Wednesday, March 29, 2006

As sunrise to the day

As water to the thirsty

Words: Timothy Dudley-Smith
Tune: Oasis

As water to the thirsty,
As beauty to the eyes,
As strength that follows weakness,
As truth instead of lies,
As songtime and springtime,
And summertime to be,
So is my Lord,
My Living Lord,
So is my Lord to me.

Like calm in place of clamor,
Like peace that follows pain,
Like meeting after parting,
Like sunshine after rain,
Like moonlight and starlight,
And sunlight on the sea,
So is my Lord,
My living Lord,
So is my Lord to me.

As sleep that follows fever,
As gold instead of grey,
As freedom after bondage,
As sunrise to the day,
As home to the traveler,
And all we long to see,
So is my Lord,
My living Lord,
So is my Lord to me!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Say a prayer for Jill Carroll

A campaign for her freedom

The Committee to Protect Bloggers is asking that bloggers do a blog about Jill and to link to a video calling for her release -- pleading with Iraq terrorists who kidnapped her to do the right thing, at least once in their lives. Jill was kidnapped while on journalism assignment for Christian Science Monitor newspaper, on Jan. 7. All indications are that she is still alive.

A prayer is a powerful thing, which we can all do.

A word is also a powerful thing, if used for blessing. And so I lift up this word in defense of Jill and join with all those calling for her release. I've learned recently how wonderful it is when others pick up the call for intervention... I've been really grateful for those who have joined in the defense of Kota orphans and the Hopegivers Emmanuel Hope Home and Mission situation in India. So the least I can do here, is offer this blog post, and pray that the seed falls on good ground.

Kudos to Allen Patterson for the post which alerted me to this, and to all those bloggers using their voice for good purposes!

For this post on Jill, click on the link to go to the Committee site. There you will find other links, and also the video link, ok?

And, God bless you all tonight who lift your voice on behalf of those whose voice is not heard!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Chief Justice Roberts: Freedom and the rule of law

Freedom inextricably linked to the rule of law

Today I listened to a speech by Chief Justice Roberts, given on 3-08-06 at the Reagan Library. Roberts was quiet in his style, but instructive…and, at times moving in his words. Here are several nuggets from the speech. Note: This is not a transcript; just my post facto remembering and writing of his words, with a few of my thoughts added in. I trust the each reader will have the brainpower to know the difference, lol! :-)

Roberts said the thing that impressed him the most about Ronald Reagan was that Reagan unalterably believed that freedom is linked to the rule of law. Reagan defined freedom as freedom under the law; in other words, justice as the foundation of freedom. Roberts gave several examples of this, but by now he had my attention. Why?

Because this is a classical definition of freedom!

In a personal sense, Judeo-Christian revelation defines freedom as the power to do what is right. In other words, we are free as we do right [personally]. J-C revelation makes this same principle national, teaching that only the people who do right will be governed rightly.

Roberts talked about the role that the independent judiciary plays in defending the true ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ – how this is underpinned necessarily by the rule of law.

He talked about how difficult it was to build democracy when there was not a model – ever – in which the people followed a law that transcended State, with an independent judiciary.

I don’t think he mentioned Iraq by name, but the implication was there. Building democracy, he said, would be built brick by painful brick as an independent judiciary is built; and as the people learn that freedom is related to rule of law – and not just release from a dictator, or a new ability to do more things.

An independent judiciary assumes the rule of law, above State and for the people. This is a fount of freedom. And it is a novelty, for many people and countries.

Roberts went on to talk about judicial exchange, where judges travel to different countries, to interact and discuss judicial philosophy and practice. Since the point of these discussions is education and [hopefully] justice, sometimes the exchanges are sharp – irenic, but pointed.

He mentioned a time where a Russian judge pointedly asked him [through a translator]: “Is there ever a time when you rule against the government?” Roberts said that on the court of appeals he served, they ruled against the government three times before breakfast just to get warmed up [laughter]. That’s not the language he used in reply to this Russian judge, but he did express that yes, many times they ruled against the government. The law was larger than the government. The government serves the law, which serves the people. Again, quite the miracle of the American Republic [note: not raw democracy, but a true republic]! Roberts talked of this man’s response to ‘ruling against the government,’ and how American government is amenable to the law. This man was surprised, because his government, in practice, placed itself above the law and judicatory.

Another anecdote Roberts gave was quite illuminating on several levels.

This exchange occurred somewhere in Western Europe [specific names weren’t mentioned to protect the innocent, lol], when a Russian judge visited with a group of Western European judges. The judges asked him, “What judicial model are you using?” He replied, “Why, the American model, of course.”

They didn’t much like this answer. And one of them said snidely, “If all you wanted was a can of Coke, you didn’t have to come to Western Europe to get it.”

The Russian judge quietly received this. Then he looked them full in the eye and said strongly, “Sorry, I don’t much like Coke.” “I like my wine French, I like my beer German, I like my Vodka Russian…and I like my judicial institutions American.”

They got the point.

And it is a powerful example of what sets America apart. The rule of law is the foundation of freedom. This is an undeniable claim of Judeo-Christian revelation, a J-C foundational truth. And only in places where Judaism or Christianity touched is this concept now practiced.

It is an incredible gift.

And it’s one reason, for example, why a letter from the U.S. Congress asking India’s Prime Minister to take action against indigenous religious persecution carries such weight.

It’s one reason why America is a place where immigrants tear down the doors to get into. Conversely, it’s one reason that America is a place that dictators and totalitarian regimes hate.

But I’ll take the good with the bad…and also the responsibility that entails, to keep our country grounded in a proper definition of freedom. For once we lose the reality of person freedom under a transcendent Law, we will eventually lose the gift of freedom under the rule of law.

And when that light is extinguished in our world, behold! what manner of darkness!

In these words are a lesson, and a powerful obligation:

“I like my wine French, I like my beer German, I like my Vodka Russian…and I like my judicial institutions American.”

God grant we keep them that way, and accept the law that brings freedom in our personal lives.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Kota: A place for prayer and action

Religious persecution is on the rise in India,
directly affecting thousands of orphans
and their key caregivers.
It's a time for us to help them as we can.

A time for prayer and action

In answer to many prayers and letters, members of the U.S. Congress will be sending a letter to Indian Prime Minister Singh. This is a great gesture and something that we help with – please take five minutes and call or email your congresspersons and encourage them to sign onto this letter. God bless you for your thoughts!

Copy of the note from International Christian Concern:

Help stop religious persecution in India! Contact your Member of Congress and ask him/her to sign onto the Akin-Wicker letter to the Indian Prime Minister. Reps. Todd Akin (R-MO) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) will be sending a letter to PM Singh of India asking him to intervene on behalf of Hopegivers International and other religious groups in India currently being persecuted by Hindu extremists. Call or email your Member of Congress today and urge them to sign onto the Akin-Wicker letter. Call your Representative or Senator at 202-224-3121 (Capitol switchboard) or find their email address at or

The deadline for your Senators and Representatives to sign onto this important letter is Wednesday, March 29th, so please call or email today!

Below is a copy of the letter:

Dear Prime Minister Singh,

As evidenced by the recent visit of President Bush, India is an important friend and ally of the United States. India is a strong voice for democracy and stability in South Asia and has been a staunch ally in the War on Terror. Our countries’ economic, political, security and social ties are strong, and we look forward to continuing to fortify this relationship.

It is as friends that we write today to voice our concern about the recent increase in religious violence in parts of your country. As you know, the freedom to believe and practice a religion of one’s own choosing is vital to maintaining a strong democratic nation. The persecution of religious groups, no matter how large or small, is a step backwards for any country, especially growing democracies like India. In recognition of this, India ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1979, which states in Article 18, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”

We believe that India’s leaders value religious freedom, but we are concerned about the recent spike in violence against religious minorities in parts of your nation. The ongoing attacks on both Christians and Muslims are disturbing, and we urge you to take strong actions to protect all your citizens from religious violence. We also are concerned about the movement to adopt “anti-conversion” laws in various Indian states. While individuals should be protected from coerced conversion, citizens must be free to choose and change their beliefs as they see fit. Anti-conversion laws, like the one recently introduced into the Rajasthan Assembly, are alarming, because of the seeming encouragement they provide to groups promoting violence against minority religious groups, and are a clear contradiction to the values reflected in the ICCPR. We urge you to take a stand against these harmful laws.

We have enclosed for your review several examples of recent acts of religious violence in India that have come to our attention. We find one specific situation to be particularly dire and troublesome. The recent attacks in Rajasthan on Emmanuel Missions International, known in the United States as Hopegivers International, are of deep concern to many in our country. This Christian organization, which runs a number of orphanages and schools, has suffered numerous attacks and now its 2,600-child orphanage in Kota is under a virtual siege. Two administrative staff have been under arrest for three weeks without charges, and the leaders of Emmanuel are in hiding as a bounty has been publicly placed on their lives. Emmanuel’s bank accounts have been frozen, and a school and church were burned down in Jaipur as the local police watched. We have grave concerns about the ability and desire of the local authorities to protect these children and the staff of Emmanuel. Therefore, we respectfully request that your government take immediate action to quell the violence and religious discrimination in Rajasthan. The situation in Kota, Rajasthan, is of special interest to many Members of the U.S. Congress and our constituents, and we look forward to learning of your actions on behalf of the persecuted Christians of Emmanuel Missions International.

Thank you for your continued friendship with the United States. We truly appreciate your leadership and the strong, reliable ally America has in your country, and we urge you to continue to protect the foundations of religious freedom vital for the growth of democracy.



It is a good letter – one that good-hearted people everywhere can support. Let’s do our part, ok?

God bless,


Thursday, March 23, 2006

An evening prayer

O my Savior, lifted

Words: William Walsham How, 1876
Tune: North Coates

O my Savior, lifted
From the earth, for me,
Draw me, in Thy mercy,
Ever nearer Thee.

Lift my earth-bound longings,
Fix them, Lord, above;
Draw me with the magnet
Of Thy mighty love.

Lord, Thine arms are stretching
Ever far and wide,
To enfold Thy children
To Thy loving side.

And I come, O Jesus:
Dare I turn away?
No, Thy love hath conquered,
And I come today.

Bringing all my burdens,
Sorrow, sin and care,
At Thy feet I lay them,
And I leave them there!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Wherefore with my utmost art

King of glory, King of peace

by George Herbert, 1633

King of glory, King of peace
I will love Thee;
And that love may never cease,
I will move Thee.
Thou has granted my request,
Thou hast heard me;
Thou didst note my working breast,
Thou has spared me.

Wherefore with my utmost art
I will sing Thee,
And the cream of all my heart,
I will bring Thee.
Though my sins against me cried,
Thou didst clear me;
And, alone, when they replied,
Thou didst hear me.

Seven whole days, not one in seven,
I will praise Thee;
In my heart, though not in heaven,
I canst raise Thee.
Small it is in this poor sort,
To enroll Thee:
E'en eternity's too short,
To extoll Thee!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Now is the healing time decreed

A hymn for Lent

Words: Latin, before the 12th century, translated by Thomas Alexander Lacey, 1906. Tune: Das Neugeborne Kindelein

Now is the healing time decreed
For sins of heart, of word or deed,
When we in humble fear record
The wrong that we have done the Lord.

Who, always merciful and good,
Has borne so long our wayward mood,
Nor cut us off unsparingly
In our so great iniquity.

Therefore with fasting and with prayer
Our secret sorrow we declare;
With all good striving seek His face,
And lowly-hearted plead for grace.

Cleanse us, O Lord, from every stain
Help us the meed of praise to gain,
Till with the angels linked in love
Joyful we tread Thy courts above.

Father and Son and Spirit blest,
To Thee be every prayer addressed,
Who art in threefold Name adored,
From age to age, the only Lord!


Monday, March 13, 2006

A beautiful woman in a desperate time

Purim: The story of a loyal man and a spiritual lady

The Jewish celebration of Purim begins today at sundown. Gail, at CrossingtheRubicon2, notes that Purim is based in the story of Esther…a story of compelling divine intervention that doesn’t mention the name of God at all!

In other words, the Book of Esther is the biblical Lord of the Rings. :-)

It’s a story of destiny, a story of hope set in a context of great darkness, which shows how humans partner with divine purpose by seeking something higher than emotions, something that transcends normal human thinking, something far beyond mere self-interest and comfort. It’s a story how a beautiful yet humble woman saves her people by denying the selfish offer of the Ring…

Some quotes from Gail’s article:

Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination.

The story of Purim is told in the Biblical book of Esther. The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia, and her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as if she were his daughter. Esther was taken to the house of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to become part of his harem. King Ahasuerus loved Esther more than his other women and made Esther queen, but the king did not know that Esther was a Jew, because Mordecai told her not to reveal her identity.

The villain of the story is Haman, an arrogant, egotistical advisor to the king. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, so Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people. In a speech that is all too familiar to Jews, Haman told the king, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from those of every other people's, and they do not observe the king's laws; therefore it is not befitting the king to tolerate them." Esther 3:8. The king gave the fate of the Jewish people to Haman, to do as he pleased to them. Haman planned to exterminate all of the Jews.

Mordecai persuaded Esther to speak to the king on behalf of the Jewish people. This was a dangerous thing for Esther to do, because anyone who came into the king's presence without being summoned could be put to death, and she had not been summoned. Esther fasted for three days to prepare herself, then went into the king. He welcomed her. Later, she told him of Haman's plot against her people. The Jewish people were saved, and Haman was hanged on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai.

The book of Esther is unusual in that it is the only book of the Bible that does not contain the name of G-d. In fact, it includes virtually no reference to G-d. Mordecai makes a vague reference to the fact that the Jews will be saved by someone else, if not by Esther, but that is the closest the book comes to mentioning G-d. Thus, one important message that can be gained from the story is that G-d often works in ways that are not apparent, in ways that appear to be chance, coincidence or ordinary good luck.

Great lessons, all. Read Gail’s whole article. In fact, read the Book of Esther and then compare it to world events going on right as we speak. Compare it to the time in which we live, in which the leadership of entire countries is devoted to the destruction of Israel, and where millions of hate-filled terror mongers would love nothing more than to kill a Jew before going to bed tonight.

In other words: It is time for another Esther

Read the Book of Esther in light of our world and hear an echo of the ancient question: “Who can say but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”


Saturday, March 11, 2006

A hundred fold of grains of gold

To feed the waiting children

by Edward Everett Hale

Is there some desert or some pathless sea
Where thou, good God of angels, wilt send me?
So oak for me to rend; some sod,
Some rock for me to break;
Some handful of His corn to take
And scatter far afield,
Till it, in turn, shall yield
Its hundred fold
Of grains of gold
To feed the waiting children of my God.
Show me the desert, Father, or the sea.
Is this Thine enterprise? Great God, send me.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Divine love in a bruised reed

A coke machine and a psychiatric hotline

My first trip to a mental hospital didn’t go all that well.

I was only 14. My pastor father went to visit a person in the local State hospital; however, with his polio condition, Dad needed someone to assist him in walking. So I went along to be his extra “crutch,” accompanied by my friend Kevin. And while Dad consulted with the patient, Kevin and I were free to roam around – within careful limits!

Down the hall from the consulting room was a snack area with a Coca Cola machine. And so, naturally, we gravitated there to grab a Coke. And I’ll never forget the trauma, lol. Oh, the emotional turmoil! :-) I put in the coins and pushed the Coke button. And voila! out came a Root Beer!

I stared at the can in my hand, and then at the button – can, button, can, button –; then I looked at Kevin and said, “If I wasn’t crazy before, I’m crazy now!” It was just one of those moments. We started laughing, gathered our change and tried more buttons: it was a “push one thing, get another” machine! Every different thing that came out we’d laugh all the more.

Truly, if a person was on the edge, wondering about his or her connection to reality, and tried that machine, it wouldn’t help matters in the slightest!

It was about as helpful as the infamous psychiatric hotline. Need help? Call 1-800-I MIND ME and this is what you’ll hear: “Hello! Welcome to the psychiatric hotline.”

  • If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.

  • If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2.

  • If you have multiple personality disorder, please press 3, 4, 5, and 6.

  • If you are paranoid-delusional, we know who you are and what you want. Just stay on the line so we can trace the call.

  • If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.

  • If you are depressed, it doesn’t matter which number you press. No one will answer.

  • If you are delusional and occasionally hallucinate, please be aware that the thing you are holding on the side of your head is alive and about to bite off your ear.

Some of you are probably thinking, “Loy, where’s the love?” “How can you laugh at a topic like this? How can you offer compassion to people needing emotional and mental health?” Well, just stay on the line, lol.

A man named Andy

I’ve learned that persons struggling with emotional and mental health are often the ones closest to God. “God’s power encamps on weakness,” Scripture says. And for those honest enough to be themselves before God, for those strong enough to actually admit their weakness and dependence on Him, God draws near to them. God reveals himself to them and through them. Some of the most brilliant shafts of divine light have come to me through people struggling with issues of wholeness.

Such was the case several years later at that same State hospital.

When I returned to my home area after college, I began taking youth over to this same hospital to use their gymnasiums and take part in volunteer programs. We’d play basketball or volleyball on Friday nights and then several of us would volunteer as assistants for special events.

It was the occasion for one of the most profound events of my life.

I volunteered the youth group for one of their hospital picnics – a picnic on the grounds on an idyllic September day. The patients well enough to participate were treated to hamburgers, chicken, fruits, salads, and an array of confectionary treats. A band played music and balloons floated on the breeze.

Our part in the event was to help with supervision and feeding. Some of the patients couldn’t feed themselves, others just needed someone to hold their hand or put an arm around them, or just to laugh and talk. So we mixed and mingled and shared love and laughter and a helping hand.

It was a powerful experience in itself, yet after the picnic they asked for volunteers to assist patients back to maximum-security wards. Against my ‘better judgment,’ I volunteered again! But this time I was on my own…the youth waited in the parking lot.

My task was to take patients from the transport vans and walk with them or wheel them to their secure areas. The building itself was secluded and the inner ward could only be reached through three sets of locked doors, each guarded by staff who would automatically open and then lock them behind us.

The first trip behind these doors chilled my soul…

Past the third set of doors I entered a common room – a room clouded with cigarette smoke and reeking of staleness. Listless inmates lounged around and watched blurry TVs, alternating between boredom and random questions, seemingly managing obsessions and passing time. These were the serious people who had not been allowed at the picnic…their eyes spoke of deep despair: hollow, lifeless and unfocused.

A heavy spirit of depression hung in the air. The atmosphere hit me like a physical force.

I immediately began crying out in my spirit: O God, how can anyone live like this? Where is grace? Where is hope?

Frankly, it staggered me. I continued to bring patients in, and greet other patients in the common room. But it ate at my soul. I tried to offer kindness and hope…yet the sense of despair overwhelmed me – it was contagious and undeniable.

In my mind I envisioned a flower wilting in an airless, sun-starved room. I couldn’t see how a human could be human in there…

However, the last person to be brought in was an elderly man in a wheelchair. I walked out to the van and the assistant said, ‘This is Andy.’ I looked down to see a grizzled face and hunched back, and a gray-haired man nodded at me from behind coke-bottle lenses. The van assistant winked at me: “Andy has a stash.” I looked, and sure enough, in the corners of his wheelchair and under the blanket covering his lap lurked boxes of cookies and candy bars and goodies he had stashed from the picnic. It was a pile of stuff! “Good for Andy!” I thought. “This guy has it together! He’s looking out for himself and saving stuff for a rainy day.” Something told me he probably wasn’t allowed to have all that contraband in the ward, but I wasn’t about to say anything to the nurses! My heart wouldn’t let me. I had already seen where he was going. He needed all the encouragement he could get…

Andy was quiet when I pushed his wheelchair back to the ward. He didn’t say much. I had mixed emotions: I was glad that Andy had scrounged some goodies, but I was half afraid that the nurses would see the huge stash and blame me. But we passed the first set of doors, the second, and then the third set of doors swung upon to his ward…and closed. We made it past the nurses!

And as I pushed Andy down the hall toward the common room, a cry went up from someone: “Andy’s coming!” Then another: “Andy’s coming!” Instantly, the cry echoed throughout the ward: ‘Andy’s coming, Andy’s coming!’

The room so listless and depressed now sprang to life. Smiles appeared on faces, and people stood up and cheered. They were actually smiling! Now I was doubly shocked: I’d have thought that only our Lord himself could have lifted that atmosphere. Yet here they were standing and cheering a hunched, gray-haired man in a wheelchair. “Andy! Andy’s here!”

Surprised isn’t the word.

My mind tried to process. But the information wouldn’t compute. “What is so special about this handicapped man?” I thought. Then, I saw. As I pushed him into the common area, Andy smiled a smile that would have won the world. He pulled back the blanket from his lap, and began handing out goodies, right and left. He gave away every single thing he brought back from the picnic.

These things weren’t for him at all.

He meant them for others. In his own way, he tried to bring back a bit of the picnic, a bit of the light and air and share it with them.

And he succeeded.

He touched them with a love that transcended time and space, brokenness and despair.

I walked back through those locked doors with a new perspective. A gentle, quiet Voice seemed to say, “Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these…you have done it unto Me.” And then I realized that it was our Lord who had lifted that room. He had come in the hands and feet of one gray-haired man, a bent over, broken man who willfully chose to give of himself to meet the needs of others – even in a hopeless situation.

I had tears in my eyes when I walked out into the sunlight and air. The sunlight and air were gifts from Him, gifts in which I was free to move, to live and laugh and love. Yet how often had I not shared these gifts? How often had I kept them to myself?

How often had I not shared of my life, so rich and so blessed in the highest ways? How often had I let impossibility define me, instead of just giving away the gifts in loyal, self-giving love?

Andy reached me that day. He reached me with the love of the One I call my Lord. In living color he showed me the meaning of the words, “Greater love has no one than this, than that he lay down his life for a friend.”

And, you know, in this story, that act of love goes on. The memory of Andy is blessed.

Andy has reached out of those imprisoning walls, across the years, and touched you – you who read this story – with the love of Christ.

Will you look above your own impossible circumstances and receive this love? And will you dare to pass it on?


Thursday, March 09, 2006

The effect of true prayer on the pray-er

"All that you ever ask in prayer you shall have."

Jesus Christ

What happens when we pray?

John M. Versteeg gives several provocative observations on the internal and mystical results of prayer. There is much wisdom in these few sentences!

Prayer is not a labor saving device but a task-producing one. The mystics called prayer the hardest kind of work. For when you really pray you have to do something about it. You get off your knees and get onto your feet! You learn to live hard! Prayer makes you feel a Presence that disturbs you with the toil of elevated tasks. It brings a spiritual staying power, the perseverance of the saints. You become all atingle with expectancy over the outcome of the understanding to which you and God have arrived. Prayer sets up the inner sentinel. It eventuates in our saying, not in a tone of resignation but in a shout of resolution, "Thy will be done!"

When we pray aright we become able to pray, we become Amens to our prayers, we become answers to our prayers. When we are made answers to our prayers, we make Amens of others. In prayer, then, we donate ourselves to God, renounce our own preferences, and accept voluntarily the heroic impossibilities for which we pray! God, in answer to prayer, gives us the hidden manna. In the great slogan of Calvin, He does a work of grace in our hearts.

Wow. Versteeg captures well the passion of prayer, the subjective side of prayer where we enter the will of God by the act of prayer itself. As P. T. Forsyth notes, "In prayer we have already begun to do the will of God." One cannot truly pray "Thy will be done" without entering a personal transformation, a change – perhaps mystical and quiet, but a change nonetheless. This is a frightening aspect of prayer, especially for comfortable modern humans. Because, as Versteeg notes, real prayer makes you learn to live hard -- and we don't like living hard!

But this is an undeniable subjective aspect to prayer where we enter the will of God itself and actually become “answers to our prayers.” It makes life not easy but exalted, not comfortable but mystical. Looking back, we don’t know exactly how it happened, but somehow God has changed us…and now we help others change.

This is exciting, mysterious stuff.

And perhaps even more mysterious is the objective side of prayer. Prayer not only changes us, it also “puts pressure on God” [Forsyth]. And here the objective reality in prayer takes place – from this pressure on God and God’s resultant action, miracles begin to occur outside of ourselves in terms that we could never affect in human strength.

True prayer then is a dance between subjectively entering the will of God [and being transformed in the act] and in seeing the hand of God objectively at work in our world.

From these two sides of prayer flow two great mystical truths:

1. If we seek the objective answers [i.e. miracles] without accepting the transformation [subjective change] we are not truly praying. Nor are we truly seeking God, but rather worshipping self. Is this why our modern world sees such a paucity of answers? That is the first mystical truth, and the second is even more shocking.

2. In changing us and then divinely acting in response to those changes, God brings humans into the higher spheres of His will. It is a necessary spiritual truth then that God desires us to transcend lower “permissive” aspects of human life and partner with His perfect will. God wants us to be a partner with His higher will. As we dance in prayer light, accepting the transformation and then unifying our desires with His, He acts miraculously to bring His higher will into our lives…and into the lives of those we love, those for whom we pray. Here again, it is a dance of the two sides of prayer: God and us – God acts, we accept, and are changed; we enter this transformation, claim the higher prayer, and God acts! Each step in the dance spirals higher and higher…beauty, mystery and transformation: Truly miraculous. All for the glory of God and our highest good!

It is a paradox of the will of God: God’s glory becomes our highest good. In prayer we partner with and become the answers of God, entering the highest good for which we were destined!

This is prayer’s true effect. Hidden manna indeed!

God does a work of grace in our hearts and then causes our hearts to work grace.



Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Thou art the Sea to me

The Shell

by Amy Carmichael

Upon the sandy shore an empty shell,
Beyond the shell infinity of sea;
O Savior, I am like that empty shell,
Thou art the Sea to me.

A sweeping wave rides up the shore, and lo,
Each dim recess the coiled shell within
Is searched, is filled, is filled to overflow
By water crystalline.

Not to the shell is any glory then:
All glory give we to the glorious sea.
And not to me is any glory when
Thou overflowest me.

Sweep over me, Thy shell, as low I lie;
I yield me to the purpose of Thy will;
Sweep up, O conquering waves, and purify,
And with thy fullness fill.

Monday, March 06, 2006

If it were not so

If it were not so

by Amy Carmichael

I thought I heard my Savior say to me:
"My love will never weary, child, of thee."
Then in me, whispering doubtfully and low:
How can that be?
He answered me,
"But if it were not so,
I would have told thee."

I thought I heard my Savior say to me:
"My strength encamps on weakness -- so on thee."
And then a wind of fear did through me blow --
How can that be?
He answered me,
"But if it were not so,
I would have told thee."

O most fine Gold
That naught in me can dim,
Eternal Love
That hath her home in Him
Whom, seeing not, I love,
I worship Thee!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Quality whine...

(click to view fine print, lol!)

p.s. Thank you, LDK! :-)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Kierkegaard on true repentance

True repentance is not momentary sorrow

By Soren Kierkegaard

True repentance does not belong to a certain period of life, as fun and games belong to childhood, or as the excitement of romantic love belongs to youth. It does not come and disappear as a whim or as a surprise. No, no. There is a sense of reverence, a holy fear, a humility, a pure sincerity which insures that repentance does not become vain and overhasty.

From the point of view of the eternal, repentance must come “all at once,” where in one’s grief there is not even time to utter words. But the grieving of repentance and the heartfelt anxiety that floods the soul must not be confused with impatience or the momentary feeling of contrition. Experience teaches us that the right moment to repent is not always the one that is immediately present. Repentance can too easily be confused with a tormenting agonizing or with a worldly sorrow; with a desperate feeling of grief in itself. But by itself, sorrow never becomes repentance, no matter how long it continues to rage. However clouded the mind becomes, the sobs of contrition, no matter how violent they are, never become tears of repentance. They are like empty clouds that bear no water, or like convulsive puffs of wind. This kind of repentance is selfish. It is sensually powerful for the moment, excited in expression – and, for this very reason, is no real repentance at all. Sudden, quick repentance wants only to drink down the bitterness of sorrow in a single draught and then hurry on. It wants to get away from guilt, away from every reminder of it, and fortify itself by imagining that it does not want to be held back in the pursuit of the Good.

What a delusion!

True repentance is not self-improvement

There is a story about a man who by his misdeeds deserved to be punished according to the law. After he had served his sentence he went back into ordinary society, reformed. He went to a foreign country, where he was unknown and where he became known for his upright conduct. All was forgotten. Then one day a fugitive appeared who recognized him from the past. The reformed man was terrified. A deathlike fear shook him each time the fugitive passed. Though silent, his fear shouted with a loud voice, until it became vocal in that dastardly fugitive’s voice. Despair suddenly seized him and it seized him just because he had forgotten his repentance. His self-improvement had never led him to surrender to God so that in the humility of repentance he might remember what he had once been.

True repentance: temporal and eternal

Yes, in the temporal and social sense, repentance may come and go. But in the eternal sense, it is a quiet daily commitment before God. In the light of eternity, one’s guilt is never changed, even if a century passes by. To think anything of this sort is to confuse the eternal with what it is least like – human forgetfulness.

One can tell the age of a tree by looking at its bark. One can also tell a person’s age in the Good by the intensity and inwardness of his repentance. It may be said of a dancer that her time is past when her youth is gone, but not so with a penitent. Repentance, if it is forgotten, is nothing but immaturity. The longer and the more deeply one treasures it, however, the better it becomes.

Repentance must not only have its time, but also its time of preparation. And herein lies the need of confession, the holy act that ought to be preceded by preparation. Just as a person changes his clothes for a celebration, so a person preparing for confession is inwardly changed. But if in the hour of confession one has not truly made up his mind he is still only distracted. He sees his sin with only half an eye. When he speaks, it is just talk – not true confession.

We mustn’t forget that the One who is present in confession is omniscient. God knows everything, remembers everything, all that we have ever confided to him, or what we have ever kept from his confidence. He is the One “who sees in secret,” with whom we speak even in silence. No one can venture to deceive him either by talk or by silence.

True repentance: Divine self-awareness

When we confess to God, therefore, we are not like a servant that gives account to his master for the administration entrusted to him because his master could not manage everything or be everywhere at once. Nor when we confess are we like one who confides in a friend to whom sooner or later he reveals things that his friend did not previously know. No, much of what you are able to keep hidden in darkness you only first get to know by revealing it to the all-knowing One. The all-knowing One does not get to know something about those who confess, rather those who confess find out something about themselves.

Prayer: Dear Abba, this Lenten season, may I discover and enter true repentance through the grace of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Grant me this in His name, and through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth who leads us into all truth. Amen.