Thursday, June 30, 2016

Running Away!

When I was a teenager, I had a tendency to want to run away from my problems instead of facing them.

Many times my mother warned me, "You can't run away from yourself."

That is probably one of the wisest things she ever told me. Even now, when I feel like running away from something, her words still ring in my ears.

I know now that if I try to run away, I will find myself facing the same problems again, sooner or later, until I face myself and resolve them.

A corollary to "you can't run away from yourself" is, "You can run, but you can't hide."

You may try. You may even hide from yourself. But you can't hide from God!

In one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 139, David describes it this way:


Why don't you read the entire psalm. In beautiful word pictures, David says that God knows our routines (vv. 2-3); our thoughts (vv.2, 4); in fact, He knows everything about us (v. 5).

Did you know that God loves us so much He can't take His eyes off of us?

Many people find it disconcerting to think that God knows them so well, but David found it comforting. Instead of running away from God, David ran to God. That's what we need to do too--run to God.

Socrates said, "Know thyself."

Psalm 139 goes even further. David writes that God knows us even better than we know ourselves. 

The psalmist's response is:


David invites God to search his heart, identify anything in him that offends God, and guide him in the way that leads to everlasting life.

Jeremiah also realized that "the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked" (17:9). "Who can know it?" he asks. Like David, he invites God to search his heart and test his mind.

Have you invited God to search your heart today? 

If you enjoyed this post and would like to receive an e-mail when I publish new posts, I invite you to complete the coupon at the right.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Taming the Tongue

Once again, reports of terrible heat- and wind-driven fires in the Southwest have filled the news. The devastation is far-reaching.

Have you ever built a fire? What happens when you blow on the tiny spark? It quickly grows and ignites the kindling.

Imagine the hot breath of the Santa Ana winds catching a spark in that hot, arid landscape and fanning it into a raging inferno. That is the picture the Apostle James paints in words:

"And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. It can turn the entire course of your life into a blazing flame of destruction, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals....but no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison....Blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth....That is not right!" James 3:6-10, NLT).

James also compares the tongue to a horse's bridle and to the rudder of a ship. He writes that we can use a bridle to make a horse obey us, and with a small rudder, the pilot of a large ship can control its movements. But the tongue, even though it is a tiny member of the body, is uncontrollable, like the tiny spark that can cause a raging forest fire.

What, then, can we do to resolve such a fearsome dilemma?

We must allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our tongue. Only He can tame it and bring it under control. Only then can we fulfill the advice of the wise one who penned the Proverbs:

Courtesy Google

Like water that quenches fire, when the Holy Spirit controls our tongue, we can answer with a gentle response that puts out the anger that can so easily erupt into temper,

While growing up, my godly grandmother suffered harsh treatment at the hands of her father. When she left home to become a missionary, he disowned and disinherited her. For many years, she was not allowed to visit her family home. Yet, she never talked about any of the details. When I was writing the story of her life in my book, Frontiers of Faith, I asked her why. She said,

"What you talk about gets into your spirit." 

She had learned to allow the Holy Spirit to control her tongue.

I love this quote I found on the Internet:

"Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out." 

Sounds like good advice.

Who controls your tongue?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Shifting Sands of Feelings

This past Saturday, my husband and I attended the wedding of our eldest grandson. What a memorable occasion as they exchanged their vows in one of the sweetest ceremonies I've ever witnessed.

Of course, a lot was said about love. And the minister, the bride's father, read aloud the greatest discourse on love ever written, 1 Corinthians 13, which clearly states, contrary to popular belief, that love is NOT a feeling.

Many couples head to the divorce court because they don't feel "in love" anymore. If love is not a feeling, what is it?

Love is an act of the will. 

Love's presence is shown by our loving actions, not by our feelings of infatuation. 

Love is a commitment.

Love desires the best for another and is willing to sacrifice self for the well being of the one loved.

Many people believe that just because they feel a certain way about something, it must be true. But the truth is, feelings are not facts. Feelings are just feelings. In fact, feelings are are as changeable as the weather and just as hard to predict. They can often result from unrealistic thinking.

Unfortunately, many Americans are governed largely by their feelings. How many times do we hear, "If it feels good, do it"? Or, "Will it make me happy." That is the message of every advertisement and many movies.

Using feelings as the criteria for decision-making is usually disastrous. For example, when your alarm goes off in the morning, do you feel like getting up? If you depended solely on your feelings, you would soon lose your job. Decisions must be based on facts.

We don't always feel like loving, but when we act in loving ways, the feelings will follow.

When it comes to our relationship with God, how often do we focus entirely on feelings? We say,
"I don't feel forgiven." Or, "I don't feel God's presence."

Because we don't feel a certain way, we fail to recognize God's presence or His forgiveness.

According to 2 Corinthians 5:7,
Our faith is based not on what we see with our eyes or feel in our hearts, but on the facts we read in God's Word. God has promised to be with us always (Matthew 28:20). God says if we confess our sins, he will forgive us (1 John 1:9). We can depend on those facts.

The writer of Hebrews points out that "without faith, it is impossible to please God" (11:6). What is faith? It is taking God at His word that He exists and believing that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. It is not based on our feelings but on God's statements of facts.

Feelings add richness to our lives. They certainly should be considered in decision-making, but they should not be the sole basis for our choices.

Don't build your life on the shifting sands of your feelings but on the solid facts of God's unchanging Word!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Come Wind and High Water

In the 1930s, while my grandparents, Charles and Florence Personeus, were pastoring the Assemblies of God church they'd pioneered in Juneau, Alaska, a young mother who was dying of an incurable kidney disease, began attending. Helen Johnson had already had one diseased kidney removed, and the other was infected too. The doctors gave her six month to live.

Helen loved children but had only been able to have one little girl of her own. Seeing all the dirty, neglected children on the streets of Juneau, she complained to God, "I wanted my child, and You are going to take me from her. It's not fair!"

The Lord spoke to her heart, "Open your home to those neglected children."

"All right, Lord. You know I'm dying, but if that's what You want me to do, I'll do it."

Her husband, Lyle, not yet a believer, agreed to help her.

Helen Johnson is shown at right front holding little girl on her lap.

At church, Helen learned about the Lord, our Healer. In answer to prayer according to James 5:14, 15, she was completely healed. The home she opened and operated for many years became known as the Juneau Children's Home. When she died 40 years later, her one kidney was still functioning perfectly. (The rest of the story is in my book, Frontiers of Faith.)

The first girl the Johnsons took into their home was Lillian Lorraine Lehtosaari. Her mother had died, and Lillian, though young, had been a dancer and performer with her father. When he tried to commit suicide, she went to live with the Johnsons.

Lillian remained with them until she left for Bible school, where she met and married Alvin E. Capener. For many years, they ministered among the Eskimos and Aleuts in Alaska, building churches in Nome, Barrow, and on Saint Paul Island, one of the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea. The Capeners were longtime friends of my family.

In 1975, the Capeners visited me when I was working as an editorial assistant for youth magazines at the Headquarters of the Assemblies of God in Springfield, Missouri. They shared this testimony, which I wrote up for publication in Youth Alive:

Off the western coast of Alaska, Saint Paul Island is the summer home and mating grounds for the fur seal. At that time, the U.S. government operated the multi-million dollar seal industry. Since the government owned the land, the Capeners were not allowed to purchase land for the mission. Instead, the government assigned them a lot on a use permit. This lot was in a low-lying area of the barren, treeless island that had been formed by several "extinct" volcanoes.

On Christmas Day, 1966, 90-mile-an-hour winds pumped unusually high tides into low-lying areas above the beach line on Saint Paul Island, flooding the Capeners' mission station and their 1960 Rambler that had been provided to them by Speed-the Light, a funding raising effort of youth across the United States, to be used for carrying people to and from church. Upon delivery, the Capeners had dedicated it to the Lord.

The 1960 Rambler was inundated with salt sea water to the dashboard. Everyone said, "It'll never run again. Better just leave it set."

Undaunted, Capener replied, "I dedicated it to the Lord. I'm going to try to start it anyway." He flushed out everything with fresh water: the motor, carburetor, crankcase, transmission, differential, and generator. It started!

After the flood, the government assigned them a new lot in a better location for the parsonage and a new church building. That Rambler was used to haul more than 200 tons of building materials for the church, carrying as much as 1,400 pounds of rock at one time. It carried "scoria" (volcanic ash used in place of gravel, which is not available on the island), sand, lumber, rock for the retaining wall for the parking lot and for the lower four feet of the exterior of the church, and material for manufacturing 30 cubic yards of cement.

The only problem was with the electrical connections, but that did not prevent the car from operating. Though the body rusted badly, and Capener had to weld the trunk lid on three times before it could no longer be welded and was discarded, that Rambler ran for eight more years.

In 1972, Speed-the-Light purchased a second used car for the Capeners, a 1970 Dodge Dart, for carrying passengers, but the Rambler was still used for hauling supplies and refuse until it was finally junked in 1974, eight years after the Christmas Day flood.

Reminds me of the Children of Israel in the Wilderness. For forty years, their clothes and sandals did not wear out. God still provides for His children.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Eddystone Light

I've always been fascinated by lighthouses, ships, and the sea, perhaps because much of my early life was spent on the waters of the Inside Passage of Alaska.

When I was in grade school, we used to sing a fun song about the Eddystone Light in music class.
The Eddystone Light Courtesy
While there are several versions, the lyrics I remember are these:

O my father was the keeper of the Eddystone Light
And he married a mermaid one fine night.
Out of this union there came three--
A porpoise and a porgy and the third was me.

Yo, ho, ho! The wind blows free!
O for the life on the rolling sea!

It was a sea shanty, a work song sung by sailors on ships during the age of sail. Shanties were used to keep rhythm during work and make it more enjoyable. The lyrics and melody were not very sophisticated, but they often told of a sailor's life. The song went on for many verses, usually chanted by a leader, and the rest of the sailors would join in on the chorus.

A few years ago, this true story about the Eddystone Light caught my attention because it reminded me of that grade school song.

The southwest coast of England is very rocky, and terrible storms often blow up. Several lighthouses mark the rocks so ships won't hit them and sink. One of these lighthouses is the Eddystone Light. It stands on a rock 14 miles out from land off the coast of Plymouth. At high tide water covers the rock completely, making it very hazardous to ships.

The first tower built on Eddystone Rock was beautiful to look at with its fancy tower. The builder was very proud of his work. He would call out from the balcony: 

"Blow, O winds! Rise, O ocean! Break forth, ye elements, and try my work!"

First Eddystone Tower
One night a terrible storm blew up. The wind whipped the tower. The waves beat against it. The fancy tower toppled over into the sea, killing its builder and all who were in it.

The builder had not anchored the foundation deep enough to stand the test of the storm.

Years later, another man build a new tower on Eddystone Rock. He carefully built a solid foundation in solid rock and anchored the lighthouse firmly to it. Instead of boastful words, he carved on it these words from Psalm 127:1:

Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.

That lighthouse still stands and has become a model for many lighthouse towers built later.

That reminds me of a story Jesus told about two men who decided to build houses. One man wisely dug down deep until he reached bedrock to build his foundation. The other foolishly built his house on a sandy lot. His house looked much like the first man's, but under his house, where no one could see, there was no rock foundation, only sand. When a fierce storm arose, the house built on the sand was destroyed.

Jesus told his followers, "Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who builds his house on the rock.... But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand" (Matthew 7:24, 26, NIV).

Are you building sand castles or anchoring your life to the solid Rock, Christ Jesus? I want to be like the wise man, don't you? 

To subscribe to my blog and receive an e-mail when I add a new post, please complete the coupon at the right.