Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hope, and be undismayed

Put thou thy trust in God

Words: Mitre Hymn Book, 1836 based on John Wesley's 1739 paraphrase of a text by Paul Gerhardt, 1653 ("Befiehl du deine Wege")
Tune: Doncaster

Put thou thy trust in God,
in duty's path go on;
walk in his strength with faith and hope,
so shall thy work be done.

Commit thy ways to him,
thy works into his hands,
and rest on his unchanging word,
who heaven and earth commands.

Though years on years roll on,
his covenant shall endure;
though clouds and darkness hide his path,
the promised grace is sure.

Give to the winds thy fears;
hope, and be undismayed:
God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears;
God shall lift up thy head.

Through waves and clouds and storms
his power will clear thy way:
wait thou his time; the darkest night
shall end in brightest day.

Leave to his sovereign sway
to choose and to command;
so shalt thou, wondering, own his way,
how wise, how strong his hand.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

God chooses unimpressive things

God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. 1 Cor. 1:27-29

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire Him. Isa. 53:2

It's pretty incredible, this theme of Scripture, that God often chooses things that appear lesser, things seemingly small and unimpressive in human terms, to accomplish the great, kingdom changes.

He chooses a little brook stone, in the hands of a nobody shepherd, carrying a small sling against the latest technology -- a fully armored Philistine tank-giant -- to bring about great victory for Israel. And the meme is not incidental: He actually refused to let Israel number the people and use human strength as their basis of decision. He intentionally pared down the army of the humble warrior Gideon in one of the most counter-intuitive battle strategies ever devised, where a couple hundred Israeli warriors took on a hundred thousand Midianites [give or take a dozen, some were not picked up on Google satellite maps because of cloud cover, lol :-)].

This theme is woven throughout Scripture: Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Jericho, Judah, Elijah, et al. It never gets old... it is the divine Judo that culminates in the utter weakness of the Cross of Christ overturning the stranglehold of darkness; the moment of ultimate, conscious sacrifice that breaks the power of evil over the human race.

I must confess though, this theme of such glory doesn't feel so great from the inside: when God is doing a great work, He invariably chooses weakness and allows imperfection of circumstance. Great struggle. Hopeless odds. Few resources to meet overwhelming demands.

Then He does the work.

This is one reason why I don't trust the glitzy, glam presentations currently promoted in America as gospel success. And a reason why the rise of the megachurch is inexplicably accompanied by the greatest loss of faith this country has ever known. The slick rock concerts of professional worship leaders and packaged small groups still leave human souls empty and barren, after the thrill and micromanaged emotional outcomes are through. Humans want Woodstock; God desires humble worship... we choose the latter and call it the former, but our nation goes begging, spiritual beggars feeding on the husks of worldly swine.

God chooses the weak things, yet we want the powerful things. God chooses the incongruous things, but we want the glamorous things. Less is more in the kingdom...


God's Messiah even refused the physical beauty that we now call paramount; He had no form or comeliness that we should desire Him in pride. His beauty was first of the spirit; the power and beauty of His eyes was from His inner fire. If He were walking here today, He'd be rejected by the postmodern church gurus as too physically unimpressive, with a ragamuffin membership of twelve. Jesus wouldn't look good in a 1,200 dollar suit on cable TV, with fawning masses... Jesus would not be someone to whom physically attuned women would flock. The wounded would love Him, but the self-involved would pass Him by... Just not handsome enough to stroke their ego when seen with Him in public. Reality TV would choose someone else.


It is in weakness that God destroys false power. He will not, indeed cannot, change the world in ego appeal...

So, dear heart, carry on! If you are weak enough to hold a sling, the giant will yet fall. If you are strong enough to choose divine weakness, you will conquer all!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jesus, Master, whose I am

Jesus, Master, whose I am

Words: Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879)
Tune: Heathlands

Jesus, Master, whose I am,
Purchased, Thine alone to be,
By Thy blood, O spotless Lamb,
Shed so willingly for me,
Let my heart be all Thine own,
Let me live to Thee alone.

Other lords have long held sway;
Now, Thy name alone to bear,
Thy dear voice alone obey,
Is my daily, hourly prayer:
Whom have I in heaven but Thee?
Nothing else my joy can be.

Jesus, Master, whom I serve,
Though so feebly and so ill,
Strengthen hand and heart and nerve
All Thy bidding to fulfill;
Open Thou mine eyes to see
All the work Thou hast for me.

Jesus, Master, wilt Thou use
One who owes Thee more than all?
As Thou wilt! I would not choose;
Only let me hear Thy call.
Jesus, let me always be
In Thy service, glad and free.


Monday, April 19, 2010

In the hands of the Potter

Jeremiah 18:1-6 The word came from the LORD, saying: “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again... “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the LORD. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!”

Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.

Isaiah 43:19

Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sweet with eternal good

All as God wills, who wisely heeds

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

All as God wills, who wisely heeds
To give or to withhold,
And knoweth more of all my needs
Than all my prayers have told.

Enough that blessings undeserved
Have marked my erring track;
That whereso'er my feet have swerved,
His chastening turned me back;

That more and more a providence
Of love is understood,
Making the springs of time and sense
Sweet with eternal good;

That death seems but a covered way
Which opens into light
Wherein no blinded child can stray
Beyond the Father's sight;

That care and trial seem at last,
Through memory's sunset air,
Like mountain ranges overpast,
In purple distance fair;

That all the jarring notes of life
Seem blending in a psalm,
And all the angles of its strife
Slow rounding into calm.

And so the shadows fall apart,
And so the west winds play;
And all the windows of my heart
I open to the day.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Florida humor

Only in Florida, lol. Who says gators can't read and write? :-)

Note: Click to enlarge.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

A miracle-free zone


by Patricia Sprinkle

is not always a garden.

It may be a dusty road that dead ends
at a coliseum full of lions
Or a soggy pillow in solitary darkness.

Gethsemane is the grotto of the silent scream
where an excruciating future
is frantically re-examined
for non-existent loopholes,
and the only rational prayer of faith is
“I need a miracle, God! Get me out of here!”

But Gethsemane is a miracle-free zone,
never depicted on posters
at God’s recruiting stations.

It is the crucible where sweat turns to blood
and fear wrestles faith
until we collapse in submission
and gasp, “Okay. Whatever you say.”

Gethsemane is faith’s ultimate classroom,
Where we learn the hardest lesson of all:
It is not all about me.
It is all about You.


- Patricia Sprinkle, April 2010 Presbyterians Today.

p.s. And never forget that miracle-free zones, with all their abandonment and loss, may become the context, the preview of the greatest miracle ever. Selah.