Tuesday, December 23, 2008

O the strength of infant weakness, if eternal is so young!

Where is this stupendous stranger?

Words: Christopher Smart (1722-1771), alt.
Tune: Rustington

Where is this stupendous stranger?
Prophets, shepherds, kings, advise.
Lead me to my Master's manger,
show me where my Savior lies.
O Most Mighty! O Most Holy!
Far beyond the seraph's thought:
art thou then so weak and lowly
as unheeded prophets taught?

O the magnitude of meekness!
Worth from worth immortal sprung;
O the strength of infant weakness,
if eternal is so young!
God all-bounteous, all-creative,
whom no ills from good dissuade,
is incarnate, and a native
of the very world He made.



Friday, December 19, 2008

A Pennsylvania sense of Advent

Snow in the air, muted woods and stark cattails: all creation waits for the One who will come! We wait in silent anticipation in the glory and gloom of our lives. the day will dawn clear! Alleluia! Enjoy.

True man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us

Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming

Words: tanzas 1-2: German, fifteenth century carol; trans. Theodore Baker, 1894. stanzas 3-4: Friedrich Layritz (1808-1859); trans. Harriet Reynolds Krauth (1845-1925).
Tune: Es ist ein Ros

Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming
from tender stem hath sprung!
of Jesse's lineage coming,
as those of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright,
amid the cold of winter,
when half spent was the night.

Isaiah 'twas foretold it,
the Rose I have in mind;
with Mary we behold it,
the Virgin Mother kind.
To show God's love aright,
she bore to us a Savior,
when half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story
proclaimed by angels bright,
how Christ, the Lord of glory
was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped
and in the manger they found him,
as angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender
with sweetness fills the air,
dispels with glorious splendor
the darkness everywhere;
true man, yet very God,
from sin and death he saves us,
and lightens every load.



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fire our hearts with thy strong love

High Word of God, who once didst come

Words: Latin, tenth century; trans. Charles Bigg, 1906
Tune: Verbum supernum prodiens

High Word of God, who once didst come,
leaving thy Father and thy home,
to succor by thy birth our kind,
when, towards thy advent, time declined,

Pour light upon us from above,
and fire our hearts with thy strong love,
that, as we hear thy Gospel read,
all fond desires may flee in dread;

That when thou comest from the skies,
great Judge, to open thine assize,
to give each hidden sin its smart,
and crown as kings the pure in heart,

We be not set at thy left hand,
where sentence due would bid us stand,
but with the saints thy face may see,
forever wholly loving thee.

Praise to the Father and the Son,
through all the ages as they run;
and to the holy Paraclete
be praise with them and worship meet.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A late autumn advent scene

Florida has seasons -- not as pronounced as further north, but enjoyable just the same. Some trees lose their leaves, turning rusty shades of brown and red... and the light -- ah, the light! The light is that advent light of long rays and textured colors: there is no light like advent light! Here, a beautiful scene that captures the late autumn advent sense: trees and light and color and texture. Plus, the imagery of the walkway to the sky, truly an advent sense of the journey to God! Welcome, Abba, welcome Jesus! Selah. Enjoy!

Blessed are the eyes that see this heavenly light

How beauteous are their feet

Words: Isaac Watts, 1707
Music: Camberwell (Cambridge)

How beauteous are their feet
who stand on Zion's hill
who bring salvation on their tongues
and words of peace reveal!

How charming is their voice!
How sweet the tidings are!
Zion, behold, thy Savior King
he reigns and triumphs here.

How happy are our ears
that hear this joyful sound
which kings and prophets waited for
and sought, but never found.

How blessed are our eyes
that see this heavenly light
Prophets and kings desired it long
but died without the sight.

The watchmen join their voice
and tuneful notes employ
Jerusalem breaks forth in songs
and deserts learn the joy.

The Lord makes bare his arm
through all the earth abroad
let every nation now behold
their Savior and their God.



Bethlehem: The inbreaking of light

Where love breaks in

Eberhard Arnold

This is what happens when God’s power breaks in: darkness is cast out. The power of evil spirits is broken and driven away. The Holy Spirit creates a pure atmosphere, one of unity and of peace.

The little stable in Bethlehem was a place where God’s love broke in. While on earth, Jesus expected God’s kingdom to break in. His expectation was that light must break in upon this darkened earth. He saw that death had heaped up a barrier so that light could not come into life on earth. Therefore he sacrificed his life so that in the area of death an opening might be made; so that there might be a rift in the layer of gloomy fog around the earth – an opening through which the light of God could come in. If a house has even only one window where the sun shines in, it can no longer be dark inside the house.

If Jesus opens a breach in death then God’s kingdom comes down to this earth. This was the faith that the early Christian church had when they waited for the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They were determined to wait until the flame of the Spirit, like the star over Bethlehem, should come down at this one place. And this did happen; it came.

From the place where a stream enters, it pours out into the entire world. Where love breaks in, all other forces yield. Jesus was victorious on the cross, not by a greater force, but by a greater power – the power of love – in comparison with which all force is nothing. No human force is able to achieve anything in comparison to the power of love.

The birth of Jesus is the in-breaking of the power of love.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Florida autumn and Advent light

The seasons do change here in Florida. The light changes, the temperature, and even some leaves... some trees lose their leaves, turning in color, and some critters change their habits. Here's one of many recent pictures of Florida beauty in late autumn. Advent light! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A roadway in the wilderness

A favorite photo that captures the sense of the Season: the Journey of Advent!

God will make a way

By a roadway in the wilderness He leads me;
Rivers in the desert will I see.
Heaven and earth will fade,

But His word will still remain.

He will do something new today!

God will make a way
When there seems to be no way.

He works in ways, we cannot see,

He will make a way for me.

He will be my guide,

Hold me closely to His side.

With love and strength,
for each new day,

He will make a way,

He will make a way.


Advent means hope! :-)

Tell her that her sins I cover

Comfort, comfort ye my people

Words: Johann G. Olearius, 1671; trans. Catherine Winkworth, 1863
Music: Psalm 42

Comfort, comfort ye my people,
speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning 'neath their sorrow's load;
speak ye to Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover,
and her warfare now is over.

For the herald's voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
bidding all men to repentance,
since the kingdom now is here.
O that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way!
Let the valleys rise to meet him,
and the hills bow down to greet him.

Make ye straight what long was crooked,
make the rougher places plain:
let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits his holy reign,
For the glory of the Lord
now o'er the earth is shed abroad,
and all flesh shall see the token
that his word is never broken.



Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Pennsylvania field at twilight

This week was the opening of buck season in PA... I was there by proxy through my brother, and these scenes of the fields and woods came to mind. Here is a scene of a field at twilight... this is a staple of hunting days, early light of pre-dawn and late light of twilight, fields tinted in grey and gloaming, woods a barest hint of wonder and promise. Enjoy!

Those unfading flowers round the throne of God

Those eternal bowers, man hath never trod

Words: John of Damascus, eighth century; trans. John Mason Neale, 1862
Tune: St. Alban's

Those eternal bowers, man hath never trod,
those unfading flowers round the throne of God:
who may hope to gain them after weary fight?
who at length attain them, clad in robes of white?

He who wakes from slumber at the Spirit's voice,
daring here to number things unseen his choice:
he who casts his burden down at Jesus' cross--
Christ' reproach his guerdon, all beside but loss.

He who gladly barters all on earthly ground;
he who, like the martyrs, says "I will be crowned;"
he whose one oblation is a life of love,
knit in God's salvation to the blest above.

Shame upon you, legions of the heavenly King,
citizens of regions past imagining!
Why with pipe and tabor waste the hours of light,
when he bids you labor, when he tells you, "Fight"?

Jesus, Lord of glory, as we breast the tide,
whisper thou the story of the other side;
where the saints are casting crowns before thy feet,
safe for everlasting, in thyself complete!


Monday, December 01, 2008

Waiting with mingled hope and fear

Earth was waiting, spent and restless

Words: W.C. Smith (1824-1908)
Tune: Picardy

Earth was waiting, spent and restless,
with a mingled hope and fear,
faithful men and women praying,
"Surely, Lord, the day is near:
the Desire of all the nations --
it is time He should appear!"

Then the Spirit of the Highest
to a Virgin meek came down,
and He burdened her with blessing,
and He pained her with renown;
for she bore the Lord's Anointed
for His cross and for His crown.

Earth has groaned and labored for Him
since the ages first began,
for in Him was hid the secret
which through all the ages ran --
Son of Mary, Son of David,
Son of God, and Son of Man.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving gold: All which God doth touch and own

Teach me, my God and King

Words: George Herbert, 1633
Music: 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.


A city that cannot be shaken

A giving of thanks and acceptable worship

Hebrews 12:22-24a, 28, 29

We have come before God's holy mountain,
to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.
We have come before countless angels making festival,
before the assembly of the firstborn citizens of heaven.
We have come before God, who is judge of all,
before the spirits of the just made perfect.
We have come before Jesus,
the mediator of the new covenant.
We are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken:
so let us give thanks and offer to God acceptable worship,
Full of reverence and awe;
for our God is a consuming fire.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving vista: Thy noblest wonders here we view

The heavens declare thy glory, Lord

Words: Isaac Watts, 1719

Music: Alfreton

The heavens declare thy glory, Lord,

in every star thy wisdom shines

but when our eyes behold thy Word,
we read thy Name in fairer lines.

Sun, moon, and stars convey thy praise

round the whole earth, and never stand:
so when thy truth begun its race,
it touched and glanced on every land.

Nor shall thy spreading Gospel rest

till through the world thy truth has run,
till Christ has all the nations blest

that see the light or feel the sun.

Great Sun of Righteousness, arise,

bless the dark world with heavenly light;

thy Gospel makes the simple wise,
thy laws are pure, thy judgments right.

Thy noblest wonders here we view

in souls renewed and sins forgiven;
Lord, cleanse my sins, my soul renew,

and make thy word my guide to heaven.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Lord, you have loved me first

My Lord, I did not choose you

Josiah Conder (1789-1855)

My Lord, I did not choose you,
for that could never be;
my heart would still refuse you
had you not chosen me.
You took the sin that stained me,
you cleansed me, made me new;
for you, Lord, had ordained me
that I should live in you.

Unless your grace had called me
and taught my opening mind,
the world would have enthralled me,
to heavenly glories blind.
My heart knows none above you;
for you I long, I thirst,
and know that, if I love you,
Lord, you have loved me first.



Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving vista: Vision and first fruits

Be thou my vision

Words: Ancient Irish hymn; trans. Mary Byrne, 1905, and versified by Eleanor Hull, 1912
Music: Slane (Irish)

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
be thou ever with me, and I with thee Lord;
be thou my great Father, and I thy true son;
be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
be thou my whole armor, be thou my true might;
be thou my soul's shelter, be thou my strong tower:
O raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise:
be thou mine inheritance now and always;
be thou and thou only the first in my heart;
O Sovereign of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, thou heaven's bright sun,
O grant me its joys after victory is won;
great Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be thou my vision, O Ruler of all.


Giving thanks for first fruits of salvation

2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5

We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere, just as it is among you, and that we may be rescued from wicked and evil people; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will go on doing the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thanksgiving vista: majesty and sovereignty

Here's a pic from last year's Thanksgiving -- high on a hill overlooking a Pennsylvania town: the clouds are high, the blue varied and layered, the misty landscape floating into the distance like an ocean, melting into the distant sky: painted majesty! It's actually a nice meditation point for Christ the King verses, so here you go! Look at the pic and then let these verses flow over your spirit!

He is above principality and power

May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

All things created in Him; He is above all: Walk worthy

Walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.



Saturday, November 15, 2008

A word for the day: The will of God is not too hard

Not too hard for you, nor too far away

Deuteronomy 30:11ff

Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?' Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?' No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

A word for the day: Chased by blessings

These blessings shall overtake you

Deuteronomy 28:1-14

If you will only obey the Lord your God, by diligently observing all his commandments that I am commanding you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth; all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord your God:

  • Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.
  • Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your livestock, both the increase of your cattle and the issue of your flock.
  • Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading-bowl.
  • Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you; they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways. The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns, and in all that you undertake; he will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in his ways. All the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your ground in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give you. The Lord will open for you his rich storehouse, the heavens, to give the rain of your land in its season and to bless all your undertakings. You will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow. The Lord will make you the head, and not the tail; you shall be only at the top, and not at the bottom if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today, by diligently observing them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I am commanding you today, either to the right or to the left, following other gods to serve them.


An image of divine dance

Here the language of blessing is rare and fascinating: "These blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord your God." The imagery is of blessings as a pursuing host, a great company of goodness that flows around us like the wind and falls upon us, overtaking us like the dawn overtakes the night, and suddenly, there is light!

The imagery is almost as if the default state of humans is to flee divine blessing: it is as if in our own selves we run away from the place of divine blessing; and yet, as we turn to obey our God, suddenly, and overwhelmingly, the blessings overtake us and fall upon us, and we are whole.

There is a divine principle here: obedience, fear of the Lord, refusal of idols... this is the path where blessings overtake us and fall like rain upon parched soil, bringing forth the harvest of righteousness!



Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mission India: the message of persecution

The message of persecution is stop

From Mission India:

Today, believers in India — and around the world — daily face the threat of being arrested, rejected by family and friends, and even killed. They are told to stop preaching the name of Jesus.

In Orissa, India, the message of "stop" is ringing out. Thousands have been left homeless. Hundreds of churches and homes have been burned to the ground. The government is doing little to stop the suffering.

Christians in Orissa have lost everything — except their faith.

All they have to do is stop believing, stop reading Bible verses, stop meeting together for worship, stop teaching, stop witnessing to what Christ has done — if they stop that, they won't be killed or persecuted.

Visit Mission India and

God bless you!

Note: Also stop by Hopegivers and find out how you can make a difference today.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans: thank you

Freedom takes sacrifice and rule of law under God. Veterans embody this sacrifice, tasked with the protective task of holding the sword against evildoers: I honor the faithful veterans in this the land of the free. Thank you!

Thank a veteran today and ask questions of your life related to divine law -- thus will freedom endure!


Monday, November 10, 2008

A deepening sky and an evening star

On my way to a wedding Saturday, I had to stop and admire the sky. The blue was deepening high, with the evening stars... and away on the horizon a pink glow held the blue at bay, creating stunning visuals and relief of natural Florida landscape. There is so much here: the texture and grandeur of the sky, deep blue flowing to lighter blue, then pink, sky studded with early stars yet still glowing with power of sun... palms, scrubs, oak and Spanish Moss. Nice, no? Enjoy!

A word for the day: God our refuge

A prayer of Moses, the man of God

Psalm 90

Lord, you have been our refuge
from one generation to another.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or the land and the earth were born,
from age to age you are God.
You turn us back to the dust and say,
'Go back, O child of earth.'
For a thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday when it is past
and like a watch in the night.
You sweep us away like a dream;
we fade away suddenly like the grass.
In the morning it is green and flourishes;
in the evening it is dried up and withered.
For we consume away in your displeasure;
we are afraid because of your wrathful indignation.
Our iniquities you have set before you,
and our secret sins in the light of your countenance.
When you are angry, all our days are gone;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The span of our life is seventy years,
perhaps in strength even eighty;
yet the sum of them is but labor and sorrow,
for they pass away quickly and we are gone.
Who regards the power of your wrath?
who rightly fears your indignation?
So teach us to number our days
that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
Return, O Lord; how long will you tarry?
be gracious to your servants.
Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning;
so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.
Make us glad by the measure of the days
that you afflicted us
and the years in which we suffered adversity.
Show your servants your works
and your splendor to their children.
May the graciousness of the Lord our God be upon us;
prosper the work of our hands;
prosper our handiwork.



Friday, November 07, 2008

The soul of prayer

True prayer struggles with God

P.T. Forsyth

The popularity of much acquiescence [in prayer] is not because it is holier, but because it is easier. And an easy gospel is the consumption that attacks Christianity. It is the phthisis to faith [phthisis = wasting disease].

If we come to think that we best say "Thy will be done" when we acquiesce, when we resign, and not also when we struggle and wrestle, and in time all effort will seem less pious than submission. And so we fall into the ecclesiastical type of religion, drawn from an age whose first virtue was submission to outward superiors. We shall come to canonize decorum and subduedness in life and worship [as the Episcopal Church with its monarchical ideas of religion has done]. We shall think more of order than of effort, more of law than of life, more of fashion than of faith, of good form than of great power. But was subduedness the mark of the New Testament men? Our religion may gain some beauty in this way, but it loses vigor. It may gain style, but it loses power. It is good form, but mere aesthetic piety. It may consecrate manners, but it impoverishes the mind. It may regulate prayer by the precepts of intelligence instead of the needs and faith of the soul. It may feed certain pensive emotions, but it may emasculate will, secularize energy, and empty character. And so we decline to a state of things in which we have no shocking sins -- yes, and no splendid souls; when all souls are dully correct, as like as shillings, but as thin, and as cheap.

All our forms and views of religion have their test in prayer. Lose the importunity of prayer, reduce it to soliloquy, or even to colloquy, with God, lose the real conflict of will and will, lose the habit of wrestling and the hope of prevailing with God, make it mere walking with God in friendly talk; and, precious as that is, yet you tend to lose the reality of prayer at last. In principle you make it mere conversation instead of the soul's great action. You lose the food of character, the renewal of will. You may have beautiful prayers--but as ineffectual as beauty so often is, and as fleeting. And so in the end you lose the reality of religion. Redemption turns down into mere revelation, faith to assent, and devotion to a phase of culture. For you lose the power of the Cross and so of the soul.

Resist God, in the sense of rejecting God, and you will not be able to resist any evil. But resist God in the sense of closing with God, cling to Him with your strength, not your weakness only, with your active and not only your passive faith, and He will give you strength. Cast yourself into His arms not to be caressed but to wrestle with Him. He loves that holy war. He may be too many for you, and lift you from your feet. But it will be to lift you from earth, and set you in the heavenly places which are theirs who fight the good fight and lay hold of God as their eternal life.


Steadfast love calls us to steadfastness

Thank the Lord for His steadfast, covenant love

Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of men!

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! — Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you.

“The people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.” — He predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved... so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

How great is his goodness, and how great his beauty! — The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Ps. 107:8; Ps. 34:8; Ps. 31:19; Isa. 43:21; Eph. 1:5, 6, 12; Zech. 9:17; Ps. 145:9-12

Blessed are the steadfast

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. — For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. — Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing... Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.—Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me... For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Jas. 5:11; Rom. 5:3-5; Heb. 12:11; Jas. 1:2-4, 12; 2 Cor. 12:9, 10


Monday, November 03, 2008

A beauty upon the waters

Here is reflected November glory: leaves upon the stream, a canvas of nature's glory, reflection of divine law. Very often the waters of our lives seem troubled; very often we cannot understand the chaos and movement, but out of random reverses, suddenly there is beauty. This November election is troubling in many ways: we see forces in advance, vociferous, vehement and chaotic -- they use lies as tools and fraud as political coin: we now see what one writer called the "People of the Lie." Even good people care not about formal acceptance of evil [formally supporting that which is divinely revealed as evil, because the good does not fit their natural desires or intuition].
Turning and turning in its widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the Falconer.

It is easy to be troubled when we see such formal embracement of evil, yet I offer this picture as hope: hope for beauty over the waters, a declaration of sovereignty and divine forgiveness!


Election wisdom from the Paragraph Farmer

Patrick O'Hannigan over at the Paragraph Farmer has some apt election thoughts up. Patrick, a.k.a Mr. Paragraph Farmer, has lots of real wisdom; if you are trying to decide for whom to vote, surf on over and read his thoughts: apt, timely, wise!

Here's a snippet:

Election Day still means something to me, because I did not request an absentee ballot this year, and I'm not one of the people who already voted.

I know the adage about voting "early and often." It's in the very air, because the minions of one major party have taken that to heart, starting with fraudulent voter registration, proceeding through wilful failure to verify the legitimacy of donors, and ending, inevitably, with accusations that the people who cry foul at transparent attempts to subvert our republic are trying to "suppress the vote."

In this election, as in every other I've been old enough to vote in, party apparatchiks applaud "motor voter" initiatives, cry crocodile tears at the plight of the downtrodden, and offer sound-bite outrage at the tone of campaigns. What's new in the dog's breakfast this year is the widespread failure of journalists in big media to investigate their favorite ticket at anything deeper than a "Morning Show" level. Accordingly, only a stone would be unsympathetic to frustration with our two-party system.

A few cycles ago, I did actually vote for a third-party candidate (it was the Constitution Party, thank you very much), but I won't be doing that this year, because I am skeptical of the coalition-building so often proposed as an alternative to "Donkelphant" dominance. If parliamentary forms of government were all they're cracked up to be, then European countries wouldn't have to change governments as frequently as they do.

So much for prelude. The question now is whom to vote for. May I suggest that voting criteria this time around can be reduced to three things?

My list includes abortion, economics, and foreign policy, in that order.

Indeed. Read it all. Good thoughts, Patrick -- faithful and responsible! God bless you.

And God bless America, tonight and always!

Friends and readers, go vote! And God grant us mercy and forgiveness: grace and sustenance...


A word for the day: Out of the depths

In His word is my hope

Psalm 130

Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice;
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.

If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss,
O Lord, who could stand?

For there is forgiveness with you;
therefore you shall be feared.
I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him;
in his word is my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord,
more than the night-watch for the morning,
more than the night-watch for the morning.

O Israel, wait for the Lord,
for with the Lord there is mercy;
With him there is plenteous redemption,
and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.


You brought up my life out of the depths

Jonah 2:2-7, 9

I called to you, O God, out of my distress
and you answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.

You cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,

and the flood surrounded me,
all your waves and billows passed over me.

Then I said, I am driven away from your sight;
how shall I ever look again upon your holy temple?

The waters closed in over me,
the deep was round about me;
weeds were wrapped around my head
at the roots of the mountains.

I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me for ever,
yet you brought up my life from the depths, O God.

As my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, O God,
and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.

With the voice of thanksgiving, I will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay,
deliverance belongs to the Lord!



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October painting: trees, field & sky

Here is a picture taken in October of last year -- the sunlight on the autumn trees, the phenomenal clouds with their rare blue-scale coloration and painted texture, and shadowed field of grey and dusky purple... it was an amazing moment: autumn glory! Enjoy!

God is working out His purpose

God is working His purpose out

Words: Arthur Campbell Aigner, 1894
Tune: Purpose

God is working His purpose out
as year succeeds to year:
God is working his purpose out,
and the time is drawing near;
nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

From utmost east to utmost west,
wherever foot hath trod,
by the mouth of many messengers
goes forth the voice of God;
give ear to me, ye continents,
ye isles, give ear to me,
that earth may filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

What can we do to work God's work,
to prosper and increase
the brotherhood of all mankind--
the reign of the Prince of Peace?
What can we do to hasten the time--
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

March we forth in the strength of God,
with the banner of Christ unfurled,
that the light of the glorious gospel of truth
may shine throughout the world:
fight we the fight with sorrow and sin
to set their captives free,
that earth may filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

All we can do is nothing worth
unless God blessed the deed;
vainly we hope for the harvest-tide
till God gives life to the seed;
yet nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.


So what about content of character?

Michael Ramirez presents an incisive political cartoon, perhaps a little too close to truth for comfort: not much laughter, but insightful. As soon as one scratches the surface on Obama's voting, his associates, his words, his actions, anything at all revealing his character and true persona, it seems as if those things are suddenly taken off the table as viable topics of discussion. Interesting.

Hat tip: John Hinderake

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The very dangerous game: media & power

Michael Malone at ABC has a must read piece on the role of the media in this election.


The traditional media are playing a very, very dangerous game — with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates.

The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I’ve found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I’ve begun — for the first time in my adult life — to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living. A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was “a writer,” because I couldn’t bring myself to admit to a stranger that I’m a journalist.

Indeed. Read it all.


Hat tip: Jules Crittendon.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A word for the day: As the deer, so my soul

As the deer longs for the water-brooks...

Psalm 42

As the deer longs for the water-brooks,

so longs my soul for you, O God.

My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God;

when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?

My tears have been my food day and night,

while all day long they say to me,

'Where now is your God?'

I pour out my soul when I think on these things:

how I went with the multitude

and led them into the house of God,

With the voice of praise and thanksgiving,

among those who keep holy-day.

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?

and why are you so disquieted within me?

Put your trust in God;

for I will yet give thanks to him,

who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

My soul is heavy within me;

therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan,

and from the peak of Mizar among the heights of Hermon.

One deep calls to another in the noise of your cataracts;

all your rapids and floods have gone over me.

The Lord grants his loving-kindness in the daytime;

in the night season his song is with me,

a prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to the God of my strength,

'Why have you forgotten me?

and why do I go so heavily

while the enemy oppresses me?'

While my bones are being broken,

my enemies mock me to my face;

All day long they mock me

say to me, 'Where now is your God?'

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?

and why are you so disquieted within me?

Put your trust in God;

for I will yet give thanks to him,

who is the help of my countenance, and my God.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Lead us, O Father, in the paths of peace

Lead us, O Father, in the paths of peace

Words: William Henry Burleigh, 1868
Music: Song 22

Lead us, O Father, in the paths of peace;
without thy guiding hand we go astray,
and doubts appall, and sorrows still increase;
lead us through Christ, the true and living Way.

Lead us, O Father, in the paths of truth;
unhelped by thee, in error's maze we grope,
while passion strains, and folly dims our youth,
and age comes on, uncheered by faith and hope.

Lead us, O Father, in the paths of right;
blindly we stumble when we walk alone,
involved in shadows of a darksome night;
only with thee we journey safely on.

Lead us, O Father, to thy heavenly rest,
however rough and steep the pathway be;
through joy or sorrow, as thou deemest best,
until our lives are perfected in thee.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October study: fence, field & scudding sky

People have enjoyed my PA scenes so much that I've decided to post some of my PA pictures, from time to time. I'll be doing this seasonally, so that distant friends can sense the feeling of nature, the beauty and rhythm of creation! :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Search out our hearts and make us true

Before thy throne, O God, we kneel

Words: William Boyd Carpenter (1841-1918)
Music: St. Petersburg

Before thy throne, O God, we kneel:
give us a conscience quick to feel,
a ready mind to understand
the meaning of thy chastening hand;
whate'er the pain and shame may be,
bring us, O Father, nearer thee.

Search out our hearts and make us true;
help us to give to all their due.
From love of pleasure, lust of gold,
from sins which make the heart grow cold,
wean us and train us with thy rod;
teach us to know our faults, O God.

For sins of heedless word and deed,
for pride ambitions to succeed,
for crafty trade and subtle snare
to catch the simple unaware,
for lives bereft of purpose high,
forgive, forgive, O Lord, we cry.

Let the fierce fires which burn and try,
our inmost spirits purify:
consume the ill; purge out the shame;
O God, be with us in the flame;
a newborn people may we rise,
more pure, more true, more nobly wise.


Monday, October 20, 2008

The fairest flowers: the noblest psalms

The fairest Alpine flowers bloom in the wildest and most rugged mountain passes -- the noblest psalms were the outcome of the profoundest agony of soul. And souls which love God will find reasons for bounding, leaping joy. Not simply to endure God's will, nor only to choose it; but to rejoice in it with joy unspeakable and full of glory.


Note: A quote shared by George Hosier. Thanks, George!

We have not known thee as we ought

We have not known thee as we ought

Words: Thomas Benson Pollock, 1875
Music: St. Chrysostom

We have not known thee as we ought,
nor learned thy wisdom, grace and power;
the things of earth have filled our thought,
and trifles of the passing hour.
Lord, give us light thy truth to see,
and make us wise in knowing thee.

We have not feared thee as we ought,
nor bowed beneath thine awful eye,
nor guarded deed and word and thought,
remembering that God was nigh.
Lord, give us faith to know thee near,
and grant the grace of holy fear.

We have not loved thee as we ought,
nor cared that we are loved by thee;
thy presence we have coldly sought,
and feebly longed thy face to see.
Lord, give a pure and loving heart
to feel and know the love thou art.

We have not served thee as we ought,
alas, the duties left undone,
the work with little fervor wrought,
the battles lost or scarcely won!
Lord, give the zeal, and give the might,
for thee to toil, for thee to fight.

When shall we know thee as we ought,
and fear and love and serve aright?
when shall we, out of trial brought,
be perfect in the land of light?
Lord, may we day by day prepare
to see thy face and serve thee there.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

A meditation of a pink rose

Here is a visual key for your devotional thoughts: look at this pink rose in silence, bow your head, pray, and consider what God speaks to you through this rose. God bless you!


A word for the day: Keep me as the apple of your eye

Let my vindication come from your Presence

Psalm 17

Hear my plea of innocence, O Lord;
give heed to my cry;
listen to my prayer,
which does not come from lying lips.
Let my vindication come forth from your presence;
let your eyes be fixed on justice.
Weigh my heart, summon me by night,
melt me down; you will find no impurity in me.
I give no offence with my mouth as others do;
I have heeded the words of your lips.
My footsteps hold fast to the ways of your law;
in your paths my feet shall not stumble.
I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me;
incline your ear to me and hear my words.
Show me your marvelous loving-kindness,
O Savior of those who take refuge at your right hand
from those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me under the shadow of your wings,
From the wicked who assault me,
from my deadly enemies who surround me.
They have closed their heart to pity,
and their mouth speaks proud things.
They press me hard,
now they surround me,
watching how they may cast me to the ground,
Like a lion, greedy for its prey,
and like a young lion lurking in secret places.
Arise, O Lord; confront them and bring them down;
deliver me from the wicked by your sword.
Deliver me, O Lord, by your hand
from those whose portion in life is this world;
Whose bellies you fill with your treasure,
who are well supplied with children
and leave their wealth to their little ones.
But at my vindication I shall see your face;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied,
beholding your likeness.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Meditation: I will renew thee in My love

O little bird that sings

by Amy Carmichael

O little bird that sings
Long before the glad day springs,
What radiant victory
You show to me.

You sing of conquering faith,
And of life subduing death,
And of joy before the light
Has vanquished night.

God of the sweet bird-song,
Let us all be borne along
By this triumphant mirth
That is not of earth.

Foreseeing dawn, would we
Now exult melodiously,
And sing before the light
Has vanquished night.


I will renew thee in My love

by Amy Carmichael

But there are times when we feel too tired even to desire; nothing is left in us to be refreshed – virtue has gone out of us. Will it ever come back? Can fatigue annihilate that which used to be, that resilience that so often has saved us from collapse? To be wakened by pain long before we should awaken, in spite of all that has been done to give us sleep… that is to know the feeling of being too tired to be refreshed, too tired even to desire.

And yet, when wakening, there comes a song of a bird – a magpie robin, a happy little bird in tidy black and white that sings before the dawn, sometimes as early as three o’clock. A long sustained sweetness suddenly breaks through the darkness, and drops of silver song are scattered everywhere. You lie listening gratefully, and your “Oh, how tired I am!” gradually becomes, “O little bird that sings” – which is at least happier than the other.

But not even the memory of that silvery sweetness can carry us through the day. Nothing but the very word of God made vital to the heart can do that. I wonder if this will do for another what it has done for me? The Septuagint reading of Zephaniah 3:17, “He will rest in His love,” is, “He will renew thee in His love.” There is enchantment in that word. There is life. There is strength.

O God, renew us in Thy love today’
For our tomorrow we have not a care;
Who blessed our yesterday
Will meet us there.

But our today is all athirst for Thee;
Come in the stillness, O Thou heavenly Dew;
Come Thou to us – to me –
Revive, renew.

September, on the southeastern coast of India, is a burnt-up month. Round about Dohnaver the earth is terra-cotta colored, and asks for the relief of low-growing green things; it can glare hotly when all that grows low is brown. The henna, within view of my window [henna is the camphire of the Song of Songs, “My beloved is to me like a cluster of henna”], is then bare, brown twig – the creamy, scented clusters are a mere memory; the little butterfly, caesalpinia, is a flicker of gold on unhappy stalks; frangipani, the temple flower, breaks out in strong blossom from a naked, fat finger-stem, and the flame of the forest is all flame and no forest green.

But this year is different, and this morning my chair was turned so that I could see into the enclosure upon which my room opens, and till the sun rose and made it too bright I feasted my eyes on the greenness. Never before have these eyes seen a green September. This year, the first time within living memory, not only are the greater trees, and of course all the palms, green [that is their happy custom], but the little henna is green, the gaiety of the caesalpinia set in green, the temple-tree flowers are like pale stars in a green night, the gorgeous crimson of the forest flame glows bright from among its own gracious foliage. Rioting over a tangle of low bushes near my window the delicate large bells of the blue convolvulvus call to the little sunbirds, and those lovely things, iridescent jewels in feathers, peck through the tube from the outside, poised in the air on tiny, fluttering wings. Beside me is a fern, lately achieved after many a vain assay; the mass of fragile lace is full of the whispers of woods and water. The unwonted beauty is because this year we have had rain during the hot weather: the sap is racing up every growing thing as though the thermometer did not register between 90 and 100 degrees in the shade.

And all this sweet greenness and the dewy freshness of flowers is like a picture in color, set to familiar words. Leaves and flowers, down to the last leaf bud and flower bud, are nourished in sap. They do not cause the sap to rise or regulate its flow. They do not understand its mysterious power. But as it flows through them it revives them, renews them. We who are ill [and tested and dry] know that we could never do much to bring the sap of life to bear upon our own souls. We may have helps [I have, and they are countless], or we may have none [some have very few]; but whether we are set in families or as lonely as a sparrow on a housetop – that friendliest of little birds that does not like to be alone anywhere – we know that we depend on something that is not of ourselves to keep us fresh and green. And we know that we are sometimes too spent even to pray for it.

And here is grace: we need not pray. There are times when all that is asked of us is just what is asked of the leaves and flowers and the fronds of the fern. They continue in the plant, the sap flows up to them.

Continue you in My love, says our Lord. And even the most tired of us can continue, stay there, be there – no words can be too simple to say what He means. Do not go away, He says. Why should we? How could we? Do we want to speak to Him? “He then, lying on Jesus’ breast, saith unto Him…” Are we too tired to speak at all? Be silent then, in love. “Surely towards God silence becometh my soul; from Him is my expectation,” is Rotherham’s rendering of Psalm 62:1, 5. And as we are silent, letting our hearts rest in quietness in Him from who is our expectation, He will cause sap to rise. He will renew us in His love.

And so, however weary the clogging flesh my be, we shall win through and we shall know,

Patience of comfort, peace and fortitude,
Drink where fresh waters flow,
Taste angels’ food.
For loving, Thou dost love until the end;
O great and dear Redeemer, we have proved
What Love Divine can spend
On its beloved.

The things we would least choose to have are round about us. But “In these things be not thrown down, nor in despair; but stand evenly at the will of God, and suffer all things that come to thee, to the praising of our Lord Jesus Christ; for after winter cometh summer, and after night cometh day, and after tempest cometh clearness.



Amy Carmichael, Rose from Brier, 60-65.

A word for the day: The Lord does wonders for the faithful

Answer me when I call, O God

Psalm 4

Answer me when I call, O God, defender of my cause,
you set me free when I am hard-pressed;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
'You mortals, how long will you dishonour my glory;
how long will you worship dumb idols
and run after false gods?'
Know that the Lord does wonders for the faithful;
when I call upon the Lord, He will hear me.
Tremble, then, and do not sin;
speak to your heart in silence upon your bed.
Offer the appointed sacrifices
and put your trust in the Lord.
Many are saying,
'O that we might see better times!'
Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O Lord.
You have put gladness in my heart,
more than when grain and wine and oil increase.
I lie down in peace; at once I fall asleep;
for only you, Lord, make me dwell in safety.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

hail, Abraham's God and mine!

The God of Abraham praise

Words: Thomas Olivers, 1770
Tune: Leoni

The God of Abraham praise,
who reigns enthroned above;
Ancient of everlasting days,
and God of love;
Jehovah, great I AM,
by earth and heaven confessed:
I bow and bless the sacred Name
for ever blessed.

The God of Abraham praise,
at whose supreme command
from earth we rise, and seek the joys
at his right hand;
we all on earth forsake,
its wisdom, fame and power;
and him our only portion make,
our Shield and Tower.

The goodly land we see,
with peace and plenty blessed:
a land of sacred liberty
and endless rest;
there milk and honey flow,
and oil and wine abound,
and trees of life for ever grow,
with mercy crowned.

There dwells the Lord, our King,
the Lord, our Righteousness,
triumphant o'er the world and sin,
the Prince of Peace;
on Zion's sacred height
his kingdom he maintains,
and, glorious with his saints in light,
for ever reigns.

The God who reigns on high,
the great archangels sing,
and "Holy, holy, holy," cry,
"Almighty King!"
Who was and is the same,
and evermore shall be:
Jehovah, Father, great I AM,
we worship thee."

The whole triumphant host
give thanks to God on high;
"Hail, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost"
they ever cry;
hail, Abraham's God and mine;
I join the heavenly lays;
all might and majesty are thine,
and endless praise!


Friday, October 10, 2008

October sky after storm

Here is the sky over Lake Okeechobee, after a storm moved through. I just love the sky after a storm! That freshly-washed look and the rainy-clean smell in the air... And Florida has lots of that beauty -- perennial sun, intermittent storms, big sky and majestic clouds of all shades... amazing light. enjoy!

Light before us through the darkness

Through the night of doubt and sorrow

Words: Bernhardt Severin Ingemann, 1825;
trans. Sabine Baring-Gould, 1867
Tune: Ton-y-Botel (Ebenezer)

Through the night of doubt and sorrow,
onward goes the pilgrim band,
singing songs of expectation,
marching to the promised land.
Clear before us through the darkness
gleams and burns the guiding light:
trusting God we march together
stepping fearless through the night.

One the light of God's own presence,
o'er his ransomed people shed,
chasing far the gloom and terror,
brightening all the path we tread:
one the object of our journey,
one the faith which never tires,
one the earnest looking forward,
one the hope our God inspires.

One the strain the lips of thousands
lift as from the heart of one;
one the conflict, one the peril,
one the march in God begun:
one the gladness of rejoicing
on the far eternal shore,
where the one almighty Father
reigns in love for evermore.

Onward, therefore, pilgrim brothers,
onward with the cross our aid;
bear its shame, and fight its battle,
till we rest beneath its shade.
Soon shall come the great awaking,
soon the rending of the tomb;
then the scattering of all shadows,
and the end of toil and gloom!


Monday, October 06, 2008

A glory of October sky -- Florida style!

Here is a glimpse of the beauty on Friday... there's just so much to like in this picture: the colored rays of light, a sky divided into blue and pink, quiet reflection in the lake, burning orb of sun, glory of sky! Enjoy!

When the storms are o'er us

Lord, thy Word abideth

Words: Henry Williams Baker, 1861
Tune: Ravenshaw

Lord, thy Word abideth,
and our footsteps guideth;
who its truth believeth
light and joy receiveth.

When our foes are near us,
then thy Word doth cheer us,
Word of consolation,
message of salvation.

When the storms are o'er us,
and dark clouds before us,
then its light directeth,
and our way protecteth.

Who can tell the pleasure,
who recount the treasure,
by thy Word imparted
to the simple-hearted?

Word of mercy, giving
succor to the living;
word of life, supplying
comfort to the dying!

O that we, discerning,
its most holy learning,
Lord, may love and fear thee,
evermore be near thee!


Saturday, October 04, 2008

The power of your love

Wisdom from Francis of Assisi

From the first known letter from Francis to all believers:

O how happy and blessed are those who love the Lord and do as the Lord himself said in the gospel: You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and your whole soul, and your neighbor as yourself. Therefore, let us love God and adore him with pure heart and mind. This is His particular desire when he says: True worshipers adore the Father in spirit and truth. For all who adore Him must do so in the spirit of truth. Let us also direct to Him our praises and prayers, saying: "Our Father, who are in heaven," since we must always pray and never grow slack.

Furthermore, let us produce worthy fruits of penance. Let us also love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us have charity and humility. Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin. Humans lose all the material things they leave behind in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve. We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh. Rather we must be simple, humble and pure. We should never desire to be over others. Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God's sake. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all who live in this way and persevere in it to the end. He will permanently dwell in them. They will be the Father's children who do his work. They are the spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

May the power of your love, Lord Jesus Christ

May the power of your love, Lord Christ,
fiery and sweet as honey,
so absorb our hearts
as to withdraw them from all that is under heaven.
Grant that we may be ready
to die for love of your love,
as you died for love of our love. Amen.


Friday, October 03, 2008

A living prayer

Here is my prayer for today! I'll share it with you... God bless you! :-)

A new blog for Lesotho orphans: Bana!

orphans with new blankets from BANA Project

Ladell Patterson is blogging for the BANA Project at Kingdom Orphans.

Please visit the blog and also look at what Jennifer and Chris Roe are doing to raise funds for the orphans. Good stuff. And take time to visit her Encounter humanity orphan blog.

God bless you, Ladell! And Chris and Jennifer!

Note: If you wish, you can donate for the Project at Logos Global -- or just click here: Support the Bana Project.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Repentance: Facing the Apocalypse

How penitence renews us in covenant protection

The rush of natural disasters, hurricanes, wind and fire, the march of terror and war, the hint of economic crash… these things we can no longer ignore. People now ask me, “Is this the beginning of the end?”

It is a serious question.

I try to answer it in biblical terms. Scripture never emphasizes the when of apocalypse, but always emphasizes the what of apocalypse, as in, “What should be our response in such a time as this?” “How then should we live?”

The Hebraic prophets called for repentance when faced with national disaster. Such teaching is totally opposite our postmodern intuitions. What? A spiritual response to physical disaster? Surely not!

We then ask, “Why?” Why would the prophets call for a moral response to material calamity? Why would Jesus finish His sermon on apocalypse by saying, “Watch, therefore…”? In other words, ‘Live a certain way.’

Is there some link between moral and physical reality? Scripture answers this, a resounding “Yes!”

Scripture asserts that our spiritual thoughts, our mental and internal status, affect physical reality. Our universe is first a spiritual universe. All that is, is held together by the Spirit of God. ‘In Him we live and move and have our being.’ ‘And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.’ ‘By the word of the Lord were the heavens made…’‘You send forth your Spirit and they are created…”

So when faced with physical calamity, the prophets say, “Repent.”

When humans repent, we bring our lives into line with the Spirit that holds the whole together. An actual connection with the eternal occurs – whether we realize it or not.

This is why it is no mere child’s game to say that our prayers affect even physical disasters, such as hurricanes or economic crash. The prophets emphasized this, repeatedly. And they were only applying the specific covenant promise of God. 2 Chronicles 7:14:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

It is the same promise that God offered them in when He brought them out of Egypt:
There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there He tested them, saying, ‘If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in His eyes, and give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer’ [Exodus 15:35, et al].

In covenant repentance, God acts on behalf of His children. “I am your healer; I will heal your land.” Penitence and prayer thus become the most powerful things in the universe – things that re-connect us to the One who renews us, even if silent and unseen

Physical reality is connected with spiritual actions. Sara Yoheved Rigler, a Jewish writer, puts it this way:
A person stealing $100 in Tel Aviv lowers the moral fiber in Mexico City and could encourage massive embezzlement in Melbourne. Conversely, a person [praying] in Haifa may avert an auto accident in London or prevent complications during open-heart surgery in Los Angeles. The spiritual channels of effect run far below the surface, untraceable but powerful.

Spiritual forces, like ocean waves, do not lose their power over distance.[1]

Our repentance, covenant repentance, means that the power of God comes to bear, to forgive past offenses and grant healing. God promises himself as healer and deliverer.

Covenant repentance: exactly what is it? Since it is so compelling, how does it happen?

2 Chronicles 7:14 gives the pattern: humble the self, pray, seek the face of God, and turn from personal unrighteousness. It is simply taking relation with God seriously, accepting the fact that God is a Holy God. This is biblical penitence: Humility, committed prayer, wholehearted seeking of God, and turning away from known sin: Life in light of the gracious choice of God.

It is so powerful, it could save a nation. It could save a city. It could save a family. It could save a relationship. It could save you.

C. S. Lewis frames repentance as lived remorse, “where we lay down our [weapons] and surrender, say we're sorry, realize we're on the wrong track, and move full speed astern.” Repentance, he says, is “the only way out of a hole.”

In practical terms, penitence is humbly living in the grace of God – and this to such degree that we bring God into the details of daily life, into the small things. This is the test of grace.

Francois de Fenelon says:
To do small things that are right continually…is much more important [than doing 'great things']. These small acts attack our pride, our laziness, our self-centeredness, and our oversensitive nature. It is much more appealing to make great sacrifices to God, however hard they might be, so that we might do whatever we want with the small decisions of life. Faithfulness in the little things better proves our love for God. It is the slow, plodding path [of daily obedience] that matters...

Righteousness is letting God into the small things, and then realizing that He owns all things.

Our defense against the day of apocalypse is the action of this day. This day! ‘Today, if you will hear my voice,’ says the Lord. ‘Harden not your heart as in the day of provocation…’ ‘Now is the appointed time. Today is the day of salvation…’


Hear the voice that calls for repentance, and face the Apocalypse. It could be that your prayers will avert the day of disaster. Your prayers might save a relation or save the nation.



[1] S.Y. Rigler, “A spiritual response to disaster,” Society Today, http://www.aish.com/societyWork/society/Reacting_to_the_Tsunami.asp