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May 31, 2008

burma's tragedy

After the recent cyclone in Burma, Maclean's May 26 magazine published a heart-breaking photo essay. The most striking image was that of a Buddhist temple's wreckage, above. My thoughts were: I am thankful that my God is neither visible (to be seen in such a state) nor helpless. But then I remembered that, for a short time, he was both visible and "helpless". I thought of whimpers coming from a manger and a loud call from the cross: My God...why have you forsaken me? But my God chose helplessness; he was no victim of the weather conditions. The real tragedy in Burma is the many thousands of people who left this life believing in a god who can't even stop a cyclone. My God triumphed through helplessness, saving the dying. The Burmese serve a god who can't even lift itself out of the wreckage, lose that serene look and do something helpful. What of the immortal, invisible God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes?

May 30, 2008

the prayer / humility connection

prayer: what a way to get our eyes off ourselves and onto our Lord and others! some of my recurring sins are selfishness/pride and lack of prayer. these go hand-in-hand. years ago i told someone that i am consistently too self-centered/always want to talk about myself. his solution was so simple, but so Biblical: he suggested that i ask the people around me how i could pray for them and then be faithful in praying for their concerns. this would direct my focus first to the Lord and then to others.

my pride is evidenced in the fact that i think that i can do just fine without prayer. it takes humility to say that "without Him i can do nothing" or to recognize that fifteen minutes of prayer could do far more good than fifteen minutes of all my other best efforts. i give my Lord some on-the-go prayer, but i believe He wants those still, quiet prayers, too. but alone-in-my-closet prayers don't seem to make a dent in the pile of papers on my desk, so prayer is left for those last few incoherent moments before i fall asleep. alone-in-my-closet prayers take time, time that could be spent...looking busy and spiritual in the eyes of all the church people. it is difficult for me to even get up five minutes earlier to pray. and somehow, the days slip by with unconfessed sins, and praise and problems not brought to my Maker.

did you know that James, the New Testament author, prayed so much that he was known as "camel knees"? James knew humility too, to recognize that his earthly brother, Jesus, was Lord of all. if you know a who saint is faithful in prayer, they likely also know humility.

May 27, 2008

Quotes: Tozer & Chafer

"Every pastor knows...the plain people who have nothing to recommend them but their deep devotion to their Lord and the fruit of the Spirit which they all unconsciously display. These are the first to come forward when there is work to be done and the last to go home when there is prayer to be made.... When they die they leave behind them a fragrance of Christ that lingers long after the cheap celebrities of the day are forgotten. We extend this tribute to Christian brothers and sisters in spite of the fact that in our world there is not supposed to be anything dramatic in faithfulness or newsworthy in goodness!"
- A. W. Tozer in Renewed Day by Day, May 25

"For those who attempt to explain the truth of God to others, there is need of a constant consideration of the measureless responsibility which accompanies any presentation of the gospel. No amount of attention or painstaking study will be too great for the adequate preparation of a gospel messenger. In the light of eternal issues it would be better that tongue should be stilled in death rather than to voice misstatements concerning the way of salvation through Christ...It is deplorable that Christian sentiment is not aroused to greater appreciation of the responsibility which is assumed by those who dare to preach, or to direct the steps of the lost. Good intentions and zeal cannot be substituted for the accurate knowledge of the exact facts which enter into the divine way of salvation by grace alone. The commission is given to every Christian and with it both the appeal for painstaking study, and the warning as to the terrible consequences for the misstatement of the gospel.
- Lewis Sperry Chafer, "GRACE - An Exposition of God's Marvelous Gifts", pp 257-259, copyright 1922