Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Eternity as the solution to private problems

Hoarding manna vs. trusting and walking

The problems of the private Me are often so intractable because they are not conceived in any but private relations; which is to judge the house from a sample brick. The manna so hoarded goes wrong. The soul’s lot lies in the eternal and universal counsel of God. And the first question still is man’s chief end, and the collective destiny of every soul there. The eternal does not begin on the other side of time; rather all time and space is the content of eternity. Faith is really faith in that eternal destiny as present, and then in our part and place therein by God’s grace.

Immortality means living on in Eternity; it is Eternity living on in us. It is God thinking Himself, living Himself in us. But we are apt to treat God as if He were only a patron saint magnified, whom we expect to attend to our affairs if He is to retain our custom and receive our worship.


P.T. Forsyth, The Justification of God (New Creation Publications: Blackwood, S.A., 1988), 10-11.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Faith at the edge of a cliff

Hope. Trust!

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? — He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. — My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

If God is for us, who can be against us? — The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? — Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down those who rise up against us. — We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

“Arise and work! The Lord be with you!”

Ps. 27:1; Isa. 40:29-31; Ps. 73:26; Rom. 8:31; Ps. 118:6; Ps. 44:5; Rom. 8:37; 1 Chron. 22:16

O Champion of all Loves

Glory to you, O Champion of all Loves

Glory to you, O Champion of all Loves,
who for our sake endured the cross,
encountered the enemy and tasted death.
Glory be to you, O King of all kings,
who for our salvation
wrestled with principalities and powers,
subdued the forces of hell
and won the greatest of all victories.
To you be all praise, all glory and all love;
now and for ever. Amen.



Thursday, March 26, 2009

Divine life

Lord God, whose Spirit drives us out

Lord God, whose Spirit drives us out
Beyond convention's rules and laws
To walk on water for your cause
And test what faith is all about:
Nerve us for risks the Spirit asks,
Strange venturing and daunting tasks.

Lord God, whose Spirit advocates
Structure and form which will endure
That generations may secure
Gains which past faithfulness creates:
Order our ways that we may find
Order consistent with your mind...

Firm boughs and moving sap entwine
To make true branches of the Vine!


Words: Ian M Fraser (born 1917) © 1994 Stainer & Bell Ltd.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

De colores -- sing today!

De colores, de colores the fields love to dress in all during the springtime.
De colores, de colores the birds have their clothing that comes every season.
De colores, de colores the rainbow is vested across the blue sky.
De colores, and so must all love be of every bright color to make my heart cry.
De colores, and so must all love be of every bright color to make my heart cry.

De colores, de colores we witness the sun up on clear and bright mornings.
De colores, de colores the sun gives its treasures, God's light to his children.
De colores, de colores the diamond will sparkle when brought to the light.
De colores, and so must all love be of every bright color to make my heart cry.
De colores, and so must all love be of every bright color to make my heart cry.

Joyfully Joyfully we will live in God's friendship because He has willed it
Faithfully, Faithfully we will drink at the fountain of Living Water,
Joyfully, Joyfully we will bring to our Savior a harvest of souls
Pouring outward the light from within, the grace of Our God His infinite life.
Pouring outward the light from within, the grace of Our God His infinite life.

Sings the rooster, sings the rooster with his kiri-kiri, kiri, kiri-kiri,
And the cluck-hen, and the cluck-hen with her kara-kara, kara, kara-kara,
And the babe chicks, and the babe chicks with their pio-pio, pio, pio-pi.
De colores, and so must all love be of every bright color to make my heart cry.
De colores, and so must all love be of every bright color to make my heart cry. Ole!

Lenten lessons from prodigal sons

Younger brother

This surely is also what the Book of Revelation means when it speaks of the "first love." The charm of this first love is that it has not yet become habit and second nature, but comes into our life as an amazing surprise. That there should be someone like Jesus, that he should gain the Father's heart for us, that he should rescue us from the frustration of our personal lives and snatch us away from this horrible vegetating on the edge of the void -- all this is indeed a tremendous surprise. But one must have cried out from the depths, one must have been at the end of the tether, one must have realized the fragility of all human consolations to comprehend what it is when it comes.

For how many a soldier in a concentration camp, weak with hunger and smarting under the knot of the torturers; for how many a person huddling in the last extremity of ghastly dread in a bomb shelter; for how many on the endless gray road of a refugee trek was it not the great experience suddenly to know: I am not in the hands of men, despite everything to the contrary; another hand, a higher hand is governing in the midst of all man's madness and canceling all the logic of my calculations and all the images of my anxious sick imagination? I am being led to the undreamed-of shore, the harbor, the Father's house. And always when things grow dark, suddenly that marvelous helping hand is there. If there is anything that is really bombproof, then it is this, that God is there, on the spot, punctually and with the most amazing precision!

Elder brother

What a wretched thing it is to call oneself a Christian and yet be a stranger and a grumbling servant in the Father's house. And what a glorious thing it is to become aware every day anew of the miracle that there is Someone who hears us. Someone who is waiting for us. Someone who wonderfully sets everything to rights and finds a way out for us when all we can do is to wear ourselves out with worry. Someone who one day, when our last hour comes and we go back home from the far country and the hectic adventure of life, will be waiting for us on the steps of the eternal home of the Father and will lead us to the place where we may speak with Jesus forever and ever and where we shall be surrounded by that joy which here we have only begun to taste.


Helmut Thielicke, "The Prodigal Son, Part 2," The Waiting Father: Sermons on the Parables of Jesus, translated by John W. Doberstein (Harper & Row: 1957)

O lead my blindness by the hand

O lead my blindness by the hand

Words: William Gladstone (1809-1898)
Tune: Leicester

O lead my blindness by the hand,
lead me to Thy familiar feast,
not here or now to understand
yet even here and now to taste,
how the eternal Word of heaven
on earth in broken bread is given.

We, who with one blest food are fed,
into one body may we grow,
and one pure life from Thee, the head,
informing all the members flow:
one pulse be felt in every vein,
one law of pleasure and of pain.


Friday, March 20, 2009

A song of the Rock

A song of the Rock

Deuteronomy 32:1-12

Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
May my teaching drop as the rain,
my speech distill as the dew,
as the gentle rain on the grass,
and as the showers upon the meadow.
For I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
Ascribe greatness to our God!
The Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are just:
a faithful God without deceit, just and upright is He.
His degenerate children have dealt corruptly with Him;
a perverse and crooked generation.
Do you thus repay the Lord, you foolish and senseless people?
Is not He your father, who created you,
who made you and established you?
Remember the days of old, consider the years long past;
ask your father, and he will show you;
your elders, and they will tell you.
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
when He divided the children of earth,
He fixed the bounds of the peoples
according to the number of the children of God.
For the Lord's own portion is His people,
Jacob His allotted heritage.
He sustained him in a desert land,
in the howling waste of the wilderness;
He shielded him and cared for him;
He kept him as the apple of his eye.
As an eagle stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young,
spreading out its wings, takes them,
and bears them aloft on its pinions,
So the Lord alone did guide him,
and no foreign god was with him.


Silence: A rest in eternity to impact time

Excerpt: The Parable of the Seed Growing Silently

Because Jesus knows that he must serve his neighbor (literally, those nearest here and now) he can confidently leave to his Father the things farthest away, the great perspectives. By being obedient in his little corner of the highly provincial precincts of Nazareth and Bethlehem he allows himself to be fitted into a great mosaic whose master is God. And that's why he has time for persons; for all time is in the hands of his Father. And that too is why peace and not unrest goes out from him. For God's faithfulness already spans the world like a rainbow: he does not need to build it; he needs only to walk beneath it.

So, because Jesus knows which way the switches are set, because he knows what the outcome of growth and harvest will be, the words he speaks are not prepared, tactical propaganda speeches. The propaganda of men, even when it masquerades as a kind of evangelism and becomes an enterprise of the church, is always based on the accursed notion that success and failure, fruit and harvest are dependent upon our human activity, upon our imagination, energy, and intelligence. Therefore the church too must guard against becoming merely a busy enterprise and pastors must beware of becoming religious administrators devoid of power and dried up as far as spiritual substance is concerned.

Jesus is not a propagandist. And there is one fact which shows that he is not, and that is that for him speaking to his Father in prayer is more important than speaking to men, no matter how great the crowds that gather around him. Just when you think that now he must seize the opportunity, now surely he must strike while the masses are hot and mold them to his purpose, he "passes through the midst of them" and withdraws into the silence of communion with the Father.

Why was it that he spoke with authority, as the scribes and Pharisees did not? Because he was rhetorically gifted, because he was dynamic? No; he spoke with such power because he had first spoken with the Father, because always he came out of silence. He rested in eternity and therefore broke into time with such power. That's why he is so disturbing to time. He lived in communion with God; that's why his speech to men becomes an event of judgment and grace which none can escape.

Jesus' powerful speech derives from the power of his prayer life, and the very reason why he can afford to pray so diligently and give the best hours of the day to this communion with the Father is that he knows that while he rests in eternity it is not that nothing is happening but that in doing this he is rather giving place to God's Spirit, that then God is working and the seed is growing. Woe to the nervous activity of those of little faith! Woe to the anxiousness and busyness of those who do not pray!

Luther once said, "While I drink my little glass of Wittenberg beer the gospel runs its course." That is truly the finest and most comforting thing I have ever heard said about beer. The conversion of a man is not something that can be "produced." The new life comes into being only by letting God work. Therefore, Luther can cheerfully and trustfully step down from the pulpit; he doesn't need to go on incessantly crying, shouting, and roaring around the country. He can quietly drink his little glass of Wittenberg beer and trust in God. The Lord "gives to his beloved in sleep." In most cases today we do not sin by being undutiful and doing too little work. On the contrary, we ought to ask ourselves whether we are still capable of being idle in God's name. Take my word for it, you can really serve and worship God simply by lying flat on your back for once and getting away from this everlasting pushing and producing.


Helmut Theilicke, "The Parable of the Seed Growing Silently," The Waiting Father: Sermons on the Parables of Jesus, translated by John W. Doberstein (Harper & Row, ©1957)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Best bumper sticker of the month

God is bigger than any crisis. Trust! Hope!
Change Constancy you can believe in.
Click on it to buy it.

You alone

That I may love... for you alone

Give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace. Give me humility in which alone is rest, and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens. And possess my whole heart and soul with the simplicity of love. Occupy my whole life with the one thought and the one desire of love, that I may love not for the sake of merit, not for the sake of perfection, not for the sake of virtue, not for the sake of sanctity, but for You alone.


Thomas Merton in New Seeds of Contemplation

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sabbath as a revealer of idolatry

The four alternatives to worshiping God

What are the alternatives to worshiping God? There are four, according to the commandments. One is to worship a different God. This is given no elaboration, because it needs none: God has brought Israel out of slavery. What use would Israel have for any other god? A second is to make an idol. This is to worship something smaller than God, something God has made. It is to confuse the creation with the creator, to serve that which cannot liberate -- in other words, to return to slavery. A third is to trivialize God by forgetting that his name is holy, by using his name to advance our own purposes rather than his. If we frequently call on him when we don’t want him, we must accept that he won’t be there to answer when we really do.

The fourth is to make gods of ourselves. This is the underlying warning of the commandments concerning the sabbath and parents. Temptations to break the sabbath are understandable: we are needed, we are vital, we have made commitments and need this extra time to fulfill them, we don’t want to let people down, there is so much good that can be done. The temptation to break the sabbath is the temptation to do extra good. Why is extra good necessary? Because salvation is just out of reach and we are striving for it? Because we are surrounded by suffering and evil, and God can’t or won’t intervene, so we must? The sabbath is a great test of our faith in God. If we look to him, he will look after what he has given to us.


David F. Wells, "God Spoke These Words," Christian Century

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thy nature and thy name is Love

Come, O thou traveller unknown

Words: Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Tune: Traveller

Come, O thou traveller unknown,
Whom still I hold, but cannot see!
My company before is gone,
And I am left alone with thee;
With thee all night I mean to stay,
And wrestle till the break of day.

I need not tell thee who I am,
My misery and sin declare;
Thyself hast called me by my name;
Look on thy hands, and read it there:
But who, I ask thee, who art thou?
Tell me thy name, and tell me now.

In vain thou strugglest to get free;
I never will unloose my hold!
Art thou the Man that died for me?
The secret of thy love unfold:
Wrestling, I will not let thee go,
Till I thy name, thy nature know.

Wilt thou not yet to me reveal
Thy new, unutterable name?
Tell me, I still beseech thee, tell;
To know it now resolved I am:
Wrestling, I will not let thee go,
Till I thy name, thy nature know.

What though my shrinking flesh complain,
And murmur to contend so long?
I rise superior to my pain,
When I am weak, then I am strong;
And when my all of strength shall fail,
I shall with the God-Man prevail.

Yield to me now; for I am weak,
But confident in self-despair;
Speak to my heart, in blessings speak,
Be conquered by my instant prayer;
Speak, or thou never hence shalt move,
And tell me if thy name is Love.

'Tis Love! 'Tis Love! thou diedst for me!
I hear thy whisper in my heart;
The morning breaks, the shadows flee,
Pure, universal love thou art;
To me, to all, thy mercies move:
Thy nature and thy name is Love.

My prayer has power with God; the grace
Unspeakable I now receive;
Through faith I see thee face to face,
I see thee face to face and live!
In vain I have not wept and strove:
Thy nature and thy name is Love.

I know thee, Savior, who thou art,
Jesus, the feeble sinner's friend;
Nor wilt thou with the night depart,
But stay and love me to the end;
Thy mercies never shall remove:
Thy nature and thy name is Love.

The sun of righteousness on me
Has risen with healing in his wings;
Withered my nature's strength, from thee
My soul its life and succor brings;
My help is all laid up above:
Thy nature and thy name is Love.

Contented now upon my thigh
I halt, till life's short journey end;
All helplessness, all weakness, I
On thee alone for strength depend;
Nor have I power from thee to move:
Thy nature and thy name is Love.

Lame as I am, I take the prey,
Hell, earth, and sin with ease o'ercome;
I leap for joy, pursue my way,
And as a bounding hart fly home,
Through all eternity to prove
Thy nature and thy name is Love.



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A field of the loyal fallen

Stones River National Battlefield

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Let my heart become more consciously Thy home

Thou whose Name is called Jesus

Words: Jean S Pigott (1845-1882)
Tune: All Saints (Darmstadt)

Thou whose Name is called Jesus,
Risen Lord of life and power,
O it is so sweet to trust Thee
Every day and every hour!
Of Thy wondrous grace I sing,
Savior, Counselor and King.

Thou canst keep my feet from falling,
Even my poor wayward feet -
Thou who dost present me faultless,
In Thy righteousness complete;
Jesus, Lord, in knowing Thee,
O what strength and victory!

All the sin in me, my Savior,
Thou canst conquer and subdue;
With Thy sanctifying power
Permeate my spirit through;
Let Thy government increase,
Risen, crowned, Prince of Peace.

Thou canst keep me upward looking,
Ever upward in Thy face;
Thou canst make me stand, upholden
By the greatness of Thy grace;
Every promise of Thy Word
Now I claim from Thee, dear Lord.

O what joy to trust Thee, Jesus,
Mighty Victor o'er the grave,
And to learn amid earth's shadows
Thine unceasing power to save!
Only those who prove Thee know
What the grace Thou dost bestow.

Make my life a bright outshining
Of Thy life, that all may see
Thine own resurrection power
Mightily put forth in me;
Ever let my heart become
Yet more consciously Thy home.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Action in waiting: Arise, and meet the day

Renewal: Living ready for disaster or glory

There are many things that threaten us. Even if war does not break out, millions of people lose their lives all over the world through all kinds of trials: storms, landslides, explosions, earthquakes, epidemics, all kinds of accidents. At the same time there is an enormous amount of sickness of body and soul. How much sighing there still is in hospitals, how much misery in the mental institutions. And how many are being killed, some slowly, through envy, through hatred, through maliciousness of people towards each other. Just think of all the people murdered in one year. It doesn’t even take guns; people are perishing anyway.

Every family must be prepared for something to happen suddenly that will disturb its peace. Then we have to believe and pray that the judgments may be turned away. If God keeps his word, we can stand up against anything, especially if we ourselves are already living in what is new (1 John 5:3–5). Arise and go to meet what is new. Pray for it. Beg for it. The whole world will yet be renewed through the almighty power of God.

Christoph Blumhardt, Action in Waiting


We render thanks to thee

Not here for high and holy things

Words: Geoffrey Anketel Studdert-Kennedy
Tune: Morning Song

Not here for high and holy things
we render thanks to thee,
but for the common things of earth,
the purple pageantry
of dawning and of dying days,
the splendor of the sea,

the royal robes of autumn moors,
the golden gates of spring,
the velvet of soft summer nights,
the silver glistering
of all the million million stars,
the silent song they sing,

of faith and hope and love undimmed,
undying still through death,
the resurrection of the world,
what time there comes the breath
of dawn that rustles through the trees,
and that clear voice that saith:

Awake, awake to love and work!
The lark is in the sky,
the fields are wet with diamond dew,
the worlds awake to cry
their blessings on the Lord of life,
as he goes meekly by.

Come, let thy voice be one with theirs,
shout with their shout of praise;
see how the giant sun soars up,
great lord of years and days!
So let the love of Jesus come
and set thy soul ablaze,

to give and give, and give again,
what God hath given thee;
to spend thyself nor count the cost;
to serve right gloriously
the God who gave all worlds that are,
and all that are to be.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Light and shadow on field of glory

Stones River National Battlefield
: Light and shadow, sun and snow illumine this field of the fallen.

A word for the day: God is both sun and shield

A sun and shield

For the Lord God is both sun and shield;
He will give grace and glory;
No good thing will the Lord withhold
from those who walk with integrity.
O Lord of hosts,
happy are they who put their trust in you!


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Teach us to number our days

A scene for Lenten meditation

Here's a scene for Lenten meditation. Study its quiet message. What does it say to you this season, to humble your heart?

Verse for thought: Psalm 90:12 -- So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.


Thy perfect beauty see

O Savior, may we never rest

Words: William H Bathurst (1796-1877)
Tune: Cheshire

O Savior, may we never rest
Till Thou art form'd within,
Till Thou hast calm'd our troubled breast,
And crush'd the power of sin.

O may we gaze upon Thy Cross,
Until the wondrous sight
Makes earthly treasures seem but dross,
And earthly sorrows light:

Until, released from carnal ties,
Our spirit upward springs,
And sees true peace above the skies,
True joy in heavenly things.

There as we gaze, may we become
United, Lord, to Thee,
And, in a fairer, happier home,
Thy perfect beauty see.