Friday, December 31, 2010

Failure = Me

I was talking to some friends tonight and heard the word 'failure' come out of my mouth many times in the space of about 5 minutes.  And ... it's true. I feel like (and am) a complete and utter failure ...

... as a wife - my hubby is a better wife than I am.  He does the cleaning, laundry, cooking, kid bathing and bedtime.  I HATE cleaning (I can hear my mom in my head telling me everything I was doing wrong and re-doing it in front of me while yelling at me the entire time.) I can wait longer than he can on laundry - and let it sit in the dryer longer. kid bathing and bed - they prefer him. I feel more like a roommate than a wife ... it is my fault and just one of many areas I fail.

... as a mom - my kids prefer their daddy most of the time.  Recently they went to visit their grandparents for 5 nights in another state.  I didn't miss them. In fact, I wasn't ready for them to come home. Another friend commented that she didn't understand how I could let them go so far for so long. That just was another point to show that I am a failure as a mom.  Never mind the big one that God told me ... "I will let you carry this baby to term. Let him grow in your womb. but you are not good enough to be his mother so I am bringing him to heaven with me."  So much a failure that I couldn't even keep my only biological child.

... as a daughter - whenever we visit, I am reminded of what a failure I am in this area.  I didn't major in what I should have, I don't work enough now, I don't measure up to my little brother and his wife and their 3 (almost 4) biological children. I am a failure and a disappointment.

... as a sister - I don't know my brother. There are 10 years between us. He was almost 13 when I left home after college.  I had so much responsibility for him growing up, but now he is better than me in his eyes. my parents' eyes.  He sneezes on his wife and she's pregnant. I can't have a live baby. He has 2 law offices. I don't even work part time. He is total executer of my parent's estate. I am ... nothing.

... as a friend - I have been shutting out friends this year. It is easier to not talk to them. to not answer questions. than to face their pitying or worried looks.  I am the person that sucks the life out of a room. The one no one wants to be around because of this depression and dark cloud.  I would happily be there for them, but I don't want anyone too close to me in case I am contagious.  I am a failure in this area too.

... as a Christian - we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves.  How do you do this when you hate yourself?  I have so much head knowledge, but no trust in God's ability to help me. What kind of Christian am I if I don't have basic trust? Again - failure.

We tell the kids that if something is broken, we throw it away. What do you do with a broken person?


Knowing God - Revelation 21:2

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Revelation 21:2
Jesus' final promise of "new" is on the final pages of scripture. In this glorious passage, as he is pointing toward the eternal blessings of a New Jerusalem, Jesus promises, "5 Behold, I am making all things new."
One of my favorite quotes of all time bears the timeless wisdom of C. S. Lewis. He says, "If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. ... Aim at heaven and you will get earth "thrown in." Aim at earth and you will get neither."
That's a good and final suggestions for a New Year's resolution for 2011 -- Aim at heaven. Why? Because if you have an absolute confidence in the promise of heaven, the things of this earth, can never sink you. This coming year will have it's share of worldly trials, "but take heart!" said Jesus, "I have overcome the world."
In Christ's Love,
a guy who needs to sign up
for archery lessons
(I want to aim better)
I thought I was aiming at heaven. But I have poor aim (I always blame it on being a lefty!)  or don't know where to aim anymore. 

I long for heaven and can't wait to be there ... free from myself on earth, free from tears and pain, holding my baby alive, seeing my grandmothers. Wrapped safely in Jesus' arms. 

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Knowing God - Acts 2:13

But others sneered and said,
"They are filled with new wine."
Acts 2:13
The first time that "new" is mentioned in the book of Acts comes on Pentecost day. The Holy Spirit filled -- transformed -- the disciples. And the world sneered.
Here are two simple New Year's resolutions:
  • Pray that you may be filled with the Holy Spirit! How? Turn away from sin (confession). Turn toward God (obedience). Pray for his indwelling. And then don't fight it! Indeed, yield your whole life to the Spirit's movement and direction.
  • Quit caring what the world says. That was part two of the Pentecost power that the disciples discovered. Before the breathe of the Spirit, they were hiding. Jesus had just been killed, they were afraid they might be next, therefore, they hid. But when the Spirit came, they quit worrying about what the world might say or do. The world called them drunk. The world might call us overzealous. Who cares?! What if our New Year's Resolution was to have an audience of One?!
So ... where to start? What's your sticking point in the progression of discovering the Spirit's power?
  1. Sins to be confessed?
  2. Obeying God's commands and promptings?
  3. Actually, literally, asking to be filled?
  4. Yielding your whole life to God's leading -- rather than holding something back and fighting it.
  5. Going all in ... and not caring what the world might say, think, or do?!
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's power-hungry!
Sticking points:
1. There are always sins to be confessed.  What about forgiving? If I can't forgive God then should I keep searching?

2. How do you distinguish between God's promptings and lies when the lies are so much louder?

3. My 'cup' has been dust dry this year. I have asked over and over to be filled. And have either been ignored or when a little was poured in it quickly leaked out through the many cracks.

4. Yielding to God's leading? And have him break a promise and my heart again?

5. Going all in? (see #4) That requires a trust I do not have.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Knowing God - John 13:34

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you,
you also should love one another.
John 13:34
The first time  that "new" is mentioned in the Gospel of John is in terms of a New Commandment: Love One Another!
How many people do you know who think of Christianity as legalistic? Pharisees -- including you and me from time to time -- can easily turn religion into legalism. But Jesus proclaimed something wonderful and new! And it's the overwhelming principal behind all of the laws.
Think of the ten chief commands declared on Sinai. If we love one another, are we going to be stealing from them? bearing false witness against them? abusing or murdering them? No! And only in the most twisted sense would anyone ever pretend that loving one another justifies adultery.
Rather, if we simply and consistently loved, God's law would never be a burden ... just a reminder of the life and blessing which God wants to bestow on each of our lives.
That's pretty basic, right?
So let's put it into action. Who's the person you have most trouble loving? Loving the unlovable might be a powerful New Year's resolution. Why? Because if we can learn to love our public enemy number one, then maybe that will extend to loving others too and transforming US one relationship at a time.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to be a love machine
(but NOT in terms
of the crass old image from the 70s;
rather, looking more like Mother Theresa
whom even a sex-addicted world
acknowledged as a love machine) 
Who do I have the most trouble loving? Myself. Multiple times a day I catch myself thinking, "I hate myself."

However, I find it so easy to love others. To serve them. To care for them.

On the legalism front - I was raised in a very legalistic church. And guilt is very easy to come by. If I am given a task and don't complete it perfectly - guilt swallows me. If I let someone down ... or think I let someone down ... again - swallowed by guilt. If I think I was supposed to do something but them don't do it because I know I'll mess it up - guilt.
And then hating myself ... guilt. Not loving myself as Jesus did ... guilt.

Is it worth it to keep trying? To live mired in guilt. hate. loathing? (relax - just questions I'm pondering.)

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010


(SOJ Outdoor Sanctuary)
I love snow.  
Anyone who knows me knows that I much prefer a very snowy winter to any island beach in the world! My dream trip is a cruise to Antarctica.  

It started snowing on Christmas evening and by the next morning, everything was covered in a blanket of white.  It looked so clean. fresh. inviting. 

I know that the bible talks about making us white as snow.  But that pure whiteness is so fleeting. Snow gets marred and dirty so quickly. Animal tracks, cars stirring up dirt, people scooping up patching to make a snowman, fort or snowballs for an epic battle.  

I remember learning that a snowflake was ice crystals formed around a grain of dirt.  Something so beautiful. clean. pure. Made from dirt.  

As I was looking out at the beautiful scene from my window, I wished my life could easily look like that. cover up all the yuck and show only beauty. But then I was reminded of how much yuck there is and the fact that things are often nastier during the melt and realized that I only what the cover if it was permanent. 

I still love snow though and am ready for more!


Knowing God - Mark 1:27

They were all amazed,
and they kept on asking one another,
"What is this? A new teaching—with authority!
He commands even the unclean spirits,
and they obey him."
Mark 1:27
One of them more frequent words associated with Jesus' ministry was "new," and in the Gospel of Mark, the first "new thing" was his new teachings.
Jesus has so many new and wonderful teachings that even a few non-Christian religions call him a prophet. But ... don't mistake Jesus' main contribution to be adding a little more wisdom to the world. The most important words in this passage are "with authority."
In fact in the verses surrounding Mark 1:27, Jesus wasn't really teaching at all. He was simply saying to the evil spirits, "25 Be silent and come out." As I said, that's not a teaching. It's a command. In other words, what was new about Jesus was not the words ... but the power!
So what's new about this for your new year. Here's an idea for a resolution: Don't look for just the wisdom and teachings from the scripture. Seek to see God and faith more clearly as a source for real power! Try speaking to your doubts and objections, saying, "be silent and come out." And see if you might discover more hope, joy, peace, and power, by embracing truth.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants
to be amazed
I sometimes wonder if I am slowly going crazy. In my mind is an almost constant argument - if you read this blog with any regularity, you have read some of this argument I have.  In the past month or so, I have come to realize just how much this happens in my mind.  I have had many hours of discussions with Pastor and have had almost as many hours of arguing against when he says. Arguing against scripture. Arguing against what I know yet do not believe.  I have wished for a mute button. Prayed for long term memory loss. (or brain damage to quiet the arguments)  Sometimes they are so loud that I want to scream.  They have been so intense during bible studies that I find myself scribbling so hard on the paper that it tears.  Or ripping pages into tiny pieces. When the arguments are present during sermons, I find myself reciting the times tables, states in alphabetical order, anything to not let the argument surface.

if only it was as easy as commanding the thoughts to 'be quiet and come out'  Thing is - they always return ... even louder than before. so why bother?

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Knowing God - Matthew 9:17

Neither is new wine put into old wineskins;
otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled,
and the skins are destroyed;
but new wine is put into fresh wineskins,
and so both are preserved.
Matthew 9:17
When wine is first made, it is grape juice. Then with the passing of time, the grape juice spoils -- ferments is a nicer word for this. And with fermentation comes expansion. And if you put new wine (unexpanded grape juice) into an (old) wineskin that has already been stretched, it has no more capacity to stetch. Thus, the skins will burst. Therefore, new wine is put in new wine skins so that both can expand.
We are about to begin a new year. And the analogy here to life is obvious: If you have anything you really want to work on or change, you must change a lot of old habits that surround the area of life you want to work on.
If you're like me, there are plenty of problem areas that you want fixed, but how many of us aren't quite willing to change the habits that make it a problem. We need a new wineskin -- a new way and a new pattern in life.
Here's a new pattern that might just give you a new strength to meet many of these challenges: Make 2011 - The Year of the Bible. Plugging into God's Word is like plugging into a power outlet. The better we know him, the more power flows through our lives -- including the power to change! Therefore, pray about joining our Bible in a Year group and let God's Word shape each day in a richer way.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who acted too much like new wine
over Christmas -- I fermented and expanded
and my old wineskins (jeans) don't fit as well
(I guess I need some new habits this year!)
The only way to truly get a new wineskin in this life is to die.  But that is not accepted, or so I've been told.  Our culture doesn't truly support 'new habits' that need to be made. It seems that our culture in fact likes to watch people fail. New patterns don't really work when your life involves spouses, kids, pets, other people. As soon as you try to change, someone thwarts your hard work and you are back exactly where you were - or worse.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Knowing God - John 13:5

Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples' feet
John 13:5
As most of you know, my son Jay is a freshman this year at the United States Naval Academy. It's a very different kind of school. Therefore, my favorite text message from this fall was this:
The bad news is that I have a huge black eye.
The good news is that I got an "A" in boxing.
Today is known in many countries, like England, as "Boxing Day." It has nothing to do with hitting, sports, or black eyes; rather it is a day when, traditionally, the royalty and their servants traded jobs.
Jesus was royalty. When he washed his disciples feet, he reminded us that his whole life was "trading jobs." The king was always and continually a servant.
Today is Boxing Day. Who might you be called to serve this day?
In Christ's Love,
a guy who'd rather get an "A" in serving
than a black-eyed "A" in boxing
Sometimes, serving others is easy. I find it much easier to do for others. Clean someone else's house.  Help someone in need. Volunteer for people in need.  But when someone offers to help me, I (99% of the time) decline the offer.  I would much rather be the one giving than accepting.  It is much easier to wash someone else's feet than to humble myself enough to allow them to wash my feet. or help clean my house. or anything else that I likely really need.  I am not worthy enough to have someone else wash my feet or help me in anyway.

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Bah ...

I have not been able to find the Christmas Spirit this year.  I tried light shows, cantatas, many church services, music, giving, serving, live nativities, almost everything I could think of. My response to folks when they say, "Merry Christmas" is "Bah Humbug!"

Typically I am the one who wants the decorations up the day after Thanksgiving.  Am finished shopping and have everything wrapped by December 20. Have done the baking, candy making, card sending by the 24th.  This year - I am still up at 0230. And on the verge of the 2nd meltdown since 10pm.  I just want to crawl into bed and reappear in February.  But I can't.

In the morning we will get up. open stockings. make blueberry muffins. go to church in our jammies. come home. open presents. cook an obnoxious amount of food. watch movies. and get things ready to go to family on Sunday.

Is that Christmas? Craziness and chaos?  I thought it was supposed to be about the hope of a newborn babe. All the expectation of a new birth. The dreams. The love. the Forgiveness.  There is none of that. Where is the hope? The love?

I am tired. constantly. but now I will try to at least get some sleep for the physical exhaustion ... one of those nights where I will drift off with a damp pillow while trying not to disturb the amazingly patient man sleeping next me. for a few hours before I have to be happy and connected mom for the kids again.

Happy Birthday Jesus. I will never understand why you did what you did.


Knowing God - Luke 2:12

Ye shall find the babe
wrapped in swaddling clothes,
lying in a manger
Luke 2:12
"To swaddle" is "to tie tight, to bind."
Traditionally, only two types of bodies were ever swaddled -- a new born infant and a dead man in grave clothes.
Christmas is a sweet day with the fragrance of a new born babe. But take a moment to contemplate also the trajectory of this young life. From the moment Jesus first drew breath, he was bound for death.
The same is true for you and me. From the moment we first draw breath, we are bound for death. It is inevitable ... except not. Because this babe gave his life, our life never has to end.
Christmas is Easter. Your sins are forgiven. And the joy with which every child greeted this day is the joy you can greet each morning of eternity.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's been swaddled
in blessings this year
(Merry Christmas!)

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Knowing God - Psalm 92:2

to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night
Psalm 92:2
I looked today for another first -- the first time love is mentioned in the Psalms. And what I immediately noticed was that "God's love" rarely appears in such an unadorned state. One hundred and twenty times, the Psalmists make sure that we remember that God's heart is filled with "steadfast love."
"Steadfast" means fixed in intensity and unwavering in purpose. Or in other words, God's love is intense, unwavering, and his sole purpose.
"Morning," "night," and "declare it" are the other key words in this passage.
Tonight is Christmas Eve. The angels used this occasion to proclaim God's steadfast love and faithfulness. In whatever contexts you find yourself in tonight, I encourage you to make proclaiming God's love your steadfast endeavor too.
And as Christmas Morn dawn, join again with the chorus of heaven, "Joy to the World, the Lord is come!"
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wishes you
the merriest, holiest
Christmas ever

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Knowing God - Isaiah 5:1

Let me sing for my beloved
my love-song concerning his vineyard:
"My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill."
Isaiah 5:1
The first time that love is mentioned by the prophets comes to us as a love-song. God has established a kingdom on this violent planet. He calls it his vineyard, and with his love and nurturing, he rightly anticipates a yield of savory fruit. "So why," cries the master gardener, "why did it yield wild grapes?"
I'll bet that just about all of us can confess a few wild oats that were sown and a few wild grapes that have been harvested. Most of the world laughs at sin. But in doing so we mock the cross -- which is the one and only remedy for sin.
Jesus invites us to think of the cross as the solid healthy stem that is called the vine. In John 15:5, Jesus says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit."
What is abiding in Christ? Jesus says, "10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love."
But what happens if we don't abide in Christ? Jesus says, "6 whoever does not abide in me [will be] like a branch [that] withers. [It will be] thrown away." In our house and as parents, we call that a consequence. Isaiah 5 lists other consequences. Indeed, the prophet warns us that wild oats and wild grapes will cause God to "remove [the] hedge" -- his hedge of protection. With a "br[oken] down ... wall" and "no[] ... prun[ing]" and "no rain," future success will be even harder.
Winter is generally the season in which we think about grapes, vines, and gardening the least. And yet winter is the season in which the Christ child comes to us new again. He comes not as a threatening king with pruning shears but as an a humble infant that invites us to hold him in our hearts.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who now has an excuse 
to eat a lot of fruitcake
(if that doesn't remind me 
to bear much fruit
maybe having to shed the pounds
of fruit cake will remind me
all next year)
Winter is a season of death. loneliness. 'Abiding in Christ' is not always possible. Right now - despite obeying his commands, God has removed his hand. Vineyards on a fertile hill? The crop can still die just before harvest.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Knowing God - Genesis 27:4

And make me savoury meat, such as I love,
and bring it to me, that I may eat;
that my soul may bless thee before I die.
Genesis 27:4
I decided to look for the first time the word "love" appeared. I happened to be surfing in the old King James. 
The first time that love appears in the Bible has nothing to do with God loving us ... or us loving God ... or a husband loving a wife ... or person loving their neighbor. It's about Isaac loving meat.
I looked then in the New Revised Standard, and the first time love was mentioned involved Isaac almost becoming meat! God said to Isaac's father Abraham, "22:4 Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love ... and offer him ... as a burnt offering."
What does this have to do with Christmas? On Mount Mariah, God was teaching Abraham -- and every successive generation -- an important lesson. All the other gods and religions demanded human blood and child sacrifice. Our God does not. He provides an alternative. On Mount Mariah, it was a ram. On Mount Calvary, it was The Lamb -- Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. He died so we don't have to.
This Christmas season will surely be filled with all kinds of foods that we "love." Enjoy them. But let them remind you of what is really savoury -- Christ's self-giving love.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who loves Chex Mix
so much at Christmas that
someone once made us a decoration
out of a Chex Mix bag!
I think this also proves that God is NOT a vegetarian!

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Knowing God - Matthew 5:44


But I say to you,
Love your enemies and
pray for those who persecute you
Matthew 5:44
Today's devotion is simple: Who's your enemy?
Few of us are in a literal war. But most of us have been offended. We've been belittled, abused, and stabbed in the back? Who's your greatest enemy?
Life's a battle. But Jesus has given to us the one and only way to be at peace: forgiveness.
Now, when a person's an enemy -- and I know, I know, it's always their fault -- forgiveness is very hard. So Jesus gives us a first and powerful step: "Pray for th[em]."
Praying -- one day at a time -- probably won't bring that wall of division down in one fell swoop. Nevertheless -- one prayer at a time -- we're removing bricks. Soon that wall is not so imposing. Soon that divide is not so vast. Soon God's call to love is looking more possible. And soon life is more peaceful.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who knows
that Christmas is better
with fewer walls
If forgiveness is the only way to peace, then I don't know if I will ever have peace.  I am my own worst enemy. That is a wall that will not come down easily - if at all.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Knowing God - 1 John 3:16


We know love by this,
that he laid down his life for us—
and we ought to lay down
our lives for one another.
1 John 3:16
We all know John 3:16, but did you know how the equal power of FIRST JOHN 3:16?
In John 3:16, we are told how much the Father loves -- enough to give his only begotten son. In FIRSTJOHN 3:16, we are reminded how much the Son loves us too -- enough to lay down his life.
FIRST JOHN 3:16, you may recognize, is a rephrasing of Jesus' own words. In John 15:13, our Savior said, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." Indeed, he said it, then he did it.
Whenever I hear that verse, I can't help but think that one of the young men in our church had that tatooed on his bicep. When? Just before he was deployed to Afghanistan. "No one has greater lovethan this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."
In this week of love (and hopefully homecomings for some of you), please pray for our service men and women -- especially Adam in Afghanistan -- who are away from home this holiday season and in harm's way. "God, keep them safe. And bring a swift end to tyranny and terrorism."
In Christ's Love,
a guy who knows his own son
will someday be deployed
... I have nothing ... except thankfulness for being a military wife, daughter, grand-daughter, great-grand-daughter, niece, friend ...

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Knowing God - ????

Today, I'm not starting with the verse. Rather, I want you to guess the verse ...
Here's a few hints ...
  1. It's one of the most powerful Christmas verses of all time -- though it's not generally thought of as a Christmas verse at all.
  2. It talks about the relationship Jesus has with his Father and that his Father has with him.
  3. It talks about the relationship we can have with Jesus and how long the fruits of this relationship will be.
  4. As this final week of Advent dawns -- a week of love -- God's love for us is the centerpiece of this verse.
Have you figured it out yet?
See below ...
For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16
Read this powerful -- but almost all too familiar verse -- in light of these four clues:
  1. Read this as a Christmas verse. Doesn't that transform your view of Christmas. The greatest gift of Christmas -- given generously by God -- is a child, gift-wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. God's generous gift is his very own Son.
  2. Witness the relationship of Holy Son to Heavenly Father -- loving submission to the Father who loves.
  3. Respond to the powerful invitation to relationship with Jesus -- belief is both the key to relationship and the life-line that keeps us from eternal death.
  4. Finally, let God's love be the centerpiece of your faith ... your life ... and your Christmas.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants of centerpiece in my heart
instead of on my dining room table
Why does he love us? How do we gain belief when there is so much fear, doubt and untrust?

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

I Will Find A Way - song

I recently went to a concert and 'discovered' an artist that I hadn't heard before.  Here is one of his songs.  I am always a little unnerved when song lyrics echo exact words or thoughts I have said ... especially when they have been outloud and recent.  

I Will Find A Way
Jason Gray & Andrew Gullahorn
At the end of this run down tenement hall
Is the room of a girl I know
She cowers behind all the dead bolt locks
Afraid of the outside world

So how should I come to the one I love
I will find a way

Many thieves and collectors have used that door
But they only brought her shame
So she won’t even open it anymore
Still I will find a way

I could call out her name with love through the walls
But condemnation is all she hears
I could break down the door and take her into my arms
But she might die from the fear

So how should I come to the one I love
I will find a way, I will find a way
How should I come to the one I love
I will find a way

No hiding place ever kept her safe
So she hides inside herself
Now to reach her heart the only way
Is to hide in there as well
I will hide in there as well

She gave up on love waiting for a change
But a change is coming soon
Cause how could she not love the helpless babe
Who is waking in her womb

I found a way
She’ll know I am coming before I am here
When she hangs her head she’ll see me there
And then when I come she won’t turn away
All the beauty and joy will return to her face
And what of the loneliness? Now it is gone
Lost in the bond of the mother and son
Every sin that she suffered at the hands of men
Every single disgrace will be washed clean again
I will love her completely and when I am grown
I will carry her out of that tenement room
I am doing a new thing and soon you will see
I am coming among you and my name shall be
Emmanuel, Emmanuel


Knowing God - 2 Corinthians 1:10

He who rescued us
from so deadly a peril
will continue to rescue us;
on him we have set our hope
that he will rescue us again
2 Corinthians 1:10
One of the secrets to happiness is ... thanksgiving.
Instead of constantly bemoaning the frustrations, happiness and joy come through a celebration of life's blessings. In fact, I've seen some happy people make an ongoing list of all the things they're thankful for.
Apparently, hope works the same way.
In our verse for today, Paul has a made a list of all the things that God has rescued him from. For example, in verses 8 and 9, he talks about "the affliction we experienced in Asia." He says, "we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself."
Nevertheless, Paul saw spiritual fruit in the midst of human desperation. "So that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead," Paul says that they were given a "sentence of death." Have you ever been there? From a human standpoint, have things ever seemed utterly hopeless?
Paul's ongoing list of life's desperate trials (and God's gracious rescues) leads him to proclaim to himself -- and to you and me -- that "on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again."
For the sake of joy ... for the sake of hope ... why don't you make a list today?! Think of every way that God has blessed you and rescued you. Thank him for the big things and ask him to give you eyes to see the little things. He's more present and powerful than you might imagine.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who'd rather make this list
and check it twice
than to worry about who's
been naughty or nice
Does that really work? I have tried before and then end up feeling guiltier and more worthless than before for not being thankful enough. for being so depressed for now good reason. And then I am guilty of not being able to see the good and hope that others say is all around.  Does it really work?

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Power of an Envelope

Our church announced a ministry opportunity last week.  They had set aside a certain amount of money and placed it in envelopes. The envelopes contained various amounts and were sealed.  Our instructions were to take one and give it away to someone before Christmas.  

My husband reluctantly picked up an envelope last Sunday for our family and I stuck it in my bag.  Then forgot about it. My brain has been mush lately when it comes to remembering stuff that I need to remember.  On Thursday nights I go to a bible study in another part of town.  I have been in this study with 4 other women since June and we have grown pretty close to each other during this time, but have no interaction otherwise.  

While driving there on Thursday a thought 'popped' into my head, "Give the envelope to X."  I just shook my head a little and (as I often do when these quiet thoughts pop into my head) ignored it.  Again. "Give the envelope to X."  Then I said out loud "What envelope?"  I could not figure out where the thought was coming from and what it was talking about. "Give the Spirit of Joy envelope in your bag to X." Oh yea. that envelope. I had completely forgotten it was in my bag and chances are it could have sat there until February when I cleaned the silly thing out...then I would have just given it to someone.  

After study I handed X the envelope and told her I had no idea what was in it, but that I knew she was to get the envelope.  She has been having a rough year like so many. Tears popped into her eyes and she gave me a hug. I reciprocated with both arms (I'm typically a one arm hugger - especially lately.)  I haven't talked to X since I gave her the envelope, but several other things happened ... 

1. I obeyed that quiet thought. And there were a few moments of peace that the other gals noticed initially on my face but it faded as the night continued.  (And the arguments got louder in my mind again.)

2. My husband pointed out to me that I wasn't such a humbug as I thought if I could LISTEN to GOD AND follow through. (HA! I still say, "Bah Humbug!!!)

3. For a few brief seconds I felt blessed to give. Worthy of sharing this gift. Chosen for this task in this moment. Successful for listening and following through.  and loved ... before actually giving her the envelope.  Then my current reality returned. 

Maybe a few cracks in the wall? For simply giving away a sealed envelope.


Knowing God - Romans 5:3-5


And not only that,
but we also boast in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope, 
and hope does not disappoint us,
because God's love has been poured into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Romans 5:3-5
This is our week of hopefulness, and according to St. Paul, what produces hope?
Endurance. And character.
Now, I thought long and hard about this, and I decided not to say, "suffering, endurance, and character." Why? Because I decided I'd rather learn to endure without too much suffering!!!
Endurance, you see, is a long-obedience in the same direction. (I saw that once as the title for a Christian book, but that's what endurance is.)
Think about this:
  • In this world of sin, there will inevitably be pain and betrayal.
  • In this world of death, there will inevitably be illness and grief.
  • In this world of gravity there will necessarily be spills and falls and broken bones and broken hearts. 
When we're praying for hope, we don't need to hope for suffering as the trigger to this linear process. Suffering is simply inevitable.
Nevertheless, when we endure -- obey long and steadfastly in an unwavering direction -- we will have hearts that are steady and a faith that is true -- call this character. We will also have an unwavering hope that does not disappoint us.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who needs a compass
(I want to obey long-term
in a single, holy direction
I don't have the strength to keep up the endurance and I am tired of 'character building!'

Yes - suffering is inevitable, but endurance takes a level of strength and perseverance that not everyone is able to tolerate for perform.  Hope will always disappoint. Faith will always waiver.

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'My King' Prayer

My King
By Dr. S.M. Lockridge

My King was born King.
The Bible says He's a Seven Way King.
He's the King of the Jews - that's a racial King.
He's the King of Israel - that's a National King.
He's the King of righteousness.
He's the King of the ages.
He's the King of Heaven.
He's the King of glory.
He's the King of kings and 
He is the Lord of lords.
Now that's my King.

Well I wonder if you know Him. 
Do you know Him? 
Don't try to mislead me. 
Do you know my King?

David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, 
and the firmament show His handiwork.

My King is the only one whom there are no means of measure can define His limitless love.
No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shore of supplies.
No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.

Well, well, He's enduringly strong.
He's entirely sincere.
He's eternally steadfast.
He's immortally graceful.
He's imperially powerful.
He's impartially merciful.
That's my King.

He's God's Son.
He's the sinner's saviour.
He's the centrepiece of civilization.
He stands alone in Himself.
He's honest.
He's unique.
He's unparalleled.
He's unprecedented.
He's supreme.
He's pre-eminent.

Well, He's the grandest idea in literature.
He's the highest personality in philosophy.
He's the supreme problem in high criticism.
He's the fundamental doctrine of proved theology.
He's the carnal necessity of spiritual religion.
That's my King.

He's the miracle of the age.
He's the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him.

Well, He's the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously.
He supplies strength for the weak.
He's available for the tempted and the tried.
He sympathizes and He saves.
He's strong God and He guides.
He heals the sick.
He cleanses the lepers.
He forgives sinners.
He discharged debtors.
He delivers the captives.
He defends the feeble.
He blesses the young.
He serves the unfortunate.
He regards the aged.
He rewards the diligent and 
He beautifies the meek.

Do you know Him?

Well, my King is a King of knowledge.
He's the wellspring of wisdom.
He's the doorway of deliverance.
He's the pathway of peace.
He's the roadway of righteousness.
He's the highway of holiness.
He's the gateway of glory.
He's the master of the mighty.
He's the captain of the conquerors.
He's the head of the heroes.
He's the leader of the legislatures.
He's the overseer of the overcomers.
He's the governor of governors.
He's the prince of princes.
He's the King of kings and 
He's the Lord of lords.

That's my King. Yeah. Yeah.
That's my King. My King, yeah.

His office is manifold.
His promise is sure.
His light is matchless.
His goodness is limitless.
His mercy is everlasting.
His love never changes.
His Word is enough.
His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous.
His yoke is easy and 
His burden is light.

Well. I wish I could describe Him to you, 
but He's indescribable. 
He's indescribable.

Yes. He's incomprehensible.
He's invincible.
He's irresistible.
I'm coming to tell you, 
the heavens of heavens cannot contain Him, 
let alone a man explaining Him.
You can't get Him out of your mind.
You can't get Him off of your hands.
You can't outlive Him and you can't live without Him.

Well, Pharisees couldn't stand Him, 
but they found out they couldn't stop Him.
Pilot couldn't find any fault in Him.
The witnesses couldn't get their testimonies to agree.
Herod couldn't kill Him.
Death couldn't handle Him and 
the grave couldn't hold Him.
That's my King. Yeah.

He always has been and 
He always will be.
I'm talking about He had no predecessor and 
He'll have no successor.
There's nobody before Him and 
there'll be nobody after Him.
You can't impeach Him and
 He's not going to resign.
That's my King! That's my King!

Thine is the kingdom and 
the power and 
the glory.
Well, all the power belongs to my King.
We're around here talking about black power and 
white power and 
green power, but 
it's God's power.
Thine is the power. Yeah. 
And the glory.
We try to get prestige and honour and glory for ourselves, 
but the glory is all His.
Yes. Thine is the Kingdom and 
the power and 
forever and ever and ever and ever. 
How long is that? 
And ever and ever and ever and ever. 
And when you get through with all of the evers, then,


(but how do you really know and believe it is more than words?)