Streams In The Desert: December 31st, 2016

“Peter was kept in prison: but prayer (instant and earnest prayer) was made for him” (Acts 12:5, margin).

Peter was in prison awaiting his execution. The Church had neither human power nor influence to save him. There was no earthly help, but there was help to be obtained by the way of Heaven. They gave themselves to fervent, importunate prayer. God sent His angel, who aroused Peter from sleep and led him out through the first and second wards of the prison; and when they came to the iron gate, it opened to them of its own accord, and Peter was free.

There may be some iron gate in your life that has blocked your way. Like a caged bird you have often beaten against the bars, but instead of helping, you have only had to fall back tired, exhausted and sore at heart. There is a secret for you to learn, and that is believing prayer; and when you come to the iron gate, it will open of its own accord.

How much wasted energy and sore disappointment will be saved if you will learn to pray as did the Church in the upper room! Insurmountable difficulties will disappear; adverse circumstances will prove favorable if you learn to pray, not with your own faith but with the faith of God (Mark 11:22, margin). Souls in prison have been waiting for years for the gate to open; love ones out of Christ, bound by Satan, will be set free when you pray till you definitely believe God.
–C. H. P.

Emergencies call for intense prayer. When the man becomes the prayer nothing can resist its touch. Elijah on Carmel, bowed down on the ground, with his face between his knees, that was prayer–the man himself.

No words are mentioned. Prayer can be too tense for words. The man’s whole being was in touch with God, and was set with God against the powers of evil. They couldn’t withstand such praying. There’s more of this embodied praying needed.
–The Bent-knee Time

“Groanings which cannot be uttered are often prayers which cannot be refused.”
–C. H. Spurgeon

Praise & Worship: December 30th, 2016

1. At The Cross-  Terry Butler

2.  Before You Call-  Daphne Rademaker (Vineyard)

3.  Your Hands-  jj Heller

4.  You Won’t Relent-  Misty Edwards

5.  Be Thou My Vision-  Audrey Assad

6.  Be Kind To Yourself-  Andrew Peterson

7.  King Of Hearts-  Randy Stonehill

8.  Tell Your Heart To Beat Again-  Danny Gokey

9.  Let It Fade-  Jeremy Camp

10.  Beautiful To Me-  Kerrie Roberts

11.  Jesus Take The Wheel-  Carrie Underwood

Michael Newnham: Amazing Faith?

This is an article my friend Michael Newnham wrote in May of 2014. There are those in the spotlight who actually do amazing things but so often those who are propped up don’t qualify. I suspect many who read here qualify as being amazing. I took the liberty of giving a title to this article.  Allan

The headline sent me though the roof…this headline always does.

“The Amazing Faith of (Fill in The Blank With A Celebrity Singer, Athlete, or Actor).

I am supposed to read this article to be enthralled by the fact that someone wealthy and famous is also a Christian.

 

I think it’s supposed to affirm and validate my faith to know that someone “important” culturally is also a fellow believer.

The truth is that I don’t give a writhing, rotund, brown rats rear end about such.

It doesn’t “amaze” me.

The Christians that amaze me and affirm my faith are ;

Christians who are caring for an elderly parent at home to honor their mother or father while trying work and raise a family as well.

Christians who are working as hard and faithfully at their vocations as they can.

Christians who are single parents working and raising kids at the same time.

Christians who give sacrificially and lovingly to others even when they are struggling themselves.

Christians who are living with mental or chronic illnesses and praising Jesus despite their pain.

Christians who are getting ready for heaven and trying to finish well.

Christians who care for people who will never get better.

Christians who are faithful to the vows they made to another child of God even when it isn’t amazing anymore.

Christians who are less concerned about being “right” than about sharing the love of God.

Christians who are so honest about their sins that they give me the freedom to be honest about mine.

Christians who are willing to lose their names and their lives for Who they believe in.

Christian pastors who no one has heard of… that don’t care if anyone ever does as long as the flock makes it to eternal pasture.

I’m amazed and affirmed by all of those Christians caring, loving, giving, and living like Jesus who have no names and mundane lives.

I’m amazed by my neighbors,not celebrities.

They are the ones who I draw strength from for my own journey.

There is only one name that matters in the Christian faith…and it’s not the name of a celebrity who we see first and Jesus second, but Jesus, period.

I’m amazed that He chose me, saved me, and keeps me…and that’s already more amazement than I can grasp.

Make your own application…

Pets Help People Manage The Pain Of Serious Mental Illness

Taken from NPR  which can be found   HERE.

Any pet owner will tell you that their animal companions comfort and sustain them when life gets rough. This may be especially true for people with serious mental illness, a study finds. When people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were asked who or what helped them manage the condition, many said it was pets that helped the most.

“When I’m feeling really low they are wonderful because they won’t leave my side for two days,” one study participant with two dogs and two cats, “They just stay with me until I am ready to come out of it.”

Another person said of their pet birds: “If I didn’t have my pets I think I would be on my own. You know what I mean, so it’s — it’s nice to come home and, you know, listen to the birds singing and that, you know.”

Many people with serious mental illness live at home and have limited contact with the health care system, says Helen Brooks, a mental health researcher at University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and the lead author on the study, which was published Friday in the journal BMC Psychiatry. So they’re doing a lot of the work of managing their conditions.

Brooks says, “Many felt deep emotional connections with their pet that weren’t available from friends and family.”

Brooks and her colleagues interviewed 54 people with serious long-term mental illnesses. Twenty-five of them considered their pets to be a part of their social network. The scientists asked who they went to when they needed help or advice, where they gained emotional support and encouragement and how they spent their days.

The participants were then given a diagram with three consecutive circles radiating out from a square representing the participant. They were asked to write the people, places and things that gave them support into the circles, with the circles closest to the center being the most important.

Sixty percent of the people who considered pets to be a part of their social networks placed them in the central, most important circle — the same place many people put close family and social workers. 20 percent placed pets in the second circle.

The interviews with participants are poignant, and reveal the struggle and isolation that can come with mental illness.

“I think it’s really hard when you haven’t had a mental illness to know what the actual experience is [like],” said one participant. “There’s like a chasm, deep chasm between us … [Other people are] on one side of it, and we’re on the other side of it. We’re sending smoke signals to each other to try and understand each other but we don’t always — we don’t always understand.”

People with mental illnesses often see their social groups shrink and find themselves alienated from their friends. For many of these people, says Brooks, animals can break through the isolation. They give affection without needing to understand the disorder.

“[Pets] don’t look at the scars on your arms,” one participant said. “They don’t question where you’ve been.”

The pets provided more than just emotional support and companionship, participants said. The animals also could distract them from their illness, even from severe psychosis.

One study participant placed birds in his closest social circle. When he was hearing voices, he said that they “help me in the sense, you know, I’m not thinking about the voices, I’m just thinking of when I hear the birds singing.”

Another participant said that merely seeing a hamster climbing the bars on the cage and acting cute helped with some difficult situations.

And having to take care of pets keeps people from withdrawing from the world. “They force me, the cats force me to sort of still be involved,” said one participant.

Another said that walking the dog helped them get out of the house and with people. “That surprised me, you know, the amount of people that stop and talk to him, and that, yeah, it cheers me up with him. I haven’t got much in my life, but he’s quite good, yeah.”

“The routine these pets provide is really important for people,” says Brooks. “Getting up in the morning to feed them and groom them and walk them, giving them structure and a sense of purpose that they won’t otherwise have.”

Many of the study participants are unemployed because of their illness, she notes. Having a pet that was well taken care of was a source of pride for them.

Mark Longsjo, the program director of adult services at McLean Southeast, an inpatient mental facility in Middleborough, Mass., says that the interviews in the study reflect his professional experiences. “We have so many patients come through, and we always ask them about their support system. Sometimes its family members, sometimes its friends, but it’s very common to hear about pets.”

When he does patient intake surveys, Longsjo says that he includes pets in their risk assessments. Patients with pets often say the animals help keep them from following through on suicidal thinking, because they know their pets depend on them.

The social workers at McLean also incorporate pets into their aftercare planning, encouraging patients to make walking and grooming their pets a part of their routine. “I think there’s significant value in considering the common everyday pet to be as important as the relationships one has with one’s family in the course of their treatment,” says Longsjo. He feels this study is important because, although there’s a lot of work looking at the benefits of trained therapy animals, they can be expensive and out of the reach of many patients.

Brooks hopes that more health workers will consider incorporating pets into care plans for people with mental illness. Many of her participants said that sometimes it felt like their pets could sense when they needed help the most, and were able to provide it — just like the owners took care of them.

As one person in the study said, “When he comes up and sits beside you on a night, it’s different, you know. It’s just, like, he needs me as much as I need him.”

Streams In The Desert: December 25th, 2016

“Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” —Matthew 1:23

For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. He shoulders responsibility and is called: Extraordinary Strategist, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. —Isaiah 9:6

“There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer,
And a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire
While the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King.”

A few years ago a striking Christmas card was published, with the title, “If Christ had not come.” It was founded upon our Saviour’s words, “If I had not come.” The card represented a clergyman falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.

In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. He walked out on the public street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to Heaven. He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Saviour had disappeared.

A ring at the door-bell, and a messenger asked him to visit a poor dying mother. He hastened with, the weeping child and as he reached the home he sat down and said, “I have something here that will comfort you.” He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended at Malachi, and there was no gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair.

Two days afterward he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service, but there was no message of consolation, no word of a glorious resurrection, no open Heaven, but only “dust to dust, ashes to ashes,” and one long eternal farewell. He realized at length that “He had not come,” and burst into tears and bitter weeping in his sorrowful dream.

Suddenly he woke with a start, and a great shout of joy and praise burst from his lips as he heard his choir singing in his church close by:

“O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels,
O come let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.”

Let us be glad and rejoice today, because “He has come.” And let us remember the annunciation of the angel, “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10, 11).

“He comes to make His blessing flow, Far as the curse is found.”

May our hearts go out to the people in heathen lands who have no blessed Christmas day. “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and SEND PORTIONS TO THEM FOR WHOM NOTHING IS PREPARED.” (Nehemiah. 8:10).

Streams In The Desert: December 24th, 2016

He went out to relax in the field in the early evening. Then he looked up and saw that there were camels approaching.—Genesis 24:63

We should be better Christians if we were more alone; we should do more if we attempted less, and spent more time in retirement, and quiet waiting upon God. The world is too much with us; we are afflicted with the idea that we are doing nothing unless we are fussily running to and fro; we do not believe in “the calm retreat, the silent shade.” As a people, we are of a very practical turn of mind; “we believe,” as someone has said, “in having all our irons in the fire, and consider the time not spent between the anvil and the fire as lost, or much the same as lost.” Yet no time is more profitably spent than that which is set apart for quiet musing, for talking with God, for looking up to Heaven. We cannot have too many of these open spaces in life, hours in which the soul is left accessible to any sweet thought or influence it may please God to send.

“Reverie,” it has been said, “is the Sunday of the mind.” Let us often in these days give our mind a “Sunday,” in which it will do no manner of work but simply lie still, and look upward, and spread itself out before the Lord like Gideon’s fleece, to be soaked and moistened with the dews of Heaven. Let there be intervals when we shall do nothing, think nothing, plan nothing, but just lay ourselves on the green lap of nature and “rest awhile.”

Time so spent is not lost time. The fisherman cannot be said to be losing time when he is mending his nets, nor the mower when he takes a few minutes to sharpen his scythe at the top of the ridge. City men cannot do better than follow the example of Isaac, and, as often as they can, get away from the fret and fever of life into fields. Wearied with the heat and din, the noise and bustle, communion with nature is very grateful; it will have a calming, healing influence. A walk through the fields, a saunter by the seashore or across the daisy-sprinkled meadows, will purge your life from sordidness, and make the heart beat with new joy and hope.

“The little cares that fretted me,
I lost them yesterday,
… Out in the fields with God.”

Chistmas Eve

BELLS ACROSS THE SNOW

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
Is it really come again,
With its memories and greetings,
With its joy and with its pain!
There’s a minor in the carol
And a shadow in the light,
And a spray of cypress twining
With the holly wreath tonight.
And the hush is never broken
By laughter light and low,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
’Tis not so very long
Since other voices blended
With the carol and the song!
If we could but hear them singing,
As they are singing now,
If we could but see the radiance
Of the crown on each dear brow,
There would be no sigh to smother,
No hidden tear to flow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
This never more can be;
We cannot bring again the days
Of our unshadowed glee,
But Christmas, happy Christmas,
Sweet herald of good will,
With holy songs of glory
Brings holy gladness still.
For peace and hope may brighten,
And patient love may glow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

—Frances Ridley Havergal

Praise & Worship, Christmas Edition: December 23rd, 2016

1. Do You Hear What I Hear-  Bing Crosby

2.  White Christmas-  James Galway

3.  The Wexford Carol-  Alison Krauss & Yo-Yo Ma

4.  Silent Night-  Elvis Presley

5.  Go Tell It On The Mountain-  Keith & Kristyn Getty

6.  Little Drummer Boy-  Sean Quigley

7.  Away In A Manger-  Casting Crowns

8.  O Come All Ye Faithful-  Chris Tomlin

9.  What Child Is This-  Carrie Underwood

10.  O Come, O Come, Emmanuel-  Enya

11.  How Many Kings-  Downhere