Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Utmost... Part 8

The following are excerpts I would like to highlight from the book Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God by David McCasland.

  • "Jesus Christ did not say: You will understand why the war has come - but: Do not be scared, do not be put in a panic."

  • "There is one thing worse than war, and that is sin. We get tremendously scared when our social order is broken up, and well we may. We get terrorized by hundreds of men being killed, but we forget there is something worse - sinful dastardly lives being lived day by day, year in and year out in our villages and towns... these are the things that produce pain in the heart of God, not the wars and the devestation that so upset us."

  • What we are is of much more use to God and our fellows than what we do.

  • "We are not called to be successful in accordance wtih ordinary standards, but in accordance with a corn of wheat falling into the ground and dying, becoming in that way what it never could be if it were to abide alone."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Utmost... Part 7

Continued meaningful excerpts from Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God by David McCasland.

  • [Speaking to a class at the Bible Training College] "All of you have intelligence," he told each class at the first meeting. "You have a marvellous, God-given capacity to reason and think... and you must use it for God."

  • "The reason why the average Christian worker is only the average Christian worker is that he or she will remain grossly ignorant about what he does not see any need for. The majority of us have been brought up on 'spooned meat.'" He continued, "We will only take the truths we see immediate practical use for, consequently the average Christian worker knows nothing about Bible Theology or Bible Psychology, and cannot therefore push the battle for God on any of those domains." Chambers stressed that an active mind was essential to a vital spiritual experience.

  • [Class tought by Chambers] Biblical Psychology: The Bible description and explanation of ourselves, as we are, and as we ought to be, and can be. (I am reading this book now in the Complete Works of Oswald Chambers. I love psychology anyway, so it's very interesting and insightful to me).

  • "The great enemy to the Lord Jesus Christ in the present day is the conception of practical work that has not come from the New Testament, but from the systems of the world in which endless energy and activities are insisted upon, but no private life with God."

  • "It is not its practical activities that are the strength of this Bible Training College, its whole strength lies in the fact that here you are put into soak before God. You have no idea of where God is going to engineer your circumstances, no knowledge of what strain is going to be put on you either at home or abroad, and if you waste your time in overactive energies instead of getting into soak on the great fundamental truths of God's Redemption, you will snap on the great fundamental truths of God's Redemption, you will snap when the strain comes; but if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in God on the unpractical line, you will remain true to Him whatever happens."

That last one is excellent. One of my favorite excerpts from the entire book. I hate to have to return this book but am glad to have these excerpts to keep with me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Utmost... Part 6

I said the other day that I could write an entire post on one thought from Oswald Chambers in the book Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God by David McCasland but so far I don't have the complete thought. So I will continue with the mentioned excerpt, along with others that taught me something or had some sort of special meaning.

  • There seems to me a strange lack of understanding of the supreme nobility of man viz. that of a character produced by realizing one's responsibility to God. Self-realization or self-annihilation seems the utmost reach of these great novelist. The Bible not of the realization of another self in life, that other self being God, is completely undetected.

  • "Let a teacher once get the set of the people off our Lord Jesus Christ to any sign or manifestations or power and he is deserving in this day of as severe and drastic rebuke as Peter gave Simon Magus (Acts 8:23). Character, not anything less, is the result and immediate stamp of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit and Fire."

  • God is not a fact of common sense but of revelation. God lives - evidenced to your heart when you abandoned your right to yourself and let Him take the rule.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What Would You Erase?

"...but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverence; and perseverence, character; and character, hope..." Romans 5:3-4

I heard a really good illustration today at church and wanted to share. It's from an article by John Ortberg titled "Don't Waste a Crisis." He wrote:

Imagine you're handed a script of your newborn baby's entire life. Better yet, you're given an eraser and five minutes to edit out whatever you want. You read that she will have a learning disability in grade school. Reading, which comes easily for some kids, will be laborious for her. In high school, she will make a great circle of friends, then one of them will die of cancer. After high school, she will get into her preferred college, but while there, she'll lose a leg in a car crash. Following that, she will go through a difficult depression. A few years later she'll get a great job, then lose that job in an economic downturn. She'll get married, but then go through the grief of separation.

With this script of your child's life before you and five minutes to edit, what would you erase?

Wow. The answers seem obvious and without the knowledge of a God who can see the bigger picture and the perseverance, character and hope being worked through each circumstance to draw this child to himself... I might choose to erase many or all of those trials. But to erase any part of the events above, might just take away the need for dependence on God and instead we may begin to rely on our own strength.

What would I erase? I might erase the day that my Grandma Neva was diagnosed with ALS. She wouldn't pass away a week before I was born. My mom would not be grieving the loss of her mother on the day she gave birth to me... my grandmother's first grandchild. I would get a chance to meet my Grandma Neva, who many people say I am a lot like.

I might erase the traumatic memories and images that remain with my dad and so many others who served in Vietnam to this day. I would erase the day he returned and the people spit in his face and called him a baby killer.

I might erase second grade when I never said a word to my teacher the entire year because I was afraid of her. I might erase all the comments highlighting how shy I was that lasted for many, many years.

I might erase June 4, 1995 when a masked gunman entered the bank where I was working and demanded money. I might erase the nightmares I had for years afterward.

I might erase the three and a half years I dated a guy who was not a Christian and was not always very nice to me. I would erase the fear in myself that put up with it.

I might erase my wedding day. I might erase the day it ended and all of the days in between.

I might erase the 22nd chromosome of my son who is missing genetic information that causes him to have severe developmental delays and replace it with one that is complete.

I might erase the time my youngest son had to spend in the NICU after he was born, hooked up to all kinds of tubes and wires as he battled a collapsed lung.

There are so many things I might erase. But the thing is, if I erased any of those things, I would not be person I am today. I don't know why I had to go through some of those things. I don't know why my family had to go through some of those things. For many of them, I may never know. But I do know that God has done an amazing work in my life. He has brought me to the realization that without Him, I could do nothing. The Lord gives and He takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord. And the thing is, God does have a script of our lives and He leaves a lot of junk in there. He doesn't erase it because the junk serves a purpose.

Despite all of the trials and trauma along the way, I would not trade for one minute who I am now for who I was then. Not one minute. I wish I didn't have to experience the pain but as Beth Moore said, "The purpose exceeds the pain."

He doesn't waste it either. I'll end with a quote I read earlier today by Julie Gillies:

Our past is not a bashing tool in the enemy's hand. Our unique experiences, coupled with God's healing power and grace, equip us to minister God's comfort, truth, and healing to others who have experienced the same wounds. God never wastes our pain.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Utmost... Part 5

Continued excerpts from Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God by David McCasland.

  • With all his emphasis on truth, Oswald was never content to affect the mind alone. His goal was to stir the will to act on sound principles of Scripture, so that people might demonstrate the love of Christ.

  • [In a letter written to a friend] 'Go with Him all the way." The end and aim and meaning of all sanctification is personal, passionate devotion to Jesus Christ. Keep bold and clear and out in the bracing facts of his revelation world, the Bible. Never compromise with those who water down the word of God to human experience, instead of allowing God to life up our experience to His Word.

  • One of the blessed things about this life is that a man carries his kingdom on the inside, and that makes the outside lovely.

This one I'll keep short and sweet because the next page that I had earmarked in the book to save can take up an entire post in itself. Very interesting.

It's funny because a woman from work loaned me this book after she saw that I had a quote by Oswald Chambers on my business instant messenger. It was a really good book to read. Some parts of the book my mind sort of glossed over but I try to just let it go when that happens. I believe the Lord will allow me to grasp what I'm supposed to grasp. The same when I read my Bible. It's good to read many times because each time reading produces a new thought or understanding.

Anyhow, after I finished the biography on Chambers, I told her how much I enjoyed reading it. To which she revealed to me that she had a book that contained the entire works of Oswald Chambers! She warned me ahead of time that it probably weighs 65 pounds! And she wasn't kidding. It's not something you would want to drop on your pinkie toe.

So until tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Utmost... Part 4

Yesterday I shared a poem written by Oswald Chambers and shared in the book Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God by David McCasland. He wrote after his 8 year relationship came to an end with a girl named Crissie. He talked about how no other trial in life helped him to see Christ more than the end of an earthly relationship that he had cherished.

I'll continue with an excerpt from the book of a new awareness that gripped him:

If Oswald hoped that by relinquishing his fondest loves only his love for Christ would remain, he was deeply disappointed. He had won a costly victory, but the war was not over. He longed for peace in his soul, but found only turmoil inside and out. God's gifts of keen intellect and handsome appearance seemed to work against him. When a young woman in a local church accused Chambers of misconduct with her, it seemed to be more than he could bear. There was no truth to her story and an investigation vindicated Oswald, but the damage had been done. Slander and all kinds followed the episode. He was misunderstood, shunned, avoided, and became the object of whispers throughout Dunoon.

More than causing damage to Oswald's reputation, the charge had heightened his own awareness of what lay within him.

"What any human being has done," he had heard a preacher say, "any other human being is capable of." [italics mine]. He had not sinned sexually with the girl, but he know he could have. The disturbing realization of what he was capable of thinking and doing began to oppress Oswald's mind.

He became aware of an abhorrent dualism in his personality. The sham and hypocrisy he detested in others had a foothold in his own heart. He could proclaim that God must be given glory for all his good works, but he enjoyed the praise of men. While many people in Dunoon thought he was a near-perfect saint, he knew the truth about himself. Within him lurked a frightening pride that was beyond his power to conquer.

I had not fully considered the depths of my own heart before. And how timely that my Sunday School class at church is doing a study by Jim Berg called Changed Into His Image. We have been discussing this thought at length in the past several weeks. What we can sometimes so easily see in others, is much more difficult to see in ourselves. But the exaggerated reactions I have towards the sin of others, may just as easily be found in my own heart in a different form. It helps me to be less judgemental but instead pray for a contrite spirit in myself and others that desires repentance. A prayer not for my own will, but His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

As long as we live on this earth, we will continue to have a sin nature. We will continue to fail. But that is not the end of it. Although there are none righteous, no not one, praise God that He has conquered sin and death so that I no longer have to live in bondage to my sinful nature unless I choose to do so.

We may see despicable things that other people do and say "I can't believe he/she would do something like that..." But the truth is, just like Oswald Chambers learned, "What any human being has done... any other human being is capable of." Therefore it's important to get to know myself and know the secret areas of my soul that are vulnerable to temptation and ask the Lord to lead me.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139: 23-24

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Utmost... Part 3

Today continues excerpts from the book Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God by David McCasland.

I'll pick up with a poem written by Chambers after an 8 year relationship ended.


(Kirn, January 22, 1900)

O my beloved Jesus! Not Thy cross

Nor any portion of Thine earthly life

Revealed Thy love to me.

But when my heart broke in its first true love,

And all my feelings like a lash of pain

Recoiled and stung me, till my tortured nerves

Refused to aid my spirit -

Then, in that pain, I saw Thee, O my Christ!

And that my first love, which so hopeless seemed,

Was after all for Thee disguised indeed.

But I mistook the form assumed by Thee,

And now I love Thee, Jesus, with the love

That lovers think they have for those they love.

O rapture! where there was such pain before.

I love that because I can understand the depths and also the insight and understanding that was beginning to open up to him. I have never been so broken as when relationships I cherished came to an end. It was in those times that I was broken enough to be filled. To realize that what I thought was love was not as pure as I imagined in that I was looking to fill a need of my own and not fully able to truly see or love another.

I started to understand this in pieces after the most significant relationship in my life came to an end. But I began to stall out and could go no further. I didn't feel broken over it anymore, which I thought meant I was ready to date again. A dear friend of mine prayed that I would meet someone if that was what I needed. I excitedly hoped that meant that I would meet someone because that was what I needed. And I did. I thought that was the answered prayer. I was very confused when it ended after just a short time because I was mistaken about God's answer. It wasn't the beginning that I needed. It was the end.

Then in that pain, I saw Thee, O my Christ!

And that my first love, which so hopeless seemed,

Was after all for Thee disguised indeed.

But I mistook the form assumed by Thee,

And now I love Thee, Jesus, with the love

That lovers think they have for those they love.

If Oswald hoped that by relinquishing his fondest loves only his love for Christ would remain, he was deeply disappointed. He had won a costly victory, but the war was not over.

More tomorrow... I can relate now to the things he was beginning to discover. It is so timely.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Temporary Home

"And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you strong, firm and steadfast." I Peter 5:10

I mentioned recently that I've been doing some dream work lately. I believe that God speaks some incredible truths to us through dreams if we are willing to take the time to learn to understand them. Something in my dreams clicked for me recently. I have recurring dreams about hotels.

To dream of a house symbolizes where you live... i.e. you. Different parts of the house symbolize different aspects of the personality, etc. I sometimes dream about houses, but more often I dream about being in a hotel. I couldn't understand what that meant. Why am I living in a hotel rather than in my own house? Did it mean that I was out of touch with who I am? That I am out of touch with reality? I didn't understand.

And then it clicked. A hotel is not home. It is a temporary home. I may be experiencing trials. I may feel hurt... pain.. rejection... deep sadness. But God reminds me while life may be incredibly painful at times, and the hurt and sadness feel too much to bear... it is only my temporary home. It will not always be that way. After I have suffered a little while, He Himself will restore me strong, firm, and steadfast. It often feels like it will last forever. But God promises that it won't. It is only our temporary home.

Temporary Home
by Carrie Underwood

Little boy, six years old
A little too used to bein' alone
Another new mom and dad. Another new school,
Another house that'll never be home.
When people ask him how he likes this place...
He looks up and says, with a smile upon his face,

"This is my temporary home
It's not where I belong.
Windows and rooms that I'm passin' through.
This is just a stop on the way to where I'm goin'
I'm not afraid because I know
This is my temporary home."

Young mom on her own.
She needs a little help, got nowhere to go.
She's lookin' for a job, lookin' for a way out,
Because a half-way house will never be a home.
At night she whispers to her baby girl,
"Someday we'll find our place here in this world."

"This is our temporary home.
It's not where we belong.
Windows and rooms that we're passin' through.
This was just a stop on the way to where we're goin'.
I'm not afraid because I know
This is our temporary home."

Old man, hospital bed.
The room is filled with people he loves.
And he whispers don't cry for me,
I'll see you all someday.
He looks up and says, "I can see God's face."

"This is my temporary home.
It's not where I belong.
Windows and rooms that I'm passin' through.
This was just a stop on the way to where I'm going.
I'm not afraid because I know... this was
My Temporary Home.

This is our temporary home.

Monday, May 2, 2011

No, Not One

"As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one." Romans 3:10

I heard on the radio this morning that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. My first thought was that I didn't know if I believed it was true. And then I got to work and saw the news broadcasts all day long since we have TVs around the office. As I saw people cheering and celebrating, it just really made me sad. I think our troops deserve honor for fulfilling their call of duty. I believe that an evil person got what he deserved as justice was served. I believe that I deserve the same justice as he received and am eternally thankful that I serve a God who sent His Son to die in my place so that I don't have to receive what I deserve. Because of that, I will rejoice in my salvation but not in another's eternal separation from God.

A friend of mine sent me an article she read today. I wish I knew who wrote it because I would love to give them credit. For now, I'll just post it as anonymous. Here is an excerpt:

There is no doubt that Osama Bin Laden's life was marked by heinour action and unspeakable terror. It is a tragedy that so many innocent lives were lost by the hate in that man's heart. And it is a tragedy as well that any man had to live his life engulfed in that same hate.

But today I awoke to a new tragedy. As I read the celebratory response to Bin Laden's death by Christians whom I love and respect, I grew sick to my stomach. Then dismayed. Then angry.

After all, we Christians are the ones who spend our lives purveying the the good news that we are graciously spared from being treated as our sins deserve. I find it ironic at best, that we - as recipients of such undeserved grace - are the very ones parading in the streets that this "** finally got what he deserved." If you're offended by the language, be more offended by the hypocrisy.

The terrifying-to-face truth of Scripture is that the very root of sin that drove Osama Bin Laden to kill thousands of people is [in] my heart, too. If we lose touch with that - if we somehow think ourselves as less debased in the height of our own sin - then we've lose touch with the Christian story and the very need for a Savior in the first place.

Perhaps even more shocking is the image of our Abba Father lovingly knitting together Osama Bin Laden in his mother's womb. It is an affront to consider Bin Laden to be made in the imago dei. But then again, the Bible is an affront. To be clear, I am not at all saying Bin Laden's actions were godly or anything other than evil. I am not saying that God approves his terror or hate, or even that Bin Laden shouldn't have been forcibly stopped from doing what he was doign. But that does not change the fact that a tragic end to a tragic life ought to give us more reason to repent and mourn than hoot and holler.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


"Her children rise up and call her blessed." Proverbs 31:28

Heaven had a celebration today, as it should have because today heaven welcomed a great woman.

I met Margaret Chambers back in 2001 when I began making frequent trips to South Carolina and to Greenville First Wesleyan Church. In fact, other than the teens there, I think Dennis and Margaret Chambers were the first people I met in Greenville. At that time, Margaret had been battling cancer but was then in remission.

When I moved to Greenville less than a year after we first met, Dennis and Margaret welcomed me into their home to live with them for two months until I got married. I always said that they were like my second parents. And they were wonderful second parents.

I remember sitting on the couch watching movies with them some nights. Margaret would usually end up turning in to bed first, while Dennis fell asleep in the recliner.

I remember Margaret had gotten my bedroom ready for me to come and stay and had it all set up nice and cozy. That's the way she was. Hospitality was one of her strong points. And that bed was honestly the most comfortable bed I had ever slept in.

Dennis and Margaret's daughter Beth, who is my age, was set to get married a few months after me so it was an exciting time of wedding planning and dresses and family. I remember even before then, Margaret couldn't wait to be a grandma one day. She even had a crib and some baby items already to go! I always knew Margaret would make a wonderful grandma. She was just that way.

Margaret had a very cute, country inspired house. She collected apples and her kitchen was decorated with many different apple trinkets and decor. She was also a great cook. She made a breakfast casserole to die for!

I remember a funny incident one breakfast morning. It was a Saturday morning and we all had a lazy start to the day. Margaret had made everyone french toast and we were eating it in the living room on our TV trays. They didn't have any orange juice, so she brought me a glass of milk to drink. As I began to drink it, I realized it was, um, a little past the expiration date most likely. However, she had gone to so much trouble to make us such a nice breakfast and make everyone feel warm and welcome, that I didn't have the heart to say anything. So I just drank it. Well, about a week later we were driving in her car together somewhere and she said, "I just have to tell you something. I was cleaning out the refrigerator and I realized that milk I gave you was not good anymore! I'm so sorry I gave that to you!" I had to come clean at that point. Good thing it was skim milk or it could have been a lot worse.

Margaret also loved the youth in the church. Sometimes there tends to be a split between the generations but that was not so with Margaret Chambers. The teens loved her just as much as she loved them. As a youth leader, that was so nice to see. In fact, we remodeled the youth room during the time I was there and had sort of a "grand opening" ceremony and invited the church congregation to stop by and see the renovations. During that ceremony we dedicated the room to Margaret and had a plaque made with her name on it that went on the door. She was so surprised and humbled by it, as was true Margaret fashion. She would have never wanted to draw attention to herself but was honored by the sentiment.

After I moved away from South Carolina, I still kept in touch with Margaret from time to time. And whenever I found my way back to the area, Margaret was always the first person I wanted to see. I didn't always have time to visit with all of my friends, but I never missed visiting Margaret. She also let me bunk up in my old room several times on my way through town.

Margaret Chambers will certainly be missed by so many people as she had the ability to touch people with her warmth and generosity wherever she went. I'm not sure there could ever be a bad word said about Margaret Chambers. She was an amazing, Godly woman who embodied the love of Christ in every area of her life.

I love you Margaret. Enjoy your time face to face with your Savior. I can only imagine what you are experiencing right now. I miss you. One day we will see each other again.

My Utmost...Part 2

I recently finished reading a biography of the life of Oswald Chambers by David McCasland titled Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God. His life was so inspiring and the wisdom that the Lord supplied to him so great. I am taking some time to write out some of my favorite parts of the book.

  • [Chambers thought his ministry was to be through art, however the doors seemed to be closing...] The tug-of-war in Oswald's heart intensified as the days grew shorter and the leaves of autumn released their grip on the branches to which they had held so tightly. Was that what Oswald needed to do? Was he holding on to a vision that he must now release? ... Chambers prayed aloud, alternately thanking God and pleading with Him to make His way plain. He wanted to serve Him in art, to go where others could not or would not take the gospel of Jesus Christ. But the way seemed blocked and now, perhaps forbidden. "Oh God," he pleaded, "make Thy way plain to me."

  • A November gathering of the Christian Union brought Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, to the University of Edinburgh. After attending the meeting Chambers wrote: "Hudson Taylor said last night that Our Lord's words 'Have faith in God' really mean 'Have faith in the faithfulness of God,' not in your own faithfulness." Letting go was an expression of trust, but not the end of the struggle...

  • A few days later, Cameron [an old friend] took Chambers aside and said, "If you get permission to speak to my ploughman about his soul, do so." Oswald expressed surprise that Cameron had not spoken to the man himself, because he had watched the old farmer speak about Jesus to all sorts of people. "My laddie," Cameron replied, "if you don't know what the permission of the Holy Ghost is in talking to a soul about salvation, you know nothing about the Holy Ghost."