Friday, December 26, 2008

In God's hands...

The storms may rage, the winds may blow - 
The cares of life come against my soul.
In troubled times I know just where to stand;
No safer place to be but in God's hands

In God's hands, 
I'm in good hands.
My soul is safe and secure.
In God's hands, 
sweet assurance.
It's good to know I'm in good hands.

Sometimes it seems the trial lasts too long;
It's scarcely past and I must face another one.
But when I've done the very best I can,
It's time to leave it in God's hands. 

Weary and feeble I'll turn to the solid rock strong and firm...

In God's hands, I'm in good hands.
My soul is safe and secure.
In God's hands, sweet assurance.
It's good to know I'm in good hands. 

Unknown word and photo credit. 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Answers for a hurting heart...

It's a Saturday morning, and I'm enjoying the rare opportunity to just take the morning off. Completely. To think, to pray, to read, to write.... To ponder life. Hopefully some of these ponderings will touch someone's else's heart, as God has used them to touch mine this morning. 

In my last post, I shared a quote from a book I've been studying lately. It dealt with the crucibles of life. Suffering, pain, trials, heartache... We all have them. Some in greater forms then others, but any who is a child of the King has a Father who loves enough to bring them through hard times, destined and designed to make them a pure, shining reflection of Himself. It is natural to cringe from them. Claustrophobic pain and anguish sometimes wrench the cry from our hearts, "Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest." Ps. 55:6-8

Sometimes a wilderness sounds much more pleasant than the pain we may be walking through. Every fiber in us wants to run away, to escape the cause of our hurt, to find an easier path.... This cry came from David's heart, and at the end of Psalm 55, he gives the answer to the hurting heart. "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." Ps. 55:22

Psalms 55 and 56 have been a tremendous blessing to me these past several days. Both of them speak of oppression in the Christian life. Crucible experiences. This oppression may come outwardly - in this case, he was betrayed and hurt by a close friend. There were those after his life. There were times he felt forsaken by man and God alike.

"Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up: he fighting daily oppreseth me. Mine enemies daily would swallow me up: For they be many that fight against me..."

Oppression can also come inwardly. Satan's attacks against the heart can be just as painful as searching as those that come outwardly. Feelings of inadequacy. Lack of ability to be what God desires. Feeling like you will never attain. Discouragement. Depression. These feelings are meant to tear down, to destroy, to weaken... 

"Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. Attend unto me, and hear me... Because of the voice of my enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked."

There are circumstantial crucibles that man cannot control. Within the last hour I received a phone call that my dear mother just came out of surgery successfully. God's asked us to lay our Isaac upon the altar once again. Literally... For the last two month we have been rejoicing in the hope of a new baby in July. We were hoping for a boy. We were going to name him Isaac. Yesterday upon the 12-week check-up, a molar pregnancy was discovered. Early surgery this morning brought a finality to the death of another dream. Another crucible. Another opportunity to turn to the Lord. 

"What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee: In God I will praise His word, In God have a put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me...thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle; are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know, for God is for me..."

When that precious phone call came, assuring our hearts that no complications had occurred in the surgery, phrases of a well-known song I was somewhat familiar with started floating through my head. Upon looking up the lyrics, I was blessed as I pondered the amazing magnitude of God's care for me. They fit perfectly with the three crucibles I brought out. 

"Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
would care to know my name; 
would care to feel my hurt...?

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
would look on me with love,
and watch me rise again?

Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
would call out through the rain
and calm the storm in me?"

Not because of who I am, but because of what Christ has done.
Not because of what I've done, but because of who He is.

Whatever man may tell you, whatever Satan may tell you, whatever circumstances come your way, stake your trust down on this promise. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Rom. 8:31

Somehow, through the crucibles, through the pain, through the testings, through all my failings, I am still His. He loves me, He cares, and He call me His beloved child. 

How can a soul ever get over that amazing fact??

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More precious than gold...

Suffering and glory go together. (Romans 8:17-18) You can't have one without the other. Thus, God likens our suffering to the purifying of silver and gold. Neither metal is pure in it's natural state. Both are mixed with all sorts of things which make them impure. 

Silver and gold need to be refined before they reveal their beauty. So do we! The process of refining includes the melting down of the metal by fires, designed not to destroy the metal, but to bring forth it's beauty. 

So it is with you, beloved. God breaks you and puts you into the crucible of suffering for one purpose and one purpose alone - to make you into His Image. He is preparing you for glory. Whether you have known it or not, God has been there through every trial, pain, and hurt. He has carefully watched so that it would not destroy you, all the while knowing that eventually it would work together for your good. 
-Kay Arthur

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:" I Peter 1:7

Friday, December 05, 2008

Another Tidbit

Coming back here, I'm reminded how long it's been since I've posted! Without busyness as an excuse this time, let me just say I've been doing much more pondering and praying lately than writing, sharing, and obviously posting. When the time is right, some of the lessons and gems of late will come forth.

For now, though,  let me give you a morsel that I found to be such a blessing tonight. Though I didn't write the actual words, I could have. They are an echo of some of the many thoughts that have been swimming around in my head lately. 

Ponder, and be challenged. 

I’m afraid we’ve gotten so used to what falsehood looks like that we don’t even recognize it when we see it show up in Church on Sunday morning. In fact we are almost jarred when someone is real and honest. The Church should be so full of reality that the fakers stick out like sore thumbs. This is going to include being honest about sin and current struggles, but I’d really like to see some honest confessions about the amazing goodness of God. Doesn’t He deserve that? If we actually believe that every single good thing that our lives produce is the result of Him, we would be constantly sharing what He’s been accomplishing, and we wouldn’t even think of being proud of it. 

When we have put forth our greatest effort, and performed the very best we can, God says it looks like a heap of rags. I can’t see anything to be proud of there. It is only when the Life of Jesus is being worked out in our bodies, when in our daily actions God sees His beloved Son, that He is well pleased. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

An Encouraging Tidbit

"He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you."  - John 16:15

There are times when all the promises and doctrines of the Bible are of no avail, unless a gracious hand shall apply them to us. We are thirsty, but too faint to crawl to the water- brook. When a soldier is wounded in battle it is of little use for him to know that there are those at the hospital who can bind up his wounds, and medicines there to ease all the pains which he now suffers: what he needs is to be carried thither, and to have the remedies applied. 

It is thus with our souls, and to meet this need there is one, even the Spirit of truth, who takes of the things of Jesus, and applies them to us. Think not that Christ hath placed His joys on heavenly shelves that we may climb up to them for ourselves, but he draws near, and sheds his peace abroad in our hearts. 

O Christian, if thou art to-night labouring under deep distresses, thy Father does not give thee promises and then leave thee to draw them up from the Word like buckets from a well, but the promises he has written in the Word he will write anew on your heart. He will manifest his love to you, and by his blessed Spirit, dispel your cares and troubles. 

Be it known unto thee, O mourner, that it is God's prerogative to wipe every tear from the eye of his people. The good Samaritan did not say, "Here is the wine, and here is the oil for you"; he actually poured in the oil and the wine. So Jesus not only gives you the sweet wine of the promise, but holds the golden chalice to your lips, and pours the life-blood into your mouth. 

The poor, sick, way-worn pilgrim is not merely strengthened to walk, but he is borne on eagles' wings. Glorious gospel! which provides everything for the helpless, which draws nigh to us when we cannot reach after it-brings us grace before we seek for grace! Here is as much glory in the giving as in the gift.  Happy people who have the Holy Ghost to bring Jesus to them.
-C.H. Spurgeon 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shut Up Unto God

This morning I was reading the account of Noah, and the phrase stood out to me, 

"...and the Lord shut him in." Genesis 7:16

I started to ponder what might have gone through Noah's heart during those long months inside the ark. 

At first I'm sure the winds, waves, and storm outside must have been terrifying. The adjustment of a new life caring for hundreds of animals inside of the confines of a wooden box must have held it's stresses. The tedious days of waiting for the waters to abate must have grown weary. I am sure that relationship issues had to be worked through, as nerves at time grew raw, and tempers short. 

Did Noah face loneliness? Boredom? Confusion? Stress? Being shut up in any situation has it's challenges. Long days turn into months as perhaps hopes are deferred, questions remain hanging with no clear answer in sight, stresses do no abate as quickly as we hoped, or relationships are strained. 

Whatever your situation, whatever my situation, verse one of chapter eights can be an encouragement. 

"And God remembered Noah...."

However drawn out our seasons of testing seem, we must remember that there was a time when Noah and his family walked out of that ark onto dry land and the magnificent beauty of the rainbow of God's promise. They were not shut up forever, and their time spent enclosed in the ark made the beauty of God's love and promises that much more precious to them when God did open the door. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

This morn' after elections...

...I am grateful. 

Grateful that:

"My defense is of God, which saveth the upright in heart." Ps. 7:10

"..the Lord shall endure forever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgement to the people in uprightness." Ps. 9:7-8

"The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." Ps. 9:9-10

"God changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding." Dan. 2:21

"The King's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it withersoever he will." Proverbs 21:1

I am grateful:

That our confidence is not in changing, fallible man, but in an unswerving, faithful, Father who never fails to keep His word. 

That our King is sovereign, never making mistakes, and never ordering circumstances differently than what is best for His children. 

That righteousness will ultimately prevail, showing forth to the entire world, a holy, just, and unblamable King who will forever reign in truth and righteousness. 

Lastly, I am grateful that this King is my king. 

Is He yours?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Amazing, Completely Free Love

"I will love them freely..." Hosea 14:4

This text is a death blow to all sorts of fitness: "I will love them freely." Now if there were any fitness necessary in us, then he would not love us freely, at least, this would be a mitigation and a drawback to the freeness of it. But it stands, "I will love you freely." 

We complain, "Lord, my heart is so hard."

"I will love you freely."

"But I do not feel my need of Christ as I wish I would."

"I will not love you because you feel your need, I will love you freely."

"But I do not that softening of spirit which I desire."

Remember that softening of spirit is not a condition, for there are no conditions; the covenant of grace has no conditionality whatsoever; so that we without any fitness may venture upon the promise of God which was made to us in Jesus Christ, when He said, "He that believeth on Him is not condemned."

It is blessed to know that the grace of God is free to us at all times, without preparation, without fitness, without money, and without price! "I will love them freely."

-C.H Spurgeon

Monday, October 27, 2008

Psalm 27

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Hide not thy face far from me; put not they servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
-Ps. 27:7-14

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hidden Service

Nothing disciplines the inordinate desires of the flesh like service, and nothing transforms the desires of the flesh like serving in hiddenness. The flesh whines against service but screams against hidden service. It strains and pulls for honor and recognition. It will devise subtle, religiously acceptable means to call attention to the service rendered. If we stoutly refuse to give in to this lust of the flesh, we crucify it. Every time we crucify the flesh, we crucify pride and arrogance. - Richard Foster

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"He bowed the heavens and came down: and darkness was under his feet. He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies." Ps. 18:9, 11

"Clouds and darkness were round about him: righteousness and judgement are the habitation of his throne." Ps. 97:2

Sometimes God puts us through the experience and discipline of darkness to teach us to hear and obey Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and God puts us into "the shadow of His hand" until we learn to hear Him.  

Pay attention when God puts you into darkness, and keep your mouth closed while you are there. Are you in the dark right now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? If so, then remain quiet. Darkness is the time to listen. 

As a saint of God, my attitude toward sorrow and difficulty should not be to ask that they be prevented, but to ask that God protect me so that I may remain what He created me to be, in spite of all my fires of sorrow. 
-Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In the morning...

I had the tremendous privilege last week to hear the wife of a widely traveled evangelist give a message to the ladies of that set of meetings. Having prayed specifically to hear a message those two days on a certain subject, I was overwhelmed with God's love and mercy as the speaker announced her topic that evening. Losing your joy as a Christian is what she spoke on, and let me tell you, I was all ears!

My blog contains subjects upon which I have been thinking about, and lessons God has been teaching me. Many of you have probably noticed the frequency of posts the last couple months dealing with trials, suffering, and the hard times of a Christian's life. They've been there because it's been a very real part of my life lately. No details given, let it suffice to say the last two months have contained some of the hottest fires I've ever walked through.

One of the points given in this message I needed to badly hear. In the process of walking through this valley that God has sovereignly ordained for my life, I had somewhere got my eyes off of Christ's promises and ultimate purpose, and onto my circumstances. My eyes were consumed with the here and the now, the pain, the anguish, and the things I could not change. I had lost my joy in many respects, and I knew it was time for a refocussing. 

Losing our vision as a Christian can be a great joy stealer. We lose sight of the end of the race, the prize we are running for, the One who has made this pathway possible, and instead we fill our minds with self-pity, and consuming thoughts of the heartache and suffering we are facing. We forget that these things are just for a time, and for a purpose. Sanctification, Christlikeness - these are the things God is wanting to produce in us, with the end being an eternity in heaven with Jesus Himself. Thinking on these should be enough to fill us with joy so full and complete we cannot contain it...

Only for a time... Praise God that trials do not last forever! When I meditate on a Father who loves me enough to bring hard times into my life, my vision is renewed, and my peace and joy restored. As little children, we could not fathom what our parents could possible mean when they said they disciplined us because they loved us. Seeing the fruit it has produced now, and looking at the trials my Heavenly Father has allowed with the same perspective gives comfort and hope. "...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Ps. 30:5b

That morning can start right now. 

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Sculptor's Training

Ever since I came across this poem, it had become one of my favorites. It's been one of those I've gone back to over and over again, especially during those times when I wonder if the painful fire of God's testing and refining is ever going to cease. It is an encouragement to me, containing a beautiful glimpse of the "other side of the tapestry;" the magnificent work that only God as the master Designer can see. 

She asked to be made like her Saviour,
And He took her at her word,
And sent her a heart-crushing burden
Till the depths of her soul were stirred.
She asked for a faith strong, yet simple.
He permitted the dark clouds to come; 
She staggered by faith through the darkness,
As the storms did her soul overwhelm.

She prayed to be filled with a passion 
Of love for lost souls and for God,
And again, in response to her longing,
 She sank 'neath the chastening rod.
She wanted a place in HIs vineyard;
He took her away form her home,
And placed her among hardened sinners
Where she humanly stood all alone. 

She gave up all wordly ambitions,
Those "castles in air" of years,
And she knelt in deep consecration,
And whispered, "Amen," through her tears.
She wanted a meek, lowly spirit - 
The work He gave answered that cry;
And those who had been her companions
With pitying smile passed her by.

She asked to lean hard on her Saviour;
He took human props quite away,
Till no earthly friend could help her,
And she could do nothing but pray.
I saw her go out to the vineyard
To harvest the golden grain;
Her eyes were still moistened with weeping,
Her heart was still throbbing with pain.

 But many a heart that was broken,
And many a wrecked, blighted life
Was made to thank God for her coming,
And rejoiced in the midst of the strife.
She had prayed to be made like her Saviour,
And the burden He gave her to bear
Had been but the great Sculptor's training:
Thus answering her earnest prayer.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The true test of a saint

"...we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." Acts 14:22
"No man can be wholly the Lord's unless he is wholly consecrated to the Lord; and no man can know whether he is thus wholly consecrated except by tribulation. That is the test. To rejoice in God's will, when that will imparts nothing but happiness, is easy even for the natural man. But no one but the renovated man can rejoice in the Divine will when it crosses his path, disappoints his expectations, and overwhelms him with sorrow. Trial therefore, instead of being shunned, should be welcomed as the test - and the only true test - of a true saint. Beloved souls, there are consolations which pass away, but true and abiding consolations ye will not find except in entire abandonment, and in that love which loves the Cross. He who does not welcome the Cross does not welcome God."
-Madame Guyon

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

God's Pathway

For many years, I have had this subconscious hope that there's maybe just one or two more big mountains to cross, and then life will even out a bit and things will get easier. When finally climbing out of yet another spiritual valley and battleground, there's this clinging thought that perhaps now I've learned the "all important" spiritual lesson that will never necessitate God bringing me through something so difficult again. This notion sounds rather absurd when put down in words, but in many respects, it has been the attitude of my heart. Dreams of "when" and fanciful notions of "if-only's" easily replace and fog the truth of God's words, and have, at times, stamped unrealistic expectations of Christianity upon my heart. 

Today's American Christian culture has blasted us so much with the "health, wealth, and prosperity Gospel," that the reality of God's path for His children can become in our minds no more than bad luck, or at best, temporary circumstances that we must endure through until brighter skies shine again.  

A few weeks ago God prompted me to buy a book that I had read in my younger years, but had had extremely little impact on me at the time. I had hardly given this book a thought for years, when out of the blue, God impressed it upon my heart as one I needed to buy and read again. After ordering 'A Tale of Three Kings' I anxiously awaited it's arrival, eager to discover if there were gems to be discovered that I had not been ready for as a young teenager. I was honestly not prepared for the impact it has had on my heart. 

An allegorical tale, woven around the life of Saul, David, and Absalom, it is a study on authority, submission, and brokenness. Though he highlights many key issues, the one that stuck out to me the most was Gene Edward's emphasis on the path of brokenness and dependance that God attempts to bring each one of His children on. The reason I says attempts, is because history has proven that most are not willing to walk that way.

"God has a university. It's a small school. Few enroll; even fewer graduate. Very, very few indeed. God has this school because He does not have broken men and women. He wants very much to have broken men and women, but there are not many who are willing to live in pain..." - Gene Edwards

Without going into more detail on the book, (you'll have to read it yourself!) it has prompted me to seriously reconsider what I am expecting out of life. When looking unbiasedly at the lives of the great men and women of Scripture, mostly notable our Lord, it's easy to see that the path they walked was not often one of roses and dappled sunlight. Suffering, hardship, and tremendous battles with the world, flesh, and the devil were a way of life for them. They did not expect to be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, but engaged in the very real, and oftentimes heartbreaking battles that ultimately worked the character of Christ into their inner being. When looking honestly at these things, can I truly, with a good conscience, expect or demand anything less?

In my own experience thus far, I have to concur that this path is one of  much suffering and hardship. Granted, there are many flowers along this way, but the majority of them receive their water from the blood, sweat, and tears of the saints that walk it. Some of these flowers are the pure wonder of the gifts of life God grants us. The grandeur of creation; the harmony, beauty, and order of music; the pleasure of a wonderful meal; all these are gifts God has given for our enjoyment. Many other things, on the other hand, are only appreciated to the degree that hardship has made them precious. The indescribable peace of finding our joy and fulfillment in Christ when no earthly man seems to understand; the ecstasy of agonized prayer answered; the satisfaction of finding Jesus enough when every human prop has been torn out from under us; and spiritual fruit borne after months or years of anguished desire. Somehow, the flowers that bloom from such struggles, make the natural ones that much more special.

This is a path that require a steadfast faith in the promises of One who cannot always be seen or felt. This path's circumstances are ordered in such a way to keep it's travelers clinging tightly to the One who has planned every step. Does this knowledge make this way any less painful and tear-filled? Not necessarily, but it does produce a deeply abiding love and peace which the hardest of circumstances can not snatch away. 

As this year is quickly drawing to a close and I ponder the ways the Lord has led me, I have to admit it has probably been the most tear-filled and difficult year of my life, yet it has also been the sweetest in learning to know the heart of my Lord better. God's face and character has become a little more clear each day, and as I've taken the time to gaze into the heart of my Lord and King who has planned each one of my steps perfectly, I am filled with wonder and pure awe at His immense love and care for me. That He love me enough to inflict pain for my good is beyond the grandest thoughts my frail human comprehension can muster up. 

But what about the painful circumstances that come about through the sin-filled nature of humanity? What about heartache that is birthed in a heart from the callous, insensitive remarks or behavior from another believer?  What about those heart-wrenching church or family divisions?  What about the mental turmoil that comes from a relationship gone awry, or a friendship splintered through misunderstanding? What about the loneliness of walking a lesser traveled path, when all those around you judge your motives for even stepping foot in that direction? Can it really be God's will that these paths are also trod?

Gaze for a minute at the life of Christ, and consider the astounding fact that He walked through every one of these circumstances faithfully and blamelessly. "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15 Christ has already walked this way, without spot, thus assuring us of victory! Spurgeon puts it so beautifully...

"Inasmuch as Jesus has gone before us, things remain not as they would have been had He never passed that way. He has conquered every foe that obstructed the way. Cheer up now thou fainthearted warrior!! Not only has Christ traveled the road, but He has slain thine enemies...

Whatever foes may be before the Christian, they are all overcome. There are lions, but their teeth are broken; there are serpents, but their fangs are extracted; there are rivers, but they are bridged or fordable; there are flames, but we wear that matchless garment which renders us invulnerable to fire. The sword that has been forged against us is already blunted; the instruments of war which the enemy is preparing have already lost their point. God has taken away in the person of Jesus Christ all the power that anything can have to hurt us.

Well then, the army may safely march on, and you may go joyously along your journey, for all your enemies are conquered beforehand. What shall you do but march on to take the prey? They are beaten, they are vanquished; all you have to do is divide the spoil. You shall, it is true, often engage in combat; but your fight shall be with a vanquished foe. His head is broken; he may attempt to injure you, but his strength shall not be sufficient for his malicious designs.
-C.H. Spurgeon

What rest this gives. Though the way be hard, tear-stained, and sweat-bathed, we serve a conquering Saviour who has promised victory. Take heart, fellow soldier! This world is not our home, and every difficulty here is given us for the purpose of preparing us for the day when we will stand face to face with the One who breathed life into us. Our struggles are for an eternal cause, and by His grace, will work in us a more perfect reflection of Jesus Christ. One day, when standing at the portal of heaven and looking back on our earthly pilgrimage, we will heartedly admit it was not an easy road. But gazing ahead at the wonder of an eternity with the One who bled and died for us, our hearts will rise in heartfelt confession, "It was worth it all!"

Fellow Christian...

"It will be worth it all when we see Jesus;
Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ!
One glimpse of His dear face, ALL sorrows will erase.
So bravely run the race, 'till we see Christ!"
-Esther Kerr Rusthoi

"Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faith's discerning eye.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through the skies,
The glory shall be Thine."
-Issac Watts

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Authority and Prayer

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." I Timothy 2:1-2

I was deeply challenged and convicted by these verses this morning in light of many different recent circumstances, the ways my mind has been traveling lately, and the times we are living in. I had to wonder at how easy we find it to criticize those in authority over us, yet how difficult it is to truly and earnestly pray for them. Church leaders, parental authorities, those in position in government - they are most often the brunt of our sharpest scrutiny and fault finding, and at least in my life, seldom the subject of my earnest petitions. 

I had to question why this was. In examining my own heart, the answers weren't pretty. Often hidden at the core of a facade of spiritual discernment is a heart that does not want to submit. It finds fault with those in authority as an excuse not to submit, and therefore provides a comfy cushion around a heart tainted in rebellion. It does not love to pray, because God's Word promises that prayer changes, and deep down inside, my heart wants it's own way. It wants to insist on what it thinks is best, and it does not want to trust that the King's heart is in the hands of the Lord.

Ouch. Sometimes answers aren't very fun. What comfort to know, though, that by God's grace, painful answers change hearts - my heart. 

Sunday, September 07, 2008

New Blog

This has kind of been in the works for a few months, but due to lack of time, has sat, and sat, and sat, and.... Well, you get the "picture." :-)

I've had a growing love of photography for years, and while I don't have nearly the time to dedicate to it like I want, nor the money to invest in better equipment at the time, I enjoy experimenting with what I have. Handiwork Photography will be a place to share this growing love, and hopefully, a few fun photographed family memories. With no promises as to the frequency of it's updates, I will now release it to the public! :-)


Edit: It's rather obvious that my blog has received a face lift recently... :-) Bear with me as I get a few things ironed out. Also, for those of you who subscribe by e-mail, it's doubtful whether that feature carried over. I will try and get it in place again in the next week or so. Thanks!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Barrenness and dry times.

Having a few "spare" minutes this afternoon, I tackled my e-mail inbox. That job is oftentimes no small feat, mind you! Buried amidst the newest notes from friends, facebook gifts, mission updates, and pictures, there was a gem from Spurgeon forwarded by a dear friend. Take the time to wade through the older writing style, and stand in awe, as I did, at the overwhelming greatness of our God! Draw your mind to the awesomeness of redemption, and though you may be walking through a dark valley, there is reason to rejoice!!

"Sing, O Barren"

Isaiah 54:1

Though we have brought forth some fruit unto Christ, and have a joyful hope that we are "plants of his own right hand planting," yet there are times when we feel very barren. 

Prayer is lifeless, love is cold, faith is weak, each grace in the garden of our heart languishes and droops. We are like flowers in the hot sun, requiring the refreshing shower. In such a condition what are we to do? The text is addressed to us in just such a state. "Sing, O barren, break forth and cry aloud." 

But what can I sing about? I cannot talk about the present, and even the past looks full of barrenness. Ah! I can sing of Jesus Christ. I can talk of visits which the Redeemer has aforetimes paid to me; or if not of these, I can magnify the great love wherewith he loved his people when he came from the heights of heaven for their redemption. I will go to the cross again. 

Come, my soul, heavy laden thou wast once, and thou didst lose thy burden there. Go to Calvary again. Perhaps that very cross which gave thee life may give thee fruitfulness. 

What is my barrenness? It is the platform for his fruit-creating power. What is my desolation? It is the black setting for the sapphire of his everlasting love.  I will go in poverty, I will go in helplessness, I will go in all my shame and backsliding, I will tell him that I am still his child, and in confidence in His faithful heart, even I, the barren one, will sing and cry aloud.

Sing, believer, for it will cheer thine own heart, and the hearts of other desolate ones. Sing on, for now that thou art really ashamed of being barren, thou wilt be fruitful soon; now that God makes thee loath to be without fruit he will soon cover thee with clusters. The experience of our barrenness is painful, but the Lord's visitations are delightful. A sense of our own poverty drives us to Christ, and that is where we need to be, for in him is our fruit found.

-C.H. Spurgeon

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Trusting Jesus

Simply trusting every day,
trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Brightly doth His Spirit shine
Into this poor heart of mine;
While He leads I cannot fall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Singing if my way is clear,
Praying if the path be drear;
If in danger for Him call,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting Him what'er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all

- Edgar Stites and Ira D. Sankey

Sunday, August 24, 2008


"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."

"For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life."

"Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west."

-Isaiah 43:2-5

"The Christian prays for fuller manifestations of Christ's power, and glory, and love to Him; but he is often not aware that this is in truth praying to be brought into the furnace; for in the furnace only it is that Christ can walk with His friends, and display, in their preservation and deliverance, His own almighty power. Yet, when brought thither, it is one of the worst parts of the trial that the Christian often thinks himself for a time at least, abandoned."

Sunday, August 10, 2008


...normal posting will resume here. No, I have not forgotten I have a blog. :-) Extreme business and writer's vacation/block explains my desertion. Normal posting will, Lord willing, resume at some point, hopefully in the not so far future!

Friday, July 11, 2008

He had no rights

He had no rights:

No right to a soft bed, and a well-laid table;

No right to a home of His own, a place where His own pleasure might be sought;

No right to choose pleasant, congenial companions, those who could understand Him and sympathize with Him;

No right to shrink away from filth and sin, to pull His garments closer around Him and turn aside to walk in cleaner paths;

No right to be understood and appreciated; no, not by those upon whom He had poured out a double portion of His love;

No right even never to be forsaken by His Father, the One who meant more than all to Him.

His only right was silently to endure shame, spitting, blows; to take His place as a sinner at the dock; to bear my sins in anguish on the cross.

He had no rights. And I?

A right to the “comforts” of life? No, but a right to the love of God for my pillow.

A right to physical safety? No, but a right to the security of being in His will.

A right to love and sympathy from those around me? No, but a right to the friendship of the One who understands me better than I do myself.

A right to be a leader among men? No, but the right to be led by the One to whom I have given my all, led as is a little child, with its hand in the hand of its father.

A right to a home and dear ones? No, not necessarily; but a right to dwell in the heart of God.

A right to myself? No, but, oh, I have a right to Christ.

All that He takes I will give; All that He gives will I take; He, my only right! He, the one right before which all other rights fade into nothingness, I have full right to Him; Oh, may He have full right to me!

~From the book, “Have We No Rights?”
by Mabel Williamson, missionary to China.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I interrupt this normally predictable blog... bring you word that the author thereof has been finding increasing busyness necessitating a slight withdrawal for the present. Summer's full fury has struck with adequate warning, nevertheless, the predicted results remain the same. Headlines give some insight to the extent of the seasonal onslaught. Further details will be forthcoming as the deluge of previously committed responsibilities decreases to the point of online sanity becoming once more possible. 

Thank you very much for your attention. 

Monday, June 09, 2008

Keeping Hope Alive During the Dark Seasons in Life - Pt. 4

When God is silent and we don't know the way before us that we ought to go
When we've attempted to do His will And yet His silence continues still....
Then it's time to trust. Yes, it's time to remember that the Lord is
faithful to His own.
If we hope, we shall be yet be praising once again for His silence never means that we're alone.
When God is silent and all seems lost, As o'er the waves our boat is temptest tossed
When answers fail us and doubts arise But God seems distant, hid from our eyes...
Then it's time to trust. Yes, it's time to remember that the Lord is faithful to His own.
If we hope, we shall be yet be praising once again
For His silence never means that we're alone.

-Jeanine Drylie

Thank you, Leah, for sharing this tidbit!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Keeping Hope Alive During the Dark Times in Life - Pt. 3

Faith Vs. Feelings

"Faith is a decision. It is not a deduction from the facts around us. Faith is an act of the will, a choice based on the unbreakable Word of a God Who cannot lie, and Who showed us what love and obedience and sacrifice mean in the person of Jesus Christ." E.E.

"It is not a deduction from the facts around us..."

The facts say that God doesn't feel near. God's word says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

We feel as if our spiritual life is at a standstill, and God has given up on us. God's word promises, "that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Phil. 1:6

We feel as if our prayers are availing nothing and our greatest efforts at diligently seeking the face of God are producing no fruit or providing no relief from the oppressive burden we are carrying. God's word says, "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord." Jeremiah 29:13-14

I believe God allows these times of dryness to test what our faith it really based in. Is it rooted in an unchangeable God whose promises never fail, or does it deduce facts from our fickle and changing feelings and impressions about life? When everything, even God seems against us, are we going to remain unwavering and faithful in trusting the truth of God's Word? Are we going to look back and remember the faithfulness with which God has led us in the past, and trust Him for the same now and in the future?

Where does this faith that trusts God amidst these dark seasons in life come from? Listen to the words of counsel from one who faced years of unfulfilled desires, months of solitude in an uncaring and threatening jungle, widowhood twice, and countless other seasons of trials and darkness never recording in her writing and speeches.

Christianity is no lyricism. The faith that bore those heroes (referring to the later part of Hebrews 11) down into the depths of darkness and suffering was not - and I hope you will remember this if you remember nothing else - that faith was not their own thing. They didn't drum it up. They didn't somehow work themselves up to it by getting to know themselves or love themselves or by doing what they felt like doing. It came from a Source outside themselves, outside the sphere of this world's understanding, from the One who said, "Without me you can do nothing." -E.E
This sort of faith takes divine grace outside of anything we can muster up. It takes faith based not in our abilities, supposed spirituality, feelings, or the circumstances around us because every one of these things will fail and disappoint us. This faith must be anchored in the Rock, our Savior Jesus Christ, as this is the only place that will not be shaken and moved when the inevitable storms of life beat and tear at the moorings of our life.

Consider the feelings David penned in Psalm 77 and observe his journey from a feeling-based reaction to a faith-based confidence in a Sovereign and faithful God.

"I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off forever? and will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone forever? doth his promise fail forevermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonder of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people..." Psalm 77:6-15

Notice how the Psalm changes from David communing with his own heart and feelings, to speaking directly with and praising God! The sequence of events is so beautiful when pondered! This change occurred when he started pondering the faithfulness of God in the past, and chose to trust Him for the same in the future.

Satan so desires us to live our life being ruled by the fickle feelings and emotions of human nature that he will bring every imaginable unfavorable circumstance against us to shake us from confidence in God's promises. When those times come, a deliberate effort must be made to set our faith firmly down in the Word of God, for it is only there that our confidence will stand secure. 

When darkness seems to veil His face
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Keeping Hope Alive During the Dark Times in Life - Pt 2

Desert Seasons

Several weeks ago, I had read a portion of 'Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ' by Madame Guyon, and one chapter in particular stuck with me above everything else. She entitled this chapter, 'Periods of Dryness,' and it started a thought process which God has found necessary to try in my life.
"Dear reader, you must realize that God has only one desire... His desire is to give Himself to the soul that really loves Him and to that soul which earnestly seeks Him. And yet it is true that this God who desires to give Himself to you will often conceal Himself from you - from you, the very one who seeks Him!

Now why would God do that? Dear saint of God, you must learn the ways of your Lord. Yours is a God who often hides Himself. He hides Himself for a purpose. Why? His purpose is to rouse you from spiritual laziness. His purpose in removing [the sense of His presence] from you is to cause you to pursue Him."

I find it interesting that David, the only one in the Bible God ever gave the title of a man after His own heart had similar struggles. The prophetic Psalm He penned gives light to the anguish of soul both he and our Lord experienced.

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent..." Psalm 22:1-2

Again in chapter 13...

"How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? forever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy by exalted over me?" Psalm 13:1-2

Obviously, these feelings are not new... Men and women throughout the ages have struggled through seasons where God felt very far away. Why does God allow this? Why does it sometimes seem we are clawing our way up an insurmountable mountain in our efforts to gain back the sense of His presence we love so much?

As I reflect back on the recent seasons of drought I have walked through, and examine what they produced in me, I have been encouraged not to grow despondent and weary through these seasons of testing. In a great degree, I believe that's what God's intent is for allowing them. He seeks to prove and try our devotion - how far are we willing to walk with Him?

It's easy to follow after the Lord when the path is lit with sunshine, and the winds of favor are in our face. Prayer seems effortless, and we delight in the beauty of life.

Contra-wise, do we care enough to pursue after God when the dark clouds threaten to swallow up our very existence? When Bible reading are prayer seem almost drudgery, do we faithfully continue, realizing our desperate need for it's sustaining nourishment?

Times like this have been convicting to my own heart, as I've realized it's tendency towards "fair-weather Christendom." I've been appalled at how much my flesh longs for and expects an easy pathway in my pursuit after God. If nothing else, Satan detests a passionate lover of God, and will do everything in His power to discourage us from our pursuit after Him.

Secondly, I believe God allows these times to remind us of our desperate need of Him. When life is going great, it's easy to forget where our strength is coming from. It's easy to start relying on circumstances for our joy, feelings for our faith, and mediocre Christianity for our norm. Everything is going fine in life, what more do we need to seek for??

When God grants us pain and struggles in replacement for ease, smashes those grand and happy feelings, and starts to reveal from His word the truth of who we really are, we have nowhere else to flee but to His faithful and caring arms. That's exactly where He wanted us in the first place. It is oftentimes our departure from those arms, unknowing though it be, that required Him to bring things into our path to draw us back to Him.

Dear reader, I have been learning through many tears and heart-crushing pain, that these seasons of darkness are not a sign of God's departure, but rather a token of His love as He encourages us closer to Himself. He who longs for nothing greater than for us to be completely consumed in Him, allows these times as a means of furthering and strengthening our heart's desire to know Him more intimately. Do not allow Satan to bring despair to your longing heart. Rather, lay out your struggles before your loving Heavenly Father, and trust Him implicitly for the duration and intensity of the clouds He has allowed. In the midst of the struggles, don't forget to look for the beautiful rainbow at the end....

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be. be continued...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Keeping Hope Alive During the Dark Times in Life - Pt 1

Bright flowers adorn the mountain trail as you skip upwards with a spring in your step and a song in your heart. God's blessings seem nearly more than you can take in, and continuous praise pours from your overflowing heart. You feel as if you could just leap off the mountain edge and soar around for awhile, basking in the sunshine of the mountaintop splendor. God's word is alive, and each day you find yourself marveling at the new gems and rich treasures He reveals to you. Material blessings of all sorts may adorn your pathway, and you feel like the richest person in the world. You honestly feel life could not get any better...

Then there are the times, oftentimes following close on the heels of one of these mountaintop experiences, when faith nearly seems to crumble underneath your feet. Crushing circumstances bring dark clouds over your pathway, and it seems unlikely that you will ever see the sunshine again. Never have you felt so needy of God's presence and grace, but never has He felt so far away. You wonder if your previous Christian experiences were just a dream, so intense are the struggles you are facing now. With David, you feel like saying, "...all thy waves and billows are gone over me." (Psalm 42:7b) Your Bible reading times are dry, and your prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling. Life at times seems almost too much to bear, and you wonder if it's even worth trying to live out the truth in God's Word....

What does this all mean? Can it truly be God's will that we walk through both of these times in our journey with Him? What is the right response to them? How do we keep the right perspective in the mountaintop seasons, and how do we keep faith alive and burning brightly when those dark clouds come and seek to snuff it out? 

Having walked through both extremes in the past few months, I wanted to share a little bit of what God has taught me through it. It's by no means comprehensive or completely conclusive; if anything, these times have showed me how little I really know the heart of God. But, nevertheless, God has been faithful to teach me a few more thing about Himself, and that is what I hope will be an encouragement to you. It is not the first occasion I have walked through such times, and I don't think it would be incorrect to assume that some of my readers are walked through similar times right now. As God has encouraged and strengthened me during these times when hope seems all but lost, may He encourage you as well... be continued...