Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Fire, the Light

"Let us serve God with thankfulness 
in the ways which please Him, 
but always with reverence and holy fear. 
For it is perfectly true that 
our ‘God is a burning fire’. 
Heb 12
There are many ways to think about God 
as a consuming, or burning, fire.
We sing about the refiner's fire 
and our desire to be holy.
At times I can hesitate to sing those kinds of words
because I am afraid for what I may be asking.
I was just reading George Macdonald, 
and he challenged me to think differently.
"The man who loves God, 
and is not yet pure, courts the burning of God.
It is not always torture.
The fire shows itself sometimes
as light..."
"The Light was the real thing: 
Every person entering Life 
he brings into Light." 
John 1
This day, Lord, may I simply walk in Your light.
I want to serve you with a thankful heart--
You have given me Your life and this is a new day.
A holy fear comes out of knowing You
as You really are.
If I walk in the light, as You are light, 
You keep me cleansed.
And my ways are pleasing to You.
Refiner's fire, my heart's one desire
is to be holy, set apart for you, 
ready to do Your will.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Like a Child

"For You have hidden these things 
from the wise and learned, 
and revealed them to little children." Matt 11

One of the reasons we are commanded 
to be childlike in our faith 
is that children are free from restrictions of thought. 
Flying, time travel, fairy tale and hero 
are all part of a child's thought life. 
Obstacles signal adventure. 
Characters die and are resurrected 
all the time in cartoons.

I was reading in Isaiah 43 this morning.
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you...
When you pass through the waters, 
I will be with you, and through the rivers, 
they will not overwhelm you. 
When you walk through the fire, 
you will not be burned or scorched, 
nor will the flame kindle upon you..
I am the Lord, your Holy One, 
Who makes a way through the sea 
and a path through the mighty waters..."

Only the childlike can be assured that though we are 
head deep in waters, our Hero is with us.
Though we are in raging rivers, 
our Hero leads the way.
Though we are in a fire, 
our Hero keeps the flame away.

Imagery in the Bible is grand.
The writers were never looking for 
tame language that people could relate to.
They were looking to Christ,
the One whom all language had to describe.
When we imagine biblically,
our reality expands.
Father, help me see You and Your ways 
and walk this day through faith--as a child.
Whatever reasonableness I have picked up
that allows me to discount--even just a little--
the beauty of Your grand narrative
and the truth of Your ways,
would you help me to push it back far enough 
to see You for Who You really are.
Grant me a pure heart
and a childlike faith
that I may see You--for real.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Real Desire

Yet I am always with You; 
You hold me by my right hand. 
Whom have I in heaven but You?    
And earth has nothing I desire besides You. 
God is the strength of my heart    
and my portion forever. 
Psalm 73

When the love of God the Father 
is made known to man,
the response can only be:
You are my only true and real desire.
All other things are shadows of the substance.
As with the dog who sees his reflection in the water 
and drops what he has 
to get what he thinks he sees, 
we lose everything when we let go of that desire.
There is such deception in my own heart
when I say, God, You are my one desire.
The reality is that I desire many things. 
And I have often grasped at a shadow 
only to find that I was left empty 
and longing for something real.
CS Lewis once said, 
He who has God and everything else
has no more than he who has God alone.
I love that;
I want to live like I believe that.
Father, would You amplify this truth in my life.
I want to live as though I truly believed 
I have no desire on earth but You.
May my eyes be trained to see 
the shadow of all else.
And may I hold on with all I have 
to Your great love, 
the substance of all reality.
I want a new level of faith that comes
by a revelation of Your love.
Today I pray, 
"God, reduce me to love!"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mercy

Listening to an old song this morning.
"All I know is I find mercy
All my shame You take from me
All I know Your cross has power
And the blood You shed cleanses me"
Mercy, sometimes it is all we know.
When all else fails and I am not sure what to think, 
I look to Jesus and see what it all cost Him.
And I find mercy and grace for this day.

"But God--so rich is He in His mercy! 
...He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, 
the same new life with which He quickened Him;
it is by grace--His favor and mercy 
which you did not deserve--that you are saved." 
Eph 2
He is rich in mercy and extravagant in love.
All I know is this.
You, God, are merciful.
Because of Your great love,
 I find grace
for every need.



Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bring Us Back

I was just given a CD by Brock Human-- 
The Color of Red.
I had never never heard of him before.
This CD has such a now sound,
a sound that answers the question:
What does it sound like 
when we sing heaven's songs?
The sound produced by an artist
who understands where we are culturally,
by an artist who believes there is ever-present hope,
by an artist who has an honest relationship with God.
This morning I have listened over and over 
to the song, "Silver and Gold."
For my own heart and for this nation,
it is a cry to God,
a cry to "bring us back to You again."
It is the only answer, the only hope we have.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM6DdMhCeqY
To our silver and gold we've bowed down
We bow down to, instead, the Maker of all
Our hearts have lived out 
on the road that's so wide 
that we can't see our Savior at all.
Oh, sing to the captives 
there's rescue in sight
and untangle idols that have
blinded our eyes
Soften our hearts 
so Your rain can get in,
and bring us back to You again.
We've bought into lies
thinking men were so wise
when truth was just passing away.
Not hearing You call to us
"Seek My face,"
but lost in the pain of our ways.
We don't know you Lord
come and cover our shame,
the faith that is lacking 
the doubt that we blame.
Sing to the ashes 
let beauty arise,
the ones with the gnashing and bitter loud cries.
Speak to the wounded that You will rebuild
and bring us back to You 
again.

There's rescue;
let beauty arise.


Friday, November 25, 2011

This Present Moment

One of the cardinal rules of the spiritual life
 is that we are to live exclusively 
in the present moment,
without casting a look beyond.
God will then be your guide;
Fenelon

As we are able to live entirely in the moment, 
we can surrender ourselves into His hands,
because we know that He is only good.
Psalm 37 says, 
"Take delight in the Lord and do good;
and He will give you the desires of your heart...
The Lord makes firm the steps 
of the one who delights in Him."
Lord, I so want to live in
Your presence in the present.
There is enough grace for now.
And, just as the sun rises each new day,
so Your grace will rise anew for tomorrow.
I am so grateful for the life You have given me;
I am so grateful that You have given me Yours.
In this season of busyness and Black Fridays,
I want to delight myself in You,
trusting that You will give me the desires of Your heart.
I want those things of eternal value, 
not forsaking the world, but not being consumed by it.
Make firm my steps this day
that I may walk one with You,
loving You and loving others along the way.
Actively engaged in this present moment
all day long.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

His Light Shines

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, 
but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind."
This morning, I am so grateful
that fear is not our portion.
Some days just move forward, 
minimal turbulence.
Other days, things pop up that jar us a little.
They don't have to be big things, 
just things that point towards
"you had a bad day."
It begins to feel maybe a little dark.
You're not always sure why it feels that way.

We watched Green Lantern last night 
and I was able to see fear as a character.
Parallax gave himself over to the power of fear
and, as he inspired fear in others, 
he would suck the life right out of them.
The Green Lantern got confronted by fear 
and he almost succumbed. 
But he began speaking words of life, 
words of the oath.
"In brightest day, in blackest night...
beware my power, Green Lantern's light."

Sounds a little bit like
"The light shines in the darkness, 
and the darkness has not overcome it."
Parallax described all the things he would destroy,
and Green Lantern saw how much he loved life and others.
He became fearless.
"There is no fear in love; 
perfect love casts out all fear."
Love casts fear out every time.
Lord, thank You for not leaving us in darkness.
I take all thoughts that want to slither in,
and say, "God, You are my light, my life and my love.
I come up with You and declare that 
Your love casts out fear.
Every time.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

This was written--as a song--in the early 1900s.
And it is still with us today.
Because it is true.
As I look at the words in just this first verse,
I see the power of the declaration.
And it becomes my song for this day.
Lord, whatever else I may look at, 
would they be nothing compared to You--
You are the Lord of my heart.
Be my vision above all else.
May everything I look at today 
pale in comparison to "Thou art."
Whatever I might think upon, 
nothing is worthier than my thought of You.
It is the highest thought I could have, any time.
All the time, Your presence is my light.
You never sleep, nor do You slumber.
You are always with me, Your light my life.
Be thou my vision.
My treasure Thou art.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Humble and Thankful

There are a thousand blessings in humility--
for our Lord bestows his grace upon the humble.   
Humble people are mild and peaceful, 
merciful and compassionate; 
they are quiet, cheerful, obedient, watchful, 
fervent in spirit and incapable of strife; 
they always take the lowest place, 
 and very far from preferring themselves 
before any one.
Fenelon, Spiritual Progress

I love the way Fenelon describes 
the character of the humble:
mild, compassionate, quiet, cheerful, obedient--
far from preferring self over others.
God gives grace to this kind of person.
Only a humble person can be a thankful person.
If one is the opposite type person--
loud, dreary, rebellious, careless, passive,
proud, self-focused --
that one can't be thankful.
A humble man or woman can easily agree 
with Paul's admonition in Colossians:
"Never forget to be thankful for what 
God has done for you."
Lord, I desire to have a pure heart,
a broken and contrite spirit which blesses You.
I want to love You and love others
and choose to humble myself before You.
That is where it must begin.
May I never forget to be thankful.




Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful to God

God is the answer to our deepest longings.
For whatever a man may know, 
he still has a lot to learn, 
but if he loves God, 
he is opening his whole life 
to the Spirit of God.  
1Cor 
I am so thankful this morning for the truth of 
"Christ the power and the wisdom of God."
Because outside of that, all is meaningless.
No matter how much you study or learn, 
there is seemingly an infinite amount 
of knowledge you have yet to learn.
And, for the most part, it really doesn't matter.
What does matter is that God has granted us 
the privilege of knowing Him.
If we love Him, we are alive to the Spirit of God
and we are given the very thoughts of God.
Whatever longings we have, 
however great our dreams and desires, 
God is the answer.
"All we preach is Christ crucified."
Jesus' life and death, 
the cross and resurrection, 
granting us access to the love of God.
This morning, I declare the truth in 1Corinthians: 
"I am thankful to God 
for what the gift of His grace 
in Jesus Christ has meant  to me—
He has enriched my whole life, 
from the words on my lips to 
the understanding in my heart."

Thankful seems a small word for all that.
But I am able to say back to God
the words He gave us to speak.
God is the answer to my deepest longings.
So very thankful. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saved the Best til Now

"You have saved the best til now."

The story of the wedding at Cana is so full.
That Jesus performed His first miracle at
a family celebration is certainly significant.
It wasn't in a temple;
It wasn't a world crisis.
It was a family crisis. 

God cares about the details.
And not just because He is into details,
but because He knows the significance 
of seemingly small stuff.
Wine would later have great meaning.
But at the wedding, it was important "now."
The master of the banquet commended 
the bridegroom for "saving the best til now."
In reality, it hadn't been saved.
It didn't even exist until "now."
Jesus did what His Father had been doing--
He revealed His glory by creating.
He took what was there, 
and not only made it better,
but made it "best."
I believe Jesus is saying to us, 
"I have saved the best til NOW.
It didn't exist, 
but I am ready to demonstrate 
My goodness to you
by turning your water into wine.
Can you believe that I can take what 
you have and make it exceedingly 
abundantly more than you can ask?
I didn't give them enough wine to get by;
I gave them over 150 gallons. 
I have saved the best til NOW.
I am good all the time."

Jesus, what is the "now wine" 
that You want to pour over my life?
Jesus always lives with us in NOW time 
and He is pouring His goodness out!
Help each one of us to believe
"we will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living."



Saturday, November 19, 2011

What a Privilege

There was a wedding in Cana...
The supply of wine gave out, 
and Jesus’ mother told him, 
“They have no more wine.”
“Is that our concern?” replied Jesus. 
“My time has not come yet.”
 So his mother said to the servants, 
“Do whatever he tells you.”

I was reading this portion of Scripture this morning, 
remembering the time of blessing we had last night 
for Tyson, who just turned 21.
We had invited those who had played 
a significant role in his life up to this point-- 
pastors (including his former basketball coach), 
discipler, teachers, family friends, and a few of his friends.
We spoke a new season over his life, 
one of maturity and manhood. 
We released him to walk that out with
righteousness, humility, integrity and honor.
I saw something in this Scripture 
that related to last night.
When Jesus was at the wedding, 
His "time had not yet come."
When His mother told the servant 
to do whatever Jesus said,
she  released Him into His time. 
Jesus only did what His Father told Him,
but His earthly parent released Him 
into His next season.

I marvel at the privilege God gives us 
as parents to speak identity over 
our sons and daughters and call them 
out of one season into another.
Last night was one of the more powerful times 
we have experienced as parents,
listening to the words of 
affirmation and blessing over Tyson.
The evening was filled with moments 
that were symbolic and prophetic.
A powerful time of calling him 
into maturity and manhood.
Speaking a new season over his life.
Just as Mary did at the wedding in Cana.
So very grateful to Father God 
for trusting us with this
amazing son.
What a privilege.





Friday, November 18, 2011

Just Like Him

"As the Father hath loved Me, 
so have I loved you: 
continue ye in My love.
If ye keep My commandments, 
ye shall abide in My love; 
even as I have kept My Father's 
commandments and abide in His love...
love one another, as I have loved you.
Ye are my friends, 
if ye do whatsoever I command you.
John 15
Jesus was telling His disciples that 
His way must be their way.
He had obeyed His Father's commandments;
they must obey.
He had loved them; they must love.
And He told them how to do it:
Just like Him.
His was a life of love and obedience to His Father.
"Even as I have kept."
It is why our eyes must be fixed on Jesus, 
the author and finisher of our faith. 
If it was natural to love and obey, 
we wouldn't need to be commanded.
Jesus was commanded by His Father.
Not because it wasn't natural for Him;
but because it would not be natural for us.
"Just as I...so should you."
Jesus, I fix my gaze on You today.
I want to love like You,
keeping Your command to abide in Your love.
You laid Your life down 
as a demonstration of Your way.
I want to lay my life down again 
as a demonstration of Your way.
"..that ye should go and bring forth fruit, 
and that your fruit 
should remain."