Over the years I've heard literally hundreds of people quote the first line of William Cowper's ageless hymn. We really need to "hear him out" and see what else he had to say. Cowper (1731-1800) was a Christian hymn writer and poet who battled severe depression, attempted suicide numerous times and spent time in insane asylums as they used to be called. John Newton, the converted slave ship captain, (Amazing Grace) befriended Cowper and walked with him through his darkest days/years.
These lyrics are powerful. I've read them repeatedly over the years. I'm reminded that God has a plan and even though we often can't understand why He does what He does in our lives...He is working things out for our good and His glory.
GOD MOVES IN A MYSTERIOUS WAY
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm
Deep in unsearchable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works HIs sovereign will
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His grace
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face
His purposes will ripen fast
Unfolding every hour
The bud may have a bitter taste
But sweet will be the flower
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain
God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain
The following lyrics came to me recently after playing the keyboard in the basement for about half an hour. It had been a stressful day. I turned off the keyboard, turned out the light and this is what came to me: The music had stopped And the lights had gone out Yet I lingered long after the song: In the stillness I heard God's encouraging word "I've been with you all the day long." The sweet voice of the Master had calmed me My day had been fraught with despair: As I sat there in deep contemplation I knew that the Lord had been there. May 6th, 2020 David W. Fisher
Toby Mac has posted some very profound truths/memes since the tragic passing of his son...in the prime of his life. I must confess...it is difficult to remain quiet...even when (you know) you're right. I'm working on it!
Thinking of mom as I was shaving this morning, these words came to mind. The tune is the same as the classic..."I'll Be Home For Christmas."
"I'll be "home" for Christmas God has called me there; No more suffering, grief or pain I'm in my Saviour's care. Christmas Eve will find me Singing 'round God's throne, I'll be home for Christmas But I won't be alone!"
We miss you, mom!!!
NOTE: My mother went home to be with the Lord she loved and served on Thursday, December 19th, 2019. She would have been 95 on January 7th, 2020.
One evening I was enjoying a meal with my sons Matthew and Nathan in a restaurant not far from home when something caught my attention. From my vantage point I looked out across a farmer’s field, covered in snow with a few old stalks of corn breaking through the crusty, icy ground. Even though I was supposed to be engaged in meaningful conversation with the boys, my mind was racing and a variety of thoughts were fighting for my attention. The beauty of that pastoral setting was negated by deep concerns. A flock of blackbirds landed on the field trying to find some nourishment. Frustrated, they flew off to look elsewhere. My mind went to Matthew’s gospel where the former tax collector writes of the care of the Creator for His creatures, birds and mankind, feathered and fearful. He penned these words two thousand years ago. They still have a profound impact today. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns; and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25-27) Taken from the Pilgrim Scribblings archives...written in December 2004.
Today I went mining in the archives of this Pilgrim Scribblings blog and found this post from 15 years ago about a missionary, a book and a poem. Perhaps the book that most shaped my life as a young man was "By Searching" by Isobel Kuhn. She sensed the call of God to take the gospel to the Lisu people in China. The first chapter is entitled "On To The Misty Flats" and begins with a poem by John Oxenham. I've recalled this poem many times over the years and thought of it again this morning. Here it is for your perusal:
The Misty Flats
To every many there openeth A way, and ways, and a way. And the high soul climbs the high way, And the low soul gropes the low, And in between on the misty flats The rest drift to and fro. But to every man there openeth A high way and a low - And every man decideth the way his soul shall go. - John Oxenham
High Road, Low Road or the Misty Flats? What road will you choose to travel today? May your pilgrimage be filled with divine surprises as the God of Heaven reveals Himself to you today!
"The sovereign God is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights." - Habakkuk 3:19 (NIV)
Those of you who know me well will recall that George Muller's legacy of trusting God to provide miraculously for his needs has had a huge impact on my life and ministry for many years. For many years I have maintained a web site/blog about George Muller. You can check it out here. For some exciting news about George Muller, the orphanages he founded and the new location of the Muller offices and museum, please click here.
What a tragic follow-up story to my earlier post entitled "The Answers to the Riddles". Wife, Son and Mother-In-Law of Tampa Bay Rays Minor League Pitcher Blake Bivens Killed in Triple Homicide by Pitcher's Brother-In-Law
Emily and Blake Bivens and their son Cullen
I won't go into detail but you can read the story on the link below and the incredible article that Emily Bivens, the wife of this Tampa Bay Rays prospect Blake Bivens, who was murdered on Tuesday, August 27th published earlier that same day. It's hard to understand but "as for God...His was is perfect." - Psalm 18-20 Please check out this link for details regarding this horrific tragedy. Baseball Chapel, the organization responsible for providing chapel services and Bible studies for professional baseball teams, wrote the following in their prayer bulletin: "The hearts of the Baseball Chapel family go out to Blake and his family. Blake and Emily are believers in Jesus Christ. Emily has written several devotions for Baseball Chapel's player wives devotion, a daily publication that is put out to encourage and strengthen player wives in their daily struggles. Coincidentally, the devotion below was released the day of her death." Now take a look at this link to read what Emily Bivens, who was killed, had written earlier about praising God in the wilderness. We often don't understand God's ways but they are always for our ultimate good and His eternal glory. Please pray for the Bivens family. THANK YOU!
The book which has impacted my life most dramatically in recent years is a compact volume by Robert J. Morgan entitled The Red Seals Rules. It is replete with scripture and quotes by godly men and women that help readers when facing difficult times. I just finished reading it again this afternoon. Morgan quotes the North Carolina author and preacher from the last century, Vance Havner, who wrote: "When before the throne we stand in Him complete, all the riddles that puzzle us here will fall into place and we shall know in fulfillment what we now believe in faith - that all things work together for good in His eternal purpose. No longer will we cry 'My God, why?' Instead, 'alas' will become 'Alleluia', all question marks will be straightened into exclamation points, sorrows will change to singing, and pain will be lost in praise." Until then the poignant words of the Englist poet and hymnwriter from the 1700's, William Cowper, will encourage me, and hopefully you, to keep trusting in a sovereign God. Cowper penned these words... "Judge not the Lord by feeble sense but trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face. Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain: God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain."
Recently I had the pleasure and privilege of sharing my journey with an amazing young man, Brandon Coburn. Brandon (Coburn Creations) spent several hours with me to capture my work with athletes, my struggles with depression and my relationship with Jesus Christ. It was a joy working with him. We're tried to reduce close to 45 years of ministry into a 9-10 minute You Tube video presentation. Thank you, Brandon, for working with me and for your vision to present my battle and my victory with all the glory going Jesus Christ. Please click here and spend a few minutes with me. For more information on Coburn Creations, click here.
We wish our many American friends a very HAPPY 4th of JULY! Even though we are Canadians we appreciate our many American friends so much. We thank God for the freedom He has allowed us all to enjoy! - David & Carol.
As a pilgrim who's been on the road for over seven decades, stumbling along and scribbling about my pilgrimage, I've encountered a lot. Road blocks, detours, potholes, speed bumps and more than my share of rich blessings. One of the greatest gifts has been the friendships forged along the journey. As I sit here scribbling away...I'm so grateful for the special people that the Lord allowed me to meet along the way. Random individuals who God used to bless my heart. There are so many of you! I'm also grateful for the many friends who I've never met...authors, Bible characters, singers, musicians, athletes and others who have impacted my life in various ways. The greatest encounter was when, as a 6-year-old boy, I invited Jesus Christ into my life. He has been my constant guide and companion as I've navigated this long and winding road. I have much to be thankful for...my Father, my family and my friends. The road has been long but I'm looking forward to seeing the best Friend anyone could ever have...when I get to the end of my journey. Safe travels, my friends! Hope to see you there!
Since I was a young boy I've always enjoyed writing letters, notes and cards. I had several pen pals as a teenager. Back in the mid 70's the Lord led me to launch a letter-writing ministry of encouragement to athletes called Epistle Sports Ministries. Although my target audience was professional and amateur athletes, I also wrote many letters to people in all walks of life. I've been the beneficiary of hundreds of cards and letters. I still have boxes with those letters in them. They meant so much to me and I often to back and read them over again. As the graphic with this post states, "A Kind Word Always Brings Cheer." Just today I sent a card to two friends who needed some cheer. Let's do our part in keeping the lost art of written correspondence alive. Cheers!!!
Sorrow and love flow mingled down; Did e'er such love and sorrow meet Or thorns compose so rich a crown?" - Isaac Watts
The sight of the beloved Son of God crucified on a rugged Roman cross does not evoke "happiness" in itself but...the knowledge that Christ's sacrifice on our behalf to remove our sins brings great joy and peace. He gave His life to give us eternal life.
When Vance Havner, the renowned pastor, evangelist and author from North Carolina lost his wife to disease, he was disconsolate. But out of the experience he later wrote:
"When before the throne we stand in Him complete, all the riddles that puzzle us here will fall into place and we shall know in fulfillment what we now believe in faith - that all things work together for good in His eternal purpose. No longer will we cry 'My God, why?' Instead, 'alas' will become 'Alleluia', all question marks will become straightened into exclamation points, sorrow will change into singing, and pain will be lost in praise."
Taken from one of my favourite books, The Red Sea Rules, by one of my favourite authors...Robert J. Morgan.
I've always been encouraged by this quote from Vance Havner (pictured). The explanation for much of what happens in our lives will come later.
I've also received much encouragement from the last verse of a hymn written by William Cowper...who was no stranger to depression and discouragement. Cowper wrote the lyrics to the song "God Moves in a Mysterious Way". Many people have quoted the first line without knowing the rest of the hymn. Here are the lyrics for the last verse:
Blind unbelief is sure to err And scan His work in vain; God is His own interpreter, And He will make it plain!
Yes...God will "explain" and "make it plain". Maybe not today, tomorrow or next year but in a future day...we will get the explanation and we will understand that..."as for God...His way is perfect."
She could not see with her natural eyes, but she could see with her heart. She could not explain what a human face looked like, but she knew the face of God. Blind from six weeks old because of a surgical mishap, her life was different than most, but it was not worse than most.
Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) supported herself as a teacher at a blind school, she had dear and close friends around the world, and she wrote and published thousands of beautiful hymns, many that are still sung today. Regarding her plight in life she wrote the following words:
“It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank Him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.”
For those who have natural sight, but are blind to the things of God, Fanny Crosby’s songs bring a sense of His Presence.
He Hideth My Soul
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see. Chorus: He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock That shadows a dry, thirsty land; He hideth my life with the depths of His love, And covers me there with His hand, And covers me there with His hand.
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.
With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God
For such a Redeemer as mine!
When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love
I’ll shout with the millions on high.
“Behold, there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by.”(Exodus 33:21,22)
I'm sitting here at my workplace listening to one of my favourite pianists, Stan Whitmire, playing HE GIVETH MORE GRACE, the lyrics written by Annie Johnson Flint. These words have impacted me powerfully over the years. God truly gives us abundant grace in our times of need. I'm dedicating this post to dear friends of ours whose beloved son passed away last Sunday. May you experience God's amazing grace and His peace, comfort and strength during these difficult days.
HE GIVETH MORE GRACE
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace. CHORUS:
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
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.
Today I dug into the archives of Pilgrim Scribblings and found the following post about Fanny Crosby. What an amazing woman! - David Here's that post...from December 2004: The old hymns hold a special place in my heart! I’ve always enjoyed reading the biographies of the great hymn writers from a bygone day, writers like Isaac Watts, William Cowper and Fanny Crosby. I marvel at the lyrics penned by Fanny Crosby who lost her sight when she was only six (6) weeks old. When she was only eight (8) she wrote the following poem:
"Oh what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see, I am resolved that in this world Contented I will be. How many blessings I enjoy That other people don't. To weep and sigh because I'm blind, I cannot and I won't."
What a positive attitude! She has written meaningful words to close to 9,000 hymns. Many of them have references to seeing, sight, etc.
Here are just a few examples that reveal Fanny Crosby’s deep-seated faith that one day she would see Jesus face to face:
“My Savior First of All”:
“When my life work is ended and I cross the swelling tide, When the bright and glorious morning I shall see.”
“Oh the soul thrilling rapture when I see His blessed face And the luster of His kindly beaming eye.” “To God Be the Glory”:
“But purer and higher and greater will be Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.”
“Tell Me the Story of Jesus”:
“Love in that story so tender, clearer than ever I see. Stay, let me weep while your whisper, Love paid the ransom for me.”
“Near the Cross”:
“Near the cross! O Lamb of God, bring its scenes before me; Help me walk from day to day, with its shadows o’er me.”
“Redeemed”: “I know I shall see in His beauty, the King in whose law I delight; Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps and giveth me songs in the night.”
“Give Me Jesus”:
“Take the world but give me Jesus; let me view His constant smile. Then thro’-out my pilgrim journey, light will cheer me all the while.”
“Perfect submission, perfect delight! Visions of rapture now burst on my sight; Angels descending bring from above, Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.”
“He Hideth My Soul”:
“A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, a wonderful Savior to me; He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, where rivers of pleasure I see.” “All the Way My Savior Leads Me”:
“Tho my weary steps may falter, and my soul athirst may be, Gushing from the Rock before me, Lo! A spring of joy I see.”
What a glorious faith Fanny Crosby possessed! One day we will see Jesus face to face. Until then, let’s revel in His love and rejoice in His provision. - David W. Fisher
Tim Challies is one of the most prolific Christian bloggers I know and I read his contributions every day. You must check him out at www.challies.com
I'm reposting an article on blogging that Tim wrote and posted on his blog today. It's entitled"Why You Shouldn't Stop Blogging (or Why You Should Consider Starting)." His post struck a chord with me as I haven't blogged regularly for some time.
Tim writes: "I have said a few times and in a few ways that I’m concerned about what seems to be a growing trend: Bloggers are shuttering their blogs and instead submitting articles to the major ministry sites. If they aren’t shuttering their blogs altogether, they are writing on them less or using them primarily as a kind of resume to link to the material they’ve written elsewhere. Please hear me: I appreciate those major ministries, I enjoy reading their sites, and I am grateful for the great content they share. What concerns me is that their ascension may be directly related to the decline of Christian blogging. Yet I am convinced the church will be healthier and those ministry sites will ultimately have better material to share if we continue to have a thriving Christian blogosphere.
Today I want to list a few reasons it may be better for bloggers to continue blogging on their own sites, and why we need a new generation of bloggers to take up the craft. Here are some of the benefits you may experience if you maintain your own blog (instead of only ever submitting material to the major ministry blogs). If you have your own blog…
…you serve readers by building a relationship with them. A significant part of the power of a blog is that it combines writing with personality to form a relationship between the writer and the reader. This makes it a deeply personal rather than merely abstract form of communication. Just like the personality of a pastor is a crucial component of his preaching, the personality of the writer is a crucial component of her writing. The relationship between writer and reader is developed over time so that readers are eventually compelled not just by what the writer says, but by who she is. This kind of relationship can be developed far more and far better on a blog than a ministry site. That’s because the identity of the blogger is the key factor in a blog, while the identity of the ministry is the key factor at a ministry site. The primary relationship at a blog is of the writer to the reader; the primarily relationship at a ministry blog is of the ministry to the reader, with the writer tending to fade into the background.
…you have freedom to cover any topic. When big news breaks or important ideas merit consideration, it is unlikely that you will be able to play a role in commenting or analyzing. That’s because these sites have access to scholars, experts, and in-house writers who can take on that role, and once they’ve covered it, you can’t cover it. Even if you have something to say that helpfully complements or humbly contradicts what has already been said, you won’t have the ability to say it without your own blog. In that way giving away your blog gives away your voice. It gives away your ability to contribute on what may be key issues.
…you don’t have to play it safe. The articles you submit to these ministry sites are likely to be “safe,” which is to say they will avoid controversial matters. You’ll write about topics both you and they are comfortable with. You won’t have the opportunity to push yourself in your thinking and writing. You won’t have the opportunity to express dissenting viewpoints. Instead, you’ll be forced to stick with safe explorations of common issues related to Christian living or doctrine.
…you don’t have to swing for the fences. If you only ever submit articles for consideration at the ministry blogs, you’ll become obsessed with the quality of each article. To borrow a baseball analogy, you’ll only ever swing for the fences. So much of life, and ministry, and writing is hitting singles, and learning to be okay with hitting singles, and learning to appreciate how God so often uses those singles to incrementally advance his causes. (Imagine if your pastor would only preach sermons that he believed were a home run!)
…you won’t ever release some of your most important articles. There’s also this: we vastly overestimate our ability to predict which of our articles will resonate with people and make a difference in their day or in their life. What we’re convinced is a home run is often a single and what we’re convinced is a single is often a home rum. What I’ve learned over many years of doing this is that some of the articles I thought the weakest were the ones God used in the biggest ways. But I would never have submitted them to a ministry blog, which means readers never would have had the benefit of reading them. How many helpful and biblical articles are sitting unpublished because the writer thought they weren’t good enough?
…you miss the benefit of plodding. One of the great benefits of submitting articles for consideration at one of the ministry blogs is that they are passed through an editorial process. This process can strengthen the article while also providing valuable feedback to improve the quality of future submissions. However, I’m convinced the greater means of growing in skill is the practice of regular writing. Editorial feedback can supplement but never replace this. Additionally, the editorial process is not designed to help you find your voice as much as to help you find theirvoice. When you submit an article to these sites you may gain valuable feedback, but it’s not analogous to entering into a writing mentorship. What you may consider a key to growth as a writer will displace the even greater key. You need to plod!
…you fail to serve the wider church. Living in the bubble of Reformed writers, you may think that “everyone” reads these big ministry blogs. They don’t. Just ask around at church and you’ll see that the majority of good and godly people don’t. They haven’t formed the habit and perhaps don’t have the interest. There’s an important implication: Just because something has been said on one of these sites, doesn’t mean that it won’t be beneficial to say it elsewhere. If you can speak to a crucial topic and reach fifty or a hundred people who otherwise wouldn’t consider it, you’ve done good work. You may find the most effective way to serve others isn’t to get the message out to the widest audience, but to youraudience—the one you’ve built a relationship with over time, the one who likes you, not just what you say.
Keep on Plodding
I encourage you to keep on plodding with that blogging. By all means, submit some of your best material to the ministry blogs! That is of benefit to you and them and all of us. But keep writing on your own blog as well. That’s the best of both worlds." - Tim Challies