Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

August 29, 2005

Like a Goodbye, but Not

I'm starting up a new blog. Well, actually, I just did so. It's called Gratitude & Hoopla. Why have I done such a thing? I don't know exactly, except that it just seemed time for a change. I've been blogging here at Mr. Standfast for a couple of years now, going on 600 posts. I've acquired many blogging friends here and I've held forth at length on the grace and love of God. I'm going to keep doing that at G & H. If there's a difference, it will only be the difference that time makes, and my own growth in the love and grace of God.

What will happen to Mr. Standfast? I'm not sure. I haven't actually decided with certainty that I won't ever post here again. I'm still waiting for that answer. In the meantime, over at Gratitude & Hoopla I'll continue sharing whatever good things come my way. I'll meditate on Scripture, and speak often of the sheer wondrous and abundant grace of God, the Father of Lights. As I mentioned in my first post there, I am entering upon a new season in my own life. A new season requires a new song. And a new blog!

Finally, I should simply mention, this is just me talking. Me. Not some great authority, not some voice of great wisdom, just me. I'm sitting here, letting the words come, speaking, however imperfectly, out of my heart. If there's wisdom, it's mixed well with foolishness. But it's me. I'm in love with God, and in all truth I should be forever in his debt, and yet I'm not. You know why? Because He's wiped the ledger clean. He's not keeping an account any more. And this incomprehensible grace is all because of the cross. Because of the cross, God has not only wiped the ledger clean, He's broken it in a thousand pieces. Therefore, the only natural response is . . . Gratitude & Hoopla!

August 23, 2005


My Internet connection will be down till the end of the month, so it looks like posting will be infrequent at best for the next week or so. Consider this a temporary stand-down for Mr. Standfast. To all my regular visitors, great thanks for your support and encouragement. See you in September!

August 21, 2005

The Finch

Yesterday morning I got together with a group of guys from church. We went to a park by the ocean to talk and pray. [Go here for pics of the actual site.] The sun was rising over the Atlantic, and the lobsterman were heading out among the islands. We were standing near a ledge, about thirty feet above the waves, which seemed on this morning not so much to crash against the rocks but to feel their way among them, for the sea was gentle this day.

After a while, chatting and sipping coffee, we stood in a circle and prayed for one another. I kept my eyes open and watched the boats as I listened to the words of intercession, and then I saw the yellow finch. It leapt from a nearby branch of sumac and poured itself into ecstatic circles of flight, just over our heads. Around and around it raced, now intensely beating its wings and twittering, now folding them back so that its body took the shape of a small torpedo, then suddenly beating and twittering again, but always in a bobbing and wavering circle above our heads.

When we were done praying it flew away.

August 17, 2005

Two More

1. I really admire the writing of T. Austin-Sparks. Austin-Sparks, who died in 1971, was a prolific author and preacher, whose complete work is gradually being made available on the Web at From the website:

THEODORE AUSTIN-SPARKS (1888-1971) left behind a treasury of writings filled with the Wisdom, Life and Revelation of Christ. He felt that whatever was given by the One Spirit of God should be freely shared with the One Body of Christ - what belongs to the One, belongs to all. He did not want his writings or tapes copyrighted; freely giving to the Body what was freely received from the Head. Having greatly appreciated his writings ourselves, we offer them here on the web for the further establishing and strengthening of the Body, that in all things CHRIST might have the preeminence.
I urge you to explore this man's writings. He has a profound and deeply-felt way of delineating the many facets of the life in Christ.

2. RZIM is the ministry of apologist Ravi Zacharias. Lots of good stuff here, but I want especially to recommend their daily email column, called "A Slice of Infinity." The Website describes these engaging articles this way:

"A Slice of Infinity" is aimed at reaching into the culture with words of challenge, words of truth, and words of hope. So often in our society we are presented with rather disconcerting options when it comes to dealing with matters of great importance such as truth, good and evil, and the meaning of life. The assumptions that shape the ideas of our culture often go unchallenged. Many people today find themselves wanting something to hold onto, but do not know who or what to believe. Many find that they have an unshakable knowledge that there must be meaning in life, but haven't yet discovered it.

We have a genuine burden to offer a powerful option of hope and meaning. We understand the confusion and cynicism that are so much a part of our world, and we recognize the longings of the human heart. By stirring the imagination and engaging the mind, we want to share the beauty and truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "A Slice of Infinity" is essentially our gift and invitation to you, that you might further examine your beliefs, your culture, and the unique message of Jesus Christ.
Browse the archive and see for yourself. There's gold in these hills!


1. Both Worlds, who is borrowing from View from the Firehouse, has a memorable five-part quiz on the subject of abortion.

2. Scanning the blogroll of Both Worlds, I gave Dark Glasses a try. The blogger here is a pastor named Tommy Ham. The subhead: "Though we see through a glass, darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV), we're doing our best to work it out. Thoughts about life, culture, current events, and the church from a biblical perspective. I hope..." You should take a good long browse here. Check out Tommy's recent posts, Barbarian Visions and Pastoral Listening Skills (which asks the utterly significant question, Why don't pastors listen better?).

August 16, 2005


I love a good paragraph, don't you? Certain writers are simply masters of the form. Each paragraph brings a sense of completeness and fulfillment, like a painting in a frame; nothing need be added, nothing omitted. For example, I've always thought that Patrick O'Brien, author of the famous Aubrey/Maturin series of sea-going adventures, was one of these. Charles Dickens, of course. Eudora Welty, probably my favorite American short story writer, is also a master in this regard.

When I come across such a paragraph I have a tendency to read it aloud to someone, usually my "delovely" wife. But as she's not around at the moment, I'll share this one with you instead!

It's from David McCullough's John Adams (p. 342). McCullough is a historian with a novelist's concern for story and pacing. Here, he is describing John and Abigail's impression of London, where John has been appointed America's first ambassador to the Court of St. James.

The extravagance of the ruling class was notorious. At such exclusive clubs as Brooks or Boodles on St. James's Street, fortunes were reputedly gambled away at the turn of a card, and, nightly, young men drank themselves into a stupor. This was not quite true, but the stories would never die, and the clothes, carriages, the sheer weight of gold braid and the livery of servants, left little doubt as to how vast was the wealth of the wealthiest. Yet, as the Adamses found, one could hardly go anywhere without encountering such spectacles of poverty and misery as to tear the heart--people in tatters, hunger and suffering in their faces, as Abigail wrote. And who was to answer for the wretched victims "who are weekly sacrificed upon the gallows in numbers sufficient to astonish a civilized people?" Compounding her sorrow was the realization that every night and in all weather abandoned children by the hundreds slept beneath the bushes and trees of Hyde Park.

August 15, 2005

Another Challies Giveaway

Tim Challies is giving away a free copy of The Valley of Vision on CD (recorded by Max McClean), along with a copy of Don Whitney's Simplify Your Spiritual Life. That's a nice package! But you've got to enter the draw to win.

An Unexpected Question

What did you learn on line today? I learned about komodo dragons. Visit James and Amanda at Wittingshire ("A unique blend of science, faith and lyricism, reading it is a bit like having tea with an educated, Christian hobbit," says Gary Bourque of Both Worlds), who ask the unexpected question: "Why do we nurture our children, rather than eat them?"

August 13, 2005

My Favorite Internet Radio Sites

For part of my workday I have the opportunity to listen to Internet radio at my desk. Man, does that ever make the work-experience more pleasant. I like for praise and worship music, and Cross Rythms for contemporary Christian music (but I get tired of that pretty quickly, to tellya the truth). Still, the DJs have pleasant British accents and at least the music is not merely the same old same old from all the usual CCM suspects (I'll mention no names). But some of my favorite music is at Bluegrass music from all over the world! Yes, it really has become an international musical language!

Check it Out

I started a post just now about unity among believers, or the lack thereof, but I didn't like what I'd written and deleted it. I dunno, too preachy or something. So then I decided to scan the blogroll, looking for something I could point my readers to. My first click took me to Frosty Kaiser's Paint at Play. And guess what's on his mind today. Unity. Frosty's words are really better by far than my deleted stab at profundity. Read them here at Love like Family, and while you're at it have a look at Playing Nice. Mr. Kaiser has a way with words as well as with paint. Well done, Frosty.

August 11, 2005

2 Timothy 1:7

Paul writes to Timothy, "God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and self-discipline."

What a wonderful trinity of attributes that is. It occurs to me that any one of them without the others would be severely hampered or stunted. We know well enough, for example,of power exercised without love and self-discipline. These folks are rather easy to spot.

But then again there are those who love without power. I think we have all been in this boat, especially if we've parented teenagers. Our love may have seemed to make no impact, to meet with only blank expressions. Perhaps, lacking power, we even acquired a "spirit of timidity" about expressing that love. Then again, there are those who love without self-discipline. They love, but their love is not channeled into any particular actions or deeds. Such deeds are always in some way costly, and we shy from them perhaps out of mere laziness or lack of discipline. We let opportunities pass. We love, but it's never more than a feeling. Our love "dies on the vine."

How about self-discipline without love or power? We hit the weights every day or run our five miles, constantly whipping ourselves into shape, but only so as to win the approval of men or our own vanity. It is self-discipline that may even carry with it a semblance of power, but it is entirely devoid of Kingdom-purpose. We have much of this in our world. We are far more faithful to exercise than to seek God. Our self-discipline is merely self-love.

But Timothy was given a spirit of power AND love AND self-discipline. This made him a mighty man of God, I believe. With these, he could proclaim the Gospel without shame and without fear of men, even in a time of persecution. He pursued his calling, he did the work of the Lord, because he knew he was equipped by the Lord.

What a great man Timothy must have been. What a great mentor was Paul, even here in his last days, after so many former friends had deserted him. Awaiting his death in his second Roman imprisonment, he writes to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy, and reminds him for one last time, be courageous. "God did not give us [neither Paul nor Timothy] a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and self-discipline." May it be so also with us.

August 10, 2005

The Book Nerd Strikes Again

Man, we're having a real honest to goodness summer in this part of the world, where such is not always the case! What a lovely turn of events! I've heard of the concept of "summer reading," but I honestly don't understand it. Summer reading is light fare, even Potter-ish. A co-worker asked me yesterday if I wanted to borrow her copy of the latest Harry Potter opus, but I'm afraid I haven't yet read the first one (summers just haven't been long enough, I suppose). Nothing in particular against it, mind you. Just haven't gotten round to it. I'm presently reading David McCullough's John Adams, which I suppose is a winter-time, fireside type of book. Yet I'm finding it deeply inspiring. The book has two primary "story lines": on the one hand, Adams' courageous and steadfast dedication to his principles; and on the other, his great love for Abigail, and hers for him. These two story-lines are actually closely related, it seems to me, and McCullough's genius is to show that both are tied to the nature of the man, his character, his heart. Once, during a session of the Continental Congress, at a time when the prospects of the newly-declared republic were at a particularly low ebb, Benjamin Rush turned to Adams and asked if he thought the country could be saved. Adams replied, "Yes, if we fear God and repent of our sins."