When you get to get old

“My tongues are stuck!”

Great-Grandpa sits down to help with still-moving little legs and fixes my boy up in a “jiffy” as he says.
“Why’s your skin so saggy?” (he’s very bold). Great-Grandpa’s grinning “I’m saggy cuz I’m old!”
He doesn’t get into all the detail of the five kids he’d raised, or the Navy ships sailed.
He explains: “Life causes wrinkles, some scrapes, even a dent” but my boy’s not quite sure what Great-Grandpa meant.
How much can a little one really know about things that happened far away, another time ago?
Some thirty times longer than he’s been alive! My son can’t imagine a grey head’s inside.
Great-Grandpa’s been places, seen things, made the news! But today he’ll just be an expert on shoes.
“Thanks Grandpa. Want to see how high I can jump?” He flies off the couch and lands with a thump.
Great-Grandpa smiles and a secret’s been told, there’s more joy in the watching when you get to get old.
Three years old and ninety one. For both the best days are yet to come

Alistair James

On July 31, 2015 my son Alistair James passed away in the womb.  I never got to meet him in this life.  I often think of how old he would be and wonder how he would interact with his older brother and sister, or what milestones he would be reaching now; first step, first solid food, first word.  He was first in one respect: that, before me, he got to see Jesus face to face.

Here lies my son
My son who sleeps
Whose every secret heaven keeps
Whose smile is hidden from my view
Whose lungs first breath of glory drew

My son who walks,
On golden streets, with great saints talks
Whose mind man’s sin has never known
Who worships his true Father’s throne

My son who lives
In perfect peace and freely gives
Each thought and word to God’s great praise
Precedes myself in being raised

My son…
My son…
My son…
Oh my soul rejoice in you!
Yours whose eyes have a view
Of Savior sweet, and Spirit meet.
And Father good, and faithful, and true.

Confession

In the presence of God, because we are constantly in it, all my sins have been done.  Through our mediator Jesus Christ, we are ever before him, not separated by a veil or a cloud or a temple wall.  Thus our sin, each thoroughly conceived and executed by my own mind and body contrary to the Spirit of God within me, is done fully in his view and without any separation.  My mind, will and passions consort against the Spirit of God at all times, every part of me being infected by the root of sin.  That old man in my flesh who was crucified with Christ continually groans to pull himself down off the cross.  This exercise is to return him to it, to drive the nails again deeper into the palms and soles of my sin.

I have not loved God with my whole heart.  Indeed my passions have been divided.  I’ve worshipped my work, thinking that my own worth was tied up in that performance, thereby dishonoring God’s creation of me by attaching to it’s value merit.  I’ve worshipped wealth, not thinking first of God’s church with my spending and even wasting money on selfish gain.  I have accepted the praise of others for talents given to me by God, rather than correcting their praise towards God.

I have set up idols.  I have honored skilled musicians and wise individuals without giving God the glory for the gifts he’s given them.  I have pursued financial stability rather than church service.  Even good gifts, I have worshipped instead of the giver.

I have taken the Name of the Lord in vain.  His name is holy and I am known by it and I am not constantly concerned about how my reputation reflects him.  Every angry outburst, every harsh word, every lack of excellence in my work reflects the savior by which I am known.  Did he lack self-control? Was he unloving? Was he a shoddy carpenter? Never. But my reflection has been imperfect.  His name is written on my heart yet I – his temple – do not care for my own body as I ought.

I have not honored my parents. They will tell you!  I have not treated them with respect consistently.  There are many times when I ought to ask their advice, help and blessing but do not in my pride.  I assume that I have learned enough about life as an adult in the last 10 years that I could not possibly learn anything from their more than 40 years of experience.  I think I can be a good parent independent of their help, that I am responsible for how well I care for my children and not owing to the life-long example they’ve set.

I have not often kept the Sabbath. Too often have I worked through complete seven day weeks without pausing for even a few hours, let alone an entire day to consider the completeness of God’s work.  My working tirelessly without reflecting on the goodness of God does not bring him glory, it robs him of glory.  I have failed to recognize that he is the source of all blessing, not my work.  

I have not been guiltless of murder.  Though I’ve never taken a life, my heart has been angry towards brothers, sisters, wife, children, friends, parents, co-workers, the list goes on.  “Everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement.” Christ says (Matt 5:22).  If so then I was born a murderer and have murdered left and right since that day.  What a twisted man I am who becomes angry at his own family!

I have been guilty of lusts.  Gouge out an eye, cut off a hand, but how does a man carve images out of the mind and amputate thoughts?  I have had such thoughts!

I have stolen. Time from my wife and children to which they have a rightful claim.  Time from my employer when a moment of productivity is lost.  Time from my church when I fail to adequately prepare for Sunday worship.  Money from God when what ought to be my first fruits turn out to be leftovers when I mismanage the stewardship He has given me.  Love from my kids when I am impatient with them rather than understanding.  Love from my wife when a disagreement separates our fellowship for a moment.  Love from God at every breaking of his law for he is infinitely worthy of my obedience and the yoke he has placed on me is easy and light.  I owe him love not only because he first loved me, but in love, sought me; in seeking, found me in my sin; once found, he rescued me; and is carrying me back into his eternal fold forever and ever. Amen!

I have bourn false witness. I have not been a champion of the truth.  I have bent and misshaped the truth for my own gain.  Even this effort at personal confession falls scornfully short of the true nature of my inner man.  God is truth, and in Him the truth about me is that I never measure up to His standard; that I always fall short of His glory.  The truth of God is that I am as much a liar as that snake from the beginning and every sort of self-serving falsehood wells up within me.

I have desired other’s belongings. Disregarding both the fact that God alone judges between men and that God supplies all my needs according to His riches and glory, I have desired the blessings given to others.  All gifts from God are holy unto God, but I have treated them with contempt and as a measuring rod between men. How selfish and foolish am I?

At every turn I have broken this law of God for I am a sinner in need of a savior.


Thank You

My heart was a stone
I know that I never could change it
If you’d left me alone
I know I would never have made it

So I sing, “thank you, thank you, thank you”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” for the cross.

I’d only known fear.
Broken by life’s every trial
But then you drew near
And walked with me every mile.

Had you not sacrificed,
Selflessly gave your life,
Where would I be?
Where would I be?
You sent your son to die,
Willingly paid the price.
You did that for me,
You did it for me.

Maxims of Francois de La Rochefoucauld

As the title suggests I cannot take credit for the below.  They are, however, thought-provoking and entertaining.  Enjoy!

“A man is truly honorable if he is willing to be perpetually exposed to the scrutiny of honorable people.”


“Nothing is so contagious as example, and we never do very good deeds or very evil ones without producing imitations. We copy the good deeds in a spirit of emulation, and the bad ones because of the malignity of our nature — which shame used to hold under lock and key, but an example sets free.”


It is more often pride than lack of enlightenment that makes us oppose so stubbornly the generally accepted view of something. We find the front seats already taken on the correct side, and we do not want any of the back ones.


Humility is often merely a pretense of submissiveness, which we use to make other people submit to us. It is an artifice by which pride debases itself in order to exalt itself; and though it can transform itself in thousands of ways, pride is never better disguised and more deceptive than when it is hidden behind the mask of humility.

 


We are deceiving ourselves if we think that only the violent passions, such as ambition and love, can conquer the others. Laziness, sluggish though it is, often manages to dominate them; it wrests from us all of life’s plans and deeds, where it imperceptibly destroys and devours the passions and virtues alike.


Hardly any man is clever enough to know all the evil he does.


We are very far from knowing all our wishes.


Plenty of people disdain possessions, but few know how to give them away.


Humility is the true test of the Christian virtues: without it, we retain all our faults, and they are merely covered by pride, which hides them from other people and often from ourselves.


Fortune reveals our virtues and vices, just as light reveals objects.


Nearly all of our faults are more forgivable than the means we use to hide them.


Few people know how to be old.


We never desire passionately what we desire by reason alone.


We usually slander out of vanity rather than malice.


Quarrels would not last long if the fault was only on one side.

 

“Untitled” Poem

If the stars were not silent but spoke what they saw
If the wind could be burdened with my love for you
If the sun and the moon were to rise on my cue
If my mouth could but utter the words of that law

What depths of my soul like fresh water you draw
What height of great heaven has common sense flew
That my lowly esteem your love subtly drew
And not once did your naked eye ever see flaw

Yet the years that have passed us by, some have been cruel.
For with joy there is sorrow, and love bears a test.
For if ever there stands to be hope for this fool
and though heated our sentiments hope to be cooled
Then our greatest striving shall be to find rest
Among stars that can speak, a cool breeze and the light.

To a Lover

Sweet lover lay down in field fallow
Sweet woman recline in my arms
My shelter cool under shadow
And love will suppress your alarms
Sweet lover lay down in embrace
And forsake no moment therein
Tell no one of our secret place
As sky and horizon grow thin
Sweet lover lay down in my tears
And make me to see no more weeping
Whisper way all my fears
And pray for me as I lay sleeping.
Sweet lover lay down in my love
And return my affections in time
Be nobody else’s true love
As you will be no one’s but mine.