Wednesday, January 31, 2018

He Is Calling Us Today

"He will gather the lambs in His arm,
He will carry them in His bosom."
Isaiah 40:11

His Constant Care
A painting by Simon Dewey

Little children, come away,
From the Savior do not stray:
He is calling us today,
Calling us to Him.

Quickly come, gladly come,
From the Savior do not stray;
Quickly come, O gladly come,
He is calling us today.

Little children once He blest,
Laid them in His arms to rest;
He of all our friends the best,
Bids us come to Him.


Heed His saying, "Come to Me";
Happy then we all shall be;
None can give us life but He,
Come, O come to Him.


"Little Children Come Away"
Words by Fanny Crosby

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

January's Grand Finale: Super Blue Blood Moon & Lunar Eclipse

"The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours;
the world and all that is in it, You have founded them."
Psalm 89:11

Weather pending, early risers on the East Coast 
tomorrow morning, the last day of January,
 may catch a glimpse of the moon
during the full lunar eclipse. The last time a
"Super Blue Blood Moon" appeared in the night sky
 was one hundred-and-fifty-two years ago, 
in the year 1866.

 Super Blue Blood Moon

This first month of the new year has already seen one full cycle of the moon.
Wednesday the moon will be full once again, and because lovely Luna
 will be nearer to the earth, she will appear a lot larger than average,
thus she'll be a super blue moon sailing across the heavens.

A Blood Moon occurs when the Moon passes directly behind the Earth and
into its umbra.  This can only occur when the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth
are completely aligned with the Earth passing through the center between 
the Moon and the Sun.  This celestial alignment will give the full moon
a reddish cast, and will be visible for much of planet Earth,
with sky watchers in the western half of the United States, Asia, and Australia
receiving the grandest viewing of the celestial glory of Elohim.

At this moment in my area on the East Coast of the United States,
we are having a snowstorm!  I have heard that the full moon generally
effects the ocean tides as well as the weather, so, as far as any eclipse
viewing goes, I guess I will have to wait and see what happens!

Personally, while I love looking at the full moon and watching
a lunar eclipse, I would rather have lots of snow!

"Howdy Neighbor"
A painting by Richard DeWolfe

"Let It Snow"
Dean Martin

Tu B'Shvat, 5778

Tu B'shvat, known as the New Year of the Trees,
begins tonight at sundown in Israel. 

Almond Blossoms

Translated from Hebrew, Tu B'shvat literally means,
"the fifteenth day of the month of Shvat" which
coincides with the middle of the rainy season there,
when flowering almond trees begin
to bloom across the land.

In biblical times, this day marked the end of
the annual taxation of fruit, or the 10% tithe that
was paid to servants in the Temple and the poor.

In more recent times, Tu B'Shvat  is observed with the
planting of new trees by Israeli schoolchildren, 
 mirroring annual Arbor Day activities held
in America.  This day is also celebrated with a
special Seder meal, featuring four different types of wine,
from white to dark red, as well as four different types of fruit.

A beautiful Almond tree in bloom near Mt. Meron,
 the second largest mountain in Israel.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Keep Shining

"Let your light so shine before men
that they may see your moral excellence
and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds
and recognize and honor and praise and glorify
your Father Who is in heaven."
Matthew 5:17

Christ's Baptism By John
A painting by Korean artist
 Woonbo Kim Ki-chang 

This verse was dramatically illustrated when we were
missionaries in Vietnam during the war. While our husbands
were away from home, a missionary friend and I were invited by
a Korean general to an important military ceremony.

The only women amidst thousands of Korean, Vietnamese
and American troops, we sat on the reviewing stand with
the three-nation generals to watch the elaborate ceremonies
and observe the presentation of medals to individuals and units.
Later, after hors d' oeuvres, we were among the guests
 selected to receive lovely gifts.

Still thoroughly mystified as to why we had been invited, we
were conducted to the general's mess where we ate a sumptuous
meal on crested china and gold-plated flatware.

Finally, at the end of the meal, the Korean general called for
his interpreter and, after polite opening conversation on both sides,
said to me, "I am sure you are wondering why I invited you here today!"
He continued with this remarkable comment: "When I was a small
boy in Korea, an America lady missionary led me to Jesus Christ,
and I never had an opportunity to thank her. So, wherever I go,
I look up the missionaries and honor them!"

There are no doubt many who have illuminated our paths
through this life. As we are obedient to His command there will
be those whose lives we may brighten. Let your light so shine!

Jesus Calls His First Disciples
A painting by Korean artist
 Woonbo Kim Ki-chang 

"Keep Shining"
By Charlotte Stemple
Christian Missionary and Writer

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Beauty For Ashes

"The spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed and qualified me
to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the
meek, the poor, and afflicted...
To grant consolation and joy to those who mourn
in give them an ornament of beauty instead of ashes..."
Isaiah 61:1,3

Daniel Gerhartz

I sing the love of God, my Father,
Whose Spirit abides within,
Who changes all my grief to gladness,
And pardons me all my sin.
Though clouds may lower, dark and dreary,
Yet He has promised to be near;
He gives me sunshine for my shadow,
And "beauty for ashes" here.

He gives me joy in place of sorrow;
He gives me love that casts out fear
He gives me sunshine for my shadow,
And "beauty for ashes" here.

I sing the love of God, my Savior,
Who suffered upon the tree,
That, in the secret of His presence,
My bondage might freedom be.
He comes "to bind the brokenhearted";
He comes the fainting soul to cheer;
He gives me, "oil of joy" for mourning,
And "beauty for ashes" here.

I sing the beauty of the Gospel
That scatters, not thorns, but flowers,
That bid me scatter smiles and sunbeams
Wherever are lonely hours.
The "garment of His praise" it offers
For "heaviness of spirit" drear;
It gives me sunshine for my shadow
And "beauty for ashes" here.

"Crown of Beauty"
Daniel Gerhartz

"Beauty For Ashes"
Lyrics and Music by
 John G. Crabbe

Fourth Sunday Meditation: The Strength Of My Heart And My Portion Forever

"Pride goeth before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall."
Proverbs 16:18

Dear Father,
Guard our hearts from the sin of pride.

A Psalm of Asaph

Truly God is only good to Israel, even to those
who are upright and pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet were almost gone,
my steps had well-nigh slipped.

For I was envious of the foolish and arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

For they suffer no violent pangs in their death,
but their strength is firm.

They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they
smitten and plagued like other men.

Therefore pride is about their necks like a chain;
violence covers them like a garment, like a long luxurious robe.

Their eyes stand out with fatness, they have more than heart
could wish; and the imaginations of their minds overflow with follies.

They scoff and wickedly utter oppression; they speak loftily
from on high, maliciously and blasphemously,

They set their mouths against and speak down from heaven,
and their tongues swagger through the earth, invading heaven
with blasphemy and smearing earth with slanders.

Therefore His people return here, and waters of a full cup,
offered by the wicked, are blindly drained by them.

And they say, How does God know? Is there knowledge
in the Most High?

Behold, these are the ungodly, who always prosper and are
at ease in the world; they increase in riches.

Surely then in vain have I cleansed my heart and washed
my hands in innocency.

For all day long have I been smitten and plagued,
and chastened every morning.

Had I spoken thus and given expression to my feelings,
I would have been untrue and have dealt treacherously against
the generation of Your children.

But when I considered how to understand this, it was too
great an effort for me and too painful.

Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood for
I considered their end.

After all, You do set the wicked in slippery places;
You cast them down to ruin and destruction.

How they become a desolation in a moment! They are
utterly consumed with terrors!

As a dream which seems real until one awakens, so, O Lord,
when You arouse Yourself to take note of the wicked,
You will despise their outward show.

For my heart was grieved, embittered, and in a state of ferment,
and I was pricked in my heart as with the sharp fang of an adder.
So foolish, stupid, and brutish was I, and ignorant;
 I was  like a beast before You.

Nevertheless I am continually with You; You do hold my right hand.
You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to honor and glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You?

And I have no delight or desire on earth besides You.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm Strength
of my heart and my Portion forever.

For behold, those who are far from You shall perish; You will destroy
all who are false to You and like spiritual harlots depart from You.

But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord
God and made Him my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.

The Rescue
Nathan Greene

"Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light."

Take My Hand, Precious Lord
Mahalia Jackson

"Take My Hand Precious Lord"
Lyrics by the Reverend Thomas A. Dorsey
Music adapted from the tune,
By George N. Allen

This hymn was a favorite of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
 and was sung by Mahalia Jackson at his funeral in 1968.

 Four years later, Aretha Franklin sang, "Take My Hand Precious Lord"
during the funeral service for Mahalia Jackson in 1972.

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Blue And The Gray

By the flow of the inland river,
Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave grass quiver,
Asleep are the ranks of the dead;
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting for the judgment day;-
Under the one, the Blue;
Under the other, the Gray.

These in the robings of glory,
Those in the gloom of defeat,
And with the battle blood gory,
In the dusk of eternity meet;-
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting for the judgment day;-
Under the laurel, the Blue;
Under the willow, the Gray.

From the silence of sorrowful hours
The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers
Alike for the friend and the foe,-
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment day;-
Under the roses, the Blue;
Under the lilies, the Gray.

So with an equal splendor
The morning sun rays fall,
With a touch, impartially tender,
On the blossoms blooming for all;-
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting for the judgment day;-
'Broidered with gold, the Blue;
Mellowed with gold, the Gray;

So, when the summer calleth,
On forest and field of grain
With an equal murmur falleth
The cooling drip of the rain;-

Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment day;-
Wet with the rain, the Blue;
Wet with the rain, the Gray.

Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
The generous deed was done;
In the storm of the years that are fading,
No braver battle was won;-
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment day;-
Under the blossoms, the Blue;-
Under the garlands, the Gray.

No more shall the war cry sever,
Or the winding rivers be red;
They banish our anger forever
When they laurel the graves of our dead!
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment day;-
Love and tears for the Blue,
Tears and love for the Gray.

"No human being knows how sweet sleep is but a soldier." 
- John Singleton Mosby

The graves of a Union soldier and a Confederate soldier.
 Two brave Americans lying side by side.
Gone, but not forgotten.

The Blue And The Gray
By Francis Miles Finch

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mary, Queen Of Scots

Embroidery piece of Mary Queen of Scots
which was done during her captivity

I looked far back into other years, and lo, in bright array
I saw, as in a dream, the form of ages passed away.
It was a stately convent with its old and lofty walls,
And gardens with their broad green walks,
where soft the footstep falls;

And o'er the antique dial stones the creeping shadows passed,
And all around the noonday sun a drowsy radiance cast.
No sound of busy life was heard, save from the cloisters dim
The tinkling of the silver bell, or the sisters' holy hymn.
And there five noble maidens sat beneath the orchard trees,
In that first budding spring of youth, when all its prospects please;
And little recked they, when they sang, or knelt at vesper prayers,
That Scotland knew no prouder names-
held none more dear than theirs;

And little even the loveliest thought, before the Virgin's shrine,
Of royal blood and high descent from the ancient Stuart line;
Calmly her happy days flew on, uncounted in their flight,
And as they flew they left behind a long-continuing light.

The scene was changed: it was the court, the gay court of Bourbon,
And 'neath a thousand silver lamps a thousand courtiers throng;
And proudly kindles Henry's eye-well pleased I ween, to see
The land assemble all its wealth of grace and chivalry;
But fairer far than all the rest who bask at fortune's tide,
Effulgent in the light of youth is she, the new-made bride!
The homage of a thousand hearts-the fond, deep love of one-
The hopes that dance around a life whose charms are but begun-
They lighten up her chestnut eye, they mantle o'er her cheek,
They sparkle on her open brow, and high-souled joy bespeak.
Ah, who shall blame, if scarce that day, through all its brilliant hours,
She thought of the quiet convent's calm, its sunshine and its flowers!

Court portrait of  an adolescent Mary Stuart
By Francois Clouet
(Circa 1552-57)

The scene was changed: it was a barque that slowly held its way,
And o'er its lee the coast of France in light of evening lay;
And on its deck a lady sat, who gazed with tearful eyes
Upon the fast-receding hills that, dim and distant, rise.
No marvel that the lady wept-there was no land on earth
She loved like that dear land, although she owed it not her birth.
It was her mother's land, the land of childhood and friends,
It was the land where she had found for all her griefs amends;
The land where her dead husband slept, the land where she had known
The tranquil convent's hushed repose, and the splendors of the throne.
No marvel that the Lady wept-it was the land of France,
The chosen home of chivalry, the garden of romance.
The past was bright, like those dear hills so far behind her barque;
The future, like the gathering night, was ominous and dark.
One gaze again-one long, last gaze, "Adieu, fair France, to thee!"
The breeze comes forth-she is alone on the unconscious sea!

The scene was changed: it was an eve of raw and surly mood,
And in a turret chamber high of ancient Holyrood
Sat Mary, listening to the rain and sighing with the winds
That seemed to suit the stormy state of men's uncertain minds.
The touch of care had blanched her cheek, her smile was sadder now,
The weight of royalty had pressed too heavy on her brow;
The traitors to her councils came, and rebels to the field;
The Stuart sceptre well she swayed, but the sword she could not wield.
She thought of all her blighted hopes, the dreams of youth's brief day,
And summoned Rizzio with his lute, and bade the minstrel play
The songs she loved in early years- the songs of gay Navarre,
The songs perchance that erst were sung by gallant Chattilor.

They half beguiled her of her cares, they soothed her into smiles,
They won her thoughts from bigot zeal and fierce domestic broils;
But hark, the tramp of armed men, the Douglas' battle cry!
They come! they come! and lo, the scowl of Ruthven's hollow eye!

The swords are drawn, the daggers gleam, the tears and words are vain-
The ruffian steel is in his heart, the faithful Rizzio's slain!
Then Mary Stuart dashed aside the tears that trickling fell:
"Now for my father's arm!" she cried; my woman's heart farewell!"

The scene was changed: a royal host a royal banner bore,
And the faithful of the land stood round their smiling Queen once more;
She stayed her steed upon a hill-she saw them marching by-
She heard their shouts-she read success in every flashing eye.
The tumult of the strife begins-it roars-it dies away;
And Mary's troops and banners now-and courtiers-where are they?
Scattered and strewn, and flying far, defenseless and undone;
Alas! to think what she has lost, and all that guilt had won!
Away! Away! thy noble steed must act no laggard's part;
Yet vain his speed, for thou dost bear the arrow in thy heart!

The scene changed: it was a lake, with one small lonely isle,
And there, within the prison walls of its baronial pile,
Stern men stood menacing their queen, till she should stoop to sign
The traitorous scroll that snatched the crown from her ancestral line;
"My lords, my lords," the captive said, "were I but once more free,
With ten good knights on yonder shore to aid my cause and me,
This parchment would I scatter wide to every breeze that blows,
And once more reign a Stuart queen o'er my remorseless foes!"
A red spot burned upon her cheek, streamed her rich tresses down,
She wrote the words, she stood erect, a queen without a crown!

The scene changed: beside the block a sullen headsman stood,
And gleamed the broad axe in his hand, that soon must drip with blood.
With slow and steady step there came a Lady through the hall,
And breathless silence chained the lips and touched the hearts of all.
I knew that queenly form again, though blighted was its bloom;
I saw the grief and decked it out-an offering for the tomb!
I knew that eye, though faint its light, that once so brightly shone;
I knew the voice, though feeble now, that thrilled with every tone;
I knew the ringlets almost grey, once threads of living gold;
I knew the bounding grace of step, the symmetry of mould!

Even now I see her far away in that calm convent aisle,
I hear her chant her vesper hymn, I mark her holy smile;
Even now I see her bursting forth upon the bridal morn,
A new star in the firmament, to light and glory born!
Alas, the change! she placed her foot upon a triple throne,
And on the scaffold now she stands-beside the block-alone!
The little dog that licks her hand the last of all the crowd
Who sunned themselves beneath her glance, 
and round her footsteps bowed.

Her neck is bared-the blow is struck-the soul is passed away!
The bright-the beautiful-is now a bleeding piece of clay.
The dog is moaning piteously; and it gurgles o'er,
Laps the warm blood that trickling runs unheeded to the floor.
The blood of beauty, wealth and power, the heart-blood of a queen,
The noblest of the Stuart race, the fairest earth has seen,
Lapped by a dog! Go think of it, in silence and alone,
Then weigh against a grain of sand the glories of a throne.

The Heraldic Arms of  Mary Stuart

"Mary, Queen of Scots"
 Henry Glassford Bell
Scottish lawyer, poet, and historian,
His book, "Life of Mary, Queen of Scots"
was published in 1830.