Monthly Archives: January 2014

Counting Our Blessings

I Timothy 6:6

I Timothy 6:6

COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS 

Yesterday on our way home after buying groceries Glyn and I were talking about how much life has changed for us since he lost his job in May last year. Every penny we spend now has to be stretched to purchase necessities and not spent on frivolous whims.

Just to set the record straight I am not seeking sympathy! My family will tell you that I am a master at “rationing food” to make it stretch and probably could get a medal for being a hopeless miser!

Glyn started the conversation saying that even though we have a limited income and are facing an uncertain future, he rests in the knowledge that when the money runs out God WILL BE THERE FOR US in one way or another. This led us to reminiscing over some of the amazing times God has stepped in when we could only turn to Him for help.  We began to “count our blessings” both past and present; by the time we arrived home we were flooded with a sense of contentment and peace.

A Wall Street Journal columnist, Jonathan Clements, offered his readers “Nine Tips for Investing in Happiness.”  Interestingly, one of his suggestions was precisely the same admonition we read in the favorite old hymn by Johnson C. Oatman, “Count Your Many Blessings.”

Clements urged his readers not to brood over the riches of their neighbors and those in their circle of acquaintances, but to focus on the many blessings they actually DO possess. This man was giving wise and scriptural counsel, as the Word teaches us that our “spiritual wealth” in Jesus is immeasurably more valuable than any material possessions this world can offer.

God did not give us the Bible as a guidebook for a “get rich quick” formula, even though there are many that teach this idea. God’s Word tells us how we can be eternally joyful even in times of financial poverty and how we can experience joy on our way to the eternal life and joy He is preparing for us.

The Apostle Paul reminded young Timothy this truth:

“Godliness with contentment is great gain,” (1 Tim. 6:6).

The apostle wanted his protégé to understand that being grateful for the BASICS of life would help keep him from the trap of covetousness. It is so easy to slide into an attitude of feeling sorry for ones-self when we see others, both godly and ungodly, abounding in worldly goods and wealth.

The key to contentment is in what we are focusing on. Do we long for the luxury and security in this world that will eventually pass away or do we anticipate unwaveringly the glory that a-waits the children of God in our eternal home?

The answer found in the verse of “Count Your Blessing”!

“When you look at others with their lands and gold,

Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;

Count your many blessings—money cannot buy

Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.”

Today let us focus on the wonders of God’s grace, training ourselves to make a spirit of gratitude pervade our daily lives. That’s the true way to experience contentment and to be forever joyful regardless of our circumstances.

A Cabby, An Act of Compassion, A Concrete Jungle

Trust God

Trust God

A CABBY, AN ACT OF COMPASSION, A CONCRETE JUNGLE 

In mid-1961 my parents returned to the States from Rhodesia, for a furlough. It coincided with my entering Holmes Bible College, in Greenville South Carolina.  Trying to adjust to the cultural shock that I experienced is hard to even put into words. The last time we had visited the States as a family I was only eleven years old and was sent to live with my grandparents in a rough cabin with no running water or electricity, in the tiny village of Hatfield Point in New Brunswick, Canada. Now I was a young woman taking my first steps in preparing myself to follow the call of God on my life.  The only culture I truly was comfortable in was life in Rhodesia, Africa and it was a far cry from American culture!

Shortly after arriving in the States my Dad was asked to become the Interim President of Long Island Bible Institute.  We drove the long journey from Long Island, New York to Greenville, South Carolina for me to enroll as a freshman. Just as soon as my parents helped me get my room assignment, unload my luggage, they quickly said their good-byes, with promises of sending me a bus ticket for our Christmas break and then they were gone; before I had hardly caught my breath. I was on my own and it was “make or break” as far as I was concerned.

It did not take long to get into the rhythm of College life and before I knew it, I received a letter from my parents with a Greyhound Bus ticket to travel to Long Island for Christmas. My room-mates were very protective of their “African missionary kid” so they filled my head full of “things to avoid when travelling alone” on the Greyhound Bus. This would be my first experience taking a long trip on my own and they felt it their “Christian duty” to educate me in the ways of the world! The night before classes closed my two room-mates went over their “check list” with me and then dropped a bombshell.  They asked me if I knew about “white slavery” in New York City! I had no idea what they were talking about and reminded them I had grown up under an “African rock”! Before the night was over they had given me a blow by blow description of what happens when young women are taken into white slavery. By the time I boarded the bus, I was convinced I was far safer living on a primitive Mission in the wilds of Africa than I was here in “civilized” America!

It was going to be a long overnight journey; I boarded at 5:00 PM and would not arrive at the Bus depot in New York City until noon the next day, where Dad would be waiting for me. I got myself settled in my seat just behind the driver and watched with interest the hive of activity outside the bus. A movement beside me caught my attention and I found a young, tired looking soldier starting to occupy the seat beside me.

Now what!!! My mind was whirling with questions. I thought that if I was too friendly I might give him the wrong signals but if I didn’t talk at all I would seem uncaring and rude!  My room-mates had not told me that I might have a strange man sitting beside me! Looking back now I chuckle at my total innocence; and how easily, well-meaning room-mates, had actually unwittingly added to my anxiety level. Thankfully the soldier greeted me politely, made some small talk and then explained he had just come off of a rigorous training stint and was starved for sleep. Once I heard that I relaxed a bit figuring he would be harmless as long as he stayed asleep!

The Greyhound Bus soon was on the highway and the hum of the wheels had a lulling effect on most of the passengers. Darkness fell, passengers pulled out blankets and pillows and settled down to try and get some sleep before the next stop. The soldier was sound asleep and his head kept falling onto my shoulder, so I took my pillow and wedged it between my shoulder and his head – at least he would sleep comfortably!

Eventually the bus driver roused us over the intercom, announcing we were coming to our first stop and recommended we all get off, stretch our legs and get something to eat. He also told us that we were going to be driving into a serious winter snow storm which would probably delay our arrival in New York by a few hours. I was not about to move from my seat; it had become my security place but the young soldier insisted I get off and stretch my legs. He must have sensed I was scared to death and totally out of my element, so he assured me that he would stay with me inside the bus depot. Once inside he insisted on buying me a sandwich and warm bowl of soup.

Back on the bus we all trooped like a bunch of sheep and settled down for the next leg of the journey. Before too long the road conditions began to deteriorate and it was not long that we were driving into the teeth a major blizzard. The bus was crawling, cars were sliding off the road; I seriously wondered if we were going to end up stuck in a snow bank. The further we went the worse the driving conditions became, the bus driver’s disposition grew grumpier by the minute and passengers started grumbling in impatience. At this rate we were not going to be just a couple hours late but we would be fortunate if we made it at all!  The long night turned into a torturous battle with the elements and the anxiety level among the passengers rose with each spin of the wheels. The tension in the bus was tangible, frustration turned to genuine fear for our safety.

This was before the “cell phone” era so I had no way of notifying my Dad that we were going to be VERY late arriving in New York City. As the morning light tried to make a dent through the driving snow we resigned ourselves to many more hours of slipping and sliding at a snail’s pace. Finally the lights of New York City became a welcoming glow on the now dark horizon. We were already 10 hours over-due! The city was grid locked by the storm; actually it was impossible to see the high rise buildings just a block away because of the ferocity of the storm. The Greyhound Bus was scheduled to stop first at the main Port Authority and then as soon as passengers for this depot had disembarked it was to go to a second Bus depot which was the one where my Dad was meeting me.

There were no parking bays for the bus to unload its passengers; the place was in an uproar. With a curse that would make a sailor blush, the driver slid to a stop and shouted over the intercom that EVERYONE had to get off at this depot. Chaos erupted as people were grabbing for their bags, complaining bitterly to the driver and generally taking out their frustrations on anyone within earshot.

I was at a loss what to do. The driver was pulling passengers’ bags out and dumping them in the deep snow; I went over and began to plead with him to help me. I explained that I did not know where the second Bus Depot was and had no idea how to get there as I was a stranger to the city. He turned and cursed at me, informing me I was on my own and that was that! He said I could try a subway train but I wasn’t getting help from him. I took exception to his use of foul language, so sharply responded that I did not even know what a subway was as I came from Africa and we did not have such things in my homeland! By now my exchange with the driver was overheard by some of the passengers. A lady passenger stepped up, got in the driver’s face and in a strong New Yorker accent asked him what kind of man he was, to be treating a young lady seeking help, in such a course manner.  A hot verbal exchange ensued until the driver stormed off and disappeared into the jostling mob, trying to crowd into the depot.

I was shaking with cold and terror. I was lost in a concrete jungle and had no way of contacting my parents. I could hear the words of my room-mates echoing in my head warning about “white slavery” and figured I was a prime target!! The lady turned, grabbed my hand and said, “Come with me, I am going to help you!” Hanging tightly onto my trembling hand we slipped and slid through deep snow drifts into what was a dark alley. Now I was thoroughly convinced I was being captured for “white slavery”! My rescuer told me not to be afraid; I felt as though she was reading my very thoughts! She explained to me that she lived in the city and she knew a shortcut between the skyscrapers where she could find a Taxi Cab. True to her word we stepped out from the alley to a street lined with Yellow Cabs.  She opened the door of the closest cab pushed me in first then got in beside me; instructing the Cab driver to take us to the 20th Street Bus Depot. It was slow going as the streets were clogged with snow drifts and abandoned cars but finally we arrived on the street where the 20th Street Bus Depot was. It was mobbed just like the Port Authority; the crowd was pushing, shoving and yelling as they tried to squeeze into the building. The Cab driver turned and informed me that this was as far as he was going. Instantly my rescuer told the driver he needed to be ashamed of himself ; treating the daughter of a missionary couple with no regard for my safety. She told him to take me into the bus depot and stay with me until he found my Dad. The driver protested that no New York cabby leaves his Cab unprotected as he would be asking to get robbed. The lady assured him that he could trust her and she would be waiting in his cab when he returned.  Amazingly he responded, jumped out the cab, told me to hang onto his hand and not let go otherwise I would get swallowed up by the angry mob. Somehow he pushed his way through the crowd until we were inside the building. The line at the ticket counter was endless; the crowd was packed in so tightly that a lady fainted in front of us and couldn’t even crumble to the floor. The cab driver ignored the jabs and curses of the people as he forced his way to the front of the line.  To this day I don’t know what he told the clerk behind the counter but immediately the loudspeaker in the building began to page “Reverend Wilson to come immediately to the ticket counter”. I scanned the faces of the crowd to no avail, just as I was about to give up hope I saw the top of a balding head that I knew only too well. In a matter of minutes the nightmare was over; I was engulfed in my father’s strong arms. Dad asked the Cab driver if he could pay him but he shook his head, smiled and said that he had an “angel in disguise” waiting in his cab and with that he melted into the crowd.

Dad had waited over 12 hours, checking each bus that arrived, to no avail; finally he realized that it would take a miracle of God putting the right people in the right places, to help him find me. He asked God for that miracle and God came through in the form of a compassionate lady and a trusting New York Cab driver.

Never be afraid to ask God for the “impossible” even when your situation looks completely beyond help as God is true to His Word. He has promised never to leave His children or forsake them. Our God is a God who specializes in the impossible!

 

 

Meekness a Magnet For Strength

Baby Impalas at Kruger National Park, SA

Baby Impalas at Kruger National Park, SA

MEEKNESS A MAGNET FOR STRENGTH 

We live in a very angry world. It seems that more and more people function under a “sense of entitlement” and if they do not get their way, acts of violence become their knee-jerk reaction.

Let us not confuse well controlled strength or a harnessed strong will with unmanaged rage. Our daily news is filled with graphic accounts of innocent people who unwittingly have been on the receiving end of someone’s malicious rage.

I am sure all of my readers at some point in their lives have been angry for one reason or another. Sometimes it was justified and other times it was merely a reflection of your state of mind that given day.

I saw a slogan tonight on Face Book that said; “If Mamma ‘aint happy, ‘aint nobody happy. If Grandma ‘aint happy………RUN!  It gave me a good chuckle as this Grandma (Ouma) is a red-head, so a fiery personality is part of the package! True, the copper red hair has now turned to grey but there is still a fiery strong will that even though it has matured with the passing of time, has not lost its intensity!

So “meekness” is not a natural attribute for me, it is a characteristic I have had to permit God to nurture in my life. I know many individuals who seem to be graced with a meek spirit and they are a joy to know; yet many scorn meekness considering it a sign of weakness of character.

In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus give us teaching on the “Beatitudes”. Among them we find that He speaks of “meekness”.

What did Jesus mean when he said the meek will inherit the earth?

Matthew 5:5 (NKJV) “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.”

I believe He meant that those who surrender their being under His control will experience God’s matchless power working in their lives. Let me flesh out a few examples for you to consider.

MEEKNESS enables us to have the ability to forgive when we have been wronged. Forgiveness takes a much stronger character than it does to get revenge.

When my husband unjustly lost his job last May, my gut reaction was to fight back. He was wronged and I wanted to “call fire from heaven” upon the individuals who perpetrated this injustice. In my “carnal” thinking, revenge would be sweet to taste and I was more than ready to do battle! Then the gentle voice of the Spirit reminded me that it was far better to let the Lord fight the battle as His justice is eternal and not tainted with the evil of this world.

MEEKNESS gives us the moral strength to overcome temptation. It will enable us to have the self-control to resist sinful inclinations. We live in a fallen world and temptation waits on every turn of the road.

MEEKNESS will define our life by strength, not insecurity. When we are blind-sided by circumstances that turn our life upside down, a meek and trusting heart will beat strongly and not quiver with insecurity.  The Lord is greater than our biggest fears and will fill us with His strength in times of uncertainty.

That’s what Jesus meant by meekness. Jesus himself provided the ultimate demonstration of meekness. Though he was the Son of God, he willingly surrendered Himself to his enemies in order to save the human race from its own destruction.

Think about it for a minute:

The irony is heavy; his tormentors mocked him for lacking the power to come down from the cross (Mark 15:30), but Jesus showed infinitely MORE strength by remaining on the cross rather than crying out to his Father to rescue Him from its horror. That……… is MEEKNESS IN ACTION.

In this generation many will try to convince us that Christianity is fine for weaklings, but strong people don’t need God. These individuals have no idea what true strength is! Trusting and serving God doesn’t sap our strength; it EMPOWERS us in ways we would never have experience without Christ in our lives!   

A true spirit of meekness is a magnet that develops strength and not weakness in the lives of those who manifest it.  

God Never Makes A Mistake

Romans 11:33

Romans 11:33

GOD NEVER MAKES A MISTAKE

Romans 11:33 (NKJV) “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”  

Another year has faded into the records of History. Choices, decisions and events that we experienced in 2013 cannot be erased or rewound. They will remain in our personal history that will be seen not only by those that follow after us but they will effect and influence our remaining days in this life.

At the beginning of a New Year many tend to look back, second guessing and questioning the arduous path they had to walk. For many 2013 was not a “walk in the park”; some were tested to the limit at each turn of the road. I don’t know about my readers, but for me, I feel during this past year I have had more questions than I found answer for. There have even been moments when I dared to ask God if He had made a mistake! Bear with me as I share an illustration that fits so well with the heart of this Nugget.

In the summer of 1864, the Forty-ninth Tennessee Regiment was worshiping in the shade of the trees in a Georgia woods. Chaplain James McNeilly was leading the group of rag tag war weary soldiers. Suddenly a stray bullet from a battle in another location passed through the head of one of the worshipers and lodged in the chest of another. The soldiers stopped singing at the horror of the scene unfolding before their very eyes. They saw the man with the bullet in his head slump over and stop breathing.  They realized there was nothing they could do to help him so quickly they focused on the man who suffered a chest wound. (Lessons from the Battlefield)

I am certain that this incident made the soldiers think about eternity and the mystery of life and death.

Questions must have been bombarding their stunned minds.

Why didn’t God save the faithful?

Why did God allow this to happen during a scared time of worship?

Did God make a mistake?

Life is full of unanswered questions concerning God’s intervention and providential care for us. Suffering and untimely death are mysteries even to the trusting child of God.

The brutal deaths of thirteen of our missionary colleagues in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe, Africa) made absolutely no sense.

The heinous torturing and subsequent murders of African Pastors, hardworking farmers and innocent children at the hands of the terrorists in Rhodesia left those of us who survived, reeling with unanswered questions.

The death of our infant son before he was a day old seemed, to our broken hearts, that God had made a mistake. How could this happen while we were serving Him with all our strength as missionaries in the land of Africa? During those dark days of heart-ache we received a letter from a friend, who was a classmate when Glyn was a student at Zion Bible College in Rhode Island. In her letter of comfort one sentence struck home and has stayed with me through the years. She said: “While your hearts are broken just remember, GOD NEVER MAKES A MISTAKE.

You see until we reach our eternal home, we will never have ALL the answers to the questions of human suffering. However, we can take comfort in knowing that when God’s children suffer patiently, He will provide the grace and strength they need at that time.

Many believers down through the ages have resigned themselves to the providence of God in their affairs. When things happened they could not understand; they knew that the Lord was in control; allowing this knowledge to give them peace during the time of trial.

So too my dear readers let us learn from the example of those who have gone before us.

God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. We cannot know why God allows tragedies to happen in life, but we know that He never makes a mistake.