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!