Monday, September 29, 2014

Four thugs and a car problem: Trusting God in the night

Tonight, my mom shared with me a story told by Gloria Lundstrom, of a lady who experienced the intervention of God. It's such a neat story! So I'll share it here. Note: As with any recounting of supra-natural intervention, we must interpret it by Word of God, in the context of God's Kingdom: His kingdom come, His will be done. Sometimes intervention doesn't come in the way that we want or expect. Sometimes the hours of prayer in darkness seem like they'll never end. But God is still God, and totally good, perfectly holy and loving! We don't always understand God's answers or lack of them, but it's good to give praise with others who experience God's hand firsthand. (God has blessed me with some first hand interventions, and verifiable secondhand ones. He has also blessed me with hours of unanswered prayers, and painful hours of darkness. In all, high praise is due: God is holy and He is good. Alleluia!)

Anyway, to the story: Gloria comments:
The following is one of the most exciting testimonies I've ever heard concerning the power of holding on to God's promises. This is a true story (names have been changed). It was related to me by a very dear friend, Julie Carter, from Decorah, Iowa, who has since gone to be with the Lord.

A Bible study, four thugs, and a car problem

One summer day years back, Julie's friend in California, Jan, attended a Bible study with another friend, Bonnie. The Scripture shared that day was Psalm 46:1, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." 

On the way home, they decided to spend a few minutes at a large shopping mall. When they returned to Jan's late-model car, they saw four or five young men loitering around it. The ladies quickly walked through the gang, jumped into the car, rolled up the windows and locked the doors.

Then the men began to terrorize them by beating on the car and pulling on the door handles. Bonnie shared that fear gripped both of them and they began to imagine what the men would do if they broke in. Jan tried to start the car, but to no avail! She tried again, and it still wouldn't start. She turned to Bonnie and said, "We've never had any problems with this car-it's almost new. I don't know why it won't start."

Bonnie, alarmed, said "Jan, we don't have time to waste. Let's test the verses we learned." She began to repeat the words, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Then she prayed, "Okay, God, in Jesus' name, we're standing on your Word." Jan then turned the key and the car started up immediately! She slowly forced her way through the angry young men.

Looking in the rearview mirror as she sped off, she saw the men staring at her car in disbelief. She drove home as quickly as she could, pulled into the driveway, jumped out and ran into the arms of her husband and began sobbing out her story.

He consoled her and then exclaimed, "That's a new car! You shouldn't have had any problems starting it." She cried, "Believe me, honey, it wouldn't start. Then, after we repeated Psalm 46:1, about God being our refuge and strength in times of trouble, I breathed the name of Jesus, turned the key, and the car started right off."

After calming her down, Jan's husband explained he was going to check the car. In a few moments he returned, his face pale and bewildered. "Jan, honey, no wonder the car wouldn't start -- the battery's gone! There's no battery in the car, Jan. Those men took it."

They both cried and praised God, for they knew God had performed a miracle before their very eyes.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."


p.s. What about the times when God doesn't answer as directly and quickly? Like the lady who was jogging, only to be attacked by dogs, on a lonely road with no one to help her. A dedicated Christian, she called on the Lord to save her. But she was still painfully mauled. She survived, but was badly wounded. Scarred for life, without the same use of her body. It caused her to struggle in faith for some time. Why didn't God answer? It took years for her to understand that Jesus was with her in the attack. 

In the times when we see quick answers, we simply must praise and realize it's all about God and His kingdom, not about us. Likewise, in the times when prayers don't seem to be answered, when pain mounts high and shadows fall all around, we must praise. Praise in the night. Because He is at work. He loves us. Like John the Baptist, we may be on death row, but the gospel is preached around the world, and the kingdom advances. In this kingdom success we take our success, and give thanks in the night. We seek His face always, and know that there will be light. Alleluia!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Divine light for my darkness

Indeed, you are my lamp, Lord. My God illuminates the darkness around me. — Psalm 18:28

by C.H. Spurgeon

It may be that my soul sits in darkness; and if this be of a spiritual kind, no human power can bring me light. Blessed be God! He can enlighten my darkness and at once light my candle. Even though I may be surrounded by a “darkness which might be felt,” yet He can break the gloom and immediately make it bright around me.

The mercy is that if He lights the candle none can blow it out, neither will it go out for lack of substance, nor burn out of itself through the lapse of hours. The lights which the Lord kindled in the beginning are shining still. The Lord’s lamps may need trimming, but He does not put them out.

Let me, then, like the nightingale, sing in the dark. Expectation shall furnish me with music, and hope shall pitch the tune. Soon I shall rejoice in a candle of God’s lighting. I am dull and dreary just now. Perhaps it is the weather, or bodily weakness, or the surprise of a sudden trouble; but whatever has made the darkness, it is God alone who will bring the light. My eyes are unto Him alone. I shall soon have the candles of the Lord shining about me; and, further on in His own good time, I shall be where they need no candle, neither light of the sun. Hallelujah!


Thursday, September 25, 2014

The look that unmakes us and then heals us: A call to obedience

“Lucy,” [Aslan] said… “You have work in hand, and much time has been lost today.”
   “Yes, wasn’t it a shame?” said Lucy. “I saw you all right. They wouldn’t believe me. They’re all so—”

From somewhere deep inside Aslan’s body there came the faintest suggestion of a growl.
  “I’m sorry,” said Lucy, who understood some of his moods. “I didn’t mean to start slanging the others. But it wasn’t my fault anyway, was it?”
The Lion looked straight into her eyes.
 “Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy. “You don’t mean it was? How could I—I couldn’t have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I? Don’t look at me like that… oh well, I suppose I could, Yes, and it wouldn’t have been alone, I know, not if I was with you. But what would have been the good?” 

    Aslan said nothing.

    “You mean,” said Lucy rather faintly, “that it would have turned out all right—somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?”

    “To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.”
  “But anyone can find out what will happen,” said Aslan. “If you go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me—what will happen? There is only one way of finding out.”

    “Do you mean that is what you want me to do?” gasped Lucy.
    “Yes, little one,” said Aslan.
    “Will the others see you too?” asked Lucy.
    “Certainly not at first” said Aslan. “Later on, it depends.”
    “But they won’t believe me!” said Lucy.

    “It doesn’t matter,” said Aslan.

    “Oh dear, oh dear,” said Lucy. “And I was so pleased at finding you again. And I thought you’d let me stay. And I thought you’d come roaring in and frighten all the enemies away—like last time. And now everything is going to be horrid.”

    “It is hard for you, little one,” said Aslan. “But things never happen the same way twice. It has been hard for us all in Narnia before now.”

    Lucy buried her head in his mane to hide from his face, But there must have been magic in his mane. She could feel lion-strength going into her. Quite suddenly she sat up.

    “I’m sorry, Aslan,” she said. “I’m ready now.”

    “Now you are a lioness,” said Aslan. “And now all Narnia will be renewed. But come. We have no time to lose.”


Saturday, September 20, 2014

John Stott: Daily prayer to the saving God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

John Stott was an amazing man of God, a high-level expositor of Scripture -- a humble servant of the Lord. He exuded the presence of the Living God. Hearing him speak in person changed the way I viewed preaching and Scripture.

Here is his daily prayer: saturated in the nature of God -- God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: the saving God revealed to us in Jesus Christ the eternal Son.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more.

Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.

Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.

Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me.

Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, I worship you.

Lord Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord of the World, I worship you.

Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the people of God, I worship you.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be forever, Amen.



Lord, teach me to pray like this and to know you like this.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Steady bow & skillful hands: Arrows turned to prayers

Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough near a spring whose branches climb over the wall. The archers will attack him, they will shoot at him and oppose him. But his bow will remain steady, and his hands will be skillful; because of the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel. — Gen 49:22-24

by J.R. Miller

One would have thought that Joseph being a fruitful vine could have looked with complacency, almost with holy scorn, upon these archers who shot at him, but it was not so; “they severely grieved him.” To be sold by his own brethren into Egypt; the dreams and visions God had given him to be derided; to be cast into prison as an ungodly man through the very person who was tempting him to ungodliness, and there to be neglected and forsaken; how these archers had shot their arrows against his bosom, and severely grieved him!

It was because he had the fear of God, because his feelings were tender, that the arrows found a place. Had he had a bosom of steel, had he had a heart of stone, the arrows would have fallen off blunted and pointless; but it was because he had tender feelings, a living conscience, warm affections, godly fear, and a work of grace upon his soul, that he presented a tender spot for these arrows to stick in; therefore the archers not only “hated him, but shot at him, and severely grieved him.”

But did they prove his destruction? Did any one drain his life blood? Did he sink and die like a wounded deer? Did he fall upon the plain and gasp out his forlorn life? No; “But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.” He then had a bow; he could shoot too. And what was his bow? and how did he direct the arrow? He picked up the arrows that were shot at him, or rather he took them out of his own wounded bosom; and instead of aiming these shafts against those who had so severely grieved him, he shot upward; he launched his arrows towards the throne of the Majesty on high; he turned their bitter shafts into prayers, supplications, and petitions.

Thus the very arrows shot at him he turned into petitions with which to approach the throne of God. He drew his bow even up to the heaven of heavens; and that is what you should do. Never return evil for evil; never return railing for railing. When you are shot at by the archers, do not shoot at them again. Take your arrows and bring them before the throne; present your feelings wounded as they are, your groans and sighs, with your warm petitions, and spread them before God, who hears and answers prayer; and you will find the benefit and blessing of it.

The world will beat you at shooting if you shoot at them. They can use language that you cannot. A man of birth and education, drawn into collision with a street ruffian, cannot bandy words with him; he must pass on; he would soon be beaten in the strife of words. So you must never shoot arrow against arrow with those archers who severely grieve you. You have a tender conscience; you have the fear of God; you weigh your words; you know what will grieve your mind when it comes back upon you, and you are therefore sparing of your speech. Cease from that war; return not a single arrow, let them shoot away, take their arrows, direct your bow upward, turn them all into prayers and supplications, and in due time sweet answers of mercy and peace will come into your bosom.

Thus Joseph’s bow “abode in strength,” and all their arrows neither struck his bow out of his hand, nor broke it asunder. He could shoot as well as they, but not in the same way nor at the same object. We see, then, Joseph’s fruitfulness; we see the source of it; we see the persecutions his soul was grieved by; and we see the final victory that he gained. God of his infinite mercy lead our souls into the same blessed track, apply his truth to our hearts, that our bow may abide in strength, and that the arms of our hands may be made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.