Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pure Idiots

Just thought it was time for something a bit on the lighter side...This was one of last summer's embarrassing moments.
                           PURE IDIOTS

    It was one of those days.  One of those days we all have on occasion when things are just a bit off, if not in circumstances then in our minds.  We (my five sisters and I) were headed into town to go to the library.  I being the only one with a drivers license happened to be at the wheel.  I wasn't feeling my best that afternoon and my mind was a bit cloudy but that wasn't anything unusual.
     As we reached the outskirts of town I noted with a sinking feeling that the main road was blocked off for construction.  I hadn't driven the back streets of that section much before and didn't feel very confident that I could find my way, (I'm a bit directionally challenged anyway.)  But the detour signs should show me where to go, right?  So I swung our big silver van off the main route and headed into the unknown.
     After driving around the residential area of town for several blocks I began to wonder if the detour signs really would show me where to go!  I felt I knew the basic area, but just when I thought I'd found a clear trail I would run into another "road closed" sign.  I began to wonder if our trip would be futile.
     My younger sisters were chatting happily in the back seat while Lizzy (who is a year and a half older than me) sat up front to keep me company.  Our conversation hadn't been very meaningful as I tried to iron out our little predicament.  But it would take a turn for the worse shortly.
     I turned up one more street in hopes of maybe making it work.  As we rolled through the sunny summer suburbs, Lizzy suddenly exclaimed,  "Don't look straight ahead."   Of course my first impulse was to do exactly the opposite but as I caught sight of a shirtless man on the sidewalk I quickly averted my eyes.  I could still see the road just fine if I kept my head just slightly turned away and we were almost past him when  a rather panicked voice from the back seat exclaimed "Rachael!"
     "What?" I glanced around quickly wondering what could be the cause of her fright.  As I did so I noticed that the Vehicle we had been following had come to a sudden stop as they prepared to make a turn.  Our van was still cruising along at thirty miles an hour, straight for the tailgate.  
      About that time my instincts kicked in.  I slammed on the brakes and came to an abrupt halt about ten feet from the bumper of the other vehicle.  They swung off and we drove on.  I, feeling a bit shaken and rather foolish.
     Anna declared that it was a good thing she was along or we'd have crashed.  Lizzy added that maybe I shouldn't listen to her anymore.  While I added in self defense that I HAD been looking at the road.  (I guess I was just looking at the wrong part.)
     When we later recounted the experience to my Mom she shook her head incredulously.  "Well, at least we're pure...."  I offered hopefully.
     "Yeah,  pure Idiots!" She agreed tartly.  I knew I was beaten and we shared a laugh
     Every now and then when Lizzy and I are out driving, Lizzy will pipe up with her famous old line.  "Don't look straight ahead."  We laugh because it reminds us of that panicky moment last summer. I've learned though to keep my eyes on the "straight ahead" part of the road. After all, the world doesn't really need another idiot!

The Fourth Watch

"What, could ye not watch with me one hour?"
                                                 Matthew 26:40c
 How oft we faint
In the third watch of the night
Feeling God's abandoned us
To the absence of light
We stumble and murmer
"Oh, Lord, won't you come?"
We can't see the beacon
That would guide us toward Home.
The third watch's darkness
Seems greater than all...
Our patience is waning...
Bound with weakness, we fall.
In the first and the second
Watches of the night,
We feel sure that the next watch
Will beckon the light.
And our souls faint with sorrow
As the fourth watch begins
With the night just as dark
And as strong of a wind.
But sometime amid
The fourth watch we will see
A bright, welcome beacon
For you and for me.
One cannot determine
When each watch will begin.
The night may get blacker
With pain and with sin.
Only God knows
When the fourth watch will dawn,
And the anguish of night
Will be all gone.
Only God knows -
So let us be true.
Don't give up in the third watch -
God's counting on you!

                                    ---Judi Stauffer

"...for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."  2 Timothy 1:12b

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In the Valley


 "Yea, though I walk through the valley... I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;..."   -Psalm 23:4a

In the Valley

In the valley I am walking
And the end I cannot see
But I know My Lord is with me
And I know He'll faithful be

Though the pain may seem so endless
And the tears may often flow
I take comfort in His presence
And the fact that He doth know
Through the gloom of falling shadows
Through the doubts that oft' assail
I can feel His arms beneath me
And I KNOW He will not fail

He my refuge my Redeemer

Rod and staff to comfort still
Through the valley of the shadow
I will trust nor fear the ill

Staff to aid me, Rod for breaking
That His healing aid may flow
'Tis enough that He my Shepherd
All this valley's path doth know

And that soon beyond the shadows
Of this earthly vale below
He shall lead to heaven's Sunshine
Where no sorrow e'er I'll know.

                      - Rachael Lofgren

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Yet have I hope

The path is dark, no light shines on my way
The demon, Doubt is skulking near at hand
I feel as if my faith will surely fail
Oh Jesus come!  Oh help me Lord to stand.

The storm is raging, tides of evil swell
I feel the battle as I kneel to pray
The enemies press near on every hand
The flood of fear threatens to sweep away

Yet have I hope because my God is greater
Yet have I hope, His promises are sure
He will fulfill the word that He has given
Our God, our Help, our Strong Deliverer.

He is the God of miracles and wonders
He is a God who cannot, will not lie
And in the beauty of the hope soon realized
His name will be exalted lifted high

The dawn will break, revealing it is finished.
The storm be stilled by His own spoken word
And faith, then sight will bow in adoration
To awe and worship and His praises stirred.
                                                -Rachael Lofgren

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The cry of the blood


                             The Cry of the Blood
                                        --Amy Carmichael

       The tom-toms thumped straight on all night and the darkness
shuddered around me like a living, feeling thing.  I could not go to sleep,
so I lay awake and looked.  And I saw, as it seemed, this:
       That I stood on a grassy sward and at my feet a precipice broke
sheer down into infinite space.  I looked, but saw no bottom; only cloud
shapes, black and furiously coiled, and great shadow-shrouded hollows, and
unfathomable depths.  Back I drew, dizzy at the depth.
       Then I saw forms of people moving single file along the grass.  They
were making for the edge.  There was a woman with a baby in her arms and
another little child holding on to her dress.  She was on the very verge.
Then I saw that she was blind.  She lifted her foot for the next step . . .
it trod air.  She was over, and the children over with her.  Oh, the cry as
they went over!
       Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters.  All
were blind, stone blind; all made straight for the precipice edge.  There
were shrieks, as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of
helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air.  But some went over
quietly, and fell without a sound.
       Then I wondered, with a wonder that was simply agony, why no one
stopped them at the edge.  I could not.  I was glued to the ground, and I
could only call; though I strained and tried, only a whisper would come.
       Then I saw that along the edge there were sentries set at intervals.
But the intervals were too great; there were wide, unguarded gaps between.
And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned; and
the green grass seemed blood-red to me, and the gulf yawned like the mouth
of hell.
       Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under
some trees with their backs turned toward the gulf.  They were making daisy
chains.  Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached
them, it disturbed them and they thought it a rather vulgar noise.  And if
one of the number started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then
all the others would talk that one down.  "Why should you get so excited
about it?  You must wait for a definite call to go!  You haven't finished
your daisy chain yet.  It would be really selfish," they said, "to leave us
to finish the work alone."
       There was another group.  It was made up of people whose great
desire was to get more sentries out; but they found that very few wanted to
go, and sometimes there were no sentries for miles and miles of the edge.
       Once a girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back; but
her mother and other relations called and reminded her that her furlough was
due; she must not break the rules.  And being tired and needing a change,
she had to go and rest for awhile; but no one was sent to guard her gap, and
over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls.
       Once a child caught at a tuft of grass that grew at the very brink
of the gulf; it clung convulsively, and it called-but nobody seemed to hear.
Then the roots of the grass gave way, and with a cry the child went over,
its two little hands still holding tight to the torn-off bunch of grass.
And the girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little
one cry, and she sprang up and wanted to go; at which they reproved her,
reminding her that no one is necessary anywhere; the gap would be well taken
care of, they knew.  And then they sang a hymn.
       Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million
broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob.  And a horror of great
darkness was upon me, for I knew what it was-the Cry of the Blood.
       Then thundered a voice, the voice of the Lord.  "And He said, 'What
hast thou done, The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the
       The tom-toms still beat heavily, the darkness still shuddered and
shivered about me; I heard the yells of devil-dancers and the weird, wild
shriek of the devil-possessed just outside the gate.
       What does it matter, after all?  It has gone on for years; it will
go on for years.  Why make such a fuss about it?
       God forgive us!  God arouse us!  Shame us out of our callousness!
Shame us out of our sin!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Valley of Decision

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart;  do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take."  Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

Are you walking through the Valley of Decision? 
Are you wrestling with your future, all unclear?
Is your sky o'er cast with questions all unanswered?
Are you facing the unknown's unspoken fear?

There's a calling and your heart would rise to meet it
There's a burning and a passion for the lost
You have heard the bugle of the Heavenly battle
You've enlisted, and you'll go whate'er the cost

There are mountains round you rising all unconquered
Many causes where your services you'd lend
But you're waiting in the silence, indecision
Praying that some clear direction He will send.

Yet the doors seem barred against your searching, knocking
And the heavens seem all silent to your cries
You are seeking yet not finding any answers
And no light appears before your searching eyes.

He has promised to His child who now is kneeling
That He's heard each searching question, every plea
He will give you His abundant, priceless wisdom
In His time He will reveal His plan to thee

Though this moment He is silent to your pleadings
He will come and give direction very soon
Though He asks you wait, His timing's always perfect
And your faith within the darkness is your boon

Acknowledge Him, He's promised to direct you
Commit to Him your way, He'll bring to pass
His perfect plans and prosper you within them
In His own time, and your waiting will not last

He'll give you dreams you never even fathomed
And show you visions He has kept for you
You are not alone within this present trial
In the valley He will lead you safely through.
                                           -Rachael Lofgren

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Life In Allegory

              "That I might be like unto Him"
                                ( By: Annie Johnson Flint)
      And it came to pass, as I traveled along the Highway of Life, that I saw in the distance, far ahead, a mountain, and on it One standing, upon whose face rested a divine compassion for the grief of the world.
     His raiment was white and glittering, and in His hand was a cross. And He called unto the sons of men, saying "Come! Come!  Who will take up his cross and follow Me, that he may be like unto Me, and that I may seat him at My right hand and share with him things glorious and beautiful beyond the dreams of earth and the imaginings of men?"
     And I said, "What is my cross, that I may take it up?"
     And a Voice answered, "There are many crosses, and thine shall be given thee in good time."
     And I said, "What will bring me near to Thee and make me most like Thee?"
     And the Voice replied,  "There are many angels with whom thou canst walk; but see that they lead thee only toward Me, and never away from Me, for some there be that will cause thee to forget Me."
     And I said, "What angel shall be given me?  And I felt a hand laid upon mine, and saw beside me one with a smiling face, who said, "Walk with me; I am the Angel of Joy."
     Then all my life grew bright, and wealth was mine, and many pleasures, and friends crowded around me, and Love crowned me, and I knew no care.
     But suddenly I heard the Voice, and it sounded faint and far off, and it said, "Alas! Thou art not coming toward Me." And I fell upon my knees, crying, "Oh, forgive me that I could have forgotten Thee! Take away the angel, since he leads me not unto Thee."
     Then the world grew dark and I heard a low voice beside me saying, "Come with me; I am the Angel of Sorrow."
     Then he took my hand in his, and I went with him, weeping.  But now there were no friends around me, and pleasure palled upon me, and my heart was very sad.  And as I went I saw that the Vision grew brighter, and I perceived that I was no longer walking away from it.
     But my soul was exceeding sorrowful, and I looked back often, and saw in memory the joys I had once known, until the tears blinded me, and I stumbled continually, for the path was rough, and it had begun to lead upward.
     Then I heard the Voice again, and it said, "Look not back; regret not the past; I will send thee another angel who will help thee to forget the things that are behind." 
    Then the Sorrowful Angel vanished, and in his place stood one whose face was cheerful, and he said, "Come! Let us be up and doing; I am the Angel of Work."
     And I went with him - at first with lagging steps and a sore heart; but as my sight became clearer, I beheld many sick and discouraged, many who had fallen by the way.  Then I heard the Voice again saying, "The laborers are few. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto Me."
     So I began to help those around me, and as my hands grew busy, my heart lightened, and I forgot to look behind me and mourn for the lost joys of the past, and at times there was even a song upon my lips.  But the road was rough and often dark, and whiles my courage failed me and my very soul was disquieted within me.  For there were sorrows I could not comfort, and hunger I could not satisfy, and burdens I could not help to lift; and I only could stretch out my hands and cry, "Oh, Thou who hast helped me, help these, for I cannot."
     Then the Voice said, "Be not weary in well doing.  Thou art coming toward Me.  I will send one who will bring thee still nearer."
     Then I saw beside me an angel with a veil before his face, who said in a grave voice, "Canst thou walk with me?  I am the Angel of Sacrifice."
     But I shrank back, murmuring, "What wilt thou take from me?"  And he answered, "I will take nothing.  Thou must thyself give it of thine own free will.  It is thy Dearest Wish.'
     Then I hid my face in my hands, and cried, "I cannot!  I cannot!  Ask me something else! Give me some task to do!  Have I not labored faithfully these many days?  Did I not myself resign the joys that were once so precious to me, and turn away from them to follow Thee?  And I will follow Thee - still work for Thee, only leave me this one thing!  It is so dear to me - it is my light in darkness - my food in hunger - my rest in weariness - my comfort always! And yet I have not loved it better than The; it has not led me away from Thee, nor hidden from me the Heavenly Vision."
     Then the Voice said,  "Thou canst do with out all these things - light and food, rest and comfort; but canst thou do without Me?  And thou must choose between us. IS it too hard for thee? And yet thou saidst thou wouldst be nearer Me!"
     Then I cried in answer, "Yes, yes, I would; but oh!  Is there not another way?  Take all else and leave me only this!" But the Voice spoke no more.
     Then I struggled until the sweat broke out upon my brow in drops of agony, and my nights were sleepless, and my days troubled, and the Vision grew dim, and I saw no light.
     But then came a day when the Higher triumphed, and with a broken voice and streaming eyes, I held out my Dearest Wish, crying, "Take it, take it!  Thy will be done!"
     Then the vision broke in splendor, and I heard the Voice saying, "Thou hast fought a good fight. Now thou art indeed Mine; and behold! thy reward is even now beside thee."
     So I looked, and the angel had lifted his veil and was smiling, and lo! It was the Wish I had given up, but changed - beautified and glorified, a heavenly blessing in the place of an earthly.
     Then it vanished from my sight, and the Voice spoke again:  "thy sacrifice is accepted.  Thou shalt see it no more on Earth; but through all the days of thy mortal pilgrimage it shall be to thee a blessed hope, and it shall meet thee at the gate of Heaven, to be thine through all eternity.  And thou hast come much nearer unto Me, and art more like Me. Dost thou desire to draw still nearer Me?" And I cried, "Yes, yes, still nearer!" And the Voice replied, "There is but one angel more for thee to walk with.  It is the Angel of Suffering."
     Then a great trembling seized me and I said, "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  I know not if I can endure.  Yet do with me as Thou wilt, for I am Thine."
     Then suddenly there appeared before me an angel whose face was lined and furrowed as with the deep strokes of a chisel, yet over all there was the beauty of a conquered peace - a peace wrested from great tribulation, the look of one who had forgotten how to weep.
     And one hand he held out to me, and with the other he pointed to the ground.  And I looked and saw before me the cross which I had last seen in the hand of Him upon the Mount.
     Then the Voice said, "This is the only way by which thou canst approach nearest unto Me and be most like Me.  This is thy cross.  Lie down upon it without shrinking and without fear. Thou shalt not be alone; I too have been there. I sounded all the depths of pain, and at the last I was forsaken by the Father; but that last, worst suffering thou shalt not know, for I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."
     So I lay down upon the cross, and I rest upon it even unto this day.  And the Angel of Suffering watches upon my left hand, and upon my right is one who comes always with him - the Angel of His presence.  And of later there has been another,  the Angel of Peace.  And the three abide always with me.
     And the Vision is Vision no longer, but a Reality.  And it is not a stern Judge, nor a merciful God, but a loving Father who bends over me. The way has brought me almost to His feet.  There is but a narrow valley that divides us, the Valley of the Shadow, and the angel who shall lead me through it is the Angel of Death.
     I wait His coming with a tranquil heart, for beneath the mask that frights the timid human hearts which dread his summons I shall see a face I know - the face of the Son of God., who has walked beside me in the furnace of affliction, so that I passed through without even the smell of fire on my garments.
     And when I go down into the deep waters, it is His arm I shall lean upon, and the voice that welcomes me upon the other side will be His.
     And at the gate my Guide shall leave me, and I shall see Him no more until I behold Him at the right hand of God, having upon His head many crowns, and on His vesture a name written, 'King of kings, and Lord of lords," before whose face heaven and earth shall flee away.
     And the nations of them that are saved shall stand before Him, and they that come up out of great tribulation, who endure unto the end, and inherit all things, and they shall cry with a loud voice saying, "Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."
     And in Him who sitteth upon the throne I shall know the Man of Sorrows, Whom I saw upon the Mount of Vision, holding in His hand a cross and calling unto the sons of men, "Come! Come! Who will take up his cross and follow Me, that He maybe like unto Me, and that I may set him upon My right hand, and share with him things glorious and beautiful beyond the dreams of earth and the imaginings of men?"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

To go or stay


"It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China.  With these facts before you and 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

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Hidden Woman

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ, that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.”
                                                                                ~Maya Angelou

      As girls it is our hearts desire to be loved.  To be cherished and secure.  Because of these desires we are often prone to temptations;  Whether it be the temptation to daydream and fill our hearts and minds with romantic notions of prince charming, to indulge in the reading of romantic fantasy, or to engage ourselves in the flirtatious pursuit of the opposite gender.  All of these are simply byproducts of the driving need in the heart of every girl to belong.
     Let me hasten to say that these desires of the heart in and of themselves are not wrong.  In fact they are very beautiful and a gift from the God who designed us.  It is when we seek fulfillment for these desires in our own time and way that they become detrimental to us and a blot on God's name.  If we do pursue this route our hearts will continue to be empty and unfulfilled.
     God understands the deep needs and desires of our hearts.  He knows us intimately and longs to come and fill that empty aching void.  He and He alone can truly fulfill our need. And it is only when we have found the deep and lasting security of being hidden in Him that we can truly find fulfillment in life, including the area of other relationships.  
     God is  a God of purity.  He delights in those who have yielded to His call to being set apart.  Who wait for Him to reveal His perfect plan and obey Him step by step. He gives His best to those who keep their hearts for Him and His purposes.
     Focus on Him.  Seek Him.  Serve Him.  He'll meet your every need and reveal a plan for you that whether single or married will be far beyond your wildest dreams. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Waiting on God

"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall  strengthen thine heart: wait, is say, on the LORD."                                                                   Psalm 27:14 

  Have you ever really wanted something? Most of us have.  And if you've ever wanted something most likely you've also had to experience waiting for it.  Waiting doesn't come easy.  At least it doesn't for me.  Waiting is a  tedious, painful business.  Not something I would naturally choose.  Yet if I look closer I find that like every other tool God uses in our lives, waiting is very important.
     Scripture is full of examples of waiting.  For instance the life of Joseph. It was as a young boy that God gave him visions of his future. But it was years later after he had endured betrayal, slavery, imprisonment under false accusation, and the slight of being forgotten that God fulfilled his promise and brought him into a place of leadership. David too was called at a young age and anointed to be king of Israel, but it would be years before he would actually ascend to the throne.  Those years of waiting were years fraught with treachery, betrayal, hardship and loss.  Yet it was through those years of waiting that God shaped David into a man more and more after His own heart.
     Sometimes it seems like perhaps our waiting will never end.  In the three years I waited for the doors to open for my trip to Ukraine, I was sometimes tempted to wonder if I'd really been called at all.  In the twelve years we waited for a like minded church it sometimes seemed like God would never answer our prayers. But in both cases in His own perfect time He came through and just as we had requested and He had promised He answered our pleas and gave us the desires of our hearts.
     God is not slack as some men count slackness, His view of time is just different than ours.  So often I want what I want and I want it right now.  But God in His wisdom and love chooses to deny my requests and asks me instead to wait.  For He knows only too well that if like a hatching chick or an opening rose bud His perfect plan is rushed by my impatience, granting my wish would only bring harm and disappointment. It is for His greater glory and my greater good that He chooses to wait.
     One of my favorite Biblical examples of  God's purpose in waiting is in John chapter 11.  Jesus is called upon by some very dear friends to come to their aid in an extremely dire situation.  Mary and Martha's brother Lazarus is ill.  They are confident Jesus can help him, He's healed so many before.  They don't doubt that He'll come to their aid.  He's not the sort to fail people.
     But He never comes. Lazarus does not get better.  Time passes.  Then Lazarus dies.  Why did He wait until it was too late? Why didn't He come when they called for Him?  Why did He allow them to face this tremendous heartache and loss?  This and many other questions must have hounded the grieving sisters.
     Jesus reveals his purpose for waiting in verses 4-6.  "When Jesus heard that, he said, 'this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.' Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.  When He had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where He was."  It was only for the glory of God and because of His love for them that He tarried.  He could have gone and healed Lazarus right away.  He could have saved them all that heartache and sorrow.  But He chose instead to allow them to wait that He might give them something far greater.
     After two days He went to them.  When He got there they had questions.  He was torn by their grief and tenderly personal in His comfort to them.  Then He did for them what He had intended to do all along.  He asked them to take Him to where Lazarus was buried. Now He had not only the two sisters as an audience for His miracle but a whole group of mourners.  He told them to roll away the stone.  Then that they "shouldst see the glory of God" so that "they may believe."  He prayed aloud and then with a loud voice He called "Lazarus come forth."
     I can only imagine the fear mingled with faith and hope that beat high in the hearts of the two sisters as they stood by, waiting.  Then to their astounded delight appeared the brother they had buried four days before,quite alive, though still bound by his grave clothes.  Can you imagine the joy?  The sheer wonder of that moment?  Would it not have been worth every ounce of pain and waiting?   "Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him." (verse 45)
     Those who wait for Him will not be ashamed.  His purposes and goals are far beyond our human comprehension and so often in our littleness and impatience we cannot see them.  He well understands our weakness, but drawing near to us He chooses instead of granting our pleas to comfort us in our distress and to call us to renew our strength in Him so that in His perfect time if we will only let Him He will do something beautiful above and beyond what we could ever dream possible for no good thing will He withhold from them who love Him.  May He the God of endurance and encouragement grant us the grace to wait upon Him that in His own good time His name may be glorified and the desires and longings of our hearts satisfied by His all wise and perfect plan.



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Because I Know

The storm is raging on the deep
But I need not to be afraid

For God His promises doth keep

And when on Him my heart is staid

Sweet calm prevails, a peace within
Despite the restless wind and waves

Because I know my Lord will win
Because I know my Jesus saves
                                                                        Rachael Lofgren