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Showing posts from September, 2010

The Red Cord

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The people of Jericho were scared to death by the reports they had heard of the Israelites and their victories under Moses and Joshua. Now the news of the miraculous crossing of the River Jordan, and the camp of the enemy had been pitched outside their walls.

Joshua sent two spies into the city. Through circumstances unexplained in the account they had found their way to the household of Rahab, a prostitute. They spoke of their confidence in the promise of God that Joshua would soon win the city. Rahab was given grace to believe their report. She offered to hide the two, and then to steer away the guards of Jericho, as they made their escape.

What would the spies offer in return?

It was agreed that Rahab would identify her apartment with a red cord suspended from her outer window. Perhaps we could see this act as a public confession of the sins of this 'woman in red'. Rahab wagered her life on the combination of this act of submission with the promise offered for deliverance. She…

Thanks, Bill...

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Sonnet XXIX.

WHEN, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deal heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

(William Shakespeare)

Note: Can this be said of a lover, a spouse, a child, a friend, a Saviour?

The Dove Comes to the Lamb

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Over sixty years ago Roy Hession wrote the classic entitled The Calvary Road, examining the things indispensable to revival, of the individual first, and then of the church community.

There is much said about brokenness of spirit, relinquishment of personal rights, repenting of all known sin, trusting in the cleansing power of the Blood of Calvary, walking in the ways of the "unprofitable servant" (Luke 17: 7-10), avoiding the critical spirit, demonstrating the change in manner of fellowship with others.

A chapter of particular note is entitled "The Dove and the Lamb". Our target and the Church's target is to be increasingly more like Jesus through the input of the Holy Spirit. But the Dove will only come to rest on the Lamb. The author refers here to the image of Jesus being baptized at the River Jordan by John. There is much profit in studying the characteristics of this Lamb:

He is a simple Lamb - no guile, scheming or strategy for personal advantage.

He is a sh…

Just Checking?

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Are you doing the Lord's work? Or are you doing your thing for the Lord? There is an important difference.

A calling faces a present need in the Body of Christ which has been impressed upon your spirit and which cannot be denied based upon personal limitations or opportunity. If the Lord wants to use you He will give the irrepressible impression and everything else. He is pulling the instrument from the tool box. He is wielding it. The instrument may take no personal credit. Indeed, wants none.

This calling will also be subject to change at the Lord's will. The instrument MUST remain teachable, listening, humble, undaunted by adversity or temporary set-back. Ready also for new marching orders. Look at the battles faced by a Moses or Barnabus or Wilberforce or Brainerd.

Now compare another scenario seen too often in the churches. A spiritual gifting inventory is conducted among promising parishioners. Pastor and other leaders conclude that candidate "Charlie" is gifted a…

Bending Like the Willows

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(Taken from Like Christ by Andrew Murray - In His Humility)

The blessedness of a Christ-like humility is unspeakable. It is of great worth in the sight of God: "He giveth grace to the humble." In the spiritual life it is the source of rest and joy. To the humble all God does is right and good. Humility is always ready to praise God for the least of His mercies. Humility does not find it difficult to trust. It submits unconditionally to all that God says. The two whom Jesus praises for their great faith are just those who thought least of themselves. The centurion had said, "I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof;" the Syrophenician woman was content to be numbered with the dogs. In intercourse with men it is the secret of blessing and love. The humble man does not take offence, and is very careful not to give it. He is ever ready to serve his neighbor, because he has learnt from Jesus the Divine beauty of being a servant, He finds favour with God and…

Grey Highlands Perspective

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Split-rail weaving
The golden-rod and purple*.
Split-rail riding
The moraine up-and-down.
Split-rail barring
The grazing beast from garden.
Split-rail luring
The wanderer from town.

Split-rail telling
The truce of farm and wood-lot.
Split-rail boasting
The skill of antique art.
Split-rail hosting
The bluebird's sweet domestic.
Split-rail keeping
The corn and beans apart.


Split-rail etching
The shadows at the margin.
Split-rail launching
The hawk's flight overhead.
Split-rail framing
The lattice of the harrow.
Split-rail guarding
The markers of the dead.

Split-rail edging
The gravel path to cabin.
Split-rail foiling
The season's amber, rust.
Split-rail drawing
The heart to hardy forbears.
Split-rail adding
A living touch to dust.



Split-rail backing
The pumpkins at the lane-way.
Split-rail squaring
The hillock and the pond.
Split-rail soothing
The feathered horse at sunset.
Split-rail mapping
Our trek, and much beyond.

(* Purple-stemmed aster)

Note: Take a drive up to Flesherton, Beaver Valley, Thornbury and Mar…

No Scar?

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Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;
I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned.
Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierc├Ęd are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?

(Amy Carmichael)

Fragile Flower in India

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I knew of the name of Amy Carmichael from having read a number of her inspirational poems. I did not know of her solid Ulster Christian upbringing. Her repeated attempts to enter missionary work compromised by fragile health. Her ultimate settling in the Tinnevelly District of southern India. Her establishment of the orphanage and school known as the Dohnavur Institute. Her adoption, almost entirely, of Indian culture. Her rich sense of family, though remaining unmarried. The rescue of many very young local girls from the practice of Hindu temple prostitution and servitude. The thorough and seemingly strict program of lessons, chores and religious exercise. The frequency of disease and untimely death for the children. The number of rescues proving the diligence of their attending "angels" (fevers, delirium, choking accidents, cobras, returning influences of the old dark life). The falling accident which through complications rendered Amy bed-ridden for the final twenty years…

Forgiveness: The Litmus Test

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(Taken from Like Christ by Andrew Murray)

It is thus that thou canst bless the world. It is as the forgiving One that Jesus conquers His enemies, and binds His friends to Himself. It is as the forgiving One that Jesus has set up His kingdom and continually extends it. It is through the same forgiving love, not only preached but shown in the life of His disciples, that the Church will, convince the world of God’s love. If the world see men and women loving and forgiving as Jesus did, it will be compelled to confess that God is with them of a truth.

And if it still appear too hard and too high, remember that this will only be as long as we consult the natural heart. A sinful nature has no taste for this joy, and never can attain it. But in union with Christ we can do it: He who abides in Him walks even as He walked. If you have surrendered yourself to follow Christ in everything, then He will by His Holy Spirit enable you to do this too. Ere ever you come into temptation, accustom yoursel…

A Wanderer's Song

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A wind's in the heart of me, a fire's in my heels,
I am tired of brick and stone and rumbling wagon-wheels;
I hunger for the sea's edge, the limit of the land,
Where the wild old Atlantic is shouting on the sand.

Oh I'll be going, leaving the noises of the street,
To where a lifting foresail-foot is yanking at the sheet;
To a windy, tossing anchorage where yawls and ketches ride,
Oh I'll be going, going, until I meet the tide.

And first I'll hear the sea-wind, the mewing of the gulls,
The clucking, sucking of the sea about the rusty hulls,
The songs at the capstan at the hooker warping out,
And then the heart of me'll know I'm there or thereabout.

Oh I am sick of brick and stone, the heart of me is sick,
For windy green, unquiet sea, the realm of Moby Dick;
And I'll be going, going, from the roaring of the wheels,
For a wind's in the heart of me, a fire's in my …

Fairgrounds

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County fair time!
All are welcome
To the bounty of the fall.
And the animals
And craft shows
And the bake-offs,
Pies and all.
See the children
Cheer at horses,
As they strut
Around the ring.
See the show dogs
Groomed and glistening.
Hear the barber-
Shoppers sing.
Try your hand
At tempting ring-toss.
Win a prize
For your best girl.
See the County's
Biggest pumpkin.
"Record breaker
For the world!"
Gather 'round
The gay concessions:
Cotton candy,
Hot dogs too.
Caramel corn
And apple cider.
Toys and tee-shirts.
Buy a few.
Neighbours visit
'Round the table.
Strangers made
To feel at ease.
As the sunset
Yields to darkness,
And a brisk
September breeze.
On come lights
Of every colour,
Made to dazzle
Childish eyes,
Which are open
Way past bed-time.
Filled with wonder
And surprise.
Rides are dizzying
For the daring.
Cars and planes
That bump and climb.
When the clackety-
Clack is over,
Riders beg for
One more time.
Then the grandstand
Show finale,
With the music
And the dance,
And some local
Thespian antics,
Full of laughter…

Ever Touched by our Needs

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(Taken from J. R.Miller's Commentary on Matthew)

Jesus went out in a boat to cross the lake. But the people saw the boat departing and flocked around the lake to meet Him on the other side. He had not been long in His quiet retreat when the multitude began to gather, eager to see Him. Although He was seeking rest, His compassion drew Him to the people that He might help them.

It was always thus that Jesus carried people’s sorrows. When He looked upon the great throng who had flocked after Him and saw among them so many suffering ones — lame, sick, blind, palsied — His compassion was stirred. When we remember that Jesus was the Son of God, these revealings of His compassion are wonderful. It comforts us to know that there is the same compassion yet in the breast of the risen Christ in glory. He did not lose His tenderness of heart when he was exalted to heaven. We are told that as our High Priest He is touched by ever sorrow of ours. Every wrong that we suffer reaches Him. Every sorr…

Heart Garden

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“Dear Lord, the withered garden in my heart
Lies parched and dead, cursed by the subtilty
Of this beguiling world’s prosperity.
The burdened clouds of heavenly grace depart,
Ere to my dying soul they life impart, –
And I am left in sin’s satiety,
Mocked with the worthless joys of vanity.
Oh, turn Thine eye on me, and let the dart
Of Thy restoring love, with power unspent,
Strike inward, till my quickened life shall show
The fruit of grace divine, whose sweet descent
Shall wake my field. O winds of God, now blow
Till with your breath my grateful praise is blent,
While spices from my garden overflow.”

(J. R. Miller)

E. Pauline Johnson

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The Vagabonds
by Emily Pauline Johnson

What saw you in your flight to-day,
Crows, awinging your homeward way?

Went you far in carrion quest,
Crows, that worry the sunless west?

Thieves and villains, you shameless things!
Black your record as black your wings.

Tell me, birds of the inky hue,
Plunderous rogues--to-day have you

Seen with mischievous, prying eyes
Lands where earlier suns arise?

Saw you a lazy beck between
Trees that shadow its breast in green,

Teased by obstinate stones that lie
Crossing the current tauntingly?

Fields abloom on the farther side
With purpling clover lying wide--

Saw you there as you circled by,
Vale-environed a cottage lie,

Girt about with emerald bands,
Nestling down in its meadow lands?

Saw you this on your thieving raids?
Speak--you rascally renegades!

Thieved you also away from me
Olden scenes that I long to see?

If, O! crows, you have flown since morn
Over the place where I was born,

Forget will I, how black you were
Since dawn, in feather and character;

Absolve will I, your vag…

Goforth Nearing His Promotion

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(Another excerpt in the life of Johnathan Goforth taken from www.wholesomewords.org and from the book Giants of the Missionary Trail by Scripture Press, 1954)

Those who, like Paul, have as their one sublime obsession the bringing of lost souls to Christ, are sure to endure many trials. It was so of Goforth. His trials included severe attacks of various diseases, intense suffering from chronic carbuncles, beatings at the hands of Chinese mobs, long periods of separation from his family and the burial of five of his children in China. Another sore trial arose in connection with his furlough visits to the home land, as he came to realize the appalling inroads of modernism and worldliness among the churches and the consequent apathy, even hostility, to his pleadings for missionary advance and a deeper work of the Spirit of God.

Speaking at the ministerial association of a certain city he told of the Spirit's quickening, purifying, energizing work in China. He made it clear that he was n…

Waves of Repentance

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(Continuing from the biographical account of Johnathan Goforth in www.wholesomewords.org)

"Those were days of unprecedented spiritual awakening. As a result, he was deluged with invitations from all parts of China and found himself drawn into a new and far-reaching type of ministry. Rosalind and the five children sailed for Canada and he, a lonely man, separated from his family till his next furlough time, plunged into the greatest work of his life.

One day at the close of his message he said to the people, "You may pray." Immediately an elder of the church, with tears streaming down his cheeks, stood before the congregation and confessed the sins of theft, adultery and attempted murder. "I have disgraced the holy office," he cried. "I herewith resign my eldership." Other elders, then the deacons, arose one by one, confessed their sins and resigned. Then the native pastor stood up, made his confession and concluded, "I am not fit to be your pastor…

Dass Good, Dass Rill Good

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Yesterday on the Focus on the Family radio broadcast, I heard a wonderful testimony of fidelity in marriage. Robertson McQuilkin was happily married to Muriel, one whom he considered in every respect the perfect wife - in expressing affection, in preferring the other, in shouldering the burdens in partnership, in constant companionship, in endurance in testing.

Robertson had been appointed President of Columbia International University (Columbia, South Carolina). Muriel ably performed the functions of "first wife" on campus - entertaining, teaching young women's Bible groups, creating radio broadcasts, facilitating study for handicapped students. But in her 55th year memory obviously began to fade and early Alzheimer's quickly did its terrible work.

After 35 years of marriage, Robertson faced the decision of university responsibilities or intensive attention to his rapidly failing wife. He chose the latter and graciously insisted that it was an easy decision and no per…

Preparation of Goforth

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(Taken from a short biography in www.wholesomewords.org)

Jonathan Goforth, the seventh of eleven children, was born February 10, 1859 on his father's farm near London, Ontario, Canada. His devout mother influenced him to pray and to love, read and memorize the Scriptures. Something of the hardships endured by the family is indicated by the fact that the father once went to Hamilton for food and walked through the bush all the way back, a distance of seventy miles, with a sack of flour on his back. By diligent effort Jonathan managed to keep up with his class in school, although he was under the handicap of being obliged to work on the farm each year from April to October.

When he was fifteen years of age his father put him in charge of their second farm, which was twenty miles from the home farm. "Work hard," said his father. "At harvest I'll return and inspect." In later years Goforth stirred many an audience as he told of his arduous labors that summer, of …

(I Dwell in Possibility)

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I dwell in possibility-
A fairer house than prose-
More numerous of Windows-
Superior-for Doors-

Of Chambers as the Cedars-
Impregnable of Eye-
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky-

Of Visitors-the Fairest-
For Occupation-This-
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise-

(Emily Dickinson)

Bing Bong Bing Bong

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We are the happy recipients of a wall-mounted grandfather clock from the den of my parents' home in London recently sold. On each hour it rings out the 16 note tune. It reminds me of many beautiful downtown churches in the city of my birth, and of many happy times answering the call to worship, particularly in the fall, when church schedules geared up again.

Each hour the tune. Each hour the call to worship. Each hour the admonition to give thanks. Each hour the reminder that sand is slipping through our hour glass. Each hour the comfort that our Heavenly Father is master of time, and reserves a place for us where time is no longer a consideration.

For the first while the bongs startled us. Thought to be the phone or an alarm clock. But now the routine and rhythm are setting in as a comfort in our home, and a reminder of happy times spent in my parents' home of earlier days.

Rescue, Time and Again

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Psalm 107:

43Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

What things? God's timely rescues in the midst of wandering, homelessness, loneliness, imprisonment, illness, natural disaster, storms, hunger, unemployment, oppression, dryness, injustice. He is under no obligation. He simply loves the ones whom He has made the objects of His mercy. Ever the compassionate, wise, resourceful Father to the rescue.

Our hope is to know Him and to know that He never tires of the recurring cries for help. He says in Psalm 50 " 14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
15And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." It is just that basic a transaction.

I have a son in a new and challenging situation in a new province. He needs to see God operate soon in the lovingkindness put on display in this 107th Psalm. And God will be there for him. This is my prayer and my …

Hope

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Hope means to keep living
amid desperation,
and to keep humming in darkness.
Hoping is knowing that there is love,
it is trust in tomorrow
it is falling asleep
and waking again
when the sun rises.
In the midst of a gale at sea,
it is to discover land.
In the eye of another
it is to see that he understands you.
As long as there is still hope
there will also be prayer.
And God will be holding you
in His hands.

(Henri Nouwen)

Shaken By That Joshua Man

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In the last post I shared some of the portrayal of Jesus given by that retired Roman Catholic priest, turned author and speaker, Joseph Girzone. I wanted to envision such a Saviour, perhaps a more inclusive one than I had ever considered before, or at least since my conversion experience of 1982.

Here was a friend of sinners (imperfect people) who was so immersed in the spirit and love of His Heavenly Father that He saw the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 as no exaggeration of the truth. Girzone would state that as in the case of plants and animals in nature there are phases of development during which the organism is doing exactly what the Creator knew that it would do. But with the passing of time in God's sovereign schedule, maturity is reached. He says the same thing about spiritual maturation and explains that God is so much more patient than conservatives in the Church. You know, the catechism reciters, the dogmatics, the line-drawers, the ones who 'believe that ev…

Joseph Girzone, Liberator

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Many have read with blessing the book Joshua by retired Catholic priest Joseph Girzone. It tells the story of a modern-day small community receiving a simple, personable carpenter into their midst. This newcomer, Joshua, is immediately attractive to the children and the hurting. The adults are more reticent until they realize the guilelessness and helpfulness of a new friend. His wisdom on life is grass-roots but compelling. By the end of the book the suggestion is well planted that Jesus has made another visit to planet earth. Get a copy of this first book in the series.

Recently I uncovered another of Joseph's books entitled A Portrait of Jesus. Here is a noteworthy excerpt:

On a morning after a night in the hills, He (Jesus) would reappear in the nearby village. What did He look like? Did He look fresh and neatly dressed? Where would He have found a place to wash, or shave, or brush His teeth, or even comb His hair? He probably was not well-groomed. His hands and arms showed the …

Spiritual Thirst

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(Taken from the Treasury of David by Charles Spurgeon and commentary on Psalm 42)

Verse 1:

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. As after a long drought the poor fainting hind longs for the streams, or rather as the hunted hart instinctively seeks after the river to lave its smoking flanks and to escape the dogs, even so my weary, persecuted soul pants after the Lord my God. Debarred from public worship, David was heartsick. Ease he did not seek, honour he did not covet, but the enjoyment of communion with God was an urgent need of his soul; he viewed it not merely as the sweetest of all luxuries, but as an absolute necessity, like water to a stag. Like the parched traveler in the wilderness, whose skin bottle is empty, and who finds the wells dry, he must drink or die -- he must have his God or faint. His soul, his very self, his deepest life, was insatiable for a sense of the divine presence. As the hart brays so his soul prays. Give him his…

The Earth Sang

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Sam, a friend, has a heart for seeing house churches mature in the region and for lending support to the persecuted Church. He has often spoken well of the Voice of the Martyrs ministry and has promoted prayer and financial support for the same.

He tells the remarkable story of a village of Chinese Christians faced with the relentless opposition of Mao and ultimately rounded up for humiliation, "re-indoctrination" or execution. The believers remained true to their exalted Head and were marched out of town to dig their own mass grave. Not a one wavered from his/her confidence in Christ.

The soldiers of enforcement were visibly shaken by what they were required to do to these gentle people. They ordered the group to go down into the pit, and to lie down on their backs, awaiting the shoveling-over process. Their pastor began to sing a treasured Gospel praise chorus of the fellowship. All the rest joined in, gaining a kind of supernatural confidence.

Their persecutors could not bea…

John Wesley and the Bull

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(Taken from Wesley's Journal of evangelistic efforts):

# Fri. 19. -- I rode once more to Pensford, at the earnest request of several serious people. The place where they desired me to preach, was a little green spot, near the town. But I had no sooner begun, than a great company of rabble, hired (as we afterwards found) for that purpose, came furiously upon us, bringing a bull, which they had been baiting, and now strove to drive in among the people. But the beast was wiser than his drivers; and continually ran either on one side of us, or the other, while we quietly sang praise to God, and prayed for about an hour. The poor wretches, finding themselves disappointed, at length seized upon the bull, now weak and tired, after having been so long torn and beaten, both by dogs and men; and, by main strength, partly dragged and partly thrust him in among the people. When they had forced their way to the little table on which I stood, they strove several times to throw it down, by thrust…

St. Francis and the Wolf

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(Taken from the Little Flowers of St. Francis)

CHAPTER XXI

OF THE MOST HOLY MIRACLE OF ST FRANCIS IN TAMING THE FIERCE WOLF OF GUBBIO

At the time when St Francis was living in the city of Gubbio, a large wolf appeared in the neighbourhood, so terrible and so fierce, that he not only devoured other animals, but made a prey of men also; and since he often approached the town, all the people were in great alarm, and used to go about armed, as if going to battle. Notwithstanding these precautions, if any of the inhabitants ever met him alone, he was sure to be devoured, as all defence was useless: and, through fear of the wolf, they dared not go beyond the city walls. St Francis, feeling great compassion for the people of Gubbio, resolved to go and meet the wolf, though all advised him not to do so. Making the sign of the holy cross, and putting all his confidence in God, he went forth from the city, taking his brethren with him; but these fearing to go any further, St Francis bent his steps…

With the Beasts

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(Today's entry in Our Daily Homily by F. B. Meyer)

He was with the wild beasts, and the angels ministered unto him - Mark 1:13

In what different circumstances is the last Adam to the first! He began in a garden which the Lord God had planted; but his great Antitype in a wilderness, the thorns of which spoke of that primal sin. But whereas the first Adam transformed the garden into a wilderness, the last will convert all desert places into gardens-whether they be in the heart, or the world around - so that they shall blossom as the rose.

To Adam the beasts came, that he might name them; but at the coming of the last Adam they were wild. "He was with the wild beasts." Yet they were tame to his pure manhood. "He had dominion over the works of God's hands." On his brow the crown of royalty over the inferior races, which man had lost, was already placed. Is it not also true that holy men still have power over the lower creation? Certainly Francis of Assissi had. An…

Discouragement in the Faith

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Don't tell me that you haven't experienced this! I remember one day traveling on the bus. It was hot. I was tired after a long day hauling steel in the open sun. I recognized a woman ahead of me as a member of the Baptist church around the corner. She was in good spirits and I recall her saying, "Doesn't the Lord just get better with each new day?"

I didn't want to hear that. I had worked hard for my pity party and was not going to have it de-railed so easily. I kept my conversation to a minimum. But upon stepping off the bus and finishing the last three blocks, I began to be puzzled by my condition.

Saints remember! Self-pity is a threshold to a host of sins and spiritual coolness. Also a sense of being the odd one out in a gathering because of standards set by the Word. Also a time of persistent reproach for righteousness sake. Also a period of physical weakness or ill health; unanswered prayer; or the sense of nothing new in the way of revelation or opportun…

Spiritual Dryness

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(From the Letters of Samuel Rutherford)

To Lady Boyd

MADAM, -- I would have written to your Ladyship ere now, but people's believing there is in me that which I know there is not, has put me out of love with writing to any. My Lord seeth me a tired man, far behind. I have gotten much love from Christ, but I give Him little or none again. My white side cometh out on paper to men; but at home and within I find much black work, and great cause of a low sail, and of little boasting. I wish all professors to fall in love with grace. All our songs should be of His free grace. We are but too lazy and careless in seeking of it; it is all our riches we have here, and glory in the bud. I wish that I could set out free grace. I was the law's man, and under the law, and under a curse; but grace brought me from under that hard lord, and I rejoice that I am grace's freeholder. I pay tribute to none for heaven, seeing my land and heritage holdeth of Christ, my new King. Infinite wisdom…