Sunday, September 29, 2013

Make a Choice

"There is everything you know 
and there is everything that happens. 
When the two do not line up, 
you make a choice."
~Mitch Albom
The things I know and the things
that happen have not been lining up
exactly the way I thought that they would.
One thing is certain:
circumstances lie to us.
Circumstances are the factors 
surrounding us directly impacting our lives.
They generally have a negative connotation:
financial challenges, health issues, 
 broken relationships, sudden forks in the road
things seemingly out of our control.
The goal of most circumstances is to state,
as clearly as possible, that things are not looking 
the way they are supposed to look.

So we have these two worlds confronting us,
the life we try to live by the Spirit--
believing the best and trusting God is good, always.
And the life we get tempted to live by sight--
doubting what we know and questioning what’s true.

When the things we know and 
the things that happen do not line up, 
we have to make a choice.

Even if everyone else is a liar, 
God is true. 
Romans 3:4 
When lies come flying my direction,
I have to drop down and look up.
If the voice is a lying voice.
If the circumstance defies God's goodness.
If the situation is not what I had thought.
Even then will I say,
You are my God
and You are good. 

That is God's word to me
and I am standing firmly on it.
Let God be true
and every word and 
every circumstance a lie.

You have done many good things for me,
 just as You promised.
You are good and do only good.
Psalm 119:68


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Paradox of Love

Watch what God does, 
and then you do it.
Mostly what God does is love you. 
Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. 
Observe how Christ loved us. 
His love was extravagant. 
He gave everything of Himself to us. 
Love like that.
Ephesians 5:1-2

I just can't get away from 
the subject of love these days.
Maybe it's because I'm aware 
of how little I love.
But God is speaking to that which is little,
and assuring me that it will still yet be large.

I have the life of the Spirit living in me.
I am empowered by grace to live
my life through His Spirit.
As you love Me, I will love others through you.

If we were limited by our finite hearts, 
we would indeed be in trouble,
ruled by feelings and emotion,
protective for our own well being and honor.
But because the Infinite reached into the finite,
we had our loveless chains broken off.
When only love could make a way
You gave Your life in a beautiful exchange...
My only desire, and sole ambition
Is to love You just the same.

The answer for my lack of love 
isn't struggling to love more.
It is about seeking the Love 
that knows no bounds,
 losing my life and finding it in Him.
I want to be aware of Him--more.
I want to set my mind on Him--more.
I want to know Him--more.
I want to live and move and 
have my being in His presence--more.
Perfect Love fills me with the fullness
of divine eternal love.
“To have found God and still to pursue Him 
is the soul’s paradox of love.” 

Observe how Christ loved us. 
His love was extravagant. 
Walk in love, 
even as Christ also loved you...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Word Origins

“A man without words 
is a man without thought.” 
John Steinbeck, East of Eden

The words we speak are a 
reflection of our inner conversation.
They reveal where we spend our time, 
whether in the cellar of negativity
or the penthouse of grace. 
Our earthbound words have an origin
that is "not helpful."
Spirit words, however, can
be crafted into divine acts 
capable of changing matter. 

"This mountain, for instance, you’ll tell, 
‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it will jump.
Matthew 21:21
He said, “No more figs from this tree—ever!” 
The fig tree withered on the spot, a dry stick. 
Matthew 21:19

Jesus used wild words as He
talked about His wild Kingdom:
camels galloping through the eye of a needle,
mountains being hurled into seas,
great reversals of the last becoming the first,
poppy seed size faith moving great obstacles,
and coin-bearing fish paying taxes.

Our words matter. They reveal our native land.
I am from New Jersey and sometimes 
that Jersey girl accent slips out.
It reveals a little bit about my "native land."
When I am tired, or in a hurry, it can pop up.
And someone will say,
"Oh, you cawled them, did you?
That Jersey accent is still there!"

But what about my other accent?
The one that reveals whether I have been
tethered to earth or anchored in heaven.
I want my native dialect to sound like life,
words that are birthed on the shores of grace,
words that reflect time in His presence.

Children of Zion, be glad in your God
He’s giving you a teacher to train you how to live— 
showers of words to refresh and nourish your soul.
Joel 2:23

We are those who go forth representing our God,
causing others to celebrate and be glad.
My words must have a different sound 
than words springing forth from the earth.
The words that I speak to you aren’t mere words. 
The Father who resides in Me 
crafts each word into a divine act.
John 14:10
Our words must be faith-filled and wild:
full of kindness, mercy, grace and truth, 
words that produce miracles 
and cause hope to spring forth.
Spirit-led words can be
"crafted into divine acts" 
capable of changing matter.

Lead me, Lord, to live in the penthouse of grace
that Your sound can go forth from my life--
capable of changing matter, producing miracles,
and creating hope in the hearts of the hopeless.
It's what Your life was all about.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Doing Nothing

This morning I woke up grateful, 
grateful for who God is in my life
and for all He is doing and has given me.
I think I remained grateful for about five minutes.

Then I became aware of the day
and all that was before me.
A couple of situations came to mind
and I began to rehearse the challenge.
Left to run its course, the mind is dangerous.
My spirit was fighting to remain at rest, 
grateful and at peace in the presence of Jesus.
My mind was fighting to remind me
that all is not well on every front.

With its great emphasis on logic, it said:
If you do nothing, nothing will get done.
Well played, reason, well played.
A little fun with words, chiastic structure, nice.
But it's not true, my spirit reminded me.

He made us alive in Christ, 
set us down in highest heaven with Jesus.
Now God has us where He wants us,
with all the time in this world and the next 
to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. 
All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. 
Eph 2:7-8

So, this morning, I turn my face upward and say,
Jesus, thank You for Your incredible grace.
I get to sit with You and hear You say:

I can do anything, you know—
more than you could ever imagine 
 or request in your wildest dreams! 
I do it by working within you, 
My Spirit moving deeply and gently.
Eph 3:20-21
I already know that this is not the last time today
that I will have to choose between 
my spirit and my soul,
between the voice tethered to this world
and the Voice anchored to my Father.
But I am grateful for these quiet morning moments
where Jesus comes by His Holy Spirit
and helps me win the first battle of the day.
My mind wants to define sitting in His presence,
keeping my soul submissive to my spirit,
as "doing nothing."
I speak to my mind and tell it to 
go study the Word.
You need a lot more of Jesus,
I remind that prideful web of reason.

I sit in His presence and receive His grace.
As I seek Him and trust Him above all else,
He perfects those things that concern me.
Gratefulness returns.
And with it, great peace.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My One Desire

Whom have I in heaven but You?
I desire You more than anything on earth.
Psalm 73:25
When the love of God the Father 
is made known in a man's soul, 
the response can only be:
You are my only true and real desire!
All other things are shadows of the substance.

As in the fable of the dog  
who has a piece of meat in his mouth, 
and upon seeing his reflection in the water, 
drops what he has to get what he thinks he wants, 
we lose everything when we let go of 
our one true desire and pursue anything else.
I want my confession and my life to align as I say,
God, You are my one desire.
The reality is that I have desired many things.
And I have often grasped at a shadow only to find
that I was left empty and longing for something real.

"He who has God and everything else
has no more than he who has God alone."
~CS Lewis
God doesn't need to make sure all is well
in every corner of my life.
"He will take care of the things that concern you."
He needs me to trust Him, love Him
and desire Him more than any other thing.
If I seek Him, and His Kingdom,
He takes care of all the rest.
He is rock-solid and faithful.
His heart must be my home,
the place from which all life flows.

Father, would You amplify this truth in my life.
May I train my eyes to see the shadow of all else.
Your love is the substance of all reality.
When I increase in the knowledge of Your love,
my heart becomes steadfast and secure.
You’re all I want in heaven!
    You’re all I want on earth!
    God is rock-firm and faithful.
I’m in the very presence of God
    Oh, how refreshing it is!
I’ve made You my home.
Psalm 73: 25-28

We must know who we are in Him 
so that we can accurately represent Him 
to a people desperately in need of real:
real love, real grace, real truth, real mercy.
Not those walking in power and pretense,
but those walking in reality and representation,
whose only desire is to bring glory to 
the One they love.

Image: morganelizabethart

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Walking Presence

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, 
the man and his wife heard the Lord God 
walking about in the garden.
So they hid from Him among the trees.
Then the Lord God called to the man...
Genesis 3:8,9
The Word is not only a speaking voice,
He is a walking presence.
The Lord has been encouraging me to listen
for the footsteps of His presence
that I might fully hear His words of life.

Adam and Eve recognized His presence
and hid among the trees.
Sin caused them to hide and 
the chasm between God and man grew wide.
But our God of reconciliation wants
intimate relationship with us and paid 
the highest price that we would once again 
walk with Him in the cool of the evening.

Am I quiet enough to hear Him walking?
He comes quietly into His garden by presence.
You are my private garden, 
my treasure, my bride.
Song of Solomon 4:12
You have called me a garden, she said
Let my beloved come in...
Song of Solomon 4:16 

There is a walking presence in His garden
before there is a speaking voice in our hearts.
He continues to say to me, 
"Be still and know that I am God.
Be still so you can hear My footsteps.
Be still so you can hear My voice.
Your rest and peace are found in 
the secret place, the private garden."

The man and his wife heard the Lord walking...
May I still myself and wait on You.
The times are noisy and my mind cluttered.
May I hear Your footsteps. 
Genesis is not just a book stuck in time.
It is actively speaking even this morning,
words of life for all who read them.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, 
she heard the Lord God 
walking about in the garden.
So she turned to see His face.
Then the Lord God called to her
and she heard His tender voice 
speaking words of life.
And great was her rest and peace...