Dirk Willems

Dirk Willems

Dirk Willems Testimony

What I remember most
is the joy of God’s words on our lips
and in our hearts.
That good news bubbling out,
freely shared with any person we met,
old categories of friend and foe forgotten.
I remember the power of God changing us,
from empty Christians
to disciples full of fire.
I confessed my faith
and chose baptism, freely, consciously,
my prayer as the water trickled over me,
“O my Lord, my God!”
My family and friends,
my neighbors near and far,
they flocked to my house to hear that story.
We read from the Bible,
we prayed together.
And always every meeting,
their words echoing in my ears,
“Can I too be baptized?”

Yes, there was danger.
It was a crime for us to baptize
since we weren’t priests,
and the authorities were out to find us.
But we Brethren were quick,
our feet given godspeed.
So often we escaped
even when escape seemed impossible:
ducking out windows,
fleeing to the fields in the dark,
our pursuers’ lanterns bobbing behind us.
So often God protected us from evil.

The persecution became more severe.
First one brother, and then a sister,
another and another,
arrested, tortured, brought to trial,
made an example.
They were an example to us,
so many, so faithful,
freely bearing their cross, like Jesus.
A witness to God’s glory even in death.

And then it was my turn to be arrested.
They were there waiting for us
hidden in the darkness as we gathered,
no time to run, just a quick whispered prayer,
“O my Lord, my God!”

Into the prison, and there I had time
to sit and think and pray,
to prepare myself for the ordeal to come.
I was more surprised than anyone
when the opportunity arose
for me to escape.
God works in mysterious ways,
and like Paul before me,
the way was open and I took it.
I ran like the wind;
I could hear shouts behind me
and I knew I was being pursued.
Over that wintry river I fled,
the ice creaking ominously below me.
Even as I ran I prayed,
“O my Lord, my God,
let me run on water this day,”
Cracks formed with every step I took,
and like Peter I doubted.
I pictured them fishing
my frozen body with a hook
out of the cold river.

But God be praised,
my feet reached solid land
and running still, I spared a glance behind me.
I saw my pursuer stepping on the ice,
one of the guards sent to catch me.
I doubled my pace along the river
but my eyes were drawn to him
lumbering, lumbering along.
Suddenly there was no figure at all.
My legs kept running
but my whole attention shifted.
I saw the arms and head appear in the watery pit
bobbing and grasping, ice breaking, splashing.
I could hear his frantic call for help.
I stopped and looked to his friends.
They all hugged the shore,
afraid to venture to him on the ice.
They were not going to help him.

Having just crossed that wide white river,
having feared that icy grave,
my heart went to him.
I turned around.
It was I who would be a fisher of men this day.
Running toward my pursuer this time,
I reached that treacherous surface,
and when the cracks seemed louder than my heartbeats,
I dropped gently down on my stomach, sliding sideways,
arms spread wide, reaching for him.
Him reaching for me with freezing fingers,
and then our hands locked,
and the slow, slow, pull to safety.
We did it. I saved him.

We both lay on the ice for a long moment.
Me totally spent from the chase and the rescue,
he totally spent from being immersed in fear,
dazed at returning to the land of the living.

The voice of the burgomeister shattered the silence,
calling from the safety of the shore:
“Arrest that man.
Arrest that man right now!
Do your duty.”
I looked at him,
my companion on the ice.
Our eyes held each other,
frozen there on that hard river.
We both watched transfixed
as his hand slowly reached out
and grasped my elbow.
I closed my eyes,
“Oh my Lord, my God.”

And so I am here in the prison again.
They have convicted me,
and today I am to be burned.
In the icy river or in flames of fire,
I am not alone.
Jesus is with me as I take up my cross.
Be with me now,
Oh my Lord, my God.

Reposted from Deep calls to Deep Blog

A true story that I personally have read from Foxes Book of Martrys.

The Eclipse

The Eclipse

“Let not the earth of me eclipse the power of You”.

This phrase ran through my heart the other morning.  The fact that the moon can eclipse the sun, flimsy clouds can impede its warmth, and the rotations of the earth completely hide it, are all pictures to me of the importance of keeping my heart fixed upon Him.

God in His infinite wisdom has placed within us, a will; the ability to choose, to make decisions, and to set our affections on things to which we are inclined. It is in this crucible that salvation’s power is most evident. Outward storms of life can affect us, they can bring affliction and distress, but it is ultimately our attitude and will that determine the outcome of life. A religion that does not move the will, does not capture, and harness its choices, does not affect it with a Love that overrules our base desires, would be a dismal experience.

It is within the mystery of His Will subduing our own, causing us to make heavenly choices, that Grace is most revealed. To stay the course, to fix our affections upon Him who walked purposefully to Calvary’s despicable death by His own unshakeable Will, is the true hope of our salvation. That indomitable Love that shaped His decision is the same Love that will fulfill His redemptive work in fallen man.

“Wherefore he saith, When He ascended up on high,
He led captivity captive…”
Ephesians 4:8

May our love of Him fully captivate our hearts, may His grace bind our hearts to the altar, may His strength fill our weakness, that we stay true to the course set before us.

“He must increase, but I must decrease”
John 3:30

Brian Troxel

 

Simplicity of Faith

Simplicity of Faith

“Even a child makes himself known by his doings,
whether his work is pure, and whether it is right”
Proverbs 20:11

The simple child-like faith given by God is pure, easy, and void of hypocrisy. It requires religion to cloud its pure waters, to contaminate its simplicity, and make that which is true into something obscure and false.

Doing is the simple outflow of believing.

“Little children, let no one lead you astray;
he who is doing righteousness is righteous”
1 John 3:7

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“I have always thought the actions of men
the best interpreters of their thoughts.
John Locke

BT

A.W. Tozer – Faith

A.W. Tozer – Faith

“Faith is simply the bringing of our minds into accord with the truth. It is adjusting our expectations to the promises of God in complete assurance that the God of the whole earth cannot lie.

As long as we question the wisdom of any of God’s ways our faith is still tentative and uncertain. While we are able to understand, we are not quite believing. Faith enters when there is no supporting evidence to corroborate God’s word of promise and we must put our confidence blindly in the character of the One who made the promise.”
– A.W. Tozer

Refuge and Trust

Refuge and Trust

REFUGE and TRUST

“God is our refuge and strength”
Psalm 46:1

“A dear friend of mine, who was quite a lover of the chase, told me the following story: ‘Rising early one morning,’ he said, ‘I heard the baying of a score of deerhounds in pursuit of their quarry. Looking away to a broad, open field in front of me, I saw a young fawn making its way across, and giving signs, moreover, that its race was well-nigh run. Reaching the rails of the enclosure, it leaped over and crouched within ten feet from where I stood. A moment later two of the hounds came over when the fawn ran in my direction and pushed its head between my legs. I lifted the little thing to my breast, and, swinging round and round, fought off the dogs. I felt, just then, that all the dogs in the West could not, and should not capture that fawn after its weakness had appealed to my strength.’ So is it, when human helplessness appeals to Almighty God.
– A.C. Dixon

Photo by Mary Kay Grace

Watchman Nee – Seeing God

Watchman Nee – Seeing God

Seeing God

“Here is a heart condition God requires for the fulfillment of His purposes of grace. Purity of heart simply means a state where there are no hindrances to seeing God. The kingdom of the heavens is here, so there is no reason why anyone should fail to see Him, unless man himself puts up barriers.

It is not necessary to place a dirty article in front of your eyes to prevent you from seeing an object; a perfectly clean article will do just as well! The “clean heart” of the psalmist has to do with the removal of unclean things; the “pure heart” of the Sermon on the Mount has to do with the removal of all things, clean or unclean. Many have no right knowledge of God because they have numerous competing interests apart from God. Purity of heart corresponds to singleness of eye. It means that God is the exclusive object of attention. From such preoccupation, there will be no loss, “Thy whole body shall be full of light.”
– Watchman Nee

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light”
Matthew 5:22

A.W. Tozer – Accountability

A.W. Tozer – Accountability

Our Final Accountability Will Be To Our Maker

“It was the belief in the accountability of man to his Maker that made America great at one time. One of our great leaders was Daniel Webster who confessed: “The most solemn thought that has ever entered my mind is my accountability to my Maker!”

Men are free to decide their own moral choices, but they are also under the necessity to account to God for those choices. That makes them both free and also bound–for they are bound to come to judgment and give an account of the deeds done in the body.

You have probably heard the concept that every man stands only before the bar of his own reason and of his own conscience.

This is the infamous relativity of morals that are taught in many of our universities and colleges. Our young folks are taught that each man is a law unto himself and that good is whatever brings social approval and that evil is whatever brings social disapproval.

If that were true, there would be as many moral codes as there are human beings, and each one of us would be our own witness, prosecutor, judge, jury, and jailer!

We are accountable to the One who gave us being. We are accountable to the One out of whose heart we were loved, and who laid His laws upon us.”
– A.W. Tozer

“…it is appointed unto men once to die,
but after this the judgment”
Hebrews 9:27

 

Birth of a Song

Birth of a Song

Back in 1932, I was 32 years old and a fairly new husband. My wife, Nettie, and I were living in a little apartment on Chicago’s Southside. One hot August afternoon I had to go to St. Louis, where I was to be the featured soloist at a large revival meeting. I didn’t want to go.

Nettie was in the last month of pregnancy with our first child. But a lot of people were expecting me in St. Louis. I kissed Nettie goodbye, clattered downstairs to our Model A, and, in a fresh Lake Michigan breeze, chugged out of Chicago on Route 66.

However, outside the city, I discovered that in my anxiety at leaving, had forgotten my music case. I wheeled around and headed back. I found Nettie sleeping peacefully. I hesitated by her bed; something was strongly telling me to stay. But eager to get on my way, and not wanting to disturb Nettie, I shrugged off the feeling and quietly slipped out of the room with my music.

The next night, in the steaming St. Louis heat, the crowd called on me to sing again and again. When I finally sat down, a messenger boy ran up with a Western Union telegram. I ripped open the envelope. Posted on the yellow sheet were the words: YOUR WIFE JUST DIED. People were happily singing and clapping around me, but I could hardly keep from crying out. I rushed to a phone and called home. All I could hear on the other end was “Nettie is dead. Nettie is dead.”

When I got back, I learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy. I swung between grief and joy. Yet that night, the baby died. I buried Nettie and our little boy together, in the same casket. Then I fell apart.

For days I closeted myself. I felt that God had done me an injustice. I didn’t want to serve Him anymore or write gospel songs. I just wanted to go back to that jazz world I once knew so well.

But then, as I hunched alone in that dark apartment those first sad days, I thought back to the afternoon I went to St. Louis. Something kept telling me to stay with Nettie. Was that something God? Oh, if I had paid more attention to Him that day, I would have stayed and been with Nettie when she died. From that moment on I vowed to listen more closely to Him.

But still, I was lost in grief. Everyone was kind to me, especially a friend, Professor Frye, who seemed to know what I needed.

On the following Saturday evening, he took me up to Madam Malone’s Poro College, a neighborhood music school. It was quiet; the late evening sun crept through the curtained windows. I sat down at the piano, and my hands began to browse over the keys. Something happened to me then I felt at peace. I feel as though I could reach out and touch God. I found myself playing a melody, one I’d never heard or played before, and the words into my head-they just seemed to fall into place:

“Precious Lord, take my hand,
lead me on, let me stand!
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn,
Through the storm, through the night
lead me on to the light,
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.”

The Lord gave me these words and melody. He also healed my spirit. I learned that when we are in our deepest grief when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His restoring power.

And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully until that day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home.

-Thomas A. Dorsey- Gospel Songwriter

The is a post from a good brother’s blog “Deep calls to deep

Thankfulness and Envy

Thankfulness and Envy

“For all is of You,
and we have given to You out of Your hand”
1 Chronicles 29:14

Thankfulness is rooted in the realization that everything we have is from Him and is always to remain His. Within the mindset of “me” and “mine”, we lose the freedom of selflessness. The cords of “mine” cling to the soul and bind it to the darkness of earthly reasoning and carnal obsessions. From these dark places envy, jealousy, evil speaking, and divisions arise within the Body of Christ.

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have…”
James 4:1-2

Lust is simply wanting something outside of the will of God. To desire something someone else has is to be unthankful for the portion God has given you. Often envy arises in those who have not been faithful to that portion God has given them. There is a lamenting of unattained gifts, undeveloped talents, and a blindness to the things God has given. The precious commodity given by God has been neglected by the very lust for something someone else has. In our faithfulness to God’s gracious gifts to us, we will inevitably discover His wisdom and beauty in them.

Envy is the opposite of thankfulness. It is an unsanctified passion that fuels the fires of anger, depression, and bitterness. Galatians calls these things the “works of the flesh” and those who dwell in them “shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21). Men and women who allow the destructive contagion of envy to fester within their hearts will suffer eternal loss.

Thankfulness comes from knowing that we are not worthy of His attention let alone the unmerited gifts of His goodness.

“What is man, that Thou art mindful of him,
or a son of man, that Thou dost look after him?”
Hebrews 2:6

Thankfulness is a binding agent within the Body of Christ whereas envy tears at the very fabric of His heart within His own. The power of pride and envy was the desire of Satan that resulted in his fall into the pit of utter destruction and banishment from God.

“You said in your heart…
‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds!
I will make myself like the Most High!’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
to the depths of the pit”
Isaiah 14:13-15

God’s instruction of wisdom to all of us is to flee from the very spirit of envy; to rid ourselves from that which will poison, steal, and destroy the work of God within. Only a pure and thankful heart can abide in the Life of Him who gave Himself on our behalf.

“Can two walk together
except they are agreed?”
Amos 3:3

See: Envy – Enemy of our Soul

Brian Troxel

Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth Elliot

“It is Christ who is to be exalted, not our feelings. We will know Him by obedience, not by emotions. Our love will be shown by obedience, not by how good we feel about God at a given moment. “And love means following the commands of God.” “Do you love Me?” Jesus asked Peter. “Feed My lambs.” He was not asking, “How do you feel about Me?” for love is not a feeling. He was asking for action”
– Elisabeth Elliot