Remain a “Child of Pure Unclouded Brow and Dreaming Eyes of Wonder”.

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Jan 272019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: Remain a “Child of Pure Unclouded Brow and Dreaming Eyes of Wonder”.      By:  Ron Woodrum

Fyodor Dostoevsky, the Russian writer was one of the greatest writers of all time. His books, such as Crime and Punishment; the Brothers Karamazov; the Idiot; Notes from Underground; Poor Folk; The House of the Dead; and others are still read by devoted literary fans. After escaping execution and living out his sentence in a Russian prison, he embraced Christ as Savior, through the reading of the gospel story in a New Testament given to him. He wrote a letter to the woman that had given him the New Testament stating that though he was a “child of unbelief and doubt up to this moment, and I am certain that I shall remain so to the grave” he also wrote of his love for Christ, and wrote, “I have formulated my creed…all is clear and holy to me…extremely simple…here it is: I believe that there is nothing lovelier, deeper or more rational and more perfect that the Savior. I say to myself with a jealous love that not only is there no one else like Him, but there can be no one. I would even say more -if anyone could prove to me that Christ is outside the truth, and if the truth really did exclude Christ, I should choose to remain with Christ rather than the truth!” In his book The Idiot, Dostoevsky explains his own conversion, describing it through the words of Prince Myskin when he sees a painting by Hans Holbein depicting Christ-dead in the tomb: He writes, “Looking at that painting might cause one to lose his faith…yet it is precisely in contemplating Jesus’ death that faith grows stronger and receives a dazzling light; then it is revealed as faith in Christ’s steadfast love for us, a love capable of embracing death to bring us salvation. This love, which did not recoil before death, in order to show its depth, is something I can believe in; Christ’s total self-gift overcomes every suspicion and enables me to trust myself to Him completely “.

After being pardoned from execution by Nicholas I, not only was he converted, but vowed that since he didn’t have to die that he would “turn every minute into an age, nothing would be wasted…life is a gift…every minute can be an eternity of happiness“. Being pardoned by the Czar and finding Christ. What more do you need to “live happily ever after?” The truth of the matter is that Dostoevsky did not live happily ever after in Christ. He eventually drifted into gambling. He soon found himself drinking-and soon fell into alcoholism. He became the poster-child for a Christian who loses his first love for Christ and finding out the truth of the Savior’s warning that the slippery slope of waning passion would result in the extinguishing of the candlestick of Christian testimony. That slope is not far from the path we all travel. How do we prevent that tragedy from becoming our reality too?

Jesus warned us about letting the pure passion of being new in Christ slip away. There is something in the perspective of a child that is vital for growth and life. Lewis Carroll, in his book Through the Looking Glass, identifies this attribute as “a pure unclouded brow and the dreaming eyes of a child“. C.K. Chesterton spoke of this in his book Orthodoxy. He called this childlike faith an “elephantine pursuit of the obvious“. He illustrated this attribute by describing the never-waning enthusiasm of the child for exciting adventure. He writes “Children always say-‘Do it again!’ and the grown up does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do It Again’ to the sun; and every evening ‘Do It Again’ to the moon; It may not be automatic necessity that makes daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we“. The loss of our child-like first love causes us to become bored with God and spiritual things too soon. Then our attention is turned to lesser things. Ron Hansen says, “God gives us just enough to seek Him, but never enough to fully find Him“. His goal is to keep the excitement of ever increasing joy and excitement and novelty with each new experience. Meister Eckhart also described this when he wrote, “The soul must long for God in order to be set aflame by God’s love; but if the soul cannot yet feel this longing, then it must long for the longing. Too long for the longing is also from God“. Clyde Kilby, Literature teacher at Wheaton College says that the losing of this awe-inspiring first love is a casualty of the fall-“The fall of man can hardly be more forcefully felt than simply in noting what we all do with a fresh snowfall or the first buds of spring. On Monday they fill us with delight and meaning and on Tuesday we ignore them. No amount of shouting to us that this is all wrong changes the fact for very long…only some aesthetic power which is akin to God’s own creativity has the capability for renewal, for giving us the power to see“.

Paul wrote to young Timothy about what to do if he found that this first love, this child-like passion, this daily excitement and awe with our relationship with God, through Jesus Christ has faded from a red-hot flame to a white ash-what do we do? Paul said, “Stir it up again“. The word is a compound Greek word. It is made up of four different parts. Ana-“again”; zoe-“to live”; pur-“fire”; ein-present infinitive means “keep on stirring“. When you realize the flame has died down; before it goes out- stir those ashes back to life; again and again; billowing it into a glowing and growing flame! That can be done anywhere; anytime; by anyone! It must be done to keep our first love alive.

At a conference on evangelism sponsored by Billy Graham in Manila, a Cambodian man mesmerized the audience with his story of daily meditation. Under the Pol Pot regime he was held in a concentration camp like those depicted in the movie The Killing Fields. Believing he had little time to live, he wanted to spend time each day with God, preparing for death. “Even more than deprivation of food, even more than the torture, I resented having no time to meet with God. Always guards were yelling at us, forcing us to work, work, and work.” Finally he noticed that the guards could get no one to clean out the cesspits. He volunteered for the wretched job. No one ever interrupted me, and I could do my work at a leisurely pace. Even in those stinking depths, I could look up and see blue sky. I could praise God that I survived another day. I could commune with God undisturbed, and pray for my friends and relatives all around me. That became for me a glorious time of meeting with God“. That’s how you keep the first love alive and glowing. Do you love God enough to pay that price to have uninterrupted communion with Him?

 Posted by at 2:31 am

“More Star-like Than a Star”

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Jan 062019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “More Star-like Than a Star” (By:  Ron Woodrum)

This past week Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature, citing the reason being his masterful talent of writing lyrical poetry like no one else in history. Most who are familiar with Dylan’s music, would admit that his vocal abilities are sometimes hard to endure, but his lyrics indeed are masterful. One of the songs/lyrics that have been chosen to illustrate his lyrical-poetic talent is his song It’s Not Dark Yet. Here are some of the words:

Shadows Are Falling

I’ve Been Here All Day

It’s too hot to sleep,

Time is Running Away Feel

Like My Soul is Turning to Steel

I’ve Got Scars that the Sun Didn’t Heal

There’s Not Even Room Enough

To Be Anywhere

It’s Not Dark Yet,

But It’s Getting There!


Well My Sense of Humanity

Has Gone Down the Drain

Behind Every Beautiful Thing,

There’s Some Kind of Pain…

Sometimes my burden,

Seems more than I can bear

It’s Not Dark Yet,

But It’s Getting There!


I was born here, and I’ll die here

Against My Will I Know

It Looks Like I’m Moving,

But I’m Standing Still

Every Nerve In My Body

Is Vacant and Numb

I can’t even Remember,

What I came here to Get Away From

Don’t even hear a Murmur of A Prayer

It’s Not Dark Yet, But It’s Getting There! Darkness.


Darkness seems to be falling all around us. Even the most optimistic seem to agree with Dylan. “It’s Not Dark Yet…But It’s Getting There”. Darkness has always been something I have avoided. Thanks to my older brother, who loved to frighten me during early childhood, I was afraid of the dark early on. I used to fall asleep in bright light, having protested so vehemently that my parents left my bedroom lights on at night! I lived in Hannibal, Mo., during college years. Visitors often requested that we take them to Mark Twain Cave. Every trip included the tour guide taking us deep into the cave, recounting the story of Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher being in there, when their candle went out! Then as he turned the lights out-he illustrated that fact by introducing us to darkness so dark you could not see your hand in front of your face, though you were touching your nose with it! That is darkness. There would be no way out of that cave without light in the darkness. Years later, with a youth group spelunking in a cave in the Ozarks, it dawned on me that even though we had two or three flashlights among us, all it would take is for the batteries to burn out; another get dropped; and get separated from the leader with the last light, then it could end in disaster. It was time to head back to the entrance of the cave…back into the safety of the light!

As Christians we are watching with worried eyes as our world’s days become darker. The question we must ask and answer is what role do we play in these dimming days? Jesus said, “I am the light of the world”( John 8:12). He also said, “You all are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). Paul, in writing to the Philippians, told them to “shine as lights in a crooked and perverse world…hold forth the Word of Life”(Phil. 2:15). The Bible makes it clear that we who know the Lord, who are a part of His Church, have a role to play in the darkening of our days. We are the ones who have a role to play in the “not dark yet!”. Adlai Stevenson, in paying tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt, in a speech before the United Nations, in November of 1962, spoke these words, “She would rather light a candle, than to curse the darkness! Her glow has warmed the world!”. Proper example for Christians to emulate in these last darkening days. I recently came across a poem, in my mind also fitting for a Nobel Peace Prize for Literature for its author, though he never got one-It is called Love’s Lantern, by Alfred Joyce Kilmer. Here is his masterpiece.

Love’s Lantern

Because the road was steep and long

And through a dark and lonely land,

God set upon my lips a song,

And put a Lantern in my hand.


Through miles on weary miles of night

That stretch relentless in my way

My lantern burns serene and white,

An exhausted cup of day.


O golden lights and lights like wine,

How dim your boasted splendors are

Behold this little lamp of mine,

Is more star-like than a star!


In Matthew 13:43 Jesus prophesies, by quoting Daniel 12:3, of those who are Wise believers who “will shine as stars, (though Jesus says, ‘as the Sun'”. But then remember, our sun is a star! One of the smaller ones in the universe. But what a powerful one. One that daily overcomes the darkness of the night with its sunrise. So is our daily assignment in these darkening days. We are the reason it is “Not Dark Yet!”. Don’t spend your time “cursing the darkness” but “light and lift your lantern!” Voltaire, the famous French Atheist and Philosopher, told his generation that he was seeing the “twilight of Christianity”. Charles Spurgeon responded that Voltaire did not know the difference between a sunset and sunrise. He said, “It might be twilight…but it is the twilight just before the dawn!” Christians-“let’s hear the song on your lips, and the Lantern in your hands”. You are the reason “it’s not dark yet!” Christian-“get your shine on!”

 Posted by at 2:30 pm