Friday, December 23, 2011

A new Christmas song...

This month, God gave me another new song. It's been years since the last one, but this one is special to me because I specifically asked for it.

You see... last year, as new Christmas songs came out on the radio and old ones were resung and redone, I found myself wanting a new kind of Christmas song. I wanted one that didn't focus on the baby in the manger or what that Baby had come to do. I didn't want it to focus on angels or shepherds either. Rather, I wanted to sing one that told the story of what the One in the manger had already done before that Christmas morning.


Colossians 1:15-17 tells us who Jesus really is:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
That's a LOT of power. Seriously. One thing that I've gotten more revelation on this year has been that Jesus's power is the stuff of legends... the stuff that superheroes want and story writers try to give their heroes.

Read that verse again. It says that He literally is the power that is holding the earth in its orbit and the Milky Way galaxy together. He's the One with the power that made your heart beat its first beat when you were inside the womb. He's got power and authority over every king, prince, president, parliament, general, genius, CEO, and emperor that ever existed. So if you take every power that every hero in every story ever written has ever had and pull it all together in one person, you still wouldn't come close.

Jesus is the hero of the story that the Author of Life has penned. When authors write stories, they write the whole thing for the hero. They set up the forces of darkness and make them powerful, just to show how much the hero can overcome and prove that the hero is worthy of the name. As an author, if your hero looks weak, you just up the stakes against him, and then give him the skills to beat the villain anyway.

In a well-written story, everything that happens points, in some way or another, to the hero. And isn't that what that verse specifically says that God did? "All things are created for Him." History is literally His story.

But then, what did this hero do? Philippians 2:5-7 tells us how Jesus surrendered all that power:
...Christ Jesus, ...although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
And that is the truth that I wanted to sing about last year, for it awes me.

The thing is, though... I can't write songs. Literally. I can write these blogs (though I try to let the Holy Spirit write them). My day job is editing, so I can easily write smooth, grammatically correct paragraphs. I can polish a mediocre plot into relatively good prose. But I can't even write even a slightly-mediocre song.

And so I asked God to give me another, like He gave me the other songs years ago. But days and weeks went by, Christmas passed, and I heard no new song in my spirit.

This Christmas season, my worship leader asked if I wanted to sing a Christmas special. I told her I did, but I didn't know which one. In my spirit, I told God, "Lord, I know what I want to sing, but You haven't given me the song yet. Will You?"

Well... He started to give it to me that week. Just a few lines here and a few lines there. Over the span of three weeks, I kept listening and waiting, as I slowly heard line after line and they began to come together, along with the scriptures they were coming from.

And so today, as Christmas approaches, I am sharing the words and scriptures it references. I have no recording to share the melody, but I pray that God will whisper a melody to your spirit and that the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth of these words to you so that as Christmas dawns, you will enjoy a deeper revelation of just who the One in the manger was, what He surrendered just to be there, and why He did it all.


All He Was
© 2011 Kathleen Peters (since US copyright law doesn't recognize God's right to it)

Once outside of time began a story    (John 1:1)
It’s been told a thousand times and ways, or more
A virgin birthed and angels sang    (Is. 7:14; Luke 1:34; 2:13-14)
The wise men saw and shepherds came  (Matt. 2; Luke 2:15-16)
But the hero who lay within her arms
Had already made a sacrifice of love:    

He was the Maker of the universe    (Col. 1:16, John 1:3)
The Master of the stars     (Ps. 136:7-9)
The voice of endless power     (Gen. 1:3)
And everlasting love     (Jer. 31:3)
Before foundations of the world were laid      (Rev. 13:8)
Beyond the veil of time     (Ps. 90:2)
He knew the world would need a Savior’s touch      (Is. 9:2)
So He surrendered all He was.      (Phil 2:7)

He said that He revealed the face of God    (John 14:9)
That’s why the crowds responded to His power and love    (Matt. 4:25)
The sick were healed and blind could see   (Matt. 4:23; Matt. 15:31)
The lame made whole, possessed set free (Matt. 21:14; Mark 1:32)
Yet they took Him and nailed Him to a cross   (Matt. 27:22-31)
But He prevailed over death and conquered all!    (2 Tim. 1:10)

'Cause He's the Maker of the universe    (Col. 1:16, John 1:3)
The Master of the stars     (Ps. 136:7-9)
The voice of endless power     (Gen. 1:3)
And everlasting love     (Jer. 31:3)
Since the foundations of the world were laid
Beyond the bounds of time
He rules as everlasting Lord of all      (Phil. 2:9-10)
Yet He surrendered all He was…  (Luke 4:17-21)

         To bring good news to the afflicted     (Is. 61:1)
         And peace for the broken    (Is. 61:1)
         There’s freedom for captives     (Is. 61:1)
         The favor of God    (Is. 61:2)
         There’s joy now for mourning      (Is. 61:3)
         And strength for the weary      (Is. 61:3, 40:31)
         He’s made us the righteousness of God   (2 Cor. 5:21)

He's still the Maker of the universe    (Col. 1:16, John 1:3)
The Master of the stars     (Ps. 136:7-9)
The voice of endless power     (Gen. 1:3)
And everlasting love     (Jer. 31:3)
When the foundations of the world were laid     (Rev. 13:8)
The Father looked through time     (Is. 9:2-7)
He saw that you would need a Savior’s love...     (Rom. 7:24-25; Gal. 2:20)


         So Jesus came to be the Perfect One      (2 Cor. 5:21)
         What He did for you will always be enough…  (Rom. 8:1-4)
         Because He gave you all He was.     (1 Cor. 1:30)


For those of you who asked...here's a recording of it. Please forgive my shaking voice and fumbling fingers as both missed notes and chords. I pray that the words of the song minister to your heart.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Seeing into the spiritual...

I posted this on facebook a few days ago, but I want to share it here, too.

Do you ever wonder what you'd see, if you could see into the spiritual?

This is what happened at one of the many accidents on the bridges over 30 tonight.

I was headed toward the 598/30 bridge when I saw an oncoming car flash its lights (probably God), and a second later I realized that the bridge was probably icey (Probably also God) and I started slowing down. Then I prayed as I watched an oncoming pickup slide into my lane...and the truck in front of me hit it... and the oncoming pickup spin across the bridge. 10 seconds later, I was again praying as a second oncoming car slid across the bridge, narrowly missing the first truck...hitting the second. And I was still praying as the car spun toward my car, missing it by a few feet.

A few minutes later, I learned that there was a baby in the backseat where the last car had hit the first, but this infant was safe because the damage was minor (though it was still enough to send the car spinning).

A few minutes after that, I received the privilege of praying with a stranger who welcomed it and of telling her that I had been praying for her as she came across the bridge.

I wish I could see what all those prayers did. Did God only save my car by timing my crossing so I'd see the warning of the flashing lights? Or did He save my life? And did He orchestrate my timing so I was there, praying the other three cars through what could have been so much worse?

I believe He did, for God leaves nothing to chance...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Endless Thanksgiving...

As this month of Thanksgiving winds to a close, and we head into the Christmas season (with all its joys and stress and celebration and depression, depending on who you are)... I've had it on my heart to share a reminder of what really matters.

You see, most of us have a tendency to get completely side-tracked this time of year. Some of us (like me) are working overtime to meet deadlines at work and gather money for gifts I want to give. Others are stressed out by a list of names and pressure to buy something for each one. Others are resentful of the merchandising of the season...some even allowing themselves to get bitter over it. Still others get depressed because of lost love ones and broken relationships.

So what if today was March? Or July? Do we not still have the same things to be thankful for? The sun? Fresh air? Warmth in our homes? The computer we're using right now?

Jesus?

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

I am part of the Compassion Bloggers, and we've been given an assignment. I think it's timely, in a round-about way.

Compassion has begun something new. It's called Missions in Action, and it's an interactive web series that was created with the purpose to make a difference around the world. It's a way to get a glimpse of what Compassion is doing and the environment they're working in, so that those of us who partner with Compassion (or who want to) can actually see and understand more of what we're involved in. I like that.

Anyway, here is the first "episode." If you followed the last Compassion Bloggers trip that I followed, then these places will sound familiar. But whether you did or not, whether you sponsor a kid, want to sponsor one, or don't want to... please watch this.

Then celebrate that there is a Jesus who offers the joy you see on their faces. Celebrate the fact that there are things in life that are so much more important than shopping. Celebrate that what is most important... the joy that is deeper and more meaningful than anything else... is available to you.



Do you want an assignment? Pick one:

1) Begin your own list of 1000 gifts and see if it changes your life.

2) Lower your gift-giving budget and give the difference to Compassion's Christmas fund. The sponsors and workers who Compassion networks together are currently ministering to 1.2 million children... and Compassion tries to give a gift to every single one. That's right, 1.2 million gifts for children who will not roll their eyes, or stuff the gift in a closet, or take it back for something else. Or, if you are already sponsoring a child, give that difference as a family gift that might make a permanent difference in their lives.

3) If God's been nudging you to sponsor a child (or another one), then be obedient and go pick one.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Faith, works, & victory...

Two weeks ago, we had a guest speaker come to our church. This man is one of the preachers and teachers that I respect the most. I respect him for his knowledge of the scriptures, for the revelation on those scriptures that the Holy Spirit has given him, for his willingness to talk honestly about problems in the church, for his humility, and last-but-not-least, for the way that all of the above is shared with so much love.

He said something two weeks ago* that ties in to the "more" I mentioned in my last post.

He said:

Without knowing it, we try to interject the law into our faith. We don't think of it in that way, but we try to act this way, do this, do that, and don't do this to energize our faith....

You can't bring works in any way shape or form into your faith. The way you live or conduct yourself may change your relationship to the devil, but it doesn't change your relationship to God. Your sins have been paid for and washed away.

That doesn't mean we don't have to make things right. See 1 John.

But the fact of the matter is that we receive everything that the Bible says is ours through the Blood, the Word, and the Name... by grace through faith.

Faith is not the currency of heaven. If we say that, then we're implying that we have to use our faith to try to attain and get...[what]...is already ours! 


As I was writing that last post, God was not only pointing out what happens when we let our focus get on our circumstances, but He was also pointing out to me how futile it is to focus on ourselves!

Maybe you haven't heard (and done) as much of this as I have, but without any effort at all, I can think of things that we Christians frequently say, think, and dwell on when we're facing adversity.

"I'm believing!"

"I'm praying!"
"I'm standing on ___ verse."

We tell others, and sometimes we are told:
"You must have faith."
"You must believe."
"You must pray."

I'm beginning to see how, so very often, if our focus isn't on the adversity, it's on us!

Note that I am not saying that we should not pray or trust or believe God. Those statements, in and of themselves, are not wrong. We should and we must pray and believe and stand.

But that cannot be the basis of our hope. 

Are we hoping for healing because of how we've prayed and which verses we're standing on? Or are we hoping for healing because of who our God is? Are we believing we will be healed because we have used our authority or because we're exercising our faith? Or are we instead believing and focusing on the power of the God who gave us authority, who gave us whatever measure of faith we have, and who has a much more complete grasp on the situation than we do?

Are we waiting for 11th hour provision because we've tithed, because we've trusted, and because we've obeyed to best of our ability? Or are we trusting that it will come because He is a God who will never go back on His promises? (Heb 6:17-18)


Do you see the very subtle difference?  God did give some promises that are dependent on things that we do. Many more were blanket promises given to those who have been adopted and grafted in.

But even when we are waiting on fulfillment of a promise that is dependent... even then, we will not ultimately receive that promise because of what we did. Even then, the only reason we will receive is because of who He is. The only reason He gave the promise is because of who He is. The only reason we were given the grace to obey was because of who He is!

We trust Him because of who He is. He is not the I Am because we are trusting Him!

The test is this: when we are in that difficult position when we have not received what we have asked for, what is our response? If we find ourselves thinking we didn't believe enough, or we didn't pray enough, or we we didn't do xyz, then that's the red flag that our focus is on our own efforts (works) rather than on Him.  We have fallen into what the quote above is talking about, and we've brought works into our faith. (And yes, faith without works is dead...but that's because works are supposed to be the natural result of faith, not the thing that makes faith real or causes our faith to grow.)

The only focus worth putting on ourselves is the spotlight that searches our hearts. Have we been obedient? Have we repented of what He has exposed inside of us? And have we truly made Him our Lord?  If the answer to those is yes, then the focus needs to go right back on Him.

The only reason my prayers are effective is because He has made me  righteous.

Even when I don't know how to pray, His Spirit prays for  me!

Because He set me free, I can praise Him.

Because His grace has enabled me to obey, His promises stand in my life.

Again, it's all about Him! 


We have to be oh-so-careful, though, because I can guarantee that, no sooner will we put our focus back on Him, than the devil will whisper, "Look. God's not answering your prayer. You're not focusing on Him enough." And before we know it, he'll have enticed us to turn this whole focusing-thing into another work that we have to achieve or else.

The fact is...we will never pray "enough," believe "enough," focus "enough," or do anything enough to guarantee anything. But that is as it should be, because He is the One who Is, and Was, and Always Will Be. And if we could do it, or if we did know what we always needed (and when), then we wouldn't need Him.

And He delights in us needing Him!

"Why so downcast, oh my soul. Put your hope in God!" -Ps. 42:11


*Note: If you'd like to hear the message this guest speaker shared two weeks ago, click this link to download it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Finding the victory...

I sat down to share something that I feel the Lord really wants me to share, and I'm realizing that it's more than I can/should share in one post. And so, for today, I am focusing on the biggest lesson that is filling my heart right now. If God permits, I'll share the rest in the next few posts.

These lessons all have to deal with spiritual warfare. If you're not sure what to think about that term, then consider this lesson more about dealing with whatever troubles the devil sends against you.

These are not complicated or scary-sounding lessons. In fact, I'm coming to believe that the devil has deceived us into making spiritual warfare much more complicated and threatening than it really is.

Why do I believe this? Because of a lesson the Holy Spirit guided me in teaching my 10-year-old at 11:00 pm last week (which means it had to be pretty simple). This lesson is, I believe, the foundation of all spiritual warfare. That is, the most important lesson necessary for fighting any attack we face.

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

Like many 10-year-olds, my precious one sometimes struggles with fear at night. My other children have struggled with this occasionally as well, so I'm raising my children to know that fear must leave in the name of Jesus. Fear, you see, is a spirit...and a very powerful one!

Verses such as these are a part of my children's normal lives:

Fear not, for I am with you.
If God is for us, who can be against us?
God has not given you a spirit of fear, but instead He has given you a spirit of love, and power, and a sound mind.
Submit to God, resist the devil, and He will flee from you.
Be anxious (fearful) for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
He who abides in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress,
My God in whom I trust!
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
For you have made the LORD, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.
For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
“With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.” 

But last week after I found her crying in the dark, she confessed to me, "Mommy, I do pray those Bible verses, but sometimes I still feel afraid."

How well I can identify!

And so I prayed and asked the Lord for wisdom in how to answer her unspoken doubts and questions.

This is when the Holy Spirit began teaching.

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

What do we adults do when we try to exercise our authority against the enemy (aka the devil), and we don't see immediate results? Maybe we're fighting fear and trying to trust. Maybe we're praying for healing or provision. Maybe we're fighting some other kind of attack.

Sometimes results aren't immediate, and we're faced with the question, "What do I do now?"


Several common answers that I've heard preached went through my head, but there's nothing quite like teaching a lesson to a child to show you exactly what solutions are not going to work. But if Jesus said to come to Him like a child, then shouldn't God's real answer be something that can be communicated simply to a child?


God answered my plea for guidance by opening my eyes to how the devil was attacking my daughter. I saw instantly that it's the very same thing we do.

They're scared of monsters. We tell them there are no monsters, and they tell us what it looks like in the dark.  They're scared of the darkness, and they tell us how they can't see and that it seems like something is hiding in the dark. I tell my daughter that God is bigger and stronger, and she says, "I know, but the darkness is still scary."

What was the devil successfully getting her to do?

She was focusing on the problem. And the devil was using it as an open door to fuel the fear that we were trying to stand against.

As soon as I saw this, the Spirit reminded me of these verses:

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
The Bible says that we are to lift up our eyes off of our troubles and instead center our focus on the One who will rescue us! We are to acknowledge and remind ourselves of who He is and what He has done!

And so I pointed out to her that she was still thinking mostly about her fear. I told her that we needed to focus on how big and powerful God is instead. I told her that were going to remember Bible stories that she knew.

Immediately, the Spirit reminded me of the story of Elisha and his servant, when the king of Aram surrounded the city with his army to capture Elisha. (I couldn't remember which enemy it was until I looked it up.) It's in 2 Kings 6:2-20, but here's how it goes in the words the Spirit gave me.

The king of Aram was warring against the king of Israel, and like most battles, surprise attacks were involved. The only problem for the king of Aram was that every time he planned a surprise attack, the Lord told Elisha where and when it would be. Then Elisha told the king of Israel, who made sure his men were prepared. Eventually, the king of Aram figured out what was happening, and he immediately decided that Elisha was a bigger threat to him than anyone else!

Not long after, Elisha's servant got up in the morning and looked out over the city, only to see something that horrified him. The entire city was surrounded by the enemy army. He was instantly filled with fear, and he ran to Elisha asking, "What shall we do?"

Elisha, on the other hand, was not afraid. Why? He said, "Fear not! Those who are with us are more than those who are with them!"

Look at the difference! The servant's eyes were totally focused on the problem. A problem, I might add, that was 1000 time greater than he was and that seemed totally insurmountable.

Elisha, on the other hand, kept his eyes firmly on God. He never forgot the size and power of the God he served.

The servant, though, was evidently having some trouble getting his eyes off of the massively-huge problem and onto the God that was much, much bigger and more powerful. And so Elisha prayed, "Lord, open his eyes that he may see."

And the servant's eyes were opened so that he saw that the mountains were completely covered with horses and chariots of fire. The city may have been surrounded by the enemy, but the enemy was surrounded by an even greater force!

I'd like to point out that the Bible does not say that Elisha was able to see army of the Lord. Perhaps he did, but I think it's more likely that he didn't. The Bible only says that the servant saw that army. But from the very first moment that Elisha knew that the army of Aram was there, he had no fear, because his focus was on God, and he knew who God was and the power at His disposal.

My daughter and I turned the lights back off, and I laid down beside her. I almost began to tell her what story to think about, but then the Holy Spirit stopped me. Let Me lead her in this, He said.

And so I asked her, "What other Bible stories can you think of?" She'd been listening to Esther, and she began telling me what God did for His people. Then she talked about the woman who touched Jesus' garment and was healed and the little girl who was raised from the dead. She told me about when Peter and John healed the lame man at the Gate Beautiful and how amazing it is to her that God would use people to heal other people like that.

And as she focused on the scriptures that the Holy Spirit brought to her mind, fear totally left.

Yes, we used our authority to command fear to leave. But the victory came, not because of our authority, but because of who our God is. After all, the only reason we have any authority at all is because of who He is. And as she remembered who God really was, the devil lost the tool he was using to torment her.

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

What about us? We do the same thing when we've asked God to provide, yet we still continue to stare at that account balance. (Or lack thereof.)  We do it when we're sick and the pervading thoughts running through our mind are how sick we are and how behind we're getting on everything we need to do.

What we are not doing is lifting our eyes to the Lord and focusing on who He is.  We are all-too-often acting as the Israelite army was when the Philistines sent Goliath against Israel. They were so focused on the size of the giant that they totally forgot about the size of their God. David, on the other hand, knew that Goliath's size made absolutely no difference whatsoever. He knew that God could deliver Goliath into His hands just as easily as any other normal-sized enemy. He'd grown into the habit of trusting God, focusing on Him, and watching God prove His power and lovingkindness. Just read the Psalms and you'll see. Over and over again, David begins his song by stating his troubles, and he winds up totally focused on God and His goodness and His power.

Elisha and David weren't the only ones. I could list dozens of others... Daniel... Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego... Paul. Even Martha, for Jesus had her take her eyes off of the fact that her brother had died so she could confess who He was.

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

What problem are you facing? Does it seem that no solution could possibly exist? Are you having a hard time believing that God would actually do whatever it seems must happen to solve your problem?

No matter! God does not need you to find a solution. If it seems there's only one way out and it's closed, rest assured that He is infinitely capable of opening that door. Of course, He is also infinitely capable doing something completely different that you've never thought of! Look at the extremely unorthodox way He dealt with the armies of Aram! He is also capable of carrying you through that problem instead of taking you out of it. Or He might show you that what you think is the problem is just a disguise for something far deeper.

But none of that matters. Not really. What matters is who He is. Jesus promised that we'd have troubles. But He also assured us that He has overcome! (John 16:33)

So don't look at the problem. Don't even waste time looking for or at solutions. Lift your eyes to the One who is your solution. There is nothing else worthy of our attention and our focus, for there is nothing and no one who has promised so much. And there is no one more capable of fulfilling His promises.

Open your Bible and read whatever Scriptures or stories that the Holy Spirit brings to your mind. Begin listing every attribute of God you can think of. Turn on the worship songs that minister the most to you... songs that you can echo with every fiber of your being and proclaim the goodness and greatness of the God who knew you before the dawn of time.

For He is good! And He is powerful. And He is faithful and wise, and He loves you with an everlasting love.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Worship is...

It's late at night, and I've been sitting here in the dark for over two hours, fighting a sinus infection and worshiping in various ways. You see...last Sunday once again fanned the flames of the hunger for worship in my heart.

I was only a teenager when I first experienced God’s presence in worship...and it marked me for life. I have never been the same since that day. I am constantly hungering for more of it. Granted, the desire ebbs and flows, but every time I go to church...every time we have practice...there’s that hope inside of me that maybe this time God will really show up again...or that He’ll manifest Himself more than last time...maybe even more than the most I’ve ever experienced, for I know there’s always more. Always more.

But even if He doesn’t manifest His presence, even being there on the fringes is worth it. It's worth anything and everything on earth.


I'm adding a series of videos to my Must Watch page. This is Darlene Zcheche, and here, she talks about three things:
1) What is worship?
2) The power of worship
3) How do I begin my journey as a truthful worshiper?

Should you watch it? I'll let you answer that question for yourself. Would you answer "yes" to any of these questions?

-- Do you feel like you don't "get" what worship is all about?
-- Do you feel like singing in church is a waste of time?
-- Do you want to know what the Bible says about worship?
-- Do you want to experience in worship what you've heard others talk about?
-- Have you rejected the worship experience as being false because you've (rightly) seen people pretending?
-- Do you find yourself wishing you knew what to do when life gets tough?

Or maybe...
-- Do you love worship but sometimes have a hard time explaining to people why?

Be blessed:





My favorite quote:
Worship is the inevitable result of the created catching a glimpse of the reality of the Creator…and then responding.

Friday, September 30, 2011

When God shows up...

I've wanted to share some things for a few weeks now about a certain question that many of us have asked.

We see people get sick and die, and we ask it. We see people going bankrupt, and we wonder. Many things cause us to want to know...

Where's the power?

You know what I'm talking about, right? That power that Peter walked in when people laid his handkerchiefs on the road, and when he walked through the Gate Beautiful and said, "Get up and walk." The power that Paul displayed when he flung the poisonous serpent off into the fire, which made those on the island think he was a superhero god.

We all acknowledge that God is a God of power, but many of us will also say that we haven't actually seen much of that power. We want to see the blind healed and the lame walk. We want to see the dead raised.

My question for all those asking that question is this:

Are our priorities wrong?


Jesus did spend much time healing, but is that what He was focused on?

How many verses in the Bible does he talk about healing the sick? I'm sure you can bring several to mind. I can. But how many verses are filled with Him talking about His kingdom? How often did He talk about righteousness and loving others and demonstrating that love? How often did He talk about knowing the Father? I can bring chapters and chapters of those to mind.

Sooo....

Am I saying we're not supposed to be wanting to see His power? Not at all! But maybe we should desire more often to see His power active in the spiritual (and far more important) aspects of life. Stirring up His love in our hearts. Working victory over sin in our lives. Filling us with a supernatural love so overwhelming that the world's opinion of Christians was radically changed. Opening the eyes of the spiritually blind.

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We got a taste of God's power and presence last Sunday. Now that I've had a week to think about it and let the euphoria of His presence settle in and wear off, I'm thinking about two opposing thoughts:

1) Many of us will testify about how God "showed up" in our worship service on Sunday.
2) Many more could have been there and thought we were all looney.

You see...there was no outward display of power or signs and wonders. There wasn't really anything you could put in a newspaper or quantify. Rather, many of us can simply testify of His presence. We could also tell of miracles inside our souls that were wrought in a few poignant moments between worship songs...miracles that hours (and perhaps years) of self-help and teaching could not have accomplished.

One would speak of things never understood that suddenly made sense. Another could speak of restoration, peace, and refreshing joy. Another might use the image of a fountain in a desert to try to explain what God did in a dry and weary heart. For me, I was once more given a supernatural taste of something that I've spent this last year waiting on...wondering if that season of my life was over, or if I would taste it once more, some day. And Sunday was the day God chose.

This is God's power, but it wasn't displayed in the way that most of us talk and think about seeing God's power. It was a quieter display of power that could only be seen through the eyes of the Spirit. But how blessed were those of us who experienced it and recognized it!

I wonder what would happen if the church as a whole earnestly sought to see God's power in this way? What if we taught and preached more about what it means and what it results in? What if every time we hungered to see God's power heal someone's body, we hungered even more strongly to see Him heal their soul?

I know some of us do hunger for that...

But what if we all did?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The dream giver...

I've had dreams a lot on my mind lately. Not the while-sleeping type (even though my pastor has been talking about those), but the while-awake variety...dreams of visiting far off places...dreams of accomplishing things and becoming things.

I've had lots of those kinds of dreams in my life. Some of them have faded as time went by. Others have morphed into something different. Still others, God has fulfilled the substance and the desire behind the dream in a way I never could have dreamed of.

Many of the dreams I've dreamed over the years have been downright selfish. Surprisingly, God has even granted some of those.

But over the course of this last year or so, I've discovered a new joy and fulfillment in ministry. No...I have no big, in-front-of-people ministry like many people think of when they hear that word. I'm just talking about the ministry we're all called to...that of loving people. Actively, sacrificially, (and in some inexplicably way effortlessly), distributing love...love that seems to flow from God to them, depositing wells of joy in my heart on its way through.

That joy is feeding a new dream. It's a dream birthed and fed and only possible through supernatural love, and it's a dream only possible in the natural if/when God approves and provides the resources, the way, the connections, the grace, the approval, the support, and the stamina.

But I don't doubt He has all of those things. He is, after all, God.



I've only shared bits and pieces of this dream with only a few people.Why?  Well...it would so completely have to be a God-thing, that it just seems pointless to do much other than watch. And wait.  To see if this dream was God-breathed or not. To see if the current version of this dream is just a shadow of what He's intending. To see if it morphs into something that is still currently beyond my wildest dreams. After all...the only One who could orchestrate the fulfillment of this dream is also beyond my wildest dreams. It's also a dream that would involve a lot of life-pouring, and I know that only works when God is the one behind it.

And so I wait.

But I've been handed--in a total God-sort-of-way-- a chance to go to a conference next week that might...just maybe...be a thread that is part of the fabric of this dream. I'm in a bit of awe about how it dropped in my lap, but in a quiet sort of way. It's hard to get too excited about one small thread. Yet it stirs a bit of joy and curiosity in my spirit just to watch that thread float down from heaven.

Maybe all of this is why this other blog post ministered to me this morning. I haven't followed many other blogs lately, but this morning I ran down my feed reader to see what was there, and for some not-really-all-that-unknown reason, my eyes landed on a post from Justin and Trisha titled "Dream Releaser, not Giver."

Justin and Trisha's blog is more centered on their amazing marriage testimony and ministry, but sometimes they post on other things. Like today's.

Justin talked about his son and the discovery that his son's dream was less his son's, and more his own. And so he asked about his son's dreams, and what he heard floored him. His son's dream is, for a 12-year-old, about the size that my dream is for me.  You see, this 12-year-old dreams of raising $30,000 for Africa and missions.

And you know what God whispered to Justin's heart?

“Your job is to be a dream releaser for your sons, not a dream giver. I am the giver of dreams. I want you to release them.”

In following my resolution, I asked myself, "Is this Biblical?" I believe it is.

Consider Phil. 2:13. My NAS says, "For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." Several other translations interpret it as "It is God who produces in you the desires and actions that please Him." I can agree with that. The sort of dreams that please God certainly aren't going to come from anywhere else!

God also promises that He gives us the desires of our heart, if we seek Him first. It seems fairly obvious to me that the only way God could/would give that kind of promise is because, as we seek Him, the desires of our heart become aligned with the desires of His heart. And if you want to know God's desires, just read the Bible!  I think that 12-year-old is going to watch God make his dream come true.

There's also these other two little verses I really like.

Exodus 31 and 1 Kings 7:13 talk about the men who would craft His tabernacle and build His temple.

Imagine these men with the skills to create beautiful things out of gold, silver, bronze, and the best of materials.  But they weren't kings. I hardly think it's likely that they had these sorts of materials laying around to do whatever they wanted to with them. Most likely they carved things out of stone and clay and dreamed. I know, because I've done it. You can't have a skill without wishing you could stretch it's boundaries and see just what you're capable of.

If only I had the money to buy the silks I've heard of! Wow, the way they drape and hang and shimmer...I could create such beautiful things with them!  


If only I had a bunch of gold! It's so much softer than this stone...the things I could create with it would be so incredible! And bronze! This tiny piece is amazing to work with. If only I had enough to create this idea I have! But it's not like I'll ever be able to afford that. I'm no king.

But then came the day when the leader of their people called them, and their entire nation supplied the gold and silver and bronze...which just so happened to have once been the wealth of Egypt. Then came the day when the richest king in the world called them and placed the greatest treasury in the world at their disposal...to create their masterpieces, as worship to God.

But this wasn't just them dreaming and God choosing to grant them their dreams. This was God placing the dreams their hearts to begin with.  God said, “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship. And behold, I Myself have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you..."

Wow!


God is a dream-giver!

He's also a dream fulfiller.


Almost five years ago, I posted here about a new song I'd found. It has the line, "God of my dreams" in it. I wrote:
That phrase, “God of all my dreams” spoke to me so much.

It has a double meaning.

One meaning places God inside the dream, and one places Him outside of it… one meaning originates within us, and the other within God. Our part of it is to make God the God of our dreams… to keep our dreams for our future and for our children and our loved ones submitted to Him and His will... to make Him the center of our dreams.

BUT… oh the wonder of realizing that God is infinitely capable of making the dreams of our heart come true! He is so much bigger than our dreams. Though we should place Him inside the center of our dreams, He can’t be contained there. In fact, He holds our future and the realization of those dreams in the palm of His hand! In reality, all of this is nothing more than what Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I guess it just ministered to me in a fresh way, coming through a song.

I still love that song.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Still Waiting...

I only posted once last month. I think that’s a first in the five years I’ve been blogging here. The reason…well, I’m actually not too sure. In some ways, I “feel like” I’ve taken a bunch of major steps backwards in my walk with God. I've definitely gotten lost a number of times.

And yet, there are little things here and there that are remarkably clear and perfect. Little things that I so clearly see God's hand in and hear His voice in that I cannot doubt. And I wonder if I'm still in that same season of emptying that I sensed back in May. Except sometimes I see things sprouting.

And so mostly, I'm just waiting. Waiting on Him to give me direction. Waiting on Him to give me new revelations. Waiting on Him to reveal the next layer of the new me that He's been working on for so many years.

Perhaps that's what this year is for me...a year of waiting.

If anyone's really following me closely enough and cares, you might find it interesting to read what I wrote two days before the end of last year. Among other things, I shared this little book called Waiting on God that my friend had given me, and I talked about the test of whether or not we will seek God and want Him even when He doesn't reward us with wow moments.

Here I am, eight months later, still waiting for many of the same things.

I've woken up at 5 or 6 am the last few mornings. I haven't gotten out of bed, but I've done a lot of talking with God. A lot. A have all sorts of things swirling around in me during these hours when I'm awake, but not yet awake to the day's necessities. I can't say that I've heard God speaking very much during these hours, yet I sort of feel Him rearranging my insides, if that makes any sense. By the time 7:30 rolls around and I need to get out of bed, I feel so full of expectation and joy and peace and wonder...and then the day floods in, and I can hardly remember what I was talking with God about.

The one thing I do know is that two songs have filled my heart during these times. You've probably heard both on the radio. One is Lincoln Brewster's "Reaching for You."  The other is a song that, quite frankly, didn't "do much for me" when I first heard it on the radio.

But then I saw it live. Then I realized the reality of what the song is all about. It's not a song for listening to. It's a song for participating in.

Do you want God? Do you want to experience His Presence? Are you willing to wait for Him?




Thursday, August 11, 2011

Our refuge...

Psalm 46 is full of such wonderful reminders in days like these. Today, I just want to share it:

God is our refuge and strength
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

How I wish that more of the world knew how to hold onto those words and trust!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

His lovingkindness and light...

It's...interesting...how many times lately I've started to write a post, only to end up tongue-tied (or maybe finger-tied) part way through. I've been reading a lot of Psalms, though...and I keep finding such precious little nuggets of wisdom and blessing and soul-food in them. I think I'm going to just share some of them.


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Psalm 147

7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
Sing praises to our God on the lyre,
8 Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who provides rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.
9 He gives to the beast its food,
And to the young ravens which cry.
10 He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.
11 The LORD favors those who fear Him,
Those who wait for His lovingkindness.
Verse 7 is the start of this stanza or paragraph, and it's basically saying, "Let's praise Him and thank Him and sing to Him with music, because..."

Verses 8 and 9 sum up how the entire length of the food chain--from grass, to herbivorous, to scavengers--get what they need for life from Him. According to these verses, even the water cycle--one of the most basic and necessary things upon with all life relies--doesn't function without Him.

Furthermore, it doesn't say, "He set all these things in motion and then stepped back to let the universe exist without His interference." No, it's all in present tense, because this is something He is doing and will always be doing until writes "The End." Colossians 1 confirms this, when it not only says that all things were created by Him and for Him, but then it goes on to make sure we know that "in Him all things hold together."

So without God being who He is and doing what He does, life would completely fall apart.

Then verses 10 and 11 move on to you and I. I think that both "the strength of the horse" and "the legs of man" refer to us working and doing things in our own power. And what does God say about it? He does not delight in it! Instead, "He favors those who fear Him and wait on His lovingkindness." This reminds me of all the lessons learned in that little book, Waiting on God, that I told you about. I am coming to see more and more how much God really does want to supply all our needs...how He wants us to spend our energy and time in seeking Him and in obeying what He's asking us to do, then He supplies perfect balance of supernatural provision and supernatural grace and strength to do the work that He lays in front of us. It's all Him! (At least, He wants it to be.)

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Psalm 36
7 How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
8 They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
9 For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.
This is this morning's find. It kind of talks about the same thing, doesn't it? We "drink our fill of abundance" and "of the river of His delights."

Lest we get an unbalanced idea of how God wants to bless us, though... This drinking of abundance and delights takes place when we take refuge in Him. All too often, our pride gets in the way, and for some strange reason, it is sometimes hard to take refuge in Him. We want to dwell in the misery and rage and re-hash over and over again what others have done to us. I don't think there's any way to drink of His abundance if our mouths are busy complaining about life's trials!

It also promises the river of God's delights, not the river of fleshly delights, or the river of what we think God's delights will look like. We've got to trust Him in what's really a delight and a blessing.

Finally, that last line is just full of meaning and possibility, isn't it? In Your light we see light. Where is His light? How do we get in His light?

Psalm 104:2 says He is clothed in light. Psalm 119:130 says that "the unfolding of Your words brings light." Isaiah 2:5 talks about the light of the LORD, and Isaiah 60:20 says we will have the LORD for an everlasting light. James 1:17 says He is the Father of Lights. I don't see any other way to get "in His light" than to enter His presence.

So this verse is saying the same thing I found in Psalm 73, the other day. That it is only in His presence that things will make sense...that we can see the truth...that the darkness disappears from our eyes. We need His light to see clearly.

And that means that any time I don't understand...any time I don't know what to do, or where to go...instead of spending time and energy trying to figure things out, it would be far better to spend that  energy and time waiting on Him in His presence, where His light will cast all shadows away.

He is so good!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Rock and truth and being spat out...

It was pointed out last week that I hadn’t posted in two weeks. ::grins:: So here I am.

These last four weeks have been full for me, though. Full spiritually. I even sat down and wrote out a post two weeks ago (I think it was), but I didn’t feel released to actually post it. Maybe there was some error in it, or maybe the timing wasn’t right…I don’t know. So it joined the small collection of other un-posted posts.

Most of what these weeks have been full of, though, has been learning…having many beliefs strengthened and others challenged and some blown clear out of the water. The result of all of this is two deeper convictions that might, at first glance, seem contradictory.

The first is how vital it is that every single thing be tested against the Word of God. In John 17:17, Jesus said to the Father, "Your word is truth." If I do not hold fast to the Word of God as the only truth, then I am inviting myself to fall into error. And the biggest errors start with the smallest twists. I have discovered quite a few things recently that are taught as truths, that there is absolutely no support for in the Bible (that I or other preachers I respect can find). Some of them have come from twisted verses, and others have come as the result of man's if-that-then-this reasoning...even though the result of that reasoning is contradictory to other verses. And trying to stand on a false truth isn't going to get me anywhere.


I am enjoying a new appreciation for messages filled with Scripture that backs up every single thing spoken, for it definitely saves me from wondering where so-and-so got got such-and-such from the Bible. I beg your forgiveness as well, for I have not always done this myself, on this blog. I am also going to hold myself to a higher standard from now on. If I can find no scriptural support for something I long to share, then I will not share it until the Lord shows me support in His word for it! I'm talking nitty-gritty details, too. I do not believe it is safe to take a Scriptural truth and then teach implications from that truth unless even those implications can be backed up with Scripture. I've got to test everything I think God is telling me, too. It's not enough to read a truth, have a well-known Bible story come to mind, and take that as an example. I need to test even that by looking up and re-reading the story. (If you think that's extreme, keep reading...I demonstrated my own point while writing this.)

If you catch me breaking this standard from here on out, please point it out to me!

Second, I am discovering that our actions matter just as much as our theology. They almost matter more, for as James says, faith without actions is dead. And according to that verse, there's a lot of Christians walking around on dead faith!

There's a new link over there on the left called, "I think everyone should listen to..." Right now, the messages on there are YouTube videos from Francis Chan, but I'll be adding more from other places on different subjects. You know those verses in Revelation about the church of Laodicea? The church that is neither hot nor cold and whom God said He would spit out of His mouth? Almost every Christian I know believes that the American church is part of that church...yet Francis Chan is the first person I've ever listened to with the guts to actually help us face what that means.  He does it in some of those messages with so much love, and he does it in his book which I just read. (And just in case the devil just whispered to you that it's a money-making thing to sell the book...I'll tell you that all author royalties of the book--which is a bestseller--go to the Isaiah 58 fund which is a ministry that reaches to those in poverty. And no, it's not Francis Chan's ministry. He gives the proceeds to someone else's ministry.)

The paradox in this is that our theology matters for us because it puts the truth inside us. If what comes out of us is based on what is inside us, then it matters very much how much truth is in there.  I will not be judged according to whether or not so-and-so's theology is off...it only matters to me how much truth is inside me. Because whatever amount of truth I have been given, that is what I have to act upon.

And what am I doing with it? Am I hiding it under a bushel? (Luke 8:16) Am I burying it in a field? (Luke 19:11-27) Am I waiting to be spat out? I'm afraid that, for years, that's exactly what I was doing, and I praise and thank God that His mercy is shoving me off that lukewarm burner to a place where I must choose to either jump into the boiling pot or slip into the freezer.

I wrote a post awhile back about living a life poured out. God's really been impressing me that this is only the beginning. I don't know where He's leading me, but He's not letting me sit still! He's not even letting me remain in what used to be a new step of faith. To remain where I am and only do what I am doing would be direct disobedience...while to obey is to open my arms to blessings and gifts beyond my comprehension. I see many others that He's leading in the same way.


How about the parable Jesus told of the house on the rock? He said...

Okay. I was about to equate the rock to truth, and why we need to get into the Bible to know His truth, for I'm pretty sure that's how I've always heard that parable used. But I thought of my new resolution and went to look it up. And thank goodness I did (illustrating that point I made earlier), for that's not what Jesus said! Here it is, from Matthew 7:
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
Did the same thing jump out at you, that jumped out at me just now?  Here it is again:
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
You know what that means? It means that, until recently, I was that foolish man. And all the doctrine I knew wasn't benefiting me in the slightest.

Do you think I am interpreting it right if I say this means that, when the storms of life come, it is not our doctrine that enables us to stand upon His grace through those storms? That it is whether or not we have acted upon His words that enables us to stand? I'm not sure how else to interpret that parable.

It goes right along with James's statements that faith without works is dead, doesn't it? Here are verses 14-17 of James 2:
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
I like what Francis Chan pointed out here. These verses are not discussing the differences between faith and works.They are discussing the differences between faith that results in works, and faith with no works. The difference between a living faith, and a dead faith. Kind-of like how Jesus didn't talk about someone who found a rock and builds no house on it. He spoke the parable as though we don't have a choice about whether or not to build a house...just by living, we're building. And that sounds quite a bit like another parable He told, doesn't it?


Thus, you see what my life has been like lately. A question, which leads to looking up a scripture, which leads to having some beliefs strengthened and connected with half-a-dozen others, while other beliefs are found to be without any Truth behind them.

I pray that this is a season of correction and re-alignment, and that when the seasons change, I will be closer to my Lord and that much more willing and able to be His handmaiden.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What keeps us from knowing God...

I have two videos to share today.

I know many don't have time to watch videos...yet these two, together, strike something deep within my heart. I long to know God...and because the very little I do know of Him is so indescribably awesome and life-changing, I long for others to know Him as well, for He is the only thing that satisfies the longings of our soul.

Yet we get in our own way of discovering it.

These videos are both of Francis Chan sharing. Some of you may know more about him than I do...but frankly, that matters little to me. What does matter to me is that every word that he speaks in these two videos echoes what is in my own heart.

This first video is similar to what I've posted before, using space and the solar system to prove the smallness of us and the bigness of God. But instead of talking about the size of the stars, he powerfully introduces us to the size of our solar system...our galaxy...our 'little' corner of space.

As Psalm 19 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God."

Watch this only if you want to be impressed by how big God is.


Now that you know how big He is...

This second message has very little about erasing hell and/or the book he wrote by that name, compared to what it says about our arrogance and how great it is. (Skip the last minute of the video of you don't want to hear him ask for prayer as he writes the book.)

Some humans use the same arguments to not believe in God that we Christians use to not believe the difficult things in His Word.

I love Francis's heart in this...for as he points out, Psalm 25:9 says that the Lord shows Himself to the humble. I think we all need to dare to face what he's talking about here, if we want to truly know Him.


Does anyone want to share their thoughts?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hope is calling...

I've struggled these last few days with how to wind up the blogger's trip to the Philippines. The post I knew I'd read, I lost and couldn't seem to find, and nothing else seemed "right."

I found it just now.

To all of you who actually read these posts, I want to make sure you know something.

These trips and pictures and stories are not about pity. They're not about being grateful for what you have, either--that's just a side effect. They're also not about money, for there are plenty of opportunities surrounding you, wherever you live, to minister to people there without affecting your budget in the slightest.

No, to me, these blogging trips are all about hope.

I think Tsh's post tells is the best, for Tsh is a woman who has traveled the world and seen a lot. She introduced us last Friday to two teenage sisters who have experienced the power of Jesus to turn their lives around, and then she writes:
My family and I have lived abroad and seen the simplicity of other cultures first-hand. I’ve lived on the Serbo-Kosovar border in the former Yugoslavia, not long after MiloseviƧ swept through with his atrocities. I’ve visited Russian orphanages mere months after the Iron Curtain fell.

But I admit that this week has been the first time I’ve seen real, hard-core, true poverty with HOPE enveloping each of these hearts. These kids, loved on individually by Compassion sponsors, have hope. Their families may live in homes not larger than the bed I’m typing on, but they have hope. You can see it in their eyes.

What about you? It really doesn't matter whether you're struggling to find hundreds of dollars a month to keep your house, or whether you're struggling to earn $1 to put food on a rough wooden table in a shack. Regardless, there is an enemy--the prince of darkness--who does all he can to extinguish hope.

But it's there. It's found in Jesus, and in Jesus alone.

It's not found in a job that'll bring enough to pay all the bills. It's not found in a that special someone you hope to find or think you've found. It's not found in a government that gives help, nor in a government that protects freedom. It's not found in a clean bill of health, and it's not even found in a world where everyone is treated right.

Only in Jesus.

Sometimes, I think our 1st world is spiritually darker than theirs. After all...which is darker? A world that has no hope except Jesus, or a world that is filled to overflowing with empty hopes that lead to nothingness. Which is easier? To accept the true Hope when it is the first ever offered to you, or to believe in a hope that someone says is real, even though it looks a lot like the fakes that have always burned you in the past?

If you have no hope and are seeking it...go back through these posts. Read all the Compassion Blogger posts if you like. If your life feels as dark as theirs, admit it! And don't feel guilty about it...hopelessness is no respecter of persons or of income levels.

But find the hope. It's there. The same Jesus that offered it to them, offers it freely to you as well.

And if you have found the hope, then let your light shine! The world around you needs to see it, and the world 10,000 miles away needs to see it. Don't ask God if He wants you to do something; ask Him what He wants you to do. And do it. For in giving, you will receive even more.

Maybe you'll discover God's finger pointing somewhere near you.

If not, then maybe the convenience of sponsoring a child in poverty is where God is asking you to start. (Yes, I said convenience. $38/month isn't going to go far to help many people in our country, but God can use it to turn an entire family's life around when it's accompanied by willingness, prayers, letters, and commitment. Even without the $38, you can provide the other four things to a child that's getting the money alone...just call Compassion and ask if you can be a correspondent to a child whose sponsor isn't writing. Trust the bloggers from the trip...it makes just as much a difference as the money does...possibly more. And it doesn't even have to cost more than one stamp, because you'll be able to send letters from Compassion's website. Or go to Tsh's post and discover six small sacrifices that could make that $38/month possible.)

If you already sponsor a child, go write another letter.

But no matter what, let God show you that His heart is that you will know what is the hope of His calling...and discover how that calling is going to somehow fit in with His heartbeat until you are showing others what is the hope of His calling in their lives.

Hope is a powerful thing.


Friday, June 03, 2011

Standing out, being outstanding...

More from the Compassion Bloggers trip to the Philippines...

You know what I think blesses and benefits me most as I follow along with these Compassion Blogger trips? It's the clarity I gain in my spiritual vision. It's the dividing line between what is really blessing and what isn't always. It's the finger of God pointing to what hope really is...for in our culture, there are so many things masquerading as hope that we often wind up chasing the wrong thing for most of our lives.

This post has two aspects to it.

Stephanie, who blogs at Keeper of the Home, wrote yesterday about how easily and quickly we in the United States forget the poverty that others live in on the other side of the world. But she encourages us...

[The kids] do not forget what sponsorship means to them. They do not forget how it has changed their lives.

Did you know that every child that we have asked can tell us the name of their sponsors and where they live? I had no idea. They know how many children their sponsors have, and what they look like, and often what they do for work. They anxiously await each new letter from their sponsors and treasure each one of them.

That is so encouraging! (I went and wrote my kids again yesterday. And today, after I read that only 7000 of the 57000 kids that are sponsored in the Philippines get a letter in any given month, I called to see if I can be a correspondent for another child. How can I not?)

Stephanie goes on to write:
Today we met 4 of the most phenomenal, Jesus-loving young women I have ever met. Meet Maann, Myra, Kleng, and Faith.

If you've ever wanted to know what the results of child sponsorship are, look no further. This is la creme de la creme. These four are Leadership Development Program scholars, a rigorous program designed to offer further opportunity for children who have been sponsored and are showing excellent potential as they graduate from high school.

The students must first be recommended by their child development center workers, who have noticed academic potential, leadership ability and Christian maturity in them. Then, they go through an intensive application process. Once selected, they receive free tuition and school supplies to go complete a university degree while receiving training and mentorship in servant leadership.

The results? Nothing less than phenomenal. As these precious daughters of the King each shared their stories and testimonies and dreams with us today at lunch, I and probably half of the other bloggers could not stop the tears from streaming down our faces.

Don't let the beautiful, put-together, confident faces in these pictures fool you. These girls lived in dire poverty. In fact, they still do. We visited two of their homes this afternoon. Walking into their slum, down a narrow, pitch black walkway barely wider than my shoulders, I was actually afraid.

I had the privilege of talking in depth today with Kleng...

Would you like to be encouraged and inspired by Kleng?
Go ahead and meet her...


I think these kids could teach me a lot.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Hope and thankfulness...

I'm not posting much today. Just a video and a question.



The question is this. Have you ever been thankful because the fish swimming through your flooded home provided the meal you needed that day?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A house made by Compassion...

This is a post by Emily at Chatting at the Sky...

A House made by compassion...

I kept my hotel key in my pocket all day today. At first it wasn’t on purpose, just a convenient place to keep it after eating breakfast. Later, as we sat listening to the children sing at the Child Sponsorship Development Program about an hour away from our hotel, I noticed the outline of my keycard in my pants. I started to take it out and put it in my backpack, but something stopped me, and so I left it.

Five hours later, I was on a boat with one of our Compassion trip leaders in a more rural area than yesterday. It was a boat made of styrofoam, fastened together with boards between. It was big enough for three of us to sit on (very carefully) and one person to push in the back, standing with a bamboo stick. It was the only way to get from the road to Emily’s house. I thought it couldn’t get worse than Rose Ann’s house in the city yesterday. Turns out, it kind of can. If you add water.

As Emily continues...going there and reading this isn't about guilt. It's about hope.

Go see for yourself...

Is this a sudden flood to have done this to their home? Well...actually...water in the home is normal for 9 months of the year. As in mothers-wear-rubber-boots-while-they-cook. But this is all they can afford. Yet, there is joy and laughter. And there is hope. And a mama over there and a mama from here share common hopes and dreams for their pretty daughters.

Go meet these precious people...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Always a place for gifts...

I'm one of the artistic type of people. I love to make things beautiful...with fabric...with a piano or keyboard-that-places-an-orchestra-at-my-fingertips...with words...with a mouse and screen and vectors and colors...with website coding.

But so often, I wonder how God can really use art. It often seems so very unpractical and unnecessary in the grander scheme of things...even though I know that these things I love to do stem from a gift He's given me.

Maybe that's why this photo post from Keely blessed me so much...

A Melody to God. . .

As we were doing the normal “tour the Compassion Development Center” this morning I couldn't help but notice all the bright colors covering the walls.

Some filled with writing, some with diagrams. . . but every wall was Art.

We walked into a room that had a handful of beautifully painted canvases displayed on the shelves. . .I was in awe and quickly knew someone at the project had talent and sees talent.

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Admiring the art I asked one of the project staff members who the art teacher was. . .I had to meet them!

With a big smile they said “Our director Susan, she is an artist.”

Go meet Susan and see how God is using her gift to heal...


Or if you'd like to see more photos from a photo blogger along for the trip:

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion