The song, “When all Thy mercies” was written over 300 hundred years ago. Fernando Ortega sings four of the 13 verses [the ones with an asterik] The first verses, which talk about God’s care for us when we are tiny, remind me of Psalm 139. In later verses, I hear echoes of Psalm 23.

*”When all Your mercies, O my God,
my rising soul surveys,
transported with the view, I’m lost
in wonder, love and praise.

Your Providence my life sustained,
and all my wants redressed,
while in the silent womb I lay,
and hung upon the breast.

To all my weak complaints and cries
Your mercy lent an ear,
Before my feeble thoughts had learned
to form themselves in prayer.

*Unnumbered comforts to my soul
Your tender care bestowed,
before my infant heart conceived
from whom those comforts flowed.

When in the slippery paths of youth
with heedless steps I ran,
Your arm unseen conveyed me safe,
and led me by Your hand.

Through hidden dangers, toils, and deaths,
Your love gently showed the way;
and through the pleasing snares of vice,
You wooed me far away.

O how shall words with equal warmth
the gratitude declare,
that glows within my ravished heart?
but You can read it there.

Your bounteous hand with worldly bliss
has made my cup run o’er;
and, in a kind and faithful Friend,
has doubled all my store.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
my daily thanks employ;
nor is the last a cheerful heart
that tastes those gifts with joy.

*When worn with sickness, often have You
with health renewed my face;
and, when in sins and sorrows sunk,
revived my soul with grace.

*Through every period of my life
Your goodness I’ll pursue
and after death, in distant worlds,
the glorious theme renew.

When nature fails, and day and night
divide Your works no more,
my ever grateful heart, O Lord,
Your mercy shall adore.

Through all eternity to You
a joyful song I’ll raise;
for, oh, eternity’s too short
to utter all Your praise!”

Modernized from Joseph Addison, 1712

“Acceptance frees us from bondage to the law. God isn’t mad at
us.
When we live under the law, we are forever trying to appease
God so he won’t be mad at us. We can’t do this for very long
without getting angry at ourselves, either toward God for being
so strict or toward ourselves for failing. When we finally
understand that God isn’t mad at us anymore, we become free
to concentrate on love and growth instead of trying to appease
him.”
Henry Cloud and John Townsend in “How People Grow”

♦◊♦

“Grace overcomes shame, not by uncovering an overlooked cache
of excellence in ourselves but simply by accepting us, the whole of us,
with no regard to our beauty or our ugliness, our virtue or our vices.
We are accepted wholesale. Accepted with no possibility of being re-
jected. Accepted once and accepted forever. Accepted at the ultimate
depth of our being. We are given what we have longed for in every
nook and nuance of every relationship.

We are ready for grace when we are bone tired of our struggle to
be worthy and acceptable. After we have tried too long to earn the
approval of everyone important to us, we are ready for grace. When
we are tired of trying to be the person somebody sometime convinced
us we had to be, we are ready for grace. When we have given up all
hope of ever being an acceptable human being, we may hear in our
hearts the ultimate reassurance: we are accepted, accepted by grace.”
Lewis Smedes in “Shame and Grace”

♦◊♦

“Self-acceptance begins to take over
self-hate as we accept our emptiness before God and see
how he loves us in spite of our pride, vanity and petti-
ness. His love does not let us be overwhelmed, but rather
we begin to know we are truly accepted in him.
The giving out of love to God and receiving his love
in return is the most needed and most healing experience we can have.
Margaret Therkelsen “The Love Exchange”

♦◊♦

“Acceptance creates safety to be and experience ourselves.
Many people are stuck in their spiritual growth because they
can’t be completely themselves. They may be able to be real
about their opinions, humor, or care for others. But they think
that their depression, sad times, addictions, or neediness are
unacceptable to God or people so they live their lives as though
these parts didn’t exist. We need to experience all of our soul,
whether good, bad, or broken. Otherwise what is not brought
into the light of God’s love and relationship cannot be matured,
healed, and integrated into the rest of our character.
Henry Cloud and John Townsend in “How People Grow”

“All who are thirsty” by Brenton Brown from the Vineyard album “Surrender”

“All who are thirsty
All who are weak
Just come to the fountain
Dip your heart in the stream of life
Let the pain and the sorrow
Be washed away
In the waves of His mercy
As the deep cries out to deep, we sing…

Come, Lord Jesus come
Holy Spirit, come
Won’t you come?”

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As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

…Deep calls to deep
in the roar of Your waterfalls”

Psalm 42 1-2, 7

“Graceless religion tells us that, to be acceptable, we must live up to
the customs and shun the taboos of its tradition. It shames us when
we do what it forbids and do not do what it requires.

Our religion-shaped self easily becomes a self of hypocrisy and appearances; we feel compelled to make up for what we lack inside by obeying all its prescriptions on the outside. Graceless religion creates the illusion that if we only follow the letter of the rules, we will be acceptable, and that if we fail we will be rejected and despised.”
Lewis Smedes in “Shame and Grace”

♦◊♦

Where, except in uncreated light, can the darkness be drowned?”

C.S. Lewis, “Letters to Malcolm”
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♦◊♦

“If people know they are loved, they are not afraid of their ‘badness.’ They feel accepted and safe, and they do not have to feel ‘good’ about themselves to be safe. Love does that. Love is everything. In the Bible the opposite of ‘bad’ is not ‘good’, it is love.”
Henry Cloud in “How People Grow”

This week’s song, “When I think of You” is sung by the African Children’s Choir from Uganda.

[Alert: if you prefer a particular style of music, just wait. There’s a good chance my highly eclectic listening habits will eventually come around to it. If not, let me know. And as always, I’d love to hear your suggestions. What songs are singing in your head these days?]

“There is no one like and there is no one like
My Yahweh, my Yahweh
There is no one like and there is no one like
My Yahweh, my Yahweh

There is no one like and there is no one like
My Yahweh, my Yahweh
There is no one like and there is no one like
My Yahweh, my Yahweh

When I think of You
I see You dancing, You’re dancing
When I think of You
I hear You singing to me

When I think of You
I see You praying, You’re praying
When I think of You
I hear You calling for me

Yahweh, there is no one like You, Lord
Yahweh, Hallelujah, we sing
Yahweh, there is no one like You, Lord
Yahweh, Your banner for me
Your banner for me is love”

[on Michael W. Smith’s album “A New Hallelujah”]

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“The arms of God be around my shoulders,
The touch of the Holy Spirit upon my head,
The sign of Christ’s cross upon my forehead,
The sound of the Holy Spirit in my ears,
The fragrance of the Holy Spirit in my nostrils,
The vision of heaven’s company in my eyes,
The conversation of heaven’s company on my lips,
The work of God’s Church in my hands,
The service of God and the neighbor in my feet,
A home for God in my heart,
And to God, the Father of all, my entire being.
Amen.”

Saint Fursa’s breastplate prayer, circa 630 AD

♦◊♦

“Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be thou my breastplate, sword for the fight;
thou my whole armor, thou my true might;
thou my soul’s shelter, my strong tower:
raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.”

Based on the 6th centurty Old Irish text, “Rop tú mo Baile” usually attributed to Saint Dallán Forgaill

♦◊♦

“Satan tries to confuse us. “Look at how messed up the world is. How can you believe in a loving God?”
The only answer is the breastplate of righteousness. You cannot understand particular happenings; you cannot give any explanation. But you do know that the God who clothed you with His righteousness and saved you from a lost eternity must have your highest interest and those of His universe at heart.
When you hold on to that, your heart is protected from despair, even if your mind struggles to comprehend what is happening. You can live in peace even though you do not know all the answers.”
Selwyn Hughes

♦◊♦

You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head
.
Psalm 139:2-5

St. Brendan sculpture, Cahirciveen, Ring of Kerry, Ireland

St. Brendan sculpture, Cahirciveen, Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Time for a new feature–a song for Saturday from my week’s playlist.
Up first is ‘Lorica’ by Steve Bell on his album “Devotion”

The Lorica – Music and Lyric by Gayle Salmond

“I bind unto myself today
The gift to call on the Trinity
The saving faith where I can say
Come three in one, oh one in three

Be above me, as high as the noonday sun
Be below me, the rock I set my feet upon
Be beside me, the wind on my left and right
Be behind me, oh circle me with Your truth and light

I bind unto myself today
The love of Angels and Seraphim
The prayers and prophesies of Saints
The words and deeds of righteous men

God’s ear to hear me
God’s hand to guide me
God’s might to uphold me
God’s shield to hide me
Against all powers deceiving
Against my own unbelieving
Whether near or far

I bind unto myself today
The hope to rise from the dust of earth
The songs of nature giving praise
To Father, Spirit, Living Word”

——
Notes:
During the eighth and ninth centuries in the British Isles, followers of Jesus often composed prayers to declare the encompassing presence of God in the world. Some of these were loricas, or breastplate prayers for protection [the breastplate being the piece of armor that covers your torso and protects your heart in battle, and lorica being Latin for breastplate]. Perhaps they had in mind Paul’s description of spiritual armor: Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place. [Ephesians 6:14]

This song is based on the lorica of St. Patrick. Another lorica, “Rob tu mo bhoile, a Comdi cride” is the basis for the hymn, “Be Thou My Vision”.

[more about God’s protection in my next post]

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“Jesus calls people not to a new religion but to life.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

♦◊♦

“When it comes to the mystery of death, like the mystery of life, how can any of us know anything? If there is a realm of being beyond where we now are that has to do somehow with who Jesus is, and is for us, and is for all the world, then how can we know the way that will take us there?

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” is how he answers. He does not say the church is the way. He does not say his teachings are the way, or what people for centuries have taught about him. He does not say religion is the way, not even the religion that bears his name. He says he himself is the way. And he says that the truth is not words, neither his words nor anyone else’s words. It is the truth of being truly human as he was truly human and thus at the same time truly God’s. And the life we are dazzled by in him, haunted by in him, nourished by in him is a life so full of aliveness and light that not even the darkness of death could prevail against it.”

Frederick Beuchner

♦◊♦

“Spiritual growth is not only about coming back into a relationship with God and other people and pursuing a pure life, but it is also coming back to life – the life that God created for people to live. This life–of deep relationship, fulfilling work, celebration, and more–gives us the life we desire…”
Henry Cloud and John Townsend in “How People Grow”

♦◊♦

I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness
John 10:10

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Easter in August

August 24, 2016 — Leave a comment

Lately, I’ve been pondering what the cross means. So after Christmas in July, perhaps it is time for Easter in August.

What has particularly drawn me to the cross has not been God’s forgiveness for me but my struggle to forgive those who have wronged and hurt me.

In the midst of these reflections, I ‘happened’ to attend a worship concert where we were invited to write down the name of someone we were finding it hard to forgive. Then we went forward and nailed the slip of paper to a large wooden cross. It was a powerful moment for me as I realized the sins Jesus took on Himself included sins done against me.

“We are invited to put our pain and any senseless suffering of the world into the wounds of Jesus. Jesus went to the cross so our sin and pain wouldn’t just stick to us. It has somewhere to go, somewhere it can be transformed rather than just transmitted. There are no tears and sorrow too deep for God to transform. Put your pain into the wounded hands and feet of Jesus. Watch him turn an act of unjust violence into hope and life.”
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun in “Invitations from God”

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“The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word that is love, mercy, forgiveness.”
Pope Francis

Murreagh, Ireland

Murreagh, Ireland

“At the cross the world sinned its sins into Jesus Christ.
And what happens? Jesus forgives.
Why? Because God is like that.
In the defining moment of the cross Jesus defines what God is really like.
God is love—co-suffering, all-forgiving, sin-absorbing, never-ending love.
God is not like Caiaphas sacrificing a scapegoat.
God is not like Pilate enacting justice by violence.
God is Jesus, absorbing and forgiving sin.
At the cross a world of sin is absorbed by the love of God and recycled into grace and mercy.”
Brian Zahnd in “Water to Wine”

jesus on cross arms up

“The image of God is the image of Christ crucified.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in “The Cost of Discipleship”

“Faith is transferring your trust from your own efforts to the efforts of Christ.  You were relying on other things to make you acceptable, but now you consciously begin relying on what Jesus did for your acceptance with God. All you need is nothing.”
Tim Keller

♦◊♦

“The Christian life is not about the weak becoming strong; it is about the self-sufficient assenting to their own weakness. How horrible! How freeing…

Conventional wisdom tells us that suffering can either make us better or bitter. I don’t think it’s that simple. I think suffering makes us more. More of all the feelings; more of who we’re meant to be; more aware of our own weakness and, hopefully, the source of real strength, who doesn’t leave us to our own devices but carries us.
Stephanie Phillips

♦◊♦

“When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human powers of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realization: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received. The needed change within us is God’s work, not ours. The demand is for an inside job, and only God can work from the inside. We cannot attain or earn this righteousness of the kingdom of God; it is a grace that is given.” Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline

♦◊♦

“We think of Jesus as a hero who dug deep down in himself to find the strength to push through.
But Jesus did not rely on willpower…willpower was not the source of His faithfulness. It was His deep, abiding relationship with the Father by the Holy Spirit.

We fall into the trap of thinking the Christian life is based on self-generated willpower…[that we need to] just try a little harder, come up with the right formula.

Jesus has called us to something deeper than self-help and personal resolve.. He has called us to more than trying our best to mimic his behavior. He has called us to abide in Him.” Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel in Beloved Dust

I often think of faith as something active, something that energizes. It propels me forward to walk on water, to bring a paralyzed friend to Jesus, to shout out to Jesus as He passes by. I want to ‘get more’ faith, ‘have more’ faith, ‘exercise’ more faith–for myself and for other people. I rue my lack of faith, because I view faith as a simple equation that reveals the poverty of my soul. Weak faith= on the verge of God’s wrath and judgment. Or at least self-condemnation.

And then I read about Hudson Taylor’s failure with faith and what he learned that revolutionized his spiritual life and ministry, fifteen years {!} after starting his work in China.

“I felt I was a child of God. His Spirit in my heart would cry, in spite of all, “Abba, Father.” But to rise to my privileges as a child, I was utterly powerless….All the time I felt assured that there was in Christ all I needed, but the practical question was–how to get it out?

He was rich truly, but I was poor; He was strong, but I weak. I knew full well that there was in the root, the stem, abundant fatness, but how to get it into my puny little branch was the question… I saw that faith was the only requisite–was the hand to lay hold on His fullness and make it mine. But I had not this faith. I strove for faith, but it would not come; I tried to exercise it, but in vain.”

Then a sentence in a letter changed Taylor’s life. The sentence read:

“How to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.”

“As I read, I saw it all!.. Ah, there is rest!” I thought. “I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I’ll strive no more. For has not He promised to abide with me–never to leave me, never to fail me?” And He never will.

As I thought of the Vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured direct into my soul! How great seemed my mistake in wishing to get the sap, the fullness out of Him! I saw not only that Jesus will never leave me, but that I am a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. The vine is not the root merely, but all–root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit…

It is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Savior, to be a member of Christ! Think what it involves.
Can Christ be rich and you poor?
Can your right hand be rich and your left poor?
Or your head be well fed while your body starves?

I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how…His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me. ”
Hudson Taylor

This is how I ‘get more’ faith: Not by working at it but by resting on the Faithful One. Not by feats of great personal sacrifice but by remaining attached to the Vine and trusting that streams of living water will flow through me.John-reclines-on-Jesus-chest

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Refrain
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

“The literal translation of the words ‘pray always’ is ‘come to rest’…This rest, however, has little to do with the absence of conflict or pain. It is a rest in God in the midst of a very intense daily struggle.”
Henri Nouwen in The Way of the Heart

♦◊♦

“Evangelicals have a very wordy, heady and busy faith tradition. We emphasize theology and word, knowledge and service. And yet we are starved… for rest, to know God beyond what we can do for him. We are starved for quiet, to hear the sound of sheer silence that is the presence of God himself.”
Ruth Haley Barton in Invitation to Silence

♦◊♦

“For the Rushed, Hurried and Afraid of Missing Out“
For I am convinced that neither
traffic, nor long lines;
nor needy children or demanding bosses;
nor crowded calendars, nor unfinished projects;
nor deadlines;
nor impossible expectations of others,
nor unnoticed accomplishments;
nor any other “hurry-up” thing
will be able to separate us from the
{timeless, eternal, enduring, patient, steadfast}
love of God
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paraphrase of Romans 8:38-39 by a recovering hurrier

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“God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form…The perfect surrender and humiliation was undergone by Christ: perfect because He was God, surrender and humiliation because He was man.”
C.S.Lewis

♦◊♦

“That man should be made in God’s image is a wonder,
but that God should be made in man’s image is a greater wonder.
That the Ancient of Days would be born.
That He who thunders in the heavens should cry in the cradle?”
Thomas Watson

♦◊♦

The Singing of Angels
by Howard Thurman
“There must be always
remaining in every life,
some place for the singing of angels.
Some place for that
which in itself
is breathless and
beautiful.
Old burdens become lighter
deep and ancient wounds
lose much of their old hurting.
Despite all the crassness of life,
all the hardness and
harsh discords,
life is saved by
the singing of angels.”

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Maybe it is a greed on my part, this desire I have to celebrate Christmas again, six months after December 25th. Or maybe it reveals a desire to live outside the constraints of time, to deny that I live in a time-bound world. Or maybe it’s because I remember what fun it was to celebrate Christmas in July every summer at camp.

But truly, I want to celebrate Christmas today because once every twelve months is not enough to marvel at the wonder of the incarnation, of God taking on flesh.

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A few years ago day I spoke with a man about this, after he commented that Islam and Protestantism had a lot in common.
“Yes, ” I replied, “except for Jesus.”
“Jesus ate and drank,” he answered. “God doesn’t do that.”

We chatted a little longer about the mystery of God becoming man, me from the position of belief, him from the position of unbelief.

Finally he asked me a question, almost with disdain, to prove that Jesus was just a man. “What has Jesus ever created?”

My response was a paraphrase of Colossians 1.
“He is the image of the invisible God.
by Him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
 whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things were created by Him and for Him.”

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No, once a year is not enough. So today, I’d suggest you put on your favorite Christmas hymns and spend a little time reading these two ancient meditations on this great miracle.

Bethlehem has opened Eden:
Come, let us see!
We have found joy hidden!
Come, let us take possession of the paradise within the cave.

There the unwatered stem has appeared,
from which forgiveness blossoms forth!
There the undug well is found
from which David longed to drink of old!

There the Virgin has borne a child,
and at once the thirst of Adam and David is made to cease.
Therefore let us hasten to this place
where for our sake the eternal God was born as a little child!

Ikos of the Nativity of the Lord

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♦◊♦

Your mercy reaches from the heavens
through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love.

Caress us with Your tiny hands,
embrace us with Your tiny arms
and pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries.
Bernard of Clairvaux

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The yoke of rest

July 21, 2016 — Leave a comment

I’ve been reflecting on what it means to rest in God–to rest in being His beloved, to find rest for my soul as Jesus promised in Matthew 11 when He said, “Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

That sounds like music to my soul, but the next sentence tends to jar my sense of peace: Take My yoke upon you. There’s nothing about a yoke that seems restful to me. In fact, the idea of resting and trusting seems to be the opposite of wearing a yoke. In my mind, a yoke chafes, to bumps, it constrains. It seems painful, tiresome, relentless.
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But that is not what a yoke is meant to be:
“A yoke, in ancient Palestine, was made of wood, handmade to fit perfectly to the neck and shoulders of the oxen to prevent cutting and chafing.” [Pete Scazzero in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality]

Or, as Jesus puts it in John 15: “Remain in my love.

Like a steering wheel, the yoke of Jesus keeps me on the good path, the path that leads to quiet waters where my soul is restored.
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“Take My yoke” is another way of saying, “Stay close. Stay attached. Abide. Rest.”
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I need to remember that the choice is not between having a yoke or having no yoke at all. There is no yoke-free life. Whatever track I am following is a yoke of sorts. And though other paths may seem pleasant at the time, there is only one directing me to my ultimate best. Jesus wants to bring me home and I can trust that the yoke He gives is going to be a good fit for me, a yoke of grace, love, forgiveness, comfort, shelter–and yes, rest.

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I’ve seen this in action. I’ve had the privilege of knowing saints who have taken the yoke of Jesus, and they are the lightest and most rested people I know. Their lives are full of peace and joy. They may experience trouble on every side, but they aren’t crushed; they may be perplexed, but they aren’t driven to despair; they may be knocked down, but they aren’t destroyed. They carry in their bodies the death of Jesus, but the life of Jesus is also visible in them, full of grace and truth.

They are able to rest in a storm, like Jesus sleeping on the boat in Mark 4:37-38. A furious squall came up and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. At rest.
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Thus says the LORD,
“Stand by the ways
and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.

Jeremiah 6:16
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“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”
Pedro Arrupe

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♦◊♦

“‘Conversion’ is not about an abstract transaction in which your soul becomes destined for heaven instead of hell.

Rather, ‘conversion’ is the moment when you find yourself within the story of Jesus, the story of Israel, the story of the Church and the story of God.”

David at “A Psalm of David”

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“Holiness is not a state of perfection but a faithful striving that lasts a lifetime. It is expressed primarily in small ways, day after day, through the practice of forgiveness, patience, self-sacrifice, and compassion.”
Dorothy Day
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“It is I, speaks the Christ, I am he
who puts Death to death, and stands above
the fallen enemy, crushes Hades
to bland chalk, binds the dark powers, and bears
all humankind up to heavenly peaks.
Yes, says Christ, I am he.

Rhodes, Greece

Rhodes, Greece

“Therefore come, all human families
ruined by sin, and receive absolution
of every error. I am your liberation
and the passage of deliverance.
I am the throat-cut lamb and sacrifice,
your ransom paid, your pulse and life, your fire,
your rescue, resurrection, and your king.
I gather you in one strong hand,
and guide you to the heights of paradise,
where I will show to you your Father.”
Scott Cairns, from his book Love’s Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life

Ealing, England

Ealing, England

“In Christ we have everything….
If you want to heal your wound, He is the doctor.
If you are burning with fever, He is the fountain.

Ceuta, Spain

Ceuta, Spain

“If you are in need of help, He is strength.
If you are in dread of death, He is life.

Alcobaca, Portugal

Alcobaca, Portugal

If you are fleeing the darkness, He is light.
If you are hungry, He is food: ’O taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy are they who take refuge in Him.’ (Psalm 34:8)”
Ambrose of Milan

Concord, Massachusetts, USA

Concord, Massachusetts, USA

Casablanca, Morocco

Casablanca, Morocco


You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You;
I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
I have seen You in the sanctuary
and beheld Your power and Your glory.

Psalm 63:1-2

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

“There is perhaps a glimmer of hope in the fact that however weak we may be,
however spiritually feeble and inclined to sin,
Christ still remains our sanctuary, immovable and ever desired,
to which we shall always return.”
Father Alexander Elchaninov

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand

“Splendor and majesty are before the Lord;
strength and glory are in His sanctuary.”

Psalm 95:6

Entrepierres, France

Entrepierres, France

Pouring it all out

April 21, 2016 — 1 Comment

“Trust in Him at all times. O people.
Pour out your hearts to Him for God is our refuge.”

Psalm 62:8

I love how trusting God and expressing the feelings in my heart go hand and hand. Trusting God is not some robotic, ‘cut yourself from your mind and heart’ action. It is opening my heart and pouring it out to Him…the same action Mary did, pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet.

Perhaps in some way, the feelings we store in our hearts and then pour out to our Father are like perfume to Him too. Because to be honest with someone, to be truly open and vulnerable with them, is a great gift. And that is a gift we can give to God.

Pouring requires opening. When my heart is open, I can pour out my feelings, my worries, and my concerns to Him.

And then, with my heart open, He can pour Himself, the Spirit of grace and truth, in my life.

The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” Romans 5:5
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Pouring is not a timid action. It is the action of leaning forward, and letting the stream begin to flow.

“This is what the Lord, the one who made you, says –
the one who formed you in the womb and helps you:
“Don’t be afraid, my servant Jacob,
Jeshurun, whom I have chosen!
For I will pour water on the parched ground
and cause streams to flow on the dry land.
I will pour My spirit on your offspring
and my blessing on your children.

Isaiah 44:2-3

Just for today, Ashley Cleveland’s memoir, Little Black Sheep, is free as an ebook.

I’ve written about her memoir here: Zig zagging step by step
“..she grew up white in the refined, rich, and religious south of the United States where going to church was what nice people did–along with living secret broken lives. Ashley tells her journey from respectability to grace, with a whole lot of detours in between. When she was a teenager, she decided to follow Jesus, but she kept stepping off the path. Again and again, she gave in to her particular temptations: drugs, sex, alcohol. Again and again, she’d return to God and ask forgiveness. Again and again, God took her back. For years, her life was one endless zig zag. Zig onto the path, zag off the path….”

And you can find some quotes from her book here: Speaking of taking it one day at a time

It’s a powerful story of what hope can look like in someone’s life over the years: true, desperate, gritty, unfailing, impossible, redeeming.

Here is the Davd C. Cook publisher link which will point you to several ebook retailers, and gives a video where Cleveland talks about the book. You can get the Kindle version here on Amazon.

[And for those of you who are music lovers, I’d recommend her album, God Don’t Never Change ]