Archive for May, 2015


Posted: May 29, 2015 in Life
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The following is a modernization/paraphrase of Reparation from Some Fruits of Solitude by William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) with some reflections following.

If you have hurt someone in any way, don’t try to defend your actions: Own up to it! If you do so, you have the chance of gaining forgiveness. Becoming defensive only doubles the wrong and the consequences to yourself.

Some set honor opposite to submission. Put another way, they equate humility with humiliation. But it is hardly honorable to stick to your guns when the initial act was itself dishonorable.

On the other hand, to confess a fault that is, in fact, no fault at all out of fear of how people will perceive you is weakness and should be beneath you. But obstinately defending a real fault is brutish.

We should be quicker to help others than we are to hurt them. If wronged by another, instead of being vindictive, we should leave them to their own misery and internal judgment.

True honor will lead one to repay more than the cost of damages rather than try to justify one wrong with yet another on top of it.

Fear and greed are both great perverters of the human soul. Where either prevail, justice is violated.

Two events are seared into my memory. They taught me the importance of owning up to my own errors. The first was blaming my little sister for something I did. I can still hear her crying as she took the punishment for my sin. I’ve long since confessed this to her and my mother (neither of whom remembered the event) but it haunts me to this day. The second event was during my senior year of high school. I sent an anonymous letter to the district on an issue which had me upset. The fallout from that letter adversely affected people I cared about. With my father’s help I screwed up the courage to meet with the superintendent and principal and confess to the authorship of the letter. I don’t remember the exact details of the conversations but the result was that wrongs were righted, the innocent were acquitted, and (strangest of all outcomes) my own reputation improved. I finished the year with a strong relationship with school administration and was invited back to speak to groups of students on a couple occasions.

I wish I could say that since then I’ve always owned my part in a conflict. Alas, I am human and still learning (and relearning) how to be a good one (or at least a better one than I was yesterday). But I can attest that where I have realized my error and confessed it to the one wronged, that things have largely gone smoother for me.


Qualities of a Friend

Posted: May 28, 2015 in Life
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The following is a modernization/paraphrase of portions of Qualities of a Friend from Some Fruits of Solitude by William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) with some reflections following.

True friends freely share their thoughts and concerns with each other. They give each other sound advice, are quick to help each other, take risks for each other, are patient, defend each other and whatever else may happen, remain true to each other.

Since these are the qualities of a good friend, we ought to look for these qualities in a prospective friends.

People who are covetous, angry, arrogant, jealous, and those who can’t keep their mouths shut make poor (and false) friends.

Basically, when should be as careful in choosing friends as one would a spouse and with the same longevity in mind: Till death separates you.

When I think of true friendship, I think of David and Jonathan (son of King Saul) from the Bible. Their friendship was so tight that even when it became obvious that David, not Jonathan, would be the next king of Israel, Jonathan re-pledged his loyalty and actually looked forward to serving his friend. How many of us would be glad at our best friend taking our “rightful” place and look forward to playing second fiddle? Even more amazing to me is Jonathan’s continual defense of his friend before his father and even disobeying his father and siding with his friend when the proverbial chips were down.

There are those who seem to have hundreds of friends. I question that. Maybe I question that because I do not, nor can I fathom such a thing. I have a few friends for whom I would drop everything and be by their side if they should need me. How many is “a few”? I can count them on one hand.

The thing that brings me up short is when I apply Penn’s litmus test to myself and examine how I measure up. Am I a good candidate for a friend?

The following is a modernization/paraphrase of Bounds of Charity from Some Fruits of Solitude by William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) with some particular application following.

Don’t lend more than you can afford to lose, and don’t refuse to lend money to someone if you can afford it; especially if it can help someone else more than it can hurt you.

If your debtor is honest and able, you will get your money back, if not with interest, then with thanks. If he cannot pay you back, don’t ruin him to regain that which will not ruin you to lose. Remember that you are merely a steward and someone else is your owner, master, and judge.

The more merciful acts you perform, the more mercy you will receive; and if, by using your earthly riches charitably, you gain eternal treasure, then your purchase is infinite: You will have discovered something even better than the key to winning at the stock market or beating the casino.

Applicable Thoughts
My daughter keeps lending out pencils at school. Lending and seldom getting them back. Her generosity has denuded our supply of the wood and graphite sticks. In frustration we told her to stop giving pencils away. This word from Mr. Penn has challenged me. We’re not rolling in dough. In fact right now things are particularly tight, but a box of pencils is nothing: As Christ has said, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much…” (Luke 16:10a ESV). I think we need to give her the go-ahead to be generous.

The following is a modernization/paraphrase of Disappointment and Resignation from Some Fruits of Solitude by William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718).

Disappointments that come our way, not from our own foolishness, are the trials or corrections of heaven. It is our own fault, however, if we do not grow from these experiences. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

To complain about these trials does no good. When we do we are, in fact, complaining about God’s handing of things. But to see the very hand of God in these experiences, humbly submitting to His will, is the way to turn this water into wine. Through this we find that the greatest Love and Mercy is in fact on our side.

We need a serious attitude adjustment if we only see what we’ve lost. If, on the other hand, we stop for a minute and consider how little we deserve even what we have left then we will find that our anger and frustration will subside and our grumbling will turn into thankfulness.

If God is aware of every hair on our heads and knows when each falls, how much more so is aware of our situation? If he cares for the grass of the field and the birds of the air, how much more does he care for and provide for us?

No matter how far we fall, or how low we feel, we are never below the reach of God.

Though Christ’s passion (his suffering) is finished, his compassion will never end. He will never fail his humble, sincere disciples. We find more in the very person of Christ Himself than any worldly thing we might lose.


Posted: May 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

“If” by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

Unlevel Pouting Field

Posted: May 15, 2015 in Family
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We have a rule in our house: “Happy or Bed.”

It is a matter of great consternation to my wife and I that this rule can only (unfairly in our opinion) be applied to the children and not the adults.