Thursday, August 30, 2007

An August wind in cattails and sky

Can you see the edge of the advancing storm? Here the sun shines brightly on high clouds and cattails, but the gusting wind and deeper blue signal an approaching summer storm. Sun, wind, sky and storm converge in a camera moment: in art, as in life, conflict often only increases the opportunity for beauty -- but one must appreciate the potential and frame it properly! :-) enjoy!

A soul that enters into iron

Don’t be deceived my brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so, through Him, the “Amen” is spoken by us, to the glory of God.

James 1:16-17; 2 Cor. 1:20

Wishes that become clouds

Amy Carmichael

I had asked the doctor how long it would be before I could get back to my work. He said I must be in splints for eight weeks, and I had taken this to mean I would be well in eight weeks. [And even that time looked like eight years to look forward to.]

I never dreamt of what really lay ahead…

For some days the pain was dulled; then it came on with a severity that was to last for many weeks [and in one form or another, for months]. Then came a day when I was opened to a new and deeper experience of the Lord’s presence with me.

It began when I read a heretofore not much noticed word, from Psalm 105:18. Speaking of Joseph, the psalmist writes, “[his] feet they hurt with fetters; he was laid in iron.” Curious, I looked up this verse in a Greek translation of the Hebrew text, where a commentator rendered a different view of this scripture: “Joseph’s soul entered into iron – entered, whole and entire in its desire to obey God, into the cruel torture.”

My soul was not in “cruel torture,” but my foot was badly hurt. And as I lay there, unable to move, it came to me that what was asked of Joseph [in a far greater degree] was asked of me now. Would I merely “endure it,” praying for the grace not to make too much over my poor circumstances? Or would my soul willingly enter into the iron of this new and difficult experience?

There could only be one answer to that. And when on the following Sunday evening a word was given from Philippians 1:13 – “My bonds in Christ” – I knew that all was well indeed…

So there could be nothing but peaceful acceptance. And when one accepts, then all that is included in the thing accepted is accepted too – in my case, the helplessness, the limitations, the disappointments of hope deferred, the suffering.

I now know this is important in keeping our spiritual atmosphere clear. For if we let even a fugitive wisp of a cloud float across our sky [in the form of a wish – that is, a wistful thought that things were different!] then the whole sweet blue of our spirit is swiftly overcast.

But if we refuse that wisp of cloud…! If we look up and meet the love of the Lord that shines down on us, and say to Him about that particular detail of the trial, “Dear Lord, yes…”

Then in one moment, our sky is blue again.


My Father, I will say – no matter what shadows of circumstance blow my way – you are my Father of Lights. Coming down from heaven are good and perfect gifts to me…

All the promises of your love and goodness are still… Yes! and Amen!



Amy Carmichael, Rose from Brier: 2

Thursday, August 23, 2007

An August glimpse of God's handwriting

The colors of the sky were in pastel tonight, and the twilight clouds painted mystic signs on the pale blue canvas... hopeful portent here unfurled above flowering field and darkening trees: awesome, August beauty!

Crown, O God, thine own endeavor

Judge eternal, throned in splendor

Words: Henry S. Holland, 1902, alt.
Tune: Komm, O komm, du Geist des Lebens

Judge eternal, throned in splendor,
Lord of lords and King of kings,
with thy living fire of judgment
purge this land of bitter things;
solace all its wide dominion
with the healing of thy wings.

Still the weary folk are pining
for the hour that brings release,
and the city's crowded clangor
cries aloud for sin to cease;
and the homesteads and the woodlands
plead in silence for their peace.

Crown, O God, thine own endeavor;
cleave our darkness with thy sword;
feed all those who do not know thee
with the richness of thy word;
cleanse the body of this nation
through the glory of the Lord.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

O hope of every contrite heart

Jesus, the very thought of thee

Words: Bernard of Clairvaux, twelfth century;
trans. Edward Caswall, 1849
Tune: Windsor (Rhythmic)

Jesus, the very thought of thee
with sweetness fills the breast;
but sweeter far thy face to see,
and in thy presence rest.

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
nor can the memory find,
a sweeter sound than Jesus' Name,
the Savior of mankind.

O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
to those who fall, how kind thou art:
how good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah, this
nor tongue nor pen can show;
the love of Jesus, what it is,
none but who love Him know.

Jesus, our only joy be thou,
as thou our prize wilt be;
in thee be all our glory now,
and through eternity.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

The hardest, gladdest thing in the world

The freedom cry of recognition: Father!

The hardest, gladdest thing in the world is, to cry Abba, Father! from a full heart. I would help whom I may to call thus upon the Father...

The refusal to look up to God as our Father is the one central wrong in the whole human affair. The inability to do so is our one central misery. Whatever serves to clear any difficulty from the way of the recognition of the Father will more or less undermine every difficulty in life.

George MacDonald

Once for our salvation slain

Lo! He comes, with clouds descending

Written by John Cennick in 1752, altered by Charles Wesley in 1758, and then altered by Martin Madan in 1760.

Tune: Helmsley

Lo! He comes, with clouds descending,
once for our salvation slain;
thousand thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
Christ the Lord returns to reign.

Every eye shall now behold Him,
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at nought and sold Him,
pierced, and nailed Him to the tree,
deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
shall the true Messiah see.

Those dear tokens of His passion
still His dazzling body bears,
cause of endless exultation
to His ransomed worshipers;
with what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture
gaze we on those glorious scars!

Now redemption, long expected,
see in solemn pomp appear;
all His saints, by man rejected,
now shall meet Him in the air:
Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
See the day of God appear!

Yea, amen! let all adore thee,
high on thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory;
claim the kingdom for thine own:
Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
Thou shalt reign, and thou alone.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

An August view from a signal tower

I climbed up in a railroad signal tower to take this panoramic scene... only from the height could the curve of the distant hills and trees be seen -- oh the heights I'll go for the sake of fine art! :-) Here is clover in the closest field, framed by tasseled corn and then distant trees in mottled green, vaulted by gradient blue sky... nature sensing harvest and the hint of looming autumn! Enjoy!

A philosophy which cannot be learned by syllogisms

Prayer: Seeking of Him what we have learned to be in Him

John Calvin

We clearly see how completely destitute man is of all good, how devoid of every means of procuring his own salvation. Hence, if he would obtain succour in his necessity, he must go beyond himself, and procure it in some other quarter.

It has farther been shown that the Lord kindly and spontaneously manifests himself in Christ, in whom He offers all happiness for our misery, all abundance for our want, opening up the treasures of heaven to us, so that we may turn with full faith to His beloved Son, depend upon Him with full expectation, rest in Him, and cleave to him with full hope.

This, indeed, is that secret and hidden philosophy which cannot be learned by syllogisms: a philosophy thoroughly understood by those whose eyes God has so opened as to see light in his light [Ps. 36:9]. But after we have learned by faith to know that whatever is necessary for us or defective in us is supplied in God and in our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom it hath pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell, that we may thence draw as from an inexhaustible fountain, it remains for us to seek and in prayer implore of Him what we have learned to be in Him.

To know God as the sovereign disposer of all good, inviting us to present our requests, and yet not to approach or ask of Him, were so far from availing us, that it were just as if one told of a treasure were to allow it to remain buried in the ground. Hence the Apostle, to show that a faith unaccompanied with prayer to God cannot be genuine, states this to be the order: As faith springs from the Gospel, so by faith our hearts are framed to call upon the name of God [Rom. 10:14].

And this is the very thing which he had expressed some time before, viz., that the Spirit of sonship, which seals the testimony of the Gospel on our hearts, gives us courage to make our requests known unto God, calls forth groanings which cannot be uttered, and enables us to cry, Abba, Father! [Rom. 8:26].

John Calvin, Prayer -- A Perpetual Exercise of Faith: The Benefits Derived From It

Friday, August 10, 2007

A constancy in battle

"What counts in battle is what you do once the pain sets in." -- John Short

But the helm of her secrecy had fallen from her, and her bright hair, released from its bonds, gleamed with pale gold upon her shoulders. Her eyes grey as the sea were hard and fell, and yet tears were on her cheek. A sword was in her hand, and she raised her shield against the horror of her enemy's eyes...

She should not die, so fair, so desperate! At least she should not die alone, unaided...

Suddenly the great beast beat its hideous wings, and the wind of them was foul. Again it leaped into the air, and then fell swiftly down upon Eowyn, shrieking, striking with beak and claw.

Still she did not blench: maiden of the Rohirrim, child of kings, slender but as a steel-blade, fair yet terrible. A swift stroke she dealt, skilled and deadly. The outstretched neck she clove asunder, and the hewn head fell like a stone. Backward she sprang as the huge shape crashed to ruin, vast wings outspread, crumpled on the earth; and with its fall the shadow passed away. A light fell about her, and her hair shone in the sunrise...

-- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Thursday, August 09, 2007

All flesh is like grass...

A divine perspective: grassy humor!

Imagine the conversation The Creator might have had with St. Francis on the subject of lawns.

GOD: FRANCIS, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there in the USA? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle, and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect,no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought, and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees, and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, God. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds, and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Supreme Being. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it, sometimes twice a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they then bail it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS: No, God, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now let me get this straight: they fertilize grass so it will grow; and when it does grow, they cut it off, and then they pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS: Yes, Creator.

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS: You aren't going to believe this. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. They use carbon monoxide and release oxygen. In the Autumn, their leaves fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.

ST. FRANCIS: You'd better sit down, God. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD: Enough. I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE: "Dumb and Dumber," God. It's a real dumb movie about...

GOD: Never mind. I think I just heard the whole story from St.Francis!


lol. smile! Hat tip to Trish Milburn and a great post!

A journey from children to sons and daughters

The telos of calling God Abba

George MacDonald

It comes to this then, after the grand theory of the apostle: The world exists for our education. It is the nursery of God’s children served by troubled slaves, troubled because the children are themselves slaves—children, but not good children. Beyond its own will or knowledge, the whole creation works for the development of the children of God into the sons of God.

When at last the children have arisen and gone to their Father, when they are clothed in the best robe with a ring on their hands and shoes on their feet, when they are shining out at length in their natural and predestined sonship, then shall the mountains and the hills break forth before them into singing. Then shall all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb, and the leopard lie down with the kid and the calf, and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. Then shall the fables of a golden age, which faith invented, and unbelief threw into the past, unfold their essential reality, and the tale of paradise prove itself a truth by becoming a fact.

Then shall every ideal reveal itself a necessity, all aspiration although satisfied put forth yet longer wings, and the hunger after righteousness know itself blessed, because truth is at last revealed in its fullness, not as the opinion of any man, but as the Truth that is in God himself.


George MacDonald, “Abba, Father!” Unspoken Sermons Series Two, in Your Life in Christ: The Nature of God and His Work in Human Hearts, edited by Michael Phillips.

Monday, August 06, 2007

And death, accepted, proves love true

Transfigured Christ, none comprehends

Words: Alan Gaunt

Tune: Brockham

Transfigured Christ, none comprehends
your majesty, whose splendor stuns
all waking souls; whose light transcends
the brightness of a thousand suns!

You stand with Moses on the hill,
you speak of your new exodus.
The way through death you will fulfill
by dying helpless on the cross.

You stand here with Elijah too,
by whom the still small voice was heard;
and you, yourself, will prove God true,
made mute in death, incarnate Word.

If we could bear your brightness here
and stay forever in your light,
then we would conquer grief and fear,
and scorn the terrors of the night.

But, from the heights, you bring us down
to share earth's agonies with you,
where piercing thorns are made your crown
and death, accepted, proves love true.

Majestic Christ, God's well-loved Son,
if we must share your grief and loss,
transfigure us, when all is done,
with glory shining from your cross!


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Thoughts between daughter and Father VII

He allows me to hunger

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water…

My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you!

Psalm 63:1, 5

The daughter found herself in a barren place.

Her Father said,

“In this place I will give you the peace you are longing for. Here I will give you spiritual food that will nourish you. You are always with Me – no matter what the circumstances – and all that I have is yours.”

Then the Father, with great gentleness, drew the daughter to himself. Quietly, He said,

“I am the One who allowed you to come into these humbling circumstances, and allowed you to hunger. I did this so that I might feed you with manna – My bread from heaven! Only in this way could I help you to know that you cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from My mouth.”

The daughter said, “Give me this bread always!”

And when she grew thirsty, she learned to cry, “The light of Your face is my life!”

Later still, the daughter wondered why one like herself, who is so richly fed and cared for at times, should at other times feel so poor and needy and thirsty.

Her Father replied by asking four questions:

“Can someone who has never thirsted know how precious is My living water?

“Can someone who has never discovered rivers of these living waters flowing on barren heights – can she ever lead a thirsty friend to those rivers?

“Can someone who has never walked the valleys of the spirit help a friend who is fainting – or lead this friend to the well-springs that will save the life of the soul?

“Can someone who has never seen burning sands in the wilderness turn into a refreshing pool – can she speak in praise of My marvels, or My power?”



My Father, please help me to trust you in the barren place. Help me to be faithful to you in the valleys of my spirit, so that I might learn well how to bring others through this barren path. Above all, help me to see you, always with me, no matter what the test...

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 for this day, this trial, this prayer... in Jesus' name I pray.


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!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

He guides the eagle through the pathless air

My Heavenly Father Watches Over Me

W.C. Martin, 1902

I trust in God, wherever I may be,
Upon the land or on the rolling sea.
For, come what may, from day to day
My heav'nly Father watches over me

I trust in God, I know He cares for me
On mountain bleak, or on the stormy sea.
Tho' billows roll, He keeps my soul
My heav'nly Father watches over me

He makes the rose, an object of His care
He guides the eagle, through the pathless air
And surely He remembers me
My heav'nly Father watches over me

I trust in God, I know He cares for me
On mountain bleak, or on the stormy sea.
Tho' billows roll, He keeps my soul
My heav'nly Father watches over me

I trust in God, I know He cares for me.
On mountain bleak, or on the stormy sea.
Tho' billows roll, He keeps my soul
My heav'nly Father watches over me!