Maclaren on Micah 6:8

 

 

At the end of last year I discovered Alexander Maclaren, a Scottish minister who pastored in England.  He lived from 1826-1910 but what he had to say is still so relevant today. His practical yet insightful way of putting things reminds me of a pastor friend of mine in St. Augustine, Eric Watkins. I think if they had been contemporaries they would have been great friends.

 

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

“Micah…wages war against that misconception of sacrifice, but does not thereby protest against its use. One has heard people say,  ‘We are plain men; we do not understand your theological subtleties; we do not quite see what you mean by “Repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. To do justly and to love mercy , and to walk humbly with my God, that is my religion, and I leave all the rest to you.’ “

I am afraid that I am guilty, if not of voicing this, of thinking along these lines. I often want to hide behind the simple when the complex is too hard for me.

‘To do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God’ is possible only through repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘To do justly’, that is elementary morality in two words. There must be mercy as well as the justice.”

The minimum according to Maclaren:

  • “…give everybody what he has a right to, including mercy to which he has a right,
  • to have a lowly estimate of myself
  • to live continually grasping the hand of God
  • to be conscious of His overshadowing wing at all times
  • conformity to His will at every step of the road…”

“To think of God’s requirements, and of my own failure, is the sure way to paralyze all activity…” . This is often the take-away after Sunday morning sermons where I’m told what I should be doing and left feeling there is no way I am living up to the standards given.

“The gift of God is Jesus Christ and that gift meets all our failures.” 

“His last word to us is not ‘Thou shalt do’ but ‘I will give’  We have not to begin with effort; we have to begin with faith.”

All words in quotations are Maclaren’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From the lost files of Thoughts On the Words of C.S. Lewis #2:

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C.S. Lewis was was a novelist, poet, academic, literary critic, essayist, , and . He is probably best known as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, but he wrote numerous other works, including The Problem of Pain from where the quotes in this series were taken.

“God is both further from us, and nearer to us, than any other being.”

That is a thought that needs to be pondered. In all our human understanding, God is far away, far above us. We know we are not equal to God. Yet, He speaks to us through His Word and is within the hearts of Christians.

What an amazing thought!

The Irish Frame of Mind

 

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“When something happens to you in Germany, when you miss a train, break a leg, go bankrupt, we say: It couldn’t have been any worse; whatever happens is always the worst. With the Irish it is almost the opposite: it you break a leg, miss a train, go bankrupt, they say:It could be worse: instead of a leg you might have broken your neck, instead of a train you might have missed Heaven, and instead of going bankrupt you might have lost your peace of mind, and going bankrupt is no reason at all for that.” – Irish Journal by Heinrich Boll

 

I have not learned fully, but am drawing nearer to the Irish frame of mind and to the words of Paul, though I will forever relapse on occasion. To look at the bad side, to see the worst, to be discontent, it is all for nothing. I am instructed, Paul says, to be content. Therefore, I strive towards this.

 

… I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:11-13

 

Such a simple yet profound message.

The Cadence of Scripture

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“How many of us, the South’s writers-to-be of my generation, were blessed in one way or another, if not blessed alike, in not having gone deprived of the King James Version of the Bible. Its cadence entered into our ears and our memories for good. The evidence, or the ghost of it, lingers in all our books. ‘In the beginning was the Word’. “  ~ Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings

 

While her understanding of John 1:1 is flawed, I find it interesting and sad that this cadence is no longer a part of the lives of children in our country. According to the Shelby Baptist Association, Shelby County is the most unchurched county in Alabama. David Olsen, in his book The American Church in Crisis , states that only 16.4 percent  of the population in Shelby County attends church on a regular basis.

Though I grew up in church and became a Christian at an early age, I am ashamed at how sorely lacking I am in having memorized scripture. Or in having memorized much of anything. I have snatches of verses in my heart and in my head, but I can’t tell you the reference for the majority of them. Growing up in public schools for the most part, I didn’t memorize scripture until seventh grade when, at a Christian school, we were required to recite chapters. Fortunately we were given numerous chances, reciting in chunks, until we got through the entire passage. Sadly, I was always one of the last to complete the requirement. Years later, after listening to the Guess Who’s song, Hang On To Your Life, numerous times throughout my teens,  I read Psalms 22:13-15  as an adult and made the connection between the words spoken in the song and the verse in the Bible:

 

They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

This is all just food for thought – I don’t really have a conclusion.

 

 

On Being Colorblind

I originally wrote this a year ago on my other blog, which I am phasing out. Nothing much has changed; well, things may be worse than they were a year ago when it comes to race issues.

From discussions at church, to social media, to radio, to conversations with my husband, the topic of race and racism has permeated the dialogue.  One word that I’ve heard that I just can’t quite wrap my head around is “colorblind”. I think I know what people mean when they say they are colorblind, but it doesn’t ring true to me. I believe they are truly wanting to be colorblind in their hearts, but the bottom line is we ARE different hues.

Being colorblind robs us of the wonderful differences God intended. I have two brothers and a cousin who are colorblind and I know a little about what they have missed over the years. My younger brother, who unknowingly wore purple pants as a teen when he thought they were blue, and my older brother who asked for a lot of color-matching fashion advice, have never seen how colorful they really are.

“The solution is not to pretend there is no skin color (that is dishonoring)” – George Robertson

The closest thing I’ve seen to colorblindness of the heart is watching some of my students over the years. Maybe it’s because they have somehow remained untainted by the bias and preconceptions of previous generations.

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What I think needs to happen is to remove the pride and prejudice of color and keep the beauty. Easier said than done, I know. But, we need to be careful not to fool ourselves into believing there is no difference in people of different skin colors. In many cases there is a cultural difference.  Jesus recognized this in his conversation with the Samaritan woman. He knew she was of a different ethnicity, and yet He pursued her and quickly turned the conversation to the condition of her soul.

This is where our hearts need to go. The bottom line is that racism is a sin problem.  It’s a heart problem.

Wait Silently

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To look for community instead of cocktail-party relationships is part of choosing sides in the vast, strange battle. To say, “I’m sorry”; to be silent; to say “I love you,” “I care.” It is these little things that are going to make the difference. For God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, the weak to overthrow the strong.

– The Irrational Season (1977) by Madeleine L’Engle

 

I’ve written about this before, I’m sure; I am writing to myself again. I long for community, real and true. I think I’m settling for cocktail-party relationships via social media. I see the words “I love you”, “I care” “praying” all over facebook, but what does it really mean? Is it so others can see you are so concerned? To do so in person is another kettle of fish all together.

 

It is not easy to say I’m sorry, especially I’m sorry without a but after it. However, it’s often too easy to say I love you  – love ya – as an alternate to see ya later. Said too easily and it looses its meaning. Saying I care may be harder; harder still to show you care in a tangible may.

 

But the hardest may be to be silent. Silent when you want to scream or cry or yell or explain or accuse or complain.

 

My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. – Psalm 62:5

 

Help me, LORD, to be silent. To show love and care.  To pray.

Charlottesville and Beyond

I don’t watch much news. When I see something on twitter, I look up what’s happening in the world. Is that the best way to be alert? Probably not, but that’s me right now.

So I totally missed the goings-on in Charlottesville. But, facebook to the rescue. After being told what I, as a white woman, should be doing, I had to first read about what was going on. I read up and am appalled and sad. I in no way agree with what these protesters were doing. If I was a person who was in the right place at the right time, I would have been on the side of the counter protesters.

I wasn’t there. I was just returned from a trip visiting relatives in Florida. While there, my mother-in-law had emergency surgery and her life is hanging in the balance. I saw my grandkids off to their first days of pre-k and second grade. These children have friends who are “brown”. They do not seem to notice a difference; they never refer to their friends except by name unless they are asked to describe them.

I read this from a well meaning person I respect: “For all my white friends in different parts of the country, we must continue to chip away at the bedrock of this hatred in every conversation we take part in, and every action we take.” I understand his concern, but why must I do this in every conversation I have?

Michael Eric Dyson wrote this in The New York Times: “Now is the time for every decent white American to prove he or she loves this country by actively speaking out against the scourge this bigotocracy represents.”

I am speaking out now, but not because I love America, though I do like it an awful lot and I’m grateful to be one of its citizens. I’m speaking out because I love Christ. I strive to follow him in all I do including the way I treat everyone on a daily basis. I believe that in the Bible God has given instruction on how to live. Do I follow His instructions every day? No. Do I bend over backwards to consider the needs of others? No, not nearly enough. I do strive toward this end; I am learning more everyday what it means to serve others and to love my enemies.

I may not chip away at this hatred in every spoken conversation. I may be hanging out in a hospital waiting room, meeting my grandchildren’s friends, or hugging students when I substitute teach. An older, Middle English definition of conversation meant behavior or manner of living. This is the conversation with which I hope to chip away at hatred.

But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation    –   I Peter 1:15

 

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