Poetry Saturday—Diary Of An Old Soul

Lord, I have fallen again—a human clod!
Selfish I was, and heedless to offend;
Stood on my rights. Thy own child would not send
Away his shreds of nothing for the whole God! 
Wretched, to Thee Who savest, low I bend:
Give me the power to let my rag-rights go
In the great wind that from Thy gulf doth blow. 

Keep me from wrath, let it seem ever so right:
My wrath will never work Thy righteousness.
Up, up the hill, to the whiter than snow-shine,
Help me to climb, and dwell in pardon’s light.
I must be pure as Thou, or ever less
Than the design of me—therefore incline
My heart to take men’s wrongs as Thou tak’st mine. —George MacDonald

Poetry Saturday—God Is Sufficient

George MacDonaldIt is easy to love Him when the blue is in the sky, 
When summer winds are blowing, and we smell the roses nigh; 
There is little effort needed to obey His precious will 
When it leads through flower-decked valley, or over sun-kissed hill.

It is when the rain is falling, or the mist hangs in the air, 
When the road is dark and rugged, and the wind no longer fair, 
When the rosy dawn has settled in a shadowland of gray, 
That we find it hard to trust Him, and are slower to obey.

It is easy to trust Him when the singing birds have come, 
And their canticles are echoed in our heart and in our home; 
But ’tis when we miss the music, and the days are dull and drear, 
That we need a faith triumphant over every doubt and fear.

And our blessed Lord will give it; what we lack He will supply; 
Let us ask in faith believing—on His promises rely; 
He will ever be our Leader, whether smooth or rough the way, 
And will prove Himself sufficient for the needs of every day. —George MacDonald

5 Ways To Live As A Free Servant

Peculiar not popularWe Americans love our freedom! But “freedom” is often misused and even abused—

  • We have sexual freedom … but not the “freedom” to say no.
  • We have freedom of expression … unless it’s “offensive” to me.
  • We have freedom of speech … unless I think it’s “hate speech.”

Freedom usually means: I am free to do what I want when I want to do it, but you are free to only do what I agree to. In other words, “freedom” has become subjective and selfish. For Christians, citizens of Heaven who are passing through Earth, the Bible calls us to use our freedom in a different way.

[1] Make sure your freedom is based in reverence for God (1 Peter 1:17). God is the One who will judge our actions. The Amplified Bible adds, “conduct yourselves in reverent fear of Him and with profound respect for God.”

[2] Live good lives, shown by your good deeds (1 Peter 2:12). The word good here means beautiful, useful, beneficial. In other words, the emphasis is more on action than on talk. George MacDonald wrote, “The time for speaking seldom arrives, the time for being never departs.”

[3] Do good to silence foolish talk (1 Peter 2:15). Notice the contrast between doing (the citizens of Heaven) and merely talking (the citizens of Earth). Good doing always trumps good talking.

[4] Live as free servants (1 Peter 2:16). That sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? A free servant?! But this is the same word used to describe Jesus in Philippians 2:7. It’s also how Jesus lived. In fact, the only time Jesus said, “I have set you an example” is when He was being the lowest of servants.

[5] Never forget the Cross (1 Peter 2:21-24; 4:1-6). Because of what Jesus did on the Cross for us, we die to sins and live for righteousness. Because of the Cross, we are to live differently from Earthlings.

When we live in this peculiar way, it gets noticed:

Simple question: If you are a Christian, are you living the way Peter instructs you to live?

We will be continuing our Aliens and Strangers series next Sunday, and I would love to have you join me. If you cannot be with us in person, tune-in to our Periscope broadcast (search for @craigtowens).

Links & Quotes

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“The time for speaking seldom arrives, the time for being never departs.” —George MacDonald

David Wilkerson has some encouraging words for those in a dark place: “When we’re in the midst of a trial, we must get our eyes off our troubles. In just such times, we need to encourage ourselves, saying, ‘My God can do anything—and He hasn’t forgotten me. He has His eyes on me right now….’” Read more of his post on trusting God here.

And Max Lucado remind us, “We need to know that God is near. We are never alone. In our darkest hour, in our deepest questions, the Lord never leaves us!” Read the rest of his post He Is In Charge.

J. Warner Wallace shares yet another way the existence of consciousness demonstrates the existence of God.

Alan Shlemon tackles a heavy question with some sage advice: Should same-sex attracted Christian men be in a platonic relationship?

Tim Elmore writes, “Our society today unwittingly encourages our kids to simply ‘blend in’—to do what’s asked of you, but only what’s asked of you. In fact, we condition them to do the bare minimum requirement to get by, to look for loopholes and shortcuts. As a result, too many of our gifted young athletes, academicians, and other performers carry this ‘good enough’ mindset with them. They are fine with being ‘average.’” Read the rest of Tim’s post here, and check out a poem I shared earlier about being average.

[VIDEO] Ken Davis always cracks me up—

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

“I have learned…that the Lord can fill the soul with Himself, when He takes away what seemed indispensable to our happiness on earth.” —Andrew Bonar

In a day of endless distraction and diversion, there is no greater remedy for our clouded heads and hectic lives than the sober mind of Christ.” Read more in this post: Finding A Level Head In A Hectic World.

“Prayer really is simple. Resist the urge to complicate it. Don’t take pride in well-crafted prayers. Don’t apologize for incoherent prayers. No games. No cover-ups. Just be honest—honest to God. Climb into His lap. Tell Him everything that’s on your heart. Or tell Him nothing at all. Just lift your heart to heaven and declare, ‘Father … Daddy.’ Stress. Fear. Guilt. Grief. Demands on all sides. And all we can summon is a plaintive, ‘Oh, Father.’ If so, that’s enough. Your heavenly Father will wrap you in His arms!” —Max Lucado

Some super-cool pictures of the work that won the 2014 Nobel Prize for chemistry.

[INFOGRAPHIC] The size, spread and cost of Ebola.

I have been saying this was coming: Pastors in Houston have their sermons subpoenaed to make sure they are “correct.”

“The time for speaking seldom arrives, the time for being never departs.” —George MacDonald

“The Word of God ignores size and quantity and lays all its stress upon quality. Christ, more than any other man, was followed by the crowds, yet after giving them such help as they were able to receive, He quietly turned from them and deposited His enduring truths in the breasts of His chosen 12.” —A.W. Tozer

Links & Quotes

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Some interesting reading from today…

“A gracious Hand leads us in ways we know not, and blesses us not only without, but even against, our plans and inclinations.” —William Wilberforce

A cool article about George MacDonald’s influence on C.S. Lewis.

Ken Davis uses an optical illusion to make a fantastic point in his post Perception Or Reality?

The son of a Hamas founder confirms that this terrorist group targets civilians.

[INFOGRAPHIC] This is a win-win: Benaiah featured on The Overview Bible Project.

Praise God!! Millions of Muslims converting to Jesus Christ!

“Commend me to the Christian who says, ‘I bless God I am saved; now what can I do for others?’ The first thing in the morning he prays, ‘God help me to say a word to some soul this day.’ During the day, wherever he may be, he is watching his opportunity, and will do good if he can.” —Charles Spurgeon

“There’s a great deal of trust in the love of God, and a great deal of love in the trust of God.” —John Piper

Links & Quotes

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Some links to some interesting reading and quotes I found today.

Good thoughts from John Stonestreet: How Will Your Church Deal With Same-Sex “Marriage”?

If we divide ourselves between God and Mammon, or Christ and self, we shall make no progress. We must give ourselves wholly to holy things or else we shall be poor traders in heavenly business, and at our stocktaking no profit will be shown.” —Charles Spurgeon

A very intelligent post on the Noah movie: Gnosticism And Kabbalah In Aronofsky’s Noah. And if you want to read Dr. Brian Mattson’s complete post (which is referenced in the Gnosticism article), read Sympathy For The Devil. Here is one passage from Dr. Mattson’s post—

“In Darren Aronofsky’s new star-gilt silver screen epic, Noah, Adam and Eve are luminescent and fleshless, right up until the moment they eat the forbidden fruit. Such a notion isn’t found in the Bible, of course. This, among the multitude of Aronofsky’s other imaginative details like giant Lava Monsters, has caused many a reviewer’s head to be scratched. Conservative-minded evangelicals write off the film because of the ‘liberties’ taken with the text of Genesis, while a more liberal-minded group stands in favor of cutting the director some slack. After all, we shouldn’t expect a professed atheist to have the same ideas of ‘respecting’ sacred texts the way a Bible-believer would. Both groups have missed the mark entirely. Aronofsky hasn’t ‘taken liberties’ with anything. The Bible is not his text.

Fathers, here are 7 Things A Good Dad Says.

Parents not allowed to cheer for their own kids on the basketball court?! Yep! Check this out from Dr. Tim Elmore: The Rules We Create When We Lack Emotional Intelligence.

“When we cannot climb the ladder of prayer, surely God comes down to the foot of it where we lie. … We are His and He is of our kind—only all that is infinitely better.” —George MacDonald

“Are you aware of a brother or sister whose marriage is in turmoil? If so, what do you do about it? Do you merely tell others what a shame it is that they are about to break up? Or do you bring up their names to the Lord and strive for them in prayer? Do you desire this ministry of being a helper in prayer? If you don’t know anyone with a need, start by praying for all Christian marriages and all of God’s saints. Your prayers do not have to be long. Simply state your request, and trust God to hear you.” —David Wilkerson

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