The Hot Flame of Calling and of Gifts

Most of us have heard accounts of inventors, politicians, and book writers, among others, who despite repeated failures and agonizing vexation continued with their dabblings, their strivings, their speeches, their art . . .until finally the edgy, splintery pieces came together, and a starry thing of glorious success exploded into being. Sterling examples are President Lincoln who is perhaps the epitome of the person who scratches and claws through repeated adversity, but who rises to the top, along with Thomas Edison who, despite his startling inventions, has multiple failures to his credit. Take a look here at an astounding list of 100 famous book rejections. These accounts make for inspirational reading, and are unsurpassed fodder for motivational speeches and for casting vision by the leader who would urge forward his camp.

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Think, though, of the actual living through these trying processes when most working days of such men were struck through with failure, and with dark and dank frustration. Likely, cracks were snickered behind hands held to mouths, jests were whispered against turned backs, eyes were rolled, and muted conversations questioned the sense of the projects; and sometime along the way came an alteration to the old saw, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” and now the words bandied about were, “If at first you don’t succeed, stop; don’t make a fool of yourself.”

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Know, however, that within such men of success a creative spark burns that refuses to extinguish itself, and when the flame flickers and through the inky night threatens to die, its keeper bends low, coaxes and feeds fuel, and the heat remains.

Such is true with men and women who are called by God to do His work. I understand that when we take on Christ we are each to be a witness of this great salvation and to spread the Word of the Gospel and of this abundant life. Beyond that, though, there are others who have additional deep callings, and upon whom God has placed gifts, and within whom God has implanted vision. I speak to you today.

No matter how many times you have failed, the call remains. Despite your confusion, your frustration, your wondering, the call remains. Despite taunting, whispering campaigns, discouragement, your own wrong choices, your laziness, your misjudgment, despite those who look sideways at you and mutter, “A man’s gift will make room for him,” and you know you have the gift, but where is the room? . . .despite these, you are called and God says He will not take back that calling; it is without repentance.

“You can’t sing,” she is told. “You can’t write,” the critics say. “Your mind is too simple, your gifts too small, you cannot sculpt, the light bulb will not burn, your speeches are too shallow, your connections non-existent, you’ve made too many blunders, you have not enough money . . . Perhaps you were never called.”

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But we sing on, we write, we preach, we sketch on toothy paper, for beating hard within the breast of “the called” is the flame of God, hot and irresistible.

 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Verse 29 of Romans 11

Note: This was first published in 2015. So timely, I decided to post it once more. May its message speak to each of us.

What Price Fame

In the early reports, someone described him as a “lost pound puppy.”

Since then I’ve read more about Robert Hawkins. The story of this troubled young man has gripped me with its sadness, its profound emptiness and its acute and undeniable commentary on life in this our 21st century. On Wednesday, appearing quite calm, he took the elevator to the third floor of the Von Maur department store in Omaha, Nebraska, where he opened fire with a stolen AK-47 automatic rifle, killing 8 people and wounding 5 others. He then took his own life.



Picture from photographer Dave Weaver of the Associated Press.

“a pound puppy…” He wrestled through life; had been removed from his family, placed in foster homes, treated for psychological problems, and, finally had become a ward of the state.

A few days ago he was fired from his job at McDonald’s. He broke up with his girlfriend.

On Tuesday night, he showed the weapon to his landlady who didn’t pay much attention to him even then, although she admits to knowing he was depressed.

An hour before the shooting he called his landlady to tell her of a suicide note he was leaving.

“I’m sorry for everything.”

“I will no longer be a burden on my family.”

And finally, “Now, I’ll be famous.”

Poor puppy. Poor ” lost pound puppy.”

Jesus spoke to the condition in Luke 13:34:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!”


As children of God who are doing our best to gather people to Him and to spread the Good News, all we can do is to look directly into the eye of those whom we pass in the street and against whom we jostle in the mall. Perhaps–probably–there is another “lost pound puppy.” Maybe we can save him from fame.


Edit Friday evening:


Transcription of Hawkins’ Suicide Note

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Omaha Police Department on Friday released a three-page suicide note left by Robert A. Hawkins, the 19-year-old who fatally shot eight people at an Omaha shopping mall before turning the gun on himself Wednesday.

The note is transcribed below, including misspellings but with expletives deleted:


I’m so sorry for what I’ve put you through I never meant to hurt all of you so much and I don’t blame any one of you for disowning me I just can’t be a burden to you and my friends any longer You are all better off without me. I’m so sorry for this.

I’ve just snapped I can’t take this meaningless existence anymore I’ve been a constant disappointment and that trend would have only continued. just remember the good times we had together

I love you mommy

I love you dad

I love you Kira

I love you Valancia

I love you Cynthia

I love you Zach

I love you Cayla

I love you Mark (P.S. I’m really sorry)



To all of my friends I’m so sorry for what I’ve done to you and put you through. I’ve been a peice of (expletive) my entire life it seems this is my only option. I know everyone will remember me as some sort of monster but please understand that I just don’t want to be a burden on the ones that I care for my entire life. I just want to take a few peices of (expletive) with me. I love all of you so much and I don’t want anyone to miss me just think about how much better you are off without me to support. I want my friends to remember all the good times we had together. Just think tho I’m gonna be (expletive) famous. You guys have always been there for me I’m just sad that I’m gonna have to go this alone. You guys are the best friends anyone could ever ask for. That’s all I have to say is that I (expletive) you guys.

P.S. I didn’t eat that (expletive) sandwich or the toielet thing either!


my will

I’m giving my car back to my mom and my friends can have whatever else I leave behind

Signed (Hawkins’ signature)

Social (his Social Security number)



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The Ultimate Party

Who knows whether or not she was careless–of the sort who at least a couple times a month misplaces her car keys, forgets the child’s dental appointment, and has more than once been convinced that her car had spontaneously moved to the other side of the grocery parking lot. “I know I parked it right around here,” she fumes, pushing her loaded cart up one lane and down the other.

I’m not sure just what had happened, but she knew there should have been more money. There should be ten, but when she dipped into her pouch and fingered the silver coins, though she had counted three times now, it could not be denied that there were only nine coins.

Well, nothing to do save start looking. She lowered her head, and turning it from side to side, she scrutinized the floor. Didn’t see a thing. She grabbed up a broom, and with a furor began sweeping, throwing up dirt, and nervous dust mites who didn’t much take to this violent cleaning and swinging around of the broom. She kept sweeping, finding here and there a lost thing–but never the coin. “Dark ole house, anyway” she observed, “couldn’t see the money if it were perched right on my nose, it’s so dark in here.” She took up a candle, lighted it with a fagot, so that spread around the room now was a yellow orb of light. “Well, that’s better, anyway. At least I can see what I’m doing.”

The missing coin was rare and of great value. She had to find it! She looked and looked, lifted cushions, peered under the sofa, and with her free hand felt along the mantle. Nothing. She was determined–give her that–and she kept searching, kept sweeping, kept holding aloft the light…until at last, in a dark sharp corner, she caught a shaft of gleam. Bending low, candle high, she felt deep in the recess…and there it was…the lost coin.

Relieved now, pumped up with rushing adrenaline, she decided to party. She rushed next door and down the street, rounding up friends and neighbors. “You know I love parties…and today, we have a good reason to celebrate. Recall my valuable silver coins-the rare issues-somehow I lost one, and I thought I never would find it. But I tore into my place with a broom, lighted a tall candle, and I tell you! I found it! Come on over, I have chopped chicken livers in the fridge, some lamb meat balls, and this will work perfectly, I baked a great nut torte this morning. On my table at this moment is a fine bowl of plump figs. Come on over. Let’s celebrate!”

Jesus told that story–well.. its almost the same story.

Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.” Luke 15:8-9

Of particular note is the next verse.

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of god over one sinner that repenteth.

I love this story and the concept Jesus teaches here. It’s happened to all of us, I tell you. We’ve been lost, messed up, misplaced, down on the floor with the dirt and the dust mites and the dark; people walking on us and ignoring us and mistreating us. At first we didn’t even know we were lost, then we felt the sweep of His spirit and somehow we understood someone was looking for us. Then one day we saw a little flame, then a brighter light, and finally…we were found. The Church picked us off the floor, told us about God, who shined up our surface til we glowed, and then there was the party. Rejoice! God says. The people rejoice! The angels rejoice! And God rejoices. Reason for the party? A sinner has been found, a valuable piece, a rare coin, a person of talent, highly desirable in the Kingdom of God.

Let’s find someone today who needs to be found, who is lost, and dusty, and stepped on and discouraged. What say we set up a party!


My other blog is here.

Damaged, but Precious

This morning on the Museum Security Network, I read the following reports of severe damage that in year’s past was done to the works of the famous artist, Rembrandt.

Rembrandt is probably one of the most famous artist who ever lived, who’s name is recognized world-wide. Rembrandt was born in The Netherlands in 1606 and died in 1669. His most famous painting is The Night Watch . Rembrandt would have never imagined his soon to be world famous painting would be vandalized, not once, but twice, in later years. A 1975 vandalisim has been well publicized. But was there others?

I have searched the Internet for any information of a 1911 attack on The Night Watch painting and no where have I seen anything about this incident. Why is there no mention of this act of vandalism against this masterpiece?

And now the rest of the story…………..

On January 13, 1911 in Rotterdam, a disgruntled Navy cook, angered by his discharge from the service, went into the Rijiks Museum and badly slashed the masterpiece with a knife. The man’s name was Sigrist, and he said he vandalized the painting as an act of vengence against the state for discharging him.

On June 19, 1999 I received the following update:

May I suggest an addition:

There were three incidents, not two. The 1975 incident was the worst. Large pieces of canvas were lying on the museum floor after a psychic cut the painting. It took a long time, about half a year, to restore the painting. This was the first time all old varnish was removed. The 1975 damage can still be seen on the painting (not very clearly, but if you know where to look for it…)

April 1990 another patient threw acid on the Nightwatch. Thanks to an extremely quick and adequate reaction of the guards damage was limited to the varnish. By the way: the guy who did this cut and severely damaged a Picasso in another Amsterdam museum last month.

best regards,

Ton Cremers


When I read this and considered the efforts that were expended to restore these priceless works of art, my mind flashed to the human soul, and the bodies wherein are housed these everlasting entities. I thought of the damaged people around me, people bearing hideous scars, people whose lives and bodies reek with sin poisoning and whose minds and emotions are slashed through with the havoc of evil living . I thought of myself, born fully entrenched in the curse of sin, and who has to fight constantly to live a holy life.

But as damaged paintings are yet considered precious and worthy of enormous amounts of time, energy and sums of money to restore them, surely every human being must deserve the same attention and respect. No matter the damage, the slashing, the scarring we have endured, we are yet loved by Christ, and His redeeming blood is available to exact a full and beautiful restoration


My other blog is here.

Ever Learning

“I didn’t go to the Bible study because I was ‘dogsitting.'” Actually she said she was “taking care of the babies,” but both she and Jerry knew she was referring to her caring of two small dogs. Admittedly, adorable dogs…pampered dogs.

I wasn’t there when she said it, but Jerry told me about it later. I just stared as he relayed the message, and a kind of sadness settled over me. For the one who said that to him is really a sweet and loving person, who in many ways has begun to reach out for God, and who has made great strides in ridding her life of negative and harmful habits. I feel sympathy for her…sympathy because just yet it appears this very sweet lady may need a wee adjustment in the setting of her priorities.

But how can I judge? For often I am guilty of the same thing. Oh, it is not revealed in such flagrant demonstration as the missing of a Bible study because I don’t want to leave an animal alone. Rather it is highlighted by my limited amount of Bible reading, my pitiful measure of energy given to witnessing to other people and my small effort at intense personal prayer. God help me to improve my own life, to delve more deeply into the ways of God, to perfect my own spirit. Have patience with me God, please extend anew your grace and mercy. For without them, I am destined for damnation.

I love the words of David in Psalm 27:4-5…and this is truly my prayer.

“One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion; in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.”

I do desire my Lord. I do want to seek after Him. I do want to dwell in His house and behold His beauty.


My other blog is here.

God Wants You Anyway

I’ve read this before, but when I came across this writing today, it reverberated in my little soul, and I wanted to share with you. Perhaps you’re feeling inadequate today, or perhaps you have sensed that you are not the successful person you had envisioned you would become. Maybe you’re coming to grips with the fact that you may never attain your goals, nor reach the stars for which you stretched. Take heart! God uses such as you and me–even with our limitations and inadequacies. Hey, and we’re in good company! Love it.

– Moses stuttered.
— David’s armor didn’t fit.
— John Mark was rejected by Paul.
—- Hosea’s wife was a prostitute.
—– Amos’ only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning.
—— Jacob was a liar.
——- David had an affair.
——– Solomon was too rich.
——— Abraham was too old.
———- David was too young.
———– Timothy had ulcers.
———— Peter was afraid of death.
————- Lazarus was dead.
————– John was self-righteous.
————— Jesus was too poor.
————– Naomi was a widow.
————- Paul was a murderer. So was Moses.
———— Jonah ran from God.
———– Miriam was a gossip.
———- Gideon and Thomas both doubted.
——— Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal.
——– Elijah was burned out.
——- John the Baptist was a loudmouth.
—— Martha was a worry-wart.
—– Mary was lazy.
—- Samson had long hair.
— Noah got drunk.
— Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse?
– So did Peter, Paul – well, lots of folks did.

— But God doesn’t require a job interview.
— He doesn’t hire and fire like most bosses,
— Because He’s more our Dad than our Boss.
— He doesn’t look at financial gain or loss.
— He’s not prejudiced or partial,
— Not judging, grudging, sassy, or brassy,
— Not deaf to our cry,
— Not blind to our need

(Author unknown)


My other blog is here.

A Gentle Deal

“And the king (David) commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom…” II Samuel 18:5

In my study yesterday I read again this bitter story where David’s son undermines him, steals the hearts of the people, wages war against his father and tries to take the throne from him. During one of these dreadful days as David fled for his very life into the mountains

“…David…wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.”

I weep with David for I have sons, and the love I have for those young men and for my daughter is beyond sounding. Its raw deep cannot be fathomed, and I suspect that a person who has not a child can in no way understand the passion of such relationship. So, I see David weeping as he trudges up the hillside, head bent, head covered, his feet bare…weeping, soul-sick.



THE land on the east of Jordan, where David found a refuge,
was called Gilead, a word which means “high,” because
it is higher than the land opposite on the west of
Jordan. There, in the city of Mahanaim, the rulers and
the people were friendly to David. They brought food of
all kinds and drink for David and those who were with
him; for they said, “The people are hungry, and thirsty, and very tired, from their long journey through the wilderness.”

And at this place David’s friends gathered from all the tribes of Israel, until around him was an army. It was not so large as the army of Absalom, but in it were more of the brave old warriors who had fought under David in other years. David divided his army into three parts, and placed over the three parts Joab, his brother Abishai, and Ittai, who had followed him so faithfully.

David said to the chiefs of his army and to his men, “I will go out with you into the battle.”

But the men said to David, “No, you must not go with us; for if half of us should lose our lives, no one will care; but you are worth ten thousand of us, and your life is too precious. You must stay here in the city, and be ready to help us if we need help.”

So the king stood by the gate of Mahanaim while his men marched out by hundreds and by thousands. And as they went past the king the men heard him say to the three chiefs, Joab, and Abishai, and Ittai, “For my sake, deal gently with the young man, Absalom.” (Scripture translation from the Baldwin Project)

Deal gently, men. Deal gently with my son.

And to those who have wronged us, we pray aloud, deal gently, God, deal gently. And perhaps, just perhaps, those against whom we have trespassed will in a gracious forgiving moment pray also, deal gently, God, deal gently.

[Illustration] .

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Very Significant Others

The longer I serve God, seek after Him and strive to truly know Him, the more convinced I become that His ways are so far above our own that it may be impossible to fully comprehend Him and to profoundly understand Him. In light of this, consider with me the 11th chapter of Hebrews.

The early portion of the chapter cites victorious accounts; of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and others. Listen to verses 33 through 35:

“Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again:…”

A sudden halt to victory marches comes in verse 35 and continues through verse 38:

“…and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment; They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy;) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”

Then verse 39 reveals the awe-inspiring, imponderable God, as He speaks from Paul’s flowing pen:

“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise.”

And for us is this dynamic lesson: When success is elusive despite our whole-hearted efforts, when we’re deathly sick and our friends are healed, when our peers flourish and we falter, when we can’t conceive or the baby is born mal-formed or quickly perishes, when we’re discouraged, confused, and just can’t find our way, when the nights are dark, and there shines no light, and we know we’re pitiful and untalented and wasted, we must jam ourselves into verse 39, yelling aloud those faithful, blessed words:

“And these all…obtained a good report.” Yes!


My other blog is here.