Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Winter unfrozen and free to run away now

And he lifts up his arms in a blessing for being born again
And the streams are all swollen with winter
Winter unfrozen and free to run away now
And I'm amazed when I remember
Who it was that built this house
And with the rocks I cry out...

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands --
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land,
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gold: that which God doth touch and own

Teach me, my God and King

Words: George Herbert, 1633
Tune: Sandys, Carlisle

Teach me, my God and King,
in all things thee to see,
and what I do in anything
to do it as for thee.

A man that looks on glass,
on it may stay his eye;
or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
and then the heaven espy.

All may of thee partake;
nothing can be so mean,
which with this tincture, "for thy sake,"
will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
makes drudgery divine:
who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
makes that and the action fine.

This is the famous stone
that turneth all to gold;
for that which God doth touch and own
cannot for less be told.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A pause


Many there be which say of my soul, ‘There is no help for him in God.’ Selah. But Thou, O Lord, art my helper, my Glory and the lifter of my head!
Psalm 3:2

Amy Carmichael

Pause is the word the Greek translation of the Bible uses for selah. I like to meditate upon the way it occurs for the first time in the Psalms:

Many there be which say of my soul, ‘There is no help for him in God.’


But Thou, O Lord, art my helper, my Glory and the lifter of my head!

Psalm 3:2 [Septuagint]

We have all been subjected to the wearying voices which flood the very atmosphere around us, complaining, “There is no help…”

These voices murmur and mutter the same words, no matter what the challenge or difficulty may be. “There is no help…”

But because you and I are in God, we need not listen: “There is no help…” they repeat.


“But you, O Lord, are my helper!”

No matter to us what the voices say. Their words bring only weariness – but with His word comes peace and strength and courage to go on.

This is true, not only of the difficult outward circumstances of our lives, but with inward temptations too. We are tempted. And at once we recall past failures in the same area. This causes us to feel weak and start to fall. The voices within us are saying, “There is no help…”

Even these inner struggles may be turned to peace. How? Instead of trying to answer the many voices of the enemy, or arguing with them [we can never win this kind of argument], we must do something else.

We pause.

We look away from self, away from the enemy. We look up!

“There is no help…”

“But you, O Lord…!”

Some believe that selah signifies also a sudden pealing-forth of musical instruments. The pause then, was for praise.

Then let us fill all of our pauses with praise! Let us give all that lies within us, not to the voices of the enemy, but to pure praise, to pure loving adoration, and to worship from a grateful heart – a heart that is trained to look up.


My Father, train my soul, today, to pause. When the enemy attacks, hurling words that cause me to take my eyes off of you… When I feel weak, and helpless to do anything but fail again,

I will stop.

I will look up.

No matter what comes, I will say, “But you, O Lord, are my helper!”


Amy Carmichael, Thou Givest – They Gather, p. 18.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A slice of Ash Wednesday sky

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126:5, 6

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Pet. 1:3, 6, 7

A discovery of freedom in purity of heart

If we should wonder of grace, let us wonder no longer, but stake our claim upon it, swinging out as it were, upon a star, in ocean grandeur, true self in divine relation. Let us ask no longer of grace, but rather live it! And so learn with T.S. Eliot:

"Oh, do not ask, 'What is it?'
Let us go and make our visit."

"Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you will know what His will is.

"Joy is not gush: joy is not jolliness. Joy is simply perfect acquiescence in God's will, because the soul delights itself in God himself..."

Amy Carmichael

"Purity of heart is to will one thing. We will the Good and only the Good. We do not resist it, we do not will it for ulterior reasons, and we do not possess other motives which obscure it…

"Purity of heart: Willing what is good, willing what God wills, willing to be gracious and kind, accepting God’s forgiveness for guilt, willing to be obedient to God...

"Each one shall render account to God as an individual. In eternity there is no mob pressure, no crowd, no hiding place in the crowd. Do you now live so that you are conscious of yourself as an individual? Do you live in such a way that this consciousness is able to secure the time and quiet and liberty of action to penetrate every relation of your life?"

Soren Kierkegaard

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The splendor of your love

Restore in us, O God

Words: Carl P. Daw, Jr.
Tune: Southwell

Restore in us, O God,
the splendor of your love;
renew your image in our hearts,
and all our sins remove.

O Spirit, wake in us
the wonder of your power;
from fruitless fear unfurl our lives
like springtime bud and flower.

Bring us, O Christ, to share
the fullness of your joy;
baptize us in the risen life
that death cannot destroy.

Three-personed God, fulfill
the promise of your grace,
that we, when our searching ends,
may see you face to face!


Monday, February 19, 2007

A hidden fire that trembles in the breast

Prayer is the soul's sincere desire

Words: James Montgomery, 1818
Tune: Mendip

Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
unuttered or expressed;
the motion of a hidden fire
that trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
the falling of a tear
the upward glancing of an eye,
when none but God is near.

Prayer is the contrite sinner's voice,
returning from his ways,
while angels in their songs rejoice
and cry, "Behold, he prays!"

The saints in prayer appear as one
in word, in deed, and mind,
while with the Father and the Son
sweet fellowship they find.

No prayer is made by man alone
the Holy Spirit pleads,
and Jesus, on th'eternal throne,
for sinners intercedes.

Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
the Christian's native air,
his watchword at the gates of death;
he enters heaven with prayer.

O thou, by whom we come to God,
the Life, the Truth, the Way;
the path of prayer thyself hast trod:
Lord, teach us how to pray!


The plight of India’s children

Two recent reports have come out of India related to children’s issues and intervention: one report deals with the ongoing problem of Indian girls, and the other report details widespread lack of nourishment among Indian children. These reports give a bit more context to the resistance that caregivers face in providing care to these at risk children. The same cultural dynamics that place Indian children at risk also resist the care options for these children, especially girls…

A cry of girls at risk

The first article is somewhat hopeful, as India's central government tacitly acknowledges a deep problem. It plans a serious of “cradle orphanages,” where unwanted baby girls can be raised – hoping to stem the tide of widespread female feticide. Research shows that more than 10 million Indian girls have been killed in the last two decades, via abortion and infanticide.

Renuka Chowdhury, the minister of state for women and child development, has taken this issue to heart. She notes that female feticide is producing an alarming imbalance between males and females, and hopes to offer a solution. Thankfully, Renuka is outspoken on this issue, and we can only pray for others to follow her lead.

The last line in the Detroit News article states the underlying issue: destruction of girls “stems from the low value attached to females in Indian society.”

It is a deadly serious issue. India’s Hindu culture struggles with the results of its own prejudice, and now faces a painful truth: Any society that devalues its girls devalues itself.

A story of malnourished children

A second article details figures from India's National Family Health Survey, showing that nearly half of India’s children are malnourished. This puts India, now the most populous country, ‘in the same league as some of the world’s poorest countries.’

India has made dramatic strides on the world stage, enjoying a technological and economic boom – and yet these economic gains are not being matched by ‘equal improvements in the health of its more than one billion people.’

This is staggering to think about, really – that a country with more than one billion people exists with half of its children malnourished. The numbers are numbing.

Werner Schultink of UNICEF concludes that India should be worried: “It’s going to be difficult for India if it wants to use its human resources to develop the nation but does not make [human] improvements.”

A chance to make a difference

Behind both of these reports lurks an underlying societal brokenness – the war on India’s children, its girls and outcastes, is a war that starts in the mind and works its way into the streets – a terrible reality.

It’s interesting that the people invested in assisting orphans and unwanted Indian children are often the same people rejected by traditional Hindu power brokers. In light of India's great orphan need, consider how Hopegivers orphanages have been treated this last year! Consider how Sam Thomas and other caregivers have been attacked, their lives threatened and ruined for trying to help the same children that others do not want! The children unfed, unclothed and outcaste, the girls devalued and thrown away… these poor girls are offered care, and yet those who give them care are viciously attacked by entrenched Hindutva leaders!

Herein is the crux of the problem. I pray that Renuka Chowdhury and the other appointed ministers of India will not overlook systemic issues, and not overlook the amazing resources already in place for helping these girls. Already there are orphanages in place, places of education and care, staffed with loving, sacrificial people… if only these orphanages could be protected from the onslaughts of entrenched traditional militants!

Here also is a path for us to help. We can do something, by supporting Hopegivers orphanages – places of light and hope for India’s children…

The sacrifices of Dr. Sam and M.A. Thomas, and the intrepid caregivers of Emmanuel Hope Home, and others in India, are not in vain.

And our gifts are not in vain, providing moments of light and salvation! Please give something today, if you can... God bless your heart and actions!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine thoughts on true love & true self

Inexorable Love

Nothing is inexorable but love. Love which will yield to prayer is imperfect and poor. Nor is it then the love that yields, but its alloy... For love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill of loving, it spends itself to make more lovely, that it may love more; it strives for perfection, even that itself may be perfected – not in itself, but in the object.... Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love's kind, must be destroyed.

And our God is a consuming fire.

Love consumes the false self and releases the true

When we say that God is Love, do we teach people that their fear of Him is groundless? No. As much as they fear will come upon them, possibly far more.... The wrath will consume what they call themselves; so that the selves God made shall appear.

[And this is Love.]

Love that compels us in dryness

That person is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of feelings and desires, without a glow or an aspiration, with the weight of low thoughts, failures, neglects, and wandering forgetfulness, and say to Him, “Thou art my refuge.”


George MacDonald: An Anthology, by C.S. Lewis.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A February snow-filled sky

The sky is full and overflowing today... the biggest storm of the year moved in and they are calling for nearly two feet of snow by morning. The storm created a magical sky today, though, with painted scenery. Here's a shot of cattails against the whitened sky, muted field and trees -- stark witness of the beauty and portent of winter! :-) Enjoy!

Friday, February 09, 2007

A purple February sky

I never cease to be amazed at the colors on God's palette... the same sky-canvas painted in so many different ways! Here the sky is painted in purple-pink hue -- divine Artist previewing His own Valentine Day celebration! :-) Enjoy!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A flash of cold winter beauty

Here the wind is whipping snow into the air, a frisky complement to the clouds, brisk white in the air -- airborne frost that obscures the distant trees! It's been really beautiful here, with this artic cold front, but don't let such beauty fool you! It's c..c..c..cooold, too!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A life that proves truth, love, hope and redemption

A deeper look at faith and light

George MacDonald

But, friends, what we have to do is let our light shine. Do you get any light? Let it shine. I do not mean be an example to other people. You have no business to set yourselves up for an example; you have to be and to do, and that is letting the light shine. It ought not to be possible to mistake a Christian for a man of the world. His very dealings with every man that comes near him have something to show, something that Christ would have done that a man of the world would not do. Tell me how you would like Christ to come in upon you at any moment in the midst of your business talk. Would you be ready to turn to Him and say, “Master, this is how I am saying the thing to my friend; this is how I see it in the light of Thy love!”?

Would you be ready for that, or do you think that a great part of your being and your life can be conducted upon other laws than Christian? If a man does that, he is altogether wrong – altogether wrong. Christ is God, the all-in-all, or nothing at all. If we were as the bush – if every Christian were as the bush that burned with fire – that would be the shining our light before men. Atheism would soon vanish; unbelief would draw in its horns; reproved, judged, condemned by the very presence of faith.

I would have you, then, friends, remember that faith is the trying of the thing that you do not see, and that you cannot be sure about, a thing that you do not see and which, not seeing, you have doubt about, you can yet try – that is faith; and if you are honest, that will be a great opportunity and a great help to you; it will start a fresh faith which you have not thought of before, and give your life a new start. Faith is intended to put to the test the unseen world of truth, love, law, hope, redemption. God grant us all faith enough to carry on from point to point till the faith shall vanish into light…


Saturday, February 03, 2007

It's as easy as closing your eyes II

Symmetry, poetry, destiny! Sometimes it's hard work being a child of God! :-) Why not kick back today, wherever you are, and catch a few rays of divine sunlight, and breathe deeply of wholesome ocean aire?

"Let the little children come unto Me," said He. "For of such is the kingdom of heaven." "Truly, unless ye become like one of these little children you will in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven."

Be a child today, and sense the kingdom of heaven near, your divine intent!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

February artistic contrast: pines, cedars and sky

God's artwork is the best! Here, pines and cedars form stark relief against a patterned sky. The winter monochrome light is on full display here, a unique kind of beauty. Enjoy! :-)