Friday, April 29, 2016

Broken Dreams

  As children bring their broken toys
  With tears for us to mend,
  I brought my broken dreams to God
  Because He was my friend.

  But then instead of leaving Him
  In peace to work alone,
  I hung around and tried to help
  With ways that were my own.

   At last I snatched them back and cried,
  "How could you be so slow"
  "My child," He said, "What could I do?
  You never did let go."
  - Author Unknown

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Build a Little Fence of Trust Around Today

I referred to the following experience in my book, Filled Up, Poured Out: How God's Spirit Can Revive Your Passion and Purpose.  It holds deep meaning for me.

 One day, after making a hospital visit in Duluth, Minnesota, I was drawn by the spire of the old First Presbyterian Church. A kind secretary opened up the sanctuary for me to sit and pray for a while.

 Gazing around, my eyes fell upon a beautiful stained glass window. It was the picture of a gravestone with dark purple and black hues overshadowing it. But at the top of the window, squarely in the center of a black night, shone a bright golden star -- which seemed to exude hope and light. The star was the focal point of the window.

 At the bottom, the following words were inscribed:
In memory of Sarah Agnes Graff
 Build a little fence of trust around today.
 Fill the space with loving work and therein stay.
 Look not through the sheltering bars upon tomorrow.
 God will help thee bear whatever comes, if joy or sorrow.

I wondered what the story was behind Sarah Agnes Graff -- who passed into eternity at the tender age of 36. What was it about her that inspired such a beautiful work of art?

Upon some further investigation, I found that she and her family had moved from central Pennsylvania a few years before, and that her husband, Phillip, owned and operated a very successful lumber and interior furnishings company. The Graff's seemed blessed, indeed, with a lovely home, a thriving business, a good reputation in the community, and five beautiful, healthy children.

Tragedy, however, does not discriminate. It knocks at every door. Sarah fell ill with a high fever and severe abdominal pain. Before the doctors could find the cause or cure, she slipped into unconsciousness and died. She drew her last breath on November 20, the day before Thanksgiving.

I imagined Phillip, the heartbroken father, and his precious children: little Herbert, only five; and Agnes, age six, along with twelve year old Carroll, and the two teenage daughters, Anna and Margaret,, standing beside an open grave at Forest Hill Cemetery, on that cold, bleak November afternoon.

Rev. Ringland, their beloved minister, bowed his head and said:
Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God to take unto Himself the soul of our sister, Sarah, here departed, we therefore commit her body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

And then, the grieving family walked away together, with deep sorrow and a glimmer of hope to face uncertain days.
I've heard it said that there are two things that pierce the human soul: beauty and anguish.
The Sarah Graff window at First Presbyterian Church captures both.

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned."
(Isaiah 9:2)

. . . God will help thee bear whatever comes -- of joy or sorrow.

Monday, April 25, 2016

That I May Know Him

“ That I may know Him," -- Father grant the longing that burns within me as a quenchless fire: For in these words what wondrous depths lie hidden, embracing all I need or can desire.

  “That I may know Him" -- this is life eternal, not to possess a gift apart from One who is the fount from which all true life springs, and whom to know is heaven on earth begun.

  “That I may know Him" -- not in name or theory, This brings no         power to stand amid earth’s strife. No; I will know Him as my living Savior,  the very strength and center of my life. 

-- Freda Hanbury Allen, from  That I May Know Him, a beautiful collection of spiritual poems published in 1904.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Devil Doesn't Mind This Kind of Christian Work

"Satan is not necessarily opposed to all Christian work. He cares little how zealously we busy ourselves at good things so long as we do not work in the power of the Holy Spirit. He is often pleased if we work so hard and so long that we begin to fret and worry. He is happy if we undertake more work than we can saturate with prayer. He would not seriously oppose if every Christian were a tireless worker -- so long as he worked only in his human energy and was not empowered and anointed by the Spirit of God."  -- Wesley L. Duewel

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Daily Dose of Peace

The following is taped in the inside cover of my Bible, and I have found it to be quite helpful throughout my life.    Particularly in times of stress, trouble, and hardship, the following daily verses are like inspiration pills for the soul.

  Monday -- Peace, I give unto you. . . let not your heart be troubled. (John 14:27)

  Tuesday -- You will keep me in perfect peace, when my mind is fixed on you. (Isaiah 26:3)

  Wednesday --  Rest in the Lord, wait patiently for him, and do not fret.  
(Psalm 37:7)

  Thursday --  My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.  (Exodus 33:14)

  Friday --  Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  (Matthew 11:28)

  Saturday --  Let the peace of God rule in your heart, since you were called to peace. . . and be thankful.  (Colossians 3:15)

  Sunday -- He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.  (Psalm 23:2-3)

  Also -- the F.A.C.T.S. of Prayer

  F -- Faith:  "If you believe, you will receive what you ask in prayer."  
  (Matthew 21:22)

  A -- Adoration:  "O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together."  (Psalm 34:3)

  C -- Confession:  "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."  (1 John 1:9)

  T -- Thanksgiving:  "In everything give thanks, for this is God's will concerning you."  (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

  S -- Supplication  (This means praying for other people as well as your personal needs)  "Pray without ceasing."     (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Don't Ask for It -- Ask for Him

This morning, I was inspired by something beautiful. The basic idea is from an old evangelist from 100 years ago named S. A. Keen.

When we our lack becomes evident -- and we realize we need more than we can possibly offer in order to make it through (rest, assurance, cleansing or power) our natural tendency is to ask for "it."  "God, please give me strength. . . God, please give peace. . ." But, often, those prayers only bring little trickles of help.

Instead of asking for "it", try asking for HIM.

"Lord, I don't need 'it' nearly as much as I need You. Please come, and fill my heart, my soul, my mind, my strength, my memories, my moments -- with YOU!  

If we ask for "it", we may or may not get it. But if we ask for HIM, He will come and bring it with Him!  He, alone, is our secret source of soul refreshment. 

The next time you pray, just say, "Lord, give me your Holy Spirit that I may know I am your child.  You will do it!  Amen!"    If you ask for Him, you will get Him and He will bring all energy, purity, power and peace you need.

As my friend, Daniel Henderson says, "when we seek His hand, we may miss His face, but when we seek His face, He will be glad to open His hand and satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts."

"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" -- Luke 11:13

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Seven Myths of Repentance

1.  Repentance equals sorrow.  (No -- repentance means more than feeling sorry.  It means turning from sin to Jesus.)

 2.  Repentance and self-defense can exist together.  (If I am justifying, excusing, and defending myself, I'm not repenting.)

 3.  Repentance can be selective; one can pick and choose.  (It's not a' la carte)

4.  Repentance is purely personal -- to feel better.  (All sin is against God, and hurts others, even if you can't see it right away.)

 5.  Repentance is about a deed I've done.  (It's deep matter of the heart.)

 6.  Repentance is about self-preservation.

 7.  Repentance is a single act.  (There is a huge difference between having repented, and being repentant.)

 --  Richard Owen Roberts