Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cajun gospel


Reverend Boudreaux was the part-time pastor of the local Cajun Baptist Church and Pastor Thibodaux was the minister of the Covenant Church across the road.

They were both standing by the road, pounding a sign into the ground, that read:

'Da End is Near

Turn Yo Sef 'Roun Now

Afore It Be Too Late!'

As a car sped past them, the driver leaned out his window and yelled, 'You religious nuts!'

From the curve they heard screeching tires, and a big splash...

Boudreaux turns to Thibodaux and asks, 'Do ya tink maybe da sign should jussay.....'Bridge Out?'


lol. drum roll, please!

Have a good night, and smile! :-)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Consider the ravens

Consider the ravens

by George MacDonald

Lord, according to Thy words,
I have considered Thy birds;
And I find their life good,
And better the better understood;
Sowing neither corn nor wheat,
They have all that they can eat;
Reaping no more than they sow.
They have all they can stow;
Having neither barn nor store,
Hungry again, they eat more.

Considering, I see too that they
Have a busy life, and plenty of play;
In the earth they dig their bills deep,
And work well though they do not heap;
Then to play in the air they are not loth,
And their nests between are better than both.

But this is when there blow no storms;
When berries are plenty in winter, and worms;
When their feathers are thick, and oil is enough
To keep the cold out and the rain off:
If there should come a long hard frost,
Then it looks as Thy birds were lost.

But I consider further, and find
A hungry bird has a free mind;
He is hungry to-day, not to-morrow;
Steals no comfort, no grief doth borrow;
This moment is his, Thy will hath said it,
The next is nothing till Thou hast made it.

The bird has pain, but has no fear,
Which is the worst of any gear;
When cold and hunger and harm betide him,
He gathers them not to stuff inside him;
Content with the day's ill he has got,
He waits just, nor haggles with his lot;
Neither jumbles God's will
With driblets from his own still.

But next I see, in my endeavor,
Thy birds here do not live forever;
That cold or hunger, sickness or age,
Finishes their earthly stage;
The rook drops without a stroke,
And never gives another croak;
Birds lie here, and birds lie there,
With little feathers all astare;
And in Thy own sermon, Thou
That the sparrow falls dost allow.

It shall not cause me any alarm,
For neither so comes the bird to harm,
Seeing our Father, Thou hast said,
Is by the sparrow's dying bed;
Therefore it is a blessed place,
And the sparrow in high grace.

It cometh therefore to this. Lord;
I have considered Thy word,
And henceforth will be Thy bird.


George MacDonald, "Consider the Ravens," The Lady's Confession.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Memorial Day tribute

Cross the Green Mountain

God bless all of you this Memorial Day.

May it be more than cookouts and games... may it be an actual life check, a new commitment to live along the sacrificial lines, only through which our great land will find a new birth in freedom.

Last night I watched a Memorial Day special at the mall in Washington, D.C. There, as they played the songs of the service men and women, they played the Navy song and a young man with a burned and reconstructed face stood to attention -- all his being giving witness to the sacrifice he had made in a cause far greater than himself. I snapped to attention: salute, sir!

This is the honor of which Joshua Chamberlain spoke and witnessed -- the honor that I just shared in conversation with my cousin Eric, a Memorial Day witness to honor and sacrifice and country.

Here's a song of tribute. May it touch your heart to new dedication. Thank you: thank you veterans, thank you men and women of our armed forces, thank you to all who dare to live truly in a false age.

Happy Memorial Day!


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Be thou our joy and strong defense

Eternal Monarch, King most high

Words: Latin, fifth century; trans. John Mason Neale
Tune: Deus tuorum militum

Eternal Monarch, King most high,
whose blood hath brought redemption nigh,
by whom the death of Death was wrought,
and conquering Grace's battle fought.

Ascending to the throne of might,
and seated at the Father's right,
all power in heaven is Jesus' own,
that here his manhood had not known.

That so, in nature's triple frame,
each heavenly and each earthly name,
and things in hell's abyss abhorred,
may bend the knee and own him Lord.

Yea, angels tremble when they see
how changed is our humanity;
that flesh hath purged what flesh had stained,
and God, the flesh of God, hath reigned.

Be thou our joy and strong defense,
who art our future recompense:
so shall the light that springs from thee
be ours through all eternity.

O risen Christ, ascended Lord,
all praise to thee let earth accord,
who art, while endless ages run,
with Father and with Spirit one.



Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The hand that made us is divine

The spacious firmament on high

Words: Joseph Addison, 1712
Tune: Creation

The spacious firmament on high,
with all the blue ethereal sky,
and spangled heavens, a shining frame,
their great Original proclaim.
The unwearied sun from day to day
does his Creator's power display;
and publishes to every land
the work of an almighty hand.

Soon as the evening shades prevail,
the moon takes up the wondrous tale,
and nightly to the listening earth
repeats the story of her birth:
whilst all the stars that round her burn,
and all the planets in their turn,
confirm the tidings, as they roll
and spread the truth from pole to pole.

What though in solemn silence all
move round the dark terrestrial ball?
What though no real voice nor sound
amid their radiant orbs be found?
In reason's ear they all rejoice,
and utter forth a glorious voice;
for ever singing as they shine,
"The hand that made us is divine."


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

If you are not willing

The destiny of misery

If you are not willing that God should have His way with you, then, in the name of God, be miserable -- until your misery drive you to the arms of the Father.


George MacDonald

Thy ceaseless, unexhausted love

Thy ceaseless, unexhausted love

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

Thy ceaseless, unexhausted love,
Unmerited and free,
Delights our evil to remove,
And help our misery.

Thou waitest to be gracious still;
Thou dost with sinners bear,
That, saved, we may thy goodness feel,
And all thy grace declare.

Thy goodness and thy truth to me,
To every soul, abound,
A vast, unfathomable sea,
Where all our thoughts are drowned.

Its streams the whole creation reach,
So plenteous is the store,
Enough for all, enough for each,
Enough for evermore.

Faithful, O Lord, thy mercies are,
A rock that cannot move;
A thousand promises declare
Thy constancy of love.

Throughout the universe it reigns,
Unalterably sure;
And while the truth of God remains
The goodness must endure.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fairy tale Florida -- float away

Here the clouds stretch out over grass and lake, blending into the mesmerizing distance of Lake Okeechobee. The sun is in the foreground, and high on the clouds, yet shaded on the background, creating a surreal look... doesn't it just look as if you could float away, standing at the dock of the world? :-) Enjoy!

A covenant of peace

You are my sheep and I am your God, says the Lord God

Ezekiel 34:25ff

I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild animals from the land, so that they may live in the wild and sleep in the woods securely. I will make them and the region around my hill a blessing; and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. The trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase. They shall be secure on their soil; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke, and save them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They shall no more be plunder for the nations, nor shall the animals of the land devour them; they shall live in safety, and no one shall make them afraid. I will provide for them splendid vegetation, so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the insults of the nations. They shall know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, says the Lord God. You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, says the Lord God.


Angels, help us to adore Him

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven

Words: Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847)
Tune: Dulce Carmen

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
to his feet thy tribute bring;
ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven
who like me his praise should sing?
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King!

Praise him for his grace and favor
to our fathers in distress;
praise him still the same as ever,
slow to chide, and swift to bless:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glorious in his faithfulness!

Father-like he tends and spares us;
well our feeble frame he knows;
in his hands he gently bears us,
rescues us from all our foes:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Widely as his mercy flows!

Frail as summer's flower we flourish,
blows the wind and it is gone;
but while mortals rise and perish
God endures unchanging on.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the high eternal One!

Angels, help us to adore him,
ye behold him face to face;
sun and moon, bow down before him
dwellers all in time and space:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace!


Friday, May 15, 2009

A forever witness of a dead soldier

Chamberlain amidst death at Fredericksburg

In the preternatural cold night before Fredericksburg, sky alight with strange light, and haunting sounds of lead and shot and ball, missiles tearing through air and earth, flesh and blood and mud and bone, high-pitched whine of Minie balls and lower roar of cannon, hellish shriek of shell, Joshua Chamberlain lay on the battlefield with the torn remnants of his men from the 20th Maine. He survived only by lying among the stacked, faithful dead.

He spent the long cold night there, in horrid awe and wonder: sky dancing with Aurora Borealis so far South: what portent!

Wakened in the cold dawn by the renewed rifle fire, he made a sudden discovery. He moved his head -- pillowed on a corpse --, and from the pocket of the soldier that shielded him in death, a well-worn New Testament dropped out. Chamberlain was deeply moved. Listen to his words:

"Wakened by the sharp fire that spoke the dawn, as I lifted my head from its restful though strange pillow, there fell out from the breast pocket a much-worn little New Testament written in it the owner's name and home. I could do no less than take this to my keeping, resolved that it should be sent to that home in the sweet valley of the Susquehanna as a token that he who bore it had kept t he faith and fought the fight. I may add that sparing mercy allowed the wish to be fulfilled, and this evidence gave the stricken mother's name a place in the list of the nation's remembered benefactors."

Ah! What honor! The loyalty that kept Chamberlain at post, even with all hope gone; the last breath of this dead soldier, who even in death witnessed to life and saved a special life with his body; the enduring Word of God that sustained him to hopeless things -- shall this not echo into eternity?

Is this not what keeps my hand over my heart when I salute the flag?

Yeah, not the sins of my nation, but the destined valor of souls who gave their all that we might live -- live to be a light to the nations -- this, this captures my heart. I yet thrill when I hear the words, "America! America! God shed His grace on thee!"

And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!

The words of Chamberlain, the life of this dead soldier... they live on.

Even with America plagued by those who hate what Chamberlain stood for... yea, something yet endures! In great deeds, something abides. On great fields, something stays. Forms pass and change, bodies disappear, but spirits linger, to consecrate ground as the vision-place of souls.


The goodness of the Lord in the land of the living

O tarry and await the Lord’s pleasure

Psalm 27 selection

You speak in my heart and say, ‘Seek my face.’
Your face, Lord, will I seek.
Hide not your face from me,
nor turn away your servant in displeasure.
You have been my helper;
cast me not away;
do not forsake me, O God of my salvation.
Though my father and my mother forsake me,
the Lord will sustain me.
Show me your way, O Lord;
lead me on a level path, because of my enemies.
Deliver me not into the hand of my adversaries,
for false witnesses have risen up against me,
and also those who speak malice.
What if I had not believed
that I should see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
O tarry and await the Lord’s pleasure;
be strong and he shall comfort your heart;
wait patiently for the Lord.


Out of our gloom, and sin, and care

There is one Way, and only one

Words: Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)
Meter: LM

There is one Way, and only one,
Out of our gloom, and sin, and care,
To that far land where shines no sun
Because the Face of God is there.

There is one Truth, the Truth of God,
That Christ came down from Heav'n to show,
One Life that His redeeming Blood
Has won for all His saints below.

The lore from Philip once conceal'd,
We know its fullness now in Christ;
In Him the Father is reveal'd,
And all our longing is sufficed.

And still unwavering faith holds sure
The words that James wrote sternly down;
Except we labor and endure,
We cannot win the heavenly crown.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fairy tale Florida: dragonfly and painted sky

A lot going on in this photo: dragonfly paused on branch of cold-stunted tree, sunlight on tree and pastels of water and grass and sky stretching out into the distance of Lake Okeechobee. Idyllic. Beautiful. Florida! Enjoy. :-)

The unity of true prayer

Praying selflessly

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The psalms teach us to pray as a fellowship. The Body of Christ is praying, and as an individual one acknowledges that his prayer is only a minute fragment of the whole prayer of the Church. He learns to pray the prayer of the Body of Christ. And that lifts him above his personal concerns and allows him to pray selflessly.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hazmat team called in for rotten fridge cleaning

Beware the fridge fumes!

Truth is stranger than fiction, sometimes. Life is just loaded with humor! Sometimes you just have to laugh at the irony. In the latest, an office worker sends seven co-workers to the hospital with rotten food fumes:

SAN JOSE, Calif. – An office worker cleaning a fridge full of rotten food created a smell so noxious that it sent seven co-workers to the hospital and made many others ill. Firefighters had to evacuate the AT&T building in downtown San Jose on Tuesday, after the flagrant fumes prompted someone to call 911. A hazmat team was called in.

What they found was an unplugged refrigerator that had been crammed with moldy food.

Authorities said an enterprising office worker had decided to clean it out, placing the food in a conference room while using two cleaning chemicals to scrub down the mess. The mixture of old lunches and disinfectant caused 28 people to need treatment for vomiting and nausea.

Authorities said the worker who cleaned the fridge didn't need treatment — she can't smell because of allergies.

In other news, an Amish driver was fined for having beer in the buggy. Defense lawyers say he can't be held liable because his girlfriend was really driving him buggy...

drumroll. lol. All night, folks! And who says life isn't humorous?


Monday, May 11, 2009

A sunset framed by storm

Here's tonight's setting sun -- shining through so nicely, yet framed by oncoming storm clouds. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Being What God Means Us To Be

Being What God Means Us To Be

By Thomas Merton

A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying [God]. It ‘consents,’ so to speak, to [God's] creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.

The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like [God]. If it tried to be like something else which it was never intended to be, it would be less like God and therefore it would give [God] less glory….

This particular tree will give glory to God by spreading out its roots in the earth and raising its branches into the air and the light in a way that no other tree before or after it ever did or will do….

The special clumsy beauty of this particular colt on this April day in this field under these clouds is a holiness consecrated to God by [God's] own creative wisdom and it declares the glory of God.

The pale flowers of the dogwood outside this window are saints. The little yellow flowers that nobody notices on the edge of that road are saints looking up into the face of God. This leaf has it own texture and its own pattern of veins and its own holy shape, and the bass and trout hiding in the deep pools of the river are canonized by their beauty and their strength. The lakes hidden among the hills are saints, and the sea too is a saint who praises God without interruption in her majestic dance.

The great, gashed, half-naked mountain is another of God’s saints. There is no other like him. He is alone in his own character; nothing else in the world ever did or ever will imitate God in quite the same way. That is his sanctity.

But what about you? What about me? Unlike the animals and the trees, it is not enough for us to be what our nature intends. It is not enough for us to be individual [humans]. For us, holiness is more than humanity. If we are never anything but people, we will not be saints and we will not be able to offer to God the worship of our imitation, which is sanctity.

It is true to say that for me sanctity consists in being myself and for you sanctity consists in being your self and that, in the last analysis, your sanctity will never be mine and mine will never be yours, except in the communism of charity and grace.

For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.

Trees and animals have no problem. God makes them what they are without consulting them, and they are perfectly satisfied. With us it is different. God leaves us free to be whatever we like. We can be ourselves or not, as we please. We are at liberty to be real, or to be unreal. We may be true or false, the choice is ours. We may wear now one mask and now another, and never, if we so desire, appear with our own true face. But we cannot make these choices with impunity. Causes have effects, and if we lie to ourselves and to others, then we cannot expect to find truth and reality whenever we happen to want them. If we have chosen the way of falsity we must not be surprised that truth eludes us when we finally come to need it!

Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny. We are free beings and sons [and daughters] of God. This means to say that we should not passively exist, but actively participate in [God's] creative freedom, in our own lives, and in the lives of others, by choosing the truth. To put it better, we are even called to share with God the work of creating the truth of our identity. We can evade this responsibility by playing with masks, and this pleases us because it can appear at times to be a free and creative way of living. It is quite easy, it seems, to please everyone. But in the long run the cost and the sorrow come very high….

We do not know clearly beforehand what the result of this work will be. The secret of my full identity is hidden in [God.] [God] alone can make me who I am, or rather who I will be when at last I fully begin to be. But unless I desire this identity and work to find it with [God] and in [God], the work will never be done. The way of doing it is a secret I can learn from no one else but [God]….

The seeds that are planted in my liberty at every moment, by God’s will, are the seeds of my own identity, my own reality, my own happiness, my own sanctity. To refuse them is to refuse everything; it is the refusal of my own existence and being: of my identity, my very self. Not to accept and love and do God’s will is to refuse the fullness of my existence.


Friday, May 08, 2009

The owning of wings

Be Like the Bird

Victor Hugo

Be like the bird
That, pausing in her flight,
While on boughs too slight
Feels them give way beneath her
And yet sings,
Knowing she hath wings.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Afire with God

Afire with God

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Earth's crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes -
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.


Monday, May 04, 2009

Approach, my soul, the mercy-seat

Approach, my soul, the mercy-seat

Words: John Newton (1725-1807)
Tune: Tallis' Ordinal

Approach, my soul, the mercy-seat
where Jesus answers prayer;
there humbly fall before his feet,
for none can perish there.

Thy promise is my only plea;
with this I venture nigh:
thou callest burdened souls to thee,
and such, O Lord, am I.

Bowed down beneath a load of sin,
by Satan sorely pressed,
by war without and fears within,
I come to thee for rest.

Be thou my shield and hiding-place,
that, sheltered near thy side,
I may my fierce accuser face,
and tell him thou hast died.

O wondrous love! to bleed and die,
to bear the Cross and shame,
that guilty sinners, such as I,
might plead thy gracious name!


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Wild and beautiful

Persist, endure, follow, watch

To be recognized and accepted by a peregrine you must wear the same clothes, travel by the same way, perform actions in the same order. Like all birds, it fears the unpredictable. Enter and leave the same fields at the same time each day, soothe the hawk from its wildness by a ritual of behavior as invariable as its own. Hood the glare of the eyes, hide the white tremor of the hands, shade the stark reflecting face, assume the stillness of a tree.

A peregrine fears nothing he can see clearly and far off. Approach him across open ground with a steady unfaltering movement. Let your shape grow in size but do not alter its outline. Never hide yourself unless concealment is complete. Be alone. Shun the furtive oddity of man, cringe from the hostile eyes of farms. Learn to fear. To share fear is the greatest bond of all. The hunter must become the thing he hunts. What is, is now, and must have the quivering intensity of an arrow thudding into a tree. Yesterday is dim and monochrome. A week ago you were not born. Persist, endure, follow, watch.

J.A. Baker, The Peregrine