Return to Radnor Lake

“There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature” (Henry David Thoreau).

Of all the choices and decisions I’ve made of late, precious few were any better than returning to Radnor Lake for a hike.

It’s been way too long since I last had a good long hike into nature and away from the things of man. I relish the quiet calm of nature, listening to my own thoughts, but more often listening to the still small voices of nature.

It almost seems like to speak would be to profane the sacred silence around me, so I often keep quiet and try to pay attention. Those two qualities work well not just on a hike but in any suitable occasion.

I counted 11 deer, plus countless squirrels, some turkeys, a swimming muskrat, and a busy little woodpecker. On the whole, the hike lived up to my expectations.

I often wonder if this current culture isn’t allergic to silence. You never hear dead air in any media format. People will fill any kind of silence with inane talk and chatter. It’s like we’re (me included) addicted to noise.

But there’s something curative and refreshing about peace, silence, quiet, and nature. I’m sure Thoreau was onto something with Walden Pond.

More Good Music

I recently rediscovered the early solo recordings of one Rod Stewart.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of just about everything he’s ever done, starting way back with the Jeff Beck Group and The Small Faces all the way to the present.

But there’s something about the Mercury recordings he did that are magical. I think most people will agree that Maggie May is a classic. There are plenty of other gems from this era, including Reason to Believe, You Wear it Well, and Mandolin Wind, among others.

I listen to these recordings and most of them sound fresh. Maybe it’s because they sound a lot like the Americana/Roots music coming out these days. Maybe ol’ Rod was ahead of his time.

It’s just good driving during rush hour/laying in bed with your headphone on/road trip/anywhere music.

Here’s the link if you’re interested:

Do Thou for Me

“Do Thou for me, O God the Lord,
Do Thou for me.
I need not toil to find the word
That carefully
Unfolds my prayer and offers it,
My God, to Thee.

It is enough that Thou wilt do,
And wilt not tire,
Wilt lead by cloud, all the night through
By light of fire,
Till Thou has perfected in me
Thy heart’s desire.

For my beloved I will not fear,
Love knows to do
For him, for her, from year to year,
As hitherto.
Whom my heart cherishes are dear
To Thy heart too.

O blessèd be the love that bears
The burden now,
The love that frames our very prayers,
Well knowing how
To coin our gold.  O God the Lord,
Do Thou, Do Thou” (Amy Carmichael).

There are times when we simply don’t know how to pray for a circumstance or a loved one. Try as we may, the words will not come.

I think even then God hears the groans and sighs of our petitions and knows what they mean. He hears the deepest desires of our hearts and knows best how to grant them.

Even when we have words, they aren’t always the best ones. Sometimes, we ask without such a limited point of view. Sometimes we ask selfishly. Sometimes we have too small a view of God and ask too little.

In Jan Karon’s Mitford series, Father Tim Kavanaugh always has his go-to prayer, or “the prayer that never fails,” as he calls it. The prayer goes “Thy will be done.”

You can never go wrong with leaving the matter in God’s hands.

Nail-Pierced Hands

“I have cast my anchor in the port of peace, knowing that present and future are in nail-pierced hands” (from The Valley of Vision).

If ever we needed a port of peace, it’s now.

I can’t remember a more surreal and unsettled time than 2020 has been so far. It feels like all the constants I trusted in in this world have gone away– at least temporarily. My routine has been decidedly messed up.

Right now, I don’t know that this pandemic mess will ever end. It certainly doesn’t feel like it.

But I know that no matter what my feelings tell me, my hope is in nail-pierced hands.

That’s where my true peace lies.

Hello, August

2020 has been a strange year. I had a moment when I was looking around Stein-Mart expecting to see 4th of July apparel when it dawned on me that we celebrated that holiday almost a whole month ago. Oops.

Hello, August. My brain keeps trying to tell me that it’s May or June, but the weather makes it feel like late September. But it really is August.

For me, that means that fall is getting closer. It also means that we here in Tennessee have another two full months of summer and sweating left.

I’m not a fan of the Sweating, but I’ll take it so that I don’t skip over any of the days that God gives me. Who knows what I might miss?

Also, I’m ready for this pandemic to be over. I don’t want anybody else to get sick. I don’t want anybody else to die. Yes, I will wear my mask when I’m out and about (even if it increases the sweatiness). Yes, I will keep praying for God to eradicate this virus.

All that to say once more: Hello, August. Please don’t be extra weird.

A Long Overdue Doctor Who Update

I just realized this evening that it’s been a while since the last update on my quest to watch all the Doctor who episodes for the second time. I know you all have been pining away for more information, so here it is.

I am up to Doctor #12, played by Peter Capaldi. His current companion is the lovely Clara, played by Jenna Coleman (who may or may not be my new top living celebrity crush).

It’s still quirky and very British. There are still weird looking aliens and otherworldly destinations. Of course, there’s still the Tardis, that time travel ship disguised as a 50’s era police box.

It still blows my mind that Doctor Who has been around for 56 years and remained hugely popular. Even during the “wilderness” years when it was off the air, it still had a multitude of loyal fans due to books and audio adventures and fan fests.

Hopefully, it will be around a while longer. Also hopefully, it won’t take as long for my next update. Sorry about that.

Something Original

For the first time in a little while, I decided to write something down that was completely original and without quoting anybody else. Since the last two posts were almost completely unoriginal, I thought it was about time.

I want to give you just one takeaway: you are enough.

You may not feel like it.

You may be feeling completely inadequate, like you’re failing at life. You may feel like you’ve permanently missed your calling in life and given up on any semblance of your dreams.

You are enough.

How do I know? God says so.

He says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. He says that you are engraved on the palms of His hands. He says that you were worth dying for.

Yes, you. You with the million and one unfinished goals and projects. You who are still afraid to break out of the life you hate and try something new. You who are living an unfulfilled and “safe” life but who yearn for something a little more dangerous that will make you come alive.

You are enough.

God’s not done with you. The fact that you woke up today is proof. The fact that you’re not okay with status quo and the same ol’ same ol’ means that you long to live out God’s dream for you instead of your own.

You are enough.

God has promised that He will complete the very work He started in you long ago, long before you or your father or your father’s father were conceived. He calls you His masterpiece, and He never leaves masterpieces unfinished.

So remember that no matter how you feel about yourself that God thinks you are very good. He thinks you are worth loving. He thinks you are enough.

You are enough.

Ask Of Me Part II

E. M. Bounds was one of the wisest writers when it came to the subject of prayer. You can Google his name and find out about the revival that came about out of his faithful obedience (along with his congregation) to praying for God’s fire to fall.

Here’s more of what he wrote so long ago:

The Secret of Success

    Prayer became a settled and only condition to move His Son’s kingdom. ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you‘ (Matt. 7:7).

    The strongest one in Christ’s kingdom is he who is the best knocker. The secret of success in Christ’s kingdom is the ability to pray. The one who can wield the power of prayer is the strong one, the holy one in Christ’s kingdom. The most important lesson we can learn is how to pray.

    Prayer is the keynote of the most sanctified life, of the holiest ministry. He does the most for God who is the highest skilled in prayer. Jesus Christ exercised His ministry after this order.

    Robert Hall has said, ‘The prayer of faith is the only power in the universe to which the Great Jehovah yields. Prayer is the sovereign remedy.’

    More time for prayer, more relish and preparation to meet God, to commune with God through Christ – this has in it the whole of the matter. Our manner and matter of praying ill become us. The attitude and relationship of God and the Son are the eternal relationship of Father and Son, of asking and giving – the Son always asking, the Father always giving.

    And Jesus is to be always praying through His people. We must prepare ourselves to pray; to be like Christ, to pray like Christ.

    Man’s access in prayer to God opens everything, and makes his impoverishment his wealth. All things are his through prayer. The wealth and the glory – all things are Christ’s. As the light grows brighter and prophets take in the nature of the restoration, the divine record seems to be enlarged.

    …Why then does sin so long reign? Why are the oath-bound covenant promises so long in coming to their gracious end? Sin reigns, Satan reigns, sighing marks the lives of many; all tears are fresh and full.

We Have Not Prayed

    Why is all this so? We have not prayed to bring the evil to an end; we have not prayed as we must pray. We have not met the conditions of prayer.

    ‘Ask of Me.‘ Ask of God. We have not rested on prayer. We have not made prayer the sole condition. There has been violation of the primary condition of prayer. We have not prayed aright. We have not prayed at all. God is willing to give, but we are slow to ask. The Son, through His saints, is ever praying and God the Father is ever answering.

    ‘Ask of Me.’ In the invitation is conveyed the assurance of answer; the shout of victory is there and may be heard by the listening ear. The Father holds the authority and power in His hands. How easy is the condition, and yet how long are we in fulfilling the conditions. Nations are in bondage. The uttermost parts of the earth are still unpossessed. The earth groans; the world is still in bondage. Satan and evil hold sway.

    The Father holds Himself in the attitude of Giver. ‘Ask of Me,’ and that petition to God the Father empowers all agencies, inspires all movements. The Gospel is divinely inspired. Back of all its inspirations is prayer. “Ask of Me” lies back of all movements. Standing as the endowment of the enthroned Christ is the oath-bound covenant of the Father: ‘Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.

    Ever are the prayers of holy men streaming up to God as fragrant as the richest incense. And God in many ways is speaking to us, declaring His wealth and our impoverishment. “I am the Maker of all things; the wealth and glory are Mine….”

    We can do all things by God’s aid, and can have the whole of His aid by asking. The Gospel, in its success and power, depends on our ability to pray. The dispensations of God depend on man’s ability to pray. We can have all that God has. …This is no figment of the imagination, no idle dream, no vain fancy. The life of the church is the highest life. Its office is to pray. Its prayer life is the highest life, the most fragrant, the most conspicuous.

But We Emphasize Other Things

    When we calmly reflect upon the fact that the progress of our Lord’s kingdom is dependent upon prayer, it is sad to think that we give so little time to the holy exercise. Everything depends upon prayer, and yet we neglect it not only to our own spiritual hurt but also to the delay and injury of our Lord’s cause upon earth.

    The forces of good and evil are contending for the world. If we would, we could add to the conquering power of the army of righteousness, and yet our lips are sealed, our hands hang listlessly by our side, and we jeopardize the very cause in which we profess to be deeply interested by holding back from the prayer chamber.

    Prayer is the one prime, eternal condition by which the Father is pledged to put the Son in possession of the world. Christ prays through His people. Had there been importunate, universal and continuous prayer by God’s people, long ere this the earth had been possessed for Christ. The delay is not to be accounted for by the deep-rooted obstacles, but by the lack of the right asking.

    We do more of everything else than of praying. As poor as our giving is, our contributions of money exceed our offerings of prayer. Perhaps in the average congregation fifty aid in paying, where one saintly, ardent soul shuts itself up with God and wrestles for the deliverance of the heathen world. Official praying on set or state occasions counts for nothing in this estimate. We emphasize other things more than we do the necessity of prayer.

The World Needs More True Praying

    We are saying prayers after an orderly way, but we have not the world in the grasp of our faith. We are not praying after the order that moves God and brings all divine influences to help us. The world needs more true praying to save it from the reign and ruin of Satan!

    We do not pray as Elijah prayed. John Foster puts the whole matter to a practical point. ‘When the church of God,’ he says, ‘is aroused to its obligation and duties and right faith to claim what Christ has promised – ‘all things whatsoever’ (Matt. 21:22) – a revolution will take place.’

    But not all praying is praying. The driving power, the conquering force in God’s cause is God Himself. ‘Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not’ (Jer. 33:3) – is God’s challenge to prayer. Prayer puts God in full force into God’s work.

    …Faith is only omnipotent when on its knees, and its outstretched hands take hold of God. Then it draws to the utmost of God’s capacity. Only a praying faith can get God’s ‘all things whatsoever.

    Wonderful lessons are the importunate widow, the Syrophenician woman, and the friend at midnight, of what dauntless prayer can do in mastering or defying conditions, in changing defeat into victory and triumphing in the regions of despair. Oneness with Christ, the peak of spiritual attainment, is glorious in all things; most glorious in that we can then ‘Ask what [we] will and it shall be done unto [us]’ (John 15:7). Prayer in Jesus’ name puts the crowning crown on God, because it glorifies Him through the Son and pledges the Son to give to men ‘whatsoever‘ and ‘anything‘ they shall ask.

    In the New Testament the marvelous prayer of the Old Testament is put to the front that it may provoke and stimulate our praying, and it is preceded with a declaration, the dynamic energy of which we can scarcely translate. ‘The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit‘ (Jas. 5:16-18).

    The smallness of our results, the cause of all leanness, is solved by the Apostle James – ‘Ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts [pleasures]‘ (Jas. 4:2-3).

    This is the whole truth in a nutshell” (E. M. Bounds).

    From Purpose In Prayer by E. M. Bounds.

Ask of Me

This has to be one of the most powerful and passionate pieces ever written about prayer. Hopefully, this will inspire you no matter where you are to pray without ceasing and to not lose heart, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

“Prayer, in one phase of its operation, is a disinfectant and a preventive. It purifies the air; it destroys the contagion of evil. Prayer is no fitful, short-lived thing. It is no voice crying unheard and unheeded in the silence. It is a voice which goes into God’s ear, and it lives as long as God’s ear is open to holy pleas, as long as God’s heart is alive to holy things.

    God shapes the world by prayer. Prayers are deathless. The lips that uttered them may be closed in death, the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat, but the prayers live before God, and God’s heart is set on them and prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world.

    That man is the most immortal who has done the most and the best praying. They are God’s heroes, God’s saints, God’s servants, God’s vicegerents. A man can pray better because of the prayers of the past. A man can live holier because of the prayers of the past.

The Best Heritage to Leave

    The man of many and acceptable prayers has done the truest and greatest service to the incoming generation. The prayers of God’s saints strengthen the unborn generation against the desolating waves of sin and evil. Woe to the generation of sons who find their censers empty of the rich incense of prayer; whose fathers have been too busy or too unbelieving to pray, and perils inexpressible and consequences untold are their unhappy heritage. Fortunate are they whose fathers and mothers have left them a wealthy patrimony of prayer.

Effect of Prayer in Heaven

    The prayers of God’s saints are the capital stock in heaven by which Christ carries on His great work upon earth. The great throes and mighty convulsions on earth are the results of these prayers. Earth is changed, revolutionized, angels move on more powerful, more rapid wing, and God’s policy is shaped as the prayers are more numerous, more efficient.

    It is true that the mightiest successes that come to God’s cause are created and carried on by prayer. God’s day of power; the angelic days of activity and power are when God’s church comes into its mightiest inheritance of mightiest faith and mightiest prayer.

    God’s conquering days are when the saints have given themselves to mightiest prayer. When God’s house on earth is a house of prayer, then God’s house in heaven is busy and all-potent in its plans and movements, then His earthly armies are clothed with the triumphs and spoils of victory and His enemies defeated on every hand.

    God conditions the very life and prosperity of His cause on prayer. The condition was put in the very existence of God’s cause in this world. ‘Ask of Me‘ is the one condition God puts in the very advance and triumph of His cause. Men are to pray – to pray for the advance of God’s cause. Prayer puts God in full force in the world.

    To a prayerful man God is present in realized force; to a prayerful church God is present in glorious power. The Second Psalm is the divine description of the establishment of God’s cause through Jesus Christ. All inferior dispensations have merged in the enthronement of Jesus Christ. God declares the enthronement of His Son. The nations are incensed with bitter hatred against His cause. God is described as laughing at their enfeebled hate.

    “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. …Yet have I set My king upon My holy hill of Zion.” The decree has passedimmutable and eternal:

    ‘I will declare the decree: The Lord hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel’ (Psa. 2:4-9).

    ‘Ask of Me‘ is the condition – a praying people willing and obedient. Under this universal and simple promise, men and women of old laid themselves out for God. They prayed and God answered their prayers, and the cause of God was kept alive in the world by the flame of their praying” (E. M. Bounds).

Before You Cancel

“How easily we forget that the church was founded by disciples who betrayed their master. None was willing to stand by Jesus as the religious and political authorities condemned him to death. At his moment of greatest need, the disciples fled in the darkness. The boldest of the lot, Peter, was the very one who cursed and denied him three times before the cock crew. It was for traitors that Jesus died” (Philip Yancey, Soul Survivor).

It seems to be quite trendy in this day and age to cancel people. When someone famous says or does anything inappropriate or un-PC, the tendency is to write that person off.

It doesn’t matter whether the offending statement or tweet or post was from last night or from 20 years ago, that person is automatically and forevermore a bigot, a homophobe, a misogynist, or just a bad human being.

We are now living in the cancel culture, but that is not the Christ culture that Jesus calls His followers to live out.

Before you write someone else off, remember how many times you yourself have needed grace. Remember how many times you deserved to be written off and cancelled for your poor choices and dumb mistakes. Remember how often when you were tempted to give up on yourself, God didn’t.

We’re called not to karma but to grace. Karma says that you get what you deserve. Grace says that Jesus got what you deserve and He gives you what He alone deserves.

Remember that Jesus forgave His enemies and betrayers. Not only that, He forgave them while they were in the very middle of murdering Him.

That’s the kind of grace and mercy that transforms criminals into Christians, betrayers into believers, and deniers into disciples. That’s the kind of grace you and I need, as well as the kind we need to show.

Not My Will

“We must believe that the Lord can do anything if he wants to. Yet in the garden of Gethsemane, the Lord prayed, ‘Not my will, but your will be done.’ Even though Jesus knew he had to drink the cup of suffering, he nevertheless prayed to be spared. And then the angel strengthened him. Likewise, if we pray earnestly, it may be that an angel will quietly strengthen us so that we may bear whatever is laid on us. And, as is so often the case, the Lord may even provide more than what we need, beyond our expectation. If we pray with unceasing, childlike faith, and if it is God’s will, the Lord will let us see his glory revealed in deed and miracle. ‘If you are willing, you can do it’ is the prayer of all those who fear him. And in his great wisdom, the Lord will say, ‘I am willing’” (Johann Christoph Blumhardt, The God Who Heals).

The question is not can God answer my prayer, but do I believe God can answer my prayer?

I have to confess that much of the time, I don’t think He can. Or I don’t think He will.

I either doubt God’s sovereign greatness or his supreme goodness.

But He can.

The beauty of prayer is that it’s not the size of my faith but the source of my faith that gets prayers answered. Even a mustard seed amount of faith in a great God can accomplish great and mighty things, because it’s the great God who does them, not me.

The most powerful prayer in all the world is, “Not my will but yours.”

An Unexpected Anniversary

Ok, so 2020 has thrown a few people for a loop, including me. No one saw the pandemic coming. No one saw all the racial unrest reaching a breaking point. Also, did anyone have murder hornets and bears with nunchuck skills down for 2020? No? Me neither.

In the midst of all the insanity, I realized that today is the 10th anniversary of this little blog posts that I’ve been creating. Honestly, it took Facebook memories to show me that it’s been 10 years.

Right now, time is meaningless. I have pretty much no idea what day or month it is right now unless I have some sort of calendar or phone handy. I also have little to no concept of time passing.

Thankfully, I have Timehop and those Facebook memories. So many ideas for blog posts come from those helpful little reminders.

I say it all the time, but I’ll say it again. I’d write these things even if the only two readers were me and dear ol’ Mom. Even if it were just me writing to myself, it’d be worth it.

I’m grateful for every single person who reads these. I find out all the time about people who are readers of my posts who I never would have guessed would have picked out my silly little blogsite.

Also, I’m still not a fan of the word blog. It sounds like something you do privately that you don’t discuss in mixed company or in proper conversations. Kinda like politics and religion.

Still, I hope to keep it going for at least another 10 years (or until I get an actual life). Thanks again for reading these! You are all awesome!