Monday, December 28, 2009
Words: Jean Mauburn, 1494; trans. Elizabeth Charles, 1858
Dost thou in a manger lie,
who hast all created,
stretching infant hands on high,
Savior, long awaited?
If a monarch, where thy state?
Where thy court on thee to wait?
Royal purple, where?
Here no regal pomp we see,
nought but need and penury:
why thus cradled here?
"Pitying love for fallen man
brought me down thus low;
for a race deep lost in sin
came I into woe.
By this lowly birth of mine,
sinner, riches shall be thine,
matchless gifts and free;
willingly this yoke I take,
and this sacrifice I make,
heaping joys for thee."
Fervent praise would I do to thee
evermore be raising;
for thy wondrous love to me
thee be ever praising.
Glory, glory be for ever
unto that most bounteous Giver,
and that loving Lord!
Better witness to thy worth,
purer praise than ours on earth,
angels' songs afford.
Friday, December 25, 2009
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Merry Christmas to each of you, as you carry your burdens and pray your prayers, and trust, even as you walk through the darkness... light dawns for you! Alleluia!
Be blessed this night, this holy day!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Oremus, Dec. 22
The world is waiting restlessly for you, Lord, to come.
Reward us who wait for you
with surprises we cannot anticipate.
As Mary was astounded by Gabriel's announcement,
so also amaze us with promises beyond our comprehension,
even with responsibilities we fear to accept.
Come, Lord Jesus, come!
Speak the word to us
that the power of the Holy Spirit will come upon us
that we may fulfill all you have called us to be.
Come, Lord Jesus, come!
In these final hours of waiting,
prepare us to plumb the depths
of your incarnation's mystery.
Come, Lord Jesus, come!
Enable us to bear the fruits of repentance,
lest the outward celebrations of Christmas
not be enacted with the inward reality of faith each day.
Come, Lord Jesus, come!
Inhabit us continually with your Living Word,
as for centuries you have filled your people with transforming love.
Come, Lord Jesus, come!
So satisfy the cravings of the human heart,
that, having seen the great things come to pass,
your people may glorify you and give you praise.
Come, Lord Jesus, come!
God of grace,
your eternal Word took flesh among us
when Mary placed her life at the service of your will:
Prepare our hearts for his coming again;
keep us steadfast in hope and faithful in service,
that we may receive the coming of his kingdom,
for the sake of Jesus Christ the ruler of all,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Words: Piae cantiones, 1582; trans. John Mason Neale (1818-1866)
Tune: Angelus emittitur
Gabriel's message does away
Satan's curse and Satan's sway,
out of darkness brings our Day:
All the gates of heaven unfold.
He that comes despised shall reign;
he that cannot die, be slain;
death by death its death shall gain:
All the gates of heaven unfold.
Weakness shall the strong confound;
by the hands, in grave clothes wound,
Adam's chains shall be unbound.
All the gates of heaven unfold.
By the sword that was His own,
by that sword, and that alone,
shall Goliath be o'erthrown:
All the gates of heaven unfold.
Art by art shall be assailed;
to the cross shall Life be nailed;
from the grave shall hope be hailed:
All the gates of heaven unfold!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Words: John Byrom (@1692-1763)
Tune: Amen Court
My spirit longs for thee
within my troubled breast,
though I unworthy be
of so divine a guest.
Of so divine a guest
unworthy though I be,
yet has my heart no rest
unless it come from thee.
Unless it come from thee,
in vain I look around;
in all that I can see
no rest is to be found.
No rest is to be found
but in thy blessèd love:
O let my wish be crowned,
and send it from above!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Words: Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Tune: Pleading Savior
Light of those whose dreary dwelling
Borders on the shades of death,
Come, and by Thy love's revealing
Dissipate the clouds beneath;
The new heaven and earth's Creator,
In our deepest darkness rise,
Scattering all the night of nature,
Pouring eyesight on our eyes.
Still we wait for Thine appearing;
Life and joy Thy beams impart,
Chasing all our fears, and cheering
Every poor benighted heart:
Come, and manifest the favor
God hath for our ransomed race;
Come, Thou universal Savior,
Come, and bring the gospel grace.
Save us in Thy great compassion,
O Thou kind, pacific Prince;
Give the knowledge of salvation,
Give the pardon of our sins:
By Thy all-restoring merit
Every burdened soul release;
Every weary, wandering spirit
Guide into Thy perfect peace.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Words: Morgan Rhys (1716-1779) translated by Edward M Powell (1852-1928)
When oceans vast their depths reveal
And moons have ceased to wane,
The Lamb who died and rose again,
On Zion's hill shall reign.
His glorious Name must long endure
When suns have ceased to shine,
And through eternity the saints
Will sing His praise divine.
As countless as the drops of dew,
Or sand upon the shore,
Are blessings which the ransomed have
In Him for evermore.
Let every other name recede,
His Name alone extol;
In Him reserved, there is the grace
To satisfy my soul.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
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.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Words: Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
Begin the day with God:
He is the rising Sun,
His is the radiance of thy dawn,
His the fresh day begun.
Sing a new song at morn;
Join the glad woods and hills;
Join the fresh winds and seas and plains;
Join the bright flowers and rills.
Awake, cold lips, and sing;
Arise, dull heart, and pray;
Lift up, O man, thy heart and eyes;
Brush slothfulness away.
Cast every weight aside;
Do battle with each sin;
Fight with the faithless world without,
The faithless heart within.
Look up beyond these clouds,
Thither thy pathway lies;
Mount up, away, and linger not,
Thy goal is yonder skies!
Monday, November 30, 2009
Words: Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) translated by John Wesley (1703-1791)
O Thou to whose all-searching sight
The darkness shineth as the light,
Search, prove my heart; it pants for Thee;
O burst these bonds, and set it free!
Wash out its stains, refine its dross,
Nail my affections to the Cross;
Hallow each thought; let all within
Be clean, as Thou, my Lord, art clean.
When rising floods my soul o'erflow,
When sinks my heart in waves of woe,
Jesu, Thy timely aid impart
And raise my head, and cheer my heart.
Saviour, where'er Thy steps I see,
Dauntless, untired, I follow Thee;
O let Thy hand support me still,
And lead me to Thy holy hill!
Friday, November 27, 2009
This week I went to see the movie 2012. People streamed out of the movie, commenting on trying to find a safe place to live -- maybe in Africa? Himalayas?
These thoughts may be natural and understandable, but they are not accurate. Nor ultimately salvific. Salvation is not by means of "a safe place" or billion dollar seat on a postmodern Ark. Salvation is all about the inner recesses of the heart, in relation with the Lord of eternity.
Listen to the words of Scripture:
First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!’ They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless.
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed. [2 Pet. 3:3-10].
A hard heart says, "Let me spend whatever I must spend to live somewhere 'safe,' but let me not change my way of life! Let me not change my focus, let me not change my heart -- no!"
But a heart softened by grace and yearning for God says, "Lord, teach me your ways. Set me right with you, so that I will be ready for you, whenever that day may come!"
Words: Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
Come, Lord, and tarry not;
Bring the long-looked-for day;
O why these years of waiting here,
These ages of delay?
Come, for Thy saints still wait;
Daily ascends their sigh;
The Spirit and the bride say, Come;
Wilt Thou not hear the cry?
Come in Thy glorious might,
Come with the iron rod;
Scattering Thy foes before Thy face,
Most mighty Son of God.
Come, and make all things new;
Build up this ruined earth;
Restore our faded paradise,
Creation's second birth.
Come, and begin Thy reign
Of everlasting peace;
Come, take the kingdom to Thyself,
Great King of Righteousness!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Words: John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
Tune: Tallis Ordinal
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.
Thou judgest us: Thy purity
Doth all our lusts condemn;
The love that draws us nearer Thee
Is hot with wrath to them.
Our thoughts lie open to Thy sight;
And, naked to Thy glance,
Our secret sins are in the light
Of Thy pure countenance.
Yet, weak and blinded though we be,
Thou dost our service own;
We bring our varying gifts to Thee,
And Thou rejectest none.
Apart from Thee all gain is loss,
All labour vainly done;
The solemn shadow of Thy Cross
Is better than the sun.
Our Friend, our Brother, and our Lord,
What may Thy service be?
Nor name, nor form, nor ritual word,
But simply following Thee.
We faintly hear, we dimly see;
In differing phrase we pray;
But, dim or clear, we own in Thee
The Light, the Truth, the Way!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Here's a nice view of the Okee-Tantie Marina and Campground, from the western overlook of the Kissimmee River. Off to the far right is Lake Okeechobee, Kissimmee entrance. I like this view, an idyllic day, and highlighted in the brilliant amber of the clear sunlight, cloud layers upon layers... enjoy!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Words: Cecil Arthur Spring-Rice (1859-1918)
I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
the love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
that lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
the love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
the love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
And there's another country, I've heard of long ago,
most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
we may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
and soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
and her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.
The bartender approaches and tells the cowboy, "You know, a mug goes flat after I draw it. It would taste better if you bought one at a time."
The cowboy replies, "Well, you see, I have two brothers. One is in , the other is in Colorado. When we all left our home in Texas, we promised that we'd drink this way to remember the days when we drank together. So I'm drinking one beer for each of my brothers and one for myself."
The bartender admits that this is a nice custom, and leaves it there.
The cowboy becomes a regular in the bar, and always drinks the same way. He orders three mugs and drinks them in turn.
One day, he comes in and only orders two mugs. All the regulars take notice and fall silent. When he comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says, "I don't want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences on your loss."
The cowboy looks quite puzzled for a moment, then a light dawns in his eyes and he laughs.
"Oh, no, everybody's just fine," he explains, "It's just that my wife and I joined the Baptist Church and I had to quit drinking."
"Hasn't affected my brothers though."
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Caption: The real reason why the dinosaurs went extinct!
Commentary: Your day is not as bad as you think it is! The Ark hasn't sailed without you, whatever else has gone on today... so celebrate: you are not too late, your destiny is right on time, your call is waiting! :-)
The game warden asked him, 'Do you have a license to catch those fish?' 'Nah, sir', replied the Cracker. 'I ain't got one a’ them thyar licenses. I don’ nayed a license, cause these hyar are my pet fiyush.'
'Yeah. Pet fiyush! Evr’y night, ah’ take these hyar fiyush down to mah’ lake and jus’ let 'em swiyum aroun' for awhile. Then, when ah’ whistle, they jump ryaht back into these hyar coolahs an' I take 'em home.'
'That's a bunch of hooey! Fish can't do that.'
The Cracker looked at the warden for a moment and then said, 'It's da Gospel truth, Mr. Gov’mint Man. I'll show ya. It really works.'
'O. K.', said the warden. 'I've got to see this!'
The Cracker poured the fish into the lake and stood and waited. After several minutes, the warden says, 'Well?'
'Wayell, what?', says the Cracker.
The warden says, 'When are you going to call them back?'
'Call who bayck?'
'The FISH', replied the warden!
'What fiyush?' replied the Cracker.
Moral of the story: We may not be as smart as some city slickers, but we ain't as dumb as some government employees.
You can say what you want about the South, but how often do you hear of someone retiring and moving north?
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Here, on the Florida prairie, the rays of the setting sun split into pink and blue, an infinite candlepower lightshow of exquisite beauty... a moment in time, a moment of worship and Creator love! Enjoy!
Friday, October 16, 2009
Words: Cecilia M Caddell (1813-1877)
Behold the lilies of the field,
they neither toil nor sow;
yet God does all things needful yield
that they may live and grow.
Not Solomon in glory shone
like one of these poor flowers,
that look to God and God alone
for sunshine and for showers.
And does His mercy value less
the offspring of His grace?
And will a Father's love not bless
the child that seeks His face?
He is our Father, and He knows
His earthly children's need:
on all our daily wants and woes
He looks with careful heed.
O then away with fear and care
for all that may betide;
and turn to God in trustful prayer,
and in His love confide.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Words: Christian L Scheidt (1709-1761)
By grace I'm saved, grace free and boundless;
My soul, believe and doubt it not.
Why stagger at this word of promise?
Hath scripture ever falsehood taught?
No! then this word must true remain:
By grace thou, too, shalt heaven obtain.
By grace! None dare lay claim to merit;
Our works and conduct have no worth.
God in His love sent our Redeemer,
Christ Jesus, to this sinful earth;
His death did for our sins atone
And we are saved by grace alone.
By grace! O, mark this word of promise
When thou art by thy sins oppressed,
When Satan plagues thy troubled conscience
And when thy heart is seeking rest.
What reason cannot comprehend
God by His grace to thee doth send.
By grace! This ground of faith is certain;
So long as God is true, it stands.
What saints have penned by inspiration,
What in His word our God commands,
What our whole faith must rest upon,
Is grace alone, grace in His Son.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Words: Scottish Paraphrases (1781)
Though trouble springs not from the dust,
nor sorrow from the ground;
Yet ills on ills, by Heav'n's decree,
in man's estate are found.
As sparks in close succession rise,
so man, the child of woe,
Is doom'd to endless cares and toils
through all his life below.
But with my God I leave my cause;
from Him I seek relief;
To Him, in confidence of pray'r,
unbosom all my grief.
Unnumber'd are His wondrous works,
unseachable His ways;
'Tis His the mourning soul to cheer,
the bowed down to raise.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?
Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you?
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Thank you, Amber! You blessed me so much with your special card... and I love the faith remembrance! I now have one on my office desk and at home, thanks to you! :-)
And, a very special thank you to each one of you who made the huge surprise party a success. You could have knocked me over w. a feather! You pulled it off... and Joyce with the veggie cake! Oh my goodness: who would've thunk it? And the cake w. my picture on it... a work of art! I never would have imagined such works of art, and each card and gift were simply perfect. THANK YOU, all!
I love you all, and bless you! :-)
Tune: Abridge, Arlington
O for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free,
A heart that always feels thy blood
So freely spilt for me;
A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
My great redeemer's throne,
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone;
A humble, lowly, contrite heart,
Believing, true, and clean;
Which neither life nor death can part
From him that dwells within;
A heart in every thought renewed,
And full of love divine;
Perfect, and right, and pure, and good,
A copy, Lord, of thine!
My heart, thou know'st, can never rest
Till thou create my peace:
Till of mine Eden repossest,
From self, and sin, I cease.
Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart;
Come quickly from above,
Write thy new name upon my heart,
Thy new, best .
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Solitude is to be preserved, not as a luxury but as a necessity: not for "perfection" so much as for simple "survival" in the life God has given you. Hence, you must know when, how, and to whom you must say "no." This involves considerable difficulty at times. You must not hurt people, or want to hurt them, yet you must not placate them at the price of infidelity to higher and more essential values.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Here is a neat story recounted by Elisabeth Elliot, as told to her by Brenda Folz. The original version in the first person can be found here, on Elisabeth's website.
Lost and Found
It was Brenda's first climb. Halfway to the top of the tremendous granite cliff, she stood on a ledge and took a breather. As she rested there, the safety rope snapped against her eye and knocked out her contact lens . "Great," she thought. "Here I am on a rock ledge, hundreds of feet from the bottom and hundreds of feet to the top of this cliff, and now my sight is blurry."
She looked and looked, hoping that somehow it had landed on the ledge. But it just wasn't there.
She felt anxiety rising in her, so she began praying. She prayed for calm, and she prayed that she might find her contact lens.
When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but it was not to be found. Although she was calm now that she was at the top, she was saddened because she could not clearly see across the range of mountains. She thought of a partial verse, "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth."
She thought, "Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me."
Later, when they had hiked down the trail to the bottom of the cliff they met another party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted out, "Hey, you guys! Anybody lose a contact lens?"
Well, that would be startling enough, but you know why the climber saw it? An ant was moving slowly across a twig on the face of the rock, carrying it!
The story doesn't end there. Brenda's father is a cartoonist. When she told him the incredible story of the ant, the prayer, and the contact lens, he drew a cartoon of an ant lugging that contact lens with the caption, "Lord, I don't know why You want me to carry this thing. I can't eat it, and it's awfully heavy. But if this is what You want me to do, I'll carry it."
Perhaps when we carry something heavy that we can't understand, we can pray, "God, I don't know why you want me to carry this load. I can see no good in it and it's awfully heavy. But, if you want me to carry it, I will."
God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called!
Carry, trust and smile!
Note: This story is often wrongly attributed to people who forward it on email. But the real story comes from Brenda Folz via Elisabeth Elliot, and retold in Elisabeth's book, A Quiet Heart, under the title of "Lost and Found."
Note: I can believe this story, because I've had at least one similar story happen to me personally. You can read that story here: The Miracle of the Lost Lens.
Note: And remember that God doesn't always lead us to the items, even though He surely does know where they are! A good friend recounted a story of a lost item, in which God chose to answer with a larger lesson -- larger than the item itself! So always trust and hope!
Friday, September 18, 2009
May His wounds both wound and heal me,
He enkindle, cleanse, and heal me,
be His cross my hope and stay.
May He, when the mountains quiver,
from that flame which burns for ever
shield me on the judgment day.
Jesus, may thy cross defend me,
and thy saving death befriend me,
cherished by thy deathless grace:
when to dust my dust returneth,
grant a soul that to thee yearneth
in thy paradise a place.
From "At the cross her station keeping." Words: Latin, thirteenth century; trans. The English Hymnal, 1906. Tune: Stabat mater.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:
'Let me see if I've got this right.
'You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.
'You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.
'You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.
'You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.
'You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.
'You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.
'You want me to do all this and then you tell me... I CAN'T PRAY?
Think about it! I received this on email and had to blog it.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Hello friends. Here's an old Far Side comic that I saw yesterday... when I first saw it, it stumped me. Gary Larsen, creator of Far Side, often tossed in esoteric humor. He'd made his readers work for some comics, really making people think to get that "aha!"
Well, this one is FAR OUT on the Far Side, lol. I think I have it now, but I'm putting it out there to see who can come up w. the best explanation of this comic: here it is just as originally printed, no caption or explanatory notes.
I've enabled comments for this post. Fire away!
If someone can beat my explanation, I'll send them 20 dollars in dollar coins. Note: I've emailed my explanation to myself, so it is timestamped on email, for verification.
Here's a comic by Michael Ramirez... sometimes we have to turn to humor, when the reality is so bleak that it's heartrending. Is it altruism driving this unrestrained, forced assault on American economic lifeblood? A breathtaking blitzkrieg on working people and productive citizens that is completely partisan in nature... is it altruism that drives this? And will it really fix our flawed system -- an imperfect system that is still without peer among the socialistic alternatives in Europe and Canada, whose rich flee their systems and come here when desiring the best treatment?
Those who think this is good for the American people must not be able to see that deficit spending is now in a death spiral... I ask these fellow Americans to please take a serious look at where the money is going, how it is being managed, its long term implications, etc. These multi-trillion dollar deficit numbers are beyond belief: to what end?
Responsible supporters of health care reform would never manage their personal finances this way, because they understand consequences. But when this administration does this purposefully, for expressed social engineering ends, it's somehow good?
These actions are good for America like Arafat was good for Palestinians: turning himself into nearly a billionaire and making cronies rich, while reducing his people to squalor.
Think about it.
Sometimes you have to laugh, or you'll cry!
God bless you today, and help you. Please be prayerful, even if you've not been that way before.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence, there would be no rhythm. If we strive to be happy by filling in the silences of life with sound, productive by turning all life's leisure into work, and real by turning all our being into doing, we will only succeed in producing a hell on earth. If we have not silence, God is not heard in our music. If we have not rest, God does not bless our work. If we twist our lives out of shape in order to fill every corner of them with action and experience, God will seem silently to withdraw from our hearts and leave us empty.
Source: Through the Year With Thomas Merton
Saturday, September 05, 2009
God's artistry is the best; the pinnacle of human abstract or realistic art, and everything in between, is only a pale imitation of what is, and the transcendent best that it evokes. Enjoy a scene from this week, the palette of God and the Kissimmee River, blues and pinks and divine hues. Shalom!
Friday, September 04, 2009
Words: attributed to Gregory the Great (545-604), translated John D Chambers (1805-1893)
Tune: Deus tuorum militum
Maker of man, who from thy throne
Dost order all things, God alone;
By whose decree the teeming earth
To reptile and to beast gave birth:
The mighty forms that fill the land,
Instinct with life at thy command,
Are given subdued to humankind
For service in their rank assigned.
From all thy servants drive away
Whate'er of thought impure today
Hath been with open action blent,
Or mingled with the heart's intent,
In heaven thine endless joys bestow,
And grant thy gifts of grace below;
From chains of strife our souls release,
Bind fast the gentle bands of peace.
O Father, that we ask be done,
Through Jesus Christ, thine only Son;
Who, with the Holy Ghost and thee,
Doth live and reign eternally.
You who fear the Lord, wait for His mercy;
do not stray, or else you may fall.
You who fear the Lord, trust in Him,
and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the Lord, hope for good things,
for lasting joy and mercy.
Consider the generations of old and see:
has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed?
Or has anyone persevered in the fear of the Lord and been forsaken?
Or has anyone called upon Him and been neglected?
For the Lord is compassionate and merciful;
He forgives sins and saves in time of distress.
Note: Ivan, of Brothers Karamazov, would answer this rhetorical question, yes. "Yes, many have trusted in the Lord and been disappointed!" But Dostoevsky, the author of Brothers Karamazov, would answer resoundingly, no! No, the one who trusts in the Lord will not be disappointed. How can such an author, who utterly believes in God, pen the strongest literary argument against God? It baffled critics in his day, and confounds critics still. Why? How? The answer brings light. And it is for you, faithful reader, to discern!
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Nice sky, amber light effects on trees and grass, highlighting the ruddy cows... greys and blues and misty whites hanging tapestry in the sky, centering colors of the covenant promise. Enjoy!
Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Arise, my soul, my joyful powers,
And triumph in my God;
Awake, my voice, and loud proclaim
His glorious grace abroad.
He raised me from the depths of sin,
The gates of gaping hell,
And fixed my standing more secure
Than 'twas before I fell.
The arms of everlasting love
Beneath my soul He placed;
And on the Rock of Ages set
My slippery footsteps fast.
The city of my blest abode
Is walled around with grace;
Salvation for a bulwark stands
To shield the sacred place.
Satan may vent his sharpest spite,
And all his legions roar:
Almighty mercy guards my life,
And bounds his raging power.
Arise, my soul, awake, my voice,
And tunes of pleasures sing;
Loud hallelujahs shall address
My Savior and my King.
Friday, August 28, 2009
I saw this cartoon of Moses and Aaron at the Red Sea, where Aaron's got his floatie on just in cast the whole sea crossing thing doesn't work out, lol. Just had to smile! Because it is so true of human nature. When that one moment arrives where we have to push off and live what we say we believe, it's a pausing moment: do I really believe that God has spoken? And am I really willing to trust His voice over my own -- my natural desires, inclinations and comfort zones?
As I thought about it, I realized that hope is all about trust.
When the ancient words tell us to Hope in the Lord, when God speaks through the prophets and says, "Hope you in the Lord and renew your strength!" what does it mean, except to trust in the Lord, even to the exclusion of our own natural wisdom?
When the psalmist tells us that God takes pleasure in those who wait for Him, he is speaking of a kind of expectant waiting, where we wait in trust, expecting God to keep His word, even in His timing.
Likewise, delighting in the Lord is also about placing one's whole being in what God delights in, the highest order of trust... we cannot escape trust! Hope is inextricably linked with trust, but it then is also forever linked with the character of God: the joy of the Lord then becomes our strength, our heart and character remade in divine intent: a paradox, a miracle of grace and transformation.
So, loose the floatie! Trust. Jump in. Enter the miracle. Journey.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
O city of our God
The Most High himself shall sustain her
On the holy mountain stands the city he has founded;
the Lord loves the gates of Zion
more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of our God.
I count Egypt and Babylon among those who know me;
behold Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia:
in Zion were they born.
Of Zion it shall be said, ‘Everyone was born in her,
and the Most High himself shall sustain her.’
The Lord will record as he enrols the peoples,
‘These also were born there.’
The singers and the dancers will say,
‘All my fresh springs are in you.’
I joy’d when to the house of God
Words: Scottish Psalter (1650)
I joy'd when to the house of God,
Go up, they said to me.
Jerusalem, within thy gates
our feet shall standing be.
Jerus'lem, as a city, is
compactly built together:
Unto that place the tribes go up,
the tribes of God go thither:
To Isr'el's testimony, there
to God's name thanks to pay.
For thrones of judgment, ev'n the thrones
of David's house, there stay.
Pray that Jerusalem may have
peace and felicity:
Let them that love thee and thy peace
have still prosperity.
Therefore I wish that peace may still
within thy walls remain,
And ever may thy palaces
Now, for my friends' and brethren's sakes,
Peace be in thee, I'll say.
And for the house of God our Lord,
I'll seek thy good alway.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
If the Lord had not been on our side
If the Lord had not been on our side,
let Israel now say;
If the Lord had not been on our side,
when enemies rose up against us;
Then would they have swallowed us up alive
in their fierce anger towards us;
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us
and the torrent gone over us;
Then would the raging waters
have gone right over us.
Blessed be the Lord!
he has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowler;
the snare is broken and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.
Those who trust are like Mount Zion
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but stands fast for ever.
The hills stand about Jerusalem;
so does the Lord stand round about his people,
from this time forth for evermore.
The sceptre of the wicked shall not hold sway
over the land allotted to the just,
so that the just shall not put their hands to evil.
Show your goodness, O Lord, to those who are good
and to those who are true of heart.
As for those who turn aside to crooked ways,
the Lord will lead them away with the evildoers;
but peace be upon Israel.
A Song of Divine Love
1 Corinthians 13:4-13
Love is patient and kind,
love is not jealous or boastful,
it is not arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way,
it is not angry or resentful.
It does not rejoice in wrongdoing
but rejoices in the truth.
Love bears all things and believes all things;
love hopes all things and endures all things.
Love will never come to an end,
but prophecy will vanish,
tongues cease and knowledge pass away.
Now we know only in part
and we prophesy only in part,
But when the perfect comes,
the partial shall pass away.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
But when I became mature,
I put an end to childish ways.
For now we see only puzzling reflections in a mirror,
but then we will see face to face.
Now I know only in part;
then I shall know fully,
even as I have been fully known.
There are three things that last for ever,
faith, hope and love,
but the greatest of these is love.
W originally killed the "End of Life" counseling pamphlet/questionnaire created for the VA which apparently has just been rolled out by the Obama Administration for use against the borderline VA patient population of veterans.
What remains too often unstated is not the impact of the questions, but the damage done by the process itself which requires the target to submit obediently to the process of confessing their deepest fears and darkest self-effacing doubts to a dominating third-party who sits in judgement; a third party whose purpose and implicit goal is to accelerate the death of the human target of such questionnaires.
Admittedly, my familiarity with the invaluable work of Victor Frankl predisposes me to a deep bias against the european eugenics traditions which have infiltrated and corrupted our medical schools under this Orwellian ruse they call "Bioethics." Rudy Rummel's work on Democide speaks volumes to the morbid productiveness of such political largesse. These "enlightened" medical and political professionals pushing Obamacare are more of the same old crowd, all they way down to the true believer psychosis that's whispers in their ear how they indeed are doing the right thing.
Quoted from a thoughtful comment here.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I don't take it personally when people call me lazy, because in my heart I know I'm not lazy. I just choose not to work.
Jon Voight quoted at Inside the Beltway:
"We are witnessing a slow, steady takeover of our true freedoms. We are becoming a socialist nation, and whoever can't see this is probably hoping it isn't true. If we permit Mr. Obama to take over all our industries, if we permit him to raise our taxes to support unconstitutional causes, then we will be in default. This great America will become a paralyzed nation."
More here. Worth reading.
Why are people scared? The government is about to take over one-sixth of the nation’s economy, even though soaring deficits make it clear that it can’t properly handle what’s on the plate now. It just fumbled a stimulus package and a program to kill old cars, and somehow people have the notion that this competence will continue with something more vital — their health care. They don’t want the government in charge of those decisions and invading their personal lives. The only surprise here is that elected officials didn’t see this coming, although clearly the White House had an inkling — which is why they tried to rush the bill through to a vote.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
"For true love is inexhaustible;the more you give,the more you have.And if you go to drawat the true fountainhead,the more water you draw,the more abundant is its flow.”
Saturday, August 08, 2009
C.S. Lewis speaks:
Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
Consider these words in an age when the national deficit gets tripled+ in two months, and moral language is used to force even worse fiscal abuses and future indebtedness on the nation... it's urgent, it must happen, "it's for the good of the people." Note: When politicians start talking about the good of the people meanwhile excluding themselves from the mandated 'good,' it's not good -- benevolence is not the point.
It's the worst kind of hypocrisy and the point is not benevolent. This mind-boggling dept is going somewhere... and the blatant hypocrisy of the leaders should be a neon sign, to those with eyes to see and ears to hear.
All honest Americans should be asking incisively, what is the unspoken chain behind these all these initiatives, in the forms now forced upon us:
- government takeover of industry
- government takeover of finance
- health care 'reform'
- deficit spending
Friday, August 07, 2009
When he comes who is the Spirit of truth, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own authority; he will speak only what he hears. He will make known to you the things that are to come. John 16:13
Dear Father in heaven, grant your Spirit to us, your children. May something from you be revealed on earth so that divine strength and divine truth, not what is only human, are with us in all we do. Keep courage alive in our hearts even when things look dark. May powers of peace and healing be revealed through us because you are near and your kingdom is all around us. You can do all things, also things beyond our understanding. With your help we do what we are able, but we cannot do what you do.
We trust in you, and we believe that through your power and your Spirit you will take possession of our whole lives and the lives of the many who sigh in their hearts for absolute truth.
Christoph Blumhardt, Lift Up Thine Eyes: Evening Prayers for Every Day of the Year. Reprinted from www.bruderhof.com. Copyright 2002 by The Bruderhof Foundation, Inc. Used with permission.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
To be "thought of" kindly by many and to "think of" them kindly is only a diluted benevolence, a collective illusion of friendship. Its function is not the sharing of love but complicity in a mutual reassurance that is based on nothing. Instead of cultivating this diffuse aura of benevolence, you should enter with trepidation into the deep and genuine concern for those few persons God has committed to your care.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Words: William Tidd Matson (1833-1899)
Lord I was blind: I could not see
in thy marred visage any grace;
but now the beauty of thy face
in radiant vision dawns on me.
Lord, I was deaf: I could not hear
the thrilling music of thy voice;
but now I hear thee and rejoice,
and all thine uttered words are dear.
Lord, I was dumb: I could not speak
the grace and glory of thy name:
but now, as touched with living flame,
my lips thine eager praises wake.
Lord I was dead: I could not stir
my lifeless soul to come to thee:
but now, since thou hast quickened me,
I rise from sin's dark sepulchre.
Lord, thou hast made the blind to see,
the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak,
the dead to live: and lo, I break
the chains of my captivity.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
"The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance." Romans 2:4
The Cross of Christ is much more than a refuge from the repentance produced by God's holy law—it is the great and constant source of the truest repentance we can know. As the Cross retires from religion it becomes a religion more and more emptied of repentance.
... Culture, even moral culture, ousts theology, and its retreat goes with the abeyance of repentance. A humanist Christianity brings no repentance, or but a sentimental at most. There is a great phrase of Luther's which says "Theology makes sinners." Theology does. Orthodoxy does not, and philosophy does not, and litterae humaniores do not, nor does social reform. But theology does. It makes—not pedants (it is too near life), and not saints (it is too near the burning bush)—but it makes sinners, for God's love there makes repentance.
False culture says "No repentance. Sin is a superstition, a nightmare, the fancy of moral neurotics, the fiction of moral rigorists." False religion says "No more repentance. With your conversion, and your forgiveness, and your new sense that God is love, repentance has done its part. It is a frost to the blossom of Christian trust if it come again. Beware, for the sake of your healthy Christian growth, beware of a habit of repentance. Because some need grace, you may not. Or you may not need it all your life."
But you do not think that the prodigal settled in at home to a life of enjoyable religious interests; that he became a cheery and delightful optimist, of the sympathetic kind, which can be so devoid of any moral insight or measure of guilt. You do not think that he settled into his new spiritual place as dully as he found his brother settled in his social place. You do not think he was prepared to love everybody who was interesting enough to be loved, or important enough for him to wish to love, even if they laughed at the moral regulations of the old man's home or the costly passion of his grace. You do not think that he would settle down to hold his brother's view of their father to be as right in its way as his own, and as deserving of publication to the world.
When was his repentance deepest—on the way back, or in the new home? Was it while he expected his father's word of rebuke, or when he was overwhelmed by having no word of rebuke? Was it under the fear of condemnation, or under the experience of "no condemnation"? Was it in bracing himself for the penalty, or in his shock and bewilderment to find that there was none? Was it not, then, when he was taken aback by the absence of all censure, that he knew what guilt really was—when love was given him liberally, without upbraiding, without parade, or even indication, of its cost?
That is the word of the Cross. "I have seen to the judgment. I can provide for my own holiness. Let us not dwell on that now. That has been seen to. Thy sins are forgiven thee. Abide in My peace."
God says little of what His mercy cost Him—what it cost Him not to make it mercy, but because it was mercy. And in our wicked hours we say that if it had cost Him so much as some believe, He would not have been silent about it. How ignoble! If you did a fine thing which you paid for heavily, how would you regard the person who rasped out that if it had cost you so much we should soon all have heard of it? God is too great and royal to parade what it cost Him to save, and thrust His outlay in our face with His gift. But we cannot let it alone—the full mercy, the dreadful cost. His confessors, apostles, martyrs, say it for Him. The immeasurable love becomes the measure of our guilt. The prayer in an agony means the cost. The love which could find no utterance but the healing heartbreak of the Cross becomes an awful mercy. It is the goodness of God, His holy love, as it sinks in, that brings home to us what Schiller teaches, that "the greatest bane of life is guilt"; because it makes us first know and feel that the greatest boon of life is grace. Only the good know how bad they were. There are no pessimists like those who read the old ruin in the regenerating light. "Repent, for the kingdom of God is here." "Be confounded, for your Holy One is your Redeemer." Our greatest hope is our greatest humiliation. And where grace abounds there does sin abound. The Christian life is repentant praise; if much praise, much grief; if much good labour, also much deep sorrow; if much confidence, much amazement. And sin is always the more deeply confessed for ourselves and our world, because we confess much more than sin—a Saviour to our own worst depths and to the wide ends of the earth.
I found a verse of a foreign poetess once, just one verse quoted, and it set me thinking how the rest could have gone. I have translated the verse, and then gone on to continue the note.
"I was able to laugh, my heart was light,
When I stiffened to Thy displeasure;
But it broke me down to be forgiven
Without rebuke or measure."
I had set my face for a grudging grace,
My rags I was half parading;
But I never did look for the crushing rebuke—
To be taken without upbraiding.
To be stopped with a kiss in upbraiding myself,
To be stript of the rags I clung to;
To be treated as more than servant or son,
To be feted and fed, and sung to.
And of cost to Thee, as of wrath for me,
Thou wert dumb, in Thy lordly way;
Of Thyself unspared while thou sparedst me,
Of the ransom Thyself didst pay.
But can I sit mute in my Father's house?
Or remember without amaze?
Can I ever live but to bless Thee and serve,
And the deeper to grieve in praise?
Do I dream? Can I sleep under mercy deep?
'Twas a whole world's guilt I shared.
And my Saviour feels in me anew
The wound we all prepared.
P.T. Forsyth, "The Goodness of God," Revelation Old and New: Sermons and Addresses by P.T. Forsyth, edited by John Huxtable (London: Independent Press, 1962) [A College Communion address, as reported in The British Congregationalist, 10th August, 1911]. Full address at Paul Moser's Idolaters Anonymous page here.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Words: Jane Leeson (1809-1881)
Meter: 77 77
Loving Shepherd of your sheep,
keep your lamb, in safety keep;
nothing can your power withstand,
none can tear me from your hand.
Loving Lord, you chose to give
your own life that we might live;
and your hands outstretched to bless
bear the cruel nails' impress.
Help me praise you every day,
gladly serve you and obey;
like your glorious ones above,
happy in your precious love.
Loving Shepherd ever near,
teach your lamb your voice to hear;
let my footsteps never stray
from the true and narrow way.
Where you lead me I will go,
walking in your steps below;
till, before my Father's throne,
I shall know as I am known.
Bless our God, you peoples;
make the voice of his praise to be heard;
Who holds our souls in life,
and will not allow our feet to slip.
For you, O God, have proved us;
you have tried us just as silver is tried.
You brought us into the snare;
you laid heavy burdens upon our backs.
You let enemies ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water;
but you brought us out into a place of refreshment.
I will enter your house with burnt offerings
and will pay you my vows,
which I promised with my lips
and spoke with my mouth when I was in trouble.
I will offer you sacrifices of fat beasts
with the smoke of rams;
I will give you oxen and goats.
Come and listen, all you who fear God,
and I will tell you what he has done for me.
I called out to him with my mouth,
and his praise was on my tongue.
If I had found evil in my heart,
the Lord would not have heard me;
But in truth God has heard me;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer,
nor withheld his love from me.
Lift up your voice, fear not!
Go up to a high mountain,
herald of good tidings to Zion;
lift up your voice with strength,
herald of good tidings to Jerusalem.
Lift up your voice, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
See, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him.
Behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
God will feed his flock like a shepherd,
and gather the lambs in his arms;
He will carry them in his breast,
and gently lead those that are with young.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
God's call, vocation, is twofold. God calls us saying, 'Come and follow me.' We arrive and then we must follow. We find but must go on seeking. God's call is a never-ending call, to the unknown, to adventure, to follow him in the night, in solitude. It is a call incessantly to go further, and further. For it is not static but dynamic (as creation is also dynamic) and reaching him means going on and on. God's call is like the call to become an explorer; it is an invitation to adventure.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Here's a classic Old Florida scene. A lot going on in this pic, shapes of clouds and grass, panorama of bright blue-white sky and shadowed grass, highlighted individual strands of grass, distant dark green palms... layered color! Enjoy!
The only comfort the heart can take cannot come from itself, but the comfort must come through itself.
A higher region: What is mine to do
To her surprise she found also that since her father’s death, many of her doubts had vanished. She had been lifted into a region higher than those questions which had so disturbed her peace. From a point of vision she saw things so differently that the questions she had were no longer relevant. The truth was being lived out in her that the business of life is to live, not to answer every objection the mind can raise to things spiritual. She had done that which was given her to do; therefore she progressed up the stairway of life. It is no matter that a man or woman be unable to explain or understand this or that. It does not matter as long as when they see a truth they do it; to see and not do would at once place them in eternal danger. There is in the man or woman who does the truth, the radiance of life essential – a glory infinitely beyond any that can belong to the intellect.
George MacDonald, “Empty Houses,” The Lady’s Confession.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Thursday, July 02, 2009
All great things have a small beginning, and the man who would do great things must be willing to do a small thing as a great thing. The surest path to the future lies straightway in your next duty.
The outward work can never be small if the inward one is great, and the outward work can never be great or good if the inward is small or of little worth. The inward work always includes in itself all size, all breadth and all length.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Words: Thomas T Lynch (1818-1871)
Tune: St. Ethelwald
Say not, my soul, 'From whence
'Can God relieve my care?'
Remember that Omnipotence
Has servants everywhere.
God's help is always sure,
His method seldom guessed;
Delay will make our pleasure pure,
Surprise will give it zest.
His wisdom is sublime,
His heart profoundly kind;
God never is before His time,
And never is behind.
Hast thou assumed a load,
Which few will share with thee,-
And art thou carrying it for God,
And shall He fail to see?
Be comforted at heart,
Thou art not left alone;
Now, thou the Lord's companion art;
Soon, thou wilt share His throne.