Monday, October 31, 2011

Reformation Fun

This is very light-hearted but fun for Reformation Day!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Heart Stress Test

Dear Lord ...
Forgive our fev'rish ways! ... Drop Thy still dews of quietness till all our strivings cease; Take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered (structured) lives confess the beauty of Thy peace!

Jesus, guard my heart today from striving, strain and stress and help to show You to the watching world!

Wedding, Cracked Bottles and Patched Jeans

Children's Page for today at A Restoration Church, Pittsburgh

Weddings, Cracked Bottles and Patched Jeans Mark 2:18-22
18 The disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees made a practice of fasting. Some people confronted Jesus: "Why do the followers of John and the Pharisees take on the discipline of fasting, but your followers don't?"
19 Jesus said, "When you're celebrating a wedding, you don't skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but not now. As long as the bride and groom are with you, you have a good time.”

20 No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. This is Kingdom Come!"

21 He went on, "No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match.

22 And you don't put your wine in cracked bottles."

The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus the King has come. His Kingdom is forever and He invites you and me to be part of His forever family. All we have to do is trust Him to save us from our sins! He does all the work! We just have to love Him first and best! That’s easy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hope for the Broken Hearted

Hope For The Broken Hearted
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecc might not see what he's doing now, but he is taking your heartache & pain and using it to make something incredibly beautiful.Someday it will be revealed & you will be in awe of the beauty he has made from the ashes!

This is beautiful and from my friend Debbie Kay of Hope for the Broken Hearted Ministry. Thanks, Debbie!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Grace for the Heart

If your principal heart motivation is awe of God and not awe of you, you know that grace has visited you. --Paul Tripp

Food for My Heart!

He is capable beyond our imagination loving beyond our deserving faithful beyond our weakness & gracious beyond our limits!
--Jack Hayford

AWESOME! Lord, help me live in this truth today! I just ate breakfast. This is food for my heart!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Foundational Grace 4 Your Heart!

There are disastrous consequences of not having the heart established in grace.
-- C. H. Mackintosh, tweeted by Tullian Tchividjian

Monday, October 24, 2011

Heart Comfort

Oh, that I might comfort some of my Master’s servants. I have written out of my own heart with the view of comforting their hearts. I would say to them in their trials—My brethren, God is good. He will not forsake you: He will bear you through.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Two-faced Heart

O spare us this rebuke today: "This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me."(Matthew 15:8). -- John Piper
How's it working out for you - the lip thing vs. the heart location? Certainly something to think about especially on the day of worship - the Lord's Day!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Hurt Heart

Your sadness may not be a sign of weak faith, but growing faith.
People who love well, in time, will hurt in the heart. --Scotty Smith

Friday, October 21, 2011

Loyal Heart!

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." --2 Chronicles 16:9a

God Always Meets Us Where We Are!

God watches and listens for the cries of the righteous. (2 Chron. 16:9a) God delivers the righteous from their pain and trouble - pain and trouble that come through His nail pierced hands. God is close to the broken hearted and saves those whose spirits are crushed. God always meets us where we are when we call to Him, regardless of our feelings.
-- adapted from When God Weeps, Joni Eareckson Tada

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Healing for My Heart!

It is to those that fear His name His healing power the Savior brings;
O, let us hide with contrite hearts beneath His healing wings.
Beneath those healing wings I rest, while all my heart with rapture sings:
The Son of Righteousness has risen with healing in His wings.
-- Albert B. Simpson, "To Those Who Fear Jehovah's Name"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Heart Satisfaction

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless, satisfies my heart.
Satisfies its deepest longings, meets, supplies its ev'ry need.
Compasseth me round with blessings: Thine is love indeed!
-- Jean Sophia Pigott

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Steady Heart

My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.
-- Psalm 57:7, NIV

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Being Real Comes fom Deep in the Heart!

One of my favorite stories is The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It's the fanciful tale of toys in a nursery talking and relating to each other. BUT it's so much more! It's a wonderful parable of life - particularly for a Christian. It's all about being REAL! What is more real than living to "look like Jesus" to the watching world? If that's not real, then it's not the real thing!

Here's my favorite section from The Velveteen Rabbit:

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.

Being real?! Yes, it does hurt! Sometimes it hurts a lot!
Being real?! Yes, sometimes I do mind - to be perfectly truthful - 'cause it hurts - sometimes it hurts a lot!
Being real?! Yes, it takes a long, long time!
Being real?! Yes, it's hard because it is risky! Being real isn't for the faint of heart! Being real truly isn't for people who break easily or who have sharp edges or who have to be carefully kept!

Being real?! Yes, it's true - by the time you get to really be real, you - much like the skin horse - are old and bald in patches with seams showing and most of the hairs in your tail pulled out to string bead necklaces or something. You are also - most probably - loose in the joints and very shabby! It costs to be real!

But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand. Well, that may be true in the nursery when Nana isn't around but in life it's a bit different:

In life it's hard for it not to matter when people don't understand!

In life it's hard to grow old and ugly and be misunderstood after all that!

In the story, the frisky little rabbit looks at the old, worn-out skin horse and blithely says, I suppose you are real? And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

In life it's hard to smile when others don't understand! Sometimes we have to ask God to draw a smile from deep in our hearts.

In the story the Skin Horse is real so he smiles and isn't sensitive at all. In life it's often a bit more complicated because being real in life is more than a story. It's a lifetime of living and loving and getting your hair loved off and getting loose in the joints and very shabby! In life it really costs to be real! AND it's hard not to be sensitive. It is also hard to smile sometimes but you know you are REAL if you can still smile and not be too sensitive!

The truth is that Jesus came because He is the most REAL anyone can ever be. He really, really "got all his hair loved off and loose in the joints and very shabby" as He literally put on our skin and moved into our neighborhood. (John 1:14, The Message) He calls those who bear His name to follow Him in the process of becoming real and being real in a world where real is very, very hard to find!

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Skipping Heart

Martin Luther wrote, "As long as we live there is never enough singing.”
I am neither a singer nor a dancer. Almost anyone is better at these two exercises than I am. That's just the way it is!
When I was in kindergarten I lived through the worse "academic" challenge of my career in learning and education. I have a "disability" and it was at screaming alert when I was 5.
Here's the deal: I am not very coordinated. Simply put, "grace" is NOT my middle name. Therefore I have never learned to skip - to dance with that hitched step and little bounce.
That's when the REAL trouble started! The teacher counted skipping at the top of "academic" achievement for kindergarten. So I was sunk!
I spent part of almost every day sitting on the steps to the upstairs in the teacher's house so I could contemplate my skipping and learn how to skip "better" or at all. It was a traumatic, terrible time!
I still can't skip all these many decades later! I'm okay with that! I'm also convinced that skipping (or not) can contribut absolutely NOTHING of relevance to my life! "To [skip] or not to [skip] is not the question." What really counts for time and eternity is not skipping! What counts is "faith expressing itself in love"! (Gal. 5:6) What counts is whether my heart can sing and dance AND skip as my faith expresses itself in love!
Lord Jesus, help me to live this day skipping, dancing and singing as I express my faith in love!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Pain - the GIFT Nobody Wants"!

Joni Eareckson Tada writes in her daily devotional today words that speak far more eloquently than I ever could. She speaks with practical and moral authority on the issue of pain. It has been the daily companion who has danced with her for over 40 years!

After more than four decades of permanent paralysis, I can attest that only a daily, hourly, even momentary placing of our throbbing into his strong hands can protect us from the crippling ravages of fear. There are countless "fear nots" in scripture, each one of them covering the whole spectrum of human experience. Every "fear not" can be embraced and impressed on our hearts and repeated in the presence of our adversary. Then we will press to our hearts this poem by Miss Margaret Clarkson, a woman who was bedridden for years with chronic pain...

Lord Jesus, King of pain, Thy subject I;
Thy right it is to reign:
Oh, hear my cry, and bid in me all longings cease;
Save for Thy holy will's increase.

Thy right it is to reign O'er all Thine own;
Then, if Thy love send pain, find there Thy throne,
And help me bear it unto Thee,
Who didst bear death and hell for me.

Lord Jesus, King of pain, my heart's adored,
Teach me eternal gain is love's reward:
In Thee I hide me; hold me still
Till pain work all Thy perfect will.[1]

When I struggle with pain, dear Lord, teach me to wait on Thee and remember the example of Jesus, the King of Pain.

Wherever the hours of this day may fall for you, seek Him who truly is the King of Pain! He will dance with you through all the hours and days and years of pain! He is the Partner Who never stops dancing and Who will carry you when your feet and heart can no longer keep dancing!

[1] E. Margaret Clarkson, "In Pain," Grace Grows Best in Winter, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI), pg. 54.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Go Ahead! It's Okay to Cry!

Where does your heart hurt today? How does your heart hurt today? Why does your heart hurt today?
Maybe you don't have answers to so many questions - especially so early in the day!
My heart hurt a few days ago. I was mad. I was sad. I was hurt. I don't cry but I cried as I sat at my computer and tried to answer a email that should ever have been sent. I sat at my computer trying to compose a response that didn't respond in kind. It took a long time of thinking and praying.
Now emails are not the BIG stuff! There's lots more to cry over in life. My question is: Why are we so scared to cry? Isn't the answer that we don't want to be weak or appear weak so we try to "stuff" the tears?
How about this crayoned note: Crying doesn't indicate that you're weak. Since birth it has been a sign that you're alive.
God values our tears. He says he counts every tear. He promises to wipe every tear away on the coming day of restoration! We won't have tear ducts in heaven. We won't need them.
BUT for here and now, we cry. AND our tears show we are alive! Our tears show that our hearts are alive! So, it's okay! It's okay to cry sometimes! Just don't stay stuck in "pity pot" mode! God counts and cares about each and every tear!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

That "Someone Done Me Wrong" Song

Is there hope for a broken heart?

Are you singing the "someone done me wrong song" blues today? Perhaps you have received a blame-shifting apology from the offender .............. or a curt or stiff apology ............. or worse, an arrogant "walk-away." Because I've been there and done that, my guess is your heart is still broken and bruised and you don't even know what to do with all that.

A stiff apology is a second insult... The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.
-- G. K. Chesterton

So you have a choice: nurse your brokenness and hurt until it eats you up from the inside out OR ask God to somehow work in that other heart to change him or her and bring real repentance and restorating grace to both your hearts!

Monday, October 10, 2011

He is the God of wholeness and restoration. ~ Stormie Omartian

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Some Good Heart Advice for Preachers!

"Preach to broken hearts, for they sit in every pew" (or row of chairs!) CH Spurgeon via tweet by Scotty Smith

Hope you get to hear that kind of sermon today! Have a blessed day and spend some of it worshipping the One who loves you more than you will ever know. He cares about every pain and sorrow that has broken your heart!
"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful … that's what matters to me."
-- Steve Jobs, quoted in Wall Street Journal 1993
Steve Jobs certainly left a huge footprint on our culture in technological advances. He was a man of vision and principle apparently who marched ahead of his time, dreamed big dreams and knew how to put those dreams into production.
Steve Jobs was also a self-professed Buddhist. He had a paradigm for living - like the above quote - that is certainly note-worthy.
But what a tragedy that for all his contributions to our culture and the world at large, he didn't know Jesus!
Steve Jobs followed the road of life until that road came to a crossroad. He did (to use the words of Carl Sandburg) choose "the road less traveled by" but because he didn't choose Jesus he probably did his best work to count for this life and not for eternity.
Whether it's Steve Jobs or me doesn't matter when it comes to eternity. What matters is the affair of the heart that seeks Jesus and loves Him first and best! That's all that matters in the end!
Actually the richest man (or woman or child) in any cemetery is the one who loved and served Jesus!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Heart Motrivation

Our activities honor God only if they are done from hearts that glorify God above those activities.
--John Piper

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Heart's Ready to Forgive, Lord! Don't ask that of me!

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.
--Corrie Ten Boom

You and I can intentionally decide to forgive and still be struggling with what that needs to be and look like.
You and I can intentionally decide to forgive while we're still working through the pain and hurt.
You and I can intentionally decide to forgive even when we didn't deserve what happened and hate the consequences and the fall-out.

Corrie Ten Boom lived that principal out in a most challenging way when she met up - years after she was liberated from Ravensbrook Concentration Camp - with one of the sadistic Nazi guards from Ravensbrook. He came to hear her speak and then came to shake her hand after. She wasn't "ready" to forgive but by a determination of her will she found God's grace sufficient to allow her hand to reach out to grasp the hand of her former enemy who needed SO MUCH forgiveness! Her heart wasn't yet ready to forgive him; but her God was BIG ENOUGH to give her the grace to step out in faith to forgive!
That same grace is still alive and well and accessible for you and me!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Heart Trouble

Your sadness may not be a sign of weak faith, but growing faith. People who love well, in time, will hurt in the heart.
--Scotty Smith

Every time I swear I will guard my heart next time. But I can't help myself ... God calls me to love well and gives me the strength for Him to love a lonely, hurting world through my hands and feet. He gives strength when I am weak! He is the Balm of Gilead for my own hurting heart!
Once long ago when I was about three years old I sat at the dinner table at my grandmother's house. The adults were discussing my grandmother's recent diagnosis of "heart trouble." I listened intently and finally piped up, "Grandmother, don't you know the Bible says, 'Don't let your heart be troubled?' "
In the simplicity of my 3-year-old mind it seemed so simple and IT IS! "Don't let your heart be troubled! You believe in God; believe also in Me." (John 14:1)

Amazing Grace!

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found - was blind but now I see!
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved!
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!
--John Newton

Monday, October 3, 2011

Forgiving from the Heart

We live in a very broken world! We are irreparably damaged and broken! Some of us contain the damage so it's less obvious but no less real!
Part of that brokenness is the damage sinners do to one another. Sometimes that damage is irreversible and beyond repair!
The only response for a believer whose heart has been changed by the love of Jesus is forgiveness! That's tough - sometimes so painful as to be beyond bearing BUT no less encumbant upon our hearts per God's requirement.

Forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness.
--Tim Keller

I'm preaching to my own heart here: When forgiveness is almost beyond bearing to grant, we must - if not for the sake of the one who has done such desperate damage - we MUST forgive for the sake of the One who died that we might be forgiven!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A "Gospel Heart"

I want to be stunned by the Gospel today heart-deep! Then - by God's grace - I want Him to make me "stunning" as I walk the "Gospel path" with Him before the watching world!