Totally Consecrating

ID-100145358Hannah Whitall Smith lived at the end of the nineteenth century (1832-1911), and her writings still bless Christians today.

This passage from a daily devotional called God is Enough (August 29) was taken from her dairies dating back to 1859, one year after her conversion.  Her sensed of consecration is an inspiration to any Christian no matter where he or she may be on the path of faith.

Lord, I am Yours. Yours wholly and Yours forever!  I am Yours by the purchase of Your blood, and I give myself to You now as a living sacrifice – body, soul, and spirit – to be as clay in Your hands.

I give You my heart, Lord, to love only what You love, to hate what You hate [that is any excellent definition of the fear of God], to endure all things, to suffer long and be kind, to be not easily provoked.  To think no evil, not to seek my own, help me, oh my God!

I give You my mind to be wholly devoted to Your service and perfectly under Your control, to think only those thoughts that will please You, to devise only such plans as You suggest, to yield the management of all its affairs to You.  To bring every thought to the obedience of Christ, help me, oh my God!

I give You my body to be used by You – my eyes to see only what You would have them see, my ears to hear only what You would have them hear, my feet to go only where You lead, my hands to do such work only as can be done in fellowship with You, my tongue to speak only words that please You, Lord, to be all Yours. Help me, oh my God!

I give you my children, my husband, and all whom I love, to be disposed of according to your will.  I leave to your the ordering of my whole life, and with Your help will follow You wherever You lead. I will give You the control of my feelings and of my prejudices.  I submit in short my whole being and life – all that I am, and have, and will be, to Your control; and ask only that Your will may be perfectly done in me, through me, and by me!  Take me and keep me, oh my God!

So easy to read and write – so difficult to do day after day – only by His grace!  She now sits at Jesus’ feet.  Her race is complete!  I am certain that if she lived by this prayer, she has already heard those words we all desire to hear: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

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Twenty-five years ago today…

Life is filled with defining moments.  Twenty-five years ago today, we left our little house in the orchard fields of Adams county, PA and headed for Greenville, SC.  Twenty-five years!  It doesn’t seem possible.  We packed up our belongings and left our house of dreams with our two little tykes – Tom was three and a half and Jennifer was almost two.

I still can see that little tow-head as he stood watching the Century-21 man drive the ‘for sale’ sign into the front lawn.  He came to Mommy and asked what he was doing.  I’m not sure how I explained that one!

We had been in Latimore for four years, brought our two babies home from the hospital there, and planted our first true garden. We walked the ‘block’ – passing cows and fruit trees, made home improvements and strawberry jelly together.  But Tom was sensing the call to preach, and after taking a Bible course at the local Bible institute as suggested by a visiting evangelist, he knew he needed to heed the call. Life has never been the same!

Twenty-five years, and four different ministries later…

It’s been quite a ride!  For those of you who will read this and are sitting on the other side of the pulpit, your thoughts about the pastorate may vary according to your experiences.  For me, I always held the pastor in high regard and can’t recall ever having a ‘bad’ pastor.  (Well, maybe one was a bit undesirable, but I wouldn’t call him ‘bad,’ and only my dear mother would know who I’m talking about!)  For the most part, they were all faithful men who served their Lord with a servant’s heart.  I never really thought about their struggles or heartaches, never understood the burdens they carried – every parishioner’s burdens.

Someone (Spurgeon?) once said, “Of all the things that I’ve had to sacrifice for my Lord, my reputation has been the most difficult.”  Slander has no place in God’s family. The ministry is not for wimps.  It often requires “standing in the gap,” and I have found that that is the place where the battle is the thickest. Sadly, too often the bullets are coming from fellow soldiers and not from the enemy.

I don’t think I had any idea of what we were getting into when we pulled out of that driveway. Certainly, I knew life would be different, but had we known the awesome weight of responsibility, I wonder if we would have taken that step.  I recall thinking that God had pulled the curtain close on my emotions or I never would have been able to let go and trust Him.  I’m so glad I did!

It may sound as though the ministry is a bad thing – not in your life!  I cannot praise Him enough for allowing us to serve Him in this way!  Yes, it has been a bit rough at times, but then there are those joyous moments when someone has gained the victory, understood the Gospel or taken the next step that God has for them, and then all the trials vanish like the verse says:

“A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child,     she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.” John 16:21

Defining moments – those times when you stand at the crossroads weighing your decision. It may be at a crucial point in your life or just a simple step of faith, but each decision needs to be made with prayer – lots of it.  We may never know the outcome, but we can trust the One who knows the future!  He sees it all, dear friend!  Trust Him!  The whole world may think that you are mad, but if God is in it, it will be the best thing you ever did.

What tho’ the way be lonely
And dark shadows fall;
I know where’er it leadeth,
My Father planned it all.

Chorus
I sing thru the shade and the sunshine,
I’ll trust Him whatever befall;
I sing for I cannot be silent –
My Father planned it all.

There may be sunshine tomorrow,
Shadows may break and flee;
‘Twill be the way He chooses,
The Father’s plan for me.

He guides my faltering footsteps

Along the weary way,
For well He knows the pathway
Will lead to endless day.

A day of light and gladness
On which no shade will fall;
‘Tis this at last awaits me –
My Father planned it all.

Chorus
I sing thru the shade and the sunshine,
I’ll trust Him whatever befall;
I sing for I cannot be silent –
My Father planned it all.

HH Pierson

Meteor Showers of Blessings

What does it take for God to get your attention?  How hard must He urge you to listen to His call, and is there a direct correlation between our willingness to listen and a heart that is hard?  OUCH!

This week, my dear husband and I spent a lovely three days with our youngest son at a near-by state park – a favorite haunt of our family.  In fact, I’ve been going there for over forty years now!  (This age thing really creeps up on you!)

Hills Creek State Park is about forty-five minutes from Cherry Springs State Park which boast of having the darkest sky east of the Mississippi River; so, needless to say, we were really seeing some awesome sights.  Star-gazing is a family favorite, and Nathan and I really have had some wonderful times under the amazing starlit sky.  We got out the chase lounge and binoculars and just enjoyed the sight.

Sometime during the night, I needed to walk to the restroom.  We were in a little cottage which only had electricity and the restroom was about a hundred yards away, but I didn’t want to get up!  It was cold; there are wild animals out there (ferocious chipmunks!); and I was tired!

I tried to ignore the situation for about two hours and then decided I wasn’t ready for replacement bladder surgery!  As I got up, I heard Nathan call from the other room and together we headed out.  He had been out earlier and had hoped that I’d wake up.  “You should see the stars,” he whispered as we left the cottage.

After our bathroom trip, we decided to drive out to a less wooded area.  It was 4:30 AM and what a thrill we got!  We saw at least ten shooting stars, Venus and the Milky Way as bright as we’ve ever seen it!  I believe one little blur may have been the Andromeda Galaxy; whatever it was sure was a sight when we looked through the binoculars!  It will be a night that I will never forget.  (Of course, this mother’s heart is tucking all these treasured times away knowing very soon that this last chick is about to fly!  Boo hoo!)

So the point of all this?  God had a wonderful blessing planned for me, if only I would leave the warmth and comfort of my bed!  He nearly had to kill me to get me to move!!  Shame on me.  How often am I that way for the really important things – the spiritual blessings and experiences that He has planned for me: an extra hour in His word, a special meeting at church, an encounter with someone who needs to hear a word of testimony and I won’t even open my mouth!

We cannot see what God sees, so we walk by faith.  It’s a difficult thing at times.  The way just doesn’t seem to make sense.  All we see is disappointment and dead ends.  The way is dark and unpromising; but when God is pointing us in that direction we are fools not to follow!  Why can’t we trust the Creator of this universe to do what’s best in our little corner of it?

Two verses become the guiding lights that we need:  “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) is so necessary in this very distracting world!  Take time to just listen!  And then remember James precious promise: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”(James 4:8)  The second part is necessary for a close walk with our God, but the first part is the precious promise.  If we are not close to God, it’s not God’s fault!  We’re often like the wife who complained to her husband that they didn’t sit close like they used to when in the car.  He looked over from behind the wheel and simply said, “I haven’t moved!”

So the rebuke for me is simply this: practice what you preach, Wanda.  We taught our children to obey “immediately, happily and exactly.”  I think the words of this old song say it best:

When the Canaanites hardened their hearts against God
And grieved Him because of their sin,
God sent along hornets to bring them to task,
And help His own people to win.

The hornets persuaded them that it was best,
To go quickly, and not to go slow;
God did not compel them to go ‘gainst their will,
But He just made them willing to go.

Chorus

He does not compel us to go, No! No!
He does not compel us to go.
He does not compel us to go ‘gainst our will
But He just makes us willing to go.

If a nest of live hornets were brought to this room
And the creatures allowed to go free,
You would not need urgings to make yourself scarce,
You’d want to get out, don’t you see.
They would not lay hold and by force of their strength
Throw you out of the window, Oh No,! 
They would not compel you’ to go ‘gainst your will,
But they’d just make you willing to go.

Chorus

When Jonah was sent to the work of the Lord,
The outlook was not very bright;
He never had done such a hard thing before,
So he backed and ran off from the fight.
But God sent a big fish to swallow him up,
The story I’m sure you all know;
He did not compel him to go ‘gainst his will,
But He just made him willing to go.

Chorus

When Moses was sent to lead Israel out,
To Canaan’s rich fruit-bearing land.
Resisting His Spirit they worshiped a calf,
But refused to obey God’s Command.
God did not compel them to go to the land,
Which with wine, milk, and honey did flow,
But fed them on manna for forty long years,
‘Till He got them all ready to go.

Chorus

When Balaam was sent to the Moabite king,
And wanted things run his own way,
His mule, ever faithful, spoke at the right time,
Made him willing God’s Will to obey.
God can use any man, since He used Balaam’s mule,
For He is Almighty you know;
He does not compel us to go ‘gainst our will
But He just makes us willing to go.

 

The Most Beautiful Impossible Weed

008Isn’t that a beautiful sight?!  Sorry it’s a little “screeny” but I took it from my kitchen window.  Do you want a tour?  Starting on the right side, there is asparagus that we haven’t enjoyed yet –  just planted last year.  Then there’s cauliflower and cabbage, five rows of potatoes, a new row of beans because all the rain earlier in the season drown the others.  Next is one row of carrots (should have planted more, but they are such a pain!); then three half rows of beans/corn. You really can’t see my blight infested tomatoes or onions, but you really don’t WANT to see them!

The garden is 95% weedless and this morning I raked it.  I guess I’ll always be the farmer’s daughter, but there is nothing so beautiful as healthy plants against newly raked ground!

So, what’s the Most Beautiful Impossible Weed?  MINT!  Somewhere in the past before I inherited this “parsonage garden,” mint entered into the ground.  At first, I wasn’t sure what it was.  I knew I had never seen a weed like it before.  I did notice the nice smell it produced as I pulled it from every inch of the garden!  After some inquiries I learned that it was indeed mint.

Corn may come and go, potatoes may rot in the ground, tomatoes may be blighted to death but NOTHING will rid this plot of mint!  If the Lord would have asked if He would find mint instead of faith when He returned, the resounding answer would have been, “YES!”

I suppose it’s not any more impossible than the other weeds – they’re all pretty faithful at returning!  Perhaps it’s because man put it there and not nature that it’s such a bother in my mind.

So is there a spiritual parallel?  Weeds most generally portray sin to me.  Our sin nature is much like most of the weeds in my garden: they are part of the curse from the beginning of time.  (It’s amazing to me that Satan is so “unoriginal.”   He’s still using the same lie that he told Eve: God isn’t good; He’s not really on your side; my way is so much better….)

But mint is different – it has a purpose.  I love to make mint tea with my mint.  It has a lovely smell and the plant is pretty!  To me, mint is like our excuses against salvation or sanctification (growing in Christ-likeness).  What is that sin-weed that you cherish – the one that keeps you from God?  Perhaps it’s independence, or free-thinking. Or maybe it’s religion or tradition.   None of these are bad things, but they become deadly when they push the truth from us.  What is that “pet sin” that you keep making excuses for in your life?  I could leave the mint alone, justifying its existence, but all I would have then is a garden of mint – no other fruit or vegetable could stand against it.  The same is true about sin that we refuse to surrender to our Master.

I may never get rid of the mint, and if that paralleled our encounter with sin, we would be of all men most miserable!  Oh, what a burden to never be able to rid ourselves of sin!  But, what can wash away my sin – nothing but the blood of Jesus!  Praise His Name!

I pray that if something came to mind – your mint-sin-weed, that you will surrender it to God and let Him pull it out of your garden of life.  On this one, NIKE has the best saying: JUST DO IT! You will NEVER regret it!  (By the way, did you know that Nike was the Greek goddess for victory?  Just a piece of useless trivia!)

 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 1 Corinthians 15:19

 

It was there all along!

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Well, after three days of weeding, I can see my garden again!  The old grey mare just can’t work as long as she used to!  I have to admit, that I wonder why I do this!  The past few years has not been as profitable as I’d have liked, and this year doesn’t look too promising either even though it’s been a wonderful growing season.

One of my biggest enemies again this year is the tomato blight.  As the picture shows, the leaves start turning yellow with brown spots.  Eventually, the plant dies sooner than it should!  It’s very frustrating!  I looked on-line and the only advice at this point that I could find was to pinch off any affected leaves, but the next day there are always more!

After finishing the weeding, I was putting my tools away and noticed a spray bottle of a fungicide that I must have purchased several years ago.  As I looked over the fungi that it would kill, I noticed that there were several tomato blights that it cured!!!  So, as of this morning, my tomato plants have been dutifully sprayed; we’ll have to wait and see if there are any results.

How foolish I feel!  That bottle has been on my shelf for several years!  Why didn’t I ever notice its contents before?  I just never took a closer look!

What a spiritual application!  How often does God’s Word lay on a shelf somewhere unopened or unheeded?  We struggle with our difficulties, trying to cope on our own when all the while there was help within our reach!  Sometimes I find myself just reading the words of a devotional or passage of scripture, never comprehending or applying what it says! Such a shame.

My son and daughter-in-law often get comments about their son, Connor because of his good behavior.  Just last Sunday, Tom told me that he sat still all through Sunday School while his daddy taught the adult lesson!  (Is it OK for me to brag on my grandsons? 🙂 He’s only two!  I know some teenagers that can’t do that!  Tom said that folks will comment and then tell him how lucky he is!  Luck had nothing to do with it.  Connor is just as stubborn and strong-willed as the next child, maybe even more; but the consistent Biblical training that he receives from his parents  – coupled with the grace of God – is making all the difference!

I may be too late with my fungicide.  I might lose my tomato plants this year because of my neglect.  What are you losing because of your neglect of the Bible?  Next year, watch out tomato blight!  I will be on my guard.  Thankfully, you don’t have to wait another minute to apply the Word of God to your heart!  Go take a look – get a good dose of God’s Word today!

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.

Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.

O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

Psalm 119 1-6 (there’s so much more but I thought I’d better stop with six!)