Friday, April 27, 2007

He commands even this, so don’t despair!

Even this…

Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him!

Luke 8:25

Amy Carmichael


Is there something you are facing – whether in your outer circumstances or your inner character – that seems impossible to command? Something that has baffled you and outwitted you a thousand times, and appears that it will win over you in the end? Something as deaf to your command as the wind, or wild waters?

Don’t despair. Don’t shrug and give up.

Our Lord – your Lord and mine – can command even the most difficult, unruly thing that seems as if it will never be commanded.

Let His word ‘even’ be a comfort to you. He who commands even the winds and water [and they must obey Him] – He can say to that ‘even’ of yours, “Peace, be still…”

And there will come for you ‘a great calm’ [Mark 4:39].

…Remember that there is nothing you are asked to do in your own strength. Not the least thing, nor the greatest:

God, who is all the while supplying the impulse [to obey and to overcome], giving you the power of inner resolve [to see it through to victory], is also giving you the strength to perform [under pressure] and carry out His good pleasure. [Philippians 2:13, Way’s translation]

All the tremendous forces of nature – weather and politics and human nature too – are at the beck and call of our God. Each has only a faint shadow of the spiritual power that is His, and that He is ready to send forth for us.

Isn’t that amazing?

How utterly foolish it is to plead weakness when we – even you and I – may move into the stream of that power. If only we will


My Father, I choose your strength over my weakness!

For today, I will step out of the role of Lord and Judge… and I’ll strike the word ‘impossible’ from my thoughts…


Amy Carmichael, Thou Givest – They Gather, pp. 19-20.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A beauty in stormy sky and troubled water

A thunderstorm rolled in and this is the prelude to the rain... I tried to stay and capture a frame of lightning, but needless to say, it wasn't the safest place to photograph lightning! :-) Some sacrifices have to be made for the blog, but getting stuck in lightning just isn't one, lol. The thing I like about this pic is its captured suspense: sky, air, water, muted lighting... all convey suspense, a kind of beauty in unfolding storm!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Save the planet, lose toilet paper!

The real cause of global warming

For those of you who really care about saving the planet, singer Sheryl Crow has come up with an innovative solution. In weekend comments on her blog, one of her favorite ideas for fighting global warming is the ‘one square per sitting rule’ – trips to the toilet should only take one square of TP, on average! In her words,

I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don't want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required.

Now, I don’t mind helping the planet, but I just need more info: Sheryl, could you describe those ‘pesky occasions’ where 2 or 3 might be allowed? I really wouldn’t want to overdo it – so please, help me with more information!

lol! More comments here, and a jingle here, lol.

If you care, lose the deodorant too!

In a case of life imitating art, Sheryl is behind the times. A while ago a friend wrote me in the midst of an existential meltdown. He simply asked, “Help me! Should I use deodorant?”

Here is my reply:

I can see why that question, 'Is it ok if I wear deodorant' should cause such existential angst and theological conundrum.

After all, to wear deodorant is to stop the 'natural flow' of things. When one stops the natural flow, he impinges nature. When one impinges nature he adversely affects the environment. When one adversely affects the environment, he risks the planet.

So, it's really an issue of nature and environment!! In our pure ecosystem balanced on such a fine line of natural flow, one cannot wear deodorant without upsetting the cosmic balance!

So, my friend, the only logical conclusion, the only environmentally sensitive answer is to lose the speed stick and SAVE THE PLANET!!!

After all, what are a few offended olfactory senses of fellow humans compared to the health of the planet??

If you really care about the universe, STOP USING DEODORANT NOW! Mother Nature will love you, even though humans may hate you! But some sacrifices have to be made for the good of the universe, lol!

So... there you have it. Save the whales, save the dolphins, save the children, save the future... just lose the deodorant!!

Now, for all you good planet people out there – will you be known by your fruits? er… by your odiferous societal contributions?

Give up the deodorant, give up the TP, and come sail away with me!


Thursday, April 19, 2007

A twilight relief of shadow and light

This is one of my favorite pics yet, highlighting the stark beauty of subtle shadows at twilight. Look at the grass in the foreground: lit and shaded at the same time, every stalk in artistry... then the soft shadows across the contoured swales, converging lines leading to distance and clouds -- each in its own relief of shadow and light and color!

This really is a natural cathedral -- all elements in beauty, foreground to vaulted sky, a heavenward pull: the upward drawing and soaring effect that many human cathedrals try to imitate, with varying success...

If you want to view the a larger pic, just click to enlarge! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Him serve with mirth, His praise forth tell

All people that on earth do dwell
Words: William Kethe, posthumous pub. 1561
Tune: Old 100th

All people that on earth do dwell,
sing to the Lord with cheerful voice:
Him serve with mirth, His praise forth tell,
come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
without our aid He did us make:
we are His folk, He doth us feed,
and for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise,
approach with joy His courts unto;
praise, laud, and bless His Name always,
for it is seemly so to do.

For why? the Lord our God is good,
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
and shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
the God whom heaven and earth adore,
from men and from the angel host
be praise and glory evermore

Monday, April 16, 2007

The heights for which Christ took hold of me

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me — everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength!

Philippians 3:12, 14; 4:8-9, 13

Saturday, April 14, 2007

“Isaiah 35:6, Loy!”

Then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the silent shall sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness,
and streams will water the wasteland.

Isaiah 35:6

Isaiah 35: A meditation of life in the desert

Last week was the anniversary of my dad’s death. It’s always a tough time of the year, especially for mom… but it’s good to remember, and good to talk about love that never dies. We celebrated in low-key style: my mother, aunt and I shared a wonderful meal, giving thanks for the blessings of life and family, remembering in hope.

This meditation is a celebration of my dad’s faith – the conquering faith that framed his life and lives on even after his passing. May it encourage you to conquer too, today!

A spiritual reality of the desert

The prophecy of Isaiah faces us with the reality of the desert – and not just any desert, but the desert of spirit – the wasteland… the dry, barren places of the heart. The prophecy carries special meaning for those in exile, those facing the lonely stretches of life, perhaps with unanswered prayer or silence from God.

In a sense, the ancient people of Israel lived with one foot in the desert. They understood barrenness. Historically, their nation passed through 40 years of wilderness wandering before inheriting the land. And, even when entering the Promised Land, found that large portions of it were rocky and dry, with few naturally fertile areas, limited water and little planting soil.

They understood the physical desert, and faced it with irrigation and hard work. But today’s text references a far more fearsome desert: the desert of the soul, spiritual loneliness and apparent desertion by God: a desert beyond human resource.

Verses 3 and 4 hint at the emotional depression of this spiritual desert:

Strengthen the trembling hands, steady the weakened knees;
Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear...”

There are some things in life that go far beyond what our human resources can handle. The times when prayers aren’t clearly answered, when medicine can’t seem to help, when doctors shake their heads, when counsel of friends just rings hollow… when the heart seems silent and cold.

Anyone who has walked the dry and barren places of life will understand the feeling of Israel in the spiritual desert. You will understand the cry of the faithful captives, “How long, O Lord how long?” [Psalm 89:46, et al].

Behind these verses of Isaiah is a picture of people in Exile. Can you see them there in a foreign land, with harps hung by the rivers of Babylon? Slaves in a far away land, they lived with only endless desert between them and home... an emptiness deep inside... silenced music of the heart.

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down
And there we wept, when we remembered Zion (Psalm 137:1).

The people of Israel faced the problem of the desert. It is our problem too.

The text offers two windows of desert resolution, and both are related to the character of God. The problem of the desert is countered with the presence and promise of God.

A holy presence in the desert

The presence of God is promised in verse 4:

Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear;
Your God will come, He will come with vengeance;
With divine retribution He will come to save you.”

God will come with justice and salvation! These were the words they were waiting to hear!

Verses 5 through 7 flesh out this thought:

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool, and the thirsty ground a bubbling spring.

This is an incredible prophecy of God’s future presence, but for people in immediate distress, often these are only words.

Our Lord Jesus said “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” but sometimes it feels as if He has forsaken us. Honestly, don’t you sometimes feel as if you are alone in the journey? If so, realize that in the spiritual desert, this is often a normal feeling.

“My God, why have you forsaken me?” [Psalm 22:1].
“You said great things would happen, but I don’t see them in my life.”

Even John the Baptist felt this way. John was chosen by God to precede Christ, preaching repentance: “Prepare the way of the Lord!” John’s ministry reflected supernatural blessing. He was filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. Yet he was thrown in prison for faithfulness to the Gospel! Sitting there on death row, praying for intervention, he fell into depression. He had only done what was right, and now faced the price of his life. In desperation he sent two messengers to Jesus to ask, “Are you the One, or should we look for another?”

In other words, “If you are the Christ, what am I doing in prison?”

It is fascinating that Jesus answered this question with words from Isaiah:

Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them [Luke 7:22, et al].

In other words, “The kingdom is among you, God has arrived, Messiah is here!” Even in prison, John, rejoice in the presence of God! The work of God is here, in Christ. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear...Your God will come...” (v. 4).

This is the prophecy of presence in the wastelands, God’s presence for those who believe... the first window of hope in the desert.

A promise of return

The second window of the text is a promise of return.

In the haunts where the jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
And a highway will be there; and it will be called the Way of Holiness.
The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in the Way (v. 7b-8).
Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.
Gladness and joy will overwhelm them, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away (v. 10).

This prophecy of Isaiah captures two time frames, two dimensions – human and cosmic.

The human dimension of this prophecy was fulfilled in part when the sons and daughters of Judah danced through the gates of Zion in return from Babylonian Exile, singing the song of God: “Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion!”

This human aspect was also partially fulfilled in 1948 when, against all odds, Israel once again became a nation, Jews returning to Jerusalem from the scattered corners of the earth.

A tension in desert promise

But today we live in the harsh reality of bombs and terrorists in the city of David. The haunt of jackals has not yet been replaced by flowering plants. Every bomb that explodes only proves that the cosmic reach of this prophecy is yet to be fulfilled.

The cosmic dimension promises a Highway of Holiness, purity of heart and conquered jackals.

But we aren’t there yet.

This is the striking tension of the kingdom: God’s presence is with us, yet at times we walk in silence; the promise of return is real, yet the desert has not fully blossomed.

The Highway of Holiness is not yet perfectly clear. We still walk the haunts of jackals. In a very real sense there is both now and not yet to the kingdom of God. Jesus said that the rule of God would be now in our hearts, yet it was to come over all the earth.

This is the exact vision that Job saw in darkness. In the midst of pain and doubt, he looked up and saw the truth: I know that my Redeemer liveth, and He shall stand upon the earth on the latter day (Job 19:25f). “My Redeemer lives – but there is coming a time He will stand upon the earth.” “In my flesh I shall see God!

This is the tension of faith. It is the desert.

It is the interim between God’s revelation and final rule.

For people in Exile, the promise was ironclad: return would happen, the wilderness would once again blossom, the “years that the locust had eaten would be restored” (Joel 2:25). But they waited for that in hope.

They took the promise on a balance of faith and believed the outcome a foregone conclusion.

“Isaiah 35:6, Loy!”

My father understood this concept very well. He was crippled by polio at an early age, yet did not give up faith. At 11 years old he went from being the fastest kid in his class to the one who could not walk. He went from being a baseball prodigy to the one who could not throw a ball. But stricken in body he did not shrink in soul. He accepted partial healing of body and the vast inner wholeness that Scripture brought him. He would do what he could, and then say with a smile, “Isaiah 35:6, boys!” “Isaiah 35:6!” “The lame man will leap like a deer!”’

In one of my last conversations with him, I had to leave for Chicago, knowing he was at death’s door. In tears I told him that if I did not see him again, I’d see him over there, and we’d play ball like we were meant to – with him in a whole body: No more sitting on a wooden box trying to bat a ball with one hand! No more wishing he could run with us! He would run whole and free. He looked at me, smiled, and in his weak voice said,

“Isaiah 35:6, Loy!” “Isaiah 35:6!” “I’m going to run like a deer!”

For him the words were yet not yet fulfilled, but he lived in the promise as a reality.

Is the desert real? Is it a problem? Yes, it is... but not without the presence and promise of God!

Christ’s victory is assured. He stands as conqueror over the gathered forces of darkness! There is great power for the one who will see, even while walking the burning sand, the vision of the dew kissed rose. Even within the haunts of jackals, rich grass yet will grow.

The thirsty ground will be a bubbling spring!

Perhaps you’ve been waiting long for the desert to bloom like a rose. If so, dare to believe that He is present and working now. Can you see your desert blossoming with future life?

On the basis of these verses, can you ask, “What is God doing in the barren places of my life?”

This text gives the supernatural truth that those who experience exile in their lives, those who pass through the wilderness, those who are weak and hard pressed may shout for joy, for God can and will transform all things.

Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear;
Your God will come...With divine retribution he will come to save you.”
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool, and the thirsty ground a bubbling spring!

Where you need it most, may it be so.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Little girl...

Eyes wide open.
Confusion flooding

Her nightmares are coming true.
Abandoned and alone, she waits.
Perhaps a rescuer will come and take her away.
Perhaps a god will show her the way.

Wait and wait she does
But silence is all she knows.

The day has come
When all have gone
And now she is alone.
Alone and scared.

She is left to fight for herself.
She must now take the rings and overcome.

But something is not right.
For she is so little,
So small, so weak
And the task seems so tall.

Night and night she cries alone
But nobody knows
And more than that, nobody cares.
So she learns to hide the pain...

Read the rest of the poem by Jordyne at Jordyne's world.

It is an evocative and moving picture of a girl's heart, seeking solace, yet finding none... until being held by her heavenly Father. Thanks Jordyne for sharing your world with us, and your faith!

Visit her site and tell her if her words touch your heart in grace!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter green in gathering snow

Here is a picturesque patch of field that remains green during a sudden Easter snow. The rest of the scenery is covered in a couple inches of snow [and falling], and yet this field remains green! It only adds to the scene... :-) p.s. can anyone guess why the mystery field remains green? :-)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Jesus, our Love, is crucified

O come and mourn with me awhile

Words: Frederick William Faber, 1849
Tune: St. Cross

O come and mourn with me awhile;
O come ye to the Savior's side;
O come, together let us mourn;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

Have we no tears to shed for Him,
while soldiers scoff and foes deride?
Ah! look how patiently He hangs;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

How fast His hands and feet are nailed;
His blessed tongue with thirst is tied,
His failing eyes are blind with blood:
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

His mother cannot reach His face;
she stands in helplessness beside;
her heart is martyred with her Son's:
Jesus, our Love, is Crucified.

Seven times seven He spoke, seven words of love;
and all three hours His silence cried
for mercy on the souls of men;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

O break, O break, hard heart of mine!
Thy weak self-love and guilty pride
His Pilate and his Judas were:
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

A broken heart, a fount of tears,
ask, and they will not be denied;
a broken heart love's cradle is:
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

O love of God! O sin of man!
In this dread act your strength is tried;
and victory remains with love;
for He, our Love, is crucified.


Monday, April 02, 2007

A spring vista

Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Jesus Christ

In nature all is obedience -- unconditional obedience.


To will, not from self, but with the Eternal, is to live.

George MacDonald

Love to the loveless shown

My song is love unknown

Words: Samuel Crossman, 1664

My song is love unknown,
my Savior's love to me,
love to the loveless shown
that they might lovely be.
O who am I
that for my sake
my Lord should take
frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne
salvation to bestow,
but men made strange, and none
the longed-for Christ would know.
But O my friend,
my friend indeed,
who at my need,
His life did spend.

Sometimes they strew His way,
and His strong praises sing,
resounding all the day
hosannas to their King.
Then "Crucify!"
is all their breath,
and for His death
they thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries!
Yet they at these
themselves displease,
and 'gainst Him rise.

They rise, and needs will have
my dear Lord made away;
a murderer they save,
the Prince of Life they slay.
Yet steadfast He
to suffering goes,
that He his foes
from thence might free.

Here might I stay and sing,
no story so divine:
never was love, dear King,
never was grief like thine.
This is my friend,
in whose sweet praise
I all my days
could gladly spend.