Thursday, November 30, 2006

Could it be that God is here, now?

Could it be that God would share this sojourn with us?
Could it be that He would descend to our level,
To share our place, our human disgrace?

Could it be that He would descend into our valleys
Very Light of very Light, now stooping to our darkness
To inhere our very shadow with His holy shine?

Could it be that God not only has a Name, but that He
Knows our very name, holding it in promise on a white stone –
Our secret name, of destiny, blessing from shame?

Could it be that God not only knows what we are going through,
But that He has also shared it with us, and carries us even now,
To holy morn, though all we may see is gathering gloom?

Could it be that Light has come, through a blessed Son,
That the path we journey now, through darkness, is the chosen,
Holy path to destined light – high beauty on the way?


Click here to play Joan Osborne's confessional, "God with us."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A flight into the sun

Earlier tonight I caught this glimpse of the sunset behind the trees, and just loved its interplay of light and converging lines -- and the high trail into the sun! Notice how the rays of the sunlight brighten the trail in the distance -- light still shining over the curve of the earth!

Still let me prove thy perfect will

O thou who camest from above
Words: Charles Wesley, 1762
Tune: Hereford

O thou who camest from above
the fire celestial to impart,
kindle a flame of sacred love
on the mean altar of my heart.

There let it for thy glory burn
with inextinguishable blaze,
and trembling to its source return
in humble prayer and fervent praise.

Jesus, confirm my heart's desire
to work and speak and think for thee;
still let me guard the holy fire
and still stir up the gift in me.

Still let me prove thy perfect will,
my acts of faith and love repeat,
till death thy endless mercies seal,
and make the sacrifice complete!


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Amber sunset on grass and oak

Walking out of the woods at sunset, I snapped this pic of a special spot -- a place that Dad loved, the last place he spent time in nature before he passed away. The beauty is still here!

To us may grace be given to follow in His train

The Son of God goes forth to war
Words: Reginald Heber, 1827
Tune: All Saints New

The Son of God goes forth to war,
a kingly crown to gain;
His blood red banner streams afar:
who follows in His train?
Who best can drink His cup of woe,
triumphant over pain,
who patient bears his cross below,
he follows in His train.

That martyr first, whose eagle eye
could pierce beyond the grave;
who saw his Master in the sky,
and called on Him to save.
Like him, with pardon on his tongue,
in midst of mortal pain,
he prayed for them that did the wrong:
who follows in his train?

A glorious band, the chosen few
on whom the Spirit came;
twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew,
and mocked the cross and flame.
They met the tyrant's brandished steel,
the lion's gory mane;
they bowed their heads the death to feel:
who follows in their train?

A noble army, men and boys,
the matron and the maid,
around the Savior's throne rejoice,
in robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of heaven,
through peril, toil and pain;
O God, to us may grace be given,
to follow in their train!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A gift of hope

A gift of hope begins with you! Your prayers, your thoughts, your gifts make a difference.

Click on the picture and follow the links -- here is a chance for everyone to support, each of us doing what we can, at our own level.

See the fragile hope in the eyes of these girls, and don't let that hope die!

Be a hopegiver today!

A painted November sky

I just love the cloud shows at the end of rainy days! It's worth the effort to wait the rain, and see the sun break through on the other end, in rainbows or painted clouds. Here, after an overcast, wet day -- a pastel palette of glory! :-)

Here I am reminded of the JMT song, "Empty Canvas," where a canvas waits in the gallery of the Master Painter, destined to be hung there, completed, a work of art!

Jesus is the Master painter,
and the Holy Spirit is the Master’s brush…
to be dipped in the colors that portray the Father’s love,
that the canvas of our life might know the Master's touch...
to portray the beauty of the Master's brush!

And the song ends with this phrase,

So an empty canvas waits before the Painter
an empty canvas destined to be hung
within the gallery once it has been created
will the canvas bear the beauty of the Son!

Speaking from the framework of the canvas, as a human desiring to be His handiwork, sometimes the entire struggle is just to remain "empty canvas" before the Painter, during the long, dreary days! Surely the rain can work no good! And the painted sky cannot be seen through the storm! So we, as willed canvas, doubt the Master's touch... can it be, this day, for good, for beauty?

But there, at end of day, is His promise writ large for the morn -- "Son, daughter, joy comes in the morning!" Alleluia!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dr. Sam Thomas: A man of courage and steel

Hebrews 11:35-40 Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated — the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

A life of light and glory

How would you feel if separated from your wife or husband for 11 months? And, what if you could end this separation by selling out just a bit of your calling? Would you remain at your post, true to your high calling in Christ…? Or would you sprinkle just a small sacrifice on the Emperor’s altar? Just a tiny pinch of incense – it’s nothing really! – and you are free to go! Free to travel anywhere you please, free to take your ease, like the rest of the world...

This is no theoretical question. It is the stuff of real life.

Dr. Sam Thomas has paid this kind of price this year, forced into false imprisonment and lonely separation from his wife and children. His “great crime” is the loving care of outcast orphans in Rajasthan, India. There, militant Hindu authorities have made Sam’s life a living hell this year, trying to force him into death or quitting, casting the rescued orphans to the wind…

And, his wife Shelley has lived this torture with him, separated by thousands of miles, continuing the ministry and raising their children, in faith, alone…

And people don’t understand why he stays, why he toughs it out, giving his life for the care of Indian orphans. Even “good Christians” fault him for staying…

I thought of Sam as I watched part of a series called “Walk as Jesus Walked.” In one scene, modern Christians traveled into caves where Christians once lived. They went deeper and deeper into the earth until they were twenty stories underground. 20 stories! And there, deep in the earth, they entered a little chapel, a chapel with a cross carved into its entrance…a cross etched deep by thousands upon thousands of Christians across the years, persecuted believers who felt the cross on the wall as they entered to pray and sit in darkness…twenty stories underground, without light, without hope of day, without the safety of home or comfortable toiletries…in darkness, praying to the Light of life.

For what?

For nothing other than the call of Christ.

All they would have to do to be free is just walk back up, up the twenty stories, out into the light and air, walk over to an altar, and toss a pinch of incense on the small flame, confessing Caesar as lord. And that’s it! Now you are free to live in comfort, free to travel, free to go as you please – all this for just a small, very small, sell out…over in a moment! And oh! how much better you feel!

But they stayed there, deep in caves in the earth, in prisons, wrapped in chains, lives counted as naught for the sake of the call…willingly suffering so that we might inherit the richness of faith, vital life, passed down in blood, for sake of truth.

...of whom the world was not worthy.

Sam Thomas stands in that line. His life is on the line, right now, for the sake of the call. Sam is one of the thousands of Christians being persecuted as we speak, for the sake of faith.

And he could escape it all for just a small, very small, sell out! over in a moment’s time…

But he stays!

I think of Sam, and I think of the others, both now and then, who give their all for faith…and then I think of what modern Christians have made faith into…and my head bows low.

I think of what we call Christian success – gleaming megacenters filled with Christianized self-help messages, endless streams of self-actualization offers… I think of how we have defined the will of God – as something easy, as something that must accord with social expectation, as something that gives instant returns…as something all about “open doors” and “good choices” made in line with others who buy the same line….

I think of this cultural Christianity in light of Christ's higher call, and I can only bow my head, and confess my lack. I pray with Isaiah, “Lord, I am a man of unclean lips and I live among people of unclean lips. Please help me!”

Christians have faulted Sam Thomas for staying, as if he is missing the will of God because of the discomfort, because of the separation from family. One Hindu police officer asked Sam, “Why do you want to continue in this work? Why not go and live a comfortable life in USA? Why not sell all the property?” And to this Sam could only reply, “Because of all that God has done for me, I must serve Him more!” For Sam, it is about the call – the utter reality of seeing Christ’s intent face to face, and living in that light.

Every life that Sam touches, every orphan he saves, is an infinite blessing. Every day that Sam’s wife Shelley quietly prays, raising her children in hope, is a day of unending light. For these the world was made, these who live the Image of God, the intent of Creator in creation!

And we, we who live in comfort, can we do any less than support this call, with our all?

So then, let us live our own high calling – giving up the necessary cultural falsehoods, so that we can answer in light to the God of Light: Yes, I lived that intent for which I was made, my Lord and God!

Thank you, Sam and Shelley, for showing us, in current terms, what it means to live the call.

May we follow this light, in sacrifice, to our destiny!


Note: Please consider a gift today for Hopegivers orphanage. And with your gift, please consider a five-minute prayer! Many thanks, this day...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A picturesque field under a stormy sky

Another county was dealing with tornado warnings, yet here the weather only created stunning cloud formations and intermittent rain. Here a November field is made beautiful by the high clounds, blending light and dark in artistic brush!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A mountain creek in November sunlight

Afternoon sunlight splashes light and shadow on a mountain creek, crowned in hardwoods. Oh, the glory of a late autumn day, Indian Summer order, eagle's flight! :-)

You can refuse the spirit of fear

If God is for us, who can be against us?

I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31, 37-39

Infectious fear

Amy Carmichael

Have you ever thought how infectious fear can be? It spreads from one person to another more quickly and certainly than any of the fevers we know so well.

You can refuse the spirit of fear, which never comes to us from God. [And if He does not send it to us, who does?] Instead, open your heart wide to the Spirit of “power and love and a calm and well-balanced mind, and discipline and self-control.” Because fear is so infectious, let us, for the sake of others and ourselves, refuse it.

Thank God…! Courage is as “infectious” as discouragement. Haven’t you often felt the cheer and strength that seem to flow from a person whose mind is fixed and firm on God? I have.

And I have been thinking of another, greater reason for rejecting fear.

When we are downhearted or fearful or weak, we are saying to everybody [by the way we look and by our timidity, if not by our words], “After all, the Lord can’t be absolutely trusted.”

Somewhere near us, though we do not see them, are others: Men and women who we can see; and also good angels and evil spirits we cannot see. To all of these, when we give into fear, we say the same dishonoring thing.

We have a Savior who has never once failed us. He will never fail us. He has loved and led and guarded us all these years.

Look to Him now, and pray from the barren bedrock of your heart, if that is the ground you are standing on – “Lord, give me courage!”

God finds it hard to give, because He would give the best

Let no one undervalue the difficulty of God

George MacDonald

Let no soul think that to say God undertook a hard labor in willing that many sons and daughters should be sharers of the divine nature, is to abate His glory!

The greater the difficulty, the greater is the glory of Him who does the thing He has undertaken — without shadow of compromise, with no half-success, but with a triumph of absolute satisfaction to innumerable radiant souls! He knew what it would cost! — not energy of will alone, or merely that utterance and separation from himself which is but the first of creation, though that may well itself be pain — but sore suffering such as we cannot imagine, and could only be God’s, in the bringing out, call it birth or development, of the God-life in the individual soul — a suffering still renewed, a labor thwarted ever by that soul itself, compelling Him to take, still at the cost of suffering, the not absolutely best, only the best possible means left him by the resistance of His creature.

Humans find it hard to get what they want, because they do not want the best; God finds it hard to give, because He would give the best, and humans will not take it.

His wounds bring sons and daughters to glory

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
the Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to Glory!


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A road of hard work for the true self

A destiny to gain, only by selling all for the true calling

When nothing seems to help, I go and look at the stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it – but all that had gone before.

Jacob Riis

Nothing can resist the human will which will stake even its existence on the extent of its purpose.

Benjamin Disraeli

The possibility that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause which we believe to be just.

Abraham Lincoln

A life not tested is not worth living.


The world can use these words, I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes, every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes, people believe in little or nothing, and yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. And then it's gone. But to surrender what you are and live without belief is more terrible than dying, even more terrible than dying young.

Joan of Arc

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A postcard from Pennsylvania

November glory -- morning chill in the air, occasional flurries of picturesque snow, mighty Orion shining in the night sky, browning leaves on beckoning trees, purple gloaming over the horizoned hills, fighting whitetail buck deer, the call of the wild!

This picture images that call: afternoon sun burnishing the trees and grass, towering grey-blue clouds flung high by the wind, window to distant light, woodline calling across waving fields...

For those of you who can't be here, here is a little taste of the late autumn majesty... A special, wild beauty of November in Pennsylvania! :-)

Mine is an unchanging love

Hark, my soul, it is the Lord!

Words: William Cowper, 1768
Tune: St. Bees

Hark, my soul, it is the Lord!
'Tis thy Savior, hear His Word;
Jesus speaks, and speaks to thee,
"Say, poor sinner, lovest thou Me?"

"I delivered thee when bound,
and, when bleeding, healed thy wound;
sought thee wandering, set thee right,
turned thy darkness into light.

"Can a woman's tender care
cease toward the child she bare?
Yes, she may forgetful be,
yet will I remember thee.

"Mine is an unchanging love,
higher than the heights above,
deeper than the depths beneath,
free and faithful, strong as death.

"Thou shalt see My glory soon,
when the work of grace is done;
partner of My throne shalt be:
say, poor sinner, lovest thou Me?"

Lord, it is my chief complaint
that my love is weak and faint;
yet I love thee, and adore:
O for grace to love thee more!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A railway in autumn

Autumn Pennsylvania railway -- track light red, sky grey, rails free!

Here is proof of just how far I'll go to capture artistic shots, lol. Here is a railroad crossing, looking down the tracks, track light red, sky grey, iron rails converging, flowing into the distance, sentinel trees muted brown and bare!

Tell the praise of Him who called you

Ye that know the Lord is gracious

Words: Cyril A. Alington (1872-1955);
Tune: Hyfrydol, Abbot's Leigh, Rustington

Ye that know the Lord is gracious,
ye for whom a cornerstone
stands, of God elect and precious,
laid that ye may build thereon,
see that on that sure foundation
ye a living temple raise,
towers that may tell forth salvation,
walls that may re-echo praise.

Living stones, by God appointed
each to its allotted place,
kings and priests, by God anointed,
shall ye not declare His grace?
Ye, a royal generation,
tell the tidings of your birth,
tidings of a new creation
to an old and weary earth.

Tell the praise of Him who called you
out of darkness into light,
broke the fetters that enthralled you,
gave you freedom, peace and sight:
tell the tale of sins forgiven,
strength renewed and hope restored,
till the earth, in tune with heaven,
praise and magnify the Lord.