Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sam Thomas presses the battle for orphans

Hopegivers orphan care carries on in faith

Hopegivers International is sporting a new website, fronted by recent coverage of Dr. Sam Thomas, and his return to India. Dr. Sam was recently reunited with his wife Shelley, and their boys, after being separated from them for 14 months. His time with them was brief… and he returned to India, to carry on for the orphans there.

It all sounds so easy, so clinical, but the reality is truly life-threatening. Sam is risking his health, his freedom and his life for these orphans. He’s already been persecuted terribly and imprisoned, facing threats spoken and physical. Like Nehemiah, Sam has many high profile enemies who seek his life. And yet, also like Nehemiah, the cause is worth the risk.

He’s offering himself to stand in the gap for the orphans, to take a lead for the work there. As the article states,

There have been many setbacks and obstacles for the ministry on the India side over the last year. And as much as he suffered through the persecution, his real heartbreak was for the hundreds of children who were forced back to the streets when the orphanage licenses were revoked last March. Since then, it's been an uphill battle all the way, trying to get them reinstated so the kids can come back. Any day now Sam is hoping to hear the news that the orphaned and abandoned kids – his kids – can come back home.

In Sam’s words, “I breathe, sleep, dream, and talk about my goal and deepest desire – one million orphaned and abandoned children raised up for God.”

That is a passion worth giving one’s life for! Read the whole article here.

Sam’s departure words from Atlanta airport are reminiscent of the Apostle Paul, as he stood at safe harbor and said, “I must go to Rome for the sake of the gospel, whether I am free or bound!” Essentially, Sam looked at the reality on the ground in India, and said, ‘I am willing to be free or bound for the sake of saving orphans.”

He entrusted his wife and boys to the God who does all things well, and then flew to India – facing threats, persecution, intimidation, legal manipulation, and spiritual warfare… all for the sake of the call. He doesn't know for sure if he will see them again, but he is driven to the calling of saving lives: a million orphans in his vision.

God bless you, Sam Thomas! You are in our prayers…

For those of you who want to be a part, offer your prayers today, and consider visiting the new Hopegivers site and making a donation for orphans and leaders.

It will be a small part, a cog in the wheel of integral orphan care and deep sacrifice!

God bless you too, for your care!


Monday, May 28, 2007

A thank you for American sacrifice

The responsibility of liberty

Here’s a special Memorial Day thank you for all those who have offered their lives to defend the far-flung borders of America, to build a rock-solid wall around the freedom we hold so dear.

To those of you who serve and those who have given their lives, thank you! Ironically, your work makes it possible for homeland critics to caricature you… but let not the critics disturb you! [Humor alert: speaking of critics, who knew that Rosie O’Donnell & Khalid Sheikh Mohammad are the same person? Warning, don't eat lunch before looking, lol! Forgive me, Rosie, for laughing, but this is funny! :-)]

And, this is also a tribute for those who use their freedom as God intends: it is you who make it possible for America to continue as a nation in the eyes of God. As the song says, “I believe we will answer each to heaven, for how we live our lives in liberty.”

Liberty brings with it a great responsibility.

We dare not waste it on self-centered lives, lives of bloated comfort and material rule... As the great song says, in prayer, “Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law!”

So for those of you who serve in armed forces, and those of you who serve ‘in the full armor of God,’ helping this nation on the path to redemption and freedom, thank you!

And for those of you who read this, consider reading these poetic words as a prayer, today:

America, the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife.
Who more than self the country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life !
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy purer jubilee!

God bless you this day!


p.s. update: a friend emailed me and asked me to post a caveat on this Memorial Day blog, just to ensure that no one mistakes my support for the idea of America as a blanket approbation for all the actions of America. It's a good point, and perhaps needs to be discussed more fully. All readers should know that I view America through a Providential lens, a lens which declares intent and judgment in the same breath: the cost of liberty is high, and the price of living in liberty is even higher, though far more subtle. The Christian understanding of freedom and liberty is one of obligation -- as Augustine might put it, freedom is the power to do right. Such empowerment carries with it divine demand, which I fully understand! My prayer is for our nation, and individuals within our nation, that we might enter that confirmation of soul "in self-control" and understand that liberty "in [divine] law," whether in the armed forces or not. In this understanding, such Memorial tribute can appreciate without baptizing [or Christianizing] American force. God knows we haven't always been right. And that's just the point: living in the right, the law that frees, takes hard work! I am grateful for those who have successfully walked this line, and strive for that kind of life in my inner person...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Jesus, draw thou nearer

O Jesus, I have promised
Words: John Ernest Bode, 1868
Tune: Llanfyllin

O Jesus, I have promised
to serve thee to the end:
be thou ever near me,
my Master and my friend;
I shall not fear the battle
if thou art by my side,
nor wander from the pathway
if thou wilt be my guide.

O let me feel thee near me!
The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle,
the tempting sounds I hear;
my foes are ever near me,
around me and within;
but Jesus, draw thou nearer,
and shield my soul from sin.

O let me hear thee speaking
in accents clear and still,
above the storms of passion,
the murmurs of self-will;
O speak to reassure me,
to hasten or control;
O speak, and make me listen,
thou guardian of my soul.

O let me see thy features,
the look that once could make
so many a true disciple
leave all things for thy sake:
the look that beamed on Peter
when he thy name denied;
the look that draws thy lovers
close to thy pierced side.

O Jesus, thou hast promised
to all who follow thee,
that where thou art in glory
there shall thy servant be;
and, Jesus I have promised
to serve thee to the end;
O give me grace to follow,
my Master and my friend.

O let me see thy footmarks,
and in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly
is in thy strength alone.
O guide me, call me, draw me,
uphold me to the end;
and then in heaven receive me,
my Savior and my Friend.


Friday, May 25, 2007

You are a present joy, O Lord

A hymn of glory let us sing

Words: The Venerable Bede (673-735)
Tune: Jam lucis orto sidere, Deo gracias

A hymn of glory let us sing,
new hymns throughout the world shall ring;
by a new way none ever trod
Christ takes His place – the throne of God!

You are a present joy, O Lord;
you will be ever our reward;
and great the light in you we see
to guide us to eternity.

O risen Christ, ascended Lord,
all praise to you let earth accord,
who are, while endless ages run,
with Father and with Spirit, One.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Life-giving Spirit, o'er us move

O Holy Ghost, thy people bless

Words: Henry Williams Baker, 1874
Tune: Tallis' Ordinal

O Holy Ghost, thy people bless
who long to feel thy might,
and fain would grow in holiness
as children of the light.

To thee we bring, who art the Lord,
ourselves to be thy throne;
let every thought and deed and word
thy pure dominion own.

Life-giving Spirit, o'er us move,
as on the formless deep;
give life and order, light and love,
where now is death or sleep.

Great Gift of our ascended King,
His saving truth reveal;
our tongues inspire His praise to sing,
our hearts His love to feel.

True Wind of heaven, from south or north,
for joy or chastening, blow;
the garden-spices shall spring forth
if thou wilt bid them flow.

O Holy Ghost, of sevenfold might,
all graces come from thee;
grant us to know and serve aright
one God in Persons Three!


Friday, May 18, 2007

A divine palette

A painted May sky -- depth and range of color: deep blue, lighter blue, faint white and layered pink! The divine Painter's palette is textured indeed! :-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Father, hear us, we are praying

For Our Children

by Amy Carmichael

Father, hear us, we are praying,
Hear the words our hearts are saying;
We are praying for our children.

Keep them from the powers of evil,
From the secret, hidden peril;
Father, hear us for our children.

From the whirlpool that would suck them,
From the treacherous quicksand, pluck them;
Father, hear us for our children.

From the wordling’s hollow gladness,
From the sting of faithless sadness,
Father, Father, keep our children.

Through life’s troubles waters steer them;
Through life’s bitter battle cheer them;
Father, Father, be Thou near them.

Read the language of our longing,
Read the wordless pleadings thronging,
Holy Father, for our children.

And wherever they may bide,
Lead them Home at eventide.


An evocative prayer-poem written by Amy Carmichael -- a woman who bore no children, yet had thousands of children own her -- countless girls in India saved from the carnal jaws of Shiva. For these girls, Amy was more than a mother... for them she was the hands and feet of Christ!

Friday, May 11, 2007

All the paths of the Lord are faithful

All the paths of the Lord are loving and faithful.

Psalm 25:10

All means all

Amy Carmichael

All the paths…

I have pondered this verse lately and found that it feeds my spirit.

All does not mean, “all – except the paths I am walking now,” or “nearly all – except this especially difficult and painful path.” All must mean all.

So, your path with its unexplained sorrow or turmoil, and mine with its sharp flints and briers – and both our paths, with their unexplained perplexity, their sheer mystery – they are His paths, on which He will show himself loving and faithful. Nothing else; nothing less.

I am resting my heart on this word. It bears me up on eagle’s wings. It gives me courage and song and sweetness, too – that sweetness of spirit which is death to lose even for a half-hour.

I remember in times past almost desperately repeating to myself these lines, written as though spoken from the lips of our Lord:

Am I not enough, My own –
not enough for you?
Am I not enough, My own –
I, forever and alone,
I, needing you?

It was a long time before I could honestly answer, “Yes, you alone are enough for me.” I remember the turmoil of soul that I experienced before committing myself to follow Him on whatever path He would lead – remember as if it were yesterday. But at last – oh the rest that came to me when I lifted up my head and followed! For in acceptance there lies peace.

God bless you and utter satisfy your heart… with himself.


My Father, you alone… you yourself are enough for me.

No matter what path you lead me on today, it is not strange and unknown to you…

Only let me go with your presence!


Amy Carmichael, Candles in the Dark, p. 46.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

All nature sings and round me rings

This is my Father's world

Words: Maltbie D. Babcock
Tune: Terra Beata

This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas,
His hands the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world:
He shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father's world,
O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:
the battle is not done,
Jesus, who died, shall be satisfied,
and earth and heaven be one!

Monday, May 07, 2007

By the waters still my soul

Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is His name!

Amos 5:8

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what am I that you are mindful of me,
a mere human, that you care for me?
O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8:3-4, 9

My heart will trust

I'll walk closer now
On the higher way…
Through the darkest night
Will You hold my hand?
Jesus guide my way

O You mourn with me
And You dance with me
For my heart of hearts
Is bound to you…

Though I walk through valleys low
I'll fear no evil –
By the waters still my soul,
My heart will trust in You!

My heart will trust in You
O You counsel me and You comfort me
When I cannot see You light my path…

My heart will trust in You, Lord!

My heart will trust in You!


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Thoughts between daughter and Father VI

A silent song

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?
Deep calls to deep…
By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life!

Psalm 42:5, 7-8

The daughter greatly wished to make a “Song of Lovely Things,” to sing to her Beloved – but she could not find the singing-words.

She heard the voice of her Beloved saying,
“You are walking a road where all who love Me walk. Some of them walked this way singing, and they’ve left their songs behind them. Find their songs. Sing their words. They will be your song to Me.”

But the daughter became full of grief, because there came a day when she could find to words to sing – neither her own, nor those of others. And yet she wanted with all her heart and soul and mind to ascend to higher places, to stand in the presence of her Beloved…

And He who is love eternal whispered,
“Then I, too, will approach you, silent in my love.”

And the daughter entered into this silence, to meet the eternal Beloved there…

And after a while there was a sound in the gentle stillness, a voice that whispered,
“Even your silence is, to Me, a song of lovely things…”


My Father, there are reasons why I could feel downcast. When I think about some parts of my life it’s hard to pray – even harder to worship in freedom…
…relationships that are difficult…
…dreams and goals that are crumbling…
…old hurts that wound me over and over…

Some parts of me feel cold and wordless…

Is the problem that I’ve buried some things deep inside? Are you patiently calling – through days and months – for me to open up to you at some deeper level?

Today, Father, I trust you to go deeper.


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!