Monday, November 30, 2009

" ... even the most intimate human companionship cannot satisfy the deepest places of the heart. Our hearts are lonely ‘til they rest in Him."

--Elisabeth Elliot, Loneliness

You Alone can Rescue by Matt Redman

Who, O Lord, could save themselves
Their own soul could heal?
Our shame was deeper than the sea
Your grace is deeper still

You alone can rescue
You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave


You came down to find us
Led us out of death
To You alone belongs the highest praise

You, O Lord, have made a way
The great divide you healed
For when our hearts were far away
Your love went further still
Yes, Your love goes further still

We lift up our eyes, lift up our eyes
You're the giver of life

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Like A Sad Song by John Denver

"The gift of ourselves in total submission to God is a sacrifice in which, far from losing anything, we gain everything and recover, in a more perfect mode of possession, even what we seem to have lost. For at the very moment when we give ourselves to God, God gives Himself to us."

--Thomas Merton

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable ... The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers ... of love is Hell."

--C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Friday, November 27, 2009

"O God, early in the morning, I cry to You. Help me to pray and to concentrate my thoughts on You; I cannot do this alone. In me there is darkness, but with You there is light; I am lonely, but You never leave me; I am feeble in heart, but with You there is help; I am restless, but with You there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience; I do not understand Your ways, But You know the way for me. O Heavenly Father, I praise and thank You for the peace of the night; I praise and thank You for this new day; I praise and thank You for all Your goodness and faithfulness throughout my life."

--Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Goodness and faithfulness

"O God, early in the morning, I cry to You. Help me to pray and to concentrate my thoughts on You; I cannot do this alone. In me there is darkness, but with You there is light; I am lonely, but You never leave me; I am feeble in heart, but with You there is help; I am restless, but with You there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience; I do not understand Your ways, But You know the way for me. O Heavenly Father, I praise and thank You for the peace of the night; I praise and thank You for this new day; I praise and thank You for all Your goodness and faithfulness throughout my life."

--Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"God is not proud . . . He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him."

--C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances."

--Martha Washington

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Prairie Home Companion

“It is a good thing to wait upon the Lord in a well-watered land. It is a holy thing to wait upon Him in a barren landscape.”

--Andre Seu

Monday, November 23, 2009

"To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God moulds us according to God's love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control."

--Henri J. M. Nouwen

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I was reminded of the need to re-examine ourselves, asking the basic question: Is there anything we love more than we love Christ? If so, we need to confess the sin of leaving our first love, and turn our eyes on Jesus. Go back to the beginning: to the simplicity of listening to Him, talking to Him, and dwelling on the Cross, and ask the Father to increase our love for His Son.

Dar La Teta Es Dar Vida

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Continual Feast

Desperately distant, you swallowed the grief,
The sanguine sadness, the soul-killing pain,
That tempted your palette with swine’s cuisine,
And starved your fading faith until weak and profane.

Unworthy of privilege, you will still obtain favor;
The fountain of joy will be yours in the end;
I formed your hard heart into an object of mercy,
Securing your fate as my guest and my friend.

With a single word I’ll open the floodgates
Of unbridled laughter, of uncontrollable tears;
Flung into the arms of unadulterated pleasure,
You will cry without restraint for your vanquished fears.

If you draw near and drink from my chalice of joy,
And drown your sorrows ‘till your cup overflows,
You’ll see streams of cold water for your sorely-parched soul;
And you will quench your thirst in the river of delights.

Sit here, at my table while I conjure new wine,
And savor the feast of the fat of the land;
Crave the cordial of dreams, the cascade of delight,
And share in the banquet at my right hand.

Then watch as I fill your barns with plenty,
Overflowing your land with milk and honey;
An unabated abundance for your cruise of oil,
With copious firstfruits from fertile soil.

I’ll intoxicate your heart with a double portion
Of emotional caviar, of milk from the breast;
Eat the bread of kindness; sip the fruit of the vine;
A profusion of pleasure, a wellspring of rest.

Indulge yourself freely in the manna of grace;
Taste it and see that my love is good;
So earnestly sought but for so long withheld,
Your abundant harvest and the latter rain.

Continually revel in my sumptuous feast;
Sigh for pleasure; sink to deep, dreamless sleep.
Guiltlessly wallow in this reckless self-abandon
And the consummate torrent of desire fulfilled.

Draw near and drink from my chalice of joy;
Drown your sorrows ‘till your cup overflows;
There are streams of cold water for your sorely-parched soul;
So come, quench your thirst in the river of delights.
May God, who puts all things together, makes all things whole, who made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus, the sacrifice of blood that sealed the eternal covenant, who led Jesus, our Great Shepherd, up and alive from the dead, now put you together, provide you with everything you need to please him, make us into what gives him most pleasure, by means of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Messiah. All glory to Jesus forever and always! Oh, yes, yes, yes.

--Heb. 13:20-21, The Message

Friday, November 20, 2009

"'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'"

--Mal. 3:10

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Recently I heard someone speak about the concept of disciplining our disappointments so that they do not get the better of us, but instead become launching points for good choices and a better future. As a Christian, I do think that we should be embracing that mentality, given that all our failures were nailed to the Cross, that the Lord has a plan for our good, that He will even turn what has been bad into good, and because we already know that ultimately, everything will turn to glory since we are now children of God. We are blessed to be able to bring the optimism of God to our disappointments.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"You will have courage because you will have hope.
You will take your time, and rest in safety."

--Job 11:18

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Unrequited Love

There is so much inside my heart yearning to be free
That Providence is almost bound to bring to pass
A time of restitution when all wrongs will be made right,
When all tears will be for joy alone,
And waiting love will be fully requited.

The dreams that put a sparkle in my eyes as a child,
Or as a hopeful young man, in looking to the future,
Are reflections of the place where everything began,
The seductive, blossoming gardens of Paradise,
Where God and man walked side-by-side,
Where we would have stood naked and without shame,
Where flourishing love and abounding grace
Healed all wounds before they were even inflicted,
And all that could be and should be was.

A day will arrive when you and I will face each other,
Perhaps disillusioned, but with all masks removed,
Finding that the love of God is renewing all things;
That while hope deferred had made our hearts sick,
Our desire fulfilled has become a tree of life.

Knowing only our shame, yet trusting and hoping,
We will relinquish our fears and all shadows of doubt,
Throwing caution to the wind of reckless delight,
To find ourselves exultant, in joyful flight,
With our innermost dreams as our constant abode,
Released from past pain, wrapped in bliss forever.

What others have tried to do for selfish reasons,
That was found to be only to their tragic demise,
We will do, and for the first time in our lives,
Truly live.

This is the awaited nourishing of the soul
And the rapturous requiting of love.

"Mountains, when in darkness hidden, are as real as in day, and God's love is as true to you now as it was in your brightest moments ... You will yet climb Jacob's ladder with the angels and behold Him who sits at the top of it--your covenant God. You will yet, amidst the splendors of eternity, forget the trials of time or only remember them to bless the God who led you through them and works your lasting good by them. Come, sing in the midst of tribulation. Rejoice even while passing through the furnace. Make the wilderness blossom like the rose! Cause the desert to ring with your exulting joys, for these light afflictions will soon be over, and then, forever with the Lord, your bliss shall never wane."

--C.H. Spurgeon

Monday, November 16, 2009

Your Heart of Beauty Rests

Your heart of beauty rests in stillness and in pain;
And tearfully you’ve told yourself you’ll never love again.

Your dreams were shaken hard, your faith was shaken more,
Emptiness has filled your life as your hopes and fears make war.

There seems nowhere to turn, no friends who will be true,
And the empty promises they made is all you have in view.

The day has turned to night; the warm has turned to cold,
The gentle rain of yesterday became an unforgiving storm.

Yet somehow in the gloom, you look past the despair,
And you won’t let go of what you know lies just behind the veil.

No dreams were dreamt in vain;
lost love you will regain;

And all those hopes for joy and peace
weren’t hoped only in pain.

Another day will come; the clouds will blow away;
What you hoped would be, will finally be, and will be here to stay.

Hear my prayer by Purcell, sung by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge

My nature

"To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart."

--Charles Dickens

A friend

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

--D. Roberts
"I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it."

--Psalm 81:10

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Case of You by Diana Krall



(Song by Joni Mitchell).
I am a dreamer. God made me a dreamer, and when I dream, I feel His pleasure. I long for transcendence so strongly that it frequently overwhelms me. I long to revel in the deep things of God—of present beauty, of ultimate reality, and of future glory.

But there are events in our lives that ... [to read the rest of this essay, click here].

Saturday, November 14, 2009

An optimist

"For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use to be anything else."

--Winston S. Churchill

A beautiful soul

I am a dreamer. God made me a dreamer, and when I dream, I feel His pleasure. I long for transcendence so strongly that it frequently overwhelms me. I long to revel in the deep things of God—of present beauty, of ultimate reality, and of future glory.

But there are events in our lives that cause us to stumble, to break, and to focus on the storm rather than on the Master. We sometimes feel betrayed and abandoned by others, and even by God. And in the crucible of those moments, when our usually guarded worldviews are forced wide open, we allow fears, doubts, anger, and cynicism to creep in, even in small doses, and those feelings become hard to kill.

In those times of the dark night of the soul, we too often make subtle vows to ourselves that we won't ever be hurt those ways again. We build walls to make sure we stay protected, and create venues to avoid the pain.

But there is a better way.

These are the moments that become the hinges upon which our lives take major turns. These are the empty days and sleepless nights that count, despite how much they feel like a waste. These are the moments when we choose to seize the day, to seize the beauty, and to seize what truly matters.

A beautiful soul. I wonder what it takes to be a beautiful soul.

We all have things that weigh us down, but in the midst of our burdens, a transcendent mindset beckons us, one which the world cannot comprehend. Not all of us will choose it, and not all of us can even understand it yet, including me. But we can take small steps. We can admit we are not where we need to be, and purpose where our lives are headed. We can choose to truly be people of faith.

We tend to live by the notion that as life seems more trustworthy, we will be able to take more risks, and conversely, that if life gets less trustworthy, we will protect ourselves and take fewer risks. But what would be necessary for our hearts to take those risks even when life feels unsafe?

There is a kind of heart that learns to truly trust God for real, no matter what. There are eyes that see past today to eternity. There is a brokenness that embraces surrender like never before.

One of the most crucial choices we will make in life is vulnerability. Being open to the possibility of woundedness, disappointment, and even treachery, yet remaining willing to pursue life's beauty.

When we walk through dark valleys, we have the opportunity to take some terrifying emotional and spiritual risks which expose us to both the greatest joys and the deepest pains possible in this life. But without making the choice to be vulnerable, to seize the beauty of God and of life no matter what comes our way, we are only half alive.

C.S Lewis wrote that "Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness . . . we shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it."

In that mindset, we choose to keep holding on, to believe that dawn is coming. We embrace brokenness, and embrace it God's way. We know that He is using the trials of life to challenge our hearts, to prove us, and to help us surrender our wills—not to avoid pain. God, do whatever it takes to make us holy, no matter what the cost, and teach us to rejoice in whatever that cost may be.

Life is about intimacy and beauty, and will be for all eternity. It's what God, the Gospel, heaven, and humanity are all about. We embrace the beauty. We pursue it, revel in it, and dive into it with all our hearts.

God, You have woven beauty and majesty everywhere. Even in the darkest hours, we have abundant reason to stand in awe of You, in amazement at what You have created, and in gratitude for what You have done and are still doing. You delight to give Your children good gifts. You cannot but bless Your Son's beloved Bride.
We drink deeply from the fountain of delights.

A beautiful soul. I wonder what it takes to be a beautiful soul.

We choose to be carefree, unworried, and untroubled. We choose to cast our cares on the Lord, because He cares for us. We choose to be resolute, confident, cheerful, joyous, and lighthearted. We choose optimism. We play the Glad Game and really mean it.

We purposefully choose to not be disillusioned. We reject cynicism. We sanctify our imaginations. We resist the tendency to take shortcuts and the easy way out. We choose the way of wisdom.

We choose to believe that the presence of pain does not equate in any way to the absence of God and does not imply His displeasure. God allows all His children to go through dark valleys to teach them trust and obedience.

We choose to believe that the wilderness may, indeed, be the best place for God to find us. Empty of all pride, success, and confidence in our own strength, we turn to God, admitting that we cannot enter the Promised Land without Him, and that in truth, He—not our supposed dreams and plans—is the Promised Land.

We choose to believe that everything God had made, and everything God does, is good, and that His design is always right. He is the sovereign, brilliant Master Designer. He never makes mistakes of any kind, and He constantly takes our lives—including our wounds and even our mistakes—and turns them into glory.

Oh, God, may the depths of me collide with the depths of You! May I be transformed through and through, from the inside out.

We choose to believe that God cannot help but bless us. He blesses us constantly, whether we realize it not. He constantly works things together for our good, and will only ever bless those who are His. What could He do that would not ultimately be a blessing, even if it currently feels like a loss or a disappointment? Even His discipline is a blessing, because in teaching us to give up something, He is focusing us on His will, our character, His glory, and our good.

We choose to believe that God loves to celebrate. God delights to invite His family to a feast He has prepared. He is the King who serves, the Friend who prepares a table before us, the Father who will throw the most lavish wedding in history, the Master who even washes our feet as we sit down to have Him share His bread with us. In that spirit, we offer our lives as a constant celebration, a continual feast, a neverending expression of joy. We choose to be carefree because our hearts' deepest desires were already met at the Cross of Christ. The Lord is our Shepherd, and so we lack nothing.

We choose to embrace the paradoxes. We know that there is beauty beyond comprehension in the mysteries, in not knowing all the answers yet running to the One who does, and in being children with endless questions yet belonging to the faithful, trustworthy Father. We question for a short time, but we do not let our questions hold us back from wonder, amazement, and worship. We fall on our knees and stare and laugh. We stand confidently, and walk without fear, and dance for Him, whether He answers all our questions or not.

We choose to not let anything draw us away from the simplicity of our love for Jesus and our devotion to Him.

We believe that God is on our side and He does not write any truly sad endings. The Lord will be faithful to complete what He started in us. God is the Master Artist, and we are unfinished portraits. God will make us glorious in the end. Jesus, paint my life!

Lord, we have set our sails as best as we know, in the direction of Your will, so far as we understand it. Please fill our sails with Your wind and guide and redirect us where You will.

We hold nothing back. No reservations. No separate stash for ourselves. It all belongs to You. Our only goal is to be pleasing to You, our Master.

We bow our knees to You with tears of joy and gratitude that we no longer bow to sin and death. We do not argue with doors You open or shut. We are soldiers committed to Your task. We are children dedicated to the honor of Your name.

We are Your followers, forever grateful for Your opening our eyes to see, and forever ready to do Your bidding, so that others may see what great things You have done for us.

You alone are the One worthy to direct our lives. You are the only One we can truly trust to write the very best story of our lives. You alone call the shots in our lives, and for that we are eternally and joyfully indebted.

Lord, make our lives a song. Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You, and may they pour out as praise to You. Write the lyrics of our lives, and let them be worship to You. Whether the songs sound upbeat, sad, calm, or fearful, let us take those songs and offer them up, imperfect though our offerings may be. Rewrite the songs of our lives the way You choose, and we will learn the tune and sing it back to You with a grateful heart.

Lord, I know what it will take to be a beautiful soul. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.
Come what may; to You be the glory.

"Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness . . . we shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it."

--C.S. Lewis
"Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness . . . we shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it."

--C.S. Lewis

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

That I Would Be Good by Alanis Morissette

"... To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

--Isaiah 61:3

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bach's Mass in B minor - Dona nobis pacem

"You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness and joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."

--Psalm 16:11

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul's paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart."

--A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, 14

Monday, November 9, 2009

Skalkaho Falls - with Katie Sitler, Helen Howell, and Jenni Travis


“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”

--Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sunday, November 8, 2009

“While vast continents are shrouded in darkness, the burden of proof lies upon you to show that the circumstances in which God has placed you were meant by God to keep you out of the foreign mission field.”

--Ion Keith-Falconer

“It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.”

--J. Hudson Taylor

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him."

– C.T. Studd

Friday, November 6, 2009

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

--Ps. 34:18

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"God is on our side and He does not write any truly sad endings."

--a kindred spirit

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassion does not fail; it is new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!

--Lam. 3:22-23

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

This is what the LORD says: "Don't let the wise man boast of his wisdom, or the strong man boast of his strength, or the rich man boast of his riches. Instead, let whoever wants to boast about something important boast about understanding and knowing Me. Let him take pride in knowing Me, the LORD, and in understanding that I exercise kindness, justice, and righteousness on the earth, because these are the things in which I delight," declares the LORD.

Jer. 9:23-24

Sunday, November 1, 2009