Dear Loud, Demanding Man

Dear Loud, Demanding Man,

Thanks for coming into my store today. You have shown me how far fallen I am as one of God's creatures. From your very first question, I immediately resisted treating you with respect and grace. Your mere presence provoked me. I want you to leave.

But by being here, Loud, Demanding Man, you cause me to see that I lack much that is required in a converted man. That I am not conforming to God's Word in my actions now breaks my heart. I know what I should do, yet I resist. When will I ever stand complete? Yes, I know. But for now, my prideful flesh, aroused by sin, refuses to treat another person rightly.

Loud, Demanding Man, I am ashamed. For my co-worker, who may not know Christ in a saving way, has regard for you. He is kind, pleasant, helpful, and deferential. I still want you to leave.

However, Loud, Demanding Man, I am not without hope and this is the only thing that cheers me now. Because I am sure that God, who began a good work in me "will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6) And, calling on Him, even now, there is strength, grace, and desire supplied that is sufficient for the task. Sufficient to love you in a Gospel way.

My prayer, Loud, Demanding Man, is that the next time you (or any of your tribe), and I should meet, that I would call on the One Who is sufficient and, for His sake, extend to you the kind of grace that has been given to me.

The promise of the strength that would come my way is nearly enough to cause me look forward to that opportunity.


Alexander MacLaren on Compassionate Prayer

From Alexander MacLaren's commentary on Genesis:

"The first great truth enshrined in this part of the story is that the friend of God is compassionate even of the sinful and degraded. Abraham did not intercede for Lot, but for the sinners in Sodom. He had perilled his life in warfare for them; he now pleads with God for them. Where had he learned this brave pity? Where but from the God with whom he lived by faith?"


Vin Scully, Southpaw

Here, from an interview with Hugh Hewitt, is Vin Scully talking about being left-handed 'back in the day' when school teachers were bent on making everybody right-handed.

"There were times when they were not too charitable to this red-headed kid, and the reason was that I was very, very left-handed. And every time I would use my left hand, the good nun would hit me across the back of the knuckles with the flat of the ruler. And if I insisted upon using my left hand, occasionally she would turn the ruler so that she would hit me with the edge of the ruler, which broke the skin. And one night at dinner, passing the bread or whatever, my mother saw this cut up hand, and she assumed that I had been punished for talking in class or whatever. And she would have been correct 99% of the time. But in this instance, I explained no, it’s because I’m using my left hand. Well, our family doctor, and I only use this because it works out very well, our family doctor was Jewish. And he sat down and wrote a letter to the Catholic nuns. And in the letter, he explained, among other things, that if you force this little boy to become right-handed, it might very well cause him to stutter, which would have changed my life dramatically. And then the last line of the letter, it said and besides, dear Sisters, why in the world would you want to change God’s work?"

As the interview continues, it is apparent that Scully is familiar with the Lord and gives Him credit for the good fortune in his life.

Jack Buck was always my favorite announcer but I would have dearly loved to been able to hear Scully on a regular basis.


MacLaren on Genesis, Productivity Edition

Continuing posting notes from Alexander MacLaren's commentary on Genesis.

"If life has a clear, definite aim, and especially if it's aim is the highest, there will be detachment from, and abandonment of, many lower ones. Nothing worth doing is done, and nothing worth being is realized in ourselves, except on condition of resolutely ignoring much that attracts."

How many ways has this been said?

I don't know who first said it, but it was Dawson Trotman that I first read saying, "The good is the enemy of the best."

C.S. Lewis said it this way:

If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

There simply is not enough time for everything. If you intend to spend time on the important, profitable, and necessary, you have to ignore some good and attractive things. Tough.


Happy Birthday, U.S.A.

It is the 236th anniversary of the birth of the Land of the Free.

There are plenty of days in the year to lament the freedom lost in the last week. Plenty of days to hope and plan for a remedy for that assault.

But, for now, long may she wave as a standard for freedom.

MacLaren on Genesis

Another note from Alexander MacLaren's commentary on the book of Genesis. The first of these was posted yesterday.

"Abram saw plainly what he had to leave, but not what he was to win. He had to make a venture of faith, for 'the land that I will shew thee' was undefined."

God says, "I need you to go."

"Where?" we ask.

"I'll show you later. For now, go."

What if this went through our heads every morning?


Alexander MacLaren on Genesis

Recently I had occasion to read part of a commentary on Genesis written by Alexander MacLaren. MacLaren was born in Scotland, but spent his years of ministry in London.

From his commentary about God's call to Abram to leave his home in Ur:

". . . for (God's) command is to be supreme, and clinging hands that would hold back the pilgrim have to be disengaged."