cura librorum

Strive to Enter In at the Strait Gate… (Luke 12:34)
December 6, 2010, 01:29
Filed under: Uncategorized

Strive to enter in at the strait gate – Luke 13:24

The question which the disciples asked was for their gratification and curiosity. Men have always been curious to know what will be the numerical result of the Redeemer’s work. But to such questions the Lord had no reply. He was only eager that none of those whom He loved should miss the full measure of blessedness that was within His reach; therefore He bade each be sure of entering the narrow door, so narrow that there is no room to carry through it the love of self, the greed of gain, the thirst for the applause and rewards of the world.

We may be saved from the penalty of sin by one single glance at the Saviour, who lived, and died, and lives forevermore; but we cannot be saved in the deepest meaning of the word, in the sense of being delivered from the love and power of sin, unless we are willing to enter through a door, so constructed and straight, that it seems impossible to effect an entrance. Art thou willing for this, willing to leave behind thy amassed and hardly-gained treasures, thy luggage and impedimenta, thy jewels and gew-gaws, thy certificate of merit and credentials, thy notions of self-importance, the weights which thou hast carried so long, the pillows with which thou art always sparing thyself from the stern realities and efforts of a noble life? If thou art willing for this, and prepared to strive, even to the rending of thyself asunder, then thou shalt be saved from the love and tyranny of that wild, dark power, which, hitherto, has always dragged thee downward.

It is not enough to eat and drink of the blessed memorial supper, nor to listen to the voice of Jesus teaching in His Church. Many may do all this, and yet never be included in the Kingdom of Heaven.

– F.B. Meyer, Our Daily Homily 06 Dec, 2010


boy, v.
November 10, 2010, 08:56
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

a. To address (a person) as ‘boy’.

Esp. with a man as object, with belittling implication.
1573 G. HARVEY Let.-bk. (1884) 48 If he boied me now..I hard him not. a1625 F. BEAUMONT & J. FLETCHER Knight of Malta II iii, in Comedies & Trag. (1647) sig. Kkkkk3/1, Boy did he call me..I am tainted..Baffell’d, and boy’d.
1851 DICKENS & M. LEMON Mr. Nightingale’s Diary (1877) I. 5 Lithers. Here you are, my boy. Tip. (much offended) My boy! Who are you boying of! 1913 B. TARKINGTON Flirt 96 ‘Boy?’.. Do I hear aright? Sir, do you boy me?.. I am the stature of a man; had it not been for your razor I should wear the beard of a man; therefore I’ll not be boyed. 1965 E. MPHAHLELE Down Second Ave 152, I was ‘jimmed’ and ‘boy-ed’ and ‘john-ed’ by whites. 2002 J. BREWSTER Vicar of Afton vii. 63 ‘Easy, boy! I’ll handle this! Just cool down!’ ‘Don’t “boy” me!’

b. To treat (a person) like a boy; to patronize. In early use also refl.: to behave like a boy.

a1625 J. FLETCHER Island Princesse II. i. in F. Beaumont & J. Fletcher Comedies & Trag. (1647) 104 My countenance, it shames me, One scarce arrived, not harden’d yet, not Read in dangers and great deeds, sea-sick, not season’d{em}Oh I have boy’d my selfe. 1650 T. VAUGHAN Anima Magica 46, I know the world will be ready to Boy me out of Countenance for this, because my yeares are few, and green.
2002 Chicago Rev. (Nexis) 48 32 It should shame me to be so boyed by a senior at Brentwood High{em}all my eighteenness, all my parochial school, falling out like so much stuffing. 2006 Times (Nexis) 30 Jan. (Times2 section) 4 If they [sc. young people] feel they have been disrespected they don’t say ‘dissed’ any more but say that they have been ‘boyed’, as in looked down upon.

When I Have Fears…
October 23, 2010, 17:50
Filed under: Thoughts

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my tongue has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like full garners the full-ripened grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And feel that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love! – then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think,
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.
– John Keats, 1817

In the Days of His Flesh
October 10, 2010, 23:14
Filed under: Christian, Thoughts

[7] In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. [8] Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. [9] And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, [10] being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:7-10 ESV)

This verse is one that has continually encouraged me since I’ve graduated from college and had to face many truths about myself. I wanted to do a quick in-depth bible study on it to solidify some of my thoughts.

+ “In the days of his flesh…” Jesus was, without a doubt, a man at one point. What does this mean? This means that he was subject to all of the same limitations, frustrations, desires, and weaknesses that we inherently experience as humans. What does it mean to be in the days of flesh? It means physical weakness. It means temptation to satisfy our loneliness by clinging onto people or daydreaming about being fulfilled through lust or romance. It means finding satisfaction in status or material things, impressing people.

Our flesh longs to be satiated. We long for transcendency, sufficiency, and attention… yet we attempt to satisfy it through the immediacy and tangibility of the flesh when we were made in the image of God, to only be fulfilled by God who is our living water of eternal life . Therefore our flesh is what we must fight, since we know the good that we ought to do, but cannot. Our flesh is the source of our sin, we fight against it a losing battle so long as we depend on ourselves.

+ ” Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears,” The word “supplication” derives from the Latin supplicātus- he who begs on his knees, submissive, suppliant (from the verb supplicāre). It is a physical act as well as a spiritual one – thus the act of supplicating in prayer is one of submitting both the body and the spirit in prayer to God. The prayer formed in the mind and heart is accompanied by a parallel action in the mouth and the body, devoting all parts of the self in address to God. Loud cries and tears are embarrassing, they are exposed, they are outright. Am I raw and honest in my prayers to God, clearly addressing my need with the proper attitude?

The flesh is such that even Jesus needed to offer up complete, desperate prayers the first part of healing occurs when we truly acknowledge the power of the flesh, and our helplessness against it. we know that Jesus understands the forces with which we fight and pities our enslavement to it. He understands it and its power, which is why he prays and anguishes as he does. Do I approach my sins and my flesh with the same sort of desperation? Knowing that I am nearly helpless against it, save for my convictions that are so weak that I even need to ask God to intervene for me.

+ “to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” There is no point in praying to a God who cannot save, or who cannot actually effect change. The prayer in part depends not on the tone or the desperation with which we are offering, but it depends on that entity, that being to whom it is being offered. After all, anything can be prayed to, or the object of supplication or desire. We too often lay our sacrifices at the wrong altars, altars that are temporary and indeed cannot “save us from death.” So many people nowadays sacrifice everything, family, friends, other relationships, investments, commitments, uprooting their own families and affecting other people, because a perceived career opportunity opens up. Somehow in today’s day and age this has been deemed completely normal. Abandoning all relationships except that one romantic relationship is now somehow seen as a right, a natural consequence that ought to happen. People run through each others’ lives, damaging and scarring others in the race to the top or to one-time self-fulfillment… so many things offered at the altar of self.

But are these altars able to save us from death? The resounding answer is no, no, and no! Despite the right career or the right spouse, death and time stop for now one, makes no exceptions. Ultimately they are not worth our supplications and prayers. These altars are not worthy of our stress, yet too often they are the main source of anguish in our lives as we strive to hold on and offer some of ourselves on the altar of God, some part on the altar of self.

With reverence in supplication, to the right and proper entity, God is able to save us from death (the helplessness of our flesh) in the same way that he saved His Son. Not an ephemeral altar, but an eternal one built upon the eternal character and promises of God. And miraculously, if we believe in the truth of Jesus’ death and Resurrection, then it actually can save us from death! Is there anything else in all the world that is worth our attention and our lives? All else is waste and  folly.

+ “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” The suffering is not pointless. Jesus was not made flesh just so that he could feel pain, but for a couple of reasons. One is so that Jesus could complete the symbolism of being the substitute for our sins, making the promise and the sacrifice real – if Jesus did not experience everything that we experience, then we would not be able to claim His blood as our salvation. The sacrifice would be incomplete, and it would not be valid. Only through suffering through the experience of the flesh could Jesus’ sacrifice be made fully manifest. And by being human, and fleshly, Jesus was ultimately destined to experience separation from God, as Tim Keller puts it, cosmic separation from God, being cut off from the one source of life and truth. He did this so that He could provide an example for us of complete obedience to God, even to death, with the promise of resurrection and eternal life.

Second, to display the nature of true love. True love elevates, disciplines, does what is hard and often unbearable in order to mold and shape a person to the best and highest form possible. Love from the Father, the creator of life and purpose, means subjecting our flesh to suffering and obeying because we know that this world is passing away… Another favorite verse of mine is I Corinthians 13:12 – “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.” One day we shall not see truth through this clouded and tainted body that twists and distracts us from true vision. One day, then, shall we know fully God’s love for us, and we will no longer be burdened by sins incurred from our wayward hearts. Oh Lord, let that day come when we’ll be perfected in your presence.

“Whoever things that in this mortal life a man may so disperse the mists of bodily and carnal imaginings as to possess the unclouded light of changeless truth, and to cleave to it with the unswerving constancy of a spirit wholly estranged from the common ways of life – he understands neither What he seeks, no who he is who seeks it.” (St. Augustine)

Elisabeth Elliot: The Shadow of the Almighty
October 10, 2010, 08:31
Filed under: Book Reviews, Christian, Thoughts

Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot
Many different publishers and versions available.

Jim and Elisabeth Elliot (nee Howard) were my age only, oh, about 50 years ago? And yet the kind of passion that they display in their service for the Lord, the yearning to be constantly learning and nearer to Him, is something that feels almost ancient and intangible for us, so hopelessly mired in and tied to the swiftly passing world.

For example, even when Jim was not fully aware of God’s will for His life, two things kept him passionate and alive: he used that time to align his heart with God’s and reflect about how these even these dull, slow-seeming times could be used for God’s purpose in Him, and although Jim feels this dull weight of uncertainty and monotony inside of himself, he never forgets God’s greater narrative, and God’s heart for the lost. In the chapter, “The Test of Free Time,” Jim longs to join the missionary teams in South American to reach the thousands upon thousands who have not yet heard the gospel, yet because of family obligations must wait until the time is right for him to go. At this time, he’s also struggling with his commitment to Elisabeth (Bets) and the limits of how much of his heart he can (or should) offer her in light of his plans to become a missionary. He was 22 at the time that he wrote these particular entries.

July 19th, 1949 (Providentially, the day that I started work in 2010): How easy it is to lag spiritually at such times! … there is a very decided tendency to let the days slip through your fingers. I have had to reconcile myself to staying in the U.S. until I’ve proved myself in the work here. The brethren would have it no other way, so unless I go out with Dad to British Guaiana, I will have to wait until the way is clear for the Regions Beyond. Still, it is not wasted time, as I’m sure you, if anyone, will understand, Bets… Confident of the Lord’s glad promise, ‘He will give grace and glory, no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.’

July 23: Painted part of the hall today. Restless to do other things more directly related to the Glod’s work. Longing for a companion who will be a David to me, and me his Jonathan. Lack spiritual stamina to keep fresh in all this eating and doing. Oh there is time to read, and seek God, but my desire slackens. Lord, uphold thy lily-saint, Stay me Jehovah, for Thine is a strong right arm, and mine so weak! Saturday night again, and weary from work but seeking something from the Lord now. How shall I build with these weak and slack hands, Lord?

July 26:  Confession of pride must become an hourly thing for me. How vile and base my thoughts have been lately. Not just unkind or unsympathetic, but rotten. lewd thinking that cannot be overcome simply by willing to be rid of them. How dare I minister to God’s saints in such a condition? Lord, rebuke my flesh and deliver my heart from evil.

August 4: I must confess much leanness of soul today, Oh Patient Shepherd. How often I have been angered at delay, short-spirited, anxious to criticize. I noticed tonight, too, that one does not live to himself in this regard, but that a little leavening of dissatisfied temper will spread through a group and change outlooks. Then too, Meek Savior, I must bring a boisterous tongue, roguish lips to Thee for cleansing. Oh to be holy! Just to sense for a moment that I have somehow, however feebly, stimulated some measure of Thy character, Lord Jesus.

August 21: I sense tonight that my desires to be great are likely to frustrate God’s intents for good to be done through me. O Lord, let me pray again with earnest, honest heart: I will not to be great — only, God, grant to me Thy goodness.

Reading passages like these, prayers and supplications poured out to God on a daily basis for cleansing and holiness by a man who by today’s standards was already doing “more than enough,” often prompts me to suddenly put the book down and blink back tears of regret and fight that sudden thrill that comes when you feel too much all at once – the practical side of you that turns you back to your desk, to your thoughts about what you have to do during the day, little worries and fears. We don’t allow ourselves to dream big dreams like this anymore, because too often, our view of God is too narrow, based on the institution of church-going, or guilt-based, as we ask for forgiveness in not keeping up with His word or loving people properly. After all, does this kind of passion, intensity, longing for God exist in our world today? A constant desire to be with Him, honor Him, know more about Him? I do not think so, and if it does, I have yet to see it.

And I lament the lack of such a passion within myself as well. This was especially clear to me as I was reading this book when I first started working in mid-July, and Jim & Elisabeth’s lives kept me sane in the midst of so much temptation to throw God’s standards to the winds and give into social pressures, a sense of entitlement about working in a place with so many benefits, and to see my work and advancement as most important. Though this couple I’ve never personally met, I feel such fellowship and encouragement from them by virtue of the example of their lives and the intensity with which they pursued God’s will in their lives.

My prayer for myself, through this book, was that I would keep my mind and heart open to God’s vision for my life, and not let the mundane and the quotidian cloud and narrow His purpose for me, even though it’s uncertain right now. He has a plan for me, for each of us, and if only we’d long for Him and seek His will, it would be made manifest in us! Let us be dissatisfied with this world, disgusted at our own desire to cling to rags rather than the proper garments of beloved sons and daughters of God.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. (Jeremiah 29:11-14 ESV)

Elisabeth Elliot: Discipline – The Glad Surrender
June 19, 2010, 03:15
Filed under: Book Reviews, Christian, Thoughts | Tags: , ,

Discipline: The Glad Surrender
(Grand Rapids, Revell, 1982, 160pp, paperback, $9.99)

I know I gush about Elisabeth Elliot enough on this blog, but I need to post a quote from her book Discipline, a short 13-chapter volume that never fails to return to the basic gospel message of our sinfulness and the need to discipline our minds, bodies, and hearts in order to actually be able to call ourselves disciples and followers of Christ.

She espouses an honest look at reality so that we can learn to be mature people who deal with truth appropriately:

It is the man who is most realistic about his own need who is most likely to turn from it ot the shining reality of a savior. Evil is never a reality in itself. That is, it has no existence apart from the good, of which it is a corruption. Hell has no light. It is murky. Therefore, the more clearly we apprehend the nature of evil, the greater our revulsion and the more wholeheartedly we turn from it and welcome the true. This is what makes real men and real women, not the poor self-indulgence that passes for honesty today when people “share” their worst attitudes in order to get, not forgiveness, but merely common sympathy and consent.

And she also urges us to make our minds Christlike, in an encouraging exhortation towards an imitation of his love as best we can even in the worst of circumstances:

A renewed mind has an utterly changed conception, not only of reality, but of possibility. A turn away from the kingdom of this world to the Kingdom of God provides a whole set of values based not on the human word, but on Christ’s. Impossibilities become possibilities.

The mind made over from within begins to think Christ’s thoughts after Him. I have found it necessary sometimes deliberately to refuse thoughts of what someone has done to me and to ask for help to dwell on what Christ has done for that person and wants to do for him and for me, for I am sure hat my treatment of people depends on how I think about them.

She even has a lovely, literary-theory-like passage that speaks to exactly how we have this human faculty of sympathy: imagination is a gift that enables us to be like Christ in that we can call “things as if they were not,” we can love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable, endure hurts and pain:

Imagination is a power given us surely in order to enable us to enter into another’s experience.

Overall the emphasis is that Jesus himself was a man of utmost discipline, but driven by love to it. He was able to love us noncircumstancially, and drove himself to the Cross in order to enact his forgiveness. Elisabeth Elliot does a wonderful job as always of intertwining hymns, poetry, literature, scripture, and anecdotes to present a book that needs to be taken slowly, and repeatedly.

LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring
June 2, 2010, 22:41
Filed under: Children's & YA, Thoughts | Tags: , ,

Focus on Gimli here today.

In Tolkien’s books, Gimli is a dwarf of few syllables and even less emotion. He is, however, fiercely loyal and feels the power of his ancestry deep within himself. In The Fellowship of the Ring, the glorious past and his dwarf ancestors are the only things that can cause him to become eloquent and passionate, when he is often stoic:

“I need no map,” said Gimli, who had come up with Legolas, and was gazing out before him with a strange light in his deep eyes. “There is the land where our fathers worked of old, and we have wrought the image of those mountains into many works of metal and of stone, and into many songs and tales. They stand tall in our dreas: Baraz, Zirak. Shathur.

“Only once before have I seen them from afar in waking life, but I know them and their names, for under them lies Khazad-dum, the Dwarrowdelf, that is now called the Black Pit, Moria in the Elvish tongue…

Tolkien doesn’t mention Gimli for the next fifty pages or so, emphasizing his state of silent grief. He finds himself in the company of eight now, with Gandalf, their trusty guide, gone, and their way lost. He is mistreated and mistrusted by the elves even though he has just witnessed the destruction of all that he once held dear. But this silent, stony grief is the reason why Galadriel, the Lady of Lothlorien, is able to penetrate his heart the way that she does once he arrives in the Wood. His pride is wounded and his sorrow held in resolutely as elves dismiss his homeland. But Galadriel understands:

‘Alas!’ said Celeborn. ‘We long have feared that under Caradhras a terror slept. But had I known that the Dwarves had stirred up this evil in Moria again, I would have forbidden you to pass the northern broders, you and all that went with you. And if it were possible, one would say that at the last Gandalf fell from wisdom into follow, going needlessly into the net of Moria.’

(Galadriel says) ‘Do not repent of your welcome to the Dwarf. If our folk had been exiled long and far from Lothlorien, who of the Galadhrim, even Celeborn the Wise, would pass nigh and would not wish to look upon their ancient home, though it had become an abode of dragons?

‘Dark is the water of Kheled-zaram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-nala, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dum in the Elder Days before the fall of might kings beneath the stone.’ She looked upon Gimli, who sat glowering and sad, and she smiled. And the Dwarf, hearing the names given in his own ancient tongue, looked up and met her eyes; and it seemed to him that he looked suddenly into the heart of an enemy and saw there love and understanding. Wonder came into his face, and then he smiled in answer.

He rose clumsily and bowed in dwarf-fashion, saying: ‘Yet more fair is the living land in Lorien, and the Lady Galadriel is above all the jewels that lie beneath the earth!’

If a dwarf seeks beauty beneath the earth, in the form of jewels and precious metals, then Gimli seems to have found a far higher beauty that lives and loves. It changes him henceforth, even bringing him into friendship with the elves and a more open humility with the fellowship:

Gimli wept openly. ‘I have looked the last upon that which was fairest,’ he said to Legolas his companion. ‘Henceforward I will call nothing fair, unless it be her gift.’ He put his hand to his breast.

‘Tell me, Legolas,’ why did I come on this Quest? Little did I know where the chief peril lay! Truly Elrond spoke, saying that we could not foresee what we might meet upon our road. Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back. But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy. Now I have taken my worst wound in this parting, even if I were to go this night straight to the Dark Lord. Alas for Gimli son of Gloin!’

I love this, because it is light, honesty, and vulnerability that breaks Gimli. He is a gruff and unfriendly character, but a bit of understanding practically melts him. I love this transformation of Gimli that spans the whole book, but lasts throughout the rest of the series and is only really touched on in the movies.