Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Emerging

I heard an idea today that is changing my perceptions.

The topic was teens and the expectations their parents have or don’t have for them.

The concept was to not think about teens as adolescents, which has an empty feel to it, but to think of them as emerging adults.

Hmm…
Emerging – promising, up and coming, rising, building, growing, changing, not there yet but on the way…

What if we thought of ourselves as the same way?
God tells us that all the things that come into our life are to change us to be more like Christ. (Romans 8:28,29)

We are not yet what we will someday be.
So instead of thinking of ourselves as static and all that happens to us as “just because” what if we view ourselves also as emerging?

No parent would expect their child to become a functional responsible adult on their own. Our whole role is to help them become what they will be.

Why would we think things are any different with God?
He is our Father.
He is vested in our growth. He didn’t bring us into His family to leave us as infants.

God is growing us; helping us to emerge from the shell of our natural selves into a spiritual being that reflects the godly qualities of our Father.

We are emerging. We are not stagnant. We are not yet all we are meant to be.
What is in our lives is there intentionally.
What stretches us is for our own good and growth.

The struggle, to throw off our sinful nature our worry and doubt and fears, is deliberate.
So that when we emerge we can soar to Him on wings of faith.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Without God

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ...having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:12 ESV

What would it be to be without God?

What would a day look like, feel like, be like, without God?
A day without His Word, or prayer, or an awareness of His presence?

I feared it would be too hard.
I feared more it would be too easy…

Yes, there is God, good for eternal security and panicked emergencies; available for adoration and historical and literary references.

But how do I, as one who believes, walk through my ordinary days with or without God?
How does He impact a typical 24 hours?

I went into a day mindful of this idea – aware of what in me reached for Him throughout a regular day – what would change if I was without God.

There’d be no reason to be sitting and reading in this leather bound book, or penning these words.
No ongoing conversation through the day.
A different radio station drawing my mind to love and loss instead of praise and worship.
Focus on the immediate, the temporary, and all of it being about me and mine, regardless…
No reservoir of strength, no refuge from trouble.
Realizing that all that occurs is merely random and purposeless.
No one to thank for the food before me or talk to when worry has waken me in the middle of the night.

A day without God.

How would your next 24 hours look if that were the case?

The Scripture says that to be without God is to be without hope.

But then the Ephesians 2 passage continues, thank God, it continues!
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13 ESV

We have been brought near.
God brought us to Himself.
God, said, you don’t have to live without me.
We are never without God or without hope.

You - with God.
How does that impact your life today?

Friday, January 14, 2011

What do you know?

I've been thinking about what I know.
Not in the "The sun is 93 million miles from the sun" type of knowledge but what do I know.
What do I believe?
What do I hold onto that gets me through the week?
What influences how I think, act, and live?

So, because this is how I process, I starting making a list.
I'd like to suggest that you do the same.
Because as I started to write down what I know I was reminded about what I already know, you know?

Jesus loves me
No matter what

I am never alone
Never on my own

There is plan for my life
If I understand it or not

Nothing happens to me randomly
God is working all things together for the purpose He has in mind

I'm not going to give you my whole list as it's still evolving but I will tell you that it is amazingly encouraging to know what you know!

Seriously, try it.
Write down six things that you know
Really know, down in the deepest part of who you are

I promise, you'll be encouraged and will say with me "How great is our God and how much we should praise Him!" Psalms 48:1 NLT

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Final Amen

Are you familiar with the Messiah oratorio?

For many years I was part of a community choir that started practicing in October for two performances during the Christmas season. I've also been so lucky to be a part of the Do-It-Yourself Messiah at Orchestra Hall in downtown Chicago - now that is an experience not for the faint of heart especially when you're a soprano sitting in the bass section!!

The Messiah begins with a lament of comfort for the people who are longing for the Messiah, it continues on a journey of proclamation of the coming Christ, through his suffering to the end of time when the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised and all will sing worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive honor, and power, and wisdom, and strength until the whole thing comes to a spectacular ending of just one word repeated over and over, ebbing and swelling throughout all the parts until there is a big pause and the final utterance of this word - AMEN.

No matter what we're facing - what the troubles of today or dreams of tomorrow. No matter how evil seems to be winning throughout time or across the globe there will come a day when there is only one word - a word of finality - a word of victory - a time when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that JESUS IS LORD no matter how the name of God comes from their mouth now.

There will be a final Amen and at that time there will be only one victor - one standing tall as the rest of creation is bowed in worship. The outcome is not in question - victory is assured - the plans God put in place at the beginning of the world will  finally come to their conclusion and God will reign victorious over all!

AMEN.

Illustrations taken from Messiah by Timothy Botts Tyndale House Publishing 1991


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

According to His riches...

I went to Starbucks the other day with a gift card and a list of drink requests. I walked out with the drinks but not much left on that card. I had some resources but now, not so much...

"My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" Philippians 4:19 ESV


According to His riches - how different His riches are than ours!

It's my gift card compared to the power of Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks).
While I can buy a few lattes. Howard could give coffee to thousands.

I don't have to supply my own needs, or the needs of those around me by my own resources.
It is God who is beyond comprehension who has supplies beyond our imagination that will supply what we need.
It is the New Testament counterpoint to the beloved Psalms 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" or according to the New Living Translation - "The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need."

The most amazing thing is that our needs don't deplete His riches.
The grace He gives morning by morning (Lamentations 3:23) will not suddenly one day run out  because we called on Him too often.
This is  u n e n d i n g.
Riches beyond imagination.
Wealth that makes Bill Gates look destitute.

Remember this "We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us... "Ephesians 1:7,8 ESV
God lavished us with His grace when He called us to Himself. He's already poured out riches upon us so what is His response now when, as His children, we come with needs?

"Ask and it shall be given to you.
Seek and you shall find.
Knock and the door will be opened unto you." Matthew 7:7 NIV

What do you need today? Grace? Mercy? Focus? Love for the unlovely? Diligence? Understanding? Forgiveness? Peace? Hope? Joy? Patience?

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Psalms 5:3 NIV

because...

"My God will supply your need according to His riches..."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An invitation from a master...

Think about someone you highly respect in a particular field.

What would your response be if this person chose you to be their apprentice? Asked you to train with them? Work with them? Offered to help you with your stuff pertaining to what they do?

For me it'd be like Robin Jones Gunn helping me on my fiction, Max Lucado imparting to me how he writes about God, and Ann Voskamp and Holley Gerth guiding me through their ways of reflecting on a topic.  It'd be like training to sing with Tom McNichols, or to teach with Dr. Dennis Wilhite or learning to express Scripture in letter forms with Timothy Botts.

Would I finger such an invitation and say "well... let me see if I really have time for this..."?
Are you crazy? I'd be on the next plane to Maui, or Texas or wherever I needed to be!

If one I consider a master invited me to study with them, there would  be no hesitation on my part.
Would you hesitate?
Of course not!

I found such an invitation this morning,

"You are my witnesses," declares the Lord,"and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he." Isaiah 43:10 ESV

I've been chosen, by God, to come and know Him.
He invites me to come and be with Him.
Me with Him.
Invited to hear His heart, to study at His side, to sit at His feet and to experience all the ways that "I am".

He's invited you too.
A personal invitation from the master.
"Come, you, yes you the one in the back - I pick you - come and hang out with me, get to know me. I'll tell you everything you need to know because I am everything you'll ever need."

What are we waiting for?

Monday, January 10, 2011

I need a hero!

Every now and again my pen wanders into the area of Chick Lit and the results are always sophomoric and clich├ęd.

Boy, Girl, Drama, Happily Ever After.
It is just fiction after all...!!

I find all my heroes are the same. While some may write them as smart or handsome or rich; my heroes are strong. They have broad chests and strong arms and ride white horses into troubling conditions. I want a capable hero. A powerful hero. I want one who, no doubt about it, is going to come out on top in any fight.

Kind of like some of the lyrics from Bonnie Tyler's song "I need a hero"
"I need a hero
He's gotta be strong
He's gotta be sure
And he's gotta be larger than life."

And this concept has be the inspiration for millions of manuscripts for books, movies, and TV dramas.
I was surprised one morning while reading in Psalms to find this very idea...

Use your strong right arm to save us, and rescue your beloved people. Psalms 60:5

Hmm, God has strong arms - arms strong enough to save and to rescue... (seems a bit heretical to be thinking this way doesn't it? But the concept had me intrigued so I started seeing what else I could find...)

Powerful is your arm! Strong is your hand! Your right hand is lifted high in glorious strength.(like a fist pump?) Psalms 89:13

The strong right arm of the LORD is raised in triumph. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things! Psalm 118:16

He acted with a strong hand and powerful arm. His faithful love endures forever. Psalms 136:12

A ha! Not only does God have a strong powerful capable right arm able to keep me from or rescue me from any danger, and that will be victorious in any fight but, along with His protection, comes His love; a steadfast, faithful love f o r e v e r.

Forget Chick Lit, and movies, and books.

I have One who has, of His own choosing, committed Himself to a relationship with me.
He came riding in on the white horse of grace and mercy.
I brought nothing to the situation but my own wretchedness and need.

He is the One who said "You are mine" and "Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand" Isaiah 43:1, 41: 10 NLT
He has made me these promises! To defend me, protect me, be a shelter for me, a fortress, a refuge, my constant companion and guide; to first go before me to clear away the enemies and then walk with me along the way.

What more could I ask for?
I already have a hero.
And He's always by my side!
Come what may I walk with God who has powerful arms and is always victorious.
There's never a reason for this damsel to be in distress...!