Thursday, March 31, 2005

saying goodbye to march

In like a lamb, or out like a lion? In like a lion, out like a lamb? Here’s a little of both...

March Haiku

Clouds billow, sun shines
winter petulance returns
sends rain sulks in gusts


Power lines, trees down
ferry cars lined up for miles
springtime wind is king


Long catkins dangle
quiver jiggle billow stream
spring flags in March wind


Silent grows green moss
on roof, fence, siding, old car
fed by gloom and rain


Early garden chores
planting seeds and moving roots
playing in the dirt
V. Nesdoly © 2004

**************
March
It was raining hard when I went to bed;
The creek was over its banks, they said,

And in the morning far and wide
The meadows were flooded on every side;

There was water over the yard below,
And it looked like a place I did not know:

The wind swept by with a rushing sound,
And the dog-house floated around and round.

When father went out to the barn that day
I thought he’d surely be swept away.

In long gum boots he stepped from the door,
And the water was up to his knees and more.

I thought, if the flood should never go down,
We’d build a boat and row to town,

For there we would buy our bread and meat
And pies and all things good to eat.

And living here for all our days
We would almost be like castaways.


prayer thots - March 22-31

  • March 31

Until we believe that prayer is indeed a real and highly significant activity, that it does in fact reach beyond space and time to the God who is actually there, we will never acquire the habits of worship and intercession. In order to gain these habits, we must make a conscious effort to overcome the part of us that thinks that praying is not a natural part of life.

--Gordon MacDonald (Ordering Your Private World, 1984)

  • March 30

We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature--trees, flowers, grass--grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and sun, how they move in silence... the more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need slence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. All our words will be useless unless they come from within--words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.

--Mother Teresa

  • March 29

Grace

When the young professor folded
his hands at dinner and spoke to God
about my safe arrival
through the snow, thanking Him also
for the food we were about to eat,
It was in the tone of voice I use
to speak to friends when I call... (
read remainder-March 29 entry)

–Linda Pastan (The Last Uncle, 2003)

  • March 28

Alert praying is a major component in spiritual warfare. To be alert means to 'sleep in the open,' ready for battle at any moment. It is prayer which can switch gears at a moment's notice.

--George Mallone (Arming for Spiritual Warfare, 1991)

  • March 27

Oxygen is to fire what hope is to prayer.

--Anonymous

  • March 26

Nothing is ever wasted in the kingdom of God. Not one tear, not all our pain, not the unanswered auestions or the seemingly unanswered prayers....Nothing will be wasted if we give our lives to God. And if we are willing to be patient until the grace of God is made manifest, whether it takes nine years or ninety, it will be worth the wait.

-- Rebecca Manley Pippert (Hope Has Its Reasons, 1989)

  • March 25

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed,

"My Father if it is possible, take this cup away from me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

He went away a second time and being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

"My Father if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away...unless I drink it, let Your will be done."

-- Matthew 26:39-42; Luke 22:42,44 (Praying the Bible - The Book of Prayers, "Your Will Be Done," 2002)

  • March 24

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of prayer. He prays directly, speaking with the Father and the Son. He also prays indirectly, praying through you the believer....To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with the Spirit of intercession.

-- Wesley Duewel (Touch the World Through Prayer, 1986)

  • March 23

God welcomes us into His presence, accepting us no matter how 'disfigured or deformed' we are. But when we come before Him in worship, we need to make certain that we have been washed in Jesus' blood and our hearts are clean, harboring no blemish or pride or defect of impurity.

-- Joni Erickson Tada ("Come Before God In Purity" - Women's Devotional Bible, 1990)

  • March 22

I can take my telescope and look millions of miles into space, but I can lay it aside and go into my room, shut the door, get down on my knees in earnest prayer and see more of heaven and get closer to God than I can assisted by all the telescopes and material agencies on earth.

-- Sir Isaac Newton

**************
Visit Rebecca Writes and The Upward Call for more on prayer.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

squeezed dry

An amazing thing happened when I went to the doc’s office and dropped off my typed letters yesterday morning. At 7:20, the MOA was already there. Taking a break from making phone calls, she told me I’d be having the week off. The doc’s mom who lives in Ottawa had a stroke and he’d be out of town for the week ... sad (but happy, happy for me!!).

When this happens, I feel like I’m dealing with gift-wrapped hours. I am so paranoid of wasting this precious time because it’s easy to lose the focus being pressed for time gives. Somewhere in my pea brain, I have the sense this will be endless, so I dawdle, get distracted (reading blogs, for example) or go on rabbit trails cleaning out pencil drawers and organizing my desk.

Today I was very good. I worked at my devotional all morning. Then after our walk (we did the Nico Wynd golf course and saw the eagle pair, sitting near their nest) I did the final line-edit of two stories, wrote a short kids’ website of the month article and submitted all editor to Deb at FaithWriter Magazine for "The Treehouse" - May issue.

I used to tell myself if I had more time, I’d use it all to write. I don’t say that often any more. There’s only so much time I can spend, writing – no matter what it is – and then I’m squeezed dry. Tonight I’m squeezed dry.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

yellow




YELLOW

I am rays of forsythia
to winter-weary yard
I am sunbeams of pansies, dafs and tulips.
I am Basket of Gold
spilling over rock wall
and bright dandelions decorating ditches.
I’m a riot of broom
along ocean cliffs in spring
and in summer a hedge of ochre tansy.
In the fall I am rippling field
of champagne-colored wheat
then as goldenrod I sway in grass of khaki.


I’m a squirt of tangy mustard
a bite of lemon pie
I am saffron and turmeric and curry.
I’m the orangy-golden egg yolk
the richest ivory cream
I am cheese and damson jam and tawny biscuits.
I’m the singing canary
the ribbon on the tree,
never shy, most tend to think of me as forward –
when I highlight your lines
mark your place with sticky notes –
so don’t ever, ever dare to call me coward!

–V. Nesdoly © 2004
Dedicated to Rebecca Writes in the great Canadian, almost-frozen north who, it seems, has yellow fever.

christian carnival 63

You have just a few more hours to choose and submit your favorite post of the week to this week’s Christian Carnival (up tomorrow at Weapon of Mass Distraction).


Send the following:

  • The name and URL of your blog
  • The title and URL of your post
  • a short (one- or two-sentence) description of your post.

to this email addy. Deadline by Tuesday midnight EST. (Earlier is better for the host.)

More info here:

Monday, March 28, 2005

disturbing seeds

I got this book in the mail a few days ago and have so far read137/348. This is not the official review but a partway-through debrief.

Some thoughts:
1. This is the kind of book which, once you’ve read it:

  • you wish you didn’t know the stuff it says
  • because now you can no longer plead innocence
  • but instead are forced to make a decision on taking action or continuing on in conscious denial.

2. Who should read this book:

  • everyone with kids or grandkids of school age.
  • people who have felt a chill in the air re traditional values on many fronts and have wondered how the atmosphere changed to quickly.
  • Canadians who feel the move to redefine marriage in Canada is simply society’s natural and organic evolution. This book shows how orchestrated these changes are (Ch. 19 "The Homosexual Manifesto" – and see *footnote quote below)
  • people who are thinking of wading into this fray, so they realize without an undergirding of prayer and the protection of the blood of Jesus, this fight could be dangerous to their health (Ch. 18 - "Intimidation").

*footnote quote

In checking on some of the quotes in Georgiana Preskar’s book re gay marriage topic, I came across this article from New Zealand’s Investigate Magazine - April 2004. I quote from the middle section:

For example, Patti Ettelbrick, former leader of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund says: "Being queer is more than setting up house, sleeping with a person of the same gender, and seeking state approval for doing so. Being queer means pushing the parameters of sex and sexuality, and in the process transforming the very fabric of society."

Michelangelo Signorile, homosexual activist and writer argues that the goal of homosexuality is to: "fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely, to demand the right to marry, not as a way of adhering to society’’s moral codes, but rather to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution. The most subversive action lesbians and gay men can undertake, is to transform the notion of ‘‘family’’ entirely."[...]


Recall how the media poked fun at Stephen Harper for suggesting gay marriage would lead to polygamy. Read the following – and go figure...

Which brings us to the concept of polyamory. Once civil unions and marriage between same-sex couples are legalized, it could be argued that limiting the relationship to two people is discriminatory. Since the procreation and rearing of children by a mother and father, is no longer recognized by the state as a preferred relationship, or for the greater good of society, there is no reason apart from convention to limit the union to two people.


Stanley Kurtz, writing in the Weekly Standard (August 4th, 2003) "Beyond Gay Marriage: the road to polyamory", predicts that marriage will be transformed into a variety of relationship contracts, linking two, three, or more individuals, in every conceivable combination of male and female. Polyamory is about group marriage, and already in the United States, a network of grass-roots organizations advocating legal recognition, is being supported by a powerful faction of family law specialists.


"Influential legal bodies in both the United States and Canada, have presented radical programs of marital reform. Some of these proposals go so far as to suggest the abolition of marriage."Kurtz says that the modern polyamory movement took off in the mid-nineties, partly because of the growth of the Internet, but also in parallel and inspired by the rising gay marriage movement.


"Unlike classic polygamy, which features one man and several women, polyamory comprises a bewildering variety of sexual combinations. There are triads of one women and two men, heterosexual group marriages, groups in which all members are bisexual, lesbian groups and so forth. (For details, see Deborah Anapol’’s "Polyamory: the New Love Without Limits", or look up the word polyamory on Google.)"[...]

An astute commenter asks: "...who and where in the U.S. did you get this information?"

The following are some of the articles from the 'notes' section of Seeds of Deception Chapter 19 "Homosexual Manifesto." They are U.S. articles.

Same-Sex Marriages and Domestic Partnerships: Are they Good for Families and Society?

"Selling Homosexuality to America"

"The Homosexual Agenda: It's No Longer About Tolerance"

m&m reviewer

Perhaps you’ve noticed the swank "Mind & Media Exclusive Reviewer" logo in my sidebar, and beneath it a graphic which links to the book I’m in the process of reading for purposes of review.

Stacy Harp of Mind&Media blog is harnessing the power of blogs to create buzz with a view to promoting and marketing newly released books and movies.

She is always on the lookout for new reviewers. If you’re interested:

1. Check out Stacy's MediaSoul and Mind&Media sites.

2. Contact Stacy. She’ll give you a choice of books to review, set you up with the relevant sidebar graphics, then send you the book - free of charge.

3. You display the book graphic on your blog for the 30 days you’re reading and reviewing it.

4. Through Stacy you also have the editor’s contact information to do an interview.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

easter traditions

For the first time in years I’ve bought no chocolate Easter treats. There’s no one here for whom to lay a trail of Cadbury mini-eggs leading to stashes of milk chocolate bunnies, fondant-filled eggs and O-Henry bars. The dyed straw baskets have stayed in their storage box, smished together with the green cello straw and the yellow faux fur chicks.

To be honest, the fun Easter traditions have been slowly dropping away for years now – the dying of hard-boiled eggs in food-coloring and vinegar, the Easter egg hunts. This year I even skipped baking Paska to decorate with icing and colored sprinkles and eat on Easter morning. You need kids around to spark the enthusiasm to do these things. Plus hubby and I just don’t need all that rich food.

But there is one tradition I just won’t let go. For me it is wrapped up in a song we sang most Easter Sundays in church when I was a kid.

The verses are solemn and thoughtful:

*"Low in the gave He lay, Jesus my Savior! Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord
Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior! Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!
Death cannot keep his prey, Jesus my Savior! He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!"

But in the chorus, the music changes – becomes almost a trumpet reveille.

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph oe’r His foes
He arose the Victor from the dark domain
And He lives forever with His saints to rein,
He arose!
He arose!
Hallelujah!
Christ arose!

No matter how the circumstances in my life change to effect the coming and going of secular Easter traditions, I never want to lose that Easter constant. It’s the spark of joy, the stirring of hope, the sunrise, spring-day feeling I get when I reflect on the fact - He is risen. He is risen indeed!


* "Christ Arose" - Text and music by Robert Lowry

***************
...later

On the drive to church this morning my nephew Chris came to mind. He and his family (wife Jane and three kids 6, 3 and 1) were to be at our Good Friday dinner at Mom’s. They didn’t come, though, because Chris was fighting another bout of malaria, and Jane and a couple of the kids had colds. This morning the thought came to me - we should check on them.

We phoned them as soon as we got home from church. Turns out they’re still ill and housebound. But when I asked, would it be okay if we came over, Jane sounded pleased – even happy.

We stopped at Superstore to load up with Easter treats, then at KFC for a bucket and fries and coleslaw.

And so it came about that I did buy Easter treats this year after all – and we got to deliver an Easter lunch to a part of our family who is really missing Jane’s family and all the other warm social interactions of Africa


Saturday, March 26, 2005

promptings' potpourri

Shoe stylings for Martha - to cover up that nasty tattler on her ankle.

From shoe maven extraordinaire - The Happy Homemaker

*******
Today is the birthday of Robert Frost

THE OBJECTION TO BEING STEPPED ON

At the end of the row
I stepped on the toe
Of an unemployed hoe.
It rose in offense
And struck me a blow
In the seat of my sense.
It wasn’t to blame
But I called it a name.
And I must say it dealt
Me a blow that I felt
Like malice prepense.
You may call me a fool,
But was there a rule
The weapon should be
Turned into a tool?
And what do we see?
The first tool I step on
Turned into a weapon.

–Robert Frost

*************

heavy, heavy, heavy

I woke up this morning in a good mood. I love Saturdays. It’s my change-of-pace day when I tidy the house, do some baking, watch tv (which I rarely watch at other times), maybe garden, tie up loose ends – generally transition from my work week to my rest day.

I made the mistake this morning of, before getting into the rhythm of things, reading blogs. Bad idea on this rainy gray Saturday, which is already a bleak-colored square on the calendar because it’s sandwiched between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Now to add to the weight of weather and the pensive thoughts I should be having, is all the heaviness of blogdom, especially as I take in more sadness and outrage and rhetoric re Terry Schiavo.

But I refuse to stay there. I’m going to shake off this dark cape and enjoy this day. I’m going to ignore the weather, because I am in a cozy, bright, dry space, and have the wherewithal to make it even cosier and fragrant too with the smell of more brownies or seven-layer squares, or whatever.

I’m going to leave all my questions and heaviness of spirit about Terry Schiavo and what’s happened and is happening to her, with the only One who can, in the end, do anything about it – God, the judge who will do right (Acts 17:31)

I am going to remember that even though the disciples spent the hours between Jesus’ burial and resurrection in despair and confusion – I know better!

Friday, March 25, 2005

black hole

"About noon darkness fell across the entire land..." Mark 15:33

Forbidden fruit’s magnetic lure
crimson Jealousy, Murder
consuming Lust
that bangs down doors.

Fear, Conniving
Lies – "She is my sister."
Complaints, Grumbling, Muttering
Demands: "We want a king."
Whining, Rebellion: "Who made you king?"
Gagging, Tormenting
Killing truth-sayers.

Disease – rotting limbs
glazed eyes, fever
paralysis.
Demonized, rage-filled shrieks
Schemes, Betrayal, Mockery
Curses, Spitting
"If you’re so wonderful
come down from the cross."

All vortexed that afternoon
in thick, heavy Evil.
Oppression.
Tear-your-hair-out Despair.
Darkness. Sin’s sum total
sucked into a black hole...

"It is finished!"

--VNesdoly 2003

Thursday, March 24, 2005

promptings' potpourri

Go here to read this week’s Christian Carnival – 51 ‘stalls, tents and kiosks’ to explore.

Here are two I read before the carnival was posted -- highly recommended:

From Rebecca Writes – "Under Our Authority" – the first in several posts where she will delve into "issues surrounding drilling for oil in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge." In this post she explains what she believes to be "humankind’s rightful relation to the earth and its resources..."

From Wittenberg Gate – "They're Asking the Wrong Questions" a post about Terri Schaivo where Dory explores the difference between removing life support from someone who is dying versus removing life support because of expected poor quality of life. An excerpt:

Terri's situation is important, not only because of her precious life, but also because her case takes our country a step over an important line. That is the line between avoiding fruitless efforts to save a dying person and withdrawing efforts to sustain a person who is not dying, on the basis of our assessment of his or her "quality of life."
Read more...


Away from the Carnival and onto quieter streets,

Catez at Allthings2all has written "Report from a Crucifixion" – a parody where a modern reporter interviews experts and eye witnesses – clever and thought-provoking.

Novelist, blogger and poet Claudia (Ragamuffin Diva) has just had a poem posted in one of my favorite poetry haunts – the Gallery at Utmost Christian Writers. Read "Hush Song."

I am happy because I got myself back on the mailing list of "The Writer’s Almanac." Check it out! Every morning you get an emailed transcript of what Garrison Keillor reads on Minneapolis Public Radio, plus a link to listen to it live. Each day’s entry includes things like important literary events, birthdays of people prominent in the arts, AND a poem– great everday soul-fare.

Finally, play the Longevity game. (I’m good to 93!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

a red river of clean

(A little intro: Some mornings, I don’t know what I’ll post on my blog. I’ve learned that that’s okay, though, because usually by the time I’m ready for that part of my day, I do know. Today was such a morning.

Last night I opened my copy of The Book of Common Prayer 1962 Canada to see what it suggests for Easter week. There I found lengthy readings for each day. This morning when I read Wednesday’s ‘Epistle,’ these words jumped out at me: "And according to the law, almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

That verse reminded me of a kids’ article I wrote on this very subject a few years ago. I’m posting the article, below. Just know that the reason the tone and language are simple is because it’s written for kids.)


A Red River of Clean

It is always moving. It carries food to every cell in your body. It also carries the hormones and other chemicals you need to survive. It helps your body keep warm or cool. It is like a medical clinic inside you, working to heal and repair any part that is injured or ill. Without it you would be dead in minutes.

Have you guessed what it is? It’s your blood.

Another thing blood does for you is clean your body. If you’ve ever tried to scrub a stubborn blood stain out of clothes, you may find it hard to believe that blood can clean anything. But one of its main jobs is to help your body get rid of impurities.

Your blood helps clean out wastes made inside you. Blood flows through tubes called arteries to cells all through your body. It carries water, food and oxygen. The cells take the nourishment. They exchange it for waste. The dirty blood flows away through veins back to your heart and then to your lungs. In your lungs, the waste –– carbon dioxide –– leaves your body through your nose. At the same time your red blood cells pick up more oxygen for their next trip around the body.

Your blood also cleans outside invaders from inside you. Tiny bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites get into you through your nose, mouth or injured skin. White blood cells protect you from these killers. Though white cells make up only a tiny part of your blood (1%), you need them to live. Their main job is to recognize an invader, attach itself to it, swallow it and destroy it.

Some white cells also have a kind of memory. When they recognize a bacteria or virus that has been in your body before, they tell just the right white cells to make and release huge quantities of killer poison (antibodies). The enemy is quickly destroyed and the wastes of this war are carried in the blood to your kidneys. Your kidneys filter grunge from about 1800 liters of blood in a day.

Long before people found out how blood cleans our bodies, God told John to write about another kind of blood that cleans, "...the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7 Simplified Living Bible).

How does Jesus’ blood clean us?

Before Jesus came to earth, God’s people followed the Old Testament laws. These laws told them what they should and shouldn’t do. Breaking these laws was sin. When people sinned, they had to make a sacrifice. The laws also told what sacrifices to make, when, and how. If the people sacrificed an animal –– a sheep, goat or dove –– it had to be perfect. The killing of an animal and the shedding of its blood showed the people God took sin so seriously, the punishment for it was death.

Then Jesus came. After He lived a perfect life, He offered Himself as the sacrifice (the perfect lamb) that God demanded for sin. Because He never sinned, it wasn’t His sin He paid for, but ours. When we put our faith in His death, the pouring out of His blood as the offering for our sin, God sees us as sinless and clean. Jesus’ death for our sin is what we remember on Good Friday.

Then He rose from the dead! His victory over death is what we celebrate at Easter.

In spite of how cleverly God has made us, some day our physical blood will fail because of disease, accident or old age. But the cleaning power of Jesus’ blood lasts forever. If we have let His blood clean us, we can look forward to the day when we stand before God in our shining, white, blood-cleaned robes. (Check it out –– Revelation 7:14.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

christian carnival 62

The train has chugged to a stop at the fairground. They’ve unloaded the elephants and are starting to hoist the tents. You have just a few more hours to choose and submit your favorite post of the week for this week’s Christian Carnival (http://nuttz.org) .

Send the following:

The name and URL of your blog.

the title and URL of your post.

A short (one- or two-sentence) description of your post.

to this email.

Deadline - Tuesday midnight EST. (Earlier is better for the host.)

More info here.

psalm 29

This morning I read Psalm 29. I’ve read it many times, but today it hit me in a new way – as a poem. (That’s one thing my last few years’ enthusiasm for poetry has done–given me an appreciation for the poetry of the Bible.)

Today, as I’m reading this, I’m thinking - ‘Why is this so effective? Why is it working so well?’

And then it hits me. It’s all the repetitions. David picks up words or phrases from one line, repeating them in the next. It’s like a Bach fugue or invention, where motifs keep recurring. It’s like the pantoum form of poetry, where lines repeat and you feel in some subconscious way mesmerized or drawn in, though you aren’t sure why,

So I’m going to do something fun (for me anyway). I’m going to expose the cleverness of David’s psalm by doing a little slice and dice. The psalm (NIV version – and I’m thinking if it’s this effective in translation, what must it be like in the Hebrew!), below, has the repetitions highlighted in different colors. (Hope this doesn’t have the opposite effect, and spoil it for you forever).

***********

Psalm 29 - A Psalm of David

Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones.
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes
with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, "Glory!"

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
The Lord gives strength to his people
the Lord blesses his people with peace.

***********

Surprising ending too. After all that frightful thunder, wind and shaking – peace.

(Have I missed any? I intentionally left out some of the obvious repeaters - 'like' 'his' etc.)

Monday, March 21, 2005

a bible minute

Today my Bible reading took me to Psalm 27.

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple." (verse 4)

But isn’t Sunday the day for being ‘in the house of the Lord’? Yet David’s idea here captures my imagination. I see an inner chapel, where I can go to be with God any day of the week, any time of the day.

The closest experience to describe this, as I imagine it, is when you’ve just fallen in love, and in your mind, you can’t stay out of the room of that thought. No matter what happens – whether you lock yourself out of your car, or burn the rice, or get sick, or whatever– you can slip back into that room and bask in the knowledge of your beloved’s love. It anchors your day. It paints everything in light. In spite of everything, you breathe the air of joy.

God, please remind me to go to my heart’s chapel often today, to gaze on Your beauty and to remind myself of our love. I’m wondering, would it even be possible to permanently move into that room?

happy second day of spring!



Spring Isn't

Spring isn't pallid snowdrops
shyly coil'd in chilly Feb.
It isn't jewel primulas
or burgeoning rhodo's red.

Not hyacinths poking through dirt
or blossom bursts of plum,
not heather clumps abuzz once more
with bees that float and hum.

Not tulips or camellias
unfurling on the scene,
nor lilacs or forsythia
soon giving way to green.

But in the vernal equinox
'midst sprouting oats and flaxes
it's bureaucrats whose grasping hands
insist I spring for taxes.

--V.Nesdoly 2004

(This ditty won the author a packet of flower seeds (!) in Inscribe's Short and Silly Contest, Spring 2004.)

Now for some real spring poems, go here and here.

Hat-tip: Wittingshire

prayer thots - March 15-21

  • March 21

Intercession is not an escape from reality. Our communication with God must be rooted in the truth–the eternal truth of His holy standards and the awful truth about American society as God sees it. The intercessor experiences the broken heart of God through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The intercessor also identifies with the sin of the people, because the intercessor has personally contributed to God’s grief.

-John Dawson (Healing America’s Wounds, 1994)

  • March 20

Getting to prayer is half the battle. Staying there is the other half. Either we fall asleep, or our mind wanders, or we get disenchanted. We don't see ready answer to our petitions, so we give up. But like any other wise investment, prayer requires the discipline of delayed gratification. The fact that Jesus knew all about the temptation to quit is evident by how He urged His disiples to "always pray and not give up....Will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night?" (Luke 18:1,7)

-- Randall D. Roth ("Introduction"-Prayer Powerpoints, 1995)

  • March 19

But I can’t be the only one who lies
awake nights like this.
Like lines of magnetic force
caressing the world I imagine prayers
emanating from the faithful,
wrapping the world up like string
wound around the core of a baseball [...]

Faster than the internet they go
not at the speed of light
but at the speed of love

-- Donna Farley ("The Geography of Prayer," 1999)

  • March 18

When prayer seems to be unanswered, beware of trying to fix the blame on someone else. That is always a snare of Satan. You will find there is a reason which is a deep instruction to you, not to anyone else....We are not here to prove God answers prayer; we are here to be living monuments of God's grace.

-- Oswald Chambers (My Utmost For His Highest, 1961)

  • March 17

God's Power to guide me
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many...

-- St. Patrick


  • March 16

Many of us have discovered that true prayer begins where we can begin to say with Jesus, 'Not my will but Thine be done.' That should not mean mere resignation to fate, it should mean cooperation with the will of God.

-- Sam Shoemaker (Extraordinary Living for Ordinary Men, 1965)

  • March 15

We are besieged by words in our society. Billboards blaze them into our minds as we go by. Headlines scream from the newspapers. Regular prayer builds into our lives those experiences of silence and concentration when the still, small voice of our Saviour can cut through life's howl and speak His words of peace and joy.

-- David Hubbard (The Problem With Prayer Is, 1972)

**************

Visit Rebecca Writes and The Upward Call for more on prayer.

    Sunday, March 20, 2005

    career move

    Crowds come, he speaks, we cast out spirits, heal.
    As a career move I could have done worse.
    Mobility is upward here, I feel
    for I'm the one he chose to keep the purse.
    But he attracts the common, sick and poor,
    his teachings contradict, they don't make sense:
    First shall be last? Great riches won't endure?
    Expose hypocrisy, unveil pretense?
    Patience, I say, in time he will be king;
    at lunch she pours rich perfume on his head.
    He calls it good and not a wasteful thing:
    "It's a memorial; soon I will be dead."
    I erred. No future here, inner voice chides,
    but—other ladders lean on other sides...

    V. Nesdoly © 2004

    Saturday, March 19, 2005

    cheesecake marbled brownies

    2/3 cup all-purpose flour
    ½ tsp. baking powder
    ¼ tsp. salt
    ½ cup butter or margarine
    ½ cup cocoa
    1 cup sugar
    2 large eggs
    ¾ tsp. vanilla


    cream cheese filling

    1 - 250 gram pkg. cream cheese, softened
    1/3 cup sugar
    1 large egg
    ½ tsp. vanilla

    For cream cheese filling, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.

    In bowl mix together flour, baking powder and salt.

    Melt butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in cocoa. Blend in sugar, eggs and vanilla.

    Blend in dry ingredients.

    Pour half the batter into a greased 9-inch (square) baking pan. Spread cream cheese filling on top. Spoon remaining chocolate batter over filling. Pull a knife through both batters to create a marbled effect.

    Bake at 350 F for 40-45 minutes or until done. Cool completely, then cut into squares.

    Friday, March 18, 2005

    more irish

    Your Irish Name Is...



    Duvessa O'Farrell

    books by beverly lewis

    I just finished reading The Covenant and The Betrayal, Books 1 and 2 in Beverly Lewis’s ‘Abram’s Daughters’ series. They are the story of an Amish family from Lancaster County Pennsylvania.

    I don’t know that I would have chosen to read these books without the urging of a friend but I found them a pleasant surprise. I was drawn imperceptibly to the characters so that by the end, I really cared about what happened to these people. (I was reminded of the Hutterites who we used to see shopping in Saskatoon when I was a kid, conspicuous in their long dark print dresses, aprons and shawls, and the men in their checked shirts, suspenders and hats.)

    The sheltered Amish setting is a backdrop of such innocence and apparent naivete I was taken off guard when the story wandered, from predictable coming-of-age themes (relationship to parents, falling in love, making parental faith one's own) into some pretty serious issues (unwed motherhood, family secrets, betrayal, authoritarian church leadership to name a few).

    I’m not sure who the intended audience for these books is. The ages of the main characters would suggest teens. But I don't think the teens I know would have patience for the slow-moving, simple life portrayed, or the quaint Amish speechisms - "Purty," "ain’t so?" "wonderful-gut" etc.) although they do make the characters seem plenty authentic.

    The story is well told, especially toward the end of Book 2, when it got to be a bit of a page-turner. The series continues with Book 3 - The Sacrifice, Book 4 - The Prodigal both published in 2004, and Book 5 - The Revelation is due out in June this year.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    pleasant boundary lines

    Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup: you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. (from Psalm 16)

    I read these words this morning on the heels of a family birthday celebration last night, and they bring to mind a conversation I had there with my cousin – we’ll call her ‘A.’

    Her youngest son is the same age as mine so we have been on a similar time-line re: loosening apron strings and contemplating having more free time.

    "When I thought about life after raising my kids," A. said, "I imagined a peaceful quiet job – clerking in a bookstore maybe, or a flowershop.

    "Then one day when I was working in my garden, I felt a presence almost as real as if someone had tapped me on the shoulder. And I had a thought as clear as a voice: ‘You will be looking after that boy.’"

    ‘That boy’ was very disturbed youngster (about eight, I think she said), who was being cared for by the pastor of their church. He focused only on death, killing, blood, violence. If he had pets, like a cat or a frog, his thought was how he would kill them.

    ‘Where did that crazy thought come from?’ was A’s first reaction.

    But the next day the same thought came to her with such clarity, she said, "Okay God, if this is really You, have the pastor talk to me about it."

    Within hours the pastor (who hadn’t called them personally for months) telephoned, asking would they consider taking that boy into their home and working with him.

    "I’ve already been asked," A. said, and told him the whole story.

    So A. and her husband Y. took this boy into their home. He got saved and over time his life turned around. Social Services (who were involved) were very impressed. (I asked her about sharing one’s faith with kids under Ministry [of Children and Families] care. Apparently you can do stuff like take them to church etc. if the child’s parents give consent.)

    After this little guy moved on, Social Services asked, would A. and Y. be willing to take in other disturbed kids, as their files were full of them.

    So now they have two other foster boys. One fellow, 12, has Marfan’s Syndrome. Through him A. and Y. have come to know his dysfunctional family, whose history is riddled with sickness, depression, drug and alcohol dependencies, gang involvement and lots of untimely deaths.

    A. felt God wanted her to laser in on the 18-year-old brother of her foster boy. She invited him to church, gave him a Bible, and witnessed to him at every opportunity. He seemed interested and hungry. At the same time he was caught in the grip of involvement with the Hell’s Angels. Last Christmas he committed suicide.

    All involved were stunned. A. spent a lot of time, agonizing before God over this. One day when she was praying this way, she sensed God say to her, Why do you think I drew your attention to him? Why did I have you take him to church, witness to him and give him a Bible (which he read)? Don’t worry; he’s okay.

    A. and Y. now have a hugely busy life. Besides the two foster kids, they also have a couple of kids still living at home (which is a double-wide trailer), and five under-school-age grandkids, many nearby. "But I wouldn’t trade it for anything," A. told me. "It’s not us changing these kids – it’s God."

    ********

    As I listened to A’s stories, my first thought was Yikes, why aren’t such things happening to me? Have I missed my calling?

    Then I heard what God has said to me before: Did I ask you to do that?

    My answer: No.

    My belief remains as strong as ever that God’s will for most of us usually means staying right where we are and continuing to do the stuff we’re doing right now.

    At the moment I am working on a second book of children’s devotions. I started this project about two years ago, after praying for a book idea (up to that time I’d only written articles and stories).

    My plans grew from making it a book of only a few devotions, to one for each day of the year plus February 29th = 366. The sheer scope of it discouraged me, however–my vision was to take kids through the whole Bible, extracting lessons from the Bible texts. Finally I completed one third of it (122 devotions) in the spring of last year. It goes through the New Testament.

    I’ve since been trying to market that manuscript, taking sections of it with me to a writer’s conference last spring, and sending it to The Writer’s Edge last summer. The Writer’s Edge has deemed it publishable, but to this point, I’ve had no takers. Thus in January, I began sending it to various publishing companies – it’s presently sitting at five.

    Since completing that part of the project, I’ve been restless. I delayed doing more work on it, though, waiting for a response on the first part. But I found it was hard to go back to doing just small things after doing book-length. A few weeks ago, I was whining to God about this – as I’d done before – and asking him for the fire in my belly to start something book-length and new. Then I heard this: You already have a project. You just need to finish it.

    So now, even though I’m going about it all wrong (conventional wisdom says I should have queried book publishers until I found someone interested in taking a look at the finished project, and then written it up) and am still often tempted to wonder whether this is really how I should spend my days, all I need to do is recall my little interchange with God and observe the quiet writing afternoons I’ve been given, to know, A. is supposed to be running after those difficult pre-teens right now - not me. I’m supposed to be writing this book. (And to think God’s will actually allows me to do something I enjoy!)

    Which brings me back to the verse, with which I started this very long post: "The boundary lines have fallen for me (and A.) in pleasant places. Surely we have a delightful inheritance."

    elusive joy

    There are certain books on my bookshelf which I have made mental ‘notes to myself’ to re-read. That Elusive Thing Called Joy by Calvin Miller is one of those.

    Sunday I began that. Here are a few digs in the ribs from Chapter 1 "Happiness-Mind Over Mood":

    Perhaps it is correct to say that happiness is the result of discipline.[...]

    Neglect is the opposite of discipline.[...]

    Three things I do every morning that my life may possess happiness all day long.The first is to affirm the reality of Jesus Christ and thank Him for His lordship. The second thing is to call to mind the reality of Satan, who will seek throughout the day to make me a miserable contradiction of joy. The third thing I do, is to call to mind the gifts that are mine in Christ. If I live each
    day faithful to my gifts, developing and improving them, I find I am indeed a happy person. If I am sloppy and careless in developing my gifts, I find a predictable negativity fixing itself into my day.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    out of the wilderness

    This week's "Out of the Wilderness" showcase features Lady4Jesus, my three pennies worth and me... (see graphic and links in right sidebar)

    Thanks, Nick Queen, for spotlighting new bloggers like this!

    Monday, March 14, 2005

    lost things

    I’ve lost my quilted pink vest. I looked for it half-heartedly a couple of weeks ago but when it wasn’t where it was supposed to be, I grew alarmed and looked thoroughly, then most thoroughly. It’s no where.

    Yesterday I checked the lost and found at church. It wasn’t there either. So now I’ll need to check all the places I’ve been in the last while–because I hate to lose stuff.

    A week ago our 19-year-old son moved away from home. It’s odd, but I have the same feeling about him as I have about that vest. He feels lost to me.

    I know why. He’s not exactly walking the ‘straight and narrow’ at the moment, and though it was worrying to see him slide from one forbidden thing to another when he lived at home, at least I could keep track of him – a little.

    No more. I talked to him once in the past week, and that because I picked up the phone and called his cell.

    I know the feeling of wanting your independence, and I don’t begrudge him that. It’s just the lostness from our influence and the not-knowing what he’s up to now that I think about.

    I have one consolation. My God also hates to lose His things. Our son is His; he gave his heart to Jesus years ago. So last night I read again the stories Jesus told in Luke 15:1-10. And I got the assurance my Jesus won’t rest till all His sheep are safely back in the fold. I know right now He’s after my dear black sheep, for "..this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day." - John 6:39.

    Now do you suppose if I "lit the lamp, swept the house and searched carefully" yet again, my pink vest would be found as well?

    prayer thots - March 8-14

    Continuing on with this month's focus on prayer. Don't forget to visit Rebecca Writes, and The Upward Call for more on prayer.

    • March 14

    Learn to plead the promises of God.

    --Armin Gesswein (from a message given in 1989)

    • March 13

    As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of days took His seat.

    His clothing was as white as snow;
    the hair of His head was white like wool.
    His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.

    A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before Him.
    Thousands upon thousands attended Him;
    ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.
    The court was seated and the books were opened.

    In my vision at night I looked
    and there before me was one like a Son of Man,
    coming with the clouds of heaven.

    He approached the Ancient of Days
    and was led into His presence.
    He was given authority, glory and sovereign power;
    all peoples, nations and men of every language
    worshiped Him.His dominion is an everlasting dominion
    that will not pass away,
    and His kingdom is one
    that will never be destroyed.

    --Daniel 7:9-10,13,14



    • March 12

    Beloved I pray...that you may be in health (3 John 2)
    God has no vested interests in sickness and infirmity. We may say that it is His general desire as it was the apostle’s for his friend Gaius, that His people should be in health. Exceptions to this do not negative the general rule. If this were not the case, He would never have equipped the human body with its own wonderful healing powers of His Church with a healing ministry.

    --Arthur Wallis (God’s Chosen Fast, 1986)

    • March 11

    We have so many battles going on in America (and Canada) today that we should be a people of prayer. Our government needs prayer. Our leaders need prayer. Our schools need prayer. Our youth need prayer. Our families need prayer.

    --Billy Graham (Hope for the Troubled Heart, 1991)

    • March 10

    The most promising method of prayer is to allow oneself to be guided by the word of the Scriptures, to pray on the basis of a word of Scripture. In this way we shall not become the victims of our own emptiness.

    -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Life Together, 1954)

    • March 9

    When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops reading the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.

    -- Corrie Ten Boom (Each New Day, 1977)

    • March 8

    Today a prayer of blessing on my son, who left home yesterday, and all our young-adult kids who are starting out:

    May the Lord answer you when you are in distress:
    may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
    May he send you help from the sanctuary
    and grant you support from Zion.
    May he give you the desire of your heart
    and make all your plans succeed.
    We will shout for joy when you are victorious
    and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
    May the Lord grant all your requests.

    -- David (Psalm 20: 1,2, 4,5 - NIV)

    Sunday, March 13, 2005

    pruning

    Some years ago my sister-in-law sent me this poem. I found it in the files I cleaned out last week.

    "Let me share a favorite poem of mine by George Herbert, sometimes referred to as the Lenten Poet." she said, in the accompanying note. "I call this the Pruning Poem for it depicts God as a good gardener.

    "‘The circumstances of Herbert’s life (1593-1633) were not distressing in any dramatic sense and yet so much of his poetry is about affliction, this because it records the struggles of his inner life as he grows in saintliness and wrestles with God in order to do so.*’"

    *Source of quote unknown.


    Paradise


    I Bless thee, Lord, because I GROW
    Among thy trees, which in a ROW
    To thee both fruit and order OW.

    What open force, or hidden CHARM
    Can blast my fruit, or bring me HARM,
    While the inclosure is thine ARM.

    Inclose me still for fear I START.
    Be to me rather sharp and TART,
    Then let me want thy hand and ART.

    When thou dost greater judgments SPARE,
    And with thy knife but prune and PARE,
    Ev’n fruitfull trees more fruitful ARE.

    Such sharpnes shows the sweetest FREND:
    Such cuttings rather heal then REND:
    And such beginnings touch their END.

    --George Herbert


    To read more of George Herbert, snag this page, which links to a complete poem index of "The Temple" as well as prose he has written.

    Saturday, March 12, 2005

    more than the doldrums

    If there is one sickness I do not want, it’s depression. I’ve never come close to having a diagnosis of clinical depression, but even a slight case of the doldrums makes me sure, I don’t want to go there.

    A couple of recent blog posts have helped me understand how malignant and virile this disease can be. Amy Loves Books tells the story (starts on March 2nd) of her bout with postpartum depression. Here’s an excerpt:


    Writing about going crazy is difficult, because there is no answer that can explain what happened. People who love me have said it was Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I've had it pointed out that the extreme version of Postpartum psychosis has wreaked its genetic damage on an unspoken branch of my family tree. I know that, aside from a few periods of depression in my late teens and early twenties, I considered myself emotionally strong. Now, I visualize that, somewhere inside of me, there is a bite from a poisoned apple. I don't know how it got there, and I don't think it will ever really go away. I have the potential to get very sick. I can never be sure it won't happen again.

    Hat-tip: faith*in*fiction


    ...in the outer... also talks openly of his battle with depression. In his post "Looks like I'm Not the Only One Who is Depressed..." he links to some of his earlier posts about it. In "Depression and Spiritual Healing" he lists some things he’s found helpful in battling it.

    Friday, March 11, 2005

    first gardening of 2005

    I have finished my first few hours of gardening for 2005. (But I just wrote this! So how is it possible?)

    Everything has been greening up noticeably lately, though. My lilac has leafed out in the last few days, and the hydrangeas and roses are also sprouting at the ends of lanky branches. (‘Were,’ actually. We remedied that. I sent hubby out to trim them earlier this week. He’s the king of pruning and made sure everything prunable is now starting over!)

    I was going to put it off a few more days to weeks. But today on our visit with Mom, she implored me to take her primulas. I’d bought them to brighten her house a few weeks ago. Apparently because she’s had to keep them inside a lot of time (they are an outdoor plant, but she can’t garden and her patio becomes an oven in the sun), they’ve spawned a multitude of fruit flies.

    So after I’d cleaned the house, I decided to spend a little time outdoors. There was disgustingly much left over from last fall... hanging baskets to clean out, leaves to rake, last year’s mums to cut down – that sort of thing. Finally I got to digging/weeding. Kept stubbing my fork on dahlia corms. I dug one hefty tuber complex out today – lots of them are rotten but there are so many, I’m sure they would have lived. I left the back row.

    (That’s another thing on which I cut corners. I used to dig out my dahlia tubers each fall, salt them with fungicide and store them in vermiculite in the crawlspace. Then one fall I wasn’t sure I wanted them again next year, so decided to leave it to fate. I left the tubers in the ground, thinking if they survived the winter, fine, if they didn’t I’d plant something else. They did. In fact, they’ve survived every winter since then...)

    With the soil turned and weeded (sort of), I planted the batch of primulas from Mom, now companions to the grape hyacinths, tulip greens and other primulas which are already live in my back garden.

    One rule I have for this kind of early gardening, though. It’s mostly for me. I don’t fuss much with the front yard, visible from the street. I figure if the gardening routine has to start this early, at the very least, I’ll reap the rewards of my work. It’s all about me being able to keep tabs on spring from the kitchen window where I stand to wash dishes and bake all those wedding squares!

    prayer in public life

    More and more prayer in public life has become ‘sanitized.’ Our society has become increasingly pluralistic and in line with that and the desire of our leaders to hold to the great Canadian value-- tolerance (in appearance at least), public prayers in Canada have become pretty generic. Prayers are still offered at public functions like the openings of parliament and the legislature, public memorial services, Remembrance Day ceremonies etc. But could it be they are more of a generic sop to the religious than a genuine attempt to communicate with deity?

    Here, however, is a public prayer that was not like that. In 1996 Rev. Joe Wright of Wichita Kansas was asked to offer the opening prayer at the Kansas House of Representatives. Here is the text of his prayer:


    Heavenly Father, we come before you to ask your forgiveness. We seek your direction and your guidance. We know your word says, "Woe to those who call evil good." But that's what we've done.

    We've lost our spiritual equilibrium. We have inverted our values. We have ridiculed the absolute truth of your word in the name of moral pluralism. We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism.

    We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.

    We've exploited the poor and called it a lottery.

    We've neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.

    We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

    In the name of choice, we have killed our unborn. In the name of right to life, we have killed abortionists.

    We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.

    We have abused power and called it political savvy.

    We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it taxes.

    We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

    We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

    Search us, oh, God, and know our hearts today. Try us. Show us any wickedness within us. Cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of the State of Kansas, and that they have been ordained by you to govern this great state.

    Grant them your wisdom to rule. May their decisions direct us to the center of your will. And, as we continue our prayer and as we come in out of the fog, give us clear minds to accomplish our goals as we begin this Legislature. For we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.


    The prayer wasn’t original with him but was a version of a prayer written by Bob Russell who offered it at the Kentucky Governor’s Prayer Breakfast in Frankfort Kentucky in 1995.

    There was fallout with hot rhetoric on both sides.

    Later columnist Terry Mattingly explained it this way:

    The easy answer is that he read a prayer about sin. The complicated answer is that Wright jumped into America’s tense debate about whether some things are always right and some things are always wrong.

    Some people get upset when politics intrude into religion; other are irritated when religion intrudes into politics. As in war, the ‘intruder’ is always the guy on the other side."

    (A version of this prayer has been circulating as an email. I've checked out the story here.)

    Thursday, March 10, 2005

    praying the theophanies

    Kim’s post yesterday on praying Hannah’s prayer got me thinking about a wonderful book I own and often use. The Book of Prayers was put together by Wes and Stacey Campbell and is a collection of prayers directly from scripture divided into eight sections (Theophanies, Psalms, Prayers of Wisdom, Song of Songs, Prayers of the Prophets, Prayers of Jesus, Apostolic Prayers and Hymns of the Revelation). Each section is prefaced by a short introduction which explains the prayer style.


    Praying the theophanies was a new idea to me. Wes Campbell’s introduction to this section of prayers convinced me it was a great idea. Here is a chunk of that introduction, quoted from pages 39 - 41 of the book.:


    "What are the ‘theophanies’ and why begin The Book of Prayers with these selections of Scripture? These two questions must be answered at the outset as they greatly affect the way we pray. The Bible commands us to pray, to meditate, and to recitethe law to God. Of course, people of every religion pray, and they all think they are praying to God. But who is right? Which God is the true God? Where is he? What is he like? What is he doing? These are questions that any worshiper will consider when they set aside time to talk to God.


    "Often when speaking on the topic of prayer, I ask a congregation to stand up so that I can give them a test. The question I give them is this: “If you know the location of at least four of the many God sightings in the Bible, and you can generally recount what the prophet saw...then stay standing.” At first people begin to look around, dumbfounded. Then slowly, with sheepish sideways glances, almost everyone begins to sit down. Rarely is there even three percent of the audience left standing. Almost no one is in the regular practice of praying the theophanies – that is ‘God sightings.’


    "It’s hard to overstate the seriousness of this spiritual omission. For instance, imagine if seven of the most holy, prophetically inspired men and women of all Christendom made a pilgrimage to a mountain, where they fasted and prayed for a week for a breakthrough with God. Imagine that God actually came down in a full-blown, visible display of his glory. Imagine that these seven were overwhelmed and laid low in the awesome presence of God. Then, as soon as they were able, they came down and declared that they had seen God with their eyes and that they would be gathering at a specific time and place to tell about it. Who wouldn’t want to be there? Who wouldn’t want to read a detailed account?

    "Yet we have the greatest holy men of history – men like Moses (Exodus 24 & 34), Isaiah (Isaiah 6), Daniel (Daniel 7&10), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1&10) Peter (Matthew 17), and John (Revelation 1, 4, 19, 21) – all of whom say they saw God (or the glorified Christ) with their eyes and wrote down what they saw. How absurd is it, then, for believers who have given their whole lives to love and serve God, who say they believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of these accounts, not even to know where they are found, much less to be able to recite them in their minds and spirits.

    "The word ‘theophanies’ comes from two Greek words: theos, meaning ‘God,’ and ‘phaino,’ meaning ‘to appear or show’; hence the ‘God appearances.’ It is the details of these ‘God sightings’ that let us in on what God looks like and, to some extent, on what God is doing. They describe, at different times, where he lives, who is around him, the color of his hair and eyes, what he is wearing, the many sounds of his voice etc. As such they should become our starting point in prayer because, unless we are praying to God as he has revealed himself to be, we are not really praying in the Christian sense of the word....

    Therefore when you pray the theophanies, you will see just who it is that you are talking to. You will become familiar with the sights and sounds of heaven. You will have confidence that your prayers are not only being heard but that you are addressing the one Person who has all power in heaven and on earth to answer them....

    "When we pray the theophanies we begin to touch his power, to hear that loud voice like many waters, to tremble in the presence of the thunders and the lightning bolts. Any person who does not at some time pray the theophanies will likely limit God. To them, God may become smaller than he really is, because the person will be praying to God as they understand him to be, not as he has revealed himself to be. After all, God is who he says he is – not who we think he is! So it is essential to begin all prayer by praying to the Person of God, and praying the theophanies will keep us from praying to an extension of our own darkened minds."

    Wednesday, March 09, 2005

    obsolete a long time

    a vegetable garden
    You are 'growing one's own food'.

    You are guided by two words: 'Live simply.' You
    value quality over quantity in most things, and
    you have little use for the materialism and
    consumerism of modern culture. You know the
    value of hard work and try to be
    self-sufficient as much as possible, and what
    you do you do well. Unfortunately, no man is
    an island, and you cannot do everything
    yourself. Your puritanical work ethic makes
    makes people think that you are weird, and not
    much fun. Your problem is that growing one's
    own food has been obsolete for a long time.



    What obsolete skill are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Hat Tip: The Happy Homemaker

    christian carnival is up!

    Part one of the 60th Christian Carnival is up at Belief Seeking Understanding. (More to come).

    modern plumb lines

    Eugene Peterson’s interview, "Spirituality for All the Wrong Reasons" has received more than a little attention since it appeared in the March 2005 issue of Christianity Today (interviewed by Mark Galli). My husband emailed it to me on Saturday night, and after reading a few lines I knew it was a keeper. I printed a copy and immediately defaced it thoroughly with yellow highlights.

    Here are some parts which particularly resonated with me:


    [...] CT: Many people assume that spirituality is about becoming emotionally intimate with God.

    Peterson: That's a naïve view of spirituality. What we're talking about is the Christian life. It's following Jesus. Spirituality is no different from what we've been doing for two thousand years just by going to church and receiving the sacraments, being baptized, learning to pray, and reading Scriptures rightly. It's just ordinary stuff.

    This promise of intimacy is both right and wrong. There is an intimacy with God, but it's like any other intimacy; it's part of the fabric of your life. In marriage you don't feel intimate most of the time. Nor with a friend. Intimacy isn't primarily a mystical emotion. It's a way of life, a life of openness, honesty, a certain transparency.

    [...] CT: You make spirituality sound so mundane.

    Peterson: I don't want to suggest that those of us who are following Jesus don't have any fun, that there's no joy, no exuberance, no ecstasy. They're just not what the consumer thinks they are. When we advertise the gospel in terms of the world's values, we lie to people. We lie to them, because this is a new life. It involves following Jesus. It involves the Cross. It involves death, an acceptable sacrifice. We give up our lives.

    The Gospel of Mark is so graphic this way. The first half of the Gospel is Jesus showing people how to live. He's healing everybody. Then right in the middle, he shifts. He starts showing people how to die: "Now that you've got a life, I'm going to show you how to give it up." That's the whole spiritual life. It's learning how to die. And as you learn how to die, you start losing all your illusions, and you start being capable now of true intimacy and love.

    It involves a kind of learned passivity, so that our primary mode of relationship is receiving, submitting, instead of giving and getting and doing. We don't do that very well. We're trained to be assertive, to get, to apply, or to consume and to perform.

    Repentance, dying to self, submission—these are not very attractive hooks to draw people into the faith.I think the minute you put the issue that way you're in trouble. Because then we join the consumer world, and everything then becomes product designed to give you something. We don't need something more. We don't need something better. We're after life. We're learning how to live.

    "Learning how to die...losing all your illusions....learned passivity, receiving, submitting....repentance, dying to self, submission..." These remind me of Oswald Chambers, A. W. Tozer -- and a blog I read.

    As I See It Now gives me daily food for thought, often along these lines. (It’s also a visual treat.)

    "Then the Lord said, ‘Look I am setting a plumb line among my people...’" (Amos 7:8)

    Thank God for modern plumb lines like A.W. Tozer, Oswald Chambers, Eugene Peterson, many others--and Debra.

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

    and life moves on

    Our 19-year-old son moved out yesterday.

    It was sudden, and yet it wasn’t. He’s been spending less and less time at home, so that sometimes if felt as if he really didn't live here anyway. Then he talked last week of moving into a house in Fort Langley with a bunch of Trinity Western students.

    This afternoon he came home, after spending the weekend away, with his buddy in a pickup right on his bumper. They loaded up his bags and bags of Valu-Village clothes, his drum kit, his mattress, his dresser, his TV, game system and DVD player into the car and truck and away they went. He's planning to live in a tent in the basement of the boys’ house. He's happy. Am I?

    My feelings are mixed. On one hand I feel sad. It reminds me of all the other severings I’ve had from him. The first one came at birth. For nine months this person lived inside me. I can’t say I wasn’t relieved after birth, when I had my body to myself again. And yet, in some way I missed the company.

    Many partings followed--weaning from breast feeding, sending him off to school, the first overnight at a friend’s house, two weeks away on a mission trip, a whole summer away when he worked at camp. Now this.

    In another way it feels natural--and inevitable. One wouldn’t want one’s kids hanging around forever, would one (especially a kid like my son–-the king of slobs, if I do say so myself, despite my efforts and nagging to the contrary)? I feel I’ve been prepared for this, and almost holding my breath for it to happen. But now that it has, it does underline again how life moves on. Things will never be quite the same again for our little family.

    But as my friend Jean says: "Nobody should have empty nest syndrome for more than 20 minutes, tops." Twenty minutes is long past, so I guess it's on to her next bit of advice: "It's party time!"

    Monday, March 07, 2005

    gods and kings - by lynn austin

    A package came in the mail a few weeks ago – books from Dave Long at faith*in*fiction. These were a prize of sorts for having the short story (My Messiah) chosen and posted on the faith*in*fiction blog the week after Christmas.

    I’ve decided to post a review of each of these books as I read them. I finished the first one on the weekend. Here, then, is my review of Gods and Kings by Lynn Austin.



    ********************


    Gods and Kings is Book 1 in the biblical fiction series "Chronicles of the King." It begins in the early years of Judah’s King Ahaz, just as Aram is about to lay siege to Jerusalem, and ends with the coronation of King Hezekiah.

    The cast of characters follows the biblical account pretty closely. It includes King Ahaz, his wife Abijah, her father the priest Zechariah, the high priest Uriah, prince Hezekiah. Minor appearances are also made by Hezekiah’s wife Hephzibah, and the prophets Micah and Isaiah. Shebna, Hezekiah’s Egyptian teacher along with many other bit-players, are fictional.

    Several elements worked together to make this book a worthwhile read for me.

    One of them is in the area of plot, and Austin’s interpretation of how godly belief lines are preserved in ancient Israel. Often when reading the stories in Kings and Chronicles, I’ve been struck by how a God-fearing king is followed by one who is idolatrous. I’ve questioned how that could be. The fictionally expanded events of this story illustrate that possibility in a believable way.

    A theme element I really appreciate is the analysis of compromise as shown through the character Uriah (Ahaz’s high priest). Promoted from priest to palace administrator, Uriah starts out with the intention of using his position to influence Ahaz away from idolatry. But a series of forces including his own lust for power, greed, and international pressure serve to make him, at the end, a promoter of idol worship instead of an opponent.

    Finally I feel the book's setting is handled masterfully. This book succeeds in informing me about a different time and place – one of the reasons I enjoy reading historical fiction. The descriptions of the idol worship ceremonies are especially compelling, as is the description of the meeting of King Ahaz with the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser in the captured city of Damascus. Here is some of that section, to give you a flavor of the setting and Austin’s writing style:

    "...they mounted his chariot riding in silence to the ruined city. Ahaz struggled to conceal his shock and horror as he saw evidence of the Assyrian’s atrocities. On either side of the road that led to the main gate, row after row of bodies hung from tall stakes.

    "The emperor would like you to meet the chief elders of Damascus," Jephia said. "They were impaled alive and left to die, watching the destruction of their city."

    Ahaz gazed straight ahead, holding a linen handkerchief over his mouth to keep from vomiting. A sign above the gate read: This is the fate of the enemies of Assyria..... (p. 141)

    [...]Ahaz...followed Jephia to the top of the hill. Not one stone of the former temple remained upon another, and the paved courtyard was bare except for a massive bronze altar standing in the center. Pictures of Assyria’s gods decorated all four sides of it, but the central figure on each panel was the god Assur – a warrior armed with a bow and riding a winged sun.(p. 143)

    [...]At last he walked forward, his knees threatening to buckle beneath him. "I am Ahaz Ben Jotham, king of Judah and Jerusalem – Your majesty’s humble servant and vassal." He fell before the king with his forehead pressed to the ground, as all the other kings had bowed. The dust of Damascus filled his nostrils and throat. When he felt the touch of the royal scepter, he rose again, resisting the urge to wipe the dirt from his forehead and robes. He understood what he was – a pathetic puppet king, sworn to serve the Assyrians for the rest of his life. And if he rebelled or failed to send tribute, his punishment would be the same as the tortured king’s had been. (p. 146)

    If the book has a weakness, I feel it is in the development of character. In several places, the characters’ perceptions seem exaggerated to me – as if the author is putting thoughts in their minds, thus manipulating them to tell the story her way. One instance of this is where Uriah observes the expression on the face of Abijah, his former love interest, and in that look reads whole volumes of meaning: "He (Uriah) glanced at Abijah again and saw the depth of her grief in her unguarded expression. He knew then that her hovering concern for Ahaz was an act, just as his own conduct was. They were both playing parts in this drama....both pretending to be someone they weren’t." (p. 100)

    In other places, the viewpoint character’s observations (the story is told through multiple points-of-view) seem inappropriate. When child (at most young-teen) Hezekiah meets his Egyptian tutor, we discover through his consciousness that "He (the tutor) appeared to be in his early thirties." (p. 182) From my knowledge of tweens, they don’t categorize adults with this specificity, but would say, instead, ‘he looked old.’

    Finally, there is the odd anachronism. One that jumped out at me was when Abijah is observing her father, who has been freed from his thirst for wine, and has the thought, "He was no longer the pitiful alcoholic she’d known ..."(p.190) Somehow ‘alcoholic’ seems way too modern a word to use here.

    Aside from these minor irritants, I found Gods and Kings an engaging and worthwhile read. It left me with the sense of how God was capable of working in the life of a nation, and in the lives of individuals. And Austin left just enough loose ends at the end of the book that I’ll be really tempted to buy Book 2 (Song of Redemption) when it’s due out at the end of May 2005.

    daily thots on prayer - March 1-7

    Rebecca at Rebecca Writes has declared March a month to focus on prayer at her blog. Kim at The Upward Call will also be posting on that subject. I would like to make it a Canadian threesome.

    I own a wonderful book called Prayer Powerpoints - a collection of quotes on prayer. Every day this month, I will post a new quote on prayer from that book.

    • March 7

    Prayer is like any other work; we may not feel like working, but once we have been at it for a bit, we begin to feel like working.

    - Richard Foster (The Celebration of Discipline, 1978)


    • March 6

    Why cannot an omniopotent God, knowing our needs, supply them without waiting for our prayers? He could, of course, but that is not His plan for His children on earth. Instead He has dared to arrange it so that He is actually dependent upon us in the sense of prayers being necessary and all-important to the carrying out of His will on earth.

    - Catherine Marshall (The Helper , 1978)

    • March 5

    I am often praying for others when I should be doing things for them. It's so much easier to pray for a bore than to go and see him.

    -- C. S. Lewis (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, 1963)

    • March 4

    We're under instructions to change the world. Once you have been rescued from it, you'll need power to become a threat to it. The world which contained you in its grasp until now will not release its hold on others without a fight. Power is the key to victory, and prayer is the pathway to power.

    - Jack Hayford (from Prayer is Invading the Impossible)

    • March 3

    "Intercession is truly universal work for the Christian. No place is closed to intercessory prayer. No continent -- no nation--no organization--no city--no office. There is no power on earth that can keep intercession out."

    -Richard Halverson ("Intercessors for America Newsletter," 1986)

    • March 2:

    Get out your atlas and your National Geographic and a good newspaper and start praying for the basic needs of people so much more desperate than most of us. Let your heart be broken for a world in need. Stretch yourself to reach out beyond your own requirements. And make sure that you are ready to help meet needs when God wants to use you. For prayer is never meant to be a substitute for action and action always needs the stabilizing influence of prayer.

    - Bryan Jeffrey Leech (from an unpublished article "The Lord’s Prayer," 1992)

    • March 1:
    It’s so easy to promise to pray for people or just plan to pray for people, and forget. So many afflictions, so many tragedies or desperate hopes that cry out for intercession. Only an instant of my time, only a few minutes, a thought – and who knows? It may be the only word of prayer that person will get."

    – Marjorie Holmes (How Can I Find God?, 1975)

    Sunday, March 06, 2005

    left, right or missing?





    You Are 50% Left Brained, 50% Right Brained



    The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.

    Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.

    If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.

    Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.



    The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.

    Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.

    If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.

    Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.



    i don't want to pray

    "I don't want to pray,"
    slap words sting
    from my four-year-old daughter.
    How have I millstoned God to her
    so she won't bringher earaches to Him?

    I remember, "Are you saved?"
    evangelistic, zealous aunt
    cornered me, seven.
    Next time she visited
    I hid.

    Jesus is different
    His words a compelling beckon
    lure-and-bait questions
    irresistible Pied-Piper-tune stories.

    I see my little girl
    one of that eager wriggling crowd
    pressing too close
    for disciples' comfort.
    His eyes draw her near
    she leans, trusting, against Him
    He lifts her on His knee.
    While He talks
    she watches the way
    His chin moves
    fingers His beard
    catches His eye
    whispers,
    "I have an earache."

    Copyright©2003 by V. Nesdoly

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