Tag Archive for servant

Divine Coincidence

Have you discovered that Almighty God wants to take part in your daily work? Here’s one example from my own experience.

Matching a hymn text with the right tune can be tricky, painstaking business. But years ago I began receiving tune ideas from the Lord. Sometimes I would hear an original tune in my head. Other times I would feel prompted toward a folk or classical tune in one of my sources. I would set the tune aside in my “pending” pile, put it out of my mind, and go on with my work.

Then within days the Lord would give me a lyric idea separately, from my Bible study or from an audio book I was listening to. Sometimes it happened the other way around. The text idea would come first, then the tune.

What was amazing was how often I’d find the perfect match for the text or tune there near the top of my “pending” file. I had forgotten about the first one until the second showed up and I went looking for a mate. The two had come to me entirely separately, though in the same time frame.

At first, I considered it mere coincidence. But it began to happen so regularly that I coined a term for it: divine coincidence.

But it wasn’t just texts and tunes that came together so marvelously. Often a thought or scripture would come to me from my daily reading or listening that was exactly what I needed for some current writing endeavor. I hadn’t gone looking for it. It just jumped out at me.

Some would explain such phenomenon as the subconscious working of the mind. And I can’t claim to explain all the workings of this amazing brain the Lord has given us.

But God regularly uses divine coincidence to remind me that He deeply, personally, constantly cares about my daily activities. My work is His work, and He doesn’t abandon me to it. He works beside me all day, every day. The Spirit of the sovereign, almighty, universal God works through me. He will work through you as well. How wonderful is that!

Father, all our work is Your work. Keep us open. Keep us listening. Keep us dependent on You.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21, NASB)

A Study in Failure, Part 1

A few months ago I told the story of how God called my wife and me to involvement in our local church evangelism program. (See What Could You Do If Nothing Else Mattered? [scroll down] and What Could You Do if Nothing Else Mattered? cont.) I wrote monthly mailers as part of Neighbor to Neighbor, an effort to draw our church’s neighborhood to Christ.

As that program wound down, the Lord began speaking to me about continuing to draw people to Him. My training, gifts, and God-given interests are in writing and publishing. Yes, I want to stay available to God in all areas, and He does sometimes lead me into unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory. I thank Him for that. Life in God is an adventure, and I don’t want to fearfully draw borders around where I’ll follow Him. But I do find that the bulk of the work He leads me to do is in areas where He has called and prepared me. For me, that means writing and publishing.

So at this point, He had me thinking about how I could write and publish materials to draw people to Him. I thank God for Christian publishers and all the suppliers, distributors, and stores who work with them. I’ve spent my life in this field. But I also know that Christian bookstores effectively reach only a tiny part of the population. Over time, it became clear that God was calling me to provide materials for people who wouldn’t walk into a Christian bookstore and buy and read a book. He was calling me to start my own specialized publishing venture.

I am not an entrepreneur by nature! Some people are energized by the process of starting and building their own companies. Not me! Give me a steady job and a predictable routine.

What’s more, I know that publishing is a hectic business. Wow, do I know that! I’ve spent my life in a publishing office. You’re constantly loaded with more work than you can possibly handle. And by the time you have one success, you’re already late for the next one. Publishing programs are voraciously hungry and must be fed more often than a newborn. The pressure is relentless.

Add to that the demands of starting a new business, and I just didn’t see how I could possibly do it. What’s more, I had gone through a serious burnout less than ten years before. If you’ve ever had that experience, you know that once is enough. I simply couldn’t make myself face all that stress and overload again. I couldn’t! It’s like lying down in a blazing fire. You just can’t force yourself to do it.

I told the Lord that He had the wrong person. I told Him that I wanted to obey Him, but I just didn’t see how I could possibly start my own publishing company.

Then came one of those times of communication from the Lord that were crystal clear. Usually He guides me by strong impressions on my heart and mind. I’ve never heard His voice audibly, but on a few occasions He’s clearly spoken specific words in my heart.

This is what He said: “Do what I tell you to do one day at a time, and leave everything else to Me.” I’ve tried to live by that wisdom ever since.

 continued on Friday

For You Alone

Lord, if all I do in Your service is done for You,
in response to Your grace to me,
in response to Your call to service,
in response to Your constant leading,
in Your strength alone,
for Your purposes alone,
then why do I still hunger for the praise
and acceptance of people?
Why, Lord?

Free me from such desires for praise that is
vain, empty, and undeserved,
based as much on ignorance as on truth,
misleading to those who offer the praise,
destructive to me who receives the praise.
Help me to find joy only
in serving You.

And when time has proven the irrelevance
of all other measures of success,
I will stand before You.
You will look into my eyes and say,
“Well done,
my good and faithful servant.
Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: He’ll Understand and Say, “Well Done!”
Printed Music & Lyrics

A Musician’s Prayer

“Speak, for Your servant is listening.”
(1 Samuel 3:10, NASB)

Father, when I am asked to serve,
I will be willing.
When I am not asked,
I will accept it joyfully
as Your decision, my Lord.

You are always good,
and I am simply Your servant.
I will not crave a place of service
You have given to another.

Thank you for Your generous and wise love.

The Power of Influence: Introduction

What people have influenced you the most? That’s what I hope you’ll be thinking about as you read this series of blog posts, beginning today. Each Wednesday for the next few months I’ll be talking about an individual who has influenced me in very significant ways.

I have two goals for this series:

  1. I hope you’ll think with gratitude about the people who have influenced you.
  1. I hope you’ll ponder your influence on others.

A few years ago while my wife, Gloria, worked at a local seminary, we attended a staff retreat. In one small group, we were asked what people had influenced us the most over the course of our lives. A whole host of names were written on the board. Then the leader asked us why they had influenced us so significantly. Again, the responses were recorded on the board.

At the end, we reflected on all the reasons why we were influenced by the significant people in our lives. Among all those reasons, there was not a single professional ability. No one had been had been nominated as a significant influencer because they were brilliant or talented. The people who had influenced us the most were those who had taken the time to care about us personally. 

Do you want to be a good, godly influence on someone? Care about them, and show it by investing your time, one-on-one.

My own list of influencers will include a number of people who took time to care about me. But you’ll also see a few people from the past…people of a different time whom I’ve never met. They made my list because their passion ignited my passion.

Creative work can be lonely. Serving God in any capacity can be lonely. Part of His training often involves separating His servants completely to Himself. Decades after He called me to serve Him, that loneliness is still part of my ongoing experience. I often feel like it is just Him and me in this work.

But that’s never been the truth. He has always given me companions—companions who shared my heart for the work and who generously shared with me their much-needed abilities. A few of these very significant people won’t get their own article in the weeks that follow, so please allow me to thank them here:

  • Dr. Edwin Willmington, head of the Fred Bock Institute of Music at Fuller Seminary. He is a wise and talented Christian musician who has an important ministry in connecting people who need to know each other. I have been a grateful recipient of that ministry more than once. Thank you, Ed!
  • Dennis Allen, composer, arranger, producer, keyboard player, and now college professor. If you have heard any of our recordings on LNWhymns.com, you’ve enjoyed Dennis’ work. He has arranged, produced, and played keyboards on every new demo we’ve ever done—many hundreds. His talented wife, Nan, has done all the female solos, and his equally-talented son, Mark, has recorded most of the male solos. What God-sends they have been! 
  • My daughter, Kindra Bible, full-time missionary stationed in Quito, Ecuador, and computer programmer. (Yes, with modern communications, some missionaries are computer programmers!) How could a techno-phobe like me ever have such a wonderful website? She’s the answer.

Thank you, Ed, Dennis, and Kindra! I humbly thank God for each one of you.

With each of us, our lives can play important parts in a purpose much greater than we could ever imagine. The sovereign God of all reality can use each of us to influence precious people, present and future. So stay faithful in the place He has put you.

A Servant’s Prayer

Lord, even as Your son, Your servant,
I catch myself grasping for
what I cannot attain.
I find myself coveting
the ideal job,
a chosen area of service,
financial security,
personal recognition and esteem,
or sometimes,
just escape from here to anywhere.
Looking up to You,
I long for these as if they were
Your best blessings,
Your finest gifts,
my rightful inheritance as Your child.

“Why doesn’t He answer?” I wonder.
“Maybe He just doesn’t respond to me . . .
or maybe I’m not worthy.”

But as these feelings arise,
I am reminded that even in that moment,
I am with You, my God.
In the awesomeness of Your presence
I step back.
I bow to Your wisdom.
I quiet myself in Your love.

Lord, this is my one prayer:
In Your mercy,
align me with Your purposes.
Give me a place to serve You
in utter humility and
selfless gratitude.

My heart is not proud, O Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me . . .
not grasping for You for what I can get,
but simply resting in Your presence,
enjoying the warmth of Your love.

My God, You are my hope,
now and forever.
(Psalm 131, NIV and para.)