Christian Contentment

When, in a word, I write my
Contentment as a city
Founded by His Spirit
Whose boast is the cross

Whose streets are the Lord’s
Whose enterprises are the Lord’s
Whose possessions are the Lord’s
Whose provisions are the Lord’s

A city in which all is quieted in the Lord
All concerns are submitted to the Lord
All desires are centered in the Lord
All hopes are in the faithfulness of the Lord
All joy is found in the love of the Lord
All trust abounds in the goodness of the Lord

Then my soul glories in God my Savior alone
As enemies rail futilely against its walls
Fail to supplant the reign of the Lord
Every extremity under His sovereign control
Every lack a gain in grace upon grace
Every worry cast aside for the security of His promises
Every treasure in heaven stored from moth and rust and thieves

Then I am free to be satisfied in the Lord
Free to be satisfied with myself
Free to be part of the mystery
That is, Christ in me, the hope of glory.

Prayer for the New Year

Length of days does not profit me

Except the days are passed in Thy presence, in Thy service to Thy glory.

Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains

    Sanctifies, aids every hour,

That I might not be one moment apart from Thee, 

But may rely on thy Spirit

To supply every thought,

    Speak every word,

    Direct every step,

    Prosper every work,

    Build up every mote of faith,

And give me a desire

To show forth Thy praise,

    Testify Thy love,

    Advance Thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,

    With Thee, O Father, as my harbour,

    Thee O Son, at my helm,

    Thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.

Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,

    My lamp burning,

    My ear open to thy calls, 

    My heart full of love, my soul free.

Give me Thy grace to sanctify me,

    Thy comforts to cheer me,

    Thy wisdom to teach,

    Thy right hand to guide,

    Thy counsel to instruct,

    Thy law to judge,

Thy presence to stabilize.

May Thy fear* be my awe,

    Thy triumphs my joy.

From Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

* “fear” was used in this era of the 16th-17th century to mean “awesome respect” for God’s person, power and majesty.

In Sheer Joy

Ice Dawn by William Hays (Colour Linocut, 2010)

O LORD, sheer joy with you,
Israel, in exile Homeward bound
From among a people of strange tongue
Gone forth in sheer joy

Shouting Hallelujah!
Out of Egypt have I gone forth with you,
True and Faithful by name
In sheer Joy!

How heavy the moment
Is with eternity, Lord Jesus,
Yet each flows after the other
Like water escaping
The hand that captures
The eyes that see
The thoughts that would knot
Them into a jeweled chain
To be adorned not as memory
But as presence

Cradled birth, my life in your hands:
Tenderly kept as shepherd with lamb
Hurrying at angelic proclamations of peace
Heavens ringing hallelujahs
Your delight brooding over the waters
Breaking over this new life, moments Spirit-born

When come the magi bearing each —
On a camel fresh out of the box
Of ornaments and sweet scents
Frankincense and myrrh unpacked —
Mystery like knots unraveling sheer

Joy, O Lord! You give each new
Moment flowing rapidly bringing you
Nearer, sheer joy as I await the
Long-awaited coming in sheer joy!

Gaudete: Rejoice!

Jyoti Sahi (1944–), Holding the Flame of Fire, 2005. Kolkata, India.

Being found by You, I find everything:
the sky a brighter blue, the leaves a happier hue
of glistening green, the river’s melodious

sounds rising high and low, bandying mountain notes
to valley tunes, and sun-washed strands of ocean
shores joining moon-drawn tides of marshalled harmony.

Being known by You, I know everything:
Love stronger than Death, darkness overcome by Light,
Peace past understanding, Hope unbounded, Joy unspeakable,

Faith that Hell’s gates will assail in prayer, Strength of soul,
Patience through trials, Your Life eternal flowing
through me, Your Blood that washed every stain of sin.

Being loved by You, no other love compares:
not love of man or woman or child; not the charms of all
the world’s delights, not health nor fortune, not lands

nor houses, neither knowledge of every secret
on earth or above it, nor wisdom to confound
and bring to their knees every earthly might and power.

There’s nothing on earth for me if not for You:
there’s nothing in heaven if You be not there:
Mary’s little baby boy would be just another child

if he had not been You come down to earth, taking
on our flesh, suffering on earth the plight that is ours,
to give to us, Your children, by faith the glory that is Yours.

Maranatha.


The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday.

Gaudete, 16th Century Christmas Carol (wikipedia)

This Long November Day

This long November day
unravels, filaments of self
unthreaded spin in disarray
seek a coalescing glance
from Thee, my soul’s desire.

This long November night
defeats, malingers yesterdays
that moon in shallow doorways
guilt-shadowed, hammering refrains
that only Thy voice can silence.

Hasten to send Thou, Oh Lord, Thy Word,
Thy Light by day, by night, my sight
unblind, my thought overspread, unroll
yard by yard Thy seeded spring
in frozen heart by Thy Spirit’s warmth.

And then shall November night become
as day, November day as night unfurled
in Thy blanketing love, and like a traveler
who spies a bridge o’er torrents harsh, I’ll race
to cross encircling time, and so abide in Thee.

An Advent Song (For the First Sunday of Advent)

ADVENT STARRY NIGHT 5, Virginia Wieringa, Acrylic 2011

An Advent Song

Clothed in the armor of Your light
We walk by faith throughout the night
As darkness fades, so all earthly fear
With the long-awaited dawn, when You appear.

All the prophets spoke was true
All that they prophesied of You
We knew it then, we know it now
That every knee before You one day will bow.

In the fullness of time You came
As babe in manger, Jesus by name
Now ascended King, when You departed
You left us not alone, but the Holy Spirit imparted.

Yet out of our sight You reign on high
Until that day when You again come nigh
The dawn of that day we will shout and cheer
Not an eye will be dry when You, O Lord, draw near!

Now, Father, keep us faithful and strong
Singing ever onwards the Gospel song
Knowing it is the power of God to save
By believing in His Son whom to us You gave.


Romans 1:16 (NIV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

Galatians 4:4-6 (NASB) But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Lyrics: Psalm 121 (sung in Arabic) I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where my help comes from My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going from now until the end of time

In the malpaís

malpaís (spanish: mahl-pah-ees; lit. “badland”): an arid, rough barren landscape of lava flows difficult to traverse; image: A Juniper bush grows out of the lava beds at the Carrizozo Malpais

In the malpaís – the badland –
burning – a bird flew down
And on my right hand sat

His eyes spoke love, so complete
His feathers gentle gleamed, so glorious
Where sun beat heavy in the malpaís

His kingly talons dug into my flesh
Scored pain, bled wounds, I cried
scorched by heat in the malpaís

Yet the good song he sang as I died
Was one that filled my heart with joy,
With peace ne’er felt in the malpaís

In the malpaís – waiting –
once hopeless, condemned –
With my last breaths, enlivened I rise

Bald Eagle at El Malpais, New Mexico

Lamentations 3:16-25
He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.”
Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

Romans 15:8-13
For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs,
and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”
And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”
And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.”
And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Confession of a Bibliopole

*A bibliopole is a person who buys and sells books, especially rare ones.

This Dream recurs — I am the Bird —
Neither the Darkness — nor the Light —
Ranging over Estates of books
Endless — See one Book — now Ubiquitous — contains Life
Lights the Path —while others
Sound
Characterize
Reflect
Darken
Never overcome the Light


A recent post by a fellow blogger1 awakened me yet again to issues of abuse. Extremes of reaction and behavior caused by past abuse. Impossibly high standards it engenders. Unrealistic expectations. Childhood scars that reopen and bleed. Shedding these old habits of thought/behavior and clearing our lungs of them by achieving moderation does take time … but particularly time in the word of God. Diving deep and long, letting the Holy Spirit fill our lungs with His love so we can breathe more easily in our own skin. Theology is not a luxury but a necessity that God alone can provide through the special revelation that is His inerrant and infallible word. Through it we come to know that He is the Rock that is higher than all others, as the psalmist puts it, a fortress of peace, stability and safety. But more: He gives life, abundant life, His own, by uniting us with Himself, Emmanuel, God with us, the incarnate God, Christ Jesus. Finally, union with Christ is God’s divine life poured into us by His Spirit and we become a new creation, leaving the past behind, following a new path that leads to life eternal, and pressing on “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”2

Psalm 119:105 (KJV)
Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

John 8:12
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 1:5
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 6:68
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2Phillipians 3:12,14
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. … I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.


1Anna Waldherr writes at A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse: her most recent post is “Of Ogres and Onions”

Continue reading “Confession of a Bibliopole”

Note to a Vandal

PHOTO PROMPT © Brenda Cox

Genre: Poetry; Word count: 100

Note to a Vandal

Named demon by my father,
taught life’s grammar by brute force,
think you to disassemble me by calumny,
emblazoning my property green,
as if the seen shames more than the unseen?

Are you a vandal? Are you meretricious?
Would foster evil greater than mother’s blame,
beat harder than a rod of pain?
Have stakes driven through my heart?
It’s been done.

Yet long before fists of flesh, eyes of stone,
Love upon a Cross of wood claimed me;
I, hidden in Him, rose with Him,
live by faith, by grace, enjoy eternal life in Him.

Grace, mercy, peace, my friend.


Host Rochelle Wisoff-Fields of Friday Fictioneers provides us with this week’s photo prompt and reminds us that “November 9–10, 1938, Nazi leaders unleashed a series of pogroms against the Jewish population in Germany and recently incorporated territories. This event became known as Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) because of the shattered glass that littered the streets after the vandalism and destruction of Jewish-owned businesses, synagogues, and homes. This was only the beginning of one of the most barbaric and vicious times in recent history. We say ‘never again.’ But.…” Rochelle shares a video link to Auschwitz concentration camp survivor, Dr. Edith Eger, who experienced survivor’s guilt, attaining peace towards the end of her life, and who says at one point in the short seven-minute talk: “When you share your secret, you are no longer in the concentration camp that is in your own mind.”

This Sunday, November 6, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, when you are invited to pray with those around the world for persecuted Christians, currently the most persecuted religious group in the world. The group Open Doors USA figures that 360 million Christians last year lived in countries where persecution was “significant.” Roughly 5,600 Christians were murdered, more than 6,000 were detained or imprisoned, and another 4,000-plus were kidnapped. In addition, more than 5,000 churches and other religious facilities were destroyed.

Continue reading “Note to a Vandal”

My Song

Genre: Poetry; Word Count: 100

poem and audio reading of “Why Am I?” ℗©2022 Dora A.K

Threads torn from a silk tapestry
a nightingale on branch of tree

Belong in other songs and rhymes
Of emperors with preternatural pastimes.

I pick my threads from a homespun quilt
Of gospel truth that frees from guilt.

It tells of One who died and rose
To save from sins and lies expose.

It warns that wealth hoarded in greed
Should be shared with those in need.

Here I sit under branch and sky
Little to my name, just this tune to ply.

At the end of my days, I’ve nothing to grieve:
it’s better to give than to receive.


Acts 20:35 NIV
[Paul said,] “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak,
remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said:
‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

Continue reading “My Song”

The Structure of Things

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Feeling a little ambitious today with three prompts for the price of one: Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneer’s photo prompt (100-word story), Sammi’s 13 Days of Samhain (“The Cheek of the Devil”) and Thursday’s Six Sentence Story (“Structure”). Enjoy!

Word/Sentence Count: 100 words/6 sentences; Genre: Fiction

The Structure of Things

“Mom, that lady was rude and you just let her walk without telling her off!!”

Ruth considers her outraged child.

She picks up the broken glass structure at her feet, says quietly, “I’ve always taught you to turn the other cheek, haven’t I? Someone’s got to be the first to take the hate, stop it from spreading, and I can, because Christ gives me that power.”

“But Mom, if you keep turning the other cheek, it just keeps getting bloodied!”

“Like our Master’s on the cross, and whose cheek would you rather have, Christ’s or the cheek of the Devil?”


Matthew 5:38-45:
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.

For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Hope

“Hope is the thing with feathers” – Emily Dickinson

Here’s that feathery
thing called hope again

hopping broken-winged
by stained glass as if

it could sing anew what
once in dawn’s Easter light

drew eyes to see
what the blind cannot.

*

Here it comes, ungainly, careful
of metal shards, rusty gins

of despair, pain-heaving,
the cover drawn

over buried
septic spaces, tucked fast

in stoic dissension
against bruised faith’s cries.

*

How can it be, yet it is, that limping
hope approaches still in song as if

broken wings can yet embrace
a feeble soul, shy now of inflaming

prayer yet unanswered, pinions raised
uncrippled, as if what’s seen is the unseen,

the King upon his Throne with the wounded
by His side to raise to heights unknown.


Matthew 12:18, 20
“Behold, my Servant … a bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not quench ….”

Romans 15:13 (NIV)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Painting by Tamara Natalie Madden (1975-2017); for more on this artist and her work, click here.

Love Ran Through His Island Heart

“Without hope we live on in desire.”
Sanza speme vivemo in disio.

Dante, Inferno, Canto IV, line 42

Love ran through his island heart
From springes freed took flight
Left swallows’ cries of yesteryears
Desire-torn in apple-bright

Bone-white his wings that beat the air
And strain bent low his neck
Wind beat hard his sinews bare
Yet Hope grew clear his sight

Quiet-warmed as kingly deer by brook
Calm shattered shivers of doubt
Drawn unseen through cloud and dark
Dew-quenched his thirsting heart

Love and Hope together sang
He heard their various strain
Not far the wing-breadths that remained
To reach the One he loved.


“That without hope we live on in desire”
The pagan poet found
But pity more each one whose fire
Burns for themselves alone.


Before Canto 4 of the Inferno where the pilgrim Dante is introduced to the virtuous pagans among whom is his guide through Hell, the poet Virgil himself, Dante first crosses the gate of Hell whereon he sees inscribed, “Abandon hope all who enter here” (Canto 3). Here, he sees the first sinners in Hell, a craven company who lived for themselves, filled with envious desires, whom Virgil describes as “the sorry souls of those who lived without infamy or praise. They are mingled with that base band of angels who were neither rebellious nor faithful to God, but stood apart.” Being disengaged from the battle, this endless line of souls have no hope of death’s oblivion, “mercy and justice disdain them. Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass on” (trans. Charles S. Singleton). Virgil won’t even name them for they have reduced reality, reduced the world to a show, a spectacle for their own amusement. These rage and wail as swarms of stinging wasps and flies follow them and worms engorge on their blood. In contrast the virtuous pre-Christian pagans whom Dante meets next in Limbo live in a bucolic garden, their great sadness, desiring yet remaining apart from God.

Continue reading “Love Ran Through His Island Heart”

Dawn Worship

A-lone, a-bed, a need to rise,
arise, remembering, sighing to rise
sight aroused, upraised

dawn-drawn
in fulness of cloud
tears of consummation, gathering

gathering, a communion of praise
for One whose work completed
upgathers to raise me, to rise,

arise, walk in new life.


Luke 5: 18-26 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he said to the man who was paralyzed–“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.”

And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God.

And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”


To use the word "work" in a quadrille of 44 words is our Labor Day task from Lisa at dVerse. My labor? To look on the work of Christ Jesus upon the Cross for all who believe in Him. 

Gaudete Sunday: Light the Candle of Joy

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione et obsecratione cum gratiarum actione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob. [“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.”] Philippians 4:4–6; Psalm 85 (84):1

The incipit for the Gregorian chant introit from which Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, gets its name.
James Tissot, “The Magi Journeying” (c. 1890)

The Journey of the Magi

The nativity creche sits under the tree
Not of cypress or palm, but a fragrant fir;
Out in the hall, the magi make their way each day
A few feet closer, here in the dead of winter.

We catch our toddler chewing on a magus
Whose eyes, pointed up to the ceiling,
Now contain the consternation of ages
Before being released to his camels.

The five-year-old wants to know why
The magi can’t fast-travel to the manger
Their journey so slow and prey to perils
Between them and what they seek.

“We’re taking care of them, aren’t we?”
The nine-year-old says, retrieving an errant
Praying magus from the bathtub, bobbing
Beside duckie and the inconsiderate toddler.

Each advent day they get closer to the Desire
Of nations, the Messiah born to save His people
And on Christmas, they’ll be nearer, in the doorway
Rejoicing in expectation of welcoming their King.

Break, break the splitting cataracts

Break, break the splitting cataracts
Send skin-sharp torrents to set free
Remold with Spirit-sinew mottled clay
Jarring-fiery Sinai-thunderous
The deep unseen core.

Hide me there upon the Rock
See me a revelry of particulate force
Lifting light, water, earth, and air
Across a timeless mist of song.

You, O God, who overflows my praise
Falling upon sun-spun life baptized
Fathomless One who fathoms me
To dance in the compass of Thy heart
Break, break the splitting cataracts!

Fay Collins, “Full Spate,” Lodore Falls, oil on board

Sarah at dVerse asks us for an ekphrastic poem, "to choose a picture, and let it inspire your words," with the picture being one by artist Fay Collins. Click on Mr. Linky and join in!

Lilies of the Field

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Luke 12:27)

There is no nonsense about them
These increments of light
Sun-warmed stalks and petals,
Reducing to ornate shabbiness, palaces and temples,
Gaudy shacks of industry, mirrors of acquisition
While these Easter-birthed seeds burst otherworldly
All-gathering the vindicating Light
The Being uncanny borne by fragile forms, mortal all,
Sometimes dowdy, bent, dreary,
Sometimes bold, speckled, flashy,
Zealous, winsome, or hard-pressed
Between cracks of broken pavements
Yet there all the same:
Seven thousands of unbowed knees
Introduced by design, awakened, sent out
As an offense to be discarded or tolerated,
Eliciting smile, laughter, scorn, booted heel,
These refugees offering refuge immortal
These exiles rushing homeward
This desire of sun:
These lilies of the field.


For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. (Psalm 26:3)

[And the LORD said to Elijah:] “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18)

Björn at dVerse prompts us to write using a conceit:"A conceit is defined as an extended and complex metaphor that creates that apart from creating an element of surprise. If a metaphor is used to enhance imagery the conceit is better suited to describe an intricate metaphysical or emotional subject." Click on Mr. Linky to read and join in!

Cee's FOTD (Flower of the Day) November 4, 2021: Daisy
Click on any image above for a slideshow. Images ©dorahak

Journey (4)

A lone tree
alone tree

parched finger roots on limestone
see:

above the clay
careening

this Rock has a hold on me

as winds, storms buffet free pride
of trunk unbent:

steady in heat of day, laboring:
oh Lord my God, I thank Thee.


Image credit: Splitshire.com
Lillian at dVerse Quadrille (44 words) prompts us with the word "careen"
Click on Mr. Linky to join in!

On the Rudbeckia hirta

Gladsome we,
though our end be
to your eye decaying fury
our first blooms a surprising mystery:
purple-centered flaming glory
darkening to what you didn’t foresee
autumn’s legion embers a dreary
inventory.


2 Corinthians 4:16-18
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient,
but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Cee's Flower of the Day (FOTD) October 17, 2021:
check out her incredible photography.
Sammi's Weekend Writing Prompt #231 - "Legion"
write prose or poetry in 32 words using the above word.