Thursday, May 30, 2013

Oh Fickle Day

The days are so fickle.
One day is sunny and puts a smile on our face.
The next is cloudy and tries our very last nerve.
One day our heart leaps and dreams;
the next we are begging it to wake up.
One day we can sing,
A happy heart makes a face cheerful. 
~ Proverbs 15:13
And on another we can only cry out,
My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
~ Psalms 119:28

The reality of life is that there are joys and sorrows,
laughter and affliction, beauty and devastation.
But what I have to remember is that
at the very center of the universe is
the Trinity of Perfect Love.
If we get caught up in cultural mindsets,
in the post-modern translation,
then today has no context. 
It contains its own beginning and end.
It interprets itself.
But the truth is that today is a training day, 
and it is intricately woven to yesterday and tomorrow.
His words and His truth alone interpret my experience.
That’s why we can be so sure that God is working 
every detail of our lives into something good.
Romans 8:28
So whether this day seems good to me or not,
His mercies are new every morning
and He is training me according to His purposes.
He is not just the Author of my story; 
He is actively involved with me, pursuing me 
and leading me to know Him more.
So even when I can't make sense of the clouds,
I can trust that He is working something into me,
something good, important and eternal. 

Oh fickle, capricious and changing days,
my God changes not and 
His mercies they fail not.
Great is HIS faithfulness.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Pleased with Their Stumbles

In C. S. Lewis’ classic book, Screwtape Letters,
Screwtape, the senior demon, writes to his nephew,
Wormwood, who was charged with making sure
his “patient” does not choose God, the Enemy.
Screwtape admits to Wormwood that the Enemy
seems to really like the humans,
but that sometimes He lets them go their own way.
It totally boggles his mind that even when they stumble,
God still loves the “little vermin.”
His words offer such great encouragement to us
as we go stumbling along our way.
"The Enemy wants them to learn to walk
and must therefore take away His hand;
and if only the will to walk is really there
He is pleased even with their stumbles....
Our cause is never more in danger than
when a human, no longer desiring,
but still intending, to do our Enemy's will,
looks round upon a universe from which
every trace of Him seems to have vanished,
and asks why he has been forsaken,
and still obeys."
~ The Screwtape Letters

There are days when the doubts and questions
loom larger than our faith.
But that is our problem, not His.
He is only looking for the will to walk with Him.
When I still can say, “Not my will but Yours be done,”
regardless of what I see or don’t see,
my perfect pitch pierces the ears of His enemy.
Though I walk through the valley, He is with me.
Though I stumble and fall, He is for me.
For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;
Psalms 149:4
Who hasn’t stumbled that they can not know this truth?
Who hasn’t received grace upon grace knowing that
the Lord may let go of our hand but never our heart?
I will most likely stumble many more times
in this wild adventure with the One my heart loves,
but I rehearse the words that Screwtape mutters:
“He is pleased even with their stumbles.”
Stumbling on, receiving grace, surrending to His will.
Moment by moment, over and over.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Trinity of Love

Long before He laid down earth’s foundations,
He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus
of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love…
He had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living.
~Ephesians 1
Sometimes it helps to go back to the beginning.
Before God laid down the foundations of earth,
He--the Trinity of love--was thinking about me.
I was going to be the focus of His love.
He was going to make me both whole and holy
by the love that He had in His heart for me.
These verses have to get personal.
 He didn’t create a corporate man;
He created the individual, in the image of the Trinity.
He already had everything He needed.
But He wanted us; He wanted me.
And so this wild God risked it all,
knowing the pain and betrayal it would cost Him.
His heart of love could not contain
His heart of generous abundance.
So He gave. He gave His breath to create life.
And He gave His Son to redeem it again.
I can’t be familiar with this kind of love,
nor can I allow faithless fear to tamper with it.
Instead, I have to live from my heart of desire,
my heart that was created in love and for love.
I turn away from every other lover
and look back into the eyes of Perfect Love.
I sense the empty places in my heart 
that His love has not yet filled.
I trust Him to do all that I cannot.
His love for me would not have it any other way.
I will run the way of Your commands,

for You will enlarge my heart.
Psalm 119:32

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Needy Yet Radically Loved

Bend down, O God, and answer me.
For I am miserable and needy.
Every time I’m in trouble I call on You,
confident that You will answer me. 
~Psalm 86:1, 7

The Psalms are full of cries and needs.
Although we generally don’t like
being around people we label as “needy,”
apparently God doesn’t mind a bit.
David was constantly telling God how needy he was. 

I have never heard David called the “needy King.”
When we pour out our troubles to the Lord,
who is the One who wants to hear about them,
then we can walk in the confidence and strength
that He gives us in response to our cries.
There are days all we can do is cry out.
We wake up facing challenges and
concerns and prayers deep in our hearts.
If we don’t release them as cries,
we will be left carrying them as burdens.
And God doesn’t want us carrying our own burdens;

You, God, are both tender and kind,
immense in love, and You never never quit.
Look me in the eye and show kindness!
Give Your servant Your strength!
Make a show of how much You love me. ~15-17

When we recognize the nature of God—
His kindness and compassion and love—
we can go before Him in confidence,
and say like David:
Make a show of how much You love me!
Lord, I freely acknowledge that I am needy.
Have mercy on me for I give myself to You.
You are so good and Your love for me
is unfailing and unending.
Your strength is my portion and
Your kindness, compassion and love are my gifts.

With all my heart I will praise You,
O Lord my God.
I will give glory to Your name forever,
for Your love for me is very great. ~12-13


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Spending This Day

Enlarge the place of your tent.
Isaiah 54:2
"What we do today is important-- 
we are exchanging a day of our life for it."
We are born with an allotted number of days,
and every night we give one of them back.
At the end of the day, the Lord asks
what we did with His day.
Were we just engaged in busyness
or did we enlarge the place of our tent?

God has planted us in the world to be
a visible demonstration of His goodness.
To the degree that we reflect His nature, 
we are His Word to those who read no Word.
We can only express what is real,
not what we want to be real.
Our cry has to be that He makes us more real.

God has chosen you and He loves you.
So your new life should be like this: 
Show mercy to others. Be kind...
Colossians 3:12
Recently God has been speaking
to me about His kindness.
The other day I walked past a woman
and didn't smile at her.
I have done this many times before.
But this time, the Lord spoke to me,
"You just missed a chance
to show My kindness."
Say what? 
I was genuinely startled by His words.
"You missed a chance to
surprise her with My goodness."

Kindness always puts another person first.
It always requires giving, and giving is
at the very center of God's nature.
Maybe it's a smile, or sincerely stopping,
looking someone directly in the eye 
and saying thank you,
or offering to help someone who's struggling.
Or showing mercy when someone is rude.
It's definitely recognizing the value in others.
Today, I will put my hand to many tasks which,
for the most part, are temporal.
But I want my heart in the eternal 
while spending this day.
I want to give more than I take--
I want to startle someone with Your goodness.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Right Paths

Fear is a thief. 
It robbed Peter of a
perfectly good walk on water 
and kept the eleven in the boat.
Bill Johnson
When Jesus went to the cross, 
He took fear with Him.
Christ died that we might be free from it.

The Lord has specific paths for us to walk down.
 He leads me down the right paths 
for the sake of His reputation. Ps 23:3
I wonder how many we miss because 
fear causes us to go another way.
It can be fear of what others might think, 
fear of a broken heart,
fear of bad things, 
fear of the unfamiliar,
fear of change,
fear of failure...
It's hard to have peace and joy
when battling fearful thoughts.
But when fear controls behavior, 
it's more than just lack of peace.
We are being robbed of specific opportunities,
and some deals are one time offers.
Walking on water was a one-time offer to Peter.
It was to build faith and trust in the disciples.
My freedom in Christ includes the freedom
to take every path that He has marked out for me.

He leads us down right paths 
for the sake of His reputation.
He wants to show us off.
He wants to show off His power in us.
It really is about Him.

Today, Lord, help me see Your face
and hear Your voice that I not miss 
the path that leads to
a perfectly good walk on the water.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Stand Firm

Stay alert, stand firm in the faith, 
show courage, be strong
1 Corinthians 16:13
Paul's closing words to the Corinthians
were to remind them of their orientation.
Alert, firm, courageous, strong.
The only problem with these words
is that we often don't feel them.
Dull, shaky, doubting, weak.
Many days these words seem to 
be more appropriate.
But Paul isn't encouraging us to be
who we feel like being.
He is encouraging us to be 
who we are in Christ.
"And when you have done all
you know to do, stand firm."
Some days I look around and see
others who look so much stronger, 
more full of faith, more courageous.
Other days I feel like I am alone, 
vulnerable to the winds.
Regardless of my feelings,
the instruction is the same:
stay alert, stand firm, show courage, be strong.

The origin of courage is cor
the Latin word for heart.
Courage is in the heart;
My heart says to me, 
Seek His face.
It's where I find courage;
it's where I find strength.
It's where I remember it's not about me.
He tells me to stand and assures me 
that His grace will keep me standing.
And when I have done all that 
I know how to do, 
He will keep me standing firm.
Be strong my heart.
I know the One who keeps you standing.