Posts Tagged God

Quote of the Day

24 May 2012

My love for you, Lord, is not an uncertain feeling but a matter of conscious certainty. With your word you pierced my heart, and I loved you … But when I love you, what do I love? It is not physical beauty nor temporal glory nor the brightness of light dear to earthly eyes, nor the sweet melodies of all kinds of songs, nor the gentle odour of flowers and ointments and perfumes, nor manna or honey, nor limbs welcoming the embraces of the flesh; it is not these I love when I love my God.

Yet there is a light I love, and a food, and  a kind of embrace when I love my God — a light, voice, odour, food, embrace of my inner man, where my soul is floodlit by light which space cannot contain, where there is sound that time cannot seize, where there is a perfume which no breeze disperses, where there is a taste for food no amount of eating can lessen, and where there is a bond of union that no satiety can part. That is what I love when I love my God.

– St. Augustine in Confessions

Hymn of the Day

24 April 2012

King David often compared God to a fortress, a strong tower and a refuge in times of trouble. The Tower of London may have provided shelter for kings and been a stronghold against their enemies but it had flaws and weaknesses. On the other hand, we have a Fortress that never fails.

A Mighty Fortress is our God

Words and Music by Martin Luther

***

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;

Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;

His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not his equal.

***

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;

Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:

Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;

Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,

And He must win the battle.

***

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:

The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;

His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure, One little word shall fell him.

***

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;

The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,

His kingdom is forever.

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:2)

Prayer Points — Tower of London

20 April 2012

These prayer points and points to ponder will be inserted at corresponding points of the Tower of London section of the Crime & Punishment chapter.

Point to Ponder – Tower of London

Dungeons, torture devices, beheadings and executions all seem like a thing of the past. The natural tendency when walking around the Tower grounds is to think, “Whew, glad I wasn’t around when all of that was going on!” But did you know that torture of a different type takes place still today? Consider how often we place others in the prison of unforgiveness or use the torture of silent treatment or commit murder in our hearts.

In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus says that if we are angry with our brother or speak harsh words to someone, we are just as deserving of judgment as someone who kills.

Pray that God will give us the strength to forgive as we have been forgiven and to love others with the same unselfish love that God has lavished on us (John 15:12).

Point to Ponder – Our Fortress and Strong Tower

King David often compared God to a fortress, a strong tower and a refuge in times of trouble. The Tower of London may have provided shelter for kings and been a stronghold against their enemies but it had flaws and weaknesses. On the other hand, we have a Fortress that never fails.

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:2)

Point to Ponder – Crown Jewels

Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne! As you gaze at these emblems and symbols of the Kings and Queens of England, consider the glorious upcoming ceremony of the Coronation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Consider the words of Revelation 19:12, “… and on His head were many crowns.”

Prayer Points – Tower of London

Matthew 6:13, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Many of the power struggles in history, and the Tower of London’s history in particular, were caused by the same vices that mar the human heart today.

  • Pray against the Tower’s pervasive legacy of hatred, greed, envy, pride, selfishness, caprice, murder, adultery and lies.
  • Pray against the weapons of torture and imprisonment we use on one another through the silent treatment, bitterness, harsh words, gossip and resentment.
  • Pray that power struggles between Christians would dissolve and that we would learn to love others as Christ has loved us.
  • Pray against the murder we commit in our hearts through the thoughts we think and the words we speak.

Point to Ponder – Wall Walks

There are about 75 instances each of the words “fortress” and “strong tower” in the Bible, most of which are metaphors for God. Praise the Lord for his faithful protection in our times of crisis and need! Quote these verses as you walk along the walls of the Tower.

“And he said, the Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou savest me from violence.” 2 Samuel 22:2-3,

“For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.” Psalm 31:3

“Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.” Psalm 71:3

“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” Psalm 91:2

“My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.” Psalm 144:2

“For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” Psalm 61:3

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10

Hymn of the Day

18 April 2012

God, Who Touchest Earth with Beauty

Mary S. Edgar

***

God, who touchest earth with beauty,

Make my heart anew;

With thy spirit recreate me,

Pure and strong and true.

Like thy springs and running waters

Make me crystal pure;

Like thy rocks of towering grandeur

Make me strong and sure.

Like thy dancing waves in sunlight

Make me glad and free;

Like the straightness of the pine trees

Let me upright be.

Like the arching of the heavens

Lift my thoughts above;

Turn my dreams to noble action,

Ministries of love.

God, who touchest earth with beauty,

Make my heart anew;

Keep me ever, by thy spirit,

Pure and strong and true. Amen.

Living Life’s Dramatic Pauses

2 April 2012

I was awakened by a knock on my door at 3:30 am last Thursday. My dad softly told me that my mom was in severe abdominal pain and that he was about to call 911. One minute I’m fast asleep dreaming about mundane things and the next I’m throwing hospital-friendly clothing into an overnight bag.

In 2011, I moved in with my parents to help take care of my mom who had not been given long to live. Miraculously, she beat the odds and gained strength each day until she was healthy enough to go about her life in an almost normal way. But we lived under the cloud of knowing that an emergency could arise at any moment.

On Thursday, that moment came.

We spent nine hours in the ER and then she was transferred to an isolation room in the hospital. It’s now Sunday. While she came in with abdominal pain, she ended up contracting pneumonia. Fortunately, they were able to control that since it was caught in the beginning stages. Every day has brought new hopes on the heels of new fears.

Sometimes preachers preach to the choir. Sometimes preachers preach to themselves. It’s the same thing with writers. As I read over last Sunday’s post, Life’s Dramatic Pauses, I realize how much I need to be reminded that God is in control, even in those heart-stopping pauses when the rug is swept out from under us.

P.S. We are hoping to go home tomorrow!!

Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

 

Life’s Dramatic Pauses

25 March 2012

Sometimes the greatest chapters in life are preceded by dramatic pauses. Times when God is silent. Times when the world around us seems meaningless, empty, void. Times when we find ourselves waiting and waiting and waiting. Waiting for what? We don’t really know, but we can’t deny the feeling of being in a holding pattern.

“Waiting. Waiting for a train to go, waiting around for a yes or a no.” These lines, from one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books Oh, the Places You’ll Go allude to those precarious, maddening times in life when we have no control.

Sometimes waiting leads to good things. Waiting through engagement for marriage; waiting through nine months of pregnancy for a precious bundle of joy; waiting for our birthday to come — at least before age 25! — and for Christmas Day; waiting, only to find out we got the promotion at work.

But there are also waiting periods filled with pain and fear. Waiting only to find out we lost out on the adoption. Waiting for a diagnosis in the doctor’s office, or holding a loved one’s hand as they lie in a hospital bed, life slowly ebbing away.

God knows that we cannot handle lives of constant action and that we often need waiting times to slow us and help us refocus.

The greatest symphonies incorporate breaks and pauses. Sometimes the pauses are necessary for musicians to catch their breath; sometimes the pauses are dramatic and cause the audience members’ hearts to pound as they anticipate the next movement. Where would storytellers and comedians be without the necessary pause before a well-delivered punch line?

Do you feel like someone hit the pause button on your life? Do you feel at times like you’re the punch line in some great cosmic joke? Yet without pauses, when would we have time to reflect and anticipate, to remember the past, to consider the future or to be thankful for the present?

If we will let Him, God often grows close to us in those quiet times of waiting. He waits to reveal Himself in the quiet, still aloneness that follows disappointment, loss, fear and suffering. Learn to appreciate the dramatic pauses in your life: they are special gifts, though so often wrapped in trials.

 

God knows that we cannot handle lives of constant action and that we often need waiting times to slow us and help us refocus.

A Visit to the London Mosque

24 March 2012

London Mosque from Regent's Park

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the London Central Mosque with a group of students from a Christian university in the U.S. who were studying the topic of Middle East relations. As we arrived at the mosque, the air was filled with a mixture of nervousness and anticipation: this was a new experience for most of us. What would it be like?

Our Guide Omar

We waited a few minutes at a guard station for Omar, our escort, to arrive. The women we saw were all much more heavily veiled than we were, even though the women in our group had taken care to dress modestly and to cover their heads with scarves, as had been recommended to us when the tour was set up.

We seemed to stir up a bit of curiosity among the mosque-goers. Omar, who is the chief PR person for the mosque, was an excellent and genial host. He had a heavy beard, was very young (probably mid-20s), of Afghan background and therefore darker skinned, with a white skull cap. He was in Western dress – a button-down shirt and trousers.

A Lesson in Mosque Etiquette

Before we walked into the prayer hall, we were required to remove our shoes and put them on shelves – a shoe rack of sorts. I wish I’d had time to read the sign that outlined mosque etiquette but we were moving too quickly. At a glance, I saw that one of the first rules was that anyone coming for prayer should refrain from eating onion or garlic or anything that would cause bad breath and distract other people. That might be a good rule for our churches as well! They were also admonished to wear clean socks. Women should refrain from wearing perfume because it might excite desire among the men.

After removing our shoes, we all sat down on the carpeted floor in the middle of the prayer hall to listen to Omar. It was a stunningly beautiful room, more beautiful and full of light than any cathedral I’ve ever seen. But, then again, I kind of overdosed on cathedrals as a child growing up in France so perhaps what I admired was the novel aspect of the architecture.

Point to Ponder: Pray Continually

Muslims pray five obligatory prayers per day, and are encouraged to do so in congregation with other Muslims. This encourages a discipline and builds a sense of fraternity and community among those who pray, and an opportunity for them to exchange thoughts and help each other with problems. Can you imagine the wonderful things that could happen if Christians prayed fervently five times a day, every day? Consider putting this theory into practice and setting an alarm on your phone or other device to go off at five preset times during the day as a reminder to drop everything and focus on what’s most important: God and prayer.

Barefoot Inside the Prayer Hall

It helped that the hall was decorated in my favorite color: blue. The room was domed and the ceiling painted in different shades of blue. Just below the domed ceiling were beautiful Arab inscriptions, also in blue. There were bookshelves along part of the wall. No icons, no pictures, no statues.

It was pretty quiet, this not being a Friday or the mosque’s most popular prayer time, with people (only males) praying or sitting in small groups. Some were lying on the floor (one guy was snoring until his mobile phone – another mosque no-no – woke him up).

Omar was a very good teacher, using a question and answer method. One of the first things Omar clarified was that removing shoes is in no way an act of worship. It’s just common sense: it’s to keep the carpet clean. He spoke for nearly an hour about the five pillars and I found his method of explanation very clear and easy to understand. I was struck by how sincere and passionate he was about devotion to God, about prayer, about giving to others, about fasting and about his own pilgrimage to Mecca.

A Poignant Moment

The atmosphere was quiet and peaceful as he spoke and there was a nice breeze floating in from the open windows. It rather reminded me of nursery nap time. A scene that really marked me was the sight of a little blond-headed boy, probably about two years old, kneeling to pray beside his dad.

A visit to a mosque, while perhaps controversial for some Christians, can be an excellent way of gaining insight into the Islamic faith and of praying for Muslims “on location.”

For a suggested half-day’s itinerary of the Regent’s Park area of London, see Walk 5: Parks & Recreation.

Love Feast England

15 March 2012

Check out this amazing and powerful video.

Love Feast England Tour 2012 Promo Video from Love Feast on Vimeo.

 

Prayerwalking: How to Pray

25 November 2011

These suggestions for prayer will apply whether you are prayerwalking in your own neighborhood or cities around the world. The following prayer points are excerpts from Prayerwalking by Steve Hawthorne and Graham Kendrick (Creation House 1993)

1. Concerning Christ

 Proclaim him to be the one Mediator and the ransom for all. Name him Lord of the neighborhood and of the lives you see.

2. Concerning leaders

Pray for people in positions of authority — for teachers, police, administrators and parents.

3. Concerning peace

Cry out for the godliness and holiness of God’s people to increase into substantial peace. Pray for new churches to be established.

4. Concerning truth

Declare openly the bedrock reality that there is one God.

Pray that minds would cease to be blinded by Satan so that they could come to a knowledge of the truth.

5. Concerning the gospel

Praise God for his heart’s desire that all people be saved.

Ask that heaven would designate this year as a “proper time” for the testimony of Christ to be given afresh with simple power (I Tim 2:6)

6. Concerning the blessing of God

Give God the thanks he deserves for the goodness he constantly bestows on the homes you pass by.

Ask to see the city with his eyes, that you might sense what is good and pleasing in his sight as well as what things grieve him deeply.

Ask God to bring forth an enduring spiritual awakening.

7. Concerning the Church

Ask for healing in relationships, that there be no wrath or dissension among God’s people.

Ask that God would make his people, men and women alike, expressive in worship with the substance of radiant, relational holiness.

What I’m Reading

19 November 2011

1. Good Guilt, Bad Guilt: And What To Do With Each by Becca Cowan Johnson.

Excerpt from back cover:

Do you feel guilty? Have you forgotten what your New Year’s resolutions even were? Are you envious of your neighbor’s car? Has it been two weeks since you mopped the kitchen floor? Were you rude to a coworker? Are you throwing away things you should be recycling? Have you neglected time with your children? Did you stray from your fat-free diet? When was your last quiet time?

Most people feel guilty in these areas — and many more. Some of the guilt we experience is part of having a healthy conscience. Our guilt, properly understood, can show us the sin in our lives and lead us to repentance. Bad guilt, however, undermines our emotional and spiritual growth. It is destructive and even immobilizing.

The difficulty is that it is hard to tell the difference. But this book will help us unmask bad guilt and get rid of it. Once we learn to identify this unnecessary guilt, God will begin to work powerfully in our lives. And we’ll discover how good guilt can challenge us to glorify God in all we do.

2. Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ by Madame Guyon.

Excerpt from back cover:

One of the most influential spiritual books ever penned, even secular historians acknowledge the great impact Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ has had in Christian history. Madame Guyon is generally credited, even by her enemies, as being one of the best-known women in church history. Will Durant, in his 11-volume Story of Civilization, recounts the impact of Jeanne Guyon’s life and writings on French history.

At one time this book was publicly burned in France and yet it has also been received by seeking Christians as one of the most helpful Christian books ever written. In truth, you are holding in your hands one of the most influential and one of the most powerful Christian books ever written. Penned by one of Christianity’s most famous saints, Jeanne Guyon, it has played a major part in the lives of more famous Christians than perhaps any other Christian book.

3. Confessions by Saint Augustine

A few people I greatly admire mentioned this work as one of the most influential in their lives. I’d attempted to read it before but, frankly, just couldn’t get into it — until now. Although Augustine was born in 354, his autobiography is eerily modern and relevant. He writes as if he were talking to God, so the work is a beautiful, transparent prayer and you almost feel guilty for eavesdropping. The book, originally written in Latin, covers Augustine’s adolescent struggles, his slow upward climb of the echelons of society, and finally his renouncing of all the glory and fame for his faith when he converted to Christianity. It’s a classical work of literature that everyone, especially every Christian, should read at least once in life.  I’m finding it strangely moving and insightful — and a bit hard to read (I’ve been at it since July!!). Definitely worth the effort, though.

 

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