Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Accidental Success

       Protogenes, the Greek painter, was an impatient man. In painting a picture of a tired, panting dog, he met with satisfactory success except that he failed in every attempt to imitate the foam that should have been seen on the dog's mouth. He was so much provoked over it, that he seized the sponge with which he cleansed his brushes, and threw it against the picture with the intention of spoiling it. It happened to strike on the dog's mouth, and produced, to the astonishment and delight of the painter, the very effect that he had labored so persistently to imitate. Frank H. Stauffer, The Epoch. 

 A master painter sometimes will make a happy accident but that is not what defines him as a true artist. A true master painter can and does repeat exactly the action that he or she knows will result in the affect needed. Make sure that your successes are not based upon mere accidents. Live intentionally a life that reflects the practice of living like Jesus.

 "When Someone Offends You"

Make-Believe

If all difference could be atoned as easily as that described in this extract from the Popular Magazine, much bloodshed would be saved:

Not long ago a Paris journalist, who had by some criticism offended a politician, received from him the following letter:

       "Sir--One does not send a challenge to a bandit for your species: one simply administers a cuff on the ears. Therefore, I hereby cuff both your ears. Be grateful to me for not having recourse to weapons
       "Yours truly, _______"

The journalist answered:

       "My Dear Sir and Adversary -- I thank you, according to your wish, for having sent me cuffs by post, instead of slaughtering me with weapons. Cuffed by post, I respond by dispatching you by post six bullets in the head. I kill you by letter. Please consider yourself dead from the first line of this epistle.
       "With a respectful salutation to your corpse, I am, 
       "Very truly yours, ________"

The intent to kill is present. Is not that reckoned in morals as bad as the overt act?

More On Malice:

Accidental Discovery

       Argand, the inventor of the famous lamp which bears his name, had been experimenting for some time in trying to increase the light given out by his lamp, but all to no purpose. On a table before him one night lay an oil-flask which had accidentally got the bottom broken off, leaving a long-necked, funnel-shaped tube. This Argand took up carelessly from the table and placed almost without thought, as he afterward related, over the flame. A brilliant white light was the magical result. It is needless to add that the hint was not lost by the experimenter, who proceeded to put his discovery into practical use by "inventing" the common glass lamp-chimney. Hundreds of discoveries which have been heralded to the world as the acme of human genius have been the result of merest accident, the auger, calico printing and vulcanization of rubber being among the number. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Hardship Vicariously Borne

       Many, many years ago a fierce war raged in India between the English and Tipu Sahib. On one occasion several English officers were taken prisoners. Among them was one named Baird. One day the native officer brought in fetters to be put upon each of the prisoners, the wounded not excepted. Baird had been severely wounded and was suffering from pain and weakness.
       A gray-haired officer said to the native official, "You do not think of putting chains upon that wounded man?"
       "There are just as many pairs of fetters as there are prisoners," was the answer, "and every pair must be worn."
       "Then," said the noble officer, "put two pairs on me. I will wear his as well as my own." This was done. Strange to say, Baird lived to regain his freedom, and lived to take that city; but his noble, unselfish friend died in prison.
       Up to his death, he wore two pairs of fetters. But what if he had worn the fetters of all the prisoners? What if, instead of being captive himself, he had quitted a glorious palace, to live in their loathsome dungeon, to wear their chains, to bear their stripes, to suffer and die for them, that they might go free, and free forever? Sophie Bronson Titterington

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hidden Sins

Donald Sage Mackay, in "The Religion of the Threshold," writes in substance as follows:

       Henry Drummond vividly describes the ravages of the African white ant. One may never see the insect possibly in the flesh, for it lives underground. But its ravages confront one at every turn. You build your house, perhaps, and for a few months fancy you have pitched on the one solitary site in the country where there are no white ants. But one day suddenly the door-post totters, and lintel and rafter come down together with a crash. You look at a section of the wrecked timbers and discover that the whole inside is eaten clean away. The apparently solid logs of which the rest of the house is built are now mere cylinders of bark, and through the thickest of them you can push your little finger. It is a vivid picture of the way in which concealed sins eat out the pith of the soul. To the outward eye everything may remain the same, but the fiber of character has been punctured through and through, till the whole nature is corroded.

http://www.ted.com Speaking at TED in 1998, Rev. Billy Graham marvels at technology's power to improve lives and change the world -- but says the end of evil, suffering and death will come only after the world accepts Christ. A legendary talk from TED's archives.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Peace

       The following outlook toward universal peace was written by George Frederick Knowles:

When navies are forgotten
And fleets are useless things,
When the dove shall warm her bosom
Beneath the eagle's wings;

When memory of battles
At last is strange and old,
When nations have one banner
And creeds have found one fold;

When the Hand that sprinkles midnight
With its powdered drifts of suns
Has hushed this tiny tumult 
Of sects and swords and guns;

Then hate's last note of discord
In all God's worlds shall cease,
In the conquest which is service,
In the victory which is peace.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Peace Christ Gives by Edgar DeWitt Jones, D. D.

"These things I spoken unto you, that in Me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16: 33

      Was there ever a stranger peace conference than that one of the upper room in Jerusalem nineteen centuries ago? How far removed and how different this assembly from those famous peace conferences where the victors in battle have dictated terms to the conquered foe. Such councils have usually met in palatial rooms flanked by the spectacle of earthly power and glory. Pomp and pageantry have always been in evidence when nations have assumed the role of peacemaking. How difficult it is for peace to emerge from an atmosphere of war. Fuss and feathers smother; sword and
saber intimidate; the kingdom of peace cometh not by violence.
      Gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem was a group of men, plain, simple men, and with them their Teacher, Companion and Friend met together for the last time ere the great storm broke. The shadows were long and deep in that room, and they fell darkly across the little company who for nearly three years had been partakers of a great privilege. These men were anxious now and nervous. They were filled with apprehension of impending peril. The signs and tokens were ominous; a tragedy seemed confronting them, but just when and how and where, they knew not. Yet there wasone in that room upon whom no shadow fell. He was calm, clear-eyed, composed and serene. He
sat there talking with His friends, simply, tenderly, intimately. Surely no man ever spoke as Jesus spoke that night in the upper room. Such a conversation there never was before or since, and toward its close Jesus said: "These things have I spoken unto you that in Me you might have peace."
      What things? Why the great utterances that had preceded this statement. They are many of them and they distinguish His conversation that last night as stars of the first magnitude distinguish the Heavens. Listen to the music of these words:

Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip ? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. Ye are my friends, if you do the things which I command you. If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you.This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.

Jesus Peace is Inward Rest
      Jesus' phrase "My peace" is distinctly interesting and thought-inciting. What is the peace which He intimates is unlike the peace the world gives? I daresay that most of us are mistaken as to the nature of Jesus' peace. When we think of His peaceful life, is it to dream that His days and years were such, say, as the poet Wordsworth spent in the lovely lake region of England, quietly, serenely? If we have so thought we are in error. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For at least three years, the years of His public ministry, Jesus lived amidst untoward conditions and in almost constant controversy and opposition. He was subject to numerous disturbing and disagreeable experiences. His own family were unsympathetic with His mission. His kinsmen made His work more difficult and were critical of much that He said and did. He was never free from the inconveniences of poverty. After His public ministry began, He seems never to have known the comforts of a home which He might call His own and to which He might retire for rest and reflection. His oft-quoted words‚"The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has not where to lay His head" were not poetry or rhetorical figure, but soberest truth. The leading Churchmen of His day, who should have been His friends and supporters, were His bitterest enemies. They regarded Him as a heretic, an impostor, and a dangerous fellow-countryman. His was the heartbreaking experience to have the good that He did attributed to the power of evil. His chosen disciples gave Him a great deal of trouble, often disappointed Him, sometimes embarrassed Him and made His rugged way more rugged still.
      Yet, despite the annoyances, the turmoil, and the strife in which Jesus lived, the peace that passeth all understanding reigned in His heart. However turbulent His surroundings, inwardly He was at repose. It was Jesus' inner peace that made Him conqueror of outward unrest. He lived in harmony with the Father's will, and His conscience was as untroubled as the placid surface of a mountain lake when the wind has died down and a calm settles over all. No memories of a misspent youth rose up to haunt Him, no feeling of remorse or sorrow of sin darkened the mirror of His spotless life. Thus He moved amidst the distractions, the disappointments, the conflicts and controversies of His day, calm, serene, self-possessed, at peace with God. The peace of Jesus, therefore, was an inward experience, not an outward environment, certainly not freedom from the burdens of life. The way He took was often painful, but His walk was one whose steps were in perfect alignment with the will of the Heavenly Father. 

The World's Peace is Outward Calm
      The world in general regards peace as an end, rather than a means. It conceives peace to be the cessation of war, stoppage of conflict, restoration of law and order. This is desirable, to be sure, but the bitter truth is that real peace is not attainable by mere outward adjustment. Moreover, peace, enduring peace, is not only the ending of one order that has been weighed in the balance and found wanting, it is the beginning of a new and better order in which justice, righteousness and brotherhood are to prevail. Alas! it is only too true that we are all to a greater or lesser degree affected with the worldly idea of peace. We stress outward things, and look for the coming of the Kingdom through exterior processes. The world as yet has failed to make a lasting peace. Time and time again great peace councils have, by the very terms of peace the victor sought to impose, sown the seeds of future wars.

Great Captains with their guns and drums,
Disturb our judgment for the hour.
But at last silence comes,

      Yes, silence comes, and just about the time when sober reflection and careful judgment is replacing the fever and excitement of war, great captains with their guns and drums disturb our judgment again;  disturb it with the roar of cannon and the loosing of the dogs of war upon a helpless society. The world professes to love peace, brotherhood and justice, but conquerors and victors are quick to make sure that the balance of power is on their side, and that armies and navies big enough to keep the peace are in training and ready for action.
      Few of us are free from the opinion that outside favorable conditions are able to produce of themselves inward repose. We think, for instance, that the possession of sufficient wealth to protect us from the annoyances and anxieties attendant on meager incomes and heavy outlays would produce a peace, where now there is only distraction and anxiety. That it might help accomplish this is freely granted, that society as a whole ought to be protected from the fear of poverty as well as the handicap of it is likewise granted. Yet, even so, the most generous provisions, the most ample safeguarding of this kind cannot of itself produce inward calm. There are many living amid physical conditions that are favorable to rest, recreation and wide travel who are inwardly in a constant state of turbulency, turmoil, and strife. Tribulations, however, of one kind or another await the sons of men everywhere, and wait us despite wealth, genius, and even godly living. These tribulations are inescapable, but they are conquerable. Jesus overcame them, and the same power that enabled Him to overcome, He assures us, will enable us to overcome. It is the inner peace that counts. Given the inner peace and the ideals and teachings of Jesus, and the result is a peace such as the world cannot give because the world has it not.
      Why is it that society is slow to accept Christ's peace? Why is it that individuals are prone to turn
elsewhere for power, only to meet disappointment? Is it because we do not understand the nature of His peace? Possibly. But a better explanation is that we are not willing to receive His peace on the simple terms He offers it. It is not true that the peace of God is given without conditions, even though it be freely given and given to all men. "These things have I spoken that in me you might have peace." Ah, yes, the things spoken in that conversation at the table, we must not forget them. They are all-important, they are fundamental. Summarized, these things are as follows, "Abide in Me." Let "My words abide in you." "Love one another even as I have loved you." "Keep My commandments." "Bear much fruit." "Bear witness." "Ask and ye shall receive." "I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you." "Be of good cheer." The peace of Jesus Christ is an inward rest, but it is more, it is a way of life in which love, justice, mercy, forgiveness, find radiant demonstration.
      "When he called upon men to follow him, to share his baptism and drink his cup," says W. E. Orchard, "He was not mocking them with impossible ideals. He was asking them to be as he was, to live for the same ends, to undertake the same task. Jesus invited men to his ethical and spiritual level. The blunting of this call by the declaration that Jesus can never be followed by mortal men is responsible for the low state of Christian discipleship."
      Candor compels the admission that the world's idea of peace is still influential in the churches. Here too, the emphasis is largely on outward conformity, the dependence on ecclesiastical and doctrinal regularity. These have been only too often the weapons of Christendom to enforce uniformity and promote appearance of solidarity. The various denominations, after the fashion of nations, have their "war parties," their "jingoes" and "dollar diplomacy." These powerful elements are intent on preserving traditional ideas and time-worn methods, by recourse to sectarian armament and threat of excommunication or brand of heresy and stigma of unorthodoxy. Thus has the cause of Jesus' peace been betrayed oft-times in the house of the Master. Sectarian disarmament must take place among the denominations before the Church can ever have an influential voice and great prestige in the Peace Councils of the world. 

Jesus Bestows His Peace Differently From The World
      The world is partial, prejudiced and class-conscious in its gift of peace. It exalts some by pulling down others. It enriches a few by impoverishing many. Jesus gives His peace to all who will accept Him. He draws no circles, builds no walls, makes no limitations as to caste, color, or character. His gracious invitation to peace, power and plenty is inclusive and all-encompassing. "Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
      Jesus' gift of peace is Himself. He had nothing to give the world save Himself, and greater gift than self no one can give. The world balks at giving self, it bestows favors, offices, emoluments. Jesus gave Himself in His death on the cross. Dying there amid darkness and degradation He made peace, individual peace, possible for the least and lowliest of earth. There are many theories of the atonement, and followers of Christ will never be agreed upon any one of these theories, but the glorious fact of the atonement is not disputable or under debate or question. Says St. Paul‚"He is our peace." By His death there on that central cross Jesus led the way for enduring peace, not only between God and man, but between man and man. The peace councils of the world have not yet
learned the way of the cross. Their way is still the way of the sword and that is the way of death and
darkness and suffering.
      Jesus' gift of Himself is also in life, the life of His free and victorious Spirit through which He abides in every heart which accords Him room. Most gifts lose sooner or later their power to thrill, to interest, to please, but not so this gift of Christ given freely to everyone who will receive Him. Whoso possesses the world's peace will thirst again, but whoso possesses the peace of Christ will never know the necessity for anything better or more satisfying. His is the peace that passes all understanding because of its exquisitely fine quality, its lastingness and satisfying nature.
      How impoverished the centuries would be if there were taken from them the lives of many humble and lowly who were filled with the peace of Jesus Christ. As for the mighty men who led in world-movements and helped to change the course of history for the better, Christ's peace ruled their lives. St. Paul knew that peace and it enabled him to establish the Christian faith in hostile communities, testify before kings and queens, and face lion-heartedly brutal mobs bent on putting him to death. Martin Luther knew this peace of Christ and amidst the wildest storms of controversy
he stood undaunted and persevering in his mighty tasks. Abraham Lincoln possessed this peace and it
taught him patience and kept him calm and sweet when rancor and contumely swirled around him as furious floods swirl around a massive pier.
      Oh, ye hosts who know only the world's peace! Go get ye to the upper room and there learn the peace that is pure, just and holy‚ the peace that Christ gives to all; the peace for which a war-scourged world waits. For without His peace all plans and programs of disarmament will be but as some fair dream which vanishes with the morning and cannot be recalled.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Perseverance Conquers or “perseverado vincit!”

      This is an old motto that has stood the test of centuries. “Perseverance conquers.” Yes, to keep pace with the progress that is now going on along every line of activity, requires not a little energy. Nothing short of a struggle is necessary if we are to master the many problems before us as individuals, as a community, as a nation, and also as a church of God. It has been so in the past. Kingdoms and empires were reared, often out of a state of chaos. The Church, also, was harassed and rent by schisms within and vicious attacks from without. Yet it stands to-day firmly resting on its imperishable foundation, the “Rock of Ages,” Jesus Christ. But to weather all these storms, both in church and state, there was need of much perseverance. Indeed, from the beginning to the present day, it has been a case of “Perseverando vincit.”
      Even in our church work here we have need of a great amount of this trait. The fruits of our labors are not so readily forthcoming as we would wish. Some people, in their utter blindness to all that pertians to their moral and spiritual welfare, will, in spite of our best efforts to enlighten them, prefer to spend their time, their money, and in themselves, for instance, “nickelodeons” and other “five-cent” demoralizing institutions, rather than take active part in Christian work. So cheaply do they value their souls!
      Hence, we have need of much perseverance. But let us not forget that in this case, as well as all others, with the help of God, “perseverado vincit!” Sermon by Rev. Carl J. Segerhammer.

More Sermons by Segerhammer:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Use Technology for Peace


      The LORD will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. Isaiah 2:4

Friday, April 3, 2015

Through A Glass Darkly

      We are strangers in the universe of God. Confined to that spot on which we dwell, we are permitted to know nothing of what is transacting in the regions above and around us. By much labor we acquire a superficial acquaintance with a few sensible objects which we find in our present habitation; but we enter and we depart, under a total ignorance of the nature and laws of the spiritual world. One subject in particular, when our thoughts proceed in this train, must often recur upon the mind with peculiar anxiety; that is the immortality of the soul, and the future state of man. Exposed as we are at present to such variety of afflictions, and subjected to so much disappointment in all our pursuits of happiness, why, it may be said, has our gracious Creator denied us the consolation of a full discovery of our future existence, if indeed such an existence be prepared for us? 
      Reason, it is true, suggests many arguments in behalf of immortality; Revelation gives full assurance of it. Yet even that Gospel, which is said to have brought “life and immortality to light,” allows us to see only “through a glass darkly.” “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” Our knowledge of a future world is very imperfect; our ideas of it are faint and confused. It is not displayed in such a manner as to make an impression suited to the importance of the object. The faith even of the best men is much inferior, both in clearness and in force, to the evidence of sense; and proves on many occasions insufficient to counterbalance the temptations of the present world. Happy moments indeed there sometimes are in the lives of pious men; when, sequestered from worldly cares, and borne up on the wing of divine contemplation, they rise to a near and transporting view of immortal glory. But such efforts of the mind are rare, and cannot be long supported. When the spirit of meditation subsides, this lively sense of a future state decays; and though the general belief of it remains, yet even good men, when they return to the ordinary business and cares of life, seem to rejoin the multitude, and to resume the same hopes, and fears, and interests, which influence the rest of the world. -by Rev. Hugh Blair, D. D.

When Help Goes Unrecognized

      A night of terror and danger, because of their ignorance, was spent by the crew of a vessel off the coast of New Jersey.
      Just before dark a bark was discovered drifting helplessly, and soon struck her bows so that she was made fast on a bar, and in momentary danger of going down.
      A line was shot over the rigging of the wreck by a life-saving crew, but the sailors did not understand that it was a line connecting them with the shore, that they might seize and escape. All signs failed to make them understand this. So all night the bark lay with the big waves dashing over it, while the crew, drenched and shivering and terrified, shouted for help.
      In the morning they discovered how unnecessarily they had suffered, and how all night there was a line right within reach by which they might have been saved. -- Evangelical Messenger

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Peace

The following outlook toward universal peace was written by George Frederick Knowles:

When navies are forgotten
And fleets are useless things,
When the dove shall warm her bosom
Beneath the eagle's wings;

When memory of battles
At last is strange and old,
When nations have one banner
And creeds have found one fold;

When the Hand that sprinkles midnight
With its powdered drifts of suns
Has hushed this tiny tumult
Of sects and swords and guns;

Then hate's last note of discord
In all God's worlds shall cease,
In the conquest which is service,
In the victory which is peace.