Archive for August, 2013

Poems: He Was There and My All and All

He Was There (Exodus 33:14)

Jesus heard when you prayed last night,

He talked with God about you;

Jesus was there when you fought that fight.

He is going to bring you through.

Jesus knew when you shed those tears,

But you did not weep alone;

For the burden you thought too heavy to bear,

He made His very own.

Jesus Himself was touched by that trial,

Which you could not understand;

Jesus stood by as you almost fell,

And lovingly grasped your hand.

Jesus cared when you bore that pain;

Indeed He bore it too;

He felt each pang, ache in your heart,

Because of His love for you.

Jesus was grieved when you doubted His love,

But He gave you grace to go on;

Jesus rejoiced as you trusted Him,

The only Trustworthy One.

His Presence shall even be with you,

No need to be anxious or fret;

Wonderful Lord! He was there all the tine,

He has never forsaken you yet.

 This poem was sent to me  in 1991 by missionary Mary Baker. It was written by Mrs. Nell Hawkins,  Liverpool, England

My All and All 

Lord, You are my soul’s refuge and delight,

In my affliction, it is upon You that I call;

My comfort by day and my song in the night,

Lord, you are my salvation, my all and all.

My All and All was taken from  Gary Smith’s book Life Changing Thoughts 

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The Cross Is No Ordinary Life

I was moved when I read this illustration  this morning.  This illustration was taken from today’s Open Door’s  devotion  Standing Strong Through the Storm by Paul Estabrooks.

THE CROSS – NO ORDINARY LIFE   An Open Doors co-worker shared this personal experience from the Middle East:

The serenity of the pastor walking beside us seemed to calm the hustle and the bustle of the small village. He suddenly came to a stop, carefully looked around and then said, “Some time ago, exactly on the spot where you are standing now, a Christian brother was slaughtered to death because of his faith. He was abducted and brought here to be executed. Life in a mid-east village like this is not easy if you confess Jesus to be the Son of God. It could cost you your life.”

I looked at this servant of Christ and asked him the obvious question “Why do you choose to live here? Why do you choose to follow Christ under such severe circumstances?”

Without hesitation he looked at me and his reply became a challenge and guideline for my walk with the Lord, even if it is in the safety of my home. He replied “I refuse to live an ordinary life in Christ.”

As Christians we are called to refuse an ordinary life in Christ. We are commanded to reject worldly standards, to reject mediocrity, to reject compromise and to value people more than possessions, even more than our own lives.

To truly follow Jesus means His will is more important than my life. As well, while alive, I must adopt a lifestyle that puts people ahead of possessions, even one of my most valuable possessions—time! We tend to cherish stuff and comfort more than souls. In the Shepherd of Hermes, an early church writing, we are urged, “Instead of fields, buy souls that are in trouble according to your ability.”

RESPONSE: Today amid the comforts of my environment I will refuse to live an ordinary life but seek to be more like Jesus.

PRAYER: Lord, I want to live the Jesus way, valuing people more than things even to the point of sacrifice. Help me to escape the bonds of the ordinary Christian life.

Although there is not a pastor’s wife description in the Bible, many churches have high expectations for her.   She is expected to be the perfect wife, be a teacher and home school her children,  be the church secretary, be a friend to everyone (but  never have a best friend) , coordinate all the church events, organize women’s ministry activities and banquets, coordinate wedding showers and weddings, organize and host baby showers, and  organize and prepare meals for those who have had deaths or serious illnesses in their families.  Many of these expectations are unfair and unbiblical.

All pastor’s wives are different.  Some are introverts, while others are extroverts.  Some love having guests in their homes, while others shutter at the thought of it. Some can sing and play an instrument, but there are those who can’t sing or play an instrument. Some love to teach women,  yet some find it very difficult to stand in front of women and speak.  God has gifted each pastor’s wife with different gifts and strengths. When church members place unrealistic expectations on their pastor’s wife, these expectations can make a pastor’s wife think she is inadequate for the position, and feel like she is a failure in her duties. The most important thing you can do for your pastor’s wife  is to have realistic expectations for her.

Here are some realistic expectations you can should have  for your pastor’s wife.

  • To love the Lord
  • To love and respect her husband
  • To use the gifts the Lord has given  her to serve Him
  • To train her children to love the Lord
  • To cultivate in her children’s lives their God-given gifts,  so that they can use their gifts to serve and glorify the Lord in the church

The world and the devil are full of discouragers.  Look for some way this week to encourage your pastor’s wife.  A small act of kindness could make all the difference in the world to her.

Here are a few ways to encourage your pastor’s wife.

  • Have realistic expectations for her
  • Pray for her—the demands are great!
  • Give her a small gift to show your appreciation for her service
  • Mail her an encouraging note
  • Give her words of affirmation when you talk with her
  • Text her and let her know that you are praying for her
  • Take her out for coffee or lunch
  • Do something nice for her children

 

The Preacher’s Wife

You may think it quite an easy task
And just a pleasant life
But really it takes a lot of grace
To be a preacher’s wife.
She’s suppose to be a paragon
Without a fault in view,
A saint when in the parsonage
As well as in the pew.
Her home must be a small hotel
For folks that chance to roam,
And yet have peace and harmony—
The perfect preacher’s home!
Whenever groups are called to meet,
Her presence must be there,
And yet the members all agree
She should live a life of prayer.
Though hearing people’s burdens,
Their grief both night and day,
She’s supposed to spread the sunshine
To those along the way.
She must lend a sympathetic ear
To every tale of woe,
And then forget about it,
Lest it to others go.
Her children must be models rare
Of quietness and poise,
But still stay on the level
With other girls and boys.
You may think it quite an easy task,
And just a pleasant life,
But really it takes a lot of grace
To be a preacher’s wife!

Do I Have Abiding Love for Those Who Offend Me?

Abiding means enduring, remaining surviving, long-lasting, steadfast. The opposite of having ‘abiding love’ is harboring a spirit of bitterness.

 My husband took a business trip with a good friend a few years ago. During that trip, my husband was not feeling well, and he made a few curt remarks to his friend. When my husband returned home from his trip, he began thinking of the uncharitable attitude he exhibited with his friend. He called his friend to ask him to forgive him for his rude remarks. My husband’s friend said in a humorous way—it just DON’T matter! My husband questioned him and said, “Why DON’T it matter?” His friend replied, “Because I have chosen you to be my friend—and nothing you do can change that!”

What a great example of a friend’s ‘abiding love.  This is the kind of love that we should demonstrate to our mates, our friends, our parents, and our children.

How can I experience this kind of love?

First, if I have ‘abiding love’, I will consider my own attitudes. Before I can see clearly to take the speck out of someone else’s eye, I must first take the beam out of my own eye.

Matthew 7:5  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Psalms 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if [there be any] wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

If  I let my mind dwell on the specks (faults) in others, I will become bitter  and begin to feel like Jeremiah.  His bitterness showed that he had no peace, and that he had forgotten happiness.

Lamentations 3:17 And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity.  And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:

Bitterness will make me think sinful thoughts of anger, wrath, clamor, slander, and possibly malice.  When I harbor bitterness, it can hurt many people.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Second, if I have ‘abiding love’, I will be willing to go the second mile. When I begin to feel bitter against someone,  I should be willing to do something nice for that person.  I  could make a second mile investment by preparing a special meal or buying a gift for him.

God’s word tells me in Matthew 5:41 And whosoever shall compel (require) thee to go a mile, go with him twain (two).

Even if I don’t feel that my children, my friends, or my husband deserve my ‘abiding love’, I must choose to prove my love to them.  If I want something done for me, I should be willing to do the same thing for that person who has irritated me or made me angry.  I must not just read the Lord’s admonitions, but I must be willing to put His precepts into practice in my life.

Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Third, if I have ‘abiding love’, I will not complain or grumble about others. ‘Abiding love’ is patient.  By the act of my will—whether I feel like it or not— I must choose bitterness or ‘abiding love’.  The choice is up to me.  I can choose to get angry and bitter and spout off to someone,  or I can choose keep quiet and obey God.

James 1:19-20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Fourth, if I have ‘abiding love’, I will be kind.  I can show kindness by the way I speak to others.  I must always try to control my speech and speak in a gentle tone of voice. I need to remember that kindness will draw people to me, but criticism, harshness, and gossip will push them away.  When I am kind to those who irritate me, it not only helps my attitude, but it also helps the other person want to do better.  Doesn’t God’s goodness lead us to want to do better?

Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Fifth, if I have ‘abiding love’, I will not boast or brag. The Greek word for “brag” means to talk conceitedly. Conceit is an excessive appreciation of one’s own worth.  II Corinthians 10:17 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

A person who has an arrogant heart will be full of self-importance. He will be opinionated and get defensive when someone disagrees, reproves, or corrects him. When a person acts like he knows it all, it reveals pride. ‘Abiding love’ will seek to act proper in all circumstances, to respect the opinions of others,  and to promote the happiness of others.

Although I am sure that offences will come into my life,  I must not let those offences make me bitter.  I must take my bitter thoughts captive and replace them with patient, positive thoughts.

 Examples of  Replacing Bitter Thoughts with Positive ‘Abiding Love’ Thoughts 

“My friend may not be in a good mood, but I am not going to avoid her because ‘abiding love’ is not rude.'”

 “I can show love to my teenager by listening to him in a patient manner because ‘abiding love is patient.'”

 “Although every day I righteously endure a difficult boss, I want to show ‘abiding love’ to my co-workers. Please Lord, help Your ‘abiding love’ to endure all things.'”

 “I am not going to keep thinking about what she did to me because ‘abiding love does not keep account of wrongs suffered.'”

 “Since I can’t prove otherwise, I am going to show love to her by ‘believing the best.'”

 “I am going to show love to my husband because ‘abiding love’ is not full of pride and does not seek its own way…'”

It is not always easy to exhibit ‘abiding love’. Putting on this kind of love is done by an act of our wills—we must choose to express ‘abiding love’.