..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Because You're Mine, I Walk the Line

Its a beautiful, warm midwinter day here. Sun shining and
I head out for the bike path along the river to walk. Its
nice to be outside, alone with the cold, fresh air, and
walking with God as I go.

The bike path has a bright yellow line down the center
and one is supposed to walk on one side or the other.
Few people are around and no bicycles and I hear
the voice of God saying, "Walk down the yellow center
strip and try to keep the shadow of your head centered
on the center strip." Ok. God and I often walk and talk,
so this does not surprise me. The sun is behind me
casting my shadow forward. Right, keep my head
centered! Ha! I try to keep it lined up the yellow
line but its amazingly hard.

The natural pace of walking causes the shadow
of my head to move first to the right of the line
then to the left of it as I walk. Then, also,
as the path winds, the sun behind me causes
my shadow to shift and I have to keep adjusting
my gate, first a few steps to the right, then
a few steps the left. The dynamics change with
every step so it becomes quite challenging.

I could feel God telling me, "This is what
walking with Me is like, you have to pay
attention and you have to keep adjusting
to stay perfectly centered on My leading.
If the sun is perfectly behind you, it
will make it easier, just as if you walk
listening to My voice and don't stray
off the path, you will only have to
adjust slightly. Lose the light behind
you and even your shadow will be hard
to find.

As the late, great Johnny Cash sang so

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine, I walk the line

I find it very, very easy to be true
I find myself alone when each day is through
Yes, I'll admit that I'm a fool for you
Because you're mine, I walk the line

As sure as night is dark and day is light
I keep you on my mind both day and night
And happiness I've known proves that it's right
Because you're mine, I walk the line

You've got a way to keep me on your side
You give me cause for love that I can't hide
For you I know I'd even try to turn the tide
Because you're mine, I walk the line

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine, I walk the line

And even more sublimely and eternally,
As it is written,

"[The Lord] is your teacher; he will not continue
to hide from you, but you will see your Teacher
with your own eyes. If you go the wrong way—to the
right or to the left—you will hear a voice behind
you saying, "This is the right way. You should go
this way."
(Isaiah 30:20, 21 adapted).

Be sure to walk the Lord's line, and have a listen here: :)

I Walk the Line

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A saint's life is in the hands of God as a bow and arrow in the
hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot
see; He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint
says, I cannot stand any more. But God does not heed; He goes on
stretching until His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly.
- Oswald Chambers

In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The

light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not

overcome it or understood it.

--John 1:4-5

photo taken in St.Ives, United Kingdom

Sun Shines Even in Winter

"May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day. May songbirds serenade you every step along the way. May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that's always blue. And may happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through.”--Irish Blessing

Sunday, December 19, 2010

                              Straight through all the apparently tangled course of human

                                   history runs the accomplishment of God's eternal plan.

                                        ... J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937), The Christian View of  Man


photo taken at Ely Cathedral, Ely UK

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Psalm 84: How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place O Lord of Hosts!

How lovely is your dwelling place,

O Lord of hosts!

2 My soul longs, yes, faints

for the courts of the Lord;

my heart and flesh sing for joy

to the living God.

3 Even the sparrow finds a home,

and the swallow a nest for herself,

where she may lay her young,

at your altars, O Lord of hosts,

my King and my God.

4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house,

ever singing your praise!

5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the Valley of Baca

they make it a place of springs;

the early rain also covers it with pools.

7 They go from strength to strength;

each one appears before God in Zion.

8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;

give ear, O God of Jacob!

9 Behold our shield, O God;

look on the face of your anointed!

10 For a day in your courts is better

than a thousand elsewhere.

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God

than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;

the Lord bestows favor and honor.

No good thing does he withhold

from those who walk uprightly.

12 O Lord of hosts,

blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Psalm 84

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Rest Jesus Gives

At that time, Jesus answered, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in your sight. All things have been delivered to me by my Father. No one knows the Son, except the Father; neither does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and he to whom the Son desires to reveal him.

"Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Matthew 11:25-30

"Swan at rest" photo taken at Bowness on Windermere, Uk

Here is Love, Vast as the Ocean

Here is love, vast as the ocean, Lovingkindness as the flood,
then the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?

He can never be forgotten,

Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.
On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,

And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.
Let me all Thy love accepting,
Love Thee, ever all my days;
Let me seek Thy kingdom only
And my life be to Thy praise;

Thou alone shalt be my glory,
nothing in the world I see.
Thou hast cleansed and sanctified me,
Thou Thyself hast set me free.

In Thy truth Thou dost direct me
By Thy Spirit through Thy Word;
And Thy grace my need is meeting,
As I trust in Thee, my Lord.
Of Thy fullness Thou art pouring
Thy great love and power on me,
Without measure, full and boundless,
Drawing out my heart to Thee.

--Welsh Hymn, sung
at the Welsh Revival, 1904

photo taken at Bowness on Windermere,
United Kingdom

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Hymn: How Good It Is to Thank the Lord

How good it is to thank the Lord,

Give praise to You, Most High, accord,

To show Your love with morning light,

And tell Your faithful love each night;

Yes, good it is God's  praise to sing,

And all our sweetest music bring.

O Lord, with joy my heart expands,

Before the wonders of Your hands;

Great works, Dear God, You have wrought,

Exceeding deep Thine every thought;

A foolish man knows not their worth,

Nor he whose mind is of the earth.

When as the grass the wicked grow,

When sinners flourish here below,

Then is their endless ruin nigh,

But You, O Lord, art throned on high;

Your enemies shall fall before Thy might,

The evil shall be put to flight.

Thou, Lord, hast blessed me

With royal strength and dignity;

With Your anointing I am blest,

Your grace and favor on me rest;

I thus exult o’er all my foes,

O’er all that would my cause oppose.

The righteous man shall flourish well,

And in the house of God shall dwell;

He shall be like a goodly tree,

And all his life shall fruitful be;

For righteous is the Lord and just,

He is my Rock, in Him I trust.

--Thanksgiving Hymn

Monday, November 15, 2010

You know that in a race all the runners run but only one wins the prize, don't you? You must run in such a way that you may be victorious.

1 Corinthians 9:4
photo taken at the Highland Games in Ceres, Scotland, UK

Friday, November 12, 2010

And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. --Phillippians 4:7

photo taken in the Lake District, Cumbria, UK

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some things are too beautiful for words,
the evening sky at dusk,
the call of geese upon the sky,
the sound of crickets deep in the night;

Some things are too holy for words,
the way of God in the affairs of man,
the love that fills a child's heart,
the peace that passes understanding;

Some things are too wonderful to ponder,
the light of day breaking forth
from the darkness,
the eyes of God, running to and fro on the earth
searching for those who look for Him,
the knowledge deep within that
God is love and in Him
is no darkness at all.

Some things are too beautiful,
some things are too holy,
some things are too wonderful,

for words.

photo taken in Feeding Hills, MA

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” --Jeremiah 29:11

photo of  Sparky

Sunday, November 07, 2010

 All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well

--Julian of Norwich

photo taken in Hadley, MA

Saturday, November 06, 2010

When my body is pained, it is not wrong to wish for relief. When

overtaken by sickness, it is not wrong to send for the physician.

You may call this selfishness, which He who made us what we are,

and who gave us these instincts, expects us to act upon; and in

acting on which, we may count upon his blessing, not his rebuke. It

is not wrong to dread hell, to desire heaven, to flee from

torments, to long for blessedness, to shun condemnation, and to

desire pardon.

- Horatius Bonar

photo taken in Edinburgh, Scotland

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Too long have we been waiting for one another to begin! The time of
waiting is past! The hour of God has struck! War is declared! In God's
Holy Name let us arise and build! 'The God of Heaven, He will fight
for us', as we for Him. We will not build on the sand, but on the
bedrock of the sayings of Christ, and the gates and minions of hell
shall not prevail against us. Should such men as we fear? Before the
world, yes, before the sleepy, lukewarm, faithless, namby-pamby
Christian world, we will dare to trust our God, we will venture our
all for Him, we will live and we will die for Him, and we will do it
with His joy unspeakable singing aloud in our hearts. We will a
thousand times sooner die trusting only our God, than live trusting in
man. And when we come to this position the battle is already won, and
the end of the glorious campaign in sight. We will have the real
Holiness of God, not the sickly stuff of talk and dainty words and
pretty thoughts; we will have a Masculine Holiness, one of daring
faith and works for Jesus Christ."
- CT Studd

photo taken in Agawam, MA

Monday, November 01, 2010

From the crude cry which we have so often heard during the
war years: "If there is a God, why doesn't He stop Hitler?," to
the unspoken questioning in many a Christian heart when a
devoted servant of Christ dies from accident or disease at what
seems to us a most inopportune moment, there is this universal
longing for God to intervene, to show His hand, to vindicate
His purpose. I do not pretend to understand the ways of God any
more than the next man; but it is surely more fitting as well
as more sensible for us to study what God does do and what He
does not do as He works in and through the complex fabric of
this disintegrated world, than to postulate what we think God
ought to do and then feel demoralized and bitterly disappointed
because He fails to fulfill what we expect of Him.

... J. B. Phillips (1906-1982), Making Men Whole

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Letting Your Light Shine

"Even so let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

photo taken in Agawam, MA

Try so to live in the light of God's love that it becomes a second
nature to you; tolerate nothing adverse to it; be continually
striving to please Him in all things; take all that He sends
patiently; resolve firmly never to commit the smallest deliberate
fault, and if, unhappily you are overtaken by any sin, humble
yourself, and rise up speedily. You will not be always thinking of
God consciously, but all your thoughts will be ruled by Him, His
Presence will check useless or evil thoughts, and your heart will
be perpetually fixed on Him, ready to do His holy will.

- Jean Nicolas Grou (1731-1803), "Being Devoted to God"

photo taken in Suffield, Connecticut

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Continue to Love

What is necessary is to continue to love. How does a lamp burn, if
it is not by the continuous feeding of little drops of oil? When
there is no oil, there is no light and the bridegroom will say: "I
do not know you". Dear friends, what are our drops of oil in our
lamps? They are the small things from every day life: the joy, the
generosity, the little good things, the humility and the patience.

A simple thought for someone else. Our way to be silent, to listen,
to forgive, to speak and to act. These are the real drops of oil
that make our lamps burn vividly our whole life.

- Mother Teresa

photo taken in Agawam, MA

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Fall Day in Feeding Hills, MA

Jesus lived His life in complete dependence upon His
Father, as we all ought to live our lives. But such dependence
does not destroy human personality. Man is never so fully and
so truly personal as when he is living in complete dependence
upon God. This is how personality comes into its own. This is
humanity at its most personal.

... Donald M. Baillie (1887-1954), God was in Christ: an
essay on incarnation and atonement, Scribner, 1955,

photo taken in Feeding Hills, MA

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chippy and God

I have a little chipmunk that lives in my yard. By "little" I mean small in size,
but full of himself, and that makes quite a large package.  I'm not sure
how long he's lived in the maze of tunnels that completely encircle
my house. I've just noticed him a lot more this year. I assume its a "him"
but I could be wrong.

He's quite the character. No matter what time I look outside, no matter
what part of the house I  happen to be in, if  I look out, there he is.
He's charged with too much energy. Zoom, zoom, zoom.  This way,
that way, upside, down way. I'm beginning to see him as an analogy
of our relationship with God.  He furtively runs around, thinking that
no-one is watching. If he sees me, he throws himself into whatever
bush or hiding place he can, but he's kind of wired so he calls so
much attention to himself that even if  I hadn't initially seen him,
I would have after he tried to hide  because  he cant seem to make
himself small or inconspicuous. 

He doesn't know that I spend a lot of time watching him. I've begun
to put extra food items down his holes, just to let him know that
I know where he lives and to kind of bless him.. He's not much of
a vegetarian. And he has a sweet tooth. He likes the organic sugar
cubes, but not the lettuce I've stuffed into his hole. Furthermore,
he's absolutely selfish.

The most bizarre thing that has happened so far is that I put
raisins out for the robins that we also feed. A little while after I put
them out,  I looked out and a mourning dove had seen them
and had flown down to eat them. There was also a robin
who had come. Chippy flies out of his hole and actually gets
into a fight with the mourning dove. He lunges at the bird
and runs around in circles madder than you can imagine and
chirping  loudly at the poor dove. The dove, not exactly peaceful,
 tries to chase him away also. Its quite a loud confrontation.
They are hopping and fluttering and chirping in both bird
talk and chipmunk talk.

I go out to see what is happening and they are so embroiled
in arguing that they don't pay attention to me. The robin is there,
just a few feet away. The robins in our yard know us, so they
dont fly away unless we are within a few feet. The robin is trying
to figure out what is going on. The robin looks at me and then
at the fighting duo, and cuts them a wide swath, moving closer
to me and farther away from them.  "There goes the neighborhood"
I could almost hear the dignified robin intimate toward me.

When I watch this little guy, crazy and reckless as he is, I think
of us and God. God is closer than we think, watching us more
than we know. He leaves food where we can find it. We take
the sweet stuff readily and leave the healthy stuff behind. 

God is aware of how we treat others. And we, much of the time, are oblivious
to His Presence, thinking we are sneaking around unseen, and
full of our petty jealousies, spending a lot of time not sharing, or
worse yet, getting quite beligerent when people take things that
are not even ours.

Chippy  also has a hole by the downspout. Our gutter was having
problems so I put a large container, during the dry weather,
under the spout to catch the rain. I didnt know that it partly
covered his hole. When he came up the hole, I heard this
extremely loud commotion. He had panicked when
he could not get out of his hole and pushed the container over,
scaring himself silly  in the process. He is quite the character.
Not very accepting of new things.  Not quite able to adapt
to changes. Not liking new things on his turf.

I've started to be more bold with him. It startles him. I speak
to him when I know he is hiding in the bushes. I ring a little
bell when I am putting food down his hole. I want him to
know that I care about him, but also have a little fun. :)

Gee, this is sounding more like our relationship with God
all the time. Hmmmm..... I wonder if He sees me like
I see Chippy.  Yikes.

P.S. I have a picture of him somewhere. I will try to find it
and post it.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

If the Holy Spirit can take over the subconscious with our consent
and cooperation, then we have almighty Power working at
the basis of our lives, then we can do anything we ought to do,
go anywhere we ought to go, and be anything we ought to be.

Life is supplied with a basic adequacy...
The conscious mind determines the actions, the unconscious
mind determines the reactions; and the reactions are just as
important as the actions. Many Christians are Christians in
their actions--they don't lie, steal, commit adultery, or get
drunk; but they react badly to what happens to them--they react
in anger, bad temper, self-pity, jealousy, and envy... When the
depths are held by the Holy Spirit, then the reaction is

... E. Stanley Jones (1884-1973), Conversion
photo taken near Jacksonville, Vermont

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rejoice in God, O ye tongues; give the glory to the Lord,
and the Lamb. Nations, and languages, and every creature, in which
is the breath of Life.

Let man and beast appear before him, and magnify his name together.

Let Noah and his company approach the throne of Grace, and
do homage to the Ark of their Salvation.

Let Abraham bring a Ram, and worship the God of his

Let Jacob with his speckled Drove adore the good Shepherd
of Israel.

Let Daniel come forth with a Lion, and praise God with all
his might, through faith in Christ Jesus.

Let David bless with the bear:
the beginning of victory to the Lord--

to the Lord the perfection of excellence--

Hallelujah from the heart of God, and from the hand of
the artist inimitable, and from the echo of the
heavenly harp in sweetness magnifical and mighty.

... Christopher Smart (1722-1771), Jubilate Agno [1759],
photo taken in St. Ives, UK

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Road to Zion

Road to Zion

There is a way that leads to life, the few that find it never die
Past mountain peaks graced white with snow, the way grows
brighter as it goes

There is a road inside of you,inside of me there is one too.
No stumbling pilgrim in the Dark, the road to Zion's in your heart,
the road to Zion's in your heart

The river runs beside the road, it's waters living as they flow,
in liquid voice the water calls, on thirsty knees a pilgrim falls

Sometimes a shadow dark & cold lays like a mist across the road,
but Be encouraged by the sight, where there's a shadow there's a light

Sometimes it's good to look back down, we've come so far we've gained
much ground, but joy is not in where we've been, Joy is Who's waiting
at the end

No stumbling pilgrim in the Dark,

the road to Zion's in your heart
the road to Zion's in your heart ,  
the road to Zion's in your heart .

song by Petra

enjoy it here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUUkwDccef4&feature=related

photo taken in Glencoe, Scotland

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea,
you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself.
Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness,
illuminates the mind with its light,
and causes me to know your truth.
And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself.

-- Catherine of Siena

photo taken in Bathgate, Scotland

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Intercession and Stillness

Each time, before you intercede, be quiet first,
and worship God in His glory. Think of what
He can do, and how He delights to hear the
prayers of His redeemed people. Think of your
place and privilege in Christ, and expect great things!

- Andrew Murray

photo taken in Searsmont, Maine

Monday, September 06, 2010

When your horse is on the brink of a precipice, it is too late to pull back on the reins.
--Chinese Proverb

photo taken in Bloomfield, Connecticut

Frederick Buechner: Faith & Letting Go

"We find by losing. We hold fast by letting go. We become something
new by ceasing to be something old. This seems to be close to the heart
of that mystery. I know no more now than I ever did about the far side of
death as the last letting-go of all, but now I know that I do not need
to know, and that I do not need to be afraid of not knowing."
God knows. That is all that matters.

Frederick Buechner

photo taken in Ambleside, Lake District, UK

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Voice of Strangers

....the sheep hear his voice and he calls His own sheep by name
and leads them out....yet they will by no means follow a
stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the
voice of a stranger." (John 10: 3, 5)

What a great promise and a sobering warning this is to us!
God knows His own by name and calls them out. He leads
them safely and gives His life for them. But many strangers
try and raise their voice to lure the sheep toward them.
The land, the world, is full of such voices. They are
everywhere and they are in places you would not
expect them to be. So we must listen to who is calling us.

So many are trying to gather people unto themselves
for their own purposes. Some of those people are
naive. Some are misguided. Some are malevolent.
Some are ravening wolves. Some are in league with
the devil. None have a  shepherd's heart toward you.

Our sole job is to listen and know the Shepherd's voice.
We are in the midst of a war. Strange voices
are vying for our souls. Many want to eat us.
Only Jesus, our good Shepherd, can protect and keep us. 
It is not really a scary matter, but a simple matter of faith and
of hearing.

There is not much we can do to defend ourselves:
sheep don't have much in the way of offensive
resources. But we can trust our Shepherd and
listen to Him. That we can do. He will protect
us. The others do not care for our souls.

How will we hear? First, we must listen. Then
we must discern. Is this the One who loves
me and has given His life for me? Is this
the One who leads me beside still waters?
Is this the One who restores my soul?

When we spend much time with our Beloved
we know what He is like. We can feel His
protection and love for us. We know His
demeanor and His ways. We know His
protective Hand. But the voice of another
we do not recognize.

Dear Ones, when you do not recognize the voice, do not
follow it no matter how sweetly it calls to you. If it promises
that which fulfills the lust of the flesh, the lust of
the eyes, or the pride of life, beware! The hook is
hidden by the bait!

Listen! Listen! Listen!

photo taken in the Yorkshire Dales, UK

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Church of God and the Church of Man

The relevance of the laity received the greatest emphasis
in the sectarian apostolic movements after the 12th century,
and especially in the 14th century through Wycliffe. The
specific significance of this peculiar set of protests and
movements is that their inspiration was purely religious. They
squarely confronted the "ecclesiastical-hierarchical" line with
the "biblical" one. They were, of course, not wholly unaffected
by repercussions of the conflict between the worldly-conceived
papal theocracy and the nationalistic demands of the nations
and their rulers for an independent status, but their heart lay
really with a reform of the Church in the light of the Word of God.

fn. Looking back on these struggles, one is again and again
struck by the daring and independence of mind shown in the
Middle Ages, a time which is always considered to be marked by
submissiveness, especially to authority claimed on religious
grounds as necessary to salvation. This amazement increases
when one takes into consideration our own time, which regards
itself by definition as the time of non-submissiveness.

Nevertheless, whatever movements of protest and conflict there
may be to-day against the hierarchy, they are very weak in
daring and independence in comparison with those of the Middle
Ages. In our secularistic age, in which submissiveness is
devalued on principle, submissiveness to the hierarchical
claims of the Church has never before been so undisputed.

... Hendrik Kraemer (1888-1965), A Theology of the Laity,
London: Lutterworth Press, 1958, p. 60-61

Lord, Truly lead Your church.

photo taken of Ely Cathedral, Ely, UK
in the fog

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sailing on Lake Windermere

A man should learn to sail in all winds.--Italian Proverb

photo taken on Lake Windermere, Windermere, UK

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Were you to simply remain in God's presence, that would be a great  help to you, supporting you in your troubles and helping you to bear them patiently. Be sure that God is more ready than ever to
welcome you into his arms, and that as your distress increases so does his mercy towards you increase and abound.

- John Baptist de La Salle

photo taken at Wastwater, Cumbria UK

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

There is absolutely no substitute for this secret communion with
God. The public Church services, or even the family altar, cannot
take the place of the 'closet' prayer. We must deliberately seek to
meet with God absolutely alone, and to secure such aloneness with
God we are bidden to enter into thy closet.' God absolutely insists
on this 'closet'-communion with Himself. One reason, no doubt, that
He demands it, is to test our sincerity. There is no test for the
soul like solitude.

Do you shrink from solitude? Perhaps the cause for your neglect
of the 'closet' is a guilty conscience? You are afraid to enter into
the solitude. You know that however cheerful you appear to
be you are not really happy. You surround yourself
with company lest, being alone, truth should invade your delusion.

- Gordon Cove

photo taken at Lake Quantabacook, Searsmont, Maine

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"God is present by Love alone. By Love alone
He is great and glorious. By Love alone He liveth
and feeleth in other persons.By Love alone He
enjoyeth all the creatures, by Love alone He
is pleasing to Himself, by Love alone He is rich
and blessed...

The soul is shrivelled up and buried in a grave that
does not love. But that which does love wisely and
truly is the joy and end of all the world, the King of
Heaven, and the Friend of God.

... Thomas Traherne (1637?-1674),"

photo taken at Lake Quantabacook, Searsport, Maine

Monday, August 09, 2010

If God be our God, He will give us peace in trouble. When there
is a storm without, He will make peace within. The world can
create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.

- Thomas Watson

photo taken in Windermere, UK

Sunday, August 08, 2010

What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever. -

Westminster Shorter Catechism (London, 1647)

photo taken at Orrest Hill, Windermere, UK

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Church of God & the Church of Man

We [Paul and Silas] loved you so much that we were
delighted to share with you not only
the gospel of God but our lives as well, because
you had become so dear to us.
--1 Thessalonians 2:8

Priestcraft ... is fostered whenever
and wherever the ... whole people of God
begins to view the ordained ministry as an
office rather than as a function, and allows
the office to shape the function rather than
the function to shape the office.

Most churches and most Christians in
Britain--the denomination is immaterial--
conceive the ministry as a professionalized
caste with its own exclusive tabus...

The humblest and--in the ecclesiastical sense
--lowest Congregational or Methodist chapel
 is as vulnerable as any to priestcraft, even if
it possesses no ordained minister to play
the role of the priest, for it can and usually
does allow the very absence of a minister to
limit unnecessarily the ministry of its members,
both in the church and in the community.

Such chapels, indeed, quite often openly put
forward their lack of a paid, professional minister
as an excuse for their introversion. "We can't
possibly do this ... study this ... attend that.
We haven't got a minister." The corrosive
influence is especially visible in these churches'
pattern of  worship. Whoever is actually
conducting the services, ordained minister or
visiting lay preacher, the pattern is irretrievably
sacerdotal, the congregation neither speaking
by itself nor performing an action from start to
finish. Even the Lord's Prayer is commonly
"led" in a loud voice from the pulpit,
presumably in case the congregation forgets
the words.

... Christopher Driver (1932-1997), A Future for the Free
Churches?, London: SCM Press, 1962,

photo taken near Glencoe, Scotland

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Making It Through the Fire

Heaven will be where no heretic
will bellow, no schismatic cause
dissension, where all will be of
one heart, where peace will abound."
- St Augustine

When we think of heaven we always seem
to make statements like Augustine's. Wow,
we are really expecting a lot
aren't we?  The human heart longs
for this sublime state in the Kingdom
to come.  And no doubt, Scripture
tells us that the kingdom of
heaven will be ruled happily by
God in peace and righteousness and
that His Kingdom will have no end!

But somehow I was having a hard
time wrapping my head around
how we can all live together
happily and in peace eternally
when now barely one Christian can
seem to live in peace with any other
given Christian, never mind all the
redeemed that ever were and ever will
be. And God, too!

I could feel God watching me think
about this and I kind of heard
inside, "It will all be burned away."
Yikes, "What will all be burned away?"

"Everything that is not of My Spirit."

Wow, I suddenly had the clear impression
of what would make it to the next world
and what wouldn't.

In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul talks about this
whole subject, but notice that he talks
about it in the context of division in
the Body of Christ.

1 And I, brethren, could not speak to
you as to spiritual people but as to
carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I
fed you with milk and not with solid
food; for until now you were not able
to receive it, and even now you are
still not able; 3 for you are still
carnal. For where there are envy,
strife, and divisions among you,
are you not carnal and behaving like
mere men? 4 For when one says,
“I am of Paul,” and another,
“I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you
are God’s field, you are God’s building.
10 According to the grace of God which
was given to me, as a wise master
builder I have laid the foundation,
and another builds on it. But let each
one take heed how he builds on it.

11 For no other foundation can anyone
lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with
gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,

13 each one’s work will become clear; for the
Day will declare it, because it will be revealed
by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work,
of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which
he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss;
but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

In God's kingdom everything is built in accordance
with Christ and for the unity of His Body. When
an enemy is truly defeated it is not just the temporary
loss from a single battle that brings victory but the
undoing of the enemy to work any further mayhem.

His weapons are destroyed, his war stores decimated,
his war items dismantled. Here in First Corinthians,
 Paul says a great fire is coming to each of us
and everything that is not of God will burn up.
We who are Christ's,  will make it through the
fire, in varying states of  loss, but alive to God.

 Dear Ones, prepare to look and
be different. God doesnt throw us away when
moth and bug have eaten us nearly to death.
But in order to get rid of the moth and bug the
fire will burn out everything that pertains to it
so that it does not REINFEST! 

Our Enemy will be destroyed, but so will
all his work within us, and his ability to
do more damage. Sadly, we have become
so identified with the enemy's work within
us that it seems to actually be part of us.
But it is not. It will be separated out.
The true part of you that is born of
God is incorruptible. But the rest is
going to need an EXTRME makeover.

So, most likely, most of us will need some
heavenly restoration from the Master Carpenter
when we come through that Final Fire.
Just like a man in the war may lose
two legs and and arm but still be alive.

I do not mean our physical bodies of
course, nor do I mean that our spiritual
bodies, of double course. But that which
remains will need to grow fully into
what it was really meant to be. You will
grow into what you were really meant
to be. Some of us will be really starting from
little more than scratch. What I do mean is
 that if there is much of us that has  identified with
an old regime, prepare to violently part
ways with it.

In our old lives, and sadly even as Christians,
negative or even sinful attitudes and thought
patterns actually defined who we were. Although
God has made provision for it to be otherwise
I am not sure that many of us have availed
ourselves of that provision. And so we will
suffer, more profoundly, the effects of the fire.

I can hear you saying, "But Paul is really
talking about things we do for God, our
works. The fire wont touch me, it will
just judge my works." Well, the verse doesn't
really say that that the fire wont touch you,
it only says it won't destroy you. Bad works
come from a bad place inside that
also needs to be dealt with.

Speaking of fire,  James said
"the tongue also is a fire, a world of evil
among the body, it corrupts the whole
person and sets the whole course of
his life on fire, and is itself set on fire
by hell" (James 3:6).This is where he
asks if a a tree can produce both
good and bad fruit or a brook both
salt and fresh water.  It gets kind of
hard to separate the source from what
the source produces.  Only God can
do that.

Ah, but let's look at something else just
for a moment, the words of John
the Baptist as he describes the person
and work of  Jesus (Matthew 3):
"And now also the axe is laid unto the root
of the trees: therefore every tree which
bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down,
and cast into the fire.

11I indeed baptize you with water unto
repentance. but he that cometh after me
is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not
worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with
the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

12Whose fan is in his hand, and he will
throughly purge his floor, and gather his
wheat into the garner; but he will burn up
the chaff with unquenchable fire.

John the Baptist promises us that Jesus
will baptize us with the Holy Ghost and
with fire. Now I have heard thousands,
of sermons on this  and largely the fire
part  is either ignored or romanticized.
Its made to sound like you are going
to have a rolicking spiritual experience
(Lord, send the fire!) and then I will
 just go home and feel good and be
the same partially converted person I was.
Not so, my friends.

Jesus knew that this would happen, for right
after this, his disciples say that they are ready
for such a baptism of fire and basically Jesus said,
"Oh, its indeed coming" but insinuates they
have no clue as to what it will be like and
that particular passage only  seems to pertain
to their earthly troubles and death!  (Mark 10: 38-45)
Its very human to think that all the change
will happen mystically out there somewhere
or in the heart of my poor neighbor who
isn't as spiritual as I am. Not so, my friends.
Not so. Much will happen in the twinkling
of an eye. But maybe not what or how you
and I think for its exactly what and how you
and I think that is the problem .

And  sometimes a twinkling of an eye
can last a long times when its extremely
hot! Study to show yourself approved of God.
We have been taught many misconceptions
that effect how we live our daily lives.
In all of us are elements of the schismatic
and the heretic that Augustine knows have
no part in the world to come. We aren't
going to look like we do now. Just get
used to it. But we can start the process
of damage control. So you better buckle your
seatbelts and get down to seeking God
here and now for That Day is surely
coming and no-one escapes intact.

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Now since our eternal state is as certainly ours, as our
present state; since we are as certainly to live for ever,
as we now live at all; it is plain, that we cannot judge
of the value of any particular time, as to us, but by
comparing it to that eternal duration, for which we are created.

... William Law (1686-1761), A Serious Call
to a Devout and Holy Life [1728], London:
Methuen, 1899, p. 226

photo taken from Castlerigg, Lake District UK

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.

... Edwin Hubbel Chapin (1814-1880)

photo taken at Lake Windermere,
Cumbria, UK

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Characteristics of the Kingdom

When Christians join together to accomplish
certain things, one may expect the organizations
they form to reflect the characteristics of the
Kingdom, but that will only happen as a
consequence of the way people live and relate
to each other in Christ. It will not necessarily
follow from structures, policies, or documents.

-- Graeme Irvine, former president, World Vision

photo taken in Glencoe, Scotland

Sunday, July 18, 2010

T. Austin Sparks on Listening to the Lord

He who is able to hear, let him listen to and heed what the Holy Spirit says... (Revelation 3:22).

The man or woman who has no inner ear,
no inner silence, no inner place for
hearing the Lord is never going to be
of much use in the service of the Lord,
and mark you, it must be the Lord, and
we must be very careful that we do not
give even good men and good writers the
place that the Lord ought to have.

There is a time when we must sweep
our books aside, when we must shut
ourselves up from the voices of
men, when we must get quiet with the
Lord and listen, and more, we must
seek to cultivate, by the grace of
God, the ear that is always open to
the Lord even when all the other
sounds are around us.

It is difficult, yet not impossible,
that in the raging of the street and
the rush of business life the Lord
should say something; but He will
only speak to those who recognise the
value of listening to the Lord and who
are giving Him His place of silence
to speak when possible. The ear to
hear the Lord when all other sounds
and voices are around us is prepared
and trained in these times of detachment
which the Lord demands, and against which the
devil is eternally active to capture the ear again.

Now, that is elementary (we are not seeking to
be profound), but tremendously important. You
and I know, never mind how spiritually mature
we are - the one object of the devil is to capture
our ear from God, to make it impossible for us
to have the silent hour and the silent ear for God.

The pressing in, and all the things which happen
just when you have decided to have a little quiet
time; then it is you have to fight for the ear - you
know it is true. Do you see, there is something
bound up with that; the undoing of the work of
the devil, the registration of God's mind upon this
universe, everything which is meant by priestly
ministry, which is bringing God in, is bound up
with this: God having the ear.

T. Austin-Sparks,
"The Service and Servant of the Lord

photo taken at Monsal Dale, Derbyshire, UK

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blessed are they who observe his decrees, who seek him with all their heart.

With all my heart I seek you;
let me not stray from your commands.

My soul is consumed with longing
for your ordinances at all times.

The way of truth I have chosen;
I have set your ordinances before me.

Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your justice give me life.

I gasp with open mouth
in my yearning for your commands.

(Ps 119:2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131;)

photo taken on Cammo Walk, North Edinburgh, Scotland

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Galilean Rising Up

I am just having a sense that God is getting ready
to rise up. God is known in both His strength
and His gentleness, known as both Lion and Lamb.
There are the strong risings of God which shake
the earth, and the still whispers of God that
split atoms. As C.S. Lewis wrote of
Aslan, "He is not a tame Lion"....

As I sit here feeling this impression I think fondly
of the large, powerful dogs that have graced my
life: Zoe, Fran, Patches. One of the things I grew
to love about all of them was the way they held
their tremendous strength. They were all known
for taking stuffed toys in their mouth, and in that terrier
way, shake their heads wildly from side to side
with big dog "grins" on their faces as the stuffing
would fly out in all directions. Right now I
can feel God looking at me with that same
kind of grin. :) I don't find that disconcerting
at all. I could do with a good shake in His
 mouth right now. Let all the stuff that is not
secured down fall out!

And now I come upon this quote from H.G. Wells,

He was too great for his disciples. And in view
of what he plainly said, is it any wonder that all who
were rich and prosperous felt a horror of strange
 things, a swimming of their world at his teaching?

Perhaps the priests and the rich men understood him
better than his followers. He was dragging out all
the little private reservations they had made from
 social service into the light of a universal religious
life. He was like some terrible moral huntsman
digging mankind out of the snug burrows in which
they had lived hitherto.

In the white blaze of this kingdom of his there
was to be no property, no privilege, no pride and
precedence; no motive indeed and no reward but
love. Is it any wonder that men were dazzled and
blinded and cried out against him?

Even his disciples cried out when he would not
spare them  the light. Is it any wonder that the
priests realized that between this man and
themselves there was no choice but that he or
priestcraft should perish?

Is it any wonder that the Roman soldiers,
confronted and amazed by something soaring over
their comprehension and threatening all their
discipline, should take refuge in wild laughter, and
crown him with thorns and robe him in purple and
make a mock Caesar of him? For to take him
seriously was to enter upon a strange and alarming
life, to abandon habits, to control instincts and
impulses, to essay an incredible happiness...

Is it any wonder that to this day this Galilean is
too much for our small hearts?

If there ever was a time for God to rise up and
be bigger than us it is now. If ever we needed
Him to dig us out of our "private reservations" and
our "snug burrows" it is now. If ever we need to
embark upon a strange and alarming life,
abandon our habits, control our instincts and
impulses, and give essay to incredible happiness,
now is the time.

Let the Galilean rise up and be too much for us.

quote taken from H. G. Wells (1866-1946),
The Outline of History, v. II
1920], The Review of Reviews Co., 1922, p. 598-599

The Pearl of Great Price: Have You Tasted God's Kingdom?

I have felt led to engage upon a time of
spiritual inventory in my own life and
to implore those around me to do likewise,
but even as I begin to do this, I feel
an equally large caution within to not
undertake this as a checklist of things
that I should be doing more or less of,
depending on if they are vice or virtue.
All that feels so repugnant and I was
wondering why. I think I know why.

I am reading Gerhard Lohfink's  "Jesus
and Community"
and it striking such
deep chords within that I can't put it
down. I'm going to be writing a few articles
quoting some of what he says because it
is so rich and timely, and using it as
a challenge to the way we think about
how and why we serve God and engage
in spiritual disciplines.

He makes the most amazing point: that
the "reign of God which is now coming
to the world, which is actually in its
midst, is so appealing and fascinating
that it is not at all difficult to change
one's life and to live from now on
enthralled by what has been found
(J & C, pg 60).

Somehow, it is that point that I feel
that we so desperately miss when we
view and review our Christian life.
Jesus does not call us to live just
a disciplined life according to a
set of high standards. He calls us
to live a humanly impossible life
in the company of His kingdom people
ON EARTH. It is a life of complete
abandonment to God not in a
restrictive sense, but in a
discovery of what freedom in
God's life and kingdom is really
all about. Jesus tells us this
in the parable of the buried
treasure and the parable
of the pearl:

"The kingdom of heaven is like a
buried treasure which a man found
in a field. He hid it again, and
REJOICING at his find, went and
sold all that he had and bought
the field"
. Or again, "the kingdom
of heaven is like a merchant's
search for fine pearls. When he
found one really valuable pearl,
he went back and put up for sale
all that he had and bought it."

Lohfink notes that nothing in
these parables seems grim or
heroic. "The men do give up
everything and act in a radical
manner, but they do so without
bitterness or heroism, They behave
like men who have made a great
discovery and have had extraordinary
luck in doing so. The attraction

of what they have found overwhelms
them and permeates everything they do
(J&C,pg 60)

In other words, they are happier
than the "American Pickers" when they
find a junkyard of rusted vintage
signs and old motorcycles. It would
be like me going to an estate sale
and finding the whole house full
of every wonderful vintage item
I had ever hoped to find all
in the same place all marked "Free
if you take everything". My heart
would be racing and my joy would
be great! I'd be all over that!

Let me hammer the punchline now, "Do
you feel that kind of happiness
about your spiritual life?" I dare
to say that you might not. And
this is one of the great differences
between the early followers of Jesus and
us. We do not have that same fire
in our bones. We do not
recognize how full of ecstasy (even
with untold persecution) living
in the kingdom of God is because
we have not tasted it properly.

Somehow, the kingdom of God
has gotten equated with a bunch
of rules and regimens and not
about the discovery of God's
"unspeakable gift" in the kingdom
of Christ. Ah, but I see you asking,
"if I have never really tasted that
kingdom, how can I know that
kind of desire for it?"

Well, now we will see what you
are made of! That revelation must
come from God!  I ask you to prayerfully read
the gospels and ask God to reveal
His kingdom to you: a kingdom
built on love so selfless that human
hands cannot simulate it, a kingdom
of such brotherly and sisterly
affection that living and dying for one another
is an honor! Read the gospels in
the light of seeing what impelled
the early disciples to do what they
did joyfully and whole-heartedly

Brothers and sisters,
have you ever felt His Kingdom burning in
your heart? If you have than there is
enough fuel there for you to walk in
a heavenly life right here on earth.
A life that throws religious caution to the wind,
and makes total abandonment of every
lesser thing easy.

There is a pearl of great price, and 
field with a great treasure hid right
there where you are sitting. You ignore it at
your own sad loss and peril. There is
some chance that, even as a Christian,
you have never really experienced even
a glimpse of what Jesus
wants to hold out to us as His family.

You may have heard what you think is the
message; you may have heard
and not understood. You will
know how deeply you have heard
the message by how much joy
wells up in your heart when you think
of it, and how much you are willing
to let go of to keep it! Start your
spiritual inventory there!

What God's kingdom is really about
makes that choice a no-brainer and
a full-hearter! I need to get back
to this place in my heart and sit
with it.  I think Jesus calls it "First Love."
Its affect is amazing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

See that you buy the field where the Pearl is; sell all,
and make a purchase of salvation. Think it not easy:
for it is a steep ascent to eternal glory: many are lying
dead by the way, slain with security.”

--Samuel Rutherford

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and
rivers, the mountain and the sea, are
excellent schoolmasters, and teach some
of us more than we can ever learn from books

--John Lubbock

photo taken at Wast Water, Cumbria, UK

Thursday, July 08, 2010

A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly,
assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all
patiently, defends courageously, and continues
a friend unchangeably.
~William Penn

photo taken in the Lake District, UK

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Long did I toil, and knew no earthly rest,
Far did I rove, and found no certain home;
At last I sought them in His sheltering breast,
Who opens His arms and bids the weary come:
With Him I found a home, a rest divine,
And I since then am His, and He is mine.

photo taken in the Lake District, England

Saturday, July 03, 2010

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went,
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and ah! bright wings.

... Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889
photo of Lake Windermere, Ambleside, UK

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Prayer of St. Brendan

Help me to journey beyond the familiar into the unknown.

Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with You.

Christ of the mysteries, I trust You
to be stronger than each storm within me.
I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times, even now, are in Your hand.

Tune my spirit to the music of heaven,
and somehow, make my obedience count
for You.

--Prayer of St. Brendan

photo taken in Cambridge, UK

Thursday, July 01, 2010

For God, who commanded the light
to shine out of darkness, has shined
 in our hearts, to give the light of
the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ.

--2 Corinthians 4:6

photo taken at Lake Windermere, Ambleside, UK

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Desire to Rule is the Beginning of Heresy

"The desire to rule is the beginning of heresy."
--John Chrysostom

photo taken in Colorado Springs, CO