Saturday, September 20, 2008


Comic Art

As we continue today to examine the denizens of Asgard (Marvel) and The New Gods (DC) the greatest creations of the Master Jack Kirby we get an overwhelming sense of Deja Vu. We look today at one of the few trolls of Asgard to have a name - Ulik. Take a close look at the face of Ulik in this first Kirby drawn cover. Look familiar? What about the New God Character Kalibak? Well, I certainly think the resemblance remarkable, but then it is just a cool look so who can blame Kirby for reusing it when he moved to DC.

It's not like other artists don't do the same thing. Look at the lower most rendering of Ulik below from an artist unknown. Looks a whole lot like Wolverine (mask off) to me!

It should be noted that Asgardian trolls do not necessarily live under bridges and demand riddles or tolls for passage, they are just big, mean, ugly, strong and have a really bad attitude. They are opponents for Thor. I mean let's face it, when you are a god, you have to work pretty hard to come up with worthy opposition. (Could that have been commentary on Superman when Lee/Kirby came up with Thor? Sure!)

It is interesting that the trolls figured big when Kirby was pretty much shaping the Thor book, but the trolls became pure background after that. Of course, all of Asgard became background after that as Thor moved very much to Midgard (Earth) on a nearly full time basis.

One of the beauties of the New Gods was they did not have to travel back and forth to Earth to involve us in the story - a seemingly necessary narrative element to the genre.

I, for one, want more Tales of Asgard - really, seriously.

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Friday, September 19, 2008


What I Want!

Jollyblogger recently reprinted a large introductory section to a book, introducing it with these words:
I don't want to be an uncompassionate jerk, nor do I want to overstate my case. But I think Jabay is basically right when he locates the majority of our problems in egoism, in god-playing, in our sworn allegiance to the kingdom of self.
I would take this much farther - I would say "our sworn allegiance to the kingdom of self" is in fact a pretty good definition of sin, and I hope any good Christian would identify sin as the root of our problems.
Gen 3:1-5 - Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?"

And the woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.'"

And the serpent said to the woman, "You surely shall not die! "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
(NAS) [emphasis added]
The very definition of sin is putting ourselves in God's place, in our minds, in our lives, and in the world. Consider the example given to us:
Phil 2:3-8 - Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not {merely} look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
One of the reasons I spent so much time on this blog discussing the church's efforts to near-pander to the demands of the culture to attract people is that our message is precisely the opposite. Our message is one of self-sacrifice and self-denial.

We are created to be first God-centric and then other-centric. When we are self-centric we are denying our very created nature. No wonder we are unhappy.

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Friday Humor

Things you wish you could say at work:

1. Ahhh...I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again...
2. I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce!
3. How about never? Is never good for you?
4. I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public
5. I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to worship me.
6. I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.
7. I'm out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message.
8. I don't work here. I'm a consultant.
9. It sounds like English, but I can't understand a word you're saying.
10. I can see your point, but I still think you're full of crap.
11. I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.
12. You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.
13. I have plenty of talent and vision. I just don't care..
14. I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
15. I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you.
17. The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist.
18. Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.
19. What am I? Flypaper for freaks!?
20. I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.
21. It's a thankless job, but I've got a lot of Karma to burn off.
22. Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial.
23. No, my powers can only be used for good.
24. You sound reasonable. Time to up the medication.
26. And your crybaby whiny-butt opinion would be...?
27. Do I look like a people person?
28. This isn't an office. It's Hell with fluorescent lighting.
29. I started out with nothing & still have most of it left.
31. You!...Off my planet!
32. Does your train of thought have a caboose?
33. Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.
34. A PBS mind in an MTV world.
35. Allow me to introduce my selves.
36. Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.
37. Well, this day was a total waste of makeup.
38. Not all men are annoying. Some are dead.
40. I'm trying to imagine you with a personality.
41. A cubicle is just a padded cell without a door.
42. Stress is when you wake up screaming & you realize you haven't fallen asleep yet.
43. Can I trade this job for what's behind door #3 ?
44. Too many freaks, not enough circuses.
45. Nice perfume. Must you marinate in it?
46. Chaos, panic, & disorder - my work here is done.
47. How do I set a laser printer to stun?
48. I thought I wanted a career,turns out I just wanted the paychecks.
49. If I throw a stick, will you leave?
50. Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008


The Measure

Milt Stanley links to a J.D. Hatfield post on the role of emotions and the charismata in a life with Christ. Consider:
Repentance, not sacrifice, is what God wants; read Isaiah chapter 1. Reformation of character, not revival of charisma is the call of God. Too often we are equating spiritual revival with emotional displays, without seeing (permanently as opposed to temporarily) transformed lives. The fruit of the Spirit is the tell tale sign, not emotionalism, and not even gifts. Actually, the fruit of the Spirit often may involve a lack of personal passion (i.e. showing patience, self-control). Emotional feeling cannot be the measure of a deepening relationship with God; the Bible declares the measure to be the fruit. You can’t display all those in a one-hour service each week. These are things measured over time in the test tube of life, and manifest in the day-to-day walk, irrespective of any emotional component.
The piece is largely an argument on the charismata and the basic argument, "Repentance, not sacrifice, is what God wants;" is absolutely right on. But there are a couple of points to be made here. First to equate charismatic expression with emotional outbursts is a mistake. Charismatic expression is indeed an emotional experience, but they are not an equation - co-existence does not mean equality. While it is true that many do seek the charisma for the emotional "high" they produce, using such an equation runs the risk of throwing out the baby with the bath water. Scripture is clear - there is a place and a role for the gifts in our faith life, to argument against them is to argue against scripture. Better to argue for their proper role in our lives.

Second point - The argument against emotionalism and in favor of genuine, often passion-limited, transformation is so valid that it needs to be extended beyond simply the confusion of charismata and emotion. Consider the emotional high produced by a particularly good praise time in service - or from a summer camp experience - or a short term mission experience - or just attending an evangelistic crusade.

The emotional response to the gospel, motivates, but it is no substitute. When we, in an effort to capitalize of the "easy sale" that emotional response provides, neglect the true depth and transformative power of the gospel, we represent something short of the gospel. We offer a poor substitute.

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Churches Of Our Travels

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008



Now THIS is news!

Toilet-paper researchers create 3-ply tissue

and all the world's problems were resolved...


And I Cried...

K-Lo links to London Telegraph and a story about the misdiagnosis of Persistent Vegetative State. (Remeber Terri Schiavo?)
The biggest, most tragic clinical myth about brain injury today is that PVS can be reliably diagnosed by bedside observation alone. It has in fact been known for at least a decade, ever since a key survey of brain-injured patients, that misdiagnosis of the condition runs at more than 40%, a statistic originally calculated by Professor Keith Andrews, former head of the Putney hospital, and confirmed by recent surveys in Europe and North America. This means that valuable rehabilitation strategies are routinely neglected, and misdiagnosed patients end up on unsuitable wards or in care homes where their needs are neither understood nor met.
Now that is in the UK, in the US, such patients may be starved to death!

There is so much that could be commented upon about this story, but I shall limit myself to one area. WE DON'T KNOW - so much. It is the nature of things that we often have to make important decisions in an information void, but can we really afford to make death-dealing decisions in such a void unless there is unanimity?

I have written before about how carefully I was "handled" when these decisions were confronted with my father and he was a much more straightforward case that PVS. The flow of information to me was carefully controlled. Fortunately, I am just smart enough to get what I needed on my own. Unbeknownest to the doctors caring for my dad, I had been on the phone to specialists around the country - personal friends actually.

The Schiavo case comes to mind. The problem there was simple disagreement amongst those that loved Terri. I fail to understand why in the face of such disagreement, and the face of so many open question and possible mis-information, we cannot create a default to life.

There really needs to be a fundamental change in how this is done legally in this nation. The essential legal question is "who gets to decide?" This is in essence a question that floats around "Who is going to pay?" A question that still applies in a disputed situation. If we make the laws such that there is a default to life in a dispute, who will pay to maintain the life? Hopefully the party favoring life, but if they cannot, that is one tax I am willing to pay.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008



MMI reprints (mostly) a Rick Warren column from Christian Post in which Warren threatens a "new reformation." In what I consider a bit of rhetorical slight of hand, Warren then goes on to discuss "5 stages of renewal" - which is a very different thing than "reformation."

Having picked that nit, there is some value to this. Warren discusses how this change happens in stages. He begins with this:
1. Personal Renewal: It starts with the heart. If God is going to renew your church, he’ll begin it with you – and then it has to continue with the rest of your church. You might call it rededicating your life, being filled with the Spirit, or the “deeper life.” I don’t care what you call it. Just get it! Pastor, the bottom line is this – you need to fall in love with Jesus again. Do that and all of a sudden it’s not about religion and rituals; it’s about a relationship with Jesus. You realize that Jesus doesn’t just love you, but he likes you.

2. Relational Renewal: After you get right with God, you’ve got to get right with others. Jesus told us this. He told us to love God with all of our heart and then love others as ourselves. When you have relational renewal in your church, the gossip goes down and the joy goes up.

How do you know when a church has been through relational renewal? People hang around longer after the service. They want to spend time together. If people don’t want to hang around after your services, you have a performance not a church. The church is more than content; it’s a community.
So close - so close.

Personal piety is where it all begins. But then he blows it with the whole relational thing. Relationship is the means by which the personal piety is spread. It's not about gossip and being buds, it's about accountability and depth and discipleship.

The other five steps Warren presents go on to discuss the church. Here is the problem with the hierarchy here presented - it is about the church, but the church exists to serve, we do not exist to serve the church. In fact, that confusion is what lead to the Reformation to begin with!

Personal renewal is the highest thing that the church can aspire to. The church is a tool to achieve that end, one blessed soul at a time. The church is built only as people are built.

It is not as if we are building a building and the people are the bricks. Rather, we are building bricks and the church is the brick factory. Then the product, the bricks go out and build other things, chief amongst them, other brick factories. But even when they build something other than a brick factory, they build it out of bricks which makes it better than any other competitive thing made of lesser material.

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Monday, September 15, 2008


Are You Hospitable?

Mark Daniels reprinted one of his sermons a while back on the value of hospitality
Years later, by then a longtime member of the congregation I’d been called to start, told me that as she prepared the glass of ice water for me, she remembered words of Jesus that are our Gospel lesson for this morning: “ even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple--truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

That woman believed that by welcoming me in Jesus’ Name, she was welcoming Jesus Himself. As His words in today’s Gospel lesson indicate, Jesus agrees with her.

Hospitality--for all people--is at the core of our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. It begins with God’s welcome of us. We know that we’re like the prodigal son in Jesus’ famous story. We’ve tried to make our way in the world and even when we’ve achieved success, we’ve experienced an emptiness that can only be filled by the God we know in Jesus. Like the father in that same story, God has welcomed us back.

This theme of hospitality is then, Jesus says, to be replicated in our own lives as we welcome others. The New Testament book of Hebrews, tells us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)
When I read that, I could not help but think of my friend Russ Smith's dive into "geek culture" - best described as a libertarian meritocracy. As our society moves more and more towards individualism and more and more towards a near isolationism of the individual - the call to hospitality becomes the preeminent message of our day, and one unlikely to be heard.

Can a mega-church be hospitable? Can any large scale institution? The answer is, "NO." And yet, we see these things grow. Small hardware stores where the proprietor knows you well enough to hand you what you are looking for when you walk in the door are dying - being pushed out by the Lowes and Home Depots of the world where it take ten minutes to find and another 20 minutes to check out with a simple 12-oz framing hammer. Why does our society accept such things?

Because it allows us our freedom. In churches we can come and go without accountability. In her later years, but before she reached the complete disability she now suffers from, my mother refused dinner invitations because she could not bear the return invitation obligation implicit in acceptance. Being hospitable places an obligation on both those giving it and those receiving it. Institutions like Home Depot and the mega-church spring up because they avoid that obligation and people therefore feel "freer" to pursue their own personal agendas.

Yet in Christ we are called to be His instruments of change in the lives of those around us. In hospitality He has given us a powerful and non-confrontational tool for that calling.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008


Sermons and Lessons


Professor of systematic theology, New College, Edinburgh, 1904- 1931; born October 31, 1870; educated Neilson Institution, Paisley; Tam Royal Academy; George Watson’s College, Edinburgh; Edinburgh University; New College, Edinburgh; Universities of Freiburg, Halle and Marburg; entered the ministry of the Free Church of Scotland, 1896; assistant to the Rev. Charles Watson, D.D., of Largs, 1896,7; minister of Tayport, 1897-1901; Beechgrove church, Aberdeen, 1901-04; author of translation (joint) of Ritschl’s “Justification and Reconciliation,” of Loof’s “Anti-Haeckel,” edited with Prof. Caldecott “Selections from the Literature of Theism.”


"Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”Col. 3:3.

No one can suppose a saying like this to be addrest indiscriminately to the world at large. The class of persons whom it indicates, the audience who will grasp and appreciate its meaning, is limited in kind. It is not that the text is obscure. It is not that it belongs to an age so far away from ours. It is not that it raises needless barriers. Only it takes for granted that we have passed through a great experience, and that this experience has brought us into a new world. In short, it touches as very few verses even of the Bible do the vital source and center of the Christian life. It tells the open secret of discipleship, and lays its finger on the pulse of personal religion.

Now there is something remarkable in the calmness with which Paul utters this great truth. Is it not one of the plain marks of its higher origin upon the Bible that it speaks of the most stupendous themes with this quiet, assured power, with the composure of eternity? When men get hold of a great idea, or an idea that seems to them great, how they fret and fume over it, raising such a dust and commotion as if the like of the new theory had never been heard. But few things are more wonderful than the calm, strong tranquility of the apostles. The message they brought was not a message of their own. The gospel was not their happy discovery. Hence they did not need to claim a place for it with loud protest and urgency, as though jealous that their voices should be drowned amid the countless voices of the world. It was the truth of God; so that their simple duty was to make it known, and it would do its own work and bear its own witness. With the same quiet, sure restraint of tone Paul says to his readers now: “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” He is so certain of it that he needs no appeal or argument. For him the Christian‘s hidden life is a thing so real and substantial that proof may be dispensed with. Like the beauty of the sunlight, like the sweet freshness of morning, it is not an inference at all; it is the clear presupposition on which everything rests. It is the great immovable fact on which we take our stand, and look out from it with settled faith over the moving scene of the world and up to the glory that shall follow.

We have a wonderful proof of the power of Christianity to touch hearts and change lives in the fact that Paul should have felt it possible to write thus to people whose home was Colossae. Colossae was no worse, perhaps, than the average Asian city of the time, but it can hardly have been much better. And a few years before the idea of sending a message like this to any of the inhabitants of the place would have been a sad irony. So it was a year or two back, but mark the difference now. In the meantime, the gospel of Christ had come, and the tide of its power and joy was flowing thro their lives. All things had become new. They were risen with Christ now, and the very springs of their being were hid with Him in God. Once their life had no hidden depths about it at all; it had all been shallow, specious, concerned with the surface only, busy about things that mattered little, infinitely occupied with trifles, running to waste pathetically over poor and passing aims. But the grace of God had called them, as it calls us. into a new life. In that old barren experience wells had been sunk, and now fountains of living water were springing up clear and fresh. Mines of infinite wealth had been opened in what before had seemed an unprofitable land, and the gold and precious stones of faith and hope and love were being yielded now. Once they had been content with a poor, starveling, hand-to-mouth morality, always precarious, always unequal to any sharp and sudden strain; but to-day their best stores of power, and their deepest springs of joy, were away far and beyond the reach of sorrow or temptation, because held and guarded by Christ in the unseen.

Believers leave the old life behind them. “Ye are dead,” Paul says to these Colossians; or even, as it is in stricter accuracy, ye died.” Sometimes the passage of a soul into the kingdom of God is like the flight of a bird in its swiftness. It arrives as the revolution of a moment. “Within ten paces, as I walked, life was transformed to me,” says one to whom the change had happened thus. We lie down some night our old selves, and ere we sleep again the great disclosure has broken on the soul. Yet in itself the text says nothing of this suddenness. It speaks of an event in the past; it does not describe it as either swift or slow. Men may die swiftly, and men may die slowly; it matters nothing, when they have wakened on “the immortal side of death.” When the ship comes to the equator, no visible line is there which all see as they cross over; yet in point of fact the crossing is made; they pass from the one hemisphere into the other. So when God‘s eye reads our past many things stand clear before Him which it was not given to us to perceive. He has watched the rise and progress of our life in Christ from the beginning. And where to our eyes there showed nothing but a gentle imperceptible advance, He, it well might be, may discern a cleavage, sharp as though made by a scimitar, between the old life and the new. The best metaphor to illustrate this change that Paul can think of is the passage from one world to another which we name death.

You see the thought which is moving in his mind. Union to Christ Jesus produces a moral and spiritual transfiguration analogous to death and resurrection. At death the soul does not cease to be; rather by the great transition it enters a new environment, like the buds rising through the sod in spring. Just so in regeneration the soul does not lose its identity, but its attachment to Christ lifts it into a new and higher realm. He died for sin - to break its power, to undo the awful ruin, to rectify the wrong: we, through Him, die to sin, in response to His holiness, caught up and borne on by His power, compelled by His love. It is not that we become sinless. We are under no such delusion. But whatever sin remains, we still may have the glad and honest certainty that our fixed desire and choice are now one in will with the will of Jesus Christ. He has made us new creatures, in whom the tyranny of sin is broken. He has given us a new self, the only self worth having or worth keeping. And formidable as the world, the flesh, and the devil are, we know that from this time on there is a Brother beside us in the battle, and a Presence within us that will be ours for ever and ever. So through Him, lives that were so hopeless will become blest; the barren will become fruitful, and the weak strong. The old life dies on the birthday of faith.

Brethren, surely it is a great thing to have this settled once for all. The old life is dead; its day is over. The channels in which its waters used of old to flow may still at times seem to run as freely as ever; but the parent spring is failing, and one day it will have ceased, to flow no more again. You who have the new heart, but are sadly opprest by the old, remember that. Do not say that the conflict avails nothing. If holiness and faith in you have never ceased to wrestle with sin and doubt, it is the greatest triumph you could win. And besides, the battle is not to be unending. Your hour of victory, final and complete, and drawing ever nearer, is marked for you on God’s plan. Some day - as surely as once you crossed the line that severs Christ from sin, and chose your side with Him for ever - some day you will overcome, and the crown of perfect righteousness will be set upon your head.

Note, secondly. the Christian’s hidden life. “Your life is hid with Christ.” There is something in every true disciple, even the meekest and plainest, which it would tax the wisest onlooker to account for. You cannot explain the Christian character by anything that shows upon the surface. To unveil the secret of it you must go down into the buried depths, beneath a man‘s common words and thoughts. Frequently, as you cross a highland moor, your come upon a bright streak of green, winding in and out among the heather, its pure and shining verdure in strange relief against the dull brown of its surroundings. What can it be, you ask? How came it there? Whence rises the sap to feed this soft ribbon of elastic turf? There is a tiny stream below; a nil of sweet water flowing down there out of sight, only hinting its presence by the greenness and beauty above. So the springs of Christian life are hidden - hidden with Christ in God.

For one thing, they are hidden from the unchristian world; but I will not speak much of this. Something mysterious and inscrutable must always appear to a man of the world in those who live by faith in the Son of God. He may merely wonder at the mystery, or he may resent it, but he is always conscious of its presence. And when he asks himself how personal religion is to be accounted for, any explanation but the right one often will suffice. Fear, self-interest, hoary tradition, weak delusion - we know the theories by which outsiders have sought to explain Christian faith, and by the explanation to rob it of its power. It has always been their plan. Even of the Master they whispered, “He is beside himself “; and of the apostles, with the fire and life of Pentecost throbbing in their veins, they deemed it enough to say, “These men are full of new wine.” All that the believer can plead - and how much it is! - of aid sent him in temptation, or light that visits him in darkness, or consolations that draw the poison out of bitter grief, is counted a tale of little meaning. The existence of all that deep life is not perceived. The Christian secret is a secret from the world.

But more than this may be said. There is some profounder meaning here. For my text declares, or, at least, it implies, does it not, that a believer‘s deepest life is somehow a secret from himself? Is this not so at the origin and birth of religion in the soul, when the Spirit quickens the dead to life? “The wind bloweth where it listeth; thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth“ - thou canst not tell; no, not though it be in thy heart that it is blowing! Regeneration makes us God‘s in a deeper fashion than we dream. And if it be so at the first, it is so ever after. Today men of science are obviously moving about in worlds not realized, among half-comprehended forces which only now and then flash an isolated token of their nature into the realm of knowledge. Do we not see that the same holds good of the experience of every true believer in Christ? He sees and loves the fruits that spring from fellowship with God, and in his own heart he knows the joy of it; but the roots go far down out of sight. He is conscious that God is offering him grace and love each day, and bringing him to respond with trust and longing; but how the two, the grace and trust, meet and mingle in his soul, he cannot tell. He knows that communion with God sets his mind perfectly at rest, and that this strange inward power is never so effectual as just in the midst of distress; but the rationale of it all is beyond him. He can feel the power of Christ resting upon him, raising him, above himself, turning his very weakness into strength; but how it comes to pass he knows not, or as little as he does the relations of soul and body. He can say what the causes are, he cannot say how the causes work. His life in Christ, at its deepest, is hidden in a measure from himself.

‘What is this but to say that the sources of our very life are in Christ’s keeping, not in ours? He guards for us the springs of faith and love. The reservoir in which our supplies are stored is yonder, not here; and enough for each day‘s necessity is given. All that Christ has, He has for those who love Him; and one sometimes imagines that His greatest sorrow, if perchance He sorrows still, must be that we draw upon Him so sparingly, with the fear lest we are asking too much. Cases of hallucination have been known in which men who had a fortune in the bank dreamed they were paupers, and could hardly be got to draw a check for the essentials of life; and one is reminded of them now and then by our own neglect of the treasures laid up in Jesus Christ. Never judge of your Redeemer‘s grace and power by what you have yet received from Him. Had you suffered Him, He would have done far more. And if He has not done it, the reason always is not that Christ is less bountiful than we believed, but that our heart is much shallower and our faith far less open and simple than it might be.

But if a Christian is thus in direct correspondence with the infinite nature of Christ, it follows that he is a man with great reserves of power. Like some great commercial houses. which have the more in the warehouse the less there is of open display, a believing life is a far richer thing than it seems. You have noticed how the secret of the charm and power of certain pictures lies in the suggestion they give of a wide, illimitable background, in which eye and fancy lose themselves as we gaze; and the same subtle impression clings about everyone whose character is rooted in the love of God. God in Christ is the great background of the life of faith. Yet how often worldly men have taken a simple, quiet Christian at an utterly false valuation, and deemed him weak because he is unpretending. They gathered round him with their promises and threats, looking for his fall as a thing of course; yet within that soul there were hidden stores of fearless power they never dreamed of, and the foiled assault drew back as harmless as the waves that fall from the rock shattered into spray. What is the reason? It is that his life is hid with Christ in God. He has access, and we all have access, to the comforts of a love so deep and broad and high that it passeth knowledge. And the task of the Christian is so to walk before men that they shall say: “There must be springs in such a life. That steady, sustained gladness and peace could not be without roots somewhere.” Thus the experience that came from Christ must be employed to point men back to Christ again, and the circle of believing witness return to glorify Him who made it what it is.

Then, besides that, the sources of our life, thus being hid in Christ, are protected against dispeace and trouble. Here, it is true, we must distinguish between what goes on upon the surface and that which is passing in the depths. Take the experience of any Christian man, and even after a close study you might be tempted to think it very like that of anyone else. The believer is not spared the common vicissitudes of life. Like his neighbor, he must enter the struggle of business and bear its disappointments, lie, too, may know what it is to labor long in hope, and wait in vain for the harvest that never comes. He, too, must bear the pain of suspense and daily care, and perplexity of conscience, and fear for those he loves. He, too, may feel the weight of the dread law of God which rends loving hearts asunder and makes havoc of our plans. All this is true, and more; it is the common lot of man. But yet, let us remember with thankfulness and proclaim it with joy - this, though it were multiplied and intensified a hundredfold, need not touch the true life seated in the depths of the heart. The storm may rage upon the coast, yet not a breath of its fury reach the sequestered valley that sleeps in the bosom of the hills. The ocean surface may be torn and buffeted by billows that race from shore to shore, and all the while the untroubled depths be still. And just so, amid his cares and occupations, and even his adversity, the believer may have a mind at perfect peace; for his life, his true life, the life that really makes the man, is hid with Christ in God. And this is our unspeakable privilege, this is the perpetual miracle we may put in force, that it is open to us to fall back upon this indestructible peace. In a moment, without a sound, wherever we are, we can pass from the street into the sanctuary, from the world into the presence of our Lord; and there find our true life, calm and safe with Him.

The life that is hid with Christ is not to be hidden for ever. It is hidden thus, because Christ is yonder and we are here. But like the bud that sleeps in its sheath and waits for the call of the spring, the life of the man of faith is big with promise. One day the secret will be out. The vestments that wrapped it round will be taken off, for the present is but a stage that passes. When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we also ap¬pear with Him in glory.

Take an instance. Take the life of one of our countrymen in India. Soldier perhaps, or missionary, or merchant, he labors on with brain and hand, doing his work as only a true man can. But his home - his home is in Scotland. Those he loves best of all are there; and where a man’s treasure is, there will his heart be also. He would scorn to neglect his duty; yet all the time his true life is circling not round the routine of his station, but round his home far away. And often, as he rides from post to post his thoughts go a-wandering over the sea to some cottage on the hill where his children are, and he hears them shout in their play amid the heather and the bracken, or sees the mother stooping over them as they sleep. It is an inner life unperceived by those around him, but from it rise all but the very highest incentives of brave and honest manhood. And as he toils and labors on, it is with a great hope that the day will come when, foreign service over, he will go back to his home. And then, and ever after, what used to be only the private luxury of quiet thought will, please God, be the open and endless interest of every hour and every day.

Is there one of us who does not feel this to be only a parable of the Christian life? We give thanks to God for the supplies of love and grace that are ours now; we bless the good hand that gives them, and we strive to use them for His glory. But all the while the thought is uppermost with us that something better - far better - is yet to be revealed. Not that we should long for death, not that, in our haste, we should call the world a barren, weary desert. The earth is the Lord‘s, and the fullness thereof; and the time and the coming of death we gladly leave to the secret love of God. But more and more, if we are Christians at all, we are corning to be sure, and ever surer, that God has kept the best to the last. Here we draw from the stream, but one day we shall stand by the very fountainhead. We shall leave the foreign land, and travel to God, who is our home.

Our life is hidden now, because Christ is hidden; hidden, not in darkness, but in the light where He dwells with the Father. It is better that it should be so, is it not? It is better that our stores and treasures should be outside of ourselves. Yes, and every new gift that comes from Christ, every new grasp of His hand, every reminder of His love, only stirs us to think how much He has laid up in store for the trusting heart, awaiting the disclosure of the great day. How deep and broad must be the ocean of that hidden life and love, when out of it flows this clear, deep
river, so full of water, making glad the city of God!

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