Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Prayers from the human story

Favorite prayers

by Melody Beattie

Here are some of my favorite prayers:
Help. Please. Don't.
Show me. Guide me. Change me.
Are you there?
Why'd you do that?
Thank you.


Monday, September 29, 2008

A word of hope from worm theology


by Amy Carmichael

And He talks with us in many ways, sometimes through the pleasure of rarely quoted lovely old words, like those from Herrick, who, when in 1647 his all was taken from him, wrote:
God, when He takes my goods and chattels hence,
Gives me a portion, giving patience:
What is in God is God; if so it be
He patience gives, He gives himself to me.

But Weigh Me the Fire is what carries me far away from bed and chair today:
Weigh me the fire; or canst thou find
A way to measure out the wind;
Distinguish all those floods that are
Mixed in that watery theatre;
And taste thou them as saltless there
As in their channel first they were.
Tell me the people that do keep
Within the kingdom of the deep;
Or fetch me back that cloud again,
Beshiver’d into seeds of rain;
Tell me the motes, dust, sands, and spears
Of corn, when summer shakes its ears;
Show me that world of stars, and whence
They noiseless spill their influence:
This if thou canst, then show me Him
That rides the glorious cherubim.

And yet, in spite of the help that is given, there is a feeling [I can only call it worminess] that can come, especially between 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning, when all the fight really seems to be drained out of us. It really is a very horrid feeling, but the word of our God is equal to anything – even to this. At such a time, clear through the fog and stuffiness and the oppression of the enemy, the worminess, came this word from Isaiah: “Fear not, thou worm!”

It was startling; it was so exactly it. There was no smooth saying that things were not as they were. They were wormy. I was wormy. Well then, “Fear not!” He who loves us best knows us best; He meets us just where we are. But He does not leave us there. There is power of the word of the King to effect what it commands. In the Fear not of our God [a word repeated in one form or another from Genesis to Revelation] there is power to endue that which is at the moment most lacking in the one to whom it is spoken – be it courage, or the will to endure, or the will to triumph which easily slips away from us, or the love that we need so much if we are to help others, the love that never fails, or the wisdom which is not in us, and which we must have if we are to make right decisions, or just common hope and patience to carry on in peace and joyfulness of spirit. O Lord, I am nothing before Thee, a worm and no human. Fear not, thou worm.
“Fear not, thou worm Jacob… I will help thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, for I, thy God, am firmly grasping thy right hand – I am saying unto thee, Do not fear; I have become thy helper. Do not fear, thou worm.

Do not fear, but sing, ‘Praise the Lord upon earth, mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars, beasts and all cattle, worms.”

These various words helped me exceedingly. And yet I know that they may be dumb to some who turn the pages wearily, their strength spent out in the hot land of pain.

In one of Blackwood’s Tales from the Outposts a man, telling of an arid tract of country in Central Africa, despairs of making one who has not experienced that flaming heat understand anything about it:
But how describe the thirst and heat of torrid lands to those who simply turn the tap near at hand to secure an endless cooling supply? How describe thirst engendered by effort on foot across miles of stark, shadeless forest, heated by a ball of molten fire, to those who live in temperate, well-watered lands of perpetual verdure? The English language, born in a land of cloudy skies, frequent showers, forest shades and evergreen fields, with water on every side, lacks, and must lack, terms for precise description of heat, thirst and drought.

And so it is that this writing lacks the precise touch to describe the devouring flame of anguish that licks up the last drop of the juice of life. I write from a cooler, easier region than that of many a hospital ward and nursing home. Should this writing find its way to one whose heart is in the fiery wasteland – yes, these words will seem lacking, to you.

But there is One who endured the worst extremity of thirst in His own flesh: we can always know that He has been there, and He has not forgotten, nor will He ever forget, what it is like to be there. He was tempted in all points as we are – including vast unrecorded experiences of suffering. Thus He is able to succor all who are tempted – follow that single line of thought, it is like a track across a desert, and soon we come to deep wells of cool water: Whoever drinks of that water will never thirst. They thirsted not when He led them through the deserts.


Amy Carmichael, Rose from Brier, 99-102.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Immortal love, forever full

Immortal love, forever full

Words: John Greenleaf Whittier, 1867
Tune: Bishopthorpe

Immortal love, forever full,
forever flowing free,
forever shared, forever whole,
a never ebbing sea!

Our outward lips confess the name
all other names above;
love only knoweth whence it came,
and comprehendeth love.

We may not climb the heavenly steeps
to bring the Lord Christ down;
In vain we search the lowest deeps,
for Him no depths can drown.

But warm, sweet, tender, even yet,
a present help is He;
and faith still has its Olivet,
and love its Galilee.

The healing of His seamless dress
is by our beds of pain;
we touch Him in life's throng and press,
and we are whole again.

Through Him the first fond prayers are said
our lips of childhood frame,
the last low whispers of our dead
are burdened with His Name.

O Lord and Master of us all,
whate'er our name or sign,
we own thy sway, we hear thy call,
we test our lives by thine!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Attempted graft in the 700 B bailout plan

Jim Lindgren comments on the graft embedded in the proposed bailout plan:
Much of the blogosphere is up in arms because of the provision in Senator Dodd’s financial bailout bill that might funnel profits from the bailout plan to ACORN Housing (related to the disreputable activist group ACORN), and other more reputable service organizations.

I have read Dodd’s proposed statute and in some respects, it is far worse than has been reported. Senator Dodd has placed a loophole in the bill that is explicitly designed to siphon off tens or hundreds of billions of dollars to the Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund even if there are no net profits in the $700 billion venture.

Glenn Reynolds comments:
You know, it would be easier for me to believe this was a crisis, if the people in charge were acting like it was a crisis, instead of just an opportunity for graft. Then again, to some of these people, everything is just an opportunity for graft.

Indeed. This is just so sad -- the country is in trouble, and congressional Democrats subtly place deceptive loopholes in the bailout bill... loopholes that will enrich key constituents, even without eventual net profits for the package; in other words, siphoning off money intended to help the country survive this recent crisis, and using these millions [billions] of dollars to ensure political clout [and stuffed ballot boxes via ACORN, etc.], at direct taxpayer expense. Unbelievable. Itemized here, and here.

It's unconscionable. Full credit should go to John McCain and John Boehner for stopping this blatant attempt at robbery. Thank God McCain suspended his campaign to put country first -- he just saved billions from being skimmed off by unscrupulous politicians. Note: Financial Services ranking member Spencer Bachus said that McCain "turned the negotians around" in 48 hours. And Boehner received a standing ovation in a GOP conference meeting, this morning. You won't hear about that on evening news or newswires!

Thanks to Jim Lindgren for the scoop, and hat tip to Glenn.

Note: Further reading:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

By the broken I will mend you

By the hungry I will feed you

by Sydney Carter

By the hungry I will feed you
By the poor I'll make you rich
By the broken I will mend you
Tell me, which one is which?


Monday, September 22, 2008

The danger of garter snakes

A garter snake warning!

Newsflash: Snakes also known as Garter Snakes (Thamnophissirtalis ) can be dangerous. Yes, grass snakes, not rattlesnakes. Here's why.

A couple in Sweetwater, Texas, had a lot of potted plants. During a recent cold spell, the wife was bringing a lot of them indoors to protect them from a possible freeze. It turned out that a little green garden grass snake was hidden in one of the plants. When it had warmed up, it slithered out and the wife saw it go under the sofa. She let out a very loud scream.

The husband (who was taking a shower) ran out into the living room naked to see what the problem was. She told him there was a snake under the sofa.

He got down on the floor on his hands and knees to look for it. About that time the family dog came and cold-nosed him on the behind. He thought the snake had bitten him, so he screamed and fell over on the floor.

His wife thought he had had a heart attack, so she covered him up, told him to lie still and called an ambulance. The attendants rushed in, would not listen to his protests, loaded him on the stretcher, and started carrying him out.

About that time, the snake came out from under the sofa and the Emergency Medical Technician saw it and dropped his end of the stretcher. That's when the man broke his leg and why he is still in the hospital.

The wife still had the problem of the snake in the house, so she called on a neighbor who volunteered to capture the snake. He armed himself with a rolled-up newspaper and began poking under the couch. Soon he decided it was gone and told the woman, who sat down on the sofa in relief. But while relaxing, her hand dangled in between the cushions, where she felt the snake wriggling around. She screamed and fainted, the snake rushed back under the sofa. The neighbor man, seeing her lying there passed out, tried to use CPR to revive her.

The neighbor's wife, who had just returned from shopping at the grocery store, saw her husband's mouth on the woman's mouth and slammed her husband in the back of the head with a bag of canned goods, knocking him out and cutting his scalp to a point where it needed stitches. The noise woke the woman from her dead faint and she saw her neighbor lying on the floor with his wife bending over him, so she assumed that the snake had bitten him. She went to the kitchen and got a small bottle of whiskey, and began pouring it down the man's throat.

By now, the police had arrived.

They saw the unconscious man, smelled the whiskey, and assumed that a drunken fight had occurred. They were about to arrest them all, when the women tried to explain how it all happened over a little green snake.

The police called an ambulance, which took away the neighbor and his sobbing wife.

Now, the little snake again crawled out from under the sofa and one of the policemen drew his gun and fired at it. He missed the snake and hit the leg of the end table. The table fell over, the lamp on it shattered and, as the bulb broke, it started a fire in the drapes. The other policeman tried to beat out the flames, and fell through the window into the yard on top of the family dog who, startled, jumped out and raced into the street, where an oncoming car swerved to avoid it and smashed into the parked police car. Meanwhile, neighbors saw the burning drapes and called in the fire department. The firemen accidentally started raising the fire ladder when they were halfway down the street. The rising ladder tore out the overhead wires, put out the power, and disconnected the telephones in a ten-square city block area (but they did get the house fire out).

Time passed! Both men were discharged from the hospital, the house was repaired, the dog came home, the police acquired a new car and all was right with their world.

A while later they were watching TV and the weatherman announced a cold snap for that night. The wife asked her husband if he thought they should bring in their plants for the night.

And that's when he shot her.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thanks to the Lord of the harvest

Thank you for latter rain: abundance

Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for He has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. [Joel 2:23]

See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains! You too, be patient and stand firm... As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. [James 5:7,11f]


Praise shall employ my nobler powers

I'll praise my Maker while I've breath

Words: Isaac Watts, 1714
Tune: Monmouth, Old 113th

I'll praise my Maker while I've breath,
and when my voice is lost in death,
praise shall employ my nobler powers;
my days of praise shall ne'er be past,
while life, and thought, and being last,
or immortality endures.

Why should I make a man my trust?
Princes must die and turn to dust;
vain is the help of flesh and blood:
their breath departs, their pomp, and power,
and thoughts, all vanish in an hour,
nor can they make their promise good.

Happy the man whose hopes rely
on Israel's God: he made the sky,
and earth, and seas, with all their train;
his truth for ever stands secure,
he saves th'oppressed, he feeds the poor,
and none shall find his promise vain.

The Lord has eyes to give the blind;
the Lord supports the sinking mind;
he sends the laboring conscience peace;
he helps the stranger in distress,
the widow, and the fatherless,
and grants the prisoner sweet release.

I'll praise him while he lends me breath,
and when my voice is lost in death,
praise shall employ my nobler powers;
my days of praise shall ne'er be past,
while life, and thought, and being last,
or immortality endures!


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The laughing Jesus

I feel as if I've arrived in the world: I'm now taking pictures of Jesus! :-) I snapped this photo from a painting, while at a retreat. It's a great representation of Jesus -- this is the kind of Jesus that children loved: the irresistible smile and humor, pure laughter from the heart! He probably just cracked a perfect joke, right before the artist caught this canvas. :-) Stop for a moment, and visualize the smile of Jesus, the very smile of God upon you. You are His child, and He is for you!

Hear this word, and hope:

The LORD your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,

He will quiet you with his love,

He will rejoice over you with singing! [Zeph. 3:17]



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A healing freedom: The fear of the Lord

The fear of the Lord

The fear of the Lord is a powerful spiritual principle, a weapon for good, yet it is often misunderstood. Understood properly, it is freeing and life-giving, life-affirming; however, understood negatively, it can keep a son or daughter of God at arms length, not fully trusting Abba.

Consider the following verses:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. [Proverbs 9:10]

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow His precepts have good understanding.
To Him belongs eternal praise. [Psalm 111:10]

There are a constellation of verses that mirror this same concept. It is emphasized often in Scripture, and for good reason. Yet, consider these verses:

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him or her. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. [1 John 4:16-18]

Here is the apparent contradiction: if the one fearing is not fully accessing divine love, then why are we instructed to fear the Lord? If perfect love casts out fear, then how does Scripture tell us that the fear of the Lord is the key to spiritual wisdom and greatness?

The answer is in the nature of fear. The fears referenced here are two different things.

The fear of the Lord is a numinous awe, a reverence related to worship. It is a daily thing. The best definition of the fear of the Lord is this: living in continual awareness of the presence of God. It is living daily in the knowledge that the Spirit of God is with us, in us – looking over our shoulder, guarded by the Angel of the Lord.

There is a negative fear, a crippling anxiety that keeps us from being all we were meant to be – that is not the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord – living daily in His presence of love – frees us from those other hurtful fears. Bathed in Love, we are clean from the anxiety of the world. We are freed from the factors of punishment – whether this be without or within.

  • True fear of the Lord frees us to real life, abundant life.
  • False fear cripples us and keeps us from true life.

The key is the love and continual awareness of God. Live today in His presence, as if every action and thought is guarded by Him – see what a difference it makes in the fears of the world!


Monday, September 15, 2008

A word for the day: Ask of me, says the Lord!

Bow to the Lord in perfect fear: Live anew, ask!

Psalm 2

Why are the nations in an uproar?
Why do the peoples mutter empty threats?
Why do the kings of the earth rise up in revolt
and the princes plot together,
against the Lord and against his anointed?
'Let us break their yoke', they say;
'let us cast off their bonds from us.'
He whose throne is in heaven is laughing;
the Lord has them in derision.
Then he speaks to them in his wrath
and his rage fills them with terror.
'I myself have set my king
upon my holy hill of Zion.'
Let me announce the decree of the Lord:
he said to me, 'You are my Son;
this day have I begotten you.
'Ask of me and I will give you the nations for
your inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.
'You shall crush them with an iron rod
and shatter them like a piece of pottery.'
And now, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Submit to the Lord with fear,
and with trembling bow before him;
Lest he be angry and you perish;
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Happy are they all
who take refuge in him!


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Misty mountains of hope

Here's a nice shot of the Cascades around Mt. Rainier, from my trip this summer. It's a mystic shot, the mists and the grandeur, framed heights and trees, distant river. Enjoy! :-)

The mysteries of praise: all our strength

The numinous mysteries of God

Ecclesiasticus 43 selections

By His plan He stilled the deep
and planted islands in it.
Those who sail the sea tell of its dangers,
and we marvel at what we hear.
In it are strange and marvellous creatures,
all kinds of living things, and huge sea-monsters.
Because of Him each of His messengers succeeds,
and by His word all things hold together.

We could say more but could never say enough;
let the final word be: 'He is the all!'
Where can we find the strength to praise Him?
For He is greater than all His works.
Awesome is the Lord and very great,
and marvellous is His power.
Glorify the Lord and exalt Him as much as you can,
for He surpasses even that.
When you exalt Him, summon all your strength,
and do not grow weary, for you cannot praise Him enough.
Who has seen Him and can describe him?
Or who can extol Him as He is?
Many things greater than these lie hidden,
for I have seen but few of His works.
For the Lord has made all things,
and to the godly He has given wisdom.


Monday, September 08, 2008

A word for the day: rejoice in hope!

A destiny of affliction and glory

Rejoice in hope.

Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. — “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” — That no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. — May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. — Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory. — Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God

Rom. 12:12; Acts 14:22; Luke 14:27; 1 Thess. 3:3; Phil. 4:4; Rom. 15:13; 1 Pet. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:8; Rom. 5:2

A destiny of victory: mighty warrior

Psalm 45 selection

Grace flows from your lips,
because God has blessed you for ever.
Strap your sword upon your thigh, O mighty warrior,
in your pride and in your majesty.
Ride out and conquer in the cause of truth
and for the sake of justice.
Your right hand will show you marvellous things;
your arrows are very sharp, O mighty warrior.
The peoples are falling at your feet,
and the king's enemies are losing heart.
Your throne, O God, endures for ever and ever,
a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of your kingdom;
you love righteousness and hate iniquity;
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
All your garments are fragrant with myrrh, aloes and cassia,
and the music of strings from ivory palaces makes you glad!


Sunday, September 07, 2008

A word for the day: adversity, loving-kindness, return

Hear the sound of loving-kindness in the morning!

Psalm 90 selection

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!


Love bears, believes, hopes and endures

1 Cor. 13 selection

Love bears all things and believes all things;
love hopes all things and endures all things.
Love never ends...


Saturday, September 06, 2008

All you need to start an asylum

Quote for the day:

“All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people.”

–Eugene Pallette, “My Man Godfrey” (1936)

lol, nice!

And it's the quality, not the quantity, remember! Case in point: This room is empty except for me, and it's a pretty good start already! :-)


The darkness, the stairway, the stone

Nearer, my God, to thee!

Words: Sarah Adams, 1841
Tune: Bethany

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
darkness be over me, my rest a stone.
yet in my dreams I'd be nearer, my God to thee.

Nearer, my God, to thee,
nearer to thee!

There let the way appear, steps unto heav'n;
all that thou sendest me, in mercy given;
angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to thee.

Nearer, my God, to thee,
nearer to thee!

Then, with my waking thoughts bright with thy praise,
out of my stony griefs Bethel I'll raise;
so by my woes to be nearer, my God, to thee.

Nearer, my God, to thee,
nearer to thee!


Friday, September 05, 2008

A word for the day: grace, endurance, hope

A song of the justified: Hope is not in vain

Romans 5 selections

Through Christ we have gained access
to the grace in which we stand,
and rejoice in our hope of the glory of God.
We even exult in our sufferings,
for suffering produces endurance,
And endurance brings hope,
and our hope is not in vain,
Because God's love has been poured into our hearts,
through the Holy Spirit, given to us.


Monday, September 01, 2008

A theology of blessed work

All labor gained new dignity

Words: John Oxenham, 1920
Tune: Labor

All labor gained new dignity
since He who all creation made
toiled with His hands for daily bread
right manfully.

No work is commonplace, if all
be done as unto Him alone;
life's simplest toil to Him is known
who knoweth all.

Each smallest common thing He makes
serves Him with its minutest part;
man only with his wand'ring heart
His way forsakes.

His service is life's highest joy,
it yields fair fruit a hundred fold:
be this our prayer--"Not fame, nor gold,
but--thine employ!"