If

I’d like to share a few quotes from Missionary Amy Carmichael‘s book entitled If. It is based on 1 Corinthians 13, often called the love chapter in the Bible.

If you aren’t familiar with Amy Carmichael (1867-1951), I encourage you to click on her name and read the very brief biography at that link. There really have been very few women like her.

“If I myself dominate myself,
if my thoughts revolve round myself,
if I am so occupied with myself I rarely

have a heart at leisure from itself,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

Amy Carmichael

“If the praise of others elates me
and their blame depresses me;
if I cannot rest under misunderstanding
without defending myself;
if I love to be loved more than to love,
to be served more than to serve,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

Amy Carmichael

“If I do not forget about such a trifle as personal success,
so that it never crosses my mind, or if it does,
is never given room there; if the cup of flattery tastes sweet to me,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

Amy Carmichael

“If my interest in the work of others is cool;
if I think in terms of my own special work;
if the burdens of others are not my burdens too,
and their joys mine,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

Amy Carmichael

“If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it,
because the spirit of discernment is not in me,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

Amy Carmichael

I have been thinking lately how much I underestimate God’s expectations of me. When I consider the life this woman, how she served and sacrificed for Christ and others, I am horrified by my laziness, failure, and complacency. Do I know nothing of Calvary’s love? Lately, I wonder.

Waiting Room

I think God builds waiting into His plan for our life. I think it might even be one of the holiest experiences we can have on earth.

  • I think of Moses waiting at the shore of the Red Sea for God to make a way.
  • I think of Ruth waiting to glean discards in the field.
  • I think of David waiting for his son to be healed.
  • I think of Esther waiting for the to appointed hour to enter the king’s chamber.
  • I think of Joshua waiting for the walls to fall.
  • I think of Hannah pleading with God, as she waited for a miracle.
  • I think of Elijah waiting for fire from Heaven.
  • I think of Sarah plotting her own way, instead of waiting for God’s promise.
  • I think of Daniel waiting for the lions to fall asleep.
  • I think of Mary suffering scorn, as she awaited her Savior’s birth.

At those times when we are given room to wait,  let’s be sure not squander them. Let’s not regret that we have a waiting room to occupy, but let’s use it. Don’t plead with the Lord to end it, but recognize what a rare gift it is to be invited to wait on Him.

To wait with Him.

It is an exclusive opportunity that in one instant will end. The waiting will be over.

Until then, let’s attune our ear to His voice. Learn to listen. Learn His ways. Practice trusting Him.

Trust Him more.

Instead of filling our waiting room with busy work or mindlessness—entertainment, diversions, speculation—let’s spend it wisely. Rest on His promises. Trust in His presence. Pray. Worship. Seek.  Practice patience; remain faithful. Learn His comms.

Waiting on the Lord is never, ever in vain. 

❤ 

Psalm130_5

 

What Hea-Woo Did in Prison

This is the story of Hea-Woo.

Hea-Woo is from North Korea.

One day, she escaped across a river to China.

While she was in China, someone witnessed to her about Jesus Christ. Hea-Woo came to know Christ as Lord and Savior, and and began learning about her new faith.

It was not long, though, before she was captured by the secret police and returned to North Korea. There, she was sentenced to a prison camp.

At that prison camp, she made a few important decisions. She decided to:

  1. Tell her fellow prisoners about Jesus.
  2. Witness to her fellow prisoners by helping them (sharing her rice with the sick, helping others wash their clothes, etc.).
  3. Begin a secret church. They met in the prison bathroom.

Her church really captured my interest.

  • Her church met on Sundays and on Christmas.
  • Without access to a Bible, she could only from what she remembered learning in China. Whatever songs or Bible verses she remembered, she would teach her tiny congregation.
  • Their singing had to be as quiet as possible to avoid detection. It was almost imperceptible.

Hea-Woo ultimately was released from the prison camp, and later escaped to South Korea.

During her time in the North Korean prison camp, she lead five people to salvation. She says, “They were on the edge of death, and I could give them the message of hope.”

When God Takes the Hard Road

Someone shared a dumb meme on Instagram that said God takes the harder route on purpose, to show us He’s so powerful.

Give me a break!

We are not dolls in God’s toy house. He doesn’t use us like some benevolent giant, creating horrific challenges for us to face just so He can be our Hero. Yuck!

That is not the character of God.

God LOVES you! He doesn’t bring trouble to show His power. Trouble comes, because we breathe. We sin. We have an Enemy who hates us. God is not our Enemy. He is our Friend. Would a friend sneak over and slash your tires, just so they could come to your aid and win BFF points?

NO!

That is not love!

Who would ever love a person they knew had intentionally hurt them, just so they could save them?

If it seems like God is taking you on the long and hard road to victory (instead of the short and easy one you imagine exists), guess what?

It’s because that’s the only way out!

God loves us. He desires good for us. His promises to us are for our benefit! Over and over He reassures us in His Word that He’s got our back. He’s on our side!

So, if the road ahead looks long and hard, rejoice in knowing God will walk every step with you—if you will put your faith and trust in Him. And, I tell you what, on that long and hard road He has already sent His angels ahead to prepare oases along the way, places to rest and be invigorated. He has already sent angels to post warning signs for every trap and field mine the Devil has laid down. He has already prepared His own to be there for you when you need a hand to hold, a listening ear, and a praying friend.

Folks, if you choose to trust God, trust Him. All the way. And, you know, here’s the truth: we cannot trust our own eyes. Sometimes, things look a lot worse from our perspective, and the Devil tempts us away from God’s sure path with the false image of quick fix. Don’t let your heart deceive you. Trust God! His way is the only way out.

God bless you today! ❤️

“Fear not, for I am with thee: turn not aside, for I am thy God: I have strengthened thee, and have helped thee, and the right hand of my just one hath upheld thee.” Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

You Play A Part

You may look at some people in your life and wonder what they’re doing there.

[They may not matter much to you.]

Yet, the truth is you have no idea how important they may be to your future.

[Or, how important you might be to theirs.]

God is not random. He has a Big Plan, and it has to do with people.

The people…
…who always seems to show up;
…you can’t seem to lose;
…who rub you the wrong way;
…you see everyday, yet they are strangers to you;
…you wish you could know more.

All those people. 

So, don’t ignore them.
Consider them.
Reconsider your relationship with them.
Give them your respect.
Treat them with gentleness.
Help them, encourage them, and bless them.
Look for the opportunity to love them.
Pray God’s will for their lives, lift them up when they are down.
A little time and compassion matter.

And, always remember that no matter what you might think about their life right now, or the choices they’ve made so far, God has always had a plan and a purpose for their lives.

Maybe,
just maybe,
He’s been waiting for you to play your part.  

14 August 2011

The Believer’s Deadline

For some time now, I have been thinking about the absence of the fear of the Lord amongst Believers.

I think it’s a core issue that has caused many to compromise, embrace false doctrine, and fall away from right standing with God.

I believe we have made God into our own image; someone we can understand. Someone who’s thoughts are like our thoughts, and who’s ways are like our ways. We even think our thoughts are His thoughts, sometimes. Without seeking His Word, we go forward. It seems right to us, so let’s do it.

This kind of “faith” actually requires no faith at all.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Somehow, the church got the idea that God was supposed to be approachable, and that seems to be the crux of the problem. He is not approachable, except through Christ. Only through Christ. We must come to Him clothed in the righteousness of Christ, cleansed by the blood. And, Christ is not something we put on and take off when we get to the church door.

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Romans 13:14)

“And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” (Philippians 3:9)

The God of the Old Testament has not changed, and He never will. He required great things of those Saints of old, yet we expect Him to be satisfied with our measly gifts today. We give Him our “extra” time. We yawn and watch the clock. We decide how much we serve according to what we’re already doing, not according to how much there is to be done. We give more time to entertainment, than we do to knowing Him. Sports scores clutter more Facebook statuses than Scripture references. We pollute our minds watching and listening to things that should make us jump up and run out of the room. Why do we want to be a part of glorifying that which nailed our Savior to the Cross?

“Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

Friends, I have not written this to condemn anyone. I am not judging your choices, or prejudiced against your lifestyle. I am only concerned for the Body of Christ. The days are getting short, Brothers and Sisters. Christ is coming soon. That is not an inevitability that we just wait to arrive. “Why think about it? Why preach about it? It’s going to happen anyway.” No. We are missing the point, if that is what we think. Paul described this Christian life as a race to finish (2 Timothy 4:7). What runner ambles around the course, not caring whether or not he reaches the end? The Rapture is a deadline we are supposed to prepare ourselves for, and daily be working towards.

I love you, and I am praying for you. I pray you will allow these words to challenge you to search your heart. ❤

September 13, 2011

Let’s Make This Our Default Setting

 

Life can turn in a moment—one phone call. One word. One slip of your foot. One forgotten deadline. Life can feel very fragile.

That balance of bearable and unbearable circumstances is precarious.

However, we have an opportunity to do something powerful when Trouble shows up. It’s embodied in one simple statement; a declaration of faith:  I’m going to trust God, anyway.


Maybe, you’re going through some trouble right now. Have the scales tipped over to the unbearable side? If that’s the case, I want you to know that now is the time when your confession of faith in God is most important—and, most powerful!

Now, when you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel; when the only reports you hear are bad; when hope seems lost forever; when you’ve never felt more alone—this is when your faith is most challenged, and when it matters most that you press in harder than ever.

Yes, you’re going to feel scared, confused, hopeless—that’s OK. Emotions happen. Yet, even while you are feeling all those feels, your confession needs to be one of trust in the Lord.  You don’t have to feel like trusting God. Faith is not an emotion. We trust God out of reverence. It is an act of obedience and obedience always bears good fruit—the spiritual kind that makes life better!

I tell you what, no matter how dark or frightening or desperate your circumstances may seem right now, God is still bigger. God is still able. It’s none of our business how or when He fixes our troubles, but it’s our business to trust Him, anyway. He’ll take care of the rest!

So, say it out loud. Turn it into a song. Write it on paper, and tape it to your wall. Make it your Facebook status!

Come on. Say it with me: I’m going to trust God, anyway.

“Praise the Lord! For all who fear God and trust in him are blessed beyond expression. Yes, happy is the man who delights in doing His commands. He does not fear bad news, nor live in dread of what may happen. For he is settled in his mind that Jehovah will take care of him.Psalm 112:1&7 (TLB)

Praise the Lord! ❤

Every Tool in the Box

“Oh, no.”

I could hear from the tone of the Saxophone Player’s voice that something really bad had just happened. 

Doug was installing a new shower head we’d received for Christmas,  when the water pipe that pokes out from the shower wall broke off right into his hand. It didn’t unscrew off, mind you. It was sheared right at the point where the threading starts and it screws into another pipe.

This was not good.

Doug texted our son-in-law, and asked if he could check it out the next day. Tim’s a handy fellow, and conveniently lives in the upstairs apartment. So, the next afternoon Tim came down with a pair of pliers in hand. I was surprised he only had a pair of pliers. I imagined the tub wall would have to be opened to get to the rest of pipe, and said so to Tim.

Cheerfully, (he’s a pretty upbeat guy) he said, “Well, maybe not. If I can remove the rest of the pipe, we shouldn’t have to open up the wall.” He explained that he’d checked on the situation earlier, before leaving for work, but the pliers he had used didn’t do the trick. “Hopefully, this pair will work.”

I went back to what I was doing (making applesauce), while he did his thing. About a minute later, he calls out: “I got it!”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah, thanks to my grandfather’s pliers.” He laid them down to show me. “I couldn’t find them this morning, but I had a feeling they would do the trick.”

There are lots of pliers in the world, and they all work just fine, but that particular pair was just what Tim needed for that particular job.

I don’t use pliers often, but I use other tools. We all do. Some tools we reach for everyday, and some maybe only once a year. However, even that tool you only use once a year, like the hacksaw that Doug uses to make a fresh cut on our Christmas tree, is irreplaceable. Nothing else can do what it does. 

As I thought about tools, and how thoughtfully designed and carefully crafted they are for their particular purpose, I started to think about us—you and me. We’re actually tools, too. We were thoughtfully designed and carefully crafted, too. And, the Master Craftsman who designed us created us for a very particular purpose. 

Stop and think about that.

Now, no analogy is perfect, but I think there’s a measure of truth here. The Word of God tells us that we are gifted by God with certain talents: something we can do. These aren’t always talents like we normally think of talents—performance talents. It might be a talent for bringing order to chaos. Or, maybe you can turn a carrot and an egg it into a tasty and beautiful birthday cake. Maybe, you aren’t a singer, but you can make the singer’s voice heard above the drums in a room filled with 1,000 people.

As many tools are in any toolbox or kitchen drawer, it’s still just a drop in the bucket of how many different talents God has gifted His creation—you and me. Whether we have several, or have trouble thinking of even one, I can promise you that God has given you a talent, and He means for you to use it for the very purpose He intended.

So, what’s your talent? Does something come to mind? If you’re like I used to be, you might feel too insecure to say what you think your talent is, and that’s OK. I would probably still have a hard time admitting out loud that I have a talent for doing anything more than making gravy, and when I was younger—and so much more insecure—that’s the only talent I thought I had to offer the Lord. I baked cookies for the homeless, I cooked for church suppers, and I took meals to the sick. I took the only talent I thought I had, and used it every chance I could. As I kept serving the Lord with the talent I had, and doing anything else for the Lord—including things I was definitely not talented at doing—I discovered and acquired other talents.

Now, a reasonable question right now might be, “How do I find out what my talents are, and what God’s purpose is for my talent?”

Well, this is my simple answer: first, start doing whatsoever your hand finds to do for the Lord.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NKJV)

That’s one reason we need to be in church. In church, there are so many opportunities to serve God. Some opportunities might not sound very appealing. Or, we might be tempted to say, “I don’t think I have a talent for that.” Yet, as we start doing whatsoever our hand finds to do, we start to discover there are some things we’re actually really good at, and really enjoy doing. That’s a good sign. Our leaders are going to recognize our talents, too. We might not think we’ve a talent for something, because we compare ourselves to others, but our leaders can be more objective.

Now, your next reasonable question might be: “How will I know God’s purpose for my talent?” That answer is even simpler that the last answer. The ultimate purpose for any talent is that it glorify God.

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV)

Now, if we happen to attend a church that doesn’t have many opportunities, we can ask our pastor to help us find a local ministry that needs help. However, I suspect most pastors will have something for a willing person to do. We might start serving in just a small way, or in a way we really don’t think is using our talent (or that we are talented at doing), but that’s how God leads us to those works that He has prepared in advance for us to do. 

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

Start doing something, and see what God does next. 

 

 

Happen-ness

I went all the way back to my Xanga blog for this TBT. I originally published this on March 9, 2011. 


So…yeah.
These happen to be challenging days.
God has proven Himself faithful so many times.
I know He’s bigger than the Boogie Man.
And, all the other scary things that threaten me.
It’s just been challenging. 
And, I’m a little weary.
So…yeah.

There is good news, though.
As I checked my FB tonight, I happened to see a post from my friend, Q’ene:

“Down? Depressed? Discouraged? Dismayed? Disheartened?

How was that title NOT going to get my attention? Q’ is such an encourager. She knows how to do the heavy-lifting. It’s a rare, and precious gift!

Then, I happened upon DanishDoll on FB. I requested she add me, and she did! When I looked at her Wall, I saw that she had just posted a devo on her Xanga:

Stupid Ideas

Good title! What a good exhortation. Mae does it well, speaking the truth in love, which is just what I needed to hear. (Click title to read.)

The third thing I happened across tonight, in such a roundabout way, was this video:

The testimony that follows is awesome. I really needed to hear David Kyle Foster’s clear and simple teaching. He does that well – shares deep, spiritual truths in a way that penetrates the brain fog of selfishness.

So…yeah.
Things are tough right now.
I will spare you the list.
It doesn’t really matter, you know?
Tough times happen to us all.
However, God happens, too.
He happens into our troubles.
He happens into our worries.
He happens into our disobedience.
He happens into our fear.
He happens into our mess.
He happens to love us, despite us.

I’m so glad God happens to love me.
(Sigh)
Tomorrow, if God wills, a new day happens.
Hope happens, too.

P.S. Both Qene’s and Mae’s Xangas are retired (though Danish Dolls does have her archive active). If you want to stay in step with these ladies and be blessed by their good words, you can find them on Facebook here and here.

Unraveling Life’s Tangled Kite Strings

The other day. I was trying to repair two kites at the same time—while riding in a car. Admittedly, not a lot of wisdom in that decision, but we were taking our grandbabies to the park and I was trying to fix them before we got there.

Well, I couldn’t be too surprised when their strings got tangled together, but I was frustrated and disappointed in myself. Why did I think I could keep it all straight?

You know, I normally don’t mind a tangle. They’re just a challenging puzzle, a mental break. I like taking the time to focus on that knot and work it out.  I wasn’t enjoying this one, though. Time was not on my side.  This knot was going to spoil my chance to fly kites with the grandbabies. I didn’t want to work this one out; I just wanted to cut it all up and throw it away.

Staring at that tangled mess of string, losing my patience, and wanting to give up on the whole shebang, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “This is where some some people are living right now. Their life feels like a tangled mess, and they don’t know how to figure it out.”

Well, I assure you that I did not expect the Holy Spirit to show up in the middle of my trying to figure out that tangle, but I started to think about what He had said. I started to think about that person. I started to think about what it takes to get out of these messes in real life, and about the compassion the Lord has on us in the midst of them. The devil tells us God is mad and has turned away from us, but that’s just a lie. It may have been our own bad choices that got us into that tangle in the first place, but God isn’t expecting us to fix it ourselves. God isn’t a self-help guru, trying to get us to fix our own problems. He is a loving Father, a good Father, promising to help us in our time of need, and receive us back into His arms, tangled mess and all—if we will just turn back to Him and ask for help.

Remember, the prodigal son? Did he get himself all fixed up nice and clean, life back in order first, before leaving that pig pen? Did he restore the inheritance he’d squandered, and pay back his debtors, before humbling himself and returning to his father’s home? Not at all! Yet, his father received him with open arms and celebration.

This is how God will receive anyone who returns to Him like the prodigal, with a repentant and contrite heart. It is a step of faith with a promised conclusion: forgiveness and restoration.

I did figure out that tangle, once I just slowed down and took it one step at a time. In the end, the last tangle was just one string that had gotten wrapped around itself, and it unraveled with one gentle pull. It wasn’t as bad a mess as I’d thought.

Maybe, your mess isn’t as bad as you think, either. Even if it is, though, I know the Holy Spirit will help you. I promise you, He will not reject you. If you come to Him with a sincere repentance, He will take you step by step through that mess, and put it in order for you. He loves you. He wants to help you. He wants to shower you with His love and forgiveness, just like the prodigal’s father did for him. Please, trust the Lord. Take your mess to Him, and let Him work it out.

Have a blessed Sunday, everyone. ❤