If you love inspiring, direct, Gospel-style, straight from the heart preaching–& seriously, who doesn’t?–then you’re gonna love this!
Words by S.M. Lockridge
If you love inspiring, direct, Gospel-style, straight from the heart preaching–& seriously, who doesn’t?–then you’re gonna love this!
Words by S.M. Lockridge
“Forsake me not, O Lord.”
Frequently we pray that God would not forsake us in the hour of trial and temptation, but we too much forget that we have need to use this prayer at all times. There is no moment of our life, however holy, in which we can do without his constant upholding. Whether in light or in darkness, in communion or in temptation, we alike need the prayer, “Forsake me not, O Lord.” “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” A little child, while learning to walk, always needs the nurse’s aid. The ship left by the pilot drifts at once from her course. We cannot do without continued aid from above; let it then be your prayer today, “Forsake me not. Father, forsake not thy child, lest he fall by the hand of the enemy. Shepherd, forsake not thy lamb, lest he wander from the safety of the fold. Great Husbandman, forsake not thy plant, lest it wither and die. Forsake me not, O Lord,’ now; and forsake me not at any moment of my life. Forsake me not in my joys, lest they absorb my heart. Forsake me not in my sorrows, lest I murmur against thee. Forsake me not in the day of my repentance, lest I lose the hope of pardon, and fall into despair; and forsake me not in the day of my strongest faith, lest faith degenerate into presumption. Forsake me not, for without thee I am weak, but with thee I am strong. Forsake me not, for my path is dangerous, and full of snares, and I cannot do without thy guidance. The hen forsakes not her brood; do thou then evermore cover me with thy feathers, and permit me under thy wings to find my refuge. Be not far from me, O Lord, for trouble is near, for there is none to help.’ Leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation!'”
From: Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. An amazing thing about God is that He is the same today as he was yesterday, last year, and two thousand years ago. Quite contrary to what people today will try to tell you, He does not change. That’s why I pray this prayer, written in the last half of the nineteenth century, with a feeling of solidarity with all the Christians before me.
About a year ago, I was in a hotel room with my husband. He loves crime dramas. What’s more, he’s one of those people that are always up for watching a rerun of one of their favorite shows–no matter how many times they’ve seen it before. For me, once is enough. There are very few shows, or even movies, that I feel like watching more than once. So he was watching TV while I was doing something else. I don’t remember what. Suddenly a haunting song caught my attention. It was gospel–or maybe spiritual is the right term–bluesy and southern. And it was coming from an unimaginable source–a TV episode of CSI Miami.
I scrambled to get a piece of paper and a pen to write down a few words so I could look it up when I had access to a computer. The song was “Lord Remember Me” by Ruthie Foster and the Blind Boys of Alabama. What a pleasure to discover such an amazing talent in such an unexpected way.
I was reminded of it again today when listening to a remake of a Lenard Cohen song. Here’s the link to Ruthie’s version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FWajoLFzv8
When asked which commandment was the greatest, Jesus replied “Love the Lord your God”. He went on to say that loving one’s neighbor as one’s self is the second greatest commandment (Matt 22:37-39). It is interesting that when asked about which was the first, He went on to add the second. From this we gather the importance of the second as well as the first. But loving unspecified others is hard, especially for an introvert like me. What does it even mean, to love others?
Last night while reading John MacArthur’s wonderful book Saved Without a Doubt: Being Sure of Your Salvation, I came upon a list of what he calls the ‘One Anothers’ that outlines the Biblical answer to the question of what God expects when He commands us to love our neighbors.
Here is what we are to do:
May God Bless your efforts.
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (KJV, James 5:15-16)
Today two people requested prayers for a sick loved-one, which reminded me that I have been planning to share this, my favorite prayer for healing.
Being as I am a Christian with a long way to go on my spiritual journey, I rely heavily on my study Bible. It suggests that the message of verse 15 may be though of as “The prayer produced by that faith will heal.” Of course, we know God’s will is not always to heal, so we must discern God’s will and accept it. I especially like this prayer because it encompasses these points. I found it on the internet and unfortunately do not know the original source.
You know Eliot so much better than I do. You know his illness and the burden he carries. You also know his heart. Lord, I ask You to be with Eliot now as you work in his life.
Lord, let Your will be done in Eliot’s life. If there is a sin that needs to be confessed and forgiven, please help him to see his need and confess.
Lord, I pray for Eliot just as Your Word tells me to pray, for healing. I believe You hear this earnest prayer from my heart and that it is powerful because of Your promise. I have faith in You, Lord, to heal Eliot, but I also trust in the plan You have for his life.
Lord, I don’t always understand Your ways. I don’t know why Eliot has to suffer, but I trust You. I ask that You look with mercy and grace on Eliot. Nourish his spirit and soul in this time of suffering and comfort him with Your presence.
Let Eliot know You are there with him through this difficulty. Give him strength. And may You, through this difficulty, be glorified in his life and also in mine.
My Fellow Control Freaks–
I’m exhausted from controlling everything. I’ve been at it for so many years and I’m just tired. I watch the normal, non-control freak folks going about their business, knowing when they need to step in and staying out of it when they know there’s nothing they can do. But I’m plagued with one thought: how could I live with myself if something terrible happened and I had done nothing to at least try to prevent it?
When I worked for the government, I had a handler. That’s the one person on my team that dared to tell me when my “energy level” was rising above the government tolerated threshold. You see, when working for the government one must have an exceedingly high tolerance for nitwittery–which I do not. Whenever I was in a meeting and the nitwittery level began to rise, I would naturally try to interject some semblance of rational thought into whatever ridiculous discussion was taking place. However, it being the government, it was frequently impossible to introduce common sense back into the proceedings. Thinking I was not trying hard enough, I would redouble my efforts to bring the discussions back into the realm of possibility. When something stupid was getting ready to happen, I just couldn’t let it go. It was my handler’s task to calm me down and keep me from making a CLM, a “Career Limiting Move”. We had a code word and, when she said it, I was suppose to realize I was on the path to a CLM.
Take, for example, a meeting in which the topic of discussion was the fact that the IT hotline could not keep up with the volume of calls. The idea on the table, and championed by the senior executive responsible for the call center, was to add an additional phone to the desk of each of the current call center employees. “Why not, after all they have two ears,” was not the response he was looking for.
As you can see, my handler had a tough job. One day she shared with me her theory that God was demonstrating to me that I don’t control everything. Even though I knew she was right, I couldn’t seem to reign myself in. Decades of control freakishness is not that easily overcome.
Ultimately, I left my job with the government, but God just upped the stakes. My son became a prodigal. Worse yet, he is the parent of my first grandchild. I was absolutely frantic to control the situation and drive my son back into line, for the sake of my grandson. The sleep I lost, the prayers I prayed, the arguments and the lies just continued to pile up as my prodigal’s behavior become more and more offensive. My fervent prayer was that God would not give up on my prodigal, that He would lead him back into obedience, and that He would keep my grandson safe.
Then one day at a preschool parent-teacher conference, the teacher told me God had spoken to her through my little grandson. As I listened to her story, I realized that God did have his hand on my grandson. That God was in control. I thought that maybe I was helpless to change the situation and, even more, maybe it was never my responsibility in the first place.
Sometimes, when I’m really exhausted from trying to control things, I long for the peace that surpasses all understanding. A few days ago, I felt it. It was just for a minute, but during that time I knew I couldn’t control this situation and I knew that God could. It’s a small thing, but it was the first time in my life I ever felt even remotely okay with not being in control. It seems all things are possible after all.
Someday we will join the saints in glorifying our Lord. But we are instructed to do our best to glorify him in our earthly lives as well. I love this prayer that I just came across in Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. I struggle to find my life’s purpose, so this is particularly meaningful for me.
“Lord, help me to glorify thee;
I am poor; help me to glorify thee by contentment;
I am sick; help me to give thee honour by patience;
I have talents; help me to extol thee by spending them for thee;
I have time; Lord, help me to redeem it, that I may serve thee;
I have a heart to feel; Lord, let that heart feel no love but thine, and glow with no flame but affection for thee;
I have a head to think; Lord, help me to think of thee and for thee; thou hast put me in this world for something; Lord, show me what that is, and help me to work out my life-purpose: I cannot do much; but as the widow put in her two mites, which were all her living, so, Lord, I cast my time and eternity too into thy treasury; I am all thine; take me, and enable me to glorify thee now, in all that I say, in all that I do, and with all that I have.”
Is it an oxymoron to talk about a modern kingdom-woman? After riding out the ups and downs of my career over the past thirty years, I find myself at a place in my life where I am thinking more than ever about living my life in accordance with God’s will and plan for me. To that end, I have been reading a bit about a God’s desire for women, which brought me to the book Kingdom Woman by Dr. Tony Evans.
For years I’ve enjoyed listening to Dr. Evans’ entertaining but hard-hitting sermons on the radio. He frequently preaches about family life and raising children, perhaps topics that are less applicable to me now that my husband and I are empty-nesters. Still, when looking for reading material, I always turn to teachers that I know to be faithful to the biblical message. Hence, I am reading my first book by Dr. Evans.
Like many Christian women, I’ve spent many an hour studying Proverbs 31. I’ve attended seminars built around it. Still, I found something new in Dr. Evan’s treatment of it. While Proverbs 31 represents the model or goal for women, it is still overwhelming to read through the long list of ideals and wonder how I can ever hope to achieve them. In his book, Dr. Evans has distilled the goals down to arrive at what seems to be a more attainable list of the attributes of a modern day Proverbs 31 woman:
The only item with which I would presume to differ with Dr. Evans is “dress attractively.” As a woman in America where the notion of “attractive” female dress is a topic of much interest and consternation, I would go with something along the lines of “paying attention to one’s dress” or “dressing appropriately”.
To my way of thinking, these goals are s appropriate for modern women as they were for a women living thousands of years ago.
“I’m not saying there isn’t the possibility of ‘God’, but I want PROOF…” This is a comment that was posted in response to a blog post by a self-proclaimed atheist. When I read that comment, my first thought was “Sure, who doesn’t?” As I have mentioned, I came to God later in life and, I believe as a result, I struggle tremendously with doubt. My daughter-in-law was raised in a Mennonite community and says she cannot remember a time when she did not believe. She tells me I’m lucky because I don’t take my faith for granted. Still, I long for the peace that I imagine must come from never having doubted.
Sometimes I think about the Apostles. They looked into his earthly face of God almost daily and after three years still did not know who they were looking at. At one point, Philip looked Him in the face and said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” (John 14:8) I can imagine Jesus staring back at him in amazement and then shaking His head. He answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:9) So, I think maybe it is not an easy thing to recognize God, especially later in life.
In another blog post, I read a comment in which an individual described praying a prayer of redemption as “an experiment” to see if “anything would happen.” I remember distinctly when I prayed a prayer of redemption and believe me, something happened. I was trying to get through A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Everyone was reading it at that time and I was having a second go at it. The first time I put it down because I just didn’t find it very inspiring or insightful. This time I made it a little further into it and came across a prayer of redemption the author had included. I prayed it. I prayed it earnestly, after all I was reading Mr. Warren’s book seeking answers. Whatever happened after that is hard to describe and I feel like a ‘crazy church lady’ just writing about it. Suffice it to say that my life is almost unrecognizable to me now.
At any rate, the point I’m try to make is this: the proof of God’s existence is not something we can show to someone else. It’s not a thing they can look at or study and say ‘Oh, yeah, now I understand. Of course God must exist. That proves it.’ No, we have to look for that proof ourselves. God seeks a heart that seeks Him. We cannot just wait for some ‘proof’ to be shoved under our noses because even if it was, we wouldn’t recognize it. But if we look for it, then we will find it.
I have long been trying to figure out a way to simplify Christmas gift giving, with no luck. This year I was toying with the idea of leaving town and pretending I forgot it was Christmas. This idea is a much better one. Merry Christmas!
As families grow larger, buying Christmas gifts for everyone can become increasingly complicated – not to mention expensive! In our home, we’ve found a way to simplify Christmas and keep the story of Christ at the center of it all – including the gifts!
When Janelle and I first got married, a middle-aged woman in the church took us aside and explained the way her family always handled Christmas gifts. “It may not seem like a big deal now,” she told us, “but once you start having kids you’ll be glad you kept it simple!” Now, as a proud father of two, I’m glad she helped us get this thing started on the right foot!
Here’s the key to the whole thing. No matter how many people are in the house that year…
According to Matthew 2:11, the three wise men presented Jesus with three gifts:…
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