Friday, January 30, 2009

A pink sky over an orange grove

The sky shows this time of year are simply phenomenal. Here's a glimpse of the early evening sky tonight -- it turned from blue to yellow to pink, in beautiful order. And here: pastel pink in the last exquisite moments of light! I love how the trees lead off into the distance, augmented by the pathways in the sky -- a moment in time, full life. Enjoy!

God is the God of the living

Make us live to you, O God

Father in heaven! Draw our hearts to you so that our longing may be where our treasure is supposed to be. Turn our minds and our thoughts to where our citizenship is – in your kingdom, so that when you finally call us away from here our leave-taking may not be a painful separation but a joyful union with you. We do not know the time and the place, perhaps a long road still lies before us, and when strength is taken away from us, when exhaustion fogs our eyes so that we peer out as into a dark night, and restless desires stir within us, wild, impatient longings, and the heart groans in fearful anticipation of what is coming, oh Lord God, fix in our hearts the conviction that also while we are living, we belong to you.

Soren Kierkegaard, Provocations

Perhaps the greatest danger

A soul enslaved by relentless stuff

Perhaps the greatest danger that threatens us comes from being overly involved in the small, ordinary happenings of daily life—from becoming so enslaved by them that they fill our heart and soul. To go about life in this way is to go about unprotected, unaware, distracted, and removed from reality. Let us never allow ourselves to be dragged down by pettiness, or to take the things of this earth so seriously that they burden us day after day. Let us live constantly in the Promise.

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, Now Is Eternity

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thoughts between daughter and Father X


Her thoughts said, “I can go on no longer”

Her Father said,

“Thou canst. Thou canst do all things through Christ who strengthens thee. Is tribulation a new thing to any child of Mine? Shouldest thou expect to be without pressure, batterings, toil, tears, discouragements, disappointments, ingratitudes, obloquies? All my servants had these in abundant measure. Look and thou wilt see their footsteps in the dust of the road. But they had strong consolation and so hast thou. Not to be pitied, but happy is she that hath the God of Jacob for her help, whose hope is in the Lord her God.

"Doth the burning sun distress thee? There shall be shade from the heat. Art thou beaten by the storm? There shall be a hiding place from storm and from rain. Or is it that thou art too weary to know why thou art so weary? Then come unto Me and I will refresh thee.”


Her thoughts said, “The sting of grief abideth.”

Her Father said,

"My word to thee is 'Pray for them which despitefully use thee.' The word is not 'Wait till the stinger be sorry for stinging.' Art thou stung? Thou wilt find as thou prayest that the sting will lose its power. Thy thinking will be kindly. Thou wilt remember Him who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, he threatened not, but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously. Thy Savior hath left thee an example that thou shouldest follow in His steps."


The daughter was troubled, longing that confidence should be restored and yet not seeing how that which snapped in an hour of stress could be counted upon again.

Her Father opened the matter to her:

"Thou canst not recreate confidence. But do not be unjust. What ground hadst thou for thy confidence? Didst thou ask sand to be rock? Iron to be steel? Cane to be oak? To do that is to expect what cannot be. Do not be unjust.

"Now turn from these sad thoughts: think of the faithful and loyal in whom thy heart may safely rest. Are not their words as honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones? Be grateful, make much of them, and go on thy way as one who is girded with gladness.”


Her thoughts said, "Arrows are shot, as it were, from darkness, from nowhere. I cannot see whence they come and I do not know why they are shot. I only know that I long to escape out of their reach."

Her Father said,

“That is not a new temptation. Meet it as he who wrote, 'How say yet to my soul, "Flee as a bird to your mountain?" They make ready their arrow upon the string that they may shoot in darkness.' Arrows shot in open day can be seen and countered. Arrows shot in darkness test the temper and poise of the spirit. But do not flee as a bird. Thou art no bird."


Her thoughts said, "How wearisome is the chatter of earth."

Her Father said,

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof (and the talk thereof), but she who doeth the will of God abideth forever. Fix thine heart on doing my will, and let the rest go by.



Dear Father of lights, Abba of grace, God of rivers and fountains... You who bring forth springs in the desert, please refresh my spirit today as I wait on you. You have said, 'Come unto Me and I will refresh thee.' And, so I come to you, full of dryness, full of questions, full of hesitations, full of doubts. I believe, help thou my unbelief. Cleanse my eyes with tears and let me see again the diamond-path of grace, the treasures of the journey.

Today, Father, I claim the promise of your refreshment. Today I see again the water that bursts forth in the desert land, and I drink, and am satisfied. The one who believes in you, out of his inner being will flow rivers of living water -- thus you promised and thus I request. I drink, and give thanks.

Thank you that you are working in me -- this day -- both to will and do your good pleasure. I wait for you and give you my praise! Grant a new filling of the Spirit in my life to fulfill this prayer. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.


Note: More thoughts from the private conversation of Amy Carmichael, as she talked to her Father about the issues of life and personal challenges around her. God used her to rescue many young girls from ritual Hindu temple prostitution, and wrought miracles through her prayer life. Here is glimpse into that prayer life. May it bless you today!

Monday, January 26, 2009

A walk in the winter mists II

Another pic of the ghostly mists over the PA fields. Enjoy!

A walk in the winter mists

The ghostly winter mists over a frosty PA field. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

All I have and all I am

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

Words: Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Tune: St. Petersburg

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
One in three, and three in one,
As by the celestial host,
Let thy will on earth be done;
Praise by all to thee be given,
Glorious Lord of earth and heaven.

If a sinner such as I
May to thy great glory live,
All my actions sanctify,
All my words and thoughts receive;
Claim me for thy service, claim
All I have and all I am.

Take my soul and body's powers;
Take my memory, mind, and will,
All my goods, and all my hours,
All I know, and all I feel,
All I think, or speak, or do;
Take my heart, but make it new.

Now, O God, thine own I am,
Now I give thee back thine own;
Freedom, friends, and health, and fame
Consecrate to thee alone:
Thine I live, thrice happy I;
Happier still if thine I die.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
One in three, and three in one,
As by the celestial host,
Let thy will on earth be done;
Praise by all to thee be given,
Glorious Lord of earth and heaven.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Dalai Lama: Non-violence cannot answer terror

A stunning admission

This week, the Dalai Lama frankly admitted that the principle of ahimsa [or non-violence] cannot be properly applied to terrorism. Prevention is the only way to handle terror, he said.

NEW DELHI: The Dalai Lama, a lifelong champion of non-violence on Saturday candidly stated that terrorism cannot be tackled by applying the principle of ahimsa because the minds of terrorists are closed.

"It is difficult to deal with terrorism through non-violence," the Tibetan spiritual leader said delivering the Madhavrao Scindia Memorial Lecture here.

He also termed terrorism as the worst kind of violence which is not carried by a few mad people but by those who are very brilliant and educated.

"They (terrorists) are very brilliant and educated... but a strong ill feeling is bred in them. Their minds are closed," the Dalai Lama said.

He said that the only way to tackle terrorism is through prevention. The head of the Tibetan government-in-exile left the audience stunned when he said "I love President George W Bush." He went on to add how he and the US President instantly struck a chord in their first meeting unlike politicians who take a while to develop close ties.

This surprised a lot of people, but it is very wise counsel that recognizes the nature of terrorism as well as the true nature of peace. It also begs the question: if the Dalai Lama, whose entire life is predicated on peace, fully recognizes the limits of peace in reference to terror and strongly appreciates the attempts of President Bush to deal with world terror, then why has Bush been so despised by those who use peace as their pretext of dislike?

The answer lies in metaphysics, of course. And, to lesser degree, politics.

Interesting, no?

The pretext of peace

Several powerful lessons in this presentation of the Dalai Lama:

  1. Education is not the answer to terrorism. It's only the well educated who are allowing terror to continue in our world, not the unwashed masses of popular thought.
  2. Non-violence is not the answer to terrorism [i.e. the limits of peace and the destructive nature of pseudo-peace].
  3. President Bush was right in his general approach to terror.

These are ground-shaking claims for some people. But the logic is intense and accurate. Leaving aside claim three [which follows from claims one and two], it's easy to see that the Lama well understands the limits of education. The lesson also speaks to the limits of non-violence, the potentially counterproductive nature of peace claims. Here the Dalai Lama is very consistent with the teaching of the Hebrew prophets: they showed that peace claim can [and will] be used to destroy God's people. The Apostles later followed this out, revealing that the Antichrist comes as a man of peace -- and the spirit of Antichrist gains its power on peace claim.

Mere education does not change the heart. And it is the heart that decides the issues of life. It is the heart that causes many who currently use the word peace to make common cause with modern terror.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

The ancient boundaries

Here is a nice shot of an old boundary marker: a treeline stretching up, over the hill and in the distance. Very evocative photo... it brought to mind the divine prohibition about moving boundaries.

  • You shall not move your neighbor's boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God gives you to possess. Deuteronomy 19:14
  • 'Cursed is he who moves his neighbor's boundary mark.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.' Deuteronomy 27:17
  • "Some remove the landmarks; They seize and devour flocks. Job 24:2
  • Do not move the ancient boundary Which your fathers have set. Proverbs 22:28

There is something sacred in the land granted by God; one moves the boundaries only at great detriment to himself. The lesson is enduring and graphic, in its physical intent: a protection of property and heritage, an honoring of the poor, the widows and orphans. In a spiritual sense, this applies in spades to postmoderns: we've ripped away the ancient boundaries, defining all sense and sin in relation to ourselves. The ancient Reformation understanding of the true self as defined outside one's natural self is jettisoned -- and despised. Layers of lessons! Not the least of which is the fact that this picture is posted in a time when Israel's boundaries are transgressed almost daily by terror. Selah.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A winter wonderland

Nice Pennsylvania scenery, near Grove City PA. Enjoy!

A necklace of loyalty and trust

Loyalty and faithfulness

Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them round your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
in the sight of God and of people.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

My child, do not despise the Lord?s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
for the Lord reproves the one he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.


Funny sayings from today

Ok, two great lines today, one on a bumper sticker:

"There's plenty of room for all of God's creatures...

...right next to the mashed potatoes!"

And, drum roll...

"You look like I need a drink!"

Nice, huh? lol!


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Pennsylvania winter field: muted beauty

There's a lot going on in this picture -- it is very subtle in its beauty: the texture of the corn stubble contrasting the texture of the fallow and plowed fields beyond, the gentle shades of slanting foreground shadows augmenting the contour of the further fields, the texture and color of the winter hardwood trees leading the eyes to the distant evergreens, hills and colors leading to the pines, which then only lift to vaulted skies: blue, and lilting clouds of white. The beauty is intense once it is grasped for what it is... and yet, this scene is so easily passed by! A wonder, and lesson... enjoy! :-)

Presumption? I can only widen my assertion

The potent outshining of sons

“For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing [the outshining] of the sons of God.”

When the sons of God show as they are, taking, with the character, the appearance and place that belong to their sonship, when the sons of God sit with the Son of God on the throne of their Father, then shall they be in potency of fact the lords of the lower creation, the bestowers of liberty and peace upon it. Then shall the creation, subjected to vanity for their sakes, find its freedom in their freedom, its gladness in their sonship. The animals will glory to serve them, will joy to come to them for help.

Let the heartless scoff, the unjust despise! The heart that cries Abba, Father, cries to the God of the sparrow and the oxen. Nor can hope go too far in hoping what that God will do for the creation that now groans and travails in pain because our higher birth is delayed. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right? Shall my heart be more compassionate than His?

If to any reader my interpretation be unsatisfactory, I pray him not to spend his strength in disputing my faith but in making sure of his own progress on the way to freedom and sonship.

Only to the child of God is true judgment possible. Were it otherwise, what would it avail to prove this one or that right or wrong? Right opinion on questions the most momentous will deliver no man. Cure for any ill in me or about me there is none but to become the son of God I was born to be. Until such I am, until Christ is born in me, until I am revealed a son of God, pain and trouble will endure – and God grant they may!

Call this presumption, and I can only widen my assertion – until you yourself are the son of God you were born to be, you will never find the good life intended. If I presume for myself, I presume for you also.

But I do not presume. Thus has Jesus Christ represented God – as a Father perfect in love, grand in self-forgetfulness, supreme in righteousness, devoted to the lives He has uttered. I will not believe less of the Father that I can see in the face of the Son. He is the express image of the Father, by which we, His imperfect images, are to read and understand Him…


George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, "Abba, Father!"

Monday, January 05, 2009

A theology of rainbows

Thoughts on the future

God will always let us see His gracious and triumphant bow when life goes hard. Have we ever noticed how a rainbow arises? The sun suddenly breaks through the clouds with magical brilliance even though the elements are still raging and their wildness has not been allayed. And now notice a strange feature, namely, that light never celebrates such a riot of color as when it breaks up into its spectrum. And this festival of light takes place at the very moment when the rays of the sun, of the sun of divine grace, clash with the raging elements of our earth.

We understand what is implied in the image. It is precisely in grief and pain, in the depths and under the storms, that God will show himself and display before us the fullness of His grace. Do you understand this? Do you understand it precisely when you consider your own life? Like myself, you can probably attest it with thanksgiving only when it has all proved true, and will again prove true, in your own life. Have you ever detected His consoling presence so clearly as when you were delivered up to the most terrible distress where no shelter could save you from the attack, no doctor help you and no human speak to you a word of real comfort?

The bow always shines with greatest comfort in times of darkness, and it is in the depths that God’s hand is stretched out with greatest love. If only we see this we will believe God’s promise. Thus the bow of mercy overarches the coming year too. It will not be only a year of terror. It will be also a year of indescribable consolations because it will be a year of the Lord, who awaits us with His miracles. At exactly the right moment a helping word will come as His messenger. His love will encounter us… and we will find that He takes from us our cares like a father. Since we have a Father, we are not adventurers. We are those who live by the surprises and miracles of their God.

Thus we stand on this threshold of the year consoled and thankful and full of cheerful hope. God gives us a further span of time, and again all things may become new... The night of the past year with its guilt may really be past in the name of God; the rainbow shines and will give a new day. The morning will break, and His mercy has no end but is new every morning and His faithfulness is great.



Helmut Theilicke, The Silence of God, "Thoughts on the Future."

Friday, January 02, 2009

Love all lovely, love divine

Love came down at Christmas

Words: Christina Rossetti, 1885
Tune: Hermitage

Love came down at Christmas,
love all lovely, love divine;
love was born at Christmas:
star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
love incarnate, love divine;
worship we our Jesus,
but wherewith the sacred sign?

Love shall be our token;
love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
love for plea and gift and sign.