Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The little blessings in life...

I still remember the Mother's Day about 10 years ago when dad promised mom a glider rocker. We weren't able to buy it at the time, so her gift was given in the form of a coupon. A combination of forgetfulness, and higher priorities postponed this gift until this last Spring , when finally the box arrived from JCPenny with mom's new chair. We all were thrilled to pieces to finally have it, but our excitement was shortlived when it broke a couple days later. There was a defect in the frame, and a main pin snapped leaving us with a severely sagging and debilitated chair. To make a long story short, we decided to take it back, and wait yet again until we could get a better quality that would hopefully stand up better to the vigors of a family of 9! Well, God had different plans!

Tonight, dad made his weekly trip to the dump and decided to peek inside the construction dumpster as occasionally people will throw away things that still have life left in them. Guess what he found tonight? :-) With only a few missing screws, we're all in agreement that we have been blessed beyond measure. It's just another proof of God's love and care, and a reminder that He indeed cares about the little things in life. Don't we serve an awesome God?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Not Satisfied

Sad will be the day for any man when he becomes satisfied with the life he is living, with the thoughts he is thinking and the deeds he is doing; when there is not beating at the doors of his soul a desire to do something greater which he knows he was meant to do because he is a child of God. - Phillips Brooks

For those of you who are wondering where I get many of my quotes, this
book, "The Christian's Daily Challenge," has been a tremendous blessing to me. I know several of you have it, but for those of you who haven't heard of it before, I would strongly encourage you to check it out. I can't tell you how many times God has used it to confirm His truths in my heart, or simply to encourage me in the right path.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mary; A Heart Surrendered - Part 2

Recently I've been thinking a lot about the beautiful testimony of surrender this handmaiden of the Lord has. Throughout history, Israel had been (and sadly still is) waiting for the coming of the Messiah. Prophecy told them clearly that He would be born of the seed of David, and I can only imagine the hope that rose in many a young girl's heart that maybe she would be the privileged one to bear the Christ. Perhaps they ignored the fact, or simply didn't take the time to ponder the rest of the prophecy. Jesus was to be born to a virgin. Did they realize the significance of that? Did they understand it? Or were they simply looking at the honor of being named the mother of the Messiah and the glory it would bring to themselves?

Still today, Mary is lifted up high by certain groups in particular, yet many don't seem to realize what her "handmaid" position cost her. The depth of character she must have had to bow her heart in submission to the Lord, when it would literally cost her all she had is phenomenal to me.

Think with me a minute. Picture a sweet young lady in today's conservative Christian circles. She's known as a girl with an intimate walk with the Lord. Her life is given to serve others, and all she does radiates the love and selflessness of Christ. Her testimony is clear, and she is a source of encouragement and joy to all who know her. Her heart has been set on the Lord in purity through her youth, and now as a young woman her friends and family are helping her excitedly prepare to marry the man of her dreams.

The news that comes is the farthest thing from anybodies mind. Everyone reels in shock as they learn that this girl is pregnant. "How can this be?" they wonder. "How can a girl with such a clear and vibrant testimony fall into such sin? Oh sure, she tries to explain it away with some far-fetched tale, but we all know the truth!" Heads shake in disbelief, yet the proof is there.

Her fiancee is devastated. He thought he knew the type of girl he was marrying, and now this? Has everything she's appeared to be just been a well made up farce? All his dreams, all his desires have been wrapped up in her, and now he must face the stark reality that these dreams are not going to turn into reality. Of course he cannot marry her now....this heart-crushing truth slowly settles down into his heart as cries out "why?"

Mary faced a future much more grim than the picture I have painted. In those days, death was the penalty for such sin. The stigma and shame placed upon her life would be more severe than I think would even be found in some of the strictest circles today. In her answer, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word..." she was in essence saying, "Yes Lord, I unreservedly give You my reputation. I know that my character and name is going to be ground in the dust for the rest of my life. No one is going to believe the truth, and I know I'm going to face shame, ridicule, and scorn, but yes Lord. I give You my upcoming marriage, I place the matter of my life in Your hands, have THY full way in my life. I am willing to be whatever will bring you the most glory.

This picture of surrender astounds me. The little things I have struggled with giving to the Lord seems as nothing in comparison. Things I have wrestled with and wept over for weeks are summed up in the young lady simply lifting her heart to the Lord in obedience, saying, "Have Thine Own way, Lord." My heart's prayer is that this would become more or a reality in my life. May God bless you all as you strive for His best!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Surrender; Part 1

Absolute surrender-let me tell you where I got that word. I have used it myself often before, and you have heard it numberless times. But, ten days ago, in Scotland, I was in a company where we were talking about the condition of Christ's Church, and what the great need of the church and of believers is. There was in our company a godly worker who has much to do in training workers, and I asked him what he would say was the great need of the Church, and the message that ought to be preached. He answered very quietly and simply and determindedly: "Absolute surrender to God is the one thing." The words struck me as never before. And that man began to tell how, in the workers with whom he had to deal, he finds that if they are sound on that point, even though they be backward, they are willing to be taught and helped, and they always improve; whereas, others, who are not sound there very often go back and leave the work. The condition for obtaining God's full blessing is absolute surrender to Him. -Andrew Murray

In full and glad surrender
I give myself to Thee,
Thine utterly and only,
and everymore to be.

O Son of God who love'st me
I will be Thine alone;
And all I have and all I can,
Shall henceforth be Thine own.

Reign over me, Lord Jesus!
O make my heart Thy throne
It shall be Thine dear Savior,
it shall be Thine alone.

Oh! come and reign, Lord Jesus;
Rule over everything,
And keep me always loyal,
And true to Thee, my King.
-Francis Ridley Havergal

Photo Credit

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Great Danger Facing All of Us...

I read this quote today in one of my very favorite blogs, (A Source of Joy) and couldn't resist passing it on! Truly, if we have missed this one thing in life - that vital relationship with our Father, we have missed it all.

The great danger facing all of us...
is not that we shall make an absolute failure of life,
nor that we shall fall into outright viciousness,
nor that we shall be terribly unhappy,
nor that we shall feel [that] life has no meaning at all--
not these things.

The danger is that we may fail to perceive life's greatest meaning,
fall short of its highest good,
miss its deepest and most abiding happiness,
be unable to tender the most needed service,
be unconscious of life ablaze with the light of the Presence of God--
and be content to have it so--

that is the danger:
that some day we may wake up
and find that always we have been busy with husks and trappings of life
and have really missed life itself.

For life without God,
to one who has known the richness and joy of life with Him,
is unthinkable, impossible.

That is what one prays one's friends may be spared--
satisfaction with a life that falls short of the best,
that has in it no tingle or thrill that comes from a friendship with the Father.

~Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), Sermons [1878]

Monday, July 10, 2006

Going Home

Sunday, July 2nd, I received a phone call telling of the death of a childhood friend the previous Friday morning. While flying his newly bought airplane, the wings snapped off, plummeting the airplane and it's 20-year-old pilot to the ground. Ben leaves behind his fiancee, parents, brother, sister, and many other relative and friends.

More than any other I've ever attended, Ben's funeral hit close, personal, and very hard. It's been the most difficult death for me to accept from the Lord as good and perfect, but even amidst the intense pain of saying goodbye, I've been stirred to the depths by the testimony Ben left behind. Ben had a testimony among all he knew as a young man who was sold out for the Lord, and ready to do whatever it took to bring souls to the saving knowledge of Christ. His heart was for his community, and plans were to take his new wife next summer to Mexico, and together learn Spanish fluently for the sole purpose of reaching the many Spanish-speaking people in his area. After having received his pilot's license a year or so ago, he was eager and willing to take many for rides - he knew he would then have a captive audience with whom he could share the love of Christ.

Ben's fiancee naturally shares the same vision. They were to be married Sep. 2nd, and she was in Africa helping a missionary family when she received the news. At the funeral she made very deliberate efforts to greet every person there, and thank them for coming. Amidst her own incredible heart-break, shattered dreams, and disappointment, her heart was still for others.

Consider Ben's own words just a couple days before his accident written in an e-mail to his pastor....

"What Can One Man Do?"

Pastor "_" had a good point when he said redundancy in teaching the gospel (and that goes for any doctrine) is key in helping the listeners learn it! I absolutely love it every time you give the gospel one more time!

The Lord has been working hard on me lately. I decided last fall when I really started going hard with my real estate investing ventures that it would be for the sole purpose of supporting, first my church, and then to other ventures that would futher spread the gospel. Today I realized that all the money in the world isn't going to solve the problem we have in this area. The problem is that we need to find a way to break through to these people. How can we do that? I feel so helpless and yet so burdened to do something for these ignorant souls who are walking around...Ignorant of the fact that they are going to HELL for their unbelief. I'm praying for wisdom, and for ideas to better impact people with the Gospel in such a simple, yet mind-opening way. I'm completely ready to do whatever it takes to do my part in the Lord's work here.

...I have such a burden for these people, having seen first hand now how stubborn and lost they truly are! Yet, I know there are so many people out there who need Christ. I'm not a preacher, yet I know the Gospel by heart, and I want to share it with more people. I'm working on turning all my real-estate adventures into opportunities to share the Gospel with more people. How do I know when I'm doing all I can for Christ?I'll be praying hard this week for you and I and every believer who is trying to work for the Lord amidst stubborn and ignorant people walking straight to hell.

In Christ, Ben

Though my heart still weeps for Ben's family and especially for his fiancee, I've been grateful for the work God is already doing as a result of his death. Many, including myself, have been challenged to a deeper walk with the Lord, a deeper burden for souls, and a deeper commitment to go all the way with Christ no matter what the cost. Ben was willing to pay that price, and as his mother said with tears in her eyes the day of the funeral, "May Ben's death be a motivation to pick up the work he has left off. By God's grace, we will do that." May that be the challenge for each one of us.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

What is Sin?

When in college, the famous evangelist John Wesley wrote a letter to his mother asking her to give him a clear description of sin. This was her answer,

“Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.” ~Susanna Wesley

Monday, July 03, 2006


"All my lifelong I had panted
for a draught from some cool spring

that I hoped would quench the burning

of the thirst I felt within."

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land.

See! the streams of living waters,

Springing from eternal love;

Well supply thy sons and daughters,

And all fear of want remove:

Who can faint while such a river

Ever flows their thirst t’assuage?

Grace, which like the Lord, the Giver,

Never fails from age to age.

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them."

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.

And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. The meek shall eat and be satisfied; they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness."

O Lord, my God, most earnestly

My heart would seek Thy face,

Within Thy holy house once more

To see Thy glorious grace.

Apart from Thee I long and thirst,

And naught can satisfy;

I wander in a desert land

Where all the streams are dry.

The lovingkindness of my God

Is more than life to me;

So I will bless Thee while I live

And lift my prayer to Thee.

In Thee my soul is satisfied,

My darkness turns to light;

And joyful meditations fill

The watches of the night.

My Savior, ’neath Thy sheltering wings

My soul delights to dwell;

Still closer to Thy side I press,

For near Thee all is well.

Sources: Ps. 42:1-2; Ps. 63:1; Ps. 143:5-6; John 7:37; Is. 55:1-2; Is. 44:3a; Matt. 5:6; Is. 49:10; Is. 58:11; Ps. 22:26; Ps. 36:7-9; Ps. 107:8-9; Satisfied: Clara Teare; Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken: John Newton; I Heard the Voice Of Jesus Say: Horatius Bonar; O Lord, My God, Most Earnestly: The Psalter; Photo: