Commonplace Book: July 2007 Archives

One Last Point


Barclay's short study is filled with many rich and meaningful observations. It's impossible to choose among them without also saying that you must read the whole thing. Nevertheless, there are some things that all might benefit from. And for those Christians among us whose inclination is to deride or demean or otherwise detract from other Christians, Barclay has this observation:

from Barclay's Commentary on the Letter to the Philippians

There is a lesson for us here. Paul knew nothing of personal jealousy or of personal resentment. So long as Jesus Christ was preached, he did not care who received the credit and the prestige. He did not care what other preachers said about him, or how unfriendly they were to him, or how contemptuous they were of him, or how they tried to steal a march upon him. All that mattered was that Christ was preached. All too often we resent it when someone else gains a prominence or a credit which we do not. All too often we regard a man as an enemy because he has expressed some criticism of us or of our methods. All too often we think a man can do no good because he does not do thing in our way. . . . Paul is the great example. He lifted the matter beyond all personalities; all that mattered was that Christ was preached.

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Return to Philippians


Another quotation from Barclay's powerful and useful study of the Letter to the Philippians.

When people are in sorrow, one of their greatest comforts is the awareness that others are bearing them to the throne of grace. When they have to face some back-breaking effort or some heart-breaking decision, there is new strength in remembering that others are remembering them before God. When they go into new places and are far from home, it is an upholding thing to know that the prayers of those who love them are crossing continents to bring them before the thrones of grace. We cannot call a man our friend unless we pray for him.

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An Observation


Let me start, apropos of nothing, with a revised line from my journal this morning because it allows me to think about some beautiful things.

"Life without prayer is Life-in-Death."

Originally, I said, "half-life." But then I thought of Coleridge's poem and the remarkable image of Death and a woman casting dice for the Mariner's fate.

from "Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Nightmare Life-in-Death was she,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.

Life-in-Death wins the Ancient Mariner. And it's interesting that the first part of the description of Life-in-Death is rather attractive in a seductive sort of way. And even white skin is lovely until we reach "as leprosy."

Life without prayer is succumbing to Life-in-Death--a life of sensuality that misses the point of life at all--not really living, but living in Death.

We have a choice--God or anything else because God has made it clear that He is not a God of half-measures, and He will let us have our choice. Not easily, He'll fight for us, but if we insist, He will not overwhelm us and subdue our wills to his choice.

And so, life without prayer is life without God and not a life at all.

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Keeping Perspective


Here's a passage from William Barclay's commentary on (what else) The Letter to the Philippians:

On the day when Christ comes it will be like the coming of a king. On such a day the king's subjects are bound to present him with gifts to makr their loyalty and to show their love. The only gift Jesus Christ desires from us is ourselves. So, then, a man's supreme tak is to make his life fit to offer to Him. Only the grace of God can enable us to do that.

I do not desire the fat of animals--the sacrifice I require is a rended, contrite heart.

Over and over gain we are told that the sacrifice acceptable to God is the sacrifice of a life lived with Him. Like any good parent, God desires not material things that we can "give" Him (because it all belongs to Him anyway), but our love. And our love is best demonstrated in living a life that reflects all that He has taught us of love.

He's not asking the impossible, merely the improbable. We can't do it, but He can, and His grace is both sufficient and efficient.

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Morning Praise


It's not much, but if it is the only thing I do in a day, it is well worth doing. From this morning's morning prayer (and yes, that is a deliberate echo of Hopkins):

Give thanks to the Lord, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.

If each person who believed in God, who worshipped and paid homage to Jesus Christ as Lord and God would spend one moment each day in public acclamation of his glorious name, what might be the effect on the world around us? Not a moment of diatribe, condemnation, doctrinal ranting, triumphalist crowing, or any number of other things that we confuse with praising God, but just a moment spent looking at a flower and saying, "What hath God wrought?" A second with a friend or group of friends when we say, "Praise the Lord," and really mean it.

Sometimes we are too shy about our faith, almost apologetic. One word of praise each day can help the transformation of the world. The effort reminds us of God's nearness and makes us disposed to recognize it in all that is happening around us.

If the Gospel is good news, why do so many keep it to themselves? Praise the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Commonplace Book category from July 2007.

Commonplace Book: June 2007 is the previous archive.

Commonplace Book: August 2007 is the next archive.

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