Category Archives: prosperity gospel

thy way not mine, o Lord

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Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be;
Lead me by Thine own hand,
Choose out the path for me.

Smooth let it be or rough,
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it leads
Right onward to Thy rest.

I dare not choose my lot;
I would not, if I might;
Choose Thou for me, my God,
So I shall walk aright.

Take Thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill,
As best to Thee may seem;
Choose Thou my good and ill.

Choose Thou for me my friends,
My sickness or my health;
Choose Thou my cares for me
My poverty or wealth.

The kingdom that I seek
Is Thine: so let the way
That leads to it be Thine,
Else I must surely stray.

Not mine, not mine the choice
In things or great or small;
Be Thou my Guide, my Strength
My Wisdom, and my All.

Horatius Bonar

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this would not be the way I’d have chosen

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If I had to describe this season of my life it would be with the following phrase “this would not be the way I would have chosen.”  God; however, has chosen this path for me.  He has chosen 10 months of debilitating migraines, crippling food allergies and countless nights of restless sleep.  He has chosen to give me no medical explanation or cure.  He has chosen a path formerly unknown to me, a path of new trials and pain.  

 

My Father has tested my faith over and over again, in many ways I hope never to repeat.  He has pushed me beyond my limits and right into His loving arms of care.  He has shown me my utter inability to change my circumstances, but greater still, He has shown me His love.  

 

I love God more now than before this trial began.  I know God loves me even if this trial never ends.  I plead for it to end.  But I trust His sovereign care.  I trust that He knows what’s best and that His desire is not to harm (Lamentations 3:31-33).  He is not vindictive or harsh.  My God weeps over the pains His children endure, and as one of His children, I know without a doubt that His compassion extends to me (Psalm 103:13).  He hears my feeble cries (Psalm 145:19).  He listens to my weak prayers (Psalm 61:2).  He does not condemn my questions and doubts, but instead He cares and wants me to cast those anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7), He strengthens me with His promises (Psalm 119:25, 28).  He comforts me that I will never walk alone (Deut 31:8, Is. 41:8-10, Matthew 28:20), that nothing can separate me from Him (Romans 8:38-39) and that others have successfully walked this path before me (Psalm 88, 27, 91, Hebrews 11-12).  

 

You see, though in my mind, this is the path less traveled, in God’s eyes it is not.  The way of salvation is hard.  The path is rough and few follow on that path of suffering.  But the joys… oh the joys are incomprehensible.  One day, I will be with my Lord.  I will gaze in the eyes of my Savior that suffered worse pain than I could ever know.  He took what I never will – separation from His Father.  I will see others, like William Cowper, who suffered for years in pain, yet chose despite all odds to praise his loving God.  Oh, I long to talk to him about his struggles… about his many nights of depression and doubts and struggling and to hear intimate encounters between him and his God who lovingly held him through each of those nights.  I look forward to meeting those who died daily for Christ, whether by a martyr’s death or in the daily fight against sin.  I want to hear how God was bigger than each horrible circumstance that men and devils created for them to endure.

 

So, in my weakness, He is proving His strength.  In my despair, He is becoming my joy.  He is fulfilling my longings and providing all the comfort my soul needs.  In my agony, He is reminding me that He bore my eternal agony so I could know joy.  I praise Him for His steadfast love and compassion.  I rejoice, as Paul (sorrowful, yet rejoicing) in my infirmities as I see more of His power displayed through my weaknesses.  And I look to Him in faith, my tender, compassionate Father that has the power to give life to this mortal body (Romans 8:11).

do not be afraid

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Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you! I have called you by name–you are Mine! When you go through deep waters and great trouble–I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty–you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression–you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!” Isaiah 43:1-3.

I read this verse this morning and was reminded of the reason we are not to fear.  It doesn’t say “fear not, your trials won’t hurt… fear not, I’ll make this easy for you… fear not, ease and luxury are waiting for you right around this corner.”  NO!  it says “fear not for I have ransomed you.” 

Once again, I find myself outside of my situation, looking at this verse and seeing it through the eyes of the gospel… Emily, don’t be afraid.  Why?  God has already saved you.  He ransomed you when you were running straight towards hell.  He captured your gaze and affection.  Remember all of His promises… He chose you before the foundation of the world… He called you to be His child… He saved you… He declared you righteous… now He is working to conform you to His image… and one day He will present you perfectly faultless and fully glorified.  yeah.  don’t be afraid.  The God who did / is doing all of that… uh huh… He hasn’t forgotten where you are.

That’s where the hope comes from… not “God, please, I beg you… take away this pain.”  but instead “God, I’m so grateful you will NEVER ever leave me, not through the deepest darkest pain.  Never ever!

Am I praying God heals me?  Absolutely!!  Do I want this awful season of migraines to end?  Of course!  But after all that has happened in the past few weeks in my life (sorry, too much to explain), I am more confident than ever that He will never leave.  I’m more aware of His goodness and mercy in my life and I’m more grateful for my wise Father, my loving Jesus and my compassionate Holy Spirit than I ever have been before.

by the way, here’s a link to a REALLY GREAT sermon called “How the Trinity comforts us in our suffering” by Lance Quinn. I listened to it twice yesterday. I’d encourage you to check it out too! :)

new mercies

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i’m grateful for new mercies every morning.  most mornings, i wake up simply longing for another 5 minutes of sleep.  and most mornings, though in my laziness, i give in to that temptation i always find myself still longing for another 5!  :(

 

i’ve been staying up too late this week… reading a new book.  The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun.  As one man stated “you may begin reading the book on your couch, but you will finish it on your knees (source).   Halfway through the book, I have found that to be true. 

 

This man, Yun suffered greatly for his Lord.  He endured many crosses of persecution.  in God’s kindness, the more I read stories like this, the more I am encouraged with the kindness and sovereignty of my God… a God that did not forget Yun in a horrible prison with day after day of torture beyond what my american mind is able to comprehend… and a God that has not forgotten me through my “light and temporary afflictions” that tend to dominate my thoughts, desires and days. 

 

Yun rejoiced when paraded through the streets as a criminal.  What was his crime?  He preached the gospel… that his hope was found in the blood of Christ.  as i’ve read of his joy, i’ve sat on my bed often thinking of the phrase “rejoice with a joy that is inexpressible.”   my faith in a powerful God, a God that restores, a God that saves, a God that redeems and calls my life from the pit… my faith in that God has seen growth this past few days as a result of this testimony.

 

specifically what has been a challenge to me was a period in Yun’s life where he was imprisoned.  He spent months with no access to a Bible, yet he recounts scripture after scripture that that the Lord used to minister to Him during that time.  I’ve been reminded again of the message from Na* this year.  I want to value God’s Words like that.  They are my life.  Yet often I look to them as mere advice or rules.  Do I treat God’s Word with such delight that it is my joy, like this servant of God, to memorize entire books of the Bible and then share them with friends?  Or do I look for my “nugget of the day”?

 

God, i pray that you would show me yet again the feast you’ve given me.  Please don’t let me be satisfied with the little “bites” i’ve been chewing on lately.  Give me more of a hunger, more of a desire, more of a desperate need.

the goal

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“God’s goal for our life is not to simply make us happy.  God’s goal for our life is that we be holy.”

 

Corri mentioned this quote to me yesterday at church.  I was in Promise Land with the kids, so I missed the sermon.  Jim preached an overview / review of 1st Peter with the topic of “bringing God’s Word to Hurting People.”  Listen HERE.

After the past few weeks of unexplained physical weakness and waiting for answers from God, this sermon was very encouraging to me.  How I need the reminder to cast my cares on Him.  How refreshing to remember that He knows my weakness, and that He uses and comforts me even in spite of my weakness and failures.  What joy it brings to my weary heart that He is the One who will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish me… and that my inheritance is based on the sufficient work completed on the cross.

Thanks Jess, for your encouragement to listen to the sermon.  Thanks for your prayers and encouragement and for the way you so consistently earnestly love me. 

Thank you Jesus, for replacing my weakness with Your amazing strength.  Thank you for bearing the weight of my sin so that I could personally know your grace. 

Thank you Father for choosing not to see my sin, but for ALWAYS looking at me through the lens of the cross.  Thank you that the words “it is finished” are now placed on me, in the midst of my weakness, in the midst of my failures, in the midst of my doubts and questioning. 

Thank you Holy Spirit that you encourage and refresh me.  Thanks for giving me the gift of faith.  Thank you for continuing the work of transforming me into the image of Jesus.  Thanks that in the middle of my doubt, you bring to mind the promises of the Almighty Sovereign Triune God who is my personal Comforter.

epic failure

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this week has just been one of “those weeks.”

you know the ones I mean, right?  the one where everything seems to be a mess.  and when it can’t get messier, it some how does?  yup. one of those.

 if i had to pick a theme for this week, it would be “epic failure.”  my mistakes this week for some reason have not seemed like “little” ones, rather “heroic” mistakes.  ha.  :) 

tuesday night I came home from work to make homemade spagetti sauce with tomatoes from the garden.  lo and behold, the tomatoes had simmered for too long and were hopelessly beyond hope.  after trying for 2 hours or so to doctor it up, we ended up dumping it out and saving the veggies to use with some new tomatoes. 

i cried. 

thanks Sarah, for once again, faithfully pointing me to the cross… pointing me to to the humor and hope found in that silly situation and for making me smile as you shared your story of the chocolate cake that catapulted off the counter.  :D

its been a good week at work, just long.  we are running out the production of a vehicle at the manufacturing plant where I work and I am in charge of all the planning details for the runout.  Needless to say, there’s lots to remember. lots of details to coordinate and lots of miscellaneous things that can fall through the cracks.  There was a major computer error today, and, I had no clue how to fix it.  I spent about 3 hours trying and thing just kept getting worse.  Praise God for a helpful IT support guy in Germany that was willing to stay at work late to fix the issue and reset the program!

Despite my feelings, despite my failures and despite my countless sins, my God has proven Himself faithful to me yet again through these past few days.  there seems to be nothing to cling to this week as I look around and see all my fruit in ruins on the ground, but the Master Gardener seems to still be lovingly (albeit painfully) tending the branches still.  He has surrounded me with people who have patiently loved me in spite of my sins, people who have loved me as necessary and corrected me as necessary.  Praise God for both, as they are both a valuable asset to our Christian walk (and praise God for friends He’s given me that are “friend” enough to do both!!)! 

He has given me department managers that despite my lack of experience in my new job, are thankful for me and make an effort to mention that (on almost a daily basis).  Wow.  I don’t want to forget the gift that is.  I’m very aware their thankfulness is not a result of my “great” ability to do my job (because I mess up daily) but rather is a gift from God – an instrument used by my Savior to encourage and bless me.  I’m thankful for my health.  I was able to go to the gym last night for the first time in a few weeks (just finished the body detox program that I was on for the last few weeks). 

I can see God working.  I know He will continue.  He is faithful.  He will not forsake.  I can trust in that.  When I look around and as a result of my “tree,” I see fruit that keeps falling off and lying on the ground in what seems to be a useless way, I can still thank my God for the fruit that He produces in my life.  That fruit, even the fruit that in my mind is not as “perfect” as it should be, can still bring glory to Him.  I long for my life to bring Him glory, whether that is a life of successes or a life of epic failures.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I would much rather have a life of successes.  

But I long for the song we sang last Friday in care group to be the cry of my heart:  “shall I take from your hand the blessings, yet not welcome any pain?  shall I thank you for days of sunshine, yet grumble in days of rain?  you are good when I’m poor and needy.  you are true when I’m parched and dry.  You still reign in the deepest valley.  You’re still God in the darkest night.  Oh, let your will be done in me. In your love I will abide.  oh, I long for nothing else as long as you are glorified.”

gift

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the word “gift” in German means poison, toxin, or venom.  I find this ironic, because often gifts in my own life, God-given means that should bring rejoicing, when viewed without God’s grace in mind, can turn into a venomous poision in my life. 

Example 1:  I love music.  But when I listen to music that turns my heart away from God, that gift becomes a poison that fuses itself deeply into many other areas of my life.  I often listen to music, with no regard for the words.  I need to work on this. 

Example 2:  I love sleep.  but if that gift becomes an indulgence (or a negligence as is often the case for me) then I find that it affects my entire day.  I know I need to sleep more than I often do, in order to avoid periods where I often crash from exhaustion. 

Example 3:  my laptop was given to me about a year ago.  It has been such a blessing on many levels – its been nice to be able to sit comfortably on the floor in my room, leaning up against my recliner just typing away or reading various blogs.  but when the virus killed the poor thing a few months ago, the removal of that gift revealed a grostesque amount of poison in my heart.  Instead of gratefulness, I found myself complaining.  Instead of joy, that gift revealed the poison of anger – how could that gift be taken away? 

I would like to be able to fix the laptop someday soon.  Until then, I’m learning to be content.  I’m learning (albeit imperfectly) to give thanks.  Left to rot in my own sin, every gift from God would poison my soul.  Each one would become an idol. 

By His grace, He takes them away as needed so that I will remember the gifts He has given me… so that I will rejoice in the joy of my salvation and learn to love more deeply the Giver of those gifts.