The Desiderata

Desiderata (Latin: “desired things”, plural of desideratum) is a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann (1872-1945).

It exhorts the reader to “be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be”, and to “keep peace with your soul”. “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,” wrote Ehrmann, “it is still a beautiful world.”Wikipedia

Unquestionably, some of this prose-poem may be a bit pretentious, it revolves around concepts, at times which are not entirely sound, especially for the Christian believer.

We note these things and look for what we need. My old pastor liked to observe, “Swallow the meat, and spit out the bones.” That seems fitting, especially now. But no matter what we say, this particular work has very much wisdom for each of us. It is worthwhile I think.

This world that we’re immersed in needs hope and peace. Especially now.

  The Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, 1927

 

Things are Not What They Seem

“Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the perilous pestilence.”

He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.”

Psalm 91:3-4, NKJV

I believe that there is great opposition to living free. Satan contests every square inch. His modus operandi parallels the predator. He likes to hunt human beings. We see his power and influence all around us.

I’m being quite careful not to be melodramatic when I say this, but Satan has a terrible plan for your life. He often uses human ‘lackeys’ to carry out his wishes. They will use deception, lies, and foolishness to snare people’s souls. They [he] will even resort to brute force. As a result, many believers are being persecuted for their faith.

14 “David now stayed in the strongholds of the wilderness and in the hill country of Ziph. Saul hunted him day after day, but God didn’t let Saul find him.”
1 Samuel 23:14, NLT
5 “My future is in your hands.  Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.”
Psalm 31:15
7 “We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap. The trap is broken, and we are free!”
Psalm 124:7

And there is plenty more where this comes from. And we haven’t even got to the New Testament yet, where there are substantial references to this kind of attack. The doctrine of Satan is developed further there. Perhaps it is because we encounter the person of Jesus Christ and the act of personal redemption He made for each of us. Through this, we discover that we have an enemy that we were never really aware of before. And guess what— he hates us!

Some New Testament thoughts:
4 “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News.”
2 Corinthians 4:4
12 “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 6:12

Just as we have a personal savior in Jesus, we find we also have an antagonist and a sworn enemy. We didn’t ask for it, and it would be really swell if he didn’t exist at all. But the world’s evil around us has a source and we dare not minimize it.

“There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.”

CS Lewis

 

Our fealty to Jesus becomes critical at times like this. Spiritual warfare has an ebb and a flow to it, sometimes the battles can be intense, and at other times less so. But we can do nothing at all apart from the blood of Christ. We must defend ourselves, by calling out to God, or else we will become a casualty.

  1. We can pray.
  2. We can read the truth (the Bible).
  3. We can praise and worship.
  4. We can put on “the armor of God’ (Ephesians 6:11).
  5. We can “submit to God” (James 4:7).
  6. We can resist Satan and be firm in our faith, (1 Peter 5:9).
  7. We can “plead the blood of Jesus” over our lives, and over our loved ones, (Exodus 12:13)

Probably the capstone is the following verse. This pretty much sums up this ‘act of resistance’ we are all called to do. I wanted to emphasize it because it is critical:

Stay alert!”

“Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8

When Teachability Rides a Chariot

I think this post will wander around a bit, we’ll see if the Father will speak to us somehow.

I really think our lives are made up of the decisions we’re making. At least, it sometimes sees that way.

Some decisions are like ‘forks’ in the road.  They’re made and then they shunt us in another direction. Most are minor–(will it be McDonalds or Pizza Hut?) But the biggies really alter us–very quickly we see that the road is going to take us in a radically different path.

Sometimes, if we’re honest, we will admit to backtracking; retracing our route back to the point we turned.  A lot of time it’s too late, and the moment has past. But we will sometimes learn that sometimes even our detours are part of the journey. (Amazing, isn’t? But He controls it all, and that’s comforting.)

I think I’m starting to learn how to receive correction from others. 

I’ve been mulling over the decision of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:30-31, he wanted to understand the truth:

“So when Philip ran toward the chariot, he heard the man reading from Isaiah the prophet [on his Kindle]. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
 31 He answered, “How can I understand unless someone explains it to me?” Then he invited Philip to climb in and sit with him.”

We see here such a very ‘thoughtful humbleness’– a teachableness of the heart that this eunuch seems to have learned.  He is confident enough in himself to acknowledge that he just doesn’t know. He invites Philip to a Bible study in the chariot.

We are responsible for our receptivity to truth. 

It’s our personal decision to either seek or not seek, to learn, or not to learn.  No one else can do this for us.  We come to a decision point and we go the way things seem to direct us, or we don’t. Again, we must choose.

Sometimes to not make a decision, is a decision.

The book of Proverbs is saturated with ideas on being guided by our humility when it comes in contact with truth.  Furthermore, there are many warnings about receiving correction and reproof gracefully.  For me, I’m learning slowly to receive hard counsel.

When my wife and I made the decision to work in the migrant camps in Mexico there was one elder who kept saying “no!” At first it was a real issue for us. We sort of resented it. But we began to see the blessing of his resistance. It caused us to really analyze our decision, and “count the cost.” We were stepping into a very hard place, and we needed that voice. We were being called to break in “new ground.” It was to be a challenge.

It seems that scriptural truth is almost always negative when it’s first encountered. It often irritates more than it comforts.

It often will not sit well, and I will try to shake it off.  But truth can be remarkably persistent.  ‘Forgive your brother’, the Holy Spirit says.  And you say right away, ‘Not a chance!’  But, give it time, and the Word will soften rock.  If you respond properly, humbly, you be able to make the right decision.

One more thing, Jesus told us in Matthew 18:3,

“I promise you this. If you don’t change and become like a child, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.”

We’ll need to be a complete alteration in our hearts if we are to accommodate His command.  Becoming a child is more difficult as an adult– then becoming an adult is for a child.  Becoming small again takes a great amount of brokenness and it’s never really mastered.

God fully intends to work with you in this. 

God wants you to learn teachableness. He brings others to direct you. The Holy Spirit ignites the Word that’ll light your path. He doesn’t seem to ever give up.  He is wonderfully persistent–He never really does give up.

“The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them.”

Proverbs 18:15, LB

The Prayer of a Minor Prophet

A prayer by A.W. Tozer

Every now and then, I come across something that will not fit into the scope of Brokenbelievers. This is one of those times. I share it with my brothers and sisters who serve Jesus in any leadership capacity in the Church. I think it’s fitting that this be shared as we step into 2022. These are challenging times to serve him; but not dangerous–at least not yet.

The Prayer of a Minor Prophet was originally written on August 18, 1920. It still means a lot to ordained/non-ordained serving in the ministry. I suppose it still speaks to every leader in every Church. You may want to copy and keep this for those hard times that will come to each of us. Could it be that you might want to share this word with the leaders of your local fellowship?

The article was written on the day of Tozer’s ordination into the ministry.

O Lord, I have heard Thy voice and was afraid. Thou has called me to an awesome task in a grave and perilous hour. Thou art about to shake all nations and the earth and also heaven, that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. O Lord, my Lord, Thou has stooped to honor me to be Thy servant. No man taketh this honor upon himself save he that is called of God as was Aaron. Thou has ordained me Thy messenger to them that are stubborn of heart and hard of hearing. They have rejected Thee, the Master, and it is not to be expected that they will receive me, the servant.

1897-1963

My God, I shall not waste time deploring my weakness nor my unfittedness for the work. The responsibility is not mine, but Thine. Thou has said, “I knew thee – I ordained thee – I sanctified thee,” and Thou hast also said, “Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” Who am I to argue with Thee or to call into question Thy sovereign choice? The decision is not mine but Thine. So be it, Lord. Thy will, not mine, be done.

Well do I know, Thou God of the prophets and the apostles, that as long as I honor Thee Thou will honor me. Help me therefore to take this solemn vow to honor Thee in all my future life and labors, whether by gain or by loss, by life or by death, and then to keep that vow unbroken while I live.

It is time, O God, for Thee to work, for the enemy has entered into Thy pastures and the sheep are torn and scattered. And false shepherds abound who deny the danger and laugh at the perils which surround Thy flock. The sheep are deceived by these hirelings and follow them with touching loyalty while the wolf closes in to kill and destroy. I beseech Thee, give me sharp eyes to detect the presence of the enemy; give me understanding to see and courage to report what I see faithfully. Make my voice so like Thine own that even the sick sheep will recognize it and follow Thee.

Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me. Anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Forbid that I should be come a religious scribe and thus lose my prophetic calling. Save me from the curse that lies dark across the modern clergy, the curse of compromise, of imitation, of professionalism. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet – not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

I accept hard work and small rewards in this life. I ask for no easy place. I shall try to be blind to the little ways that could make life easier. If others seek the smoother path I shall try to take the hard way without judging them too harshly. I shall expect opposition and try to take it quietly when it comes. Or if, as sometimes it falleth out to Thy servants, I should have grateful gifts pressed upon me by Thy kindly people, stand by me then and save me from the blight that often follows. Teach me to use whatever I receive in such manner that will not injure my soul nor diminish my spiritual power. And if in Thy permissive providence honor should come to me from Thy church, let me not forget in that hour that I am unworthy of the least of Thy mercies, and that if men knew me as intimately as I know myself they would withhold their honors or bestow them upon others more worthy to receive them.

And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven.

Though I am chosen of Thee and honored by a high and holy calling, let me never forget that I am but a man of dust and ashes, a man with all the natural faults and passions that plague the race of men. I pray Thee, therefore, my Lord and Redeemer, save me from myself and from all the injuries I may do myself while trying to be a blessing to others. Fill me with Thy power by the Holy Spirit, and I will go in Thy strength and tell of Thy righteousness, even Thine only. I will spread abroad the message of redeeming love while my normal powers endure.

Then, dear Lord, when I am old and weary and too tired to go on, have a place ready for me above, and make me to be numbered with Thy saints in glory everlasting. Amen.

AMEN.

Written in 1950, Aiden Wilson Tozer was 23 years old when he was called to pastor a new church in Clarksburg, West Virginia. On August 18, 1920 at a campground a few miles outside Cleveland, Ohio, leaders of the Christian and Missionary Alliance scheduled an ordination service.

After the formal ceremony, Tozer slipped away from the crowd and found a quiet place to be alone with God. He never forgot what he prayed that evening and years later as the new editor for the Alliance Weekly, Tozer published his prayer in an article “For Pastors Only: Prayer of a Minor Prophet” (May 6, 1950).

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