Archive for June, 2009

Communion Journal

Have felt trapped lately. I can’t go back. This is the only type of life I desire. I can’t seem to find much success moving forward either. I had thought that we would meet with much success quickly after we left Hickory—so far that hasn’t seemed to have happened. My devotionals lately have been a mirror of this.

God can’t be bought. He can’t be found by the earnestness of the seeker. Yet he delights to reveal himself to those who seek. Seeking is a futile exercise on our part, yet God loves to bless it. This seems a hard thing right now. It seems often that I must seek until I despair of finding, despair of all my efforts and labors—and then God lifts me up. This process of getting to the point of despair day after day is a hard one.

Communion Journal

Feel like faith has been a holding on rather than an excelling recently. Perhaps this is a good thing in that God is stretching me. Not too long ago, I was passionately pleading for others to walk always with the Lord. Now I am waiting and struggling more to walk myself.

Lord, stretch me as thin as you want to stretch me. Only give me delight in your presence during the process. Help me in this way to show that you are altogether lovely—that your presence is worth the loss of all other things. You are our shield, our stability. The joy of our hearts, the boast of our tongue. Teach me to walk by faith. Teach me to wait on you, to look to you for deliverance. Give aid to my striving after you this day. Psalm 53:6, “Oh that salvation would come out of Zion.” This is our desire: that salvation would come out of God’s churches. We would see them strong in the Lord. God desires this more than we do. I forget that we don’t have to convince God to love and support his churches.

Communion Journal

Oh my soul; why do you not care for God more than you do? How long will you bring him ineffectual, half-hearted pleas? Will God accept your warm regard or your cold service? Why do you insist on standing before him on your own merit when you have such a sacrifice in Christ as to assuage all of your guilt? Do you not see what an aggravation this is? Why do you insist on pining after fame, riches, and ease when your Lord sought and had none of these things in his life? Would you be greater than your master?

Lord Jesus Christ, redeemer of my soul and cover of all my shortcomings; plead my cause to our Father, for my cause is just and desperate. Change this heart oh God. Leave me not alone until it is conformed to a pattern of Godliness. Give me your own power to do this. I have non of my own.

Thank you that all these prayers were provided for long ago at the cross.

Communion Journal

Our hearts crave security. Right now, we want for nothing. As far as blessings go, we have just about everything that our hearts desire … except security in those things. Is not God secure enough for us? Owning little and having no job, we get to see how secure we are when we trust in God. Yet, even now—perhaps I should say especially now—we see how little we actually feel secure in the Lords arms. I know I would feel much more secure if we owned a house and I had a steady job that used my talents. I know the reality is that I would not be more secure, but apparently I don’t really know it, or my heart would follow suit.

Had a day today where I felt very little need to self-justify. Felt a good degree of contentment in the Lord, but lacked being overjoyed in him until we had an especially good time of prayer in the evening with a friend. What can’t saints accomplish in prayer? If I could excel in any act of faith, I think it would be prayer … even before evangelism.

On Tuesday of this week, and on Monday of last week, I took a day off of all labor. I especially rested from doubting our way of life. What a relief that was to go a day without constantly questioning. I think I question more than I should. I do this for the sake of the many people around us who don’t think what we are doing is right. Placating the “many counselors” is a constant drain on my emotional energy.* Thank God for Sabbath. I’m not sure if it is right for me to take it on a day other than Sunday—especially since I’m not a preacher—but Saturday and Sunday are often the days where I spend the most energy.

*Regarding counselors: I’m reminded of a Chambers’ quote, where referencing Gal. 1:16, he says; “Never ask the advice of another about anything God makes you decide before Him. If you ask advice, you will nearly always side with Satan.” Elsewhere Chambers says; “We show how little we love God by preferring to listen to His servants only. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we do not desire that God Himself should speak to us. Why are we so terrified lest God should speak to us? Because we know that if God does speak, either the thing must be done or we must tell God we will not obey Him.” These are confusing concepts. Nonetheless, I think they are true.

Communion Journal

Today was the first time we prayed for money since the last time when our prayers were answered within a few hours of us praying. Well, once again, we prayed and God answered us quickly. I wish I knew of a way to write this that didn’t make it sound like the power was in the prayer. It was not. It was just a simple prayer for money. God delighted in us. He offered us free and unmerited grace. I know that many will read that as further evidence that my humility merits the reward and that is why it was given. I know this because that is how I used to read things like this.

Patron Provider

With my combination of passion, intelligence, communication skills, and so on … why don’t I just go to seminary and become a pastor? That is a good question. I don’t have the answer, but I have some thoughts, one of which is a doubt that a good pastor is what the American Church needs right now.

Many people believe that if we honor God well, then God will love us. It is easy for people to conceive of a God who loves pastors. A God who honors those who honor him is not hard to imagine. It is much harder to believe in a God who would condescend to love and care for someone like myself.

I don’t have anything to recommend myself to God. Most people seem to think I’m sinning in some way or other by living the way I do. I’m sure many secretly want me to fail. I’m lazy, I’m wasting my talents, I need an inter-national ministry or at least a mega-church. At very least I ought be the head pastor of a small church. Some might settle for an elder or an assistant pastor but that is the absolute bottom. Do any of these, and then God can provide for you. These things count, but if God really provides for all of his children, why would anyone ever work? This is the unasked but always present question.

In that line of thought, we show that we do not believe that the Bible is true.

I do the same thing. Almost everyday, I find myself justifying my time to myself or to someone else. I can’t bring myself to tell people that I spent the last two days trying (almost ineffectively) to pray and read scriptures. Instead, I tell people about three days ago when I talked to the homeless man. I do this because I believe, as everyone else does, that we need to recommend ourselves to God by good works in order to have his good grace upon us.

But merited grace is no grace at all.

We do not believe that God will provide for his saints everything they need.

We do not believe that God provides provisions for us free from any merit on our part what-so-ever.

We believe that if we work well, then God owes us provisions.

This belief makes God our debtor rather than our gracious patron-provider.

Is this how we treat our own children: “work hard enough and well enough, and I’ll give you dinner, otherwise, you’re on your own.” Obviously not, but this is the way we think of God. This is the way we talk about God. And this is the testimony that our lives give about God. In our thoughts, words, and deeds we witness to the supposed fact that we are much better fathers to our earthly children than God is to his spiritual children and we commit this blaspheme daily. How long will God let us mock him in this way?

Who will show that this is wrong? Who will teach with their lives, words, and thoughts that this is absolutely not true? Here I am, send me.

To be despised both within and without of the church so that men can see that God loves without thought to merit is to me a very glorious thought. It challenges my belief of free grace to think that God might love me enough to use me in such a way as this, even I who am so unworthy of such an honor.

Communion Journal

Today I have spent less energy finding God than I have lately. Yet God is bigger and more glorious to me than he has been for awhile. I think perhaps God does things like this to prove that it is not by human will or exertion that recommends us to him, but by free grace alone we are loved by God.

Communion Journal

Just found glory and freedom in praising God and was enabled to magnify his name with freedom and delight. How wonderful he is to help us in our time of need. More wonderful still, he allows us to bear his image and so resemble his glory. In this way, all our magnification of him comes back upon us.

Communion Journal

Devoted today to fasting and praying. So far it has gone much like yesterday morning: I am able to perform unto duties and means fairly well, but do not have a freedom and enjoyment in them. My heart goes out to the multitudes whose existence is defined but such: multiplication of duty with no delight in those duties. I believe that my deliverer is coming, I believe I shall soon have such freedom to delight in him as makes all of this searching worthwhile. Yet I do not believe those things rightly or I would rejoice therein. For now, I hope, expect, and look forward to his coming.

Communion Journal

Woke early this morning with plans to find joy in the Lord, and then to go out and do whatever work he would bless me with. Had high hopes of accomplishing this as I usually find joy quickly when I wake up early and seek it and God promises good work for his saints in Ephesians.

It didn’t work out the way I had planned.

For some reason yet unknown to me, I could not find joy in any of the great things of God. I could go over many glorious things in my mind that I knew were glorious and that ought lift me to communion with my God. Yet they did not touch my heart.

Observe,

  1. I woke up early to find him for the sole reasons, I trust, of finding him and working unto him.
  2. I started with the best prayers I knew to pray, dedicating my time to him and pleading with him, for the sake of his Son and his kingdom to allow me to find joy and give me work to do.
  3. I read and meditated on some Psalms, which from past experience, is the best book to lift me to joy.
  4. I refused comfort in other things (though I did take some breakfast) not wanting to take satisfaction in anything before satisfaction was found in God.

    Yet in all of this, I could not find God. An hour or so after I had started my pursuit, I still had no satisfaction in divine things.

Then, I listened to Piper’s biography on Brainerd. How encouraging it can be to see other men who failed more spectacularly that I do, yet who God used in exceedingly spectacular ways. While thus enabled to worship God, I took a bike ride while still listening to the biography and was able to meditate and pray on several divine subjects while thus engaged.

Oh my soul, if you read this again later, note how you now rejoice that you did not find God at first attempt. It is never in vain that the saints call out to God and seek him. If he is hard to find, it is for some particular blessing that will more than make up for the immediate lack. This will always be the way with God. Do not despair, though he appears to tarry, his coming awaits the appointed, and thus perfect, time.

Communion Journal

Had a particularly low time yesterday evening after considering some of the things that have happened at church. I was spending time in prayer later that night asking where the power of God was and if our story made any sense. You see, there are many false teachers of Christ in this world, how am I to know I am not one of them? One of the primary means we are given to judge false prophets by is the fruit that they produce. I was praying to God, "where is our fruit?" and "if there is no fruit, how am I to know that I am doing your will?"

In the middle of pleading to God for some indication that we are to continue on in this path, I received a phone call from someone who said that they had been touched by my writing. What an easy master we serve. When his service is too hard for us, he shoulders the load for awhile.

This morning, I remember having a particularly worshipful time with God while pondering that he gives us his Holy Spirit by whom we can have eyes that see and ears that hear. If someone was brought up without a sense of taste or smell, he might have learnt through other faculties that honey was sweet and that old milk was bad. Yet, he would not really know for himself the truth of those things. So are we who are brought up under the law: we are told one thing is good and another bad, yet when Christ breaks into our lives, we receive a new perception in the Holy Spirit that we might taste the honey for ourselves. "Taste and see that the Lord is good," he tells us.

I wish I could encourage all professors of Christ to taste him. He is so sweet to those he draws near to himself.

Communion Journal

Sunday, had a blessed day. At one point, was praying over someone and saw a flash of light as though someone had taken a flash picture of us praying. Ellie was right there and didn’t see it. I’m not claiming it was the Holy Spirit but it might have been. Whatever it was, it served as a reminder that every prayer offered in faith is a miracle regardless to signs and wonders. I walked in the light of the Lord the rest of the day knowing that my prayers for that man were already answered. What a privilege it is to be a son of righteousness.

Yesterday, I felt the same sort of depression that I had several days ago now. When I tried to pray, my mind wandered. After some time of vainly searching for the Lord, I tried reading out of my daily reading in Leviticus which again availed me nothing. After some more seemingly vain prayers (are our prayers for help and mercy ever really vain?) I turned to Psalms 31, "In you, O LORD, do I take refuge." That one line broke into my Spirit and I was enabled to feel God’s truth sink into my soul. God is my refuge. I need nothing else today. I am loved by Almighty God. My deliverer is coming.