Friday, December 31, 2010

Hope for the world...

I'm not sure why I woke up with this song running through me, but I did. Especially the words: "Hope...when life is hard. Light...when everything seems dark."

Hope. It's such a powerful thing, for it fights despair.

But now abide these three: faith, hope, and love. What is it about these three things that made Paul choose them? Why not list joy and peace?

I don't know...but I do think that these three are, perhaps, what the world needs most to see and feel.

Faith that is that is knowing and relying on God and that is the product of revelation so deep that doubt is powerless.

Hope shining in a world that has none and that is being overtaken more and more every day by despair.

Love from the One who is love, for a world that has created its own definition of the word...a world where hatred and selfishness reign in everything from governments to families to shown in a way that breaks down barriers and misconceptions and reveals the Father to the world He sent His Son to save.

The lyrics to this song can be taken to mean the politically correct themes of world peace, etc. But my prayer--my meaning when I sing it--is that the hope that Jesus offers would shine forth in 2011 like never quiet ways as tens of thousands of people around the world simply love those around them and walk out their faith...that those tens of thousands would be strengthened by the joy of the Lord and nothing else...that even as wars amidst governments and political realms increase, peace would reign in more hearts than ever before...that as the world gets darker and darker, the Light of the World will shine through all of us with greater and greater clarity...that the millions of hungry souls out there, whether rich or poor, would discover the relationship with God that alone can meet their deepest hunger.

Except my Christmas prayer isn't just something I'm hoping for. It's something I'm looking forward to seeing and being a part of, for God has promised that all this will come in His perfect timing. I don't know how much of it we'll see this coming year, but it's coming nonetheless.

I pray the world...
Peace...for every boy and girl.
Hope...when life is hard
Light...when everything seems dark.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Waiting on the Awakener...

I woke up with this song going through me. I don't know if it's because the rush of Christmas is over, or because it's just God's timing, or what...but I feel my spirit waking up. At least, that's what it feels like. And perhaps that's what He is continually doing...waking us up more and more and more to the truths and reality that the devil works so hard to keep us in ignorance of. Yet His timing and His ways are perfect, and He has no difficulty breaking through every lie and deception and attack of the devil.

This might hurt
It’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care
If I break
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just ok
Is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions

No regrets
Not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love
Make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something

Take me all the way

Deeper and ever deeper...always moving onwards, to know Him and the fellowship of His be changed from glory to learn to walk in His ways.


I was given this wonderful little book this Christmas from one of my closest friends. It's called Waiting on God, and in it, Andrew Murray offers 31 short studies on waiting on God.

This book is such a blessing to me right now. It's confirming and gathering together little things that God has shown me over the course of this last year, cementing them inside of me and encouraging me to continue to wait.

I wrote two weeks ago:
I wonder if times like these are when God is testing how much I really want Him? Will I continue to seek Him when He allows weeks to go by without "wow" moments? Will I worship Him both when I can feel and sense the walls falling, and when I sense nothing whatsoever? Will I continue to choose Him and do my best to obey, even when my best is far from perfect, my knowledge of His will is faulty and hesitant, and I receive no confirmation that I'm on the right track? Will I...can that He is indeed leading and guiding me even then? Even now?
Every time I prayed and sought God about the quiet nothingness that I felt I was in, I felt only one thing...that He wanted me to trust Him with my relationship with Him. Maybe that seems elemental to you, but for me, I realized that I somehow fell into thinking that my relationship with Him is my responsibility. That He was always up there waiting on me to pray, to listen, to obey, to do this, to do that.

I know that all that is true, in one sense, for He said that when we seek Him with all our hearts, He would be found by us. That is most definitely Him, waiting on us, for He will not force Himself upon us.

And yet...I went too far in the other direction. I found myself thinking that, if I wasn't finding more of Him at the pace I did once, or at the pace I thought He wanted to reveal Himself to me, it was my fault because I wasn't seeking Him furiously enough.

You see how the devil was using my desires and my perceptions of what God wanted to condemn me?

This little book is confirming that I am hearing God in this season...and He is simply asking me to wait and trust Him with my walk with Him. I am doing as He asked. I am seeking Him. I am surrendering and obeying to the best of my ability, according to the grace that He gives me. Beyond that, I must rest, trust, and wait. He does not move on my timetable. He said that I would find Him, but He gave no schedule that outlines the pace and unfolding of those revelations. He wants me to trust Him with those, and be willing to wait as long as He chooses for the next revelation.

Why? Because there is a blessedness and a new level of surrender in waiting. There is, I think, a deeper lesson that I need to learn in this, which will be vital in the plans He has for my future.

The section I read this morning begins with these verses:
Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.
-Ps. 25:4-5
Those verses are underlined in my Bible, and they have two dates written beside them...two dates in my journal that record things God spoke to me. How wonderful it is to be able to write a third date beside them!

I'd like to share this precious little book with all of you, as well. If you'd like to read it, you can, of course, see if your local Christian bookstore has it, but here are three other ways:

1) If you don't mind reading an ebook version of it, I can lend you my nook copy for 14 days, for free. Just click that "Send me an email" link on the left and let me know.
(My wonderful husband got me a nook for Christmas, but you don't have to have one to borrow my copy. You can download the free reader to your PC, iPhone, iPad, or Android phone. This is the only way I know of to lend you the book for free.)

2) You can purchase your own ebook version for $.99 in either kindle format (which can also be read on your PC if you download the free application) or nookbook format.
(I can't find it in epub format, but if someone else does, please let me know.)

3) If your local store doesn't have it, here's the link to buy it from Amazon or from Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

'Tis the trust...

'Tis the Season to...

Celebrate Christmas?
Be with family?
Enjoy the snow?
Be busy?

I'm afraid that last one has got me this year. I don't feel frazzled, which is really nice...but I feel like the days are passing me by. I do one thing, and another, and I'm not enjoying the season like I usually do. Usually by now I'm big into Christmas decorating and Christmas music, and I'm in the Christmas mood, and I'm either loving the tree or can't wait to get it up. Instead, I haven't decorated anything yet. I don't mind the Christmas music when I hear it, but I'd rather have sweet silence. The tree is up but not decorated.

I'm not depressed and not enjoying it...I just...


That's really the only way I can describe how I feel about it. With a shrug. Truthfully, it seems like it was just Christmas a few months ago, and Christmas should still be a month or two away.

It just doesn't seem to matter. At least, not as much as other things...such as the fact that I feel like I've gotten lost again. Again, again. And so (again) I am practicing walking based on the truth I know, rather than by what I feel.

I wonder if times like these are when God is testing how much I really want Him? Will I continue to seek Him when He allows weeks to go by without "wow" moments? Will I worship Him both when I can feel and sense the walls falling, and when I sense nothing whatsoever? Will I continue to choose Him and do my best to obey, even when my best is far from perfect, my knowledge of His will is faulty and hesitant, and I receive no confirmation that I'm on the right track? Will I...can that He is indeed leading and guiding me even then? Even now?

It's surprisingly hard, for it's that point where the devil's tempting me to give up on this or slip into complaisance... to think that I'm right back where I was a year ago or two years ago... to believe that everything that happened in-between now and then doesn't count and obviously wasn't real.

And yet...if that were true, then I wouldn't be unsatisfied with where I'm at.

You was slightly over a year ago that God ushered me into a new season or level in my spiritual life. I have never been able to recognize seasons the way some people do...knowing and see how things change as months go by. For me...I've only been able to recognize four very long seasons over my entire life.

There was my growing up in a Christian home years...then there was a very specific day in my teenage years when my walk with God passed to a level that was far more personal...the day I believe that my walk with God changed from being dependent in any degree upon my parents to becoming mine and mine alone.

That began my second season, and it lasted ten or twelve years until 2002...the day I share in the story, "My Ultimate Makeover." That began the third season or stage of my walk with God, and it lasted until November 2009.

Last year, God called me on even higher...and my walk with Him became even more intensely personal. I knew it that day, and I've seen it throughout the year. And boy was it amazing as I was flying those heights!

But now the path is leading through what feels like wastelands. Spiritual wastelands in the midst of a crazy-busy metropolis. I'm so thankful for everything He's shown me in the past, for it's allowing me to rest in Him as I certainly didn't the last time I went through wastelands.

But the wastelands have their own battles. Battles about who I am and what walking with God is really supposed to be like. As I write this, I'm coming to think that God is trying to teach me something very specific here. Something that is absolutely crucial for where He wants to take me in this season.

He is asking me to trust that He will finish what He began in me, and finish it perfectly. He didn't start a voyage last November, only to stop a little ways into it and dump me back on the shore. He's asking me to surrender my own ideas about what my walk with Him is supposed to look like going forward. I am learning to trust Him with the pace that He gives me revelations, with the frequency that He does (and doesn't) speak to me, with how often He does (and doesn't) use me...and even with my own abilities, skills, and faults.

It's all about His power, and the only reason I matter one bit is grace...grace so abundant that I am humbled and in awe of the love for me that gives me such grace.

I'm finding that Psalm 119 reflects my thoughts more than ever before. And I think again of King David and a story that, to me, carries tons of meaning, especially in times like this.

2 Samuel 15 tells the story of when Absalom was conspiring to throw David off the thrown. You could say that David had arrived. He'd been through the season of growing up. He'd been through the season of battles. He'd even been through years of ruling as the most powerful king in the area, with peace on all sides.

But now battles are arising from within, and he finds himself leaving the palace he built and everything God had given him and heading back to the wastelands of the wilderness.


In verse 14, the priests followed David out of Jerusalem, carrying the ark of God. Listen to what he said:
25The king said to Zadok, "Return the ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the sight of the LORD, then He will bring me back again and show me both it and His habitation. But if He should say thus, 'I have no delight in you,' behold, here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him."

That statement awes me and shows me amazing things about David. It shows me more about why God called him a man after His own heart.

He could have railed at God for allowing things to happen the way they were. He could have beat himself up and say that he deserved it for not dealing with the problems in his house earlier. He could have gone on and on about God's promises to him. He could have given up and walked away...or walked off to a witch like Saul did. He could have done all sorts of things.

But instead, he simply chose to remain in God's hands, and to trust Him completely. He showed that he truly understood what God would show Jeremiah years later...that He is the potter and we are the clay. He shows complete humility and surrender to God's divine way, no matter what it might be, and God's right to do as He sees fit and fulfill His promises in whatever manner seems right to Him.

This is the heart of David.

This is a heart that trusts and surrenders, no matter what.

This is the heart that I want to have...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A man after God's own heart...

I've had David on the mind lately--David the king, outlaw, poet, shepherd, warrior, murderer, seeker, and worshiper.

What is it, exactly, that made him "a man after God's own heart?" It couldn't have been his righteousness...anything he did, for we all know how often David screwed up.

I love the Psalms. It is, I think, the part of the Bible that I turn to more often than any other. I love Ephesians, but there are days when I can read it and get nothing new out of it. It's the same with Romans, and the Prophets, and even the Gospels which I've read and heard hundreds of times through my life. It's true of a lot of the Bible.

But the Psalms...they're different. For they aren't necessarily there so I can "get anything out of them." When I read, "Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary." ...those words aren't there to teach me anything (though they can anyway). They're there for me to speak out, to echo from my heart. As are those that are crying out to God for help.

Good and bad, struggle and victory, it's all there in the Psalms...and I think it's there, it all it's variety, to show us the inside of what it means to be a man after God's own heart.

What do we see of David's heart? What is it that God liked so much?

In writing out everything that I am seeing, I'm discovering that this is far too long for one I might end up doing a little series.

But today, for Thanksgiving, I'd like to focus on how David always found a way to praise and thank God.

Look at Psalm 69. When David wrote this, he obviously wasn't feeling so triumphant or victorious (v. 4). He feels worn out and exhausted (v. 3) and as if he's drowning (v. 2 & 15). He is fully conscious of his sin in the way we are when we've just screwed up and we know it (v. 5). He feels totally alone, for no one is offering him sympathy and comfort (v. 20). Have you ever felt that way?

So what is the response of a man after God's own heart? What does he choose to say and do? How does he respond to God when he feels this way?

Verse 16: "Answer me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; According to the greatness of Your compassion turn to me, And do not hide Your face from Your servant."

He relies on God's greatness and goodness. He doesn't doubt that it is there, even though he's going through all this stuff, and He knows that God's greatness and goodness is the only reason that He can call on God for help.

It's all about God.

And he therefore says, "I will praise the name of God with song, And magnify Him with thanksgiving. And it will please the Lord...Let heaven and earth praise Him..."

How about when David sins with Bathsheba? What is in his heart when he is finally convicted of His sin?

Psalm 51:
"Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions," and "Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise." For he knew that, "A broken and contrite spirit, O God, You will not despise." And therefore God would restore him and forgive him, and therefore God was worthy of praise and adoration.

How about when he's afraid?
Psalm 56
"When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise..."

I could list hundreds of verses.

But what I want to point out is that, for this man whose heart God didn't matter what his circumstances or what was going on. The Psalm may start with struggle, and pain, and anger, and defeat...but it always ends in praise.

David knew that God is enthroned upon our praises (Psalm 22), and that praising Him in every circumstance is surrendering every circumstance to Him, that He may use His power to work His will in it...and that His will was always good, therefore He is worthy to receive the praises that allow Him to work!

It's the most glorious circle that ever existed...and this man after God's own heart chose to initiate this unending circle, rather than the vicious circles of condemnation and defeat and powerlessness that are out alternative.

I'd like to challenge anyone who struggles with discouragement and depression and loneliness and emptiness. Take Psalms to your heart. When you feel that way and you can't find the words to praise God, open to the Psalms and flip through until you find one that echoes what you're feeling. Let the words of the Psalmist echo your heart, and allow your heart to follow through until it speaks words of praise.

As for me, today, "I will enter His presence with thanksgiving..." (Psalm 95)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dead men thriving...

I wrote this a week or two ago...and didn't post it. I think I need the reminder of it now.

Somehow or other I ended up going through Hebrews this week, and this morning I read Hebrews 9:17 - “For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.” Somehow this struck me differently than it has in the past. I guess I'm more familiar with the later verses that say that it is blood that enacts a covenant. But when I read this now, I interpreted it to mean that the covenant is meaningless or powerless until after I am dead. How fortunate it is, then, that there are these verses!

Ephesians 2:1 - "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins..."

Ephesians 2:5 - "Even while we were dead in our transgressions..."

You see...I am dead, and that is the only reason I can claim the new covenant promises God has made! Here's the whole passage:
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
We all want that...the surpassing riches of His grace. But so often the devil tempts us into thinking that we have to maintain some sort of spiritual status quo to receive it...something on some platform high above where we generally feel we are.

But the status quo is dead. We are not supposed to be striving to get ourselves up to the top, for dead men don't strive. We're just not all that good are remembering how dead we are, or that death can be a very good thing when God gives us the revelation of it.

"Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4)

You see, it is only when we really realize just how dead we really are, that we are then able to say, "For I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20)

Then we can tell the devil when he comes against us, "He who has died is free from sin!" (Romans 6:7) Therefore, "You have no power over me!"

And it is then, when we begin to see ourselves as being "free indeed" (John 8:36), that we begin to "know what is the hope of His calling, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe." (Ephesians 1:18-19)

This is how only dead men and women are truly capable of thriving...

Monday, November 08, 2010

All-consuming love...

Love has been on my mind a lot for the last three or four years. You see...almost everything that God has revealed to me, convicted me of, and changed in me has to do with getting rid of pride and selfishness and substituting them with love. Interestingly enough, everywhere I go, both offline and online, I've seen Him doing the same thing in His people everywhere. He's been opening our eyes to the selfishness that the world easily sees in us (and uses as proof that we are hypocrites), but to which our pride has blinded us.

Furthermore, I've seen that in almost all of us, this level of love He is leading us all to is sacrificial. Very sacrificial. Which is biblical, for "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life(style) for his friends." (And, of course, Jesus Himself told us that the "friends/neighbors" whom we are to show love to might also very well be our enemies...which wasn't a new NT idea, either.)

So we are ultimately called to lay down our life (and every part of our life) for any and every human we encounter, for it is in losing our life, that we will find it. In fact, Jesus said that if we work to save our life, the end result will be that we will lose it. How serious a warning this is!

Thankfully, it seems that this losing-and-finding-thing is progressive. The more we surrender our lives and willingly lose parts of it for Him, the more we find of the life He intends for us.

What I find most remarkable...miraculous, the reality of the love that He is placing inside of me. It seems to be growing, totally independent of any effort of my own.

It begins as He proves Himself faithful to His promise: "You shall seek Me and you shall find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." I have discovered that seeking Him must be coupled with repentance, humility, and obedience in choosing to show love. Look at Isaiah 58. It has it all. God's call for us to repent, to humble ourselves, and to chose the actions of love over selfishness and retaliation against those who have hurt us.

As I do this, I come to see Him and to know His very nature more and more. And everything I discover about His nature is a product or aspect of love. His anger, His justice, His compassion, His jealousy, His grace...all of it. Just as I know it is my father's nature to be logical and a calm, quiet thinker, I know that it is my God's nature to love, because the more I get to know Him, the more that is all I see.

And as I get to know this love, the more I find this love beginning to flow through me. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean that I'm never rude or inconsiderate, and it doesn't mean that I display His love anywhere near perfectly. I wish it did, and hopefully one day it will.

What I'm talking about is more the difference between knowing that you should like spinach and actually being hungry for it. The difference in me is just as remarkable. Love that once only existed in my mind as a decision now carries a rhythm of pain and beauty inside my heart...pain felt through compassion on behalf of the person who hurt me...instead of my own pain. This is something that is far beyond any choice or action of mine. This is something God is doing.

And as He does it in I step aside and stare in awe and wonder at the love He allows me to feel, I discover that my knowledge of His heart grows. And I see the world through His eyes more and more clearly. And it becomes more obvious how the Bible is the spelling out of the beautiful plan He has for a creation He loves so dearly.

Hebrews 12:29 says that, "Our God is a consuming fire," and 1 John 4 says twice that, "God is love." I am finding that it is His very nature--the very power and completeness of His love--that is this all-consuming fire. For where His love flows, anger melts. Hatred is powerless. Bitterness and strife dissolve. Pride itself stumbles and fails. And in the place of these evils, compassion becomes empowered. Grace becomes manifested. Mercy becomes complete. Patience becomes effortless. Goodness becomes an outcome instead of a goal. Everything that is contrary to His nature becomes powerless, and everything that is a part of His nature becomes empowered.

And this is what Isaiah 58 is talking about at the end:
11"And the LORD will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
12"Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Love and rejection...

What do you do when someone very near and dear to you is offended, hurt, and angry because you are acting out your beliefs? What do you do when you're unjustly accused and judged? When your actions appear to have been someone you love beyond measure?

Once again, I am up against the fact that my love will always be inadequate. It will always fall short in some way or in some instance. The only thing I can do is trust my loved ones to His love. I must continually humble myself and ask that He continue to teach me to disappear, that the only Love that is perfect will shine more and more clearly, as the days and trials continue.

Is love meant to be exclusive? Did Jesus ever encounter a set of enemies...and love (in action and words) both of them? I think He had to have, human nature being what it is...and His nature being what it is.

But were both parties able to feel and acknowledge His love? That is what I don't know. What "enemies" (of anyone) show up during the time of Jesus?

Most of the Pharisees didn't seem to be able to feel His love, even though He loved them enough to ask God to forgive them...even though he met with one face to face and spoke the ultimate words of love to him, that He was about to give His life for that Pharisee. That indicates his willingness to reach out and minister to one of His own "enemies." I wonder if Nicodemus felt Jesus' love, even as he was part of the group plotting His death? Was that what caused him to seek Jesus out?

Are there any stories of pairs of enemies who came to Him? I remember those who brought the woman caught in adultery...He certainly reached out in love to the one who was obviously in the wrong...but maybe this isn't an accurate example either.

Jesus loved/loves everyone, for He was/is the face of the Father, and God is love. We know this.

Did everyone feel the love that was there for them? Did the Pharisees? Did the soldiers who cast lots for His garments? Did Pilate? Did the high priest? Or how about those who weren't his enemies? Did all 5,000 whom he fed feel His love? Or did some of them merely come to see and hear the latest attraction? What about all those shouting Hosanna?

It doesn't seem that they all did. Some, at least, were deceived to the point that they couldn't see that love for what it really was, or else they did feel it but were somehow still able to reject it...and Him. Or else...something, for I doubt many still believed in His love when they were shouting "crucify Him."

And that leads me to an uncomfortable realization. If even the love of Jesus in the flesh could be overlooked, missed, ignored, and rejected...then my love can be, too.

Even if Jesus' love did shine through me would not always be received. For whatever reason, it...and I...can count on rejection. Even rejection of love. Even rejection because of love.

Lord, teach me to count the cost. To follow Your ways no matter the cost. Open the eyes of my heart to know how to love like You, but please also teach me to rest in Your love and sufficiency for me in situations like this. Give me the grace to love those who love me, and love those who hate me, and love those who are hated by those I love, and love those who hate those I love...for I know that is what You do. Enable me to recognize and reject bitterness and anger and offense in my own heart. I am willing to walk this painful path and learn what lessons You have planned for me in this season. And I am willing to hold onto You, no matter what You allow to be taken away from me.

Photo credit: Megyarsh

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The hope of surrender...

I woke up this morning with this song running through me:

Where You go, I'll go
Where You stay, I'll stay
When You move, I'll move
I will follow You
Who You love, I'll love
How You serve, I'll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow You
I will follow You...
Those are powerful words. I wonder how many of us who listen to it really mean it, though? I know, in my own case, my life does not reflect a heart that does mean these words. So often I don't move with Him. In fact, sometimes I'm afraid I'm actually moving against Him!

And yet, this is the cry of my heart. To follow His leading with this decree of dedication. To love whom He loves (namely, everyone). To serve as He served (namely, the complete emptying of myself in every aspect of my life, even to death if He so desires).

I don't want this from any sense of obligation or conviction that I should want this. I want it because I am firmly convinced that this is where ultimate peace and joy and fulfillment lie. I know that in giving every moment of my life completely to Him, I will find something...a life...that so far eclipses anything I have ever known that it will defy description...that only those who are also finding it will be able to comprehend what I mean when I speak of it. A life that will call and draw the lost and hurting with a power that they won't be able to explain, even as they discover that they cannot refuse it...that they don't want to refuse it.

The thing is...I look at myself and know that it is only through Him that I can give Him everything completely. Then I look at others, see that they aren't living for Him completely...and I feel all alone.

How devious are the lies the devil whispers to us! And how steady the onslaught of pride is!

Here is a fact. This song is currently #9 on the Christian Billboard charts. ie: A song that speaks of total surrender...a total laying down of my wants and sacrifice...words that fly in the face of materialism and the pervading "looking out for number one" attitude of today...are being sung by tens of thousands of Christians.


Sooo...are we all singing this without really meaning it? I doubt it. And you know why I doubt it? Because I clearly remember myself, at the age of 8 or 9, fighting inside myself because I could not lie and sing words I didn't mean. For I could not honestly say that "I would give my final breath to know You in Your death and resurrection." Oh, how glad I am that God is allowing me to know Him in that way anyway! For what is breath in comparison with Him?

And if there aren't tens of thousands of Christians singing this song...then how is it rising so quickly up the charts?

No...I am clearly not alone. There are obviously tens of thousands of you also echoing this, the cry of your heart.

To all of you, I say, "Hi! Me, too!" ::joyful smiles of comradeship::

And when I picture all of us, you know what I see? I see into the future, where there is an army that moves across the land, restoring instead of devastating. An army that moves in perfect, beautiful, and rippling unison as one, because each member follows the Commander perfectly.

That is what He is preparing us to be. And the hearts that sing this song are those being prepared for this glorious destiny.

We need God to open the eyes of our hearts to see His moves more and more. Yes, the world is growing darker and sin is increasing. But so is hope. God is most definitely moving and preparing us for something awesome. Something which is so powerful that only perfect obedience to Him can contain it.

And as I typed this up, I heard Him whisper, "Yes. This is what I am doing."

Is anyone else excited?

God, I proclaim that You are my Lord. Not only are You my friend, You are my Master, and I ask for the grace to walk according to Your leading. Work in me until I truly am going when You go, staying when You stay, and moving when You move. Teach me to love whom You love how You love them. Give me Your grace to serve how You served. For I will follow You, and You alone.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Messy me, redeemed...

Why is it sometimes hard to cling to the truth? When days have gone by and I keep getting lost, over and over again...when I read my Bible but I'm so mentally distracted that I can't hear Him among the chaos...when even finding the quiet seems impossible...

In times like this (like this month so far), I find myself repeatedly falling on my face before God, confessing that I'm a mess...that I feel like I keep ignoring Him, though I don't know when I am because it's not being done consciously.

And then He whispers that I am precious. That I am not a mess, for He has already redeemed me and sanctified me and justified and glorified me.

How is it possible that this very messy me is glorified? I certainly don't feel glorified. And yet, I think it is the height of foolishness to think that the feelings of one messy human are more reliable than the eternal decrees of the One who sees all and knows all and created all.

And so, He showed me this morning that all these mornings I've been begging Him to fix me, I've been asking and looking for the wrong thing.

For "fixing" is not what I need. Not anymore.

What I need is what He gave me this morning...the reminder-revelation that I am not what I feel like I am. I am not defined by my mistakes. This messiness that I see in is nothing more than the reminder of what I have been saved from, what He has redeemed, and what He no longer sees, even when I keep trying to shove it in His face.

I am already "fixed" in Him.

I am beautiful in His sight because my heart is not content with the sinful me, and because I long for His dwelling places.

And when I asked Him to bring me back to the joy of my salvation, His way of doing that was not to bring me back to the point of hearing Him clearly and being filled with joy and peace and being productive. His way was to whisper truth to my spirit...that what I feel like and what I'm doing have absolutely nothing to do with the woman He sees in Christ. Resting in this reality, even when it does not feel like a reality, is what walking by faith instead of sight is all about.

And now that He has granted me the grace to rest in this truth miraculous is the peace and joy that are washing over me!

I wonder how many more times I will have to go through this before I learn to rebuke these attacks for what they really are, rather than to cave and fight myself over things I've already been redeemed from...

Monday, October 04, 2010

Halfway to 1000...

holy experience

I'm half-way to counting 1000 gifts! The 11 that today's Multitude Monday brings me are:

490. That the rest of my 10 Compassion kids got sponsors

491. The gorgeous colors on the tree across the street

492. Finally getting to know our neighbors, and

493. Discovering that they have girls the same ages as ours

494. The week off work my husband had

495. The door we needed that God provided at bargain prices,

496. The grace to get it installed, and

497. The help God sent at the perfect time for that final adjustment we didn’t know the door

498. The last of the peppers coming off in the garden

499. And the last of the tomatoes

500. And the 36 pints of salsa I’ll have gotten out of them by the time I’m done

God is so good...even when I am not. Which, I suppose, should be 501 for today...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Compassion Monday...

Yesterday was Compassion Sunday, which I presented (hosted? shared?) at my little church. I want to do a mirror of it here as Compassion Monday (even if I am posting this in the last few minutes of the day).

My friend/pastor's wife and I sang "The Power of Your Name" yesterday, and it's really amazing how the words Lincoln Brewster penned fit the whole theme.

"Surely children weren't made for the streets
And fathers were not made to leave
Surely this isn't how it should be
Let Your kingdom come...

I will live to carry Your compassion
To love a world that's broken
To be Your hands and feet
And I will give this life that I've been given
And go beyond religion
To see the world be changed
By the power of Your name..."

The gospels say that Jesus fed the people because he felt compassion for them. To me, compassion is love in action. It is love strong enough to sacrifice part of me for the benefit of someone else.

There were many times over the years that my husband and I talked about sponsoring a needy child somewhere else in the world. But the years ticked by, and we didn't do it. We talked about it again...and still didn't do it. Finally the day came when he called me from work and said, "We have to do it now. Go find out which program we should do it through, and get it started today." And so I started looking.

I checked out a number of programs, but here is why I felt that Compassion International was the program I wanted us to sponsor a child through:

1) Their fiscal responsibility and ratings. I wanted as much of my sponsorship dollars as possible to go to the children, and I wanted to make sure it wasn't going anywhere questionable. Compassion's ratings are the highest.

Learn more about sponsoring a child.2) There's this little phrase tacked onto Compassion's logo (when it's big enough to squeeze the words in there). The words? "In Jesus' name." You see...The people in Compassion know that money alone isn't enough to set a child free from poverty. Poverty is so much more than a lack of money. It creates hopelessness. It feeds depression and desperation and fear. And money can do nothing to permanently alleviate those.

But Jesus can.

Just as the song says...the world can only be changed through the power of the name of Jesus, because He is the only One who can/has/will conquer everything for which poverty is merely a result. You may disagree with me...but this is what I believe, and tens of thousands of people around the world have one million little reasons to agree with me.

And so Compassion works through local churches, acting as the connection between sponsors in first world countries who have a little (or a lot of) money and a caring heart, and churches in third world countries who have the opportunity and caring heart, but not the money to see to the desperate physical needs surrounding them. Because so often, it is the meeting of a physical need that opens the bruised and wounded heart to the healing Jesus' offers. And as John said, "But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?"

It was about a year and a half ago, I think, that the kids and I sat down in front of the computer and looked at the Compassion website to choose a child. We decided we wanted to sponsor a child in a Spanish-speaking country, so that once they learned Spanish, they could converse in the child's language. We decided to sponsor a boy, because my son does not have a brother. And so we found K-. He is only six days younger than my son, and we pray for him, and write to him, and get excited whenever we receive a letter in return from him.

I was thinking of K- and the many waiting children like him when I signed up to do Compassion Sunday a month or so ago. I was assuming that I'd share a little and...well...what else was I going to say?

I didn't know that I was going to be virtually kidnapped two weeks later and taken along a Compassion Bloggers trip to Guatemala City. You see, Ann Voskamp, who blogs at A Holy Experience (and who started the whole 1000 gifts thing) went on this trip. And she took me along with her. And then I started following the others blogging the trip, until I was virtually kidnapped and couldn't think about much for days other than what they were seeing and experiencing and sharing about in Guatemala City. It made everything so real!

I followed along with them as they visited hillsides that had been swept away by Hurricane Agatha. I rejoiced with them as they heard a mother share how the building materials supplied by Compassion were not her most precious gift. Rather, it was the love given in Jesus' name that helped turn her son from the gangs that were luring him. He was even then away at school, building a future for himself.

I cried with Amanda as she witnessed sights she would gladly have gone without seeing her entire life, and then my heart found joy with hers as she saw the hope offered in the midst of what was more difficult to comprehend just days before.

My heart struggled to comprehend 20,000 families living at the Guatemala City Dump--this place where gangs think they rule, where even rats die from the water, and where children go missing. And yet if the parents manage to find work, then the children must go to the dump alone to scavenge, because just maybe, if they have a good week, they'll find $5 worth of items to sell for food and clean water. Beautiful children like these:

It seems so hopeless.

And yet, there is hope in their lives.

You see... on April 10th, 1986, at 8:30 in the evening, a 21 year old who had been addicted to drugs since he was 13 years old gave his life to God. He got up from the floor where he had lain prostrate, completely free from his addictions. He has since proven that he really did give his life to God. As he said, "He who is loved much, serves much."

Now his church is reaching out to the dump families. 120 people, ministering to 20,000. Their water purification system provides the only clean water in the area. They sell the water for 1/3 of the going price, and with the proceeds, pay for the loan Healing Waters gave them for the system (Compassion paid for half), provide building materials for the dump families, run a food program for them, and host a free weekly meal for any and all who are hungry. They also, with the help of 80 Compassion sponsors, minister to 125 children (45 of them are among the 816 children in Guatemala currently waiting for sponsors). His wife is a doctor, so she provides the medical care for the children...doing her best to make sure that these children aren't among the 24,000 children who die every day of preventable causes.

Ann told of Daniel and Josue and Maynor--three 20-year-olds whose lives have been changed over the course of fourteen years as their sponsors wrote them and encouraged them and prayed for them...and as they were three of the chosen few who were accepted into the Leadership Development Program...and they told of what they are going to college for...and as they shared exactly how much those letters (all of which they kept) meant to them over the years.

I realized in a fresh way just how much God uses the letters and the time spent writing them. For these three young men are living changed lives because of letters. Lisa-Jo told how in these boys' church, there is a little boy right now waiting for his sponsor to write his first letter so he can write one in return. And there's another little boy hoping that his sponsor of five years will write him a third letter. And there's another beautiful little girl named Darling who has never gotten one letter from her sponsor.

And so I wrote K- another letter, and I began thinking about being a correspondent for another child...someone who writes to those children whose sponsors can't. (Or aren't.)

But then I read this article about infanticide in India, and how many families kill their 3rd and 4th baby girls because they feel that to do otherwise is to doom the two they already have to severe poverty...for the cost of having a daughter is much, much higher than I realized.

And a face swam before my eyes. Months and months ago I clicked on that little banner on the left side of this page...the one that says, "Do you share a birthday with a child in poverty?" I found that I did...a teenage girl in India.

I didn't do anything, for was I not already sponsoring one? But her face never left me, and beside her was the smiling face of a dear Indian friend of years ago, whom I've since lost track of. I don't know how to find Lizzy, for I do not remember how to spell her married name. But could I not reach out to a girl from her country? A girl the age that she and I were when we shared our so-different stories of growing up? And could I not sponsor her with the overflow that God has recently blessed me with?

I ran another search...and found that someone else "got" her. But now my heart was hungry to find a young Indian friend again, and I found H-. She is so beautiful. She is also almost 20, and she is being blessed with the only free source of education on her side of people reaching out to the poorest of the poor in Jesus' name and giving them what others say they have no right to. She studying and learning and working on completing 9th grade so that she might rise from the poverty she was born into and realize her potential. Not all Compassion-sponsored children can stay in the program at her age, but she has one year left. And I have one year. One year to love her and pray for her and encourage her to become the woman God created her to be.

Perhaps $38/month sounds like a lot to you. Or perhaps it doesn't. But did you know that if every church-going American gave 1% of their income, we could all sponsor 11 million children? That makes the 1.02 million currently sponsored through Compassion look...well...less impressive than it really is.

Would you like to join us? Are you willing to give 1% so that another brother or sister in Christ can reach out to a child in ways that you cannot? Would you like to know God?

Opportunity is just a click away...

holy experience

This weekend's gifts for Multitude Monday:

482. His blessing on yesterday’s Compassion Sunday and the privilege of connecting:

483. Nataly and her sponsor

484. Dary and his sponsor

485. Kevin and his sponsor, and

486. Snighha and her sponsor.

487. And for the two friends who are waiting…

488. For me to bring the six packets I still have so that they can each sponsor a child

489. And for the hope within me that the four who will be left will also find sponsors, either through me or through someone else. I don’t care which.

They are what matters. And they are my gifts, for they were sent to me for this short season. And so I pray for them, and I rejoiced as God gave me something specific to pray over each of them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Just in case...

Just in case anyone else is fighting a bad mood this morning...

I am, too. I don't know why, unless it's because I foolishly stayed up too late last night. I've snapped twice this morning already. I even went back to bed, which I almost never do.

I laid there, searching for the answer to what's wrong with me? The answer I found was to a different question. How do I get out of this?



He melts moods like this, when I let Him.

But isn't it strange how sometimes we don't want to be put into a good mood? We want to wallow in it? In fact, the only thing that gave me the strength to actually go put worship music on was the knowledge that if I didn't, then come this evening, I'd be in no position to help lead worship...I'd feel like a hypocrite or a fool, practicing a song with words about reaching out...preparing to conduct our Compassion Sunday. And I would wish I had pushed play.

Although, come to think of it, I suppose this is why my enemy hit me this morning. He'd love to hijack and taint and steal anything he can from what I feel God wants to do this Sunday.

Anyway...I crawled out of bed, since I wasn't sleeping anyway, and a truth I know from the bottom of my heart shot through me.

Choosing obedience to God over what my flesh wants, results in happiness for me.

It's not cliche, and it's not one of those things people just say to get you to do something. This is a truth that I have learned...something I'm not going to try to explain, other than that I know it's as elemental as putting food in my mouth and my stomach getting full as a result.

And He said clean my room. (Okay...I'm laughing, just as I typed that. I sound like a child, don't I?)

So I reached for the stack of clothes that needed to be put away, and the basket of more that needed to be folded.

And I clicked play.

These are the words that washed over me:
A thousand times I fall, still Your mercy remains
And should I stumble again, still I'm caught in Your grace...

And the next song:
Oh Lord, You've searched me
You know my ways
Even when I fail You
I know You love me.

Your holy presence
Surrounding me
In every season
I know You love me
I know You love me

At the cross I bow my knee
Where Your blood was shed for me
There's no greater love than this...
You have overcome the grave
Your glory fills the highest place
What can separate me now?

How glorious it is to know that He gave Himself for me.

Even when I'm like this.

Because I am like this.

And because He loves me anyway.

Here are the songs, for anyone who might need to listen to them as badly as I needed to.

Just in case.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A life poured out...

The concept of living a life poured out has been stirring in my spirit quite a bit lately. What does it mean? Are we really called to do it? Is

First, I'd like to say that this phrase--"a life poured out"--isn't an official something that somebody told me. I'm sure it's been used before, but for me, it's nothing more or less than my best attempt at describing the "picture" of the lifestyle that's dancing in front of me, strangely beckoning me with joy and laughter.

This lifestyle...this way of living, of living a life poured out for full of sacrifice. When needs are thought of, they are always the needs of others. And when a woman living this way is thinking of herself, it is always of thanksgiving and gratitude...never of her own needs and pain and struggles.

Of course, this isn't the first time I (or anyone else) have thought about a life of sacrifice. Most of us have probably learned about a monk or missionary or someone like Mother Theresa or Adoniram Judson who lived a life of extreme hardship in order to to tell others about Jesus or help others. I've occasionally gotten uncomfortable, wondering if we are all supposed to live like that, because most of the time, it sounds down-right miserable! (At least to me, it did.)

Then there are those who can show you in the scriptures where God wants us to live happy, prosperous, joy-filled lives. And they're right! There are thousands of verses that speak of the blessings that fill and surround God's plan for us.

But what if we're still supposed to live a life of sacrifice?

What if both are possible?

What if one is only possible when it accompanies the other?

Over a month ago, I watched/listened to this video testimony of Chad and Sarah Markley. It's an amazing story that a seven-minute video can't possibly do justice to, but at the end, Chad says something remarkable. He had just finished telling why he felt he had no choice but to forgive his wife after her lengthy affair...explaining why it would have been hypocritical of him to do anything else...sharing why hope for his future was found, not in taking advantage of the fact that he had Biblical grounds for divorce, but in taking the harder road instead...and he said this:
The key to it all is that you have to be willing to do what Christ did in going to the cross. Think about what He suffered: embarrassment, shame, pain, death. It comes down to this: what are you willing to give up, in exchange for what He has?
Those words, what are you willing to give up, in exchange for what He has, shot through me. In fact, I think that those words signaled the sprouting of a seed that God planted almost a year ago and that He has been watering and fertilizing all year long. A seed of truth.

The seed was planted when I found another Katie online. That Katie read the parable of the sheep and the goats, left the USA, and went to Uganda for a year to help feed the poor and the needy and the orphans. She was eighteen. God stretched the year, and God stretched her, and when I found her this past January 5th, she was 21 years old, a permanent resident of Uganda, and the legal adopted mother of 14 girls.

She gets tired. She gets overwhelmed. She gets stressed out. But she loves, and she loves, and she loves, and God fills her with joy, and peace, and strength beyond what most of us sheltered Americans can even comprehend. To her, it is simple. We are commanded to love and care for the orphans, and so she is.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe there's something about finding someone with my name, pouring out her life in a way far beyond anything I'd even considered, and finding more joy and fulfillment and purpose than I'd ever dreamed in the process. Maybe that's what jolted me out of so many of my grand and selfish misconceptions. What if I had been born her, and she had been born me? Who would gain the most, and who would lose the most?

I began to realize something somewhat strange about my way of thinking.

When I imagine living like Mother Theresa, Adoniram Judson, and others who have sacrificed much, I've always focused on their sacrifices and how difficult their lives must have been. But when I imagine living like Jesus, I've always found myself thinking about the power, and the joy, and the awesomeness of being able to touch a blind person and heal them.

Why are they separate in my mind?

I'm slowly but surely becoming convinced that this marriage of both...the sacrifice and the blessing...the power amidst the how I (and maybe all of us) am truly called to live.

How did Jesus live? He said He came to be the servant of all. The servant! Yet I want to balk whenever someone treats me like I'm their servant.

1 John 3:16-24 says, "We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."

Why do I act as though, because no one is asking me to give my life to save theirs, I am therefore not called to give every part of my life to save many little parts of others' lives? I am ashamed to say that sometimes I decide quite righteously that giving a one-hour part of my life to help someone else is more than I am called to do. After all, I can't stretch myself too thin! And God isn't calling me to do that. (Except I never stopped to ask Him. At least, I didn't ask with a willing, humble, and sacrificial heart.)

How is that Biblical?

There is this philosophy that I've often heard and even shared myself. We have to have boundaries. We have to learn to say, "No."

We say this, of course, because of the worn-out and stressed-out humans around the world who have been going, doing, and helping until they break down from exhaustion. Most of us have experienced some measure of it. And so we reason that it is our going and doing and helping that is the problem.

But what if it's not?

I am now asking myself these questions:

Those times when I have worn myself out helping others...was I also spending time with God, drawing from the well of living water so that as I gave, I was also replenished?

Was I walking so closely to Him that His strength was flowing through me?

Have I believed the lie that His strength and peace and provision have limits? Limits that I've already reached?

Was I giving and going and doing for pride, to soothe guilt, or for some other reason that was anything more or less than love and obedience to God?

, .~*~. , .~*~. , .~*~. ,

These questions lead to many more...and I don't have the answers for many of them. There is also a strong temptation to look for a set of "rules" that will tell me how far is too far, for common sense tells us that we can't meet all of the needs we see.

But that's not what God wants us to do. He said, "Go." He said, "Love." He said, "Give." He said, "Obey." He said, "Freely you have received. Freely also give."

Not once did He say, "Hold back." Never did He say, "Give only until you start to get exhausted, and then stop, because My strength and grace have limits, and you will lose your reward if following Me causes you to die before your time." Nor did He say, "Those who go too far helping others will lose their strength. They will crawl like slugs. They will faint like grass without water." The fact is, we will faint without the living water, no matter how much we do or don't try to do. And if we actually compared some of the statements we make with scripture or with 1 Corinthians 13, we’d discover that they’re just as outlandish as these.

He said, "Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength." I wonder what would happen if every single last one of us did that before we began our day, and then did it again when we started to get tired? I wonder if He'd hold true to His promise. That sounds like a preposterous question to even type...yet I know I act as though I'm not sure I believe that promise.

It starts and ends with the heart. Selfishness, or love. Everything else flows as naturally from the heart as water pours from a spring.

Instead of waiting for God to provide the time and money and provide divine direction with a booming voice from heaven, I think it starts with a change of questions. Instead of asking Him, "Lord, do You want me to do something," it starts with, "Lord, what would you have me do?"

Let me share the rest of the story of how Katie-in-Uganda blessed Katie-in-Ohio.

It took a couple of weeks for my heart to get softened, but finally I humbled myself before God. In the midst my confusion, I offered the willingness I had recently found in my heart to Him, and I cried out, "Father, I want to do more. I want to love people like that. But I'm here in America where our hearts are hard with superiority and material possessions and our eyes are blind to what really matters. It's easier for that Katie to do something to meet the need around her, for those around her know they are dying. I have a husband and children and things I know You have called me to do here...I can't just leave it all and run off to Africa to where the need is easy to identify."

He pointed to the nursing home around the corner.

And over the weeks that followed, I felt that finger in the back of my consciousness, all the time. Pointing, pointing, pointing. There are people who know they are close to death. There are people who are forgotten and abandoned. There are people who need someone to love them.

Finally, I obeyed.

I don't know how much to share or how to share it, for the reality that I'm experiencing is so vastly different than what I expected.

How do I explain how much of a miracle it seems to feel His love flowing through me to the precious people there as I am now experiencing it?

Am I bragging if I try to explain the difficulties in spending an hour playing an old out-of-tune piano and working to make my not-very-powerful singing voice (that's aimed at the wall, no less) be heard in ears that could benefit from hearing aids if they could afford them...all because they want to hear me sing? In some miraculous way, singing for them is loving them. Or perhaps it is no more miraculous than a mother singing a lullaby to her baby because she loves him. And the people there are so easy to love!

My perceptions of what it means to reach out to people have broken down in the face of a reality that is more powerful.

This reality is that I could barely hold back tears of joy last Friday because I could plainly hear a dozen shaky voices behind me singing along: "This is my story, this is my song! Praising my Savior, all the day long..."

We sing, "He walks with me and He talks with me. And He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share, as we tarry there....none other, has ever known." And the reality is that He is there, in that nursing home, and I am experiencing such joy there with Him that I want to tarry. With them.

The reality is that thousands of Christians every Sunday are relieved when their twenty minutes of worship is over and they can sit down...while every Friday, there is a handful of precious people who sing hymns with me for a whole hour, and then are sorry that I don't know any more and that my fingers are tired because they don't want to stop.

The reality is that dear Marie almost gets tears in her eyes because our worship times are the closest thing to church she's had since she became a resident.

The reality is that some of those lost in the confusion and misery of Alzheimer's smile and relax as they sing words they cannot forget.

The reality is that they beg me to come and get them when I visit (if they forget which day it is) because they soak up every bit of love and attention and don't want to miss a chance to praise the One who hasn't left them.

I am richer and my life is fuller because of them.

And instead of being even busier and more stressed and stretched thin, I am busier and less stressed and more productive and more relaxed.

I don't share this because I want people to say what a good job I'm doing, so please don't. I'm sharing what I'm experiencing to proclaim God's goodness to me, and to encourage you to go ahead and make that sacrifice that God has been quietly asking of you. It won't be anywhere near as painful as you think.

I think God redeems the sacrifices He asks of us...redeems and then multiplies that redemption until we are overflowing with more and looking for more ways to pour it out because we've got extra. I think this redemption also heals our own needs and pain and struggles, which is why a woman living that way would be full of praise and thanksgiving.

Am I saying that you should move to Uganda and adopt 14 orphans? No. Am I saying you should go and sing for your local nursing home residents? No.

I am saying that I believe we have missed it. At least I did.

I'm saying that I should have assumed that He had more for me to do and listened for Him to tell me what it was, rather than sitting back hoping that what I was already doing was enough.

Yes, obedience is better than sacrifice...but that doesn't mean that obedience isn't going to involve sacrifice. I'm coming to believe that it always will. But when the sacrifices are redeemed and turned into blessing, it looks nothing like what this Katie once thought it would.

And that makes me eager to let Him turn the little stream I'm dribbling out into a river...a river of living water that can only flow once His grace enables me to truly live a life poured out.

holy experience

More gifts for today's Multitude Monday:

455. The old piano at the nursing home

466. Marie

467. Hank

468. Barb

469. Marjory

470. Trudy

471. Doris

472. Jeanette

473. Pauline

474. Bob

475. Ruth

476. The other residents whose names I still can’t remember.

477. The smiles they give me

478. The staff that doesn’t mind that I sing nothing but hymns

479. The way God has started multiplying my time and productivity

480. The opportunity to touch lives, even here in America

481. And future assignments from Him.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Extravagant wealth, disguised poverty...

I don't do this often, but if you are a person, like me, who desires to know the heart of God...

read this. (Don't worry, this is just the recent personal experiences of a farm wife "nobody.")

Do you find yourself asking what you can really do that matters? That makes a difference?

Well...if you are reading these words now, and possess a keyboard, or a pen and paper and a 44-cent stamp once/month, you can do this.

Join me?

(I'm still counting the gifts...

448. Smiles on children in Guatemala City

449. This man ministering in a shantytown whose life has reached across the Internet to minister to me.

450. More cracks in the hardness of my heart

451. The promise of hope that has been given to me to share

452. Eyes to see true poverty around me, and…

453. Grace that meets it, slowly beginning to flow through me, and…

454. The healing of poverty in my own soul that is happening at the same time. )

Monday, August 23, 2010

My refuge and strong tower...

It seems like the vast majority of Christians are under attack right now, myself included. Perhaps because of this, I am discovering new depths to the truth that God is my shield, my strength, my fortress, my Deliverer, my shelter and refuge, and my strong tower. For He is all those things, to those who choose to take refuge in Him.

Today, I would simply like my blog to be a place of praise and thanksgiving as I add to the endless gifts that are overtaking me.

421. Psalm 91 and the refuge He offers me. How is it that I have never thought to thank Him for the most marvelous gift that this Psalm is?
4 He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

422. Psalm 46 and the fact that He doesn't offer help, he is my help. This is the Psalm that one of my favorite worship songs was taken from.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

423. The truth of Psalm 30:5, for it allows me to rejoice even in the night.
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning.

424. That Jesus came to bring more than eternal life. He came that we might have life more abundantly.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

435. Much needed rain over the weekend, both for the garden and in my heart.

426. The gift my husband gave me for my birthday, out of his time and patience and love. He is a gift of God to me.

427. The new school year and gifts that sometimes must be searched for

428. Promise that can be seen only with the eyes of the heart, for this is the most exciting of all promises

429. My future
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.

holy experience

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When death draws near...

Again, yesterday, I was all set to blog on one topic, when death swooped in and hijacked my day. This time, it was not the death of a was notice of the impending death of something infinitely more precious.

I am not at liberty to share details...yet I know that many of us face days like this. And so I want to share my heart in this as well.

When things like this happen, we naturally begin to search for answers...the whys and hows...the whose-fault-is-it searches. If we're wise, we present these questions before God. (For I believe that, to search for answers to these kinds of questions anywhere else, other than in The Answer Himself, is to open doors for the devil to make that problem infinitely worse.)

Yesterday, God took my questions and gave me another that I had never considered before. Why do I feel the need to know these things? More specifically, what need exists inside of me? What need does my mind think the answers to these questions will meet? I don't know that I'm explaining this very well...but in myself, I recognized this feeling that, if I could only figure out the answer to this question, or that question, it would somehow satisfy something inside of me. That something...that need that wants to be what I felt God pointing to, for He is the only One who can satisfy every need I will ever have.

Quite honestly, I still can't identify that need. Does it have to do with security? Am I trying to rationalize things? Or is it simply an attempt to accept a reality that I do not want to accept? I don't know.

What I do know is that the book of Psalms is written for times like this. Maybe God allowed David so many years of being surrounded by death, just so he could pen psalms that would bring me comfort. If so, I am grateful. No matter what, this is definitely something negative that God took from David's life and turned it into something beautiful in my own life.

God again, fulfilling His promises.

Psalm 86:1-10

1Incline Your ear, O LORD, and answer me;
For I am afflicted and needy.
2Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man;
O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You.
3Be gracious to me, O Lord,
For to You I cry all day long.
4Make glad the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
5For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.
6Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
And give heed to the voice of my supplications!
7In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You,
For You will answer me.
8There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord,
Nor are there any works like Yours.
9All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And they shall glorify Your name.
10For You are great and do wondrous deeds;
You alone are God.

Psalm 83

1O God, do not remain quiet;
Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still.
2For behold, Your enemies make an uproar,
And those who hate You have exalted themselves.
3They make shrewd plans against Your people,
And conspire together against Your treasured ones.
15So pursue them with Your tempest
And terrify them with Your storm.
16Fill their faces with dishonor,
That they may seek Your name, O LORD.
17Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever,
And let them be humiliated and perish,
18That they may know that You alone, whose name is the LORD,
Are the Most High over all the earth.

Psalm 57

1Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,
For my soul takes refuge in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge
Until destruction passes by.
2I will cry to God Most High,
To God who accomplishes all things for me.
3He will send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches him who tramples upon me Selah
God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.
4My soul is among lions;
I must lie among those who breathe forth fire,
Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows
And their tongue a sharp sword.
5Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.
6They have prepared a net for my steps;
My soul is bowed down;
They dug a pit before me;
They themselves have fallen into the midst of it. Selah.
7My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!
8Awake, my glory!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
9I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to You among the nations.
10For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens
And Your truth to the clouds.
11Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.

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