Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Love Has Come!

Nancy Kruse was called home by her Father God in the late afternoon of November 30, 2010.  Nancy has been a great inspiration, a prayer and praise leader extraordinaire, bringing many into the throne room of God. 

A memorial service of praise and prayer for Nancy will be held at Oak Heights Covenant Church, 1398 South Grade Road, Hutchinson, MN 55350 (320.587.8483) on Friday, Dec. 10, 6:30 p.m. with visitation beginning at 5:30.  Nancy's funeral will be at Waverly Lutheran Church, 1333 220th Street, Trimont, MN 56176-1240 (507-776-4781) on Saturday, Dec. 11 at 11:30 a.m. with visitation beginning at 9:30. Karl's address is 6562 Kingfisher Lane, Eden Prairie, MN 55346.

The post below was written about 17 hours before Nancy passed from this life. 

Please click the link below and listen to this wonderful Mark Schultz Video in honor of Nancy and Karl Kruse.  Give thanks and praise to God.  Trust Him for Nancy, for Karl, for us all... Pray in Jesus' name.  Our Father welcomes us home!  Jesus loves you with a love that will never end. Thank you, Father God!  Thank you for the cross!

(There's a brief 15 second ad for a good cause before the video starts.)
Well, I know this life is filled with sorrow
And there are days when the pain just lasts and lasts
But I know there will come a day
When all our tears are washed away with a break in the clouds
His glory coming down and in that moment

Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess
That God is love and love has come for us all
Every heart set free, every one will see
That God is love and love has come for us all

For anybody who has ever lost a loved one
And you feel like you had to let go too soon
I know it hurts to say goodbye
But don't you know it's just a matter of time till the tears are gonna end
You'll see them once again and in that moment

Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess
That God is love and love has come for us all
Every heart set free, every one will see
That God is love and love has come for us all

Oh, and on that day we will stand amazed
At our Savior, God and King
Just to see the face of amazing grace
As our hearts rise up and sing

Glory, glory, hallelujah
Thank You for the cross
Singing glory, glory, hallelujah
Christ has paid the cost

Glory, glory, hallelujah
Thank You for the cross
Singing glory, glory
Christ has paid the cost
And every knee shall bow, every tongue confess
That God is love and love has come for us all
Every heart set free, every one will see
That God is love and love has come for us all

Love has come for us all
Love has come for us all

And every knee shall bow, every tongue confess
God is love and love has come for us all
Every heart set free, every one will see
God is love and love has come for us all

Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess
God is love and love has come for us all
Every heart set free, every one will see
God is love and love has come for us all

Monday, November 29, 2010

Signs and Warnings

Four weeks ago I had a car accident.  It still mystifies me how I could have not seen that stop sign.  I am so thankful that no one was seriously hurt.

On Saturday we were going out to get a Christmas tree and another of our cars, an old Previa van... one that I hadn't been driving recently because my daughter had it.... that van clunked and bumped in ways that could not have been good.  So I brought it to a local mechanic to see what's wrong.

When I was driving down Hwy 37 four weeks ago, I was feeling peaceful and I had no idea that a disaster was impending.  Likewise, my daughter has been driving the Previa in the cities where there are lots of potholes, so she might have thought the clunking and bumping was normal. 

This is a good lesson.  Just because something might feel peaceful or normal doesn't mean all is well.  Sometimes I need to be alerted by a sign, or by someone who might just know a bit more than I do.

Many times we're tempted to go it on our own and not pay attention to dangers.  Even if someone points out that we need help we're often tempted to ignore that warning.  We like to think we're doing just fine on our own.

Read the following scripture from Matthew 3 and ask: Who or what are the signs you need to pay attention today?  Who is calling your attention to them?  Don't just rely on your own strength or your own feelings.  Listen to the warnings and check it out.
Matthew 3:1-12
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming,
    "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."
This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
    "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' "
Now John wore clothing of camel's hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.

Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many [religious leaders] coming for baptism, he said to them,
    "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Bear fruit worthy of repentance.  Do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
Who do you need to pay attention to today?  What in your life needs to be checked out?  Do you dare believe that someone just might speak for God?  It's good to pay attention because God always warns us for our own good.  He proved that by dying for sinners like me on the cross.

(That reminds me -- I need to make an eye-doctor appointment. I need to get the health of my eyes checked out...  I know I need to do that.  Ignoring it would be just dumb.)


* For more on this subject of "signs and warnings" click ►here◄ to see other posts related to "kairos" moments.  Kairos is the Greek word that the Bible uses for "time" in  Mark 1:15 - The time has come!  The kingdom of God is near!  Repent and believe the good news!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wisdom from McBee & Chambers

One of the things I'm enjoying most about this time between jobs is the time I've been given to deepen and broaden my spiritual life. Like so many things in the Christian life, however, being "deep" has its dangers. The devotion below reminds me of this.

None of us can save him or her self. We're always wrong -- either being too serious, too shallow, or, in my case, too silly. Praise God that he saves, and corrects, even "profound people" like me. The correction can even come in a single sentence:
"Beware of posing as a profound person— God became a baby."
My friend Stephen McBee put that as a status on his facebook wall early this week.  Steve served as youth director here in Cokato in the 1990s until 2000--and then, in 2002-2003 returned again when the church here was in need. I've enjoyed getting to know him a bit through his visits here and through connections by facebook and by phone. Steve has been--and is--a real blessing to many,  He has a great God given sense of humor and an incredible dedication to God's truth.

Here's the rest of the Oswald Chambers daily devotional that Steve quoted:
Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God— First Corinthians 10:31

Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God; they are ordained by Him equally as much as the profound. We sometimes refuse to be shallow, not out of our deep devotion to God but because we wish to impress other people with the fact that we are not shallow. This is a sure sign of spiritual pride. We must be careful, for this is how contempt for others is produced in our lives. And it causes us to be a walking rebuke to other people because they are more shallow than we are. Beware of posing as a profound person— God became a baby.

To be shallow is not a sign of being sinful, nor is shallowness an indication that there is no depth to your life at all— the ocean has a shore. Even the shallow things of life, such as eating and drinking, walking and talking, are ordained by God. These are all things our Lord did. He did them as the Son of God, and He said, “A disciple is not above his teacher . . .” (Matthew 10:24).

We are safeguarded by the shallow things of life. We have to live the surface, commonsense life in a commonsense way. Then when God gives us the deeper things, they are obviously separated from the shallow concerns. Never show the depth of your life to anyone but God. We are so nauseatingly serious, so desperately interested in our own character and reputation, we refuse to behave like Christians in the shallow concerns of life.

Make a determination to take no one seriously except God. You may find that the first person you must be the most critical with, as being the greatest fraud you have ever known, is yourself.
Such a good reminder. Thank you Oswald, and thank you Steve McB.  It's one of the most profound things I've ever read. ;-)


Friday, November 26, 2010


“It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it... ” (Isaiah 2:2, ESV)
Watch out, as you go through these holidays, that the season does not make you even more rooted in "things" that can take you away from what will be far more important, far better, and much more lasting than the things of this earth.  Though the things of God be invisible for now, they will be the only thing that lasts.

We need to hear this word from God.  Today, as the world would keep you busy with shopping and decorating, stop and consider this truth.  Cry out to the Lord Jesus.  Ask Him to give you peace and perspective, so the devil, the world, and your sinful self will not triumph, even for a day.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving As An Act of Faith

There are many things and many people for whom I will be thanking God this year, but there's a sense that, this year, we are experiencing this holiday in a way that is, perhaps, more true, more honest, more connected with real life.

The first American Thankgiving and the various thanksgivings in the Bible (including one in Deuteronomy 26) occur when something good has happened, that's true, but while the future is in doubt. 

In a minor way, we can resonate with that this year.  Last year I celebrated Thanksgiving as pastor of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cokato.  I had no idea that I would be unemployed this year and living thanks to a transitional support agreement.  We have food, shelter, and everything else we need, but we don't know how things will be tomorrow.  It's uncertain.  But still, we will give thanks.

Always and everywhere, Thanksgiving is truly an act of faith.  It's an act of faith because we give thanks to the God whom we cannot see.  And it's an act of faith because we don't know, except through faith, that things will turn out, in the end, in a way that are worth giving thanks for.

Because of Jesus, and his death and resurrection for us, we know that someday, all will be well.  We will keep that in mind as we celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

Deuteronomy 26
    “When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there. 3 And you shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, ‘I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our fathers to give us.’ 4 Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the LORD your God.
    5 “And you shall make response before the LORD your God, ‘A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. 6 And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. 7 Then we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8 And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders. 9 And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O LORD, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the LORD your God and worship before the LORD your God. 11 And you shall rejoice in all the good that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you."


Sunday, November 21, 2010

A House Of Prayer

This morning I heard a sermon by Karl Kruse.  I got to know Karl, but not well, as he was pastor at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Hutchinson.  In recent months however, through this year's spiritual storms, many of us here in the Dassel-Cokato area have gotten to know and love Karl and his wife Nancy through a series of events that I can only call miraculous--all in response to prayer.  I'll never forget the Thursday evening in April when, after the prayer team had met, God arranged for a "Prayer School" with Bjorn Peterson and Prayer Watch International to be hosted here in Cokato.  It was amazing grace--grace that continued today.

Karl sent me the notes he followed during his sermon.  You can access them here.  You can listen to Karl's sermon by going to this Sermon Network link.  He plans to be back in Cokato on January 7-8 for a Friday evening through Saturday afternoon introduction to "The Exciting World of Prayer.  Learn more by contacting Pastor Karl at 951-378-3479 or pwikarl@aol.com.

Here are some of Karl's key points from my very sketchy notes:
  • God is doing cleansing work so his church will be a House of Prayer (Matthew 21:12ff).
  • Start with prayer (First Timothy 2:1-4) in everything you do as a church.  
  • Prayer is how we seek God's Kingdom and His Righteousness.  It isn't just one program (or "silo") among many others (Matthew 6:33).
  • God wants His Holy Spirit of Grace and Prayer to flow over the church (Zechariah 12:10).
  • Dependent prayer produces a deep relationship with God.
  • A wise builder will carefully check the prayer foundation before beginning (Matthew 7:24-29).
  • Storms expose the foundation of our lives--and of churches.
  • A strong foundation comes from a life of prayer.
  • Prayer involves listening (Luke 24:32) and acting in obedience (James 1:22).
  • Prayer is the place of beginning.  Without it growth and revival will not occur.
  • When we work, we work.  When we pray, God works.
  • Much of a foundation is not seen--prayer also is often not seen.
Please pray for Karl and his wife Nancy.  Nancy will be going to her Father God's home soon.  She's in what seems to be the end stages of a battle with cancer.  Pray that Karl and Nancy would know the peace of God that passes all understanding.  It's available to us all when we pray in Jesus' name.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Place to be Real

Yesterday at Edgewood Gables I had my chance to preach on the parts of the Bible that many of you will hear preached about on Sunday--Luke 23:32-43.

The scene is a placed called "The Skull," where a condemned criminal yells at Jesus--Jesus is also condemned--they're both being executed.  The first criminal yells at Jesus--"Aren't you the savior?  Why don't you save yourself and us?"  The story goes on to tell about a third man who defends Jesus and asks Jesus to remember him--and Jesus says: "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."  Soon thereafter, Jesus dies.  Praise God he doesn't stay dead--after Jesus is buried he rises from the dead.  From there we have the promise of our own resurrection when we trust our Lord.

I'd like to think I'd be like the second criminal--the one who defends Jesus and humbly asks to be remembered, but, honestly, I think I'm sometimes screaming at the Lord:
DO something! 
Make things better!  Enough already! 
Are you just going to leave me hanging? 
Aren't you my SAVIOR?
Am I always pious and polite?  No.  Sometimes I'm pretty raw.  Sometimes the Law of God comes down on me in the words of the second criminal: "Don't you fear God?  You are being punished as you deserve."

Deep down inside, I am a sinful man who thinks he has some sort of "rights" before God.  But what rights does a criminal have other than to be punished?  My sinful attitudes, words and actions "entitle" me only to be rejected by God!  Instead of screaming insults at the Lord; instead of thinking about how unfair God is--I should be grateful for every smallest little tiny blessing that I've ever enjoyed.  Praise God for his mercy--even if this present time is full of pain.

When I come to the cross in total honesty, that's what I learn.  That's what I learn when I'm honest and real before God.  And I need a place that will let me be real.  I need a place where I can be confronted with the evil that lurks within me.  I need a place to be knocked to my knees.

But in order for this to work, in order for me to allow God's Word to hit me hard, I need to know that the messengers of God's Word are not "all that."  Pharisees make poor preachers.  Self-righteous leaders leave me cold and hard.  And I need Christian friends too, Christian friends who "walk with a limp," people who have wrestled with God and who have, in the end, been humbled by him.

I need to hear God's Word alongside other human sinners--not with people who seem to have it all together.  I need a place where people won't talk down to me as if they are better than me.  I need a community of saints who know they are sinners, a community of people who have experienced the wrath of the God who takes all of our sins on himself.  I need a place where people won't excuse my bad attitudes and bad behavior and evil words, but will deal with me as one sinner to another.

Through Christian family and friends like that--and through a church like that--I can hear God's Word.  I need to hear this message: You're not okay and neither am I--BUT there is someone almighty powerful who is okay with that.  His name is Jesus Christ, and he died to forgive you, you greedy, self centered, unsatisfied, unfaithful sinner!  He has taken my burden of sin, and he will take yours too as we come to him.  Over and over again.

That's what I hope church can be.  A Place to Be Real.  That's what I'm waiting for.  I am confident that God will give us this.  In his time.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Faith In Action

Please help Faith in Action of Wright County!  Here's an email received this morning about "GIVE TO THE MAX DAY" - tomorrow, November 16.  I am a prospective member of the Faith In Action board.  Learn more about how Faith In Action helps our elders and our handicapped brothers and sisters at www.faithinactionwc.com. Honestly, I don't think you need to wait until tomorrow!
Hello friends and family!

I want to take this opportunity to let you know how your small donation to our program can be maximized this coming Tuesday, November 16th.  That day is Give to the Max Day.  Any donations given on our secure website on that day will allow us to continue to provide our care receivers (clients) with the much needed services they so desperately need assistance with.

Faith in Action of Wright County’s mission is to help the elderly and disabled in Wright County maintain their independence at home.  We accomplish this by providing volunteer assistance for everyday activities such as:  grocery shopping; transportation to medical, dental and therapy appointments; respite; visitation; light housekeeping and seasonal yard work. Our Faith in Action volunteers are family to some of our care receivers (clients) that actually have none or no one that live near them.  Here is your chance to be part of our family, too!

Go to:  www.faithinactionwc.com  any time on November 16th and click on our Donate Now button.  Every hour a program will be chosen to receive an additional $1,000 if they have a donation coming in at that time. Any donation, any time of the day, is much appreciated! 

Thanks for making the difference in the lives of those we serve!  Thanks, too, for making a difference in the lives of those you encounter everyday!

Blessings to you today and everyday--

Allison Moser
Program Director, Faith in Action of Wright County
PO Box 613
Buffalo, MN  55313

Feel free to forward this on to anyone you feel may be interested in our mission!  Thanks!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

On the Other Hand

For quite some time a particular Bible verse has been important to me.  It's from John 3:30 where John the Baptist says "He (Jesus) must become more, I must become less."  It's been a kind of theme or principle of life--a way of understanding how God is at work, humbling me and bringing me through a long period of testing.  It's also been a way of coping with what has seemed to be a journey toward insignificance.  Other scriptures reinforce this theme, including Philippians 2:3 "Do nothing with a spirit of competition or because you think you are so good or perfect, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves."

On the other hand, there are times when boldness is required.  Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians was written at such a time.  Paul becomes bold to the point where he knows he will come off as foolish (2 Cor 11:1).  Paul defends his authority as the Corinthian church's spiritual father, pleading with them out of love to not disrespect or forget what God had done through his work in their midst.  Even though he knows that he might seem childish or prideful or jealous, he says it's God's will for the people to learn what he has to say.  Read the book of Second Corinthians and see for yourself - especially see chapters 10-13.

Which should we be emphasizing now?  Should we slip away and let things take their course, or should we boldly assert ourselves according to God's will?  There is a time for each.  Please pray that the Lord would grant the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to me and Toni as we discern how he would have us proceed from here.

Father God, grant your measure of boldness and humility, and help us know when and how to act according to each in their time.  In Jesus' name.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Don't Forget

As we follow God into the future, let us consider how God desires us to carry forward how God has blessed us thus far.  Let us not despise the work our Lord has done in past years.  Who has blessed you?  Who has the Lord used to bring you to faith?  How have you seen the Lord at work?  What is God calling us to remember?

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.” (Isaiah 51:1)

“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” (2 Timothy 1:5)

(For more on this, see Tracing New History.)


Friday, November 12, 2010

I Lost the Game

There's a game my kids taught me some time ago.  I can't give you any more details in this public forum.  Make a commitment to play it for life and I'll let you in on what it's all about.  My Lithuanian friend Gintare reminded me of the game via facebook -- and now I lost again.  Thanks a lot, Gintare.  As taip pat pralosiau zaidima.

God wants us to lose.  On and off over the past few months I've meditated on a verse from Romans 3:4 - "Let God be true and everyone else a liar" - together with First Corinthians 1:19 where God destroys human wisdom and rejects our feeble attempts to understand what he's up to.  God wants to bring us to a place where we give up and give him complete control.

Have you realized yet how wrong you are?  This doesn't happen just once.  God wants to be boss always, and when we think we know too much, God brings us down.  God brings us through times when knowing we are fools is the most important thing.  During this season of my life, I pray God will give me the grace to be thankful when I lose to Him.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Peace Beyond Understanding

Last night at Northwestern College I sat in on a part of a class in apologetics.  The professor started with by sharing some thoughts and a prayer time based on Bible verses like these from Isaiah, where God says:
"I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things." (Isaiah 45:4b-7)
This portion of scripture is an example of what is called the "Sovereignty of God."  Because God is the creator of all things, God is ultimately in control--even of those things that are evil.  In the past, I've seen this as something terrible.  Now, however, I find it comforting.  Ultimately, in the end, we can trust that God has everything in his hands.  We know that's good because God is most clearly known in Jesus Christ, who gave his life for sinners like me.  What peace!  Even when it's beyond my comprehension, nothing is beyond the reach of the Master's hand.  No matter what, because of Jesus, we can trust.  We can allow God's plans to work themselves out.  How sweet it is.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On Being Lutheran

I've been asked, recently, why it's good to be Lutheran.  Every church denomination has it's problems.  So why is being Lutheran a good thing?

For me, if I had to put it in a brief statement, it would be something like what is summarized in Martin Luther’s explanation to the third article of the Apostles' creed.
It’s good to be Lutheran because Lutherans understand that we cannot believe or trust or come to Jesus by our own reason, understanding, strength or effort but, in terms of having a good relationship with God, all the initiative is God’s and God’s alone.
Lutherans get that right.  Jesus loves me just because He does.  He chooses to do so.  It's not because I'm good or worthy in any way.  It's not because I've said the right words or done the right things.  He simply chooses to love me and He reveals that to me through His Word.   I know of no other Christian denomination that is as clear and true on that one important point.

So what about our response to God's Grace?  That comes about through the work of the Holy Spirit, who works in us and through us when we give up our own initiative and live by God's Word and God's Will.  The good things we do and say and think and pray--they are VERY IMPORTANT, but they also begin with God.

Let me know what you think.  I've already revised this after getting feedback from a friend! ;-)

See also:
A previous post on this subject from May 27.
and Faith Does Not Dwell in our Brain
and Held By Truth


Friday, November 5, 2010

Papa Please

I know it's the wrong season to be talking about fishing, but an image came to me today as I was preaching on Luke 20:27-40 where a snarled, tangled family situation is described.  When I was a kid I learned to cast with a fishing reel a lot like the one pictured -- and it would get snarled and tangled fairly often.  And I thought of knotted and tangled shoe laces.  I'd try to undo them but, when I was small, I had to bring them to mom or dad and ask for help. 

Knotty situations and snarled relationships abound in our world because of sin.  Sin, as it's described in the LBW's order for marriage is "our age old rebellion" by which "the gladness" of God's gift "can be overcast and the gift of family can be come a burden."  In Luke 20:27-40 a situation is described where seven brothers each marry the same woman in succession, one after another dies and one after another each brother marries her.  The story is told to trip Jesus up, to trap him by describing a problem that can't be unraveled--even by God.  These opponents of Jesus believe there is no unsnarling this.  They think it's best to just accept the reality and realize that even God can't make it all okay--better just to die.

Jesus' Father, however, the one he encourages us to call "Abba" (like "Papa" or "Daddy"), He does all things well.  There is no snarl too complicated for Papa God to fix.  If in this world there's no way, God makes a way in the new world.  "In the resurrection," says Jesus, we "neither marry nor are given in marriage."  When we trust in Him the time will come when we will be clearly and obviously "like angels and sons of God" -- newly born again in the resurrection of the dead.  The time will come when all will be well, even the worst and most tangled of individual and family stories.  What an excellent thing.

I believe God wants to break into our world today with that hope--and with little or BIG signs of his untangling love.  Let's ask our Papa God to come and untangle the mess we've made of our lives.  Let Papa God go to work granting forgiveness and new beginnings where we believe all is lost.

Is your family or your life... or your church... is it all a snarled, tangled mess today?  Don't give up.  Papa God will help.  Bring your request to Him.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

When I Am Weak

This has been quite a week.  There have been accidents.  Pain has been expressed.  There was an outbreak of trouble among those I love.  Maybe that's why I haven't blogged since last Friday.  I'm fine physically, but this week has definitely been another time of trial--another test.

In an email I received the day before yesterday, a professional friend said,
"I would concur with your earlier observation that we are aligned against principles and principalities of evil in this world, and the battle rages on."
The battle, of course, is with sin and evil in the world and in my life and heart--and in your life and your heart.  More than one of these difficulties came upon me this week, and also friends and family members, not simply from "bad luck" but because of sinful stupidity.  The humiliations are only surpassed by the costs in pain and suffering and cash.  The worst is that, in more than one case, innocent bystanders were hurt.  I feel so guilty--and thankful for Jesus' love and grace, given at the cross for sinners like me.

Please pray that all who have been hurt by whatever means will be fully healed--physically, spiritually and emotionally, in the way and in the time chosen by God.

* * * * * * *

In any case, I this morning I was blessed as I read the following from Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening. I included it here after slightly updating the language*, in the hopes that it will bless you too.
“For my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of success, and for doing God’s work well and triumphantly, is a sense of our own weakness. When God’s warriors marches forth to battle, strong in our own might, when we boast, “I know that I shall conquer, my own right arm and my conquering sword shall win me the victory,” defeat is not far distant.

God will not go forth with us when we march in our own strength. When we plan on getting victory that way we are wrong, for “it is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” They who go forth to fight, boasting of their prowess, shall return with their merry banners trailed in the dust, and their armor stained with disgrace.

Those who serve God must serve Him in His own way, and in His strength, or He will never accept their service. That which we do, unaided by divine strength, will not be approved by God. God will not receive mere human efforts as His own. He will only embrace those good things that come from His own initiative, the fruit of seed that was sown from heaven, watered by grace, and ripened by the sun of divine love.
God will empty out all that belongs to you before He will give you his own powerful blessing; He will first clean out your granaries before He will fill them with the finest of the wheat. The river of God is full of water; but not one drop of it flows from earthly springs. God will have no strength used in his battles but the strength which He Himself imparts.

Are you mourning over your own weakness? Take courage, for there must be a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give you victory. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up.

When I am weak then am I strong,
Grace is my shield and Christ my song.”

I pray that all of us will know God's strength even as He empties us of our own.


*Some reading this may wonder why, when I updated Charles Spurgeon's writing from the mid 1800s, I kept using "He" and "Him" as pronouns for God.  After all, God is not a man and God is not male.  Christians, however, know God only has God has been revealed to us.  The clearest revelation of God is in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who called God "Abba" (meaning "Daddy," "Papa," or "Father")  Therefore Christians are bound to refer to God, mostly, as "Him" or "He" etc.  For more on this see Dan Biles' brief article on the Wordalone website, listen to Robert Jenson's hour long presentation "Speaking Of, To and For the Triune God" from the 2010 Lutheran CORE Theological Conference or download a pdf of my 1982 seminary paper "'Father' and 'Son' in the Naming of God: A Necessity for Christians?"