..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

On Total Surrender: the Normal Christian Life

Total surrender to God is the foundation
of the "normal Christian life." It gets us
to the wonderful point where this truly
is our testimony: "we are unworthy
servants, we have done only our duty"
(Luke 17:7-10).

Surrender opens the door, surrender
prepares the way, surrender sets the
stage. It is simply ground zero, the
foundation upon which God builds
the glorious story of His grace in
our lives.- The Pen of the Wayfarer

Monday, March 26, 2007

Following Jesus Alone: Alone with God

The biblical journey of faith starts here:
"I called Abraham alone" (Is 51:2).
There is a side to our faith as Christians
that is very much communal and there is a
side to it that is very much solitary.

We as humans enjoy being together, we
gather together often and now, since
the invention of the cell phone, being
alone seems to be a rather strange and
rare thing.

Of late, I have sensed one thing: that
God is testing us to see if we can
make our faith journey with Him alone.
Not that He does not intend for us
to have fellowship, but I must know
if I am able to follow Him alone,
at all cost, no matter what: though
none go with me, still I will follow

One reads of Christians imprisoned
for their faith, people like Richard
Wurmbrand, held in solitary
confinement for years and years.
His ability to keep relationship
with God when literally everything
was stripped away is our example.

The Early Church found solace in
fellowship, and I am sure counted
it a privilege, but many went alone
to their brutal deaths, as martyrs.

Even Jesus hoped for human
fellowship in His last hours in
Gethsemane, but, alas, His
friends were sleeping, unable
to stand the grief, and He was
left alone with His Father.
It was God alone that He had
in that desperate hour,
and it is God alone that we
must know we have in these
increasingly evil and uncertain days.

It is so easy for us to float
along on fellowship. We float from
Sunday to Wednesday, from this
conference to that bible study. Yet
deep within, are we vitally connected
to Jesus? If everyone and everything
were stripped away, what would we

You may say, "Well, when that day
comes, God will give me grace." Indeed,
I trust He will give us all grace,
but if we do not prepare ourselves
when the way is somewhat easy, how
will things be for us when we must
work in the darkness? Does one train
for a marathon in one day? If we
tire running with footman, how
will we run with horses? (Jer. 12:5).

Our God is a jealous God. Have no
doubt about that. It is not that
He does not want you to enjoy the
richness of fellowship with His
people: an eternity of that awaits
us. But He knows that He made us
first of all for HIMSELF, and He
will have us for HIMSELF. In this
is our only joy: our destiny and
crown if only we could stop
toying with lesser things and
distracting ourselves with the
immediate. We are meant to dwell
in the bosom of the Eternal One.

So I ask myself, as I ask you,
can you walk with God absolutely
alone, without crutch, aid or human

Do you know for sure that in
your darkest moments that He
will carry you? Do you know that
when all seems lost that He
will sustain you? Do you know
that past every human
disappointment and betrayal that
He is there, a Friend who sticks
closer than a brother?

This assurance is worked out in
the day to day events of our lives.
There is no magic formula, no
prescribed method, only time
spent with God, day after day,
week after week, month after month
until we breathe Him within and
without. It is our love
and connection with Him that
is formed in the small and
hidden moments of life--moments
shared only with Him! It is our
practice of God's Presence, even
when He does not feel present, that
will bring us to this kind of
unencumbered faith.

The days seem increasingly
perilous. If our cell phones,
and internet go blank, and
gas becomes unavailable, how
will our spiritual lives fair
when we are left alone in
our houses?

In Zechariah there is a prophecy
about Jesus: "Smite the shepherd
and the sheep will be scattered"
(Zech. 13:7). God allowed His good
shepherd to be hit, even His
fellow", so that a refiner's
fire could come in and make His own
as pure as gold.

And this became God's testimony
in them: "I will say, "It is My
People" and they will say,
"The Lord is My God."
This is the testimony
that God is after in His
Church. Do not think that
this could not happen in
principle again, for is not
God after a Church "without
spot or wrinkle", a Church
whose hearts are totally His?

Has God becoming our Dwelling
Place? A place where no moth
corrupts and no rust eats away
at? Is He your God? And our
you completely His? It is time
to prepare, time to press into God,
time to know that He alone

Are you able to follow Jesus alone?

Have You Heard the Voice of God?

I just read John Piper's post
The Morning I Heard the
Voice of God
at Adrian Warnock's blog.

I love John Piper. But this post kind
of bothered me. I've been thinking
about it for two days and it still
is bothering me. It is the same feeling
I had as an undergraduate when a
well known speaker was going to lead
a retreat for the faculty of the large
Christian university (then college)
I attended.

I managed to get myself invited to
the retreat despite the fact that
I was a student, an undergrad to boot.
I loved the retreat but was absolutely
discouraged by the behind the scenes
glimpse I had at where the faculty was
spiritually. I guess what was lacking was
robust encounter with the Living God.
People did not seem to know how
to listen for God or expect Him
to speak to them personally.

I kind of felt this way reading Piper's
article. I thought that Piper's encounter
with God was wonderful, but I also thought,
"Why does he seem surprised that somehow
God speaking to him in this way was out
of the ordinary?"

Then I felt another twinge of discouragement
when he referenced the article
in Christianity Today about
the Christian college professor who
felt that he had actually heard God speak
to Him personally for the first time. Piper
said he felt "sad" when he read it. I
felt sad too, but for this reason:
How could this Christian college
professor live so long and not feel
God had spoken to Him personally
until this event?

Now I don't think that its just college
professors who are having this hard time
hearing God. It just made me think again
that in our endeavor to keep within God's
guidelines for hearing Him, the very
guidelines themselves may cause us to
miss hearing Him by being unnecessarily

Perhaps we become so afraid that
we will be deceived that we reject the
simple willingness of God to speak to
us as His children.

Jesus seems to reiterate this idea when
He is dealing with the religious leaders
of His day. Somehow the very things
that were meant to lead us to God end up
being a barrier to real encounter with God.
When He tells Nicodemus he must be born
again, and Nicodemus is clueless, Jesus
says, "Are you a teacher of Israel and
yet do not understand?" (John 3:10).

Now, granted, there are some people who
think that God is always conversing with
them, 24/7, and others who think that God only
speaks through the Bible. If we put them
on a continuum, we would have our well
worn picture: cessationists on one side (we
won't say the right side :)), and those
who think that God speaks through His Word
but also by personal means at various
points along the line, and I suppose
at the far end would be people who
don't see any difference between
God's Written Word and prophetic or
inspired words from God outside of the

Let me say that I am not a cessationist
and I do think that God continues to
speak to us personally but that the
written Word of God is our defining
rule and all words that we think we
receive from God must be measured
against what God has already revealed
to us in the Bible. But we should
not throw out the proverbial baby
with the bath water, this baby being
the very real idea that God continues
to teach and communicate with us by
means of the Holy Spirit, and this
process is not always through the
Bible alone.

That being said, It is difficult for
me to comprehend that God, as a Living
Person, would want to only communicate
through the Bible. If a human author
wrote a book explaining, perhaps, his
life, and then I were to call up this
author and want to talk further with
him about what he wrote, I would think
it very bizarre if the author only
answered me with quotes from his book,
never saying anything else, but finding
little snippets to reply to me from the
published work. It would be very awkward
and not very personal. I would wonder
about the author and how much he really
wanted to interact with me.

I don't believe that God is only wanting
to reply to us, to speak with us,
using this "closed" book, meaning that
what is contained in the Bible is all
that God has to or is willing
to say.

I remember when some Russian
believers emigrated to our neighborhood
from the old Soviet Union where they
were persecuted. We "adopted" them but
when we first met we had no means of
communicating with each other. The only
way we figured out to communicate was
to use each other's bibles (theirs in
Russian and ours in English) to point
out our general intents and feelings.
It was well-meaning, but limited. (We
put a scripture citation on their
birthday cake and they read it and

I can see how our ability to communicate
with God is much like that and that
is why He gave us something to check
ourselves against. Paul tells us that
we see "through a glass, darkly" so
thank God for the Bible, but it is
through those same dark glasses that
we INTERPRET the bible (another whole
can of worms, I know!)

But, Jesus, became and now is, the Word
of God--God's best and truest Word,
not abolishing the written Word, but
fulfilling it and fleshing it out because
God is a personal God and living persons
communicate through diverse means.
He wants to communicate with us.

When Jesus told His disciples in that
wonderful farewell discourse in John,
"I have many things to tell you now, but
you cannot bear them. When the Holy Spirit
comes He will teach you all things" (John
16: 12-14).

Do we think that our cluelessness to
understand God's mind and ways went away at
the close of the apostolic age? Me thinks
we need Him more than ever, especially
the farther away we get from the days
that Jesus walked on earth. Things get
garbled. Doctrines mutate.

I remember that old Star Trek episode
where the crew lands on some far planet
and finds the inhabitants with an
American flag intoning garbled words
reverentially. The garbled words turn
out to be the words of the pledge of
allegiance. We need the Holy Spirit to
keep the garbled out of our pledge of
allegiance to God, can somebody say, amen?

So, all that to say, that I am glad
that John Piper feels strong reassurance
that God speaks personally, but still
basically through the Bible, but I
would ask if that is playing things
a bit safer then what God is expecting
and offering to us?

The Book of Acts does not find the
newly filled-with-the-Holy-Spirit
disciples finding their way only by
the Bible. They expected God to speak
to them personally because they knew
Him as a Person, and not as an infallible
system. Well, He is infallible, but
definitely not a system.

I am inspired, however, by this article
to keep saturating myself in the Scriptures,
memorizing them, poring over them, so that
I can feel more and more relaxed that when
God does speak to me, the testimony of
the Scriptures is so strongly embedded
in my inner man that anything false will
show itself right away. We have to strike
a healthy balance, built on faith, that
we can hear from God and not be deceived.

God is speaking more than we know.
We just need to make our ability to
discern His Voice as sharp as possible.
Read the Word. Listen for God to speak.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Book Review: Wait Until Then by Randy Alcorn

How do we explain the hope of heaven to children?
Randy Alcorn,who has studied extensively about
heaven, has written an engaging story for
children that presents heaven in an understandable,
scriptural manner.

The story centers around a young boy who suffers
with spina-bifida and his relationship with his
grandfather who is dying of cancer. Both love
baseball. The grandfather had been a major league
baseball player in the Ted Williams era and the
grandson is unable to play baseball because of
his condition, but longs to play.

Wait Until Then deals gently with the very
real problems of suffering, death, and the
heart's longing for life's difficulties to be
resolved and set right in heaven.

Our children grow up fast, and face a world
full of pain and sorrow. As much as we would
like to shield them from suffering, we
probably would do better to equip them
spiritually from their youngest years.

In this story, grandfather and grandson
both have reason to look forward to heaven,
while enjoying their relationship on earth.
The book is a great tool to use to get a
conversation going about what God promises
us in heaven, and how we can best cope
with the sufferings of life on earth.

No suffering is easy, but God promises
that one day He will wipe all the tears
from our eyes in a new heaven and new
earth (Revelation 21:1-4).

The last page of the book also gives
some scriptural information for parents
about heaven to further aid discussion.

The life-like illustrations by Doron
Ben-Ami are wonderful and enhance
the book greatly.

The book is published by Tyndale, 2007,
and is aimed at grade-school children.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Oswald Chambers: What My Obedience to God Costs Other People

As they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain
man, Simon . . . , and on him they laid the cross
that he might bear it after Jesus —Luke 23:26

If we obey God, it is going to cost other people
more than it costs us, and that is where the pain
begins. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience
does not cost us anything—it is a delight. But to
those who do not love Him, our obedience does cost
a great deal. If we obey God, it will mean that
other people’s plans are upset. They will ridicule
us as if to say, "You call this Christianity?"

We could prevent the suffering, but not if we are
obedient to God. We must let the cost be paid.
When our obedience begins to cost others, our
human pride entrenches itself and we say, "I will
never accept anything from anyone." But we must,
or disobey God. We have no right to think that the
type of relationships we have with others should be
any different from those the Lord Himself had (see
Luke 8:1-3).

A lack of progress in our spiritual life results
when we try to bear all the costs ourselves. And
actually, we cannot. Because we are so involved
in the universal purposes of God, others are
immediately affected by our obedience to Him. Will
we remain faithful in our obedience to God and be
willing to suffer the humiliation of refusing to
be independent? Or will we do just the opposite and
say, "I will not cause other people to suffer"?

We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring
immediate relief to the situation, but it will grieve
our Lord. If, however, we obey God, He will care for
those who have suffered the consequences of our
obedience. We must simply obey and leave all the
consequences with Him.

Beware of the inclination to dictate to God what
consequences you would allow as a condition of your
obedience to Him.--Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers: What My Obedience to God Costs
Other People

Forget the Past, Be Kind To All

So far as past errors are concerned, forget
them. Start afresh, as if it were your first day in
this body; but so far as your present contacts are
concerned, be kind to them, as if it were your
last day in this body--Paul Brunton

Monday, March 19, 2007

When God is Silent: Silence & Deeper Faith--Part 3

Silence & Jabberwocky. Silence & Testing. Now,
Silence & Deeper Faith.

In the last two posts I have been looking at
different aspects of the silence of God
and what we can best do to gain and grow
from the silence.

There are many reasons for silence: many
different seasons of it, and different nuances
to its wisdom and ability to teach.

Lately, I have felt that any silence on
God's part has been to call out a deeper
faith in me. Do I really believe that
He is who He says He is? Do I really
believe that He is matchless, sovereign,
and omnipotent Love reigning in mercy,
grace and truth over all?

I tell you the truth. I have been
dissatisfied with everything of late.
I get this way periodically. So much
seems less then it could be;
lackluster, compromised, asleep.

Yet I feel God calling me to deeper faith.
Sometimes in the silence between us I
seem Him watching me. He is watching
how I am going to respond to everything
being "all quiet on the western front."

Let me tell you something about that.
I am not a natural born optimist: just
not configured that way. But that does
not mean that I can not have ever-
increasing faith. I am sure that optimists
will tell you that optimism helps them
have faith. I'm sure it does. Personally
I cannot get to the mountain top of faith
by the half-full Road of Optimism. I have
to go another way: the half-empty, or
even completely empty, hungry way of
silence. If there are any of you out
there that can identify with this, here
are my thoughts.

First of all, what I am going to say is
still in the clinical trial period! If one
day you look here on my blog and some kind
soul posts that The Pen of The Wayfarer
chick has been hit by a heavenly lightning bolt,
then refer back to this article for the details. :)

Perhaps I am a Jacob at heart. More of a
"I will not let you go until you bless me"
kind of girl. For awhile that part of me
has kind of been beat down. She is rising
up! I have often found myself saying to
God of late, "You can do better than this!"

Now before you accuse me of impertinent
disrespect, hear me out. If God rebukes
me for such, I will stand gladly chastened
and corrected. I more think He likes it.
In my heart I am not suggesting that He
is not doing a good job in leading the
world at large, or my tiny world. I am
trying to engage with Him.

I really like the Charles Dickens novel,
"Oliver Twist." Recently I saw clips from the
film version and little scrawny Oliver
is bravely making his way to the powers
that be with his soup bowl in hand,
demanding, "More, please."

Oliver is still hungry. So am I. He
does say "please", but he is determined.
So am I. Jesus said, "You have not because
you ask not." Life can put us in the
place where we feel that asking might
not do any good: that prayer doesn't
really work. And if it doesn't get you
what you want, how do you explain that
on Testimony Sunday?

Do you know how you explain it? Like this:
"I prayed and God did not answer. I prayed
more and God was silent. I prayed and
prayed and prayed. When there was
nothing left of words and all was silent
within and without, suddenly heaven
opened and the veil was rent in my heart
and I saw God. All I can do now is
cry, "Holy! Holy! Holy! For God, Himself, IS
the answer! He is everything!" Now there
is a great testimony.

But back, for a moment, to the thunderbolt.
I feel that I can come to God and say,
"You can do better than this, I am
expecting more, please!," because
that statement is my act of faith.
It can both egg me on, and,
respectfully, egg God on.
God wants to unfold things in such
a way that He receives glory and
and part of that glory is all of
His children getting benevolently
trumped by His absolute goodness!

I think He wants to see our faces when
the vast expression of His mind-boggling
goodness causes us to jump with
joy and proclaim, "You are absolutely
able to do anything! Your goodness
is beyond belief! There is No-One like You!
How unsearchable are Your judgments
and Your ways past finding out! Amen!"

Note how Jesus responded to people
that goaded him either a lot or a little
to do greater things. What separated
those who had "great faith" from those
who didn't? I think the ones Jesus
commended and answered were able to
simply see that Jesus could do
anything He wanted and they refused
to be put off or turned away.

I relate most to the Syro-Phoenician
woman whose daughter needed healing.
She cries out to him, but, get this,
(Matthew 15:23). Silence. She then
keeps trying, she, a woman and a
foreigner,(you go, girl!) but is then
met by an apparent insult. Jesus tells
her that He won't do it because
"it is not right to take children's
bread and feed it to dogs (vs. 26)."

She, being a woman after my own
heart, knows that even dogs
get fed, and that kind people
feed their dogs the scraps and
that even a scrap from His table
will do quite nicely. I would say
that she comes close to what you
would call "trumping" Jesus, wouldn't
you? Jesus springs into
action on her behalf and not only
springs, but calls her faith "GREAT".

Don't tell me He cannot be
provoked to work greater, awesome
things if we expect Him to. May I
even suggest that He sets things up
so we will provoke Him, and that
silence is one of these things?

He says we don't even need to know
the depths of His good intent,
just that if we keep asking,
He will work [compare the
parable of importunity (Luke 11:5-13)].

I know that God can do more with
my life. I trust that you know that
to. I am going to press into Him
with everything I am until He
nudges His Father and says,
"Here she comes again, We better
get moving!"

Dear ones, He can do abundantly
ABOVE all that we can ask or think.
I'm just starting off with asking
for MORE. I'm going to keep telling
Him, "You can do better then this."
You can hang onto your hat in the
background but I'm hungry and
I'm going with my bowl for more.

This kind of urging toward God can
seem embarrassing or like the pleas
of a desperate peasant approaching
the King. I really don't care what
it looks like to all of you, it is
He that I wait upon. People with great
need aren't afraid to beg or
plead or appear odd.

Uncomfortable acts of faith urge
me to engage with Him, to be
expectant, to make sure all
my plates and cups are clean and
waiting for him to fill. It is
like when Elijah, as a type of Christ,
told the widow to find as many
vessels as she could to be
filled with oil to pay her debts
(I Kings 17:1-15).

The only limit was on her ability
to contain it. The more vessels she
came up with, the more God would fill.
And it was she that got to pour out
the oil! She was able to pour out
that which would miraculously bless
and provide for her. I feel faith
rising within just thinking about
this. What a windfall of blessing!
You can bet I would have gotten
more vessels then you could count.
Expand me, O God!

All this blessing waits in the silence
of God, the silence drawing me further,
God hesitating so I have time to blurt
out "More, please!" It is time to put more
faith on the line, to step toward
Him more boldly.

P.S. A few days have gone by since
I began writing this. I was sitting
in prayer the other night, yes,
sitting in silence, and God brought
something He wanted me to do to
mind. It was something that needed
more attention. And do you know what He
said to me, "You can do better than
!" I looked up into His face,
and there was the sense of a big
wide grin. "Touche, Lord, yes, I can do
better. I'll get right on it!" Woohoo!
He's not mad! And I think great
big blessings are on the way.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Persecuted Church: Grandmothers in Pennsylvania

I know that in many countries Christians have
it tough, very tough, but this article
caught my eye and I wanted to share it:
(please click here to read it
in its entirety)

Arrested for sharing the Gospel? An expected
outcome in North Korea, China or any Muslim
country on the globe. But in Pennsylvania? Yep.
Arlene Elshinnawy, a 75-year-old grandmother of
three, and Lynda Beckman, a 70-year-old
grandmother of 10 (along with nine others), were
arrested for sharing their faith on the public
sidewalk in Philadelphia, Pa., USA.

They faced 47 years (the rest of their lives) in
jail for spreading the Gospel because of a
Pennsylvania "hate crimes" law that is nearly
identical to H.R. 254 – the "hate crimes" bill
reintroduced in Congress and said to be on
the "fast track" in the House Judiciary Committee.

...Don't believe hate crimes will silence your
freedom of speech and freedom of religion? Think

Pastors in Pennsylvania are now seeking
liability insurance to protect themselves
from being prosecuted under the "hate
speech" law.

Ok. I try to stay out of these kind of
conversations because ardent arguers often
get so entrenched in their positions that
they cannot see the forest for the trees.

I just want to point out that with
legislation such as this, it always
seems to be the good fish that get
caught in the dragnet, in this case
some brave grandmothers, and not
the hate-mongers that were supposed to
be rounded up. Legislation that is
supposed to help can end up hurting.

We ought to know by now that hate is
not something you can legislate against.
And unfortunately, truly hateful people
are often cunning enough to escape
the moral guards set out to restrain

Instead, two grandmothers are
arrested for witnessing to their
faith on the streets of Philly,
while on these same streets
drug dealers destroy our teenagers;
child molesters prey on children;
terrorists, no doubt with murderous
intent, and radioactive dirty bombs
in their backpacks, can walk freely
and boldly in plain view of the
Liberty Bell. Why aren't we catching

We can say, "our founding fathers
never would have wanted such a
thing to happen to these grandma's."
True, to a degree, but again, the
problem is deeper then anything
we can legislate and trying to
do so may catch the innocent
in a snare while leaving the
guilty to continue their plans
of destruction. Morality cannot
and should not be legislated by
politicians because that is not
their arena or their forte. The
founding fathers could see that
much clearly.

I live in Massachusetts, the original
bay colony of the Puritans, who came
here to escape religious persecution.
In Boston, I think smack dab in
front of the State House, stands a statue of
Mary Dyer, a sweet Quaker lady
hung by her neck for the dastardly
crime of being a Quaker in a Puritan
establishment. My same state
was the home of the Salem
Witch Trials
, which was really
less about catching witches
then it was about politically
correct public opinion gone
absolutely wild.

Rev. Increase Mather, one of
the leading Puritan ministers,
recognizing the situation was
spinning out of control, said
this: "It were better that ten
suspected witches should
escape than one innocent person
should be condemned." I think
he could see that justice
might not be served by religiously
caffeinated people with an agenda.

After all was said and done, a lot
of people ended up dead by the
most cruel means, and its hard to know
if any of them were guilty of what
they had been accused of. Not to
say that there wasn't excess
religious caffeination on both
sides of the issues. There still is,
I might sadly add.

If this same scenario were to happen in
present day Massachusetts,
who might the persecuted parties be?
Christians, take heed...when you
see the abomination.....hmmmm...
I wildly speculate....

Biblical Christianity is already,
or is quickly becoming, not only
out of vogue in America,
but on the endangered list
as far as free practice.

I don't think that this is
what most Americans have
in mind, but never-the-less
that is where we could
quickly end up if we don't
watch out for how we try to deal
with the very real human problem
of hate. If the prevailing cultural
mindset determines what "moral"
is, then things can quickly
change as public opinion changes.
Politically speaking, it is usually
the ruling power that determines
what persecution is, and how it
will be dealt with. May I ask
who the ruling power is and what
might their agenda be? Just asking.

We as Christians are called to
love, not just our friends,
but our enemies. The last
vestiges of religious freedom
for a faith that includes
a pro-active evangelism plan,
or the desire to voice a
strong opinion about matters
that have been central to
the gospel since its inception,
seems to be facing certain
and quickly expedited govern-
mental punishment.

Is "middle of road" Christianity
the only faith the government is
willing to sanction?

Is a Christian faith that believes
in evangelism going to be put on the same
level as Islamic jihad? Then perhaps
we are just playing into the hands
of the terrorists. For they, too,
want us to outlaw the very thing
that can help us: a deeply held moral
conviction, but one that is rooted in
justice, freedom, and genuine love of
our neighbor. Our grannies don't have
suicide bombs in their purses. It
takes radical courage to stand up
for what you really value and believe.
Our enemies are committed to the
radical, are we? The only thing
middle-of-the-road about terrorists
is their bomb placement. If we
try to legislate against bad
passions then we might inadvertently
stifle the good passions needed
to overcome them.

Here is my thought: in times
of smooth sailing, God has
used Americans to proclaim
the gospel to just about
every land and nation. Where
we have failed to do it
purely, and in the meek Spirit
of Christ, even in our
own land, God will surely judge.
But we have done it and
I trust we shall continue
to do it in a way that
honors Christ. This is our
call as Christians.

Now that the seas are not
so smooth, and sailing may
not be a possibility, we
need to, for a season,
stay home and repair the
state of our own boat. It
is sinking fast.

For those of you who think
that Christians do better
as a persecuted minority,
you may get your chance
to test the theory personally.
Prepare yourself.

Pray for the persecuted church.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

When God is Silent: Silence & Testing-Pt. 2

In the first post I looked at the silence
of God and how His silence can help take us
out of our own perspective and bring us
into His perspective and reality.

In this post I want to explore this idea
further by looking at the idea of how
God's silence tests our hearts and gives us
opportunity to become more like Him.

Any good teacher knows that you should not give
out the answer too quickly. Part of the learning
process is exploring: the seeing of how things
are put together, how things are related, the
cause and effect of things. It is no different
with our inward lives. We have very little
knowledge of what we are like in our deep
inward parts until God shows us.

But what will cause us to ask God to show
us how we are deep within? Often, when
my question or prayer is not answered,
it brings up things in me that
would not be stirred up otherwise. I'm a
great Christian when I get my own way
quickly, and so are you! But delay that
getting just a bit and now we're in a
completely different soup.

When we ask God for something, it may
surely be His will to give it to us, but
we must surely allow Him to give it to us
in His own time. There are times when
God is way ahead of us, giving us things
before we even ask, but there are also
times when what we ask for does not appear
when we had hoped it would.

I love that passage in the book of Daniel
when Meshach, Shadrack and Abednego are
asked to worship idols and are about to
be thrown into the fiery furnace. They
boldly say, "Our God is able to deliver
us, but if not, we will not bow down
to idols" (Daniel 3:17-18 paraphrased).

Can we say this, even in the face of sure
death? How wonderful it is to have the
testimony of being delivered from the flame,
but really, how glorious to not bow down to

Dear ones, God is after that testimony
in our hearts. If you think He will not
test our motives to within an inch of our
lives, or even an inch past our lives, then
you do not know the God of Scripture. He
searches the inmost places of the heart, He
is able to divide the soulish from the
spiritual (Hebrews 4:12). And how relentlessly
good He is in both his motive and technique!

And you thought you were just simply asking for
a new car, or house, or job or whatever!
Meanwhile God is getting ready for you to
do a little deep sea diving with Him into your
depths. Don't try it without Him, you will be
immediately drowned and lost. He must guide
us within, He must set up the experiences
that show us what we need to see. He uses the
simple experiences and needs of life to take us
deeper, to reveal what is in our hearts.

Surely He can give us things without the
lessons attached, but really, what is more
valuable? We see what we want, but He sees
what we need. Now don't go thinking that
every blessing in life comes with a great
and miserable test. Some are just free gifts.
And some are great heavenly gifts that come
in the form of what we do with the silence
of God.

Waiting is just tough stuff for us humans.
More often than not it brings impatience and
irritation. It may cause us to question God's
motives when it should be causing us to see
our own. It may bring about jealousy as we see
others around us getting their answers while
we wait in hope. It may bring about a decision
to stop living a life of trust and try to be
self-sufficient and self-made. Dear God!

Recall all the thoughts and emotions
you may have felt while you were waiting
for an answer to prayer or even just waiting
for the plumber to show up, or the bus to
come. Waiting tests our heart. In the silence
of inactivity that extends from when we begin
to seek for something, and the time we possess
it, our souls reveal themselves.

If we think that God is somehow holding out
on us, or worse yet, trying to be mean, then
we show our need for a heavenly perspective.
God always has our best interests at heart.
He always provides for our needs. But we
can mistake our needs for our wants, or
even make the mistake of valuing earthly
needs above heavenly ones. Humans alone
have the capability of seeing that
delaying certain pleasures (eating a
package of oreos) might help us in
the long run (we might live to the
ripe old age of 90 with a cholesterol
free arteries!).

God knows when to give us what He has
chosen for us. I know that when you
are waiting this truth sounds like a
platitude. It is all part of the
process. Be glad if you see unpleasant
reactions arising as you wait. Well,
at least be glad that you can see that
they are there and then offer them to
God. You don't want to live with all your
fine things and all that garbage stuck
down inside you, do you?

When God is silent, He could be
testing our hearts. Allow that
testing....it will bear much eternal
fruit. The earthly treasures we will
leave behind, but spiritual fruit and
treasures are eternal. Silence can be

Monday, March 12, 2007

When God is Silent: Silence & Jabberwocky- Part 1

The silence of God. In the next few posts I want
to talk about when God appears to be silent and
what we might learn from it. First, I hope that
I will not make your pain worse if you are
really trying to hear from God and you seem to
be hearing nothing.

On one end of the continuum there are
mysteries too great for us and these I am not
capable of addressing. For who has known the
mind of the Lord, who has been His counselor?
Romans 11: 33-35).
If this be the case
I do not want to give you the kind of advice
that Job's friend's gave him.

On the other end of the continuum of why
God is silent could be the cold hard fact that
you or I do not want to hear what He has to
say. I trust that is not the case, but if it
is, you and I must work that out with God.
Somewhere in the middle I am offering some
hard won insights.

Jesus promised us that His sheep would hear
His Voice (John 10:27). We can expect to hear
from God. But there seems to be times when
God is silent in general or silent in
answering a specific question we might have.

Sometimes it is so easy to hear God, He seems
to be constantly present, speaking clearly, and
life is a joy. Yet, we can become so accustomed
to hearing God that we forget that scripture
tells us that we see through a glass darkly
(or in this case, hear through the roar of
many voices, faintly.) We mistakenly think
that God sees and hears and thinks as we do.

We assume that the way that we see things is
the way that God sees things. So sometimes
when we ask God for an answer, even though
our petition seems to us to be perfectly
reasonable, God is silent.

We do not hear an answer. There are
seasons when I can ask God many
things and most of those things get
immediate answers that I know come
from God. Yet sandwiched in between the
clear answers are some things I would
really like God to answer, things I
beg Him to answer, and ...nothing.

When this happened to the apostle
Paul, specifically about his thorn
in the flesh, all God would tell Him
was that His grace was sufficient
(2 Cor 12:9). So biblically, we have
a precedent for a kind of prayer
that is not so much unanswered,
but simply given grace for. God will
always provide us with grace for
all that concerns us and on that we
can and should rely.

But what does it mean when God
does not seem to answer? What sense
can we make of it? We can
suppose ourselves to be "deafer
than doornails," and there may be
an element of truth to that, but
in the Scripture, spiritual deafness
seems to come more from disobedience.

What if there is no real disobedience
that I know of? Here is one
possibility: my inability to hear
is more ignorance and lack of fine
tuning to the ways of the Spirit.
It is not knowing what to listen

I used to go out with some expert
birdwatchers and they would hear
a bird song, or see a little flicker
of movement and know just what
bird was there. They could see a
bird a mile high in the sky and
know what kind of bird it was.
They knew what to listen and look for.

We need to be so taught.

As children grow and learn they go
through a stage when they like to
ask questions, and the questioning
comes from a variety of reasons:
they are learning to think, learning
to see cause and effect, learning to
wonder about the world. They also
may be asking questions just to
get your attention and be with you,
or just to hear themselves talk!

Questions that come forth in this
stage of growth often have a non-
sensical tone to them. They are
often non-sequiturs, meaning that
the child's ability to reason in a
straight line is way off.

I love Lewis Carroll's Alice
in Wonderland
because he
explores some of these hilarities. Alice
finds herself at a tea party given by
a Mad-Hatter and a lot of questions are
asked that either have no answers or whose
answers do not match the questions posed.
"Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

Or later, on the nonsensical poem,
Jabberwocky, she comments, "It seems
very pretty but its hard to understand..
it fills my head with ideas--only I don't
know exactly what they are!

Precisely! We have all sorts of
ideas in our head that sound pretty,
but we don't know exactly what they
mean, if they mean anything.

Our thinking is muddled, our
perspective is muddled, or at least
not in accord with the mind of God,
and so we ask for things out of that
confusion and our questions make
little sense in God's reality.

Sometimes when I ask God a question
He may not be able to answer because
I am asking it out of my own
childish perspective and sense of
reality and He is not willing to
bolster up that childish perspective.
God would not go to the Mad Hatter's
tea party and leave the poor madman
in his craziness. Neither does He
want to leave me in my childish

God wants to bring me into HIS perspective
and reality. So when He does not answer me
on my terms He is making a way for me to
notice that something is amiss and
that further adjustment may be needed to my
perspective or even to myself!

Do you notice that, despite the difficulties,
there is an element of trust in our
relationship with God? We trust
that God speaks and will answer our
prayers and we are puzzled when He
does not seem to answer. This is
actually a good thing. Our expectation
is in the right place: simple expectant
trust in the relationship!

When I ask a person I know a question
and they do not answer, the first
thing I look for is to see if they
were close enough to me to hear me.
Are God and I close enough for me
to expect Him to answer? Is my heart
in order so that He can hear me?

Then, if I see my earthly friend
hesitating, I look at them to see
if somehow they think that
answering me will cause a
disturbance between us. The
typical, "Honey, do these pants
make me look fat?" kind of question.

Do realize that we ask God these
kinds of questions and He needs
to answer us in such a way that
it brings us out of our own
thinking to His level and

Sometimes our questions are not
even in the ballpark of what God
wants us to ask, and if God
answered them He would be playing
ball with us in the t-ball league.

Now, of course, we are all
probably in the t-ball league, but
God has us destined for the majors,
so He has to get our senses sharpened.

When God does not answer my earnest
questions, then first of all I already
have one answer: His grace is sufficient.

But I also sense that sometimes He wants
me to question my questions or what I
have asked Him. I may need to work on
the motivation behind the question.
I may need to look at the big picture
with Him. I may need to take a good long
look at what would happen if He gave me
the answer that I wanted at the moment
I wanted it. If He answered me
quickly, knowing that my request contained
potentially devastating errors, so much
opportunity to learn would be lost.

We think He should say, "Oh, I know what
she means", indeed, but do I
know what I mean? Not always. Maybe not
even usually. If God answers and does
not correct, I would not come to know and
understand Him for who He is, I would
simply get what I wanted. This would
be a lesser good at best.

So I want to end this first section
on God's silence with this: I am of
the earth--earthy (I Cor. 15:47). God
is a Spirit--spiritual. He is trying to
give me a taste of Heaven! He is trying
to teach me about His character and
His kingdom. I should not take the
silence of God as a rejection but
as an opportunity to seek God out
in a deeper way and find Him.

When we are children and we often
play, "hide and seek". We call out
for the Hidden one and He is hiding.
The game is to find Him. But He wants
to be found. When God is silent in
reference to our questions, ask Him,
"Is my question so earthbound You
can't answer it?" Ask Him, "What should
I be asking?"

The answer, to even that much, may
take time because you may need to
undergo some changes to be able to
appreciate the answer.

God is a good God, a good Father,
and He loves to speak to us. His
Words are Truth, and they lead us
toward Truth, toward Him. There is
no falseness in Him. Ask and listen.
Ask and wait. Keep asking. Refine
your asking as He directs. He will
surely answer. He is worth pursuing!
Don't give up and stop asking.
You shall surely be changed.
He shall surely answer.

Tune in soon for more on the
silence of God.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Oswald Chambers on Being God's Alone


But none of these things move me, neither
count I my life dear unto myself. Acts 20:24

It is easier to serve God without a vision,
easier to work for God without a call, because then
you are not bothered by what God requires; common
sense is your guide, veneered over with Christian
sentiment. You will be more prosperous and successful,
more leisure-hearted, if you never realize the call
of God. But if once you receive a commission from
Jesus Christ, the memory of what God wants will
always come like a goad; you will no longer be able to
work for Him on the common-sense basis.

What do I really count dear? If I have not been
gripped by Jesus Christ, I will count service dear,
time given to God dear, my life dear unto myself.
Paul says he counted his life dear only in order
that he might fulfil the ministry he had received;
he refused to use his energy for any other thing.
Acts 20:24 states Paul's almost sublime annoyance
at being asked to consider himself; he was
absolutely indifferent to any consideration other
than that of fulfilling the ministry he had

Practical work may be a competitor against
abandonment to God, because practical work is
based on this argument - Remember how 'useful
you are here, or - Think how much value you
would be in that particular type of work."
That attitude does not put Jesus Christ as
the Guide as to where we should go, but our
judgment as to where we are of most use.

Never consider whether you are of use; but
ever consider that you are not your own but

Be Completely Open to Love

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to
seek and find all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it. - Jalaluddin Rumi

photo taken at Qumran, Israel

On Praying Without Ceasing

Those who love God, love to pray without ceasing.
They love to pray constantly about this and about that:
about all things.
Not just here and there,
Not just five times a day,
Not just during the set appointments of the Divine Hours
for all hours, all minutes, all seconds
are divine.

Those who love God do not pencil God in for lunch
next Tuesday at 1:00,
their's is a continual feast of eating Him and
drinking Him, and He, they.

Remember when you were a child and no-one
thought it odd for you to be inseparable from your
best friend?

Mother would always set an extra place.

Let others get used to the idea that you will
always be with your Beloved Lord even if you
are with them. It will encourage them to set a
continual place for Him in their own hearts.

Let others also get used to the idea that sometimes
you cannot be with them, because you are
otherwise engaged.

Otherwise engaged, O joyous thought!
For are not you and I joyfully engaged to Him?

Those who love God, love to pray continually.
If this does not sound like you, give it a little try--
spend the day telling God things of the heart, things
from your heart, and then listening to Him tell
you things from His.

God loves it when you do.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Thou, Thou, Thou!

Wherever I go, only Thou!
Wherever I stand, only Thou!
Just Thou, again Thou!
Always Thou!
Thou, Thou, Thou!
When things are good, Thou!
When things are bad, Thou!
Thou, Thou, Thou!

-from a hasidic song

Monday, March 05, 2007

Lunar Eclipse 3/3

We never know when our disappointment
will be His appointment. -- Charles Swindoll

this photo of the eclipse was taken Saturday,
March 3, 2007 in East Longmeadow, MA.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Talitha cumi: Arise & Be Healed

Be healed, My Child.
Talitha cumi. Little girl, arise:
Sleep no more, for morning breaks.
I lay my hand upon you as I did
upon Jairus's daughter so long ago.

Come, awake to your true life,
your life in Me.
Arise from the dead.

The fever of fear is breaking.
The malady of self-interest, and
self-seeking is drying up.
The night of darkness is almost past.

Be healed, Child.
Nothing stands in the way of that healing
that cannot be stopped with a mere
glance at Me in faith.
Perfect Love casts out all fear.
The last waves of it are being
thrown out.
Let them go.

Here, receive Bread.
Eat and receive My strength.
Then go out and feed others.

(Mark 5:21-43).

When Your Pet Dies, God Cares (Abbey & Meredith)

Abbey & Meredith: God cares about our pets
and our broken hearts, small and big! This story
came to my email box and I wanted to share it.

Some of you may know that our 14 year old dog,
Abbey, died last month (12/23). The day after
she died, my 4 year old daughter Meredith was
crying and talking about how much she missed
Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to
God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God
would recognize her. She dictated and I wrote:

Dear God, Will you please take special care of our
dog, Abbey? She died yesterday and is in heaven.
We miss her very much. We are happy that you
let us have her as our dog even though she got sick.
I hope that you will play with her. She likes to play
with balls and swim before she got sick. I am
sending some pictures of her so that when you see
her in heaven you will know she is our special dog.
But I really do miss her. Love, Meredith Claire

P.S.Mommy wrote the words after Mer told them to her.

We put that in an envelope with 2 pictures of Abbey,

and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return
address on it. Then Mer stuck some stamps on the front
because, as she said, it may take lots of stamps to get a
letter all the way to heaven) and that afternoon I let
her drop it into the letter box at the post office. For a
few days, she would ask if God had gotten the letter yet.
I told her that I thought He had. Yesterday, for Labor
Day, we took the kids to Austin to a natural history
museum. When we got back, there was a package
rapped in gold paper on our front porch. Curious,
I went to look at it. It had a gold star card on the
front and said "To: Mer" in an unfamiliar hand.
Meredith took it in and opened it. Inside was a book

by Mr. Rogers, "When a Pet Dies." Taped to the inside
front cover was the letter we had written to God, in its
opened envelope. On the opposite page, one of the
pictures of Abbey was taped under the words
"For Meredith." We turned to the back cover, and
there was the other picture of Abbey, and this
handwritten note on pink paper:

Dear Mer, I know that you will be happy to know that
Abbey arrived safely and soundly in Heaven! Having
the pictures you sent to me was such a big help. I
recognized Abbey right away. You know, Meredith,
she isn't sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me--just
like she stays in your heart--young and running and
playing. Abbey loved being your dog, you know. Since
we don't need our bodies in heaven, I don't have any
pockets!-- so I can't keep your beautiful letter. I am
sending it to you with the pictures so that you will have
this book to keep and remember Abbey. One of my
angels is taking care of this for me. I hope the little
book helps. Thank you for the beautiful letter. Thank
your mother for sending it. What a wonderful mother
you have! I picked her especially for you. I send my
blessings every day and remember that I love you very
much. By the way, I am wherever there is love.

Love, God, and the special angel who wrote this after
God told her the words.

Let us be the compassionate hands of Christ
to others. Take an extra minute to be kind.

dogs in heaven

Thursday, March 01, 2007

LOST, Spiritual Direction, and Hope

I admit it: I watch LOST. Been watching LOST
since the beginning but it took last night's
episode, "Tricia Tanaka is Dead" to get me
"out of the closet."

I like to think I watch LOST because I am a
spiritual director and like to look at the life
situations of different people to see what
makes life tough for all different kinds of folks.
My theory on LOST is that it is the saving
journey of some archetypal characters whose
life scripts of misery and death desperately
need to be re-written and healed. What
fodder for the spiritual director's notebook!
That's the official version of why I watch
anyway! :)

Last night's episode had a flashback of large,
lovable Hurley as he tries to deal with the
fortune and misfortune that came to him from
winning the lottery by playing those
unlucky numbers. His dad, played by Cheech
Marin, yes, that Cheech, plays a well-meaning
but fallible dad --you can imagine what kind of
dad that might be just by what is conjured up
by your own association with that name.

But Cheech's dad makes one good point,
"Hope is what is needed." Hurley is beginning
to despair of his rich but death-filled life.
He is beginning to feel that forces larger
than himself are conspiring to destroy him
and everything around him. He feels his life
has been taken over by things very large and

Perhaps this is why Hurley lands on the island.
In this episode he goes exploring in the jungle
and comes across, of course, a wrecked
Volkwagon "hippie" van. The bus has the
skeleton (of course) of one of the Dharma
Initiative workers and tons of multi-decade
old beer! Ugh!

Hurley runs to get help. He gets Charlie and
Jin, and a reluctant Sawyer to help him. He
feels he can get the bus started and restore
the bus. The whole idea seems crazy, after all,
they are in the middle of jungle, and have no
real need for a van, plus it is pretty wrecked,
but Hurley sees this as a personal mission.

They roll the van to a top of a ridge and out
before them is the most magnificent vista:
a Garden-of-Eden-like landscape. Hurley
wants them to tip the car, with him in the
driver's seat, down this steep incline so he
can pop the clutch and get the van started.
His friends try to dissuade him because the
incline is very steep and littered with large

He is not to be stopped. He jumps in the
driver's seat, and Charlie then jumps in
next to him, to "ride shotgun." Sawyer and
Jin push them over the ledge and a
dizzlingly fast and steep ride begins.

The van begins to pick up speed and
Hurley looks like, "Oh, my, what have
I done!" Just as it looks like the van
is out of control and that it might hit
a wall of rocks, the engine turns over and
an 8-track, stuck in the 8-track player,
starts playing, "The Road to Shambala"
by Three Dog Night. The mood
immediately and immeasurably lightens
and Sawyer and Jin and Vincent, the
long-missing dog, (who I have, of course,
worried about for months) all jump
into the van and have an idyllic if not
intoxicating and liberating ride.

I have recapped all this, because as I
was watching this I could feel the
profound effect of what was happening
to Hurley, and to Charlie, and even
to the recalcitrant and hardened Sawyer.
Hurley and Charlie were in last ditch
efforts to take back their lives from
a sort of spirit of destruction that had
attached itself to them.

Hurley's hippie dad was right, what
he needed was hope, radical hope, even "hope
against hope." For as anyone knows who has tried
to start a gasoline engine after it has been
sitting idle for years--there is little earthly
reason to expect a positive turnover.

We often get ourselves to the place where
we feel that we are trapped and stalled and
that nothing will get us out of our predicament.
We may feel at the mercy of sinister forces bigger
then ourselves. We may feel that there is little
hope for our life engine to start.

With what shall we fight off these forces
trying to hold us down? As Hurley and
Charles noted, "We must take back our
lives." In dream interpretation it is
often important to note who is driving
a vehicle when it appears in our dreams.
Ideally, I should be driving my own car
or bus or bicycle. If I have given control
of my life to someone else, then they often
end up in my dream world in the driver's
seat of my car.

I breathed a visible sigh of relief when
Hurley took a life-threatening chance
to break free of his bondage. I could
feel something break open within
my own heart: Hope.

The Bible says that "hope deferred
makes the heart sick" (Prov 13:2).
We must have a vision to go on. We must
feel that we are not at the mercy of
malevolent forces. Now as a Christian
I can also say that I am convinced that
God should be in the driver's seat of my
life. Should Jesus, therefore, be appearing
in the driver's seat, in the dreams of a
Christian? I think not.

There is a sense that God does "drive"
the life of a Christian who has turned
over control to Him. But He does not
drive so that we feel "driven" if you hear
what I am saying. He drives to engage
with us: to "pop our clutch" so to speak.
He drives to liberate, to give us "a future
and a hope." He lets us "drive" more
like a dad who lets his child sit on his lap
and "drive." Yet, it is we who get up and
go forward toward Him, feeling that He is
a capable driver who will take us to where
we need to be. That is our hope and it
leads us not to "sit on the beach and mope"
as Hurley suggests, but to faith-filled

As this episode progresses what really
got to me was the look of amazement
on Sawyer's face when the engine started.
There is a classic editor's cut to Sawyer
thinking hard and long about the nature of
life and the possibility of hope in his own life.

And in the background, "up violins,"
the strains of "Road to Shambala"
a place of happiness, and light, being
played sweetly and gently by stringed

It is God who gives us hope--even the
ability to hope. It is we who must
take Him up on it. It is we who must
jump into the broken van of our
life and wholeheartedly plunge
toward Him. It is He who will
break the darkness around us,
He who will liberate, He who will
cause us to live in peace and
reconciliation--not Shambala
but the everlasting Kingdom of
His dear Son. So let us live free, in
great hope, or will surely die.

P.S. A week before this episode aired
I had a vision of myself standing
on the edge of this most
magnificent Garden-of-Edenlike
vista, looking over at the most
dizzyingly steep precipice, knowing
I must be willing to jump and freefall at
a great speed. Way cool. Now how
much awesome divine synchronicity
is that?