Do It For Me

I feel the weight of the Creator as I inhale deeply.  Something is brewing.  The immense beauty of this place, this moment, His creation.  “What is it Lord?” I ask.  “Is there something you want to tell me?  Although I know you don’t have to.  I don’t deserve it.  Oh but if you are willing, give me ears to hear.”

I look out across the expanse of rich beauty–the lavish luster of the limitless lake.  The sun is setting, cascading rays on the glistening ripples.  The backdrop of the lake—crimson mixed with pines, in mountainous form revealing an underskirt of clay rock.  The tiny sparrow flies by.  The whip of the fishing rod hisses to kiss the lake’s crest as the ants busy themselves underneath my picnic table retreat.  I look up to see the mighty oak planted firmly in the water.  It’s decades, maybe over 100 years old, sheltering this alcove—straight, tall in righteous rebuke.  Too much beauty to take in.  My heart is filled, content—this is life. IMG-7871

“Oh so filling, Lord” my soul bursts out.  A sparrow lands on the patch of leafy lake debris, perching so picturesque; completely oblivious to the majesty and wonder it carries.  It tilts it’s head and my heart’s mind can’t help but overflow.  Oh the serenity of it all.  My heart cannot contain it all.  Something in this place captivates me.  “What is it Father?  Oh please share if you are willing.  Even if I don’t like the answer?”

The still, soft Voice:

“Do it for Me, Child.  Do it for Me.”

That is what it is all about it.  “Do it all as unto the Lord” Colossians 3:23.  “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked” Psalm 1:1-6.  My delight must first and foremost and always be in the Lord.  My delight is in His law and on it let me meditate, because then I will grow where I am planted and not wither away.  It is from God that comes my strength, my endurance, my approval.  He is what it is all about.  Oh “taste and see that the Lord is good” Psalm 34:8.  Take in His Splendor.  Create for Him.  Abide in him.  Run the race marked out before you, arms back, heart abandoned…don’t look left, don’t look right…look straight at the Creator.

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Rollin’ in a Revival

Let me tell you about our Great God

There ain’t no mountain He cannot reach

There ain’t no valley that is too deep

Ohh let me tell you about our Great God…

When I was worried, He gave me strength

When I was tired He walked my length

When I was hurtin’, He healed my pain

When I was lonely, He did sustain

Ohhh let me tell you about our Great God, I said… let me tell you about our Great God…

You feelin’ dirty, He’ll make you clean

There ain’t no person He can’t redeem

You feelin’ hungry and need some rest?

You feeling empty? Don’t be hard-pressed

You lost and hungry? He’ll fill your cup

You scared and tired, He’ll hold you up

Ohhhh let me tell you about our Great God…

There ain’t no other who can compare

He has no limits, He’s everywhere

You need an answer, just call His name

He’ll come a’ running like a winning game

Oh would someone, someone, let me tell you about our Great God?…I can’t get enough…I said, I can’t get enough…

He’ll hold you tight, He’ll stay real close

More than a brother, He knows you most

Don’t miss His call, His lovin’ hand

You’ll miss the best, the Great I AM

He’s better than a diamond ring

The most amazin’, life can bring

Don’t believe me? Just stay awhile

Just give your heart, you’ll start to smile

It’s not too late to say you’re sorry Come to Jesus, join Heaven’s party.

And that’s the end to this short story

You ain’t seen nothin’ ’til you’ve seen glory.

Hallelujah… ohhh Hallelujah, can I get Amen? I can’t hear you! I said, Can I get an Amen???

A good, Good Friday

Dear Jesus,

When I think about how much you have done to pursue me, pursue us- this broken, defiled, beautiful human race- when I think about how you felt so much anguish that you sweated drops of blood, when I think how your name was drug through the mud and how people abused you and still mock you, when I think about how little time we give to you and how much time we give to ourselves, when I think about how much I still don’t grasp how much you sacrificed out of love me, I want to fall to my face and and kiss your feet. You are incredible. You are a loving and gracious God that feels our sorrow and enters our pain…all for the sake of love. You are so very good. I am a such a sinful person, I am so sorry. Thank you so much for all you’ve done and all you keep doing. You are “awe”-some.

May my heart never forget the depth of your love. Remind me when I am cold. Be my portion and my shield. Let me not forget all you gave, just so you could be with me.

I love you, my Savior, Amen!

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

The Creative Charity of God

“It’s weird, but when you write, or maybe anytime you create something, you want there to be a purpose.  You want there to be an answer to something.  Whether it’s an answer to the callings and yearnings of others or a tool used by God to bring finality to a question—you want it to have a point. …We’re pragmatic. We want there to be a reason behind the experience and a purpose for all the work….”  But perhaps, maybe, “the purpose of creating is not to receive applause but rather to enjoy the gift of acting out one’s God-bearing image.”

“Sergei Rachmaninoff has written some of the most brilliant and masterful classical music ever performed.  Its wonder and technique is vast in its challenge and unrivaled in its beauty.  I once read an article about him that explained the history behind his Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18 masterpiece.  When Rachmaninoff attended the premiere of his work, First Symphony in March 1897, he arrived at the concert hall only to find the conductor drunk and the performance a near-wreck.  Cesar Cui, a prominent critic at that time, said,

If there were a conservatory in Hell, and if one of its talented students were to compose a programme symphony based on the story of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, and if he were to compose a symphony like Mr. Rachmaninov’s, then he would have fulfilled his task brilliantly and would delight Hell’s inhabitants.1

The whole event caused Rachmaninoff to enter into a deep depression that lasted more than three years.  The depression was so severe that he nearly ended all efforts to continue any further compositions.  Finally, his family got involved and forced him to see a psychiatrist who was known to cure depression through hypnosis.  The doctor made Rachmaninoff repeat over and over again in his hypnotic trance, “You will begin to write a concerto…you will work with great facility…the concerto will be of excellent quality.”2 After three months, Rachmaninoff began to wake up to the inspiration that had lain dormant in him for so many years, and he began to create his magnum opus, Concert No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18.  As I read this article by the dimly lit stage and house lights prior to hearing the orchestra execute its magnificence, I was naturally surprised.  An accomplished, talented man whose compositions have been performed countless times for over a century had almost been shot down.  Such splendor would forever have been withheld from millions of ears and—even worse—such purpose would have forever stayed trapped within a man destined to create.”  Excerpt from RAW Inner Workings of a Reawakened Soul, Author’s Note pages iii-vi

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I believe each of us has our own form of creativity.  After all, we are made in the image of the Creator. We bear this God-given gift to be creative in our own right—tailored to the way He has made us.  It’s easy to think of painting, crafting, drawing, singing, writing…etc. when we banter about “art,” which can be really off-putting for the left-brained dominate folks who may not really get much out of art and may even find it senseless.   But thank God, the thread of creativity He has woven in each of us is not confined to our understanding of art.  Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes—wood working, craftsmanship, new recipes, throwing a good party, making a house function, organizing a small space to it’s biggest potential, figuring out ways to motivate people to exercise, finding ways to save money, jury-rigging something broken into something functional, crafting a sentence that communicates professionally an essential key point…..these are all forms of creativity. Creativity is so limitless, just like the God it reflects.

Taking time to be creative can often feel wasteful and inefficient.  It may involve troubleshooting, thinking outside the box, and extra mental space.  But creativity is one of the many reflections of the glory and honor God placed on mankind setting man apart from animal.  “You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:5.  I’m not even sure if angels are privy to this type of autonomy and freedom of creative display.  What a gift we have to be able to execute our personal expressions!

Take time today to “waste” in creativity.  Invite God in, no matter how small the creative initiative is.  When you acknowledge your creativity is an extension of your Creator Father, you have begun to worship in the midst of the mundane, in the midst of the troubleshooting…in the midst of just simply living life.  May you enjoy being an image bearer of the Creator God in your own right, living out the gifts He has uniquely given you.

 

Counting My 2018 Blessings…

I am so grateful for this year. I think 2018 has been one of my favorite years, and I cannot thank God enough for the blessings He poured out. “Dreams fulfilled” sums up many moments of this year— to God be the all the glory! I know that many of you had quite the opposite experience, and I am well aware that most years are often not terrific, so I want to take this time to breathe in the goodness. I know hardship can hit at any moment, and I honestly do fear that, but I want to enter 2019 with gratefulness and praise to God who poured out His mercy and kindness more than I deserve. God is still good even in pain and loss, but it is human nature to see it more clearly during the good times. I must confess, I struggle to see in the bad times. So before the rain, before the sorrow, before the next blunt shock of loss, or the devastation of heartache, I am praising Him for the reprieve, a season of joy, a million gifts of blessing, and the moments when I realized, He has given me “more than I could ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20). To those of you who have had a tough 2018, I pray God sums up 2019 with these three words: redemption, healing, and restoration. Life is fragile and Satan schemes, so may I wear the garment of praise so that I will not forget His faithfulness when the scary shadows of darkness role in.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-12 NIV

When you don’t feel “Holly Jolly”…

For all of those who are hurting this holiday season and feel a little less like decking the halls and more like you’re in your own silent night, my heart goes out to you. This week I’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories of many who have lost their loved ones…moms, dads, grandparents… around Christmas. As the world seems to spin merrily on high, some are hunkered down, wrestling with old memories of painful deaths, or new grief of fresh losses. Story after story I’ve heard this week from coworkers, friends, and patients, how Christmas rushes in with not only a whirlwind of preparation but a whirlwind of sadness fraught with the attempts to put the past behind.

As I sat listening to these stories one after another I was struck with 4 things that I reflected to God:

1.) Thank you, Lord, for my beautiful, simple life.

2.) I know life won’t always be this way– next year or 20 years from now it could be me grappling with the loss of a loved one at Christmas–so be grateful for the gift of peace, family, time together, laughter, and the rich goodness that surrounds you at this moment in time.

3.) Lord, I repent for complaining about so many things of such less importance when I have been blessed beyond measure.

4.) Oh Lord God, Christ incarnate, be near to those who are hurting.

It is at times like these that our hearts yearn for the gift of the incarnation. Jesus, Emmanuel…come. God be with us, now, in these moments, when Christmas feels heavy and pain has stolen all holiday cheer. John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The gift of the incarnation is when the Son of God left Heaven to hurt, to feel, to love, to dwell, to hold, to embrace, to save and to make New a hurting, broken world…this was the joy brought forth on the very first Christmas over 2000 years ago- the joy that collided with the sorrow.

I wonder as Mary held her baby boy, as she grappled with becoming a mother in the most unnatural of means, as she was exiled from home and learning her new husband… did she have sorrow? Did she know that this Divine moment would bring unmatched sorrow 33 years later when her baby would die for a world that hated Him? Did she know that He was the joy and the answer to all those who confront sorrow and loss? The Word, the Cosmos…God, became flesh. Heaven had entered heartache. God indwelled creation. Flesh on flesh, heart to heart– oh Holy night.

Psalms 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

I am thankful for a God who cares and who actually cared so much He couldn’t leave a hurting world, alone. He needed to physically enter in… to hold, to rescue, to wipe tears, to heal, to love on the sick, to conquer death and provide a way to resurrection.

To all those who mourn this Christmas or mourn the loss from a Christmas long ago, may the Incarnate Christ hold your heart and whisper peace over your sorrow.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

My Best Decision

27 years ago today, I made a choice to follow Jesus.  It was and still is the best decision of my life.  I know to some people this may sound weird or radical, but I know others understand.  And frankly, public opinion really doesn’t matter– I would rather have a day with Christ in my life, than a minute without Him.  I don’t know where you stand about Christ, Christianity, church…etc. but all I can say is it is so worth the risk, the time, and energy.

Life doesn’t always make sense and sometimes, despite the Bible having a myriad of detailed verses, it doesn’t either.  But sometimes, something comes into your life that’s a game-changer, something collides with your logic, your fears, your apathy, and challenges it…in a good way.  I think many times people have their preconceived labels and opinions about Christians, but I guess my challenge to you, if you’re that person, is don’t let your assumptions and presuppositions keep you from the genuine, authentic truth about God.

IMG-5525I’ve had my struggles and doubts along the way, gotten angry hurling nasty words at a God I wasn’t sure existed, and still fight vices and just plain ugly parts within me, but praise God,  being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re perfect or flawless.  And if for some reason, you think Christianity is about judgmental people who think their right and you’re wrong, their better and you’re worse, their perfect, and you’re not…I’m so sorry.  I’m sorry that’s been your experience–that’s not it at all.  It’s all about forgiveness.  It’s all about the great equalizer– no sin is better or worse than the next guy’s and as I heard someone say the other day so beautifully…”the ground is level at the foot of the cross.”  Jesus did something for me, I could never do myself– something humanity couldn’t do for itself.  I’m thankful for forgiveness so I can have peace with a just and holy God.  I’m thankful, I don’t have to work my tail off to figure out if I get into Heaven.  I’m thankful I can wake up in the morning with purpose and a sense of adventure because God is alive and personally relates to each of us.

There is so much I don’t know, but just as I would feel the excitement and obligation to tell you about a good deal, fun experience, or special announcement…I just have to “shout it” from the “mountain tops” of a computer-typed blog….Jesus is alive, God does exist, and He is so worth it.

Whatever it is, don’t be apathetic.  Just give Jesus a chance. What does that look like?  I don’t know exactly.  It can be different for all sorts of people–maybe it’s talking to a friend about your questions, reading something in the Bible, trying to talk to God in prayer, stepping foot in a church, asking God your questions– maybe it’s just starting by being real with what you love or hate about the church, faith, or even Him.   If you are looking for purpose–give Him a chance. If you are looking for hope–give Him a few minutes of your time.  If you are tired of judgement or hurting in pain…give Him at least the smallest opportunity to speak life and peace into your world.  If you are bored and need adventure, by all means… explore your faith, ask the hard questions, seek Him out like you would a good friend.  All I can say, is whatever you do and whatever your hesitations may be, don’t miss out on the best decision of your life.

 

 

For Freedom’s Sake

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Dear Daughter,

You are tired, dear one.  Rest in me.  You are not perfect, yet you strive so hard, but you cannot be perfect.  That’s what Christ did for you.  We did that for you so you didn’t have to.  You needn’t strive so hard, furrowed brow, heavy heart, nose to the ground because I promised to complete the good work I started in you.  You need to just be– don’t do, don’t perform, don’t strive– press into Me.  You cannot become more perfect because your perfection is not based on what you do and what you don’t do.  It’s based on what I’ve already done for you.   Press into my benevolence, be present with Me, pursue My presence over perfection–let Me reflect My glory on your face.  Then you will shine out of overflow, not depletion.   You will shine with gratitude, not despair.

Love Your Father,

God