Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My script of joy, immortal diet,
y bottle of salvation.
My gown of glory, hopes true gauge,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

~Sir Walter Raleigh

A hiker, walking for pleasure, likes to choose between several alluring trails.
The pilgrim desires only the road that leads home.

~Frank W. Boreham

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

...and I quote,....

We all have them. Tasks, jobs, duties, yea verily, callings.

So often the thoughts come that "wouldn't it be grand if...." Or perhaps there is a sudden attack of the if-only's. Let's face it, in the grand scheme of things it seems mostly that the task(s) before us each day is/are not world spinning, headline making glamor. We slog, we slump, we might even (oh, heaven forbid) mutter and grumble.

"Frustration is coded into the very structure of fallen Creation." (Romans 8.18-21)

So This Day, a new tactic.

This Day, laundry folding will become sacrament, deadheading perennials,liturgy.

Martin Luther wrote:

"The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God as much as the monk who prays, not because she may sing a hymn as she sweeps,
but because God loves clean floors.
The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes,
but by making good shoes,
because God is interested in good craftsmanship."

There is a sanctity in honest work. There is something in it that pleases not just the eyes of man, but the heart of God.

In the early church there were slaves. The instruction given them when they came to Faith was not to leave, but to be the best, most obedient slaves possible.

"The opposite of a slave is not a free man. It is a worshiper."

The one who turns the work of his hands into an offering of service to the Lord, is the one who blesses, who walks rightly, righteously. He or she is the one, who can pray along with Moses

"Let the beauty and favor and delightfulness of the Lord our God be upon us;
confirm and establish the work of our hands,
yes, the work of our hands, confirm and establish it."

The work of our hands by the alchemy of our devotion, becomes the worship of our hearts.

More than that, work done in such a spirit has the power to reveal Christ Himself.
It is reflective. It not only makes Christ attractive, it makes Christ known.

Today, I shall think 'foot washing'.

The One who designed and created feet, from the dust of the road itself, so to speak, stooped, took a towel and washed them, dirty, cracked men's feet.
And in the washing, ministered.


Or maybe: life lesson.

This Day, prayerfully and with thanksgiving I shall attempt to kneed the reality of that truth into the details of my tasks.

(phrases in italics indicate quotes from Mark Buchanan)

Friday, September 24, 2010

What is it about Autumn?

Something about the sweet smells of earth, of ripening berries along the roadside that calls to something deep within, in Fall.

The amber light which this time of year slants in and backlights adding a golden glow to everything.

There are warm memories of haying, of berry picking and cabbage cutting on misty mornings; of new shoes and lunch pails, school bus sightings, and hurried prayers over the children.

In the Now, there are herbs to gather, seeds to collect, the garden to be put to bed. There is preserving to be done, jamly to make. (Jamly: fruit with pulp to make rich, substantial spreading, not thin clear liquid turned solid.)

Something about Autumn also makes the spirit mellow, almost melancholy. Is that because you can't help noticing the year is winding to its end?

For me that is combined with the fact that this is the time of year we were married long years ago. It is also the season when my first born first smiled her way into our lives.

And it is the time of harvest. It is a time to savor while remembering summer's collected joys and storing up for winter.

My life is much different now from the farm years. Yet much of the spirit of that time lingers, hovers and almost seems to haunt.

With the differences of life and rhythm there still is the call to review 'the crop' of the year, to rejoice and give thanks.

As Mark Buchanan so beautifully writes:

"...a time to acknowledge God as provider:
rainmaker, sun-keeper, storm-quencher.
The season [proving] yet again,
God's enduring faithfulness...."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lord's Day Thoughts

Lord of all power and might,

which art the author and giver of all good things;

graft in our hearts the love of thy name,

increase in us true religion,

nourish us with all goodness,

and of thy great mercy keep us in the same;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

This is the collect of Thomas Cranmer for this Sunday of the Church Year.

It is the verbs of this collect that to me seem so powerful.

To graft: a part inserted from another so as to become nourished by and united with it(! )

To increase: to make greater in any respect

To nourish: to sustain, supply with what is necessary for maintaining life

To keep: to maintain, to cause to continue in some place, position, state or course;

to protect, guard, tend, take care of.

True religion: James, not the dictionary gives us this - "to visit orphans and widows in their troubles and to keep unspotted from the world." (KJV) Or as the Moffatt translation reads '...from the stain of the world.

This then is our position in Christ as well as our calling: purity of life and Kingdom work.

I'm reminded of the two fabrics noted in the Proverb of the Women of Excellence. Wool and linen.

Wool, in scripture always refers to the fabric of our humanity. One of the great flaws/characteristics of wool is that it readily soaks up stains and colors of anything close to it or any dye offered. Wool also deteriorates over time because of rot, the eating of bugs nor can it take sudden change in temperature.

Linen, on the other hand, which speaks to the garments of our Redemption, His righteousness, is resistant to staining, to spotting. Linen also is strong, enduring, not easily destroyed from outside elements.

The process to produce these two fibers is also in contrast. The steps for wool to yarn are simple and straight forward. Linen on the other hand, requires extreme conditions, many steps taken and hard work to achieve the final product.

Interesting. One along easy lines the other quite the opposite. So it is with our Soul work. Great pains and attention are needed to bring about that consistent purity of life and love which enables us to minister to others.

It all comes from being grafted, nourished and kept by the One Who before time began, chose me for His own with an Everlasting Love.

By His great mercy, may I desire above all things to love His name and "make His will my home."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Life's Fulcrum

"Thankfulness is not so much an act as an orientation.

It's a way of facing the world,
of receiving it and when needed, overcoming it.

Thankfulness is the Rosetta stone that deciphers all of life,
the plain and the puzzling,
the good and the bad.

It is the philosopher's stone that turns common things into precious things. It is the fulcrum with which we can move the world.

Here's why: Thankfulness incarnates faith in the sovereign goodness of God....thankfulness for all things, thankfulness in all things, not being anxious about things but by prayer and petition with thanksgiving presenting our request to God.

Only thankfulness on this scale is the incontestable sign we believe what we say.

It is the single most convincing testimony beyond our spoken one that we have put our hope in the God who vindicates and saves."

This quoted from "Spiritual Rhythm - Being With Jesus Every Season of Your Soul" by Mark Buchanan

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Oh Dear, O My

Recently in Sunday School we have been going through a course of study on the spiritual gifts. For someone who has been in church all her life, for a pastor's wife of some years, this is old news in a very real sense.

But the teacher is young in the Faith and the material being used is very contemporary. That being so, I have found there are fresh thoughts being presented (not that the Truth has altered).

How we determine what our gifts are is given from a different slant. Again, contemporary.
There is a questionnaire to be filled out, 137 questions in all. There is a personal assessment and opportunity to ask for others to assess. (a bit scary, this). Then there is the nailing down of personal style. Then there is the determination: are you project oriented or relationship driven?
Are you task structured or unstructured? People structured or people unstructured?

For myself, perhaps others have also found it so, there is no neat box in which I fit, particularly in this last section. I'm very structured in many things, I do not like surprises, I do not ever do well or have success following impulses, that sort of thing.

Then this is narrowed down further by the question: "Do you put everything in files, or everything in piles"? O dear, O my. I've been found out! Definitely a pile putter. Sad that, as I best function when my world is neat and tidy, everything in its place. And yet, the evidence is glaringly unmistakable.

This began about spiritual gifts. Now there is a shift to daily living.

The picture above was sent to me years ago - I have no idea how long ago - by my mom. Most probably it was during the years when I had four teenagers in the house. Anyway the card has been slipped in a book and resurfaced this last week. On the back Momma had written: "Hi! This should cheer you ~ for your desk corner never resembled this."

[Oh Momma dear, can you see my desk this day? Are you allowed to peep over the the edge of Heaven into my room in the Border Land? ]

Perhaps there was a time when I did better than now. Possibly. But at the present season of my life, Mr. Mouse could have his choice of several stacks of books on which to sit, on and near my desk, yea verily, in any room in the house.

Is there a plot line here? A conclusion to be drawn? A pithy ending? Not really. But you must agree it's an mighty cute illustration. (And as mother was an original re-cycler, the card most probably came to her first from a beloved grand daughter/niece known to this day as the sender of delightful cards.)

So Dear Reader, at least enjoy the mouse and anything else you might glean This Day.

Monday, September 6, 2010

So Many Metaphors

The Scriptures are replete with metaphors, images of our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Not the least of these the picture of a stream, a healing, flowing, refreshing stream.

There are wells, but they represent man's effort with the digging. There are cisterns, shallow diggings with stagnate, stale water, good for the crops perhaps but not for refreshing the thirsty pilgrim.

But flowing, streams, bubbling up clean from a pure source, those are the choice streams, the best.

So too our Source of refreshing Living Water.

Then today, another word picture through a contemporary hymn which speaks to our constant thirst on our pilgrim journey, our longings that can only be satisfied in Him.

Will You hide me in Your shelter?
Will You shade me with Your wings?
When the heat of day consumes me
Let me drink from healing streams,
Drink from healing streams.

Will You lift my heavy burdens?
Will You pave my path with peace?
When the road is steep and stony,
Let me bathe in healing streams,
Bathe in healing streams.

When the joy of morning tarries,
When the waves of darkness roll,
Will You shine Your light of faithfulness
Giving courage to my soul
Courage to my soul?

Will You lead me to repentance?
Will You make temptations flee?
When I'm filled with condemnation
Will You show Your scars to me,
Show Your scars to me?

...Will You hide me in Your shelter?
Will You shade me with Your wings?
When the heat of day consumes me,
Let me drink from healing streams

(~Kelly Minter, John Hartley, Stuart Townend)

Photograph courtesy of a most beloved nephew, a picture of the Pudding River in Oregon's Willamette Valley.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Rock of My Life

For most of the years of my pilgrimage, the "rock" verses of scripture have been a strength and support in the spiritual sense. Perhaps this has been made easy by the image of Haystack Rock on the Oregon coast which was imprinted on my mind and heart from childhood.

Along with those individual verses has been Psalm 62 in its entirety. It never ceases to bring calm, regardless of circumstances, regardless of the translation. James Moffatt's however, is perhaps the favorite.

But today I want to share a translation, if you will. It is in the form of a hymn written by a young, contemporary hymn writer. He is a worship leader in a Southern fellowship. His presence is that of a true servant of the living God. He seems so very young, yet he has been in ministry for some years. He is also a husband and father of 4 young sons. His name is Aaron Keyes, and yes, he can be found on YouTube.

But his version of this Psalm, the hymn for This Day is as follows:

My soul finds rest in God alone
My Rock and my salvation.
A fortress strong against my foes
And I will not be shaken.
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse,
And lies like arrows pierce me,
I'll fix my heart on righteousness,
I'll look to Him who hears me.

Find rest my soul in God alone
Amid the world's temptations.
When evil seeks to take a hold
I'll cling to my salvation.
Though riches come and riches go,
Don't set your heart upon them.
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in Heaven.

I'll set my gaze on God alone
And trust in Him completely.
With every day pour out my soul
And He will prove His mercy.
though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever.

Oh praise Him, hallelujah,
My Delight, my Reward,
Everlasting, never failing,
My Redeemer, my God.

While it is true, hearing the melody along with the words is the perfect presentation.
Yet the words stand alone.

Their richness blesses.

They are all Truth.