Monday, March 31, 2008

nothing...absolutely nothing

Beautiful flowers lined the front of the worship center. In the middle of the pinks and yellows and greens was the casket, a reminder throughout the service that this precious woman was now with the Lord.

As my fingers danced across the keys of the piano, the voices of the vocalists rang in that large room.

“Never can the powers of darkness. Neither death nor life. Let nothing ever separate us. From the holy love of God.”

It was like I was hearing the passage from Romans 8 for the first time. “Neither death nor life nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, or height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What a promise. Not even death can separate us from the love of God. Not even that which is a result of our own sinfulness can separate us from God. Nothing…absolutely nothing can separate us.

I guess everything will be ok, then.

you don't have enough fun things to do

“If you are dusting and you can’t tell where you have already dusted, you don’t have enough fun things to do.” -my dear mother

Friday, March 14, 2008

wishing wishes

My freshman year of college I was introduced to a whole host of new things. One of them was the book by Elizabeth Elliot Passion and Purity. I remember pouring over the pages as I lay in my bed. I read it several times and talked about it about as much. A quote of hers continues to linger in my mind.

“How can God work his will in me if I am clogged with wishes of my own? Thy will be done. I was certainly in a state! ‘Clogged with wishes.’ I was wishing that my wishes were what God wished, and if my wishes were not what God wished, I wished that I could wish that my wishes would go away, but the wishes were still there.”

My dear friend Kimberly and I discussed the business of being clogged with wishes frequently during my first two years of college. But its reality has stayed with me ever since. It is quite a task to lay down one’s wishes in order to gain God’s wishes. It is a constant setting aside of one’s self. And, I believe must be the constant prayer of one’s heart. It is deciding to trust the Lord when it doesn’t make sense. It is believing that He is who He says He is. It is walking in simple and obedient faith.

My prayer today is one that was written on my heart long ago. As a young child, we would recite this every week in the little country church my family and I attended. We would corporately share this prayer just before the Word was read. Today this prayer rests on my lips often. It is no longer limited to that time in the service that we read the Word of God. Instead, it graces my day as I attempt to decipher between wishing the wishes that I wish and wishing the wishes that God wishes.

Prepare our hearts, O Lord, to accept Your word. Silence in us any voice but Your own, that hearing, we may obey Your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

imposing on them

I had no idea what a rich Christian family the Lord would provide while I was in seminary. And, to my amazement, this incredible blessing continues as many of these people have become my support network. As I was talking to one of these precious friends today, I was lamenting about the difficulty I have in asking others to pray for me. He shared these wise words with me.

“What good is a Christian family if you can’t impose on them.” -Andy League

Thursday, March 6, 2008

eleven lessons learned at lax

  1. janitors are very important people
  2. nine dollars doesn’t buy much at an airport Burger King
  3. attitude is a choice
  4. sometimes spending money gains sanity
  5. good customer service is important
  6. good customer service doesn’t mean everyone will be pleased
  7. just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there
  8. life is more enjoyable when you are friendly
  9. apologies really do work
  10. perceptions are not always reality
  11. Sun Country is a fantastic airline

Bonus Lesson: sometimes “delayed” is the best answer to prayer that the Lord gives

before and after shots: a makeover

“Whether it’s a change in season or in our homes, most of us are fascinated by makeovers. From magazines to television shows to Web sites, we drink in reinventions of almost every conceivable thing: rooms, wardrobes, cars, bodies, even relationships. Why? Because aside from a little silliness here and there, makeovers are particularly instructive. They offer a window into the process of transformation, the whys, the hows, and the actions that bring it about. For example, I’ve rarely seen an After picture for this magazine that didn’t seem more valuable with a Before photo alongside,” comments Gayle Goodson Butler, Editor and Chief of Better Homes and Gardens regarding the magazine’s commitment to makeovers in the month of March.

I think the same principle is true of our sanctification process. We need some Before and After pictures to remind us who we were and who we are becoming. My retreat in California the past couple of days has felt a bit like a makeover. Spending time with someone who knows me – my history, my failures, my waiting, and my celebrations – has provided a Before shot and some perspective. She can help me see the pictures that are so necessary to see what God has been doing. I feel like I am returning home with a new perspective, with new insights into my walk with the Lord, with new ideas concerning my ministry. The Lord has moved in some big ways revealing more about Himself and more about His love for me. Journaling and talking through these things with my dear friend has been similar to an After shot. Comparing these images reminds me just how much work the Lord has done in me. And, if that is true, I am quite confident that the After shots taken now will in time be the encouraging Before shots of the future.

stoning the pastor

Sometimes there are unexpected pleasures that come with my job. Here’s one from last Sunday…

After playing the part of David in the story of Samuel’s anointing of the young king, my young friend’s mother asked him how he felt about being in front of all of those people. My 8 year old friend’s response was, “It was good, but I thought I was going to get to stone somebody.” Apparently, when I asked him to play the part of David, he thought of the story of David and Goliath and expected to get to stone our pastor who is six feet ten inches tall.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

lemony snicket

Lemony Snicket wrote about a series of unfortunate events. I, however, have much better subject matter.

Today: a series of divinely appointed perfection.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

no good thing

No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.

O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you.

-Psalm 85:11b-12

If I have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus and if the claim made in Psalm 85 is true, then no good thing has ever been withheld from me. I think my childish temper tantrums illustrate that I feel differently. I guess that’s why the trust piece must follow. Perhaps what I believe to be “good” isn’t really good and what God believes to be “good” truly is good. And, if I am certain of His character - that He is good, merciful, gracious, loving, faithful, trustworthy, etc. - then I can be certain that when our definitions of good don’t match, that it is my definition that is flawed even though I feel quite the opposite. And, when I come to terms with this, the reality is that whatsoever situation I am in, there I am content, because I can be quite sure that nothing good has been withheld from me and thus, that the circumstances I find myself in are indeed good. And, in fact, better than those that I would arrange for myself.

for this very moment...

I wonder what I was doing a year ago…I wonder if you had told me I would live in the Midwest, my mother would be cancer-free, that I would have my dream job, that I would live in a town home and still drive L.E. if I would have believed you. I also wonder if you had told me I would be in California even two weeks ago if I would have believed you. It seems so clear to me that God only gives us what we can handle. That’s why the journey is so important. There are things to learn. There are obstacles to overcome. There are fears to fight. There are battles to conquer and people to love. Lord, thank you for this very moment. A moment in the journey. A moment where I sit drinking in the ocean breeze and the sounds of the waves as they collapse on the shore. A sight to behold. The blue of the ocean just below the bumpy terrain of the mountains which tower above the palm trees that line the walk way. The white on the waves and the reddish roofs that dot the landscape. And, for a moment I am here. Sand beneath my feet. Pen in hand. Heart open to hear your voice. Father, please speak, for your servant is listening.

Monday, March 3, 2008

reading between the lines of her Bible

“It’s a very intimate thing to go through someone else’s Bible,” said Laura after spending a day at the Gospel Light Archives researching Henrietta Mears. She talked about how some books of Henrietta’s Bible were very worn from frequent use and how her long lists of people that were shoved in the back revealed much about her prayer life. Her added notes and underlined passages told a whole new story within the pages of narrative we know and love.

I wonder what people would think if they read between the lines of my Bible. I’m pretty sure I would be humbled.

~ by funsize on March 3, 2008.