Saturday, September 30, 2006

Painted puppets

anyone who really knows me knows that one of the things I really dislike is empty social ritual. I certainly don't mean we should be serious and earnest all the time, but we should always be sincere and real. Christ does not dwell in untruth. Yet it is the very place where many people hide to escape from the unbearable ...

Like painted puppets on a string,
The people dance, the people sing,
They do not mean a single thing.

Security rests in display:
They make their motions every day,
To keep all random chance at bay.

They trample you beneath their feet
If you don’t match their seamless beat,
And loneliness is long defeat.

Dressed in the moment’s proper styles,
They wear their calculated smiles
Like painted, polished crocodiles.

The rituals of social drugs,
Precision of their robot hugs --
Real flesh and blood might mess their rugs.

And underneath the clothes they wear
Lie broken hearts beyond repair
But they must never be laid bare.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Bonhoeffer again

When a man really gives up trying to make something out of
himself-a saint, or a converted sinner, or a churchman, a
righteous or unrighteous man, ... when in the fullness of
tasks, questions, success or ill-hap, experiences and
perplexities, a man throws himself into the arms of God...
then he wakes with Christ in Gethsemane. That is faith, and it
is thus that he becomes a man and Christian.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)

Yep. I cannot make myself into anything (except as a sham cardboard cut out). The only reality I ultimately have is how much of my me is connected to God. The rest is mere formalism, and building houses of cards that one real breath will send flying. Me in God's arms, being carried through whatever I have to be carried through to bring me to Him .. that is reality!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


The mysteries of our Faith are unknown and not understandable to those who are not repenting.
-- Nicholas Deputatov

At first glance this sounds a bit like legalism, or a severe exclusivism, but that is probably because we have a false understanding of what repentance actually is. It is not necessarily sackcloth and ashes, and it is not the same thing as regret, though regret may be its precursor. To me, repentance is an attitude of heart, not focused on beating up the self (will God love me any more if I hate myself?) but on denying the self; not in the sense in which we commonly understand self-denial (which is easily a form of self-righteousness), but in the sense of continually turning aside from our inner focus on "me" to try to see ourselves, our world and one another as God sees them. Repentance is the daily struggle to replace doubt with faith, impatience with compassion, pride with an awareness of God. it is the willingness to acknowledge, at one and the same time, that the world does not revolve around me, and yet my Father's love is for me. It is choosing to put more weight on what the word of God says than on what people say. It is facing daily disappointments with a heart that says "love anyway!" not because of obligation or guilt trips, but because the love of God Himself is being poured (or maybe trickled)into our hearts ..

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lullaby for my inner child

Dedicated to everyone whose soul has ever been torn and hurt ..


Drinking truth and not delusion,
Know their lies are the illusion;
Sleep, and rest you from confusion,
Sleep, my dear one, sleep.

Sleep, their power now is broken,
Sleep, the healing words are spoken,
(Sleep, of coming peace the token,)
Sleep, my dear one, sleep.

Let there be a rest from weeping,
From the fears so quickly leaping,
Now you lie in safer keeping,
Sleep, my dear one, sleep.

Once your worthlessness they told you,
Now may angels’ wings enfold you,
Perfect love forever hold you,
Sleep my dear one, sleep.

Sleep and do not fear the waking,
Night is ending, dawn is breaking,
Life shall be yours for the taking,
Sleep my dear one, sleep.

The ethnic angle!

Just for fun, and because of my own Anglo-Celtic ancestry, this anonymous quote that my daughter sent me:

The English love the gospel because it gives them something to think about.
The Welsh love the gospel because it gives them something to sing about.
The Irish love the gospel because it gives them something to fight about.
And the Scots love the gospel because it's free.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.

Dorothy Sayers

I have often wondered why people make such a virtue out of tolerance. It is an attitude almost prescribed in modern Western society, we are to show "tolerance" to other opinions, lifestyles, kinds of human beings (eg race, gender abilities), moral choices etc. It doesn't make sense. What minorities want isn't "tolerance", but justice for their wrongs, and a fair go. I have yet to meet somebody (though doubtless such a person exists) who actually wants to be tolerated. We don't want to be tolerated, we want to be loved. Indifference is spiritual and emotional laziness, it also devalues both the giver and the receiver. What most of us really want isn't to be tolerated, but to be wanted, admired and cherished. we don't want to be accepted with an indifferent shrug (except by those to whom we are, ourselves, indifferent), we want our value restored to us. Indifference belittles what we are, just as powerfully, in its own way, as hatred. We all need to know that we matter, somewhere to someone; and to have enduring value, we need to know that we matter to God.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

More flowers

Because it's a glorious Spring day here, I just wanted to add some more photos of flowers. These are from our trip to NZ we made at the beginning of last year..

Friday, September 15, 2006

A challenge ...

I am no longer my own but yours.

Put me to what you will; rank me with whom you will.

Put me to doing; put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you; exalted for you, or brought low for you.

Let me be full; let me be empty.

Let me have all things; let me have nothing.

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.

-- John Wesley, modern adaptation

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Horatio Hedgehog

Horatio hedgehog’s asleep on his bed
A pillow of cactus tucked under his head
Kept warm by a blanket of raspberries and bark
And, over the top, a bright bedspread of shark
His great big alarm clock he just calls the sun
And he goes tickling termites when he needs some fun
He washes his dishes in concrete and oil
And pickles his eyelids so they’ll never spoil
One day he’s hoping to marry a wife
But he hasn’t found one yet who’ll share such a life
Except for a wild goose who’s made out of snow
But she’s scared she might melt when hot winds start to blow
And there once was a squirrel carved from margarine
But the same thing applied and she slipped from the scene
So he sips on his milkshake and lives all alone
In an igloo he made from an old ice cream cone
Or he sits on a toadstool and slowly grows old
And dreams he’ll migrate to a country that’s cold.

In which world?

As a man whose head is under water cannot inhale pure air, so a man whose thoughts are plunged into the cares of this world cannot absorb the sensation of the world to come.

St. Isaac the Syrian

I think this is largely true, and the Bible seems to support this, eg the seeds in the parable of the sower which were choked by the cares and worries of the world, or the command (Psalm 46) to "Be still and know that I am God". We are specifically told not to spend all our energy on mere earthly survival, but to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and these things shall be added unto us. It is like being tuned to the wrong channel, so that the message doesn't get through. But I want to modify the statement a little. as it stands, it is dangerously close to saying that our own steadfast concentration (pity help the one with ADD)can keep us in the presence of God, as if that were a work we could accomplish on our own. As if there was no sin of spiritual pride to catch us out, more deadly than any distraction of the flesh. As if part of our journey did not have to lie through the dark places where we learn our need of God by experiencing His seeming absence. I am thankful that God's reality in my life is not only dependent on my own efforts, but on the grace that breaks through, that interrupts my downward spiral and calls me back to His embrace.

Of course, as the mysterious St Isaac must have known, to keep your head under water for too long is actually to die ...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Chinese gardens

Taken on the Central Coast last year, when we had a weekend's break while my back was bad. Images of serenity, for moments unserene


Here, in the doldrums of the heart,
I, patient, wait with unshipped oar
And count the stars and drink the rain
For I have been this place before.

Long I could labour in the waves
And move my boat a little space
But hidden currents mock my pains.
I wait the rising wind of grace.

My sails hang slack, but I am taut
With expectation; You are real
I know, with simple certainty,
Your breeze, Your breath, I soon shall feel.

I know, and I delight to know,
Your hour shall come, Your wind shall rise
I shall behold Your glory’s dawn
Through tears of joy that blur my eyes.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Quirk

Just for fun, because i don't seem to see things quite the same way as other people do ..


At the centre
of my perceptions
the Quirk
my wry-eyed acrobat;

with gloating glee,
to see the unexpected
in the ordinary;

with too-swift humour,
the endless perversity of the human condition.

With gentle brutality,
x-raying convention,
shattering the platitudes;
impartially independent.

Oh my quirk!
Let me hold you by the hands of your legerdemain;
learning together
binocular vision,
and a deeper focus;
the proper perspective
of Truth

Because it's Spring..

Some Photos of flowers:

More quotes

"We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God...Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God." --Tozer

What is being taught in Christendom today is this; that since we have got the New Testament canon, since we have got the Word now, we do not need these direct interventions, we do not need God to speak to us directly, as He spoke to Abraham and to Isaac and to Jacob and these patriarchs. We have got the Word now! Is this superior to the direct speech of God? I think we are mad! There is no other word for this. We are mad. We are meant to be in a superior position to every Old Testament saint because of what has happened in our blessed Lord and Saviour! But this teaching would have us believe that we do not need this direct contact with God now, and that all that has come to an end since the formation of the New Testament canon . . . remember that the great point of the whole teaching of the Bible, of all you can deduce from it, is to tell you that God is a God who acts. And our only hope this afternoon is that this is still true. He has not finished acting. He is going on . . . There is only one hope. That is that He is still the living and the acting God. Christ is at His right hand, and He is seated and waiting until His enemies should be made His footstool . . . ."
Martin Lloyd Jones

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Found this quote buried in some old notes --powerful!

O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you:
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you patience;
I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me...

Restore me to liberty,
And enable me so to live now
That I may answer before you and before humanity.
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Friday, September 01, 2006

What is a pickle?

As those who have read the beginning of my blog know, I call myself 'blestpickle' and this blog 'Out of the Pickle jar' because of an old family joke about being a naughty pickle. I had actually been thinking of changing the name of my blog because i wondered if people might mistake it for a recipe blog or household hints or something like that. .. (Yes, I do cook, but I neither cook nor eat pickles - that would be cannibalism, and a great perversity!) but then I just read something written by codepoke over on that gave a whole new dimension to what it means to be a pickle!

We talked about sin and repentance and how baptism is likened to pickling cucumbers. I thought that was so cool. ... A certain ancient Greek explained how to baptize a cucumber in vinegar to turn it into a pickle. We are preserved in Christ.

Think of it! I am a pickle because I am preserved in Christ!