Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 16 - What is faith?

Martin Luther on faith.

Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. ``Faith is not enough,'' they say, ``You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.'' They think that, when you hear the gospel, you start working, creating by your own strength a thankful heart which says, ``I believe.'' That is what they think true faith is. But, because this is a human idea, a dream, the heart never learns anything from it, so it does nothing and reform doesn't come from this `faith,' either.

Instead, faith is God's work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn't stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are. Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many words.

Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they're smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 15 - Faith for the Mondays

I work for the State. And I'm pretty sure, government agencies have a monopoly on grumbling about Mondays. But, like it or lump it, we seem to have one every single week.
Sometimes we have more than one.
This past Tuesday, when our accounting supervisor spilled coffee on herself, she had herself a second Monday. It was a quite a sight.

Every one usually understands. Mondays, you're not happy to be where ever you're going. Mondays, the fun of the weekend is over. Mondays, are not the days meant for joy.


But, I serve a really interesting, creative, constant God that is still interesting, creative and constant even on Mondays.
It's interesting how you never hear someone say "This is the day that the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it." And if you do - I'm pretty sure it wasn't a Monday when you heard it.

But whether your Monday is an actual "Monday", or it's a Wednesday that has all the greatness of a Monday as you spend the day in the hospital waiting room, or a Thursday getting laid off your job, or a Saturday changing a flat tire. God is still the God of the Mondays. And it's fine time we all, but most especially myself, started acting like it.

Rejoice, and be glad for God has made it Monday.

And I'm glad none of you are close enough to throw your coffee cup at me just for posting this today. ;)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 14 - Reasons for faith

Just a request. Read slowly. If you're going to read this post, read slowly. Don't skim, don't skip things over because "You already know that one" just read it, slowly.
I can think of no greater words to give reason for faith.

As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.


And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.


My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.


It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.


For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.


For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.


And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.


He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved .


In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.


For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 13 - Faith to be angry.

I've been trying to write this post in my head for the last hour. I can tell you, this is going to be a hard post to write.

Here's what happened.

Someone, came into MY office, they took a form from me that states they want to leave our facility and go work at another facility that our agency has.
I gave it to her, as requested, but informed her that policy states she has to be with our facility 6 months before she can request to transfer somewhere else.

I got a long explanation of why she really had to leave.

My boss ends up in on the conversation and informs her of the 6 month rule, but also states that she will let the other facility know about the request.

We then take her completed form, and follow due process. But with the additional step of contacting the other facility and letting them know her situation.

Today, she comes into my office wanting proof that we did what we were suppose to do. Proof we told the other facility about her. Proof we processed her form. Then she began slandering my co-workers. She'd been out on the dorms and the people she'd talked to had grumbled and said "They hold you hostage" "They don't let you move". So she came to me, to inform me that we don't do our job, and that unless she protects herself against us, she'll be held hostage here. Plus a whole ton of bad comments about two very decent women that I work with.

I listened, up to a point where she crossed a line and informed me of what my co-worker would do outside of work related things, and then I stopped her. I was officially angry. It's a rare and difficult thing. And besides combating a few official lies, I asked the simple question of "Do you know her?" This woman, she was so quick to accuse based on rumors, she had yet to even meet.
I was angry. Not only at her and her poor treatment of my co-workers, but at the people that spread the rumors in the first place. I was angry at the lies, and the hurt they would cause. Not just to the co-workers that had been slandered, but also to this woman who believed the rumors and now didn't have a sense of trust in the people she should be able to trust to do their jobs.

But, despite what some things in this world have taught me, I have faith in things. I have faith in people. I have faith in right, and goodness, and kindness. And I have faith that it's important to stand up for those things. I have faith that Jesus Himself would stand up against some slanders. I have faith that there IS a right way to be angry at slander.

I have faith that the Christian world and my Christian witness didn't suffer when I spoke out against the foolishness.

So often Christiandom seems emotionless. We rarely show true, profound excitement and joy. We cover our sadness and hurt with "faith talk". And feel the need to repent whenever we feel angry.

But I've got faith in a God that allows all my emotions. And I believe there's faithful ways of showing those emotions without sinning. He made me, and my emotions. And while I do have to make sure I rule the emotions, rather than the emotions ruling me, I believe it can be done.

You wouldn't think showing your emotions would have anything to do with faith... but it's doubt, and fear that causes you to try and cover it. You are afraid you can't control the anger and you're afraid whatever anger you're feeling isn't for Godly reasons so you repent.
You're afraid showing your sadness shows you don't have faith in God.

But I strongly believe that God can be God, and that I can have faith in who God is - even when the circumstances make me sad.
And I strongly believe that God is God, and He's still in control - even when the circumstances make me angry.
I also believe that I can have a completely visible joy in my heart because the other two are true.

He's God. He's big, He's good, and He's in all of it. Whatever your "it" may be.
He's in your surgery, your co-workers poor disposition, and your rude salesclerk.
He's in your broken heart. He's in your angry hurt.
Sometimes the very things He most wants to see from you are the real moments. Not the sober "Our Father who art in Heaven..." moments. The moments when our words aren't thought out, filtered through our idea of who God is or what He wants from us. They're just real. In those moments we've become authentic.

And I have faith in a God who can handle my real-ness.
Yet He can also help me reign in that real-ness, so it can be a Godly real-ness.
I have a very great God.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 12 - Faith for nothing.

Crazy title huh?

I was in church today, and I listened as we sang "Count your blessings" a song, obviously, about counting your many blessings.
Then we sang "I've got a mansion just over the hilltop" a song, just as obviously about the mansion we will have in Heaven.
Then, last but not least, we sang "Tell it to Jesus" a song, not so obviously about telling Jesus your troubles because He can help you with them.

And thinking back over my last blog posts, I see that I've done the exact same thing that those songs did. They focused on what faith can do for ME. It's all about ME isn't it?

There's nothing wrong with the songs, and nothing wrong with my posts. I just realized that in all these posts, I need to make a point to say there is good reason to have faith even if nothing more happened.

He saved my soul. He saved some of you as well. We have reason to have faith in Him and who He is, because He has once and assuredly proven it to us. That is reason enough for faith.
If He didn't cure cancer, help us land a job, fix our marriages, or give travelling mercies... I still have a reason to have faith.
Because I once was lost - and now I'm found.

Simple as that.

I don't have to have a mansion. I don't have to have someone make all my troubles alright. I don't have to have Him bless me, time and time again.

Because I once was lost - and now I'm found.

It's odd how easy it is to base our faith on what we get next. Yes, I know He saved me from eternal separation from Him, but since then I've prayed for such and such and didn't get it.
Yes, I know He saved me from eternal damnation, but since then I've prayed my husband would stop abusing me and he didn't.
Yes, I know He saved me from a burning lake of fire, but since then I've prayed for a new job and didn't get it.
Yes, I know He saved me from my addictions and gave me a new life, but since then...

I try and base my faith for tomorrow on tomorrow. When it should be based on yesterday. He authored my faith... He's forever writing the story of my faith, but years ago He authored my faith.

Because I once was lost - but now I'm found. If that's not reason enough to have faith - I don't know what is.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day 11 - Faith at a cost.

A few years back I had a really pretty Mazda Protege. It was the nicest car I've ever owned. It also cost me dearly. Just a few months after the purchase, I drove to Colorado and about 11 hours into the trip I was creamed by an 18-wheeler and my car - while still drivable (though not legally) - was officially totalled. This is not one of the shinier moments in my life.

A couple of hours later I had finished with the police reports, been towed away, and some very handy tow truck guys had managed to reattach my drivers seat and push down the lid of what used to be my trunk. I got back in my car and went on to my destination.

2 days later, in the dead of night (hoping for less traffic) I drove my sad little car home. I got there around 7 or 8am, talked to a few repair guys who assured me that my car was totalled, and drove home to sleep and ponder what the next step was.

Sometime that afternoon, a 1997 Nissan Sentra with 80,000 miles was parked in my driveway. My co-worker, Lisa, had an extra car lying around and decided to let me use it as long as I needed it, or I could buy it for $1500. This car, was and is, simply a blessing.

But early 2008 I had to do a repair on it and with the rental car the bill came to around $500. I grumbled to myself and pondered buying another car. "500 is one-third of what my car originally cost... this is silly."
Late last year I had yet another repair that cost quite a bit. Again I grumbled saying I should just get another car.
This month, seeing more repairs on the horizon I again grumbled that a new car (and by new I mean used) was "necessary".

I know that when I first got the car I appreciated it. But, for some crazy reason, since it only cost 1500, I continually assume that it's not worth repairs. I would never have assumed that about a $5,000 car. And I was certainly willing to go to great expense to save my Mazda if it could have been saved.

But no, since it cost me little, I keep finding myself with the mindset of "it's not worth the trouble".

That's a really long story to say this:

It's easy to go to church, act Christ-like and say you have faith. But it's of little cost to you. You have few obstacles beyond what every single other person faces on this world. Yet you state your faith. Proudly. Boldly. Until challenged by an unexpected cost.

But there's a different kind of faith. The faith that watches your premature baby die and says "I will praise the Lord."
It's faith that forsakes it's family and spends 19 months in Africa witnessing to tribes and trusting your very life to Gods hand.
It's faith that builds underground churches, as people assemble knowing that discovery by their countries would mean sure imprisonment if not physical suffering.
It's faith that requires you quit your job and open an group home for abused teenagers.
It's faith that requires you walk from your home, to your neighbors house, and ask them if they know about a friend named Jesus.
It's faith that makes you to spend time in prayer and bible study, when you want to watch tv.
It's the faith that has you to pray with your whole heart, even though the last 3 times you prayed someone would be healed - they weren't.

That is the faith that you have paid for with your life - every single day of your life. That is the faith that you will not allow anyone, especially that evil fiend of doubt to come in and steal.
That's the faith that will change the world. That's the faith that changes you. That's the faith that you value more than your life. And you value it enough that you're willing to give it your LIFE, not just your death.

Many a folk will say that they would die for Christ. Yet somehow, the challenge of living it is too hard.

I've begun the process of babying my little Nissan. I appreciate her more today as I realize how foolish it is to give her up for a $300 dollar repair, just because she didn't cost me as much as another car could have. I was blessed to have it at such a low cost. But my car is worth far more to me now. It is worth thousands of unspent dollars. That is why I am now willing to spend money on her, to keep her going and keep her in good shape.

Sometimes the true value of something isn't revealed by it's original cost. It's value is revealed by what the product brings to a situation. And as you realize it's value, you're willing to pay a greater cost for such an item.

So maybe faith hasn't cost you a great deal yet. Maybe it hasn't caused you a great deal of fear yet, or given you opportunity to look foolish in the worlds eyes. Maybe it hasn't required you to trust because of a broken heart yet.


But faith, is still faith. It costs. The difference is that some people choose to keep the cheap faith.
And others, finding one pearl of great price, sold all that they had and bought it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 10 - The Articles of the Declaration of Faith

"One word, Ma'am," he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. "One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have have only dreamed, or made up, all those things - trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentle-men and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for the Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's a small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say."

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


We interrupt 40 days of faith for this profoundly wonderful news.

After many requests I have received an update on Bell. She is "very well cared for". Those words seem small, I'd love to see adjectives like "loved" or "happy", but I will cherish "very well cared for".

Thanks God.

Day 9 - Faith to let it go.

I was close enough to the situation, that when the incident happened "Helen" stormed into my office to show me the evidence of what had happened.

I can't tell you the specifics, since it's not my story to tell - but I can tell you that if you ever feel the Christian urge to "speak the truth" to someone I'm pretty sure God doesn't want you to do it anonymously by leaving your little bits of 'truth' in their mailbox.

I touted the "let it go" idea. Given the situation, it seemed like the best idea. But the other idea that someone else offered was to imagine how pitiful and sad a person had to be to research the information in order to put it on paper for her to read.

After she'd come back to tell me she'd gained some peace from that idea... I couldn't help but feel a little discontent. It seems as though - even Christians - believe that the only way to get past an insult, or a challenge to our character, is to put the other person down.

And while I don't want to turn this into a 'have faith in yourself' post... I do believe you can have faith in who you are in Christ. You know your motives, you know if you're still in right standing with God, you know if the Holy Spirit is convicting you about some sin, or maybe even the very sin your latest enemy has made up against you.

You know.

And you believe in Gods ability to convict you of sin, and keep you from it, enough to know that if you really were sinning you would do everything you could to change it. So when you're faced with someone questioning your character - you can look at yourself, maybe even ask a few friends if they see any truth to the accusation, and then finding yourself innocent - you let it go.

This is faith in action in the day to day. It's the faith in the truth, and the Truth, enough to know if you're IN the truth. And if you are in the Truth then no lie, no accusation, can cause you to stumble. Or worry. Or be angry.

Letting go of it, rather than hang on and be agitated. It's confidence, calm assurance. It's faith. Deep down, refreshing, God-confidence rather than self-confidence.

Faith gives you the physical, mental, and emotional ability to let things go.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 8 - Faith to not worry

It's easier to worry.
You might not enjoy worrying as much as just believing, but I guarantee you it's easier to just go ahead and worry.
Go ahead and ponder the 4 different scenarios that could happen, and how you can respond to them. To imagine that the lump is cancerous and brace yourself for chemo, or to imagine that the whole reason your boss wants to see you tomorrow morning is because he wants to fire you.

Yep. Easy as pie.

But that's the great thing about faith.
You see, with faith, the worst can happen and you're still ok.
The job can go away, the treatments can take place, the divorce might finalize, and the check might bounce.
But God - He's still God. He's still big enough to see you through it.

All you really have to know is that God is who He said He is.
Then let it go.

It's been working for me since the start of this little challenge for myself. My blog was full of worry and doubt. And if you think my blog was getting crammed with it, you really should have been in my head.

Because doubt is better than rabbits at multiplying. First you doubt 1 thing, 1 time, then 5 things, then 23 things, then the next thing that you know you start counting in terms of what you still believe in. Everything else is up for question.

But for this challenge, those words, those thoughts have been banned from my blog and I'm censoring myself and my mental conversation as well. And just as doubt begets doubt, so does faith beget faith.

I'm more at ease than I was 8 days ago. More calm. Less... well... let's don't go there.

Much like yesterdays post mentioned that flippancy kills/deadens... worry does the exact same thing. Worry hurts you. Worry fills your head, your heart, it even causes physical problems with your body.
But when I looked up the word 'faith' in the bible I found several sentences repeated:
"Your faith has made you whole."
"Your faith has saved you."

Stop ripping yourself up with worry, and let go and just let God work. It might not be as easy as giving yourself an ulcer worrying about things you can't change... but as I said... it's certainly more enjoyable.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 7 - Faith for excitement.

I admit, I found this quote and had to stretch myself to figure out how to post it during the 40 days of Faith.
I really liked this snippet - it's from the book Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis but I found this particular snippet at "Christ The Truth" For those that aren't familiar with the book, this is a terrific reversal book where "The Enemy" is God. It helps expose seemingly harmless things in our lives that the devil uses to trip us up.

But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it,

And I have to say, I wield flippancy like a warrior his sword. I also fear it like Superman fears kryptonite.

I can throw a joke out there to keep from admitting I care about something.
I hold back admitting I care about something lest someone make a joke of it.

"Flippancy is a thousand miles away from the joy it deadens"
Faith is substance. It's the stuff that proves what no one else can see. Faith, gives hope. Faith -in God - brings excitement. It's above all, beyond all, greater than, and better than.
Doubt - the opposite of faith.
Flippancy - the death of faith.

So today, the queen of flippancy says, ditch your flippancy.
Be joyfully excited, hopeful, happy, embracing those things that are good and beautiful.
Every voice in your head that says, and I'm quoting - "*shrug*" or "*yawn*" kick it to the curb.
Every scoffing line that runs through your mental conversation, every tiny portion that wants to make fun of some virtue because it's "odd" or "quirky" stamp it in the face.
Violently call it for the death that it is.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Those are the words of someone who won't be flippant.
Who won't make light.
Who knows something about power, and faith.

He also knows what things he shouldn't be ashamed of.

Faith, Hope, Love, Mercy, Grace, Redemption: all words and actions that you should never be ashamed of.

So besides the other 6 things I've said so far - faith gives you the singular joy of being excited, caring deeply and richly, without shame or reservation. Faith allows you to be unabashed in your love.

Faith...faith for more faith. That's the whole reason I'm writing.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day 6 - Faith to be silent

If you have kids I'm sure you've had these moments at least 1500 times.
So forgive me if you disagree with my style.

But I've learned to ignore some of the questions.

My active questioners are 11, 8, and 4 years old. I've heard a LOT of questions and I'm not even a parent. I do see questions as the prime opportunity for learning and growth. That's why for the greatest portion of the time, I take their questions seriously and explain even the seemingly mundane.

But there are times when you pile into the car wearing your church clothes, holding your bible, and you hear the question "Are we going to church?"
"When are we going to go?" "Are you teaching our Sunday School class?" (keep in mind, I teach it every week)... some questions don't seem to need answers.

Often, riding in the car if I take a turn they don't expect I'm suddenly bombarded with "I thought we were going to...." I completely understand. It's just curiosity. And for the most part, every question is answered.

But sometimes - sometimes I want them to just be still. Not because I don't want to answer them. Not because I'm tired of the questions. But because I want them to learn to be still. To trust that if I say I am taking them to X, that, whether the scenery appears to be leading them to X that they can trust what I said.

And I realize, so often I'm that exact same way with God.

God says He's going to lead me into X and yet the money doesn't appear, or the tests don't seem to be coming out clear, or the permit request gets rejected. Instantly I'm full of questions, "but you said.." "this isn't how you get there...", "why didn't You?" "Where are we go...?"

I'm learning the faith to be still.

If He says we're going ... we're going. It doesn't matter what it looks like. It doesn't matter that for all appearances we're going the wrong direction. It doesn't even matter that God said "By His stripes ye were healed" and I'm still sick.

It does matter that my incessant need for answers, accepts that He's already given His answer.

It's not wrong to ask, to question, to be curious.
But if the answers to your questions determine your faith?
Well, that's not faith.

But your faith, is the substance of the X you haven't made it to yet. Silence can be the substance of faith when doubt pops a question into your mind. Silence says, "I don't have to have an answer. I already know. Because if God promised me an Isaac 15 years ago, then sometime, someway, somehow, an Isaac is going to come.

Be still. Be still and know that His word, His promise, His power is just the same as He said it was. Be still and wait. Trust, obey, wait and repeat.

It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.

Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Day 5 - Faith beyond the walls I see

Lucy Pevensie opened the door to the wardrobe and found an entirely different world.

When she returned to her world and dragged her brothers and sisters to the wardrobe to see this enchanted place, she found only the back wall of the wardrobe.

She was teased, harassed and saddened to the point that she wondered herself if she might have dreamed it.

Till she went back.

The 2nd time, nothing they said, no ridicule or teasing could possibly convince her that the world she'd discovered wasn't real. It didn't matter that she didn't understand why she was only able to knock on the back panel of the wardrobe right then. It didn't matter that no one believed her.
Nothing else mattered.

She believed.

She didn't understand. But she believed.

It only took twice.

I love that reminder. I don't need to understand when I find myself discovering only coats in the wardrobe. I know what lies beyond. I know there's a world that I can't see, I know there's my very own Aslan somewhere beyond that no wardrobe wall can keep away from me.

God is who He says He is - who He's proven Himself time and time again to be - even when He says no to my pleas. He is who He says He is when money runs low, the washing machine breaks, the kids are failing school and you find out you're losing your job.

When you sought Him, and didn't find what you were looking for?
He's still the God that promises to be found.

When you prayed for a cure, and watched your loved one pass away?
He's still the God that heals.

When you've witnessed your heart out to the one person you desperately want to see saved and nothing seems to happen?
He's still the God that saves.

When your money is low and your cupboards are bare?
He's still the God that provides.

When you've tried to repair the broken relationship with your husband and the divorce papers arrive?
He's still the God that restores.

When your world doesn't look how you imagine a world that God inhabits could possibly look?
God is still here.

It's easy to tell God that He just hasn't been enough for you. That He's failed you, let you down, wasn't big enough, willing enough, or visible enough. Those are the times when you pound your fist at the back wall of the wardrobe cursing the mothballs and the coats.

It's up to you though, to keep going back to the wardrobe, and in faith trying to look past the clothes to a world beyond. If you give up - if you only look once at the wardrobe door - you're to be pitied. What a world - what a life - you've missed out on.

Because no matter how real the back of the wardrobe looks, Narnia, sweet beautiful Narnia, still lies behind.

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. Jeremiah 17:7

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 4 - Faith in His planning skills

Yeah, I'm a doofus with poor relational skills.
And I can't cook either.

But God has a plan for my life.

I've spent approximately 900 posts questioning God and myself -

BUT GOD - has a plan for me.

I remember an old Winnie the Pooh movie, Christopher Robin tells Pooh that he's "braver than he believes, stronger than he seems, and smarter than he thinks".

I've had the privilege of telling someone that they can do something - when they thought they couldn't. There are few things so powerful as telling someone they can do more than they think. They never believe you. It's always the same "Nooo I cannn't" (emphasis on the whiny drag on the words). Then, when they accomplish it... it's a terrific thrill.

So often, I'm the exact same way with God - but just like I have a good idea of the capabilities of an 8 year old - my Creator, and Friend, and Savior knows the exact things that I am capable of. Where ever He's leading me...He's got a plan and ... ... you know... it's a pretty terrific plan.

I can trust His plan - because I can trust His heart towards me.

I've always loved Jeremiah 29:11 (run your cursor over the words to see the scripture). But I tend to focus on the thought of my future. He's got an expected end in mind. But I hate to miss out on the first part...

God thinks thoughts about ME.
Those thoughts are thoughts of peace.

Then I'll call on Him, and go, and pray to Him, and He'll hear me. He'll hear me.
And I'll seek Him, and find Him, when I search for Him with all my heart. I'll find Him.
(Jeremiah 29:12-13)

I can't believe those words could possibly extend to me, and still believe that I can't do what he wants me to do.

I believe those words.
Because I believe Him.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 3 - Faith in my Savior

I don't know about you, but I need a Savior.

I don't need religion and a title of "Pentecostal" or "Baptist".
I don't need to be a part of a gathering that "thinks positive thoughts".
I need a Savior.

I need a Savior that can see my sins, and not just 'handle' them as a Friend.
I need a Savior that sees my sins, demands payment for them, and then extends mercy in a situation where no mercy is due.

At work I'm constantly mimicking Olive Oyl's cry of "Oh Popeye my hero!" for my tech support folks who keep setting up laptops for my groups of new hires - or making some system that won't support us suddenly support us. And it seems so inane, but I keep thinking about God like that.

Sometimes I'm in a situation with 20 people standing behind me... waiting... and I'm just plain out of luck if my tech support doesn't come through (And let me tell you, 20 new hires are not as humble, thankful or patient concerning their new job as you'd suppose).

In your life, it's the worst situation to be in. You're completely at the mercy of Someone else. Your sins are as scarlet, there's nowhere else to turn. You're guilty. You were born guilty, but then when you think about your life you know that you weren't just "born" guilty - you've actively committed the crimes. Greed, Lust, Murder, Lying, Cheating, Stealing... by Gods standards you are most profoundly guilty. Your only hope is to throw yourself at His mercy...........

Only to find out that his mercies are new every morning. His mercies extend beyond our hopes, beyond our fears. His mercy is greater than I need it to be. His mercy is so great that He doesn't just save me, but restores and renews every single day after that.

He's above and beyond.

And I need that Savior.

From the Aaron Shust song "My Savior My God" (song title links to video)
I take Him at His word and deed
Christ died to save me; this I read
And in my heart I find a need
Of Him to be my Savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 2 - Faith in my Friend

When is the last time you gave God something crazy?

I remember specifically a huge breakthrough a few years ago where I told God something that I didn't even want to admit to myself. And there He was being all Big and God-like and He took it.
He didn't send me to the wilderness as punishment, kill my firstborn (though technically I don't have a first born) He didn't even give me car trouble as some type of payback.

He just took it.

And yet still, crazily enough, I have trouble saying things out loud to Him sometimes. In my heart of hearts I know it's just me though, because He's proven, time and time again that the blackest of my sin, the biggest of my failures, the most vulgar of my faults, He's not surprised, overwhelmed or put off.

He can handle it.

I might not always be ready to step closer, or deeper in my walk with Him, but I believe that I could.
And every - single - time I'm better off for it.

He's the ultimate friend. A deep friend. Never a surface friend.
Some friends only come out for the weddings and birthdays.
Some friends only come for the funerals and hospital visits.
But Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He celebrates with me, He comforts me, and He soothes me.

When I let him.

This walk, has never been about how much I can have of Jesus. It's about how much I let Jesus have of me.

And how much better off I am for every ounce of myself I've trusted into His care.

He's proven He's trustworthy.
He's proven He loves us.
He's proven He's strong enough to carry us through.
He's proven Himself over and over again. Patiently. Powerfully. Personally.
He's not standoffish.
He's not unapproachable.
He doesn't even play hard to get.
He's an eager friend.
And He is the best friend you could ever hope to have.

Do you know what it takes to be His friend?

All you have to do is believe Him. James 2:23

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 1 - Faith

It's been a steady mention in opening and closing prayer during our Sunday School class each week that I thank God, that He loves us so much that He wants us to know Him, more than we want to know Him, and because of that we can trust that when we try to learn about Him, that He will help us.

We don't have to hike across Europe to find ourselves in Him, or serve 6 months in a Uganda orphanage, or even spend 3 months teaching a Sunday School class to find Him.
He's the perpetual 3 yr old that doesn't understand the concept of hide and seek and He's always popping up to make sure you know where He is, or giggling from behind the couch. Or better yet, He's the kid half hiding under the blanket on the couch, in plain sight.

He's a God that loves to get you, to twist your mind around the impossible. He's the God that talks through a burning bush for cryin' out loud. He's the God that brings you food by the wing of a raven. He's the God that plants you and your entire n a t i o n in front of a sea and tells you "Start walking into the water".

He's a wild, untame, powerful and amazing God who could have left the world exactly as it was. He could have rested on day 6. Perhaps He might have made some other type of animal that perhaps wouldn't disobey Him. But He wanted us. Even knowing the cost - He wanted us. He wanted to chase us and convince us of His love and greatness. He wanted to give us the joy and mind-blowing wonder of chasing after Him and gaining new revelations of His love and greatness.

He wants us.

That's why I don't have to worry about whether or not I'll find Him if I seek. The whole reason He created me, was so that He could be found.

He's good like that.

And I guarantee you He's worth looking for.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

40 days of Faith

So... it's easy to be discouraged.

Capital E.A.S.Y.

So, here's my commitment.

For 40 days, all I'm going to spout is faith.

Not doubts, not fears, not struggles or insecurities, not one word that says anything except faith in God.

For 40 days, you will only see the substance of things hoped for - evidence of things unseen.

40 days. 40 posts. 40 times when faith steps to the plate.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I love details. I truly do. And digging for them served me well today.

Tomorrows Sunday School class is dealing with Matthew 5:13-20. I was researching some of the key information for the verses.

The very first verse starts out "Ye are the salt of the earth..."
So I looked up the general information about salt; it obviously flavors things, preserves, and if it doesn't have any flavor you just throw it out.

Then I moved on to the other key words.

But the salt thing niggled at my mind and I wondered how salt preserves things. I've always heard of it, but never understood the science behind how it works. It's just one of those things that you know - but don't understand.

So I looked it up. One of the most interesting things I found was a simple easy to read page.

When you use salt to preserve stuff, here's what happens:
  1. Salt shifts the growth conditions to favor positive pathogens instead of negative bacteria.
  2. Salt removes water from the food which further prevents bacteria from growing because bacteria uses the water to grow.
So when you apply the salt, the odds shift from the bad bacteria to the good pathogens, and the environment that bad things need in order to grow and survive is dried up.

I tend to focus on the savory part of salt. Salt makes things taste good. There's nothing like a buttered up piece of corn on the cob with a good sprinkling of salt.
I love me some salt.
Often though, because the flavor of salt is so noticable, the preservative capabilities tend to be overlooked.

But I've had a couple of talks with people this week where they were really encouraging the idea of tolerance and open-mindedness. Those two conversations came to mind as I was thinking about salt. I can add a lot of spices that make things "taste" good. I can be open-minded to others using spices also rather than salt. But hours later, our tasty things will have invisible bacterias growing away, and with time, visible bacteria will be growing.

The difference is what lasts. The difference is surface & taste vs. depth and physical change.

The entire brief study just reminded me that my life needs to preserve something on this earth, not just make it taste good for a bit.
I don't want to be the spice of the world.
I want the world to have some salt.
Life changing, environment changing, positive pathogen growing salt.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Number 28

Today is my birthday.

28 years ago, I was born. My parents wept, the angels rejoiced, and the world became a slightly better place... or so I'm happy to think. :)

I spent the day celebrating the people in my life that I'm so glad God has allowed me to encounter. I think I enjoy that part most of all. It would be easy to sit back and ignore the birthdays as they come and go - celebrating it isn't always easy, but it is very intentional.

I'm thankful to be alive. I could act that way every day - though I don't - but on the specific day of my birth I imagine God might appreciate me putting out the effort to celebrate. I believe God is a fan of celebration.

Today though, I attended the funeral for John Sills.

The stories I heard made me all the more sorry that I didn't get to know him even better than I did. And, it's probably just the narcissistic side of me, but it made me wonder about the stories that will come out of my life. There are some blog posts on here I certainly wouldn't want read at my funeral.

But for Johns life, it was clear that he was a man that was faithful to God. Even when life didn't make sense.

If you read my blog, you know - you probably know better than most even - that I haven't been as faithful as I should be. And I can't change years 1-27, though I'd really like to change 26 & 27 if such a thing were allowed. But I hope God helps me change year 28.

God has been good to me for all 28 years. Period. He's been good.

May this next year find me faithful in Him.

Happy mybirthday. :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

John Sills

John Sills. (Link to newspaper obituary)
1/22/1978 - 3/9/2009

He was a network specialist for our facility. He and his wife have suffered through the passing of two babies, then a few years ago joyfully adopted the most adorable babe Sydnee. Then about two years ago he was diagnosed with two different types of cancer.

The first time I saw him outside of work it was at a revival his church was holding. He and his wife were there - despite the fact that he had just gotten another chemo treatment that very morning and those were very difficult for him.

In January he was finally able to return to work after receiving a bone marrow transplant.
He had a setback, and finally pneumonia set in.
Last Friday he was given 2-4 weeks to live.
Monday morning, shortly before 5am he passed away.

I have the utmost respect for his wife. She's been incredible. You can read one of her final posts on the website they created at http://www.johnsills.com/ 2/28, she was hoping he'd soon be home.

In talking about what quirky things we'd miss most about John, someone mentioned that they'd miss seeing him praying in the chapel in the mornings, and how he would come to the chapel to fill his water cup because "chapel water tastes better" and jokingly he would say that you just couldn't be "toooo careful anyway".

I'm so glad to have known him.

"God Knows Best"
(A tribute to John Sills)

Our Father knows what's best for us,
So why should we complain ...
We always want the sunshine,
But He knows there must be rain.
We love the sound of laughter
And the merriment of cheer;
But our hearts would lose their tenderness
If we never shed a tear.
Our Father tests us often
With suffering and with sorrow;
He tests us, not to punish us,
But to help us meet "tomorrow."
For growing trees are strengthened
When they withstand the storm;
And the sharp cut of the chisel
Gives the marble grace and form.
God never hurts us needlessly,
And He never wastes our pain;
For every loss He sends to us
Is followed by rich gain.
And when we count the blessings
That God has so freely sent;
We will find no cause for murmuring
And no time to lament.
For Our Father loves His children,
And to Him all things are plain;
So He never sends us "pleasure"
When the "soul's deep need is pain."
So whenever we are troubled,
And when everything goes wrong,
It is just God working in us
To make "our spirits strong."
~ Helen Steiner Rice ~

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Conversations with God.

It's been an interesting week. Again.

I had an interesting encounter with God last weekend. And it's rippled throughout the week. My first real glimpse of what Alzheimers is going to look like hurt more than I can say. It was unfixable. She hurt, and no medicine, no doctors, no words, no comfort would help it... for the rest of her life.

The very thought overwhelms me - but over the weekend before, it was more than I could hold onto. And believe me when I say, I'm very good at holding onto things. You don't see me cry (except in prayer) you don't see me yell, you don't see me do much *typically* except be quiet, happy or calm. But I just couldn't wrap myself around this sorrow.

I went to God. I seriously went to God. I went to Him more seriously and more intently, than I usually have the capability to do. I went in with unrestrained emotions and I quite simply just hurt all over Him.
And He took it.

This week, in a day of a struggle because my wayward mind kept clinging to a thought that I knew I shouldn't obsess about, I worked hard to discipline my mind. My constant prayer was that my true want would be what God wants, rather than what I want. And He helped me to let it go.

Then today, my pastor asked us all a question "What do you seek?"

I waited, expecting to feel some hypocrisy in my heart as my answer came - "You Lord."
I want Jesus.
You found Him, why are you still seeking Him?
Because I want more of Him.

It was ironic that my pastor mentioned being silent and waiting on God this evening, because that's exactly what I was doing this morning during prayer time - waiting. Sitting quietly and waiting. In the silence the question came to me, "Lord, why did You seek me?"
I pondered quietly what it was that He might have planned that my life would accomplish, what He might be wanting me to do, wondering what He could possibly want from me; when just as clearly as could be, He answered "You."

How great a love is this? That He would seek me, not for what I can do for Him, but for no better reason than loving me?

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
King David

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Dear Lord

Help me to want what You want, more than i want what i want.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Got advice?

I teach a Sunday school class. I know... after my last post you probably are wondering how great a class that would be... but I do. I'm assuming it's only because my church is desperate for people willing to work. I'm certainly not the bright role model these kids could use. But alas!

The youngest member of my class is 10, the oldest is 16.

I'm not weary in well doing where this class is concerned, but I'm not above asking for advice if any is available.

My kids - they don't have anything to do with God during the week. I tried to encourage memorizing scriptures and nothing came from it. And the most recent endeavor was to simply get them to read 1 verse a day. (The hope being that once you got the bible open, you might get a little beyond your initial verse - the original idea came from a post by Steven Furtick "Just do one").
In the last two classes I've taught since then I asked how it went and every single one of them informed me that they didn't achieve the goal. Matter of fact they didn't even do a single day out of the entire week.

We pick God up at the door, and drop Him off on our way out.

I'm praying my heart out for these kids, but in class, I haven't the faintest idea what I might could do to give them a hunger for God that would give them some hunger pangs during the week.

On the bright side, my own hunger is growing because I'm feasting more and more on Gods word during the week as my concern regularly grows for these kids.

So, I'm wondering if any of you have any advice as to how to grow hunger in these kids? In talking to someone else I was told that I can't make someone hungry. I get that - but surely I can do things that might make them want to taste, and that could develop into hunger. What those "things" might be, I don't know except to continue on in the scriptures.

You got anything?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

An unsafe God.

I mean nothing more from the title of my post, than just a play on the words from my last post quoting "Of course He isn't safe, but He's good."

I went to church tonight.

It shouldn't seem like such a big thing, but I've been estranged from church for quite some time now - I only attend the services that I feel I absolutely have to. Sunday mornings are a given, and Sunday nights have become a struggle that sometimes I wonder if I only attend for fear that my parents might choose to visit my service the one Sunday night I happen to skip.

I don't know that it's true - but it's awfully close.

Something just feels wrong with me being at church. It's where I don't fit anymore. Which is ironically strange since it's the world I grew up in.
But sitting there tonight, so obviously outside of everyones general beliefs we discussed the book of Revelation. The small group sat content with the idea that they would never have to see the horrible events discussed - while I took a breath and prayed that God would help us all endure when the time came.

Cause I happen to think we're going to go through it.

Besides the fact that I think scripture on the end times backs up the idea - I believe the entire bible backs up the idea. It's the safe God that gets He kids in out of the rain. It's the unsafe, wild God that allows His children in the rain. It's the unsafe God that allowed the 3 Hebrew children thrown in the fire -protected in the fire - not prevented from the fire.

It's the wild God that shuts His children into an ark with every kind of animal He had created while the earth is destroyed. Floating in the middle of the worlds destruction, listening to the sound of torrents of rain upon rain upon rain upon rain.

It's the unsafe - but Good God that looked upon His servant Job, and according to the scriptures not even long after the time of testing had begun Job was already saying "For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me."

He's the God that turns people into pillars of salt (pillars of salt for cryin' out loud!), gives them brief moments of leprosy, He's a God that dropped two people dead, right where they stood, for lying to Him, He's a God that is planning on turning the waters on the earth to blood.

It might sound all unrelated I suppose, but my Good God doesn't do things the easy way. His word is full of violence, and love, and every last word and action in it is for the glory of Himself. When we go through great tribulation - The Great Tribulation, that's going to be when we can bring glory and honor to Him. Those will be the years when those who truly love Christ, will no longer be "people who go to church". But instead, they'll be people helping their neighbor, banding together in prayer and holding tightly to their Father and Friend as they build Gods Kingdom and refuse things like the mark of the beast while they're being martyred.

The mark of a good parent isn't that they keep their child from the hard problems of life. It's that they have prepared their child and are willing to do the hard task of letting their child be challenged, scared, tested. But, while you'd expect that to bring glory to the child - the true glory belongs to the parent who did the real work to get the child through the test.

My Father - is He safe? No.
Is He good? Yes.
Do I trust Him? Yes.

Course He isn't safe. But He's good.

"Ohh!" said Susan, "I'd thought he was a man. Is he - quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."

"That you will dearie, and make no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver; "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."

"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.

"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
quote taken from "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Mexico, Mom, and being strong enough

**I posted this, then pulled it off the blog for one simple reason. It's one thing to post my thoughts on my Christian walk, and let you visit and move on. It's an entirely different thing to put something that hurts out there and imagine the world popping in to see it, then just... popping on with their lives.
I've gotten enough e-mails though through the life of this blog where the hardest posts to write and leave out there, were the ones that spoke to someone. So I'm putting the post back up.**

It's been an interesting weekend.

We drove from the Tx/Ok border to the border of Mexico. We reached the city of Weslaco, then headed South into a little area called Progreso where we parked on the American side, then walked across the bridge into a little city in Mexico called Nuevo Progreso. We had the easiest time in the world simply walking into a pharmacy that was around 100 ft from the end of the bridge. We picked up a supply of my parents expensive medications, then almost immediately walked back across the bridge with our medicine and got back in the car and began the drive home.

The only truly interesting part concerning the town of Progreso, were the federales.

There were many of them just scattered around our small area, most of them stationed behind large stacks of sandbags. It's a sight I had never imagined seeing. I've been to this place before, but never before had they needed their military present around the border. One guard in particular was surprisingly smiley as he pointed with his gun that we were suppose to go through one walkway. It's silly how you think of things like "An armed soldier with an assault rifle just told me what to do."

It does most certainly inspire obedience.

The trip however, was an eye opener concerning my moms illness. This was the fourth time they have gone to Mexico to buy the very expensive drug Aricept. It's what she takes to help slow the progression of Alzheimers.
If you've lost a loved one, or been impacted by this disease I only want to say that I empathize with you. I'm sorry for your continual loss.

The last major milestone was when she had a bad confused spell awhile back, forgot she was married to my father and was confused about where she was and how she & he both had gotten there. She had missed one pill. They were on a trip and she'd "put the bottle up" and it was no where to be found so she was not able to take it. It was subsequently found and she quickly resumed her taking it, but without the medicine she woke up very confused. Somehow, while a difficult pill to swallow, it was somehow different just hearing it and not experiencing it.

This weekend, we discovered how much she has relied on routine to help her through her days. We all know that routine is important to those suffering with alzheimers, but as you watch someone go from being a normal functioning person it's hard to tell in the regular humdrum of life how vital that routine is.

She suffered this weekend. It was physically visible on her all throughout the weekend, she is suffering. What was a simple car ride was riddled with opening and searching luggage time and time and time again. Question after question of "have you seen this?" and every time we pulled over, with anxious hands she searched for some vital thing that wasn't even necessary, but no amount of words could dissuade her from her need for that item.

Then it came. An experience that I had to know would one day happen, but never once expected it or braced myself for it. The only thing I can compare it to is the moment a cancer patient wakes up and discovers that first clump of hair on their pillow... it's the physical reality of what you couldn't see.

And it hurts so badly I can hardly breathe.

I suppose the next major milestone will be when she forgets my name.

Today, we've extended our trip so she could get a better dose of rest before we got in the car again for this last small leg of the journey home. So I spent the day watching them visit with their old preacher friends and a lot of time thinking about my recent post
"What do you do when you're not strong enough?"

And the answer in the post isn't right.

My answer to what you do when you're not strong enough? You put your hand in the hand of the Christ who is strong enough - and hold on for dear life trusting that He's strong enough to get you through.