Monday, August 31, 2009

Crushed for Beauty

I mentioned yesterday that our pastor has recently started a series on brokenness. Wow. Talk about poignant. He said something in his sermon yesterday that has been ringing in my mind, and I paraphrase, "There are two key reasons that God breaks His own: spiritual maturity and supernatural ministry."

If we are going to grow in our walk of trust, then He must crush anything and everything we depend on, other than Himself.

I kept thinking of the life of Joseph. You can read about him in Genesis 37-50. As I dove into this text this morning a few things struck me:
  1. Joseph's pride had to be crushed for him to be used by God. (see 37:2-8)
  2. The betrayal of first Joseph's brothers, then Potiphar's wife, was included in God's plan--I even dare say, ordained by God Himself. God's thoughts and ways are not our own! (see chapters 37-39)
  3. Even though betrayal sent him into slavery and to prison, the Lord God was with him and showed him mercy. (39:21)
  4. We see his maturity--dependence upon God--by his words of humility, "My wisdom is God's, it is God's, it is not me!" (paraphrased from 41:16 based upon prior evidence of his heart attitude)
  5. The Lord God made him fruitful in the land of his affliction. (41:52)
  6. The sovereign will of God evidenced by Joseph's words, "God sent me...God sent was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me...a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt." Wow. It was God who sent him through the affliction to the other side of victory.

I have recently learned the lesson of crushing. He took me to the place where it was only Him and me. The truth is that God must break us--crush us--if we are going to be taken to maturity and used mightily. He must destroy any idol we hold above Him; and He does this in love and mercy, that we might be able to experience the life of freedom He intends to give.

So do you want to go deeper? Hold on, and look up at His face. He is forever faithful; and beauty awaits.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Anxious Independence

Brief food for thought:

As I sat this morning at church under the teaching on brokenness, I realized something. Anxiety over anything is evidence of independence. In other words, when we are anxious, we are not fully dependent upon the Lord God--reigning sovereign over this universe. As John Piper says, when God does one thing, He is doing 10,000 things we cannot see. Depend fully upon Him through this thing we call life.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lace 'em Tight

Can you imagine running a race carrying multiple heavy bags? Maybe I should just ask, can you imagine running, period? :) I always think of that image when I read Hebrews 12:1-2--a runner, trying to reach the finish line, carrying a heavy load. The truth is that we all do that in our day-to-day.

The author of Hebrews instructs, "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." (12:1b-2a)

Our race is not on a trail or track, it is a race of faith. Our weight that slows us down is sin. And our eyes are to be set on the glorious finish line--face to face with Jesus.

The author continues further in the chapter by explaining how God disciplines His own children, as a faithful Father. He does this to show us the way of freedom. But it is our choice whether or not we shed the sin which ensnares.

It is also our choice where to set our eyes. Are we looking at the temporal or the eternal? A dear friend and mentor shared a quote with me yesterday (from a book I cannot remember--forgive me). She said, "I want to be a thermostat, not a thermometer." You see, a thermostat has a temperature which you set. No matter the conditions, the temperature remains the same. A thermometer, however, changes based upon circumstance. I want to be a thermostat.

The way we stay the course, running with endurance this race of faith, is by setting our eyes on Jesus. Our God is faithful. He is working. He sees your every tear. He knows your every thought. We must let go of those chains of control and allow Him to move. Trust His heart.

So, how goes your run? We are all in process, so ask Him if there is a sin ensnaring you. Then lay it aside--in the power of His strength--and set your eyes above. He is so worth it, friend! There is joy and peace for your journey.

For further nourishment: Hebrews 11

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dance, I dare you.

Are you free to dance? I am not talking about gyrating or pulsating in the clubs--I say "clubs" more like "cluuuuuubs." (Why do I think you care about things like this?!) Anyway, freedom to dance... The most amazing dance is freely dancing before the Lord, in worship and praise. I can say this because I have been in the cluuuuubs in my younger days.

This is the dance that overcomes you simply because you are overwhelmed with the majesty of God. This is the dance that stirs your spirit and strengthens your soul. Oh, how I love Him. This is the dance that flows from love and awe. This is the dance that drops the chains and looks to an audience of One.

So are you free to dance? Get alone with Him today, turn up the tunes, and worship Him in dance. I dare you.

This is an older song by Mary Mary but it has been one of my favs for years..."Shackles"

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Apples, not Urine!

True story.

So my daughter had her 5 year doctor's visit scheduled for this afternoon. As requested I obtained her first morning urine sample in the provided, sterile cup. I placed said cup in our refrigerator until after school, at which point I picked her up and ran a quick errand before the dreaded appointment.

Just as a side note, are all girls this dramatic? She seriously whined and cried--off and on--for the entire 2 hours preceding the appointment and an hour after the appointment because she feared the inevitable--shots!

Now, back to the story. So after I picked her up at school we went to Target--my personal favorite for most of your shopping needs. As we were walking down the aisles she asked, "Mommy, can I please have my bag of apples?" "Of course, honey, they are right here in my purse." I reached in and flung out the bag, dangling it in front of her in the middle of the center aisle while I looked down the adjacent aisle for the final items on my list.

But nope, it wasn't her apples, it was the baggy with her urine sample inside--which I realized after a moment of her not taking the bag from my hand. That's right. I was waving around a urine sample in the middle of Target at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. She and I busted out laughing.


I know you are wondering why I had the bag in my purse. Well, it is hot here in North Carolina. I thought the reasonable thing to do would be to put the bag in my purse so it did not "go bad" or something while we were inside. I don't know. I cannot think straight by the middle of the day.

So, apples, not urine!

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Ultimate Rest

Rest. Wow. If, like me, you have young children, rest is something you long to experience--"Can I just have a moment, people?! Just a moment." 'Tis the season, I suppose. And please don't get me wrong, I don't want to "wish away the coos" as I have said before, "I just wonder how many brain cells I will lose." But sometimes I do long for rest--a few moments of quiet.

Even this morning, as I rise a good while before my kids are supposed to awake, my daughter's alarm clock went off an hour early. Are you kidding?! Though I had her return to bed--already dressed for school, poor thing--she was ill and irritated--understandably. But selfishly, I grieved that my own rest and peace had been disrupted. Rest--peace of soul and calm of mind, possibly even a long nap.

But this morning I was reading of the ultimate rest. This is the rest for those whose faith is in the Lord--the mighty One, eternal, immutable, sovereign One, faithful, love, completely holy One. This rest flows from belief--belief that God's promises will come to pass. In this place is the ultimate rest.

This rest is His rest. It can be found in spite of circumstance. It can be experienced regardless of income, race, gender, and location. His rest is a rest of faith, trusting His will and ways no matter our limited vision.

So if, like me, your days are far from "restful," my prayer is that we enter that rest--His rest--even if we must lock ourselves in the closet for just a moment.

Keep on, friend.

For further nourishment: Hebrews 4:1-13

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Word that Lifts

Friends are a blessing, aren't they? But really, what does a true friend look like? Is it someone who tells you your hair looks great when they quietly wonder into what light socket you stuck your finger? Or someone who gets down with you in your pity-party and feeds you more sorrow and bitterness? I think not.

A true friend lifts when you are sinking, speaks truth when you are believing lies, and cares more for your holiness than your happiness. Yet they do all of this with pervading love and humility of spirit. That is a true friend.

I was reading in Hebrews this morning and the verses that struck say, "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily while it is called 'today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." (3:12-13)

After I mourned my own vocabulary deficiency since I do not use the word "lest" in my writings, I noticed two things I wanted to ponder this day:
  • Unbelief is "evil" in the sight of God--When we do not believe, and therefore trust His promises, we cannot please Him. Unbelief can be seen in our actions. Worry, fear, and unforgiveness--to name a few--ultimately reveal unbelief. Ouch.
  • We are to exhort one another daily--The word exhort literally means to call someone near with a purpose, in this case, to address a friend's falling into the deceit of sin. Sin is deceptive. It can creep in with small steps then take a vise-like grip over its prey. We are called to exhort one another daily.

May we be true friends--friends who in love and humility, take another by the hand and speak a word that lifts.

God is that good.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

The Unnatural

It just isn't natural. It isn't natural to love our enemies. In the natural we desire to hurt those who hurt us--"eye for an eye." But God calls His children to a higher plane--the unnatural.

Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?" (Matthew 5:43-46)

The unnatural.

This is the place where His love can be made manifest--where we lay down our "self-life" and trust Him to be our Avenger.

But how? How do we truly love those who do not show love to us? When that person at work wrongly represents you to your supervisors; when that friend betrays your every trust; when someone you love deeply does not return the sentiments; when emotions are raw and the pain is real, how do we love this day? The answer: we don't. We cannot. It must be Him loving through us!

Our job is to set our minds on things that are true, rather than run down those unstable streets of emotion. Things like:
  • That person is not my enemy--I am in the midst of a spiritual war. (Ephesians 6)
  • The weapons of my warfare are mighty in God for pulling down strongholds and casting down every high thing that exalts itself. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)
  • My offensive weapon is the Word of God--Truth trumps feelings. (Ephesians 6)
  • God hears my prayers and sees my hurt; He is my Avenger. (All Psalms; Psalm 55, 65)

Jesus tells us that it is by our love that others will know that we are His disciples. Everything hangs on love. So, how goes your loving? How goes mine?

"Father, You desire to love others through me, that many may see Your glory. It is all about You. Use me to love those who persecute my soul. Bless them, Lord, with an abundance of Your presence. May they see Your great Holiness through my little life. For You alone are worthy!"

For further nourishment: 1 Corinthians 13

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bitter Root

There was this bitter taste,
Clinging to my tongue.
I realized the cause was my
not forgiving like I should.

I get down before the Lord--
Converse with God on High.
He reveals Truth, to make me new--
Fresh rain to quench the dry.

He is so very faithful
to discipline His own.
If we will quickly listen,
His words will guide us home.

Love will be our witness;
Love will cover sin.
In You, Oh Lord, my love is true--
Love others through these hands.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

The funk

Or as I like to say 'da funk. Have you ever been in it? I have learned a sure-fire way to get us out of the funk. Are you ready for this? Rejoice!

Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4) Always. Not just when things are going like you or I think they should. Always. In fact, rejoicing in the Lord may be even more powerful when things aren't so good. It is then that our minds need to be set back on the Sovereign One--He who is reigning on high with loving hands and holy plans.

Maybe you are in the deepest pit of your life, maybe you're not, either way the answer is the same, friend...REJOICE.

You have to watch this video! This guy, walking the streets of NY, cannot stop himself from praising. Let's join him...and David Crowder.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

One Thing

This is the day...

We only have today, so what are you doing? What am I? I have been consumed lately with the "moment."

We took our kids to the beach this past weekend. In other words, we took our "craziness" to another location and did the same thing there--just with sand. While there, God continually reminded me of my one task in those brief moments away--allow Him to love them through me. That's the point.

It is good to plan and think ahead, to dream and have vision; but if our moments today are spent hoping for another time and place we will miss the blessing of this day.

I love to write. Some days I get to break away and spend hours with the Lord, a cup of coffee, and my laptop. Yes. Yes. Other days my time is spent doing laundry, applying band aids, and imagining to be a princess or knight. Either day, either situation, I am called to one thing--reflect my Lord and His gracious love everywhere these feet may go. Whether to my precious kids, the server at the coffee shop, or those who may one day read that which I type--reflect the Lord.

So I ask again, where are you today? Where am I? What are we doing in the moments of this Thursday? If we are faithful with our moments we will be faithful with our lives. Abide in Him, friend.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Without hope, Without faith

I have been thinking on the concept of hope. Hope. What is it? According to Strong's, hope is a "favorable and confident expectation, a forward look with assurance." Throughout the Bible we are told to put our hope in God--He fails not, His love endures, His promises will be accomplished.

So how does hope play out in our day-to-day?

We all have desires--hopes for this life. But if we put our hope in circumstances or people, we are standing on unstable ground. God has spoken many promises over the lives of those who trust in Him. We can expect--confidently and favorably--that those things will come to pass. But the amazing thing about God is that He not only gives these awesome, overarching promises to His own, He also promises very specific things to the life of him or her submitted to His voice.

As we begin delighting in Him--seeking first His kingdom and righteousness--He will give us His desires for our lives. His desires may be made known through His Word or simply as quiet, sure, places in our hearts. But be confident, He will bring those things to pass!

We must remember, however, that His timing is perfect and His vision unlimited. As John Piper says, when God does one thing in your or my life, He is doing 1000's of things we cannot comprehend. Our hope must rest--with glad expectation--in the God who is able to perform that which He says.

Hopelessness is faithlessness. Join me today in restoring our hope in the God who will fulfill His Word.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Same, Old, Tired Darts

I have said it before, but must say it again, "We are a forgetful bunch of creatures." It bears repeating because of its truth. I am reminded because of a battle in my mind I had yesterday. The enemy of God has the same, tired, predictable darts that he throws at God's own--aimed at our previous areas of weakness and stronghold. Yet if you are like me, you can still fall for the bait! Come on!

My battle yesterday was with a thought pattern that once held me in bondage. Yet I still had to fight against it--fight for truth to reign in my mind. Urgghhh. It's entry was so seductive. Once it settled there, I realized my ponderings--and the battle began.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 evokes strength as we stand on its truth, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

There is a spiritual war waging--a war for your and my joy, peace, and, in turn, witness. But our weapons are mighty in God! And what are they? We learn specifically in Ephesians 6. Our one offensive weapon against the enemy is the Word of God--Truth--standing firm while praying continually. That is the place we must go when faced with the same old sinful patterns that characterize our flesh.

We must first pray for awareness--that we would be able to recognize thoughts that are not true or righteous. Then when awareness comes, in the power of the Spirit of God, bring those thoughts into captivity to obedience. For me this becomes my own private preaching session.

"Lord, Your Word declares this... So I will believe that as truth." We must reject the thoughts that do not honor Him. Otherwise we will live in the same old pits of sin--and freedom will be a distant desire. Once we have declared truth, we turn those thoughts into prayers of intercession.

Friend, choose this day whom you will serve. May we be awake and aware--faithful to the One who died to give us life. In Him is abundance of joy and endless peace.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Morning Music

I sneak outside, hoping for a peak,
Before the scampering of little feet.

Crescent still hanging, high in the sky,
Though the blue is fading since orange will arise.

The waves are crashing—been at it all night;
Not slightly affected by my “out-of-sight.”

The sand awaits flip-flops, looking for treasures—
A taste of the depths we’re unable to measure.

And You reigning High, still painting the sky
Beauty and splendor—forever.

It amazes my soul that You think of me,
Not once, not twice, in a day;

But thoughts innumerable, precious and sweet,
So vast they outnumber the grains.

If we would just look—open our eyes,
Awake from our tired, endless slumber.

We would then see, Your love continuously,
Lavished and gracing in wonder.

I love you, Lord!

For further nourishment: Psalm 139

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Friday, August 14, 2009

El Dinero

God is funny. Do you ever laugh with Him? I just did.

This morning I read chapters 8 and 9 in 2 Corinthians. Paul is discussing "giving." As I talked to God about these two chapters I said, "I'm just not sure. People are funny when you talk about giving." So I turned on my computer and stepped away for a minute while it loaded my settings--which takes forever! When I came back my "Spanish word of the day" (Debby-you would be so proud!) was "el dinero." That's right--money. I just had to laugh at Him. What in the world?!

So this must be for a reason. Maybe it is just for you.

In these chapters Paul is challenging the church to follow through with their commitment. They had been zealous for the cause of Christ and had "pledged" a large donation, but had since slipped away. Paul commends their zeal but then urges them to follow through with what they had promised.

He says, "He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." (9:6-7)

We live in a time where many are being financially challenged. I have listened to story after story of job loss and retirement woes. I know it is difficult for many. So what's a girl to do? Place our hope in that which is firm rather than that which can be washed away.

We learn in Scripture that money is not evil--it is one of the tools of God--but the love of money--or dependence upon money--is the root of all evil. If we find our ultimate peace and joy through this temporal "thing" then we are setting ourselves up for heartache. Don't get me wrong. I really, really enjoy stuff. But if stuff is that which brings my greatest satisfaction in this life, then I have missed the point.

God desires all of me, and all of you--from our early morning to our late night. He designed us and loves us and therefore knows what is best for us. If we will obey His ways then there will be blessing. I am not preaching "health and wealth"--though He may sometimes bless in that way. I am speaking of weightier matters--blessings of peace through the storm, abundance through the desolate, and dancing over the ashes. This is the God I love.

When it comes to money, we must remember that it is all His. Ask Him how He would have you, and I, use it in our day-to-day. Then we must step out in faith as He purposes within our hearts. We will not be disappointed.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Above Affecting

People can affect people. Are you with me? Sometimes I start to think, "If I could only rise above and not be affected by others, then I would have it made!" But that is not the way things work.

There is the negative... Proverbs 21:9 says, "Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman." Ouch! We could possibly drive people to the housetop with our presence!

And the positive. "(We) had no rest, but we were troubled on every side...Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus." (2 Corinthians 7:6) Our presence could refresh those who are downcast--conflicted and fearful.

So who am I? Who are you? Do our words, actions, and even thoughts bless and uplift? Or are we forcing people to the streets in avoidance?

The next thing to ponder is, with whom are we surrounding ourselves? Are those we choose to spend our time with building us up in the Lord or dragging us down? Granted there are those with whom we do not have choice. Face it. But when it comes to your and my closest circle of friends, who do we choose for deep fellowship?

People have the power to affect us. If you find yourself in a difficult relationship, one you cannot necessarily "escape," then put your hope in God. He is able to strengthen you to reflect Him rightly. It might not be the easiest thing you or I have ever done, but those are the situations where His power is made most manifest--when we completely depend upon His deliverence and enabling.

Trust Him, friend, and keep on.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Now Moments

Do you have those days where you think, "I will just never get it right!"? Knowing the Word does not equal victory. It isn't a magic pill you swallow that then produces righteous living. Faithfulness and victory come through the submissive heart--hearing and then submitting to the will of the Father. The submission part is the challenge.

Ultimately it is the moments of this day that matter. "This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24) If we do not allow the Word--by the power of His Spirit--to penetrate our heart, submitting our wills, then we will never experience the life Christ died to give.

I could preach to the world day-in and day-out, "Love, love, love! Forgive, forgive, forgive!" but if I do not submit myself to Truth then I have missed the point. I have missed the freedom found in Him.

The truth is that God does not want our supposed righteous acts, He wants our hearts. He wants to be present in the moments of our lives. He desires to hear you and I cry out, "Daddy, please, I cannot do this on my own. It must be You! Be my strength and reflect Your great glory through my moments this day." That is the intimacy that pleases Him.

So today, when that "neighbor" of yours and mine (at work, at play, at home), steps on our--desperate for a pedicure--feet, why don't we choose to submit to the Spirit of God and allow Him to love rightly and justly through our lives. Then the world in which we find ourselves will see His great power and glory.

For further nourishment: 1 Corinthians 13, Psalm 116

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Temporal Affections

I like a clean house. I know, probably everyone enjoys a tidy home, but I seriously have a problem. Having kids has revealed my issue; and God is graciously breaking me and giving me His priorities in the moments of life. Why do I confess my weakness? (Don't be deceived; if this were as bad as it gets I would be so close to continual victory.) I share because I know where some of my "affections" actually live.

This morning in 2 Corinthians 6 Paul says to the church at Corinth, "You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections." What is he saying? Paul was explaining that it wasn't a yoke of bondage that Christianity brought to the neck of believers, actually restrictions came by our own affections--those things we label "important." If we held the affections of God in our day to day, then we would experience the freedom Christ died to give.

I can tell when it starts to happen in me. I will be free and "messy" with the kids, then my eyes will scan the downstairs and the battle will ensue, "It's OK, Lara, all of this will clean up later. Right now it is more important to spend time with these little gifts. Right now is the time to engage, teach, love, and impress upon. Let it go. Let it go." How ridiculous is that?

In essence when our eyes move from things eternal to things temporal, our affections change as well. And as Paul explains, our freedom in Christ is often restricted by our affections. He continues with the instruction that we not be unequally yoked with unbelievers, "For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?"

He isn't instructing us as Christians to live in a bubble--never ministering to those who don't know the Lord. But when it comes to being "yoked together with"--those with whom you and I are intimate--He says to yoke yourselves together with other believers. They will hopefully hold your same affections.

My example above is quite superficial. The truth is that many temporal affections restrict our freedom. The question becomes, what holds your and my affection? Is it alcohol, lust, wealth, the outward appearance, even the desire to have an easy life? Or is it Christ Himself? Placing our affection anywhere other than upon the One who gives true life will always lead to bondage. May His desires for our moments become our desires this day.

He loves you, friend.

For further nourishment: 2 Corinthians 6

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Monday, August 10, 2009

The Lassoed Dinosaur

The first words out of my middle son's mouth this morning were, "Mommy did you see that dinosaur outside on top of the car?" Since I had already enjoyed my coffee I was able to quickly identify his use of imagination. Sharp, aren't I?! I asked what color and he said, "Green with big claws, and he wants to pinch me?" "You really should go tell daddy about this," I encouraged, wanting to make sure my husband was able to enjoy our son's new found love of pretending.

"Daddy, did you see the dinosaur?" he again asked, eager to explain. Then after their short banter, "Daddy, the dinosaur wants to pinch me. Will you take him to work with you?" "OK," my husband said, eyes quickly shifting to me for support. We all went to the garage to see daddy, and the dinosaur, off for an honest day's work.

My husband lovingly joined wholeheartedly into our boy's imaginary world and tied the rope around his hitch and then lassoed the dinosaur. We then waved good-bye as the two of them headed down the road and out of sight.

A few short hours later my son asked, "I wonder what the dinosaur is doing at daddy's work today?"

Oh, to be a kid again.

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If you have walked with me this past week through 2 Corinthians then you know I am now in chapter 5; and it is dense with hope. In previous chapters I have pulled 2-4 verses that I want to be engraved upon my heart--not out of some legalistic obligation, but because the Word gives life as we apply it to our own places of brokenness. Chapter 5, however, is dense. I have noted between 10-12 verses, and that was conservative.

"Lord, Your Word is rich. You could never be exhausted. Praise You!"

The thing about Paul is the gaze of his eyes. At the end of chapter 4 he says that he does not look (set his gaze) upon that which is seen but rather that which is unseen--for it is eternal. Then in chapter 5 he gives a glimpse into this unseen reality--this eternal drive in his spirit.

In summary, he opens by describing his inward groaning to be clothed in the heavenly habitation that is to come. Groaning! What do I groan for--presence with the Lord or earthly blessing? This kind of groaning is a work of the Spirit of God within us. As we seek after the face of God--intimacy with our Creator--then our inward man will begin groaning for His presence.

He explains that we have been given the Spirit of God as a guarantee--literally meaning "earnest money." Through the blood of Christ we have been bought and our Purchaser has given us a down payment of what is to come. Think on that for a minute!

He closes the chapter by explaining that in Christ we are a new creation--old things have passed away and all things have become new. Therefore he is an ambassador for Christ, as though God is pleading through him, "be reconciled to God."

"At the end of the day"--OK, is this phrase not totally overused! Anyway...--Paul's eyes are set, fixed, on that which is unseen--and the unseen is inexhaustible! So where is my gaze? Where is yours? This life will bring difficulties--some will be a little uncomfortable and others will feel like your heart has literally been ripped from your very being. Regardless, God is always faithful. He is always reigning. He is motivated by love. And His ways are for our good. Do you believe?

This day when emotions have the chance of running high--and believe me, they will have the chance--preach truth to yourself. Stir up the Spirit within you. He will not disappoint.

For further nourishment: 2 Corinthians 5

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Saturday, August 8, 2009


Let's just be real honest for a minute. Life can truly be crapified at times. How about that to start your weekend off on a positive note. :) My dad used to say, "Either you just came through a time of trial, you are in the midst of a time of trial, or you will unfortunately soon be in a time of trial." It is the nature of this life and the world in which we live. Sounds pretty hopeless doesn't it. Yet that is the beauty of it all.

Time is slowly creeping its way between my now and my most devastating time of trial. I am in the process of writing a book so it is not easy for me to forget. But as I reflect on this particular season of my life, the truth of Paul's words testify to my existence--and hopefully yours as well.

"We have this treasure (the treasure of the knowledge of the glory of God) in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck-down but not destroyed." (2 Corinthians 4:7-8)

That is the hope found in this God we call Father. His power enables us to live these fleeting days in victory--no matter the circumstance! That has been true for me. When I should have been crushed and in despair, He made me strong and sure. When I should have felt forsaken and destroyed, He allowed me to sense His healing touch and ever-present grace.

Friend, this life will be crapified at times, but there is such hope found in God Almighty. In the midst of your moments get to know His face, you will not be disappointed. "We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus!"

Take His Hand and dance with me today!

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Process of Becoming

We as people can be so proud in our flesh, like we really have it all together--all figured out. The other day a friend was asking my opinion on a particular, well-known Christian teacher. I said that overall, what I have heard, this particular person has lined up with scripture. Though I haven't read this teacher's statement of faith or anything, I had gleaned truths and been challenged in my walk under their teaching.

Then my friend told me that another well-known Christian teacher criticized this first Christian teacher, calling them a "false prophet." I know this is confusing but I want to avoid any names. I really know nothing about this but it just did not settle well with me.

I believe the Bible is clear that we will know the faithful followers by their fruit; and there are some "hills upon which to die" when it comes to tenets of the faith. But streaming through the pages of the New Testament is the word "unity." When the Body of Christ, His church, does not abide in unity in love then I honestly believe it breaks the heart of God.

Here's the thing, we are all in process! Yesterday as I pondered the 2 Corinthians 3 passage, specifically verses 17-18, it hit me so heavily. Paul's says, "(we) are being transformed into the same image (the image of Christ Himself) from glory to glory just as by the Spirit of the Lord." We are all in process!

When our fellow brother or sister in Christ is not rightfully dividing the Word, or not walking in obedience to God's commands, then our response should not be gossip and name-calling! Our response should be intercession and then confrontation in love and humility. We are all in process! If you and I had it all figured out, then we would probably be with our Lord! So we must give people a little space, a little grace--grace to be transformed from glory to glory.

Let's be the Body of Christ. Let's love one another--beginning with those closest to us!--and be the Body of our Lord. He is so very good. We are all in process! Praise Him.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Prayer Meeting with Preschoolers

Prayers from dinner:
  • My three year old kneels down onto the bench, face against the seat, and thanks God for mommy and daddy, and for the kitty cats at the pet store last night and the ladies who were cleaning their cages.
  • My four year old, patiently awaiting her turn then says, "Thank you God for my new best friend...Mommy, what was her name?..." Oh, how the meaning of "best friend" will mature over the coming years--at least to the point of remembering the sweet child's name.

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Wild Olive Kids

Hi friends. I just have to give a shout out for the coolest Christian tees this side of the Mississippi. OK, so I really am not sure of their location, but the tees definitely rock. I have two myself and have bought one as a gift for a friend. Comfy while speaking truth, you just have to get one (or two or three).

And to make this awesome company even "awesomer", they have added a kids line! Check them out today!

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Bible Nerd

I feel like I say the very same thing everyday in my posts, "Read the Word. Get into the Word." Can we say, "Bible Nerd?!" Oh, but I love the Word. God has shown Himself so faithful to His Word in my life. It truly is a light unto our path and life to our bones. Taste and see.

So I am back in 2 Corinthians, now chapter 3. The basic progression through this letter has been 1. Paul declaring the sufficiency of God to comfort, deliver, and faithfully fulfill His promises in Christ, and 2. Paul praising our God who causes our triumph and makes manifest His sweet fragrance of His knowledge where ever our feet may go. Now in chapter 3 he is going to explain the source of his boldness--the glory of the New Covenant.
  • Therefore since we have such hope (hope in the glory of the New Covenant, ministered by the Spirit of the Lord), we use great boldness of speech-- (3:12)

Paul was standing on and hoping in truth, then speaking therefrom. His mind was set on things eternal--things firm and solid--so he could then speak with boldness.

  • unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face (see Exodus 34:33-35)...when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. The Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (3:13a, 16-18)

That was a mouthful! Let's just remember three truths:

  1. As we turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away--we can now see the glory of God. How awesome is that!
  2. Where the Spirit of the Lord is--within the body of the believer--there is liberty--freedom from bondage and freedom to enter the presence of God. Are you free? Yes! Are you living out of that freedom?
  3. We are being transformed--Greek word metamorphoo, changed into another form--into the image of Christ Jesus from glory to glory. You and I ARE a new creation in Christ. This is fact. We just have to allow Him to do His work in us--from glory to glory.

Today I am going to challenge you--and me--when the stress of life starts to happen, i.e. everyone else wakes up, start meditating on Truth. Say it out loud. Stand on it rather than riding the waves of emotion. It may go something like this, "Your Spirit is within me. I am free from the chains of sin. I am free to enter Your presence. You, O Lord, are changing me to be more like Christ. Praise You, Father! Praise You! Help me have Your vision in this moment. Lavish Your wisdom upon me. Thank You, Lord."

I promise you this, if you will allow Him to transform your thinking in the moments, then you will experience His freedom in your moments. Keep on, friend.

For further nourishment: Exodus 34:29-35, 2 Corinthians 3

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sweet Aroma

I almost blew right by it this morning. I am back in 2 Corinthians, now chapter 2. It is a short chapter and there were only two and a half verses that really jumped off the page. So I almost blew right by it--right by the nugget of victory.
  • Paul says, "Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour (sweet aroma) of his knowledge by us in every place." (2:14)

God Himself does two things in the life of the submitted believer. First, He causes us to triumph in Christ. Paul explains to the Roman church, "In (tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword) we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:37) We do not reach this level of freedom in and of ourselves, it is a work of God as we believe and submit to the truths of the gospel. Praise Him! Put your hope in Him, no matter the circumstance! Trust His promises, no matter your feelings.

So He causes us to triumph. Second, He makes manifest the sweet aroma of his knowledge every where we go. The Greek word for "makes manifest," also translated "diffuses," means to render apparent. As the Strong's concordance explains, "it is an external, outward appearance, of an internal disclosure that has preceded it." Do you catch this amazing truth? As we--children of God on High--listen to His voice and submit to His teaching, He will do a work within us. That work will be made apparent to the world. His powerful work within will seep out, and the world will smell the fragrance of Christ. This is fact. Praise Him!

This second truth is especially encouraging when you wonder if those you love--maybe those who do not know our Lord--really see the work of Christ within you. His sweet aroma will be made manifest. As verse 16 explains, "To (those who are perishing--without Christ) we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to (those who are being saved) the aroma of life leading to life."

God does all of this. He is the One who brings victory. He is the One who leads to repentance. Thanks be to Him!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Flying Goldfish

This morning in my conversation with God--meditating on words of Tozer which pointed me to the absolute exaltation of God's character--I humbly "told" my omnipotent, omnipresent Father that I wanted to know-know His Word better. I want to be able to recall--especially in the midst of my or another's trial--specific passages that will build faith and inject strength into their core. So a verse that has meant a lot to me lately from 2 Corinthians came to mind and I decided to start with that letter from Paul.

I am a dreamer. In my mind I am thinking that I want to know all 66 books of the Bible and specific passages therein. But I have learned this trait about myself and will pull in the reigns and start with one book and one chapter--2 Corinthians 1.

Three sections hit me from this chapter that I want to remember. I want to be able to recall these verses. I want them to be embedded into my spirit.
  • 1:3-4--(Our God is the) Father of mercies, God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Our God comforts, but not without purpose. Yes, He wants us to rest in the midst of trial, but He then desires that we use the comfort we have received to comfort others. And what is the comfort? What brings rest? The truth of His amazing character--at least the tiny amount we can fathom in our mortal minds. How do we get to know His character? Dig into His Word! He has graciously revealed Himself to His creation.

  • 1:8-10 (Paul and his companions in Asia) burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life...(trust) in God who raises the dead, who delivered us...and will still deliver us.

Have you ever felt this kind of weight? Burdened beyond measure, above strength, despairing even of life. What does Paul tell us to do? TRUST in the character of God. He is able, friend, to raise the dead. He is able to deliver us. He may not change our circumstances, but He often brings peace in the midst of a storm and manna in the midst of the desert.

  • 1:19--All the promises of God in Him (Jesus Christ) are Yes and in Him Amen (Let it be so), to the glory of God through us.

His Word can be trusted. If God has promised then He will bring it to pass. His timing is perfect and His plans unthwarted. Rest. Rest.

So today if you wonder what I am doing, I will be meditating on 2 Corinthians chapter 1 while I juggle mommyhood to three young children. It is in Him alone that I am able to do my "job" with any sort of victory. Stand firm, friend, amidst the flying goldfish.

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Monday, August 3, 2009


The older I get, the more quickly time passes. Why is this? When I was a kid it seemed like an eternity to reach my next birthday, now, in a blink, we move from winter to winter. So strange.

Psalm 39:5b says, "Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor." Vapor! Dust. In light of eternity we are here on this earth for but a moment. Yet God knows our every breath and every thought and every word before it is on our tongues. Mind blowing, isn't it?!

We are here for just a moment, so the question becomes, "What are we doing with this moment?" Where are our eyes fixed? I love reading passages written by Paul. He had such passion, vision, and fire. He knew that the Truth of God was life. He knew that the power of God was able. He knew that the will of God was good, in spite of his circumstance.

In his second letter to Timothy, he closes by explaining how all except one earthly companion had forsaken him, "loving this present world (more than that which is to come)." (2 Timothy 4:9) Yet his own testimony is this, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (4:7)

As I was reminded this weekend, our Father will not strip us of our individual will. We all have choice. But there is a choice that is best--set our eyes and minds on that which is eternal. This world and everything within will never fulfill that place in our beings designed for God alone. He wants you, friend. You. goes your moment?

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Look at Her Shoes

So rich--His precious Word is so very rich.

This morning I awoke with a dialogue already going. "Father, why do I compare myself with others? What is Your Word to me today about that? What is Your heart toward me, Lara?" And His Word started flooding my mind.

I have realized that I do battle thoughts of comparison. Yes, they can be completely superficial comparisons--things that have absolutely no eternal value, like, "Her shoes are too cute. My shoes are cute but the fake gem is about to fall off. How cheap. Her shoes are not tearing up and her shirt doesn't have food gooped up on the shoulder from her toddler." Comparison.

But then there are the comparisons of a weightier value--comparisons with others in regards to our calling. You know, when it comes to the thing that drives you, the passion within, the calling you sense upon your life. It may be as a mom, teacher, executive, whatever, but these comparisons go deeper--they touch the core of whom God created you and me to be; and it must break the heart of God. "I'm too old to do that. I don't have enough time. I don't have the contacts or resources." Oh, but God is very, very big and completely able. We are simply called to trust and walk.

I was led this morning to Isaiah 43. As I read I kept shaking my head saying, "God, You are amazing. Who am I?" Friend, our God has designed you and me with purpose. Nothing is haphazard or coincidental in the giftings He has graciously bestowed. Whether it is something He allowed or ordained, He is sovereign and He has His children's ultimate best in His unsearchable mind.

The first verse of 43 says, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine." Then He says, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you." He loves His own; and not just as a whole. He extravagantly loves you and me individually. He has called you by name and me by name; and He has purpose and plan for each of us, for the great glory of His Name--and there is no better reason!

Father, forgive me for comparing myself to others.

He has placed you and me at this time, at this place with purpose. Even if it is a consequence to sin, His desire is intimacy. If we will be faithful with our moments, then we will live in the fullness of His details. Get to know His face. Rest in His love. Trust His leading through the sea. And as I have said before, I will continue to preach to my spirit, "If He has called then He will equip." Keep on, friend. He is faithful and good.

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