Friday, April 27, 2007

Stay Within the Truth. The Truth Is Your Friend.

I've been reading Thomas Brooks' Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices. In it he makes a point that I had never thought of before:

Have you not found Truth a guide to lead you, a staff to uphold you, a cordial to strengthen you, and a plaster to heal you?...Hath not truth been your best friend in your worst days? Hath not truth stood by you when friends have forsaken you? Hath not truth done more for you than all the world could do against you, and will you not hold fast the truth?

Simply put, when you think about it, the truths of this universe and the greater Kosmos which contains it are always your friends. Whenever you have worked with truth, it has been to your advantage. Think on some truths that enable you to exist-- like gravity. What happens when you reject it?

And there are spiritual truths too, which can only be to our advantage to accept and work within. If we persist in rejecting Truth, it will sooner or later, be the hammer that destroys us, instead of being, as intended, the shield that could defend us.

If I'm facing a struggle today, isn't it usually because I'm refusing to accept some truth or another?

Beloved Unbeliever

I can't help it. Over the years, I've collected a group of personalities and people (the distinction being that the former I have never met but know of, the latter I have met personally and am friendly with) whom I have categorised as my "Beloved Unbelievers".

These are people whom I simply can't help liking even though I am fairly sure they don't belong to Christ (yet...I live in hope). Here's one:Yes, it's Peter O'Toole. He is a glorious piece of human wreckage (thanks to his alcoholism, but he is more or less 'recovered') who has starred in far too many B movies instead of the movies and plays of which he is more worthy in talent. He has a rapier wit:

"When did I realise I was God? When I was praying and suddenly realised I was talking to myself."

"Exhilaration is the feeling you get just after you have a brilliant idea, and just before you realise all the things that are wrong with it."

How I wish this man was God's own man! It makes me positively quiver to think of the fun he would bring to the Kingdom at large.. I'll think of more as I go along. Who are your beloved unbelievers?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bow and Genuflect!

According to this website, I am now


....and who, knave, are you???

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Spring is now underway in earnest here. This time of year, and these conditions, always put me in mind of the New England coast, particularly Maine and Cape Cod. The temperatures here hover around the 50's well into May and June, which is just about what they are here right now.

I remember a certain July 4th in Woods Hole, in 1978. I was working at a lab there and on that morning I woke up, not having to go to work that day. It was about 10 in the morning. My bed was right next to a window, and as I opened my eyes, I heard the patter and drip of a gentle soaking, slow rain. I lay there in deep contentment. I was probably the only person in all Massachusetts who felt that way on that day, too. I could almost hear a collective groan coming from Martha's Vineyard to the south.

But to me, a rainy day meant the utter leisure of several cups of tea in the Fishmonger's Cafe, along with homebaked toast soaked with butter, and the New York Times. Heaven! I got up and got dressed and did exactly that. Then the next piece of cake was to take myself to the world-famous library at the MBL (which at that time was open 24/7/365) and do nothing but read books and old National Geographics all afternoon long. Exactly that did I do.

That was a memorable day indeed. While I was in bliss, sunken into the comfortable leather sofas at the MBL, my husband Rich, whom I was ordained to meet for the fist time in approximately a week and a half, lay soaking under a tarp in by the Charles River up in Boston, waiting for the Boston Pops to put on their July 4th outdoor concert. He was wet, and in a rotten mood. Me, my toes might have been a bit cold, but I never noticed. There's no more blessed place than a library on a rainy day!

These were taken out of our back window.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Parable of the Garbage Pile.

Once there was a man who had a very large garbage pile in his back yard. The top of it was so high that the tip could just be seen from the street, although since the back yard was fenced with a high wall, he denied that such a pile existed.

But when the weather was warm, it got particularly stinky, so from time to time he would sheepishly confess that he had "a little garbage" back there.This man had a habit of dumping his chamber pot back there. You can imagine what it smelled like, mixed in with all those rotting banana peels, moldy bread and cheese wrappers. Every day, the chamber pot added to the pile, more frequently even than banana peels. Even the man's wife, who was more used to the smell than anyone, began to complain. And the man began to realise that he had a problem back there. So he decided to do something about it.

He took a pail, and, armed with a small trowel, removed the feces from a small section of the pile, and disposed of them. "There", he thought proudly. "I am making good progress!"The next day, of course, he added more to the pile. As he did so, he realised he'd better find a different way of disposing of this waste. So he began from that day to dispose of it as everyone else did-- he put it out and it was taken away. "There," he thought proudly. "I am making good progress!"

The pile still stunk, though, and his wife complained, while the neighbors also whispered indignantly to one another.So he decided the only thing to be done was to make a point of going out every day with his trowel, and picking out the feces from the garbage pile. He did this diligently for months and months, and after a time, the stench from feces did diminish. "There," he thought (with some sweat on his brow). "I am making good progress!" And he was, as far as that noisome element was concerned.

But all those banana peels and moldy bread and cheese wrappers and meal scraps and paper towels with the who-knows-what all absorbed in them, along with the toilet paper, had not been removed. It was still pretty offensive!

Now, to be fair, the neighbors weren't much better. They had piles too, but some had figured out different ways of hiding them. Some took the stuff to storage rooms, away from the house. It still stunk, but at least no one could pin it on them, and their yards looked pretty good.

Meanwhile the man had almost picked out all the feces from the pile. "There", he thought. "I have made great progress!" And he had, for it had been a huge job. The pile was smaller, and it didn't stink-- well, not as much. His wife was feeling hopeful.

But the pile still stunk. In fact, the whole city stunk. All those piles of garbage, out of sight, some of them, but still there. There were backhoes available, and trucks, and a garbage dump, where everything would be buried forever, all free and included in the town budget, but hardly anyone used these because then they'd have to show how much they were producing, and that was embarrassing.

Better to keep it in the back yard, where it couldn't be seen, and pick out the "really" stinky things with a trowel....

copyright 2007 by Eleanor Grant

Monday, April 23, 2007

Getting Picked On.

This is just a germ of an idea that is beginning to form in my head.

The Spirit is the One Who gives us godly fruit, as listed in Galatians 5:22,23. "For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control." These things are given us to serve the world. They are some of the means through which God does His work through us. All Christians pray for more fruit. All of us want our "branches" to be heavily laden. But to be in the orchard of the Lord is not all sunshine and bees. It means a harvest. It means pruning.

My guess (based on my own experiences) is that the two fruits most prayed for are patience and self-control. We all want things, good things, godly things for good reasons...right now. We all want more self-control so that we won't do stupid and harmful things to ourselves and others. But it always seems like, just as we pray for these things, that is the time when they are most in demand. Thousands of hands and situations reach out and pluck from us all the patience, or self-control, that we have. Sometimes it seems like the very branch is being plucked off. And maybe it is. Maybe God is at work in His orchard in response to our prayer.

The thing is, we wince when the fruit is then put to use in serving others. What did we think, that it was supposed to be for decoration only?

O God, help me to glory in being a tree whose fruit is useful to Your kingdom. Pluck away.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Just a Picture.

Daffodils are about the only thing that really grows well here on my patch of densely shaded yard. Since we are heavily treed here, I'll do just about anything to bring some color in to relieve the woodsiness. These daffodils are particularly pretty...the trumpet part gets rosy towards the edge, instead of just yellow. I like interesting daffodils.

During the summer, the only flowers I can grow are those that will tolerate partial shade or dense shade-- and that's in one spot that happens to be my front steps.

Coleus grows well in this patch of light, but I can't get it to grow in the back yard. See those windows? I asked Rich if, for my birthday, he could figure out a way to mount some window boxes. We lave aluminum siding, and he hates putting holes in that, understandably enough. He could do it on the sills, but he is afraid of rot. I'd sure like to get that dilemma solved. Any ideas?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Which Way?

One of the things that has struck me in my reading through Genesis has been the common mistakes every human has made since Adam . God has always made it pretty clear to people what His expectations are-- yet, people commonly decide to do the other thing. These decisions sometimes seem easy-- to not eat of the fruit of the Tree,but to eat from some other permissible tree-- but sometimes they are hard, requiring sneakiness aforethought, like Jacob's deception of his father Isaac.

Steeped in sin myself, of course I am no different. All it takes is a second piece of cheesecake to turn godly enjoyment of God's good gifts into gluttony.

I've just started reading John Owens' The Mortification of Sin. The first chapter can be summarised as follows:

There's always reason to be about the work of mortification, or, the work of putting sin to death in ourselves.

1. Since there is always going to be sin in this world, God's people can expect to always be fighting it. This is work that will never be finished.

2. We can also expect that sin will always be getting the better of us, and that sin never "goes away" or "quiets down". In fact, when we seem freest of sin is usually just the time when it's crouching, ready to pounce on us. Therefore we need to be alert just at that time.

3. Unless sin is put to death in an ongoing way, it will lead to overt sin. And sin always hardens the heart as it advances, so that we become dulled to its existence and seriousness.

4. We need to put sin to death at all times because God has put some tools into our hands which we are never supposed to put away: we have a new nature, and we have the Spirit. I don't know about you, but I don't want to find myself saying to the Spirit, I'm good, take a break.

5. This work is so constant, there's never a status quo inside of us. Either we're about the work of putting sin to death, or, Owen says, we're decaying inside. This world is like a dark alley filled with thugs. If you're not fighting, it's because they are beating you silly. And if they are beating you silly, you're decaying, not being renewed.

6. So, we are in a situation. We're standing in this alley with thugs all around, and weapons in our hand....maybe we should negotiate with sin? No, dummy-- the command is to fight! You've been commanded to be holy, and you've been commanded to grow in grace (that is, the your ability to appropriate the strength of God and grow in His characteristics).

So getting back to those choices that the OT saints (and we) faced: What would it have looked like if Adam and Eve had simply said No? What if Jacob had waited until God had, in His own way, given Jacob the covenantal blessing? What if Abraham had said no to Sarah's suggestion to get Hagar with child "for her".

And what about my desires? What if I make it a point to stop figuring out ways to get what I want, and allow God to give me what He wants? What would my life look like if I stopped trying to impress my will on the world, and started trying harder to impress God's will on myself? What if I settle for less of what the world has in order to get more of what God wants to develop in me? What if I were to say no to sin and to seek the fruit of the Spirit instead: to be content with what I have because it comes from God and is nourishing me in an eternal way, rather than to lust after what the world can give me, and let the pleasures of that have their moment's enjoyment and then the guilt of stealing from God what was not mine?

Owens characterises the people who are in the habits of choosing sin:

Idleness (I'm bored!)
Envy (Hey...he got the bigger piece!)
Strife (I can't stand her! He drives me crazy! I'll clean his clock!)
Wrath (Just wait til I get ahold of her! Sweet revenge!)
Pride (That's not my job!)
Worldliness (He who has the most toys, wins)
Selfishness (I deserve this!)
Lack of conviction (What's the big deal?)
Setting a bad example (Do as I say, not as I do)

Lord, help me to fight....and help me to LIVE. Help me to remember that You command nothing that you have not also given me the tools with which to do the job, and though I will never finish this fight, in Christ, "IT IS FINISHED!"

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Kittens, Geckos, Spiders, Bunnies.

I keep having kitten dreams.

These are dreams in which I find a cute kitten in the house, only to turn around and find another...and another...and it becomes evident to me that I'm in the midst of an epidemic of kittens. Oddly, they vary in size. Some are normal-sized, but as they proliferate, they get smaller, and harder to throw out of the house. Sometimes I have to actually use a shovel to move enough of them because they are the size of fuzzy pussywillow buds. But they are all very cute. I feel bad about it, but it gets ridiculous.

So last night I had a dream like that, but this time it was about geckos. I like geckos. They're useful and cool to look at. But I wasn't thrilled about having an uninvited one in the house. After awhile I saw another one, and I was thinking, great. Here we go again. But then a large and colorful spider appeared. Usually I hate and fear spiders, but this one didn't bother me. Maybe I had a can of spider spray at hand in my dream-closet? I thought, I'll let the spider have it out with the gecko. Usually geckos win in these scenarios, but this spider managed to nail the gecko. I was pleased but that was that.

Until a baby rabbit showed up in the living room. It was there with its mother, a cute, furry little thang with tiny little adorable ears. I picked it up by the nape, and managed to get the mom as well, who struggled mightily, but I prevailed, and took them outside. But now I thought, if they got into the house once, they can do it again! How to prevent it, as least until I find the entry place?(I never do, either). So I decided to carry them across the nearest main road, which I do. Now they'll have to deal with the semis, I thought.

Then the dream went on to other more mundane subjects, such as obtaining a pizza, a concert stage, buying books at an estate sale, homeless people, and dirty toilets. You know, the usual. But I sure would like to know what the kitten dream means. Especially since we seem to be developing variety.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Meg has a friend on her Facebook group for Grove City who is interested in math and art. As she told Meg, she likes to do really fine detailed art. I told Meg to suggest medical illustration to her. Good for someone who can work with computers and loves detail, I said.

Meg said, “She likes MATH, not SCIENCE, and ART. Medical art isn’t ART.”

The next thing she said was, “Stop looking at me as though you wanted to plunge a dagger into my heart!”

Later we continued the discussion over dinner.

"No, you got me wrong," she asserted confidently. "I said it wasn't ART art. There's no deeper meaning to medical art."

"You're wrong", said I, wounded. "Internal organs can be fraught with meaning!"

Only another medical artist would understand. Kids are hopeless.

That girl obviously has a looong way to go in her education.