Panache

“Men propound mathematical theorems in besieged cities, conduct metaphysical arguments in condemned cells, make jokes on the scaffold, discuss a new poem while advancing to the walls of Quebec, and comb their hair at Thermopylae. This is not panache; it is our nature.” ― C.S. Lewis

Man has the remarkable innate ability to handle even the most trying of circumstances with grace, ingenuity, and dignity. His spirit – fired by love and tempered by truth – is the spirit of overcoming. And his heart – as delicate and sensitive an instrument as it is – is his connection to wisdom. When in alignment, man’s spirit and heart become a channel through which his inner panache finds expression in relation to the details of his living.

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Quietude

“Quietude, which some men cannot abide because it reveals their inward poverty, is as a palace of cedar to the wise…” – Charles H. Spurgeon quotes (English preacher of 19th century 1834-1892)

The modern world, with its obsessive compulsive materialism, places little value on inner wealth. As a result, the heart and mind of modern man is plagued with unceasing disquietude.

This state is self-reinforcing. The less you abide in quietude the less able you are to accommodate the solace it provides. Rare is the person these days, it seems, who is willing to dwell for any amount of time in the eternal palace of cedar which is built by love’s hands.

Quietude is always at hand. The question I suppose is are you man or woman enough to abide it?

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The New Day

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

One of my favorite biblical analogies is recorded the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. According to Matthew, Jesus said, “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.”

The bottles referred to were not made of glass, but partially tanned goatskins and the new wine or “must” was placed in the bottles for easier transport. The must, which is partially fermented wine, creates gas as it continues to ferment. New goatskin bottles would stretch from the pressure, but once stretched they lost their elasticity. Hence, putting new wine into an old bottle would likely end in a big mess and a total loss of the new wine.

This parable was given by Jesus when he was asked why His disciples didn’t fast like the Pharisee’s, but I’ve found it to be useful in a number of different contexts. For instance, what do you do with the wine of a new day? Do you pour it into an old bottle (e.g. an old frame of mind, a closed and stale heart, etc.) or do you put it in a new bottle (e.g. a fresh outlook, an open and thankful heart, etc.)?

I’ve found in my own experience that way I end the day – and more particularly the state in which I leave my heart and mind before I fall asleep – significantly influences the way I begin the next day. Taking time for thanksgiving, repentance, forgiveness and a general settling of the factors of the previous day makes it much more likely that I will greet “the strength and the new thoughts” of the new day with an open and untroubled heart and a rested and keen mind.

If your days seem to be an endless round I would suggest to you that it is not a matter of externalities. If your life has become monotonous changing the stimuli will likely have little, if any, lasting effect. The problem more likely resides in you and the “bottle” you are offering to the sunrise of the new day. Rather than ask yourself what can I change around me, ask instead, how can I better prepare myself for the unique blessings of the new day?

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Love’s Challenge

“True love is not a strong, fiery, impetuous passion. It is, on the contrary, an element calm and deep. It looks beyond mere externals, and is attracted by qualities alone. It is wise and discriminating, and its devotion is real and abiding.” – Ellen G. White

If you’ve ever had the rare privilege of touching true love, you know how real and powerful it is. True love, sufficiently yielded to, can overcome any obstacle which stands in its way, but you must trust that you have sufficient courage and wisdom within you to rise consistently to meet the challenges presented by that which would seek to frustrate the expression of true love on earth, as it is in heaven.

You can either live in fear that love cannot overcome or live in the faith and eventual knowledge that love’s power is supreme. The choice is that simple.

What will it be? Will you let fear rule your heart and determine your fate or will you yield to love’s command and challenge?

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Vulnerability and Personal Security

A friend of mine made an interesting statement to me yesterday about personal security. He observed in his work that people are reluctant to embrace vulnerability because there is not a clear spirit of trust. Most people have had their trust violated by others and as a result, they try to hide their vulnerabilities instead of opening themselves more fully to others.  He said, “There can be no security without vulnerability…”

Personal security does not come about when you wall yourself off from others or the world. You may feel a surface relief from the big, bad unknowns in the world at large when you hide your weaknesses and vulnerabilities from others, but you will always on this basis be afraid that something might get through.

Why can there be no security without vulnerability? For starters, no man is complete in and of himself. We all have strengths and weaknesses and we need one another to balance those out. You must make yourself vulnerable to others, that is, reveal your weaknesses to them so that their strengths might fortify you. They probably see your weaknesses anyway, so if you’re trying to hide them, you’re really probably only fooling yourself.

 

 

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Willfully, Blissfully Ignorant

“In diagnosing physical disease, we are assisted by symptomology. Pain is man’s kindest benefactor, often revealing to him his plight in time to apply a remedy. When, however, the reason becomes ill because of some abnormal attitude, the afflicted one is the last to see the symptoms, and too often it is another who feels the pain of the infection. When turned awry, the mind loses its own sense of proportion, becoming incapable of recognizing its own infirmities. Bound as to a wheel by faulty reckoning, it goes round and round upon the axis of its notion, oblivious to the errors of its perspective. A person thus distressed can see the faults of every other man, but of his own is blissfully ignorant, yet willfully so. When his unreasonable purposes begin to bear fruit in the form of various ills, someone else is to blame – never himself.” Manly P. Hall, from “Right Thinking”

Abnormal thinking is usually devoid of the perspective which naturally aligns right thinking with wisdom. Right thinking requires honesty with oneself, a willingness to be vulnerable to both God and men, and and a regular and deep purging of unreasonable (typically self-centered) purposes.

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