Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Just can't wait

To see

What the Lord has

For me



How about you?


Monday, March 30, 2009

Breaking the Chains

One of the things that separates Christianity from other religions is our understanding that the practice of good works and religious disciplines cannot buy our way into Heaven. Only the acceptance of God's free gift of redemption for us through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross can get us that ticket to Paradise. This is not to say that we are not supposed to follow the commandments. One of the ways we know we have truly accepted and believed in Jesus is that his transforming power in our lives creates a desire in us to obey God's directives to study his word, love others, etc. Our human natures, though, are rarely satisfied with this approach to holiness and would much rather practice religion on our own terms than live a life of Christ-centered faith and daily obedience. If the former wins out over the latter, then the "faith" we follow is more about self-improvement than anything else.

For example, studying the Bible is wonderful, but if the motive in doing so is to somehow seem wiser than others then the goal is wrong. Helping out at a soup kitchen is admirable, but is our motivation to show others the love of Christ or stemming from the erroneous belief that in doing so we can earn points with God? Fasting can be a useful means of personally experiencing sacrifice for a day in order to draw us closer to God, or it can be a useless exercise in self-martyrdom designed to make us feel holier while keeping us from true sacrifice for others.

God wants to use us to help break the chains that are binding others. We can hardly do that if we have shackled ourselves to a self-centered religion.

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?

Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes.
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

--Isaiah 58:5-7 (NIV)


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Never Alone

Selecting Christian videos every weekend for Soul Strokes is not always an easy task. Too many of the modern ones seem hard to follow, are poor in quality, or have virtually no depth to them. Picking a style of music is also difficult, as everyone has a different preference as to what they like to hear or view. The primary factor I use in choosing one, therefore, is whether the lyrics convey a message I think needs to be shared. Such is the case with this Sunday's video by Barlowgirl. Enjoy.

--Barlowgirl - Never Alone


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Setting Your Priorities

The following song has received a tremendous amount of airplay. True, the tune is catchy, but the words are the best reason to play it. Listen carefully to what TobyMac is saying about what is truly important in this world.

--TobyMac - Lose My Soul


Friday, March 27, 2009

Content In All Circumstances


A great teacher once told a story in his preaching about a man who for eight years besought God to show him a man who would make known to him the way of truth. While he was in this state of anxiety there came a voice from God and spake to him: Go in front of the church, and there shalt thou find a man who will make known to thee the way of truth. He went, and found a poor man whose feet were chapped and full of dirt, and all his clothes were hardly worth twopence-halfpenny.

He greeted this poor man and said to him, God give thee a good morning. The poor man answered, I never had a bad morning. The other said, God give thee happiness. How answerest thou that? The poor man answered, I was never unhappy. The first then said, God send thee blessedness. How answerest thou that? I was never unblessed, was the answer. Lastly the questioner said, God give thee health! Now enlighten me, for I cannot understand it.

And the poor man replied, When thou saidst to me, may God give thee a good morning, I said I never had a bad morning. If I am hungry, I praise God for it; if I am cold, I praise God for it; if I am distressful and despised, I praise God for it; and that is why I never had a bad morning.

When thou askedst God to give me happiness, I answered that I had never been unhappy; for what God gives or ordains for me, whether it be His love or suffering, sour or sweet, I take it all from God as being the best, and that is why I was never unhappy.

Thou saidst further, May God make thee blessed, and I said, I was never unblessed, for I have given up my will so entirely to God's will, that what God wills, that I also will, and that is why I was never unblessed, because I willed alone God's will.

Ah! dear fellow, replied the man; but if God should will to throw thee into hell, what wouldst thou say then? He replied, Throw me into hell! Then I would resist Him. But even if He threw me into hell, I should still have two arms wherewith to embrace Him. One arm is true humility, which I should place under Him, and with the arm of love I should embrace Him.

And he concluded, I would rather be in hell and possess God, than in the kingdom of heaven without Him.

--by Johannes Eckhart (c. 1260-1327) from the book Light, Life, and Love by William Inge


Thursday, March 26, 2009



Neither a feather falls
Nor a songbird calls
Without His knowing

Neither a dewdrop gleams
Nor a moonshaft beams
That He doesn't see

Neither the lost child's cries
Nor the new widow's sighs
Escape His concern

For He knows all
And He sees all
And cares for all




Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tea Time

I think I passed myself today. I was speeding along in my car (only as fast as legally possible, of course) and hoping I made all of the lights, when the other me zoomed by going somewhere else. Okay, okay, so maybe that actually didn't happen, but I was rushing around so much today that it seemed at times I was meeting myself coming and going.

Does this ever happen to you? Does life ever get so hectic that you find yourself cutting corners and missing meals just to keep up with the pace you've set for yourself? True, sometimes the busyness of our days cannot be avoided, but what would be the advantages of intentionally building into our schedules a few minutes every day just to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee with a friend or family member? We might be surprised to find out how valuable those times can be, for them and for us.

It really is all about setting priorities. Is the sale at the mall or the extra money you might make if you stay an hour later at work more important than your relationships with the people closest to you? Is the extra trophy or fatter bank account the only kind of legacy you want to leave behind you?

God has given us a set number of years to make an impact in this world. Yet all the awards and promotions we earn in our careers die with us, and we sure can't take the silver BMW we worked so hard for with us to Heaven. No, the only things that truly matter when the curtain falls on our earthly personas are the ways we have been obedient to God's call on our lives and how we have blessed others in our interactions with them. Our caring relationships with those around us could even prove to be the catalyst that someday draws them closer to God.

So why not take time out for a quiet break with someone you love or maybe just like a bit? The relationship you are building may not get you a raise or your name in the papers, but the benefits could very well be eternal.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Tale of Two Pots

I knew a lady who had entered into this life of faith with a great outpouring of the Spirit, and a wonderful flood of light and joy. She supposed, of course, this was a preparation for some great service, and expected to be put forth immediately into the Lord's harvest field. Instead of this, almost at once her husband lost all his money, and she was shut up in her own house, to attend to all sorts of domestic duties, with no time or strength left for any Gospel work at all. She accepted the discipline, and yielded herself up as heartily to sweep, and dust, and bake, and sew, as she would have done to preach, or pray or write for the Lord. And the result was that through this very training He made her into a vessel "meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work."

Another lady, who had entered this life of faith under similar circumstances of wondrous blessing, and who also expected to be sent out to do some great work, was shut up with two peevish invalid nieces, to nurse, and humor, and amuse them all day long. Unlike the first lady, this one did not accept the training, but chafed and fretted, and finally rebelled, lost all her blessing, and went back into a state of sad coldness and misery. She had understood her part of trusting to begin with, but not understanding the divine process of accomplishing that for which she had trusted, she took herself out of the hands of the Heavenly Potter, and the vessel was marred on the wheel.

I believe many a vessel has been similarly marred by a want of understanding these things. The maturity of Christian experience cannot be reached in a moment, but is the result of the work of God's Holy Spirit, who, by His energizing and transforming power, causes us to grow up into Christ in all things. And we cannot hope to reach this maturity in any other way than by yielding ourselves up utterly and willingly to His mighty working. But the sanctification the Scriptures urge as a present experience upon all believers does not consist in maturity of growth, but in purity of heart, and this may be as complete in the babe in Christ as in the veteran believer.

--from The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith


Monday, March 23, 2009

Nuts and Bolts

Nuts and Bolts

Lord, teach me to trust your ways
Not just in the large
But in the small
To trust you with all
The nuts and bolts of my days


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Praise in the Darkness

Burdened by your circumstances? Praise God. If that sounds counter-intuitive, you might be pleasantly surprised at how effective it is. Yes, life is tough at times, but remember that God has carried you through all the dark days of the past. He didn't abandon you then and He won't do it now. We need to learn to praise God not only when we see his hand but also when we don't.

--Gary Anglin - Give Him All The Praise


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Living in the Moment

Do you live in the past, the present, or the future? Sounds like an odd question, doesn't it? Yet there are many people who miss out on the simple joys of the moment because they are either mentally reliving past glories and woes or are instead focusing on what lies just around the corner. While it is true that we need to learn from our past and prepare for our future, we were never designed to live there. We are people of the present, and to truly gain from the lessons of the now we need to live in it fully. The words of this Saturday's video remind of the importance of engaging and enjoying the gifts God is giving us today.

--Warren Barfield - Soak It Up


Friday, March 20, 2009

A Light in the Darkness

You pick up the paper and read the daily blues. Wars, crimes, and heartaches bleed from every page. Turning on the television for some relief, you find your morality mocked and challenged with every new program offered. You don't even bother with the Internet. After all, filtering out all the spam from your inbox is just one more thing to discourage you today.

In times like these we sometimes get tired of fighting. If God has abandoned the world and left it to spiral into decay and destruction, what is the point in even being a Christian? Maybe its best to snuff out our candle of faith, conform to the darkness around us, and slowly die with everyone else.

Can you sense the lie? The enemy of our souls would love for us to believe that all hope is lost, and that God has left town. If through his propaganda he can cause us to give in to despair, then he knows he has taken one more soldier out of the battle for mankind, a soldier who could seriously damage his plans if left alone.

The truth is that there is a war going on and you and I as believers are on the front lines. Due to our position, almost all we ever see are the weapons of the enemy firing and the resulting casualties. What we are often blind to, though, is how our actions on Christ's behalf are chopping through the other side's defenses. As we stand fast on the tenets of our faith and hold high the Lord's banner, the resulting spiritual light pushes back the darkness, giving others the opportunity to see the truth of the Gospel and be saved from Satan's camp. Is it any wonder, then, that the enemy will resort to any means, even discouragement and trickery, in order to subdue us? Face it; we're dangerous.

Is the war raging around you? Stand strong. The light of Christ's love you shine may be just the beacon some prisoner needs to find his way to freedom.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thirsting After God

The designs of God, the good pleasure of God, the will of God, the operation of God and the gift of His grace are all one and the same thing in the spiritual life. It is God working in the soul to make it like unto Himself. Perfection is neither more nor less than the faithful co-operation of the soul with this work of God, and is begun, grows, and is consummated in the soul unperceived and in secret.

The science of theology is full of theories and explanations of the wonders of this state in each soul according to its capacity. One may be conversant with all these speculations, speak and write about them admirably, instruct others and guide souls; yet, if these theories are only in the mind, one is, compared with those who, without any knowledge of these theories, receive the meaning of the designs of God and do His holy will, like a sick physician compared to simple people in perfect health.

The designs of God and his divine will accepted by a faithful soul with simplicity produces this divine state in it without its knowledge, just as a medicine taken obediently will produce health, although the sick person neither knows nor wishes to know anything about medicine.

As fire gives out heat, and not philosophical discussions about it, nor knowledge of its effects, so the designs of God and His holy will work in the soul for its sanctification, and not speculations of curiosity as to this principle and this state.

When one is thirsty one quenches one’s thirst by drinking, not by reading books which treat of this condition. The desire to know does but increase this thirst. Therefore when one thirsts after sanctity, the desire to know about it only drives it further away. Speculation must be laid aside, and everything arranged by God as regards actions and sufferings must be accepted with simplicity, for those things that happen at each moment by the divine command or permission are always the most holy, the best and the most divine for us.

--from Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Dance

Sometimes in my spiritual life I feel that I take one step forward only to take two steps back. I really start to enjoy my time reading the Bible more than I ever have before; then suddenly my life becomes so busy and chaotic that I find myself struggling to read a few verses a day, if that. For a season my prayer times are deep and fulfilling; a month or so later my prayers seem to be ricocheting off the walls and ceiling of my room. Worse still, I find myself forgetting to pray at all.

Sound familiar? Most Christians seem to have similar experiences to mine. One day we're on the mountain top. The next day we're hacking our way through a dense, jungle valley. Engaging in the spiritual disciplines of regular prayer, scripture reading, etc. can help keep us on an even keel. Yet if the lives of all the saints who have gone before us are any indication, nothing can completely stop the cycle of ups and downs. Life, basically, is like a complicated dance, filled with the highest leaps and pirouettes that are balanced by times when the dancer collapses flat-out on the floor.

Perhaps the wisest course, then, is to work at maintaining our spiritual disciplines in order to shed light on our paths but to also try and not despair when we stumble for a time through the darkness. Our lives in Christ, just like our normal lives, may come with frustrations, but there are joys, too, just around the corner if we'll only look for them.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance

--Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (NIV)


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

God of Light

Thine be the glory, God of Light,
For all the joy from morn that springs;
Oh, may a morn dispel each night,
And bless our lives with beauteous things.

Give us this day the light that dwells
In every heart Thy presence fills;
That night with all its fears dispels,
And life, and hope, and joy instills.

Then shall our nights no darkness bring,
But morn, bright morn, for ever shine;
And when night spreads her dusky wings,
More bright shall be the light Divine.

All praise to Thee, the God of Light;
All praise to Christ, the glorious Son;
And to the Spirit, Lord of might,
Now, and while endless ages run.

--from Hymns of the Early Church by John Brownlie


Monday, March 16, 2009

Walking Companion

No matter what storms
May rage outside
Despite all our worries
That churn inside
We're always safe when
We walk beside
Our Eternal Father


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Someone to Know

In my various roles as a teacher, missionary, and pastor, I have met countless people worldwide over the years. Some have become friends for life. Others I have been close to for a season and then have lost contact with. Still others have barely touched my life at all. Yet there has been one person that has stuck by me through thick and thin, a friend who is closer even than my family members. This Sunday's video is all about him. Enjoy.

--Dawkins & Dawkins - Need To Know

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Diving Lesson

For the first of this weekend's Christian videos I've selected one of my all-time favorites. Just imagine what your life would be like if you completely took the plunge and minute by minute, moment-by moment, 365 days out of the year decided to trust and live 100% for God. What a wild ride that would be. So go on...Dive in!

--Steven Curtis Chapman - Dive

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bringing Good News

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

--Romans 10:14-15 (NIV)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Power of Prayer

Why are many Christians so often defeated?

Because they pray so little.

Why are many church-workers so often discouraged and disheartened?

Because they pray so little.

Why do most men see so few brought "out of darkness to light" by their ministry?

Because they pray so little.

Why are not our churches simply on fire for God?

Because there is so little real prayer...

We are never so high as when we are on our knees.

--from The Kneeling Christian - Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Walking With God

Genesis v.24

Oh! for a closer walk with God,

A calm and heavenly frame;

A light to shine upon the road

That leads me to the Lamb!

Where is the blessedness I knew

When first I saw the Lord?

Where is the soul-refreshing view

Of Jesus and his word?

What peaceful hours I once enjoy’d!

How sweet their memory still!

But they have left an aching void,

The world can never fill.

Return, O holy Dove, return!

Sweet messenger of rest:

I hate the sins that made thee mourn,

And drove thee from my breast.

The dearest idol I have known,

Whate’er that idol be,

Help me to tear it from thy throne,

And worship only thee.

So shall my walk be close with God,

Calm and serene my frame:

So purer light shall mark the road

That leads me to the Lamb.

--from The Complete Poetical Works by William Cowper


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What is a Christian Anyway?

Most of the regular readers of Soul Strokes are probably Christians. At one time in their life they have come to the recognition of their need for a savior, of their need for Jesus. Yet some who have stumbled onto this site by chance may have no clear idea what a Christian is at all.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what it means to be "saved" or "born again." Those terms, while legitimate descriptions of the true believer, have often become labels for a stereotype, a warped picture that some people have of followers of Christ that makes them appear as uptight, Bible-thumping fanatics who are constantly finding fault with others. The real picture of a Christian, though, is an imperfect person who has come to the understanding that he has way too many faults to ever be accepted by a perfect God. But along with that realization of "sin" has come another understanding: This same awesome and perfect God has provided a way we can come to Him and live eternally through the sacrifice of his Son for us. All we have to do is accept God's free gift of life.

If those last two statements sound confusing, perhaps the illustration below will help some. And if that brings up some other questions or maybe even the desire to find out how you, too, can, be a part of this Christian way of life, feel free to write to me directly at soul.strokes@yahoo.com.


A Mother Dies that her Boy may Live

When the California gold fever broke out, a man went there, leaving his wife in New England with his boy. As soon as he got on and was successful he was to send for them. It was a long time before he succeeded, but at last he got money enough to send for them. The wife's heart leaped for joy. She took her boy to New York, got on board a Pacific steamer, and sailed away to San Francisco.

They had not been long at sea before the cry of "Fire! fire!" rang through the ship, and rapidly it gained on them. There was a powder magazine on board, and the captain knew the moment the fire reached the powder, every man, woman, and child must perish. They got out the life-boats, but they were too small! In a minute they were overcrowded. The last one was just pushing away, when the mother pled with them to take her and her boy. "No," they said, "we have got as many as we can hold." She entreated them so earnestly, that at last they said they would take one more.

Do you think she leaped into that boat and left her boy to die? No! She seized her boy, gave him one last hug, kissed him, and dropped him over into the boat. "My boy," she said, "if you live to see your father, tell him that I died in your place."

That is a faint type of what Christ has done for us. He laid down his life for us. He died that we might live. Now will you not love Him?
What would you say of that young man if he should speak contemptuously of such a mother! She went down to a watery grave to save her son. Well, shall we speak contemptuously of such a Saviour? May God make us loyal to Christ!

My friends, you will need Him one day. You will need Him when you come to cross the swellings of Jordan. You will need Him when you stand at the bar of God. May God forbid that when death draws nigh it should find you making light of the
precious blood of Christ!

from Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations by Dwight L. Moody


Monday, March 9, 2009

The Flashlight

As life gets more hectic,
The way forward seems darker,
And your road gets rougher...

Take time...

To slow down...

And pull out your "flashlight."

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,
and a light unto my path.

--Psalm 119: 105 (KJV)


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Embracing Destiny

Yesterday's video celebrated the fact that we belong to a God who makes everything glorious, a God who loves us intimately. Yet God did not make us to be lump objects, pretty ornaments to be placed on some heavenly shelf. We were created for a reason, each one of us with a unique role to play in his master plan for the world.

What is most amazing of all, though, is that He gives us a choice whether to fulfill our purpose or not. Every moment we stand at the crossroads, deciding whether we want to follow his narrow path or veer off toward a possibly attractive but ultimately meaningless existence. Obedience to our destiny is a choice. Are we willing to embrace it?

--Jeremy Camp - I Am Willing


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Everything Glorious

Ever stop and think why the all-powerful God of the universe, the one who spun the worlds into orbit and designed even the smallest of organisms in all their complexities, is still wanting to have a close, personal relationship with you? Could it be that he sees you as something more than just another created being among the infinite number He has made? Could it be that your hand-crafted, individual personality and soul are special to Him?

Don't get a swelled head, though. We are special and loved only because He designed us that way in the first place. It's not about the creature but the Creator. He makes everything glorious, and we are blessed to belong to Him.

--David Crowder Band - Everything Glorious


Friday, March 6, 2009

A Life of Practice

What was Christ doing in the carpenter's shop? Practising. Though perfect, we read that He learned obedience, and grew in wisdom and in favor with God. Do not quarrel, therefore, with your lot in life. Do not complain of its never-ceasing cares, its petty environment, the vexations you have to stand, the small and sordid souls you have to live and work with. Above all, do not resent temptation; do not be perplexed because it seems to thicken round you more and more, and ceases neither for effort nor for agony nor prayer. That is your practice. That is the practice which God appoints you; and it is having its work in making you patient, and humble, and generous, and unselfish, and kind, and courteous. Do not grudge the hand that is moulding the still too shapeless image within you. It is growing more beautiful, though you see it not; and every touch of temptation may add to its perfection. Therefore keep in the midst of life. Do not isolate yourself. Be among men and among things, and among troubles, and difficulties, and obstacles. You remember Goethe's words: "Talent develops itself in solitude; character in the stream of life." Talent develops itself in solitude--the talent of prayer, of faith, of meditation, of seeing the unseen; character grows in the stream of the world's life. That chiefly is where men are to learn love.

--from The Greatest Thing in the World by Henry Drummond


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fretting and Fuming

We sometimes make mountains out of molehills when it comes to our faith. We jump out of our seats to defend an interpretation of a minor point in scripture that, in the overall truth of Christianity, is probably not worth fighting about. We fret and fuss and fume at our brothers and sisters in Christ, often causing hard feelings that may never go away, over trivialities. Is championing our personal opinion really worth the cost to our relationships with other believers?

Don't get me wrong. The Bible is crystal clear about the major issues such as sin, redemption, etc. To uphold these truths and not waver from them is vital to our faith. But we need to realize that some of the minor issues, while having a clear purpose for being included in scripture, may not always have their true meaning revealed to us at present by the Holy Spirit. We see through a glass darkly for now and trust that all will be clear to us as He wills and in His timing, even if we have to wait until Heaven to have our questions answered.

Our purpose in life is to live in a way that brings honor and glory to God our Father through the life-changing power of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no room in such a high calling to be majoring on the minors.

Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good, than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our Churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them. Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle's precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings.

There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my conversation adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should do who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus? Such enquiries as these urgently demand our attention; and if we have been at all given to cavilling, let us now turn our critical abilities to a service so much more profitable. Let us be peace-makers, and endeavour to lead others both by our precept and example, to "avoid foolish questions."

--from Morning and Evening by Charles Haddon Spurgeon


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Walk Talk

Would you see your Christian walk as one of strong, confident strides or aimless meandering? Do your prayers and meditations plunge to great depths, or are you stuck splashing around in the shallows?

Many of us struggle with living the rich life of faith we were designed for. We desire to walk closely with Him but spend too much of our Christian life just stumbling along solo. Our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling, and that inner connection with God we are supposed to feel often resembles an echoing, static-filled phone call at best.

We could approach the issue from several different angles, and countless sermons and manuscripts for centuries have attempted to solve for us the problem of distance we face. However, for today let's look at an interesting perspective on our walk woes from A.W. Tozer.

Why do some persons "find" God in a way that others do not? Why does God manifest His Presence to some and let multitudes of others struggle along in the half-light of imperfect Christian experience? Of course the will of God is the same for all. He has no favorites within His household. All He has ever done for any of His children He will do for all of His children. The difference lies not with God but with us.

Pick at random a score of great saints whose lives and testimonies are
widely known. Let them be Bible characters or well known Christians of post-Biblical times. You will be struck instantly with the fact that the saints were not alike. Sometimes the unlikenesses were so great as to be positively glaring. How different for example was Moses from Isaiah; how different was Elijah from David; how unlike each other were John and Paul, St. Francis and Luther, Finney and Thomas à Kempis. The differences are as wide as human life itself: differences of race, nationality, education, temperament, habit and personal qualities. Yet they all walked, each in his day, upon a high road of spiritual living far above the common way.

Their differences must have been incidental and in the eyes of God of no
significance. In some vital quality they must have been alike. What was it?

I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity. Something in them was open to heaven, something which urged them Godward. Without attempting anything like a profound analysis I shall say simply that they had spiritual awareness and that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives. They differed from the average person in that when they felt the inward longing they did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response. They were not disobedient to the heavenly vision. As David put it neatly, "When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek"...

What God in His sovereignty may yet do on a world-scale I do not claim to know: but what He will do for the plain man or woman who seeks His face I believe I do know and can tell others. Let any man turn to God in earnest, let him begin to exercise himself unto godliness, let him seek to develop his powers of spiritual receptivity by trust and obedience and humility, and the results will exceed anything he may have hoped in his leaner and weaker days.

--from The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Perfect Candidate

You're kidding, right?

God can use someone as
Young, old, uneducated,
Fat, thin, goofy,
Unattractive, tone-deaf,
Shy, socially awkward...
(You fill in your own description)
Like me
To reach the world for Him?


Yep... Really.


Monday, March 2, 2009

God's Artistry

There is no denying it; God's world is awe-inspiring. From tumbling waterfalls to towering mountains to soft breezes rippling through miles of ripening grain, the wonders of God's creation can leave one breathless.

At times one view of his handiwork is not enough for us. We long to capture the moonbeams for posterity, grab on to the setting sun for our scrapbook, store the cool raindrops for some hot, summer day of the future. But those daily miracles are for the moment. Not to worry; there will be more to provide a gentle reminder of his majesty in days to come.

What we can preserve, though, are the memories of those moments in time when God revealed himself to us through nature. Why? Because frankly there are times when the world's griefs become so overwhelming that we begin to doubt that God cares or even exists. Scripture and the counsel of others can help tremendously, but sometimes the best medicine for me, at least, is to look up at God's newest cloud paintings in the sky or recall to mind the sound of the waves crashing on the beach at night in Africa and realize that the trials in my life are but a blip in eternity. The God who created all these wonders is in complete control of my situation like He is in nature. Just as he has cared enough in the past to send a cool breeze my way when I really needed one, so, too, will He get me through this current crisis. All I need to do is trust in his timing.

Our God is not some clockmaker who wound up the world and let it go. No, God is an intimate, personal father and friend who loves us, cares for us, and shows us daily reminders of his power and provision through his creation.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Finally home

We all have ideas of what coming home to God will actually be like. Books, movies, songs, and poems have all offered up thoughts on what will happen on that moment when we see Jesus face to face. What we do know is that it will be more wonderful than anything we can imagine.

--MercyMe - Finally Home

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