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
 1853-1889
 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, of 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

Saturday, April 16, 2016

All Rivers Run Into the Sea

 A clapboard congregation
 sings heartfelt doxologies
 hammered out on an
 untuned upright piano
 with thirteen missing keys.

 Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

 Haunting canticles
 in a cavernous cathedral.
 Echoes of praise
 ring from pipes
 when songs have ceased.

 Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

 An orchestrated blend of rock and blues.
 A collection of redeemed sinners
 who've tasted grace.
 Ancient lyrics dance upon the screen,
 electrified.

 Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

 And which is true worship?
 Which is good and right?
 Which is met with heaven's smile?
 In which does God delight?
 ALL!

 Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Friday, April 15, 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)A

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Bottom Line Purpose of a Church

"Whenever the church becomes self-conscious and self-centered, she fails to accomplish her real divine calling.  Her highest glory is to be seen only in the revealing of her Lord."
 -- A. B. Simpson

Monday, April 11, 2016

Marriage Check Up

“A man and a woman should choose each other for life, said Dr. George Truett, “for the simple reason that a long life is barely enough time for them to understand each other – and to understand is to love.”

Understanding is the key to true love and intimacy.

Although it is a process, you can deepen and develop your relationship along the way. Sometimes, along the path, it’s good to stop and evaluate how you’re doing as a couple.

Good maintenance prevents major breakdowns.  Here are a few reflection questions to help you maintain a healthy marriage:

How can I best serve my partner?
Am I a good listener?
Do I really hear what my partner is saying, or am I busy thinking about how I am going to respond?
Can we disagree agreeably? If not, what it is that causes us to argue?
Do I know what really pleases my partner? Have I pursuing this?
Do I know what things really annoys my partner? Have I been doing them?
What are my dreams and hopes for our marriage?  What are yours?
How do we express our spirituality as a couple? Are we satisfied with the present level of spiritual commitment?
What are we not doing that we ought to be doing?
What would it take to start doing it?
Have I been completely honest with my partner? About the past? About how I am feeling? About my activities?
Are there any roadblocks to emotional intimacy in our marriage? Do we know what they are? Do we know how to get rid of them?
Have I been making selfish demands?  
How have I caused my partner unnecessary pain?
Am I willing to change?
Do we agree on money issues? What can we learn from each other in this area?
Is there something wrong that needs to be confronted?
Is there something good that needs to be celebrated?
Do I need to take more responsibility for creating a healthy and happy home?
Am I willing to forgive?
Am I willing to deal with issues, rather than attacking or sulking in silence?
What three things can I do which would bring great joy to my partner?

Friday, April 08, 2016

A Solution for His Wife's Temper

 
A man went to the doctor, worried about his wife’s temper.

  The doctor asked, “What’s the problem?”

  The man said, “Doctor, I don’t know what to do. Every day my wife seems to lose her temper for no reason. It scares me.”

  The doctor said, “I have a cure for that. When it seems that your wife is getting angry, just take a glass of water and start swishing it in your mouth. Just swish and swish but don’t swallow it until she either leaves the room or calms down.”

  Two weeks later, the man came back to the doctor looking fresh and reborn.

  The man said, “Doctor, that was a brilliant idea! Every time my wife started losing it, I swished with water. I swished and swished, and she calmed right down! How does a glass of water do that?”

  The doctor said, “The water itself does nothing. It’s keeping your mouth shut that does the trick.”

  (Thanks to my brother, Steve, who shared this funny joke with me.)

Blessings in Overwhelming Trials

  Are you encompassed with needs at this very moment, and almost overwhelmed with difficulties, trials, and emergencies?

  These are all divinely provided vessels for the Holy Spirit to fill, and if you but rightly understood their meaning, they would become opportunities for receiving new blessings and deliverances which you can get in no other way.  -- Albert B. Simpson

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Secrets for Personal Growth

Personal growth is the secret to organizational growth. Self leadership is a valuable and necessary art. If you can't lead yourself, you won't be able to lead anybody else.

If you want things to improve in your business, your family, your church or community, the first thing to start improving is yourself!

How can we begin the personal growth journey?

1. Learn something every day.
Every experience of life is a learning lab. How sad it is for people to have difficult experiences and fail to learn from them. You can learn from anybody and anything. Keep your thinking cap on at all times. Wisdom is the process of gleaning insight from our daily experiences.

2. Be a reader.
Reading is one of the best methods I know for personal growth. If you want to deepen your understanding, read widely and deeply. Don't just read "fluff" - -but find books that challenge you to become a better person.

3. Share new insights with others.
As you share what you've been learning, you grasp it better. The best way to learn something is to teach it.

4. Plan for personal growth.
If you don't do it intentionally, it won't happen. List the improvements you want to make, the books you want to read, the experiences you want to have, and the people you want to meet. Start planning! What are the first steps to accomplish these wishes?

5. Rise above the crowd.
If you commit yourself to personal growth, you will have to step out of the crowd. Most folks are content with going through the motions of life -- work, eat, watch t.v., and go to bed. You can't let yourself get sucked into that negative cycle. Others may not understand, but you can't let small people hold you back.

6. Surrender to self-discipline.
Growth is never easy. Someone once said, "You can tell you are on the path to success -- it's uphill all the way!" If you wait until you feel like it, you will never start moving forward. The time is now -- whether you feel like it or not! You have to get up and get going to make a difference.

7. Keep the vision alive.
Don't stop growing, regardless of how old you are or what you've accomplished. I once asked a famous author what books he's been reading. He replied, "I don't read books anymore -- I just write them!" He may have been a famous author, but the poor gentleman was on his way downhill.  Eventually, he didn't have anything good to write. You have to keep growing always!

The architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, at age 83 was asked to select his greatest masterpiece. His reply, "My next one!" That's called keeping the vision alive!

George Fisher said, "I don't know if you will like this or not, but he who stops being better, stops being good."

Monday, April 04, 2016

Life on Wings

"Now, who is going to trust God for the winged life? You can crawl instead if you wish. God will even bless you if you crawl; He will do the best He can for you, but oh how much better to avail ourselves of our wonderful privileges in Christ and to “mount up with wings as eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint.”

 O beloved friends, there is a life on wings. I feel the streams of His life fill me and permeate my mortal frame from my head to my feet, until no words are adequate to describe it.

 -- Carrie Judd Montgomery

Breath of Life: Stand Up

Breath of Life: Stand Up:  a great blog post by Luke Wilson

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Revival is the Life of Jesus Poured into Human Hearts


Revival is just the life of the Lord Jesus poured into human hearts.  

 Jesus is always victorious.  In heaven they are praising him all the time for His victory.  Whatever may be our experience of failure and barrenness, He is never defeated.  His power is boundless.  And we, on our part, have only to get into a right relationship with Him, and we shall see His power being demonstrated in our hearts, lives and service and His victorious life will fill us and overflow through us to others.  And that is revival its essence.

 --  Roy Hession in "Brokenness - "The Beginning of Revival" (Herald of His Coming, April 2016)
 (Photo by Hannah Wilson)