Sunday, September 30, 2007

You have spoken, yours the fullness

Lord, we hear your word with gladness

Words: Margaret Clarkson

Tune: Blaenwern

Lord, we hear your word with gladness:
you have spoken we rejoice:
words of love and life and freedom
help us make their truth our choice!
Now in holy celebration
for your Word we worship you;
spoken, written, known in Jesus,
ours today to prove anew.

May we hear with understanding,
by your Spirit taught and led;
may the springs of all our being
by your living Word be fed;
may our hearts accept with meekness
all the grace your light makes known;
may obedience mark our footsteps
till we make each word our own!

You have spoken; yours the fullness,
ours the wealth of this your Word:
debtors, then as living letters,
we must make our gospel heard!
By your Spirit's power transform us;
shed your saving light abroad
till our lives by love in action
show our world the truth of God!


Thursday, September 27, 2007

A divine spotlight

Ever notice how God's light shows are the best? :-) Here's a spotlight, several billion candlepower strong, lighting up the dancing Florida sky -- light and dark, clouds and sun in a stunning evening display! Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A light in the western sky

Here is another pic from Florida. I love how the gradient blue of the sky and the reflected blue of the water pull the eyes to the pink of the western sky, and setting sun. The gentle contour of the trees and the lush, darkening green of the grass only accentuate the distant pull... this has it all: landscape and painted skyscape, gloaming beauty! Enjoy!

That my whole being may proclaim

Fill thou my life, O Lord my God

Words: Horatius Bonar, 1866
Tune: Richmond

Fill thou my life, O Lord my God,
in every part with praise,
that my whole being may proclaim
thy being and thy ways.

Not for the lip of praise alone,
nor e'en the praising heart
I ask, but for a life made up
of praise in every part!

Praise in the common things of life,
its goings out and in;
praise in each duty and deed,
however small and mean.

Fill every part of me with praise;
let all my being speak
of thee and of thy love, O Lord,
poor though I be, and weak.

So shalt thou, Lord, from me, e'en me,
receive the glory due;
and so shall I begin on earth
the song forever new.

So shall each fear, each fret, each care
be turned into a song,
and every winding of the way
the echo shall prolong;

So shall no part of day or night
from sacredness be free;
but all my life, in every step
be fellowship with thee!


Friday, September 21, 2007

A paradox and promise of beauty

A flight into the storm

As the plane edged the advancing wall of a storm, the beauty was apparent – in paradox. The darkness, the tension, the clouds only added to the picture… and here I began to meditate on the relation between conflict and beauty.

Think of someone truly beautiful… think of that person you most admire, whose beauty goes far beyond form to spirit. Now, is that not a person who has come through great conflict, in faithfulness?

Now, think of a kind of beauty that is trustless, whimsical and sickening: think of the false beauty of the Hollywood set, the fakeness of celebrity beauty… something that sickens and kills the spirit, the person gives up something inside to gain and promote that kind of beauty. And what is this person’s relation to conflict? How have they reacted differently in it – if they’ve had much at all?

So, my mind thought of true beauty and the storm, how some people only grow in spirit through the trial, dark clouds only framing the true attractiveness of person. Consider with me this paradox!

What is the relation between ashes and beauty?
What is the connection between mourning and the anointing of joy?
What is the correlation between spirit heaviness and praise?

For these things are linked… these things are linked in the destiny of Messiah, in an image of such beauty that breaks the heart into wholeness: redemption beauty! Our Lord takes the former and gives the latter; and yet, His children know the former… daughters of beauty, sons of destiny, they know the prior conflict!

And so, consider, what does God consider beauty?

Here, He says, “This man has an excellent spirit in him!” There, He says, “Strength and honor are her clothing, and she shall rejoice in the time to come!”

Then, this text came to mind, of what pleases the Almighty:

He is not impressed by the might of a horse,
He has no pleasure in human strength;
But the Lord has pleasure in those who fear Him,
in those who await His gracious favor.

Ah! And here is the center of the paradox: what does it mean to await His gracious favor, unless it be waiting through conflict, waiting through mourning, waiting through spirit heaviness, waiting through the ashes!

Here is the relation between conflict and beauty: darkness is the crucible of beauty as surely as diamonds are from depths of incredible pressure. Here there is danger, as in everywhere… and yet we confess, as children, “He knows the way that I take, and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold!”

He has a plan, and it is not to harm, but only to give a future and a hope!

Here is the end of the matter, beauty in its fruition through conflict:

And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations. Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the foreigner shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But you shall be named the priests of the LORD, they shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory you shall boast. Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs.

“For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, and will make with them an everlasting covenant. Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people. All who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the posterity whom the LORD has blessed."

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness – as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations!


To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor

A Song of the Lord's Anointed

Isaiah 61:1-3,11,6a

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
because He has anointed me.

He has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
to comfort all who mourn,

To give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit,

That they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

For as the earth puts forth her blossom,
and as seeds in the garden spring up,

So shall the Lord God make righteousness and praise
blossom before all the nations.

You shall be called priests of the Lord
they shall speak of you as ministers of our God!


Come, claim the promise spoken!

From all the wind's wide quarters

Words: Timothy Dudley-Smith
Tune: Es flog ein kleins Waldvögelein

From all the wind's wide quarters,
come, see the feast is spread,
of soul-sustaining waters,
of true and living bread;
of sorrows long-departed,
and joys beyond compare –
come, poor and humble-hearted,
the feast of life to share!

With mercy all-prevailing,
God bids the wanderer come;
in grace and peace unfailing
invites the children home.
With loving-kindness tender,
God frees us from our sins –
in glory and in splendor
the feast of life begins!

Come, claim the promise spoken!
God's purpose stands secure.
The fruitful word unbroken
shall evermore endure.
All ancient bondage ended
to sin's corrupting powers –
forgiven, freed, befriended,
the feast of life is ours!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A trinity of light

Here's a neat photo from the weekend in FL... the last rays of the sun highlight three distant clouds in pink, rays flowing from each cloud upward into flowing bluescale clouds... and to the right of the shining clouds stands a formed angel or dove: mystic, beautiful sign of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the beauty of their creation -- almost like the Shekinah glory of the Ark of the Covenant, guarded by the cherubim! One God in Three, dancing in light of all that He has made, attended by worshiping creatures! I took this pic in awe: the moment beyond beauty... to describe it fails utterly of the wonder. Enjoy! :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Christ is thy strength and Christ thy right

Fight the good fight with all thy might

Words: John Samuel Bewley Monsell, Jr., 1860
Tune: Pentecost

Fight the good fight with all thy might,
Christ is thy strength and Christ thy right;
lay hold on life, and it shall be
thy joy and crown eternally.

Run the straight race, through God's good grace,
lift up thine eyes and seek his face;
life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the path and Christ the prize.

Cast care aside, lean on thy Guide;
His boundless mercy will provide;
trust, and thy trusting soul shall prove
Christ is its life and Christ its love.

Faint not nor fear, His arms are near;
He changeth not, and thou art dear;
only believe, and thou shalt see
that Christ is all in all to thee!


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A word of joy in trial

If you remain in me and my words in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you… I have told you this, so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

John 15:7, 11

Your Joy

“…your joy.”

A strange word to come from God, considering the circumstance, but it was the first that came to me…

I had never thought that I would be confined to a bed all day long. I expected always to be strengthened, so that I could either ignore or tread under foot any bodily illness, and [having earnestly prayed for this] to pass straight from the midst of problems without giving anyone a moment’s trouble.

What has happened, then, is strange to my nature. The shining happiness I experienced, through months when my will-power could do nothing to conquer pain [and it could not simply be ignored], was not natural. It was one of those surprises from our heavenly Lover, who never tires of giving us surprises.

This word came to me the morning after the accident. I experienced a terrible fall in the little Indian town called Joyous City, where some of us had gone to prepare for two missionaries from our group who were about to move there. The fall broke a bone, dislocated an ankle, and caused other internal hurts much harder to heal.

We made the difficult night drive of forty-six [Indian] miles back to our mission base, and by the time we arrived, the effects of the merciful painkiller were beginning to wear off. It was then, as if through a haze, I heard our chief nurse saying something about wishing to take the pain from me – and I knew she meant that she wanted to bear the pain herself, in my stead.

That was when I heard myself spontaneously answer, “Your joy, no one takes away…”

It was like echoing aloud something heard deep within me. I did not recognize it as a Scripture verse, only that it was a certain and heavenly word given to me – truly a word of peace, even exultation! I could see our whole missionary “family,” each one wanting to bear the pain for me. Yet because of the intense comfort of that word, I was glad and grateful that it was impossible for them to do so.

And now, so that you may know why I humbly venture to write to those who know so much more of the awful, trampling power of pain than I do, I will tell you how it was that I thought to write all I have learned.

One day, after many, many nights when, in spite of all that was done to induce sleep, it refused to come [except in brief snatches], I received a letter from a friend. It went on at some length, with what sounded almost like pleasure, about my “enforced rest,” and the silly phrase rankled me like a thorn. I was far too exhausted to laugh it off, as one can laugh off things when one feels well.

So this was supposed to be rest?

And was the Father breaking, crushing, “enforcing” by weight of sheer physical misery, a child who only longed to obey His slightest wish? These words – “enforced rest” – had what I now know was an absurd power to distress me. They held such an unkind, such a false conception of our Father.

Until the moment I’d read these words – although I was puzzled about my accident – I’d had not one unhappy minute or inner restlessness, and that was because I had been given peace in acceptance. The spirit can live above the flesh, and mine, helped by the tender love of our Lord Jesus and the dearness of those around me, had done so.

But the moment I read these words of “comfort,” and for a long while after, it was different. I had no peace. Not until I heard deep within me soft and soothing words again, such as a mother uses: “Let not your heart be troubled. Don’t you know that I understand what you are suffering? What do people’s words matter to Me, or to you?”

And I knew once again that the Father understood His child, and the child her Father…

I will share my crumb of comfort: Do not be weighted down with loose words. Do not expect your peace to come from human mouths. And do not allow the ignorant stock phrases of the “well” to the “ill” to break your shield. How can they, the unwounded, know anything about the matter?

But the Lord our Creator knows! And all who have suffered know: Pain and helplessness are not “rest” and never can be; nor is the weakness that follows acute pain; nor is the great tiredness of inner weariness – tired of being inwardly tired. These things are poles apart from true rest.

Our Father knows our rest is only found in receiving a sense of well-being – a well-being that, no matter what our circumstances, is like the sense one has after a gallop on horseback, or a plunge in a forest or the glorious sea… He knows it! He created us, so can the Creator ever forget? If He remembers what true rest is, what does it matter that others forget?

Thus, we can be comforted and filled with His gift, an inward sweetness. And we can thank Him even when others trample unawares upon us, talking loose, easy nothings.


My Father, you know the things that weigh me down… hurtful words… crushing circumstances…

I will be grateful when others offer me faulty, superficial words. I will listen only for your words, and let my spirit rest in the assurance that comes from your every whisper to me…


Amy Carmichael, Rose from Brier: 1

Sunday, September 09, 2007

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds

John Newton, 1779

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
in a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
and drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
and calms the troubled breast;
'tis manna to the hungry soul,
and to the weary, rest.

Dear Name, the rock on which I build,
my shield and hiding-place,
my never-failing treasury, filled
with boundless stores of grace!

Jesus! my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,
my Prophet, Priest and King,
my Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
and cold my warmest thought;
but when I see thee as thou art,
I'll praise thee as I ought.

Till then I would thy love proclaim
with every fleeting breath;
and may the music of thy Name
refresh my soul in death!


Thursday, September 06, 2007

A timely reminder...

Take time

Take time to think...
It is the source of power.

Take time to play...
It is the source of eternal youth.

Take time to read...
It is the fountain of wisdom.

Take time to pray...
It is the greatest power on earth.

Take time to love and be loved...
It is a God-given privilege.

Take time to be friendly...
It is the road to happiness.

Take time to give...
It is too short a day to be selfish.

Take time to work...
It is the price of success.

Take time to re-create...
It builds a scrapbook of memories.

Take time for God...
It turns time into eternity!