Tuesday, December 28, 2010

When God Says "Go":Voices of the Faithful

A village woman dreams she would find a man by the river who would tell her of God—on the day, and at the moment a missionary happened to be walking there. In another part of the world, a missionary needed new tires for his van, but before he could get them, the vehicle was stolen. A short time later it was recovered, replete with new tires, a radio, and a backseat.

Voices of the Faithful, a compilation by Kim P. Davis of miracles, testimonies, joys, and sorrows brings the reader into communion with the heart of God as lived out through missionaries from around the world. It is a glimpse into the lives of ordinary people who are willing to pay the price of obedience and go where God leads.

This daily devotional is arranged around monthly themes such as character, prayer, contentment, etc. Beth Moore introduces each month’s theme, but the daily devotions are from the hearts of missionaries scattered from the Pacific Rim to the jungles of Africa.

Although there are many devotionals available, this one has the added benefit of allowing us to become intimate with the people who are willing to share God’s heart in difficult and unfamiliar places. Perhaps this encounter will trigger a response to commit to one of them in prayer, correspondence, or support, thereby becoming a co-worker from the comfort of our couch.

A copy of Voices of the Faithful was provided to me by Booksneeze.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Jungle Captive and a Great Big God

Have you ever wondered if you’ve pinned your hopes on someone as ephemeral as a childhood fantasy? If the chances of having your prayers answered are as likely as seeing Santa pop out of the fireplace?

A few weeks before Christmas, after six years of captivity in a jungle, Ingrid Betancourt released her hope of ever being set free. Her unanswered prayers settled back on her as she folded herself in her hammock cocoon and let go of the will to live. The proof-of-life letter she had written to her family never reached its destination—or so she thought.

She was unaware that some militia had been captured and the letters released to the press. She was unaware of an army deep in the jungle, rehearing a rescue. And she was unaware God had roused intercessors around the world, including me.

On December 7, 2007, another world and thousands of miles away, a news article caught my attention. I clipped it and stuck it in my Bible. Night after restless from between my sheets, I prayed for a woman who had lost hope.

On December 8, 2007, Ingrid heard about the rescued letters. She wrote, “. . . for the first time in six months I wanted to eat. . . .I had a thirst for life again.”

Six months later, I fired up my computer and read the headlines: Betancourt Freed.

I know I have mentioned this story before, but I just finished read Betancourt’s book, Even Silence Has An End, as well as the one written by the American captives, Out of Captivity. They tell the story of tragedy and hope, of captives and heroes, of a God who hears and answers.

In retrospect, you can see all the people and events God put into place behind the scenes of someone’s prayers—a faithful mother, a persistent rescue force, an intercepted militia, and among other prayer warriors, an unknown woman inspired by a news clipping—just a few of the cast God uses as only He can.

At times, we all need to be reminded that our hope indeed, is on the living God. And even when our natural eyes tell us one thing, we know “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

For those of us rejoicing in the freedom of Christ this Christmas, may we remember someone who is not. Ask, and perhaps the Lord will give you a part in His Christmas cast to bring hope to the captives.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Missing Martha

Got sidetracked making a stained glass piece for friends who are building a house on an island in Maine. It felt great to exercise whatever part of my brain that required and to give the wordy part a rest. Hope I didn’t lose you faithful readers in the interim

I’ve been missing my Martha lately—you know, the one who always gets the bad rap for cooking, cleaning, and making up beds while her sister soaks in Jesus—not the one who spent a bit of time behind bars for some messy money business in the midst of her happy-homemaker projects.

It used to be that my Martha could do all the busy stuff, and my Mary still had time to bask in the Lord. But they seem to have parted ways of late.

For example, my Mary is presently sitting here at 6:00 a.m. in her pj’s, listening to Handel’s Messiah, smelling a Balsam candle, and enjoying the lights on the mantle garland. She’s thanking God for peace and beauty. The problem is, Martha’s sitting too, but not before leaving a trail of upheaval behind her.

Before she could sit, she rummaged through boxes in the spare bedroom, looking for something she never found. So, she left that mess and on her way to the kitchen, noticed the plants needed watering. She filled each pot, but the one without the saucer under it leaked all over the floor. Martha wasn’t into mopping at the moment because the microwave beeped that her coffee was hot. So she threw a dish towel down on the stream making its way across the low spots in the tile, and decided to catch up on her blog.

But feeling somewhat distracted and unconnected, she decided to sit awhile with Mary and just let her soul “exalt in the Lord and her spirit in God her Savior. For the Mighty One has done great things for her, and Holy is his name.”

Maybe the floor will be dry by the time she gets up. 

And may you too, have a time today to delight in what is good, and true, and beautiful. As they so openly say here in the South--Have a blessed day.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Year with God review

A Year with God by R.P. Nettelhorst is a thoughtful, ambitious and insightful compilation of Old Testament excerpts and explanations. It is arranged categorically: love/hate, hope/fear, mercy/judgment, etc., and can be read in any order. The author uses portions of Scripture (taken from a wide variety of versions) to invite his reader to “Spend a year with God, read his words, and listen to his heart. Love him and know without a doubt that he loves you.”

These readings and reflections would appeal to people who prefer a short, daily, expository-type reflection rather than a personal anecdotal one, typical of the many devotionals on the market. The author stays clear of involving himself in the meditations—so much so, in fact, that there is no mention of him or his background anywhere in the book.

Granted, for the sake of review, I read A Year with God in a month and probably missed some of the applicable inspiration the author intended. However, as much as I appreciated his obvious knowledge, I felt A Year with God lacked the warmth and inspiration I would need in order to stay hunkered down in the Old Testament for a year.

Nevertheless, Nettelhorst is well versed in the Old Testament and is able to present his meditations clearly and simply.

Booksneeze has provided me with the copy of this book for review