Friday, July 31, 2009

In Christ's Name

Photo credit: matt_so
The words which all of us shall one Day hear sound not of theology but of life, not of churches and saints, but of the hungry and the poor, not of creeds and doctrines, but of shelter and clothing, not of Bibles and prayer-books, but of cups of cold water in the name of Christ.

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

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Two Choices

Photo credit: James Neeley


You have two choices:

Reach outward
Toward the Light
Of Christ Jesus,
Living a life
Of hope and faith,

Or

Stay ground-bound,
Lurking in the mud
Of self and the world,
Living a lie
Told by the father of them.

Your choice determines
Your destiny.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Seeing the Unseen




Lord, let our eyes the things unseen behold,
And, ’mid the glory that like sunset dies,
Fair to the sight the wondrous bliss unfold
That lives in beauty under cloudless skies.

And let our ears the things unuttered hear,
That silent voices to the soul can tell;
That heart can whisper when a heart is near
Of love that scorns in uttered tones to dwell.

Teach us to know that things unseen are real,
That earth no bloom of fadeless beauty gives,
That far beyond the things that sense can feel,
The joy of being, and of having, lives.

Lord Who hast risen, nor left the world behind,
Daily incline our sense-bound souls to soar,
Till ’mong the things all hidden we may find
Possessions that abide for evermore.

--from Hymns from the Morningland by John Brownlie, tr.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Lamps of Heaven

Photo credit: TailspinT
"I will strengthen thee."
Isaiah 41:10

The same God who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and trims the lamps of heaven, has promised to supply thee with daily strength. While he is able to uphold the universe, dream not that he will prove unable to fulfill his own promises.

Remember what he did in the days of old, in the former generations. Remember how he spake and it was done; how he commanded, and it stood fast. Shall he that created the world grow weary? He hangeth the world upon nothing; shall he who doth this be unable to support his children? Shall he be unfaithful to his word for want of power?

Who is it that restrains the tempest? Doth not he ride upon the wings of the wind, and make the clouds his chariots, and hold the ocean in the hollow of his hand? How can he fail thee? When he has put such a faithful promise as this on record, wilt thou for a moment indulge the thought that he has outpromised himself, and gone beyond his power to fulfill? Ah, no! Thou canst doubt no longer.

O thou who art my God and my strength, I can believe that this promise shall be fulfilled, for the boundless reservoir of thy grace can never be exhausted, and the overflowing storehouse of thy strength can never be emptied by thy friends or rifled by thine enemies.

"Now let the feeble all be strong,
And make Jehovah's arm their song."

--from Morning and Evening by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Watcher or Participant?


None of us know
How many more days
We have to serve God
On this earth.

Would you rather
Be caught flat-footed,
A watcher from the sidelines,
Or the one taking faith's leaps
And living the Christian life
To its fullest?

My advice?

Bounce, Baby, Bounce!

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Beauty of Grace

We often wallow in our shame and guilt in our private moments over past sins and ways we have fallen short in our walk with God. Worse still is when we lock up our sordid memories into mind-closets that we never open even to ourselves for fear of exposure. This creates a delusion that they are gone, but instead they fester inside us like a cancer, waiting for the right time to consume us.

The irony is that God knows already how we've blown it and has the perfect one-two combination to relieve us of our woes: forgiveness and grace. The former is given as we confess and repent of our sins, but, the latter is even more astounding. Grace: undeserved favor. It is something we rarely give but is something we have received from God in unbelievable measure.

This Sunday's video extols the beauty of this precious gift from God.



--Krystal Meyers - The Beauty of Grace

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Constant Need

Most Christians can remember when they took that initial step of faith in Christ. But after you put your trust in your Lord and Savior, what then? Was life suddenly all rosy and wonderful? Did all the problems disappear in life? Were you suddenly picture perfect?

Don't hurt yourself as you roll on the floor with laughter.

No, very few of us were suddenly superheroes of the faith when we first accepted Jesus, and most of us wouldn't dream of claiming such a title even after years or even decades after becoming believers. The truth is we need Christ just as desperately now as we did then, not for initial salvation, naturally, but for the gradual honing and polishing into the his image that is the true Christian life.

Today's video by Josh Wilson speaks to that moment-by-moment need for our Savior.



--Josh Wilson - Savior, Please

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Fit For The Rest

Photo credit: Wigwam Jones
I Am Not All Right

I had to notice during the war, when enlisting was going on, sometimes a man would come up with a nice silk hat on, patent-leather boots, nice kid gloves, and a fine suit of clothes, which, probably, cost him $100; perhaps the next man who came along would be a hod-carrier, dressed in the poorest kind of clothes. Both had to strip alike and put on the regimental uniform. So when you come and say you ain't fit, haven't got good clothes, haven't got righteousness enough, remember that He will furnish you with the uniform of Heaven, and you will be set down at the marriage feast of the Lamb. I don't care how black and vile your heart may be, only accept the invitation of Jesus Christ and He will make you fit to sit down with the rest at that feast.

--from Anecdotes and Illustrations by Dwight L. Moody

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Always There

Photo credit: Army.mil

Constant Companion

Sometimes we forget
In the midst of the noise
And the pain
And the rain
Of our fear,
That no matter how far
We think we are
From peace and comfort
Our Savior is near.

Cries of terror may still come,
And the shells may still fall,
Yet through it all
We can still hear His voice
If we listen.

Will the danger lessen
Because of His presence?
Will the bullets fall short
Because He is there?
Who can tell?
For what man among us
Can number his days,
Can know all God's ways
And plans for him?

But this we can know:
He will walk with us
Through each valley
Of the shadow of death;
He will hold us close
As He has always done
From first cry to final breath.
All He asks is for our love,
Acceptance, and trust.

So that someday,
On that one day
That only the Father knows,
Whether in war-torn lands
Or in loved-ones' hands
We fall...
We will rise
In the sweet knowledge
That He is still there for us
Our Constant Companion
Forever.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Theater of God

Photo credit: Image Editor

"This visible World
is wonderfully to be delighted in,
and highly to be esteemed,
because it is the theater
of God's righteous Kingdom."

--from Centuries of Meditations by Thomas Traherne

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Believer's Cross


You have not the making of your own cross, although unbelief is master carpenter at cross-making; neither are you permitted to choose your own cross, although self-will would fain be lord and master; but your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love, and you are cheerfully to accept it; you are to take up the cross as your chosen badge and burden, and not to stand cavilling at it.

This night Jesus bids you submit your shoulder to his easy yoke. Do not kick at it in petulance, or trample on it in vain-glory, or fall under it in despair, or run away from it in fear, but take it up like a true follower of Jesus.

Jesus was a cross-bearer; he leads the way in the path of sorrow. Surely you could not desire a better guide! And if he carried a cross, what nobler burden would you desire? The Via Crucis is the way of safety; fear not to tread its thorny paths.

Beloved, the cross is not made of feathers, or lined with velvet, it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders; but it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colours, it is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows tried the load.

Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit of God you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt. Remember that Jesus carried it, and it will smell sweetly; remember that it will soon be followed by the crown, and the thought of the coming weight of glory will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble. The Lord help you to bow your spirit in submission to the divine will ere you fall asleep this night, that waking with to-morrow's sun, you may go forth to the day's cross with the holy and submissive spirit which becomes a follower of the Crucified.


--from Morning and Evening by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Windows to the Soul


Eyes

They say the eyes
Are the windows
Of the soul.

So...

When people look
In your soul-revealing eyes
What do they see?

Hmm?

Something selfish?
Something twisted?
Something scared?

Or...

Could they hopefully see
Something new, clean,
And being transformed

By God?

What do you hope they see?

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Remembering to Praise

All of us need a reminder now and then of just what we have received in Christ. Today's video gives our memories a much needed nudge.



--Trin-i-tee 5:7 - I Will Lift

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

All That You Can Be

This Saturday's video is not terribly deep, but it is a catchy reminder that God made each one of us with much more potential than we ever develop. The trick is to not let your self or others keep you from being all that God wants you to be.



--Mary Mary - Get Up

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Power in the Praising

Photo credit - .:Axle:.

Men of the world are asking,
Much wondering at me,

When I my Lord am praising,

'What can this folly be?'

I am released from bondage,

And though the mockers throng,
The precious blood of Jesus

Shall always be my song.


A cloud once darkened o'er me,

No praises could I sing;

Sin and its guilty sorrow

Pierced through me with its sting:

But that has been remov├Ęd,

And all its weight of pain--

The precious blood of Jesus

I sing, and sing again.


(from a hymn by David Jones
found in Sweet Singers of Wales
by H. Elvet Lewis, translator)

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Listening Lesson


Blessed is the soul which heareth the Lord speaking within it, and receiveth the word of consolation from His mouth. Blessed are the ears which receive the echoes of the soft whisper of God, and turn not aside to the whisperings of this world. Blessed truly are the ears which listen not to the voice that soundeth without, but to that which teacheth truth inwardly. Blessed are the eyes which are closed to things without, but are fixed upon things within. Blessed are they who search inward things and study to prepare themselves more and more by daily exercises for the receiving of heavenly mysteries. Blessed are they who long to have leisure for God, and free themselves from every hindrance of the world. Think on these things, O my soul, and shut the doors of thy carnal desires, so mayest thou hear what the Lord God will say within thee.

--from The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Waiting on the Lord


Photo credit: Andre Pipa

We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.

--Psalm 33:20

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Joy Giver

Photo credit: The Wandering Angel
Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?" Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD make me dwell in safety.

--Psalm 4:6-8

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Closer Look

Photo credit: Al-Fassam

"Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD."

--Lamentations 3:40 (NIV)

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

The End of the Road

Did you ever stop to think that no matter how tough life has been or how many wrong turns you have made on your journey, God has always been there for you at the end of your road? This country video celebrates the fact that our Father is always there for us, even when we mess up along the way.



--Mid South - You Were At The End Of Every Road

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Living the Faith

Is your Christianity bland and boring? Does your light lack brilliance? If so, what's wrong? Could it be that that your faith needs a jump start? One of the best ways to get back on track is through service. Try asking God how you can best minister to others in your church and community. You may not feel that you are equipped for evangelism, discipleship, or even a helps ministry, but as God is the ultimate provider of the skills you need all you have to do is ask for His direction. How the training happens varies with the individual, but often it takes the form of merely getting involved and learning as you go. The important thing is to be open to His leading. Don't be surprised if you find that your lackluster faith is soon blossoming into a dynamic, live-out-loud lifestyle that will rock your world for Christ.



--Jeremy Camp - Speaking Louder Than Before

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Focal Point


Photo credit: Violator3
Faith is not in itself a meritorious act; the merit is in the One toward Whom it is directed. Faith is a redirecting of our sight, a getting out of the focus of our own vision and getting God into focus. Sin has twisted our vision inward and made it self-regarding. Unbelief has put self where God should be, and is perilously close to the sin of Lucifer who said, "I will set my throne above the throne of God." Faith looks out instead of in and the whole life falls into line.

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

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Soul in Process


Photo uploaded by Thiru Murugan
When a man becomes a Christian the natural process is this: The Living Christ enters into his soul. Development begins. The quickening Life seizes upon the soul, assimilates surrounding elements, and begins to fashion it. According to the great Law of Conformity to Type this fashioning takes a specific form. It is that of the Artist who fashions. And all through Life this wonderful, mystical, glorious, yet perfectly definite, process, goes on "until Christ be formed" in it.

--from Natural Law by Henry Drummond


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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Painter of Infinity


Photo uploaded on Flickr by John Castillo

Infinity of space is like a painter's table, prepared for the ground and field of those colours that are to be laid thereon. Look how great he intends the picture, so great doth he make the table. It would be an absurdity to leave it unfinished, or not to fill it. To leave any part of it naked and bare, and void of beauty, would render the whole ungrateful to the eye, and argue a defect of time or materials...As the table is infinite so are the pictures. God's Wisdom is the art, His Goodness the will, His Word the pencil, His Beauty and Power the colours, His Pictures are all His Works and Creatures. Infinitely more real and more glorious, as well as more great and manifold than the shadows of a landscape. But the Life of all is, they are the spectator's own. He is in them as in his territories, and in all these views his own possessions.

--from Centuries of Meditations by Thomas Traherne

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wonder



Originally uploaded by Deema

Isn't it just like God
to give us daily wonders
to ooh and aah about?

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Dropping the Disguise


Masked

All of us have a face we show the world,
a mask we hide behind to protect ourselves,
but there is One who knows our secret side,
who sees beyond the make-up and pretense.

We are hard-wired to know and be known by Him.
Happiness comes when we no longer try to hide
but instead seek Him out with all our being
in order to bask in His loving presence.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Worth a Listen

For those of us past a certain age, listening to rap or hip hop music requires a great deal of concentration to catch the words. Of course, most of the lyrics of songs written in these styles aren't that edifying, so we may not choose to listen to them anyway. An exception, though, is this song by Group 1 Crew. It's powerful message is worth the extra effort.



--Group 1 Crew - Forgive Me

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Home

You've heard the expression that this world is not our home as Christians, and that is very true as our true home is with Christ in eternity. But what do we do about living in the here and now? Perhaps we can still be "home" if our mindset is changed, if we are living moment by moment in His will for our lives here. After all, where we live is nowhere near as important as how we live.



--Switchfoot - This is Home

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Coffee Question


Just Wondering...

How often do we stop
at Starbucks,
Seattle's Best,
or another local coffee shop
for a delicious cup
of aroma-filled java?

Quite a lot, probably.

But how often do we stop
as we satiate
our tastebuds
with that tantalizing, black brew
and thank the Creator
for those glorious beans?

Probably, not a lot.

And how sad is that?

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Burden Bearers


As Christians we are often admonished to help others in very practical ways with the burdens they bear. Obviously, we are no substitute for God, whose broad shoulders are ultimately those who can take on any worries, stresses, or problems we have in life when we will leave them with Him. Yet, we can make a difference in the lives of our fellow Christians by being willing to be used by God to meet some of their needs.

Some Christian friends proved this point these last few weeks as they ministered to us in a very tangible way. Moving is rarely an easy process, but moving from overseas can be a nightmare. For three weeks in June of this year two of my older children and I closed up our house and ministry in Senegal. We sold or gave away the majority of our belongings, but there were also many personal mementos, clothes, books, photos, and other items we really didn't want to leave behind. We didn't have the funds or quantity of items we were keeping to use a shipping container, so we opted to take what we wanted back in our luggage. The problem with this method, though, are the new fifty pound airline restrictions on bags that mean that many times you are sending back luggage that is only half full. Taking extra bags beyond your allowance is financially prohibitive, as well, so we were caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

The solution? Many of our friends were traveling back to the States either for a brief visit or returning from a vacation. This meant that they would be traveling under their two-piece per person luggage allowance. Obviously, this would have made their traveling easier, but comfort took second place to ministering to us. We ended up having nine people carry extra bags for us and then sending them to us here by UPS or FedEx. What a blessing! Rather than being able to bring back only six pieces of luggage we were able to come back with or send with friends a total of fifteen! Sure, there were things we left behind, but we are so thankful for our brothers and sisters in Christ that enabled us to bring back to the States so much more than we expected.

Psalm 68:19 in the NIV says "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." We are thankful for that and also happy that He uses others to bear our bags when necessary.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pain with a Point?



I knew it the moment I reached down to adjust the TV tray. A vise of pain suddenly started to crush my lower spine. I had once again thrown out my back.

People with frequent back problems can relate to this problem, I know. One minute you're feeling fine, and the next moment it is agony to even move, never mind walk. Since often there seems to be no rhyme or reason for an attack, it is easy to feel picked upon. I can relate to the words of the psalmist in Psalm 38:7 who cries out "My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body."

Often my back goes out at the most inconvenient moments. In my situation I've been praising God that it didn't go out during the three weeks we just spent in Africa packing up or selling off all of our belongings that we have accumulated over the last twelve years. But I do have to wonder why it had to happen when we were trying to close on our new home. It would seem on the surface like a waste of valuable time.

I find, though, that I can wallow in self-pity or turn to the One who has all the answers (and I don't mean my family doctor or osteopath, either). I know God loves me and has the best for me, so He must be allowing me to go through this trial for a reason. What can I learn from this experience that can help me be a better minister to others? Since I'm having to lie flat on my back most of the day, could God be giving me the opportunity to spend more time in intercessory prayer and/or His word? Maybe by having to depend on my family more for some of the basic things in life He is working on developing my humility (something I tend to be in short supply of, it seems). Whatever the reason or reasons may be, I don't want to waste this opportunity, no matter how painful, to learn whatever He has to teach me through it. To do otherwise would really be a waste of my time.

(Note: The cartoon above was originally published on Bryan Schaaf's Zesty Chicken Salad blog.)

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