Monday, May 21, 2012

With a Heart Full of Courage

To them who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life. ~ Romans 2:7

Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
~ Hebrews 12:1

Thus would I press on to the glory,
A knight in the army of God,
Whose march will be onward and forward,
Because of the foes on the road.
Before me the guerdon Thou givest,
My glorious eternal reward,
And with me Thy peace and Thy wisdom,
Because of the Cross of the Lord.
~ Henry Suso

If He calls you to a kind of service which is according to His will but not according to your taste, you must not go to it with less, rather with more courage and energy than if your taste coincided with His will. The less of self and self-will there is in anything we do, the better. You must not amuse yourself with going from side to side, when duty calls you straight on; nor make difficulties, when the real thing is to get over them. Let your heart be full of courage, and then say, "I shall succeed. Not I, but the grace of God which is with me."
~ Francis De Sales

Friday, May 4, 2012

Save Me in Spite of Myself

Accustom yourself to commune with God, not with thoughts deliberately formed to be expressed at a certain time, but with the feelings with which your heart is filled. If you enjoy His presence, and feel drawn by the attraction of His love, tell Him that you delight in Him, that you are happy in loving Him, and that He is very good to inspire so much affection in a heart so unworthy of His love. But what shall you say in seasons of dryness, coldness, weariness? Still say what you have in your heart. Tell God that you no longer find His love within you, that you feel a terrible void, that He wearies you, that His presence does not move you. Say to Him, "O God, look upon my ingratitude, my inconstancy, my unfaithfulness. Take my heart, for I cannot give it; and when Thou hast it, oh, keep it, for I cannot keep it for Thee; and save me in spite of myself." 
~ Francois De La Mothe Fenelon

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Be Not Blind to the Shining of His Face

Far in the future lieth a fear;
Like a long, low, mist of gray,
Gathering to fall in dreary rain;
Thus doth thy heart within thee complain.
And even now thou art afraid, for round thy dwelling
The flying winds are ever telling
Of the fear that lieth gray
Like a gloom of brooding mist upon the way.

But The Lord is always kind;
Be not blind, be not blind To the shining of His face,
To the comforts of His grace.
Hath He ever failed thee yet?
Never, never. Wherefore fret?
O fret not thyself, nor let They heart be troubled,
Neither let it be afraid.

Near, by thy footfall, springeth a joy, Like a new-blown little flower
Growing for thee, to make thee glad.
Let thy countenance be no more sad,
But wake the voice of joy and health within thy dwelling,
And let thy tongue be ever telling,
Not of fear that lieth gray, But of little flowers beside the way.

For the Lord is always kind,
Be not blind, be not blind To the shining of His face,
To the comforts of His grace.
He hath never failed thee yet.
Never will His love forget.
O fret not thyself, nor let Thy heart be troubled,
Neither let it be afraid.

~ Amy Carmichael

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Duties are ours, events are the Lord's; when our faith goeth to meddle with events, and to hold a court (if I may so speak) upon God's Providence, and beginneth to say, "How wilt Thou do this or that?" we lose ground; we have nothing to do there; it is our part to let the Almighty exercise His own office, and steer His own helm; there is nothing left us, but to see how we may be approved of Him, and how we may roll the weight of our weak souls, in well-doing, upon Him who is God omnipotent, and when what we thus essay miscarrieth, it shall neither be our sin nor cross.
~ Samuel Rutherford

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Meekness in the Real World

How To Sell Yourself
A couple of hundred secretaries attended a seminar in Syracuse a few months ago. Because I happened to be in the hotel that day, I did a little eavesdropping.

The speaker was a snappily dressed, fast-talking Yuppie who dished out a lot of expensive advice about how to sell yourself in the business world. By the way you dress, she explained, you can put across a message of power (suits, ladies, not soft sweaters; skirts, not slacks; pumps, not sandals).

The way you wear your hair tells the boss more than your resume did. Hair over the forehead tells him (yes, the lecturer did actually refer to the boss as "him" most of the time) you're shy, coy, or afraid of something; long, loose stuff says you haven't grown up. And you know what fluffed-out hair proclaims the minute you walk into the office: fluffbrain!

What you eat for lunch and how you arrange your desk lets people know who's in charge. No creamed dishes, no desserts; no teddy bears or cutesy mottoes on the desk. Feel good about yourself--slim, trim, lots of vim. Be assertive. Be confident. Walk into the head office in your elegant Joseph A. Bank suit--dark (of course) impeccably (of course) tailored (of course). Stand tall. Head up. Smile. Give him the kind of handshake that lets him know it could have been a knuckle-cruncher--he'll get the message: power. You're in charge.

Beneath the Surface

In Tree of Life magazine Peter Reinhart writes:
The spirit of this age is one of personal power; the spirit of Christ is one of humility. The spirit of this age is one of ambitious accomplishment; the spirit of Christ is one of poverty. The spirit of this age is one of self-determination; the spirit of Christ is one of abandonment to Divine Providence.

He goes on to suggest a new kind of seminar: training in the assertion of virtues--humility, for example, spiritual poverty, purity of heart, chastity of mind. Instead of self-reliance he sees reliance on Christ as the source of empowerment and liberation.

So do I. To be Christ's slave is perfect freedom.

Will this idea sell? Will it work? Can we really get what we want this way? The third question is the crucial one for Christians. Answer it, and you already have the answer to the first two.
If what you want is what the world wants, nobody will be able to sell Reinhart's seminar to you. It isn't going to work.

But if you've made up your mind to have what the world despises--the things that last forever--and if Jesus Christ is Lord of your life, the whole picture, even in the dog-eat-dog world of competition and big money and big success, will be different.

What distinguishes the Christian from others in that world? I admit the validity of some of the Yuppie's advice, silly as it sounds. The medium, alas, is to a certain extent the message. A Christian must he at least as careful, sensible, and serious about doing the job properly as anybody else. He must also dress and act carefully, sensibly, seriously. Man looks on the outward appearance because it's the only thing man can look on. God alone can look on the heart.

What's in the heart reveals itself sooner or later. You may get the job on the basis of first appearance.
You'll keep it on the basis of how you perform day by day. Many perform well because they're after money and power--but there's nearly always room for a little fudging here and there, a lot of elbowing and shoving and downright trampling of whoever's in your way, not to mention high-level crimes that people get away with.

The Christian in the office or factory or construction job operates from a wholly different motive: "service rendered to Christ himself, not with the idea of currying favor with men, but as the servants of Christ conscientiously doing what you believe to be the will of God for you" (Ephesians 6:5, 6 PHILLIPS).

How High, How Mighty?

I would hope that the Christian businessman or woman, whether lowest on the corporate totem pole or the chief executive officer, would be distinguished from the rest not only by conscientious work but also by graciousness, by simple kindness, by an unassuming manliness or a modest womanliness, and above all by a readiness to serve. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with ambition--Jesus often appealed to it--but the nature of those ambitions makes a huge difference: "He that would be chief among you must be servant of all,'' even if that means serving coffee instead of serving on the committee you were itching to join.

A Christian is the sort of person who can be asked to do whatever needs to be done without retorting, "That's not my job." Somebody is bound to remind me that you can get in trouble with the unions this way. Well, you know what I mean. Christians are available. Christians aren't too high and mighty to do the nasty little task nobody else will do. Christians can be counted on, imposed on, sometimes walked all over. Why not? Their Master was.

I think of my friend Betty Greene, a pilot (called an aviator in her early days) who ferried bombers during World War II and helped found Mission Aviation Fellowship. "I made up my mind," she told me, "that if I was to make it in a man's world, I would have to be a lady." A more ladylike lady I have never known. She knows when to keep her mouth shut. She's modest. She's the very soul of graciousness. She isn't trying to prove anything. Nate Saint, an early colleague of hers, once told me he had had no use for women pilots until he met Betty. She shook up his categories.

Christians ought to be always shaking up people's categories. I guess one of the things the world finds most infuriating about much-maligned Jerry Falwell is his unflappable graciousness, his refusal to retreat behind spurious logic. They'd like to call him a rechecked bigot, but he doesn't fit the category. His worst offense is that he's so often right. He speaks the truth--that's bad enough--and he speaks it in love. That's unforgivable.

"The very spring of our actions," said the apostle Paul, "is the love of Christ.'' That goes for all of us who claim the name Christian. It is the energizing principle of whatever we do--from praying and serving the church to laundry and lawn mowing and the jobs we get paid for. Charity is the word.
Charity? In the late twentieth century? Yes. If in home, school, and workplace the rule of each Christian's life were MY LIFE FOR YOURS ("in honor preferring one another") it would make a very great difference.

The Christian's distinctive mark is love. It was what set the Lord Jesus apart from all others. It was, in the end, what got him crucified. If we follow him in the marketplace, many of the self-promotion methods others use will be out of the question to us.

Won't we run the risks of being ignored, stepped on at times, passed over for a promotion? Yes, those and a good many others. But what price are we willing to pay for obedience? The faithful, unconcerned about self-actualization, will find along the pathway of self-denial the blossoms of fulfillment. We have our Lord's paradoxical promise in Luke 17:33: "Whoever tries to preserve his life will lose it, and the man who is prepared to lose his life will preserve it.

Copyright 1989, by Elisabeth Elliot
all rights reserved. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hungering and Thirsting After Righteousness

Let us put ourselves upon a trial whether we hunger and thirst after righteousness. I shall give you five signs by which you may judge of this hunger.
1 Hunger is a painful thing. …a man that hungers after righteousness is in anguish of soul and ready to faint away for it. He finds a want of Christ and grace. He is distressed and in pain till he has his spiritual hunger stilled and allayed.
2 Hunger is satisfied with nothing but food. Bring an hungry man flowers, music; tell him pleasant stories; nothing will content him but food. ‘Shall I die for thirst?’ says Samson (Judges 15: 18). So a man that hungers and thirsts after righteousness says, Give me Christ or I die. Lord, what wilt thou give me seeing I go Christless? …While the soul is Christless, it is restless. Nothing but the water-springs of Christ’s blood can quench its thirst.
3 Hunger wrestles with difficulties and makes an adventure for food. We say hunger breaks through stone walls (cf. Genesis 42: 1, 2). The soul that spiritually hungers is resolved; Christ it must have; grace it must have.
4 An hungry man falls to his meat with an appetite. You need not make an oration to an hungry man and persuade him to eat. So he who hungers after righteousness feeds eagerly on an ordinance. ‘Thy words were found, and I did eat them’ (Jeremiah 15: 16). In the sacrament he feeds with appetite upon the body and blood of the Lord. God loves to see us feed hungrily on the bread of life. 
5 An hungry man tastes sweetness in his meat. So he that hungers after righteousness relishes a sweetness in heavenly things. Christ is to him all marrow, yea the quintessence of delights.
By these notes of trial we may judge of ourselves whether we hunger and thirst after righteousness.
‘Blessed are they that hunger’. Though you do not have so much righteousness as you would, yet you are blessed because you hunger after it.

Thomas Watson (c. 1620—1686) 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Faithful in the Little & Tiresome Things

It is wholly impossible to live according to Divine order, and to make a proper application of heavenly principles, as long as the necessary duties which each day brings seem only like a burden grievous to be borne. Not till we are ready to throw our very life's love into the troublesome little things can we be really faithful in that which is least and faithful also in much. Every day that dawns brings something to do, which can never be done as well again. We should, therefore, try to do it ungrudgingly and cheerfully. It is the Lord's own work, which He has given us as surely as He gives us daily bread. We should thank Him for it with all our hearts, as much as for any other gift. It was designed to be our life, our happiness. Instead of shirking it or hurrying over it, we should put our whole heart and soul into it.

~ James Reed

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"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!"