Sunday, May 14, 2017

Weary of Wandering from My God

“The Chap­lain of Glas­gow pri­son once found a young wo­man eight­een or nine­teen stand­ing in her cell with her hymn-book in her hand. ‘She looked up, and, hold­ing it out, said to me, ‘This is a “hymn which I’m much ta’en up wi’.’
I read the first two lines, and found my eyes fill­ing with tears as I looked at her and said, ‘Are you weary of wan­der­ing from your God?’
“The an­swer was ‘Yes, in­deed I am.’ There­u­pon I had the great pri­vi­lege of deal­ing with an an­xious soul.
“Next Sun­day we not on­ly sang the hymn, but I preached spe­cial­ly to wea­ry wan­der­ers. The fol­low­ing day an old man grasped my hand as I en­tered his cell, and in an ear­nest and sol­emn voice said, ‘When the great day comes there will be found a soul among the re­deemed, brought there through that hymn we sang yes­ter­day, for,’  he con­tin­ued, ‘when you read out, ‘Wea­ry of wan­der­ing from my God,’ I said, ‘That’s me. I’m wea­ry, and I’m rea­dy to re­turn,’ and,” he add­ed, “come back to my God I have.”’

Weary of wandering from my God
Charles Wesley (1749)

Weary of wandering from my God,
And now made willing to return
I hear and bow me to the rod
For thee, not without hope, I mourn:
I have an Advocate above
A Friend before the throne of love.

O Jesus, full of truth and grace
More full of grace than I of sin

Yet once again I seek Thy face:
Open Thine arms and take me in
And freely my backslidings heal
And love the faithless sinner still.

Thou know’st the way to bring me back
My fallen spirit to restore

O for Thy truth and mercy’s sake,
Forgive, and bid me sin no more:
The ruins of my soul repair
And make my heart a house of prayer.

The stone to flesh again convert,
The veil of sin again remove;

Sprinkle Thy blood upon my heart,
And melt it by Thy dying love;
This rebel heart by love subdue,
And make it soft, and make it new.

Give to mine eyes refreshing tears,
And kindle my relentings now;

Fill my whole soul with filial fears,
To Thy sweet yoke my spirit bow;
Bend by Thy grace, O bend or break,
The iron sinew in my neck!

Ah! give me, Lord, the tender heart
That trembles at the approach of sin;

A godly fear of sin impart,
Implant, and root it deep within,
That I may dread Thy gracious power,
And never dare to offend Thee more.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Jesu, Thy Boundless Love to Me

Jesu, Thy Boundless Love to Me

By Paul Gerhardt (1653), translated by John Wesley (1739)

Jesus, Thy boundless love to me
No thought can reach, no tongue declare;
Unite my thankful heart with Thee
And reign without a rival there.
To Thee alone, dear Lord, I live;
Myself to Thee, dear Lord, I give.

O, grant that nothing in my soul
May dwell but Thy pure love alone!
Oh, may Thy love possess me whole,
My joy, my treasure, and my crown!
All coldness from my heart remove;
My every act, word, thought, be love.

O love, how cheering is thy ray!
All pain before thy presence flies;
Care, anguish, sorrow, melt away
Wherever thy healing beams arise.
O Jesus, nothing may I see,
Nothing desire or seek, but Thee!

This love unwearied I pursue
And dauntlessly to Thee aspire.
Oh, may Thy love my hope renew
Burn in my soul like heavenly fire!
And day and night be all my care
To guard this sacred treasure there.

My Savior, Thou Thy love to me
In shame, in want, in pain, hast showed;
For me, on the accursed tree,
Thou pourest forth Thy guiltless blood;
Thy wounds upon my heart impress,
Nor aught shall the loved stamp efface.

More hard than marble is my heart,
And foul with sins of deepest stain;
But Thou the mighty Savior art,
Nor flowed thy cleansing blood in vain;
Ah soften, melt this rock, and may
Thy blood wash all these stains away!

O that I, as a little child,
May follow Thee, and never rest
Till sweetly Thou hast breathed Thy mild
And lowly mind into my breast!
Nor ever may we parted be,
Till I become as one with Thee.

Still let Thy love point out my way;
How wondrous things Thy love hath wrought!
Still lead me, lest I go astray;
Direct my word, inspire my thought;
And if I fall, soon may I hear
Thy voice, and know that love is near.

In suffering be Thy love my peace,
In weakness be Thy love my power;
And when the storms of life shall cease,
Jesus, in that important hour,
In death as life be Thou my guide,
And save me, who for me hast died.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Thou Shalt Not Speculate

Matthew 6:25-34 NKJV
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

My Precious Heavenly Father,

I think You should have given us an 11th commandment: "Thou shalt not speculate." Perhaps you have already done so, when Jesus forbade worry.

I am a capable strategic planner. I gravitate toward vision, mission, strategic planning, and implementation. I understand assessment, evaluation, and further planning. I have lived the endless cycle. But the same skills that help me to plan strategically may contribute to fear and worry. Complications, shortfalls, and the possibility of failed strategic plans demand contingencies. Contingencies are often based upon fear.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: "Whatever weaknesses, miscalculations, and guilt there is in what precedes facts, God is in the facts themselves" (Letters and Papers from Prison, p. 103).

All too often,   I find myself in the weaknesses, miscalculations, guilt, and fear of failure. I have even attempted to sanctify speculations and fears that You have no desire to sanctify. I have lived in the fear of contingency planning, when You are calling me to live in the day to day reality of what is with a simple faith and trust that You will take care of me.

So, I plan for an unknown future, all the while, recognizing that things will change. I cannot see the future. I only know that You do. You are already there.

Hoag, Rodin, and Willmer (The Choice: The Christ-Centered Pursuit of Kingdom Outcomes) describe a Kingdom ethic of strategic planning. "Prayerful strategic planning is a process of faith that is filled, led, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, where we as ministry leaders seek together to hear God's voice and discern His will regarding the future in a way that enables us to pursue kingdom outcomes with organizational passion (unity of vision) and Christ-like excellence (obediently offering our very best)" (2014, p. 65).

Lord, take me past the futility of speculation that is often based in factless fears. Lead me into the truth of scripture through the leadership of Your Holy Spirit that I may face the future with poise, passion, and a plan that is birthed in Your Father-heart.

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

Monday, March 27, 2017

Burning Bridges

Hebrews 11: 1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Precious Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,

I am utterly dependent upon You. You have called me to the faith life. I have answered with obedience. Life with You has proved safe and dangerous, protected and risky--simultaneously. You have shown me incredible miracles of answered prayer.

Some would call my faith life reckless. They would push me toward a dependence upon material safety that defies faith. That safety is defined by words like "sustainability" and "security."  I recognize within me a desire for safety. That desire for safety wants to see. It would seem to defy the very faith life to which You have called me. Temptation draws me to measure success with things I can count. That safety would place my trust in money and material things rather than You. I am tempted from the faith life to the sight life. I am tempted to look for loopholes that appear more secure. I am tempted to build bridges of retreat.

A.W. Tozer wrote: "The man of pseudo faith will fight for his verbal creed but refuse flatly to allow himself to get into a predicament where his future must depend on that creed being true. He always provides himself with secondary ways of escape so he will have a way out if the roof caves in."

I don't know how to live this life of faith as I ought. My creed calls me to faith. But I find myself repeatedly attempting to construct safety nets and escape routes if faith fails! Incredulously, I profess surrender to the faith life, but all too often, You prick my conscience that I am living by sight, not faith. The Apostle Paul reminds us "
For we walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7). 

Paul Chilcote prayed: "Give me enough to provide for myself and my family, but save me from the temptation to think I need more. Help me to realize how easily I  can be led astray by worldly riches and how quickly they can take over my heart. It is very easy, indeed, for my possessions to own me, and for me to lose track of my most important love." (Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit, p. 89).

Help me to be a responsible leader. Birth vision and direction in the faith life, not apart from it. Professional criteria demand strategic plans, operational plans, budgets, fundraising goals, marketing efforts, and the energy and industry to carry them out. Birth these in the faith life. Keep me filled with Your Holy Spirit. Empower me to lead from a heart and mind filled with faith in You.  

I burn bridges of retreat. I abandon backup plans. I cast myself utterly upon You. The faith life is my life. You are my life.

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,

Every Bridge is Burned Behind Me
Johnson Oatman (1898)

Since I started out to find Thee,
Since I to the cross did flee, 
Every bridge is burned behind me; 
I will never turn from Thee. 

Thou didst hear my plea so kindly;
Thou didst grant me so much grace, 
Every bridge is burned behind me; 
I will ne’er my steps retrace. 

Cares of life perplex and grind me,
Yet I keep the narrow way. 
Every bridge is burned behind me; 
I from Thee will never stray. 

All in All I ever find Thee,
Savior, Lover, Brother, Friend, 
Every bridge is burned behind me; 
I will serve Thee to the end. 


Strengthen all the ties that bind me
Closer, closer, Lord to Thee,
Every bridge is burned behind me; 
Thine I evermore will be.