God’s Still, Small Voice in a Busy World

Bennett Park, Charlotte, MI (Photo by: Mark J. Booth)

Bennett Park, Charlotte, MI (Photo by: Mark J. Booth)

Are you too busy? Are you a victim of our hurried lifestyle? Does God seem distant in the midst of all of our activities? A busy lifestyle can take its toll upon our spiritual, emotional and physical life.

Elijah is a prophet, who is busy serving God. He successfully challenges the prophets of Baal concerning the reality of the True God. His prayer for fire to come down upon the sacrifice is answered. He then prays for rain, and rain falls upon the drought-stricken nation of Israel. He then runs a great distance(17 miles) to Jezreel, Ahab’s winter residence. Elijah is a tired man. In addition to his tiredness, Queen Jezebel threatens his life. Elijah falls into the midst of great despair, and flees from Israel in great fear.

However, God takes care of His prophet, just as He takes care of us. God provides Elijah with food and rest. Often, we can became depressed because of too much activity and not enough rest. God provides the rest we need. Jesus said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Elijah speaks to God and asks to die. He says that he is all alone. No one cares for him. Have you ever been there? God doesn’t speak to Elijah in the earthquake or fire. He speaks to him with a “still, small voice.” (1 Kings 19:12) God had to get Elijah to the point where he would listen.

God may have to take us to the depths of despair before we will listen to His still, small voice. Our busyness and self-centredness can keep us from hearing God’s voice.

When God speaks to Elijah with His still, small voice, He asks Elijah a question: “What doest thou here, Elijah?” This question is to encourage Elijah to take his eyes off of himself and his circumstances and look unto God. Unfortunately, Elijah continues with his complaint unto God. He still wants to die, because no one cares and he is alone.

God may ask us this same question: “What are you doing here?” Will we respond with a complaining spirit like Elijah? God’s purpose for this question is not to hear our complaints, but to get us to see the distance between God and ourselves. This question can be rephrased in the following ways:

  • What are you doing here living in sin?
  • What are you doing here living in despondency?
  • What are you doing here living outside of my will?
  • What are you doing here living by sight and not by faith?
  • What are you doing here living in fear?
  • What are you doing here living in selfishness?
  • What are you doing here living in bitterness?

God’s still, small voice is waiting for us to listen to Him. Life overwhelms us because we don’t take the time to hear His still, small voice. Let’s join Elijah and find rest for our souls and listen to the voice of our Lord. He will bring us deliverance from our sin, despair, and exhaustion in this life.

“Dear Lord, I get so busy. Noise is all around me. Amidst my busyness, I can’t seem to discern your voice. My life seems to spin out of control. I easily become discouraged. Help me to slow down, and find a quiet place to listen to your still, small voice. Bring me back to the place of usefulness and close fellowship with you. Amen”

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Under the Shadow of His Wings

Free Photo provided by: www.sxc.hu

Free Photo provided by: http://www.sxc.hu

“How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.” (Psalm 36:7)

Often, as a pastor, I minister to people facing tough times. We have all experienced the death of a loved one, a serious sickness, issues within the family, financial setbacks, sin problems, and many other forms of pain and trials. Many times, these problems are unsolvable from a human perspective: however, there is a place of security, love, comfort and peace. The Bible calls this place, “under the shadow of His wings.”

David often faced great difficulties in his life. In Psalm 36, David writes about those who would bring harm to his life. He realizes that he is helpless in face of these schemes; so he chooses to find refuge under the wings of his Lord God.

The words, “under His wings”, refer to how a young bird finds protection from danger within the shadow of his mother’s wings.  Whatever danger that comes to the young bird must first pass through the ever vigilant mother. God is like that mother bird. He gives us a place of refuge under the shadow of His wings. Nothing will enter our lives until it first passes through His ever vigilant eyes and protection.

Here are some examples of times when we need to seek the security that God provides for His children.

  •  Fear. (Even groundless fear is still painful.)
  •  Danger. (Self, sin, Satan, and foes)
  •  Inability to defend or overcome without help
  •  Foresight that sees the storm coming and looks for safety.
  •  Prudence to hide before the storm.
  •  Times of fatigue, discouragement, or temptation.

David fled to the safety of the shadow of the Lord”s wings because He knew God personally; thus, he could trust Him. How well do we know God? In Psalm 36, David focuses upon five attributes of God that will help us to know Him better.

1. God is merciful. We don’t deserve His forgiveness, compassion and protection; and yet  He shows mercy unto us.  “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens;” (Psalm 36:5a)

2. God is faithful. People may come and go in our lives. People may not want to help us. Sometimes, others may get tired of helping us, but God demonstrates His faithfulness by His presence in our lives. He never leaves us, nor does He forsake us.
“Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.” (Psalm 36:5b)

3. God is righteous. We can trust God because He can do no wrong. When God makes a promise to us, He keeps His word. There is great comfort and strength when we flee to God’s Word to claim one of His promises. God will never fail us, nor wrong us. “Thy righteousness is like the great mountains.” (Psalm 36:6a)

4. God is just. Everywhere we look we see injustices occurring. We wonder, “where is the justice?”  When we flee to God, we will receive justice. God’s justice is perfect and impartial. “Thy judgments are a great deep:” (Psalm 36:6b)

5. God is love. God knows our weakness. He knows our need of Him, more than we do. His love says to us: “Come unto me, I will take care of you” “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God!” (Psalm 36:7)

When we find refuge under the shadow of His wings, we will find abundant peace, protection and guidance from our Heavenly Father. David testifies of God’s provision in the life of those who live under the shadow of His wings. “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” (Psalm 36:8-9)

“Dear Father, instead of finding refuge under your wings, I try to solve my problems on my own. I know that I should come to you. I know that you love me; yet, I seek to go my way. Help me to trust you when hard times come. Place me under your loving wings; so that I will know the warmth of your love, peace and protection. Amen”

When No One Cares

Canadian Badlands in Alberta, Canada (Photo by: Mark J. Booth)

Canadian Badlands in Alberta, Canada (Photo by: Mark J. Booth)

“In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.” (Psalm 18:6)

“Does anyone care?” “If only I could find someone who will listen to me!”  Have you ever caught yourself thinking these thoughts? Yes, throughout life there are times when we feel alone.  We think no one cares. When these times occur, we must not forget that there is One who is always available. He loves us and is ready listen to us. He understands exactly how we feel. Are we ready to confide in our Lord?

When we confide in the Lord, we are saying to Him: “I trust you, and I know that you care about me. I pour out my heart to you, because I know that you understand. I also know that you will show me what I need to do.”

Why did Moses stay faithful in spite of his trials? He confided in the Lord. How did Joshua lead God’s people? He confided in the Lord. How did David receive forgiveness of his sin? He confided in the Lord. How did Paul rejoice in the midst of his persecution and difficulties? He confided in the Lord. How will we stay faithful through life’s tribulations?  We will need to confide in the Lord.

Why do we need to confide in the Lord?

1. We need to confide in the Lord because we have no wisdom or strength within ourselves. When King Jehoshaphat faced the near certain defeat of his armies, he confided in the Lord. He knew that God alone could handle this situation.  “O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” (2 Chronicles 20:12) Jehoshaphat demonstrated a spirit of humility before God which enabled him to confide in the Lord. We choose not to confide in God because we don’t want to admit our need of Him.

2. We need to confide in the Lord because we have a deceitful heart that can often lead us astray.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? ” (Jeremiah 17:9) People often say: “I can’t go wrong if I just follow my heart”. However, God makes it clear that we can not trust our own hearts. We often make decisions based upon our own selfishness, bias or lack of knowledge. We need to confide in the Lord because He will direct us in the right path.

3. We need to confide in the Lord because difficulties come into our lives. We can’t travel the road of life without continually confiding in our Lord. Jesus said: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) When tribulations come, do we forget that the Lord is greater than any trial that may come into our lives.

4. We need to confide in the Lord because of problems with others. People say: “I could be a good Christian, if it wasn’t for other people.” Yes, other people may hurt us, misunderstand us, ignore us and dislike us, but there is a friend who is always there. His name is Jesus! David confided in God when he faced powerful enemies; so can we. “Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise;” (Psalm 55:2)

5. We need to confide in God because of His Greatness. He is worthy of our faith. God is our all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful Lord. He is our High Priest to whom we can go at any time. He is a refuge in the midst of any storm. “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:8)

Elbow Lake in Alberta, Canada (Photo by: Mark J. Booth)

Elbow Lake in Alberta, Canada (Photo by: Mark J. Booth)

How do we confide in the Lord?

1. We share our requests openly with God. “Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God.” (Psalm 59:1)  The Psalmist understood that he could share any request with God, and that God would hear him. He is ready to listen to all of our requests.

2. We are to show gratefulness unto the Lord as we confide in Him. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6, 7) God loves to hear and answer our prayer requests, but He also loves to hear us give praise and thanks unto Him.

3. We are to show desperation when we confide in God.  “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee.” (Psalm 102:1) Our desperate cry shows our total dependence upon Him. Our cry also shows that He is our only hope. When desperate times come, God is waiting for us to cry out to Him.

4. We are to confide in God thoughtfully. Confiding in God means that we don’t repeat the same words without thought. God wants us to share our mind, will and emotions with Him.  When Jesus taught about prayer, He said: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do:” (Matthew 6:7)  

We have a choice each day. Will we openly confide in our Lord or ignore the opportunity of pouring out our hearts to our dearest Friend? We should not only confide in the Lord when we have sorrow and trials, but also in our times of blessing and joy. God wants us to confide in Him in every decision that we make. Confiding in God increases our love for Him because we find complete satisfaction in Him.

“Dear Lord, I often live my life without sharing it with you. You have blessed me with your presence and yet I ignore you. Why are you so patient with me? Help me to have the desire to confide in you completely. Thank you that you do care and that I can trust you with my whole heart. With my love, from your child. Amen”

When God wants to Drill a Man…

 A gold mine in South Africa (Encyclopedia Britannica)

A gold mine in South Africa (Encyclopedia Britannica)

“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

One of the most interesting experiences we had while living in South Africa was visiting Gold Reef City in Johannesburg.  There were plenty of shops, restaurants, and rides, but my favorite part was the tour of a gold mine (no longer in use),  We would take a mine elevator deep into the ground and the process of producing gold was explained.

The tour gave me some understanding concerning the mining of gold.  I never had understood the complicated process of getting the gold ore from the ground and making it usable.  I learned that they may drill as deep as two miles beneath the surface to extract the ore.  After the gold ore is mined, it has to be processed.  This means a lot crushing and then melting.  A great majority of the ore is discarded because only a small amount of the ore is useable gold.

Our lives are much like a gold mine operation.  God often must drill deep to find the gold in our lives.  We may prefer a superficial Christianity, but God wants to work in the deep recesses of our hearts.  He also must crush us of our pride and self-sufficiency; so that our hard hearts become soft towards Him.  God also melts away those things that hinder our walk with Him.  These may not be sinful in themselves, but God knows that they keep us from being our best for Him.

Job clearly understood this process.  He realized that all of His trials were God’s method of purifying his life and making him more useful for his Lord.  Like Job, we often feel the pain of God drilling deep in our hearts.  We also feel the pain of God crushing our pride towards Him.  God’s melting process of taking things out of our lives is also painful.  However, through it all, we know that God has a great purpose for what He is doing.

The following poem describes what Job experienced as well as the truth of Romans 8:28: ” And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

When God Wants To Drill A Man

When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man,
And skill a man
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;

When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!

anvil and hammer

How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him

Potter with Clay

Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!

 

 

How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And which every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out-
God knows what He’s about.

– Anonymous

Remembering Dad (Arthur T. Booth (1906-1993)

Dad and me (1957)

Dad and me (1957)

January 5th is a day that I never forget.  It is my Dad’s birthday.  Twenty years ago, I was leaving with my family to return to Portugal.  Dad and Mom were at the door of their house waving goodbye. Little did we know that this would be the last time, we would see Dad.  He would die later that year at eighty-seven years of age.

We don’t choose our Dad, but I am thankful for the Dad that God gave to me, because Dad was a very unique person.  His uniqueness was seen in many different ways.  Those who knew my Dad would say something to the effect: “There is only one Art Booth.”

Dad worked two jobs for most of his life and he didn’t really retire until he was eighty-four years old (three years before his death.)  He made sure that we as a family had everything we needed including a mother who could stay at home with the children.  Through all those years, I never heard Dad complain about working and taking care of us.

Dad may have been busy with work, but he had time to take me to all of my Little League Football games.  He also would take me to a nearby field and hit baseballs to me.   I can never forget the many times we went to see the Detroit Tigers play.  He especially liked to take us to the giveaway days, like Free Bat Day or Free Ball Day.

Dad also was never too busy to make us his “famous” pancakes on Sunday morning.  I still  remember the taste of his pancakes with Log Cabin syrup poured over them.  Dad also on occasion would make popcorn.  He didn’t believe in Jiffy Pop or a popcorn popper.  He made his popcorn in a saucepan. After finishing one batch, he would pour the contents on the kitchen table and we would fill our bowls.  This was a real treat.

Dad specialized in doing the little things that made others happy.  One year for Christmas, Dad looked all over Detroit for a football game that I wanted.  Later in life, when Sharon and I would come to the house, he always made sure there was Dr. Pepper in the fridge for Sharon.  Our daughter loved strawberries.  Dad made sure that there were fresh strawberries in the fridge.  He showed his love with deeds of kindness.

When I was studying in Seminary, Dad went to the trouble of buying me a 1970 Plymouth Fury III.  He drove it all the way down to Chattanooga, TN and then flew back to Detroit.   When the car was totaled (no fault of my own), he once again came down to Chattanooga with another big car.  This time it was a baby blue 1972 Chrysler Newport with a white vinyl top.  As you can tell, Dad loved big cars.

Our yearly family vacation with Dad was a great adventure.  Dad treated our vacations like “The Amazing Race.”  Dad would choose a destination and we would drive long distances each day to get to our destination.  After seeing what we came to see, Dad would say “It’s time to go.”  I think we might have spent two hours at the Grand Canyon.  For Dad, it wasn’t the destination, it was the driving to get there. Dad loved to drive.  Because of all those trips, Dad gave Wayne (my brother) and me a love for travel to this day.

Dad never was one to talk a lot about himself. He was a man of action who kept moving and kept busy.  If he wasn’t busy, he was napping or watching Big Time Wrestling.  I did learn a few things about him.  He ran track in high school, and he almost made the 1924 Olympic track team.  He managed an A&P for awhile.  He also knew and worked for Garwood of the racing boat fame. However, I never really knew my Dad.  I should have asked questions about his life, instead of living in my own world.  I missed out in learning some important family history as well as some local history of where I was raised in Highland Park, Michigan.

Dad never sat me down and had a deep conversation, but I did learn a lot of lessons by watching him. He taught me the importance of never getting into debt, as well as the need to work hard. I also learned generosity towards others.  He also taught me that if something needs to be fixed, duct tape is the answer.

Was my Dad a perfect dad? Of course not, but he loved his family. He provided everything
we needed. He also would go out of his way to meet many of our wants.  He also encouraged me to go out and fulfill my goals.  The Bible says: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14)  God’s plan for my life was to make Arthur Booth my father.  I thank God for the Dad that he gave me. Dad is greatly by all those who knew him.  He was one of kind!

Dad and Mom

Dad and Mom

Perry Mayton: A Faithful Pastor (My Father-in-Law)

Perry Mayton (1919-2003)

Perry Mayton (1919-2003)

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

(1 Corinthians 15:58) Every time I read this verse, I can’t help but think of my Father-in-Law, Perry Mayton.  He lived out this verse in his daily life before his family, and every person who knew him.

Perry Mayton was born January 3, 1919 in the small city of Harriman, Tennessee.  God was preparing Perry’s heart to serve Him through two tragic events in his childhood.  His dad died when he was six years old and his mom died when he was a teen.  These tragic events would help give Perry a compassionate heart as he ministered to people throughout his life.

Harriman was a city filled with gospel preaching churches.  As a result, Perry accepted the Lord as his Savior during his teenage years.  For a few years he didn’t grow in his faith, but God was preparing him for future ministry.  After leaving the army, Perry began working in one of the mills in Harriman.   During that time, he met his future bride Iva Olmstead.  In 1948, they married.  Soon after the wedding, Perry believed that the Lord had called him into the ministry.  He demonstrated this calling by his faithfulness in serving the Lord for over fifty years.

There are several things that stand out in Perry’s life and ministry.  One thing that always impressed me was his tireless service for the Lord.  During most of the years of his ministry, Perry also had to work a day job.  This meant that he would work all day and then take on the demands of a pastor during the evening and Sunday.  I never heard him complain because he found great joy and peace in serving the Lord.

I was also impressed with Perry’s knowledge of the Word of God.  He never had much formal Bible training, but he knew the Word of God.  He understood the doctrines of the Bible as well as any person who had formal training.  He loved to study His Bible.  His passion for God’s Word is expressed by the Psalmist in Psalm 119:16: “I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.”

Perry also had a compassionate heart towards others.  He showed concern for any person in need.  He had a special compassion for the lost.  A few times, I would go with Perry when he did his weekly radio broadcast.  His passion for the lost was clearly seen as he would plead for the lost to repent of their sin and turn to the Lord as their Savior.  He had the unique gift of having both the heart of an evangelist and a pastor.

The fourth thing that impressed me about Perry was his great spirit of humility before God and others.  I never heard him talk about any of his accomplishments.  He did God’s work and didn’t think about the praise of men.  He sought to please God alone.  This humility was obvious to any person who had Perry as their pastor.

The greatest impact that Perry had upon my life was through his daughter, Sharon. Perry did a great job of preparing his daughter for being a wife and mother.  Sharon understands to this day what it means to minister in a local church.  Her father also taught her how to love the Word of God and minister to people with a heart of compassion.

Our Wedding (June 22, 1979)

Our Wedding (June 22, 1979)

Perry was quite well-known in the Harriman area because he had been the pastor of several local churches.  I never heard anybody say a bad thing about “Brother Perry”.  He was beloved by the people in his churches and he loved them.  He would continue to minister via the radio and preaching in churches until his health kept him from doing what he always loved.

On September 1, 2003, Perry would enter into the presence of His Savior.  The funeral visitation was a great testimony to his over fifty years of ministry.  The line to greet Perry’s widow, Iva, went outside of the doors of the funeral home. Many people told us how God had used Perry in their lives.  The outpouring of love was a testimony to Perry’s faithfulness in his service to the Lord.

Yes, Perry is missed by his family, friends and many of those to whom he ministered; however, his testimony lives on in the lives of many people.  The words of Matthew 25:23 apply to the life of Perry Mayton.  “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant;”  Perry has finished his labors here on earth, but his legacy lives on through his family and many others who were blessed by his ministry.

A Prayer for the New Year

Malachi 3:6: The Canadian Rockies-Photo by Mark J. Booth

Malachi 3:6: The Canadian Rockies-Photo by Mark J. Booth

Dear Heavenly Father,

I live in a world that is constantly changing; yet you do not change.  My circumstances may change, but you do not change.  My health my change, but you do not change.  My financial situation may change, but you do not change.  The people in my life may change, but you do not change.

Thank you, Father, for giving me the privilege to call you, Father.  Thank you for the blessings of the past year.  You showed your mercy towards me every day.  Your presence was always with me even when I wasn’t aware of you being with me.  Your Word brought direction, comfort, and conviction throughout the past year.  You blessed me by using my family, and many other people who showed love and kindness towards me.  You gave me strength when I was weak.  You gave me wisdom when I was confused.  Above all, I thank you for your love that I didn’t deserve.

Father, as I look forward to the New Year, I realize that I am facing the great unknown,  but my unknown future is known to you.. For this reason,  I commit this New Year to you.  Help me to keep my eyes focused upon you.

Please guide me in every decision that I make.  Help me to love my wife, my family, and all those that you bring into my life.  Give me the strength, patience, and wisdom to bear any trial that may come my way.  Help me to draw closer to you each day.  Increase my faith, because I often walk by sight and not by faith.

When I am tempted to go astray, bring me back to yourself.  When my love becomes lukewarm, woo me back to yourself.  When I feel like quitting, let me experience your grace to move forward.

Thank you, Father, for your ears that are always open to my prayers.  Take my life and let it be devoted to you.  I commit my ever-changing life to you, because you are my unchanging Father.  Amen.