Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Solar Lights

These lights fascinate me.
They just sit there out in the yard all day long looking nondescript and inactive.
Yet as soon as the sun goes down, on pops their light spilling a circle of illumination onto the grass lighting a pathway to show me the way.

They soak up the sun all day and when the darkness comes, they are ready to shine a light into the shadows.

Can I emulate one of my lights?
Can I soak in the Son and then when things get dim and obscure have a light to shine that will show the right path to follow?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Morning Meditation

Good morning Lord.

The sun is rising - it's a new day - there will be new mercies and more demonstrations of Your loving kindness.

More joy awaits and there are more opportunities to delight in you.

There will be more challenges that can teach me how to trust you and I will have the ability to love those around me and bring honor to Your name.

It's a new day to walk with your arm around my shoulder leaning close to you as you direct me where to go and we'll be able to talk heart to heart as we're journeying together.

Thank you Father for this new day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mightier than these...

(It's not like it takes a whole lot but...)
The ocean boggles my mind - the rising and falling of the tides, the constancy of it's motion, the strength of it's waves but mostly it is the sheer immensity of it.

When we flew out of L.A. to Hawaii it was a six hour flight. We cleared land in about ten minutes which left us over the Pacific for six hours; it's something like 2500 miles of water! The Pacific stretches from the Bering Strait in the North down to the Southern Ocean by the South Pole, and from the coast of North and South America to Asia! It covers, all by itself, 1/3 of the earths total surface! It's big! (I had to include a map, it's both the teacher and the amazement in me, but it's relative I promise! The Pacific is so big that all 30,000 islands in it's waters, including big ones like New Zealand and Japan, added together, have land surface that only amounts to one-quarter of one percent of the ocean's surface area!)

The Lord is king! He is robed in majesty. Indeed, the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength...The mighty oceans have roared, O Lord. The mighty oceans roar like thunder; the mighty oceans roar as they pound the shore. But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore - the Lord above is mightier than these. (Psalms 93: 1, 3-4)


What violently rages in our lives?
What colossal waves crash into our souls trying to pound us to pieces?
What comes at us ceaselessly wearing us down like the erosion of a beachfront?
Whatever these things are - the Lord is mightier than these.

The whale of a problem that I am facing; that is way beyond my ability to solve or even comprehend - that fills my heart like a humpback in a bathtub - the Lord is mightier than these. A whale in the Pacific is nothing to the vastness of that ocean; so also are the things that paralyze us with indecision and fear - the Lord is mightier than these.

I wish you were sitting here with me - looking at the ocean, mist spraying across my Bible as I read these words and witness the power before me knowing that if I were to go out into this surf my strength would be of no use against its power. But as my strength is to the ocean so is God's power to the power of the ocean, because the Lord is mightier than these.

Even if we humanly can, with our maps and our experiences, comprehend the immensity of the oceans, the Lord is mightier!

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable! (Psalms 145:3)


Saturday, June 20, 2009

I want to be a plumeria tree

Here in Hawaii these trees are everywhere - and I literally mean everywhere! Each tree is filled with these aromatic flowers, even the newest of trees only several feet high have just a few leaves but a lot of flowers. The flowers themselves are beautiful and they have a wonderful delicate scent but there's another reason I want to be like a plumeria tree.

Around the base of every plumeria, you will find flowers fallen off it's branches. These are not dead withered up flowers but beautiful whole blossoms. It's a simple thing, wherever you go, to find a perfect one lying in the grass to put behind your ear for both that tropical look and an occasional sweet perfumed whiff as you move your head.

The Bible says that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34,35) and that out of the good treasure of the heart good things come forth.

I want my heart to be like a plumeria tree - full of good treasure and beautiful things. To "fix (my)your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4:8)
If my heart is filled with such thoughts the words that fall from my lips onto the ears of others will be beautiful and fragrant.
"May the words of my mouth and the mediatation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord, my strength and my redeemer" Psalms 19:14

Friday, June 19, 2009

Displaced

Since I'm traveling I keep incurring this feeling of being displaced.
Each time, luckily, it's been very short as in the time between the flight arriving and check in at the hotel but it's such a disconcerting feeling to be there, with all your baggage, and have no place to call home; which makes finally holding a hotel key card in my hand even more precious because now I have a place (even if it's only till 10 the next morning...)
Scripture refers to as "strangers and pilgrims" (1 Peter 2:11, Hebrews 11:13) which makes us a displaced people if you would because this world is not our home.
I forget that.
I get comfortable here on this earth and in this culture that acts as if there is no God when I know there is and I know Him as Father.
I am not at my intended destination.
I am not meant to feel at home here for I am still on my way. And someday I will be to where there is a place for me at the table and my Father waits for me with open arms and once and for all I will lay all my burdens down and then I will be home.
Steven Curtis Chapman has captured this idea in his fantastic song, Not Home Yet
To all the travelers
Pilgrims longing for a home
From one who walks with you
On this journey called life's road
It is a long and winding road
From one who's seen the view
And dreamt of staying on the mountains high
And one who's cried like you
Wanting so much just to lay down and die
I offer this, we must remember this
We are not home yet
We are not home yet
Keep on looking ahead
Let your heart not forget
We are not home yet
Not home yet
So close your eyes with me
And hear the Father saying, "Welcome home"
Let us find the strength
In all His promises to carry on
He said, "I go prepare a place for you"
So let us not forget
We are not home yet
We are not home yet
Keep on looking ahead
Let your heart not forget
We are not home yet
We are not home yet
Keep on looking ahead
Let your heart not forget
We are not home yet
I know there'll be a moment
I know there'll be a place
Where we will see our Saviour
And fall in His embrace
So let us not grow weary
Or too content to stay
'Cause we are not home yet
We are not home yet
Not home yet
So let us journey on
We are not home yet
We are not home yet
Keep on looking ahead
Let your heart not forget
We are not home yet
Not home yet

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Forever marked by this...

Sixty-five years ago there were men who fought in Word War II, many of them among the troops that stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
They are all old men now - well into their 80's - yet a beautiful story (click to see it) was told of one group in the June 1oth edition of the Daily Herald. You'll want to read this story for yourself and it's gotten me to thinking...

Whatever lives these men have lived for the last sixty-five years, they are forever marked by what they did when they were 18 - 20 years old. If they've lived lives of fame or infamy, all we see are those actions from a lifetime ago, when they were, especially in today's culture, just kids.

What marks us?
It's fascinating to reconnect with people through Facebook because it covers such a broad span of relationships - from childhood friends, to high school classmates, college buddies, old boyfriends/girlfriends, co-workers, relatives and all the way to current friends and colleagues. Most of my getting reacquainted conversations start with what I most remember about that person or the time period/events in which we knew each other. For most of my "friends" on Facebook they are still to me marked by who they were when I knew them then, no matter what they're doing now. There have been memories brought up of things I'd totally forgotten about revealing how I too am marked by who I was then and with them.

I was reading this morning in Philippians 3:12 where Paul is saying that "I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me" (NIV).

I think these two thoughts are connected. There is a reason Christ has taken hold of me; put me on this planet, calling me to be His own. There is a purpose to fulfill. There is something to accomplish for Him, and to be marked by for the entirety of my life. I know that part of that is to know Him because there are countless injunctions in the Bible to "seek me" but what is the rest of it?

I think of Bible characters - if I were to say David, what would you say? How about Joshua? Esther? Moses? Mary and Martha? Peter? Lydia? I'm guessing that we'd all have similar answers for there is one outstanding thing or event that we remember about their lives.

Back to the beaches of Normandy.

Did these boys have any idea that this would be the battle that would turn the tide of the war? That sixty-five years later they would stand at a ceremony in Wheaton honoring them and their fallen comrades? I'm going to guess "no". They were simply doing what they were supposed to do that day, following orders, not knowing they would be forever marked by that days actions.

Who is not to say that what we are doing today may be the thing that forever marks our lives? That today's opportunities are not what Christ has taken hold of us for...?


What do you think?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Awards

I've just endured...(um, scratch that) come, yes, I've just come from a two hour school awards program.
I really dislike awards programs.
It seems to me that there are a small percentage of the kids who get 90% of the awards and the remaining awards are scattered throughout the rest of the student population. Doesn't it?

I had two children in today's awards program and one had a chest full of medals that clinked every time he walked up to get yet another award and then there was the other one who had her soccer pin and a lone trophy, which was quite reflective of her mother's experience in elementary school...maybe that's why I'm not so fond of these programs...?

I don't think I'm competitive enough for the awards game. A shiny trophy or the possibility of being "the best" does not motivate me to do whatever is necessary to be THE winner. These Olympic athletes that are at the pool, or rink at 4am every day, they just amaze me- and the parents that get them there, they're even more amazing! I just don't think there's anything I value enough to be that committed to it. No trophy, or record, or fame, or laurel wreath could possibly be worth enough for me to live my life so singly focused.

But there is one thing that can motivate me; Ms. non-athlete, non-competitive, give me a comfy chair over a run any day. There is one thing that makes me put on my running shoes every day and that is grateful love.

It's what the Bible says -
I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me--the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return. (2 Timothy 4:7,8 NLT)

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24 ESV)

No, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. (Philippians 3:13,14 NLT)

We love Him because He first loved us (I John 4:10 KJV)

God loves me. He lavishes me with His love every day. (Lamentations 3:23) He pours out blessings and grace for my every need. He never leaves me. He's promised to lead me all of my life until one day He leads me home into His presence.

I am not by any means a runner, I can't even power walk but this one thing I know; with every non-athletic bone in my body, this is the race I must finish, this is the one award I am striving for: to complete the ministry that God has given to me and to be found faithful to the end of my life.

When we gather in heaven for that awards ceremony I want Him to call my name.
I want to hear Him say that I finished the race, I stayed my course and that I couldn't wait for Him to come again.

I want that crown!
I want to hold that in my hands.
My motivation is not the shiny trophy, because that wouldn't be enough.
I run the race (Hebrews 12:1) as well or as haltingly as I do each day so that someday I'll have that crown to lay at the feet of Jesus.

Monday, June 8, 2009

God is...

everywhere.
The big word is omnipresent - all present, everywhere, at the exact same time. I wish I could do that. I find that God is everywhere greatly comforting when I pray. That while I cannot be in the OR waiting room with a friend, God is. While I cannot be with my kids who are sleeping away from home tonight, God is. For all the situations where I wish my physical presence could be to be a comfort, God is there.

And God is all powerful - omnipotent. So even if I could be in the hospital, at camp, physically present in the situation; it doesn't mean I have the ability to do what is needed there, but God does.

God knows it all - He is omniscient -even if I could be present and have the ability, I don't know what the best thing is to do. God does. He knows our hearts. He knows the plans He has for us. He knows what to do.

God never changes - He is immutable. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. All the promises He made to his children as recorded in the Bible are there for me. When He's promised to meet all my needs it will always be true, and not only my needs but yours as well.

And all these things - these attributes of God - are available to me when I pray.
If I cannot be with you in the situation I pray that God will be and because He is everywhere, powerful, wise and unchanging - what more could we possibly ask for each other?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I shouldn't have made those cookies...

"Do you know the problem with a clean kitchen?"

"Um, no ..." I replied. I couldn't imagine how it could be a problem having a clean kitchen.

My girlfriend on the phone continued, "Well, it’s because the kitchen’s so clean it makes me want to bake, and so I've already made two batches of cookies."

"And the problem with that would be ...?" I queried.

"All those cookies are not going to help me lose any weight!"

Ah, that perennial striving, to lose just "ten more pounds"! And though I share her dilemma, I told her I'd be happy to come over and enjoy the cookies with her! For my friend, what had seemed like a great thing at the time now led to a few unexpected ramifications once the flour had been cleared off the counter.

Regrets: Some are pretty harmless, like a few extra calories, but others could have eternal implications. And this week I found myself facing that very problem.

There's a new young teacher at the school this year and … let's just say her lack of experience is often evident. At the beginning of the year my son, who lacks organizational skills, was consistently not turning in his assignments. Her response was to say that maybe he really shouldn't be in this school (a regional gifted center). In that he's gone on to represent the entire region in a city-wide math competition, I had good reason to disagree with her assessment, but I didn't say anything to her. But this week when we were corresponding about my daughter and her organizational issues, she made another insinuation. This time those words made the mama bear in me come to life, and my fingers were fast and furious over the keyboard in a response to her email.

But then I remembered the words I'd read that morning, "And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus" (Col. 3:17 NLT). My fingers stopped, and I read back over what I'd typed. Okay, it wasn't very nice.

I rationalized, "It doesn't matter. She doesn't know I'm a Christian." But then in my heart I heard the question, "Does that make a difference?"

Holding down the backspace button, I watched as, a letter at a time, my lines of text disappeared, and with fresh white space I started my response again, as a representative of the Lord Jesus.

I remember the first time I expected that of someone, to act like a representative of Christ. I was a young teen with my first job at the Pembine Drive Inn—northern Wisconsin's version of fast food. A priest came in. Being raised Protestant, I hadn't seen many men in collars, but instantly I expected him to act differently from others. His clothing proclaimed loud and clear that he was connected to God as clergy. What if the same were true of us? What if we, who claim to be followers of Christ, wore something that made our faith public? Would we change the way we act? Or react?

I hope we would say "yes" … and, then again, I hope we would say "no" …

I would hope that we answer “yes” because we have the desire to live in such a way as to bring honor to God, and yet I'd also like to hope that we are already living our lives in a way that positively represents the Lord, because it's not just a good idea—it's what God has asked of us:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)

No matter who you are, what you do, what you look like, what your situation is, or who you come in contact with, you are a representative of the Lord Jesus. As someone has said, "You may be the only Bible that some people ever read."

May the things we say and do accurately reflect His heart and may we practice all throughout the week these words we sing in church on Sunday:

"It's all about You, Jesus. And all this is for You, for Your glory and Your fame.
It's not about me, as if You should do things my way.
You alone are God and I surrender to Your ways."