Friday, December 28, 2007
Here's a neat snapshot of Old Florida, with trees in their natural state, very close to what you might have seen a hundred years ago, if you crossed south-central Florida on horseback in December... enjoy!
Coming out of Palm Gardens Mall at twilight, the majestic palms made a striking scene against the bluescale sky and clouds... so I ran to my truck and grabbed my camera -- and here's the scene. Enjoy!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
A Christmas carol by Ben Jonson
I sing the birth was born tonight,
The Author both of life and light:
The angels so did sound it,
The angels so did sound it, so did sound it;
The like the ravished shepherds said,
Who saw the light and were afraid,
Yet searched, and true they found it,
Yet searched, and true they found it,
True they found it, and true they found it.
The Son of God, the eternal King,
That did us all salvation bring,
And freed the world from danger,
And freed the world from danger, freed from danger,
He whom the whole world could not take,
The Word which heaven and earth did make,
Was now laid in a manger,
Was now laid in a manger
In a manger, laid in a manger.
What comfort do we by Him win,
Who made Himself the price of sin,
To make us heirs of glory!
To make us heirs of glory, heirs of glory!
To see this Babe, all innocence,
A Martyrs born in our defense--
Can man forget the story,
Can man forget,
Can man forget the story,
Forget the story?
Can man forget the story?
Monday, December 24, 2007
Merry Christmas one and all! Here's a pic of my mother's tree... a great tribute to Christmas! Hopefully the warmth of this scene will lighten your heart with the peace of Christ this holy day... as this tree is evergreen, so may your heart find rest in the ever grace of God, made known in Jesus! The arms of God are open to you this season, thus does this tree witness... Alleluia!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Just in case I needed proof that I'm no longer in PA, this psychedelic bug floated across my radar on Saturday... hot pink, with flowers and hearts and a hood feline, and Mexican plates! quite the love machine, lol... you're not in Kansas anymore, Toto! lol. Enjoy!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Tune: Lobt Gott
He comes to us as one unknown,
a breath unseen, unheard;
as though within a heart of stone,
or shriveled seed in darkness sown,
a pulse of being stirred.
He comes when souls in silence lie
and thoughts of day depart,
half-seen upon the inward eye,
a falling star across the sky
of night within the heart.
He comes to us in sound of seas,
the ocean's fume and foam;
yet small and still upon the breeze,
a wind that stirs the tops of trees,
a voice to call us home.
He comes in love as once he came
by flesh and blood and birth;
to bear within our mortal frame
a life, a death, a saving name
for every child of earth.
He comes in truth when faith is grown;
believed, obeyed, adored:
the Christ in all the scriptures shown,
as yet unseen, but not unknown,
our Savior, and our Lord.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Can anyone guess my noble contribution to the decorations? :-)
Every angle of mom's place is filled with Christmas goodness. Here's another angle, closeup, of the same scene... just click to enlarge. Enjoy!
p.s. Even the inside of the church is lit... as if to say, Merry Christmas! :-)
Words: Christian Hymnbook, 1865, as alt. in The Hymnal 1982.
Tune: This Endris Nyght
"I come," the great Redeemer cries,
"To do thy will, O Lord!"
At Jordan's stream, behold!
He seals the sure prophetic word.
"Thus it becomes to fulfill
all righteousness," He said.
Then, faithful to the Lord's commands,
through Jordan's flood was led.
Hark, a glad voice! The Father speaks
from heaven's exalted height:
"This is my Son, my well-beloved
in whom I take delight."
The Savior Jesus, well-beloved!
His Name we will profess,
like Him desirous to fulfill
God's will in righteousness.
No more we'll count ourselves our own
but His in bonds of love.
Oh, may such bonds for ever draw
our souls to things above!
Monday, December 10, 2007
Here's a shot of New River gorge in the gloaming... notice the train snaking through the bottom of the gorge -- it will give some perspective of the height and depth: no, it's not a toy train! :-)
Friday, December 07, 2007
coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
pervading and permeating all creation,
you order all things with strength and gentleness.
Come now and teach us the way to salvation.
Come Lord Jesus!
Ruler of the house of Israel,
you appeared in the burning bush to Moses
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come with outstretched arm to save us:
Come Lord Jesus!
O Root of Jesse,
rising as a sign for all the peoples,
before you earthly rulers will keep silent
and nations give you honor:
Come quickly to deliver us.
Come Lord Jesus!
O Key of David,
Scepter over the house of Israel,
you open and no one can close;
you close and no one can open:
Come to set free the prisoners
who live in darkness and the shadow of death.
Come Lord Jesus!
O Ruler of the nations,
Monarch for whom the people long,
you are the Cornerstone uniting all humanity:
Come save us all, whom you formed out of clay.
Come Lord Jesus!
our Sovereign and Lawgiver,
you are the desire of all the nations and Savior of all:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.
Come Lord Jesus!
God of grace,
Ever faithful to your promises,
The earth rejoices in hope of our Savior’s coming
And looks forward with longing
To His return at the end of time.
Prepare our hearts to receive Him when He cmes,
For He is Lord forever and ever. Amen.
“Litany of Advent: O Antiphons,” Book of Common Worship, 167.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
According to a new study published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, young women had an abortion before having a child are at the greatest risk for developing breast cancer.
The British researchers state that ‘having an abortion raises a woman’s risk of breast cancer by at least 30 percent, and is fueling an epidemic of the often fatal disease.’
The study’s lead author Patrick Carroll calls abortion the "single best predictor" of breast cancer trends.
“An abortion in a young woman who has never had a child has a carcinogenic effect because it leaves breast cells in a state of interrupted hormonal development in which they are more susceptible…”
Read the whole thing here – also note the comments from Dr. Jane Orient, quality stuff. Here is earthshaking research, pure math at work, helping women and serving life.
It has never been truer to say: Women deserve better than abortion!
Monday, November 26, 2007
My mother expresses her artistry in crafts and cooking... and Christmas decorations! In Advent and Christmas, the house is a winter wonderland of love. And, don't worry, I'll share! :-) Enjoy!
Friday, November 23, 2007
Tune: Mount Sion
O 'twas a joyful sound to hear
our tribes devoutly say,
up, Israel! to the temple haste,
and keep your festal day.
at Salem's courts we must appear,
with our assembled powers,
in strong and beauteous order ranged,
like her united towers.
O ever pray for Salem's peace;
for they shall prosperous be,
thou holy city of our God,
who bear true love to thee.
May peace within thy sacred walls
a constant guest be found;
with plenty and prosperity
thy palaces be crowned.
For my dear brethren's sake, and friends
no less than brethren dear,
I'll pray: May peace in Salem's towers
a constant guest appear.
But most of all I'll seek thy good,
and ever wish thee well,
for Zion and the temple's sake,
where God vouchsafes to dwell!
A song from Psalm 122, written in the 17th century, still apt today... blessings be upon Jerusalem and all who love her truly!
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. John 3:19
I therefore go on to say that it does not follow, because light has come into the world, that it has fallen upon this or that man. He has his portion of light that lighteth every person, but the revelation of God in Christ may not have reached him.
…Everyone who has not yet come to the light is not necessarily keeping his face turned away from it.
We dare not say that this or that man would not have come to the light had he seen it. We do not know that he will not come to the light the moment he does see it.
God gives every man time. There is a light that lightens sage and savage, but the glory of God in the face of Christ may not have shined on this particular sage or that particular savage. The condemnation falls, rather, on those who having seen Jesus, refuse to come to Him, or pretend to come to Him but do not the things that He says. They have all sorts of excuses at hand. But as soon as a man begins to make excuse, the time has come when he might be doing that from which he excuses himself.
How many are there, who, believing that there is somewhat or something of this claim of light upon them, go on and on to get more out of the darkness! This consciousness, all neglected by them, gives ground to the Lord’s words: You will not come unto me that you might have life!
George MacDonald, “Light,” Unspoken Sermons, Third series.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Surely God is the ultimate painter -- real or surreal, abstract or primitive, impressionistic or expressionistic: all earthly masters learn from Him... acknowledged or unacknowledged, the proof is in nature's glory! Here, late autumn trees lean out over a November stream, forming a layered painting on liquid canvas... the floating leaves add dimension and texture and the sky adds its background hue... masterpiece of the moment, undeniable clue of Creator! Enjoy!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Words: Cyril A. Alington
Tune: St. Audrey
Lord of beauty, thine the splendor
shown in earth and sky and sea,
burning sun and moonlight tender,
hill and river, flower and tree:
lest we fail our praise to render
touch our eyes that they may see.
Lord of wisdom, whom obeying
mighty waters ebb and flow,
while unhasting, undelaying,
planets on their courses go:
in thy laws thyself displaying,
teach our minds thyself to know.
Lord of life, alone sustaining
all below and all above,
Lord of love, by whose ordaining
sun and stars sublimely move:
in our earthly spirits reigning,
lift our hearts that we may love.
Lord of beauty, bid us own thee,
Lord of truth, our footsteps guide,
till as Love our hearts enthrone thee,
and, with vision purified,
Lord of all, when all have known thee,
thou in all art glorified!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
How does the Divine Artist paint? What brush does He use, and what palette? And how does He turn the seasons into a symphony of praise -- grass, leaves and sky, meeting of light and shadow, dark blue and purple, rusty orange, pink and red? Starlight, moonlight, human lights... all are called to praise in such a time as this, all masterfully brushed on the canvas by the Author of all true art! Enjoy!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
A gift from Kenton and Sonya Shaw – a fun gift with a serious point!
And, accompanied by an epic poem, no less... :-)
Read the poem below to get the point, and smile and ponder! :-)
Prologue: A life-foundation of praise
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand... Psalm 149:6
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel... Psalm 22:3
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. Hebrews 13:15
By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother's womb. My praise shall be continually of You. Psalm 71:6
I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1
When someone moves from God’s country
To a deep and southern state
What is going to protect him?
And what will be his fate?
When Loy goes out in his backyard
To entertain some youth
Will it be hot dogs and burgers?
Or gators on the loose?
Well, if that should really happen
It would ruin all the fun
So here’s a “Ballistic Pistol”
To put them on the run.
If you would fail at all of this
And the snakes and gators prevail,
Remember what Sonya told you:
“Praise God,” that never fails!
So “whatever” may distress you
And try you o’er and o’er,
You’re going to end up on the top
By praising more and more.
But, laying all the jokes aside
And looking at what’s true
While you go out and follow God
We’ll miss and pray for you!!
Carefully and prayerfully written by Your friends, Kenton and Sonya Shaw
Loy’s note: Wow! I’m impressed and humbled… thank you so much, G.K. and Sonya – very well received and greatly appreciated. Thank you and God bless you! Please keep me in your prayers…
Sunday, November 11, 2007
How does one say thank you to someone who has given of that which no words can touch? And yet, I will say thank you! Thank you to all who have faithfully served, willing to go beyond mere self-definition in honor of a higher cause. God bless you... may you always know the rewards of being ever faithful! Happy Veterans Day!
Friday, November 09, 2007
I love it when the autumn mists come calling and evening light brushes the color-tinted hills! Every day is another moment of artistry, October to November... and then we have Advent! Perhaps it is no surprise that autumn is my favorite season and Christmas my favorite holiday, lol... Enjoy the beauty, and smile with me today!
Thursday, November 08, 2007
“Come here,” said the Lion. And she had to. She was almost between its paws now, looking straight into its face. But she couldn’t stand that for long; she dropped her eyes.
“Human Child,” said the Lion, “Where is the Boy?”
“He fell over the cliff,” said Jill, and added, “Sir.” She didn’t know what else to call him, and it sounded cheek to call him nothing.
“How did he come to do that, Human Child?”
“He was trying to stop me from falling, Sir.”
“Why were you so near the edge, Human Child?”
“I was showing off, Sir.”
“That is a very good answer, Human Child. Do so no more (and here, for the first time, the Lion’s face became a little less stern) “The Boy is safe. I have blown him to Narnia. But your task will be harder because of what you have done.”
“Please, what task, Sir?” said Jill.
“The task for which I called you and him here, out of your own world.”
This puzzled Jill very much. “It’s mistaking me for someone else,” she thought. She didn’t dare tell the Lion this, though she felt things would get into a dreadful muddle unless she did.
“Speak your thought, Human Child,” said the Lion.
“I was wondering – I mean – could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to – to Somebody – it was a name I wouldn’t know – and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did, and then we found the door open.”
“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.
“Then you are Somebody, Sir?” said Jill.
“I am,” said He. “And now hear your task…”
C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, 18-19.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Words: John Oxenham, 1924
What do I owe? Nay, Lord, what do I not?
All that I am and all that I have got.
All that I am and that how small a thing
compared with all thy goodly fostering.
What do I owe to all the world around?
To set thee first, that grace may more abound.
To set thee first, to hold thee all in all,
and, come what may, to follow thy high call.
What do I owe to this dear land of ours?
All of my best, my time, my thought, my powers.
All of my best is yet to small to give,
that this our land may to thine increase live.
What do I owe to those who follow on?
To build more sure the freedom we have won.
To build more sure the Kingdoms of thy grace,
Kingdoms secure in truth and righteousness.
What do I owe to Christ, my Lord, my King?
That all my life be one sweet offering.
That all my life to noblest heights aspire,
that all I do be touched with holy fire!
Sunday, November 04, 2007
God understands the way – seek Him!
God understands the way thereof, and He knows the place thereof. For He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heavens, to establish a weight for the wind, and apportion the waters by measure.
The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield!
Psalm 33:13-15, 18-20
O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions – this great and wide sea, in which are innumerable teeming things, living things both small and great. There the ships sail about; there is that Leviathan which You have made to play there. These all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season. What You give them they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good. You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth.
May the glory of the LORD endure forever; May the LORD rejoice in His works. He looks on the earth, and it trembles; He touches the hills, and they smoke. I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the LORD!
Seek Him that made the Pleiades and Orion; He turns the shadow of death into morning and makes the day dark as night; He calls forth the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth; The LORD is His name!
Words: Miles Coverdale (1487-1568)
Tune: Ich ruf zu dir
I call on thee, Lord Jesus Christ,
I have none other help but thee.
My heart is never set at rest
till thy sweet words have comforted me.
And steadfast faith grant me therefore,
to hold by thy word evermore,
above all things,
but to increase in faith more and more.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Mark 6:56, KJV
Just His touch…
Many of us try to have a regular quiet time. As we do so, may each of us touch at least the hem of His garment and receive wholeness in the matter for which we seek Him.
One knows when this has occurred. It is a day when something happens that is different from just reading our Bible or devotional book, or even just praying and asking for the thing.
We touch Him, and all is changed.
What happens? And who can tell how it happens?
We only know that something has passed from Him to us:
- Courage to do the difficult task we feared.
- Patience to bear with that one particular trying person.
- Inner strength to go on when we were sure we could not.
- A sweet freshness in our spirit, inner contentment, deep flowing peace.
God’s way of passing by, of letting His hem come near us, is to take some single word in His Book and make it breathe spirit and life to us. Then, relying upon that word – meditating, feeding our soul upon it – we find it is suddenly possible to go from strength to strength.
True, there is always some new, even daily challenge in our lives which calls for revitalized faith. And we can choose to go on with God. But He always passes by. There is always the word waiting in His Book, which will meet us where we are and carry us further on. True, it will be a fight to the end – Paul calls it the “good fight of faith” [1 Timothy 6:12]. But full provision is made for victory in that fight.
And so, whether the struggle that engages us has to do with our inner life, or our outward circumstances, there is nothing to fear: “For your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” [Luke 12:32].
We need never, and by His grace shall never, be defeated!
My Father, I believe I see it now. I always want you to do something for me [or at least to clear the way, so I can do it for myself]. And you want to do something in me.
Now I see that you want to come with your word and your powerful Spirit, and splice them together with my words and spirit.
I have wanted answers. You want us to become one… Thank you, for your unending patience with me.
Amy Carmichael, Thou Givest – They Gather, 4-5.
But yet if the distressed trembling soul who is afraid of justice, would fly to Christ, He would be a safe hiding-place. Justice and the threatening of the law will have their course as fully, while the trembling soul is safe and untouched – just as if he or she had borne eternal justice. Christ bears the stroke of justice, and the curse of the law falls fully upon Him; Christ bears all that vengeance that belongs to the sin that has been committed by that person, and there is no need of its being borne twice over.
Christ’s temporal sufferings, by reason of the infinite dignity of His person, are fully equivalent to the eternal sufferings of a mere creature. And then His sufferings answer for the one who flees to Him as well as if they were that sinner’s own, for indeed they are his or her own by virtue of the union between Christ and them. Christ has made himself one with them; He is the head, and they are the members. Therefore, if Christ suffers for the believer, there is no need of his suffering; and what needs she to be afraid? Their safety is not only consistent with absolute justice, but it is consistent with the tenor of the law. The law leaves fair room for such a thing as the answering of a surety.
If the end of punishment in maintaining the authority of the law and the majesty of the government is fully secured by the sufferings of Christ as surety, then the law of God, according to the true and fair interpretation of it, has its course as much in the sufferings of Christ, as it would have in the sinner’s own sufferings. The threatening, “thou shalt surely die,” is properly fulfilled in the death of Christ, as it is fairly to be understood.
Therefore if those who are afraid will go to Jesus Christ, they need to fear nothing from the threatening of the law. The threatening of the law has nothing to do with them!
Jonathan Edwards, “Safety, Fullness, and Sweet Refreshment in Christ,” a sermon from Isaiah 32:2.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
When a man has filled his mouth so full of food that for this reason he cannot eat and it must end with his dying of hunger [or eating himself to death], does giving food to him consist in stuffing his mouth even more or, instead, in taking a little away so that he can eat? Similarly, when a man is very knowledgeable but his knowledge is meaningless or virtually meaningless to him, does sensible communication consist in giving him more to know...or does it consist, instead, in taking something away from him? When a communicator takes a portion of the copious knowledge that the very knowledgeable man knows and communicates it to him in a form that makes it strange to him, the communicator is, as it were, taking away his knowledge, at least until the knower manages to assimilate the knowledge by overcoming the resistance of form.
Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments
Note: consider this prophetic insight in an age when all people, even the most dull of mind, have non-stop information -- a culture gorged on electronic info 24/7 and yet still so illiterate and non-seeing in spirit...
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Ever feel like you are walking along, just enjoying the stroll... beautiful day, sunlight and brisk air... then wham! out of nowhere, you flop into cold water? lol. If so, take courage -- you are not alone! Click on the pic to enjoy the show, and share a surprising laugh, lol. :-)
Love does not inquire into the character of the recipient but it asks what the beloved needs. It does not love the other because that one is such-and-such a person but because s/he exists. In all this it is quite the opposite of natural love: it “does not seek its own.” It does not perform the characteristic natural impulse of love and life. Therefore it is basically independent of the conduct of the other person; it is not conditional but absolute. It wants nothing for itself but only for others. Therefore it is also not vulnerable. It never “reacts” but is always “spontaneous,” emerging by its own strength – rather, from the power of God. Love is the real God-likeness of man for which he has been created. In so far as love is in man he really resembles God and shows himself to be the child of God.
A quote from Emil Brunner
Monday, October 29, 2007
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
“Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His compassion?”
I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.
“Will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them? I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily.”
Wait for the Lord, and He will deliver you.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in His way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
“You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord.”
Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
Lam. 3:26; Ps. 77:9; Ps. 32:22; Luke 18:7, 8; Prov. 20:22; Ps. 37:7; 2 Chron. 20:17; Gal. 6:9; Jas. 5:7
[The] so-called five points of Calvinism were defined in controversy, and the titles are not an accurate indication of their meaning. Total depravity did not mean that human beings are totally evil; it meant that human beings are corrupt in every dimension of their existence and at the critical point of existence – namely, turning to God – they were totally unable to do so. Irresistible grace did not mean that grace could not be resisted, for grace is frequently, if not always, resisted. It did mean that God’s grace cannot be thwarted. Limited atonement did not mean for the majority of Calvinists that Christ died only for a select few people; the atonement is adequate for all people. It did mean that it was efficacious only for the elect or for believers. Unconditional election did not mean that salvation is by an arbitrary decree; it meant that God redeems us not because we deserve to be redeemed or because of anything we do but only out of His free love. The perseverance of the saints meant not so much that the saints persevere, as that God’s grace perseveres and brings the work of salvation to its completion.
The theological controversies of the medieval church as well as subsequent theological efforts have demonstrated that the problems of God’s grace and human freedom cannot be resolved by dividing up the work. Salvation is not partly the work of God and partly the work of human beings. It is not that God begins what humans may complete, or completes what human beings have already begun. The best solution seems to be to affirm that salvation from one perspective is completely the work of God. From another perspective – that is, the historical and psychological – it is completely the work of human beings.
John H. Leith, “The Prevenience of Grace,” Basic Christian Doctrine, 233.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Here's an example of October scenery this year -- the colors aren't as brilliant as in some years, but the beauty is still evident... just another area on the divine palette, still opening to sun and sky in natural painting! Enjoy!
Monday, October 22, 2007
WOULD IT MATTER?
Her thoughts said, “My work is not important. Would it matter very much if a floor were left unswept or room left untidied? Or if I forgot to put flowers out for a guest, or omitted some tiny unimportant courtesy?
Her Father said,
“Would it have mattered very much if a few people had been left without wine at a feast? But thy Lord turned water into wine for them.”
And the daughter remembered the words, Jesus took a towel.
SOME CROPS MUST BE HANDPICKED
Her thoughts said, “When I hear of wonderful things done elsewhere I am glad, and yet with the gladness is an unsettledness of mind. There is a strange allure in all I hear. There are days when I fly from the place where I am to the place where souls are flocking to Thee. There is a wavering in me which I do not understand.”
Her Father said,
“Thy wavering is a temptation. Many have known it. Thy times are in My hand. Thy time today is in My hand. Would I waste My servant’s time? Remember Thy Lord’s hour by the well. He who sent thee is with thee. Not all fields are reaped with the sickle. Some crops must be handpicked.”
Her thoughts said, “My longing is to heal the broken and the weak, to defend the maimed, and to lead the blind into sight of the glory of the Lord. My choice is to be a corn of wheat and fall into the ground and die. Then why these waverings?
Her Father said,
“Too much of thy surface is exposed to the breath of every wind that bloweth. Thou must learn to dwell deep.”
And the daughter who wavered answered humbly, “Renew within me a settled spirit. Establish me with Thy directing Spirit. My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed on Thee. I will sing and give praise.”
I AM THE GOD OF THY EXPECTATION AND HOPE
Her thoughts said, “It is too much to hope that one such as I should truly please my Lord.”
Her Father said,
“But it is written, ‘It is God which worketh in you both to will and do of His good pleasure.’ In My servant Paul I wrought an earnest expectation and a hope, that in nothing he should be ashamed, but that always Christ should be magnified in his body. I am the God of thy expectation and hope.”
Dear God of my expectation and hope, teach me to serve you today with gladness. In the small things and in the great things, may I be to you as your choicest servants who heard your word and obeyed in joy. May I be to you today as Mary, who said in utter faith, "I am the Lord's handmaiden. May it be to me as You have said!"
Today, Father, I claim the promise that my soul will be satisfied in your presence, as with the richest of foods. Today I will sing to you, in faith, as if the promise has already arrived!
Thank you that you are working in me -- this day -- both to will and do your good pleasure. I wait for you and give you my praise! In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Note: More thoughts from the private conversation 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 glimpse into that prayer life. May it bless you today!
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Words: Marnie Barrell
Raised on the cross, He draws us to His side
the son of Mary claims His destiny.
Alone, in pain, as one of us He died,
His darkest hour His greatest victory.
Raised from the tomb, He draws us to His side
the son of God calls us to trust His way.
In Him we live, transformed and glorified,
God's new creation born on Easter day.
Raised up to God, He draws us to His side
the Lord of earth and heaven takes His place,
the path of life eternal opened wide;
with Him forever we shall see God's face!
Friday, October 19, 2007
Today was one of those rare October days where the light and air and sun and shadow all mix together on a divine palette, creating stunning displays of color and sky... nature's glory! I was blessed with a 17 mile bike ride in this autumn glory... and here is a neat scene from my day [one of a hundred, a beauty-filled path through hardwoods and glades, hills and streams!]. Enjoy!
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE BAPTIZED
Now to be baptized in the name of Christ is to be enrolled, entered, and received into the covenant and family, and so into the inheritance of the sons and daughters of God; yes, and in this life to be called after the name of God; that is to say, to be called a child of God; to be cleansed also from the filthiness of sins, and to be granted the manifold grace of God, in order to lead a new and innocent life. Baptism, therefore, calls to mind and renews the great favor God has shown to the race of mortal humans. For we are all born in the pollution of sin and are the children of wrath. But God, who is rich in mercy, freely cleanses us from our sins by the blood of His Son, and in Him rebirths us to be His sons and daughters, and by a holy covenant joins us to himself, and enriches us with various gifts, that we might live a new life. All these things are assured by baptism. For inwardly we are regenerated, purified, and renewed by God through the Holy Spirit; and outwardly we receive the assurance of the greatest gifts in the water, by which also those great benefits are represented, and, as it were, set before our eyes to be beheld.
WE ARE BAPTIZED WITH WATER
And therefore we are baptized, that is, washed or sprinkled with visible water. For the water washes dirt away, and cools and refreshes hot and tired bodies. And the grace of God performs these things for souls, and does so invisibly or spiritually.
THE OBLIGATION OF BAPTISM
Moreover, God also separates us from all strange religions and peoples by the symbol of baptism, and consecrates us to himself as His property. We, therefore, confess our faith when we are baptized, and obligate ourselves to God for obedience, mortification of the flesh, and newness of life. Hence, we are enlisted in the holy military service of Christ that all our life long we should fight against the world, Satan, and our own flesh. Moreover, we are baptized into one body of the Church, that with all members of the Church we might beautifully concur in the one religion and in mutual services.Selah.
The Second Helvetic Confession, 5.187-189
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
2 Corinthians 12:9
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
by Annie J. Flint
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arms everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limit; His grace has no measure.
His pow'r has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
by Emil Brunner
Therefore, even now, man is to be understood in terms of the image of God, but as the being that is in contradiction with itself, just as it lives in contradiction to God. Contradiction is something entirely different from the absence of relationship. Even now man is entirely to be understood as God’s image – but as a perverted image; the wine of God’s love bestowed upon him has turned sour and become the vinegar of enmity with God.
Sin is faith turned upside down, and can be understood in no other way. Even so, man remains a singular being; even sin, his perversion, is something that distinguishes him from every other creature. Man is the only being that sins: this is the greatness in his misery, which in the midst of his alienation from God betrays his divine origin.
Man must be understood in terms of the contradiction between origin and fall. Precisely this, the contradiction between truth and falsehood in him, is the defining mark of current man.
It is thus that the Bible understands man… [The Bible] teaches us exactly the same things about man that we, too, must teach: that man is God’s image, but that this image is destroyed and must be renewed. Man is completely a sinner, but this sin is not a condition but a determination of his being, and as such is an act, but an act that determines man as a whole. Therefore he is the slave of his own sin, and bound in a unity with the whole of mankind in it.
A lust for autonomy that flees the healing Word of God
There is no conflict between this doctrine of origin and sin, and the scientific knowledge of our day, unless science oversteps its limits and propounds some speculation of natural philosophy – for example, materialism or determinism – as scientific teaching. In that case, however, we have no longer to do with modern science but with modern man, who conceals his lust for autonomy behind the mask of science, and seeks to exculpate himself.
All understandings of man, with the exception of the Christian one, are attempts to exculpate man, but by exculpating man, they cheapen him at the same time, by robbing him of his personal character.
Only the biblical understanding of man – the interpretation of him in terms of the Word of God that became flesh in Jesus Christ – does not exculpate him but condemns him. But in condemning, it maintains his personal character. And the Bible condemns him at the same moment it acquits him of guilt. For the same Jesus Christ, the same Word of God in whom we know ourselves as sinners, is also the One who takes this sin from us.
Emil Brunner, The Word of God and Modern Man, 45-46.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Continue to work out your salvation…
For it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose.
Philippians 1:6; 2:12-13
Look up to Him
by Amy Carmichael
There are countless promises given to us by the Lord for times when things are hard. There is one promise which was first given to Moses, then to Joshua: “I will never leave you or forsake you” [Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5].
Lest we should fear that it was spoken only to Joshua, the writer of the Book of Hebrews quotes it just as if it were spoken to him, and all who read the promise: “I will never leave you or forsake you… so may we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper’” [Hebrews 13:5-6, cf. Psalm 118:6-7].
I like that part, “with confidence,” don’t you?
We are not meant to shake with fear when faced with temptations. We may look up to Him who conquered the powers of evil when “He reigned from the Tree” [Psalm 96:10, Jerome].
Those powers can never say that He did not conquer them, for He both exposed them and made a show of conquering them openly.
Therefore, we follow in procession behind a triumphant Christ! And if all of our reliance is placed upon Him, we need never be defeated in spirit. Today, from hour to hour, He can and will lead us on to triumph – as we look to Him.
And if some duty or service has to be done which seems impossible, the same promise of help and triumph holds true. Over and over again I have seen the Lord do “impossible” things. I think He delights in the impossible!
And He delights to meet the faith of one who looks up to Him and says, “Lord, you know that I cannot do this – but I believe that you can!”
My Father, so often I rely on myself to be strong enough, good enough – still thinking that I have to make myself presentable and worthy of your love.
Help me, today, to cease from my inner striving… to rest in you… knowing that you will see me through, carrying me through every temptation to be like the old me and not like you…
Amy Carmichael, Edges of His Ways, 147-148.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Here the early evening sun burnishes the trees with its last rays, highlighting the golden leaves against the darkening field and sky: sky in deepening blue and field in muted grey-brown, only leading the eye to the intensity of the shining, golden leaves! It's as if the divine Artist lit the trees in hidden lamplight, painting beauty in blue, light and shadow...! Enjoy! :-)
Q. What is your only comfort, in life and in death?
A. That I belong—body and soul, in life and in death—not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of His own blood has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil; that He protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that everything must fit His purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
Q. How many things must you know that you may live and die in the blessedness of this comfort?
A. Three. First, the greatness of my sin and wretchedness. Second, how I am freed from all my sins and their wretched consequences. Third, what gratitude I owe to God for such redemption.
Q. What do you believe when you say: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”?
A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth with all that is in them, who also upholds and governs them by His eternal counsel and providence, is for the sake of Christ His Son my God and my Father. I trust in Him so completely that I have no doubt that He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul. Moreover, whatever evil He sends upon me in this troubled life He will turn to my good, for He is able to do it, being almighty God, and is determined to do it, being a faithful Father.
Q. What do you understand by the providence of God?
A. The almighty and ever-present power of God whereby He still upholds, as it were by His own hand, heaven and earth together with all creatures, and rules in such a way that leaves and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and unfruitful years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, and everything else, come to us not by chance but by His fatherly hand.
Q. What advantage comes from acknowledging God’s creation and providence?
A. We learn that we are to be patient in adversity, grateful in the midst of blessing, and to trust our faithful God and Father for the future, assured that no creature shall separate us from His love, since all creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot even move.
Q. Why is He called CHRIST, that is, the ANOINTED ONE?
A. Because He is ordained by God the Father and anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our chief Prophet and Teacher, fully revealing to us the secret purpose and will of God concerning our redemption; to be our only High Priest, having redeemed us by the one sacrifice of His body and ever interceding for us with the Father; and to be our eternal King, governing us by His Word and Spirit, and defending and sustaining us in the redemption He has won for us.
Q. But why are you called a Christian?
A. Because through faith I share in Christ and thus in His anointing, so that I may confess His name, offer myself a living sacrifice of gratitude to Him, and fight against sin and the devil with a free and good conscience throughout this life and hereafter rule with Him in eternity over all creatures.
Q. Why do you call Him OUR LORD?
A. Because, not with gold or silver but at the cost of His blood, He has redeemed us body and soul from sin and all the dominion of the devil, and has bought us for His very own!
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Words: James Montgomery, 1819
Lord, teach us how to pray aright,
with reverence and with fear;
though dust and ashes in thy sight,
we may, we must draw near.
We perish if we cease from prayer,
O grant us power to pray!
And when to meet thee we prepare,
Lord, meet us by the way.
God of all grace, we bring to thee
a broken, contrite heart;
give, what thine eye delights to see,
truth in the inward part.
Faith in the only sacrifice
that can for sin atone;
to build our hopes, to fix our eyes,
on Christ, on Christ alone;
Patience to watch and wait and weep,
though mercy long delay;
courage our fainting souls to keep,
and trust thee though thou slay.
Give these, and then thy will be done;
thus strengthened with all might,
we through thy Spirit and thy Son,
shall pray, and pray aright.
That same eternal God and Father, who by grace alone chose us in his Son Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world was laid, appointed him to be our head, our brother, our pastor, and the great bishop of our souls. But since the opposition between the justice of God and our sins was such that no flesh by itself could or might have attained unto God, it behooved the Son of God to descend unto us and take himself a body of our body, flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone, and so become the Mediator between God and man, giving power to as many as believe in him to be the sons of God; as he himself says, “I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God.”
By this most holy brotherhood whatever we have lost in Adam is restored to us again. Therefore we are not afraid to call God our Father, not so much because he has created us [which we have in common with the reprobate] as because he has given unto us his only Son to be our brother, and given us grace to acknowledge and embrace him as our only Mediator.
Further, it behooved the Messiah and Redeemer to be true God and true man, because he was able to undergo the punishment of our transgressions and to present himself in the presence of his Father’s judgment, as in our stead, to suffer for our transgression and disobedience, and by death to overcome him that was the author of death. But because the Godhead alone could not suffer death, and neither could manhood overcome death, he joined both together in one person, that the weakness of one should suffer and be subject to death—which we had deserved—and the infinite and invincible power of the other, that is, of the Godhead, should triumph, and purchase for us life, liberty, and perpetual victory. So we confess, and most undoubtedly believe.
The Scots Confession of 1560, 3.08
Monday, October 01, 2007
I knelt below the grassy line of the Okeechobee dike to take this dramatic pic: clean lines of landscape and freshly washed sky, sky like the grey-blue of the sea -- 100 percent nature's painting, yet almost surreal! Enjoy!
Words: Marnie Barrell
Relentless lover, God in Christ
who died to set us free,
unswerving as your love for us
may our commitment be:
to come and learn what courage means,
and take the challenge up
to walk with Christ through death to life,
to drink His bitter cup.
And when we come, may that fierce love
be tasted, touched and known,
as we who gather round the Cross
meet in Christ's death our own.
God grant we shall not fear to drink
His cup, the blood He shed,
nor let our hands, unwounded, shrink
from taking up His bread.
So let the Spirit draw us near
to find, in hope and trust,
His broken body risen here,
His life renewed in us.
Life given, life renewed again
in thousandfold increase;
He lives, and sends us out to be
His living gift of peace!
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Words: Margaret Clarkson
Lord, we hear your word with gladness:
you have spoken we rejoice:
words of love and life and freedom
help us make their truth our choice!
Now in holy celebration
for your Word we worship you;
spoken, written, known in Jesus,
ours today to prove anew.
May we hear with understanding,
by your Spirit taught and led;
may the springs of all our being
by your living Word be fed;
may our hearts accept with meekness
all the grace your light makes known;
may obedience mark our footsteps
till we make each word our own!
You have spoken; yours the fullness,
ours the wealth of this your Word:
debtors, then as living letters,
we must make our gospel heard!
By your Spirit's power transform us;
shed your saving light abroad
till our lives by love in action
show our world the truth of God!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Ever notice how God's light shows are the best? :-) Here's a spotlight, several billion candlepower strong, lighting up the dancing Florida sky -- light and dark, clouds and sun in a stunning evening display! Enjoy!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Here is another pic from Florida. I love how the gradient blue of the sky and the reflected blue of the water pull the eyes to the pink of the western sky, and setting sun. The gentle contour of the trees and the lush, darkening green of the grass only accentuate the distant pull... this has it all: landscape and painted skyscape, gloaming beauty! Enjoy!
Words: Horatius Bonar, 1866
Fill thou my life, O Lord my God,
in every part with praise,
that my whole being may proclaim
thy being and thy ways.
Not for the lip of praise alone,
nor e'en the praising heart
I ask, but for a life made up
of praise in every part!
Praise in the common things of life,
its goings out and in;
praise in each duty and deed,
however small and mean.
Fill every part of me with praise;
let all my being speak
of thee and of thy love, O Lord,
poor though I be, and weak.
So shalt thou, Lord, from me, e'en me,
receive the glory due;
and so shall I begin on earth
the song forever new.
So shall each fear, each fret, each care
be turned into a song,
and every winding of the way
the echo shall prolong;
So shall no part of day or night
from sacredness be free;
but all my life, in every step
be fellowship with thee!
Friday, September 21, 2007
A flight into the storm
As the plane edged the advancing wall of a storm, the beauty was apparent – in paradox. The darkness, the tension, the clouds only added to the picture… and here I began to meditate on the relation between conflict and beauty.
Think of someone truly beautiful… think of that person you most admire, whose beauty goes far beyond form to spirit. Now, is that not a person who has come through great conflict, in faithfulness?
Now, think of a kind of beauty that is trustless, whimsical and sickening: think of the false beauty of the Hollywood set, the fakeness of celebrity beauty… something that sickens and kills the spirit, the person gives up something inside to gain and promote that kind of beauty. And what is this person’s relation to conflict? How have they reacted differently in it – if they’ve had much at all?
So, my mind thought of true beauty and the storm, how some people only grow in spirit through the trial, dark clouds only framing the true attractiveness of person. Consider with me this paradox!
What is the relation between ashes and beauty?
What is the connection between mourning and the anointing of joy?
What is the correlation between spirit heaviness and praise?
For these things are linked… these things are linked in the destiny of Messiah, in an image of such beauty that breaks the heart into wholeness: redemption beauty! Our Lord takes the former and gives the latter; and yet, His children know the former… daughters of beauty, sons of destiny, they know the prior conflict!
And so, consider, what does God consider beauty?
Here, He says, “This man has an excellent spirit in him!” There, He says, “Strength and honor are her clothing, and she shall rejoice in the time to come!”
Then, this text came to mind, of what pleases the Almighty:
He is not impressed by the might of a horse,
He has no pleasure in human strength;
But the Lord has pleasure in those who fear Him,
in those who await His gracious favor.
Ah! And here is the center of the paradox: what does it mean to await His gracious favor, unless it be waiting through conflict, waiting through mourning, waiting through spirit heaviness, waiting through the ashes!
Here is the relation between conflict and beauty: darkness is the crucible of beauty as surely as diamonds are from depths of incredible pressure. Here there is danger, as in everywhere… and yet we confess, as children, “He knows the way that I take, and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold!”
He has a plan, and it is not to harm, but only to give a future and a hope!
Here is the end of the matter, beauty in its fruition through conflict:
And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations. Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the foreigner shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But you shall be named the priests of the LORD, they shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory you shall boast. Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs.
“For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, and will make with them an everlasting covenant. Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people. All who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the posterity whom the LORD has blessed."
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness – as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations!
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
because He has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
to comfort all who mourn,
To give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit,
That they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
For as the earth puts forth her blossom,
and as seeds in the garden spring up,
So shall the Lord God make righteousness and praise
blossom before all the nations.
You shall be called priests of the Lord
they shall speak of you as ministers of our God!
Words: Timothy Dudley-Smith
Tune: Es flog ein kleins Waldvögelein
From all the wind's wide quarters,
come, see the feast is spread,
of soul-sustaining waters,
of true and living bread;
of sorrows long-departed,
and joys beyond compare –
come, poor and humble-hearted,
the feast of life to share!
With mercy all-prevailing,
God bids the wanderer come;
in grace and peace unfailing
invites the children home.
With loving-kindness tender,
God frees us from our sins –
in glory and in splendor
the feast of life begins!
Come, claim the promise spoken!
God's purpose stands secure.
The fruitful word unbroken
shall evermore endure.
All ancient bondage ended
to sin's corrupting powers –
forgiven, freed, befriended,
the feast of life is ours!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Here's a neat photo from the weekend in FL... the last rays of the sun highlight three distant clouds in pink, rays flowing from each cloud upward into flowing bluescale clouds... and to the right of the shining clouds stands a formed angel or dove: mystic, beautiful sign of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the beauty of their creation -- almost like the Shekinah glory of the Ark of the Covenant, guarded by the cherubim! One God in Three, dancing in light of all that He has made, attended by worshiping creatures! I took this pic in awe: the moment beyond beauty... to describe it fails utterly of the wonder. Enjoy! :-)
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Words: John Samuel Bewley Monsell, Jr., 1860
Fight the good fight with all thy might,
Christ is thy strength and Christ thy right;
lay hold on life, and it shall be
thy joy and crown eternally.
Run the straight race, through God's good grace,
lift up thine eyes and seek his face;
life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the path and Christ the prize.
Cast care aside, lean on thy Guide;
His boundless mercy will provide;
trust, and thy trusting soul shall prove
Christ is its life and Christ its love.
Faint not nor fear, His arms are near;
He changeth not, and thou art dear;
only believe, and thou shalt see
that Christ is all in all to thee!