I’ve Been Set Down

 

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Birmingham, Alabama

 

This post was originally written three months ago. I was  ruminating on friendships past and future; looking for words of wisdom from scripture and finding nuggets in unexpected places. Surfing the net sometimes provides providential words of encouragement and exhortation.

There is no ideal place for us to serve God except the place He sets us down. We are not to run from it on a whim or sudden notion, but we should serve the Lord in it by being a blessing to those among whom we live.  -Alistair Begg

I have been set down in Alabama; deposited in this south deeper than Florida. Here the grass is softer and the roads hillier; the accent thicker and the seasons more varied. Tornadoes have replaced hurricanes and I have discovered white BBQ sauce. But, God is the same. No matter how much I vacillate, He is the same.

And to quote a fictional character:

 God will put you in the right place. Even if you don’t know it at the time. –  Alec Hardy (quoting his mother)  in Broadchurch

So, I believe I’m in the right place, no matter how I “feel” about it. Maybe I have not yet seen why. But, in our pursuit of becoming foster parents, I think perhaps this is our right place. In taking the steps to follow our desire to foster, it’s been like “going down the chute”.

You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute. – Tina Fey

Blessed Are

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I penned this after hearing messages on The Beatitudes brought by Mark Soud. It can be sung to the tune of Amazing Grace (just sing BLESSED , not BLES-SED)

Blessed are those whose dear spirits are
Counted among the poor
Theirs is the kingdom here and far
They enter by the Door

Blessed are those who on earth do mourn
For comfort will be theirs
Yes, for a time sorrow is born
O’er sin and worldly cares

Blessed is the meek and lowly one
Who for himself cares not
Looks not to self but to the Son
Gives glory as he ought

Blessed are those who for righteousness
Do hunger and do thirst
At the Lord’s table they’ll be guests
The last shall there be first

Blessed are they who are merciful
They will mercy receive
These promises are never null
To they who do believe

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they
Children of God will be
Kindness and peace is in their way
God’s love their very key

Blessed those who persecuted are
When God’s law they obey
On earth they suffer and are marred
Yet in God’s care they stay

Blessed are those who, when men abuse
When lies are told of them
It is for Christ that they are bruised
Still, they rejoice in Him

Rejoice and be exceeding glad
For great is your reward
The saints before you trouble had
Yet trusted in the Lord

How NOT to Pray

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photo – Little Visuals

1. Don’t pray to seen by men – And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward – Matthew 6:5

2. Don’t start with your wants – “In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10

The structure of what is familiarly known as The Lord’s Prayer begins with God, then goes on to mankind and our needs.

3. Don’t expect to always have the beautiful words. – sometimes we comes to God and our souls are dry and empty. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” – Romans 8:26

4. Don’t focus on yourself – Refocus your eyes on God – if you are a Christian, He is your Father – look to Him.

Approach Him with reverence, not in INDEPENDENCE, but rather IN DEPENDENCE.

Please know that I am talking to myself here as well. Thanks to Mark Soud for his messages on Matthew.

God Is Real

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God is real. I know this isn’t the best analogy, but I always think of the wind. You can’t SEE the wind, but you can see the effects of the wind. I don’t say “there is no wind” just because I can’t see it – that would be foolish.

…though He is not far from every one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being…
Acts 17:27-28

I love the way this verse reads – He is not far from every one of us”. That is truly a comforting thought.

Thoughts on Pilgrim’s Progress, Part the Second – #9 “No fears, no grace”

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Can a Christian be depressed? Or afraid?

Yes, of course. One example in Pilgrim’s Progress is in the character of Mr. Fearing.  Mr. Great-Heart explains it this way when asked why:

“There are reasons for it; one is the wise God will have it so, some must pipe and some must weep. Now, Mr. Fearing was one that played upon this bass.” (The bass is the lowest pitch or range)

He goes on, “The first string that the musician usually touches is the bass, when he intends to put it all in tune. God also plays upon this string first, when He sets the soul in tune for Himself. Only here was the imperfection of Mr. Fearing. He could play upon no other music but this, until towards his latter end.” Mr. Fearing could not overcome this until he was at the end of his life. Obviously, it hindered him.

The discussion goes on for a few pages. Then James, one of the young sons of Christiana, pipes up and says, “No fears, no Grace.” He was ahead of his time with that slogan!

Mr. Great-Heart responds, “Well said, James, thou hast hit the mark; for the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.”

John Gill’s commentary explains the “fear of God” like this:

…by the “fear of God”, is not meant a fear of God’s wrath, of hell and damnation; nor a fearful distrust of his presence, power, providence, and grace; much less an hypocritical fear; but a reverential affection for God, and which is peculiar to the children of God, which springs from a sense of divine goodness, is attended with holiness of heart and life, is consistent with faith, even full assurance of it, and with spiritual joy in its highest degree…

Am I afraid? Sometimes. Depressed? Sometimes. Have I experienced God’s grace? Joyfully, yes.

I want to make bumper stickers now that read “no fears, no grace”. Maybe there is a Kickstarter campaign in my future?

photo credit annkkml