Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Tell the world, Israel,
"His love never quits."
And you, clan of Aaron, tell the world,
"His love never quits."
And you who fear God, join in,
"His love never quits."
5-16 Pushed to the wall, I called to God;
from the wide open spaces, he answered.
God's now at my side and I'm not afraid;
who would dare lay a hand on me?
God's my strong champion;
I flick off my enemies like flies.
Far better to take refuge in God
than trust in people;
Far better to take refuge in God
than trust in celebrities.
Hemmed in by barbarians,
in God's name I rubbed their faces in the dirt;
Hemmed in and with no way out,
in God's name I rubbed their faces in the dirt;
Like swarming bees, like wild prairie fire, they hemmed me in;
in God's name I rubbed their faces in the dirt.
I was right on the cliff-edge, ready to fall,
when God grabbed and held me.
God's my strength, he's also my song,
and now he's my salvation.
Hear the shouts, hear the triumph songs
in the camp of the saved?
"The hand of God has turned the tide!
The hand of God is raised in victory!
The hand of God has turned the tide!"
17-20 I didn't die. I lived!
And now I'm telling the world what God did.
God tested me, he pushed me hard,
but he didn't hand me over to Death.
Swing wide the city gates—the righteous gates!
I'll walk right through and thank God!
This Temple Gate belongs to God,
so the victors can enter and praise.
21-25 Thank you for responding to me;
you've truly become my salvation!
The stone the masons discarded as flawed
is now the capstone!
This is God's work.
We rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it!
This is the very day God acted—
let's celebrate and be festive!
Salvation now, God. Salvation now!
Oh yes, God—a free and full life!
26-29 Blessed are you who enter in God's name—
from God's house we bless you!
God is God,
he has bathed us in light.
Festoon the shrine with garlands,
hang colored banners above the altar!
You're my God, and I thank you.
O my God, I lift high your praise.
Thank God—he's so good.
His love never quits!
Monday, October 24, 2011
“How could he be dead? Surely, God would somehow, someway, still intervene...He was not to intervene in the way I hoped, but in quite another way--equally miraculous. Just how miraculous I was not to realize until much later. I was to be led by that Power outside myself into areas beyond my knowledge, along the path that leads through and out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. There would be rocky ledges, steep slopes, slippery places, many a fork in the road where a clear-cut decision would be required. I knew none of the trails: the Valley was untrodden country. yet by sure steps I would be led through it. I was to discover the Lord as my Shepherd- quite literally and in many practical ways”. - Catherine Marshall “To Live Again”
I looked out the window of the plane on my way home on Friday night, thinking about being amidst those that still feel the ache from the loss of my lovely sister. I remember feeling the way Mrs. Marshall described: walking blindly through the Valley, finding the ledges, the slippery places, and the forks in the road to be daunting... but they were powerful projectors that pushed me forward into the unknown-- into the good. Even after all of this time, my eyes still fill with tears as I remember Nikki’s sweet smile, her laugh, and her trust as she told me her most intimate and precious secrets. I often hear people tell me, “You are so brave.”, “You have so much strength in you.”, “I can’t believe you are still moving forward at this pace.”
Well, truth is, I am not the strong person I’d like people to think I am. I was incredibly surprised by my response to her death-- that I was so concerned with making sure the Gospel was talked about at her funeral-- so that many people that did not know Christ could hear His message to them through her life. My usual selfish streak wasn’t showing itself at the time. It was very unlike me to put others ahead of myself, especially in a moment of deep pain. Something was added to me those days that followed her death. Some form of selflessness that was absolutely foreign to my typical way of doing life. Trust me, I’m NOT that mature of a person.
I find myself often still feeling the linens on her bed as I laid my head down by Nikki’s hand and her legs, exhausted from no sleep... with the sounds of Family Matters reruns in the background on the TV. I will never forget singing to her that night, with my voice shaky and begging God to heal her. Never before had my prayers been so desperate. I remember the night nurse watching me as I sang in those early hours of the night and wondering to myself, “What is she thinking? Am I crazy to be believing she could wake up at any moment?”
After all of the mess, I found myself questioning my faith and my life. I became terrified of future pain and suffering. There was no way I was going to get through all of this. My pain dominated my life. (And it still does at times!) After the initial few weeks of selflessness, my typical selfish behavior returned and still rages inside my heart on multiple occasions throughout the week. Praise the Lord that we have the Cross- that He had to die on our behalf because we couldn’t save ourselves- that our hearts would need redemption in the most unlikely place- through death.... and then, through resurrection. He trumps our selfishness every time. Marshall wrote, “I was to discover the Lord as my Shepherd- quite literally and in many practical ways.” So far, I’ve been blessed with His incredible presence in teaching me what it means to love amidst the pain. I’m looking forward to more of His direction.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Leave out the thee and thou and speak to me now.
Speak to my pain and confusion.
Speak through my fears and my pride.
Speak to the part of me that knows I'm something deep down inside.
I know that I am not perfect, but compare me to most,
In a world of hurt and a world of anger I think I'm holding my own.
And I know that you said there is more to life.
And I know I am not satisfied.
But there are mornings I wake up and I'm just thankful to be alive.
I've known now, for quite a while, that I am not whole.
I've remembered the body and the mind,
But dissected my soul.
Now something inside is awakening,
Like a dream I once had and forgot.
And it's something I'm scared of
And something I don't want to stop.
And I woke up this morning and realized that Jesus is not a portait.
Where stained glass windows or hymns or the tradition that surrounds us.
And I thought it would be hard to believe in
But it's not hard at all.
To believe I've sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.
And He's not asking me to change in my joy for martyrdom
He's asking to take my place.
To stand in the gap that I have formed
With His real, and His sweet, and His real amazing grace.
And it's not just a sign or a sacrament.
It's not just a metaphor for love.
The blood is real and it's not just a symbol of your faith.
So leave out the thee and thou and speak now.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
|An old radio program I stumbled upon today and thought I'd share. :)|
An Assigned Portion
Elisabeth Elliot: Do we think of our lot as hard? In a measure, yes. But let's remember that no matter how hard our assignment appears to be, it is an exact measure, apportioned and given by the will of the power that rules our destiny. "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says. "And underneath are theeverlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, continuing my talks today on "Whatever My Lot." I told you yesterday about having tea with Mrs. Vester, whose name was Bertha Spafford. She was the 91year-oldlady who had been the daughter of Horatio Spafford, the author of "It Is Well With My Soul," that beautiful hymn, the story of which so many of us know--how his wife and children were in a wreck at sea. The children were all drowned, and this lady that I had tea with in Jerusalem was then 91. She had been born after that disaster.
We talked about what the word "lot" means. It just means whatever happens to us, whatever befalls, whatever comes by the powers that rule our destiny. I gave you that wonderful verse in Psalm 16:5: "Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup, and have made my lot secure." God in His mercy measures out exactly the things that are best for us. We are to learn through the sorrows and the difficulties to love Him, to walk with Him, to show Him to the world, and we may learn to do what He did--to help lift other people's burdens.
In Gal. 6:2 we read, "Carry each other burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." I had a letter from a radio listener who has no mate, no children, no friends, no job. She's getting older and she is utterly miserable. She's asking me to help her with this. Well, I hope I helped her by pointing out to her the fact that she had no mate, no children, no friends, no job and that she was getting older were all a part of an assigned lot. You know, that woman could be very angry with me for saying that. She could say, "Well, what do you know about it? You have a great life. You have a wonderful husband. You have children. You have friends."
Well, I am getting older. I guess that's the only one that she would have to acknowledge was true. Is there anybody listening to me that's not getting older? You may be a long way from old, but we're all getting older, aren't we? Do we think of our lot as hard? In a measure, yes. But let's remember that no matter how hard our assignment appears to be, it is an exact measure, apportioned and given by the will of the power that rules our destiny--the will of God. I tried, of course, to turn her thoughts to the One who alone can meet her need--to turn to Christ in her loneliness, to offer it up to Him for His transformation, that she may be able then to lift the burden of someone else. The whole first chapter of 2 Corinthians is about Paul's sufferings and the ways in which God gave him the privilege of comforting other people because of the suffering that he himself had been through. That's true of every one of us.
Whatever the form of suffering that God has chosen for our lot and apportioned for us is there not only to teach us how to know Him and to love Him and to accept the lot that He gives us, but that we might also comfort other people. Out of Horatio Spafford's tremendous loss we have gained--by that beautiful hymn that he wrote. That may be the most important thing that he did in his life. Only God can judge that, but it's the only reason that most of us know the name of Horatio Spafford.
It was a revelation of Christ to him to realize that, though Satan should buffet and trials should come, here was a blessed assurance that kept him under control: "Christ hath regarded my helpless estate and hath shed His own blood for my soul." Without experiences of loss, bereavement, weakness, what knowledge or understanding would we have of the Savior of the world? He bore our grief. He carried our burdens and our sorrows and He calls us to do the same in this sin-sick, suffering, bewildered, lost world.
Do you know that beautiful story of the widow of Zarephath? In 1 Kings 17, God had been feeding Elijah the prophet in the wilderness by sending ravens to him with food every morning and every evening. But then the day came when the brook dried up and the ravens had been bringing him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he had been drinking from the brook. But when the brook dried up, because there hadn't been any rain, then the Lord said, "Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food."
So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and said, "Would you bring me a little water in a jar so that I may have a drink?" As she was going to get it, he called, "And bring me please a piece of bread." "As surely as the Lord your God lives," she replied, "I don't have any bread, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I'm gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it and then die."
Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said, but first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have, and bring it to me. And then make something for yourself and your son, for this is what the Lord the God of Israel says, 'The jar of flour will not be used up, and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land."'
So she went away and did as Elijah had told her. There was food for every day, for Elijah and the woman and her family. The jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord. Tremendous spiritual lesson in that little story. Here was the most destitute of women. There were no more destitute women in Old Testament times than widows. She was out there gathering the last few sticks to make the last of the cakes that she could make from what she had left of oil and flour.
Imagine the arrogance of this prophet coming along and saying, "Make me a cake first." But she didn't hesitate. She knew somehow that God was speaking through that man. In her obedience and what she thought would be a great sacrifice, God completely replenished that almost gone store of oil and flour, and continued to replenish it. I have found that this is true in the spiritual life. If we accept the poverty and the suffering that God has given to us in whatever form it may be--and my poverty has not been financial, but there are certainly other ways in which I've discovered that I am poor indeed. But if I receive that with thanksgiving and offer it back to God, He can replenish my emptiness for the good of others.
I read you the story of a woman depressed, self-pitying and hopeless. My advice to her is "Spend yourself " Is. 58: 10 says, "If you pour yourself out for the hungry, then the Lord will satisfy your desires and you will be like a watered garden." The Apostle Paul said, "I am poured out like a drink offering." Isaiah tells us that Jesus poured out His soul unto death. Paul's lot in life was one of radical limitation, no physical comfort, unfairness, and abandonment.
If all was in vain, yet he was willing to be poured out like a drink offering. In Phil. 2:12-18 this is what he says: "My dear friends, as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you to will and to do according to His good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you might become blameless and pure children of God, without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe, as you hold out the word of life, in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you." I don't know what your lot is today, but can you say with Horatio Spafford, "Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, 'It is well, it is well with my soul"'?
Monday, October 10, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he's the one who will keep you on track.
Don't assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline;
don't sulk under his loving correction.
It's the child he loves that God corrects;
a father's delight is behind all this.