Monday, September 24, 2007
If I do not look with eyes of hope on
all in whom there is even a faint beginning,
As our Lord did, when,
just after His disciples had
wrangled about which of them
should be accounted the greatest,
He softened His rebuke with those heart-melting words,
"Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations,"
Then I know nothing of Calvary Love.
If I have not compassion on my
even as my Lord had pity on me,
Then I know nothing of Calvary Love.
Sometimes it's nice to have a concrete check-list to evaluate my responses to others' actions. My post last night reminded me of this list, and I thought I would post it here for all of you.
Our family has had this list on our bathroom wall for nearly a year - ever since Pastor Courville preached a sermon with many of these points. I hope you will find it as helpful as I have.
If seeing someone else's failure...
~ Prompts you to review their past failures
~Makes you feel more comfortable with the failures in your own life
~Increases your estimation of yourself
If you see someone else fail and you...
~Are eager to tell others about it
~Have a desire to see that person punished
Your heart is WRONG!
If you are critical and proud, you will enjoy publicly exposing those who you condemn. This is what it means to be "judgmental."
If, when seeing someone else's failure...
~You don't form an opinion on first impression
~You remember that you could very easily fail in the same way (if you have not already)
If, at the sight of someone's failure...
~You intercede for him
~You are reluctant to share it with other people
~You desire that he will be shown mercy
Your heart is RIGHT!
When you truly love a person, you will want to deal as privately as possible with their wrongs. You will also want to see them restored and will be unwilling to just "sweep things under the rug" if the issues really need to be dealt with. You will realize that they may not want to be restored or think they need to be. That is why you must intercede for them.
Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will He teach sinners in the way. The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth. Psalms 25:8-10
Sunday, September 23, 2007
"When God's anger is kindled, ours must be stifled; the law of meekness is such that whatsoever pleases God must not displease us."
Every time I see that little scrap of paper, it convicts me of my weakness to just "be nice" about wrong things that others do. I am by nature, a very non-confrontational person and prefer to let people do things that I may not feel comfortable with, just because I don't want to "say anything." (I think I'm gradually getting a little better about standing up for right after nearly twenty-five years of hard lessons about what doing nothing yields.)
Of course, I know that many times it is appropriate to "put up" with the actions of others that I may not like or agree with. Most often, it is NOT my job to point out others' sins to them.
Perhaps some of my aversion to confronting others about sin (or even calling it distasteful and sin in my own mind) comes from the many times I have seen someone pick at the speck in their brother's eye, forgetting the beam in their own eye. There is almost nothing that I hate more than seeing one Christian doing that to another person, ignoring the totally hypocrisy in his/her own walk with God.
I continually remind myself, that my job is not to "straighten out the world"; my job is to rule my own heart and actions and keep them in line with God's heart. But in focusing on my own sins and ignoring those of others, I must not grow gradually comfortable with sin in other peoples' lives.
It is easy for me to grow calloused towards the ugliness of sin. Certainly, my attitude should be that of Jesus towards the woman caught in adultery - compassion and mercy - but in showing compassion, I must not loose sight of the horrific stench of the sin. I must not become soft towards little vices in other's lives, excusing things because it's them and not me doing it and "maybe they don't know any better."
Sin must always be exceedingly sinful in my eyes, if I want to have my heart in line with God's.
Because sin is what brought death upon all men. Because all sin is rebellion against the laws of a perfect, holy, and just God. Because sin is what nailed the sinless, loving Son of God to the Cross of Calvary. Because sin is what destroys lives, tears apart families, crumbles nations, and results in eternal damnation.
Sin is never only "sort of bad". Sin is never excusable. Sin is never okay in any body's life. And certainly, sin is never harmless.
God hates sin. He never made any excuses for it. People throughout Biblical accounts died for their sin - and rightly so - all of us deserve death for the great insults we have hurled at our Loving Creator with every breath that He gave to us in our vile and sinful state.
THIS is condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. John 3:19
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us (!!), and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. I John 4:10
I must love people and intercede for them and show them mercy and grace - far more than I ever calculate any of them to deserve - but I must agree with God that sin is ugly and horrific beyond my comprehension. And I must seek to daily see things from His eternal viewpoint, not my warped, earthly eyes.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I have such a nice stack of delicious books to devour.
It feels so good just to know that I actually plan to read them! It's been a long two years since I pretty much stopped reading books (other than the Bible and totally necessary policy-related stuff) because of the crazy busyness of my life. I just couldn't justify spending even fifteen extra minutes a day reading a book (regardless of the great edification and education contained) when I was so behind with everything that HAD to be done.
Life has settled down considerably (for the moment, anyway) which I am so grateful for. Of course, there are still more things to do than I will ever accomplish, but my "crisis schedule" isn't absolutely crazy every day anymore. Many days I actually get a somewhat healthy amount of sleep and I find myself washing dishes and doing laundry and doing all of those things from my past life. I love it! Part of a healthier schedule means that I have decided to include some book reading from time to time. : )
I really NEED some book reading, anyway. I read an interview with Governor Blunt last month where they asked him about his personal reading habits. He said that he reads (can't remember exactly) something like 7 or 8 new books a year. In different, earlier interview, he said he reads something like 3-5 chapters of the Bible every morning as well (can't remember exactly on that one, either). I've marveled that the Governor manages to read that much and I have only limped through two books in the last two years. Maybe he does have more free time than I do or maybe he uses his time more wisely than I do, but in either case, I think it is pathetic that I haven't read hardly anything!
Over the past two years, I have felt my brain growing increasingly dull and stale. I used to constantly feed it new things to think about and meditate on, but in recent months and years, the only new thoughts are my own that come from reading Scripture, hearing sermons, and reading emails!
I often think of what my friend, Maja, once said, "Five years from now you will have grown as much as the friends you keep and the books you read. Nothing will change you more than those two factors in your life."
When she said that years ago - exhorting me to read more good books - I smiled and thought, "That's a pretty bold statement!" But, as I have watched the truth of it in my life and the lives of others (for some, music and movies would have to be added to the "books" column), I have become convinced that she is absolutely right. The people we are friends with (including family, co-workers, anyone who we spend a significant amount of time with) and the books we read change us more than anything else!
The books are sitting here... now I just need to read them! I'm trying to save fifteen minutes most days for reading. As a side benefit, you'll get to read the very best parts here! : )
Right now, my stack includes:
Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, John Piper
The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, Matthew Henry
Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic, David Kirby
New Age Lies to Women, Wanda Marrs
Too Much of a Good Thing : Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age,
Dan Kindlon, Ph.D.
Common Cents, How Congress Really Works and What We Must Do to Fix It,
Representative Timothy J. Penny
Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care,
Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God With a Hope Deferred,
Can Man Live Without GOD? Ravi Zacharias
Thursday, September 20, 2007
My times are in Thy hand; Father, I wish them there:
My life, my soul, my all, I leave entirely to Thy care,
My times are in Thy hand, whatever they may be,
Pleasing or painful, dark or bright, as best may seem to Thee.
My times are in Thy hand: why should I doubt or fear?
My Father’s hand will never cause His child a needless tear.
My times are in Thy hand, Jesus the Crucified!
The hand my many sins once pierced is now my Guard and Guide.
W. F. Lloyd
It was reserved for Christianity to present to the world an ideal character which through all the changes of [twenty] centuries has inspired the hearts of men with an impassioned love; has shown itself capable of acting on all ages, nations, temperaments and conditions; has been not only the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive to its practice...
The simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the exhortations of moralists.
William Lecky, One of Britain's most noted historians
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
" ...Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be?"
II Kings 7: 1-2
A few days ago I found myself sitting at my desk with a huge bill staring me in the face.
To some people it may have seemed small, but to me it was HUGE - in the tens of thousands of dollars.
It wasn't exactly all mine personally to pay, as it was the legal expenses for the cause I had been working on and directing, yet it was sort of my responsibility to find the resources to pay it, by default... because no one else was doing so.
A sickening feeling gripped me for several days as I thought of the possibilities of NOT having the money to pay the bill. I kept reminding myself, "God knows. He can pay it. It's not a big deal to Him if he wants it paid. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills." But the knot in my stomach wouldn't go away, as the visible and tangible seemed so much more real than faith that somehow, out of somewhere, thousands and thousands of dollars would appear.
I asked friends to pray about it. Most of them smiled and remarked, "That's a lot of money. Okay, I'll pray about it." But they all seemed to have forgotten within five minutes. My family was sympathetic, but again, it wasn't their burden.
It was mine. I was responsible, and in moments like these, responsibility can be a harsh master. I could think of nothing else some days (and nights). How, how, how would we come up with the money? I expected supporters to send money, but they didn't send hardly anything. I tried to have faith that money would appear, but it didn't. I told myself again and again that God is always on time, but seldom early. As the deadline was a couple of days away, I couldn't pretend it was going to be "okay", because owing a huge bill like this certainly couldn't be ignored.
I continued to pray for God's will to be done. I asked him to show Himself strong and glorify His name through providing what was needed. But at the same time, I was surrendered. Maybe He had a lesson to teach me through NOT sending the money. I had no idea what I would do if that was the case, but worrying about it wasn't helping.
The bill was due Monday morning of this week. Sunday I had much of the day to think and pray as I was driving home from a weekend event. (I had suggested to the Lord that He could provide the money there over the weekend, but I wasn't handed even an unexpected two dollars....)
As I drove, I alternated radio sermons with silence. One preacher talked about the great resources of God and how God will never budget Himself out of providing for anything that He wants done. I grabbed onto that thought. I could, I must believe that. If God wanted this done, He would pay for it. And he wouldn't cut Himself short or not come up with quite enough money.
Sunday night I was supposed to hear back from one potential donor if they had decided to donate part of the needed sum. Their answer was that they hadn't made up their mind about giving any money.
Monday morning dawned. God??
I suddenly felt strangely confident that this was God's job, not mine. It was beyond my greatest abilities to make anything happen. It was beyond me devising some great new strategy for raising the needed money. It was beyond me convincing someone to give. It was something that only God could accomplish. I knew I had been faithful in working on what I could do. All I could do was step back and wait for Him to work.
An hour passed. No word from anyone. Another hour.
I met a good friend for breakfast who asked how things were going. I told her about the bill, knowing she had no money and couldn't do anything about it. Her eyes bulged out. "You need HOW MUCH MONEY?!? I thought I had a big problem, thinking about coming up with $14,000 for nursing school by next year! And you have $75,000 to come up with really soon?! And you need $25,000 of it by noon today?!"
I nodded and smiled. She seemed to think I was crazy to be so calm about it. The need was so ridiculously huge that a smile did seem out of place.
About two hours later, I received a text message - "We have just received all of the $25,000 for today's bill, with about an extra $4000 that was just donated towards the upcoming bill."
I smiled. God HAD opened the windows of heaven. I knew He could. He had just proved Himself once again, and yes, He's always on time, but seldom early.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Or never can I know
Deep wells and living streams of Hope,
And pools of overflow.
Flood me with Hope today
For souls perverse, undone,
For sinful souls that turn away,
Blind sunflowers to their Sun.
O blessed Hope of God,
Flow through me patiently,
Until I hope for everyone
As thou hast hoped for me.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Strong for the rage of the battle; sane, for I harry them sore;
Send me men girt for the combat, men who are grit to the core;
Swift as the panther in triumph, fierce as the bear in defeat,
Sired of bulldog parent, steeled in the furnace heat.
And I wait for the men who will win me -
And I will not be won in a day.
And I will not be won by weaklings, subtle, suave, and mild,
But by men with the hearts of vikings, and the simple faith of a child;
Desperate, strong and resistless, unthrottled by fear or defeat,
Them will I gild with my treasure, them will I glut with my meat.
Robert Service, Law of the Yukon
Just yesterday I was reminded of the rarity of a Godly man; one willing to fight the battle for truth and right to the very end; one who will not quit, though his hair is singed by the flame and his hands are raw from the sword.
There are plenty of weaklings and cowards. There are plenty of quitters and whiners.
Thank God there are some men who are "grit to the core." Thank God that there are men who, when cursed and tormented, broken and bleeding from battle, still fight on.
God give us more like these!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Will you hang your wretched daubs beside the works of Titian and Michelangelo and not be shamed by the enormous contrast - will you stand back and say, with a satisfied smirk, "That is pretty good, you know?!"
Can you live face to face with Jesus Christ and be content with who you are?
A.J. Gossip (1873-1954), From the Edge of the Crowd
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Five I have:
bound for eternity:
- blind leader of the blind -
groping and fumbling,
casual and concerned,
undisciplined, I seek
by order and command
to discipline and shape;
(I who need discipline
to shape my own disordered soul).
Who seest the heart's true, deep desire,
each shortcoming and each sad mistake,
supplement and overrule,
nor let our children be
the victims of our own
unlikeness unto Thee.
Ruth Bell Graham
I'm not a mother, but I love reading mothering books, magazines, and articles. Over the years, as I have helped other mothers in their homes, I have gleaned so much from watching their triumphs and mistakes. And, of course, my own mother has taught me more about Godly, unselfish mothering than anyone else ever will.
As I had no older sisters, Mom was the person who played house with me as a little girl. Mom read me stories and sang songs with me. For some of the younger kids in our family, they had sibling playmates and companions as Mom was by then, busy homeschooling older ones, but I feel blessed to have had my mother as the main friend and role model in my life as a girl.
Growing up with eight younger siblings has given me a bit of a mother's perspective (I think - I guess I won't know till I am a mother!). Not only did I have to learn to fill the role of mother to my little siblings with "owies" and messy diapers and phonics lessons they couldn't understand, but even now I feel much responsibility to my siblings as a role model and example.
When I was about ten, I loved to draw, and so all of my little sisters did, too. The thing that frustrated me to tears was that they would copy everything that I drew. Day after day, I would pull out my pencils and markers and start drawing, telling myself that this time I was going to draw something entirely new that my sisters wouldn't copy. But without fail, they watched every line and squiggle and copied the same picture onto their papers! It didn't matter if it was hummingbirds or people or trees or houses. They always copied me!
They thought I should be happy that they liked my drawing ideas so much. I thought that there was nothing more frustrating than never being able to be original and unique. If I had drawn a really beautiful flower bouquet and went to show it to Mom, those little sisters were always standing right beside me holding out theirs' saying, "See, we did the same thing!"
The day I drew a picture for the neighbor lady who we were going to visit and my sisters copied it exactly - colors and all, I burst into tears and wailed, "She might think I copied your picture! She might think that I draw the same as a six year old! And I'm ten!"
Far beyond the days of marker pictures and fights over forts in the woods, I would prefer to believe that what I do will not make a huge difference in their lives and how they live as adults. After all, certainly they will blaze their own trails and develop their own convictions, and make their own decisions. It's too frightening to think that they are going to copy me in many ways!
But, again and again I am reminded that they DO copy me. They wonder what I would do in situations and do accordingly. My younger siblings have developed so many of my interests and passions. So much so, that when I am taking up a new interest or hobby at times I ask myself, Do I want my siblings to be doing this, too?
One of my younger sisters was recently retorting to another family member with something that didn't sound...uh, kind or respectful or nice in anyway. Ugh, I thought to myself, Where on earth does she learn to say things like that?! I was preparing to open my mouth and tell her what was wrong with what she said, when with horror the thought hit me, I bet she learned that from me. She sounds like me!
Often I do things without fully calculating the results for myself, let alone for a handful or more of siblings following in my steps!
The potential results of my actions (or inaction) are scary indeed. Responsibility, not only for my own life, but for lives which follow mine.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
The crashing waves that overwhelm the soul,
The roaring winds that leave us stunned and breathless,
The sudden storms beyond our life's control.
His grace is great enough to meet the small things -
The pin-prick troubles that annoy,
The insect worries, buzzing and persistent,
The squeaking wheels that grate upon our joy.
Annie Johnson Flint
Saturday, September 8, 2007
There is no question of, "But what about me?" for the motivation is love.
All interests, all impulses, all energies are subjugated to that supreme passion.
Does it sound too high for us?
But all of us know a little about it in so simple a thing as loving a child. Watch a grandfather in a restaurant with his small granddaughter. He has no thought whatever of himself. If she wants some of his french fries he would delight to give her all. He does not hold them back, thinking, "But what about me?" He piles them onto her plate.
What is the source of this delight and this self-obliteration? Very simple.
The answer is love.
Friday, September 7, 2007
If I have not the patience of my Saviour
with souls who grow slowly;
If I know little of travail (a sharp and painful thing)
till Christ be fully formed in them,
Then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I have not compassion on my fellowservant,
even as my Lord had pity on me,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
"Full of self and sin am I,
Thou art full of truth and grace...."
I remember singing these words so many times as a little girl. Only recently have I really sang them, fully appreciating what they say.
In reading "Embraced by the Cross," formerly titled, "Born Crucified," by L.E. Maxwell, I had to stop and re-read these parts several times, marveling at the truth in them...
Until Christ works out in you an inner crucifixion which will cut you off from self-infatuation and unite you to God in a deep union of love, a thousand Heavens could not give you peace.
That description - self-infatuation. Wow. Never heard it said like that before, but does it ever sum up my life.
Man was meant to have GOD as the center of his life, his very breath, his light and deepest joy -
"the central Sun of his universe - from this secret place of the Most High, man broke off and plunged out into the far country of self, into the alienation and night of separation from God. God has been cast down. Self has usurped the throne, a usurper who never abdicates. Self is the new and false center upon which man has fixed. He loves himself as nothing else under the sun. Even his best deeds are but refined forms, the filthy rags, of his secret selfishness. He does always with his right hand so that the left hand of self satisfaction may know it....
"The Son of Man was made sin - made a curse - lifted up like a serpent....Only the serpent can symbolize the truth. That throws an awful ray of light upon me. It shoots me through and through. I am perfectly photographed - not my sins only, but myself. What I did only sprang from what I am. The unvarnished truth is out. It is I, my very self. Why pull down the blinds?
"....Does such an admission seems too dreadful? Do I halt from owning it? But dare I disown it? Until I own it, I can never disown it. From the throne of the Cross, high and lifted up, I am drawn first to own and then disown self.... I must sign my own death sentence....
"Such a denial of self is not mere severing of this or that indulgence, but putting the ax to the very root of the tree of self. God says, 'Cut the tree down,' not merely trim it back. ALL self-righteousness, self-esteem, self-vindication, self-glory, and fatal self-pity - these and ten thousand other manifestations are but the fleshly foliage, the myriad branchings of that deeply rooted tree of self."
Full of self and sin am I,
Thou art full of truth and grace.
What a good God I love and serve!
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Once we had no delight in God, and Christ was just a vague historical figure. What we enjoyed was food and friendships and productivity and investments and vacations and hobbies and games and reading and shopping and sex and sports and art and TV and travel... but not God. He was an idea - even a good one - and a topic for discussion; but he was not a treasure of delight.
Then something miraculous happened. It was like the opening of the eyes of the blind during the golden dawn. First the stunned silence before the unspeakable beauty of holiness. Then a shock and terror that we actually loved the darkness. Then the settling stillness that this is the soul's end. The quest is over. We would give anything if we might be granted to live in the presence of this glory for ever and ever.
And then faith - the confidence that Christ has made a way for me, a sinner, to live in his glorious fellowship forever, the confidence that if I come to God through Christ, he will give me the desire of my heart to share his holiness and behold his glory....
Saving faith is the cry of a new creature in Christ. And the newness of the new creature is that it has a new taste. What was once distasteful or bland is now craved. Christ himself has become a Treasure Chest of holy joy. The tree of faith grows only in the heart that craves the supreme gift that Christ died to give: not health, not wealth, not prestige, but God!
"Christ died for sins once for all...that he might bring us to God" (I Peter 3:18)
"Through him we have access in one Spirit to the Father" (Ephesians 2:18)
"Through him we have obtained access to grace...and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God...we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:2, 11)
....Saving faith is the heartfelt conviction not only that Christ is reliable, but also that he is desirable. It is confidence that he will come through with his promises and that what he promises is more to be desired than all the world.
....Behind the repentance that turns away from sin and behind the faith that embraces Christ is the birth of a new taste, a new longing, a new passion for the pleasure of God's presence. This is the root of conversion. This is the creation of a Christian Hedonist.
Excerpted from John Piper's book,
Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist
Monday, September 3, 2007
My joys and my mind -
Mine as a coin to trade, I find,
For pleasure, fulfillment, meaning.
My life is my hoard
My hope and my wealth -
Mine to give my youth and my health
For pleasure - fulfillment - meaning.
My life is smothered
By such a clutch -
Too starved and crushed to yield me much
Of pleasure - fulfillment - meaning.
My life is God's
To break and pour
On thirsty ground, and yield back more
Of pleasure - fulfillment - meaning.
My life is His
And here I find
The keenest pain, the deepest kind
Of pleasure - fulfillment - meaning.
- Claire Meyer
I was reminded while reading Genesis 1-4 that God DOES allow people to waste the richest opportunities in the world. The choice is up to foolish, sinful man. Man gets to choose if he will be wise with what God gives him or if he will foolishly make fleshly choices and throw it all away.
Adam and Eve had a life of unimaginable opportunities and joy in the garden of Eden - perfect harmony and love in relationships, God Himself walking with them every day. They had an opportunity never before or since enjoyed by man. Yet they threw it all away with one simple taste of forbidden pleasure and ruined their lives and that of every generation to come.
I have to wonder if Adam and Eve often looked at each other many times in the years that followed and shook their heads sadly - "How foolish we were! We lost all of that for one bite of this?"
Some days I fear that I will arrive at the end of my life and say, "I threw all of that away for this?!" As the old hymn asks us, "Will I stand before my Saviour and empty handed be?"
How many people do I pass by in a day without a thought for their eternal souls? How different would I live my life if I had spent one hour in hell, seeing the rich man lifting up his eyes in torment, begging for a drop of water? How many people does my life influence for eternity? Or do I simply drift through their lives, leaving no impression of their Creator, of their and my eternal destiny?
I must be more than a nice person. I must be more than kind. I must be more than good.
I must be a beacon of God's eternal truth, shining on their hearts. I must speak the truth in love - that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.
I don't know of another person in the world more blessed than I - I have a Godly heritage, wise and kind parents, loving family and friends, a good mind, health and a strong body, vast opportunities to impact the Kingdom of God at my doorstep...
I tremble at times when I remember the words of my Lord, "To whom much has been given, much shall be required."
May I be found a faithful servant, who does her Lord's bidding in deep gratitude and humility. When He comes, may He find me "so doing."
...Things too good not to publish somewhere.
So, I'll be posting poems, quotes, sermon notes, inspirational stories, and yes, some of my own thoughts and writings.