..."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)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The everlasting God has in His wisdom
foreseen from eternity the cross that
He now presents to you as a gift from
His inmost heart. This cross He now sends
you He has considered with His all-knowing
eyes, understood with His divine mind,
tested with His wise justice, warmed with
loving arms and weighed with His own hands
to see that it be not one inch too large and
not one ounce too heavy for you. He has
blessed it with His holy Name, anointed it
with His consolation, taken one last glance
at you and your courage, and then sent it
to you from heaven, a special greeting from
God to you, an alms of the all-merciful
love of God.

-- Francis de Sales (1567-1622)

photo taken in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Thursday, March 26, 2009

How Does Your Love Come Across?

There are so many opportunities in life
to give and receive love. Lately, there
seems to be even more. We are all in
vulnerable, challenging positions and
can use encouragement, edification,
and affirmation. And yet it seems
that, of all the Christian virtues,
love is the most challenging to convey.

As I've tried to give love, and as
I've hoped to receive love, I've
given considerable thought to how
the love we have to give comes
across to others, and how their
love comes across to us.

My intent can be to give you love,
but does the other person actually
feel loved? You can intend to give
me love, but do I actually end up
knowing and feeling that?

In order to make any progress with
this we have to look at how God
loves us. If you are a Christian
than I think you can say, at least
in some small way, that you have
experienced God's love. How did
God convey His love to you?

Hopefully the love you have felt
from God is not just a mental
acceptance of His Word telling
you that He loves you, although
His Promise of love is the foundation
of it all. Hopefully you have a tangible,
felt sense of God's love and
it comes across to you in tangible
ways. Even in "the soul's dark
night," when it is difficult
to "feel" anything at all but
pain, much less love from God,
it is still possible to know
the love of God: that's how
powerful it is!

So often our love is locked up
inside of us, felt but not
expressed, intended, but not
activated. Humans are adept
at hiding what they mean,
learned behavior to protect
themselves, or so they believe.

God's love is transparent. It is
not gnostic knowledge, it is not
something we cannot figure out,
although it will take us eternity
to explore it. I am always taken,
as I read the gospels, as to how
the love of Jesus came across.
It was expressed in a myriad of
ways but was always appropriate
and timely to the situation.

Sometimes His love was a show of
compassion (Matthew 9:35 & 36).
He saw the multitudes and was
moved with compassion to help
them because they were like sheep
having no shepherd.

Sometimes His love was straightforward:
"Peter, do you love Me? Feed my sheep!"
calling us out of self-focus and self-pity
to the Father's business.

Sometimes His love was encouraging,
telling the disciples that it was possible
to walk even on water and to not be fearful
(Matthew 8:23-26).

Sometimes His love does not rush to
rescue others from dealing with the
things they must face. "So when
He heard that [Lazarus} was sick he
stayed two more days in the place where
He was" (John 11:6).

Sometimes His love challenges to the
very core: "Do you want to go away, too?"
(John 6:67).

Knowing what is needed in each situation,
knowing how to show the Father's Love
means that we, ourselves, must experience
the Father's Love, watch Him loving us
and loving others, and walk in that same
Love. Human love can be, well, too human.
Well meaning but ineffective. Well intentioned
but missing the mark. Too strict or too
wimpy, too freely given or too cautiously
measured out.

God's love is perfect in season and out of
season but we cannot give it, cannot know
it, if we are hanging on to ourselves.
Our humanity is too calculating. As we
are loved by the Father, let us love
others with that self-same love. It is
the only way.

Ask yourself, "How does my love come
across to others?" Am I known for this
talent or that skill but not known as
a lover of God and a lover of men's and
women's souls?

In these days it is vital that we do not
hide our love under a bushel and that our
love is freely given from our own hearts
that have been greatly loved by God.

Go out there and love our lost and dying
world with the great love of God!

"May we hold up the Lord's standard though
peril or persecution oppose us. Truth
shall triumph. The kingdoms of this
world SHALL become of the Kingdoms
of our Lord, and of His Christ
(Revelation 11:15)

photo taken in, Abergavenny,Wales

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Devotions from the Heart: The Way God Builds

by Derek Gitsham

"Then Solomon began to build the house of
the Lord at Jerusalem in Mt. Moriah, where the
Lord appeared unto David his father in the place
that David had prepared in the threshing floor
of Ornan the Jebusite." 2 Chronicles 3:1

Solomon did not have a say in where the temple
was to be built, it was already chosen by his
father, David. The place is terribly significant
because of the events that had taken place at each
one. Mt. Moriah was where Abraham had been told by
God to go up the mountain to offer up Isaac, his son,
for an offering (Genesis 22:2). Ornan’s threshing
floor was the place where David met the angel, with
sword in hand (1 Chronicles 21:16), after he had
slain seventy thousand men.

David had numbered Israel, which was not to be done
according to the law, and God offered him three
choices as a penalty. He chose none and placed
himself in the hands of God. God took the
initiative and slew seventy thousand. At Ornan’s
threshing floor the Lord commanded the angel to
stop slaying the people. David buys the threshing
floor from Ornan under protest as Ornan wanted to
give it to him. David says, "I must pay for it
‘for how can I offer to God that which cost me
nothing?’" (II Samuel 24:24).

Both these places spoke about death and resurrection.
Abraham offered Isaac up. God stops him as he can
see that Abraham has already had the work done in his
heart. So Isaac is given back to him, a type of
resurrection. The same in the threshing floor, the
price had been paid, sacrifices had been made. David
turns the place into an altar and worships and offers
it back to God. Both pictures speak of death and
resurrection. Here God chooses to build His temple.

The same happened with His people. There is no
building going on except by death and resurrection
going on in the lives of the saints. Daily we have
to die to self and daily we must rise again to newness
of life. God is expecting us to want to die to self,
as that is the only way to be built into His Body.

New Jerusalem, when she comes down from heaven unto
the new earth, has no scaffolding. The building is
finished. Death is God’s way of bringing to life,
and in so doing, He builds His temple in us. Death
and resurrection are His tools. Amen!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It would seem to be unwise to prepare only for
physical calamities without also preparing
for spiritual ones. It is wise to store
water and batteries and rice, but far wiser to
fill your spiritual lamp with oil for the
days to come. Ten virgins went forth. Only
five were prepared. Take heed. --RM Slosek

photo taken in Abergavenny, Wales

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I Have Heard a Rumour From the Lord...

"I have heard a rumour from the Lord'
and an ambassador is sent unto the
heathen saying,"Gather ye together
and come up against her, and rise
up to battle." --Jeremiah 49:14 KJV

A rumour from the Lord--now that would
be something worth listening to. In a
day when this "prophet" says "this", and that
one says, "that"--some false, some true,
some blatantly deranged, what we need to
hear is "a rumour FROM THE LORD." This is
what Jeremiah and Obadiah both heard
(cp. Obadiah 1). Here is not a "new" word,
but an "old" Word that has never lost its
power. The Word of God is like that!

A rumour from the Lord is not gossip,
it is not a hunch, it is not Entertainment
or National Enquirer material:
it is a SURE WORD, a word that will come
to pass. It is hard news, certain tidings,
a declared decree. Plain and simple, its the
unencumbered truth.

In the wake of David Wilkerson's words of
warnings, as sound as they may be, it is a
stronger and more strident pronouncement:
Judgment is coming to the enemies of God, and
of His people, to bring them crashing down.

Those who sit near to God hear His rumours--
even if they are whispered, even before they
are executed. The key is sitting next to God.
The key is listening to His voice and heeding
it. God has promised that he shall do nothing
unless he warn His prophets (Amos 3:7). Not
just any prophet--but HIS prophets.

Here is a sure word: "the terribleness,
that is, the terror you reap on others,
and the pride of your heart will soon be
judged" (Jer. 49:16). God is against
the proud, and those who intimidate
through misuse of power. He is sending
out an envoy to take the proud, and the
illegitimately powerful, most certainly

Pride believes it is invincible, that
its fortress is impregnable, that
it cannot be overtaken. But the sure
rumour is that it will soon be thrown
down and come to nothing. And those
who harm others by the way they wield
power will be torn down by the righteous
Hand of YHWH: the whole earth shall shake
from their fall (Jer. 49:21).

Here is a sure word from the Lord:
"Repent from your pride, cease
from your oppression or you will
reap a calamitous judgment." Here is
a sure word and true--whether you
be saint or sinner alike. God's
people will be chastised and purified,
but the prideful heathen will be cast
down and destroyed. Pride and rebellion
shall be wholly routed.

For on the Lord's mount, Holy
Zion, there shall be deliverance
and there shall be HOLINESS and
the house of Jacob shall possess
their possessions (Obadiah 17).
The house of Jacob shall burn
up the house of Esau. We are
either compatible with the
Lord and His Ways or we will
reap the terror we have sown
and come to a fiery end.

So if you are tempted to fall
prey to listening to worldy rumours,
why not, instead, listen to a
rumour from the the Lord? It is something
to bet the family farm on, and your eternal life.
The Lord's rumour shall surely come to pass.

I have heard a rumour from the Lord,
have you?

The one only and infallible way to go
safely through all the difficulties,
trials, temptations, dryness, or opposition,
of our own evil tempers, is this: It is to
expect nothing from ourselves, to trust to
nothing in ourselves, but in every
thing expect, and depend upon God for relief.

Keep fast hold of this thread, and then let
your way be what it will,darkness, temptation,
or the rebellion of nature, you will be
led through all, to an union with God: for
nothing hurts us in any state but an
expectation of something in it, and from it,
which we should only expect from God.

... William Law (1686-1761),
The Spirit of Prayer [1750],

photo taken at Great Sand Dunes National Park,
Mosca, Colorado

Thursday, March 12, 2009

“As I make my slow pilgrimage through
the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery
seems to gather."

--Arthur Christopher Benson

photo taken on the road to Abiquiu, New Mexico

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Never say to God, "Enough!"; simply
say, "I am ready."

--Sebastian Valfre

photo taken in Colorado Springs

Devotions From the Heart: Hanging On

by Derek Gitsham

And he said, "Let me go for the day
breaketh.’ And he said, "I will not let
Thee go except Thou bless me." Genesis 22:26

This particular part of the story in the
life of Jacob is indicative of him
throughout his life. When he was born,
Esau was the firstborn and Jacob came out
with his hand holding onto Esau’s heel.

In the above encounter again we read that
Jacob is now holding onto the angel that
came and fought with him. Jacob was tenacious
in life; he was determined to get hold of
all that life offered him. While others
slept, he worked, planned and schemed.
The early days of his life were marked by
episodes of scheming: one with his brother’s
birthright, the other with deceiving his
father into believing he was Esau and
obtaining the blessing.

From the womb it was prophesied that Jacob
would be the greater of the two men: that
he would be the inheritor of the blessing of
Abraham, but we read of the awful ways that
Jacob resorted to getting it. All this
would have to change.

The meeting of the angel was all in the
plan of God. If God was going to be able
to use Jacob he had to be changed. Malachi 1
records a verse that says, ‘Jacob I loved but
Esau I hated’ (verse 2-3). Did God love the
desire in Jacob to be blest and despised the
lack of interest in Esau? Only God knows.
Yet God was intent here in blessing Jacob.

The angel meets with a real challenge in him.
Unable to break Jacob’s hold on the angel,
the angel lames him by touching the hollow
of his thigh. He now has a limp, yet
continues to hold onto the angel. The first
grip of the angel was Jacob’s grip; touching
him and weakening him, he now hangs on with
renewed strength, so much so that the angel
asks him to let him go.

Jacob was stronger when weakened, because now
he was in the strength of the Lord. ‘When I am
weak then I am strong’ (II Corinthians 12:10).
As great as natural strength may be it is not
the strength of the Lord. To be able to move
on, and to hang on to God throughout life,
Jacob needed God's strength made perfect in his
weakness. That day Jacob died to himself.
Love of self and his relationship with himself
died and a new relationship arose. Because of
it, he claimed that he saw God face-to-face
and lived.

It was then God had changed his name (verse 30).
All was new. We need His strength now, not our
own, if we are to pursue God and all that lies
ahead for us.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

"Desire not inordinately visions and
revelations (which are sometimes granted
even to the wicked). Those who foolishly seek
after them, and thoughtlessly lend faith
to them, are easily deceived by Satan, who
transformeth himself into an angel of light
(2 Cor. 11: 14), and in order to mislead,
mostly mingles truth with
- Louis de Blois,
"The Spiritual Mirror," Ch. XI

photo taken in Westerly, Rhode Island

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Devotions from the Heart: Five Wise and Five Foolish Virgins

by Derek Gitsham

"Afterward came also the other virgins saying,
‘Lord, Lord open to us.’ But He answered and
said, ‘Verily I say unto you, I know you not.’"
Matthew 25:11-12

The story of the five wise and foolish virgins
is quite alarming. We are told in this story that
the foolish took their lamps, but took no oil with
them (verse 2). The wise took oil in their vessels
with their lamps (verse 4). Because the Bridegroom
tarried longer than expected, the foolish virgins
discovered their lamps went out and had no provision
for their lamps to continue burning. The wise,
however, had extra so when their lamps went out,
they immediately were able to trim their lamps and
get them burning again.

The story starts off the same for all the virgins.
They were all virgin. So are the saints of God,
they are virgin to Him, keeping themselves for their
Savior, allowing nothing to come between themselves
and the Lord. In order for them to keep their lamps
burning they must be dependent on the Holy Spirit
by being fed by the Him (having oil), praying in
the Holy Ghost, and walking in the Spirit. All
these things are supplies. The Spirit’s work in
us supplies the oil for the lamps of our lives.

So what happened with the five foolish virgins? Their
mistake in running out of oil was going to prove costly.
So costly in fact that they were shut out by the Lord,
who claimed also that He never knew them (verse 12).

They obviously began well. All ten were on the starting
line together. Yet somehow there was a neglect on
their part. Forgetfulness and lack of diligence, all
played a role. Not taking the things of God seriously
obviously had dramatic results. This story is one of
those which has an unhappy ending for the foolish
virgins. The foolish virgins were not ready when the
Bridegroom came (verse 10), the wise virgins were.

The wise virgins paid attention to their walks with God:
to them it was a matter of life and death. Jesus said,
‘He that endureth to the end shall be saved’
(Matthew 24:13). The Book of Hebrews has endless
warnings about the need to take heed, ‘If you will
hear His voice harden not your heart…how shall we
escape if we neglect so great a salvation?’

Let this story be a warning to us all. Let us stay
diligent to the end, ‘Let us fear lest a promise of
being left us of entering in to His rest any
of you should seem to come short of it’ (Hebrews 4:1).

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

“Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity
for feeling what it is like to live inside
somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that
there can never really be any peace and joy for
me until there is peace and joy finally for you, too.”

-- Frederick Buechner

photo of Gabriel and Igor