Saturday, October 28, 2006

How Jesus came to Mahesh Chavda

A while ago we were, in blogland, passing around conversion stories – the stories of how people have met Jesus. I love hearing these and am always on the lookout for more. Last week as I was browsing in our church library I came across the book Only Love Can Make a Miracle - the Mahesh Chavda Story. In it, Chavda tells the story of how he came to Jesus, or really, how Jesus came to him. The story below, is retold in my own words from that book, with quotes from the original. (Italic emphases are in the original)


Mahesh Chavda’s search for truth began with the Hindu faith. This is not surprising since he was born (in 1946) to devout Hindus. His father and mother, Keshavlal and Laxmiben Chavda, were members of the princely Rajput caste. His father was a well-known and -loved figure in Mombasa, Kenya, where he was a civil servant in the British colonial government. After his father died, when Mahesh was only five, his mother continued his training by modeling a life of Hindu devotion and opening their home to traveling holy men.

Mahesh’s early life was characterized by a love of reading. He would rather read than play football or join in holiday festivities.
He was also consumed with the search for truth. Even as a youth, unlike other boys his age, he visited the Hindu temple three times a week to burn incense, bow to the images and talk to the priests. However, he soon began to question the truth of Hinduism’s teachings. He was especially disillusioned by the hypocrisy he saw in the lives of the holy men who visited their home. One day, when he was thirteen, he knew he had had enough. As he walked out of the temple that day, he knew it was for the last time.

“God,” he prayed, “I believe you exist. Every ounce of my being is telling me that you are real, that you are out there somewhere. But you are not in that temple. I am never going back in there again. I want to find you – but where?”

Some years passed. One day when he was about sixteen, his seven-year-old niece Rajesh came to the door of his home. With her was a pale-skinned woman. Because of the heat, the woman needed a drink of water. After Mahesh had brought her one, she introduced herself as Sid Pierce. She told him she was holding children’s street meetings and Rajesh had come to listen. She also said that she was a missionary and began talking about the Christian faith.

Mahesh, resenting that she was starting to preach to him, answered her questions politely but evasively. Soon she rose to leave. But before she left, she fished a book out of her bag and handed it to him. “If you are seeking truth,” she said, “you will find it in this book.”

Mahesh began reading the book she had given him, the New Testament (New English Bible), in Matthew. He quickly became fascinated with Jesus and the way his life was different from the lives of the priests he’d observed. As he read on, he was especially mesmerized by the book of John – noting the many times Jesus claimed to be God and identified himself with truth. Mahesh sensed a powerful pull inside to accept this Jesus.

At the same time, there was resistance. What about everything in his life to this point – his proud Rajput ancestry, the years spent studying the Hindu scriptures and living by its tenets. In some way his identity was all bound up in Hinduism. How could he ever give up all these things that were such a part of himself?

The battle went on as he, completely fascinated by Jesus, never got past the Gospels but read and reread them. Finally one day, tired of the struggle, he decided he couldn’t live like this any longer. It was time to make a decision one way or another.

He was sitting at his desk late that night, wrapped in his bed sheet except for his eyes, to keep mosquitoes from biting. He was reading his Bible as he usually did. Now he closed the book and, in his own words:

“No more,” I said to myself. “Enough is enough. I am never going to think about Jesus Christ again. I am never going to read this book again. My mind is made up”

And that was that.

Or so I thought.

The next thing I knew, I heard my head hit the desk. I mean I literally heard it, as if it were happening to someone else. Bang. I seemed to be in a sort of half-sleep, no longer fully awake and in control, but aware of what was going on. I remember hearing the noise and thinking to myself “That’s my head, hitting the desk.”

I immediately found myself in a strange and wonderful place. My body was still there at the desk, but in my spirit I was somewhere different, somewhere wonderful, somewhere I had never been before. The thought came into my consciousness, very simply and clearly, “I am in heaven.”

Then Mahesh describes what he saw – streets of transparent gold, grass as thick as a blanket, colors more vivid than any he had ever seen, music that he experienced more than felt.
I felt I was home. This was where I wanted to be, where I was supposed to be. This was why I had been created.
Then he became aware of a brilliant white light coming toward him. Within that light was a man. He sensed immediately that this was Jesus – even though he had never seen any pictures of him. And though he looked like an ordinary man and walked like an ordinary man, he was so brilliant Mahesh could hardly bear to look at him. Again, in his own words:
As he came closer to me, I could see that he was smiling. It was the same kind of smile you see on the face of a mother or father when they pick up their little baby, a smile of utter love and delight.

[...] Then, as I stood there gazing into his eyes, he stretched out his hand and placed it on my shoulder and said to me simply, “My little brother.”

As suddenly as it had begun, it ended. I was once again on the second floor of my house with my bed sheet drawn around my face and my head resting on my Bible – but something strange had happened. When all this had started, when my head had fallen forward onto the desk, my Bible had been closed. I had just made a decision never to open it again. Now, however, it was open. I looked down and saw that it was opened to chapter eighteen of Luke’s Gospel, the story of the rich young ruler.

[...] I knew how the story ended. The young man had turned away from Jesus with inexpressible sadness in his heart because he could not bring himself to pay the price of becoming Jesus’ disciple.

I heard a voice within say to me, “Are you going to turn away from me the same way he did?”

I said, “No sir.”

Then I did something that, to my knowledge, no ancestor of mine had ever done, that no one in all the eight hundred years of our family history could even have imagined doing. I got down on my knees and said, “Jesus, I’m sorry. Please forgive me for all the wrong things I’ve done. I want you. I want to give my life to you. Please come and live in my heart.”

Mahesh Chavda was true to his commitment to follow Jesus. Today he and his wife Bonnie pastor All Nations Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. As a result of their international teaching and evangelism ministry over 750,000 people have come to Jesus.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

High Praise

Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
and a two-edged sword in their hand.
Psalm 149:6

A Prayer of High Praise

Our Father in Heaven
Hallowed be Your name

I am the Alpha and the Omega
The Beginning and the End
Who is and who was and who is to come,
The Almighty.
I am the Alpha and the Omega,
The First and the Last.
I am He who lives and was dead
And behold I am alive forevermore. Amen.
And I have the keys of Hades and Death.
The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness,
The Beginning of the creation of God.
The Lord, the Lord God,
Merciful and gracious, longsuffering,
and abounding in goodness and truth,
Keeping mercy for thousands,
forgiving iniquity and sin.
Holy, holy, holy
Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come.

Your Kingdom come.
O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven
And do You not rule over all the Kingdoms of the nations,
And in Your hand is there not power and might
So that no one is able to withstand You?
Then to Him (the Ancient of Days),
Was given dominion and glory and a kingdom
That all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom
And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.
Lift up your heads O you gates!
And be lifted up you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory.
Blessed are You Lord God of Israel
Our Father forever and ever.
Yours O Lord is the greatness
The power and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord
And You are exalted as head over all.
Both riches and honor come from You
And You reign over all.
In Your hand is power and might;
In your hand it is to make great
And to give strength to all.
Now therefore Our God,
We thank You and praise Your glorious name.
We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty
The One who is and who was and who is to come,
Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.

Your will be done on earth.
You are worthy O Lord
to receive glory and honor and power
for You created all things
and by Your will they exist and were created.
My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior
For He who is mighty has done great things
And holy is His name.
No one is like the Lord,
For there is none besides You,
Nor is there any rock like our God.
The Lord kills and makes alive;
He brings down to the grave and brings up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
He brings low and lifts up.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s
And He has set the world upon them.
I will sing to the Lord
For He has triumphed gloriously
The Lord is my strength and song
And He has become my salvation;
He is my God and I will praise Him;
My Father’s God and I will exalt Him.
Your right hand, O Lord has become glorious in power;
Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces
And in the greatness of Your excellence
You have overthrown those who rose against You.
Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like You, glorious in holiness,
Fearful in praises, doing wonders?
You in Your mercy have led forth
The people whom You have redeemed
You have guided them in Your strength
To Your holy habitation
The Lord shall reign forever and ever.
Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the Saints.
Who shall not fear You O Lord,
And glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy,
For all nations shall come and worship before You.
For Your judgements have been manifested.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory.

Your will be done . . . as it is in heaven.
Behold heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!
Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne
And to the Lamb forever and ever!
To God our Savior
Who alone is wise
Be glory and majesty
Dominion and power
Both now and forever

For Yours is the kingdom
And the power and the glory forever
Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might
Be to our God forever and ever

Scripture References (quoted from the NKJV - in order of appearance):

Part 1: Matthew 6:9; Revelation 1:8,11, 18; Revelation 3:14; Exodus 34:6,7; Revelation 4:8

Part 2: Matthew 6:10; 2 Chronicles 20:6,7 (King Jehoshaphat's prayer); Daniel 7: 14, 27; Psalm 24:7-10; 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 (King David's prayer); Revelation 11:17

Part 3: Matthew 6:11; Revelation 4:11; Luke 1:46, 47, 49 (Mary's song); 1 Samuel 2:2, 6, 8-10 (Hannah's prayer); Exodus 15:1,2,6,7,11,13,18 (Moses' song); Revelation 15:3,4; Isaiah 6:3

Part 4: Matthew 6:11; 2 Chronicles 6:18; Revelation 5:12,13; Jude 25;

Part 5: Matthew 6:13; Revelation 7:12

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

His name shines out

"They were living to themselves; self with its hopes, and promises and dreams still had hold of them; but the Lord began to fulfill their prayers. They had asked for contrition, and had surrendered for it to be given them at any cost, and He sent them sorrow; they had asked for purity, and He sent them thrilling anguish; they had asked to be meek and He had broken their hearts; they had asked to be dead to the world, and He slew all their living hopes; they had asked to be made like unto Him and He placed them in the furnace, sitting by “as a refiner and purifier of silver,” until they should reflect His image’ they had asked to lay hold of His cross, and when He had reached it to them it lacerated their hands.

"[...] But now at last their turn has come. Before, they had only heard of the mystery, but now they feel it. He has fastened on them His look of love, as He did on Mary and Peter, and they can but choose to follow.

"Little by little, from time to time, by flitting gleams, the mystery of His cross shines out upon them. They behold Him lifted up, they gaze on the glory which rays from the wounds of His holy passion; and as they gaze they advance, and are changed into His likeness, and His name shines out through them, for He dwells in them. They live alone with Him above, in unspeakable fellowship; willing to lack what others own (and what they might have had), and to be unlike all, so that they are only like Him.

"Such are they in all ages, 'who follow the lamb withersover He goeth.'"

– Anonymous, from Streams in the Desert

Thursday, September 28, 2006

How to Try the Spirits

(Extracts from an essay by A. W. Tozer)

There are large numbers of persons who have not left the true way but who want a rule by which they can test everything and by which they may prove the quality of Christian teaching and experience...Briefly stated the test is this:

How has it affected my attitude toward and my relation to God, Christ, the Holy Scriptures, self, other Christians, the world and sin.

By this sevenfold test we may prove everything religious and know beyond a doubt whether it is of God or not.

1. God
The health and balance of the universe require that God should be magnified in all things.

[...]The big test is, What has this done to my relationship to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? If this new view of truth – this new encounter with spiritual things – has made me love God more, if it has magnified Him in my eyes, if it has purified my concept of His being and caused Him to appear more wonderful than before, then I may conclude that I have not wandered astray into the pleasant but dangerous and forbidden paths of error.

2. Jesus Christ

Whatever place present-day religion may give to Christ, God gives Him top place in earth and in heaven (verses cited: Acts 2:36, 4:12)

[...] He must stand at the center of all true doctrine, all acceptable practice, all genuine Christian experience. Anything that makes Him less than God has declared Him to be is delusion pure and simple and must be rejected, no matter how delightful or how satisfying it may for the time seem to be.

[...] If the new experience tends to make Christ indispensable, if it takes our interest off our feeling and places it in Christ, we are on the right track. Whatever makes Christ dear to us is pretty sure to be from God.

3. Holy Scriptures

Did this new experience, this new view of truth, spring out of the Word of God itself or was it the result of some stimulus that lay outside the Bible?

[...] Whatever is new or singular should also be viewed with a lot of caution until it can furnish scriptural proof of its validity.

[...] What does it do to my love for and appreciation of the Scriptures?

While true power lies not in the letter of the text but in the Spirit that inspired it, we should never underestimate the value of the letter.

[...] If the new doctrine, the influence of that new teacher, the new emotional experience fills my heart with an avid hunger to meditate in the Scriptures day and night, I have every reason to believe that God has spoken to my soul and that my experience is genuine..

4. Self Life

Before the Spirit of God can work creatively in our hearts He must condemn and slay the “flesh” within us; that is, He must have our full consent to displace our natural self with the Person of Christ.

[...] A good rule is this: If this experience has served to humble me and make me little and vile in my own eyes, it is of God; but if it has given me a feeling of self-satisfaction, it is false and should be dismissed as emanating from self or the devil. Nothing that comes from God will minister to my pride or self-congratulation.

5. Fellow Christians

Any religious experience that fails to deepen our love for our fellow Christians may safely be written off as spurious.

[...] we conclude that whatever tends to separate us in person or in heart from our fellow Christians is not of God, but is of the flesh or of the devil. And conversely, whatever causes us to love the children of God is likely to be of God. (John 13:35)

6. The World

(The definition of the world he refers to here is from 1 John 2:16,17)

This is the world by which we may test the spirits. It is the world of carnal enjoyments, of godless pleasures, of the pursuit of earthly riches and reputation and sinful happiness. It carries on without Christ, following the counsel of the ungodly and being animated by the prince of the power of the air....

Any real work of God in our heart will tend to unfit is for the world’s fellowship... It may be stated unequivocally that any spirit that permits compromise with the world is a false spirit. Any religious movement that imitates the world in any of its manifestations is false to the cross of Christ and on the side of the devil – and this regardless of how much purring its leaders may do about “accepting Christ” or “letting God run your business.”

7. Attitude toward sin

The operation of grace within the heart of a believing man will turn that heart away from sin and toward holiness.

[...] Anything that weakens his hatred of sin may be identified immediately as false to the Scriptures or to the Savior and to his own soul. Whatever makes holiness more attractive and sin more intolerable may be accepted as genuine.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Learning to trust

"God had to bring Abraham to the end of his own strength and to let him see that in his own body he could do nothing. He had to consider his own body as good as dead, and then take God, for the whole work; and when he looked away from himself, and trusted God alone, then he became fully persuaded that what He had promised, He was able to perform. That is what God is teaching us, and He has to keep away encouraging results until we learn to trust without them, and then He loves to make His Word real in fact as well as faith."

A. B. Simpson, quoted in Streams in the Desert (emphasis mine)

Sunday, August 27, 2006


I have chosen the way of truth - Psalm 119:30

chose = bachar (Strong’s 977)

To choose, select, elect, determine to have one in particular. The kind of choosing that is made when more than one item is examined, with only one or a few being selected.

(New Spirit Filled Life Bible 'Word Wealth' sidebar - ref. 1 Kings 11:40 - where the Ahijah is prophesying about the fate of David’s line uses this word to describe how David came to be king: “My servant David whom I chose because he kept My commandments and My statutes.”)

In Psalm 119, the psalmist declares he has chosen the way of truth (versus, for example, the way of error, or laziness, or prestige, or wealth, or ambition, or any number of other paths).

I too have many many choices: How do I spend my work time? How do I shop? How do I spend money generally? How do I keep my house? How do I respond to needs and requests for prayer? How do I spend leisure? Even the decision to do nothing is a choice.

I make many resolutions to do better – to memorize more Scripture, to pray more and with greater focus, to play the piano again, to spend less time in mindless but unproductive activities like watching TV, to generally to be more intentional and less carried away by the whim of the moment.

Of course there are times when circumstances take over – family crises come up, kids marry, people die, babies are born. One doesn’t dwell long on what is the right choice in these situations.

But there are also tracts of time not hijacked in this way. Such is the case for me at the moment. I am in a time of serenity. However, I sense that now as much as ever is the time to make right choices – to go beyond putting an item on a list and get to the actual doing of it.

Beware of not acting upon what you see in your moments on the mount with God. If you do not obey the light, it will turn into darkness.

Oswald Chambers - My Utmost for His Highest

A good piece on choices at Wittingshire - Choices and the Devil Wears Prada.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

When thou goest thy way shall be opened up before thee step by step - Proverbs 4:12 - free translation.

The Lord never builds a bridge of faith except under the feet of the faith-filled traveler. If He builds the bridge a rod ahead, it would not be a bridge of faith. That which is of sight is not of faith.

There is a self-opening gate which is sometimes used in country roads. It stands fast and firm across the road as a traveler approaches it. If he stops before he gets to it, it will not open. But if he will drive right at it, his wagon wheels press the springs below the roadway, and the gate swings back to let him through. He must push right on at the closed gate, or it will continue to be closed.

This illustrates the way to pass every barrier on the road of duty. Whether it is a river, a gate or a mountain, all the child of Jesus has to do is to go for it. If it is a river, it will dry up when you put your feet in its waters. If it is a gate, pit will fly open when you are near enough to it, and are still pushing on. If it is a mountain, it will be lifted up and cast into a sea when you come squarely up, without flinching, to where you thought it was.

Is there a great barrier across your path of duty just now? Just go for it, in the name of the Lord, and it won’t be there.

– Henry Clay Trumbull (quoted in Streams in the Desert)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dry Dock

The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed. A refuge in times of trouble.
- Psalm 9:9

Monday, May 29, 2006

So done with my agendas

In reading through Acts I’ve met Philip, Ananias and now Peter (Acts 10) whose flexibility is a rebuke to me. I like to know things ahead, to have a plan, to organize my days. I’m not big on spontaneity (or rather, the spontaneity I’m big on is surprise diversions of thought; I prefer to keep my days predictable so creativity can flourish in odd places like writing projects – at least that’s what I tell myself).

But God didn’t encourage these early Christians in that kind of control over their lives. He kept breaking in with interruptions:

Philip, leave the meeting with hundreds. I have a job for you on the backside of the desert.

Ananias, time to break out of your routine with a visit to Straight Street. There, by the way, you’ll meet the infamous Saul. Scared? Trust me.

Peter, forsake your itinerary for a few days and go to Gentile Cornelius.

I’m sensing God wants the same kind of turn-on-a-dime obedience from us – from me. His agenda, not mine. His agenda means being at His beck and call all day long, that beck and call coming through knocks on the door, telephone calls, emails... Or, if no interruptions present themselves, to faithfully work at the tasks already assigned, even if it’s just staying by the boring stuff.

“Many of us are after our own ends. And Jesus Christ cannot help Himself to our lives. If we are abandoned to Jesus, we have no ends of our own to serve.”
- Oswald Chambers

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Living light

Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Arise and go toward the South along the road which goes down from Jerusalem from Gaza...” (Acts 8:26)

Philip wasn’t being sent from being a main speaker in the Samaritan revival to a holiday destination. The passage above continues, “This is desert.”

But we hear no demur on Philip’s part. No, “But I'm being used here ..." Just, "So he arose and went," without any further explanation from the angel about why or exactly where.

He got that when he reached the desert and saw and chariot with its Ethiopian passenger. Then the Spirit whispered, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”

From that point Philip was on his own again in that he had to run to catch up, then use his intellect, experience and common sense to figure out what was the man’s spiritual need and how could he address it.

But from God’s point of view, the situation was puzzle pieces fitting together. This black official of Candace’s court was interested in spiritual things, had just made a trip to Jerusalem to worship God and was engrossed in and mulling over the prophetic writings of Isaiah. Philip is the perfect one to explain things to him. Even more important, he's a 'yes-man'!

Philip takes a sum of the situation and wastes no time explaining the Gospel to the man. He accepts it to the extent of requesting baptism at the sight of the first sizeable puddle.

Then Philip’s work with him is done. After the baptism “...the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so the eunuch saw him no more and he went on his way rejoicing.”

I’ll bet. And I would think Philip felt the same joyful. Because if there is any feeling on earth as wonderful as realizing that the God of the universe cares enough about little me to answer the question of my heart, it’s when God uses me to be part of that answer – whether to many, or one.

Such unselfconscious asking (and getting), such care-less obeying (knowing that sometimes obeying means not being whisked away; sometimes it means sticking with the already-given assignment and faithfully doing the day’s duties without any visible sign that heaven is involved) is, I think, part of what Jesus meant when He said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Spirit's witness

Ananias and Sapphira are the couple whose slick plan was to sell their property, hold back some of the payment from it for themselves and bring the remainder to the common pot. By that action they hoped to give the impression that they’d given the whole amount – like others were doing. Their sin was not in holding back some for themselves, but in trying to give a false impression. In that lie they hoped, with their supposed generosity, to earn similar praise that others had earned (envy) and to advance their own reputations (self-seeking).

This story pricks me. I sense in myself too, actions that arise from envy and self-seeking. If God struck me dead for every time... oh my. God’s opinion of these things is spelled out in James 3:13-16:

But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.
This wisdom does not descend from above but is sensual, demonic.
For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

However, we live in an atmosphere of discontent, covetousness, manipulation. The economic engines of our society run largely on envy (isn’t it the psychology behind most advertising?). Self-seeking is regularly cloaked in an appeal to common sense or common practice. As a product of my environment, my mind is clever at manufacturing rationalizations for why I should take matters into my own hands to get what I want: Of course one has to be a big cagey to make one’s way in the world. Everybody gets ahead that way...

But if we are truly Christ’s and citizens of His kingdom, His Spirit will trouble ours when we begin to walk down this path. A. W. Tozer says:

When there is a divine act within the soul there will always be a corresponding awareness... God waits to assure us that we are His children in a manner that eliminates the possibility of error, that is, by the inner witness.

- A. W. Tozer in Born After Midnight

I would say, by experience, that this inner witness not only assures me that I’ve met God in the first place, but is an irritant to my spirit – like the feeling of a splinter in the skin – when I respond to these or any temptations by sinning. It means I’d better spend some time with Him, deal with that splinter, and again leave the satisfaction of my needs, physical or psychological, in His hands.

It’s easy to think God was harsh when He struck down these two so suddenly and with no second chance. But I wouldn’t be the least surprised, if we knew Ananais and Sapphira’s back-story, we’d discover that they’d been given the witness of the Spirit about this sort of thing before, and ignored it. May I not be so callous.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Cut to the heart

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37

Not only do spoken words cut to the heart, but written ones have the same potential. One of the things that drew me to writing was the powerful impact the writing of others has had on my life. I remember even as an adolescent, lying in bed with a book – the journals of Jim Elliott for example – and feeling exposed, convicted, cut.

What a miracle – that God can speak through words on a page or a computer screen, sometimes years after they have been written, continents away, and through them bring a sense of my own unworthiness, a knowledge of His presence, the impression that He is breathing on my life, infusing my heart with faith and hope like air fills lungs.

This is not something we people engineer. Rather, it is a Spirit-wind thing: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8). The Spirit indwells the writer. Deep calls to deep in the reader.

Lord, please use my life, my words to ‘cut to the heart.’

Friday, May 12, 2006

Holiness to the Lord

My last day of typing will be dictated today. I am coming to the end of an era of my life. After tomorrow’s typing I will be officially retired from medical transcription.

I am also coming to the end of the minor prophets. How apropos – this convergence of endings.

Today in my Zechariah reading, this jumped out at me:

In that day Holiness to the Lord shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the Lord of Hosts... (Zechariah 14:20,21 - emphasis mine)

Though I need to research the historic and cultural significance of the ‘bells of the horses’ what this passage says to me is God accepts, no wants, every little thing – even the most insignificant of things like the bells on the horses and the kitchen pots – as things set apart for Him.

And what rises in my heart is a desire for this to be the motto of my retirement: Holiness – set apart – to the Lord! What a grand thought. These days are so often considered selfishly - at last a bit of time for ‘me,’ time to indulge myself, travel, do the things I’ve always dreamed of doing...

But no. Now that the kids are gone, the pace is slower, but energy and vision are still strong – I want this time to be His beck and call. Like Phillip. He had all the time in the world to go on errands for the Holy Spirit, to take a trip to the desert to talk to the Ethiopian seeker, and then be swept away again to another place and another assignment. Or not. Because I’m sure that lots of my time will be spent right here, in my yard puttering in the garden, in this house, organizing and downsizing our stuff, or at this computer working on the assignment I’ve already been given, but have not had the time to complete.

Whatever it means, God please engrave 'Holiness to the Lord,' not only on my possessions, but on my heart.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Jesus in Zechariah

After my Lent journey through the Gospels, I’ve been back in the minor prophets. This is the last lap in my trip through the Old Testament, which I started a long time ago.

I find the minor prophets hard slogging, especially in this time of family stress when what I feel like reading is comforting, soft, grace- and mercy-filled words But then, tucked in amongst the list of sins, indictments, judgements and pronouncements of doom are sweet surprises – familiar words that others have recognized, pulled out and made famous.

Here are such words from Zechariah:

Behold your King is coming to you
He is just and having salvation
Lowly and riding on a donkey
A colt, the foal of a donkey

This is the prophecy Jesus fulfilled on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

...His dominion shall be from sea to sea
And from the River to the ends of the earth...”

These words are engraved on the parliament buildings in Ottawa.

12:10 And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced...

The Holy Spirit is active here. It is from Him we receive the spirit of grace, the urge to pray and the knowledge of how to do it. It is from Him that we get the notion to look to Jesus.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Glory Cloud

Ezekiel 10:4-18
"Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim."

Heartbreaking words - the ‘glory departed.’ It speaks to me of the fact that there are limits to God’s patience. He does not carry us mindlessly on in things that are not of Him, or lend His approval.

When the glory departs, the blessing departs; the shine, the feeling of well-being, the knowledge God is in it and it will have some eternal value. The protection is gone. The help of God’s hand to give blessing and prosperity. That ability to gain favor with the influential and powerful.

Ezekiel 43:1-5
A description of God’s glory entering the temple of Ezekiel’s vision. It brings to mind other ‘glory of the Lord’ passages. For example when the glory filled the actual temple of Solomon (1 Kings 8:10,11), and before that when His glory was in the cloud of fire that went before the Israelites and then entered the tabernacle and was evident on Moses’ face. It also came down on the mountain of transfiguration, then shone around the tomb at the resurrection, blinded Saul, is now in heaven.

This "glory" - what is it? The palpable presence of God in light and radiance? The power of thousands of volts of electricity, so that people can’t stand upright? A whiteness and cleanness that exposes all sin, nauseates the sinner, fills him with self-revulsion and conviction?

I have never experienced this aspect of God. Do I really want to? Could I stand it? What is the price of knowing God in this way? Am I willing to pay it?

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Price

One morning God says to Ezekiel:

“Son of man, behold I take away from you the desire of your eyes with one stroke; yet you shall neither mourn nor weep, nor shall your tears run down...” (Ezekiel 24:16).

By evening his wife is dead. And he does all that God has said: refrains from all mourning customs, dresses and behaves as if nothing had happened. When the people come to him and ask why, his tells them what God has told him to say: Someday the “...delight of your soul (the temple) and your sons and daughters whom you left behind shall fall by the sword.” Then they are to remember his stoic response to this personal tragedy and follow his example.

In this matter (and in many others) Ezekiel and other prophets were a living flesh-and-blood, intellect-and-emotion object lesson of being completely – mind, soul, body, family, stuff – God’s possession. He had the rights to everything about them - their time, health, reputation, comfort, possessions, even loved ones.

I am amazed at such consecration. It’s easy to echo Isaiah’s words in response to God’s call: “Here am I, send me.” But to really live it!

Instead, a subtle but pervasive barter mentality has crept into our ‘sales pitch’ on surrender. We tell those who are holding on to tracts of the self-life (including ourselves) that if we give all to God, surrender every hope, ambition, and dream, eventually and inevitably we will get them all back. That God is honor-bound to come through for us in this life with the coming true of every dream, only better – sort of increased with interest.

That this type of thinking exists is proved by how devastated we are when God takes what we said we offer, and burns it to ashes.

What is the solution? It is the real and actual and conscious abandonment to God to the extent of the meat on the altar, the wine and grain and perfume poured out, without the secret hope of salvaging any of it: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Another picture of it is the corn of wheat falling into the ground to die.

This last picture brings me the most hope. For eventually (and it may not be till eternity) that corn does what it was created to do “...produces much grain.” Even Jesus was clear, though, that the harvest of this may not be gathered in life: “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:24,25).

And from observing nature we know that the form of the harvest from that seed may be utterly unrecognizable. Just as plants differ in appearance from their genesis seeds, so surprising may be the reality of our realized dreams – now or later.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Prayers for Canada

It’s two days away from the election. I’ve been watching the polls and, despite my better judgement, allowing myself to be buoyed or discouraged by them. Along with those come the proclamations of the pundits and the nightly collection of ‘news,’ stories –from clips of leaders’ speeches to the assertions of snubbed reporters: ‘If he’s not willing to meet with us, he obviously has something to hide’ –the sum of which can put one on a veritable emotional roller coaster.

In all this mix, though, I truly believe that spiritual forces are in a struggle over Canada and a larger plan is being played out. Like King Hezekiah spread Sennarcherib’s threatening letter before the Lord, prayed and gained courage from his faith in God’s ability to rescue him, we too must resist the temptation to put our confidence in polls, pundits or news stories and instead continue to pray for God to gain a great victory in Canada.

In this vein, our church has some “Prayer Guidelines and Resources” posted on its web site. Here are some of those:

Some Scriptures to read aloud:

Revelation 12: 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony...

2 Cor 10: 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Some prayers to pray:

1.) A Prayer for Pulling Down Strongholds (those major things that hold people captive, keeping them from Christ, or fighting against the gospel. There are many. The prayer below is a prayer against the stronghold of spiritual blindness and deception):

Pray this prayer:
“By the authority of the Name of Jesus, and by the power of the blood of the Lamb I pull down the strongholds of ‘Spiritual blindness and deception'. Strongholds over my family, you are pulled down, strongholds over my friends, you are pulled down, strongholds over this valley, you are pulled down! My weapons are mighty in God, by faith I proclaim ‘spiritual sight to the blind’ and ‘spiritual understanding’ to those who have been deceived by the enemy.”

2.) A Prayer for Casting Down Arguments ( “...casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” Unbelief is one – there are others):

Pray this prayer:
“By faith in the name of Jesus and by the authority of His Name, I cast down every argument of unbelief! Dark spirits of unbelief, you are cast down, the blood of Jesus is against you, the resurrection power of Jesus testifies against you. Every argument against the knowledge of God – in this moment, by my partnering with God in faith, you are cast down. I take up the shield of faith extinguishing arguments, I take the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, to banish every high sounding argument of unbelief – for ‘greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world!’.”

and finally

3) Pronounce Blessing over our Land!

Pray this payer:
“Now Lord, as Your kingdom ambassadors to this land, and by the authority of Your Name, I speak blessing over my land. I bless the marriages and families, I bless the schools, I bless the businesses, I bless the neighborhoods. Let this community be a place of safety, a place where justice and mercy run down. Lord, let this town be a place of peace, a place where people experience the restoration of all that sin has taken from them. Bless the agriculture, bless the industries. Lord Jesus, bless our children and our youth. For the glory of Your Name, we proclaim blessing over our land – ‘Your kingdom come, Lord, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’…. Amen! "

Monday, January 16, 2006

O Canada, we stand on guard...

We are one week away from the federal election. Our church usually sets aside the first week of the new year for fasting and prayer. This year, that week was switched from the first week of January to this week (January 15-21) – seeing as how our country is on the verge of making this important decision.

Yesterday out pastor spoke* on how to prepare oneself for a week like this.

He read Scriptures like Isaiah 55:6,7 and Leviticus 11:44 , Leviticus 20:7, Joshua 3:5,6 and Psalm 24 in which the people of Israel were called to consecrate themselves to seek the Lord.

He talked about the meaning of ‘consecration’ – and that it involves a devoting, a setting apart from that which is common and unclean.

He named three things which can hinder or keep us from this:
- Distraction
- Delay
- Discouragement

He suggested ways we sanctify ourselves for this type of focused intercession:
- by immersing ourselves in the Bible: John 17:17
- by guarding our relationships, especially marriage relationships: 1 Peter 3:7


Personally, I see this week, among other things, as a time of intercession – intercession for my family, my neighbors, my province, my nation, and the impending election.

When I think of intercession, I get three pictures.

The first is of Abraham, bargaining with the Lord over the fate of Sodom (Genesis 18:16-33).

The second is of Moses, holding up his arms as the Israelites battle the Amalekites. As long as his arms are raised, his people win. But when he gets tired and lowers them, the tide of battle goes against his people. Thus Aaron and Hur join him, standing alongside and holding up his arms (Exodus 16:8-16).

The third is the picture in Joel 2:17 of the ministering priests interceding for the people, weeping between the porch and altar of the temple. (The song “Holy Visitation” by Charlie Hall is based on this scripture: sung in
this clip by Rita Springer.)



Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Earlier this morning, immediately after I wrote this (to clear the air in my head), I read this. Any connection? Maybe, maybe not. But I do think that as Christians, we need to do our bit to articulate the drop-offs we see ahead on the road down which our country is headed.

I was brought up a good Mennonite girl believing that involvement in politics smudged my hands and was really for someone else. I’m not sure I’ve changed my mind about the dirty hands part – the way many politicians behave. But I do think Christians need to be seen and heard in the political arena in a variety of capacities. It’s all part of being salt, a city on a hill, a watchman*.

*watchman: tsaphah, Strong's 6822 - To look out, peer into the distance, spy, keep watch, to scope something out, especially in order to see approaching danger and warn those who are endangered

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