Category Archives: Refined by the Word

But seriously, the wonder of it all…

We finished the Be Still series Sunday morning at church.

This one was about being yoked to Jesus and our pastor showed us a picture of what a yoke looks like and explained how it worked when two oxen put their heads through this contraption and he suggested that it might look unappealing to us as humans but it really truly is the way to peace.

True peace.

If you accept the right invitation.

Because we really all are yoked to something.

Or someone.

Even if it’s just our own stubborn self.

I can remember a time where that yoke looked restrictive.

It would mean compliance and what if this wonderful “me” got all swallowed up and looked like a caricature of what the world had started getting me to believe a “Christian” looks like.

Until I came to the bottom of what I can be without Jesus on the throne.

Until I realized that Grace was offering me to slip my neck into that lovely invitation where the God of the Universe was offering to humble HIMSELF and allow HIMSELF to be yoked to one such as me.

One who is stubborn…one who sits down when movement is needed…one who turns left when turning right is the best way…one who tends to want to look back instead of plowing straight…one who gets easily distracted and can be somewhat of a high maintenance ox.

But He sees me in my struggles and He says…

Come to me…

Let’s do this together my daughter.

So that whole yoke thing?

That looks very appealing to me these days.

The wonder of it all is not that I willingly put on His yoke.

The wonder is that He is willing to be yoked with me.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  NLT  Matthew 11:28-30

 

 

 

 

What’s in a name?

A rose is a rose…by any other name or so they say.

And I have absolutely no idea what that means…but…

On Sunday, in class, the question was presented as to why the name used for Jesus and God were anglicized. We could go on with that for really all the names in the Bible because truly the names you and I are familiar with are English forms of Hebrew or Greek names.

And I will stop there because my time is short this morning and so is my knowledge on this subject.

So two quick thoughts to share.

One is to satisfy your curiosity Jesus would have been Yeshua before it was changed to the English version Jeshua  and God would be YHWH until it was expanded Yahweh or Jehovah  in English.

And that, my friends, is a ridiculously condensed explanation gleaned from a quick google search this morning. You are welcome.

The second point is one that I have pondered and marveled over and mediated upon frequently since I left our class that morning.

And that is the name for Jesus that none of us know.

Yet.

Because in the Revelation of John at the end of the Bible, Jesus is described as He will be when He returns.

God’s Word will do you more good today than anything I could say to inspire or encourage you, so sit up straight…or stand up…and read it with me from my NKJV…

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.”    Revelation 19:11 & 12

I don’t know about you.

But when I read those words, my heart starts pounding and I can hear in my spirit THE MOST intense ever of all times climactic scores of music that would put all other music to the level of a kazoo playing Yankee Doodle.

He is called Faithful and True…but He has a name …

I’m sorry…

a NAME…

that no one knows yet, except Himself.

I love what Beth Moore taught once about that…

a name that no one has ever been able to use in vain.

A NAME that has never been misaligned or misunderstood.

A NAME above all names.

And then to top it all off…according to verse 16 of this same passage…when He returns He will have a name written on His Robe and across His thigh…and oh my…can we just picture that for a moment?

And that NAME is …

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS

So until we know His name, we can know Him by the names revealed in Scripture …

Healer

Redeemer

Savior

Messiah

LORD

Forgive

Deliverer

What are some of the names of Jesus that you hold most tenderly in your heart today?

Call Him by His Name <3

Kind of a book review <3

For my birthday I received a copy of Shauna Niequist’s book Present over Perfect.

I have read a couple of her other books or should say, I started to read them but ended up skimming through them after a while because…so many books…so little time.

This one, however caught me right from the start.

It spoke to something within me. A story of familiar struggles expressed in someone else’s language has a way of making us feel less alone and more understood.

It’s probably not for everyone, but here is a quote that made me nod my head vigorously, underline and write “Yep” in the margin several times….

“I’ve always had what I call a crazy brain- a mind that runs and spins, that remembers obscure details and whirs in the middle of the night. …it also runs ahead of me quite often, catastrophizing, over-analyzing, spinning out. As my patron saint Anne Lamott says, my mind is a bad neighborhood. I’m not a potter or a dancer – my mind is my only tool, and at the same time, it’s my greatest challenge, an overeager puppy, a spinning hamster wheel.” pg 67

Yep.

I totally get that.

The body of the book is about how she has had to learn to stop striving and achieving and instead be “present” with God – resting more, trusting more, fellowshipping more.

It is interesting to me that, as the daughter of Bill Hybels, she still grew up and lived much of her adult life with a misconception of God as keeping some score card on her.

She talks about how, because she had a mixed up view of God, based on her own personal understandings, she viewed Scripture in a skewed way for many years.

She consistently states that this was not because she was raised to believe such a lie, but that the way she is wired geared her to that pitfall.

Bill Hybels. Founder and lead pastor of Willow Creek Church and kind of the name we associate with the whole ‘seeker friendly’ wave in ministry around this area of the country at least.

And his daughter had to figure out that God loves her and just wants to spend time with her and have a relationship with her that she can’t earn.

There’s a lesson there for our evangelism efforts.

I think how easily we can fall into the trap of trying to adapt the Gospel to make it understandable to everyone instead of just simply sharing the Gospel and then trusting God through the Holy Spirit to allow each person to work through the process of their sanctification with Him.

I see a tendency in the general world of Church to feel we have failed in the message when someone like Shauna misses the point.

So we change the packaging and presentation so that we can help those like her to “get it”.

But it was through trial and error, through wearing herself out striving and almost losing her primary relationships that God finally broke through to her heart.

We don’t have to market the Gospel.

We simply share it with our words and our lives…sincere, sometimes inept, flawed, progressing slowly along the journey in our ways….

and God brings the harvest <3

The comfortable rut of comparison and why we want to choose a better path <3

I had a random thought the other day about our human propensity to compare our performance, status, circumstances or appearance to others.

We are prone to look around at friends, co-workers, acquaintences and even total strangers we encounter out there in our every day or via the internet and size up how we are doing with how they are doing.

And we walk away feeling better or worse or affirmed or threatened.

But not transformed.

We take pride that we aren’t as decadent as the celebrities while we feel deprived that our “hot mess” isn’t as cute and charming as that Instagram post we just read.

And I think that is why we have a love-hate relationship with this habit of the flesh.

Because it is comfortable and familiar and easier to cope with feelings of being less than this one and superior to that one, and so we continue observing others in light of our own haves and have-nots.

By remaining in the safe zone of measuring ourselves against other frail humans, we never have to set the standard any higher than what we deem to be the best and worst of what is currently available in our peripheral vision.

And God says … stop it.

I find a better way to view and compare in Galatians 6:1-5

Is someone around me having a sin problem?

Gently work to restore that one and be aware and careful because I can well be tempted by the same sin.

Is someone going through a difficult season filled with pain and loss, illness or trial?

Prayerfully ask how I can be used to help shoulder the burden with this one.

Am I looking at how others are doing so I can measure my own successes and failures by those standards?

Honestly assess how I am stewarding the gifts and talents I have been given in light of my generous and glorious and amazing God who has given them to me and bring my shortcomings to the One who extends grace and mercy; the One who patiently shapes and molds me more and more into the image of His dear Son. And work this out with Him and Him alone.

It is effortless and useless to allow ourselves to remain in this cycle of comparison to others.

It is far more profitable and takes more work to begin to examine ourselves in the light of God’s Truth alone.

If we are going to measure ourselves to anything it must be according to God’s standards and not the best or worst of what we see in the people around us.

Here are a few Scriptures to ponder in light of this thought today:

Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.  

2 Corinthians 10:12 ESV

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

2 Corinthians 13:5   ESV

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12: 2-3   ESV

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

Exodus 20:17   ESV

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 

Hebrews 4:12-13   ESV

As I meditate on these passages, I begin to see how wasteful it is to look at the lives and patterns of people around me to measure the course of my journey.

God has fitted me and purposed me to run my race only.

To stay in my lane.

To keep my eyes fixed on Him, the author and perfecter of my faith.

And I am only to look to you to cheer you on in your race. To offer a gentle hand when you stumble. And to accept yours extended to me when I do the same.

Let’s do the greater work of comparing ourselves to God’s standard and leave the comfortable rut of the comparison game behind us <3

 

 

 

 

 

And how exactly does this work?

Last week our church held special prayer services Monday through Friday at three different times.

Each day prayers were directed toward a particular place of brokenness to which we invited God to enter in and do what only He can do.

We started out with the nations and moved each day closer to home until finally on Friday we offered our own personal brokenness up to Him.

And the songs and the words of the prayer leader called this a pleasing offering to the LORD.

Laying down the places in my heart and life where my own sin, or the sin of someone else, or just the fallout from the fall has shredded me and left me ragged and ruined…and that this…is what makes up an offering that a perfect and holy and righteous and wonderful God like our God would lean forward and notice and receive.

I think how when I want to show someone my affection; I work so hard to make something beautiful to offer.

I search for just the right thing…the thing that I know he or she would love…something  mentioned to me in passing or something I have noticed about this one’s taste and style…

and I want to wrap it in the loveliest of colors tucked in a perfection of tissue with the best of ribbons, so that person knows when the gift is offered that I understand what is pleasing to the eye and soul of the one I hope to honor.

So when you tell me that to lay down the deepest places of sorrow and repentance and grief and pain as an offering…it seems a rather unsightly and pathetic gift to offer to the God of all Creation.

And then I get it…

the bruised and bloodied parts of me are why He came.

And when I quit trying to hide them until I can make them acceptable…pretty…fixed…

for they never will be so if left in my hands…

and I lay them down in all their mess of ugly…

He sees that I truly know His heart…

and believe His invitation to come.

It is my brokenness that He wants to take away and it cannot be taken away unless it is laid down.

And we can only lay down that which we offer to Him.

And on the altar all things are made clean and pure.

So come to the altar…bring all the broken parts of you and yes, believe that He will receive those precious shattered pieces with grace and mercy.

I am adding a link to a song that sums this up beautifully here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXXxLwxfo0U

But sometimes…my tech linkology doesn’t work very well…so if you can’t open it, google youtube Come to the Table from Sidewalk Prophets.

 

Have a blessed day.

<3