Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

John Piper on William Cowper

This past Sunday, our preacher shared a glimpse into the life of William Cowper (1731–1800).  He suffered from depression (know then as 'insanity') and attempted suicide three times.  Yet, God still used him. 

I was intrigued with the reference to Cowper, and did a little research.  I found ‘Insanity and Spiritual Songs in the Soul of a Saint:  Reflections on the Life of William Cowper’ by John Piper. (http://www.desiringgod.org/biographies/insanity-and-spiritual-songs-in-the-soul-of-a-saint)  There are three reasons he choose to tell the story of Cowper.  This is an excerpt of Piper’s story,
including a beautiful hymn Cowper wrote:


The second reason I am drawn to William Cowper is that I want to know the man behind the hymn, "God Moves In a Mysterious Way." Over the years it has become very precious to me and to many in our church.  (This hymn hangs over our mantle at home. It expresses the foundation of my theology and my life so well that I long to know the man who wrote it.)

"God Moves In a Mysterious Way."


God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.


Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs
And works his sovereign will.


Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.


Judge not the lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.


His purpose will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
the bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.


Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain:
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.


Monday, July 28, 2014

pause 'n ponder



The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

faith and endurance

James is one of my favorite books in the Bible.  Right at the beginning, the first chapter, verse 2 - troubles = joy.  Huh? It's really not that simple...
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  James 1:2 NLT
Trials produce testing, testing increases faith, faith builds endurance, endurance expands trust, trust leads to joy!  A bit simplistic, but, it would take pages to fully dissect this chapter.  
I found one 'formula' that is more on target than my 'interpretation':
TRIAL => TESTING => PERSEVERANCE => MATURITY








Monday, July 21, 2014

unfailing love...

While reading the verses below, once again, I pondered the facts of how greatly and how completely and how deeply my God loves me.  I know my human mind can never understand the whys and the reasons of my Creator.  Just to know He loves me, He lives within me, He guides me, He forgives me, and He blesses me...just to know these things fills my heart and soul with overflowing love.

Looking back over the last few years, I am amazed at what God has done for me and how He has blessed me and how He has strengthened me and how He has comforted me.  It doesn’t matter what I do or what I don’t do, I will never deserve anything from God.  It’s just an impossible thing.  It humbling that He cares for me, one of 7 billion people living on His earth.

Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O LORD.
How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.
You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your rivers of delight.
For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.
Psalm 36:5-9 NLT



*(The paraphrase of the verses from ‘The Message’ is worth a read:
God's love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic.
Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.
How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings,
To eat our fill at the banquet you spread as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water.
You're a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light.
Psalm 36:5-11 The Message)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

tapestries...

I love tapestries and I’m fascinated with how they’re made.  The colors, the threads, the patterns, and the beauty of the finished, unique work of art.  One of my Pinterest boards is titled ‘Christian / threads woven into the tapestry of a Christian life...’  This board is a conglomeration of quotes, songs, bits of wisdom, expressions of love, praises, prayers, thoughts, promises...’

There are innumerable threads in the life of a Christian.  At the beginning point, I was a teenager.  I accepted Jesus as my Savior and was baptized.  I had always been in church, but then I saw things in a different light.  I had read and studied my Bible, I had read and studied my Sunday School lessons, I had been involved in a girl’s mission group, and I had participated in youth activities, but, it felt different.

Between then and now, a lot of life has happened.  In the last 36 years or so, I’ve learned, I’ve grown, I’ve obeyed, I’ve backslidden, I’ve drifted, and I’ve sinned.  The first threads of my tapestry were new and bright and strong.  Now, many sections are one huge ugly mess.  With God’s gift of grace, with His guidance, and with His forgiveness, I have hope and faith and trust that more new and bright and strong threads will be woven into my tapestry.

The quote below is a beautiful depiction of the tapestry of life.

The tapestry of life continues to be woven.  Occasionally a chance arises to repair an older, tattered piece of the weave.  Something happens to jolt our awareness back in time to an event that resulted in tears and rips.  With new, more mature vision, we see the circumstances in present time and have compassion for the unclear events of the past.  While the new experience is being woven into the design, the old rip is simultaneously being repaired.  All is well.
~Bessie Senette

Monday, July 14, 2014

if you want me to...

There have been times in my life that caused me to question how I got to the place I was.  It also caused me to question why.  Why me?  What did I do?  How can I get thru this?  Where are the answers?  How can I change?  Why can’t I understand?  Yet, thru it all, I always had my faith in God.  Looking back over the last ten years or so, there have been many times when I felt overwhelmed, tired, helpless, and desperate.  But, even thru my pain, my heart knew there was always hope.  Hope and peace and comfort that could only come from God.  There was one particular Bible verse I tightly held close to my heart.  It soothed me and it seemed God had written it just for me...

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Psalm 91:4 NLT

I know in my heart, there is a reason and a purpose for the road I travel with God...

when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James 1:2-4 NLT

Also, there was a song I listened to a lot.  At that time in my life, I could relate to it.  I played it over and over....

If You Want Me To
Ginny Owens

The pathway is broken
And The signs are unclear
And I don't know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley
If You want me to

'Cause I'm not who I was
When I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise You're not through with me yet
so if all of these trials bring me closer to you
Then I will go through the fire
If You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When you lead me through a world that's not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone

So When the whole world turns against me
And I'm all by myself
And I can't hear You answer my cries for help
I'll remember the suffering Your love put You through
And I will go through the valley
If You want me to

Sunday, July 13, 2014

in the field

Our church sanctuary is having a much needed renovation.  In the meantime, Sunday services are being held in a huge tent in the ball field used for Upward Soccer and Upward Football.  There are golf carts for those needing assistance from Sunday School classrooms to the ‘Church in the Field’.  There’s a huge supply of old-timey hand fans and cold bottled water, standing oscillating fans set up in strategic places to move air around, and song sheets.

My favorite thing was the overall environment.  It was relaxed, with casual clothing, and I’m sure people were smiling more than usual.  I don’t remember ever going to a church service in a tent.  But, I really liked the setting (despite the sweat...).  We sang hymns.  I love contemporary Christian music, but I also love the old hymns.  Today, I enjoyed:  In the Sweet By and By, Standing on the Promises, Rock of Ages, and Amazing Grace.  Nice.  The sermon was from Psalm 22.  I could hear the occasional caw-caw’ from crows.  After all, we were in the field.

I admit, I did get distracted for a few minutes.  There’s a song I love dearly.  It’s on a cassette tape my sister gave us years and years ago (later transferred to a CD).  The album is ‘Evening Tapestry’, and the song is ‘Church in the Field’, and that’s where my thoughts drifted...

Church in the Field

The sky was one vast ceiling that vaulted out and on
Down to starry stain glassed windows of sunsets and of dawns
An out of doors cathedral day by day revealed
I remember church in the field
I remember church in the field

The rain fell like a sacrament on the alter of the soil
And mixed with sweat that fell from hands content with honest toil
The faith of spring saw harvest that seeds and earth would yield
I remember church in the field
I remember church in the field

There were blazing colors
There were lovely smells
I encountered passions my poetry can't tell
Mere religion hadn't tamed me yet, my reverence was all real
I remember church in the field

I prayed there without thinking
I worshiped from no cue
The flashing summer thunderstorm
And wild roses fresh with dew
And to mysteries and music always just concealed
I remember church in the field
I remember church in the field

There were blazing colors
There were lovely smells
I encountered passions my poetry can't tell
Mere religion hadn't tamed me yet, my reverence was all real
I remember church in the field

Written by Phill McHugh

Friday, July 4, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

words of wisdom


Those who control their tongue will have a long life;

opening your mouth can ruin everything.

Proverbs 13:3 NLT



Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,

but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

Proverbs 13:3 NIV

ain't that the truth...