Monday, February 28, 2011

Channel of Thy Peace

Lord, make me a channel of Thy peace,
That where there is hatred I may bring love;
That where there is wrong I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
That where there is discord I may bring harmony;
That where there is error I may bring truth;
That where there is doubt I may bring faith;
That where there is despair I may bring hope;
And where there are shadows I may bring Thy light;
That where there is sadness I may bring joy;

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than be comforted,
To understand than be understood,
To love than be loved;

For it is by giving that one receives,
It is by self-forgetting that one finds,
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven,
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.

~St. Francis of Assisi

Friday, February 25, 2011

Voice of One Who Wept

Missions is taking the whole gospel to the whole world by the whole church. Many of us will never reach the mission field on our feet, but we can reach them on our knees.
Today I heard the voice of one
Who wept in far-off lands
Because of sin and misery,
and begged with outstretched hands
For one small lamp to light his dark.

Now fain I would have slept,
So stopped my ears, but in my heart
That sobbing voice still wept.

And then I heard the voice of One who counted not the cost,
But left His ivory palaces to seek and save the lost.
He said, "The sound of one who weeps is coming up to Me.
Dost thou forget that last command which I gave unto thee,
"To preach My Word to all the world?"
...O bitter be our shame!
Still hopeless millions walk the earth
who never heard His name,
And still the world spends lavishly in every crowded mart,
And still the voice of Him who wept is sobbing in my heart!

~Martha Snell Nicholson

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Love in the Darkness

"Corrie," Father ten Boom began, "Do you know what hurts so very much? It's love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain.

"There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or, Corrie, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.

"God loves Karel--even more than you do--and if you ask Him, He will give you His love for this man, a love nothing can prevent, nothing destroy. Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way, Corrie, God can give us His perfect way."

I did not know, as I listened to Father's footsteps winding back down the stairs, that he had given me more than the key to this hard moment. I did not know that he had put into my hands the secret that would open far darker rooms than this--places where there was not, on a human level, anything to love at all."

Corrie ten Boom (The Hiding Place)

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Color of Gentleness

A soft rosy glow has begun to seep into the sky. The blending of pastel color mesmerizes me. As the hues deepen and merge, a sudden splash of sunlight brightens the painting with rays of perfectly placed light.

The splendor of the Creator is reflected in every brush stroke. The heavens are telling of the glory of God. The sunrise is declaring the work of His hands. This is the Lord's doing and it is too marvelous for my eyes.

A masterpiece has been tenderly created while the world is still sleeping. It is humbling to watch a Creator at work. I stand in awe as I see the wonder of another morning floating in quietly on cat paws. Who is man that He is mindful of him? What sort of gentle love patiently creates such a wonder for a people too busy to notice?

You noticed, My child. The people of My possession will look to the sky and hear My voice saying, "Come to Me."

Good morning, Father. It's beautiful. You are the God who loves colors. Thank you.

My promises are new every morning. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Lights in whom there are no variations, no shifting shadows. I am the Bright and Morning Star and My love endures forever.

You are faithful, so gentle and loving toward all You have made. From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, Your Name is to be praised.

Friday, February 18, 2011

His Broken Things

Margaret Snell Nicholson was a woman who suffered from four incurable diseases. She struggled with pain more than thirty-five years, an invalid, bound to her bed. Her spirit was so transcendently triumphant through those many weary years, that she wrote some of the finest Christian poetry which has ever been written. Sadly most of her books are now out of print.

In her book Heart Held High, Martha wrote of broken people when she said,

"We are now His broken things. But remember how He has used broken things: the broken pitchers of Gideon's little army, the broken roof through which the paralyzed man was lowered to be healed, the broken alabaster box which shed its fragrance abroad and the broken body of our Savior. Let us ask Him to take our broken hearts and to press upon them further suffering to give us a poignant realization of the suffering of the world. Let us ask Him to show us the endless, hopeless river of lost souls. This will break our hearts anew; but when it happens, God can use us at last."

Of pain, she wrote: "Peter said that it is to our credit if, being aware of God, we endure pain. For it to have meaning, our suffering must bring us to God. Unless the pain leads us to that secret inner place where God is waiting to receive us, there is no good in it."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Story for Lindsey

Lindsey and Renee stopped by this morning for tea. Snuggled in antique quilts by the fire place, we warmed our hands around big mugs decorated with snowmen. We warmed our hearts talking about praying to the God who answers us.

"Will you tell us prayer stories?" Lindsey asked as she snuggled deeper into her quilt with a contented sigh. "I love that our God is an action God and prayer stories motivate me to pray more."

She's right, isn't she? Hearing that God is answering prayers hones our faith, stirs our emotions and prods us to pray more fervently. Our shared prayer stories remind us that God protects, provides and plans for His people.

After we shared stories, I encouraged them to collect stories of answered prayers from their own prayer adventures. It's easy to get sidetracked and even disheartened by someone else's life. It's so tempting to wonder if anything spectacular could ever happen to plain old us.

Jesus lived the ultimate true life adventure. What a lot of stories we know about His answered prayers! But, have you ever pondered those hours Jesus spent alone in prayer with Father? Those would have been the most amazing answered prayer stories of all! I hope Jesus shares those stories some day, but He may not. Some stories belong only to the Father and the child.

The God who answered prayers in the true life adventures of Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is still answering prayers. The God who captivates our attention with the answered prayer adventures of Hannah, Phoebe, Anna and Tabitha is still writing stories.

But, the best prayer story you will ever hear is the one you and God write together as you live your own true life adventure filled with answered prayers. What's happening in your story today?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Grace for Today

Oh God, give me grace for this day.

Not for a lifetime, not for next week, not for tomorrow, just for this day.

Direct my thoughts and bless them.
Direct my work and bless it. Direct the things I say and give them blessing, too. Direct and bless everything that I think and speak and do.

So that for this day, just this one day,
I have the gift of grace that comes from your presence.

by Marjorie Holmes

Friday, February 11, 2011

The God of Mercy


My heart is not proud this morning. My eyes are not haughty. I do not concern myself today with great matters or things too wonderful for me. I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. Teach me Your ways. Teach me Your vision for my heart. My sins are many, Father. I am not worthy, but my hope is in You.

A bruised reed I will not crush. A smoldering wick I will not put out. A broken and contrite heart I will not despise. In mercy I will lead you.

My heart trusts in You and I am helped. You make my heart leap for joy and rest in peace. All that I am is Yours to transform. Fit me to the image of Your own.

Learn from Me. Listen carefully to Me. For a brief moment I turned from you, but with great compassion I will gather you in My arms as a hen gathers her chicks. In an outburst of anger toward your sins I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you.

You are the God who sees me. You are the God who is merciful. Your promises are true. You are mighty to save and loving toward all You have made.

The mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you. My convenant of peace will not be shaken. All your sons and daughters will be taught of Me and the well-being of your sons and daughters will be great. In righteousness you are established. You will be far from oppression for you will not fear.

I will go out with joy and be led forth with peace.

And when I come again I will receive you unto Myself.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Shopping List

One of these days I must go shopping. I am completely out of SELF-RESPECT. I want to exchange the SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS I picked up the other day for some HUMILITY which they say is less expensive and wears better.

I want to look at some TOLERANCE which is being used for wraps this season; and someone showed me some pretty samples of PEACE; we are so low on that and we can never have too much of it.

By the way, I must try to match some PATIENCE that my neighbor wears. It is very becoming to her and I think would look equally good on me. I might try that garment of LONG-SUFFERING that they are displaying. I never thought I would want to wear it.

And I must not forget to have my SENSE OF HUMOR mended, and look for some inexpensive EVERYDAY GOODNESS. It is surprising how quickly one's stock of goods is depleted. Yes, I must go shopping soon.

~Patricia Mueller

Monday, February 7, 2011

Granny's Mirror

My great-granny still mopped her own kitchen during her 96th year. Having finished the job one morning, she sat down on the sofa and sighed in weary contentment. I smiled at her, wondering if I would ever consider a freshly mopped kitchen worthy of such joy. "Granny," I asked, "When did you know you were old?"

"I don't know it yet!" she chuckled. "Sometimes when I'm in the bathroom I see an old woman in the mirror, out of the corner of my eye, don't you know? And I holler because I think some old woman is in my bathroom with me!" We laughed, then she added, "I'm still that young girl on the inside. I guess you never lose her. She just stays around inside of you to see what happens."

Living among college students for over 30 years causes a woman to either grieve the aging process or embrace it. I was once an energetic sister-girl, maneuvering through my own early womanhood. Later I became a spiritual mother, learning the joys of being an older woman (30 is older on a college campus). The 18 year old freshmen appear younger and younger to me every year. It's quite simply the result of one's aging perspective, of course, but it's actually a little unnerving from time to time.

I have begun the second half of my first 100 years. Even women entering their third decade look younger and younger every year to me now. It's the continuing result of my aging perspective, of course, but, I confess, it's still a little unnerving from time to time.

But, it's true what my Granny said.

That young girl has stayed inside of me even though I now see a grandmother in my mirror. So full of hope and dreams, she was, so energetic and eager, delighted to watch the future unfolding. I'm glad she came along on my journey. I'm learning to not only like her, but appreciate her. In so many ways, I want to be just like her when I grow up.

(Painting by Mary Cassatt, "Mother and Child")

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The God of Strength

Father, I love You.

You are my Strength and my Song. My hope is in You. You are the Rock that I stand on and the Stronghold around me. You are my Deliverer and in You will I trust.

Though the storms of life overwhelm me and the cords of death entangle me I will trust You. Though the darkness surround me and the waves of doubt toss me, I will fight for You. In sorrow and in suffering, I will seek You for counsel and comfort for You are my glory and the lifter of my head.

You have given me clean hands and a new life. You renew me day by day. Your love is my portion and my blessing. I am not worthy of Your attention and yet You have sacrificed for my salvation.

Your ways are perfect and Your Word is flawless. You have given everything I need for life and godliness. You shield me because I take refuge in Your love and mercy.

When I sleep You sing over me with love and goodness. When I awake You give life to my spirit and strength to my body. There is no one like You and You are worthy of my praise. Teach me Your ways, Oh, God, that I might please You in life and in death. Use my days to enrich the lives of others and show them the way to You.

Holy is Your Name and Your Word endures forever! Let Your Name be held high in every nation; Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Friday, February 4, 2011

When Hope Hides in the Laundry

"I just wanted to be a good mom today. That was my whole goal," she told me as she collapsed onto my sofa. "The house is a wreck. I haven't got the energy to go grocery shopping. My husband is mad at me. I didn't know what else to do so here we are. I'm so sorry. I haven't even had a shower and I smell like baby puke."

I settled the children with toys in the bedroom, promising blueberry pancakes for lunch and a movie later if they would play quietly for awhile. I sat down in my rocker with the cranky baby settled in my lap and waited while the young mother shook with sobs.

"I'm a bad mom. I yell at my kids. And I'm so tired that I can't even think straight." Tears continued to spill down her cheeks, but she took a deep breath and with shaking fingers she took a sip of the tea I had given her. "Please tell me you know what to do."

Sound familiar? Every young mother has dark days. Hope gets lost in the dirty laundry pile. Joy bleeds out during sleepless nights. Even love gets a little shaky and hard to hold steadfast.

Failing the little ones whom God has placed in your tender care is a heavy burden. The utter helplessness of children, their vulnerability and their needs overwhelm a woman. Bad tempers, impatience and discouragement are not welcome companions, but they can be difficult to get rid of when they move in and take over your home.

It's never too late to be the mom you want to become. God's infinite patience and goodness can fill you up and give you enough grace to try again. Children are quick to forgive and offer second chances. Help is available for whatever problems there are in your life. Anne Lamott said, "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work. You don't give up." I agree with her, but I would add that we don't have to wait and watch and work alone. God is able to provide encouragement when we ask for it. An older woman can help you become the mom you're trying to be. She's had those same dark days and will know what to do.

Sometimes it's as easy as a cup of tea, blueberry pancakes and rocking a baby to sleep. Other times housekeeping lessons or packing up all your laundry and taking it home with her to do is necessary. Maybe she could help by bringing you a meal or babysitting for awhile. Certainly she can pray with you and establish some hope. Tell her you need her. Tell her. She'll understand.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Faith Walk in Zimbabwe

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I've stepped over the line.

The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My future is secure.

I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving, dwarfed roles.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotion, or popularity.

I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded.

I now live by presence, lean by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor with power.

My pace is set. My gait is fast. My goal is Heaven. My road is narrow. My way is rough. My companions few. My guide reliable. My mission clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed.

I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice; hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the Enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, backup, let up, or shut up until I've preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up and stayed up for the cause of Christ.

I must go until He returns, give until I drop, preach until all know and work until He comes. And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My colors will be clear!

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Anonymous Missionary in Zimbabwe

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit


Teach me to...

Impress Your world with love.
Encounter Your world with joy.
Mend Your world with peace.
Teach Your world with patience.
Tender Your world with kindness.
Fill Your world with goodness.
Salt Your world with faithfulness.
Color Your world with gentleness.
Change Your world with self-control.