My Best Decision

Sunday, December 9, 2018

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27 years ago today, I made a choice to follow Jesus.  It was and still is the best decision of my life.  I know to some people this may sound weird or radical, but I know others understand.  And frankly, public opinion really doesn’t matter– I would rather have a day with Christ in my life, than a minute without Him.  I don’t know where you stand about Christ, Christianity, church…etc. but all I can say is it is so worth the risk, the time, and energy.

Life doesn’t always make sense and sometimes, despite the Bible having a myriad of detailed verses, it doesn’t either.  But sometimes, something comes into your life that’s a game-changer, something collides with your logic, your fears, your apathy, and challenges it…in a good way.  I think many times people have their preconceived labels and opinions about Christians, but I guess my challenge to you, if you’re that person, is don’t let your assumptions and presuppositions keep you from the genuine, authentic truth about God.

I’ve had my struggles and doubts along the way, gotten angry hurling nasty words at a God I wasn’t sure existed, and still fight vices and just plain ugly parts within me, but praise God,  being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re perfect or flawless.  And if for some reason, you think Christianity is about judgmental people who think their right and you’re wrong, their better and you’re worse, their perfect, and you’re not…I’m so sorry.  I’m sorry that’s been your experience–that’s not it at all.  It’s all about forgiveness.  It’s all about the great equalizer– no sin is better or worse than the next guy’s and as I heard someone say the other day so beautifully…”the ground is level at the foot of the cross.”  Jesus did something for me, I could never do myself– something humanity couldn’t do for itself.  I’m thankful for forgiveness so I can have peace with a just and holy God.  I’m thankful, I don’t have to work my tail off to figure out if I get into Heaven.  I’m thankful I can wake up in the morning with purpose and a sense of adventure because God is alive and personally relates to each of us.

There is so much I don’t know, but just as I would feel the excitement and obligation to tell you about a good deal, fun experience, or special announcement…I just have to “shout it” from the “mountain tops” of a computer-typed blog….Jesus is alive, God does exist, and He is so worth it.

Whatever it is, don’t be apathetic.  Just give Jesus a chance. What does that look like?  I don’t know exactly.  It can be different for all sorts of people–maybe it’s talking to a friend about your questions, reading something in the Bible, trying to talk to God in prayer, stepping foot in a church, asking God your questions– maybe it’s just starting by being real with what you love or hate about the church, faith, or even Him.   If you are looking for purpose–give Him a chance. If you are looking for hope–give Him a few minutes of your time.  If you are tired of judgement or hurting in pain…give Him at least the smallest opportunity to speak life and peace into your world.  If you are bored and need adventure, by all means… explore your faith, ask the hard questions, seek Him out like you would a good friend.  All I can say, is whatever you do and whatever your hesitations may be, don’t miss out on the best decision of your life.


For Freedom's Sake

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Dear Daughter,

You are tired, dear one.  Rest in me.  You are not perfect, yet you strive so hard, but you cannot be perfect.  That's what Christ did for you.  We did that for you so you didn't have to.  You needn't strive so hard, furrowed brow, heavy heart, nose to the ground because I promised to complete the good work I started in you.  You need to just be-- don't do, don't perform, don't strive-- press into Me.  You cannot become more perfect because your perfection is not based on what you do and what you don't do.  It's based on what I've already done for you.   Press into my benevolence, be present with Me, pursue My presence over perfection--let Me reflect My glory on your face.  Then you will shine out of overflow, not depletion.   You will shine with gratitude, not despair.

Love Your Father,

God


The Ocean "Psalm"

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

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Oh Lord, my Lord,

You are beyond my comprehension.

You know what you are doing-- you withhold no good thing.

You know the creatures in the sea-- you know every grain of sand.

                                                           You are with me-- aware of my going and coming even if I were in the very middle of the deepest ocean.

You count the stars in the sky...to sum You up is impossible.

You are not contained by that cloud or this moment--

You stand above and beyond.

Holy grandeur, immense majesty...You are, Lord, so much greater than me, so much "other than."

The oceans are but a puddle and the depths of the sea a rain drop-- yet here you are with me, caring about me--my needs, my joy, my pain, my hurt, my relationships, my struggle my sin, my victory.

Nothing is beyond You.

You hear me, though I doubt.

You are working, though I fear.

You beckon me to just simply "be" when I strive.

You bring calm from the chaos, life from death, beauty from defilement, fresh starts from discards.

Praise Your glorious name.

Praise You for the magnitude of Your glory in the midst of the intricacy of Your tender care.

Praise You for letting me into Your world.

Praise you for meeting me, right here, right now-- personally, intimately, beautifully, profoundly-- in the midst of a very vast and wide world.

Surely, I am fearfully and wonderfully made-- not by man's doing, but only because of You.

Let me think of your magnitude when I fear.

Let me dwell on your power when I get angry.

Let me fall to your feet when I strive.

For you are wholly Holy, my Lord, the Lord, God Almighty.

I love you, Amen


Crumbs

Monday, May 21, 2018

Vices, undesirable habits—we tote these not-so-funny idiosyncrasies around like unwanted crumbs on the floor of a minivan.  For years we strive to pick up these “crumbs” only to realize they are deeply ingrained and not so removable.

Hebrews 12 1 charges us to remove the sin that so easily entangles us.  You think to yourself, “You can do it.  Let go.  Try harder.  Move forward,” but life spins forward without permission and these little entanglements that you try so hard to be freed from, still pile on the bottom of the minivan floor.

There are 3 ways you can turn when your crumbs pile and the minivan speeds up:

Oftentimes we do pick option 3—we turn to God.  We spend time in prayer with Him, we do our best to not only read the Bible but apply it.  But sometimes you review your historical behavior and realize victory seems close but not fully seized.  It’s like those extra stubborn crumbs you just can’t get out of the fabric flooring of the car.  No matter how hard you vigorously run the vacuum nozzle over the same patch of obliterated waste, it just won’t come off.  After much elbow-grease exertion, you sigh and say to yourself, “Oh well, I guess these are here to stay.”

Paul speaks to the church in Colossae and Laodicea about his efforts to help them become more and more like Christ.  Colossians 1:28-29 says, “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.  To this end I labor, struggling with all his [Christ’s] energy, which so powerfully works in me.”

And isn’t that just the case?!  We proclaim God, we say it is His power and wisdom and we strive to be perfect in Christ.  We try our best, we want it and work towards fulfilled new year’s resolutions and better behavior, only to feel somewhat worn down and nearly defeated.  But isn’t it encouraging to know that this is a common experience in the Christian walk?  Even Paul, an apostle of Jesus, says, “To this end I labor…STRUGGLING with all HIS energy.”  Such a relief!  Paul, the apostle of Christ, says that he LABORS, STRUGGLES with all of Jesus’ energy.  He is pressing into the Lord Himself, yet Paul still finds himself barely making it.  Striving for perfection and kingdom advances but laboring and struggling the whole time.  It has not been easy for him.  He must pull on every ounce of strength, energy and motivation from the Holy Spirit and even at that, he is barely managing at times.

It is subtle falicy to think that with Christ’s help, everything will be easy, simpler, with virtually no struggle.  It is another discouraging lie to think that just because it is hard to overcome old vices, perhaps you lack faith and are not leaning on the Lord enough.  And although, living a life on your own strength is much more challenging than leaning on God’s strength, we must remember that we may still struggle even if we properly lean on the power of Christ.  How much harder and non-redemptive would it be if we choose to ignore His strength altogether?

Even Christ, with the crucifixion at hand, was sweating drops of blood because He knew all the vile pain He would soon endure.  Did these drops of sweaty blood indicate He wasn’t trusting God?  Not at all.   We know that He, out of all people, was relying on the power of the living God.  But because we know our “struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6:12),” we can be assured that any form of triumph will not come without a fight.

Just because victory comes with great struggle, effort and labor, it does not mean our faith is weak.  Rather it means the battle is great.  And although it is always necessary to honestly check our faith radar to see if, in fact, we are truly depending on God, energy-zapping-sin-slaying does not always equate to weak faith.

We have this Hope in the tug-a-war of crumb cleaning that God is greater.  We can press in to God with all our might, and it truly may take all of our might and His, to finally defeat our giants.  Even those that trust God completely “labor, struggling with all HIS energy, which so powerfully works in [them]” (Col 1:29).  As you fight your good fight and run your race, as you keep praying about the same personal problem for the fourth year in a row, as you shake your head in frustration when your efforts seem meaningless…grant yourself grace because God sees your heart.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything…Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:2-4, 12).


The Lowly Manger Scene

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Mary, Joseph and a sweet little baby sleeping on a patch of straw.  There is something so humble, yet inviting, about this scene.  So often our best laid plans are thwarted.  Sometimes the failed expectations can be heartbreaking.  but that is where we must trust that God is behind it.  He is working, and He can bring purpose out of senselessness.  When we find ourselves in our own lowly manger scene, we must recount His goodness and muster up a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

-We thank God for the manger-- how utter pure, simple, organic it was, but yet the Son of God was protected, safe and sheltered.  The prophesies of the long awaited Messiah were finally fulfilled.

-We thank God for the journey to the manager-- how rough, long and exhausting it was, but it stripped away the pride of the heart and created an interdependence on the Father.

-We thank God for the inhospitable Inn Keeper-- his "no" was so harsh, ungenerous, and selfish but yet in his "no," Mary and Joseph found themselves together with ox and lamb privately and so intimately welcoming the Creator of the Universe into His creation.

This is the Christmas Story-- so simple, so unassuming, so raw, so unannounced- but in it we see that God uses all things for His glory and purpose.  In it we find that thwarted plans and ordinary moments are exactly where God likes to place His fingerprint of divinity.  And in it, we see that God does not need the lime light, power, prestige or popularity to make Himself known.  He is not limited by Inn Keeper "no's" or "Caesar Decrees" or flawed individuals.  His good and perfect will transcends the false, earthly presuppositions because He is faithful, trustworthy and capable of finishing the good work He has begun.

May you find comfort this Christmas in the meek and mild.

May you find peace in ordinary simplicity.

And may you find hope in the One who came over 2000 years ago to save you and love you forever.

"God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work."

2 Corinthians 9:8


Together

Saturday, September 2, 2017

What do you pack when you go visit your close friend who just got diagnosed with cancer? This is weird, unnatural. I'm not supposed to be loading the car for this. Maybe when we're older, when our kids graduated... not now. We are all still getting married, getting established with our lives, having babies. But I have to be there. I need to see her, more than anything right now. I need to just hug her, cry with her, laugh with her, hear her voice and let her know I love her with every bit of me.

It is in these moments when life takes an abrupt pause and the clatter in your head begins to focus a little less on small daily annoyances and more on embracing those in your circle.  In the solemn stillness, we find that life becomes about survival---survival of our dear friend's life, survival of friendships, survival of our faith and survival of the joys and bonds that tether us uniquely together.

God has granted us special and rich friendships with one another beautifully crafted in such a way that we remain deeply connected despite living miles apart.  It is in these times that we must come together, unite and remember the decades of history we share.  Our friend needs us-I would argue, now more than ever- emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually...she needs us and more importantly, we need her.

Tragedy, hardship, misfortune...these are uncomfortable terms with unfamiliar emotions.  They make us squirm and uncertain how to respond.  What do you say?  What's right?  What's wrong?  It's all so messy.  But I guess that's the nature of love.  It is messy---full of unknowns, risk, grief and joy.  It is the fullness of being loved and loving well those who are dear.  My dearest friends-- the group of girls from kindergarten, middle school and high school---we are so blessed to have each other.  And although, this is unfamiliar territory with this recent diagnosis, we need to messily trod through this scary wasteland together.  It is no consequence that God has put us in each other's lives for such a time as this.  Each of us brings our uniqueness to the table.  Our group holds so much diversity and each of us shares our strengths in our own way to help in this journey of healing for our friends.   So many personalities-- the listener, the empathizer, the wisdom-imparter, the stoic, the joy bringer, the peacemaker, the comic relief, the organizer, the matriarch, the one who can take the night shift, the one available before the crack of dawn-each of us brings their own beautiful God-given gifts.  It is what makes our group the way it is, and we must embrace that more than ever for the sake of our friend and for the sake of each other.

It is easy to not want to enter pain especially given the option, but I believe we must find the healthy tension to grieve with our friend yet be strong in her fight.  I encourage you, do not turn off your heart to a more comfortable portion of emotion.  Embrace the tender twinge, let yourself cry out of love and enter in to the discomfort with her.  But be ready to stand strong, bringing your gifts, talents and beautiful personality to help her fight and heal.  Support her selflessly and be her prayer warrior.  We are in it for the long haul.  We will fight the good fight with her so that she knows she is never alone.

I am so grateful for the gift of each of you and I hope this experience draws us closer.  And to our dear, brave, beautiful friend...You have all of us---pull on us, lean on us, call on us---you have our attention, our time, our strengths, our prayers, and most importantly our love.  That's what friends are for.

 

This song makes me think of our beautiful group:

Twice As Good by Sara Groves


Black Raspberries

Friday, June 30, 2017

The kiss of the warm breeze upon my check, the sound of  the chain saw cutting through fallen logs, seven o'clock evening sun slightly sinking with trails of splendent beams, motorcyclists, bonfires, the dog cutting through the green grass...this is summer.  My favorite season.  It is the reminder of birth, life, freshness, growth...hope.  It brings anticipation, excitement and peace.  The drain and darkness of winter is forgotten with the vibrant cacophony of crickets, locusts, children laughing, lawnmowers and birds.

Sometimes we wait for life-- the big things, the "one-days" and the next phase. But here it is now-- all around you-- now.  Most of life is comprised of small moments and simple pleasures.  These are where memories are made, laughter is found and the sweet taste of joy is savored.

Today was nothing special.  It was piled with the ordinary-- starting with a tired morning and traffic-jammed commute.  It continued with a troubleshooting shift, late lunch, achy back, sporadic texts, inside jokes, kind strangers, familiar coworkers and an overtime clock- out stamp. There were interruptions, frustrations, annoyances, funny moments, mid morning snacks, and to-do list accomplishments.  And the evening brought nothing more than a sleepy approach to household tasks, tacos and yard work.  But quietly it snuck in, like the sheepish shimmer of a morning sunrise-- there in the midst of the ordinary was peaceful gratitude.

This was life, right now--memories, tomorrow's sentiments, next years' "remember when".  Here it was-- my man and I working outside cutting up trees in our yard, starting a bonfire to burn the brush, pausing to sneak up on two fawns with their cute little dots, a quick call from Grandma, playing with the dog, riding in the back of the John Deere trailer, the smell of smoke and summer infiltrating our nostrils and a handful of tiny black raspberries, homegrown from our own land.  We were dirty and sweaty, sneezing and smiley, loving and laughing.  What more could I ask for?   These moments are gifts.  A beautiful home, a full tummy, my loving man, the summer sun, grandma's sweet voice, health to work, peaceful land, and the perfect handful of fresh black raspberries...gift, gift, gift, gift.

Don't miss it.  Don't wish for tomorrow or hope for grandeur.  Don't waste your time comparing your life to others or stressing about the problem you can't solve. Slow down, remember what you already have.  Breath in peace.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.  Galatians 6:4-6 (The Message)


Blessed

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Matthew 5:1-10

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God

BLESSED (Greek- makarios):

So although the whole word may crumble, although everything may fall apart, although I may feel unloved...deep joy is mine. God highly favors me. Privileged am I when...I hunger and thirst, run and strive towards righteousness...when I seek and hold on to innocence and purity...when I pursue and become the example of peace in my household, in my family, in my career.  Especially favored am I when I seek God's treasures.  Then will I be filled. Then will I see His Beauty.  Then will I be recognizable as the daughter of the Living God.  Not because of my doing, my efforts or my accomplishments.  No.  Because of His benevolence and promise.


Simplicity

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Simplicity.  Just the word evokes a sense of peace and calm.  Images of simple spaces and places seep into my senses-- a cozy corner chair with a book, blanket and a hot cup of coffee, warm s'mores next to the fire, curling up in a pile of pillows with the one you love, laughter over shared experiences or a smile of gratitude.  It just elicits peace.

Sometimes simplicity isn't as perfect and snuggly.  Sometimes simplicity is a glorious cover for living paycheck to paycheck, choosing between medicine or food, white toast because your stomach couldn't handle the spicy spaghetti, or staying in for the evening because you don't have energy to hardly make it up the steps, let alone out the door.

Jesus came simply...a royal king simply born to two young parents exiled from their hometown and bound to a donkey for a long journey.  And His timing was impeccable... the middle of the night in a village where no inns were available, just a small, smelly simple manger.  Somehow simplicity collided with majesty and glory was born.

I've been thinking a lot about the simplicity and how it relates to the words "calling" and "purpose."  Often our calling doesn't look like the way we thought it would or should.  In America, we see powerful leaders in the church---they write good books, they make great speeches, and they seem so cool on social media.  Some have seemed to start a movement, really make a difference.  We learn from them, we seek their input on theological matters, and we subscribe to the pre-sale edition of their new book.

As we sit at home, run the daily errands, go to the grocery store, fight with our spouses, mow the grass, pay the bills and hit our snooze alarm for the sixth time before work, we begin to wonder how is any of it is meaningful or useful.  It's the not so picture perfect version of simplicity.

When I was growing up, my parents spoke often about being a missionary, but not miles away in a foreign land. Instead they talked about how to be a missionary in your own land---in the classroom with your peers, at work, even at home.   Being an ambassador for Christ did not need to start across the sea, sometimes it needed to start within the four corners of your residence.

You may be feeling the call of God on your life.  Maybe you want to travel the world and bring hope to the less fortunate.  Maybe you want to write a book.  Maybe you want to sing in front of thousands.  Maybe you want to start up a mission in the local area, but be sure to bring all these dreams before the throne room of God.  If God has called you, He will equip you and will pave the way.  But quiet your heart before Him and make sure you are seeking His Kingdom and not your own.  "Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain," Psalm 127:1

I once heard Charles Stanley on the radio, and he was talking about the simplicity of obedience.   To paraphrase he said something to the effect that, "Sometimes the big things that God does start with little acts of obedience on things that appear to be seemingly insignificant."  A baby in a manager seems pretty insignificant.   But the beauty of the insignificant is that it points back to God. God will use the unqualified, the broken, and the weak to accomplish His master plans.  Why?  Because it is His glory revealed.  For man to think that he is the contributor of the greatness and expansion of God's purposes is to fall short in the recognition that God, the Almighty, is the sovereign orchestrator of all cosmic good.

It is tempting to want a platform.  It's tempting to want to become famous or make a profit off of the God-given creativity within you, but maybe your calling starts in the simplicity of your own home.  Maybe what needs to be accomplished can happen on the 2' x 2' couch cushion in the quietness of your family room.  Perhaps your calling is simply to live in harmony with your spouse.  Possibly it is simply to find emotional healing within your heart.  Maybe your calling is simply to live a different way in a family of unbelievers.

Simplicity should not be equated with simple.  The simplicity of a task does not make the task any less important or relevant.  Rather, it connotes a sense of subtly---the lack of pomp and circumstance.  It is, in a sense, a quiet strength, a silent power.

Just because your calling and purpose appear less grandiose to the world's standards, it may be abundantly pleasing to the heart of God.  "As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 'Truly I tell you,' he said, 'this poor widow has put in more than all the others.   All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on' " Luke 21:1-4.

Do not look down upon your calling, but rather embrace it with full surrender.  If God has called you, no matter how seemingly insignificant the task (key word "seemingly") charge at it with full force because God is about to do immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).  These are the riches of God---that in our weakness, His power is glorified.  That in our frail "yes," His wisdom is revealed.    It is not the calling that defines a man, but it is the obedience to the calling that a man's heart is defined by.

So when your two coins can hardly clink together and you feel like the widow in severe poverty, remember the promise of God, that "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much," Luke 16:10.


The Season of Thirty

Monday, October 10, 2016

Life hasn't exactly gone as I had hoped or planned.  But whose life has? We have these goals and dreams that we thought would have looked a little different or should have been completed by a certain time in our life, but somehow our expectations seem to surpass our reality.  We shrug our shoulders as one disappointment comes and goes and another obstacle appears on center stage.  This is life.

I've hit the thirties now.  I told God that if I was thirty when I was getting married, I would cry.  I couldn't imagine being so old to finally have found "the one" and guess what...I was the nice round number of thirty as I walked down the aisle.  And yes, I did cry.

I was hoping the thirties would have proven to be a time of high hopes, redemption, new adventures and a sense of strength, establishment and control over my life.  But it's been quite the opposite.  I've shed numerous tears, questioned myself, prayed to overcome the same vices I was praying to overcome in my twenties and grappled at the idea of victory that often seems so close yet so far out of reach.

I'm in the process of changing jobs due to geographical relocation and this has been a trying process.  My job was a source of redemption, a confidence builder---it was something constant that made sense.  Choosing to leave it for something less stable has been heartbreaking. I'm stepping down from a leadership position to return to a position that has its own history of heartache.  All these fears rise to the surface.  What if this is not a temporary job?  What if it is years before I am ever in a position that affords me so much authority like the job I love?  What if this isn't a lateral move or even worse, what if it is a downwards move?  What if I hate this job and I'm stuck?  So many questions, so many fears and doubts.  And wasn't this supposed to be the time of my life that had more stability than the twenties??

Years ago, I felt a call on my life to go into ministry.  God was calling me to do more, to do something for His Kingdom and not just my own.  I soon after decided to earn my master's degree in theological studies.  It's only been three and half years since I've completed my degree, but the fire remains in me.  This nagging concern about what am I truly doing for God?  Anything?  It's hard to stick with the golden rule on most days, let alone make great strides for His kingdom.

So here I am, in my thirties, changing careers, and searching for something in which to apply my master’s degree, but I'm left feeling somewhat like a mutt.  Where do I fit in?  How can I be used by God?  Is it through my career or is it outside of my career? I thought at this point in my life I would be doing something---something substantial---something that mattered and instead I'm in transition once again.  Can I be used?  Will I be used?  Am I of value?  To what extent will I be used?  Will it be small in my eyes?  The questions storm my head incessantly as I attempt to find my place in this sphere of fragile humanity.

But perhaps, my perspective is skewed. Change is scary and full of grief.  Even positive change bears with it an aspect of loss---loss of the familiar, loss of relationship, loss of the known.  However, stagnancy carries its own inherent burden.  It is suffocating, entrapping, even at times imprisoning. No room to move.  No hope for change. No risk or opportunity for adventure. At worst, it's defeating, at best... boring.  Just as when I'm in a traffic jam, I'd rather go off the unknown side roads that could potentially take fifteen minutes longer than sit in a pile up of smog waiting for my speedometer to breech 5 miles per hour.  I'd rather be moving than stuck. And so goes the season of thirty.

Before me is the hope of something new, limitless potential.  And although, I've lost some elasticity in my skin and the ability to sleep solidly through the night, I haven't lost this notion that God has placed a call on my life.  What God calls, He will not renege.

"For God's gifts and his call are irrevocable." Romans 11:29  Ironically, Jeremiah 29:11 (amused by this play on numbers) says something similar, " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  For fear of proof texting accusations, let me clarify that I understand these passages apply to Israel and those grafted in.   And although, they speak of salvation, they also speak of the faithfulness of a Holy God who has not left His children, nor ever will. They speak of His character and His faithfulness.  If God has placed a call on my life, He will not rescind His call.  This call is a burden, a passion, a desire to do something for His glory, His purposes. It is like Jeremiah the prophet.  He was miserable but yet could not get away from this nagging presence of God.

Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the Lord has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
But if I say, "I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,"
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
(Jeremiah 20:8-9)

Much of the Bible speaks of perseverance because Jesus knows, this world is tough and often things don't go according to "plan."  (Yes, perhaps a gross understatement but nonetheless true.)  However, the hope and joy of the Christian walk is that we do not endure theses struggles alone, nor without purpose.  For God promises to work out all, "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

If God has called you, He will equip you. That's what all this seemingly non-sensical unexpected messiness and heartache is used for--to train and empower you for what lies ahead. But we must persevere and not lose hope.  The world is full of potential, opportunity and promise.  With God all things are possible" Matthew  19:26.  The key is, "with God." If God has placed a desire on your heart to be used for His glory, bring it to Him in prayer.  He will. Be ready.

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."  Hebrews 10:35-36


The Ostrich

Friday, September 23, 2016

You may judge me.  You may think how I write is too shallow, too deep, too pointless, to vain, too dramatic, too long, too egocentric, too______ you fill in the blank.  Everybody has their assessments.  It's the "risk" (if that's what you want to call it) that is taken when vulnerability exposes the inward thoughts and heart of a soul.  If I'm honest, I would have to confess those thoughts nag at me, but that is counterproductive thinking because in the end, it really doesn't matter.

No man will go un-judged.  People are people.  Neurons fire, inundating our thought life with endless evaluations, observations, and categorizations of the other billion human beings with whom we share this planet.  It's bound to happen and so in knowing that...why fear it?  "If God is for us, who can be against us?"(Romans 8:31).

And so I'll continue to write...I'll write and you can call me stupid or annoying.  You can call me average or emotional.  It's ok.  It's truly not your opinion that counts because a higher opinion is at stake.  To fear man and conform to the standards and limitations  that are imposed, is much more cowardly than to face accusation and quietly respond to the still soft voice in your heart-- the guidance of God prompting you to do the right thing, chase the goal laid out in front of you.  That goal is yours to take, not your neighbor's, not your brother's-- it's your marching orders, your calling, your passion, your dreams placed on your heart by a God who knows you better than you know yourself.

Each day, you are given an opportunity to run towards the goal or you can choose apathy or distraction.  At the end of the day and at then end your life, will you review your time to see that you ran your hardest or will you see that you spent more time on the sidelines?

God's placed a desire, a passion, a kathartic benefit through the art of writing on my heart.  I may not be the best.  In fact, I know I'm not the best, but that's ok. God didn't make me to be the best because it was never really about me to begin with...it's about Him.  God can use anything, anyone, any trial, any tragedy, any celebration to reveal more of His character and glory.  "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Cor. 4:7).  That's the beauty of it all.  God's ability to work in and through me is not based on my skill or resume.  It's based on my simple, "Yes".  Have I said yes to the person He has made me to be?

In the Book of Job, God is responding to Job about His knowledge and design of His creation:

"The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully,
    though they cannot compare
    with the wings and feathers of the stork.
She lays her eggs on the ground
    and lets them warm in the sand,
unmindful that a foot may crush them,
    that some wild animal may trample them.
She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers;
    she cares not that her labor was in vain,
for God did not endow her with wisdom
    or give her a share of good sense.
Yet when she spreads her feathers to run,
    she laughs at horse and rider.
"  (Job 39:13-19)

"For God did not endow her with wisdom,"-- I'm almost slightly offended for the ostrich.  It's almost like God is saying, "You know, the ostrich I made...she's not really that smart. She's kind of a dim light bulb."  Not exactly a compliment. But if we stop here, we miss the point.  God's not making a statement about the stupidity of the ostrich but rather the uniqueness of the ostrich.  Although, her strong suite isn't her keen natural maternal instincts or intelligence, she runs with such skill, grace and speed, that a horse suddenly pales in comparison.   She is gifted in the way that is unique to her and when she runs, she is a shining reflection of her Creator's glory.

God sees us, He knows us.  David, the psalmist proclaims, "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:13).  We were made with purpose and we were made with design.

God does not waste.  He is not limited by our limitations.  But rather, His power and goodness shines all the more through our cracked, broken, imperfect selves to accomplish His good and perfect will.

So I will write, and I will be judged by those who read, but God is not defined by man's judgements.  It's just another opportunity for Him to prove that He can use anything, even as senseless ostrich, to work in mighty ways.