Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Closing your eyes to Hagar

The other day I came across a random bible trivia question that concerned Sarah and Abraham and the birth of their son Isaac. It was a week or so ago, but the question made me think and I just haven't been able to get the idea of Hagar out of my mind.

Hagar, there was nothing wrong with Hagar. She just did everything she was suppose to do. She didn't cause problems for the world by birthing Ishmael. She just did what she was supposed to do. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with Hagar.

The problems came, however, when God promised Abraham something wonderful and after so many years, Abraham and Sarah decided to help out God by using Hagar to find that great destiny.
To say it didn't work out, is like saying Hitler was unkind. A gross understatement.

Prior to seeing that question, I'd never really applied the Hagar/Sarah story to myself. It's about a woman sending her husband to sleep with her servant so he'd have a baby. I never, never once, applied any part of that to ME.

But suddenly I saw what the story was really about. It's about not being able to wait for what God has promised you. It's about trying to help Him out by finding our own ways to make things happen. I suppose I knew that before, but I still never found a way to apply it.

Until lately.

I've accepted some Hagar jobs, looking for the job God would have me have.
I've spent time building Hagar friendships, looking for the friends God would have me have.
I've shopped around Hagar churches looking for a Church God could have me be a part of.
I've tried some Hagar plans, just looking for Gods plans for my life.
I've tried some Hagar solutions to find Gods healing for my life.

You name it, I've grown impatient waiting for God to act and I've found a Hagar, willing and able and I've tried to achieve Gods purpose through her.

But Hagar never fulfilled what God's promise. It added more stress, more problems, more difficulties for Abraham to deal with, but Gods promise still sat there unfulfilled until such time as He deemed to be the right time.

There's nothing wrong with Hagar. Hagar was a necessary part of the household at that time. She was there to serve. The problem came only when they used her to accomplish something that God intended someone else to accomplish.

The special thing to this story is, Abraham didn't need a maidservant. He apparently started worrying that after all these years of not receiving what God had promised him, that he must need something more than he had in order to accomplish Gods promise.

When Gods tools were already in his life. Everything he needed to see Gods promise fulfilled was right in front of him. He just had to wait for Gods timing.

God can use my job, to get me into the perfect job for me.
God can use my friends, to help me meet the perfect friend for me.
God can use my church, to help me find the perfect church for me.
God can use the direction my life is already taking to help me get to the plan God ultimately has for me.

Too much time is spent looking for different things, different ways, to accomplish what God has said He was going to do. When we simply have to be patient and wait for God to accomplish what He promised - in His time frame.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that Hagar is just there.

And the Sarah in our lives that doesn't seem able to accomplish Gods promise?

Well, she's the only one who can.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

40 days of faith is over.

As you can see, this morning at 8am no post appeared.

I'm no longer obligating myself to the very tiresome requirement of a post every single day. Honestly, some days you're just not inspired. :)

But though 40 days of faith is over, a life of faith is still being lived out.

I won't be posting every day about it, but in the sudden silence of the evening I just can't help but stop and think out loud about the day.

It was peaceful. It was exhausting. My body already aches and it's not even the next day yet.
But, it's one of those days that in the quiet of the evening my heart just can't help but swell with ... well, I don't even know, maybe it's something as simple as contentment.

God is good. And, just like I said during 40DOF, it's important to remember that during the good times not just seek Him during the bad. He's my great big every day God.

There's a lot of work to be done to get my house back in order, so I might not be posting much this week. It's time for a mental rest anyway.
I appreciate you all for reading. Even when I'm not worth reading. :)

Be blessed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day 40 - Faith to need Him.

A friend of mine one time mentioned how independent she was and from what part of the conversation that really stuck with me, she was saying that she chose to get married because she wanted her husband. She was independent. She didn't need her husband, but she loved him and so she wanted him.

I could have totally misunderstood the conversation, it's a few years old as it is, but for some reason that comment always stuck with me.

It's ok for God to want us, but not need us.
God doesn't need anything. Or anyone.
He wanted us though.

It's nice to be chosen.

But, thinking about that, I realize how often I act like I'm that way with God.
I don't "need" Him, I just want Him. "Oh I love God so much, He's so good and trustworthy, I want Him in my life."


I need Him.

I'm dead for a lifetime without Him.
I'm LOST for eternity without Him.

He's not some "good man" or a "good idea" or a pleasant thing to do on Sunday mornings to really stabilize your family's synergy.


Do I GET that? Do you get that? Do any of us really get that?

Whatever that pit is that we've crawled out of, we could be right back in it without Him. Addicted to drugs, alcohol, pornography, or gambling. Struggling with anger issues, physically abusive, hurting your wife, your kids, your husband. Depressed, suicidal, cutting on ourselves to control our own pain. Unable to hold a job because you can't accept the authority of your boss because you "know he's stupid". Yeah. You. Yeah. Me. Yeah all of us.

Some people, just don't realize what a debt they owe.

But realize, this isn't luxury item credit card debt we're talking about. I didn't just frivolously charge my salvation when I could have saved up for it.
I was dead. Not dying - dead.

Thing is, that word "need" makes us vulnerable. When we do without a "need" we typically die. But when missing a "need" item in life, I guarantee you there is something in you that becomes desperate. It searches for it's need EVERYWHERE. It seeks it, and often finds fakes in it's search, which leaves you unsatisfied even when you think you've met that need.

You need Him. I need Him.

It doesn't take faith to say that. Anyone will say it almost. At least in the Christian circles.

But it takes faith to act like it.

The world will be changed when we act it.

The world will be awed when we act like we need Jesus more than we need the world.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 39 - Faith to worship with everything that's in you.

There are times, when the spirit of God is moving so wonderfully in a service that all you can do is worship. (And by worship, I don't necessarily mean "sing") Worship takes many forms. Maybe you'll sing a hymn to yourself, maybe you'll sing it out loud where others can follow, maybe you'll just raise your hands and enjoy the beautiful presence of God, maybe you'll lie prostrate on the floor and simply bask in his presence with a heart overflowing and love and joy at His grace.


In my last post I talked about how we need to talk - but sometimes, there's an overwhelming need to just shut up. Let us, quit doing what we do so well. Let us quit using our eloquent church words and simply bask in the presence of God.

Here's why I say it takes faith.

Because when you're in those beautiful situations.. there's always at least 1/3rd, (or even more) who are standing around shuffling their feet and they just aren't getting it. They're the ones still sitting right behind you, or worse - beside you and you're prolonging the awkward moment for them with your hand raising and your weeping.

But here's what I'm ready for. I'm ready for worship. I'm ready to begin coming to my home and worshipping, daily. I'm ready to begin coming to church having already spent such time worshipping God that it's just an extension of my worship to do it corporately. And I'm ready to be nervous as all get out that I'm annoying the daylights out of those that didn't come having already begun their worship.

Worship, worship makes you look stupid sometimes. It leaves you wiping the dirty feet with your hair while people look on and frown. But I'm wondering... when is the last time I've been frowned at for worshipping my Jesus too mightily? When is the last time I laid on the floor, clutching His hand and thanking Him so fervently that I can hardly breathe. When?

I remember the last time well. Those times, have always become profound memories. I can tell you how I felt a hand on my head, when suddenly I heard a ripping noise from my back door and I became too frightened to continue. I can tell you about the last time. Because the last time I did it, Jesus touched me. And when Jesus touches you, it's memorable. It changes you. On that particular night, I cannot express the sensations of love I felt radiating towards me from the Father.

I'm ready to do that again. Because it's life changing. But the hardest part for me, period, is when I feel as though my worship is interrupting peoples regularly scheduled program, or to pull back so my worshipping Jesus won't distract anyone. So my next move is going to take faith. I can see it.

Because here's how the prostitute saw it: "You go ahead with your meal, I'm just going to wash His feet down here, don't mind me." (Luke 7:36-50)

Father, help me to be more like the prostitute.

Because you know how JESUS saw it?

And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. Luke 7:50

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 38 - Giving faith a name.

I really don't know what I had in mind when I started 40 days of Faith. It was simply an idea that came and I knew I had to do it. It has certainly been a challenge, but a rewarding one - I can especially see that as I'm nearing the end.

My world has changed a lot in the past 38 days. A lot. I'm excited to be able to talk about it soon.

But more important, in the past 38 days I've learned this lesson of faith.

You need to speak it. You can't just think it, or "have" it in certain things. You need to speak it. Speak it, write it, blog it, sing it, video it, whatever you do - put it into words.

Bob, over at "In The Clearing" was ranting quite nicely about his aversion to the saying "Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary use words."

He said: "When Acts 8:40 says, "But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea," do you think Philip was just loving people and sharing his life, etc. Or was he SAYING SOMETHING?"

My faith too often goes unspoken. It's as though it is something simply contained in my being. And that's not what faith is singularly. It's so much more. It's a substance, all in itself. It's evidence, all by itself. It's faith.

I think I've let myself get distracted by Religion, quite often. But the other day I found myself back at the heart of it. The gospel message. And at the heart of the gospel message is a word you don't find used too often.
A name even.

And that name is Jesus.

I talk about God an extraordinary amount. But Jesus, my redeemer seems to be on the sidelines while I encounter God. I look forward, with faith, to encountering Jesus on a new level in the coming months. I want Jesus, and the way Christ lived His life to become a central focus of my life, my words, my blog - in that order. I want to use His name more. Because the world talks about God. And God seems to be whatever you want Him to be according to them. So it's not an offensive word.

But Jesus, that is a name that the demons fear. That is a name that causes wars, and fights, and costs people their jobs. It's a name that gets people kicked out of school programs, banners with Christs name torn down, and t-shirts with his name blurred out on tv.

Someone, very long ago, wrote that there was "something about that name" and yet I've been lax in using it. One of the most powerful tools in my arsenal and yet I rarely pull it out.

But no more.

So today, I want to give my faith a name. It's Jesus.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

God can use anything better than you.

GO read Nancy's post. I loved this growing up but I've never seen it done the way she did it.
It'll take two seconds. Seriously. GO.


Day 37 - Faith to deny circumstances control.

I'm even starting this post with tears in my eyes. It all seems so clear, so foolish. So wasteful.

3 years ago, I was faithfully reading my bible, faithfully spending beautiful hours with Christ my Lord in sweet sweet communion. I was growing, I was changing, I was thriving. Then I spent two difficult years as a foster parent.

During those two years, I allowed myself to be overwhelmed with fear, hurt for these kids, weariness at how consuming it was to be a single parent. By the end of the two years I was weak, broken, and not functioning very well as a child of God.

And it's not because of the toll that fear and hurt and weariness takes on you.
It's because I stopped nourishing myself at the foot of the throne during that time.

Sure I stopped in for snacks, for a bite every now and then, and sometimes perhaps for a last desperate meal when I was certain I had come to the very end of what I could take.

But that's not the same as the health that comes from regular meals at His table.

This month I did something foolish. I stopped drinking my wonderful Dr. Pepper. Once I ran out I just determined I wouldn't buy any more. And I didn't. Unfortunately, at that same time I didn't increase my intake of anything else. Kicking the Dr Pepper habit was one thing, developing a water habit was an entirely different one.

So I was acknowledging that I needed to drink more. And trying to. But I wasn't getting very far.

Then earlier this week, I ate some bad food. My body went into full "reject the bad stuff" mode and so I spent a day off work doing just that.
Unfortunately, I spent 48 hrs not taking in anything. I didn't eat or drink anything for 48 hrs. I'm shaking my head at myself even as I type that. I know. Trust me. I know.

It woke me up in the middle of the night and I knew I had to do something. On my way to the living room though, I grabbed a few bottles of water.

I expected my body to receive the water gladly, I expected the water to cure what ailed me.

Instead, my body rejected the water. It made me sick to my stomach.

Sitting here, weak and foolish feeling because this was all a monster of my own making, I just couldn't help but compare it to my initial efforts to find God after I was done fostering. I felt frustrated as I tried to simply stand back up and take in some of His presence. I couldn't feast in His presence quite like I used to. And I had expected that to solve all my problems. Just go back to God and go back to what you did before.

But sometimes you have to take it differently. Sometimes you have to go back and just faithfully sip that water every few minutes rather than trying to guzzle 12 oz to be an insta-cure.
I've been up since 4am, and since that time I've never been away from the water. Even when it made me sick even when I wanted to stop drinking it under the assessment "It's not helping". I know I need it so I'm just determined to get there.

With this 40 days of faith, this my equivalent to hugging my bottle of water. It's been hard to post every day. Some days I just didn't have it in me (hence why I'm pre-posting so that not a day will go by). But even then I have to read my post even if I can't write it. I'm going to get there. I will begin nourishing my spiritual body again faithfully, trustingly, knowing now that without this nourishment I simply perish.

I can't... I can't let circumstances dictate the basic necessities of life. That specifically means my spiritual life. More than any other life. Physical life isn't worth living if I'm spiritually dead. I'm healing now, and I'm clutching my Jesus saying I don't ever want to see that place again. NEVER again.

I want to live. I will sit at His table, I will spiritually eat, and spiritually drink, and spiritually exercise my faith. I want to live.

And I feel very responsible to make sure I don't squander good spiritual health again the way that I have. So I'm going to sit in His presence, and continue healing until the healing is done and the growing once again begins.

And I'm certainly going to hydrate myself for crying out loud.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Matt Chandler - The missing angst of the church.

I know I know. I'm just really excited about the messages I'm hearing.
This one has audio only. But he talks about something near and dear to my heart - the missing angst of the church. He just puts it way better than I do. Please, please watch it.

Matt Chandler - Jesus wants the rose.

I'm interrupting faith week again:
Nate over at The Jesus Paradigm posted this video and I wanted you to see it as well.
I just watched it - it may only seem 'ok' for the first bit, but the end will grip you. So watch it - please watch it.

Day 36 - Faith to shut up a minute!

Before I start this, I want to make something clear to anyone reading, my most especially to myself years from now when I go back and read this again in some fit of nostalgia. I'm not upset. I'm not hurt, slighted, angry, bitter, or any bad emotion. This post, is simply telling the story.

I visited my parents today.

Each year, the lake that they live at holds a meeting with all of their members. After the meeting, my parents put on a pretty awesome steak dinner for all 20 something members. And since I've moved out I've gone back each time to help. So for 8 hrs yesterday, I got to play caterer extraordinaire.

I got there, and from the minute I got there my dad started talking. Here's how mom is doing, watch this, chop the tomatoes different, the phone call at 10 at night, his opinions on church, how great the kids are at this one church (best kids he's ever known) (and yes, my brother and I glare at him each time he says it because he says that A LOT), his opinions on church youth camps, his memories of church youth camp, his milled flax seed (tastes like dirt he says, but it was surprisingly tasteless) (mom wouldn't let me put it on the salad as a fun healthy joke treat for our dinner guests *sigh*) we ended with nearly 45 solid minutes of his military memories. He never ran out of anything to say. 8 hours of words.

I went there with one thing to say. And I never got it said.

Literally, the only way I could have gotten it said was if I had simply waited for him to take a breath in one of his stories and then yelled out the information. Considering the nature of what we were trying to tell him, it didn't seem to be the most appropriate way to share the news.

I drove away with my mind full of all his many words. He was passionate about them. All of them. From his idea that no one puts God first anymore to how he wanted the tomatoes diced. It was all oh so very important. And I think that's the part that really made me realize what I doof I am when I pray.

I imagine that just because I have emotionally poured myself out to God, because I have been fervent, because I have touched on each of the needs facing those I know and the world in general, because I have begged His will to be done; that all those things mean I have prayed well. I have communed with God.

But what if every time I hit my knees, every time my eyes lifted to the Heavens or my heart bent itself to pray, what if every single time I went there more intent on hearing what He had to say instead of what I needed to say? How much would that change my prayer time? How much could that change my life?

How many times does God sit there, listening to my prayers and just waiting for me to let Him speak too. I'd imagine it's fairly often.

That's the part that hurts though, how many times have I gone to God, gotten His complete attention, had Him poised to speak to me, when suddenly as my words finally came to a close I stood up and went back about my business?

You see, it takes faith to kneel down, to bend your heart in prayer and then wait for God. In the silence your mental conversation begins... this is kinda silly...so how long am I suppose to sit here not talking?...are people watching me not pray???....I wonder if it's bad that I'm thinking these silly thoughts while I'm waiting?.... maybe this means I'm not waiting since my mind is still running?...is He even going to SAY anything?...why isn't He saying anything?...maybe He's tried but your mind won't shut up long enough to hear it...

**commence heartfelt prayers that God would quiet my heart and make me still before Him**

I'm shaking my head at myself even as I write this, because that's exactly how it plays out.

But here's the faith that I have.

God does speak today. He speaks to each and every one of us, even though He often has to interrupt us to do it. And I believe, firmly, that if we shut up for a minute and quiet ourselves in His presence, He may begin to speak more and more often as we learn to l i s t e n.

His is a voice we sheep need to be listening for. There's a difference in listening TO and listening FOR. When you listen to a voice, you simply hear them when they speak. When you're listening for a voice, as you walk through every moment of every day, sometimes you find yourself stopped in the middle of a sentence, in the middle of a project, in the middle of a sermon or teaching class, and you say "Was that You Lord? I thought I heard You!"

But that only lasts so long until, after hearing and listening to that voice for so long there is no longer any question when you hear His still small voice in your ear. It's not just a practiced thing, but a relationship thing. As you get deeper and deeper in to the love and fellowship of Christ you learn His voice better and better. You learn His words, You learn His heart. And as you do that, there will be times when the world tells you "That's not of God" but holding onto your Savior you'll know that they haven't seen the whole of God. They haven't grasped the full revelation of who God is.

Not that you have either. But if I'm going to see through this glass darkly, I'm going to be pressed up to that glass as close as I can peering for a better view.

God help us to shut up a minute so You can talk!

Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day 35 - Surrendering to faith.

Your grace has found me just as I am.
Empty-handed but alive in your hand
Forever I am changed by Your love
In the presence of Your majesty.

Those are the lyrics to the song Majesty by Michael W. Smith.

In the video I'm watching right now, he sings that song and the follows it up with "I surrender all"

I thought about the words "empty-handed but alive in Your hand" and I was thinking about surrender. It seems like the opposite of faith. It's the moment when you see everything is entirely hopeless, your efforts are hopeless, your struggle is hopeless; your only option left - with any chance of survival - is to throw down your weapons and surrender to your pursuer.

It's amazing how many weapons we keep stashed on our person though.

But when we finally raise our arms in surrender to Christ our endless Pursuer, we unthinkingly keep back some weapons.
He says He loves us - and we tell Him there are conditions to His love.
He says He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness - we tell Him once an addict always an addict.
He says goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives - we counter that it is instead abuse and sorrow that will follow us.
He says we will be counted as His children - we say we are just; just a housewife, just a child, just a Sunday school teacher, just a plumber, just a nurse, just a new Christian, just a homeless bum.

We hold onto these weapons of protection. They protect us from embracing a whole world that doesn't make sense to us. It's a world that offers us love despite our worst sins. It offers us love despite our very best days as well. It doesn't care about any of that. Because compared to the goodness of God the worst and best of ourselves is so small it's worse than petty.

Those weapons we so diligently guard, and hide protect us from the scary idea of having faith. Believing in the impossible. HOPING for the impossible.

So we hold onto those weapons.

Surrendering to faith is a scary idea. It means that I can't harp on my imperfections anymore, because faith says "In my weakness He is strong."
Surrendering to faith means not accepting that a circumstance can only change as much as you physically can change it.

A full surrender to faith means surrendering to Gods viewpoint of you. It means accepting that your value isn't based on what you do, but in the One who loves you. It means accepting that your past no longer defines you, but Christ Himself is where your definition comes from.
A full surrender to faith means surrendering to hope.

So many of us are impostor rebels in His family. Attempting to pass ourselves off as trusting children, while we cling to the weapons of fear, and anger, distrust and failure.

We fool ourselves maybe, and others as well, but we don't fool God. Not for a moment. And that is why He never stops His pursuit. Forever chasing, forever wooing, forever challenging our views and perceptions, waiting for us to surrender each hidden fear, each hidden hurt. Until we're finally we're created.

We don't suddenly become as a child, oozing innocence. No. We become the rescued. We become those who have been dragged though our own personal hell on earth and found the arms of a loving Savior. We become desperate, but now we're desperate for God. We're desperate for His presence and His words. Our hearts literally beat with gratitude as we realize that we've truly been rescued, saved not just from our situations but from the continued hell we put ourselves through.

We become the worshipful children of our Sovereign Lord.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Day 34 - Faith to be exactly who you are.

Yesterday I hummed "Nearer my God to Thee" followed by "I'm movin' on" ( a song by Rascal Flatts) and finished up with several verses of "America the Beautiful". I'm a jukebox gone seriously wrong.
At work I've been called "Pollyanna", only slightly less than I've been affectionately called "Freak/Weirdo".
I'm not the least bit afraid to make you angry with me, but I'll only do it if I really feel I need to because I hate it more than anything else.
My idea of "need to times" are drastically different from my victims.
I rarely pray at the altar at church because I've got a deep seeded fear of praying in public like the Pharisees did.
I'm quick (often too quick) to jump on whatever bandwagon is exciting or challenging, or just plain interesting to me.
I love children to an impossible level.
I'm too strict.
I expect too much from people.
I set impossibly high standards for people to reach, and am always bitterly disappointed when they don't make it.
I have an annoying habit of not saying anything when I don't have anything to say. Anyone up for an awkward silence?
I have an annoying habit of talking when there's just no need for it.
I get frustrated too easily.
I twist the truth into lies to get out telling things I don't want to.
I could be a professional liar. (Sometimes I actually have to stop and think, to keep from lying.)
I'm pushy.
I laugh with people even when I don't think they're funny, because I don't want them to feel awkward.
I sometimes think later that the person should have felt awkward after what they said, and that I should not have tried to ease the moment.
I feel overwhelmingly responsible for people.
I procrastinate like all get out. (My laundry has been hanging on a line in my living room for 3 days now. I'm pretty sure it's dry by now.)
I buy things I don't like, just to annoy myself sometimes (Otherwise life is boring sometimes with little variety).
I'm crazy about God.
I sing... a lot.
And no, I don't sing well.
I'm passionate about justice.
I've been a miserable human being and I'm thankful that Jesus is equally passionate about mercy.

I'm a flawed, and certainly quirky individual. But by faith, I believe that all my quirks and struggles and obnoxious traits amount to something that God is interested in. Something that God had a hand in creating. Something that God is still in the development phases of. And while I could hide my flaws or be too embarrassed to state them (I'm pretty sure I haven't dug too deep into the flaw bank for this post) I'd rather be brave enough to be the first to tell you about them.

Because if God can love ME... seriously, you have no idea the stupidity I've put Him through... but if He can love me despite all this - He can love you. So take a good look at me. I'm growing in faith to be exactly what God made me. I'm still flawed. But I'm happy to be loved in Him, flaws and all. Even if you're ready to smother me with a pillow.

Be exactly who you are and look to God there. You'll find Him. Look beyond all the stupid quirks and look for the greatness of God in someone. You'll find it.

Who are you?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Day 33 - Faith for peace

In the last 33 days I've said it at least a couple of times. Sometimes the faith is a choice.
When your heart wants to be anxious, you choose to be at peace.
When your mind wants to race, you choose quiet.
When your body is restless you choose rest.
When your soul is tormented you choose trust.

I don't mean to make it seem like faith is something entirely up to you. Of course it's only possible through God. But we're our biggest obstacle to faith. I know I'm certainly my biggest obstacle.

I could simply sit back and choose faith, or I can allow my mind to race, my heart to be anxious, my body to be restless and my soul to be tormented.

You let yourself do things. You let yourself fear. You let yourself worry. You let yourself doubt.

But God wants you to choose Him. Choose faith. Choose to believe when the it's only the substance of "hoped for" and evidence of "not seen".
Choose to walk away from fear and doubt.
Choose to simply hold on to what God has said.
Choose to walk away from anger.
Choose to simply hold on to what Jesus promised.
Choose to walk away from doubt.
Choose to simply hold onto the fact that Jesus loves you. He loves you.

That love, if you really believe in that love as He has demonstrated it, the depth and height of it, it gives you confidence to be at peace no matter what comes your way.

And the peace that comes from knowing, and embracing the fact that you are loved beyond your ability to grasp, it's not that you sit there forcing yourself to be silent and pretending to trust. You instead look at the anger, and compare it to what Jesus promised and you find that somehow you can't be angry anymore.

I feel as though I'm repeating myself but this message seems important to me. Maybe it's simply most important for me to embrace myself. Because too often I look at the doubt, and then I look at God and somehow the doubt looks easier to hold onto. It's just too unbelievable that one such as He, could love one such as me.

But, the truth is still the truth. No matter how much I doubt it, no matter how much I allow anger to rule, no matter how much I dig in and wallow in a pit of fear. Sometimes, when all those things merge in and threaten to overwhelm me, I have to just remember which things are really stronger.

And I can know, and trust in the fact that those things that are too big, too wild and difficult to hold onto, can hold onto me. He holds me when I can't hold onto Him.

He's bigger than me. So much bigger. But I can find my peace in the fact that as small and insignificant as I am, I'll never be too small for Him to hold onto me.
I'll never be out of His care.
If that doesn't generate peace, nothing can.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day 32 - Faith to be patient.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with someone who really wants something. They want it to the exclusion of all else. They want it, they want it now, and waiting is the most detestable idea they can think of to the point that they're angry they have to wait. I did my best to keep up a constant cadence of how important this waiting time was, how it allowed you time to prepare for what you want before it actually arrives.

Mentally I shook my head at the idea that they just didn't seem to be able to get past the I WANT I WANT I WANT to see the necessity of the wait. If they had what they wanted right now, it would be the worst thing possible. But they couldn't see that.
Oh but I could. Internally I was shaking my head at how they didn't see how important this time of preparation was. Internally I tried to will myself to be patient.

And then today I saw those exact same characteristics in myself.

I've been busily preparing for an event in my life. Some days, I'm so anxious for it I can hardly see the preparations, can hardly even stand the preparations. I just want it to happen and happen NOW! If I had it right this minute though, it would be the worst thing possible. I know that. But knowing it, and being willing to wait are two different things.

And I understood just as easily as I understand myself, that the reason you become anxious during some of these events is because you're afraid it won't really happen. You're afraid that at the last minute some stupid detail is going to fall through, some new requirement is going to pop up, and the thing that you're longing for, hoping for, waiting for, will somehow not happen.

But God, who sees beyond my wildest hopes and fondest dreams; who knows my future because He was the one who mapped it out in perfect consideration of the future He had in mind for me; who loves me more than His own life, can be trusted to be waited on.

I can wait on Him. I can wait on my future. I can wait on the plans, and the hopes, and the ideas and the goals. I can wait. And I can wait hopefully, trustingly, faithfully. With my heart not divided against itself and my will vs His will.
I can wait with my every desire being for Christ, who will never replace my expectations with a serpent.

I will see disappointment, I will see dreams not met, but only the ones that were not inspired by Him in the first place. And for that, despite myself, I have to feel overwhelmingly grateful.
God's still in control. He's worth waiting on. And every second that I have of waiting time is valuable time that I can be using to be ready for when He opens the door that I am to walk through.

I sure don't want to have to yell out "Wait! I ain't got my shoes on yet!"

Instead, my house will be clean, my bills will be paid, the cat will be fed, and I'll be standing always near the door with my purse over my shoulder and just waiting for the door to open. I'll be somewhere listenin' for my name.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day 31 - Faith to keep the shades off.

I'm a freak when it comes to nature. I spent a 20 minute drive home tonight simply analyzing the different colors of the clouds. It's amazing I didn't drive off into a ditch - but it would have been an exceptional way to go. The varieties of pinks, blues, greys, whites, purples, all simply resplendent with the golden sun setting behind the horizon... it makes you catch your breath.

I visited Little One this evening and I probably drove her nuts, stopping her at every different vantage point asking "Look at those clouds! do you see that one?"

God is simply the most amazing, breath-stealing artist of all times. Never a masterpiece the same, hour after hour always changing. Simply beautiful.

And that's why I hate sunglasses. I have weary eye syndrome. Or at least that's what I call it. Often while I'm driving at the slightest hint of bright light my eyes begin watering like fountains. It's one of the few times you'll actually see me wearing sunglasses in the "on" position. But even tonight, as I covered my eyes for few minutes I glared unhappily at the glaze it put on my beautiful world. I tried my best to see the beauty and the colors still, but all I saw was muted greys and darkened clouds.

I finally took them off, just hoping my traitorous eyes would simply ignore whatever it is that the glorious sun seems to do to them.

The sights imprinted on my memory still make me smile even now.

A more constant annoyance are windows. I can't get around them. The few times I've tried I usually end up at my destination looking like something the cat dragged in after scrounging in tornado rubble. Windblown, tangled and strangely dry and warped looking. It's certainly a sight to behold. One I'm sure you'd be willing to wear your sunglasses for. :)

But windows are one more thing that put even the slightest glaze on my world. I love to see the world from the outside, purely, not a thing between it and me and seeing as clearly and as perfectly as these human eyes can. I do whatever I can, as often as I can, to do just that.

What's all this have to do with anything?

Well, my pastor said something recently that caught my attention. I don't know if he was really thinking all the way along these lines or if the emphasis he put on the words simply put the idea into my head but he mentioned how Jesus knew when God turned away from Him on the cross. And Jesus cried out "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?"

And I realized something, Jesus had such a pure and clear relationship with the Father that in the moment that God turned His back Jesus knew it. How long does it take you to realize you've wandered off the path? Longer than a moment I bet.

But also, the film that separated Father and Son was a simple and vile thing called sin.

Sins are the sunglasses to my relationship with God.

One minute you're viewing something lovely and grand, then along comes sin to put that film between you and your Beloved and that view is no longer the same. Instantly transformed into something less beautiful, less noble, less glorious and awe-inspiring. It taints your view.

So many times I think we close our eyes and reopen them with this new view, this tainted dimmed view of God that we don't even quite realize we've lost some of the grandeur of it. And slowly more and more sin creeps in darkening and staining our life changing picture of God and Christ until it becomes something far more dreadful than ugly or detestable.
It becomes uninspiring, mundane, average.

Jesus knew the minute that this film stood between He and His Father. And it's my prayer today, that I can faithfully and diligently seek my awe-inspiring Father to keep my vision cleared from this taint. I never see Him as anything but grand and glorious.

......As a small side note though, much like keeping my sunglasses off puts pressure on my eyes, so does keeping that sinful taint out of your life. I know that the view without those pesky shades is a lifetime better than the view with them. So regardless of what it might be costing my eyes, whenever I possibly can, I don't wear them. Sometimes I do end up with burning, watering eyes - but the shades that protect my eyes allow me to neglect the part of me that simply basks in the beauty and glory of the world God's created.

But the sins that keep your ministry going long after God's timing, the sins that keep your ego protected, the sins that keep your marriage "protected", the sins that keep you protected from being scorned by your family and friends, those sins blind you to the glory of God. From the perfectly clear presence of God that you could become so in tune with that the moment He turns His face from you - you know.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Day 30 - Faith for a lifestyle of small things.

Someone today did something so very profound and touching, that it was as though they had done something huge and wonderful.
When in reality, it was so small, and so insignificant to them, that if I asked them even now if they remembered the action they wouldn't have even realized they'd done it.

Even if I reminded them of it, described the event, they wouldn't have a clue.

I'm sitting here, smiling slightly, and thinking of how special it would be to be able to give a gift like that without even realizing it. And as I thought about it, all I could think about was how important it is to have the small things in your life. All over your life.

It's easy to imagine that your life doesn't mean anything to anyone. To imagine that your actions don't make a difference to anyone or any situation.

That's why it takes faith to act on the faith that your actions make a difference. The small ones. The impossibly small moments where you speak a word of encouragement, or offer someone 5 minutes of focused attention ignoring the phone. Maybe it's the matter of walking across the room to speak to someone you wouldn't normally speak to, just to greet them and ask how they're doing.

Sometimes not only is it easy to imagine that your actions don't make a difference - it's easier to hope that your actions don't make a difference. But they do.

You, you have the opportunity to make someone feel loved. To make them feel special, to make them feel thought of. You have the opportunity to make someone believe that someone out there cares if they live or die. You have opportunities. You can give someone hope, encouragement, faith, and support. You do it with big things, but more than anything you do it in the every day small things.

I've always liked this song "History Maker" because I love the big things. I LOVE the big things. And this song certainly encourages that obsession.
But, when you develop a lifestyle of the small things - you help write the history of someones life. Maybe not nations, maybe not countries, maybe not even your whole city. But you touch one life. Little bit by little bit.
How can you change the world, when you're not willing to touch the single life?

Monday, April 13, 2009

A vision - Rivers of living water.

I'm interrupting 40 days of faith again. Something happened tonight and I want to type it out if for no other reason than so I won't lose it. I'm desperately afraid that I'll go to sleep and in the exhaustion of the next few days forget some of the finer points of what I saw.

Tonight, I wrote a post in which I mentioned my eyes watering. You won't be seeing it until Wednesday I believe. But then I went to bed, and I was lying there, listening with annoyance to a bug crawl across some papers somewhere in the room.

I closed my eyes, and I saw as clear as a person could see, water. The water came chest high on me in the room, and for some reason I bent down to pull some kind of plug to release the water. I then realized that it was futile to drain the water in that way, because the water wasn't just in the room, it was all over the area. From inside to outside the house. And that's when I discovered that the water was coming from my eyes. Not tears, but thick streams flowing from my eyes filling the room.

I opened my eyes and the image was gone, then as I was trying to figure out what on earth it could possibly mean the phrase came into my mind "rivers of living water".

None of it makes sense at this point. And it could easily very well be that I'm working a lot and sleeping less. But this one felt like the other few times, so real and so wide awake.

If anyone has any insight, please share it. Or at the least, pray that I'll gain insight.

Day 29 - Faithful trusting prayer.

“Compassionate Lord,

Thy mercies have brought me to the dawn of another day. Vain will be its gift unless I grow in grace, increase in knowledge, ripen for spiritual harvest. Let me this day know Thee as Thou art, love Thee supremely, serve Thee wholly, admire Thee fully. Through grace let my will respond to Thee, knowing that power to obey is not in me, but that Thy free love alone enables me to serve Thee. Here then is my empty heart, overflow it with Thy choicest gifts; here is my blind understanding, chase away its mists of ignorance.

O ever watchful Shepherd, lead, guide, tend me this day; without Thy restraining rod I err and stray. Hedge up my path lest I wander into unwholesome pleasure, and drink its poisonous streams; direct my feet that I be not entangled in Satan’s secret snares, nor fall into his hidden traps. Defend me from assailing foes, from evil circumstances, from myself.

(HT: Tolle Lege)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day 28 - A word of faithful hope for Easter - from Gunner

Gunner over at Raw Christianity writes eloquently of our dirty and faithful hope this Resurrection Sunday.

Good Friday. It seems that nothing less than your spiritual best can qualify you to worship on such a day. A day of gory splendor such as this calls for heartfelt pangs of conviction and heartwarming expressions of gospel praise. Dressed in white robes or with the flashing brightness of the angels, you may come. Dressed in the happy garb of springtime, head upraised in joyful procession, you may come. Carefully groomed, neatly pressed, all put together, you may come.

But I do not suppose that Good Friday is only for these, or mainly for these, or for these at all. No, this is where the filthy come to wash our garments white, where the wretched come to find undeserved love, where the estranged come to find reconciliation. We come to worship, yes, but we come to be healed, to be washed, to be forgiven. We come for mercy. And in our desperate receiving of this mercy is our worship.

So if you are under trial, come. He was tried for you. If you find yourself accused, welcome. He was accused for you. If your burdens are heavy, come. He carried the crossbeam for you. If your road is hard, come. He walked the Calvary Road for you. If your critics are many, come. He was mocked and ridiculed for you. If you feel forsaken, come. He was forsaken for you. On Good Friday, if your songs are songs of lament, come. Never was there a lament like his.

I say again, lest it go unsaid: If you are downcast, come. He was cast down for you. If you find your soul downtrodden — whether you know why or not — come. He was trodden down for you. And if you find your heart as empty and cold as the cold, empty tomb, come. It was emptied for you.

*click here for his whole post*

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 27 - Faith to doubt the devil - For every lie repost.

I have two very popular posts on my blog.
The #1 - most googled post is my post on the song "I feel the joy of the Lord"
If you google it, my blog is the first thing that pops up on google. I can't tell you how cool that is.
But my 2nd most popular post is "For every lie there is a truth."

So, since I like the post so much (it's my favorite of all my posts), I thought I'd post it for 40 days of Faith. Enjoy.


If the devils lies were bricks, I'd be living in a brick mansion.

To be honest, I don't know about anyone elses walk. Maybe none of you face the same things I do. If you don't, maybe you just read my blog so you can go to bed at night with a sigh of relief saying "there but for the grace of God go I!"

But I blog on. And you read on. I hope it's useful.

Driving in to work this morning I made a really sad realization. It's one I've been aware of before, maybe even stopped to think about it before, but it pierced a little more deeply this time I believe.

Sometimes, I've chosen to believe the devils lies, because it's easier than hoping.

For every lie, there is a truth. The devil says I'm worthless. God says I'm worth dying for. Look at yourself, which one is easier for you to believe? Is it easier to shout at the devil that you're worth dying for or to cry out to God that you're worthless?

I know my answer. And unfortunately I spend way too much time crying out to God the devils lies.

But just because the lies are easier to believe., doesn't make them any truer.

Imagine, just for a moment, if you threw all the lies of the devil out the window for just one day.
For just one day, you didn't believe people were out to get you.
For just one day, you believed you didn't have to be afraid
.For just one day, you weren't afraid to trust, love, hope, or step out of the boat.
For just one day, you knew everything would be ok.
For just one day, you didn't think fill in name was beyond Gods reach.
For just one day, you didn't think _________ was impossible.
For just one day, you didn't think you were alone.
For just one day, you didn't think fill in person/church/event/relationship was going to fail.

I don't really believe that the biggest problem is that we can't tell the difference between the lie and the truth. I generally know the devils lies. I know when he's lying to me. But, I also know the devils way seems deceptively easier. It's easier to believe _______ is impossible, than to step out of the boat and take a risk.10 years later though, maybe even just a month later, you realize life is a lot more difficult because you didn't step out to grab the impossible.

Not 20 minutes ago, my 5'5" co-worker was chased down the hallway by a big roach looking thing with wings. She stepped into the restroom, and popped right back out with a shout I can't repeat on a Christian blog. For several minutes I listened to the sounds of her trying to exterminate him. She's got a good 5'4" on this guy, but he had wings, and could run fast. This bug has been predetermined to be nasty and so she didn't want to touch him. Afraid that he would touch her, she ran.

I went back there, finally, and stepped on him.
Here's the moral.

The devil will fill your mind with his nasty little lies. He'd be happy to. He's got plenty of time on his hands. I can either spend my time running away from his lies, hoping they won't touch me and make me feel bad. Or I can march over to it and stomp on it. I can't handle this? STOMP. My friend will have to figure out how to live with and control the pain of her fibromyalgia? STOMP. God won't provide? STOMP. That guy looks too dirty to offer him a ride? STOMP. God has condemned me? STOMP. I'm not smart enough about biblical things to witness? STOMP.

I want a bug free life. I want a bug free mind. Peace, real peace doesn't come from running from those bugs the devil has hatched in my mind, but from killing them. And then clinging to the truth. The Truth. For every lie, there is a truth. And I will never find freedom, peace, joy, until I find the truths that God has provided for each lie, and cling.

I just long for freedom. I long to see people experiencing freedom around me. Not just people running from the enemy, but grabbing onto God. There's a difference. Too much religion is about running from the devil, and not about running to God. I'm longing. Longing for better for myself. Longing for better for everyone around me.And if I'm longing for that, I can only imagine how much God is longing for that. But first I have to stomp that little bug that says God doesn't spend time longing for me.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Day 26 - Faith to give every.single.thing to Him as His own.

I gave poor customer service.

I got stubborn about an issue at work. Foolishly stubborn. Someone wanted something from their file, and I promised it to them within the next 3 days. They wanted it immediately. I dug in my heels. It was foolish.

Then I went out to use my lunch hour to try and regain perspective.

Life's been crazy here the last 14 days. We've posted jobs publically for the first time in awhile now, and the response has been incredible. I've had more phone calls, and received more applications than I could ever have imagined tackling before.

That doesn't excuse me though. I just needed to regain my perspective on the entire situation so that one thing didn't collapse my whole house of cards.

I ran my errands, then I ended up just sitting in my car... thinking. Ultimately, I ended up praying.

God I don't know why these people hired me. The job is always overwhelming as it is without adding all this to it. But I know beyond a doubt that customer service is important to me, and what I did today wasn't appropriate. Service is the key word here Lord, I failed to serve. And more than anything, I want You to be glorified by my work here. I might not necessarily do the best job that a person could expect, but Lord, with Your help I can glorify You with an attitude of service towards those around me. This job is Yours Lord, because they never would have hired just me. Help me to go back in there and do this right.

I went back inside, called the person and admitted I'd just been stubborn and apologized. She graciously accepted my apology.
In that 45 minute lunch break, I'd received 26 voice mails.
I took care of those, gaining 10 new ones during the time it took to finish them.
I received 3 more projects that needed to be completed immediately.
Upon completing them, I was able to begin the project that was the last thing I needed to do before I could get to work on my actual work.
It was 4:30pm, 30 minutes till time to leave and somehow, someway, I had completed those different tasks and was able to start on my actual work.

If you had asked me, all week long, if there was any way that I'd get to my regular work that day, I would have laughed. It'd have been a frustrated and slightly crazed laugh maybe, but I'd have laughed. It's impossible.

But here's what I know.

When you give something to God - He owns it.

He doesn't shirk a duty that you shove His way. He doesn't leave you high and dry while He wonders how you're going to deal.

I mentioned the fact to one of the ladies that work here, and she told me the story of her daughter who is struggling in her marriage. Her motherly advice to her daughter had been: "Get on your knees, both of you, tell it all to God - good and bad alike - and ask Him to help. Don't think that you're just fighting for a marriage yourself."

So let me tell you, based on my own failures - Whatever it is you're doing. Whatever it is you're struggling with. Whatever ministry, endeavor, job, marriage, financial crisis, relationship, or child that you're desperately struggling with: Give it to God.

He'll take it. When you give it to Him He can work wonders where impossibilities only lay ahead. Trust in the fact that He never fails. And He will accomplish the work that He has begun.
He didn't put you in that marriage to fail.
He didn't put you in that job to fail.
He didn't give you that child so you could fail as a parent.
He didn't send you that broken person so you could fail as a missionary.

But so often we get caught up trying to accomplish things in our own power and our own abilities. We can't accomplish His work. We really can't. Not like that. WITH GOD all things are possible. I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST which strengthens me.

God has made it clear that impossibilities were a non-issue. But He also made it very clear that it wasn't the great and powerful Jeanette, or Joe, or Sue, that made it possible.

Whatever it is, really, whatever it is, sit down right this minute and just give it to God.
Don't keep it.
Give it. N O W.
And He'll make a way where there isn't even a glimmer of a way.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away,
He holdeth me up and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Day 25 - Faith as faith, not a science

Today - someone elses words on faith.

Matthew Paul Turner over at "Jesus Needs New PR" wrote a post concerning the year anniversary of the birth/life/death of a baby I have known only through the blogosphere. Audrey Caroline.


But that's faith. For a long time, I didn't think that doubt and uncertainty had any place within a person's pursuit of faith.

I was wrong. Immature. Misguided.

I'm not sure that faith can truly exist without doubt. Doubt is what makes it faith and not science.

Faith was never meant to be perfect or explained away with a sermon series.

So today, one year after losing little Audrey, I resist my temptation to make faith into something that fits on a page or blog or in a book. I refuse to allow one question destroy it. But too, I won't let the fear of asking that question define it either.

*click here for the whole post*

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Day 24 - Faith in the faithful God

He's been so faithful to me.

I wish there was some way of showing you how fiercely my heart beats those words.

My God has been so faithful to me.

By biblical definitions my heart has been adulterous. I've doubted, cheated, walked away, stomped away, ran away, came back, accused, doubted, and a lot of times simply refused to trust in what I could not see.

But all that time He was faithful. He was a faithful provider, He was a faithful Friend. He never left my side, even when I felt alone and abandoned - He'd never left.
When I returned to Him, He was profoundly faithful to be merciful.

He's a God, a Saviour, a Friend. And faithful at all aspects of it.

Today, I love Him more because I can see what I've been. I love Him more because I know He was patient with me when I didn't deserve patience. I love Him more today because ...

...because He loved me. He kept on loving me even during some months when I was far less than lovable.

You can't put a price on that. You can't put a measure of value on that.

That type of love makes you humble.

That type of love changes the way you love back. It helps you love back with gratitude, appreciation, hope, and sincere regret for any and all actions that you foolishly make that would hurt this great Beloved.

His faithfulness during the last years (though especially during the very last year) gives me more faith. Though I still doubt, even my doubts are more frustrations than sincere doubt I think. Because I can't argue with the facts of my past. I can't pretend that He hasn't been there - even when I accuse it I still know it's not true.

He's been good. That sentence seems so weak though. He's been merciful.
He's been faithful.
And there is no better place to put my faith.

Come on, take 3 minutes and watch the video.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Day 23 - Faith beyond beauty.

At this exact moment I'm sitting in my very quiet living room on a blissful Saturday afternoon. I admit, you won't see this until Tuesday because I've been preposting out of a lack of faith that I would be able to have enough faith to post about faith every single day for 40 days. Make sense?
But today, sitting in my quiet living room, it is a blissfully beautiful day outside. I've cleaned my home and done laundry - which includes hanging my sheets on the line outside then hours later pulling them off while I sniff the sunny aroma of the sheets. And it still makes me grin that I didn't use a dryer.

There's a man playing catch with his son in the school playground next door. A cat is lying in the sunny spot on the ledge of my porch. A man is riding his bike through the parking lot next to my house while he whistles to his dog. Birds are chirping. The church bells are gonging a song I've heard them gong before, but I still don't know the name of the song.

As I was putting away the now clean laundry, I couldn't help but think that in these quiet times it's so easy to just be preoccupied with whatever you're doing that day. Or maybe future plans. Maybe just preoccupied with the book you're reading.
But in the last hour or so my mind could only think of how peaceful life is right now and how thankful I was to God for it. These days, these beautiful peaceful days come only because God has brought the good into my life. Every good gift is from above. And I'm thankful for this gift.

People always imagine faith to be something that is used in the trials, when you're challenged or struggling with something. Faith is for when things hurt. Faith is for when things don't make sense and you're ready to call it quits. Faith is for when you lose your job, or God calls you to a life you're nervous about.

But faith is the substance of things hoped for. Evidence of things unseen. Sure you may need to hold your faith tightly on the hard days so you don't fall; but I wonder if it isn't easier to fall as we ignore that substance on the cheerful sunny days. We set aside the evidence in exchange for plans with a friend or an hour playing x-box. When we feel safe we're more prone to let that life-giving faith wonder around the edges of our life.

I suppose that's why I wanted to make a special point of my faith in this hour. This beautiful, carefree hour. My faith is still of something hoped for. I haven't held onto my faith for this day. No, my faith isn't the substance of a carefree day like this hoped for. It is not the evidence of a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

No, my faith is in God. My faith looks up. My faith looks up even beyond carefree days and beauty.

May thy rich grace impart strength to my fainting heart, my zeal inspire! As thou hast died for me, O may my love to thee pure, warm, and changeless be, a living fire!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Day 22 - Faith to not say it

Day 22 was originally "Faith to lay it all down".

I'm deleting the entire thing. I fear, that my very hope for something, could hurt someones feelings. So I'm deleting it.

It's harder to hit delete than I thought it would be. I know you don't know who you are, but I love you greatly. I love you more than my writing. As I should.

Sometimes in life, you come to be under the impression that if you don't say it, if you don't voice that opinion, the world just won't turn right. All of lifes problems and concerns will all be your fault because you didn't speak.

My brother recently lost his debit card. I'd watched him put the card in the little black folder for the server to pick up, and I kept thinking "He needs to put it in a slot - the card could fall out." And sure enough, the server returned and said his card hadn't been in the folder.
For the next 3 days I beat myself up saying "I should have spoken". His card was found and returned to him the very next day - but I still continued to beat myself up over it.

The avoidance of that singular regret, the regret of the unsaid - has spawned millions of regrets over things that should have gone unsaid.

I've been pre-posting, writing the posts a few days in advance, so I knew this uncertain post was going to hit the public today. And last night I made the decision to pull it. As it would happen though, upon getting home I ended up in several phone calls, texts, and chat room conversations and seemingly hundreds of google searches drawn into the drama of two different events that will soon take place. I never got around to deleting it.

This morning, I wondered vaguely, at 7:30, if I would have time to delete the post before it hit at 8. Then I noticed the strange color outside my house.

It was darker than it should be.

My clock, my interesting and stuck in the past clock, had sprung forward for daylight savings time as it used to be in April. I had an extra hour in which to make the post go away and replace it.

I could have hugged God this morning for that gift.

The gift to keep something unsaid.

The world will keep spinning on it's axis, and all future troubles in this world will not hinge on what I said or didn't say today. But with joy, I can tell you that I didn't hurt someone today. I didn't disappoint them, or leave them sighing over twinges of sorrow. I chose them, a person, a dearly loved friend, over my incessant need to say words.

Only God can work something that strong in me.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Day 21 - Faith to break.

I never once considered the after effects of the whole sitting on the ground throwing dirt on yourself and mourning for something like they did in the bible. But let me tell you - I don't know how they did it.

Quite recently, instead of bible study we ended up talking about several people who were facing some very hard times. It was difficult to listen to, but worth it.

I managed to not cry.

That is, until we bowed our heads to pray - and it was then that my heart started breaking for these people.
That prayer was my embarrassing undoing.
Right after it, crazily enough a couple of even worse stories seemed to start just pouring out of one of the ladies until I was just sitting there shaking, with tears pouring down my cheeks and trying to figure out some way to not make a scene. I was the only one. Everyone else listened compassionately like the mature normal people that they are.

Literal sobs were trying to burst from me when, I confess, I started pushing an older lady out of the way so I could get out.

I didn't even make it to my car before the sobs burst out. I was desperate to make it home - less than a mile away - but ended up parking down the block from my house with my heart just ripping out to God. I pleaded with God for these people, these situations. Later on, I was absolutely spent. I was broke again. For the next couple of days my heart still felt sore, wary, as I remembered how much of me hurt for these people.

And then throughout the rest of the week I felt the prickles of shame as I worked to not think about them, because I knew I didn't want to break for them again.

It's taken me a week and a half to tell this story. And there is only one reason I'm telling it now. Even as I worked to toughen up some, to not think about it, I knew I was struggling against faith as well.

As much as I'd like to think it would... faith doesn't have me protect myself. Not like this. Faith simply trusts the Father of my heart to help me pick up the pieces when I mourn for His people. If I can mourn for His people to such a broken extent, how much more does He mourn for His people? And if My Father, my Jesus, would mourn like that then He can certainly be trusted to help me as I mourn as well.

It'd be easier to just block their situations from my mind. But faith, faith doesn't allow that. Faith continually tells me that there is a God who can deliver the broken and hurting, the addicted and abused, the hopeless and the despairing. Faith tells me that, amazingly enough the God who can deliver, the God who can save, pays attention to me when I cry out to Him on these other peoples behalf. Faith tells me that my heart, my prayers, my words, can change things.

Faith tells me that the God who picked me up and set my feet on the solid rock - can do exceedingly and abundantly beyond what I can ask or think according to the power that worketh in us.

I believe that's why sometimes faith becomes a hard decision. Sometimes faith just comes naturally in some situations. But other times, you have to choose faith. When looking at the choice between not hurting over someone, and having faith that your hurt and prayer can change things - you have to make a choice.

And faith is always the right choice. Even when you're broken and soggy and spilling out all over your kleenex. Because faith changes things. Faith moves things. Faith brings victory where defeat has already been declared.

Faith is enough. More than enough.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Day 20b - The task of a Christian

“If you were to ask a Christian what his task is and by what he is worthy of the name Christian, there could be no other response than hearing the Word of God, that is faith. Ears are the only organs of the Christian.”

–Martin Luther, as quoted in Timothy George, Theology of the Reformers (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1988), 54

(From Tolle Lege)

Day 20 - Faith to change.

I've been in a lot of churches. As a preachers kid I learned about the 6 letter 4 letter word among my fellow Christians. That 6 letter 4 letter word is "Change".

I remember specifically a special fight between two women over the sound booth at church. I was too young to realize how not proud I should have been at that moment. But I still remember the conflict even years later.

We fight over song services a lot, the color of the walls, a change of carpeting, whether the organ is moved off the platform, whether the name of the church could be changed, and a plethora of other things - any things that concern change.

I get it. It's hard to change, whatever you're doing is comfortable. You know, that whatever you're doing is right, so especially when it comes to spiritual things you tend to worry that whatever you change to might be wrong. If what you're doing is right, then surely, doing anything different would be wrong - right?

Here is the terrific thing about trusting God, faith in God. Where He leads you, is good. When He presents the opportunity for a new person to take over the sound booth, or a new instrument to be introduced to your music section, or even gives you a good deal on new pews.... the change is for the better. It's just wonderful. It does change things and it's almost always challenging as well - but sometimes change.. oh that beautiful change can make you gasp in pleasure, reel in wonder, and simply delight in the fresh glow of opportunity. I've personally been blessed with 5 of the most wonderfully challenging blessings a person could ask for.

You can have faith for the change, that when it comes, you might be afraid, you might be worried, but you do it anyway. Regardless of the fear, the money issues, the conflict worries, the fact that your few friends might leave you... Gods intended change is always good.

And that's a beautiful thing.

It's easy to live life worrying, and doubting. Not fun, but easy. But that whole "t'is so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word, just to rest upon His promise, just to know thus saith the Lord" is absolutely true. Sweet. It's sweet, refreshing, delightful, restful, and exciting beyond the ability to rest.

It doesn't have to just be painful and scary, and disturbing. Trust. Have faith, that these things don't just happen. Have faith in God. Have faith for change. Have faith for things to be different than what you're used to. Have faith that God knows the outcome of the change even when you don't.
Have faith, that God never loses control of the situation/ministry/family even when it changes. He's there.
He's there when the two old ladies start fighting over the songs you're going to sing.
He's there when the two old men start fighting over what guest speakers should be allowed.
He's there when your youth group starts pushing for the electric guitar in the music section, and ask to turn up the volume.
He's there. He knows what to do. He knows what change should take place - and best of all - when it should take place.

He's there. Period. He's in change. Because even though the world changes, our methods of worship change, our songs change, our pews change, God doesn't change. All that stuff is just fluff to Him. He just wants our hearts. Worshipping Him with our whole heart, even when we don't understand. Worshipping Him with our whole heart, even when we're not sure of the song. Worshipping Him with our whole heart, even when our whole heart hurts.

God doesn't change. But He sure wants us to.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Day 19 - Faith to unclench.

I'll be lucky if the hard work I'm going to put into this post actually makes it to the blog. Something has happened in the last nineteen days. I've gained the faith, at least for the time being, (I tend to stumble a lot!) to unclench.

A story : The pearls
The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box.
"Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please?" Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face.
"A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you, and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."
As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill, and at last, she had enough money to buy the necklace.
Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere... Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.
Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story.
One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"
"Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you!"
"Then give me your pearls."
"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess, the white horse, from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember Daddy? The one you gave me. She's my favorite."
"That's okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with kiss.
About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"
"Daddy, you know I love you."
"Then give me your pearls."
"Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."
"That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you" And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.
A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek.
"What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?" Jenny didn't say anything, but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace.
With a little quiver, she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It's for you."
With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.

I'm absolutely certain I'm not the only person to do this, but sometimes there are things that no matter how clearly God speaks a direction - an addiction to something, an obsession to something, a desire for something, is just stronger than your ability to overcome.

We clench ourselves around it, and while God says "let it go" we seem to clench all the harder because we can't see what we're gaining - only what we're giving up. We clutch our fake pearls.

I've been clenched around something and suddenly, without even trying to let go I can feel the release. It's pretty terrific.

Even now though, unclenched, I look at what I've let go of and wonder "what if?" But at the same time, that clenched tight part of me is still willing to let it go. It's interesting. I tried a few months back to let it go and found myself more crazed than usual.

But my 'thing' doesn't look like your 'thing'. Yours might be drugs, or pornography, maybe it's control over someone or something; but either way God is ready to fill our hands with something better. He doesn't stand with the the real pearls and say "let's trade" instead He says "trust Me and let go"

And I guess in some cases, He just wants you to keep your eyes on Him so that you finally stop clenching onto things that weren't sustaining in the first place. And in return, well besides the relief of not being all clenched up over some foolish thing, you get a step closer to where God really wanted you to be in the first place.

Whatever it is you're holding onto, or - more so - whatever is holding onto you - I really believe standing for these last 20 days just forcing myself to speak faith, not doubt, not questions, not worries - has helped me let it go.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Paul

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Day 18 - Faith to not be naked.

I read a terrific post over at "Stuff Christians Like" and wanted to share it for these 40 days of faith.
The entire post is --- HERE.

But here's just a small snippet... ok, I couldn't find a good way to shrink it so it's a big snippet- so the title of my post doesn't freak you out.

#512 Thinking you're naked

What's wrong?" I asked.

"I don't want to wear that band-aid." She replied.

"Why? You have a cut, you need a band-aid." I said.

"I'll look silly." She answered.

Other than her sister and her mom, there was no one else in the yard. None of her friends were over, cars were not streaming passed our house and watching us play, the world was pretty empty at that moment. But for the first time I can remember, she felt shame. She had discovered shame. Somewhere, some how, this little 5 year old had learned to be afraid of looking silly. If I was smarter, if I had been better prepared for the transition from little toddler to little girl, I might have asked her this:

"Who told you that you were silly?"

I didn't though. That question didn't bloom in my head until much later and I didn't understand it until I saw God ask a similar question in Genesis 3:11. To me, this is one of the saddest and most profoundly beautiful verses in the entire Bible. Adam and Eve have fallen. The apple is a core. The snake has spoken. The dream appears crushed. As they hide from God under clothes they've hastily sewn together, He appears and asks them a simple question:

"Who told you that you were naked?"

There is hurt in God's voice as He asks this question, but there is also a deep sadness, the sense of a father holding a daughter that has for the first time ever, wrapped herself in shame.

Who told you that you were not enough?

Who told you that I didn't love you?

Who told you that there was something outside of me you needed?

Who told you that you were ugly?

Who told you that your dream was foolish?

Who told you that you would never have a child?

Who told you that you would never be a father?

Who told you that you weren't a good mother?

Who told you that without a job you aren't worth anything?

Who told you that you'll never know love again?

Who told you that this was all there is?

Who told you that you were naked?

I don't know when you discovered shame. I don’t know when you discovered that there were people that might think you are silly or dumb or not a good writer or a husband or a friend. I don't know what lies you've been told by other people or maybe even by yourself.

But in response to what you are hearing from everyone else, God is still asking the question, "Who told you that you were naked?"

And He's still asking us that question because we are not.

***click here to see the full post***

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Day 17 - Faith despite you.

I was cornered in the copy room today by a supervisor who wanted me to know that the reason he didn't get his paperwork turned in by the deadline was that "He had to be in 5 places at one time today, and it just wasn't possible."

After he left, I started thinking about the work load that most people there are struggling under, and how - typically, if you told any one of us that x amount had to be accomplished we'd easily inform you that "It just wasn't possible."

But it's amazing, how often the impossible is accomplished every single day. I accomplished the impossible today. And somehow, that same supervisor showed up less than an hour later with paperwork he swore could not be turned in within the next 24hrs.


And I wonder how often God gives us trials just so we can see that whatever impossible thing we don't think we can handle, cope with, endure,.... amazingly enough - we can. Like the song says "If I never had a problem, I wouldn't know that God could solve them... I'd never know what faith in God could do."

We imagine learning something through trials. But I don't think when I've ever thought of it, that I imagined I would simply learn what was right in front of me. The power, the ability, the grace, the healing, the hope... all right there in front of you just sitting there invisible though until pressure forces your eyes, and your heart to search harder.

It's faith despite you.

While you say you can't handle it, while you say you can't forgive, while you say you can't bear the hurt - God says, "Look in front of you." There is faith, there is hope, there is strength, there is grace. But without that pressure, you might never realize what is available. You might never realize the kind of God you have. The kind of God for every single situation you will encounter.

You wouldn't have chosen it for yourself... not at all. And you typically object to it every step of the way. But despite you, God shows you. Shows you how much you can trust Him. Shows you how deep that grace goes. Shows you what He can do for others as well.

If we were in charge of our own growth we'd be in trouble. But thankfully, God grows us, teaches us, and creates in us something beautiful and amazing - despite us.