Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Refiner's Fire

I love the picture of God as the refiner. The Father sends the Holy Spirit, the flame (Acts 2), to perfect his saints in holiness. Our Lord knows the value of the refiner's fire. And when we learn how it's done we discover even more how much he loves us.
It is with the most precious metal that the refiner takes the most pains. God's children are most precious to him, he sent his Son to die for them. The refiner subjects the metal to the hottest of fires, because such fires melt the metal, and only the molten mass releases its alloy or takes perfectly its new form in the mold. He never leaves his crucible, but sits down and tends the fire ever so carefully. At the perfect time and heat the dross floats to the top and he skims it off. He then can look into the purified metal and see himself, and puts out the fire.
I found this poem that I want to share from my Streams in the Desert devotional about the One who shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver (Mal. 3:3).
He sat by a fire of seven-fold heat,
As He watched by the precious ore,
And closer He bent with a searching gaze
as He heated it more and more.
He knew He had ore that could stand the test,
and He wanted the finest gold
To mould as a crown for the King to wear,
Set with gems with a price untold.
So He laid our gold in the burning fire,
Tho' we fain would have said Him 'Nay,'
And He watched the dross that we had not seen,
And it melted and passed away.
And the gold grew brighter and yet more bright,
But our eyes were so dim with tears,
We saw but the fire--not the Master's hand,
And questioned with anxious fears.
Yet our gold shone out with a richer glow,
As it mirrored a Form above,
That bent o're the fire, tho' unseen by us,
With a look of ineffable love.
Can we think that it pleases His loving heart
To cause us a moment's pain?
Ah, no! but He saw through the present cross
The bliss of eternal gain.
So He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure,
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat,
Than was needed to make it pure.
O dear Jesus,
My life is in your hands. I know it hurts sometimes, but I do desire to be purified. I need not fear, for you have redeemed me. You have summoned me by name. I am Yours. When I pass through the waters, You will be with me; and when I pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over me. When I walk through your refining fire, I will not be burned; the flames will not set me ablaze. For You are the Lord, my God, the Holy One of Israel, My Savior (Isaiah 43:1-3). You want the best for me. I praise you Lord, for your ways are mysterious and wonderful. I love you with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. In your precious name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Listening Prayer

A "Listening Prayer" caught my eye in the journal I'm using. It's by A. W. Tozer, one of my favorite theologians. He said to . . .

Retire from the world each day to some private spot . . .

Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin

to fade out of your heart and a sense of God's presence envelopes you . . .

Listen for the inward Voice till you learn

to recognize it . . . Learn to pray inwardly every moment.

What does it take to retire from the world each day to a private spot? For me, it took disciplined Bible Study to get me started. Now that I'm hooked on listening for the inward Voice, even though it's a fight some times, it's hard for me to go a day without retreating into God's presence.

Thinking about the wonderful, countless benefits of disciplined study makes me wonder why discipline gets such a bad rap. Is it because we don't like being forced? Or are we just lazy? It's a little of both, don't you think? On top of being stubborn and like sloths, we humans can conjure up more excuses as to why we don't have time for God than a pine tree has needles.

But if we do take the time to listen for His still small voice, the Holy Spirit will step in and teach us how to recognize God's voice and pray inwardly every moment. He promises to guide us into all truth and will bring glory to Jesus by taking what is Jesus' and make it known to us (John 16:12-15). In that private place there are unthinkable treasures to be found. Won't you join me as I fight off all of the excuses and distractions and carve out some time for listening prayer today?
photo courtesy of

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Are You Caught in a Crab Bucket?

Crab fisherman have long known they don't need to put a lid on their crab bucket, as long as there is more than one crab. When there are several crabs in the bucket, if one tries to crawl out, the other crabs grab hold and pull it back down. Some call it the Crab Bucket Syndrome.

Some of us desire to climb above, raise our standards and improve ourselves, but Satan, and those who belong to him, act like crabs in a bucket. They do everything in their power to destroy the ambitions of those who wish to better themselves. Sadly, these grab and hold techniques often work among us humans, too.

As Christians, it's often our thoughts that catch us, put us in a bucket. What crabs are holding you back from improving your life? These crabs come in thoughts like

  • I don't have any time to spend with God and his word today.

  • Does God really hear my prayers? It seems like he's not answering.

  • Living the Christian life doesn't pay-off here on earth.

  • Things will never change for me, anyway.

Faithful Christians pray and believe God no matter how they feel or what things look like. Don't let these crabby negative thoughts keep you in a bucket of mediocrity. Therefore, my dear friends, continue to work out your salvation every day with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:12-13). How do we work out our salvation? Follow Paul's advice that follows these verses in Philippians. Do everything without complaining or arguing (boy, that's a tough one), so that we can become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which we shine like stars in the universe.

Start shining today and escape the grabs, the holds, and the bucket.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The ABC's of Listening Through His Word

I hope you have the privilege of a spiritual mentor/mother like I do. If you don't, pray and ask God for one. Then open your eyes and look for her. She may be right in front of you. She'll tell you things like, "Get a new Bible every few years. Then God can speak to you in fresh new ways, instead of through those same old underlined verses and notes." My spiritual mom is my 83-years-young Sunday School teacher. While studying Psalm 119 last Sunday, which is an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet, she challenged our class to find a Bible verse for every letter of our alphabet. God spoke to me volumes through this exercise and encouraged me in ways only he can. Here are my results:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. Revelation 7:9 (NIV)
Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. John 14:11 (KJV)
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison and test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10 (NIV)
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee. Deuteronomy 16:17 (KJV)
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." Romans 8:15 (NIV)
God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. Psalm 89:7 (KJV)
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4 (NIV)
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 (NIV)
Jesus answered and said unto them, "This is the work of God, they ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John 6:29 (KJV)
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3 (KJV)
Lord, thou has been our dwelling place in all generations. Psalm 90:1 (KJV)
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling. 2 Corinthians 5:2 (NIV)
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. Revelation 21:27 (NIV)
On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 19:16 (NIV)
Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 106:1 (NIV)
Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth. Psalm 119:88 (KJV)
Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous; and praise his holy name. Psalm 97:12 (NIV)
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Psalm 100:1 (NIV)
The LORD is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1 (NIV)
Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. Psalm 25:1 (KJV)
The Voice of the LORD is powerful, the voice of the LORD is majestic. Psalm 29:4 (NIV)
We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV)
EXalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy. Psalm 99:5 (NIV)
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:18 (NIV)
Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness. Isaiah 1:27 (NIV)

photo courtesy of

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What is the secret to hearing the voice of the Lord?

The strange scene at the beginning of the book of Ezekiel holds a secret as to how we can get the voice of the Lord and the ability to hear it. Ezekiel 1:25 says, "And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings." Just like a bird resting on a branch, the secret is found in the fact that for the angels to let down their wings they must be still.

For my 2010 jubilee year (this year I turned the big 50) the Lord prompted me to take a sabbatical to rest and heal from the trauma of 2008-09. Since the new year broke, God has repeatedly sent me the message to "Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10. He sends me this message over and over through e-mails, in the various devotions I read, through reading other's blogs, and many other ways. If it doesn't come up in my heart, He manages to get it before my eyes at least every other day. Last Wednesday was the most creative and made me smile. Driving home from meeting with a friend, I managed to get behind a Honda CRV from close to my home in Florida. I couldn't believe my eyes. There on their tire cover were the words big and bold--BE STILL AND KNOW! Have you ever in your life seen those words on a tire cover?

Then today I read a beautiful poem my Streams in the Desert Devotional:

Be still! Just now be still!

Something thy soul hath never heard,

Something unknown to any song of bird,

Something unknown to any wind, or wave, or star,

A message from the Fatherland afar,

That with sweet joy the homesick soul shall thrill,

Cometh to thee if thou canst but be still.

Be still! Just now be still!

There comes a presence very mild and sweet;

White are the sandals of His noiseless feet.

It is the Comforter whom Jesus sent

To teach thee what the words He uttered meant.

The willing, waiting spirit, He doth fill.

If thou would'st hear His message,

Dear soul, be still!

O Dear Jesus, I understand you want me to be still, otherwise you wouldn't send me your message over and over. Thank you for sending the Comforter to teach me what the words you uttered while here on earth meant. I am willing. I am waiting. I trust you to fulfill and heal me to shine like a star in the universe as I hold out the word of life (Phil. 2:15-16). Speak to my listening heart, Lord. Yes, speak to my listening heart. I have made up my mind to cease striving and be still. Amen.
Picture courtesy of by Stephie 189

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Do you believe?

On a beautiful flower poster of "words to live by" I read: "Believe that love is forever and forever you will be in love." Will just believing really keep you in love? The word believe can mean so much more than to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, especially in the New Testament Greek. The word believe in Greek is pisteuo (pist- yoo'-o). It means to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing); by implication to entrust (especially one's spiritual well being to Christ).

My favorite verse on believing is John 6:29. One day some followers asked Jesus, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" (verse 28) Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent" (John 6:29). When I read this verse in the Amplified version it gives me the full scope of what pisteuo really means: Jesus replied, "This is the work (service) that God asks of you, that you believe in the One Whom He has sent-that you cleave to, trust, rely on and have faith in His Messenger" (John 6:29AMP).

Put that way I must ask myself, Do I cleave to Jesus every day? Do I trust in Him for all things? Do I rely on Him for all things? Yes, I have faith in God's messenger, Jesus, but do I really cling to, trust in, and rely on Him all of the time? I must admit I fail at God's work sometimes. I get forgetful and start clinging to my kids or my husband. I get anxious and scared and stop trusting in the only One who can take care of me. I even rely on my friends and family to listen to me when I'm hurting, instead of the One who gives peace that passes understanding.

My dearest Lord Jesus,
Thank you for loving me with an everlasting love, even when I mess up. Thank you for forgiving me when I fail to do your the one work you require. When I believe in (cling to, trust in, and rely on) the One who is love, I truly will be in love forever and live with You for eternity. O Jesus, give me the strength I need to believe more and more as each day passes--until we meet face to face. Oh how I look forward to that day. In your precious name I pray. Amen.
Photo by Greg Schulz

Saturday, April 17, 2010

You do not have because you do not ask!

We are loaded down with cares--for our children, our work, our homes. How many times do we forget to ask God because we feel like our concerns are too little to mention or we just don't take the time to sit down and pray?

I read about a visual example of not having answers to prayer because we don't ask recently that stuck with me (in a devotion by Charles H. Spurgeon on James 4:2). Spurgeon told a story of an angel of mercy who flies around the homes of God's people and brings an abundance of precious blessings. Sometimes while we sleep, the angel of mercy hovers on soft wings, but there are no empty containers in which to pour the blessings. Later, the angel visits another home, where in their prayers, the residents set out a number of empty containers. The angel fills the containers from the supply of overflowing mercy, and when the petitioners awake they find an abundant supply of rich grace. Mind pictures like this one have lasting affects on me. I love them!

Oh Dear Lord,

I don't want to forget to put out my containers by having feeble wishes, small desires, and slender prayers, or hardly any prayer at all. Oh God, like the disciples in Luke 17:5 asked, "Show me how to increase my faith." With stronger faith I will hold on to my big desires, earnest prayer, and great expectations. I will make sure I put out my containers tonight for your angel of mercy to fill with your abundant supply of rich grace and whatever else you have in store for me. In your precious name I pray. Amen.

Picture courtesy of "An angel made of cloud" by Jonina

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Be Still and Know

"Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

How do you sit still in a world that is always running at full speed? Nevertheless, in order to truly know God, inward stillness is absolutely necessary. When emergencies arise my first instinct is flight. Every part of my being throbs with anxiety, and yet circumstances are usually out of my control.

Sit still for more than a second and you will hear God's still small voice say, "Be still, and know that I am God." There is a perfect passivity which is not indolence. It is a living stillness born of faith and trust in our almighty God. Quiet tension is not trust. It is simply compressed anxiety.

Not in the tumult of the rending storm,

Not in the earthquake or devouring flame;

But in the hush that could all fear transform,

The still, small whisper to the prophet came.

O Soul, keep silence on the mount of God,

Though cares and needs throb around like a sea;

From supplications and desires unshod,

Be still, and hear what God shall say to thee.

All fellowship hath interludes of rest,

New strength maturing in each poise of power;

The sweetest Alleluias of the blest

Are silent, for the space of half an hour.

O rest, in utter quietude of soul,

Abandon words, leave prayer and praise awhile;

Let thy whole being, hushed in His control,

Learn the full meaning of His voice and smile.

Not as an athlete wrestling for a crown,

Not taking Heaven by violence of will;

But with thy Father as a child sit down,

And know the bliss that follows his "Be Still!"

-Mary Rowles Jarvis

*picture from our vacation: Fernandina Beach, Florida, sunset

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I Can See Clearly Now

"I can see clearly now," my niece, Shanna's, facebook status read. Shanna just had Lasik eye surgery and can see great without glasses or contacts for the first time since she was eight years old. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NLT) says, "Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely."

One day soon we will have full body Lasik surgery, physically and spiritually. Oh, what a day that will be! As I prepare for Easter the excitement grows for Jesus' return. As we walk through this world of trial and sorrow, half blind or impaired in other ways, we can look forward to the day we shall see Him face to face. We will be perfect and complete in every way.

"Just a-wearying for you,

Jesus, Lord, beloved and true;

You'll be coming back again,

Under all I say and do,

Just a-wearying for you."

"Some glad day, all watching past,

You will come for me at last;

Then I'll see you, hear your voice,

Be with you, with you rejoice;

How the sweet hope thrills me through,

Sets me wearying for you."*

*Poem from devotional, Streams in the Desert (March 27), by Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman

Family picture of Shanna (before she threw away her glasses) with her firstborn child, Olivia, who was born 12/16/2009. Shanna can now see Olivia grow up with perfect clarity, without the aid of glasses. Praise the Lord for the blessings he gives while we wait for our full body overhaul!

Monday, March 22, 2010

From the Trash Heap to Fame

A black man, son of a sharecropper, wanted to buy a home in rural South Carolina. The neighbors worried that if he moved next door to them, he wouldn't take care of his house and yard. Determined to prove them wrong, he worked 12 hour shifts, 4 days a week at a can factory and bought a modest home on a few acres in Bishopville, South Carolina. With the exception of attending church, he spent most of his time working in his yard. To grow his treasured garden he went to the local nursery and asked permission to take home the dying plants they had thrown in the trash heap.

The art and beauty this man named Pearl Fryar created with these discarded plants is nothing short of amazing. A self-taught horticulturalist, his 3 acre yard now a famous topiary garden represents one of the most majestic and magnificent gardens I have ever seen. Pearl's garden is a picture of our Redemptive God, the Master Gardener. He seeks the lost and discarded and prunes and trains them to excel beyond their wildest imaginations. The Master Husbandman redeemed me from the trash heap of the world where I lived only for myself. He picked me up, planted me in Georgia and clips away the selfishness, anger, and bitterness that holds me back. He continues to prune me year after year causing me to bear fruit and accomplish things I never thought possible.

Pearl gives us God's perspective on life by saying things like, "There's always gonna be obstacles. The thing is, you don't let those obstacles determine where you go. With our God, "Nothing shall be impossible unto you (Matthew 17:20). So today, welcome the Gardener's pruning. It may hurt for a little while, but the results are worth it all.

"Follow Me, and I will make you" . . .

Make you speak My words with power,

Make you channels of My mercy,

Make you helpful every hour.

"Follow Me, and I will make you" . . .

Make you what you cannot be-

Make you loving, trustful, godly,

Make you even like to Me. *

Pearl and his mastery of horticulture have given him much acclaim. So renowned for his topiary skills, he recently appeared in a John Deere commercial. For more information about Pearl Fryar rent the documentary, "A Man Named Pearl" or visit his website at:

*Poem from Streams in the Desert devotional by L.S.P. (full name not given)
Picture of one of Pearl's topiaries found at - Image results for Pearl Fryar

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another Sleepless Night?

Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep? I'm sure you have. We all experience this problem every now and then. I can't remember who gave me this very effective advise, but it works. When you can't get to sleep, start praising God A-Z. You choose a name or word to praise God for from from A all the way to Z. You have to get creative in some spots. Here are some of my favorites: I praise you God for being . . .
ALPHA and Omega,
EMMANUEL, God with Us,
NISSI, our Banner of Victory,
The times I have made it to Z (and I have a few times), I am so encouraged. I know I can rest easy trusting God to do what he does best, without me worrying about it. I usually fall asleep in his arms soon after.

I hope this works for you, too.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Left Alone

Left Alone! These words conjure up different emotions in each of us. Some of us hate to be alone, others relish it. To be left alone without God, would be horrible. But when we get alone with Him, great things happen.
  • Jacob became a prince (Genesis 32:22-32).
  • The greatest miracles of Elijah and Elisha took place (1 & 2 Kings).
  • Joshua received successful battle strategies (Joshua 5-6).
  • Gideon and Jephthah were commissioned to save Israel (Judges 6:11-12 & 11:29).
  • Moses called to lead Israel out of captivity (Exodus 3:1-10).
  • Cornelius learns he must call Peter to hear the good news of the Gospel (Acts 10).
  • Peter learns he must share the Gospel with Cornelius and all gentiles (Acts 10).
  • John the Baptist grew strong in spirit alone in the desert (Luke 1:80).
  • John the Beloved closest to God on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1).

Jesus himself set this example. The Gospels record many times when he got alone to pray. Just like he did for the Patriarchs listed above, I trust he has mighty purposes in mind for us behind the command, "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen" (Matthew 5:6).

This remains the goal of my ministry, to stay inspired myself and to help others to stay inspired to get alone with God and listen. Revisiting these old stories did it for me! There is nothing in this world like spending time with Jesus! Won't you stop right now and spend some quality time with our precious Savior?

If chosen men (and women) had never been alone,
In deepest silence open-doored to God,
No greatness ever had been dreamed or done.*
*from Streams in the Desert (February 27), page 65

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Fight to Remain Healed

Have you ever felt like you have to fight to remain healed? I felt this way this weekend. I have struggled for some time with the ill affects of an addicted loved one. Jesus healed me last October when he connected his command "to turn the other cheek" (Matthew 5:39) with the counseling term detachment. He taught me that I must disconnect for the agony of involvement with the substance abuser to protect my mind and heart from the stress connected to loving someone in this condition.

Jesus is also teaching me that healing, most of the time, is not immediate, but a process. I know I am supposed to love and forgive, but a problem arises, however, when my healing wounds are sliced opened again by hurtful words and repeated accusations. I am thanking and praising our great God in heaven that in the midst of the pain of reopened wounds, he gives me his powerful promises found in his word. He not only gives us his word, but he also gives us comfort through his beautiful creation. I spent this weekend on my farm riding horses with my daughter on our winding trails (photo above).

One devotion I read sent me to Psalm 141:8-10: But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge--do not give me over to death. Keep me from the snares they have laid for me (the ones that cause my wounds not to finish healing), from the traps set by evildoers. Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by in safety. I'm also figuring out that I must not step into the traps set before me. Then I won't get hurt. God is good all of the time.

O Dear Lord Jesus,
I am holding on tight to your promises. Keep me from falling into snares that cause my wounds to re-open before they are completely healed. I trust you and only you to help me through this fight to remain healed. You healed me and no one or no thing can take that away from me. I love you Lord. You are my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? You LORD, are the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh (or to slander me), when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall (Psalm 27:1-2). In your precious name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ran into any closed doors lately?

During my quiet time this morning I received great encouragement for moving forward in my efforts to get my Bible studies published, even though I don't see how this will ever happen. A good friend of mine is going through the same thing. What about you? Have you ran into any closed doors in your life or ministry? Are you out of work and opportunities to work are almost impossible to find? Has the Lord closed the door on a ministry you thought for sure you were supposed to do?

The apostle Paul faced the same closed doors. Acts 16:6 records: "Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. Just like he did for Paul, God guides and directs us through closed and open doors.

I found an antique devotional book (from 1925) in my mother's things that I am using during my quiet time for 2010 called, Streams in the Desert. I'd heard of it before, but now I know it must be a Christian classic because I found it in the book section yesterday at Costco. Only the best sellers make it for sale at Costco. It has been excellent so far. God used it to speak to me this morning when at the close of the day's devotional regarding closed doors it included the anonymous poem below:

Is there some problem in your life to solve,
Some passage seeming full of mystery?
God knows, who brings the hidden things to light.
He keeps the key.

Is there some door closed by the Father’s hand
Which widely opened you had hoped to see?
Trust God and wait—for when He shuts the door
He keeps the key.

Is there some earnest prayer unanswered yet,
Or answered NOT as you had thought ‘twould be?
God will make clear His purpose by-and-by.
He keeps the key.

Have patience with your God, your patient God,
All wise, all knowing, no long tarrier He,
And of the door of all thy future life
He keeps the key.

Unfailing comfort, sweet and blessed rest,
To know of EVERY door He keeps the key.
That He at last when just HE sees ‘tis best,
Will give it THEE.


Be blessed and please don't ever give up!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Are All of Your Family Members Saved?

While going through some old papers trying to get organized I found a dog-eared, highlighted wonderful article that I prayed over years ago. I'm so glad I found it again, because I really need it right now. The question in my title comes from Moishe Rosen's (founder of Jews for Jesus) opening paragraph. He wrote,

"I know that I'm a religious fanatic because if we are just meeting, I'll ask you: "Are all of your family members saved?" I am not asking to satisfy my curiosity. To me, the goal of this life is to be saved, sanctified and serving God.

The point of Moishe's article is to help us understand that when parents say things like, "My children professed Christ at an early age, but are not walking with the Lord," we need to stop, look, and listen! We may be grasping at strands of wishful thinking. The world, the flesh, and the devil conspire to keep us from praying at all or to pray amiss.

One way that people pray amiss is to ask that adult children come back to the Lord when they have shown no interest in Him since early childhood. Moishe's urgent advice is: Don't pray for them to come back to the Lord; pray for them to come to the Lord. You can't revive what is not alive.

I am dealing with this situation in my son's life right now. I must face reality and not hold onto the delusion that he is saved, but not walking. He has not shown any interest in Jesus since childhood and when we joined our present church in 2005 as a family, he refused to have any part of it. It's been years now since he has attended church.

What about your family members? Are you praying for them amiss like me? I've decided not to pray that way anymore. While walking in faith, I'm choosing to take the following steps when I pray for my lost loved ones:

Step #1. I'm praying that God will give me strength to endure and to undertake these prayers for lost loved ones as a regular burden.

Step #2. I'm giving my loved ones over to God, that God may speak to them in whatever way He chooses and in whatever circumstances it takes to bring them to Him.

Step #3. I'm choosing not to persuade them in my own power. It is not up to me to try to drive them towards repentance. I understand and acknowledge that they need the moving of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Step #4. I'm deciding to be clear about the term "Christian." A Christian is a follower of Christ, not someone who says, "I believe in God."

Step #5. I'm willing to repeat all of these steps until I see evidence of their salvation. I am trusting my loved ones to the Lord and am accepting His timing and His method of reaching them.

photo of "Salvation Mountain" courtesy of buzzymt, Salvation Mountain is a completely man made mountain just outside of Niland, CA. It is made of adobe, tires, branches, hay, car windows, and thousands of gallons of paint. The artist is Leonard Knight.

Friday, January 15, 2010

How much do you really listen?

Have you ever waited for a pause in the conversation so you can insert your own thought or opinion? I'm ashamed to answer, "I have." Real listening cannot happen when we have an agenda. We cannot listen when we presume to have a solution before the problem has even been explored. I get extremely frustrated when doctors treat me this way. Yet, if I'm honest with myself, I do this reflexive kind of listening more often than not. Reflexive listening is simply jumping at your chance to insert something into the conversation.

Research shows that doctors begin to diagnose a patient within three minutes of entering the room. No wonder we have thousands upon thousands of patient getting sicker and dying from iatrogenic illnesses. Iatrogenic is a fancy word for, the doctor made a big mistake. Could it be these doctors make fatal errors because they never really listen to the description of their patients symptoms?

Jesus repeatedly says throughout his ministry, "He who has ears, let him hear." We all have ears, so how do we "let them hear?" Jesus wants us to use our ears intelligently by training them to listen in a reflective way instead of the common reflexive way. Reflective listening occurs when we pause and consider what has been said and are able to repeat it back accurately to the speaker. This is a great way to improve our communication skills with not only people, but when we talk with God while reading his word. Just think about how are understanding would improve if we would hold back from inserting what’s rattling around in our brain and reflect on what is being said or as God speaks, what he has written.

Dear Jesus, Please teach me how to break away from the way most of us listen and begin to reflectively hear what you and your people have to say. In your precious name I pray. Amen.

photo courtesy of by McAzadi

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ever Felt Like Giving Up in Prayer?

If you are like me, and have had your moments when you felt like your prayers were never going to be answered, read on. Charles Haddon Spurgeon will encourage you in a special way today through his devotion entitled, Intercession found in his book, Beside Still Waters. He wrote the following about prayer and never giving up:

Never give up praying, even when Satan suggests that prayer is in vain. Pray in his teeth. "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). If the heavens are brass and your prayer only echoes above your head, pray on! If month after month your prayer appears to have miscarried, if you have had no answer, continue to draw close to the Lord. Do not abandon the mercy seat for any reason. If it is a good thing that you have been asking for, and if you are sure it is according to the divine will, wait, tarry, pray, weep, plead, wrestle, and agonize until you get what you are praying for.
If your heart is cold, do not wait until your heart warms. Pray your soul into heat with the help of the ever-blessed Holy Spirit, who helps in our weakness, who makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26).
Never cease prayer for any reason. If the philosopher tells you that every event is fixed and that prayer cannot possibly change anything, go on praying. If you cannot reply to every difficulty that man suggests, resolve to be obedient to the divine will. "Pray without ceasing." Never, never, never renounce the habit of prayer or your confidence in its power.
Praying confidently without ceasing with you. Always Listen, Susan
picture by jadgraphics, courtesy of