The Dutch C19th/C20th theologian and statesman, Abraham Kuyper, is not that well known in the English speaking world, yet his works are worth knowing. His devotions are particularly inspiring.
Here is another short quote from a longer devotional: “Lord Teach us to Pray” in “To Be Near Unto God.” (The Kindle version is available for a very modest price).
The Paternoster (The Lord’s Prayer) in the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
“Undoubtedly, the highest end is attained when, independent of every aid, from the free impulse of the Spirit, the soul lifts itself up to God, and on the wings of the Spirit, spreads itself before God in sacred, devotional language. Such glorious moments are not infrequent in the prayer-life. And it is plain that in such moments even the Our Father is not sufficiently concrete to direct the soul in its utterance before God. But in all seriousness, how many among the great and small in the congregation have risen to these sacred heights. And, if there are such, how many are the moments of a long day, when they are in such sacred and exalted moods? We must needs reckon with reality. And think not only of yourself, but have a tender consideration for the poor sheep in the church and in your own home, whose spiritual standing is still low, and who yet needs must pray, and for whom it is no less glorious than for you, when in prayer they come a little nearer unto God, and may perceive something of his holy presence. How much higher did not the apostles of Jesus stand than we, and yet for them Jesus deemed a memorized prayer so little aimless or superfluous, that he himself gave them one.”
Kuyper, Abraham To Be Near Unto God. Kindle Edition.
The following, amazing quote, comes from the introduction to Abraham Kuyper’s delightful collection of devotions: To Be Near Unto God.
Love for God may be fine sentiment. It may be sincere and capable of inspiring holy enthusiasm, while the soul is still a stranger to fellowship with the eternal, and ignorant of the secret walk with God. The great God may still not be your God. Your heart may still not be attuned to the passionate outburst of delight: I love the Lord. For love of God in general is so largely love for the idea of God, love for the Fountain of life, the Source of all good, the Watcher of Israel who never slumbers; in brief, love for him who, whatever else changes, abides the same eternally.
But when the heart can say: I love the Lord, the idea of the Eternal becomes personified. Then God becomes the Shepherd who leads us, the Father who spiritually begat us, the covenant-God to whom we sustain the covenant relation, the Friend who offers us friendship, the Lord whom we serve, the God of our trust, who is no longer merely God, but our God.
Abraham Kuyper, To Be Near Unto God, Kindle Edition.
of those who have
are often deep and weary.
burdens and loads
is not always
over distant memories
and fragile treasures.
and careless disregard
of paths forged
that speed my journey.
My dad and fellow workers in WW2. Dad is top left.
I have reflected previously on some of my father’s experiences as a conscripted worker in Germany during WW2. (See here) Dutch workers had more freedom than others as the German authorities simply said, “If you abscond we will pick up your father to take your place.”
My father worked north of Berlin in a place called Hennigsdorf on the Havel river. In 1945 he and his fellow workers were liberated by the advancing Soviet armies. The workers found themselves in the midst of extremely harrowing battles as the German army made its last ditch stand.
One of the few detailed stories my dad told me about this part of his life centred on this liberation. By 1945 his clothes, and in particular shoes, were in a state of extreme deterioration. One of the liberating soldiers motioned (language being a useless option!) to my father that he should find a German soldier’s corpse with the right boot size and “liberate” them for his own use. I gather there were quite a few and they all wore high quality boots. But even after years of war my dad was still squeamish about such matters. The Russian soldier, seeing my dad’s reluctance, took off his own boots gave them to my dad and then went in search for an appropriately sized and equipped corpse.
Yes, it is a strange story, yet I have always seen it as an act of unusual, but real, grace. This was one of only a very few experiences that my father ever shared with me about that time of his life. The grace shown in the midst of horror was a memory he could share.
Categories: Family, History, my dad, Reflections, Uncategorized
Tags: dad, dead man's boots, family, father, Germany, Hennigsdorf, ww2
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah!For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,was given her to wear.
There is a feeling in the general community that secular state education is neutral and Christian education is partisan. However the real question is, can any educational system deliver education that is not shaped by the values and particular world-view of both the system and the teacher? To be frank, I believe the manner in which we teach any subject is saturated in a world-view.
For example, history is more than just a collection of objective facts but also about how we interpret them. We can ask, is history simply events determined by the decisions of humanity – are we in charge of our own destiny, or are greater forces at work? Is science the exploration of the chance events occurring over millions of years or is there a higher being at work? Any study of literature is the study of values, worldviews, hopes, aspirations and failures of humanity. A neutral objectivity is naive and foolish.
Why do I raise this question? There is an arrogant totalitarianism developing in democratic countries that suggests that the only truly valuable education can be pursued by the state – everything else is partisan. The reality behind this thinking is that mankind is “god”. We determine what is valuable and true. The majority rules. Somehow truth is determined by the greatest number.
Essentially the fundamental difference between Christian education and state education is the God/god that we follow. The God I follow has revealed himself in His Word and in His son. It is a truth that has withstood the test of time. The god of secular state education is determined by the values, votes and fashions of any particular era.
I know where my loyalty and faith lies.
Grover in Ostia Antica
I was looking for a photo and I came across one of my favourite Grover photos. Our blue travelling friend has a great sense of humour. He is itching for the next trip!
Now it is getting colder I like to remember the Alcazar in Seville, Spain.
The pulpit in the old church at Gamla Uppsala
“Deo Volente” is not a phrase used much nowadays, yet it speaks of a wonderful attitude.
Deo Volente, often shortened to D.V. simply means “God willing”. Like many Latin phrases its real meaning has been lost in the mists of time. “N.B”, “A.D.” and “C.V.” are just some other examples. In the past letters and messages were often annotated with “D.V.” It acknowledged that any human plans were subject to God’s will.
Deo Volente, at its heart, speaks of an attitude before God. It recognises that our plans are always subject to His will and purposes. God is sovereign and I am not. It is a phrase of humility and acceptance. Not resignation, but the acknowledgement that ultimately God’s purposes and plans far outweigh my wishes and petty ambitions.
It is also a phrase of comfort. Whatever happens in my life is not governed by fate or chance but is overruled by a God who sent His son to reveal His love for His children and who cares for them into eternity. It is a comfort because He has told me, that love is what He wills.
A wood carving in the Melide Museum, Spain, of boys playing marbles
When we were playing marbles around the the cypress trees at Ocean Grove Primary School, little did we comprehend how complicated life would become. Our only interest was winning, honing our skills and showing the other boys how clever we were.
There is an innocence and naivete in being young that is precious because once innocence is lost, it can never be regained. Innocence allows the young to wonder, imagine and rejoice in the world around them. This guilelessness makes wonder and exploration exciting and new. The ocean is a catalyst for stories and wonderful horizons, a forest, a place of scary stories and imaginary creatures … and so on.
It is bad enough that wars and famines destroy that youthful wonder daily, but even when we don’t have these monstrosities we still kill wonder. To put it coldly: too many of our young children know too much. They don’t have to wonder or imagine because it is all done for them. Television and the internet leaves nothing for their forming imaginations. But this loss of innocence is particularly noticeable when it comes to human sexuality. What the average 12 year old knows today far exceeds the knowledge of most 12 year old fifty years ago. Has this extra, early knowledge made for healthier adult humans? I don’t think so. It has tragically led to an overly sexualised society from our children up. Sexuality has lost much of its wonder, beauty and mystique. But I digress.
My plea is that we give our children room to wonder, imagine and explore without imposing upon them our adult understanding too early. That reality will come soon enough – we don’t need to rush it. Our kids need to room to imagine, explore and create – to reveal the world as they see it.
I wonder what Leonardo da Vinci’s childhood was like? I can’t imagine that his parents told him that his fantastical pictures of helicopters and machines were idiotic imaginings. He, I think, was allowed to wonder, and that wonder stayed with him for his whole life.