Monthly Archives: March 2017

Along the way…

As I continue to use The Message for a journey through Psalms during Lent, I found this jewel in Psalm 69:9.

“I love you more than I can say. Because I’m madly in love with you, they blame me for everything they dislike about you.”

Packs a punch, doesn’t it?

Of course the “you” is God.

And the “they” is those who are convicted by the Light they see shining in those who love God and have chosen to walk with Him.

The psalmist, in acknowledging his deep love of God, recognizes that the animosity he encounters by others who DO NOT share this love of God is going to manifest as a personal attack on him.

We see it out there in the world but sometimes fail to comprehend it as the basis for some of the uncomfortable tension we encounter on a more personal level with those who share our bubble.

As I meditated on this concept today, I thought about how difficult it is to feel truly and intimately close to someone if I have to subtract my love for our LORD from that relationship equation.

I can be left feeling defensive, judgmental, critical, cold and even question if I am hypocritical…as in…”I love this person. I love God. God loves this person. Why do I feel this huge wall? Why can’t I express His love to them unconditionally?”

From there my mind rabbit-trailed to looking for an example and here is what I came up with.

It doesn’t fit perfectly because it is a picture based on humans, but here we go…

I love my husband AND I am in a covenant relationship with him.

In all my other relationships, that part of me, that is joined to him, is interwoven into the fabric and context.

If you were, for some reason at odds with him, it would affect our relationship because of the very nature of my love for Russ, expressed in the commitment he and I made to each other.

Any depth to the growth of relationship with someone who is at odds with my husband will be stunted at best and severed at worst.

And here is where my example will need a bit of expansion and fails to be a perfect comparison to what God laid on my heart about this passage.

While the verse helps me realize that my love for God can not be separated from who I am…

AND…

therefore, will just BE a factor in all my other relationships…

my covenant with God DOES include unconditional love for all people.

I would naturally take your rejection of my husband personally because, well, he’s my better half and to continue any depth of friendship would smack of betrayal to him.

But this is not how it works in relationships marked with tension because of my love for Jesus.

As we are studying the book of Matthew in our current sermon series, Jesus warned us we would encounter this kind of tension in relationships with non-believers.

His words encourage us to model God in how we respond to those who are not warm toward the God-loving part of who we are.

We are to love them and show grace and mercy to them because He has shown grace and mercy to us.

It isn’t easy but it helps to know that we are not dishonoring God when we extend His love to those who do not love Him back.

I believe as we begin to understand that the issue is not rejection of us but rejection of His Love in us, our hearts expand to see their resistance with God’s eyes.

He desires that none should perish.

So let’s brave a cold shoulder as we continue to extend wide open arms to all people in His Name.

The ability to love those who reject the thing that matters most to us is another Grace-gift from our loving Father.

If you are struggling in this tension in any of your close relationships, ask Him for His love to be poured through you.

I believe this is a prayer He delights to answer.
<3

A Spring Psalm <3

 

For the season of Lent, I am revisiting the 40 Days of Prayer journey through the Psalms written by Angela Thomas-Pharr.

To freshen it up since I just did it earlier this year, I am using The Message translation.

I was delighted beyond belief as I read Eugene Peterson’s translation of Psalm 65, based on his reading and study of this in the original written language.

It is most assuredly a song of praise inspired by Spring and so I share it with you through words and pictures and some of my own thoughts today.

May we join together with hearts of praise even as a little rabbit and a couple of robins watch me type from the patio outside our window <3

Silence is praise to you, Zion-dwelling God,

and also obedience,

YOU hear the prayer in it all <3      v. 1-2

Oh Father God, how these simple words impact me. So few in number and yet they resonate volumes in my spirit.

The aches and ills of this world, the cries of my heart for family and friends, the jumble and tumble of tears and prayers over this and that can assault me as I try to express to YOU what WE NEED.

My petitions, as I try to frame them into meaningful prayers, can suck the very life-blood out of me because I have ceased to remember to PRAISE You.

So I intersperse my prayers with feeble attempts to come up with words of PRAISE that are worthy of YOU and it seems all of them have been used up…

overused…

by well-meaning others who are more gifted and talented at making music a vehicle of PRAISE.

How refreshing to remember…

SILENCE and OBEDIENCE…

THESE are praise to You as well…

YOU hear the PRAYER in ALL of it <3

We all arrive at your doorstep sooner or later,

loaded with guilt,

our sins too much for us –

but you get rid of them once and for all.

Blessed are the chosen!

Blessed the guest at home in your place!

We expect our fill of good things in your house, your heavenly manse <3       v. 2-6ish..

How very true, Abba Father…

our eternally and ever-loving Daddy.

Who waits at the door patiently for us until we are undone…

overcome…

disgusted with…

our capacity for sin.

And we drag it all to the door of Your lovely and love-filled home…

Which you forever….

FOREVER…

FOR EVER…

swing open wide as You welcome us.

Blessed…

BLESSED….

BLESSED….

are we to return to Your loving arms <3

Your names, according to King David in this lovely psalm of Spring are…

EARTH-TAMER

Grapes growing near hotel in Yakima Valley

OCEAN-POURER

 

MOUNTAIN-MAKER

 

HILL-DRESSER

 

MUZZLER OF SEA STORM AND WAVE CRASH AND MOBS IN NOISY RIOT <3 

Father, these are Your names and these are Your character.

And so I join in this eternal song of praise with all of creation…

DAWN

AND DUSK

TAKE TURNS CALLING…

“COME AND WORSHIP”     V. 7-8

and my soul echoes the refrain of King David…

Oh, visit the earth, ask her to join the dance!

Deck her out in spring showers, fill the God-River with living water.

Drench the plowed fields and bring her to blossom and fruit. <3

Amen and amen and amen…

let all of this sweet show of spring call our hearts to deeper places of silence…

obedience…

praise <3

The thing to remember when running one’s race…

I have been attending an exercise class at the ungodly hour of 5:45 AM…I know…on Tuesdays and Thursdays since the start of the year.

Besides the fact that my phone alarm goes off those two mornings about an hour before my internal clock alarm is activated,  I am heading out into public without grooming or coffee.

But I do it for two reasons.

It is good for me and…

by the time I wake up, it’s over.

So…win win.

Our instructor is another plus and keeps a steady pace but also continually encourages and exhorts us.

One of my favorite inspirations from her is a gentle reminder…to not worry about what anyone else is doing. She reminds us that we aren’t competing with anyone except our selves – it’s our race we are running and we want to do our best for what we can do.

In the wee hours of the morning, with a body that has added some weight and creaks and suffered some surgeries and damage the last few years…those words are balm to the soul and the limbs.

She doesn’t know it, but I hear that word of truth throughout the day now.

Because we live in a world where we see waaaaaaay too much of everybody else’s race.

Bombarded with it, we are.

It’s fun i so many ways to be able to connect with all manner of people through social media.

And we certainly have a wealth of ideas available for nutrition, fitness, style, home decor, entertaining, spiritual growth…and on … and on…and on….

But sometimes this over-the-top saturation can leave a body feeling like we are just missing the mark on every single possible level.

Add to it the cross-generation sharing and the empty nester can not only feel like a slouch in real time, but often I am left with regrets for missed mom-opportunities when the little ones were still gracing the halls of our home on a daily basis.

So yes.

I need to remember.

Maybe you do as well.

Don’t look around.

Look up.

Don’t compare yourself to how others are doing it.

Look forward.

Run the race God has marked out for YOU today.

No one else’s.

Any looking at other’s running alongside us should be to cheer them on.

What has God set YOUR hand to do today?

Do it with all your ability…

at your speed…

with your strength…

relying on Him…

and Him alone to finish well <3

 

 

 

Hello Monday <3

We did some yard work this weekend and by yard work, I mean I learned first hand about the thorny work of trimming roses back…

Among the  many thoughts that filled my mind as I attempted, unsuccessfully, to avoid bodily harm were:

<3 Sin, the Fall of Man, and how roses in heaven will not have thorns. Can I get a Hallelujah????

<3 A comparison of how painful one tiny jab of one of those nasty things was compared to a crown of them pressed down on the head of Jesus and how thankful I am for what He endured.

<3 That most people probably just trim their roses without making a life sermon out of it…

and…

<3 How thankful I am I only have to do this once a year.

or once a lifetime if I have these beasts permanently removed from the yard.

Just kidding.

I won’t … but the thought kept me going.

So all that being said, I sat in church yesterday with several scrapes on my forearms, a sore finger and a couple of slices on my ankles that looked like a bad encounter with a mean cat.

And then we did a different version of the Lord’s Prayer and while I stumbled through most of it trying to read the new version while reciting the old in my head…

(trust me, it isn’t easy having this kind of brain to live with because I can overanalyze a sneeze)…

these words caught my thorn-weary heart…

“Forgive us as we forgive those who owe us something”

or as my mind and soul heard it…

Lord, forgive me…

in the same way…

that I forgive..

those people who I feel…

owe me something.

And the Lord worked on my heart there in the quiet of the moment.

Because I saw the capacity of unforgiveness in a different way, even though God’s Word and many a good sermon and teaching have tried to help me see it for what it is.

I realized there are some people that I feel “owe me”…

maybe it’s an apology I am waiting for…

or a thank you…

or a recognition that I was right and they misjudged me.

Maybe it’s to somehow restore something they took from me…my time or my resources, a piece of my heart.

Maybe their choices have now put ugly scars on some of my sweetest moments from the past.

And by golly…they OWE me something to make up for it.

But then I think about what Jesus was telling me in the prayer He taught His disciples.

And all the times I have taken what wasn’t mine and squandered gifts.

All the times I messed up and caused pain.

All the times I clearly saw right from wrong and chose wrong.

All the times I was too busy having fun to even notice I was making a choice.

All the times I was ignorant of what I was doing and yet caused damage to others and to the Kingdom.

And if my being forgiven what I owe depends on my ability to forgive what others owe…ouch.

Such knowledge is a deep thorn cut to the soul for sure.

But it isn’t what convicts my heart of the sin of unforgiveness that I am so prone to commit.

It is the gratitude of the debt that was paid…

FOR ME…

BY HIM…

for what I owed.

This…

remembering the price paid for my sorry soul…

is what finally breaks the hard places in me that are waiting to be repaid.

My chains are gone…

I’ve been set free…

My God…My Savior…

has ransomed me…

His mercy….

His MERCY and GRACE….

not only RAIN…refresh…renew….revitalize me

they REIGN…RULE…are SOVEREIGN

 over

me <3

 

 

 

 

To wind it down, at least for the week <3

Happy Friday!

As we come to the end of the week, I leave you with one more thought regarding the Church … the Body of Christ universal.

I was visiting with a sister in Christ this week about some of the classic Christian writings from the past generations. We were discussing the timeless truths that sincere Christ-followers have expressed into their times and places.

The litmus test for timeless truth-writing is that it finds its foundations in God’s written word, not the climate of the culture around the author.

I struggle when believers say we can agree to disagree about the inerrancy of Scripture.

If the truth of Scripture on any point is up for grabs based on our preferences, than so is the message of Salvation.

God’s Word…from the beginning to the end…is God’s Word.

It either is. Or it isn’t.

And yes…

we have to study it ourselves and with others.

And yes…

there are AHA! moments when our eyes are opened to something we interpreted one way or the other and suddenly it becomes clear that we were missing what God was saying.

But no…

we can’t rewrite Scripture or disregard certain aspects of it that make us uncomfortable.

 

THIS applies to the way we view our world AND the way we examine ourselves in the deepest places.

Jesus, Himself, affirmed Scripture as TRUTH.

I love what the pastor at John’s church quotes – All truth is not found in Scripture, but all Scripture is truth. I believe he attributes that to one of his professors…I could be wrong…don’t sue me.

What this phrase means to me is that we can encounter true things outside of the Bible, but when we open the pages of Scripture and look deep into God’s Word…

E.V.E.R.Y. W.O.R.D.

IS

TRUTH

The world and those who have not received Christ are at liberty to regard the Bible as a story… a myth…a suggestion…a joke…a man-made thing to force people to obey a bunch of antiquated rules…or any number of things that we hear outside the Body.

But here, inside the Body…

The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.                     Psalm 119:160

“…and the Scripture cannot be broken.” (Jesus)   John 10:35

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (Jesus)  John 17:17

“For assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle (the smallest stroke in a Hebrew letter) will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Jesus)     Matthew 5:18

All Scripture is given by inspiration (literally breathed on to the page by the Living God through human authors), and is profitable for doctrine (the foundations of what we believe), for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.   (Paul)  2 Timothy 3:16

And finally…when Jesus responded to Satan’s attempts to twist God’s Word and write his own story He used these words…

“It is written…

It is written….

It is written….”     Matthew 4: 4, 7 and 10

We definitely do not understand ALL of God’s Word, which is why we study.

We most assuredly do not always apply it correctly, which is why we practice the disciplines and remain in fellowship with other followers to work that out.

But the shifting sand where we pick and choose out of Scripture the things we will believe and the things we will disregard is no place for any Christ-follower to stand.

May God bless us with a deeper love for Him through the reading of His Word. May He grant us understanding and obedient hearts on which His Word can be engraved. Because surely we, who follow Christ, are now engraved on His <3