Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Fires by Trial

In an age where ‘feelings’ are more valued than ‘knowledge’ the smallest amount of trouble leaves us unprepared and vulnerable, unable to stand against the winds of adversity because our focus is inward and backward not outward and forward. 

Recently a season of difficultly has brought home a tough lesson to me that when tribulation is the new normal, thanksgiving and praise should be the first response. 

This morning reading the daily devotional that I receive from T. Austin Sparks, I could not help but note the confirmation. 

I thought it appropriate to share it here. 

For Him,
November 29

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. (John 1:16 NIV)

When the Lord has blessed and prospered, how many people have not themselves become something? Here is a successful movement! Here is my chance! There is a laying hold of that work, and a turning of it to personal account. That is the history of things. The most dangerous time for the work of God is the time of blessing. You will always find people coming in when there is blessing, not because they have God's end in view, but because a realm of blessing means personal good.... The Lord is calling us on to the fullness of Christ, and sometimes on the way He may let us see the working of His power, that He is with us. 

The world may be against us, the devil may be withstanding, and the Lord lets us see in some little way that He is with us. And then alongside of that there comes the most awful peril, in that we snap our fingers at everything and everybody, and at the devil himself. We are supported by the Lord in the position we have taken! We are vindicated! That is a perilous position. The Lord may have to say, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven! Do not find any personal gratification in the fact that the demons are subject unto you!" It is all in the same realm as glorying in a wrong way in the blessings of the Lord. We have to go on steadily, and take our encouragements when they come, thank the Lord quietly for them, and get on with the main business, not staying to gloat over the fruits of the Lord's blessing in a personal way.

There is a great deal of ground covered by that. It is often a source of so much gratification if only you can tell people of the success that is coming to you in the work of the Lord, how many people are coming, how many souls are being saved, how you are being used, how the Lord's seal is upon you. All unconsciously we take hold of the honor for our own flesh. 

The Lord has to hide so much from us, because it is dangerous for us; our flesh makes it dangerous. We shall be tried by blessing as well as by adversity. The keenest fires of trial are often those of success or prosperity. Such tests discover whether our hearts are fixed upon the Lord or upon things. [emphasis mine]

By T. Austin-Sparks from: Partnership with Christ - Chapter 2 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Grateful for...

...old things that never change and are always dependable.

My daughter came flying in, hair on fire. She needed the spare car key I keep for her. It’s a modern key that’s not really a key but a ‘fob’ that miraculously opens and starts her car. It’s the latest ‘modern’ invention, designed for ultimate convenience. Keyless Entry they call it. Keyless. Convenient. Mindless. Right.

I hate to be an old fogie naysayer but it’s not really a miracle of modern ingenuity. It’s just yet another thing that depends on a battery that can and will go dead. You can count on that for sure. One can never know when this might occur either. One might be in desperate need to get somewhere and find the keyless key does not work. One might get somewhere just fine and then return to the car only to find that the miraculous, convenient keyless entry system has failed and leaves one stranded for the lack of a tiny battery.

We had a discussion about this. I told her my views on mindless modern innovation. She ever so gently reminded me that I am an old-timer and I need to step into the modern world. She left to go find a battery and I sat quietly counting all the cars I’ve owned and the keys that always worked and never once failed me, unless I misplaced them. But keyless keys can be misplaced as well, you know. Which explains why I am the keeper of my daughter’s spare keyless key.

That got me thinking about other things that have been kicked to the curb for the sake of newness. Things that just work being replaced with things that work until they don’t–usually at the most inconvenient time. Why does that make sense?

We’ve been slowly boiled over the decades, conditioned to believe that new is always better. That things should never be allowed to just continue on and work, for pete’s sake! Some of this conditioning began with the diabolical concepts of ‘planned obsolescence’ and ‘disposable’. The mighty god of commerce figured out that people buy more things and replace what they have sooner when things break and run out of power because mass production made it cheaper to replace something than to repair it. Over time the landfills, burdened with the remains of so much disposable invention, launched a great need for a fabulous ‘new’ concept - reusable/recyclable. 

Regardless the trends, at the root of it all we’ve been shaped and reshaped to believe that old is anathema–new and ‘improved’ is the only way to do things. 


Fifty plus years ago I took two very difficult to acquire dollars and purchased a Goody hair cutting tool. No batteries needed, just a pink handle that holds a double-edged razor. As usual I had no money so I could not afford to have someone else cut my hair, and as usual, I taught myself, using the pink razor cutter. At the time, razor cutting was the rage. And, of course, the trend faded and blunt cutting became the new style. The beauty schools stopped teaching razor cutting for several decades (until it came back into vogue). But regardless of trend and style I carried on, cutting my own hair, doing my own thing. As usual.

Recently someone complimented me on my hair style and asked who cuts my hair. I just smiled and replied that I cut it myself. This has happened before and the usual response, in elevated pitch,“You cut your own hair?!” I never get over the shock that I might know how to do such a thing. And my pat reply that helps them get over the incredulity is always, “Well, I’ve been cutting my own hair for more than fifty years so those who would know how to cut my hair the way I like it are either retired or dead.” 

[Cue laughter]

While that might be funny, here’s the serious point. I am grateful for things that work, even and especially if they are old. Things that only require that my brain be engaged, which, incidentally, means I am grateful that my brain is still working even if not at full capacity. 

Every single day I am grateful for the things I know I can count on–for all the things that have and will never fail me. Love of family, genuine friendship, and the Truth of the Word. 

Most of all I am grateful for God’s unfathomable love and patience. We need this old reliable truth more than ever now.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For Him,
Meema fifty years I’ve only replaced the two edged razor about five times. That’s once a decade. Want to argue with that?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


When I mentioned to my friend that I was pulling together materials to create a soft sculptured tree, she replied that the thought made her chuckle. She recalled a time long ago when, as a child, she told her father that “only God could make a tree”. 

And, yes, while that’s a true statement, it’s really more than simply true. It speaks to the human condition of desperately desiring to be our own god or at the least, bringing God down to our level. Since human nature can never mature, this never changes. The Tower of Babble is an ancient classic example of humans believing they could build their own greatness. 

And because of infinite grace, God smiles at the idea, until He stops smiling. That’s when humans find out just how ungreat they really are; how truly small and flawed. The Tower came down and humans were scattered and left unable to communicate with each other. That’s how that ended. Apparently the lesson didn’t hang in very long because we just keep on trying to get to heaven by our own devisings. 

As I began to put the materials together into my facsimile tree it occurred to me how representative it was. For all our intelligence and inventiveness, humans are intrinsically small and flawed. We hustle and fill our days with our all important busyness and striving to build our lives into a form of significance. We carefully craft our beliefs to conform to our own reasonings, with the tools of our own interpretations of what and who God is. Of what truth ought to be. Of where Heaven is. And in so doing we end up with a nicely created facsimile of God. One we can more easily understand. One that we can mold with our hands rather than submit to the other way around. 

But no matter how we build our mighty towers and admire and depend on the wisdom of our own interpretations, ultimately, it comes to this–only God can make a tree. Regardless of our abundant arrogance we can’t even come close. No matter how clever and creative we think we are. 

And God smiles at all the silliness. Until He stops.

For Him,

(Romans 9:20) Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why didst thou make me thus?  (9:21) Or hath not the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?  (9:22) What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction:  (9:23) and that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he afore prepared unto glory,  (9:24) [even] us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles?