Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Thursday, May 06, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: Job 12:9
Diamond in the Rough
"The hand of the Lord hath wrought this" (Job 12:9).
Several years ago there was found in an African mine the most magnificent diamond in the world's history. It was presented to the King of England to blaze in his crown of state. The King sent it to Amsterdam to be cut. It was put into the hands of an expert lapidary. And what do you suppose he did with it?
He took the gem of priceless value, and cut a notch in it. Then he struck it a hard blow with his instrument, and lo! the superb jewel lay in his hand cleft in twain. What recklessness I what wastefulness! what criminal carelessness!
Not so. For days and weeks that blow had been studied and planned. Drawings and models had been made of the gem. Its quality, its defects, its lines of cleavage had all been studied with minutest care. The man to whom it was committed was one of the most skillful lapidaries in the world.
Do you say that blow was a mistake? Nay. It was the climax of the lapidary's skill. When he struck that blow, he did the one thing which would bring that gem to its most perfect shapeliness, radiance, and jewelled splendor. That blow which seemed to ruin the superb precious stone was, in fact, its perfect redemption. For, from those two halves were wrought the two magnificent gems which the skilled eye of the lapidary saw hidden in the rough, uncut stone as it came from the mine.
So, sometimes, God lets a stinging blow fall upon your life. The blood spurts. The nerves wince. The soul cries out in agony. The blow seems to you an apalling mistake. But it is not, for you are the most priceless jewel in the world to God. And He is the most skilled lapidary in the universe.
Some day you are to blaze in the diadem of the King. As you lie in His hand now He knows just how to deal with you. Not a blow will be permitted to fall upon your shrinking soul but that the love of God permits it, and works out from its depths, blessing and spiritual enrichment unseen, and unthought of by you. --J. H. McC.
In one of George MacDonald's books occurs this fragment of conversation: "I wonder why God made me," said Mrs. Faber bitterly. "I'm sure I don't know what was the use of making me!"
"Perhaps not much yet," said Dorothy, "but then He hasn't done with you yet. He is making you now, and you are quarrelling with the process."
If men would but believe that they are in process of creation, and consent to be made--let the Maker handle them as the potter the clay, yielding themselves in resplendent motion and submissive, hopeful action with the turning of His wheel--they would ere long find themselves able to welcome every pressure of that hand on them, even when it was felt in pain; and sometimes not only to believe but to recognize the Divine end in view, the bringing of a son unto glory.
"Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit."
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Friday, April 02, 2010
Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: Exodus 16:20
Do Not Yield to Discouragement
"They looked...and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud" (Exod. 16:10).
Get into the habit of looking for the silver lining of the cloud and when you have found it, continue to look at it, rather than at the leaden gray in the middle.
Do not yield to discouragement no matter how sorely pressed or beset you may be. A discouraged soul is helpless. He can neither resist the wiles of the enemy himself, while in this state, nor can he prevail in prayer for others.
Flee from every symptom of this deadly foe as you would flee from a viper. And be not slow in turning your back on it, unless you want to bite the dust in bitter defeat.
Search out God's promises and say aloud of each one: "This promise is mine." If you still experience a feeling of doubt and discouragement, pour out your heart to God and ask Him to rebuke the adversary who is so mercilessly nagging you.
The very instant you whole-heartedly turn away from every symptom of distrust and discouragement, the blessed Holy Spirit will quicken your faith and inbreathe Divine strength into your soul.
At first you may not be conscious of this, still as you resolutely and uncompromisingly "snub" every tendency toward doubt and depression that assails you, you will soon be made aware that the powers of darkness are falling back.
Oh, if our eyes could only behold the solid phalanx of strength, of power, that is ever behind every turning away from the hosts of darkness, God-ward, what scant heed would be given to the effort of the wily foe to distress, depress, discourage us!
All the marvelous attributes of the Godhead are on the side of the weakest believer, who in the name of Christ, and in simple, childlike trust, yields himself to God and turns to Him for help and guidance. --Selected
On a day in the autumn, I saw a prairie eagle mortally wounded by a rifle shot. His eye still gleamed like a circle of light. Then he slowly turned his head, and gave one more searching and longing look at the sky. He had often swept those starry spaces with his wonderful wings. The beautiful sky was the home of his heart. It was the eagle's domain. A thousand times he had exploited there his splendid strength. In those far away heights be had played with the lightnings, and raced with the winds, and now, so far away from home, the eagle lay dying, done to the death, because for once be forgot and flew too low. The soul is that eagle. This is not its home. It must not lose the skyward look. We must keep faith, we must keep hope, we must keep courage, we must keep Christ. We would better creep away from the battlefield at once if we are not going to be brave. There is no time for the soul to stampede. Keep the skyward look, my soul; keep the skyward look!
"Keep looking up--
The waves that roar around thy feet,
Jehovah-Jireh will defeat
When looking up.
"Keep looking up--
Though darkness seems to wrap thy soul;
The Light of Light shall fill thy soul
When looking up.
"Keep looking up--
When worn, distracted with the fight;
Your Captain gives you conquering might
When you look up."
We can never see the sun rise by looking into the west. --Japanese Proverb
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
A friend asked me recently what incredible things God was doing in my life. I wrote this in response and wanted to share it here in hopes that it might encourage some of you.
On my way home yesterday, I was thinking about how incredible it is when the Lord reveals to you your gifts and then he uses them to touch someone else. Even more incredible is how he uses the pain and trials in your life for good. I realized though that we have to choose to be where he wants us and not fight against it. A change of how we think and perceive the things happening in our lives is required to see those things as being part of his will.
Once my heart finally surrendered to the Lord completely it was like a flood of his presence has filled every part of me. Everything I read, everything I hear seems to point me back to the truth. Pastor Al’s sermon combined with a book I am reading reminded me that these things that are bringing so much pain into my life are not meant for evil. They are meant for good…good because they drive me to an intimate relationship with the Lord. Good because it has given me the opportunity to reach out to others who are suffering and point them to the Lord in it. Good because they are producing something of such greater value than a life void of pain. Seeing all of this in light of how God is going to use it and is using it has increased my trust in Him and his ability to work it all out according to HIS purpose. I am learning that being at rest in his will comes from trusting his purpose and not having to work it out according to what I think he should do with it.
I guess I kind of feel like he has softened me into pliable clay. I have never felt so intimate with the Lord as I do right now. That is exciting to me because for years I have looked back to my teenage years and considered that to have been my strongest time spiritually. Not so good to be walking with the Lord for so long and to have lost that freshness in our relationship. It saddened me but not enough to stop fighting against Him and for my own way. I finally feel as though I can hear him again as he speaks truth in my heart. I can trust him with my heart. I can obey without fear. I can hear his correction and respond with surrender and not a “failure response” of giving up and running to sin rather than away from it. As a result, my heart finally feels again. It has been stone for a very long time.
The Lord truly is becoming everything to me. In the past year, he has stripped away everything I was replacing him with. He is taking away the walls that I have been hiding behind. He gave me these certain friends who have challenged me in so many ways to find and cling to truth. He took my need to be pleasing to people and used that same need to face some things I really need to deal with and not run. In the process, its becoming more important to me what God thinks than what people think. I am not totally to that point of being free from my desire for approval but I think the Lord is loosening the fear that need had imprisoned my heart in. He took my greatest fear, brought it into my life, and then walked step by step through it, teaching my heart to seek approval in him and desire to hear his words alone, and then gave me what I needed in his way. So much healing took place in such a short amount of time and in a few powerful words. He is the very thing I thought I needed others to be.
I never thought the Lord would ever choose to use me again. I have failed horribly. I have willingly chosen to sin in horrible ways- like a rebellious child determined to crush her Father’s heart. I have dared God to leave me and walk away. I have tried, like I have done in many relationships, to convince him he shouldn’t waste his time. And true to who he is, he has waited for me to surrender and has patiently and passionately pursued my heart. Now he has allowed my heart to feel the freedom and healing power of his forgiveness. One day in the past couple of weeks, my mind was flooded with images of so many of the times I chose to sin. Each time the thought would come to mind, the Lord was there reminding me that it was paid for. It was incredible to me how many of the songs I heard that day had to do with the past and forgiveness.
So I am amazed and humbled that the Lord has given me the opportunity to be used again. It is bringing me so much joy. So much so that I never want to settle for less than God’s best again. I have been praying and asking him to allow me to have a women’s group again to lead, to serve, and to love. I am amazed now that he has brought these women together and it is more than I ever thought possible. I love it when the Lord allows me the opportunity to pour his love and truth into another person and getting to watch them grow. I have gotten to experience what happens when the Lord reveals things to us that have affected us and can be used as an excuse to justify our behavior. As I am learning to let go of those things and not let them be an excuse for me, I get to share with others how to do that too. Each time he gives me the opportunity to share with someone else, help someone else or serve someone I am overcome by joy. It makes everything else worth it to see God using it to bring someone else closer to him.
What are the incredible things he is doing? He is giving me a soft heart. He has replaced my mourning with gladness. He has brought me to the edge, allowed me to see the possibilities of things I could lose and asked me whether I will still choose Him. He has given me a steadfast faith that says “No matter what happens, I will follow you.” He has spoken his words of love, worth, and truth into my heart and has given me faith to believe him and cling those words. If you had known me these past ten years and seen the icy wall around my heart, the desire to be free yet feeling like I am always drowning never able to reach the surface, heard the lies that have waged war against my mind and heart, and felt the intensity of the fear that has imprisoned me you would agree that the things the Lord is doing is incredible. In finally surrendering to His love and allowing him to be everything I need, I feel like I can face the future, with whatever it might hold, with courage, security, and peace.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: Revelation 15:3
Songs of Praise Rise From Affliction
"Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints" (Rev. 15:3).
The following incident is related by Mrs. Charles Spurgeon, who was a great sufferer for more than a quarter of a century:
"At the close of a dark and gloomy day, I lay resting on my couch as the deeper night drew on; and though all was bright within my cozy room, some of the external darkness seemed to have entered into my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. Vainly I tried to see the Hand which I knew held mine, and guided my fog-enveloped feet along a steep and slippery path of suffering. In sorrow of heart I asked,
"'Why does my Lord thus deal with His child? Why does He so often send sharp and bitter pain to visit me? Why does He permit lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to His poor servants?'
"These fretful questions were quickly answered, and through a strange language; no interpreter was needed save the conscious whisper of my heart.
"For a while silence reigned in the little room, broken only by the crackling of the oak log burning in the fireplace. Suddenly I heard a sweet, soft sound, a little, clear, musical note, like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window.
"'What can it be? surely no bird can be singing out there at this time of the year and night.'
"Again came the faint, plaintive notes, so sweet, so melodious, yet mysterious enough to provoke our wonder. My friend exclaimed,
"'It comes from the log on the fire!' The fire was letting loose the imprisoned music from the old oak's inmost heart!
"Perchance he had garnered up this song in the days when all was well with him, when birds twittered merrily on his branches, and the soft sunlight flecked his tender leaves with gold. But he had grown old since then, and hardened; ring after ring of knotty growth had sealed up the long-forgotten melody, until the fierce tongues of the flames came to consume his callousness, and the vehement heart of the fire wrung from him at once a song and a sacrifice. 'Ah,' thought I, 'when the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed we are purified, and our God is glorified!'
"Perhaps some of us are like this old oak log, cold, hard, insensible; we should give forth no melodious sounds, were it not for the fire which kindles around us, and releases notes of trust in Him, and cheerful compliance with His will.
"'As I mused the fire burned,' and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely set forth before me.
"Singing in the fire! Yes, God helping us, if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before."
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Monday, March 08, 2010
How majestic are your whispers, O Lord. The words of the song rolled off my tongue and I couldn’t help but smile. I knew a little something about the whispers of the Almighty God. Standing in the midst of other worshipers as we declared the truth of the Lord, made the words of this song feel like I was on the inside of an inside joke. An intimate exchange between me and the Lover of my Soul could be described in the majesty of the whisper of God. The sovereignty of God, ordering these particular worship songs to be sung on this very day, was nothing less than a continuation of this exchange.
The details of the encounter from the night before flooded my mind and melted my heart. Healing words had washed over my broken spirit. Words from man joined the words of God. Both working hand in hand to restore the assurance I so desperately needed. Only the Lord could have known the words I needed spoken over the ache in my heart. He alone knew the cry of my heart. He had seen the struggle. He knew how much I was doubting my worth and place in this world. He knew how unloved I felt. He knew the battle that was daily raging in my mind as I fought against insecurity and accusations.
So he whispered.
He whispered his truth.
I love you.
You can do this.
I have given you strength.
I am so proud of you.
You are my treasured possession.
I have chosen you.
Look in my eyes and see how I see you.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: 2 Corinthians 7:5
Our Dependency on Christ
"We are troubled on every side" (2 Cor. 7:5).
Why should God have to lead us thus, and allow the pressure to be so hard and constant? Well, in the first place, it shows His all-sufficient strength and grace much better than if we were exempt from pressure and trial. "The treasure is in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."
It makes us more conscious of our dependence upon Him. God is constantly trying to teach us our dependence, and to hold us absolutely in His hand and hanging upon His care.
This was the place where Jesus Himself stood and where He wants us to stand, not with self-constituted strength, but with a hand ever leaning upon His, and a trust that dare not take one step alone. It teaches us trust.
There is no way of learning faith except by trial. It is God's school of faith, and it is far better for us to learn to trust God than to enjoy life.
The lesson of faith once learned, is an everlasting acquisition and an eternal fortune made; and without trust even riches will leave us poor. --Days of Heaven upon Earth
"Why must I weep when others sing?
'To test the deeps of suffering.'
Why must I work while others rest?
'To spend my strength at God's request.'
Why must I lose while others gain?
'To understand defeat's sharp pain.'
Why must this lot of life be mine
When that which fairer seems is thine?
'Because God knows what plans for me
Shall blossom in eternity.'"
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Im longing for You now
To meet me in my weakness
And heal me with Your power
I wanna see You
Open up my eyes
I wanna see You tonight
Jesus, I am ready
To leave the past behind
But Im still hesitating
Oh, to let go in my mind
Im fighting with confusion
And Im drowning in my sin
I thought I knew the answers
But Im left unsatisfied within
2001 New Spring Publishing, Inc. / Wheat Sheaf Music (ASCAP)
(admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing)
Friday, February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
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Sunday, February 21, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Today is a day we are beginning to see more and more miracles and survivor stories. We are seeing more people who have been able to leave Port au Prince and make it here to the provinces. One young man is named Dieufort (literally “God is strong”). He grew up in our community and was the first in his family to finish high school through our ministry child sponsorship program. His sponsor had also wanted to help him finish college so he was in Port au Prince enrolling last week in a computer science program. Last night he told me his uncle’s house where he was staying had been destroyed and he had bit hit on the head. Over the past 4 days he made his way back here. As we sat by the candlelight in my house last night eating a meal of boiled plantain together, he shared with us all the horrors he had seen and experienced. Yet this morning, I saw him limping up the hill, returning to his work as a Sunday school teacher to help encourage the children.
Imagine the weeping and praises as we gathered in church this morning to worship God. One family, that of Pastor Eli Onne, one of the worship leaders, gathered together to sing a song for the church. In tears, they shared how 6 of the young adult children were in Port au Prince to attend school and work and were all living together. Their house was one of the few in their neighborhood not destroyed. Pastor Eli had gone two days after the earthquake to find if they were dead or alive. Today he stood with them all in church thanking God that he wasn’t having six funerals instead.
Following this, my brother-in-law, Jephthe Lucien, asked all those who had come from Port au Prince in the last few days to come forward so we could rejoice that they were alive and also to pray for those still in great need. All of us are beginning to plan for how to care for the increasing number of refugees appearing to see how we help. Immediate needs will be food, clothing, and housing. In the coming days we’ll tell you where to ship gathered supplies.
Caleb has been in Cap Haitien (Haiti’s second largest city) in the north coordinating relief supplies coming in. He’s had 4-5 flights each day of supplies headed different directions as he’s coordinating with Dr. Claude Surena, Haiti’s designated coordinator of relief. (Yeah for those Rotary contacts!)
Besides staying busy with that, Caleb has been distributing practical help on the ground as he finds it. As he delivered medical supplies to Hopital Justien in Cap Haitien he noticed the physicians and staff appeared exhausted and asked when was the last time they’d eaten? The medical director replied they hadn’t had the opportunity to stop. Thus Caleb headed to LaKay Restaurant where they prepare good food relatively quickly and purchased 50 meals for all the staff. When he came back with the food, the staff could hardly believe it and were very appreciative. He left funds with the restaurant which will continue to deliver for the next two days. The owner said he’ll pick up after that for a day or two and then see who else can help. It’s a small thing perhaps, but important none the less.
The mayors of Cap Haitien had sent school buses to pick up as many as possible to relocate survivors to the city here in the north. Caleb found out about it and spent $1,500 so the travelers could find a meal as they disembarked. Again, perhaps a small thing, but a practical need for those who haven’t eaten in several days.
We want you to know the resources you are sending us are being distributed quickly and as wisely as possible. Opportunities for medical volunteers and later for construction will open up but we need to plan wisely. Dr. Surena is already coordinating with those hospitals still standing around the country as to which locations need what help. We want to make sure we send people to where they can be utilized. We will keep you posted.
One last image to make you smile. This is the photo of two children (Shashu & Kiki) who arrived in Pignon yesterday. They told me that they were playing on their porch when the whole house started shaking. “Everything in the house fell to the ground!”
They spent the next three days and nights on the street. Their parents sent them to our community for safety. Their mother is a lab technician who is staying behind to help for now. These are just some of the stories and images around us. Thanks for continuing to pray!
We are humbled and grateful to see gifts coming in to help. It is getting exciting to see how we can move forward more and more and plan how to serve those around us!
Debbie Lucien for all
Friday, January 15, 2010
Letter from Debbie (her husband Caleb went immediately to Port-Au- Prince to assist in evacuation and rescue efforts) :
We are okay.
I just heard from Caleb. He arrived in Port au Prince and said the conditions are indescribeable.
Just to give you ideas, estimates on loss of life right now are approaching 250,000-half a million.
He says bodies of 20-30 people are piled up and noone is even stopping to pick them up because there is no where to take them.
It is horrible.
Last night he slept in his car and is trying to bring back some people here today. We have a group of Americans here right now and are trying to decide how to get them out. There are no commercial flights in and out of Haiti, the only way in is through the DR for anyone other than military aid workers.
8 hours ago · Comment · Like · See Wall-to-Wall
What we are doing: 1. Caleb is arriving back here today with some evacuees. 2. We are preparing to house as many as we can (now I know why God gave me such a BIG new house-smile) 3. We can house us to several thousand here, we are preparing by getting drinking water ready,e tc. We need funding to buy sleeping pads and food for them. There is a water filtration system in town which will provide water. The local hospital here is already receiving injured from the capital. Those who can walk or travel are coming here. We are planning at present to put evacuees at the camp, at the school, wherever we can find place. 4. Please continue to pray for wisdom and strength for Caleb 4.5- Jephthe left this morning to help with evacuations and meet Caleb. 5. We are fine! 6. Some cell phone service started working again today, although it is intermittent. Pray for calm as people begin to hear who has died. It is very disheartening. 7. Pray we can continue to be a light. The Christians here know we have survived to be here for such a time as this. WE love you guys. Please pass the message along and continue to pray for all of us. Debbie
Monday, January 11, 2010
The Incredible MRI Results!!!