Saturday, December 30, 2006

Unconscious Influence

A missionary in New Guinea returned to his home after several years of service.

His friend said to him, "Jones, tell me what you found at your station in New Guinea."

"Found! I found something that looked more hopeless than if I had been sent into the jungle to a lot of tigers."

"Why, those people were so degraded that they seemed utterly devoid of moral sense. They were worse than beasts. If a mother were carrying her little baby, and the baby began to cry, she would throw it into the ditch and let it die. If a man saw his father break his leg, he would leave him upon the roadside to die. They had no compassion whatever. They did not know what it meant."

"Well, what did you do for people like that? Did you preach to them?"

"Preach? No! I lived."

"Lived? How did you live?"

"When I saw a baby crying, I picked it up and comforted it. When I saw a man with a broken leg, I mended it. When I saw people in distress, I took them in and pitied them. I took care of them. I lived that way. And those poeple began to come to me and say, 'What does this mean? What are you doing this for?' Then I had my chance and I preached the Gospel."

"Did you succeed?"

"When I left, I left a church!"
-Sunday School Times


"The best way to teach converts is to live before them. How we ourselves meet trouble is a much more potent lesson to them than explaining from the pulpit how they should meet it...Our most potent lessons are unconscious ones; they are, in actuality, allowing the Lord to live out His life through us." -Isobel Kuhn

"You are writing a Gospel
A chapter each day,
By the deeds that you do,
And the words that you say.
Men read what you write,
Whether faithless or true;
Say, what is the Gospel
According to you?"

Thursday, December 28, 2006

True Worship

"In true worship the Father must be first, must be all. The sooner I learn to forget myself in the desire that He may be glorified, the richer will the blessing be that prayer will bring to myself. No one ever loses by what he sacrifices for the Father."
-Andrew Murray
'With Christ in the School of Prayer'


Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas in Poverty

Philippians 2:6-8, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedience unto death, even the death of the cross."

What is Christmas today? Christmas trees, decorations, lights, tinsel, parties, Santa Claus, and an over abundance of food. Total antipathy to the very first Christmas!

The first Christmas was celebrated in poverty. Today, if a couple were so poor that they had to have their baby in a dirty animal stable, the Social Services would take their baby away from them. But 2000 years down the line, it seems that the humility of Christmas has been forgotten.

I think it would be good to remind ourselves of the true reality of Christmas, don't you?

The Humility of Mary

Mary was a humble maiden with a humble lineage. She was not a royal princess. She was not a High Priest's daughter. She was not rich. Mary herself confesses in her song, "He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.... He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree..." (Luke 1:48-49) But God chose this unknown virgin to bring forth His precious Son. He chose her because she was a willing vessel. Often those who have everything materially, are not willing vessels.

God is not looking for riches and material possessions. He is looking for obedient hearts. He is looking for those who have the same spirit Mary had when she said, "Be it unto me according to thy Word." (Luke 1:38) She was totally surrendered to the will of the Lord. In the face of poverty, ridicule, rejection and estrangement, she embraced this child who would be the Savior of the world.

The Humility of Joseph

Joseph was a humble carpenter from a humble village. Do you remember that Nathanael said of Jesus, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46) Jesus was spurned by his fellow residents of Nazareth who asked, "Is not this the carpenter's son?" (Matthew 13:55)


The Humilty of His Birthplace

Jesus was born in a stable, most probably a cave, with the dirt, the smells and messes of the animals all around. He was then laid in a stone feeding trough, fit only for the animals. Jesus was born to be King, but God didn't provide a palace for His Son in which to be born. He didn't provide a doctor, nurses and hospital. There was no cradle, beautifully draped with lace and frills. Only straw! Was there even that? No Christmas card paints the true reality of the scene.


The Humility of Jesus' Dedication


After the days of a mother's purification, the parents took the baby to the temple to be dedicated. They had to bring a lamb to be sacrificed for the dedication. However, if they could not afford a lamb, they brought two turtle doves or young pigeons. (Leviticus 12:6-8) The account in Luke 2:23-24 tells us that Joseph and Mary brought doves or pigeons. They belonged to the poor class. They couldn't afford to bring a lamb. And yet God chose from the poorer class to bring forth the King of kings and Lord of lords.

May God keep all our hearts focused on the humility of His birth, rather than tinsel and toys!!


"Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey..." Zec. 9:9

-Nancy Cambell

photo credit

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Before the Throne of Grace


"You must pray with all your might. That does not mean saying your prayers, or sitting gazing about in church or chapel with eyes wide open while someone else says them for you. It means fervent, effectual, untiring wrestling with God...This kind of prayer, be sure, the devil and the world and your own indolent, unbelieving nature will oppose. They will pour water on this flame." - William Booth

"The reason why many fail in battle is because they wait until the hour of battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have gained their victory on their knees long before the battle came...Anticipate your battles; fight them on your knees before temptation comes, and you will always have victory."
-R. A. Torrey

"The true man of God is heartsick, grieved at the worldliness of the Church...grieved at the toleration of sin in the Church, grieved at the prayerlessness in the Church. He is disturbed that the corporate prayer of the Church no longer pulls down the strongholds of the devil. A man may study because his brain is hungry for knowledge, even Bible knowledge. But he prays because his soul is hungry for God. We live in a generation that has never known revival God's way. True revival changes the moral climate of an area or a nation. Without exception, all true revivals of the past began after years of agonizing, hell-robbing, earth-shaking, heaven-sent intercession. The secret to true revival in our own day is still the same. But where, oh, where, are the intercessors?" - Leonard Ravenhill

"Groanings which cannot be uttered are often prayers which cannot be refused." - Charles Spurgeon

photo credit

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Take Time


"Take time to prepare for our work. The greater the work we are to do, the longer preparation does God give us for it. How eager human nature is to get into an enterprise, or a field of work, before there is a thorough preparation. To be prepared for a great mission is a great deal more than to go through a school or to learn a trade or to pass a good examination. The preparation must go deepr, and enter into the very qualities of the heart and will. There must be the patient endurance, the breadth of apprehension, the quickness and sweep of mental vision, the balancing of the judgement, the impartiality of decision, and a largeness of divine gentleness for those with whom we deal - an inexpressible preparation which oftentimes nothing but suffering, or lonely sorrow, or years of patient waiting can develop in us.

A short work, with a thorough, divine preparation behind it, will accomplish more than a work of many years with only a human qualification for it."

-G.D. Watson

Monday, December 11, 2006

Oh Yes He Cares, I Know He Cares!


"On a clear, moonless night about 3,000 stars are visible with the unaided eye. Asmall telescope will increase the number to around 100,000 stars. But this is just the beginning! The stars we can easily see are all in our corner of the Milky Way Galaxy. The entire galaxy numbers about 100 billion stars. And beyond the Milky Way are other galaxies with many shapes and sizes. Around 100 billion such galaxies are known to exist.

Taking the Milky Way as an average galaxy, the total number of known stars is thus (100 billion)2=(1011)2=1022. These estimated stars number
10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, when we write this number out. This figure would be pronounced as "ten
billion trillion" stars.

Suppose these stars were divided up among the world's total population of 6 billion people. Then each person on Earth would receive more than 1½ trillion
stars!"

Mind boggling? It is for me! And yet, God calls every one of these stars by name. He knows it's size, characteristics, exact proximity, and life span!

Have you ever stopped to examine a snowflake? Recently on one of my daily walks, big fluffy bits of coldness were falling all around as I meandered down the winding country roads. It was one of the first snows of the season, and the pavement was still warmed enough by the sun that the snowflakes melted almost instantly on contact. As I caught a few on my black glove, I marveled at the intricacy of God's creation. I've been told that no two snowflakes are exactly alike, and as I looked at the thousands falling around me, I had to ask why? Why did God care enough to create such beauty and variety in something so temporal? 99.9% of snowflakes fall the ground, having never been appreciated for their beauty, never seen by human eyes, never thought of, and yet God made each one a breathtaking work of art. What is the purpose?

Another day I examining a blade of grass and a dried leaf, and wondering why the Lord is so good to show Himself in nature so clearly. Everything in His creation is perfectly designed and maintained. God's fingerprints are all over it - it's beauty, it's symmetry, it's order and predictability. Everything! And yet, this life is but a vapor, it appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away. Why all this?

The reason is so comforting and faith-building! To show how much greater He cares for every detail of our lives!!

"If God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?"

If so much care is given to an earth that is one day going to be destroyed, how much more will He not guide, care for, and order every detail of our lives? We worry and fret and fume about the future, wondering what it's going to hold. We imagine this scenario or that, trying to figure out how it's going to come together, all the while forgetting that five sparrows are sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God. We are of far more value than many sparrows, and God even has every hair on our head numbered!

God, this God who has a name for every star, stamps His fingerprint on every snowflake, brings each season in it's proper, predictable time, and cares for the smallest, most insignificant bird -this same exact God cares for your life. Every step is carefully planned and ordered, all by a loving Father who has nothing but your best interests in mind. It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. Trust Him!

quote source

Saturday, December 09, 2006

If...


"If all the time that Christians spent in anxiety, or in seeking advice from other people, or in foolish speculation, or in making plans and building air castles, was spent in patient and thoughtful prayer, what vast fields of satisfactory light and clear divine guidance would be opened up to them. They would learn the knowledge of God's will on all lines, such as would give a deep restful assurance which would make them spiritual giants."
G.D. Watson

Monday, December 04, 2006

What is a call?

A young woman puzzled about the call of God once asked Ron Davies, a missionary home on furlough, "Please, Mr Davies, what is a call?" His face lit up. He beamed at her and took up his Bible. Turning the pages of it, he found Mark 16:15, showed it to her, and read aloud the words, " 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature! The call! 'That is the call," he said. 'God expects every Christian to go somewhere with the Gospel. All you have to do is to find out just where He wants you to go. It may be here in your own home town, or it may be He wants you to go to Africa, to China or to Kashmir. If you are a Christian, you must preach Christ somewhere!"
-Lal Sahib


"Why do you need a voice when you have a verse?"
-Jim Elliot

"Could a mariner sit idle if he heard the drowing cry? Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die? Could a firemen sit idle, let man burn and give no hand? Can you sit as ease in Zion with the world around you damned?"
-Leonard Ravenhill



"You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most…It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance.”
-John Wesley


"God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life, that I may burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like You, Lord Jesus."
-Jim Elliot

Friday, December 01, 2006

How Christian Soldiers Are Made


The Lord trains His soldiers, not by allowing them to lie on feather beds, but by turning them out, and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long march with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs.

This is the way in which He makes them soldiers; not by dressing them up in fine uniforms, to swagger at the barrack gates, and to be fine gentlemen in the eyes of the loungers in the park. God knows that soldiers are only to be made in battle; they are not to be grown in peaceful times. We may grow the stuff of which soldiers are made; but warriors are really educated by the smell of powder, in the midst of whizzing bullets and roaring cannonades; not in soft and peaceful times.

Well, Christian, may not this account for it all? Is not thy Lord bringing out thy graces and making them grow? Is He not developing in you the qualities of the soldier by throwing you into the heat of the battle, and should you not use every appliance to come off conqueror?
-C.H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mission Bible School - Sep. 26th

After the intense schedule on Monday, Tuesday's laid back pace was a welcome break. Phil started the day out by casually standing up and asking how many of us were musically inclined. Already getting used to his informal, personal way of addressing us, no-one was hesitant to respond. He didn't tell us that the normal worship leaders couldn't be there that day, he just proceeded to probe and was quick in finding out who played what. To our utter shock, he called myself and Joe B. up front to lead the singing that morning. Phil took uncanny delight in drawing us outside of our comfort zone, and he sure did succeed that time! I love playing piano for congregational singing, but this was a keyboard, no music was provided, and most of the songs chosen were newer praise and worship ones I wasn't familiar with. Talk about a frantic feeling! Fortunately Joe was an exceptional guitar player, and knew all the songs that I didn't. I was sure grateful to have someone to hide behind!

Throughout the remaining four days, Steve Byler from VA had the morning sessions on mission history. This particular morning he spent a good deal of time sharing his testimony, and his journey to the ministries God had allowed him to be a part of. It was beautiful to see how the various things the Lord had brought him through in the last 10 years set a perfect foundation for many of the truths Phil was going to bring to us in the following days about what we were going to face as we got involved in God's work. Seeing God blend the two speakers topics into one overall picture of His heart and how He applied to each one of our hearts individually was exciting to watch unfold.
That very morning, God has already started a convicting and refining work in my heart. During the previous evening's spontaneous prayer meeting, Phil had asked a very heart-searching question that troubled me very much. He explained that one of the biggest hindrances to letting God work in our life that week would be a comparing spirit. Right up front he asked us, "how many of you judged each other by outward appearances when you walked in here this morning, and formed a mental opinion of that person's spiritual condition?" Ouch....that hit close to home. I had done exactly that, but why did he have to make it sound so ugly? I mean, a person's outward appearance has something to do with their inner heart condition, doesn't it? A discerning heart is important!

So my reasoning went, but it didn't change or get rid of the conviction I was under. Little by little that morning, the Lord began to reveal areas of spiritual pride in my life - things I needed to get rid of for Him to work. As I finally agreed with His opinion of my life, my eyes started to open to His heart for us as young people that week. Coming from extremely varying backgrounds and convictions, we were all holding each other at arms length, and Phil's discerning eye prompted the previous night's question. As I let God start to re-construct my view of standards and unity among His children, walls were broken down that let God's Spirit come and move in a mighty way among us.

That afternoon there was a marked difference in relationships already, and our growing ease in relating to each other paved the way perfectly for Phil's session. He wanted to speak to us about one of the biggest hindrances in Christian ministry, and he started out by calling one of the young men up.

"So, Joe, tell us a little about yourself. We all haven't had a whole lot of time to get to know each other yet, so fill us in a bit. How many siblings do you have? What do you do for work?"

Phil's prompting gave Joe the inspiration to start talking, and no sooner had he got into it, when Phil ran over to the side, grabbed a full length mirror, and stuck it right in front of Joe's face. Joe stopped, looking questioningly at Phil, and he with a straight face told him to look back ahead and continue sharing! With a baffled expression, Joe attempted to pick up where he left off, only to find himself staring straight right back at him! Concentration completely lost, he finally turned back to Phil in desperation and said, "I can't do this! All I see is myself and I can't focus at all on what I'm trying to say!"
This illustration has stuck with me like few others ever have. Self-consciousness has been one of the hardest things for me to get over when sharing the Gospel or even serving my brothers and sisters in Christ. When looking at that soul who needs Jesus, or that family member that needs encouragement, too often all I see is myself. "How am I coming across? Did that sound stupid? Oh, I didn't say that just right, how can I fix it?" After the encounter is over, my mind races back over every detail of the conversation, and laments at all the things I didn't say that I think I should have, or the things I did say that I should have omitted. Condemnation settles in, and soon I am not lamenting over and focusing on that soul who needs Jesus, or that sister that needed encouragement, I'm grieving at what a fool I made of myself.

The remedy - not a pleasant prospect. Phil explained that the only way of getting rid of this sinful self-conscious pride and ego is complete death to self. Out of Phil's many and varied experiences, he has discovered that God most often brings this about through those who are very near and dear to us. Misunderstandings, criticisms, reproofs, intimidation, and slander, sadly, oftentimes from our fellow Christians are what work these dying experience in us. They destroy our self-image completely and cast us upon God. When our esteem with men is lost, our desire for God's approval goes way up and we become God-conscious vs. self-conscious. Phil said that these are going to be some of the most painful, heart-wrenching, and devastating times we will ever experience, and if we let them, the pain will be so great that it will kill us. And that is exactly why God brings them into our life. God must get us out of the way completely before He can effectively use us. We must come to the place where we are completely dead in our hearts to either the praise or slander of men. Our eyes will be so fixed on desiring the approval of God, it will not matter to us anymore.

This was sobering to all of us. I personally have not experienced this to a great degree, and I realize that if my life is going to be all God wants it to be, a lot of self is going to have to go. Though it can be a temptation to fret and worry about what the future holds, I can trust that nothing is going to come along that is not for my ultimate good and growth. God's faithful, convicting, and refining work in my life is an encouragement, and I'm eager to see His hand in even greater ways!
Many things about tomorrow,
I don't seem to understand;
But I know Who hold tomorrow,
And I know Who hold my hand.


May God bless you all as you continue to press forward, trusting Him to lead you each step of the way!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

God's Shaping Process


The hammer of thy discipline, O Lord
Strikes fast and hard. Life's anvil rings again
To Thy strong strokes. And yet we know 'tis then
That from the heart's hot iron all abroad
The rich glow spreads. Great Fashioner divine,
Who spareth not, in Thy far-seeing plan,
The blows that shape the character of man,
Or fire that makes him yield to touch of Thine,
Strike on, then, if Thou wilt! For Thou alone
Canst rightly test the temper of our will,
Or tell how these base matals may fulfil
Thy purpose - making all our life Thine own.
Only we do beseech Thee, let the pain
Of fiery ordeals through which we go
Shed all around us such a warmth and glow,
Such cheerful showers of sparks in golden rain,
That hard hearts may be melted, cold hearts fired,
And callous hearts be taught to feel and see
That discipline is more to be desired
Than all the ease that keeps us back from Thee.
-author unknown

Thursday, November 23, 2006

In memory of Jamie Hilsgen


One of the first evenings we spent with the Hilsgen family following the death of their son, I noticed a plaque they had pulled out. It read as following:
Jamie Christopher Hilsgen
Dependant on God, Christ-bearer

One who has yielded his will to the Lord and purposed that he will wait for God's timing in all areas of his life rather than manipulating his own way. This
dependence on God enables him to be a fit vessel to carry the message of Christ.

As I thought back on the past 13 years that I've known Jamie, I could honestly say this was the testi
mony of his life. As my parents and I were driving to his family's place one evening, we were reflecting on his life, and dad made the comment that Jamie was always happy and content. As the days progressed and I thought about this, my heart was sobered as I pondered my own heart. Death has never struck so close to my life before, and as I've stood face to face with it in one who was like a brother to me, eternity has never seemed so real. What am I living for? What are my priorities? What will be the testimony I leave behind when the Lord calls me home? These have been just some of the questions that have filled my heart these past nine days.

Thanks to each one of you who has prayed for the Hilsgen family. Though not without many tears and struggles, funeral plans went relatively smoothly. Paperwork turned out to be a breeze for burying Jamie in the orchard he had painstakingly planted. The weather was unusually beautiful for a later November day, and the home funeral deeply touched the nearly 400 people who attended.

Jamie was a young man of great skill, and his passion was working with his hands - especially the traditional crafts of by-gone days. He apprenticed under a nationally known blacksmith, Tom Latane, and this man built Jamie's casket out of hand-planed, white pine, and fastened it with hand-forged nails. The rope used for the handles was hand-braided, and it was told me that no power tools were used on any part of it.

The family conducted the funeral, and it was one of the deepest, most intimate times of remembering and honoring a deceased loved one I've ever attended. After the service, the casket was brought to a nearby hand-built hay wagon, and carried to Jamie's orchard by two of their draft horses. Among the 250 fruit trees he grafted, we held a precious, hour long grave side service. The hand-dug grave, the family's involvement, the times of singing together, and most of all, the way Jesus Christ was lifted up made this an unforgettable time.

When those who knew J
amie look at all he accomplished in his short 24 years on this earth, they sometimes fail to meditate on the Source of his strength. Jamie knew that he was talented, but he did not let this knowledge go to his head. He realized clearly that everything good in his life he owed to Jesus Christ, and he was not hesitant to give credit where credit was due.

Some ask, why did God take a dedicated young man of such potential? The accident was not a result of recklessness or sin, so why didn't God intervene? Why wasn't the drug addict who repeatedly drives under the influence of alcohol taken instead of Jamie?

As the tears and questions flowed throughout the first seve
ral days, God brought some precious and comforting verses to all of our hearts. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" and "the Lord does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked." Why did God take Jamie? The answer is simple. Jamie was ready, and God knew it would bring more glory to Him by taking Jamie home than leaving him here. Jamie is gone, but his testimony and influence is alive in many hearts, and will bear fruit for years to come.

The question I ask myself, and the question I ask you is, "What is the testimony we will leave behind some day?" Will it point to Christ and eternity, or one lived for the temporal, fleeting pleasures of this puff of smoke we call life? It is so brief, and can be over so soon, and it is urgent and imperative that we make every moment count for eternity and the One who lives to give us life. Not one of us knows when the sunset hours of our life are being lived. The night is coming - let us labor for the land where there is no sun to set, where tears are not thought of, and where we will forever be with the One we call Lord and Saviour.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

He knoweth the way that I take....

I soon hope to post a bit of the last week for you, but until then I want to give you this at least. Having been gone almost a whole week on and off, plus the emotional and physical strain of the funeral and it's preparation has been draining to say the least. However, as usual, God has taught me much through it, and some of it is expressed in this poem/song. Though much of the recent events we don't understand, we can trust the heart of our Father and His perfect love for each one of His children.

When God says "No" to you, it's such a blow to you
And all your hopes and dreams unravel at the seams;
When God says "Wait" to you, when God seems late to you
It's hard to rest within His will, it's hard to trust "Just be still"
It's hard to simply wait until it's all made plain

When God works silently, in ways we cannot see
And troubles multiply so that we ache and sigh.
When God does not seem kind, when hope is hard to find
It's hard to rest within His will, it's hard to trust "Just be still"
It's hard to simply wait until it's all made plain

He who holds us in His hands, has no problems only plans
He who has control of all sees the smallest sparrow fall
He who works where no one knows, does not sleep as we suppose
But works in all things, in great and small things
For His own glory and our best good.
-Bryan Jeffrey Leech

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Prayer Requested

I would earnestly ask your prayers for some very dear and close friends of ours. Yesterday afternoon while heading into town, their oldest son, Jamie, accidentally pulled out in front of a loaded milk truck at a dangerous intersection close to their house. He was killed instantly. 24, unmarried, and still at home, he was the life-blood of their family. They are taking it extremely hard, though clinging to the promises of God. In the couple hours we were able to to spend with them last night, we were blessed by their steadfast trust in our Father.

Please lift the Hilsgen family up in your prayers, especially these next several days. Being an extremely close-knit family, they are hoping and praying they will be allowed a home burial. Please pray for the legal details of that to be worked through quickly and smoothly. Also pray for the practical and physical out-workings of the next several weeks. Much of their business is done from home which Jamie was intricately involved in, and he has left behind a very sizable dairy goat herd that will need care. Just the responsibilities they are going to have to take over right now is overwhelming.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Not Called?

"While sailing to the New Hebrides John Patton lead the Captain of the ship to Christ. At the close of the voyage John made it clear to the Captain the Island he wished to be let off on. The Captain knowing the Island was filled with head hunting cannibals refused saying they would be dead in minutes of arriving on the Island. John Patton boldly stated to the Captain. "Sir, we died before we came!"
-John Patton
"It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home."
-Hudson Taylor
"You wonder why people choose fields away from the States when young people at home are drifting because no one wants to take time to listen to their problems. I'll tell you why I left. Because those Stateside young people have every opportunity to study, hear, and understand the Word of God in their own language, and these Indians have no opportunity whatsoever. I have had to make a cross of two logs, and lie down on it, to show the Indians what it means to crucify a man. When there is that much ignorance over here and so much knowledge and opportunity over there, I have no question in my mind why God sent me here. Those whimpering Stateside young people will wake up on the Day of Judgment condemned to worse fates than these demon-fearing Indians, because, having a Bible, they were bored with it---while these never heard of such a thing as writing."
-Jim Elliot
"Answering a student's question, 'Will the heathen who have not heard the Gospel be saved?' thus, 'It is more a question with me whether we, who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not, can be saved."
- Charles Spurgeon
For an excellent article on the 'why' of missions, be sure to read this. If read with an an open heart, it will dispel any notion that each and every Christian is not called to be a missionary. Home or abroad, it is the very heartbeat of God. For another great quote, be sure to also read this post.

photo credit

Monday, November 13, 2006

Believe, Commit, Delight!

Trust in the Lord,
and do good;
so shalt thou dwell in the land,
and verily thou shalt be fed.

Delight thyself also
in the Lord;
and He shall give thee
the desires of thine heart.

Commit thy way
unto the Lord;
trust also in Him;
and He shall bring it to pass.

Rest in the Lord,
and wait patiently for Him.

Ps. 37:3-5,7a

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Qualification for Serving the Lord's Purposes

The Lord does really need men and women to serve His ends.... His need may be very great, and yet He may not be able now to open the way for you to come in to serve Him. . . The Lord is waiting until your heart is broken over this whole situation... It must be a matter of heart-love for the Lord and for what is His, and not for the work,
the ministry; not for anything but for your Lord and what is His. When you get there, and you are found upon your face before the Lord breaking your heart because you see He is not getting what He ought to have, when this becomes the travail of your soul, you will find the Lord will begin to do something.
-T. Austin-Sparks.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Political Idolatry

This last week as another election has come and gone, many thoughts have been going through my heart and mind. With acknowledgement that this is a very touchy subject, I would like to plainly give due respect to those who hold differing opinions on this matter. I share this e-mail forward, not to provoke a debate, but to stimulate thought and consideration to something very relevant to the age we live in. While I did vote and have no personal convictions against it, this article so aptly addresses the excesses of patriotism among many Christians that has grieved my heart for some time now.

Often I have wondered what would happen if the same diligence, effort, money, time, and fervency that went into walking precincts, attending political rallies, passing out literature, and decorating our vehicles with bumper stickers, was used in giving out tracts, persuading our neighbors of Christ's claims on their life, and praying for the millions across this world who are dying without ever hearing the name of Christ once. If that same zeal was used for the eternal cause of souls, I believe the effects would be staggering and worldwide. What truly are our priorities? This man's message is strong, but I believe it is worth considering....


REPENT of POLITICAL IDOLATRY!
-by Andrew Strom.

"Something I find a little distressing in America is that the Christians are so often relying on politics to accomplish spiritual results. Thus they ally themselves fervently with one particular party and treat it like "God has won" if that party wins - and "God has lost" if it doesn't. I almost see this as a kind of blindness.

The fact is - most of America's problems today are spiritual problems that can only be solved by a sweeping move of God's Spirit. Yet so often we rely on Politics and Politicians to accomplish many of these things. How bizarre!

How bizarre that we strive and strive to get the "right (worldly) guy" elected. How bizarre that we treat the President like some kind of mega-preacher or mega-minister. We put our "hope" in him and his Political party for all kinds of spiritual things!

I don't know of any other country where the Christians put such hope in worldly political parties for things that ONLY GOD CAN DO. Is this not a kind of idolatry??

Yes - there are issues of righteousness to be concerned with - and it is good to vote. But what is with this obsession with Politics amongst the Christians? Do we not realize it is a kind of "phony war"? Imagine if we spent all that time praying instead of striving for Political victory. We might be actually having a Revival right now!

Can Politics make America truly righteous? NO! Only GOD can do that!...."

-Andrew Strom

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Announcement...

Recent events in my life have necessitated a temporary break from blogging, and there will be no updates for a time. I hope to get back to it eventually, but for right now I cannot put one more thing into my nearly overflowing life. God's placed many new things in my path these last two weeks, and until my life settles into a little more of a routine, you won't be seeing much of me. Lord willing, I'll be back in a couple weeks with the continuation of YBS, and hopefully some other things that have been recently laid on my heart. Till then, God bless you all!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Victory

"Let us view every new attack of Satan with joy, knowing that it is but one more opportunity to prove the faithfulness and conquering power of Jesus Christ. "

Thursday, October 19, 2006

On waiting...

"God is never in a hurry, but spends long years with those whom He expects to use greatly, and never thinks the days of preperation too long, or too dull. When He permits delay, He is not inactive. He is getting ready His instruments, ripening their powers; and at the appointed moment they shall arise equal to their tasks"

-Phillip Brooks

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mission Bible School - Sep. 25th Concluded

As mentioned before, Luke's first two sessions were from the seminar, 'Cat and Dog Theology,' but his last three lectures centered on another aspect of UnveilinGLORY's ministry. What he taught on Monday afternoon is from 'The Story of the Bible,' and Unveiled at Last, also available at this link. Top and Bottom Line Theology focused on the thread woven throughout the entire Bible of God's heart concerning missions.

Luke started with the question, "How does God get the greatest glory He could ever have through our lives?" He replied with the answer that people from all nations brought to Christ will bring Him the greatest glory. God gets greater glory when He unites that which is diverse and that is why He wants to redeem people from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation. Luke took us on a walk through the Bible, showing us from Scripture what he had just stated.

God first brings out His heart for His glory to be shown to all nations in the Abrahamic covenant. The "Top Line" of the Covenant is the fact that God wants to bless Abraham. With that comes the "Bottom Line" responsibility: Abraham in turn is to reach out to all the peoples of the face of the earth. Here in Genesis is the beginning of the Great Comission theme. God never intended that His blessings be reserved solely for His children. We are to be channels through which they flow, not buckets hoarding them to ourselves.

As I shared in my last post, Luke explained that Cat Christians selectively read their Bible, and the result is that many times they focus so much on the blessings and promises that they miss God's heart and desire in giving them to us. Here's an example to explain what he was getting at. He asked us to finish this verse, "Be still and....." Of course we all quoted the part that said, "... know that I am God." It's a beautiful verse that most of us have memorized. But he proved to us that we only know the first third of the verse. Did you know that the rest says..."I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Ps. 46:10 There's God's heart in blessing His children right there - so that His name will be glorified.

As I've been reading lately, it's absolutely amazing how many "top and bottom line" passages there are. The Bible is full of them! The few that I have written down that were covered at YBS is three pages worth! God's glory being shown to every kindred, tongue, and nation is the very heartbeat of the Bible, and yet it's so easy to gloss over that aspect and selectively pick out the blessings God has for us in those passages. We are blessed to be a blessing, not to live a comfortable, easy, happy, trouble-free life.

unfortunately, many Christians view Christianity as a "bookshelf" with lots of areas to become involved in. Usually, missions is only one small thin paperback among the "giants," and is treated as something for those special "called" ones instead of getting the priority of being what is closest to God's heart.

That is, in a very condensed sort of way, an overview of Luke's five sessions. Even being there was, as he described, trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant. We felt so full and I personally could have gone home right then and there and been completely satisfied.

Supper was late that evening, so Phil took the opportunity to talk to us young people before dismissing us. There's no way I can even come close to describing the conviction we were all under by that evening, and the ways God applied these truths to our own individual hearts, but suffice it to say that the Spirit of God was heavy upon all of us. Phil spent 45 minutes just personally sharing with us what God had been speaking to him about, and ended by inviting whoever was interested to meet for prayer upstairs after supper and just have a time of seeking the Lord together. He intentionally left every evening free to allow the Lord to lead, and that facet of YBS was one of my favorites.

17 out of the 23 stayed, and we had two wonderful hours of praying together, sharing how the Lord was convicting our own hearts, and praying for each other, all interspersed by Phil's encouragement and challenges to our life. The transparency and openness God blessed our group with (all of us practically strangers to each other) was incredible. The heart sharing, confession, brokeness, and corporate prayer for one another was unlike anything I've ever experienced before. I really believe this evening paved the way for the blessings God showered on our group the rest of the week. We thought we were coming for missionary training, (which we got) but first, God had to deal with the pride in our heart and show us the very foundation stone of missions - desiring the glory of God above all else. Our ambitions, our plans, our desires, and our goals went out the door as we again laid our life down to be used in whatever way would most glorify Him.

We left that evening, tired, but overflowing with joy at what the Lord did. We were rejoicing and marveling over the unity and singlehearted focus God gave to our group, and we could hardly wait to see what the Lord wanted to teach us the rest of the week. He did a lot, believe me! More about that next time!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Make Me a Leaf"

"Dear Father, help me to learn to be a leaf in the wind for your glory. Carried whithersoever Your Spirit desires, and not concerned about the "weather" of my life."

A leaf has no emotions to become worried about an approaching storm or a fellow leaf's actions. He does not become hurt in the midst of a fierce storm which batters him. He carries no load of agonizing over which direction to go nor does he strive to make 'God's will' happen. The rest and peace which the leaf enjoys is that of the branch abiding in the Vine. No care or task but simply to abide.

The leaf has no care or task but to be a leaf, available for God's wind to do whatever it wants with it. Sometimes on the wings of that wind, a leaf soars joyfully above the earth and its distresses. Sometimes that wind carries it away; away from all the other leaves and all that is known to some small crevice in a rock to work there all alone. Sometimes that wind takes it down to the ground to be trampled on by thoughtless feet or to be enjoyed by playful children.

Still other times that leaf is taken from the ground to a burning pile to be burned by those who would destroy it. But it doesn't fret or cry out and in the flames it glows and sparkles as the fire moves along every fiber of it's being. Even in its end, it rejoices and is made glorious by the very thing meant to harm it!

"Lord, make me a leaf!"

-R.L.N ~1999


P.S. YBS post coming hopefully soon.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Life giving hunger...

"You can never give another person that which you have found (spiritually), but you can make him homesick for what you have."
-Oswald Chambers

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Mission Bible School - Sep. 25th Part 1

Monday morning started out at 9:00 with a short song service, and then Phil's announcement that Luke Kuepfer's schedule had changed, and instead of giving us a lecture every one of the weekdays, we were going to get all five lectures that day. Luke and his family are in the US for a furlough from their work in Thailand with Global Tribes Outreach, and are currently living in CO. We chuckled a bit when he told us he was going to be teaching on Cat and Dog Theology, and I think all of us wondered a bit what we had got ourselves into. :-)

Our chuckles soon turn into awe as Luke dove right into his subject by reading Genesis 1. Granted, the awe did not come immediately, as we were all wondering why in the world he was reading to us about creation. I think all of us were trying to figure out where he was planning on going after this, and we somewhat spaced off these familiar words and impatiently wished he would just get on with things. When he finished, he looked around, and to our chagrin, asked for an honest raise of hands of those of us who were bored. I think just about every hand went up in the room. He went on to explain that most Christians are bored with this passage because it has nothing to do with us, it is all about God and what He did. We tend to view the Bible from a people-centered view, and therefore most of us don't get excited until Genesis 3. Why? We now have something to relate to! Sin has entered the world, and thus the glorious message of salvation! The Bible now talks about us and we see something worth living for!

He explained that when most of us are asked what the Bible is all about, we will answer 'God,' but we live and act as if it was all about us. This is the very center of Cat and Dog Theology, and without getting too long winded, I'll try to cover some of the things that spoke the most to me.

Cat and Dog Theology came from the well-known incredible differences between cats and dogs. Many of you have probably heard the joke that centers on the different thought processes between cats and dogs. Cats think of their masters this way...."You love me, you feed me, you shelter me, you pet me - I must be god!!" Dogs think..."You love me, you feed me, you shelter me, you pet me - you must be god!" In Luke's parallel, these are two different kinds of Christians. The one type of Christian walks through life looking for how many blessings they can get from God, and the other type seeks God's honor and glory as their ultimate goal. As a result, cat Christians begin to think that life is all about them. Because of this, they make a foundational shift in their theology. Their focus goes off of God glorifying Himself through blessing them, and instead focuses on receiving the blessings from God. Subsequently, they become primary and God's glory becomes secondary.

Humanism has it's root in this thinking, and is manifest in two forms.
  1. Liberal humanism states "The chief end of existence is the happiness of man while they are alive." Out of this is born the "health and wealth gospel"
  2. Evangelical Humanism says, "The reason for Christianity is the happiness of mankind after they die (i.e. making sure people don't go to hell).
That is cat and dog theology in a nutshell. The applications are endless, but the ones that really spoke to me were on 'selective application' and the 'winner's circle.'

In selective application, Luke brought out the point the many times we only apply those passages of Scripture which make us "feel good." Rarely are we reading (much less memorizing) passages which deal with God's desire to glorify Himself through trials and the tough times in life....

Why aren't we taught lessons like...
  • God wants you to live, breathe, eat and die in slavery to teach future generations a lesson?
  • Your siblings are going to sell you off as a slave so God can use you in a foreign land?
  • You are to be a prophet to the church, be jailed, and see no fruit for the majority of your years of ministry?
  • God may want you thrown into a blazing fire to show His power?
  • God may want you in jail to share your faith with others?
and many more.....

The 'winner's circle' mentality is very similar. When Cats read their Bible, they always focus on the major characters of the story, never the minor characters. Why don't we ever relate to: Job's children? The 70,000 fighting men who died because David sinned? David and Bathsheba's firstborn? The firstborn of all Egyptians who died? Korah's wife and children? And many more....

Luke brought out that these people were just as important to God, and were used just as much by Him as those who we lift up as the hero's in the Bible. For myself personally, it's often been a challenge to feel useful and fulfilled where God has placed me, simply because I am comparing the fruit I see or don't see in my life with that of the great hero's of the faith. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am where God wants me right now, but to my shame, my attitude has been one of doubt and disbelief that God can really be glorified through these simple things my life is made up of.

God really brought this lesson close to my heart while observing Christian Lapp's life. Granted, he did not choose that his mother would be on drugs and alcohol while he was in the womb, and he had no say about the doctor's care of him while he was a baby, but his life nevertheless is living proof that God can be glorified through complete helplessness and dependence on others. Desiring God's glory above all else is a willingness to be used however, and wherever by God, no matter what the personal sacrifice to ourself, just to see His name lifted up and honored.

For those of you who have heard the famous sermon by Paris Reidhead, 'Ten Shekels and a Shirt', what I've shared will probably make a lot more sense to you. Luke's sessions were a huge expansion on this sermon, and I don't feel as if I've hardly touched on what he shared. If he's ever in your area and you have the opportunity, I would really encourage you to hear Luke yourself. There are also many materials available from UnveilinGLORY's bookstore, both in book, audio and powerpoint/DVD form. The principles he teaches truly have the potential to change your whole perspective on life and missions!

Well, I see right now I'm not going to get through all of Monday, so that will have to wait for my next post. There, I'll try to recap what he taught us about 'Top and Bottom Line Principles,' and how many of us only read half our Bibles. I'll also share about the wonderful blessing God closed our evening with and how it changed many of our attitudes towards the whole week!

Till next time, God bless!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mission Bible School - Sep. 23rd-24th

Saturday, Sep. 23rd dawned bright and early for my parents and I as we headed to the airport around 5:00. Life had been so busy the previous few weeks I hadn't had time to get excited, but now that we were finally on our way I could hardly contain myself. Not only was I flying to CO, but I had mom and dad all to myself for a couple hours - a rather rare occurrence in our family.

We started off the morning with breakfast at Perkins together, and I was even able to convince dad that caramel lattes were something worth bragging about! It was so nice to have the quiet, relaxed atmosphere Perkins offered, and gave us a chance for some one on one time. I wouldn't trade that start of my trip for anything!

When we got to the airport, I was dismayed to find my flight had been delayed two hours. I guess there had been some severe weather in the Midwest part of the country, and had set tons of flights back. I resigned myself to lots of time reading and journaling, and was also pleased to find a bookstore to browse through after I was past security. The store was empty except for me and the cashier, and just as I was walking out she pleasantly asked me about my headcovering. Thrilled at an opportunity to share Christ, I was surprised to find out that she was a born-again Christian and went to a Baptist church in the area. Originally from Ethiopia, she had immigrated about seven years ago, but had Mennonite relatives back in Africa. We had a very good conversation, and I think both of us were encouraged through it!

When my plane finally left the ground, I was a little disappointed to push through the clouds after about 10 minutes, but the breathtaking views and the pleasant seat companion I had soon kept me plenty involved. As I viewed the beautiful upperside of the clouds, and the shadow of the plane circled by a rainbow, I was blessed by the spiritual parallel God brought to my heart. We only see the underside of the clouds of trials God brings our way. Oftentimes they may be accompanied by storms and rain, and may bring apparent destruction and sorrows into our lives. All the time while we are asking God why and complaining of the hardness in our life, He is looking at the beautiful upper side of the clouds and rejoicing in the fruit He's working in our lives. A simple truth? Yes, but it blessed me as sometimes only simple things can!

I arrived in CO about 1:00, and had an uneventful trip from the airport to Loveland. I was blessed to find my host family a sweet older couple, and we soon got acquainted as the afternoon progressed. I was shown to my huge room with my own bathroom, and from that time forth was treated royally! :-) Later that afternoon their daughter Katie and husband Phil, the pastor of the church, came over with their son Christian. I was so inspired and blessed as I saw the work God has done through their adopted little boy. A prison baby, who's mother was on illegal drugs and alcohal, and also who had been dropped by the doctor seconds after delivery was completely dependent on his parents for the simplest tasks. Almost seven, and unable to speak or even sit up, he was the perfect picture of the lessons Phil wanted to instill upon our minds the next week of our dependency upon God. Seeing his helplessness, and Phil and Katie's dedication and love for him gave me such a picture of God's love towards us. Hearing Phil's stories of how God has used Christian in so many ways to bring spiritual truths to people's hearts, gave me a new picture of God's heart in using even the smallest, and seemingly most insignificant members of the body of Christ for His glory.

Sunday morning was a treat as I got to meet my two housemates. Naomi is a nurse in training from MA, and Anna a big sister with lots of younger siblings just like me from PA! Church was followed by a fellowship meal, and thus began the adventure of meeting all the other students!

Sunday afternoon I was so blessed to be able to visit with Cheri Cross, a very dear friend of mine from there in Loveland. Though we only had a very short hour and a half together that afternoon at Starbucks, I was very blessed and encouraged, and we left with the hope of a repeat the next weekend. Thanks so much, Cheri, for you friendship and dedication to the Lord!

Sunday evening, all of the youth were invited over the indoor horse arena of one of the young married men in the church, and we had several hours of volleyball and general "get-to-know-each-other" time. I was very grateful for this as it gave us all such a head start to Monday. The ice was broken that evening, and paved the way for some awesome blessing we received the next day. I'll make you wait for that till another time, though!

Monday, October 02, 2006

I'm Back Home

After a wonderful nine days in CO, I'm back home safe and sound! The Lord blessed beyond measure, and I can't wait to be able to share it with you all. I couldn't hardly do justice to everything that happened out there and what I learned in one post, so I'll covering each day or maybe two individually. Photos will be abundant, (I have over 500 to choose from) and sessions covered in full. For now though, a picture is going to have to suffice. Hopefully I'll have time soon to work on the first post!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Lessons in Life

After an extremely busy last couple weeks, I'm forcing myself to sit down and at least write a little of something before I take off. For those of you who check my blog frequently, thank you for your patience!! Fall is a hectic time of year because of harvest and canning, and blogging has had to take much less of a priority.

The Lord has opened an opportunity for me to fly down to CO for a week, (I leave tomorrow) where I will be attending a youth Bible school centering on missions and evangelism. As well as having some interesting and inspiring sounding speakers, we'll be doing some college campus witnessing and street preaching/singing etc. I'm looking forward to this for the most part, though I must admit my flesh is trembling a bit! It will be a very stretching, but I'm sure a very rewarding time. Keep me in your prayers if you think of it! I'm looking forward to seeing what the Lord wants to teach me, and my desire is to keep a tender, open heart before Him. Hopefully I'll be able to cover the week in depth when I return. Until then, you'll have to exercise patience again as I'll have no opportunity to blog while there. :-)

I was very blessed today in reading a quote by an unknown author off of a friend's blog, and thought it fit so well with what the Lord has been teaching me lately.
"Ministry is giving when you feel like keeping, praying for others when you need to be prayed for, feeding others when your own soul is hungry, living truth before people even when you can't see results, hurting with other people even when your own hurt can't be spoken, keeping your word even when it is not convenient, it is being faithful when your flesh wants to run away."
In a large family, it's easy to identify with many of these feelings, and I think the Lord has been bringing an extra measure of stresses along lately to teach me that His grace is just as abundant and even more so when I have absolutely nothing more in myself to give. What a precious principle and promise that Christ's strength is made perfect in our weakness!

I leave you for a bit with a poem that has meant a lot to me. Blessings to you all!

Is not the way to heavenly gain
Through earthly grief and loss?

Rest must be won by toil and pain -

The crown repays the Cross.


As woods, when shaken by the breeze,

Take deeper, firmer root,

As winter's frosts but make the trees

Abound in summer fruit;


So every heaven-sent pang and throe

That Christian firmness tries,

But nerves us for our work below,

And forms us for the skies.

- Henry Francis Lyte

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A gold mine at our fingertips

Precious thing are deeply hidden. Pebbles and stones and autumn leaves abound everywhere, but gold and silver and precious stones are hidden deep in the bowels and rocky ribs of the earth; shells cover the sea-shore, but pearls are hidden in it's depths. And so with truth. Some truths may lie on the surface of the Bible, but those that will altogether satisfy and distinguish us and make us wise unto salvation are found only after diligent search, even as for hid treasure. -Samuel Logan Brengle

I open it, my fingers trace the lines
That Wesley's, Moody's, Spurgeon's eyes have scanned.
Beneath my fingertips a promise shines,
A diamond unearthed by my seeking hand,
A gem that countless saints have touched before
And left among this jewel casket's store.

I searched as one who searches long for gold

And oh, what gleaming nuggets I unearthed.

All that my seeking heart and hands can hold

I gather, and I know their precious worth,
And strange, the vein has never failed, though man

Has mined it's channel since the world began.

The Holy Book, That gives it's wealth unpriced

To every seeker after God and Christ.

-Grace Noll Crowell