Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: purity

Better Part of Town [Distance between Virtue and Vice]

I hate to tell you this.
Or maybe I don’t…

Have you ever noticed that the most despairing realities all have this flip side that makes them cradles for hope when Grace steps in? When you shift enough to give them a look from the other side?

I walk down main street and my American sensibilities are shattered by the irony of this Southeast Asian reality.
Mansion, shack, mansion, shack, shack, mansion. What?

I meander down almost ancient streets in Latin America, find myself striding with purpose (and maybe a twinge of fear?) past one doorway, strolling past the next with perfect calm.

I guess that’s how they do it here. The distance between the good part of town and the bad is the thickness of a brick wall.
Seems so barbaric. Here, you know, we insulate ourselves. Our neighborhoods are zoned. And so we can rest easy on our sprawling front lawns knowing that all our neighbors are at least average citizens, and crime of any kind is at least 62 blocks away.


Do you know what has been pressed home to me this week?
Pressed home by the wanderings and returnings of my own heart, and photos of lands I love?

There is only one difference between the greatest bastion of virtue, and the “strongest bulwark of vice.”
You know what it is?

“One sin fostered.”

They’re built on the same street. In fact, they share the same address.

I don’t know about you, but that scares me more than a little.
And makes me run to Grace.

Jesus, forgive us.

The distance between the good part of town and the bad is far less than the thickness of a brick wall.

“The strongest bulwark of vice in our world is not the iniquitous life of the abandoned sinner or the degraded outcast; it is that life which otherwise appears virtuous, honorable, and noble, but in which one sin is fostered, one vice indulged. 

 To the soul that is struggling in secret against some giant temptation. . . such an example is one of the most powerful enticements to sin.”

It doesn’t take long to turn from light to darkness.

But then, it doesn’t take Grace long to turn one from darkness into light…
Glory be.

Clean Hands

Isaiah 33
Once again, they have no fear of fire… Because it burns in their hearts already. 
(see Isaiah 24)
And because it does, their eyes are single, 
and their hands are clean. 
Stop for a minute. 
Look at your hands.
Are they clean enough to hold what is holy?
Are they strong enough to fight unselfishly?  (even if it means fighting to their own loss)
Are they pure enough for God to call them trustworthy? And to trust to them the gentlest of His children?
If not, why not?
Are they benevolent? 
Are they scarred?
Or are they soft from years of self-service? Are they marred by self-interest? Are they strong to accomplish that which will serve them well, even if at the eternal expense of another?
Or worse, are they stained with blood from touching what is not theirs?

Just think about it.
I only ask because He asked me…

Really Winning…

I’m weary of hearing cheap scandals promise triumph when all they have to back them is moral insanity, and shameless fraud…
Here’s the alternative: The real ways to win…
“If young [people] make their model an exalted one, having pure morals and firm principles, and if blended with this are affability and true Christian courtesy, there is a refined perfection to the character which will win its way anywhere, and a powerful influence will be wielded in favor of virtue, temperance, and righteousness. Such characters will be of the highest value to society, more precious than gold. Their influence is for time and for eternity.”*
Win its way anywhere?? Even infidels call that “really winning.”

*My Life Today, April 27

Life’s Best…

I’m back… finally.

Here’s the thought for today:

“Life’s best things–simplicity, honesty, truthfulness, purity, integrity–cannot be bought or sold. They are as free to the ignorant as to the educated, to the humble laborer as to the honored statesman. For everyone God has provided pleasure that may be enjoyed by rich and poor alike–the pleasure found in cultivating pureness of thought and unselfishness of action, the pleasure that comes from speaking sympathizing words and doing kindly deeds. From those who perform such service the light of Christ shines to brighten lives darkened by many shadows…”*

Good thing, eh?
I’m smiling…

*{MH 198.2 – Emphasis added}