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Thursday, April 19, 2018

APRIL 19, 2019

PROVERBS 20:11, 29


"Even a child is known by his doings,
whether his work be pure, and whether it be right."




"The glory of young men is their strength;
and the beauty (honor, splendor) of old men
is the grey head (hair)."

Various uses for a tree.
 
So in this chapter we have it all covered, from a child to youth, to the aged.



I confess that I have tried to teach the  verse, "Even a child is known by his doings,"  to my children as well as reciting it from time to time in their upbringing.  Raising kids up in the parsonage as P.K.'s, they were often under a microscope whether it was innocent curiosity or critical observations to fuel hen pecking busybodies.  Perhaps they might not have realized that my children also observed them as well building their concept of what the church is made of building discretion and discernment whether the members walk was pure and right.

Another use for trees.

Adam Clarke has an interesting take on this which enters the current discussion in our nations Department of Education.  I for one endorse what they have to say, i.e. not every one can be poured into a one size fits all academic pursuits.


Alas another tree experience.

"'Even a child is known by his doings'  'A childe is known by his conversation,' says Cloverdale.  A child is easily detected when he has done evil he immediately begins to excuse and vindicate himself, and profess his innocence, almost before accusation takes place...But probably the principal thing intended by the wise man is, that we may easily learn from the child what the man will be.  In general, they give indications of those trades and callings for which they are adapted by nature.  And, on the whole, we cannot go by a surer guide in preparing our children for future life, than by observing their early propensities.  The future engineer is seen in the little handicrafts man of two year old.  Many children are crossed in these early propensities to a particular calling, to their great prejudice, and the loss of their parents, as they seldom settle at, or make much out, at the business to which they are tied, and to which nature has given them no tendency.  These infantile predilections to particular callings, we should consider as indications of Divine Providence, and its calling of them to that work for which they are particularly fitted."  This was Adam Clarke's experience because he was a square peg his parents sought to hammer into a round hole which nearly defeated God's purpose for his genius.


Finally, there it is.


Isn't it fascinating observing our little ones, our grandchildren, how their minds work.  Yet, since we still have a child at home, we especially feel this as he struggles in school partly due to a processing delay which makes reading difficult or coming up with timely responses whether in conversations or tests.  We have however encouraged his interest in everything military.  He knows the history of war especially the Civil War and World War II.  He astounds us sometimes with his knowledge much greater than ours.  So, we encouraged him to join the Civil War Reenactments.  Now we are pursuing the opportunity for a chance of enrolling in the Discovery Challenge Academy.

This DCA is an arm of National Guard which serves to enroll at risk students who have already dropped out or who are at risk for doing so.  The federal government and the state partner in its cost for five and a half months, $22,000.  So far he has been to an orientation in Lathrop, California.  After filling out extensive forms which must not only be filled out by us, but also by schools, doctors, mental health personnel and other hoops to jump through.  It is a quasi-military organization and everything must be done in a complete and timely manner.  Next he will have an interview.  After that, if he makes it that far, will be a Roll Call, a twenty-four hour trial to see how he handles it.  We are praying hard and scurrying to get all the paperwork done.  This is a perfect opportunity for him to follow his interests, but the slots are limited.  Who would think that a child's doings, even if it means struggling academically, creates this possibility!  Please pray with us because otherwise it will be a miracle for him to graduate.


As for youth, Adam Clarke writes, "Scarcely any young man affects to be wise, learned, etc: but  all delight to shew their strength, and to be reputed strong.  Agility, one evidence of strength, they particularly affect; and hence their various trials of strength and fleetness in public exercises."


As a young girl in fourth grade, I entered the challenges to arm wrestle.  I beat the best of the boys which caused them much chagrin and teasing.  There were other fitness challenges, including when even at a younger age in which I won a blue ribbon for the long jump.  Hmm.  If you know me now, I know that is hard to believe I could ever win at any athletic endeavor.  Still, when my teenager went out for wrestling, we supported him when he refused to wrestle a three hundred pound girl and dropped out of the sport.  I believe in equal but different.



Now being a woman of a certain age, I relate more with the splendor of gray hair.  I've told my children I've earned every gray hair and am proud of them!  My gray hair is beautiful, as say my kind daughters and sweet grandchildren who tell me so now and then.  But it's not merely the silver hair, but hopefully what it represents under those hair follicles, a life worthy of respect.  


Adam Clarke says, "They no longer affect strength and agility: but they affect wisdom, experience, prudent counsels, etc; and are fond of being reputed wise, and of having respect paid to their understanding and experience."  Yep.  Considering the alternative, I'll take being wise any day!  The silver hair is just the icing.








Wednesday, April 18, 2018

APRIL 18, 2018

PROVERBS 20:15


"There is gold and a multitude of rubies; 
But the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel."

It was a small gathering, not like the balls given by the ton or the musicals or even a garden party.  Rather, this was just a dinner party for a select few.  As Jane pulled up her long glove and worked to fasten its tiny pearl button, she heard the prattle of her maid.  

"The housekeeper told the cook that Lord Fitzhough will be attending. It is whispered that he is one of the most wealthy bachelors in London!  Do you think that your parents are hoping for a match, miss?"

"Ugh.  I have been introduced to him and am not impressed.  He trod upon my toes when dancing and had a most awful breath when he bent to speak to me.  Besides that, his reputation proceeds him, and it isn't good.  Riches don't impress me.  I would wed a man of known integrity, regardless of his wealth.  But the search for such a one is like looking for a needle in a haystack here in London."

"Your mother's maid has suggested that she is certain your parents want to insure it will be a profitable match aligning titles and suitable riches to add to your considerable dowry."

"I hope it is not that intimate of a dinner party with only that gentleman but will include others as well," Jane grimaced.

"Your father's valet overheard that there will be Sir Thomas Greer and his sister Lady Alice Greer will also attend."

"I have met Lady Greer and found her to be sweet, not spoiled by society."

"The valet also told one of the other upstairs maid that Sir Greer is involved in some sort of business with your father, and that your mother is quite upset that your father insisted that one of that sort should be invited to sit beside a lord."

"Surely my father is more interested in conversation beyond comparing who is wealthier than another or who has a higher title.  Indeed, that would be despicable.  Evidently my father sees something in this Sir Greer that makes him worthy to sit at the table with him.  As for me, I am
glad that Lady Alice will be here."



"There.  What do you think of these pearls in your hair?" Anna asked proudly.

"Thank you, you've done a fine job," Jane said peering at the mirror while turning her head this way and that."

"And your dress is very becoming. This white dress is perfect to show off your pale skin and pink cheeks, and the blue ribbon is quite the thing."

Jane took a deep breath.  "It is what it is.  I will be relieved when this season is over, and we may return to the country.  Only four more weeks!"

"I doubt your parents are in agreement since you have turned down three offers and your father  two other marriage proposals.  I'm sure they are going to do what they may to find you someone who will be acceptable in these last weeks."

"Yes, I feel the pressure, but surely my father will not force me into a match that I would find not agreeable."  Jane was biting her lips because she was not sure at all.

"Well, you are ready to go down now.  I will pray for the perfect man for you, miss.  You deserve no less."

"Thank you, Anna."

She rose with a sinking feeling in her stomach thinking of the odious Lord Fitzhough.  



When she entered the parlor, the men stood.  Her father introduced her to the company, the despised lord, the wonderful Lady Alice and her brother Sir Greer, the only one she had not met before.  She observed him glancing at him only to be caught by his own gaze.  Her eyes cut away to her own brother.  Jane could not help a small smile as she watched her brother Edward's eyes on Lady Alice.  He was a second son, so therefore it might be an acceptable match, if she had any kind of dowry to be considered.  Then dinner was called.



Her parents led the way.  Jane took a deep breath before placing her hand lightly in Lord Fitzhough's arm.  He sat on her father's left while she sat at his left.  At least Lady Alice was on her left leaving Edward sandwiched between their mother on his left with Sir Greer on his right.

Jane exchanged pleasantries with Alice observing both of their brothers listening in.  She smiled into her glass.  Never before had Jane seen her brother take this much interest.  Even at balls, he would dance only once or twice then would go to the gaming rooms.  As far as she knew, he'd never even taken a lady on a carriage ride.  Well, she had rarely accepted a carriage ride herself.

"How are you finding our shipping profits, Sir Greer?" her father asked.

"Dear, perhaps that discussion would be better among you after we ladies are dismissed," her mother suggested when she saw Lord Fitzhough's curled lip.

"Nonsense, I see nothing wrong discussing the shipping of the spices, tea and silk you so enjoy from India."

"Yes, we indeed have obtained quite a few exquisite silks as fine as you can see anywhere.  And the spices are a profitable trade since they are small and much is able to be shipped.  We had only one threat of pirating, but our captain was able to outrun them with such a light load in our hull."


"Pirates?"  Edward asked with great interest.

"Oh, dear," her mother gasped.

Sir Greer looked between her brother, mother and father seeking how he should proceed whether it would offend or not.  But then Lord Fitzhough broke in.

"I've heard that it is quite profitable to ship slaves from Africa to the Bermudas and the Indies since slavery is no longer acceptable here in England.  In fact, there is quite a demand for the Irish as well to be used as indentured servants easily packed on a ship to the new world.  They often become no more than white slaves there with always more to be had.  Indeed I have found this trafficking as a profitable investment much more than your silks, teas and spices."  He looked smug.

"I would rather seek riches which do not offend me..." Sir Greer began to counter.

Jane saw her mother peering at her father imploring him with her eyes to take back command of their conversation.

"Yes, well, my wife is right that this conversation is better meant for when you men gather in my study after dinner.  So, I heard Shakespeare's plays are quite popular.  Do you think the ladies would enjoy these in the theater?"



However, Jane tuned out Lord Fitzhough's raptures over the theater and turned to whisper to Alice, "Pirates?"  Was your brother truly on board the ship?"

"Yes, he was.  It is becoming more and more dangerous as so many ships are less fortunate and fall into their hands.  He assures me that since his ships hug the waters near as it is safer to be along the shore, they are able to stay out of their hands since most of the pirating is done by the Spanish or French who are after the more profitable ships crossing the seas bearing slaves."

"It sounds quite dangerous, never the less."

"Indeed.  He has promised me that he will hire a buyer for further trips so he may stay at home with me.  Other than my brother, there is no other close relative upon whom I may depend.  Sadly, that makes him more diligent this season in finding me a husband."

Jane lowered her voice even more.  "I'm afraid that my parents think Lord Fitzhough would suit, though I find him despicable, even more so after hearing that he is involved in the odious slave trade."

"That would be most horrible!" Alice gasped catching the attention of her brother who raised an eyebrow in an unspoken question.

"I would hope that my father would allow me to refuse him," she whispered behind her napkin.

Lord Fitzhough spoke up, "Lady Jane," and she cringed upon hearing his familiar use of her  name, "I was wondering if I may take you on a carriage ride in the park on the morrow."

"Oh, I am sorry, my Lord, but I have promised to spend that time with Miss Greer.  We are to...um...go to the museum," she responded while squeezing her friends hand under the table.

"And the day after?" he continued undeterred.

"She has agreed to go on a carriage ride with both my sister and myself, I'm afraid," Sir Greer answered calmly.

"Yes, indeed.  Perhaps I will see you, my Lord, at the Hamptons' ball next week," Jane added quickly.

"Until then," he replied but looked most unhappy, quite cross even.

When she glanced at her mother, she saw she was horrified while a peek at her father saw him biting back a smile.  Jane relaxed then and could enjoy her dessert of butterscotch bread pudding still warm from cook's oven.  She poured a little cream over the top.

She saw that Miss Alice had refused it so she asked, "Do you not like it?"

"Oh, no, I love it, but I have no room left.  Besides, I must watch my pounds.  I could grow a stone heavier if I ate at your table very often."

"Well, I don't wish to tempt you with culinary delights beyond what you are able to resist, but I would very much like to have you at our table more often as would my brother Edward, no doubt," Jane teased.

"Oh, but..."  Jane watched as her friend blushed prettily while her brother and Edward observed them with curiosity.

After everyone but Lord Fitzhough was done, as he had asked for a second helping and was busy cramming his mouth full, her father excused the ladies from the room.

Jane put her arm through Alice's and whispered, "We are going to be good friends, I dare say."

"I sincerely hope so.  Are you serious about the carriage ride and the museum?"

"Of course!  I would like nothing better than to spend my mornings with you, especially if I am avoiding the attentions of Lord Fitzhough."  The girls giggled.

While her mother was stiff and hardly conversed with their guest, Jane and Alice were busy discussing their favorite books and musical pieces.  So when the men joined them, they both sighed at being interrupted.

Jane was glad that Alice sat close beside her on their settee and that her brother sat on the other side of his sister while her own brother sat on the closest chair to her.  Lord Fitzhough wandered over, but saw that her company was taken up.  Instead, he claimed a seat near her father and tapped his cane on the legs of his chair causing her mother to frown.  But the four of them had a lively conversation about the country, the seas, and their common dislike of the marriage mart.  

"What was it like to be chased by pirates," Jane asked Sir Greer keeping her voice down so her mother could not hear.

"It was invigorating, not unlike a horse race.  However since the stakes were higher, it was that much more rewarding to win.  It's not that I would invite such a chase at sea if it could be avoided.  I'm not that kind of dare devil to toy with the possibility of prison on a foreign soil at best if we lost.  It's not a pleasant thought."  He became quiet as if he was remembering it all over again.

"I'm sorry if it is a sore subject, Sir Greer.  I did not purposefully desire to distress you or your sister," who Jane saw just now looking a little pale.  

"It is nothing that I have not been asked many times since I have returned, my lady, so do not think anything more about it." His dazzling smile was like a sharp shiny blade piecing her heart most unexpectedly.  

Finding Edward chatting with Alice, they invited him along on both going to the museum as well as the carriage ride planned for the following day.  He enthusiastically agreed while Alice was beaming most beatifically.

After the guests all left, hardly before the butler shut the door, her mother began berating her on her treatment of Lord Fitzhough.  Surprisingly, her father put his hand on his wife's arm to quiet her.


"Our daughter has wisdom to see value beyond riches, my dear.  That man is a scoundrel.  I invited him only because he has been hounding me about investing with him on a venture.  I had no idea it was to partake in the slave trade or I would not have allowed him to cross our threshold.  I fully supported Wilberforce and Wesley in their fight against the practice of slavery on our English soil.  No, I will not accept any of his attentions he would wish to pay upon our fair daughter.  She does not have to even accept another dance with him as far as I'm concerned."

"But the season is almost done, and she has no..." her mother began to whine.

"I would rather her be a spinster than have her bear the unseemly name of Fitzhough or  any such of his ilk."

"I would not worry, mother.  I am asked constantly about my sister by my peers.  She is much sought after, but I myself do not encourage hardly any of them.  Now Sir Greer..."

"Heavens no!"  their mother exclaimed.  "He is not an equal in our society.  I'm surprised your father even invited him here."

"Our wise son told me about him and his shipping ventures.  I have made an appointment to speak with Sir Greer further on the subject, in fact.  I find him to be a respectable fellow of whom I have heard several of my acquaintances speak highly of.  Indeed, it seems that a good and moral man who has wisdom on his lips easily rises to the top in this cess pool of young men of questionable character who think nothing of throwing away their father's riches on a gaming table or in houses of ill repute.  A godly man is hard to find.  I commend our son for keeping such company."

Her mother sniffed.  "I suppose it is all right for Edward to keep his company, but I'm not sure it is to be advised that our daughter stoop to..."

Their father pounded his fist on the fragile end table making the tea cup nearly bounce off it.  "Have you heard nothing I've said, my dear?  I would a hundred times rather have our family aligned with his than that scoundrel of a duke.  Just look at our Prince Regent, and you can see what having the highest title in the land is like."  Their father shook his head and walked out.  "I'm retiring to my room.  Good night to all of you."

Their mother soon followed with a grimace upon her face while Jane and Edward sat stunned.  "I have never heard father speak so," Jane whispered.  She felt as if she were lost in a maize as when she was in the Marlbourgh's garden party.  It was all so confusing.



"Neither have I, but am so glad he did.  So much of the ton sickens me with their pompous attitudes and low morals.  They see nothing wrong with a man taking a mistress and even his wife taking another man as well as soon as she has produced an heir.  Why then must we seek the ton's favor?  Such wickedness must offend God."

They sat quietly pondering how the evening had transpired.  Then Jane grinned at her brother, "You do like Alice, don't you Edward?"

He blushed like a school girl but admitted it with a big smile.  "What is not to like?  She's pretty, sweet, and intelligent.  The real question is what do you think of her brother?"

Now it was her turn to turn pink.  "I was so worried that father meant to hand me over to Lord Fitzhough that I hardly gave a thought to allowing myself to like another.  But he is an admirable person, and nice looking even if he doesn't wear the finest attire.  That matters not to me.  No matter though, it would be a miracle for father to ever consider him for my hand even if he decides to partner with him in a business venture."

"Do not be so sure.  I believe father truly respects him and his knowledge.  Our father, I'm convinced, will seek someone of his caliber or the man himself to attach you to.  You would have no objection if father approved for him to court you, would you?"

She sputtered, "I suppose not.  I have almost talked myself into bracing for a terrible marriage, so that anything else would be a dream come true."

Her brother quipped, "So shall I tell Nathan that he is a dream come true?" He winked at her.

"Of course you may not, but who is Nathan?"

"You must know, his name is Sir Nathan Greer.  He may not have a high title, but he is not a man without means.  He is wise enough to offer a respectable dowry for his sister, but is not so great that it would tempt every ungentlemanly Tom, Dick, and Harry to pursue her for her dowry alone in order to save their own skins after having wasted their wealth on their passions for drink, cards, and women."

"Oh, what a cat and mouse game society plays!  I long for the country where the only cat and mouse are in the barn."

"As do I.  However, I must admit that I am looking forward to spending time with Alice and her brother while we are still here in London."

"As am I," she smiled.


The next day, she and Alice walked comfortably together behind their brothers who were in close conversation.  

"My brother is very wise in his dealings, but knows it is God who gives and God who can take away.  He understands that quite well as the forces of nature almost doomed our estate.  We came near to losing it, in fact.  I was so worried, because it would mean that we would not only have lost our parents, but our home.  However, he was wise enough to manage it well, and it is slowly becoming more profitable again.  Nathan has also kept our father's partnership in the shipping endeavor of which he has told you.  By going himself on their last venture, he was able to make better and more profitable dealings.  I am so proud of my brother!"

Jane politely nodded but pondered all Alice had said concerning her brother.  Just then she looked up where the gentlemen had turned around to wait for them, and she locked gazes with Sir Greer, or Nathan as he had asked her to call him.  It caused a funny catch in her breath when he smiled at her.  She could do nothing else but reciprocate it.  The four of them stood fixed upon the spot with her smiling upon Nathan while Alice beamed at her brother who appeared to be quite besotted.  



"Shall we?" Nathan asked offering her his arm.

Jane took it and felt enveloped in warmth.  It was all she could do not to beg him to ask to court her, which would be unheard of.  Just that silly thought caused Jane to smile.

"What is so humorous?" he asked peering curiously down at her.

Jane jerked her head up and could only stutter, "Nothing. Oh nothing at all."

"So am I to conclude that your smile is only because you are walking with your hand on my arm then?"

He was teasing her, and she liked it.  "Perhaps I am exceedingly excited to be going to the museum, kind sir."

He laughed.  It was a pleasant sound indeed revealing a lighter side to the man.  "I must accept that you are enduring my company then as a means to the end, I suppose," but he was grinning widely.

"Perhaps being with you does make the day seem more promising," she quipped, but then bit her lip realizing how forward that sounded.

"I can think of no better compliment.  Thank you, Jane," he said studying her with his dark eyes.

"You're welcome.  My father as well as my brother speak highly of you, as of course does your sister.  If she wasn't your sister, I would think she is quite enamoured with you the way she sings your praises."

"Your good opinion of me is what I would cherish most."  He had stopped and was no longer exchanging light hearted pleasantries.

"You have it with my utmost admiration."  He raised his eyebrows and appeared flushed in his cheeks.

"You cannot know how much that means to me, Jane.  Your brother has given me hope that your father would consider my suit even though we are far from being equals in society."  They began slowly walking again.

"It is good then that it is my father's and not my mother's decision as it is she who has too high an esteem for social hierarchy.  Believe me when I say that the rest of us do not.  He has even given me hope that he would desire more wisdom upon a man's lips than gold or silver in his coffers.  To think, I was afraid he was about to marry me off to Lord Fitzhough!"  She could feel his arm muscles tighten as she spoke of that dastardly man with a shiver.

"No, I think more highly of your father than that.  But would you consider me calling upon you as something you would welcome, or would you be put off by my lack of a comparable title?"

"That means nothing to me, Nathan.  It is the man himself that I find acceptable, more than acceptable, in fact." 

Her upturned lips and the twinkle in her eye assured him of that fact.  He found his heart pounding like a rawhide mallet upon a peg.  "I shall speak with your father then.  You have encouraged me greatly.  Though we seldom have been invited to the same events, the few I have accompanied my sister to where you were also in attendance, I confess I have watched you, but dared not approach you.  You, Jane, have long captivated me."



"Though we have just met, I feel quite taken with you, I must admit as well."  Now she could not meet his eye as she blushed furiously.  She glanced over to find her brother and Alice in much of the same kind of conversation as judged by their flushed faces.

"Shall we?"  Nathan led her up the steps to the museum as Edward and Alice trailed behind.

Walking along the marble floors observing all the beauty and wealth collected in their revered halls, Jane realized it was true that above all the riches in the world to be desired, she would most certainly value a godly and wise husband above all else, a rare jewel indeed.


























Monday, April 16, 2018

W


APRIL 17, 2018


PROVERBS 20:9

"Who can say, 'I have cleansed my heart,
I am pure from my sin?'"


Solomon was not a cave man by any stretch of the imagination since he was the wisest man who ever lived.  But he was born before the theological wheel was invented.  He lived in the B.C., before Christ era.  Then the disciples lived with Jesus for three years; but even so, though they lived with Him, Jesus did not yet abide in their hearts.  He had not given the Holy Spirit yet.



One could say--and I am--tongue in cheek, that the Old Testament people went to the Presbyterian Church, very liturgical.  Then His disciples started attending the Baptist Church.  Perhaps even Judas was a "Once Saved, Always Saved" fallen believer.  However after Pentecost, Peter and some of the others joined the Pentecostal First Church of Jerusalem.  When Paul came along, he started the Holiness Assembly as a church planting movement.  After the Persecution, however, most went to Home Churches, gathering in small groups.  Somehow, all Christians everywhere became the catholic church, not Catholic, but the universal church as believers in Jesus Christ.


Thus, Solomon could only yearn, as these verses show, for what his father David had only found in special visitations of the Holy Spirit, though not an infilling with the Spirit.  The Comforter has Come" was not a hymn being sung yet.  So, "Who can say, 'I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?" was an echo of what David declared with more certainty in his 51st Psalm, "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin...Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."  Also Isaiah had a glimpse when he said in his first chapter, verse 18, "'Come let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'Though your sins at as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.'"


 After all the centuries of the sacrificial system, the blood of bulls and lambs, Jesus came and once and for all spilled His blood as the sacrifice for sin that these verses yearned for.  Was His shedding of blood incomplete, ineffective against sin?  May it never be thought so.  Even so, Jesus said, "wait": it was not fully accomplished until His Holy Spirit came in purifying fullness in believer's hearts.  

Paul may have said in Romans 7, "For the good that I want, I do not do, but practice the very evil that I do not want...Wretched man that I am!  Who will set me free from the body of this death?"  But then he answers himself in the very next verse: "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!...Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."


So which catholic church do you attend?  Presbyterian? Baptist? Pentecostal Holiness?  Some in this wicked world are forced to be apart of a Home Church for persecution is real.  Free membership is offered by acceptance of the Holy Spirit's filling as embraced by members in the Holiness Churches as opposed to those who cling to sinning churches which do not offer its members more than sinning every day in thought word and deed.


I suppose these are fighting words.  But the Father had this all planned from the beginning of time, even before Adam and Eve sinned and lost their daily walk with God.  Do you have a daily walk with Him?  Has the Comforter come in your life?  Are you washed clean?