Thursday, September 30, 2010

The first step into fullness is a sense of emptiness...

The first step into fullness is a sense of emptiness, a sense of dissatisfaction with all that I am, a sense of disgust with all that I ever hope to be, a sense of utter frustration, a sense that if anything is going to happen, then God must do it. I must come to Him with a broken heart and hear Him say to me, "A humble and a contrite heart I will not despise." Before God makes you, He breaks you. ...Alan Redpath
image by Alejandra Mavroski

Backyard evening sky...

The sunset last evening was particularly beautiful as Raymond and I prepared to have our evening coffee by our little firepit...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How Deep the Father's Love For Us...

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss.
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders.
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life.
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything:
No gifts, no power, no wisdom.
But I will boast in Jesus Christ:
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart:
His wounds have paid my ransom.
...Stuart Townend

The LORD has established his throne in heaven...

The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.

Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.

Praise the LORD, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the LORD, O my soul
Psalm 103: 19-22
image by Faith Goble

Monday, September 27, 2010

Christ is not only a remedy for your weariness...

Christ is not only a remedy for your weariness and trouble, but he will give you an abundance of the contrary, joy and delight. They who come to Christ, do not only come to a resting-place after they have been wandering in a wilderness, but they come to a banqueting-house where they may rest, and where they may feast. They may cease from their former troubles and toils, and they may enter upon a course of delights and spiritual joys. ...Jonathan Edwards image

4 Types of Friends Every Pastor Needs

Ike Reighar
posted September 27, 2010

Pastors may be the most well-known, loneliest men on the face of the earth. Friendship is a vital part of New Testament ministry and leadership. Without quality, biblical friendships, we are modeling a flawed Christian lifestyle for our church members. Yet, for many, the difficulties of pastoral friendships outweigh the benefits.

Most pastors find themselves in an unhealthy relationship where their wife is their only friend and counselor. If a pastor continues to project his problems onto his wife, she will grow disillusioned and desperate to leave the ministry. I believe a pastor’s wife should be his best friend, but she should not be his only friend.

In my 30 years of ministry, I have learned that every pastor needs at least four types of friends:

The Developer... The Designer...
The Disturber... The Discerner...
Full Article image

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Faith does the impossible...

Faith does the impossible because it brings God to undertake for us, and nothing is impossible with God. How great — without qualification or limitation — is the power of faith! If doubt be banished from the heart, and unbelief made stranger there, what we ask of God shall surely come to pass, and a believer hath vouchsafed to him “whatsoever he saith.”

Prayer projects faith on God,
and God on the world. Only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer move God. In His cursing of the fig-tree our Lord demonstrated His power. Following that, He proceeded to declare, that large powers were committed to faith and prayer, not in order to kill but to make alive, not to blast but to bless. ...EM Bounds

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The most eloquent prayer...

The most eloquent prayer is the prayer through hands that heal and bless. The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless. ...Billy Graham image by Jenny Downing

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The greatest burden we have to carry in life is self...

The greatest burden we have to carry in life is self; the most difficult thing we have to manage is self. Our own daily living, our frames and feelings, our especial weaknesses and temptations, our peculiar temperaments, our inward affairs of every kind—these are the things that perplex and worry us more than anything else, and that brings us most frequently into bondage and darkness. In laying off your burdens therefore, the first one you must get rid of is yourself. You must hand yourself, with your temptations, your temperament, your frames and feeling, and all your inward and outward experiences, over into the care and keeping of your God, and leave it all there. He made you, and therefore He understands you, and knows how to manage you; and you must trust Him to do it. Say to Him, “Here, Lord, I abandon myself to thee. I have tried in every way I could think of to manage myself, and to make myself what I know I ought to be, but have always failed. Now I give it up to thee. Do thou take entire possession of me. Work in me all the good pleasure of thy will. Mold and fashion me into such a vessel as seemeth good to thee. I leave myself in thy hands, and I believe thou wilt, according to thy promise, make me into a vessel unto thy own honor, ‘sanctified and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.’” And here you must rest, trusting yourself thus to Him, continually and absolutely. ...Hannah Whitall Smith image

Sunday afternoon walk

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1

Raymond and I took a lovely walk along Onondaga Lake Park this past Sunday afternoon. The skyscapes were stunning and this picture does not adequately reflect how beautiful it was. The older I get, the more I appreciate the Lord's creation and how impossible it is to believe that it is all just happy random chance. (Photo: Raymond Dague)

"Ironically, the picture of the universe bequeathed to us by the most advanced twentieth-century science is closer in spirit to the vision presented in...Genesis than anything offered by science since Copernicus." - Patrick Glynn, former atheist and author of God: The Evidence

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Antidote to Worship Crankiness

By Mark D. Roberts,
Laity Lodge Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence

Praise him with the tambourine and dancing;
praise him with strings and flutes! Psalm 150:4

Worship crankiness. As a pastor, I've dealt with it for years. As a worshiper, I struggle with it.

What is worship crankiness? It's engaging in worship that is meant for God's glory but getting stuck in grumpiness. It's when the choir is off-key, the sermon is under par, the praise music is too loud, and you just get grouchy. Rather than focusing on God, you end up worrying about the things that bug you in the worship service. Instead of giving yourself to God in humble worship, you end up preoccupied by yourself and your frustrations.

You know you're infected with worship crankiness if you continually find yourself bothered by things in worship that, in the end, really aren't that important. Or you know you've got the bug if your comments after a worship service tend to be critical rather than reflective of your relationship with God.

In my experience, worship crankiness often has to do with music. Some folks get bugged when musical quality is low. Many become irritable when the genre of worship music is not to their liking. If you're a hymn person, you get cranky when you're supposed to sing praise songs. If you prefer contemporary music, you want to fold your arms and frown if you have to sing hymns led by an organ. And so it goes, week in, week out. the rest image
The more we seek God's glory, the less we will be focused on our personal likes and dislikes in worship. The more we focus on giving ourselves to God, the less we will be preoccupied with ourselves and our feelings. The more we remember God's greatness, the more we will want him to be praised with every instrument, every voice, every genre, and every person.

Many say they have no peace nor rest...

Many say they have no peace nor rest, but so many crosses and trials, afflictions and sorrows, that they know not how they shall ever get through them. Now he who in truth will perceive and take note, perceiveth clearly that true peace and rest lie not in outward things. There liveth no man on earth who may always have rest and peace without troubles and crosses. Wherefore yield thyself willingly to them, and seek only that true peace of the heart, which none can take away from thee, that thou mayest overcome all assaults. ...Theologia Germanica image by Horia Varlan

Friday, September 17, 2010

Slowly, through all the universe the temple of God is being built...

Slowly, through all the universe the temple of God is being built. And whenever, in any place, a soul by freewilled obedience, catches the fire of God's likeness, it is set into the growing walls, a living stone. ...Phillips Brooks image

All Flesh is Like the Grass...

My friend's mother died today and she and I listened to this...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How happy would you be...

How happy would you be if your hearts were but persuaded to close with Jesus Christ! Then you would be out of all danger: whatever storms and tempests were without, you might rest securely within; you might hear the rushing of the wind, and the thunder roar abroad, while you are safe in this hiding-place.

O be persuaded to hide yourself in Christ Jesus! What greater assurance of safety can you desire? He has undertaken to defend and save you, if you will come to him: he looks upon it as his work; he engaged in it before the world was, and he has given his faithful promise which he will not break; and if you will but make your flight there, his life shall be for yours; he will answer for you, you shall have nothing to do but rest quietly in him; you may stand still and see what the Lord will do for you. ...
Jonathan Edwards photo

Paul's exhortation to "do all to the glory of God"...

Paul's exhortation to "do all to the glory of God" is more than pious idealism. It is an integral part of the sacred revelation and is to be accepted as the very Word of Truth. It opens before us the possibility of making every act of our lives contribute to the glory of God. Lest we should be too timid to include everything, Paul mentions specifically eating and drinking. This humble privilege we share with the beasts that perish. If these lowly animal acts can be so performed as to honor God, then it becomes difficult to conceive of one that cannot. AW Tozer: The Pursuit of God

"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart...

"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."—Luke 2:19.

Here was an exercise, on the part of this blessed woman, of three powers of her being: her memory—she kept all these things; her affections—she kept them in her heart; her intellect—she pondered them; so that memory, affection, and understanding, were all exercised about the things which she had heard. Beloved, remember what you have heard of your Lord Jesus, and what He has done for you; make your heart the golden pot of manna to preserve the memorial of the heavenly bread whereon you have fed in days gone by. Let your memory treasure up everything about Christ which you have either felt, or known, or believed, and then let your fond affections hold Him fast for evermore. Love the person of your Lord! Bring forth the alabaster box of your heart, even though it be broken, and let all the precious ointment of your affection come streaming on His pierced feet. Let your intellect be exercised concerning the Lord Jesus. Meditate upon what you read: stop not at the surface; dive into the depths. Be not as the swallow which toucheth the brook with her wing, but as the fish which penetrates the lowest wave.

Abide with your Lord: let Him not be to you as a wayfaring man, that tarrieth for a night, but constrain Him, saying, "Abide with us, for the day is far spent." Hold Him, and do not let Him go. The word "ponder, ' means to weigh. Make ready the balances of judgment. Oh, but where are the scales that can weigh the Lord Christ? "He taketh up the isles as a very little thing:"—who shall take Him up? "He weigheth the mountains in scales"—in what scales shall we weigh Him? Be it so, if your understanding cannot comprehend, let your affections apprehend; and if your spirit cannot compass the Lord Jesus in the grasp of understanding, let it embrace Him in the arms of affection. ...CH Spurgeon

In your heart God has excavated an immense space...

In your heart God has excavated an immense space where he has placed a precious treasure. From now on you have the twofold duty of receiving and giving: sharing the treasure of the kingdom you bear within you and stretching the area of your tent for those around you. Anonymous

In all moods and in all seasons pour out the soul in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, and if the Spirit groans in intercession do not be afraid of the agony of prayer. There are blessings of the Kingdom that are only yielded to the violence of the vehement soul. Bruce Wilkinson Photo

Radiating Christ...

Dear Jesus,
Help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly
that all my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me and be so in me
that every soul I come in contact with
may feel Your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus!

Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,
so to shine as to be a light to others;
the light, O Jesus, will be all from You;
none of it will be mine:
it will be You shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise You in the way You love best:
by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching,
not by words, but by my example,
by the catching force,
the sympathetic influence of what I do,
the evident fullness of the love my heart bears for You. Amen. John Henry Cardinal Newman image
This prayer was a favorite of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and recited by her and her sisters daily after Mass. -PD (Thanks Catherine in Australia!)

Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know...

Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know,
To love what I ought to love,
To praise what delights thee most,
To value what is precious in thy sight,
To hate what is offensive to thee.
Do not suffer me to judge according to the sight of my eyes,
Nor to pass sentence according to the hearing

of the ears of ignorant men;
But to discern with a true judgment
between things visible and spiritual,
And above all, always to inquire
what is the good pleasure of thy will.
Thomas a Kempis (1380-1472)

Give me an open ear, O God...

Give me an open ear,
O God, that I may hear
Thy voice calling me
to high endeavor.

Give me an open mind,
O God, a mind ready to receive and to welcome such new light of knowledge as it is Thy will to reveal to me.

Give me open eyes, O God, eyes quick to discover
Thine indwelling in the world
which Thou hast made.

Give me open hands, O God, hands ready to share with all who are in want the blessings with which Thou hast enriched my life. ... John Baillie

The Church has no mission of its own...

The Church has no mission of its own. All we can have by ourselves is a club or a debating society; and our only hope, left to ourselves, is to win as many members for our own club and away from other clubs as we can. And whatever this is, it is not Mission. Mission belongs to God. The Mission was His from the beginning; it is His; it will always be His. He has His purposes from the foundation of the world, and the means to fulfill them; and the only part the Church has in this is obedience -- a share in the eternal and life-giving obedience of the Son of God... And the most terrible judgment on the Church comes when God leaves us to our own devices because He is tired of waiting for our obedience -- leaves us to be the domestic chaplains to a comfortable secular world -- and goes Himself into the wilderness of human need and injustice and pain. This judgment does come on churches and nations, when they forget that God is in command, that He does the choosing. Stephen F. Bayne, Jr., An Anglican Turning Point

The spiritual life is a stern choice...

The spiritual life is a stern choice. It is not a consoling retreat from the difficulties of existence, but an invitation to enter fully into that difficult existence, and there apply the Charity of God, and bear the cost. ... Evelyn Underhill photo

We are often in a religious hurry in our devotions...

"I will give myself unto prayer" (Ps. 109:4)

We are often in a religious hurry in our devotions. How much time do we spend in them daily? Can it not be easily reckoned in minutes? Who ever knew an eminently holy man who did not spend much of his time in prayer? Did ever a man exhibit much of the spirit of prayer, who did not devote much time in his closet?

Whitefield says, "Whole days and weeks have I spent prostrate on the ground, in silent or vocal prayer." "Fall upon your knees and grow there," is the language of another, who knew whereof he affirmed.

It has been said that no great work in literature or science was ever wrought by a man who did not love solitude. We may lay it down as an elemental principle of religion, that no large growth in holiness was ever gained by one who did not take time to be often, and long, alone with God. --The Still Hour

"'Come, come,' He saith, 'O soul oppressed and weary,
Come to the shadows of my desert rest;
Come walk with Me far from life's babbling discords,
And peace shall breathe like music in thy breast.'"
Streams in the Desert photo

Defeat may serve as well as victory...

Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind,
The boughs drink in new beauty, and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come
to stretch out spaces in the heart for joy.
...Edwin Markham

Jesus comes not for the super-spiritual...

Jesus comes not for the super-spiritual but for the wobbly and the weak-kneed who know they don’t have it all together, and who are not too proud to accept the handout of amazin’ grace. As we glance up, we are astonished to find the eyes of Jesus open with wonder, deep with understanding, and gentle with compassion. ...Brennan Manning
image by Alex Proimos

The LORD your God is with you...

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

Notwithstanding what you have been told in the past or what you may feel in the present, when God thinks about you, feels for you, and sees you, He opens His mouth and sings with inexpressible joy! God's love for you is so infinitely intense that He quite literally sings for joy. The depth of His affection is such that mere words prove paltry and inadequate. So profoundly intimate is God's devotion to you that He bursts forth in sacred song. I'm talking about you. That's right, you, not just all the other people reading this article. I'm talking about each and every one of you who is convinced that no matter how many times I tell you God loves you, still you imagine He must have someone else in mind. No, He has you in mind. ...Sam Storms
image by Nicola

Can we believe...

Can we believe that God ever modifies His action in response to the suggestions of man? For infinite wisdom does not need telling what is best, and infinite goodness needs no urging to do it. But neither does God need any of those things that are done by finite agents, whether living or inanimate. He could, if He chose, repair our bodies miraculously without food; or give us food without the aid of farmers, bakers, and butchers; or knowledge without the aid of learned men; or convert the heathen without missionaries. Instead, He allows soils and weather and animals and the muscles, minds, and wills of men to cooperate in the execution of His will. "God", says Pascal, "instituted prayer in order to lend to His creatures the dignity of causality." But it is not only prayer; whenever we act at all, He lends us that dignity. It is not really stranger, nor less strange, that my prayers should affect the course of events than that my other actions should do so.
...CS Lewis image

The members of Christ's Church shoul be very prayerful...

"When thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, then thou shalt bestir thyself." 2 Samuel 5:24

The members of Christ's Church should be very prayerful, always seeking the unction of the Holy One to rest upon their hearts, that the kingdom of Christ may come, and that His "will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven;" but there are times when God seems especially to favour Zion, such seasons ought to be to them like "the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees." We ought then to be doubly prayerful, doubly earnest, wrestling more at the throne than we have been wont to do. Action should then be prompt and vigorous. The tide is flowing—now let us pull manfully for the shore. O for Pentecostal outpourings and Pentecostal labours. Christian, in yourself there are times "when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees." You have a peculiar power in prayer; the Spirit of God gives you joy and gladness; the Scripture is open to you; the promises are applied; you walk in the light of God's countenance; you have peculiar freedom and liberty in devotion, and more closeness of communion with Christ than was your wont. Now, at such joyous periods when you hear the "sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees," is the time to bestir yourself; now is the time to get rid of any evil habit, while God the Spirit helpeth your infirmities.
...CH Spurgeon

Clear shining from God...

Clear shining from God must be at the bottom of deep labouring with God. What is the reason that so many in our days set their hands to the plough, and looked back again?—begin to serve Providence in great things, but cannot finish?—give over in the heat of the day? They never had any such revelation of the mind of God upon their spirits, such a discovery of His excellencies, as might serve for a bottom of such undertakings. ...John Owen image by Nick Russill

We have a Shepherd who cannot die...

We have a Shepherd who cannot fall. We have a Shepherd who cannot die. He is no hireling who abandons his flock at the first sign of trouble. Our Shepherd is armed with omnipotent force. He is not threatened by the valley of shadows. He created the valley. He redeems the valley.
...RC Sproul image

God must be sought and seen in His providences...

God must be sought and seen in His providences; it is not our actions in themselves considered which please Him, but the spirit in which they are done, more especially the constant ready obedience to every discovery of His will, even in the minutest things, and with such a suppleness and flexibility of mind as not to adhere to anything, but to turn and move in any direction where He shall call.
...Madame Jeanne Guyon image by Kevin Dooley

He works on us in all sorts of ways...

He works on us in all sorts of ways. But above all, He works on us through each other. Men are mirrors, or "carriers" of Christ to other men. Usually it is those who know Him that bring Him to others. That is why the Church, the whole body of Christians showing Him to one another, is so important. It is so easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects - education, building, missions, holding services... The Church exists for no other purpose but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other reason. ...CS Lewis image

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Value of Wisdom...

My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.

Proverbs 2:1-5 image by Sharon Mallerus