I’ve Looked at Clouds that Way

There are clouds in human life, shadowing, refreshing, and sometimes draping it in blackness of night; but there is never a cloud without its bright light. “I do set my bow in the cloud!”
 clouds21
If we could see the clouds from the other side where they lie in billowy glory, bathed in the light they intercept, like heaped ranges of Alps, we should be amazed at their splendid magnificence.
We look at their under side; but who shall describe the bright light that bathes their summits and searches their valleys and is reflected from every pinnacle of their expanse? Is not every drop drinking in health-giving qualities, which it will carry to the earth?
O child of God! If you could see your sorrows and troubles from the other side; if instead of looking up at them from earth, you would look down on them from the heavenly places where you sit with Christ; if you knew how they are reflecting in prismatic beauty before the gaze of Heaven, the bright light of Christ’s face, you would be content that they should cast their deep shadows over the mountain slopes of existence. Only remember that clouds are always moving and passing before God’s cleansing wind.
Streams in the Desert, May 15

Full of Leaks

22616740Under the conviction of your Spirit I learn that

the more I do, the worse I am,

the more I know, the less I know,

the more holiness I have, the more sinful I am,

the more I love, the more there is to love.

O wretched man that I am!

O Lord, I have a wild heart,

and I cannot stand before thee;

I am like a bird before a man.

How little I love thy truth and ways!

I neglect prayer, by thinking I have prayed enough and earnestly,

by knowing

that you have saved my soul.

 

Of all hypocrites, grant that I may not be an evangelical leakyBuckethypocrite,

who sins more safely because grace abounds,

who tells his lusts that Christ’s blood cleanses them,

who reasons that God cannot cast him into hell,

for he is saved,

who loves evangelical preaching, churches, Christians, but lives unholy.

My mind is a bucket without a bottom,

with no spiritual understanding,

no desire for the Lord’s Day,

ever learning but never reaching the truth,

always at the gospel-well but never holding water.

am_porteuse_d_eauMy conscience is without conviction or contrition, with nothing to repent of.

My will is without power of decision or resolution.

My heart is without affection, and full of leaks.

My memory has no retention,

so I forget easily the lessons learned,

and they truths seep away.

   Give me a broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace. ((Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, Banner of Truth, p.128-9))

 

Christians in Crisis

HeadDayOfPrayer1 This coming Sunday November 11 is a day set aside for believers to enter into prayer on behalf of the persecuted church across the world. 

Through my study of Acts I have lingered over the moments of persecution that Paul endured for the sake of the faith.  As I consider what happened to him, I remember it is still happening for many believers around the globe.

The following link contains a devotional based on 2 Kings 19 that provides a thoughtful way to think and pray for our brothers and sisters.

The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is a global day of intercession for persecuted Christians worldwide. Its primary focus is the work of intercessory prayer and citizen action on behalf of persecuted communities of the Christian faith. We also encourage prayer for the souls of the oppressors, the nations that promote persecution, and those who ignore it.

We believe that prayer changes things. Exactly what happens is a mystery of faith. God invites us to present to Him our requests and to pray without ceasing. Persecuted Christians often plead for prayer to help them endure. The most we can do is the least we can do — pray.

We also encourage continuing prayer and educated involvement on behalf of persecuted Christians. Visit our partner Web sites to discover further ways to get involved.   (IDOP)

The devotional ends with this prayer:

We also pray for the terrorists, militants and dictators themselves, and ask you O Lord to display your ‘arm’ for the benefit of the Church. We pray for judgment and for mercy, for you are a just and merciful God. May the Church be able to say of them as was said of the Apostle Paul, ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ (Galatians 1:23)

For the sake of your kingdom and glory, AMEN

‘Nothing is impossible with God.’ (Luke 1:37)

We Have One Precious Life

remote_tv (Small) It’s the “new” TV season.  Since for me, Fall no longer means an excitement about returning to school–new pencils, new notebooks and book bags, I find myself anticipating and being excited by the promise of new Television shows!  I watch the promos and try to figure if House is going to conflict with anything else I want to view.  I plan what will be taped for later and what I will watch now.  Then I begin to wonder:

What will happen with Meredith and McDreamy?

What will fill the void left by Gilmore Girls?

Will Kitty and the Senator get together?

How will I be able to enjoy Survivor China and attend Choir Practice and ESL too?

What’s up with this Gossip Girls?

Into the scheduling excitement of the new season and of planning my living around what is airing on the tube — I read this Piper devotion.  Well, for sure it made me turn ET right off last night!

“If all other variables are equal, your capacity to know God deeply will probably diminish in direct proportion to how much television you watch.  There are several reasons for this.  One is that television reflects American culture at its most trivial.  And a steady diet of triviality shrinks the soul. 

You get used to it.  It starts to seem normal…If you watch fifty TV ads each night, you may forget there is such a thing as wisdom.  TV seldom inspires great thoughts or great feelings with glimpses of great Truth.  God is the great, absolute, all shaping Reality.  If He gets any air time, He is treated as an opinion. 

There is no reverence.  No trembling.God and all He thinks about the world is missing.  Cut loose from God, everything goes down.  It isn’t just what TV does to us with its rivers of emptiness; it is what TV keeps us from doing.  Do you ever ask, “What could I accomplish that is truly worthwhile if I did not watch TV?” ((John Piper, Pierced By the Word, Multnomah Publishers 2003, 77-78.))

Do I really want to spend this one precious life passive in front of a screen rather than actively before the face of God? 

 “Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body.  If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.  Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don’t get musty and murky.  Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room.”  (Luke 11:33-36, The Message)

Lord, may this be a new season of love and devotion toward you!

Candle in the Dark

 Amy Carmichael is for me a hero of the faith.  Elisabeth Amy CarmichaelElliot wrote a wonderful biography of this woman entitled “A Chance to Die”.  She was serving as a missionary in India rescuing young girls from being sold as temple prostitutes when she suffered a terrible fall.   That fall left her confined to her room for the last twenty years of her life.  She was in constant pain and yet her letters and devotional writings composed during that season of pain continue to strengthen believer’s hearts and reveal the riches of a life whose roots are sunk deep in Christ.  I awoke with some melancholy this morning and immediately thought of this friend who sought a candle in the dark.

“All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness.”  Psalm 25:10 RVcandle

All does not mean “all but the paths we are in now” or “nearly all, but perhaps not just this specially difficult painful one”.  All must mean all.

So your path with its unexplained sorrow, and mine with its unexplained sharp flints and briers, and both with their unexplained perplexity of guidance, their sheer mystery, are just lovingkindness, nothing less. 

I am resting my heart on that word.  It bears one up on eagle’s wings; it gives courage and song and sweetness too, that sweetness of spirit which it is death to lose even for one half hour.  God bless you and utterly satisfy your heart with Himself.  I remember in old days almost desperately repeating to myself these lines from Tersteegen; 

 Am I not enough, Mine own?  Enough Mine own for thee?… Am I not enough Mine own?  I forever and alone, I, needing thee?” 

It was a long time before I could say honestly “Yes” to that question.  I remember the turmoil of soul as if it were yesterday, but at last, oh the rest, “for in acceptance lies peace”.  

Amy Carmichael, “A Candle in the Dark“, p. 46