Who Is Singing?

Who Is Singing?

The angels sing for joy when a soul is snatched from Satan’s power, a trophy of the Redeemer’s sacrifice. { SW May 29, 1902, Art. A, par. 2 }

When a soul is captured from the ranks of Christ the synagogue of Satan sing in hellish triumph. (Letter 12a, 1893)

As I read these two passages this morning, my determination to keep the wicked demons silent was renewed. Can you imagine the chilling, hellish tune of a demon — or Satan himself — rejoicing over someone being eternally lost? A dirge! How horrible must be that “song”. Since Satan was the song leader in heaven before being cast out, what a horrible perversion this must be! Imagine looking into the face of Jesus at the loss, and at the wicked rejoicing of demons. Can you look into His face and not be moved? Can I? NO! I want to make the holy angels sing and make the heart of Jesus happy. Jesus needs closure!!

“Dear Father in Heaven, I ask for wisdom and the power of the Holy Spirit to win souls for You. Please give me the key to each heart you bring me in contact with. Help me to be faithful as a seed-sower. Thank you, Father! In Jesus’ name, AMEN.”

One Smooth Stone!

One Smooth Stone!

This morning as I was walking in the crisp morning air along a one-lane country road my mind was drifting here and there.  To be quite honest, I was kind of feeling a little sorry for myself.  I thought of all the people who contact me day by day for help with detoxing or other health and spiritual issues, and of how few express any real gratitude and how even fewer offer to support our labors financially.  Like the nine lepers of Luke 17, maybe one in ten shows any real sign of thankfulness.  I pondered the old phrase, “what’s the use?” for a few minutes.  Then the gentle quietness of nature seemed to vie for my attention and finally I stopped and just listened for a bit–soaking up the peace.  The birds, the crickets, the soft breeze in the walnut grove by the creek all captured my thoughts completely.  And then I heard that still, small voice I’m sure we’ve all heard.  You know what I heard?  Many of you have heard it before, and it was a phrase coined by the late missionary, Jim Elliot.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

“Wow, Lord!”, I thought, “You sure know how to turn my thoughts to what’s real.”   Investment in heaven cannot rust or be stolen!!  It will all be worth it–here and now as well as in eternity.  

So often I become myopic in my daily life and in labors for others.  I see what is only right before me–the physical evidence.  But faith is not based on evidence.  (Hebrews 11).  God is enthroned above it all, and the wheel within the wheel is uncomplicated to Him.  (Ezekiel 1:16).  “Sow beside all waters”, we’re told.  “Thank You, Lord”, I quietly breathed, as I headed out on my walk again.

Needless to say, the rest of my morning walk had a different focus.  This time my thought went to the Bible story of David and Goliath.  Sometimes it seems the needs and sheer amount of labor needed in “the cause of God” (which sometimes is my cause) looms before me like a mammoth Goliath.  As I walked, my thoughts developed…and my heart began to bow.

“Lord”, I said, “I have been trying to fit into Saul’s armor, haven’t I?”  Yes, and in many unintentional and undetected ways too!  God help me.  Consider this: 

“Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning. There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God, to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world. God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness.”—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 300  

“Simple means…”  Perhaps as simple as a sling and a smooth stone, whatever that may look like in my circumstances or yours.  My heart is refreshed this morning.  Energized by a renewed sense of my nothingness and the “everythingness” of God.  My part is vital and can have a huge impact.  But the work is the Lord’s.

“When churches are revived, it is because some individual seeks earnestly for the blessing of God. He hungers and thirsts after God, and asks in faith, and receives accordingly. He goes to work in earnest, feeling his great dependence upon the Lord, and souls are aroused to seek for a like blessing, and a season of refreshing falls on the hearts of men. The extensive work will not be neglected. The larger plans will be laid at the right time; but personal, individual effort and interest for your friends and neighbors, will accomplish much more than can be estimated. It is for the want of this kind of labor that souls for whom Christ died are perishing.” Christian Service, page 121 

Friends, as you look around at the needs of the work, the issues in the church and the world, and your own needs, cast off Saul’s armor.  Look around for your “sling and stone.”  With self humbled, surrendered and listening for marching orders, God wants to do something amazing in our lives!   You and I can be that one individual who earnestly seeks the blessing of God for effectiveness.  “Goliath” needs to go, and I am only a vessel.  The work is the Lord’s.  It’s time to sharpen our aim–or better yet, let the Lord “smooth us out”, for when the Lord directs, the stone shall accomplish its task. 

To Be Quite Honest…

To Be Quite Honest…

For anyone who spends much time in the woods, mushrooms are a fairly common sight. And if you happen to be among the growing group of individuals who enjoy foraging wild mushrooms, you recognize the importance of an accurate identification. An error could leave one quite ill, or worse, dead. And in the mushroom world, look-a-likes are common.

The Lovely Chanterelle

While foraging for mushrooms on a private farm recently, my husband and I stumbled upon what I consider to be a huge patch of delectable Chanterelle mushrooms. Dozens of cheerful little orange faces peeped through the leaf litter as if to say, “Peek-a-boo! Here I am!!” It was very exciting to find one, then a small cluster, then two here and there. And then I looked up and saw off in the woods a bit a huge patch of orange–large and bold. Could it be?

“KALON!! Come quick!!!!”, I yelled, as I hurried to the site. I thought I’d found the much-coveted “Chicken of the Woods”, or Sulphur Shelf mushroom. Being in an oak dominated forest, the setting was perfect, so my assumption was logical. But as I approached the glowing mass my heart sank. What I’d found was a large specimen of a poisonous Chanterelle look-a-like known as the Jack O’Lantern. And it definitely does a fair job at imitating!

Both Chanterelles and the “Jack” mushrooms share the bright orange color. Both of them like oak (or hardwood) dominated forests. Both have what appears to be “decurrent gills”, meaning the gills run part way down the stalk. They also share the same growing season. But there are some dead-ringer ways to tell the difference between the two.

  1. While the Chanterelle appears to have gills, they are actually folds; the poison Jack O’Lantern has true gills.
  2. While the Chanterelle lives in a mycorrhizal relationship with the oaks, meaning it grows on the forest floor, the Jack is what’s known as saprophytic, meaning it grows directly on wood.
  3. While the Chanterelle is typically a smaller mushroom, the Jack can grow quite large.
Jack O’Lantern
See how large the Jack O’Lantern is?

What does this have to do with us? As Christians, we may put on a fair show of being genuine. But the Bible has a rule by which we must measure ourselves. That rule is found in Isaiah 8:20, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, [it is] because [there is] no light in them.”

Perhaps I consider myself to be an honest, truth-telling soul. I hang out with Christians, go to church, dress right, eat right, etc. But am I thoroughly honest? Let me give you an example of what I mean.

I had a friend once who would come visit about weekly. I would throw up my Southern (as in hospitality) hand as she would leave and say, “Yeah, I’ll come visit sometime!”, but I never did. I would sometimes even say more specifically, “Yeah, I’ll stop in tomorrow sometime!”. Little did I know that she would wait, looking out the window off an on all day. Finally she confronted me and (very gently) assured me that it is dishonest to say you’d come for a visit and never show!

Maybe some would think her perceptions were too narrow or extreme, but were they really? Think again of the passage above from Isaiah 8:20. What does “to the law” mean? Buried within the heart of God’s law is “thou shalt not bear false witness”. To say I’d do something and never do it was dishonest. Granted, I never REALLY had any intention of going to visit my friend. It was just the “polite” thing to say, and that’s the way I grew up! We’d always say, “Y’all come see us!”, to which we would hear a dutiful response, “Yeah, we’ll do it!” In all honesty…that is not true!

I looked up some words as I pondered these things. Consider these:

Prevarication–speaking or acting in an evasive manner. A false or deliberate misstatement; a lie.

Equivocation–allowing the possibility of several different meanings, as a word or phrase, especially with intent to deceive or misguide; susceptible of double interpretation; deliberately ambiguous.

Ambiguous–open to or having several possible meanings or interpretations; equivocal.

Guile–insidious cunning in attaining a goal; crafty or artful deception; duplicity.

Duplicity–deceitfulness in speech or conduct, as by speaking or acting in two different ways to different people concerning the same matter; double-dealing.

Dissimulate–to conceal one’s true motives, thoughts, etc., by some pretense; speak or act hypocritically. to disguise or conceal under a false appearance.

Discreet–judicious in one’s conduct or speech, especially with regard to respecting privacy or maintaining silence about something of a delicate nature; prudent; circumspect.

As I pondered these words and reflected on my life, I had to bow my head before the Lord and pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart, and see if there be any wicked way in ME!!!” Psalm 139:23. It can be pretty easy to speak other than straightforward truth! To speak anything but the straightforward, honest truth, is a lie. And no liar shall enter the kingdom of God.

Psalm 34:13 “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.” Duplicity–any deceit in my thoughts or speech–is guile. In this practice, Christ never once participated, as it says in 2 Peter 2:22 “…Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his (Jesus’s) mouth:” Of those who have a right to enter heaven it will be said, “And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Revelation 14:5

Take some time this week, (month and year) to ponder the definitions above, comparing them with your life and speech. But more importantly, compare your life and speech with the standard found in the Word of God. How do you measure up? If your thoughts are like mine when my friend confronted me, you may pride yourself in your honesty and be offended. But I encourage you to pray the prayer from Psalm 139:23,24. We cannot afford to miss heaven over our supposed honesty, so may the Lord bless us with clear-headed, Holy Spirit guided thinking in this matter. Blessings, friends!