In the Still of the Night

In the still of the night the presence of God is deafening. When the heart starts to wander, his Spirit reminds me of Jeremiah who wrote,

“He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.” Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

His Spirit leads with his word, filling both mind and heart, and fellowship with him halts the rising tide of doubt. In the still of the night the presence of God is not deafening. It quiets my soul.

Prolegomenon

rickileebrooks:

It is an honor and privilege to reblog a few very powerful paragraphs from my son-in-law Zach Ricks. I am so looking forward to more. May his tribe increase.

Originally posted on JesusandZach:

A word beforehand.


Mankind is the apex of the creative desire of God almighty.

Jesus Christ High King of all creation. Fully God. Fully man. Begotten before creation. Wrapped in the mystery of the Godhead. Holy is He.


He has called me. A wretch among wretches, thorn among thorns, sinner among sinners to receive His irresistible grace. He is Most High Priest and Savior. Who was birthed, betrayed, buried, and who burst forth from the grave. And now is reigning at the right hand of the Father. He, who through His Son, has called me by His Holy Spirit to be a son of God, member of the body of Christ, and brother to those of the same blood. Saved by the blood of God. Handed the highest priced of all boons: His Grace.

All praise and honor and glory are due Him. This is my highest call as the…

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Enjoying My Fellowship With God #1

Re-reading a classic by the great Bible teacher Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer…”He That Is Spiritual.” Reflecting on the following from Romans 8:16, ”The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God,” Sperry wrote… “By this particular manifestation of the Spirit, unseen things become blessedly real. There is such a thing as “ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” Truth must become real to us. We may know by faith that we are forgiven and justified forever: it is quite another thing to have a heart experience in which all is as real as it is true. We may believe in our security and coming glory: it is different to feel its power in the heart. We may believe in “things to come” through the exact teaching of the Word: it is a precious experience to have it made actual to us by the Spirit that “the Lord is at hand,” and that our eternal glory with him may be but a moment removed. Such heart experience is provided in the boundless grace of God for each of his children: but only those who abide in him can know this ecstasy of life.”

Sperry’s entire book is dedicated to helping us experience close, personal fellowship with God. I love him for it. After all once Jesus ascended into heaven, fellowship with God was different. However—and this is a very big, substantial, and vital “however”it was not less real. The Apostle John wrote in the first four verses of his first letter (First John): “This is what we proclaim to you: what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched (concerning the word of life—and the life was revealed, and we have seen and testify and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us). What we have seen and heard we announce to you too, so that you may have fellowship with us (and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ). Thus we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Wow! We need to go on in First John to learn the “what and how” of this, but still, WOW! The apostle’s point could not be more evident. Even after the ascension, his fellowship with God remained intact. Different perhaps, but no less tangible…no less real. What’s more, every believer can have such intimate fellowship with God. If every moment of the rest of my life is spent walking in this truth and helping others to do the same, I will smile nightly as I fall asleep.

All Is Well

Christmas! Every year it rolls around and every year I feel its compelling pull.

Come see!

Come hear!

Come kneel!

Come pray!

Come worship!

Come receive!

And every year memorable moments are used by the Savior to remind me that all is well with my soul, because all is always well with my Lord.

Tonight it was hearing the below performance by Carrie Underwood and Michael. W. Smith. Listen as they take you to the thrown.

 

 

Yesterday

Yesterday, November 10th, marked the 35th anniversary of my wedding day. I spent the day in much contemplation. I thanked my Savior for so much. I thanked him for Vanita. I thanked him for our children. I thanked him for our grandchildren. I thanked him for how two identities were made one…and I lamented that just under 20 of those years were given to us to be together.

I thanked God for our mission statement for life: to love our Lord, one another, and our children more and more every day and to help as many as possible to do the same thing. I thanked God for our Bible training and the ministries we partnered in. I thanked him for the folks we helped along the way…and I lamented that I have been far less effective without her…but went back to praise and thanksgiving for allowing me to be no less impassioned.

Yesterday was equal parts sad and glad. I spent time in tears and many smiles. Some memories crushed me only to be removed with others that made my heart soar. I found myself asking “why” yet again and again only to hear the word of God hidden away in my heart provide an answer for every question.

Yesterday…yesterday was like all my other days…just more intense. This is a part of God’s answer for adversity, anguish, and agony. He doesn’t always promise to remove our agony or anguish. He doesn’t even promise to always remove our adversity. He does, however, always promise to be the joy, the peace, the hope, and the wisdom to accompany and carry us while all that hurt helps us learn to be sympathetic and compassionate toward others. His presence and the purpose we receive from him is the answer we’re looking for when we keep asking “why.”

The Apostle Paul learned this when he asked over and over and over again, “Lord, please remove this thorn in my flesh.” There may be debate on just what he referred to with the phrase “thorn in my flesh,” but there is no debate about what the Lord told him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” In my weakness the power of God takes over, because his grace is sufficient. (Read Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 12.)

Yesterday, like every day, I found this to be self-evident. There were yesterdays when this was not so…not because it wasn’t true, but because I had not come to terms with it. Perhaps you know just exactly what I mean. You’re feeling the thorn in your flesh, asking why, begging that it will be excised, waiting, waiting for it to go away. It doesn’t. You ask “why” yet again. Then again. And while you wait for a promise you think God made, but didn’t, you miss “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Think about this for a while. When God translates your pain for his glory he also translates your pain for the benefit of so many others. Ultimately, you want people around who not only endure, but thrive when life is difficult. From Moms who do without so their children can eat to Mother Teresa who invited poverty so others could live, people who finally get the sufficiency of God’s grace are filled with joy even though they remain haunted with sorrow…are filled with peace even though they remain shadowed by turmoil…are filled with hope even though they remain showered in tears.

Soldiers tempered by battle, victims motivated despite violence, lovers rewired in widowhood, patients inspired through illness, these are folks who have learned just a little of what our Lord Jesus showed us when he too faced adversity, anguish, and agony. Contemplating the Cross, he expressed these words to the Father when he prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Walking in dependence upon and in fellowship with his Father was not just the way, it was the best way…for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for you, for me, for everyone. Walking in dependence upon and in fellowship with God is not just an answer, it’s a far better by far answer to adversity, anguish, and agony…for God’s glory, your benefit, and mine.

Yesterday…yesterday was awesome.

 

Funny Little Moments with God

If you are a fortunate child, you will have a Dad like my nephew Jeff Camp. He recently posted the following on his Facebook page:

Funny little “Mckoy moments”…

Me: I guess your stuffed animals stay awake while you sleep and protect you.

Mckoy: God is the only one who protects me while I’m sleeping

Me: I know…I was just joking

Mckoy: well, dad, you shouldn’t joke about stuff like that

Me: ………..

If I was to rewrite this, the changes would be simple yet profound. I would add a line at the top and a line at the bottom. The perspective then would change from Jeff’s to God’s.

God: Funny little “Jeff moments”…

Jeff: Funny little “Mckoy moments”…

Jeff: I guess your stuffed animals stay awake while you sleep and protect you.

Mckoy: God is the only one who protects me while I’m sleeping

Jeff: I know…I was just joking

Mckoy: well, dad, you shouldn’t joke about stuff like that

Jeff: ………..

God: Thank you son for leading McKoy, both my child and yours, so very, very well…

Another Antidote for Adversity: Grace in a V.A. Hospital

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So yesterday I had the privilege of taking my 90 year old Dad to the VA Hospital at American Lake near Tacoma, WA. No worries, it was just for his regular visit with Dr. Allen and an annual visit with the lab. It’s what always seems to happen there that keeps me encouraged.

While waiting to see the lab techs, another vet walked in. We both said hi. He asked me, “How you doing?” 

“Fine,” I answered. “And how are you,” I asked.

“I am blessed. I woke up this morning. For that I am grateful,” he replied.

He sat down. Some small talk took place. Then he began to share. I won’t give you the details. It would take too long. However, a few points are necessary for what’s coming next. His wife left him (he reported this with no anger or animosity). He lost his home in the settlement (again his attitude was one of “she needs it more than me”). He is currently homeless (but trying to get back on his feet). To say the least, I was moved.

While we continued chatting another vet walked in. He shuffled toward an empty chair to sit, but not before shaking all our hands and asking each of us personally, “And how are you doing?” After taking a seat, he breathed out deeply “Whew.”

The other vet asked, “So how about you? Hanging in there?”

“Trying,” the other said, “but I need another $40.00 by the end of the day for rent or I’m out for good.”

The first fella I was talking with quickly asked, “And are you positive your landlord will be satisfied with the $40.00?”

The other vet answered, “That’s what he told me. I think I can trust him.”

And out came the other vet’s wallet. I watched and observed. He pulled two twenty dollar bills…leaving what looked to be three ones behind. He reached across the small waiting room to offer the money to his fellow warrior. The other’s response? “No, I can’t do that. I know you need it just as much as I do.”

He was met with, “No, I insist. Please, I don’t mean to offend you, but you have a deadline.”

The other received the gift graciously. He then asked, “How do I repay you?”

The response was beautiful, “Pay it forward, brother, pay it forward.”

And then came church. We celebrated. The vet who received the gift quoted scripture. The one who gave responded, “Amen! You know He is good.”

I too said, “Amen.”

There was more testimony. The rejoicing continued.

Finally, a nurse came into the room. She said, “Mr. ______________. Is Mr. ______________ here?”

The vet who had received the gift stood. Without ceremony, he followed the nurse down the hall. The vet who gave the gift went back to filling out paper work. I read a brochure. My Dad sat quietly. A few moments later a lady asked “Mr. Brooks?” We stood up. We followed her to Dad’s exam room.

This seems to be a regular occurance for our trips to the VA Center. Last year, after returning home from a visit with Dad’s docs, I shared the following on Facebook (August 23, 2013):

Today was a lesson in the art of soft-spoken tender warrior-ese. While helping my 89 year old father at the VA Hospital, I was privileged to have a conversation with a highly decorated vet. 82nd Airborne. Ranger. Recondo. Pathfinder. Multiple combat deployments. There was no brag, just simple facts offered only because I asked. His voice was soft and gentle. His disposition indicated no pain or regret. He was well-spoken and equally polite. He had been waiting in line for over two hours and was still waiting when my Dad and I left. Both his words and his attitude said, “It was an honor and a privilege.” He was a man, sir, a man. Yes, his body was broken, mended, broken again, twisted, and mended yet again…at least as much as the Army Medical Core could fix…a six two frame reduced to a shadow of its youth, but a king-size heart bursting and filling the halls, waiting rooms, offices, and exam rooms of a soldier’s sanctuary. Thank you VA Hospital for a college level education in humanity by a professor of life, battle, and grace all in the space of a Friday morning.

I’ve been learning something through these visits. Adversity is usual. It’s common. It’s every day. You might just as well get used to it. It’s either already arrived or it’s on the way. However, that’s only half of what I’ve been seeing through the eyes of wounded warriors. The other half is far more spectacular. It’s one of those surprising antidotes that begins to sooth the pain of adversity. It’s called giving. Grace.

When adversity slaps us around, we sometimes need to go with it. Let the slap propel you. Let it turn you. Let it motivate you to come full circle. And as you come back around have your hand extended, not to receive, but to give. Hear that wounded warrior’s answer, “No, I insist. Please, I don’t mean to offend you, but you have a deadline.” Give yourself away…even if the giving also hurts. 

No wonder our Lord Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Looking For Some Help Regarding Adversity

So, this time around it’s not my thoughts I want to share. Instead, I want to ask a question and a follow up question. While I have my own tendencies regarding the question, I’m interested in hearing back from pastors and other leaders. Here it is:

When folks facing adversity come to you for help, where in the Bible do you turn?

And how do you help them to apply that passage?

Thanks.

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