Sunday, September 30, 2012

More than we could ask or imagine...

"20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."--Eph 3:20-21

This weekend we had a "Not Alone" baptism at Church!  We've been praying for weeks for this weekend.  Last night we baptized 37.  This morning, in the second service there were more than 150 who signed up and got in line for baptism--it's still going on.  I have no idea how many came in the earlier service.  They set up 4 horse troughs on the stage and they should have set up 20.  It's hard not to cry for each and every one.  One man just confessed that Jesus healed him of cancer in the last two weeks (we happen to be in a sermon series on miracles).  Many of them confess their adoracion for Jesus in Spanish.  What a delight! 

Each one stood to say they were not ashamed of Jesus and that the people who stood beside them had "held their rope" just like the 4 men who dropped their paralyzed friend through the roof for Jesus to heal them.  There is no better testimony--that's what Baptism is all about!

Last night, I stood as a counselor when they invited people to come for baptism even if they hadn't planned to do it.  We even had clothes for all of them.  So last night, I met a new friend.  She has been praying about getting baptized for months.  She was even thinking about going to Atlanta to be baptized since she watches Andy Stanley on TV all the time.  The Lord told her to come last night.  She had no idea that baptism was all we were doing last night.  Before the service, I had prayed for more to come, spontaneously.  I prayed through until the Lord said to get up, that they were on the way.  Gotta love the way He works. 

I just watched a an adult woman with Down syndrome praise God in Spanish.  How cool!!  We're still watching it stream on the computer and it's noon.  They're inviting more. 

Our admin pastor had included these baptisms on his prayer list a few weeks ago.  He asked me to pray for 75 baptisms through the weekend.  He easily tripled that number.  What an amazing opportunity to see God work!  Definately, "immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Don't stop praying too early...

A dear friend of mine is near the end of getting out of some serious financial trouble.  Her debt is going down, quickly, but those last little bits are getting to her.  She's mostly out of money and having to hold the line with her kids and it's hard.  God has done amazing things to get her here, but today--so close to the finish line--she was overwhelmed with a lack of peace about it that she couldn't explain.

As we talked through it, it was clear that at the pace God has been working, she would be free by the end of next week but she's got several things she needs to do and needs to do now.  As we prayed and talked together, this is what popped out of my mouth:

"God doesn't answer our presumption.  He answers our prayers."

She has been walking in trust and gratitude.  God has been steadily providing.  We both know He will provide eventually, but the lack of peace in her spirit is an evidence that God is not satisfied with meeting her need in a "run of the mill," "due course of time" way.  There must be something else going on.  God loves to provide in a spectacular way that leads to His Glory.  I fully expect God will wipe the debt out today as she prays. 

Too many Christians ask God once and assume that it's enough.  We are in a dynamic relationship with God.  Jesus encouraged us to perservere in prayer until we get an answer from Him.  That doesn't always mean we see the result, but it does mean that we perservere until He gives us the witness of the Holy Spirit's peace that He has provided all that He desires to provide.  At that point, there is no more need to pray, but until that point, there is danger in stopping.  Remember the time that Elisha told the King to strike the ground as a witness of how he will go out and strike his enemies:

18 Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. 19 But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”--II Kings 13:18-19

I get the feeling from the way Elisha responded that the King should have known better but wasn't paying attention.  If God has more for us, then it's important to keep asking until we have gotten to where He wants our heart and not a step shy of that.  He loves us too much to let us be at peace until we are there.  Don't ignore that. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Blind people...

“But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 NLT

When was the last time you got frustrated because someone just doesn't get it?  God does things that are amazing and nothing you can do or say can get them to see it from that perspective.  This verse sheds some light on the issue.  You can't expect a blind man to see.  It takes the eyes of the Spirit to see spiritual things.  New ager's often talk of enlightenment and spirituality, but all they can see is the deception of the enemy.  To some extent you can't fault them for their blindness.  Jesus encountered this:

39 Jesus then said, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”
40 Some Pharisees overheard him and said, “Does that mean you’re calling us blind?”
 41 Jesus said, “If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure.”--John 9:39-42(MSG)

He's willing to give them credit that they don't get it, but since they claim they do, that credit is useless--partly because in their arrogance, they won't be able to ask for real sight or accept His help to understand.  It's ok if they can't see because He came to help them see.  It's not ok to refuse to see.

In the same way, it's ok if someone doesn't get it yet.  The answer is to pray for God to open the eyes of their Spirit (and He will.)  On the other hand, if they just don't want to get it, that's a different matter.  At that point, Jesus just lets them stay in their blindness--until they are uncomfortable enough there to want something more. 

I'd be careful here, because as children of our Heavenly Father, we are called to bless and not to curse--and we don't know what will break their arrogance.  We really don't know what will break our own arrogance.  I pray that the Lord is gentle with me in this regard so I want Him to be gentle with them as well.  When Jacob wrestled with God, God knew exactly where to touch to disable Jacob's defenses.  To me it seems like the best way to pray is that the Lord contend with them until they can yield to Him, and continue to serve them as best we can. 

The frustration of dealing with stubborn people (including my own stubbornness) is what grinds us down--like adding a beautiful bevel to a piece of glass so that it is fit to go into a stained glass window.  The process hurts, but the result is patient endurance that reflects the Father's patience.

I want that (sorta).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

This decade's prayer

Letting go into a leap of faith...
Over the last decade, I've had the same prayer:

"Lord, I know I'm capable of a lot, but it is nothing in comparison to what You can do.  What I can do will never be enough.  I need You to do what You can do." 

I was born with great abilities.  My biggest struggle growing up has been figuring out the difference between what I could do and what I should do.  I have a better idea at 42 of what God has called me to, but mostly I've given up looking for a calling.  I do what the Lord says to do (as well as I can).  I trust Him and He leads me.  He sends me work.  He sends me people to pray for and tells me what to pray.  He hears me when I call, calms my fears and quiets me with His love.  He is amazing and I look forward to an eternity of exploring the depths of His presence. 

In the meantime, in answer to my prayer, He has placed me more than once in the position where I couldn't do anything.  He has lead me directly into situations that were beyond my capability to complete and left me hanging, waiting for Him to do what only He could do.  It hasn't stopped being frustrating.  It also hasn't stopped being amazing. 

For instance, my body doesn't do what it used to.  My kids take more attention.  So, I lost my job--the job He provided.  He pushed me almost immediately into creating a company.  It was almost 6 months before I had any work for my company, but in the meantime He provided good research work through UF and increased my husband's income by about 25%.  (He's having to learn to trust too).  I keep having to do things I don't think I can do and He keeps making up the difference. 

I don't trust in my own abilities to do anything of any consequence any more.  Only the work He does lasts--or even works for that matter.  Obedience isn't as much of a chore, it is the key to a spectactular adventure.  I can't wait each day to see what He's going to do next.  As with any other adventure, it's not always safe, but He's good and trustworthy. 

I don't know what's next, but I know Him and that's enough...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Generational faith...

My mom is here this week.  I'm really enjoying having her here and she's working hard on PJ's program with him (adding some things).  PJ's really enjoying her too.  I'm driven and focused.  Mom believes devoutly in the value of play--particularly regarding therapy.  I'll get there eventually. 

It reminds me of Timothy's family:

"5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you."  II Tim 1:5

Poor PJ has been buried in his mom and grandma's therapy demands for several days.  He's also been buried in our faith.  Love that.  He doesn't know how blessed he is (I hope). 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I don't know what to write today...
Lord, what will You provide for others?  I will wait.

Yesterday was not the first time that I have sat awaiting the Lord.  There have been days that all I knew was that His presence was real and at rest, but that I was to await His priorities.  It is a still feeling.  A calmness ensues; an eager expectancy that awaits His work.  It is accompanied by another understanding--a deep, disquiet about moving out of the position He has placed me. 

This understanding has come at a great cost.   Far too many times, I have disregarded His direction to my great dismay.  The consequences have been dire.  When I act during the time I should be waiting, it is only because I don't fully trust God to act and that is disaster--just ask Sarah and Abraham. 

The acronym PUSH is so appropriate--Pray Until Something Happens.  My grandmother used to tell us, "Don't move anything you haven't first moved with prayer."  If nothing else, as we try to move the world back to something upright before Him, it is His job to align us in the position that will be the most effective.   A boulder resting at the top of a hill will move with only a small push if it comes from the right position.  Pushing it sideways won't do much and it might be hard to find just the right place on a very large boulder.    Within the process of waiting and praying, I often find that my prayers dramatically change.  What I first asked for would have been wholly inappropriate, but God reordered my prayers during the time I waited. 

Wait upon the Lord...He is worth the wait.

Defending God

Ok, I've stayed out of the political fray for a long time.  I'm still not jumping in very far, but I do have an observation...

It is ironic to me to see how vigorously the Muslims defend their god. In the last two weeks there have been riots and calls for people's heads regarding a film that attacks Mohammed and Islam.

Our God brooks no defense for He needs none. All insults will irrevocably be erased and not by us, but the ultimate revelation of Who He Was, Is and always Will Be. Any defense we could attempt would be laughable in the light of who He is--like little Lucy holding up a sword at an army. They may laugh at Lucy, but the Lion behind her is no laughing matter.

In the same way, He teaches us not to defend ourselves: 

38 You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

43 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  --Matthew 5:38-43

19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.--Romans 12:19

These are hard things to receive as long as I am building my own kingdom or trying to provide for my own needs.  When I'm focused on building His Kingdom and functioning as His ambassador and a dearly loved child of the King of Kings, I remember I have access to unlimited strength and resources, which positions me for generosity and patience.  When I understand at my very core that all injustices will be corrected by someone who has infinite power and ability to judge rightly, I lose the need to try to correct wrongs.  I also remember all too clearly the things He has forgiven in my life and realize I have no room to begrudge that forgiveness and gentle correction to anyone else.  I've also personally seen Him defend me when I deserved it or when His kingdom needed it--and who can refute it when God Himself defends you? 

We can walk stately, with elegance and authority.  We have resources we never imagined.  That power behind us gives us the power to do good and relax. 


Sunday, September 16, 2012


"But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint."
--Is 40:31

This has become a year of waiting.  I suppose that goes without saying when your word for the year is "dry dock"...  Still, it catches me by surprise sometimes. 

Today I went to the late service to help out with the prayer ministry.  All hands were on deck and it was a great time.  When it was over, I felt driven back to the prayer room.  I sat in the stillness again with no agenda, but without permission to leave.  God's presence was gentle but not overwhelming.  Several people came and left and I enjoyed seeing them, but as they left, I just stayed because the Lord wouldn't let me go.  I had a wonderful time reading and relaxing in the quiet with no idea why I was waiting. 

Eventually one of the other intercessors came in and we had a lovely time talking.  I don't see her often, but she is a true treasure.  She reminded me of things I already knew and told me about how God had rescued her life before she was even born.  I showed her nuances of how God works within her own story that she hadn't considered.  I asked her for prayer and she not only prayed over the work God is doing in my story right now, but also promised to include it in her own journals where she lists the things she regularly brings before the Lord.  I am deeply honored and my strength was renewed. 

Earlier today, the Lord reminded me that He rejoices on the rare occasions that I humbly obey just as much as I rejoice when Katie forms a full sentence on her own.  We are both handicapped.  Katie has speech delays; I am proud and easily morph into a human doing instead of a human being.  We are both learning to get beyond our limitations.  Waiting is a part of the cure for my pride and I'm beginning to really enjoy it. 

My God is good to me.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Tonight, the sermon was on miracles.  Jesus came to show himself as God and he proved it through the miracles He did.  His miracles were both a sign, pointing out who he was and where the real source of power is, but also a window into a world rescued from the fall.  They pointed out where God was doing a new thing. 

Since we believe that God still does miracles, particularly when He is doing a new thing in our lives, our pastor invited people to come up and pray with our team of intercessors and pastors.  We have a great team and many of them came out on a Saturday night, even though they are usually only at church on Sunday morning.  It is such an unbelievable privilege to walk people boldly to the throne of God Himself, first to see the majesty of His face and then in seeing Him, rejoice at His willingness and power to meet their need and display His glory.

Several of the people I prayed with were clearly divine appointments.  One is a longtime friend who didn't even need to tell me what her heart was aching over, but at the Throne, the Lord provided a new avenue for prayer that will truly break open the situation.  Another was a person in tears who needs a new job and needs relationship repairs, but needs to know God is there with her far more than she needs the provision in her circumstances--I can understand that too.  The last one I prayed with was a mom who just wants her daughter to speak.  I can't even count the times my heart has broken wanting my own daughter to speak.  After we prayed, I was delighted to welcome her and her daughter to our Saturday night service, letting her know that her 8 year old will be just as welcome as my own 10 year old. 

This is the stuff.  There's nothing like it, short of spending time before His glorious face myself.   What a joy!  The real miracle is that He could use a proud, silly, over-educated slacker like myself to delight in His work, treasuring a role that is decidedly behind the scenes. 

Now we get to see what God gets to do with all we have asked.  My Father is amazing. 

Friday, September 14, 2012


Years ago, I had the chance to go on a summer internship to Maine to do research.  We had only been married a few years and the thought of spending the summer over a thousand miles away from my home and husband was pretty daunting.  During that time, the Lord gave me a scripture to encourage Me as I went.  Every time I felt anxious, He would remind me of Phillipians 4:6-7: 

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Truly, His peace did guard my heart and mind that summer.  I arrived in Maine, teary eyed and a bit frightened, but to a world overwhelmed with spring blossoms.  Within a few hours the Lord had provided me with a church, a home and a family that I still treasure today (and since I had to bike 9 miles each day, by the end of the summer I was stunningly gorgeous.)

This morning, the Lord provided me with a new trigger for this season.  I frequently feel alone right now for many reasons.  I've also been trying for several years to walk continually in His manifest presence, not allowing His worship to cease in my heart--in essence, to "Pray continually." He reminded me of how powerfully He cared for my every need while I was in Maine because I was able to take every anxiety back to Him in complete trust that He would meet that need. 

In the same way, as I feel alone, He reminded me to use that feeling as a trigger to seek out His presence again.  I need those kinds of triggers.  His presence is the perfect comfort for my isolation.  In His presence, there is the fullness of joy.  I am at peace.  I can act rather than react.  It is the ultimate stability. 

Thanks, Father, Friend and my greatest Love...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Perspective, II

Yesterday, I talked about eternal things, but there is one other thing that is eternal: what we do with God. The things we do for God won't last, but the things He provides for us to do will have eternal fruit. Check it out in I Corinthians 3:

"11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.
12 Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. 16 Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in[d] you?"

If we build our own kingdoms, using the materials at hand, we can build something that that would be adequate to house ourselves, but inadequate to house God.  When placed on the altar, what we have built for ourselves will go up in smoke, obliterated by the sheer majesty of God.  A house built of gold, silver or precious stones is not what a man needs or wants, but anything less is unfit for God.  We also don't have access to those kinds of materials.  If we are to build such a mansion, we must get the materials for it from God or it will not be built.  We need to get the plans from God, because we don't know how to build with such materials.  We don't know how to do anything in the way He does it.  We can only follow and obey.  Even our good deeds, He views as filthy rags--the leftovers of what it talkes for us to reproduce ourselves.  The fact that we have any chance of working with Him at all is unbelievable. 

So what's it going to be?  Our kingdom or His?  We can be in His family and still build our own kingdom, but in the end, what will it prosper us?  Everything we've done will be destroyed on the altar and we will have nothing left.  I say "we" because it's an easy choice in general, but a hard choice on a moment by moment basis.  I have to fight to pick the right kingdom to build every moment of every day and choosing to build the eternal kingdom means laying aside my own building projects, including many of the projects that make me happy or comfortable.  I don't succeed at it every day.  I'm not sure I have ever succeeded at it for more than a few minutes, but just like praying continually, I'm not going to stop trying.  Or better yet, I am going to let Him have as much control as I can and rest in His ability to transform me into something usable because without His work, I have nothing to give.  With His power, there is no limit to what He can do.  

That's what I want...How about you?

Monday, September 10, 2012


We have so many things we think of as permanent.  Trees, buildings, classic artwork, mountains, the pyramids... 

Each of these last a long time, but there are things that God says are in a completely different category. 

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever."
--Is 40:8

As long as these other things will last, God's word is promised to last forever, which is a lot longer.

Another thing that will exist forever is man.  Being created in God's image means that we are semi-eternal.  We have not always been, but we will exist into eternity.  That means that even a bum on the street will exist longer than the pyramids and even the earth itself.  The choices we make now--whether to submit our will and live with God on His terms or bow up against Him and live without Him--those are forever choices. 

I don't know many people that will willingly choose to give up their own will for anyone--especially not a God they haven't met, but it's a critical choice.  That's why it's so important to tell people about Him.  How will they know if we don't tell them?  How can they stop attempting to buy God's favor unless they're told it's already been bought for them?    All we can do is ask God for the opportunity to make Him known and gently, tenderly follow up on it.  We can tell our own stories of the amazing rescues God has crafted for us.  God will rescue them too.  It's not our job, but we can be a part of the process and rejoice to see the rescue. 

There's something else that is eternal, but that is for tomorrow...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Loving in Action

Ok, this is one I really struggle with.

My husband and I took Love Language tests years ago and although I am multi-lingual, his primary love language is acts of service.  That means it really touches his heart when I serve him well.  Unfortunately for him, I've always been a better engineer than housewife. At the moment, my dust bunnies are approaching the size of real bunnies. 

I've tried to shower John with the words of affection I deeply desire.  No impact.  I have sat beside him for hours playing online games with him.  Nothing.  I've tried finding gifts he'd like.  He complains about me spending money.  I've scratched his back for hours on end.  That makes a dent, but only just... 

I'm still trying.  Right now, the intoxicating fragrance of baking bread is wafting through the house.  I'm about to go fold another load of laundry.  The kitchen is still cluttered, but there are clear counters in most locations and they shine.  The sink is shiny too.  I'm going to keep trying.  It's the best I can do.  I could beat myself up, but I John 3 also says:

(v.20) If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

I know if I keep at it, My Father sees and He will reward me.  He knows how far I've come and how far I have to go.  In the end, He's the only one that matters anyway. 

And the bread is really yummy with home-made blackberry jelly.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

He Comforts Us

As a new parent, I was so attuned to my son, PJ.  There were many times I needed PJ to do things he didn't want to do and keep his cool at the same time.  We watched each other continually.  As he watched me stay calm, I could see it was easier for him to react calmly to his circumstances.  For example, when he was 5 years old, we had a string of 4 hurricanes that ran through our area, each within weeks of each other.  We had large trees in our back yard and these were serious storms, some of which lasted for days.  Our entire region was covered with blue tarps for the next 6 months or more.  We were in a 2 story house and for everyone's safety, we all slept downstairs.  We even pulled our queen size mattress down from our bedroom and slept in one of the hallways.  I watched the chandelier in our front entryway for hours as it swayed in the high winds.  To PJ, it was a gigantic family sleepover, complete with grandparents.  For months afterward, he would ask us if we could have another hurricane.  As he watched us closely, he could see that we weren't really worried and he didn't need to be either. 
I also watched him.  I knew where his emotional limits were and would adjust my attitude and responses to his.  I could see when he was getting truly upset and provide extra comfort to help him get through it.  Of course it was easier with only one.  (I didn't do so well with more than one...but I'm getting better). 
Our heavenly Father is such a great parent in that way too.  He watches us as if He has no one else to watch and He is careful to provide comfort to us when we're about to lose it.  But even more, when we watch Him as closely as our own children watch us, we quickly come to see that he is rarely upset and never out of control.  That engenders trust and we begin to react as He does.  I think I remember a verse about that...
"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."  Ephesians 5:1-2
In the Garden, before the crucifixion, Jesus took time to seek out His Father's face and the Father sent the comfort he needed to make it through.  Even though Jesus knew what was going to be involved in giving up his life for us, he calmly went to the cross, "as a sheep to the shearers is silent."  Without seeking out God's face, that would be impossible for anyone.  There are parts of my days that would be impossible without going to God's face too.  I bet there are probably a few parts of your days that are that way as well...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In sickness and in health

This week has been a sickie week here.  I hung out in bed all day Sunday and a good chunk of yesterday.  PJ was home yesterday too.  I can't tell if it's an achy head cold or a nasty bout of allergies, but we are definately dragging.  We even stayed home last night--and I hate missing CR and PJ hated missing Boy Scouts.  We're still pretty sluggish and I don't know what the day brings.  I have some quiet work to do today but we may not do much more. 

In a marriage, we vow to care for each other in sickness and in health (kudos to John on that one).  We've both been struggling with low grade, chronic illnesses for years.  Of course, Katie also has Down syndrome and PJ has major developmental gaps (and that's just what we know about). 

Our relationship with Jesus is also not conditioned on our health.  In all of our struggles, our heavenly Father has been faithful and gracious.  He has frequently shown us where healing can be found, but even more, He is faithful even when we are sick.  Although we've had setbacks, we also choose continually to be faithful, even when we can't be well.  We also choose to be faithful when we are well--and rejoice in the strength to care for others.

We live in a fallen world.  Sickness happens.  We also "wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers."  We are in a war and although the field of battle may be our bodies, the most critical enemy is spiritual, not physical.  With Job, we can say, "Though He slay me, still I'll trust in Him." 

The other day on the way to PJ's school, the Lord reminded me that the coldest, cruelest people I've ever known were those who have never been touched by illness, fear, lack or discomfort.  At that moment, I rejoiced with the Lord over the infirmities that PJ has had and has seen in all of us.  An understanding of weakness breeds compassion and dependence on God--something that PJ shows frequently.  Had all gone perfectly, PJ might not know what it is like to struggle to learn or sit still and could have mocked those who are not so fortunate with no regard for their Maker. 

I would take those struggles away from all of us in a heartbeat if I could.  My Lord is wiser. I cannot imagine the pain He endures as He watches us suffer, but for the joy set before Him, He again endures it for our good.  I have asked for healing.  He has provided wise and compassionate souls rather than sound and secure bodies, though when His work is complete, He heals our bodies so that we may serve Him.  Again, I stand in awe of the severe mercies of my dear Friend. 

Thank You, Father, Friend and Love...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Personal or Corporate Worship?? Yes.

The last section of Step 4 (Inventory) was about our church experience.  In many ways, I have very few issues ragarding the church.  I've been through several church splits and I'm not pain free, but for the most part, the church has been a place of ministry and encouragement.  As we discussed the topic, I realized that although I love my church, it really isn't a place I worship.  It's a place I serve, and I delight to see what God does as we work together.  I suppose, I worship as I rejoice to see what He does, but worship is rarely a part of my own experience there. 

Don't get me wrong, our church has an amazing worship team.  Not only are they unbelievably talented, they love the Lord and their worship is heartfelt and wonderful.  It's just that I have come to enjoy my own private worship time with the Lord so much.  That evening, when I wistfully pined to My Father, puzzled about "missing out" on the "experience" of corporate worship, He graced me with an amazing evening of passionate, graceful worship.  I felt a tinge of discomfort about being swept away in the emotion of the evening and feared the emptiness afterward, but there was none.  As a teenager, I often found that these passionate experiences would be followed by the day to day frustrations, and I felt unchanged.  I came to distrust these experiences for that reason, but my every day experience is very different than it was then.  The passion and power I experience (and need) continually has an intensity of its own that individual experiences cannot match. 

These day-to-day experiences with Christ, in the Word, in my own heart, in each and every moment do continually transform me.  I have serious trust issues.  Although my parents loved and cared for me, they were human and have failed me.  I've struggled to work in teams because I would often have to carry the majority of the burden because other team members couldn't keep up (or I couldn't let go).  John is human as well and although he is trustworthy in the practical affairs of life, he doesn't always know how to help me feel loved.  We have experienced great loss through the years and I have just as frequently let myself down.    Day by day, Jesus reveals Himself as trustworthy and little by little I learn to truly rely on Him.  As I let my guard down to Him, He comes through and His rescue is amazing and elicits my profoundest worship.  These are the worship experiences that transform me.  He has wooed me tenderly, gently in the way I my heart needs to let down its defenses.  I am smitten.  This type of worship has become richer through the years.  We have had breathless experiences together in the midst of thousands of worshipers.  We have had quiet moments in a dirty kitchen.  I'm loving every minute. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

A real Evangelism Explosion

This weekend sour 12 step group celebrated completing step 4: inventory.  For those who've never gone through a 12-step program, step 4 is the hardest of all the 12 steps and completing it deserves a celebration.  As we talked over the last few months, our leader told us about how evangelism happens naturally as a part of Celebrate Recovery.  She's had so many people who want to come and meet Jesus too when they find out there's a way out of their issues and addictions. 

One of the girls, not quite understanding, asked to come help with the evangelism, as if it were a program.  It didn't take long for her to see that she already is.  God has done great things in her life and she is not at all shy about telling others.  I've noticed that a lot in CR.  These are real people with real hurts.  They need Jesus every day just to get through the day--sometimes just to get through each moment.  Because His rescue is constant and critical in their lives, they are not at all shy about telling anyone that He is their life-line.  They are walk in desperation for Him and are more than eager to share the bread of life they have found with other starving people.

The truth is that we all desperately need Jesus every moment, but we don't all know it.  We were created to be like Him for the purpose of knowing and loving him.  He is our very purpose for existing, in the most literal sense.  Unfortunately, most of the "normal" world has figured out how to muddle through without Him--or worse, how to thrive on their own.  Sometimes they might experience an existential longing or post-modern ennui, but the truth is, as far as they know, their functioning doesn't depend on anyone other than themselves.  Above all men, the self-satisfied are cursed.  They enjoy the benefits a good God provides in the world they live but can't or won't recognize His hand in it.  Unless they recognize their need, they will choose themselves over God and He will let them have their disasterous choice. 

As we talked yesterday, I realized that this is why evangelism "programs" are almost always doomed from the start.  I've seen churches where the pastor begs, pleads and guilts people to come to the evangelism program every week.  They try to teach people who know no need of their own to tell other self-satisfied people why they need Him too.  Within most evangelism programs, there are always a few highly lauded salesmen who can sell ice-cream to Eskimos, and they come back each week with a new convert, but in the end they are just that--salesmen.  They go to win souls, as if it were their duty to God to meet their sales-quota for the week.  They have not been transformed so they have no real way to show their new "convert" what that transformation looks like.  They tell the truth when they say that Jesus is the answer--but they haven't needed to ask any questions for themselves yet so they're not really sure what He's the answer to.

I have seen God rescue these women's lives.  I've seen Him daily rescue my life.  I want so much for others to know Him, but I realize now that unless He shows them how much they desperately need Him, there's no place to start.  On the other hand, one transformed life, or even one faithful life that is completely dependent on the power of Christ is more attractive than a thousand programs.  Our God is living and active--and as He acts, He draws all men to Himself.  That's the only evangelism that really matters.