Stoop, young man, stoop

“For pride is spiritual cancer; it eats up the very possibility of love or contentment, or even common sense.” ~ C.S. Lewis Benjamin Franklin was a guest for dinner at the home of a friend one evening when his host offered to show him his library. Passing through a very narrow hallway, he yelled back at Franklin, “Stoop! Stoop!” Unfortunately, Benjamin Franklin didn’t understand what he meant and hit his head on a low beam. His gracious host didn’t let the opportunity go to waste and said, “Let this be a caution to you not always to hold your head so high. Stoop, young man, stoop – as you go through this world – and you’ll miss many hard thumps.” Years later, Franklin recounted that he never had forgotten that night, the bump on the head or the good counsel that went along with it. “This advice, thus beat into my head, has frequently been of use to me, and I often think of it when I see pride mortified and misfortunes brought upon people by carrying their heads too high.” One of our most famous forefathers learned a valuable lesson, from a very real and painful experience, about a pitfall that all of us come up against at some time or another in our life: Pride. There are all kinds of pride: we take pride in our appearance, we are proud to be citizens of our great country, our hearts swell with pride when our children excel — and those are just a few examples of “good pride.” Our official dictionary definition (can you have a blog post...

When trials seem pointless

  The story is told of an elderly lady who was in a bad accident but survived with a broken bone and a few bruises. Frustrated, worn out and weary of the handicap, she lamented to her friend who was visiting her, “I don’t understand why this had to happen. I don’t see any good coming from it at all!” The friend gently replied, “Romans 8:28 doesn’t say that we SEE all things working together for good, it says that we KNOW it.” If we only lived by what we could see — what we were sure of and understood on our own — there would be no need for faith! Faith is total surrender, total trust in God and His Word even when we don’t understand and when our situation seems hopeless. We have all experienced difficult situations in our lives that seemed to bring no glory whatsoever to God, caused nothing but heartache in our family and seemed to zap every bit of courage we had in us. But we cannot see the big picture; we don’t see what is going on behind the curtain. Only God does.“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” There are many ways a difficulty or trial can work together for good in the life of a child of God. It may be that it strengthens you, causes you to go to your knees, to depend on God, to look to Him for your answers instead of trying to be the hero. Perhaps it...

Why God calls us to do the hard things

The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly receives all the publicity. ~ Unknown I’ve been fascinated by the butterfly lately (or the flutter-by, as I used to refer to it when My Three Sons were little). Maybe you have heard the story of the young man who found a cocoon and sat down to watch the butterfly emerge. He could see the creature through the thin, silk-like material of the shell trying to break free, but to the young man, it seemed as if it were taking too long. The butterfly had worked and worked and didn’t seem to be making much progress, even after a couple of hours. He decided to help it along. He took out his Eagle Scout pocket knife with scissors (talk about being prepared) and cut an opening for the struggling insect. Immediately, the butterfly hobbled out, but its wings were wet and its body was swollen. The young man thought that, with a little time, the swelling would go down, the wings would dry and it would fly off like any other butterfly. But it never did. It spent the rest of its pitiful life in that shape for one reason: it needed to go through the struggle! Even though it seemed as if the butterfly was not making any progress, it was slowly getting rid of the liquid in his body. A caterpillar turns to all liquid before it morphs into a butterfly! During the struggle to exit the cocoon, it gets rid of that fluid, and while fighting to get free, it becomes strong and ready to fly. Look...

We imitate them so closely…

The greatest joys and hopes are soon turned into the greatest griefs and fears with those that live by sense only, and not by faith. ~ Matthew Henry “When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and charioteers rushed into the sea, the Lord brought the water crashing down on them. But the people of Israel had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground! Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced.” Exodus 15:19, 20 NLT. Victory! The Lord had triumphed over the Egyptians by swallowing them up in the Red Sea. The Israelites had finally been delivered from captivity and they were now FREE. They recuperated a couple of days on the banks of the sea and then Moses began to lead: “Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. They traveled in this desert for three days without finding any water. When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called the place Marah (which means ‘bitter’). “Then the people complained and turned against Moses. ‘What are we going to drink?’” Exodus 15:22-24 Three days. Three days from the time they left the Red Sea until they were complaining. Naturally they were thirsty. They would have likely traveled about 12-15 miles per day: not only did the people need water, but so did their livestock. But hadn’t they just witnessed a supernatural miracle? Had they not just seen the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob part...

Choking on worry

“Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.”—Swedish Proverb **(As always, please, if you are experiencing an anxiety disorder, or any other mental illness or issue, please seek trusted, professional medical care. ICDevos understands that mental health issues are real and may require additional medical support, treatment and/or counseling.) It is said that at least one in four of us, that’s over 65 million Americans, will experience anxiety disorder some time in our life. One in four! That’s a whole lot of anxious people filled with fear, worry, doubt and distress. And the other three might not have a panic attack, but you can rest assured they are worriers. Do your “What ifs” control your life? Are you scared of every shadow, every possibility and every sense of dread known to man? Do you get up with worry, carry worry all day long and, since it’s been with you for the majority of the day, do you decide to just take it to bed with you again every night? Did you know the Old English origin of the word worry meant to strangle? Even to wring, annoy, bother and vex were some of the earliest versions of the word. And in 1804, it was defined as anxiety arising from cares and troubles. Worry can choke the life right out of a Christian, leaving them crippled with fear and anxiety. Is worrying a sin? The Bible doesn’t come right out and specifically say so but if we search scripture we will find that worrying is a clear indication that we are not trusting God with our problems. Then, we allow Satan a...

When we jump to conclusions

“And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.’”Acts 16:27, 28. Have you heard the story of Paul and Silas in the prison? They were two apostles called by Jesus to spread the Gospel, but along the way they got into a bit of trouble and were arrested. The Romans were pretty upset that these Jews were ruffling feathers by preaching in the name of Jesus and not observing the customs of the Romans. Particularly, they had just cast a demon spirit out of a slave girl who had the power of divination, or fortune telling. She had been following Paul and Silas for days, continually bothering and mocking . Weary of it, they finally told the spirit to come out of her. This made those that owned her very upset because they no longer had an income. So they took hold of the two apostles and put them into prison, made sure they were beaten with rods many times and then securely put their feet in stocks. Now the cool thing about this story is the escape. But Paul and Silas were not planning one. But they were praying, maybe for their safety, maybe because they were in pain, maybe just because they couldn’t sleep. Whatever the reason, the Bible says the other prisoners were listening to them when they prayed. It doesn’t just say they heard them, it says they were...

Oh, what a happy soul am I!

Francis Jane Crosby was the author of over 9,000 hymns. Did you know she wrote so many that she began using pen names so that the hymnals would not be filled with her name alone? Beautiful hymns such as: Blessed Assurance Safe in the Arms of Jesus All the Way My Savior Leads Me Rescue the Perishing Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross Born in New York, Fanny was ill almost from the beginning. Their family’s regular doctor was out of town and another man, who claimed to be a doctor, prescribed hot mustard compresses to her eyes. She got over the sickness but the treatment left her blind. Blindness didn’t deter her from her love of life and her love for the Word of God. She memorized scripture every day, five chapters a week! Fanny loved poetry and wrote her first verse at the age of eight: Oh what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see. I am resolved that in this world, Contented I will be. How many blessings I enjoy That other people don’t. To weep and sigh because I’m blind? I cannot and I won’t! The Apostle Paul was also one to be acquainted with grief. He had lived through many, many persecutions. Most of them were physical. “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own...

Our trials Are NOT Our End

“It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” Psalm 119:71. It was good for me. Affliction is good for me? Trials are good for me? Tests and temptations are good for me? Why? That I might learn. That I might grow. That I might serve. The Scottish minister, James Stewart, profoundly stated, “In love’s service, only the wounded soldiers can serve.” The wounded soldier has felt pain, he has been hurt, suffered, maybe even had to crawl out of a hole to get back on his feet. He has had to dodge enemy fire; he had to keep getting back up, time and time again. But he does. Psalm 147:3. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” It doesn’t matter what caused the broken heart or how the injury got there, God is ready to heal us of our wounds so we can move on and help someone else. Psalm 51:17. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” He sees our broken heart and spirit and that is just what He needs to work with and work through! “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.” Deuteronomy 32:39. Our trials are not our end. The scripture doesn’t mean we will not experience difficulty or even suffer in this life. We will! He did! But He promised...

When the patient knows better than the healer

Have you heard of the Abana and Pharpar syndrome? Naaman had it. He originated it, all because he did not want to humble himself. Naaman was a “captain of the host of the king of Syria” and the Bible says he was a great man, honorable and a mighty man of valor. But he was a leper. Naaman’s wife had a “little maid” who was taken captive out of Israel, and she was sympathetic toward her master and his condition. She told Naaman’s wife that if he were with the prophet in Samaria, he would be able to heal him of his leprosy. She was confident of the power of God and confident in the man of God! Naaman  eventually made his way to the house of Elisha the prophet. Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman and told him to “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.” Sounds simple enough, right? Not for Naaman… “Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.” 2 Kings 5:11. This infuriated Naaman. He wanted pomp and fanfare to go along with his healing! “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.”  2 Kings 5:12. Abana and Pharpar were rivers that were closer to home and much cleaner than the muddy,...

Don’t give them a second thought

Mesmerized. That’s how I describe my fascination with Joshua, the son of Nun. This man was encouraged time and time again by God to be courageous and without fear. “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9. “And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed…” Joshua 8:1. Armed with that kind of courage, Joshua gathered forces to help the people of Gibeon in Joshua 10. The Gibeonites had made a treaty with Israel, and because of that alliance, when the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon joined forces to attack Gibeon,  Gibeon sent word to Joshua for help. Joshua didn’t just send a token group of fighting men. He marched with his entire army to defeat the five kings. “The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” The Message version takes a little liberty here, but I like the possibilities. “God told him, “Don’t give them a second thought. I’ve put them under your thumb—not one of them will stand up to you.” Joshua was able to take them by surprise because the Lord brought confusion to the enemy. As they were running away from the Israelites the Bible says, “…the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.” But it’s the next part that is so unbelievable it had to be God. “On the day the Lord gave the...