Friday, September 24, 2010

The Spirit Suffered Them Not

After they came to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
                                                                                                      -Acts 16:7

     "What a strange prohibition!  These men were going to Bithynia just to do Christ's work, and the door is shut against them by Christ's own Spirit. I, too, have experienced this in certain moments.  I have sometimes found myself interrupted in what seemed to me a career of usefulness.  Opposition came and forced me back, or sickness came and compelled me to retire into a desert apart.
   It was hard at such times to leave my work undone when I believed it to be the service of the Spirit.  But I came to remember that the Spirit has not only a service of work, but a service of waiting.  I came to see that in the kingdom of Christ there are not only times for action, but times in which to forbear acting.  I came to learn that the desert place apart is often the most useful spot in the varied life of man - more rich in harvest than the seasons in which the corn and wine abounded.  I have been taught to thank the blessed Spirit that many a darling Bithynia had to be left unvisited by me.
     And so, Thou divine Spirit, would I still be led by Thee. Still there come to me disappointed prospects of usefulness.  Today the door seems to open into life and work for Thee; tomorrow it closes before me just as I am about to enter.
     Teach me to see another door in the very inaction of the hour.  Help me to find in the very prohibition thus to serve Thee, a new opening into Thy service.  Inspire me with the knowledge that a man may at times be called to do his duty by doing nothing, to work by keeping still, to serve by waiting.  When I remember the power of the "still small voice," I shall not murmur that sometimes the Spirit suffers me not to go."
                                                                                                   -George Matheson

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Mender



When we were small and broke our doll
We'd run to Daddy Dear
And say, " Cannot you mend my toy?"
He'd wipe away our tears.

And say, "Of course my Little One,
I'll mend it, don't you fear."
And then he'd fix our little toy,
While we were standing near.

Further in life we find the breaks
A human cannot mend,
A broken heart, relationships
A friendship with a rend.

A life that's shattered into bits,
A dream that's lost to doubt;
A man in prison chains of fear,
Who can't seem to get out.

But though our earthly fathers
Cannot mend these broken things.
We have a Father up above,
Who if we'll only bring

Our troubles to His throne of grace
He'll lovingly access,
And gently say to us today,
"My Child, don't fear this mess."

"I'll mend the broken life you've brought
I'll do what's good for you.
Don't fear, just trust Me, Little One,
For I'll take care of you."

And as He does, He gives to us 
Dreams higher, better, new.
Restores to us relationships
Sweeter, and stronger too.

The Heavenly Mender, God of Love,
Holds forth to every one,
The chance to come and give Him all
And say, "Thy will be done."

"All on my own, I only fail.
 I give my life to You!"
He gently takes that broken life
And gladly makes it new.

So bring to Him your brokenness;
The Heavenly Mender Kind,
Will kneel and mend with loving hands,
And newness you will find.
                           -Rachael Lofgren

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Living" worship


     The thought struck me this morning that in a sense living as we were created to live "for His glory" is the essence of worship. Can one truly worship God in spirit and truth when he is living contrary to the will of God?  The chickadee trills his morning song for God's glory, and the trees rustle their praise, plants grow to His glory, and the sea thunders His praise (see Psalm 96), they are each doing what they were meant to do and in turn they glorify and praise God in it and through it.  They do it naturally, adoringly.  There is nothing forced about their worship, neither is there any question about whether or not they will worship Him. He is worthy and so they worship.  In my daily life I too would live a life of "living" worship.  Doing as He asks with unquestioning obedience flowing from an adoring love relationship with my King that I may offer Him pure unadulterated worship, for His glory.

                Psalm 96
Sing to the LORD a new song;
       sing to the LORD, all the earth.
 2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
       proclaim his salvation day after day.
 3 Declare his glory among the nations,
       his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
 4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
       he is to be feared above all gods.
 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
       but the LORD made the heavens.
 6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
       strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
 7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations,
       ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
 8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
       bring an offering and come into his courts.
 9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of his [a] holiness;
       tremble before him, all the earth.
 10 Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns."
       The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
       he will judge the peoples with equity.
 11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
       let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
 12 let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
       Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;
 13 they will sing before the LORD, for he comes,
       he comes to judge the earth.
       He will judge the world in righteousness
       and the peoples in his truth.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Isn't wait an answer?"


     "Sometimes God's answer to our prayer is "wait".  I was reminded of this today as I thought of the great commanded prayer in Psalm 2:8: "Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee...the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession."  Then came the thought the two "buts" of Hebrews 2:8-9, and the "are become" of Revelation 11:15:  "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in Heaven, saying,  The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever."  A long interval lies between the prayer and what may be called the answer.  The two "buts" fill the interval.  "But now we see not yet all things put under Him.  But we see Jesus...crowned with glory and honor."  We look across from one "but" to the other, and so the interval is filled with peace.
     There may be for us, in our small measure, something akin to the suffering of death which, for Him whom we follow, lay between prayer and the promise of Psalm 2:8, and the calm glory of fulfillment of Revelation 11:15.  But who would ask anything else?  If He waited, may we not?  Is not "WAIT" an answer?"
                                        Amy Carmichael (Edges of His Ways pg. 207)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Harvest Under the Moon

A "nearly" harvest moon 
It is an almost balmy September evening.  Daddy has declared that the time has arrived to gather in the pumpkins.  With all hands on deck it should go quickly.   A half moon rises in the east and the cheerful group sets to work with a will.
"Too big to carry, let er' roll!"

Even the little ones pitch right in...

 Then while we wait for Daddy to come with the trailer...

Now the wagon's here...Time to load em' up!

As we make our way back to the house we tuck away fond memories of another chilly autumn harvest. We have an extra large crop of extra large pumpkins gathered in.  The best pumpkin crop I've seen in our history of gardening.  Now for the pumpkin pie! :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Worth Of A Soul

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
                                                                                   Mark 8:36

The man was all dirty and smelly
His clothes were both filthy and torn
His breath reeked of liquor and onions
Deserving of nothing but scorn

Yet here he was standing before me
And asking a bed for the night
How could I? yet how could I answer?
"But Lord, he is really a sight."

"He's vomiting now on my doorstep,
I can't understand why I must
Feed him and bathe him and bed him
When all that I feel is disgust."

"My Child you were there once. Remember?
Though not in a physical way
You came to me destitute, naked
And sin stained and stinking that day."

"This man is a soul too my Child.
A soul of such great, precious worth
That I gave My life blood to save Him
And give him the hope of New Birth."

"I would not that any be lost, Child.
Tonight may just be what it takes
Will you do your part in the process
With sorrow My longing heart breaks"

"To see this, a man in my image
A soul in the bondage of sin
Set free from the clutches of Satan
That I may restore him within."

"Come rescue the perishing dying.
There isn't a soul, that's not worth
The touch of the love of your Savior
No soul less important on earth."

My heart in contrition is kneeling
I cannot refuse my dear King
He died that I too might be rescued
He's asking me such a small thing.

"You died to save this poor sinner
This beggarly man sunk so low
I cannot refuse what You're asking
Though Father my mind screams a "no!""

"My heart with Your love You are filling
And all I can do is respond
Please help me to rescue the dying
To join in Your sufferings bond."

"To see them my Father as you do
To Love them as only You can
Oh make me like You precious Jesus
And all selfish feelings please ban."

"You say I am washing Your feet Lord
When done to the least of these here
Please help me to always remember
How precious are souls and how dear."

And turning I help him to enter
This man who just moments before
I thought I would never be able
To let through my warm Kitchen door

He's sleeping now,  first thing tomorrow
I'll tell him about Jesus' love
His soul has become to my changed heart
A treasure to save for above.

"Whatever the cost I am willing
What ever it takes Lord to show
The path that will lead him to heaven
That Your saving power he might know."
                              -Rachael Lofgren
How much do I value the Souls around me?  Am I willing to let go of my fear of man and selfish "reputation" and reach out, get dirty, let go of my agenda, lay down my will? Love, really, truly Love as JESUS LOVED?  The cost may seem great but what is it in comparison to the worth of a single soul, which in the eyes of God is worth more than the whole world?  Our great example only waits to empower us. He already laid the foundation long ago.  Am I ready to follow, whatever it may cost me?  The precious harvest is ripe.  Will I go?

How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.                                                                                  Matthew 18:12-14

Friday, September 10, 2010

Far Above Rubies (A tribute to My Mom)

     I pause in my work to watch from my window.   It's the first day of school and a sweet little drama is unfolding in the driveway.  Two little girls and an eager kindergartner on his bicycle, headed by  Mom with his big teddy bear under her arm are embarking on a GRAND nature adventure.  I've been told they are on their way to the garden to hunt up some Petunia's to look at under the microscope. As I watch my heart swells with honor for this woman I call Mom.  Something tells me it's time to write a tribute! :)
     Mom is one of the most amazing women I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  She's quick witted and loyal, with a depth of wisdom that I have come to treasure and seek often.  She's hard working and goal oriented with a sense of humor and a love for all things beautiful.  She is a woman who is above all else in love with Jesus Christ,  a woman with a vision to reach the lost world, who has stood faithfully by Dad through the  ups and downs of their life together.  But one of the most striking things of all is that above all other pursuits in life she has poured her heart, life, soul, and prayers into the lives of her eleven children in a way that makes them know that beyond a shadow of a doubt she loves us with everything she's got.
    I will probably never know how much I owe her for her spiritual influence in my life.  Through the years she has been a steadfast example of standing alone for Christ and what the Scriptures say, no matter how unpopular it may seem to the rest of the world, both Christian and at large.  If she sees it, she does it, seeking God for His enabling power to carry it out. 
     Mom is the one who by her example inspired me to begin a disciplined and daily devotional time, emulating not a boring ritual but an alive and sweet communion with one's Dearest Friend.  From an early age she instilled dreams  in my heart for the Kingdom of God, especially a heart for missions, Whether it was reading about them, opening our home to them, or praying faithfully for those who were overseas and teaching us to do the same.  
     As a youngster she carefully gaurded the influences in my life, guiding my mind into the truths of  right and pure thinking, reading, and relationships.  She helped to instill in me a tender conscience, which has saved me untold sorrow.
     Through the years she has given me an incredible education, inspired me to love the beauty and wonder of God's creation,  to enjoy hard work,  and to develop my God given gifts.  As my future has unfolded step by step and God has begun to call me to new things in the past few years she has been my greatest human cheerleader and my strongest support.  Too many times to count she has been the one to give the word of encouragement that kept me going when things seemed impossibly impossible, and the one to share my moments of victory and joy.
     Mom is also an example of humility.  Things haven't always been perfect and  Mom's the first to admit that she's made some mistakes.  But she doesn't' just sit down and give up.  She seeks God's heart on the matter and goes on trying, allowing Him to use the pain and the imperfections of life to draw her nearer to Himself and make her more like Him.
    Mom is loved by many.  I too am privileged to call her friend and confidant, as well as my Mom. Too many to count are the hours we have spent discussing almost every topic of interest that exists;  Sharing our hearts late into the night; Working side by side to accomplish a common goal;  sharing tears and pain; laughter and joy;  teasing and fun;  hopes for the future and dreams that may never be fulfilled; or just the sweet quietness of being together .
     I treasure you Mom.  You have been and done far more than I can ever thank you for in words. May God richly reward you both here and in eternity.  I rise up to call you blessed for you truly are a virtuous woman whose price is far above rubies.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fullness of LIfe

     John 10:9-10 says, "Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through Me will be saved, wherever they go, they will find green pastures.  The thief's purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all it's fullness. "
     Wow!  What life!  Green pastures wherever He calls us and fullness of life.  Who could ask for better?
     Yet again and again we like silly sheep, turn away to our own will and our own ideas of what "fullness of life" must be. "All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all."( Isaiah 53:6 NLT) When looked at in reality these thoughts always come from the thief Satan, and when followed they give him ground in our lives.
     Oh may we ever follow the GOOD SHEPHERD who KNOWS us and lays down His life for us, his sheep.  What a Shepherd!   


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Enlarged in Distress

"Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress."
                                                       ---Psalm 4:1

     "This is one of the grandest testimonies ever given by man to the moral government of God. It is not a man's thanksgiving that he has been set free from suffering.  It is a thanksgiving that he has been set free through suffering.  "Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress."  He declares the sorrows of life to have been themselves the source of life's enlargement.
     And have not you and I a thousand times felt this to be true?  Is is written of Joseph in the dungeon that "the iron entered into his soul."  We all feel that what Joseph needed for his soul was just the iron.  He had seen only the glittering gold.  He had been rejoicing in youthful dreams; and dreaming hardens the heart.  He who sheds tears over a romance will not be most apt to help reality; real sorrow will be too unpoetic for him.  We need the iron to enlarge our nature.  The gold is but a vision; the iron is an experience.  The chain which unites me to humanity must be an iron chain.  The touch of nature which makes the world akin is not joy, but sorrow; gold is partial, but iron is universal.
     My soul, if thou wouldst be enlarged in human sympathy, thou must be narrowed into limits of human suffering. Joseph's dungeon is the road to Joseph's throne.  Thou canst not lift the iron load of thy brother if the iron hath not entered into thee.  It is thy limit that is thine enlargement.  It is the shadows of thy life that are the real fulfillment of glory.  Murmur not at the shadows; they are better revelations than thy dreams.  Say not that the shades of the prison house have fettered thee; thy fetters are wings - wings of flight into the bosom of humanity.  The door of thy prison house is the door into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged thee by the binding of sorrows chain."
                                                                 ---George Matheson

"If Joseph had not been Egypt's prisoner, he never would have been Egypt's governor.  The iron chain about his feet ushered in the golden chain about his neck."   

Monday, September 6, 2010

Almost a year!

Airport in Washington
It's hard to believe it's been almost a year since my trip to Ukraine!  Looking back at pictures today I can't help feeling just a bit homesick to go back. :) 
It was a trip never to be forgotten both in it's newness, it's rich experiences of another culture and the amazing privilege of seeing God at work in too many ways to count.

Some of the firsts:
First flight across the Atlantic

First taste of Europe

First bowl of borscht
And my first major Holiday (Thanksgiving) away from family.
Some of the Highlights:
Hearing the bells at a cathedral as darkness fell.
Eating my first pomegranate.
Shopping at the markets.
Enjoying the incredible hospitality of the Ukrainian people. (We went to sing for this widow and she fed our large group a whole sit down dinner!)
Wonderfully sweet fellowship with  believers, American and Ukrainian alike. (Including the Russian church services. :-)  The singing was beautiful!)
Making new friends.
That crossed all cultural barriers because of the love of Christ.
Hearing in depth the incredible stories of how God worked in the lives of two very dear ladies.( Ludmilla and Galina, top picture, Ludmilla and bottom picture, Galina.)
And the stretching, enjoyable experience of working with a wonderful interpreter through the hours of interviews with them both. (Yan, far left. Galina center.)
Getting a glimpse of village life for several days.
Hand milking and watching the cows go out to pasture with the herders.
Enjoying the cheerfulness of the Babushkas
And realizing just how much I have to be thankful for! (The poverty level in many villages is still very high.)

 Ukraine is a country:
Both rich...
...and poor.
Struggling to Emerge from Communism's aftermath
Ruggedly beautiful
And varied.
Steeped in religion and dark superstitions but groping for the Light of Life.
It's people now hold both my heart and my prayers.
 Perhaps someday I will return.And in the meantime I'll cherish the gift of friendships and memories that remain.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Be Still

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
                                                                 Psalm 46:10

     "Straining driving effort does not accomplish the work God gives man to do. Only God Himself, who always works without strain, and who never overworks, can do the work that He assigns to His children.  When they restfully trust Him to do it, it will be well done and completely done.  The way to let Him do His work through us is to partake of Christ so fully, by faith, that He more than fills our life.
     A man who had learned this secret once said: "I came to Jesus and I drank, and I do not think that I shall ever be thirsty again. I have taken for my motto, "Not overwork, but overflow";  and already it has made all the difference in my life."
     There is no effort in overflow. It is quietly irresistible.  It is the normal life of omnipotent and ceaseless accomplishment into which Christ invites us today and always."

                                                      -From Sunday School Times

Be all at rest, my soul, O blessed secret, 
Of the true life that glorifies the Lord:
Not always doth the busiest soul best serve Him,
But he that resteth on His faithful Word.
Be all at rest, let not your heart be rippled,
For tiny wavelets mar the image fair,
Which the still pool reflects of the heaven's glory-
And thus the image He would have thee bear.

Be all at rest, my soul, for rest is service,
To the still heart God doth His secrets tell;
Thus shalt thou learn to wait, and watch, and labor,
Strengthened to bear, since Christ in thee doth dwell.
For what is service but the life of Jesus
Lived through a vessel of earth's fragile clay,
Loving and giving and poured forth for others,
A living sacrifice from day to day.

Be all at rest, so shalt thou be an answer
To those who question,  "Who is God and where?"
For God is rest, and where He dwells is stillness,
And they who dwell in Him, His rest shall share.
And what shall meet the deep unrest around thee,
But the calm peace of God that filled His breast?
For still a living Voice calls to the weary,
From Him who said, "Come unto Me and rest."
                                              -Freda Hanbury Allen

Friday, September 3, 2010

Peace and Festal Gladness

"Be at peace in knowing that I Am God..."  Psalm 46:10 (paraphrased.)

Great peace and festal gladness
And sweet tranquility -
These are the gifts Thou givest
To him who lives in Thee.

Thine inner rooms are hallowed;
No winds of time blow there,
But blessed balm and quiet
And joyance everywhere.

On him whom tempest buffets
A sudden stillness falls,
And he is far from turmoil
Within pavilion walls.

And heavenly places open;
A heavenly feast is spread;
With oil of joy for mourning
Dost Thou anoint his head.

There blame is all forgotten
There praise is all  unheard;
He tastes the hidden sweetness
Of far diviner word.

And cool green leaves of healing
Soothe every fretting sore;
He wonders at the trouble
That stirred in him before.

The lot has fallen to him
In fair and pleasant ground;
And multitudes of angels
Encompass him around.

Then satisfied with favor
His heart sings unto Thee
In whom is festal gladness
And sweet tranquility."
                      ---Amy Carmichael