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.

Hallelujah!

“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, say, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: . . .” Revelation 19:6-7

Another Sunday has dawned. Let us rejoice. Let us lift hallelujahs. Let us worship our King.

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The Mystery of Apostolic Preaching

Many years ago, I considered the matter long and hard, scrutinized its details, examined its ramifications, and came to a conclusion that even after this lengthy period of time has elapsed I remain sure of. There is nothing in this world like Apostolic preaching. Nothing. Hear me: Nothing. Anointed preaching is of another world. It goes beyond mere sentences found in a dictionary or printed on a Bible page. It exceeds words formed in his mouth and spat from the tongue of a human being. There is something about an Apostolic preacher that takes on the heavenly, and as a lightening spear alters drastically a black sky, so is that man  transformed into an apparatus of divine deliverance. The Voice of God is heard.

Such a thing happened last week in Louisville, KY. at the National Youth Congress of the United Pentecostal Church Int. Watch here as a young man named Cortt Chavis, formed from the dust of the earth, is transformed into a pendant of glory. There is no earthly explanation.

 

Toward Perfection

Among knowledgeable and capable persons within the writing and publishing community, there are those who frankly say that “Christian” writing–across the board–fails to meet the standard of excellence that is seen in the general market. Now I do understand there are many undesirable offerings in the untitled (49 of 80)general market, but there also are many things well done.

Whether the premise to which I referred is sound or not, I leave others to decide, but I am definitely of the opinion that everything we Christians do, we should do well–the very best of which we are capable.

A few days ago I read that the prolific author John Irving begins all his books with the last sentence–the one that will conclude the book. He cogitates, thinks of the plot, the characters, the theme of the novel. He ruminates. Long periods pass before he has the last sentence written, and it will not change. Then there is usually a gap of a year–sometimes 18 months–before the first sentence has come to him. I was astounded when I read that. If a secular writer can expend that much thought and time on two sentences in a book, surely we are Christians can equal or surpass his efforts.

When we study to teach a Sunday school class or to write a sermon, we should do so fervently. When we scribe an essay, or a blog post, or a pamphlet, or a novel, we should so care. Our work should glitter and excel, a tribute to our calling.

The Profound Urge of Talent

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:”
I Corinthians 12:7 NKJ

Not long after I planted flowers in our wooden barrels in one of our gardens, I noticed a different kind of plant had pushed up through the earth. I couldn’t identify it, but I didn’t think it was a weed, so I left it to grow. A couple of days ago, I was astounded when I saw the plant had put on an enormous yellow blossom, and it was then that I identified the volunteer plant as a squash.

I learned again a profound lesson. Learned again, I say, for I really know this story, but the squash plant in my back yard reminded me of a great truth. It is a story of abilities and of talents and that sometimes, in others, and even in ourselves, we fail to see the gifts that are present.

Unknown to me, in my back yard was an entity so gorged with the juice of life that it pushed its way through the dirt in my flower pot, poked out its little head and said, “I’m here.” It didn’t know it was a squash; I didn’t know it was a squash, but within a seed that somehow had found its way to me, God had placed an urge, a talent, a gift.

Let me encourage you today to see the gifts in those around you, to cultivate them, to water and dig about them. Let me urge you to recognize the talent that is uniquely yours. Offer it up. It will bless us.

Call

To My Children

(Sent by email today to my four children, their spouses, and some of my grandchildren.)

IMPORTANT, EXCITING NEW SUBJECT

In the middle of next week, Daddy and I are going down to San Diego where we will pick up our motor home and take it to Lake Havasu.

Those of you who read my facebook posts and/or my blogs know that last week we went to LH, and after the Sunday service, Daddy baptized four people in Mike’s pool. One of them received the Holy Ghost before he left the water. His name is DeWayne, and before we left town, he drove us to a magnificent piece of property in LH, that in the far distance overlooks the Colorado River. “If you want to, you may park your rig here at no cost to you at all.”

Unexpected is the way things have worked out for the church in Lake Havasu, what with Brother McDaniels staying only eight months, and our being unable after that to find a pastor for Christ Alive. In a remarkable way, though it was not planned as such, Michael has stepped up to the challenge and is serving the precious, needy people at Christ Alive. Daddy has retained his position as Senior Pastor.

We are intrigued when we read missionary stories of people who give themselves to a Cause, when we read history books of pioneers who endured hardships to settle our country and our churches, when we learn of a particular serviceman who gave his life for his country, or when we know of people who go into the ghettos or other unappealing places and provide charity services. Sometimes, though, the sense of glamor, and everyday pride in Mission may be missing if we are the ones who are called to make the sacrifice, to endure the hardship . . . to give our lives . . . or if it should be our parents . . . or other loved ones who are so called. I understand, fully, I do.

Christ Alive is a unique church; it’s core being extremely needy people, most of whom have been won through the Christian intervention classes Mike has taught. Most of them are/or have been unstable, have no jobs, have addiction problems, poor family connections, etc. At this point, Mike is handling everything himself–teaching two Christian Intervention classes a week, teaching mid-week Bible study for the church, preaching on Sunday morning, doing all the book work, being responsible for church bills, doing all the counseling, planning the services, the music. . .(no one to play any instrument). Melina is making a huge sacrifice by having Mike “spread so thin.”

So, because we have the motor home, now have a place to park it with no charge, and because we can take some of the burden from Mike, Daddy and I are going to Lake Havasu for a few months, totally in a supportive role. I know you’ll all be concerned, and I love you for it.

Please pray for us. Let’s all make new commitment to pray for each other, for our churches, and for our ministries.

Love you so very much.

Mom

The Startling Significance of Our Words

“… for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Luke 6:45

Few things–if any–tell so much of us as do the words that course from our mouths. Now I’m familiar with such truisms as actions speak louder than words and Emerson’s “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”

I quite understand these remarks, and am not in disagreement, for through the years I have seen plenty of people who blustered about with little more than words tailing them. When such people wave their hands about in a meeting calling for volunteers or for someone to give money to a project, the leader marks in his mind: That may or may not happen. Understood. Been there. Seen that. I’ve been told that missionary boards set budgets much higher than what is actually needed, for much of the pledged money never appears.

Yet, Jesus taught that it is from our hearts we speak. Our words, I believe Jesus is emphasizing, tell of our hearts, our intents, our interests. It is that I want to address today.

A few years ago after I returned from a ladies conference, I caught myself rattling on about it to the extent that Jerry’s eyes, if not glazed over, were on the cusp of such a state. I have a definite memory of saying to myself that I was talking about the event too much, and that while he was politely listening, my sweet husband really wasn’t all that interested in what I was saying. During the last couple of years I have developed a deep interest in photography, and I have noted that I run on about lenses and settings and the slant of light–such as that–most likely to the dismay of those about me. During the past week, I finished the first draft of a book, and during the intervening days since then, I have noted myself to be talkative about certain aspects that circle about my writing project. A few times I have warned myself: Be quiet. 🙂

Jesus’ words in the first part of this verse direct our attention to the differences between two classes of hearts: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil.” This teaching of Jesus is easy to understand, indeed its logic is further revealed in the latter part of the verse that I have already posted: “…for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

However, my thought today extends beyond what is blatantly good and evil. It is not evil for me to speak of photography or of other good activities with which I am involved. They are satisfactory things. They are not of evil. …yet they do reveal my heart. If all you hear from my mouth is of such things–though within themselves, they may be harmless–you may well question my heart. For as a child of God, my heart should go to God and His work, to His people, to evangelism, to the Word of God…It would be silly for me to suggest that all we are to talk about is God. That is not at all what I am suggesting. Certainly, I will continue to talk about my book and my photography and my grandkids…and so will you. And we should. We should listen to each other, be interested in others’ goals, dreams, visions, and accomplishments. But today, my soul has thrown a warning: My true interests, my passion, my heart is revealed by the words that issue from my mouth. Of what I speak, of what I think, of what I write is my substance, is my heart.

Guard my heart, God. Guard my heart. Help me hear–truly hear–the words I utter. Amplify the thoughts that rush through my mind today, so that I honestly will examine them in the light of God’s Word. Enlarge in me the consideration of my bent, my interests and my goals. Help me with my heart, God. Give me a heart after You, so that the words I say will be an honest revelation of my passion for You, Your people, and Your work.

His House

Jerry and I arrived home last night around 10:30. In the morning, before 10:00, Jerry had gone to the church for a meeting; I had gone with Melody as she met with an attorney. When we were finished in the law offices, Melody and I went to the church where I sat in on the last part of the meeting where Jerry and Mike and Brenda had engaged with a person representing government funding grants and other options which we are hoping will develop into financial aid for our burgeoning Christian Intervention Program. Melody had received disturbing news from the attorney, so we talked more about that, then at the Red Onion had lunch with her. We went home for about two hours, during which time, Jerry drove out to George and Michele’s to check on them. By 4:00 we were back at the church preparing for the night’s activities; CIP, Ladies Bible study and Men’s Bible study. New people came to register for the program, people called with questions and to say why they would be late, or would not be there at all. A mom had left a message on the answering machine: Thanks for working with my daughter. She won’t be available for 20 days. She’s in Kingman. (The county jail is in Kingman.) A young man came to register, but because of the hours found he could only attend the Tuesday night sessions and would start next week, but as I continued to talk with him, tears welled in his eyes, and I knew God was talking to him. We stood together; a young man in his 20s with a stud in his upper lip, and I. He would leave and return for class on Tuesday, but first, I suggested, let’s go in the pastor’s office and pray. He sat on Jerry’s brown leather couch and we prayed. He sobbed. “I’m from a gang-banging family,” he told us, “and I’m tired of it.” He bent over, his forehead resting in his hand. “My brother is the chapter leader of the Skinheads in the ______________area. I have three children; my girlfriend just had twins, and they are not mine.” He wept so much his eyes were now red, and before he left, he extended his hand across Jerry’s desk. “Thank you. Thank you for your time.” A young woman came in with her father in tow. “He needs to register for your program.” Jerry was counseling another church couple in his office. Because of so much activity in the office, I was late now to pick up someone who needed a ride. “I’m on my way,” I spoke into my phone as I headed out the door. Sessions finished, few people lingering:   I fired up our new Hammond, we turned on the PA, and Mike and I jammed for a few minutes, his red drums aflame. The person I had picked up for class ambled onto the platform, thumbed through the songbook, and said, “Let’s do this one.” Night’s end: Jerry and I dropped off the student I had picked up and, at Black Bear, we met Job and Eliana–our newly weds–for food. Goodnight at 10:30.

Early this morning, I sat in our living room and thought about yesterday and how wonderful it was, and how I love God and His work, and how I delight in being at His house. I turned in my Bible to Psalm 84.

1How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!

2My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.

3Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.

4Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.

5Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.

6Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.

7They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.

8O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.

9Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.

10For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

11For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

12O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

In a bit, we will go again to the beautiful, magnificent house of God. How blessed I am.

Three Boys, Two Mommies, and God’s Word

“And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Yesterday, I received the following email from my very dear friend, Holly. I hope it’s all right with her that I publish it here. This email is a treasure to me for a few reasons:

One

I love Holly’s reminder about our close family friendship that now spans three generations.

Two

These simple pictures speak loudly to the rewards of teaching children the Word of God.

Three

The account and the pictures are a reminder of the tough job of parenting, coupled with it’s share of exciting moments.

Four

Holly refreshed my mind as to what a precious treasure is the memorized Word of God.

Hi Sis. Buxton,
Thought you might enjoy these pictures from last weekend’s BQ Tournament in Ontario. Rebecca and I sure do make cute kids! I LOVE that they’re best friends, just like me and Beck, Andrew & Adam, and you and my mom!
Nate, Ian, & Zack SO wanted to be on the same team this time – and they got their wish. They had a blast, quoting God’s Word. (While Rebecca and I had 13 heart attacks and 5 strokes from the stress of watching them!) Their team got 4th place in the Junior Division, and Ian got 1st place highest individual scorer. Wow!
Love you and miss you!!
Hugs,
Holly
Ian, Zak, Nathaniel and their coach

Mommy, Rebecca, with son Nathaniel

Holly with Number 1 quizzer. 🙂