Victor Hugo said, "The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves."
I mention this because it seems to me that only the Christian faith gives us precisely such assurance of being loved. Only Jesus Christ, in dying for us who were rebellious, unlovely, and sinful, demonstrated the supreme love that can give us the supreme happiness.
God, who knows our every thought, who knows us just as we are, not as we would like to be or wish we were--died to win us for heaven, and for Himself.
"Oh, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us!"
Friday, May 28, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
"The Armed Man Will Not Harm You"
Years ago I was told this true story, and it has never left my mind, though the names of the people involved have long been lost to me. I can't even remember who told it to me, but it was during a Bible Study somewhere.
There was a visiting evangelist at a church one Sunday who offered to pray for anyone who came up and knelt on the step that ran across the front of the podium area. The Pastor's daughter was one who went up for prayer. As the man made his way across the kneeling saints, praying for healing for one, for blessing on another, he was also "operating" in the gift of the Spirit, a thing which he had painstakingly explained to the congregation beforehand. His emphasis was on the gift of the Word of Knowledge, sometimes called the gift of prophecy.
When he reached the pastor's daughter, he prayed over her and then, very distinctly and clearly pronounced, with his hand upon her head, "The armed man will not harm you." He moved on, and when the girl got home she and her family discussed what the meaning of these cryptic words might be. What armed man? Why would she encounter such a person, and where?
The years went by and they remembered these words less and less, no longer discussing their possible meaning. If anything, they assumed the evangelist had made an error in her case.
A few more years went by, and the daughter took a job for a company where her responsibilities included taking the weekly receipts and depositing them in a nearby bank. She did this every Friday and had never encountered a problem. But one day, as soon as she pulled up in her car and had parked in the lot, there was suddenly a man at the door of her car. He had a gun and he was pointing it straight at her head. He demanded that she hand over that heavy, leather bag which held the company's money.
For a second, she wavered. Why not give it to him? Surely the money wasn't worth sacrificing her life for. But for some reason, and she wasn't sure herself what made her do it, she ignored him. She got out of her car, and he pressed the gun into her side, demanding she give him the money. But she felt strongly she did not need to. It was almost as though invisible hands were at her sides, moving her along, and she simply turned, behaving as though he wasn't even there, and started walking for the bank. Each step strengthened her conviction that she was doing the right thing, and she was hardly even frightened.
She didn't turn around but thought she may have heard him running away.
It was only later on when she and her family were discussing the matter, that someone remembered the evangelist's words: The armed man will not harm you.
Has God given you a few words that you know you must cling to, even though you aren't sure what they mean for you, at this point in your life? He told me about a year ago to "strengthen the things that remain." This made no particular sense to me, and I have puzzled over it many times.
Yesterday morning I was praying and it all fell into place. It made perfect sense. There are things I need to strengthen, and the Lord reminded me of this while I was praying about things I feel I have lost. Well, life does bring loss. Sometimes God restores things, replaces things, and sometimes He doesn't. I need to accept that some losses will never be replaced. Not in this life, anyway.
And yet, I can focus on things that remain, and even strengthen them. It takes work and study and effort to strengthen them, so I'm thankful He gave me this word. It will help me to follow through with it.
What word or phrase has He given you? At the right time, the meaning will become clear. Hold onto it and hope, for He is faithful.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
YES, I CAN!
We Are Able
Hello from Bonnie in rainy Southern Oregon.
How often do you feel unfit to fulfill the call of God on your life? Once a month? Once a week? Once a day? More than that? I don’t keep track, but I know I frequently doubt my abilities as a writer, a teacher, mentor, wife and mother. When I don’t reach my expectations I feel I’ve failed. We’re all uncertain, some of the time, about our skills and our readiness to fulfill obligations. I believe our lack of confidence exists because we rely upon the wrong power source.
We tell ourselves we’re not smart enough, not capable enough, not gifted enough. And we aren’t, not when we rely upon ourselves instead of God. He decided long ago who we would be and what our life should look like. He created us with the gifts and talents and passions he wanted for us. When we can’t see beyond our own vision and desires we restrict the power of God to use us.
I've faced challenges with sucees, but there have been times when I’ve thought, “God you ask too much of me. This is too hard. I can’t do it.” In those moments I am weak and sometimes I've actually felt as if I’ve been set adrift. When I find myself in such a place it’s because I’ve sought strength in myself rather than in Him.
God is our supply. When we seek him with our whole heart and place all that we are in his capable hands, then he will whisper to our spirits, “You can do all things through me,” and we will believe it.
Sometimes we’re going to feel inadequate. It’s okay. We’re just human. But don’t stay in that place, trapped by unreasonable expectations and an inability to produce perfection. God doesn’t ask us to be perfect. He asks us to trust him more than we trust ourselves. When it’s hard to push on, reach for the true source of power. He lives in us and he will supply all our needs.
Seek him first. Never let a lack of natural ability keep you from fulfilling His call. He wouldn’t ask us to give if he hadn’t provided us with what we need.
[This is a reprint from the CAN blog (Christian Authors' Network) by Bonnie Leon.]
Posted at 02:27 PM in Bonnie Leon | Permalink
Thursday, May 06, 2010
Is God Sovereign Over Human Disability?
This is a reprint from http://www.desiringGod.org/blog/, which is the blog of John Piper. I've been struggling with this question a bit lately, and I appreciated this "commentary" of Knight's. Please note that I changed one little thing: He had written "Apert Syndrome," but since one of my children has Asperger's Syndrome, I inserted it instead.
Posted: 05 May 2010 11:30 PM PDT
(Author: John Knight)
Yes he is. He tells us so in Scripture:
Then the Lord said to (Moses), "Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?" (Exodus 4:11)
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him." (John 9:1-3)
To be clear, God's sovereignty doesn't mean he merely permits disability. These verses show us that he sovereignly intends it, both for his glory and for our good—"that the works of God might be displayed."
With that in mind, what do you think about this expansion of Psalm 139:13-16? I've added some additional descriptors in italics to bring out what we really mean if we believe that God is sovereign over disability:
For you formed my inward parts with Down syndrome;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb without eyes.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made with cognitive challenges.
Wonderful are your works in creating me without limbs;
my soul knows it very well though my ears will never hear a sound.
My frame was not hidden from you as you made me with Asperger's Syndrome,
when I was being made in secret with autism,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth without Hexosaminidase A.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance with spina bifida;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me with cerebral palsy,
when as yet there was none of them.