Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Wave

By the time I get to worship this morning, half the world will have already lifted their hearts to God...

I realized this as I woke at 5 a.m thinking of a friend who, in Eastern standard time, was already leading his church in worship. In another hour my home church, in Central standard time, would be coming before the throne with praise.  I, being in Hawaiian-Aleutian time, would not be joining the celebration for another five hours but when the time came I'd be there with lifted heart and hands.

It's not unlike "the wave" popular at any large event.  Someone begins by standing up and raising their hands over their head and then they bring down their hands and sit back down and the one next to them repeats the motion until it's moved throughout the entire crowd. It's silly but it's a lot of fun and, to see that many people participating to make something bigger than themselves, it's pretty great.

 "From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!" Psalms 113:3

On ths Sunday may we, both over multiple time zones, and throughout the entirety of the day, be part of  a global wave to God because He is worthy

and we are so grateful...




Monday, August 6, 2012

Crossing the Finish Line

As I was out running  jogging shuffling along the other day I was thinking about endurance training and faith and wondering if there was a correlation.

As one trains they build muscle and endurance - I should know as I was into the second week of a running program (well, technically I was repeating week one for the second time as I still couldn't make the measly goals of the first week ...!) 
I could tell I was stronger (i.e. I rivaled my dog in panting ability now after 8 minutes and not just 3) so the idea made sense to me.

 If I have stepped out in faith and trusted God before it would seem that it would be easier the next time. After all God is faithful and unchanging; the more I rely on Him the more I realize that He is worthy of  my trust and that confidence in Him is well placed.

So, if one had lived a life of faith, of consistently relying on God through all the small things and the daily battles: when the big tests would come, the marathon of faith so to speak, would one be more able to see this as from the hand of a good and gracious God?
Would a lifetime of trusting God give one the ability to endure through a life ending diagnosis, loss of physical and mental ability, or the death of a loved one?
If you have always followed hard after God would that enable you to continue to do so?

I wasn't sure but it did make sense and I'd planned to post that concept for discussion once I got back to the house.

And then, something happened. I  felt pulling in my foot, some strain, but instead of going away, it gave way and now I was pulling off my shoes on the side of the road and wondering how I was going to get home.

I was injured and suddenly it didn't matter what my endurance level was. My foot was no longer weight bearing; something had been torn or stretched to the point of pain, but there was still a half mile of road between me and home. My destination hadn't changed, but my speed surely had.

And so I limped along, knowing I was barely making forward progress and through my earphones I heard this song by Chris Tomlin begin:

Be still, there is a healer
His love is deeper than the sea
His mercy, it is unfailing
His arms are a fortress for the weak
Let faith arise
I lift my hands to believe again
You are my refuge, You are my strength
As I pour out my heart, these things I remember
You are faithful, God, forever
Be still, there is a river
A fountain for the thirsty
Pure grace that washes over me
So let faith arise
Let faith arise
Open my eyes
Open my eyes
You are my refuge, You are my strength
As I pour out my heart, these things I remember
You are faithful, God
You are faithful, God, forever.

I'd heard the story behind the song.how Louie Giglio was going through a really dark place in his life.  Louie Giglio - the man who had  preached to thousands and spent his whole life passionately following hard after God, was suddenly in such weakness of faith that all he could do was raise his hands up to the Lord and say "help me". 

And my question was answered.

If made it home at a sprint; strong in faith and running into the arms of my Savior or if I limped, faith damaged and barely intact, into His presence it didn't matter. 
But if allI could do was look to Him moment by moment for strength for that next small step (Hebrews 12:1-2) and running the race meant no more than a hobble with my eyes on Him, He would still make sure I'd make it home.

Are you strong in faith? Do trials come and you confidently respond to the circumstances with the promises of God? Keep going. Keep running hard after Him. Let your light shine to a watching world.

Are you hanging on day to day and some days moment to moment? Has your confidence in God's goodness and plan been stretched and stretched until something in your heart has torn? Hold on. Keep moving towards Him; however slowly is seems you are moving. He is a faithful God and He helps those whose trust is in Him.  You too will make it across that finish line.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Lessons from Abby

Three months ago a furry four legged sweetheart came into our lives - her name is Abby and I find she is a constant example of how I should be responding to God.

We walk every morning and she's right by my side.
When I stop, she stops.
When I run, she runs.
Where I go, she's with me.
This is a familiar, simple truth, recently put to music by Chris Tomlin, and recorded in John 10:4 When he has brought out all his own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow him because they know His voice.(NIV)


She comes to me when she needs to eat, or go out, or is looking for affection, and she sits and waits expectantly - confident that I will take care of her.

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)


She knows I will take care of all her needs.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:19 (ESV)
 
Abby enjoys being with me, knows I'll  take care of her, comes when I call, and follows wherever I lead - oh that my response to God would be the same!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Salvation we still need...


I blame John Bunayn; after all it was he in his classic book Pilgrim’s Progress, that painted the compelling picture of Christian coming to the cross and his heavy burden of sin rolling away. Christian then sets out on his journey to the Celestial City – burden, cross, salvation – done, far behind as now he treks the narrow way through life to Heaven.

We’re in the Easter season and focusing on the Cross of Christ – His great sacrifice and love for us – we remember and we are grateful but I’ve realized the word “salvation” is not just for that initial meeting with the Savior.

Once saved, we are always saved from the everlasting punishment our sins have earned us. Christ’s blood has paid that price. We are His forever and will one day join Him in heaven.  But the Bible speaks of God being our repeated salvation:

“The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him.” Psalms 37:39,40

The One who delivered us from an eternal hell stands ready to continue to deliver us from the personal hells we encounter in life.
 He is our strength in times of trouble. 
Our deliverance.
Our salvation because we trust in Him.
The Cross, O pilgrim, is not only the doorway through which we entered our walk with the Lord, but stands still as a symbol that He always stands ready to deliver us.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

While Life is Not a Snapshot...

http://www.cartoonaday.com
Today provides us an excellent and unique opportunity to stop, and take a snapshot of our lives.

 Leap Day - as you know we get this "extra" day once every four years.  Where were you four years ago?
 Who were you on that date?
Who are you now?
 Who do you hope to be on February 29,2016??

While, personally, adding four years to my age is a sobering thing (!) the real question is what else will I have added to my life beyond an accumulation of days?

 And, if I know what I would like to add, how do I go about doing that?
 Maria Edgeworth offers an answer "If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves".
Andy Stanley also tackles this question in his book, The Principle of the Path: How to get from where you are to where you want to be saying that our direction and not our intention determines our destination.

Where do I want to be? How do I get there? By taking care of the moments, for they are all that we truly have.  We have no promise of tomorrow- a truth that has been slammed home for each of us by the loss of those we've loved.  We don't know which will be the last good-bye - or the last hello.

If on this day - February 29th - the only moment I have is right now - I must chose to spend it wisely.

It's the Seasons of Love song from  Rent of having 525, 600 minutes a year.
or - to make it more accessible a thought...

The realization that you have an account into which 1440 minutes are placed a day. They cannot be saved, loaned, borrowed or bartered; they must be spent. How will you invest them? On what will you spend the moments God's given you on this leap year day?

Where is the wisest investment of your time? There are only two things that last forever; the Word of God and people. What does this say about what we should be doing with our moments?

May your moments this day, my dear friends, bring your great returns!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Anticipation

It has been said that anticipation is half the fun and I believe it!


When you know that something is coming up that is great, all the days leading up to it are bathed in that light. They become better because there is the anticipation of something wonderful ahead.


 I’m getting ready to go away with a couple girlfriends for a few days and although my to-do lists are full of things to get ready for my family while I’m away; my thoughts are full of the fun we’re going to have on our trip.


Body and labor here,  but a mind with an eye to the future. 


 Josh Bates said it well in his song King Of Glory: “Imagine a day when our faith is replaced with a glorious sight; of angels in chorus as You stand before us in perfect light. We will join in the anthem of praise, with every breath we will say, “King of Glory you are worthy. Take my hands, take my feet, take my voice as I sing  Lord of Heaven, Hallelujah!” 


Imagine a day when our faith is replaced by sight. Imagine when the truth of I Peter 1:8 is finally fulfilled- You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 


We are still here, yet may the anticipation of that day bring joy to our journey!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Transformation

The six inch snowfall we received over the past 24 hours has made it the topic of conversation; especially since we had been experiencing an unseasonably warm January with temps in the 50's!

That's all been transformed in just a few short hours - every tree branch is outlined in pristine white, every bush supports clumps of snow at the junctures of their evergreen boughs.  It's beautiful. It's also cold and treacherous, but the environment has changed, and surprisingly this was really apparent last night when I turned off the lights.

We love night lights here; a single light pushing back the deep darkness of winter nights- they're so comforting and hopeful! But last night when the lights went off the darkness wasn't so dark. A solitary beam of hope wasn't as necessary because the whole environment was now clothed in white and the darkness had been lightened.

Yes, it was still night.  Still winter. Still cold but it wasn't so dark: it was no longer that deep palatable darkness it had been.

Darkness in our lives is inevitable.  There will be some tragedy, or disease, or disappointment that will throw everything into deep night.  Scripture says the rain falls on the just and unjust alike - it's the age old question of "why do bad things happen to good people?"  They just do. Loving God does not make us exempt from suffering.

But, from last night's evidence, I've realized there is a difference.  Our night, our hardship, might be as dark as another's but the love and grace that God spreads out in our hearts, lighten this darkness.
Just as the snow cover reflected light so does our awareness that we do not walk through the dark nights alone.  He not only goes with us (Ps. 23) but covers us with His love.  We have hope and light; no matter how intensely the darkness tries to push into our souls.

While we would wish for a lack of hardship; or for God to transform our circumstances so that all is well we have no guarantee that will be how He works but we can be confident that if we seek Him, we will find Him and he'll transform our hearts.
 Sometimes He calms the storm but He will always calm his child.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When the time comes...

It is January 10th, in Chicago, and 54 degrees!!!

Every kid who got a new bike for Christmas is cruisin' the sidewalks!!

I can imagine that a bike under the tree Christmas morning (depending on your latitude) would be both welcome and frustrating; frustrating because of the possible very L O N G   wait until Spring to test out the new wheels. It's tough having a gift and  not being able to use it!

Today Max Lucado was talking about the gifts God has given to us...
You’re Pre-Packed
There are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. I Corinthians 12:6
You were born pre-packed! God looked at your entire life, determined your assignment, and gave you the tools to do the job!
You do something very similar before you travel. You consider the demands of the journey and pack accordingly.
Cold weather? Bring a jacket. Business meeting? Carry the laptop.
Time with grandchildren? Better take some sneakers and pain medication!
God did the same with you. Joe will do research—install curiosity! Megan will lead a private school—an extra dose of management.
I need Eric to comfort the sick—include a healthy share of compassion. Denalyn will marry Max!—instill a double portion of patience.
Exodus 35:35 says: God has filled them with skill!
God packed you on purpose for a purpose!  


Andy Wood, on his blog, LifeVesting, said today "A thousand opportunities dance before those whose eyes are open to see them.  Ten thousand chances pass by those too lost in fear or consuming to notice them."

May our eyes be open to the opportunities God is putting before us to use those gifts He's pre-packed us with!




Monday, January 2, 2012

Let's get FAT in 2012


It's that time of year again.
The stroke of midnight now signifies a new year.

So it's time for New Year's ____?_____.

Yep, resolutions.

I, like you, have gone through the cycle of New Year's resolutions from making them with great idealism, to realizing their futility and inevitable failure, to merely thinking about things I'd like to change but not calling them resolutions, to, well, to not even bothering...

But this year I am making one resolution.

I want to eat rich foods and I want to eat until I am satisfied.
I want to do all that I can to get fat.

No stringy celery, dry rice cakes, and small plates of entrees for me.
Bring on the richest, sweetest, most tender foods and bring it in on platters!

I want things that melt in my mouth because they are so full of fat themselves- smooth like chocolate, buttery like pastries, and tender like marbleized beef. I do not want to walk around constantly hungry.

I even found a verse that describes what I want perfectly!
Isaiah 55:2 "Hearken diligently to me and eat that which is good and let your soul delight itself in fatness".

I want a fat soul.

No power-of-positive-thinking inspirational sayings for me. No bumper sticker theology, no religious rhetoric, not even warm fuzzy quotes with cute pictures or verse-a-day calenders will suffice.

Why would I be happy snacking on "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" when instead I have the invitation from God saying "Come and talk with me" (Psalms 27:8 ). I can commune about anything and everything at any time with Almighty God or I can try to motivate myself that today is a fresh start....
I think I'll respond "Lord, I am coming!" (Psalms 27:8)

I want to feast on the richness of God and of His Word, on His love and grace, His holiness and justice, His compassion and unfailing love. This is God, who is not some abstract idea, historical figure, or uncaring deity, but the One who seeks me and invites me to know Him.

I want to claim the verse in Jeremiah 31:14 where God says, "I will satiate the soul of the priest with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, says the Lord".

I want to say with the Psalmist, "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips". (Psalms 63:5)

This word fatness means richness, abundance and blessing.

Psalms 36:8 promises that "They shall be abundantly satisfied (filled up, to the brim, not wanting any more!) with the fatness (richness, blessing) of thy house (the place where God is) and you shall make them drink of the rivers of thy pleasure". Reminiscent isn't it of Psalms 23 where we're told that "He makes me lie down by still waters...he restores my soul." ?

So this is my resolution. To feast on the abundant richness of God, to listen to what He says, and to let my soul revel in it's increasing girth.

And if "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45), it might not be such a bad resolution for all of us!