Sunday, October 29, 2006

A windswept autumn field

I love the contrast of colors in this picture, the gradient blue of the sky, and the captured motion of the wind. The scene struck me while driving home from a Sunday meeting, so I just had to pull over and try a picture... the sun on the corn, the grass and corn in frozen motion, the converging lines in the distance, capped by distant autumn trees and tinted clouds...surreal, but real! It's an almost perfect picture! :-)

"The fields are white unto harvest!"

A table in autumn

Here the grey of an overcast autumn sky is reflected in the lake, a subdued backdrop for a rough wooden table, framed by fallen leaves, red, pink and rusty. This is a pic that has to be seen close up to be appreciated! Click to enlarge, btw. As I considered this picture in nature, rough table in autumn, purposeful still, the imagery of our divine Abba came to mind, where He spreads a table for His children, in the wilderness...

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Psalm 23:5-6

A rainy day, a dog, and a witch doctor

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands... [Isaiah 55:11-12]

Sovereignty at work in a stray dog

If anyone is struggling to believe that God is still a God of details, of intricate grace, consider this true story that I heard last week!

Guillerma Zapata (Guille) received a Gideon Testament at an engineering university; and, after reading it, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Near his house was a small church where he began to worship God and grow in his new faith.

Eventually, Guille got a job as a petroleum engineer in a small town called Huancabamba in the north of Peru, believed to be a stronghold of witches and warlocks. His pastor commented that Guille would be the first missionary going out from his small church, and during the weeks before Guille’s departure for Huancabamba, the good pastor prepared him, among other things, to lead Bible studies.

Once in his new job, Guille put out a sign saying, “Mining Engineer gives free Bible lessons.” Not a single person attended his meetings.

One day, it began to rain very hard, and the water entered his little room. In desperation, Guille began bailing the water out with a bucket, throwing it through the open door into the street. Suddenly a dirty, mangy dog darted into Guille’s room, grabbed his Gideon Testament in its mouth, and ran back out the door. Guille sprinted after the dog, trying to save his precious Bible, but before he could reach the dog, it ran into the shack of a well-known witch doctor. Guille decided to give it up rather than enter that cursed place…

However, two weeks later, someone knocked on Guille’s door… It was the witch doctor! He asked Guille about the Bible lessons, wanting to learn about the holy book. The witch doctor said that one rainy evening an “extremely ugly dog” carried a little blue book into his hut. He opened it to Psalm 115, and began to read about the sin of idolatry. As he read, he began to sense something missing in his life, and wanted to know what he needed. So Guille shared with him God’s amazing love and forgiving grace…

Thus, the warlock, Leoncio Guerrero, accepted Jesus Christ, and then went out and led his whole family to the Lord. And that was not all… later Leoncio introduced his niece to Guille, and she is now Mrs. Guillerma Zapata! Together Guille and his bride pastor a church in Jaen, Peru.

Do you need to believe in this kind of grace? :-)

Perhaps a trip to Jaen, Peru, and a conversation with Mr. and Mrs. Zapata, will lift your heart! Or, perhaps their story will reach you across the miles, and you will find your own mirror in the pages of their holy book...


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thoughts between daughter and Father III


The daughter was reminded of a mighty word and a piercing: “Come, My people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut the doors about thee: hide thyself as if it were for a little moment, until the indignation is overpast.”

“Obey that word,” said her Father.

“Earnestly carry forth the light; but forget not to shut thy door.”


Her thoughts said, “What of people who never had a chance?”

Her Father said to her,

“Trust Me not to disappoint thy trust. Dost thou think that the little thread of human life which thou seest is all there is to see? Think of what thou knowest and hast proved of My ways, and believe that what thou dost not know is at least as loving as what thou knowest and hast proved."


The daughter was grieved because some whom she had hoped to help would not even look at her Lord. They were trying to satisfy themselves with husks. They were playing with phantoms.

As she thought sorrowfully of those dear to her, who were so near and yet so far, she remembered how they and she together had looked at a reflection of a mountain in still water. It was the reflection that first caught their attention. But presently they raised their eyes to the mountain.

“Reflect Me,” her Father said to her then.

“They will look at thee. Then they will look up, and see Me. And the stiller the water the more perfect the reflection.


Her thoughts said, “I am distressed because of some very dear to me who have drifted away.”

Her Father said,

“They are very dear to Me, too. Mine is a following love. And when they return, My love will run to meet them.”

Her thoughts said, “What of one who walked in the straight way of faith, but, being lured by the will-o’-the-wisp of false teaching, is wandering in the swamp?

Her Father said,

“I have stepping stones in every swamp.”

Then the daughter worshipped, saying, “O Sovereign Lord, Thou Lover of souls, all the springs of my hope are in Thee.” And like music played softly, melodious words sounded in her ears, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace.”


Note: More 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 another glimpse into that prayer life. May it bless you today!

For soundness of heart, haunt the treasure house of heaven

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Jesus Christ

The heart with the treasure

A very challenging meditation where George MacDonald shows that the danger of earthly treasure is not the transitory nature of those things in themselves, but in their effect on the human heart: the way this treasure ravages the heart that links itself to it.

To understand the words of our Lord is the business of life. For it is the main road to the understanding of The Word himself. And to receive him is to receive the Father, and so to have Life in ourselves. And Life, the higher, the deeper, the simpler, the original, is the business of life…

What, I ask now, is here the power of his word For: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also? The meaning of the reason thus added is not obvious upon its surface. It has to be sought for because of its depth at once and its simplicity. But it is so complete, so imaginatively comprehensive, so immediately operative on the conscience through its poetic suggestiveness, that when it is once understood, there is nothing more to be said, but everything to be done.

“Why not lay up for ourselves treasures upon earth?”

“Because there the moth and rust and the thief come.”

“And so we should lose those treasures!”

“Yes; by the moth and the rust and the thief.”

“Does the Lord then mean that the reason for not laying up such treasures is their transitory and corruptible nature?”

“No. He adds a For: ‘For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’”

“Of course the heart will be where the treasure is; but what has that to do with the argument?”

This: that what is with the treasure must fare as the treasure; that the heart which haunts the treasure-house where the moth and rust corrupt, will be exposed to the same ravages as the treasure, will itself be rusted and moth-eaten.

Many a man, many a woman, fair and flourishing to see, is going about with a rusty moth-eaten heart within that form of strength or beauty.

“But this is only a figure.”

True. But is the reality intended, less or more than the figure? Does not the rust and the moth mean more than disease? And does not the heart mean more than the heart? Does it not mean a deeper heart, the heart of your own self, not of your body? of the self that suffers, not pain, but misery? of the self whose end is not comfort, or enjoyment, but blessedness, yea, ecstasy? a heart which is the inmost chamber wherein springs the divine fountain of your being? a heart which God regards, though you may never have known its existence, not even when its writhings under the gnawing of the moth and the slow fire of the rust have communicated a dull pain to that outer heart which sends the blood to its appointed course through your body? If God sees that heart corroded with the rust of cares, riddled into caverns and films by the worms of ambition and greed, then your heart is as God sees it, for God sees things as they are. And one day you will be compelled to see, nay, to feel your heart as God sees it; and to know that the cankered thing which you have within you, a prey to the vilest of diseases, is indeed the centre of your being, your very heart.

Nor does the lesson apply to those only who worship Mammon, who give their lives, their best energies to the accumulation of wealth: it applies to those equally who in any way worship the transitory; who seek the praise of men more than the praise of God; who would make a show in the world by wealth, by taste, by intellect, by power, by art, by genius of any kind, and so would gather golden opinions to be treasured in a storehouse of earth…

He whose heart is sound because it haunts the treasure-house of heaven may be tempted of the devil, but will be first led up of the Spirit into the wilderness.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What about the religious faith of America's founders?

A vital faith of our fathers

Michael and Jana Novak together have penned an article entitled, “Faith of Our Fathers: The Religion of our Founders.” In it they incisively respond to the secular claim that our Founding Fathers were mostly religious skeptics, or deists.

The piece is very well written. Michael and Jana show that, much like the “Historical Quest for Jesus” writers, who painted romantic, humanistic self-portraits while purporting to write about Jesus, many historians reveal more about themselves than real facts of the founders.

For instance, these historians often use Benjamin Franklin as a classic example of early irreligious sentiment. However, Michael and Jana say that though Franklin is “undoubtedly one of the three or four least orthodox Christians among the top one hundred Founders,” he still stated his belief in God, the obligation of worshipping God, and in an afterlife where he would discover the truth about Jesus. In a letter to the president of Yale, Franklin expressed his faith and doubts clearly:

I believe in one God, creator of the universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshiped. That the most acceptable service we render to Him is doing good to His other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental principles of all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals, and His religion, as He left them to us, the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England some doubts as to His divinity; tho’ it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble.

Of this quote Michael and Jana ask rhetorically, “How many professors at American universities today are so certain that they will meet Jesus Christ after death, to see the evidence for themselves?”

The point is well-taken: If Franklin is one of the least Christian of the founders, what does this say of the rest? And, comparing Benjamin Franklin to today's secularist professors, he was practically an evangelist, lol. Maybe there's a reason Billy Graham named his son Franklin Graham! :-) [Warning: high winds of hyperbole alert, lol!]

Seriously, the article is too good not to quote in large chunks [emphases mine]:

As the greatest of all American historians, Gordon Wood, has been pointing out very forcefully in recent months, he has not found a single atheist during the Founding period (not even Tom Paine), and certainly not among the Founders. Second, he finds even the least religious of the Founders considerably more religious than the average professor at American universities today. Ours is a far, far more secular age, our leaders and our people are far more ignorant of religious ideas. Third, he finds that Jefferson—the Founder most attended to today—was an outlier among the Founders.

Wood has also argued that George Washington, while not being by any means an enthusiast or an evangelical in the modern sense, was probably one of the more religious of the Founders (and certainly of Allen’s top six). Further, Wood points out that Washington’s frequent expressions of gratitude for the “signal interpositions” of Divine Providence (interpositions that Washington had personally experienced) make it impossible to call him a Deist in the conventional sense (that is, anti-Christian). If by Deism you mean a belief in a watchmaker God who has no intimate concern for human individuals or individual nations, a God for whom interpositions in history are out of the question, Deism is contrary to Judaism and to Christianity — and to the public (and private) convictions of George Washington

Among the 89 signers of the Declaration and/or the Constitution, nearly a dozen had studied theology, were ordained ministers, were preachers though not ordained, were chaplains to a militia unit, or were officers of national Bible societies and the like. Historians of the last hundred years have been remiss in their study of the religion of the Founders. We urgently need good studies of all of them, if we wish to have a fairer idea of “the faith of the Founders.” Let us suggest, for starters, studies about the depth of the Christian faith of Roger Sherman; Samuel Huntington; William Williams; the Carroll cousins Charles, Daniel, and John; Hugh Williamson; Robert Treat Paine; William Paca; John Dickinson; Rufus King; William Livingston; John Hancock; Benjamin Rush; Patrick Henry; James Wilson; and George Mason.

Evidence does suggest that Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and James Monroe may have been the least religious of the top 100 Founders. James Madison is harder to be exact about, without a very close study, because many of the motives for his initial resistance, as president, to pay for chaplains for the military, or to issue thanksgiving proclamations, were themselves religious. He feared that government would corrupt religion. Madison had gone back for an extra year of study at Princeton under the Reverend John Witherspoon, one of the greatest defenders of religious and civil liberty in that generation. Because of Madison’s early support for their religious liberty, the Baptists of his congressional district were his most numerous and devoted bloc of supporters. As is well known, Madison at first resisted the idea of amending the Constitution. But these Baptists gave him their votes on the promise that he would get the First Amendment, at least that amendment, into the Constitution. Although reluctant, Madison complied. Yet other evidence suggests that Madison may also, by the end, have been rather estranged from the religion of most Virginians.

As the driving intellectual force behind the new Massachusetts Constitution, John Adams insisted upon the mandatory teaching of the Protestant religion in all the schools of the Commonwealth, at government expense where necessary. This is no infringement on religious conscience, he argued; you don’t have to believe in religion. But if you want the good habits and sound morals that come from religion, you must pay for its presence in the schools.

When looking at the facts, it is certain that a there has been a hijacking of the belief of the founding fathers. Michael and Jana can only conclude that many historians have painted their own portrait “while painting in pale colors the faith of their fathers.”

In sum, the most astonishing thing to say about the religion of the Founders is how little it has been studied during the past hundred years, and how cavalierly and unsympathetically — most often by historians who paint their own portrait while painting in pale colors the faith of their fathers. As a nation of countless students, writers, and professors, surely we can do better than that.

Read the whole thing, and learn! And, be humbled...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sometimes the sky just takes my breath away

Sometimes the autumn sky just takes my breath away --
How can anyone truly see, and not long for poetry?
A contradiction, for me: how anyone can look at life
And not seek Life, the Author and Perfecter of our faith?

Step by step

Rich Mullins

Sometimes the night was beautiful
Sometimes the sky was so far away
Sometimes it seemed to stoop so close
You could touch it but your heart would break...

And on this road to righteousness
Sometimes the climb can be so steep
I may falter in my steps
But never beyond Your reach!

Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days...


And the road goes on, ever upward, to the light!

Have you ever felt yourself to be part of a story infinitely larger than yourself? Or do you think that life is a basically random event, just what you make it through your desire and will? Or, maybe you believe in God but don't think that He cares so much about individual choices, that He doesn't have a specific will for your life...

Wherever you find yourself, I ask you a question: Is it possible that life -- life itself, I mean -- is smaller than its art? Is the transcendent beauty of a work of art less than that which created it?

Never! I say. These fleeting glimpses of beauty only imitate that which is behind it: the story-essence of life cannot be less than its illustration in a perfect picture... Such reality calls us to the beauty beyond, to be up and doing what our hands find to do, in destiny!

In the words of Longfellow,

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! --
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem...

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Indeed! The road goes ever upward and onward, and we can learn its beauty and trace its goal, day by day. The challenge is in waiting, in patient pursuance of the higher good...

Your destiny, your story, cannot be less than the beauty you see, the road that calls you upward! Grand beauty and divine intent! Destiny of light...!


Thursday, October 19, 2006

A forecast of 100% healing rain

Autumn oak on a rainy day

Here is an October forest window: a grand old oak tree framing a glimpse into other trees: the yellow of young maple leaves and the deep green of evergreens, further in. The forest is damp with rain, wet bark on the sides of trees, and muted colors, yet true!

I'm learning to carry my camera with me, on walks or rides, and am always surprised at the new beauty that comes my way! Even on a rainy day, lol.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Autumn symphony of field and sky

I just love the way the brown autumn soybean fields contrast with the blue autumn sky, and turning leaves. It turns any combination of field and trees into a potential masterpiece -- add in the sun and sky, and the picture is complete! A great time of year!

And, the art is layered in meaning. This scene, and hundreds like it, combine divine and human elements to make the painting complete: the fruit of hand and plough, fair work and filled vocation of field and farm, meeting halfway the God who makes things grow, who gives sun and rain for life!

This picture, in all its beauty, links for me what MacDonald calls the "divine round," where humans play their part in obedience to complete a divine picture. Here, work and industry are met in divine favor, sunlight and air: whole beauty!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Autumn sunlight on hardwood trees

While getting a load of firewood, I was struck by the pattern of light and leaves, a neat perspective from inside the trees. It is a dappled pattern of light and shadows, trees and leaves, soaring up to the blue sky beyond, with its floating white clouds. A picture can't capture the actual presence, of course, but it's not bad, either! :-)

Friday, October 13, 2006

To be the thing the Maker thought of when He willed us

All things are possible with God, but all things are not easy

George MacDonald

‘More life!’ is the unconscious prayer of all creation, groaning and travailing for the redemption of its Lord, the Son who is not yet a son. Is not the dumb cry to be read in the faces of some of the animals, in the look of some of the flowers, and in many an aspect of what we call Nature?

All things are possible with God, but all things are not easy. It is easy for Him to
be, for there He has to do with His own perfect will: it is not easy for Him to create — that is, after the grand fashion which alone will satisfy His glorious heart and will, the fashion in which He is now creating us. In the very nature of being — that is, God — it must be hard — and divine history shows how hard — to create that which shall be not himself, yet like himself. The problem is, so far to separate from himself that which must yet on Him be ever and always and utterly dependent, that it shall have the existence of an individual, and be able to turn and regard him — choose Him, and say, ‘I will arise and go to my Father,’ and so develop in itself the highest Divine of which it is capable — the will for the good against the evil — the will to be one with the life whence it has come, and in which it still is — the will to close the round of its procession in its return, so working the perfection of reunion — to shape in its own life the ring of eternity — to live immediately, consciously, and active — willingly from its source, from its own very life — to restore to the beginning the end that comes of that beginning — to be the thing the Maker thought of when He willed, ere He began to work its being

A being that is one with the essential Life

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 is he one with God — one, as a true son with a true father. When a man wills that his being be conformed to the being of his origin, which is the life in his life, causing and bearing his life, therefore absolutely and only of its kind, one with it more and deeper than words or figures can say — to the life which is itself, only more of itself, and more than itself, causing itself — when the 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, — thus receiving God, 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, and so within his reach to fill with the abundant and endless out-goings of His love. Our souls shall be vessels ever growing, and ever as they grow, filled with the more and more life proceeding from the Father and the Son, from God the ordaining, and God the obedient. What the delight of the being, what the abundance of the life He came that we might have, we can never know until we have it…!


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A conceptually challenged artisan ca. 1446 B.C.

Tagline reads: You are a leg-end in your own time, lol!

Thanks, Layne and Deborah, for an awesome card! Somehow it fits, lol. :-) I just love the look of the guy in the pink shirt, lol -- his expression says, "Now how in the heck can I worship THAT?" lol... and look at the apprentice craftsman in the brown smock: he's wondering what he ever did to help produce such a masterpiece! Ah, no wonder Moses was so upset, lol. Idolatry is one thing, but the ludicracy of it all just grabs ya! :-) lol...I feel a new edition coming on: Bible stories according to Loy, lol.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A human contradiction and divine constancy

To a place of delight and joy

It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things; but to convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion.

C.S. Lewis

One can easily understand a child who is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy of life is when grown men and women are afraid of the light.


Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

Why is it that we so often flee what is good for us... quietly avoiding that place were our true selves meet true intention? If our original rebellion cost God crucifixion, is it also true that the return to our true selves costs us an inner agreement with crucifixion, on a personal level that we unconsciously flee?

And yet, such agreement is good for us -- that which we flee is our best interest! It is light for darkness, clarity for greyness, abundance for barrenness...

Thankfully, as George MacDonald says, "God is easy to please but hard to satisfy."

He will bring us to the place were our desires are His desires, and in that place, the desires of our heart will be known...

True meaning, undying Joy!


Monday, October 09, 2006

Columbus Day respects

A salute to my father, and grandparents: you have run a good race!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Columbus Day reflections on Sovereignty

IN 1492

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.

A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go…

When I consider this day, Columbus Day, and the events that birthed this country, I stand in awe. The question that lurks behind all these stories, is a question of sovereignty: What has God intended in the creation of this country?

Scratch the surface of this country and you will find far, far more than the national sin that modern education can only seem to find – an honest look at the events that shaped this country will find deep faith, impossible event stacked upon impossible event, apparent coincidence upon coincidence, a subtle and powerful expression of Providence.

Or, as one said in a different context, regarding the battle of Gettysburg: “Only a fool can deny the hand of Providence in this outcome.”

The purpose of this post is not to argue what skeptics will deny; it is rather to place the issue before reverent hearts: Behold, what manner of divine intention in this land!

And to that end of reverence, here are some faithful thoughts from Washington and Lincoln:

A hand of sovereignty

“It will ever be the first wish of my heart to…inculcate a due sense of the dependence we ought to place in that all wise and powerful Being on whom alone our success depends…”

George Washington

"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy."

Abraham Lincoln

Washington’s prayers for Monday


O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul. Direct my thoughts, words and work, wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb, and purge my heart by thy Holy Spirit, from the dross of my natural corruption, that I may with more freedom of mind and liberty of will serve thee, the ever lasting God, in righteousness and holiness this day, and all the days of my life. Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the gospel; give me repentance from dead works; pardon my wanderings, & direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation; teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments; make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber, but daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy Son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life. Bless my family, friends & kindred unite us all in praising & glorifying thee in all our works begun, continued, and ended, when we shall come to make our last account before thee blessed Savior, who hath taught us thus to pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven…”


Most Gracious Lord God, from whom proceedeth every good and perfect gift, I offer to thy divine majesty my unfeigned praise & thanksgiving for all thy mercies towards me. Thou mad'st me at first and hast ever since sustained the work of thy own hand; thou gav'st thy Son to die for me; and hast given me assurance of salvation, upon my repentance and sincerely endeavoring to conform my life to his holy precepts and example. Thou art pleased to lengthen out to me the time of repentance and to move me to it by thy spirit and by the word, by thy mercies, and by thy judgments; out of a deepness of thy mercies, and by my own unworthiness, I do appear before thee at this time; I have sinned and done very wickedly, be merciful to me, O God, and pardon me for Jesus Christ sake; instruct me in the particulars of my duty, and suffer me not to be tempted above what thou givest me strength to bear. Take care, I pray thee of my affairs and more and more direct me in thy truth; defend me from my enemies, especially my spiritual ones. Suffer me not to be drawn from thee, by the blandishments of the world, carnal desires, the cunning of the devil, or deceitfulness of sin. Work in me thy good will and pleasure, and discharge my mind from all things that are displeasing to thee, of all ill will and discontent, wrath and bitterness, pride & vain conceit of myself, and render me charitable, pure, holy, patient and heavenly minded. Be with me at the hour of death; dispose me for it, and deliver me from the slavish fear of it, and make me willing and fit to die whenever thou shalt call me hence. Bless our rulers in church and state. Bless O Lord the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and thy son Jesus Christ. Pity the sick, the poor, the weak, the needy, the widows and fatherless, and all that mourn or are broken in heart, and be merciful to them according to their several necessities. Bless my friends and grant me grace to forgive my enemies as heartily as I desire forgiveness of Thee my heavenly Father. I beseech thee to defend me this night from all evil, and do more for me than I can think or ask, for Jesus Christ sake, in whose most holy name & words, I continue to pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven…”

Can a reverent heart read these words without tears – hearing these words on the lips of Washington, taken from his journal?

And here, to round out the day, are words of Lincoln from October 3, 1863:

Lincoln's October 3 proclamation

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God…

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battlefield; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People…

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

God grant that the intent of these prayers and words, and the intent of the God who birthed them, be fulfilled in your life this day, this night, Alleluia!


Friday, October 06, 2006

October road

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight! Proverbs 3:5-6

I heard an elk bugle while I was taking this picture… a short time later two beautiful whitetail buck walked across the road. As I was framing the shot down the road, highlighted in the slanting sunlight, the Proverbs 3 imagery came to mind: God is the one who makes our paths beautiful! He makes every day a dance and creates truth in the inward parts… so trusting Him is key to beauty, to love! [click to enlarge pic]

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Autumn rainbow painting

I just love the interplay of light in this pic, almost watercolor hues and contrasts: lit foreground, muted blue hills and pastel sky! Look closely and you can barely see a pink strand on the very bottom of the forming rainbow. And in the center of the rainbow, the light breaking through the clouds, right still in gentle rain. [Click 2x to enlarge]

If God had a face would you want to see it?

The one who recognizes God

George MacDonald

If the Lord were to appear this day in England as once in [Israel], He would not come in the halo of the painters, or with that wintry shine of effeminate beauty, of sweet weakness, in which it is their helpless custom to represent him. Neither would He probably come as carpenter, or mason, or gardener. He would come in such form and condition as might bear to the present England, Scotland, and Ireland, a relation like that which the form and condition He then came in, bore to the motley Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. If He came thus, in form altogether unlooked for, who would they be that recognized and received Him?

The idea involves no absurdity. He is not far from us at any moment – if the old story be indeed more than the best and strongest of the fables that possess the world. He might at any moment appear: who, I ask, would be the first to receive Him? Now, as then, it would of course be the childlike in heart, the truest, the least selfish. They would not be the highest in the estimation of any church, for the childlike are not yet the many. It might not even be those that knew most about the former visit of the Master, that had pondered every word of the Greek Testament.

The first to cry, ‘It is the Lord!’ would be neither ‘good churchman’ nor ‘good dissenter.’ It would be no one with so little of the mind of Christ as to imagine Him caring about stupid outside matters. It would not be the man that holds by the mooring-ring of the letter, fast in the quay of what he calls theology, and from his rotting deck abuses the presumption of those that go down to the sea in ships – lets the wind of the spirit blow where it listeth, but never blow him out among its wonders in the deep. It would not be he who, obeying a command, does not care to see reason in the command; not he who, from very barrenness of soul, cannot receive the meaning and will of the Master, and so fails to fulfill the letter of his word, making it of none effect.

It would certainly, if any, be those who were likest the Master – those, namely, that did the will of their Father and His Father, that built their house on the rock by hearing and doing His sayings. But are there any enough like Him to know Him at once by the sound of His voice, by the look of His face? There are multitudes who would at once be taken by a false Christ fashioned after their fancy, and would at once reject the Lord as a poor impostor.

One thing is certain: they who first recognized Him would be those that most loved righteousness and hated iniquity.


One of us

Joan Osborne

If God had a name, what would it be
And would you call it to His face
If you were faced with Him in all His glory?
What would you ask if you had just one question…

If God had a face what would it look like?
And would you want to see
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
In things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets?



Dear God, please make me the kind of a person that wants to see your face, whatever the cost. And then make me the kind of person who can see your face, when you walk down our streets, in our town…

O Abba, help me to follow you in the one thing that I know is right, and yet struggle to do. You say to obey is better than sacrifice, to hearken than the fat of rams -- teach me the beauty of obedience where I try to substitute sacrifice, and so grant me the wholeness that sees your face today...


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I want to trust you, Lord


Amy Carmichael

The Lord spoke to me, like a firm grasp of the hand.

Isaiah 8:11

Blessed be the Lord our God, who does – if we speak the honest truth – cause His word to come to us in just this way: like a strong hand reaching out for us to take hold of firmly, and to take hold of us.

Sometimes this firm grasp comes as He opens our understanding to a single word. His hand has grasped me, in recent days, as my understanding opens up to the word trust.

Trust, I have learned, means: to lean on, to place the weight of my confidence upon… And after this discovery, I’ve found many verses in the Psalms that provide great comfort when translated this way. For instance, I have trusted in [leaned on, placed confidence in] your lovingkindness [Psalm 13:5].

So I may say: That lovingkindness which has loved me with an everlasting love, which forgives and cleanses and will never tire of me – that lovingkindness, Lord, I lean on.

We know that this is not objectionable to the Lord, that He in fact welcomes it. As David sang: “The Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who [leans on] Him” [Psalm 32:10].

Doesn’t this tell us something about the love of God – and isn’t it just like Him to let us know that He wants us to lean on, not only His lovingkindness, but His very self? Consider these words, which will further open your understanding:

Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples whom Jesus loved [John 13:23].

Whoso leaneth on the Lord, happy is he [Proverbs 16:20].

He is indeed happy with us!

Now see what happens when we lean on Him:

Cause me to hear…for on Thee do I lean [Psalm 143:8].

It was when John was leaning that He heard the Lord’s answer to the question that troubled others.

And this wonderful promise, so often repeated:

What time I am afraid, I will lean on Thee [Psalm 56:3].

I will lean, and not be afraid [Isaiah 12:2].

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace… because he leans on Thee… lean on the Lord forever: for the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength [Isaiah 26:3].

It is marvelous to me that God’s Spirit led the writers of these words to the same special verb, to lean. By one simple word, He means to show us so clearly that it is never anything in us that accounts for the Lord’s goodness to us. Everything we are is given from Him.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart leans on Him and I am helped. Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song will I praise Him! [Psalm 28:7]

May the Lord of love make this word of His to be “like a firm grasp of the hand” to you today.


My Father, you welcome me into your presence – and that’s a wonder in itself. More than I can imagine. Then you invite me to lean against you…and a bolt of self-reliance in me resists.

But I want to trust you. To relax the weight of my fears and anxieties against you. To rest, to know how fully trustworthy you are. Help me, Father.

I reach for your hand, feel your firm grip…and I lean my weight against you now.