Monday, January 29, 2007

January snowline and cloudline

I took this pic last week, and I really like it for several reasons: the white clouds and blue sky echo the patterns of snow and field, and the frame captures the frozen motion of wind and snow. Look closely and you can see the blur of snow in the air, carried by the wind across the field. In the foreground you can see the wind patterns in the snow! Symmetry and poetry, in a winter pic... :-)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It's as easy as closing your eyes...

It's a cold day here in PA, with wind chill and snow. Needless to say, the inner boy in me is taking flight to sunny climes, lol. Look at the pic and then close your eyes, and maybe you can come along with me, lol. :-)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

How can a person be both pro-life and pro-war?

Learning from my mother on abortion and war

My mother marched in Washington on Monday, in defense of unborn children. Her take was remarkable, especially the part where she heard newly elected Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Jr. and Sen. Arlen Specter field questions from a pro-life constituency. Those who consider Casey pro-life would have been well-served to sit in on this session. Not for nothing has Chuck Schumer boasted that Casey will be firmly on board with the pro-choice voting line, when significant votes arrive...

But I digress. My mother’s quiet courage to attend this march alone – traveling without knowing anyone on the bus – in order to lift her voice against the night, this courage has moved me deeply! And so I take up my pen tonight to do some heavy lifting in this battle for life…

I’m thinking specifically of a question asked by a friend, concerning the seeming hypocrisy of people who march for life and yet support war. Perhaps you’ve heard it, but the question goes something like this:

Q: How can person be pro-life and yet supportive of war? Isn’t this terribly hypocritical?

A variation of this question substitutes capital punishment for war, but the implication is the same: if a person is for life, s/he is a hypocrite to support something that engenders any death [e.g. war or capital punishment]. The unspoken part of this argument is that a person is morally justified in voting to enable abortion if someone else is justified in voting to enable war – abortion is reduced to just another political position.

That is a regretful stance – doubly regretful because it misunderstands both life and war while enabling war on life.

When life and war are understood in a revelation framework, it presents a powerful answer to the question of pro-life hypocrisy.

Biblical definition of life: creation and existence in the Image of God.
Biblical definition of war: use of force to restrain evil.

Abstract: If human life is defined in relation to divine nature and intent, the Imago Dei, then it’s consistent to oppose abortion while supporting just war [theoretically], because in each position, the person is defending the Imago Dei against evil: the evil that would destroy life before its fruition, and the evil that would destroy life in its function.

If the argument is made that war in itself is evil, therefore cannot be properly used to combat evil, then I would reply: One should not confuse means with actuality, especially in understanding evil. An axe in the hands of a woodsman is life-sustaining; an axe in the hands of Freddy Krueger is a nightmare.

Yet the question necessarily reflects on a divine level: Is it possible for a good, life-giving God to be for war?

After all, we claim that God is perfectly good, our good “Father of lights, with whom is no variation or shadow of turning,” the One who “cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any person.” God is for life, unequivocally so: God has given His one and only Son that we might have life, and have it more abundantly. Can this good God – unalterably good and equivocally for life [in its highest definition] – be for war?

The answer is conceptual [rather than categorical, key distinction] but it is again, unequivocal. War first began in the heavenly plane: Force was first used when evil [and all its dark mystery] acted against Imago Dei on a non-earthly plane.

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. [Revelation 12:7-9]

The view of revelation is that war preceded the human plane, and that war was used by God to cordon the spread of evil. Scripture presents the paradox of a Holy God who is consistently for life and for peace while being an active Warrior: the Christ who says, ‘Those who live by the sword will die by the sword’ is shown at the end of time, riding a white horse with a flaming sword…

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns... [Revelation 19:11]

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work… And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. [2 Thessalonians 2:7-8]

Likewise, the prophet Isaiah saw this Christ as the strong Warrior coming back from Bozrah, with His robes dipped in blood:

Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with His garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of His strength?

“It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.”

Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress?

“I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing.

“For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come. I looked, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that no one gave support; so my own arm worked salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me.

“I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground.” [Isaiah 63:1-6]

In reading these texts there is a mystery, and it is the mystery of justice, the mystery of righteousness: How can Goodness use a sword to defend life? How does the One who calls himself Life own the blood of His enemies?

How can this be?

Key: the divine Warrior only takes the sword to defend creation intent against the onslaughts of the night. The Holy One makes war when war would consume the Imago Dei in His people…

Consistently, this concept is applied from divine to human planes, where the State is properly viewed as a servant of God to contain evil:

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. [Romans 13:3-4]

The proper role of State: God’s minister to protect good and execute wrath on the practice of evil.

Here we begin to see the coalescing of revelation, in relation to abortion and war: Life in the image of God is seen as something worth fighting for, something worth defending. Innocent life is not equal with guilty life: Adult humans destroy themselves from the Imago Dei when they turn their will against divine intent and partner with evil.

And, as Thomas Aquinas clearly expressed, when God punishes evil, that punishment of evil is not an evil, but a good: Punishment is a function of the good to which evils are attached, not a function of prior divine imperative. God cannot will the sinner to evil, since this is a “privation of right order towards the divine good.” God can will a context in which the sinner chooses evil, but this is only because God has first willed the attendant good. The sinner wills evil, and God wills punishment, or justice, which is a good.

Likewise, God wills no one to perish, but those who destroy Imago Dei must perish, because they destroy their own life: God is life and only in God can there be life.

Those who oppose the killing of unborn children and support the just killing of evil men [war] are actually intuiting the divine order of Imago Dei. In both directions they act to defend life: life in its promised fruition and life in its existent function.

And thus is exposed the lie of pacifism: pacifism demands a moral equivalency of physical life without referent to innocence, or to divine Image. The consistent pacifist will stand by while his wife and children are raped and killed, because he equates the life of the terrorist with the life of his family. I once posed the question to an intellectual grad student who paraded his pacifism at a party: “Would you stand by while your wife and children were harmed by an intruder?” He answered, “I would hope I would be true to my principles.” My reply: such a person may be true to his principles, but he wouldn’t be true to God, or to his family.

Thankfully, God suffers under so such ‘principles.’ He ‘has no pleasure in the death of the wicked,’ but He often demands such death in the restraining of evil.

We are human actors in a cosmic war, and we reveal our proper relation to God as we defend the Imago Dei in the life of the unborn and in the life of those grown children being killed by evil men.

This answer is more than logically consistent: it is relationally consistent with divine decree.

Someone as humble as my dear mother, who cannot stand violence in any form, knows the truth of divine Person as she marches for unborn children in Washington, D.C., and, in the same breath, hopes for human freedom world over, though such freedom demand war…

This is not to say that all war is right, but rather to say that she is not a hypocrite in her stance. She is a child of God, striving for understanding in the Spirit of Truth. She is for unborn children, and she is for war, if it be that war might defend grown children against the destruction of Imago Dei.

Thanks, Mom, for marching this week! May your march of courage inspire those souls seeking courage, yet not yet sure of the path!


In every star thy wisdom shines

The heavens declare thy glory, Lord

Words: Isaac Watts, 1719
Tune: Alfreton

The heavens declare thy glory, Lord,
in every star thy wisdom shines
but when our eyes behold thy Word,
we read thy Name in fairer lines.

Sun, moon, and stars convey thy praise
round the whole earth, and never stand:
so when thy truth begun its race,
it touched and glanced on every land.

Nor shall thy spreading Gospel rest
till through the world thy truth has run,
till Christ has all the nations blest
that see the light or feel the sun.

Great Sun of Righteousness, arise,
bless the dark world with heavenly light;
thy Gospel makes the simple wise,
thy laws are pure, thy judgments right.

Thy noblest wonders here we view
in souls renewed and sins forgiven;
Lord, cleanse my sins, my soul renew,
and make thy word my guide to heaven.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

An evergreen snowflake

Here a forest evergreen offers an artistic interpretation of the very thing that covers it: unique snowflakes! Accompanied, of course, by that new, hot nature band, the Evergreen Snowflakes! :-)

The Lord rises with healing in His wings

Sometimes a light surprises

Words: William Cowper, 1779
Tune: Light

Sometimes a light surprises
the Christian while he sings;
it is the Lord who rises
with healing in His wings:
when comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
a season of clear shining,
to cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation
we sweetly then pursue
the theme of God's salvation,
and find it ever new;
set free from present sorrow,
we cheerfully can say,
let the unknown tomorrow
bring with it what it may,

It can bring with it nothing
but He will bear us through:
who gives the lilies clothing
will clothe His people, too:
beneath the spreading heavens
no creature but is fed;
and He who feeds the ravens
will give His children bread.

Though vine nor fig tree neither
their wonted fruit should bear,
though all the fields should wither,
nor flocks nor herds be there;
yet, God the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice;
for, while in Him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice!


Friday, January 19, 2007

A sunset in a snowstorm

Driving on a back road today, in a beautiful snow, I was struck by the amber-colored sunset -- the foreground is in snow [the blemishes and blurs are actually falling snow] while the far background, low-flung under heavy clouds, is lit in stunning light. An amazing picture! Or should I say, an amazing setting, lol. The pic doesn't do it justice...

A January monochrome

The winter light often produces a natural monochrome on the landscape -- where all the colors run into grey, in varying shades. The look can be dramatic! I just had to snap this pic, where the sky and trees and water and hills all paint a monochrome scene: the "freshly washed" look of winter time.

Note: I took this a week ago. Today it is snowing -- making the scenery totally different! :-)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The light beyond the clouds

Teach me to number my days aright, that I may gain a heart of wisdom… satisfy me in the morning with your unfailing love, that I may sing for joy and be glad all my days.

Psalm 90:1-2

If only there were mountains!

Amy Carmichael

If you would live in victory over the circumstances, great and small, that come to you each day… and if you want God’s life and power to well up from the depths of your being… then you must refuse to be dominated by the seen and felt.

You say, “I could climb mountains if God asked me to. That would be a joy!

“But, here I stand, on this dreary seashore of my life, looking over this dreary backwash bay and a drearier shoreline – and beyond that, inland, no mountains. Nothing invigorating or inspiring. Nothing hard enough to inspire anyone…

“The whole of my life is like that these days – not hard, just dull. I would have chosen challenging over dull. A challenge that would make me want to achieve at any cost. It’s this useless feeling that is so devastating…

God says, “Have you looked up?”

“Up? I see nothing but a mass of clouds overhead. That’s all.”

“And nothing beyond those clouds? Look again. Don’t you see the hint of light beyond them? Aren’t the clouds themselves a marvel of controlled power – reminders of the pillars of cloud and fire?

“I must confess, my spiritual vision has failed, what with waiting so long upon my God.”

“So long…? You need to grow in patience. For after you have done the will of God, you must learn to wait to receive the full extent of His promise.

“It is written: ‘As for me, when I am poor and feeling heavy, your help, O God, will lift me up. I wait patiently, trusting that you will lift me up.’

“And it is also written: ‘I will abide in patience, and will praise you more and more.’

"So I ask: Have you tried to face your life – those dull, dreary days – with the lifting power of praise?

“You must look steadfastly through the visible, until the invisible opens to you.”


My Father, so often I get weighed down under the demands of my own life. Sometimes I see little purpose in the endless repetition of little duties. Jobs done today, that need doing again tomorrow…

What is it, in the daily work you have given me to do, that is of eternal value to you? Lift my sights, Lord.

Let me see today, and each duty in this day, as you see it.


Amy Carmichael, Figures of the True, 5.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A friend of Israel

I've carried the "Friend of Israel" logo on my site for some time, and just recently had to update it because of a site upgrade from Blogger. For those who question my support of Israel during these difficult times, or my support of Jews, please feel free to email me with your questions. I'll be glad to dialogue with you. And, just a word to all bloggers who can see the light of Israel in the midst of a darkened Mideast: please click on the logo and consider hosting one on your blog! Israel needs all the friends she can get, at this juncture in history. As do Jews around the world -- anti-Semitism is at a higher level now than at any time since the socialist pogroms of Nazism and Stalinism.

Friday, January 12, 2007

God is light, so I can trust Him with my darkness

This then is the message, which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

1 John 1:5

The Abba of Light

George MacDonald

Come to God, then, my brother, my sister, with all thy desires and instincts, all thy lofty ideals, all thy longing for purity and unselfishness, all thy yearning to love and be true, all thy aspiration after self-forgetfulness and child-life in the breath of the Father; come to Him with all thy weaknesses, all thy shames, all thy futilities; with all thy helplessness over thy own thoughts; with all thy failure, yea, with the sick sense of having missed the tide of true affairs; come to Him with all thy doubts, fears, dishonesties, meannesses, paltrinesses, misjudgments, wearinesses, disappointments, and stalenesses: be sure He will take thee and all thy miserable brood, whether of draggle-winged angels, or covert-seeking snakes, into His care, the angels for life, the snakes for death, and thee for liberty in His limitless heart!

For He is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

If He were a king, a governor; if the name that described Him were “The Almighty,” thou mightst well doubt whether there could be light enough in Him for thee and thy darkness; but He is thy Father, and more thy Father than the word can mean in any lips but His who said, ‘my Father and your Father, my God and your God;’ and such a Father is light, an infinite, perfect light.

If He were any less or any other than He is, and thou couldst yet go on growing, thou must at length come to the point where thou wouldst be dissatisfied with Him; but He is light, and in Him is no darkness at all!

So, come to God, my brother, my sister, with all thy desires and instincts, all thy lofty ideals, all thy longing for purity and unselfishness, all thy yearning to love and be true...


A holy dawn and angels near

Looking out over a new horizon, holding promise in my hand...
Lord, thank you for this miracle: a new day, a dawning hope, a promised land.
Your mercies are new every morning -- how much greater standing here,
Washed clean with your ocean sand -- a holy dawn, and angels near!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A heavenly dance of loyal Love

Do not say in your heart, “Who shall ascend into heaven?” [that is, as if we need to bring Christ down to us!].

God raises us up with Christ, and seated us in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

Romans 10:6; Ephesians 2:6

The music of His lovingkindness

Amy Carmichael

No Christian man or woman was ever meant to walk on the natural plane. There is no provision made for such a walk. Always, God’s promise is that His child will break through and live and endure as if s/he were seeing only the workings of the invisible world, not fixed on physical senses.

God himself made full provision for us to live this way: “My grace is more than enough…” [2 Corinthians 12:9].

As you take those words, you will find yourself compassed about with songs. As one who walks in a garden or in a green woods at sunrise, hearing on all sides little snatches of song, so it will be with you… a music will flow over the inward ear…

It is another kind of music, not heard in this world. The singers are as unseen as the morning birds among the green leaves. And yet, like the birds, they are our dear companions: They are the heavenly people of the cloud of witnesses who surround us all about.

In this way, the Lord commands to us His lovingkindness: Above and beneath, behind and before us, it flows like broad rivers and streams… The ships of the enemy cannot sail these waters. It is a forbidden thing.

Do not be afraid in the least, therefore, even if you are facing some inescapable trial or testing in this world. “The Lord your God will carry you, as a father carries his son, all the way…” [Deuteronomy 1:31].


My Father, closer to me than my own heartbeat… more urgent to my life than the air I’m breathing…

Thank you, Father, that you allow nothing to keep us apart today!


Amy Carmichael, Gold by Moonlight, 22-23.

Monday, January 08, 2007

January heavens declare...

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven,
And its circuit to the other end...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A new year look through eyes of wonder

Young 2007 looks out to the horizon, captivated by the sun and sea. Cap'n says, "It's a good year, mates!" "A time for sailing and discovery!" :-)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Thoughts between daughter and Father IV


Her thoughts said, “My longing is to heal the broken and weak, to defend the maimed, and to lead the blind unto the 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 breathe of every wind that bloweth. Thou must learn to dwell deep.”

And the daughter who had 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!”


Her thoughts said, “Is it 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 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 thy hope.”


The daughter said, “But, my Father, Thou knowest that I am not St. Paul.”

Her Father said,

“Hast thou watched a wave fill a shell on the shore? Thou art My shell. Wave upon wave I will flow over thee, poor empty shell that thou art. So shalt thou be filled with the fullness of the sea. For I am able to give thee an overflowing measure of all good gifts, that all thy needs of every kind may be supplied at all times, and that thou mayest give of thine abundance to every good work.


The daughter said to her Father, “If this new campaign that I undertake come to grief, then some who trusted in me, believing that Thou wert leading me, will be ashamed. Let them not that wait on Thee, O Lord of Hosts, be ashamed on my account.

The Father said to His daughter,

“They shall not be ashamed that wait on Me.”

And the daughter said to herself, “Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. I will sing of the Lord because He hath dealt so lovingly with me!”


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!

A new year sky @ 1:00 a.m.

Here's a shot of the moon, with its refracted light through clouds... 1:00 a.m. on the dawn of a new year! I think there were angels near... :-)