Being Small and Despised Isn’t So Bad

Friday is for Heart Songs

praying the psalms

“I am” declarations in Psalm 119:

  • “I am a stranger in the earth”   vs. 19
  • “I am the companion of all those who fear You”   vs. 63
  • “I am Yours”   vs. 94
  • “I am exceedingly afflicted”   vs. 107
  • “I am Your servant”   vs. 125
  • “I am small and despised”   vs. 141

If I am a stranger in the earth it is because I am a citizen of heaven.
If I am a companion of those who fear God, I will be despised by those who don’t.
If I belong to YHWH I cannot belong to the world.
If I am exceedingly afflicted it is not outside of God’s sovereign and good hand.
If I am the servant of God it is for His purposes that I breathe.
And If I am small and despised it is a reminder that it is for His glory not mine that He has called me to be a stranger on the earth.

Lord, help me to remember the truth of Your word. Help me to declare with the whole of my being what the Psalmist declares here. Make me Your servant for Your purposes, for Your glory. Amen.

Quotes to Rock Your World

Friday is for Heart Songs

Some of the Dogs from Lutheran Ministries (Comfort Dogs)
Some of the Dogs from Lutheran Ministries (Comfort Dogs) 

It has been a busy week of service to the King and our community here at Trinity Church. The flood on the West side of town (#2 in six months period), has brought the Red Cross to our doors and many of our neighbors as well. Volunteers from Trinity, the Red Cross and a host of other agencies (Lutheran Ministries Comfort Dogs for one) have all been working together to care for people and, in our case, represent Christ. Two funeral’s this weekend, hosting the MARC (Multi Agency Resource Center), caring for broken people, preparing messages, elder board meetings, meetings with staff, counseling, studying for up-coming messages, and lots of prayer. It has been full.

In the midst of it all, I read some great things this week that nurtured my soul. Others that challenged my heart, or broke my heart, inspired my spirit or just seemed like the right word at the right moment. Here’s a few to encourage you in your weekend.

George Orwell’s vision of the future from the novel 1984:

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face– for ever.”

Contrast that with Jesus’s truth statement about the future of those who call Him their Lord from John 14:2.

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you.”

This one broke my heart out the mouth of Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) in the movie Intersteller. (Highly recommended.)

“After you kids came along, your Mom said said something I never quite understood: Now we’re just here to become memories for our children,’ until now.”

John Piper has been an inspiration for me for nearly 35 years. Here’s another great quote from his God-entranced vision of the Christian life.

“If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”

And this great statement on the importance of the cross in our daily meditation from Erik Raymond including a link back to the entire article. (Worth your time.)

“It should come as no surprise to us who are Christians to find that Satan’s chief temptation of us is to have us forget the cross. Satan is not so concerned with moral living as much as moral living apart from Jesus. Satan is not concerned with emptying churches of people as much as he is emptying the pulpit of the cross of Christ. Satan is not so concerned with busy church calendars as much as he is with busy churches that have assumed or forgotten the cross. Satan is not so concerned with people who pray as much as he is concerned with people who pray broken, grace-grasping, desperate prayers in the shadow of the cross.

We are not ignorant of his schemes (2 Cor. 2.11). If Satan can’t destroy you he is content to simply divert you.”

—Erik Raymond 
(Link to article)

Overheard Wisdom for the Weekend

Overheard Wisdom

Hope balloon

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.”

Rick Warren

“When it comes to giving until it hurts, most people have a very low threshold of pain.”

Anonymous

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician [dabbler in the occult] with the same delight.”

C.S. Lewis, in the Preface to
The Screwtape Letters

“Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining.”

Anonymous

Tertullian on Hope

Affliction Cannot Extinguish Our Joy

Friday is for Heart Songs

No affliction can extinguish our joy because Christmas joy led, in the fullness of time, to resurrection rejoicing.

Sorrowful yet always Rejoicing

2 Corinthians 6:3–10 (ESV)

We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

The incarnation, what Christmas is all about, starts with angels announcing joy, then travels through the family’s flight to Egypt and sorrow of Bethlehem’s infants, through the obscurity of Nazareth, to a Roman instrument of torture and death, into the dark dampness of a rock-tombed grave, and back to the joy of the resurrection.

God become man, enfleshed, incarnated, made like one of us to satisfy all the requirements of the the Law so that we might be made right with God and experience shalom. Almost 200 references to “shalom” in the Old Testament and 70 percent of them identify with the presence of God–another reason our Lord is called Emmanuel, God with us, and the Prince of Peace.

Even in our sorrow, no matter what the cause of our sorrow, we are “always rejoicing.” This is the birthright of the people of God.

Revival: Could it Happen Here?

Friday is for Heart Songs

Welsh Revival 2

No one who reads the Bible, no one one knows the history of the church, no one who is a follower of Christ can doubt that the nation needs revival. But what will it take? What might be the start of revival of real abandoned-to-Christ discipleship that is sorely needed in our time?

I don’t know all of the things that it might take but one thing I am sure of, the God who has revived dead, dying, lifeless, apathetic churches in the past is the same God that calls us to Himself today. Will we heed the call? The jury is still out. We don’t know.

But perhaps a look back at a past revival might begin to stir the fires in some Christ-followers to begin to seek the living God with passion. “Oh God, bend us to such a project. What You did in Wales in the past, would You do in America in our day?”

This morning in my devotions I was reading in Psalm 119. Verse 136 spurred my heart to prayer.

My eyes shed streams of tears,
.       because people do not keep Your law. 

My journal entry was short:  “Is this not what is missing in our time? Oh God, where is the lament of your people over the rebellion in our land? Where is mine?”

After my time in the word, I opened my email and found he following account in the Kairos Journal. My hope is that God might use it in some way to light a small match toward a great work of God in the United States.Would you join in praying (until it comes) for an awakening of spiritual passion in the Christians of America?

Revival in Wales, 1904

The second Sunday of February 1904, Florrie Evans rose to speak in a youth meeting at Tabernacle Calvinistic Methodist Church in New Quay, Wales: “I am unable to say very much today but I love the Lord Jesus with all my heart—he died for me.”1 Her words were few, but they were quite enough to spark a nationwide revival, with 85,000 new professions of faith in Christ.

Distressed at the low spiritual state of churches in the area, her pastor, Joseph Jenkins, had scheduled meetings to address the problem. Florrie attended and became convicted of sin. When she sought Jenkins’ counsel, he asked if Jesus was Lord of her life. She delivered her answer at that February youth gathering, and the Word and Spirit spread from that place mightily.

The groundwork laid in previous centuries was considerable. Elizabeth I saw the Bible translated into Welsh in the 16th century.2 In the 17th century, Rees Pritchard put Puritan teaching to rhyme as a memory aid for laymen.3 In the early 18th century, Griffith Jones founded literacy schools, with the Welsh Bible as the text.4 Mid-century, the preaching of Hywel Harris and Daniel Rowland complemented the work of Wesley and Whitefield in England.5 Meanwhile, William Williams, the “Welsh Charles Wesley,” penned such hymns as “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah.”6 With the 19th century came Non-Conformist chapels and preachers, including the Baptist Christmas Evans.7 In 1859, the New York Prayer Revival jumped the Atlantic, adding perhaps 100,000 souls to Welsh churches. But by 1900, liberalism and worldliness had sapped the strength of Welsh Christianity.8

The first Keswick-in-Wales Convention, held in the summer of 1903, stirred the hearts of many young ministers, causing them to yearn for more spiritual power. This was their prayer, and in 1904, this was God’s gift to them.9 The fire was lit in February, and the subsequent blessings were manifold and widespread. Here are some of the more noteworthy features of the revival:

1. The Prayer. Seth Joshua prayed, “Bend us, Oh Lord,” and that became the revival cry.10
2. The Preacher. At Seth Joshua’s and the Holy Spirit’s prompting, Evan Roberts prayed “Bend me, Oh Lord,” and God empowered him to be the revival’s lead preacher.11
3. The Library. Besides the Bible, Evan Roberts credited three books with greatest impact on his ministry: Thomas Charles’ Christian Instructor: A Summary of Christian Teaching, The Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Hymnbook, and John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.12
4. The Healing. When doctors told Roberts’ brother Dan that his eyesight was deteriorating, Evan said the Lord needed him, and his eyes would be healed. They were—immediately.13
5. The Way. Roberts urged hearers to: (1) Confess sin to God as the Spirit reveals it; (2) Remove doubtful things from one’s life; (3) Surrender to the Spirit totally; (4) Confess Christ publicly.14
6. The Revival “Love Song.” Annie Davies’ rendition of “Here Is Love Vast as the Ocean.”15
7. The Political Impact. Welsh MP and later British Prime Minister Lloyd George cancelled political meetings to avoid conflicts with the revival.16
8. The Social Impact. The crime rate dropped, old debts were repaid, ale houses stood empty, and work improved in the mines.17
9. The Unity. Denominational rivalry largely disappeared during the revival.18
10. The Attacks. No work of God would be complete without its detractors. Rev. Peter Price, a Congregational Minister in Dowlais, took to the newspapers to denounce Evan Roberts.19

The revival was a glorious time, but spiritual vitality is not inherited. Today, Wales languishes in spiritual disarray. But God has returned in power to that region repeatedly—in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Now, in the 21st century, it is time once again for urgent utterance of the prayer, “Bend us, Oh Lord.” It appears that great things happen when the people thus petition God.

Footnotes:
1 Kevin Adams and Emyr Jones, A Pictorial History of Revival: The Outbreak of the 1904 Welsh Awakening (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2004), 40-43.
2 Ibid., 20. 3 Ibid., 22. 4 Ibid., 23. 5 Ibid., 24. 6 Ibid. 7 Ibid., 25.
8 Ibid., 30-31. 9 Ibid., 36. 10 Ibid., 65. 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid., 52. 13 Ibid., 75.
14 Ibid., 76. 15 Ibid., 98. 16 Ibid., 93. 17 Ibid., 103, 105, 107. 18 Ibid., 110.
19 Ibid., 114.

Reminding the Heart of What Christmas is All About

Friday is for Heart Songs

Worship at the Manger 3

“We are a people who worship Jesus Christ. Let that sink in. For there are places in the world where that will get you killed. We don’t just

admire Him,
or follow Him,
or swear allegiance to Him.

We worship Jesus.

We worship Him as the eternal, uncreated, omnipotent, all-wise Creator and Sustainer and Redeemer of the universe. He is God, one with the Father and the Spirit. And we worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit–one God, in three divine Persons.”

—John Piper, from an article titled,
“My Abandoned Life for Your Abundant Life”

And that is what Christmas is all about. The “Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6) has arrived.

The Music of the Heart of God?

Friday is for Heart Songs

I am away, making my first ever trip to Israel. While I am gone I have prepared a series of re-posts comprised of some of the most downloaded and viewed pages of the last 5 years.

Keep me in prayer for the next 10 days. I am looking forward to walking the streets of Jerusalem. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).

This particular post, simple as it is, may be the most viewed and downloaded post of all. That is a tribute to some of the 2,500 people that follow the BLOG and passed it on to friends, who passed it on to friends, ….

For more see: The Music of the Heart of God?