All posts by Eli Stewart

ODG #4- Charlies G. Finney

This week’s ODG is Charles G. Finney. Finney was a lawyer who had an encounter with God that changed His future. He gave the rest of his life to the winning of the lost to Jesus.  He laid out sermons much like a court case. Of all that could be said about Finney, of the Thousands that gave their hearts to Jesus, at the end of their lives, over 80% were still in love with Jesus, living holy lives for Him and with Him.
In our outreaching we often have WAY LESS HOPE. If JUST ONE would walk with Jesus all their days then THIS would be worth it. There was at least SOMETHING about Finney’s understanding of the GOSPEL that opened the door into LASTING FRIENDSHIP with Jesus.

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Ezekiel 18:31Make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

The word heart has various significations in the scriptures. In a few instances it appears to be synonymous with soul or spirit; sometimes it means the whole mind, and sometimes the understanding, and sometimes the conscience; in some places it seems to mean the constitutional propensities which belong to human nature, whether holy or sinful; sometimes it seems to refer to the social or relative affections; often it expresses all the affections or exercises of the mind; and in many instances it is spoken of as the fountain of our exercises; as “the good man, out of the good treasure of his heart,” etc. In such cases, as the heart is spoken of as the fountain of our moral exercises, it must mean the ruling choice or governing purpose of the mind. This I take to be the meaning of the term in all those passages where it is spoken of as comprehending the whole of divine requirement and human duty. And this is its meaning in the text; and the passage requires sinners to change their governing purpose, or make their leading object of life a new one, such as they have never indulged before.

I. I WILL SHOW WHAT IS NOT MEANT BY THIS COMMAND

It is not intended that a sinner is to make a new soul or spirit; although the word spirit is employed in the text, and although even the word heart sometimes means the soul. Every man has just such a soul as he needs, to love and serve God; and Christians did not receive any new soul when they were converted; therefore a new soul is not necessary, and is not required in the text or in the bible.

It is not intended that a sinner is to make any new faculty of soul or mind.

He needs no new faculty; and the Christian has received none, but only consecrates to God those he had from the commencement of his being.

Neither is he required to make any new moral principle of a permanent character; it, by principle, is meant any thing distinct from and prior to moral exercises; any thing behind the will, and necessary and giving character to volitions. It is not required to make a new taste or disposition; if by those terms is meant any thing distinct from and prior to moral exercises, and necessary and giving character to volitions. This would be, like the other cases mentioned, something pertaining to his nature, which is impossible. A nature cannot be holy. The nature of Adam at his creation was not holy. What is holiness? It is virtue, the moral action of an intelligent being, directed to a right object. It is absurd then to speak of holiness or virtue as pertaining to his nature.

II. I WILL SHOW WHAT IS INTENDED IN THE COMMAND OF THE TEXT

It is, that the sinner should change the governing purpose of his life. A man resolves to be a lawyer. Then he directs all his plans and efforts to effect that object, and passes by or resists every thing which would hinder its attainment; and that, for the time, is his governing purpose. Afterward, he may alter his determination and resolve to be a merchant. Now he directs all his efforts to that object, and so has changed his heart, or governing purpose, in regard to his secular affairs. Sinners, in like manner, have made it their governing purpose to seek their own interest or happiness, and have lived without God in the world. They are required to turn about, and choose the serve of God: and when they do so, they make themselves new hearts in the sense intended in the scriptures. God is infinitely holy; not because his nature is holy, but because his governing purpose is infinitely holy or virtuous. He is immutably holy because his holy governing purpose is infinitely strong. He also knows all things from eternity. He can therefore have no new ideas, and consequently no new motive; from which it follows, that he can never be induced to change his governing purpose.

Adam was made with a nature neither sinful nor holy.

When he began to act, he made it his governing purpose to serve God. He was afterwards induced to change his purpose, through the suggestions of Satan, who told him he would become like God. Wishing to enjoy that distinction, he chose to gratify himself; and in doing this he transgressed a divine command, and became a selfish being or a sinner. Thus we easily solve those knotty questions which have long puzzled theologians “How could Adam, being holy, become a sinner? How could sin enter the universe, in heaven or on earth, when God made all rational creatures in his own likeness?”

Adam changed his heart, or governing purpose, from good to evil. Now suppose that God, when he came to reprove him for his transgression, had bid him repent and make him a new heart, and Adam should say, “I cannot make a new heart.” God might reply, “Why not? You have just done it.

You have changed your heart, or governing purpose, from my service to your own selfish objects. Now change it back again and turn to me.”

Our not varying from a governing purpose depends on the strength and permanency of that purpose. Angels do not transgress and revolt, because of the amazing strength of their purpose to love and serve God. The new purpose of the young convert is a governing purpose, but feeble. He would soon be perfect, if he adhered to his purpose fully, and went on decidedly in the Christian life. But though he never gives up his governing purpose, he pursues it inconsistently; and this accounts for the instability of Christians.

It is apparent that the change now described, effected by the simple volition of the sinner through the influence of motives, is a sufficient change; all that the bible requires. It is all that is necessary to make a sinner a Christian. It is, moreover, all the change that can possibly have a moral character. I grant that it is very different from the change which sinners have been accustomed to expect, according to the instructions they have received. They have waited in perfect stillness, forgetting that they are required to change their own hearts, and expecting God to come suddenly and perform some wonderful work upon their souls, like the man who is going to take for the first time an electric shock. He takes hold of the chain, and waits trembling for a sudden and indescribable shock, to affect him he knows not how. A sinner may wait thus till doom’s day, and never be converted. The sentiment that teaches this waiting, is calculated to send souls to death and hell.

III. THIS IS A REASONABLE COMMAND

1. Because it requires man to use his powers in a reasonable manner. If it is right for God to require men obey, then it is right he should require them to purpose it.

2. Because man actually have the control of their mental and moral powers.

3. Because they are constantly in the habit of controlling their powers, and of changing their purposes and designs every day. And it is strange, that when the motives for a change are infinite, they should have no power to make it.

4. Because it is as easy to purpose right, as to purpose wrong; and one would think, infinitely more so. How comes it then, that men cannot purpose right? The fact is, it would be infinitely impossible not to do it, if men did not resist all the infinite motives to purpose right.

5. Because it is indispensable to their good; it is only, in other words, commanding them to be happy.

REMARKS

1. As Adam did, so have all sinners made themselves wicked hearts, without the concurrence of a divine influence. Children, when they begin to act, make their hearts wicked, by setting out with a purpose of self-gratification. Seeking their own happiness, they soon violate the commands of God and become sinful.

2. The idea of a sinner’s being passive in regeneration, is calculated to destroy souls. It involves the absurdity of his having a passive volition.

3. Every impenitent sinner is infinitely guilty, for not making himself a new heart; for not going the whole length of performing the work himself.

4. To say “I can’t love God and repent,” is to plead one sin for the commission of another.

5. This view illustrates the nature of the sinner’s dependence on the Spirit of God. The only necessity for his aid or influence, lies in the sinner’s pertinacious obstinacy; and when he converts the sinner, he only overcomes that obstinacy.

6. The Spirit uses means in producing conversion. He does not come and take right hold of the heart and perform an operation upon it; but he presents motives by means of the truth; he persuades, and the sinner yields to his persuasion. Many have supposed that he moves, by a direct and immediate act, either upon the motive to give it efficiency, or upon the mind to make it willing. But there is no mystery about it. Every Christian knows how he was induced to change his governing purpose or his heart.

He was convinced and persuaded, and freely gave his own heart to God without compulsion. And I know not which is the greater infidel, he that denies the agency of the Spirit in conversion; or he that believes God has provided means which are not adapted to the end for which they are employed.

7. There is a sense in which a sinner does make a new heart. There is also a sense in which God does it; another, in which a preacher does it; and another, in which the truth or the word of God does it. The bible employs expressions regarding conversion, in these four different ways. It is ascribed to the subject, the sinner himself; he changes his own heart. It is ascribed to the instrument, or the preacher; he converts sinners and saves souls from death. It is ascribed to the means, or the word; men are begotten by the word of truth. It is ascribed to God, or the Spirit; they are born again by the Spirit. A person is walking near Niagara Falls, and sees a man approaching from the opposite direction towards the precipice, who seems to be lost in a reverie. He is advancing directly to the verge of the precipice, unconscious of danger, and heedless of his footsteps. He has just raised his foot to step off, when the other spies his danger and cries out, Stop! He is roused, turns at the critical moment and is saved. People gather round, and the rescued man in great agitation relates the occurrence.

“That man,” says he, “has saved my life.” “But how?” “O he called to me at the very moment I was stepping off, and that word, stop, snatched me from destruction. O if I had not turned that instant, I should have been dashed to pieces. O it was the mercy of God that kept me from a horrid death.” This illustrates the use of those four kinds of expression in the bible, in reference to the conversion of a sinner, with one exception. In the case supposed, there was only the voice of the man who gave the alarm; but in conversion, there is both the voice of the preacher, and the voice of the Spirit; the preacher cries, “Stop,” and the Spirit cries, “Stop,” also.

8. If sinners will not yield to truth, they will inevitably be lost.

9. We see the consistency of using means for the conversion of sinners.

10. It is more probable that sinners will be converted under the voice of the living minister, than afterwards. Some have supposed it will hardly do to urge sinners to repent right on the spot, lest they should some how get a false hope. Better to exhibit the truth, and let them go home to reflect and pray, and there give their hearts to God more deliberately. But how does, the lawyer do, when he resolves to change the hearts of the jury and gain his cause? Does he say, I will make a speech of half an hour or three quarters, state the law, and the facts, and the arguments and dismiss them to their room for calm deliberation? No; he plies all his efforts to change their hearts while he is speaking; and so should ministers, when pleading with sinners.

11. When ministers do not understand this subject, they use means for the conversion of sinners to little or no purpose.

12. If you are expecting any other agency, than that which accompanies the means, you will wait in vain.

13. As you are able to change your own hearts, the great point of responsibility lies right there. To change your own hearts will save you; nothing else can; and on that point is suspended your eternal destiny.

ODG #3: C.S. Lewis

I’ve often wondered what it would LOOK like if you could see spiritual warfare.  We are told that the battle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), BUT we deal daily with people who ARE flesh and blood and it can be so confusing that THE battle is not against the PERSON you see, but something deeper, something other-worldly.  Attitudes, Spirits, Idea’s ETC.  
In C.S. Lewis’ book “The Screwtape Letters”, we are given an imaginative glimpse into spiritual warfare from the DEVIL’s perspective:  In particular, SCREWTAPE is a demon, discipling another demon WORMWOOD.  
I found myself startled at how often I had been “attacked”, or “tempted” similar to the fictional story laid out in The Screwtape Letters.
C.S. Lewis is one of our heroes not because he was brilliant, and not because he was well accepted, and not because he was friends with famous people.   He is one of our special “Old Dead Guys”, because he knew Jesus, and like any good friend has helped me know Jesus better.  His questions helped me personally make sense of the world around me.  
Below is chapter 3 from Screwtape Letters.  You can buy it in ebook format here, or order a hardcopy for yourself

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III

MY DEAR WORMWOOD,

I am very pleased by what you tell me about this man’s relations with his mother. But you must press your advantage. The Enemy will be working from the centre outwards, gradually bringing more and more of the patient’s conduct under the new standard, and may reach his behaviour to the old lady at any moment. You want to get in first. Keep in close touch with our colleague Glubose who is in charge of the mother, and build up between you in that house a good settled habit of mutual annoyance; daily pinpricks. The following methods are useful.

1. Keep his mind on the inner life. He thinks his conversion is something inside him and his attention is therefore chiefly turned at present to the states of his own mind–or rather to that very expurgated version of them which is all you should allow him to see. Encourage this. Keep his mind off the most elementary duties by directing it to the most advanced and spiritual ones. Aggravate that most useful human characteristic, the horror and neglect of the obvious. You must bring him to a condition in which he can practise self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself, which are perfectly clear to anyone who has over lived in the same house with him or worked the same office.

2. It is, no doubt, impossible to prevent his praying for his mother, but we have means of rendering the prayers innocuous. Make sure that they are always very “spiritual”, that he is always concerned with the state of her soul and never with her rheumatism. Two advantages follow. In the first place, his attention will be kept on what he regards as her sins, by which, with a little guidance from you, he can be induced to mean any of her actions which are inconvenient or irritating to himself. Thus you can keep rubbing the wounds of the day a little sorer even while he is on his knees; the operation is not at all difficult and you will find it very entertaining. In the second place, since his ideas about her soul will be very crude and often erroneous, he will, in some degree, be praying for an imaginary person, and it will be your task to make that imaginary person daily less and less like the real mother–the sharp-tongued old lady at the breakfast table. In time, you may get the cleavage so wide that no thought or feeling from his prayers for the imagined mother will ever flow over into his treatment of the real one. I have had patients of my own so well in hand that they could be turned at a moment’s notice from impassioned prayer for a wife’s or son’s “soul” to beating or insulting the real wife or son without a qualm.

3. When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness of your patient that particular lift of his mother’s eyebrows which he learned to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how much he dislikes it. Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy–if you know your job he will not notice the immense improbability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this is easily managed.

4. In civilised life domestic hatred usually expresses itself by saying things which would appear quite harmless on paper (the words are not offensive) but in such a voice, or at such a moment, that they are not far short of a blow in the face. To keep this game up you and Glubose must see to it that each of these two fools has a sort of double standard. Your patient must demand that all his own utterances are to be taken at their face value and judged simply on the actual words, while at the same time judging all his mother’s utterances with the fullest and most oversensitive interpretation of the tone and the context and the suspected intention. She must be encouraged to do the same to him. Hence from every quarrel they can both go away convinced, or very nearly convinced, that they are quite innocent. You know the kind of thing: “I simply ask her what time dinner will be and she flies into a temper.” Once this habit is well established you have the delightful situation of a human saying things with the express purpose of offending and yet having a grievance when offence is taken.

Finally, tell me something about the old lady’s religious position. Is she at all jealous of the new factor in her son’s life?–at all piqued that he should have learned from others, and so late, what she considers she gave him such good opportunity of learning in childhood? Does she feel he is making a great deal of “fuss” about it–or that he’s getting in on very easy terms? Remember the elder brother in the Enemy’s story,

Your affectionate uncle

SCREWTAPE

Old Dead Guys #2- G.K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton has been one of our hero’s since he taught us “Something must be loved to become lovable”- the excerpt from his book The Everlasting Man(buy it from Amazon here) may require discipline to finish: BUT it will be WORTH IT.
The excerpt from Chesterton will follow this encouragement from Mary Gautreaux
Mary Gautreaux writes:
The Disciplined Christian I Corinthians 9: 24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
   For many of us, this summer is beginning to feel very long and very dry. Walking with Jesus while surrounded by hundreds of other like-minded people is one thing, but trying to do it in a different context is often another story. It can feel frustrating and lonely – old habits and thought patterns start creeping back in, and many people just give up. But you are not alone, and there is something you can do to make the rest of the summer really count for eternity. In this passage of scripture, Paul is reminding the church that victory is never without cost. Excellence is never easy.
To be successful in anything requires a tremendous amount of discipline. When we hear that word – discipline – many of us automatically think of a dad’s belt, or standing in the corner in “time out”, or getting the car keys or cell phone taken away. We equate discipline with punishment, but that is not what is meant when referring to living a disciplined Christian life. People all over the world intuitively understand what it takes to excel at something. Businessmen know that it takes long hours to get ahead, musicians know that it takes hours a day of practice to become excellent, educators spend much of their time becoming experts in their field, farmers know there is no harvest without months of toil and so on. To be excellent requires a great price. All great athletes, musicians, scientists, writers and so on, spend hour after hour, day after day, year after year becoming (and staying) excellent at what they do. But for all of these things, the payoff is being very good at what you do and perhaps bringing enjoyment to others – what Paul referred to as a crown that will not last.
As a Christian, being disciplined means more of Jesus and less of yourself – there is no better trade! As an athlete, I wanted to be the best I could be at my sport, and it affected literally everything I did – what I ate, my schedule, my social life, everything. We know that there is a price to be paid for greatness, and when we love what we have given ourselves to, the price doesn’t seem too great at all. We, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, need to approach our walk with Him in this same manner. Paul often equated our walk with the Lord to the life of an athlete or a soldier. It takes a LOT of discipline – not just every now and then, but all the time, every day. That’s why Jesus called His followers “disciples” – walking with Jesus requires laying down our own lives and agendas, taking up the cross, and following Him. So why, as Christians, do so many of us resent the fact that Jesus asks for everything when we become His followers? He asks us to be disciplined with our minds, our time, our money, our actions – but many of us turn away sad, like the Rich Young Ruler in the Bible, unwilling to lay all of ourselves down. We need to adjust our thinking. Giving all of these things to Jesus yields a life of incredible fulfillment, freedom and peace. Not only is it the healthiest way for me to live, but it is also the best way I can be a help and blessing to others. Jesus said that we are the City on a Hill – people all around us will be affected by us as we walk with Him. This is why we must be real disciples, really disciplined, so that we will be ready to minister and to share the love and hope and healing that Jesus brings when we need to be.
What can I do – today, this week, this summer? How can I become more disciplined as a Christian? There are many ways, and we will spend the next several weeks investigating some of these with the help of some of our great friends. One of the best things we can do is to stretch our minds and really think about the Lord on a regular basis – daily, if possible. The Bible should be the mainstay of our devotional life, but also important are great Christian books. Many of the men and women who have walked before us have lived and learned such tremendous truths about God and His Kingdom; it is good for our hearts and minds to listen to them, to keep ourselves searching and growing, to keep our hearts full of wonder at the sheer magnitude of God and His character. The eternal story that all of us get to be a part of is so much more immense than any of us can see from our limited perspective – it is encouraging and sustaining to keep our eyes focused on God’s big picture.

The End of the World- 

I was once sitting on a summer day in a meadow in Kent under the shadow of a little village church, with a rather curious companion with whom I had just been walking through the woods. He was one of a group of eccentrics I had come across in my wanderings who had a new religion called Higher Thought; in which I had been so far initiated as to realise a general atmosphere of loftiness or height, and was hoping at some later and more esoteric stage to discover the beginnings of thought. My companion was the most amusing of them, for however he may have stood towards thought, he was at least very much their superior in experience, having travelled beyond the tropics while they were meditating in the suburbs; though he had been charged with excess in telling travellers’ tales. In spite of anything said against him, I preferred him to his companions and willingly went with him through the wood; where I could not but feel that his sunburnt face and fierce tufted eyebrows and pointed beard gave him something of the look of Pan. Then we sat down in the meadow and gazed idly at the tree-tops and the spire of the village church; while the warm afternoon began to mellow into early evening and the song of a speck of a bird was faint far up in the sky and no more than a whisper of breeze soothed rather than stirred the ancient orchards of the garden of England. Then my companion said to me: ‘Do you know why the spire of that church goes up like that, I expressed a respectable agnosticism, and he answered in an off-hand way, ‘Oh, the same as the obelisks; the Phallic Worship of antiquity.’ Then I looked across at him suddenly as he lay there leering above his goatlike beard; and for the moment I thought he was not Pan but the Devil. No mortal words can express the immense, the insane incongruity and unnatural perversion of thought involved in saying such a thing at such a moment and in such a place. For one moment I was in the mood in which men burned witches; and then a sense of absurdity equally enormous seemed to open about me like a dawn. ‘Why, of course,’ I said after a moment’s reflection, ‘if it hadn’t been for phallic worship, they would have built the spire pointing downwards and standing on its own apex.’ I could have sat in that field and laughed for an hour. My friend did not seem offended, for indeed he was never thin-skinned about his scientific discoveries. I had only met him by chance and I never met him again, and I believe he is now dead; but though it has nothing to do with the argument, it may be worth while to mention the name of this adherent of Higher Thought and interpreter of primitive religious origins; or at any rate the name by which he was known. It was Louis de Rougemont.

That insane image of the Kentish church standing on the point of its spire, as in some old rustic, topsy-turvy tale, always comes back into my imagination when I hear these things said about pagan origins; and calls to my aid the laughter of the giants. Then I feel as genially and charitably to all other scientific investigators, higher critics, and authorities on ancient and modern religion, as I do to poor Louis de Rougemont. But the memory of that immense absurdity remains as a sort of measure and check by which to keep sane, not only on the subject of Christian churches, but also on the subject of heathen temples. Now a great many people have talked about heathen origins as the distinguished traveller talked about Christian origins. Indeed a great many modern heathens have been very hard on heathenism. A great many modern humanitarians have been very hard on the real religion of humanity. They have represented it as being everywhere and from the first rooted only in these repulsive arcana; and carrying the character of something utterly shameless and anarchical. Now I do not believe this for a moment. I should never dream of thinking about the whole worship of Apollo what De Rougemont could think about the worship of Christ. I would never admit that there was such an atmosphere in a Greek city as that madman was able to smell in a Kentish village. On the contrary, it is the whole point, even of this final chapter upon the final decay of paganism, to insist once more that the worst sort of paganism had already been defeated by the best sort. It was the best sort of paganism that conquered the gold of Carthage. It was the best sort of paganism that wore the laurels of Rome. It was the best thing the world had yet seen, all things considered and on any large scale, that ruled from the wall of the Grampians to the garden of the Euphrates. It was the best that conquered; it was the best that ruled; and it was the best that began to decay.

Unless this broad truth be grasped, the whole story is seen askew. Pessimism is not in being tired of evil but in being tired of good. Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy. It is when for some reason or other the good things in a society no longer work that the society begins to decline; when its food does not feed, when its cures do not cure, when its blessings refuse to bless. We might almost say that in a society without such good things we should hardly have any test by which to register a decline; that is why some of the static commercial oligarchies like Carthage have rather an air in history of standing and staring like mummies, so dried up and swathed and embalmed that no man knows when they are new or old. But Carthage at any rate was dead, and the worst assault ever made by the demons on mortal society had been defeated. But how much would it matter that the worst was dead if the best was dying?

To begin with, it must be noted that the relation of Rome to Carthage was partially repeated and extended in her relation to nations more normal and more nearly akin to her than Carthage. I am not here concerned to controvert the merely political view that Roman statesmen acted unscrupulously towards Corinth or the Greek cities. But I am concerned to contradict the notion that there was nothing but a hypocritical excuse in the ordinary Roman dislike of Greek cities. I am not presenting these pagans as paladins of chivalry, with a sentiment about nationalism never known until Christian times. But I am presenting them as men with the feelings of men; and those feelings were not a pretence. The truth is that one of the weaknesses in nature-worship and mere mythology had already produced a perversion among the Greeks due to the worst sophistry; the sophistry of simplicity. Just as they became unnatural by worshipping nature, so they actually became unmanly by worshipping man. If Greece led her conqueror, she might have misled her conqueror; but these were things he did originally wish to conquer–ever in himself. It is true that in one sense there was less inhumanity even in Sodom and Gomorrah than in Tyre and Sidon. When we consider the war of the demons on the children, we cannot compare even Greek decadence to Punic devil-worship. But it is not true that the sincere revulsion from either need be merely pharisaical. It is not true to human nature or to common sense. Let any lad who has had the luck to grow up sane and simple in his day-dreams of love hear for the first time of the cult of Ganymede; he will not be merely shocked but sickened. And that first impression, as has been said here so often about first impressions, will be right. Our cynical indifference is an illusion; it is the greatest of all illusions; the illusion of familiarity. It is right to conceive the more or less rustic virtues of the ruck of the original Romans as reacting against the very rumour of it, with complete spontaneity and sincerity. It is right to regard them as reacting, if in a lesser degree, exactly as they did against the cruelty of Carthage. Because it was in a less degree they did not destroy Corinth as they destroyed Carthage. But if their attitude and action was rather destructive, in neither case need their indignation have been mere self-righteousness covering mere selfishness. And if anybody insists that nothing could have operated in either case but reasons of state and commercial conspiracies, we can only tell him that there is something which he does not understand; something which possibly he will never understand; something which, until he does understand, he will never understand the Latins. That something is called democracy. He has probably heard the word a good many times and even used it himself; but he has no notion of what it means. All through the revolutionary history of Rome there was an incessant drive towards democracy; the state and the statesman could do nothing without a considerable backing of democracy; the sort of democracy that never has anything to do with diplomacy. It is precisely because of the presence of Roman democracy that we hear so much about Roman oligarchy. For instance, recent historians have tried to explain the valour and victory of Rome in terms of that detestable and detested usury which was practised by some of the Patricians; as if Curius had conquered the men of the Macedonian phalanx by lending them money; or the consul Nero had negotiated the victory of Metaurus at five per cent. But we realise the usury of the Patricians because of the perpetual revolt of the Plebeians. The rule of the Punic merchant princes had the very soul of usury. But there was never a Punic mob that dared to call them usurers.

Burdened like all mortal things with all mortal sin and weakness, the rise of Rome had really been the rise of normal and especially of popular things; and in nothing more than in the thoroughly normal and profoundly popular hatred of perversion. Now among the Greeks a perversion had become a convention. It is true that it had become so much of a convention, especially a literary convention, that it was sometimes conventionally copied by Roman literary men. But this is one of those complications that always arise out of conventions. It must not obscure our sense of the difference of tone in the two societies as a whole. It is true that Virgil would once in a way take over a theme of Theocritus; but nobody can get the impression that Virgil was particularly fond of that theme. The themes of Virgil were specially and notably the normal themes and nowhere more than in morals; piety and patriotism and the honour of the countryside. And we may well pause upon the name of the poet as we pass into the autumn of antiquity; upon his name who was in so supreme a sense the very voice of autumn of its maturity and its melancholy; of its fruits of fulfilment and its prospect of decay. Nobody who reads even a few lines of Virgil can doubt that he understood what moral sanity means to mankind. Nobody can doubt his feelings when the demons were driven in flight before the household gods. But there are two particular points about him and his work which are particularly important to the main thesis here. The first is that the whole of his great patriotic epic is in a very peculiar sense founded upon the fall of Troy; that is upon an avowed pride in Troy although she had fallen. In tracing to Trojans the foundation of his beloved race and republic, he began what may be called the great Trojan tradition which runs through medieval and modern history. We have already seen the first hint of it in the pathos of Homer about Hector. But Virgil turned it not merely into a literature but into a legend. And it was a legend of the almost divine dignity that belongs to the defeated. This was one of the traditions that did truly prepare the world for the coming of Christianity and especially of Christian chivalry. This is what did help to sustain civilisation through the incessant defeats of the Dark Ages and the barbarian wars; out of which what we call chivalry was born. It is the moral attitude of the man with his back to the wall; and it was the wall of Troy. All through medieval and modern times this version of the virtues in the Homeric conflict can be traced in a hundred ways co-operating with all that was akin to it in Christian sentiment. Our own countrymen, and the men of other countries, loved to claim like Virgil that their own nation was descended from the heroic Trojans. All sorts of people thought it the most superb sort of heraldry to claim to be descended from Hector. Nobody seems to have wanted to be descended from Achilles. The very fact that the Trojan name has become a Christian name, and been scattered to the last limits of Christendom, to Ireland or the Gaelic Highlands, while the Greek name has remained relatively rare and pedantic, is a tribute to the same truth. Indeed it involves a curiosity of language almost in the nature of a joke. The name has been turned into a verb; and the very phrase about hectoring, in the sense of swaggering, suggests the myriads of soldiers who have taken the fallen Trojan for a model. As a matter of fact, nobody in antiquity was less given to hectoring than Hector. But even the bully pretending to be a conqueror took his title from the conquered. That is why the popularisation of the Trojan origin by Virgil has a vital relation to all those elements that have made men say that Virgil was almost a Christian. It is almost as if two great tools or toys of the same timber, the divine and the human, had been in the hands of Providence; and the only thing comparable to the Wooden Cross of Calvary was the Wooden Horse of Troy. So, in some wild allegory, pious in purpose if almost profane in form, the Holy Child might have fought the dragon with a wooden sword and a wooden horse.

The other element in Virgil which is essential to the argument is the particular nature of his relation to mythology; or what may here in a special sense be called folklore, the faiths and fancies of the populace. Everybody knows that his poetry at its most perfect is less concerned with the pomposity of Olympus than with the numina of natural and agricultural life. Everyone knows where Virgil looked for the causes of things. He speaks of finding them not so much in cosmic allegories of Uranus and Chronos; but rather in Pan and the sisterhood of the nymphs and Sylvanus the old man of the forest. He is perhaps most himself in some passages of the Eclogues, in which he has perpetuated for ever the great legend of Arcadia and the shepherds. Here again it is easy enough to miss the point with petty criticism about all the things that happen to separate his literary convention from ours. There is nothing more artificial than the cry of artificiality as directed against the old pastoral poetry. We have entirely missed all that our fathers meant by looking at the externals of what they wrote. People have been so much amused with the mere fact that the china shepherdess was made of china that they have not even asked why she was made at all. They have been so content to consider the Merry Peasant as a figure in an opera that they have not asked even how he came to go to the opera, or how he strayed on to the stage.

In short, one have only to ask why there is a china shepherdess and not a china shopkeeper. Why were not mantelpieces adorned with figures of city merchants in elegant attitudes; of ironmasters wrought in iron or gold speculators in gold? Why did the opera exhibit a Merry Peasant and not a Merry Politician? Why was there not a ballet of bankers, pirouetting upon pointed toes? Because the ancient instinct and humour of humanity have always told them, under whatever conventions, that the conventions of complex cities were less really healthy and happy than the customs of the countryside. So it is with the eternity of the Eclogues. A modern poet did indeed write things called Fleet Street Eclogues, in which poets took the place of the shepherds. But nobody has yet written anything called Wall Street Eclogues, in which millionaires should take the place of the poets. And the reason is that there is a real if only a recurrent yearning for that sort of simplicity; and there is never that sort of yearning for that sort of complexity. The key to the mystery of the Merry Peasant is that the peasant often is merry. Those who do not believe it are simply those who do not know anything about him, and therefore do not know which are his times for merriment. Those who do not believe in the shepherd’s feast or song are merely ignorant of the shepherd’s calendar. The real shepherd is indeed very different from the ideal shepherd, but that is no reason for forgetting the reality at the root of the ideal. It needs a truth to make a tradition. It needs a tradition to make a convention. Pastoral poetry is certainly often a convention, especially in a social decline. It was in a social decline that Watteau shepherds and shepherdesses lounged about the gardens of Versailles. It was also in a social decline that shepherds and shepherdesses continued to pipe and dance through the most faded imitations of Virgil. But that is no reason for dismissing the dying paganism without ever understanding its life. It is no reason for forgetting that the very word Pagan is the same as the word Peasant. We may say that this art is only artificiality; but it is not a love of the artificial. On the contrary, it is in its very nature only the failure of nature-worship, or the love of the natural.

For the shepherds were dying because their gods were dying. Paganism lived upon poetry; that poetry already considered under the name of mythology. But everywhere, and especially in Italy, it had been a mythology and a poetry rooted in the countryside; and that rustic religion had been largely responsible for the rustic happiness. Only as the whole society grew in age and experience, there began to appear that weakness in all mythology already noted in the chapter under that name. This religion was not quite a religion. In other words, this religion was not quite a reality. It was the young world’s riot with images and ideas like a young man’s riot with wine or love-making; it was not so much immoral as irresponsible; it had no foresight of the final test of time. Because it was creative to any extent it was credulous to any extent. It belonged to the artistic side of man, yet even considered artistically it had long become overloaded and entangled. The family trees sprung from the seed of Jupiter were a jungle rather than a forest; the claims of the gods and demi-gods seemed like things to be settled rather by a lawyer or a professional herald than by a poet. But it is needless to say that it was not only in the artistic sense that these things had grown more anarchic. There had appeared in more and more flagrant fashion that flower of evil that is really implicit in the very seed of nature-worship, however natural it may seem. I have said that I do not believe that natural worship necessarily begins with this particular passion; I am not of the De Rougemont school of scientific folk-lore. I do not believe that mythology must begin with eroticism. But I do believe that mythology must end in it. I am quite certain that mythology did end in it. Moreover, not only did the poetry grow more immoral, but the immorality grew more indefensible. Greek vices, oriental vices, hints of the old horrors of the Semitic demons began to fill the fancies of decaying Rome, swarming like flies on a dung heap. The psychology of it is really human enough to anyone who will try that experiment of seeing history from the inside There comes an hour in the afternoon when the child is tired of ‘pretending’; when he is weary of being a robber or a Red Indian. It is then that he torments the cat. There comes a time in the routine of an ordered civilisation when the man is tired at playing at mythology and pretending that a tree is a maiden or that the moon made love to a man. The effect of this staleness is the same everywhere; it is seen in all drug-taking and dram-drinking and every form of the tendency to increase the dose. Men seek stranger sins or more startling obscenities as stimulants to their jaded sense. They seek after mad oriental religions for the same reason. They try to stab their nerves to life, if it were with the knives of the priests of Baal. They are walking in their sleep and try to wake themselves up with nightmares.

At that stage even of paganism therefore the peasant songs and dances sound fainter and fainter in the forest. For one thing the peasant civilisation was fading, or had already faded from the whole countryside. The Empire at the end was organised more and more on that servile system which generally goes with the boast of organisation, indeed it was almost as senile as the modern schemes for the organisation of industry. It is proverbial that what would once have been a peasantry became a mere populace of the town dependent for bread and circuses; which may again suggest to some a mob dependent upon doles and cinemas. In this as in many other respects the modern return to heathenism has been a return not even to the heathen youth but rather to the heathen old age. But the causes of it were spiritual in both cases; and especially the spirit of paganism had departed with its familiar spirits. The heat had gone out of it with its household gods, who went along with the gods of the garden and the field and the forest. The Old Man of the Forest was too old; he was already dying. It is said truly in a sense that Pan died because Christ was born. It is almost as true in another sense that men knew that Christ was born because Pan was already dead. A void was made by the vanishing of the whole mythology of mankind, which would have asphyxiated like a vacuum if it had not been filled with theology. But the point for the moment is that the mythology could not have lasted like a theology in any case. Theology is thought, whether we agree with it or not. Mythology was never thought, and nobody could really agree with it or disagree with it. It was a mere mood of glamour and when the mood went it could not be recovered. Men not only ceased to believe in the gods, but they realised that they had never believed in them. They had sung their praises; they had danced round their altars. They had played the flute; they had played the fool.

So came the twilight upon Arcady and the last notes of the pipe sound sadly from the beechen grove. In the great Virgilian poems there is already something of the sadness; but the loves and the household gods linger in lovely lines like that which Mr. Belloc took for a test of understanding; incipe parve puer risu cognoscere matrem. But with them as with us, the human family itself began to break down under servile organisation and the herding of the towns. The urban mob became enlightened; that is it lost the mental energy that could create myths. All round the circle of the Mediterranean cities the people mourned for the loss of gods and were consoled with gladiators. And meanwhile something similar was happening to that intellectual aristocracy of antiquity that had been walking about and talking at large ever since Socrates and Pythagoras. They began to betray to the world the fact that they were walking in a circle and saying the same thing over and over again. Philosophy began to be a joke; it also began to be a bore. That unnatural simplification of everything into one system or another, which we have noted as the fault of the philosopher, revealed at once its finality and its futility. Everything was virtue or everything was happiness or everything was fate or everything was good or everything was bad; anyhow, everything was everything and there was no more to be said; so they said it. Everywhere the sages had degenerated into sophists; that is, into hired rhetoricians or askers of riddles. It is one of the symptoms of this that the sage begins to turn not only into a sophist but into a magician. A touch of oriental occultism is very much appreciated in the best houses. As the philosopher is already a society entertainer, he may as well also be a conjurer.

Many moderns have insisted on the smallness of that Mediterranean world; and the wider horizons that might have awaited it with the discovery of the other continents. But this is an illusion, one of the many illusions of materialism. The limits that paganism had reached in Europe were the limits of human existence; at its best it had only reached the same limits anywhere else. The Roman stoics did not need any Chinamen to teach them stoicism. The Pythagoreans did not need any Hindus to teach them about recurrence or the simple life or the beauty of being a vegetarian. In so far as they could get these things from the East, they had already got rather too much of them from the East. The Syncretists were as convinced as Theosophists that all religions are really the same. And how else could they have extended philosophy merely by extending geography? It can hardly be proposed that they should learn a purer religion from the Aztecs or sit at the feet of the Incas of Peru. All the rest of the world was a welter of barbarism. It is essential to recognise that the Roman Empire was recognised as the highest achievement of the human race; and also as the broadest. A dreadful secret seemed to be written as in obscure hieroglyphics across those mighty works of marble and stone, those colossal amphitheatres and aqueducts. Man could do no more.

For it was not the message blazed on the Babylonian wall, that one king was found wanting or his one kingdom given to a stranger. It was no such good news as the news of invasion and conquest. There was nothing left that could conquer Rome; but there was also nothing left that could improve it. It was the strongest thing that was growing weak. It was the best thing that was going to the bad. It is necessary to insist again and again that many civilisations had met in one civilisation of the Mediterranean sea; that it was already universal with a stale and sterile universality. The peoples had pooled their resources and still there was not enough. The empires had gone into partnership and they were still bankrupt. No philosopher who was really philosophical could think anything except that, in that central sea, the wave of the world had risen to its highest, seeming to touch the stars. But the wave was already stooping; for it was only the wave of the world.

That mythology and that philosophy into which paganism has already been analysed had thus both of them been drained most literally to the dregs. If with the multiplication of magic the third department, which we have called the demons, was even increasingly active, it was never anything but destructive. There remains only the fourth element or rather the first; that which had been in a sense forgotten because it was the first. I mean the primary and overpowering yet impalpable impression that the universe after all has one origin and one aim; and because it has an aim must have an author. What became of this great truth in the background of men’s minds, at this time, it is perhaps more difficult to determine. Some of the Stoics undoubtedly saw it more and more clearly as the clouds of mythology cleared and thinned away; and great men among them did much even to the last to lay the foundations of a concept of the moral unity of the world. The Jews still held their secret certainty of it jealously behind high fences of exclusiveness; yet it is intensely characteristic of the society and the situation that some fashionable figures, especially fashionable ladies, actually embraced Judaism. But in the case of many others I fancy there entered at this point a new negation. Atheism became really possible in that abnormal time; for atheism is abnormality. It is not merely the denial of a dogma. It is the reversal of a subconscious assumption in the soul; the sense that there is a meaning and a direction in the world it sees. Lucretius, the first evolutionist who endeavoured to substitute Evolution for God, had already dangled before men’s eyes his dance of glittering atoms, by which he conceived cosmos as created by chaos. But it was not his strong poetry or his sad philosophy, as I fancy, that made it possible for men to entertain such a vision. It was something in the sense of impotence and despair with which men shook their fists vainly at the stars, as they saw all the best work of humanity sinking slowly and helplessly into a swamp. They could easily believe that even creation itself was not a creation but a perpetual fall, when they saw that the weightiest and worthiest of all human creations was falling by its own weight. They could fancy that all the stars were falling stars; and that the very pillars of their own solemn porticos were bowed under a sort of gradual deluge. To men in that mood there was a reason for atheism that is in some sense reasonable. Mythology might fade and philosophy might stiffen; but if behind these things there was a reality, surely that reality might have sustained things as they sank. There was no God; if there had been a God, surely this was the very moment when He would have moved and saved the world.

The life of the great civilisation went on with dreary industry and even with dreary festivity. It was the end of the world, and the worst of it was that it need never end. A convenient compromise had been made between all the multitudinous myths and religions of the Empire; that each group should worship freely and merely live a sort of official flourish of thanks to the tolerant Emperor, by tossing a little incense to him under his official title of Divus. Naturally there was no difficulty about that; or rather it was a long time before the world realised that there ever had been even a trivial difficulty anywhere. The members of some Eastern sect or secret society or other seemed to have made a scene somewhere; nobody could imagine why. The incident occurred once or twice again and began to arouse irritation out of proportion to its insignificance. It was not exactly what these provincials said; though of course it sounded queer enough. They seemed to be saying that God was dead and that they themselves had seen him die. This might be one of the many manias produced by the despair of the age; only they did not seem particularly despairing. They seem quite unnaturally joyful about it, and gave the reason that the death of God had allowed them to eat him and drink his blood. According to other accounts God was not exactly dead after all; there trailed through the bewildered imagination some sort of fantastic procession of the funeral of God, at which the sun turned black, but which ended with the dead omnipotence breaking out of the tomb and rising again like the sun. But it was not the strange story to which anybody paid any particular attention; people in that world had seen queer religions enough to fill a madhouse. It was something in the tone of the madmen and their type of formation. They were a scratch company of barbarians and slaves and poor and unimportant people; but their formation was military; they moved together and were very absolute about who and what was really a part of their little system; and about what they said. However mildly, there was a ring like iron. Men used to many mythologies and moralities could make no analysis of the mystery, except the curious conjecture that they meant what they said. All attempts to make them see reason in the perfectly simple matter of the Emperor’s statue seemed to be spoken to deaf men. It was as if a new meteoric metal had fallen on the earth; it was a difference of substance to the touch. Those who touched their foundation fancied they had struck a rock.

With a strange rapidity, like the changes of a dream, the proportions of things seemed to change in their presence. Before most men knew what had happened, these few men were palpably present. They were important enough to be ignored. People became suddenly silent about them and walked stiffly past them. We see a new scene, in which the world has drawn its skirts away from these men and women and they stand in the centre of a great space like lepers. The scene changes again and the great space where they stand is overhung on every side with a cloud of witnesses, interminable terraces full of faces looking down towards them intently; for strange things are happening to them. New tortures have been invented for the madmen who have brought good news. That sad and weary society seems almost to find a new energy in establishing its first religious persecution. Nobody yet knows very clearly why that level world has thus lost its balance about the people in its midst; but they stand unnaturally still while the arena and the world seem to revolve round them. And there shone on them in that dark hour a light that has never been darkened; a white fire clinging to that group like an unearthly phosphorescence, blazing its track through the twilights of history and confounding every effort to confound it with the mists of mythology and theory; that shaft of light or lightning by which the world itself has struck and isolated and crowned it; by which its own enemies have made it more illustrious and its own critics have made it more inexplicable; the halo of hatred around the Church of God.

Old Dead Guys #1- George Watson

I was looking for a book that talked about God's character, similar to the Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer.  These are SURPRISINGLY hard to find!  I discovered George Watson's book OUR OWN GOD.  In hanging out with Mr. Watson I felt I was hanging out with someone who had done more than read about God, but someone who had known God in their every-day life.  More than that, I found that the "tone of his voice" was full of wonder about a wonderful God.  Each page I was able to see more who this wonderful almighty God was.

As you read I pray Two Things:  1.) You will become friends with this old dead guy who is alive on a page and in Heaven: George Watson  2.) That you will become even greater friends with his and our Maker
You can download the ebook from Amazon or order a copy for yourself!

GDWatson

Chapter 1 — Our Own God

God is our nearest relative. From the very fact that He produced us out of nothing except the power of His own Word, and sustains us every moment from falling back into the dark gulf of non-existence, which is virtually a perpetual act of creative love. He enters more minutely into our nature and lives than it is possible for any other being in all creation to do. No one can possibly love us as God does, because no one knows us so thoroughly, or has made such an investment in us, as our blessed Creator, our one and only true God.

Not only is this true, but we are so created, that when the Scriptural conditions are met, we can know God with an intimacy, and vastness, and sweetness, and power, far beyond what we can know of any creature that God has made. Our own fathers and mothers do not come as close to us as God does, and neither can we enter the secret chambers of their spirits, and learn the qualities of their hidden lives with anything approaching to the inner heart knowledge we may have of our own God through the indwelling and operation of the blessed Holy Ghost. As a proof that sin perverts and reverses everything in the human soul, the very God that sinners declare to be unknowable, and call themselves “agnostics” (a Greek word which in the Latin is “ignoramus,” and in plain English is “fool”), the God that these self-named “fools” suppose to be far away from the touch of human knowledge, is the very Being that, under right spiritual conditions, we can know with more cloudless assurance, and more tender, all-pervading, personal acquaintance, than any one else in creation.

1. We know God, and appropriate Him to ourselves, pre-eminently in our spiritual nature, in our love nature. God is love. The substance of His character is pure love, including every perfection which the Bible reveals of Him in an infinite degree, and doubtless there are may perfections in God of which we have no conception in our present state. It is because God is love, that it is through our love nature we know Him, and go deeper down into a blessed acquaintance with His person, and life, and ways, than through any other part of our nature.

It is through the organs and delicate senses of the body that we know the marvelous beauties and wonders of the material world, with its thousand-fold harmonies, and adaptations, its overawing grandeurs, its bewitching beauties, and beneficent utilities.

It is through our intellects that we become acquainted with the vast, radiant worlds of science, of mathematics, of the connection between causes and effects, of time, motion, numbers, poetry, and philosophy, that constitute an immense silent choir that fills creation with voiceless intellectual music. But creation with all its splendors is not our God, and the whole realm of mental knowledge is not our God, and these things are but the outer fringes of His presence, the first steps to an acquaintance with Him.

It is only through love, not mere natural affection, but through Divine love imparted to our heart nature, that we pass through the outer veil of creation, and know God through His beloved Son, Jesus, with a swiftness, a certainty and a personal communion, that surpasses all the boasted knowledge of science, and furnishes the only true interpretation of creation and providence.

St. John says, that “if we dwell in love,” if that is the atmosphere in which we breathe, “then we dwell in God.” It is love that knows more than any other capacity of our being. Love has a quick art of knowing, and seeing and interpreting all things by a sort of lightning flash of intuition, that leaps over the plodding process of slow reason and knows things more surely without learning them, than reason does with all its logic. It is love that appropriates, and lays claim to things, and takes possession of them. We may see an object, a person for instance, and know him faintly by our senses, and then learn much of him through the intellect, but when love comes into action, it seizes upon the object, and wins it, appropriates it, takes possession of it, and says “my own.” We possess God, and make Him our own, all our own, through love for Him.

2. God is our own in such a peculiar individual way, privately and personally, so as to thrill us with a joy with which no stranger can intermeddle. God can never be to any other creature in all the universe, just exactly what He is to us. Have we ever thought for five minutes of the grandeur of being created with a unique, individual personality all to ourselves, with a private nature, a great soul world in ourselves, a distinct orb of conscious, immortal existence. We are walled in from all other creatures, with a deep privacy of nature into which no one in all the universe can enter except the Lord our God, our loving Creator. Probably this is the greatest glory of our creation, that each of us has in our personality a sacred sanctuary in the ocean depths of his soul, with a door that never opens except to the touch of that eternal, blessed One, Who created us out of His love. He then redeemed us from an awful fall out of what seems even a greater love than creation. There are no higher facts than the personality of God, and the everlasting and private personality of our own selves.

Upon each one of us, the Lord has inscribed thousands of private marks that distinguish us from every other creature He has made. Upon every feature, and every bone, and every mental faculty, and every shape of our emotions, there is printed a peculiar form which belongs to no other one person in the world.

God has woven around each of our lives, a network of special providence that is marvelous to contemplate, and that is never duplicated with any angel or man. Each of our lives, if written out from God’s standpoint, and under Divine inspiration, would form a little Bible, and have in it something like the pathetic charm of the lives of the old patriarchs. We cannot live anyone else’s life, nor see with his eyes, nor trust with his faith, nor love with his heart. Each one must for himself in particular become acquainted with God, and learn the same lessons of the spiritual life that have been learned over and over for thousands of years, and which no one has ever been able to impart to another soul. Throughout life’s journey, God is our only traveling company Who knows all, Who enters into all, Who loves us through all, and from Whom we have no secrets. He deals with each of us in ten thousand special ways peculiar to ourselves, and by virtue of which we cry out, like one of the apostles, “My Lord and my God.” We never come of age with our Heavenly Father, but are always minors, so that there is an overshadowing tenderness in His being forever and forever, our Father, our own Father!

When we are brought into the family of God, and through a life of prayer become acquainted with Him, we cannot look upon Him as simply external to ourselves. It is true His presence and power are spread out everywhere in all creation, but from our standpoint, His presence in a peculiar way seems to center in ourselves. Just as wherever we stand on the earth’s surface, we are in the center of the horizon’s rim: so we, each of us, from our standpoint, are in the center of God’s attributes, presence, providence, and grace. Who but an infinite God could have so formed creation, as to make it seem to each person that he stands in the center of the horizon, and the world, and to make it equally true that each child of His stands in the center of His mighty providence and grace? This is God’s complement to our individuality.

God becomes our own in so many secret relationships established between us. As the years go by, what fond ties are knitted between Him and ourselves; what thrilling endearments have been exchanged; what pathetic memories of His multiplied forgivenesses and what sacred memories also of His various chastisements, which have been full of melting kindness! What peculiar and multiplied answers to prayer! What astonishing blending of providences! What an alternation of favor and discipline, like the beautiful shuttle that weaves out the seasons of the year, of summer and winter, of laughing springs, and thoughtful, melancholy autumns, in our lives!

Words have passed between us and God which could never mean to others what they have to us—countless silent covenants in prayer, either spoken or pronounced mentally, special applications of Scripture verses that exactly fitted into our heart and lives in a way they could never fit into any other life. There have been significant providences that meant a thousand times more to us than they did to anyone else; soft and healing touches of His hand that no other hand could give, and evidences of unfailing fidelity, until our whole hearts cry out “who is so great a God as our God?”

3. We can only know God, and appropriate Him as our own, in conformity with His infallible, inspired Word. The only true God is the One revealed in Scripture, an infinite Being, Who is a pure spirit, possessing every excellence and perfection in an infinite degree. He is living eternally in three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as disclosed to us in the Old and New Testaments. There are multiplied theories and imaginations about God, widely differing from “our own God” revealed in Scripture. No one can come into personal acquaintance, and loving union with God, except through the Scripture method of repentance, faith in an atoning Savior, and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

God never reveals Himself to any soul except in accordance with His Word. Every so-called religious experience that does not agree with Scripture is a demon religion, and the work of evil spirits. A true saint is always orthodox to the core. There are about as many false notions about God in so-called Christian lands as there are idols in heathen lands. There never has been a real saintly character found as the fruit of false religion. God cannot lie, and hence He cannot unveil His adorable self to a false faith, or a counterfeit, perverted form of religious teaching. The soul that is too proud to get purified by the precious blood of Jesus, will never find access to the blessed life of knowing, and communing with, the ever-living God. Fellowship with God is not a mere play of intellect, nor flight of poetry, nor a gush of human sentimentalism. It is a deep, sacred, holy agreement of heart, and nature, and person, and exclusive love, between the perfectly submissive creature and his Creator and Redeemer.

This fellowship is vast enough to include human sentiment, and the exercise of reason, and the finest poetry, and the most gorgeous imagination, but is greater than all these, just as the thunder storm is far mightier than the beautiful rainbow that floats upon its receding skirts. Apostolic experiences of knowing God, come only to those souls who have Apostolic faith in the Lord Jesus as a divine, atoning Savior, forgiving our sins, and after that, sanctifying our hearts through His most precious blood, and giving to us the blessed Holy Spirit, to work in us the Words of Christ, and reveal to us the Father and the Son.

4. To serve God out of a personal love for Him is the condition of all true peace and happiness, and the fountain of holy character. While there are manifold varieties of religious experience, and many distinct types of piety, yet there are two classes into which all the servants of God on the earth can be divided; namely, those who serve Him mainly out of love, and those who serve Him mainly out of duty. Law and love are the two hemispheres in the service of our God. Those who serve out of love must have in them the law of God and the principle of duty; and on the other hand, those who serve Him as a duty, striving to keep His law, have also some measure of love. But every soul who serves God, has his spiritual home in the hemisphere of either the love side, or the law side.

While the service out of the principle of duty is essential in some stages of grace, yet it never has in it the summer heat to produce full-grown saints, or the best products of life.

When the soul passes into the torrid zone of salvation, and serves God out of a perfect and personal attachment and affection for Him, there is then accomplished in the most natural and beautiful way, all the virtues and practical fruits of righteousness and holiness, which those who serve mostly from duty are always striving after and never reaching. Instead of loving the service of God, we are to love God Himself and serve because we love Him. In other words, God is to be the object of our love, and not our service the object of it.

Again, out of our personal love for God, grows the broadest liberty of spirit, and deepest tranquility of heart, and the most tender, beautiful flow of charity for all creatures. All spiritual bondage, religious narrowness, and legal struggles to bear fruit by doing our duty is because our souls have never been let out into the warm, summer sea of personal love for God. Love performs the greatest of all duties, without ever taking time to reflect on whether it is doing its duty, for pure love puts into its service a good deal more than mere duty.

God loves to be loved. Hence those who serve Him out of personal love are admitted into deeper acquaintance with Himself, and receive His Fatherly caresses in a manner that other souls would not appreciate and hardly believe possible in this life. God is not partial, but it is nothing less than pure equity, and eminently fitting, that He should give Himself most freely and tenderly to those who abandon themselves without reserve into His hands.

As enchanting scenery in nature, and the power of sweet sounds, and the bewildering beauties of poetry, belong most to those whose capacities are most widely open to take them in, so the unutterable blessedness of God belongs most to those whose capacities are under the greatest power of the Holy Spirit. Love can in reality never give its heart of hearts to anything but love. We own God by personal love for Him.

This is the fountain of strongest character, of the best fruits of righteousness, of the most heroic daring, of the most arduous undertakings, of the most venturesome boldness, of the most graceful and thoughtful manners, of the deepest self-sacrifice, of the noblest generosity and kindness.

5. Nothing so inspires us in our life work as the deep, peaceful conviction that the living God is all our own. He is our last end in all our plans and labors. When we are working for God, and in God, and working with God, there is a quiet, deep perseverance, a patient courage, and an assurance of the success of our work, which it is impossible for the soul to have when working for self, or for the things of this world.

Nothing can fail that has God’s purposes and life in it. When we become truly enlightened by the Holy Spirit, we have in reality nothing to live for but Jesus, to drink of His mind, to obey His calling, to follow His providences, to fill the vocation in life to which He calls us, to be possessed with His motives, His prayers, His charity, to bury our interests in His, because His are so much better than our own, and to have a supreme abiding desire to finish the work that He calls us to do.

This was the abiding passion of Jesus Himself, to finish the work His Father assigned Him. And this was the all-mastering motive of Paul, to run the race assigned him by Christ, and win the prize held out to him by Divine promise. Men of the world, and countless numbers of professed Christians, know nothing whatever of a life-work that does not have self for its central inspiration, and its last end. How little they know, that all work which is not done in God’s will most certainly shall pass away!

“He that doeth the will of God shall abide forever,” and the same truth is equally true, the work which is done in the will of God shall abide forever. We make God our own by loving Him better than we love our life, and we make His work our own by putting a value on it far beyond any plan or work of our own. The true worth of any word, or sermon, or song, or book, or building, or mission, or donation, or prayer, depends exactly on how much of Christ there is in it.

A little thing, with God’s purpose in it, has a strange, abiding, persevering life that will survive a thousand great showy things that look for a time as if they would fill the world. When we know that we are working for God, with a pure unselfish motive to please Him, and feel assured that He calls us to do that work, and is standing behind us in the work, we are practically invincible against discouragement, for having died to self, the whole enterprise is identified with the Lord. Such a soul may be without means, without friends, and loaded down with infirmities, persecutions, and seemingly insurmountable difficulties; and have to plod on in obscurity, or shame, or reproach, or poverty, for years; and have inward assaults from Satan, but that secret, fathomless assurance, that it is working with God, and for God, fills it with a bright, quiet, immortality of perseverance. The greatest part of a good work is always out of sight, where the soul is working with God in holy prayer and purpose.

St. Paul cried out, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” The converse is equally true that if we are for God, lovingly and entirely for Him, what man or demon can successfully be against us?

6. When we come into union with God, He becomes the inward fountain of our lives. He is the source of all our peace, and joy, and inspiration, our only true Comforter, and as He promised to Abraham, “our exceeding and great reward.” We were created to fit into the Divine attributes just as beautifully as the senses of our body fit into the sights, and sounds, and odors of the magnificent created world about us. As we make restful, crimson sunset our own through the eye, and the perfume of flowers our own through the nose, so we make the blessed perfections of God our own treasure through those faculties and capacities of our nature that fit into them.

The perfections of God support us by their contrast to our lack of them, which is simply our empty capacity for receiving them.

God’s justice arouses our fear, and gives us a sense of the need of righteousness, and is the grand preacher that leads to repentance and submission. His mercy wins our hope, and calls forth our venturesome faith. His power is what our weakness leans upon, and over and over again becomes the soft bed upon which our struggling and tired hearts lie down for rest. His omnipresence that fills every point in space, and never lets go one atom out of His sight, is the cure for our discouragement and uneasiness when we apprehend that He is in everything to us. His unlimited knowledge, that perfectly understands everything in the universe, past, present, or future, is the blessed satisfaction to our ignorance.

When we rest in God, we get the benefit of all that He knows, just the same as if we knew it ourselves. It is one of the secret joys of our heavenly Father, that He can use His knowledge for the benefit of His ignorant creatures.

The little child of the captain of a ship, with its father on the ocean, gets the benefit of all the knowledge that its father has about navigation; and in like manner, the great Captain that steers all these swiftly sailing worlds over the seas of space, lets the riches of His infinite knowledge softly enfold His poor creatures, who are just beginning to pick up the first rudiments of knowledge, and whose ignorance prevents them from knowing what may transpire the next moment.

God’s love, in a very special way, fits into our personality. Just as personality is the supreme fact in the universe, so love is the supreme thing in personality. Love must flow from some individual, and cannot exist as an external principle.

Personality necessitates communion, fellowship, friendship, ties of agreement, and mutual feelings. Even in the Godhead, there is of eternal necessity, the three Divine persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, of the same spirit substance, Who in their glorious personalities love each Other, commune with each Other, agree with each Other, and have an uncreated and unspeakable bliss in appreciating each Other.

Hence the love of God is for our individuality, and it is that love that meets and satisfies our personality. What shall we say of that glorious perfection, the Divine fidelity, by virtue of which He is a covenant-keeping God, and never breaks a promise, or for one instant forgets to keep His word, through all the successive generations of men!

It is God’s fidelity that forms the granite rock upon which our confidence stands, or walks, or reposes. What an immense resting place for our faith is the adorable faithfulness of God! The passage, “have faith in God,” most literally translated is, “grasp God’s faithfulness.” The Scriptures refer to God’s fidelity, His faithfulness, His covenant-keeping character, more frequently than to any other perfection in the Divine nature.

The more than thirty thousand promises in Scripture are each one separate vouchers of God’s attribute of fidelity. Let it be so, for the paramount sin of the race is unbelief, and our faith needs abundant feeding. God’s faithfulness is exactly that perfection which our hungry faith must constantly eat and drink. To study God’s faithfulness will prove celestial wine to our weak confidence.

God’s providence—there is nothing in all the world like it; so mysterious, so multiplied, so exact, so vigilant, so minute, so intricate. It is like an immense loom, with millions of threads and flying shuttles, that may seem to be moving in opposite directions, and tangled in every way, yet forever weaving out a pattern of God’s ways, with every figure and color in the right place, sufficient to thrill the intellects of saints and angels.

God’s providence is the playground of His fidelity. His fidelity is the loom, and His providence is the placing of the separate threads in the pattern. To study God’s providence is a panacea for doubt. He who notices a providence will never fail to have a providence to notice, for it is an exhaustless ocean, out from the depths of which new waves are ever breaking forth upon the shore. Our hope is forever resting upon God’s unfailing providence. The immutability of God is the place of our most solid and abiding rest. How His blessed unchangeableness perfectly fits into all our frailty, our vacillation, and the mutations of earthly things and human friendships!

God’s immutability which is expressed in the uniformity of natural law age after age, is the rock on which His changeable creatures can assuredly rest. But for His unchangeable truth, the qualities of matter would play us foul, and water might burn us. The sun might rise in the west, or north, and every sequence of causes be upset, to the utter ruin of all life and happiness. Scripture says, “It is because God changes not that the sons of men are not consumed.” The very thought that Jesus might change from the dear, blessed, lowly, loving Savior He was when on earth would make our souls quiver with alarm. How sweetly and peacefully we lay ourselves down on those words, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and for ever.”

150 @ $100- Sweet 16

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This summer is the Chi Alpha building’s SWEET 16!  We want to invite all alumni and friends of Sam Houston State Chi Alpha to celebrate together by paying off our note and by making the building ready to best serve another generation of students.

So many of us have had tremendous life-changing experiences in Chi Alpha – this place and that time in our lives has marked us.  Life has been more rich because of what Jesus did in our hearts while were students at SHSU.  So many wonderful things have happened . . . You met the Savior and learned to walk with Him, maybe you met your spouse, and some of the best friends you will ever have.  Perhaps the Lord touched you during a worship service, or healed you, or called you into ministry.

This building has been a place of celebration – hundreds and hundreds of gradations and weddings and babies.  It has been a launching place for some of the best people in the world to go out and make a difference in their community and workplace, and to raise beautiful families.  And the Lord has called so many of us into ministry – this years’ intern class will take us over 200 people trained and sent into full-time ministry all over the world!  None of us could have known what God intended to do with just a bunch of Bearkats who love Jesus – But He has done incredibly more than any of us could have dreamed.

Will you join us this month in taking part of 150 @ $100?  If we rally together with a one-time gift of just $100 each, we can retire this building note.  If anything comes in over that amount, we would love to put it towards a commercial kitchen – any of you who have ever cooked here know what an adventure it is to feed several hundred people with four burners and one oven!  All of this will help us better reach and serve more students as they come to Huntsville this fall and in the years to come.

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Thank you so much for all you do- we are so grateful for the time and prayers you invested here as a student!  The Lord continues to do beautiful things in the hearts and lives of students and their families, and we thank you so much for considering taking part in this campaign.

Give online at givexa.com

PODCAST: Eli Gautreaux – Loving Each other

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A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing— Life forevermore.

Psalms 133:0–3

PODCAST: Eli Stewart- What’s In A Name?

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Screenshot 2015-03-05 14.13.16The Battle Over Your Purpose

 

Daniel 1:1–8

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god. Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego. But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. 

TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

XA Tournament of Champions!
Thursday February 5th at 7pm
XA House 1010 15th Street

Relay races, spike ball, trivia crack, and so much more: Compete in small groups, gaining points for your resource group.

hashtagxachamps

Want to earn points for your resource prior to the event?

Grab your small group, an instagram account, use this hashtag #xachamps, submit it by 12pm on Thursday, and choose your poison:

Instagram Pictures:

  • Visit Old Sparky

  • Sam Houston’s Grave

  • The Graffiti Wall

  • Sam Houston’s Home

  • Sam Houston Statue

  • Sweet’s & Eats (everyone must have blue tongues)

  • Matching Outfits- head to toe

  • Buckee’s Run

  • Try on a funny outfit at Lee Baron

  • Find an employee somewhere in Huntsville that has the same name as you, proof must be their name tag

Instagram Videos:

  • Duct tape a sg member to a wall

  • Donut Wheel at 4AM

  • Flash Mob the mall area on campus during high traffic time with a choreographed dance

  • Flash Mob the mall area on campus during high traffic time with a rap

  • Choreograph and perform a cheer at a random intramural game

  • Pull off something cool at your house

*Minimum of 4 people to qualify in each picture/video, extra points for creativity; small groups can participate in as many pre-qualifying events as they want!

**Your resource group will be disqualified from the entire event if you do anything illegal, if you destroy any property, or if you do anything to get in trouble with the university, local businesses or the city. 

PODCAST: Eli Stewart Holiness Gives You Freedom To Love

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In Preparation to reach our campus we take time to let the Holy Spirit search us and purify our hearts- so that a watching world will see Jesus in us, amongst us, through us.  We also endeavor that whoever we bring in will not get "covered" in the crowd- but will see Jesus and become clean, clothed in Holiness.

  Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalms 1:1-3 (NLT)

And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” Revelations 4:8

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.  Hebrews 12:14

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.  2 Corinthians 7:1

 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Proverbs 8:13

 He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. Happy is the man who is always reverent, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.  Proverbs 28:13-14

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.  Romans 13:14

   Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.  1 Peter 1:22

   Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! Micah 7:18-19