears dull of hearing, his knees trembled, and when he sat at table he could hardly hold the spoon, and spilt the broth upon the tablecloth or let it run out of his mouth.  His son and his son’s wife were disgusted at this, so the old grandfather at last had to sit in the corner behind the stove, and they gave him his food in an earthenware bowl, and not even enough of it.  And he used to look towards the table with his eyes full of tears.  Once, too, his trembling hands could not hold the bowl, and it fell to the ground and broke.  The young wife scolded him, but he said nothing and only sighed.  Then they bought him a wooden bowl for a few half-pence, out of which he had to eat.

     They were once sitting thus when the little grandson of four years old began to gather together some bits of wood upon the ground.  “What are you doing there?” asked the father.  “I am making a little trough,” answered the child, “for father and mother to eat out of when I am big.”

     The man and his wife looked at each other for a while, and presently began to cry.  Then they took the old grandfather to the table, and henceforth always let him eat with them, and likewise said nothing if he did spill a little of anything.

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Exodus 20:12  —  Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Isaiah 11:6  —  The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.

Matthew 7;12  —  (Jesus said), “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. 

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Look with mercy, O God our Father, on all whose increasing years bring them weakness, distress or isolation.  Provide for them homes of dignity and peace; give them understanding helpers, and the willingness to accept help; and, as their strength diminishes, increase their faith and their assurance of your love.  This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.   —Book of Common Prayer

2068) Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

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WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN? by Ada Habershon, 1907; music by Charles Gabriel

There are loved ones in the glory
Whose dear forms you often miss. 
When you close your earthly story, 
Will you join them in their bliss?

Chorus:
Will the circle be unbroken 
By and by, Lord, by and by? 
There’s a better home awaiting 
In the sky, Lord, in the sky.

In the joyous days of childhood 
Oft they told of a wondrous love 
Pointed to the dying Savior; 
Now they dwell with Him above.  Chorus

So remember those songs of heaven 
Which you sang with childish voice. 
Do you love the hymns they taught you, 
Or are songs of earth your choice?  Chorus

You can picture happy gath’rings 
Round the fireside long ago, 
And you think of tearful partings 
When they left you here below.  Chorus

One by one their seats were emptied. 
One by one they went away. 
Now the family is parted. 
Will it be complete one day?  Chorus 

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The words were often rewritten; as in this  wonderful 1989 recording by Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Chet Atkins, The Carter Family, and many more– Tremendous video!:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bRJLkNqNXI

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     Will the family circle be unbroken?  Well, NO, it will not be unbroken.  It is most certainly being broken all the time by death.  That’s why the song is so sad:  “One by one, their seats are empty, one by one, they went away; now the family is parted; will it be complete one day?”  All of us have memories of that family circle of years gone by.  That line brings to my mind many empty seats at our family gatherings, and thinking about all those wonderful people that used to be here brings tears to my eyes.  

     But the song is singing about more than this little earth, as the refrain makes clear:  “Will the circle, be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by?  There’s a better home awaiting, In the sky, Lord, in the sky.”  So the song isn’t just sad, but it’s also hopeful.  It anticipates a wonderful future, even after death.

     So now, back to the question in the song’s title:  “Will the circle be unbroken?”; that is, there in that home in the sky.  But that raises another question; and the question is, why is this a question?  Don’t we all just automatically go to that better home in the sky?  Why the question?  

     Verse one says, “There are loved ones in the glory (that better home), whose dear forms you often miss, and when you close your earthly story, will you (there’s the question again) will you join them in their bliss?”  How do we do that?  Well, says the second verse, remember what those old ones told you.  Verse two, “In the joyous days of childhood, oft they told of a wondrous love, they pointed to the dying Savior, now they dwell with Him above.”  That’s how you get there, and that’s how you keep the circle unbroken; by looking to the same Savior they looked to.  You get there by not turning your back on the one who offers you that better home above.  And so, says verse three, remember those old songs of heaven; so then, as the circle is broken here, it can again, one day be unbroken.  The song presents the good news of the Gospel in a wonderful way that speaks into our hearts and calls us to faith.

     A song is just a song:  it can stir our emotions, and make us smile or cry; songs can make us tap our foot and sing along.  But a song can’t do much more about that broken circle than just sing mournful words and make us sad.  That is, unless the song is based on something greater than itself– and this one is!  That better home awaiting isn’t just something to sing about.  Rather, it is something that is offered to us in God’s own Word, and prepared for us by God’s own Son, Jesus Christ.  

     In John 14:1-3 Jesus says he has gone on ahead to prepare a place for us.  And just like the old song says, we get there by looking to that Son of God, that Savior who says in verse six, “I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.”  That home Jesus is talking about here is the Better home awaiting in the sky, as the song says.  Will you be there?  Will the circle again one day be complete?  The words of the song plead for an answer.

      Author James Dobson suffered a life-threatening heart attack when he was in his mid-fifties.  He survived, but as he lay there, thinking it could be his last day, he thought about joining that family circle in heaven– his father and mother, his grandparents, aunts and uncles, many friends, and all the rest– and he was beginning to feel a bit of eager anticipation.  He also felt a bit of anxiety as he prayed for his own children, that they may keep the faith.  He hoped they too may be in that future home, keeping the circle unbroken.  Dobson spoke of his son, rushing to the hospital to see his dad for what could have been the last time.  Dobson told his son Ryan what he had been thinking about.  As he went into surgery, he left his son with just two words:  “Be there,” he said.  In other words, “Keep the faith son, so that you too will be there, in that better home awaiting; so that the circle in the next generation may also be unbroken.”

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John 16:22  —  (Jesus said), “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

John 14:1-3  —  (Jesus said), “Do not be worried and upset,” Jesus told them. “Believe in God and believe also in me.  There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you.  I would not tell you this if it were not so.  And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am.

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Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Henry F. Lyte  (1793-1847)

2067) Let Your Light Shine

Many people have given up on faith in Jesus Christ because of what they have seen in the lives of Christians.  In these two passages from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,Douglass describes the importance of distinguishing between believing in Christ, and believing in those who say they follow Christ.  The lives of Christians should be a positive witness to the Savior in whom they believe.  But when people call themselves Christians and live wicked lives, we must focus not on their wickedness, but on Jesus.  And we must live our lives in a way that would make others want to know more about our Savior.  “Let your light shine before others,” Jesus said, “that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” 

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     I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the south is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes, – a justifier of the most appalling barbarity, – a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds, – and a dark shelter under which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of the slaveholders find the strongest protection.  Were I to be again reduced to the chains of slavery, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me.  For of all slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst.  I have ever found them the meanest and basest, the most cruel and cowardly, of all others.

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     I find, since reading over the foregoing Narrative, that I have, in several instances, spoken in such a tone and manner, respecting religion, as may lead those unacquainted with my religious views to suppose me an opponent of all religion.  To remove such misapprehension, I deem it proper to append the following brief explanation.  What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the slaveholding religion of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference– so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked.  To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other.  I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.

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Frederick Douglass  (circa 1818-1895)

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Titus 1:16 —  They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.  They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

Matthew 5:14, 16  —   (Jesus said), “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.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I Peter 2:12  —  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

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Dear Jesus, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go.  Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love.  Possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may be a radiance of Thine.  Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul.  Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus.  Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.  Amen.  –Mother Teresa

2066) From Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass (circa 1818 – February 20, 1895), former slave, was an American abolitionist, women’s suffragist, editor, orator, author, statesman and reformer.  Douglass is one of the most prominent figures in African-American and United States history.  He was a firm believer in the equality of all people, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant.

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others; rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”

“The soul that is within me no man can degrade.”

“I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.”

“The life of a nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.”

“I may be deemed superstitious, and even egotistical, in regarding this event as a special interposition of divine Providence in my favor.  But I should be false to the earliest sentiments of my soul if I suppressed the opinion… that from my earliest recollection, I (had) a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace; and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me through the gloom.  This good spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving and praise.”

“Allowing only ordinary ability and opportunity, we may explain success mainly by one word and that word is WORK!  WORK!!  WORK!!!  WORK!!!!  Not transient and fitful effort, but patient, enduring, honest, unremitting and indefatigable work into which the whole heart is put.”

“The man who is right is a majority.  He who has God and conscience on his side, has a majority against the universe.”

“Such are the limitations of the human mind, and so thoroughly engrossing are the cares of common life, that only the few among men can discern through the glitter and dazzle of present prosperity the dark outlines of approaching disasters, even though they may have come up to our very gates, and are already within striking distance…  Prophets, indeed, were abundant before the war; but who cares for prophets while their predictions remain unfulfilled, and the calamities of which they tell are masked behind a blinding blaze of national prosperity?”

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II Chronicles 7:14  —  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Ecclesiastes 9:10  —  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

 Joshua 1:9b  —  “…Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

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O God our Shepherd,
Give the Church a new vision and a new charity,
New wisdom and fresh understanding,
The revival of her brightness 
And the renewal of her unity;
That the eternal message of your Son,
Undefiled by the traditions of men,
May be hailed as the good news of the new age;
Through him who makes all things new,
Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.   –Percy Dearmer

2065) Bad Breath

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By Joshua Rogers, posted August 23, 2019, at:  http://www.joshuarogers.com

     When I was in my early 20s, I took an etiquette class back home in Mississippi.  Although I remember very few of the rules, one has always stuck with me:  As a general rule, you should let people embarrass themselves.

     So, for example, if someone has spinach in their teeth, a big piece of fuzz in their hair, or a trail of toilet paper flowing from the back of their pants, do not tell them.  It doesn’t matter if they’re embarrassing themselves—if you’re the one who points it out, they’re going to associate the embarrassment with you and they’ll resent you for it.  I don’t like that rule and thank goodness my daughter Layla doesn’t play by it.

     One morning Layla came down the stairs and into the kitchen where I was making a protein shake.  I had this love rush, so I bent over, looked her in the face, and told her how much I loved her.  She scrunched up her nose, and in the middle of my declaration of love, she asked, “Did you brush your teeth?”

     “Yes,” I said, furrowing my brow.

     “Could you do it again?”

     Even though she was just seven and she was my daughter, it embarrassed me a little that I had just choked her with my morning breath.  But thank goodness she spared me from embarrassing myself when I went to work.  My coworkers would’ve probably just stood there breathing as shallowly as they could, hoping the conversation would end as soon as possible.

     As much as I may appreciate having people around who will tip me off when I’ve got bad breath, there’s one person whose negative feedback I often resist:  Raquel, my wife.  When she points out an uncomfortable truth–for example, how I sometimes dominate conversations–I want to shut her down (ironically).  The way I do that is to blame her.  It’s not my fault that I repeatedly interrupted others during conversations at the party.  It’s her fault for being hypercritical.

     In my best moments, however, I admit that Raquel’s got a point and thank her for bringing it to my attention (usually through gritted teeth).  Why wouldn’t I thank her for her feedback?  She’s closer to me than any other human, so she’s more likely to detect those areas where I need to make changes.  I don’t want to go around embarrassing myself.

     When our spouse points out ways in which we can grow, even if he or she does so imperfectly, it’s an opportunity to model our relationship with God, the One who knows us more intimately than anyone else.  As Mike Mason describes it in his book, The Mystery of Marriage:

One of the hardest things in marriage is the feeling of being watched.  It is the constant surveillance that can get to one, that can wear one down like a bright light shining in the eyes, and that leads inevitably to the crumbling of all defenses, all facades, all the customary shams and masquerades of personality…  it makes scant difference whether the watcher be love or something more sinister.  What is hard is the watchfulness.

     It’s painful to be under the scope of our spouse’s examination.  But if we are wise, we will lower our defenses and allow our spouse to be honest with us about the way our attitudes, words, and actions stink up the world around us.  It may be embarrassing, but everyone around us will be grateful for it.

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Proverbs 12:15  —  The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

Proverbs 23:9  —  Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice.

Proverbs 17:10  —  A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool.

Proverbs 18:2  —  Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.

Galatians 6:1a  —  Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.

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PRAYER OF CONFESSION TO GOD (source unknown):

Forgive me, Lord, my sins:  the sins of my youth, the sins of the present; the sins I laid upon myself in an ill pleasure, the sins I cast upon others in an ill example; the sins which are manifest to all the world, the sins which I have labored to hide from my acquaintances, from my own conscience, and even from my memory; my crying sins and my whispering sins, my ignorant sins and my willful sins; sins against my superiors, equals, servants, and loved ones; sins against myself, my own body, and my own soul; sins against thee, O heavenly Father, O merciful Son, O blessed Spirit of God.  Amen.

2064) Some Good Prayers

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Praying Hands, 1508 by Albrecht Durer  (1471-1528)

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O Merciful God, in your presence we confess our sinfulness, our shortcomings, and our offenses against you.  You alone know how often we have sinned in wandering from your ways, in wasting your gifts, and in forgetting your love.  Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we are ashamed and sorry for all we have done to displease you.  Forgive our sins, and help us to live in your light and walk in your ways, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Savior.  Amen.
–Henry van Dyke, in Presbyterian Book of Common Worship, 1906.

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I confess, O Righteous God, that I have sinned against Thee in thought, word, and deed.  I have not loved Thee above all else nor my neighbor as myself.  Through my sins I am guilty of more than I understand and contribute to the world’s negligence of Thee.  I beseech Thee, help me to cease my sins. Forgive me, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
–From a Swedish Lutheran Church liturgy

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O Almighty God, grant that we may ever be found watching and ready for the coming of Thy Son.  Save us from undue love of the world, that we may wait with patient hope for the day of the Lord, and so abide in him, that when he shall appear we may not be ashamed; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Methodist hymnal

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Lord God, I give you thanks that you have not left me to my sins, but have bruised me with bitter blows, inflicting sorrows, sending distress without and within.  You know all things without exception, and nothing in man’s conscience is hidden from you.  You know what will promote my progress, and how much tribulation will serve to scour off the rust of my sins.  Deal with me according to your good pleasure; I am in your hands.  I commit myself to you to be corrected, for it is better to be punished here than hereafter.  There is no one to console me except you, my Lord God, the heavenly physician of souls, who wounds and heals, who cast down and raises up again.  Your discipline is upon me and shall instruct me.  Make of me a pious and humble follower, so that I may walk in your way.  Amen.  

–Thomas a Kempis  (1380-1471)

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Dig out of us, O Lord, the venomous roots of covetousness; or else so repress them with your grace, that we may be contented with your provision of necessaries, and not labor, as we do, with all toil, sleight, guile, wrong, and oppression, to pamper ourselves with vain superfluities.   Amen.

–Edmund Grindal (1519-1583), Bishop of London

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Dear God, give us peaceful hearts, and a right courage in our strife against the devil, so that we may not only endure and finally triumph, but also have peace in the midst of the struggle, praising you and giving you thanks without complaining against your divine will.  Let peace rule in our hearts, so that we may never, through impatience, undertake anything against you, our God, or against our fellowman.  Rather, may we remain both inwardly and outwardly quiet and peaceable toward you, our Lord, and toward all people, until the final and eternal peace shall come.  Amen.

–Martin Luther

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Lord, grant that while I live I may do what service I am able to do in this frail body.  May I never forget Thy great love for me, and always be ready to lie down in death and bequeath my soul unto Thee.  Let me ever look up to Thee, so that my dying will not seem so terrible; and thus I shall not be unwilling to come to you, even though by so rough a deliverer.  Amen.  

–Anne Bradstreet  (1612-1672), New England Puritan poet

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O Lord God of all eternity, you give us the gift of time.  Give us also the wisdom to redeem the time, lest our day of grace be lost; for our Lord Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

–Christina Rossetti  (1830-1894), English poet

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Lord Jesus, when our brief time on earth is ended, take us unto Thee, for we are Thine and Thou art ours, and we long to be with Thee.  Here on earth let our small service be a part of Thy great work in this world; and then, at the last, receive us into Thy Kingdom.  Amen.

–Philip Melancthon  (1497-1560), German reformer

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Have mercy on me, O Lord, as I muddle my way through this sad world, on my way to you and your perfect home.  I make myself miserable and my life difficult by my many sins.  We have so much trouble getting along, as we are always sinning and being sinned against.  Give me the grace to forgive others as I have been forgiven by you, and may they receive the grace to forgive me as they have been forgiven by you.  I pray this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for the forgiveness of all our sins.  Amen.

–Source lost

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Lamentations 3:40-42a  —  Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.  Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say, “We have sinned.”

Lamentations 3:55-57  —  I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit.  You heard my plea… (and) you came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.”

Psalm 103:1-4  —  Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.

2063) Babe Ruth’s Last Message

“The Kids Can’t Take It If We Don’t Give It” by Babe Ruth

This is Babe Ruth’s last message.  It was written with the help of friends not long before his death.  The Guideposts magazine office received it on August 16, 1948, the day Ruth died.  Guideposts published it in their October 1948 issue.

ruth6.jpg

George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr.  (1895-1948)

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     Bad boy Ruth.  That was me.

     Don’t get the idea that I’m proud of my harum-scarum youth.  I’m not.  I simply had a rotten start in life, and it took me a long time to get my bearings.

     Looking back to my youth, I honestly don’t think I knew the difference between right and wrong.  I spent much of my early boyhood living over my father’s saloon, in Baltimore; and when I wasn’t living over it, I was in it, soaking up the atmosphere.  I hardly knew my parents.

     St. Mary’s Industrial School in Baltimore, where I was finally taken, has been called an orphanage and a reform school.  It was, in fact, a training school for orphans, incorrigibles, delinquents and runaways picked up on the streets of the city.  I was listed as an incorrigible.  I guess I was.  Perhaps I would always have been but for Brother Matthias, the greatest man I have ever known, and for the religious training I received there which has since been so important to me.

     I doubt if any appeal could have straightened me out except a Power over and above man.  Iron-rod discipline couldn’t have done it.  Nor all the punishment and reward systems that could have been devised.  God had an eye out for me, just as He has for you, and He was pulling for me to make the grade.

     As I look back now, I realize that knowledge of God was a big crossroads for me.  I got one thing straight (and I wish all kids did)— that God was Boss.  He was not only my Boss but Boss of all my bosses.  Up till then, like all bad kids, I hated most of the people who had control over me and could punish me.  I began to see that I had a higher Person to reckon with who never changed, whereas my earthly authorities changed from year to year.  Those who bossed me had the same self-battles.  They, like me, had to account to God.  I also realized that God was not only just, but merciful.  He knew we were weak and that we all found it easier to be stinkers than good sons of God, not only as kids but all through our lives.

     That clear picture, I’m sure, would be important to any kid who hates a teacher, or resents a person in charge.  This picture of my relationship to man and God was what helped relieve me of bitterness and rancor and a desire to get even.

     I’ve seen a great number of “he-men” in my baseball career, but never one equal to Brother Matthias.  He stood six feet six and weighed 250 pounds.  It was all muscle.  He could have been successful at anything he wanted to in life, and he chose the church.

     It was he who introduced me to baseball.  Very early he noticed that I had some natural talent for throwing and catching.  He used to back me in a corner of the big yard at St. Mary’s and bunt a ball to me by the hour, correcting the mistakes I made with my hands and feet.  I never forget the first time I saw him hit a ball.  The baseball in 1902 was a lump of mush, but Brother Matthias would stand at the end of the yard, throw the ball up with his left hand, and give it a terrific belt with the bat he held in his right hand.  The ball would carry 350 feet, a tremendous knock in those days.  I would watch him bug-eyed.

     Thanks to Brother Matthias I was able to leave St. Mary’s in 1914 and begin my professional career with the famous Baltimore Orioles.  Out on my own…  free from the rigid rules of a religious school…  Boy, did it go to my head.  I began really to cut capers.

     I strayed from the church, but don’t think I forgot my religious training.  I just overlooked it.  I prayed often and hard, but like many irrepressible young fellows, the swift tempo of living shoved religion into the background.

     So what good was all the hard work and ceaseless interest of the Brothers, people would argue?  You can’t make kids religious, they say, because it just won’t take.  Send kids to Sunday School and they too often end up hating it and the church.

     Don’t you believe it.  As far as I’m concerned, and I think as far as most kids go, once religion sinks in, it stays there— deep down.  The lads who get religious training, get it where it counts— in the roots.  They may fail it, but it never fails them.  When the score is against them, or they get a bum pitch, that unfailing Something inside will be there to draw on.  I’ve seen it with kids.  I know from the letters they write me.  The more I think of it, the more important I feel it is to give kids “the works” as far as religion is concerned.  They’ll never want to be holy— they’ll act like tough monkeys in contrast, but somewhere inside will be a solid little chapel.  It may get dusty from neglect, but the time will come when the door will be opened with much relief.  But the kids can’t take it, if we don’t give it to them.

     I’ve been criticized as often as I’ve praised for my activities with kids on the grounds that what I did was for publicity.  Well, criticism doesn’t matter.  I never forgot where I came from.  Every dirty-faced kid I see is another useful citizen.  No one knew better than I what it meant not to have your own home, a backyard, your own kitchen and icebox.  That’s why all through the years, even when the big money was rolling in, I’d never forget St. Mary’s, Brother Matthias and the boys I left behind.  I kept going back.

     As I look back those moments when I let the kids down— they were my worst.  I guess I was so anxious to enjoy life to the fullest that I forgot the rules or ignored them.  Once in a while you can get away with it, but not for long.  When I broke training, the effects were felt by myself and by the ball team— and even by the fans.

     While I drifted away from the church, I did have my own “altar,” a big window of my New York apartment overlooking the city lights.  Often I would kneel before that window and say my prayers.  I would feel quite humble then.  I’d ask God to help me not make such a big fool of myself and pray that I’d measure up to what He expected of me.

     In December, 1946 I was in French Hospital, New York, facing a serious operation.  Paul Carey, one of my oldest and closest friends, was by my bed one night.

     “They’re going to operate in the morning, Babe,” Paul said.  “Don’t you think you ought to put your house in order?”

     I didn’t dodge the long, challenging look in his eyes.  I knew what he meant.  For the first time I realized that death might strike me out.  I nodded, and Paul got up, called in a chaplain, and I made a full confession.

     “I’ll return in the morning and give you Holy Communion,” the chaplain said…  As I lay in bed that evening I thought to myself what a comforting feeling to be free from fear and worries.  I now could simply turn them over to God…

The Babe Bows Out: Nat Fein personal copy

Babe Ruth’s Farewell at Yankee Stadium, June 13, 1948

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Psalm 71:17  —  Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.

psalm 73:22-23  —  I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.  Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.

Psalm 71:9  —  Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.

Psalm 71:18  —  Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.

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Lord, our God, we are in the shadow of your wings.  Protect us and bear us up.  You will care for us as if we were little children, even to our old age.  When you are our strength we are strong, but when we are our own strength we are weak.  We suffer when we turn our faces away from you.  We now return to you, O Lord, that we may never turn away again.  Amen.

–St. Augustine, as he contemplated old age

2062) Through Death’s Door

By Randy Alcorn, July 21, 2014 blog, see:  www.epm.org

     When five-year-old Emily Kimball was hospitalized and heard she was going to die, she started to cry.  Even though she loved Jesus and wanted to be with him, she didn’t want to leave her family behind.  Then her mother had an inspired idea.  She asked Emily to step through a doorway into another room, and she closed the door behind her.  One at a time, the entire family started coming through the door to join her.  Her mother explained that this was how it would be.  Emily would go ahead to Heaven and then the rest of the family would follow.  Emily understood.  She would be the first to go through death’s door.  Eventually, the rest of the family would follow, probably one by one, joining her on the other side.

     The analogy would have been even more complete if the room that Emily entered had had someone representing Jesus to greet her—along with departed loved ones and angels.  Also, it would’ve helped if the room she walked into was breathtakingly beautiful, and contained pictures of a New Earth, vast and unexplored, where Emily and her family and friends would one day go to live with Jesus forever.

     Every person reading this blog is dying.  Perhaps you have reason to believe that death will come very soon.  You may be troubled, feeling uncertain, or unready to leave.  Make sure of your relationship with Jesus Christ.  Be certain that you’re trusting him alone to save you—not anyone or anything else, and certainly not any good works you’ve done.  And then allow yourself to get excited about what’s on the other side of death’s door.

     I’ve often read at memorial services this depiction of a believer’s death:

I’m standing on the seashore.  A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.  She’s an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and the sky come down to mingle with each other.  And then I hear someone at my side saying, “There, she’s gone.”

Gone where?  Gone from my sight, that is all.  She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side.  And just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination.  Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There, she’s gone,” there are other eyes watching her coming, and there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!” 

And that is dying.  

–source uncertain

     Five months before he died, C. S. Lewis wrote to a woman who feared that her own death was imminent.  Lewis said, “Can you not see death as a friend and deliverer? . . . What is there to be afraid of? . . .Your sins are confessed. . . . Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret?  There are better things ahead than any we leave behind. . . . Our Lord says to you, ‘Peace, child, peace.  Relax.  Let go.  I will catch you.  Do you trust me so little?’ . . . Of course, this may not be the end.  Then make it a good rehearsal.”  Lewis signed the letter, “Yours, Jack (and like you, a tired traveler, near the journey’s end).” (Letters to An American Lady, page 117)

     We see life differently when we realize that death isn’t a wall but a turnstile; a small obstacle that marks a great beginning.  Calvin Miller put it beautifully (The Divine Symphony, Bethany Publishers, 2000. page 139):

I once scorned ev’ry fearful thought of death,
When it was but the end of pulse and breath,
But now my eyes have seen that past the pain
There is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.
Earthmaker, Holy, let me now depart,
For living’s such a temporary art.
And dying is but getting dressed for God,
Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.

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Matthew 4:17  —  From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Luke 10:20b  —  (Jesus said), …”Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Acts 7:56  —  “Look,” he (Stephen) said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

1 Peter 1:3-5  —  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.  This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

2 Peter 3:13  —  But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Revelation 3:20  —  (Jesus said), “Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

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Heavenly Father, your Son has promised that he is preparing a place for us.  Prepare us also for that place in your home.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.