Saturday, April 30, 2011

for those needing hope

We crave it. A happy ending with pretty people. Something bright in a world that often feels dark.

Yet images of royalty flash across the screen followed by the cry of cities devastated and families separated. It's hard for a mind to comprehend.

When full, we rarely seek. But when empty and broken, desperation forces us to look at him. Look for him--questioning him.

It's in those times of soul-fatigue that we have a choice. Either we reject Him as unfaithful and deny Him as sovereign, choosing to define him based upon what our eyes momentarily see.

Or we choose to believe him to be who he has revealed himself to be. Beginning with him and then resting in his Father hands.

Only one choice stirs the hope. Praying hope to rise in him for those facing great loss today.

"Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust."
Psalm 16:1

Bringing it home...

What word from the Word can you give to someone needing hope?

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

uncovering the smile when life gets tense

My daddy used to say that either we are in a trial, we just got out of a trial, or a trial is on the horizon. Not too comforting at first glance, but reality none-the-less.

On this side of heaven, trials will come. Some are the big, life-stamping trials. The ones that end up defining us. But many are the small, minute-by-minute frustrations of life that aim to steal the smile.

The pressures of the everyday come...every day. If I'm not diligent, then all the stuff that needs my tending can wipe away the grin. And I'm left standing there slicing apples with a frown.

But I want my kids to remember their younger years with me having engaged eyes and a joyful face. As the daily demands increase and the mental list grows, he is teaching me how to rejoice in my soul so that it comes out on my face. So here are some practical ways that I choose the smile.

  1. When life gets tense, I lay down the list.

    Literally. Figuratively. I set it down. I remind myself that I have enough time to do what he has for me to do. And loving those beside me is what fulfills his ultimate call.

  2. I pause to gain perspective.

    I sometimes escape to the laundry room and close the door; or go for a long the mailbox. Alone. Or just close my eyes and slip away in my mind while the wildness grabs onto my legs. The point is in the pause.

  3. I ask for his vision for that moment, or for that person.

    The only life-giving perspective is his perspective. When I have stepped away, I commune with him. This is especially vital when one of my little ones is acting particularly irrational or excessively whiny. {One of my flesh triggers.} To see as he sees spurs love.

  4. I choose to engage the now and the one standing before me.

    As I commune with him, he often reminds me of the blessings in the moment or the gifts within the other person. The ways he designed them with precision and purpose. They too are a work in progress, just like me. The smile slowly creeps out.

I fail at times. The stuff coming at me occasionally wins. But he is either the God reigning over every single circumstance--big and small--or he is not the God revealed in the scriptures. Believing him sovereign and love mingled together changes me. It changes my face.

Bringing it home...

What brings a smile to your face even when life comes with fierce persistence?

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

spandex alone (for goodness sake) does not a 6-pack make

I (periodically) go to the gym. It's what Kat would call one of my weekly retreats. I get a little exercise while having a little church with Lecrae streaming through my ear buds. It rejuvenates this mama-soul.

After a brief round with lunges yesterday, I glanced up and saw a gentleman wearing spandex shorts with a sweat-band around his head. (I'm just sayin'.) But he wasn't exercising. He had on the "right" workout clothes. He had paid the membership fees. He even made it to the gym. But he spent his time leaning and chatting and drinking a smoothie, while those 6-pack abs lingered in the dark abyss of future workouts.

What a warning for us in living spandex color.

We could wear all the right "Christian" clothes, pay our tithes and give to the needy. We could wake up early and be at the church every time the doors opened. But if we stand passive on the sidelines, we miss the point.

This Christian life is meant to be active, because passive living leads to bondage.

Our call is to fight the fight of faith.

Take every thought captive to obedience.

Run with endurance the race set before us.

Wrestle against principalities of darkness.

Meditate on true things.

Pursue love.

Die daily to self.


We cannot coast through these brief days and expect to stay spiritually fit. Faith is active. It works itself out through our choices.

So let's get that spandex on--or not--and then move about our minutes with purpose. Victory awaits.

Bringing it home...

How do you build your "faith muscles"?

What other action verbs to you see in the scriptures?

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Monday, April 25, 2011

wanting sunday's "He is risen" to affect my monday livin'

I know me too well. I know my desperation for his invasion. Minute-ly. My heart craves things that oppose him. My sin rises from the dead as if it still has a place in this earth-suit. The dailiness can pull at my patience bringing out the unlovely--the attitudes I thought were buried.

Yesterday was Easter--in case you were wondering. With shouts of praise I declared, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! My Lord is risen." But one of the most amazing things about that awe-evoking truth is that it is so personal. That truth is meant to seep into my individual moments and change things. Change me.

No longer do I fall before my Maker condemned. I am declared righteous. No longer am I a slave to sin. I have been set free from the chains. No longer does my tomorrow have to look like my yesterday. He rose to bring newness of life.

Easter affects things in my now...if I believe. If I fight the fight of faith.

With Paul I desire, "if by any means, (that) I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:11) Eyes set firm on eternal things. Promises from the mouth of my God as stepping stones guiding my path. Reckoning myself "dead indeed to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:11) Because of Easter this is our rightful inheritance.

We shouted, "He is risen." We sang. We danced. We worshipped. We remembered. But may that truth invade our moments of today when life happens and self demands its supposed rights.

He rose to free us. On Monday.

Bringing it home...

What does it mean that Christ freed us?

How is that meant to affect our daily living?

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

two angels now sat instead of hovered

Two now sat instead of hovered. For nearly one thousand years two cherubim of gold hovered over the ends of the mercy seat. Facing one another with wings touching, covering that seat of sacrifice while looking on the yearly blood. (see Exodus 25:17-22) But now their wings rested.

When Mary peered into the tomb, two angels sat--one where Jesus' head had been, the other his feet. No longer were the cherubim covering that bloody sin sacrifice. They too declared with their posture, "It is finished."

The final sacrifice had been made. The debt paid with Jesus' unblemished body and blood. Redemption purchased. For me. For you.

Then He defeated death--that final foe.

He overcame. He arose. He looked death in the eye and crushed its power. In full supremacy. He. is. alive!

And He will come again.

One of these days the Father will look to his son and declare to the heavenlies with holy authority, "It. Is. Time." The feast will be ready. The trumpets will shout. The angels will gather in rejoicing. And those who knew him as Lord will meet him in the sky.

The story is not over. In some ways, it is just beginning. He is risen. And He will come again. Hallelujah.

Bringing it home...

One question. Do you know Him?

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Friday, April 22, 2011

he took the cup to his bloody lips and drank

The image of the cross has become so culturally trite, adorned with rhinestones and lying glittery on bare breasts. How far we have come from that rugged wood of old and its sobering reminder of souls purchased with unblemished blood.

He stepped out of splendor, away from the continual shouts of "HOLY HOLY HOLY," where the train of the King's robe fills the heavenly throne room. A room heavy with majestic perfection. In His complete divinity the son of God humbled himself and veiled his glory in man-skin, placing his two feet on this broken earth...

motivated by incomprehensible love.

Then he drank it. The cup filled full of the Father's holy wrath. Every ill-word, every hate thought, every selfish intent, every lustful yearning, every child molested, every prideful bent, every declaration of my glory rather than Yours. Every single sin needed covering. His holiness, by its very nature, demanded.

So he drank it. He took the cup and willingly put it to his bloody, beaten lips. The wrath that we deserved.

He heard the scorn hurled. He saw the faces twisted in contempt. He knew the very veins on the hands of the fingers pointing accusations. He could have called each man, each woman, by name. For in the beginning was the Word...and the Word became life and dwelt among us. Jesus. And he came to die.

Remembering Good Friday and the penalty imposed with overwhelming thanksgiving.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

he washed his betrayer's feet

The betrayer looked down at the Messiah.
Hate churning in his soul.
Deception being plotted in his mind.
With toes dripping wet.

Yet love washed away the day's dirt roads.




In full knowledge.

While willing to die.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
who being in the form--essence--of God, did not consider it
robbery to be equal with God, yet made himself of no
reputation, taking on the form of a bondservant,
and coming in the likeness--the outward appearance--as a man."

Philippians 2:5-7

Let this mind be in you--in me--willing to wash the betrayer's feet, as our eyes are set on the Lover of our souls.

It is Maundy Thursday. We remember him.

Bringing it home...

How is he calling you to follow in his footsteps?

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

lingering that leads to bold obedience

I imagine her eyes stayed on her Lord as his words spilled out in teaching. Her heart stirred to life as she sat quiet near his feet. Submissive. Gleaning. She heard with open ears of the death soon to come. His death. And the prompting overwhelmed her.

She slipped away, purposeful, heart-beating fast with the thought. Once home she pulled her alabaster jar out of its waiting, then glanced upward in humble thanksgiving. Breathing deep. She placed it around her neck and walked those dirt roads quick to find him. To anoint him. *

It seems she may have grasped it more firmly than the others. Jesus had told them of his coming crucifixion. But as she anointed him with her costly oil, his disciples grumbled at her choice of seeming extravagance. He responded to their indignation, "She did it for my burial." (Matthew 26: 6-13)

She laid it all down. She took all of her earthly treasure, all of her future desires, all of herself, and poured it on her Lord. And it pleased him. He then esteemed her.

I want that to be me. To sit low at his feet hanging on his word. To have ears to hear his radical promptings. To boldly obey even if others are grumbling. Father, purge my heart of that which hinders.

Bringing it home...

In the midst of this holy week, join me in taking time to get real with him. Linger before him. Tell him the things he already knows--those things that cause the anxious in your soul. Then meditate on him, his promises, his faithfulness, allowing his peace to calm those wild places. Tamed with the truth of his word.

Then tell me, how does this woman inspire you?

*The first two paragraphs are written with my own creative license. These happenings are not in God's word, only in my imagination.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

my writings will one day end up on a free table

Our church library has a "free book" table. Two words I love. "Free" because I am always looking to win in my purchases. And "book" because expression through the written language opens my soul.

Though I must admit that I am more of a book hoarder rather than a book reader these days. I enjoy knowing they are on my shelf yet rarely get to glean from their last pages, unless you count the Sesame Street series or the latest from Veggie Tales.

The other day I perused the free table and totally scored with books by Francis Schaeffer and J.I. Packer, and a third on the life of C.S. Lewis. I don't read light. But as I balanced these three gems in my arms I had a strange--somewhat depressing--thought.

"These books are on the free table. These books are on the free table." These pain-stakingly chosen words of theological genius now sit--somewhat discarded--on the free table. And I was reminded again of my place in the universe.

There is only One worthy of glory. Only One.

A couple of years ago John Piper's words encouraged me as a writer. He said--and I do not quote because I cannot remember the reference--that every generation needs writers.

We as speakers and writers, who long to lift God's name and point others to His throne, have a place. He gifts with purpose. But we tread dangerous waters when we slip into the tempting desire of self-exaltation.

As we enter into holy week, may we all lay our hearts bare before Him. May we ask the hard question of our soul, "Whose glory do I seek? Yours? or mine?"

Only One deserves the eternal praise. Only One humbled Himself from the heavenly shouts of "Holy!" into flesh clothing, then down to the gruesome death of Roman crucifixion. Only One conquered sin. Only One sits on the throne worthy of honor, forever. And ever.

For we will all end up on the free table.

Bringing it home...

How do you keep from falling into the devastation of self-glorification, especially in your gifts?

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

He scans the earth to show Himself mighty for the loyal

Feeling wild. Doing a Saturday post.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro
throughout the whole earth,
to show Himself strong on behalf
of those whose heart is loyal to Him.
2 Chronicles 16:9

Our God does this. He responds to the heart who believes Him. He reigns on high yet searches, ready to bend low. As we turn to Him by faith--even the faith as small as a mustard seed--He will reveal His might.

You may be one who is waiting--desperate--to see His strength. Know this. He is working. He remains faithful. He promised. He is bound by His word.

Bringing it home...

How do we show our hearts loyal to Him in a culture that denies Him loud?

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

believing the true thing

"MAMA, HE SAID I WASN'T FOUR YEARS OLD!" cries my middle son, obviously upset at the insistence of my youngest.

"Well, sweet boy, you are four. So believe the true thing."

(And no, this is not my son. Though the expression is all too familiar)
photo credit

We have these types of conversations often. One says one thing. The other knows a different thing to be true. Yet agitation and tears flow as "the other" ponders the lie.

But is this not me?

I know the true thing. He loves me, actively and deeply. He is always good. He reigns over this particular situation. He has me here with purpose.

Yet I get agitated and tears flow as I explore the lie. As I turn it round and round in my hands, believing its every crevice. But if He loved me then this. If He was good then not this.

The answer to the emotional madness lies in the focus. If I set my eyes and mind on the untruths, then that which Christ died to give me is stolen--love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

But if I choose to believe the true thing, Spirit-rest fills my lungs. And I breathe. And I smile.

"Oh. Yeah. I am four."

What He declares about me is true. What He reveals about Himself will always be. What He promises for tomorrow will come to pass. Plain. Simple. Truth. The choice is in the believing.

Bringing it home...

How do you choose to believe the true thing?

What true thing are you actively choosing to believe these days

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

do not awaken love too soon, my child

“I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.”
Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, and 8:4

I have scars from my love-past. Tender-to-the-touch places that my sweet Lord has graciously healed, yet marks that will always describe my history. Memories periodically arise reminding of that rough terrain of old, places I walked to learn life’s lessons the hard way. And the memories leave me burdened for my own sweet children.

I'm sharing over at the MODsquad today. Click here to read the rest of the story.

Bringing it home...

How has your own past driven your prayers of intercession for your children or grandchildren?

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

seeing the valley as a gift

The sufferings, the thorn, the excruciating, and the valley can be a gift. Dare we believe Him, that He is cultivating the ground for great faith and great love. And great joy's eruption.

Oh to use caution in our insistence that He take the "gift" away when true life is found in intimacy with the Lover of our souls. He quenches the thirst of the weary. He revives again and again and again.

He proves Himself sufficient.

Take heart. Stand tall. Run into Him. Our refuge. He is worth the deep.

Words of the precious Martha Snell Nicholson. I have posted this poem before but bears repeating. It bears memorizing...

I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out his hand, but as I would depart
I cried, "But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me."
He said, "My child, I give good gifts and gave my best to thee."
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned he never gives a thorn without the added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides his face."

Ms. Nicholson was an invalid.

Bringing it home...

Have you ever thought that even the valley might be a "gift"?
How does that perspective affect our stance?

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Monday, April 11, 2011

it happened there on the soccer field. unexpected.

One particular boy caught my attention. He wandered onto the field during my son's soccer practice and stood in the line-up, a head taller than the rest. And a bit aimless. The coach quickly shuffled him across the grass towards the correct team--the older team. But he stopped at the edge confused.

All around him boys chased and kicked and laughed. Purposed. Playful. But he stood staring, rubbing his hands nervous with his posture uncertain.

I sat on my blanket, with my other two kids squealing and rolling in the grass beside me. My eyes stayed locked on this boy. This wandering soul lost in the midst of soccer madness. Lord, help him find his place. Lord?

Just as I was about to run over and guide his feet, one of his teammates tapped his shoulder and motioned, "over here." And my heart sunk. That this other boy would notice and stop and intervene--it blessed me something deep. In fact, I wanted to hug him. Or call his mama to brag on her son.

Then His words rose up in my spirit, "Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." (Phil. 2:4) And right there on the soccer fields, scripture took on the form of real life.

Do I do that? Do I notice and stop and intervene? Do I look out for the interests of others, or am I consumed with me? Forgive me, Father.

Give me Your eyes that I may see.

Fill me full of You that I might intervene.

For Your great glory, o Lord.

Bringing it home...

How can we "look out for the interests of others" in the daily moments of life?

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Friday, April 8, 2011

stricken with a deadly disease

Convince us of our grievous state.

Overwhelm us with Your abounding grace.

"Once let him see his sin, and he must see his Savior. He feels stricken with a deadly disease, and nothing will satisfy him but the great Physician. He hungers and thirsts, and he must have nothing less than the bread of life." J.C. Ryle, Holiness


Bringing it home...

Practically speaking, how do you feast on Him in the dailiness?

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

my ponderings from a courtroom

I went to court a couple of weeks ago. Yes. Humbling. Back in January, a delightful police officer *wink* gave me a traffic ticket on my way out of town for a conference. A conference in which I was the speaker. About the Bible. And God. And holiness. *sigh*

Anyway, my court date finally arrived in which I had the chance to explain "my side of the story." I pictured myself going before a huge man in a black robe, with shackles clanking at my ankles. It ended up being much less dramatic.

As I sat on a hard bench in a mostly brown courtroom with 200ish other traffic offenders, I started thinking. And then I started writing. So here they are, my ponderings from a courtroom...

clouds above the skyline--

floating quiet,

while I sit in a stale room

with faces looking forward.

waiting. waiting. waiting.

but He's here--

knowing each and every soul,

every tear that fell last night,

every fear that steals the peace.

I wonder how many know.

how many see?

how many look to You for life--

the Maker of the skyline?

I wish I could tell you that revival broke out amongst my fellow violators and we had church. But the magistrate was firm in her no-talking policy. So I settled for quiet musings with Him, praying that those beside me might be blessed by my conference notes laid open on my lap. The word does not return void.

And I know you are just dying to know the verdict. Well. I have to go back to court. Again. One day before another conference. Apparently the magistrate cannot hear defense. Though, I might add, she thinks I have a good one. So I'm on the books, still without shackles.

Bringing it home...

How has God shown up in the most unexpected of places?

OR, how have you been humbled lately? Oh, come on. We're all friends.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

is He leading you to do something radical?

My oldest drew this picture and she only wanted one thing, "for daddy to see it when he gets home."

(I admittedly didn't have to put this picture in the post, but I think it's adorable.)

My man was in Haiti last week on a medical mission trip. Doesn't he look handsome in his scrubs? And no. He's not a doctor. He's a firefighter.

He and a dear friend spent most of the week serving at a Cholera clinic with Samaritan's Purse. And they have many stories to tell from their time in this place-that-still-suffers.

But instead of speaking the details in this space, I want to encourage you with two truths by which God has encouraged me.

  1. God calls. He prompts. He pricks. He leads. As we delight in Him, He places desires upon our hearts. He sets His will in motion.

  2. He blesses obedience. When we follow His lead, stepping out in faith, He equips us in the call. He carries and sustains. He fills. He flows.

My man was called which began as a seed of desire. And then he was blessed last week as he "put his feet in the water" by faith. I was blessed in the watching.

In the end our God brought full circle that initial desire that He had laid upon my husband's heart, to His ultimate glory. And something about that amazes me.

Bringing it home...

Is He calling you to step out in radical faith? Oh, I would love to hear!

Let's follow His wild lead and come up under His blessing.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

being freed from the comparison rut

I can fall into a comparison rut if I'm not careful. If I do not diligently guard my heart ponderings, then my mind will entertains lies. And it can happen so quickly.

A click here, a post there, and before long I'm believing myself to be a horrible mom, an ungrateful wife, a bad dresser, with a frumpy house. Then I just want to eat. Chips or chocolate. Or both.

But that is not what He has for His children. If we set our gaze down here in search of our identity, then we will be left wanting. We will be left comparing.

If we look at those beside us to determine our worth, then the abundance He intended for our daily moments is stolen. And we bow out, surrendering to lies.

When I find myself in that place--holding me up next to another fallen person--there is only one way to freedom. I have to go back to what I know is true.

You, o Lord, are true. You have created me wonderfully unique, with meticulous purpose. You have good things for my today...and my tomorrow. Your love is a banner over my life. Your plans include blessing, even through the hard. Give me your vision. Forgive my discontent. I choose praise. I choose thanks. I choose to believe.

The winds then slowly change. A smile creeps onto my face. A song is churned. And I take His hand's invitation to dance.

Bringing it home...

How have you wrestled with the comparison?

How do you choose Truth rather than believe the lies?

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Friday, April 1, 2011

sometimes we need to do some shoutin'

I'm just a girl on the other side of your screen. Most likely we have never sat across from one another over a cup of tea, shared a good cry, or laughed until it turned to cackling. Though that would be AWESOME!

But I call you "friend" out of the overflow.

This crazy big God has put a love in my depths for you. He has placed this desire in me, that you and I would simultaneously look up and believe Him, adore Him, & praise Him.

Let's just have a little church in this space.

But there is an enemy. I know. It sounds like Sunday talk. But he is the father of lies. And if we are pursuing our Maker, then he knows our names. He knows our weaknesses. And he wants us bound to disbelief with a mind set on temporal things.

So this girl--on the other side of the screen--calls us forth today. Sometimes our soul's need a good talking to. We need to preach some Truth to ourselves and dare to take Him at His word.

Friend. He has that thing under His sovereign control. Peace is rightfully ours in Christ. Sometimes we need to do a little holy shoutin'.

Bringing it home...

Tell me. What promise from His Word are you standing on today?

Me? I'm believing that He is the "God who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did." (Romans 4:17)

And as Abraham, I want to be "fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform." (Romans 4:21) If He said it, then it will indeed come to pass.

Sweet Ann Voskamp over at A Holy Experience is offering a scholarship to the She Speaks Conference.

This gathering is meant to inspire daughters of the King to seek Him first and then spill Him out onto other sister-friends, as He leads. Lord willing, I would love to attend. Would you?

She Speaks Conference

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