Friday, October 22, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Titus Livius, or Livy as he is more commonly known, was a great historian who lived from around 60 BC till about 17 AD. His works included over 140 volumes of Roman History, 35 of which are still in existence today. In his first book, starting with the foundation of Rome, Livy very wisely says, "The study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind; for in history you have a record of the infinite variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see, and in that record you can find for yourself and your country both examples and warnings, fine things to take as models, base things, rotten through and through, to avoid" (pg 30). Livy's goal in writing these accounts is not only for the purpose of knowing the history of Rome, but also that we may identify and separate the good from the bad and learn from the victories and mistakes of our ancestors.
In the early days of Rome, a man named Tarquinius Superbus elected himself to the throne as king and literally threw Servius, the previous king, out of the Senate and down the steps. Some of Tarquinius’ supporters then assassinated Servius. Neither the people nor the Senate had approved of his accession to the throne and thus Tarquin’s strategy to obtain compliance was to rule by instilling fear in the people. He began as Livy says, “To punish with death, exile, or confiscation of property not only such men as he happened to suspect or dislike, but also innocent people from whose conviction he had nothing to gain but their money.” Superbus took it upon himself to decide what treaties and alliances should be made without consulting either the commons or the Senate and by doing so broke long-held tradition. Rome’s self-elected king daily lived up to his well suited nickname of Tarquin the Proud. Though quite competent in the realm of war, Tarquin’s lack of character and love of cruelty, hurt the whole empire of Rome.
Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a stark contrast to Tarquinius Superbus, was a just man of honor and highly respected by the people. One of his sons, Caeso, acted rashly and committed homicide. The night before his trial date, Caeso fled from Rome. Though the people rejoiced they no longer had this rash man in their town, his departure consequently forced Cincinnatus to sell all that he owned to pay his son’s sureties. After relinquishing his savings on his son’s behalf, he moved outside of town to a small plot of farmland where he contentedly worked to support his wife. Cincinnatus had made a name for himself in regards to his character and was known throughout the land as an honest man of virtue. His prestigious character had left a mark on the people and when the invasion in 458 BC came, military leaders flocked to him seeking his prowess as Dictator. His foresight, judgment, and military skill all made him suitable for the mission. He arranged his troops and led them with such excellence that within days of assuming his position, they had defeated their enemy and were rejoicing in their victory. Cincinnatus is famous for his next move; instead of continuing in his position as ruler and dictator, which he could have held for six months, he resigned after 15 days and humbly went back to his farm. This action made Cincinnatus even more heroic in the eyes of the people; they had become accustom to ruthless, power-hungry dictators.
Though Tarquin had little character to recommend him, he revealed many shortcomings from which we can learn and, as Livy suggests, avoid. Tarquin’s unmerited hatred for the innocent, passion for violence, and unrestrained love of tyrannical power are prime examples of character flaws to evade in our lives, avoid in friends, and steer clear of when voting for political leaders. Cincinnatus on the other hand portrays many estimable qualities. He is a loving and patient father, a hard and honest worker, a strong and humble leader -- all qualities worthy of respect and admiration. These two men set before us, through their contrasting traits, great examples of what to strive for or what to avoid. Not only should we strive to be men and women of character, but we want to do as Livy suggests and learn from the mistakes in history, training up a generation of Cincinnatus’ and not Tarquins.
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This is a paper I wrote for my Great Books history/lit class. I'd love feed back and comments. You know you have something to say about it.... =D
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Sunday some new friends came over for dinner and fellowship. They brought some beautiful flowers. Yesterday, after a difficult day, one of my sweet sons was setting the table as he is supposed to do for dinner each day. This day he decided to make the table beautiful. The result, and the heart behind it, brought tears to my eyes.
Monday, September 13, 2010
How often do we got through trials and difficulties and question why things happen the way they do? We ask God why He puts us through certain circumstances and frequently complain about what life brings our way. At least I know I do. I've actually been thinking over the past couple days about a couple things in life right now and wondering why God has brought these trials into my life and what He is going to accomplish through them, though I may not understand why, other than for His glory, I do know that all things happen for a reason. Well, today, as I was still pondering some things in my mind, I found myself at Church hearing the exact answers to my questions. Hearing God's reassurances of love and comfort, knowing that He holds everything in His hands. The text was Philippians 2:13-16 which says:
"(13)for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (14)Do all things without complaining and disputing, (15)that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (16)holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in cain or labored in vain."
Pastor Brainerd did a fabulous job of describing God's "river of providence" and I'm sure I can't explain it like he did, but the whole idea that through all of life we are swimming, so to speak, in a river. I think we would all agree that God is in control of life. Do we really stop to think exactly what that means though? To realize that every situation, every person that crosses our path, every pleasure, every season of life, yes, even every trial, is part of God's sovereign plan. Every one of those things is placed in our life for a reason, as we see in verse 13. We may be able to see the reason, but more often than not, I find, we don't understand it all. We may never know, this side of heaven, why certain rocks in the river are where they are, but we can rest in the knowledge that He has a plan. God directs everything and He is in control of every twist and turn, every spot of white water, every rock. He places them there, what seems maybe randomly to us, but there is nothing random about it in God's eyes.
The human tendency, when we are tossed back in forth in the white water, never seeming to get out of the rapids, is to complain, to be discontent, to wish we were somewhere else. Verse 14 of Philippians chapter 2, however, says to do "all things without complaining or disputing," not just do the thing we enjoy without complaining. Just like submission is not just being cheerful when you have to do things that you enjoy, it's being joyful to do the things you don't particularly want to do.To complain and say we wish things in life were different than they are, is to shake our fist in God's face and tell Him He doesn't know what He's doing. I don't know about you, but I never want to be caught doing that. I don't enjoy telling people their wrong, I don't really have a lot of occasions when that is necessary, but if I ever do, it's extremely hard to do so and I'd much rather avoid it. So to think about the fact that with my complaining or ingratitude for the situations I am placed in, I'm telling God He's wrong! that my friends, is eye opening! May I never be caught complaining again! (I don't think that will happen, but I'm trying). =)
God doesn't just put us through difficulties just for the fun of it or sit back and watch us drown in the water. God is doing a great work in our lives and often we don't, or cannot, fully understand why, like I said earlier. James 1:2-4 talks about this very thing:
"(2)My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, (3)knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (4)But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
Also Romans 5:3-4 which says:
"And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; (4)and perseverance, character; and character hope."
The purpose of the river of providence is all for God's glory and to make us more like Christ. It is all a part of the sanctification process; becoming more like Christ. My pastor used a really neat analogy, one that I could really relate to, to illustrate how we identify with Christ. Just like adopted children do not usually physically look like their family, the are often unmistakably identified as a part of their family. They are alike because they have been through the same experiences, and situations, have a similar sense of humor, etc., so we should resemble Christ. Though we do not physically look like Christ, we ought to be unmistakably identified as children of our Father.
Are you contentedly swimming in the river of God's providence, or you wishing you could get out, dry off, and find a different river?
Thursday, September 9, 2010
This morning at the end of family Bible study the sun began to peek over the mountains and illuminate the sky and clouds. A sunrise like this is bound to set your day off to a great start! I grabbed my camera so I could share this moment of God's glory and love with you.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Caity I thought you might want to see some of your roses. The last two is one that is growing on the bush that looks terrible. The flower, however, is beautiful! The others are just from various bushes in your rose garden. Enjoy.
Mark had a neat experience today. He was headed outside and came across a hummingbird which had apparently exhausted itself trying to escape from a skylight (they only fly up in fear and therefore can't get out). Anyway, he picked it up so one of the dogs wouldn't get it and found that it was still alive. He took it to a feeder and it took some drinks. Soon it was perking up. Over a 10 minute time he continued to hold it and give it access to the feeder. We got these pictures just before it flew to a butterfly bush and then on to another feeder. It joined in the play/chase with the other birds and was lost from sight. What a neat experience for all of us.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010