Able

Colonel Charles Talmadge, my Training Principal, loved to give devotionals based on one word from scripture; he would title these devotions A Word from the Word.  It was fascinating how he would  take one word and follow it through scripture and the message would then unfold. I was blessed with a creative, wise and learned man of God from whom I learned much. Word study in scripture was one. I still enjoy doing that:  taking a word and going through the concordance to look up verses and discover the message that would begin to emerge.  This has become so much easier on the computer! (It is also a great way to develop choral readings on a theme.)

Today the word able has been on my mind so I decided to explore it a bit to see what message would emerge.

Part of the reason this word became stuck in my head was because of the chorus He is Able.  It seemed to become stuck in my head–not a bad thing, necessarily, because of its message.

For those of you who may not know it please allow me to sing it to you. (Hope this works; if not, you really aren’t missing much. smileyface)

He is able, more than able
To accomplish what concerns me today,
He is able, more than able,
To do much more than I could ever dream,
He is able, more than able,
To make me what He wants me to be.

I know that He–God–is able.  I have no problem trusting Him for ‘that which I have committed’ to Him.  He has all the power needed for the ability to sustain us according to His will and for our good.

The word able in Greek is dunameno, from dunamis, power (from Stong’s Concordance). The key to this source of power for you and me is commitment. It is the kind of commitment that relinquishes ourselves to the Lord’s control:  our needs, our fears, our frustrations, our joys, our everything. Prayer then becomes the liberating step of our commitment. As we enter into prayer, our commitment to the Lord helps us to release ourselves to Him, to open clenched fists to receive with open hands all that we need to live abundantly even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Able. He is able. He has the ability, the power to….do, keep, sustain, empower, love… What is your word that bubbles up as you read these verses?

[He] is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. (Ephesians 3:20)

He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself. (Philippians 3:21)

He is also able to save to the uttermost. (Hebrews 7:25)

He is able to aid those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)

[He] is able to keep you[a] from stumbling. (Jude 24)

[He] is able to establish you. (Romans 16:25)

He is able to keep what I have committed to Him. (2 Timothy 1:12)

Remember:

“God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

As I began with a chorus I finish with a chorus:

Able to save, able to keep,
Yes, my Lord is able.
Giving me grace, giving me power,
Yes, my Lord is able.
He has turned the darkest night to day,
That’s the reason I can say:
He’s able to save, able to keep
Is Christ, my Saviour.

Lightbringers

Lightbringers,Lightbringers, shining the light of Jesus Christ.
We’ll tell the world a Savior has died and spread the                                                        gospel of new life.                                                                                                                        (snippet of our informal session song written by Cadet Larry Torbitt)

commissioning photo

On June 3, 1972 the Lightbringer Session was commissioned to go into the world and to shine the light of God in a dark world. Little did I know where that journey would take me.

The first leg of the journey began in Newport, Kentucky. An old four room school; one room was the chapel, one was the game room, one was the all purpose room and one was our apartment. (there were other spaces that allowed for offices, corps kitchen, food pantry, etc. We also had an attic and a basement.)

IMG_3399 I can still remember the excitement I felt to finally be doing the work to which God had called me. It felt so good to be done with the strict regimentation of the Training College along with the daily calendar that scheduled every moment of our lives.

I arrived in Newport filled with the arrogance of youth but more importantly the assurance of hope that ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’

I can still vividly recall the excited feelings of competency that we are here and that God was going to do great things in this appointment through us. Oh the innocence of youth!

As I look back with the eyes of experience and maturity I can see that God did do great things through us, just not in the way that I had expected; nor with the outcomes I had wanted to see. You see, God works things out for our good and the good of the appointment in ways that we don’t always see immediately or perhaps at all. Nevertheless He does this in marvelous and miraculous ways. The old adage comes to mind: God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. And if we are careful or, dare I say, faithful, we may have the blessing of a glimpse Him in action.

The reality is that in the four years that I spent in Newport I learned much! I think that top on that list is that things do not always work out as the “authorities” teach (or like they say in Training). For example, when I arrived my Home League consisted of about five or six women.  I was told that if I did visitation ‘they would come.’ Well, I did, they didn’t…….then. I made it a practice to visit all the ladies on the roll and those who weren’t. I can recall three women in particular that I would visit on a regular basis but could never get them to come to a Home League Meeting.  Now here’s the truth about visitation:  I believe that it is vital to corps growth and to the spiritual shepherding that our people need, it needs to be consistent and it needs to happen from one officer to the next.  What I learned is that some folks are so broken that it is difficult for them to believe that there are those that truly care for them. It took the faithful visitation of my successor to finally get those three ladies into the Home League family. My successor thanked me for my faithfulness that made her task easier.  God works in marvelous ways for our good and the good of our appointments when we are faithful, even when we don’t see the results that we expect.  I think that we all know this but when we do not see immediate results we get discouraged and let the evil one have the victory.

The most important lesson I learned from Newport is that as an Officer I was called to run a marathon not a sprint. I also learned that along the way I would run through deserts, valleys, mountain tops, and luscious pastures.  I know many will not want to hear this, but I also have learned while running this race that the old chorus is true: “By the pathway of duty flows the river of God’s grace.”  Sometimes in this marathon, while running through the desert places, I wanted to quit and it was only my sense of duty (and calling) that kept me going.  As I kept on, I discovered that the wonderful river of God’s grace gave me the nourishment and strength I needed to keep me obedient to His will.

Tomorrow a new “crop” of Lieutenants will be assigned their first appointments. I envy them their beginnings.  The glimpse God gave me from our first appointment of working all things for our good and the good of the appointment: About fifteen years after Newport as we were walking towards the Ocean Grove Auditorium a tall young man approached us.  He had cadet’s trim on this uniform. He asked us if we remembered him. “Well, you look familiar but not really.”  He then proceeded to tell us his name and that we had enrolled him as a junior soldier.  It all clicked and the little boy that we knew came flooding back to our hearts and mind!  Thank you, Lord, for that blessing and reminding us that You do have a marvelous way of using us for Your purposes!

As I write this many faces are coming to mind that it was my privilege to serve. I am so grateful that I can look back, see my failures and successes, and say that I would do it ALL again if given the chance.

Take Time

time2Time.

What comes to mind when you hear that word? I know that for me what comes to mind depends on my circumstances. If I have work that needs to get done  then I am generally calculating how I’m going to manage my time; if I am on vacation then I am looking for ways to lengthen time; if I am anticipating an event then I am hoping that time passes quickly.  For those of us who are retired, time seems to take on a whole new meaning. I confess that I never gave much thought to the ways that time would shape my life in retirement.

I am finding that my view and thoughts on time are undergoing a subtle, or perhaps a not so subtle, shift.  While time still affects me in the usual ways I am finding that I am enjoying the ‘moments’ of time much more. I am relishing ‘moments’ spent just sitting in the swing watching the water fowl and letting the beauty of my surroundings just seep in; I relish the ‘moments’ that I spend in devotions–no hurry to get to the office; I relish the ‘moments’ in my work room taking all the time I want on a project; I relish the ‘moments’ in front of the TV in the evenings with Don ( I also relish the ‘moments’ we spend together as each of us is buried in a book, an iPad, a puzzle book, etc.)

As I have pondered this thing called time, I was curious about how it would be defined. An interesting exercise.  I like the Oxford Dictionary definition best: “Time, the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.”

As I look back I can see just how fragmented my life was because I segmented it into passages of time.  Perhaps thats just natural and an inescapable impossibility. But wouldn’t it be nice to become more aware of the moments of life as we walk through it rather than almost constantly working toward the next thing?  Maybe like Don Quijote I am tilting at windmills but  I do know that all of us need to be more aware of our moments and that we would do well to spend our time more wisely in the ‘moments’  and squander it less.

A few years ago I came across this reading and share it with you.  It helps to put time into perspective.

Take time to think; it is the source of power.

timeTake time to read; it is the foundation of wisdom.

Take time to play; it is the secret of staying young.
Take time to be quiet; it is the opportunity to seek God.

Take time to be aware; it is the opportunity to help others.

Take time to love and be loved; it is God’s greatest gift.

Take time to laugh; it is the music of the soul.

Take time to be friendly; it is the road to happiness.

Take time to dream; it is what the future is made of.

Take time to pray; it is the greatest power on earth.

Anonymous

Beloved, remember that time is a gift that God generously gives to us all. So instead of just looking to save time in your world of work, play, and rest; learn to take time. And learn to claim the blessings that God has given you in His time, measured not by hours, minutes, and seconds alone but in terms of eternity.

A couple of resolutions by  Jonathan Edwards that would be good for all of us to adopt. “Resolution #5: Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can. Resolution #6: Resolved, to live with a
ll my might, while I do live.”

I will not waste my life! I will finish my course and finish it well. I will display the Gospel of the grace of God in all I do. I will run my race to the end.” – Paul”      (John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life)