Good Insight from Hannah Whitall Smith

IMG_1114“To illustrate all this: suppose I were to be describing to a person, who was entirely ignorant of the subject, the way in which a lump of clay is made into a beautiful vessel. I tell him first the part of the clay in the matter, and all I can say about this is, that the clay is put into the potter’s hands, and then lies passive there, submitting itself to all the turnings and overturnings of the potter’s hands upon it. There is really nothing else to be said about the clay’s part. But could my hearer argue from this that nothing else is done, because I say that this is all the clay can do? If he is an intelligent hearer, he will not dream of doing so, but will say, “I understand. This is what the clay must do; but what must the potter do?” “Ah,” I answer, “now we come to the important part. The potter takes the clay thus abandoned to his working, and begins to mould and fashion it according to his own will. He kneads and works it, he tears it apart and presses it together again, he wets it and then suffers it to dry. Sometimes he works at it for hours together, sometimes he lays it aside for days and does not touch it. And then, when by all these processes he has made it perfectly pliable in his hands, he proceeds to make it up into the vessel he has purposed. He turns it upon the wheel, planes it and smooths it, and dries it in the sun, bakes it in the oven, and finally turns it out of his workshop, a vessel to his honor and fit for his use….The lump of clay, from the moment it comes under the transforming hand of the potter, is, during each day and each hour of the process, just what the potter wants it to be at that hour or on that day, and therefore pleases him. But it is very far from being matured into the vessel he intends in the future to make it….The apple in June is a perfect apple for June. It is the best apple that June can produce. But it is very different from the apple in October, which is a perfected apple….God’s works are perfect in every stage of their growth. Man’s works are never perfect until they are in every respect complete.”

Taken from Hannah Whitall Smith’s, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, Chapter 1

http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Books/The%20Christian%20Secret%20of%20%20Happy%20Life.pdf

 

 

 

Until There is Room to Run!

Picture the Secret Place as an immense wilderness.

You enter into it for the first time only to find that there is only a small square of grass on which to stand. There is more land, to be sure. Abundantly more! But it is fraught  with thorns and thistles, dangers and difficult places, and even enemies! It is overwhelming. You repeat a few perfunctory prayer requests and leave in discouragement.

But then somehow word comes to you of new possibilities for the Secret Place; at least they are new to you.

“The Secret Place is yours,” someone said. “It only needs to be cultivated!”

“How?” you have the presence of mind to ask.

“The Secret Place is about intimacy with Him!” you are told. “In fact,” the messenger says, “if you can receive it, the Secret Place is a reflection of your intimacy with Him. It cannot be cultivated by more and more petitions, and intercession won’t do it either. The Secret Place is cultivated by pursuing intimacy with Jesus!”

Seeing that you still could not understand, the messenger continued,

“You see, there are three ways we can look at the Secret Place that can help us to understand why it is so important and why the enemy fights so hard against anyone who would try to tarry there.

“First, the Secret Place is actually the Holy of Holies.”

“Hebrews 10:19-22 says,

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith (NIV84)

“When Jesus died, a ‘new and living way’ was opened for us ‘through the curtain.’ The curtain refers to ‘the veil’ that hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies–a room only the high priest could enter and then only once a year. That curtain or ‘veil’ was torn into two pieces, from top to bottom, as it hung there on the day Jesus was crucified.

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (NIV84).

“So now, because of Jesus, we are allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies. But don’t stop there in your understanding. Yes, in the Old Testament, the Holy of Holies was a room, but now, when we enter into the real Holy of Holies, we are entering into the Presence of God! But what is the Presence of God if not God Himself?

“So, the second way we can look at the Secret Place then, is to see it as Christ Himself!”

“We are entering into Him. Because we have been saved and called righteous by faith, we are already in Him. But that is akin to only standing in the doorway: we are ‘in’ but we can go so much deeper! However, petitions won’t take us further, nor are intercessions the path to deeper places! Those must flow out of our intimacy with Him!

“The third way we can see the Secret Place is to see that it is a reflection of our own hearts.”

“In other words, our hearts are the wilderness we encounter in the Secret Place and as we allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate the wilderness of our hearts into a place where He can move freely we find that the Secret Place becomes a place where we can run!”

 

There is a Reason it’s Called Contending!

Sometimes in the Project someone will describe the difficulties they had in praying IMG_1062the week before every day/set time/set place, and I remind them “that’s why I named the book ‘Contending for the Habit of Daily Prayer.” It is a daily battle.

When you have had to struggle for prayer or you feel you have been attacked by the enemy because of prayer, don’t be surprised! That’s contending!

Be Encouraged!

I’m sitting here on Monday evening, reading a recent post on the accountability page, and thinking “I wish we could all touch base so that I know you are still pressing in!”

So, I fully intend to have an occasional reunion, but for now just know that you have done well and regardless of the difficulties God will give you prayer. He will give you the Secret Place if you do not allow yourself to become pulled back to the old way or to get discouraged. Also know that I am thinking of you and praying for you!

i would really love to see you guys talking to each other and responding to each other’s posts. You can start by responding to this one: let me know you are there and still going hard after the Secret Place!

My Favorite John Donne Sonnet

Batter my heart, three-person’d God
BY JOHN DONNE

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend

Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Rewritten for better understanding:

Batter my heart, three-person’d God!

For you as yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend.

That I may rise and stand: Overthrow me, and bend your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like a usurped town to another due, labor to admit you [into the usurped town, i.e., “me”], but oh, to no end!

Reason—your viceroy in me—should defend me! But instead is captivated and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved yes!
But am betrothed unto your enemy!
Divorce me! Untie or break that knot [of betrothal to the enemy] again!
Take me to you, imprison me! For I,
except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Whose Door Is It Anyway?

In Matthew 6:6, the NIV says:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door

However, the literal Greek is: “καὶ  κλείσας  τὴν θύραν σου” which is “and shutting the door of you.” Put into proper English, it translates to: “and shutting your door”

What’s the big deal?

First, I felt like the Lord reminded me to “shut the door.” In other words, don’t slide on the vision for prayer I have been promoting to others. Shutting the door means intentionally choosing to isolate myself from the outside world in order to be alone with God. Shutting the door means shutting out distractions—even important ones—and shutting myself in with God. Praying on the train, or in my car while I’m driving, or as I go throughout the day are simply no substitute for shutting myself in with God!

There’s one more thing…

It’s your door. Put another way: It’s your choice! We either make the choice to drag our flesh into the Secret Place—kicking and screaming if necessary—or we don’t. Let’s choose to do it.