Saturday, July 05, 2008


America's Weekend

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Friday, July 04, 2008


Independence Day!

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Thursday, July 03, 2008


Can We Consider Them Separately?

The Reformed Evangelist recently looked at "Evangelism and Discipleship." It is an interesting post, but there are two points I want to make flowing from it:
Generally speaking, in the BEC [ed note: "Biblical evangelism community," his definition] those who would even mention that they are affiliated with a church when they are on the streets are viewed with some suspicion. After all, we are not there to get people to come to our church, we are there to get them to come to Christ.
Now, I am not quite sure what the "Biblical evangelism community" is - when I worked for Young Life and did pretty much what this talks about, we called ourselves "the parachurch." By that we meant that simply an organization dedicated to do one, and only one, part of the church's whole mission. We to were called to evangelism.

If Young Life had (has?) a weakness, it was the transition from our ministry to a church, but for the most part we tried. Some YL areas formed partnerships with churches. there was certainly the Campaigners ministry designed to give kids the very basics of the faith to help them understand what went on in church so they could make an informed decision about where to go. The fault laid most strongly in the fact that in Campaigners we never pushed the kids to church enough, we assumed they would go with their parents, or something.

Which brings me to the second point:
I don’t agree with everything that he teaches, but Zac Poonen has made an excellent point when he said that most missionaries emphasize either evangelism at the neglect of discipleship or vice versa. It is rare to find a missionary who has proper emphasis on both. Rarer still are those in the BEC who are even trying to understand the balance.
I read that and the first thing that passed through my head was "Can they really be separated that way?"
James 2:17-18 - Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, {being} by itself. But someone may {well} say, "You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."
Sounding rather Zen, if the wind blows, but a leaf does not stir, how does one know the wind has blown? Too many time in my career with Young Life did I, and have I since, seen kids that no longer carry any sign of the commitment they appeared to make those many years ago. And my heart weeps.

All the problems here discussed seem to spring from the idea that salvation and sanctification, evangelism and discipleship, are somehow separate things. They are not. They are different aspects of the same thing - the return of ourselves to the place where we were created to stand - a journey, not a step, a transformation, not a conversion.

And thus for the evangelist, church becomes most necessary, if not for their own support but so that the efforts of those that encourage the first step of the journey can be seen by those taking that step as part of the greater whole. Indeed, your call to ministry may be limited to encouraging that first step, but their call to it is most certainly not. The glory of the church is, in part, in its harnessing of the various gifts of its individual members. When we cut ourselves off from that, we cut our ministry off from it as well.

When you do evangelism you may not be calling an individual to YOUR church, but you are calling them to THE church, that is undeniable. You owe it to them and to God to get them that far.

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Illuminated Hymns

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008



John Mark Reynolds wrote recently on five books that changed his life, by C.S. Lewis. They are:

Virtually anyone who takes their faith seriously, at least over a certain age, would claim a pivotal role for Lewis' writings, I am thinking. But what makes this list fascinating to me is that with the Exception of Abolition of Man, these are all works of fiction. This fact reveals three amazing things to me: the power of image over argument, the cultural changes our image society has wrought, the futility of argument.

The power of image over argument

How many people remember the innumerable posts I have here written about the necessity of genuine and deep transformation as a necessary result of a genuine confrontation with Christ? (A truthful answer of "none" will not here hurt my feelings) But how many can remember the story of Aslan "de-dragoning" Eustace in Dawn Treader?

Our brains seem to be wired for the image/narrative, but detailed argument requires way too much energy. Christianity has survived these millennia not by virtue of argument, but by the compelling and overwhelming imagery that captured the hearts and minds of countless illiterate generations.

The cultural changes our image saturated society has wrought

The seemingly overwhelming appeal of media lies in the fact that it is, essentially imagery. This fact represents that much maligned phrase "post enlightenment." We are, I think but a generation or two away from the death of the rhetorical argument that we love so - particularly in this place of words known as the blogosphere.

The futility of argument

History is likely to show that rhetoric and argument were the blip on the radar. So what is the church to do? The answer to date has been to master the new media - to find ways to present "our message" with video and You Tube and Facebook....

But I think God has a much different idea in mind - there is only one "media" that is eternal - US! God did the whole contract, argument, words thing, it is called the covenant with Israel. It was a prelude, not to new media, but to incarnation.

Could it be that this period of words and rhetoric that we have enjoyed since the Reformation has also been prelude, not to God again incarnating, but to us finally figuring out how to let Him manifest in us? Where we finally become the message. Where our transformation is all the witness, all the argument, all the evidence another needs to understand the saving grace and the glory of Jesus Christ.

Lord, I pray for that day.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008


In Front Of The Church

Milt Stanley links to a post by Barry Maxwell comparing and contrasting the role of leader and pastor. Mil'ts pullquote is the best:
I discount "Google stats," but I thought a quick survey might help the cause. A search (as of writing) for "leadership conference church" revealed 700,000 related sites. A search for "pastors conference church" revealed 229,000 related sites. And I'm sure the advertising for leadership conferences was directed mainly at pastors. The larger church culture has (unwittingly?) shifted its emphasis from the pasture to the boardroom. Now the church no longer needs pastors, but leaders. Not shepherds, but executives.

I don't think this is merely a matter of semantics. Some might say that "leaders" are simply the new "pastors." It's a distinction without a difference in the name of cultural relevance. But any drift from biblical language is a slippery slope. For instance, "life partner" is the new "spouse." "Issues" is the new "sin." Redefining biblical words leads to redefining biblical categories. Redefining biblical categories leads to redefining the biblical community.

There is something qualitatively different about pastoring than leadership. And we do well to redefine the redefinition of the office.
There is little doubt in my mind about the essential point here. There is a huge qualititative difference between the skills, duty, and function of organizational leadership and the pastorate. That said; however, the church needs both. Not to have both courts to disaster.

A pastor lead church, short on organizational leadership, generally leads to such organizational chaos and inefficiency that volunteer leadership like myself walks away in utter frustration. The time involved to accomplish the simplest of tasks in such an environment is extraordinary. The small political fiefdoms established in organizational voids created in this environment can result in virtual civil war over even the most mundane of decisions.

On the other hand, a church with strong organizational leadership, devoid of a genuine pastoral heart strongly in front, becomes a mere dispenser of services. Such a church often loses all sense of vision other than "grow" and often becomes something akin to a cancer on the church - uncontrolled growth in which the original function of the flesh has been altogether forgotten.

Neither of these are pretty pictures, both things are needy. Rarely are these capabilities found in a single individual, and that is where the trouble starts. Even if there are efforts to build an effective team to accomplish these functions, those efforts are undermined by one little question, "Who's in charge?" But in that question also lies the answer to the problem.

You see, the key to solving this dilemma lies in the answer to that vexing question. You see, rarely is a great team assembled because someone always wants to be in charge, and people think someone should be in charge. But the church's reality is a very different thing. Christ is in charge, and WE ARE ALL anointed to work for Him.

Thus there is no struggle between the two leading roles, for both are only secondary.

From our perspective, there is only one thing needed to make this work well - Humility. Humility in knowing you are not in charge, humility in knowing your limitations, humility in knowing that the gifts of the other are significant. Humility in knowing that it is not your church, it is His.

Both roles are needed and humility is needed to make them work together well.

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Kitty Kartoons - Independence Day Edition

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Monday, June 30, 2008


The New Culture War

In my opinion, the last major social upheaval this country suffered was in the 1960's. Since then we have beign dealing with the ramifications thereof. I am wondering if there is not another one brewing. My friend Russ at Eagle and Child seems to think there is and he is working to engage it. He is calling it "Geek Culture:
"Geek culture is the subculture of high tech high flying programmers, developers, systems designers, and general tech-heads who basically rule the internet. These aren't the people who put up groups on Facebook....they're the people who build Facebook. They're a global community, connected more by shared values than by racial-ethnic ties. And they are flexing their muscle.
The studies of the latest generation - "Millenials?" show that something quite different than ever before is emerging.

Why is this a paradigm cultural shift? Well, consider further Russ' description:
Geek culture is ruthlessly libertarian. "No whining" is a mantra in many circles. Geek culture thrives on a Do it Yourself approach to life: you're smart and savvy and nothing is stopping you from building the life you want, so get busy. Quit whining and get busy. However concomitant with that "get busy" attitude is a generosity with knowledge and willingness to help. For those who are looking to improve themselves, Geek culture offers abundant advice and assistance.

Wikipedia is the prime example. You want an article there...just get off your keyster and put it up.... and then other people will help you perfect it.


The libertarian streak also entails a certain desire to be left alone. Slick salesmanship earns scorn and derision. The ethos is one of a meritocracy of ideas ... present your ideas honestly and be willing to fight for them ... in the end truth will out. Fools are not given much quarter (unless they are able make fools out of themselves in such an entertaining way that they merit repeat visits).
This will mean a huge, and I mean HUGE, change in what leadership looks like in this nation and especially in the church.

With the exception of the lack of concern for the less enlightened, this strikes me as a more Biblical means of organization that what we currently operate under. The key question is, can the church harness this kind of energy, or, will we be so threatened by the lack of central authority that this represents as to shun it?

As I said, the willingness to be dismissive is problematic. Also problematic is the often impersonal nature of these social interactions. While not exclusively "cyber" they are often distant. We need the human touch in how we do church.


Sunday, June 29, 2008


Sermons and Lessons


Lewis Orsmond Brastow, professor emeritus in Yale University; born in Brewer, Maine, March 23, 1834; graduated from Bowdoin College in 1857, and from Bangor Theological Seminary in 1860; received the degree of D.D. from Bowdoin College, and A.M. from Yale University; pastor of the South Congregational church at St. Johnsbury, Vt., from 1861 to 1873; and of the First Congregational church of Burlington, Vt., 1873-84; professor of practical theology in Yale Divinity School, 1885-1907; chaplain of the Twelfth Regiment of Vermont Volunteer Infantry in 1862 and 1863, and a member of the Vermont Constitutional Convention in 1870; author of “Representative Modern Preachers,” “The Modern Pulpit,” etc.


“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.” - 2 Cor. 4:18.

It should not be difficult to believe in an unseen world and an unseen life. Such belief is normal, for it is a product of the unperverted constitution of the human soul. And yet confessedly the whole matter is becoming invested with a large measure of uncertainty. The notion gets currency that men know only what they see, and that they only guess at what they can not see. They are forced to deal practically with the seen, and they indulge the fancy that they only consent to deal speculatively with the unseen. They have senses, and they are surrounded by objects that impress themselves upon those senses. They have material wants and what they see supplies those wants. Here are the wants and over there in the world of sense are the instruments, the agencies and the objects of supply. These are the facts with which the average man concerns himself, and he is sure that no one can deny them.

Men have business occupations. They force them to deal with what they see, what they can know about ‘and accomplish through the agency of the things that are seen seems to them to determine the practical worth of their lives. In all this they think themselves to be on solid ground. The world that is seen is very real to them. There is no possibility of delusion here. Besides, it is a pleasant thing to live.

Of course, there are hardships, but, on the whole, to most men material existence is a pleasant thing; and so it comes about, for these and other obvious reasons, that a superficial, sensuous habit of mind is fixed. The unseen life loses its hold of men because they lose their hold of it. Much that is said about it fails to reach them, and they come to regard it as wholly beyond their range. They tell us that there is a vast deal of romancing about it, which may be considerably more than half true. But why should they leap to the conclusion that therefore an invisible world is a fundamental delusion? Why should they assume that, because things that are seen are to them the only real things, they are the only things they can know, and that they are responsible only with respect to the things they thus know?

And now, as against all this, whether said or thought - and it is perhaps more often thought than said - and as against the false attitude of mind behind it, in as friendly and non-polemical a temper as is possible, I want to make a plea for the things that are unseen.

At the outset, let us note that they are, in fact, the first things. there must be some first things - things to start with. There is bottom somewhere. Things haven‘t always been just as they are now. There is somewhere a point of departure. Now these first things, things to start with, things that stand at least at the beginning of the material universe, if they do not antedate it, are either identical with and are a constituent qualitative part of the realm of the seen, or they belong to a realm that is relatively independent of it and antedates it, the realm of the unseen. The crucial question is, which human intelligence, with inconsiderable exceptions, has always referred them to the realm of the unseen. They exist before the things that are seen. If there were not already realities one can not see, there never would be things one can see. The unseen is always back of the seen. It is the vice of men’s thinking, as well as living, that they reverse the order. It is a modern fashion to undertake to get on without the presupposition of an invisible order that antedates the visible order. What we see is the first thing and the only thing. Everything unseen falls somewhere within its limits, and has no existence independently of it.

We have no knowledge of anything unseen that is not identical with and inseparable from the realm of the seen. The whole universe of real existence is crowded within its bounds. There is no personal soul, because it can not be seen. The only soul a man has is a product of material energy. There is no thought, feeling, hope, aspiration, prayer, that is not the product of material force. There is no heaven, no ideal world, because the world of visible actuality discloses no trace 0f one. There is no God, because this material world does not bring Him before their eyes, or present Him to their intelligence out of what the senses recognize. God and heaven and the soul must be found within the limits of recognized phenomena or there is none. All this is an irrational reversal of order. The unseen is first. Nothing can be adequately explained without it. Behind the commonest thing that exists there is something one can not see.

Thus the idea, the purpose, the plan of a thing is before the thing itself. This idea, purpose, plan, no one sees. One sees only the thing itself. But it is precisely what lies behind it that makes it what it is, and not something else or whatever might happen. The ideas - the patterns of things, are always in the mind to begin with, and always out of sight. If a man sees a thing that he understands - understands because it has a definite meaning and object which he can interpret, he, as by a kind of instinct, assumes that some meaning, some purpose, went into it. The plan of one’s house is in the mind before the eyes behold it; and it is the plan that makes it what it is - a structure put together for a specific, intelligible object - and not something else, or whatever might happen. A man‘s business plan for the day is before the business itself; and it is the plan that constitutes it an orderly sequence of transactions, and not a medley of blind and meaningless motions. It is the plan that one does not see. One sees only its products. There is a standard of right action. it is something that no one sees. One sees only the act. But the act would have no significance whatever apart from its reference to the standard that tests it. That is, what one sees finds all its moral character in its connection with what one can not see. It is matter of commonest experience, then, that in practical life the unseen is always before the seen. And it is worth while to pause just here for a moment to add that the thought or the plan of a thing in the mind is a different thing in kind, belongs to a different realm of substances, from the thing itself as recognized by the senses. There is no similarity in kind, no substantive likeness between a man‘s business acts and their practical results and the place of his business in the mind; or between the materials of his houses and the conception of the house, as he has thought it out. And until it can be shown that the idea of a thing may be defined in precisely the same terms that define the thing itself, men are bound to acknowledge that the unseen part of a thing is of a different order and substance from the visible product itself. A man’s thought must be defined in different terms from the visible products of them.

Now, let it be remembered that the visible universe must have had some sort of beginning. No matter by what process the things we see began to be, whether the process of their becoming was sudden or slow and gradual enough that they began to be. That beginning presupposes something that started it, and that something belongs to a realm behind, above and superior to it, and it is an invisible realm. What we see is matter - if, indeed, we do see much of it anyhow - which is an open question. But at any rate, we see nothing else. What lies behind the universe we can not see. And what is it? Is it some blind, brute, invisible energy, of which one can know nothing? Is it unintelligible and unknowable? If the material universe were itself utterly unintelligible, then one might call the energy behind it unintelligible with some show of reason. But if we can understand anything about the things we see, if we can trace any, order, any plan, any adaptation of means to ends, if the universe has any meaning whatever to us, then we certainly find the traces of thought in it. The thought that enters our minds concerning it answers to the thought that went into it. Things that have intelligent plan are thought out. And things that are intelligently thought out have an intelligent origin. What has thought in it has mind back of it; and a planning mind is a self-conscious mind; and a self-conscious mind is a personal mind - and that yields the primal conception of God.

An invisible God is before a visible universe. The seen is a product of the unseen. In the fullest and best sense, I can believe in what I see only as I believe in what I can not see. If I am constrained to believe in this reality - of the material universe—I am constrained to believe in the existence and priority of God.

And that brings me to note that things unseen are, in fact, the real things. If they are the first things, of course they are the real things. If God is before the world and if He made it, He is far more real than His handiwork. The reality of things made is conditioned by the reality of the maker. If an ideal world exists in the order of thought and of time before the actual world of sense, it is, in the truest sense, the more real world. If mind exists before matter, mind is the reality and matter is real only as conditioned by it. What men call reality is often, in fact, only a show. It is easy to confound seeming with reality. It is important to know what is real and what is only phenomenal. What seems belongs only to the outside of things. What is real belongs to the inside. One fancies that what he sees is the only real thing because he sees it. But what, in fact, does one see? He sees only the surface of it. If he gets hold of anything more, it is the mind not the eyes that gets into contact with it. And that more lies utterly beyond the reach of the eyes; it is entirely invisible. Here is a book one opens and reads. Now what takes place? Certain impressions are made upon the retina of the eye. These sensations travel inward a certain distance and then, as sensations, stop. As physical sensations, they get no farther. By a process which no man knows and perhaps no man ever will know, they utterly change their character and are transmuted from sensations into thoughts. ‘Well, now, if there be nothing more than what one has seen in the book, it has no meaning. It is a mass of paper, printer’s ink and unintelligible marks that are not even signs. If there be nothing in the reader behind his physical sensations, what he sees will remain only a mass of physical sensations that will leave no result in his intelligence. The book is a mass of unintelligible color and form. It is only a show. It has no reality, because it has no meaning. It is not the impression made on the senses that is the real thing; it is not the outside but the inside that is the real thing. It is not letters or words or sounds, but thought, that is the reality of language. Without ideas, which no man sees, what we call language were only a jargon - a nothingness of sounds. Mind is the reality of language. What the book contains makes it a book, and not a mass of paper, printer’s ink, and type. The reality of anything is found in its significance. If it have no meaning, it has no reality. It is a phantom show. The Buddhist regards the material universe as only a fan-tom of the unreality. It is all unreal to him - a passing show.

We are no other than a moving row
Of magic shadow shapes that come and go,
Round with this sun-illumined lantern held
In midnight by the Master of the show.

Impotent pieces in the game he plays
Upon his checker-board of nights and days,
Hither and thither moves and checks and slays,
And one by one back into the closet lays.

And that inverted bowl we call the sky.
Whereunder crawling, cooped, we live and die,
Lift not your hands to it for help—for it
As impotently rolls as you or I.

And what wonder? He has lost the key. It can mean nothing to him. He has lost God. The Master of the show that holds the magic shadow-shapes is as unreal as the shapes themselves. He has no wisdom, no benevolence, no intelligence. What can be the meaning and the end of a world that has no creator? What wonder that the Buddhist fancies life a sort of wandering sea - restless and aimless! What wonder that for him the problem of existence is to get out of conscious insignificance into unconscious nothingness! What wonder that he knows no higher bliss than to be extinguished!

This universe is God’s book. If it be not this, will you tell me what it is? What you read in it, not what you see at the surface of it, secures for it reality. To any man who looks only at the outside of the world and lives only in its shows it will be unreal. It will be a hollow world, whatever his theory about it. The man whom we call a worldling is the man who lives on the outside of things - in its shows and not in its realities. Such a man can not know much about this world. He may fancy that he does, but he is mistaken. He may seem to be a worldly-wise man, but he does not get at the inner reality of the world in which he lives. He is an unreal character. The unreality of his life makes him such.

You can not see God, nor heaven, nor eternity, nor the soul; but they are far more real than anything you can see. You can not define them in terms that define matter, but they give it whatever best significance it has; and apart from them, it were not better, even at its best, than the mud of the streets or the dust of the desert.

I see an old friend who is mourning for the beloved taken from his side. He says to me: “The world is insignificant, it amounts to nothing.” And I make answer: “Yes, save as it is held in connection with an invisible and a higher world and so interpreted and understood and evaluated.” And he replies with that tone of weariness and disheartenment with which we are becoming so familiar in our day: “We know little or nothing about that other world.” And again I answer: “Little, indeed, about its details, but something surely about its simple outline reality. That other world is as real as this world. In a sort, it is even more so; for it is the ideal world that exalts the real world, and it is this ideal world that is, therefore, the truly real one.” If God and that higher world and life were more real to men, this world and life would be more real. They could not be insignificant and contemptible. If a man loses his hold of the unseen, he will lose what is best in his own earthly life. The world is hollow without God. Earthly life is indeed insignificant without a heavenly life beyond. Worldliness is unreality. Only the things that are unseen are the primal and regulative realities.

And so we come to note that the things that are unseen are the controlling things. They command us, and they ought to control us. They have the authority, and they ought to have the power. All legitimate ultimate authority belongs to the unseen realm. If the seen masters a man, it usurps authority. No man can rightly be mastered by his senses. Every civilized man knows that he should not allow his senses to tyrannize over him. You never saw a man that had a particle of self-respect left who was willing to proclaim outright: “I propose to give full rein to my sensuous propensities. I mean to let the material world dominate me.” Such a man proclaims his own degradation and ruin. He is a lost man, and it will take a mighty power to save him. If there is a relic of manhood left in any man, he will revolt from degradation to a merely animal and material life.

The problem of life is, after all, simple. It is this: “Which shall control you - the seen or the unseen?” The struggle of life is here. If the people about us are mastered by their senses, mastered by a shallow and gross materialism, as they are, they know hotter. No man becomes a sensualist, or materialist, or world-monger and keeps a good conscience. It is sin to be mastered by the seen. The first sinner in that old Biblical story, so full of profound significance, was mastered by the seen rather than the unseen. Sense and conscience contended for the mastery, and sense won. But the man was dishonored. The fall of man is his descent into subordination to a sensuous life. The redemption of man is his recovery to the realm of the spirit, the realm of the invisible. Religion is identified with the realm of the unseen, and the claims of religion are the claims of the unseen; and so long as it truly represents the unseen, it is only religion that can save the world. When it panders to the visible and material, it becomes idolatry, and its power is broken. The purity of religion is in its faithful devotion to an invisible ideal, and its power is realized through faith and not through sight. The claims of religion are rational. They are simply this: What is first and most real and authoritative should control you. God keeps the realities of religion before us in order that the unseen order may control us. It is religion - it is a practical recognition of the supreme invisible ideal that rescues the world from the abyss of materialism. In every variety of ways, God is trying to keep the realities of an invisible world and life open to us. The end of all our worship, of all our sacraments, the end of all grace and all severity, the end of all our suffering amid our dying, is to keep this unseen world and life and all unseen powers before the soul. And the noblest characters of human history have been controlled by the unseen. The noblest lives have been shaped by it. A Being whom our eyes have never seen on earth and shall never see, has ruled the best part of the world for almost two thousand years. Jesus Christ is more commanding amid controlling in influence, that the world has not seen Him and can not see him. If we should see Him, we should probably degrade Him. It was expedient for this world that He should go. The world knows him best unseen. And it may be that those of our friends whom we love best and whom we have “lost a while” are far more influential with us for good that they have gone from us into the unseen world. Elisha, in that strange Old Testament story, wanted a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, and Elijah named what seems at first a singular, but when we come to think of it, after all, a natural condition. Let him behold the prophet - his spiritual father - depart and it should come. The unique sphere of the prophet is the realm of the invisible. Elijah translated is a greater power than Elijah in the flesh. And so God often lets us behold our beloved pass into the unseen world that, rapt from our sight, a mightier influence may come upon us.

The best race of history worshiped an un¬seen God. It was the realm of the unseen that made Hebrewism what it was. Only when the visible supplanted the invisible in the grand old worship was it corrupted and shorn of its power. The prophet-souls have always been men of the invisible. Faith in the Unseen has mastered them. God has been more real, in a sort, than the world, the unseen future and the unseen “city that hath foundations whose builder and maker is God” have been, in a sort, more real than the visible present, and faith has been more real and more potent than sight.

The unseen has doubtless been too often a dark and tyrannical power. The sinful and ignorant soul has stocked it with all mischiefs. Superstition has often displaced religion. But the fact still remains that it has been a great and ennobling power in the lives of men, and that even in the lower and more degraded forms of religion, it has not been without its uplift from the beginning until now.

It is the unseen realm that abides. “The things that are unseen are eternal.” Nothing else abides. The fact is set and kept before us continually. Every change, every loss and disappointment, proclaims it. Strange that what goes so speedily, so easily, so suddenly, should be so important, so real, so controlling! It marks a singular perversion in our nature that it is so. Men are saying: “What I sec is to me the only reality”; and yet its very transitoriness should remind them that there must be somewhere some reality behind it or beyond it or it is the veriest mockery of unreality. How can a man call the property, to the acquisition of which he devotes all his energies and which may slip from him at any moment, in the highest sense a real thing? How can he call the visible form of his friend the only or chief reality as related to his friendship, when he knows that this friend may, at any hour, pass from his gaze? Surely the properties and the friends we see and may lose at any moment must stand for unseen realities of far greater importance and value. These unseen realities that abide ought to be the priceless realities just because they abide. That they do abide is involved in what they are. If God and heaven and eternity and the soul with all its higher powers are realities at all, they abide just because they are what they are; and we need familiarity with these unseen realities in order to realize the transitoriness of the seen. The man who lives wholly in his senses, will live as if this world were to last forever. It is the one who lives above them that will live otherwise. You can not fatally disappoint the man who knows that the things that are seen are temporal. He is the man that knows this world. But the one who never gets used to the changes and losses of life because he does not like them and will not accept them, is doomed to perpetual disappointment.

Those who live wholly in the seen are al¬ways cheating themselves. They want what they see to last. But it is a very unaccommodating world. It does not last and was not made to last. Yet men persist in living as tho it were to endure, and so at last they feel themselves deluded and mocked and even wronged. A man may say, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” but the fact is, that he does not expect to die tomorrow, nor the next day, nor for an indefinite time to come, lie clings to life, and death is his last and bitterest disappointment. We need to be familiar with the unseen if we would get wonted to the solemn realities of a transitory life. Let a man live that life which is in its nature eternal, the life that is unseen, the “life that is hid with Christ in God,’’ and he will not know the disppointments of this transitory sphere. He will not live as if time were eternity. He will know this world for what it is and what it is worth.

But we need also to be reminded. and often startlingly, of the transitoriness of the seen in order to make us more familiar with the unseen, and more completely committed to it. And God is not slow to furnish such re¬minders. The language of all change, all loss, all disappointment, the language of sickness and pain and death, is a double language. It says: “The things that are seen are, indeed, temporal; but the things that are unseen are eternal.” God says: “I take what you see that I may give you what you can not see. I substitute the invisible for the visible. I take your beloved from before your eyes that I may give him back to your soul, more beloved, more precious, yea, more real than ever before. I take your property that I may substitute for it character more precious than gold, yea, than much fine gold.” To interpret all this, to know the true mean¬ing of this world, to know the inner meaning of our life, to know it in all its wondrous greatness and glory, with all its loss and pain and sorrow and darkness, its bewildering con¬fusion and its final death, we need religion; we need immediate contact with God; we need the vision of the unseen; need culture of the “faith talent,” of the religious instinct and impulses; need to live more in meditation of and fellowship with super-worldly realities, that so God may meet us and teach us and strengthen us and lift us up.

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