Quote of the Day

“…your God is a trinity. There are three necessary prayers and they have three words each. They are these, ‘Lord, have mercy. Thee I adore. Into Thy hands.’ Not difficult to remember. If in times of distress you hold to these, you will do well.”
― Elizabeth Goudge, The Scent of Water

 

leaves

Morning Prayer

Look upon us, O Lord,
and let all the darkness of our souls
vanish before the beams of thy brightness.
Fill us with holy love,
and open to us the treasures of thy wisdom.
All our desire is known unto thee,
therefore perfect what thou hast begun,
and what thy Spirit has awakened us to ask in prayer.
We seek thy face,
turn thy face unto us and show us thy glory.
Then shall our longing be satisfied,
and our peace shall be perfect.
(Augustine, 354 – 430)

Bleak House – A Repost

This post was originally published in July of 2011. It is worth reposting.

 

When the wind blows, the chimes hanging from a tree branch make their music, but nobody is there to hear it.

It’s a house destroyed. Not just the building, but the people who once lived there.

Whatever love was there died, and with it, an entire family.

The house didn’t fall apart over night. It took a long time for the real damage to become evident. No maintenance. No caution and care about keeping things up. Then roof tiles began to blow off, the rain began coming in, and the ceilings collapsed. The wood rotted, the drywall fell off the studs in soggy chunks. No safety and no protection from the elements were left.

There is a piano in the corner that used to make music. It is covered in rotted drywall now. Grandchildren used to like to sit and play it. In the sound of the wind blowing through the broken windows, you sometimes can hear an echo of their laughter as they used to play in the grass and ride their bikes in the driveway and climb the trees. Those voices are long gone.

This is a house that sin killed. Hypocrisy. Lies. Selfishness. Pride. It gradually poisoned everyone who lived here. One little bit at a time.

Innocence died. Tenderness died. Forgiveness died. Faith died. All that’s left are ruins. Others saw the destruction and wondered. How could…? No. There must be some mistake.

Nobody cared enough to help. Nobody could help in the end. Pride was more powerful than anything. Malice was more powerful than anything. Even more powerful than the God they claimed to serve and believe in. They didn’t say that. They just lived it.

So the wind chimes blow aimlessly in the wind. Nobody ever hears them anymore.

Choose Your Legacy – a Repost

The following is a post I wrote three and a half years ago. I feel led to run it again.

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been.'”

~ John Greenleaf Whittier

We don’t get a second chance at life. The life choices we make will affect our families for the rest of their lives. We can die surrounded by our dear ones, knowing that despite our mistakes, we loved them all well, or we can die essentially alone, having lost all that matters in life: the respect and regard of our spouse, children and grandchildren.

It won’t matter to my six children what flaming essays I wrote about the great evangelical disaster, what powerful broadcasts I did on radio against all the ills of the day, or how silver words rolled off my tongue, including Scripture, if at home I did not love them and their father.

The greatest petri dish for atheism and rebellion is not a secular university filled with hatred for God. The best place to create contempt for Christ is a professing Christian home that is actually a lie. No greater disgust can be earned by a parent than to speak of loving God who they can’t see, while mistreating or neglecting the family right in front of them.

We can speak great swelling words about the resurrection power of Christ to heal sexual deviants, abortionists, murderers, and drug addicts, but if that same Christ is not allowed to heal the relationships in our own lives, we make a mockery of our claims.

We can serve God until we collapse in exhaustion, deny ourselves vacations, rest and all earthly pleasures, but if we do not love those closest to us, our own flesh and blood, our service is meaningless in the end, because we have failed at the most important job.

We represent Christ to our children as parents in the home. All the lip service regarding spiritual things, and all the righteous “standards” we erect against the vices of the day will never hide hypocrisy from the eyes of those who know best.

Sin, when it is covered up in a family, spawns a million evils. It eats like a cancer at the trust upon which all real relationships must rest. It kills joy and faith, it steals what is sacred and it lays waste to all that is precious and irreplaceable.

Every one of us has a choice in our families. We cannot change whatever sorrow existed in some of our families of origin. Sometimes, the sin sickness is so deep and has twisted minds and hearts so completely that only biblical separation from that sin is possible. But all of us can address the marriages and children entrusted to us now. All of us can live, starting now, so as to not have further regrets.

The ruins of families that might have been so different are all around us. Think for a moment of all the happy innocence, all the laughter and all the life-giving joy that might have been in so many homes, homes that were instead filled with rancor and hatred, grudge-holding and betrayal.

If you think that anything in your life, including going out ‘serving God,’ is more important than your family, imagine yourself as a dying man or woman in the last hours of life. Imagine the horrible barrenness of dying without the love and respect of your children and grandchildren. Picture the regret of that person who could have filled the lives of these people with love and joy and wise instruction, but chose something else instead.

We will all leave a legacy behind. Those who profess Christ will either leave a legacy of Christ’s love stamped upon the hearts and lives of their families or they will leave a legacy of hypocrisy, destruction, misery and sorrow.

The choice is ours. We are all choosing that legacy now.

Thanks for the Children

jesus_with_children4I picked my daughter up from school last week. As she got into her booster seat in the car she said, “I had a GREAT day!” When asked why, she said, “I had a cupcake today!”

I made a big deal out of it, “WHAT? A cupcake? How did that happen?” That child then did something that just got me. She giggled. It was that unbelievably dear sound moms sometimes hear, like music bubbling up. “It was a teacher’s birthday. There was chocolate frosting.” The simplest thing in the world made her so happy.

I have to give thanks to God today for children. At times they can be exhausting, and they are work intensive, but their innocence and delight in the smallest things makes life bearable to me. That music of Emmy’s laugh reminded me of the Lord Jesus with the children on his lap, the ones his disciples tried to shoo away from him. He took them in his arms instead and blessed them. I think he probably heard a giggle. The cultures that are aborting children by the millions are aborting away all of that music, all of that hope and all of that God-given life. How evil. How foolish.

“He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” ~ Matthew 18:2-6

Sanctuary – A Repost

I first shared this post back in January of 2013. Due to several conversations recently with friends, I felt the need to re-run it here at the Hope Blog. If you are weary beyond words or discouraged, I hope it is a blessing to you.

hillsJust off the main highway that winds through the rolling green hills is a dirt road. You would miss it if you didn’t know to watch for it.

On the south side of the road, a small, weathered sign in the shape of a T has the words “Sanctuary” on it. That’s where you turn in.

You’ll drive a good half a mile on that rough dirt road that turns and twists slowly up a hill. The trees crowd on either side and the sunlight is filtered through the leaves as you travel along. If your windows are open, the air is riotous with the sound of songbirds.

Then, suddenly, you are at the top of the hill and there you will see your destination. There stand several buildings made of the creamy field stone the area is known for. The structures look so solid that no wind could ever blow them down. The prettiest of them all, overlooking the lush valley down below, is a chapel building with a small steeple and bell tower. There are flower beds along the brick walkway, and in summer they are alive with color.

At evensong, when the sun begins to sink, the bells in that chapel can be heard for miles. There is a carillon that each evening chimes sweet peace to all of God’s creatures. sunsetWhether it is heard by the sheep dog resting on the porch of the frame farmhouse down the road or the family eating dinner in the valley, the sounds of those bells are carried on the gentle evening air.

A woman named Joan runs the place. She is a woman in her early 60’s, vigorous, with rough hands that are chapped with constant work. Her silver hair is short, because she has no interest or time to deal with it, her skin is tanned and shows the effects of much sun, but she has light blue eyes that are kindly and they nearly always have a smile in them.

There is a library in one of those stone buildings. A carpenter volunteered and put in shelves from ceiling to floor. Over the years, the book collection burgeoned and grew until Joan had to stop taking donations. The large fireplace, made of the same stone, was put in later. On cold winter nights, the library is as snug a haven as you could possibly find. Joan’s yellow lab likes to lie there on the rug before the fire, toasting himself, the firelight flickering on the backs of the books.

The green hills that shimmer in the summer heat are still with the silence and cold of winter. A different, frozen kind of peace descends. Footsteps and sounds seem muffled as the snow and ice blanket the beauty that lies in waiting.

Joan was once terribly hurt in her life. She was so hurt that she nearly gave up, turned her back on her faith and died for any useful purpose.

Then she inherited money and bought an old property up in the hills. Aroused from despair and defeat, throwing off her depression and her sense of worthlessness, she determined to provide a haven in the war zone of life for women who needed a sanctuary.

She made up her mind that she would never market her safe place. God would bring those who needed a rest, and she would provide it. And one by one, injured sheep make their way to her refuge. Sometimes they walk, sometimes they have to crawl.

She does not preach to them. But she prays for all who come. She offers her ear, her experience and plain comfort from the Bible.

Most of those who come are refugees from spiritual abuse. Like Joan. Sitting in her study, she listens to stories that are enough to make the angels weep. She sees the damage and the scars carried by those who have been nearly killed off by spiritual leaders, husbands, family members wielding the name of Jesus. Some are those suffering great loss or from long term, unresolved stress in their lives and who are nearly unable to function in their everyday lives as a result. They open their hearts in this safe place, sometimes for the first time.

And there, those same hurt people are given the opportunity to rest. It flows to them from the Scriptures and hymns at evensong, it shines down from the glories of God’s creation, where the billions of stars are not obscured by harsh city lights, it comes to them sitting on the swing where the small creatures can be heard rustling in the grass as they go about their nightly affairs.

Rest comes in the quiet of rooms, where in their plainness and simplicity, the Bibles on the nightstand can be opened without distraction, and prayer can take place without the oppression of digital noise that permeates everyday life.

Rest comes in healthy meals and walking in the hills, the sunshine warming backs and necks made stiff with stress. It comes in not having a schedule screaming its demands and all the expectations rising, exhausting and depleting.

Sometimes visitors stay a day. Others stay for weeks. When they leave, they give a donation of what they can or sometimes they donate their time to help work on the property in exchange for the kindness of their host.

There is a plaque in the narthex of the chapel, just to the left of the door.

It reads,

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” ~ Jesus

The need for peaceful interludes in our lives can’t be underscored enough. Our modern life has many running on fumes. For those facing truly devastating losses and long-term struggles, time away from it all isn’t just a want, it is a need. The place I have described above is fictional, part of a writing project. I thought I would share it on the Hope Blog because it describes what so many women today would love to have–time away to find quiet and peace.

We may not be able to get away, and there may be no place like the Sanctuary in real life where we can physically get strength and perspective back, but all of us can cultivate a sanctuary in our hearts, a place where we won’t let anything or anyone disrupt the peace of God. The evil of our day wars against this peace. It is a real commitment to keep hearts and minds fixed on truth, on the real Jesus, not the brutal counterfeit offered up so often today in His name.

I love this piece by Secret Garden. The nature photography in the video is very restful to watch. Watching it, I find my own sanctuary.

In Memory of Ken Silva

A good friend and fellow blogger for many years, Ken Silva, passed away Sunday night at his home. His website became the go-to place for information on the disturbing trends within evangelicalism. I interviewed Ken many times on radio about the emergent spirituality, and we shared information constantly behind the scenes about the latest pertinent news in order to share it with our readers.

Words don’t convey the sense of loss to many of us who appreciated his work and contributions that helped readers to understand our spiritually tumultuous times. He, like all of us, took a lot of personal attacks for the work he did. I witnessed it many, many times at hate sites that smeared him in every way possible. He kept right on going. I am glad he is with Jesus now, beyond anyone’s ability to hurt him, beyond all pain and suffering. We’ll see you again, Ken. It won’t be long now.