Saturday, January 31, 2009

Submission, Not Fretting

His heart fretteth against the Lord. PROVERBS 19:3

I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are right and that Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. PSALMS 119:75

AND my soul complaineth not,
For no pain or fears dismay her;
Still she clings to God in faith,
Trusts Him though lie seem to slay her.
'Tis when flesh and blood repine,
Sun of joy, Thou canst not shine,

IMPATIENCE and fretting under trial does not increase our suffering, whereas meek submission sanctifies all suffering, and fills the tortured heart with peace amid its anguish. Worship Him in every sorrow; worship Him in deed and word, but still more in humble and loving acceptance of each pang and heartache. Be sure that your mere silent willing endurance is a true act of adoration; and thus, come what may, weariness, pain, desolation, destitution, loneliness, all will carry on His gracious work in you, and, amid the sharpest pressure of suffering, you will be sending up to His eternal throne the precious incense of submission and trust.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Just Shall Live by Faith

The Bible says the just shall live by faith. The "just" is not a special category of specially gifted or inspired saints. It is the people whose hearts are turned toward God. The people who know that their own righteousness doesn't count for much and who therefore have accepted God's. I belong in that category. Therefore the rule for me is the rule for all the rest: live by faith. So I have been pondering, up here in this quiet room, what it means for a writer to live by faith. It was easy enough to come up with some things it doesn't mean. It does not mean that my intellect need not be hard at work. It does not mean that I trust God to do my work for me, any more than for a housewife to live by faith means she expects God to do her dishes or make her beds. It does not mean that I have a corner on inspiration...

The great prophets of the Old Testament lived by faith, but they were certainly divinely inspired. Does this mean that God alone and not they, too--was responsible for the work they did? Even though they were acted upon in a special sense by the Spirit of God as I don't ever expect to be acted upon, they had to pay a price. Each of them had to make the individual commitment when he was called, and to offer up then and there his own plans and hopes (and surely his reputation) in order that his personality, his temperament, his intellect, his peculiar gifts and experience might be the instruments through which the Spirit did his work, or the console upon which he played. All this, even though I am no prophet, I must take seriously.

But there is one other thing that living by faith does not mean. This is the thing that makes me furrow my brow and sigh, because I can't help wishing that it did mean this. If in fact I have sided with the "just," if I am willing to work as hard as I can, if I arrange things physically to contribute to the highest concentration and if I discipline myself to sit down at the typewriter for X number of hours per day (even when the fresh perfume of the balsams comes through the windows, calling me to the woods; even when the lake glitters in the sunshine and says, "Come on!"), may I then expect that what I turn out will stop the world, bring the public panting to the bookstores, shine as the brightness of the firmament?

I may not. There are no promises to cover anything of the kind...

Then I think of Abel. And here's comfort. Abel's name is listed in the Hall of Fame of Hebrews 11. Like the others in that list (and a motley assortment it is), he is there for one thing, and only one thing: the exercise of faith. The demonstration of his faith was his offering. The thing that made his offering acceptable while Cain's was unacceptable was faith. Faith did not guarantee the "success" of the sacrifice. In human terms it was no help at all. Abel ended up dead as a result of it. But the manner in which he offered his gift--"by faith"--made it, the Bible says, "a more excellent sacrifice" than Cain's, and qualified him for the roster of Hebrews.

For me, then, for whom writing happens to be the task, living by faith means several things.

It means accepting the task from God (taking the "risk"...). Here is a thing to be done. It appears to be a thing to be done by me, so I'll do it, and I'll do it for God.

It means coming at the task trustingly. That's the way Abel brought his sacrifice, I'm sure. Not with fear, not with a false humility that it wasn't "good enough." What would ever be good enough, when it comes right down to it? "All things come of Thee, O Lord, and of Thine own have we given Thee." All that distinguishes one thing from another is the manner of its offering. I must remember that the God to whom I bring it has promised to receive. That's all I need to know.

It means doing the job with courage to face the consequences. I might, of course, write a bestseller. Most of us feel we could handle that kind of consequence. (God knows we couldn't, and doesn't suffer us to be tempted above that we are able.) On the other hand, I might fail. Abel was murdered. Jeremiah was dropped into a pit of slime. John the Baptist got his head chopped off. These were much worse fates than being delivered into the hands of one's literary critics ("Much worse?" one of my selves says, and "Oh, come now--much worse," answers another. "Come off it. You're not putting yourself in a class with those towering figures, are you?" "I guess I was for a minute there.") Is the faith that gives me the courage I need based on former literary success? Not for a moment. For each time I sit down to begin a new book I'm aware that I may have used up my allotment of creativity. It's another kind of faith I need, faith in God.

It means giving it everything I've got. Now I have to acknowledge that I've never done this. I've never finished any job in my life and been able to survey it proudly and say, "Look at that! I certainly did my best that time!" I look at the job and say, "Why didn't I do such and such? This really ought to be done over." But "giving it everything I've got" is my goal. I cannot claim to be living by faith unless I'm living in obedience. Even the miracles Jesus performed were contingent on somebody's obedience, on somebody's doing some little thing such as filling up water pots, stretching out a hand, giving up a lunch. The work I do needs to be transformed. I know that very well. But there has to be something there to be transformed. It's my responsibility to see that it's there.

~ Elizabeth Elliot

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Something to Pray About

Here is the link to Reformed Singles website.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


"Ye are Christ's." --1 Corinthians 3:23

Ye are Christ's." You are His by donation, for the Father gave you to the Son; His by His bloody purchase, for He counted down the price for your redemption; His by dedication, for you have consecrated yourself to Him; His by relation, for you are named by his name, and made one of His brethren and joint-heirs. Labour practically to show the world that you are the servant, the friend, the bride of Jesus. When tempted to sin, reply, "I cannot do this great wickedness, for I am Christ's." Immortal principles forbid the friend of Christ to sin. When wealth is before you to be won by sin, say that you are Christ's, and touch it not. Are you exposed to difficulties and dangers? Stand fast in the evil day, remembering that you are Christ's.

Are you placed where others are sitting down idly, doing nothing? Rise to the work with all your powers; and when the sweat stands upon your brow, and you are tempted to loiter, cry, "No, I cannot stop, for I am Christ's. If I were not purchased by blood, I might be like Issachar, crouching between two burdens; but I am Christ's, and cannot loiter." When the siren song of pleasure would tempt you from the path of right, reply, "Thy music cannot charm me; I am Christ's." When the cause of God invites thee, give thy goods and thyself away, for thou art Christ's. Never belie thy profession. Be thou ever one of those whose manners are Christian, whose speech is like the Nazarene, whose conduct and conversation are so redolent of heaven, that all who see you may know that you are the Saviour's, recognizing in you His features of love and His countenance of holiness. "I am a Roman!" was of old a reason for integrity; far more, then, let it be your argument for holiness, "I am Christ's!"

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thou Must Give Success

AND grant me, Lord, to do,
With ready heart and willing,
Whate'er Thou shalt command,
My calling here fulfilling;
And do it when I ought,
With all my strength, and bless
The work I thus have wrought,
For Thou must give success.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Refusing to Worship

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”
C.S. Lewis

Friday, January 2, 2009

Psalm 125 (Amplified Bible)

1 THOSE WHO trust in, lean on, and confidently hope in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides and stands fast forever.

2 As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people from this time forth and forever.

3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land of the [uncompromisingly] righteous, lest the righteous (God's people) stretch forth their hands to iniquity and apostasy.

4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are right [with You and all people] in their hearts.

5 As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways [of indifference to God], the Lord will lead them forth with the workers of iniquity. Peace be upon Israel!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Up and Be Doing

"Up and be doing," is the word that comes from God for each of us. Leave some "good work" behind you that shall not be wholly lost when you have passed away. Do something worth living for, worth dying for. Is there no want, no suffering, no sorrow that you can relieve? Is there no act of tardy justice, no deed of cheerful kindness, no long-forgotten duty that you can perform? Is there no reconciliation of some ancient quarrel, no payment of some long-outstanding debt, no courtesy, or love, or honor to be rendered to those to whom it has long been due; no charitable, humble, kind, useful deed by which you can promote the glory of God, or good will among men, or peace upon earth? If there be any such deed, in God's name, in Christ's name, go and do it.