Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Uppers and Downers

My friend Stephen Weber sends out a Daily Encouragement devotional through his web site @ He is such a blessing to many including me. We met several years ago and I sensed his heart for God and his commitment to encourage others.

Here are a few lines from today's devotional entitled Refreshing Others:

"Several years ago I heard a speaker use an interesting illustration of how we impact other people. He spoke of being around those who always take you "up" on the elevator. It's as if being around them is like getting on an Up Elevator. They're energy givers, encouragers, refreshers, who have a powerful way of uplifting. As I consider my long string of friends through life I am blessed to have so many who invite me to go up with them.

Then there are those who have only one button on their elevator; the basement! They're energy drainers who discourage and have a way of sucking the very breath right out of you. And yes, I have also met my share of these as well. (But thankfully not nearly as many.) Getting on the Down Elevator with them is never an "uplifting" experience.

Let me encourage each daily encouragement reader to consider the blessing of having a refreshing spirit. As the Proverb states, "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." I hope you are blessed by those having this quality today. I also encourage you to conscientiously demonstrate this quality from your heart.

Of so many I can proclaim, "Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints." Today you will interact with others in various settings. May God bless you with those who will encourage and refresh you. May they strengthen you and take you up on the elevator! And may you seek to be that provision today for the weary, discouraged soul whom you meet in the course of this day who is in need of uplift. Today you have a choice; will you be an upper or a downer?"

Check out Stephen's web site @

Dear friends, let's refresh those we interact with today! Don't be a downer! May those we relate to sense the presence of the Lord in our lives. May we be like a refreshing stream.

"He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed" (Proverbs 11:25). "Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints" - Philemon 1:7 (NIV)

Overheard in a Coffee Shop

Yesterday I overheard the following exchange in a local coffee shop. It reminded me so much of my "discussions" with the Father.

An elderly man said, "Father why am I going through this terrible circumstance at this point in my life...after all these years. Please help me deal with it."

The Father answered, "My child, my grace is sufficient for you!"

The man responded, "But that's not enough!"

God lovingly and patiently replied (with his voice raised somewhat from his initial response), "My son, what part of SUFFICIENT don't you understand?"

His redeemed child had no answer but turned away, weeping...knowing that what the Father had spoken was true and trustworthy.

I've been in that man's shoes! So have you! We all have!

His grace WILL carry us through the trial, the tribulation, the turmoil, the terrible storm.

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." - 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 (ESV)


He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limit; His grace has no measure.
His pow'r has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!

- Annie Johnson Flint

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hudson Taylor's Trust

The following note regarding J. Hudson Taylor brought such encouragement to me. I trust it will do the same for you, dear friends.

Taylor returned to England with ill health and was brought to the very doors of death by the terrible news of the Boxer Rebellion in May 1890. The disruption of the work and the murder of hundreds of missionaries along with native Christians caused him to say, "I cannot read, I cannot pray, I can scarcely think...but I can trust."

"What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee." - Psalms 56:3 (KJV)

Sunday, March 18, 2007


While reading the book, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor (Crossway Books) I came across the following poem by Martha Snell Nicholson. I had read some of her work in the past but this one entitled The Thorn was new to me.

I share it with the prayer that each of us would look beyond the obvious and apparent and trust that God is allowing everything (the thorns and trials) to shape us into the image of His dear Son.


I stood a mendicant* of God before His royal throne
And begged Him for a priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord, this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift that Thou hast given me.
He said, “My child, I give good gifts and give my best to thee.”
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore;
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added Grace.
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.

- Martha Snell Nicholson

* a mendicant is a beggar. The term is also used of those
who set aside all earthly comforts to follow God iimplicitly.

What might God be using your present thorn for?

Trust Him, dear friends! His purposes are always good!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Refuge In His Wings

Greetings, friends!

Today's challenging thought from Chuck Swindoll on my desk calendar reads:

"Peace is the ability to stay calm in spite of the panic of unpleasant circumstances."

"Have mercy on me, O God, for in You my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed." - Psalmn 57:1 (NIV)

So, I guess it's peace or panic and the choice is ultimately mine (and yours). Will we avail ourselves of all He has to freely offer or will we struggle along, paralyzed by the present storm? Let's abide in the shadow of His wings...not only 'til the disaster has passed but moment by moment.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends!

Friday, March 16, 2007

NEEDED...Spiritual Discernment

Friends, it's been awhile since I posted a quote from A. W. Tozer, preacher and writer from a past generation who had such a fruitful ministry in the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination.

Sometimes I feel that I may be using Tozer's insight and reputation to get my own point across but I'll risk that and post these thoughts:

Tozer writes:

Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours? --1 Kings 3:9

"That so-called Bible religion in our times is suffering rapid decline is so evident as to need no proof, but just what has brought about this decline is not so easy to discover. I can only say that I have observed one significant lack among evangelical Christians which might turn out to be the real cause of most of our spiritual troubles. Of course, if that were true, then the supplying of that lack would be our most critical need.The great deficiency to which I refer is the lack of spiritual discernment, especially among our leaders.

How there can be so much Bible knowledge and so little insight, so little moral penetration, is one of the enigmas of the religious world today....If not the greatest need, then surely one of the greatest is for the appearance of Christian leaders with prophetic vision. We desperately need seers who can see through the mist. Unless they come soon, it will be too late for this generation. And if they do come, we will no doubt crucify a few of them in the name of our worldly orthodoxy. But the cross is always the harbinger of the resurrection."

taken from We Travel an Appointed Way, pages 111-112.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hudson Taylor...the Exchanged Life

As many of my readers know, J. Hudson Taylor, the missionary who opened up inland China to the gospel, is one of my heroes. Last week while in England, Roger Steer who authored excellent biographies on both George Muller and Hudson Taylor, gave me a copy of his book on Taylor. What a treasure!

The following excerpt concerning Taylor's struggle to find a fruitful life was taken from an In Touch web site.

The author of this brief article relates the following incident:

After Taylor's return to China in 1865, he feverishly worked and preached, attempting to meet the many needs of the spiritually and physically impoverished residents. However, his struggles were also spiritual. Taylor desperately desired to grow in holiness. But he also knew the frustration of aborted attempts of living the abundant life. He prayed. He fasted often. By the summer of 1869, his spiritual condition had reached the critical state.

"Every day, almost every hour, the consciousness of sin oppressed me. I knew that if only I could abide in Christ all would be well, but I could not. I began the day with prayer, determined not to take my mind off of Him for a moment; but pressure of duties, sometimes very trying, constant interruptions apt to be so wearing, often caused me to forget Him . . . Each day brought its register of sin and failure, of lack of power. To will was indeed present with me, but how to perform I found not." But as Taylor sought the Lord, an answer came in the form of a letter from a friend, John McCarthy.

McCarthy wrote: "I seem to have got to the edge only, but of a sea which is boundless; to have sipped only but of that which fully satisfies. Christ literally all seems to me now the power, the only power for service; the only ground for unchanging joy . . . "How then to have our faith increased? . . . Not a striving to have faith, or to increase our faith, but a looking off to the Faithful One seems all we need; a resting in the Loved One entirely, for time and for eternity."

As Taylor laid McCarthy's letter down, his spiritual eyes were opened and his heart was warmed by the reality of his oneness and identity with Christ. In a letter to his sister some days later, Taylor jubilantly declared his discovery of the "exchanged life."

"As I read [McCarthy's letter] I saw it all! 'If we believe not, he abideth faithful.' I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh, how joy flowed!) that He had said, 'I will never leave you.' 'Ah, there is rest!' I thought. 'I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I'll strive no more. For has He not promised to abide with me—never to leave me, never to fail me? And, dearie, He never will! . . . .

"The sweetest part . . . is the rest which full identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this: for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest positions He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient . . .

"So, if God places me in great perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength? No fear that His resources will be unequal to the emergency! And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me. All this springs from the believer's oneness with Christ."

Dear friends, be encouraged! As we make this journey together may we each discover what it really means to abide in Christ.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Barnabas Is Back

Dear friends, thanks for your patience while Barnabas was away on his British pilgrimage. It was so difficult to post regularly while I was away. Finding internet cafes and places where I could get computer connections wasn't always easy.

I trust that you are encouraged today! Abide in the shadow of the Almighty and you will find strength for every trial.

Have a good and godly weekend!

He Is MY Shepherd!

This picture and slogan is presently being used by the mens' fragrance, Old Spice, in an advertising campaign. I found this particular ad on the back page of the current issue of Sports Illustrated magazine. "THIS MAN LOVES SHEEP." I have no idea what the corelation is between shepherds and after shave lotion but that doesn't matter in this instance. I received a strong and moving message in another direction.

It could have just as aptly been used in the evangelical Christian journal, LEADERSHIP, to depict a local church pastor who tenderly and lovingly cares for his mottled and troubled flock.

It also could fittingly portray the "Good Shepherd of the sheep", the One who leads us by green pastures and still waters. The One who restores our soul.

While traveling in rural England recently I was struck by the pastoral scenes throughout the countryside. The predominant farm animals seen grazing the lush pastures were sheep. The beloved Good Shepherd often came to mind.

He, like the experienced sheep herder in the picture, tenderly lifts His sheep who are called by His name, when they are endangered and lovingly places them back in the fold or strongly holds them to His breast until danger has passed. He knows His sheep by name and calls them to His side. We, too, hear His voice and we follow Him. And He gives unto us, eternal life, and we shall never perish. Neither shall any man, mechanism, demon or devil wrestle us from His strong hold. This Man loves His sheep!

Do you love the Shepherd?

"The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never lose it or perish throughout the ages. [To all eternity they shall never by any means be destroyed.] And no one is able to snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater and mightier than all [else]; and no one is able to snatch [them] out of the Father’s hand." -
John 10:27-30 (Amplified Bible)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Greetings From Barnabas

Dear friends, it's Tuesday evening and my pilgrimage is quickly coming to a close. I've sensed
the presence of God in a wonderful way during these days. Today during a bout of homesickness or lonesomeness (is that a word?) I reminded myself of the truth that the Lord is with me here just as much as he is when I'm home. When we abide in the shadow of the Almighty we have nothing to fear. He is ever present and communes with us if we but listen to His voice.

Please check out Pilgrim Scribblings and pray for my eye condition. I'm not going to obey the biblical injunction to "pluck it out" but I will get it checked out when I arive home.

Thanks for your prayers, dear friends! Be encouraged today!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Blessed Beyond Measure

Dear friends, thanks for your love and prayers as I make my journey across England. I have been encouraged day by day as I've sensed God's presence in a wonderful way. He is faithful and worthy to be praised. Enjoy His love today!

From Bristol, England,


Note: Be sure to check out my latest posts on Pilgrim Scribblings!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Be Encouraged

Beloved friends, be encouraged today! I was as I took in the sights in London. There was an unusual and blessed sense of God's presence with me as I made my way around this huge city. God is good and He is an ever present help. Trust Him today, dear friends!

The tombstones at David Livingstone's grave in Westminster Abbey included this phrase, "For 30 years his life was spent in an unwearied effort to evangelize the native races..."

Let's do our part to let the world know of the Father's love.