Saturday, September 30, 2006

September light and glory



Sunlight and clouds, streaming light, air and water: September glory!

Oklahoma not so far away



A sign spotted while driving through the Pennsylvania heartland: Oklahoma, 1 mi.! Who knew it was so close?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Old Brush Hill School



School days, school days
Dear old Golden Rule days

Reading and writing and 'rithmetic

All to the tune of a hickory stick!


The song still echoes on a country drive
Through Pennsylvania hills,
On a bright September day.

The voices may have faded and gone away
But the lessons still remain,
And laughter will ever stay...

An autumn reminder of refracted truth:
Lovely crafting of lives,
And flowers on the way!

Reflections on an old, one-room schoolhouse, serendipitously happened upon during a scenic country drive.


The advancing edge of your powerful storm

Lost, alone, isolated

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice…
He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under His feet…
He made darkness His covering, His canopy around Him…
Out of the brightness of His presence clouds advanced…
He shot His arrows and scattered my enemies, great bolts of lightning routed them.

Psalm 18:6, 9, 11-12, 14

Amy Carmichael

There was one who was unafraid of any evil that might rise against her, unafraid of even the hint of bad news. Her heart stood fast, believing the Lord, trusting in the tender mercy of God for ever and ever.

How often had He risen as light in the darkness! How often she had called on Him from the very center of trouble, knowing that He heard her the instant each storm broke upon her – knowing He would come at once and deliver her. He had been so full of love, and she had sung and proclaimed His goodness, saying, “Who is like the Lord our God – who has His dwelling so high, yet humbles himself to take part in things that are far below Him in heaven and on earth?”

But now…

She found herself standing alone, isolated, looking into a great, gray mist.

Fold after fold, the hills lay before her, but always in impenetrable mists. She could see no path. Only a little track in the valley below. She felt quite alone. For a while she stood. Listening. Feeling an inward isolation and uncertainty harder to bear than any acute physical pain had been.

Softly, voices began to speak within her. Now stealing her courage, now filling her with courage again:

“My heart and my flesh may fail…”

“But God is the strength of my heart, and the good portion that is allotted to me – forever!”

“My closest friends avoid me, or else they have no idea what is happening in the depths of my soul. And even my own family do not understand…”

“Nevertheless, I am with you moment by moment, because you have reached out for my strong hand.”

“My tears have flowed day and night, while unbelievers look at me and think, ‘Where is your God now…’”

“You shall answer for me, ‘The Lord is God!’”

“Why are you cast down, O my soul – and why are you so unsettled within me?”

“Hope in Me, your God! For you shall yet praise Him, who gives the very blush of health to your face.”

“No, the path I’m forced to walk is hidden from God…”

“I know the ways you must walk. All your ways are before me. As for Me, my way is perfect and I make your way perfect. The people never thirsted even when I led them through the desert. Will you faint, though I lead you through mist-clouded hills?”

When her inner struggle ceased, she looked again at the mist – and saw that a great light was growing in its very heart. At once, she knew that she was not alone. God was her refuge and strength, present with her, ready to help in times of trouble! (Psalm 46:1)

Suddenly, He was all about her path. He would make good on His promises of lovingkindness toward her, and He comforted her. He would not let any of her hopes be disappointed. Nor could she fear any longer, for those gloomy paths that lay ahead, through the folds of the hills, they were open ways before Him.

So it was enough for her to only see the next few steps. He would go before her and make His own footsteps a way for her to walk in! She was filled again with assurance: The One whom she followed could see through the mist all the way to the end of the path.

And as she walked the misted way, she was given a song to sing: “You, my Lord, never fail those who seek you…!”

As she walked and sang, others whom she did not see because the mist lay heavy all about her, heard her singing.

And though she did not know it, she gave many comfort and helped them follow in the path of His footsteps too – all the way to the end.

Prayer

My Father, is the mist around me really the advancing edge of your powerful storm, to drive away my enemies?

I know that you hear my voice when I call for help. Give me courage to stand, through all the gathering darkness, so that I can encourage others when your brightness is at last revealed.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Like the wideness of the sea



There's a wideness in God's mercy


Words: Frederick William Faber, 1862. Tune: Beecher

There's a wideness in God's mercy
like the wideness of the sea;

there's a kindness in His justice,

which is more than liberty.

There is welcome for the sinner,

and more graces for the good;

there is mercy with the Savior;

there is healing in His blood.


There is no place where earth's sorrows

are more felt than in heaven;

there is no place where earth's failings
have such kind judgment given.

There is plentiful redemption

in the blood that has been shed;

there is joy for all the members

in the sorrows of the Head.

For the love of God is broader

than the measure of man's mind;

and the heart of the Eternal

is most wonderfully kind.

If our love were but more faithful,

we should take Him at His word;

and our life would be thanksgiving

for the goodness of the Lord.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Neither isolated truth nor orphaned deed

Love that takes shape

The Lord cared neither for isolated truth nor for orphaned deed. It was truth in the inward parts, it was the good heart, the mother of good deeds, He cherished. It was the live, active, knowing, breathing good He came to further.

He cared for no speculation in morals or religion. It was good men He cared about, not notions of good things, or even good actions, save as the outcome of life, save as the bodies in which the primary live actions of love and will in the soul took shape and came forth.

Could He by one word have set at rest all the questionings of philosophy as to the supreme good and the absolute truth, I venture to say that word He would not have uttered. But He would die to make men good and true. His whole heart would respond to the cry of sad publican or despairing pharisee,
‘How am I to be good?’

George MacDonald

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A wonder of star trails



He made the stars and set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth...and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. Gen. 1:16-18

Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is His name! Amos 5:8

Thanks to Gail for this pic of star trails, the light path from stars made as the earth twirls throughout the night.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A dance of joy



The utter joy of finding,
The joy of being found --
Such is the beauty
When Jesus holds His own.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A skeptic doubts his doubts

The haunting of Jesus the Christ

Why should He vex me? Why is His ghost not friendlier?

Why can't I just be a good Enlightenment child and see in His life a sustaining example of what we can be, as a species?

Because once you've known Him as God, it's hard to find comfort in the man. The sheer sensation of life that comes with a total, all-pervading notion of being – the pulse of consequence one projects onto even the humblest things – the pull of that won't slacken.

And one has doubts about one's doubts.

So writes agnostic John Sullivan, in a most poignant and exquisite GQ article, artfully titled: “Upon This Rock: Rock music used to be a safe haven for degenerates and rebels. Until it found Jesus.” The article starts out as an intended exposé on Christian rock music, but somewhere along the way it turns into a devastating critique of modern Christianity – and a heart-rending expression of a skeptic's heart. [warning: agnostic writing, language alert]

As I read this article, I was reminded of something George MacDonald said in relation to rejection of Christianity. MacDonald said something to the effect that to reject what was false in Christianity is not the same as rejecting Christ, that to reject the false wrapping of God is not to reject God; indeed, rejecting the false is a necessary part of relating to the true.

Sullivan lost his faith years ago at a Petra concert, looking in the blank, opium-like eyes of the seekers. And to this day, he seems wracked by the contradiction between the reality of Christ and the non-reality of many who claim His name, loving what is true in faith yet sickened by the false...like the native handed bread in a cellophane wrapper, who chokes on the wrapper while eating the bread -- never knowing that the wrapper wasn't part of the essence.

Sullivan writes with self-depreciating irony, a high-wire act of intellectual detachment and deep, scathing questions. His article is fascinating on several levels...the potent words, the raw emotions, the integrous challenge to Christendom.

Above all, it is an insightful glimpse into the postmodern rejection of Christianity. For those who wonder why this generation of megachurch Christianity is also paralleled by the greatest loss of [Christian] faith ever recorded in the West, read this article and wonder no more...

For those who search and would hear an answer of the Living Christ, 'if only they could believe,' read this article and see yourself. Along the way there may be light, and in that light, an Answer.

And on your way consider these words: perhaps a Petra concert is a great place to lose your faith, if in that loss there is found the power to know the difference between the cellophane and the bread, the Bread of Life and those who sincerely market Him in deadly, sub-cultural trappings...

Selah.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

In memoriam of Peter Christian Fry



9/11 through the eyes of family faith

A man is best known in the eyes of his family,
best remembered in lingering deeds of loyalty and love,
best kept in the hearts of those who bear his heart.

So here, for Peter Christian Fry, taken out of time by terror
on that fateful September day, a tribute, a memoriam of faith
in the eyes of those he loved: his wife and daughters true.

God grant that the faith in these eyes be rewarded by knowledge,
in time, of life that endures without time: transcendent love --
life that bears his name and bears a part of eternity, in heart.

May it be said, when dark doubts rise, and questions threaten frame,
that love will live on and never leave: faith, the certainty of things unseen,
strength for life now, and beautiful hint of future yet to come! Amen.

This tribute is offered as a part of the 2996 Project, where the victims of 9/11 are remembered and blessed for their lives, that their memory will remain, more sure than the incessant reminders of their killers. Click here for a list of those memorialized by bloggers around the world...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Thy doors are deeds



Deeds

I would go near thee – but I cannot press
Into thy presence – it helps not to presume.
Thy doors are deeds.

Prayer

My prayers, my God, flow from what I am not;
I think thy answers make me what I am.
Like weary waves thought follows upon thought,
But the still depth beneath is all thine own,
And there thou mov'st in paths to us unknown.
Out of strange strife thy peace is strangely wrought;
If the lion in us pray – thou answerest the lamb!

George MacDonald

Learning love from Father and Son

What Jesus did is what the Father does

"I and My Father are one." "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."
John 10:30, 14:9

What Jesus did, was what the Father is always doing; the suffering He endured was that of the Father from the foundation of the world, reaching its climax in the person of His Son. God provides the sacrifice; the sacrifice is himself. He is always, and has ever been, sacrificing himself to and for His creatures. It lies in the very essence of His creation of them.

The worst heresy, next to that of dividing religion and righteousness, is to divide the Father from the Son—in thought or feeling or action or intent; to represent the Son as doing that which the Father does not himself do. Jesus did nothing but what the Father did and does. If Jesus suffered for men, it was because his Father suffers for men; only He came close to men through His body and their senses, that He might bring their spirits close to His Father and their Father, so giving them life, and losing what could be lost of His own. He is God our Saviour: it is because God is our Saviour that Jesus is our Saviour. The God and Father of Jesus Christ could never possibly be satisfied with less than giving himself to His own! The unbeliever may easily imagine a better God than the common theology of the country offers him; but not the lovingest heart that ever beat can even reflect the length and breadth and depth and height of that love of God which shows itself in His Son—one, and of one mind, with himself.

The whole history is a divine agony to give divine life to creatures. The outcome of that agony, the victory of that creative and again creative energy, will be radiant life, whereof joy unspeakable is the flower. Every child will look in the eyes of the Father, and the eyes of the Father will receive the child with an infinite embrace.

George MacDonald

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

He who loves, sees



The maxim is doubtful, that to know all is to forgive all, but it is an unshakeable truth that to forgive is to know.

He who loves, sees.

C. S. Lewis

To fill His house of love withal

God at the Door

Nor will God force any door to enter in. He may send a tempest about the house; the wind of His admonishment may burst doors and windows, yea, shake the house to its foundations; but not then, not so, will He enter. The door must be opened by the willing hand, ere the foot of Love will cross the threshold. He watches to see the door move from within. Every tempest is but an assault in the siege of Love. The terror of God is but the other side of His love; it is love outside, that would be inside – love that knows the house is no house, only a place, until it enter.

Providence

If His machine interfered with His answering the prayer of a single child, He would sweep it from Him – not to bring back chaos but to make room for His child…

We must remember that God is not occupied with a grand toy of worlds and suns and planets, of attractions and repulsions, of agglomerations and crystallizations, of forces and waves; that these but constitute a portion of His workshops and tools for the bringing out of righteous men and women to fill His house of love withal.

George MacDonald



Monday, September 04, 2006

A discovery of life inexpressible



For my love, indeed, and not my glory in it, will be my life. There would be, even in that one love, in the simple purity of a single affection such as we were created to generate and intended to cherish, an expansion of life inexpressible, unutterable.

For we are made for love, not for self.

George MacDonald

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Almost heaven, grey version


Early autumn mists bring evening grey to WV hills


Evening grey deepens, light rain falls, candles light on the lake...
A warm fire, a good glass, and ghost stories, anyone? :-)

Friday, September 01, 2006

A daring journey for daughters and sons



We are God’s children, but we must become His sons and daughters… No more than an earthly parent, God cannot be content to have only children. He must have sons and daughters – children of His soul, of His spirit, of His love – not merely in the sense that He loves them, or even that they love Him, but in the sense that they love like Him, love as He loves.

George MacDonald, Your Life in Christ: The Nature of God and His Work in Human Hearts, 188.