Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A reverie and loyalty



Love that shares glory and limitation!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Light of the minds that know Him

May it be ours to know Him
Words: Timothy Dudley-Smith, based on a prayer by Augustine
Tunes: Genevan Psalm 130, Llangloffan, Moville, King's Lynn, Aurelia


Light of the minds that know Him,
may Christ be light to mine!
My sun in risen splendor,
my light of truth divine;
my guide in doubt and darkness,
my true and living way,
my clear light ever shining,
my dawn of heaven's day.

Life of the souls that love Him,
may Christ be ours indeed!
The living Bread from heaven
on whom our spirits feed;
who died for love of sinners
to bear our guilty load,
and make of life's journey
a new Emmaus road.

Strength of the wills that serve Him,
may Christ be strength to me,
who stilled the storm and tempest,
who calmed the tossing sea;
His Spirit's power to move me,
His will to master mine,
His cross to carry daily
and conquer in His sign.

May it be ours to know Him
that we may truly love,
and loving, fully serve Him
as serve the saints above;
till in that home of glory
with fadeless splendor bright,
we serve in perfect freedom
our strength, our life, our light.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Choosing this day to be a stone of glory



At the centre of the universe


C. S. Lewis


His journey to Perelandra was not a moral exercise, nor a sham fight. If the issue lay in Maleldil's hands, Ransom and the Lady were those hands. The fate of a world really depended on how they behaved in the next few hours. ...

The voluble self protested, wildly, swiftly, like the propeller of a ship racing when it is out of the water. The imprudence, the unfairness, the absurdity of it! Did Maleldil want to lose worlds? What was the sense of so arranging things that anything really important should finally and absolutely depend on such a man of straw as himself? And at that moment, far away on Earth, as he now could not help remembering, men were at war, and white-faced subalterns and freckled corporals who had but lately begun to shave, stood in horrible gaps or crawled forward in deadly darkness, awaking, like him, to the preposterous truth that all really depended on their actions; and far away in time, Horatious stood on the bridge, and Constantine settled in his mind whether he would or would not embrace the new religion, and Eve herself stood looking upon the forbidden fruit and the Heaven of Heavens waited for her decision. He writhed and ground his teeth, but could not help seeing. Thus and not otherwise, the world was made. Either something or nothing must depend on individual choices. And if something, who could set bounds to it? A stone may determine the course of a river. He was that stone at this horrible moment which had become the centre of the whole universe...

C. S. Lewis, Perelandra

Obedience as the other side of the Creative will

George MacDonald

When a man can and does entirely say, Not my will, but Thine be done – when he so wills the will of God as to do it – then he is one with God, one as a true son with a true father.

God’s life within him is the causing and bearing of his life. It is therefore absolutely and only of its kind, one with it more and deeper than words or figures can say. It is the life which is itself, only more of itself, and, more than that, which causes itself. When a man wills that his being is conformed to that Being of his origin, which is the life in his life, when a man thus accepts his own causing Life, and sets himself to live the will of that causing Life, humbly eager after the privileges of his origin, he thus receives God’s life into himself. He becomes, in the act, a partaker of the divine nature, a true son of the Living God, and an heir of all He possesses. By the obedience of a son, he receives into himself the very life of the Father.

Obedience is the joining of the links of the eternal round. Obedience is but the other side of the Creative will: Will is God's will, obedience is man’s will. The two make one. The root Life, knowing well the thousand troubles it would bring upon Him, has created, and goes on creating, other lives, that though incapable of self-being they may, by willed obedience, share in the bliss of His essential self-ordained being.

If we do the will of God, eternal life is ours – no mere continuity of existence, for that in itself is worthless as hell, but a being that is one with the essential Life.

George MacDonald, Your Life in Christ: The Nature of God and His Work in Human Hearts, 80.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

He was wounded for our transgressions...



But He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
and by His wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

The healing battle

He went out into the desert
To face that ancient foe:
The great dragon,
That ancient serpent
That cast down children of God.

He went into the wilderness
To face the darkest part:
The dread line
Of good and evil
That runs through the human heart.

He went out to be tested
By inhuman, evil voice
Which offered gifts
In darkness –
For only the price of choice.

And there, beneath coiled darkness
He heard what we all hear,
Higher than we hear –
And without food or water,
He shattered greatest fear.

He went out into the barren place
And battled great travail,
To lift in love
His chosen ones
When we go out and fail!

He went out into the wilderness,
So wounded,
To bear the greatest part –
Without sin, He yet bore sin
And healed our wounded heart!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Trusting in the arms of Abba



S/he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart...

Psalm 91:1-4

Sunday, August 20, 2006

India's lost girls


India's endangered species: baby girls

The brides never had a chance to be born

In Punjab, special prayers of thanks greet the birth of a boy… Girls are born into silence.

"People say, you have two girl children, you have done some sins in your past life…" Surinder Saini.


Recent research into India’s abortion by sex selection estimates that India has experienced a net loss of 10 million baby girls over the last two decades. This is stunning. Certain groups dispute the figure. But what is not disputable is the unusual gender balance in India. Estimated research is disputable, but empirical numbers are not.

Demographic studies across India show that, on average, there are around 900 girls for every 1,000 boys. In some provinces this figure dips below 800 for the girls, and sinking. Multiply this figure times the national number and the result is staggering.

Female devaluation not devastates girls, it hurts an entire society.

Jill McGivering aptly notes:

All those years of prejudice against girls are finally coming back to haunt this society.

There is such an acute gender imbalance here that it is causing real social problems. Young men are coming of marriageable age, only to discover there is no one left for them to marry.

The young girls who would have been their brides never had the chance to be born…

In Haryana, a quarter of the female population has simply disappeared.

Inquiry into Rajasthan female feticides


Police in the Indian state of Rajasthan have launched an investigation into 21 doctors who are alleged to have been involved in aborting female fetuses. But those persons truly invested in saving female lives say that this “police investigation” is just a smokescreen to cover up the real problem. They have no faith in the police or state politic on this issue, instead pleading for the Central Bureau of Investigation to take up the cause.

"The police case is just an eye wash to delay the investigation. We don't have faith in the state agency. We want the CBI to investigate the scandal," Kavita Srivastva of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said.

According to the last census, Rajasthan has 922 females per 1,000 males. However, some districts have an even more dismal sex ratio.

Gory tale of Punjab's lost girls

In Punjab, the government is investigating the “possible involvement” of state officials in setting up illegal clinics and ultrasound centers dedicated to female feticide.

Last week, a surprise raid by police and health officials unearthed a 30-foot well located behind a private clinic, which contained the remains of female fetuses.

The discovery provoked the ‘largest ever campaign against female feticide’ across the state's 23 districts; yet Virender Singh Mohi, the official who led the raid against the hospital, has received several phone calls with death threats – threatening to kill him if he continues the raids on private hospitals. In response, Mr. Mohi notes the obvious:

"There are very strong and influential vested interests in keeping this illegal practice going...”

Darshan Kumar Singla, a local journalist in Patran, says that although everyone is aware that female feticide is illegal, most people do not think anything about aborting a female child and trying again for a boy.

"Female feticide is rampant in all the small towns here. Most nursing homes do such work at night and everybody – the police, the health authorities and the civil administration – knows this is happening.

He says that people are sitting up and taking notice only because the fetuses in the well became too public to ignore, that the problem is so widespread and ingrained that laws cannot stop the practice – it only creates a booming black market.

The implication is that only a change in heart, a change in culture, will end the destruction. The system of dowry – and attendant ingrained devaluation of girls – feeds into deep greed in the parents’ hearts. It is common practice for parents to abort girls and try again for boys – even among those who otherwise might be against the practice of female feticide [in theory].

Pritam Singh, the owner of Sahib Hospital who is under arrest, says, "The only thing that could really end this problem is a firm end to the system of dowry.”

Praying for a cultural change of heart


But, of course, ending dowry would mean a change in the hearts and minds of traditional Indian people. The India that Amy Carmichael found a few decades ago, where girls were devalued and fed into the crucible of ritual Hindu temple prostitution, lurks just beneath the surface of this debate.

When someone tries to make a difference, s/he is threatened with loss of life or vocation. Just ask Sam Thomas and the Hopegivers orphanage in Rajasthan, where they’ve faced an incessant tide of threats, beatings, persecution, imprisonment, and illegal law manipulation in their effort to reach outcast girls and boys. Just ask the girl orphans of Emmanuel Hope Home who’ve faced attempted rape by Hindu authorities in Kota, Rajasthan.

The issue is serious and heartbreaking, and goes to the soul of Indian culture as surely as the practice of American abortion goes to the soul of our culture: the place where truth is exchanged for lies and innocents pay the price on the altar of human greed.

And here is where a devastating Indian practice reaches across the oceans and continents, and runs down the line of good and evil that pierces our own hearts.

We cannot truly stand for innocent Indian girls without also standing against something in our own cultural soul…

Selah.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A song for Israel



Psalm 131

A song of ascents by David

My heart is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.

Come to the Quiet


John Michael Talbot

Lord, my heart is not proud,
Nor are my eyes fixed on things beyond me.
In the quiet, I have stilled my soul
Like a child at rest
on its mother’s knee.
I have stilled my soul within me.

Israel, come and hope in your Lord.
Do not set your eyes on things far beyond you.
Just come to the quiet,
Come and still your soul
Like a child at rest on it’s daddy’s knee.
Come and still your soul completely.

May the peace of this passage be upon Israel. May the soul of Israel be quieted in the arms of Abba, this day and this night in the very stillness of God. Amen.

A prayer for evening and enemies

What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?

Words: Henry Francis Lyte, 1847
Tune: Eventide


Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide:
when other helpers fail and comforts flee,
help of the helpless, O abide with me.

I need thy presence every passing hour;
what but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's dark sting? where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A word on becoming the real self

Becoming our real self

George MacDonald

The man who does not house self has room to be his real self – God’s eternal idea of him. He lives eternally. In virtue of the creative power present in him with moment by moment unimpeded creation, he is.

How should there be in him one thought of ruling or commanding or surpassing? He can imagine no bliss, no good in being greater than someone else. He is unable to wish himself other than he is, except more what God made him for, which is indeed the highest willing of the will of God.

His brother’s well-being is essential to his bliss. The thought of standing higher in the favor of God than his brother would make him miserable. He would lift every brother and sister to the embrace of the Father.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they are of the same spirit as God, and by nature the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

George MacDonald, Knowing the Heart of God, 185.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Back to the future with the New York Times


Too close to the truth to laugh, says Glenn. Click to enlarge. From the People's Cube.

Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see

Lead, kindly Light

Words: John Henry Newman, 1833
Tune: Lux Benigna


Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom,
lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
the distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou
shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
pride ruled my will: remember not past years!

So long thy power hath blessed me, sure it still
will lead me on.
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
the night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The truth according to Hezbollah

Would you recognize Hitler...

...if he came in your generation?

A question runs through my mind: How can we claim to be on the side of light in reference to past crimes, if we cannot delineate between good and evil on this day, this very day?

Look at this video, where a modern leader leads the masses in mesmerizing chants: Death to Israel! Death to America!

Look at this video, where a passionate speaker sways the minds of his followers with a revised history and call for blood.

Look at these videos and ask, "Was it any clearer during Hitler's time -- this call for Jewish destruction?" Or was it even muddier then, with the Holocaust denied until the camps were discovered by the Allies? Indeed, morality is easy in hindsight, and these calls for Jewish destruction are far clearer than Hitler's... or Stalin's... in the death of tens of millions of Jews.

We will not be judged for another time. Neither will easy moralisms against evil in another time absolve us from the guilt of our own time. We will be judged for today, for where we stood when darkness offered the price in our own terms.

Look at these videos, and evaluate where you stand!

Selah.

Sad update: Meanwhile, Mike Wallace of CBS News calls Ahmadinegad smart, interesting and charming...at the same time referring to Israel as "that Zionist state." Unbelievable, yet real. Thus is evil enabled in our time. Hitler and Stalin had their charms, as does every mass murderer. Antichrist comes as a man of peace. Now we see just how such destroyers are feted, how they are excused: good called evil and evil good, on the basis of banalities, while millions of Jews, Christians and innocents die.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Thoughts between daughter and Father II



CONCEAL NOT MY LOVING KINDNESS

Her thoughts said, “If it were anyone else I would not feel so doubtful.”

Her Father said,

“Because thou art what thou knowest thou art and what I know thou art, the glory will be all Mine when anything is done. Look not at thyself at all; let thine eyes be ever looking unto thy Lord.”

Then in grateful wonder the daughter said, “Thy lovingkindness is ever before mine eyes.”

And her Father said,

“Conceal not My lovingkindness.”

WHO IS THIS THAT COMETH UP FROM THE WILDERNESS?

The daughter knew that her Father’s desire was to deck His priests with health and joy and vigor. A wilderness experience did not seem to be His choice for them, and yet for many the wilderness was appointed. The daughter was perplexed about this. Then the Spirit, the Comforter, brought to her mind words from the Gospels about her Lord’s sojourn in the wilderness, and the figure of the true in the Song of Songs: Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness? And she saw that no child of the Father was asked to walk where the footsteps of his Lord were not clear on the road. But she saw also that always there was a coming out of the wilderness: Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness leaning upon her Beloved? No dwelling-place was ever built in any wilderness for any child of God.

NOT A NEW WORD TO THEE

The daughter said, “The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle. I am armed. I have no excuse for a single backward look. O make my spirit steadfast with Thee.”

Her Father said,

“Thy help standeth in the name if the Lord who hath made heaven and earth.”

The daughter answered earnestly, “Establish the thing, O God, that Thou hast wrought in me.” And yet her thoughts persisted, “But if I slip?”

The God of all patience answered,

“Then Love, traveling in the greatness of His strength, will gather thee up. There is nothing that Love will not do for thee. ‘When I said, “My foot slippeth,” Thy mercy O Lord, held me up,’ is not a new word to thee.”

Note: Beautiful thoughts from the inner prayer dialogue of Amy Carmichael, as she talked to her Father about the issues of life and personal challenges around her. God used her to rescue many young girls from ritual Hindu temple prostitution, and wrought miracles through her prayer life. Here is a brief glimpse into that prayer life. May it bless you today!


Thursday, August 03, 2006

A sovereignty which trumps idiot despair

Incarnation as a sign of destiny

Malcolm Muggeridge


Whatever may happen, however seemingly inimical to it may be the world’s going and those who preside over the world’s affairs, the truth of the Incarnation remains intact and inviolate. Christendom, like other civilizations before it, is subject to decay and must sometime decompose and disappear. The world’s way of responding to intimations of decay is to engage equally in idiot hopes and idiot despair. On the one hand some new policy or discovery is confidently expected to put everything to rights: a new fuel, a new drug, d├ętente, world government. On the other, some disaster is as confidently expected to prove our undoing: Capitalism will break down. Fuel will run out. Plutonium will lay us low. Atomic waste will kill us off. Overpopulation will suffocate us, or alternatively, a declining birth rate will put us more surely at the mercy of our enemies.

In Christian terms, such hopes and fears are equally beside the point. As Christians we know that here we have no continuing city, that crowns roll in the dust and every earthly kingdom must sometime flounder, whereas we acknowledge a King men did not crown and cannot dethrone, as we are citizens of a city of God they did not build and cannot destroy. Thus the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, living in a society as depraved and dissolute as ours. Their games, like our television, specialized in spectacles of violence and eroticism. Paul exhorted them to be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in God’s work,” to concern themselves with the things that are unseen. “For the things which are seen are temporal but the things which are not seen are eternal.” It was in the breakdown of Rome that Christendom was born. Now in the breakdown of Christendom there are the same requirements and the same possibilities to eschew the fantasy of a disintegrating world and seek the reality of what is not seen and eternal, the reality of Christ.

I expect that you’re all familiar with Plato’s image of the shadows in a cave. The people in the cave saw shadows passing by and mistook these shadows, supposing that the shadows were people and that the names they gave them were real. I feel that this is an image of our existence. Our television is an outward and visible sign of this fantasy with which we preoccupy ourselves.

Many people here have asked me how it was that I came ultimately to be convinced that Christ was the answer. It was because in this world of fantasy in which my own occupation has particularly involved me, I have found in Christ the only true alternative. The shadow in the cave is like the media world of shadows. In contradistinction, Christ shows what life really is, and what our true destiny is.

We escape from the cave. We emerge from the darkness and instead of shadows we have all around us the glory of God’s creation. Instead of darkness we have light; instead of despair, hope; instead of time and the clocks ticking inexorably on, eternity, which never began and never ends and yet is sublimely now.

What then is this reality of Christ, contrasting with all the fantasies whereby men seek to evade it, fantasies of the ego, of the appetites, of power or success, of the mind and the will – the reality valid when first lived and expounded by our Lord himself two thousand years ago? It has buoyed up Western man through all the vicissitudes and uncertainty of Christendom’s centuries, and is available today when it’s more needed, perhaps, than ever before, as it will be available tomorrow and forever. It is simply this: by identifying ourselves with Christ, by absorbing ourselves in His teaching, by living out the drama of His life with Him, including especially the passion, that powerhouse of love and creativity – by living with, by, and in Him, we can be reborn to become new men and women in a new world.

Malcolm Muggeridge, The End of Christendom, 51ff.

Learning from uncreated and incarnate truth

Paradox of man, light of God

Blaise Pascal

What sort of monster then is man! What a novelty? What a portent? What a chaos? What a mass of contradictions! What a prodigy! Judge of all things. A ridiculous earthworm who is the repository of truth. A sink of uncertainty and error, the glory and the scum of the earth. Who shall unravel such a tangle? It is certainly beyond the powers of dogmatism and skepticism and all human philosophy. Man transcends man.

Let us therefore grant to the skeptics what they’ve so often proclaimed – that truth is not within our reach, nor is it our prey, that it does not dwell on earth, that it’s the familiar of heaven, that it lodges in the bosom of God and that it can only be known insofar as it pleases Him to reveal it.

Let us learn about our true nature from uncreated and incarnate truth. Nature confounds the skeptics and reason confounds the dogmatists. What then will become of you, oh mortals, who seek to discover your true condition through your natural reason! You cannot avoid one of these sects or live with any of them. Know then, proud man, what a paradox you are to yourself. Humble yourself, impotent reason. Be silent, dull-witted nature and learn from your master your true condition, which you do not know.

Listen to God.

Pascal, Pensees, 131.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The promise cannot come too late



YHVH-YIREH. THE LORD WILL PROVIDE
Genesis xxii.14

William Cowper

The saints should never be dismay’d,
Nor sink in hopeless fear;
For when they least expect His aid,
The Saviour will appear.

This Abraham found: he raised the knife;
God saw, and said, “Forbear!
Yon ram shall yield his meaner life;
Behold the victim there.”

Once David seem’d Saul’s certain prey;
But hark! the foe’s at hand;
Saul turns his arms another way,
To save the invaded land.

When Jonah sunk beneath the wave,
He thought to rise no more;
But God prepared a fish to save,
And bear him to the shore.

Blest proofs of power and grace divine,
That meet us in His word!
May every deep-felt care of mine
Be trusted with the Lord.

Wait for His seasonable aid,
And though it tarry, wait:
The promise may be long delay’d,
But cannot come too late.