Conversation: Fare

Luke 14:
27And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
 29Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
 30Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
 31Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
 32Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
 33So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.





(Taken from Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman)

Whatever the Cost

"'Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son...I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven;…because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Gen. 22:16-18).

And from that day to this, men have been learning that when, at God's voice, they surrender up to Him the one thing above all else that was dearest to their very hearts, that same thing is returned to them by Him a thousand times over. Abraham gives up his one and only son, at God's call, and with this disappear all his hopes for the boy's life and manhood, and for a noble family bearing his name. But the boy is restored, the family becomes as the stars and sands in number, and out of it, in the fullness of time, appears Jesus Christ.
That is just the way God meets every real sacrifice of every child of His. We surrender all and accept poverty; and He sends wealth. We renounce a rich field of service; He sends us a richer one than we had dared to dream of. We give up all our cherished hopes, and die unto self; He sends us the life more abundant, and tingling joy. And the crown of it all is our Jesus Christ. For we can never know the fullness of the life that is in Christ until we have made Abraham's supreme sacrifice. The earthly founder of the family of Christ must commence by losing himself and his only son, just as the Heavenly Founder of that family did. We cannot be members of that family with the full privileges and joys of membership upon any other basis. --C. G. Trumbull

We sometimes seem to forget that what God takes He takes in fire; and that the only way to the resurrection life and the ascension mount is the way of the garden, the cross, and the grave.
Think not, O soul of man, that Abraham's was a unique and solitary experience. It is simply a specimen and pattern of God's dealings with all souls who are prepared to obey Him at whatever cost. After thou hast patiently endured, thou shalt receive the promise. The moment of supreme sacrifice shall be the moment of supreme and rapturous blessing. God's river, which is full of water, shall burst its banks, and pour upon thee a tide of wealth and grace. There is nothing, indeed, which God will not do for a man who dares to step out upon what seems to be the mist; though as he puts down his foot he finds a rock beneath him. --F. B. Meyer

Dancing Before the Lord's Pleasure 

 Honest with God


My thought went early this morning to a scene in the classic movie The Bible. Portions of the Book of Genesis are portrayed vividly. In particular I remember John Huston with that big smile, taking the part of Noah and welcoming the animals into the Ark. I remember also a cranky George C. Scott as Abraham in his time of testing with the commanded mountain-top sacrifice of son Isaac.

It surprised me that Scott would roar as he scaled the height with his son and the firewood and the flame. But how much more real it seemed than a bland obeisance. Much of the religious art fails to get this. The son is a young man. Everything his Father orders he obeys. He climbs upon the makeshift stone altar. He allows the bindings. He remembers the Father's words of a short time before, "The boy and I will be back after a while".

Such faith! In old age, Abraham and Sarah had received the son of their hopes. God had declared that through Isaac would come a nation of special promise, and in fact many nations. God had also proclaimed a new name for His servant. No longer Abram, but rather Abraham, (father of many nations). Imagine this old boy going around and introducing himself, "Hello I am Abraham, Father of Many Nations". The dream was built into his fabric. But now the command. Take your son. Go up that mountain. Render him there unto me as a burnt offering. How can this be? A killing of the child of promise? What comes after death? A resurrection?

The film then plays out rapidly. The knife raised. The angel intervenes. The substitute lamb observed caught in the thicket. The son removed from the place of death. The old man and his precious boy dancing mountain high before the felt pleasure of their Great God, as the fire burns. Camera zooms up and high to present the two, almost as little ants. God's point of view on this happy, never to be forgotten obedience and faith. And the viewer is certain that God is smiling and right on course. The End...The Beginning.


Take Now Thy Son...


“My Lord God, is that you,
This strange thing must I do;
In taking my dear son unto Moriah,
To have him harshly bound
And flung upon the ground,
A sacrifice consumed with holy fire?”

“Yes friend, that was my voice.
I’m giving you the choice
To render all according to my will.
The child you had from me,
And now I plan to see
If you intend to trust my wisdom still.”

We know the glad outcome,
Young Isaac rescued from
His father’s hand poised high with gleaming blade.
An angel halts the knife:
“Take not the young lad’s life.
Your precious faith in God has been displayed.”

And do we all not yearn
In each our ways to earn
The thrilling blessing of the Lord’s “well done”?
Who knows what test will try
Our mettle bye and bye,
In giving up a treasure, dream or son?

For no delight on earth
May jeopardize the worth
Of growing in the Lord’s love, hour by hour.
Perhaps He may require
That loved thing for the fire,
To give it back in resurrection power.




Utterly abandoned to the Holy Ghost!
Seeking all His fulness at whatever cost;
Cutting all the shore-lines, launching in the deep
Of His mighty power--strong to save and keep.
Utterly abandoned to the Holy Ghost!
Oh! the sinking, sinking, until self is lost!
Until the emptied vessel lies broken at His feet;
Waiting till His filling shall make the work complete.
Utterly abandoned to the will of God;
Seeking for no other path than my Master trod;
Leaving ease and pleasure, making Him my choice,
Waiting for His guidance, listening for His voice.
Utterly abandoned! no will of my own;
For time and for eternity, His, and His alone;
All my plans and purposes lost in His sweet will,
Having nothing, yet in Him all things possessing still.
Utterly abandoned! 'tis so sweet to be
Captive in His bonds of love, yet so wondrous free;
Free from sin's entanglements, free from doubt and fear,
Free from every worry, burden, grief or care.
Utterly abandoned! oh, the rest is sweet,
As I tarry, waiting, at His blessed feet;
Waiting for the coming of the Guest divine,
Who my inmost being shall perfectly refine.
Lo! He comes and fills me, Holy Spirit sweet!
I, in Him, am satisfied! I, in Him, complete!
And the light within my soul shall nevermore grow dim
While I keep my covenant--abandoned unto Him!

--Author Unknown

(I found this today in Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman)


(Taken from Psalm 131 in Treasury of David by Charles Spurgeon)

Verse 2. I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned. Weaned from what? Self sufficiency, self will, self seeking. From creatures and the things of the world—not; indeed, as to their use, but as to any dependence upon them for his happiness and portion...Yet this experience is no easy attainment. The very form of expression—"I have behaved and quieted myself", reminds us of some risings which were with difficulty subdued. There is a difference here between Christ and Christians. In him the exercise of grace encountered no adverse principles; but in them it meets with constant opposition. The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and when we would do good evil is present with us; hence the warfare within. So it is with "the child that is weaned." The task to the mother is trying and troublesome. The infant cries, and seems to sob out his heart. He thinks it very hard in her, and knows not what she means by her seeming cruelty, and the mother's fondness renders all her firmness necessary to keep her at the process; and sometimes she also weeps at the importunity of his dear looks, and big tears, and stretched out hands. But it must be done, and therefore, though she pities, she perseveres; and after a while he is soothed and satisfied, forgets the breast, and no longer feels even a hankering after his former pleasure. But how is the weaning of the child accomplished? By embittering the member to his lips; by the removal of the object in the absence and concealment of the mother; by the substitution of other food; by the influence of time. So it is with us. We love the world, and it deceives us. We depend on creatures, and they fail us, and pierce us through with many sorrows. We enter forbidden paths, and follow after our lovers; and our way is hedged up with thorns; and we then say, "Return unto thy rest, O my soul; and now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee." The enjoyment of a greater good subdues the relish of a less. What are the indulgences of sin, or the dissipations of the world to one who is abundantly satisfied with the goodness of God's house, and is made to drink of the river of his pleasures?—William Jay (1769-1853), in "Evening Exercises for the Closet"

NOTE: This is taken from the classic comments added at the end of Spurgeon's own exposition on the Psalm.

By the Fingernails

At nightfall the man stumbles off the cliff side and manages to grab some tree roots on the way down. Holding on for dear life. It is exceedingly dark. Sound of booming surf behind and below. Looks like a helpless situation and a fatal fall. Suddenly he hears a voice say, "Let go of the roots and I will save you." He dismisses the message as a delusion and struggles to hold . But his hands and shoulders are hurting like hell. He finds himself speaking to the voice, "Prove that you are real and I will let go." The answer, "Nope that's not my way...first you must let go."

Similar exchange goes on for some time and finally the exhausted man releases his grip and falls back and down into the darkness. Five and a half feet onto a sandy beach!

Every believer has had this experience with the promises of God. But has found such promises to be true, and has gone on to discover an amazing cohesiveness and unity in the scriptures. (starting in a garden; ending in a garden; starting with a failure of one man; ending with a victory of one man; starting with a conflict between woman and serpent; ending with a victory of woman's seed over serpent; mercy extended in the midst of wrath; starting and ending with a blood covenant; man's relationship with God - an estrangement and then a reconciliation)

But God is more than the scriptures, more than promises proved true. They are simply a means to understanding, trust and fellowship with Him.

 The Bus Fare
Years ago I thoroughly enjoyed reading "The Hiding Place" and "Tramp for the Lord", books written by Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983) and telling of her itinerant life both during and after the Second World War.

Her family of clock-makers in Holland were arrested by the Nazis for harbouring Jewish people in their home. In the camp Corrie proved a real blessing to the women around her, conducting Bible studies and talking through problems. Her sister became ill and was denied crucial medical care. Corrie remembers discovering her dead body stacked with others like so much cord-wood. In the closing days of the war Corrie miraculously escaped one final truckload of prisoners destined for the gas ovens.

In the post-war years she became convinced that her major purpose was to assist in establishing forgiveness, trust and cooperation between the ravaged peoples of Europe. Upon simple invitations she travelled extensively to tell her story in small community halls, hospitals and churches. Jesus had been her hiding place.

Arrangements always seemed to be last-minute and Corrie would jokingly tell friends that "God never provided the bus fare until she was about ready to take the trip."
How often have I thought of this quaint saying when considering an imminent trial, challenge or difficulty. Corrie's experience and wisdom have helped.

The story is also told of her visit to a crippled patient in a hospital ward. Anger and self-pity consumed the man. He would hear none of her Jesus. Undeterred, Corrie reached into her purse and produced a nearly completed work of needlepoint. She held the underside of the piece toward the man, all twisted, knotted and seemingly messy. "My friend, this must be your point of view on your life. But remember two things: 1) It is unfinished and 2) You do not have God's point of view on the project."
Corrie then turned the needlepoint over to reveal a beautiful still-life image.

Another incident involved the aftermath of a town-hall meeting when she was approached by a man whom she recognized as one of the most senior and brutal of guards at the prison camp. Smiling awkwardly, he advised that he had turned his life over to Christ and had repented of all the evil done during the war. Could she find it in her heart to forgive him?

Corrie's thoughts raced over the next few seconds. She saw the camp. The young women in despair. The indignities. The seemingly endless menial labour. Her sister's dead body. The deadly truck departures. In an unspoken prayer she confessed that she did not have the grace to forgive. Would God provide it. A sensation of warmth passed through her right arm and it was extended by reflex for the handshake. Both individuals were then teary-eyed and the kiss on the cheek and the embrace were soon accomplished. No longer enemies. But family.

Here again was the bus fare.

Ready, Like the Donkey

They said, the Lord hath need of him - Luke 19:34

Oh, could I hear Thee say as much of me, my blessed Lord! Here, where two ways meet, I have been standing long, waiting for a purpose worthy to fill my soul, and task the powers that are, as yet, only in the first burst of young life.

Thou needest much and many in Thy great redemptive work. The boat to cross the lake; the line to catch the fish; the bread and fish to feed the crowds; the baskets to gather up the fragments; the chalice to hold the wine; the dish to hold the sop; the little child to be the text for Thy sermon; the clay for the blind man's eyes; the tender women to minister of their substance; the apostles to preach Thy Gospel. Canst Thou not find a nitch for me also?

Thou requirest undivided loyalty. - Born of the Virgin's womb, laid in death where man's dust had never come, Thou must have a colt on which none had ever sat. I cannot give Thee a heart which has never known another; but I profess to Thee that there is no rival now. Thou mayest have all. Thine is the Kingdom.

Thou requirest patience and humility. - But these, also, Thou hast taught. I have waited patiently till this glad hour, and am quieted and humbled like a weaned child. No longer do I seek great things for myself. It is enough for me to be and do anything, if only Thou shalt be glorified.

Thou requirest, perhaps, but one brief service. - To serve Thee always with increasing fervor would be my choice; but if Thou needest only one brief, glad hour of ministry, like that the good Ananias did to Thy Church when he ministered to Saul, then be it so. To prepare for it, and revert to it, would be my satisfaction in having lived.

(Taken from Our Daily Homily by F. B. Meyer)

Here I Am to Worship



No Nasty Memory



We all have such trouble with our memories. Painful or disappointing experiences of the past which we cannot shake. People we find it hard to forgive. Dark experiences which still bring on the scowl.

We need to take many hard and long looks at Jesus and the mighty reservoir of forgiveness available to Him. We need to supplicate for the mercy of forgiveness.

Take a look at the story of the morning visit and breakfast on the beach after the resurrection (John 21). Some of the disciples had had a rough night at fishing. A man calls out to them from the shore, "Children, have ye any meat?" They answer in the negative, and he suggests that they toss nets again over the other side. There is then a miraculous haul. John recognizes that "it is the Lord".

Peter in his excitement leaps out and strides the waves to be the first one to the Master's side. I suspect that the others graciously held back so that their ring-leader could have a private moment.

That moment holds precious treasure for us! In three exchanges Jesus asks His friend "Do you love me?" Present tense. These three opportunities were gladly taken to flush out the pain of the three cowardly denials of a few days earlier. Jesus does not refer to that abandonment by Peter. It is forgiven. Eternal Life has a much more charitable agenda. The here and now is the thing. Do you love me? Oh yes, Master, most definitely.

I am reminded of a passage in
Micah 7:

18Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

19He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Let these thoughts rise to the surface the next time we have an episode of nasty memory or self-condemnation.


Release the Pain!


My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)



What Man Desiring to Build...?


In Luke 14 Jesus spoke of a man desiring to build and a king desiring to wage war. He likened those situations of counting the cost to that serious deliberation to be undertaken by prospective disciples to His cause. Were they prepared to give up all to follow?

G. Campbell Morgan in his exposition says the following:

When Charles Haddon Spurgeon issued a magazine, he called it, The Sword and Trowel. What made Spurgeon call the magazine that? He selected the title from the story of Nehemiah. But no one supposes that he named a Christian magazine because of the story only, save as he recognized its profounder significance. Nehemiah, and the men who built the walls of the city did so with the sword in one hand, and the trowel in the other. Thus our Lord's illustrations harmonized with the revealed activities of God.

Look again at that interested crowd, attracted, inclined towards Him. He turned and gave them the terms of discipleship, and I believe that He saw on the faces of that crowd revelations of its thinking. The thinking of the crowd was the thinking of the human heart, the thinking of my heart. They looked at Him, as though they would say, But why make Thy terms so severe. We are all interested, we are all attracted, we are all ready to make Thee King if Thou wilt only consent in a certain way. We would like to be enrolled.

Seeing that look, and knowing the human heart, He said in effect: I will tell you why My terms are severe. I am in the world for building and for battle. I want men and women who will stand by Me until the building is done, and the battle won. Jesus is far more concerned with quality than with quantity. If the Church of God could only discover that lesson today, what a sifting there would be in church rolls. How soon we should be cleansed from our unholy boasting that we have a large membership. The story of Gideon is still applicable. God can do more with three hundred men that lap, than with thirty-two thousand of a mixed multitude. The Lord needs men He can depend upon to stand by Him, laying brick on brick, though the bullets fly, until He has won His war, and built His city. That is why His terms are severe.

All this He finally emphasized by another "therefore."

"Salt therefore is good."

He changed His figure of speech, returning to one He had used to the disciples in an earlier period of His ministry;

"Ye are the salt of the earth.”

"Salt therefore is good.”

But what good is it when it has lost its savour? With a fine scorn He says,

"It is fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill; men cast it out."

It is no use. Men and women are no use to Me, said Jesus, unless they have the true property of salt. A Scotch version renders that, If it have lost its tang. "Tang" is a good biting word. People who look upon Christianity as something pleasant and easy, have no tang, no bite, no aseptic influence in the world, nothing to stop the spread of corruption.

"If the salt have lost its tang, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is fit neither for the land, nor for the dunghill; men cast it out.”



Your Cross

Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me...(Luke 14: 27a)
You have it. Increasingly you are coming to know it. A cross. A burden that grates the will, slows the apparent progress, humiliates in the presence of puzzled onlookers.
It is not His cross. The monumental one-time offering for atonement for sin at Golgotha. That transaction required a blameless first-born "lamb". Only Christ proved Himself worthy. Only complete obedience and holiness, garbed in flesh, could suffer so intensely the wrongdoing of perverted justice of men. And purchase with blood the satisfaction of the Heavenly Father.
But there is something that you desire that the Spirit will not allow you to have. Time and again you consider going forward, only to register again that inward check; only to discover again that portion of scripture which blocks your path. It is as if you are in your own Gethsemane, your own "olive press", and you travail over your will in contradistinction to His.
"OK Father, I will pick this one up and carry it, because You have so instructed. It is mine in particular and not another's. I will bring You satisfaction in the effort. I will find somewhere in and through it your love and good intention. Because You are Father and loving and good. Somehow this makes me more like you. May I come to see the spiritual currency acquired in this fashion, and may it sustain and comfort others in the faith."

Worship in  the Night
(An entry in Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman)

"Ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord. The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion" (Ps. 134:1, 3).

Strange time for adoration, you say, to stand in God's house by night, to worship in the depth of sorrow --it is indeed an arduous thing. Yes, and therein lies the blessing; it is the test of perfect faith. If I would know the love of my friend I must see what it can do in the winter. So with the Divine love. It is easy for me to worship in the summer sunshine when the melodies of life are in the air and the fruits of life are on the tree. But let the song of the bird cease and the fruit of the tree fall, and will my heart still go on to sing? Will I stand in God's house by night? Will I love Him in His own night? Will I watch with Him even one hour in His Gethsemane? Will I help to bear His cross up the dolorous way? Will I stand beside Him in His dying moments with Mary and the beloved disciple? Will I be able with Nicodemus to take up the dead Christ? Then is my worship complete and my blessing glorious. My love has come to Him in His humiliation. My faith has found Him in His lowliness. My heart has recognized His majesty through His mean disguise, and I know at last that I desire not the gift but the Giver. When I can stand in His house by night I have accepted Him for Himself alone. --George Matheson

Rutherford's Golden Pen

Letter to MARION MCNAUGHT, when persecuted for her principles

WELL-BELOVED SISTER, -- I have been thinking, since my departure from you, of the pride and malice of your adversaries; and ye may not (since ye have had the Book of Psalms so often) take hardly with this; for David's enemies snuffed at him, and through the pride of their heart said, 'The Lord will not require it' (Ps. 10.13). I beseech you, therefore, in the bowels of Jesus, set before your eyes the patience of your forerunner Jesus, who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him who judgeth righteously (I Pet. 2.23). And since your Lord and Redeemer with patience received many a black stroke on His glorious back, and many a buffet of the unbelieving world, and says of Himself, 'I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting' (Isa. 50.6); follow Him and think it not hard that you receive a blow with your Lord. Take part with Jesus of His sufferings, and glory in the marks of Christ. If this storm were over, you must prepare yourself for a new wound; for, five thousand years ago, our Lord proclaimed deadly war betwixt the Seed of the Woman and the seed of the Serpent. Be you upon Christ's side of it, and care not what flesh can do. Hold yourself fast by your Savior, howbeit you be buffeted, and those that follow Him. Yet a little while and the wicked shall not be. 'We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed' (II Cor. 4.8, 9). If you can possess your soul in patience, their day is coming. Worthy and dear sister, know to carry yourself in trouble; and when you are hated and reproached, the Lord shows it to you -- 'All this is come upon us, yet have we not forgotten Thee, neither have we dealt falsely in Thy covenant' (Ps. 44.17). 'Unless Thy law had been my delight, I had perished in mine affliction' (Ps. 119.92). Keep God's covenant in your trials; hold you by His blessed word, and sin not; flee anger, wrath, grudging, envyving, fretting; forgive a hundred pence to your fellow-servant, because your Lord hath forgiven you ten thousand talents: for, I assure you by the Lord, your adversaries shall get no advantage against you, except you sin, and offend your Lord, in your sufferings. But the way to overcome is by patience, forgiving and praying for your enemies, in doing whereof you heap coals upon their heads, and your Lord shall open a door to you in your trouble: wait upon Him, as the night watch waiteth for the morning. He will not tarry. Go up to your watch-tower, and come not down, but by prayer, and faith, and hope, wait on. When the sea is full, it will ebb again; and so soon as the wicked come to the top of their pride, and are waxed high and mighty, then is their change approaching; they that believe make not haste. Now, again, I trust in our Lord, you shall by faith sustain yourself and comfort yourself in your Lord, and be strong in His power; for you are in the beaten and common way to heaven, when you are under our Lord's crosses. You have reason to rejoice in it, more than in a crown of gold; and rejoice and be glad to bear the reproaches of Christ. I rest, recommending you and yours forever, to the grace and mercy of God. Yours in Christ.

ANWOTH, Feb, 11, 1631

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Doug Blair,
Dec 9, 2012, 9:08 PM